Exploration.

A certain someone of the feline persuasion just ventured outside (with supervision) for the first time since moving into our happy little home a couple of months ago. Scooter is still getting his routine around here down; he hasn’t figured out the differences between “meal time” and “sleep” and he’s an early riser (breakfast at 3:00 a.m. anyone?), but he’s starting to get his bearings.

Since today is the first time it has been above 60ºF this year, I thought I’d spend a little time out on the front porch during my lunch hour. I motioned for Scooter to come out with me, but he didn’t want any part of the shenanigans I was engaging in, so he scooted around the house at a high rate of speed. He then realized that I was still on the front porch.

There’s a saying about cats and curiosity…

Anyway, it only took two rattles of the front porch door to get the human to get up from his comfortable position in the sun and let Mr. Scooter outside, but when I went to open the door, Scooter ran back. I decided to leave the front door open and let him come out on his own. It took a bit and the steps were filled with trepidation, but he finally came out to where I was sitting on the steps. He made a few cursory checks of the area through his very active nose and then decided he had had enough and starting ripping around the house again.

Apparently all of this activity has deemed him worthy of a nap. He is now relaxing and undoubtedly pondering his exploratory mission of the day.

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Readers.

Since the beginning of the year I have noticed a marked decrease in the number of entries on many of the personal blogs I read, my blog here included. I have spoken about this before and I still attribute this shift to the rise of social media, namely Facebook and Twitter and the like. I’ve wondered if our increasing expectations of immediacy and short blasts of information in life are fueled by the instantaneous nature of social media or vice-versa. Whatever the reason, I’m sure they are here to stay for a while.

Another contributing factor to the decline in personal blogs is the shuttering of Google Reader a while back. Google Reader was an excellent aggregator of RSS feeds, or blog data, and when Google shut down the application they did a real (purposeful) disservice to the blogging community. Google Reader was thorough in its capabilities. I have tried other services, Feedly and a couple of others, but I reinstalled my own copy of Tiny Tiny RSS, a Google Reader-like aggregator that runs on one’s own web server space.

When I was looking for a solution to replace Google Reader I found Feedly too cumbersome with its way of organizing incoming feeds; Tiny Tiny RSS fits the void left by Google Reader quite well.

I don’t know who still reads me blog but by whatever method you have arrived, I’m appreciative of the fact that you read my ramblings. Though I routinely contemplate the closing down of this blog, in the long run I feel that I still have much more than 140 characters to say.

So I guess I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing.

Steps.

I have had a life-changing experience this week. It’s a small thing, but sometimes a very small thing can have a very large impact on one’s life. This change, this modification, has significantly improved my comfort and added a most pronounced spring to my step.

For the first time in 45 years, I have altered the way I lace up my shoes.

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If you look closely, you’ll notice that my laces go straight across, instead of the criss-cross method I’ve used since mastering the art of tying my shoes during my first months of kindergarten.

When I learned to tie my shoes, there was something about the bunny going around the tree and jumping through a hoop to make his own hoop. I never understood the logistics of all this imagery, and quite frankly, I was labeled as “possibly development disabled” because I entered kindergarten without being able to tie my shoes. I didn’t color within the lines, either and I also committed the cardinal sin of “jamming” my homework into my book bag. I just think Mrs. Mosher (“no child is any different from any other child”) didn’t know what to do with me since I obviously didn’t fit into her stereotypical expectations. Clearly, I was too fabulous.

I’m digressing.

Once I mastered tying my shoes during those first shaky weeks of kindergarten, I celebrated by watching a girl named Tanya cut off her bangs with the construction paper scissors whilst I ate paste.

Calm down, I’m joking and still digressing. I’m joking about the paste. Tanya did cut her hair and I have no idea why she did that.

Actually, once I mastered tying my shoes I chalked that up to a philosophy that I still obey to this day: “set it and forget it.” The thing is, I like my shoes tied really tight and with that whole criss-cross method that I learned back in 1973, I ended up with pain in the top of my feet that has gotten worse over the years. I’m not cutting off my circulation or anything, because my doctor was overly enthusiastic about the fact that you can take and SEE my pulse in my feet (it’s not gross or anything), but at the end of the day in my dress shoes or my pilot shoes (pictured above), I’ll feel the pain associated with the dent in the top of my foot from my tightly tied shoes.

Enter the Internet. Now, I’m not much of a foot guy (though years ago I did know a guy who loved my boots to the point of really loving my boots) but as I grow older I try to find a sophisticated sense of style and apparently there’s a better way to tie one’s shoes.

In fact, this site features 41 ways to lace up shoes, and after careful analysis, I have settled in on “straight bar” lacing.

My shoes are still tight but I no longer have the high amount of pressure pressing down on the top of my foot. This morning I was able to walk six miles before work and my feet never complained once about my shoes being too tight. They felt very comfortable and very solid.

This makes me a happy man.

Goals.

So today my new position at work and I am very excited about. My new title is “Senior Systems Engineer” and I’m basically doing more of what I love to do for work, writing applications for people to be more efficient in their job. The company I work for strives to “delight our customers” and I firmly believe in that value; I strive to “delight my customer”, which is the application user. I always have a goal to make things better.

I’ve also been working on my aviator goals: a couple of weeks ago I flew to Oswego County Airport with my instructor and a fellow student. It was great flight and a great learning experience but it was also important to me because of the familial significance of that airport. Landing where my dad and my grandfather had landed was a goal that I needed to reach and landing where my dad last flew was a hurdle I needed to get beyond. I am more energized and more excited than ever to fly now that I have accomplished that goal.

Last week I told my flight instructor and fellow students that I have some aviation goals in mind and one of them is flying into Oshkosh AirVenture in the Piper Cherokee that we co-own. That’s not going to happen this year; it’s way too early in my flight career to do something like that, but it is something that I would love to try in an upcoming year. Earl was mentioning at dinner the other night that he doesn’t want to fly in circles around our home airport, he wants to see things and go places. I’m lucky to have a spouse that thinks like I do.

Because it’s my goal to do the exact same thing.

Here’s a video of someone else landing at Oshkosh last year. Seeing this video just doubled my excitement for doing the same thing someday.

Market.

Our local grocery store of choice is in the process of remodeling. This is sort of a big deal in our happy little home, because Earl does the majority of the grocery shopping for our home and he has a certain way of doing it. I dare not blame this certain way on the fact that he’s getting older, I just like to think that’s he very well organized in all facets of his life and these organizational skills manifest themselves throughout everyday tasks.

The local market was originally built to be a combination of a grocery store and one of those warehouse type places. When it was in this configuration, all the aisles went the wrong direction: looking into the store from the front, the aisles ran left to right instead of front to back. This used to throw us both off but at the time it was better than the option across the street, where the aisles ran at 90 degrees to each other but at a 45 degree angle to the front registers, hence a bunch of “V”s. We couldn’t handle that, so we dealt with the back and forth aisles instead.

When the warehouse concept failed, the market was reconfigured into your standard supermarket, albeit kind of big. The roominess of the building was appreciated though, because it felt very open and airy and you could fit three carts across in an aisle and not worry about Edna and Beatrice blocking the aisle since they were usually chatting to one side.

With this latest remodel they are reducing the size of the store by nearly 30,000 square feet. The place is in shambles and it feels cramped. They’ve eliminated the “Nature’s Place” section where they had healthy alternatives for the crap that they hock elsewhere. The gourmet cheeses, the salad bar, all gone. For all intents and purposes, this supermarket is in the process of becoming your average, run-of-the-mill grocery store with nothing remarkable about it, except for one thing: their prices are still a little higher than the competition’s. Since there’s no reason to pay premium prices without a premium experience, I decided to introduce Earl to another market in the other direction from home.

Here is my husband investigating his new marketing digs.

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Overall, the experience was a success and I made a promise that I would try to start accompanying Earl on these shopping excursions. Honestly, I wish that we had a Wegmans in the area, but alas we don’t, so we make do with what we have.

Morning Inspiration.

So, to get my workday started on the right foot, every morning I listen to same playlist on Spotify. I call this playlist “Morning Inspiration” and it contains the following songs, which could probably be easily pushed right out of the nozzle of a Cheez-Whiz can:

“I’ll Be Around”, The Spinners
“Could It Be I’m Falling In Love”, The Spinners
“Heartbreaker”, Dionne Warwick
“Islands In The Stream”, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
“Guilty”, Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb
“Emotion”, Samantha Sang
“The Main Event/Fight”, Barbra Streisand
“Lotta Love”, Nicolette Larson
“Lovelight”, ABBA
“It’s A Miracle”, Barry Manilow

… and then to regain my musicality sanity …

“It’s My Life”, No Doubt

I have no idea as to what motivated me to select these tracks for a morning kick, but it works and helps keep me focused.

I’m weird.

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Dreams.

So last night I dreamed of several fellow bloggers that I have met over the years. The folks frolicking in my dream are all nice folks and live in various parts of the country, though in my dream we were all partying together in a nondescript, warm locale having a grand old time.

I think this dream was my subconscious telling me that I should continue writing in this blog, because I have met some mighty fine people via this blog over the years.

And to those that were in the dream last night, hello!

Consuming.

Since taking my first flight lesson back in November I have logged just under 13 hours of flight time as a student pilot. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time unless you a consider the fact that I am learning to fly in the winter in Upstate New York. If I was to learn in a warmer climate I’d probably be up around 20 hours by now. I often have to remind myself that I’m lucky to be able to fly in the winter at all; my dad and grandfather always had to wait until the snow was gone and the grass strip was functional before they could fly. We take what we can get.

My flying endeavor has consumed me in the best way possible. Nothing has consumed my time and energy more than flying, save for my marriage. Luckily, both my flying and my marriage are pure bliss, so I can say without hesitation that my life is awesome.

Co-workers ask about my last flight, conversations with my mom and sister include my flying lessons and on Saturday, when Earl and I were on a ride to the Southern Tier, I randomly barked out that I figured out a way to remember which way to turn the trim handle in the Piper Cherokee to trim up vs trim down without looking at what I was doing (up until now I’ve always had to look). I talk about flying a lot. I dream about flying. Airplanes have always been a part of my dreams but now they’re almost a non-stop element of my dreams and always in a good way. Last Monday night, after my first night flight, I could barely sleep because I was so excited about the flight I had just been on.

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Life is meant to be exciting.

Up until a month or so ago I worried about the fact that I was consumed with becoming a pilot. I was concerned that I no longer cared about building an awesome Linux computer or that I didn’t feel the need to add another clock to my school clock collection. All of my energy outside of work and home has been focused on flying. Am I boring to talk to? I don’t think I am, not anymore than usual. I hope that when I speak about my passion of becoming a pilot, folks will see a sparkle in my eye or hear an excitement in my voice that portrays the way I feel. Because I can’t say it enough: flying is awesome and I am a very happy man for finally starting the path to become a pilot.

There’s a saying about old dogs learning new tricks and the like. The truth of the matter is, I don’t feel like an old dog learning a new trick. I feel like a young playful puppy that looks in the sky with a feeling of wonder, amazement and excitement.

And it’s a great feeling.

Pistachios.

So I’ve been trying to tame my sweet tooth and staying away from sugary snacks. Granted, I just started this effort yesterday, but I have been successful for the past 28 hours or so, so I think I’m onto something. Still feeling hungry but not wanting to have a cookie or a muffin, I opted to give pistachios another try.

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I love pistachios. There’s a little bit of work involved with getting to the sweetish nutty goodness but I find they are an excellent snack for the workday. The caveat to this is that I must keep the portions under control. I can’t have a whole bag nearby, I need to portion out a 1/4 cup for the day and then store the rest in a time-locked, fireproof, tamperproof safe.

Ok, that might be a little extreme, but not by much.

I first started eating pistachios at my previous job. Munching and crunching helped keep the stress of dealing with customers all day at bay. In fact, that approach probably contributed to the 20 pounds I gained while working there – stress plus non-stop eating equals jolly with love handles.

I’ve eaten my allotment of pistachios for the day and I feel quite satisfied. I’m not gnawing on my desk or anything. Not even with syrup.