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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Disney During Covid

After deciding to spend five nights on an impromptu trip to Florida, Stacey and I chose to spend three of those nights at Disney World. Some of our family members were booked at the Art of Animation Resort, and we ended up with reservations at the Pop Century Resort. They are connected to each other by a bridge and sidewalks along the parking lot. 

Because of Covid, Disney is limiting the number of people in each park through a reservation system. My relatives already had reservations for Monday and Tuesday of this week, but reservations were full by the time Stacey and I started looking. We did find some openings at Epcot and Animal Kingdom for last Saturday and Sunday, so we chose to go to Animal Kingdom on Saturday. We would spend Sunday just relaxing at the resort with family. This would also be our first time flying since Covid hit.

Friday, March 26

We left Rochester for a flight from Buffalo to Baltimore. There were high wind warnings in effect. We saw a beautiful double rainbow ahead of a storm, just before reaching a rest stop. Sadly we did not get a picture of it. At the Buffalo airport gate, every other seat was taped off for social distancing. We found this ironic since the flight was completely sold out and as crowded as ever. Masks were required for the entire time on board the plane. As a private pilot, I was gratified that the wind was blowing straight down runway 23, per the windsock. The flight wasn't bad considering, bumpy mostly below the cloud tops. In Baltimore, all of the seats at the gate were available to sit in.

Once we arrived at Orlando Airport, we needed to retrieve our luggage as Disney Magical Express does not do luggage service anymore. Our wait for a bus to Pop Century Resort was about a half hour. Other people going to other resorts were in longer lines with longer waits. Seating capacity on the buses is reduced due to social distancing. They staggered the seats by assigning them to your group.

Checking in to Pop Century was done online through the My Disney Experience app. We were instructed to go straight to our room and unlock the door via the app. It worked. We later went to the front desk to pick up Magic Bands. Hungry after a day of travel, we were instructed to order food through the app, and received a text message when it was ready. We had the choice of taking it elsewhere or eating in the food court dining room, which had tables spaced out. Although we purchased resort mugs with unlimited refills, the drinks were actually handed to us in disposable paper cups.

Saturday, May 27

After having a light breakfast in our hotel room, we took a Disney bus to Animal Kingdom. For social distancing, the driver assigned us to seats.  There were plastic dividers between seats. Upon arriving at Animal Kingdom, they did a quick temperature scan, we breezed through security, and walked right in, as our wrist bands had our tickets and park reservations on them. We were in the park 5 minutes before the scheduled opening time of 8:00 AM. We headed straight for Avatar, Flight of Passage, which already had a long line. Wait time 60 minutes when we arrived. The length was actually deceptive because everyone was spaced 6 feet apart by marks on the ground. For the  most part, the line kept moving.

Once on the ride, I was concerned that having my mask on would steam up my glasses, thus preventing me from fully enjoying the view. But air blowing from the console in front of me helped keep my glasses clear. This was our second time on Avatar and we both enjoyed it more than the first time a year ago. 

We then waited 25 minutes for the Na'vi River Journey and got in line for the Kilimanjaro Safari. The Festival of the Lion King show was not running, so with the Safari line being stretched for social distancing, they used part of the Lion King waiting area for the Safari line.

We spent the rest of the day with similar social distancing procedures as we made a big circle around the entire park. In Africa, we walked the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, and attempted drawing a cartoon at Rafiki's Planet Watch. In Asia, we saw Feathered Friends in Flight, walked the Maharaja Jungle Trek, and rode Expedition Everest. Yikes! In Dinoland, we went back in time on the Dinosaur ride. On Discovery Island, we watched It's Tough to Be a Bug. 

Throughout the day, we took frequent breaks just to sit down, relax, and enjoy people-watching. The park was limited to 35% capacity so it made for an extremely enjoyable uncrowded experience. Stacey had made the right choice by choosing this park on a hot day because all of the trees provided plenty of shade.

After completing the circuit, we had enough time left to go back and visit Avatar again and the Na'vi River Journey.

After we got back to our hotel, we visited with family that had arrived.

Sunday, March 28

On Sunday, we slept in late, had breakfast, visited with family for a little bit, and then spent a few hours at Disney Springs. There was much social distancing required at Disney Springs as well as the parks. Some of the more popular stores had lines outside with people waiting to get in. The Disney Store itself had a wait of about a half hour when we went.

We had dinner with family, then spent a quiet evening at the hotel. On Monday morning, we had breakfast with my sister, checked out, and headed for the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area.

Disney is very strict about wearing masks and social distancing. There are markers on the ground everywhere showing where to stand. They even review photos taken for Photopass and will not release them unless the people in the photos have a mask on.

Although this was all instigated by Covid,  I have to say that this was actually a very pleasant trip to Disney World. It was wonderful to be able to walk around Animal Kingdom without horrendous crowds and no Fastpasses. In my opinion, I think it would be fine if they got rid of the Fastpass system altogether. When you have the Fastpass line, what it's really doing is holding up the regular standby line. Sure, it's nice to be able to get in and use a FastPass for one or two rides, but then you pay back by waiting in long lines for everything else.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Keeping My Photos Safe

Years ago, I made the decision to disassemble all of my photo albums and scan them to digital. I did that when digital photography became the standard. Once I felt confident that all of my photos could be secure in digital format and reasonably easy to view, I didn't feel the need to have a couple dozen photo albums around taking up space. There are times when I see friends and family trying to decide what to do with their photos once the storage space on their phones becomes filled up. Obviously, in one way or another they need to be taken off a phone. The phone is only going to last so long anyways.

Some years ago, I created a website to sell my photography to the general public. I also created a folder on the website for my family's pictures. I uploaded all my scanned personal photos to this folder. I have made it a regular habit to upload pictures that I take on my phone and with my big fancy camera to the family folder. While my photography pictures are available for the general public to see and purchase, the family folder on it has a password which I share only with family. In my opinion, having a paid website or storage like this is a lot safer than relying on free sites like Facebook to keep your pictures on. You don't really own your site on Facebook and they can make changes that you don't like or even delete your account. I host my site on My photo site is

So my kids, my sisters, their significant others, and my nieces and nephews are all excited to have access to all the photos that I've taken of them through the years. I invite them to upload their pictures to this family folder as well. I am committed to keeping it for the rest of my life, my children will have to decide how to handle it after I'm gone.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Time to Change Time?

I've noticed a lot of people complaining about the change back to Daylight Savings Time a couple weeks ago. Everybody is tired. Everybody says it's an idea that doesn't need to be around anymore. Maybe they are right. Maybe the whole concept of time zones as we know them needs to go away. In aviation, everyone around the world uses the same clock so that flights can easily cross time zones on the same schedule. They call it Zulu time, or Greenwich Mean Time. If everybody in the world did the same, then everyone would share the same clock.

Yes it would be confusing at first but we would all get used to it. Right now, people need to adjust themselves to what the person in another time zone is experiencing. For example when it's 9 a.m. in the Eastern Time Zone, it's 6 a.m. in the Pacific time zone. We know that it's still a few hours away before business opens in the Pacific time zone. Everyone gets that and it's not too hard to understand. But still, you have to think about it when you talk to a relative or business acquaintance in Europe, Japan, Australia or some other place in the world. You have to a conversion or look it up. But if you were all on the same clock, then it would be simple and nobody would need to convert.

Right now, in the Eastern Time Zone, we know that London is 5 hours ahead of us during Standard Time or 4 hours ahead of us during daylight savings time. What if you left it at the same 5 hours throughout the entire year and all on the same clock? If it was 1700 hours in New York for example then you would know that it's 5 hours ahead in London so the time would be 2200 hours.

For example, a New Yorker could ell their relative in Paris, "I will call you at 1400 hours." You both know when to expect 1400 hours because you would be on the same time. 

This is a different way to look at time and clocks, but maybe it's time to think about it.  Pun intended.

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Sunday, March 28, 2021

Finally Remembered Her Name

In May of 2017, I went to a WPXY 80s party at the Burgundy Basin Inn. I had plans to meet several friends there, including Judy. Judy's friend was there, too. I had met her a few times before that. I apologized to her and asked her what her name was again, because I kept forgetting after the last few times we had met. She told me it was Stacey.

Well, we got into the group dancing that my friends and I usually do. As the evening progressed, I began to notice that Stacey had quite a bit of dancing stamina. She kept on dancing and rarely took a break. When the others stopped dancing, Stacey and I kept dancing.

We did stop long enough to have group pictures taken of us in our 80s garb. I told Stacey I'd like to send her a Facebook friend request so I could tag her in pictures.

After that, a good friendship developed. Judy, Stacey and I got together a lot for dancing, including one notable night at the Shortsville firemen's carnival, where we still brag about dancing barefoot in the mud to the rock band, Dean's List.

Three months later, Stacey and I became a couple. While I've already written much about our relationship together, and will undoubtedly write more, I'm reflecting today on how we have affected each other.

Stacey has inspired me to be a lot more frugal in my spending habits.

She inspired me to try karaoke. I always said I would never do it. Well, she loves to sing her heart out and doesn't care who hears her. She looks like she has so much fun. So I finally tried it and actually enjoyed it.

She has overcome many challenges in life to get where she is today.

She has said she feels like she can be herself when she's with me.

We got married in April, 2019, so we'll be celebrating our second wedding anniversary shortly!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

How Many Hours to Get Something?

Do you ever think about how many hours it takes to get something that you want?

When I worked at a TV station, we recorded a Sunday Mass in the studio every Wednesday to be played on the air the following Sunday morning. I often thought about how many Masses I had to work through in order to buy something that I wanted. This is not an opinion about the Catholic Mass itself, it's just that being on the production crew for this particular TV show was rather boring because there wasn't much to do while it was being recorded.  A half-hour of this show would be one-half of an hourly rate for me. In some of those days, I'd make around $25 an hour, which translates to $12.50 earned per half-hour show. So, if I wanted to purchase a $15,000 car,  I'd have to sit through 1,200 Masses!  
I think it's worth taking this kind of perspective when you try to decide whether to spend money on something.  State minimum wages are hovering in the vicinity of $13.00 per hour now, so if you're someone making minimum wage or an amount near it, you might want to think about how many hours you're spending at work to get something.  That would help you decide whether it's worth giving up that much time of your life for it.  It would take 38 1/2 hours to buy something that's $500.

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Friday, March 26, 2021

My Employer is a Top Place to Work in 2021!

Yesterday the Democrat and Chronicle announced that my employer was listed as a top place to work in 2021.

This is the third year in a row that Spencerport School District made the list. Here is the yummy benefit I received for it!

I do agree that it is a great place to work. I started out as a bus driver in the fall of 2014. Several years later, I quit to work another job, but being away from the Spencerport School District made me realize how much I missed it, so I went back.

I've always been treated well by management. It's no secret that there is a shortage of bus drivers across the country. Many people have told me that they admire what I do and could never do it themselves. It's really not as bad is people make it out to be. Yes, you do drive a large vehicle, and you do need to learn how to deal with dozens of children on your bus. But all of that is covered in training; the training is very thorough. They teach you procedures to follow. If you follow the procedures, you should not have any problems. For me, driving a large school bus was not that big a step up from driving my minivan. It has automatic transmission. Once you get used to the size of the vehicle and learning to watch the space around you, it becomes second nature after a while. The other thing you need to get used to is how to operate the air brakes. Depressing the brake pedal on a vehicle with air brakes is no different did any other vehicle, but you do need to know how the air pressure system works prior to operating your vehicle. 

We have a road test every year to keep us on our toes, safety seminars, and other routine training. The support system is great when it comes to dealing with children, and some of our safety seminars cover topics that we need to know for children of all types and needs. 

If you're looking for something different that has perks of a lot of time off, consider learning to drive a school bus. Every school district needs drivers. If there was one drawback, I think bus drivers should be paid more. Maybe that will come in time. If you want to come and drive a school bus for Spencerport School District, you will have the benefit of being at a top place to work, and the best benefit is that you get to work with me!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Aging and Weather

It seems that as we age, we become less tolerant of weather extremes and look forward to moderation. That certainly seems to be the case for me, anyways.

I remember hearing my grandmother complain about the snow when I was about eight years old. She said, "I don't like snow." I couldn't believe the concept of not liking snow! You remember how it is when you're that young; you look out the window in amazement at the first snowfall of the season. Even though it's usually only a dusting, you still hope that enough snow accumulates so you can make a snowman or go sledding.

As a child, I loved playing in the snow. I frequently went sledding on the hill in our backyard and I cut snow caves into the snow drifts that lined our sidewalk or driveway. After I married and we became homeowners, shoveling the driveway was never a favorite chore but when I obtained a snowblower, I felt a sense of raw power whenever I used it! I looked forward to blasting snow out of the driveway. I became proud of being a northern U.S. driver who could handle heavier snowfalls, especially in one of the prime lake effect snow areas of the country? Six to 12 inches of snow? Piece of cake! We loved to laugh at the southern cities that pretty much shut down if there was an inch of snow.

My tolerance for snow and cold weather began wearing thin by my mid-40's. Perhaps a large part of the reason was because I replaced my mini-van in 2007 with a Dodge Caliber. Kind of a cool car, but it doesn't handle the snow as well as mini-vans do. So I became impatient with the poorer snowplowing results in the City of Rochester, where I work. Kudos to my hometown of Greece, NY, where snowplowing efforts are usually stellar! But I still had to drive on city streets to get to work.

As a teenager, I remember loving hot humid weather in the summer. One particular trip to New York City as an 18-year old stands out to me because there was no air conditioning and I remember laying in bed feeling sticky. I loved it! I can't imagine anything more sweltering than New York City in the hot summer.

Many family vacations were in Florida. We often spoke of the "blast of heat" we'd feel as we stepped from the plane to the jetway upon our arrival at Orlando airport. Most people we know didn't like the summer Florida heat, but we embraced it. We looked forward to the almost-daily afternoon thunderstorms that are prominent in central Florida.

I visited Las Vegas on two occasions during the summer months. I saw temperatures as high as 110; it's true that a "dry heat" seems more tolerable than a humid heat. One of my favorite memories of Vegas is standing at the top of the Stratosphere Hotel in the evening and feeling the hot breeze come through.

When my daughter spent some time living in Florida, I humorously feigned jealousy that she got to spend so much time in warm weather while us northerners had to freeze. It appears that recent years have taken a turn, however. We began tolerating the hot weather less than in the past. With some unusually hot weather here in Rochester this year, the novelty may be wearing off. Whereas I used to embrace a 90-degree forecast, as the summer wore on I began looking forward to 80-degree days. 80 seemed to be just about perfect.

I used to feel depressed when summer ended.  Not anymore.  I feel like I'm enjoying the Fall season in more ways than I can remember. I pay more attention to the colors and I've enjoyed some new Fall clothes that I had purchased. I've also decided I need to change my attitude about the Winter. It's been said that you can't always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it. I'm getting older and this is where I live, so I need to be more accepting of the climate and my aging body. Even on cold Fall days, I heard people complain. For once, I'm not complaining anymore. Instead of thinking about the cold, I just think about the nice warm clothes I have. Attitude!

Now that Winter has passed, I am fully enjoying the mid 60's Spring days we've been having!

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

If Everyone Drove the way School Bus Drivers are Trained

When I first started learning to drive a school bus over six years ago, I discovered that I needed to unlearn some bad habits. It made me aware of how badly most of us drive, yours truly included. Of course there are some bad apples among school bus drivers as well, but if we were all to drive our vehicles, both personal and work, the way school bus drivers are trained, accidents would be very rare. The key is to make sure your vehicle is working properly and that you are driving defensively. Most people learn to pass the road test as teenagers, and then develop the bad habits they see everyone else doing.

If you drove as a bus driver is trained, as you first approach your car, you would walk around it, check the tires, all the lights, and underneath to see if anything is hanging loose. You would check all the switches inside your car.

Once on the road, you would use your turn signal well in advance of a turn and cautiously look both ways at least twice before turning. You would slow down as you approach an intersection with a traffic light, being ready to stop if the light turns yellow. You would never speed up to "beat" the light. If a car in front of you was waiting to turn left, you would never go around it on the right side if it's a single lane. Did you know it's illegal in N.Y.S. to drive on a road shoulder? Many people also use the road shoulder as a turning lane, which is also illegal.

You would come to a full stop at a stop sign. While driving, you would keep a safe distance from the car in front of you and never tailgate. You would be watching your mirrors constantly, including the rearview mirror and the two side door mirrors. You would keep both hands on the wheel at all times. And certainly, you would not be using your cell phone for anything.

These are just some of the procedures that school bus drivers are trained in. Imagine how many accidents would be prevented if people drove defensively like this.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

My New Band

I've often said that finding the right people to form a band is like finding someone to have a relationship with.  There are so many similar traits you have to consider; how well do you get along, do you have the same goals, can you play well together, and can you make this a lasting relationship?  In either type of relationship, you want to make beautiful music together, so to speak.  I've had wonderful working relationships with my mates in previous bands.  For the past few years, I had hoped to get together with some of them again.  But as time has marched on, none of them were available.

In January of 2020, it looked like Scott, an old bandmate from my Intrigued days, would finally be available.  We started the process of forming a new band and things were progressing.  Then Covid hit.  We stopped for awhile to see how things were going to shake down.  After awhile, Scott decided he was going to focus on making his own recordings in his basement.

I started looking for other people to form a band with.  It turned out my friend Maria wanted to sing for a band.  We decided we would be a package deal; a singer and a drummer either forming a band together or joining a band together.  Ultimately, after some comings and goings, we found Frank, a guitar player who came up with the idea that the three of us should be a trio.  After much discussion, we came up with the name Northern Drive.

So, that's where we are today.  We have a lead singer, a guitar player and a drummer working up a repertoire of (un)Plugged(in) acoustic and electric songs, mostly rock and some country rock.  As we progress, we hope to be ready by sometime over the summer.

We have a website started up to introduce our trio, which will be updated as we have more information to disclose. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Going Forward...

After the Capitol Hill Riots of January 6th, I was so fed up with the state of politics in this country that I decided I needed to take some drastic actions to my Facebook account so that I could reduce the amount of stress it was causing me. Now that it's two and a half months later, I found my actions have worked. I am a lot more relaxed in general. 

I have decided to further reduce my Facebook presence and put more emphasis on my blog. My blog has been around in one form or another for at least 10 years. My topics have generally been about some things going on in my life, travel, occasional blogs about current issues, music, and even a version of my autobiography. In 2016, I had an unexpected change in my life when my first marriage ended. A nephew suggested that I write my autobiography as a form of therapy. It worked pretty well. You can find it in a series of posts by searching this blog.

Since I just turned 60 a few months ago, I've had a lot of thoughts about how time has evolved since I was born, and even published a book of poems that I had written over the past 50 years. 

I have a lot on my mind and I enjoy writing. I plan to continue this blog as a regular feature. I bill it as the random musings of a geezer in the making. That's a pretty accurate description of what you can expect. If it's something you're interested in making sure you don't miss any, you can sign up for an email subscription. It doesn't cost anything.

Tomorrow I plan to write about my new band. Enjoy the Spring weather!