After we said goodbye to Jimmy last night, we made plans to meet up again today for our final full day in Chicago. There was no real plan other than shopping on Michigan Avenue and getting a feel for Chicago. We were going to do a boat tour but the weather was too brutal. Next time. We also were going to do the Willis Tower (*cough* Sears Tower) observation deck but that wasn’t open or something because it was a Sunday or the weather (I didn’t pay attention and just went with the plan so it might have been neither of those things). Aaron and I stayed in the hotel for most of the morning getting work done and planned on meeting up with him around 1 p.m. We meandered our way over to the designated spot but on the way, passed this …
We went in too many stores to remember. (Side note: Is fur still a thing in the United States? We were in the men’s department at Saks and they had this beautiful coat. The price was an eye-popping $18,000 because the interior inside was lined with fur, which I thought was largely verboten due to cruelty concerns. I was genuinely shocked to see it in the urban wild. I haven’t seen anyone wear it for a couple of decades.)
We went to probably every kitchen store in the area, as well as a few furniture places. (Between Aaron and I combined, we had at least 33,000+ steps on our Fit Bits. It was basically power walking while looking at cool stuff).
Hours pass … many more miles traveled … we decide to forego dinner – deep dish pizza was enough for a single daily meal – and get gelato and coffee when we checked out Jimmy’s neighborhood.
While we were enjoying our gelato and talking, the conversation turned to a research paper one of Jimmy’s friends had done about the socioeconomic and racial dynamics of dating patterns. (I want to see the actual mathematics because it sounds interesting. It’s going to end up evolving into one of those working essays I keep for my own files because, from what I understand of the conclusion (which could be entirely inaccurate given I haven’t seen the actual data) I wonder if there’s something simpler going on there that can be explained by assortative mating habits in educational and income compatibility, which we’ve gone into quite a bit in the past. This undoubtedly reinforces power structures but I think a convincing argument can be made that it is a second order effect, not a primary motivator.)
I’ve been going over it in my mind and I’m certain there is probably a network bias mental model at play, too, that can be partially solved looking at the insular nature of certain peer groups. It’s been a fun thought experiment and given me something to contemplate for awhile. I’m sure once I’ve settled it, it will turn into a blog post so I can organize my thoughts in a structured, sequential format.
Anyway, we walked down the street to Intelligentsia to get coffee and tea.
We went back to Jimmy’s apartment to see it and take a momentary break, watching an episode of our favorite television show. Aaron and I then said our goodbyes to him and jumped on a bus …
This trip has been a lot of fun. It was awesome of Jimmy to invite us to hang out his turf so we get to see his new city now that he’s settled in following his move from Houston. I can see how someone could fall in love with the place.
After talking about it, Aaron and I are convinced we could definitely live here if necessary. Chicago remains on the short-list, in a top three spot as a matter of fact, for relocation in a few years when we give the final approval to the surrogacy process for our kids because of The Illinois Gestational Surrogacy Act, which completely removes the courts from the process and guarantees we’ll be the sole, joint parents on the birth certificates (in California, it’s largely a by-product of case law in the courts, which isn’t as secure). It also has a major tax advantage over California, keeping a lot more cash in the family coffers.
As an added bonus, like California, in Chicago, our kids wouldn’t have to deal with some of the issues they do in Missouri or Kansas; e.g, the advertisements on the bus in Chicago had two married dads and their kids as one example of typical family and while we were driving through Springfield, Illinois on our way to the city, a few miles away the state legislature was simultaneously passing a child abuse ban on fundamentalist parents shipping their gay kids off to so-called “conversion therapy”, which is nothing more than consumer fraud that has been totally and completely discredited by the medical profession but which causes a clearly demonstrable, and significant, increase in suicide risk as the child internalizes he or she is worthless; that something is wrong with them and they shouldn’t exist. The law has teeth, too. According to The Chicago Tribune, “Psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, social workers and counselors caught [attempting to change the sexual orientation of a minor] could be deemed as engaging in unprofessional conduct by state regulators and face disciplinary action such as monetary fines, probation, or temporary or permanent license revocation.”
It didn’t stop there. There were signs for the non-discrimination law throughout the city announcing that people had to be served regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Just seeing that acknowledged, I felt like I was in some alternate universe. It also made me feel like Illinois, not my home state, deserved my tax revenue and human capital. The City of Springfield (Missouri), in contrast, just repealed an ordinance at the urging of the largest local churches, including a 9,000 member Assemblies of God congregation that outright defied the IRS ban on political engagement by non-profits (and that still has faced zero repercussions for doing so) that made it illegal to fire someone, deny them housing, or refuse to serve them in a restaurant or other business if you discovered they were gay. It wasn’t a huge victory for the bad guys – roughly 51% to 49% – and, as politically incorrect as it is to say outright, reality must be acknowledged by noting most of the older generation responsible for it will die in the next 60 months, tipping it permanently in the win column for the good guys – but it’s still heartbreaking that there isn’t at least a basic agreement you shouldn’t be able to take away someone’s job because they aren’t straight; to throw them into the street upon discovering they are married; to not serve them a cheeseburger or sell them a pack of gum because you were taught bigotry the same way millions of people in the South once looked down upon blacks or New Yorkers once looked down upon Jews.
As great as Chicago is, on the other hand … have you seen California? Have you driven through wine country in Temecula? Have you taken in the view of Ojai and the Santa Ynez Valley or enjoyed Laguna Beach at sunset? In many areas, it’s almost always 72 degrees Fahrenheit. With no humidity. I hate humidity. And when we do have kids, Disneyland is right there so we can buy season passes and go all the time, even taking our nieces and nephews if they want to tag along.
If only California weren’t on fire, suffering a multi-year drought, and the biggest political mess in the country …
Trade-off decisions are not always fun. Such is life. You make your choice and proceed. I suspect that’s what we’ll end up having to do. On the upshot, we’ve already conclusively determined that if we stay in the Midwest, Chicago wins over Kansas City so there’s that. We used a technique called “Tournament Draw”, which involves building what looks like an NCAA tournament schedule. You then put two decisions head-to-head. You decide between the two and only one moves on to the next round. It’s a close relative to the decision trees Charlie Munger uses, with the process of negative selection ultimately simplifying, clarifying, and deciding for you. It forces you to give an answer; to be specific about which you value more. It’s a great tool to put in your mental toolbox if you want to increase efficiency.