April 2016


So last week I updated my new Dell XPS 13 to the latest version of Ubuntu Linux. I stick to the LTS, or Long Term Support, editions of Ubuntu Linux because they’re suppose to be more stable than the more frequent releases that come out twice a year. After updating to the latest LTS release my laptop was unusable. It wouldn’t boot up, I couldn’t log in and everything on my laptop was lost.

Sigh. The joys of a Linux laptop.

This evening I spent time rebuilding my laptop from scratch and I finally have it to where I want it to be. I’m back on the LTS release from 2014. Things are stable, the desktop is pretty to me and I feel like I have it in a usable state. I’m not going to endeavor to upgrade again. I’ll stick to the stability of what I have now.

Screenshot from 2016-04-26 21:59:20

This will keep me as a happy camper.

I am traveling for work for the next couple of days and this will be the first time I’m bringing my Linux laptop along as my primary personal laptop. I’m looking forward to the experience.

Screenshot from 2016-04-26 22:10:25


Earl and I are sitting in our local Barnes and Noble cafe. This is the closest thing we have to a Starbucks in that all the drinks are branded as Starbucks product but the pastries in the case are from the Cheesecake Factory.  So in a way, this is the closest thing we have to a Cheesecake Factory as well.  All of this is in a Barnes and Nobles built to three-quarter size, because all the stores in this big box center are built to three-quarter scale when compared to similar outlets elsewhere.  Except Wal*mart (Always White Trash, Always).  That store in this plaza is huge.  So, aside from the Wal*mart, I like to think of this plaza as “Barbie’s Dream House Plaza and Playset” because it tries to be quaint with its smaller sized stores. Contrary to a stray thought in my head, I believe the books in this Barnes and Noble are still full sized books. They don’t rip out pages or anything.

I have no idea where the weekend went. I opted to not fly tonight as my head just wasn’t in the game. It’s been a little windy today, which would have made for a bumpy ride but it would have still been manageable. I was originally in the mood to fly an excursion of some sort, but the airplane was reserved before our reservation today, so there wasn’t really time for a jaunt. I was in the mood for a jaunt, not a ride. I’m already planning a jaunt for a future weekend.  I want to go places. 

I’ve spent some of the day “relaxing” trying to get my Linux laptop working again. There’s something to be said for Apple’s “It Just Works” philosophy, even when it doesn’t just work, as it’s easier to get it to work versus the other options out there. By the way, I’m typing this on my iPad because it just works. 

Maybe I need to just give up my legacy computing ways and embrace the future. And the inevitable. 

I wanted to relax outside this afternoon but cooler winds prevailed and did not lend to the atmosphere that one is looking for when one wants to bask in the sun. 

Since there was no basking in the sun, Earl and I are relaxing at the aforementioned Barnes and Noble before calling the weekend a wrap.

And that’s not so bad after all. 

Earth Day.

On today, Earth Day, spend some time with nature: in the woods, at the beach or visit your local park.

I’m listening to birds sing, water falling through a creek and the rustle of leaves as an animal makes his or her way through the brush.

Taking a moment to visit nature makes me appreciate our planet. It should never be taken for granted. We are merely a visitor and we should do our best to make it better than when we arrived.



Browsing around the Internet this morning, I’m finding a lot of (well deserved) talk about the passing of Prince. While his music wasn’t always my cup of tea, I did enjoy many of his mainstream hits and I think the man was an excellent musician. His contributions to the pop world will definitely be missed.

In the mid 1980s he wrote a song for Sheena Easton called “Sugar Walls”. Quite risqué in its nature, this song was part of Sheena’s new image at the time, showing the young lass as edgy and daring. I have always liked “Sugar Walls” and sure played the heck out of it when I was a club DJ back in the day. It always mixed beautifully into Sheila E’s “Glamorous Life” (another Prince creation).

I was watching the “Sugar Walls” video when another of Sheena’s videos came up as a suggestion. This track reached the U.S. Top 30 in 1985. I had never seen the video before but I remembered how much I enjoyed this particular song. Look closely in the video and you’ll see Sheena’s boyfriend being played by actor Billy Zane (from “Titanic”).

From 1985 and her album “Do You”, here’s Sheena Easton with “Do It For Love”.


The other day, when I wasn’t feeling well and was trying to get my bearings back while lying in bed, I watched the original EPCOT video as narrated by Walt Disney in 1966.

I had never seen the video in its entirety but I had seen some snippets in the Walt Disney exhibit at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I found watching the entire video to be quite fascinating as I have a very strong admiration for Walt Disney’s ability to foresee “a future”. While there are elements of the original vision in the Epcot we know today, EPCOT was to be a planned city, designed to very detailed specifications. Cars and other motor traffic would have been pushed to parameters and underground. Innovative public transportation would have been the norm; the People Mover at Magic Kingdom and the Monorail would have been key in moving the folks at EPCOT about the city.

As an almost Civil Engineer, I am thoroughly fascinated by the hub and spoke concept, especially as it was depicted in such a geometric design. Automobiles would not have encountered traffic lights as the design of the roadways would have incorporated roundabouts and non-conflicting intersections.

I love the idea of more people walking and less people driving. The only thing that I didn’t really agree with was the climate controlled aspect; I’m a sucker for fresh air.

I think Walt had some great ideas with this original concept of EPCOT and it’s unfortunate that more of our urban renewal projects in the United States don’t share his vision. A lot of what we do seems to be patch up jobs or addendum so to existing city layouts. Wouldn’t it be something if folks got together and built a new city from the ground up today?

The only thing that comes to mind as being remotely close to Walt’s vision is the “Spaceship” being built on the Apple Campus in California. I am anxious to visit that someday. I think we need a lot more in the way of forward thinking people in the world.

When we visit Disneyworld I’ll often comment that Epcot is my favorite of the theme parks. While it isn’t what Walt originally intended, I do like the awareness, educational and social components of the theme park. I feel like while all of Disneyworld is designed for families to have fun and to lose themselves in their vacation, Epcot has the added bonus of bringing just a touch of education to the experience.

It’s not the same as living in a well designed, ultra-high tech city, but at least it’s a start.

Car Phones.

A recent reorganization at work has resulted in my belonging to a bigger team. Once the lone guy in Upstate New York, I now have colleagues in the Rochester area, which is a little over two hours from the house. I made the drive today to meet these folks; it was a productive day today and I’m very happy to be part of this larger group. Face-to-face time is always a good thing.

Since the majority of my work travel has been by air of late, I hadn’t done much in the way of commuting in the Jeep. The drive along the New York State Thruway west of the Mohawk Valley can sometimes be described as mind-numbing, especially when one has political commentary droning on and on from the radio. I decided to wise up, turn off the radio and take notice of my surroundings.

The pace of traffic along Interstate 90 in these parts slows down considerably west of us. I don’t like cranking the Jeep up over 70 for too long as the tires aren’t really designed for interstate driving and more importantly, the “ECO ON” indicator turns off and my gas mileage plummets. The speed limit is 65 so I set the cruise at 69 because it’s a number that a lot of people enjoy. West of here traffic during the day seemed to be moving around 70-72 MPH today. I enjoyed looking at the other people driving on the road. There were quite a few people driving much faster and most of them had either out-of-state plates (namely Massachusetts or New Jersey) or their license plate frame/bracket indicated that they were from the downstate area. Traffic on the Thruway downstate moves much faster down there because those folks are always in a hurry.

The one thing that I really took notice of was the fact that hardly anyone was using their cell phone illegally. I didn’t see any illegal texting, talking or watching of video, that is, until I was on my way home and east of Syracuse. Once I was east of Syracuse the average speed picked up a bit and I spotted several more people talking on or using their phone in some way, even though the amount of traffic on the roadway itself seemed to be the same. Tell-tale signs of erratic weaving, unnecessary brake lights and misuse of the passing lane made it easy to spot those that decided that their phone was more important than the task at hand, that being driving the car. I couldn’t pin an average age to the activity, folks seemed to be all over the birthday spectrum but my completely unscientific observations did show that women were more apt to be using the phone than men.

I try really hard to not use my phone when I’m driving. I’ve been known to talk to my phone to launch music or dictate a text message to Earl or Jamie or to send a Tweet, but if Siri goes brain dead during one of these activities I will just give up on the endeavor and stay focused on driving. Most of the time. I wish it was 100% of the time but it would be a lie if I said I was picture perfect in this department.

I’m always striving for improvement. I wish others would follow that lead.

In Sickness and In Health.

I have lost six pounds since Saturday. I wish I could say the weight loss is due to hard work, careful eating and determination, but the reality is I’ve had some sort of issue with my stomach that made me curse any food whatsoever. Quite frankly it had been over 20 years since I had last vomited, but my this weekend through last night has confirmed all of my plumbing designed for that purpose works just fine.

Earl was kind enough to hold back my hair Sunday morning during one of my spells. Actually, since I have no hair, he just kept a reassuring hand on my shoulder.

I have no fever, no chills or any feeling of malaise other than the unsettled stomach and the food exiting my body from various orifices at an alarming rate, so I ruled out any sort of flu or anything of the sort. I feel fine other than the queasiness, which has subsided considerably in the last 12-14 hours. Unfortunately, Earl is now showing the same symptoms as of last night. He stayed home from work today, a rarity for him, and I am doing my best to take care of him while still fighting an occasional queasy stomach and working from my home office.

Getting sick in the manner has helped me reevaluate my eating habits and health in general and I’ve made a couple of adjustments to my diet. Contrary to my tendency to make broad, sweeping changes to my life, I’ve committed to give up a couple of things through the end of April in an effort to make it a habit. I’ll reevaluate how I feel at the end of the month and go from there. Small changes make a bigger difference, especially when they stick as intended.

I really wish I could figure out where this ailment came from but I guess it will remain a mystery for the time being. In the meanwhile, I hope Earl doesn’t suffer with it as long as I did. Even 48 to 72 hours is much too long.


This is my second attempt at writing this blog post due to an error with the WordPress app on iOS, which basically said “there’s an error!” and then wiped out the entry. It’s basically what happened back in the 1990s when that young girl did the Apple ad talking about the virtues of a Mac vs PC, although the iPad played the part of the PC. I hope this version is just as good.

There was an airplane crash in the Town of Westmoreland last night. The crash site is about 10 miles from the house and rather close to the airport that I call home base. I learned of the crash through messages from friends and family contacting me to make sure I was safe; we then started talking amongst our pilots group. The names of the victims have not been released at this time. Reports indicate that one person walked away from the crash with minor injuries but that two others were badly burned. They were airlifted to Syracuse (about 45 miles away).

When an airplane crash happens there are some who are quick to call into question the safety of General Aviation. Comments of “it’s too risky”, “they shouldn’t be allowed to do that”, “they’re going to hurt me or my house” come from armchair critics.

Like life in general, flying an airplane involves being safety conscious and managing the risks associated with the activity. Nothing in life is risk free. There’s some degree of risk associated with anything that we do.

As a private pilot was thoroughly trained on emergency procedures for various scenarios. During my training I had to demonstrate that I could handle an “engine out” and that I could rapidly get the airplane on the ground in the event of a fire. I had to demonstrate these things as part of the checkride where I earned my pilots’ license. During my checkride I had to demonstrate three emergency scenarios: an “engine out”, how to spiral down in case of fire or other time crucial emergency and what I would do if I lost the engine during take-off.

When I’m flying an airplane, it may look like I’m smiling and just looking around, but in reality I have always picked out an emergency landing spot, I’m constantly scanning the sky and I am constantly scanning the instruments monitoring the health of the airplane. You might be looking at the pretty fields below us, and I am too, but I know which field would be best if the airplane needed to get on the ground right away. As a pilot I try to stay three minutes and six miles ahead of the airplane. What’s going to happen in the future? Am I prepared for it?

Life doesn’t happen without risk. A couple of commenters on the television stations’ Facebook page expressed concerns about aircraft flying too low or perhaps we need to re-evaluate smaller airplanes flying in the area. Here’s a couple of hints, you can’t get up there in the air without flying low first and you can’t fly a big airplane until you’ve learned how to fly a small airplane.

I am hoping for a speedy recovery for those involved with last night’s crash. I’ll be interested to read the NTSB report to find out what happened without speculation or hysteria.


Twenty years ago today Earl and I had our first official date. Much of our time together was spent driving through the mountains of Vermont in my little cherry-red 1994 Hyundai Excel. During that ride I knew that I was sitting next to someone that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, no further questions needed. We shared secrets, we got to know each other a little bit and about halfway through the ride, Earl felt comfortable enough to put his hand on my knee for the very first time. I can still remember the happy tingles that shot up through my body like it happened only yesterday.

We are both a couple of decades older, the Hyundai Excel is long gone and we still enjoy trips through Vermont from time to time. The most important outcome of that day, 20 years ago, is that I began the journey with the man that I knew was my soul mate. No questions asked, no hesitation necessary.

It was just meant to be.