August 2014


I am working in the office today. There was no dust on my desk as it has been only two weeks since the last time I sat in my cubicle. I must remember to make the intervals between office visits longer.

The last time I was in town I took a nap during my lunchtime in the closed Burger King parking lot. In that two weeks, the old building has been torn down, plowed over and the foundation for a brand new Taco Bell has replaced it. My napping spot is gone. I have found a new spot to hide in the mall parking lot across the street.  It seems very popular, as many cars are parked along the side, under the trees, much like the way I parked.  We are off the edge of the pavement and on the grass so that we can have maximum shade under the trees, and it’s not even that hot.

There’s a man parked in the truck next to me.  He is rather rough looking and he has a big sign that says he is a Lifetime Member of the Piss and Moan Club. I’d take a photo but I don’t want him to piss and moan.

I decided not last night that I am officially old when I had no comprehension as to the music Jamie was listening to nor did I understand why anyone would want watching the Video Awards that were on last night.  There is a radio blasting out of the rental center in mall; each song has that robotic sound of AutoTune. I am of the belief that if you need AutoTune to be on the radio then you shouldn’t be on the radio. I despise the many abuses of technology today, but AutoTune tops that list. I really despise AutoTune. It’s one of the reasons that my gay card was taken away after I refused to watch “Glee”, all I could hear was the AutoTune. 

I might be cranky about some things.

It is the last unofficial week of summer in these parts and I must say that I’m excited to be getting into my favorite time of the year.  Cooler nights, mystical winds and a “settled” scent in the air suits me just fine. I just wish we didn’t have to deal with winter after autumn.  I am going to take Earl somewhere special on a leaf-peeping trip this year. It is my hope to do it by air.

I have written in my blog in over a week because I haven’t felt motivated to do so. I’m happy that the change of view this afternoon provided sufficient motivation.


Here and Now


Earl and I went out for lunch this afternoon. This not out of the ordinary for us, especially during the weekend. The experience was enjoyable. Our restaurant of choice was a local diner that is open until only 2:00 p.m. on Sundays. Luckily, they still offer the lunch menu; many diners or family restaurants in the area serve only breakfast on Sundays. I find this disappointing as I’m not a big breakfast-food kind of guy.

Lately I have been making a conscious effort to not use my smartphone in anyway when sitting in a restaurant. Well, I should take that back. When seated for a meal, I will tell Earl that I’m checking in on social media and then I’ll set my phone on the table, face down. Outside of taking a photo or something, I consider the phone off limits until we are ready to leave.

This smartphone approach has afforded me the opportunity to enjoy the company of others at the table and to observe the activities in our immediate area of the restaurant. As an avid people watcher, I have to admit that I’m always curious to see others in their natural habitat.

The first woman I noticed was younger, I’d guess somewhere between high school and college graduation. She was dressed casually and had joined a table of seven others. I guessed they were family. The vibe from the table was that it was some sort of “catching up” scenario; the snippets of conversation that permeated the atmosphere of the diner included questions about travel and college.

The reason I noticed this woman was because when she was served her pancake breakfast, she busied herself by demonstratively cutting up the entire stack of pancakes into a small, bite sized portions. All three or four pancakes on her plate were chopped up in this manner. Her cutting motions were large, in fact, this is what originally caught my eye. I remarked to Earl that it had been a long while since I saw someone cut their food up in a restaurant in this manner; he asked if there was a toddler at the table as it sounded like she was cutting up the pancakes for a four year old or something. No, she was cutting up the pancakes for herself. This type of table habits run directly contrary to anything I was ever taught, read from Miss Manners or witnessed on “Downton Abbey”. Granted, at one time in my life I held my fork like a shovel (it was several decades ago), so I’m really not an authority on table manners, but her approach to eating, which was repeated with the sausage and other extraneous meats on her plate, struck me as quite odd. The baby approach to culinary manners did not match the air of young adult that she was trying to portray. I found this humorous.

I did notice that between her portion-controlled bites she would glance down at her lap. A shift in my gaze confirmed that she had an iPhone 5C (in mint green) sitting in her lap. Apparently, something in cyberspace was more important than the family gathering that I was observing.

Earl and I were chatting about how our waitress resembled Vera from “Alice”, Earl was happy she didn’t fling straws all over the place, when a couple a few tables over caught my gaze. Both were older; if I had to guess I’d peg them in their mid 60s. They appeared to be married, but for all I know they were having an affair that spanned decades, but my money is on married. The reason I’m thinking they were married is because they weren’t, at least to my knowledge, interacting with each other in any way. Before the food arrived, while they had food in front of them and after they had finished their meal, they were both engrossed in their smartphones. Casual observation confirmed that the man had an iPhone 4S or older and the woman had an iPhone 5 or newer. They were both so involved with their iPhones that they didn’t even look at each other. When the food was delivered, while they were perusing over the menu, their gazes barely ever averted from their smartphones and at each other. Earl suggested that perhaps they were texting each other, but I don’t think that was the case.

These observations were made by my casual glances and such. Earl and I continued a lovely discussion as we enjoyed the moment in that little diner together this morning. I’m happy to be in a place where I still enjoy the company of those I spend time with and putting my smartphone down on the table, upside down and outside of my peripheral vision, confirmed that the best moment is the moment enjoyed in the here and now.


So on Sunday I went on a solo flight that wasn’t part of my official requirements to becoming a Private Pilot. Any flight time where I’m Pilot In Command is good and I’m always looking to get all the hours I can get, but the purpose of this trip was special to me. I wanted to fly into a Fly-In Breakfast this year and I wanted to go to the airport where my Dad belonged to the local chapter of EAA.

My instructor and I flew to KFZY, or Oswego County Airport in Fulton, a couple of weeks ago together so he would feel comfortable with my performance and endorse my logbook so I could make the flight solo as student pilots have restrictions when they’re flying the airplane alone. The flight to and from KFZY went without a hitch and I was given the endorsement to make the flight solo. I was very excited and barely slept the night before, though I felt great that morning and was more than ready, willing and able to make the flight.

The flight was awesome. The weather was perfect, there wasn’t a bump in the sky. The airplane handled wonderfully and I felt very confident behind the controls. One of the new experiences of this flight was the I was flying into a non-towered airport; in these instances, the pilots talk to each other on a common frequency and everyone works together to keep the area in and out and around the airport safe. The only caveat to this is that at smaller airports, some of the airplanes don’t even have radios, so you have to just kind of watch out for them. The important thing is that everyone is doing what is expected of them and that keeps things predictable and as safe as possible. Being predictable is an important part of training to become a pilot.

If you want to get a sense of what the traffic going in and out of the airport was like, I made a video of the experience. It’s rather long clocking in at 14+ minutes, but it gives one the sense of what I was hearing and watching for.

Earl was kind enough to drive back and forth to the airport so that we could have breakfast together. I told him that he shouldn’t have to drive to meet me for much longer because once I get my license we’ll be flying everywhere together. I am really looking forward to that day, but only if it’s as safe as possible for the both of us.

The flight in and out of the “non-home” airport was a good challenge for me and ultimately went well. While I was there I spoke with some other pilots and even showed one the photo in the office of my Dad standing next to his AcroSport II.

It was an amazing experience and just confirmed for me that becoming private pilot is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

IMG_0473Busy breakfast line. Delicious food served up by the Civil Air Patrol.

IMG_0482Posing next to the airplane before departing back home.

IMG_0485A shot of Interstate 81 as it crosses over the eastern end of Oneida Lake between Central Square and Brewerton. No, driving a vehicle and flying an airplane are not the same and while I don’t have a habit of using my smartphone while flying, I had the airplane at a point where I could snap this quick photo without anything startling happening.

All Night Long.

I have been working all night. It’s not like the nightmare of my old on-call days; this was a scheduled server maintenance that had to be done. Corporate growth and all that. The “maintenance window”, as we call it in the biz, is until 7 a.m. Right now the folks that are migrating data are at 70% complete. If it’s not done by 6:30 a.m., all will be aborted and I get to schedule another all-nighter.

I live such an exhilarating life.

I am looking forward to going to sleep in a couple of hours. I took a 90 minute nap yesterday evening. I had planned on four hours with the hopes that it would be enough to get me through the night but my body only wants to sleep when it wants to sleep and that’s all there is to it. Luckily, I’m doing pretty good right now.

I started writing some code while waiting for the server to do its thing but when I couldn’t make heads or tails of what I had just written 30 minutes prior to any given moment, I decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to write code for an application that is considered “mission critical”. I decided to just get organized and do “busy work” until I got the “all clear” signal from the team that gives those sorts of signals.

I seemed to use more quotation marks than normal in that last paragraph.

So I am sitting here with bated breath waiting for that quoted “all clear” signal so I can finish doing my portion of this server migration.

I’m really looking forward to sleeping in a little bit. I hope to have pleasant dreams. Actually, I hope to be dreaming about flying, because there is no way that I would past the “F” (fatigue) in the IMSAFE self assessment I do for piloting an airplane.

I know my limits.

Forced Networking.

This entry originally appeared on my Google+ stream.

It was the mid part of last week that I decided that I was not enjoying the disjointed Foursquare / Swarm experience, so I deleted both apps off of my smartphone. This actually made me a little sad for a couple of reasons. I had been actively using Foursquare and contributing to that ecosystem since shortly after its inception and when my husband and I went on our road trips (which can be several thousand miles long once or twice a year), it was fun to check in places that we had been before and subsequently be reminded of this fact by Foursquare. We also liked playing “spot the mayor”, something that didn’t happen very often but happened time to time, nonetheless.

We embarked on our latest road trip this past Thursday, and it was the first time in nearly five years that we didn’t use Foursquare in any way to find local eateries and the like. He used Yelp to a certain degree, I opted to use the Google ecosystem.  My tools were the various Google apps that are available for iOS.

It was wonderful.

One of the things that I really, really like about using Google for location-aware services and discovery is that everything is integrated together. There’s not a lot of app hopping (like going from Swarm to Foursquare) and if there is some app hopping involved, it still feels quite integrated. And because I’m now using Google services for this type of location discovery, the Google Now experience is becoming even more predictive. Predictive is good. This type of prediction is where Google is jumping leaps and bounds beyond what Apple has to offer through iOS’s Siri.

So, in an ironic way, I have to thank Foursquare for kind of screwing up their ecosystem to the extent that it made this loyal user look elsewhere for information. Had Foursquare continued with their integrated experience, I would have never realized the value of Google and its contribution to the arena.

Let’s hope that Google continues to improve their offerings on all platforms. If they do, I shall continue to be a very happy user.



Last night I was working my volunteer shift at Oshkosh AirVenture 2014. I was stationed at register 78 at the South Admissions Gate. I had an hour training and since the associated systems are geared toward volunteers, I was processing entry tickets and wristbands and the like like a pro. I have to admit that it felt good to give back to the aviation community this way. Next year I am going to work a couple shifts instead of just one.

One of the things that made me feel at ease was the friendliness of everyone: the EAA staff, the volunteers, even 99% of the customers were all very pleasant. People were smiling. My shyness was immediately disarmed. It was great to be around so many folks in the General Aviation community.

While at my station, three gentlemen walked up. After a few moments of conversation, it was determined that it was a grandad, dad and son. They had flown in from Tennessee and had flown into Oshkosh in their Cessna 172 for the day. Aside from a tent that they kept in their airplane, they were not prepared to spend the night, however, Flight Service was recommending against departure to wherever they were going due to stormy weather in the area. Their 172 was parked in a “no camping zone” on the grounds and they had no way to get anywhere. They were looking for a ride to one of the many massive camping areas at AirVenture. They were going to pitch the tent and just sleep in it; no sleeping bags, no change of clothes, no toothbrush.

The conversation involved more and more people as it went on. Options were discussed, predicaments were rehashed. Finally, a volunteer that lives locally chimed in.

“Why don’t the three of you stay at our house tonight.”

Now, she’d never met these gentlemen before. She just knew that fellow aviators needed a little help and she simply offered them a place to stay. The guys resisted in a very southern-gentlemenly type way. She insisted, so they thanked her and offered her the same if she ever got to Nashville, where they lived. It turns out she had never been to Nashville before but she would love to visit some time, it had just been out of her budget. She was delighted.

As a kid I had seen that type of exchange before with other pilot clubs and while I’m most certain that this type of generosity is not confined to the likes of aviators, it was her gesture that reminded me of just how wonderful to General Aviation community can be to one another.