Coonskin caps and lunch pails / hitchin' mules up to the plow,
Climbin' on the old hay rake / sloppin' the hog and sow,
Barefoot at the general store / cracklins' on that old wood stove,
When the sunrise hits the trees / the old holler shines like gold,
You can almost taste the outhouse / when the morning breeze blows in,
Ol' catfish in the swimmin' hole / showin' off his whiskered grin,
None of this has to do with ice cream / but I watched 'To Kill a Mockingbird' last night,
If they'd had Blue Bell (tm) way back then / Boo Radley would've had a pint.
Home-made ice cream that reminds you of the Depression
*Keep in mind that the term 'home made' is just an idiomatic expression.
Being an engineer, I like technology and elegant gadgets, but I despise talking on the telephone. I already have an iPod Touch, which is like an iPhone without phone service (it works with wi-fi). This is perfectly adequate for entertainment and even some practical uses -- certain useful utilities, e-mail & other communication when using wi-fi, etc. However, there are times when I'd really like a data-capable smartphone in order to look things up while I'm out & about... directions, comparison shopping, reviews, etc. And there are some really clever, useful apps available that only work or make sense when you're away from your home wi-fi connection; for example, 'Red Laser' (iOS) and 'Shop Savvy' (Android) both let you scan product barcodes to compare prices & other information, but this is typically only useful when you're at a store. Handy, but I don't want these features so badly that I'm willing to commit to a $50 or $70 or more monthly cell phone bill for it. In fact, I don't want any kind of cell phone contract. I have been using cheap prepaid Tracfones for years now, just to have something for emergencies or 'don't forget the milk' types of calls, at a cost of around $100 a year. Obviously, I don't use very many minutes of talk time. So how can I get a smartphone that doesn't require a contract or expensive data plan but still meets my needs?
After doing a fair amount of research, I've found a pretty good solution, and I thought I'd share it. T-Mobile offers prepaid plans starting at $15. For $15 you get unlimited text messaging plus a rate of 10 cents per minute for phone calls. T-Mobile also offers something called the 'Web DayPass' which offers you 24 hours of data access over their cellular network for $1.49. And they have some refurbished smartphones; I just bought an LG Optimus T from them for $120 plus tax. It's an Android 2.2-equipped touch-screen smartphone. It's not *quite* as user-friendly and intuitive as an iPod, but I don't need it to be. By the way, I can recover part of the upfront cost of this phone by selling our GPS navigation unit, since the phone will replace that function.
So currently, I can text all I want and use non-data-dependent apps away from home for $15/month. I can even update my FB status (and receive & reply to comments) via text message, so that costs nothing extra. I can make the much-hated calls for a dime a minute, and on days when I actually need the data access I can get it for a buck and a half. That's substantially cheaper than I thought would be possible. And if I turn out to use data & voice calling enough to justify it, T-Mobile has another no-contract plan I can move to for $30, offering 1500 combined texts & talk minutes with a couple of megabytes of data (plus the availability of the $1.49 daypass if more is needed).
The illogic of the ridiculous hoops people -- customers -- citizens -- are now being made to jump through is made more evident when the possible worst-case outcome is compared with the cost of this so-called security, and when the whole mess is compared to other threats that we do virtually nothing about.
In post-9/11 America, passengers will no longer allow planes to be hijacked. The likelihood of a passenger taking control of a commercial airliner and successfully flying it into a valuable ground target is extraordinarily low. So the big threat is to the planes themselves (bombs) rather than to people and structures on the ground. That's still a substantial threat, but it's fully an order of magnitude smaller than what happened on 9/11. An occasional airliner already crashes or blows up for mechanical / weather / pilot error reasons -- it's frankly not that big of a trade-off, for the convenience & speed of airline travel, if there's also a Lockerbie-type event every several years. Bad things happen sometimes. Drunk drivers kill many times more people than terrorists every year, but we tolerate it.
But think about other targets that are virtually unprotected. If terrorists are willing to die for their cause, then there are much more 'terrorizing' attacks that could be made than bringing down a plane. If I wanted to strike fear into Americans and throw the nation into upheaval, I wouldn't use planes at all. I'd have my suicide operatives hijack a few fuel tanker trucks full of gasoline at truck stops -- essentially no security at all; just kill the driver and keep his body in the cab -- fit them with cheap bombs to ignite and spread the fuel, and then have them driven at maximum speed into elementary schools and day cares full of kids. Or do the same with ANFO like Tim McVeigh. It would not be hard at all to coordinate three or four such attacks all in the same afternoon in different suburban communities across the country. The sort of people who seized the Beslan school in Russia would not have any qualms about doing this sort of thing.
Is there anyone reading this who doesn't agree that this would be a MUCH bigger and more effective attack than anything that could be realistically done with a jetliner, even if a couple of the trucks were intercepted? And yet we don't have bureaucrats fondling truckers at weigh stations, and we don't have soldiers with RPGs guarding day cares. Why? Because it would be a stupid and ineffective overreaction. Just like what goes on at airports.
*As part of my efforts to emulate normal human behavior, I've decided to post a reaction to tonight's big game. I think I've done a good job of sounding like a real hardcore sports fan, but feel free to offer constructive criticism.*
Wow, what a gratifying athletic performance! I can hardly believe how that one team came out on top, but I suppose they did what they needed to do in terms of scoring point and/or preventing their opponents from scoring points. Did you see the play where that one player narrowly missed in his attempt to do what he was trying to do? How heartbreaking! I bet there will be celebrating in the city where the winning team is headquartered tonight, in contrast with the sadness experienced in that other city. And how about that official who made the controversial call(s)?! I suspect he may be visually impaired; I also question his competence and objectivity.
I can hardly wait for the next game.
I think they should make a reality show starring Octomom, Balloon Boy's family, and Sailboat Girl. Octo's toddlers would look cute in little sailor outfits crewing the boat, and Balloon Boy Dad could strap a shark fin to his back and swim around it for added drama. Maybe Jerry Springer could be involved somehow.
Sample episode: The gang are sailing off the coast of Tasmania. Octo's pregnant again (quads this time), and goes into labor on the boat. Captain Abby tries to get her to the mainland, but Balloon Boy snaps the rudder and a storm is brewing. Cameo by Levi Johnston as Octo's baby daddy.
Episode 2: Unable to get to land, Captain Abby has to deliver the babies herself. She gets talked through the procedure by a Tasmanian doctor via radio, but crashing waves knock out the radio after the second birth and she has to handle the last two on her own. While she's distracted, Balloon Boy misplaces one of the newborns, and everybody pitches in and hunts for it. Balloon Boy Dad finally repairs the boat with duct tape, and they make it to shore. Octomom meets Kevin Federline at the hospital and is pregnant again by the end of the episode.