Congratulations Carrie!

Carrie Underwood is the latest American Idol! Congratulations Carrie! Your performance tonight with Rascal Flatts was absolutely outstanding. I look forward to downloading your new album on iTunes very soon!

Embracing New Technology.

Being the gadget freak that I am, I am always eager to embrace new technology. There’s no “keeping up with the Joneses” with me, actually, the Joneses are working their butt off to keep with me when it comes to have the latest, flashiest new gadgets on the block.

Last night was our second attempt to join the whole internet-phone VoIP revolution. Disappointed by the quality of phone service that our traditional land line provides (and the large sum of money that it costs), I decided we would try these services such as Vonage or AT&T CallAdvantage. For those unfamiliar with the term VoIP, here’s a quick explanation. “VoIP” stands for “Voice over IP”, which is essentially making telephone calls over your high speed internet connection. For Earl and I, this means our cable modem. When you sign up for VoIP, you pick get a little call adapter that has a network plug and a phone plug on it. This provides the interface to which your phone can be attached to your network, or internet connection. Many of these interfaces have routers in them so you can basically pull out your router and install the VoIP interface in its place. The interface takes the analog signals of your telephone and converts them to digital data, to be sent out over the internet to a similar device connected to, most likely, a traditional telephone switch, which then routes the call to the proper party via traditional methods. The digital data sent over the internet is nothing but bits and bytes, not differing in any way from streaming audio or video or even browsing a webpage.

At least that’s how I understand it all to work.

Anyways, Earl and I tried out Vonage a couple of months ago, but didn’t like the quality of the service nor the quality of customer service. So we cancelled and stuck with Verizon on our land line. Our land line, by the way, has a lot of “ground hum” on it (it sounds like Janay from AI is humming out of tune on our phones all the time). Verizon claims that it can’t be fixed. So we decided to give VoIP another chance, this time with AT&T Callvantage.

Our little VoIP box arrived yesterday. I connected it to the network, ready for some cheap telephone capabilities, and WHAM! Nothing. I guess it wasn’t ready to let my fingers do the walking.

So I called customer service, which is traditionally a frightening experience.

I reached Tiffany (who sounded more like an Olga) who spent the next 85 minutes trying to troubleshoot the problem. She gave me the administrator username and password for the web interface, which I promptly wrote down and then we worked together to get it working. After 85 minutes, she opened up a trouble ticket and sent it to Tier II support, who would call me back.

After I hung up with Tiffany, I did a little of my own troubleshooting and then everything started talking and all was good. Tier II didn’t call back, because they probably saw that my network connection came up.

So now we’re happy AT&T Callvantage users. There’s a *ton* features on this line that are way cool, including a “Follow Me” type service that rings your home phone and any other phone number you want rung at that same time when there’s a call coming in. So we can route our home phones to our cell phones and not worry about three or four rings before forwarding or forgetting to turn it off and such. Plus, our voice mail messages get e-mailed to us! NICE.

It’s always fun to embrace new technology.

I Did My Deed.

I did what I vowed I wouldn’t do. I voted this evening in the final round of American Idol. And I voted for

Carrie.

I like them both. I really do. However, as an ex-radio professional, I feel that Carrie has a better shot at being the true American Idol in that she has more marketability and can easily pick up where Shania will leave off some day. Plus, Bo has already toured around. His band has already opened for national acts. Let Carrie do her thing and do it well.

I was also a sucker for her final performance tonight.

Best of luck to both of them.

Ride.

With the long weekend approaching,I’m already planning on taking a long road trip on Saturday. I have visions of driving across the country and back, but honestly I don’t that can be accomplished on one day during Memorial Day weekend, what with the traffic and everything.

God bless Earl. He happily jumps into the passenger seat, ready to tackle our next road adventure. Since driving across the country is out of the question, we’ll probably tour around the Hudson Valley a little bit. Or maybe wine country along Lake Erie on the other end of the state. Perhaps both. We’ll have to see.

I love going for rides. Aside from my road geek interests, i just find riding in the car very comforting. I especially like riding in the car after dark during a new moon. The world seems to have a sinister edge to it, as we go about our business under a blanket of darkness. I find a certain sense of adventure.

When I was a kid, we would go for rides from time to time. Dad would often want to check out the progress of someone building a house or the remodeling of a camp or some other project his business was working on, so the four of us would pile into the ’71 Heavy Chevy (yeah my Dad was cool having a new muscle car and all), and later the ’78 Impala and go see what was going on. We’d occasionally go for a long ride that would take us elsewhere in the state. He once drove us to Delhi to show us where he went to college. Or we’d ride through the Finger Lakes. And once or twice a month we’d drive the 40 minutes from Grandma and Grandpas in Syracuse to our home on a Sunday night. I have very happy memories of my family from the back seat of the car. We didn’t play “Count The Cow” or get all breathless over “License Plate Bingo”, but rather we’d chat a little bit about whatever state the world was in, all accompanied to the sounds of 62 WHEN in the background, or whatever local AM radio station we could find. When we were all in the car, we were all together, spending time with each other. Dad wasn’t in the basement working on the airplane. Mom wasn’t doing her thing with the Eastern Star. Jennifer wasn’t at baton twirling lessons and I wasn’t building paths through the woods. No, we were all in the car, enjoying each other’s company, talking and if we were lucky, stopping at A&W or Carrols for a bite to eat.

As an adult, I would often go for rides alone. Whomever I was dating at the time wasn’t really that interested in checking out some far off nook or cranny elsewhere in the state, so I’d feed my loner tendencies and enjoy the trip alone. Then Earl came along, and well, like the rest of my life, that all changed. He gladly jumped in the passenger seat, gladly listened to radio and gladly talked about whatever state the world was in. That’s one of just many ways I knew my life changed when I met Earl.

Yeah, I’m really looking forward to going for a ride on Saturday.

Monday, Monday.

I find Mondays to be so interesting. I’m usually dog tired because I’ve screwed up my sleep patterns over the weekend, opting to stay up late and sleep in during the weekend. And where does the term “dog tired” come from anyways? It seems like it would be “cat tired”, as its cats that sleep 2/3 of the day.

But I digress.

This morning I was up at 6:00 a.m. to resume my walking. I briefly thought about sleeping in and just saying the hell with it, but I felt too guilty and too fat to just lie in bed and to resume my dream. They say guilt is a feeling from within. No one can make you feel guilty, you allow yourself to feel guilty.

I’m apparently very good at this.

So I hauled myself out of bed, threw some kibble in Tom’s bowl and hit the open road, where approximately four surly drivers, who undoubtedly were not happy it was Monday morning, aimed their big ass SUVs at me.

Tomorrow I’m selecting a different route.

When Earl and I were contemplating moving 18 months ago, I vowed that we would not move to a busy road again. Our old house was on a state route which was frequently traveled by large trucks, small cars and prisoners escaping the local prison. Walking on the road was not enjoyable, as the speed limit of 55 was all but ignored and no one in this area really is a good driver of any fashion. Except myself, of course.

So here we are on a county maintained route, which is curvier, not as wide and signed for a speed limit of 45. The speed limit is still ignored, the drivers still suck and to top it all off, we’re closer to the “suburbs” which means yuppies shaving and/or putting on makeup whilst driving to work. At least in the old house we were out in farm country where people rarely showered, let alone shaved and/or put on makeup.

Oh calm down, I’m exaggerating about the farm people. But you get my drift. I can see the e-mail now. “I’ve lived on a farm all my life and I am a clean, respectable human being.” I know, I know, and I probably find you sexy too, sweat and all.

Anyways, after my joyous walking experience I headed off to work which was rather pleasant. Everyone says “It’s Monday”. “Happy Monday.” I try to be as pleasant as possible, though I do feel like I’m nodding off because my sleeping pattern is getting back on track. I actually wake up around 11:06 a.m. “Wow! I’m at work!” Then I get productive.

Now that I think about it, Monday only differs from the rest of the week in that I jerk awake around 10:54 instead of 11:06.

But it’s all good. I try desperately not to look ahead to the upcoming weekend. It seems like it’s just looming on the horizon. For if you wish for nothing but the weekend, then you’re not enjoying your week. Then time flies by and before you know it, you’ve done nothing but wish time away.

I hope you everyone had a wonderful Monday.

Interoffice Communication.

Earl and I have separate computer rooms these days. I’ve moved into the music studio and he has the old wreck room. The reason for this is because he likes to sing out loud and I like to do the same, usually to a different tune.

Anyways, we IM back and forth once in a while or just yell.

Him: “Are we going for a ride this afternoon? We’re not eating supper until 7 or so.”

Me: “Where would you like to go?”

Him: “Poughkeepsie.”

Now, I have no idea why Earl wants to head to Poughkeepsie but I doubt we can get there and back before the supper deadline.

Square Peg. Round Hole.

Earl and I went to see “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” tonight. It was a decent enough movie and did well to tie up some loose ends and pave the way for the original Star Wars movie that came out so long ago. It does amaze me how far we’ve come in CGI effects over the past couple of decades. The movie looks like there was liberal use of “cut and paste”, there were so many starships and such whizzing around in almost every scene.

After the movie, we weren’t that tired so we got all spontaneous like and headed to Syracuse and went to the bar there called ‘Rain’. I must say that I’m feeling rather obsolete these days. I was the only man in the bar with a full beard (Earl shaved his off a couple of days ago, opting for the rather handsome mustache only look). I’ll bet $5.00 I was the only one wearing 501s. I kind of felt out of place with the shaved head and full beard, as the majority of guys there seemed to be very metrosexual. The older guys that weren’t going metrosexual were desperately trying to grab on to their fading youth and quite frankly were losing the battle. I must say I don’t get it. When did it become commonplace for men to get shaped, arched eyebrows that used to be found only on 1930s era starlets? Do men ever grow full beards instead of these thin line, take five hours to trim job thingees? Do a lot of men in their early 20s get their hair highlighted and/or streaked? I thought that was reserved for older women that were trying to cover up the gray. And when did men start wearing Britney Spears midriff shirts? Call me crazy, but I like men that are men. You don’t have to be a construction worker or anything, but rather just your average Joe. I guess I don’t have tolerance for those that seem so posey. Hell, maybe I’m just judgmental and am not accepting them for whomever they are. But If I ever had the occasion to play around with any of these guys (not that I would every touch them with a ten foot pole, being married and all), I’d break them in half and they’d go home crying to their mama. Thank god I’m not in the dating game.

So Earl and I had two drinks and headed home. It seemed like the best thing to do, what with us being married and all. And being the big boys that we are, we had a little bit of Mc Donalds at one of the Thruway rest areas.