Mediageddon.

IMG_0004-0.PNG

Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel® has set up shop in nearby Syracuse to cover the Nor’Easter that promises to wreak havoc on Central New York over the next 48 hours. There’s probably a name for the storm but I think naming winter storms is the epitome of stupidity so I’m not going to bother to look up the name. Yes, I’m one of those people that complains when someone tells me that “Wanda Wind” is blowing through on a sunny day.

Our electronic gadgets have been buzzing, beeping and vibrating various states of Weather Catastrophe™ since midday yesterday. So far we have had quite a bit of rain and above freezing temperatures. It is currently 33º. Not to be deterred by the unpredictability of weather, folks are driving as if we are in the midst of a blizzard and adjusting their driving “skills” to maximum unpredictability in a predictable manner. I can’t wait until it is socially unacceptable to have an IQ lower than the speed limit.

The reason people are driving like idiots in what amounts a mediocre amount of rain, and then stocking up on bread and milk in mass quantities, is because the media is telling them to do this. I’m sure Mr. Cantore is standing on Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse begging Mother Nature to throw a snowball at him. He’s probably dancing around in some sort of Weather Channel® Ritualistic Dance that involves chanting names of clouds and pellets of precipitation and waving off folks that run behind him on camera having a grand ol’ time in whatever Mother Nature is offering at the moment.

The thing is, folks in these parts don’t really get that hysterical about a snow storm. Well, at least, we never used to, until King Andy™ decided that all of New York State should be gripped in typical downstate terror when it comes to “severe” weather. Who knew that pearls clutching could be such an art? I can’t wait until that’s out of style and pearls are back on Mrs. Cleaver where they belong.

After reading stories about the Discovery Channel staging a man being eat by a snake earlier this week, I’m pretty much giving up any sort of semblance of credibility when it comes to the media.

In the meanwhile, I hope that Mr. Cantore remembers to chant the names of the various stages of sunshine, (Sally Sunshine is a favorite) and that he gets his wish of lots of snow.

We’ll be able to show him that yeah, it snowed, and life goes on just fine in these parts.

Indecision.

Today I was suppose to fly with an FAA examiner for my Private Pilots License checkride. Because I have a habit of getting stressed about this sort of thing, I haven’t had a lot of sleep over the past three nights. I was able to eek out 6-7 hours each night, so it isn’t like I’m a walking zombie, but I’m not feeling like I’m at optimal levels. This sometimes happens to a middle aged man such as myself.

I arrived at the airport about 90 minutes before my scheduled time. This gave me the opportunity to do my thorough pre-flight of the airplane and then I had time to take the airplane up and go around the pattern to get a feel for what the winds were like up there. It was windy on the ground but the direction of the wind wasn’t awful, there’d be a little crosswind but nothing out of my comfort level.

The short flight was routine. I took a few moments to marvel at how wonderful it is to fly and to relish in the disbelief that I am fully capable of flying an airplane all by myself. There are days that I can’t believe that I can do that sort of thing, but there I was, flying an airplane at pattern altitude, talking to Air Traffic Control like it’s second nature and buzzing along at 100 MPH.

As I came in to land, it was evident that the winds were picking up a bit. I describe them as “burbly”, where the windsocks at each end of the runway are basically pointing in random directions and occasionally at each other. This made landing the airplane slightly tricky, but again, it wasn’t anything outside of my general comfort level. I wouldn’t fly in this kind of wind for fun, but I would do it for training purposes.

I then wondered if that was the type of weather I wanted to be flying in for this checkride, which is basically the final exam to earn my pilots license.

I decided to hold off on the exam. The examiner was gracious; we covered some ground school stuff that we needed to cover any way and he indicated that he would be available all week with a little bit of notice. I let my instructor know the same and he urged me to reconsider; he knew I was more than capable of flying in those particular conditions. I did reconsider and conctacted the examiner, letting him know that I’d touch base with him in an hour to reassess the situation.

The winds never died down. I had the option of doing part of the exam and then finishing up when the conditions were favorable. Basically, this would mean doing all the manuevers during flight and then putting the evalution on “pause” and then just landing the airplane without fear of failing the exam if the landings were to go less than great.

I decided against that approach. I ended up sitting at the airport for nearly two hours, trying my best to will the winds down to a more manageable level but Mother Nature had other plans. I finally called the examiner and gave the final no-go of the day. I advised my instructor of the same and headed home and took a nap.

My apparent indecision added to my stress level today and stress isn’t good for a person flying an airplane. I’m confident with my decision today, but I’m not completely happy with the way the day went.

Nevertheless, with the Winter Storm Warning being blared about these parts for the next few days, it looks like I’ll have 72 hours or so to get my head straight, get some sleep and then think about flying again. I’m hoping either Friday or this weekend.

Whenever it happens, I know that I’ll be more decisive about it.

Shopping.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 11.04.21 PM

UPS has stopped at the house every day this week. Packages have been delivered fast and furiously with care. My Christmas shopping is almost complete. I’m excited about this because I haven’t stepped one foot in a mall or big box store with the intent of Christmas shopping. Like a true blooded geek, all of my shopping has been done online.

I made my shopping experience a little easier this year by taking photos of UPC codes and price tags on items all year long. Now that’s it’s officially the shopping season, I simply Google the information from a photo and I strive to buy it from a small or mom and pop type outlet. If I can’t do this, I go to Amazon. I’m really good friends with Amazon.

I thought I would be a little sad about not being engaged with the traditional holiday rush of battling others for a parking space, honking the horn, sliding down decorative landscapes outside of the mall when trying to traverse remote parking locations and then frivolity of passing gas to get people to get away from me at the JC Penney. I don’t really miss it at all. As a holiday treat I’m going to leave our UPS man a nice tip because he’s been good to us all year and remembers where we like our packages to be left without prompting.

Click a way click a way, click your joy today. Oh what fun it is to shop in a most technological way, hey!

I just made that up.

Intrigue.

I think I mentioned earlier this year that our merry little household is on the cutting edge of technology in that we are cord-cutters. We got rid of our very expensive satellite TV service, shunned the offerings from our local cable company and did what our forefathers did back in the good ol’ days, we put a TV antenna on our roof. With the conversion to digital television signals at the end of the ’00s, the TV antenna grabs us nearly 40 channels, many of which are actually enjoyable. We have classic television, home shopping networks, a wide selection of offerings similar to what you see on cable or satellite. We supplement our free TV reception with iTunes, Amazon Prime and the like. It is all working quite well for us and we are enjoying the money we are saving on our entertainment bill (at least as far as television is concerned).

There are three new shows from this season that we have ended up becoming invested in, the first being “Madam Secretary”.

A663BC42-B2EF-25EE-DE343005F2B7413C.jpg.pagespeed.ce.nVH3SZdAK8
Photo courtesy of Broadwayworld.com

Téa Leoni stars as Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord. This show has to be my top pick for the 2014-2015 season thus far and I look forward to a new episode every week. What I like about this show is Hollywood’s version of DC and various politics; it’s like it’s “The West Wing” of the Two-Thousand-Teens. I was sad to see that the show is on break until mid January but am happy to see that it will be going for a full season. The show gets better with each episode. The characters have depth and the plot weaves in and out quite well.

Just last week Earl and I discovered what I have already dubbed my second favorite show of the season and that’s “How To Get Away With Murder”.

YRKFRk6mQTs.showposter_hq
Photo courtesy of ABC

We caught a repeat of the pilot episode Thanksgiving night and was delighted to see that ABC ran the second episode on Thanksgiving night as well. We are still getting used to where we are in the plot and what characters are doing and the like but this one roped us in quick and hard. It’s part of Shondaland and I have to admit that while we were never “Grey’s Anatomy” fans, we did enjoy “Private Practice” early in its run and this one blows “Private Practice” out of the water. There’s an intensity of this series that is quite appealing and honestly, the gratuitous sex scenes (gay and straight) are quite nice for this middle-aged viewer.

Our third pick of the season is “The Mysteries of Laura” starring Debra Messing as detective Laura Diamond.

-1
Random photo courtesy of lareputada.com

I wasn’t sure how this was going to pan out, I mean, when people see Debra Messing they still think “Grace Adler” from Will and Grace, well, at least I do, even if I did enjoy her during the first season of “Smash”. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to accept Ms. Messing as a detective, but the quirky show has me hooked and it’s because of its quirkiness. Like “Madam Secretary”, the characters are fleshing out nicely and the twists and turns in the flow of the plot keep me engaged. Another one that I look forward to.

The only thing that I’m not enjoying about these new shows is the abbreviated seasons that we now get from the networks. Back in the day shows had 25, 30, heck even 35 episodes in one season. Now we’re lucky if we get 22 episodes in one season and they’re all split up between ratings tallying months.

So these are our three winning series of the season thus far. Thank goodness for streaming on demand so we can watch them again until the new episodes come out in late January.

Hopefully they won’t interfere with our “Downton Abbey” viewing.

Shopping.

I have become one of those people that does the majority of Christmas shopping online. My family members have been instructed to not get the mail nor are they allowed to shake, inspect, rattle or open any packages that come by the myriad of delivery services we have in this area. Honestly, I wish our packages were delivered by drone, but that technology hasn’t caught on yet.

When someone was programming me to be born, they left the shopping option completely out of my gay gene. I don’t get breathless over shoes, I don’t enjoy the challenge of slugging blue-haired women that try to grab a cheap television out of my hands, I don’t relish the merriment of tinny, crappy Christmas Carols coming out of a low-fidelity speaker.

I used to amuse myself during the holiday shopping season by figuring out which stores were using the point of sale software that I contributed to back in the 1980s, but now they all run the same generic crap on beat up computers and even the geek side of me is no longer interested in the “merriment” of shopping.

Thank goodness for Amazon.

Thankful.

I’ve been in a funk for the past couple of days. Moody. Glum. Blue. My usual joviality hasn’t been around and while I have been feeling this way, I have been bothered about feeling this way. I don’t like feeling this way.

As I slept in this morning, weaving in and out between reality and the dreamworld, I asked myself why I was feeling glum and blue and I couldn’t really find an answer. My life is great. I’m happily in love. My health is good for being in my middle ages. My career is on track and I’m able to engage in my passion for flying with ease.

I’m thankful for all of these things.

To pull myself out my funk, I decided to go back and review old entries in my blog from around the same time of year. As I virtually flipped pages through the last 13 years (the length of time this blog has been around), I found more and more reasons to celebrate Thanksgiving. And realising how good my life is, even when I feel glum and blue, made me realise that I really had no reason to feel the way I was feeling.

So on this Thanksgiving I am thankful for too many things to mention, and this makes me smile.

Happy Thanksgiving, unless you’re visiting from outside the U.S., then a happy Thursday to you.

And So It Begins.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States and right on schedule, my dearest husband has begun the meal preparations 27 hours in advance. He’s one hell of a cook and I didn’t even find that out until after I fell in love with him.

IMG_0177

Sometimes it’s just meant to be.

I sent a brief note to Kmart this morning expressing my displeasure with that fact that they’re opening all of their stores at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. I really don’t care if people shop on Thanksgiving; if they want to be crass in that fashion they are more than welcome to do so, however, I do feel bad for all of the folks that have to work on Thanksgiving, especially if they’re working at a retail establishment that provides absolutely no essential services whatsoever. Kmart responded to me, advising that they strive to give their customers and team members a pleasant holiday experience. I still maintain that they’re choice to open so early on a U.S. holiday is indicative of desperation and that The Savings Place will be merely a memory in a year or two.

I still miss Hills.

10152088399947436

I am working a full day both today and on Friday, though I may sneak a flight into my schedule Friday morning as I am thisclose to getting my private pilot’s license. I think once I get beyond my checkride then I’ll be able to relax and enjoy the holidays. Working from home isn’t exceedingly stressful. One of the many things I am thankful for is the fact that I have a pretty sweet gig when it comes to my career.

The folks to the East of us are freaking about because there’s six or so inches of snow predicted for their area. I ask them to head to Buffalo and see what real snow is like but they don’t like to be distracted from their drama.

It’s snowing here and I find it to be quite beautiful.

IMG_0178

Time.

32 years ago on Thanksgiving Day I accidentally slid down a pile of chicken manure, fell through the a hole in the barn floor and whacked a tractor with my left arm before landing on the cement ground floor of the barn. I jumped up and grabbed my left elbow. My sister laughed because I looked like I was running around like one of the villains on Scooby Doo.

sd-ep-13a

My mom had to make a few phone calls to get a physicians assistant to open up the nearest medical facility, which was called NOCHSI. This was in the days before 911 and associated hysteria. The nearest official emergency room was over 35 miles away. It was determined that my left elbow was either broken, sprained, dislocated or disconnected, but they put my arm in a sling and told me to go to the doctor during normal office hours.

It turns out my elbow was fractured and keeping my arm in a sling for the next six weeks would get me on the mend immediately. To this day I know when it’s going to rain because my left elbow was rewired for that sort of thing during this incident.

Thanksgiving took place 10 days ahead of the school play that year; the drama club would be presenting “Mame” (the musical version). I had a very prestigious part as one of Mame’s guests during the “It’s Today!” number. I can still creak out the bass part of the song if I put my mind to it.

My mom wanted me out of the play but I had some sort of early gay actor hissy fit and she acquiesced like she normally did. No words were necessary, just a glare followed by a look of resignation. My dad’s response was predictable, a smile followed by the word “huh”. That meant “I love you”.

When I went back to school and the subsequent after hours rehearsal for this part, I was approached by a girl a couple of years older than me. She told me that I needed to drop out of the play because Mame’s guests did not have a sling on their arm. Now, the director of the play, one of the music teachers who was a truck of a lesbian but with a heart of gold, didn’t have a problem with the sling, but this fellow cast member told me, in no uncertain terms, that it was bad enough that I was ruining the play with the way that I walk and talk but having a sling was just going to make it worse. It was going to accentuate the freak in me. She hoped I would be dead or something like that.

Ah, the days of jovial chatter amongst classmates. The teamwork of a cast and all that.

I held my ground and appeared throughout the decades the storyline called for in “Mame”, sling and all, and I just walked and talked the way I usually walked and talked on stage. There was no glitter or drag races or anything, just me being me as one of Mame’s guests and everyone survived. There was a standing ovation at each of the shows and this was before people gave standing ovations and applause for shows that achieved the basics of theatre (don’t fart into the microphone). Reviews in the two newspapers made no mention of my sling nor my walk.

For some reason I dreamed about this last night, with a particular focus on being dressed down in front of everyone for my sling and well, my general physical, mental and emotional demeanor. Curious, I found the old hag (my words, not hers) on Facebook and it confirmed what I thought, her “likes” included the likes of Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin for President, Michele Bachmann and Walmart.

It’s odd to me that my psyche would decide to bring this old topic up over three decades later in the way of a dream; I had pretty much forgotten the incident (and fixed the scars from it) but now that I’ve had the dream I can relive the incident in my head as if it was yesterday.

Whatever the reason that this was dredged up 32 years later, all I know is that I survived the ordeal just fine.

And my elbow says it’s going to snow today.

Williamsport, Pa.

Earl and I took the day off from work yesterday because we were in the mood to do so. As we approach the end of the year we find ourselves with some extra PTO time that needs to be burned off before 2015 and we like to burn the days off in small doses, so we’ll probably enjoy a long weekend a couple of times before the end of the year.

We are meandering through the central portion of the Keystone State. Earl used to live here in Williamsport, Pa., so after supper we walked through the downtown area (do they call this “Center City” or is that only a Philadelphia thing?) and he showed me where his old apartment is located.

We are relaxed. We are content. Things are good.

Hysteria.

Nearly three decades ago I was sitting in the break room of a regional department store, enjoying my 15-minute break from sharing my social security number with hundreds of customers1. There were several of us on break. A television sat in the corner; we were excited because cable had just been added to the mix. Headlines were being discussed on CNN, the topic at hand was the growing AIDS epidemic. One of my co-workers spoke up. Her name was Kelly.

“I think we should gather up all the AIDS patients, put them on a rocket and blast them off to Mars.”

I found this to be rather harsh. After all, at the time we didn’t really know a lot about the disease and though it seemed rather scary, we should probably still keep our wits about ourselves and not overreact. I don’t remember what I said in response, probably something non-committal, because I was still navigating as to who I was and honestly I was worried about becoming a statistic. I needed to know more before speaking on the subject with confidence.

Fastforward to present day and CNN and many other flavors of a similar brew are all vying for advertising money. In that quest to increase revenue, conjecture, opinions and claims are all spun in a certain direction so to yank in the viewer, and subsequently, boost ratings. Pundits are calling to block air travel to and from Africa, where Ebola is most prevalent. People are showing up at the airport in homemade hazmat suits. In short, many are just losing their minds amongst the hype (and I bet the woman in the hazmat suit REALLY wanted her photo to go viral).

Like the day I sat in that break room at the department store, I don’t feel confident enough in my assessment of the facts to make a broad statement as to ban flights to and from an entire continent. I mentioned on Twitter that since folks are calling for a ban for air travel to and from Africa, we might as well do the same with Texas, since that’s where Ebola patients are being treated in the States. This horrified some and I understand why it would do just that. It’s crazy talk.

I believe that a lot of the hysteria around the Ebola situation is media driven. That grab for ad clicks and viewerships and all that stuff prompts for outrageous headlines and bombastic statements from folks that are just trying to get attention. Instead of spending time how to figuring out how to help fellow human beings, folks are spending time screeching about sealing ourselves off from the perceived threat. Calls for locking door our border in this manner is nothing but grandstanding.

Folks forget that it’s one Big Blue Marble that we all share together. Borders are man made and locking down a border is not going to stop anyone from getting anywhere they want to go on this Big Blue Marble. If you’re that concerned that you’re going to contract Ebola on a flight then here is a simple answer: don’t fly. Just keep it all here in the States and don’t step foot on an airplane. And if you choose to fly, don’t lick the vomit or blood of another passenger, because after all, Ebola is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids.

The hysteria around all of this would not be this crazy if we weren’t only three weeks from the midterm elections2. You know it and I know it, that is, if you knew that the midterm elections are three weeks away to begin with.

Calm down and think rationally.

1 I was a cashier at said department store. The first bit of information on the cash register receipts from back then, aside from the logo at the top, was the cashier ID number, which was our social security number. My social security number was shared with thousands of people.

2 Please remember to vote on Tuesday, November 4. Honestly, I don’t care how you vote, but I do care that you remember to vote. You have the right to share your voice through the voting process and if you don’t vote, you’re not being a good citizen of this democracy.