Happy Independence Day!

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When I was a kid, the Fourth of July was spent at my great Aunt Frances’ house. An old farmhouse, she had a decent sized pond with two rowboats that we’d spend most of the day boating around in. One of the boats had a leak and either me or one of my cousins were designated to bail out the boat with a coffee can while the others cruised around on a three-hour tour.

One year, my two youngest cousins on that side of the family got into a fight (they were still aged in the single digits at the time) and made a big spectacle fighting in the intact boat in the middle of the pond. In a classic Laura/Nellie “Little House on the Prairie” moment, my cousin that became an animal keeper at a zoo shoved the cousin that became a Christian missionary out of the boat and into the pond. The velocity of the screams intensified and I might have suggested that there were snakes in the pond (I think I was 12 or so), which probably didn’t help the situation.

Good times, those family gatherings, good times.

We always had birthday cake at this family reunion. For the longest time I thought we were celebrating Independence Day with a birthday cake, which is kind of nifty if you think about it, but we were having cake to celebrate my great Aunt Rena’s birthday, which was July 4. Curiously, I dreamed about Aunt Rena last night, though she’s been gone for at least 15 years. She taught third grade for seemingly hundreds of years. I always likened her to Aunt Clara from “Bewitched”. She had a nice disposition. I enjoyed her.

Today I enjoy celebrating our country’s birthday but I’m not one to go around screaming “We are number one! We are number one!” because I think that’s too showy. I’ll enjoy a few barbecue items, eat some chips, watch some fireworks and thank our founding fathers for coming up with a great way to build a country.

And as others have mentioned around the Internet, no one wears the red, white and blue as well as Lynda Carter.

Continuance.

Having a little more free time to relax and recover yesterday and today, I found myself drifting deep into the early years of my blog. It struck me that my blog will turn 14 years old this summer, with the first entry in what I was calling “my journal” was from August 2001. My first blog entry talked about flying with my Dad in his homebuilt Acro-Sport II for the very first time. The last sentence of the entry, “I imagine I’ll be a private pilot someday.” seemed to be quite accurate.

Reading through the millions of words I have written over the years made me once again miss when I would take the time to sit down and write a blog entry, whether it was a creative missive, a small observation or my attempt of conveying my opinion on any given topic, versus the habit of belching out something witty in 140 characters or less on Twitter or blasting my own horn on Facebook. Over the years many blogs have come and gone and quite frankly, I miss them a lot.  I used to track everyone’s blogs via Google Reader but Google decided that they couldn’t monetize that information stream so they killed that application. I have a couple of other applications that I use instead (Feedly, TT Reader) but the experience isn’t the same. I don’t think the degradation in experience is entirely because of Google Reader’s disappearance; people are just in too much of a hurry to sit down and write a blog entry. So many blogs end like many sitcoms, no final, wrap-up episode, it just ends on a typical note.

I figure if my blog can survive the MySpace era, it can continue to exist in the Twitter and Facebook era. Unlike 90% of the blogs out there which talk about important subjects and have opinion and conjection spun into a representation of the truth, my blog has always been a creative outlet. It’s the precursor to the selfie (and I’d like to think much less obnoxious). It gives insight to my life and the way I think in a more complete manner. Usually I think before I write. I’m not trying to entertain, I’m just trying to be myself here. 

Looking back at the entries I wrote in 2005, when I had the same surgical procedure that I’m recovering from right now, it’s amazing to see how much things have changed and yet stayed the same. The world is in turmoil, I’m obsessed with gadgets and I’m still trying to lose weight. On the last point, with all the weight I’ve lost in my adult years I should be about the weight of a bedsheet by now. Have you ever tried to put skinny jeans on a bedsheet? Not a pretty picture. So what’s changed? I’ve grown a little more conservative in my expectations of the general public and I’m definitely not as salacious as I used to be. I’ve told Earl that once I have the hardware from the surgery removed, I’ll probably be much more randy than I’ve been over the past year or so. He said he’ll prepare for the event and then he smiled.

I don’t think I’ll write about that, though.

With everyone’s reliance on texts and tweets and status updates, I wonder what the world will be like in a decade or two after the “abbreviated communication” crowd grows older. It could be that my blog will still be around, looking as ancient as the penmanship on the Declaration of Independence.

Hopefully it’ll still make people smile.

Almost Like New.

Another discussion that some may find to be TMI. Please feel free to skip this entry if you get squeamish.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table ready to head to bed as soon as I get ready to do so. Today was a fairly good day; the surgery went well, everyone at the hospital was friendly and thankfully, the doctor didn’t have to insert what’s known as a Supra Pubic Catheter. I had not one, not two, not three, but four strictures, or clumps of scar tissue, that had to be removed. The pictures of the surgery show my urethra to now be clean as whistle and I am wearing a regular catheter for the next 10 days. I’ll be able to take it out the day before my birthday.

That will be a nice birthday present.

After carrying around nearly 900 ml of fluid in my bladder for who knows how long, I feel great not having that “I have to pee” feeling on a constant basis. Things are flowing through the catheter and with the help of some pain medicine, I’m feeling alright. In fact, I’m pretty sure I feel better than I did at this stage of the game back when I had the same procedure in 2005. It could be because I know what to expect, but I’m doing alright. A little groggy but in good spirits.

Earl was kind enough to take a couple of photos (with my consent, and maybe I suggested it for posterity’s sake), before and after the surgery. I don’t think I look too bad.

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Bionics Upgrade v4.0.

Some may find this post to be TMI, as it talks about my health and some of areas of the body that some find inappropriate for conversation. I write about this in case others may have the same issue and are searching the Internet for similar experiences. If you don’t want to read about “my junk”, please feel free to go to Google and search for something more pleasant to read. I won’t be offended.

There are a couple of opinions as to why I’m about to talk about what I’m going to talk about. Some say that I was born with a birth defect. Others have told me that somehow inflicted some sort of trauma to this particular spot, maybe as the result of hitting the handlebars as a kid or something. Personally I wonder if aliens were involved and they got carried away with one of their experiments or something.

Whatever the case, the scar tissue has returned after a decade of behaving itself.

Curious as to what I’m talking about? Well, I discuss the last ‘bionics upgrade’ here, so I won’t get into the nitty gritty. The short version of the story is, scar tissue grows in my urethra and because of this, I find myself unable to urinate in a normal manner. All has been well until earlier this year, when my “stream” slowed down. A visit to the urologist confirmed that the scar tissue was returning. That occasion marked a first as it was the first time someone took an X-ray of my junk.

The difficulties have continued, so I had a follow up with the urologist today. After going the bathroom, some poking, prodding and measuring determined that I still had 850ml of urine left in my bladder.

That’s almost one liter!

So tomorrow morning, bright and early at 6:00 AM, I’m undergoing a repeat surgery of the procedures I had in 1982, 1986 and 2005. I’m hopeful that this will correct the issue for another decade. The urologist cautioned that if he can’t do what he did before that they’ll have to put in a catheter outside of my junk until they can do a different procedure. However, things are still working better than they did back in ’05, so I’m hopeful that it won’t come to that measure.

When he told me that he could do the surgery tomorrow I have to admit that I was relieved (no pun intended). I really want to get this taken care of so I can get on with my summer.

I’m happy that I only have to obsess about this for just 24 hours before the actual procedure.

Marriage.

So today the Supreme Court of the United States announced their decision in regards to Same Sex Marriage. The 14th amendment of the constitution guarantees the right to marriage to ALL Americans and from this moment forward, Same Sex Marriage is legal in all 50 states of the United States.

Earl and I have been legally married since October 2011, shortly after Same Sex Marriage was legal in New York State. The legality of our marriage has weighed heavily on life decisions: where will we move, where will I work, etc. This is no longer a factor, we can live in any state in the union and be legally married.

What an incredible feeling.

I was on a conference call at work when the decision came down. I had to make sure the phone was muted as I cried tears of happiness. I didn’t expect to be emotional about the decision but I was. It was like a weight was lifted, even though we’ve had it pretty good here in Upstate New York.

We are married all of the USA now. Our friends in other states can now get married.

And it is an incredible feeling.

Type Here.

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So today at work I blazed through an entire workday of writing code and doing magical things with databases. I’m writing a web application that is going to greatly enhance the work lives of the members of our team; at least, that is my goal and why I’m getting paid the big bucks. I found that I have a certain style when designing an application and luckily that style seems to be user friendly. I have yet to receive any serious complaints about the applications I design

My new company provided me with a 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt display to pair up with the provided 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina (something I negotiated when accepting the position). I didn’t think that the 27-inch display would make that much of a difference when compared to the 24-inch display I had from my old company, but I was wrong. Though my workflow is similar to my previous job, I feel like I have a whole lot more room in those extra three diagonal inches in the monitor.

As I was headed back to work after lunch I noticed in that in the corner of our “tool room” was a cheap Logitech keyboard that used to be attached to one of the Linux servers in our basement, because after all, every home needs a basement with multiple Linux servers. I remembered typing on that keyboard and enjoying the experience, so I decided to hook it up to my work Mac setup and give it a whirl for coding this afternoon.

It enhanced my typing experience.

Now, I type on a computer keyboard for a living. I type on computer keyboards for fun. While I love my Macs, I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the keyboards they build into their MacBooks and the external keyboards they provide. Truth be told, my favorite keyboard is the old IBM Model M. Apple is all about making everything as thin as possible, and the key travel has been shrinking over the years. The last time I was in an Apple store I tried out the newest design of keyboards built into the new MacBooks and I have to say I wasn’t impressed. It may be because I grew up on computers built in the 1980s, but I want a keyboard that’s going to click and clack and I want the keys to travel down to a stop with a satisfying thunk. I want to feel my letters as they appear on the screen.

I’m rather heavy handed with my typing.

When I type in front of someone for the first time, there’s a chance that I’ll receive a comment about how fast I type. I’ve tested as high as 115-120 words per minute, though I don’t think I type that fast anymore, because after all, I’m not as young and spry as I used to be. I have my mother to thank for my typing speed; when I was eight or so years old I was goofing around with her old Royal manual typewriter and she told me that if I was going to play around with a typewriter, I was going to use the correct fingers so she taught me how to type while I was still in elementary school. By fifth or sixth grade I could type faster than the secretary in the principal’s office (when armed with an electric typewriter). By all accounts I should have probably become a professional secretary of the male persuasion, but I don’t think I would have enjoyed bouncing on the boss’ knee.

I think I’ve gone off on a tangent.

Back to keyboards in today’s world. I’m not a fan of what the tech companies are offering as standard equipment today. The cheap Logitech keyboard I started using today gives a pleasant but not excellent experience. I like the travel of the keys, there is some satisfaction in the clunk and I confirmed with one of the online typing tests that I can type faster on that than I can on a standard issue Mac keyboard, but I’m still feeling a little restless about the whole keyboard experience.

I think I’m going to purchase one of these: the Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac. I’ve read some positive reviews from some keyboard snobs such as myself and I feel encouraged, but for that kind of cash I think I need to do a little more research.

If any of my gentle readers have used such a beast as the Das Keyboard for Mac, or have another keyboard they would recommend based on my blathering above, I would love to hear from you in the comments.

In the meanwhile, type on, fellow typists and remember to bounce gently on the knee.

Clocks.

It’s not secret that I am fascinated by “connected clocks”, or clocks that are synchronized by some method, whether it’s wired, wireless or smoke signals. I have a collection of old slave clocks wired throughout the house. They were all made by The Standard Electric Time Company and were commonly found in schools, factories and other industrial buildings. The clocks in the house advance once a minute with an audible click-click. They are controlled by an old computer in the basement running Linux and a program I wrote years ago in BASIC. My collection of clocks span manufactured years of 1920 to 1955. I’ve been fascinated by connected clocks since my first day of kindergarten in Mrs. Mosher’s room, Room 5 at Lura Sharp Elementary School.

A lot of airports have connected clocks of some sort. I’m typing this blog entry at DTW, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. The terminals here at DTW are quite nice and modern. There are clocks everywhere. I don’t know this for certain, but I believe the two terminal buildings were built at different times. Someone obviously made the effort to try to make the airport experience cohesive, the building housing the B and C gates is smaller but similar in design to the building housing the A gates. Remarkably (at least to me), the clocks in what feels like the newer building have the same design as the original, however, they’re not made by the same company.

Terminal A building.
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Terminal B building.
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Ordinary people would take a passing glance and might notice that the clocks are the same throughout the airport. On closer inspection, one can tell that Terminal A’s clocks are made by Simplex but Terminal B’s clocks are not marked with the name of the manufacturer. I suspect that the latter was made by American Time and Signal, a small company in Dassel, Minn., but I can’t be certain with asking someone.

And I might just do that.

My OCD tendencies demand that clocks all read the same time. As a child I couldn’t stand it if the VCR was a minute off from my alarm clock or something of that nature. Luckily, today’s connected world lends itself to clocks more likely reading the same time.

And even though it’s been over 40 years since I sat in Room 5 in Kindergarten, I find all of these connected clocks to still be quite fascinating.

Senseless.

Every time I see the photos of the nine people murdered in South Carolina I feel a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. When I saw the expressionless face of the young man who fired the shots, I get angry. My naive mind can not comprehend the thought processes involved in making the willful decisions to commit such a heinous act. I just can’t understand it.

When I first heard the voices of family members of the victims telling the accused that they forgive him, I cried, right there in front of the television set.

None of this makes sense to me. The fact that there are Confederate flags flying over government buildings in South Carolina pisses me off. I’d like to think that there will be change in our country, but my gut tells me there won’t be. 

It’s time for change. We need to be a citizenry of good people. We need to be good to one another. I know that I will be more vocal if people make insensitive remarks or jokes based on the differences in another. It’s a small thing, but maybe a million small things can help a big thing.

Rest in peace, innocent people. 

  

Delta 2274. 

So I’m a flight from Raleigh-Durham to Detroit. After a three hour layover in Detroit I will be headed home. Flight plans for the coming week all involve me as pilot; no commercial flights in the next few weeks.

This is my eleventh commercial flight in the past ten days, and I’m kind of happy about that because with today’s flight I become a Delta Silver Medallion customer for 2016. It’s a little thing but it makes me feel good. I’ve been quite happy with Delta Airlines, save for that incident when we went to Vancouver and the flight attendant was hurt after not putting her seat belt on for takeoff.

I’m finally catching my breath after a whirlwind of travel and adjusting to the new job. This coming week will be the third week of the new job but my first week of working from home, which is now my official office. The team I belong to is based in Greenville, S.C. but my employee profile pegs me as an employee of Central New York. This is quite comforting to me.

The new job is going splendidly. Last week I was part of a meeting for the management team of the group and it was during that meeting that I felt like I had made the absolute right decision for my career to move to this new opportunity.

The only drawback thus far is being away from Earl and Jamie as much as I have been over the past two weeks. This weekend I visited our friends Jeff and Mark in the Raleigh-Durham area; this trip was planned prior to the new gig. It was a great weekend.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming layover in Detroit. I’ll enjoy a little dinner, do some people watching and live the life of a jet setter. Earl and I just made flight plans for the holidays in December because we wanted to get a really good rate.

So much life to look forward to.