Speed.

We have a Windows 10 gaming computer in the house. We’ve had it for about a year and over the past several months I’ve been accumulating the necessary equipment to build a decent Flight Simulator. Today I upgraded the hard drive from an traditional style “spinny” (it’s an industry term) hard drive to an SSD, or Solid State Drive. SSDs are several magnitudes faster than the older drives in performance. Our Windows 10 computer now boots up in less than 20 seconds, before it used to take over five minutes to get settled down.

I just played around with X-Plane 11 under the new setup and it’s like playing on a completely different computer. Of course, I’m still getting used to flying a virtual airplane, as I still need to get more control panels and the like so I don’t have to remember to hit “b” repeatedly to try to release the brakes, but I’m getting there. Since I have X-Plane to simulate local meteorological conditions when I fly, I’m always flying at night.

I’ll have to give it a go in the daylight this weekend, since the weather is projected to be too cloudy for actual flying this weekend.

I’ll take what I can get. And with the new hard drive, I’ll take what I can get faster.

Bon Bon Voyage.

My first cousin once removed, Devin, and her girlfriend Jade are building their first home together. Their new home is a renovated school bus. They’ve traveled the world together, now they’re traveling the country together.

I think this is awesome.

Feel free to follow their adventures at their blog BonBonVoyage.

Distraction.

I was never a fan of “Glee”, but I have always been impressed by this performance. Here’s “River Deep, Mountain High”. I feel like we all need the distraction today.

TeeVee.

Photo from extremetech.com

When did we decide as a society to start putting television *everywhere*. I mean, I grew up with a television in the family room and the living room. The family room television was always on. Grandma and Grandpa City had a small black and white in the kitchen to supplement the color set in the living room. The black and white television was used for the news during the supper hour. Farmers Sam and Irma had a television in their kitchen mounted in a special cabinet above the refrigerator. Grandma and Grandpa Country had a Zenith in the living room and a smaller Zenith in the bedroom. Both had antennas with a rotor on it. Face it northwest to pull in Canada.

But when did we decide that we needed a television in every convenience store, on every fuel pump, in cash register displays, and in every inch of an airport terminal?

My husband and I stopped at a convenience store for varying needs during a ride over the weekend. I was instantly thrown into a foul mood because the television was blaring weird conspiracy theories about the recent Domestic Terrorist attacks on the Capitol Building. I looked around and no one was watching but wow, was that television loud. I then filled the tank in our Jeep Cherokee as the gas pump screamed entertainment news from a service called Cheddar. The fact that we now have 7-inch full color display screens on a gas pump to scream television at someone with access to highly flammable liquid just seems weird to me.

I think this moved happened right after 9/11. Before then, one of our favorite haunts was a decent restaurant with good food. After 9/11 it still was a decent restaurant with good food, but televisions were installed all over the place and they were tuned to CNN. Ever since then I’ve noticed diners now have TVs installed in the corners of the dining rooms, supermarkets have televisions talking at your while you’re at the checkouts, and the aforementioned gas pumps no longer let you put a tiger in your tank in peace.

It’s annoying.

A while back I included in a Yelp review of a Chicagoland diner the fact that their televisions were tuned to Fox News and I found it annoying. When Sean Hannity is interrupting my dinerlicious French Onion Soup, we have a problem. I wouldn’t even put up with Rachel Maddow interrupting a culinary experience. It’s completely unnecessary.

Televisions all over the place may have made sense in the days after 9/11 but before the proliferation of smartphones. They were probably put up there to keep people informed in the event of something happening after but in the spirit of 9/11. But with everyone having a smartphone in their pocket, we are instantly notified of way too much information today. Tweets, EAS notifications, Facebook, and all the news service apps that blast out “breaking news” every 10 minutes notify everyone all the time. If something big happens again, and believe me, there’s a shoe waiting to drop on that, we’ll all know about it when everyone’s phone starts reacting at once and we all notice the commotion. The thing is, we’ll get that information but the avenue we have chosen, instead of the news channel that’s being force fed to us through installed televisions in every nook and cranny of our existence.

What’s next? News updates over the new electronic road signs popping up on our expressways? Wow I hope not.

Maintaining Perspective.

So this weekend’s ride across the prairie took us on rural “Chicago Road” from southeast of Dixon, Illinois all the way back to the western suburbs of the Windy City. At times the road was clear, at other times we were driving along hard packed snow with hints of brown sand to keep things from getting too slippery.

Even though we’ve done it a lot during the pandemic, I do enjoy these rides across the farmland and Illinois prairie. Living in the big city is exciting but as a guy that grew up in a pretty rural area of Upstate New York, I can sometimes be overwhelmed by the amount of “input” I get from urban life.

We drove through several small towns during our journey, and two of them stood out to me. It was too dark to take photos (I need to upgrade my iPhone to something with “night vision” or whatever it’s called), but Lee Center, Illinois looked like it was at one time a charming small town. It’s reminiscent of the hamlet near the house my dad built. Like that hamlet, Lee Center looks a little forgotten. This makes me sad.

We also passed through Paw Paw. There was a little more activity: a small supermarket, a convenience store, and a couple of store fronts. There was a few more signs of life but it too felt like it was a little forgotten. Maybe folks there want it that way. I don’t know.

I do know I find the farm pictured above quite charming. The simplicity of the landscape gives me peace.

Safety.

Before moving to Chicago nearly four years ago, we lived in Upstate New York near Utica. Located somewhat close to the geographic center of New York State, the township was the site of many high voltage distribution lines coming together at a very large switching yard a few of miles from the house. Marching northward from the switching yard, toward the Canadian border where power flowed from Hydro Quebec, was one of the highest voltage lines in the nation, a single 765kV circuit. On more than one occasion I took a couple of fluorescent light bulbs along for the ride and stood underneath the buzzing lines. The light bulbs lit up in my hand. Turns out I wrote about one of my field trips, back in 2012.

Back in 1980, Ralph Waite (from “The Waltons”) starred in a movie called “Ohms”. The drama addressed concerns a farmer has about the power lines being built across his farmland. I watched the movie with great interest; it was one of the first times my mom and dad let me stay up until 11:00 PM. My dad made the final decision, since he knew I was very interested in these things and was fascinated with the movie. He watched it with me. There’s a brief clip from the movie on YouTube.

During one of our rides over the summer, I noticed a high voltage power line passing pretty close to a residential sub-division in Channahon, Illinois. As we drove along US 6 I said to my husband, “those power lines are really close to those houses. I’m surprised they built the houses *that* close”.

He mentioned it must have been an optical illusion since we were over a half mile away from where I spotted the power lines, so we drove around the subdivision and surrounding area and concluded that no, they were really close.

While researching other power lines I spotted during today’s ride, I found this photo on the Internet. These were the power lines I was referring to back during our ride over the summer.

Photo from electrical-engineering-portal.com

Here’s some perspective from a satellite view.

The housing development seems rather new so I wandered around on Google a bit to see if there was any discussion about the houses being so close to these power lines, but I haven’t been able to find anything. Now, I have no investment in any of this other than a dorky interest in the subject, but I’m still quite surprised at how close the residences are to this (seemingly) 765kV power line. Side note: I haven’t confirmed the voltage of these lines, they could be 365kV or 500kV, but the size of the towers seem to be the higher 765kV, but I don’t know this for sure.

I don’t know if there have ever been any conclusive studies on the health effects of prolonged exposure to these high powered transmission lines. I know I’m fascinated by them and have been around them on and off for years, but I have little interest in living close to them. Would I farm under them? Probably. Would I swim in a pool near them? Probably not.

The reason I went down this rabbit hole is because I realized that I’ve been in all 50 states and while I certainly haven’t seen every single power transmission circuit in the country, I don’t think that I’ve seen towers with such big “cat ears” like we have here in Illinois.

Today I took a photo of a glimpse of a sunset today, with a 345kV circuit crossing the Illinois prairie along the way.

Expelled.

Twitter suspended Donald Trump’s account. Permanently. He’s done on Twitter.

Facebook did the same thing yesterday.

Both Apple and Google have warned the owner of the Parler app they need to clean up their platform, pronto, else they’re kicked out of Apple and Google devices.

Let the sun shine in.

Climb.

Everyone tries to get in shape at this time of the year. I do the same thing, though this week has been a little tricky with the need for exercise combatting the need to sleep and need to stress eat. Stress eating is fun! Are McRibs still around?

I’ve been avoiding the building elevator and walking the stairs instead. I don’t know if this helps a great deal but it makes me feel like I’m going to pass out after I walk up to our condo. I often hear about “runner’s highs” and “hitting the wall” but I just skip over that part and tinker on unconsciousness instead.

I don’t know if I’m burning many more calories this way but I feel like my already strong legs could probably push a Volkswagen or Karmann Ghia across a parking lot.

Angry.

Photo courtesy of CNN.

So last night, after watching hours of news coverage of the insurrection going on at the Capitol Building and then watching the Senate and House proceedings on certifying the vote, I wrote a quick blog entry that was vague. I talked about failure, and shock, and success.

I am very angry.

My mind has been blown since Trump took office four years ago. My mind was actually blown long before he won the Republican Primary. Anyone with any sense or moral foundation knew that a Trump Presidential Administration was going to be an absolute disaster. Yesterday was just the icing on the a feces laden cake we’ve been forced to deal with since this idiot took office.

But thing that blows me away is how rabid his supporters have become. Members residing on my branch of the family tree are so whacked out in love with the guy, and this leaves me stupefied. Four years later, after seeing praise and piety and whatever other word that means “what the fuck” that begins with a “p” heaped onto this guy from the strongest “Christians” on the family tree has me baffled. I thought I was related to stable people. There are too many lunatics in my bloody relations.

However, I like to think that those few around me are not nearly as nuts as the complete and utter idiots that stormed the Capitol Building yesterday. There’s a video of some chick named Elizabeth talking about a revolution but crying because she got some mace in the eyes. I’m surprised the Capitol Police found the time to mace this woman. They didn’t seem very interested in protecting the place; there’s too many video clips and photos of police officers taking selfies with these criminals or opening gates to let them have access to the building. The entire Capitol Police Force needs to be stripped from the top all the way to the bottom. The chief resigned. It’s a start.

Folks are frustrated. I get that. But in no way was Donald Trump ever the answer to this problem. The man has been a television punch line for decades. The man has bankrupted casinos. And not only did millions of Americans find him worthy of the Oval Office in 2016, 70 million American still think he’s doing well enough to get another chance to burn the entire country down to the ground over the next four years.

What the fuck is wrong with you people? Are your lives so miserable that you want everyone else to suffer to make you feel better over your stupefied, miserable, unsuccessful lives?

I’ve been too quiet for too long about politics, especially here on my blog. Yes, I love talking about all aspects of life here, but for life to be pleasant we have to have a strong foundation. Am I thrilled about Joe Biden as President? Meh, I think he’ll do fine. I find Kamala a refreshing breath of Gen-X in a decidedly Baby Boomer game. The thing I’m most excited about is Georgia swinging blue in the Senate yesterday. This is going to be interesting. And ironically, we have Trump’s asshattery to thank for that. But more importantly, I feel like the country may have turned a corner. I think yesterday’s abomination and blight on our history may have pushed enough people in the right direction to get things swung back over towards something that resembles sanity.

I’ll be following politics closely. I want to know what’s going on. And I want to do everything I can as Joe Citizen to help push the country finally into the 21st century. We’re already 21 years into the 21st century and we ain’t got squat to show for it.

Let’s do this.