Fame.

When I was a kid I envisioned a life of fame. I was going to be a darling of Hollywood, doing something like Bewitched or Star Trek or some comedic shtick and people would fawn over me and want my autograph wherever I went. I wanted to act, I wanted people to like me, and I wanted to be recognized in public. So very gay.

I tinkered with this a little bit with my days in radio; people would recognize my voice and my face from a TV commercial or something and say hello in the mall. I also toyed with the idea of being on a reality show in the early days of the travesty, getting so far as to one of the final rounds of “Big Brother” auditions. But my husband told me he had no interest in standing outside of the Big Brother House when I came out and I didn’t want to be the next Bunky anyways. The producers wanted another Bunky. You don’t remember Bunky? Neither do I.

(pause for Google)

Bunky lives in Arizona and does something with IT now. Good for him.

With TikTok and Twitter and YouTube and the like everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame and most people will do anything to claw their way to the limelight. They’ll say stupid things on television. They’ll run for an elected office. They’ll try to eat a corn of cob connected to an electric drill. They’ll burn their hair off. They’ll make “tech videos” which are thinly disguised audition tapes for a soap opera. They’ll appear on Ellen’s game show and get pushed around with a gigantic plunger. They’ll appear on “Today” for being wonderful and then a month later turn up on “The Wall”. They’ll sing in front of old people.

And they’ll say really stupid and idiotic things on Twitter just to get likes and follows and retweets. The sad part is that the vast majority of these idiotic endeavors don’t end up in fame, but notoriety.

I gleefully gave up the idea of being famous decades ago. The pool has been so diluted with idiocy and too many Americans now applaud asshattery and I definitely don’t want to land in that category.

I’m quite content with being a middle aged guy with a husband and a cat, a wonderful family, and a wonderful group of relatives and friends. Maybe that’s just part of getting old, finding contentment in what we have.

I just really hope I live long enough to see the natural ending of this American desire for notoriety.

Time.

With the arrival of spring-like weather here in Chicago you’d think I’d be all excited about spring being right around the corner. I am excited about this, but I’m more excited about relocating to Tucson at the end of next month.

The real thing is, however, it doesn’t feel like winter to me. It doesn’t feel like spring is just around the corner, though the human construct of time just marches along and tells us that’s what’s happening in the Northern Hemisphere. Ever since COVID-19 became the thing in most everyone’s life, time has felt odd. Routines have become more repetitive, activities have been restricted, and milestones that denote a certain place in the year (picnics, festivals, going outside, etc.) have not happened with their expected regularity.

I know we celebrated the holidays two months ago but it doesn’t feel like we really did it. To me it feels more like we just went through the motions.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been feeling little spats of “the blues” and not really understanding why, but in reality it’s been my usual winter season blahs I feel every year; I just didn’t pin it down to the proper place on the timeframe because it doesn’t feel like we’re in winter. It feels like some odd nebulous season right now. Limbo, I guess, for lack of a better word.

While the temperatures warm up a bit here in The Windy City, I appreciate the sunnier days and the snow melting.

I guess I just want to get outside and enjoy it without restrictions again.

Snow.

After a week of bitter cold it’s nice to be able to stand outside in a reasonable layer of cold and enjoy a few moments of winter. My husband and I went for a ride on the prairie while the realtor hosted an Open House at the condo. The Open House proved to be fruitful. There was plenty of interest and we are under contract with the next owners of our current home.

I’ve excited about this. While the purchase of the house in Tucson was not dependent on the sale, it makes things a lot easier for our move. The timeline is coming together nicely. We’ll have plenty of time to get situated in Tucson before the intense summer heat kicks in.

In the meanwhile, I’ll enjoy some snow in the Prairie State.

More Snow.

It looks like this latest storm brought us about a foot of snow. It’ll still be quite cold here but warming slightly as the week goes on. There’s a chance of a smaller snow storm arriving this weekend.

It’s February. This weather is not a surprise for this part of the country. However; this is the most snow I’ve seen in Chicago since moving here 3 1/2 years ago.

Bundle up!

Snow.

The snow continues to fall. According to the weather forecast, they heavier snow won’t arrive until later this afternoon and continue through the overnight. When all is said and done, we should have around a foot of new snow.

Winter is grand!

1 Comment

Separate.

Since starting our trip last Saturday I have purposely stayed away from most social media but specifically Twitter. It’s not that Twitter has done anything wrong, it’s just that it’s an endless stream of “stuff” that I don’t need in my head right now. The move to Tucson has me very excited about life; dulling the sensation with outrage, gasps, and other clutches of pearls is not jam. I don’t need the angst.

I mentioned this to Earl and Chris during dinner on Tuesday night. We were reviewing the inspection report on the new house at a Starbucks in Tucson and I took a quick glance at Twitter. After a few swipes of the screen I felt my jaw tighten and my mood harden. I mentioned, “Wow, Twitter can really suck”. Chris responded, “Maybe it’s not Twitter that sucks, but the people you follow. I follow artists and interesting people and try to stay away from politics. Maybe you should try that”.

He’s right. I’ve tried to curtail my following list to non-political posts, but with all that’s going on in the U.S. government these days, both during and after the Trump administration, there’s a lot of people who will just start screaming on Twitter about the latest outrage. I should know, I can be one of them! And honestly, I’m not in the mood for that drama.

I haven’t done anything outrageous with my Twitter account, but I am taking the lead of my friend Séan from the U.K. and starting to delete my tweets after X amount of days.

I don’t need my former outrage following me around like so much baggage.

I know the script, I don’t need to follow it along word by word on Twitter. Many in the GOP are going to be spineless, the Dems will lean toward making sure everyone likes them, and we’ll eventually get to some sort of outcome on the latest crisis.

Just tell me when to vote

On The Radio.

During our whirlwind Tucson round trip road trip I made a point of listening to local radio stations along the way. As a former radio professional (at least, as best as I could be), I used to find great delight in listening to other radio stations during our travels. I was able to formulate new ideas, or at least copy ideas from far flung radio stations, and bring new elements to our station to keep it “exciting and fresh”. Buzz words are important in radio.

With the arrival of the 21st century and the simultaneous explosion of Internet streaming, iPods, iPhones, and the like, and the watering down of radio station ownership to a handful of media megaconglomerates, I had lost interest in listening to radio. That all happened about the same time as Top 40 performers relying heavily on auto-tune, and my musically trained ears just can’t stomach that awful processing, unless it’s used as some sort of special effect. I know I’m getting old, but the vast majority of pop music falls into three categories: 1. all humanity drained from the track by autotune, 2. screaming and yelling and yodeling-like sounds trying to sound like Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston, and 3. whispered tracks that sound like a cat making yowling sounds to a backing track.

Back in my day, while going up hill in the snow both ways to get to school, “classic hits” harkened back to the days of Elvis, the Beatles, and other bee-bop and Rock ‘n Roll. Today’s “classic hits” format plays music from my teenage days to the late 90s, and for the most part sit quite well with me.

Here’s four “classic hit” stations that caught my attention during our trip.

KMXO 95.3 FM in Rolla, Missouri had a strong signal for a good share of the Interstate 44 corridor and had a nice mix of music from multiple decades. I liked everything I heard, the station branding is strong, and it didn’t feel too narrowly focused. With Internet streaming, you can listen here.

I first heard 92.5 KOMA from Oklahoma City in late 2000s when I was attending training for work in Norman, Okla. The station goes back to what I would consider “classic hits” but comes up into the late 80s and plays a nice mix. I often listen to this station courtesy of Alexa; it was nice to listen to the station in real time in an analog way. We listened going into Oklahoma City on I-44 and held onto the signal quite a ways west along Interstate 40 as we made our towards Amarillo. You can listen to KOMA here.

When we decided to move to Tucson I started looking around online to find radio stations that would fit my listening needs. I never really did that when we moved to Chicago; I don’t know enough about Windy City radio other than to listen to WBBM for traffic and weather on the 8s. K-HIT 107.5 in Tucson is a heavily 80s station, at least when I listened to it earlier this week. I had the windows down and the tunes cranked as I made my way down Speedway looking for a recommended Mexican restaurant. I was blasting Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Culture Club. You can listen to it here.

WJEZ covers Livingston County in Illinois. It’s licensed to Dwight, Illinois and identifies to Pontiac. It comes in beautifully across the prairie along the Interstate 55 corridor. I had the sense this is a newer format for the station, and my radio tuned ears could easily identify that it relies heavily on automation in that someone is sitting in a studio running multiple stations through specialized computer equipment at the same time. The first four songs we heard were straight off the old Wow-FM playlist I would generate back in the late 1990s. We heard tracks from the late 1990s going as far back as to The Rolling Stones and a couple of Top 40 tracks from the early 1970s. The mix was eclectic. The only thing that was odd was there were a couple of weird edits to songs, almost like they were hastily edited to fit a certain time slot. I’ve heard many edits of “Groove Is In The Heart” by Dee-lite, but the edit I heard on WJEZ was nothing I’d ever heard before. I still really liked the station, found the air personalities friendly, if slightly generic (hence my bet on automated trickery) and I recommend the station. You can listen here.

Cleanliness.

I was very nervous about traveling during these pandemic times. Since the beginning of this ordeal we have been going out of our way to remain as isolated as possible. We always wear masks, wash our hands a lot, and do our best to maintain as much distance as possible from others.

When we decided to drive to Tucson I knew it wasn’t going to be like any other road trip. We’d be eating in the car. We wouldn’t get to know the local flavor of a town by eating in a diner or hanging out at a bar.

And I was worried about how the whole hotel thing would work.

Hampton Inn has modified their amenities to help combat the spread of COVID.

1. There is no housekeeping. Once a room is occupied, no one but the guest goes in there until they check out. Make your own bed.

2. There is no breakfast buffet, which actually fine by me. I’ve often been horrified by the behavior of my fellow Americans at a hotel breakfast buffet; I’d be doubly horrified if they continued to pull the same stunts during the pandemic.

3. Each room is sealed with a “it’s clean!” sticker on the door. The room smells really, really clean. Either they gassed the entire place with a barrel of Lysol or they actually cleaned the room Either way is a win win.

4. If you want to use the fitness facilities or the pool, you must make an appointment at the front desk.

5. You can’t browse the pantry. They’ll get it for you.

I’m feeling better about this trip knowing that many businesses are going out of their way to do the right thing as far as cleanliness and safety goes.

Mask use has been better than I expected at the various establishments we’ve stopped at along the way. The only disappointment was a Wendy’s in western Oklahoma. I gave them the what for on Yelp. Otherwise, I’d say about 80-85% of the patrons and staff have been following reasonable precautions.

If we all work together, we can get through this together.

Road Trip.

I am writing this from Oklahoma. We are on a road trip during a pandemic. We are well acquainted with quick pit stops and drive thrus. Panera isn’t Panera in St. Louis but the gift card still works just fine.

Tomorrow we shall see the desert.

Chilled.

I am very much looking forward to our move to the desert Southwest. After living through 52 winters, the vast majority of them in frigid cold and/or feet of snow, I’m in the mood to celebrate this time of year with a light jacket and a cocktail on the back porch overlooking cacti.

Last night was the second of two major server migrations at work. I had the activity planned to the moment, but the Database Tech carrying out the migration of critical company data was confused and for a bit seemed to have lost two weeks of customer orders. The data was found and finally placed it in its proper place, but it was touch and go for a few moments. I had to remember to keep calm and carry on.

The migration went later than planned and I ended up clocking in about five and a half hours of sleep last night. Today we had a few support requests as a result of the migration, but for the most part things went well. I’m just exhausted.

Exhausted and cold.

I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep tonight. I’m looking forward to warmer temperatures. Soon.