Month: May 2014

Can I get a jump?

Sunday was a long day. My wife and I had walked around Niagara Falls on the Canadian side all day. We covered about 15 miles and explored the immediate area on foot.

We visited a casino (a great place for a free Coke and some relief from the heat). We went through a haunted house that didn’t result in a single jump scare. And I spook easily. We went through the Guinness World Record museum. It was a total bust. We saw room after room of plaques talking about the world records, but very little in the way of art or artifacts from those records.

We went through a wooden maze. I don’t know why I agreed to it. They always look fun. But given my inability to navigate around my neighborhood, I don’t know why I think places where I’m purposefully lost would be fun. That’s my entire life!

The highlight of the day may have been the Niagara SkyWheel. A huge Ferris Wheel that towers 175 feet over the area. From the SkyWheel we were able to see Niagara Falls from a whole different perspective. It was neat seeing the attractions from the sky.

Niagara Falls from the SkyWheel
After exploring the area, and doing our part to give to the local economy, we returned to our car. It was getting dark and we wanted to rest our feet before the evening’s fireworks.

As we approached the quickly emptying field-turned-parking lot, I was flagged down by two older men. They asked in a thick Indian accent if I had jumper cables. I did. I always have jumper cables. Ever since I got my first car and was given jumper cables for it, I’ve dutifully kept them at the ready.

I spun the car around, hooked up the cables and got their car going for them on the first try. They thanked me profusely and we parted ways.

My wife asked the question I had thought too, “Who goes on a trip out-of-state without jumper cables?” A better question. Who drives around without jumper cables at all?

This is the third time this year I’ve jumped someone who did not have cables. And each time I find it curious. How can you not have jumper cables? If I’m stranded in a parking lot, especially in a place foreign to me, relying on the help of strangers, I’m going to surely have the one tool I need to do the job.

If you do not have jumper cables right this very moment, stop reading and go buy these. They are $11.10 with free Prime shipping on Amazon. Go buy them. Put them in your car. Stick them next to your spare tire.

For bonus credit, go buy a Juno Jumpr. This lovely little brick will charge your gadgets and jumpstart your car. Buy the brick, keep it in your bag to make sure your phone has power and use it to get your car going .

Sure, it is expensive to buy these things. Not jumper cables, there is no excuse for not having jumper cables. But there are other expensive tools. But when you need them, they’re worth every penny you paid for them.

Be prepared. Don’t rely on the kindness and preparedness of strangers. Be the good Samaritan. Help people with your jumper cables. And when you need a jump, you’ll be prepared.

These poor guys were stuck hundreds of miles from home. They didn’t have the proper tool. They had to not only find someone to help them, but also someone who had jumper cables.

Don’t leave yourself unprepared. Have the tools you need. And jumper cables!

Today’s Random Idea – Obituaries for those killed in action movies

For every action movie there is a huge death count. For an hour of film, there are countless deaths. Mostly in the wake of the heroes brave struggle against evil.

Sometimes, the hero’s love-interest, trusted friend or family member pays the ultimate price. But what about all of those people who are randomly killed during the movie who aren’t the star? They’re minding their own business. They’re going about their life oblivious to the epic battle raging up ahead. They board a bus or a train unaware the fate of the world hangs in the balance a few blocks again.

What about the guy driving home from work being crushed under falling debris? How about the woman zapped by a laser beam from an alien weapon? How many people are crushed under the weight of a giant, rampaging lizard?

Who writes their stories?

Theodore Robert Melkavich, 39, was killed today when part of the Empire State Building crushed his car as he drove home from his job at a local florist. He is survived by wife Linda and two pet parakeets, Maude and Earl.

Jordan Smith Johnson, 22, was incinerated when a last blast from a retreating alien cruise struck him as he waited to cross the street at the corner of 9th and Lee. He lived alone and has no relatives.

Ruth Barbara Caruso, 14, was crushed under the tail of Godzilla as it went rampaging through central park. She was playing in a sandbox when all of the sudden, the creature emerged, raced through the park, crushing her and 13 other children with its tail. Her parents, Ronald and Gwendolyn were also killed in the attack.


I love The Pastry Box Project. It’s the best addition I’ve made to my reading list this year. Catching up on it, I read Jeff Eaton’s piece Listen or GTFO. He writes,

Sure, some white men. But not all, obviously. As I prepared to jump into the conversation — to help clarify that not all of us were determined to hog the spotlight, that we were excited to help — I did something uncharacteristic.

I shut the fuck up.

I shut the fuck up, and I tried to listen.

Defending ourselves is always easier than listening to difficult truths.

Perhaps, just maybe, it’s time for us to quiet down and listen to the people who have to live it.

We may not know all the answers, but we can stop pretending it’s someone else’s problem. We can listen.

I am a straight, white male. I’m also 6’5″ and 350 lbs. I’m a mountain of a man and about as alpha a male as I can get without being in proper shape with rippling muscles.

I see how my wife is treated. I see how my friends are treated. I see how women around me are treated. I don’t try to defend men. We are the problem. We are the cause of the pain and anger and hurt. We are the cause and we are the solution. Period. It’s not someone else’s problem. It’s our problem to solve.

What is the solution? I don’t know. This is where we all need to shut up and listen. Listen to women. Listen to our wives and girlfriends. Listen to our friends. Our mothers. Our sisters. Our grandmothers and if they’re still with us, great-grandmothers. This isn’t a new problem. This is a long-held, deeply rooted problem.

It’s not one we’re going to fix in a week or a month or even a generation. It’s bigger than all of us. We can start taking small steps. And the first step is to listen.

Talk to the women in your life. Ask them, what is it like going through your day? What is riding a bus or driving a car with the windows down like? What about walking down the street on a hot day?

How does it make you feel? Start there. And Yes, all women have a story to share. Listen to their stories. If you’re a women, share your story. We can seek solutions when we start to listen.


Since this is the time of year where all the pundits predict what will be in the next iPhone, I’ll throw my hat into the iRing.


From The Wirecutter’s review of the Samsung Galaxy S5,

…it’s the first widely available flagship smartphone that is water-resistant out of the box. And we mean “dropped it in the toilet and survived” level of water-resistant: the Galaxy S5’s IP67 rating means it can survive being submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.

I want a phone that will survive a summer rainstorm in my pocket. I want a phone that will live through an accidental drop into a glass of water or slip into a sink.


I know iPhones look very pretty. I know nerds like to ooo and aahh over their gorgeous, glassy exteriors. But I’d prefer a phone that doesn’t shatter upon impact. I’d like a phone that will survive a chance meeting with a sidewalk.

My iPhone 4 was pristine for just over two years. I’d dropped it on my desk, car floor and the tiled floors of my apartment without injury.

Until it slipped from my hands while putting it in my pocket. It fell to the sidewalk during a walk and smashed the front of the screen to bits. A fall of less than 4 feet and the phone was toast.

I know the front of the screen must be transparent. But is glass really the best choice? Is there not a plastic that would serve the same purpose?

Battery Life

I want a phone that can last through the day. And by day I mean the about 12 hours I am out of the house. From when I leave for work to when I return home. I should be able to go to work, use my phone and return home without it dying at noon. You know what can last far longer than that?

My Bluetooth headphones. The Motorola S305. I’ve had these things for a couple of years and they routinely work from when I get in the morning. I can listen to them all day at work. And they’ve still got enough juice to hit the gym after I get home.

I can’t say the same for my phone. Make the phone thicker. Put a bigger, better battery in it. I don’t need a phone that’s a sliver of paper. I need a phone that lasts. Without power, the beautiful phone becomes the world’s shiniest paper weight.

A screen I can read in direct sunlight

When it is bright and sunny outside, I can’t see the screen. Even at its highest brightness, it’s still much too dark. I would love to be able to look down at my phone, standing beneath the summer’s sun and read the screen without straining my eyes. I want to use my phone outside.

That’s what I want out of a phone. Much the same as I got from my first cell phone and have wanted those same features ever since phones got smart. I don’t want a museum piece. I want a telephone I don’t have to be terrified to drop once.

I want a phone I can use and live with. I want a phone I can have in my pocket if I get caught in the rain. I want to be able to enjoy life and not think about my phone. It’s an accessory. A toy. A companion as I navigate my life.

It’s not in control. I don’t want to pretend it is any longer.

Train Mode

Every morning I enjoy Train Mode. Each work day, I wait for a bus. Which I take to a train. Where I ride underground for about 35 minutes until I arrive at work. Then I rise zombie-like from beneath the ground and emerge to the light.

Each morning my mind races with all the things I could be, should be, might be doing. And then I don’t. I do a single thing.

When I step into a train, my phone becomes an island. I turn off all wireless communications. My phone is adrift in a sea of silence. No email. No social. No interaction.

I open Kindle. I read. I enjoy the blissful silence and focus of words on a page.

This past week I’ve read with my phone in one hand and a paper notebook in the other. I’ve written thoughts and pondered questions. I’ve interacted with the book in a real way.

Not passively reading, but reading to remember. Reading to know. I’ve ignored the rest of the world and for that short train ride, it’s just me, the words, and my thoughts. And it gets to happen again at day’s end. Where I wait for a train. To a bus. To home. All without the phone making a peep. Unless I put on music to drown out the song of public transit.

And it’s blissful.