1 AM Flashback.

When I was a club DJ, I would always spin a “flashback set” at 1 a.m. The set usually consisted of three or four songs beat mixed together. This track from 1986, “For Tonight” by Nancy Martinez was one of my favorites to mix in the set.

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Countdown.

In just under 54 hours from the writing of this blog entry, the Eastern Time Zone of the United States will be back in sync with the sun. Noon will be noon and we won’t be jimmying around with the clocks to make the sheep (and I’m not referring to farm animals) think they have an “extra” hour of sunlight.

Every time I hear someone comment that they’re happy that the day is longer during Daylight Saving Time (there is no “s” at the end of “saving”) I want to smack them. Instead I start to rant about time being relative and if they want a longer day perhaps they should get their butt out of bed earlier.

I go on and on about Daylight Saving Time around this time of year every year because for the past three weeks I feel like I have been trapped in a constant state of jet lag. It was bad enough when Daylight Saving Time ended on the third Sunday in October, but then George W. Bush pushed it to the first Sunday in November so that the trick-or-treaters could do their thing when it was still daylight, except that at 19:06 EDT, it’s not still daylight. It’s still just as dark when though rugrats go trick-or-treating, so we’re not really saving anything there.

Others counter that the “extra” hour of daylight gives folks the opportunity to enjoy daylight after work for a longer amount of time. I went for a walk during sunset this evening and no one was jogging, running, walking or spending time outdoors. The only activity I could see was the glimmer of computer monitors through unlit windows.

We need stop messing around with the clocks twice a year. We should just set the damn things one half hour back this weekend and never touch them again. If you want more daylight, get up earlier. If you want more daylight after work, go to work earlier. If you want to run around in the daylight, go running earlier. Time is relative. For those of us whose bodies are in relative sync with the actual time as dictated by the sun, going to bed when we’re not tired and getting up when we’re tired just so we can hear how much the farmers love Daylight Saving Time (they actually hate it as much as I do) is getting, well, tiresome.

In less than 54 hours it will be light in the morning again and dark in the evening and I, for one, will not be so blurry eyed and cranky because our arbitrary assignment of time will actually match what’s going on outside.

And just for that, I will go for a walk, in the dark, because I’m not afraid of the dark.

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Fraud.

This morning I received word from our bank’s Fraudulent Activity Department that my debit card had been used for purchases at Office Max/Office Depot for $413 (where the purchase was approved) and another business for $250 (where it was denied). One minute before the Office Max purchase, I had used ApplePay here at home. They turned my card off immediately but I still had to go down to the bank to dispute the $413 charge.

After bouncing text messages back and forth with Earl, we both came to the realization that the Office Max in question is near the mall we were at Saturday night, where I used my debit card to purchase movie tickets, the aforementioned concession items and then a quick bite to eat at TGIFridays. The staff at the TGIFriday’s in question seemed a little shady and the server took an unusually long time to process my credit card transaction to pay the bill. I’m willing to bet that’s where the theft took place, but I have no way of proving it.

Of course I engaged some brief hysteria where I made declarations such as, “I’m never using my debit card for a purchase again”, “I’m moving all of our money into the mattress and paying only with cash” and “I need another American Express account to act as a buffer”, but Earl kept me off the ledge and I simply ordered a new debit card. It should be here in 10 days and it will not be based on mid 20th Century technology (with the stripe) but will have a 21st Century still chip embedded in the card, much like Europe has used for a decade or so.

I have also pledged to try to not use my card where I need to relinquish the card to a third party or where I can’t use ApplePay to pay.

When speaking with the folks at the bank to file my fraud claim, they remarked that they highly recommend the use of ApplePay because it’s nearly impossible to steal. The numbers are changing, everything is encrypted and there’s no physical card. No one at the bank branch has an Apple Watch but they use ApplePay on their iPhones and they recommend that customers do the same with either ApplePay or the Google payment mechanism on Android phones.

It’s hard to believe that the “greatest country on Earth” is still reliant on 1950s technology (which was perfected in 1969) to process computerized information when it comes to payments. I really don’t know why U.S. citizens put up with it. The woman that I filed my fraud claim with remarked that she has to do it several times a year because she uses her card everywhere.

This has got to be costing somebody lots of money somewhere.

I’ve doubled down on my ApplePay usage and I’m getting smarter about where and how I use my debit card. Until American retailers stop arguing on how contactless payments should work (and trying to sabotage the efforts of companies like Apple and Google), maybe we need to move to Europe where everything is chip based.


Reference material:
ApplePay
Android Pay
Credit Card Magnetic Stripe Technology

Real Time.

I’ve been trying to be more realistic with my time management skills. As a bit of a dreamer and a person that I like to think is mostly positive, I try my best to do as much as I can with the time allotted to a 24 hour day. I like to do things, I like to meet new people, I like new experiences. Unfortunately, I also like to make people happy so when the timing of an activity is on the fence, I’m more inclined to say yes instead of being realistic about the situation and saying no. This stems from not wanting to disappoint people. I can’t handle sad faces and I certainly don’t like disappointment. It’s also a part of my genuine enthusiasm for an activity. If I truly didn’t want to do something or go somewhere, I’d say no right away. If I wanted to and I was hopeful but not realistic about the timing, I’d say yes and then possibly cancel, which is kind of rude, now that I think about it.

So in the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying really hard to say no. 

Saying no isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Only a couple of folks have whined about my declination of an event since I’ve been practicing this whole realistic timing thing lately, most take my no graciously. This practice has extended to my work habits, I’m now taking my normal time computation formula for a project, adding a fudge factor and then doubling the whole thing. Don’t tell anyone at work that I’m doing this. It makes me look like a superstar  when I finish a project before the doubled deadline and it makes me feel really good when I can subtract the fudge factor from the equation.

I really need to slow down my life. Between working 50-55 hours a week, doing all sorts of nifty things with Earl on the weekend, flying an airplane whenever I can, studying as an instrument pilot and whole bunch of other responsibilities and obligations, I have a lot on my plate.

I need to clear the plate off, be more selective of what’s there and then concentrate on that. This will be a nice little improvement to my life.

I won’t be out of breath when I smile.

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Excess.

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Image courtesy of a Google search leading to this blog, “My Midlife Crisis Is Orange”.

Remember the days when ordering a large drink from the movie theatre meant you were getting a 24 ounce cup of something? The sizes were 12, 16 and 24 ounces. The large seemed a little excessive but going to the movies was a treat and sometimes you wanted to accompany your treat with another treat.

Last night Earl and I went to see “The Intern”. We had both been wanting to see this movie as from the trailer it seemed rather light with just the right amount of introspection, the story seemed interesting and it had an excellent cast. Quick summary, we both enjoyed the movie very much.

Before entering the theatre we stopped at the concession stand to order the compulsory snacks for the event. Popcorn is my favorite food, so I ordered a large (but no butter) and a large Coke Zero.

I was presented with a tub of popcorn (a bigger tub than normal) and 54 OUNCES of Coke Zero. I’m no rocket scientist, but I’m pretty sure that the elixir of badness in Coke Zero should not be consumed in amounts greater than 16 ounces, let alone 54 ounces.

That tub of Coke Zero was just 10 ounces shy of two QUARTS of liquid. That’s 1.6 liters! 1.6 liters! I was handed 54 ounces of caffeinated diet brew with a plastic lid and a straw.

On the bright side, it fit in the cup holder in the theatre.

Because the vat was already filled before I realized the size of the drink I had just ordered, I used our line of credit to pay for this huge drink and popcorn and I lugged everything to the theatre. The barrel of pop fit in the cup holder, I arranged for my popcorn to have its own seat.

Earl looked at me like I was nuts because, well, I am nuts.

So we enjoyed the movie but I felt guilty for wasting about two-thirds of the popcorn, about three-quarters of the Coke Zero and the line of credit arranged for the payment of such waste. As a good citizen I carried my garbage out of the theatre and when I dropped it into the bin, the garbage can shuttered and there was a loud thud.

We all know that I am occasionally insane, but who in their right mind needs 54 ounces of any sort of snack beverage, especially since many probably order the full strength, sugar laden version of Coke.

The next time we go to the movies I going to act like a kid and go for the kids’ sized drink and popcorn, unless the kids’ sized drink is now 24 ounces or something.

Maybe I should just sneak in my own bottle of water.

Digital Nomad.

Today’s technology affords us many things that we couldn’t do even just 10 years ago. We can see the face of our loved one when we talk on the phone, no matter where we are. The entire knowledge of the world is literally in the palm of our hand with just a few taps on a screen that doesn’t have a keyboard. We can carry thousands of songs in our pocket, easily find out what airplane is flying overhead at any given time and keep tabs on long lost friends and acquaintenances.

As a software developer, I am fortunate in that I not only do what I love to do for a career, I can pretty much do it from anywhere in the world. Last year I worked for a week from Kansas City, Mo. as I accompanied Earl on a business trip. I found coffee houses, shared office spaces and our hotel room all to be a productive work environment. It takes a lot of discipline to remain focused as you’re working on the road, but honestly, I find it easier to concentrate on work when I am surrounded by the din of a retail environment or something of that nature. Oddly, working in a cubicle has a distracting effect on me; last week when I worked with my teammates at the home office, I found cubicle chatter to be distracting. Random noise helps me focus, focused noise distracts me. I guess it’s just the way I’m wired.

Earl has another business trip coming up soon and I’m going to meet him in Memphis, Tenn. for a day or two. I won’t need to take vacation time; I’m taking an evening flight or two to get there and like previous circumstances, I’ll find a space and a place to work. As I mentioned before, I work better in that kind of environment. While I enjoy working at home, it’s not my favorite scenario and there’s a part of me that feels like I’m missing the rest of the world when I eat, sleep and work in the same building. That’s why I’m sitting in a park in the Jeep writing a blog entry right now. I need to get out.

Everytime I work while traveling I learn a little bit more about technology, the world and more importantly, myself. When you stop growing and learning, you stop living. 

And I intend to live every moment out there in the world.

Looks.

As my dad, my grandfather and I walked through the grounds of Oshkosh for the EAA Annual Convention and Fly-in in 1984, my dad commented to me that it was easy to pick out the male pilots from the non-pilots in the crowd because most pilots tend to be clean shaven. I countered that at the time I knew a couple of pilots that had beards or mustaches. I don’t remember what his reply to my counterargument was but he said something about clean shaven men being disciplined. Our conversation that day kicked off something in my OCD ways and ever since then I’ve always noticed whether a pilot is clean shaven or not. All of the female pilots I have met fit the bill and about 90% of the male pilots have been clean shaven.

On the other hand, I know some bearded men that are damn fine pilots and I am very proud to call them good friends. I have fully established that facial hair has no factor on the depths of aviator talents and skill.

This all being said, I was going through some old blog entries and I noticed that I have been completely clean shaven for a whole year. No mustache, no goatee, no awesome beard, just smooth cheeked and baby-faced since October of last year when a barber wearing puka shells around his neck shaved off my mustache and cleaned up the rest of my face at a barbershop in Kansas City, Missouri.

I don’t think I have been clean shaven this long for as long as I have had the ability to grow facial hair.

For many years I was easily identified by my ginger beard or large mustache that went along with my bald head. Having cool facial hair can kind of be used like currency in the “gay” world; Instagram posts get more likes, blog entries get noticed. There are many that get gaga over an awesome beard or ‘stache and quite frankly, I enjoyed the ginger powers I had to command attention when I had a beard. People noticed when I walked into a room. It was a huge stroke of my ego. I was sort of like a peacock, strutting around with ginger awesomeness. Even when the gray came in strong, I enjoyed my cinnamon and spice prowess sprouting from my chin.

During the past year I have firmly established that I am more than the ginger powers that come along with growing a beard. I have always found the chore of shaving to be fascinating; the concentration required, the idea of holding a sharp blade at your throat. I have noticed that no two men shave the same way, some take quick, short strokes, some try to get through the process as quickly as possible, others grind away at their chin with an electric gizmo while driving into work (that seems dangerous to me).

I have to admit that I have enjoyed the taming of my ginger-fueled ego and vanity with my clean shaven face. I have other reasons to feel cocky, I defy gravity as a pilot after all, but more importantly, I feel comfortable as just another face in the crowd.

I feel like I’m putting more than just my best face forward.

Setting. 

Looking out our hotel room window this morning, we were presented with this lovely house in the middle of a rural field. Honestly, this is the kind of setting I would really enjoy when I retire. 

  

Familiar. 

The sentiment behind this sign looks quite familiar. The Main Street through my hometown is also US 11 (though not called Main St) just off I-81.  We say “Pula-sky” instead of “Pula-skee”.