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It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog entry. I suppose like many Americans, I feel anticipation, worry and an overall, general uneasy feeling about the election that is taking place 13 days from today. 

I’ve been following the election pretty closely for the past several months.  A couple of weeks ago I solidified my decision as to whom I would vote for and to me, the only sane choice on the 8th of November is to vote for Hillary Clinton. I will be coloring in the dot next to her name when I get my turn in the unsteady, unprivate kiosk that I will share with others from our town.

Gosh how I miss the days when voting was a ritual and you went into a curtained booth, pulled the lever and moved another lever to make the votes count and the curtains make a whooshing sound.  Now we’re thrown into this little makeshift cardtable with all the privacy of the DMV. Standing naked in the DMV. There’s no dignity in the New York State Election Process anymore. I hate the electronic voting machines because I don’t entirely trust them.

I’m digressing.

I’m feeling rather anxious about this election because I feel the country is standing on the brink of complete insanity and that the unexpected may happen and then, quite frankly, all hell will break loose.  To quote someone recently blathering on some talk radio show, “President Clinton may turn out to be a bad president but President Trump would most likely be the last president. Ever.”

And this is what concerns me.

My interest in Facebook is gone. Outside of the gross privacy concerns, it has become increasingly evident that I’ve known some stupid people over the years. I’m apparently related to some god-fearing conspiracy theory nuts (and by the way, I do have my own tinfoil hat, thank you very much) and there are some folks that I can’t believe made it through the same high school that I graduated from. And I wasn’t really that close top of my class. Facebook must bring out the sheer idiocy of the masses and the problem is that many people use Facebook as a source of news.

That’s freakin’ scary to me.

I’m concerned that enough people are going to pull the lever of insanity and push this country over the cliff into chaos. I fear Supreme Court Justices that will take away women’s rights to do what they want with their own bodies. I fear those same, new justices reversing my marriage to Earl. I fear that we could really enter some sort of Civil War, or even worse, enter the Second Dark Ages, where knowledge is eschewed in lieu of sound bites and empty promises.

If you’re an American citizen of legal voting age, reading this blog and have no plans on voting, you completely disappoint me. I care who you vote for, but more importantly, I care that you exercise your right to vote. Many men and women have died in the past 240 years to guarantee your right to vote and if you choose to ignore that right then first and foremost, you have no right to complain but more importantly, you have no voice and you are completely disrespectful of our country. It’s unfathomable to me that people can sit home on voting day. Get out. VOTE.

Gosh, I can’t wait for this election to be over. 

iOS 10 Mail

Like millions of other iPhone and iPad users, I recently upgraded to iOS 10 on my various devices. For the most part I’m happy with the upgrade; both my iPhone (6s Plus) and iPad (Pro) feel snappier, though my older iPad Mini 2 that I use solely for airplane use seems to be slower than it used to be.  I actually upgraded my iPhone when the third beta of iOS 10 came out because I like to see how these things are developing and give feedback to Apple as they’re making their final tweaks to their software.

There has been one thing that has been driving me crazy about iOS 10 and that’s the way emails are ordered in the Mail app. I have two accounts for Mail, one through iCloud and the other through the host that supports jpnearl.com.  Mail has worked the same for several generations of iOS; when you have an email chain going with several responses, the latest response is on top.

Until iOS 10. Now the latest response is either at the bottom or buried somewhere in the middle of the message. I don’t know if others have experienced this fun and frivolity but the OCD in me has been getting irked by this.  So I went poking around in Settings and found this new entry

Once I turned on “Most Recent Message On Top”, sanity seemed to be restored in my little email universe.


I have no idea why Apple made this change as it seems to run counterintuitive to every email program I’ve used since the year 1996 or so but nevertheless, they rethought something and luckily gave us an out for us curmudgeons that aren’t used to change.

Network Nicely.

This morning, during my routine of watching a TED Talk to get my inspirational juices flowing, I watched a talk by Danny Hillis. The TED Talk was presented in 2013 and addresses the fact that the Internet has become an important, albeit somewhat risky, part of the world’s infrastructure.

It’s interesting that in the beginning of the talk, Danny shows a printed directory of everyone that had an email address in 1982. Aside from the fact that not very many people had email addresses in 1982, he mentions that it was OK to list everyone’s email address, and other details, in this directory because everyone on the Internet trusted one another.
Isn’t that a novel concept?
Folks connected computers to the Internet with the intent to do good. People created sources of information (prior to the idea of a “web page”) with the intent of sharing truthful, correct knowledge. Internet users trusted one another.
Can you imagine automatically trusting everyone you interacted with online today? You’d have an empty checking account in less than a day. All your money would be going to some obscure prince in some obscure country. I have spent countless hours correcting Wikipedia articles that are so inaccurate and so poorly written it’s amazing to me that any college student thinks it would be acceptable to cite Wikipedia as a valid news source. Extreme political pundits are very quick to pull select quotes or edit audio to suit their needs and then present the information as accurate, fair and balanced. I maintain a couple of bogus email addresses to be used solely as “flood boxes”; junk mail receptacles to be filled with advertising, lies and other fun misinformation.
The intent of the Internet has been completely flipped around from an open exchange of knowledge to a chaotic barrage of advertising, personal agenda and willful deception.
It’s disheartening.
The 2016 U.S. Election has flooded the Internet with more misinformation, deception and downright lies than any other political adventure in history. Sometimes it feels like one is throwing cups of water on Nagasaki after the blast, but I can’t watch this glorious mechanism of knowledge exchange be completely consumed by darkness.
Be part of the light today.


I’m drinking in some sunshine before heading back in to work. 

I’m watching a bird soar in the wind about 500 to 1000′ feet above the surface. So calm and graceful. 



It was reported yesterday that Yahoo! secretly scanned users’ email on behalf of the government. Apparently the action was approved by CEO Marissa Mayer and took place outside of the realm of then Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos, who left the company and joined Facebook. The full article from Reuters is here.

This morning I wiped out my old Yahoo account. I created it a few years ago for the purpose of accessing Flickr (which was acquired, and subsequently destroyed by Yahoo), but I hadn’t been on Flickr in a long while so it wasn’t a really big deal getting rid of the account. I probably have a couple of other accounts in the Yahoo space that I need to delete. I’ll be taking care of that this weekend.

This latest revelation of an Internet company doing nefarious things on behalf of the government (all to save us from Terrorism, of course), got me thinking about Internet privacy in general. I’ve mentioned before that weird ads have started appearing in my Facebook feed, all based on search engine results, visiting another site or, oddly, having a conversation with Earl in the presence of an apparently eavesdropping device. My friend Jeff and I talked about a similar situation this morning: last night he looked at some flooring at Lowe’s, exchanged a couple of text messages with his husband on the subject, did one Google search and then met his husband at a Zaxby’s for supper. This morning he is getting the exact flooring ads “exclusively available at Lowe’s” and ads for Zaxby’s showing up in his Google search results and other places around the web.

Completely creepy.

I’ve been watching friends slowly drift away over the past couple of months. Either the algorithm is showing me what they think I want to see or friends are posting less in general. A few friends and family have given up Facebook entirely. I removed it from my phone a while back as I was not comfortable with having ads shoved in my face based on random searches I had done on the Internet. This morning I removed Facebook (and that awful cretin, Facebook Messenger) from my iPad as well.

In the past I’ve made it clear that I’m not in favor of an ad-supported Internet. Tailoring ads to my specific desires does not ease my frustration with advertising in general, if anything, it exacerbates the issue because it’s a reminder as to how much information Google or Facebook or Amazon or whatever has accumulated on me. I mention these things to users of all things Google and they always tell me they don’t mind because they have nothing to hide. 

It’s kind of like knowing that you dance to “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” completely naked every morning in front of the mirror as part of your workday routine and that you wouldn’t mind doing that same dance, naked and all, on stage in front, of an audience. Or walking into a post office and seeing everyone’s mail tacked up on the wall for all to read. All of these things are very much possible when you give up your privacy, even if you give up your privacy because after all, you don’t really do anything bad to begin with.

Since there’s nothing to really hide from the government in your email, why don’t we take it a step further? Perhaps legislation requiring that all mail passing through the U.S. Postal Service must be in clear envelopes or clear package wrapping would make people take notice. After all, it’s an identical approach to letting Yahoo go through its users’ email, just a different medium. “Let’s just look the package over to make sure there’s nothing in there we’re interested in.”

I don’t think the American Public wants to be treated that way.  That’s why I get so crazy about Internet Security and fair, legal practices that follow the letter of the law.

I deleted my Yahoo account today. And I’m damn proud of it.

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Clean Cut, Average American Guy.

Technically I will never attain the title of “Clean Cut, Average American Guy”. There’s a few categories where I score above average. Conversely I score below average on one or two items on the list. And of course, there’s the whole gay thing that many believes sets me apart from the crowd. When I was younger I was told by a few people that I stood out like a neon light. One former beau went so far to tell me that I was kind of embarrassing to be around in public. I guess “personal expression” wasn’t really his forte. Or maybe I expressed myself too much. But that was thirty years ago and times have changed.

For a while I had a bad ass side to my personality. Cocky. Edgy. Alternative-ish. I’ve seen things, experienced things, done things that would make most average Americans blush at first glance. I’ve been to paradise but I was lucky to have been to me along the way. At age 48 I’m still a little cocky, a little edgy. I look at the world from a different angle.

But the clean cut, average American side of me has become my modus operandi. I like a beer or two from time to time. I don’t need a fine wine to make me happy. I like hanging out with the other pilots at the airport. I like just hanging out with friends. My radio career-fed tendencies to be out loud and public about my life has waned quite a bit. I don’t need to strut around like a peacock with a big, red beard for my feathers. I don’t want an outlandish mustache anymore. I don’t need to be the shiniest coin in the piggy bank.

For the relatively first time in my life, I’m pretty comfortable with who I am, today, right now, at age 48. I’ve never been really comfortable in my skin. I’ll never be a soldier, I’ll never be a centerfold, I’ll never be the slim jim that’s just a little bit zesty.

I’m just a guy with a dad bod that feels good about where he is today. I am comfortable in my skin, with who I am and where I am today. It’s taken me a really long time to come to this realization.

For the vast majority of my life, my personal quest has been, “what can I change about myself?”. My new quest is “what works now and what can I do better?”. After all these years my baggage is a matched set.

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

In Public.

I’m at our local Panera goofing around on my iPad. Earl is off on a poker adventure. I’m happy that he’s enjoying his retirement. We’ve found our groove.

As you can see from the photo above, the local Panera is not exceptionally busy.  Three tables down you’ll notice a full table of older adults. They have one or two smartphones among them. I know this because they’re playing all of their videos out loud for the entire establishment. The video sounds ominous with grave sounding music, a deep booming voice and the words “but Hillary…” and “Donald Trump will…”. They occasionally stop their conspiracy viral video broadcasts with discussions about Candy Crush and debates on whether “Welcome to Messenger” means the app has to be taken to the post office for validation.

Honestly, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

One of the women keeps cackling/wailing/almost losing her dentures because she thinks she can send secret messages to her husband. There was a mention of lingerie. I walked by a couple of times to see what kind of phones they are using and they are definitely not iPhones. Not that iPhones are really all that secure but I can guarantee you, sweetie, that you are not sending any secret messages with your Android device.  You’re on the grid and in just a few moments I’ll figure out what IP address your phone is using and I’ll do something mildly entertaining, at least to me.

I just can’t fathom why people think it’s OK to play their smartphone media out loud in a public place. Last year we had to endure a woman dancing to that Brenda Lee version of “Dancing Around The Christmas Tree” at critical volumes while she danced around in a horrid, ugly Christmas sweater in the middle of a NE Philly Diner. How would people like it if I plopped a giant 1980s boom box on the table and started blasting out some obscure, loud tracks?

Don’t Disturb This Groove, baby.

Technology has outpaced common sense and any sense of decorum by a magnitude of nearly 10. Recent technological advances brings us in touch with everyone and everything. Knowledge can be everywhere.

It’s a shame that we have to endure listening to those that seemed focus on playing games and listen to obnoxious sounds on their devices. It’s like sitting in the smoking section of idiocy.