August 2020


I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. As I stared at the ceiling, occasionally turning over to see what time it was, I wondered how many other Americans are not sleeping well these days with all the stuff going on in the world. I could almost here a collective chaos.

When the alarm finally startled me awake; I must have fallen asleep at some point; I made a decision to try to make it a great day. Even though I was blurry eyed and trying to focus on the beginning of a Monday morning, I could make the best of it.

I was about 3/4 of the way along my morning walking route when a wasp stung me in the back of the head. It was loud and it was menacing and once it stung me and I swatted at it, it became angry and landed on my hand and made an attempt to sting me again. I yelled and danced around like a maniac before getting it away from me. The woman down street looked my way like the was some sort of maniac screaming and dancing in the middle of the street.

I was still determined to have a good day.

My work calendar was jammed with meetings today. They weren’t particularly intense meetings but there was more on my calendar than I like to have on a Monday.

The determination maintained, even after a quick cat nap during my lunch time.

Servers crashed shortly before the end of the day, luckily they were not servers under my direct care but quite a few people pinged me about the outage. It was handled. It was resolved.

I still had a good day.

Earl dialed up an LGBTQ+ themed indy movie called “Daddy” this evening, and we sat together in the living room watching this piece of art. There was a twist or two that I didn’t expect and it had that whole “we used a camcorder!” vibe to it, but I recognized some of the actors and it was well done.

It has been a good day.


25 years ago this week, Microsoft released Windows 95. I remember immediately upgrading from Microsoft Windows 3.11 to Windows 95; it required 13 floppy disks and a whole bunch of hoping and praying. I owned a 386SX/16 with 8MB of RAM at the time.

Still, Windows 95 was a good step in the evolution of personal computers.

People lined up in the streets to buy their copy of Windows 95. The Rolling Stones were paid millions of dollars from Microsoft so their song “Start Me Up” could be used to highlight the Windows 95 start button. Point and click. Plug and play. Exciting times. Technology was evolving and evolving at a very rapid pace.

We are now well into the 21st century but technology couldn’t be anymore boring. Windows 10 still behaves like Windows 95. Heck, it still has Windows 95 dialog boxes in some parts of the interface. What does Apple’s iOS 14 bring us? Widgets? Stop the presses and don’t look the other way; no, Android hasn’t been doing that since for a decade.

Technology has ceased evolving and become merely iterative.

Yes, we have moving buttons and widgets and gadgets and transparent menu bars. Who cares. What’s the next big thing? Is there a next big thing? Where’s the next big thing? Where’s the big advancement that doesn’t take us into the 20th century version 2.1?

Technology is frightfully boring.

I’m typing this blog entry on a 2015 MacBook Pro running Ubuntu Linux. One of the reasons I’m running Linux is because it can be something different. I can make my virtual desktop look and act like I’m on the Starship Enterprise, an old computer running OS/2 Warp, or I can run a desktop environment that is completely different from the Windows or Mac paradigms. People contributing to Linux are actually someone trying something new when writing code to power our computers. Apple just trounces out iteration after iteration of the same thing they introduced 13 years ago. Microsoft Windows is Microsoft Windows. “But you can’t take a photo of someone you don’t know from 15 feet away with the new lens only available on our ‘pro’ device!”. Who the hell cares. My father took pictures of people we didn’t know in 1979 with his Canon AE-1 and our lives aren’t any the richer for it.

The Fortune 500 tech companies have become boring, mundane, and pedestrian. Lean in? Let me take a nap.

As kludgy as it was, and it was wicked kludgy, Windows 95 moved us forward in the world of tech. When do we “Start Me Up” in the 21st century?

Delta Dawn.

Tanya Tucker and Helen Reddy both released the song “Delta Dawn” around the same time in my youth. My dad, born on a farm in the middle of cow country, listened to WHEN hit radio, which played the Helen Reddy version of the hit song.

My mom, who was born and raised in the center of Syracuse, New York, where they had folks of different skin colors at her school, preferred the Tanya Tucker version from the country radio station WSCP. I found this odd, because my mother had a bit of a feminist Helen Reddy “I Am Woman” vibe going on. My dad was born in the country but he liked city music and my mom was born in the city and she liked country music. She had a Marlo Thomas hairdo. She watched Donahue and everything.

Losing My Religion.

It was the summer of 1976 that we first attended “Vacation Bible School” at the local church. My sister and I, to the best of my knowledge, were baptized as Methodists, just like my mom and dad. I believe I was baptized in the village, and not at the small church in town where my grandmother played the organ. I have no idea why this is the case, other than maybe the fact that my grandmother’s brother-in-law was the minister in the church where she didn’t play the organ.

My sister is two years younger than me, almost to the day. Her kindergarten teacher was also the wife of a minister, at the “Church of Christ’ in town. The church is flanked by the cemetery on two sides; there’s a decently sized house to the east of the church where the minister and his wife lived. They adopted two children. Even though the whole church and school thing was kind of a taboo mingling back in the 1970s, somehow my sister’s kindergarten teacher convinced my mother that we should give that church a try. They weren’t Methodist, the church where my grandmother played the organ had closed, and my grandmother’s brother-in-law had retired from ministering. So, why not.

The church was kinda big on youth stuff. There’d be Vacation Bible School and then there’d be youth group and we were all promised our very own Bible once we were able to recite all the books of the Old and New Testament in order without hesitation.

The youth group segregated the boys from the girls in activities a lot of the time. It’d usually end up that four of us boys would participate in activities that involved sports, field trips, and worksheets where Jesus was depicted being pious in ditto purple. It was the summer of 1976 that the church took the four of us boys to Marineland, a fun filled family place in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The four of us piled into the backseat of the minister’s Mercury with burgundy Landau roof. He had an FM radio that displayed a “STEREO” indicator in amber when tuned to the beautiful music station out of Syracuse. The night before the trip to “Marineland”, the four of us, me, Billy, Milt, and one other boy that I think was named Mike, spent the night at the minister’s house so we could get an early start on the three hour trip the next morning. After washing my face and hands while the minister shaved and make sure I cleaned up, I went downstairs. They had a big grand piano that he let me play around with while he got the other boys ready for the trip.

I vividly remember praying a lot during the trip. We prayed before getting in the car. We prayed at lunch. We prayed for snack .We prayed at Carrols Restaurant on the way home. The minister’s wife was originally from Alaska and she was what I would call a “husky nice”. I also remember Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario. One of the “killer whales” was named Shamu and I bought my Mom a souvenir which was a squirrel holding salt and pepper shakers. I also remember the drive and how the other boys were playing a game in the car where we closed our eyes and guessed the next kind of car passing us on the Thruway. Milt would always say it was “a rig”. I felt like a normal little boy at that moment, a feeling I never really felt all that much growing up.

We suddenly stopped going to that church and we didn’t go to any church for a long time. Turns out someone in the church told us we’d be burning with the Devil because we weren’t “dunked” when we were baptized. I never learned all the books of the Old and New Testament well enough to recite them. My Bible is from Kmart.

But I still remember the trip to Marineland with a smile. It would be when I was in eighth grade that my dad would declare I needed to be a member of the church choir. I obediently joined and enjoyed the experience where my grandmother’s brother-in-law was no longer a minister. I’ve always loved making music. Right before confirmation, the minister told me the Methodist church had no issues with the homosexual, just in case I wanted to know. I was a junior in high school at the time. Happy to hear this, I still lost my interest in organized religion.

While many have the best of intentions, the human spirit can not capture , comprehend, or relay the secrets of the Universe. It’s all a part of our experience.

It’s when we think of our time with “God”, and we subsequently smile, is when we know our true connection.

The Chase, Why.

It was either the summer of 1974 or the summer of 1975. I can’t remember if I had just completed Kindergarten or the first grade. However, I can vividly remember the day I became really interested in Mother Nature’s severe weather tendencies.

I grew up along Lake Ontario’s Eastern Shore. Famous for its record breaking snowfall, the area also features beautiful sand dunes, and ample opportunity for outdoor recreation. On this day in ’74 or ’75 it was a hot, summer day. At the time, my Dad’s cousin and his family lived down the street from us. During the summer vacation days my mom would pal around with the cousin’s wife, resulting in five kids being blended together for summer day activities. Our ages interspersed nicely and because we were so young at the time, four kids could fit in the backseat and the youngest would go up front between my mom and the wife.

My mom had not yes taught herself to drive my Dad’s muscle car, which doubled as the family car. It was a snazzy green 1971 Chevelle Heavy Chevy. Three speed on the floor. I loved riding in the back seat of that car, especially driving home from visiting my grandparents in Syracuse. The 45 minute drive home on a Sunday night was magical to me. The family together. The darkness of the car. Everyone sitting where they should be: dad driving, mom in the passenger seat, my sister sitting behind my dad. It’s where we sat. I loved it. I still love being in a car on a dark night, the lights of the dash down to their lowest setting. Today’s 21st century cars have too much interior lighting. I miss the days of incandescent.

Back to the summer day. The five kids and two adults were in the wife’s 1968 Chevy Impala. If anyone offered me a brand new car of my choice, no matter the year, it would be a 1968 Chevy Impala two door coupe with either the 350 or the bigger 427 under the hood. Lead in the gas, vent windows up front, and only three speeds on the floor. Pull down the license plate to fuel it up.

The wife didn’t know how awesome her car was, but the lot of us had been “downtown” at the Department Store in the small town I grew up in. No chain stores had arrived yet, the “Department STore” was literally called just that and it was locally owned. Fun fact, there is no Main Street in the village. The business district was bisected by a river and the businesses flanked two streets, “Jefferson Street” and “Salina Street”. There is no Main Street.

Lake Ontario is three miles to the west of the village, but we could see the skies getting very dark as all of us piled into the Impala. The sky had been flashing and rumbling. It was just lunch time. We’d be going home to the trailer for peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches.

The wife (it’s weird that I’m referring to her as that) needed to put gas in the car; we stopped at a Seaway Gas Station on Rome Street. The sky was menacing. As I looked around, it was as dark as night. The street lights were coming on. The Rexall Kinney’s Drugs neon sign had just lit up like it was after sunset, even though we still hadn’t had lunch. The sky was loud, the clouds were flashing on and off and I thought it was one of the most awesome things I had ever seen.

We had just pulled out of the Seaway Gas Station when the skies let loose. The wife couldn’t see to navigate Rome Road. She pulled over as the wind rocked the 1968 Chevy Impala back and forth in front of a florist shop opened by a man named Jay.

The others were scared. The wife and my mother were just watching it rain. I was wide eyed, looking at the buckets of water falling everywhere. Mother Nature was incredibly feisty that day and I was lving every minute of it. I knew I wanted to see all Mother Nature had to offer, whenever and wherever Mother Nature wanted to offer it.

Eventually the storm passed and we went home and had peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches. Had it been the 21st century instead of 1974 or 1975, I would have photos to share.

I hoped I painted you a picture instead.


As a former radio guy I have a focused interest on what I hear on media. I’m hyper critical of podcasts (more on that in a future blog post) and I enjoy detecting trends in obvious use of automation on today’s radio airwaves.

In the Midwest, Chicagoland in particular, advertisers really LOVE their jingles. Jingles were fading out of favor when I left radio in 2004 but they’re still very prevalent on the radio stations I listen to throughout the Midwest.

This video from TikTok made me laugh out loud (I really LOL’d) today because it is very, very true. You just can’t escape the “Midwest National Anthem”.

H/T to raineisqueer on the TikToks

The Chase.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma showed an “enhanced” threat of convective activity for the northern half of Illinois today. It seemed like the perfect day to take the afternoon off from work to do some storm chasing.

We were out the door by 12:30 PM.

Now, I’m not a professional storm chaser by any means. As a private pilot I have a good idea of what weather is trying to do, so usually I can find something interesting that Mother Nature is up to while out and about on one of these missions. It took us a few hours to get to the northwest corner of the state. My husband asked where all these storms were, as the sky was clear, the sun was bright, and the temperature was hot. To the northwest I could see a smattering of clouds building on the horizon. I remarked, “we’ll see something soon”.

Within the hour, in Wisconsin, about 20 miles north of Galena, Illinois, the sky started getting very dark.

I decided we needed to keep heading northwest, so I started following back roads as displayed by the Jeep Cherokee’s GPS. It took us over some beautiful southern Wisconsin farmland. We were right where Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa come together.

As we reached the top of a hill, I could see the clouds rolling in. We parked the car with a wonderful view of a shelf cloud forming.

The storm felt so close it was like we could almost reach out and touch it.

The wind started picking up and pretty soon small hail briefly made an appearance before being replaced by crazy amounts of rain and much higher winds. I decided it was time to follow the storm from behind, and we back tracked along our route. If I had continued further in our original direction, where it was still raining very hard, I’d be going in and out of valleys along the Mississippi River. The weather radio was warning about flash flooding. I didn’t want to be part of that.

Unfortunately (in case terms), no tornado activity was to be part of this storm. Earl took some video of the rain and wind while I drove us along the back roads.

Overall, it was a great storm chasing experience and we had a fun time together. We meandered across the prairie to get back home. All in all, our little adventure was 10 1/2 hours in the car.


Here’s a video of a family’s dash cam as they navigated through the derecho that whipped through Cedar Rapids, Iowa (and later Chicago) earlier this month. I’m very impressed with Mom’s calm reactions and her co-pilot in the front seat. Both kept very calm in a wild situation.

Not Ready.

There’s a two-part story in my favorite Star Trek series, “Voyager”, where the crew goes back in time to Earth in 1996. I’m often reminded of a bit of dialog in the script; a tech company CEO has gotten his hands on future technology and is introducing it to the 20th century United States, and the Voyager crew comments that society isn’t ready for this technology yet and that social norms haven’t caught up to the technology they have. This is creating problems for the populace.

It makes me think of today’s approach to Social Media.

When Facebook and Twitter first came around, a year or two before the mass introduction of the ‘smart phone’, it was a nifty playground for those that were technologically savvy. Even though we had moved onto “Web 2.0” earlier in the decade, there was still a bit of the tech street cred present for the earlier era, where the idea was the Internet would provide valuable, coherent information. Yes, we were babbling on blogs (just like this one!) but people weren’t purposely throwing out ridiculous conspiracy theories for the entire world to consume in 140 character bites.

Then Twitter and Facebook became a major part of the national conversation, the technology became readily available to everyone, and bad actors purposely started skewing and distorting facts into fiction and suddenly everyone had an opinion.

I know. I’ve been sharing my opinion on things via this blog since 2001. But I’ve always tried to stick to the facts and despite how it may seem from time to time, I do filter my emotions a bit here. I don’t want to be known as an Internet troll. I don’t want to damage society through social media or other Internet based information channels.

The issue is that technology has cleared outpaced society’s ability for everyone to handle the capabilities responsibly. Now, I know this may make me sound a bit elitist, but I don’t think EVERYONE needs to have the entire Internet at their disposal. Not only does it invite bad people to anonymously write damaging things for the entire world to consume, but it puts many people in danger. How many folks do you know that have been scammed out of maybe thousands and thousands of dollars through an email or a ransomware attack or even a dire sounding text message sent through one of the many messaging services?

If we’re going to use the Internet it’s important that we do so intelligently and that we know what we’re doing and where we’re doing it. We can’t let technology outpace us, not in our national dialog, not in our homes, and not with our bank accounts. (You should see how many “smart doorbells” I’ve had the opportunity to hack as I walk through the neighborhood. Did I hack them? No. But not everyone wears a white hat like I do).

I don’t have the solution for fixing this problem. License computer users? It’ll never happen. Slow down the digital economy? Never happen. The best we can do is educate, share concerns, and try to steer people in the right direction.

Social media is never going away. If anything, it’s just going to get worse. Any effort to try to keep it in some sort of credible space is all we have.

God help us all.