Presidents’ Day.

Today is Presidents’ Day in some states of the United States. In some states it’s President’s Day, in others it’s Washington’s Birthday. Ironically, even though we live in the Land of Lincoln, today is Washington’s Birthday. The TV ads tell us we should buy a mattress because it’s Presidents Day.

What to do with that apostrophe?

When this holiday, whatever it’s called, rolls around in February I always fall out of step with the world around me. I don’t feel compelled to buy a car or a mattress. Today Facebook told me I should be buying Rosetta Stone language software so I can “speak like a President”.

In this day and age no one should aspire to speak like that idiot.

Today I took a moment to remember the Presidents I have experienced in 49 years on this planet. I remember everyone from Nixon onward, though my strongest Presidential memories start with Carter. We were served lots of peanuts in elementary school during his administration.

Remember when the President was presidential? Don’t let that memory fade and do something about it.

Olé!

Follow.

Sometimes I lead, sometimes I follow. The more confident of us is the one with what I call Grrr-isma. He can own the room in seconds; I need to go through a few warm-up exercises and tip toe in from the shallow in. He is my rock. He’s my biggest fan. I don’t think words can express my true feelings. I’m rarely without words but he leaves me speechless.

He is my love.

Identifying Advertising: A Proposal.

There’s a lot of discussion these days about Facebook ads and Twitter ads and Russian bots and every other complication you can think of plaguing today’s U.S. society. So I’m proposing a solution to try to get a handle on this.

I still need a snappy name, but basically it’s a “U.S. Real Advertising Identification Law” (RAIL doesn’t really get headlines though).

Basically, it’d work like this:

  • All advertising or promotion must be identified as an advertisement. The media in which the advertisement is delivered doesn’t matter. All advertisements must be “bordered” in some way: visual ads must be bordered with a red, unobstructed border around the entire ad and audio ads must be prefaced with “This is an advertisement” presented in a natural, non-time-compressed, unobscured, standard reading. The visual borders would be standardized regardless of advertiser. One standard shade of red. Black and white ads would used a “hashed” pattern border. The audio “borders” would use standardized language. It doesn’t matter if it’s a political ad, an ad for snack food, or an ad for the latest rage in pharmaceuticals. All ads: red border for visuals and an introductory line for audio ads.
  • All advertising must identify the name of advertiser and the country of origin. These would be similar to the “Paid for by ..” tags on all political ads, but would be a requirement for EVERY ad appearing on ALL media. Any ad with an audio component would require this to be part of the spoken copy.
  • All media outlets presenting advertising content must keep a record of every ad generated including the content, the company that purchased or requested the ad space, the country of origin for the party making the request, and the method of funding for the ad, including any barter or trade efforts and what was exchanged in these instances.
  • These regulations would apply to every type of advertising found in the United States and any future type of advertising: television, radio, billboards, newspaper, and any ad found on the Internet. There would be no exemptions. Any content designed to promote anything would fall under these regulations.
  • Any digital advertising intended for a U.S. audience, even if generated on servers on foreign soil, must adhere to these regulations.

These efforts would help curb this trend of online content providers trying to embed ads in their social media streams like just another post, much like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook do today. Any advertisement being disguised as a news source would be immediately identified.

I understand that much of what we see on the Internet is fueled by ad revenue. I’m not trying to impede these efforts, instead I’m trying to make sure there’s a very clear delineation between content and advertising.

Wing.

I posted this on Facebook earlier today.

When I introduce myself to other pilots I tend to say, “I’m a third-generation Private Pilot. With the last name ‘Wing’, you kind of have to be.” Some will say, “oh, you’re a pilot like your Dad.” All of this is true, and while my Dad and I never flew together with me in the left seat, I’m sure he would approve of my aviator abilities.

On one hand, we are very similar pilots: Like him, I like smaller airports, I like seeing things fairly low and slow and I share his appreciation of the older GA aircraft that populate the skies. But in other ways we are somewhat opposite in our approach: I think the new technology is cool, I like low-wing (he did not), I like talking to ATC (he avoided towered airports) and while he wanted to build airplanes (and ended up building or rebuilding three of them), I have absolutely no talent nor interest in doing so. I want to continue my aviation path to CFI and maybe beyond, he was happy flying VFR in an open cockpit.

The one thing that is definitely common amongst all three generations of us Wing pilots: we have a big smile from beginning to end of each flight. In the photo of me standing next to the Archer III I’m wearing my Dad’s flight jacket. I wear it once in a while. It makes my smile even a little bit bigger. And I count my blessings for having a spouse that loves to fly with me.

Transit.

One of the things I love about living in a large city is the availability of public transit. Earl and I live well within reach of one of the CTA “L” lines, specifically the Brown Line. We can be downtown in less than a half hour. We can be at Jamie and Chris’ house in Albany Park in less than 20 minutes. However, it does take us over an hour to get to O’Hare by train, as we have to go to the Loop, transfer to the Blue Line, and then ride all the way out to O’Hare. That part hasn’t ever really made sense to me.

When we decided to move to Chicago I declared it was my intention to use public transit or walk as much as possible. I’d take the train, take a bus, or enjoy the walk anywhere my feet would take me. If the train doesn’t go where we want to go, I always suggest Lyft before driving. I like to save the driving for places outside of the city, like when I go to Chicago Executive Airport to fly or something.

Everyone else in the family is more apt to drive.

It’s not that I don’t like driving; I love driving, even in the city. It’s just that it seems so un-city like to drive everywhere, especially to places where public transit is a very valid option. I’d rather deal with a drunk on the train than city in traffic on the Kennedy for an hour just to go three miles.

I think public transit is the wave of the future. Making a city realistically easy to navigate via train, bus, or as a pedestrian seems to be the way to go. And this is coming from a guy who’s dreamed of designing roads all his life.

Walk.

Since a regular day involves working nine to ten hours in the home office, there are some days where I need to get out and be around people. I walk the neighborhood every day in the name of exercise, but I can get only so far during my 20 minute walks. After supper tonight I suggested to Earl that we go for a walk downtown. So we hopped on the train.

We decided to walk the Magnificent Mile. It was a beautiful night to walk; it’s seasonably comfortable and the energy of this beautiful city energized me to get me through the end of the week.

We took a brief stop over the river to grab a couple of shots. If you know where this is taken, the camera is strategically placed to leave out one garish “landmark” that was added to the downtown area in the past couple of years.

Perfection.


Earl bought me flowers for Valentine’s Day. I find this simple arrangement quite beautiful; I think it looks great on the dining room buffet, but Earl is a little disappointed because it’s not the arrangement he ordered. He strives for his definition of perfection and when expectations are not met, he let’s the folks responsible for his displeasure know his feelings. There’s nothing wrong with this, in fact, I love him for it.

I still love this simple arrangement. I am going to enjoy watching it bloom and grow in front of our balcony windows this spring.

It’s the simple things that help me see fireworks on a daily basis. In my eyes there’s not much that happens outside of the realm of perfection in my life; I’m pretty easy to please and even though I’m quite opinionated and vocal on Twitter, I tend to find contentment fairly easily, at least when I’m not in a contemplative mood.

Tonight we met up with Jamie and Chris for Indian Food as a Valentine’s Day celebration. It was a lovely experience and I was very happy to be with the men I love. Blood relatives and chosen family: I have been lucky in all regards.

Now that is perfection.

Chip Off The Old Block.

My father had the habit of saying “Jumpin’ Mice”. Other than that he rarely cussed, which is something that I really admired about my dad. I can probably count the number of times my father dropped foul language on one hand.

I’m trying really hard to get out of the habit of swearing but “Jumpin’ Mice” has solidified itself in my lexicon. That’s not an awful thing.

Dressed.

Earl snapped a photo of me this morning

There’s a popular misconception that people working from home are lounging around in their pajamas, feet propped up on a cat, with Sally Jesse Rafael blaring on the television playing Solitaire on their over-powered company laptop. They answer an email or two just to look productive. They then join a conference call on a sketchy VoIP connection, asking repeatedly if they’re on mute or not and then proclaiming that they have a hard stop at a random time that ends in 2.

As a full-time telecommuter I can safely say this is not how it works. At least in the circles in which I travel.

When it’s time to start my workday, I am up, showered, dressed and ready to tackle my career responsibilities at the beginning of the workday. Admittedly, it takes a good amount of discipline to maintain this structure on the darkest of winter days, but the rewards of telecommuting force me to stay focused. I don’t want to lose this gig because of bad work practices. That would be such a petty reason to lose a job.

The key to productive, at least for me, is being properly dressed and more importantly, not working barefoot. Back in my 20s I would work barefoot in the office. I worked at a radio station at the time; the office was in the basement of the owner’s house and I would pad around from studio to workstation in my bare feet like some hippy wannabe. That worked for my 20s, it does not work for a man at the very end of his 40s. I write lots of code, I lead a team of seven, and I am often part of video conference calls, after all, they’re all the rage now. I need to look my best but more importantly, I need to feel like I look my best to be productive. It’s the leader to a great state of mind.

Now, having Virtual Office IL1.02 (my official designation) has its perks. Earl makes me breakfast and lunch 95% of the time. My schedule allows me a little bit of flexibility; I am able to work my most productive hours of the day. I know I need to get my meetings out of the way in the morning because I write better code in the afternoon. I’ve worked from the car on more than one occasion as Earl and I have made our way back east for the holidays or something. Conversely, when I solve a coding problem in my dreams, I can get up, fire up the computer, and write the winning code and then sleep a few extra minutes the following morning. Personally I am most productive working from home. I don’t need the socialization of an office environment. I actually find it very distracting, though when I have worked in the office those around me mean well.

Ideally I want to do a little more of the Digital Nomad thing during the summer months but work replaced my beautiful MacBook Pro with a Dell Ultrabook with a horrible screen resolution (1366×768). I don’t mind Windows 10, but the screen resolution is like trying to write code on an Etch-A-Sketch. This can be frustrating. I hope to have that rectified before the nice weather rolls around.

They say we need to dress for success; dress for the position you want, not the position you have. Working in my PJs would run contrary to this. I might even slip on a tie before the end of the week.

It feels good to look good.