Moving Day.

It’s moving day! The movers are packing up the truck as I type. We’ll be cleaning behind them and on the road this afternoon or evening.

I can’t believe it’s happening.

Right?

There are many things I will never understand about Illinois. This No Right Turn is one of them.

Technology.

I am all for advancing technology. I’m excited about the technological future and I want to do any and everything I can to help bring our technological musings into fruition. Our new home in Tucson will probably have a lot of gadgets that seem futuristic, so when I see something out in the world that appears to be advancing technology, I get excited.

This touchscreen fuel pump does not excite me.

You know the drill. You put your credit or debit card in the slot (or tap your smart device against the reader that has a 10% chance of actually being there), type in your zip code, and select your octane.

First of all, what are we accomplishing by converting from buttons to a touchscreen? I’m sure many tests were done, but do we think a touchscreen in the middle of a Chicago winter will be super responsive to user inputs? And let’s talk about that. I could barely get the touchscreen to work on a surprisingly mild March day, I can’t imagine how it would be with gloves on a sub-zero January morning.

Aesthetically, the physical device is pleasing. The interface is a little too modern and simplified for my tastes and I could do without the ads, but it’s not awful.

I just don’t get why we needed it.

I Should Have Followed You Home.

I can’t believe it’s been nearly eight years since this song’s release. The second single from the album “A”, by Agnetha Fältskog (the first ‘A’ in ABBA), “I Should Have Followed You Home” was a duet with former Take That singer Gary Barlow. Both Gary and Agnetha are so classy, and this live performance still brings me to tears all the years later. Beautiful people, beautiful music.

Dimmer.

I’ve been removing our home automation systems in preparation for the move to the desert this weekend. We’re slowly getting used to using light switches again; for the past 3 1/2 years our Philips Hue lights and motion sensors have turned on the lights where we need them.

The system is slowly being safely packed to be taken down to the new house.

After putting in new GE LED bulbs in the fixtures I noticed the dining room table lamp would not come on if the living room lights (the switches are next to each other) were dimmed down. I found this quite weird, since they’re two distinctly separate switches. I could replicate the issue easily: turn the dining room light off, turn the living room lights to the lowest dimmer setting, turn the dining room light on and nothing would happen until I turned the dimmed lights up a little bit. Then the dining room light would come out as well.

A wiring nightmare, right? No!

It turns out the GE LED bulb in the dining room light was supersensitive to the voltage variations from the dimmer, even though the light bulb wasn’t being controlled by the dimmer switch. I swapped out the bulb with another LED bulb and everything worked fine. So then I put the GE bulb in a two-bulb fixture in the bathroom far away from any dimmer switches and turned on the light.

The GE bulb noticeably lags in coming on compared to the other light.

There’s something up with that bulb, so I removed it and put another bulb in its place.

I’m happy I didn’t have to get into a wiring project tonight. We’re just that much closer to moving out on Monday.

Cyncism.

This morning, CEO Tim Cook tweeted about Apple’s efforts to address climate change.

As far as I’m concerned, anything on social media that contains positive action towards combatting Climate Change is a great thing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: as I’m most likely in the second half of my life, I’m sure that I’ll be gone before the planet becomes completely uninhabitable. However, it’s going to get really bad before I live out my natural lifespan and honestly I don’t want to have a front row seat as witness to the extinction of life on Earth. It’s just not my jam.

Apple talks about Climate Change quite a bit. The company goes above and beyond others with using clean energy sources, has developed robots to dismantle old tech to recycle as much as possible to build new tech, and is working towards developing sources of needed materials without doing any more mining. Is Apple perfect? Far from it, but they’re bringing awareness to the conversation, pushing progress in the right direction, and are doing a heck of a lot more than many other companies on the planet.

Yet, too many folks on social media, most likely typing with their elbows, screech about the evils of Apple, how much they hate the company, and their suspicions that the only reason Apple is doing this is to make more money.

First of all, the United States economy is based on capitalism. Making money is what corporations do in the United States. Apple is particularly good at making money.

Do I believe this tweet from Tim Cook is first and foremost a PR stunt to bring brighter lights onto the company? I really think that is not the primary driver for this. By several accounts, Tim Cook can demanding, short, and intense. That’s part of being CEO of one of the biggest and richest companies on the planet. But I believe Tim also has a heart and he’s passionate about leaving the world better than the way he found it when he got here. Yes, Apple’s clean energy efforts bring in good PR, but the PR is a result of doing the right thing when it comes to Climate Change.

So, I’ll go on skipping over the cynical “blargh blargh blargity blargh blargh” comments to all things Apple. I just wish I didn’t have to go through the eye roll/mouse scroll effort.

Normality.

We talk about “getting back to normal”, even though the COVID-19 pandemic is still here and doing its thing. I look around and wonder about the definition of “normal”. Always introspective, I ponder, “do we _really_ want things to be the way they were before the pandemic”? I feel like we missed some learning opportunities in 2020.

I get it, two many people are facing financial and other well being hardships because of lockdowns and the other precautions around COVID safety. But that speaks more to where our society was and what we depend on more than COVID itself. There are too many people that will simply not figure out a better approach to this societal existence. They want things the way they were before the pandemic. Full stop.

It’s never going to be that way again.

After we get through COVID-19, some other variant or similar type bug is going to come along and we’ll all be trying to figure that out. Luckily, I feel like we have a better leader in the White House to handle the next crisis like this. I fully believe we’d have still faced the challenges (opportunities?) of 2020 even if Trump did the right things (which he most certainly did not) but it wouldn’t haven’t been to the extent that we experienced.

At the New Year I tweeted, “if you thought 2020 was an awful year, you were paying attention to the lesson”, or something like that. There’s so many things we could be doing better now. Many companies are shifting their workers to full-time work at home status, but too many companies want everyone back in the office under their watchful, untrusting eye. Luckily, the company I work for discovered a huge cost savings on facility costs and a good sized increased in productivity when the teams work from the comfort of their own home. Even though around 15% of the workforce was already full-time work at home team members, there’s now a sizable chunk of folks that will never be going back to the office.

Less pollution from commutes, less dawdling for chit chat at the water bubbler.

I can’t understand why so many people are demanding to be seated shoulder to shoulder in restaurants. We’ve supported our community by ordering take-out when we can, but we actually saved a great deal of money by eating at home. It’s amazing to think of what can happen in your life when you save money by not eating out. I’m hopeful we’ll continue this trend when we move to Arizona next week.

There’s comfort in what’s known as normal, I get that, but there’s also a great deal of value in listening and learning.

I wish more folks had taken the time to do that. Because things will never be “normal” again, nor will things ever feel as “safe” as they did before.

Let’s continue to be vigilant with our masks and vaccinations. Let’s make that the new normal.

LOCK.

Earl flew to Tucson to do the final walkthrough at the house. Everything passed his inspection and other expectations, so all systems are go. Because of his absence, I had to handle the financial matters.

I took the very important paper to our local bank and asked them to do the necessary wire transfer to make things all a go. The person at the bank was very kind, efficient, and well informed and handled my transaction with ease.

As I sat across from her, behind the large plexiglass that is ever present these days, we exchanged pleasantries as her fingers moved around her Logitech keyboard. She barely used her mouse as she banged on the tab key like an expert. I have a habit of watching people type. I learned to type at an early age and I can move my 52 year old fingers rapidly and efficiently. Mom taught me how to type and it proved to be a most valuable skill. The representative at the bank did not use the traditional finger movements with her typing. The thing I immediately noticed was she was doing something with her left hand.

When she wanted to type one capital letter, for example “J” for my name, she would press CAPS LOCK, then J, then CAPS LOCK again. She only used the shift key for symbols on the number row. Whenever it was a capital letter, she toggled the CAPS LOCK key.

I refrained from pointing out that she was doing this.

I find this interesting, as she’s not the first person I’ve ever noticed typing in this manner. Because I learned to type at a young age, it has never occurred to me to type capital letters this way. In today’s keyboard centric world, whatever gets you through, but the shift key is there for a reason.

I was reminded of an experience back when I worked at the “NOC” for a small telecommunications company. I was trying to get a user connected to their Internet connection and they had to type an asterisk (*). They had no idea what that was. I said, “it’s the little star”. They asked how to type it. I told them to hold down shift and press the “8” key. They still couldn’t find the *. They’d press shift, release it, and then press the 8.

“I keep getting an eight”.

Finally, I said to them, “type a capital 8”.

BAM! An asterisk appeared on their screen. Problem solved..