Saturday, January 21, 2017

A rare sleepless night...

For most of my life, sleep has come easily.

I think that relaxation and sleep is as much a skill as it is a naturally occurring event. I think that much of the sleeplessness that plagues our world is caused by poor diet habits, too much stress and worry, and an inability to relax our body and turn off our mind.

I had no caffeine late in the day, nor did I have any alcohol. (Yes, alcohol can rob you of good sleep!) Dinner was early enough and very good, and had no real sweets or anything that might inhibit good sleep.

I did exercise pretty late and that can impact sleep, but I think I had plenty of time to wind down before bed.

I guess it comes down to letting the struggles of life creep in and the abnormal inability to shut off the mind.

One of the advantages of retirement is not having to be anywhere in the morning. It is easier to just get up and do something (knowing that I can sleep later), than it is to struggle to go to sleep.
So I've been up for a couple of hours, watching old TV shows, scanning the internet and now writing at Out of My Hat.

I'm wondering...
What is it that keep you awake at night?
And how do you overcome occasional (or chronic) insomnia?

Heck! It's almost 5am!
I might just put on some coffee and stay up, now. I can always sleep later. I'm pretty sure that there is no danger of me not getting enough sleep.

Have a great weekend!

John <><

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day Thoughts

The day has finally come when we (The United States) will again make a peaceful transition of power and hand the reins of government to another person and another party.

This year's inauguration day is marked by as much controversy, criticism and doubt as any.
I suppose that I should watch it, ... but I won't. Not out of protest or anything like that, I just won't.
I haven't watched most of the past ceremonies and I will surely see many video highlights and hear much about what was said and done in the coming days.

I am not at all a doomsday liberal that thinks the world as we know it is coming to an end. I agree with our out-going President that the US will be okay. I know that there will be many changes and challenges in the coming days. Things will be done that will have great impact on the day to day lives of many people. There will be some that reap benefits from policy changes and there will be many that are harmed by them.
And in less than two years, we - the voting people of the US, will have the opportunity to change the face of Congress by voting for or against those policies as we elect a new House and a third of the Senate.

That's the way our system works.
I know that in today's world, our elections are bought and paid for by people with great donations and great power. At some point, we have to accept that we (the individual voters) have been the ones that allow that to take place. Even in the midst of the accusation of foreign tampering in the most recent election, it still comes down to each voter either buying into the the news (or fake news) and casting a ballot.

We have the government that we elected.
And we get to keep it for the next two years.

If history is any predictor of the future, things will change again...and we will continue to survive and thrive as a nation.
Celebrate if you are a Trump supporter!
Even though gloating, taunting and poor sportsmanship seem to have been normalized in the sporting world, this is not sport ... it's life. So celebrate without gloating. Be a good sport!
And if you are not ...
There is no need for exhibiting poor sportsmanship from your side, either.
Be gracious.
Go high.
If it was a sporting event and we were athletes, we would simply go into training with the idea of a coming rematch. We would examine what went wrong and work to change that. That's not a bad practice in politics...or life.
Adapt. Change. Grow.

John <><

Thursday, January 19, 2017


I like breakfast.
Sometimes I think that it shouldn't come so early in the day, but I like breakfast.

I'm glad that I can take my time and eat breakfast after I've had the chance to wake up a bit. On most days, I've had a few cups of coffee before I get around to fixing breakfast. I'm okay with something as simple as oatmeal with some walnuts, cinnamon and a little honey, but sometimes I'm up for a little something more.

When I do make oatmeal, it is the old fashioned oats -- none of that packaged oat/throw it in a bowl/loaded with sugar stuff. I do use the microwave to make my oatmeal, but am moving away from using the microwave for cooking or re-heating many things.

I'm thinking about going back to morning smoothies for breakfast. It's not because I need to save on time. I like that I can get a good, high protein, well balanced breakfast that has a variety of flavors available. Generally, I use frozen mixed berries, skim milk, chia seeds, greens of some sort (usually spinach) and whey protein powder. But you have the flexibility to use apples and cinnamon, bananas and peanut butter (or peanut butter powder), oranges and bananas, or whatever else you desire.
I generally use vanilla flavored protein, but it comes in a variety of flavors from a variety of producers.

Eggs are another good source of good fat and good protein -- and I like eggs!
There is a little more clean up associated with preparing eggs for breakfast, but not too much if you do it right. My go-to egg breakfast is three fried in coconut oil and seasoned to taste. I use a little 8 inch cast iron skillet which is well seasoned and makes clean up extremely easy.
Put those over toast or leftovers from last night's dinner and you're in business!

I'll also skip the fat from frying and used poached eggs on occasion.
Here are a few of my recent breakfast meals.

Yesterday, I experimented with banana pancakes.
Two bananas, three eggs, one scoop of protein powder and a little cinnamon. It made four pancakes and I split them with Chris. We did the traditional butter and syrup, but they would also be great with peanut butter or almond butter.

This morning, Chris is fixing bacon and egg sandwiches on homemade sour dough toast.

She skipped the sandwich part and went with apple butter on her toast.
Life is good.

John <><

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Can we talk about food?

Being the retired half of our marriage, I now do most of the cooking in our home. We still eat out way too often and Chris does fix dinner on occasion, but for the most part, I'm the new chief cook and bottle washer 'round these parts.

I have to admit that most of my meals are pretty simple fare.
That's largely due to my lack of skillful experience in the kitchen, as well as a desire to keep clean up to a minimum. I often make use of the crock pot and have no aversion to preparing multiple meals at one time or planning on enough leftovers for a second meal.

For example --
Last week I put six chicken breasts in the crock pot to slow cook all day. At the end of the day, four of them went into the refrigerator for later use and we had a simple meal of pulled chicken bbq. I had mine on a sandwich of homemade sour dough bread and mixed greens. Chris had hers on the mixed greens without the bread.

Over the weekend I cooked up a skillet of black beans and onions, seasoned it with garlic, cumin and cayenne, chopped up and added two of the chicken breasts, stuffed the mix into Pablano peppers, covered it with cheese and baked it in the oven. I topped that with some chunky salsa and that was dinner #2.

I also had enough of the chicken and black bean mix left to make my breakfast the following morning. I just added three fried eggs, mixed greens and put it all on a tortilla!

Last night we used the remaining two chicken breasts to make a go to dinner in our home... fried rice. In our home, fried rice uses whatever leftover meat is available and whatever vegetables might be in the freezer or produce drawer. It is a different product every time.

I guess I should add that I rarely use a recipe. If I try something or see something that I think I'd like, I just try to figure it out or I make stuff up as I go.
One day Chris came home from work and asked, "What's for dinner?"
I said, "Well, it's an experiment."
With a sigh, she said, "Can't we just have normal food?"

It turned out pretty well (at least we didn't have to go out to eat)!
But that's another story for another day.

Dining at home does give us a little more control over what we eat (and how much). For the most part, we eat healthier meals at home, made with fresher ingredients.

I wonder what we'll have tonight?

John <><
PS -- For those of you that already follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, sorry for the re-runs. For those of you that don't -- this is what you're missing!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Tell me something good...

One of my brothers posted this on his Facebook status this week:

"Tell me something good that's happening out there. What do you feel good about today?"

It was a pretty welcome post in the midst of the other posts that appeared in my feed that day.
And the comments that followed were also refreshing to read.

Good things and bad things are both a part of living. Unfortunately, the bad seems to get most of the press. So how about a regular day when we share some good things? I'm thinking that Friday the 13th is as good a day as any to begin a new regularly featured post. I'm calling it "Good Friday."

Yeah, I know that it's already taken for another Friday and with a much higher purpose, but my Good Friday posts will do two things -- they will give me the opportunity to share something good that is happening for me and they will give you the opportunity to share something good that is happening for you.
And a third benefit is that we all get to be encouraged by the good things happening in each others' lives.

I know this blog only reaches into a minuscule portion of the world's population, but maybe we can shed a little light in our dark corners by sharing some good news or by being the good news for a day.

How about it?
It's Friday!
Tell me something good that's happening!

John <><

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Becoming LESS Social...

I know!
It hardly seems possible that I could become even less social that I already am, but I'm going to try!

Actually, what I plan to do is eliminate many of the social media notifications that I get on my phone. Currently my phone beeps or buzzes when somebody posts to my Facebook wall or comments on a post of mine. I also receive notification if somebody else comments on a post that I also commented on. And I get notifications when certain people or forums have new updates.

The same is true for Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Not to mention e-mail notifications.

without disconnecting from social media, I am going to eliminate most of the automated notifications. I'll check in when I feel like it without the prompts from my phone or Chromebook.
My phone should only be buzzing when I get a phone call (that's pretty rare) or a text message (also pretty rare).

Without the other interruptions, I might actually begin to feel lonely -- but I doubt it!
I wonder if that will significantly affect my battery life. Hmmm...

John <><

Monday, January 09, 2017

Food review & Tweeting for business

Earlier today, Chris and I made a short trip to Republic to try out a BBQ restaurant.
(Retirement has its perks!) If you are a follower of mine on Instagram or Twitter (or maybe you just follow any of the various food hashtags), you have seen some of my recent food pics.

Apparently, the social media folks at Heady BBQ follow food tweets and they have commented on some of mine. After a few back and forth tweets and an invitation to come try them out, I decided it was time to make the short drive from Ozark and see what they have to offer.

Chris' simple review was, "I'd come back here!"
Given that it is a little out of our normal area, that means that it was pretty good.
She had the pulled pork sliders which was their pulled pork on small Hawaiian bread buns with their sauce and a fried pickle. Her only complaint was that there was enough pork on each slider to cover the taste of the one fried pickle. She said next time she might ask for an extra pickle on each!

I ordered the two meat platter so that I could try both the pulled pork and the brisket. My sides were baked beans and cole slaw.

Before I get to the meats, I want to say that these were the best pit beans I've had in a long time! Unfortunately, many places add too much sugar to their baked beans and sweet beans are not what I want with smoked meats. Heady's beans were great--a little smokey and seasoned just right! I'm going to guess and say a little cumin and garlic along with a little smoked pork. Whatever it was, be sure to order a side of beans when you go!
The cole slaw wasn't anything out of the ordinary, but it wasn't too creamy and, again, it wasn't too sweet. It is the kind of slaw that is perfect for topping a pulled pork sandwich if you like that kind of thing (and I do!).

As for the meats --
I am a pulled pork kind of guy and rarely order brisket if given the choice. I ordered it here just to get a better feel for the restaurant. I thought about getting the hot link, but I am of the opinion that few restaurants have good hotlinks, so I went with the brisket.
Both meats were tasty and tender. I really liked the pork and the beef was also very good. I tasted each without any sauce or additional seasoning so that I could get a better idea of the smoked flavor and natural juiciness of each. Then I used a generous amount of the cayenne bbq sauce and added some slaw to the pulled pork ('cause that's what I like) and used just the sauce with the brisket.

I'll probably skip the brisket in the future, but that is more of a personal preference than an indictment of their product. I'm up for a nice pulled pork sandwich with slaw and some of their spicy cayenne bbq sauce. And I'll be sure to have a side of those awesome beans, too!

The platter included a piece of toast which seemed out of place. I suppose that it needs some type of bread, but the toast seemed more like and afterthought than a part of the meal. A thicker 1/2 slice of Texas toast, a cornmeal roll or even a cornbread muffin would have made a better plate appearance and added to the platter rather than just being kind of ... meh.

The place was clean. The price point was what you would expect. The portions were adequate and the service was friendly.
There is a Buckingham's BBQ place about a mile from our house and it is pretty convenient when we are looking for a quick bbq dinner out. If the two were next to each other or the same distance from us, I'm sure that we would head over to Heady's!

As it is, I am sure that we'll be back.
After all, I still need to try the hot link, the ham, and the smoked turkey!

Bon appetit!

John <><

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Welcome to retirement!

Yesterday I went to a retirement party for one of my longtime coworkers. When I first arrived at Springfield Tower (SGFT) he had just moved from controller to a staff position. He later was promoted to supervisor and then ended his career as the Air Traffic Manager (ATM) at SGFT. He was (and is) one of the few people that I really trust and admire. I spent many of my breaks in his ATM office just talking about life or whatever happened to come up that day.

We talked about our kids, our spouses, our churches, our beliefs, baseball, whatever ... rarely did we talk about air traffic or our jobs.

Being there yesterday (with other retirees) reminded me of how glad I am that I retired when I did. I could have gone another 17 months and made a little more money and increased my pension by a small amount, but I am really glad that I didn't. Many of the things that I have done in the past two years, I would not have been able to do if I was still working.
Truthfully, by comparison, my retirement is pretty modest next to many of my peers. I had a relatively short career and never moved beyond a mid-level facility. Never-the-less, I do realize that my pension and savings is still more than many working people make and we are pretty comfortable.

It was also the last day of work for one of my controller friends. I was very happy to see him at the retirement gig. He, too, is one of the good guys! It seems that our schedules rarely overlapped over the years and I didn't get to work with him as often as I would have liked. If I would have been able to pick my team, he definitely would have been on it! There was one year when I shared a line with him and two other great guys. I was most certainly the weak link on the team that year!

It was good to talk with the other retired folks and I was a little disappointed that only a couple of the current controllers showed up. I do understand that they have been working a lot of overtime and so their time off is pretty precious.

I do hope that my friends find their new retirement rhythm quickly and start to enjoy the freedom that it gives. I haven't been very good at keeping up with other retirees and maybe I need to get better at that. I know that air traffic was much of our common bond while working and so it is understandable that we no longer share that and may grow apart. But it is always nice to have worked with people that you have genuinely liked and respected and perhaps we will find that is enough to continue our friendships.

To Brent (BA) and John (YU)
Welcome to the good life!

John <><

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Off to the races!

I remember watching NASCAR as a kid. That was back when auto manufacturers actually had to produce the cars that were racing and make them available to the public.

I have to admit, that I've never been much of a fan of NASCAR.

When NASCAR driver Carl Edwards was flying his plane in and out of our airspace on a weekly basis, I thought it would be good to know how he did the previous weekend or where he was heading to for the coming weekend ... so I started paying attention. First it was just the results that I was interested in, then I started to watch a little more of the racing.
Now, I enjoying watching the racing a little more and am really amazed at the skill of some of the drivers and pit crews.

One of my former coworkers always told me that if I ever actually went to a race, I'd be hooked!
Well, I think I'd like to do that. Kansas and Texas Speedways are both relatively close and have events both in the spring and in the fall, and Chicago Speedway has a summer race. I think I should plan on one of those races this year!
I haven't looked into what a race costs or what I should expect, but there is time for that between now and the start of the season.

Any NASCAR fans in my followers?
Any tips on going to the races?
Any interest in going to the races?

John <><

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

One Reason I Don't Like Labels

Labels tend to put people into broad, general categories.
As a Democrat, one gets labeled as a liberal.
As a Republican, a conservative.

Even if one is fairly moderate, they are either a moderate liberal or a moderate conservative.
However, there are many Democrats that hold some conservative values, just as there are socially minded Republicans.

When we put people into the large labels of conservative and liberal, we tend to think that everything the other side says must be wrong and everything that our side says has to be right. That is why we have become so divided as a nation.

As it turns out, we are often saying the same things as the linked article below demonstrates.
Before getting to the link, I want to remind you that (at the end) I wasn't a big GWB fan. I did vote for him once, but was greatly disturbed by the policies enacted in his first term and didn't vote for his re-election. I also mocked his many misspoken quotes or poor grammar during his second term (shame on me).

That said, here are some things he did say and I wish that our current President-elect and members of our Congress would remember and give heed to:

7 Things that George W Bush said that we should remember in 2016 (now 2017).

Maybe we need to start really listening to one another in 2017 rather than dismissing what someone says because we have already labeled them as stupid or ignorant.

Just a thought...

John <><