Confessions: Why I have a dumb phone

Many of you know that I don’t have a smart phone.  In fact, some of you have even asked why.  It is hard to understand why a blogger would limit themselves by not having one.  I have missed out on some great pictures and having the ability to post on facebook wall at a moment’s notice would be a nice feature.  (If you haven’t seen it, stop by.  I post links to other blogs and fun pictures on it.)

You’d almost think I’m anti-technology.  That’s furthest from the truth.  I like cool old things, but I love gizmos just as much.

I even had an I-pod.  Once.  I really enjoyed it.  I’d scan around for free wifi to download podcasts or web surf. I added a bunch of apps.  All in all, I spent over $50 on shows, games, and other things for that pod.  I took that thing everywhere.

Then I accidentally killed it.

I was working by the pool and “BLOOP” down it went.  I was kinda luck as it landed in the ledge section of the pool, but it still was in enough water to bring the dreaded “White screen of death.”

I nursed it for two weeks and somehow got it to work.  Kinda.  It had become more susceptible to the high humidity and rain of summer Florida, but I could still listen to podcasts and watch “Tremors”.

And then one day it crashed onto the road.   “Crack!”  I was trying to slip it into my shirt pocket, but the pocket wasn’t open enough.

So much for that.

Picking up the dead metal carcass, I decided to go a little cheaper in replacing it.

I bought a Sansa Fuze.

No wifi, but I still got my podcasts and could download movies and shows.  I had that for about six months until it died… in the pool.

Ok.  Not the pool itself, but the filter tank.  It was my job to clean that thing out every week.  The filters used fossils called Diatomatious Earth.  It feels like soft sand, but is microscopically sharp.  The large cut version is sold as earth friendly insecticide at garden centers.  The stuff cuts the legs of insects as they walk through it.  A slurry of this stuff oozed its way into that Sansa and Fuzed itself into the electronics.


I now have some MP3 player called a Trio.  It cost me $30.  I haven’t killed it so far, but I don’t do the pool anymore.  It is slowly dying though.  The screen gets these weird “snow” line through it when I have it connected to the computer and half the time the computer can read the player through the USB cable.  But it still works.

I think I’m on my third phone too.  In fact, it has to be.  I remember changing carriers.  The phones do seem to last longer.  The one I have now was bought roughly after the first time I tried to kill the I Pod.  It’s a cheap $15 phone that I don’t worry about.  If it goes, I just get another.

And that’s the crux.  I have no qualms about dropping $15 on a new phone if something happens, but $100 to $300 for a smart phone that might not last the year?  That’s hard to swallow.

I know that there are protective cases for the things, like the otter case, but that’s another $100!  Plus I just know how I would be if I had that thing on my smart phone, “What I forgot the hammer to stake this tree up?  Here, use my phone.  No, it’s ok.  The case is shock proof.” Or “Let’s play air hockey.  We’ll use my phone as the puck.  It’s alright.  It’s got that otter cover on it.”

How could I possibly inflict such horror to an innocent little smart phone.  It’s better if they didn’t know.

And that’s why I have a dumb phone.

Summer Night

The night air was thick and perfumed with the scent of coco-butter.  Music and laughter spilled out of open doorways while lover’s held hands as they strolled down the curved concrete.

There was a feeling of familiarity that only the summer season could bring.

No crowds, no heavy traffic, no tourists.

The bars, shops, beaches, and parlors once again belonged to the natives that lived there.

A moment to breath, a moment to dance.  The sweetness of summer, shining in the night.


Offered to you for SethSnap’s “Your Story” challenge.

Pinball Wizards


Summer is ending quick, but there is still time for an epic adventure.  You can still enter the Pinball Run.

The Pinball Run is a ten day rally that starts in Portland, Maine and ends in Key West, Florida.  Normally a drive like this would take anywhere between two and three days, depending on how you drive.  The wizards behind this run have allowed you a whopping ten days to do the trip.  There is one little quirk to this I haven’t mentioned.  This run is on mopeds.

Yep. Mopeds.  Those two wheeled machines that many seem to own, but few will admit to.  If there was ever a vehicle definition of counter culture, the moped is it.

If that wasn’t enough, the organizers of the Pinball Run have limited the size of the engines to 50ccs.  That means you get to ride roughly 1,800 miles at roughly 30 miles an hour.  Doing the math, you’re doing an average of 180 miles per day for six hours of riding; not counting lunch, breakdowns, construction, gassing up, bath room breaks, elevation, and other goodies.

All this with other riders and most likely an angry horde of traffic behind you the entire way.

Motorcycle riders like to show their toughness by doing runs called “Iron Butt”.  These are rides from 1,000 to 5,000 miles in one to five days respectively.  Now I will admit that those are tough long distance challenges, but none of these have the added stress of traffic looming behind you, waiting to pounce like an angry lion.  In my opinion, the Pinball Run is every bit as challenging.

To make it easier, teams are allowed.  You can have up to three riders taking shifts, or you can have three riders each on their own moped.  If one breaks down and can’t be repaired, that rider can become a shift rider on one of the other bikes.

While I may not be going to this (I don’t even own a moped.) it’s always fun to imagine how I would do this.

First is the bike:  I’d go as new as possible.  I know nothing about these machines and want the most reliable one I can get my hands on.  It needs to have good sized wheels on it to handle all the potholes, bumps, dips, and railroad crossings I’ll encounter while helping to give a smooth ride.

Image from


I also want racks on it; front and back.  I’m going to be on the road for ten days.  I’m going to need clothing, toiletries, snacks, water (not too much, mind you), tools, small repair kit, tire repair kit, and other odds and ends.  Weight is an issue with such a weak motored vehicle, but a balance can be made.

Second is safety gear:  Helmets and motorcycle specific clothing are always the smart thing to wear when riding on a motorcycle; They are even more important when on a moped that does not have the power to get out of the way.

Third are maps:  The organizers recommend either a GPS or a GPS app for your smart phone.  They even go so far as to show different ways to keep your smart phone or GPS charged during the run.  This is done because there are check-points along the way.  That’s all fine, but I’d go old school.  My original adventures used maps and they must still be useful since RoadRunner Magazine still prints them on their last page every issue.  Besides the guys over at Pinball dissed analogers.  Someone’s gotta show them what’s up.

Fourth is a computer or tablet of some kind:  If you think I’m going to do this and not blog about it, you’re nuts!  This thing just begs blogging.

Fourth and a half is a camera:  Gotta get pics.  With so much to see, it’d be a shame not to share.

Fifth is some goofy mascot:  A stuffed animal, action figure, pet fish, a trip like this just screams for something out of the ordinary leading the way.

With all this, I’d be good to go.  How about you?  Would you do this run?  If so, what would your set up be?

And for those who can’t get enough, here’s some links.

Oh, and if you’re a woman making this run, tell the organizers that you want a beefcake drawing to even out the cheesecake one.  It’s only fair.

Ketchup with us #24: The first white water

This weeks challenge from Michele and Mel:  Tell us about a significant first day in your life.

A day of adventure, six miles long.

Rocks as big as refrigerators hidden in the rapids.

Oaks and Pines reach out their long branches to snag, scratch, or ensnare the new.

Cool water.

Moments of serene calmness mixed with frantic action.

Which way to go?

Three unexpected tip overs.

The Lower Green of North Carolina.

My first kayak trip.

Sea camping and floating apartments

Photo from

Summer boating is not what you might expect in Florida.  The daily downpours and sheer ferocity of lightning quickly puts a damper on any ideas of a quick trip after work or a nice sunset cruise.  Mornings are somewhat better, but even they have been hampered by wet, windy weather this year.

The weather forecast must’ve been good last Sunday, because I was surrounded by boats on trailers as I gassed up at the local station.  One was a newish bow-rider.  Brightly colored with lots of seats and a sturdy V bottom, this boat was ready to take its owners on a fun filled trip with a possible beaching at a rookery or small island for a lunch picnic.

The second boat was a sportsman’s fancy.  Tall seats with pole carriers and multiple hatches for bait and catches promised a great day of fishing.

The third boat was a mystery to me.  Old in style, it had a look unto itself.  It was closed off like a cabin cruiser, but was too boxy to be that.  It had what looked like to be a W bottom, so it couldn’t be made for deep water and rough waves.  It looked too luxurious for a fishing boat, and yet it seemed too small for houseboat. What was it?  Being probably the only person on the planet who doesn’t have a smart phone or cell internet, I went home and looked it up.

It was a Sea Camper.

Photo from Sea Campers owners group


A Sea Camper was a unique boat experiment in the late 60’s to mid 70’s.  The idea behind it was to have a houseboat that more stable than those on pontoons and yet small enough to be towed and used as a travel trailer.  Basically it was intended to be the VW campervan of the boat world.


At 24 feet in length, it was easy to tow and the boxiness of it allowed for good headroom and lots of living space inside.


These boats weren’t cheap though.  In an era of $4,500 Trans Ams and $10,000 Eldorados, the Sea Camper would cost you $50,000.  To put in in another way, you could have that one boat at $50K or roughly six Jaguar Series III E-Type convertibles with the 12 cylinder engine!


Besides their high price, I can see some other problems with them.  First is the optional flying bridge on them.  Sure it opens up a lot more room and gives a commanding view of what’s going on, but low bridges, tree limbs, and other low hanging items would wreak havoc on that not so little extra.  The other problem would be convincing the manager/owner of the campground that your boat is also an honest travel trailer as well.  Even today, many class-B conversion vans are turned away from campgrounds stating that they are not true RVs.  If they give these vehicles a hard time, imagine what they did to the person pulling in with a boat!

Eventually Sea Camper Inc. was sold off to another person who cut costs to lower the price and quickly sank into the history of boating.  The idea is interesting and I’d love to see someone try it again at a much more realistic price, but I still see the same argument that dogged the original latch onto the new version.  Mainly, how do you convince campgrounds to allow the thing into their sites?

Thinking of this and the idea vacationing on a boat brought back another idea I had.  With the high price of renting an apartment, why not buy a cheap boat and live on that instead?  Browsing through CraigsList I found many boats of liveaboard size for $2000 or less.  (Including a 27’ Morgan)  Rent is ranging from $750 to $900 a month for a single bedroom to two bedroom apartment with kitchen, bath, and living room.  The local Marina is renting out their docks at $11 per linear foot of boat.  That means if you own that 27’ foot sailboat, your rent would be $297 a month.  Sure that doesn’t include electricity, cable, water, and sewer; but you have to throw in water and electricity on top of your apartment rent as well.  Plus you have that deposit, first and last to deal with.  The money going into that could easily pay for the boat.

Some will argue that you don’t have anywhere near the room on a boat that you have with an apartment, and that’s true, but when can you go ever on a trip and take your apartment and all your belongings with you? You can do that with a boat.  (If you bought one that is working and not just a platform.)  Heating and cooling are trickier, but I’m sure that if you do the research, you will find many articles, videos, and such that will show you how to deal with this situation easily and cost effectively.  Laundry is done at the local laundry mat and if your bathroom/head starts feeling too small, you can always use the dock lavatory set aside for renters only.

Your car is as safe at the marina parking lot as it would be at the apartment complex.

Summer is ending and many marinas will have open docks available for rent.  If you live in the rest of the United States, or a place in the world where it snows and freezes, you can buy a “bubbler” that sends air up around your boat and prevents the water from freezing.  This lets the boat stay in the water year round.

Unfortunately some marinas close up entirely for the winter, so do your research and see you can rent a dock where you want to be during the winter.   Who knows?  You might find yourself living in a way you never expected.

A conversation with the devil – part 2


Jack took a drag on his cigarette.  “A killer on the loose?  Haven’t heard of anything in the news.”

“You wouldn’t.”  The stranger said.  “It happened five years ago.”

“Five years?”  Jack cried in astonishment.  “They haven’t caught him yet.”

“Not even close.”  The man replied.

Amazed at the answer, Jack continued to voice his thoughts.  “What makes them think he’s still around?  That’s a long time to get away.”

The stranger’s smile sent a chill down Jack’s spine.  “Oh, he’s here alright.  Come spring time, tourist will call the police and tell them that their cabin was broken into over the winter.  Done smartly, too.  A jimmied lock here, a pried window frame there, all done neat and clean.  No bashed in doors.  No shattered glass.  Real professional.”

“Sounds like you admire him.”  Jack said, his mouth suddenly dry.

“Lots of folk around here do.”  The stranger boasted.  “The man’s a legend in these parts.”

“They admire a murderer?”

The stranger’s eyes flashed dark.  “They admire a man that pushes back when pushed.”

Jack fell silent and stared at the fire for a moment.  The glow had grown brighter under the night sky.

“You sure you don’t want any coffee?”  Jack asked.

“Nah.  I’ll take another smoke though.”  The man answered.

Jack tossed over the pack before reaching for enamel coated tin cup.  “What was your name again?”

“Joe.”  Came the man’s reply as he started to hand the pack back.  “Don’t think I caught yours either.”

“Just set them between us.”  Jack said as he poured the hot coffee into his mug.  “Jack.  My name’s Jack.”

“Nice to meet ya, Jack.”  Joe said as he took a deep drag on the fresh cigarette.  “Been a while since I talked to someone.”

“Nice to meet you too.”   Jack responded.  “It’s rare to find a straight talker nowdays.”

“Damn straight!”  Joe agreed.  “People chat like hens but have nothin’ to say.  God I hate them.”

Jack swallowed some coffee and shrugged his shoulders.  “City life. It’s bred into them.”

Joe spat on the ground.  “Yeah.  Damn lemmings.  And they think they’re better than everyone.”

“That why Rambo killed that guy?”

Joe’s eyes narrowed at the question.  “Yeah.  That’s what they say.  Someone snubbed him, so he snubbed that guy out in response.”

“A little over board, don’t you think?”  Jack asked, taking another drink of coffee.

“What do you mean?”

“Well,” Jack answered as he shifted on the ground.  “It sounds to me like it went a little far.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a little re-educatin’ when needed.  If someone deserves a punch in the nose, than they should get a punch in the nose.  But killin’ someone for a snub.  That ain’t necessary.”

“Seems to me it served its purpose.”  Joe challenged.

“Did it?”  Jack asked.

Joe’s body tensed and coiled.  “You questioning me?”

“Not at all.”  Jack declared.  “I’m just wondering if it was worth the price.”

“What price?”  Joe asked as he puffed heavily.

Jack answered, “His freedom.”

Jack watched as Joe’s body relaxed.  “Hah.  He’s free.  They haven’t been able to touch him for five years now.  He comes and goes as he pleases.  No one can stop him from doin’ what he wants.  That sounds free to me.”

“Does it?”  Jack pondered.  “Hiding out in the woods; Can’t get a job; Can’t go to the city; Can’t get a burger; And stuck in the same area, year after year.”

“Don’t care for any of that.”  Joe stated.  “Besides, maybe he likes the area.”

“I wouldn’t blame him if he did.”  Jack agreed.  “It’s a beautiful area.”

“So why would he leave?”  Joe asked, tossing the spent remains of his cigarette into the fire.

“Because, eventually the people will get tired of him.”  Jack said.  “More tourists will move in with their kids and dogs, and they’re gonna want to not have to worry about them runnin’ around playin’ and such.”

Jack drank the last of his coffee.  “Wanted killers and kids just don’t mix.”

Joe’s voice hissed like a steel blade being unsheathed.  “Maybe if he kills a few more, people be scared away instead.  Then nobody will mess with him.”

“That would just do the opposite.”  Jack said as he set down his cup.  “Killing the people that like him will turn the whole place against him.  They’ll be man hunts and crowds like never before.”

Joe leaned in a little.  “Well, maybe he’ll just kill you.  Just to shut you up.”

Jack shook his head.  “Nah.  He’s smarter than that.  He knows that this late in the year, any bear in the area would be hibernatin’.  There’s no big cats around here, and damn few dogs.  My not comin’ home would alert the sheriff’s department that something’s wrong.  My wife would call up right away.  They’d be searching all over for me.  Goin’ house to house.  Checkin’ all the cabins and such.  And it ain’t like the guy can hide out in the woods right now.  The trees are bare, makin’ it hard to hide, and the cold air demands a fire for survival.”

Joe sat still and let the words sink in deep.

“Besides,” Jack continued.  “As I said earlier.  I ain’t no threat.  Why risk everything over something so little as me.  He’s much smarter than that.”

“Yeah.”  Joe said, calculating.  “No threat.”

Jack looked directly at Joe.  “Yep.”

Joe looked back at the man for a moment and then said, “Well, I’m gonna go.  It’s late and unlike you, I got a bed callin’.  Been a good talk.”

Jack looked up at the man as he stood up.  “Yep.”

“Mind if I take these?”  Joe asked as he took the pack of cigarettes.

“Help yourself.”  Jack replied.

Joe stood straight and looked out into the countryside.  “A week, huh?  Well, be careful.  Rambo’s out there and he’ll be watchin’.”

Jack took a stick and started to poke at the waning fire.  “Thanks.  I will.”