Hell of a Guy
You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life - Albert Camus

Monday, January 31, 2011

Facebook and Stuff…


Here I sit on another Southwest airplane heading westerly.  This is a perfect day for flying.  There is a sea of white clouds below the plane, a ubiquitous blue sky above.  This flight is about half full, and I have the rear of the aircraft pretty much to myself.  My earphones are on my head and Peter Kater is serenading me with some beautiful music.  I had seriously contemplated a nap for this trip, but knowing I have not posted a single thought to this blog, I put off my comfort in lieu of your reading misfortune.

Today’s subject is Facebook, more to the point, my Facebook musings.  Facebook has been around for a while, though I have little idea how long.  Long enough though, I suppose, for someone to come up with a sellable movie script, which I might add I have not seen and probably will not see.  A story about a 26-year old billionaire is not very compelling for me; we simply have nothing in common.  A side note: I heard yesterday our wacky Mr. Charlie Sheen makes, gets this, $2 million per episode on his “Two and a Half Men” TV show.  That is two million dollars per show for a season of maybe 20 weeks worth of work half-hour shows.  I cannot help but think how many millions of people out there are living in this country that won’t make $1 million in a lifetime.

Anyway, back to the subject.  I created a Facebook page about a year ago and if I had to describe my joy with it, I could almost point to it as a mild addiction.  I love it.  I have had fun with it.  There are things you can communicate to people on Facebook you might have difficulty saying face to face, mano y mono.  But here, on Facebook, you can say it, but don’t unless you truly mean it.  Here, on Facebook, it is cast in stone, and once written, cannot be denied.

Via Facebook I have connected with extended family members, loads of friends and acquaintances, and others I had lost contact with as long as 48 years ago on the day I graduated from the Baltimore City College (my high school).  I found a couple of cousins I had not communicated with in any fashion for probably well over 50 years.  Don’t know about you, but I find this to be simply fascinating.  I have often thought of some of the guys and I hung around with in junior high school and high school.  I have wondered how many of my high school brothers died in Viet Nam.  There were only 162 members in The Class of February 1962, Facebook has allowed me to find a couple and it has been an absolute joy to see what they are up to these days.

Does Facebook have a downside?  You bet!  One has to be conscious of what they post and what information one puts out for public consumption.  I have heard horror stories about homes being robbed when people posted vacation stories and others about computer viruses being spread.  There was one I opened that read I could see who is looking at my profile.  Not!  It was a link to another sight having nothing to do with Facebook, and since I have seen it fifty times on other people’s walls, I know I was not the only one duped into checking it out, like it really matters who looks at my profile.

Bottom line is, I like Facebook.  Down the road, who knows, I may fall madly out of love with it, but for now I am destined to check Facebook several times each day, and spend at least a few minutes each day searching for people.  I want to “friend” everyone I have ever known.  I want that list to be in the thousands.  Wouldn’t that be a hoot?

And that is all I have to say about that… 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Winter of Discontent


I am so sick of winter and we still have two more months of it to go.  Now don’t get me wrong this state of mind does not in any way affect my outlook of The Best Day Ever.  The fact of the matter is, I just don’t like cold weather, and I am not exactly thrilled with the number of hours of darkness that usurps the daylight from the end of October to the end of March. 

My days generally start early, most days before the sun begins to peak above the eastern horizon.  This particular morning I was wide awake before 5am, and every cell in my body was screaming for the others to lay still and not move.  Well, almost every cell, that is.  Those making up my bladder screamed the opposite, and they won out about two minutes after five.  After a brief personal relief moment, I was more than awake with no hope of returning to my former state of repose. 

I made my way in the total darkness feeling for the path to my favorite chair in the family room, the turned on a lamp and promptly pushed the “on” button located in the upper right hand corner of the keyboard of this laptop where my index fingers are so nimbly typing this for you to enjoy.  It was pitch black outside, and cold, very cold.

Frigid, is the only apt way to describe the cold here in West Virginia today.  Nothing like the negative temperatures gripping upper Minnesota this morning, but it is a balmy 18 degrees, and that is about 60 degrees less than I prefer.  My ideal day is comprised of twelve or more hours of daylight and temps in the 80s.  A day when The Nancy and I can sit on our front porch, each of us situated in one of the rockers with a cold beer in hand watching the shadows lengthen until well after 8pm.  That, my friend, is perfection!

By my count there are still fifty-seven days until spring officially graces the calendar.  I will count them down from here dutifully checking them off on my internal calendar.  Actually, I began the countdown on December 22nd.  If I figured it correctly there was just 9 hours, 54 minutes between sunup and sundown on December 21st, and that is simply not enough for me, but rest assured I was awake for and enjoyed every minute of it.

If I could afford it I would purchase a small condo in Florida in about a minute, and spend my winters there after retirement; however, since I have all my money is presently tied up in debts, that just is not in the cards at this time, and I would have a hell of a time convincing The Nancy to ever leave The Mountain State.  So, I am forced (Hoist in my own petard, as it were.) to spend the rest of my winter days right here shivering and longing for the heat of summer and the longer days that come with it when I can sit outside with a beer in one hand and my wife in a rocker next to me.

And that is all I have to say about that… 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Little Rock or Bust…


Traveling today on one of those pesky business trips; this one to a so called “Managers’ Meeting” in Conway, Arkansas, just northwest of Little Rock.  I suppose one might surmise, this is not a trip of anticipated joy.  The longer I work, the more dislike (hate is such a powerful word) meetings of most any kind.  This one is far from voluntary, it is conscripted - whine, whine and more whining and so on and so on. 

I am flying, and I like to fly.  To me it is restful.  I got to thinking as I was about to board this Southwest flight that I am totally comfortable when I am flying.  I have no fear of it and I am not afraid of any part of it.  My confidence level in the abilities of the flight crew to get me where I am supposed go safely is very high, extremely high.

There have been times, many years ago, when I was perhaps a tad spooked on a flight.  The first was on – this will immediately give away the age of this incident to some old-timers – an Eastern Airlines flight from Atlanta to Little Rock.  As we reached our cruising altitude and had just reclined our seats to reach a maximum comfort level, there was a very loud hissing sound followed by the plane making a very steep dive toward the rapidly approaching earth below.  It seemed to last for hours, but was in fact only about a minute tops.  With the majority of the very anxious passengers sensing this was not standard operating procedure, while attempting to not look like they suffered from a pre-mature sphincter opening, the pilot came on over the PA system to explain the plane had lost cabin pressure, hence the sudden loss of altitude from 26,000 feet to just under 12,000, and would be returning to Atlanta for repairs.  There was a noticeable sigh of relief as we realized we were not going to die that day, but just scared shitless, so to speak.

The other incident took place in 1989.  I was in a small plane, a two-seater Cessna 152.  The seat beside me was vacant.  I was the pilot.

I was performing a student flight maneuver referred to in flying jargon as “Touch and Goes.”  In this, you take off and basically fly around the airport in a pattern from one end of the runway to the other, make like you are going to land, but just as you hit the runway, simultaneously hit the throttle, power up and take off again. I think that day I probably did twenty or so of these touch and goes and was in the process of making my final landing.  Just about two or three seconds before I touched down a strong gust of wind crossed the runway from the west. It caused the tail end of the plane to swing around, and suddenly I was looking at a dirt field rather than the runway.  The plane hit the ground and bounced, but it hit on asphalt and not dirt, and, praise the Lord, righted itself.  I hit the brakes and pushed as hard as I could, my only thought was to get out of that plane and never set foot in it again.  I didn’t do it.

Though my confidence in the abilities of the pilot on that particular day was irrevocably damaged, I turned off the active runway, continued to the taxiway and approached the takeoff area one more time.  I just knew, had I not, I would have never taken another lesson.  Nonetheless, I never took another lesson.  Instead, I did what I thought to be the most prudent; I left the flying to the professionals and became just another career passenger, aka “frequent flyer point earner.”.

As we begin our decent today through a thick layer of clouds, and not really able to see anything out the windows, even the ends of the wings, I am confident the lady I saw with the captain’s epaulets is more than qualified to get this tin can on the ground in one piece.  So I am going to turn this blasted contraption off, close my eyes and enjoy the rest of this flight all the way to the ground, whatever that might mean.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Sunday, January 09, 2011

S-N-O-W, Something I Detest…


We got about and inch and a half of snow last night here in Beautiful Downtown Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, population 711, and I have to wonder, since I am way too lazy to go back and look, if I have I ever written about exactly how much I detest snow?  I am not sure, so just in case, please, allow me enlighten you?

I do no know when or where this disdain began, but it sure as hell is there and has been for as long as I can remember.  As I approach the 28th anniversary of the 39th birthday of this Hell of a Guy, finally having to admit openly that mine was not the Immaculate Conception as I have thought for a very long time; I have to also admit my memory ain’t what it used to be.  A lot of what is below is either a true memory or a manufactured one, maybe just conjecture.

As a young boy I loved snow.  I loved to play in it.  I went sledding down the hill on Valley View Ave as other kids took turns to warn of cars coming down intersecting streets, and did it over and over.  I would roll around in the snow until I noticed I was very wet and very cold, and even then I only went home when my lips turned blue. I joined in the building of snowmen with my buds, and we would have snowball battles up until someone began to cry.  I especially liked those days when the snow accumulation was great enough to cause school to be closed.  And it might just be the closing of schools that I enjoyed more than the white stuff.

I think my mother dressed me as warmly as she could, layering my clothing and allowing me just enough movement without totally reducing my joints the ability to flex, and volunteered me to the elements so she could get some peace and quiet as she watched “A Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns.”  Perhaps it is all her fault I hate this white crap so much?  I do blame her for my neurosis.  I obviously cannot accept any personal responsibility for being so screwed up and blaming her is easy since she is no longer here to slap me.

I think my real disgust for snow really took hold when I lived in Upstate New York back in my Air Force days.  I lived in a part of New York where it was rumored to have just two seasons – winter and July.  My time at Griffiss Air Force Base included four winters, and, man, I learned to very much love and savor the month of July.  Typically, snow began to fall in mid-late October and stayed, sort of like “Hell Freezing Over,” and stayed and stayed.  It was winters filled with relentless snow and bitter cold.  I remember one year we got ten inches of snow in early May.  While living in a barrack in early 1964 I actually kept sodas, milk, luncheon meats and mayonnaise in the snow that accumulated outside the window of my shared room. It was like a mini-fridge there, so why not make use of it.  At the time I was part of the base Military Police continent - hated it!  My memory of standing in the middle of an intersection directing traffic with snow piled higher than my head on the sides of the roads and the temperature so frigging low my toes and fingers ached from the cold is still so very vivid.  By the way, I also detest directing traffic, too. 

In the years since I was discharged from the Air Force my dislike for snow has only grown exponentially more negative.  Last year when we had over three feet of it on the ground in February and The Nancy and I were stranded in our house for six days with an ever diminishing beer inventory, I spent many hours contemplating a move to Florida or some locale where the chance of snow is nearly nil or less.  Heat I can take.  Cold I can take, albeit in small doses.  But snow drives me nuts, up a wall over the hill.  Note to my daughter and my niece, both who love snow, want it to snow often and heavily, long for it and voice this on Facebook, hear me now?  I hate snow, I detest snow, and I never want to see it again.

Perhaps one day I will convince The Nancy that moving into a condo near the beach in sunny, warm Florida, maybe one that is mortgage free, maybe one near a micro-brewery, is a brilliant idea.  Now that really sounds good to me, but then, everyone knows I am a dreamer.  Hmmm!!!

And that is all I have to say about that…