Ponderings and Musings


Even though I took a half day off from work, the last workday of 2023 has officially come to an end.

Here’s what I look like while out for a walk after the last workday of 2023.


A trend that I’ve noticed over the past few years is retail workers working with one or more AirPods (or equivalent) in their ears. At first I was naive around my thinking and figured this was a way they were tapped into notices from management or something, you know, like in lieu of announcements over a loudspeaker or a ding-ding-ding-ding at Sears and Roebuck.

Silly me.

Of course the retail workers in question are listening to music in at least one ear, which is something I couldn’t manage in that environment. Today I saw a worker at a local Wendy’s with a Drive Thru headpiece on one side and an AirPod on the other. That would make me insane.

I stopped at this local Wendy’s for lunch. With careful planning this morning I spontaneously took the afternoon off from work and decided I was in the mood for chili and a baked potato from Wendy’s, so there I was in line. The Katherine of questionable skill behind the counter kept asking customers to repeat themselves as they were placing their order. While I was waiting to place my order two previous customers came up to the counter to ask for their order to be created, because in one instance she had misheard “Eight” instead of “Bacon”, resulting in the wrong meal for the customer.

I was asked to repeat my request for my chili. That’s when I noticed Katherine of Questionable Skill was working with an AirPod in her ear. Apparently her music was more important than her job.

I’ve moved on from the observation (though I’m writing about it) and am now sitting in our local Starbucks. There are more workers than customers at the moment and all of them have headsets but no AirPods (or equivalents) are in sight. I’m good with this. However, it’s probably because they have the music cranked fairly loud here. ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” is playing at rockin’ volumes, enough that I could hear the dub in the second chorus where they artificially extended some of the notes under “Queen…” before going into the bridge. (You didn’t know that was there, did you?) The volume is also loud enough to mask my tinnitus.

I’m thankful for that.

Now that I think about it, perhaps the folks working with AirPods are suffering from tinnitus and they’re masking it with music.

At the aforementioned Wendy’s, I also noted a customer using his speakerphone at a loud volume on the other side of the restaurant. I have always found speakerphone use to be rude, long before Steve Jobs blessed us with today’s modern smartphone. I once worked for man that used a speakerphone for EVERY call because he was multi-tasker at all times but master of nothing.

Some of the screeching on these speakerphones sound like glorified tinnitus to me. If the AirPod set isn’t masking tinnitus today they’ll probably have tinnitus to mask tomorrow.


The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is always weird to me. On one hand, work is quiet so I’m able to get things organized in my professional life for the New Year. On the other hand I know in the back of my head that New Year’s Day is just an arbitrary moment in time and there’s nothing really that magical about it. Hence why I tend to think of the Winter Solstice as the beginning of a new cycle instead of the 1st of January.

But this week of in between is also when I tend to have time to tinker around with projects and think about positive things I want do when things ramp up to full speed after the holidays. One of the things I’m doing is “tightening up” my social media presence. I’ve talked about this before, quite a lot actually, and this year I’m being a little bit more realistic about things.

Instead of declaring that I’m dumping social media, which I won’t, I’m reducing my social media presence a bit. Ironically, what’s old becomes new again and I’m starting to discover more personal blogs to follow through folks I follow on Mastodon.

If you visit my blog via the web interface, you’ll notice the blogroll is expanding. I cleaned up the old “Blogroll”, eliminating blogs that haven’t been around a long while. Those that remain are now in the “Legacy Blogroll”. I’ve followed these blogs for a long, long time; they’re primarily from the days before social media infested our existence.

You’ll also notice a new category called “Blog Resurgence”. These are newer blogs I follow via RSS, or Really Simple Syndication. I’m going to write a separate blog entry on how RSS can work for you, so strap yourself in for that. The RSS protocol has been around for a very long time and powers a lot of things, including blogs like this very one you’re reading right now.

The “Blog Resurgence” category is a work in process and will continue to be built out and otherwise tweaked over the next several days. I encourage you to follow along if you’re so inclined.

So what about Social Media? Well, Facebook and Instagram are both run by an evil company and while I haven’t abandoned the platform, I have again removed IG from my phone and only access it via web browser. I gave up on Threads. I also gave up on the new, but unrelated BlueSky. The “limited number of characters” updates from me appear only on Mastodon. I like the folks I have found on there.

Unlike my earlier forays where I interacted with primarily folks from the gay community, these days I’m interacting with folks from all persuasions all over the world and I am a better person for it. Since Mastodon tends to put the power of content in the hands of the user, instead of a sick algorithm determining things on behalf of a large for-profit corporation, I’m content with sticking with Mastodon.

I’m also giving PixelFed another run in lieu of posting to Instagram all the time. I’ve had a bit of time making PixelFed “sticky” (don’t read into that) for me, but I’m giving it another go.

But honestly, I’m most excited about long form blogs like this one and discovering them again like I did like 20 years ago.

It’s giving me the inspiration to actually write again!

No News.

As a creature of habit (it’s just the way my brain is wired), I have a specific routine when getting ready for the day. I take a shower, washing the bits in the same way, in the same order. After my shower is completed, I go to the sink, fill the basin with a bit of water, turn off the overhead fan that’s been roaring for the past 10 or so minutes and then I announce, “Siri, read me the news”. There’s an Apple HomePod mini in the room so it’s not weird. I then squirt some Barbasol into my hand from the shaken can, apply to my face, and listen to the news while going through my shaving routine. While Siri is reading the latest news update from NPR I finish shaving, splash some cheap aftershave on my face, apply deodorant and finish up my routine just as NPR is wrapping up their spiel with “This is NPR”. I do all the post shower stuff in around three minutes and 10 seconds.

About a month ago I decided I just couldn’t listen to a daily report of the news anymore. At the time the 2024 Presidential Election was still 11 months away but polls and opinion and drama, drAMA, DRAMA has already swung into high gear and frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn. Let’s talk about the election in September 2024, thank you. The bombings and attacks in the Middle East are heartbreaking and the ongoing war in Ukraine is ridiculous. Couple all this frivolity with the other news NPR was belching out and my mental health simply couldn’t take it anymore.

I tried swaying Siri to play me a tech update instead of a world news update but in typical Siri fashion that request threw her into a tailspin that involved flashing random lights, music playing in the bedroom, loud questions like, “Do you want to open the Podcasts app on your iPhone?” and such.

After messing around with tech that didn’t do what it promised it did for a day I decided to start shaving in silence, save for the swish of the water when I rinsed my razor between strokes and an occasional purr or meow from the feline one who constantly wants more kibble.

The transition to relative peace has done wonders for my mental health when it comes to starting the day.

It’s not that I no longer care about the world. I very much care about the world. I just don’t want to hear about these things to start my day.

I tried watching the evening news hoping for something akin to a Walter Cronkite type of experience, where news was conveyed without zinger noises telling me to wait until after the break or contrarian opinions being hoisted up like they’re valid or important (e.g. “the sky is blue, after the break we’ll learn why some people believe the sky is green”). There is no longer a Walter Cronkite experience available for the average person. Even the local news has anchorpeople making weird laughing sounds, framing stories in outrageous ways, and weather forecasts blown away out of proportion, all in an effort to keep you tuned in to watch ads so you’ll buy more things.

I’ll find a sane source of news. I have faith I’ll find something that isn’t so emotional in presentation.

Merry Christmas.

For all those that celebrate the holiday, may you enjoy a Merry Christmas.

It took me a little while to find the spirit this season. But after spending time with the family last night, opening a few gifts this morning, and just spending the time together, I have found my merriment. Calls back east to relatives near and far have also help me find the spirit.

A lovely day.


A picture of Dad and me, Christmas 2008. His yearly Christmas gift was a case of wine from the Finger Lakes. This picture makes me smile a lot. Great memories.

Day One.

As we all know, 2024 is just around the corner. A brand new year is on the horizon and people make lists and resolutions and turn a page in their personal journal. It’s a milestone on their journey.

I’ve wondered why the 1st of January is situated where it is. I mean, I know the history of the months and all that, but in reality, on the 1st of January the planet Earth is in a random spot in the universe with relatively little astronomical uniqueness to mark the date.

I’ve decided to start my personal New Year today, the first day after the Winter Solstice. Last night, for just a moment, the Northern Hemisphere was turned to its farther point from the sun, resulting in the shortest day of the year. The days are now getting longer.

To me, this seems like the perfect time to turn the page, flip the leaf, start anew. Maybe I’m suppose to flip the page and turn the leaf.

Happy New Year!

Club Life.

We are on our layover at IAH Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport. We are enroute from MCO Orlando to TUS Tucson International. Our layover is 4 1/2 hours.

One of our United cards give us a few United Club passes each year. We don’t often have a layover long enough to enjoy the amenities, but with this 4 1/2 hours we’re ready for a little bit of the Club Life.

I know of two United Clubs here at IAH; we are in the Terminal B location. I suspect the Terminal C location is a little nicer, but this isn’t bad.

I always feel compelled to have champagne or something similar when I’m in an airport club atmosphere. I think I’ve been watching too many Trek Trendy videos.

The Sunshine State.

It’s a very rainy day here in Central Florida. Today was a quiet day on the itinerary. We still went out and had some fun shopping at Disney Springs. We have dinner reservations later tonight.

In the meantime I went out for a walk.