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.

Red Foxes are Majestic, Magical, Medieval Creatures; Especially When It Snows in the South

When people from outside of the South think of the weather down here, my guess is they probably assume we hardly ever get snow. And while our precipitation amount doesn’t compare to New England or the Midwest, every year I’ve been alive it’s snowed at least once during the winter season. (It even snowed once in April of 1988; I got out of school early that day).

And yes, it only takes an inch or two to shut down the whole town because most cities only own one snow plow, if that. Plus we’re not used to driving in it. There’s no shame in that.

Yesterday as I walked through Aspen Grove Park to Border’s as I do every day during my lunch break, I noticed that my footprints were the only ones in the snow. This mental image popped in my head of a Red Fox. Evidently I associate Red Foxes with snow and woods.

A little while later as I walked back through the park to my office, I saw animal footprints I wasn’t familiar with. I was used to seeing people walk their dogs there, surrounded by all the squirrels on their apparent cocaine highs. So I assumed these were raccoon prints.

About 45 minutes later back at my desk, one of my co-workers who was on the phone at the time, started pointing out the floor-to-ceiling windows we have as walls in our office. It was a big Red Fox. Less than a 100 feet away. Coming from the park I just got back from, journeying all the way around the building with its glass walls.

There is just something truly mesmerizing about a Red Fox. It’s so rare to see one in real life, especially right around the corner from a Starbucks. Watching that fox make his way around our office made me feel like I was in a magical medieval movie like The Princess Bride or something. Watching a fox trot through the snow in a business development is enchanting.

I can’t stop thinking about that beautiful, rare, red creature. I want to tame it. Make it my loyal pet. Man’s best friend. The Red Fox.

In fact, I’m having trouble thinking of a more beautiful animal in this whole world. Magnificent and majestic. It’s no coincidence that Red Foxes have been a part of folklore for centuries.

And in more modern culture like the recent movie, Fantastic Mr. Fox. And the 1973 Walt Disney Robin Hood cartoon (where Red Foxes took the place of people). And Star Fox for N64. And in the ‘80’s cartoon show, David the Gnome, he rode on Swift the Fox, who was always getting a splinter in his paw.

Looking at a Red Fox in real life can be confusing. Am I actually looking at a real fox or is it an anthropomorphic clone that escaped from Chuck E. Cheese’s? Yes, foxes are that awesome.

Animalspeak Volume 3

Twenty-two years ago (November 1987) in our first grade class, my teacher Ms. Sparks gave us all a blank sheet of paper and told us to draw a picture of something we were thankful for.  I was excited.  Thirty minutes later, our teacher walked by everyone’s desk to see the art we had accomplished.  As she came closer to me, I heard her reading off what each of my fellow students said they were thankful for.

“My family.”  “My friends.”  “My parents.”  “My sister.”  “My brother.”

Those were the things I was hearing.  As I looked up from my drawing, I started to realize that maybe mine was a little bit different that everyone else’s.  Ms. Sparks looked down at my picture.  “Animals.”  I was six year-old at the time, but I somehow was keen enough to notice that she that my drawing was weird. 

“Yes, animals.  We can be thankful for the animals.”  She went on to the next student, trying to hide the confused look on her face.

 I had drawn a picture of a picnic table.  On top of the table were several live animals: a fox, a raccoon, a cat, a bird, a dog, a possum, a squirrel, and I want to say… a horse.  (I really liked the Nick at Nite reruns of Mr. Ed back then.)  At the top of the page, I appropriately titled my masterpiece with an orange crayon:  ANIMALS.

Not necessarily animals that I ate.  Just animals.  I had a pet goldfish that I had won a few weeks before at the fair that I named Nippy.  (It was cold outside when I tossed the ping-pong ball in the goldfish bowl.)  But that was really the only exposure I had to animals.  No other pets than Nippy the Goldfish.

I’m still trying to figure out why all these random animals would show up on a picnic table and why I was thankful for them.  Kids are weird.

Animalspeak Table of Contents

Volume 1 http://wp.me/pxqBU-f2
Volume 2 http://wp.me/pxqBU-f8
Volume 3 http://wp.me/pxqBU-gu

 

Disney’s Robin Hoood:Animalspeak Volume 2- The Unspoken Rules of Disney Law- Featuring Robin Hood

I have learned to accept the Top Five Unspoken Rules of Disney Animals:

1) Without explanation, animals can speak to each other in English. (Even when they are native Africans: The Lion King).
2) Humans can talk to animals and vice versa.
3) Goofy can walk upright and talk, but Pluto is just a normal dog.
4) When Donald Duck gets out of the shower, he is embarrassed by his nakedness, covering himself up with a towel. However, he never wears pants.
5) As a cartoon, Mickey Mouse is pretty much the size of a real mouse. But at Disney World, he is around 6 feet tall.

It’s all fine as long as these rules are consistent which each other within the Disney Universe. However, I have recently been made aware of a rare exception. A hole in the Disney Theory.

This exception to the rules involves one of my favorite Disney cartoon movies, Robin Hood. I’m referring to the 1973 version where Robin Hood is a fox. It contains an ever-addictive whistling theme which I can’t describe in words and the melancholy ballad “Not in Nottingham”. The movie is full of adventure, action, and romance.
The weird thing about it, though, is that it’s the only animated Disney movie I can think of where there are no humans AND the animals assume the role of humans (in other words the animals are anthropomorphic).

For example, in The Lion King there are no humans, but all the animals act like normal animals (other than the fact they can talk and sing). They live out in the wild and kill and eat other animals. The characters are beasts, not mutants.

But in Robin Hood, the animals wear clothes, eat food at a table, and walk upright, to name a few distinguished human traits. While this in no way discredits the greatness of the film, there’s not an animated Disney movie I can think of before or after its release that follows this formula.

Pickles Make for Good Reading Material- Episode 5

If the only way you could eat any meat was by actually killing the animal yourself, would you still be a carnivore?

hunting-the-trail

I am aware that I am a hypocrite. Because if I could only eat the meat of animals that I killed myself, I would dang near be a vegetarian. Fish don’t really make sounds or look at me, so I could kill them. And eggs. Plus they don’t have to suffer such a violent death as noise-making, blood-spilling cattle, chickens, turkeys, and pigs.

The thought of eating the veins, muscles, and fat of what was recently a living being is so weird. But still for every lunch and most dinners, I eat a meal consisting of cut-up chunks of animal flesh. And aside from the act of slaughtering an animal, there’s the cleaning and processing of the carcass.

The only animals I have a desire to kill are the ones that want to kill me. And so far no grizzly bears, killer wolves, rabid foxes, spitting cobras, or hoof-punching deer have tried to attack me. Just mosquitoes. And they deserve to die because they’re trying to steal my blood. And blood is life. They are trying to kill me; therefore they deserve to die.

When it comes down to it, I’m a vegetarian at heart. Just not in action. The main reason I’m not a practicing vegetarian is because I don’t see how that would be a practical lifestyle.

snail

We plan so much of our lives around eating. When people get together for more than a few hours, a meal is often involved. What if I went to dinner at someone’s house and they grilled out hamburgers for me and there was no salad available? What would I eat, just a bun with ketchup and onions and pickles?

Often vegetarians eat portabella mushrooms instead of meat. Maybe I could do that with pickles. Put a slab of pickles in between two buns. I can see it now, taking the nation by storm: Pickle Burgers, because…

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“If you don’t hear that crunch, then it ain’t worth the munch!’

Pickles Make for Good Reading Material Table of Contents:

Episode 1 http://wp.me/pxqBU-1X
Episode 2 http://wp.me/pxqBU-20
Episode 3 http://wp.me/pxqBU-26
Episode 4 http://wp.me/pxqBU-4o
Episode 5 http://wp.me/pxqBU-ef

The Interstate to Memory Lane: Why Deja Vu Happens

The summer after 7th grade in 1994 I went to Gatlinburg, TN for the first time.  Amidst all the tacky airbrushed t-shirts and options to get my picture taken as a redneck wearing overalls and a raccoon hat, the shop that intrigued me the most was a now out-of-business magic store.  I bought a few magic tricks there and half-way impressed my friends with them.  But the more magic tricks I learned, the more I realized the emphasis was on the word “trick”.


Not only a trick, but a cheap trick.  False decks of cards.  Drawing the audience’s attention to a bright handkerchief while in the other hand I put the “disappearing dime” in my pocket.  An almost invisible piece of fishing line used to make a matchstick “float in the air”.  There is a bittersweet feeling of realizing something unexplainable is not only explainable, but easily understandable.


So is the case of Déjà vu, the French word for “already seen”.  A fascinating yet weird experience we all encounter from time to time where we are positive the situation that just happened has happened before.  Or that it happened in a recent dream.  Makes some evidence for those who believe in reincarnation.  Until the cheap trick is revealed.


We have a long-term memory which consists of memories that have happened in the more distant past, along with learned skills, and even many of our dreams.  (I can remember dreams I had as a kid.)

And we also have a short-term memory which serves as the “live feed” of the events we are currently experiencing.  Sometimes the long-term memory overlaps the short-term memory, causes us to firmly believe that the current experience (conversation, setting, people involved, etc.) has already happened or was recently dreamed about.

When in reality the current experience accidently bypassed the Live Feed and went straight to Long Term Memory.


And voila, what a let-down.  The mystery is gone.  We were designed with powerful memories that sometimes slip up and make us feel like we’re in a sci-fi show on Fox.

 


 

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