Wow, this looks cool. Autonet mobile is essentially a carrier-agnostic wireless router designed for cars or hotel rooms. $80-100/month for a broadband router, not just a contract-based card. Sweet!

Date posted: January 31, 2008 | Filed under productivity, shortlinks | Comments Off on Autonet Mobile Broadband

Strange switch

In a quiet rest stop somewhere between Baltimore and Columbus, I found this switch hidden behind the door as I washed my hands. I’d like to know how we could get this installed in our bathroom so we don’t have to clean it.

Date posted: January 30, 2008 | Filed under humor | Comments Off on If Cleaning Required.

Oh, god, this is comedy frickin’ genius.

Date posted: January 29, 2008 | Filed under humor, shortlinks | Comments Off on Fail.

Given the fact that I spent most of three days in the back of a van or freezing my ass off in a windswept field in Ohio, I didn’t get to practice much this past week. Knowing that I had ground to make up, and wanting to avoid the old, familiar shame of being in a music lesson unprepared, I spent a couple of hours working the first three fingers of my left hand numb to the bone yesterday and today.

My teacher was kind, and I actually did make it all the way through “Peaceful Easy Feeling” with only a few hiccups. His words were encouraging, and I didn’t feel like I was wasting his time—or mine. So we moved on to the next song, “Boys Better”, and I continued to fumble around the quick G-D-A change, unable to keep up. I’ve got the rhythm but the change is still too fast. We then moved on to the chorus, which is a counterpoint to the verse—all power chords instead of the clean, proper chords I’ve been learning. So I got my first lesson in “Smoke On The Water” and “Iron Man”, and put that knowledge to good use as we worked on the song.

And, playing it through slowly, for the first time, I felt like I could actually learn this damned thing.

On the way out I had the nice fellows behind the counter look at the action on the strings; my teacher was amazed at how high they were (thereby forcing me to work much harder to play it). I felt mighty sheepish handing over my beginner’s Fender to guys selling guitars worth more than my Jeep, but the man who worked on it smiled at me as he turned the key in the truss rod. “No, we’re not going to be mean, because when you’re ready to buy a better guitar, we want you to buy it from us.”

There’s a bit of inspiration in those words; I’d like to be worthy of a handmade guitar someday.

Date posted: January 29, 2008 | Filed under music | Comments Off on Guitar Lesson, Week 4.

Huh, I just passed the 1,000 mark on Flickr with the picture of Jen rubbing her uncle’s head.

Date posted: January 29, 2008 | Filed under humor, shortlinks | Comments Off on Flickr Milestone

We gathered around the gravesite, huddled under a small blue tent with three open sides, waiting for the priest to finish the final part of the ceremony, and all I could think was didn’t he already go over this stuff in the church? Seriously, I think we asked the Lord three times to hear the same prayer.

This marks the second funeral I’ve been to in Ohio in January, and it wasn’t any warmer this year. Ohioans are a strange bunch, too—when all sensible out-of-state visitors have returned to the heating vents in their vehicles, coaxing blood back into their extremities, Ohioans stand around the gravesite chatting like it’s an afternoon in August.

Pet Rest

They are kind, too. They will open up their church on a Sunday Saturday afternoon and cook a huge meal for a frostbitten family, load our plates with food, offer us freshly brewed coffee, and provide a table of desserts loaded to the breaking point. They understand that doughnuts are an important part of the grieving process, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Date posted: January 27, 2008 | Filed under family | Comments Off on Well, I Went Back To Ohio.

Ken Hoover, RIP
Photos by Shannon Bishop

We just got word last night that Jen’s uncle passed yesterday after a long bout with cystic fibrosis.

I didn’t personally know him very well, but the few times I did get to spend time with him, I enjoyed his company. He was a big man but he gave off a gentle vibe, and he smiled almost constantly, telling stories on Jen when she was younger with a twinkle in his eye. I’m told he loved a good party, and in true fashion, after a long night of laughter and fun, he left our wedding late with slurred speech and a six-pack of beer in his hand.

Ken Hoover, RIP

Date posted: January 24, 2008 | Filed under family | 3 Comments »

How did I miss this? Maryland scraps touchscreen voting systems. Our governor gets a bad rap, but this is definitely a good thing.

Date posted: January 22, 2008 | Filed under politics | Comments Off on Maryland Scraps Touchscreens.

[expletive deleted] D chord.

I went in last week very rusty (not a whole lot of practice) and came out embarrassed, but my teacher is kind and went easy on me. I’ve had some more time this week to get the repetitive muscle memory working, but it turned out that dyslexic Bill had gotten the first and second fingers wrong on the D chord. So I had to unlearn and relearn it, which has been problematic. My first and second fingers are all about the chords, and are like two soldiers fresh out of boot camp, ready to snap at attention. My third finger was on the special bus and missed the drills, so it’s confused by all of this moving around. It wants to get in the way or lay down for a nap, muffling the other strings and messing it up for everybody. Playing the G chord is easy for everyone, and the third finger is happy to go to the right place, but every time it has to go back to D it all falls apart.

I’ve gone through the progressions ad nauseum for the last couple of days, and I still can’t get it clean. Arrggh!

Date posted: January 22, 2008 | Filed under music | Comments Off on Guitar Lesson, Week 3

Shiny New Toy

I went ahead and did it, even though a chorus of voices in my head told me not to spend the money. The Apple Store was a zoo last night at 5:30, and I had to wait around a while for a concierge to see me standing in line behind a flock of interesting people:

Hipster Dude and Friend, who sat idly at the otherwise empty workshop desk playing with Photoshop, checking out the chicks across the store,

Obsessive Compulsive iMac Man, who unpacked and packed and unpacked and packed an iMac about six times in front of the Genius Bar, standing directly in the way of any tech who tried to come out to the showroom floor,

Tiny iPhone Girl, who walked in expecting to talk to someone immediately about something, and when faced with the idea of making an appointment, blinked no less than seventeen times while the shiny perfumed gears in her head crashed together in an attempt to make a decision,

Screamy iPod Return It NOW Woman, who kept throwing an old Shuffle on the iPod Bar and yelling at the tech, who calmly repeated the store policy about reservations five times while she huffed and wheezed and screamed and interrupted someone else’s reservation, causing all of us other people to roll our eyes and stare plainly.

Once I caught the young concierge’s eye, and told her quietly that I’d like an iPhone, we did a dance around the screamy woman and all the other people sitting at the Bar to complete the transaction, and I got the hell out of there.

Setup was a breeze, and it took minutes to sync up with my calendars and address book, as well as my Safari bookmarks. It’s a beautiful piece of gadgetry, really—the first time the phone, iPod and Palm have come together in one package to be useful. I think I’m going to be very happy with it.

Date posted: January 22, 2008 | Filed under geek | 2 Comments »