Thursday, August 28, 2014 – Inbound – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning.

On the 7:25AM into the City. Got up early. Went a slightly different route to avoid construction on the (usually) shortest distance from home to station. Barely made the train.

This post will be short, in part because I started this entry late and I’m in shorts. No meetings. No one is at the office except me, working on a submittal and holding down the fort. I get to be ins shorts.

The blonde, pregnant, attractive woman, who reminds me of Alicia Silverstone, is here. She’s engrossed in a torrid page turner from her eReader device. Can we still call them page turners? With the advent of electronic publications, wouldn’t it be fitting to change terminology? I’ve heard the phrase “punching digits” for making a phone call, only because nobody actually dials anymore. “Screen sweeper” perhaps?

There is a young attractive Desi woman here, chocolate brown skin, straight hair parted on her right and draping down just last her shoulders. The teal green long sleeved sweater-blouse is accented by a seashell like neckless. Although also reading from an dreaded or iCrackerBot, she is distinctly aware of her surroundings. She looks too refined to be a student. She must be on her way to work? Newly minted attorney? Possibly.

Also here are Neal Patrick Harris, Allison Janney, the Swedish doctor from the Thor movie, and Pee Wee Herman. All are armed.

Happy Thursday. Safe travels.

Monday, August 26, 2014 – Homeward Bound – trainspottingChicago

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Good evening.

On the 5:00PM out of the City. My sons just had their first day of school. Fourth grade. New school. I will go home and, although I still have a ton (the literal definition) of stuff to clear away, I will instead suppress the urge to Facebook (used as a verb), Twit, Tumbl, or Pinter my children’s post-newskool experience.

Later, the more memorable reporting will be shared. Fans of the Speed Racer & Racer X fan club will share,, partially, in my experience.

Enough about the dog days, except that, the start of school is by far my favorite time if the year ever since I was a young student. Why? Possibilities.

I am not used to these people. In that, my sons and I had a similar experience today. My experience is temporary. This train is a true express; it travels from downtown to the tertiary stop along the line, then the penultimate (my stop), then bypasses the terminal end and goes straight to the yard to be rerouted back into the City. In short, I don’t have much time to be as detailed about my observations as I can be (or have been) in other posts.

I have dubbed the 5:00PM the Orient Express. In other train cars and at other times, I am an infrequent  commuter of Indian Subcontinent origins. This train reverses that trend. About 60% of the commuters in this car are from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Nepal, and even Myanmar and the Philippines. As this isn’t a Quiet Car, there is a cacophony of Telugu, Tamil, Mandarin, Viet, Korean, Urdu, Arabic, and Tagalog interspersed with the mix of Minnesotan-Swedish English drawl, mixed with fourth – generation south side Chicago Irish trill, and highlighted by some southern twang (Georgia?, Texas?, Mississippi?). Anybody “afraid” of urban life can find a place of belonging just by following the sounds of free speech.

All that exposition has put me at the Pretty People train stop. In gotta go. Present for your contemplation are (in no particular order), four orcs from Mordor, a retired Daley-machine precinct captain, a Desi version of Mos Def, Larry David, and Alfred Pennyworth. All are heavily armed.

Happy Monday. De La Soul is not dead.

Safe travels.

Monday, August 25, 2014 – Homeward Bound – trainspottingChicago

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Good afternoon.

I’m on the 3:58PM out of the City. I’m in the front car. I missed the old neighborhood enough that I came back to it. All my old friends are here.

For example, Clive Owen is seated two seats over. His temples have grayed since I saw him last, but he looks as handsome as ever. He is, as usual, fixated upon his iCrackerBot, which he is tethered using the proscribed earbuds provided by the manufacturer, as opposed to a high end, mini-subwoofer augmented, air traffic controller certified set of noise isolating headphones. Pfft. He’s such a Philistine! How can he expect to have an all inclusive, three dimensional, polyphonic immersive experience with a simple set of rural Chinese made plastic ear wax removers? Rube.

Benched War Correspondent is back. He’s been at the office e since 4:00AM, going over the influx of police brutality claims, both video-recorded and witness-corroborated, in the hopes of understanding the cultural reasons for this surge of excessive enforcement procedures. He’s looking out the window, contemplatively. Is it possible, in the name of “infotainment”, the Fourth Estate has contributed to the elevated fear of non-white folk?Is the acceptance of, and open publication of, rhetoric reminiscent of Jim Crow? Is he wondering about the effects of publishing leading questions instead of real facts?

(See what I did there?)

Dr. Jeckyl-Hyde is here. I love this man. He is my muse. I used to be in an academic/sociological, Louis Leakey like observer of our Homo sapien polysyllabus friend, but now I have embraced his eccentricities from afar. I understand how he uses books and printed material to keep him from “riding the window ” into silent , self satisfying exposition. I feel that this blog is a digital manifestation of what Dr. Jeckyl-Hyde demonstrates on a daily basis. When he is busy, or engaged in reading, or has a date (yes, I’ve seen that!), he comes of as an affable, likable, engaging conversationalist. When alone, with nothing to engage his mind, he turns inward, staring out the train window as less of a snapshot of a moving landscape, but a blurry dysfunctional mirror by which to speak to the only reasonable person he trusts, to figure out the chaos of the world he experiences or perceives.

My hero.

Also here are a bald John Lithgow, Spike Lee, Adam Savage, Dr. Billy Geer, and Carl Sagan. All are armed.

Dr. Who for me at 9:30PM tonight. Movie theater. No date! Somebody has to watch the companions and keep my TARDIS from disappearing, while I check out the latest iteration of the Doctor.

Happy Monday. Safe travels.

Monday, August 25, 2014 – Inbound – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning.

On the 7:58AM into the City. A crowded train. I was late today because I forgot to account for new construction along the usual route to the station. Twenty five minutes in traffic to go five miles.
I will be taking an alternate route tomorrow.

On the way to the station, I noticed a bus stalled on the side of the road. It was a local bus that takes commuters to the train station. There was no way I was going to catch the train I wanted, so I pulled over behind the stalled bus, opened the door and yelled “Hey! I can fit six people! I’m going to the station!” Three Desi IT professionals sat uncomfortably in the couch seat in back. A pregnant Samoan or Filipino woman and a heaver set Desi man sat in the two bucket seats. A middle aged woman who reminds me of a redheaded Sally Kellerman with short hair sat next to me in the front passenger seat. They were very nice. Not very funny though.

Evidently, people have forgotten how to engage in idle chitchat. We have become so busy and so wrapped up in our electronic lives that we have lost the skill of personal interaction.

The Desi IT guys were the most engaging, immediately thinking I was one of them, which I guess I am. The pregnant woman was the most engaging, in part because she felt safer in the air conditioned van versus the humid and hot sidewalk waiting for the bus. I got a more professional vibe from Sally Kellerman. She was cordial, but also wondering if she should tip me for my trouble. She didn’t tip me. But she did smile at me when I sat down in the jump seat of the front quiet car, as she is sitting two seats over. That was nice.

Its SRO here in the front Quiet Car. A gentleman who looks like Akira Kurosawa is watching a movie while standing up, using his iNotepad. The young, Jessica Chastain looking  woman behind him glanced over at his screen. Showing no sign of revulsion, I presume Kurosawa-san is watching something tame. Had he been on the Kyoto-Tokyo Express, Ms. Chastain’s reaction may have been quite different.

There are two men, one who looks like Marlin Perkins of the Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom. The other looks like Richard Kind, but with reddish-dark orange hair. Both are chattering away, albeit quietly but audibly, as thy are looking straight at the blue Quiet Car sign. The profile face in the Quiet Car graphic is white! At least acknowledge that you are being asked to control yourself! For these to big white guys, the rules don’t apply. Nobody is telling them to shut up.

Well, that’s it for now. Also here are Anil Kapoor, Any Sang Su Chi, Jon Hamm, and Judy Baar Topinka. All are armed.

Happy Monday. Safe travels.

Monday, August 25, 2014 – Inbound – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning.

On the 7:58AM into the City. A crowded train. I was late today because I forgot to account for new construction along the usual route to the station. Twenty five minutes in traffic to go five miles.
I will be taking an alternate route tomorrow.

On the way to the station, I noticed a bus stalled on the side of the road. It was a local bus that takes commuters to the train station. There was no way I was going to catch the train I wanted, so I pulled over behind the stalled bus, opened the door and yelled “Hey! I can fit six people! I’m going to the station!” Three Desi IT professionals sat uncomfortably in the couch seat in back. A pregnant Samoan or Filipino woman and a heaver set Desi man sat in the two bucket seats. A middle aged woman who reminds me of a redheaded Sally Kellerman with short hair sat next to me in the front passenger seat. They were very nice. Not very funny though.

Evidently, people have forgotten how to engage in idle chitchat. We have become so busy and so wrapped up in our electronic lives that we have lost the skill of personal interaction.

The Desi IT guys were the most engaging, immediately thinking I was one of them, which I guess I am. The pregnant woman was the most engaging, in part because she felt safer in the air conditioned van versus the humid and hot sidewalk waiting for the bus. I got a more professional vibe from Sally Kellerman. She was cordial, but also wondering if she should tip me for my trouble. She didn’t tip me. But she did smile at me when I sat down in the jump seat of the front quiet car, as she is sitting two seats over. That was nice.

Its SRO here in the front Quiet Car. A gentleman who looks like Akira Kurosawa is watching a movie while standing up, using his iNotepad. The young, Jessica Chastain looking  woman behind him glanced over at his screen. Showing no sign of revulsion, I presume Kurosawa-san is watching something tame. Had he been on the Kyoto-Tokyo Express, Ms. Chastain’s reaction may have been quite different.

There are two men, one who looks like Marlin Perkins of the Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom. The other looks like Richard Kind, but with reddish-dark orange hair. Both are chattering away, albeit quietly but audibly, as thy are looking straight at the blue Quiet Car sign. The profile face in the Quiet Car graphic is white! At least acknowledge that you are being asked to control yourself! For these to big white guys, the rules don’t apply. Nobody is telling them to shut up.

Well, that’s it for now. Also here are Anil Kapoor, Any Sang Su Chi, Jon Hamm, and Judy Baar Topinka. All are armed.

Happy Monday. Safe travels.

Friday, August 22, 2014 – Homeward Bound – trainspottingChicago

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Good afternoon.

On the discombobulating 3:55PM out of the City. I’m in the historic first car, in the jump seat so that I can see everything. My back is to the diesel engine pulling the thirteen car express away from the City and out to the suburbs.

Discombobulating because it’s been awhile since I’ve seen my absolutely favorite co-commuter, Dr. Jeckyl-Hyde. The Joe Torre look alike is looking fantastic. He just sat down and is reading a pamphlet or newsletter.

A bit of history for the three newcomers to this blog. Dr. Jeckyl-Hyde is a late-fifties or early-sixties aged man who has the strange habit of talking to himself out loud, but silently. Oddly enough, the people around him never seem to notice or acknowledge this singular, public behavior. We’ll come back to J-H in a bit. The train is still at the station. We have another five or so minutes before we leave.

Benched War Correspondent is here. Again, the fellow looks like an amalgam of Tom Brokaw, Stone Phillips, and Anderson Cooper. He looks like he’s much more comfortable in khakis and riding the roof of an interregional train in India or South Africa than as a commuter in the Midwest.

After the death of James Foley, he is not skittish, but antsy to get back out and report on ISIS, the Bashir Al Assad government in Syria, or even tension in Nigeria over Ebola. He looks at his cell phone, thinking, “I should be in Ferguson, or L.A., or looking for the missing girls in Nigeria, or somewhere, anywhere but here.”  BWC looks out the window with sadness and frustration. I half hear him humming “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” as the train pulls out of the station.

Oh. Speaking of being somewhere else, the movement of the train has Jeckyl-Hyde kicking into full debate mode. He is looking out the window and whispering about something. His center-right, or RINO voice, has started with a question to his far right Tea Partied mind about the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO, just Northwest of St. Louis. He is trying to explain how the actions of one police officer have opened up a local problem, a problem that is an allegory to the ongoing racial tensions across the country.

The tea started boiling back in J-H, who is getting more animated at his reflection in the window. (Actually, it’s pretty bright outside, so whatever he sees are shadows of the commuters across the aisle reflected in the window.) His far right voice is equally frustrated at the residents of Ferguson. Why gather? Why riot? Why destroy property? He immediately understands that the officer used excessive force. Far right even understands how poorly local and state government has handled the aftermath, at least as presented in all the media outlets (the liberal left and the fair-and-balanced shops).

Why can’t all folk just follow the rules?

He fell silent – or at least stop being animated. I think because he just realized something. He realized that the shooting some seven days ago of Michael Brown was an example of government using excessive force over an unarmed citizen. This is, of course, the very same argument that the NRA uses in defending the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. If government takes away guns, then we citizens can’t defend ourselves agents an oppressive government. Given that logic, why haven’t the NRA advocated for the citizens of Ferguson, who are protesting peacefully, to instead take up arms against an oppressive government entity like the Ferguson Police, as the Second Amendment and the Founding Fathers intended?

“To secure these [inalienable] rights [to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed… Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” –Thomas Jefferson: Declaration of Independence, 1776.

He is staring out the window, unmoving, silent, contemplating how he has quoted Jefferson, the Deceleration of Independence, and key bits of the Constitution, but only in the abstract and in the safety of his own reasoning. When legally and logically applying these “unalienable rights” to an actual event and the aftermath, it’s amazing that the USA hasn’t had a more violent history of government regiem change.  He closes his eyes, and shivers.

Also here are R Kelly, Slats Grobnick, an Accardo hitman, Mary Louise Parker, and H.R. Haldeman. All are armed.

Happy Friday. Safe travels.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning.

On the bright and cheery 7:30AM into the City. I started typing this post a little late. I was watching John Oliver’s segment about Ferguson, MO from his show Last Week Standing on my iCrackerBot. Illuminating.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Ferguson, MO …: http://youtu.be/KUdHIatS36A

Denise Crosby is here. The Star Trek: The Next Generation alumna   has let herself go. The one sitting before me is more than a few replicators past a healthy weight. The sedentary security chief is listening to music or watching a video on her own iCrackerBot. She has hung her vinyl coated, fashionably retro white and black striped purse on the fold away coat hook next to the top of the window well. She smiles with a twinkle escaping her CHiPs sunglasses as she watches John Oliver’s segment about Ferguson, MO.

Also here is a very buffed Fred Armisen of SNL and Portlandia fame. Our bald-cut fellow is in a tailored gray suit, white starched shirt and silver power tie. He has no attaché case. He’s on his iCrackerBot, listening to voice mails.

His shoes need shining. He is a tall fellow – I’m guessing 5′-11″ or so – who is a bit of a slob. His posture is horrible as he slouches in the jump seat, periodically propping his unshined shoes on the unoccupied seat. He has a bit of a gut, which accentuates his lazy demeanor despite the sharp clothes. He’s drinking a yellowish liquid out of a plastic water bottle – a screw top bottle, not a thermos style bottle. I first thought he was holding a urine sample for a drug test until he started chugging from it. Hmph.

Also here are Mike Singletary, Jeff Bezos, George Takei, and Michael Brown’s aunt. All are armed.

Happy Wednesday. Safe travels.