Life Goal.

When my time in this life on this planet comes to an end, I want to be able to say to whoever greets me on the other side, “I’ve done everything I can to make the world better. I’ve used every ounce of talent. I ran with every opportunity. I mustered up the energy to keep going and I always tried to set an example. I used up everything that was given to me and I’m ready to rest a bit before doing it again, better than before.”

Pay Attention.

This photo has been making the rounds on the Internet for the past two days. It was taken aboard the Southwest Air flight from New York to Dallas that lost an engine, which took out a window, causing a rapid depressurization of the cabin of the Boeing 737. One passenger was partially sucked out the window and unfortunately did not survive the flight. The captain and first officer safely landed the airplane in Philadelphia.

I immediately noticed the three folks using the oxygen masks in the front of the photo were wearing the masks wrong. I also wondered, who was time to take photos when an airplane is in an emergency descent with a hole in the side of the fuselage?

It’s very important to pay attention to any safety demonstrations or information on every flight. I don’t care if you’ve flown the same route on the same kind of airplane every week for the past decade. The flight attendants are taking the time to educate every passenger on how the safety equipment of that particular airplane works and where to go and/or how to potentially survive an emergency. You may be the seasoned traveler, but the people around you may have no idea on what to do. You might need to help someone. Pay attention, every single time.

I am a private pilot. I fly airplanes. Every time I take a passenger up I review the safety features of the airplane I am flying. Even when I’m flying a flight instructor, I ask them if they have any questions about the the operation of the safety equipment in the airplane. I’ve watched airline pilots flying in the back of commercial flights. They pay attention to the safety briefings.

You need to as well.

I’m still a little surprised that people were taking photos while the airplane was in the middle of an emergency. The cynical side of me wondered if someone saw a cash opportunity by selling the photo to the media. I hope that wasn’t the reason for taking this photo. But I’m still really stunned the three people shown using their masks were using them wrong. You can even see the picture on the bag under their nose that demonstrates how to use the mask. I’m sure it was covered at the beginning of the flight.

Kudos to the captain, first officer and rest of the crew for doing their job, doing it well and bringing the flight to a safe conclusion. RIP to the passenger that lost her life when pieces of the engine came through the airplane.

Please, pay attention to the safety instructions, every time you fly.

Tourists.

It’s rather cool living in a city that tourists actually want to visit. I love going downtown and seeing the tourists milling about, looking for their next adventure.

Growing up we lived in a small touristy town but it was mostly fisherman flocking to the river we’ll known for its fishing opportunities.

Living in the third largest city in the country that is second to none is all sorts of awesome. I’m right where I belong.

Facebook Vigilance.

I just posted this on Facebook. It should be shared everywhere.

Facebook has launched a colorful, yet fairly aggressive billboard/advertising campaign in Chicagoland. I’m thinking they’ve done the same elsewhere in the country. A few of things to remember:

  1. No matter how whimsical the ads might be, Facebook has not changed their profit model in any way. Your data is their product. You are not a customer or user of Facebook. You are used by Facebook. Always be cognizant of what you are posting on here.
  2. There is little in the way of curation when it comes to information posted on Facebook. Any “news” can be posted by anyone. It can be widely publicized, across “followers lines”, by anyone, foreign or domestic, for as little as $50 US dollars.
  3. Anything you type into Facebook, whether you post it or not, is logged through keystrokes. Hitting backspace to erase an entry does not erase that entry from Facebook’s servers.
  4. Any game you share is pulling data from the people you share the game with, whether they choose to participate or not.
  5. Any quiz you do is used for data gathering purposes. You might be telling Facebook that you’re a Valerie in Josie and the Pussycats, but they’ve figured out you’re the brainy one of your group, and they’ve figured out a whole lot more about you.
  6. When you tell the world where your first concert took place or who your third grade teacher was or whether you prefer the Ice Follies or the Ice Capades, you are giving Facebook and their customers more data to match up dissimilar data about you from multiple platforms.
  7. Any time you have Facebook on your mobile devices, you are taking Facebook with you. Admittedly, Apple devices are little better at guarding your privacy vs Android in this regard, but it’s Facebook that’s tracking where you are, who you’re talking to and who you’re flirting with on text message. Facebook on mobile is Facebook with you everywhere.
  8. Facebook is trying really hard to cross-index your data on Facebook with other sources, like public records, financial records, etc. Keep that in mind!

Facebook is a great way to connect with lost friends and distant family members, but please never forget: you are NOT the customer, you are the product. Never lose sight of that. Be safe, be vigilant, and be smart when using Facebook.

Spin.

Mark Zuckerberg, creator, founder and CEO of Facebook, has spent the past week apologizing and basically following a PR-spin script to deal with the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytics revelation around Facebook, user data, and the business model Facebook uses to please their stockholders. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, joined him on the interview circuit today, basically apologizing for not having better control of data mined from the profiles of Facebook users.

Amongst all these apologies and explanations, please note Facebook has chosen to exempt North American users from stricter privacy laws being implemented on services like Facebook in Europe.

One interesting thing that Sheryl mentioned during her interviews today is that users would have to pay a subscription fee to have the data they choose to share on Facebook not shared with advertisers. Yes! Please!

I still have not deleted my Facebook profile but I have ramped back my usage of the platform. A lot. My usage has dropped by nearly 90% over the past two weeks. The only reason I haven’t cancelled my account completely is because for many people in our friends and family circle, Facebook is the only way to maintain contact with them. They don’t really exchange email, there’s not really a lot going on in the way of iMessage or text messaging, and some groups and organizations I belong to have chosen to use ONLY Facebook as a way of communicating.

This is a very bad thing.

I have said this repeatedly but I will say it again. The vast majority of “free” services on the Internet are supported by ad revenue. A majority of those services make your data available in some fashion in order to target you with specific ads. I know, you’ll say that you have nothing to hide, but it’s not the data that you’re providing that makes this dangerous. It’s the ability for unrelated companies to independently gather data about you and then connect the dots when they find a common denominator, for example, your circle of friends, your spending habits, or your browsing habits.

In our elementary school years we were threatened from time to time that a bad decision would go down on our “permanent record”. Everything on the Internet is permanent. Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever.

Do you really want Facebook to be handling your “permanent record”?

I hate sounding cynical, but Mark and Sheryl are out there spinning these interviews so they can maintain a revenue stream and please their stockholders. Notice they’re not talking about changing the business model. Notice how dismissive they are about offering a subscription option. They don’t want that. They would lose some control of your data.

Controlling your data is what’s making them rich.

Alcohol.

I had a glass of red wine with dinner last night. While waiting for Earl to return from the wash room, I tweeted a musing as to whether Americans are drinking more since the election of Trump to the White House. I know I’ve been drinking more alcohol since Trump took office. It helps take the edge off reality.

Honestly, I’m very curious is to whether this is an actual ‘thing’ or just my own perception. We hear about increases in Opioid addiction, alcoholism, dependency on other substances. I know I smell a lot of pot on the street. Is this related to a societal shift that was bound to happen regardless of who occupied slot 45? Is life just getting more and more stressful as we realize that life isn’t as we depict it to be on social media?

I’ll have to find some studies on this. I find it quite interesting.

Cheers!

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Fast.

We now have AT&T “GigaPower” High-Speed Internet. I did a speed test this morning to make sure the install over the weekend went well.

I was quite impressed.

Fool.

April Fools’ Day is my least favorite holiday, and I use that term loosely, of the year. I’m happy Easter also fell on April 1 because that helped quell some of the idiocy that typically lets loose on the Internet for April Fools’ Day.

People use to engage in clever April Fools’ Day jokes and pranks. A few decades ago there was a radio station, WKGW, that called themselves KG-104. The morning show announced the United States had switched to “Metric Time” and while my clock said 8:45, they announced the time as something idiotic like “it’s 2:75” as they went into a commercial break. The commercials then revolved around this prank, for example, an electronics store announcing you could bring your VCR in for reprogramming to accommodate the new Metric Time standard. It was a clever gag and probably the only time I’ve ever enjoyed an April fools’ Day prank.

In April 1999 Earl and I were working on opening a fast food restaurant in a local mini-mall. I had left my radio career to pursue this venture. We had sunk all of our savings and our blood sweat and tears into this business. I can still vividly remember Earl’s voice as he called me up to tell me, “it’s all burned down. All of it. We lost everything. They think it was faulty wiring.” A few beats later he said, “April Fools’!”.

Hardy har har har.

I don’t know if my resistance to April Fools’ frivolity was amplified by Earl’s joke of 1999 or from the license some took with pranks back when I was in high school: lighting a classmate’s jeans on fire, flushing a nerdy kid’s head in the toilet or pouring water into an Apple IIe to “make it spark”. Maybe I’m just overly sensitive, but in a world where people take great glee in playing stupid pranks to get YouTube revenue I guess I just don’t see the fun in pranking folks and then screaming “April Fools!”.

That being said, I did tweet a geek prank of my own tonight:

I’m excited about Kmart buying Walmart.

No one bought it. I guess I’m not very good at this sort of thing.

Downsizing.

So the family got together tonight and watched “Downsizing” on iTunes. It became available for home rental last week.

I’d seen the trailers for this movie last autumn and I thought the premise looked quite interesting. It’s billed as a comedy. The world is in ecological turmoil and Norwegian scientists have come up with a solution: an irreversible cellular miniaturization process that shrinks folks down to about 5-inches tall. The small people have less of an impact on the environment, hence the world will last longer.

The movie starts out as the trailer depicts and is quite interesting. Seeing how the small people live, the miniaturization process, how much further money goes when you’re buying small versions of everything, stuff like that. It took me a few moments to figure out why everyone had big antennas stuck to their miniaturized iPhones and then I appreciated the, pardon the pun, little details that brought authenticity to this alternative universe. A quick aside, some of the special effects were not as good as I expected them to be in a 2017/2018 movie.

The problem was about a third of the way into the movie I started wondering what the point and/or the plot was. Where was this movie headed?

Apparently the director or producer realized the same thing and the entire movie takes a sharp left turn into whack-a-doo world where being tall or small doesn’t really matter anymore. In fact, near the end when we see the “smalls” flying in their special section of an airplane to return from where they had all this weird twist to the plot, I was like, “Oh yeah, they’re smaller than everyone else, totally forgot about that.”

The problem is, the plot was so weak, we took a break to make snacks and ask ourselves, what is the point of this movie? Characters just disappeared. Scenes that appeared in the trailer are nowhere to be found in the actual movie and the whole whimsy small people on a ferris-wheel vibe is mindlessly absent from the finished project.

I’m happy we chose to watch this movie via iTunes because we were only out $5.99. We probably should have checked Netflix and watched it as part of a monthly rental package.

Had we experienced “Downsizing” in the theatre we would have definitely been out too much money.

This was more than a small disappointment.

Play Ball!

It’s that time of the year in the neighborhood!

We live just a short walk away from Wrigley. We will be attending many games this season.

Fly The W!