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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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.

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!

Stone Arabia.

Once in a while I’ll take the long way home after a day at the office. This helps me separate the work day from home life and honestly, it’s a pretty drive when I take the long way, even during a long winter such as this one.

The long way home involves driving through a small hamlet called Stone Arabia. This little hamlet is situated along NY Route 10 and is primarily flat farmland to the north of the Mohawk Valley. Many Amish live in the area. The wide open spaces feel very comfortable to me, even with the winter winds whipping across the farmland.

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If Earl ever told me that he wanted to live in an old farmhouse again, we’d definitely look for something around this tiny little hamlet. I could find it quite peaceful there.

There are plenty of old, stately farmhouses in the area. I thought this photo captured a great moment at the end of a great day.

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Move.

So this morning I weighed myself and verified that I have gained 10 pounds since my trip to Minneapolis in mid-November. I’m not surprised at my weight gain, after all, there’s been plenty of holiday meals, other celebrations and a trip to Disney. Couple this with a lack of outdoor activity and my basic hatred of the gym during these wonderful winter months and it all adds up. A while ago I would have been sad about this but today I’m just more determined. On the bright side, it’s only a third of what I originally lost.

The thing is, I’m over what I consider my personal tipping point. When I’m above a certain weight my blood pressure tends to go up and I can just feel it. I need to get below that point and get back into a healthier place. Instead of freaking out and drop-kicking the scale, I did a couple of things today to get my mind back to where it belongs:

1. I’m standing at my home-office desk again. Sitting in a chair all day is awful on the human body. I don’t believe we were really designed for this and this is one of the reasons that I am feeling sluggish.

2. I’m headed back to the chiropractor today. I’ve had some schedule collisions with my regular chiropractor appointments and it’s been five weeks since my last visit. I need to get back on that regular schedule. Some debate the merits of chiropractic care, but I know that when I go to the chiropractor on a regular basis I always feel better. I have a cold for the first time in a couple of years and I think part of that is because I haven’t been to the chiropractor recently.

3. I recently passed my FAA Class 3 Medical Exam, which certifies me as being healthy enough to fly an airplane with a private pilots’ certificate. That is great, but the truth of the matter is that I want to be more than a private pilot, I want to be a Certified Flight Instructor someday, and in order to do that I’ll need to pass an FAA Class 2 Medical Exam. When I went in for my exam on Friday, I was worried about my blood pressure readings, which actually increased my blood pressure. The FAA requirements are actually quite liberal (my doctor would yell at me for having a higher blood pressure if I was well within the FAA requirements, which is at least 155/95) and to think that I needed to calm down to get my blood pressure below that liberal threshold kind of scares me. As I mentioned before, my blood pressure tends to creep up with my weight, so I need to get my weight down to naturally pull my blood pressure down.

4. Most importantly, I need to move. When I work from home I ride my stationary bike at least twice a day. While it’s movement, I don’t think it’s doing much for me, despite what the calorie indicator says. So today I went outside and walked, despite the snow roads and the cold temperatures. I walked my summertime route this morning and I felt fantastic afterwards.

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It was most refreshing.

5. I started concentrating on eating *sensible* calories instead of just eating calories. I’ve been keeping track of my calories right along with the MyFitnessPal app, but the fact of the matter is, sometimes it’s eating the right calories that actually counts. So that’s where my focus is again.

I’m not hysterical and I’m not really disappointed in my recent weight gain. I’m sure I can lose the extra weight and then some just by getting back on track again.

Now, if I just had a magic way to make the weather cooperate!

Almanac.

I just read the Old Farmer’s Almanac to see what they’re saying about the weather for this year. They’re right on target for this week, back to cold and snow but things look better starting next week. The summer will be hotter than normal and dry. Let’s hope they know what they’re talking about.

One thing that was not in the Almanac was a prediction for the bout of sniffles that I currently have. I met with an FAA Medical Examiner (doctor) last week for my required exam. He was sniffly but said he wasn’t contagious. But now I have the sniffles. There must have been Kryptonite in his equipment.

For a Monday with loads of meetings and a bout of the sniffles, today is still a pretty good day. I don’t know if it was yesterday’s backseat flying, mulling over Trade-A-Plane to see what airplane I would like to buy or the fact that I went to a luau over the weekend that has me in good spirits. But I’m not going to complain.

I even feel inspired to start writing in my blog again. Let’s see if I can get back into the groove.

Photo on 2-22-14 at 8.49 PM

Relax.

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So yesterday was Monday and it was a crappy mood. After writing yesterday’s blog entry I decided I needed to do something about my crappy mood and I went upstairs and got cleaned up for the day. When I woke up yesterday morning I waited until the last minute to get out of bed, showered quick and then threw some “whatever” clothes on so I could work from home. I think feeling scruffy contributed to my mood yesterday, so at lunch time I cleaned myself up a little more and tried to feel more presentable. This helped my mood a little bit.

What really helped my mood was a message from my flight instructor indicating that a slot was open late yesterday afternoon and that we could so some flight training.

Now that’s more like it!

So what started out as a “meh” day segued into an awesome afternoon, where I enjoyed flying in the calm, clear skies, practiced emergency maneuvers and I did my first practice emergency landing on the runway. It was awesome. The procedures I have been learning are starting to come naturally to me and I’m “feeling” the airplane more as I fly. It is a wonderful feeling.

Today my good mood continues. I’m all cleaned up and though a little sleepy, I’m feeling good. Work is hectic but I’m trying to remain laid back about the whole thing. There’s no sense in getting all worked up about work, especially when it’s a means for funding my passion of aviation.

Sunshine.

I am trying really, really, really hard to not let the winter weather get me down. Today is a beautifully sunny day but it’s still cold out. We have a lot of snow. I want to feel warm. I want to enjoy the outdoors. I’m tired of shivering.

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It feels like it has been a long winter, though the calendar says we are still a month away from the “official” start of spring. It can’t get here soon enough.

Obstinate.

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So it’s snowing very hard here at the abandoned Burger King near work. There are no signs of people trying to use the non-existent drive thru today, but there are footprints in the snow where people have trekked up to the front door. When I started this blog entry two men were walking through a snowbank to get to the front door. The driveway of the abandoned Burger King has not been plowed. I am thankful for having a four-wheel drive Jeep Rubicon.

I’m working at the office today because people expected me to stay home. Most of those that have a cubicle near me are working remotely; the office is very quiet. After meetings this morning I plan on being productive this afternoon.

When I walked in this morning, albeit five minutes late due to weather related delays, I received some applause from the comedians in the cube farm; phrases like “J.P. made it”, “nothing slows J.P. down” were heard as I made my way to my cubicle, still wearing my winter hat and gloves.

The drive into work wasn’t awful. The state maintained roads weren’t plowed at all, probably because all the schools in the area have closed for this latest bout of weather related hysteria, but the Thruway was in fairly good shape. I was able to maintain 55-60 mph for 80% of the ride on the Thruway, the other times I was between 45 and 50, hence the lateness of my arrival at work. I usually get to my cubicle 15 minutes ahead of my intended time. I don’t like to be late.

In Central New York I believe one has to use some caution, plan ahead and then be sensible about their travel in inclement weather, but I do not believe that this sort of stuff during what is turning out to be a “normal” winter in these parts should leave you stranded in your house all year. Seasons are made to be enjoyed, so one should find enjoyment wherever they can.

Now, I might be cranky if I was scheduled to fly today but luckily my lesson was yesterday. That was awesome.

Today, spending time in the snow is where it’s at. I don’t mind a bit.

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Passion.

Some have noticed that I haven’t written in the blog for nearly two weeks. There are a couple of reasons for this and to those of you that reached out to make sure that I was OK, have no fear, my life is better than ever.

A while back I commented that I had hoped to do more with my blog, after all, it’s been around for over 12 years and I’ve met some really nifty people as a result of having this blog. But the times have changed and since blogging was around long before the big social networks, I’ve started to wonder how “out loud” I want to live my life. I’ve been pretty open and honest in my musings on this blog thing and lately I haven’t felt the need to be that way. I think I’ve become more accustomed to the controlled atmosphere of the social networks, where I have control of who is seeing what content. With my blog in its current format, I don’t really have that luxury.

I still love to write but I’m feeling the need to write about specific topics these days. This blog has been a catch-all for everything that has gone on in my life since August 2001, and that’s all well and good, I suppose, but again, there’s that privacy issue that I’m started to be conscious of.

Another thing that kind of irked me about my blog is that I received an email from a person who wanted to start contributing to my blog because I haven’t written enough about a certain subject. Years ago I wrote a blog entry about a long-gone discount department store chain and it still ranks quite high when you search for that chain on Google. The comments to that one entry have connected many former employees together and I think that’s wonderful. That being said, I don’t want to devote a blog to discount department store chains, I just don’t have that interest and quite frankly this is my sandbox and the only other person that would ever be allowed to write in this blog is Earl and he’s going to that he would say, “not in your dreams.”

I am thinking about writing about my flight training and my journey to becoming a private pilot. My lessons are going well, yesterday I started the “next chapter”, as it is, with slow flight and turns at a point. I still can’t describe how much I love flying but when I’m in the airplane, all cares, concerns and worries melt away as soon as we lift off the runway. Learning to become a pilot requires focus, discipline and a whole bunch of work, but those elements are effortless for me because, well, I get to fly! I don’t think I want to write about my student pilot journey on this blog, so I haven’t quite figured out how I want to parse that information out yet. There are a lot of pilots that film their flights, edit them to a beautiful presentation and then share them on YouTube and/or their personal webspaces. I’m not ready for the filming part yet, I’d be too distracted, but the writing part, that’s something I think I’ll do.

I mentioned to Earl that I was really considering just shutting down this blog but he urged me to think about it for a while before doing so. So I’m going to leave it here for now and see if the mood strikes me again when the days get longer or something.

In the meanwhile, I’m here, all is well and I’m lucky because I’m a guy that’s learning how to fly.

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Photo courtesy of another student that rode along and snapped a photo during my lesson yesterday.