March 2014

Consuming.

Since taking my first flight lesson back in November I have logged just under 13 hours of flight time as a student pilot. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time unless you a consider the fact that I am learning to fly in the winter in Upstate New York. If I was to learn in a warmer climate I’d probably be up around 20 hours by now. I often have to remind myself that I’m lucky to be able to fly in the winter at all; my dad and grandfather always had to wait until the snow was gone and the grass strip was functional before they could fly. We take what we can get.

My flying endeavor has consumed me in the best way possible. Nothing has consumed my time and energy more than flying, save for my marriage. Luckily, both my flying and my marriage are pure bliss, so I can say without hesitation that my life is awesome.

Co-workers ask about my last flight, conversations with my mom and sister include my flying lessons and on Saturday, when Earl and I were on a ride to the Southern Tier, I randomly barked out that I figured out a way to remember which way to turn the trim handle in the Piper Cherokee to trim up vs trim down without looking at what I was doing (up until now I’ve always had to look). I talk about flying a lot. I dream about flying. Airplanes have always been a part of my dreams but now they’re almost a non-stop element of my dreams and always in a good way. Last Monday night, after my first night flight, I could barely sleep because I was so excited about the flight I had just been on.

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Life is meant to be exciting.

Up until a month or so ago I worried about the fact that I was consumed with becoming a pilot. I was concerned that I no longer cared about building an awesome Linux computer or that I didn’t feel the need to add another clock to my school clock collection. All of my energy outside of work and home has been focused on flying. Am I boring to talk to? I don’t think I am, not anymore than usual. I hope that when I speak about my passion of becoming a pilot, folks will see a sparkle in my eye or hear an excitement in my voice that portrays the way I feel. Because I can’t say it enough: flying is awesome and I am a very happy man for finally starting the path to become a pilot.

There’s a saying about old dogs learning new tricks and the like. The truth of the matter is, I don’t feel like an old dog learning a new trick. I feel like a young playful puppy that looks in the sky with a feeling of wonder, amazement and excitement.

And it’s a great feeling.

Pistachios.

So Iíve been trying to tame my sweet tooth and staying away from sugary snacks. Granted, I just started this effort yesterday, but I have been successful for the past 28 hours or so, so I think Iím onto something. Still feeling hungry but not wanting to have a cookie or a muffin, I opted to give pistachios another try.

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I love pistachios. Thereís a little bit of work involved with getting to the sweetish nutty goodness but I find they are an excellent snack for the workday. The caveat to this is that I must keep the portions under control. I canít have a whole bag nearby, I need to portion out a 1/4 cup for the day and then store the rest in a time-locked, fireproof, tamperproof safe.

Ok, that might be a little extreme, but not by much.

I first started eating pistachios at my previous job. Munching and crunching helped keep the stress of dealing with customers all day at bay. In fact, that approach probably contributed to the 20 pounds I gained while working there – stress plus non-stop eating equals jolly with love handles.

Iíve eaten my allotment of pistachios for the day and I feel quite satisfied. Iím not gnawing on my desk or anything. Not even with syrup.

Bet.

Earl and I went to the local casino on Friday night. We left the casino with more money than we arrived with, so all was good. We enjoy the entertainment value of the casino; it’s prime property for people watching, there’s a decent selection of restaurants and of course there’s always the small chance that someone will give you more money than you anticipated.

That doesn’t always happen though.

Turning Stone Casino was the first casino to open in New York State. It opened in July 1993 and has grown in leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades. When the casino opened, it was illegal to have slot machines in New York State, more specifically, you couldn’t have gambling machines that required the insertion of money. Turning Stone found a way around this by instituting an ATM-card like arrangement; you deposited money on your casino card and then you inserted the card into the machine. So technically you weren’t putting money into the slots, you were putting a privately funded card into the slot machine.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Over the past couple of years a couple of “racinos” have opened up in the Empire State and these locations with slot machines were allowed to work like traditional slots; put your money in, pull the handle, get money back, etc. A couple of weeks ago Turning Stone converted all of their machines over to the traditional ways. Unfortunately, in doing so they replaced the vast majority of their slot machines. So what looks like a penny machine actually costs $4.00 if you max bet a spin. If I play slots I don’t want a machine so complicated: give me a quarter machine with three lines max and I’m content. 7 – 7 – 7, let’s make it happen. These types of machines are few and far between at Turning Stone. I’m better off playing blackjack or roulette.

After playing the new slots for a little bit I decided to just people watch and I found that activity to be much more enjoyable. People never cease to fascinate me and there was a wide selection of shapes and sizes to be fascinated with.

That was much more fun than trying to figure out how much a penny slot was going to cost.

After.

So they were predicting up to 18 inches of snow for our region, followed by winds up to 35 MPH with lots of blowing and drifting snow. The Weather Channel (Always Looking For Ad Revenue, Always) named the storm with some ridiculous name because that’s what they do, but in our household we like to call it a “snowstorm”, being that we live in Central New York and all that.

When all was said and done, we got maybe four inches of snow, six if I’m feeling generous, and a bit of wind. The snow was that heavy, spring-type snow full of water, so there’s hope that spring is right around the corner. The roads were passable, so Earl and I went out to supper because we are contrary like that. Many of the restaurants were closed, but local Ninety-Nine was open, so we went there and sat at the bar, chatting with the bartender and the increasing number of customers around the bar as our time there moved forward.

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One of the things that I’m always stressing to Earl is that when you live in this area of the country you have to dress for the weather. Honestly the weather around here can be very unpredictable so you have to be prepared for the worst. I modeled my idea of dressing appropriately for him.

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Today the sun is shining brilliantly and creating a beautifully, scenic picture in our back lawn. Though I’m thoroughly prepared to see winter go away, it’s not as bad when things look so pretty.

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Now if we could just get back on that warm kick we were on.

Time.

Like many other Americans in 48 of the 50 states, this has been a groggy Monday morning for me. While I’m not a morning person, I like to think that I’m able to at least form complete sentences on a Monday morning, but today the haze is thicker than usual and this can be attributed to just one thing: the beginning of Daylight Saving Time.

Now, I’ve written before about how I despise Daylight Saving Time. I know many croak about the virtues of “having more sunlight” and “longer days” but no matter who many ways you dice the math, each day will have the amount of sunlight, it’s just that we are fooling our bodies into rising when we should be sleeping, eating when we’re not hungry and thus stumbling our way to work down dimly lit streets in the morning so we can proclaim that the day is longer and Mabel and Finster, the precious little monsters that they are, can enjoy playing outside after supper with all the neighborhood kids, when in reality they’re up to their eyeballs in Common Core homework and probably playing video games anyway.

“But the farmers love it!”. This is something that the Daylight Saving Time evangelists always screech, usually at an ear splitting decibel. I’ve never met a farmer who just randomly barked out, “I can’t wait to milk Bessie in the dark”! Hens are not awake, roosters are silent and Bessie don’t want no farmer touching her teets but by god, we are going to start our day earlier because we’re making the day longer.

It makes me want to push a suburbanite-loaded Hummer off a cliff with my bare hands.

I think I’m ranting.

The truth of the matter is, I don’t care about the length of the day. It’s going to be 24 hours regardless of what we label it and if there’s more sun in the am or pm makes no difference to me. What I do care about is this flipping the clock back and forth. For the love of everything that is sane, why can’t we just set the clock and be done with it? I know that compromise is a bad word when it comes to government and lately the American populace in general, but why can’t we just set the clock 30 minutes ahead and then never readjust it again? This flipping back and forth is asinine and quite frankly, even though I think we should just stick to standard time throughout the year, I could live with a 30 minute increase.

For those of us that get our day started at 0530 and want to get a good night’s sleep, it absolutely sucks that it’s still light out at 10:00 p.m. For a country who thrives on the rigidity of the typical 8 to 5, you’d think that swinging time around like it’s nobody’s business would make people crazy, but they couldn’t care less because “they get more sunlight”. Set your damn alarm clock to start the day an hour earlier and you’d have the same exact scenario without inconveniencing the rest of the country to match your whims.

I’m getting a little worked up about this as I type this post.

I asked a co-worker why we do this whole DST thing, and there reply was that it was because we always have. Aside from the fact that DST didn’t start in the US until 1918 (and in the world in 1916), that “because we always have” excuse is just like that short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, where they stone a person to death to ensure good crops because it’s something they always did. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind throwing a rock at the idiot that came up with this idea.

If DST is so great, just set it and leave it. That’s all I ask.

Space.

I recently moved to a new cubicle at work. The decision to move was mine; a team member and I decided the area we were in was a little too noisy at times for us when we were trying to develop software and troubleshoot issues, so we moved to a quieter part of the building. The new cubicle is a bit bigger and feels more conducive to work. Today is my second day in the new spot and I’m liking the change.

The ironic part of this cubicle move is that I spend more time working from home than I do in the office. While I feel productive in the new cubicle at the office, I don’t feel as productive as when I work from home. It’s not a comfort level thing; I don’t mind my surroundings at work. The truth of the matter is that it’s a distraction thing. When I’m at work I’m thinking about when it’s time to go home or when it’s time to eat lunch or whether I have to go to the bathroom or not. At home it’s different in that I’m not distracted because I’m already home, lunch is just upstairs and I apparently don’t have to go to the bathroom as much. The downside of working from home is that I don’t get as many steps in as recorded by my FitBit.

I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to go bike riding this spring. That will help with the FitBit steps. There’s only so much one can do on an elliptical machine at the gym or by riding a stationary bike whilst watching others fly their airplanes in nicer weather on YouTube. Spring is just around the corner, I can feel it, and it can’t get here soon enough as far as I’m concerned.

In the meanwhile, on the days that I’m working from the office I’ll just enjoy my new space. It makes me feel sunny.

Dreams.

So I dreamed about Rosie O’Donnell last night. It was a pleasant enough dream; I guess that Rosie was doing some sort of reunion show of her talk show from the late 90s/early 00s and we were in the audience watching the show, just like Earl and I did that one time back in 1998. There wasn’t anything that could qualify as remarkable about the dream, it was just there, but it made me wake up with a smile on my face. I can think of worse ways to start a day.

The other night I apparently talked in my sleep as Earl heard me saying things “Griffiss Ground” and “Airport in sight” at 3:30 in the morning. Why I would be telling Griffiss Ground that I have the airport in sight must have been left to the dream (that would have been to “Griffiss Tower”), but I do recall dreaming about flying that night even though I don’t remember the details.

My dreams have been vivid again for the past couple of weeks and I have felt more rested. All of this is good. I think the vividness has returned with the approach of spring (though it doesn’t feel anywhere near spring yet). On the other hand, as the various stresses in my life are managed, perhaps I just am able to get a better night’s sleep.

Either way, I’m not complaining about it. It’s a curiosity and nothing more.

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