Time for a Breakup

After more than half my life as a Verizon customer, I’m filing for divorce. It’s time to #getoutofthered and switch to T-Mobile!

As you know, I’ve been plagued by problems with the Verizon TravelPass program since leaving the US a few weeks ago. 

In 2015, to great fanfare, Verizon overhauled its international roaming plans to include a $10/day travel pass that would simply deduct minutes and data from the users domestic plan. They quietly (and with no fanfare) axed this program in April 2017, without informing its customers or customer service agents. Instead, Verizon users traveling worldwide found themselves with substantial and substandard data speeds throttled in some cases after using only a few mb of data. To add insult to injury, Verizon erroneously implemented their own policy and changed the plans for customers with pay per gb plans, even though these plans were intended to unaffected by the change. 

Despite my best efforts to work with Verizon, Tiffany—the customer service representative with whom I was speaking—was shockingly cool and unprofessional in her dealings with me. She extinguished the case immediately and told me in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t like the policy, I could move on to another carrier. 

So after more than two decades and more than half my life as a Verizon customer, I say: goodbye and good riddance to VERIgreeedy’s overpriced plans, constantly shifting rules and ever increasing sneaky fees. I also say: I hope Verizon enjoyed its time as the once-market leader because its days are numbered as long-time customers jump ship in record numbers (more than 100,000 customers each month). It’s the new equivilent to cutting the cord.

Over the past two years, T-Mobile has quintupled its 4G LTE footprint in the US and has recently won a significant chunk of the uncluttered 600mhz spectrum. This ample bandwidth will allow T-Mobile to deploy fewer towers with greater coverage over a longer distance with greater penetration and consistency in rural and less densely populated areas. It’s the system that has been in use for decades elsewhere in the world and works well. It also gives T-Mobile substantial space for growing 5G network immediately. This is spectrum that Verizon, AT&T, and others will need to re-allocate in order to roll out 5G networks, which will put further pressure on the existing 4G LTE networks for Verizon and AT&T which have become so heavily trafficked in the past 6 months (since the re-introduction of unlimited data packages) that recent benchmarks indicate a nearly 20% loss in speed on the Verizon network and a 14% reduction in speeds on the already troubled AT&T network. Oddly, both carriers sat out of the most recent auction, which left T-Mobile a big winner both for the immediate and long-term future.

I know, for year T-Mobile has been the distant third carrier with lousy coverage outside of major metro areas. No longer. The speed reports and coverage data is impressive. T-Mobile has built out its network and has made more improvements over the past two years than the three other carriers combined. It is now a serious contender inside of major metros and in the rural areas in-between.

T-Mobile coverage in 2015
T-Mobile Coverage in 2017… filling in a lot of gaps.

John Legere, the fearless leader and CEO of T-Mobile has forged a new and exciting future for the company that was once a distant third to Verizon and AT&T. Straightforward, simple plans are the hallmark of the reinvigorated T-Mobile. There are no hidden fees, tricks, or other underhanded shady dealings that are the bread and butter of Verizon. So, stay tuned here to see the step by step transition process and how it goes. I’ll begin reporting on the transition process in early July.

#getoutofthered #verizonsucks

American cities are getting richer. Rural areas are getting left behind. 

I read this article and found much of it to be true. Many of our rural places in America (and elsewhere) are stunningly beautiful and under appreciated. I truly hope that more folks will find out how great our rural areas are and all that these wonderful places have to offer. 

Read the entire article here

<http://hwww.vox.com/2016/9/13/12903236/census-data-richer-cities>

Orion Arm

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This isn’t my image, it actually comes from Airstream, but it reminds me of what I see from my own Airstream—Florence—almost every night. From my Airstream, I can frequently see the Milky Way cloud, which is pretty amazing.

Until I had the good fortune of owning the Airstream, the darkest place I had visited was Costa Rica, where I was simply amazed at the number of stars I could see with the naked eye. It was in Costa Rica (when I was about 25 years old) that I first saw the Milky Way “cloud.”

With the naked eye, you can see thousands of stars—both in Costa Rica and at my Airstream! According to Wikipedia, there are likely at least 100 billion planets in the Milky Way “cloud” which is actually a spiral-shaped concentration of gas and dust called the Orion Arm.

Our Solar System (and our planet) is located within that disk, about 27,000 light-years from the Galactic Center, on the inner edge of one of the Orion Arm. That means that when I am standing outside Florence, looking up at the amazing sky, some of the light I am seeing is 27,000 years old.

Amazing.

Talking Trees

What we don’t know is amazing…Using strands of fungi as a network, trees and plants communicate with one another and help each other to survive.

Plants can even ward off invaders through “Earth’s natural internet.”

Read the whole article at: Using strands of fungi as a network, trees and plants communicate with one another and help each other to survive. | Big Think

The Broken Tangerine Crate.

About 10 years ago, I took knitting lessons from my friend Dorothy’s 90+ year old mom, Ruth. She not only did the impossible (taught me how to knit), but also imparted many interesting stories about the depression and scarcity during World War II. I remember, one night, she offered me a clementine tangerine, and then smashed up the little wooden crate (before my very eyes) and placed it into her fireplace.

My very first instinct was to think: “That’s odd.”

Then I paused for a beat, and thought… “No! I’m odd for thinking that’s odd.”

I mean, how absurd is it that we wouldn’t burn scrap wood for heat? How much more absurd is it that we would put it in the trash to be hauled away to be buried and take decades to decompose.

That seemingly insignificant, inconsequential moment had a huge impact on me.

Ruth also saved seeds from the fruits and vegetables she ate and grew lots of seedlings in her kitchen that, each summer, were transferred to her garden in the back yard.

Again.. why wouldn’t we do that? Why don’t we do that?

About a week ago, I was listening to some NPR story about Monsanto and how Monsanto forbids farmers from saving seeds from year to year. The story recounted how a farmer had saved a bushel of corn (that he grew) and planted it (with the plan to use it to donate to a local food panty) and Monsanto sued him for millions of dollars. Naturally, Monsanto won.

Out for a run the other day, I watched some Laotian immigrants in Buffalo fishing in the Niagara River. My first thought was “Oh my, that’s disgusting.” But, really it isn’t. It’s responsible and sustainable.

It’s strange: we have been so conditioned by big-corpra: big parma, big agriculture, big everything; that only food grown doused in chemicals is safe, that only drugs made by huge factories are safe. When, in actuality, nothing could be further from the truth. I’m skittish when thinking about plucking an apple growing from the tree in my local park, but not skittish about eating an apple that was grown 7,000km away in Chile, its natural protective skin burned with acid then rolled in wax, stored in an oxygen deprived chamber for 9 months, and then shipped to my supermarket where countless people touched it as they rifled through the “crate” looking for a “fresh” apple.

Who knew that Ruth—saving seeds in her suburban kitchen—was a rebel pioneer like the corn snubbing Monsanto farmer? So, inspired by Ruth, I made a resolution earlier year to start to be more sustainable. Rather than buying pickles, I’ll make my own facto-pickles (I learned to do this in Estonia this past summer). Rather than buying dried plums imported from Turkey, I’m making my own in my dehydrator. Rather than buying herbs and spices, I’m drying my own. I made my own tomato sauce this past weekend… which, was a lot of work. It’s all a lot of work.

I stopped shopping at the überbig supermarket chains, and I source my food from farmers markets and from Aldi (which has fewer choices and less distractions with impulse junk that I don’t need or really want.) I buy less, store, freeze, and can more, and seem to be making more adventurous and inventive food.

My thinking is this: if I have to work hard to make my food, maybe I’ll appreciate it more. Maybe I’ll eat less of it and maybe I’ll make healthier choices.

I know one thing for sure: it has made my relationship with food much more complicated, and much more satisfying while at the same time simplifying the amount of choice available from my kitchen.

I’ll keep you posted… what about you: how has your relationship with food changed over the years?

A photo a day…

This past semester, my students prompted me to take a photo of the beautiful view from our studio room. We decided to take a photo every time we met (twice each week…or at least on those days that I actually remembered to do it) until the end of the semester.

John Mohawk, a professor from my PhD program, would always say: the fall semester begins in summer and ends in winter. It begins in lightness and ends in darkness. Very true. The reverse is true about the spring semester.

The funny thing… the view from our studio is really pretty stunning, though you would never know it from this series of images! We overlook a beautiful hill on the opposite side of the valley. My images always look ugly because the flat rubber roof encompasses 40% of the image! In any case, a curious study of light, color, and change over time and a glimpse into our changing seasons.

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