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.

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All Of The World Shut Down.

Back in 1986, when I was a college freshman at SUNY Fredonia, studying Music Education, a bunch of us in the music school on a Friday night and just started playing around with our instruments and voices. I will never forget the utter joy I felt as we figured out “Life In A Northern Town” by Dream Academy. Even though I had been told my voice would never be worthy of public performance (and was subsequently an ‘instrument’ student after a second audition), I still can not express the emotion I felt harmonizing with my classmates as I sang backups on this track, in a practice room in the Music School building.

Pretty.

Last night I posted a picture of myself standing on our balcony, basking in the light of an impending thunderstorm and the ambient lighting of the area, shirtless. I am reminded of a conversation with my Big Brother Season 4 handler, Katie, before I told her I was dropping out of the Top 32 running for the casting of that season. I had to check in with Katie every 12 hours and talk about the most intimate of details of my thought processes. Katie didn’t know what to think, perhaps she reverted to a script when this happened.

Katie: “Can you please send me a photo of you shirtless? A webcam photo will do.”

J.P., within an hour, sends a photo to the designated email address. This involved connecting to an Internet Service Provider via dialup.

Katie: “Well, do you mind always wearing a shirt while you’re on camera?”

It was ultimately my choice to drop out of Big Brother 4’s casting call because my husband said he wasn’t going to be waiting for me if I got kicked out of the house early because he thought the whole thing was ridiculous. But he was very supportive of me for getting to the top 32 of the casting call, despite the 75 page contract that had been faxed over in the middle of the night. So, while wearing a shirt at home, I left a message on handler Katie’s voicemail that I was dropping out of the running.

It’s a good thing I dropped out because I could have ended up with the guy who went crazy during the first week. He started throwing chairs and got kicked out because he was screaming about having anal warts.

Good times.

Insight.

The tendency for family and friends to share their political beliefs on social media, especially leading up to and since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has been very eye opening for me. A little bit of background; my father never discussed politics. Actually, it was pretty rare for anyone in our family to have a political discussion. Either that or I was shielded from any discussions of this sort. Of course times were different back then and people weren’t as whipped up about these things, though now that I think about it I remember a couple of off-handed comments about “All In The Family” or “Maude”. But seeing what family and friends write on social media today, me included, is rather eye-opening.

I understand that not everyone is going to see eye-to-eye on these things. I get that. To be honest, my “world view” has expanded considerably since moving to The Windy City nearly three years ago. Before leaving Upstate New York I used to enjoy spending Thursday evenings at the airport having a couple of beers with close friends and solving the political problems of the world. The three of us that tended to do this were a good blend: one on the right but not too far right, one on the left but not too far left, and one in the middle leaning socially in one direction and fiscally in another. We kept the conversation civil, even leading up to and after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. It’s certainly possible to do this. However, there’s a reason those two aren’t active on social media. They’re sane.

On social media right now I have family by relation and by marriage that are saying the wildest things. Disappointing things. Some things that leave me speechless. Dumbfounded. These particular folk feel that Trump is doing a great job in the White House. Today. Right now.

The only thing that goes through my head is this: da fuq?

Now, I’ll admit I can’t bring myself to watch Fox News for more than 30 seconds without wanting to kick the television across the room. When my husband is watching some sort of news broadcast and Trump comes on with that horrible sing-songy preacher-for-a-penny-wannabe voice he has I become enraged. The man is a moron. Anyone who has to tell you constantly share his superior level of intelligence is actually an insecure idiot. Back in my commuting days I’d listen to right leaning talk radio just to see what others were thinking on various subjects, but even the most pearl-clutching, shat-bit crazy rhetoric at the time had nothing on some of the twisting and turning the folks on Fox News do to plump up Trump today.

And I can’t believe I’m associated, either by relation or by choice, with people that believe that crap.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been drawing a line at maintaining amy relationships. If anything racist is shared I end the online relationship immediately and honestly I question assembly with these folks in real life. And yes, that includes memes where “#BlackLivesMatter” is crossed out and replaced with “AllLivesMatter”. No explanation, no dialog, you’ve made up your mind, I’m outta here, and no need to pass me the cole slaw at the next gathering, we probably won’t be in the same room.

I tried. I attempted to understand. I tried explaining the importance of like this: imagine going to St. Jude Children’s Hospital and telling the kids living through their childhood cancer that “Hey, All Children Matter!”. Any compassionate human being wouldn’t ever say that. Just because we’re saying “Black LivesMatter” right now, because it’s been much too long since society has realized this, doesn’t mean other lives don’t have value. It’s just that we’re not going to tolerate this racial injustice, we need to fix it, and something has to be done.

The person I shared this with said everything was fine since Obama was president, and actually President Obama was racist against whites because of Affirmative Action. I didn’t go any further in their diatribe before hitting “Unfriend”.

As I type this I can’t help but think that perhaps not talking about politics may have not been the best approach. I feel less educated on matters than I should be and I’m not good debater on these subjects. I’m not looking to live in a bubble of my personal belief, but I’m looking to have discussions with people that have open minds. I like to think I’m open minded.

But the idea that based on skin color some folks have more value than others? Yeah, I’m not discussing that. It’s just wrong.

Plandemic.

I am so confused. I thought the pandemic was planned so we’d all be with our families when NASA got the maths wrong and the asteroid slammed into the planet, reigniting fossil fuels into living dinosaurs, which would then cause Shell Oil to appear on all calculators held upside down before women went boobless.

Simplicity.

This is my alarm clock.

After spending time on and off my nightstand for the past weeks and months I’ve decided that it belongs on my nightstand.

This alarm clock, purchased during my senior year of high school, has worked reliably since 1986. It keeps time as well as the power grid will allow it, it can tune in both AM and FM radio stations using the antenna built into the power cable and it’s simple to set and easy to synchronize to an atomic clock.

My mid-1980s vintage General Electric alarm clock doesn’t require updates, doesn’t need to reboot, and uses LED digits that do not blind me in the middle of the night. I can’t talk to it and it doesn’t talk to me, but it does wake me up every morning with the sounds of NewsRadio WBBM.

I have flirted with other alarm clocks, especially over the past year or two. An Alexa Dot that featured a round face, the eerie laugh of Alexa in the middle of the night, and a camera pointed at my slumbering visage. I most recently tried a Lenovo Smart Clock, powered by Google Assistant. Using a miniaturized version of the Google Assistant software found on the Google Nest Home Hub, it likes to update in the middle of the night and shine LED backlighting on my eyes. Sometimes I wake up with a sunburn.

Luckily, I bought it during the holidays for over 50% off. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

After swapping between my old reliable GE and the Lenovo for the past week I’ve settled with sticking with the tried and true. The red digits make no impression in the darkened room when we’re sleeping and the alarm is always on time.

Sometimes you just have to keep it simple.

Sweat Assistant.

Truman was absolutely mystified by my Resistance Band Workout this morning. For the first 20 minutes he simply sat in the doorway, head cocked, watching me strike various poses as I worked my way through a free video on YouTube.

When I decided to do some planks is when he became a comedian. As I struggled to maintain a plank he walked under me, rubbed his butt on my arms, and waved his tail in my face. On the bright side, he didn’t jump up on my back.

I’m not sure my plank could have handled an additional 15 pound cat coming along for the ride.

The Horror’s.

Screen cap taken Mon 02 Dec 19 2125 CT.

You don’t know how much it pained me to abuse the apostrophe in the title of this blog post. If you’re unaware of what I’m talking about, this blog post is for you.

First of all, in common parlance the title should read “the horror”. Because I was trying to make a point, I pluralized “horror” to “horror’s” which should have been “horrors”. The horror doesn’t own anything. In this instance the apostrophe is trying to show possession. The horror doesn’t possess anything.

Apostrophes are used to show what the word has (possessive use) or what the word is missing (a contraction). Apostrophes are _never_ used to denote plural. Ever.

I recently read something at work where a distant co-worker basically referred to “The Jone’s”. Luckily, I work remotely, hundreds of miles from my closest co-worker, but there’s a chance they could still hear my screams.

First of all, we never use an apostrophe for the plural. Secondly, the last name in question was not “Jone”, it was “Jones”. If a house belonged to the Jones, it would be “the Jones’ house”, or possibly, “the Jones’s house” (though that makes me cringe a bit). If we are talking about the folks in the family, we’d be talking about the Joneses. Because when we want to use the plural form of a word ending in “s”, we add an “es”. Not an apostrophe, and we certainly don’t change the spelling of a name to something it’s not just to wedge an apostrophe into inappropriate places.

While I’m on a rant, use the loops of your pants to keep your trousers up because you’re losing weight and subsequently your pants have a looser fit. That’s because you didn’t eat two desserts in the desert after you deserted the rest of the group. And honestly, I couldN’T care less how much weight you’ve gained or lost. If I could care less I probably would.

Please take notes.

I mention all of this because today I read a story about “The Apostrophe Protection Society” closing up shop, basically because the efforts of the society have become a lost cause. The founder of “The Apostrophe Protection Society”, John Richards, age 96, has decided to abandon the effort, citing society has become too stupid and lazy to use apostrophes properly.

I feel his pain.

For All Mankind.

We signed up for Apple TV+ this past weekend. We actually upgraded the Apple TV to get a year’s worth of Apple TV+ as part of the purchase and get more punch from our Apple TV service. The upgrade was worth it.

I’ve been interested in the Apple Original Series “For All Mankind” since it was announced earlier this year. We are into the first two of three episodes and I’m really enjoyed the series. I know some of the reviews have been a solid “meh” for the series, but I consider those reviews to be similar to the reviews of Epcot from people who were expecting more rides.

It’s not about the thrill, it’s about the thought.

“For All Mankind” is gorgeous and feels very accurate to the late 1960s, at least what I remember of the era. The production team is paying attention to even the small details and the only thing that feels slightly out of place is Joel Kinnaman’s haircut.

I’m enjoying the series more than my husband. I’d give it an A-, he’d give it a B.

I’m looking forward to the next episode.

Topics.

I would like to spend my days talking about airplanes, being a pilot, piloting airplanes, using ForeFlight on my iPad as my Electronic Flight Bag, the wonders of Apple, life in Chicago, and the enjoyment of my existence. These are things I strive to talk about, but there’s so much going on in the world I feel like I can’t be silent about important topics.

People following my Twitter feed (the one I abandoned and then fired up again) must think I am nuts. One moment I’m tweeting about my favorite airplane, the next moment I’m sharing a photo from “Star Trek: Voyager”, and then I start going on about the current state of politics in the United States.

There’s just so much crap going on these days and anyone with a higher IQ than the speed limit (which is apparently, yet shockingly, not enough people in today’s society) can see that we are a nation in crisis. To pretend it’s not happening feels unpatriotic. To gloss over all the stuff happening with the Trump Administration and think everything is fine is like sipping a tea on a veranda that is engulfed in blames.

Things are not fine. The guy in the Oval Office thinks he’s a dictator. His children are making wads of money from foreign interests that run contrary to the beliefs of the United States. Facebook has decided to let politicians say whatever the hell they want in ads, regardless of the truthfulness of the content. The CEO of Twitter is more concerned with looking “hip” in his homeless hat than controlling what’s going on with the platform that has run completely off the rails. Children are in cages, farmers are losing money left and right, and the Trump Administration is doing its best to divide the country, instill mistrust in anything to do with the media or governmental process, and make as much as possible for its own self-interests.

This is not what The United States of America is about.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are belching up as many candidates as possible with the apparent theory, “hey, a shitstorm of a primary worked for the GOP in 2016, maybe we should give it a try!” and only God knows why we would want Bernie or Biden as President when they don’t even know where they are half the time.

It’s like too many people have just given up.

We need to end career politicians. Now. Senator Susan Collins of Maine? Get her out of there. Marco Rubio? Ted Cruz? Please, get them out of there.

Don’t even get me started with Mitch McConnell.

Look, we can fix this. It’s going to take decades and it’s going to take a lot of hard work from all of us that Pledge Allegiance to the Flag, but we can do it. We need to work together, talk rationally, and listen intently. Yeah, I get hysterical and emotional and quite frankly I need to knock it off, and so does everyone else.

So talking about things I love? I’d love to. But I want to do my part to make sure we still have a sane society where we can still talk about the things we love.