Early.

Sunrise over Lake Michigan. From Wikipedia Commons.

Every self-help book promising to make you a billionaire in five days says the same thing: you must get up before sunrise to be successful. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple does it. Mel Robbins, life coach and motivational speaker, up before sunrise. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, not only gets up at the crack of dawn but then he bathes in ice cubes and walks four miles or so to work.

I am not wired this way.

I want to be successful. I want to be healthy. I want to be thin. I want people to like me. I want to be one of the cool kids. But apparently I’m destined to be a failure, fat, and unlikeable because I am really miserable when I get up in the wee hours of the morning. I try to smile. I try to focus. But my body will scream “WHY?” and my brain will constantly say the same thing, “you know you need more sleep. Remember how comfortable we were in bed?”

It’s mid February. The idiocy of Daylight Saving Time is just around the corner. Beyond this statement of it’s on my mind, I’m just going to say that I’m not looking forward to that experience.

When I get up at 6:00 a.m. I don’t want to watch videos of people working out and then try to do the same thing along with them. I don’t like working out, I don’t like lifting weights, and I’m bored out of my mind if I ‘jazzercise’ or whatever the latest fad calls for me to do. I like riding my bike, but we live in Chicago and as previously mentioned, it’s February. I’m not hipster enough to be riding my bike in this weather.

I’m ready for a nap.

Cussin’.

Photo courtesy of CBS.

I didn’t drop my first f-bomb until 7th grade. At the time I had recently inherited my grandfather’s wrist watch and I mistakenly set it on the side of a gym locker. The watch fell behind the row of gym lockers and it took some creative use of coat hangers to retrieve it. When it dropped I exclaimed frustration with an f-bomb. The gym teacher shot over to me knowing something was wrong. The issue was resolved. But I still swore from time to time.

My parents rarely swore and if they did you knew they were in a zone no one wanted them to be in. Things relaxed a little bit as we got older, but my Dad rarely ever swore. I followed his lead until I got into radio. The second radio station I worked for was owned by a husband and wife and swearing was second nature to them. It wasn’t a staff meeting unless the words were blue. As the Program Director and later Director of Operations, I quickly learned I couldn’t get my point across unless I yelled and swore. A lot.

I didn’t really enjoy that aspect of the gig.

All this being said, I’ve sworn more than I should over the 50+ years I’ve been around. Swearing has become rather commonplace and I’m still taken aback when I hear swearing on television.

I was really surprised to hear an f-bomb in a recent episode of “Star Trek: Picard”. The Starfleet Admiral dropped the adjective in the middle of an emotional response to Picard and my first thought was, “how did this person get to become an Admiral if she can’t even control the emotionality of her vocabulary”?

I’m so happy it wasn’t my beloved Captain Janeway in that role.

I feel like the use of swearing and cussing is indicative of the loss of control in American society. My friend Jeff reminds me that a focused, structured individual shouldn’t have the need to swear. I agree with this mindset and I’m trying to make a better effort to not swear anymore.

I believe we should be what we want to see in society. By tempering my language a bit perhaps I’m contributing more positive energy to society.

It might not change the world, but I can certainly try.

UA 372.

We are onboard United 372 from Honolulu to San Francisco. We’ll have a layover of a couple of hours at SFO and then proceed home, arriving at O’Hare just before midnight. And if the weather forecast is correct, just before more snow arrives in The Windy City.

There’s a lot of ocean down there.

The flight is off to a great start, though the flight crew does not have the flight deck communications feed to the passenger cabin turned on today. I keep hoping to hear ATC and other flight communications but I’m content just listening to the sounds of the airplane. I have a noise cancelling headset for when I’m in the cockpit but I can still hear and enjoy the low rumble of aircraft engines. Prop, prop turbo, impromptu turbo, turbine, doesn’t matter, they all sound wonderful to me.

I’m already looking forward to our next planned vacation, which is scheduled for July. We’ll be going to Oshkosh, Wis. for the EAA Airventure gathering. It promises to be a great time.

This trip to Hawaii was just what the doctor ordered. I’m feeling great and I feel ready to glide through work stuff to get to play stuff. I’m hoping to get some flight hours in soon, let’s hope Mother Nature cooperates.

Commute.

I have one of the sweetest work gigs I can imagine. I am a staff manager of five, I get to play with computers all day, and I like the company I’m working for. Plus, I get to work from home. I’ve been working full-time from home for over six years. It takes discipline, both to stay focused during work intervals and to not engage in work stuff too much in the non-traditional work hours.

When I go for my morning walk I am always aware of folks rushing out of their homes into the darkened Chicago morning. They’re making their way to the nearest ‘L’ stop or to their car parked nearby. As my morning walk usually takes an hour or so, there’s a lot more vehicular traffic in the latter half of my walk versus the first half. I think about these folks driving to their work. I then start delving in philosophical territory.

I wonder what it is about American culture that compels us to live in such reliance on our cars. Folks in our neighborhood have plenty of public transportation options: the ‘L’ has plenty of stops nearby, METRA (the commuter train) passes through from southern Wisconsin to downtown Chicago, and CTA buses are everywhere. We live in a very commuter connected part of the city, it’s one of the reasons we chose this neighborhood. Yet, many folks opt to drive their car to The Loop to work in one of the skyscrapers, or they drive to a work location in another part of the city, one that may well be accessible by public transportation.

Driving a vehicle reinforces one’s sense of independence. I get that, I know that feeling, and I drive for fun more often than I probably should in this era of Climate Change and the like. And it’s Climate Change that weighs on my mind when I’m thinking about this. Does working from home really help reduce my carbon footprint? Am I burning more energy in my home than I would using public transportation to get to an office building?

I might have to do some reading up on this so I have a better grasp of the numbers. Knowledge fires up passion when I’m intrigued. And learning is better than flipping through Twitter or something.

I still wondering how these folks can drive their cars to work everyday. I really don’t enjoy driving in the city. I find it incredibly annoying. Everyone is forced to the lowest common denominator of driver ability and my patience wears thin.

I shall now embark on my commute from the living room to my home office.

Belief.

Love where you live. It’s as simple as that. Even though it’s been 2 1/2 years since our relocation to the third largest city in the United States, I can not believe that we are lucky enough to live in such a wonderful place.

Yes, I grew up in the country. I lived on a farm. My high school graduating class was in the double digits. But living in the city is perfect for us and I still can’t believe I have such an honor.

Little Geek.

Bell and Howell 16mm Movie Projector. Not my photo.

My second grade teacher was Mrs. Hayden. Situated in Room 108, Mrs. Hayden and second grade is probably the year I best remember from my elementary school years. Spelling tests included the word “deer”, when used in a sentence. We added and subtracted multiple columns of numbers. I was in the most advanced of the reading groups (there were three) and, if I’m remembering correctly, we went through two books of the Lippincott Early Reader series (maybe C and D?).

We had our desks arranged in rows and I sat in the back corner by the sink. Occasionally Mrs. Hayden would let me turn my desk sideways against the wall as I worked on my “seat work”. I wasn’t in trouble or anything, I think she just knew I needed a change of scenery once in a while. She smiled nicely and chatted with us in a way that made us feel like little adults. I remember one lunch time she told us her first name and that her husband was a barber. She lived in the next town over and drove through the snow to come to school everyday.

Mrs. Hayden knew I was a little geek; I was fascinated with the built-in vacuum system that we’d hold the blackboard erasers against on Friday afternoons to clean out the chalk dust. When the clock stopped (along with all the other clocks in the school), she let me go down to the office to turn in the attendance cards, where I watched the repairman work on the clock hanging behind Mrs. Youngs’ (the principal’s secretary) desk.

But most importantly in my second grade mind, Mrs. Hayden designated me as the person to run the Bell and Howell (or sometimes Singer) movie projector when it was time to watch 16 mm movies. At the beginning of the year she fumbled with the self-loading mechanism of the Bell and Howell projector and then I asked her if I could try loading it. I was successful and from that moment and throughout the year I ran the movie projector. I wore this as a huge badge of honor and only on one or two occasions did another person run the movie projector that year.

Perhaps my disappointment in those one or two occasions is why my desk was turned against the wall next to the sink.

Of all the teachers I had during my elementary years through the end of Grade Six, Mrs. Hayden was the one that really “got” me. I felt comfortable around her, I felt like I learned around her, and I excelled at my studies that year. She never seemed to get angry when someone was misbehaving, in fact, I don’t remember any incidents of anyone misbehaving that year.

Today our home in Chicago is situated near the old Bell and Howell factory complex where they made those movie projectors. During my walks of exercise I often walk by “Bell & Howell Lofts” and I think of Mrs. Hayden. She retired nearly 20 years ago. I found her profile on Facebook a few years ago and she is still as pretty as I remember her to be back in 1975.

I hope when she looks back on her teaching career she smiles about her experiences with all those students as much as I do when remembering how she encouraged me to be a little geek.

Martin Luther King Jr Day

Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day in the United States. It is a Federal holiday and Federal offices are closed, as well as the associated suspects; banks, etc. I am off from work today as it is a recognized company holiday.

Back when I was working for Frontier Communications I was a bit surprised by the number of employees who elected to not take this day off, as the particular area of the company I worked in delegated the day as an optional holiday. I worked in a 24/7 Network Operations Center. When I first started there I always thought MLK Jr Day would be handled like a weekend day, much like Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc. are handled. But the NOC Manager felt MLK Jr wasn’t a super important holiday and therefore it was decided it could be a regular work day and one could take the holiday time elsewhere in the year.

This always bothered me.

Can you imagine if the same suggestion was offered around Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, or any of the other traditional U.S. holidays? There would have been voices of objection and people carrying on about a lack of patriotism, etc. if the same approach was used for Independence Day.

As a manager I get that the timing of MLK Jr Day puts a small hiccup in the momentum one is usually trying to build at the beginning of the year. But in reality it’s not that big of a deal. We pause on this day to remember a man who made significant, important contributions to the fabric of our society. Choosing to skip his birthday remembrance as a “really not important holiday” is kind of rude and revealing of why his contributions are important to begin with.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

The full text of MLK Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech can be read here.

2100.

During my daily walk this morning I came to the realization that children born today will most likely live to see the year 2100, assuming the planet is still inhabitable by humans by then.

I definitely will not.

All of my life I’ve focused on the future and life in the 2000s, and here we are. I guess I never considered 2100 and what life would be like because I knew I wouldn’t be around, in this lifetime at least, to see it.

Thinking about where we are today, where we are headed right now, and what history has shown us, makes 2100 seem like a long time from now. But it’s less than a lifetime away. This gives me a new perspective on what lies ahead and if anything, it drives me to do what I can to make the world a better place.

Granted, 2100 is just a number. But it’s also the future of the children of today. Isn’t that a great reason to make the world the best it can be?

Privacy.

Growing up we had a standing rule at the supper table. Beyond the basic manners of not playing with our food, sitting at the table, and at least trying a little bit of everything on the plate, the television would be on, supper would be served as close to 6 p.m. as possible, and we wouldn’t talk about politics, religion, or homosexuality. It wasn’t that my Dad believed these things shouldn’t be talked about nor did he have any negative or hostile feelings on the subject. My dad believed meal times should be enjoyed and a pleasant experience and discussions on these topics detracted from those pleasantries. I think as a kid there had been screaming and crying at his supper table and he didn’t want to repeat that experience with his family.

When the woman mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry approached me with her “You Need Jesus” t-shirt, eyes locked with mine in an attempt to engage in a conversation, I simply told her “Nope” and motioned for her to cease whatever she was trying to start. You see, like my father, I believe conversation should be pleasant. There is a time and a place for debate and in the middle of Starbucks is not that place. In addition, how dare this woman presume to know what I need and furthermore, how dare she try to imprint her “need for Jesus” on me. My religious or spiritual beliefs are none of her business and honestly, I strongly believe her religious beliefs are none of my business.

If your religion tells you to convert everyone around you to your own thinking, it’s not a religion, it’s a cult.

I’m happy people find a path that fulfills them and makes them feel whole and gives them the will to continue living in this crazy, screwed up world we live in. But your path is not my path; you have no idea what’s going on in my life, my head, or my heart. And unless I tell you, it’s none of your business. Where and when I grew up this was part of the societal contract. And I’m determined to stick to it.

I know, I should practice what I preach. Yesterday I was probably in one of the worst moods I’ve experienced in many years. Lack of sleep, worry over work, exposing myself to too much news, all of these contributed to my sour mood and I let that mood dictate reactions, both private and public, to things I was reading, especially on Twitter. I lashed out at trolls and/or bots and did nothing to contribute in a positive manner to a political conversation around the man I firmly believe has absolutely no business leading a corporation, let alone the United States of America. The cult like following of his supporters is frightening, but telling them how stupid they are is not helping the situation.

Unless it’s damaging to me, their stupidity is really none of my business nor any of my concern.

I was once handed a Bible by a co-worker who was trying to save me from hell. The Bible was tattered, had the word “JESUS” written in pen along the outer edge of the pages, and had several passages, mostly in Leviticus, highlighted in yellow. I got the message and I chose to ignore it. I found the treatment of the Holy Book, with it’s tattered pages and pen markings and liberal use of highlighter, to be offensive. Sacred teaching should be treated sacredly.

But it’s not my job to tell her that. To each their own path. Do unto others as they would do unto you. Do no evil. Live and let live.

News.

One of my goals in this New Year is to eliminate much of the cruft that is nipping at my personal bandwidth. The vast majority of this extra noise is of my own doing; I willingly use apps like Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook to feed my need for information.

The thing is, it isn’t always good information.

I’ve always fallen back on the stance that I maintain a Facebook account to keep up with what’s happening with friends and family back East. I chat with other pilots, read about a geeky things in geeky groups, and follow people I don’t know but would like to meet in person someday. I’m intelligent enough to discard all the political misinformation and the like, but discarding the “keep scrolling!” hooks takes bandwidth and quite frankly, my bandwidth is more valuable than that.

I’ve been delving deeper into Apple News. I’m finding that I can keep tabs with what’s happening in the world through this fairly simple to use app and I’m noticing Siri’s AI is making things better on a daily basis. After consistently using Apple News for the past couple of weeks and providing the app feedback, what I like, what I don’t like, etc., I’m finding it’s giving me news I’m looking for. I will say News is not validating my viewpoint, there were a few articles highlighted today that wanted to make my blood pressure go up, but that’s a good thing. There’s too much tendency for apps to reinforce silos and narrow viewpoints. Apple News doesn’t feel like it’s doing that.

One of the best thing about using Apple News is that it doesn’t automatically show comments to articles. If you’ve ever dealt into the comments section on The Washington Post or New York Times, you know that it’s a dismal and hopefully inaccurate view on where society it is today. There’s no way of telling whether the author of a comment is a citizen, a human, a bad actor, or a bot. And as long as the engagement keeps ticking up the ad revenue for these outlets, we’re never going to know this. So I find it’s best just to stay away from the Peanut Gallery Commentary. That’s what Twitter is for.

If you haven’t given Apple News a try I suggest giving it a whirl. Try it out for a week or two, give it valid feedback with what stories you like and what stories you’re not interested in.

You might enjoy what you read.