New Adventures.

Earl sent me a text message early this morning telling me that his position at work had been eliminated and he had been “retired”. Luckily 21+ years of service meant a decent severance package. We are tightening our belts but we are not drowning. With this change we are moving from Oliver and Lisa to Abner and Gladys. We’re nowhere near Ralph and Alice. We’ll be fine.

The only thing that has tied us to our current location is Earl’s job. My job is fairly mobile, I work from home so I could probably relocate and continue with my current job. Earl is taking some time off from the grind to decide what he wants to do. Retire early? Find another job? Start a new career? The possibilities are endless.

The thing is that we both see this as the beginning of a new chapter of our life together. There’s no ending, just moving on to whatever lies ahead. Who knows, maybe we’ll move somewhere where I can keep an eye on the house across the street.

Let the whooshing noises commence.

Yoko.

A decade or so ago, UK Dance Group Bimbo Jones remixed Yoko Ono’s “You’re The One”.  Originally released in 1984, this 21st century remix caught my attention back toward the end of my moonlighting career as a club DJ. I hadn’t thought about the song in ages but for some reason it popped into my head as I was getting out of bed this morning and just kind of stuck there.

I don’t know a lot about Yoko Ono. I know she was married to John Lennon. Some say she broke up The Beatles. I’ve seen video of her screaming and wailing into a microphone as people applauded her display of artistry. I guess she’s deep, way out and her own person. One cannot be denied for being their own person.

It turns out that today is National Peace Day, and if anyone is for world peace, it’s Yoko Ono. I follow her on Twitter. She says things that are deep. Her tweets make me thing and reflect on my own place in this world. After reading a tweet from Yoko Ono I am left to ponder as to what I can do to improve my contribution to this world. It’s nice to see someone tweet a thought of value. It doesn’t have to be witty, pithy or even breezy. Pondering is good.

To finally ride today’s ear bug to its conclusion, I dug up the remix of “You’re The One” on YouTube.  Enjoy.

1 Comment

Distraction. Addiction.


Mark over at Voenix Rising shared a very interesting article in New York Magazine by Andrew Sullivan regarding society’s addiction to today’s technology.  One quote in particular caught my attention:

“Kara, in her 50s, feels that life in her hometown of Portland, Maine, has emptied out: ‘Sometimes I walk down the street, and I’m the only person not plugged in … No one is where they are. They’re talking to someone miles away. I miss them.’”

It’s funny that this article should pop up in my feed at this moment. During my morning walk/break from work, I was wondering if I should try going without my Apple Watch for the next 48 hours to see how it would make me feel. I also remembered that I have an aviation social engagement tonight and that perhaps I should leave my iPhone out in the Jeep while I attend the festivities. 

I believe that I should be the change I would like to see in the world.

You can read the article here.

Thank you, Mark!

Connections.

Over the past several months I have attended several gatherings, whether it be with friends, family, other pilots, etc. This is not unusual, summertime in Central New York encourages this sort of merriment. People like to get together. I enjoy getting together with folks, breaking bread, chatting, having a beer. 

One thing that I’ve noticed in the recent gatherings is that conversation starters have been regularly prefaced with statements like, “Did you see on Facebook that I…” or “We went down south for a for a few days, or did you see the photos on Facebook…”.

Facebook has become as prevalent at a family picnic as potato salad and ants.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. There is nothing spectacular about the software, in fact, it’s downright awful. The interface is clumsy, the experience is mediocre at best. Facebook doesn’t really have a product outside of user data. Personal information is monetized.

Yet, everyone uses it. And it pounds at people to keep using it.

Personally I’m horrified at the idea of putting all of my digital eggs in one electronic basket, only to be used for ad-revenue generating purposes. However, I can’t help but continue to use Facebook because it’s the platform that is connecting family and friends to one another in this electronic age. Personal blogs such as these are all but extinct (thanks for hanging around, by the way). Organizations are no longer vying for websites about their group but instead reaching out through a Page on Facebook. Debates are taking place on Facebook, though many of the debates that pass through on my stream seem to be quite idiotic. How do I know these people again? I recently heard that coaches and the like are reaching out to parents through Facebook Messenger instead of using traditional vehicles like email, the telephone or typed out memos printed on ditto paper.

I’ve always hoped that Facebook would become the next MySpace, where people abandon the platform in droves and move onto the next big thing, but the roots of Facebook seem to be pretty deep. It would take something really, really big to sway people away from Facebook. And as awful as the service is, those roots are deep because of one thing it’s doing really well, and that’s connecting people.

Clickity Click Click Click.

As a software developer I spend a lot of time typing of computer keyboards. Because of this I am rather picky about the keyboard that I use as my daily driver. Modern PC keyboards of the 2000s tend to be quite mushy and breakdown over time. The latest trend in keyboards has been those low-profile, nearly zero-travel chicklet type keys. This is a result of many PC manufacturers trying to follow the lead that Apple started with this trend. I guess most people forget that the old Atari home computers in the 1980s had similar chicklet keys. I didn’t like them then and I don’t like them now.

My full-sized, wired (the horror!) Apple keyboard start showing signs of a slow death last week so I was in the market for a new keyboard for my home office setup. I have a couple of Apple wireless Bluetooth keyboards lying around, but since I have a pretty robust setup for my home office, I’d like to use a full-sized keyboard for my full-sized needs.

Back in the day I loved the old IBM “Model M” keyboards. These are the ones that are really loud and clicky. The keycaps and the arrangement of the alphabetic keys are reminiscent of the old IBM Selectric Typewriters. The feel, the pressure, the response are all typewriter like. Those old Model M keyboards were fantastic to type on and I was always able to fly along at a rapid pace when placed in front of those keyboards. One of the best things my Mom ever did was allow me to type on her typewriter growing up, but with very strong encouragement to use the correct fingerings for typing. 40 years later I am still able to type over 100 words per minute.

Before buying a new keyboard I went into my technological boneyard and found a full-sized Apple keyboard from the early 2000s. This was from one of our old white cased iMacs. They keys are white and the whole keyboard has that translucent Apple feel to it. Typing on it is alright but it’s nothing to write home about. I can fly along pretty well but the response was mushy.

Still dreaming about the IBM Model M keyboards from days of past, I went searching on the Internet and found that Unicomp makes a variant of the old IBM Model M keyboard, including a model made specifically for Mac! I know, the horror, but having an IBM designed keyboard with an Apple layout would be quite cool and in my eyes would be the best of both worlds. The keyboards are fairly pricey, but they’re built like a tank and the keyboard should theoretically last me a long time. So I ordered one.

Today my Unicomp Mac Buckling Spring keyboard arrived. I was ecstatic!


Typing on the keyboard is a dream. I tested my typing skills on it this afternoon and I was able type at 109 WPM on it. Not too shabby. I have to admit there were a couple of issues when it arrived. The left corner Control key had popped off and the A key’s response was intermittent at best. I took the underlying key cap mechanism from F15 and swapped it with the A and I haven’t had an issue since. Still, for a keyboard clocking in at over $100, this is a bit disappointing. So much for “it just works”, but that’s why I usually buy Apple products.

Other than the two small hiccups, I am very pleased with the keyboard and I was able to fly through some coding I had to do this afternoon. The clickity click click of the keys allowed me to get lost in the moment and find my coding zen.

I guess I’m just easy to please.

Accuracy.


As a pilot I’m pretty tuned to the current weather conditions. With at least two flights planned for any given week (and hopefully more if finances allow!), I pay close attention to the forecast and plan accordingly.  During ground school we are encouraged to watch the local forecasts and The Weather Channel™ to further our understanding of the weather and how it will impact what we can do in the skies.

On Friday morning I was watching the local weather in preparation for a flight to Portland, Maine. The air personality was talking about enjoying this last day of summer-like weather because it was going to turn much colder and the skies would be rainy for much of the weekend.

It is now Monday morning. When I awoke at 6:00 a.m. It was 66ºF and quite humid. 66ºF in these parts in the middle of September is hardly much colder weather. I’m reminded of a foggy summer morning, three days after that last day of summer-like weather they were talking about.  We had a few rainy spells but nothing horrible. 

This was another reminder that commercial media first and foremost serves the purpose of generating ad revenue. Their product is weather information, and people are more apt to follow the weather, especially in this day and age, if it has a certain edge to it. “Storms could turn strong and severe this weekend if a storm front passing through decides to stall, which some forecast models indicate could happen if another front elsewhere in the country turns off its current path”.  As long as the words strong and severe were in there and there was some sort of truth to it, the smiling air personality could continue to smile knowing they were telling the truth to the public.

There were no storms. There was three flashes of lightning last night, which prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. We were on the very outer edge of the warning area, so Earl and I drove smack dab into the middle of the predicted storm’s path. No lightning. No wind. No rain. Just dark sky (it was 8:00 PM) with the evidence of some grayish clouds reflecting the lights of the area. Then three flashes of lightning. That was it.

I’m ready for autumn weather. Heck, I’m ready for winter weather. I just wish the forecasters would stop getting my hopes up.

I need to stop paying attention to the revenue-generating weather outlets and start doing my own forecasting. It will make me less crazy.

United.

I tried to find a fitting photo to place at the beginning of this blog entry but nothing moved me enough to include it here.

This blog had only a handful of entries when the events of 9/11/01 took place. I remember being too stunned to write about the day. Too depressed. Too confused. I hastily wrote an entry on the morning of 9/12. It’s posted here.

I can vividly remember the events of the day: the wave of “there has been a disturbance in the force” I felt as I rode the elevator up to the 16th floor of a local bank building, where my office was located. Earl calling me a couple of minutes later and telling me an airplane had hit the World Trade Center. Walking into the office and going to one of the production studios, where a television had just been tuned in using rabbit ears. We watched ABC because that’s all we could get in on the tiny TV. A bunch of us watched live on television when the second airliner hit. I remember feeling nauseated. When the first tower fell to the ground I remember feeling nauseated to the point that I made my way near the garbage can. Three thoughts ran through my head: “oh my God, all those people”, “oh my God, don’t puke here” and the last one was the loudest.

The world I know is gone forever. The country we know is gone forever.

There were so many displays of unity in those days after 9/11. Politicians singing together instead of arguing at each other. Elected officials setting aside their differences to keep the country back on track. People were working together, not drifting apart.

But then, well, time happened. The United States adapted, the populace accepted significant infringements on personal freedom as the new norm, technology moved on and we adapted to our new normal. By the mid 2000s, the moments of unity had faded away and we were back to the world of divisiveness with a renewed intensity. Blame those that look differently. Blame those that act differently. Diversity is dangerous.

Gosh how I miss that feeling of unity we had shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Neighbors helping each other. Strangers helping strangers. Looking out for one another instead of looking askance at those that seem different. Courage instead of fear. Defiance in the face of destruction.

We now live in a country where a balloon pops and people scramble for their lives. A simple power outage happens in a public place and there’s shrieking and screaming and other sounds of fear. It’s like we’ve had 9/11 PTSD beat into us by the politicians and the media that once united together. We were on the right track there for a little while and then, well, fear sold better. Agendas were furthered when people were scared.

I ended up not having to use that garbage pail on 9/11 as I kept my cookies together. It’s a shame that the world changed forever the way it changed forever.

I finally settled on a photo. Two sets of power lines marching across parking lots. Two towers standing in unity together.

onondaga-lake-park-progress_2748712884_o

Caution.

Earl and I live less than a 1/2 mile from a set of railroad tracks leading up into the Adirondacks. In fact, the main purpose of the railroad tracks is for the Adirondack Railroad, a passenger train that makes its way up into the Southern Adirondacks at key times of the year. The train is most popular during the autumn months while the leaves are in all their vibrant color glory.

img_2173

When I was learning to drive in the early 1980s, not all railroad crossings had lights and gates to block crossing traffic when a train was coming through. In fact, these safety measures were a rarity; crossings in the area usually just had a sign on either side. When approaching the railroad tracks one had to slow down and look both ways because there was no other indication of an approaching train. This apparently led to too many accidents and someone in New York State decreed that all railroad crossings with have arms and lights.

While I was on my morning walk, I noticed that motorists rarely even slow down for railroad crossings these days. Unless the crossing is particular bumpy, folks will drive across the tracks at full speed without a moment’s hesitation. I don’t think folks even stop talking on their cell phones, shaving or putting on makeup, they just barrel across somewhere near the posted speed without giving it a moment’s thought.

When driving home I always slow down by 10 miles per hour or so and look both ways before crossing the tracks, probably because I can still vividly remember the days when there were no lights nor gates.

I don’t think folks should be putting 100% of their faith in safety in these electric gadgets. It doesn’t seem unreasonable for people to slow down, even just a little bit, to make sure it’s safe to cross the crossing regardless of what the gates or lights might be doing. Who knows, there could be a malfunction, the power could be out, something could prevent those lights and gates from being a tell-tale sign as to whether it’s safe to cross or not.

I guess I’m a dying breed that clings on to common sense much like lint clings onto your socks in the dryer. At least I’ll live a long time to talk about it.

Friends.

Earl and I spent two hours on Interstate 690 waiting to get a parking space for The Great New York State Fair today. Prior to this fair, the state spent $50 million in renovations to the over a century old fairgrounds. Apparently part of the enhancements did not include improvements to parking, in fact, I think there are less parking spaces available because in the over 40 years that I’ve been to the Fair I can not recall ever waiting two hours to find a parking spot. 

This was our second adventure at this year’s Fair, which by the way, is the largest State Fair in the United States. On Friday night we visited the outdoor exhibits and the midway. Today we visited the barns and other indoor displays. And as always, I loved every minute of seeing the animals, talking to them and asking them about their adventure at the fair.