Radio Is Dying. Again

Old Standup Radio
Old Standup Radio

I love radio. There’s an immediacy and singularity about it that TV or internet video streaming can never match. And certainly not Pandora or its multiple offspring – with their endless, depersonalized music. Listening to radio creates a personal connection – a one-on-one relationship with the talk host, the news anchor, the DJ or the music.  And it also works the other way. When I’m doing radio news — or just talking into a live mic – I feel like I’m in someone’s home or car. Having a conversation. That connection never quite carried over to TV. Although I’ve always tried to imagine someone I actually know behind the camera lens – watching the screen.

I started my on-air career in radio as a Boston teenager and after decades of on-camera TV reporting and anchoring, I’m back on radio doing business news. And back to that personal connection.

So why am I writing all this?  Isn’t radio so last century?  Certainly CBS thinks so – putting up it’s iconic radio stations for sale.

Well – I got an email today from a very good friend. Who has had a similar career. And whose memories of growing up in radioland reminded me of mine.

Like my friend, I had a cheap plastic table radio in my room. Which somehow pulled in New York’s legendary WNEW in all its Make Believe Ballroom glory whenever the clouds provided a decent enough bounce for the AM signal. My parents were musicians with ties to the big band era and Broadway musicals. WNEW played The Great American Songbook.  William B. Williams and his fellow hosts made even commercials interesting. I listened well into the overnight – (Remember Al “Jazzbo” Collins?) pulling my little radio under the covers so my mother wouldn’t hear. Once it was dark out and the daytime stations were gone from the airwaves, the signal was often as clear as if it were coming from next door.

Beyond my own little radio, we had a big old standup radio (like the one above) in the foyer of our apartment. In the back was a shelf for a long ago junked “victrola”. But in the front was a magic dial.  2 of them actually. One selected the radio band. Short wave, medium wave, local. The other slid the selector across the dial. When the radio was set in short wave, all kinds of foreign languages flooded in. Medium wave usually brought in stations from the West coast – unimaginably far away to a little girl who had never been further from Boston than New Hampshire. And if I was allowed to stay up late enough I could sit crosslegged on the floor in front of that radio and hear broadcasts of the remaining big bands from the few 40’s style ballrooms still standing. Pure magic.

When I was 14 I talked a small Boston radio station into broadcasting a weekly show hosted by me and my locally well-known pianist father. It was a clash of generations.  I played my teenage music; he played his swing era, Boston Pops favorites.  I think it lasted for at least a year. The first of several weekly radio shows I talked that station into broadcasting – all built around music.  Then I discovered jazz and in college did shows for the 2 college owned FM radio stations in Boston. And as many of you know, I eventually spent 10 years as a CBS Radio Network news correspondent until I migrated to TV news.

Now in my car, I too listen to satellite radio. Mostly the audio of the TV news channels. I feel like a traitor. But when something big happens, when there are major snow storms or high winds or floods I fall back on AM radio.  When I need a traffic report I switch between the 3 news stations which have them (Sirius’s is always very out of date).  WAZE is useful but somewhat distracting when you’re driving. Traffic and weather together on the 8’s. Or the 11’s. Or the 5’s are still a commuter’s best friend. Along with the top local stories.

There has been talk of radio’s death for decades. It’s always survived. But the Millenials and Gen Y think radio is preceded by Apple. And they’ll be running things soon. Most local radio stations are now just automated clones, owned by a couple of giant companies loaded with debt and interested only in extracting whatever revenue they can to make their quarterly reports look better for Wall Street.  The CBS radio stations and the network which distinguished them may soon be among that group.

I love the new tech. I live on my iPhone and iPad. I try tons of new apps. But when I need to know what is breaking right now I turn on the radio.  Or, if I’m anywhere but in the car or at home I stream from a radio app. Real radio app.

Some day – when real radio has been destroyed and a huge hurricane knocks out the power for weeks as Sandy did almost four years ago – we’ll need local radio to hold communities together and tell a frightened public where to go for food and shelter and help. But radio will be gone. And there won’t be anything to replace it. Because without power, the internet and broadband won’t work. And even the battery-backed-up cell towers fail after days with no electricity.

Good luck world.

Dispatch from a Boeing 777-200ER

I’m flying home. From Prague to New Jersey. Connecting though Paris. Pretty normal. Done it many times. Ok – it’s never exactly fun. Security checks, passport controls, crowded waiting areas and fully booked planes. With just enough legroom between seats for a mouse to sit comfortably. You know – the usual nightmare.

But no. Not today. Today we have a specially-created French nightmare. An air traffic controllers’ strike. A suddenly called one day strike in solidarity with and for the same reasons as the same one day strike by French transport unions on the Metro and railways. Because French President Hollande wants to change the country’s cushy work rules which bloat the government’s budget and make hiring, firing and doing business in France more difficult than in the rest of Europe. Ergo: France is strike central. Even more than it’s always been. The air controllers have been on strike a total of 43 days since 2009 including their last 2-day walkout just over a week ago. Both during the extra busy Easter holiday/spring break travel period.

Where is Ronald Reagan when you need him.

Eventually my husband and I get to Paris. Two hours late. Of course missing our connecting flight from Paris to Newark International Airport. But all is not lost. I still have plenty of data left on my Czech iPhone package. And before that delayed flight from Prague even starts loading @Delta Assist on Twitter has us rebooked on a 5pm Air France flight to JFK. Somewhat out of the way but at least we’ll get home tonight instead of sleeping in the airport.

So we get on the JFK flight. Almost on time. And what do we see after walking through the spacious business class section? The 3-4-3 seating configuration I had just read about on new or retooled Boeing 777-200 planes. Translation – there is always a middle seat instead of the normal 2-4-2  or 2-5-2 seating used for decades on international flights. Giving airlines an extra 20 or so revenue producing seats per plane. 7 hours in a middle seat. Oh no!

Boeing 777-200 3-4-3 seating in coach

Oh yes. But this time it actually works in our favor. In the back of the plane – where it narrows – even Boeing can’t squeeze in that 3rd seat. So there are 3 rows with just 2 seats on either side of the 4 middle seats. With a little elbow room between the window and the seat and a few inches more leg room. Ok they’re next to the bathrooms. But here’s the thing. These are PREMIUM seats in tourist class. Because all the other seats are now even worse. We got them because they weren’t sold and the plane was otherwise full. Lucky us!

Until the average size guy in front fully reclines his seat into my lap. He speaks good English so I politely ask him to recline only halfway. I mean – we haven’t even had dinner yet! He looks at me like I came from another planet and says with annoyance, “but I have the right to put my seat back”. Yes I say in so many words – but – there isn’t much legroom and it would be polite if you didn’t. He looks at me, basically says F you without the F, and then fully reclines his seat back. His female partner gives my husband a break and pulls up a bit.

Maybe this guy actually paid extra for that seat in the 2 seat row ahead of ours. Maybe not. But his mother must have never taught him about consideration for others in a tightly packed world. Or maybe he was just born with the “entitled” gene like so many others of his generation.

Of course one can argue – and I do – that it’s really the airlines’ fault. They decided to extract every penny of revenue from their hapless passengers some years back. And of course it’s paid off royally with some of the best earnings in years in 2015 as they unapologetically kept every penny of the windfall from lower jet fuel prices instead of cutting ticket prices the way they raised them when oil went through the roof. And as they kept shrinking seat sizes and leg room over and over to squeeze another row or two of seats into the configuration. So shouldn’t the airlines also be cutting the recline angle drastically on that smaller seat back? When someone like the jerk in front of me fully reclines – he’s literally in my lap. Try eating when the food is hitting your waist! (He left his seat back ¾ reclined even during dinner!) I can’t even get up from the seat to go to the (very) nearby bathroom. And this is even with a few inches more legroom in these “premium” seats!

So OK you say. You didn’t pay extra for the seats, you’ll get home by midnight and life could be a lot worse. You are so right. But. Your rights (and those of the surly passenger in front of me) end where mine begin. Call it Apple against the FBI (before they dropped the case). When rights clash each person (or entity) has to give a little. That’s how most of us in democratic nations manage to live together without killing our neighbors.

Chip Payment Cards

Chip Payment Card
Chip Payment Card

I started this blog post months ago. Well before the 2015  holiday season. Well after the October 1st deadline when all retailers were supposed to have installed the new chip payment card readers. And banks were to have sent them out to replace all magnetic stripe only credit and debit cards. These payment cards were supposed to ensure better security from point-of-sale data thefts like the 40 million credit cards compromised at Target terminals in 2013. When a new study came out this week about chip card compliance – I decided to update my original draft.

And incredibly – there’s not much to update.  Because there’s not much compliance.

I was prompted to write about the chip cards originally because I couldn’t find any major retailer in my heavily populated part of New Jersey using them. It started with Ikea.  Part of a huge international chain. I pulled out my new credit card with the embedded chip. “Have you activated the technology?” I asked the woman checking me out. “Not yet,” she said. Swipe it the old way.”

A few days later I bought a few things at my local Target. I recognized the chip card reader and asked again, “are you using the chip reader?” “Not activated yet,” the cashier replied. Target! Almost exactly 2 years after that huge data breach occurred. Another holiday season was nearly here — and nothing had changed. It wasn’t until well after the holidays that the chip card readers were finally working.

Last Saturday at my local Shoprite supermarket I asked, as I have each week since early October, if the chip card readers which have been there since then are working yet. You can guess what the answer was.

And it’s not just here in New Jersey.  I was in northern Florida a few weeks ago. The cashiers at the chain retailers looked like I came from another planet when I asked if they were using the chip card yet.

I have hit a few stores where inserting the new card works. The Rite Aid stores for example. But the technology is buggy. You have to push the card all the way in until you hear a click.  Then you have to wait. And wait. And wait while the sale is processed. I keep hearing dial up modem sounds in my head. At least I think they’re only in my head.

No federal agency seems to be enforcing the chip card deadline. Or the fines which were supposed to go with that deadline. And even at this late date — the major merchants and the big card-issuing banks seem to be doing a war dance around each other.  You can forget about the small retailers. Some of them, like gas stations, have another year to comply anyhow.

Of course even if a store is actually using  it’s new chip card reader – you’ll need the new payment chip card to use in it. I actually had to request a chip card replacement from the too-big-to-fail bank issuing one of my airline-branded credit cards. The bank was (and is) waiting until the card’s far ahead expiration date to replace my old magnetic strip card — and millions of others.

CNBC reports less than half of American businesses have adopted the chip card technology. Actually just 37 percent according to a Strawhecker survey.

One reason there seems to be no urgency is cost. The banks didn’t (and don’t) want to pay for new technology and the cost of replacing perfectly good payment cards.  And the merchants don’t want either the cost or the hassle of dealing with new systems.

And there’s another problem.  The most secure technology right now is called chip and PIN.  It’s what Europe and much of the world uses.  Instead of a signature with a credit card, the customer keys in a pin number — just as with debit cards.  But here in the US the banks didn’t want to pay for another level of security. And the merchants have already spent billions to upgrade a system which cuts down only on basic card fraud. That helps banks which generally have to eat the charges run up on stolen credit cards.  Chip and pin would help retailers stop fraud right at their terminals – which stores themselves themselves have to pay for – by making it easier to verify customers.  And oh yes — while all this back and forth between banks and retailers has been going on — the banks have also raised the interchange fees they charge stores to hook up to their networks.  Making merchants even less willing to buy into the chip-card system.

Bottom line – no one seems to be rushing to adopt the chip technology. And by the time they do – it may be outdated.  At least one payment card system – MasterCard – is looking to replace passwords for on-line banking with selfies. How long before that or some other kind of facial recognition becomes the I.D. of choice at your local Walmart too?

Starbucks New Rewards

I got an email today. From Starbucks. Dear Stephani it read. We’re going to give you what you want.  More stars. Starting in April.

OK. Sounds good. More stars = more free food = faster Gold status (which is what GIVES you the free food. And drinks).

Now it’s no secret I love Starbucks coffee.  Although I don’t love much of their food and I really don’t love the overly sweet, overly caloric cakes and brownies and such. Beyond the banana bread which thankfully was retained when Starbucks bought another bakery a while back and changed all the snack food.

Well – back to my email. So now, says Starbucks, I’ll earn 2 stars for every $1 spent on coffee, food, mugs etc. Well that’s way better than 1 star a visit isn’t it? The email says it’s the #1 request from members — stars based on what you buy. $$ you spend.

I kept reading. There must be a catch somewhere. Big successful companies don’t just give things away on a regular basis. And of course — they won’t.

Now I get one star per visit. And a star for each package of Starbucks coffee I buy at the supermarket. I can just buy a basic grande coffee or maybe splurge (calorically) on a cafe mocha with whipped creme. 30 coffees or  – say – 25 coffees and 5 bags of packaged coffee and I have 30 stars.  And I’m gold for another year. Then I need just 12 stars earned any which way – for a reward. One free ANYTHING in the store I can eat or drink.  As many rewards a year as I can earn.

In April I’ll need 300 stars to make Gold. And 125 stars for that free reward. It will take much longer to get there buying just one coffee per visit. So obviously Starbucks is gambling that it’s loyal customers will spend a lot more on food now to reach the gold levels faster. Hey – Starbucks hopes you will say — let’s have a Starbucks sandwich for breakfast or lunch instead of going to McDonald’s. Making Starbucks’ lagging food products more popular. Boosting revenue. Making Wall Street happy.

Who could ask for anything more?

Apple, Hillary and Change

I was going to write about the Apple controversy. And how CEO Tim Cook’s refusal to roll over and let the FBI tell him to create a backdoor to Apple’s vaunted iPhone encryption is a classic clash between two great rights – privacy and national security. I was going to add in antivirus software founder John McAfee’s post volunteering his band of hackers to break just the one iPhone in question –used by one of the San Bernardino killers. I was going to say that like many people, I don’t really know who is right. Which right has to give way for the greater good. And which right IS the greater good in this case. And finally I was going to add how I certainly don’t want any person or entity or agency or government to have the key to what’s in my own iPhone.

But tonight – listening to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton make her victory speech in the Nevada caucuses – I decide to leave the Apple controversy for another, longer day. Because Clinton, mentioning how important small businesses and entrepreneurs were to the overall need to create good jobs, made me think about something central to this Presidential election. How do we create enough GOOD jobs for all the angry people left behind by the technological revolution? And all the young people who’ll need good jobs in the future?

You can’t turn everyone into an IT code writer. Or doctor. Or lawyer. Or basketball player. Or musician. Not everyone can graduate from high school with advanced placement credits. Or sail through college with a huge loan right into that great new high tech world. It isn’t just lack of the right education at the primary and secondary level. It’s interests. It’s native abilities. It’s caring about something enough to make it and you a success.

Almost everyone has something they really care about. Something they’d spend long hours learning about and doing. And I think many of those interests and abilities can be turned into small businesses.  Which may be where to find the good jobs we need.

In the small suburban towns where I live, Main Streets are alive again with all kinds of little stores and businesses.  Many women with kids find they can develop home-based businesses around something they always did for pleasure. Like making gloriously good cupcakes.

Maybe the entrepreneur part comes in when you look around and identify a need you can fill with your business and knowledge. Maybe we can foster this way of looking at the world and your place in it if we start early enough in school. And maybe we can use the internet to reach the older worker who’s stuck in a town where the industry has gone away. Even without broadband at home, everyone who can drive to a connected library (and most are) can have the benefit of an online career counselor. And basic courses. And whatever else might work.

Small businesses are the job engines of our world. Ask any economist. Maybe instead of making all these empty, grandiose promises, our political candidates this year might look around at the people who come to their rallies –and develop some targeted business programs aimed at them. Because if a small, one person business is successful, it will hire someone else. And someone else.

 

Maybe Print Isn’t Dead After All

I have one foot in the print world and one in the digital one.

The Real Thing

I still get my New York Times delivered every morning. But I usually read it on my iPhone or iPad, since a print subscription gets me through the digital pay wall.  My magazines are still piled in somewhat dusty stacks in the living room. But when I DO read them (again – print buys digital) it’s mostly on the iPad.  You get the drift.

I also read most of my books on my Kindle app. Currently I have maybe 10 in varying stages of consumption. I like the freedom to “carry” my weightless books wherever I go.  I read one entire book last summer on my iPhone during daily Prague Metro trips.

Digital is always there. Especially when you’re always on the go. But news apps and e-books have to compete constantly with Facebook and Twitter and all the other social media apps you carry along. Which can – and DO –  suck up all the air in the room. Or time in your life.  Note I said I read ONE book last summer. And that only because there’s no wifi connection underground.

I am not alone in this discovery, apparently.  The US Census Bureau data just released this week show that bookstore sales rose by 2 and a half percent last year — the first such increase since 2007! In fact, e-book sales fell in 2015 — while old fashioned print sales rose.  For many  –  that pile of  books on the kitchen table still seems to compel us to pick one up and retire with it to the couch.

Fact is — much as I love my digital print apps – when a newspaper is sitting in front of me, I can save one or two of the sections to read later. Which can be a lot harder to do with constantly refreshing digital content burying the older stories. You can say news is meant to be read immediately. And you’d be right. But there’s a lot which passes for news these days which can wait a few days. Just ask the geniuses at Twitter who are trying to destroy the much loved chronological timeline tweet feed in favor of Facebook-like, algorithm-chosen “most important” tweets.

As for magazines – unless I’m traveling – I tend not to read the digital versions — even after I’ve diligently downloaded them, chuckled approvingly at Time’s digital front page (which always comes together in ways weird and wonderful) and left one open at a video extra on my iPad as an incentive. The real thing is so much easier to leaf through, gulp down a thought or column or photo — and move on.

So I live in a world where print and digital mesh. Somewhat seamlessly. A kind of Never Land for pre-Millenial generations. Flexible. As portable as I want to make it. Always available anywhere in any form.

Right now I’m going to grab the Science Times section of today’s print version of the Times and read a few stories. While I eat a greasy, mayonnaise loaded tuna sandwich. Try that on the iMedia glass screens. You’ll never get them clean.

 

 

The Presidential Candidates and Me

Podium before GOP Debate Las Vegas
Podium, Las Vegas (AP Photo/John Locher)

Oh. You didn’t ask what I think about the current political scene? Well that’s certainly never stopped me.

In the wake of the latest GOP presidential candidate debate on CNN – the one on foreign policy and homeland security – I’m thinking of going into deep hiding. The rest of the 2016 presidential race  – only just getting started really with the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary coming up in February – should be a doozy.

And it’s not just the Republicans.  I’m not exactly thrilled by anyone who’s running on either side. I’d like to see a third party.  Drawing from the country’s majority moderates. And supporting  less “required” dogma for the parties’ base.

The problem as I see it is the whole primary system. It encourages what we’re seeing in the GOP – a lot of outrageous, “I’m in charge”  comments with no real actionable  policies behind them. Senator Rand Paul – the Libertarian – sometimes seemed the only reasonable voice in the tough-guy babel. Mildly pointing out that one candidate after another would violate the Constitution. Or take us into World War 3.

On the Democratic side – there’s Senator Bernie Sanders. With his well-meaning but costly and unrealistic ideas which have never worked. It’s unfortunate but the relatively unskilled jobs paying middle class wages – beloved by the unions – are not coming back. Nor are the big corporations going to stop combining and getting bigger. What can happen is better, more targeted education for today’s young people. And more targeted retraining for workers left behind in the rush to the internet of things.

That leaves Hillary Clinton. Who seems at this point an overwhelming force headed toward the Democratic presidential nomination. Right now – paired against any of the likely GOP candidates – Clinton is the only candidate on either side who has the real world experience to (perhaps) deal with the highly complicated mess the world seems to be in now. She’s been in the White House, she’s been a Senator, she’s been Secretary of State.  Of the Republicans, only Senator Marco Rubio seems to have any understanding of the world outside the US. He sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. And at least from what I’ve heard in debates and interviews he seems to be highly  intelligent.  Once he gets past the primaries controlled by the evangelicals and tea party  types –  he might come up with some reasonable ideas.

No Republican is going to stray far from the party line on macro issues like guns, abortion, education, immigration (total reform of which may be beyond any politician) etc. But I’m much more concerned with geo-politics and the migration crisis. How to deal with China’s rising prominence. How to handle Russia – who’s seeming “Leader for Life” Vladimir Putin is perhaps the most dangerous man on the planet right now. And of course how to destroy ISIS.  Before it completely destroys the Middle East.

Unfortunately ISIS or its successor (and until the core problems of the Middle East are solved there will be a successor) will keep radicalizing some Muslim citizens of countries like France, Belgium, Britain and the US as long as we – the dominant society – make those other citizens feel like outsiders. And having a presidential candidate talking about registering all US  members of the Muslim faith and closing the gates to all other Muslims doesn’t help.

Internal (homeland) security is not why I will ultimately vote for a candidate. We’ve been living with this same  threat since 9/11.  Actually well before but intelligence agencies were (and maybe still are) incapable of connecting the dots. It always takes something bad to wake us up.

I’m really afraid some of these issues are just unsolvable. By anyone in the West. How you get the Saudis and Iranians to agree to actually do something constructive about the Middle East?

No, you didn’t ask what I think. But I’m as angry as everyone else. And as afraid as everyone else. And I’m mostly afraid we’re about to have a Presidential election season which can only make everything worse.

 

 

Paris Attacks – Friday the 13th

photo of Paris Police at hospital from Daily Telegraph -UK
Paris from The Telegraph – UK

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything here. Travel, home remodeling, work, inertia. You know. I was finally about to write a couple of news-based stories on Friday.

And then came Paris. Those horrendous, inhuman, coordinated attacks against perfectly ordinary people. Who went to dinner or for a glass of wine or to a concert. And never came back. Like those thousands of people on 9-11 here in New York City who went to work in the Twin Towers. And never came back.  Or the Russian tourists who flew toward home from Sharm el Sheikh last month. And never came back.

I’ve spent a lot of time this weekend reading and listening as the experts explain how ISIS developed and why Paris and the nation of France was, has been and will be again targeted. Much of it makes sense. But it’s been said before and still ISIS grows, recruiting often well educated young men – and some women – from every country where Muslim people live. Working painstakingly through the internet and messaging apps where intelligence agents can’t as easily follow. It’s seems quite clear that the  carnage will not be limited to the Middle East and France.

As for all the reasons and explanations — in the end… what’s done is done. We can’t undo it. Can’t rerack the disastrous war in Iraq. Or the intelligence inadequacies never corrected after the Cold War ended. As I am fond of telling myself when I feel trapped  – it is what it is.  We the civilized nations can only try to devise a strategy to deal with what we now see. I am not wise enough to know what that strategy should be. I only know half measures won’t work now and didn’t work then. They never do of course. Senator Lindsey Graham – running almost invisibly for the GOP Presidential nomination – wants to bomb ISIS into smithereens. Well actually he wants to solve every foreign quagmire that way. Others talk of feet on the ground, safe zones, education, integration — too many ideas to list them all. Maybe they all have some value. But we don’t have the time.  That was lost in the years we allowed ISIS and the civil war between the Sunnis and Shiites to grow. Something big has to be done right now. Immediately. Not just by us, the US, but by all nations who value our (relatively ) free way of life.

And what about the migrant crisis spawned by Syria’s inner battles? I haven’t even mentioned that. But with one of the Paris terrorists possibly coming through Greece, then Serbia and other Balkan states with the river of migrants – using what authorities now say may be a fake Syrian passport with a fake name and then moving on to France — what now?

These questions and issues are what the presidential candidate debates on both sides should be focused on. Along, of course, with President Obama and the current Congress who have the unenviable burden of doing something. Now. The West needs a leader. Some country has to produce one. It should be us.

 

 

 

Come Fly With Me

Dillon SC County Airport
Dillon SC County Airport

At the end of an I-95 exit ramp in South Carolina, just across from Missy’s One Stop, sits The Dillon County Airport. When my husband and I first saw it several years ago it was forlorn and forgotten.  Single runway rutted, runway lights broken, rusted tower with a battered old beacon light. There were a couple of old white trailer buildings with a faded “Airport Office” sign on one. And a dirt track winding through planted fields to the Dillon Motor Speedway. A relic of a past when much of America was tied together by tiny air strips and tinier flying machines.

I looked up the airport on the  FAA’s website. It was still an active airport as far as the FAA was concerned.  But I doubt a plane had landed there in a decade or more.

We came back a year later.  The airport looked even more abandoned. And the trailer buildings were gone.

Then – a small miracle. We came back in 6 months and the runway was newly tarred and striped. New runway lights were catching the sunlight.  And -OMG – an old Cessna 172 was sitting on the taxiway. It had a few rivets missing from the cowling and a paper map sitting on the passenger seat and looked pretty much unchanged from the 172 which I learned to fly (in case the pilot had a heart attack) when I did traffic reports in college.

3 months later – the 172 was still in the same place. It looked as if it hadn’t moved in years. And maybe never would.

Then this week we took our usual walk down the little road paralleling the runway. And there – high above us – was a brand new light with all the new electrical connections needed to make it a proper rotating airport beacon.

Cessna and Beechcraft
Cessna and Beechcraft

And even more amazing… a second small plane sat near the runway. An old Beechcraft. Looking slightly more as if it had actually flown there.  A brand new windsock soared bravely near the refurbished runway.

Our little county airport was alive! Never mind the reason (yes I know I’m a reporter and supposed to be pinning that down). It may have been simply, as one source suggested, that the FAA threatened to stop providing the county with maintenance money unless there really was some maintenance.  It doesn’t matter now.

So hop in your flying machine and fly in  – now that you won’t land in a rut. Walk across the road to Missy’s. Savor a good Southern, home-cooked meal.

Airport Cotton Field, Dillon
Airport Cotton Field, Dillon

Then walk it off in the cotton field just behind the airport- on the sandy path which still leads to the Dillon Speedway.

Update From I-95

On the Road Again
On the Road Again

On the road again. Cats quiet in their travel box behind us. Frank driving, me reading, sun finally up, cloudless blue sky. And oh yeah — I’ve been getting freeze warnings from NOAA in my iPhone for every town we hit in New Jersey!! With temps around 27! In a 2 day cold snap – I guess that’s not surprising.

In a few hours I’ll call the pet friendly hotel in Dillon where we always stay to make a reservation. Tomorrow we’ll have our favorite breakfast at Missy’s. Maybe doing these same things would be boring to others but to me there’s a reassurance in continuity. Every 3 or 4 months we touch the bases. You don’t get old if you follow your curiosity to new experiences. But you also don’t get old if nothing ever changes.