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Journalism.

I have recently disconnected my habit of watching podcasts from a well-known tech podcast source. (Well, it’s well known in the geek world). Not only did I decide to calm down on podcast consumption at the beginning of the year when I was redefining my focus on what was important, but there was one other thing that bothered me about the podcasts and I couldn’t let it go unnoticed.

The host of the podcast made the off-handed comment that the developer of an app that the podcast had negatively reviewed was upset. The host then went on to say that if he knew that the developer was a friend of his, he wouldn’t have been as harsh in his review of the application.

This kinda bothered me.

When a person tunes into the media, whether it be the mainstream news media or the tech media or to some extent, a blogger’s work, one expects that there be honest views expressed through such media, especially if this source is sponsored by ad content from prominent companies. When your tagline contains the phrase “from people you trust”, one would think that you’re telling the truth, right? Admitting during a podcast that you wouldn’t have been as, well, truthful with a critique if you realized that you knew the author of the product that was being critiqued is kind of like saying, “I wouldn’t ask the CEO about the money they laundered because we’re friends.” You’re demonstrating bias with this sort of approach, which is fine if that’s how you advertise yourself and represent your work, but when you use “from people you trust” and then do stuff like that, it carries the same amount of weight as the tagline “Fox News, Fair and Balanced” and then you go finding six ways from Sunday to report that Romney must have won and the election was all wrong due to impossible mathamatics.

While it sounds like I’m picking on this particular podcaster, the truth of the matter is that there’s a lot of garbage out there claiming to be fair and balanced news. I read on a blog that a 747 SLAMMED into a Dash 8 at an airport. Writing colorful words like “slammed” does amazing things for click responses (which in turns, generates lots of ad revenue) but the truth of the matter is, the 747’s wing nicked the wing of the other airplane. There were no injuries, no hysterics and minimal impact to either airplane. It’s hard to find any credibility in a blogger or podcaster that claims to be a news source and then embellishes the truth or modifies their public opinion on a topic due to personal connections.

Fair and balanced indeed.

If news bloggers (as opposed to other kinds of bloggers, such as me. I have no idea what I’m talking about most of the time) want to be considered a credible media outlet, they need to stick to the facts without color, bias or prejudice. If you’re not a news blogger but a commentator, just be true to your comments and state that as such on your blog or podcast. That’s all I ask.

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The Tailor and The Cook.

So tonight Earl and I decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner. We always complain that there aren’t enough good restaurant choices in the area and quite frankly it’s because we’re lazy and don’t look hard enough.

Tonight we went to The Tailor and The Cook in historic Baggs Square West in Downtown Utica.  

What a wonderful experience. I believe all of their food is derived locally whenever possible. The draft beer of choice tonight was the Solstice Oat Stout from Good Nature Brewing in nearby Hamilton (home of Colgate University). Earl and I had a wonderful meal with excellent service from the knowledgeable and very professional Sara. We both “ordered adventurously”; I enjoyed a Moroccan chicken dish and Earl had Veal Saltimbocca.

The ambience is perfect for what we enjoy (brick walls housing a smaller space) with an intimate bar and the food was absolutely delicious. I am going to sleep well tonight.

Highly recommended.

 

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Gadget.

So I have been trying not to buy new gadgets but I ended up buying something this week. We have had the same bathroom scale for 15 years. It’s electronic. It zaps your body with some low voltage current to determine your BMI. It is suppose to be highly accurate.

I don’t know if I have drop-kicked it one too many times or what, but Monday morning it told me that I weighed 188. This was impossible, because the day before I had weighed 176, and there was no way I could put 12 pounds on in one day. So I hopped off the scale, refrained from yelling or kicking anything, reset the scale to zero and I hopped on again.

I weighed 142. (Just call me Karen).

I tried again.

I weighed 191.4.

Since the numbers were not getting any better I decided that the scale had finally died and it was time to order a new one. A quick hop on Amazon, a little Prime membership shipping and I am happy to say that today we will have a new scale that is synchronized with our FitBit and MyFitnessPal accounts. I have a hunch that there will be no way to jimmy the numbers in our favor. It will be what it is and it will be recorded as such.

I guess I’m really a geek if I’m excited about a new scale arriving. I don’t find it at all odd that I have to connect to the scale with a web browser and configure it; any sort of odd feelings of this nature dissipated when I had to reboot the dishwasher after a firmware upgrade.

Ain’t the 21st century grand?

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Domestic.

My domestic ways are kicking into high gear again and I think this is a good thing. Last night before bed I emptied the dishwasher and readied the table for breakfast. Instead of running off and reading the latest tech news during my lunch hour, I got a head start on dinner. Tonight we are having a roast via the crock pot. I am already making plans for tomorrow night’s dinner.

Working from home is certainly help with all this.

There is something quite satisfying of taking proper care of your home. I have always been impressed with people that strive to keep their homes neat and tidy. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a home that has plenty of indicators that it is a lived in house, I mean, who would want to live in a museum? But I do appreciate the amount of effort it takes to keep your home looking its best.

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Frightful.

So the weather is getting really crappy. This morning it was clear and the roads were bare but now that it is lunch time there is a couple of inches of snow on the ground. They’re telling us that the snow will change over the sleet and ice just in time for the commute home.

And I forgot to put the ice skates on the Jeep today.

I normally don’t mind driving in any kind of weather, after all, I am known for driving right into the middle of severe thunderstorms and trying to get as close to tornadic activity as possible, but one of the things that makes all this stuff troublesome is the other drivers on the road. Driving to Dunkin’ Donuts a little while ago, the woman in the car in front of me turned her left turn signal on and then proceeded to make a right turn, where she then swung her car around and zoomed across the three lanes to make her intended left hand turn. The weather makes the bad drivers worse and it makes the crazy people crazier. I always talk about this sort of thing and you’d think after 44 years I’d be used to crazy drivers during a snow storm but I’m not.

I don’t know where all the common sense falls to in times like these but I wish people would stop for a moment and pick that common sense back up. It’s quite valuable.

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Indoors.

I’m working at the office today. Under these circumstances I normally join a couple of co-workers for a couple of laps around the parking lot. We take this little jaunt twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. It does wonders for stretching, getting out of the cubicle for a moment and regaining our vision after staring at the computer for an hour or two at a time.

Since it was barely above 0ºF this morning at 10:00 a.m. (it was -19ºF when I left for work this morning), the weather wasn’t really prime for walking around the parking lot at a brisk pace. Not even at a very brisk pace. On the off chance that I would be crazy enough to do such a thing I did wear two coats, a hat and gloves to work but that wasn’t going to be enough.

I briefly considered doing what others were doing and just skipping the walk altogether, but I couldn’t bring myself to not get some exercise this morning. When I work from home and it’s unbearably cold, I ride the exercise bike for 15 minutes. I forgot to pack it in the Jeep (not that I really could have done that) and so I opted to walk laps around the office building. This isn’t an uncommon activity and the building is designed to readily accommodate this sort of thing. I walked ’round and ’round for 15 minutes. It was somewhat boring but it was energizing. I was definitely more productive after my walk vs beforehand.

This got me thinking about what I can do to energize the first half of my morning as well. I’ve gotten in the habit of waking up to my alarm and grabbing my iDevice to catch up on emails and the like while snuggled under the covers in bed. This is not an optimal way to wake up, but I suspect that it is becoming more and more common in this modern world. So tomorrow morning, even though it will be a Friday morning, I am going to modify my wake-up routine and force myself to get up and get moving a little bit. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that I can’t get up and do something, despite the winter morning darkness and cold. Who knows, if all goes well it might turn into a habit.

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Brrrr!

I know that everyone is talking about the weather in the United States today, what with this Arctic blast that we’re all being subjected to. There’s quite a few people griping about the cold snap and others griping about the ones that are griping online. Well guess what, I’m going to talk about the weather too but I’m not really griping. At least I hope I don’t sound cranky.

Here’s the thing. It’s January. We live in the Northeast. Not only is it January, but it is the third week of January and if memory serves correctly, this is traditionally the coldest week of the winter in these parts. So it makes sense to me that when we woke up this morning, it was a tad bit chilly outside.

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If you can’t see the photo, it says –12F.

-12F is pretty cold. The furnace has been working overtime in attempts to keep The Manor warm today and the farther reaches of the house are still a bit chilly. But these things happen and quite frankly there’s no harm in putting on another layer of clothes.

Especially when the cold brings along clear skies that help make a pretty picture like this.

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Backyard.

Tom has parked himself on the window casing closest to a radiator and I’m positioned in my home office really close to the space heater.  It’s a little chilly but that doesn’t have to ruin my day.

Keep warm.

Regrouped.

The weather radio has gone off several times today. Apparently we are going to receive a foot of snow. The fun is scheduled to start in about an hour and last through the night and into tomorrow morning. Yay for working from home! I highly recommend a work from home gig if that’s the sort of thing you’d like to do and you can do. I consider myself fortunate in that arena.

Coming off a wonderful long weekend like I just experienced would lead to a return-to-work funk for me, but I’m not feeling that today. I’m actually feeling pretty good. I feel focused. I feel balanced. I feel content. The uneasiness I felt earlier in the month seems to have dissipated. I guess seeing some sunshine for a few hours can make a world of difference. I feel like I can really tackle work this week and that’s not something I have felt for a while.

Perhaps finding balance in my life has helped me regroup. I shouldn’t question the why, I should just enjoy the feeling.

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TSA.

So I have complained about the TSA in the past. In all fairness, I have actually complained about the security measures that are enforced by the TSA, I don’t believe that I have actually called out the TSA or at least individual TSA officers themselves. For the most part, they folks that work for the TSA have been pretty nice. Tonight they proved that point even further.

On my way out of town on Friday, like every other airline passenger, I had to go through security measures at the airport before jumping that big bird into the sky. In the United States, this involves taking off your shoes and belts, anything that might be metal and there’s a whole bunch of other things that one had to do to get the green light to get onto an airplane. I have this rigmarole down to a science and for the most part it’s become pretty effortless for me. Friday was no exception. Except now I wear a FitBit One on my belt.

I took the FitBit off with my belt and left it on my belt. It went through the X-ray machine and came out the other side like it was suppose to. I gathered up my stuff and got myself back together. As I started walking towards my gate, I noticed I needed to tie my shoe. Because of my recent weight loss, I didn’t need to find a stool or bench to accomplish this, I simply kicked my leg up onto the ledge that runs about waist high along the hallway and tied my shoe. I then continued my way towards the gate.

Little did I know that my FitBit fell off my belt when I kicked my leg in the air.

When we landed at Dulles, I stopped at the bathroom and noticed that my FitBit was missing. I knew it wasn’t in the airplane, because I checked my 36-square inches of space on that plane and made sure I had everything. I must have lost it at security, even though I remembered putting it back on my belt. I was heartbroken. I’d had the FitBit for less than a month and it was already lost and I really liked it a lot, it was a good thing to have and it was a Christmas present from Jamie. I decided I would buy a new one when I got home.

On a lark, I stopped by the TSA team leader’s station after landing at our home airport tonight. I asked the supervisor if anyone had found a FitBit on Friday night around 6:00 p.m. She looked at me in a very odd fashion. I felt like I was outside of normal operating procedure. But then she smiled.

“Is it like a pedometer?”, she asked.

“Yes, it is. Real small. Like a flash drive.”

“I saw that the other night and we tagged it for lost and found. You know, no one ever picks their stuff up from lost and found. Yeah, we have it.”

She called the Operations Center over on the secret side of the airport and confirmed it was there. She had the officer at “Command” look for it and then verify that it was mine by trying to get the name to display. They couldn’t get my name to pop up on the screen but the timestamp on the lost and found tag was approximately the time that my flight left, so she gave me directions to get to the secret side of the airport. She was really friendly about the whole thing.

I made my way over to the secret side of the airport, following her directions to the letter. Having to go to the third floor of “command”, I came off the elevator where I was greeted by a TSA agent.

“I saw you coming on the cameras. Here’s that pedometer. Sign here please.”

Sure enough, it was my FitBit. I fired it up to make sure it worked and told him, “You walked 21 steps to get to me.” If he could tell me I was watched on cameras, I could tell him how many steps it took to find me. He smiled, we shook hands and I thanked him several times.

All in all, what I thought would be a bureaucratic mess at best turned out to be dang near effortless. I have to say that the TSA officers at Syracuse Hancock Airport were just as nice as nice could be, while still maintaining a dignified sense of professionalism. It made me realize that I might be too quick to judge others from a scant bit of evidence. I learned something tonight.

I also learned now to kick my heel up onto a shelf when I don’t need to.

Good job to the TSA.

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EWR.

So I have been sitting at EWR since shortly after noon. After being shuttled from terminal A to terminal C with a tour group headed from Kentucky to Israel (I didn’t question the specifics or intents), I found myself with plenty of time and decided to treat myself to a civilized, sit down lunch at a place called Gallagher’s. Taking a cue from Darrin Stephens and Larry Tate, I decided to have an adult beverage with my lunch. My beverage of choice was a short Yuengling. It went well with my steak salad.

This combination has made the afternoon go by rather quickly.

I have answered all of my outstanding email, wrote a few pages of code for a project I am working on (using my iPad!) and listened in as a man with a Sony Walkman cassette player listened to “Crush on You” by the Jets. He be jammin’.

EWR (or Newark Liberty International Airport) is not as busy as I have seen it in the past, probably due to the MLK Holiday today. The skies are gray and thankfully my flight in less than an hour of this writing is just over an hour in length.

I am feeling productive and relaxed at the same time. Perhaps my standard workday would be more enjoyable if accompanied by Yuengling and/or The Jets.