The saddest thing about having a Facebook account during the Trump administration is now knowing the moral compass and political leanings of family members and friends. Politically, I consider myself slightly left of center. But what is most important to me is all humans, regardless of color, creed, sexual orientation, gender identification, or country of origin, are worthy of basic human decency and respect. Just because someone has different color skin or speaks a different language or dresses differently doesn’t mean they’re any less worthy of respect. It’s the actions or other displays of intent and morality that show the true colors of a person.
Facebook has given voice to those that normally wouldn’t speak up, even those that remove their last name from their account so they can’t be as easily identified in public. My happy memories of time spent in real life with these friends and family members are forever tarnished. Tainted. Diminished.
It’s easy to blame Facebook because the platform perpetuates the issue. Facebook stokes on the cancer. Like most western medicine, the answer is to solve for the symptom: delete Facebook. But that’s like making a person a little more comfortable as they’re fighting cancer. And the systemic racism and transphobia and homophobia and misogyny and everything else is a cancer eating away at the core of our society. And it’s growing out of control.
I’m incredibly sad about this.
I’m not looking for everyone to think like I do or to be enthralled with the idea of Joe Biden as president. I’m asking for human decency. That’s it.
And too many people lack human decency these days.
In the fall of 1978, at age 10, I asked my mother what hell was and how that worked with reincarnation. My mom responded that she thought we were in hell right now and if we get it right this time, we won’t have to reincarnate again and go to heaven.
We were flipping through streamed television (remember when we used to flip through channels?) and one of the news programs was interviewing a woman who was undecided about whom she was going to vote in November.
I’m not the brightest bulb in the chandelier but who in God’s name is still undecided at this point?
You can’t escape the reaches of COVID-19 nor can one dodge the constant ads that are being shoved in our faces from everyone form of media possible. Small wonder our microwave display doesn’t tell us whom to vote for when we’re done reheating lunch. YouTube is infested with Trump ads, Joe Biden’s high wattage smile appears everywhere, and every application made by everyone and anyone in Silicon Valley wants to know if I’m registered to vote. They probably want to tell the Russians.
There are large banners polluting the prairies and flags waving in the cities. Two names: Biden and Trump. One is a raving lunatic, the other was once a vice-president.
It boggles my mind that someone can have no idea as to whom they’re voting for.
I rode the Lakefront trail here in Chicago for the first time this year. With COVID-19, rising water levels in the Great Lakes, and other construction work to mitigate the eroding beaches, I was never sure as to where and when the trail was open and when it was closed.
It turns out that as long as you keep moving and don’t congregate in groups, you’re welcome to enjoy this little slice of the city.
The Lakefront Trail runs about 20 miles along Chicago’s shoreline of Lake Michigan. It’s well marked, it has exit and entry points that tie the trail into the ever-growing designated cycling routes along city streets, and for the vast majority of the trail, it separates cycling traffic from pedestrian traffic (when joggers and walkers follow their signs). There’s a couple of places where it’s particular congested, mainly near the downtown and tourist areas. Chicago’s bike share program, Divvy, is quite popular and there’s a lot of folks enjoying the availability of these bikes with their classic ding-ding bells.
I rode the trail down to the south side of the city, deciding to turn around at the 2400 block, which put me about eight miles from home (as the crow flies). People were pleasant, and when I was taking a few moments to enjoy some water and get turned around, I had a nice chat with two ladies who were out for their Sunday stroll. They were laughing amongst themselves and we exchanged pleasantries as I passed them.
My bike is nearly two decades old and has thousands of miles on it. I don’t see myself replacing it anytime soon, if ever. It does what it needs to do and I feel very comfortable on it. I swapped out the saddle a couple of years ago after my last round of surgery. I don’t need something supporting my crotch and possibly causing “trauma” in that area. The split saddle I use now is quite comfortable and it makes the rides more enjoyable.
I started my first “corporate” job on my 20th birthday. After a brief data entry position in Maynard (which I completed way ahead of schedule), I was hired at Digital Equipment Corporation in the Corporate Employee Communications Department in Concord, Mass. For the first couple of months I worked as an Administrative Secretary to the lead of the department. I was hired by one her liaisons, as she was on a one-month sabbatical at the time and the woman working in the support position had moved to another part of the company. After a few months I was moved to the position of “Department Coordinator III”. At 20 years old I provided tech support for the entire group of users. As communicators of varying degrees, they produced periodic newsletters, electronic communications, and other media based communiques for the entire company of over 200K employees. At the time, Digital was the 2nd largest computer company in the world.
I was hired into the position through the temp agency Manpower; I had aced their CBT, or Computer Based Training, in less than four hours. It was meant to be a week long course. They couldn’t believe I was finished with the course when I asked them what was next on the agenda during training week. They had me take a test and when I aced it they slipped me into the position that had opened up with the intent of moving me to a more technical position as soon as it became available.
At 20 years old and with little in the way of a college education, people were amazed at my “knack” for computers. In my spare time I had already written a point of sale program that ran on the Commodore 64, TRS-80 Model II, and the Apple III, and had made a little bit of cash by selling it as shareware on various Bulletin Board Services across the country. Even though I was a geek through and through, I had very little knowledge in the way of the corporate world. I knew I had to wear a tie, shave everyday, and be as focused and humble as possible. I look back and I was a mess. Once in a while I’ll see a rerun of “Murphy Brown” and her disasters of temporary secretaries and think that must have been based on me. I was much more comfortable when I moved into the tech support role, though I did set alarms off more than once by messing around on the server clusters after hours.
At Digital (we never called it “DEC”) the motto was it was easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. And I used that to my advantage. A lot. I still live by that today.
I can’t believe it’s been 30 years since I took the opportunity to leave the company and pursue whatever life had next on my agenda. Occasionally I’ll have dreams of living and working back in Massachusetts, settling into my old role in my old cubicle, armed with today’s knowledge but still using the old VT-330 terminal connected to the server cluster on the first floor. In these recurring dreams I’m often laughing with my former co-workers. I like to think that one of my strongest assets was to make my co-workers laugh, even when stress levels were through the roof. My weirdness wasn’t obnoxious, it was humorous, and if any of my former co-workers remember me, I hope they remember me like this: “He had a weird knack for figuring out problems by looking for patterns. And he was so pleasant to work with”.
A lot of what I know today as a corporate citizen in the 21st century is rooted in what I learned in Concord, Mass. in the late 1980s. I don’t know what happened to that old team, but if I ever get the chance, I’d like to say thank you to Anne, Jim, Richard, Jennifer, Meg, Ann, Janine, Kate, Dawn, Barbara, Ellin, Donna, Beth, Marilyn, Carol, Karen, Marie, Erline, and Marny for all your support, your patience, and your knowledge.
You helped me find my path. And even 30 years later, you make me smile as if it was just yesterday.
I need to see some autumn colors today. Mother Nature didn’t really want me up in the air in one of my favorite airplanes today, so we went for a ride across the prairies of Northern Illinois.
I’m getting to know Northern Illinois like the back of my hand. I feel as comfortable driving across the backroads of the area as if I was driving the backroads of my native Upstate New York.
The beauty here is different but nonetheless quite beautiful.
We made a stop at Kankakee River State Park. The camping areas have been closed for 2020 but many folks were enjoying the picnic areas along the river. We spent some time strolling about the quiet Potawatomi Camping Area. During our walk we talked about retirement and touring the country in an RV.
As a solid Gen-Xer, I was raised on 1970s and 80s television. Monday night? Little House On The Prairie. Tuesday night? Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. Wednesday: Eight Is Enough. Thursday: Mork and Mindy, The Waltons.
The list goes on.
Sprinkled in there was “The Mary Tyler Moore” show. The show was a little more adult than I preferred in my elementary years but I always found Mary Tyler Moore to have that classic beauty and she seemed really nice. I know the theme song and opening credits have always brought a smile to my face.
Remember when television shows brought a smile to our face? Television was an escape from the rigamarole of real life. We could step away from the ills of the day and lose ourselves in a idealized version of days gone by or laugh our way through 30 minutes of escapist comedy. Sure, plenty of shows had a realism to them, but the technology and production values of the day gave us the opportunity to fill in the blanks with our imagination.
Whenever I see the Peignot Font, preferably in rainbow colors, or hear the familiar first bass notes of the theme song, I instantly think of Mary Tyler Moore and her smile. And then I smile.