Belief.

Love where you live. It’s as simple as that. Even though it’s been 2 1/2 years since our relocation to the third largest city in the United States, I can not believe that we are lucky enough to live in such a wonderful place.

Yes, I grew up in the country. I lived on a farm. My high school graduating class was in the double digits. But living in the city is perfect for us and I still can’t believe I have such an honor.

Little Geek.

Bell and Howell 16mm Movie Projector. Not my photo.

My second grade teacher was Mrs. Hayden. Situated in Room 108, Mrs. Hayden and second grade is probably the year I best remember from my elementary school years. Spelling tests included the word “deer”, when used in a sentence. We added and subtracted multiple columns of numbers. I was in the most advanced of the reading groups (there were three) and, if I’m remembering correctly, we went through two books of the Lippincott Early Reader series (maybe C and D?).

We had our desks arranged in rows and I sat in the back corner by the sink. Occasionally Mrs. Hayden would let me turn my desk sideways against the wall as I worked on my “seat work”. I wasn’t in trouble or anything, I think she just knew I needed a change of scenery once in a while. She smiled nicely and chatted with us in a way that made us feel like little adults. I remember one lunch time she told us her first name and that her husband was a barber. She lived in the next town over and drove through the snow to come to school everyday.

Mrs. Hayden knew I was a little geek; I was fascinated with the built-in vacuum system that we’d hold the blackboard erasers against on Friday afternoons to clean out the chalk dust. When the clock stopped (along with all the other clocks in the school), she let me go down to the office to turn in the attendance cards, where I watched the repairman work on the clock hanging behind Mrs. Youngs’ (the principal’s secretary) desk.

But most importantly in my second grade mind, Mrs. Hayden designated me as the person to run the Bell and Howell (or sometimes Singer) movie projector when it was time to watch 16 mm movies. At the beginning of the year she fumbled with the self-loading mechanism of the Bell and Howell projector and then I asked her if I could try loading it. I was successful and from that moment and throughout the year I ran the movie projector. I wore this as a huge badge of honor and only on one or two occasions did another person run the movie projector that year.

Perhaps my disappointment in those one or two occasions is why my desk was turned against the wall next to the sink.

Of all the teachers I had during my elementary years through the end of Grade Six, Mrs. Hayden was the one that really “got” me. I felt comfortable around her, I felt like I learned around her, and I excelled at my studies that year. She never seemed to get angry when someone was misbehaving, in fact, I don’t remember any incidents of anyone misbehaving that year.

Today our home in Chicago is situated near the old Bell and Howell factory complex where they made those movie projectors. During my walks of exercise I often walk by “Bell & Howell Lofts” and I think of Mrs. Hayden. She retired nearly 20 years ago. I found her profile on Facebook a few years ago and she is still as pretty as I remember her to be back in 1975.

I hope when she looks back on her teaching career she smiles about her experiences with all those students as much as I do when remembering how she encouraged me to be a little geek.

Martin Luther King Jr Day

Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day in the United States. It is a Federal holiday and Federal offices are closed, as well as the associated suspects; banks, etc. I am off from work today as it is a recognized company holiday.

Back when I was working for Frontier Communications I was a bit surprised by the number of employees who elected to not take this day off, as the particular area of the company I worked in delegated the day as an optional holiday. I worked in a 24/7 Network Operations Center. When I first started there I always thought MLK Jr Day would be handled like a weekend day, much like Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc. are handled. But the NOC Manager felt MLK Jr wasn’t a super important holiday and therefore it was decided it could be a regular work day and one could take the holiday time elsewhere in the year.

This always bothered me.

Can you imagine if the same suggestion was offered around Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, or any of the other traditional U.S. holidays? There would have been voices of objection and people carrying on about a lack of patriotism, etc. if the same approach was used for Independence Day.

As a manager I get that the timing of MLK Jr Day puts a small hiccup in the momentum one is usually trying to build at the beginning of the year. But in reality it’s not that big of a deal. We pause on this day to remember a man who made significant, important contributions to the fabric of our society. Choosing to skip his birthday remembrance as a “really not important holiday” is kind of rude and revealing of why his contributions are important to begin with.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

The full text of MLK Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech can be read here.

2100.

During my daily walk this morning I came to the realization that children born today will most likely live to see the year 2100, assuming the planet is still inhabitable by humans by then.

I definitely will not.

All of my life I’ve focused on the future and life in the 2000s, and here we are. I guess I never considered 2100 and what life would be like because I knew I wouldn’t be around, in this lifetime at least, to see it.

Thinking about where we are today, where we are headed right now, and what history has shown us, makes 2100 seem like a long time from now. But it’s less than a lifetime away. This gives me a new perspective on what lies ahead and if anything, it drives me to do what I can to make the world a better place.

Granted, 2100 is just a number. But it’s also the future of the children of today. Isn’t that a great reason to make the world the best it can be?

Privacy.

Growing up we had a standing rule at the supper table. Beyond the basic manners of not playing with our food, sitting at the table, and at least trying a little bit of everything on the plate, the television would be on, supper would be served as close to 6 p.m. as possible, and we wouldn’t talk about politics, religion, or homosexuality. It wasn’t that my Dad believed these things shouldn’t be talked about nor did he have any negative or hostile feelings on the subject. My dad believed meal times should be enjoyed and a pleasant experience and discussions on these topics detracted from those pleasantries. I think as a kid there had been screaming and crying at his supper table and he didn’t want to repeat that experience with his family.

When the woman mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry approached me with her “You Need Jesus” t-shirt, eyes locked with mine in an attempt to engage in a conversation, I simply told her “Nope” and motioned for her to cease whatever she was trying to start. You see, like my father, I believe conversation should be pleasant. There is a time and a place for debate and in the middle of Starbucks is not that place. In addition, how dare this woman presume to know what I need and furthermore, how dare she try to imprint her “need for Jesus” on me. My religious or spiritual beliefs are none of her business and honestly, I strongly believe her religious beliefs are none of my business.

If your religion tells you to convert everyone around you to your own thinking, it’s not a religion, it’s a cult.

I’m happy people find a path that fulfills them and makes them feel whole and gives them the will to continue living in this crazy, screwed up world we live in. But your path is not my path; you have no idea what’s going on in my life, my head, or my heart. And unless I tell you, it’s none of your business. Where and when I grew up this was part of the societal contract. And I’m determined to stick to it.

I know, I should practice what I preach. Yesterday I was probably in one of the worst moods I’ve experienced in many years. Lack of sleep, worry over work, exposing myself to too much news, all of these contributed to my sour mood and I let that mood dictate reactions, both private and public, to things I was reading, especially on Twitter. I lashed out at trolls and/or bots and did nothing to contribute in a positive manner to a political conversation around the man I firmly believe has absolutely no business leading a corporation, let alone the United States of America. The cult like following of his supporters is frightening, but telling them how stupid they are is not helping the situation.

Unless it’s damaging to me, their stupidity is really none of my business nor any of my concern.

I was once handed a Bible by a co-worker who was trying to save me from hell. The Bible was tattered, had the word “JESUS” written in pen along the outer edge of the pages, and had several passages, mostly in Leviticus, highlighted in yellow. I got the message and I chose to ignore it. I found the treatment of the Holy Book, with it’s tattered pages and pen markings and liberal use of highlighter, to be offensive. Sacred teaching should be treated sacredly.

But it’s not my job to tell her that. To each their own path. Do unto others as they would do unto you. Do no evil. Live and let live.

News.

One of my goals in this New Year is to eliminate much of the cruft that is nipping at my personal bandwidth. The vast majority of this extra noise is of my own doing; I willingly use apps like Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook to feed my need for information.

The thing is, it isn’t always good information.

I’ve always fallen back on the stance that I maintain a Facebook account to keep up with what’s happening with friends and family back East. I chat with other pilots, read about a geeky things in geeky groups, and follow people I don’t know but would like to meet in person someday. I’m intelligent enough to discard all the political misinformation and the like, but discarding the “keep scrolling!” hooks takes bandwidth and quite frankly, my bandwidth is more valuable than that.

I’ve been delving deeper into Apple News. I’m finding that I can keep tabs with what’s happening in the world through this fairly simple to use app and I’m noticing Siri’s AI is making things better on a daily basis. After consistently using Apple News for the past couple of weeks and providing the app feedback, what I like, what I don’t like, etc., I’m finding it’s giving me news I’m looking for. I will say News is not validating my viewpoint, there were a few articles highlighted today that wanted to make my blood pressure go up, but that’s a good thing. There’s too much tendency for apps to reinforce silos and narrow viewpoints. Apple News doesn’t feel like it’s doing that.

One of the best thing about using Apple News is that it doesn’t automatically show comments to articles. If you’ve ever dealt into the comments section on The Washington Post or New York Times, you know that it’s a dismal and hopefully inaccurate view on where society it is today. There’s no way of telling whether the author of a comment is a citizen, a human, a bad actor, or a bot. And as long as the engagement keeps ticking up the ad revenue for these outlets, we’re never going to know this. So I find it’s best just to stay away from the Peanut Gallery Commentary. That’s what Twitter is for.

If you haven’t given Apple News a try I suggest giving it a whirl. Try it out for a week or two, give it valid feedback with what stories you like and what stories you’re not interested in.

You might enjoy what you read.

Continuance.

The family+1 at dinner last night

So at the beginning of a New Year I always evaluate many things in my life and this blog is one of them. Personal blogs have gone by way of the analog television signal for the most part; I think there’s less than a half dozen that I follow that are updated on a regular basis. For the past two months I’ve been trying to make at least one update a day, I missed the mark last month twice.

As I evaluate the pros and cons of the various data input points in my life I include the blog in the mix due to it’s slight financial obligation and the amount of effort I spend keeping software up to date, writing content, deciding what points of my existence I want to share publicly and that which I don’t. Engagement is low but not awful; when I bother to look I get decent “hits” here. However, the blog was never meant to be a popularity contest for me, it’s always been more of a “hey, I’m an introvert and here’s what’s happening in my life, as shared by me on my terms”. It’s kind of like being on something like “Big Brother” where people can peek in but there’s little to no interaction. And no cut throat competition.

So I’m going to continue this journey into the 20s for as long as I maintain interest and technology lends itself to this type of experience. I’m dabbling with some ideas on contributing more to General Aviation and to the Tech Community through writing in other places; they’ll come to fruition as my timeline and thoughts allow.

Happy New Year to everyone peeking in through this blog. I hope 2020 brings you happiness, health, and all the good things.

Near-Farted.

I picked up a very cheap pair of “cheaters” on Amazon. I have prescription eye glasses, in fact they’re required to be in the airplane with me when I’m Pilot in Command, but they’ve never felt quite right for computer work. And I do a lot of work on computers in my career.

I decided to just go for broke and buy large glasses that have a slight retro feel to them. They’re so dang cheap if I don’t end up liking them I can go for something else. I’m surprised at how much they help.

Maybe I won’t be so cranky while I’m writing code during the workday because I can actually see what I’m doing on the barrage of monitors on my desk.

At least I look the part.

Goals.

I’ve started formulating my goals for 2020. At the end of each year I tend to shy away from the idea of making resolutions, as in my mind calling something a resolution is marking the thought as fleeting. Let’s face it, New Year’s resolutions tend to dissipate by mid January for the majority of folks and while it’s fun to make ourselves feel good by thinking we are orchestrating change, the fact of the matter is I tend to do better when I have goals to achieve.

I am looking forward to achieve some personal goals in 2020. A good share of them are aviation related, but I have other self-improvement and such goals planned for 2020 as well.

I started my goal making progress by reviewing my goals for 2019. I did surprisingly well with what I envisioned a year ago. The biggest was, “trying to fly different airplanes” in a way to get out of my comfort zone of always flying the Piper Cherokee and its brethren. I have thoroughly enjoyed flying the Diamond DA-40s available at Skill Aviation in Waukegan, Illinois this year and I feel like I’m still advancing my aviation skills. I look forward to knocking out a few more ratings in 2020.

I realize as I get older I need to pay more attention to my health. I’m making small strides, three steps forward, two steps back sort of thing, but I hope to enhance that in 2020. I have no desire to buy into the fitness industry and expect magic results from a gym membership. I’m not that trendy.

As long as I can still get an airplane off the ground with me in the pilot’s seat and not worried about dying of a heart attack, I’m good.

Even if I have to go atop a Saturn V.

Seasons Greetings.

I don’t remember anyone getting super worked up about Zayre using “Seasons Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas” back in 1985. “Seasons Greetings” was a pretty common phrase to be shared back in the day. The TV stations said it, radio stations shared it, other department stores printed it. I remember foil and cardboard decorations from the 60s and 70s that said “Seasons Greetings”. There was no war on Christmas. People weren’t weeping, grandstanding, and being downright surly around the choice to exchange pleasantries during the holiday season.

Why do folks get so worked up about it today?

Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention to the outrage back then. Maybe I pay too much attention to the outrage today.

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. A Joyous Kwanzaa. Happy Holidays. Seasons Greetings. It’s the thought that counts. Just say what you say with good intent and receive it the way it was intended.

We have more important things to worry about than getting outraged over how someone conveyed good tidings during what should be a very joyous season for all.