Category Archives: Month 20 – May 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 – Inbound – trainspottingChicago


Good morning.

On the 7:55AM into the City.

I am running late. I needed the sleep. My mother in law needed some help. Yesterday, she boarded a train to see family in Ann Arbor, MI. The train was scheduled (and left) Union Station at exactly 7:00AM. It was raining yesterday. I couldn’t guarantee making her boarding call if I drove into the City. So instead, we took the very earliest express on the schedule. This means that I had to be up at 4:30AM to look respectable for the day. I got to work an hour earlier than I usually do, but I left an hour later than I usually do. In short, I slept in today. I feel bad about it, because I don’t like to be late.

Well (yawn), enough about my somnambulism sob stories.

I am sitting in the fourth car from the front. I felt like I needed a change of venue. I also felt like I didn’t want to be part of the morning scrum. Sleep deprived crankiness, perhaps.

There is a fellow who sounds like an extra from “The Office” chatting about how he took a late train last night back from the City because he hung out with some buddies at Clay’s Crabby Cantina, a popular spot in the City. He openly says he was dragging pretty hard this morning due to the shots at the end of the night. I can’t see him or his office buddy.

There is an overall damp stench in this car. A mix of sweat, coffee, rain, colognes of various brands and remnants of shampoos. Its not… bad… necessarily. Just… awkward? Unexpected? These blog posts have been usually about what I see. Today, I thought to test my other senses.

Somebody’s specialty ringtone is a wolf-whistle. The very dark, petite woman just answered her phone and started speaking Tamil.

A disembodied voice from the upstairs deck is chattering away in Spanish with a decidedly Rosie Perez – Puerto Rican lilt and tone.

There are three people in the car wearing shirts of different styles but the same shade or hue of red.

Also here are Kristin Wiig, Angela Merkel, Rush Limbaugh, and Merv Griffin. All are armed.

Happy Wednesday. Safe travels.

May 27, 2014 – Homeward Bound – trainspottingChicago

Good afternoon.

On the 3:58 PM out of the City. Happy back to work day, everybody.

I love this train. This is where I can find the most fascinating people.

For example, Jerry Garcia is sitting in the last seat, up against the exterior bulkhead, next to the window. Every time I take this train and train car, he is there. He wears a bright orange shirt, which reminds me of a prison uniform (think “Orange is the New Black”). He is always eating deli sandwich from a national chain convenience store (the blanched ladybird or craps). He looks like he lives in that corner of the car. More about him as soon as I can make more observations before this car fills up with tall people.

Also here is a woman who looks like a vampire. Her brow is wrinkled and her face is in a permanent frown worthy of a Bill Cosby standup bit. Her long stringy hair falls messily about her head, resting along her shoulders. A birdlike version of Angelica Huston in a perpetually bad mood.

Also here are LeVar Burton with dreadlocks, Jack Black, an Amazonian, and Questlove. All are armed.

Happy Tuesday to all. Safe travels.

May 27, 2014 – Inbound – trainspottingChicago

Good morning.
On the 7:35AM into the City.

I hope your Memorial Day weekend was pleasant, reverential, and contemplative. I spent most of my time with my children and gave my wife some time to do things she’s been leaving on the back burner.

I look forward to getting back to work. I need the regularity sometimes. I’ve got deadlines that I hope to meet before Thursday so I can get down to the important task of cleaning up old files and general office management.

Well enough about my Dunder-Mifflin -esque dreams.

There are two older men – one in his mid-fifties, the other in his seventies – sitting in front of me, one seat over. They are speaking Portuguese or Catalan or some language vaguely Mediterranean. Both have ruddy, tanned completions. The older man is rather animated in his conversation. Nobody has the heart to let these two strangers in on the fact that this is the Quiet Car.

The younger man reminds me of Anthony Quinn. The elder is wearing an orange baseball cap with the badge that reads “The Answer to Life’s Problems” around the oval in block letters and “BEER” stitched in beautiful red cursive lettering in the center. The greatness of this cap is not the badge, however. The left edge of the brim of the baseball cap has a bottle opener built in. Pure genius. The elder looks like Bob Hoskins.

With a smile, I looked at the sign above me and smiled. They look up above my head and smiled back, ending their conversation.

Don Rickles is here, sharing the jump seat with me. His real name is on his badge in full view. Don is a key member of a multinational corporation. His utility belt is armed with his key card on a retractable lanyard, his leather pouch for his company issued communications device. His bag/attaché is black Dacron with the professional association with which he is a proud member. Don is imbibing the daily news on an eNewspaper with his eReader device. A bit of Uncle Fester with this fellow.

Also here are Elon Musk, Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Mouseketeer, and Tom Beringer. All are armed.

Happy Tuesday. Safe travels.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 – Homeward Bound -trainspottingChicago





I am on the poly-lingual 5:00PM train out of the City. The air is not only humid but also laced with spices and nices. This is the commuter express train out of the City favored by my people. I have named this train the “Indian Express”.

Every state in the Indian Union is represented in this car. The Turban wearing Punjabi, who looks a lot like the eponymous Punjab from “Annie” is sitting up top.

A gentlemen from Karnataka is in SRO and looks like he just came from a University Club social.  He looks like Marvin Hamlisch.

Four men are chatting in heavily accented English, about the mundane – rising mortgage principal, where to get swimming lessons, IP addressing for an intranet at the office – the usual. One is definitely Bengali, another a Tamilian, the third from Madhya Pradesh, and the fourth from Mumbai (UP).

Nobody seems to be talking about Modi! The largest democratic election in world history (by population and voter participation), where the winner doesn’t have to create coalition government agreements? That’s like Dick Cheney running for President and winning, with Mitch McConnell taking the Senate Leadership while John “Day-Glo” Boehner keeps the Speakership! Modi is HUGE!

Nobody is talking about it. The Andhra couple sitting with me in the jump seat are flirting with each other and can’t wait to get home to make babies. The older Telugu woman is on her phone with a family member or friend discussing a potluck dinner and the chicken biryani she intends to make. They are discussing catering the appetizers.

Also here are a Bouvier cousin, Mos Def, Congressman Paul Ryan, and Jack Paar. All are SRO. All are heavily armed.

Happiness to all. I’m off the map until Tuesday. Enjoy the long weekend. Commemorate when you get a minute. Safe travels.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 – Inbound – trainspottingChicago



Good morning.
I’m on the 7:20AM into the City. Lots to do today.

Today, I’m wearing my “Marketing” hat. I have many hats, both corporate and fashion by definition. I have a submittal due tomorrow, but since I will be out tomorrow in the field and Friday at my kids’ school, its gotta get done today.

Right. The pretty people from the very, very nice suburb just boarded the train. What a fascinating group! One woman, who is seated two seats away, looks like a character from a Dr. Seuss book. Her stylist thought it would be becoming to have this woman’s flowing blonde hair straightened and then arrayed like a lion’s mane about her flat face. She is a tall woman, late fifties, smoker by the look of her lips and jowls, with glasses. She’s got an Ann Meara look, but not as bright. She has made a decidedly bold fashion choice.

Martina Navratilova is here, sitting across from Mrs. Who of Whoville. A serious, no nonsense woman, she sits in the bench with a 90° angle at the hips and knees. She’s reading the newspaper (gasp! actual newsprint!) and drinking her morning coffee out of a white Styrofoam cup with a blue vista painted on it. She has long fingers with pinkish-red nail polish on the ends. Beige pants, navy blue Polo shirt. Gym shoes. She even has a tennis bracelet! I don’t know if she’s off to work or a tennis lesson.

Also here are Ray Romano’s mother-in-law, Condaleeza Rice, Richard Gere and Jeff Probst. All are armed.

Happy Wednesday. Enjoy the long weekend. Safe travels.

Monday, May 19, 2014 – Homeward Bound – trainspottingChicago



Good afternoon. On the 3:55PM out of the City.

The modern day Radio Raheem is sitting in front of me in the quiet car. The gray haired Bill Nunn looking fellow is in blue-jean shorts and a big basketball icon short sleeve shirt. His wife, seated across the aisle, is a heavier set Monica Seles. Both are taking the train back to the end terminus, with vacation bags in hand. Radio Raheem is totally getting into his music, some of the higher tones are escaping his ear canal and radiating from his earbuds into the open air. It sounds like Tupac. Possibly Notorious B.I.G.

His massive hands are cradling the silver iCrackerBot. The size of his watch is insane! He has purchased a tabletop analog clock and had it retrofitted with straps from a horse bridle. I was so amazed by the size of this watch that I took a photo.


I will let you decide if my description so far fits the billing. I don’t usually take photo’s, but I am amazed at the proportions of things. Radio Raheem is totally in his own groove, periodically flipping through the song selections to pick what his mood feels like. Kanye? Sounds like Kanye.

Monica Seles is asleep. She has a red suitcase – a carry on rectangular prism probably purchased at the mall. She is an athletic woman, easily fitting in as a YMCA fitness trainer or sports coach at a High School. Sketches sneakers, wader shin high jeans sports jacket with a logo of a NPF organization or booster club. Her blonde hair is tucked inside of her coat so it looks like her hair does double duty as a pillow.

Also here are an Amazonian Amy Adams (with plaid penny loafers), Cameron Diaz’s mom, Bill Gates and Terry Gilliam. All are armed.

Happy Monday. Safe travels.





Good morning.

On the 8:12AM into the City. I was at the local auto shop this morning at 7:00AM, waiting to pick up a company car that’s being serviced. The car was to be issued to one of the staff I manage. The car isn’t ready. After calling the employee and my boss, I drove to the train station and, upon just missing the 7:55AM, bought a cup of coffee.

I have not quite finished the Piketty tome, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, but I felt if I went another week without checking in, I may lose the habit of posting daily.

On a personal note, I had a great weekend, spending the brunt of my time at the Chicago Drum Show. The CDS is an annual trade show highlighting vintage drums, handmade and specialty drums, and a flea market for used parts. I picked up some Slingerland congas from the 1970’s that harken back to Desi Arnez’s “BaBaLou” balladeer days on “I Love Lucy”of the 1950’s.



Anyway, enough about me beating off.

Shaggy from the Scooby Doo live action movie is here. The stuck in the seventies stoner is decidedly mop-toppy, though trimmed on the sides and back providing a Beiberish bent to his bespeckled look. The head phones he wears to listen to his Bieber back catalog remind me of the cyborg in the Star Trek movies who has implanted chips in his brain to access data instantly. Well, except for our fellow’s chin-goatee which is certainly not Starfleet regulation facial hair. The whole look is accented by large horn-rimmed glasses that children were forced to wear in the late seventies/early eighties, which look more like arc-welding safety goggles than prescription eyewear.

Jay Cutler is here. The perennially lauded and chastised Bears quarterback is decidedly incognito. He has let his hair grow out a bit. He’s wearing  leather jacket in relatively nice weather. His wife is a model, for the love of Ditka! He should be dressing better. His sunglasses are from the Erik Estrada collection of CHiPs gear. He is on his iCrackerBot, texting his agent to see if he can get out of the Children’s Charity event so he can go visit his “life coach” before off-season training starts.

Also here are Pablo Neruda, Ho Chi Minh, Mr. Kobayashi from “Usual Suspects”, and Pamela Richardson. Everybody but me is armed.

I’ll keep learning about the global economy, but not on the train.

Happy Monday. Safe travels.