March 2020


I’ve been watching clips of television shows from the 50s and 60s over the past week or so. Escaping to better television is helping me not obsess about this predicament we’re all in.

I’ve always adored Elizabeth Montgomery and I get a kick out of seeing her in roles before “Bewitched” came around. Here’s a clip of her from 1963 in “Burke’s Law”. I find her always to be a delight, but watch what she does in the last couple of seconds in the clip. She had a certain nervous habit.


Growing up, when I stood on the roof of my Dad’s house and looked to the west, I would see the cooling tower of one of three nuclear power plants long before my eyes reached the horizon. Since it was the mid 1980s, entertainment television included TV movies like “Special Bulletin” and “The Day After”. Seeing what would happen when bad nuclear things occurred, folks in the community would tend to get tense when hearing the annoying two-tone signal of what was then known as the “Emergency Broadcast System”. Not to worry, it was always a test.

The newer “Emergency Alert System” doesn’t sound as dire with its “duck fart” noises but the sense of urgency remains, especially when everyone mobile device within earshot starts sounding an alarm simultaneously. It’s unnerving.

The State of Illinois fired of the Emergency Alert System today to let people know they need medical people to register at to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of my “training” of the urgency related to the use of EAS, I was rather unnerved by all of my iDevices screeching and vibrating at once to convey this announcement to Illinoisans. I wretched about it on Twitter; looking back I probably wretched too much, but I maintain that if EAS is fired off too often, people are going to start to ignore it. And then, universe forbid, we have a tornado, nuke, or asteroid bearing down on the city, people will ignore the EAS instead of taking precautionary measures, because they’ve been training to respond to it like an intercom system.

I fully understand what the Illinois officials are trying to do, and that’s raise awareness of the need for trained medical personnel. So I will restate this, if you are able to help, please register at

Apparently the EAS notifications unnerved a few folks. After I wretched about it on Twitter I went for a walk around the block. A woman walking on the other side of the street was sobbing loudly into her phone, telling someone that the only place she feels safe is the cemetery and that’s because her parents are dead and they’re the only ones that know what’s going on. Another man was yelling into his phone about being newly unemployed. I turned the corner and another woman was yelling at someone on the porch about the “emergency tones”.

With today’s news that we are to remain “shelter-in-place” for the next 30 days, I understand it is a necessity but I am frustrated. I’m trying to smile and I’m going to make an effort wretch less on Twitter, but I’m really not enjoying this whole shelter-in-place thing, mostly because it’s not being consistently implemented across the country and I fear the non-sheltering states are just going to let their folks carry the virus all over the place while the rest of us sit at home. Of course, there’s no consistency coming out of D.C.; one minute the Orange One is screaming at a reporter for being mean, the next minute he’s adding tens of billions to the population of South Korea. Trump is throwing out sound bites as fact and showing obvious partiality to the states that matter to him politically.

We do not need more chaos in this situation.

I wanted to give a reassuring smile or gesture of some sort to the woman who spends her days in the cemetery but I can’t do that from two meters away. I realize now that complaining on Twitter isn’t going to solve anything either, so I hope to not do that again.

We are going to get through this and I’m hopeful we’ll all be fine when this crisis has run its course.

In the meanwhile, maintain your distance and smile, and try not to be alarmist. I’m going to do my best to do the same.


The 24 hour CVS around the corner is no longer 24 hours. They’ve scaled back their house to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. They’re closed more than 7-11.

The pub down the street closed down at the beginning of shelter in place, but now they’re selling beer out the front window. I walked by in the morning so I didn’t stop by for a beer, though there’s little else to do in the neighborhood. It’s been raining and very windy. Everything is closed or prefers to be delivery over takeaway.

The liquor store that offers convenience three doors down went from scaled back hours to completely closed through at least the 7th of April. That may change if we extend all this to the 30th of April.

I’ve been chilling out and being a geek for most of the day today. I’m rather sick of Netflix and television in general. I look forward off the wall pop culture things from the 70s and 80s on Google and that’s how I spend my days off from work.

I’m looking forward to flying again. I have no idea when that will be but I’m hoping soon.


Back in 2007 I sold a bunch of slave clocks on ebay to a school in Wisconsin. As I was looking through old photos on a hard drive this evening, I was reminded of the fact that I had designed a custom clock face and put my little one-man business logo on the clock face.

I worked with a company in Dassel, Minnesota to get the clocks produced; the clocks were a square version of their “All Sync” clocks that would work with pretty much any clock system found in a school built from the mid 1950s and onward. The clocks could run on either 24 or 110 VAC. The school in Wisconsin was looking to replace some of their clocks but not all of them and couldn’t afford or even find replacements for their antiquated system. They were searching through clocks on ebay they found what I was selling and asked if they could buy a bunch of them. I was happy to oblige.

The clock was face design was a modern take on the clocks that were in the elementary school I attended back in the ’70s. I thought the face turned out well and now I’m wondering if the clocks are still running in the school that bought them.

As modern time and signaling systems hit the market in the early 2010 and many schools starting moving to wireless systems, it didn’t make financial sense for me to stay in replacement clock game.

As mentioned in the previous blog entry, I’m such a dork.


I remember I was in elementary school when my dad first let me behind the counter at the family hardware store and lumber yard. It was in the mid 1970s and while cash transactions were recorded on a very early 20th century cash drawer that required hand written receipts as well as recording transactions by hand, the adding machine on the counter was quite nifty.

It was identical to the one pictured above: a Sharp Micro Compet.

The display was groovy. Though not shown in the photo, the zero was represented by the bottom portion of the “6” or the “8”, resulting in this half-height number. Unused digits to the left of the number being displayed were filled in with this zero, all eight digits were populated at all times.

It was an adding machine and not a calculator in that the addition and subtraction functions worked as an accumulator instead of doing arithmetic. It’s the accounting way of doing things and if you’re unfamiliar, think of it this way. You have a bucket. You add things to the bucket by pressing whatever number and pressing plus or minus. If you wanted to add two things twice (2+2), you’d hit 2 += 2+=. If you then wanted to subtract one, you’d then hit 1 -=. The display would read, in sequence, 2, 4, 3, as you completed each operation.

You’ll also notice the combination of multiplication and division on one key. The result was dependent on which equals key you hit: 2x÷2+= would result in 4, 2x÷2-= would result in 1. Even at a young age this made a lot of sense to me.

Per the Wikipedia page, this calculator was the first mass produced calculator using integrated circuits. It sold for $395 in 1970 and came with a leather cover.

My grandfather invested in good technology from time to time.

I remember checking my math homework from 2nd or 3rd grade with my father’s assistance. He cautiously watched me work the keys on this technological marvel; probably because it was so expensive. I can still remember the first time I entered a number on that adding machine and being so entranced with how it worked.

It’s no wonder I became such a dork.


Here we are getting ready for the weekend and we have absolutely no plans. They’re predicting severe storms for Illinois but I feel like it would be irresponsible for us to go chasing storms, what with this COVID-19 and the like going on. Illinoisans should be limiting their activity to essential travel only and with the my idle knowledge of weather, chasing storms seems like it falls in the non-essential category.

I suppose I’ll just watch the storms from the balcony. That is if the storms make it to the north side of Chicago to begin with.

I’m finding my motivation to be lower than normal, even though working from home is the normal mode of operation for me. Nothing has really changed in our lives except that we’re not going out as much as we usually do and the streets are much more quiet than usual. Still, knowing what’s happening in the outside world, and the Federal government’s reaction to it, is yanking down my energy. Thank the universe for leadership like that what’s being displayed by Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot. I trust them. I absolutely do not trust anything coming out of the Trump administration.

In that way, nothing has changed.

There were such better candidates for the GOP ticket back in 2016. It still boggles my mind that someone as corrupt and morally bankrupt as Trump ended up representing the party that touts itself as the “party of law and order”. There’s nothing resembling any sort of moral compass in his administration.

Rosie O’Donnell had it right 13 years ago.

Nevertheless, here we are in the middle of one of the biggest crises to his the country in a very long time and we are ill prepared for it. We will get through it, but we will not get through it unscathed.

I hope whatever voters are left standing come November are able to make smarter choices.