Friday, May 21, 2021

Tech Adventures in Ditching a Landline

 I don't know who phone companies think they can sell a $45/mo landline to, but that's what it cost us once the fiber optic people showed up with the fourteenth* batch of dudes and we cancelled the terrible DSL.  It's not even my dad's generation (he just turned 70!) because they cancelled theirs a year ago.

Anyhow. What I really wanted was a) the same phone number as before, so my in laws can call my cellphone -less spouse, and b) the ability to call 911 easily, for the kids. Also, I wanted to keep our normal cordless phones because they're easier for the kids. We live in a very, very small town and occasionally leave even the 6 year old home alone briefly, like while we walk around the block, and the 12 year old frequently is home alone for long-ish stretches.**

Here's what I did:

 Bought a new phone on swappa because my iPhone 5 (I know) no longer plays well with anything. $200, but I could have gotten one for about $60 that would have done it. Or if you can borrow a phone for a week, that works.

Bought 2 new SIM cards from my carrier (Ting). $2.10

Bought a, basically, VOIP box. $49. Very easy to set up. (Obi.hai 200, if you're interested.)

Transferred my landline number to my mobile carrier. Free, but you have to check if it's possible first.

Transferred the same number to Google Voice. $20. (Check a current number from your carrier to see if this is possible.)If you don't care, you can just use a random Google Voice number for free.

Bought an add on mobile 911 service. $12/year. 

Also set up a Smart911 account to link the number and ages of my household to our address and feed it to the 911 database. Free.

So you could do this whole thing for the cost of a SIM card plus $49, plus whatever you want to pay for 911 costs. The new phone was a splurge because my old phone didn't do anything, but still. Way cheaper than a year of land line!

* Literally. Including two backhoes in separate months, three ditch witches, two duelling sets of plastic flags, a new utility pole, and a lot of orange tubing.

 ** "If you need us call our phones. If it's an emergency call 911, unless there's a fire; then leave the house immediately and go find a neighbor. Don't let anyone else in the house for any reason unless it's your grandma."

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Recent Reads, Very Short Reviews Thereof

 (Not counting all the only-OK fluff I have been reading on K1ndle unlimited...)

Citadel of Weeping Pearls (de Bodard): Strange and engrossing story about near-magical science.  In space. 

A whole lot of books by Melissa McShane (Tremontane series): Enjoyable fluff, but definitely fluff. Magic and kingdoms and thieves.  (Free trial of Scr1bd for this one.)

A Deadly Education (Novik): Like the best HP fanfic you have ever read, but better.  A child goes to a strange, violent magical school that doesn't once pretend it's doing the right thing.  I hope there are more.

Queen's Gambit/Triumph/Advantage (Mihalik): I enjoyed these but then immediately forgot what they were about.

Duke Who Didn't (Milan): A fun and diverse romance in which the author clearly said "Fuck 2020, I'm writing what I want."  Delightful.

Accidentally Engaged (Heron): An amusing romance, though they could... talk.  Nonetheless, I laughed out loud.

A whole bunch of fairytale-rewrites from Melanie Cellier: Soothing, but not memorable. 

Grimoires and Where to Find Them (Raconteur): 6th book in the series; as enjoyable as the rest.  FBI agent is magically transported to another world, where she becomes a magic-less detective.

What have you been reading?  

Sunday, April 25, 2021

I recently had to talk to some administrators

This video always springs to mind for some reason. 


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Depression Pandemic Baking: Scones (gluten free, dairy free)

 Today I looked at a job ad and immediately fell into a deep depression. Nobody will ever hire me! I am DOOMED if we stay here, doomed!!

Then I made some scones and ate too many. I have regrets and I'm still depressed, but they are extremely tasty.

If you eat wheat and dairy I recommend the original recipe.


Depression Scones

Makes 12?

1 c fine cornmeal
1 c rice flour
1/2 c coconut flour
1stick margarine (I like the country crock pretentious " plant butter" one)
1/2 c canola oil
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 c sugar (I like turbinado)
1/2 c diced candied ginger, if you want, or something else flavorful
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
About a cup canned coconut milk
Canned sweet cherries or something fruity
1/2 t salt
1 egg

Combine the dry ingredients, cut in the margarine, and add the oil. Dump in everything else but the fruit and mix well. Chop some canned cherries and stir in, in a disheartened manner. Plop in large blobs onto a cookie sheet, then realize you should have used two. Bake at 325 or 350 for about 25 minutes, until the edges are brown and crispy. Enjoy, but you'll still be depressed afterwards.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

End of Term Updates

 The undergrads are surprisingly keen to get vaccinated.  I think they're very tired of pandemic and (sensibly) would like to stop getting quarantined in their rooms.  My vaccinated colleagues range from "everything's fine now" to "we must stay indoors for another year because variants".  Never before has a single thing caused me to lose so much respect for so many people....

I should be grading right now.  I cannot muster up the energy to grade five (5) whole lab reports, UGH.

I think the pandemic has eaten my will to... everything.  Like depression, but maybe not depression?  Just pandemic?  I don't know.

Friday, March 19, 2021

The irony is not lost on me

Exactly 366 days after I got the plague, I have been vaccinated for the plague. Obviously immunity lasts more than 90 days for most people - certainly including me- as evidenced by the fact that 20% of the town's 3300 college students have had the plague in the last EIGHT WEEKS and yet, none of us has gotten it again.  

Friday, March 05, 2021


 My state recently opened up a lot of vaccine appointments... at retail pharmacies.  They can only be made online and the website works badly. This means that only those people with a good internet connection and lots of time, at the moment when appointments open, can schedule themselves. The state health department still is running clinics, and has a list, and they will eventually call you with an appointment, but... not soon.

My mother is already fully vaccinated because she is not only a health care worker but also volunteers at a safety net clinic and also is a vaccination volunteer for the state.  My father is old enough to qualify for the current phase, but nothing has been happening.

You see where this is going, right?  I stalked the pharmacy website until I got him an appointment and he'll get a first dose Sunday.  I feel not great that the whole process is so difficult for so many people, but on the other hand he does legitimately qualify for a vaccine now, and it's at a nearby pharmacy, so I'm not taking a geographically-allocated-by-population dose away from someone else.  But the whole thing leaves me feeling slightly icky.