Truth.

In the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it. — Barack Obama

This is another reason as to why I love our neighborhood.

Neighborhood Support.

Chicago’s Boystown is about 12 blocks away from our home. I haven’t been down there much since COVID-19 made its debut. The couple of times I’ve passed through it was a little depressing. I’m sure things are picking up as quarantine practices are relaxed a bit. I’m not ready to risk that sort of mass public contact yet.

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Corporations are quick to show their support with Pride colors flying here in the 21st century, and while I have a little bit of cynicism around their displays overall I feel like it helps with the cause.

What I really enjoy is when neighbors display Pride colors. One block in our neighborhood is decked out with Pride colored ribbons, with an extra Black Lives Matter ribbon on top.

It’s good to know we live in such a supportive area. I hope we can be a beacon of hope for the rest of the country.

Quiet.

There were peaceful protests over George Floyd’s death last night in our neighborhood. Chicago is still under a nightly curfew and mass transit was shutdown again last night at 9:30 PM Central. As of right now, the ‘L’ and CTA buses are not going into downtown.

As I walked around the neighborhood this morning there were a number of businesses that had taken the initiative to close early and/or board up their windows. It was worth noting that none of the plywood or particle board used to cover up these businesses had been sprayed with graffiti and there were absolutely no signs of unrest.

As word about protests in our neighborhood made its way around the Internet yesterday, my husband and I formulated a plan to keep our home and ourselves safe. Luckily we did not need to implement that plan, as the peaceful protest ended up taking place a couple of blocks from us. We had family at the protest and he reported everything was calm and orderly and most importantly, valid. When asked to disperse, the protestors dispersed.

Most of the protests here in The Second City have had a violent and/or looting element associated with them. Bad actors will always be present at anything of this nature but their actions do not negate the importance and the necessity of exercising free speech.

I hope the right people are hearing the right message. Racism is not OK. Racism is intolerable.

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Darkness.

This is the Sears Tower*, as seen from our balcony. Notice there are no lights shining in the Sears Tower. That’s because the electricity is still off in the Sears Tower.

The power distribution center in the basement of the Sears Tower was flooded with over four feet of water during the heavy rain last weekend. Power needed to be turned off to the entire skyscraper so repairs could be made in a safe manner. Fried repairmen are not productive.

Four days later, the famous skyscraper still stands in darkness. It’s rather creepy to look out there and see the tallest building in Chicago completely dark.

* The Sears Tower actually became the Willis Tower in 2009, but everyone I know, and from what I understand, most of Chicago, still calls it the Sears Tower. Because it’s the Sears Tower.

Progress.

I love the fact we have construction going on in our neighborhood. It’s great to live in a place that’s growing. When moving to Chicago we picked our neighborhood because it was “Up and Coming”.

I’m delighted to see this continue two and half years later.

One of the latest projects is the removal of an abandoned lumber yard down the street. The location had evidence of being closed long before we moved into our condo and I was hoping someone would do something with the lot. It’s a good location: it’s adjacent to a Trader Joe’s and is within very reasonable distance of two ‘L’ stations on the CTA’s Brown Line. There’s also a wide selection of restaurants, pubs, comedy clubs, and unique little shops within walking distance. The Lake is a reasonable walk away. The only concern is, like our building, it’s between the METRA and CTA tracks in the neighborhood. This isn’t an issue for us as our building is well constructed and we hardly hear the ‘L’ or the METRA. Although, we do need to run white noise stuff while sleeping to block out some of the rumble.

A quick web search revealed a six-story building is going in this location and it will have 62 housing units. Because our neighborhood is considered a “high density environment”, mostly due to its location near public transportation, I believe at last tally this building will have only 42 parking spaces. I haven’t seen plans for the building yet, but the Chamber of Commerce mentioned it will be patterned from the nearby Grace Pointe building that opened late last year, about a block away from this location.

I’ll enjoy watching the progress of this revitalized location this year.

Window.

Taken at 11:00 PM Central Time.

We decided to take the curtains off the living room windows. Our condo is on the fifth floor and people can’t really see what we’re doing so we decided to have an open window to the civilization around us.

We didn’t like the curtains and kept them gathered up by a decorative rope (which was actually one of my old belts), so we were inspired by our neighbors identical approach to the windows, as well as the grand windows we see on various television shows and decided to do the same thing.

We’ll see how that works when the business on the other side of the alley decides to use their rooftop garden, which you can see on the left portion of our view.

I’m not really concerned about heat or anything like that, as we haven’t turned the heat on yet this year. We get enough heat from the surrounding units to keep us quite toasty to the point that we sometimes open windows even though it’s below freezing outside.

It saves on the utility bill!

I’m excited about letting a little more light into the living room. The openness seems rather freeing.

Mobility.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

I have a lot of respect for this guy. I don’t know who he is, I don’t know what he’s working on, nor do I know where he is working. I do know that he’s using a Mac in a public space in a seemingly good spot to get some work done. I find that awesome.

I’ve always had dreams of being a Digital Nomad. I love the idea of working remotely and I’m quite fortunate to be a company-sanctioned telecommuter, but I have a habit of setting up shop in my home office and doing all my work from there, rather than taking advantage of the digital tools available to me and working where I need to.

I do find I get more things done when I change up the scenery a bit. I like the white noise of a coffee shop while I’m working. I can’t have headphones in; I’m more of the type to have music playing in the background, which adds to the general ambiance of a room. I have specific needs to not throw off my concentration, and I occasionally have a hard time finding that at home. Getting out of the office more often would definitely help my concentration.

A couple of years ago work gave me a Windows 10 Dell Laptop, saying I had to make the switch due to security concerns on the network. Frankly I never turned in the company assigned Mac equipment I was given when I joined the company back in 2015, so I still use it from time to time. The Retina display, and the entire experience for that matter, far outshines the Windows 10 experience I have on my Dell laptop. I don’t know how anyone, in this day and age, can think a display resolution of 1366×768 can lend itself to any sort of productive endeavor, especially since Microsoft tries to cram everything and the kitchen sink into ribbons and buttons and advertising in their latest incarnations of Office products.

I’m going to have to read up on the Bring-Your-Own-Device policy at work to see if I can get back to a company-sanctioned Mac platform again. I already structure my day so I have meetings in the morning and development time in the afternoon. If I can maintain these two constants, I might be working from a local coffee shop sooner than later.

Then I can really get some stuff done.

So Bright.

The city has finished installing new “smart lights” on the streets in our neighborhood. According to literature they passed out earlier this year, the new LED lighting saves a bunch of energy, are smart enough to report when the bulb is at end of life, and will increase safety throughout the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, it seems no one near these new lights will get any sleep. Or, on the bright side, perhaps local merchants will have a run on selling “blackout” drapes and blinds.

The new street lights are very, very bright and the color of the light is very, very white. You can easily discern the notable “blue” light given off by these new bulbs.

I never thought I’d miss the old sodium lights and their orange hue, but now that all the streets have been converted to these very bright, white lights, I know my eyes are going to struggle when I go for walks in the dark, early mornings near the end of the year.

I think there’s a hurried mindset that “brighter is better”, without consideration as to the quality of the light or the type of light that is being emitted from these new LED bulbs. Science is proving these new lights, with a good quantity of the light coming from the blue-end of the color spectrum, are leading to sleep and associated health issues.

There’s a reason computer manufacturers are now changing the color temperature of your monitor as you get closer and closer to nightfall.

I’m going to do some reading up on the public reception of these new smart lights to see if I’m a one off in my reaction or if there’s a lot of folks that find these new lights to be very harsh.

Smart or not, they’re very, very bright. Wow.

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Cat Care.

So one of the quandaries we had while preparing for our recent vacation was how we would handle cat care while we were gone. There’s a number of boarding locations in the neighborhood but with Truman living with us for less than a year, I didn’t want to traumatize him by thinking he was going back to the pound. We didn’t want to leave him alone for five days (even though he has an automatic feeder and watering station). Jamie and Chris were scheduled to be out of town the same weekend, so enter Rover.com.

Earl discovered rover.com and arranged for us to meet Alex, who would stop by on a schedule we determined, to spend 30 minutes making sure Truman was fed, watered, and scooped, as well as spending some quality play time with him.

All of the communication took place through the Rover.com app, and Alex took a picture of Truman at every visit. When we got home last night, Truman was a little thrown by the schedule in general, but with Alex’s twice a day visits, he wasn’t completely bonkers, so we’re pretty sure this arrangement worked out well.

Truman greets Alex at the front door.

Overall we’re very pleased with Alex and the ease of coordinating this effort through Rover.com and will continue to use this service for our future vacation needs.