Saturday, November 11, 2017

Are We Alone

We've reached the point in my class about the search for life in the universe when we will discuss alien abductions, UFOs, Roswell, and "are they or have they been among us."

It reminds me of the years leading up to the turn of the century.  I discovered the world of late night radio host Art Bell and his guests and followers.  There was a frenzy of speculation surrounding what would happen when the calendar would contain those zeros. (Remember Y2K?)

One of the saddest events around this time was the mass suicide of young men convinced that there was a space ship approaching Earth on the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet.  They shed their bodies in a quest for a better existence in outer space.  At some level, I get it.

Intellectually,  I totally believe --because of the vast universe -- that it is impossible we are the only conscious ones.  Emotionally, because it's so remote, I feel left out. 

Maybe it was an overwhelming urge to participate that took those Heaven's Gate guys.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Location, Location

In the late 1980's my friend Gerry and I took a trip to West Virginia.  The people we went to see lived in a southern-style mansion complete with "grounds."  I was astonished to learn that the price of that place was less than what someone would pay for my itty-bitty condo today.

The four of us went to the nicest restaurant in town.  Fried chicken and the best strawberry shortcake I've ever tasted.  Gerry gasped when he picked up the check: less than $25.

On the ride back to Chicago, I mused:  "I guess if, money wise, my back was really against the wall, I could always move to a trailer in West Virginia.  Maybe in a college town?"

My friends Carole in Mexico City and June in Asheville are happy with their decision.   I've been able to follow them on the internet, so I imagine they would stay in touch with me.  The digital world is always a click away.

What about making friends?  Would the natives welcome a big city "elite"?  I would start with bridge.  In my experience, there's always a game.   Everywhere.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Good Tax?

My friend David mentioned a Bruce Rauner re-election ad extolling the lower taxes in neighboring states. I was thinking: "Is it the taxes themselves or what the money is spent on that annoys us the most?" At the top of my hate list are settlements we have to pay out for harm done by bad cops, and hefty pensions and perks for greedy politicians.

The most direct pleasure I got from my tax dollars occurred when I lived in Oak Lawn.  I loved the parks, forest preserves and indoor sports facilities provided by the Park District.

As for Rauner and high-tax Illinois:  I think I'll still take Chicago over Indianapolis, St. Louis, or Milwaukee.  But, we'd all like to be "Queen (or King) for a Day" so we could rearrange things.  Right?

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Two A's

Chicago has gone gaga over Apple and Amazon.  My friends are calling me to visit the new Apple store with the same enthusiasm they would have for an exhibition or other cultural event.

Amazon has set up a competition for a corporate headquarters not unlike the bids for the Olympic Games.  And the hungry cities dig deep into their taxes and real estate in the hope of "winning" the "prize."

In our city of big shoulders, the ghost of Steve Jobs and Amazon's siren call of jobs, jobs, jobs is creating a dazzling devotion to corporate commerce.  

I'm afraid we're going to feel pretty duped, maybe like Greece and Brazil, when the robots that are dazzling the corporate lords snap up those same jobs we fight so hard for today.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

My Boss is a Moron

I challenged "morons" at work twice and came away batting .500.  The strike out occurred when I was fired from a job in October.  The employment policy stated that if a worker was employed in July of a given year, the person was entitled to the year-end bonus. 

Because I had friends who were employment attorneys and did me a favor, we took my case to arbitration.  When I saw that the Governor's lawyer was representing the other side, I knew it was strike three.  Small consolation that they changed the policy after my case.

The home run was when I was caught in a mandatory drug testing situation.  Just because some folks from the mail room were smoking dope in the stairwell.  I refused, even though my attorney friends said it was legal and I had to comply.

I guess in this case the bosses really were morons, or just lazy, because I was never forced to take the test.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

When We Were Typecast

I hope many of you remember the IBM Selectric Typewriter.  What a marvel! It changed my working life.  The best feature was a little white spool -- correction tape -- that you could use to white out your typos.  Ah, the beauty of erasure.  I believe that only the lowly pencil had that feature until IBM made the leap.

Yesterday I was at the American Writers Museum.  There was a collection of typewriters on display.  There were the usual clackity-clack black ones.  And, among them the sleek Selectric.  I started to touch it fondly, maybe tapping into some sisterhood of secretaries.

I'm glad that in the sea of our forgotten words, there were some great authors who were touching the same keys.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Keys

At a party at Bill's home, I met a charming young couple who had just come to Hollywood to pursue their promising careers.  The next day they were dead.  Two of ten struck down by an "old man" driver who plowed into pedestrians at a mall in Santa Monica.  It was one of those "I put my foot on the accelerator instead of the brake" stories.

The man was so universally despised that I believe some of the rage was directed at the cruelty of randomness itself.  Isn't that the reason we search so relentlessly for the "meaning of life"?

Recently Venus Williams broke down over her involvement in a fatal accident even though she was held completely harmless.  Laura Bush admitted to carrying forward a lot of pain.

As for the "driving while old" situation, I am not going to agonize too much when my time comes.  It's going to be 90 years or sooner if I decide I am slipping.

If you're around, can I have a ride?