Tag Archives: Internet

In need of a blog intervention

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on impending retirement.

My name is John and I am a blogaholic.

There. It’s out there for all the world to see and read. How do I know this?

Well, I have just returned from a four-night vacation in one of the most beautiful regions of Texas and I was in and out (mostly out) of Internet service for the entire time. It drove me crazy. Nuts. I was getting fidgety, nervous, looking for things to occupy my time when we weren’t touring cool sites or just relaxing in a spring-fed pool.

My wife and I ventured to the Davis Mountains region. We stayed at a first-class state park in Balmorhea. We met many nice and helpful folks.

We parked our fifth wheel, set up camp and went about enjoying our time away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Except that I am a blogger. I do it for myself and for Panhandle PBS, the local Amarillo public television outlet based at Amarillo College.

I did get three blogs posted during those four nights on the road. It was, however, a challenge.

I figured out that I could write my text on a Word document and save it to my laptop, which now goes with me wherever my wife and I go. I couldn’t get any Internet connection inside the fifth wheel, but I could get it outdoors. So, I would write my text on the Word document, then try to connect to the ‘Net outside and get this stuff posted. It would work — some of the time.

But here’s where it gets sticky and where I can justify a possible need for an intervention: I spent a fairly fruitful, extremely rewarding and modestly successful career in daily print journalism. For nearly 37 years I cranked out copy like there was no tomorrow. I got pretty good at it.

Then, on Aug. 30, 2012, it all came to a crashing halt. The skills I had applied for more than three decades were deemed by the higher ups at the newspaper where I worked to be no longer relevant in today’s changing media environment. They called it a “company reorganization.” I’ll call it something else that is not suitable for this venue, as I shy away from four-letter-word profanity.

My point is that after a lengthy career of writing text and then getting it published immediately, I cannot shake the desire to do that very thing — even as my wife and I evolve into fully retired folks. We’re not quite there, but we’re well on the way.

But if I’m going to continue blogging on politics and other things under my own High Plains Blogger and provide public affairs TV commentary for PanhandlePBS.org, I’ve got to figure out how to cope with traveling into regions of the country that aren’t as well connected as others.

Do I need help? I’m all ears.

Please, please, FAA: no cellphones in flight

The Federal Aviation Administration has just removed restrictions on the use of electronic devices in flight.

Airplane passengers now can play Internet games, surf the Web, send emails … all that kind of stuff.

Has doomsday just inched a little closer?

I refer to the possibility of the FAA lifting restrictions on in-flight cellphone use. I hereby beg the flight regulators to never, ever let that occur.

I am ignorant as to how the technology works at 30,000-plus feet in the air. I guess these gadgets can pick up a signal from somewhere to operate. As for cellphones, I always have presumed they run on towers back on Earth. You get too far from a tower and you lose your connection.

There’s a fundamental issue involved with allowing cellphones aboard commercial airliners. It’s called “passenger safety.”

So help me — and I’m not alone in stating this — I don’t know what I would do if I had to sit for any length of time next to a passenger gabbing on a cellphone about nothing in particular.

I hope my fear about the FAA’s next step is unfounded. I hope the regulators understand the risk that passengers are putting on themselves if the FAA allows them to gab incessantly on cellphones while cruising tens of thousands of feet above Earth’s surface.

I’m OK with allowing emails and Internet surfing. But the FAA has just reached the outer limit of what I believe is acceptable aboard a commercial airplane.

Semi-retirement beginning to sink in

Note: This is the first of an occasional series of blog posts discussing the onset of retirement.

I’m beginning to like being semi-retired.

It was nearly a year ago that my life was turned upside-down. I walked away from a career I had enjoyed beyond my wildest imagination. My journalism career had exposed me to some of the most interesting experiences possible. Not many folks can say they’ve attended presidential nominating conventions, interviewed a future president of the United States, a sitting vice president of the U.S., made a tailhook landing on nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (and been catapulted off the flight deck), covered stories in nearly a dozen countries around the world, exposed corruption in government, commented on a whole array of public policy issues or flown over an erupting volcano.

A management “reorganization” scheme this past summer forced me to make a decision I wasn’t prepared to make, which was to resign my job rather than seek a lesser-paying job at the company where I worked — with no guarantee I’d get even that.

My boss told me I no longer would be able to pursue my craft, which I had done for nearly four decades at three newspapers in two states. So I called it quits.

I’ve been working part-time ever since. And now my wife and I are relishing the role of semi-retired citizens. We recently purchased two vehicles: a 3/4-ton pickup and a 29-foot fifth wheel to pull behind it.

We’ve taken the fifth wheel out for a three-night “camping trip” across town, at an RV park — where we got acquainted with our new vehicle. We learned how the plumbing works, we’re getting quite good now at hooking and unhooking the fifth wheel to and from the pickup. Driving the assembly is a piece of cake.

We’re anxious to take our vehicle out for a real trip, which we’ll do in due course.

I’ve learned that we’re entering an exciting new world of discovery.

Our brand new granddaughter is growing up before our eyes, even though she lives with our son, daughter-in-law and her two big brothers a six-hour drive away. Our retirement travel plans include the kids, all of them. We’ll arrive at that point eventually.

For now, we’re both feeling better in our semi-retirement skin all the time.

I’m working three part-time jobs and enjoying all of them immensely. I’m betting we’re going to really enjoy full-time retirement even more when that day arrives.

We’re in no particular hurry for it to get here. As my late mother used to admonish my sisters and me when we were kids: Do not wish your life away.

Not going to do it, Mom. Life is pretty darn good as it is — right now.