Monday, December 28, 2009

What is the cost of unlimited phone service?

Sometime ago I came to a crisis point where my phone plan was getting in the way of what I needed to do in life. When I spoke to the phone company because I'd been with them for quite a number of years they offered me unlimited service for ten dollars a month more than I was paying them a month. Historically I almost never went over my allocated peak minutes. Then again I watched my usage like an owl tracking prey at night. The crisis involved helping my sister deal with some things back home in Colorado and quickly set a torch of my allocation of minutes for the month.

It was worth it I thought to pay the extra ten dollar a month not to have to panic if my usage went over again, so I quickly accepted my carriers offer.

Today while suffering the limitations of chatting with a friend online, she wondered if we knew each other well enough to exchange phone numbers. I met her through reading her blog, added her as a friend on Facebook and until today we were more or less electronic friends. But I felt like I knew her well enough, and have developed a respect for her that I sent my number to her straight away as my reply. Seconds later the phone rang. As we hung up after a time of chatting it dawned on me, this was the best part of unlimited phone service. Enjoyed talking with my friend free from the worries of peak minutes or off peak, what plan I was on, what network and so forth. What is the cost of unlimited phone service? It's priceless!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Luxury, Tithing and Carbon Footprint.

I have a new definition of "luxury" these days. Luxury is making bread often enough to intentionally give ten percent of it to the local wildlife. On purpose. Luxury is taking part of a loaf of bread I only baked four days ago and throwing it to the birds, squirrels, ducks and deer.

I can go back to sharing some of my bounty, tithing if you will. Instead of handing it to some church that is only likely to use my money to tell people what they CANNOT do, I can return something healthy to the world to help nurture and grow the world from whence my bounty came. Tithing is helping the world and all of God's creatures, not just the upright, bipedal ones.

Minimizing my carbon footprint means the gift of luxury, the cycle of life. Giving something back instead of just taking all the time.

I've wanted a bread machine for years, but I'd not really considered what it could mean in the bigger picture. I wanted it because it would mean less work for me to have it, just push a button and fresh bread on demand without all the time involved, plus I don't have to heat up a whole oven for a single loaf of bread. So I'm saving money all the way around.

For years I've been bitching about the fact that a fresh loaf of bread cost a nickel in 1905 and now a century later is three dollars for something that is already several days old by the time I take out a slice out of the plastic bag and it's traveled hundreds of miles to get to me. In 1905 the ingredients were planted, harvested, ground and made into bread by hand. From there the fresh loaves were usually placed into the window ready for sale, by the same hands that made them, and when sold, were placed into a bag by those same hands. By the time I cut into the loaf at home, the bread was still fresh. Making my own at home made it even fresher. A bit more expensive because of my hard work, but it was much a labor of love.

Over many years between then and now I kept on making my own bread whenever I could because having grown up in a house where fresh bread was a regular commodity and the smell of it baking brings back good memories it was well worth the work. Machinery however replaced all the hard working hands between planting and my table, and I can go into the supermarket and get a loaf of bread that has never been touched by human hands. Machines were supposed to cut costs and improve our life by making things easier and cheaper.

Easier and cheaper? Three dollars? What? Plus the fresh made bread a century ago was made with very few ingredients and NO man made chemicals, fillers, preservatives or whatever else goes into it these days. It's made with ingredients that were shipped hundreds or more miles to be made into bread. It's made by machines, packaged, shipped, even sliced all by machines.

So I make my own when I can, but more and more the time and effort is outside my energy and time level. It's the remembering to punch the dough down, let it rise, do it again and so forth. I know that sounds like a cop out, but given what I'm recovering from, I'm just not ready for the demands making a loaf of bread once a week or so is more than I'm ready for right now.

A bread machine, I put everything in, press some buttons and walk away. When it beeps, the bread is done. And it doesn't have much, or if I buy fully organic ingredients, any artificial ingredients. Plus I can, while it's cooling, slice off a bit, give it a touch of butter and savor the taste right then. No fuss, muss or bother, and it's healthy for me.

So it's kind of a win/win/win situation all the way around. Cheaper, healthier, easier, fresher bread? How can I go wrong. So it dawned on me that giving something back just kinda completes the cycle of life here by nurturing nature some. And you know, that feels good to me. Being part Amerind and having gotten a flavor for the way my ancestors lived the land, giving something back really appeals to me. Plus there's a certain irony, even perhaps justice in feeding bread to the world around me that is fresher than a loaf I could buy in the store.

Because I know that from the time it comes out of the ovens, cools, gets put in bags, loaded onto trays, stacked on carts, loaded into trucks, shipped to the distributer, unloaded and then loaded onto other trucks, shipped to stores, rolled into the store, and finally makes it onto shelves it's already at least four days old. So when I buy it and take it home it's already older than what I'm giving back to the world, so I kinda like that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Who'd have thunk it?

It's 11:57 as I write this. In the morning. Which is why it say 11:57 and not 23:57 which is usually when I stop in. I have another post in the works, but I just thought I'd remark briefly at the wonder of being awake and underway in the day at such an hour. Then again I was in bed by 03:03 for a change instead of 07:30. Yes, I keep time around here in 24 hour notation, more in self defense than anything. Lets me know where in the day I am. Which considering the different places and times I make it to bed, and then wake up, this makes my life easier.

This morning for example I woke in Atlantis. As in the fictional city of Atlantis from the Stargate franchise. Admittedly she's not as far away as she once was, now that she's out in the San Fransisco bay, but still it's nice to wake up someplace I know well and enjoy spending time at. I just lay there for a while, doing some Reiki on myself, enjoying the smell of the ocean and the gentle rolling motion as the entire city rides the ocean currents. Walking around the city on a day to day basis getting things down you don't really have an opportunity to appreciate that this entire city is floating. But laying there in bed meditating, it's impossible to miss. I often notice it sitting in the commissary of the library, just enjoying a cup of tea and savoring the peace. So waking up there this morning was a welcome change of pace.

Fell back to sleep briefly, I mean how could I not, lulled as I was. And woke up back here in Ohio. Just on the early side for me. So I thought I'd do something different and get my day started. For my next trick, I think I'm going to have some lunch, around lunch time for a change!

Yes, I know, and overall boring entry with nothing major going on, but you know, sometimes these are good too. I mean if my life was constant deep thoughts and crisis I'd probably lose my mind. Again. After all, that's what did it the last time. So I hope this finds you all well and hopefully having a peace filled day yourselves.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Droid does? Oh yeah, Droid DOES!

So the media has been having a ball with Droid and what it does. Verizon has been marketing the hell out of it's new Droid phone. All the new commercials about what Droid does, the smart phone gone just over the board into magic. Ask your phone to find something and it tells you who to get there? Yeah, that's GPS. They've been around for a while. However there's a piece of high tech hardware you have to program, load with maps and data, learn to use, and then pay attention to the little screen when it beeps and tells you with text on the tiny screen to turn to make it all work. I know, I had one, and honestly it was a bunch of work to, well, make it work. In the end, it really wasn't worth all the time and effort I had to pour into it to make it work. In that regard, it wasn't a hammer.

A hammer? How the heck did we get from advanced technology to hammers?

Well I'm a simple country girl. Really, grew up in farm country, stopped eating Chicken for a goodly while when I was a child because I made the connection to my little friends vanishing and food on the table. A hammer is a simple device that does something really well. It drives nails, and in the case of a clawfoot, pulls them out. That's what it does. Simple, straight forward and
effective. Bigger nails? Get a bigger hammer. It is a very simple idea, a tool that works and doesn't need an advanced science degree. A Hammer does.

When I was growing up in the country, we had a box on the wall, that you checked first to make sure no one else in the neighborhood was using, and then you made your call. That's all it did.

Back in the early eighties, I got my first portable phone that was wireless. Big brick of a thing that fit in either a big shoulder bag, or could be mounted in your car. Pick it up, dial, if you've got coverage, the call goes through and the rates were insane. But it was a phone. The shoulder bag? Well my purse with all it's crap in it is way smaller and lighter than my first cell phone. But it worked great as a phone and that was what mattered.

So now I have this tiny little phone that is something right out of Star Trek Next Generation, and happens to be a "Droid" phone. So today I decided I'd see just how close to reality the commercial was. After all, we all know how advertisers can, shall we say, embelish things? So,
first, for those who've not yet seen it, here's a quick clip from Verizon talking about their Droid phone and how it finds things:

So my question of course was how much of this is real, and how much marketing hype? I mean I've had a GPS in the car for quite some time, but it's slightly older, and more work to use than the one in my head. Yes, I know, GPS in her head? What? Is she cybernetic with some sort of top secret scifiesq wet ware jacked into her brain? No, not so much. I just have this scary amazing sense of direction, and an intuitive grasp of things. Plus as a child, having had too much time on my hands and wanting to stay out of trouble, I studied things. Like Maps. I only wish I was kidding. So I can get to pretty much anywhere, from pretty much anywhere, and you can, as my father used to do when I was a child, blindfold me, drive me out into the middle of know where and see if I could find my way home. Anyway, I digress. I wanted to find the nearest branch of my bank to where I was, and wanted my Droid to tell me how to get there. First I should state that I do not have a Verizon Droid.

I have a T-Mobile MyTouch 3G that frankly is much more appealing to my eyes than the Verizon Droid. Softer lines, nicer curves, and a lovely Merlot color. Much, much better. For those less into lines, curves and colors, it comes in jet black, and artic white as well. Plus there's an entire line of "skins and shells" that one can put on it to have it look anyway you want it too. Me, I'm perfectly happy with the way it looks right out of the box. So, Merlot it is. Anyway back to my point, testing to see how good this really was at finding, and then directing me to a place I wanted to go. Because my phone runs exactly the same operating system and all the same software, I saw no reason my Droid should do exactly what the commercial above showed the Verizon Droid doing.

So I hit search, told it to find my bank and hit navigate. Wow. Exactly like the commercial. Turn by turn voice directions, and it even recovered very nicely when I drove right past one of the turns. This was the big issue I'd had with my Garmin GPS. Aside from the fact that every time I wanted to go somewhere I had to hook the Garmin to my computer, load in all the maps, program in the route, and then put it into the car to use it, it was much more user intensive in the field. With the Garmin I had to be watch the screen constantly to see where I was supposed to turn, and the closest to an audible indication I could get to an upcoming change was a beep, and then direction flashing on the small monochrome (and hard to read) screen. When driving a car, not the safest thing in the world to be doing. So the Garmin never really got used for driving directions and could never be used for spur of the moment, find me the closest branch of MY bank. Nope, Garmin could not do that. It didn't know where my bank branches are, that was something I'd have had to program in first. As a hammer, the Garmin failed. Don't even try to consider it a Droid, because a Droid by definition is supposed to be able to do all that for me. Especially given the commercial right?

Well I'm pleased to say as hammers go, this one is a top of the line, chrome plated, Droid! Hit the search button, told it to find my bank, gave me a list of choices closest to me, let me pick one at random, and then took me right to it with voice directions. Periodically I looked at the screen to see what it was showing, but more important was the voice that said "In 1/4 mile turn left onto Linden Blvd" and then as the turn was coming up, "Turn left onto Linden Blvd now" as I was driving along. The big test came when I decided to see just how smart my Droid was and drove right past the turn I was supposed to take. This was another point where my Garmin would get hopelessly flummoxed. I'd be off track and it would have no idea what to do since it wasn't programmed for that. My Droid on the other hand recalculated the route and calmly said "In 1/4 mile make a u turn at Obrien Ave." like nothing had ever happened. Executed the u turn and the Droid informed me I'd now be turning right onto Linden Blvd like nothing at all had happened.

As hammers go? Very, very, smart hammer. Finally a GPS that will really take me where I want to go, even if I have no idea where that is. Later in the day I told it to find my the nearest post office in Indiana. Again no fuss, muss or bother, told it what I wanted and it told me where to go and how to get there. Twice during the journey I specifically made bad turns to see how or if it would recover. As it happened, flawlessly recovered each time without my having to wait while it collected it's whits. During the drive to the post office I happened to come upon a location that my intuition told me was the location of a geocache. I'd not set out to go geocaching that day, and didn't have the detailed cache information with me. No worries, opened a browser (yes, a web browser on my Droid) bulled up the details and set about grabbing, signing, and replacing the cache near a ski resort in Southern Indiana.

Yes, a Ski resort known as Perfect North Slopes right in southern Indiana. Despite not having had any real snow here this season, the snow machines had been working overtime to lay down a nice usable base of fresh snow. Not only did my Droid serve to get me here, but took this image and cropped it down to my specifications to include in this article. Pretty spiffy.

When done sightseeing and geocaching I got back into jumper one, and switched page over to the Navigation screen, patiently waiting for me to continue on my journey. Took me right to the post office now that I was done messing around. Got my stamp, mailed my letter and was back on my way to the rest of my planed activities for the day. Does Droid search for things and then take you there? It does!!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

And she's dreaming again . . .

So last night I had a dream that has stuck with me. I was out wandering around and don't even remember what I was doing at the moment. The part however that stuck with me is I was heading up some stairs and a woman was coming down, as she got close she said "Are Lesbians allowed down here?"

I blinked, looked around and said in some surprise "Of course? Why wouldn't Lesbians be allowed?" as if the thought was (and is) crazy to me.

She said "Well I just wasn't sure if you were leaving because someone was giving you problems?"

I just don't know about a world were people have to live worried that we are somehow less than other people because we are different. I wanted to give her a hug and tell her everything was going to be fine, but I couldn't honestly say that because I have no idea what she'd run into in her life. But it still left me sad she'd even have to think that way. For her to live with any kind of fear is something I can unfortunately can relate to on a deep level. Not so much because I may or may not be a Lesbian, but because I lived so long in fear.

Come to think of it, I have no idea why she asked me. It's not like either one of us look particularly like a Lesbian whatever that might be. Maybe I just looked trustworthy and honest. Oh, right, that's why I loved in fear so long. Ah well, anyway this wasn't really about me. It was about a world where anyone has to live in any kind of fear. Regrettably, it's this one.