Friday, February 15, 2013

The Passion of St. Valentine

As my wife and I drove toward Wicker Park last night to celebrate our ninth Valentine's Day, we reminisced on the ways we've celebrated over the last near decade. The conclusion we came to was that we suck at Valentine's Day. Including the most recent one, we could only come up with four Valentines of note, and those were fairly unexciting. One included an international box of moldy rose petals, another a movie night.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Stories from the Street - Chicago Winters

This episode is a collection of interactions with Chicago’s homeless population during the volatile winter weather. The conversations were surprising, to say the least.
Thanks for lending your ear, your thoughts, and your support.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Lost and Found - Heartache, Hope, and a Little Dog

When my daughter was born, I darkly mused that that our dog, Ellie, would be the thing that would teach my daughter about death. The pup recently turned four and the baby three months, so assuming that Ellie lived an average life, Lucy should be well into grade school before we were faced with saying goodbye to our dog.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Stories from the Street - Chicago Homeless Audio Project

For the past several weeks, I've been talking to some of the homeless people I pass on the Chicago streets  as I drive to and from work. The stories I've heard are brief and fascinating and offer insight into a much different world than most who reading these essays know. The project is still rather amorphous, so it will be interesting to see how the next few episodes evolve, depending on who I speak to and the stories I hear.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Occupy Chicago - One Year Later

A few weeks ago I attended the Occupy Chicago General Assembly in an attempt to understand what the organization had been doing over the last year. The Occupy Movement, started as "Occupy Wall Street" in New York City, fell out of the mainstream spotlight as the winter weather and presidential politics overwhelmed the protestations of "the 99%" against the control of the elite. I joined some friends at one of the events that Occupy Chicago held last fall in Grant Park, and remembered thinking that this movement would last as long as it had the ability to bring large crowds to conspicuous locations in Chicago, Oakland, Zuccotti Park, and beyond. But I doubted its ability to survive the winter.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

One Vote, Two Vote, Red Vote, Blue Vote

Over the last few months, the vilification of local, state, and national candidates for political office has trickled down from the hallowed halls of Washington D.C., through our media outlets, and into our social media pores. Friends, countrymen, posting half-truths and headlines about candidates and political parties, all to the chagrin of the majority of their friends. The vitriol overwhelms friendships, divides families, and befuddles our prior conceptions of who our friends really are.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Google Maps our Frontiers, Ruins it For the Rest of Us

Google is now attempting to take their maps and street view innovations a step further by mapping not only our byways and avenues, but now giving us a ground level view of the great outdoors. They've started with the Grand Canyon, and have plans for many other national and global treasures. At first, this might seem an awesome way to show the online world some of our natural beauty, but the implications of this virtual pioneering on the physical experience are troubling.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

A friend and I were out for coffee at a diner a few weeks ago when the conversation fell upon the concept of subjective evil, or the gray area surrounding morality. A macabre topic for eggs and bacon, no doubt, and my friend noted that the rise of the anti-hero in films and media has been growing in popularity in recent years. The protagonist, in the form of a retired gunslinger or introverted curmudgeon, is forced into the chaotic fray of by some violent circumstance, only to save the world and become a better functioning member of society. This basic plot construct can be found in action flicks, epic fantasy films, and every single Nicholas Cage feature.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Don't know much about Cognitive Reasoning

Early in life, most American students learn the basic principles of Algebra and scientific method. Associative properties, testing hypotheses, and isolating variables are general concepts with which most eighth grade educated students are familiar. The process of proving theories and understanding causal relationships is drilled into us as we watch soy beans in paper cups and apply construction paper to tri-fold cardboard display boards throughout our adolescent lives.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Food Trucks, False Facts, & Fair Play

This week, the Chicago City Council passed new regulations for the hundreds of food trucks that shuttle about serving tasty offerings to busy workers and curious passerbys. The bureaucracy of the city, along with many of the major media outlets, is claiming this to be a step forward for the city, bolstering the city's position as a progressive supporter of innovative entrepreneurs. I had the opportunity to speak with several food truck owners this week, who painted a much more grim picture of the landscape.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Transparent Ethnicity

White is not an ethnicity.

My whiteness is a void of cultural identity. Even when I meet other Caucasian individuals, they are often first or second generation Polish or Serbian immigrants. I love this diversity and I am fascinated by the stories these people carry, but when contrasted against my own fallow immigration narrative, these characters are so much more alive and visceral, so much more interesting than my farm boy upbringing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Inertia of Creativity

It has been way too long since I have written anything. It seems that, over the last month, my life has gotten extremely busy and consumed much of the time I normally dedicate to this site. The result has been a great deal of vain ambition, early morning alarm clocks, and blank pages. No unique perspectives, no insights into the rambling thoughts of a diversified dilettante. It seems that the further away my calendar got from my last post, the more difficult it became to conjure the energy or the inspiration to pen another essay. Which brings us to today, three weeks from the date of my last essay.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Loving - Wedded Bliss

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being present at the wedding of two very good friends. The ceremony, though not held in some prescribed hallowed hall with preordained sanctity, was one of the most beautiful spiritual moments I have seen in quite a while.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Final Stretch

So Annie and I keep arguing over whether we are in the final trimester of our pregnancy or not. I say that simple math prevails, counting boldly on thumb and two fingers,

"June 20th to July 20th. July 20th to August 20th. August 20th to September 20th. That is three months. TRImester!" Annie rebuts with some technical explanation of weeks to term and an algorithm that calculates from last menstruation to due date. I sigh and concede that the professionals who devised these calculations are much more experienced at this than I.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Illustrated Mind

Upon hearing of the passing of Ray Bradbury, I was immediately transported back to my youth, reading of the dystopian anti-literary world of Guy Montag and the Sultry September evenings lounging with a mysterious tattooed man. As I spent my day inundated with emails and clients requests, my mind wandered back to Bradbury - his wonderful ice cream suit and his dreams of marionettes and virtual realities. By the time I left the office, headed for home, I had convinced myself that I owed it to the author to revisit some of his work that had left such an impact on me in my youth.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Innovation Stagnation - Set Knowledge Free

Trade secrets. Proprietary knowledge. Insider information.

Corporate America is notoriously tight fisted with their secret sauces. A company figures out some competitive advantage within the production of their widgets, then they horde that knowledge, unwilling to let anyone outside their W2's know about that bit of knowledge that sets them apart.

It makes sense, right? Protect what makes you money. Hire the top talent, who will hopefully keep your company on top, attempting to keep things fresh with the same intellectual ingredients.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Hired Man - Tales of an Unwitting Driver

As I have mentioned in previous essays, my college years were filled with a variety of odd jobs that provided a substantial financial cushion during a very frugal period of my life. Amid yard work and house-cleaning, childcare and livestock medicating, one job dwarfs all others in longevity and peculiarity. This is the story of my time with LMG.

Please note that all accounts in this story are true. Many names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Social Enterprise - Blurring the Lines of Business

Do you ever stop and try to remember what life was like before we were armed with phones and tablets, connected with Facebook and Twitter? I often think about how, only a decade ago, our dependence upon social media and technology was much different. The way we interacted, our behavior, and our thought processes were so much more independent. But with the ability to instantly connect, share, and browse, our way of life is intrinsically different.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

For America!

My college roommates had a penchant for trash posed as art, pranks shrouded in peculiarity and destruction masquerading as patriotism. Pizza boxes and discarded homework assignments were glued to the ceiling. We sang "You're a Grand Ol' Flag" while dancing around in our underwear. Our neighbors lawn furniture found it's way onto their roof on more than one occasion. For the men of The Music House, this was what college was meant to be.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Life Well Lived

Michael "Flathead" Blanchard
1944 - 2012

Michael "Flathead" Blanchard
A Celebration of the life of Michael "Flathead" Blanchard will be held on April 14th, 3 pm 8160 Rosemary St, Commerce City. Weary of reading obituaries noting someone's courageous battle with death, Mike wanted it known that he died as a result of being stubborn, refusing to follow doctors' orders and raising hell for more than six decades. He enjoyed booze, guns, cars and younger women until the day he died.
Mike was born July 1944 in Colorado to Clyde and Ethel Blanchard. A community activist, he is noted for saving the Dr. Justina Ford house from demolition and defending those who could not defend themselves. He was a Republican delegate, life member of the NRA, founder and President of the Dead Cats MC. He loved music.

Mike was preceded in death by Clyde and Ethel Blanchard, survived by his beloved sons Mike and Chopper, former wife Jane Transue, brother Stephen Blanchard (Susan), Uncle Don and Aunt Cynthia Blanchard(his favorite); Uncle Dill and Aunt Dot, cousins and nephews, Baba Yaga can kiss his butt. So many of his childhood friends that weren't killed in Vietnam went on to become criminals, prostitutes and/or Democrats. He asks that you stop by and re-tell the stories he can no longer tell. As the Celebration will contain Adult material we respectfully ask that no children under 18 attend.

- The Denver Post, April 12, 2012