Tuesday, June 28, 2016

An experiment

The city we live in is fairly old school. By that I mean things like:

  • We had a big uproar when one neighbor built one of those little lending library boxes in their front yard. Seems that violated some neighborhood by law about putting up structures in the yards. It took some effort to get that nonsense squelched (and the little lending library is still there and I smile every time I drive by it on my way to work). You can read about it here and here.
  • Or this—we were in the first wave of neighborhoods slated to get Google Fiber . . . until Google realized that our lines were built around the same time as all the houses (so mid-50s to mid-60s) and the cost to build out the network was prohibitive. Google said never mind, and all of us who really truly wanted high speed internet not from Time Warner cried and cried.
  • And similarly we don’t have good wireless coverage. Cell towers seem to be on the same no-no list as those lending libraries were. We knew it wouldn’t be great when we moved here but it’s far, far worse than that, and our current carrier (Verizon) is just awful. That’s based on coverage maps and user feedback, not our annoyed anecdotal reports of dropped calls. We don’t have a land line in the house, and don’t want one; you know it’s bad when incoming calls don’t even ring, they just roll straight to voice mail. (You can check your own coverage here if you're interested.)

All of that to say we knew were leaving Verizon and thought we would probably end up back at Sprint because hey if we aren’t going to have great coverage, we can at least pay a lot less for it. I started looking around at Android phones and wow. The current version of our Samsung ones are pricey (although Apple phones are a bit worse). So then I looked at other Android phones, which led me to the Nexus.

And that led me to Google Fi. It’s Google’s mobile offering. It’s cheaper than any of the others, and because it uses both wireless and wi-fi, I think we stand a better chance of having our calls go through.

So that’s our experiment. Our contracts are up with Verizon tomorrow and we are going to give it a try. If it’s wretched, then we’ll go to Sprint—because the really nice thing about the Nexus phones is that they are unlocked and will work on anyone’s network.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Anchors in time

These songs are so firmly intertwined with specific points in my life that when I hear any of them, I’m immediately immersed in the past.

Christopher Cross—any song from his first album but especially Sailing. I was married, pregnant and living in another country and my husband had moved out. I pretty much can’t listen to this album any more because when I hear it, I'm 20 and alone and scared to death.

Michael Jackson—Billy Jean. I was 23, pregnant with my second child and seriously wondered if I was too old to be liking this song and album the way I did. Yeah, at 23.

Supertramp—Breakfast in America. I played this album on auto-repeat all summer that year. I was stationed in New Jersey near the shore, and went there every chance I got. I still know all the words to all the songs.

Andy Hunter—Exodus, especially this song, Go. I got into Andy’s music through Pandora the summer of 2009. Fortunately, his music isn’t tied to us being flooded; instead I found his songs comforting and uplifting without being at all preachy. That’s a hard line to walk.

Fleetwood Mac—Rumors, specifically You Make Loving Fun. My sisters loved the opening bars of this song and that’s what I think of every time I hear it.

Achy Breaky Heart. I know, I know. But I learned to line dance in 1993 to this song, and I had a blast line dancing. I still don’t care for country music though.

Debby Boone—You Light Up My Life. This is a two-fer. I played this song as part of my prepared audition piece when I auditioned for the Army band. Yeah well I was 17, so that explains that. The other reason this one sticks in my head is that I had to sing it at a dear friend’s wedding in the mid-1980s. I’m not sure why my friend wanted that song so much, but she did and so I sang it.

And one final look back. This one is from Atlanta Rhythm Section and I adored this song in high school. Also it's a good palate cleanser after Debby.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Future me will appreciate it

A few months ago, I commented to Kent that “future me will appreciate this” as I finished up some task that could have reasonably waited. He was puzzled so I explained that I used that phrase when I was doing something that could wait but by doing it now, I’d be making things easier in the future—for future me.

Now that phrase is baked into our private language and we use it all the time:

  • When he takes out the recycling the night before trash day
  • After I fill up the water bottle I use to top off the cats’ water fountain so I don’t have to do it in the morning
  • As I pull together probably 90% of my lunch the night before

It’s similar to an idea I read about years ago in the book Messies Manual—if a task takes six minutes or less, it’s a mini task and you can do anything for six minutes so you might as well get it done.

Got any tricks like that that you use, that help future you?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My mother gave me music

And she may not even realize it.

I have vivid memories from my childhood of my mother playing Scheherazade Op. 35.

She, my little brother and I would dance like fiends—she’d told us the story behind the music, so we knew the movements were stories. I especially loved the first movement (The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship) but would dance to all of it.

Being so little, I didn’t know the names of any of the instruments; I remember asking my mother what made that smooth sound, the one that went like so (and I moved my hands back and forth horizontally). I’d never seen a violin, so I didn’t know about bows or strings or anything else. I just knew the sound was smooth.

I didn’t care for the clarinet, but loved, loved, loved the flute—so much so that when I was a little older and could join band, I chose the flute. I didn’t yet know about the oboe and wouldn’t for a few years yet, but I never regretted playing the flute.

Later on, the fact that I knew how to play the flute saved me from having to march with cymbals when my Army band marched in parades—that’s the normal fate of double reed players and I’m here to tell you that cymbals are heavy, boring and hard on the hands. I played piccolo instead, and that was an absolute blast.

Anyway—I don’t know that I would have been so insistent on playing flute without that early exposure to music. Years later, I did much the same thing for my kids and I’ve always wondered if they remember hearing Scheherazade and if it’s as good a memory for them as it is for me.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Feeling tense?

Just look at these two snoozing away last night. Really, I could have said today and it would be nearly as accurate. The only difference is that Wally is asleep on our bed instead of in one of the cat beds on our desks.

In this case, Chloe was off camera on the other side of my desk (which is just to the left of Eddie in the green and brown bed) and also asleep.

This morning's snores are making it hard for me to get going.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Changing the sheets

Is a contact sport in my house.

Eddie cannot resist the sound of sheets getting flung out over the bed. He’ll come running, leap on the bed and start attacking the sheets every which way. He’s a big, long and strong cat, he weighs close to 20 pounds so shifting him off the sheets takes some work.

But he loves tackling the sheets so I can’t get too cranky with him.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

June's cat

I like the expression on this kitty's face--a bit skeptical but still curious.