Sunday, December 18, 2016

Out with old

As I prepare to move, I've been getting rid of many things.  Just today I took seven bags of things to  Goodwill.  I have furniture I'd like to give to Goodwill but they don't pick things up, they only take dropoffs.  I am hoping St. Vincent de Paul will send a truck for the stuff I want to give away and if not then I know someone who may be willing to come and get it.  I've held onto stuff that should've been cleaned out years ago.  I should have moved from here years ago but my job was so precarious that I didn't want to move and be put into a deep hole.  However, due to my own improved money mangement and a very good credit rating, I am going to do what someone I worked with many years ago told me when she got her own place.  She said, "I decided to take a chance. " It's also a better idea than renting again in an area with very high rents.

I am scared, I am anxious, I am discombobulated, but I have to both look and move forward.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Do me a solid

And so it's Christmastime and my birthdaytime!  Because of my move and having to move things and shift things and redistribute things, I don't really want things.  What do I like?  I am like the Rachel Green character on "Friends."  I want credit, gift cards, cash.  (Rachel had a list and if you got something that wasn't on the list, she returned it and got store credit.)  If it's a gift card, please make sure I shop at that store.

But I also like experiences but not lavish ones.  If I want a lavish experience, I will save my money for a good while and buy myself a trip to Japan or New Zealand or Iguazu Falls.  What I want are simple experiences that will help me enormously and let us spend time together.

For instance, it might involve laundry.  I don't want you to do it for me; I like to do it myself.  If there's a bleach mishap, I've no one but myself to blame.  I will bring my own detergent and Bounce.  I'd love to come to someone's house and put in a load and then another, use your dryer, then fold my own things and put them neatly in their bags for the trip home.  While there, if you want to do something really special, maybe give me lunch or snacks that you know I like to eat -- not what you think I might like, but what you know I do like -- and beverages I like to drink.  I like to watch mindless TV or something on Netflix; let me pick and watch with me.  I'd really rather talk with you and have you listen to me and I like you to share what's going on in your life.  I can sit by myself at home -- join me.  Treat me like an honored guest and that you're doing this because you're glad to see me and help me out.

Mean it.  That you mean it is maybe the best gift of all.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

From You Tube -- People of other lands try American food

We Americans have our weird foods and our good foods and our weird good foods and our good weird foods.  Someone on the internet had the great idea of giving American foods -- Hostess boxed desserts, Southern cooking, traditional Thanksgiving dinner -- to young, Irish people who've never been to America (and probably never wanted to visit America because not everyone likes to travel) and recording their reactions.  They're all well spoken, opinionated, and happy to share said opinions on camera.  As much as Americans might think that our foods are for everyone and that everyone can and will like them, the reality is much different, excluding Thanksgiving.  It turns out that traditional Thanksgiving really is awesome.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Moving, moving, moving

In July of this year, my landlady told me she was selling the building I've inhabited for over 17 years.  I have honestly never truly loved this apartment because it's on the first floor and on a corner so I can't leave my windows open to grab fresh air -- it's Chicago after all -- in the few months it's warm enough to enjoy that.  People could climb in, toss things in, even simply feast upon my things and me with just their eyes so it's not at all ideal.  But this place and I established a truce that went like this:  I would live here, it would accommodate me and my things, it wouldn't require too much, and I would run a not-terribly-powerful a/c in the summer.  Unfortunately, I stayed too long at the fair.

I have managed to become more stockpiler than hoarder but there is a lot of stuff, knickknack, objets, books.  Personal papers of both of my parents,  personal papers of my own, hobbies acquired and hobbies abandoned before being adequately pursued sit in bags or in piles or in piles of bags. Yes, I am embarrassed by this.  It never occurred to me that I was not married to any of it, that I might consider ditching much of it.  There are things here that I love and want to keep but I could survive without.  There are things here that I just don't need but like and enjoy.  There are the what-the-fucks, the oh-my-gods, the what-the-fuck-but-oh-my-god-I-love-yous.  There are books and pictures and picture books.  There are things that were given to me by ex-co-workers and ex-neighbors, small tokens that they were thinking of me for which I have no feeling.  This question arises:  what does one do with one's past obsessions and accumulations?

Today I passed on a couple of things that had no meaning for me to someone for whom they do have meaning.  Then I took seven bags of books and stuff to Goodwill and another three of books to the program that gives books to women prisoners.  I came home with yogurt and went out to get a solid box to house one of the what-the-fuck-but-oh-my-god-I-love-yous which is a spiral staircase a little over two feet tall.  I put down a layer of packing peanuts, put in the stairs, then filled the box with peanuts.  It's a move, things break, but I am hoping this piece will survive well.

Today I also sent a table, two matching chairs, and a solid stepstool to live with my departing landlady.  Rumor has it that she did very well in the sale of the building and good for her.  For years my rent was stupid low and that got me through an entire year when my hours at work were cut by 20%.  She is depressed and upset about leaving her beloved building but not because she stayed too long at the fair but because this was her home for 25 years and she never wanted to leave it.  At least she will have a nice table and chairs in the kitchen of her new condo, one less thing to think about.

So how does all this make me feel?  Scared.  I am scared.  I am also depressed because I so stunningly let my life get away from me.  What I liked to do, how I liked to live, how I spent my time in pursuit of personal pleasures have all gotten away from me and I am monumentally sorry, horrified, aghast, and disappointed in myself.  No one could me more disappointed in me than I am in myself.  Years slipped by and I can't believe I am the age I am.  I can still do things that many people would be scared to death to do -- like travel to a foreign country on my own sans tours, getting from the airport to the hotel on a public conveyance of some sort -- but so much else scampered off -- confidence, talent, ability -- and seems to be pissed off at me and is now stewing under a rock or up in a tree, waiting for me to find it and apologize sincerely before it tells me that all is forgiven but not forgotten and I will have to work very hard to be confident, talented, able.  I stayed at my job too long and with a condo looming in my future, I can't just go "no more, thanks," without something else to take its place.  No one is more disappointed in all this than I am.

I needed this to happen, I suppose; I just wish I'd come to the conclusion on my own 10 years ago.  I certainly wish I was something other than disappointed in myself.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Let's all dig deep and think hard and decide that we all have things to be thankful for this holiday season.

I am thankful for four brand new episodes of "Gilmore Girls," episodes that will finally end the show the way its creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, wanted it to end.  They'll be available on Netflix starting November 25.

I am thankful that my three gum surgeries are over and done with.  Yes, yes, y'all.

I am thankful that I will be able to take advantage of 50%-off senior citizen transit rates this year.

Starting in December, I get a small pension from a job I had for just seven years.  Thank you!

I am thankful I've properly maintained my vehicle these many years.  After 18.5 years, it's still with me and doing well.

I am thankful for the followers of my blog.  There are not a lot of you but I appreciate you all.  Thank you.

Thank you, my friends and family.  I am a human being with flaws; thanks for accepting all of them.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Enjoy your day however you spend it.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sadness in the land

As Dave Chappelle said last night on Saturday Night Live, "I know Whites."  Well, Dave knows them better than me.  And Michael Moore was right.  And the sky fell.

Donald Trump is now the President Elect.

Hillary conceded with grace (and some tears).  She and Bill wore purple to symbolize the unity of red and blue. She won the popular vote but the electoral college gave it to Trump.  The electoral college, a system whose time has passed.

I spent Wednesday being either nauseous or in tears.  I honestly said, "I am worried that I might not ever get over this."  Thursday was better.  On Friday morning I was okay but had to run a quick errand outside of the office at lunchtime -- this happens about thrice a year -- and thought about Trump winning the election and spent the rest of the day feeling nauseous or with tears in my eyes.

Trump and Obama met at the White House.  They both looked pissed off.  My coworker said she thought Trump looked like a deer in the headlights.  I thought he looked like an angry gasbag.  Both are probably pretty close to the mark.

I have had a lot of stress this year and this didn't help.  I was sure the market would tank and take with it a goodly portion of my 401k but it did not tank.  The market, in fact, went up.

I need to stop thinking about this and consider other things like my probable upcoming move (more stress), how I need to pack up things to take to Goodwill next week (what do I want to keep and what do I want to rid myself of), and my lovely new manicure which looks like gold glitter.  It's a dip, y'all, and it looks wonderful.  If nothing else, my hands make me feel like I have it going on.  It's not true but illusion is nice.

Trump won the vote of a lot of scared white people in an election that was fueled by fear.  They're afraid of not being in the majority.  Scared white people!  You will eventually not be in the majority!  You have to embrace the world as it is, not the cruel, rude, fearful place where you presently dwell.  A campaign of fear is what Dick Cheney did in the the 2004 election.  He came out and said that if he and Bush were not re-elected, the terrorists would attack.  He left off the other half of the statement which is if they were re-elected, the terrorists would also attack.  Why?  Because they are terrorists who want to bring down what they perceive as the American way of life and they don't care who is in charge.  They also want to rip French culture to ribbons and make living in the UK suck.  Of course, thanks to Brexit, the UK screwed that pooch without help from any terrorists anywhere.  Kind of how we got Trump.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Might be my view

This might the view from my living room
And this might be my lobby

Yes, yes, I might just be taking the condo-buying plunge, even at my advanced age.  Yes, yes, the unit is quite petite but since I'd been thinking that living in a nice-sized hotel room wouldn't bother me, that having just a bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom would probably work out -- it surely does when I am on vacation and I even like it -- then I am embracing ridding myself of things.  The week I was on vacation got five bags of things to the Goodwill.  Today I am taking over seven bags of even better stuff that I just don't use and I am hardly making a dent!  I am going to attempt to put my bigass non-HDTV in the alley today but it's big and mostly heavy and I am not so upper-body strong and yesterday I managed to pull the living crap out of a hamstring muscle (yes, it hurt and still does hurt).  So stay tuned! I may be sending various shots of this view for the next few years if all goes well or it may all fall through and everything will go into storage and I will move in with my friend who offered me a roof for a few months.  Here's the stellar bit: the unit is small but the parking is included and on the first floor of the parking garage.

Now excuse me, but I need to get this stuff to the Goodwill.

And if you haven't participated in early voting, get out and vote on November 8th!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

How are things under that rock?

Just in case you live under a rock and missed the whole Donald-Trump-Billy-Bush conversation that demeans and objectifies women and proves that presidential candidate Trump assaults and gropes women as it suits him and got Billy Bush fired from his cush NBC "Today Show" gig (but probably with a lot of money), here is the captured audio recording in full followed by a statement from actor Robert DeNiro who likes and respects women in addition to being happily married.

My final reason for not voting for this Republican candidate:  Trump has dishonest hair.

Clinton/Kaine 2016 -- Stronger Together.  Just like America is.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Gimme a "C"

Yeah, yeah, it spells Cubs and they're going to the World Series.  I am very happy for all the long-suffering Cubs fans out there who finally get a reward for their loyalty.  Question:  Why would you let something like a sports team dictate your happiness or sadness?  Maybe it isn't quite that extreme but it sure seems that way.

Good luck!  I am happy when Chicago sports teams manage to reward their loyal fans.  Bears fans are going to have a very long wait because while there might be some very good Bears players, there is some very bad Bears management.  Bears fans will relax and deal with it just like Cubs fans dealt with it.  They will continue to love "Da Bears" even though things are really just terrible up in Lake Forest.

So for all the Chicago Cubs fans out there:  GO CUBS!

For all the fans and non-fans out there:  Get out and vote on November 8 (or earlier if your municipality offers early voting).

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Black and brown do so go together

I was at Montrose Harbor with my lovely younger niece a week ago, looking for birds and looking for Pokemon.  We were much more successful with birds this time -- a Cooper's Hawk landed 20 feet in front of us on the ground, chickadees were two feet in front of our faces.  But we did see a late-season caterpillar inching and scooting along, proof positive that if nature says black and brown go together, then they go together.

Fashion icon, fall 2016

Sunday, October 9, 2016

When boneheads collide

We all know that Donald Trump is a colossal bonehead and this week's revelation of lewd comments made on a hot mike while with "Access Hollywood" correspondent Billy Bush is hardly a surprise.  I wasn't surprised by his comments.  Disgusted, nauseated, displeased, repulsed but not surprised.  The man is self-serving, self-obsessed, and entitled; why would his comments be a surprise?  He believes he deserves anything he wants.  He spews vulgarities about women even though he has daughters and is married.  What surprised me was Billy Bush.

Yeah, yeah, Billy Bush.  He has been married for 18 years and has three daughters.  He says he is happy in his marriage and he seems to be in love with his whole family.  This Bush cousin was not totally unlikable on "Access Hollywood."  I am disgusted, displeased, nauseated, repulsed, and surprised that he would stoop to such a low level as that where Donald Trump dwells.  His was not embarrassed laughter at Trump's remarks.  Billy Bush, father of three daughters, had a laugh of clear delight, like he was finally befriended by the high school quarterback, like he was now one of the cool kids.  The press described him as a sycophant -- a fawning flatterer -- and I have to agree with that assessment.  In 2005, Billy Bush wanted to be in with the cool guy for that one moment in time, even though he, Billy, probably had to have a hot shower when he got home to cleanse the filth of the experience from himself when he realized what he'd said. 

Billy!  When you have daughters you want to discourage that sort of behavior.  You don't want to think that maybe one of your daughters will be near him and he will snatch at her genitalia and it's acceptable because he's famous.  Another way to think of it?  I don't think Brad Pitt, Alan Alda, Alec Baldwin, or any other Hollywood person with a daughter would have enjoyed this sort of salacious remark. "Oh geez," is about the best he deserved, and then quickly change the subject.  "How about them Cubs?" is always apropos, good years or bad.  Billy Bush, you may have wildly damaged your new career on "Today."  The incident happened in 2005 but stank sometimes just will not fade.  Yours is a cautionary tale for broadcast journalism students and human beings everywhere.

When I was in college, a friend found a poem in an anthology and typed it up.  I kept it in my wallet for years until someone stole my wallet.  I paraphrase:

You have to know what you once said
Because it could travel in the air for years
And then return in different clothes
And then you have to buy it.

Clearly, the person who released this clip is not a Republican and was scared about the prospect of a bonehead in the White House.  This person deserves a thank-you note from all sane Americans.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Five weeks and two days

Five weeks and two days from today, Americans go to the polls to elect a new president.  I write them an open letter:

Dear Fellow Americans:

How are you?  How are things?  How is your family and that one crazy friend of yours whom I don't really like but you're crazy about so I feel compelled to ask about him/her until you're sick to death of him/her and cut him/her out of your life once and for all.  Of course he/she might be asking you about me for the very same reason unless he/she is a genuinely kind person which I very much doubt because there can't be two stellar humans in a friendship because you'd bore each other to absolute death with all that goodness, pleasantness, and niceness.  So I am pretty sure he/she is the crazy one because, wow, you're great.

I know you've all gone to some municipal or governmental location over the past few months to register to vote.  Maybe you've registered at your local library or at a folding table manned by someone who believes that people should vote.  About 24 years ago I joined the League of Women Voters just so I could register the lazy asses I was working with a the time.  I found out that many of my coworkers weren't registered because they simply didn't want to think about how to do it.  We worked second shift; they had all day, every day to work that out but they just were too lazy.  I joined the League of Women Voters, took a short class, and got sworn in as a registrar.  I got something like 10 people registered.  It turned out that most people were registered but were too lazy to make the effort to go to vote.  But the 10 people I signed up did go and vote.  One guy with whom I wasn't even friends said to me, "Good for you.  You made a difference."  I said it wasn't a big difference and he said that no one else had made any effort so good for me.  This man and I weren't friends; that was a huge compliment from him which I appreciated.

But I digress.

This is a huge election.  There is the intelligent, ex-Senator, ex-Secretary of State, ex-First Lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton.  There is the belligerent businessman, Donald Trump, who has never before run for office nor has he been nominated to any governmental position.  There is Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, who can't name any world leader anywhere, doesn't know what Aleppo is, and when he was the governor of New Mexico, fabricated a story about a tunnel in one of the prisons to make it sound like prisoners had dug said tunnel (it was a service tunnel that had been commissioned by the Bureau of Prisons ten years prior).  Finally, there is Jill Stein, head of the Green Party, who was wanted in North Dakota for misdemeanor trespassing and criminal mischief over Labor Day weekend.  The last two are mere spoilers.  The first two are the meat in this four-choice platter of voting.

People say they can't trust Hillary Clinton.  As Michael Moore asked his morning on "Meet the Press," did these people maybe ask her to water their plants for the weekend and she didn't do it?  There is no tangible reason.

Rudy Giuliani was on the same show (1) defending Trump for not paying taxes and taking a multi-million-dollar loss on his federal taxes in the mid-1990s.  "If he didn't claim that loss, he could have been sued by his investors."  He went on to say (2) that plenty of poor people don't pay federal taxes.  I address these things:  (1) Those people invested in Donald Trump's business but also in his alleged business acumen and alleged abilities to deliver on an agreement.  Rather than pay them back, he claimed a huge loss.  (2) Poor people don't pay federal taxes because they're poor.  If you make less than a certain amount, you're deemed too pitiful to have to pay.  In other words, the U.S. government tells them to keep their money, please, and buy some food for their kids.  Bottom line:  Rudy Giuliani is a simple tool.  I can't trust someone like Trump who won't take responsibility for his mistakes, screws his investors by saving his own ass, and doesn't pay his fair share of taxes.

Remember when George W. Bush gave that huge tax cut to the rich and everyone else in the early aughts?  But it mostly benefited the rich so they could allegedly create new jobs?  Did they create new jobs?  They did not.  Trump's idea to cut taxes for the rich will have the same result.  In the debate he talked about how terrible the New York airports area are and that they are just like the airports in Third World countries.  I am 99.9999% sure that Donald Trump has never been to a Third World Country.  Things like airports, bridges, and roads can get fixed with a healthy dose of federal funding.  Hello?  Donald?  Where does the government get its money?  Taxes.  Pay some.  To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, I like paying taxes; they buy me civilization.  (And more attractive airports.)

Hillary Clinton wants to improve the lives of Americans.  Donald Trump wants to improve the lives of rich Americans.  Are you a rich American?  If you're reading this blog, you are probably not.  You don't have to love Hillary Clinton, you just have to respect her and realize that she is well-prepared and sane.  And her husband left office with a surplus.  Remember surpluses?  Yeah, I do, too, but only vaguely.  If Bill can score one, so can Hillary.

As my sister said eight years ago, "The Democrats can nominate a flour sack with a smiley face drawn on it and that's who I'm voting for."  And as my former manager, Jeff, said 16 years ago, "I don't care who the Democrats trot out, that's who I'm voting for."

Thanks for your time.  Make sure you're registered so you can make the first woman nominee from a major party the first woman president and because she is very smart, very prepared, very capable, and is respected worldwide.  That was a hell of a sentence but you get my drift: Hillary Clinton 2016.

Love and kisses,

E. M. Nowak

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pokemon GO on the waterfront

It was a lovely day in Chicago today, probably the last day that will be over 80 degrees until 2017.  I am not a fan of the heat but it was so clear and pleasant by Lake Michigan.  Our Pokemon GO team leader, sub-leader, and I (lowly follower) headed down to Adler Planetarium to catch some Pokemon.  Our lead and sub-leader had great success there last weekend and they allowed me, lowly follower, to come along for the bonanza.

We were not alone.  There were many people walking around, collecting Pokemon, including some children.  Yeah, you read that right, this was a crowd of 90% adults collecting Pokemon in a quest to evolve their present Pokemon.  Except for the heat, it was the perfect day.  Adler Planetarium had the Doane Observatory open and we walked up some stairs for the chance to look directly at the sun through a big-ass telescope with two different filters.  It was fantastic!  We saw spots on the sun that were as big as Earth!  Then we left and got back to the business of collecting Pokemon and I finally scored a bulbasaur.  It was two hours that were very well spent.

What's your nickname on Pokemon GO?  I want to look for you in a gym even though I know that you, whoever you may be, will probably whup my ass.

It was a good day to visit Adler Planetarium and see the view of downtown Chicago

Pokemon GO makes a good day better!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Flamingo: A new view

While I was on vacation, my department changed locations from our stunning view of Lake Michigan to a view of the top of the Dirksen Federal Building.  Just a few steps from my desk is another view I've been longing to see -- Calder's Flamingo from above.

Regular readers will recall my fascination and appreciation of Flamingo.  Alexander Calder's sculpture resides in Federal Plaza which is kitty corner from my workplace.  I've offered many different view of Flamingo, including a shot of the modele in the Art Institute.  The one picture I was missing was looking down on it.

So here we have it, folks.  It's a regular early fall day, the flag is waving, and Flamingo poses silently for us all.  I look forward to a snowfall on Flamingo from above but until then, this makes me happy.

Thanks to my employer for letting me take photos during work hours

Sunday, September 11, 2016

I am still Pokemon GO and on the move

Last week I admitted to my affection for Pokemon Go.  My love has not waned during the week.  Tuesday night, I went to my regular tap class.  My sister, a much better tapper than I am as she practices and is a better dancer than I could ever be, came to my Tap 2 class.  Afterward I said it was a good class that would've been made better had we been able to have our iPhones in hand with Pokemon Go hunting for available Pokemon in the area.  Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle ball change, BULBASAUR, paradiddle, stamp!  She agreed and we walked three blocks out of our way so she could show me how to fight in a gym.  Thanks to her tutelage, I won!
Jynx and I crushed something and someone
Today I am part of a group of three that is going to Navy Pier to look for Pokemon.  I got this text message from our leader yesterday:  "In preparation for tomorrow I highly recommend clearing some room in ur pokego bag for pokeballs by getting rid of some potions and revives

"Also make sure to transfer out any extra pokemon so there's room for catching stuff"

[Author's note: In the world of text messaging, correct spelling and punctuation are for chumps.]

Last night, after slogging around the Renegade Craft Fair for hours (it's a renowned inhaler of time but this year was not an inhaler of money), I came home and transferred all Pokemon extras to the Professor.  I unloaded lots of potions and super potions but kept most of my hyper potions and many revives plus my lures, incense, and eggs.  I kept all 103 raspberries (as advised by our leader) and will collect more Poke balls on the way to the Navy Pier meeting point so that I am ready as soon as I get there.

If you see three desperate characters slogging around Navy Pier with the iPhones in hand, don't say hello because that's not us.  We three aren't desperate, just fans of Pokemon GO.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

I am Pokemon GO

Let's agree about New York City.  It's the entertainment center of America, "if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere."  It's the financial heart.  It's the fashion mecca.  Artists flock there to create their art and maybe create a thing that is big and popular and forever in the cultural forefront, like a painting or a play.  New York City is also the Pokemon GO place to be.

Pokemon GO is the sensation that melds catching Pokemon with a GPS.  People walk around trying to catch Pokemon which they can evolve into stronger Pokemon and then stronger Pokemon still.  If my sister and I turn on our phones at the same time, we see the exact same Pokemon.  If my niece is sitting a little to my left and she gets a Pokemon, I might have to wave my phone all around her in order to get the same Pokemon but said Pokemon can be had.

Before I left for New York last weekend, my sister told me New York was the only place where you could find a Charmander.  I was going to New York to see hotels and didn't want anything to get in the way of that.  Fortunately, with Pokemon GO you can walk from one appointment to the next and collect Poke balls and perhaps a Pidgey or a Rattata.  You get some exercise -- seven miles on Saturday, as it turned out -- which is part of the Pokemon GO deal.  The GPS finds you and tells you what's nearby.

I visited the Museum of Modern Art, one of the great art collections in the world, free on Fridays from 4pm to 8pm it's free, courtesy of Uniqlo, the Japanese clothing store.  Thanks, Uniqlo!  But it was so stuffed that being there was stuffy, slow going, and kind of uncomfortable.  After 30 minutes, I'd seen Van Gogh's "Starry Night," and a zillion people looking at that painting, including 10 minutes to work my way to be in front of it.  It was a clear night and I returned to my hotel so I could have some water and a little rest.

I needed to visit the Apple Store, a block from my hotel, so I walked.  Why are all those people sitting by the statue of Sherman?  I'd heard rumors that this might be ground central.  I went and had a seat and Pokemon came to me because of a Pokemon lure.  I was very excited to catch things.  I talked to people near me.  One man was from Ohio and his son-in-law got him hooked on Pokemon.  "Have you seen a stampede yet?" he asked.  I asked what that was.  Someone will spot a rare Pokemon on their phones and everyone runs to get it.  I asked if just young people ran and he said no, everyone who wanted that Pokemon went.  He was about 50 and he had participated.  "I'm going back to my hotel in a minute," he said.  "I've been here for a while."  I went over to the Apple Store and came back 90 minutes later. Ohio man was sitting on the steps of the statue."Still here I see," I said. "I am going back to my hotel right now." he claimed. I walked away.  He wanted some Pokemon.  I know the look. 

On the northern side of the Sherman Statue -- which is at the Southeast corner of Central Park -- is the place where the Pokemon GO Meet Up group convenes.  Every Friday night at the Sherman Statue and every Wednesday night at Union Park, like-minded fans get together and collect Pokemon.  The guys who run it do it for free, for love of Pokemon GO, and bring a charging station.  He had a Poke Ball backpack from the late 90s that he'd bought on ebay.  He said it was usually in his backpack and everyone plugged in there but this evening he'd set it up right by the statue and several people were getting a charge.  People from all over were congregating -- Japanese tourists, a family from New Jersey, me, the guy from Ohio, adults and their adult children.

And then it happened!  A sighting of a rare Pokemon!  People ran across the traffic of the street that curves around the statue without looking -- thus explaining the police presence -- and continued running into the park.  At 9:30 pm.  In the dark.  Disappearing into the darkness.  Roughtly 50 to 75 people took off with them, including me.  One of the warnings when you log into Pokemon GO is "Don't enter dangerous areas at night."  So much for that, I thought, as we followed whatever signal it was that said there was something rare inside the park, right by this lagoon.  This is evidence there is safety in numbers and the gods really do watch out for fools.

The rare one wasn't to be found but the night air offered up a Bulbasaur.  I tried to capture it but found out that I had run out of Poke Balls so I turned around and left the park.  I returned to the Meet Up guy and he asked me if I got it.  "I ran out of Poke Balls," I said.  He looked genuinely disappointed for me.  "Oh, man, you can't run out of Poke Balls.  But it was a false sighting anyway.  The radar they're using is faulty."  Yes, there are several radars to be had and one of them likes to give fake readings.  It didn't matter to me because it was so great to be a part of something so culturally current.  The stampede is one of the coolest things I'd done in a while.

The next evening, the day of the seven-mile walk, I was sitting in Union Square, right before I went to dinner, having a short rest and snagging some Pokemon.  A man approached those of us sitting on this stretch of bench and said, "We're going to be shooting a skyline shot of New York from here," and then explained what would be in the shot, including us, that we shouldn't look right at the camera, then turned to get ready to shoot.  Some people got up and left without a word.  The two couples on my left were excited to be on TV.  I said, "I just want to catch Pokemon," and walked away to catch a Beedrill and a Dodrio.  I think I got the better of the deal.

Target is also Pokemon GO

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Yessir.  Nothing much to see this week.  See you next Sunday!

Shout out to moms

Someone in the lobby of 131 S. Dearbon wanted to take advantage of steamy windows to send a message to mom.  This week's offering is "Hi, Mom, with Nike of Samothrace in the background." Medium:  Finger on steamed glass 2016  Original 1/1

Yes, Mom. I think he means you.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Politically correct

I remember the days before political correctness.  I worked with a woman who was racist to her core.  She was not a bigot, she was simply a racist.  With every fiber of her being she hated anyone who was not White, Latino, Native American, or Asian.  You get the idea.  She was in the position of training newly-hired people to our job and she was especially unpleasant to those of the race she hated.  As I talked to everyone who worked there, veterans and neophytes, I heard what they said about her and what she said to them.

There was one fellow who was especially terrible at the job.  He simply couldn't do it and no amount of hints and training from anyone was able to save him from being fired.  A few weeks after he was let go, he bought a garment from me -- a green leather jacket that looked better on him than on me -- and when he came to pick it up, he said he was fired because she was a racist.  I said I didn't disagree with that at all but did he consider that he couldn't do the job and he didn't like it either?  She was (and probably still is) a skin-crawlingly creepy racist (who was otherwise a decent person and could be a good friend) but he was (and maybe still is) a guy who had trouble concentrating on a job that required concentration (and who was pleasant and quite fun).  He needed the job so she did him no favor by letting him go but no one of her nonpreferred demographic deserved to be around that sort of passive-aggressive vitriole.  A mutual friend in another department told me he found a job that suited him better.

And then came political correctness and she was forced to not say racist remarks.  Our company brought in movies about not harrassing people because they were different from you and about watching what you say.  She zipped it because even racists can get the hint.

There are those who are proudly not politically correct.  They are usually proud of it but not being politically correct means they've decided they can be racist, bigoted, jingoistic, anti-semites and it's okay.  It's not okay.  It's rude, thoughtless, unkind, and wrong.

Perhaps the term "politically incorrect" is out of date.  Maybe you know it by its new name:  Trump Supporter.  If that's you, then why are reading this blog?  You know I'm a Democrat.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Bears are back, they're gonna save my reputation

I'm so out of practice with football writing that I am almost overwhelmed.  My head is all into the election and how this is the most important election of our time.  My heart is breaking by the people who are so stupidly willing to throw their votes away not because they like Trump or Green candidate Jill Stein but because they hate Hillary Clinton.  Hard to write about Jay Cutler and, well, bla, Jay Cutler, when my head and heart and wrapped up in the election.  But I will try!

Jay Cutler, bla.  I discussed Jay with a friend and he believes Jay is actually shy and that's why it's hard for him to talk and not look all smirky faced.  This makes sense.  He's putting on a face but doesn't know what face to put on.  Hint for Jay:  Ask someone.

Charles Tillman, yeah!  Charles "Peanut" Tillman was a Bear for 12 years until he was traded to the Carolina Panthers.  He suffered a torn ACL during his year as a Panther which ended his season (but the Panthers went on to Super Bowl 50 but lost to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos). Charles Tillman and his wife, Jackie, run the Cornerstone Foundation.  Its mission is to help improve the lives of critically- and chronically-ill children throughout Chicago. Tillman created the foundation after his daughter, Tianna, was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and needed a heart transplant.  Charles Tillman was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year for his charitable work.

In July 2016, Charles Tillman signed a one-day contract with the Bears so he could retire as a Chicago Bear.  Good for the Bears! Good for Chicago that we have someone like Charles Tillman in our lives! Seriously.  Check it out:

Hint for Charles Tillman:  Keep being awesome.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Gold Star parents I want to know

Hillary accepting the nomination, courtesy of PBS
 Being a big old left-leaning Democrat, I was thrilled with the speechifying and yikkety yakking and Michael-Bloomberging that went on in Philadelphia.  I was delighted with many things I heard (but I did think Bernie Sanders could've tossed it over to Hillary sooner in his speech instead of riling up his supporters one last time and, p.s. Bern, they didn't need to be wound up.  That group is like the watch my college boyfriend had, i.e. self-winding.)  Chelsea talked about her mom and grandmother; I liked Bill Clinton pretending that everything was always hunky dunky and he wasn't a big old horndog for a long, long time but I know other horndogs who also think they're happily married and that their wives don't know they're horndogs, but hey if you're willing to find someone's most private place in which to slip your member then you're a horndog but they're nevertheless proud of their spouses and the longevity of their union; Michelle Obama was classy and smart, and if I invited her to dinner with me and my best pals, I bet she'd say, "Sorry, no," instead of just sicking the Secret Service on me.  President Obama brought it.  I listened on the radio in the car. I watched on the television machine at home.  The one that took me by storm was Khizr and Ghazala Khan.

Donald Trump totally slammed them, two Gold Star parents.

Who does that?  Donald Trump.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Brexit, American Style

The right wing of American politics has their cranks -- always-cross men and women who give us their bitter, angry opinions on how terrible things are in these United States. What's terrible is that these cranks are dashing to the bank with big paychecks right after barking out their bile-laden fear-mongering and we are left upset or paranoid.

The left really doesn't have as many political enthusiasts spouting statements that make even fellow liberals go, "Say what?"  The left, of which I am a part, does have Michael Moore.

Michael Moore is a famous author and documentary filmmaker, films that include "Roger and Me" and "Bowling For Columbine."  His movie about pre-Obamacare America, "Sicko," was one of the best movies I saw in 2007.  (I remember walking out of the movie theatre in Birmingham, Michigan, and saying, "Wow, that was a good movie.")  He is enthusiastic and extreme in his views but he often makes valid points.

In an episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher" that was taped at the RNC in Cleveland, Michael Moore states why he thinks Donald Trump will win.  It's the same reason we discussed weeks ago in this column -- the Brexit Syndrome where people either don't vote because everyone else will vote and get it taken care of or they vote one way thinking the other side will win anyway.

Here's the article from Us Weekly's online edition (don't judge me for Us Weekly, please and thanks):

My final salvo:  If you want Hillary, vote for Hillary.  If you don't want Donald, vote for Hillary.  If you want Donald, then why do you read my blog? You know I'm a Democrat!

-- EXTRAS BELOW -- Two excellent clips from S. Colbert's Late Show --

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts verbally spanks Trump:

Jon Stewart returned to TV and said this:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

No, not quite a loser

This week the Republicans converge on Cleveland, Ohio, a great, old American city, to stroke each other's yokes and probably place Donald Trump officially on the ballot for president.  He's bringing along Mike Pence, the socially conservative governor of Indiana who yesterday said of himself that he's "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” and he described Mr. Trump as a “patriotic American.”  Why would he feel the need to say that?

Unless you've committed treason, you're a patriotic American.  You've not joined ISIS or Al Qaeda?  Patriotic American.  You've not renounced your citizenship and moved to Canada, New Zealand, or or anywhere else?  Patriotic American.  Not hiding under Vladimir Putin's skirts?  Patriotic American (although Mr. Snowden probably thought what he was doing was for a supremely great idea, even for those CIA operatives in deep cover).  You don't have to wear a flag pin to be a patriotic American.  By being an American and standing up for yourself and your Constitutional rights, you're a patriotic American.  Exercising your right of Free Speech?  Practicing the religion of your choice?  Do you bear an arm?  Patriotic American.  Vote and serve on a jury?  You get the idea.

Donald Trump keeps talking about making America great again.  When did America stop being great?  It's the greatest country in the world.  Mistakes have been made -- case in point, public education -- but people knock themselves out to be here, live here, vote here. More than any country in the world, Americans can be born with nothing and go on to build a multimillion-dollar corporation.  What other country affords that opportunity?  You're born in a hovel in Appalachia but can join the military and build a life for yourself that gets you educated, fed, clothed, and sent around the world, and retire as a general.  There are opportunities for Americans that can be had if you're willing to take advantage of the pportunities.  So what about that makes America less than great?

Mr. Trump enjoys name-calling, not seeing that such behavior diminishes him.  All that hot air and he cannot rise above anything.  Nothing rolls off Mr. Trump. He takes everything personally and fires back with ill-advised, badly worded, hateful remarks.

It's a Senate election year in Illinois.  Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth is the Democratic candidate opposing Senator Mark Kirk, the junior senator from Illinois.  Congresswoman Duckworth proudly served in the Iraq War and was the first female double-amputee in that conflict, losing both legs and her right arm damaged.  After receiving a medical waiver, she continued in the military as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois Army Reserves, from which she retired.  Senator Kirk served in the Naval Reserves and also did active duty.  Mark Kirk made some questionable remarks about his own military service, inflating his own record for whatever reason that politicians do boneheaded things.  Congresswoman Duckworth, a new mom, has never said or done anything like that because, well, Tammy's record speaks for itself.  Senator Kirk released a tweet that Tammy Duckworth didn't stand up for vets.  This was over a lawsuit that was dismissed in court three times.  (And, still, Senator Kirk did serve for many years and, still, is the Illinois finest embroiderer.)

Mark Kirk, however, good little Republican that I've always thought him to be, came out almost immediately and said he didn't support Mr. Trump.  I am convinced that he believes this as he's never backed off the statement.  He faces a tough race against Congresswoman Duckworth, so maybe it's chin music, trying to say things that will sway those who might otherwise jump to his opponent.  But, honestly, I think he just doesn't like Mr. Trump and what he stands for.

And so Mr. Trump had a meeting with Congressional Republicans and Mark Kirk wasn't invited.  At the party, Mr. Trump called Mark Kirk a loser.  You know what? That really sizzled my cheese because I think Mark Kirk really isn't a loser.  He suffered a massive stroke in 2012.  Surgeons went into his brain and removed dead brain tissue.  He walks like a guy who had a stroke.  After a year of rehab, Mark Kirk came to the US Capitol Building and walked up the steps.  Everyone could see him limping and struggling but up the stairs he went, kind of like the Witch of the Waste in "Howl's Moving Castle" only he didn't get his comeuppance when he got to the top; he simply went to back to work as the junior senator from Illinois (who is desperately trying to hang onto his Senate seat).  I don't like Mark Kirk, I've never voted for Mark Kirk and never will, I don't much care for the conservatives with whom he associates in Washington, I don't think he's been totally straight with his constituents about his military record, and I look forward to saying the phrase, "Senator Tammy Duckworth," but I don't think a loser would go through a year of rehabilitation and go back to work.  Mark Kirk?  Not a loser, no, at least not for any reason other than his desperate attempts to remain a senator so he doesn't have to do real work.  I hope some businessman will also see that in November when he loses the election and needs to find gainful employment.

What did Mark Kirk say about Mr. Trump?  He said he is an "Eastern, privileged, wealthy bully."  Yes, that's about right.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

It could happen to you

Every person I know with a brain who is paying even a little bit of attention has come to the same conclusion:  If voters are not careful, we could have our own Brexit except it would be Donald Trump as president.  So I won't give my own sweet mini-lecture.  I instead I give you the very funny Samantha Bee making her own point in a funnier, smarter way that I could do it.

I also can't address the lack of budget in Springfield because all the gassy guys got together this week and had a mini-compromise.  Hoo-freaking-ray!  Why'd it have to take a year, guys?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Still toasty

I really thought I was going to write about the Illinois budget crisis which is now over one year old.  However, before I write opinions of Governor Bruce Rauner and how he could end said crisis, I want to more carefully formulate what I want to say.  So next week!  NEXT WEEK!!  I will have my on long-awaited (by me) blog on Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) which he surely won't read and which I suspect only a few people will, in fact, read.  As with everything in my blog, I do it for myself and if others read and enjoy it, I will get some small satisfaction. 

Meanwhile, dang, it's still toasty here, but good news -- an a/c is in.  Things get cool!  I am sleeping better and will accept that as being good enough for now.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

It's toasty

It's summer and it is very warm.  I thought about discussing Illinois's Year Without a Budget but I will work on that for next week.  In the meantime, my a/c isn't installed yet.  I really gotta do that...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Train magic

So suppose you're on one of the Hiawatha trains that travel between Chicago in Milwaukee, making stops at Glenview, Illinois, Sturtevant, Wisconsin, and General Mitchell Milwaukee Airport before Intermodal Station in Milwaukee.  It's the return trip from Milwaukee to Chicago and it's been a very nice day.  You've done what you wanted to do in Milwaukee, you got a nice salad to eat on the train, and though the train was delayed by a passing freight car for 30 minutes, the conductor has kept everyone well informed. It's a hot day and the train is neither too warm nor stupid chilly.  The sun is shining and the storms they swore would roll through did not materialize.  Really, a very nice day for 93ºF.

There were some pictures taken at the Milwaukee thing but they're for one's hobby of making jewelry.  No pictures were take on the ride up and on the return it was all about texting with three different people, all at once.  The texting ended and next was time devoted to looking out the window trying to figure out where we are or else trying to get a picture of the skyline.  The latter was mostly unsuccessful and when you get home you realize they really are pretty junky and there is a deletion fest.

And then you see this one picture.

You never saw the thing when you were going past it.  You never realized it was there; it was just part of trying to get a skyline shot.  When you see it at home you wonder what it could be, where it came from, where it was going, and who would be riding on it.  Of course, after true consideration you realize what it very well could be and that's that, it is that thing and hooray for us, there is true magic in our lives.

Look!  It's the Hogwarts Express and wizards and witches walk among the Midwest Muggles.

Dear Mr. Potter, Please don't turn me into a newt, even if I will get better.  Love, Lena

Next stop: Hogwarts

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Words you can use (or not, up to you)

When I was a young woman living in New York, I had a job working for a small fabric manufacturer.  The principals in the company made a very good living -- the wives of the owners had full-time cooks -- but the rest of us were not treated as they treated themselves.  They were very generous with overtime but we all got minimum wage or just above and so every person worked five hours overtime a week.  It was generous but required.  If you sashayed out "on time" they let it be know that you'd made a mistake.  Once we understood it was something that had to be done, we all did it.  Misery loves company.

Our big boss was a smart man and I thought kind of unscrupulous.  In fact, he probably did have scruples but they were the scruples of a man in business who had scratched his way up from nothing to build something for himself and his children and their families.  Nothing was going to take that from him and if an employee -- even one of the loyal, longtime workers -- happened to be having a bad time in life, maybe calling in a lot, frequently coming in late, or just behaving from how he expected them to behave -- instead of sitting them down and talking to them and asking what was going on, he would fire the person.  Coldly, without consideration of their situation, without any thought really, he would call them in on a Friday afternoon right before quitting time and tell them to never return.  (At one point he'd fired so many people in such a short period of time -- eight people in eight weeks -- that the State of New York sent him a letter telling him that if he kept it up, they were going to start levying fines.)  It really was shifty, shady, and, yes, unscrupulous.

In this office, with the used furniture and ancient typewriters and questionable bathroom tidiness, was an old dictionary which I managed to get onto my desk.  In the occasional slow period, I would open the old dictionary at a random place and let my eyes fall on a word.  One day I found the word that, for me, described him perfectly.  The word is snollygoster.

Here is what says about it:

noun, Slang.
1. a clever, unscrupulous person.
1855-60; origin uncertain

I subscribe to the blog called Apartment Therapy.  I live in an apartment, if I ever buy my own place it will be a condo, so the whole concept appeals to me.  They have different writers and today Taryn Williford, offered an article about words that we might be able to use.  I offer them to you as they are much more useful than snollygoster.

Decathect (v.)
To withdraw one's feelings of attachment from (a person, idea, or object), as in anticipation of a future loss.

Clinomania (n.)
An excessive desire to stay in bed.

Ultracrepidarian (n.)
Someone who gives opinions beyond one's area of expertise.

Tidsoptimist (n.)
A person who's habitually late because they think they have more time than they do.

Potvaliancy (n.)
Brave only as a result of being drunk.

Sangfroid (n.)
The ability to stay calm in difficult or dangerous situations.

Apricity (n.)
The warmth of the sun in winter.

Swivet (n.)
A state of nervous excitement, haste, or anxiety; flutter.

Tacenda (n.)
Things not to be mentioned or made public—things better left unsaid.

Trouvaille (n.)
A lucky find.

Bibelot (n.)
A small object of curiosity, beauty, or rarity.

Ailurophile (n.)
A cat fancier; a lover of cats.

Abditory (n.)
A place for hiding or preserving articles of value.

Sprezzatura (n.)
Perfect conduct or performance of something (as an artistic endeavor) without apparent effort.

Lachrymose (adj.)
Given to tears or weeping.

Akrasia (n.)
The state of mind in which someone acts against their better judgment through weakness of will.

Cryptomnesia (n.)
When you forget that you've forgotten something, and perceive it as a new, original thought.

Foofaraw (n.)
A great fuss or disturbance about something very insignificant, or an excessive amount of decoration or ornamentation, as on a piece of clothing, a building, etc.

Pogonotrophy (n.)
The cultivation of beards, beard-growing.

Mumpsimus (n.)
Adherence to or persistence in an erroneous use of language,memorization, practice, belief, etc., out of habit or obstinacy.

Lethologica (n.)
The inability to remember a word or put your finger on the right word.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A vacation would be very nice

Due to my decision to get all things medical and dental done in the first six months of the year, I've entered into a contract with my savings account and my body that I won't have a great vacation this year.  I am using days for gum grafts, colonoscopies, and hand surgery.  My gums may be revisited in the fall so it's best to save days for that. 

I like to get out of town on an airplane.  I treated myself to global entry three years ago so when I go to O'Hare, it's less trauma for me.  Even if they change the configuration of the aircraft and change my seat, I can still get in the TSA pre-check line; I just have to strip down, take off my shoes, and show my bottles, all of which are fine with me.  Where it go is another issue.

There are several places where I can get really inexpensive airfare but when I get there, there aren't any affordable hotels to be had.  I can get good hotels at a great price but then the airfare makes my eyes bug out.  I also don't want to rent a car but that usually goes with the cheap-hotel-high-airfare scenario. 

I think the best option is New York City.  I know how to get around on public transportation, even from the airport into the city.  Visiting museums can be a bargain and Broadway and Off-Broadway show tickets can be snagged.  It's New York and they rotate clothing merchandise so it's easy to find things on sale.  I like the energy, I like the variety.

I've been reading the New York Times online for several years. I subscribe.  I like it so much that when I realized that I'd missed the window to re-up with a bargain rate and was paying the full subscription rate, I was okay with it.  Some of my favorite things to read are the reviews of inexpensive restaurants or new ethnic places. I make notes with every intention of enjoying one when next I visit.  (The last time, I visited none of them which is what "every intention" means.)

These are on my list for next time:

The King of Falafel and Shawarma

Taiwan Bear House

Indian Accent

If you see me, say hello, but please not during, 'k?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Lions! On the prowl! In the Chicago suburbs!

I was in Michaels, the craft store, yesterday looking for picture frames that were on sale.  A great sale!  One day only!  Fifty-percent off all ready-made frames!  While I was walking to the frame department (always in the back at every Michaels), I passed by the kids merchandise.  Someone -- and whoever you are, I admire your particular brand of insanity and we will always be friends -- decided the lions would be eating fresh meat.  I agree.  They would be.
Dinner is served  but watch out piggie!  You are NEXT!

We all know that the lioness is usually the one who hunts and kills the prey and the lazybones male enjoys her work but for the purpose of Michaels on a Saturday, it is perfect.

There was also a pterodactyl ingesting a mother pig and all her piglets but it just didn't photograph well, which I find is always the problem with flying dinosaurs.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pain and let's talk about it

In early April I had gum surgery.  They harvest skin from the roof of the mouth and fashion that into gums.  There was some pain but they give you nice painkillers which do the job for the couple of days that you need them.  After that's it's just annoyance while waiting for the gum graft to take and the stitches to dissolve.  There is some ultra-antibacterial mouth rinse with a hyperactive mint flavor which I liked but after the surgery you can't rinse the usual way as you could dislodge things.  You have to shake your head back and forth and I am not kidding!  Thirty seconds of nuclear mint!  Again, I liked it.

I have uncooperative brows and as I get older I've sprung the odd hair or two in wrong places.  It is what it is.  I'd been going to a Brow Bar at one of the Ulta stores or one of the Macy's stores but that isn't cheap.  It's pretty quick for the lip but the brows required weird measurements but, sigh, I did it for years.  Then one day it occurred to me that I was over the waxing.  The people I liked best for waxes kept leaving the location where I'd found them; or the person who did a good job was just too talkative and gave an uncomfortable amount of information (this from someone who likes a lot of information); or the person wasn't interested in doing a good job.  I decided I'd let them get too thin and I could tame the savage wrong odds on my own.

The Sunday after gum grafting I woke up and thought "I am going to the threading place at Harlem-Irving Plaza" which is a semi-suburban mall.  HIP, as the signs out front say, is semi-suburban in that it's right across the street from Chicago, literally.  I'd heard about the threading place from a Clinique saleslady of my age about six years ago; she liked threading because she found it to be fast and clean. She went to different suburban threading places but said this was her favorite.

There is no recession at HIP.  There are no parking spots to be had at HIP because people like to come there to spend their money.  I finally found a spot on the roof and considered myself lucky even when I had to cross a large expanse of open roof in a steady rain.

HIP is a place that is multi-cultural.  All races and ethnicities are commingling, shopping, eating, getting massages in the massage kiosk (they put a towel over your head so no one can prove it was you), getting their nails done in a nails-only place.  I asked someone in a store if she knew where the threading place was.  "I don't have any other information," I said, but the person I asked told me precisely where to go.

It's a place where you go in and sign your name to a list.  I didn't know this.  They didn't tell me.  They just told me to have a seat and I was next.  There were other people and I wouldn't have minded waiting but after five minutes, a young person came and got me.  I told the young lady what I wanted and she went at it without discussion.  I've had my brows tweezed or waxed for decades so I'm used to that pain.  The other area, between the nose and the upper lip, the area of savage wrong odds, has experienced hot wax being ripped off so I thought I was ready.

I don't like being a wimpy girl.  I had a lady's medical procedure that was known to cause women to scream out during the procedure, I didn't let out a peep.  At the end my doctor said, "Good for you.  You didn't cry out and you didn't kick me in the head."  I had an ear procedure that made me sob. And, of course, I'd just had gum surgery.  Nothing compares to this. I can't even describe it.  Rolling horror as the sustained threading moves across the area like Sherman leading the Union Army from Atlanta to the sea.  And one leg twitches involuntarily.  I had a hard time not shrieking and telling her to just stop.  Apparently there were many savage wrong odds and they didn't want to go quietly.  One last final leg twitch.  She came at my brows with scissors and then it was over!!

It was half the price of waxing and took half the time.  It hurt thrice as much but it was over faster.  I paid and tipped lavishly.  She was very pleased.

I was not going to be anywhere by HIP today and decided to try a place in Skokie.  This person was very sweet and very thorough and the pain was worse and my leg really twitched.  I tried to hold it together but I could not.  The price was less than at HIP and I tipped more lavishly.  I am again tidy.

I am having gum surgery in the middle of June, hand surgery this Wednesday, and a colonoscopy on Monday.  After today's adventure in hair removal, I know my leg won't be twitching during those.  Of course with those they use very good drugs to make nerves sleep while the surgery/procedure takes place.  I wish I had some of that for four weeks from now when I revisit one of the threading places and one of two seemingly pleasant young women makes my right leg kick out involuntarily.  I'm just glad no one I know is there to see it.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Week off!!!

As I contemplate life, I find myself doing only that in my spare time.

The blog's back next week!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Nature says hey

The weekend before last  I was in the northern suburbs doing northern suburban things, all of which were shopping.  At one of the strip malls I visited, a goose was sitting on eggs right in the parking lot.  Geese can be terrifying and ferocious and do great harm to a human when they're cheesed off.  (Swans are worse.  Years ago my parents took me to an area in an office park that had nesting swans and I decided I had to have a picture. They got so close to me that my parents ran and got in the car, happy to sacrifice me to my own insanity.)  I have gotten more cautious and respectful of the power of nature so I just drove up next to the goose and snagged a picture of Mom On Nest.  She checked me out but then realized I was harmless, just an idiot papparazzo, and she left me to it.

Giving me a wary look, in the middle of the strip mall parking lot.

"Shoot my profile then, beyotch."  See all the down under her?  The example of "feathering the nest."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

NFL Draft Town's back; hide the silver

Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel managed to persuade the NFL to bring the extravaganza that is the NFL Draft to Chicago.  With the NFL Draft comes Draft Town, an annual fanfest.  He gave the NFL all kinds of stuff they wanted like security and ease of access and in return, the NFL couldn't charge for admission to Draft Town.  They've only ever done this in NYC and they charged $25 for the privilege of attending.  The cost to those attending last year and this in Chicago is exactly zero.

As reported last year, I went.  It was about 42º, windy, and very, very sunny the day I went with a coworker.  Because of the way they set it up, the setting sun was blinding people 50% of the time.  There was very little swag -- I think we scored free yogurt and a pen -- and there wasn't that much to do if your very soul hadn't been tattooed with the spirit of the NFL which I figured out quickly was the case for me.

The City of Chicago has been busily closing streets and building Draft Town.  It takes less time to put together either the Taste of Chicago or Lollapalooza.  It reroutes bus lines and city traffic and even though it's open for just three days, it hangs around for three weeks.  It is a supreme clusterfuck.

So what does the City get out of it?  No, seriously, I want to know.  People come to Chicago to go to Draft Town so parking garages, hotels, restaurants, shops all benefit.  What does the City of Chicago get out of it?  We're famously broke.  Chicago gets no money from the State of Illinois due to the -- I am not lying -- lack of budget from July of 2015.  Governor Bruce Rauner, an ex-CEO who is used to getting his way, and the lawmakers, politicians who are used to compromise -- cannot agree on a budget so money is not to be had until they can agree.  We give all kinds of crap to the NFL; besides Draft Town, what benefit is there to the City of Chicago?

Hide the silver.  The NFL probably wants that, too.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

It's your responsibility

This week I heard a news item about Donald Trump.  He said two of his children, Ivanka and Eric,  had called and apologized.  They'd failed to register to vote so they wouldn't be able to cast their votes for him in the New York Presidential Primary.  He said he understood; they're busy people.  He didn't want to guilt them out.

I do not understand.  These are grown adults.  Why weren't they registered to vote before this?  Did they think voting was something only common people do?

My parents were from Poland.  They met in Nazi Germany when they were both guests of the German government, working as slave laborers near Ulm.  They certainly weren't given the opportunity to vote there; in their native Poland, there weren't many opportunities either.  They came to these United States of America in 1946 and became citizens five years later, which was the amount of time they had to wait in those days.  As soon as they became citizens, they registered to vote.  They didn't miss an election after that.

When we were little, our parents took us into the polling booth with them so we could see what voting was like and experience democracy in action.  Detroit, where I grew up, had curtained booths and small levers that were moved down for your candidate.  When you wanted to cast your ballot, you grabbed a large-handled lever and moved it from one side to the other.  That reset the levers and cast your ballot and opened the curtains for the next voter.  My sister and I loved the voting booth; we found it thrilling.  I felt like I was witnessing something important, which I was.

When you look at the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,  seven rights as an American citizen are listed; one of those is the right to vote in elections for public officials.  One of the listed nine responsibilites is to participate in the democratic process.   This means voting.

Voting is a right that was won for all citizens through various fights over almost two centuries of American history.  There are over a billion people in the world who aren't given the option to vote.  Think of China.  Then think of North Korea.  Dear Leader didn't get there because he was elected by the people.  His daddy was a dictator and so was his granddaddy.  Running a dictatorship is the family business, just like business is the Trump family business.

So what went on in the Trump household when Ivanka and Eric were kids?  My parents were from very humble beginnings and talked to us about current events and civic duties, responsibilities, and rights.  We were a very middle class family and my parents worked very hard to get ahead.  My sister and I vote.  Ivanka and Eric, ages 34 and 32, respectively,  had every opportunity children of privilege might enjoy yet simply hadn't bothered to make the effort to register to vote, something that costs nothing but means so much.

I would suggest they be ashamed of themselves but I'm not sure they're introspective enough to understand the concept.

For all y'all in America, it's your right.  Be responsible and take advantage of your right.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Monroe Blue Line Tenors

Jackson is a major changing point on the Blue Line in Chicago.  People can change to the Red Line via underground walkway and it's right by U.S. government offices.  There are plenty of businesses in that part of the Loop.  There are better perfomers at Jackson because of the sheer volume of foot traffic.

Where I work, I can get off at either Jackson or Monroe; each works for a quick pre-work visit to the post office.  There are a couple of entertainers I've never seen at Monroe.  Each gentleman is not unique in his looks.  One is quite thin, the other is quite average.  Each one is in the age range of 50-68.  Each one has a lovely, clear tenor.

I saw the thin man about four months ago.  My day had been utter crap and when I got to the platform, there he was, singing from a songbook that might be called "Popular Songs for Tenors from the Last 50 Years of American Music."  He was singing "Cheerleader," a particularly cloying song by the Jamaican singer called OMI.  I hate that song, yet the thin man, accompanied by a single maraca, was making it sound happy and not annoying.  I've heard his version of "Stand By Me" and I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what the third and fourth songs were.  He was singing like he was on stage in some small club and I was happy to hear him.

The average man is a more recent arrival.  He showed up on a Thursday night about three weeks ago, offering a selection from the Ink Spots, "If I Didn't Care."  He did care and believe me, if he didn't care, it felt like he cared and you'd have a hard time convincing me otherwise.  That was the only time I've seen him but I hope I see him again.  He and the thin man hit all the right notes and share all the right feelings.  We're not on the CTA platform any longer.  With the Monroe Blue Line Tenors and the Gorilla and the Spud from last week, we're in some comfortable setting and the appreciative audience and I are all immersed in their performances, and for just a moment, I smile.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Gorilla and the Spud

The Jackson Blue Line station in Chicago has its share of entertainers.  The young electric guitar head banger, the Red Line Band, various gospel singers, oldies singers.  No one can compare with the gorilla and no one -- no one -- can compare with the spud.

The gorilla is a man in a gorilla suit.  He puts on the suit, comes down to the Jackson Blue Line station and dances.  He's often just going through the motions unless there is the perfect storm of a song he likes and someone tosses a tip into his bucket.  Then he puts it all out there, feeling every note, every beat, every word.  A combo of popping and locking and bumping and turning and then he does it again.  In a gorilla suit.  I can't decide if he's a coward who couldn't do what he's feeling without the costume or if he's the bravest man in the city who dresses as he feels and then dances how the costume bids him to dance.  I imagine him very happy inside that suit.

 No one is happier than the spud.  The spud's a middle-aged man of average height with the body of a stubby Idaho baker.  He is an interpretive dancer.  The first time I saw the spud was during rush hour in the late summer.  There was another musician but I can't remember what the music was because once I saw the spud, nothing else mattered.  He used his space.  He felt the music.  He moved his arms and rotated from the waist.  He used the staircase that leads to the Red Line.  He flowed down a few steps then turned to step back up, lightly touching the arm of an older, taller man who was not feeling the music and wasn't enjoying the touch of the spud.  Just when I thought there might be shouts, the spud flowed ahead on the platform, again feeling whatever music the musician was sharing. 

Once in the morning the spud was at Jackson offering his artistry.  I was annoyed because I couldn't stop and enjoy the performance as I have to work for a living.  A third time, spud and some friends -- also spudlike -- were playing Whitney Houston songs, all feeling it, all flowing around the platform, all swaying and rotating from the waist, their arms moving above they heads to the magic they were feeling.  The train was not coming that night so I saw them perform two or three songs, and after one, the spud cried out, "We miss you, Whitney! Why did you have to die?"

Then the next song started and it was felt deeply and interpreted with love.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Spring has sprung!

Happy Spring 2016!  My landlady has already had a visit from the lawn service who've also turned over her flower beds.  My garage landlady has had her vegetable beds turned over.  It isn't April!  Because we had several days of sustained icy-cold weather, I don't think the bug situation will be terrible this year.

I am going to be getting my winter coat cleaned soon, always an indicator that winter's over.  My lightweight winter jacket?  The last day for that is May 10, always.  After May 10, I'm generally not disappointed.

Next week: The Gorilla and the Spud

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Curling your lashes with cutlery

Mascara is a subjective thing.  There are a zillion brands and each brand has a million varieties.  Curling!  Curling and lengthening!  Lengthening and separating!  It could boggle the mind but as a woman, I find this to be far too important an issue to not concentrate upon, pay attention to, and think about in order to make a solid decision.  I am swayed by magazine ads and magazine articles, TV ads, store displays, and QVC.  (The last one is usually right before I go to bed and I've only done it once but it worked out very well and I totally love the mascara.)

Then there is the curling of the lash.  Do you curl before you coat or coat and then curl?  I am a coat and then curl girl but I sometimes do the former.  I coat and then curl because I forget to curl first and for some lunk-headed reason I keep the curler in a different part of the medicine cabinet from the mascara.  I've been meaning to rearrange the cabinet ... for 17 years.  Yeah, I'm in no particular rush.

With my new job, I have to take a bus to the subway and then continue the rest of the way on the El train.  I get whichever of two buses comes along, each going to a different subway station.  If the one bus comes on time, I can connect immediately to a particular train.  If the bus in front of my regular one runs early and my driver has to pick up more people, the bus gets to the subway later and the train is pulling out of the station, which is is what happened on Tuesday.  It would be seven minutes until the next one, there were a few seats, so I decided to take one.

I sat next to a young woman who was putting on her makeup as she waited.  What fascinated me was what she was doing.  She had a spoon in her hand and was using it to curl her eyelashes.  Yes, you read that right.  She was using a spoon to curl her eyelashes.

At this point I could have thought "Oh, huh, how 'bout that?  What do you know?" and pulled out my book and read it.  I am not that person.  I have to know. If it's reasonable and the person seems pleasant and open, I will ask.  And so I did.

She's a young Latina woman and said this was how she'd learned to curl lashes.  She said she also had a regular eyelash curler (which she produced) but she said the spoon worked better.  She said she had two spoons which she used and showed me both.  One was a baby spoon, the other a child spoon.  "This is my favorite," she said of the child spoon. "It's the right size and the right weight and does the best job."  I pointed out that the spoon would never wear out and she'd never have to get another one which made her smile.  She said, "But don't use a soup spoon.  That is just too big."  She showed me three times how to hold the spoon, how to bend the lashes onto it, how to move along the lash line.  I thanked her and got on the train and instantly forgot how to hold the spoon.

The internet saved my bacon.  I went home that night and found more than a few vids on You Tube.  Here are two I liked very much.  The first is long and is a very basic video (with zero special effects and the sound of a TV in the distance) but the meat of the instruction is in the first half; the second has two other tips in it -- how to depuff your face with two spoons and how to make your own colored lip gloss using a spoon and a lighter.  I include both videos and you decide which gives the best explanation.

And before you and I each go off to try to not put out our eyes with spoons, remember that you're beautiful just as you are.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

To each his own taste

I am a big fan of Costco.  I love the place.  The prices, the quality, the volume, the variety, how if you don't snatch something up one day, it could be gone forever, just like getting supplies in the Soviet Union was (as my pal, Mike, used to put it).  There are food and goods demonstrators and samples galore.  Less expensive hearing aids and glasses, great photo processing, ink cartridge refills, and a dazzling array of vitamins await your perusal.  Lower-priced gas awaits pumping.  It is bounty for the cost of membership.

For me the best show in town happens when the rotisserie chickens are ready to be put on the shelves.  You can tell because someone starts rushing around the ovens, back and forth, looking at timers, and touching keypads.  Then they go over to the big metal table in front, just to the left of the heated shelves, and they start laying out the bottom portion of the containers.  Black, oblongish containers.  Twenty-four are put on the table, laid down quickly and with purpose.  Giant, heat-resistant rubber gloves are donned.  The chickens are stopped from spinning and a giant meat thermometer is insert in six random birds.  Satisfied, the gloved-one removes one giant skewer of whole chickens at a time, each bearing four cooked birds.  The person turns and walks quickly to the table.  A bird is slid off the giant skewer and into a container; then another into the next and so on into the next and the next.  The giant skewer is loudly discarded to the side for washing.  The next skewer is removed and the birds quick served up.  Again and again the gloved-one puts bird in box, the heat of the birds clearly making the air hot.  And then the birds have all been put in boxes.  Gloves are removed and lids for the boxes are produced from a nearby shelf.  Quickly they're distributed, dealt onto each box loosely.  When all 24 are in place, the employee seals up each box.  Finally a sticker gun is produced, dials are twisted and a time-stamp sticker is placed on each box.  When that's over, the containers are put in the heated display for people to choose and take home to feast upon.  The show's over, ladies and gentlemen, nothing to see, move along.

More than once, I've applauded at the end of the show.  The person didn't know it was a show but was pleased by my obvious joy.  More than once, I've been given my choice of bird.  "Well you patiently waited so you can have your choice."  I usually point to one with a big breast that's pushing up on the container lid.  I take my bird and put it in a plastic meat-department bag and move on.

I mostly don't care what bird I get.  I am just one person and can only eat so much chicken a day.  I just like this particular members-only show.  There are shows like this everywhere -- the Starbucks lady who places a lid on your coffee in a particular way, the way the dairy guy at Jewel rips open the carton holding your favorite yogurt, your landlady's cat keeping her company while she rakes the leaves.  Think about these shows you love and what they mean to you.  Sometimes that one little private show makes an unbearable day better.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

So long, Crawleys

Perhaps you're a fan of "Downton Abbey" and perhaps you're not.  It's the world of the Crawley family, a world that no longer exists.  It was very good acting and costumes and hair and jewelry.  It was a time that's now gone that, thank goodness, will never come back but I enjoyed the show and tonight it all ends. 

I didn't watch the first season but I happened upon season 1 on Netflix right before season 2 started and, bang, I was hooked.  The days when people dressed for dinner in their finest and when the servants were completely subservient.  When the staff stood when the butler entered or left the room.  It started with the sinking of the Titanic and with it the heir to the Crawley title and estate, a cousin called Patrick who was going to marry the eldest Crawley daughter to keep the title close at hand as Robert and Cora Crawley had only girls.  They find a more distant cousin who practices law, lives with his mother who is a trained nurse, and who are both willing to move to live nearby so that he can learn what it means to run the estate.  Honestly, it didn't suck.

There will be other things to take its place -- do you remember "The Jewel and the Crown" and how riveting it could be? -- as they always do.  That was another world long gone.  "Downton Abbey" is another world.  Other worlds get us out of our own heads and sweep us into the past or a future.  When I worked as a proofreader, a bunch of us were devotees of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and one summer spent a lot of time discussing the "Locutus of Borg" situation.  "Lost" was an excellent topic of discussion for those of us who were fans.  "24." Nothing more can be said except what my friend, Mike, would say to me the next day at work which was, "What a pickle!"

I don't know what will capture my attention next even though less and less on network TV seems to grab me and hold me.  For now I will say that I will miss the Crawleys, Bates and Anna, Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, and especially how really great the house that plays Downton Abbey looks from any angle.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

It's February 28, 2016, and it's Oscar night

It's time to relax, be calm, watch Chris Rock host the Oscars and maybe have a couple of laughs.

I am going to start the relaxing thing right now.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My life in crochet

I am not the craftiest person in the world.  I enjoy crafts like jewelry-making, especially bracelets, and papercrafts, like putting together small books.  These things do not come easily to me as I have almost no art talent.  My art talent has increased as I've gotten older but it is more my ability to stick with it and be willing to learn the craft than actually being able to sit down and just do it.  I went to a bookmaking class once where I struggled to finish the project by the end of the allotted time while there was one hyperactive, hyper-talented art teacher who made two of project simultaneously and left early.  (Her husband was out of town, she said, and she never got to do things like this when he was home.)  I have to plod along in my own fashiion and let it register in my own way and then it certainly sticks and I can do it forever.

And then we have crochet.  I've started various projects over the years but have never had the ture stick-to-it-iveness to complete them. They were always winter scarves.  I like having a warm neck so why not wrap it in something I made myself.  I cannot knit; rather, I can knit but I cannot purl.  Purl just will not penetrate my head and hands.  You can say "you go in backwards" and "it's the opposite of knit" a zillion times but I just can't do it.  I can crochet because it makes sense except when you get to the end of the row and have to turn around and go the other way.

About 10 years ago I started a winter-scarf project.  I actually stuck to it and crocheted and crocheted.  After a while it occurred to me that it was starting to look like a necktie and not a scarf.  I ripped it all out, winding it back onto a ball until the point where the scarf ended. What had I done wrong?

My younger niece learned to knit from her mom.  She was making cool things with ease.  I said I couldn't knit due to the purl thing and I found crocheting to be easier.  She listened to me (Thank you, Laurel!) and learned to crochet from You Tube.  She told me yeah, it was easier and she made even more cool things.  She is clever with her hands, unlike her auntie, and has a good eye for color.

For my most recent birthday, she gave me the gift of lunch.  I said instead of lunch I'd appreciate her spending time with me to teach me how to crochet.  She agreed with the caveat that all her crochet things were packed up for the upcoming family move and I'd have to bring my own.  No problem!  While I am not a tidy housekeeper, I know where everything is.  I put it all together -- all the hooks, all the balls, that half-completed scarf that was almost a necktie -- and I drove over to her home.

It was the nicest four hours.  We talked about a lot of stuff, we sometimes allowed a little quiet as we worked, we shared ring tones and alarm sounds that we use on iPhone (she likes Nicki Minaj and I like Aaron Copeland's "Hoe Down").  I shared the "Carpool Karaoke" on You Tube that features Adele (which was welcomed) and the Slow Mo Guys video of the uvula (which was not welcomed as it's really, really disgusting.  And hilarious.).

I worked on the scarf and she started on a hat.  I made great progress.  The scarf started getting narrower again but Laurel taught me how to toss in some extra stitches mid-row to widen it up.  I'm going to finish it THIS WEEK and I will wear it next weekend with great pride.  It's not perfect but it's charming just like Laurel and me.

And if you want to see what I mean by disgusting, here's that Slow Mo Guys video of the uvula.'