Sunrise.


I’ve ramped back my wake up time by 30 minutes. This has allowed me to work out in the morning without the stress of getting to my desk in a rushed manner. Traffic on the road is not as crazy. I feel safer walking along our busy road.

But more importantly, waking up 30 minutes earlier has allowed me to see the sunrise. This morning the sky was full of amazing colors. I was filled with hope. The breezes felt full of change.

Today is going to be a great day.

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The iTunes Conundrum.

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This is one of my very first iTunes purchases. If you’re not seeing the image above, I’m referring to “What Did I Do To You?” by Lisa Stansfield. It’s the original album version, which encompasses the complete “vision” Ms. Stansfield had for the track. It was purchased in 2003 using my old iTunes username (I don’t think we called them Apple IDs back then). I’ve been looking for the track for ages and was deleted when I finally found it on a backup CD-R with “2004 backup” scrawled in Sharpie across the label side of the CD.

Eager to listen to this track again, I fired up an old iMac and imported the file into iTunes. I was prompted for the password of that forgotten account. Unbelievably, I remembered the password. The file was imported successfully but with a few caveats.

* iTunes Match wouldn’t recognize the track
* I couldn’t add it to a playlist
* The track would propagate to my other Apple devices. No iPhone, no iPad, No MacBook Pro.

I ended up copying the file by hand, using Dropbox, to my MacBook Pro. I imported it there as well after going through the password rigamarole.

Hunting around in Finder, I found the actual file and discovered that it was an m4p file, Apple’s old proprietary format that has DRM (Digital Rights Management) built into it. I converted all of my m4p files to m4a years ago using the iTunes Match service. The track is apparently not available in Apple Music today, as I can only find the edited down 7-inch version. Clicking on “Add to My Library” makes iTunes crabby.

I really want this song to be included throughout my Apple devices. It’s suppose to “just work”, right? Does anyone know how to get this song to become part of a playlist in iTunes? How do I convert it to a friendlier format without spending $40 on a piece of software that I’m going to use only once?

I know that I’m a huge Apple geek, but I’m at a loss on this one. If you have any suggestions (other than telling me to get Windows or something), please feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

New Adventures.

Earl sent me a text message early this morning telling me that his position at work had been eliminated and he had been “retired”. Luckily 21+ years of service meant a decent severance package. We are tightening our belts but we are not drowning. With this change we are moving from Oliver and Lisa to Abner and Gladys. We’re nowhere near Ralph and Alice. We’ll be fine.

The only thing that has tied us to our current location is Earl’s job. My job is fairly mobile, I work from home so I could probably relocate and continue with my current job. Earl is taking some time off from the grind to decide what he wants to do. Retire early? Find another job? Start a new career? The possibilities are endless.

The thing is that we both see this as the beginning of a new chapter of our life together. There’s no ending, just moving on to whatever lies ahead. Who knows, maybe we’ll move somewhere where I can keep an eye on the house across the street.

Let the whooshing noises commence.

Yoko.

A decade or so ago, UK Dance Group Bimbo Jones remixed Yoko Ono’s “You’re The One”.  Originally released in 1984, this 21st century remix caught my attention back toward the end of my moonlighting career as a club DJ. I hadn’t thought about the song in ages but for some reason it popped into my head as I was getting out of bed this morning and just kind of stuck there.

I don’t know a lot about Yoko Ono. I know she was married to John Lennon. Some say she broke up The Beatles. I’ve seen video of her screaming and wailing into a microphone as people applauded her display of artistry. I guess she’s deep, way out and her own person. One cannot be denied for being their own person.

It turns out that today is National Peace Day, and if anyone is for world peace, it’s Yoko Ono. I follow her on Twitter. She says things that are deep. Her tweets make me thing and reflect on my own place in this world. After reading a tweet from Yoko Ono I am left to ponder as to what I can do to improve my contribution to this world. It’s nice to see someone tweet a thought of value. It doesn’t have to be witty, pithy or even breezy. Pondering is good.

To finally ride today’s ear bug to its conclusion, I dug up the remix of “You’re The One” on YouTube.  Enjoy.

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Distraction. Addiction.


Mark over at Voenix Rising shared a very interesting article in New York Magazine by Andrew Sullivan regarding society’s addiction to today’s technology.  One quote in particular caught my attention:

“Kara, in her 50s, feels that life in her hometown of Portland, Maine, has emptied out: ‘Sometimes I walk down the street, and I’m the only person not plugged in … No one is where they are. They’re talking to someone miles away. I miss them.’”

It’s funny that this article should pop up in my feed at this moment. During my morning walk/break from work, I was wondering if I should try going without my Apple Watch for the next 48 hours to see how it would make me feel. I also remembered that I have an aviation social engagement tonight and that perhaps I should leave my iPhone out in the Jeep while I attend the festivities. 

I believe that I should be the change I would like to see in the world.

You can read the article here.

Thank you, Mark!

Connections.

Over the past several months I have attended several gatherings, whether it be with friends, family, other pilots, etc. This is not unusual, summertime in Central New York encourages this sort of merriment. People like to get together. I enjoy getting together with folks, breaking bread, chatting, having a beer. 

One thing that I’ve noticed in the recent gatherings is that conversation starters have been regularly prefaced with statements like, “Did you see on Facebook that I…” or “We went down south for a for a few days, or did you see the photos on Facebook…”.

Facebook has become as prevalent at a family picnic as potato salad and ants.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. There is nothing spectacular about the software, in fact, it’s downright awful. The interface is clumsy, the experience is mediocre at best. Facebook doesn’t really have a product outside of user data. Personal information is monetized.

Yet, everyone uses it. And it pounds at people to keep using it.

Personally I’m horrified at the idea of putting all of my digital eggs in one electronic basket, only to be used for ad-revenue generating purposes. However, I can’t help but continue to use Facebook because it’s the platform that is connecting family and friends to one another in this electronic age. Personal blogs such as these are all but extinct (thanks for hanging around, by the way). Organizations are no longer vying for websites about their group but instead reaching out through a Page on Facebook. Debates are taking place on Facebook, though many of the debates that pass through on my stream seem to be quite idiotic. How do I know these people again? I recently heard that coaches and the like are reaching out to parents through Facebook Messenger instead of using traditional vehicles like email, the telephone or typed out memos printed on ditto paper.

I’ve always hoped that Facebook would become the next MySpace, where people abandon the platform in droves and move onto the next big thing, but the roots of Facebook seem to be pretty deep. It would take something really, really big to sway people away from Facebook. And as awful as the service is, those roots are deep because of one thing it’s doing really well, and that’s connecting people.

Clickity Click Click Click.

As a software developer I spend a lot of time typing of computer keyboards. Because of this I am rather picky about the keyboard that I use as my daily driver. Modern PC keyboards of the 2000s tend to be quite mushy and breakdown over time. The latest trend in keyboards has been those low-profile, nearly zero-travel chicklet type keys. This is a result of many PC manufacturers trying to follow the lead that Apple started with this trend. I guess most people forget that the old Atari home computers in the 1980s had similar chicklet keys. I didn’t like them then and I don’t like them now.

My full-sized, wired (the horror!) Apple keyboard start showing signs of a slow death last week so I was in the market for a new keyboard for my home office setup. I have a couple of Apple wireless Bluetooth keyboards lying around, but since I have a pretty robust setup for my home office, I’d like to use a full-sized keyboard for my full-sized needs.

Back in the day I loved the old IBM “Model M” keyboards. These are the ones that are really loud and clicky. The keycaps and the arrangement of the alphabetic keys are reminiscent of the old IBM Selectric Typewriters. The feel, the pressure, the response are all typewriter like. Those old Model M keyboards were fantastic to type on and I was always able to fly along at a rapid pace when placed in front of those keyboards. One of the best things my Mom ever did was allow me to type on her typewriter growing up, but with very strong encouragement to use the correct fingerings for typing. 40 years later I am still able to type over 100 words per minute.

Before buying a new keyboard I went into my technological boneyard and found a full-sized Apple keyboard from the early 2000s. This was from one of our old white cased iMacs. They keys are white and the whole keyboard has that translucent Apple feel to it. Typing on it is alright but it’s nothing to write home about. I can fly along pretty well but the response was mushy.

Still dreaming about the IBM Model M keyboards from days of past, I went searching on the Internet and found that Unicomp makes a variant of the old IBM Model M keyboard, including a model made specifically for Mac! I know, the horror, but having an IBM designed keyboard with an Apple layout would be quite cool and in my eyes would be the best of both worlds. The keyboards are fairly pricey, but they’re built like a tank and the keyboard should theoretically last me a long time. So I ordered one.

Today my Unicomp Mac Buckling Spring keyboard arrived. I was ecstatic!


Typing on the keyboard is a dream. I tested my typing skills on it this afternoon and I was able type at 109 WPM on it. Not too shabby. I have to admit there were a couple of issues when it arrived. The left corner Control key had popped off and the A key’s response was intermittent at best. I took the underlying key cap mechanism from F15 and swapped it with the A and I haven’t had an issue since. Still, for a keyboard clocking in at over $100, this is a bit disappointing. So much for “it just works”, but that’s why I usually buy Apple products.

Other than the two small hiccups, I am very pleased with the keyboard and I was able to fly through some coding I had to do this afternoon. The clickity click click of the keys allowed me to get lost in the moment and find my coding zen.

I guess I’m just easy to please.

Accuracy.


As a pilot I’m pretty tuned to the current weather conditions. With at least two flights planned for any given week (and hopefully more if finances allow!), I pay close attention to the forecast and plan accordingly.  During ground school we are encouraged to watch the local forecasts and The Weather Channel™ to further our understanding of the weather and how it will impact what we can do in the skies.

On Friday morning I was watching the local weather in preparation for a flight to Portland, Maine. The air personality was talking about enjoying this last day of summer-like weather because it was going to turn much colder and the skies would be rainy for much of the weekend.

It is now Monday morning. When I awoke at 6:00 a.m. It was 66ºF and quite humid. 66ºF in these parts in the middle of September is hardly much colder weather. I’m reminded of a foggy summer morning, three days after that last day of summer-like weather they were talking about.  We had a few rainy spells but nothing horrible. 

This was another reminder that commercial media first and foremost serves the purpose of generating ad revenue. Their product is weather information, and people are more apt to follow the weather, especially in this day and age, if it has a certain edge to it. “Storms could turn strong and severe this weekend if a storm front passing through decides to stall, which some forecast models indicate could happen if another front elsewhere in the country turns off its current path”.  As long as the words strong and severe were in there and there was some sort of truth to it, the smiling air personality could continue to smile knowing they were telling the truth to the public.

There were no storms. There was three flashes of lightning last night, which prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. We were on the very outer edge of the warning area, so Earl and I drove smack dab into the middle of the predicted storm’s path. No lightning. No wind. No rain. Just dark sky (it was 8:00 PM) with the evidence of some grayish clouds reflecting the lights of the area. Then three flashes of lightning. That was it.

I’m ready for autumn weather. Heck, I’m ready for winter weather. I just wish the forecasters would stop getting my hopes up.

I need to stop paying attention to the revenue-generating weather outlets and start doing my own forecasting. It will make me less crazy.

The Pedestrian Rant.

I haven’t been riding my bike in recent weeks. Most of this is probably due to laziness but I’ve also been concerned about my safety on the roadways as a cyclist. Over the past couple of years I’ve had a few close calls that made me sweat a bit; motorists coming quite close to me even though I’m over as far away from the driving lanes as I can safely be without losing control of the bicycle in the dirt or some random person’s lawn.

I’ve been walking every morning to somewhat compensate for the change in exercise patterns. We live on a former country road that has been developed with apartment complexes and housing developments up the hill from us. The posted speed limit is 45 miles per hour. The county will occasionally post one of those electronic speed meter signs that tell motorists how fast they are driving. When that’s up and monitoring traffic, folks still come down the hill well over 45 MPH. I wouldn’t mind their excessive speed as much if they were safely driving the vehicle, but in the morning hours there are folks fiddling with their phone, putting on makeup, shaving, etc as they make their way down our hilly and somewhat curvy road.

The shoulders of the roadway are four feet wide with two feet of pavement and two feet of dirt. If there is no oncoming traffic I walk on the paved portion but remaining on my side of the white line delineating the driving lane from the shoulder. If there is traffic coming along I move over to the dirt portion. Many sections of the road around us are flanked by a three foot deep ditch immediately off the shoulder so that’s why I try to stay on the shoulder as much as possible.

Now, I realize that this particular road wasn’t designed for pedestrians, it was designed for vehicles so that’s why I do my best to stay as safe as possible while I’m making my way to a quieter street about a mile away from the house. However, over the past year, and especially the past six months, I can’t help but notice the degradation in driving habits as exhibited by these fine folks flying down the hill making their way to wherever they feel they need to be.

This next portion of this blog entry may sound sexist and ageist and the like but the fact of the matter is I’m making honest observations based on a small sampling of the drivers coming down the roadway in the morning.

1. Young girls will be wearing aviator sunglasses, have their hair tied up into some sort of arrangement on the top of their head and will rarely be looking at the road. It could be before sunrise but they still have their sunglasses on. They are enthralled with whatever is going on on their phone at the moment and driving the motor vehicle comes secondary. They will be over the white line, they will oversteer the curve, glance up to see why there’s dirt flying around and then resume their primary objective, playing on their phone. I jump into a ditch.

2. Young men will do anything they can (hat turned sideways, scruffed up fuzz, tattoos all over, gold chains, etc) to look contrary to their middle to upper-middle class upbringing, have some sort of low riding vehicle that basically turns into a hockey puck in the winter and will have their seat slung back so far that they have no hope of seeing more than six inches off the front of the car. They casually glance at their phone as they look around to make sure people are looking at them. The bright side of this equation is that they’ll slow down to 5 MPH to cross the railroad tracks because anything faster will rip out any and everything on the bottom of the vehicle. Like their female counterparts, they are too busy doing other things, will oversteer the curves and I’ll end up jumping in a ditch. They, too, wear their sunglasses at night.

3. There’s one middle aged guy driving a BMW that is always shaving. Always. Every day. He drives by, he’s shaving. He slows down for the school bus, he’s shaving. This supports my claim that men that shave with electric shavers are highly disorganized, lazy people that have little disregard for their appearance, the people around them and any sort of common sense. It’s about him and only him. As he tries to get that spot under his nose, he’ll oversteer the curves and I’ll have to jump in the ditch.

4. The old woman that drives somewhere at 7 a.m. every day has her own story. She’s lucky to know what country she’s in let alone worry about keeping the damn vehicle between the white lines. She’s moving at 20 MPH (somehow she has the vehicle moving nearly sideways), giving me plenty of time to jump in the ditch when she oversteers the curve and brushes by the bushes in front of the neighbor’s house, scaring the occupants and sending me cursing.

5. One of the two biggest competitions for motorists in this area is to see how long of an empty trailer they can tow behind their truck without dragging the ass end of their F150 onto the pavement. There’s never anything in these trailers, they’re just empty as they get towed behind these big trucks. Being in a lower income area of the state, I can only assume that these empty trailers are to be considered in the same way as rich men driving Hummers. They’re dick extenders. They oversteer the curves, the empty trailer swings around a bit and I end up jumping in the ditch.

6. The other biggest competition for motorists in this area is to see at what young age they can get a handicapped sticker hanging from their mirror. They can’t see the line because they have this big ass handicapped placard hanging down the middle of their windshield, guaranteeing them a parking spot close to the corral of electric scooters at the market, and thus they oversteer the curve and I end up jumping in the ditch.

7. And last, but not least, there’s school bus 380, which makes multiple trips through the area picking up children that are sitting on the corner tapping at their phones. School bus 380 comes barreling down the hill well above the posted 45 MPH speed limit. The driver then jumps on the brakes when he realizes the railroad tracks are still there, same as yesterday, and he must stop. Sneaky railroad tracks. A casual glance inside the bus reveals school aged children hurled forward with their heads in a downward position. They must be looking at their phones as they endure this gaiety.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to walk along a highway when there is theoretically plenty of space for me to do so. I could go on with my rant but my blood pressure is up now and I need to calm down a little bit.