Sanity.

I created a new Twitter account today. I still have my original account, and am still actively using it, but the original intent of that account was for my aviation purposes, discussions, and endeavors. I’ve moved the direction of that timeline back in toward flying. I created a new account with the intent of using it for everything except for aviation. And politics. I’m at the point now where I’m not surprised by what’s going on with the U.S. Government and I don’t have much hope for some magical turnaround to make things better anytime soon. The recent election of President Biden moves us in a better place. I think he’s a good guy, I think Kamala is a good vice-president and with all the work they need to do since the last administration, the best we can hope for is “bearable”.

I wish there were unicorns and puffs of candy in the sky but that’s just not realistic. The country is in a deep hole and has just started building the ladder. Let’s celebrate the small steps.

So my new Twitter account is out there and I’m keeping it tweaked and being quite selective in whom I follow. I have auto-delete safeguards in place and I’m making liberal use of muting functions. I’m hopeful this will help me keep in touch with what’s going on and let me interact with online folks I’ve gotten to know over the years.

Keep an online smile in place.

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Separate.

Since starting our trip last Saturday I have purposely stayed away from most social media but specifically Twitter. It’s not that Twitter has done anything wrong, it’s just that it’s an endless stream of “stuff” that I don’t need in my head right now. The move to Tucson has me very excited about life; dulling the sensation with outrage, gasps, and other clutches of pearls is not jam. I don’t need the angst.

I mentioned this to Earl and Chris during dinner on Tuesday night. We were reviewing the inspection report on the new house at a Starbucks in Tucson and I took a quick glance at Twitter. After a few swipes of the screen I felt my jaw tighten and my mood harden. I mentioned, “Wow, Twitter can really suck”. Chris responded, “Maybe it’s not Twitter that sucks, but the people you follow. I follow artists and interesting people and try to stay away from politics. Maybe you should try that”.

He’s right. I’ve tried to curtail my following list to non-political posts, but with all that’s going on in the U.S. government these days, both during and after the Trump administration, there’s a lot of people who will just start screaming on Twitter about the latest outrage. I should know, I can be one of them! And honestly, I’m not in the mood for that drama.

I haven’t done anything outrageous with my Twitter account, but I am taking the lead of my friend Séan from the U.K. and starting to delete my tweets after X amount of days.

I don’t need my former outrage following me around like so much baggage.

I know the script, I don’t need to follow it along word by word on Twitter. Many in the GOP are going to be spineless, the Dems will lean toward making sure everyone likes them, and we’ll eventually get to some sort of outcome on the latest crisis.

Just tell me when to vote

On The Radio.

During our whirlwind Tucson round trip road trip I made a point of listening to local radio stations along the way. As a former radio professional (at least, as best as I could be), I used to find great delight in listening to other radio stations during our travels. I was able to formulate new ideas, or at least copy ideas from far flung radio stations, and bring new elements to our station to keep it “exciting and fresh”. Buzz words are important in radio.

With the arrival of the 21st century and the simultaneous explosion of Internet streaming, iPods, iPhones, and the like, and the watering down of radio station ownership to a handful of media megaconglomerates, I had lost interest in listening to radio. That all happened about the same time as Top 40 performers relying heavily on auto-tune, and my musically trained ears just can’t stomach that awful processing, unless it’s used as some sort of special effect. I know I’m getting old, but the vast majority of pop music falls into three categories: 1. all humanity drained from the track by autotune, 2. screaming and yelling and yodeling-like sounds trying to sound like Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston, and 3. whispered tracks that sound like a cat making yowling sounds to a backing track.

Back in my day, while going up hill in the snow both ways to get to school, “classic hits” harkened back to the days of Elvis, the Beatles, and other bee-bop and Rock ‘n Roll. Today’s “classic hits” format plays music from my teenage days to the late 90s, and for the most part sit quite well with me.

Here’s four “classic hit” stations that caught my attention during our trip.

KMXO 95.3 FM in Rolla, Missouri had a strong signal for a good share of the Interstate 44 corridor and had a nice mix of music from multiple decades. I liked everything I heard, the station branding is strong, and it didn’t feel too narrowly focused. With Internet streaming, you can listen here.

I first heard 92.5 KOMA from Oklahoma City in late 2000s when I was attending training for work in Norman, Okla. The station goes back to what I would consider “classic hits” but comes up into the late 80s and plays a nice mix. I often listen to this station courtesy of Alexa; it was nice to listen to the station in real time in an analog way. We listened going into Oklahoma City on I-44 and held onto the signal quite a ways west along Interstate 40 as we made our towards Amarillo. You can listen to KOMA here.

When we decided to move to Tucson I started looking around online to find radio stations that would fit my listening needs. I never really did that when we moved to Chicago; I don’t know enough about Windy City radio other than to listen to WBBM for traffic and weather on the 8s. K-HIT 107.5 in Tucson is a heavily 80s station, at least when I listened to it earlier this week. I had the windows down and the tunes cranked as I made my way down Speedway looking for a recommended Mexican restaurant. I was blasting Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Culture Club. You can listen to it here.

WJEZ covers Livingston County in Illinois. It’s licensed to Dwight, Illinois and identifies to Pontiac. It comes in beautifully across the prairie along the Interstate 55 corridor. I had the sense this is a newer format for the station, and my radio tuned ears could easily identify that it relies heavily on automation in that someone is sitting in a studio running multiple stations through specialized computer equipment at the same time. The first four songs we heard were straight off the old Wow-FM playlist I would generate back in the late 1990s. We heard tracks from the late 1990s going as far back as to The Rolling Stones and a couple of Top 40 tracks from the early 1970s. The mix was eclectic. The only thing that was odd was there were a couple of weird edits to songs, almost like they were hastily edited to fit a certain time slot. I’ve heard many edits of “Groove Is In The Heart” by Dee-lite, but the edit I heard on WJEZ was nothing I’d ever heard before. I still really liked the station, found the air personalities friendly, if slightly generic (hence my bet on automated trickery) and I recommend the station. You can listen here.

Metric.

Interstate 19 runs south from Tucson to Nogales, Arizona. It’s relatively short for a two-digit Interstate; I-19 is slightly over 63 miles long, or more specifically, I-19 in 102 kilometers long.

That’s right, 102 kilometers.

The majority of distance based road signs on Interstate 19 are in metric. Speed Limits are displayed in customary Imperial measurements. Many think I-19 has metric road signs because it goes to Mexico.

Not quite.

The majority of Interstate 19 was built and signed around 1980. This is when the United States was going to finally catch up with the rest of the world and switch to the metric system. Arizona, being proactive at the time, decided to sign I-19 with metric signs. Interstate 88 in New York State almost met the same fate, and for a long time had blank exit number panels because they hadn’t decided whether the numbers were going to be sequential, mileage based, or kilometer based. New York State decided to go with the vastly outdated and not helpful sequentially numbered system.

All of this metric versus Imperial discussion took place around the same time I was in elementary school learning units of measure and distance. Since we were going to be metric by 1980, we learned liters, meters, etc. Was the push to metric a Carter Administration thing? I don’t remember a lot about President Carter, other than we suddenly had peanuts with every lunch meal, he had feathered hair, and the Iranian Hostage Situation. As far as Imperial versus metric goes, to this day I cannot remember how many quarts are in a pound or how many pints are in an acre. It makes me husband crazy when I say, “how many pints are in a gallon”? Metric has always made sense to me and it’s a shame the United States never made the conversion. Who cares how many chains are in a teaspoon.

The signs on Interstate 19 were replaced in the late 1990s, again with metric designations, and many have been recently replaced again. While Arizona was going to switch the freeway to Imperial units, after all, while metrification is long overdue, it’s also a kilometers long long-shot, but at the last minute decided to keep the metric signs. There are a few signs that were converted from 2 km to 1 1/2 miles on the northern end at Tucson, but for the most part, I-19 remains a metric highway.

I can’t wait to drive it again! Metrically.

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Excitement.

I’m cautiously letting my excitement build around the contract we have on the house. We toured it in person for the first time today, and I can safely say the photos on the listing are great, but they don’t do it the justice of actually experiencing the space; there’s a lot of things to love about this house. It also needs a little bit of work, but nothing major. A GFCI outlet doesn’t work here, a faucet leaks there, that sort of thing. All doable.

One of my comments was, “they made quite a few interesting design choices here”.

The inspection went well today and we are marching forward with the proceedings necessary around the purchase of a home. I’m keeping my excitement levels at a reasonable level, but I will say this: I really look forward to moving to Tucson.

Surveying.

Tomorrow we are scheduled for a tour of the house. I’m really looking forward to seeing the house in person for the first time; all interactions have been with the real estate agent via photos and video tours. I need to “feel” the house. I am confident that we’ll love it and we already have a contract on it, but tomorrow is inspection and tour day and after that is complete things will be full steam ahead.

Since we don’t have the code to the gate, we drove around the area best we could to get a sense of the lay of the land. We like it. We actually love it. We are minutes from Saguaro National Park East and Mt. Lemmon. The landscape is beautiful and just what I’ve always wanted for a desert home.

Three of the five of us are here; Chris flew into Tucson International Airport and we picked him up at lunch time. As an experienced pilot that can work iPhone applications, I was able to snap a photo of his arrival

We toured another home along the Rillito River. It was quite a nice home but not quite what we’re looking for. Interestingly, the house has an elevator that reminded me of something from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Augustus must stay away from the chocolates if he moves into this house.

I could never bring myself to get inside that tube. I’ll fly an airplane miles above the earth but I do not enjoy elevators.

We took a drive a bit up Mt. Lemmon today just to enjoy some desert fun in the nice weather.

Our stay here in Tucson is too short and with pandemic restrictions it’s not like we should be overly sociable at this time. However, when we move here in a month or two I’ll look forward to meeting up with folks that we’ve chatted with over the intertubes over the past decade or two.

I looked back on my blog entries here and realized that back in May 2006 I blogged about the fact that I’ve always wanted to live in the desert. It’s quite fun that we’re able to make that dream come true 15 years later.

Cleanliness.

I was very nervous about traveling during these pandemic times. Since the beginning of this ordeal we have been going out of our way to remain as isolated as possible. We always wear masks, wash our hands a lot, and do our best to maintain as much distance as possible from others.

When we decided to drive to Tucson I knew it wasn’t going to be like any other road trip. We’d be eating in the car. We wouldn’t get to know the local flavor of a town by eating in a diner or hanging out at a bar.

And I was worried about how the whole hotel thing would work.

Hampton Inn has modified their amenities to help combat the spread of COVID.

1. There is no housekeeping. Once a room is occupied, no one but the guest goes in there until they check out. Make your own bed.

2. There is no breakfast buffet, which actually fine by me. I’ve often been horrified by the behavior of my fellow Americans at a hotel breakfast buffet; I’d be doubly horrified if they continued to pull the same stunts during the pandemic.

3. Each room is sealed with a “it’s clean!” sticker on the door. The room smells really, really clean. Either they gassed the entire place with a barrel of Lysol or they actually cleaned the room Either way is a win win.

4. If you want to use the fitness facilities or the pool, you must make an appointment at the front desk.

5. You can’t browse the pantry. They’ll get it for you.

I’m feeling better about this trip knowing that many businesses are going out of their way to do the right thing as far as cleanliness and safety goes.

Mask use has been better than I expected at the various establishments we’ve stopped at along the way. The only disappointment was a Wendy’s in western Oklahoma. I gave them the what for on Yelp. Otherwise, I’d say about 80-85% of the patrons and staff have been following reasonable precautions.

If we all work together, we can get through this together.

Road Trip.

I am writing this from Oklahoma. We are on a road trip during a pandemic. We are well acquainted with quick pit stops and drive thrus. Panera isn’t Panera in St. Louis but the gift card still works just fine.

Tomorrow we shall see the desert.

Chilled.

I am very much looking forward to our move to the desert Southwest. After living through 52 winters, the vast majority of them in frigid cold and/or feet of snow, I’m in the mood to celebrate this time of year with a light jacket and a cocktail on the back porch overlooking cacti.

Last night was the second of two major server migrations at work. I had the activity planned to the moment, but the Database Tech carrying out the migration of critical company data was confused and for a bit seemed to have lost two weeks of customer orders. The data was found and finally placed it in its proper place, but it was touch and go for a few moments. I had to remember to keep calm and carry on.

The migration went later than planned and I ended up clocking in about five and a half hours of sleep last night. Today we had a few support requests as a result of the migration, but for the most part things went well. I’m just exhausted.

Exhausted and cold.

I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep tonight. I’m looking forward to warmer temperatures. Soon.

Red Sky.

The sky was a beautiful mix of red and orange at sunrise this morning. It’s going to be an interesting day of weather. They’re calling for all sorts of precipitation and winds with gusts up to 45 MPH.

But it’s a beautiful start to the day!