Five Years.

My Dad passed away five years ago today. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a half decade since he passed during his last flight, the second flight in his second homebuilt airplane. He was test flying his Wittman Tailwind W-10 when he crashed on the left downwind to Runway 33 at KFZY Oswego County. I’ve flown over the spot many times. I think of him more often than that.

img_0820

I consider myself a very lucky man to have grown up around airplanes. My dad earned his pilot license when I was still in elementary school so I spent many hours with him in the right seat of a Cessna or a Piper Tomahawk and later in the backseat of the Piper J-5A he restored. As an adult I flew with him a few times in his homebuilt Acrosport II. That’s the airplane in the pictures on this blog post. Passengers ride up front in that airplane. My first blog post was about flying with Dad in the Acrosport II.

img_0821

I once asked my Dad why he was building a second airplane, after having restored the J-5A and later building the Acrosport II from scratch. He told me that he liked the Acrosport but flying it was sometimes like driving a car with the hood open. He wanted more visibility.

I had always wanted to be a pilot but kept putting it off while he was still alive. If I wanted to fly I could just go with him. It was while standing in line at the funeral home, hugging visitors as we exchanged pleasantries, that I realized I would not be able to fly in a small airplane again unless I continued the family tradition and became a private pilot. I could not imagine being earthbound for the rest of my life.

Once I became a private pilot I was able to fully understand what happened five years ago today. Carb icing resulting engine issues at pattern altitude, so he most likely stalled into a spin. Having less than one hour in a brand new experimental airplane his familiarity with how the airplane would handle in a stall would be cursory at best. Knowing my dad he read everything he probably could have on the subject but I don’t think he ever flew another W-10 before flying the one he built. His death probably made me a more conservative pilot but that’s not a bad thing; it’s my goal to be a very old pilot.

My dad was my inspiration. You could always tell what he was thinking when he was gazing skyward. Even though he has passed on, he still inspires me everyday.

Free Speech.

15283977_1819954521594034_1490164559651060013_n

While I do not support the burning of the American flag in any way, I will always defend a person’s right to the First Amendment and freedom of speech. President-elect Trump wants to either jail or strip citizenship from those that are exercising freedom of speech. Imagine what he would want to do to a woman that exercises her right to choose. Again, I do not support flag burning and I personally believe that abortion is the wrong choice 99% of the time, but I will fully defend the right to freedom of speech and a woman’s right to choose. Thank god he wasn’t running things at the American Revolution. All of the patriots and Founding Fathers would have been in jail, or worse.

This tweet from the President-elect is very telling. It tells of a leader who believes in more of a dictatorial role. It tells of a man who has a very narrow view of what American citizens should do, how they should act, what they should say. It shows a line of binary thought, everything is black or white, there’s no room for gray, no room for color, no room for compromise.

When people defend their vote for Trump and say, “but he’s going to drain the swamp and clean up Washington!”, were you willing to give up freedoms to accomplish this? Were you willing to change the very fabric of what makes this country great just because you didn’t like her, her pantsuits and her sense of entitlement? If you’re willing to give up freedom of speech, if the speech doesn’t fit what you define as proper, then this country is in more serious trouble than I realized.

In 1783, George Washington proclaimed: “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

Lies.

I’ve stretched the truth countless times throughout my life. When I was younger I would embellish a tale a bit to mask an otherwise mundane existence. I found myself to be very uninteresting and therefore I compensated by making the story bigger. Honestly, I considered the habit to be a pretty significant personality fault and for the past couple of decades I’ve made a very conscious effort to break the trend. I feel I’ve been very successful and recognizing and correcting this trait has made me a better person. We should all strive to be better people. It’s part of the human equation.

The fact of the matter is, you can’t lie about facts. When the numbers are printed in black and white or multiple folks tell one story while one person is saying something completely different, it’s pretty hard to deny the truth.  And I have a really hard time accepting anything but the truth, especially from our elected officials. We don’t have a lot left in Washington, I’d like to think that we have at least some truth coming from our highest offices. Unfortunately, the truth is that I’m completely naive about that.

President-elect Trump (and I’m sticking to my promise to respect the office, regardless of what I think of the man) erupted with some sort of Twitter rant again yesterday, this time about the election results audits getting underway in key states across the country. His tweet talked about his winning of the popular vote, if it wasn’t for the “millions of illegal votes” for Secretary Clinton. I’m always amazed that the next person to hold the highest office in the world has the communication skills of a junior high school student and the temperament of a five year old. But this is what we are saddled with.

There is absolutely no evidence of dozens of illegal votes for Clinton, let alone millions of votes. His words are not an embellishment, they are an outright lie. There is absolutely no truth to his claims of illegal votes for Clinton. There is no evidence to be found. Unfortunately, Trump the presidential candidate is acting no different as President-elect. While his bombastic screaming of lies wooed millions of people to vote for him in the election, his distortion of the truth has no place in his role as President. He keeps repeating his lies until he believes them and then he expects the American public to do the same. Unfortunately, too many folks buy into this and start repeating the same lie, trying to solidify these falsehoods as truth. 

Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted today about “a mandate” for a Trump presidency. The people have spoken with this “landslide” victory. She called it a historic win. Again, more lies, more distortions trumpeted loudly. The louder the more like it’s the truth, right? I have no idea how that woman sleeps at night.

Whatever.

The true historical value of this election is the fact that there has never been such a wide disparity between the popular vote and the Electoral College. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over two million votes. And the absolute final results are still being tabulated. There is no mandate. There’s little hope for unity. I fear there’s little hope at all.

The truth of the matter is I’m already beyond tired of this presidency and it hasn’t even officially begun. It’s hard to respect the highest office in the land when you can’t believe a word that he says. Trust in government? No one in their right mind would trust anything from a Trump Administration.

But then again, a lot of people trust reality television as being real. And that’s what we have now, right? Reality television trying to be a real Presidential administration.

God help us all.

Lies.

I’ve stretched the truth countless times throughout my life. When I was younger I would embellish a tale a bit to mask an otherwise mundane existence. I found myself to be very uninteresting and therefore I compensated by making the story bigger. Honestly, I considered the habit to be a pretty significant personality fault and for the past couple of decades I’ve made a very conscious effort to break the trend. I feel I’ve been very successful and recognizing and correcting this trait has made me a better person. We should all strive to be better people. It’s part of the human equation.

The fact of the matter is, you can’t lie about facts. When the numbers are printed in black and white or multiple folks tell one story while one person is saying something completely different, it’s pretty hard to deny the truth.  And I have a really hard time accepting anything but the truth, especially from our elected officials. We don’t have a lot left in Washington, I’d like to think that we have at least some truth coming from our highest offices. Unfortunately, the truth is that I’m completely naive about that.

President-elect Trump (and I’m sticking to my promise to respect the office, regardless of what I think of the man) erupted with some sort of Twitter rant again yesterday, this time about the election results audits getting underway in key states across the country. His tweet talked about his winning of the popular vote, if it wasn’t for the “millions of illegal votes” for Secretary Clinton. I’m always amazed that the next person to hold the highest office in the world has the communication skills of a junior high school student and the temperament of a five year old. But this is what we are saddled with.

There is absolutely no evidence of dozens of illegal votes for Clinton, let alone millions of votes. His words are not an embellishment, they are an outright lie. There is absolutely no truth to his claims of illegal votes for Clinton. There is no evidence to be found. Unfortunately, Trump the presidential candidate is acting no different as President-elect. While his bombastic screaming of lies wooed millions of people to vote for him in the election, his distortion of the truth has no place in his role as President. He keeps repeating his lies until he believes them and then he expects the American public to do the same. Unfortunately, too many folks buy into this and start repeating the same lie, trying to solidify these falsehoods as truth. 

Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted today about “a mandate” for a Trump presidency. The people have spoken with this “landslide” victory. She called it a historic win. Again, more lies, more distortions trumpeted loudly. The louder the more like it’s the truth, right? I have no idea how that woman sleeps at night.

Whatever.

The true historical value of this election is the fact that there has never been such a wide disparity between the popular vote and the Electoral College. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over two million votes. And the absolute final results are still being tabulated. There is no mandate. There’s little hope for unity. I fear there’s little hope at all.

The truth of the matter is I’m already beyond tired of this presidency and it hasn’t even officially begun. It’s hard to respect the highest office in the land when you can’t believe a word that he says. Trust in government? No one in their right mind would trust anything from a Trump Administration.

But then again, a lot of people trust reality television as being real. And that’s what we have now, right? Reality television trying to be a real Presidential administration.

God help us all.

Meandering.


Earl and I have been meandering out in the Jeep today. At this time of year I enjoy the challenge of following roads that say “Seasonal Use Only / Road Not Maintained Nov. 1 through April 1”.  These roads are fun to drive in a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.


We found ourselves at Selkirk Shores State Park along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. This state park is about 10 miles or so from the house I grew up in. We drove by the old house. It’s not really that old; my dad built it and we moved in for my first day of Fourth Grade in 1977. The new owners of the property are being very kind to it. I’m happy to see life thriving in what I used to call home.

Having grown up pretty close to the Great Lakes, I find myself longing to hear the crashing of the waves, even when it’s 40ºF. Earl is a good sport; we walked out on the pier and took some photos. In the distance you can see Nine Mile Point, home to three nuclear power plants. Two of those plants have been active for nearly my entire life and I don’t glow in the dark. Nuclear power doesn’t scare me.


We are now meandering around in the outskirts of the city of Syracuse. We have stopped for a Starbucks break, as we don’t have Starbucks at home and we like to indulge once in a while. After this blog entry and the completion of our treat, we shall continue our meandering with a target of getting home some time tonight. We are only 45 miles from home but it might take us several hours to get there.

Meandering is good for the soul.

1 Comment

Sharing.

I’ve been using my Facebook account on a regular basis for the past couple of weeks, since shortly before the travesty we amusingly call “Election Day”. I started out by going back to read a couple of geek and flight oriented groups that are housed within the confines of the Facebook platform. I smile every time I see a pilot share photos of their first solo flight. I read about the experiences of other pilots. I talk with folks that also own a Piper Cherokee. I also keep up with family and friends that I haven’t seen in a long while. Unfortunately I fell into the pits of Facebook hell and got caught up in the whirlwind of disinformation, fake news and the like the Facebook is becoming quite famous for.

The truth of the matter is that I know better. As a fairly well-educated tech guy, I know that Facebook tracks every movement I make on the web. Facebook knows every time I search for something and adds that information to my profile. The paranoid side of me believes that Facebook is somehow _hearing_ my conversations because I’ve had a couple of suggestions come up in the FB sidebar after Earl and I have had a conversation about a product, but I’m still trying to figure out if that’s possible or not. Facebook is a very dangerous platform for many reasons, yet I still wade in the acidic waters, clinging onto some shred of hope that it doesn’t rot me away completely.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed that Facebook has significantly pared down the posts that I see from friends and family. The number of people showing up on my timeline has been whittled down considerably. On more than one occasion, while scanning through my Facebook timeline, I’ve thought to myself, “It’s funny I haven’t seen a post from X in the past few days.”  I’ll then search up their name and see that they’ve been posting right along like they always have, Facebook just didn’t feel it was necessary to share that information with me. Instead, I’ve been barraged with posts from people that I’ve shared a hearty banter with (usually about the “election”), as if to magnify that particular person’s point of view in lieu of just presenting me with a timeline.

When a timeline is skewed with algorithms, it’s not a timeline. It’s propaganda.  Instagram, owned by Facebook, is notorious for this. I keep seeing the same photos from the same six people instead of the 300 or so that I follow on Instagram. It makes me crazy. It’s not genuine. There’s nothing genuine about anything owned by Facebook. It’s not information, it’s manipulation.

I keep saying, and blogging, that I’m just going to share more right here on my blog and less in the Facebook arena, but the issue with that approach is that when I want to get an important point across, such as the fallout from the recent “election” (yes, I’m annoying with the rabbit gestures around the word election, which should give you an indication as to how much I believe it was truly an election reflecting the will of the people), the people I want to reach are comfortable inside the Facebook echo chamber and the folks I want to target with my voice aren’t going to hear what I want to share. 

Unfortunately I don’t have an answer for this. I’m concerned that Facebook isn’t going to go the way of MySpace. A reader on Medium suggested that Facebook be treated like a public utility and subject to the same governmental oversight as the other utilities (power, water, telecom) in the United States. While it’s questionable that any utility will still be subjected to any oversight after we somehow survive the next four years as a cohesive country, the idea of Facebook being considered a “utility” is horrifying to me.

It is really my hope that the country will wake up from some drug induced trip and come back to its senses: in the way we think, the way we act, the way we use tech, the way we think our society should be going, all of it. My gut tells me that this is the new normal. I didn’t think it was possible for us to head in the direction of “Idiocracy” but I’ve been a wrong about a lot of things over the years and I’m afraid this is one of them. To mix movie metaphors, (I was going to paste a quote from “Angels in America” here but Apple’s iOS 10 won’t let me do that, so I’ll paraphrase), “Before life becomes merely impossible, it will be, for a long time, completely unbearable.”

I think Facebook is leading the charge into the unbearable realm.