Digs.

So tonight I unpacked the last box for my office. It took a few notes from work to get the mortgage company to understand that my job and office were moving with me when we relocated to Chicago. The setup has been wonderful.

We had to take down one of the shelves the previous owner had installed to accommodate my Thunderbolt Display when my desk is in its standing position. Yes, I’m one of those guys that spends a good chunk of the day standing at my desk. I find that it makes me more productive and actually helps my back. I used to make DJs stand in the booth at the radio station when I was the Director of Operations back in my radio days. I always liked standing but some would get cranky.

There’s no standing for cranky in my outfit.

I’ve combined my work-at-home office with my pilot storage area. In the old house these were in two different locations but in our condo my office doubles as a man cave. 

I am without complaint.

 

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Theme.

So I’ve had a TV theme song going through my head most of the day. It’s from the early 1970s, is very marching band worthy and is instantly recognizable once you hear it.
I’ve been humming the original theme of “The Bob Newhart Show” all day.

I really miss the days when television shows had actual credits and accompanying music and visuals to set the mood for what the viewer was about to experience for the next 30 or 60 seconds. I think the only thing that really comes close to that is the new version of “Hawaii Five-0”, and when that series was retooled their original theme (which was a guitar riffed version of the original from the 60s) was shot down by test audiences so they went with the more familiar fanfare when the series finally made it to CBS.

Back in the late 90s and early 00s “Judging Amy” had a full blown theme song and that really help set the mood for that wonderful series. It’s a shame it’s never made it to DVD or digital download.

Back to “The Bob Newhart Show”. Since hunting down the theme this afternoon I discovered that the series is available on Hulu and I’ve been watching it on and off this evening. I was too young to watch it when it was originally on in the 70s. I remember finding Suzanne Pleshette as very pretty and wanting to watch the show in one of its later seasons but Mom told me it was an adult show and I had to go to bed. I loved the 70s independent woman in Emily Hartley. I also really enjoyed Bob Newhart’s deadpan delivery and comedic timing that he’s so famous for. The man is an artist. Watching a few episodes of the first season this evening has garnered a new appreciation for the humor. Yeah, it looks very dated but it’s still a very funny show. Of course, the later “Newhart” series turned out to be just a dream of Bob Hartley’s character in “The Bob Newhart Show”, as shown in what is probably the best series finale of all time.

In marching band we played a bunch of television theme songs of the era. “Magnum P.I.” and “Dallas” were both quite popular and the marching band won some competitions playing these songs in parades. I don’t know what high school marching bands play these days. Before we moved to Chicago we hadn’t been to a parade in a number of years. We’ll have to find a parade to watch in Chicago before the end of the summer.

Another nifty thing about the opening credits of “The Bob Newhart Show” is that as he’s walking around Chicago in 1972 I still recognize some of the landmarks from my short adventures thus far around the Loop. I love the old style ‘L’ train! A little research online confirmed that he was on the Ravenswood Line, which is known as the Brown Line today. I thought about making my own version in present-day Chicago, but that’s been well done by others on YouTube. 

It’s still fun to hum the theme song.

Architecture.

So I’ve been taking my little morning and afternoon walks during work around the neighborhood a bit. I don’t have my timing quite worked out yet. Back in Central New York I knew where I could walk in 20 minutes and be back at my desk right on time, every time. Here in Chicago I’m still figuring out how many blocks I can walk and get back to my desk right on time, every time. Walk too little, not enough calories are burned. Walk to much and someone is probably sending me a Skype message wondering where I disappeared to.

One of the many things I love about Chicago is the residential neighborhoods that I have been able to explore. With Jamie living here the last four years or so I’ve had the opportunity to visit the north side of the city and do some exploring and the residential area around our condo are quite similar to what I explored around Jamie’s place over the years. I love how you kind of lose the city a little bit when you venture into the tree-lined streets of these parts. I also love the architecture of the homes in the area.

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Back when we lived in Central New York I would remark to Earl that all the houses in our area were wood framed houses with shingles or siding. There wasn’t a lot of brick. In Chicago I’m finding a lot of brick. New brick, old brick, lots of brick. And stone. Stone on the front of old brick, stone on the front of new brick.

All of the lots seem to be the same size here. Once in a while you’ll find that a homeowner has purchased an adjacent lot, subsequently doubling the size of the lot, but otherwise everything seems divided up in equal chunks. The majority of the houses in the area are square and take up nearly the width of the lot. There’s a lot of homes from the early 20th century with new homes interspersed in between. These new homes fit into the harmony of the neighborhood fairly well; brick, square and not overly pretentious (but still pretentiously priced).

I’m loving the brick. 

Differences.

I lived in New York State for 46 of my 49 years in this life. The other three years were spent in eastern Massachusetts. Back when I lived in Massachusetts I would find differences in how things out in society worked when compared to New York, for example, the grocery stores in Mass. carried wine whereas New York grocery stores only carries beer, wine coolers and things like hard cider and Zima.

Walking through the local Target store today I discovered that in Illinois one can easily purchase wine just about anywhere. In New York you have to go to a liquor store. A walk through our neighborhood CVS Pharmacy a little while ago revealed that in Illinois one can also purchase rum and vodka (in addition to beer and wine and the like) at a drug store. New York State politicians would be clutching their pearls about this state of affairs. In Illinois it just is.

I like that.

Not to harp on drinking, but New York State’s laws on when bars close vary from county to county and sometime city to city. 2 a.m. is the common closing time, but Buffalo and New York are 4:00 a.m., some cities are as early as 1 a.m. I grew up near a “dry” town, a township where no alcohol was sold. There isn’t much to do there.

In Illinois it varies by municipality, but as I understand it, during the week last call is at 2 a.m. and on the weekend it’s 3 a.m. unless the establishment has a license that extends additional two hours. So on Saturday, some bars in Chicago can be closing as late as 5 a.m.

Now that’s a party.

Even though we’ve lived in Illinois for only four days I’m finding myself quite comfortable here. I spent some of the weekend driving to different places with Earl so that we could get some things for the condo that aren’t really accessible by train. Driving around the city streets isn’t awful. The grid system in Chicago makes it relatively easy to navigate. For me, driving in Boston back in the day was always a nightmare. While Chicago drivers are aggressive, and there can be some hollering and the like, the drivers seem to be fairly predictable. In Massachusetts you never knew what was going to happen. And don’t even get me started about Utica, New York where we used to live. When the traffic light turns green you must wait for three or four more cars to go barreling through the light before even thinking about doing what the green light says to do. And god help you if you’re in the left turn lane trying to make a left turn. The person turning left from your right will do everything they can to nearly clip the front of your car. People have no idea how to turn left in Utica, N.Y. Don’t go there.

I’m quite aware that Earl and I are still in the honeymoon phase of our move to Chicago but I don’t care. I’m loving it and I’m embracing it. It feels comfortable.

I’m already used to this.

3.0

Something is preventing me from posting photos to my blog again. WordPress is becoming more work than it is worth. Once settled into Chicago I might have to find a new way to blog. I really want to write about our new adventure.

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Earl and I went and inspected the condo to make sure that it met the criteria outlined for closing tomorrow. We will be on the Brown Line bright and early tomorrow so we can sign the paperwork, spend literally hundreds of thousands of dollars (or at least have the bank do that on our behalf) and then we’ll get the keys and be ready to go. I have the day off from work so we’ll be moving boxes and starting to get setup in the new homestead.

I’m really excited about this new adventure. I’m eager to explore the Windy City and see what it has to offer. This morning I was reminded of this song lyric:

There’s only so much you can learn in one place,
The more that I wait,
The more time that I waste.

Brrrr.

When I woke up this morning I realized that I was wrapped up in blankets like it was the middle of October. Both windows in the bedroom were open and I had a fan running because I like the sound of a fan running when I sleep, it helps mask my tinnitus. It was quite chilly. Wanting to go for a walk, I decided to skip the opportunity when I saw it was raining.

Then I remembered that it’s July, not October. Mother Nature has been in a bit of snit this summer. It hasn’t felt very summer like at all this year.

I checked the forecast and saw that today was not likely to get above 70ºF, which is quite cool for this time of year in these parts. I checked the forecast in Chicago as well, since we will be moving at the end of this week, and saw that the weather is warmer and not as wet but still not what we usually get at this time of year.

I really can’t complain since I don’t particularly like the usually oppressive heat of summertime, but I could really benefit from a bit more sunshine. It’s been quite gray here the past couple of days. While I don’t need the press of humidity I do like the warmth of sun on my face. I’m considering taking Vitamin D, something I typically reserve for winter months, just to give my mood a bit of a boost.

Soundtrack.

Michael Giacchino
Courtesy of MichaelGiacchinoMusic.com

I’ve mentioned before that my first run at college was to become a music teacher. I attended SUNY Fredonia trying to accomplish this task. I didn’t get very far in the endeavor, as I discovered that I wasn’t really cut out to be a music teacher, but it did enhance my love for good music. Great music. Moving music. Music that inspires. When I worked in Top 40 radio I rarely heard music that was inspiring. While today’s pop music is uninspired, cookie-cutter dreck, the same could be said for music in the 1990s, just to a much lesser degree.

When I started at SUNY Fredonia in the autumn of 1986 they had just revamped one of the orchestra/band practicing rooms to an electronic music studio. Equipped with Macs, microphones, MIDI equipment and lots and lots of analog recording equipment, it was that very expensive room where a select few were allowed to play. Of course, the technology of 1986 comes nowhere close to even what we have in our iPhones or iPads today, but occasionally I would hear awesome sounds coming out of that studio. Sounds that inspired. And I always found that cool.

When we rode “Space Mountain” at Disneyland last week I was immediately moved by the soundtrack that accompanied the ride. Decidedly different than what is heard on “Space Mountain” in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, I fell in love with the movement and whimsy of the piece. It fit the theme of the ride perfectly and the timing seemed to be go hand and hand with what was happening as we experienced the ride. I looked for information on the piece and found that the composer was Michael Giacchino.

The other night we saw “Spider-Man: Homecoming” at the movies. Like a dutiful geek, we sat through all of the ending credits so we could see both post credits scenes. One of the pieces of music during the credits was from earlier in the movie and I found that I could instantly identify the composer. I looked it up and indeed, “Academic Decommitment” was also written by Michael Giacchino (pictured above).

I’ve since been seeking out his work on Apple Music and I’m in love with his style, his approach and his inspiration. He’s a soundtrack genius and after reading his bio I discovered it’s basically because he’s a soundtrack geek. That’s pretty awesome.

Embrace your inner geek and run with it. Your personal inspiration will inspire others.

I feel the need to play around with GarageBand again once we get settled in Chicago. There’s some soundtrack music from my youth that I want to reimagine, respin and see what noodling I can do with it to make it sound 21st century.

I’m looking forward to sharing my inspiration.

The Flight Attendant. 

The flight attendant stands at the front of the airplane, centered in the aisle in front of the first row and stares down the aisle toward the back of the airplane. I have no idea what she is looking at. Her hands are behind her back, though she doesn’t seem relaxed. Her posture is slightly aggressive. I’m curious as to why she chooses this pose, this stance and this body language. It doesn’t make sense to me. Flight attendants should be friendly, warm and inviting until provoked. Once provoked then all bets are off, but there is absolutely nothing happening on this flight right now to warrant such a stance.

I can’t help but wonder why she seems cranky. Is she not enjoying her job? Has another flight attendant said something catty in the galley? Did someone not flush? Are we out of Coke Zero? Is someone being particularly particular in first class? Have we offended her in some way?

Then I started to wonder if she was late for an appointment. Perhaps she missed her kids. Her spouse. Her dog. Maybe she just felt more comfortable on the West Coast. Was her uniform too loose? Too tight?

We did leave Chicago three hours behind schedule but that was due to Mother Nature having some sort of repeated hissy fit. It wasn’t the fault of the airline. It wasn’t the fault of the airport. It was unsafe to fly until we flew and that’s the way air travel goes. Like it or leave it, if man was meant to fly 24/7 he wouldn’t be at risk of being ripped apart by updrafts or being struck by lightning when standing on the ground. He’d have feathers, not whiskers.

The flight attendant in question stood there for a solid 10 minutes in this stance, nearly unmoving until someone wanted to use the lavatory. Had she a tall hat she could have guarded Buckingham Palace, but that was not meant to be. She was standing on an Airbus and did not look like she was having a good time. I smiled. She did not smile back.

That is unfortunate because flying is awesome. Even when the lav stinks and the kids are screaming and a woman is complaining about the temperature of the cabin and the flight is behind schedule and ground is obscured from view. Flying is awesome and the feat deserves the respect one would expect when you’re several miles away from the planet under man made power.

Enjoy your flight. Always.

Inspiration. 


I’m sitting on Virgin America flight 231 from Chicago/O’Hare to Los Angeles. Seated in 6D, Earl is across the aisle to my left in 6C, Chris and Jamie are in 6E and 6F. Jamie always sits next to the window. We are on an Airbus 320. Like all Virgin aircraft, it’s appointed in a trendy fashion with purple lighting, a boutiquy color scheme and decent electronic gadgetry in the seatback in front of me. I have already ordered my food. Once the turbulence settles down it’ll be delivered.

Departure was delayed nearly three hours due to thunderstorms passing through the Chicago area. One of the many things I’m excited about when it comes to moving to Chicago is the weather. The thunderstorms have a little more zing than what we have in our current home. I miss the days of storms with zing like we had growing up near Lake Ontario. Chicago will fit the bill nicely.

Since we are on a trendy airline going to a trendy location, I have been people watching like crazy. At the terminal Earl was seated next to someone who must have been famous in some way but we had no idea who he was. People were asking to have their photos taken with him, shaking his hand, etc. He wore sunglasses some of the time. We didn’t interact with him except when he walked away and forgot his water bottle. Earl followed and returned it to him. He was thankful. It’s the little things that make the world nicer.

In 5C is a young bearded fellow who opened his MacBook and started typing in Microsoft Word (boo) as soon as we got to 10,000 feet. A casual glance at his screen (because I’m rude like that) shows that he’s typing a script of some sort. My eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be but he’s writing a sitcom script described with the tone of “How I Met Your Mother”. There’s other stuff on there but I won’t share it here because I’m not overly rude, just a little rude. The title of the episode or potential sitcom (not sure of the scope of this little project he’s composing ferociously) is clever. I’d be intrigued. I could see his name and I looked him up on IMDB, he’s written a few things for television before and received appropriate credit.

The thing that I really enjoy about this guy is that he has a pad of paper and a MacBook and he had it set up so he could start typing immediately. He opened it up to a blank page in Word and just let his creativity flow. That’s kind of awesome. I find that inspiring.

I often get caught up in the minutiae of how I want to record my thoughts and then I end up losing the creative flow before actually doing anything about it. My OCD of having things “perfect” on my iPad or MacBook screen sometimes distracts me enough that my little ADHD tendencies kick in. I need to find a way to reel this in. A woman I used to work for offered my Adderall but I don’t want to resort to drugs for this sort of thing. I’d rather just tweak my willpower so that I’m able to do what I need to do.

See, now I’m typing my blog entry and I’m being distracted by a screaming kid somewhere in the back of the airplane. Oh look, there’s a dog on the floor three rows in front of me. 

I think I’ll go surf the Internet a bit.

Socially Awkward.

From the TCM website

One of my favorite “classic” movies is “Dear Heart”, a romantic comedy from 1964. Filmed in black and white, “Dear Heart” stars Geraldine Page and Glenn Ford as a couple that flirts with each other and ends up together by the time the credits roll. When I was younger I enjoyed this movie because it was the one time that you would see both Mrs. Kravitzes (from “Bewitched”), Alice Pearce and Sandra Gould, share a couple of scenes together, along with a couple of staples from the “Bewitched” series, as well as that old staple Mary Wickes.

As I watched the movie on many occasions over the years, I couldn’t help but notice that the lead character, Miss Evie Jackson played by Geraldine Page, had a charming social awkwardness about herself. She had hotel bellman announce her name of the PA system, she got to know her waiters and waitresses on a first name basis, she complimented strangers on their beards (a rarity in the 1960s), she was friendly with everyone. She was outgoing in a sort of awkward way. I totally identify with that and while I don’t see myself in a female role in anyway (I love my junk and the hormones that come with it), I can awkward like that in social situations. In the past I’ve worried about this sort of thing to the point that I’ve sent messages in my swinging days that said things like, “we’re we suppose to have sex?” but just shy of age 49 I don’t really care if I’m awkward or not anymore.

Earl and I just had dinner at a local Chicago restaurant near O’Hare Airport (let’s say it rhymes with Jiobarno’s) and I chatted up the waitress a little bit. Her name was JoAnn. She was missing a tooth. She seemed flustered, hurried and over it all, but after a few moments of idle chatter she calmed down and we ended up having a pleasant time that was originally off to a rocky start (it took a long while for any of the service staff to discover us). I believe that once I worked up the gumption to engage in some idle chatter (fueled by 48 ounces of 312 Green Line IPA) and JoAnn relaxed a bit, everything worked out in the end.

There’s nothing wrong with complimenting a man on his beard or asking a woman how her evening is or exchanging chit chat with a stranger as you climb to your floor together. Sure, as a middle-aged “Dad” type I might creep into the realm of creepy for some, but pay attention to me and you’ll discover that I’m not some creep. Listen to my words and you’ll discover that we can all relax.

I think we need a little more social awkwardness in the world today so that we can break the ice and find common ground together In Real Life. Get off the phone, chat up a stranger and share a smile.

You could brighten someone’s day.