Splashdown.

I loved being able to watch Crew Dragon Demo-2 return to Earth from the International Space Station this weekend. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken undocked from the ISS late yesterday afternoon aboard the SpaceX build Crew Dragon capsule and splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico near Pensacola, Florida this afternoon. Earl and I watched much of the coverage on YouTube.

In some ways it feels like we’ve started figuring out these things from scratch since the Space Shuttle Program was grounded nearly a decade ago, but humans have had a continuous presence in orbit for two decades and we are finally able to send astronaut to and from the ISS from American soil again.

Exciting times!

I’m hoping I’ll live long enough to see a human expedition to Mars. How amazing that will be. With today’s successful return from the ISS, and a new mission planned for just over a month away, space seems to be reachable again.

Reach for the stars!

Staycation.

There’s a reason we go away when I take vacation time. It makes it harder for work to get at me and the pressures of the current state of the country to get to us. I took three days of staycation this week and I’m headed back to work on Monday.

I’m already planning my next sabbatical.

Farms.

We’ve been taking a lot of rides in the rural parts of Illinois since this whole pandemic thing started and subsequently let us out in anti-social activities. Being tucked away safely in the car with your loved one, sheltered by metal and glass from other humans, seems like the best way to see the world without risking Coronavirus infection from others.

The game during our latest ride is to avoid the Interstates, U.S., and State Routes, opting for county roads and other locally maintained roadways. This has taken us through plenty of prairie (corn on the left, beans on the right; beans on the left, corn on the right), small towns, and surrounding farm lands.

I pulled over somewhere around Genoa, Illinois as I liked the framing of the shot above; the ComEd “cat ears” power lines passing behind the farm, bisecting their corn fields and probably adding an extra challenge for the crop dusters we see from time to time out there, all looked interesting to me.

I love simple landscapes, and my geeky interest in power lines, make them extra interesting.

Idiocy.

I took a ride through rural northwest Illinois yesterday. My journey took me almost to St. Louis, following mostly backroads, until I decided to turn around and head back to Chicago. It was a mostly relaxing experience. I find it interesting to drive through the small towns in the Land of Lincoln.

Once outside of Chicago, a common theme in lawn signs is “Pritzker Sucks”. These reference Governor Pritzker, who in my opinion, has done a very good job in leading efforts to keep the pandemic at bay. The lockdown and subsequent measures have been unfortunate, especially for the economy, but if I had to choose, a business can be rebuilt or replaced, a human being can not.

Not even human beings that don’t seem interested in gaining or sharing intelligence.

The big installation shown in the photo is found along Interstate 72, somewhere between Quincy and Jacksonville. I’m not surprised at the size of it, when you don’t have much you make prideful displays of something. But I couldn’t help think how much more valuable the funds used to build that sign could be to someone that couldn’t afford a meal or the neighbors that couldn’t afford their medicine. For many, compassion has been replaced by idiocy and ignorance. This makes me sad.

Of course, the makers of that Trump sign have every right to build and display their political allegiances in such an egregious manner, just as I have every right to write this blog entry.

Drive.

While driving through Northwest Illinois, I took a couple of snaps of “Americana”.

Griggsville, Illinois.
The Town Hall in Valley City, Illinois.
An 1960s or 1970s IGA Foodliner store, though the IGA logo is not original. Roanoke, Illinois.
Western Illinois Fairgrounds, Griggsville, Illinois.

Sabbatical.

The timing of our “big” vacation in 2020 was perfect. We were able to scoot over to O’ahu and back before the COVID-19 hit the United States in full force. I haven’t taken time off since.

I’ve decided to take the rest of this week off from work as a mini-sabbatical. I have a few plans; I’ll probably do some flying, I’m going on a long road trip, I’m going to relax. Tomorrow I shall drive through the Prairie State alone with my husband’s blessing. He knows I occasionally like exploring on these long drives alone and we have no qualms in giving each other the space we need once in a while. We’re not getting away from one another, I am simply recharging. Mrs. Mosher wrote in my first kindergarten report card that I was a loner, opting to amuse myself instead of playing with the other kids during “play time”. A young girl by the name of Michelle wanted to ride the see saw with me; I recall jumping on it until she was flung off. I wasn’t allowed near the see saw for a while after that and Mrs. Mosher told my mother I was developmentally disabled.

I believe her philosophy was, “no child is really any different from any other child”. She didn’t know what to make of me. Not only did I not think inside the box, I had a different box, it was oblong, and it was probably glitzed out with glitter.

If I was in kindergarten today, Mrs. Mosher would probably recommend me for some pharmaceutical assistance.

Instead, I love my life and have a husband who supports my day long road trips across the Prairie State. It’s all good.

Balcony.

These days I spend a lot of time on the balcony. The weather is decent (albeit a bit humid and hot, even at 9:30 PM at night) but the view is nice and there’s few bugs here in the city.

I never thought I would get sick of watching television but sometimes I feel the need to just sit on the balcony and do very little. As I remind my team at work from time to time, we may all be used to working from home but we’re still working under unusual circumstances. There’s a subtle increase in stress levels; COVID-19, politics, riots, all of the angst in the country. It all adds up.

I sit on the balcony and I watch the flights into O’Hare follow a shorter than usually approach because of the lower amount of air traffic these days. Watching airplanes always makes me smile.

I’m taking some time off later this week because I haven’t used vacation time since February and I have a lot of time left. It’ll be our first “staycation” in maybe forever. I’ll probably spend time on the balcony when I’m not flying airplanes or chasing thunderstorms.

We all need to chill.

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Struggles.

I’ve been trying really hard not to complain about the pandemic, or Trump, or the riots, or the idiots that are cheering on Nazi-like activity from our Department of Homeland Security.

My mood jumps up and down, a lot. These swings are much more frequent than they used to be. I can’t comprehend how people can still be “on the fence” about who to vote for. I can’t comprehend how people can still support the worst president in the history of the United States. Children in cages, mayors of major cities being tear gassed, a non-existent response to a global pandemic. And these idiots still think Trump was sent by God.

It’s hard to continue to maintain this blog but I continue to do it. It will soon be 19 years old. I’ve been blathering on about life for 19 years!

Who’s the crazy one?

I told Earl I should write my autobiography just to do it. While the main title would be “Trip The Moment Fantastic”, it’d have a subtitle that says, “You Really Have No Reason To Buy This Book”. As the Abba song goes, “I’m nothing special, in fact, I’m a bit of a bore”. But here I am still writing in a blog for 19 years.

Eccentric? Yes.

Caturday.

Truman has pretty much adjusted to his required harness when out on the balcony. Curiously, when he has the harness on he always sits or lies down out there he always does it so he can bring his paws together.

He then gives me a look.