Monday, July 20, 2009

Where the Jobs Are

Well, they're not in Chicago (No. 44) or NYC (No. 42), according to this list. Even worse is that Chicago and New York aren't all that much better than (gasp!) Detroit (No. 50), for people looking for work.

Good news though, if I ever move to any of the other cities I'd ever considering moving to -- San Francisco (No. 12), Seattle (No. 6), Boston (No. 9) and DC (No. 1 -- you know, in case I wind up on the staff of a U.S. Senator someday).

Geez, even Pittsburgh and Cleveland have better job prospects than Chicago. Then again, you'd have to LIVE in Pittsburgh or Cleveland, and compared to Chicago, places like SF and Boston are just as if not significantly more, expensive to live in.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Livin' the Highlight!

I finally did it. I finally, after months of window shopping and careful comparisons and weighing the pros and cons of various options, including staying with my current provider, jumping to another, buying online versus in a brick and mortar store, I finally, this weekend, pulled the trigger on the purchase of a new cell phone.

I went with the Samsung Highlight, from T-Mobile. I had almost decided, as recently as a few weeks ago, to go with AT&T because they had all the cool phones and buying one online, from amazon or one of those places that only sell cell phones, would cost me anywhere from 1 cent to at the very most $49 depending on the model of phone, and to me every dollar counts these days. My employer also has been pushing their discount deals with AT&T -- 10 percent on your monthly bill and 'select' hardware -- but I found out the same sort of deal was available with T-Mobile. The biggest factor in my decision, though, was even though I was not thrilled at the fact that my prize for being a loyal T-Mobile customer in good standing for more than two years was a 'discount' of well, really nothing from anyone who's walk in off the street -- actually, the phone cost about $150 more than it would for someone who would come in from another cellular provider -- and I could get a better phone from AT&T for nothing if I switched companies, was the reliability factor.

My previous T-Mobile phone wasn't always great with the reception, and I'm guessing this one will have its faults, as well, but I pretty much knew where the weak spots were, such as near the elevators in the Apparel Center and in my gym at Halsted and Belmont, but not outside of it. AT&T, though, from my research (and believe me, I did a HELLUVA lot of research) had weak coverage just about everywhere in and around Chicago. Alot of it comes from people with iphones, but I read plenty of forum posts, Yelp posts, etc., from people with AT&T as their cellular provider who have awful service in Chicago. Unfortunately, people in other parts of the country who have AT&T don't report anything near the problems people in Chicago have. And I decided to buy a phone from a physical store instead of online, because it seemed that it would be easier to resolve any problems with the phone if you get it from an authorized store where you can actually take the phone to and show to someone, instead of e-mailing a customer service rep in never never land. And, also, I appreciated that I could go into an actual store and try out the phones I have read about and seen online, and you know, I don't want the bricks-and-mortar stores to go out of business, so I thought I should give them my business as a form of thanks.

In spite of the reception issues in Chicago, I was still nearly going to buy an AT&T phone, because I didn't like the idea of paying $160 or more for a new T-Mobile phone, but after talking to people in a couple AT&T stores, I realized that those $0.01 phones only are sold online. While the AT&T phones were cheaper than comparable T-Mobile phones, the ones I was interested in were still in the $100 to $150 range. I could see paying nothing or close to nothing for a phone that would have spotty service, but for $150? Why? That's just stupid.

I found, by accident really, a new T-Mobile store at Clark and Diversey, and I stopped in there earlier this week and the manager talked to me, explained all the costs to me, told me I could spread the $170 cost of a phone over a few months and let me just play with the phones I was interested in. I went back there today, after driving my mom around to do her grocery shopping and that, and having worked last night I was not completely alert, but I thought I would drop in there this afternoon just to play around with the phone a bit more and ask them about an employer discount (10 percent -- whoopee) and the gal who waited on me was so nice and not only showed me the features on the phone but told me how to work them then told me to try my hand at it all, which I thought was strange but strange in a good way.

So I though, as long as I was planning on very likely buying this phone later this week anyway, why not buy it right now? So I told the gal to wrap it up and activate me on the new phone, as I slipped out of the store a couple times to feed my GoddamnedDaley parking meter machine. She moved my SIM card, which has all my two dozen or so contacts onto the new phone, and told me while the ringtones I had on my old phone were now history, since this phone has an mp3 player, I can just drag mp3 files onto it when it's hooked up to my computer, so I can make my own ringtones and I don't have to buy any anymore. How cool is that? I can't wait to drop "Waiting by the Telephone" onto it to be my first new ringtone.

I guess I'll have more free time now, since my phone search was an obsession of my the past few months. I spent hours every week reading reviews, window shopping, hanging out at cell phone blogs to get an idea of what was coming down the pipe and when -- geez, the comments in those blogs all seem as though they're written by 12-year-olds and complete idiots -- so now I can stop checking into those sites on a regular basis (well, with the possible exception of the 'samsung highlight' blog and 'guys with iphones,' you know, uh, just to check on technical issues and updates and such).

I'm looking forward to having a camera that is more than 1 megapixel, and not having to pound the number pad to type out text messages. And hey, my orange/red (officially its called 'fire') highlight, has a neat rubbery sort of backing and is kinda cool-looking. I need more people to call/text though.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Prejudice Has No Place in the United States of America"

At the very least, he is not shying away from talking about it with crowds that may or may not be receptive to his message. He deserves some recognition for this. Now we're all just waiting for the follow-through.

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The 'Read' Line

I like to watch. You. When you're on the train on your way to work, when you're on the bus going home, when you're going shopping, etc., I just like to watch.

Don't get too creeped out, though, there's nothing too perverse going on. It just seems that no matter how many magazines I've packed, no matter what TV show (like Rachel Maddow or the Anderson Cooper podcast) is on my ipod for me to watch or what book I may be carrying in my hands, when I am on public transportation I can't help but look around and look at people and try to imagine where they are going, where they've come from, what's up with them, etc. This isn't much fun during rush hour, because people generally are going to and from work, which doesn't interest me at all. So, no matter what time of day it is, I'll take a look at what people are reading and go "hmmm."

I don't know what any of this would mean, but here on this blog I'll occasionally note what I've seen -- who the reader is, what form of public transportation they were spied on, what they were reading of course, and any other impressions I had of them. Unless otherwise noted, these are all observed on the Chicago Transit Authority trains and buses. I'm not going to judge (I save that for people who read the piece of poop 'Red Eye' commuter rag), just observe. Just take it for what it's worth, which is not much, probably.

So here's the first edition, compiled from a few days' observations.

CTA Brown Line, Tuesday 1:30 p.m., heading downtown:

*White male, mid-30s to 40-ish, beard and glasses, red and white checkered short sleeve dress shirt, khaki shorts, Nike running shoes with running socks. Reading: 'Confederacy of Dunces.'

*White male, late 20s, jeans and short sleeve T-shirt, black canvas Chuck Taylors, long-ish sideburns, with a somewhat grown-out faux hawk. Reading: 'In Cold Blood.'

CTA Red Line, Wednesday, 7:30 a.m., heading downtown:

* White female, 30 to 40, short, light brown hair, man's dress shirt with purple and yellow vertical stripes, black slacks, leather jacket, Asics running shoes. Reading: 'Valley of the Dolls.'

Friday, July 10, 2009

Buying Records Cheers Me Up

Or CDs. Or downloaded albums with digital booklets.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hypocrisy Seems to be the Hardest Word

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R - Illinois) and Jean Schmidt (R - Ohio) both oppose gay marriage and would vote to re-write the United States Constitution so that they could define marriage as between a man and a woman. But that's not all there is to hate about these regressives. In 2007, both voted against a measure that would prevent job discrimination based on sexual orientation. Shimkus, of downstate Collinsville, Ill., also voted in 1999 to ban adoptions by same-sex couples in the District of Columbia.

So, where would you expect these mouth-breathing haters to hold a fundraiser? A Toby Keith concert? A NASCAR event? A dinner party with Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly? Nah, they're going to host fundraisers at the Elton John/Billy Joel concert at the Washington Nationals baseball park on July 11.

Yep, these two gay-hating mopes are going to host fundraisers at big gay Elton John's concert! And, and ... it's not the first time Shimkus has done so (hmmm...) according to the Kentucky democrat, via the Party Time blog [it's at -- this page on Safari won't let me link], he also hosted a fundie fundraiser at an Elton John show in 2005! A Shimkus spoeksman said the fundriaser doesn't mean the Congressman approves of the singer's "politics" and that Shimmy wouldn't actually be at the show this month, just as he did not attend the 2005 show. Rep. Schmidt's flack only agreed to reply to Party Time via e-mail and as of Monday afternoon no response was received.

Hypocrites. F-in' hypocrites. But then again that's not so surprising when it comes to right wing hatred, I mean the pope preaches aainst gays from the fabu-freakin' Vatican, a gay temple if ever there was one...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What's the Story?

These two headlines were cheek-to-cheek on the Sun-TImes Web site this weekend.

Several gun and knife arrests reported at Taste of Chicago
July 4, 2009


Police say Taste peaceful, credit heavier presence
July 4, 2009
(no byline)

So what is it? Is this year's Taste of Chicago a madhouse of thugs and gangbangers and people bringing guns and knives into the crowded streets, or is it a lovely weekend where attendees walk around with parasols, sipping lemonade, tipping their caps at fellow tourists and Chicagoans and those leaving on public transportation give up their seats to ladies and the elderly? Hmmm?

Unfortunately the latter, 'peaceful' story relies on the word of the police and city officials, who would say "everything is fine here," even if downtown was burning amid armed rioting.

Two things here -- one; if your mother (or the city) says the Taste of Chicago is safe and peaceful, CHECK IT OUT, and two; the perceived safety many have of of this city, even downtown, is an illusion.

Friday, July 3, 2009

'Royko Was a Prick'

I don't quite understand the fascination and reverence that many people of Chicago, whether they are journalists, would-be journalists, or media junkies, have for Mike Royko. Royko is the legendary Chicago newspaper columnist who got his real start in Chicago reporting at the City News Bureau of Chicago, then worked for the Daily News, Sun-Times and Tribune, writing some 7,000 columns over a 30-year career, exposing government corruption, taking on City Hall, and writing about other passions, such as the Chicago Cubs and 16-inch softball. His book, "Boss," about Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago, is a classic, and showed the mayor as corrupt and racist, and I treated that book as a bible of sorts when i was in high school and college. He's also famous for drinking at the also legendary Billy Goat Tavern.

People speak of Royko as a Catholic would speak of the pope or President Kennedy, as some speak of Sinatra, as basketball fans speak of Michael Jordan, as boxing fans speak of Muhammad Ali -- he was the greatest, there will never be another like him, you all could learn a thing or two by watching him, etc. People name their dogs after Royko. When some get pissed off at a present day newspaper reporter or columnist, they sometimes resort to saying things like (I paraphrase), "Royko was the last great reporter in this town, the rest of you suck." People still are drawn to the Billy Goat, as they were when he was alive, because they want to be in the place where he spent so many thousands of hours drinking, getting into scuffles and hitting on other guys' wives and girlfriends.

He may have been a great newspaperman, but by some accounts, the guy was a first-class prick. A year or two ago, when I heard a radio interview with Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg, who has had his own obstacles to deal with in his personal life (which you can read about in his book, "Drunkard"), in which he was asked about Royko, someone whom he spent some bar time with at the Goat, and Steinberg stated, "Royko was a prick." And by all accounts, Royko was an unpleasant person to encounter. (Maybe someone who knew him will disagree, that's fine. I never met him and can't say I regret that.)

Then, while bouncing around on the Internet today, I found that Jerry Pritikin, aka "The Bleacher Preacher," has a blog (he doesn't update often, but it is a blog nonetheless). Pritikin, now in his 70s, is a lifelong Cubs fan, a photographer by trade, and is also gay. In a piece he wrote (with photos which you should take a look at) for the Beachwood Reporter in 2008, Pritikin wrote of something he saw one summer day in the 1970s on Chicago's North Side lakefront (then and now, a place where gays liked to gather).

Pritikin saw a handful of police cars and bunch of cops "raid" the beach all because a young blond man in a Speedo was selling sandwiches on the beach, without a license to do so. Yeah, selling sandwiches without a license got nine cops to respond to the beach that day and arrest the guy.

Pritikin, who was visiting from San Francisco (he's lived in SF and Chicago) at the time, found a pay phone nearby and called the Daily News, where Royko was working at the time, and asked to speak to Royko, "who I had heard was always willing to go to bat for the little guy.

"I was connected to him and he listened my story and when I was finished Mike Royko said to me loud and clear:

'They should arrest all the faggots!'

And then he hung up."

So, you know, forgive me for not genuflecting at the altar of Royko the next time he is brought up in conversation or I remind you of how much of a prick this guy must have been when you ask me if I want to be like Royko or you assume that I ask St. Royko for journalistic guidance every day when I leave for work.