A group of trendsetters in the tiny house movement has put together what promises to be a great weekend in Charlotte on April 5-6. And if you sign up between now and Christmas, you can save $50 from the $300 registration fee using the code TR2013. In addition to panel discussions and seminars on a variety of topics including codes, building techniques, off-grid living and more, there will be a variety tiny houses on site for tours. It promises to be a great weekend for people like me who are ready to start building. You can learn more at http://www.tinyhouseconference.com/
I saw this low-tech phone amplifier on Facebook and thought I’d try it myself. Two Solo cups and an empty paper towel roll. Took less than 5 minutes, a pocket knife and scissors. Amplification level is enough to hear music well without my hearing aids in. Not loud enough for a party, but loud enough to be able to hear it on the nightstand when I’m lying in bed.
These days, I like low-tech stuff and this struck me as really too simple, so I tried to complicate things by using a toilet paper roll. Too short for my HTC phone to fit. I tried to move it from room to room to see how practical it would be and it kept falling apart. The phone keep drooping, so it would occupy a considerable amount of real estate on my nightstand, which doesn’t have a lot of real estate to begin with.
Following a tip from a friend, I hunted up a coffee cup. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I kept the cups that came with the dinnerware I bought when I moved into the apartment for visitors to use or to fill in when I’m too lazy to wash dishes and all of my glasses are dirty. So I put my phone in one, speaker end down. It’s louder than the Solo cup rig. Easy to carry around the apartment, too.
The coffee cup is simpler too, which is just fine with me.
A few years ago, I was talking to a friend and his 5-year-old nephew kept interrupting us. He wanted to see a show on TV and wouldn’t take “Not right now” for an answer. At some point it occurred to me that with streaming video on the internet and on-demand service with cable, this kid will never understand the concept of “That show isn’t on right now.”
I loved watching TV when I was a kid, but part of the fun was in having to wait until Wednesday night to see “Batman.” The shows always ended with a cliffhanger and I loved the suspense all week and the solution, though it was hokey, even to an 8-year-old.
It’s raining and windy through much of the country’s midsection tonight. It’s also Halloween and there’s talk of “postponing” trick-or-treating. Not gonna happen at my house. Today is Halloween. Tomorrow is All Saints Day. You come by tomorrow and all you’re getting is empty candy wrappers.
Two years ago today, I embarked on a new journey, leaving behind my home of 11 years and a marriage that ended in a shambles, to start anew alone in an apartment closer to my job.
Two years later, I’m still in this apartment, but the shambles are far behind me (aside from my desk). My debt is almost gone and my psyche is just about healed. While I still don’t have a house, I do have a home and everything in it is paid for.
Though I live alone, I am in no way lonely. My life is filled with loving, nurturing people. I am involved in my church and my community. And I am as certain today as I was back then that I made the right choice to make a change.
I was at a meeting of businessmen a while back and Jeff Fisher was the guest speaker. He was still coach of the Tennessee Titans at the time and he talked about overcoming adversity. How a team handles adversity defines their season, Coach Fisher said. It’s the same for businesses, he added.
I think that idea applies to people, too.
Choices are what life is about. We make them and then we deal with them. Sometimes we make good choices, sometimes bad. Sometimes we just try to make the best of them.
But they are always our choices and ultimately, we are the ones responsible for whatever outcome they bring.
And if you don’t like the outcome, you alone are responsible to change it. Change doesn’t come from bickering and complaining. No one ever moved anything by just pointing a finger at it. (Except for Jedi knights, of course.)
So the lesson of the past two years for me has been, as Gandhi said, be the change you wish to see in the world. You’ll like it, and yourself, a lot better.
I woke up early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. The thought of fresh breakfast at Varallo’s was what got me out of bed, though.
Between my regular morning rituals and finally getting dressed, I was out of the door with 45 minutes to spare, enough time for the 6-mile, 10-minute drive and a quick trip to Varallo’s for a couple of scrambled eggs, extra crispy bacon and buttered toast. The perfect start to a Friday morning.
Less than a mile from home, a car carrier semi learned a lesson in geometry when he tried to back down into an office strip. His trailer full of late model cars and SUVs ground into the driveway, leaving his load teetering and his cab blocking the west-bound lanes. I lost 15 minutes getting around that mess.
A little more than 3 miles from home, another semi driver discovered that his turning skills need more work. Actually, we discovered it before he did. He blocked all 4 lanes and looked bewildered when the 3,000 cars that were stranded on the street didn’t back up in unison to give him another 10 acres to turn his rig.
Eventually, it dawned on him that he could back up and correct his angle of attack. Another 20 minutes lost.
Can I eat breakfast in 10 minutes? Sure, I said. Why not?
Umphrey’s McGee and STS9 is why not.
Groups I’ve never ever heard of in my life (which seem to be part of an ever-growing list these days) decided to have a concert on the Riverfront in Nashville tonight and, without asking me, they shut down the whole darn road for a half mile to set up for it. I quickly detoured from 1st to 2nd Avenue, congratulating myself on how smart I am. Then I drove a half block and found more gridlock.
Three cycles of a traffic light later and I discover the problem is there are two police officers at another intersection manipulating the traffic lights. They managed to back up traffic for a mile in every direction from that section of downtown.
Another 10 minutes and I’m moving again. Until I get back to 1st Avenue, where I can cross the blocked street to get to my parking garage. Except the traffic light doesn’t know the street is blocked. So I have to sit there at a red light for another 2 minutes while a traffic cop sits in the shade, making sure no one enters a public street that my tax dollars paid for, yet no one is using on this fine Friday morning.
Finally, I park my car and head to work. I’m 15 minutes late instead of 45 minutes early. No breakfast for you.
I ran into my buddy Leavett in the city’s absolute slowest elevator in the parking garage. As we walk to our office buildings, I start regaling him with my commuting adventures, expounding on how the city’s traffic cops don’t do a really good job of dealing with traffic when they shut down streets for no good reason other than “someone is having a party that I’m not even going to go to tonight.”
He laughed and peeled off at his building. But I was still fired up and started writing a letter to the mayor in my mind as I walked the last block and a half.
And just as I was nearing my office building, who do I see walking toward me? The mayor. Actually, he was walking to City Hall, but I was between him and there, so he had to walk by me to get to work.
I used to bug the heck out of the mayor when I was a reporter and he was the head of the city’s legal department, so bugging him about the city’s crappy traffic controls wouldn’t be out of the question for me.
As he approached, he seemed to recognize me, and smiled. I smiled back and said, ” ‘Morning, Mayor,” then stepped into my office building.
The rest of the day wasn’t all that bad.
I thought I’d give it a whirl. Frozen yogurt costs twice as much as refrigerated yogurt, so I said what the heck and bought a tub of Yoplait strawberry and put it in the freezer.
There’s a lot of water in regular yogurt, so the finished product was more like ice milk than ice cream. It’s not bad, though. The texture is crystalline, like when I froze chocolate milk in an effort to make a chocolate popsicle. Not creamy like ice cream, but it still tastes like frozen yogurt. With a slight crunch.
I moved it to the refridgerator and it’s easier to get out of the tub now. It’s really good with my homemade chocolate syrup on it.
I’ll try Greek yogurt next time since it has less water in it.
I got the idea from Chef John Besh’s new cookbook. He cut up some fruit, put half of it in a blender with plain yogurt. Then he mixed the remaining fruit with the pureed yogurt-fruit mixture and put it in popsicle molds for freezing.
I don’t have popsicle molds, or fresh fruit for that matter, so I bought strawberry Yoplait in a tub. Next time, I’ll get vanilla Greek yogurt in a tub. One of these days I’ll get a blender and popsicle molds, maybe even some fresh fruit. But I hate fruit flies and that’s another blog post.
I had to say so long to a trusted travel companion this weekend. After seven years of helping me not get lost as I traveled around town and half the country, my TomTom One had to be decommissioned.
It was a great little machine and it could still lead me to the right path. But the toll the years have taken on it grew to be insurmountable. On my way home from Louisiana, it popped out of the windshield holder again and the on-off button shattered. I had to use an ink pen to turn it on and off. Last weekend, during a trip to Jackson, Miss., the software started getting buggy and instead of showing me a map, it showed me vector coordinates.
I got another TomTom, the START 40M to be exact. I picked it up on Friday night. Why another TomTom? Why not?
I picked up the TomTom One at OfficeMax during a Black Friday sale after Thanksgiving. I want to say it cost less than $50. I thought it was a bargain until three months later, when the machine told me the map was out of date and I’d have to subscribe to its quarterly update service to stay accurate.That started out at $25 a year and gradually grew to $50, which I paid about 6 months ago.
I’ve been doing research the past several months, knowing that the end was near. The windshield bracket issue started about 2 years ago, right after I dropped the TomTom coming down the stairs. The speaker popped off and one of the metal tabs that held it in the bracket came up missing. In the months that followed, I tried making a clip with a paper clip, but it would have to be adjusted every day and even then, the GPS unit would pop out of the bracket at the most inopportune time, like when I was turning.
I bought a busted unit on eBay and scavenged a clip for it. That worked better than the paper clip, but the unit would still pop out if I hit a bump the wrong way. I thought about scavenging the of/off button from the busted unit but in the end, realized that seven years is probably four years longer than TomTom expected a GPS unit to last.
I thought about switching brands. Garmin is popular with a lot of my friends and everyone I spoke with said they thought Garmin was the best. But most hadn’t had any dealings with TomTom, so I looked online and found an article in PC Magazine that concluded Garmin and TomTom are pretty even and “there’s no reason to jump from one company to the other unless you find a blow-out sale on a particular model.”
So I stuck with TomTom. And after a day, I’m happy. The new map is more accurate than the old. It shows the streets in my apartment complex where the old one had me feeling like I’d driven off the edge of the planet after turning into my complex.
And it came with free lifetime map updates, which if the past is any indication, will save me a bundle over the next decade or so.