Getting It Off Your Chest

The Humboldt Park Alligator Saga bothers me and I’m not sure why

Earlier this week a friend shared a post on Facebook about an alligator discovered in the lagoon at Humboldt Park.  Uncle Ivars posts frequently about many bizarre and diverse things, usually ahead of the wave of things that go viral.  I shared it with the following:

Fucking gentrification. When I lived in Humboldt Park, no self-respecting crocodile or alligator would live anywhere near there.  Now they walking with their double strollers, sipping fish-flavored lattes and eating frog and avocado toast. All while causing property taxes to skyrocket for the old time residents.

My audience got a kick out of that.

But soon the media started to pay attention…….The alligator now has a name, Chance the Snapper, though I think Hector Smolinski would be more appropriate.  And two twitter accounts!  @HumboldtGator  and @HumboldtParkGator probably have more followers than I do as well.  People are going to the park to watch the hunt for Chance.  Maybe because the All-Star break is this week and there aren’t a lot of sports to watch?

I grew up in the Humboldt Park neighborhood in the 70s, 80s and a bit of the 90s before moving as soon as I could afford a place of my own. Back then, I can tell you, there was nothing interesting or exciting about Humboldt Park.  Nothing that would make you make a special trip to the hood unless you had to be there.  We had crime, gangs, and drugs. Not as bad as many West Side neighborhoods but still. I recall in high school even my Hispanic friends who lived elsewhere were like

“You live where? No, I cannot give you a ride home but here’s some bus fare money.”

The park was actually one of the few bright spots back then. I spent hours after school exploring the park, including the lagoon, which by the way has a man-made island called Turtle Island.

It didn't really look this pretty back in the day

It didn’t really look this pretty back in the day

Where was all this media attention when people when the neighborhood was struggling?

Maybe I’m just feeling a little Daoist and not knowing how this will turn out.  My mom still lives in the money pit crapshack house I grew up in.  The Four Horsemen of Gentrification have already started riding throughout the 606.  What if some developer decides that they really want to step up their game.  Maybe they offer my mom market value for her home.  Or maybe they go the bribe the aldercreature route and suddenly my mom is on a first name basis with the city inspector.  Who Knows.

By the way, it seems the borders of Humboldt Park have been shifted (thank you realtors) and it’s possible I was in West Town instead of Humboldt Park. Fuck that noise, as we use to say, it was Humboldt Park!
New Rule: If you live 2 blocks from a park that a neighborhood is named after, you are in that neighborhood.


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Forever House, Getting It Off Your Chest, This Week on Facebook, What I Learned This Week

Letgo is the Tinder of furniture selling apps

In a pre-move effort, or at least an attempt to light a fire under our butts and look for a new house, We have made the decision to start getting rid of the clutter. This was before I had even heard of Marie Kondo and we aren’t getting rid of things that don’t give us joy so much as things that we just don’t want to take up valuable space in a moving truck.

To that end, I’ve started selling things on Letgo and FaceBook MarketPlace. At first, it was kinda a rush because I’d post something and get some immediate responses and sold things within a few days. Then things started to settle down. Maybe it was the oncoming Winter, or maybe it was the junk I was trying to unload.

People will contact you at the strangest hours

It seems that LetGo is Tinder for boring, old people! We have two small children in this house and as such, tend to go to bed early. So in the morning when I wake up (or at 3 am when the Insomnia Fairy strikes) I am astounded by all the late hour messages from different people  Thrift Saling at 1 am, probably coming down from a wine-and-no-dinner or vodka infused evening.

Especially on the weekends! Do these people have a few adult beverages and then start trolling MarketPlace looking for sweet deals on desks, sofas and that elusive Barrister Bookcase?

You will get ghosted

I’ll respond and sometimes the person writes back. But a lot of times they don’t. Even when they contact me during Normal Hours, we will chat for a bit and then suddenly silence. You can usually see it coming. The graceful ones look for an out: what are the measurements? Oh, that’s too big.

People will try to talk you down on your price no matter how low you go

Pricing is more art than science. No one wants your Pottery Barn sofa that you are discounting by $20 when they can just buy a new one that doesn’t have your ass crack residue on it.  At the same time, no one wants to go across town just to pick up an item for $5 unless it is hard to find, or unique in some other way.

Still, there are some people who will try to talk you down even though you are practically giving something away.

People will not leverage technology

Too often people will reach out to me, ask me about it, and then realize that we are 14568 miles apart. Yet LetGo  and Facebook MarketPlace have built-in mechanisms that will tell you approximately how far someone is from you.  So you don’t have to drive an hour just to pick up some item you could just order off Amazon for $10 more unless you happen to be in that area anyway.

Too often, someone contacts me interested in an item and then they realize we are too far away to make this work.  At the same time, I have sold two large pieces of furniture to people who have driven in from Indiana, so distance isn’t always a factor if you price it right.

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Dark Matters, Forever House, Life Hacks, Life Lessons, Parent of Twins, Summer in Chicago

A Long overdue goodbye to Summer

Even though I haven’t been motivated to vent my spleen in a while, I’m hammering out this post because we apparently have a new policy at CN where you could lose your blog space if you don’t post periodically or frequently enough or something.

Don’t feel neglected readers, I haven’t been posting on social media much either.   On Facebook, if I post anything too liberal, my right-wing boyfriends come out of their basements to set me straight.   And if I say anything that doesn’t perfectly align with the lefty talking points, my SJW girlfriends put me in check as well.

It. is. Exhausting.

How was your summer?  Mine was meh.  The weather this summer was, to use the technical term, sucky. For every decent weather day, there were two rainy, humid or hot as hell days. There weren’t as many sit on the front porch and enjoy my coffee (or back deck and wine) moments like last year.  Because the weather wasn’t favorable, it wasn’t always possible to let the kids spend time in the backyard burning off energy.

Heard a crash at 3am and found this!

Heard a crash at 3 am and found this!

We spent a considerable amount of money trying to get this house in shape for if when we finally pull the trigger and decide to move.  We love our house and our neighborhood, especially now that Portage Park is starting to become a little more trendy.  But the house has some warts and with two growing kids, the thought of sharing the largest of 2.5 bathrooms with them doesn’t appeal to Nightingale.  And there’s the school thing.  Our neighborhood school is okay but not great.

On the other hand, would God put a Binny’s and a Culvers around the corner from us if she wanted us to move!  Besides, we don’t know where to move.  We don’t have any ties to any particular suburb here and a better school would mean less home than we have now or a much bigger mortgage.  Nightingale’s family is mostly in Memphis and we wouldn’t fit in there.

Gonna need a little more than duct tape to fix

Gonna need a little more than duct tape to fix

A big change occurred at the office at the start of summer.  By that I mean I no longer work at an office.   One of the other work groups expanded and needed my seat.  The dude in charge of office seating asked if I really, really, really, really needed a seat in the office.  In spite of him being subtle, I was able to discern that he would rather not try to find me a seat.  So rather than wind up in a broom closet, so now I’m 99.9999% WFH.   I’ve gone into the office a total of three times since Memorial Day.

There are ups and downs of working 100% remote.  When you are at the office but not at your desk, people assume you are somewhere nearby.  In the breakroom, bathroom, meeting room, out having a smoke (even though they know you don’t smoke) or just out to lunch.  Kidding; no one takes lunch in Corporate America.

But when you are home, if you don’t respond within one-tenth of a second to an email or Instant Message, you obviously must be in the backyard sipping margaritas and working on your tan.  How absurd is that?  I drink Manhattans, not margaritas.

On the other hand, it is nice not having an hour plus door-to-door commute.  It’s even nicer when my kids aren’t being douche nuggets and I can get drop them off at daycare and get back with a little time before I clock in so I can sneak in a choir like mowing the lawn.

Let me know how your summer in the comments below and thanks for reading.

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I’m not what you would consider a superstitious person. Sure, I avoid walking under ladders, try not break any mirrors or open umbrellas inside of the house, but these are safety driven rather than superstition motivated. I’m not a friggatriskaideka or paraskevidekatriaphobe (and this is probably the only time I will ever use those words) nor do believe in rabbit’s feet or knocking on wood.

I think I’m somewhat superstitious in certain situations. I would say I’m Quasi-Superstitious or Quasistitious. Why not Semi-Superstitious, Demi-Superstitious or even Hemi-Superstitious?

I looked up Semi, Demi, Hemi, and Quasi is the prefix that works best. Although they all denote half, Semi is almost always used as a quantity qualifier. Its sibling Hemi is used mostly as a technical nomenclature in fields like chemistry, biology, and anatomy. Their kissing cousin Demi is more ceremonial and often implies “lesser.” A demigod, after all, is not quite the real thing.

Quasi is more appropriate because it means seemingly apparent but not really.  Like kinda pregnant.

Getting back to my Quasistitious-ness….The belief that bad luck comes in threes is a good example of how I sometimes partake of the superstition kool-aid.  A couple of things go wrong, and I start to look for the next bit of bad luck.

Recently, my wife sprained her ankle and we also had a tire blow out while driving to Michigan. My cell phone also mysteriously stopped connecting to our cellular network (looking at you T-Mobile) and we are hoping that those are The Three.

But if you think about it, you can always find three things that are both bad luck and in close proximity.  So maybe the Power of Three is really just good old-fashioned confirmation bias.  

Maybe the best explanation for my Quasistitious comes from a show that jumped the shark a long time ago:

“Superstition lies in the space between what we can control and what we can’t. Find a penny pick it up, and all day long you will have good luck. No one wants to pass up a chance for good luck, but does saying it 33 times really help? I mean is anyone really listening, and if no one is listening why do we bother doing those strange things at all? We rely on superstition because we are smart enough to know we don’t have all the answers, and that life works in mysterious ways. Don’t diss the ju ju from wherever it comes.”

Let me know your thoughts on Superstitions in the comments below and thanks for reading.

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Becoming a Parent, Dating and Romance, Evergreen Content, Life Hacks, Parent of Twins, Practical Life Lessons, Two for Tuesday

Every Couple needs a Secret Language

Every couple, gay or straight, whether married or in a LTR, needs their own secret language. I’m not talking Lovey-Dovey baby talk but some simple words, phrases and even gestures that seem straightforward to circumstantial eavesdroppers, but have a clandestine meaning to you and your partner.  Think of these as your safe words for non-sexual situations.

The Couple by Ryan Lintelman

You can just feel the passion burning between these two!    (Photo Courtesy of Ryan Lintelman)

One common event every couple goes through is a situation where one of you wants to leave a scene and the other may not or may not be aware. Nightingale and I don’t have this yet because we can still use the ole “gotta go, kids are about to have a meltdown,” but I have come up with what I call the Traffic Light Protocol.

  • Green Light
  • Yellow Light
  • Red Light

Let’s say you are at a party and you are done doing the smiling and making small talk and just want to go home, but it’s not urgent. A Green Light phrase might be “honey, did we remember to take the laundry out of the washer? I don’t want mold to set in on my work clothes.”

In the Green Light phase, you’re telling your mate that they have about 20-30 minutes to make the rounds, talk to anybody they really want to speak with and then get out of there. You are going to turn into a pumpkin soon.

Now let’s imagine a different scenario. Same party but perhaps its even duller and you just are not feeling it. A Yellow Light phrase might be “honey, I’m pretty sure we didn’t take the laundry out of the washer and I don’t want mold to set in on my work clothes.”

This is a way to say okay wrap up with ever smooching and dealing you’re doing, but don’t engage anyone new and let’s get out of here in 15 minutes or less. You are turning into a pumpkin right now.

Now let’s imagine the same party but perhaps something transpires that irks you or someone is there that annoys you, or you’ve already given the Green or Yellow alert. A Red Light phrase might be “honey, our neighbor just texted that our laundry room is flooded.”

This is the 2-minute warning. You are beyond your limit and are going to turn a Rage Beast in 30 seconds or less. Wrap it up. No long good-byes.

One last thing: You must use these sparingly and judiciously. Also, you definitely should not use phrases that will blatantly insult anyone’s intelligence.

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Blogapalooza, Catholic, Dark Matters, Getting It Off Your Chest, Life Lessons

Summer of 99: When It all went to Hell

This time of year always brings me back to the Summer of 1999 when I experienced a terrible Series of Unfortunate Events.  I lost my job.  I broke my toe.  My roommate and I were not getting along.  I got mugged.  And I let someone special get away.

Hat tip to Nina Vallone of YouKnowKeen.  She inspired me to write this based on this post.  

It always works out in the end; if it hasn't worked out, it's not the end

It always works out in the end; if it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end

Back in the day, before the Marathon Era of my life, I ate, slept and breathed Volleyball. I wasn’t tournament level good but I was decent enough. We use to play volleyball on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Lincoln Park.  We would play until the sun went down, then head to the bar. It was usually very late nights but I still managed to get home just before midnight and get enough sleep to make it through my mindbogglingly boring job as a paralegal the next day. At the start of summer the sun would still be out while we were finishing up the last games. But about this time next week or two, it would start getting a little darker as we finished our games.
Those were fun times but I don’t think I really ever appreciated them for what they were. I should have really just appreciated the fact that I was enjoying all the city had to offer.

“My life was a mess. I was breaking down who I had become. Knowing all too well, I was existing for the moment, living my life, hurried and worried.”

And it all came to a head on the Friday of July 19, 1999.  This was the day I got fired from my dead end job as a paralegal at Big Bucks Law Firm 1.0.  That morning started out on the wrong foot.  I was running late and as I entered the lobby, I ran into a former co-worker.  We hugged and did that thing were you try unsuccessfully to catch up on two years in 30 seconds.

Seeing her was a foreshadowing of things to come.

I don’t want to relive the dirty details of all the Unfortunate Events.  The broken toe meant I couldn’t  defend myself well against the muggers; the getting fired made me too embarrassed to call her back.    I was in G-school but couldn’t get a job in technology because I had neither a degree or experienced.  The irony of that is I wasn’t any smarter the day I got my diploma than the day before but we value that piece of paper, or at least we use to.

At the time, I felt like I was at the end of my rope.  And then I had my epiphany.  And then my Year of Hell, taking on student loans and 3 course per quarter so I could graduation within a year.  And a crappy job at a DotCom.  Things didn’t get better until they did.  And there were other special someones until there was The Special Someone.  And I learned not to be afraid of the Dark.

Thank you for reading and I hope you will comment below.
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When it comes to winters in the Midwest, they are something else.  Not as brutal as Antarctica, Alaska or Greenland, but definitely a class of their own.  Chicago is particularly interesting because it is possible to experience all four seasons in one day, even in the winter!



Now the Woman’s Edition will take bit longer to put together.  Each of the types of coat I showed has at least 3 counterparts in different colors, sizes and levels of cuteness.  In the meantime, check out Kathy Mathews piece she wrote for a while back.


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Evergreen Content, Life Hacks, Life Lessons

The 7 winter coats you need to survive Chicago Winters – Men’s Edition

Holidays, Life Lessons

Things everyone should do for Thanksgiving once in their lives

Thanksgiving is once again upon us.  If you live in the USA you celebrate on the 4th Thursday unlike our more sensible neighbors to the NorthIn the US, the holiday is meant to commemorate an event that took place when English colonists held a feast to thank Native Americans for helping them start new lives in the US, before we took everything worth taking from them. 

Why doesn't Goldilocks come home for Thanksgiving anymore?

Why doesn’t Goldilocks come home for Thanksgiving anymore?

In no particular order, here are some things everyone should do once in their lives on Thanksgiving.  Not necessarily the same thanksgiving, although it is possible to do all of these on the same one.

Host or attend Friendsgiving:  When Thanksgiving was discovered? Invented?  I’m not up on my history, most people lived near or with their immediate family so getting together for the holidays was a no-brainer.  These days, it’s not always easy to fly back to NoWhere, Iowa or Hellville, Alabama, especially if you have to do it again in 3-4 weeks for Christmas.  [Some day I”ll write the post about moving Thanksgiving to the first week of November, and he let’s make it the start of Election Weekend.]

Some people also can’t or won’t spend time with their family.  They are estranged, black sheep of the family or it’s just to uncomfortable.

Participate in a Turkey Trot:  Every city, town and subdivision has a Turkey Trot (5K/8K/10K) either the weekend before or the day of Thanksgiving.  If you are able, you should actually run this usually noncompetitive race.  If running really isn’t your thing, they can always use volunteers.

Eat a Non-Traditional Meal:  Back in college, I had a Chinese friend who always joked about being at the Red Lobster with the other FOBs for Thanksgiving.  She was not PC and extolled a healthy amount of self-deprecation.  Skip the turkey and have something non-traditional like Lasagna, Prime Rib or Chinese food.

Give Money and time, but especially Money to Charity:  volunteer at a soup kitchen or community shelter.  They can use your non perishable food donation but they really need money, because strangely, dollars never go bad.

Reflection and Renewal:  Everyone usually waits until the end of the year to look back on what transpired and look ahead at the year to come (New Year’s Resolutions anyone).  I say why wait.  Everything starts slowing if not outright shutting down this time of year.  Most likely your football team is out of the playoffs.  This is a great time to reflect on what was and what can still be.

Thanksgiving 1996 was when I unceremoniously mailed my grad school application to DePaul University.  A few weeks later my check cleared I was conditionally accepted and the rest is history.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Getting It Off Your Chest, Wacky World Wednesday

Why I hate financial services online sites


Financial Services Technical Support….how may we piss you off today?

Like many people, I have two retirement accounts: the one at work because of matching funds and the one that is the culmination of past jobs’ 401K accounts that got transferred once the job terminated.

About once a quarter I attempt to log into my retirement online accounts to see how they are doing. I say attempt because I always lock myself out of my account because I have so many Fucking userids and passwords to remember.

Unlike normal online accounts, you only get 1-2 chances with Financial Services websites for some reason. Fat-finger a password and they lock you out.  And once you reset your password you can never use a previous one again in this lifetime.  I’m pretty sure if reincarnation is a thing, they won’t let you use the same one in the next lifetime either.

Incorrect information was entered in an attempt to log into your account. To protect your account, we have disabled online access to your account.
You can restore your online access by following the instructions the next time you access Benefits OnLine®. Or you can call at your plan’s toll-free number and authorize a representative to restore your access. We take your online security seriously and will notify you of any changes to your login information.

They sing the “for your security” song but it’s really to protect their ass from liability mitigate risk.  I’m sure there is some Federal Regulation that mandates this. To which I say have your fucking lobbyist make their congressional whores change it.

Sadly, there isn’t anything the average consumer can do about it. I have to continue using the work one for the matching contributions and they all are gonna be the same movie. So I’ll call customer support and reset my password to something I won’t remember next week, let alone next time the friendly email reminder about quarterly earnings comes in.  But I can refuse to buy any of their other expensive add-on services like Financial Planning or Wealth Management.

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Dark Matters, Get It Off Your Chest, Practical Life Lessons, This Week on Facebook, Uncategorized

Facebook Take a Break Feature puts friendships on Life Support

It's not okay if we agree to disagree on this one

It’s not okay if we agree to disagree on this one

The other night a friend from my College Years posted something on Facebook that could be perceived as racist, if read in a certain light.  Specifically, any light bright enough to read her status post in.

It would be easy to unfriend her and not look back.  In fact, since I am trying to trim down my Facebook friends list, I may one day unfriend her completely.  But for the moment, I decided to use the Take a Break feature instead.

Facebook has a “new” feature called Take a Break.  As far as I can tell this is a more nuanced setting than simply hiding someone and obviously less severe than unfriending or blocking them.  It also appears to be meant for people who were in more intimate relationships that have now cooled but not completely diminished.

In the early years, Facebook had a little known setting called See less of/See More of.   It wasn’t easy to find and I don’t know if many people used it.  The setting has long since been deprecated but I suspect that if you implemented it, the affects are still in use.

The HIDE feature hides the person in question from your feed, but I suspect it also hides you from theirs.  This could be an unintended tell that you hide them when they suddenly stop seeing your cat video posts.

The Take A Break feature lets you chose if you want the “break” to be mutual or one sided.  Apparently you can hide your feed from them, but still see their posts; or vice versa.  I call this last one the narcissistic option.

This is the part where I justify not unfriending my little racist friend.  I really don’t have a good reason other than nostalgia or loyalty for keeping her around.  While I have not talked to this person IRL in decades, I am fond of the time we spent together in a sleepy little backwater college town.  I don’t think she realizes her racism overprivilege and I like to think that by staying connected to her, somehow I may influence her to reevaluate her outlook at social issues and inequality in America.  Now who’s being narcissistic.

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