The technically named, Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas

The Midpoint Cafe stands one what is supposed to be exactly on the midpoint of route 66,  so that it is located 1139 miles from the route’s original endpoints in LA and Chicago (initially I was wondering WHICH endpoints on which date… since we already know that on the LA end it’s been moved a few blocks, but Wikipedia says the endpoint when it was first constructed in 1928).

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The cafe has had many owners and names over the years, but according to Wikipedia, once the bi-passed towns began to organize themselves to try to put Route 66 back on the map…

“The president and founder of the U.S. Route 66 Association called me one day. He said, ‘Kid, you better do something because you are at the midway point of Route 66. You need to change that name.’”— Fran Houser, former owner of the Adrian Café

That said, I was DEEPLY impressed with the efforts they’ve made to drive home that point.
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directly across the street from the cafe I was able to take this photograph, ALL BY MYSELF… no one there to help me… how you ask?

THIS is how

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What you’e looking at is essentially a camera stand placed so as to give you the perfect framing for you photographs. You put your camera here, set the timer and run over to the sign and wallah, a perfect photo. (Of course I didn’t run, I used the count down mechanism I can trigger on my apple watch)

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Same stand photographed from the other side so you can see the bright white line proving the point yet again, that the restaurant sits at the midpoint

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In fact all its missing is a line down the middle of the floor

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unimpressive gift shop, but I was tempted….

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I didn’t eat here, so I can’t give a food review… while it all looked very tasty, there was nothing on the menu that was even remotely healthy. It consisted of things like grilled baloney sandwiches and pie… what I would describe as comfort foods for people who grew up in 50’s.

Observations about Australia

One thing I’ve learned: the Australian government offices have the good sense to set up customer support booths for various services that need to be completed on-line, and they do it in city malls (next to basic needs things, like grocery stores — which are ALSO located in said malls)…. how brilliant is that?!

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In addition, a lot of the post offices are ALSO in these same said malls (buy your gifts and send them without having to leave the cool embrace of central air) … I’m thinking with the way malls are going in the US currently, maybe our government/postal authorities should be thinking about doing the same thing. Just saying.

And a 2nd thing… Just like in Canada, pretty much every point of sale in Australia allows you to tap your credit card to pay (instead of swiping like in the USA). For folks who are using credit cards, they still need to put in a pin… but for those of us using our phones, or the Apple watch, no such 2nd step is required (because the pin or thumbprint we have to use to open said devices is functionally the same second verification of ownership).

Shop staff here in Australia are used to the credit card and pin (which is the norm in most of the rest of the world — US is behind on this), and have gotten somewhat used to people who use their phones instead, but I’ve lost count of the people whose faces have lit up with delight and “wow, I’ve never seen that before” or “we’re in the future now!” or “COOL!” at seeing me do it with my Apple watch.  EVEN drink machines at train stations accept a tap from my apple watch! So no more digging for coins, or having to break up larger bills… in fact because of the fact that tap us used almost EVERYWHERE here in Australia, during the last few weeks I’ve only accumulated THREE coins in my pocket!!

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And as someone who has a LONG habit of losing her credit cards (a trait that is particularly painful when traveling internationally), the fact that I’ve only had to pull that sucker out of my wallet twice in the last three weeks has made my life SO much easier and more secure.

 

I love my Apple watch – series 2, part 2

More thoughts on why I love my apple watch

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Back on June 14th I wrote about my love for my new AppleWatch; today, slightly over two months later, I have some additional thoughts.

Firstly, as much as it was one of the features that made me think the watch would offer me some of it’s $600 value, the fact is that over the course of the three+ months I’ve had the thing, the ONLY time I have used the ‘remote camera triggering feature‘ has been when I was testing it out. I’m sure a point will arrive where I’ll make use of it, it’s just not something I appear to use often enough to be worth $600.

ApplePay on the watch, however, is proving to not only have a massive “cool” factor… so much so that even employees at the Apple Store — the LAST folks you’d expect this from — look marginally surprised and slightly awed when I use it there, while ladies at the grocery store are floored by it… it is also proving to be insanely practical.

I was just in Canada, where almost every store that accepts credit cards (a lot don’t, and demand either cash or Canadian debit cards, NOT U.S. or other) will have the “tap” technology (where simply you ‘tap’ the card’s chip to a sensor instead of swiping it, or sliding the chip into a device) built into their point of payment device. This includes gas stations, coffee houses, grocery stores, etc., pretty much ever chain store… and the ‘tap’ process operates WAY faster than the other two options. With both of the other two systems you have to provide a written signature or a pin number… with the apple pay they payment just goes through sans that extra step … so that it’s ‘tap and go.’  I have found that even if the card scanner does not explicitly STATE that it takes apple pay, IF it accepts ‘tap’ 9 times out of 10, at least in Canada, it WILL. This means I can payed for almost everything WITHOUT having to bring out my wallet, or my iPhone. Instead I just used the watch, which is already out and firmly strapped to my wrist… so that the wallet and iPhone (which I might mindlessly lay down and forget, something I’ve done before, or forget to take back the credit card, which I’ve done to often to count) remains safely located down in the depths of my pockets (I tend to wear military surplus camouflage pants these days, which have infinitely large pockets) or at the bottom of my purse (so no pick pocket is sure where said items are located) … and even IF someone should hold me up and manage to steal my watch, they’ll need the unlock code to be able to use it.

THAT, and according to my friends who know about this stuff, apple pay is more secure than using the card itself, as it generates a unique code for each transaction.

The fitness apps.

Just last week I was at Pennsic (blog post is in the works, groan, I’m so behind) and there was a woman with an “animal assistance” dog… tiny little terrier. Now SO many people had shown up with their pet dog dressed up in a “working dog outfit” which is easily available from Amazon, that it was getting ridiculous. Not to mention it was dead obvious from the behavior of said animals that they were NOT in fact trained for said task (one such german Shepard tried to eat so many of the other helping animals that they had to put a muzzle on him). A woman next to me asked said woman which kind of assistance animal the tiny terrier was, and the woman ‘barked’ back (irritated) “he’s a mobility animal.”

Point being, your apple watch is JUST as effective as that tiny terrier at getting you to walk and most definitely costs less (although it won’t lick your face). This is particularly true if you share your information with all your friends who also own apple watches… as an element of competition and not wanting to be seen as lazy kicks in — granted not as strong a motivation as the dog peeing on your couch or chewing up the house in boredom and frustration…. but effective. Except for days when I was sick or injured (my knee for instance is currently bunged up and in a brace) or driving cross country… I have managed to meet all my exercise goals since buying the watch…

I love my Apple watch – series 2

On April 24th, 2017 I finally gave in to peer pressure and bought myself an Apple watch series 2… and I am LOVING IT! Read on to see why I finally decided it was worth the cost (after MUCH resistance), and why I am loving it now.

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For the LONGEST time I just didn’t see the point.  “You want me to pay HOW MUCH for watch?”

Now granted, it also keeps track of steps and heart beats per minute… but so does a Fitbit for about 1/2 the price.

So — while I’ve mostly only ever used Macs (my first computer back in like 1989 was a Macintosh Plus)…. and while most of my best friends are all Apple users, or at least the ones who know enough about computers to know better — to the extent that I have any number of friends who are or used to be high level engineers at the company… and I am friends with, heck for a short time I was even housemates with, Danial Kottke — employee #3 at apple back when they were still working in the garage (this would be the guy who Steve Jobs used to get stoned with but who he ultimately refused to give stock options … if you know your apple history)

ALL that said, I have …. since it’s the pre-official release order period began on April 10, 2015 … been resisting buying an Apple watch. Till quite recently I had not been convinced that the watch was going to be worth the around $600 it ultimately cost me… I mean “hey, really, what does it do that my iPhone doesn’t?”

Ultimately a few attributes finally sold me on the watch…

Firstly… I REALLY did want an item that would keep track of my exercise for me (just good food choices was hitting the bottom end of it’s effectiveness in terms of getting back to good health). And, while the iPhone DOES track your steps (most folks don’t realize it, but if you go to the phone’s health app, even WITHOUT owning an apple watch, the phone will do this: just click on activity — the image of the bicycle — and be amazed) it does NOT keep track of ALL your movement, so it can’t give you accurate idea of how much you burn on a daily basis.

A Fitbit would keep track of complete energy burn (within a margin of error of course), but the one I decided I would ultimately want, only cost around $250 less than the apple watch. So, the question then became, what did the apple watch have to offer that was worth and extra $250 to me?

The first thing I found was, the apple watch comes with an app that will connect to the iPhone camera and act as remote control for taking pictures… as in you can set up the camera some place, SEE the same image it does while … but while looking at the watch’s face, and then take a picture. As someone who is always wandering around by myself taking photos… that has a value to me… maybe worth $25 to 50 to me…. so not $250

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A photo of me using my brand new watch to try to take a photo of myself with my iphone, which was propped up across the room

Then after much humming and hawing I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a new computer (the mid 2015 macbook that still had the magsafe power cord). MY computer had been an 2011 macbook pro, which had served me well while teaching in S. Korea, but that had ultimately started to slow down and began to have ‘issues.’ After Dad died I took possession of dad’s 2013 macbook pro, and gave my brother EVERY OTHER piece of mac equipment dad had (none of it portable to drag around the country with me). I then made my old 2011 the backup computer and relied on dads for daily use. Then Dad’s computer bit the big one, and a very good friend who (for a living) writes the training manuals that professional apple support staff read in order to learn how to do their jobs… yah, he’s a HIGH level apple geek… was kind enough to move the hard drive from dad’s computer into an EVEN OLDER than my 2011 one, that he had lying around the house…. so the 2011 once again became my main, and this newer drive in a much older computer became the spare.

So clearly, time for a new computer. After I bought it I discovered that with these new computers, if you’re wearing your apple watch you don’t have to type in the security code every time you wake up the computer… the watch will unlock it for you. NIFTY! But let’s face it, that’s worth may another $20 to me… I can always type the code in myself, it’s a pain, but it’s sort of like buying a remote control to save yourself from getting up off your ass to change the channel. Kind of counter productive to the whole trying to force myself to be more active thing.

And then on April 22, 2017 I finally read THE ARTICLE that finally cinched it for me… an apple watch attribute that was most definitely worth $250 to me… so much so that while reading through it I said to myself, “OH, ok, WILL be buying the apple watch THIS week!”
The apple watch has a “HELP!!! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” feature. The article, titled, “How Apple Watch can now literally save your life” explained how on the side of the watch is a button… it is the same button you are supposed to press in order to power down the watch… if you double touch on that button it pulls up apple pay…   
however … and not one friend had mentioned this to me…
starting in June 2016 they added a feature where if you hold that button down and KEEP holding it down, the watch (assuming your phone is near it) will call 911, and you can talk right into the watch to tell them what’s wrong… no struggling with the iPhone, unlocking it, finding the phone app, finding dial window… and hoping your not unconscious before you actually dial 911… here all you have to do is press the button and hold…

And WAIT, that’s not all! The watch will send your GPS coordinates to emergency services automatically, AND it will forward to them all your medical information (allergies, etc).

It will do this NO MATTER which country you are in (keep in mind that while a few countries use 911, not all of them do — here’s the list) … so if you’re in Japan, and you don’t know WHAT the number is for their emergency services (it’s 119) … it does not matter.

AND on top of that, the watch will immediately contact all the people you’ve chosen as emergency contacts and tell them something is up, and where you are (allowing them to figure out which are the nearest hospitals you might get taken to, etc).

As a single woman traveling alone… this was INVALUABLE!!!  $250?! SURE, it’s a STEAL at that price… hell as far as I’m concerned it’s worth the whole $600 and every other feature is icing on the cake. The only downside is you DO have to have the iPhone near you… even if it’s down at the bottom of your purse or deep down in a pocket… if they make one that will call 911 sans the cell phone, I’ll buy that one too.

So the next day, I kid you not, I was at the local apple store trying to decide between the two sizes of Apple Watch screen 38mm designed for women, or the bigger 42″, since I was going to be using it with my camera I figured bigger might be better even if it looked funky on my wrist. The previous night I had also read something about women who had the 38mm (and trying to use it for MORE than just time) complaining that the screen was just too small and that those 4mm of difference from the men’s size were actually important in terms of it being useful as more than just a watch.

So the Apple sales person assisting me in making my decision, and was trying to find a iPhone camera in the store that we could try with one of the in-store Apple Watchs, so I could decide if those few more inches of screen were worth the awkward sizing (I have TINY wrists, even for a girl). On that note, He was and extremely cute and completely deaf guy, and working with him was highly amusing. I think I sort of impressed him by how I barely batted an eye at the fact that he was deaf, and we had a lot of fun as we type back-and-forth to each other on his iPad, while using pantomime where possible.

Other than that I had decided which watch I wanted, based on weight, color, water resistance, and which crystal face I wanted (ever style watch uses different materials, so there are pros and cons for each). I wanted the LIGHTEST one possible, with a scratch resistant watch face that didn’t have a lot of reflection to it (making it easier to see in daylight)…. which happily enough also happens to be one of the cheapest ones to buy. With it I opted for the white sports band.
From the outset I intended to buy leather bands from eBay, but started to read about how some of these much cheaper bands ($12 to $40+ for the apple ones) don’t always hold the watch securely and if the watch drops to the floor and crashes from one of these, your apple warranty won’t cover it… so apple bands it was. But I’ve started to buy them in multiple colors and mixing and matching (sometimes I do one half white the other half black, etc). The other day one of my old TA’s turned me on to the fact that for this month only (because it’s pride month) apple was offering a pride watch band on their website, so I bought one. I have SO many gay friends…
As to why I’m loving it… I started out using the Mickey Mouse watch face because… well me… you know, lover of all things Disney, has held a Disney pass for two years now… etc.
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But once I got more used to watch and learned how to use the settings and stuff, I actually now only use that watch face when entertaining little kids. Instead I use the one that help track your movement… A constant visual reminder that I haven’t done my 30 minutes of aerobic exercise yet…
I also love the sharing function…  I currently share my exercise stats with six friends… know what they have done vs what I have done keeps me moving… and that there’s a potential boyfriend on the list doesn’t hurt either. I find myself checking my movement stats like some people check sports stats… and watching my daily moment numbers go up is gratifying, as is the ease with which I seem to be able to do it as long as I keep at it…
Happily I’ve not had cause to use the 911 function… other than to show it to other people. Knock on wood, no evil eye… hopefully I’ll never actually need it, but having it there gives me some peace of mind.