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Delete.

I went ahead and deleted my primary Twitter account today. I have more than one Twitter account, but the one I call the primary account is the one that’s been around since 2007 when I used to tweet by text message on a flip phone. I wasn’t a superstar in anyway; I had only a little over 1200 followers. I had tweeted approximately 46,000 times.

My Twitter feed has become incredibly noisy. A lot of the noise was due to my own actions; when motivated I can belch out some pretty nasty tweets in response to what I perceive to be idiocy. I’m perceiving a lot of idiocy these days, and have been since the election season of 2016, but that’s no excuse for me spewing out some of the stuff I’ve put in tweets since Trump took office.

I started out by deleting my tweets, but that’s not an easy thing to do. Twitter makes it a tedious experience at best. There are third party services that can bulk delete tweets but I’m not shelling out money to a company just to undo my doings so I decided to just go ahead and delete the whole damn account.

It was one of the most liberating experiences I’ve had in a while.

I’ve had my “quiet” account for a little over a year and I intend on keeping it quiet. The focus is extremely narrow. I’m being very selective as to who I’m following. I don’t have Twitter on my phone at all.

Another reason for my nuking my account was because of recent actions of Twitter around censorship. Trump can spout out the craziest things, many of them damaging and/or simply completely untrue, but Trump is the gravy train for Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and friends, so they’ll never treat Trump like the other users on the platform. It’s a burning bin of hypocrisy that’s pretty much destroying democracy, but hey, Jack and friends have enough money to travel the world ten times over while enjoying a bath in a bucket of ice.

There are such better ways to do eccentricity.

So don’t go looking for me on Twitter. I’m not there in a meaningful way anymore.

And that’s what I call progress.

Priorities.

This COVID-19 pandemic has given us the opportunity to slow down and reflect on our own priorities. I know I’ve been much more reflective and there are some aspects of pandemic life that I’m actually enjoying. We eat at home more, we’re spending more time together, I cherish family time, and I’ve been in more consistent contact with my family back East.

This readjustment of life has also given me a better perspective of life in Chicago. Is The Windy City as appealing when everything is closed down? Are summers as memorable when there’s no street fairs, no block parties, or no rides on a boat on the Lake?

Life is what you make of it.

I’m not willing to risk my health or the health of my family just to sit in a corner pub to eat some grub and have some drinks. I value my life, and the life of those I love, more than that. Yes, I would be happy if my husband would finally get a haircut, but I don’t want him to contract Coronavirus just to have shorter hair. We’ll get through and maybe one of these days he’ll actually let me near his head with my Oster 76 clippers.

I don’t like seeing my airline pilots friend out of work. It breaks my heart. But I have to admit I’m not sad about less pollution in the air. Does everyone need to fly everywhere? It’s nice to travel to far off places but in most cases it’s not necessary.

Maybe if we start seeing this pandemic as an opportunity to slow down and take stock of our priorities we’ll find some good and learn something along the way.

I know this experience has changed me. If anything, I hope it’s made me a better person.

The Power of Wonder.

I’ve always had a small fascination with power lines. More specifically, the larger transmission lines that criss-cross the country side in hundreds of multiples of kilovolts. Years ago, searching the Internet on the history of a specific design of transmission tower, I stumbled across this photo from the 1950s. It was a publicity photo for the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation.

Through some clever deduction via Google Maps. I was able to find this location and I wrote about that experience here. On that blog entry you’ll see a photo I took approximating the vibe of the two ladies shown in the photo above. My husband snapped this photo with my iPhone back in early 2016.

I always liked this photo of me, as I feel like it conveys a certain type of energy I see within myself.

The design of the transmission towers shown in both photos seems to be confined to Upstate New York, mostly in the footprint of the former Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation. I haven’t come across that exact design in any of the other 50 states.

Since moving to Illinois in 2017 I’ve wanted to capture the same type of energy I see in my photo above but on the Illinois landscape. Today on our road trip, my husband used my iPhone to take this photo.

I kept a small amount of color in this 2020 photograph because I liked the look of the hint of green in the field. The transmission towers seen here are similar to others found throughout the United States, except they have “cat ears” on top instead of the typical smaller supports for the ground wires elsewhere in the country.

As I was standing under these lines (which I believe are carrying 345kV) I could hear them crackling where the spacers are doing their thing between the towers.

I call this new photograph, “The Power of Wonder”.

Too Much Weather.

As a private pilot I have a stronger than normal obsession with weather. While I’ve always had a great interest in Mother Nature’s more intense moments, when I’m up there in an airplane I don’t want to be sharing those experiences with her.

When we lived in Upstate New York it was a 10 minute drive to the airport. Because of the relative ease I had in scheduling an airplane, I could simply decide to fly, make sure the airplane is available, and drive to airport. I could see what the weather was doing and fly accordingly. If Mother Nature was thinking about spinning up a tornado, I’d stay on the ground.

When it came to planning long flights I’d start looking at the forecast a couple of days ahead of my planned flight time and make the appropriate go/no-go decisions. It’s what private pilots do.

Living in the busier Chicago area, with my airplane rental opportunities an hour or more away, I have to be more structured with flight plans. In order to get on the schedule I often have to block out my flight time a week or more in advance. Because of this I’m finding that I’m watching the weather patterns every day between the day I schedule the flight and the date of the actual flight.

I’m noticing I am now overthinking my weather decisions. Watching the forecast obsessively, and noticing how much it changes during that time, is probably making me a little more conservative than I need to be.

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to start flying a four-seat airplane aimed at a thunderstorm, but I need to allow myself the flexibility to change my flight plans as necessary. For example, yesterday I was planning on going up in the Cessna 182 with an instructor to continue my checkout and work on the endorsement for high performance and complex aircraft. The plans involved going to a small strip to the west of the airport and the forecast was calling for thunderstorms and heavy rain. At first I decided I wouldn’t fly but after talking with the instructor for a bit, we decided to simply cancel that flight plan and just stay local to our home airport, working on landings in the pattern. If the weather turned south, we’d be close enough to home to get safely on the ground before any storm moved in.

Contrary to my daily work as a software developer, where things are often if…then, flying isn’t as black and white. It’s the if…then…else that I need to remember to consider.

Yesterday’s flight turned out to be a good one; I’m making progress, the repetition of take-off/landing/take-off/landing/etc is honing in the extra details of flying with a retractable gear airplane, and I’m starting to feel more solid with what I’m doing with the increased horsepower of the bigger engine.

I’ve been reflecting on this while working on my post-flight analysis and I think yesterday was a good lesson for me, both in the air and on the ground. I’m still not going to be one to try to thread an airplane between thunderstorms, but I can dance in the sky for a bit before Mother Nature decides to bring her creativity to home.

Familiar.

So since we’ve started watching “The Mothers-In-Law” on Amazon Prime, Youtube has somehow figured out that we’re doing so and has started suggesting obscure television shows from the 1960s. One such show is called “Karen”, a show I have never heard of until about 15 minutes before writing this blog entry.

As I watched the episode on Youtube I couldn’t help but notice a familiar face:

It took me a few moments but then I realized it’s Bonnie Franklin, best known as Ann Romano on the 1970-80s Norman Lear sitcom, “One Day At A Time”.

Another show that has been suggested is called “Good Morning World”. I started watching an episode but was distracted by a passing thunderstorm; it looks like it might be a 1960s version of “WKRP In Cincinnati”. I may take some of this long weekend to check out an episode or two.

These obscure sitcoms are kinda groovy.

Realignment.

Earlier this month I received word at work there would be a change in the BYOD, or “Bring Your Own Device” policy at work. Since last year I have been using a personal Mac mini for all of my work from the home office. While I work for a company that full embraces Microsoft’s business offerings, Microsoft has shifted their approach over the past couple of years and have made their products much more friendly to operating systems outside of Windows. The official approach at work has been if you’re participating in BYOD you can use the Citrix-based VDI (Virtual Desktop Instance) to get to company applications. While connected to the work VPN with my Mac Mini I could do pretty much what I needed to do without delving into VDI and I was a happy camper.

Since the Mac Mini is a desktop device, I also had a work issued Windows 10 Dell laptop, which is my official work computer. I figured I would use that for travel and I would log in with it every couple of weeks to keep it up-to-date with the latest patches from work’s desktop services.

At least that was my intention.

A couple of weeks ago I received word that I hadn’t logged in with the laptop since late March and I needed to log in to get important updates. Not a problem, I’m always happy to oblige, so I did just that. The only thing I don’t like about that Dell laptop is the screen resolution; at 1366×768 it’s a little compact for me to do what I need to do on a daily basis. I have my own 32-inch USB-C monitor and the Dell laptop has a USB-C port on it so I hooked up the whole affair and was actually delighted to see I could use the monitor at it’s fullest resolution without throwing the laptop’s fan into fits.

Since I was tardy with the updates this must have brought some attention to my account and I received another message from desktop services, this time advising I could make a choice of staying on my personal Mac Mini or I could use the company issued laptop, but not both. The company is moving to Microsoft’s WVD, or Windows Virtual Desktop, and the way the licenses are managed the company allocates either a laptop OR a WVD license per user, not both.

Staying with my Mac Mini would result in me not having a mobile solution for when I start traveling for work again, so that wouldn’t work. So, I decided to give up the Mac Mini approach to work and set up my Windows 10 laptop for full time use.

It has been a surprisingly smooth and pleasant move for me.

As a software developer and systems engineer I work in Linux all day long. I primarily work from the “command line” when doing much administrative stuff and the reason I liked the Mac Mini was because it had a Unix terminal baked right into the operating system. But over the past year or two Microsoft has done a complete 180º on their feelings around Linux and now offers “Windows Subsystem for Linux”, the ability to run Linux right inside of Windows 10.

This too has been an amazing experience for me.

My transition to the Windows 10 laptop, with Ubuntu Linux running in the “WSL” has met all of needs for work both effortlessly and easily. I am surprisingly pleased with the setup I’ve been using for the past week; today I took the opportunity of the quiet afternoon to put the finish touches on my setup and I’m ready to go after the long holiday weekend.

A while back I told my husband and family that my requirement of sticking exclusively to the Apple ecosystem had come to an end. With this proclamation we purchased a Windows 10 gaming computer from Jamie and Chris, with my intention of turning it into a flight simulator setup over the next couple of months. My husband has been enjoying playing online games with friends on it. It’s a fast machine for about a third of what we’d pay for a similarly-spec’d Mac.

I’ve also been moving back towards Linux full time with my personal computing needs. The hardest move for me was my task management system. I’ve been using OmniFocus for over 10 years and while it has served my needs well for all this time, the web version was just not powerful enough to meet my needs on the Windows 10 work computer. I solved the issue in a very simple way. Using the framework of the simple todo.txt text-file based system, I simply wrote my own automations and other task management routines that run on a nightly basis for both work and personal tasks. When I get up in the morning my day is already planned out the way I want it. When I have flight on the schedule, I can go to any computer in the world, log into my little Linux server I have running, and type “flight (date)” at the command prompt, and tasks reminding me to charge devices, update iPads, plan flights, get the weather, and pack all my gear, will appear on all of my task lists with the proper date and intervals necessary to accomplish everything I do before a flight.

I’m getting old. It’s easier for me to type a command at a prompt instead of point and clicking and moving things around on a screen.

The truth of the matter is two-fold, not only was I not able to work effectively within the closed-ecosystem of Apple based products, I’m quite frankly also getting bored with my Apple products. I’ve had an iPhone X since they came out in late 2017 and aside from some battery issues I’ve been experiencing over the past couple of days, I do not feel compelled to get the latest and greatest in any way. My MacBook Pro is a mid 2015 model, the last version before they went to those awful butterfly keyboards, and my iPad Pro works great and does everything it’s suppose to do, the exact same way every iPad I’ve had has done it for the past 10 years. The iPad Pro is a 2018 model and I don’t feel the need to update that anytime soon.

What I really want is to get back into Linux full time, but I can’t justify selling and buying things just for the sake of change. So in the meanwhile I’m running the latest version of Ubuntu Linux in a VirtualBox on my MacBook Pro and it’s running great. Canonical has done great things with Ubuntu over the years. A lot of the diehard Linux community is grumpy about Ubuntu and Canonical, some even going so far as to saying it’s not “really Linux”, because of some commercial software in the distribution. But I find Ubuntu’s implementation to be beautiful and stable and it gives me the ability to just get things done.

Because Linux gives me options, I’ve even gone so far as to install the older “Unity” desktop environment on my Ubuntu install. I simply like the way Unity works better than anything else out their in the Linux world and because Linux gives me freedom to set my computer up the way I want to, I’m going to use that freedom to do just that.

Apple hasn’t done anything wrong and I still recommend iDevices for folks that aren’t super tech-savvy and still want to maintain their own data privacy. I think Apple does that very well when compared to some other solutions out there. Microsoft is making great strides in keeping things open and giving folks choices, and Linux is awesome for those of us that want to know exactly what makes our computer tick and make it the exact way we want it to be.

My only family rule with the technology now is data can’t be confined to a specific device or ecosystem. This cooperative approach is keeping us a happy open family.

Reality.

Tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of human beings are going to die from COVID-19 before the end of 2020. This is in addition to the 95,000+ Americans that have already died from Coronavirus. This is an unfortunate reality.

The more unfortunate aspect of this reality is that too many Americans have pretty much grown bored with the whole COVID-19 news cycle and feel they’re entitled to nights out at restaurants and bars, nail appointments, board meetings, and movie theatres because that’s the American way! Being able to watch blockbuster movies about killing things in IMAX is a symbol of freedom and no one is going to take away their freedom.

Social distancing is falling apart. Even here in Chicago where Mayor Lori Lightfoot has become little more than a meme with her “No!” stance in a poorly tailored pantsuit, folks aren’t really trying to maintain social distancing as much as they were a couple of weeks ago. My morning walk has become an exercise in frustration as I walk between cars, jump over grassy knolls, etc. to isolate myself from someone walking down a sidewalk, phone in hand, no mask or other protective covering in site, cluelessly schlepping along in their only little bubble of liberty.

I’m determined to keep me and my family and friends off the statistics board of COVID-19 deaths. I used to be focused on doing my part to keep that worldwide statistic as low as possible, but because American society is what it is, it’s now every man or woman for themselves.

The latter half of 2020 is going to make the first half of 2020 look like a picnic. History has shown us, people are talking, but few people are listening.

But hey, freedom.

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Darkness.

This is the Sears Tower*, as seen from our balcony. Notice there are no lights shining in the Sears Tower. That’s because the electricity is still off in the Sears Tower.

The power distribution center in the basement of the Sears Tower was flooded with over four feet of water during the heavy rain last weekend. Power needed to be turned off to the entire skyscraper so repairs could be made in a safe manner. Fried repairmen are not productive.

Four days later, the famous skyscraper still stands in darkness. It’s rather creepy to look out there and see the tallest building in Chicago completely dark.

* The Sears Tower actually became the Willis Tower in 2009, but everyone I know, and from what I understand, most of Chicago, still calls it the Sears Tower. Because it’s the Sears Tower.