Category Archives: Musings

I hate Verizon. I killed them with Google Voice.

While there is competition in the cell phone market, it’s hardly competitive. For whatever reason, it always seems as if there is really only one option for a service that you “need”. We loved T-mobile. Unfortunately, when we moved out here to to Newark, the service wasn’t reliable enough to be useful. The pricing between Verizon and Sprint is pretty much the same.

If you ask me, any service that requires you to be locked in is immediately suspect. When that contract is up and you need a new phone, like now, because pieces keep falling off, that huge discount on that fancy device is alluring. The two year hit seems easy to swallow.

But what sort of company simply passes off taxes and fees onto the customer? All that government stuff should be covered by them. I’m sorry, are they not rolling in money? Can they not simply increase the price when my contract is up. Apparently, the contract is only one way. They can increase taxes and fees, but I can’t get out. (Although you can change any aspect of your plan whenever you want, just not cancel it.) When I signed up for the contract it was $70 for the family plan, $10 for the extra line (mine), and $60 for 2 unlimited data plans which included all sorts of fancy messaging. Taxes and fees of course can’t be estimated (cause they increase EVERY month). That’s a base $140 minus the 15% NJ Teacher’s Union discount which hopefully would off-set the taxes and fees. I have yet to pay under $160. Apparently, billing was just restructured so I can now expect over $200 including the discount…every month. Taxes and fees this month are $50.

After a long sweaty bout of screaming obscenities and calling them bad bad names, I decided to execute my right as a consumer to not give them my money. Of course, I can’t cancel the contract, but I can alter it, including closing extra lines attached to the account. I have a home phone that doesn’t get used thanks the to the Optimum Triple Play (which I hated up until this point, but that’s another rant). They can’t port a cell number to a landline unless the area code matches.

To the rescue is everyone’s favorite Big Brother, Google. Google Voice phone numbers are free. I have been using it as a business number that forwarded to my cell. Now, it forwards to my home number. For a $20 one time fee, Google called Verizon, took my cell number, and closed the line for me. Texts go to my email. Since I am only out of wi-fi range for 10% of my life, I should be alright. I can even still use my smartphones wifi to get my messages.

I simply do not need, nor do I want to be, that easily accessible anymore. You people have become far to comfortable not leaving voice messages or thinking texts are acceptable for important information. I’m bringing contact back into being apart!

I am seriously considering a Pay-as-you-go Virgin mobile hotspot and a iPod Touch. $10 for 100mb or 10days and it rides any towers Sprint has access to. Pretty handy for the 10% I don’t have free wifi.

My favorite thing? All cell phones are legally required to ALWAYS make 911 calls, activated/on a plan, or not. As a customer, I am paying “NJ 911 System/Emerg. Resp. Fee = $0.90” every month. WTF?!


Always We Begin Again

Time is our ultimate currency, we must be careful how we spend it.” John McQuiston II

After an insanely busy month of July that I wished I had slowed down enough during to write and reflect and an extremely slow and relaxed month of August spent on the road visiting friends, family and getting rejuvenated for the upcoming year, the time came to prepare for the coming students and school year.

Hello! My name is... Poster for students

Color & Creativity

After six weeks of observing a coaching new teachers, I came away with a few specific goals for the school year:

1. Create a more visually inviting space!  In order to achieve this I spent several nights in front of the TV getting caught up on all the latest episodes of Sons of Anarchy and creating colorful posters for my classroom.  Some of them are instructional posters that are helping my students recall equations and key words and some of them are fun inspirational quotes!

2. Work/Life Balance & Integration.  For 3 years I’ve struggled with simply being too busy!  In reality, I’m doing just as much work, if not more, this year BUT I’m really working hard to find the balance between work and life and also to find the way that my everyday life and my school life fit and work together.  While I do believe that there’s an obvious line between working (and especially working/teaching children) and my personal life I found in previous years that too often I wasn’t finding the connection between what I was spending my out of school time on with what I was doing in school every day.  In short – what’s the connection between the sacred and the secular?  And is there a difference?

3. Family & Community Support.  I’m convinced that partnering with the families and communities of my students is of paramount importance to their success.  I have not done a great job in the past staying in touch with my students’ parents, coaches, friends, brothers, aunts, etc.  This year I have developed a plan to change that and create a different learning environment for my students.

This summer was a learning experience for me.  A lesson in working hard (and not being great at it) and in how to rest a relax.  I was reminded tonight as I stumbled across an old book that, “Always We Begin Again”.  Whether it be after the eight weeks of summer to greet classes of new students, the new goals set for a new year based on lessons learned, or the three times I deliberately stop throughout my day to be thankful for these moments that I have, slow my mind and body down and begin again.  Here’s to a new and exciting year!

Redeeming Faults

It was a two-fold marketing campaign, and it was wholly successful, in a way. My father is not a man anyone would immediately associate with the stereotypes of being a man’s man. The Art of Manliness will probably never have a manvotional dedicated to his memory, unless of course, I write one (and they publish it). In fact, there are not many aspects of my father’s manliness that I aspire emulate in my own father/man-hood. Or so I think by default.

My generation, those born into the late 70’s and early 80’s, spent the majority of our formative years in a transitional society. Our parents, statistically speaking, weren’t that much older than us. Hardly out of childhood themselves, they were pioneers in a new American tradition of children raising children. I fared much better than most in similar situations. My parents weren’t awful and they honestly gave a shit about trying their best. Sometimes, that really is all you can ask, and in this case, that is enough.

Wonderfully, there is no looming “but” transitioning to the flaws of my father. In fact, I think that the more of an adult man I become, the more any flaws I thought I had identified fall out of existence. Now nearly 10 years older than my father was when I was born, I marvel at his ability to pioneer. Absolutely, mistakes were made, but I can’t think of any serious transgressions. It’s my hope than when I do decide to parent, I can build on our experiences together to create an even better father for my child, however that might look. Probably some cross between Dad(…s…), Jesus, and Jack Burton, if I may be so imaginative.

What brings me to this train of thought is something I just realized about an hour ago, while reading “Ham On Rye”. If I ever start smoking cigarettes, they will be Camel‘s. Frankly, anything less is simply unmanly. Smoking is a filthy, nasty, wonderfully romantic, and badass habit. I associate smoking, or at the very least, possessing, Camel cigarettes with confident men, worthy of respect, good natured about life and people, and capable of succeeding in tribulation.

There are many times in my young adult life I have prepared for difficult situations. Though I never have smoked, I always considered it because of the aforementioned associations I have with Camel’s. I always pack a lighter, a zippo if I can, yet resisted the urge to also bring a pack of Camel’s. I think, perhaps simply having the smell of the pack at hand could well up confidence and the will to persevere.

Don’t get me wrong. Stale smoke and long-ago smoked cigarette smells absolutely horrendous, but fresh Camel’s? That is luxurious. A hearkening to a simpler time when men were men in ways they defined for themselves. Camel’s hold a special place in my heart, even the beloved Camel cash and branded items from their catalog are fond memories. That stuff was cool. Especially the zippos, poker sets, and billiards sticks…

Perhaps there will come a time when I deem a Camel appropriate to be enjoyed in moderation. Probably long after my father is gone, I’ll have a special moment to enjoy the memories evoked by the smells and just spend some time considering what it means to be a successful father and remembering his example.