Up the Missouri with my GPS

I finally got myself a smartphone. Its name is HTC Hero and I love it. I'd of course been pining for the iPhone since I was technologically leapfrogged by my own mother getting one some years ago, but I joined my wife's family's plan with Sprint and through a rigorous investigation:

me: does this phone let me do the finger-pinchy thing?
Sprint store guy: yes. And instant NFL updates and game broadcasts.
me: [returning signed-contract and nodding vigorously]

I have the Hero. Honestly, I wouldn't trade it for the iPhone. Why? Google has become the lynchpin of my technologically-assisted organizational structure, ala Aliens' Ripley in the loading dock suit. Yes, yes, hooray for me, but I digress. Shortly before acquiring this new phone, I started reading Undaunted Courage [Steven Ambrose] about Lewis and Clark's expedition to the new American West.
In some ways, the story is undercutting the heroic notions I had about them, but a lot of that is due to the anglo-centric attitude that wasn't really questioned back then. More than that though, I'm even more impressed with my new phone and its Google Sky Map app, which lets me stare at the sky with my GPS-located and gyroscopic phone matching my view in front of me with a corresponding map of the stars, planets and constellations. I'm positive if either Meriwether Lewis or Thomas Jefferson had seen this feature, they would've messed their britches in astonishment. Similarly, it would take some explaining on my part if I showed them how I purchased school textbooks online with the Amazon app, for less than the cost of those right in front of me at the Hunter bookstore. I guess my point is that this level of connectivity is even more stupefying when held up to the image of Lewis taking map measures with his sextant and chronograph. At the same time, the unknowing that his party moved forward with is of a type that we in the information age will never know. Also, the buffalo meat.


Hunter tomorrow!

Tomorrow is my first day of school at Hunter. I'll be entering the Masters program in Childhood Education, and I have to admit I'm a bit edgy about it sitting here at 10:30 pm, not really knowing what is waiting for me in my classes, if I'll jump straight into the material or flail about for a bit, if I'll be the oldest one [and have the best beard], and if at 10-past-9 tomorrow morning, as I walk into class, I'll have remembered to wear pants. What I do know is that I'm thrilled to be entering an academic environment again (for the first time eagerly, since as an 18 year old freshman at UVa I think I was more hey-guys-we're-all-going-to-college-now-I-suppose-I'll-go-too! I won't be heading into the elementary school classroom for at least the first couple of classes, so I don't have to worry about how that will go just yet, but I figure why not get a head start. If I had to one-to-ten score my worry versus excitement though, right now, the night before my first day, I'd say worry is putting up a fight but is being generally outclassed by excitement. 3 - 8. Not too bad, right?


Thank Goodness for Heated Pools

We're heading back to the Northeast today; the return to frigid Boston winter is going to be slightly padded as it's been unusually cold here in Sarasota the last several days. 50 degrees and cloudy didn't stop Becky from swimming in the pool, and from dragging me in with her.I perfected my whale-in-the-water imitation and Phelps dolphin kick, and gave Bec some useful pointers for her freestyle-form. We went to Turtle Beach and collected some cool shells; we went to Lido Beach and sunned ourselves on a couple of the many available loungers out in front of Lido resort. There are a lot of birds to see here: herons, pipers, vultures, hawks, pelicans and terns [below]. There was a trip to Publix that turned dramatic when we watched the store manager restrain a shoplifter until police could arrive. We had some great pizza at Il Panificio (umm...twice, actually). We watched a bunch of DVDs and did movie/chinese for Jewish Christmas. We went on several jogs, one of which I got us hopelessly lost (It was dark! It all looks the same here! I didn't know the road was a loop!). We totally rocked several Times crosswords and took my Great Aunt Irene out for dinner and brunch. Today, we're going to stop by a manatee viewing center on our way up to Tampa.

I can't say it would've been nice had it stayed above 70 during the afternoons here, but we had a good time despite the chill. Now we're pretty thrilled to get back to Summer and Maggie, and take them with us snowshoeing in some Massachusetts woods!