Insight.

The tendency for family and friends to share their political beliefs on social media, especially leading up to and since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has been very eye opening for me. A little bit of background; my father never discussed politics. Actually, it was pretty rare for anyone in our family to have a political discussion. Either that or I was shielded from any discussions of this sort. Of course times were different back then and people weren’t as whipped up about these things, though now that I think about it I remember a couple of off-handed comments about “All In The Family” or “Maude”. But seeing what family and friends write on social media today, me included, is rather eye-opening.

I understand that not everyone is going to see eye-to-eye on these things. I get that. To be honest, my “world view” has expanded considerably since moving to The Windy City nearly three years ago. Before leaving Upstate New York I used to enjoy spending Thursday evenings at the airport having a couple of beers with close friends and solving the political problems of the world. The three of us that tended to do this were a good blend: one on the right but not too far right, one on the left but not too far left, and one in the middle leaning socially in one direction and fiscally in another. We kept the conversation civil, even leading up to and after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. It’s certainly possible to do this. However, there’s a reason those two aren’t active on social media. They’re sane.

On social media right now I have family by relation and by marriage that are saying the wildest things. Disappointing things. Some things that leave me speechless. Dumbfounded. These particular folk feel that Trump is doing a great job in the White House. Today. Right now.

The only thing that goes through my head is this: da fuq?

Now, I’ll admit I can’t bring myself to watch Fox News for more than 30 seconds without wanting to kick the television across the room. When my husband is watching some sort of news broadcast and Trump comes on with that horrible sing-songy preacher-for-a-penny-wannabe voice he has I become enraged. The man is a moron. Anyone who has to tell you constantly share his superior level of intelligence is actually an insecure idiot. Back in my commuting days I’d listen to right leaning talk radio just to see what others were thinking on various subjects, but even the most pearl-clutching, shat-bit crazy rhetoric at the time had nothing on some of the twisting and turning the folks on Fox News do to plump up Trump today.

And I can’t believe I’m associated, either by relation or by choice, with people that believe that crap.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been drawing a line at maintaining amy relationships. If anything racist is shared I end the online relationship immediately and honestly I question assembly with these folks in real life. And yes, that includes memes where “#BlackLivesMatter” is crossed out and replaced with “AllLivesMatter”. No explanation, no dialog, you’ve made up your mind, I’m outta here, and no need to pass me the cole slaw at the next gathering, we probably won’t be in the same room.

I tried. I attempted to understand. I tried explaining the importance of like this: imagine going to St. Jude Children’s Hospital and telling the kids living through their childhood cancer that “Hey, All Children Matter!”. Any compassionate human being wouldn’t ever say that. Just because we’re saying “Black LivesMatter” right now, because it’s been much too long since society has realized this, doesn’t mean other lives don’t have value. It’s just that we’re not going to tolerate this racial injustice, we need to fix it, and something has to be done.

The person I shared this with said everything was fine since Obama was president, and actually President Obama was racist against whites because of Affirmative Action. I didn’t go any further in their diatribe before hitting “Unfriend”.

As I type this I can’t help but think that perhaps not talking about politics may have not been the best approach. I feel less educated on matters than I should be and I’m not good debater on these subjects. I’m not looking to live in a bubble of my personal belief, but I’m looking to have discussions with people that have open minds. I like to think I’m open minded.

But the idea that based on skin color some folks have more value than others? Yeah, I’m not discussing that. It’s just wrong.

History.

One thing I’ll say about 2020, we can never say we didn’t see history in person.

Here are some snaps taken around the neighborhood.

Five Months.

We have five months until the next Presidential Election. Like each season of “American Idol” being the best talent ever, this next Presidential Election is the most important election here in the United States of our lifetime. Except this is not a marketing ploy. We’ve been hearing about this 2020 election since the 2016 election. Usually I’d be sick of hearing about presidential candidates by now but they’re barely mentioned in the news cycle; there’s just too much chaos going on.

I currently believe we have a 50/50 chance of making it as a country until November. I’m surprised the folks that make the decision about the Doomsday Clock haven’t reconvened out of cycle and shoved that sucker even more perilously closer to midnight.

When I was back in high school learning about history we’d never get much beyond the very beginning of the 20th century. We’d run out of time before we had to cram for New York State Regents Exams, so we never really learned about the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or the racial divisions that plagued much of that century. I know there was a lot of societal upheaval in the year I was born but I don’t know the details. I feel that I’ve failed in not feeling motivated to learn more as an adult. I need to rectify that situation.

As bad as I sensed the late 1960s were I feel like what we’re experiencing here and now is just as bad as it was back then. It is different, but in too many ways it’s also the same.

Side note: I’m sitting on our balcony typing this and noticing a lot of helicopters are heading toward the south side of the city. I was hoping the relative calm vibe of today would pervade but I have a feeling something big is going on again.

I guess I was of the mindset that blatant racism would die off as older generations passed on. It’s apparent that I was wrong with that thinking; racism has been successfully passed on from generation to generation and unfortunately this is evident with who have been elected to positions in our government and the approach many take toward their fellow men and women.

I really hope we make it to the November elections and I doubly hope that the right choice is made at the voting booth. Since I’m on the fence as to whether we’ll make it through the end of 2020, I sure as hell know we don’t have a chance of surviving four more years of whatever this is we have today.

Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter. To say it any other way is to deny there’s a racism problem in our society. It’s a racism pandemic. It’s a bigger pandemic than COVID-19 and it’s been raging for too many years.

Black Lives Matter.

Betty!

I did a search for “The Love Boat” on YouTube and these two screencaps came up together. Betty White! She’s everywhere!

Revitalized.

My mid-2015 15-inch MacBook Pro (the last version before the butterfly keyboard was introduced on later models) has been slowing down over the past couple of months with updates from Apple to MacOS Catalina. To be honest, I haven’t really been a fan of MacOS Catalina since it was released in 2019; it asks for my password way too often, Airdrop is not reliable at all, and it rarely unlocked with my Apple Watch like it was suppose to do. All first world problems, I know, but when you invest more than average money in hardware and software you hope for a more than average experience. I kind of think MacOS Catalina deserves the “Windows Vista of Apple” reputation that’s been building on the Internet.

It’s been a number of years since I attempted to install a Linux distribution natively on any Mac. I’ve been playing around with Ubuntu Linux (and a couple of other distributions) in Virtual Machines on the Mac, but they run very slow and they don’t give a fair assessment of the actual performance of Linux.

So last weekend I decided to bite the bullet and see about setting Ubuntu Linux up natively in a dual-boot configuration on my perfectly fine 2015 MacBook Pro.

It was surprisingly easy.

Apple packages a program called Boot Camp with Mac OS so you can set up a dual-boot configuration with Microsoft Windows. While older versions of Boot Camp allowed you to use this same program to setup a Linux partition on the hard drive, the latest version of Boot Camp doesn’t allow for this. It demands the presence of a Windows 10 ISO image. Maybe a way around this is hidden somewhere but I sure as heck couldn’t find it so I ended up partitioning the hard drive by hand. Once I backed up my important data that isn’t stored somewhere else (primarily my flying raw footage) I set about moving some space around to make room for Linux. It went easier than expected and in no time I was booting Ubuntu Linux off a USB drive I had created and I was off and running.

I decided to stay with the stock desktop environment that comes with Ubuntu Linux. It’s called Gnome 3. There’s a huge number of different desktop environments you can install on any distribution of Linux. It all depends on what you need, what you want, and what your resources are. The default setup works just fine on this 2015 MBP and the computer boots up in about a third of the time as MacOS Catalina.

I poked around the Internet after getting things installed and found a black/dark theme with gold highlights that I find amazingly pleasing to the eye. The default Ubuntu orange and purple is just fine, but I wanted to find something a little more distinctive. Back in the day of text terminals I always opted for an amber-on-black screen (versus green on black or white on black) and this color combination is a modern twist on the experience.

I’m still installing the applications I need, all at no cost by the way, and making some tweaks here and there but I haven’t felt this engaged with my laptop in a very long time. Battery life is stable, the fans aren’t screaming in agony, and the Retina display under Linux power is absolutely gorgeous.

I’ll be including updates as I continue to delve further back into the Linux experience and I can always answer any questions to the best of my ability, or at least steer you to the resources I use as well.

Happy computing!

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.

Monday Jam.

I was listening to a Yacht Rock radio-like playlist on Spotify when Andrew Gold’s “Never Let Her Slip Away” from 1978 came up. I didn’t really remember the track but it sounded very familiar to me. I knew the lyrics but the syncopation on this original version was all wrong from what I knew.

It turns out I forgot about a track I had spun a lot back when I was a club DJ in the first half of my 20s. In 1992, British dance group Undercover had released a cover of this track. I spun the heck out of this record, always had a great response, and I remember getting a bunch of requests for “that slip away” record. I probably still have the 12-inch single in storage in the basement.

I found it on YouTube, here’s Undercover with “Never Let Her Slip Away”.

Eerie.

I was up at my usual time this morning to go for a walk. The curfew here in Chicago ended at 6:00 a.m. today, so I figured it’d be safe to go out and get some exercise before diving into the workday later this morning.

As soon as I went outside I instantly noticed how quiet the streets were today. Both the CTA’s ‘L’ and the METRA commuter rail run through our neighborhood and neither are operating with any sort of regularity. Westbound landings into O’Hare fly directly overhead as well and of course there’s been a huge reduction of flights since the pandemic took over the world.

Before going to bed last night I noticed in the distance several helicopters hovering over the Loop to the apparent northeast of the Sears Tower. There are no helicopters this morning.

The neighborhood is eerily quiet this morning. Even noticeably more so than when the quarantine started back in March. I think it’s the lack of the rumble of the ‘L’ that’s the most noticeable. Every once in a while I can hear an announcement being blared out on the loudspeakers but I can’t ever make out what they’re saying, even if I’m standing on the platform. Some folks feel the need to yell into the microphone.

I’m so very tired, especially of the woes and injustices plaguing American society. I hope and pray that the rest of the world isn’t like this. I know there’s places in much worse shape than the United States right now, I hope there are places that are in better shape as well. We can do better than this.

We must do better than this.