Thursday, April 17, 2008

That Was Then, This Is Now

My dad was career Army. So, I was raised as a military kid and moved quite a bit. The long duty tours were three years, others were shorter. I learned to appreciate new environments, seeing things I had never seen, and meeting new people. This is the foundation of my thirst for adventure, change and moving house more than the average bear.

One of the things that my childhood did not hold was friendships that lasted for more than a duty tour. Sure, we'd stay in touch for a while and write a few letters. But, then you are off to your new life and so are your old friends. You might hold your memories close and pull them out (along with photos) from time to time, but the connections fade.

While the internet has made it easier to find those long lost friends, I have learned that many of those delinquent friends (yep, we were a handful for our parents) just aren't connected via technology. I'll leave the entertaining details out about some of the folks I have tracked down. Just trust me when I say it is the stuff of grocery store rags. You know the kind, The National Enquirer and the Star.

There are a handful of us that have not only survived, but are doing pretty darn well. I am lucky to count myself in that group and was very excited to reconnect with another such soul last week.

Becky and I became quick friends when I arrived to Hephzibah, GA (perhaps the armpit of Georgia) in1979. She was the kind person that reached out to the new kid and brought her into a very tight neighborhood group of kids. Becky was the calm force in the chaos of those early teenage years. The years of first broken hearts, climbing out of windows, rock music, walking everywhere, and figuring out who we were going to become.

Becky has not only become a wonderful person, but also an accomplished career army warrant officer. She has taught soldiers celestial navigation skills, delivered soldiers to R&R areas via her boat in times of conflict, and has found her place in history being the first female CW4 to skipper a boat in the US Army.

Our evening together was full of forgotten memories that came back to life like they happened just yesterday, laughter, and a new friendship that is developing based on who we are today.

Beckola - here's to who you were then, who you are now, and to creating more memories together!

Monday, April 7, 2008

In Search of the Perfect Communication Lifeline

Life without a cell phone is pretty much impossible, as I learned upon our return from "The Best Trip Ever". My cell phone loved Mexico so much, it decided to stay there permanently. The good news is that Verizon makes it way easy to kill the service and will even pause service until you decide on the next communication lifeline you want to share your life with.

I'd been living my life with a Krzr which worked pretty well for a phone, text messager, and camera. I really liked it, but knew it was time to make the leap to a smartphone. I had avoided it as I am just not willing to give up good voice quality for the other stuff, especially as I catch up on calls with family while out and about. Yep, usually from my car. But not to worry as I always go handsfree with my cool and groovy Jawbone. And, of course, I have the red one.

So, what to do? Like I said, voice calls matter to me and Verizon just has the best coverage, period. But, they also have the lousiest device selection of all the carriers. After reading the reviews and visiting the store, I decide on the Blackberry 8830 in red (of course). I am not in love, but I do get addicted to the track ball and full keyboard pretty quickly.

And then...I have dinner with my girlfriend Vibeke who shares how much she loves her iPhone. And then, Holly comes for dinner and brings her iPhone. She and Dave find the house easily with the cool map feature. I get my hands on it and I am in love , or at least lust. I think I can throw caution to the wind and pay Verizon whatever they want to get out of my contract.

And AT&T service at our place. Now, folks, we don't live in the boonies. We actually live in the burbs. And while I can justify a few dropped calls when I am out and about, no way can I justify no coverage at home base.

And then...I really do want a camera on my communication lifeline and the 8830 does not have one as business users apparently have no need for one. Because, of course, I only use my phone for business and don't have a personal life. And what is up with the text messaging issues? Is this all BB models, or I am just lucky?

And then...At CTIA last week, Verizon announces the Curve will be available in May. While this is not the perfect solution (it is not an iPhone and Verizon will not offer it in red), I'll have a camera with my communication lifeline. So, the 8830 will be going back to Verizon and I'll get a cheap phone and text messaging device until I can get my hands on the Curve next month.

And then...I'll be waiting with bated breath like the rest of us Verizon subscribers for the iPhone or the Blackberry 9000. All the while wondering why the carrier with the best service can't, or won't, offer the most desirable communication lifelines AND why the carrier with the most desirable lifelines can't, or won't, offer wider service coverage.

Is it really that hard to offer their customers the best of both worlds?

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Best Trip Ever! The Beach Chapter

In the last chapter our travelers were reveling in Dave's big win in the dart competition. Our best laid plans to shower before we headed off to our new home base were cast aside as we discovered not only was there no HOT water. There was NO WATER! Ah, the little reminders that we aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto. We are in Mexico where sometimes things like water and power work flawlessly and sometimes they just don't. And, quite oddly, that is part of the charm.

A whirlwind of packing and we are in Antonio's Suburban heading off to a little resort just outside of Sayulita, a funky surf town full of ex-pats, good restaurants and dogs in the streets.

After 3 busy days of exploring PV and the Sierra Madres, arriving at what was to be our home away from home for the next 5 days was truly an injection of relaxation. We entered the gates thinking we would follow what has been our normal routine of a beach day followed by an exploration day. Those plans of exploring Sayulita, San Pancho, and San Blas were displaced with day after day of relaxation. Not the pretend kind where you are still secretly thinking about your life back in the "real world", but the kind where your conversations and thoughts start with:

"Which book shall I read?"
"Is it time to turn over to sun the other side?"
"How many sand crabs have we seen today?"
"What do you want for lunch - homemade guac or shrimp tacos?"
"What time is my massage?"
"Is that whale waving to us with his tail?"
"Tonight's sunset is even more spectacular that last night's sunset, isn't it?"
"Want a margarita?"
"Shall we go for a dip in the pool?"
"Do you think I'll need earplugs tonight with the surf being so close?"
"How did that kitty get into our room in the middle of the night?"
"When do you wanna come back next year?"

We've been back to reality for 3 weeks or so and find ourselves pulling out special memories to reflect upon and relive. Each time almost smelling the salt air and talking about how this trip is right up there with our 2005 trip to Alaska as the best trip ever. So - it is really "one of" the best trips ever! Certainly my cell phone thought so as it opted to stay in Mexico and party (more on that one later).

And, the trip did its job...breaking up the winter and keeping this girl sane until Spring arrived in Boulder. Now it's back to real life and living for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June!