Humor.

I don’t like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary of the Trump Administration. I don’t know her either outside of what we see of her in the media, but I find her condescending, smug, and untrustworthy. To be fair, I compare her to fictional Press Secretary C.J. Cregg from “The West Wing”, and honestly, who can really compare to a character portrayed by Allison Janney? No one.

Twitter and its online brethren have been wild with commentary about Saturday’s National Correspondents’ Dinner, more specifically, comedian Michelle Wolf’s roast and monologue. I had never heard of Michelle Wolf until the brouhaha. She left no rock unturned. She took humor to the places we would have never dreamed of before the Trump Administration. She dug deep and she dug hard. I found most of it funny, but honestly, only when I wasn’t watching the video. When I watched Michelle do her thing I had a hard time seeing the reaction of the audience, including the various targets of Michelle’s monologue. This wasn’t a Dean Martin roast. Phyllis Diller wasn’t talking about Fang. This was someone taking roasted meat and using a well aimed slingshot, flinging this meat and squarely hitting their target. Hitting their target hard.

I have tweeted about Sarah Sanders too much. How does she sleep at night with all her lies? Her poor children. Why doesn’t the press corps just sit there and not challenge her on her lies. How can she stand there and state proven lies as fact while getting paid by the taxpayers. I have gone on and on and on.

But then I saw Sarah’s expression during one of Michelle’s jokes. And it made me sad. Is this really where we are in our country today? Have we abandoned all manner of intelligent discourse in our country? Are we reduced to vulgarity, screaming, yelling, and throwing out vile comments and remarks to get someone’s attention? Is this where we want to be?

I’m not disputing the content of Michelle’s message of her comedy routine, but I thought her delivery might have been a little harsh. I guess I come from a world where you don’t drop f-bombs at a black tie affair. But then again, I come from a world where government was something you could reasonably trust, and that’s all completely gone out the window.

Now, some are saying that Michelle attacked Sarah’s looks and that she went too far.

I like Sarah, I think she’s really resourceful. She burns facts and uses the ash to create a perfect smokey eye. ‘Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.

Honestly, I found the monologue uncomfortable to watch and I can’t help but reflect that it’s the product of where we are in American politics today. Michelle’s humor was a result of what Tweeting would sound like In Real Life. People say these things, and much worse, on social media all the time. Hiding behind anonymity and not having to physically face their target. I’m very guilty of this.

But seeing the reaction of the person you’re lambasting while you’re saying it? Well, it makes me pause and become very aware of what my Tweets in the past would sound like if said In Real Life. At the very least, watching Michelle Wolf’s monologue at the National Correspondents’ Dinner has made me realize that I need to practice what I preach, and be a better Internet citizen.

I don’t dispute the content, but someone has to be the grown up in the room and start nudging the pendulum back to civil discourse and a celebration of sanity.

Health.

I met with my new doctor for my annual physical in January. He had little interest in my health records up to that point, save for my prescription medications. He did his own thing, with blood tests and the like. Since I’m turning 50 years old later this year, I’ve started getting a little more serious about my health. I might as well try to be healthy for the second half of this life.

The physical in January was summed up with a follow-up phone call: cholesterol, blood sugar, and weight were all too high. It was up to me to fix it.

I like this doctor.

Last week I had a three-month follow up appointment. More blood work. My cholesterol is now an excellent number. Blood sugar levels are where they are suppose to be. And while I haven’t been talking about this as I have on similar journeys in the past, I’ve lost 22 pounds since January 31. It’s all about the Weight Watchers and SmartPoints. And walking, lots of walking. I was surprised when my blood pressure clocked in at 115/74.

There are times when I become very frustrated about not whipping through a burger bomb drive thru or when Earl and I used to enjoy “two supper Saturdays” during a Jeep ride, but in the long run if I keep things in check I’ll enjoy the second half of my life as much as I’ve enjoyed the first.

I have my sights on a goal and I intend to reach it. And that goal is to be as healthy as I can for as long as I can.

Life Goal.

When my time in this life on this planet comes to an end, I want to be able to say to whoever greets me on the other side, “I’ve done everything I can to make the world better. I’ve used every ounce of talent. I ran with every opportunity. I mustered up the energy to keep going and I always tried to set an example. I used up everything that was given to me and I’m ready to rest a bit before doing it again, better than before.”

Pay Attention.

This photo has been making the rounds on the Internet for the past two days. It was taken aboard the Southwest Air flight from New York to Dallas that lost an engine, which took out a window, causing a rapid depressurization of the cabin of the Boeing 737. One passenger was partially sucked out the window and unfortunately did not survive the flight. The captain and first officer safely landed the airplane in Philadelphia.

I immediately noticed the three folks using the oxygen masks in the front of the photo were wearing the masks wrong. I also wondered, who was time to take photos when an airplane is in an emergency descent with a hole in the side of the fuselage?

It’s very important to pay attention to any safety demonstrations or information on every flight. I don’t care if you’ve flown the same route on the same kind of airplane every week for the past decade. The flight attendants are taking the time to educate every passenger on how the safety equipment of that particular airplane works and where to go and/or how to potentially survive an emergency. You may be the seasoned traveler, but the people around you may have no idea on what to do. You might need to help someone. Pay attention, every single time.

I am a private pilot. I fly airplanes. Every time I take a passenger up I review the safety features of the airplane I am flying. Even when I’m flying a flight instructor, I ask them if they have any questions about the the operation of the safety equipment in the airplane. I’ve watched airline pilots flying in the back of commercial flights. They pay attention to the safety briefings.

You need to as well.

I’m still a little surprised that people were taking photos while the airplane was in the middle of an emergency. The cynical side of me wondered if someone saw a cash opportunity by selling the photo to the media. I hope that wasn’t the reason for taking this photo. But I’m still really stunned the three people shown using their masks were using them wrong. You can even see the picture on the bag under their nose that demonstrates how to use the mask. I’m sure it was covered at the beginning of the flight.

Kudos to the captain, first officer and rest of the crew for doing their job, doing it well and bringing the flight to a safe conclusion. RIP to the passenger that lost her life when pieces of the engine came through the airplane.

Please, pay attention to the safety instructions, every time you fly.

Tourists.

It’s rather cool living in a city that tourists actually want to visit. I love going downtown and seeing the tourists milling about, looking for their next adventure.

Growing up we lived in a small touristy town but it was mostly fisherman flocking to the river we’ll known for its fishing opportunities.

Living in the third largest city in the country that is second to none is all sorts of awesome. I’m right where I belong.

Facebook Vigilance.

I just posted this on Facebook. It should be shared everywhere.

Facebook has launched a colorful, yet fairly aggressive billboard/advertising campaign in Chicagoland. I’m thinking they’ve done the same elsewhere in the country. A few of things to remember:

  1. No matter how whimsical the ads might be, Facebook has not changed their profit model in any way. Your data is their product. You are not a customer or user of Facebook. You are used by Facebook. Always be cognizant of what you are posting on here.
  2. There is little in the way of curation when it comes to information posted on Facebook. Any “news” can be posted by anyone. It can be widely publicized, across “followers lines”, by anyone, foreign or domestic, for as little as $50 US dollars.
  3. Anything you type into Facebook, whether you post it or not, is logged through keystrokes. Hitting backspace to erase an entry does not erase that entry from Facebook’s servers.
  4. Any game you share is pulling data from the people you share the game with, whether they choose to participate or not.
  5. Any quiz you do is used for data gathering purposes. You might be telling Facebook that you’re a Valerie in Josie and the Pussycats, but they’ve figured out you’re the brainy one of your group, and they’ve figured out a whole lot more about you.
  6. When you tell the world where your first concert took place or who your third grade teacher was or whether you prefer the Ice Follies or the Ice Capades, you are giving Facebook and their customers more data to match up dissimilar data about you from multiple platforms.
  7. Any time you have Facebook on your mobile devices, you are taking Facebook with you. Admittedly, Apple devices are little better at guarding your privacy vs Android in this regard, but it’s Facebook that’s tracking where you are, who you’re talking to and who you’re flirting with on text message. Facebook on mobile is Facebook with you everywhere.
  8. Facebook is trying really hard to cross-index your data on Facebook with other sources, like public records, financial records, etc. Keep that in mind!

Facebook is a great way to connect with lost friends and distant family members, but please never forget: you are NOT the customer, you are the product. Never lose sight of that. Be safe, be vigilant, and be smart when using Facebook.

Spin.

Mark Zuckerberg, creator, founder and CEO of Facebook, has spent the past week apologizing and basically following a PR-spin script to deal with the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytics revelation around Facebook, user data, and the business model Facebook uses to please their stockholders. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, joined him on the interview circuit today, basically apologizing for not having better control of data mined from the profiles of Facebook users.

Amongst all these apologies and explanations, please note Facebook has chosen to exempt North American users from stricter privacy laws being implemented on services like Facebook in Europe.

One interesting thing that Sheryl mentioned during her interviews today is that users would have to pay a subscription fee to have the data they choose to share on Facebook not shared with advertisers. Yes! Please!

I still have not deleted my Facebook profile but I have ramped back my usage of the platform. A lot. My usage has dropped by nearly 90% over the past two weeks. The only reason I haven’t cancelled my account completely is because for many people in our friends and family circle, Facebook is the only way to maintain contact with them. They don’t really exchange email, there’s not really a lot going on in the way of iMessage or text messaging, and some groups and organizations I belong to have chosen to use ONLY Facebook as a way of communicating.

This is a very bad thing.

I have said this repeatedly but I will say it again. The vast majority of “free” services on the Internet are supported by ad revenue. A majority of those services make your data available in some fashion in order to target you with specific ads. I know, you’ll say that you have nothing to hide, but it’s not the data that you’re providing that makes this dangerous. It’s the ability for unrelated companies to independently gather data about you and then connect the dots when they find a common denominator, for example, your circle of friends, your spending habits, or your browsing habits.

In our elementary school years we were threatened from time to time that a bad decision would go down on our “permanent record”. Everything on the Internet is permanent. Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever.

Do you really want Facebook to be handling your “permanent record”?

I hate sounding cynical, but Mark and Sheryl are out there spinning these interviews so they can maintain a revenue stream and please their stockholders. Notice they’re not talking about changing the business model. Notice how dismissive they are about offering a subscription option. They don’t want that. They would lose some control of your data.

Controlling your data is what’s making them rich.

Alcohol.

I had a glass of red wine with dinner last night. While waiting for Earl to return from the wash room, I tweeted a musing as to whether Americans are drinking more since the election of Trump to the White House. I know I’ve been drinking more alcohol since Trump took office. It helps take the edge off reality.

Honestly, I’m very curious is to whether this is an actual ‘thing’ or just my own perception. We hear about increases in Opioid addiction, alcoholism, dependency on other substances. I know I smell a lot of pot on the street. Is this related to a societal shift that was bound to happen regardless of who occupied slot 45? Is life just getting more and more stressful as we realize that life isn’t as we depict it to be on social media?

I’ll have to find some studies on this. I find it quite interesting.

Cheers!

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Fast.

We now have AT&T “GigaPower” High-Speed Internet. I did a speed test this morning to make sure the install over the weekend went well.

I was quite impressed.