Sociology.

I’m very interested in what “normal life” will look like after this pandemic blows over. Will there be a new normal? Will there be some sort of societal shift in attitudes and practices?

I like to think that folks will stop caring as much about celebrity and will cease they’re worship of the Kardashians and the like. I like to think that kids will aspire to be the real heroes we’re seeing: the first responders, the doctors, those that work the front line of retail, the small business owners.

I’m also hopeful that life will slow down just tad. My hopes are realistic but any shift in normalcy to something with more compassion can only make the world be a better place.

Slow down. Be compassionate.

Random.

This quarantine thing is really ramping up the parsing of random information in my head. Tonight my husband and I sat down to watch a couple of episodes from my favorite television series of all time: “Bewitched”.

Among the numerous reasons I love the show is the “cultured” accent used by most of the witches and warlocks on the show, including Elizabeth Montgomery’s “finishing school” way of speaking. Lizzie could make her speech sound a little more middle class when she wanted to (or when the script called for it), but the vast majority of the time everyone of the witchcraft world on the show spoke with a refined accent that was just a few steps to the side of the Trans-Atlantic accent that was invented for entertainment in the early 20th century. When I hear my Central New York/Syracuse accent blended with the even flatter tones of Chicago in my speech, I sometimes think I need to get a more refined sound to the way I speak. In my natural accent, “Mary”, “marry”, and “merry” all sound the same. My husband makes fun of me because of the way I say “elementary” (el-eh-men-terry). It’s a Central New York think.

The more formal approach to everyday dress on “Bewitched” has always been, well, bewitching to me. I *love* the way folks dressed up for even the mundane chore of going to the market. It reminds me of the way both sets of grandparents dressed when I was a young lad. Point of trivia: Grandma Country never wore slacks or even a pant suit, she *always* wore a dress, usually something she made herself.

I like it when people showed a little more care in their appearance.

I’m not a “work in my sweatpants” kind of guy, even though I always work from home. I still dress in a business casual manner and I feel good doing so.

Having watched “Bewitched” relentlessly for the past 52 years I pretty know Samantha’s family tree like the back of my hand. There are some inconsistencies as to who was an aunt and who wasn’t. While Reta Shaw (from “Mary Poppins” and “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”) was the most well known to have played Aunt Hagatha, and in the first season, Bertha, in the fifth season Doreen McLean played Aunt Hagatha and she pops out to fetch Aunt Bertha (who we never see). There were two other Aunt Hagathas beside Reta and Doreen, but it was Reta Shaw that came back in the last season to play her for the last time. I always found Doreen McLean to be a close second in her small chance to play the role.

Before Darrin met Samantha, he was engaged to Sheila Sommers (played by Nancy Kovak). Sheila was featured in the pilot episode and then again in a couple of episodes in season four. In the late 1970s through early 1990s, the syndicated package of “Bewitched” included ONLY the color episodes (seasons three through eight). This always bothered me because I vividly remembered black and white episodes of “Bewitched”, and friends at the time would say I was crazy and tell me that we were seeing them colorized, even though the only thing that had been colorized at the time was pretty much “Gilligan’s Island” and that colorization was awful.

In the fourth season episode “Snob In The Grass”, there’s a flashback to the first time Samantha met Sheila Sommers and it’s a black and white clip from the very first episode in the show. I remember exclaiming to my boyfriend at the time, “SEE! I told you there were black and white episodes”. He shrugged me off and told me I was crazy, it was in black and white to make it look like a flashback and then he dumped me a few weeks later. When Nick at Nite finally started showing the black and white episodes again I was vindicated and I refrained from calling him up and saying, “neener neener neener”.

That last season of Bewitched recycled the scripts from the first season on several occasions, almost word for word. However, there was an interesting exchange that happened several times, usually when someone wanted to make Samantha feel uncomfortable:

Catty woman: “Do you know Dr. Hafner, dear?”

Samantha: “I beg your pardon?”

Catty woman: “Dr. Hafner. He’s a plastic surgeon. Does wonderful nose work.”

Samantha: glaring. “No, I don’t know him”

This exchange pops up several times during the show. I always wondered why Dr. Hafner got so many shout outs.

And finishing this up, “got so many shout outs” probably does not fit into the cultured speech I’m always striving to achieve.

The Deadbeat Club.

I’m watching a lot of older music videos online this week. I do this to remind me of happy times and jam to some great music. I also do this from the comfort of our couch, feet up, lying down in comfort.

Such a deadbeat.

Tonight I’ve been grooving on The B-52s (I can’t bring myself to put the apostrophe in there, thank god they changed that a while back). I’ve been listening to everything from “Rock Lobster” to “Good Stuff”. I usually skip over “Love Shack” because that’s been overdone for 30 years.

I have three favorites from “Cosmic Thang”: “Roam” (not the abbreviated radio version), “Follow This Bliss”, and “The Deadbeat Club”, the latter having amazing lyrics and amazing harmonies.

Enjoy my journey back to simpler times.

New.

So this is a very new thing. Truman is not a cuddler by any means, but he’s up here purring away.

The New Normal.

I feel like we are in the midst of a societal ‘reset’. Much like back in 2001 during 9/11, I feel like some of the things we’re doing right now are going to result in permanent changes with the way we do things. Will the in person toll collectors come back to the Illinois Tollway? What restaurants will close permanently? Will bars here in Chicago end up serving to go drinks from now on? What societal changes will result from the measures we are taking to contain the COVID-19 virus?

The streets were quiet today when I went to the an FAA Airman Medical Examiner for my required medical exam today. When it was time to leave with my newly printed medical certificate I bumped elbows with the elderly doctor without a second thought. It’s how we exchange pleasantries tonight. Driving around Chicago is pretty easy at the moment. The idea of getting out to O’Hare without tapping the brakes at least once on the Kennedy Expressway is novel, but it’s the way we’re doing things right now.

With the restaurants closed except for take away of some sort, one restaurant/bar in the neighborhood just gave up the ghost and boarded up shop. Closed forever. To be fair, they were planning on doing so later this year when the building is ripped down for something newer with more residential occupancy, but they sped up their plans and left shop. Done.

People walk a wider berth on the sidewalks .We still smile at one another and exchange pleasantries, this is one of the things I love about living in this part of Chicago, but we do it with a little more space between us. Personal space is now a six foot radius from our vantage point.

Is this the new normal?

I was happy to see the marquee at one of the nearby venues to have a friendly message. It injects hope into the spirit of the neighborhood. This message is not alone; there are many marquees and the like in the area sharing positive vibes.

Positive vibes is what we need.

In some ways I hope we come out of this pandemic with a reduced frenetic pace. Take time to smile. Say hello.

Bump elbows.

Quiet.

There are a few comedy clubs and other venues in the neighborhood. This is the first time I’ve seen this marquee completely empty. The streets are somewhat quiet. Restaurants are getting ready to go into pick-up/delivery only mode. The numerous pubs are getting ready to close up shop for two weeks.

It’s such an odd time.

Firsts.

Both my grandfather and father were private pilots. Both flew homebuilt airplanes and both had their tailwheel endorsements. Both of them also preferred flying “low and slow” and they preferred the classic tailwheel configuration. I love flying low and slow like they do but I don’t have my tailwheel endorsement. I can do low and slow just fine in a Piper Cherokee 140. I’ll never build an airplane as I did not inherit that talent from that side of the family. I’m perfectly fine with that.

Today I started lessons to get my complex and high performance endorsements. Complex means I’m flying an airplane with retractable gear and high performance means the airplane is rated higher than 200 horsepower.

Today I flew a Cessna Skylane 182 RG. Built in 1978, this airplane has a six-cylinder engine rated at 250 horsepower. It can carry 1200 lbs. That’s a lot of fuel and an additional person.

I have a decent amount of hours in a Cessna 172 but before today I had never flown the heavier 182. I’m also more of a low-wing guy (don’t tell my grandfather or father) but having grown up in high-wings with Dad and flown my share of Cessnas, this configuration doesn’t particularly bother me. The high performance engine means things happen faster so I need to be a little more on my game, and after the initial climb out and getting to cruise I felt more comfortable than I thought I would before jumping into the airplane. I went up with instructor Callie and I did some turns and climbs and descents and just got a feel for the airplane before coming back to the airport to try some landings. Callie demonstrated the first landing and then shadowed me on the rest of the landings, providing verbal guidance and nudging the controls when necessary. For a first lesson in this airplane I walked away feeling great, and weather and virus willing, I’m hoping to go back up with her next week to continue the adventure.

I’m now officially doing something the previous pilots in my family have not done by flying a high performance airplane with retractable gear. I mentioned to my mom on the telephone the other day that I wanted to start taking my aviation career beyond where Dad and Gramps went with theirs, and in many respects I am. But I’m not really surpassing them in any way, I’m simply going in a different direction. I really wish I could talk to them about this experience because I’m sure they’d both be grinning ear to ear.

I know I am.

Shopping.

My husband and I walked down to the local Trader Joe’s in search of a loaf of rye bread. St. Patrick’s Day is Tuesday and we’re going to celebrate by enjoying a couple of reuben sandwiches. If we can find some Guinness we’ll have one or two at home, since all sit-down restaurants and bars are closed in Illinois until March 30.

There were a total of ten loaves of bread left and none of them rye. My husband said he can improvise with what was available and he picked up a loaf of bread.

There wasn’t much else to choose from. All canned goods, dairy, frozen foods, meat, and produce was gone. We did find a bag of potatoes, so we grabbed that and there was a decent amount of chocolate chip granola bars left.

As we checked out of Trader Joe’s, a person at the door thanked us for stopping by and offered us a rose. I appreciated the gesture.

I still don’t get the insane hoarding that’s been going on but I use the activity as a barometer for what the general American public is really like at the core. As I quipped on Twitter, imagine the reaction if extraterrestrials made their presence known.

People would really go crazy for toilet paper then.

Pi Day!

Today is Pi Day, at least in the way the U.S. and Canada write out the 14th of March, and there is much excitement to be had in our merry little household. For not only do we have multiple Raspberry Pis doing a ton of work for our electronic efforts, but also we are going to go searching for pie today. Because Pi and Pie!

Happy Pi Day!