Rut.

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.

Sunshine.

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.

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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.

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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.

New Routine.

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.
 
 

Legacy.

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.

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Repeat.

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.

New Year’s Eve.

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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.

Moments.

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.
 
 
 
 

Mediageddon.

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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.

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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.