Fresh Air.

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.

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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.

Material.

If you read my blog right from my website instead of using a reader of some sort, you may have noticed that I made some drastic changes to the design of the site. It’s a little bolder but still maintains the simple appearance that I really enjoy. The theme is based on Google’s Material Design principles. If you have a WordPress site and you’re interested in applying this theme, it is available at the Material Design WordPress Theme site. It’s really easy to install and tweak.

It’s really interesting to watch the pendulum swing back and forth between what’s considered the latest fad in webpage design. This blog is over 13 years old and has had many different looks along the way; some were quite elaborate with shadowed buttons, subtle animations, generous transparencies and that feeling of “beveled robustness”. That’s what users were looking for back in the day. Today webpage design favors simplicity, bold colors and a flat yet comfortable feeling.

I’m a big fan of Google’s Material Design and I’m happy to see that so many designers and programmers are going out of their way to adopt and extend the capabilities of these principles. I believe the design was originally created for Google’s Android devices. Oddly, I find this approach more visually appealing than what Apple has been working with on their iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite platforms. I have been using many of the Material principles in my work projects and the results have been well received. I think as I get older I’m moving away from my allegiance to one school of thought and now looking for the best solution to the task at hand.

Flickr.

After nearly two years of being away from the photo platform, last night I decided to resurrect my Flickr account.

A lot has changed since the last time I visited the site. Activity seems to be lower, the interface is a little more convoluted but still manageable, but so far I’m pleased with the service.

One thing that they did change was the ability to write a blog post for a WordPress site from Flickr. This was something that I did a lot back in the day, but after doing some poking around the help dialogs and such, it seems the ability to do this was removed sometime last year.

So here is my first blog photo from Flickr in many years. It’s a photo of one of our driveway markers. They’re not stylish, but they do the trick.

Driveway Marker.

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.

Chill.

So I’m sitting at SYR (Syracuse Airport) awaiting a flight to LGA, so I can connect for a flight to Raleigh-Durham. I’m flying on Delta flight 3618. We are delayed; we were to leave at 5:49 p.m., we are now leaving at 7:20 p.m. The delay is due to weather. With winds up to 29 knots at LGA, I can understand the concern about weather. Luckily, my flight to RDU is delayed as well so I should make my connection. If not, I’ll just sleep at LaGuardia tonight, I guess.

I am fascinated with the people watching here at Syracuse Airport. People seem kicked back. There wasn’t any screaming or crying when a flight to Chicago at an adjacent gate was canceled. I’m not overly concerned about making or missing my flight. It is what it is. Chilling out is enjoyable.

Freedom.

Today turned out to be a beautiful day for mid-January in Central New York. Granted, it was still chilly; at lunch time it wasn’t even 20ºF yet, but nevertheless, the air was calm and the sun was shining brightly.

All the more reason to go for a flight during my lunch hour.

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Alone in the airplane, I went for a simple flight: I headed out to the “West Practice Area”, flew around a bit and then flew along the eastern shore of Oneida Lake. I played around with the airplane a little bit, trying out different things that I was always curious about but didn’t really have to time mess around with during my training flights, all in an attempt to better myself as a pilot.

Being able to do this reinforced why I became a pilot in the first place; to celebrate that wonderful sense of freedom.

Paperless.

One of my goals in 2015 is to have a neat, well-organized office both at home and at work. This is my part of a greater effort to reduce clutter from my life in general, but I figured the offices was a good place to start. With the reduction of clutter, I am aiming to take another step toward going paperless.

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I have been on a paperless kick for years. When I worked for DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, one of the goals of the company was to bring the paperless office to fruition. As the second largest computer company in the world at the time, it seemed like they had the might to do it, but they stumbled and the company was eventually scooped up by Compaq, which in turn was scooped up by HP. I did learn a lot about the paperless office and today’s technology has made it easier than ever to achieve this goal.

I have three main parts to my approach. Now remember, I am an Apple dude but I always look for ways to use my tools cross-platform. Two out of three of these tools are able to be used on Mac, Linux and Windows:

After messing around with plain text files, Apple’s Notes and Microsoft OneNote, I have re-embraced Evernote as my “Vault”. If I want to write something down, I put it in Evernote. If I need to give Earl a receipt (as he does the accounting in our merry little household) for a gas purchase, I snap a photo of the gas pump with Evernote. If I find a little tidbit online that I find interesting, it’s in Evernote. All of my meeting notes, project plans and doodling of ideas for work are stored in Evernote. In fact, this what I worked on accomplishing this morning: scanning all of my handwritten notes and such into Evernote. An iOS app called Scannable gives me the ability to scan a document and easily import it into my Evernote and/or share it with whomever I’d like with plenty of sharing options (email, etc). The crumpled up receipt from the car wash turns into a decent looking document using Scannable.

Evernote also let’s me search on keywords, tags or whatever, so finding things is a snap. It takes me about five minutes a day, usually at the end of my workday, to organize everything I’ve captured into Evernote through the course of a workday into my little buckets I’ve created for myself. Approaching my notes at work this way also affords me the opportunity of readdressing my notes as second time, which lends to me remembering things a little better.

Dropbox is my file vault. The application is basically an extra folder on my computer, which syncs with the cloud whenever a change is made. Any computer that has access to that Dropbox folder, including mobile devices, instantly has access to that file. It’s a great way to save backups of your stuff and it’s a great way to access your stuff from anywhere.

Originally I was keeping everything in my Dropbox, however, I decided to favor Evernote because of the improvements they’ve made to the Evernote interface and because I can group similar things together in one document, especially at work, for example, if there’s an attachment on a meeting invite, I can drag that to my meeting notes I’ve typed up and everything is together in one place. I like this much better than using folders in Dropbox.

OmniFocus, the Mac-only application from the Omni Group, is a very robust productivity application. While a glorified “to do” list, OmniFocus’ flexibility is amazing. Based on the GTD or “Getting Things Done” approach to productivity, I’ve been using OmniFocus for a number of years (it was originally a goal of 2011) and I can say that I have been better organized and less stressed since adopting my own spin on GTD with OmniFocus. Anything I have to do, I throw it in OmniFocus and like cleaning out my Evernote Inbox everyday, I spend a few moments each day reviewing my OmniFocus Inbox and curate each item so that I have a clear understanding of what I have to do and what I want to do.

Walking into a clean office has done wonders for my mood and I’m happy that I’ve reached this first part of this goal that I set for myself in 2015. I’m determined to not leave my well-being to the fates this year, and every little step in a positive direction has done wonders for my mood.