Bluetooth Keyboard


This little guy has changed the way that I use my smartphone.  About a year ago, Jessica and I were discussing whether or not we needed to buy another laptop because we had just had one die and our other one was on its last legs.

We talked about the actual usefullness of a full-fledged laptop versus a Chromebook.  As we decided that a Chromebook was not quite as useful as a laptop, we came to a realization.

The smartphones that we carry in our pockets everyday are at least, if not more, capable than most Chromebooks.  They have constant connectivity to the internet, either over wi-fi or cellular data.  They have all the same apps and even sport better cameras and microphones.  Also, as screens on smartphones get bigger, it is much easier to see the interface.  Really, the only drawback is that nobody really likes typing on a smartphone screen.

Enter the solution:  Ta da!  The cheap bluetooth keyboard.  This one cost me about $19 on Amazon and every smartphone has bluetooth.  This means that you can spend less than $20 and you can have a very capable computer in your pocket.

Now, to be honest, I don’t keep the keyboard with me everywhere I go, but I can take it wherever I need it.  The bonus is that it doesn’t just work with phones.  It works with all tablets and just about all computers. 

No more taking a laptop on trips.  No more worrying about how TSA is going to treat my computer.  No more worrying about whether the hotel has wi-fi.  No more worrying about expensive equipment.  Just a whole lot of pure functionality.

This single keyboard has changed the way that both myself and my wife interact with our technology.  The best part?  We only need one keyboard for all of our devices.

I know this is excessively “techy” but I thought that I would share the idea.  I sure has saved us a lot of money and really increased our functionality.  In fact, I wrote this whole post on my cell phone.  There is no way that I would have done that without this keyboard.

Wow! That was a full day.

My day started with meeting this guy:


It continued by hanging out with this guy:


After that, there was a lot of cleaning and putting away camping gear, hanging out with my family, and mowing.  Lots and lots of mowing.  I love weekends like this, but they make me feel old.  Tired and old.

Fortunately, tomorrow will afford lots of opportunities to process the weekend and prepare for the upcoming week.  Perhaps tomorrow will bring something profound.  Regardless, last night’s camping and today’s mowing were a welcome respite from this past week’s media onslaught of dreck; focusing on everything from the Duggars to Bruce Jenner’s sex change.  There is nothing like a little bit of time outdoors to make one realize exactly how little the lives of celebrities that I have never met should mean to me.

My daughter got to hold a frog.  My son ate a bunch of marshmallows and entertained everyone with whom he came into contact, today.  I took care of the yard at my parent’s house.  I really didn’t have time to care about the internet.  it was nice.

The Absolute Last Place Where You Would Expect To Find Something Profoundly Truthful

FWord2I don’t make any apologies for my musical tastes.  Like everyone else born in the early 70’s, I grew up listening to the radio and then MTV.  A steady diet of pop and country (because of my parents) gave way to rock and metal and then eventually, punk.  Punk music of just about any form is the ultimate panacea for those of us with attention disorders.  It keeps us focused and productive, all while railing against the society which produced all of the jerk-wads who picked on us for being socially awkward.  I call that a win-win.

However, as much as I love punk music, the last thing that you can call punk music is a source of wisdom for a well-adjusted adult life.  Anti-antidisestablishmentarianism will only take someone so far.  You can imagine my surprise when I watched a documentary which was referred to me by a friend and I found that several of the pillars of the punk community have had kids and have some serious wisdom to offer, regarding fatherhood.  The documentary is called “the other F word” and you can find it here.

Be warned, this film is not safe for work…or kids…and most pets.  If you choose to watch it, ignore Fat Mike.  He is an idiot and a pervert.  Beyond that, you will find a collection of men (often from broken homes) who had kids and suddenly discovered that being a father brought about an amazing change in priorities.

What I found to be amazing was how much that it instinctively made sense to these guys to put their kids first.  The amount of traditional family values coming out of these guy’s mouths is absolutely astounding and it left me with this one, profound takeaway:  There is absolutely no excuse for not being there for your kids.

Not one acceptable excuse.

If this bunch of non-conformists and screw-ups can figure that out with all of their baggage, then anyone can.  Seriously, hearing Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 question how it was ever okay for parents to just let their kids roam the neighborhood from school letting out until the street lights came on was just sublime.  Mark Hoppus.  Mark “running through the streets naked in a music video” Hoppus.  Yeah, wisdom from guys like that.

Countdown to June 2nd, 2016

I’m headed somewhere and I’ve spent the last few months really contemplating the destination.  After taking my last birthday in stride, I’m making plans for what I want to do with the rest of my life.  It is kind of like constructing a road map for an open-ended road trip.  I don’t know where I am going to end up, but I definitely need to know where I am headed.  I think that taking some time to intentionally plot one’s future falls firmly within the realm of “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

As part of the introspection process, I couldn’t help but notice where we all are as a society in contemporary America and I’ve come to a conclusion:  the wheels are about to come off of this thing.  I don’t meant that we’ve got a flat tire and have just not noticed the noise.  I mean that we are doing 120 mph and there is maybe one lugnut left on each wheel.  We’ve got some serious problems.

So, here is my solution.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading, reorganizing, and re-prioritizing.  In fact, I believe that all of us needs to start with a hard look in the mirror before we set about to address larger issues.  Regardless, I have some goals in place for myself and one of them is that I am going to write every single day from a whole year.  While this is primarily an exercise in writing for my own benefit, I also hope that publishing on the website will give me some accountability…along with a forum to either address some issues which merely need clarity or set fire to some issues which need to be burned to the ground.

The Venerable Ford E350 15 Passenger Van…and the idiots who have ruined its reputation.

CaptureThis is a typical Ford E350 15-Passenger Van.  There are somewhere around a quadrillion of these things on the road.  I’m not sure of how many zeroes that is, but I’m sure that it is a lot and I’m pretty sure that is an accurate number.

You might be asking yourself: Why are there so many of these vans on the road?  The answer is simple.  These things are an engineering marvel!  They are built like tanks, out-handle and out-perform similar offerings from other manufacturers, and they last forever if they are properly maintained.  I can vouch for this because I by my estimation, I have drive somewhere around 500,000 miles in these vans.

Another interesting fact about the E350 platform is that the vast majority of ambulances in the United States are built on this platform.  In fact, all they do to the chassis to make it ambulance-ready is change the rear axle to dual wheels.  The E350 is simply one of the most amazing and reliable vehicles ever built.

Now, here is the central question:  Why am I singing the praises of this vehicle?  Am I a paid endorser?  No, I just wanted to do a little bit to help clear the name of this much maligned vehicle.

You must realize that this van has taken a beating in the press over the last decade because of school and camp related accidents where students were badly injured or killed.  The press loves  to blame the vehicle, saying that it is a poor design and that the chassis wasn’t designed to handle that kind of weight or weight distribution.

I’m here to tell you that those accusations are simply inaccurate.  The E350 chassis is built just like the F350 and is capable of payloads that make it carry just as much weight as if it were towing the largest of travel trailers.  These vans could carry 15 passengers made of lead and they would still ride and handle well.  Well, that is unless one thing happens….an idiot gets behind the wheel.

Oh yes, it is now time to get the facts straight.  Idiot drivers are to blame for these wrecks; not the E350.  You must realize, there is this simple equation that comes into effect when you take an object and give it speed:  Mass x Velocity = Momentum.  Most people seem to like to ignore physics, but trust me…Physics is the law.  Physics doesn’t pull you over and write you a ticket for a violation.  No sir, Physics skips right to the judgment and sentencing phase when you screw up.  Physics is the real world equivalent of Judge Dredd.

The fact is that an E350 is a huge passenger platform that drives as easily as a typical SUV and so people get behind the wheel and forget that they have 14 other lives in the vehicle with them.  The problem is that drivers of these vans need to take that responsibility very seriously and many of them don’t.  When that happens, you get what I witnessed this morning on the way to work.

Three camp vans passed me that were obviously on the way to the airport to do what is known in the business as an “airport run” to drop off last program’s students and pick up the students for the next one.  The problem being that those vans passed me at all.  I was running somewhere in the neighborhood of 74 miles per hour when those vans passed me like I was standing still.  If any of those vans had a blow out in one of the front tires, the result would have been tragic; if it were either of the front two, it would have been a multiple vehicle catastrophe.

There was little more that two car lengths between each van and they were running around 85 miles per hour.  I’m sure that if they wrecked that the news media would brand it “another 15 passenger van accident”, when what the really ought to do is let everyone know that it was merely physics passing judgment on criminal driving decisions.

Leeroy Jenkins and the NSA

I know that there is much debate about what is the best indicator that America and its government have irrecoverably started the decline that has affected every dominant civilization in recorded history.  I now have the definitive answer for that question.

Because it is politically incorrect to profile based on actual risk factors for terrorism that might reflect someone’s nation of origin or religious affiliation, we have chosen to monitor World of Warcraft and other gaming communities.  That’s right….gamers.  The same people who have to eat Hot Pockets and store soda and Cheetos near their televisions because they only leave the room to urinate during gaming hours.

The FBI couldn’t stop the Fort Hood shooting even though they had numerous emails between Nidal Hasan and Anwar al-Awlaki (a known promoter of terrorism) and yet the NSA thinks it is wise to monitor gamers.  That is just plan genius.

At least I’ve got some chicken.

The Demolition Dissertation


I love demolition derby!

Actually, that last sentence may have been a bit of a misleading statement.  I love the International Demolition Derby in Cleveland County, North Carolina!

The fact that there is a difference between those previous statements is why I’m writing this post.  There are a lot of people who are going to read this who spent an inordinate amount of time during the mid-to-late nineties going with me to witness this annual event at the Cleveland County Fair.  Some have even made the journey with me a couple of times since then and in recent years, we have been sorely disappointed with our demolition derby at the Cleveland County Fair.  Last week, I learned why.

Last week, Matthew Kiggen invited me to come down to Boiling Springs and go see demolition derby at the Bar H Arena.  Having been there for lots of haunted hayrides, I decided to drive down, grab him, Seaver Wait, and a hoagie from the Italian Garden and head over to the event.  As we settled into our seats and checked out the program, I noticed that this was billed as The International Demolition Derby and that Shane Kirby, an old friend from Gardner-Webb, was scheduled to drive in one of the heats.  As the national anthem played and the invocation prayer was said, I began to realize that this was indeed THE demolition derby.

According to Shane, who not only gave me the skinny on the situation but also won his pastor versus pastor division, the guy who used to do the demolition derby at the Cleveland County Fair is one of his church members and had lost the contract for doing the derby at the fair a few years ago.  Yep, this was indeed the man who so many of us had heard utter the every familiar “Caution, Caution, Caution!”

The event was far superior to the last few years at the fair.  The track wasn’t so wet that the drivers couldn’t get traction and there was some amazing destruction.  One car caught on fire, one’s motor nearly blew apart, and there was enough smoke and steam for a KISS concert.  At least two cars came over or through the barrier and there was barbecue, as well as other concessions.  Honestly, that was the best $10 I’ve spent in quite some time.

So, now we are left with a bit of a good news/bad news situation.  The good news is that now we know not to waste our money on the vastly inferior demolition derby at the Cleveland County Fair and to take our business on over to the Bar H Arena for a reliable and familiar demolition derby experience.  The bad news is that they are done for the season.

Nevertheless, I will be watching and staying in contact with Shane regarding next year’s festivities and I look forward to seeing some of you at the International Demolition Derby in Boiling Springs.

The Oil Can

Over the past several years, I’ve noticed that I get more and more complaints from people in the Asheville area about the services that they use for keeping up with their vehicles, houses, etc.  I’ve always referred people to the businesses that I’ve used and trusted for years, but I held off on doing so on the internet.  Lately, I’ve decided that throwing these recommendations out there for everyone might be the most helpful thing for everyone involved.  With that in mind, here is my first recommendation:


The Oil Can was started by a guy that used to work for my dad when I was growing up.  They were located on Sardis Road and ended-up selling out to another oil-change outfit who subsequently jacked-up their prices and ran off all of their customers.  One of the guys that worked with the original owner, Henry, restarted the business at a different location and brought on Mark, another one of the original Oil Can guys.

They do oil changes, inspections, and basic repair services (such as brakes).  They also sell tires and wheels.  Every oil change comes with a full check and top-off of all lubricants and fluids.  They also clean the exteriors of the windows and vacuum out the vehicle.  I can’t recommend these guys enough.  They are honest, do great work, and are very reliable.  Their services are priced reasonably and they do a great job of building a relationship with their regular customers.  Honestly, I can’t recommend these guys enough.

Here’s the info: