I am fascinated by the New York State Historic Newspapers archive (nyshistoricnewspapers.org). The archive has scans of numerous newspapers dating back to the early 1800s. Every issue of the two newspapers that were in my hometown, The Pulaski Democrat and The Salmon River News, are available in this archive. Full text searches are available. The interface is quite nice and easy to use.
I have been using this archive to research the airports in the area of my hometown, as well as the building of Interstate 81 and the reconstruction of many roadways in the area. For example, I always wondered why “Confusion Corners” was named as such; it turns out that the intersection of (then) US Route 104 and NY Route 104B was poorly marked, contained a lot of medians in the middle of the roadway and generally created havoc for motorists when it was opened in 1950. There were also several car related fatalities in the area. I had always thought that the roadway was built in the 1960s, but it turns out Confusion Corners was born in 1950. It had a similarly designed, but not as busy sibling at the other end of NY Route 104B, where it intersected with NY Route 3. Both of these intersections have been reconfigured to a standard intersection as of sometime in the 1990s.
After searching around about airplanes and roads, I started looking up the history of various family members over the years. I found an interesting article about my paternal grandfather’s poultry farm, which was awarded by Niagara-Mohawk (the local power company at the time) a mercury vapor light to illuminate the yard. Apparently the farm had a lot of electric equipment and the power company was quite grateful for this consumption, so they award the farm a light.
A smaller farm down the street also received a light for their yard. My grandfather is quoted in the article that accompanied the photo as having a friendly competition with the other farm and that first and foremost they were neighbors and friends.
The photo and article have such a technology-progress vibe so typical of the 1950s and early 1960s to it. I get a kick from the “looking forward” ambiance of the photograph. It reminds me of another photo I found in an archive years ago, where two women, in their 1950s dresses and high heels, are standing under high tension wires in the Finger Lakes, gazing up at the towers carrying the electricity overhead.
It was such a different time back then.
Photo courtesy of Niagara Mohawk Corporation
I am sitting in our local Panera enjoying a nice little supper whilst surfing the Internet on my iPad. I’ve mentioned before that this isn’t one of those nice, cuddly Panera locations with a fireplace and the like. This one is loud, crowded and has the atmosphere of a hospital cafeteria. The space is way too small for the traffic that it tries to accommodate, so they’ve expanded the store a couple of times. I’m sitting in what used to be a bathroom. The self-serve drink station is separated from the lids, napkins and lemons by a hallway. People often spill their drinks in transit.
Because of all the additions to this location, it’s getting more difficult to people watch while enjoying a meal here at this Panera. One of the reasons I mingle in public spaces is because I like to people watch. I don’t necessarily want to interact with people, but I get a kick out of watching people. It’s kind of fun to watch people eat, especially the late teens to mid twenties crowd. They rarely have panache as they like to eat with the mouth full of food. The dot com crowd has no time for table manners.
My bout with the sniffles is coming to a close on schedule. I don’t feel as nearly congested as I did yesterday. That heavy feeling is subsiding. My coughing frequency has been reduced and I’m not feeling as irritable as I did before.
The woman at the cash register, which is dubbed “Tap To Pay”, tried to grab my iPhone out of my hands so she could enter my credit card number by hand instead of letting me do the ApplePay thing. I nearly broke her hand because no one, and I mean no one, touches my iPhone without my permission and I don’t know what she thought she was going to do, because there are no numbers on the screen when it comes to ApplePay. That’s one of the many security features. The slight snag in the payment workflow turned out to be that the cashier hadn’t bothered to press “TOTAL”, which would have told the cash register to start accepting payments. I pointed this out to her and she gave me a blank stare and did some mouth breathing. I refrained from lecturing her on how ApplePay works.
Watching these young ladies talk with their mouths full, whilst they peck at their phones at the same time, makes me wonder if me and my contemporaries were that annoying when we were in high school. Perhaps I’m old and I’m starting to show my age in general old-man-like crankiness.
Eh, I’ve earned this point in my life. I enjoy what I have and what I get to do.
As I continue the battle against SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I decided that I had to go for a walk this morning during my work break.
The weather station was showing 15ºF, so I put on my barn hoodie and then put my ski jacket on over that. I donned my trusty hat and then realized I couldn’t find my gloves, so I put my hands in my pocket and I sucked it up and went for the walk.
I took my normal springtime walk route, which is a little over a mile. I passed by the open meadows that I really love in the springtime and visualized what they would look like three months from now. I wondered what happened to the birds that always go on guard when I walk through there. I hope they are enjoying their vacation somewhere where it is warmer.
The walk improved my mood. Walking outside versus walking on a treadmill and watching television or listening to music makes a world of difference. My mind can’t relax and reset with multimedia artificial input. Sometimes I need to put down the electronic gadgets and just enjoy the moment outside, no matter what Mother Nature is bringing to the area at the moment.
I think I shall do the same again this afternoon.
I’ve been finding myself in a bit of a rut for the past couple of weeks. Getting out of bed in the morning takes more effort than usual. It’s taking me a while to find the motivation to get through the workday. The only thing that really perks me up is seeing my name on the club airplane reservation list and looking forward to the opportunity to fly.
I think it’s the January blahs. I’m reminded of a comment my teacher made in my fifth grade report card, where she said I suffered from the holiday slump. I guess today we call it SAD or Seasonal Affectation Disorder.
Every year I try new things to not feel the seasonal blahs. This year I’ve installed several natural daylight LED bulbs, especially in my office. I have focused on sitting in the sun when it’s available. If the weather is cooperative, I bundle up, brave the reckless drivers on our road and go for a walk, even if my breath does freeze to my face. I do everything I can to drink in whatever natural light I can to feel energized.
I still feel blah.
Luckily, the days are starting to get longer and there’s less than one week left in January. Getting beyond January is a hurdle and once we are in February, spring feels like it’s attainable again. This helps a bit.
To try to cheer myself up this afternoon, I dialed up one of Donna Summer’s last singles. From 2008, it’s “Stamp Your Feet”. Great track, especially if you pay attention to the lyrics.
Even though it’s 19 degrees Fahrenheit today, I had a pressing need to get outside and get some fresh air. January can be a tough month for me if I don’t experience enough sunshine during the month. Living in Upstate New York puts me at a disadvantage.
I decided to bundle up in my ski jacket and get out there and walk. I was fumbling with my phone and forgot to smile.
I did my usual warmer weather walking routine, where I walk about 4000 steps in 20 minutes. The walk is up the hill from the house, around the nearby corner and then I backtrack and come back down the hill.
There was only one close call as I walked along the dirt covered shoulder of the road. A woman oversteered the curve up the hill and scared me enough to make me jump into the little snowbank. I glared at her.
The sunshine did wonders for my spirit and put me in a better mood. I miss being outside. It’s time to start braving the cold, look forward to spring and start getting fresh air again whenever I can.
I was about to write a blog entry about how glancing at social media makes me crazy, but then I realized that I have written about this on several occasions so I decided not to write a long dissertation again. I don’t know if people read personal blogs these days, but if someone read another post about Facebook on this blog, their teeth would probably fall asleep from boredom.
One of my goals for 2015 has been to laser in and focus on something. Focus is not something that comes easily to me because I have a tendency to have several thoughts going on at once in my head. During a work presentation not too long ago, I jumped around on a few subjects at once and then realized that I must have been confusing the audience. I stammered out “I apologize but apparently I’m multithreaded (geek term) and it would seem that I’m firing too many thrusters at once right now.”
This did nothing to ease the tension.
I have been trying to get in the habit of avoiding the time sink of Facebook as part of my morning routine of catching up on the day and I think the results are starting to pay off. When I do go onto Facebook my feed is so scrambled chronologically, as Facebook is trying to show me what it thinks is relevant, I can’t make heads or tails of anything so I just give up and move on to something else.
It seemed appropriate to see this reminder of “the good ol’ days” on New Years Day. This billboard stands along the Thruway next near another Holiday Inn billboard that features the new logo the company adopted a few years ago.
As I celebrate my middleagedness, I reflect on a simpler time as denoted by the more familiar logo. The world seemed a little slower, a little happier and a lot less plastic.
One of the things that I don’t enjoy about the holiday season is the barrage of repeats of our favorite television shows. Unfortunately, this trend of repeating material doesn’t seem to be limited to television, as I noticed that some of the politics-oriented radio I listen to has also adopted this approach, repeating the same top 10 or whatever countdowns over and over since before Christmas.
There are bigger things to worry about in the world, but sometimes it’s the little things that capture my attention.
Earl and I, along with Jamie and Phil, are stationed at a Hampton Inn in Danbury, Connecticut this evening. We made the drive down to celebrate New Year’s Eve at our friends Kevin and Brian’s New Year’s Eve celebration. That’s what one does, celebrate at a celebration. We are looking forward to this festive activity this evening.
I drove us down here and during the four hour ride I let my mind wander a little bit. Don’t worry, I was still paying attention to the road and swearing at other drivers like I usually do, but I was able to think about 2014 in general and I decided that it was a pretty good year. I think 2015 is going to be even better, but 2014 wasn’t bad, not bad at all.
I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year’s celebration and a great start to the New Year.
I haven’t made any resolutions for the New Year in several years. I’ve been pretty happy with the way life has been going along and while I have accomplished a few goals I had for 2014, I didn’t really resolve to accomplish those goals, I just did them. I figured this was a good approach and it must have been, because I feel that I have been successful.
However, the idea of making a few New Years Resolutions has weighed on my mind over the past couple of days. Since I consider myself to be a work in progress, it isn’t surprising that I want to improve some aspects of my existence. I’m never satisfied with my health as I have dreams of becoming some sort of middle-aged superhero, apparently powered by mid-life crises or something. I consider myself a good-looking fixer-upper of sorts, I suppose. I started making the typical list: lose some weight, regain perspective on my career, take the next step in my aviation adventures, etc. But then I decided that I needed only entry on my resolution list:
Live each moment as if it was your final moment.
Living this way inspires me to be at the top of my game all the time. Am I happy? Am I productive? Am I contributing more than I’m taking? Am I doing something in that moment that I would want to be part of my legacy?
So instead of making a list of resolutions, I’m going to do my very best to do one thing in 2015: live each moment as if it was my last. I have a few goals that I will strive to achieve and few things I want to do and I few adventures I want to experience, but they will all be a string of moments.
And I will make those moments be the very best they can be.