Competition.

Twenty years ago, back when I was the Program Director of a small Top 40 radio station, I used to dread “book months”. These book months were the ratings period for radio, the timeframe when select listeners would write down what radio stations they listened to, how often they listened and for how long they listened. It was during these times that we would formulate promotions that would dazzle listeners, for example, nearly impossible to win $100,000 giveaways, free trips to New York to see “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and chances to win vacuum cleaners for Mom as a gift for Mother’s Day. We knew how to impress.

The ultimate reason for dazzling the listener was to generate more ratings during book months, which would then in turn make our little radio station more appealing to ad buyers. This, in turn, would give us more commercials to play, causing us to drop more songs per hour but would guarantee we would have enough revenue coming in to paint the studio in gaudy blues and golds, fulfill payroll requirements and allow us to do nifty things like put up billboards to remind folks how great the radio station was. 

One of the many things I didn’t like about this process was the sense of competition. We were one of two Top 40 radio stations in the area and I was told to keep the radio station aggressive. Push the limits with music, reach fringe listeners if possible and more importantly tell them how bad the other radio station was. We had to fight, Fight, FIGHT our way to the top for that ad revenue. The trouble was, the other radio station, Kiss 102, had a bunch of great ideas, had a good team for the most part and played the same music we did. Heck, the Program Director of Kiss 102 was a friend of mine. We had worked together at another station. We “grew up” together in radio. But I had to make the Mr. Voice say clever, snarky things about them all in the name of promotion.

Competition. Why?

I can’t help but roll my eyes when people start chanting and screeching and carrying on about the United States of America being the Greatest Nation on Earth. Now, don’t misconstrue what I’m saying here. I believe that as an American citizen that I’ve got it pretty good. The water is clean, the air is breathable, I can get food for myself with the utmost of ease and I feel mostly safe. I can conduct my life as I see fit, for the most part, without interference, censorship or fear of being killed for just being me. And as an American, I believe that the opportunities that I am afforded should be available to anyone in the world that is willing to come here, work hard, be true, be honest and stand shoulder to shoulder with me as an American citizen. Honestly, I don’t care if you’re black, white, brown, yellow, mauve or drink vodka for breakfast.

We just need to humble about it.

A good portion of the American populace gets off on war. We thrive of competition. Video games, movies, television shows, all of it is about strife. Reality shows are about discord. We are adrenaline junkies and we are not happy unless there’s a threat of a zombie attacking us at any moment. Bad guys lurk everywhere, even if we have to remind you that there’s an impossibly small chance that you’re going to have a bad guy come after you at any given moment. We build huge stadiums next to overcrowded high schools that are falling down, just so we can scream and make other noises that our school is the best at (insert sport here). Apps on our little technological wonders of communication (smartphones) match us up against strangers when we do something as simple as take a morning walk. We earn points, likes, stars, hearts, retweets and shares to stoke our ego. You, too, can go viral!

I often wonder what it is like to live somewhere where folks have more security in themselves. Where they don’t need to be told how great they are at every given turn. Where there are no trophies for participation. Where they don’t need to be constantly reminded that they live in the greatest country on the planet. What is that like? Does it still exist?

Last night I watched Donald Trump give his nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. His speech was filled with many buzzwords, a bunch of catch phrases and a whole lot of sound bites that will be perfect for the news burps that are designed for the average American with the attention span of a gnat. His name was projected in outrageously gold letters, his skin had a strikingly similar hue and his words, while plentiful, struck hollow. Apparently there’s a lot he’s going to do as President, right from Day One, but no one has a clue as to how he’s going to accomplish this, what with the three branches of the United States government and whatnot. There was much praise, USUALLY IN CAPS, about how great his speech was, especially because he uttered the letters, L-G-B-T-Q.  He is going to keep the gay folks safe. However, if the GOP Platform is realized, we can’t get married, our jobs are always in jeopardy and God forbid we buy a cake in Indiana, but Trump is going to do right by us and be wonderful.  WONDERFUL!

Please people, please calm down. And don’t get me started about that damn wall along the southern border.

Can we find our place back to humility? Can we go back to being the greatest country on the planet without constantly beating our chests screeching about it, wearing red, white and blue war paint on our faces and telling the rest of the world they suck? And can we start listening? Has substance given way to sound bites? Is there a chance that common sense will become common again?

Can we just do what we do, as best as we can, without screaming “oh my god look at me I’m awesome!” all the time?

Pure Inspiration.

Occasionally I need to crank up this video early in the morning to find my inspiration. The lyrics, music and beautiful voice of Mama Cass Elliot in “Make Your Own Kind of Music (Yum Club Remix)” inspire me in so many wonderful ways.

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Insert Witty Eye Catching Title Here Because I Don’t Really Care.

I need to just turn off social media today. I need to turn off anything that purports itself as a news station for the foreseeable future. Hell, I need to turn off the television, period.

I have grown so weary of stupid people trying to get themselves into power and stupid people trying to put stupid people into power. Let’s face it, I’m just tired of stupid people, and unfortunately, being stupid is très chic in these here United States.

I am so drained from the sheer idiocy being displayed by “my fellow Americans” that I can’t even begin to figure out how I’m going to make it through the next four months of these stupid dog and pony shows that pass themselves off as the “American Electoral Process”.

Plastic faces. Stolen speeches. Stupid ideas. Hateful words.

I am better than this. We are better than this. Electing the next leader of “The Greatest Country In The World”™ should not parallel the likes of your standard, bottom-feeding, scrub grubbing reality show. And this is exactly what we have, a reality show that caters to the stupidest people in the country.

Look, I get that I’m different. I think differently. I see things in a different light. I don’t have a lot of tolerance and I’m often short on patience. And it’s my observation from this far off the beam that makes me realize I just need to shut down the computer and tune out the sheer lunacy, stupidity and idiocy that has gripped this nation.

Either that or we need to move.

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Passion.

I’m a pretty lucky guy. I’ve made it into my late 40s relatively unscathed. I met the love of my life at a fairly young age and we have a good, albeit non-traditional, little family with Jamie. My career is going well and I enjoy my job. I get to work from home. We have a nice home.

When I rediscovered my passion for aviation a few years ago, and subsequently began the path of a pilot, I immediately knew that flying an airplane was meant to be my second love. If I was 10 or 15 years younger, I’d definitely be pursuing a new career as a pilot, or at the very least, an air traffic controller. This is not to diminish what I do as a Software Engineer. I like my job a lot. I don’t dread going to work in any way. This is the best tech gig I’ve ever had.

But it’s not flying.

One of the distractions about working from home (and I’ve mentioned this before) is that we live directly under the approach for the local airport, Griffiss International Airport (KRME). While Griffiss is not a commercial airport in that we don’t have passenger airlines coming in and out all day long, it does get quite a bit of air traffic for the repair facilities on the field. The runway at Griffiss is one of the longest in the Northeastern U.S. (it’s over two miles long) and because of this, military aircraft from the bases (Fort Drum, Stewart AFB, McGuire AFB) visit on a nearly daily basis to do their practice work up here. Long story short, we have a lot of airplanes that fly over the house every day.

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As a quick aside, whenever I fly over the house in one of the club airplanes as I make my way to runway 33, I send Earl a text message that says “Beep Beep!”.  If it’s at night I’ll flash the landing light at him.  He responds with “Toot Toot!”.

I really like going outside to just watch the airplanes and helicopters fly over the house and I really wish I was up there flying those airplanes.

My passion really is aviation. Twenty, thirty, thirty-five years ago I would have called it a “strong interest”. Back in my pre-pilot days, Earl and I spent many afternoons sitting at the end of a runway or in an airport observation area watching airplanes do their thing. In the back of my mind I knew that I would get to fly (non-commercially) at least three, four times a year with my dad as he was a private pilot. It wasn’t until after my dad died, when I was standing in the receiving line at his calling hours, that I realized that I could not leave my feet on the ground for the rest of my life. It was then that my strong interest sparked into a full blown passion, and Earl can attest to the fact that aviation, and more specifically, flying an airplane, has taken over my life.

I am so lucky that I married the man that I did. He refuses to be a ground-based pilot’s spouse and wants to fly with me as much as he can. The man has to be a saint.

With plans to earn more ratings and further my aviation career, I’m finding that there’s no denying that I’ve become a Pilot Obsessed. I have no plans in changing my official, income-generating career, because as I said before, I like what I do.

But I definitely know what my passion is.

 

 

Scandalized.

So Earl and I have been binge watching “Scandal” since late spring, trying to catch up with the existing five seasons so we could hit the ground running this autumn with the premiere of season 6. 

A week or two ago I mentioned this to my friend Christine, who is an über media guru, and she cautioned that we were watching “peak Scandal” as we made our way through season 2 (at the time). Tonight we watched the mid-season/winter premiere of season 4. The episode is entitled “Run” (season 4 episode 10) and it was just awful. Miserable. Dreadful. Any snappy dialog was gone. The politics of D.C. were out the window. There were hardly any familiar characters. No one was “fixing” anything (as the main character is known for “fixing” situations, she was nowhere near herself.) The music included dubstep idiocy with choppy and screwy cinematography. 

I paused Netflix through about 4/5th of the episode (it was actually about 8 minutes in) and asked Earl if he was enjoying himself. He responded to the negative. I declared that I hated it but we trudged on through the episode and came to the end of it.

It was then that I swore I would never watch another episode of “Scandal” again. It assaulted my sensibilities. It insulted my intelligence, and without giving away any of the plot, here’s why:

1. The main character, who is known for being smart, on top of her game, able to fix any situation, drops a gun after shooting a man, even though she knows there’s more men to shoot. She basically dropped the gun down a plot hole.

2. The other main character of the episode, a man that has never been seen before this episode, has been a prisoner for a very long time, though he’s quite groomed looking with a clean shave and everything. The bathroom that they keep showing is disgusting and the female lead is having a bad hair day because she can’t shower or do her hair, but by god the man can shave daily.

3. Did I mention the god awful wailing sounds of the soundtrack, coupled with idiotic rewinds, alternating slow and fast motion sequences and that god awful dubstep music? It made me wish for the technology where Jaime Somers could jump with a ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba bum sound.

4. There was absolutely nothing familiar about the plot, the show or the premise of the show. For all we know this could have been a backdoor pilot for “How To Make A Woman’s Hair Frizz in 40 Minutes”

5. The god awful dubstep and wailing was punctuated with old dialog echoing over and over and over again. We get it, “Shondaland”, you have nifty computer toys in your editing studio.

When the episode was over I swore, today, on my 48th birthday, that I would never watch another episode of “Scandal”. And I won’t. I’m steadfast on that, just as quickly as I dropped “Private Practice” when that drug woman came in or “The West Wing” when CJ decided to sleep with the Vice President.

It is abundantly clear that this was an award nomination grab of the most gratuitous, masturbatory degree possible. Every line, every wailing noise, every dubstep horror, every special effect dripped of “someone should get an award for THIS! NOW!”

Such a friggin’ disappointment. I’ve read numerous times that Shonda Rhimes can get a series going but she can’t keep one going for more than a season or two.

It would appear that she’s living up to that hype. ’Tis a pity.

 

Four Dozen Complete.

I’ve used this picture before on a birthday post.

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Taken on my 10th birthday, I’m sitting in front of an airplane hangar holding a cake that appears to have a spiderweb on it. It was taken in 1978.

Today I officially completed four dozen years. The fifth dozen begins today. I’m not even halfway to the finish line yet. 

My birthday was wonderful, lovely and low key. Earl bought me some pilot goodies as a present. We also had a delicious steak dinner, complete with salt potatoes, corn on the cob and strawberry shortcake prepared properly with biscuits because angel food cups are a city thing. And I’m a country boy. Thank god I’m a country boy. 

Now I’m singing.

New.

Well, after losing my 2013 MacBook Pro to someone’s hot little hands last week, I spent a few days deciding what I wanted to do for a new computer. Last night I decided that I couldn’t live without a laptop, so today Earl and I trekked to the Apple store and I picked up a new 15-inch MacBook Pro.

It’s pretty tricked out and I am quite pleased with the purchase. I love the enhancements that I didn’t have on my lost computer: a slightly better keyboard and a “Force-Touch” trackpad. I also opted for a bigger hard drive and now I’ll be able to edit my flight videos again. You’ve been warned.

Unboxing a new Mac is always a great geek time in our MacInHouse. I’m like a kid with a new toy.

Because that is indeed the truth of what I am.

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