Mile Marker

Mileage 2.5
Time 3:00 PM
Location Outdoors
Weather Rain

The weather was a bit challenging this weekend at the lake. It rained much of Saturday and most of Sunday limiting our selection of outdoor activities. On Sunday I slept in until almost 10 ( I guess I needed it) and was actually the last one up. The weather was still pretty bad 11am so I decided to get a few miles in before we tried to do any lake activities.

The rain was coming down pretty good during the whole run so I had to be careful on the hills to avoid slipping on the small rivers that were forming. The rain felt good and kept me very cool, but after a while my basketball shorts got so wet they were falling down. It was a bit distracting running with one hand holding up the shorts and the waterlogged shoes so I cut the run short after 2.5 miles instead of the usual 3.3 that the route takes me on.

Next weekend I will come more prepared with the correct shorts. 

Downers Grove Farmers Market 2010

Farmers Market1

I visited our local farmers market this morning and noticed it has grown to twice the size of last year. Although there are twice as many booths as last year there are not twice as many produce/farmers booths. It seems the village is allowing more and more non produce booths to be licensed alongside the produce, flowers and baked goods every Saturday.

Farmers Market2

Today I saw made to order crepes, purses, knife sharpening, a for rent portable barbecue/TV cart, ‘natural’ soft drinks, jewelry and children’s clothing. I don’t know if the village can’t get more types of produce vendors or if they are just trying to diversify, but I am tired of seeing crappy purse vendors at every event I go to. Even my daughters weekend volleyball tournaments have purse booths every weekend. There are plenty of places to buy purses other than the Saturday morning market. I hope this trend dos not continue and we return to what the farmers market should be, a market for farm fresh goods.

I’m Giving Up on AT&T and the iPhone

After many months of deliberation and research, I decided to get rid of my iPhone and go with an Android phone. The biggest reason for this decision was the fact that I cannot make a successful call from within my house on ATT. At one point I was dropping at least 5 calls a day, sometimes more, and that can make you look pretty clueless when trying to speak with customers. I got to the point where I had to use Skype when I was anywhere in my house. That is not so bad, but it make it difficult to roam around and talk which is what I like to do to get the brain moving.

Samsung Smooth

I went to my local Sears and picked up a prepaid Verizon phone just to test the signal in my house. The phone was only $19 which included $10 worth of minutes so I figured that was a small price to pay to test out coverage. The signal was not amazing but at least I had a few bars and could make a call without it being dropped. That confirmed the voice portion and now I needed to test the data coverage.

Verizon offers a 30 day money back guarantee, less a $35 restocking fee and whatever minutes/data you use in the 30 day period. Since I needed to do a true test of data coverage before making the switch, this was an inexpensive way to make sure I was making the right decision.

I did my research and decided on the HTC Incredible running the Android 2.1 operating system. The phone had all the features I wanted and the specs seemed to be fairly future proof even thought there seems to be a new phone coming out every two or three weeks. I only plan on keeping the phone for 12 – 18 months and I don’t see the technology making huge leaps in that amount of time. There also comes a point where you just have to pull the trigger and not obsess if you made the right decision.

htc-incredible

I went to one of the Verizon stores across the street from where my son works to purchase the Incredible. The employees were very nice and informative answering all the questions quickly and accurately on what the process would be to port my numbers and what the total costs would be to make the move. After about 10 minutes of discussion, we ordered the Incredible with a temporary number so I could test without having to port my existing number over to their service. Everything was done in about 15 minutes and I was out the door to return on Wednesday when the phone was scheduled to arrive. Now the fun starts.

The Incredible is an ‘incredibly’ popular phone. It sold out in stores in the first day or two it was available so I should have guesses that a 3 day turnaround for an order was way too aggressive. Sure enough when I called in Wednesday morning to check on the status of the phone I was told it would be 3 weeks before anymore would come in. That was going to throw off my timelines for testing and switching if all went well, so I called my rep and asked her if I could get a temporary phone. Now before I go on, if I had called AT&T and asked for a loaner, I would have been told they don’t do that. I say that with confidence because I have asked that before when one of my phone broke and was quickly turned down. Being an AT&T (Cingular) for more than 15 years you would think I would be treated as a valued customer. Not so much.

My Verizon rep called to check on the status of the phone and said it would not be 3 weeks but could be up to two weeks before I got the phone. She apologized many times for the misunderstanding and said that yes, I could come in today and pickup a temporary Motorola DROID to do my testing with. She would arrange it so I could just switch phones when the Incredible came in and she would  waive the restocking fee for my trouble. Now she did not have to do this but she saw the value in making sure I was satisfied when the company (not her) made a mistake. I stopped in, cancelled the original order and phone number, purchased the brand new DRIOD with a new number and was out the door within 45 minutes. I even got to say hi to Jim Thome who was in the store exchanging his phone.

I have had the phone for five days and I love it. I can make calls in the house without dropping, the data connection is good over 3G and Wi-Fi, and I love turn by turn directions and the Gmail/Calendar integration. I am not doing extensive testing as this will not be a permanent phone, but I feel comfortable with my choice of the Android operating system as my platform of the future. My AT&T billing cycle ends on the 20th of the month, so I decided to pull the trigger and port my number over to Verizon. It was a fairly painless process that was totally automated via phone voice prompts. I was done in about 35 minutes and the number was active on my new phone 10 minutes after that.

The title of this post said I am giving up on the iPhone as well. In dropping AT&T the iPhone is collateral damage, but even if Verizon was to offer the iPhone I would still be moving to an Android based phone as I am kind of sick of the whole locked down, oppressive Apple eco system. Being a tech geek, I want the freedom to put whatever I want on my phone even if I screw it up and have to restore it. I know the risks of doing something non standard and get great satisfaction in learning how to push the boundaries of a device and repair that device if necessary. The iPhone and iPad are great if you just want a simple device and you want to depend on someone else to create the content and the experience for you. I need more control over my device, what I put on it and how I use it. If I want to brick it I should be allowed to do that. If I want to put and ‘unauthorized’ app on it, I want to be able to do that. With the Android OS, I can do all that. It’s funny, Apple is turning into the big brother they claimed to fight in their 1984 commercial.

I am a very happy camper with Verizon. I know I am still in the honeymoon stage and things could change very quickly if hoards of other migrate away from the ‘iDon’tPhone’ and stress the Verizon data network. I will be watching this closely as I move forward but until such a time comes, I think I made the right choice.

More Facebook Privacy Concerns

Every week we seem to hear more about the crazy Facebook privacy (lack of) settings and how most people don’t bother to or know how to check them. I came across an interesting site today that shows just how open your posts can be on FaceBook, if you are not very careful with your settings. Your Open Book scrapes the Facebook site via the search API which was made available by Facebook on April 21, 2010. The kicker is you don’t have to be logged into Facebook to use the search although you do get to see the users full profile if you are logged in when you click on the user.

If you are concerned that your settings are wrong or too permissive, RecalimPrivacy.org has a nice tool that can show you how how public your profile really is.

I have thought about deleting my Facebook account and I am looking for another way to keep in contact with those I have reconnected with. I may end up doing something with my own site with some type of RSS feed and I am closely following the Diaspora Project which is a distributed open source alternative to Facebook. It is in it’s VERY early stages but looks interesting. Now there is no guarantee that these four guys won’t turn evil but I an an optimist and choose to believe that these four guys will choose to do the right thing and listen to the public.

In the meantime I have deleted most of my information off the Facebook site (even though I know it is not gone and Facebook has hundreds of backups of that info for their own use) in an attempt to limit my exposure, in addition to locking down the settings as much as possible.

If you are thinking about quitting and want to make at least a small statement, QuitFacebookDay has popped up on the web to count the users who are pledging the delete their accounts on May 31, 2010.

Are you leaving Facebook?

How Did You Spend Your Saturday?

Homewood ThriftStore 

My son had the weekend off which is very unusual for him. He had been wanting to take me to his favorite thrift store in Homewood so this was a perfect opportunity to do so. We usually go to the Salvation Army store in Downers Grove, but according to Matt, this particular store is about twice as big and has a much better men’s selection. He was looking for a few dress shirts for work and was able to find some nice ones here before.

After only 45 minutes we had three nice dress shirts for him, a Boston Red Sox shirt for my collection, an Angels jersey for his collection, a Princeton baseball cap for me (one of my favorite colleges), two college mugs for a friends collection and finally, a college accounting textbook for his summer school class (that was an unusual find). Once we rung it all up the total cost was under $20. That is less than normal cost of one of the Polo dress shirts we had found. A pretty good day of bargain hunting.

When is the last time you shopped at a thrift store? Have you ever been in one? Which one is your favorite and why?

Changing A Pets Name

As I mentioned in my post last night, we adopted a new rescue pup and we want to change his name to make a clean break from his past into his life with us. By changing the dogs name, you are helping him leave his bad memories behind and are now associating his new name with his new loving home.

The suggestion is to always use the old and the new names together. So you would say his old name in a soft monotone voice followed by his new name in a bit louder and more excited voice. After a few weeks you would continue on with just the new name which he should now recognize as his own. So far the change does not seem to confuse him, but only time will tell if this tactic will be successful with our particular pup.

I have high hopes.

A New Addition To The Family

We added another rescue pup to our family today. We have been looking for a compatible breed for over a month now and finally found what we believe will be a good match for Zeus. Zeus is our 4.5 year old Pug/Dachshund who seems to get along well with other Pugs, Puggles and Dachshunds when we go to the dog park or for walks around the neighborhood.

The pup we found is a 2 year old puggle, but we believe he actually has some Chihuahua in him as well and could even be a Chug (Chihuahua/Pug). Event though he looks like a puggle puppy, he is just too skinny to be an adult puggle.

I look good from this side.                                      I look good from this side too.

At any rate, the two boys have been getting along pretty well so far meaning Zeus is putting up with the new rookie. I think if they were going to kill each other they would have done it in the first couple of hours. The next few days will determine how much hand (paw) holding we need to do with this new guy in order to get him acclimated to our schedule and Zeus’s schedule. According to the foster parents, he did not get to go on long walks with them and Zeus likes his 2 miler every day so we will see how that goes.

The god of thunder must have a sidekick, so we named this one Apollo. He came to us with a different name but all the research I did suggested that it is OK to change the dogs name and can even be beneficial if he comes from a puppy mill or other bad background.

Welcome home Apollo.

Today I Feel LOST

Dharma Plate

This is totally awesome. I had no idea that the DHARMA initiative had taken up residence in Downers Grove. I was driving home today and saw that only about 100 yards from my house, there was parked a VW bus with the license plate DHARMA. Perhaps in season six, they are planning on introducing a new character from Illinois. I can only hope….or maybe I am living in an alternate time line. 

Skype Is The Best Thing Ever

If you are fortunate enough to travel frequently (or unfortunate depending on the length and destination) you may find your self missing out on events or just missing someone. With my schedule I often find myself missing special events that my kids participate in. Now I’m not just talking about missing one of Jenna volleyball matches or an extra great practice session that she wants to talk about, but sometimes just simple everyday things that bring joy to everyday life.

Matt has discovered the joys of shopping at the Salvation Army thrift store and donating back to them as well. He would much rather spend an hour or so looking for great finds at the store on 75th and Lemont in Downers Grove or the impressively large store in Oak Lawn, than go to the mall and waste his hard earned cash. I have followed his lead in finding some nice items for welding class and for the marathon as I mentioned in my post on January 10, 2010 all in great shape and purchased for pennies on the dollar. He has been collecting shirts from all the major league baseball teams as well as other items that relate to MLB, like caps and glassware. He also has had a few good finds related to the actual implements of the game like baseballs, gloves and bats.

Nike

So back to my reason for this post ( I tend to wander but I hope to get better at this as time goes on). Today he scored a really nice pair Nikes, an MLB shirt and a few other items. Normally a phone call to explain his find would be nice but we agreed on a Skype video call so he could show off some of his score. I have a little Logitech Quick Cam for Notebooks (mine is an older version) that I can clip to the top of my laptop and at home we have a webcam connected to our Media Center PC which servers up media to the big screen in the back house. The family can sit on the couch and do a video call with me from anywhere on the planet (limited only to available bandwidth).

We started a video chat after my client visit, diner and a quick run (more on that pain tomorrow.) I find that a video call is much more engaging as I am able to enjoy his expressions and animated gestures, things that you just can’t pick up with a simple voice call. Being two time zones away can be difficult when you are so close to your family so Skype has been one of my most awesome purchases ever. You can get a free account, but I opted for the $3 per month unlimited calls to Canada plan to cut down on the cost of calls to the customers up north (I’m all about saving money).

If you are able, donate your lightly used items to organizations like the Salvation Army. They could really use your help. Or if you have large items or non ‘Consumer’ items, consider giving them away via FreeCycle. Freecycle is an organization that allows you to give and get stuff for free. Instead of adding to the landfill, there may be someone who can use that old bird cage or extra three stacks of shingles that you don’t need anymore. Many communities, including mine have a local chapter. Check it out and help someone out.

They Say It’s Your Birthday…….

Yesterday was Matt’s birthday and he had reserved a room over at a local restaurant/bar called the Brick House. I had not been there before and wonder where the name came from…until I walked in. Anyone familiar with the Commodores song from the 70’s will get where I am going with this. All the wait staff are younger ladies with lots of skin showing similar to Hooters but more denim and midriff exposed.

Anyway the reason for this post is because I crushed a common misconception about attracting women. I always remembered that if you had a cute puppy with you, that was a sure fire conversation starter with the ladies (theory proven a few times in college).

Last night I found out that all you need is cake. We had a giant sheet cake from Sam’s Club for the 15 or so friends in attendance. If you have never tried bakery items from Sam’s, they are very tasty and relatively inexpensive. Even with that about of people we only put a small dent in the total cake volume, so Matt extended a cake invite to our server and anyone else who wanted to partake. Within 5 minutes we have most of the female staff in our room sampling the chocolaty goodness off our fancy dinosaur paper plates. It was quite a site with all our new friends pull up a chair to join the party.

I had to laugh at the swiftness of response and in this case….the cake is not a lie.

005 My Gift To Matt