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Random.

I’m not really that cohesive in my thoughts today so this is going to be one of the blog entries where I just kind of write down what’s floating around in this head of mine. Bear with me or find a picture of a pretty pony if you’re bored.

1. Google Now is on iOS! Being the tech geek that I am I’m always dazzled by sparkly things so I was delighted to see that Google Now is now part of the Google Search app on the iPhone and iPad. w00t w00t! Google Now is an awesome little tool that uses all the data that Google has gathered about you to basically try to make your life better. For example, at the end of the day yesterday, Google Now told me that it would take 1 hr 6 min to get home from work and to avoid the Thruway due to a traffic back in a construction zone. When I got in the relative area of home, Google Now suggested a couple of restaurants for dinner. It has also reminded me of some birthdays. Google Now can do a whole bunch of other stuff and if you’re not creeped out about Google knowing things about you, go give it a try. I’m hot and cold on Google and apparently this week I’m hot. Especially since I can do Google-y things on my iDevices.

2. Mail. Before sitting down to write this blog entry I walked out to the mailbox to see if we had anything exciting waiting for pickup. We had one piece of junk mail suggesting that we buy the contents of William Sonoma for Mom’s enjoyment on Mother’s Day. Remember the excitement of the daily mail delivery? Is there a card? An invitation to a party? A chain letter? I used to always look forward to getting the mail but that seems so 20th century now. I kind of miss it, which of course, runs completely contrary to my aforementioned excitement of Google Now.

I’m complicated like that.

3. Oh Shut Up. Eastchester, New York has apparently banned any casual fast-food restaurants from calling Eastchester home. No Panera. No Chipotle. Something about “they’re Eastchester and they’re proud of that”. Sounds like an uppity place to me. They’re lucky I haven’t heard anyone call Eastchester “Upstate” because then I would lose my mind for a few moments.

4. Music. I was recently passed over on the chance to DJ a party in Chicago next month and quite frankly I’m not that shook up about it. Twenty years ago I would have been in tears and motivated to be more “gay” with my music selection so the crowd would have been bouncing up and down to the mad beatz. But these days the sights and sounds of GaGa and her ilk rather nauseate me so I’m not that worked up about it. If enjoying music that isn’t auto-tuned makes me obsolete then I wear my obsolescence with pride.

5. Money. I’m trying to decide if money makes people evil or if money just reveals the evil tendencies within a person. Either way, money does some pretty screwed up things to assumedly screwed up people, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

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Cycling.

It’s no secret that I’m an avid cyclist. This past weekend I rode over 90 miles on my 2002 Fuji bike and because of this I feel marvelous today. Cycling is great exercise and I find that it’s a wonderful mental exercise as well. I lose myself on the back roads and find that I can resolve issues that are causing me stress. It’s a good feeling. I’m very happy that it’s cycling season in these parts.

As an avid cyclist, I tend to think that I know how to navigate the roads of Upstate New York (and occasionally other places around the country) on my bike. I learned many of these skills as a youngster; I remember my first bike ride to school, which was five miles away, on a three-speed with a banana seat. I was in grade six at the time. I had no close calls then and for the most part, my rides have been accident free. I’d like to take a moment to remind cyclists and motorists on how riders should be behaving themselves on the road.

Cyclists should be following the rules of the road. Some people get confused about this, but bicycles are just another vehicle and they should be moving in the same direction as all the other vehicular traffic. Cyclists should not be doing the pedestrian thing and riding against the flow of traffic. That’s a no no and dangerous. Should you encounter a pedestrian on the road, the pedestrian should be walking towards you and they would be the farthest away from the center line of the road. Remember, you’re a vehicle, you’re not a pedestrian.

Because you’re riding a human-powered vehicle, you should be following the rules of the road. This includes stopping for stop signs and appropriate traffic signals, riding only where you’re allowed to ride and keeping off the sidewalks. Unless specified by local ordinances, don’t ride on the sidewalk unless you would drive your car on the sidewalk.

Wear a helmet and brightly colored clothing. In the chillier months in Upstate New York I have a heavy rain jacket that I wear that is a dark green. Because this isn’t the most visible piece of clothing I could be wearing, I also wear a fluorescent yellow safety vest that Earl brought home from one of his manufacturing plants. You can’t miss it. If you’re riding when it’s dark out, put some lights on your bike and use them. The discount department stores have them for as little as $20 and they don’t even require tools to mount them on your bike. Make yourself REALLY visible. Folks barely pay attention to their driving these days as it is, be flashy so you don’t get hit by someone that’s more preoccupied with their hands free unit.

Now here’s where you have to be a little aggressive. If you ride in areas where there are multiple lanes at an intersection, for example, a left turn only lane, use that lane just like a car would. There’s an intersection close to the house where there are three lanes moving in my direction: left turn only, straight ahead and right turn only. When I want to go straight ahead, I get on the right edge of the center lane. This way, the cars that want to turn right can still use their lane without worrying about me cutting across to go straight, the cars going straight through can pass by me as if we were anywhere on the road and the folks turning left can do their business without a care in the world. Use the lanes as if you were driving your car or truck. Act like another vehicle and people won’t have to guess what you’re going to do due to unpredictable or erratic lane movements.

Be kind to pedestrians. Don’t terrorize the woman at the gas pump who is struggle with self-serve by cutting across the parking lot at a wild speed. Don’t cut in between cars and bushes and buildings just to save time. Be respectful of those around you so they’ll respect you.

As the opportunity arises, stick to the marked bike lanes and the myriad of bike paths that are cropping up all over the Empire State. I’m quite critical of NYSDOT but they are doing exceptional things when it comes to accommodating those of us moving about by human cycle power.

Follow the signs. Obey the one ways and the do not enters and the “No Bicycles Allowed” signs on the freeway entrances. In New York State if the speed limit is 65 you’re not allowed on that stretch of road with your bicycle. Other states vary with this, but that’s the way it works around here.

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your bike ride. If you find riding around the city to be too stressful, find a nice country ride and enjoy the view, say hello to a cow and breathe in some fresh country air.

Share some zen with me.

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Politics.

Over the past week I have read a few online articles indicating that marriage equality legislation has been passed by various governments recently. This is wonderful news because it shows that things on that front are moving in a sensible direction and that even though the steps are very small, at least the steps are headed the right away.

Yay for small victories. Let’s keep up that momentum.

I have little faith in our government. I have lots of faith in the United States and her citizens, but I don’t have faith in our elected leaders. “It’s good enough” is never an acceptable answer for me, but when it comes to electing people into office you kind of have to just choose the one that seems the least evil. “He’ll be good enough, I guess.” That’s how I feel when I pull the lever color the little dot next to the name of the person I’m voting for.

I try to keep tabs on what’s going on in Washington but lately I’m finding that that sort of activity just depresses me. Usually an avid listener of POTUS 124 on Sirius/XM, I’ve stopped listening to coverage of inside the beltway for a while so I can regain my sanity.

I just found myself deleting about six paragraphs of a rant because I could feel my blood pressure rising and I’m trying not to let that happen these days. I guess I just can’t write about politics. It makes me feel too hostile. Like many of my fellow citizens, I think I’ve grown tired of blatant stupidity and ignorance. Inaction. Lack of compromise. Grandstanding. Stupid people vote for stupid people and by golly, I really think we are in the prologue of that movie called “Idiocracy”. I know ignorance is chic these days, but quite frankly, I’m proud of my 144. I pride myself on my knowledge seeking ways.

Since I’m starting to fume to the point of incoherency, I think I’ll take a nap.

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Spring.

So I’m sitting on the back patio with my laptop for the first time in 2013. The air is very still. Clouds have moved in. I think we are going to get a storm. This is awesome.

Tom is 18 years old this year but he’s bounding around like a kitten. He’s liking the warmer weather. He likes to lay in the sun.

There are very few sounds from the natives in the woods behind the house. The only thing I can hear is an occasional chirp and traffic on the expressway down the road. Otherwise it’s very calm, very quiet.

I love it.

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Push.

When my alarm buzzed at 0525 this morning I felt like I hadn’t gotten nearly enough sleep. I didn’t have to start work until 8 a.m., so my head was screaming at me to go back to sleep until a more reasonable hour. After all, it was 39ºF and after all, you’re not really getting any younger, so you should sleep in, all tucked into bed and as snug as a bug in a rug.

I couldn’t do it. Yesterday it was 37ºF when I went for a bike ride so logic dictated that I should be happy that it was 39ºF. I heaved the covers off my rapidly cooling body and groped around in the dark, looking for my cycling gear. I then remembered that the husbear was out of town for the night, so I turned on a light so I wouldn’t fall into the dresser drawer or something.

Geared up in the same clothes I had worn yesterday because after all, nothing says “fierce” like the ripe smell of a sweaty cyclist, I made my way downstairs and got on the bike. At the end of the driveway I turned left, which in our case, means “up”.

I’m pushing myself pretty hard with the cycling this season. I’ve already ridden down the long hill to the house twice in the past two weeks and that fun is usually reserved for at least six weeks into my routine (because climbing that hill takes a lot of work), but I’ve managed to do this twice already and my body, while complaining, does feel better for it.

I ended up riding between 15-16 miles this morning in 70 minutes. That’s not too bad. I rode out by our old homestead, where I noticed that someone is building a house nearby on the land we used to own. I went on some back roads that I haven’t been on in years; I enjoyed some countryside I haven’t seen in a while. I noticed that there’s quite a few people that get up at the crack of dawn so they can work in their yards. I didn’t expect that.

This was the first morning that I’ve broken the 15 mile barrier for my pre-work ride and it was a good accomplishment. I need to keep pushing forward with my cycling; it truly makes me happy to ride the bike. I do get a little concerned with the repetition of routes; I’m only two weeks into riding this season and I’m already seeking out the back roads. I don’t dare ride the canal trail yet because in the early morning hours there are still skunks doing their thing and while I like to smell ripe, I don’t want to smell skunky.

I need to just keep pushing forward.

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Slow.

So I just put a letter in the mailbox at the post office. Not a big deal, right? After all, people have been doing this sort of thing for a very long time, and though people don’t do this as much as they used to, people still put thousands of letters in thousands of mailboxes on a daily basis.

To accomplish this small feat, I walked to the local post office. Again, it’s not a big deal. The post office is 1 1/4 miles from the house. I was able to walk to the post office and back in 35 minutes. This added to my daily exercise tallies.

I don’t know if I was inspired by the fact that the couple across the street are rebuilding their house that was gutted by fire a couple of years ago, and have enlisted the Amish to build the house for them, or what, but it was kind of refreshing to walk to the post office and back this evening. It slowed me down for just a bit and gave me the opportunity to look around the neighborhood a little bit. I noticed things that I don’t really see when I’m on my bike or whizzing along in the Jeep.

Sometimes it’s good to look around at a slower pace.

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Chobani.

So I have been eating more yogurt. This is an attempt to get a little healthier in my eating ways and for the most part I think it’s helping.

Now, I’m not eating that stuff that Jamie Lee Curtis talks about incessantly on those ads because quite frankly, that stuff comes very, very close to the unfortunate incident I had with a tree on the Thruway due to eating some fat-free concoction called “Olestra” back in 1995. I’m sure Jamie Lee Curtis is a very nice woman but that is some very evil stuff she’s always saying is so great.

My yogurt of choice is made by Chobani.

Chobani is Greek yogurt and it comes in a variety of flavors and low-fat and non-fat varieties. I always opt for the non-fat variety and I try to vary the flavor selection as much as possible. Today I tried the “Blood Orange” flavor for the first time and I have to admit that it’s not my favorite. It’s not awful but I don’t know that I’ll go out of my way to enjoy another serving of this particular variety. I tend to like the vanilla flavor the best. Perhaps my tastes are bland.

The last time I was in North Carolina I noticed that there was a wider variety of flavors of Chobani available down there versus what we have here in Central New York. Honestly, I find this kind of odd, because Chobani is made not that far from here. The founder of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, bought an old Kraft plant in New Berlin, New York back in 2007 and started producing Chobani. I’ve been by the plant on numerous occasions both by car and by bike. It’s growing by leaps and bounds and is kind of in the middle of nowhere. I think that’s neat. So I feel good about supporting the local economy by choosing Chobani.

I just have to prioritize my flavor selection better.

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Why.

A friend of mine recently asked about the technical details of creating and maintaining a blog. I hadn’t talked about the mechanics of this blog in a while, so it was fun to kind of remember what it took to get this thing going and what is running in the background to bring this alleged enjoyment to the dear reader. For the curious, this blog runs on WordPress on a wind-powered server in my own server-space. This makes maintaining the blog just a little more challenging in that I need to stay on top of doing software updates and the like so I don’t compromise the security of the site. If anyone has any further questions as to the technicalities of the blog, you’re always free to drop me a line.

After my friend and I discussed the mechanics of the blog and I offered the alternate suggestion of using the wordpress.com platform (which is essentially the same thing that I do, only using WordPress’ own servers, which are always patched), he asked me one more question: “Why do I blog?”

You know, I haven’t thought about this one in a while either. My blog is nearly 12 years old. Back when I started blogging, the whole personal blog thing was in it’s heyday. People were just starting to see the journalistic possibilities of the blogging platform. I didn’t even know it was a “blog” when I started it; I just started writing as an exercise for building webpages.

But what motivates me to blog? Mainly creativity. I don’t do nearly enough creative writing. I love painting a picture with words and it seems like I never have enough time to do that sort of thing. I try to write something at least once a day, but when I put myself on some sort of schedule I run into writer’s block. The words just have to flow when they can flow. Using my iPad to blog has helped a lot in this regard.

I have zero interest in making money off my blog. There are no ads on my blog. There is no paywall. I don’t think there’s a problem with charging to view a blog if you have something credible and interesting to share, but if you’re just writing along the same lines as the things I tend to write about, I don’t think that it’s worth charging users for. It’s just my personal preference.

I know that I write in my blog because I enjoy sharing my slice of life with the world. On the occasions where I’ve wrestled with something, emotional, mentally, physically, psychotically, whatever, there has been some comfort in being able to read the blog of someone have a similar experience. One doesn’t feel nearly alone in the world when evidence points to the contrary.

I guess I also write for my personal amusement. Earl laughs at me because I will occasionally read a blog entry from a few years ago and laugh at myself. That helps me keep in good spirits when I might be feeling the winter blahs or whatever.

So I’m hoping that my friend will start a blog and share his life experience with those that may be interested. There’s not a lot of personal blogs left these days; it seems everyone goes for the quick updates via the social networks.

Once in a while it’s good to let the paragraphs flow. I know I enjoy it.

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Relax.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written about being on-call for work. Working in a technology-related field, especially in the telecommunications part of it, on-call is somewhat of a given. I can handle that. It’s something that I have learned to live with, though it has occasionally given me nightmares, cold sweats and twitchy-like responses to anything that resembles the beeping sounds of a pager.

I am in my third employment scenario that included officially sanctioned on-call duties. The first scenario, and the one I used to blog about the most, is the one that set the stage for me and there are several things from that experience that became Pavlovian-like responses. For example, my instinct for an on-call weekend is to complete wipe my schedule clean of any sort of activity outside of staring at the closest cell phone or pager, waiting for it to shriek out some sort of distress so I can shriek out in some sort of distress and them become hostile and throw the closest lamp at hand.

You think I’m kidding.

The thing is, my current on-call scenario is nowhere as hellish as the scenario that I cut my teeth on and quite frankly, this is something that I need to be reminded about from time to time. This is where my husband comes into the picture.

My husband is a smart man. Not only is he a smart man, he is a reasonable man. And not only is he a reasonable man, he is left-brained, so he can easily remove emotional response from a situation and think about things rationally. This is something that I am in awe of, though quite frankly, I like to think that I am slowly moving in that same direction. I don’t know what side of my brain I use. Probably the back half.

Earl reminds me that I’m not on-call nearly as much as I used to be. He follows up that reminder with the fact that there are always people at the various locations at work, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I don’t get called to fix things for everyone, I get called to fix things for the people using the tools I have created and/or support. He also reminds me that I only have to deal with the folks that I work with now, whereas in the original on-call experience, I had to deal with customers and vendors and telecommunication monopolies that really didn’t care about much of anything. Old on-call scenario, I was “first defense”. This on-call scenario, I’m “last resort.”

As I said before, old habits die hard.

Earl suggested that we spend the night at the casino on Friday night to celebrate Jamie’s birthday. We’d have a nice dinner, maybe gamble a little and then get a decent night’s sleep. On Saturday we’d head to Syracuse for some lunch, some go-kart racing at Destiny USA, perhaps some shopping and then a nice dinner before heading home.

Knowing that I was on-call, I panicked. I didn’t want to show that I was panicking, but in reality, I was like “ohmygodwhatamigoingtodoifsomeonecalls”, complete with irrational thoughts dancing around in my head. Earl reminded me that I could bring my laptop, I’m always connected to the world with the cell connection on my iPad and iPhone and really, what was the worst thing that could happen?

Rational thinking slays irrationality for the win.

I had one call yesterday, and that call was just a question because *I* had not changed one link on one list of resources due to a change in maintenance schedules. Nothing was broken, no one was hysterical and quite frankly, it was handled with two phone calls and a quick log in with my iPad to fix my mistake. Other than that, it has been quiet. I have no reason to think that it won’t continue to be quiet. I work with good people. We support each other. I sometimes forget that.

So after over three years of experiencing the “new” on-call scenario, I’m finally getting the picture. Calm down, relax, deal with it and enjoy your life.

This may set a real tempo for me.