Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Story of Kenneth Gaylord as Experienced by the Author

In the past year a lot has happened in my life, some good, some bad and other things are neither, just an experience. I have fallen in love again (good), found out that the relationship was not quite what I though that it was (bad) and gone on a date with someone that I didn’t really know (neutral). I had some good success at work (good), a resounding failure at work (bad), and made to the end of the golf season intact (neutral). I reconnected with some old friends (good), failed to get back together with others (bad).

My point is that good and bad things happen to every person in this world. If only good things happened to people then life would be very boring and we would never have the opportunity to grow stronger. Going forward I would like to devote this space to sharing some of my life’s experiences with people, or at least the three people that will never read this blog. Not every post will be as well though out as this one (that was a taste of sarcasm), but I pledge to everyone, mostly to myself that I will not neglect this space any longer.

I hope to write in this space about the things that are happening to me. I want to record my life for posterity sake, so that one day my future relatives will have some insight about what it is like to live in the year 2018 and beyond in Turin, NY or wherever it happens that I am living at the time. I want people, as boring as it sounds, to have an idea of what it is to be me. Maybe someone will read what I have written in these posts and take solace in the fact that they are not alone in what they are experiencing, or that they will be excited that other people experience some of the same joys that they do. Maybe it will become my “one great novel”, The Story of Kenneth Gaylord as Experienced By The Author.

Some of you may be saying: Why not just use Facebook? The short answer is that I have grown to hate Facebook. I joined Facebook in 2008, as near as I can tell. That’s over 10 years ago. Since then Facebook has gone through some serious changes as welll. It went from a place for friends to keep in touch and share experiences to a place where people share their opinions unfiltered and unrestrained and without regard for the feelings of others. It has become a place where, unfortuanately, people form opinions through news that may or may not be accurate. It has become a place where people don’t share experiences as much as they do memes. It has become less personal and more devisive. In short it has become a place that I don’t want to be.

With that I am going to post the things that I would normally post on Facebook here. You may ask: Why don’t you just use Facebook? To which I retort: Have you looked at Facebook lately? To me Facebook has gone from a place where friends could go to connect and share experiences that have happened to them, to a place where people share the absurd in life. There are no more personal experiences only memes that people are sharing and that they didn’t create. While these memes may be relavent to what that person it is a passive/aggressive form of expression. If you are feeling a certain way, say it. Maybe that is just me. The other thing that it has become is a sesspool of political bullshit. I get it I need to vote and I do. On one side you have liberal leaning individuals who are outraged with everything that President Trump does, and on the other side are people that like Trump and gloat over every victory he has. Most of the time the posts that these two groups put up aren’t creations of their own either. They are something that someone else put up and they are just parroting. And my last objection to Facebook is the ads. I get it, Facebook needs to make money to continue to service all of the billions of people that are there, but my god, show me something different once in a while. I’m not going to buy it, but add some variety.

With all of that being said, I hope to post here at least weekly, if not more often. I think that it will depend on how much time that I have at any given moment, but that is the plan going forward.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Winning May Be Everything, But It's Not The Last Thing

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the profound effects that the loss of a sporting event seem to have on people, especially when they are not participating personally in the sporting event.

Sure, sports are important to me. And I do get upset when things don’t turn out the way that I want them too. I’m a HUGE New Orleans Saints fan, probably one of the biggest in Upstate New York, but I don’t go all crazy when they lose a playoff game, or when the team does something inconceivable, like say trading away Jimmy Graham (one of their franchise players). I move on with my life; because I know that when all is said and done there are MANY more important things in life than NFL football. So, I simply, pick up the pieces of my shattered (and I use that term lightly) dream and move on to the next thing.

Last night the University of Kentucky lost it’s national semi-final game (NCAA Basketball) to the University of Wisconsin. And, as has become the norm in our society, they took to the streets in Lexington. There were riots and fires set.

People, get over yourselves. It’s not the end of the world. There will be next year. There is always hope, especially when you have such a storied program as the Kentucky Wildcats. Tomorrow the sun will rise, the wind will blow and Coach Cal will work on next years plan of dominance.

I think that the world definitely needs a little perspective. We need to step back, take a breath, and realize that actions like the ones last night in Lexington are not helpful and in fact are harmful. There are people around the world and in fact in our own country (close to home) that are hurting. Channel the strength that you are expending to do harm into something useful. Volunteer at a local homeless shelter, clean up the streets around you, or just do some random act of kindness for someone who can’t help themselves.

As Americans we are better than this, and we need to show it to the rest of the world. With actions like those exhibited last night in Lexington the rioters are no better than terrorists themselves. Most people will say that the actions were those of drunken college students, but that is no excuse. That is a reflection on the parents of these fools.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I want to discuss an important project issue with you

I think that spammers, the scourge of the email world, have become inherently more stupid and desperate lately. Below is a screen shot of an email that I received in my Spam Inbox this morning. The funniest part of the whole email is the part that I have highlighted. They are actually going to the trouble of telling me this email is not spam even though the sent from email address is from Israel (.il) and they want me to respond to a .yahoo email address and the person has what is apparently an Asian surname.

I know that my last statement seems a little off color, but when I think of someone with an Asian surname I don't usually jump up and say "That person is from Israel". Turns out I am probably right. Here is what, according to Wikipedia (I know, and I'm calling this spammer lazy, ironic huh?) says the population of Israel looks like:

of total
Growth rate
Of which:[9]





Anyway, it is idiots like this that are killing email for the rest of us. I find email to be an extremely useful tool, and I wish there was a way to find and punish the people who write these god awful scripts that generate this junk.

Evernote helps you remember everything and get organized effortlessly. Download Evernote.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Breaking Old Habits is HARD!

One of the reasons that I dusted off this old blog is because I want to really try to create some new, good, habits. I really want try to be more productive with my idle time, as opposed to getting sucked into Facebook and Twitter. And YouTube and Tumblr… You get the point. I am finding that creating a good habit is a lot harder than breaking a bad one. For instance, I can’t seem to stick to a regular schedule with updating this blog. Granted, I have probably written more in the past two weeks than I did all of last year; even if the content was only half as meaningful.

Here are the things that I am trying to do in order to be more productive and healthy:
  1. Blog more. Obviously. I have set a goal for myself to sit down and type something out at least three times a week. Last week I hit it no problem. This week… Well it’s Friday evening and I’m just barely typing out my second post. That still leaves time. But my one idea of the day is to write a post about how I am struggling to write posts. How meta is that?
  2. Drink more water. In the past there have been days when I haven’t had a single glass of water. On this one I am doing pretty well. My goal is 64oz of water per day, and I generally hit that one. The problem arises when I get busy. I normally have a one track mind, so if I am concentrating I often forget to take regular drinks. That makes a deficit that I try to make up in the hours before bed, which, for obvious reasons isn’t a good idea. One thing I do to try to remind myself is carry a water bottle. Problems occur when I set the bottle down though…
  3. Exercise more. I realized that I was becoming a fat slug. I gained back all of the weight that I lost over the summer and it’s only getting worse now that I am between seasons at my job. This is because I am far less active now. So I set a goal of :30 minutes of exercise per day. Problem is I forget to exercise… Do you see a pattern yet?
  4. Floss. This one I just started this week and so far I’ve held steady. I just try to make sure that I do it before I brush my teeth every night, which is one of the few good habits that I have.
  5. Track Foods. I have used an app called Lose It in the past to keep a calorie count for myself. I am pretty diligent about this one, but sometimes I go over my calorie allowance for the day… Oh well you win some you lose some. 
  6. Write in a To-Do list. I do keep up with my to-dos pretty well. Or at least I am good about writing typing things into Things (my to-do app). Checking them off is another story though. For instance, I set up a repeating to-do to workout for :30 minutes every day. See number 3.
When all is said and done I am making the effort, and I know I’ll create better habits, even if it is just flossing every night before bed. How do you form good habits? What challenges do you face? 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Apps That I Love: Evernote and Pandora

It's no secret, the internet is polluted with websites (including this one) and apps. It seems there is an app for just about everything. Although I haven't looked for one and I don't have a need for one, I'm sure that there is an app for telling you when to use the toilet. And believe me, I have tried my fair share of useless apps. Yes, I was one of those guys that thought that the Coin Toss app was a perfectly sensible idea, I mean because taking your smartphone out of your pocket is way easier than digging out a quarter or rock/paper/scissors.

Every once in a while though, you come across something that is really useful, something that improves your life; something that you didn't think would be useful until you tried it. Two of those apps for me are Evernote and Pandora. They are apps that I use almost every day, and (especially Evernote) I'm not sure how to get through the day without them. 

In fact, I find these two services so useful that I *gasp* pay for them. I do this for several reasons; the first of which is that I want to support the teams that brought me these incredibly useful tools. I am a firm believer in that you should pay for what you use. I know, I know, we all pay one way or the other, nothing is actually "free" (and if you think that then you should turn off your computer, go out into the woods and start living a foraging lifestyle). With my subscription to services that I actually use I am giving the companies that I am supporting a guaranteed source of income; I am paying for what I use, and I use these apps all the time.

The second reason, that I pay for the premium subscription is that I get enhanced functionality from them. With Evernote I get Optical Character Recognition (OCR) so the app can actually read and search my handwriting and print only documents. I get more upload and storage capacity as well. With Pandora One (the name of Pandora's subscription service) I get more "skips" for songs I am not in the mood for and NO COMMERCIALS. This was the first reason that I subscribed (that and the cheap price of subscription). I could only take so many ads asking me to sign up for Pandora One. So I guess that I was sort of bullied into that one, but I won't go back to the free version anytime soon. 

There are hundreds upon thousands of apps out there. Which ones do you support? And why?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Today I Decided To Try A Couple Of New/Old Things

People that know me well know that I love to do things in what I perceive to be the most efficient manner. Many times this tendency has taken me to the technological route. For instance, I would much rather send a note via text message, email or social media rather than sending a letter or picking up the phone. To me it just doesn't make sense, when I only have one question to be asked, to get the answer via a phone call. It is much more simple and saves time to send a text message. Yes technology cuts out some of the personal interaction, but it also saves time and money, both of which are very valuable.

With that being said, New Thing #1 is reading an actual dead tree book. I can't remember the last book that I actually picked up and read. That is not to say that I am voracious reader, but the last 30 or so books that I've read have been either in audiobook format (while driving) or in e-book format on a Nook or iPad. Tonight I went to the library, dusted off my library card (which I haven't used since I was married six years ago) and checked out a book from the library. This I will say about the library: It is a lot harder to get the title that you want there. This rings especially true because I live in such a small town. I picked out three books that I thought I might be interested in and they didn't have any of them. So I settled for Think Like A Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. So far tonight I am about 15 pages in, and the biggest adjustment is not having the number of pages left in the chapter at the bottom of the screen/page.

New Thing #2 hasn't actually started yet, but I am actually going to take notes on a dead tree notebook. For probably the past six or seven years I have been using a service called Evernote to take notes. I love it, especially lately that I am able to use it more often. I can search my notes without having to flip through pages, a lot of my real work is done on a computer so I can clip notes from the internet right into it and it saves virtually every bit of information that I really need it to. But I thought that I would try a Moleskin notebook to take notes in. Now I am no where near ready to give up my beloved Evernote. In fact I purchased the notebook from Evernote. With this notebook I can take pen and paper notes and "scan" them into Evernote with my iPhone. There are even smart stickers that I can place on the notes in order to tag a note or recall it more quickly. I had to purchase the notebook from Evernote's website today, so as soon as it arrives I will give it a test drive.

That is my "progress" for the day. What other new/old ideas should I consider trying again for the first time?

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Funny Thing About Bears...

The funny thing about bears (especially Adirondack black bears) is that they seem to like me, and I don't know if it's a good like or a bad like; they just seem to be attracted to me. When I worked at the Enchanted Forest Water Safari in my late teens and early twenties I used to see them all of the time. I wasn't particularly afraid of them because I knew that I wasn't going to do anything stupid around them (like try to get between them and their food or cubs). Heck. when I was there I even held a (tame) cub that the Forest had as part of their "zoo".

But there were other encounters, mostly with my (now) ex-wife, Tyna. You see, Tyna and I used to like to hike and camp a lot. And I don't mean the type of camping where your car is parked in your campsite. I mean the type of camping where you pack in (and out) what you need for a couple of days and sleep either in a tent that you carry or in a lean-to.

The first experience was when Tyna and I tried to hike up Mt. Marcy, New York's highest peak for the first time. That trip was, to put it mildly, a huge learning experience. Our first mistake was a late start. We didn't leave the trail head until about 4pm, which put us hiking in the first five or so miles after dark by about an hour. The hike wasn't easy and to make things worse it rained for about two of the hours that we hiked (mistake number two was not paying attention to the forecast.) So at about 8:30pm as we hiked up the trail (by headlamp) we heard a bunch of hooting and hollering, which we assumed was, because that's what it sounded like, a party in the middle of the Adirondacks. We kind of ignored it and went about the task of finding a place to stop for the night.

We after a little searching around found a lean-to that served our purpose. Tyna decided that she wanted to use the privy and went up the trail to where the privy was located. (The Adirondack Park Agency places privies near camping locations to minimize impact on the environment. Theoretically everyone uses the privy up there so that only a small portion of the area is impacted by outside forces.)

While she was using the "facilities" I set about making camp. Rolled out the sleeping bags and got out a card game for us to play before sleep. I also wanted to secure our food. We had purchased a small "bear keg" to keep our food safe. If you have never seen a bear keg they are pretty neat. They are made of ABS plastic which is pretty indestructible, and the top is held closed by a couple of large flat headed screws, there are no seems, so in theory there is no way for a bear to break in.

Our particular bear keg had a nylon cover that you could use to lash it to your backpack. In my infinite wisdom I decided that this would make it easier to tie a rope to and hang it from a tree. Mistake number three. I walked about twenty feet from the campsite, toward the entry trail from the main trail with my bear keg, clothes line and weighted end in hands. I found what I though was suitable tree and commenced to try to throw the weight end of the rope over a limb. After more than a couple of failed attempts at throwing the weight over a limb (and a couple of curse words in between) I heard a *snap* in the direction of the trail. I immediately focused my headlamp on the trail to see if I saw anything. After a few seconds of searching I resumed throwing the weight, this time more rapidly and more cursing. I then heard a second *snap*. This time when I looked there were two dime sized "lights" hovering in the distance. This was my cue to abandon ship.

Briskly backing my way back to the lean-to I found my trusty camp shovel, the kind  that fold up, and unfolded the business end so that it resembled a "T". I was wielding that shovel like a weapon prepared to defend myself if I had to and staring at the 600lb bear in front of me when Tyna returned from her "business". I can just imagine the image she saw (or at least what I think she saw). Me standing there, soaked to the bone, haggard, with the crazy look of someone who is about to go to war with zombies. She said "What are you doing?"

I replied with all of the infirmness of someone who has just seen a zombie "B-b-b-b-bear."

"What are you going to do?"

Again, and I'm not sure what was trembling more this time, my hand or my voice "N-n-n-n-nothing."

Her "What if it takes our food? What are we going to eat? Hiking out tomorrow on an empty stomach is going to suck!"

Me "You tell him that! I don't think he'll care."

So we watched as the bear tried, unsuccessfully to get at our food for several minutes. Eventually it got tired and wandered off for some easier prey. Lesson number four: Bears are lazy (thankfully).

The rest of the night we played a few hands of Skip-Bo, jumped at the sound of every twig breaking and slept when it was possible.

The next morning I went out and collected our bear keg right where the bear left it. Set about cooking some breakfast. That's when the park ranger showed up. After telling our story he told us that the "party" we heard was actually a family outing that was trying scare away a particularly pesky 800lb bear called yellow/yellow (for the ear tag identifiers he was fitted with). Yellow/yellow had come upon them while they were cooking dinner and didn't care that they were hungry. They were clanging pans together and making all kinds of noise in the hopes of scaring him away; but I think that yellow/yellow knew that he was an 800lb bear and the puny humans were no match for him. Our visitor was probably his mate, yellow/red, she was much less ambitious and also a little more timid.

Lesson number three (I think) was that you aren't supposed to hang a bear keg. You simply take it out of the nylon pouch and throw it on the ground well away from your camp site. This way the bear has nothing to grab on to and it can't get at your food. What happens, in most cases, is the bear bats the keg around like a soccer ball for a while, gets bored and goes in search of easier fare. And believe it or not, that works, I've tried it with much success on other camping trips.

So, that was my first close encounter with a truly wild black bear, but not my last. Maybe someday I'll sit down and put other to keyboard and screen.