Sunday, July 27, 2014

New Mobile: LG G3

A tech savvy former student, recommended that I pick up the LG-G3 mobile phone when we were talking a week or so ago. When I went to purchase the phone, I found out that it had been out for only a few days. I have to say, so far,  this has been the most satisfying smartphone I've owned.

Here are the points: It is much easier to use than my previous Android, the Samsung S4. In fact, I was about to give up on Android because of the S4.  It was always sluggish, from day 1, and it was saddled with so much bloatware from both AT&T and Samsung, software that I found useless. The LG has the AT&T software, and some LG software, but I actually use some of the LG software (such as the quick note), because it's pretty good.

The camera is a bonus. I used several add on cameras with the Samsung. On the LG, I only use the stock camera, which works like a charm.I'm writing this post while on vacation in the UK. I've used the camera on my mobile more frequently than my full frame Canon camera.

The only drawback has been the LG provided computer software, which doesn't play well with my MacBook Air. I downloaded the LG software and my MacBook Air deemed it corrupted and wouldn't install it. The importance of having the mobile communicate with my computer is to easily transfer photos. LG recommends using Android File Transfer. That software allows me to comb through folders on the mobile to get photos. Android File Transfer worked well at first, then it stopped working. The problem was that I installed the LG Mac driver on my MacBook Air.  That was the culprit.  Once I removed that driver, Android File Transfer began working again.

All in all, I'm happy with this phone. It's served me very well on this trip. It gives me the Droid experience that I had hoped to find, but didn't, when I got the Samsung S4.

Kew Gardens

Yesterday, my friends treated me to a day in Kew Gardens, the Royal Botanical Gardens, on the west side of London.  It was a great day. I enjoyed everything, especially the Tree Top Walkway.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

J. K. Rowling and Flannery O'Connor

I picked up J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy at Palm Springs Airport yesterday afternoon, before boarding my flight to Salt Lake City, and then on to New Orleans.  The book is billed as Rowling’s first novel for adult readers. 

The first line, "Barry Fairbrother did not want to go out to dinner," reminded me of the first line of Flannery O'Connor's short story, A Good Man is Hard to Find, "The grandmother did not want to go to Florida." Curiously, in short order, both Barry Fairbrother and the grandmother were dead.

A number of the characters in The Casual Vacancy seem familiar, not because I've read Rowling before, which I haven't; I've never read Harry Potter or seen the movies. Rowling's characters in The Casual Vacancy have some of the same moral qualities as O'Connor's characters, who I'm very familiar with. For example, Fats Walls reminds me of Hazel Moats in O'Connor's Wise Blood. Or, Shirley Mollison, who reminds me of Ruby Turpin in O'Connor's Revelation

I've only just begun The Casual Vacancy, but I'm drawn into the complex characters and their relationships to each other.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Shotgun Lovesongs

A few months I heard National Public Radio commenter, Scott Simon, talk about Shotgun Lovesongs, a novel by Nickolas Butler. I was taken by the piece and ordered the book from my mobile phone as I had my coffee and a bagel at Brugger's. 

I was drawn to Lovesongs because it sounded like the book was about friendships and place.  I like friendships, especially those that are long term.  I also like "place" as a human theme.

Even before I got my copy of the book, I contacted members of a bookclub that last met over a dozen years ago and told them about the book. One of the bookclub members recommended that we read the book and meet online to discuss it.  

The book was everything that I'd hoped it would be, including good friendships, a strong sense of place, complexity, warmth, surprise, understated heroism, and good doses of redemption. 

Lovesongs is written differently. Each chapter is written in the first person point of view of a character. I had to catch on and I wrote down notes on each character to keep things straight in the beginning. That style takes a while to build a framework for who is who and their relationships. But it works for this book. Once the framework was in place, which was about the first half of the book, the story takes off with intensity. At that point, I couldn't wait to get to the next page.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Clouds in the desert

Palm Springs, California

Container Gardening

My attempt at container gardening is having mixed results. Containers require a lot of attention to watering and sun exposure. I just retuned from a three-day trip.  In preparation, I moved the containers to a less sunny location on my balcony in hopes of protecting the plants from the intense summer heat. That didn't go too well. My tomatoes survived, but many of the other plants, including the sage, which is a dry plant, didn't do so well.  I have a five-day trip coming up, so I'm moving some of the plants inside to my kitchen, where they will get sun, but have more protection. Watering is still an issue.  We'll see how this goes.

I've decided, however, to draw back on trying to grown a large variety of herbs.  It's not going to work. I'm going out this morning to get succulents to replace many of the herb pots. I travel quite a bit and realize that I can't give the containers the attention they need. I was surprised that being a way three-days would stress the herbs so severely. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Short take: What happens when ...

What happens when a person intentionally tries to treat others better? For example, when talking to a telephone service representative? You know, someone who is anonymous and you'll never deal with again.

It's hard to do so. It's easier to quip back at people, rather than to great the service agent warmly before communicating my concern - even if I've had to wait for 20 minutes to get to a human being. Then communicate my concern, listen to the service agent's response with patience, and then work through what I hope can be done to satisfy or resolve my concern. I've been aware of that recently; and, to be honest, it's worth the effort. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


I've heard people say that MIT changed their lives. I'm one of those people. That's why I enjoy going back every year. Although I didn't attend the Institute, I spent five very good years in the administration. Those years were pivotal in my career.

Here are some photos from my current visit.

MIT sits on the Charles River and faces Boston's Back Bay neighborhood.

MIT sailing.  The "T" on the sails is for "Tech" - one of the short names for MIT.

The Stata Center is one of many interesting buildings at MIT.

Monday, June 30, 2014


I heard a reference yesterday that is sticking with me. It was that erosion was the big threat to a rock. Think, the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon.  Subtle.  What happens when erosion happens to the values a person holds dear, or to guiding values? Does one lose something important?  Does one become desensitized? Uncaring? Frightened? Brazen? This conversation can go in multiple directions.

It would be a healthy exercise to recall decision points in life where things went well, or went poorly, and to look at what triggered a good decision or a bad decision, and then follow the thread.