It is officially my favorite time of the year. The temperatures are in a manageable range, sunshine is abundant and there’s a crispness in the air that feels just wonderful. Mother Nature is showing off her colors in all her glory today and I couldn’t help but capture a few photos from the back lawn.  I used my Canon Rebel XS camera in hopes of capturing the depth of the color I see in the leaves. 

It’s such a beautiful sight to keep one focused.

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The leaves are just starting to show their colors in the woods along our back lawn. In about three weeks it’ll be peak leaf peeping season. There will be many oohs and aahs, I’m sure.

The air is very still and quiet here today, even though it’s midday and usually there’s a wind blowing during my lunch hour. The leaves are barely moving. The wind chimes ding only once in a very great while. I like the stillness; I’m hoping that Mother Nature maintains this attitude so that I can enjoy a flight after work tonight.

I ran into a friend last night who asked if I was going to become a flight instructor, as I’m am embarking on the next step of my pilot training at the end of the week. Becoming a flight instructor is my retirement plan. I don’t see me ever fully retiring (and basically doing nothing) as I’m not sure my brain could handle that sort of stillness. I might feel differently in 20 years but right now I like to keep busy doing things that I enjoy doing. I find rest and relaxation in keeping my mind occupied.

Oh how I enjoy the sound of a calm late-summer afternoon. I think I’m going to work outside for the rest of the day. It’s too nice to sit in the basement when I don’t have to.


As I get older and probably more crotchety, I’m finding that I have a very low tolerance for advertising in general on the Internet. In a way, isn’t it ironic, don’t you think, because I used to make my living by writing ad copy for an advertising agency and a group of radio stations. There’s where my uproariously fantastic knack for humor comes from, from writing ads that were suppose to make people giggle as they listened to the morning show on the local radio station and were allegedly titillated by people that were paid to make people laugh and feel slightly sexy by off-color jokes.

What the hell am I talking about?

Oh, the Internet ads. Now, I don’t believe that I need a tin foil hat because after all, tin foil hasn’t been around in a few decades or six, but I’m really not enjoying the tracking that is done on the Internet for the purposes of targeted advertising. I don’t mind tolerating commercials on the radio and I have been known to sit down once or twice a year for live television and I have tolerated those commercials because after all, that’s what we grew up with. Some shill gets paid to tell us why we should ask our doctor for a pill that gives us oily, gassy excitement in our nether regions (among other things that are probably more productive), but I really don’t like having some shill tell me, specifically me, what I should by based on what I mentioned in an email. For example, I off-handedly mentioned in an email that I was going to hang out with friends and there’d be beer and cigars at the event and now I’m being bombarded with ads for cigar companies. I have mentioned a cigar once via my keyboard but all of a sudden I’m getting all these ads. That’s definitely the product of someone tracking me somehow and I’m not liking it. Now that I think about it, it was an email composed on my Google Chromebook and I wasn’t even using an Google services when I composed that email, it was one of my private email accounts, which can only mean someone is monitoring my keystrokes or watching specific words typed into a form using Google Chrome. I have since wiped Google Chrome off my Mac and I’ve shutdown the Chromebook (it’s for sale if anyone with a higher tolerance for banality than I have is interested).

So I’ve decided to start weaning myself off of ad supported services. I’m already six steps ahead in that game because I use primarily Apple products, which cost a lot more but don’t bombard you with advertising. I’ve had the same Google account for many years (Gmail, Google+, Google Maps, etc) but I deleted that earlier this week and that felt amazingly cathartic. Since Gmail was forwarded to my primary email account, the amount of spam/non-desired mail coming in has decreased to about a 1/3 of what it was in less than three days.

The other thing that is really irking me about ads on the Internet is the click-bait articles, especially those aggregated by the news aggregator apps like Flipboard and Zite. A well known tech blog site had an article entitled, “Why Windows 10 leaps ahead of Mac OS X” and because I’m a die-hard Apple boy, I clicked the link. After getting through an ad that blanked out the entire screen until I found the minuscule ‘X’ in the corner and then the auto-start of a video that blared some really cheesy music that I hastily turned off, the article turned out to be no more than five sentences talking about some inane feature in Windows 10 about network password sharing or something. It was a complete waste of my time and it irked me, so I completely deleted Zite, wiped out Flipboard and pledged to start reading the newspapers that I subscribe to instead of scraping the bottom of the Internet for something to entertain me.

While I’m on a bit of rant, I’m also going to mention that an new app on my iPhone or iPad gets ONE opportunity to ask for a rating in the App Store. If they persist in asking for ratings, I will give them a bad rating and delete the app, finding an alternative that is a little less needy. Asking for a rating is a glorified ad to contribute to a glorified ad for their product and I don’t want to be part of the snowball that this whole thing is starting to resemble.

Another service that I deleted today is Pinterest. Honestly, I’ve never quite figured out what Pinterest is for; I stumbled upon it in an Internet search for clocks to add to my collection and all it was was a bunch of pictures taken from other sites and tagged as interesting. Since Pinterest has since bombarded me with emails that have escaped my spam filters, even after I have filled out forms asking for no more emails, I decided that I can just find the damn photos myself and I yelled “Good Riddance!” to Pinterest.

I understand that most of these services make their living off of advertising revenue, just as I did when I worked for the ad agency and radio stations, but as an old-school consumer of sorts, there are some lines that I have drawn in the sand and I’m not going to tolerate companies crossing those lines.

I’d rather pay for my supper than have someone tell me what to eat.


This summer our back lawn has been a social gathering place for various visitors, much more so than in previous years. I don’t know if it’s because we don’t have a resident guard by way of the feline persuasion living with us or what, but every evening we can look outside and see deer, rabbits, turkeys and more. The deer usually come around meal time, whether it be I’m eating lunch during my workday or Earl and I are eating supper. I don’t know if they just have a terrific sense of timing or whether they can smell us grilling and/or cooking, but they like to stop by and see what’s going on.


During one of the last visits from the deer, Mama had two of her kids come along with her. One of them jumped over the creek and into the woods as soon as I stepped foot on the patio, but the other kid and the Mama stayed their ground until I was fairly close to them. Mama then made a noise at me, the kid jumped along the same route as his sibling and then Mama jumped behind the both of them. A quick glance into the woods confirmed that they were just across the creek and looking back through the brush at me.

I enjoy the visits from our neighbors.


I was recently going through some old photos from my childhood and found some pictures from various summers when I was in the late single-digits. I can vividly remember my childhood and can remember many of these photos being taken. Seeing smiling faces in the summertime back in the mid 1970s made me smile again.

One year, I think it was the summer of 1976, the school district offered a daily recreation program at the elementary school. Our family hadn’t moved into the house yet, we were still living in a 10×50 mobile home with an 8×45 addition containing a living room, master bedroom and a laundry room that had room for only the dryer (the washer was in the bathroom in the original trailer). It was a tight space for a family of four, but when the weather was good I would be outside running around, playing on an area called “the path”, which was a dirt path that went down through some maple trees and old grape and other berry vines along the pasture fence. The path was my favorite area to play, it was a road, it was a runway, it was whatever my imagination wanted it to be. And because of its location, my mom could look out the kitchen window and my grandmother could look out any of her back windows and see what I was up to.

However, Mom thought it would be better if my sister and I were away from the trailer and went to recreation at the school, so every morning we were whisked off to the elementary school to see kids that we went to school with. There was a structure to the recreational program, we did gym like stuff on the track and the playground, running and playing ball and whatnot. And then later we’d go inside to the music room (which was the old elementary gymnasium when the school housed all the grades in the district) and do arts and crafts and sing songs and the like.

Looking back on the experience, I can say that I was not amused. I didn’t need the structure, I was getting plenty of exercise playing in the path and jumping the pasture fences and the like and quite frankly I didn’t want to see the kids that I was going to school with when I wasn’t in school. I was a loner. I was quite happy and content with amusing myself without being told how to be amused. Arts and crafts were exceedingly boring to me, I could sing anytime I wanted to and I certainly didn’t want to be riding a school bus in July. But Mom insisted and off to recreation we went. I tolerated it by daydreaming about what I’d do when I got home.

Luckily, recreation didn’t take up the entire summer and by mid August I was back playing on the path and doing my own thing without having to worry about things I found pedestrian: throwing a ball, making popsicle stick trinkets, coloring inside the lines, etc.

It’s no wonder that I rebel at being told what to do.

Customer Service.

This evening Earl and I went shopping at Destiny USA in Syracuse. Destiny USA is the sixth largest mall in the United States. There are many of entertainment, shopping and dining options and it’s one of the reasons that we like going there. It’s something to do in Central New York.

I had a couple of gift certificates for “The Art of Shaving“. I enjoy their products very much and though the local boutique does not have the attached barber shop like other locations throughout the country do, they still have a wide variety of items to making my shaving experience enjoyable. I selected a couple of different soaps and I purchased a new DE (double-edged) razor to use; my current razor will be relegated to travel use and when I’m in the mood for something different but not feeling the need to live dangerously by using my straight razor.

My customer experiences at The Art of Shaving have been hit or miss over the years, though the variance of quality has not been limited to this one location. Actually, the folks at the Destiny USA location have been consistently pleasant. Tonight, Christopher was the sales associate that assisted me with my purchase.

As I was checking out, Christopher made some small talk and asked what I was up to this weekend. I responded, “I’ve been flying airplanes all weekend and will probably continue to do so tomorrow.” I was surprised when Christopher mentioned that he grew up flying a Kitfox, a popular homebuilt airplane that is built from a kit. My grandfather built a Kitfox late in life and had a good time flying it. I asked if he had his license, he said that he didn’t because the Kitfox was no longer available; his grandfather had passed while flying the Kitfox. I mentioned that my Dad had been killed in his homebuilt airplane and that while I had always wanted to become a private pilot, it wasn’t until then that I realized that I had to become a private pilot. We continued with a nice conversation about flying and the awesomeness of it as he finished up ringing the sale. We ended the transaction with a handshake. The look on his face went made it evident that he was happy that we went from just making small talk to actually talking about something that he enjoyed. And it all started because he was pleasant and I returned the pleasantries.

And isn’t that what customer service is all about?

I’m not big on hearing someone’s woes; Earl and I have had too many servers tell us how busy they are instead of smiling and looking at the bright side of life. After visiting “The Art of Shaving” we ate one of the many restaurants at Destiny USA and the server told us about moving to Syracuse from Key West to work at that restaurant (Margaritaville) and how she was still receiving from seeing snow for the first time. Again, just a simple conversation that probably started out somewhat scripted but she was pleasant, we were pleasant and it made for a pleasant experience.

If we could all just be a little more pleasant to one another I think that we would have a more pleasant experience here in the U.S. in the 21st century.

And I think that would be something to smile about.

Happy Independence Day!


When I was a kid, the Fourth of July was spent at my great Aunt Frances’ house. An old farmhouse, she had a decent sized pond with two rowboats that we’d spend most of the day boating around in. One of the boats had a leak and either me or one of my cousins were designated to bail out the boat with a coffee can while the others cruised around on a three-hour tour.

One year, my two youngest cousins on that side of the family got into a fight (they were still aged in the single digits at the time) and made a big spectacle fighting in the intact boat in the middle of the pond. In a classic Laura/Nellie “Little House on the Prairie” moment, my cousin that became an animal keeper at a zoo shoved the cousin that became a Christian missionary out of the boat and into the pond. The velocity of the screams intensified and I might have suggested that there were snakes in the pond (I think I was 12 or so), which probably didn’t help the situation.

Good times, those family gatherings, good times.

We always had birthday cake at this family reunion. For the longest time I thought we were celebrating Independence Day with a birthday cake, which is kind of nifty if you think about it, but we were having cake to celebrate my great Aunt Rena’s birthday, which was July 4. Curiously, I dreamed about Aunt Rena last night, though she’s been gone for at least 15 years. She taught third grade for seemingly hundreds of years. I always likened her to Aunt Clara from “Bewitched”. She had a nice disposition. I enjoyed her.

Today I enjoy celebrating our country’s birthday but I’m not one to go around screaming “We are number one! We are number one!” because I think that’s too showy. I’ll enjoy a few barbecue items, eat some chips, watch some fireworks and thank our founding fathers for coming up with a great way to build a country.

And as others have mentioned around the Internet, no one wears the red, white and blue as well as Lynda Carter.


Having a little more free time to relax and recover yesterday and today, I found myself drifting deep into the early years of my blog. It struck me that my blog will turn 14 years old this summer, with the first entry in what I was calling “my journal” was from August 2001. My first blog entry talked about flying with my Dad in his homebuilt Acro-Sport II for the very first time. The last sentence of the entry, “I imagine I’ll be a private pilot someday.” seemed to be quite accurate.

Reading through the millions of words I have written over the years made me once again miss when I would take the time to sit down and write a blog entry, whether it was a creative missive, a small observation or my attempt of conveying my opinion on any given topic, versus the habit of belching out something witty in 140 characters or less on Twitter or blasting my own horn on Facebook. Over the years many blogs have come and gone and quite frankly, I miss them a lot.  I used to track everyone’s blogs via Google Reader but Google decided that they couldn’t monetize that information stream so they killed that application. I have a couple of other applications that I use instead (Feedly, TT Reader) but the experience isn’t the same. I don’t think the degradation in experience is entirely because of Google Reader’s disappearance; people are just in too much of a hurry to sit down and write a blog entry. So many blogs end like many sitcoms, no final, wrap-up episode, it just ends on a typical note.

I figure if my blog can survive the MySpace era, it can continue to exist in the Twitter and Facebook era. Unlike 90% of the blogs out there which talk about important subjects and have opinion and conjection spun into a representation of the truth, my blog has always been a creative outlet. It’s the precursor to the selfie (and I’d like to think much less obnoxious). It gives insight to my life and the way I think in a more complete manner. Usually I think before I write. I’m not trying to entertain, I’m just trying to be myself here. 

Looking back at the entries I wrote in 2005, when I had the same surgical procedure that I’m recovering from right now, it’s amazing to see how much things have changed and yet stayed the same. The world is in turmoil, I’m obsessed with gadgets and I’m still trying to lose weight. On the last point, with all the weight I’ve lost in my adult years I should be about the weight of a bedsheet by now. Have you ever tried to put skinny jeans on a bedsheet? Not a pretty picture. So what’s changed? I’ve grown a little more conservative in my expectations of the general public and I’m definitely not as salacious as I used to be. I’ve told Earl that once I have the hardware from the surgery removed, I’ll probably be much more randy than I’ve been over the past year or so. He said he’ll prepare for the event and then he smiled.

I don’t think I’ll write about that, though.

With everyone’s reliance on texts and tweets and status updates, I wonder what the world will be like in a decade or two after the “abbreviated communication” crowd grows older. It could be that my blog will still be around, looking as ancient as the penmanship on the Declaration of Independence.

Hopefully it’ll still make people smile.

Elevator Logic.


I started the new chapter of my career this week. I am in Greenville, S.C. and starting the path of “Senior Consultant” at Windstream Communications. I officially have a Virtual Office; I will be doing most of my work from our home office, but if I had decided to move us to Greenville, I’d be working in my own office (complete with door and windows) in the 23rd storey building shown in my photo. Our team is situated on the fifth floor.

I’ve noticed each morning that there is quite a traffic jam at the bank of elevators. I like to think that I’m pretty adept at the operation of an elevator: press the button in the desired direction of travel, await the arrival of an elevator car, step aside to let passengers out of the elevator and then get in, face front, press the button of your desired floor and try not to pass gas. It’s pretty simple.

These people ALWAYS press the elevator call button in BOTH directions, regardless of where they are going. I don’t know if there is some sort of code that I missed in the orientation manual or if it is some secret incantation that only works in the south, but every person that wants to get on the elevator in the lobby calls the elevator by pressing both the up and down button. Invariably the down bound elevator arrives and people pile in. They head down and then in a few moments the same car load of people arrive and the elevator opens the door in response to the “up” request. Because the car is full of people, I’m not stepping foot in the elevator.

Today I was a rebel and joined a couple of other men in the service elevator, even though the sign said “no passengers”. The metal lined walls had a sleek look to them and I figured the elevator was rated for more weight since it was designed for service purposes. Plus, the service elevator doesn’t have CNN blaring in the car like the five other cars (designed for passenger service) do. I’m not a fan of CNN blaring in the elevator.

It covers the sounds of someone passing gas. Without that, there’s no warning.