Posts from the ‘Worth Sharing’ Category
July 27th, 2015
It’s that time of year again – time to relive my misspent youth by seeing 100+ bands in one weekend at Lollapalooza. This is my attempt to shamelessly recruit more friends to join me this year by posting “Five Misconceptions People Over 40 May Have About Going to Lollapalooza” Here goes…
1. “It’s a mosh pit.” Well, that can certainly be true if you choose to rush the stage or hang out at Perry’s, the electric synthesized music stage for people with short attention spans where all your kids will be hanging out.
But to be honest, Grant Park is absolutely gorgeous and huge, one mile from end to end. There are eight stages spread out along the edges, and the inside of the park is filled with flowers, trees, lawns, Buckingham Fountain, and nice shady spots to relax and chill. My favorite spot is the WXRT area. It’s a great place to regroup, with Adirondack chairs, shade, a craft beer station nearby, and is centrally located in the park.
2. “I’ll be too exhausted for a three-day festival.” Do you actually think you’ll have more energy next year? You can do it! It’s all about pacing. Because the park is one mile from end to end, you can become completely exhausted if all you’re doing is walking from one end to the other all day. Be smart about it. On both ends of the park are two stages that face each other. Pick a good spot in the middle to “camp” and hear two bands back to back without ever moving. And you’ll make lots of new friends.
3. “Weather.” Yes, there will be weather. We are on Earth, after all. It can be hot, but there are water stations everywhere. Bring a camelback or some plastic water bottles and you can fill up endlessly and for free. And it may rain (which brings the tremendous entertainment of watching the drunk, stupid people create slip and slides in the mud). It’s always a good idea to bring a small plastic tarp to either sit on or sit under in case of rain.
4. “There won’t be anything good to eat or drink.” If you enjoy watery, light beer, this festival, like all others, has got you covered. But there are two craft beer stations on site, and a wine bar set up in the middle of the park where you can sit on comfy couches and sip whatever you want. By Sunday night, this is usually where I am. From this spot, you can lounge and hear the live music from the biggest stage while watching it on a giant screen.
For the ultimate in convenience, you can connect your wristband to your credit card and never have to worry about whether you have enough money. (This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Last year, I bought a round of drinks for a table of new friends from around the world. Go big or go home, right?)
And because you’re in Chicago, the food is actually great. Billie Goat’s, Lou Malnati’s pizza, MBurgers, Kamehachi’s, Cheesie’s grilled cheese, salads, pasta and new this year, an organic farmer’s market. Even vegans eat well at this festival.
5. “I’ve never heard of these bands.” Of course you haven’t, because most of us are busy working, managing careers, spouses and children and too busy to keep up with the latest. But that’s the beauty of going – discovering new music.
I’m partial to the BMI stage, the smallest stage where the really new bands appear. The ones who do well come back to play on the larger stages in future years. Last year, Houndmouth played on the BMI stage, and went on to appear on Letterman, release a fantastic record, and are going on tour this fall. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Run with it.
One other thing you should know: Cell phone signals are completely sketchy and unreliable in the park, so don’t rely on them to be able to connect with your friends and / or kids. Make plans in advance.
Have I convinced you to come? I hope so! If you need tickets, I would suggest buying from someone you know or through a broker like Stub Hub or Ticket City. Every year, there are a fair number of fake tickets sold through fake eBay and Craigslist. A 1-day pass should be $100+, and a 3-day pass should be $300+. If they’re cheaper, they’re likely fake.
With a great lineup and the Chicago skyline as a backdrop, it should be a beautiful weekend! Hope to see you there!
January 2nd, 2014
Imagine that you’re part of a new country, struggling to make ends meet. Your citizens work hard to grow enough food for everyone. Laborers and manufacturers trade their wares for food and farmers barter for the tools they need to continue producing. When you get sick, your neighbors pitch in to help. They bring over food and medicine, maybe take care of your kids for a bit until you get better. Your community is strong.
As your country begins to mature and you become better and smarter at growing food and making roads and building houses and preventing illnesses, you have the luxury of thinking about the future. You begin to teach your children to read. You invest in health and medicine so your population is healthy and productive. You invest in technology and infrastructure so commerce can continue to expand. You dream of success – a place where everyone has shoes, food, a roof over their heads, and opportunities for the future.
Hundreds of years later, you are considered a developed country. But instead of continuing to invest in each other and our futures to ensure the success of our community and country, we begin hoarding our cash, happy with our success. “Everyone has enough,” we say. But do they?
This year alone, we’re cutting the food stamp program by $5 billion. This will affect 47 million neighbors, 22 million of whom are children. No more chicken soup for you.
And we need more chicken soup! Overall, the health of our citizens has declined significantly over the past 20 years. From 1990 to 2010, the U.S. fell from ranking number 18 among wealthy nations to the 27th spot in terms of early deaths. Life expectancy at birth dropped from the 20th to 27th, while healthy life expectancy fell from 14th to the 26th ranking.*
Illness and chronic disability account for nearly half of U.S. health burdens. The leading risk factors are unhealthy eating, tobacco smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar (a risk factor for diabetes), physical inactivity and alcohol drinking. In short, our overindulgence is doing us in. (Picture: Henry VIII)
In the 1940s and 1950s, the U.S. public education system was the envy of many countries. “What wealth, what privilege they must have to be able to send all their children to school every day!”
Last fall, American teens scored below the international average in math and roughly average in science and reading, compared against dozens of other countries that participated in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Vietnam, still considered to be a jungly, unsophisticated outpost to many, had a higher average score in math and science than the United States. Students in Shanghai ranked best in the world, and students in East Asian countries came out on top, nabbing seven of the top 10 places across all three subjects.**
The numbers are even more sobering when compared among only the 34 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. The United States ranked 26th in math — trailing nations such as Slovakia, Portugal and Russia. (Can you find Slovakia on a map?) American high school students dropped to 21st in science (from 17th in 2009) and slipped to 17th in reading (from 14th in 2009).
We have great schools and teachers and smart children, and we’re spending gazillions of dollars on public, private and college educations. These numbers are really depressing. Where are we going wrong here?
When we were a developing country, we spent a lot of money on infrastructure. We knew that we needed passable roads and bridges, decent water to drink, and some serious plumbing to continue progressing from the little farm country we started. But today, our infrastructure is literally crumbling.
Once every four years, America’s civil engineers provide a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s major infrastructure categories in ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (Report Card). Using simple A-F report card, an Advisory Council of ASCE members assigns grades for categories including aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, ports, public parks and recreation, railways, roads, schools, solid waste, transit and wastewater.***
Since 1998, the grades have been near failing, averaging only Ds. The assessors site delayed maintenance and underinvestment as the causes across most categories. For the brave, you can read the full report here: http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/a/#p/home.
So what’s the plan? Are we no longer going to bring food and medicine over to the neighbor who is sick or injured? Are we going to leave their kids to fend for themselves? (One of every 45 children in this country will be homeless some time this year.) Are we waiting for the bridges to go out and the levees to break and destroy everything we’ve built before doing something about fixing them? Seems awfully foolish to me.
Maybe we don’t care at all anymore about the community and country we started to build. Maybe our success has made us so self-absorbed that the success or failure of Americans as a group doesn’t matter anymore (or only at the Olympics). In a global economy, does “country” really even matter? Does “community” matter?
I think it does. Watch any end-of-the-world movie and you’ll see humans banding together in reformed communities against the aliens (or zombies or vampires). Same thing with natural disasters. No one cares about protecting their money or possessions. They just want to survive – to live to see another day.
What will it take to shake us from our complacent isolationism? What needs to happen before we are inspired to come together to address the serious issues in front of us?
We’re supposedly the leaders of the free world – an honor we continue to bestow upon ourselves despite the evidence. I’d like to see us begin to act like leaders again this year, act like pioneers with dreams of a better future. Let’s show people that we’re smart and capable, reasonable and calm. Let’s stop thinking about the short term and begin shoring up a foundation for the future.
Let’s remember that we’re Americans – all from the same community – all on the same team. Let’s become the country we envisioned so long ago.
p.s. I did not make up these stats. See these sources: