Decisions.

A photo from a controversial film on “Netflix” or two folks going to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. You decide.

I know nothing about this film; the photo just made me smirk.

Sunrise.

This morning’s sunrise was filled with glorious color. I tried to capture it in a photo, but the pictures don’t do it justice.

Mother Nature is awesome.

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Legal 9.

My husband and I celebrated nine years of legally wedded bliss today. There was no fancy dinner at a swanky restaurant to celebrate the occasion as the pandemic has changed all that. We did, however, have a wonderful home cooked meal (yay for a husband that cooks!) and great conversation.

One should marry their best friend.

Even though we’ve been together for over 24 years and as a gay married couple. have multiple anniversaries to celebrate, each one of them is special.

Especially when there’s flowers involved.

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Mini.

I have to admit I’m rather excited about the HomePod Mini. At an affordable price point, we’re going to be able to put one or two of these around our home to supplement our existing HomePods.

I know folks like to gripe about Siri but we rarely have an issue using Siri to play music, set alarms, or control our smart devices. We have Alexa in da house as well, and she seems to get more confused than Siri on a regular basis. Maybe I’m just wired to be more Apple friendly or something.

I’m also excited about the new iPhone 12 lineup. My iPhone X is going on three years old and I’m in the mood for an upgrade. I believe the iPhone 12 will fit the bill. I’ll probably sell my Canon camera to help offset the cost. I haven’t used it in quite a while.

Inspiration.

I’ve been trying to take more photos to inspire me to write more. I took this shot off the balcony the other night. It’s blurry because I have an iPhone X, the last model before the night shot feature or whatever it’s called. The little buildings you see on the horizon are the Sears Tower, the Trump Tower, and the Hancock Building. They’re about four miles away.

There were no business gatherings on the rooftop patio across the alley from us this year. The trendy building has been mostly empty since the beginning of the pandemic. Once in a while someone will sneak up there to talk on their phone during the lunch hour but there’s been no one at the bar, no televisions, no games of pool. 2020 is certainly one for the history books. I wonder if we’ll learn from this round of history.

The clock on the clock tower is always 10 minutes fast. The clock was repaired the first week of us living in Chicago. Within a day of the crane coming down the clocks jumped ahead 10 minutes and have stayed that way for three years. I find it disconcerting. I like my clocks to be synchronized.

Insurrection.

Earl and I watched “Star Trek: Insurrection” this evening. I believe it was the first time watching the full movie since its release in 1998. Tonight’s viewing is part of our recent tradition of watching a Star Trek movie on Sunday evening; we’ve been watching them in order.

While there were mixed reviews for the film back when it was released, I have to say it’s one of my favorites of the franchise. The strife isn’t so thick to be depressing. The movie feels like a natural extension of The Next Generation TV show. And the idea of a society that has shunned technology to go back to their “basic” roots is appealing to me.

One of the hardest things about watching these movies is knowing they were produced before these turbulent times. They were filmed before Y2K, 9/11, and of course an era when Trump was suppose to be taken seriously. I see an innocence in the production that one does not see in modern films. So many of our entertainment outlets have been spun in a more grim direction. I really felt hopeful after watching “Insurrection”, but then I took a peek at Twitter and was reminded that we are solidly in the 21st century with all its Second Dark Ages drama.

I closed the Twitter app. I’ll probably be back in a couple of days.

While I’m sure I can’t get any of my family to agree to this, I would really cherish the idea of buying an old farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere, but still within reasonable distance of civilization. Fires in a fireplace, plenty of land around, and being able to keep to ourselves. We’d burn incandescent lights and try to keep things simple.

How I’d love the ability to get away from all this. Even for just a little while.

Out.

I didn’t make this graphic.

Today is National Coming Out Day. Today is the day the LGBTQ+ community encourages support for those coming to terms with their sexuality. As I said on Facebook earlier today:

Today is National Coming Out Day. A LOT has changed since I came out in the mid 1980s, and the vast majority of it has been great progress for the community. Let’s keep that momentum moving forward and let’s respect the individual experience each member of the community has with their coming out process. We don’t all do it the same way or at the same pace.

Even though I came out in the mid 1980s when the AIDS epidemic was nearing full swing and there wasn’t a bunch of letters together (I think it might have been around the start of “GLB”), I didn’t have it too bad. Last night I was watching an episode of “V: The Series” (from 1984) and remember thinking on its original run that Duncan Regher was hot.

Looking at him today I don’t know why I thought that, he’s not really my type. It probably had to do with the hormones of a 16 year old.

Many years ago I wrote a blog entry about coming out, and you can see it here.

Cordless.

I consider myself lucky to be a Gen-Xer. When it comes to technology my generation is a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n roll. We were witness to the birth of computers in the mainstream, advances in telecommunications, and the development of the Internet. We saw retail establishments move from handwritten receipts and mechanical computation to scanning and instant lookup to near obsolescence with the rapid development of online shopping.

Growing up we had two phones and three jacks in our four-bedroom house. Our community was not part of the “Bell system”, but rather in a territory maintained by GTE. It wasn’t until I was well into high school that we garnered a private line; prior to that we had a party line that we shared with one or two other people on the street. Once in a while mom would contact that phone company to move us to a different party line because the current members were quite chatty and we could never use the telephone. Secretly, my sister and I had a little game where if she wanted to use the phone and one of the other parties were on the line, we’d flick the hang up switch or I’d take the receiver and run it across the carpet to make scratchy noises. This probably upset the folks trying to have a conversation but what did I know, I rarely talked on the telephone. To this day I don’t really enjoy the exercise.

When we’re out and about in the 21st century I notice lots of people having dire conversations on their telephones. They’re walking, they’re driving, they’re watching a movie in a theatre, they’re at a funeral, they’re at a wedding, they’re in a museum, it doesn’t matter. Folks must talk to other folks immediately and at considerable length and they must do it now.

Imagine Millennials and Gen-Zers being restricted to the confines of a room with a long curly cord connected to a wall mounted telephone.

It was in the mid 1980s when we got our first cordless phone and while I tested the signal by walking to the road and back while talking to my mom at work, I didn’t find much practicality in it. Just because I could talk to my mother while walking to the road and back, I didn’t really see the need to do it. Plus, the degraded voice signal resulted in a lot of “whats” and “huhs”. It was the latter half of the 1990s when I got my first cell phone and while it was nifty, I didn’t feel it was proper to talk to anyone while browsing produce or riding my bike. It’s probably because my Mom worked as a telephone operator when she was young, but we were instilled with a certain amount of manners when it came to using the telephone (scratching the receiver on the rug to bump parties off the party line notwithstanding). This is probably why I find public telephone conversations to be a pet peeve of mine. I find the telephone (and today’s modern equivalents) to be a personal device for a personal experience. Screaming at your kid’s social worker in the middle of a Better Dairy department seems quite rude.

I know I’m starting to sound like a cranky old man when I talk about these things, but we are losing many of the societal pleasantries we once enjoyed. I don’t see us returning to a time when telephone conversations were a personal matter and that’s a bit of a shame.

On the other hand, I no longer have to listen to folks having conversations on a party line, I can easily eavesdrop while walking the neighborhood. Creepy, but available.

Oddities.

Like much of the United States, at one time telephone lines went along the railroad tracks that ran through the property of the house I grew up in. There were power lines as well, but they were active and tended by the local power company, Niagara Mohawk. The telephone lines had come down years before the house was built; I was in my early teens when I discovered the old poles lying in the woods adjacent to the tracks.

Many of the fallen poles still had their glass insulators on the crossbeams. Curiously, they were easy to screw off the pole; I collected several and brought them back to the house. When my dad saw them in the garage after one of my scavenger runs, he went out in the woods with me and helped me bring back more. I cleaned them up after school. Some were blue, some were green, some were clear glass.

Now here’s more proof that I was a very odd child, well on my way to my eccentric middle aged persona I carry today. I decided to use those glass insulators to string my own wires through the woods between the house and the railroad tracks. I was always fascinated with electricity, but probably more fascinated with anything that was connected to something else. So I grabbed numerous lengths of baling twine from the family farm across the street and ran baling twine on century old glass insulators installed on trees and my own crossbars made of scrap woods left over from the construction of the house. The baling twine ran for nearly three and a half acres. It would be several years before it would come down; there’s probably still glass insulators spread out in the woods behind the house. It wasn’t like I was building a workable tin can telephone system or stringing lights, I was just putting rope up in the trees. Tarzan would have a field day back there.

Once in a while I wonder if the new owners of the property come across any evidence of my idiosyncrasies. Detailed doorbell wiring instructions written on the floor joists in the basement. Make shift clocks made out of paper plates tacked to a closet wall. Baling twine tied to glass insulators and strung from tree to tree, limb to limb.

Oh well, it’s all part of my storybook.