May 16, 2018

Tuned Out.

Tuned Out.

A few years ago when we started visiting Chicago on a regular basis, I noticed a trend of folks tuning out the world around them by wearing headphones. They wore headphones everywhere. On the train. While shopping. While walking their dog. While talking to an airport ticket agent. Everywhere you looked, people had some flavor of headphones over or in their ears. Occasionally you could hear what they were listening to, as the loud volume spilled out around their listening gear.

I’ve never really subscribed to this sort of thing.

I enjoy music. I enjoy listening to music on a really good set of headphones that are designed to highlight the nuances of that which I’m listening to. One of the reasons I enjoy my Apple AirPods is the awesomeness of the sound quality. The first time I listened to music by The Carpenters or Abba on my AirPods I was shocked at how easy it was to hear the intricacies of the music, both the instrumental and vocal contributions. Being able to tune out the world and lose yourself in your favorite music can be a magical experience. Personally I find it most magical when it is enjoyed on an occasional basis.

I am too curious about the world to tune out everything around me as a regular habit.

I’m writing the blog entry on a United flight from Chicago to Rochester, New York. We are on an EMB 145. Like most of the smaller airliners (and smaller airplanes in general), it can be quite loud. Many of the my fellow passengers have headphones on.

I like to hear every nuance of the airplane.

I walk between 40 and 50 miles in a week. I’ve started cycling again. I can’t imagine walking, or especially riding a bike, trying to navigate the streets of Chicago with a set of headphones shoved over my ears. There’s too much to hear to tune it out. Why tune out the experience of life?

Some folks prefer to be in their own little world, doing their own thing, oblivious to those around me. As long as they don’t become obnoxious through being oblivious, I’m fine with that.

But life is short, and I want to hear every second of it.



Earl makes fun of me because I try follow all rules. I rarely cross the street against a light. When I use a crosswalk I stay within the painted lines and I make my way solidly on the sidewalk before heading left or right. While driving I make 90° turns to left or right. I stop if the light turns yellow. One exception is the speed limit, I drive with the flow of traffic, regardless of how far above the speed limit it is moving. Purposely driving the speed limit when everyone is whizzing by you is dangerous for everyone on the road.

As a pilot I have flown an airplane for hundreds of hours. As an airline passenger I have flown hundreds of flights. I still put down whatever I’m doing and pay attention to the safety presentation. Even though I might know every nuance of the airplane I am on, I still pay attention and give the flight attendants my undivided attention. I do this for a refresher of the particular airplane I’m on but I also do this to set an example to the others around me. If the airplane makes an off-field landing, I don’t want to be the one carrying my bag down the slide or wearing my oxygen mask incorrectly. I know where my exits are and how far away they are from me o every flight. I also know where every exit is located in any hotel I stay at and how many doors are between my room and my exit.

One of my biggest philosophies is “always be aware of your surroundings”. Following the rules, and throwing in some common sense from time to time, will get you far in life.

Some say life is boring when you always follow the rules. I enjoy life, and will probably enjoy it longer, because I took the time to follow the rules and look around at the world surrounding me.