Snow.

It’s our first big snow storm of the winter here in Chicago. I walked the neighborhood this afternoon. There’s around eight inches of snow on the ground in our area. It doesn’t really slow things down in our fine city.

I am happy I don’t have to shovel it.

Emotion.

My dad’s biggest display of emotion toward me took place after Grandpa Country died. After the funeral, family and friends gathered at his mid-century modern home situated on an empty egg and beef farm to pay their respects and have some potato salad. My grandmother had passed a little over nine years before his passing; his second wife was distraught and sitting in the dining room under the Tiffany lamp my grandmother had picked for the family to enjoy. She had endured the passing of three husband.

I went outside and sat on a folding chair in the driveway, looked at the once vibrant barns, and broke down in tears. The home of Gram and Gramps had changed considerably after my grandmother had passed; with Gramps’ passing as well I knew it was just a short amount of time before what I considered to be one of the most beautiful houses in the world would be emptied and someone else would occupy it. That happy story was coming to an end. I was 37 at the time, but it was the heart of one of sixteen grandchildren that was aching. My dad saw his only son break down in tears and he was genuinely concerned. He hugged me voluntarily that day. He said words to me he had never said out loud before.

Just writing that paragraph makes my throat hurt.

As a Gen-X offspring of a baby boomer couple composed of rural farm boy and a city girl, I grew up with the best of both worlds. I’m sure my circumstance is not unique, but most of my classmates came from families that knew each other from the hometown we all grew up in. My mom? She came from outside, “the big city” of Syracuse. My dad? I went to school with the offspring of his married classmates. Some still thought of my mother as an outsider.

My mother expresses emotion at the drop of a hat. Cry, shriek, laugh, yell: she could rattle dishes in the kitchen cabinets of the neighbors across a hay field. I’d known her to breakdown in tears when my father shunned her sloppy joes. Temper? Nah. Exasperation. You betcha. My dad grew up in an environment where there wasn’t much expressed in the way of emotion. I remember hugging my grandmother, his mother, once in 28 years. He took after his mother. Not only was he a man of few words, he didn’t really share his emotion. I fully believe it just wasn’t part of his vocabulary. And that was perfectly fine with me. I got it. His laugh was genuine, but the other stuff was kept inside. We didn’t hug much; I knew very much that he loved me but it wasn’t expressed verbally, and crying was not a thing that guys from his side of the family did. I always figured that Mom’s more emotive side fueled some sort of gay tendency for me to express my emotion. I was different, and my tendency to be expressive in that way was just part of the equation. I can still remember leaving his home after a family dinner, my husband in tow, and Dad saying “I love you son” and me breaking down in tears on the front porch and then my husband crying as well because he knew that was a rarity. I figured my dad liked the guy that became my husband after all. Hearing him say that he loved me, well, that just blew my mind. It was always just a given.

With social media and the like it’s common to read about the passing of relatives of friends. This is just a part of the cycle of life. While I do choke back tears from time to time, I don’t really feel the need to wail or carry on when someone passes. I don’t know if it’s because of the way I’m wired or what, but I can vividly see the person that has passed moving on to the next step in their existence and being very happy. When my father-in-law passed, I had very vivid visions of him happy and holding his first wife’s hand for the first time in a long time. This didn’t negate his relationship with his second wife; there’s enough love to go around. It’s just that he was with his first wife again and blissfully happy to see her for the first time in a long while. I can see it as plain as day.

On Facebook I’m friends with the officiant that was part of our wedding and recently her Mom passed. She asked for no expressions of remorse or “thoughts and prayers” or messages of condolences. She asked for posts of happiness and celebration. She believes as I do; the passing of a human being is just movement from one phase of existence to the next.

When I die I hope people laugh and have pleasant memories and say, “he was such a joy to be around”. I don’t want people wailing and crying and having dark thoughts or sadness. I’ll forgive loneliness. But I believe my passing will be just moving on to the next stage of my total experience. I have absolutely no doubt that my spirit, who I am, will move on to something better, something joyful. I believe that happens to all of us. It’s a moment to be celebrated. So, if you’re a reader of this blog and my husband posts something about my death, take a moment to smile. And hug someone you love.

How you choose to express yourself, own it.

Decade.

Ten years ago.

I’ve been working through cleaning up my online presence and decided to tackle Tumblr today. Surprisingly, I had more than a dozen Tumblr accounts under various email addresses. I’ve spent the last hour cleaning all of that up. Do people still use Tumblr?

Following the Tumblr links back to my blog and then following comment links brought me to a couple of different LiveJournal blogs that are still active! This is exciting as I didn’t know LiveJournal was still around. I must catch up.

One of the things I found was a feed pulled from my original Instagram account, which contains photos that never made it to MobileMe back in the day. At the time I did not have an iPhone; between my original iPhone and my iPhone 3G I was working in a more rural part of Upstate New York. This area did not have AT&T 3G service at the time, so I had moved the family to Verizon. The iPhone 3G was not initially available on Verizon, so we all had the original Motorola Droid phones on Verizon. They worked well for what they were. Here’s a blog entry about the experience from back then. I’m happy we moved back to the iPhone.

It’s interesting to read about what I had to say about the original iPad and my state of mind 10 years ago. In some ways I may have grown older but am I wiser? Probably. I’ve accomplished a lot in these past 10 years and realizing this makes me feel better about my place in the world. I’m happy with the career choices I’ve made along the way and I enjoy my job much more than the position I had 10 years ago.

While I’m hesitant to say 2021 will be better than 2020 for the world in general, I am determined to make sure 2021 is better for my family than it was in 2020.

Cee Dee.

It was spring 1987 and at age 18 as a freshman in college, a man showed romantic interest in me. Never considering myself “a catch”, I was baffled yet somewhat enamored by the whole affair. He invited me to his two room apartment and we listened to a small selection of music on his new CD player.

I had never seen or listened to music on a CD player before that night, and being the dork I am, I was intrigued by this device playing music off of shiny discs. I had seen the discs in the record stores, with their oddly shaped rectangular cases designed to compliment the record albums in the racks, but I never removed one from the package or played with an actual player. I had mastered my Dad’s General Electric VCR with ease and enjoyed the sound of music over my Yorx stereo system, but this CD player seemed so digital.

I quickly acclimated to listening to music on CDs. they were portable and far superior in sound quality to cassettes, and my music collection shifted from vinyl to CD. When I purchased my first CD player in 1989 I hooked it up to my aging Yorx stereo and it brought new life to the equipment I had purchased when I was still in high school.

In 1989 I worked for Digital, or DEC as it was commonly yet erroneously called. Slight tangent: the industry called Digital “DEC” but as employees we were highly discouraged from the same, as the company did not want to be a three letter acronym like IBM. Digital Equipment Corporation was “Digital”, not “DEC”.

OK, back to the story. I was working in my cubicle at CFO2 when my co-worker Karen called me for help with her computer. She was hooking up a new drive and needed some clarification on how to do it.

Her new drive was an external CD drive. This blew me away.

Employees at Digital tended to be rather tech-savvy, even personal assistants and secretaries, because the company pushed for a paperless experience. We all had computers on our desks (not a given back then) and those computers were part of the larger network throughout the company, which had connections to the outside world. But running software or reading data from a CD player, which in my mind was designed for music? That was surprising.

“This CD holds the same amount of data as 1000 floppies”, she said.

To this day I can still remember my idiotic question, “is it noisy”?

I easily figured out how to hook the CD player up to her computer and she was on her way accessing data on the CD she had been holding. I watched her work and was surprised at how quickly the data filled the screen. Within minutes she was back to being productive at her desk. Not a sound from the CD player, it just spun the disc and provided her the data she was looking for.

I hadn’t thought about this in years but this morning I was listening to a track by Anders Enger Jensen called “DiscoVision” and was reminded of my first experiences with CD.

Enjoy this retro track. In Digital.

Glasses.

I’m slowly getting used to my new reading glasses. Spending 10 or more hours in front of a computer for work and then various recreational activities on my technological devices have taken its toll on my eyes; however, I was always destined to need glasses sooner or later. All of my relatives wear glasses; I’m lucky I made it this far with only needing occasional glasses.

The new frames are lightweight and quite comfortable to wear. I’m embracing my middle age. I probably need to drop a few more Dad jokes to complete the experience.

Shriek.

I love it when people laugh. There’s not enough laughter in our world today, but making people laugh or hearing people laugh gives me a such a happy feeling. It’s so energizing.

You know who had an awesome laugh? Michael Landon. He had a hearty laugh that was often heard in both “Bonanza” and “Little House On The Prairie”. He had an honest laugh. It wasn’t something forced, it came from the heart and that’s probably why so many people still speak so fondly of him to this day.

Once in a while I’ll hear a laugh that is more startling than anything. Watching the clip from “The Golden Girls” above, around the 47 second mark you’ll hear a woman screaming in a very odd way. I don’t find it part of the laughter. It doesn’t give me a happy feeling. Maybe she was expressing her appreciate of Bea’s humor in the only way she knew how. Or perhaps she was making unnatural sounds to be remembered on an episode audience track until the end of time and eventually make it to my blog over 35 years later.

When I hear someone make unnatural sounds like that on a laugh track I have to wonder what that person is like in real life. Admittedly, I wonder what noises they make during sex. Do they scream like fire alarms? Do they make cattle restless? Does their amorous partner don ear plugs as part of the foreplay? Will I end up next to a person that screams like this at a movie theatre? I hope they’re not having sex then.

I guess honest expression of laughter are what fill me with happiness. Shrieks are more startling than happy. Perhaps after getting over being startled I’d laugh in a nervous sort of way while eyeing the room for evidence of some sort of psychotic action.

Laugh along with Bea. Don’t shriek at her.

Trains.

Riding the ‘L’ for the first time in four months. Family dinner tonight but we didn’t want to deal with trying to find a parking place.

Winter.

It’s starting to feel like winter in these parts. The other day it occurred to me that it hadn’t really felt like winter had kicked in yet. Temperatures have been relatively mild for this time of year and we hadn’t much snow.

This week in January has historically been the coldest week of the year. While still relatively mild, at least we’re seeing snow now.

Clean Up, Part 2.

Last night my dreams were full of paranoid thoughts about computers and online networks and social media. I woke up incredibly and needlessly worried that something bad was going to happen if I didn’t continue my efforts to clean up old accounts and the like. So today I deleted a bunch more of my online presence.

I’ve never found a use for Pinterest. I’d “pin” some interesting photos or whatnot and they’d be arranged on a “board” but then Pinterest would suggest to me things that had absolutely no relation to what I was pinning. The account sat idle for a year or two and I decided to just ahead and delete the thing.

Pinterest does not make this easy. You can suspend, you can change your password, but to delete your account Pinterest has to send you an email and then you respond, which could reactivate your account because you have to sign in again. And the cycle went round and round until it finally stuck.

If someone can tell me why I should have Pinterest feel free to comment below.

I also pared down my Dropbox account to something that would fit in the Basic model. We already pay for an iCloud family plan, there’s no reason for us to have Dropbox as well. Delete delete delete. Besides, do I really want *all* of my information in the cloud?

No. The cloud is just someone else’s computer.

Beach Time.

With all the pandemic stuff going on we just had to get away and see some beach. I know, it’s the middle of winter in the upper Midwest but I don’t care. We hopped in the car and drove to Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan, just so we could hear the sounds of crashing waves from Lake Michigan.

It was brisk, but it was a delight.