Generation Y Finds Free WiFi

Internet is free unless you want to pay for it.


I am truly convinced that somehow one day Internet service will be free to all with access to a computer. The thing is, it’s already kind of that way- at least in a city the size of Nashville. A monumental event happened last week when Starbucks officially began advertising free WiFi in their stores. For months I have been mocking them for being so behind the times, as they have been charging by the hour for Internet service when McDonald’s has been offering it for a while now. In fact, Starbucks was the last major (and still relevant) store to join the crowd.

It’s quite symbolic of the direction that Internet is heading. I haven’t paid for Internet the entire 4 ½ years I’ve lived in Nashville. My laptop automatically picks up the nearest open network wherever I am, or wherever I’m driving by and decide to drop in- hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, churches, book stores, even auto repair shops provide Internet for me while I wait on my car. And I have weekly taken advantage of all those places.

Last weekend I went in to Verizon to renew my contract (and more importantly, get a new free phone they always offer for staying with them). I found the phone I wanted- it was small, light, and shaped like a stone. Yet when the salesman came over to help me I learned that the only way I could get that phone would be to get Internet through them for about $30 extra dollars a month. I made the mistake of telling him that eventually Verizon will offer free Internet (so that people will buy more expensive phones that make better use of online capabilities).

The guy actually said this to me in an attempt to make a sell: “Having Internet on your phone makes life so much easier. You may look out the window and see a rain cloud and wonder what the weather is going to be like that day. If you have the Internet on your phone, you can look up the weather forecast and find out.”

Really?! Really. Seems like the word “rain” in the phrase “rain cloud” might have given me a clue…

He wanted to argue with/educate me about technology so I simply replied, “Where are the phones that don’t require me to purchase additional Internet service?” I ended up leaving the store, with my same two-year old phone. The few options that didn’t require Internet were no more advanced than the phone I have now so I’ve decided to hold off on trading in my old one for a new one. It would be ridiculous to pay for what I already can get for free (the Internet) or try use my “free new phone” pass on a phone identical to the one I already have. And since I don’t live with a constant need to Tweet, I will manage just fine.

Surely it says something about access to free Internet use when I have built and maintained this website mainly using the Internet of Borders (where I’m posting this from now) and other coffee shop types of venues. If anyone should have to pay for Internet, it should be me. But I never have.

It just requires diligence, patience, and creativity. I also have never paid for cable- I paid $60 a few years ago for “bunny ears” at Best Buy that give me access to ABC, NBC, and Fox (plus some obscure Canadian channels). That’s how I watch the shows that I do recaps of. As for TV shows I want to see that don’t come on the major networks, I can easily watch them on their network’s website. Of course I am willing to part with $9 a month for Netflix- I began subscribing the month they started offering free instant streaming.

There’s a very thin line between being cheap and being smart. I’m okay with either side of that line.

After These Messages… We’ll Be Riiiiight Back!

I am a marketing department’s worst nightmare.  Because while I completely appreciate good commercials, they never influence me to buy the product.  Kudos to McDonald’s for their retro “Give Me Back My Filet-O-Fish” commercial, equipped with a Ford Ranchero and a catchy 8-bit sounding song via text message.  And those guys in the Sonic commercials, what’s not to love about “get those taste buds going, danga-langa-langa-langa-langa… Mornin’ Gents!” or “YOU’RE A CHEAP DATE!”

Yet I never buy from or eat at McDonald’s or Sonic.  I respect their commercials, but they’re just entertainment.  That’s all.  Completely ineffective as far as getting me to actually spend money.

Which causes me to think about this question:  When is the last time I bought a product or service based on an advertisement, of any kind?  Through a TV commercial, radio commercial, or magazine ad.  Any sort of marketing ad.

And I’m not counting the times I was already searching for a general product and came across a website.  That doesn’t count. 

I’m talking about this situation:  I never heard of the product.  I see an advertisement.  I buy it.

The last purchase I made was a food purchase.  I bought some cupcakes from Gigi’s Cupcakes.  Because my wife heard about how awesome they are from some people at work.  So I bought the cupcakes through word-of-mouth.

Other than other mundane purchases like groceries and gas, the only other item I purchased in the last few weeks was a Rubik’s Cube, which I knew of through years of word-of-mouth.   

Three years ago I bought an i-pod, but not because of the commercials.  Because my friends had them.  Then I bought mine from amazon.com.

Same thing with my GPS. 

Same thing with choosing Verizon Wireless as my cell phone company.

And my subscription to Details magazine. 

And going through wordpress.com to get my own website.

And my town house.  My wife’s friend already lived in that neighborhood.

And my Wii.  I was sold on it well over a year before it even came out.

Even when I see a commercial for a movie, I won’t go see it or rent it or even watch it at all until I’ve talked to someone who’s seen it or until I’ve read a promising online review.  Word-of-mouth.

As for buying music, I may buy a new CD if I hear it playing on the radio or at Borders, but that’s not advertising, that’s exposure. 

So there’s the pattern.  I only buy things based on the recommendation of a person I trust.  And of course they’re never the ones actually selling me the product.

Okay, I can finally remember a time when I bought a product based on a commercial or ad.  It was high school.  My freshman year: 1995.  I bought a Trix t-shirt because I looked through a t-shirt magazine my friend gave me.

Oh wait, nevermind.  I only got the magazine because a friend gave it to me and said that I would like it.

So the last time I bought a product directly because of an advertisement was probably back in the early ‘90’s when I would buy Ninja Turtle action figures.  Toys.  When I was a kid. 

As an adult, I guess I kinda like the idea of outsmarting the advertising departments of companies.

Bottom line:  If a product or service is worth purchasing, word will get around and eventually get to me.  That’s the only advertising that honestly matters to me.

Rubik’s Cube Syndrome: Preventing Death by Boredom

So it turns out, there is a such thing as dying of boredom.  Therefore, I always have to be thinking.  Because seriously, there is always a new puzzle to solve.

Being that I’ve been writing for a website since August 2005 and have been averaging around 3 or more new posts a week, I have been routinely asked, “Where do you come up with this stuff?” and “How do you always have something new to write about?”.  The answer, my mind never really shuts off.

Some people’s minds never shut off because they continue to be overwhelmed with all the things they have to get done.  Some constantly worry about all the things they have no control over.  Not me.  I, instead, am constantly entertaining the random thoughts that float up to the surface.  Then I get near a computer.

But if I were to sit down in a therapist’s chair and really let my guard down and spill my guts, the psychiatrist would learn that I have a fear of being bored.  It’s more of an obsession of staying constantly entertained so that I can never enter a second of boredom.

I have these boring dreams sometimes where I realize I am dreaming and tell myself to wake up.  Seconds literally seem like hours in a dream. Usually, if I tell myself in the dream to lift my head off the pillow in real life, it works, and I wake up from the boring dream.

Maybe this is common knowledge, or maybe it’s an epiphany, but boredom is totally motivational.  Popular games and sports, great inventions, and stupid crimes are often born out of boredom.

For me, it all probably started when I was a small kid.  Kids have to do a lot of waiting around.  A couple of the children’s day care centers I attended were torture.  The ones without good, organized activities.  It must have been then that I learned to keep myself entertained under any and at times.  I never realized that until this exact second.

I wasn’t at all surprised last week when I came across this article saying that a new study shows that boredom can be just as dangerous to a person’s health as stress.  It is pretty easy to think of examples of older people who died shortly after they retired.  The first 2 that come to mind:

Paul “Bear” Bryant died on January 25, 1983.  That was 28 days after he retired from coaching the University of Alabama’s football team.  And actor Peter Boyle, who played Raymond’s dad on Everybody Loves Raymond, died the year after the show ended.

And surely we can all think of a senior citizen who died only weeks or months after their aged spouse passed away.  It’s sweet to think about, that one couldn’t go on without the other.  But it’s even more interesting after reading this article:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35328113/ns/health-heart_health/ns/health-heart_health/

I’m starting to realize that I evidently have a subconscious goal to memorize Wikipedia.  My regurgitation of the knowledge I learn there helps keep me entertained at all times.  Even while I’m being entertained.  Like the ultimate “picture in picture” experience.  Or Pop-Up Video.

For example, Friday night I watched the first 20 minutes of Meet the Fockers when ABC aired it (to whet peoples’ appetites for the next sequel, Little Fockers, which comes out this December).  During the opening credits/first 5 minutes of the movie, I pointed out to my wife all the Jews associated with making the movie:

*Note: If there is a “?” next to the person’s name, it means I am not yet able to verify for a fact if they are Jewish, but based on their name alone, they most likely are.  In other words, Jewish until proven Gentile.

Actors: Ben Stiller (Jewish), Dustin Hoffman (Jewish), Barbara Streisand (Jewish), Blythe Danner (mother of Gwenyth Paltrow, was married to the now deceased Bruce Paltrow, who was Jewish)

Music by: Randy Newman (Jewish)

Directed by: Jane Rosenthal (Jewish?) and Nancy Tenenbaum (Jewish?)

Written by: John Hamburg (Jewish?), Jim Herzfeld (Jewish?), and John Hyman (Jewish?)

Distributed by: Universal Studios- which was founded by Carl Laemmle (Jewish) and Dreamworks- which is headed up by Stephen Spielburg (Jewish), David Geffen (Jewish), and Jeffrey Katzenberg (Jewish?)

And this is interesting because less than 2% of Americans are Jewish.  To get a better idea of what a small number that is, Asian-Americans make up 4% of our nation’s population, and African-Americans represent 12%.

http://wp.me/pxqBU-kY

When I watch a movie, I am constantly seeing numbers and words surrounding each actor.  The actor’s height, hometown, and ethnicity.  I get an enhanced experience.

Recently I watched Hope Floats with my wife and here’s what I saw on the screen as soon as I saw Harry Connick, Jr:

6’ 1”

New Orleans, LA

Half Irish, Half Jewish

That is a glimpse at how my mind works.  And how I see everyday life.  Kinda like those Bing commercials about information overload.  When I hear a noun, my mind instantly pulls up the most notable memory from my own life and combines it with other interesting, random facts about it as well.

Last summer, a guy I graduated high school with named Kenneth Snipes, told me in a facebook wall comment that I could take the word “phone book” and write an interesting post about it.  I’m open to the idea.

In the 5th grade, one of my many favorite TV shows was The Dick Van Dyke Show (via Nick at Nite).  I remember an episode where Buddy (played by Morey Amsterdam, who was Jewish) told some people at a party that he could tell a joke with any word someone gives him.  So a lady said “horse”.  This was his joke:

If everybody in America owned a horse, the nation would be more stabilized.

If Buddy can do it with jokes, then I can do it with my writing.  I take requests.  In the form of a comment, just list a subject that you would like for me to expound on.  If I personally know you, I will attempt to also incorporate a memory I have of you in the writing.

See what my Rubik’s Cube of a brain spits out.  I will turn it into a story that will arguably be interesting and educational.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on boredom, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one

LOST: Season 6 Pre-cap

We are just a few weeks away from the final season and we can hardly wait. There are 23 million of us Losties in the world. We are an underground society that no one else understands when we talk about the Dharma Initiative and Jacob and the statue. While others gave up after the first or second or even third season, we have continued to thrive on LOST thrills.

As we anticipate the final episodes, we do have one major concern: Will the final episode be a cliffhanger just like every other episode? Or some dumb cop-out like, it was all a dream or just the imagination of an 8 year old Autistic boy? (Those were actual final episodes for some shows back in the ‘80’s…)

The answer: no. I have been keeping up with all the interviews of the Lost writers. It is very important to them that the characters’ stories have a beginning, middle, and end. And that the LOST journey will be a satisfying one. So we can enjoy February through May with ease.

As far as hints for the final season of LOST, I have collected a few from the interviews I’ve read. The final season will most resemble the first. Charlie, Claire, and Boone will be back. As far as Juliet’s fate, by reading between the lines it sounds like she actually died at the end of the Season 5 finale. But at the same time, she will still be on Season 6.  But without Juliet, Sawyer will go back to being the old Sawyer.  And less emphasis on The Dharma Initiative, more on the Dharma-Michigan Connection, whatever that means.

A new change is that instead of relying on flashbacks and flash-forwards, there will be a new narrative device that is common in Bollywood movies. And since the only movie I’ve seen in that category is Slumdog Millionaire, I don’t have much insight on what it will be like.

Today ABC released two new promotional pictures for the new season, since they refuse to tease us with any video clips. The two separate, yet similar photographs make me think they will be two separate timelines for the same characters in which one will become the final by the last episode.   I entitle them, “The LOST Suppers”.

In this parody of The Last Supper, Sayid assumes the role of Judas the betrayer, Jack is the doubting Thomas, and Esau (in the form of John Locke) symbolizes Jesus. Is this to say that Esau is actually the good guy? Is he there to lead the inhabitants of out the wilderness island like Moses led the Israelites of their “lostness”? Was Jacob the true deceiver?

I want to confirm another major prediction about LOST. All I ask is that you give me credit for being the first to discover this once it becomes official in a few months. Promise you won’t forget it was me:
Season 1- September 2004 = real life 2004-2005
Season 2- October 2004 = real life 2005-2006
Season 3- November 2004 = real life 2006-2007
Season 4- December 2004 = real life 2007-2008
Season 5- January 2005/ “Three Years Later” (January 2008) = real life 2009
Season 6- February 2005 = real life 2009-2010

Notice that the furthest we have seen into the future on a flash forward on the show so far is 2008. In May when the series ends, in real life it will be 2010. That means that the years of 2009 and 2010 will not be accounted for (according to the “one season of the show equals one month for the people on the island” rule) unless they started flash forwarding to 2009 and 2010. My prediction is that in the finale of Season 6, the words “2010: present day” will flash on the screen. Something very important happens in 2009 and 2010. You heard it from me, people.