Nostalgia.

I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia kick. Last night Earl and I watched the first few episodes from the first season of “The Mothers-In-Law”. Honestly? It’s awful. While shows from the 1960s like “Bewitched” hold up fairly well, “The Mothers-In-Law” feels hopelessly out of date. One of the things we immediately noticed was the obviously stage trained actors of the main cast; television actors today don’t chew up the scenery nearly as much.

One show from that time period that was always fun to watch was “Laugh In”. Here’s a bit from their joke wall. I was surprised to learn today that Jo Ann Worley is still alive and kicking and as upbeat as ever.

Fleabag.

My husband and I just finished our binging of Amazon Prime’s “Fleabag”. According to wikipedia, we have watched all 12 episodes of the series and no more are planned.

A comedy-drama with a helping of tragedy, “Fleabag” is based on the one woman show of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. I’m having a hard time writing a quick synopsis of the show because while we found it very compelling, the story is very multi-faceted. She is a café owner in London with a fairly dysfunctional family and has a knack of finding herself in dysfunctional relationships.

I think you just have to see it to get it. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and were dismayed to see the two seasons are the only seasons we’ll ever see.

I’m hoping Ms. Waller-Bridge changes her mind.

Retail Therapy.

I’m ashamed to admit that I get a certain thrill out of “retail therapy”. You know the rush; you order something online, watch every step of the ordering process, right down to the finest of detail on UPS tracking. You check the “Deliveries” app on your phone over and over and over again, to the point you know within 30 seconds if the UPS driver has left your package down in the lobby of your building.

No? Just me?

I’ve been a proponent of making the iPad, and more specifically the iPad Pro, the main computing device of my technology experience. While it took me a few years to fall into this mindset, I’ve always loved the idea of moving away from a desktop or laptop computer experience and to something a little more like the PADD units they used on Star Trek from “The Next Generation” through “Enterprise”. (Don’t get me started on the latest series). The idea of having all of my computer power in a tablet or slate form factor, easily adaptable to any situation has always been compelling for me. I believe this is what Steve Jobs had in mind when he first came up with the iPad. It just took a few years to get there. I believe Apple got serious about the idea when they finally released the iPad Pro line.

I have a 2018 iPad Pro that I have been in love with since the first day I got it.

The thing is, as great as the iPad Pro is, it’s felt like it was only about 90% of the way there. The “Smart Keyboard Folio” Apple released with the iPad Pro works well but I’ve always found it a little lacking. The iPad bounced a bit as the case was a little too flimsy, and up until the latest version of iPadOS (13.4), Apple didn’t legitimately support mouse or trackpad use with the iPad. They wanted you to touch the screen. I wanted to touch the screen too, but there are times when I just want to use a touchpad or mouse with my tablet.

When Apple first announced their new “Magic Keyboard” for the iPad Pro I instantly knew they were filling the gap I had with my user experience. A trackpad and a full blown keyboard was just what this geek needed to embrace iPad living full-time. I made some noises of resistance for a couple of days but then decided, hey, since I’m not flying for the duration of this lockdown, I might as well use a little bit of that budget to buy myself this new Magic Keyboard. After all, it would complete my geek transition to using the iPad Pro full-time.

The Magic Keyboard arrived today. And it’s everything I hoped it would be.

My iPad Pro no longer feels flimsy when in an upright position. The iPad is solid and if I wish to use the touch interface that is native to the iPad experience, I no longer feel like I have to hold the back of the iPad to prevent the whole affair from falling over.

The keyboard is very nice. Ask my husband, I am very picky about keyboards but the Magic Keyboard has a great feel, a comfortable amount of travel and most importantly, it’s part of Apple’s return to “scissor” switches, instead of those awful butterfly switches found on their MacBook line for the latter half of the 2010s. (Though, to be fair, the keyboard on my husband’s 2018 MacBook Pro isn’t awful, though it was a little disconcerting when three keys stopped working for a bit due to one strand of cat hair on the keyboard).

Since the release of iPadOS 13.4 I’ve been using an older style Magic Trackpad to play around with mouse and trackpad support on the iPad. I’m impressed with the way the cursor is handled in this operating system. It shows itself only when it’s necessary and it’s a pleasant, translucent dot that lends itself to the touch interface traditionally found on the iPad. When hovering moving over buttons the buttons have a subtle action and the cursor snaps in place but still freely moves on if you’re intending the move elsewhere. When over text the cursor naturally moves to a text bar and like the round dot, in no way does it look out of place. I’m still getting used to the trackpad gestures; moving around with multitasking feels a little less intuitive than I’d like it to. For example, when I bring a slide over window to show two windows at once on the screen I’m still having a hard time flipping through the available applications for that window.

The Mac keyboard shortcuts works for the most part. The biggest gap I’ve noticed is the inability to close my current application and return to the home screen with a CMD-Q. This is something I do all day long on my work Mac, and not having the functionality work the same way on my iPad is a little weird. To “close” an app, you swipe up on the trackpad with four fingers.

I really like the way the iPad “floats” over the keyboard. I will admit I miss a top row of keys that would traditionally include the function keys and an Escape key. I never realized how many times I hit Escape during the day until I didn’t have that key to bang on. I suppose it’s revealing of my age and heavy use of console applications for much of my computing experience, but I instinctively hit the Escape to stop something happening on my computer. I don’t know if it does anything or if it’s just a comfort action on my part, but I’m finding myself looking for that key a lot. I miss it.

I have no doubt in the magnets holding my iPad Pro in place. They have firmly clamped onto my iPad and it feels much more stable than when I was using my Smart Keyboard Folio before this move. It does take a bit of effort to open the case up from a closed position, and the case is a little heavier than I expected it to be. But we all need to maintain a muscles, right? I am with comment but without complaint on that.

Overall, I’m very pleased with this bit of Retail Therapy and I look forward to using this case for many years to come. I’m hoping Apple with keep it compatible with future form factors of the iPad Pro, because it would be quite nice to be able to keep the keyboard and trackpad and just swap out the iPad Pro for a new one once in a while. I’m currently using a 2018 iPad Pro and it does not look out of place, even though the “hole” in the case is designed for the larger camera area on the 2020 model.

My only concern with the whole thing is the price. This new keyboard was quite expensive and I don’t see average users buying it anytime soon. I’m thinking I paid an early adopter premium with this purchase, but I’m so delighted with the quality of this bit of technology I am without complaint.

If you’re serious about using your iPad Pro as full time as you can, and you have the budget to make this purchase, you won’t regret it. I’ll continue to share my iPad Pro adventures here. My next big task is to start editing video imported from my GoPro and Garmin cameras here on my iPad Pro instead of relying on my MacBook Pro for the task.

I look forward to sharing the results of my efforts soon.

Tracking.

I’m clearly losing track of the days these days. At times it feels like time is standing still but then it’s midway through the week and I feel like I can’t catch my breath.

Power.

This whole virus thing has given us all the opportunity to catch up on our television viewing. I’m not the voracious viewer of television that I used to be; I feel like the quality of shows has gone down quite a bit over the last decade or so and much of today’s offerings have not been worthy of my time. But we’ve been flipping through the various streaming services we belong to and tonight we watched the third and fourth episodes of Apple TV+’s “Visible: Out On Television”.

I’ve cried a couple of times while watching the documentary; a lot of what is depicted hits close to home: remembering the friends lost during the AIDS crisis, protesting with ACT-UP when I lived in Boston, recounting the amount of progress made with LGBTQ+ characters on television even since my husband and I first met 24 years ago.

We started watching the documentary when the lockdown first began. The word “queer” is used a lot. LGBTQ+. There’s a reason it has evolved from the GLB days of when I first came out in the mid 1980s. I don’t remember when the letters were rearranged and augmented; but I especially don’t remember a lot of folks calling themselves queer back when I was a young gay. There’s a lot power in that word: Queer. I remember one of my grandmothers saying the phrase “queer boy” when I was young. She was referring to a waiter at a restaurant who sounded like the love child of Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly. I was called queer too often in high school. And while I have tried to ‘take back’ the word queer over the past couple of years, I’ve always struggled with the concept.

My steel trap memory betrays my desire to reclaim the power of the word “queer”.

When we first started watching the documentary I started thinking about the word queer again. At the time I was going to write a blog entry about it and I even went as far as to take an impromptu photo with the word “queer” and an arrow pointing to me in a selfie. I posted it on Instagram for a few seconds before I reconsidered my thoughts processes and deleted it. Did it not fit? Do I not consider myself queer?

I have always identified as gay. When I came out in college I had a hard time saying it, and it was my high school friend Scott who insisted I say that I was gay actually out loud when I told him. (“I like guys” had been my go to phrase). That step made me more comfortable with the whole gay identity thing. It was a big hurdle. But queer? It’s a whole different thing.

The thing is, if we want to use labels, I see ‘queer’ as a label for individuals of a younger generation. I just don’t see me as an over 50 years old queer man. I’m not gender fluid in any way. I’m quite comfortable with myself both inside and out. I’m well seasoned and I’m solid in my identity. Let’s face it, I would say I’m a Kinsey 5.99 when it comes to sexual attraction. (Hey, I’m a bargain!). I’m actually just a guy that has always liked guys and my pilot light burns a little brighter than most and once in a while it shoots off like a big ol’ fabulous flare.

Wow, no sexual connotation there!

The perceived negative energy around the word “queer” is slowly dissipating from my mind. I’ve come to realize that what queer means today is a lot different than what queer meant 30 years ago. But as part of my self-identity? Hmmm, it doesn’t quite fit. It’s not how I see myself. And that’s fine.

There’s power in just being me.

The Main Event.

I’ve had this song going through my head this morning, so I thought I would share. From 1979, here’s Barbra Streisand with “The Main Event”.

This is a special VJ dance edit that gives the beginning a little more punch.

Anyone want to tell me why I waited 41 years to realize how hot Ryan O’Neal is?

Stargazing.

Clear Night on Smith Lake by Nathaniel Polta on 500px

I spent some time daydreaming about what we are going to do when we’re able to travel about this country again. I told my husband I want to drive far away from any city lights on a moonless, clear summer night and just gaze at the stars. I want my vision to be filled with the beauty of space. There’s a whole huge universe out there and I want to see its awesomeness, unimpeded by city lights. I want to watch comets dance and see satellites streak by. I want to lose myself in thoughts of who is sitting on another planet, many light years away, wondering what’s going on near that pale, little yellow dot in their night sky. I want to feel hope.

I want to lose myself in the stars.

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Spruced Up.

If you visit this website on a regular basis you may notice I’ve made some changes to speed up the response time of the user experience. We’ve been with our web hosting company, Machighway, for over 10 years and they continue to be a joy to work with. Pages and photos should be loading faster. Please, if you see anything broken, please leave a comment so I can go fix it.

For the technically minded, I finally updated the version of PHP running the show here. I also fixed some WordPress plugins that had memory leaks and were slowing things down and discarded several that were no longer needed.

There are other blogging platforms out there, and many of them are quite fast, but with nearly 20 years of blog entries managed through WordPress, I’m not ready to jump to anything else yet. It’s all a matter of care and feeding. It’s not good to treat the underpinnings of this blog like the proverbial server that’s been forgotten and dry walled into a new wall.

One thing I do struggle with is finding a WordPress theme that fits the mood of the blog I’m maintaining. I’ve had this commercial theme here on this site for many years. I haven’t found anything that comes close to what I’m looking for, so it’s going to stay. It took me a little while last night to find the theme I thought best suited my new blog over at The Vintage Point of Sale Site but I finally found something I thought fits the mood.

Thank you for stopping by and continuing to follow my adventures here at Life Is Such A Sweet Insanity. I look forward to continuing sharing my adventures here and in my various annexes for the foreseeable future.

I Can’t Quit You.

Twitter’s “Fail Whale” graphic from its early days.

We really have some poor choices available to us in this here 21st century. You know, our telephone calls in the 20th century were of a better voice quality than what we have today? That’s right, when we “let our fingers do the walking“ and we talked to friends and family over 20th century telephone equipment, the reliability of a connection and the quality of our speaking voices was better than what we experience today, even if we are still using a land line and a corded phone.

Progress?

Society has also shifted to social media for things far beyond sharing little bits of life like “I just had the most awesome hamburger!”. Government officials use Twitter to declare war. Family members have moved their entire lives to Facebook. Geeks used to talk about their geeky interests on Google+. If there’s late breaking news you’re most likely going to read about it on social media first and then let the news media fill in the details (hopefully).

Yesterday I tried to stop reading Twitter. I didn’t delete my account because I was still working on downloading my data but I told myself if I could go one month without touching the platform I would probably delete my account.

Didn’t even make it a day.

We live close enough to the CTA tracks to be able to hear announcements to the platforms when we have our windows open. Even though I haven’t ridden a train in over a month, my spidey-sense knew something was amiss and then I heard an announcement. The trains were stopped for a sizable chunk of the line and mumble mumble mumble. I instinctively turned to Twitter to see what was going on, because as a Chicago I follow the CTA Twitter feed to see what’s going on with the trains.

Now, there’s other places I can see what’s going on with the CTA, however, the fastest response is usually on their Twitter feed. It’s not like I’m looking to ride the train but in these idle, lockdown times, I was curious as to what was going on.

So I fired up Twitter.

It was then I saw several tweets about airplanes from my pilot friends and I also saw why the trains were stopped and I caught a couple of nifty little musings from folks amongst the 600 or so accounts I follow on Twitter.

It was a beautiful day in Chicago, it would have been a great day to fly, but the airplanes are grounded for non-essential flights. It was good to see aviation stuff from aviators.

I believe Twitter has been a major contributor to the negative conditions we are experiencing in the world today. I think the basis of why the platform was created is sound, I just think it was ahead of its time. While I have major concerns with the uneven application of Twitter’s Rules of Conduct policies, I also believe American society was not equipped to handle Twitter, and much of the other technology we have available to us today. The evolution of technology has outpaced the evolution of our society. This leads to bad actors, weaponization, and general misuse of the tools we have at our disposal.

So I went back on Twitter via Tweetbot and am tweaking it again to make the best of it.

It is my intent to share my displeasure with Twitter’s uneven application of their Rules of Conduct whenever and wherever appropriate. Without users Twitter would have nothing. Without loud voices trends can never be changed.

In the meanwhile, I’ll know what’s going on with the trains and I’ll be able to chat with the friends I’ve made on the platform.

Geek Annex.

I’ve decided to create a new blog about my interest in Vintage Point of Sale Systems (electronic cash registers and the like) from the 1970s and 1980s.

If you’re so inclined, you can find it at The Vintage Point of Sale Site.

Might as well use this down time for geeky productivity.

From the “Remembering Hills Department Store” Facebook group.