Festive.

It’s starting to look like the Christmas season in these parts.

IMG_4546
Our home sits just to the right of the approach to Runway 33 at Griffiss Airfield.

Earl and I spent the afternoon assembling festive displays for the front of the house and putting up the new lights we purchased yesterday. We have one strand of 50 lights leftover. I’m trying to decide where they will go. I think I’ll need a couple more days to think about it.

IMG_0198

Impromptu.

Earl and I decided to go for a ride in the Jeep this afternoon. We had no plan other than to relax and just enjoy each other’s company. Random navigation found us in Rochester, the third largest metropolitan area in New York State. We stopped at one of our favorite malls, Eastview Mall, and ended up getting quite a bit of our Christmas shopping done.

We decided on keeping it simple for supper and hit the food court, which includes one of our favorite regional quick serve restaurants, Tom Wahl’s.

IMG_0824.JPG

IMG_0823.JPG

The service is always friendly and the comfort food is delicious at Tom Wahl’s. We were not disappointed.

We ended up buying all new decorations for the outside of the house as our decorations did not fare well last season. Whilst perusing the selection at Sears, I found this sign to be confusing.

IMG_0825.JPG

Like a photo I took a couple of years ago; the photo was of an 8×11 sheet of paper with MERRY CHRISTMAS printed in 36 point in Arial, I suspect the wording of this sign is an attempt to somehow be politically correct, but honestly I just found the sign to be confusing. And why are holiday decorations 30% off already, it’s not even December yet!

With the shopping we did today I’m finding myself easing into the Christmas season with a smile. It’s a nice change of pace.

1 Comment

Shopping.

I have become one of those people that does the majority of Christmas shopping online. My family members have been instructed to not get the mail nor are they allowed to shake, inspect, rattle or open any packages that come by the myriad of delivery services we have in this area. Honestly, I wish our packages were delivered by drone, but that technology hasn’t caught on yet.

When someone was programming me to be born, they left the shopping option completely out of my gay gene. I don’t get breathless over shoes, I don’t enjoy the challenge of slugging blue-haired women that try to grab a cheap television out of my hands, I don’t relish the merriment of tinny, crappy Christmas Carols coming out of a low-fidelity speaker.

I used to amuse myself during the holiday shopping season by figuring out which stores were using the point of sale software that I contributed to back in the 1980s, but now they all run the same generic crap on beat up computers and even the geek side of me is no longer interested in the “merriment” of shopping.

Thank goodness for Amazon.

2 Comments

The Feast 2014.

IMG_4525.JPG

Earl made an absolutely delicious feast for Thanksgiving this year. He does something a little different for each Thanksgiving celebration; this year he made the brussels sprouts with a sauce from champagne jelly. They were absolutely wonderful.

Our little family says grace before each meal. This surprises visitors from time to time but it’s something that we do. We are thankful to a higher power for what we have. It’s not an organized religion thing, it’s a spirituality thing. The blessing is brief and occasionally recited at warp speed. Live long and prosper.

As I type this Thanksgiving evening blog entry, the bread machine is doing its thing so we can enjoy the turkey all weekend long.

Life is grand.

2 Comments

Thankful.

I’ve been in a funk for the past couple of days. Moody. Glum. Blue. My usual joviality hasn’t been around and while I have been feeling this way, I have been bothered about feeling this way. I don’t like feeling this way.

As I slept in this morning, weaving in and out between reality and the dreamworld, I asked myself why I was feeling glum and blue and I couldn’t really find an answer. My life is great. I’m happily in love. My health is good for being in my middle ages. My career is on track and I’m able to engage in my passion for flying with ease.

I’m thankful for all of these things.

To pull myself out my funk, I decided to go back and review old entries in my blog from around the same time of year. As I virtually flipped pages through the last 13 years (the length of time this blog has been around), I found more and more reasons to celebrate Thanksgiving. And realising how good my life is, even when I feel glum and blue, made me realise that I really had no reason to feel the way I was feeling.

So on this Thanksgiving I am thankful for too many things to mention, and this makes me smile.

Happy Thanksgiving, unless you’re visiting from outside the U.S., then a happy Thursday to you.

And So It Begins.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States and right on schedule, my dearest husband has begun the meal preparations 27 hours in advance. He’s one hell of a cook and I didn’t even find that out until after I fell in love with him.

IMG_0177

Sometimes it’s just meant to be.

I sent a brief note to Kmart this morning expressing my displeasure with that fact that they’re opening all of their stores at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. I really don’t care if people shop on Thanksgiving; if they want to be crass in that fashion they are more than welcome to do so, however, I do feel bad for all of the folks that have to work on Thanksgiving, especially if they’re working at a retail establishment that provides absolutely no essential services whatsoever. Kmart responded to me, advising that they strive to give their customers and team members a pleasant holiday experience. I still maintain that they’re choice to open so early on a U.S. holiday is indicative of desperation and that The Savings Place will be merely a memory in a year or two.

I still miss Hills.

10152088399947436

I am working a full day both today and on Friday, though I may sneak a flight into my schedule Friday morning as I am thisclose to getting my private pilot’s license. I think once I get beyond my checkride then I’ll be able to relax and enjoy the holidays. Working from home isn’t exceedingly stressful. One of the many things I am thankful for is the fact that I have a pretty sweet gig when it comes to my career.

The folks to the East of us are freaking about because there’s six or so inches of snow predicted for their area. I ask them to head to Buffalo and see what real snow is like but they don’t like to be distracted from their drama.

It’s snowing here and I find it to be quite beautiful.

IMG_0178

2 Comments

Hysteria.

And it’s started. We have less than a half inch of snow on the ground at the moment (we had more yesterday) but the television is covered with so many warning crawls you’re lucky if you can see more than one eyeball of any character on any given show this evening. Winter storm warnings. Winter storm watches. Winter weather events. Polar vortices. Snow Devils. Icicle launches. Blizzards. Typhoon. Bad breath. The list goes on and on.

Undoubtedly the weather channel has named all of these events. So have I. I have dubbed the “asshat”.

Either I’m getting crankier as I get older or people are becoming insane. I lean toward the latter. Folks are Up. In. Arms. about the fact that it’s snowing in these parts in November. Global Climate Change. Gas emissions. Starbucks. Chemtrails. Everything is to blame because it’s never been this way before. Snow in November. Who’d a thunk it.

Except when I was kid I went trick or treating on several occasions in snowstorms.

When I worked for ARC in the 90s school was closed in mid October due to an early snowfall.

I’ve ridden a sled or snowmobile on Thanksgiving day at least a dozen times in 46 years.

Listen people of Upstate New York, I don’t know where all the fair weather freaks are coming from but I ask that you kindly leave and take your hysteria with you. I’m damn proud to be born and raised in the Lake Ontario snowbelt and just to prove my point I’ll haul my ass into the office everyday the local schools close as administrators cower in fear and teach their students to do the same.

I was born and bred of hearty stock and I’ll wear that like that badge of honor it is. And I don’t care if it’s covered in snow, get the hell off my lawn.

Time.

32 years ago on Thanksgiving Day I accidentally slid down a pile of chicken manure, fell through the a hole in the barn floor and whacked a tractor with my left arm before landing on the cement ground floor of the barn. I jumped up and grabbed my left elbow. My sister laughed because I looked like I was running around like one of the villains on Scooby Doo.

sd-ep-13a

My mom had to make a few phone calls to get a physicians assistant to open up the nearest medical facility, which was called NOCHSI. This was in the days before 911 and associated hysteria. The nearest official emergency room was over 35 miles away. It was determined that my left elbow was either broken, sprained, dislocated or disconnected, but they put my arm in a sling and told me to go to the doctor during normal office hours.

It turns out my elbow was fractured and keeping my arm in a sling for the next six weeks would get me on the mend immediately. To this day I know when it’s going to rain because my left elbow was rewired for that sort of thing during this incident.

Thanksgiving took place 10 days ahead of the school play that year; the drama club would be presenting “Mame” (the musical version). I had a very prestigious part as one of Mame’s guests during the “It’s Today!” number. I can still creak out the bass part of the song if I put my mind to it.

My mom wanted me out of the play but I had some sort of early gay actor hissy fit and she acquiesced like she normally did. No words were necessary, just a glare followed by a look of resignation. My dad’s response was predictable, a smile followed by the word “huh”. That meant “I love you”.

When I went back to school and the subsequent after hours rehearsal for this part, I was approached by a girl a couple of years older than me. She told me that I needed to drop out of the play because Mame’s guests did not have a sling on their arm. Now, the director of the play, one of the music teachers who was a truck of a lesbian but with a heart of gold, didn’t have a problem with the sling, but this fellow cast member told me, in no uncertain terms, that it was bad enough that I was ruining the play with the way that I walk and talk but having a sling was just going to make it worse. It was going to accentuate the freak in me. She hoped I would be dead or something like that.

Ah, the days of jovial chatter amongst classmates. The teamwork of a cast and all that.

I held my ground and appeared throughout the decades the storyline called for in “Mame”, sling and all, and I just walked and talked the way I usually walked and talked on stage. There was no glitter or drag races or anything, just me being me as one of Mame’s guests and everyone survived. There was a standing ovation at each of the shows and this was before people gave standing ovations and applause for shows that achieved the basics of theatre (don’t fart into the microphone). Reviews in the two newspapers made no mention of my sling nor my walk.

For some reason I dreamed about this last night, with a particular focus on being dressed down in front of everyone for my sling and well, my general physical, mental and emotional demeanor. Curious, I found the old hag (my words, not hers) on Facebook and it confirmed what I thought, her “likes” included the likes of Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin for President, Michele Bachmann and Walmart.

It’s odd to me that my psyche would decide to bring this old topic up over three decades later in the way of a dream; I had pretty much forgotten the incident (and fixed the scars from it) but now that I’ve had the dream I can relive the incident in my head as if it was yesterday.

Whatever the reason that this was dredged up 32 years later, all I know is that I survived the ordeal just fine.

And my elbow says it’s going to snow today.

1 Comment

ApplePay.

So as I mentioned last week, I now have an iPhone 6 and quite frankly I am loving it. I had a brief moment of hesitation before deciding to continue my journey with Apple, as I have not been happy with some of the blatant bugs in the latest versions of iOS 8 or OS X. I think Apple can do better.

However, one thing that Apple has gotten completely right is their implementation of NFC (near-field communication) payments, or as they call it, ApplePay.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, here’s how it works. You register your credit or debit card with Apple through an app on the phone. I think most people use the credit or debit card tied to their iTunes account. Now, when you go to a retailer with NFC readers, such a Panera, Walgreens or Bass Pro Shop, you can pay with your phone. You tap your phone on the customer facing credit card machine, validate your fingerprint with Touch ID on your iPhone 6 and then tap your phone again. At least, this is how I’ve been doing this. The reader is given a one-use credit card number as your credit card number, so the retailer is never given your credit card information. The transaction is approved and off you go. Ironically, when I used this at Panera, they still printed a receipt and I had to sign the receipt, but apparently that was because the transaction was over $25 (I was buying lunch for three).

NFC payments are not new; Google has been doing this for a couple of years with Google Wallet, however, it hasn’t caught on as quickly as it should have. Hopefully the popularity of ApplePay will help Google Wallet catch on as well.

The thing is, there’s a consortium of retailers coming up with a new approach called “CurrentC”, which will be released sometime in 2015. CurrentC has an admittedly outdated approach; you scan a QR code on the cash register with your phone, punch in your credentials on your phone and then the cashier scans a QR code that appears on your phone. It’s a much bulkier approach and it uses QR codes which have proven to have security issues. In addition, CurrentC will allow only your debit card or a direct tie to your checking account, because the chief motivator for CurrentC is for the retailers to bypass the surcharges that credit card companies collect per transaction. In addition, CurrentC will store your personal information on their servers, so if hackers had broke into Target next year instead of a year or two ago, they would have had access to your debit card or checking account number, social security number and driver license number, as the latter two are required to sign up for CurrentC. The CurrentC app also requires access to your health data on your phone.

To make matters more interesting, a couple of retailers in this consortium have disabled their NFC readers, the same ones that used to work just fine with Google Wallet. When I tried to pay for a transaction with ApplePay at Best Buy, the cashier told me that it’ll try to work but because Apple doesn’t exchange enough personal information about me with Best Buy, they can’t approve the transaction.

This really rubs me the wrong way, to the point that I have abandoned shopping at any retailer that has purposely disabled NFC payments (ApplePay or Google Wallet) in favor of CurrentC, which hasn’t been implemented yet.

I am all for competing technologies letting the market decide which product is superior and I firmly believe that given a level playing field, it’s a no brainer that NFC, whether it’s Apple Pay or Google Wallet (both work with the same system, though there are slight differences in the implementation) would hands down beat CurrentC. But I can not and will not support an organization that is trying to beat the system by purposely disabling technology features that they already had before Apple released ApplePay to the world.

Heroes.

Today is Veteran’s Day in the United States and I’d like to thank each and every veteran for their service to our country. Becoming a member of the Armed Forces takes a lot of courage, time, effort and sacrifice and I am truly grateful to each soldier that has fought for our country.

I’m sure you’ve heard the hype around the Navy SEAL who came forward as the person that pulled the trigger when Osama Bin Laden was killed. When I first heard the ads on Sirius/XM for the exclusive interview and whatnot, I was rather surprised by the whole exploitive opportunity. While I’m sure that this particular soldier is a brave man, I am doubly sure that every member of the team that went on that mission is a brave person. I am certain that the team gave 100% to accomplish the mission that was handed to them and I know that each team member was an integral part of the effort.

I’m not going to name the soldier that pulled the trigger here because I can’t name every member of the team that went on that mission. Yes, I am thankful for the mission and I am thankful that the soldier pulled the trigger on the target in an effort to keep our country safe but I do not believe that the job should be exploited along the lines of celebrity status.

As far as I’m concerned, they’re all heroes. I don’t need to watch an interview, I don’t need to read a book and I don’t need to know any more about one member of the team, no matter their role on the team. Stepping out and saying “I pulled the trigger” goes against everything that our military is built upon.