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weathering the weather apps

weathering the weather apps

[this post is for my mom, the source of my weather nerdiness.]

yesterday morning, i thought it would be a good idea to update my wunderground weather app. i’ve been using wunderground for years, so much so that two or three years ago i actually paid for the app (maybe $3-4) to go ad- free and to be able to utilize smart forecasts. smart forecasts let me set parameters to know when the weather was ideal for running or star watching (or whatever), and it’d show me my weekly “forecasts” for those. it’d give me a percentage of how close it was to my ideal running weather, which included temp, wind, and daylight. stargazing was dependent on clouds, sunlight, and moonrise/set. and i got no ads!

so when i updated yesterday, imagine my dismay when i saw a GIANT AD at the top of the app, a weird temp dial (which i could get used to i guess), and my smart forecasts GONE. wunderground was bought out by IBM, and this not just included a redesign, but a new way of finagling money out of users: a yearly subscription of $20. no mention of those of us who paid for the app back in the day. (let’s take a moment to bask on the golden days of phone apps, i guess. much like the golden days of the internet, we did get a lot out of apps for a while for very little.)

after frantically checking my phone backups and looking at the internet for about an hour to see if i could revert back (i foolishly didn’t transfer my app purchases last backup), i resigned myself to finding a replacement. i was mad at wunderground for not grandfathering in those of us who paid for the app.

so i did some research on the internet, and then i downloaded a crap-ton of weather apps.

my stipulations:

  • i wanted weather,
  • i wanted 10-day,
  • i wanted hourly,
  • i wanted a radar map,
  • i wanted sun/moon info,
  • possible pollen info,
  • and i really wanted the ability to create a smart forecast.

and here’s what i found out.

carrot: my first try after finding it on reddit. carrot’s big thing is its privacy terms and the fact that it has different “personalities.” unfortunately, that’s about all carrot has going for it. its interface is cute, but it didn’t have much past weather info. none of the sun/moon stuff, air quality, etc. on top of that, it cost $5 to download, and if i wanted a couple more radar layer options, i had to upgrade to a yearly subscription of $12 at least. :/

weatherbug and weatherbug elite: this app is pretty popular, and i did like the ability to move around the tiles within the app so i could have wind and precip first, then move down traffic cams and weather blogs to the bottom. it has a lot of options: pollen, air quality, sunrise/set and the moon phase (no moonrise/set times tho), UV, lightning, humidity, and some pretty nice radar layers. then i did some research and found weatherbug elite, which cost $20 up front (ouch) BUT i had read that lifestyle forecasts were a part of that (oooh! close to a smart forecast!). so i ponied up. (i think i spent close to $50 finding the perfect weather app in the last couple days). and i COULDN’T FIND IT. i have searched that app, and i can’t find anything even close to resembling a lifestyle forecast. the ads are gone, but i don’t see much difference between WB and WBElite besides the ads, which i could get rid of much more cheaply in WB without buying the elite. internet research is fruitless. on top of that, it pulls weather from sauk rapids HS (15 miles away), and i do think there is a weather station at st. john’s, just 4 miles away.

dark sky: dark sky was another app recommended by reddit, mostly for its simplicity, “umbrella alerts,” and its accuracy/hyperlocal options. it costs $4 to download. it, like carrot, has a “time machine” option where you can input a future date to see what the weather will be like, although i’d rather just have a 15- or 20-day forecast at that point. the umbrella alerts are actual alerts; you can’t just open the app to see the alert – it needs to send an alert to your phone. i tried to see if i could set up a running alert, but that doesn’t help me in the long run. (heh.)

NOAA: poor NOAA – it used to be a free app, but now you need to purchase it to use it ($5 if i remember correctly). i guess that’s what happens when you lose federal funding. you’d think that NOAA would be one of the better apps out there, but i find it kind of cumbersome to use unless you’re looking specifically for storm radar. it opens up on radar and you have to choose what weather you want to see before trying to get it to swipe up. you get hourly and the 7-day forecast, and sunrise and weather conditions for each day. even if i star a location, i still need to choose it on the map before it shows up. i don’t know if that’s user error or what at this point.

accuweather: accuweather has been in my arsenal for a while now, actually. what i like about accuweather? i like that it shows ALL the allergens in the air, not just pollen. when all other weather tells me pollen counts are low but my eyes and nose tell me something’s up, i open up accuweather to see that the dust and dander count is EXTREME. i also like that it has a 15-day forecast on its free app, unlike most other apps that just have a 10-day. i would totally go with accuweather as my go-to IF it had a smart forecast option. it checks all other items i want in a weather app. as it is, i did upgrade to the platinum edition to get rid of ads and open up a 25-day forecast (!). accuweather, you’re almost perfect!

photopills: photopills is NOT a weather app per se, but it does give me all the info i need about sun and moon activity that i need. it’s a photography app that cost $10, and it was totally worth it. it shows me stars in AR as well as the best times of the day to get out for taking pics. it does pull forecasts and has a trip planner that will tell me when and where to stand while taking pics. i thought i would review this one for you since it’s got a much more detailed sun/moon option and star map if that’s what you’re looking for. (it also has some photo stuff like how long to keep your aperture open with what setting and all that jazz. but you’re not here for that!)

apple weather:  apple weather is just sad. sure, it does its job with current conditions and gives us basic weather, but it’s not much else. i’m sure this works for several people who just want the weather, but those of us who like to know what’s going on in a little more depth would want to download a more robust app.

weather channel: i have avoided the WC app for a long time (ever since i got wunderground) but for this exercise, i decided to see what was up. especially since the WC and wunderground are both owned by the same people at this point. i was actually pleasantly surprised! the one thing i liked about it at this point is seen on that second slide above: the running forecast! nice! i do like that it tells me there is no good running weather on the horizon, but i also didn’t see an easy way to customize that. for instance, at this point i would say 40º, sunny, no wind is good running weather, but i doubt WC would consider it good. it also doesn’t give me a true smart forecast. but WC has outdoor conditions as a tile, like dry skin, chill, umbrella, and a mosquito index! i would take this as a backup, despite its corporate proclivities.

wunderground: and yet….through it all… i still want to come back to wunderground. accuweather is dang close, but wunderground just has everything i’m looking for. i like the smart forecasts. i really like the sun and moon interface. buying the premium subscription opens up a 25-day forecast. and even though it’s technically owned by WC at this point (both IBM companies), i can change where it pulls weather from so it’s more accurate*, and despite the thermometer type display, the interface is still close to what it was. i mad tweeted them yesterday for charging $20 a year and not recognizing my purchase. but when i think about it, $3 for 2 years of ad-free use? not bad. $20/yr for ad-free use and a feature i would really use? not bad. i pay $20/yr to use runkeeper. i’ve certainly spent more money on less productive things. *sigh* might need to undo my mad tweets and just purchase.


what did i learn?

  1. apps are a racket.
  2. if you’re used to something good, maybe i you should pay for it.
  3. top 3 weather apps: wunderground, accuweather, weather channel, (NOAA if you want radar)

and now it’s time to go to apple’s website and request a refund on $41 of app purchases. and then just get wunderground premium. it’s worth it.

*at no point was i looking at the accuracy of the temperatures on these apps, though at one point i checked all within a minute of each other, and they all showed different current temps (all within a reasonable variable: n=+/-3 maybe? hahaha)

PS: this is obviously NOT a comprehensive list of weather apps. if you know of another app that does all the things i want that i didn’t download, send it my way! also, what weather app do you use, and why do you like it?

top ten of the ’10s

top ten of the ’10s

before i dive into my year in review, i thought it would be interesting to do a DECADE in review. that’s right; we’re throwing caution to the wind and counting the 0 year as part of a new decade (sorry, dad).

so i thought about the best times i had in the 2010s. some days were really easy to count as a top ten day, but toward the end of my top ten, i was having trouble figuring out which deserved a spot and which didn’t. there are, of course, a lot of trips that i could have counted, but ultimately, the day had to be something really outstanding, and there was really only one trip i went on that was really outstanding. i also counted days/moments of clarity that, while pretty boring to an outsider, changed my life going forward.

and i’m still not sure on what my #10 of the ’10s is quite yet. i’m going to write up the rest and see where it lands when i get there.

  1. best black friday evah: i don’t have a blog post about this one because of the great blog migration failure of 2011, but BF 2010 was THE BEST black friday evah. i had scoped out a $500 fridge at sears and decided it was time to replace my top-freezer fridge. this was back in the old days (haha) of when black friday was actually on friday, so jane and i woke up at 3:30 a.m. to get to sears by 4 a.m., sat in the parking lot watching a movie on netflix until about 4:20, walked in, dodging the fanny-pack wearing, cruising old ladies, straight back to appliances, where i placed my order. we were out of there in 10 minutes and back in bed by 5 a.m. later that day, jane used an expired macy’s coupon (25% off!), and we won on scratch-off lottery tickets. i know there’s something else i’m missing about this day (i think jane had another expired coupon she used), but we STILL aspire for all black fridays to be like this one.
  2. Cali: everything about visiting california was AWESOME. it was WARM. sunny. the ocean. a couple days were standouts on this trip: the day jane and i went to HP world was just the coolest thing ever. you were IN hogwarts, just drinking butterbeer and trying on your house robes. of course, it’s all fun and games until you decide to go on a ride without your dramamine, but even the hour it took me to get over my motion sickness (while sitting in the three broomsticks) was still better than being at home. we also drove up the PCH to santa barbara (in our CONVERTIBLE) and ended that day at the santa monica pier, looking out across the pacific as the sun set. then the drive home, jane had a real-life video game moment when she realized she was driving the road from one of her racing games! the worst part of the day was that jane missed the turn to our hotel. but if that’s the worst part of the day, i’ll take it. #thankskim
  3. TED stalking: one day in 2013, jane and i decided to go to crypticon because ted raimi was going to be there. (my top three days all involve jane. liz, you gotta up your doing stuff with us game.) we knew it would be a little fun, but we didn’t realize it was going to be THAT fun. but first things first: that morning, we ran the big gay race in the cities, which was the start of the fun. after we got to crypticon, we found ted and had a picture taken with him, and he autographed my joxer picture. this was after we told him we sang the joxer song the night before in preparation (to which he looked a little scared and wondered if we were going to break into song right then). we went to a couple sessions, checked out the merch, watched a cosplay pageant, got a TWEETED REPLY FROM WIL WHEATON,
    tweettook a break and went to a halloween store at the moa, then came back to the bar where we got two glasses of free beer from the bartender. then we went to the halloween prom and watched as ted came in and danced with some chicas! then we decided to stalk him a lil bit (but not too much because we didn’t want to get kicked out). after the prom, we did a circuit of hotel room parties and drank way too much (well i did) and i ended the day barfing from all the drinking. excellent. also, jane knows that the doubletree is not physically by the hilton now.
  4. starting running: in 2011, i got on a scale and decided i was too close to 300 lbs for comfort. i also was uncomfortable in clothes, chairs, and other things. so i decided to start running. other than a brief stint in the summer of 1998, you wouldn’t find me running anywhere at any time. when they made you run the mile in high school, i was sure i could walk a mile faster than run it. but, one day in november of 2011, i made a conscious decision to just start doing it. i paid for a monthly fieldhouse membership at st. ben’s and printed out a couch to 5k schedule. and i stuck to it. the first  day i ran a whole mile nonstop? i felt so accomplished! one day i was scheduled to do a mostly run, little walk for 3 miles, but i decided to just run the whole 3 miles. somewhere along the way, i became someone who runs. i’m still not fast, but 8 years later, i still run regularly, and i run long. i’ve taken three or four breaks due to foot injuries, but other than that, i have run at LEAST once a week for 8 years. since then, i’ve run four half marathons, a bunch of 5ks and 10ks, 3-ish trail ragnars, and countless hours on my treadmill, pavement, trails, and in the woods. it’s never a wonderful experience. what’s wonderful is knowing i can do it and then doing it.
  5. first half marathon: in 2016, either liz or i (oh look! a liz moment!) decided to convince the other that a half marathon was a good idea. at this point, i’d been running regularly for 5 years, so why not? i trained, but not as much as i should have. the half marathon was ok, but at that point, anything more than 8 miles was just such a drag (i had lost some weight at this point, but i was still only about -50 at that point (-90 now – holy cow!)). so the end was really tough for me, but what the training and the half marathon did was tell me “hey, you can do this too! see if you can keep doing this.” since then, liz and i have done a half marathon every spring. my training has gotten tons better, and our time has gotten better each year too. i’m hoping for a sub-12 minute mile this spring.
  6. accepting the roch job: after working at merrill for 5 years during the recession, i was ready to do something that was a little more attuned to what i actually wanted to do (although working at merrill made me an extremely adept adobe-shortcut wizard). i found a relevant job in rochester and decided to apply for it. lo and behold, i actually got it and was ready to put in my two weeks’ notice. the day i put in my notice, i drove home in the gathering dusk (because i worked til stupid 10 p.m. but at least it was may) and felt so good about life in that moment. remember in jerry maguire when he’s in his pontiac trying to find a song to sing to and lands on “free fallin” and you can relate because we’ve all have similar moments? that was me, except it was nicki minaj’s “starships” and in a nissan altima.
  7. SC Tech interview day: my interview for my current job was the easiest interview of my life. i don’t know if it was because i finally felt like i knew what i was doing, or if it was because i knew i wanted that job because i wanted to get back to central mn so dang it, it was going to be great. but the thing that was good about this day, in addition to the interview, was that nate drove up with me and we stayed overnight in st. cloud. if he hadn’t come up that day with me to my interview, i don’t know if we would necessarily be back here. it was a very familiar, very grounded day for both of us, and i’m glad it worked out like it did.
  8. charlie’s alive: when charlie had his accident, they put him in a medically induced coma. we had no idea what he would be like afterward – they’d just taken out a racquetball-sized piece of brain and who knows if some of his motor skills or memories or brain functions would be lost. so when he came out of his coma, and he looked at aunt rae and looked confused, who then pointed and told him his mom was on his other side, and he turned to see her, then responded to questions by squeezing their hands, omg. aunt rae called us (liz, jane, and me – we were on our way to the hospital) and told us what happened, and we jumped up and down in a huddle in jane’s driveway. that was probably one of the best days of my life so far!
  9. corn syrup: in early 2010, i watched a doc that finally changed a life trajectory: king corn. it basically talked about the food industry and how corn is in a ton of our processed foods we eat, and then it dove into big ag subsidies and a how high fructose corn syrup is just, well, the devil. so i decided to try to not eat any corn syrup (not just hfcs) for a month. and i did it. and after a month, i realized that food made with real sugar was better tasting, and actually a little better for you than corn syrup (i did a lot of research while i was abstaining from corn-derived sugar). so, i continued to try to not eat corn syrup (or devil’s syrup as i like to refer to it now). since that 2010 experience, i’ve relaxed a wee bit (mostly in social situations), but the food industry has really turned around, too. items that i avoided in 2010 because of devil’s syrup now list sugar as the sweetener (and NOT corn sugar – that’s just a obfuscating term for DS). the organic/simple ingredients trend has really become more mainstream, and it’s easier to find food that’s fewer ingredients these days. i knew that my crusade had come full circle just in the past couple months when i went to buy ice cream (have to get the expensive stuff because DS is cheaper to make ice cream out of) and kemp’s – KEMP’S – had scrounds of “simply crafted” ice cream in the freezer made with sugar.
  10. where i get hung up: what is #10? there are a couple items i feel could fill out the top ten of the ’10s. it could be visiting all the mn state parks in 2018, but that was more than a moment. that was an ordeal (altho a very satisfying one!). it could be a couple of the trips nate and i took: when we did a southwest loop in 2018 or headed to utah in 2010 (my favorite part of that trip was the 2 overnights we spent in the black hills on the way back). memorable for sure, but outstanding? not sure. it could be wizardworld, but that was for sure not as fun as crypticon. it could also be getting up at the buttcrack of dawn to take photos of sunrise over the SE minnesota valley towns. it could be the day i submitted my passport paperwork: that’s a moment with future.

    but what i think i’m going to choose is something a little mundane. nate and i were living in st. joe and i had just gotten back from an evening run – so this is narrowed down to 2012 summertime. i came in the house, poured myself a glass of iced tea, and headed out onto the deck where nate was standing with the cats for their supervised outside time. i plopped down on the deck and stretched out, chatting with nate about what was going on as the sun set on the other side of the house, casting a pinky purply bluey haze in the east across the short backyard, pond, small field, and copse of trees – trees forever in central mn. i don’t know why i still remember that evening. maybe it was because of the timing of nate on the deck when i came back from a run. maybe because it was just before i started commuting to roch/austin. maybe because of the time of year (sprrummer is the bomb, y’all). or a culmination of all put into one memorable moment that i just won’t forget.

whole foods – no joke

whole foods – no joke

i’m doing a transformer dietbet, which is 6 months long, and they have regular prize drawings (i guess to keep us motivated). anyway, i won a $100 giftcard to whole foods!

i’d never been to a whole foods in my life. i’ve been to trader joe’s (like it), my local food co-ops (love them), the byerly’s in town when i need something weird and i know they have it (it’s ok but i don’t go regularly). but i’d avoided whole foods because of the whole “apples cost $20 for 3 of them” chatter that the internet proliferates.

but now i had $100 to spend that wasn’t my money, and i guess it was time to set foot in a whole foods. the closest one is in maple grove, so nate and i hauled down there** to go to duluth trading company for a return and nate’s purchase of underwear (guys, i guess the bullpen boxer briefs are where it’s at – be prepared to spend $30/pair though) and then go to whole foods to use the gift card.

well, i guess that the costly apple analogy isn’t entirely wrong…we spent $99.13 (after amazon prime discount) and here’s what we got:

  • 2 frozen skillet meals
  • 2 oatmilk yogurt cups (don’t buy this. it’s bland. and meh.)
  • tofurkey smoked lunch meat (like, 5 slices)
  • smallish bag of terra chips
  • some other smallish bag of chips
  • impossible burger patties (2)
  • box of roobios tea (YAY i’m actually really happy with this purchase)
  • sweet potato fries
  • hamburger buns
  • rice crispy bar (1)
  • prepared burrito (like a lunchbox meal)
  • 3 macarons
  • biodegradable sunscreen for my trip to mexico* so i don’t kill the coral reefs
  • gouda cheese
  • pretzel baguette
  • a peanut butter bar for my drive home
  • a container of cut mango
  • bag of stir fry veggies kit

when i got to the checkout, i realized i needed the whole foods app in order to take advantage of the amazon prime sale/discounts, so i quickly got that on my phone, and that saved $13. good grief.

you know what i could buy at aldi for $100? 3x this amount of food. and overall, aldi isn’t bad about the whole organic, cleanish food thing.

whole foods reminded me a lot of byerly’s, except fewer old people. but the prices, the food, the pretentiousness – yes. the prices weren’t THAT far off from a trader joe’s, but i feel like TJ’s is a lot more “fun” if that makes sense.

if i hadn’t had that gift card, i probably would never have set foot in a whole foods ever. i guess i can now, and i’ve got some food that i wouldn’t have gotten otherwise!

*omg i haven’t blogged about this at all! did you know i’m headed to mexico in 5 days? i’ve gotta pack!

**megan – we need to reschedule our visit! i would’ve invited you to come with me on this, but nate and i had this planned before i even planned our visit 🙁  stupid work. i’ll figure out a day and send you a calendar invite.

in case of the apocalypse…

in case of the apocalypse…

i’m reading “station eleven”, a book about a major health epidemic that wipes the majority of the population from the planet. enter apocalyptic world.

i read a lot of books that involve some method of the world ending, either by EMP or nuclear war or health issues, among many others. and for some reason, they are all very similar: humankind somehow devolves by 300 years. maybe 400.

which got me wondering:

in MY post-apocalyptic world, here’s what i think will happen.

first, if it’s something like an EMP attack or similar, i don’t think it would take long for some enterprising engineer or scientist or rando to come up with some way to fix the grid. communications systems might be out a while, but i think they would come back on eventually.

human population declines by quite a bit? people power not quite what it used to be? maybe there will still be enough people to have the wherewithal to check out utilities and other operations. if not and the world needs to rely on non-computerized operations to survive at the moment? well, the pony express was a thing. we used to have steam-operated trains. i can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be difficult to retrofit. and it’s not like LIBRARIES will go offline – get thee to a library and figure out how to get stuff done! our ancestors were an enterprising bunch even without the library.

now i’m not saying there won’t be issues, especially in metro areas. i can imagine looting and violence and hysteria. meanwhile, rural folks will pretty much have it made. farms nearby, resources, space to put in gardens. space in general.

i think the thing that’s slightly irritating is the helplessness of the situation. like a world without phones and lights and fax machines is one not worth living in so i’m going to throw myself into a lake. i think when the apocalypse comes, it will boil down to the resourcefulness and stick-to-itiveness of humans that got them to the point in the first place. like i said, we have all the knowledge! and people who know this stuff aren’t just going to disappear. someone just needs to get it done.

type As will thrive in my apocalypse.

this is a song about susan

this is a song about susan

e27444i’ve been an everclear fan since i heard them on the radio back in 1996-1997. i went to a concert at stcloud state back in probably 2000 during their “songs from an american movie” tour and then saw them when they played a free concert at the UofM maybe 10 years ago (i’m guessing art -the lead singer – was high. it was NOT a good concert). 
so, when i saw they were doing a 20th anniversary tour for the “so much for the afterglow” album, i called up my brother. two concerts, and i’d never been with the second-biggest everclear fan i know (i’m the first). he was hesitant at first; it’s not the original band – art is the only one who is original. but they were playing an old-school album all the way through for the tour, so he hesitantly said yes (besides – tickets were like $40 each for the third row. can’t really pass that up!). 
charlie and i met at our hotel in red wing then headed up to treasure island, where we had about an hour to kill and needed to eat, so we hit up the buffet. we had a great people-watching seat, ate our money’s worth, and i was eating two plates of pie when charlie decided to take a mini brain break in the bathroom. 
there i am, eating my two pies (blueberry and chocolate mint), when i look up and see art alexakis walking toward the VIP entrance from afar. i freeze, and my first thought is “omg it’s art and charlie’s in the stupid bathroom.” so i fumble for my phone, first to check if i could text him quick with no service, then wondering how on earth i’m going to take a picture surreptitiously without art seeing me. there was just no way because i’m sitting RIGHT THERE and he was getting closer and closer. AAAHHH. 
so i just look at him and and try to smile (it was probably more like a grimace), when he said “wow, that’s an old-school shirt*,” asked me how i was doing, and shook my hand. AHHHAHAAAA. i don’t know what etiquette is for asking celebrities for a picture while they’re heading to supper, so i didn’t even think about asking him for a pic. 
then charlie took another 10 minutes to get out of the bathroom while i was sitting there like OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG. 
he was mad for being in the bathroom. he wanted to go over and interrupt art during supper. i didn’t condone that and i was having no part of that but told cha could do what he wanted (he didn’t).
we headed in to find our seats – row 3 was a good choice! super close to the stage, and we were on the aisle, which was great. listened to a couple fastball songs, then headed out so charlie could have a break and i could get a couple beers. came back for a couple vertical horizon songs – got some video!

then everclear set up! IMG_2061
and then they came out on stage playing “so much for the afterglow” – omg it was great. they played side one of the album, then played some of their older songs – heartspark dollarsign, local god, heroin girl – and one of their newer songs, which i hadn’t heard. 

 (my favorite song!)
IMG_2060security was crazy mean. no excessive jumping around or trying to bumrush the stage. i seriously would’ve been ok with a dancing area. trying to jump around with your hands in the air is really annoying when you’re restricted to your chair area. charlie held up his lighter for about 5 seconds during a song, and THAT was a big no. good grief. what have concerts come to! (well, to be fair, we were at a casino, not a true concert venue.)
IMG_2063then they played side two of the album, and they said that once they finished, they’d do the whole leave stage, but really they’ll be back thing. the break they took was like, 15 seconds, so not even really a true encore. had a great old-school 80s guitar play-off, which led into a more rockish version of AM radio than the album had. after that, we heard wonderful, and they finished up the night with santa monica (yay!). 
they played for about two hours, which is pretty amazing. my ears were stuffed afterward and my voice hoarse from screaming lyrics at the guy’s head in front of me. i wish there had been more jumping and waving of arms in the air; toward the end i was like, who cares, and i threw my hands in the air all the time. that was the only thing missing – a mosh pit!
afterward, i asked charlie if he was ok with the other band members being new, and his tune had changed. as long as art was still the frontman and they were playing old songs, he was a-okay.
for the first concert i’ve been to in close to 10 years, this was a great experience!  
*this is all kind of funny because i was having a mini crisis beforehand about the shirt. should i wear it and be “that guy”? could i get away with it because it was from the original tour? i posited the question to facebook, and the consensus was that i should just get over it and wear the shirt. you do you, dude.

lighten up

lighten up

with a backpacking trip impending (as in, probably next year), i have been thinking about what to pack and what not to pack. obviously, a lighter pack is a better pack when you’re carrying it on your back while hiking up and down hills for 10 miles a day.
one thing i keep coming back to: my camera. i would LOVE to bring my camera and a couple lenses. unfortunately, my camera and two lenses i would bring weigh a TON in the packing world. like, we’re talking ounces when you’re speaking with an appalachian trail through-hiker. every ounce counts.
but part of me is thinking, i can’t NOT bring my camera. it just doesn’t make sense to not bring it. my phone camera wouldn’t do anything real justice, and i just can’t justify buying a specific, lighter, not-quite-as-functional camera for a trip. 
so what do i not bring? do i get a kindle so i can leave a couple paperbacks at home? make sure all my clothes are ultra light? buy a new, lighter nalgene? or do i say, this time, no camera? me without a camera on a trip like this is probably like me without a limb. do i just suck it up and carry the extra two pounds? i think i do.

who's got two thumbs and is still rockin' an iphone 4s?

who's got two thumbs and is still rockin' an iphone 4s?

yep. this girl.
Attach0apple had its big event this afternoon, announcing what amounts to a laptop you have to assemble yourself and a $99 stylus. of course they also announced the new iphone – the 6s. four years later, and i’ve still got a 4s in my hand. 
i’ve replaced the screen twice and the gps is spotty at best, but it still works, holds a charge, works as a phone, and plays music. i haven’t updated the ios in about two years, and i still use the facebook app version that allows you to use facebook messages in-app. 
sometimes i think it might be good to replace my 4s – it is four years old at this point and my contract with AT&T has been long up. i could even upgrade to a 5s and get the phone free. but…
this thing is basically indestructible. it fits in my pocket. as in, none of it pops out. (this is important when you’re a woman buying pants, whom designers have decided need no pocket space.) everything i use it for works more than sufficiently. and most importantly? diagonal single thumb usage is optimal on this size screen. i can hold my phone in one hand, pinkie holding the bottom, right corner nestled at the base of the thumb, and the top of my thumb will reach to the opposite top left of the screen. no, i don’t have small hands. i’m tall and relatively large boned. my fingers are about as long as nate’s. 

optimal diagonal thumb reach!

also this key point: i keep thinking that by upgrading i’m going to have something completely new and shiny. i have to remind myself that no i won’t; i will have another iphone using the same apps for the same purposes. the only reason i should upgrade now versus after my 4s dies is to get a reliable gps. i really only use one app regularly with the gps – runkeeper. unfortunately, i have to pull out the 3Gs for my runs or map them on the website after my run. who knew how we lived before smartphones? pre-2007 was so antiquated. 
on the other hand, i often consider going back to a dumb phone and living the real prehistoric life of printed out maps and waiting until i got to my laptop to check email *gasp*. at least i’m not going back to a landline. (although…) (no.)
but that day has not come. and until the day apple releases a new phone at the 3.5″ screen size (that day? squee!); my 4s finally craps out or doesn’t hold a charge; or apple sends a stealth explosion update, forcing all its luddite users to upgrade, i’ll keep my 4s in my insufficient women’s pants pocket and easily browse one-handed. 

at the fair

at the fair

the people were overwhelming the second day i was at the fair. a person comes to expect a lot of people at a state fair, but this far exceeded what i had thought. it was warm enough that my cherry on a spoon ice cream treat was dripping too fast for my mouth to keep up with it, and trying to get around the throngs and SUV strollers (why? WHY??) while maneuvering my ice cream at the same time was harrowing.
in the past, i had gone to the fair the second time with jane on a thursday evening. while the people were still there, it was manageable. this time was not. the food building alone was enough to drive a person batty. i could see the cheese curd place in the distance; it was mere steps away. but the people between us and the cheese curds were too much to handle. then the lines were winding, long, and sweaty. once you paid, though, the cheese curds were done pronto, and soon the fried, cheesey goodness made its way into my belly. 
once we made our way out toward the outskirts of the fair, down by the eco and pet buildings, the crowd was more manageable. we stopped to watch a lumberjack show at the northwoods tent, and cheered and booed with the rest of the crowd. 
on our way out, charlie picked up some martha’s cookies. there is always a line for the cookies, and while he was in line, i went to get my ice cream. jane stayed under a tree. we stood on the boulevard under the shade while charlie slowly made his way to the counter. cookies in hand, we hightailed it out of there.
i’m not saying don’t go to the fair. i’m saying don’t go on the weekend. next year, we’ll go on our regular thursday evening. 



26275_665000317431_2432753_napril, you fickle beast, you.
i guess i shouldn’t be one to talk; i have christmas decorations yet on my chandelier and a greenhouse with baby tomatoes reaching for the light 6 feet away. 
while you tease me with 76º on the way home from work one afternoon, you drop to 64º within the hour after i happily donned my shorts and tank top. 
then after a drenching rain, you drop completely to under freezing so i’m forced to bundle up the next morning for work. 
you’re certainly living up to your reputation of april showers, as the next week holds the promise of drops from the sky, which ARE needed here, as 80% of the state is in a drought.
but after months of running on a treadmill, i finally got out of the house for runs, and that’s all i want to do – no going back to the treadmill this season.
but the WIND the WIND the WIND. not only is it maddening overall and a beast to run in, but it stirs up stuff on the ground and gets in my eyes and nose and lungs, and i’m sniffly and snotty and gross.
so i wait: hopes a little quelled; watching for the perennials to pop up; running shoes tapping impatiently; tethered to the 10-day weather outlook.
soon the weather will stabilize into above-freezing nights; the grass will green; my plants will get in the ground; my running shoes will hit pavement.
but until then.
april, you fickle beast, you.

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