2014 Pride is Absolute History

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I went to Chicago’s Pride Parade yesterday, braving the loaded sidewalks, following doggedly behind a friend of mine from my building, trying not to lose sight of her red hair through the mob. I hadn’t wanted to go, really. I’ve gone many, many times, and I simply didn’t feel like it, not yesterday.

But I hadn’t seen her in a while, and she wanted to go, so I agreed. And then I watched history unfold its long and immovable limbs in front of me, and I wondered how I thought about not going.

It was the first Pride Parade since same-sex marriage became legal in Illinois.

Someone turned to me, sarcastically, a pile of years ago, and said, “So do you think men should be able marry men and women should be able to marry women?” I’d never really thought about it before that moment, the idea of same-sex marriage. It wasn’t something that would affect me, one way or another, so it hadn’t come to my consciousness through the realization of denial. But I took a second and thought about it.

“Why not?” was my response. Why not?

Equality and justice always, for me, are sacred concepts. Why should love between capable, consenting adults be the catalyst for anyone to treat another as less than? In what seemed like a post-civil-rights world (trust me, I know better now) there was this group that people could use to take out their frustrations.At whom they could wag their fingers and tell them they a wrong simply for existing.

Yesterday, I saw evidence that the world had changed. The parade had politicians, religious groups, mainstream businesses, sports teams. The first same sex couples married in the state.

How rare it is to know a momentous flash when you see it.

Want to read more on this topic? Check out this article I wrote. 

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Oh Kindle My Kindle

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So I talked my dad into getting a Kindle Paperwhite. This isn’t one of those stories about someone who’s older fearing or disliking technology: my dad’s my IT guy. If you name a gadget, he’s had it, and he’s probably fixed it, too.

No, the thing is he was reading on a tablet. And while you can read on a tablet with the free software, it’s just not the same as a Kindle. A Kindle is specifically for reading, designed for readers. The e-ink is incredibly easy to see; without back-lighting, there’s no eyestrain. The device doesn’t remind you that you have other things you should be doing. Its only job is to bring books to you, as many as you’d like, as soon as you want them.

I think I might be a little in love with my Kindle, but that’s a problem for another day.

He hadn’t been reading a lot recently, and I was convinced that a Kindle would fix the things that had gotten in his way. I was utterly right. He compares it to a magic portal, where there’s nothing between you and the story, and I think he’snailed it.

It’s incredible, that switch that happens in the brain without even knowing it was flipped. One day you prefer paper books. The next, you can’t read them, and they have to be electronic.

And now I want to upgrade my old, perfectly functional Kindle for a Paperwhite. Oh, technology.

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No Noise is Good Noise

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There’s been construction on my building for months now as they’re working on the facade. After the initial few weeks, the noise lessened, with the occasional echo of a hammer hitting concrete or the brief sound of a drill, which would quickly stop.

Well, not so much today. I think they’ve gotten to the point of shaping the concrete, of smoothing it to make it all blend in. The result is a dull, low whine, not unlike a morose dog so resigned to his position that he’s now only whining to register his resentment.

In other words, it’s a tad bit distracting.

I’ve gotten good at tuning out the other noises, the clinking and the rumbling and the like, but for some reason, this sound is one that lingers. It makes me want to give the imaginary dog a pat and a treat and tell him it will all be OK.

It isn’t, you can imagine, the best thing in the world for writing, being fixated on the complaints of a non-existent dog. But then again, I am in a place where, it seems, any distraction will do. Just look at me and Twitter.

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Twitter Gets its Beak in Me

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So I’ve been so wrapped up playing with Twitter that I nearly forgot I had other things to do. Like writing this blog post. Oops.

But I’m here now, and the fingers are going, so that has to count for something, right?

Right?

Maybe. I think I’ve gone past the Twitter Terrors into the Tweeting Tentatives, where you start trying things out, seeing what happens when you push the button. So far, no major disasters, but the day is still early.

We’ll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I can see how something that is supposed to supplement and enhance your work could slowly creep, with a quick check here and another there, until it is taking over your entire day. That’s the thing with technology.

The more you embrace it, the more it embraces you.

And yet I wouldn’t go back to an era before technology. I don’t even want to go back to an era before my most recent smartphone. I learned I can pretty easily tweet from it.

Oh dear. Wish me luck, or come dig me out of my feed. Whichever.

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I’m Sure Every Twitter Pun is Taken

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Well, two years after signing up for Twitter, I’ve decided to try using it. I’m speeding toward the heady heights of double-digit followers. These are exciting times.

I can’t really tell you what my Twitter hesitation has been. It just seems like something other people do, something that’s happening out there. Well, now it’s here. I’m pretty sure I’m doing it wrong.

It’s funny how awkward new things feel at first. It’s a lot like trying to squeeze yourself into a zigzag box: all of the corners are in inconvenient places for your bendy-parts. And then you realize you’re looking at it wrong, you only have to turn the other way, and voilà!

Or, at least, I hope so.

I’m not afraid of new technology, but I do hate the phase when it’s cumbersome and unyielding. Maybe I don’t like not knowing how to do something right away. Maybe I’m not a fan of the learning curve. I want to be learned, darn it.

Anyway, feel free to point and laugh. Oh, and follow me on Twitter.

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Technology is Listening

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Well, by now you probably know I love living in the future. I can’t seem to read a book made out of paper anymore, I’m totally obsessed with electronic books. And now I’m talking to my gadgets.

And they’re listening.

Like many things, it started as a mistake. I was playing golf on my Xbox, and I accidentally changed the club with something I said (it was not, by the way, “Change club.”). I found the experience unnerving, knowing that my Xbox was listening to me.

Then I got a new phone that has voice commands. What the heck, I thought, I’ll try it. So I did.

And it worked. Well, sort of. It understands some things, but not others. I tried to get it to find an Ethiopian restaurant recently, and it thought I wanted a COPD restaurant. Whatever that might be. Maybe they don’t smoke meats there or something.

Back to the Xbox. I found out I could watch Amazon Prime videos through the Xbox, which was exciting, since I had to stream through the computer previously. So I started watching, and suddenly pressing a button seemed far too burdensome. So, lazing back on the couch like some kind of royalty, I commanded my Xbox to open Amazon Instant Video. And it listened.

Sometimes it listens too well, like when I’m not actually talking to it. It can be a tad bit on the nosy side. But it amazes me that it works.

As long as it doesn’t start talking back.

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H.G. Wells and the 21st Century

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In my experiment of bringing back regular reading, I started H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, which I found in an awesome electronic collection of 25 of his novels for just $1.99. (Here it is if you’re interested: The Collected Novels of H.G. Wells: 25 Books in One Volume (Unexpurgated Edition) (Halcyon Classics)).

Think about that. 25 novels and no broken wrists from trying to hold the volume. My love affair with ebooks continues. And I’d already purchased it, was out somewhere and thought, “I’d like to be reading,” and then I was. It’s magical.

Anyway, I’d always wanted to read it, but it was mentioned in the context of “Orphan Black,” and I figured now was as good a time as any. What struck me in the little bit I’ve read so far is, like Dickens, even with the stiff language, his writing immediately pulls you in.

Which got me thinking. Word choice is important, of course, because you cannot convey what you mean without the right parts. But construction can override the words themselves, making the formal Victorian language propel you forward.

Poor construction can also stop you dead while reading.

It’s not only the cement and the mortar and the trowel when you’re writing. It’s the scaffolding. And if the scaffolding collapses, so does the story.

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