hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley

It comes in many forms

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Innumerable viewing choices evolve unhappiness quotient

Things are changing around here.

I won’t be getting a Sunday paper anymore.

Newspaper subscription price hikes are just a way for publishers to try and keep something around that is no longer relevant nor popular among the masses.

I remember when I read three newspapers every day growing up in New York; that was the way we got our daily news.

Sure, we watched the news on TV, but aside from some morning shows that sprinkled in news stories when they had to, most of our TV news was viewed in the evenings.

People who worked relied on newspapers to know what was going on and then watched the TV news after they were home at the end of the day.

Radio is another communication medium that is mostly surviving with a dwindling, older demographic.

Entertainment on demand, as the news and most things we demand, happens when we want it to.

We are bombarded with stories at any given time we choose to stream or watch them online.

People are cutting the cord in record numbers and for good reason–cable, satellite and DSL companies are charging too much for their programming.

If you have an Internet connection and a device that can utilize it, you don’t need DirecTV unless you want their exclusive and expensive NFL Sunday Ticket.

Cord cutters who are not going back to cable of any kind any time soon understand that when they committed to leaving the likes of big TV service providers, they did so with the realization they would lack in some of the programming they were paying hundreds of dollars a month for previously.

We’re a nation of watchers and so, to me, like bottled water, it was only a matter of time before we stopped caring about the price only to make it the reason for our abandoning it.

I remember when watching TV was free.

It was a beautiful concept. You saved your hard-earned cash to purchase a television set. And that was it. There was nothing else you had to pay for other than monthly electricity bills the power company sent you.

I know that’s hard to believe for some of the youngsters. But believe you, me, it was truth!

I’ve seen a lot. But people older than me have seen even more.

Speaking of more, I believe that is the issue at the crux of all issues. We’ve been told for a long time now that more is better. Less is not so good.

We always crave more, more, more.

Would you be able to go back to only 30 or 40 channels of TV and be happy?

You’ve got thousands now and the last time I checked by taking informal surveys of people I know, no one is really overall satisfied with their paid television entertainment choices.

I suppose it comes down to perspective.

I always urge young people to travel as often as they can. I suggest it’s good to avoid the touristy places and find destinations that take you completely out of everything that it is you know and think you love.

Having a chance to see how those less fortunate than you are living, is always a humbling experience. You can’t help but appreciate what you have more than ever if you get to experience, or at least see how people who are living day-to-day think about what it is to have a good day.

I made time to read three newspapers as a boy and it made me feel informed about important matters and current events happening around me and throughout the world. Celebrities were confined to the smallish entertainment section and did not comprise the bulk of hard news sections like they do today.

Finding better ways of becoming informed is never a bad thing. And so that’s why it makes sense to abandon an expensive newspaper subscription–especially when the actual size (read thickness) of the paper resembles dental floss–hardly a value or a reason to support “journalism.”

So, watch what you want. More people like to watch video than read. I get it. Moving pictures. They’re an escape.

Except when it’s the news.

We don’t want to watch that.

Saving ol’ Cracky: Why it’s best to perish the thought

I have a chair mat void in my life and it’s getting to me.

The last one I bought was so long ago that I can’t remember any of the details surrounding the purchase.

Oh, I think I may have bought it in an office supply place, but I’m really not sure.

It survived a move across the country and after six years here and at least half that many in the place I lived previously, I came to take its durability for granted.

Recently the mat began developing cracks and small chunks have come apart from it.

The wheels of my office chair began hitting and sinking into the ruts that were the holes of exposed carpet segments under the mat. I periodically had to stop my chair rolling around and pick it up out of the ruts in order to secure spots on the now dwindling good surface areas of the mat.

I started thinking I could use the mat as a metaphor for something. It was once brand new with no signs of ever failing. But fail it did, yet not before delivering a good many years of faithful service.

If I lived alone I probably would have utilized some duct tape at the first signs of cracking. My goal would have been to tape the cracks before they became full-blown pot holes so as to make the mat last a bit longer.

But when your living arrangement is other than just being with yourself, aesthetics and the sensibilities of others must be considered. So, duct tape use, in my case, is out of the question.

By now it dawned on me I would have to break down and see about getting a new chair mat. Probably the last straw was stepping on and cutting my foot slightly where a jagged little pill of a rut clipped me in motivation.

Since the mat had presently crossed over into full-blown safety violation it was now time to hop on Amazon and peruse the myriad of chair mat possibilities that have burst on the scene since my last one.

I try not to read too many reviews but I always end up reading too many reviews. I get exhausted reading reviews as if you practice over-reading reviews you will come away with a mind so fogged as to not be in your right mind to make a coherent purchasing selection.

Too many mats

What I was not prepared for was the sheer quantity of mat choices available–and all with their sundry pros and cons.

This one cracks, so does this one, this one didn’t crack, but it split and ended up completely separating from the mat. You get the picture.

What’s a person to do?

This is precisely the reason Amazon introduced 1-click ordering.

It’s like throwing darts on a world map to decide a vacation destination. You click the 1-click and then bam! You’re done and much like a dart that lands on Detroit in the dart vacay destination game, you’re well on your way to quality rolling time that’s well spent–provided it’s everything ol’ cracky was before it became, well, ol’ cracky.

It’s arriving soon, but not before this one last blog post featuring a bumpy ride to this point.

I’ll keep you posted as time permits.

Ubuntu Mate on prehistoric PCs is a big deal

Ubuntu Mate 18.04 LTS (long-term support) has been out since April, but I just did the update from 16.04 to it and I must say, I’ve never been happier about an OS that runs on a glorified jump drive.

It’s loaded on an ancient IDE hard disk encased in a Rosewill external USB data storage enclosure.

Previously, that now going on 15-year-old hard disk was in an AMD 64 eMachines tower running Ubuntu Mate 15.10. I subsequently updated Mate to 16.04 LTS before the logic board in the tower died shortly thereafter.

When gutting the machine for parts, I transferred the hard disk to the Rosewill enclosure. I had an HP Compaq dc7700 with a SATA drive, a 1.86 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel processor and 4GB of memory. I planned on experimenting with seeing if I could run the Ubuntu Mate OS externally from the Rosewill enclosure.

Attaching the Rosewill drive to an available USB port on the HP, I rebooted–not expecting much, especially since Ubuntu had been formatted on an AMD machine and not an Intel (which the HP was).

Magic!

The PC booted up to the familiar Ubuntu Mate desktop I had come to know and love when the drive resided in the old eMachines tower.

I thought this nothing short of a miracle as in the old days it could be a challenge to get a Linux distribution to successfully boot and install–let alone trying to configure an external drive to work with the OS loaded on it.

Today, there are no such reservations regarding ease of use for Linux compared to the way it once may have been.

Why Linux is the OS that nobody uses but everybody should

Taking that external hard disk load of Ubuntu Mate from 16.04 to 18.04 took about two hours and I am using Mate 18.04 to write this blog post.

Most people believe Linux is for geeks, but it’s evolved to the point where the user experience is so good that consumers should seriously be considering it in place of macOS and Windows 10.

The main reason I suggest this is LTS: Long Term Support. That is something you cannot get from either Apple or Microsoft regarding their desktop operating systems.

Well, Microsoft does a much better job than Apple does supporting old(er) machines as Windows 10 runs admirably on many PCs that originally sported Windows XP like the eMachines AMD 64 tower and HP Compaq did.

I did have Windows 10 running on a second internal drive in the eMachines AMD tower, but after the logic board failed, the installation was no longer feasible. Still, and as I indicated above, I give Microsoft way more credit than Apple for OS longevity on their hardware.

To be clear, if you purchase a new Mac today, you can expect to run Apple’s latest OS on it for 5-7 years–then you’re done. The technical term for placing an expiration date on a Mac for its ability to run Apple’s latest operating system is planned obsolescence.

Apple purposely does not design their desktop computers to run the latest OS indefinitely. First of all, it’s difficult and expensive to achieve. Secondly, it makes absolutely no business sense whatsoever to do so. Apple needs you to buy a new Mac every five to seven years or sooner–I say sooner, because while you can update the OS a certain number of times before it no longer is able to run the latest OS from Apple, each subsequent OS update beyond the OS it came with originally runs slower and slower as it requires more resources to run.

So, even though Apple could increase the amount of time before Macs no longer run its latest OS, they have no financial incentive to do so.

Although Linux is largely free for consumer use, I encourage everyone who uses a variant to support developers so they can continue providing the features and services inherent in these amazing OS distributions.

Linux also very importantly affords each of us the opportunity to continue using older hardware in a desktop environment that incorporates modern standards, up-to-date software and security that safely allows us to perform our day-to-day work.

Nevermind Apple, Facebook has lost its mojo

It’s fashionable for tech journalists to periodically write about Apple losing its mojo.

It can create a spike of views and readers.

But it also is mostly fake news.

Apple’s approach to negative news, and would-be news reports of all kinds is to simply have no comment (per its standard operating procedure). Apple’s silence towards the media and its speculation over their product lineups always bests any official news releases they could issue rebutting groundless criticism.

To his credit, CEO Tim Cook has spoken out on the issues of privacy and confidentiality–but has left the missives directed at Apple’s supposed decline to roost in silence.

After a period of no longer than 15 minutes, the less than glowing speculation about Apple is soon forgotten–that is, until the next round of no-story blog posts are issued forecasting Apple’s ensuing fall from grace.

In the case of Facebook, it truly is a completely different beast, especially considering its current state as it relates to the media coverage it is receiving.

People are leaving Facebook in droves. And it began before the social media giant’s recent issues over privacy.

Users that aren’t completely leaving Facebook have drastically cut back on their use and sharing practices–myself included.

In my case, spending less time on Facebook just made more sense than to re-commit to largely wasting daily chunks of time best put to use elsewhere.

I first removed the Facebook app from my phone.

If you are interested in weaning yourself off Facebook, or cutting down on your use gradually, I’d encourage you to first eliminate all traces of it on your phone.

Each day, we use our phones and the apps on them. If you take Facebook off your phone, then you have to use another device to access it–making it more challenging to use Facebook.

At its inception, Facebook urged its members to share, share and share some more.

That unofficial motto has led to its current image identity crisis.

If you want people to become attention harlots, then yes, you need to keep letting them know they should keep up their prolific (read daily) sharing practices.

I knew from day one if I was sharing stuff on Facebook, then it would be really dopey of me to expect that my information would not be at least warehoused like a good data hoard for use at a future date.

Facebook disconnect sadness

This is a self-penned phenomena I experienced when I did log in to Facebook by computer once I removed the app from my phone.

Specifically, I was regretting not being timely with my birthday wishes for my Facebook friends.

For me, Facebook had been reduced to a place I found useful for wishing someone happy birthday.

After further review, I chalked up this regret as nothing more than an unintentional strategy on Facebook’s part to tug at the emotional strings of those of us who have found our returns to everyday life pre-Facebook, quite satisfying.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s assurances of his company’s taking measures to properly safekeep personal information notwithstanding, a lot of users reducing time spent on the social media giant, if not completely moving away from it altogether, simply don’t care any longer; the trust factor has been breached (along with some of our personal data).

Another dagger in the heart for bloggers who auto-blast their posts to their Facebook profiles (not Facebook pages), is the recent announcement by WordPress that effective August 1, 2018, third-party tools can no longer share posts automatically to Facebook Profiles. This impacts my posts as if I want to continue posting blog posts to my Facebook profile, I will have to do so manually.

I get that it’s part of Facebook’s re-dedication to privacy.

But Facebook was never meant to be private.

For sharing has never been confused as a practice consistent with maintaining privacy.

What do you attract?

As we go through life sometimes we are told, “You get out of life what you put into it.”

I hear that, but it doesn’t always hold true. Actually it hardly ever holds true.

Let’s face it.

I’ve lived long enough to understand that you can be a hard worker.

You can be persistent.

You can be incredibly talented beyond compare.

But, still you struggle and find it difficult, challenging to get anywhere.

Because there is no book on life that demonstrably teaches success without failure in foolproof fashion, there is another school of thought that adheres to a knockoff of the sentiment, “Nobody ever has it figured out.”

I suppose no one does.

That doesn’t prevent the multitudes who profess to having figured it out from trying to sell their system for success to you–because, they insist, their system actually works!

Get rich quick schemes have been around since the dawn of mankind.

They proliferate today. And they fleece millions out of hard-earned money.

If nobody ever has it figured out, then we all share in common the toils of our every day lives. We all continually attempt to figure out how best to achieve a life well lived–some more stridently than others.

I would caution anyone who believes certain icons of the business world at one point in their careers had it all figured out, to dig deeper and below the surface of what you think you know about these individuals.

The biggest aid or ingredient, if you will, to anyone’s makeup who becomes successful and earns big money, is luck.

Luck is what makes the difference between someone who gets the girl or the big client and someone who does not.

Luck, like hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley comes in many forms.

Sometimes luck comes in the form of timing.

You might have the greatest idea or invention in the history of the world. But if you are born too late or fail to meet the right investment people to stake you when starting out, your idea will never come to fruition before you all too soon run out of time and money.

Ralph Kramden was an example of someone who had many ideas for success and never even saw one of them realized.

In Ralph’s case, his timing was either poor or nonexistent. Or, he had bad luck during the idea’s implementation, which forced him to quit entirely and prematurely.

Ralph was the ultimate starter of projects who never finished a one.

He also wasn’t the most talented guy.

While he did work hard at driving a bus, and his wife Alice always stood by him, even though that would be enough for most men, Ralph kept working at trying to figure out how life could be better for he and Alice; he never accepted his lot no matter how good an individual day he might have had.

So, where does the motivation to get out of bed and go through the grind of another day come from?

Blind faith

I’m not talking about religious faith. I’m talking about faith in yourself, your ability and your own life’s outcome.

Even after a string of abysmal days you should not get discouraged.

Since you’re figuring things out as you go just like everyone else, the probability for at least many things turning out alright for you is higher than not.

People like to hear that everything will be OK.

It used to tick me off to hear that when I was younger. My inner Bob would scream, “No one knows that everything will be alright. It’s just something people say when they don’t know how to make things OK, but they are hopeful they will be.”

And that was as close to figuring out this crazy thing we call life as I ever came.

Because I’ve found success can be overrated–especially by other people’s definition of the words, what is even better than perceived financial or business success is the feeling that everything is or will be OK–one way or the other.

It gives me a peaceful, easy feeling to know that while most of us may fail more often than we care to admit, our collective shortcomings as we go through this world are more easily endured together.

That’s why I can tell you unequivocally that everything is going to be alright.

Like to save money, upgrade when YOU want to? Try Linux

Using Linux is like doing push-ups.

No one wants to do either and this is something that should change.

In the case of push-ups, if you do them regularly you can avoid having a pirate’s dream–aka a sunken chest.

In the case of Linux, if you use it or at least try using it, you will discover the whole new world existing outside of Microsoft and Apple’s walled gardens.

I’ve been using various flavors of Linux for several years.

For the longest time, I’ve never considered it ready for general consumer use but what I did with it on a 2003 Pentium 4 PC has me singing its praises from the roof top. Specifically…

LINUX IS NOT HARD TO USE!

I hesitate to say “easy” to use, as while it may take some persistence, if you are willing to take the plunge, you can bring new life to old PCs (i.e. you can use up-to-date browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Opera, etc. on the web).

Sound good?

It should.

LINUX RUNS ON OLD PC’s!!

My main daily driver is a USB external drive running a generic Ubuntu Mate installation; I’ve used it on both Intel and AMD processor boxes and it works great.

The 2003 Pentium 4 HP rp5000 POS (Point-Of-Sale) PC with 1 GB of memory that I upgraded to Linux Mint 19 is now nothing short of sublime.

It was a glorified cash register at the time of its release back in ’03 boasting 256 MB of memory and running Microsoft’s then ubiquitous Windows XP.

Now, and after a little bit of time, energy and persistence, it capably runs the just-released and latest version of Linux Mint (19 “Tara”) with all the goodness.

Readers need to understand this machine wasn’t a speed demon to begin with and XP, while still being used across the world, is a nasty nest of security violations waiting to hatch on its unsuspecting users.

The rp5000 presently suffers no such issues. It’s running the latest Linux Mint distribution and features up-to-date and secure browsers.

Did I mention this machine is 15 years old?

This is one of the dirty little secrets of Linux; it can be used on machines considered obsolete and not supported by virtue of their age by their original manufacturers.

Microsoft is not so bad. That’s because Windows 10 can run on really old boxes, too, but it costs money and it’s not always a slam dunk installation, either.

Linux, on the other hand, and while you can make donations to the authors of the flavors you support, is either available for a modest download fee or is completely free of charge (with donations optional where appropriate and applicable).

I would suggest supporting Linux developers with your donations where you can.

Instead of using an old PC as a door stop, why not put it to use again. Or even better yet, keep it out of the landfill. I know we’re supposed to recycle where we can but I bet you dollars to donuts too many PCs still make their way to the dump.

Not having to pay for a new PC or Mac (for that matter, and yes, with some TLC, effort and the appropriate distribution, Linux runs on Macs!) is a big deal.

I hesitate to call Macs junk but they are most definitely overpriced for the power, performance and durability you receive in return.

PC’s need updated virus and malware protection and while you can try getting by with only Microsoft’s built-in Windows Defender solution, the chance still exists for chaos should you click on the wrong link and Defender does not come to your rescue leaving you at risk for a nasty infection and a hefty repair bill from your technician.

Linux doesn’t have iTunes, but it has a reasonable facsimile thereof. In fact, unless you’re a professional designer and/or need certain PC-only commercial application(s), there is a substitute you can find in the Linux world that does the job quite nicely.

This article isn’t about all the programs that can be used in place of all the programs you use on a PC or a Mac.

It’s about doing something for yourself that puts you back in control over how you use a computer.

Apple tends to cut off latest OS support for its hardware at 5 to 7 years max.

Microsoft is better, but there are too many costs with both hardware and software considerations.

So, do yourself some favors.

Start doing push-ups regularly.

And talk to your friendly Linux-knowledgeable guy or gal to see about getting you behind the wheel of a nice new operating system inside a beloved and vintage computer.

Your chest will thank you and so will your wallet.

That sounds like a recipe for serenity if you ask me.

Restful Smile more than a good band name

You know you’re doing vacation right when you find yourself sleeping in later and later until finally on your last day of leisure you’ve slept in at least a couple of hours past your typical pre-vacation waking time.

If you’re a morning person I get it; you need to be buzzing and flying around during the early morning hours. I understand this is not optional but it doesn’t make it any less annoying.

But, if your leanings are more nocturnal, and you force yourself to start work mornings early on, then, like me, you probably function at a sleep deficit a lot of the time.

Like most of us, I understand not getting enough rest is not healthy.

So, while I like to do stuff on vacation, if I’m not feeling restored, recharged, rested and regrouped prior to returning to the keyboard, my brain is telling me to take another vacation. And in order to feel good, I need rest.

I found myself taking afternoon naps while on vacation. This is not something I can do while writing, but if I could, I’m sure I’d feel less drained upon completing a piece.

Finishing a post is the payoff for mangling and entangling your way through it.

Once someone didn’t tell me that if I wasn’t completely exhausted at the end of writing a column, I wasn’t doing it correctly. Read this last sentence again if you need to.

To the contrary, I’d like to be able to have enough left in the tank to go out and mow the lawn in 95 degree temperatures (I don’t need to give you a heat index, as I abhor them).

On this most recent vacation I experienced three different time zones in 10 days. I also exercised, ran, hiked and walked a lot.

The beauty of all this activity is that I increasingly embarked on it after the sun had already risen.

I think all this rest and conditioning actually served me well at a Red Rocks concert, too. A lot of my peer group was sitting down. We sat maybe a few times for a total of about 10 minutes while enjoying David Crosby and Friends and the Avett Brothers.

The biggest lesson I learned on this vacation was the importance of rest.

For me, it’s not a vacation if there isn’t lots of it.

Perhaps I’m slowing down, but I prefer to think of it as maximizing what I have left in the tank of Life.

How you feel is sometimes relative to your age.

Most times, however, I believe age can be negated to the point of it being a non-factor when enjoying recreational activities.

But, you have to get your rest and I know it now more than ever.

In order to get your rest without feeling bad over being called old, you need a certain level of self-confidence.

You might also need to disregard all the young people who think you’re an old person who needs lots of naps.

You also may need to disregard anyone who is uncomfortable with recognizing the importance of rest and napping.

Most importantly, you neither have to be old or young to disregard either of these.

Generally speaking, if you’re comfortable in your own skin, you don’t need to have thick skin.

This is because once you are, you tend not to think about what the intentionally sleep-deprived person sitting next to you on the bus with the miserable expression on their face thinks.

Just turn your head toward them, smile, nod empathetically and subsequently return your gaze to the wide blue yonder.

Travel with a healthy dose of perspective

San Diego was new to me.

When I was in the Navy they said 17% of that branch of service was stationed there. I was told that’s about a good figure for today, too.

I appreciated the zoo, as bittersweet of an experience that is considering the animals are no longer in the wild in favor of humans developing their natural habitats for their own use.

I also liked walking around Seaport Village.

La Jolla was very nice and the Pacific was blue and breathtaking from the heights above.

There were no shortage of good eateries in San Diego. I may have one time eaten to live. But now I most certainly live to eat. Life is too short and good food must be savored and enjoyed.

Old Town San Diego was amazing. Hand made tortillas simply cannot be beat. And tequila? Oh yeah, there was some of that, too.

Lunch near the Coronado Hotel with ocean views to soothe us was quite nice.

When we left for the ride to the airport, we agreed five days was just the right amount of time to enjoy some of what the city has to offer. It also left open the possibilities for a return to visit those places left unfettered this trip.

Boulder

The flight to Denver was delayed a little over an hour. We waited near the gate, did some people watching and marveled there were two bars in front of a couple of the gates–how convenient, we thought!

Having lived in and near Boulder for many years, the first thing I noticed was just how much more dense and developed it has become.

For me, North Boulder was unincorporated when I got there back near the end of 1983.

It was pretty rural and not that much traffic to speak of. In fact, horses were still being ridden down Lee Hill Drive and into the motel apartments’ parking area that boasted the Silver Dollar Lounge featuring “ancing and Cocktails” on the neon marquis sign with the malfunctioning light bulb behind the letter “D”.

When you come down Broadway now and enter the North Boulder area, “NOBO” signs greet you.

I understand it’s progress of sorts but it’s also a reminder that time truly does not wait for any person.

I came across one bedroom, one bath apartments off Violet Avenue going for $1,750+/mo.

I think I was paying $275/month at the Silver Dollar and I could walk to the Lounge to get a bite and a beverage and listen to bands on the weekend with no cover charge.

One thing that is the same is the hiking opportunities. It’s still very nice in Boulder for that, provided you do it during the week and in the morning; trails still fill up on the weekends and if you like to hike in a crowd, then Saturdays and Sundays will most definitely be to your liking.

All the development takes away from the Boulder that I knew. The mountains are still here, but everything else that’s taken up the surrounding real estate can also be found in other cities and towns across the country.

It’s a different world now and I get that.

It’s neither bad or good, I guess.

It’s just that if you visit a new place you have no prior perspective on what the town is like.

Not having known what something was like before you had a chance to visit is one of the reasons we try to choose new travel destinations.

Boulder will always have its mountain charms.

And I’m sure I will return again some day.

But, for me, it’s just not the same. And it feels crowded.

Most everyone I knew is gone.

And something called NOBO is really not a place I would have lived in very long if I would have come across this trendy characterization back in the day.

Nothing ever stays the same for very long.

I want to visit Bisbee, AZ some day. That was the town I was headed for when I stopped in Boulder all those years ago. And I never made it to Bisbee.

What if, right?

Painfully and rarely

The best part of flying is overhearing some great comments.

That is, if your hearing permits it.

I don’t enjoy air travel as much as I used to.

Wow.

That’s an understatement.

I don’t enjoy air travel period.

Ever since seating design encroached on every bit of available space between passengers, I have been disgusted with the airline industry.

It doesn’t make it any easier to enjoy traveling when there are really only four major airlines servicing the country, either.

Lack of competition is never a good thing. That’s why mergers and acquisitions can be spun by CEO’s any which way upside down, but the fact remains the resulting lack of competition leaves less for consumers to choose from–regardless of industry.

When you have less to choose from, the overall experience is almost surely to end up being less pleasant.

In the case of the airline passenger, the seating arrangement is best for short people.

You have to pay extra for leg room.

Really?

Thank lack of competition.

You want something besides sugar-coated or salty peanuts for your free snack?

Thank lack of competition.

You want to not have to squeeze yourself horizontally, pulling your shoulders down and in while you fly in the sky?

Thank lack of competition.

When United, American, Southwest and Delta vanquished the competition, they sold this consolidation on the premise it would mean better service and a better experience for passengers.

I call BS.

Not to say it wasn’t an effective argument when they were trying to close their respective conglomeration mergers and acquisitions.

I remember when Randy Newman had a hit with Short People.

I recall some people being offended.

Now, however, short people are having the last word when it comes to air travel.

They are, or must be, who the engineers design the planes’ interiors for.

I know that when I travel, less than tall people will push their seats all the way back.

Tall people can’t do anything about that; they have to grin and bear it.

Except for me, there is no grinning.

It just makes me not like Randy Newman the artist. It’s not like I was a fan in the first place, but Short People really has come back to bite tall people.

You knew short people would have their comeuppance.

Since we are basically sitting on top of each other when we fly these days, the experience tends to lend itself to conversations at high decibel.

The airlines didn’t really consider any of this nor should they have; we have ear buds we can use to play something so it drowns conversation out we’d rather not be part of.

But, people make friends sometimes as a result of this cramped seating arrangement.

I thought about exchanging business cards one time recently when flying, but I couldn’t reach to my back pocket to get one. So, I said, I didn’t think I had any.

That wasn’t exactly a lie, either, because I didn’t have any business cards (that I could get to).

The best recently overheard comment was when passengers were boarding a plane to Denver that I was on. Most everyone was seated and the last passengers were making their way towards their seats.

The chatter had already started and I overheard two passengers who were becoming fast friends say they did not know how tall people were able to fly anymore.

At about this time, a gentleman that had to be at least 6’5″ tall was making his way carefully up the aisle.

He turned and said to the two passengers in conversation, “painfully and rarely” before moving up the aisle and shoe-horning himself into his seat.

On or off the grid, the ostracized hug and the unexplainable path to now

I remember how scatologically incensed I was when I saw how many hits the words digital rectal thermometer had on amazon.com.

My mind was racing with the realization that digital had finally achieved on- and off-the-grid association and fame.

Sometimes when writing online you never know what you’re going to lead with. Often you write and re-write your lead a gazillion times. Sometimes you edit it out entirely and just begin vomiting. No matter whether you disregard the first two sentences of this piece or not, I’ve chosen to leave them in.

For somehow and some way, this will all make just a little bit of sense before the last word of the missive is absorbed by the vast majority of those not looking for meaning to their existence.

If I were truly off the grid I would use a typewriter instead of a word processor, app or some other contraption that involves software born of the digital world.

Being off the grid is admirable, yet also largely unobtainable.

Many of us have established it as a preferred way of life with respect to living healthily.

My dog is off the grid.

Always has been.

And speaking of always, he has been a constant source of inspiration as to how to live.

Currently he is scratching his rear end. In his case, gnawing is a better word than scratching.

But, I get it. It itches. So you scratch it.

How many of us want to scratch our rear ends but can’t or won’t? And it’s not because we live in a digital world. It’s because of who is around at the time, that we don’t just naturally rear back and gnaw on it like man’s best friend does. Well, maybe we wouldn’t be gnawing, but we would reach it to scratch with our hands.

The dog doesn’t care who is around to watch but we do. The gnawing of the dog’s own butt is an example of his version of living off the grid.

For humans, the presence of mixed company is especially treacherous when considering such behavior. Accordingly, it is the prime reason we choose to wait for an opportunity where less scrutiny from others is prevalent.

This human behavior of doing unsavory things out of the public eye predates the digital world of course. But, depending on when manners actually became a thing, we may have been scratching our rear ends and elsewhere no matter who was around. To me, that is evidence of the beauty of life off the grid.

Like a lot of people say about poor behavior today…if you are offended, don’t look.

But we can’t help it. It’s not a matter of our physically looking at the butt scratching of others. It’s that when we’re online, we’re bombarded with digital images and streaming media. It is often upon us before we are able to look away. And this is what I like to call proof positive of life on the grid.

I’m lucky enough to have experienced an upbringing completely off the grid. Unless you consider the general, electric grid that supported such devices as blenders and television sets a grid. It may be technically a grid, but it most certainly does not resemble the digital one of today.

Getting a like is a byproduct of the digital world.

In the off the grid world I grew up in, you could like something or some one could like you, but you couldn’t actually get a like, unless, of course you considered something or someone liking you as receiving, or getting, a like. We, of course, considered no such thing.

Getting a like can cause many of us to experience happy thoughts and feelings. I think somewhere and by some body or entity, corporation or university, it’s been proven via study that someone liking a photo or social media status update can cause the body to emit feel-good hormones–similar to those that flow upon receiving a hug from someone whom you like.

The only thing more complicated than the whole like phenomenon is the physical act of the hug itself.

If new Seinfeld episodes were still being made I would envision Jerry riffing on hugs.

“Do we just go up and hug someone anymore?”

“Or must we pause before following through on the hug until the person intended to be on the receiving end has given some signal they are receptive to the hug?”

“Can hugs ever be an innocuous display of comfort ever again?”

“Will the hug ever come back in style?”

I think not. Especially, if we’re on the grid.

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