Changes.

It was 11 years ago this weekend that Earl and I decided to head down to New York City and join up with other bloggers for “GB:NYC4”, or “Gay Bloggers:New York City 4”. Before the days of Twitter, with Facebook confined to college campuses at the time and with MySpace trying to gain traction, folks were writing personal and professional blogs and sharing their thoughts through the medium on the Internet. This was before we got in the habit of communicating in 140 280 characters or less and it was before we tried to reduce our thoughts down to dancing, leaping, and squirming emojis. Back then an emoji looked like this: 🙂

I still use 🙂 and nothing more. I am not an emoji kind of guy.

Going through my photos of the event and remembering the nice time we had with this great group of people back in 2007 made me miss the days when I was sit down and actually write something of substance on this blog. It was back before Obama, so I would wretch on W from time to time, but I liked to think that I had a fairly breezy attitude toward life. Of course, I was 11 years under (38 at the time), the country wasn’t being smothered by this plague called Trump (he was just a nuisance trying to grab airtime any way he could), and the future still felt like it could be brighter. We were still a month away from the dawn of a smartphone in every hand. People were flipping open their phones, plunking messages on a physical keyboard, and taking photos with cameras.

Are we any better off today?

I’m still friends with a few of the folks shown in the picture and I try to follow along with the few bloggers that still update their blogs (JoeMyGod being an exception to the blog abandonment trend, of course, because he still blogs a lot and he does a nifty job at it). As much as I wretch about Facebook, it’s become nearly an indispensable way to maintain contact with those in other parts of the world.

It’s a shame that decently composed discussion has given way to the burps and bleeps of today’s Internet experience.

Seeing these pictures and remembering what life was like just a little over a decade ago has helped me smile a bit more this weekend. It’s also inspired me to try to blog more; I’ve been lazy in the month of May. I think my 30-day personal challenge for June will be to blog something of substance at least once a day.

Who knows, maybe my efforts will catch on and someday we’ll get back to speaking in complete sentences without crazy emojis jumping off the page.

🙂

UA 518.

I’m sitting in first class on a United 737-900 from Rochester, N.Y. to Chicago-O’Hare. I lucked out on the upgrade to first class; I was upgraded when I purchased the ticket and I am completely without complaint. I need to fly first class more often, and if you agree, please let my husband know that it is worth the budgetary hit. Sitting in first-class shouldn’t really affect my self-esteem, but it does. I still make eye contact with the riff-raff as they make their way to steerage. Flying is awesome no matter the seat you have on an airplane. It’s just more awesome the further to the front that you happen to sit. Don’t ever forget the magic of aviation.

My three days of work meetings have come to an end. Tomorrow is a normal workday and I have a lot of changes to institute with the team I lead. All of these changes will ultimately make the team more productive in the long run; they’re a great group of people and everyday I count my blessings for leading such a capable team of developers and for being part of a good organization. I like my gig a lot. I write this down so I remember how I feel in this moment the next time I get stressed out and I tell Earl I want to throw something or jump off something. When it’s all boiled down to what it is, I have a great gig, we do good things, and I have few complaints. Not a lot of people can say that.

Today I told my director that I was ready to give up the decommissioned work Mac that was required for me to join the company nearly three years ago. The company I work for has chosen to go primarily with Microsoft technology, and I have watched Microsoft significantly improve their office experience over the years. I still feel that Apple makes the best hardware, but Microsoft is bringing great services to all platforms. I’m looking for a way that I could try out a tricked out Surface Laptop for 30 days to see if I really like being all in on Microsoft hardware. As I type this blog entry on United flight 518, I’m typing it on an iPad Pro using Microsoft OneNote (to be later pasted into WordPress when I have a wifi connection again). OneNote is amazing and it’s wonderful that Microsoft has worked hard to bring it to all platforms. There are a few glitches here and there, but it’s not like the days of Windows Vista or Windows 8.

I’m wondering how a Windows Phone, or better yet, a “Surface Phone” would be accepted by the masses these days in today’s climate. We need a disruption in the smartphone space. Something new and fresh and completely integrated and interchangeable. I don’t know that Apple or Android is up to that task. Will Microsoft do it someday soon? Let’s hope so.

UA 518, Part 2.

As we fly from ROC to ORD, I look over the landscape of Southern Ontario and smile, knowing that I have flown a very similar route, at a much lower altitude, several times as a private pilot. When flying from Rome, N.Y. to Oshkosh, Wis., we would stop at Niagara Falls for a fuel stop and then make our way to Saginaw, Mich. Spotting the same landmarks from 37,000 on a United 737-900 is rather awesome.

A couple of different choices a decade or two ago and I could have been the pilot of this flight. There’s nothing wrong with where I am today, but hints of other paths I could have taken with my life help me keep an open mind.

Tuned Out.

Tuned Out.

A few years ago when we started visiting Chicago on a regular basis, I noticed a trend of folks tuning out the world around them by wearing headphones. They wore headphones everywhere. On the train. While shopping. While walking their dog. While talking to an airport ticket agent. Everywhere you looked, people had some flavor of headphones over or in their ears. Occasionally you could hear what they were listening to, as the loud volume spilled out around their listening gear.

I’ve never really subscribed to this sort of thing.

I enjoy music. I enjoy listening to music on a really good set of headphones that are designed to highlight the nuances of that which I’m listening to. One of the reasons I enjoy my Apple AirPods is the awesomeness of the sound quality. The first time I listened to music by The Carpenters or Abba on my AirPods I was shocked at how easy it was to hear the intricacies of the music, both the instrumental and vocal contributions. Being able to tune out the world and lose yourself in your favorite music can be a magical experience. Personally I find it most magical when it is enjoyed on an occasional basis.

I am too curious about the world to tune out everything around me as a regular habit.

I’m writing the blog entry on a United flight from Chicago to Rochester, New York. We are on an EMB 145. Like most of the smaller airliners (and smaller airplanes in general), it can be quite loud. Many of the my fellow passengers have headphones on.

I like to hear every nuance of the airplane.

I walk between 40 and 50 miles in a week. I’ve started cycling again. I can’t imagine walking, or especially riding a bike, trying to navigate the streets of Chicago with a set of headphones shoved over my ears. There’s too much to hear to tune it out. Why tune out the experience of life?

Some folks prefer to be in their own little world, doing their own thing, oblivious to those around me. As long as they don’t become obnoxious through being oblivious, I’m fine with that.

But life is short, and I want to hear every second of it.

Rules.

Rules.

Earl makes fun of me because I try follow all rules. I rarely cross the street against a light. When I use a crosswalk I stay within the painted lines and I make my way solidly on the sidewalk before heading left or right. While driving I make 90° turns to left or right. I stop if the light turns yellow. One exception is the speed limit, I drive with the flow of traffic, regardless of how far above the speed limit it is moving. Purposely driving the speed limit when everyone is whizzing by you is dangerous for everyone on the road.

As a pilot I have flown an airplane for hundreds of hours. As an airline passenger I have flown hundreds of flights. I still put down whatever I’m doing and pay attention to the safety presentation. Even though I might know every nuance of the airplane I am on, I still pay attention and give the flight attendants my undivided attention. I do this for a refresher of the particular airplane I’m on but I also do this to set an example to the others around me. If the airplane makes an off-field landing, I don’t want to be the one carrying my bag down the slide or wearing my oxygen mask incorrectly. I know where my exits are and how far away they are from me o every flight. I also know where every exit is located in any hotel I stay at and how many doors are between my room and my exit.

One of my biggest philosophies is “always be aware of your surroundings”. Following the rules, and throwing in some common sense from time to time, will get you far in life.

Some say life is boring when you always follow the rules. I enjoy life, and will probably enjoy it longer, because I took the time to follow the rules and look around at the world surrounding me.

Ritual.

Earl and I were headed to Starbucks when we passed by the local coffeehouse near our building. I’ve probably walked by here over 200 times since moving to this neighborhood, but I’ve never stepped foot in the place.

This evening we changed that trend.

Earl and I are enjoying a nice fruit tea as recommended by the barista. There’s a nice selection of albums along the wall, complete with a record player available for customers to use. The seating is more rustic than our local Starbucks. The vibe is enjoyable.

I’m not a coffee drinker but I do like iced tea, so I can see us stopping here more often. Very enjoyable.

Storm.

I’ve been watching a storm on radar march across the prairie since I woke up 1 1/2 hours ago. I snuck in a 2 1/2 mile walk before my iDevices started warning about lightning strikes nearby. As I arrived home I felt a few rain drops before getting inside.

As I type this the sky is forming interesting patterns and I see flashes of lightning in my peripheral vision. The wind is pick up in intensity. I’m starting to hear the faint rumbles of approaching thunder.

It’s gong to be a great day.