Tag Archives: iPhone

This is the universe speaking. Are you listening, Marie?



I know the universe is talking to me. And I’m listening, but I need help figuring out what it’s trying to say. These are the things that happened when we tried to take our first ever undeadlined trip in our RV Rigby this week. Yeah, it didn’t go so well. I’m writing this from my sickbed.

1. Last week, I didn’t feel good all week. Had a sore throat and a cough. But mostly just wiped out. Still managed to do all the things I had scheduled for the week, but otherwise just felt like dried snot. However, I thought I was back to my old self by Sunday, and was good to go.

2. I found all the paperwork for reservations and background material I had gathered for the scenic drives. But had the nagging feeling I was forgetting something and I just never felt all the way ready, if you know what I mean.

screen4web3. The evening before we left, I dropped my four year old iPhone and the screen shattered. Now mind you, I got my first iPhone the day they became available in June 2007. I didn’t exactly wait in line, because when I saw the line in Pioneer Place, I decided we should eat dinner and come back later. Which was just as the line was tapering down, and they still had phones! I’ve dropped my phones a bazillion times, at least. They never got even a ding in all the prior drops. Yes, I do use one of those small bumper cases on it. But this time it fell screen first on the edge of a Fiestaware plate. Believe me, you do not ever want to go up against Fiestaware. That shit is solid as the Pre-Cambrian shield. (Geography nerd joke, don’t worry if you don’t find it funny. You pretty much had to be in a Geomorphology class.)

4. We were on a tight timeline for leaving Sunday so I didn’t have enough time to make a reasoned purchasing decision or Apple Store encounter before we left, so I decided to make do by getting a clear cover to hold the glass screen pieces in place and protect my fingers from the sharp glass blade edges. Mind you, this was not even an adequate stop gap measure because the screen cover made it hard for pressure to be detected by the phone and there were psychedelic picture shows whenever I pressed down on anything. I pretty much gave up trying to type and depended on Siri for pretty much everything.

5. We went to my dear brother’s 64th birthday/retirement gathering and all was well. Afterward, we went to my mom’s to spend the night in Rigby outside her house. All of a sudden, I felt like I was going to collapse and laid down and the next thing I remember is regaining consciousness a few hours later. Felt much better but it was so weird.

6. Started coughing again that night and Ric said, are you sure we should do this, and I said, yes, the clear forest and mountain air is just what I need.

7. Had three warning dreams Sunday night. The warnings were about three really different things, none about camping, but it felt like they were all delivering the same message: Do not go about your business as you have been. Watch out and be very careful. Danger lies ahead and you don’t even know it.

8. Monday morning, all the outside electrical source power in Rigby suddenly stopped working when a circuit breaker blew in mom’s house. Nothing Ric tried restored it and the lights showed we weren’t getting anything in. Whatever that means. My cough was getting worse.

9. When we stopped to get gas, some got on Ric’s shoes, and my cough got ever worser.

10. The ride over the hills along the road and river where I grew up was wonderful and the air smelled so good. Hope was rising! But nothing from my childhood really remained. It’s become a ghost town. Well, it was never a town really. It’s a ghost zone. Businesses gone. Buildings boarded up. Structures collapsing all around. The whole place is actually for sale. It’s hard to see a future there. It felt really ominous.

craterlakeforweb11. We made it to Crater Lake early afternoon Monday and it was just as stunning as I remembered. The weather was beyond gorgeous. I sat and stared into the blue. Loved watching Ric see it for the first time. But after walking a few steps, I had to sit down and rest because I was out of breath. Must be the altitude, I thought. Been at sea level all these years, I forgot how to act at elevation.

12. Even though it was the off season, we had to wait quite a while for dinner. During dinner, my voice went missing. You could watch it happen in slow motion.

13. We had no cell phone coverage whatsoever. AT&T, have you not yet discovered areas outside cities? Wifi was expensive. A private company charges for wifi in national parks? Seriously? But never mind, because a phone with a screen so broken you can’t really touch it isn’t all that useful when you don’t have a voice to talk to Siri.

14. The more my voice went, the more my cough came. I’m sure it kept poor Ric from sleeping too. My throat started closing up and my chest was tingling all over. At 2:30 am, he sat up and said, “We need to get you home. You stay in bed. I’m driving us now.” I didn’t object. Objecting is hard when you can’t make a sound.

15. On the way home, Ric called my doctor’s office, only to learn the whole building had flooded and they were in crisis mode. He tried to get an appt at urgent care that takes Medicare, but appts were booked for two solid days. So we went to the ER. It was so busy that they were no longer accepting ambulances. Several hours later, the person who saw me asked, “Did you try to call your doctor instead of coming to ER?” and I tried to explain about the building flooding but that’s really hard to do without a voice of any kind. I tried to mime it, but she just said never mind.

15. I’m on my second day of bed rest and it, along with codeine cough syrup, is starting to help. I still can’t make sounds, but I can type. I had to write this down because someday I will forget that this many things can go wrong at once and run the risk of rinsing and repeating.

I know you’re talking to me universe, but what is it exactly that you are trying to say? Don’t ever leave home? Don’t even think of taking an actual real vacation? The end is near? You’re out to get me? I need to learn yet another hard lesson? You’re messing with my mind?

It feels like you’re being a little passive aggressive here, universe. Can you please just put it into a plain old sentence, using direct words with unambiguous meanings? I’m getting too old for this.


CKC #35: Is it hot in here, or just Smokey?


So this is how it went.

I met the planet’s most compassionate and generous man when I interviewed him for a feature story – Three Men Who Save Children –  for the Meyer Memorial Trust’s annual report in 2001.

Duncan Campbell grew up on Portland’s north side, the story of his childhood can be illustrated by his memory of wandering the streets in the wee hours of the night when he was a toddler as his parents drunk themselves into a stupor at the local tavern. Somehow, against all odds, Duncan survived childhood and grew up to be a very very successful businessman. He used his success to reach back and find the children who had lives like he had – and worse – and provide them with what he didn’t have: support that builds resiliency.

He founded Friends of the Children, one of the most impressive nonprofit organizations I’ve encountered. The organization identifies children in its communities who have the most dire and challenging lives and provides them with a friend. A mentor who is there for them for whatever they need whenever they need it. And they usually need a whole lot a whole lot of the time. Friends of the Children pays its mentors the same salary as public school teachers and hires only the best among those who apply.

Duncan is delighted by Smokey’s performance and by his bringing the delight to such an appreciative audience (us)

This model has been replicated in other cities, but the heart and soul of the organization is in Portland, not all that far from where Duncan toddled out in the middle of the night alone to look for his parents.

I’ve met a lot of people who appear to enjoy the happiness of others. Some of them genuinely glory in success they see others achieve. But I’ve observed that if you stick around long enough, some people’s apparent celebration of others is hijacked by feelings of envy and bitterness lying somewhere at varying depths beneath the surface. Eventually it shows and it is so painful to watch.

I don’t think I’ve met anyone who enjoys others’ happiness more than Duncan. He is the genuine article. His delight grows as it is powered by his enjoyment of another’s delight. That’s one reason so many people love him.

When Duncan learned about our household’s love of soul music, especially from the golden years of Motown and Stax Volt, he’s made it a point to help us get where and when a legend from that era appears in Portland.

For example, we sat in the second row at the Schnitz when Jerry Butler came to town. When he sang Your Precious Love (one of the all time most incredible love songs, he wrote it for a school assignment when he was a teenager!), Ric and Blaine had to spray reconstitution oil to the puddle on the floor that was me. And then we got his autograph and I begged him to please come join the Multnomah County Commission (it was in a hot mess at the time).

So this summer Duncan found himself with three unused tickets to see Smokey Robinson at Spirit Mountain Casino. So he called us and asked if we’d like to go with him. Hello? Smokey Robinson? Is the Pope Catholic?

It is the unanimous opinion of the household that Smokey Robinson is among the greatest music geniuses of all time. And we are not kidding. Has there ever been a songwriter with a more clever and distinctive use of words? We think not. Have you really listened to his rhyming structure? Take this line from Tracks of My Tears:  “My smile is my makeup I wear since my breakup with you…” Do you see how amazing that is?

Smokey Robinson at Spirit Mountain

Smokey left it all on the stage at Spirit Mountain (his band was great as well)

It’s not just our opinion, by the way. You do realize that Bob Dylan, no slacker when it comes to words, called him the Shakespeare of Soul? So if you don’t know Smokey, you better go there now. Your life’s work is not done yet.

We had seen Smokey live twice before years ago (once at the Oregon Zoo and once at the Oregon State Fair) but the performance we just witnessed was the best ever. The man is 72 years old. And he jumps and leaps around the stage. And bumps and grinds. Yes, he really did. We weren’t expecting that.

And he wore purple leather pants. They were awesome. He’s still writing and recording and we thought his new music was great! Some people just keep on getting better. Wouldn’t we all like to be one of those people??

I must point out that I took all the photos used here with my iPhone. Yes, my iPhone.

Oh, yeah, we ate dinner at Legends at Spirit Mountain Casino before the show. I would tell you what we ate, but I can’t seem to remember. I think it might be because it’s all smokey up in here.

Closeup of Smokey Robinson at Spirit Mountain

See how it’s all smokey up in here!

Why I think many are missing the point of the iPad: it was invented for people like me!


I was among those waiting with bated breath to see what Steve Jobs would be unveiling last Wednesday morning at the latest Apple event.

I was among those really impressed and excited by what I saw when the iPad was unveiled. I’m not really surprised about the many who are jumping on the critical bandwagon, but I think they are missing something big.

First, about the name. As someone tweeted a few days ago, there are lots of people who still giggle about male and female plugs. Kinda silly, I think. Picking a name is really hard, especially one that’s not already mostly taken. I don’t think the name is all that important.

What I think many of the critics miss is that I believe the iPad is aimed at people like me.

I’m a baby boomer. But I love technology. And I especially love it when it loves me back.

Here’s an example:  For years, I had a cell phone. I could barely use it…I could never remember, for example, exactly what combination of buttons I needed to hit to retrieve a voice mail. I could never remember how to text. And texting was just way too much trouble. And so on. While I wanted to love my cell phone, I felt it hated me and wanted to make my life as difficult as possible.

The Mac Plus (from wikipedia)

Granted, I’ve been a Mac person since 1986. I remember using a DOS PC at work in the mid-80s, struggling to make flyers with Harvard Graphics. OMG, it almost killed me. I could tell it hated me intensely. What took me 6 hours at work, I did in 15 minutes on my Mac Plus when I got home. I felt like my Mac wanted my life and work to be easy. It wanted me to spend my energy being creative rather than wrestling with remembering command lines, trying to change and move text with command lines, etc. I did better work, learned more faster, tapped into more creativity, etc. as a result of my Mac.

My beloved University of Chicago

It’s not that my brain wasn’t capable of doing geeky stuff. I took a computer programming course in 1971 in my last quarter in college at the University of Chicago and got an A. That was in the day when you turned your punch cards in to be run through the mainframe overnight. In that class, we learned several languages and had to invent our own programming language. It was hard, but I loved the hell out of it. (I even remember the error message I invented… I thought it was so cool I figured out to tell exactly what card the error was on, so in celebration, I wrote this error message:  “Roses are red, violets are blue, Card #6 is fucked up, and so are you.” We found way to make everything fun in the late 60s/early 70s, didn’t we??? :))

I loved understanding how computers worked, the whole flow chart binary logic decision tree thing, and so forth. Having that very basic knowledge made me not afraid of technology when it came to every home and workplace several years later. I was a fairly early adopter, especially when the Mac came along because it exactly matched my brain.

But I digress.

When the iPhone came along, I was one of those in line at 6 p.m. on launch day at the Pioneer Place Apple Store in downtown Portland. From what I had heard, I would finally have a cell phone that loved me back. And I was so right! Bascially, in less than 5 minutes, I had figured out how to do the whole thing and do it with joy. It really was that good!

Where I bought my first iPhone

Now many of my more geeky friends have looked down on the iPhone because the “phone” part is not geeky enough for them. But I don’t think Apple was trying to make the geekiest possible phone. They were making something incredibly useful for people like me: people who want their devices to be joyful to use.

My iPhone has made my life more joyful and efficient and less stressful and painful. Mostly because I grokked it immediately and it is just effortless and fun.

About the iPad, I’ve been hearing comments like this: “It won’t replace my laptop.” Well, hello, it’s not designed to do that. I’ll still need my laptop for the geekier stuff I do. I wouldn’t dream of doing without it, I’m not looking to get rid of it.

Also: “It doesn’t have a camera.” So what? I’ll still have my iPhone, and use its camera. Or my Flip video cam. Do I really want to hold up a flat thing that is a little less than the size of an 8×10 piece of paper and use it as a camera. Hell no. I want something I can whip around with one hand with essentially no effort (and allows me to be a little discreet sometimes).

Also: “It’s just a bigger iPod touch.” Uh, no, not really. Having the iWork suite of programs on it puts it light years ahead of the iPod in my book. Do you know what a joy those programs are to use. Let’s just put it this way: once I did one presentation in Keynote, I could not go back to Powerpoint if you sat on me.

Also, it is big enough for practical book and other print media reading. I don’t enjoy that so much on my iPhone because either the font size stays too small or there’s not enough real estate for enough words.  Yes, I have a Kindle (first generation). I’ve loved it, especially the part that makes it possible to download a book and read it immediately. But woe to those of us who buy a Kindle book that has charts, maps or any kind of images. Just an utter fail. Can’t even make them out, and you can’t enlarge them like you can the font text size.

From what I see, the iPad totally overcomes that issue. For magazines and newspapers as well. Have you seen the quality of the photos and images on the iPad. And what you can do to go further??? Looks like it will be another joyful experience! As joyful as reading a dead tree magazine or newspaper, if not more so…

It seems to me that Apple has, once again, found a way to make experiences I like to have more enjoyable. It makes things I love that love me back!

And that’s really Apple’s point, is it not?

Our ever growing e-stable or should i say iStable


Okay, it’s getting ridiculous… Our house is getting way over-hyper-connected. Let’s tally up the electronics for three people:

Three iPhones, three macbooks of varying ages and strengths, four imacs (two newer, two older), at least four external hard drives, four bose systems (one will be departing soon), three ipods, okay, i am really getting embarrassed here. No wonder Apple stock is up!

Then there’s the Sony bravia with the blu-ray (and one of the boses is attached). So today Ric comes home with AppleTV. Guess we just didn’t have enough shit yet.

I blame it on The Wire. We watched the first season on his macbook hooked up to the Specktone in the Airstream. Nice, but no bravia. Future seasons will be in full surround sound and HD all the way. Like being there on the couch in the yard at the low rise.

And just to check out the AppleTV, we downloaded the first episode of Flight of the Conchord. Awesome, awesome, awesome…. great humor, fantabulous music. How did I not know about this?? Oh, that’s right. We don’t have HBO. Which is unbelievable considering how much we pay for cable each month.

I live with two guys who like every sports option known to humankind. And every time the cable company calls offering a new option, they sign right up. I am never home when they call to intervene, of course. (I think nobody really believed me when I reported these things until the time when Joyce and Tom were over and Ric was on the phone with Comcast and they heard him say out loud, “Well, if it’s an upgrade, we want it!”)

So we have a shitload of cable channels, but like the Boss says, usually nothing to watch. So I guess this is better: we buy what we want from HBO but don’t have to pay for the other stuff.

But this is it! I’m declaring a moratorium on any new gadgets for the rest of the year… we’ll see how it goes and where we are at 6 p.m. on July 11th.