Continuance.

The family+1 at dinner last night

So at the beginning of a New Year I always evaluate many things in my life and this blog is one of them. Personal blogs have gone by way of the analog television signal for the most part; I think there’s less than a half dozen that I follow that are updated on a regular basis. For the past two months I’ve been trying to make at least one update a day, I missed the mark last month twice.

As I evaluate the pros and cons of the various data input points in my life I include the blog in the mix due to it’s slight financial obligation and the amount of effort I spend keeping software up to date, writing content, deciding what points of my existence I want to share publicly and that which I don’t. Engagement is low but not awful; when I bother to look I get decent “hits” here. However, the blog was never meant to be a popularity contest for me, it’s always been more of a “hey, I’m an introvert and here’s what’s happening in my life, as shared by me on my terms”. It’s kind of like being on something like “Big Brother” where people can peek in but there’s little to no interaction. And no cut throat competition.

So I’m going to continue this journey into the 20s for as long as I maintain interest and technology lends itself to this type of experience. I’m dabbling with some ideas on contributing more to General Aviation and to the Tech Community through writing in other places; they’ll come to fruition as my timeline and thoughts allow.

Happy New Year to everyone peeking in through this blog. I hope 2020 brings you happiness, health, and all the good things.

Near-Farted.

I picked up a very cheap pair of “cheaters” on Amazon. I have prescription eye glasses, in fact they’re required to be in the airplane with me when I’m Pilot in Command, but they’ve never felt quite right for computer work. And I do a lot of work on computers in my career.

I decided to just go for broke and buy large glasses that have a slight retro feel to them. They’re so dang cheap if I don’t end up liking them I can go for something else. I’m surprised at how much they help.

Maybe I won’t be so cranky while I’m writing code during the workday because I can actually see what I’m doing on the barrage of monitors on my desk.

At least I look the part.

Goals.

I’ve started formulating my goals for 2020. At the end of each year I tend to shy away from the idea of making resolutions, as in my mind calling something a resolution is marking the thought as fleeting. Let’s face it, New Year’s resolutions tend to dissipate by mid January for the majority of folks and while it’s fun to make ourselves feel good by thinking we are orchestrating change, the fact of the matter is I tend to do better when I have goals to achieve.

I am looking forward to achieve some personal goals in 2020. A good share of them are aviation related, but I have other self-improvement and such goals planned for 2020 as well.

I started my goal making progress by reviewing my goals for 2019. I did surprisingly well with what I envisioned a year ago. The biggest was, “trying to fly different airplanes” in a way to get out of my comfort zone of always flying the Piper Cherokee and its brethren. I have thoroughly enjoyed flying the Diamond DA-40s available at Skill Aviation in Waukegan, Illinois this year and I feel like I’m still advancing my aviation skills. I look forward to knocking out a few more ratings in 2020.

I realize as I get older I need to pay more attention to my health. I’m making small strides, three steps forward, two steps back sort of thing, but I hope to enhance that in 2020. I have no desire to buy into the fitness industry and expect magic results from a gym membership. I’m not that trendy.

As long as I can still get an airplane off the ground with me in the pilot’s seat and not worried about dying of a heart attack, I’m good.

Even if I have to go atop a Saturn V.

Seasons Greetings.

I don’t remember anyone getting super worked up about Zayre using “Seasons Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas” back in 1985. “Seasons Greetings” was a pretty common phrase to be shared back in the day. The TV stations said it, radio stations shared it, other department stores printed it. I remember foil and cardboard decorations from the 60s and 70s that said “Seasons Greetings”. There was no war on Christmas. People weren’t weeping, grandstanding, and being downright surly around the choice to exchange pleasantries during the holiday season.

Why do folks get so worked up about it today?

Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention to the outrage back then. Maybe I pay too much attention to the outrage today.

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. A Joyous Kwanzaa. Happy Holidays. Seasons Greetings. It’s the thought that counts. Just say what you say with good intent and receive it the way it was intended.

We have more important things to worry about than getting outraged over how someone conveyed good tidings during what should be a very joyous season for all.

Microtel.

So my husband and I traveled to Upstate New York to visit my family for the holidays. We arrived Thursday night.

To save a little money we decided to stay at a Microtel. The property is fairly new as it’s sitting on the grounds of one of the many malls called “Pyramid Mall” that formerly dotted the landscape in my old stomping grounds. We figured we just needed a place to sleep and it was relatively close to my family so it should work out. It was a decent bargain.

The stay has been good. Not great, not even very good, but good. It adequately fit the bill. But there’s been some weirdness going on.

When we checked in, the young woman behind the counter looked at us but didn’t say a word. I stared at her, she stared at me. It appeared she used a Sharpie to apply her makeup. Finally I cocked an eyebrow and she said she needed my license. She scanned it (when did that start happening?) and gave us two room keys. She eyed my husband the whole time, either wondering why he was waiting with me or wondering how the two of us were going to fit in a queen sized bed.

After getting the two room keys I started to walk away. She made some noises that beckoned my attention and apparently I needed to sign here, sign there, initial there, sign here. So I did after she pointed a scribbling on the paper she had placed on the counter. After I was done we walked away.

She didn’t say a word, she went back and curled up on a couch in the lobby.

She was still there 12 hours later when we headed out for breakfast. The next evening, when we came back from a fun filled day of touring my hometown, she was there, albeit in the same Sharpie but in different clothes. Feeling daring I said, “good evening!”. She blinked and said hello in the most monotone, deadpan voice one could imagine.

Some other things that were odd: it was faster for me to walk up, down, and up the stairs again than taking the elevator from floor one to floor two. The coin operated laundry units were in the hallway, not a laundry room. And the air conditioning/heater unit, which was located under the couch built into the window casing (like other Microtels I’ve been in) was loud enough to wake the dead. I have no idea as to why hotel chains feel very loud heating units are a pleasant experience, but then again I write software, not manage hospitality.

We probably won’t stay there again. I hope the woman at the front desk can contain her excitement.

Series Finale.

The series finale of MADAM SECRETARY will feature a host of esteemed guest stars who will help celebrate the critically acclaimed series\’ six year run. The episode will air Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019 (10:30-11:30 PM, ET/10:00-11:00 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured L-R: front row Eric Stoltz, World Cup Champion U.S. Women\’s Soccer Team Members Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris,Series Star Téa Leoni Allie Long Crystal Dunn; Kevin Rahm Pictured L-R: back row Tim Daly, Erich Bergen and Zeljko Ivanek Photo: Mark Schafer/CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

I’ve gushed about “Madam Secretary” before. Sunday night was the series finale of this magnificent show and the last episode was absolutely amazing. I’m going to miss the dose of governmental sanity every week. I look forward to seeing what my straight crush Téa Leoni brings us next.

I feel like this is one of the last intelligent shows left on network television, and now it has left us. Thank you for six magnificent years.

War.

We went to the National WWII Museum today. The campus is impressive with several buildings connected by pedestrian bridges.

Since today was the day before National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, the museum was very busy. There were a few bus loads of folks coming in; the vast majority of them were in their later years. There were also several members of the military in uniform making their way through the exhibits.

The exhibits are very thorough and very immersive. Some areas of the museum have Disney-like experiences in that there’s a lot of lighting and sound and other creative effects to give an impression of what it was like for soldiers during the various battles around the world. The museum also has a “dog tag” that you scan as you enter the self-guided tour. The software then assigns you a member of the armed forces from WWII and you learn about their specific experience as you make your way through the various exhibits. The educational use of technology was very impressive. The soldier I learned about didn’t talk about his experience for 60 years after he returned home, but finally made his story known and contributed to the video and audio experience narrated by the interactive software.

In my school days we always tackled history chronologically and it always seemed like there was rarely time to discuss World War II and more recent wars. I learned a lot today and the WWII Museum should be a must-see for any American that is able to stop by the campus.

Highly recommended.

Meal.

Back in the mid 1990s my grandfather told me I needed to marry a woman that could cook. Later on, after I had been with my husband for a couple of years and my grandfather was enjoying a second helping of my husband’s famous baked beans, he told me my husband was a good man.

I will never forget that day.

My husband can cook, is quite amazing at it, and he amazes me day after day and year after year. He can get fancy or he can keep it deliciously simple. No matter the approach, I am thankful for anything he makes and I am constantly impressed. I never take my luck in this department for granted.

Earl made an amazing Thanksgiving meal again this year. Our family thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We have been comatose on the couch ever since we finished the meal time.

Maybe it’s time for a snack.

Pause.

Today’s line at the world’s largest Starbucks

Even during the ramping up of the holiday season I enjoy walking along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Michigan Ave is a hotspot for tourists looking for a midwest “Fifth Avenue” experience and the Mag Mile fills this need well. As I make my way through the crowded sidewalks I’m always interested to hear the various accents and non-English languages being spoken. I love living in a prominent destination for people across the world.

An eastward view along the Riverwalk.

A part of me has a hard time walking along the Mag Mile as there too many homeless people taking shelter and (usually) quietly asking for money. A veteran by the name of Cliff was bundled up with only one hand holding a McDonalds cup exposed to the outside world. The tattered sign contained the aforementioned details and indicated he was homeless and looking for bus money to get to a shelter. I had no reason to doubt the authenticity of his sign so I stopped and put some money in his cup. The bills made no noise against the plastic of the cup so I decided to speak.

“Thank you for your service, Cliff. This will help you can get to a warm place this evening.”

A surprisingly young looking man came out from under the blankets and looked in the cup. His looked up and his eyes said thank you as he removed the money I had placed there. My eyes teared up as I walked away and resumed my way to catch the Brown Line to my warm place for the evening. I couldn’t help but think about the fact that we send our citizens off to war or other military activity, they do their part, they keep up their end of the bargain, and then we fail at supporting them when they come back home.

Our country is better than this. We as a society need to fix the homeless epidemic.

I hope Cliff is warm tonight.