Jill "xtingu" Knapp

Traveling musician. Singer. Road warrior in bursts. Dork. Easy to spot. Gauche eyeshadow fan. Unreasonably happy.

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My Blackberry KeyOne's battery has been bulging uncomfortably for about 6 weeks now. I didn't feel right bringing it on our trip to Portland this past week... I remembered that Samsung Galaxy 7 phones had bulging batteries that would asplode randomly and were prohibited on planes, so I took my cue and tossed my SIM into my previous phone, my Blackberry Priv. 

I looooooooved my BB Priv. It's a slim phone, gorgeous screen, has a slide-out keyboard so you don't even have to use the keyboard if you don't want to (though I always want to). I stopped using it because the battery got shot and wouldn't hold a charge for longer than 5 hours or so, which isn't do-able in real life. Worse is that I dropped it one time with it plugged in and janked up the charging port, so the thing only charges wirelessly. This wouldn't be a problem if it held a charge for a decent amount of time.

Anyhoo, I brought my doesn't-hold-a-charge-long Priv with me to Portland and just kept it in airplane mode unless I actually needed it... and HOLY CRAP how liberating! How fabulous not to be constantly interrupted with bullshit! 

I don't have the self-discipline to not look at it (even with notifications turned off), but with the sucker actually in airplane mode I was able to be much more mindful about my phone usage. It was painless. 

Now that I'm home, I still keep the Priv in airplane mode unless I need it, and my bulging KeyOne (which is wifi only/sans SIM) is in a drawer, and I only use it if my Priv's battery is Bill.Bixby.dead.dead.dead. 

I made an appointment with a friendly local business guy to replace both "non-replaceable" batteries late next week... it'll take a week for the batteries to arrive. (Strange that he doesn't keep Blackberry Priv or KeyOne batteries in stock /s). 

Anyway, I'm really enjoying being more mindful about my phone use. My friends and family are puzzled as to why my usual speedy text reply-time is now delayed by half-days, but this was fine in 1995 and it's gonna be fine now. I shouldn't be that important to anyone. :-)

In other news, my iron levels are officially in the shitter. If I had more time, I'd explain how my iron was in the shittter 2 months ago but not quite shitty enough where insurance would justify an infusion, so we had to wait until I'm gasping for air like a goddamn guppy out of water like I finally am now. It's weird that I have to "look forward" to getting so shitty so I can get fucking treatment. I hate it.  With any luck I'll be ironed up before Beatlefest.  (Last year I did not get an infusion until after Beatlefest, which was a giant mistake.) Let us pray to the scheduling gods that they can fit me in within the next 2.5 weeks. 

In other other news, our trip to Portland to make music with Sunnyvale was amazing, inspirational, beautiful, and magical, and I'll tell y'all more about it soon. But now I must shower for I stink. 

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My iPhone 6s (shut up) battery started draining super quickly several months ago. I found that putting it in a battery-saver mode where it's not fetching my e-mails until I specifically tell it to do so was just what it needed. It doesn't miss text messages, though, in that mode, which is nice. Maybe you have a similar option on your phone? (Or maybe you don't want it!)

Hopefully I'll get another year out of the battery before I need to find someone to replace it. I like my phone a lot, but iObsolescence is really some of the worst obsolescence capitalism has ever seen.
Alas, battery saver mode isn't quite savey enough for my crappy batt'ry. Because we have such awful cell reception at my house, my phone (any phone) spends a silly amount of brain cycles saying "Cell signal, where are youuuuu? Oh! Look! I have some cell signal! Oh, and now I don't so I'll switch to wifi. But I better keep searching for cell signal!" Repeat and fade. So keeping it in airplane mode kills that off.

But if I lived in a world where Verizon fixed their cell towers after they got damaged in a hailstorm, then Battery Saver mode would be the perfect solution.

Yay for old phones! (No sarcasm-- that is an actual Yay.)
I miss my BlackBerry Curve 83xx so much, I took a photo of it and use it as my iPhone's wallpaper.
Okay, that made me chuckle out loud a little.
Generally good stuff, but...

>if my Priv's battery is Bill.Bixby.dead.dead.dead.

Too soon.
 

I guess I haven't been keeping up to date with my cellular network protocol lingo. I just always thought that Verizon's network  was CDMA and everyone else was/is GSM. Since I've been on Verizon since my first work-issued on-call cell phone in '99, I just always remembered those four letters (CDMA) as the letters I needed to look for whilst phone-shopping, especially lately for phones bought off Amazon versus phones bought from Verizon directly.

But apparently I'm stupid and old, because CDMA I guess is the old shit, and LTE is the newer/current thing... and Verizon is shutting down its CDMA infrastructure soonish.

If I'm understanding things correctly (I read a whopping one article, so take this info with a giant salt lick), CDMA is what runs the 3G network, and that's what's going away. If you have a 3G-only phone, you will be required to get a new phone. If you live in a place with sketchy 4G/LTE service that falls back on 3G constantly, then you'll have also enable WiFi Calling after 3G/CDMA goes away. And if you're someplace without WiFi, I guess you'll have to eat a dick? 

Verizon's new thing is VoLTE, and it looks like new/current phones need to be able to handle VoLTE ("Voice over LTE"), which also delivers their HD Voice service featuring unicorns and rose-scented farts.  

(I'm so classy today!)

Of course, Verizon will not acknowledge that their cell tower got smashed during a freak 2014 hailstorm here, and within 20 minutes we North Wilmingtonians all went from 5 glorious bars of delicious 4G service to maybe one bar or the dreaded No Signal Triangle. Repeated calls to Verizon and coordinated efforts by neighbors have yielded no fixes, but Verizon is happy to sell you a signal booster/network extender. 


I'm all about no longer supporting ancient stuff, and eventually ripping off the Band-Aid and forcing people to upgrade (*cough* she writes from her physical keyboard phone *cough*).  But I'd rather not be forced to upgrade to something where the supporting infrastructure is broken. 


So maybe it's high time to jump to TMobile or something.  I'm forgetting why I thought staying with Verizon was important. 


Sources: 

https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/knowledge-base-218813/

https://www.fxtec.com/forums/topic/fxtec-on-verizon/#post-18556

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I am strangely relieved that eating them does not provide WiFi.
 

I've been getting hired to play a lot of percussion gigs lately; and these gigs require actual sheet music and precision. When hands are busy, it's hard to turn paper pages, so for my recent Genesis gig I used a tablet with a bluetooth foot pedal to turn the pages.  This was extremely liberating, and I will never go back to paper!

In the past, if I have a singing gig where I only need lyrics and not actual sheet music, my fabulous Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1" I inherited from Matt Lichtenwalner is the perfect thing. However, it's got a pretty big bezel, so it's just too small for actual sheet music that I have to *read,* like for BeatleFest. (I cannot memorize the harmonies  plus percussion parts to 215 songs, because the harmony I sing changes on each song. Am I singing top? Middle? Switching on Page 4 because Brendan has been singing a certain part for 20 years and so just for these two words I sing this other thing?)

I looked at the new iPad Pro, but for $1200, I couldn't justify it... plus, I really just don't "get" IOS. It's unintuitive to me, which I know makes me weird.

After months of research, I settled on the Onyx Boox Max 2 Pro, which is my very first e-ink device. It purposely doesn't have a backlight, because I find that backlit devices cause eye fatigue like whoa, plus they can mess with the look of the stage when you have a fancy light show goin' on.  (I can always use a judiciously-placed stand light that can't be seen from the audience if necessary.)  This Boox Max 2 Pro sucker is 13.2", so it's larger than a sheet of 8.5" x 11" paper-- I don't have to squint or zoom to see my music. Yippee!  It's so much easier on my eyes, too!  And for making notes in my music, it's got Wacom 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity for the stylus, so making notes feels just like writing on paper, no lag, no bullshit.  

But what makes this tablet very different from many other e-ink devices is that it's an Android device that isn't locked down (runs Android Marshmallow), so you can install stuff off the Google Play Store to your heart's desire.  It runs Mobile Sheets Pro (my favorite-- and the publisher even made an e-ink version just for this specific tablet since so many pro musicians use it now), and has no problem with my bluetoof page-turner pedal. YES!

My goal was to buy a high-speed two-sides-at-once scanner, take my 3 GIANT binders of Beatles music and scan 'em in, and stick them on my tablet for BeatleFest.  Alas, the scanner I purchased for this purpose scanned lightning fast (35ppm!), but only if you didn't need to deviate from the defaults. The moment you wanted it to tweak any setting (a little more contrast, please?) it crawled to an unacceptable speed. Like, I would still be scanning my Beatles music long after BeatleFest 2019 ended. :-) 

I did a test run and scanned/imported my music for The Who tribute show we do (much less sheet music to scan), but I noticed that no matter which scanner settings I picked, I still couldn't easily read whatever notes I had written on my sheet music once I was viewing it on the tablet... which means I had to re-write 90% of my handwritten notes... which then looked sloppy because I was trying to trace over my original handwritten notes with the stylus. So annoying.

(So first world. I know.)

To Summarize:

So because the scanner was a bust, I will be returning the scanner, and I'll just import the original, plain PDFs of my BeatleFest music, and I will transcribe my handwritten notes using the tablet stylus. It'll save a ton of time in the long run, I'm sure.

I'm really excited to be able to use this tablet for BeatleFest. I'll have my binders there as a backup, of course... 

I'm also excited to get rid of that giant music stand that was blocking some of the cool percussion stuff that I was doing.  I know this tablet is large, but it's not nearly as intrusive as a music stand. And yay: hands free page turns!  Wooot!


There will still be plenty of gigs (mostly Hot Breakfast gigs) where I will prefer to use my smaller Samsung 10.1" Galaxy Note tablet, mostly because that smaller tablet is a full-color device (very helpful for lyrics) where e-ink tablets are obviously greyscale only. 

But it's nice to have the choice.  My eyeballs aren't getting any better as I get older, so having some options is really nice. 

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Tell me more about this Bluetooth foot pedal.
Most people's sheet music is just in a PDF, so these foot pedals are just a way to tell your app to flip the page.

Even fancy-pants sheet music applications (I use Mobile Sheets Pro, which is one of the popular ones) is really just a glorified pdf reader-- it just has easy ways to group and display songs into set lists and stuff, and has tools easily write notes in your music, zoom, crop out huge borders, too. You can even tell it "When you get to Page 4, turn back to page 2 because I have to take the repeat. Then when I get to Page 3 the second time, jump to Page 5 for the coda." That's all in the app, not the pedal.

The pedals have been around for a long time, honestly... I just never needed one until recently. The pedal effortlessly pairs with your tablet via Bluetooth, and then when you hit the footswitch on the right it turns the page forward/up, and the left footswitch turns back one page. They have a no-stick back so you can't easily accidentally kick it off the stage. :-) The cheapie pedals are fine-- no need to spend a fortune. This is the one I own-- the PageFlip Butterfly. (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LIROF7W?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share)

Some people like their foot pedals to have a click so they have some kind of tactile feedback. I got a silent one because nobody wants to hear clickity-click during a quiet moment.

They also make pedals with four foot-switches, and you can assign from a bevy of actions you want to each footswitch. Forward/back, and maybe "back to the top" or "open next file" or whatever.

Forward and backward is all I needed.

I imagine a foot switch could be handy for table reads, or even transcriptionists, too.
Now I want a series of foot pedals for all my online reading and browsing...
It's the "Crazy Train" sound. :-)
 

I hate that women's clothes don't have useful pockets, especially being an anti-purse-ite (I just hate holding stuff or worrying about nouns). 

I am, however, a huge fan of infinity scarves (it's like a regular scarf, but they sew the ends together so it's a big loop) and I pretty much wear 'em on any day below 80 degrees.  And holycraaaap, you can get 'em with pockets! Eeeee! And I just found out about a nifty, nerdy, queer-owned Etsy shop based in Philly who makes 'em by hand, for slightly less than you'd pay for a shitty one from China on Amazon. And she'll even make custom-ones!

Speaking of queer-owned bidnesses in Philly, BillyPenn.com curated a list you can consider supporting this Pride month and fer always. (And holy balls, why have we not arranged a PhilaDel Field Trip to Henri David's Halloween?!)

TAKE MY MONEY! 


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For a change, I'm going to try worrying about adverbs, instead.
I love those scarves but not the colors.
Yeah, not so much with the cats and plaid.
I flipped to the "custom" order functionality and it looks like she welcomes a dialogue about the fabric.
Of course it’s all academic at this point, since wrapping anything against my neck instantly induces a hot flash.
Halloween overwhelms me. it's such a cool shop, but it's like jewelry overload in there. (i can't believe i'm even saying that!)
Jenn A 6/9
Y'know, looking at it, I kinda thought for a moment "Hmmm... I wonder if this'd be too much after 30 minutes?" Like, after Rare Brooch #937 you're like "Yeah, rare brooch, yup, whatever, great, ok."
There’s only one way to find out! I demand Halloween overload followed by South Street yums.
FOR SCIENCE! (And for awesomes!)
When you go to Lush, if you get smell overload, they give you a little cup of coffee grounds to sniff so you get a palate cleanser and can fully appreciate the subtle nuances of all their products.

(this doesn't help if you can't breathe)

What do you suppose this stuff uses as a palate cleanser? probably 2 minutes of QVC.
make it so!!!
Jenn A 6/13
I'm in! FWIW: I combat jewelry overload by only being interested in jewelry consisting of legged reptiles. Bonus if articulated.
I imagine if anyplace is gonna have what you're looking for, it's gonna be this place!
I love trawling through funky buildings. I could study this place like a museum.
Karen 6/14
 

Thinking a lot about D-Day today. The NY Times had a lot of really powerful, moving articles with gorgeous, haunting photos in it. 

I cannot understand how some assfaces can look at those photos and read the accounts and think either that the holocaust was fake, the photos are fake, that Hitler and/or Nazis were fine people, or any of that.  

Reading that there are only 3% of WWII veterans left (who are all over 90) makes me wonder how we can make this history feel real and urgent to younger generations who only think of WWII as some random they had to memorize for a history test once. 

You hear so many people say, "My dad fought in the war, but he never ever would talk about it." So any chance of hearing stories first-hand were probably scarce to begin with, and now are dwindling so rapidly. 

When I was in high school, I was one of those people who didn't care about history, but now it fascinates me. Matt's folks take tons of classes at Delaware's Center for Lifelong Learning, and in a few years I'll be old enough to attend (I believe you have to be 50, though it might be 55). Matt's dad has taken a few classes on WW1, The Great Depression, WWII, and beyond. He said he's learned so much from listening to these historians with a knack for public speaking/teaching. 

Anyway, here are links to some really interesting articles if you wanna check 'em out:

D-Day in Photos: Heroes of a More Certain Time. (The photos are unreal. There's this one shot of a bunch of bandaged guys waiting to be taken to the hospital, and I noticed one guy up front has impossibly great hair considering where he is and what he just went through that day. But then it occurred to me that his big, boofy hair that I consider "impossibly great hair" was WAY too long at that time. Matt's dad said you could tell how long someone had been fighting by how long their hair was.)

Their Fathers Never Spoke of the War. Their Children Want to Know Why. (This article is about how historians are able to piece together pretty detailed pictures and descriptions of a particular soldier's every day life during the war, thanks to meticulous recordkeeping. Some of those records were damaged in a fire, but what remains is still pretty impressive.)

‘Archaeology of D-Day’ Aims to Preserve What the Soldiers Left BehindThe title says it all. 


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Related: I also worry that the people with memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be gone soon. We're not going to get nuke deniers, exactly, but we could be in for a generation of leaders who just... need to try it for themselves. :-O As awful as Trump is, at least he dislikes war as a tool of statecraft. Unless it tweaks Obama.
 

I had this broken bird feeder in my backyard for eons (it's a platform-style feeder) -- it broke because it was cheap and the squirrels knocked it down a few too many times. It has sat empty for a year or two in my garage.

I always had pet birds growing up. I love birds. Seeing birds out in the wild makes me unreasonably happy. I just fucking LOVE birds. Any kind of bird. Common sparrow? Cute! Robin redbreast? Neato! Mourning Dove? I love your little hootie sound! And crows? OMG, they have my heart. What I would give to be adopted and trusted by a pair of crows

Anyway, I decided to fix and fill the platform feeder and place it outside the kitchen window, and the neighborhood birds have found it and they hang out there all the time. We have sparrows, mourning doves, a pair of cardinals (who are afraid of the tiniest thing), and the occasional little finch-looking things that I die over.  I always have the feeder filled with seeds, and occasionally I'll dice up an apple which they seem to appreciate.  I watch the Cornell University Bird Feeder Cam and saw they also put out oranges, but my birds gave no fucks whatsoever about the orange when I put it out, so I took it away so ants wouldn't discover it. 

I've been thinking about getting a bird bath/fountain (the kind where the water circulates) because birds appreciate clean water like anyone else, plus bathing birds are unfathomably cute, and it's also a sign of bird uber-trust and comfort, since wet birds can't fly... or, they fly as well as, say, a chicken. (Hello, run-on sentence.)

I was also thinking about getting a Ring Doorbell Cam but only aiming at at the feeder just so I can see cute fat birds all day. 

Or maybe I should just work on my goddamn courseware.

But.... BIRDS!


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I think I bought you a feeder at one point for all the reasons.

I _absolutely_ think you should get a circulating bird bath. They (and by proxy, you) will get a tremendous amount of value from it.

Same holds true for the Ring doorbell cam. Well, okay, they won't care about it, but if you set something like that up next to the bird bath? Well, you would have an endless supply of courseware distraction! ;P
It might be that same one, honestly. Once it fell and broke and was glued for the 97th time, I stuck it in the garage telling myself (LOL) that I would buy the replacement for the broken bit. But the birds seem to like it much better without the broken piece anyway (it was like a hard plastic "umbrella" kinda thing to keep the rain out), but it made it tricky for birds to land under it and onto the platform. So now that the umbrella-bit is gone and the feeder is in a dry place, it's BIRD TIME!
That's great! I love the idea that they have better access now. It makes it tempting to make you a new one that's long and low and has access all along the base so that MANY birds can get in at the feed at the same time.

ALL THE BIRDS!
My bird feeder brings all the birds to the yard. They used to bathe adorably in the puddle on my neighbor's pool cover. You are really awesome if you get them a special bird bath, but a plastic pie lid with water in it will make them happy too. Plus, pie.
Oooh, maybe I'll do that. I have several laying around, and since I add seed to the feeder often, changing the water won't be a biggie.
My mom used to have a dry bird bath next to our feeder. Basically a plate with fine sand. Little birds loved to roll in the sand. And it was sooooo cute.
Ah, I didn't think about the dry bird bath. That might be a good solution... I just have to make sure I put it where the rain can't get to it, otherwise bird mud packs. :)
It makes me so happy that you can feed and watch the birds all summer! I switched our seed feeder out (because bears) for a nectar feeder, so although all the song birds are gone, we get to watch the hummingbirds whizz around like alien helicopters now. But a bird bath! I could do a bird bath! Bears don't care about bird baths!

Also: Squirrels; sheesh. This winter, the squirrels kept absconding with our suet. First they just pawed it out of the cage. Then they figured out the cage latch and stole the whole cake. When I put a better latch on, they dragged the whole cage off into the brush and I didn't find it until spring!
My squirrels did the same thing with our suet cages! I have this mental picture of what looks like a squirrel forensics lab or operating room where the greatest squirrel minds dissect the suet cages the suet-cage hunters have lugged in. They figure out how to open it, have a community feast, and then toss they cage wherever, like a suet carcass. The squirrels feel mighty and triumphant, and we humans are just like, "Hmm. Weird. Look where this ended up... *shrug* "

My parents up in the NJ Sticks also had to get rid of their seed feeders due to bears. My dad also has an elaborate system for trash night. It fascinates me. :-)
I put our feeder out again this morning with a different kind of bird seed. It's for finches, titmice and chickadees, we'll see how that goes.
"Titmice." Huhhuhhhuhhuh.
 

My 5-row landscape QWERTY-lovin' brothah, behold:

TAKE MY MONEY. 

I'm currently using the BlackBerry KeyOne, which honestly, is... fine. It runs Android Nougat, and while I've heard of some KeyOne users getting Oreo pushed to them, I can't imagine I'm gonna be one of them, since Verizon has never blessed this phone. The BlackBerry Key2 never had a CDMA version, so this KeyOne is the latest device I can have on VZW right now. I don't hate the KeyOne-- I just wish I could hide the keyboard and use the full screen for viewing stuff every so often: the permanent portrait keyboard makes the screen kinda a weird size. But the KeyOne's 2-day battery life (I shit you not, and this is with constant use) will be hard to replicate on any phone, I bet. 

My last phone was the Blackberry Priv which I absolutely loved, but it was BB's first Android device and the battery life was ass and it got really really hot sometimes. (I still keep it next to my bed as a wifi only device, though.)

But... FXTec is making this FxTec Pro-1 and it's a landscape slider like our beloved Droids. It's got 5 rows of delicious keyboard action, and i want to rub it on myself. They're only gonna sell it direct, so you get it from them and not from a carrier. I can dig it.

Comes out in July. I kinda hate not being able to play with one before giving them my moneydollars. I also don't really need a new phone yet... my KeyOne is doing fine, honestly. But still... landscape slider... NOM NOM NOM get in mah 2008 mouf! 

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I'd suggest playing with one before you give them money. The fit and finish of the launch screen is appallingly bad (nothing lines up, it's a hot mess of bad design), and if they can't get software right I'd hesitate trusting their hardware. I freely admit I know nothing about Android or FXTec so this is just gut feel but ... buyer beware.
I'm typically of the "don't buy anything until at least one service pack comes out," so I admit buying a device sight unseen makes me twitchy. But FXTec made a bunch of keyboard mods for the MotoZ that people really to love, so I trust that part at least.

I am slightly leery of their "We dicked with some of the standard apps so they work landscape" approach, but I loooooooved my Droids so damn much, and working portrait-style always seems like a compromise. So I dunno. I wanna be optimistic.

But I also hate when things don't line up, or when slidey action isn't smooth. We'll see what people say come July, I guess!

I didn't order one because I had to spend money on something else... but I'll be watching those reviews!
On one hand - yeah - that looks sexy enough to make me think about stepping 'back' to a physical keyboard.

On the other hand, membrane keys? It's possible to do that in a way that's good and right, but a newcomer doing it would make me nervous.

And on the third hand, I really hate seeing you on a phone that's 'perfectly fine'. You _use_ your phone. You should have one that... ahem... you want to rub on yourself.
Went back and looked at it again - and noticed that it says 'pure Android'. Since it's not coming from a carrier maybe it will be true vanilla Android? If so, I now feel that's a huge plus. I don't know if I will ever go back. Not having all that crapware just feels so much better.
Stock Android.... NOM NOM NOM!
You know me well. In fact, i pre-ordered one about a month ago. Meanwhile, i'm using a craptastic Droid Maxx running Android 4.4.4 because i shattered my KeyONE's screen and lemme tell ya, it's a shitshow. Can't wait until July.
rone 5/1
Oooooooh! Yaaaaaay! I can't wait to hear whatcha think about it once it arrives. I was gonna preorder one, but I just dropped a chunk o' change on a very necessary e-ink tablet so I can carry my seven 3" binders worth of music on me easily and turn pages with a foot pedal. (Gotz me an Onyx Boox Max 2 Pro... should be here in a few days. I opted against an iPad Pro because I have a zillion outdoor gigs this spring/summer and regular tablet screens are worthless in the sunlight.)

Oh NOEZ about shattering your KeyOne screen! Argh! I have a few Droid 4s laying in a drawer... want one?
No, thanks, i thought of buying one but Verizon won't add them to the network anymore unless they're pre-paid. Shitshow, i'm tellin' ya.
rone 5/2
My friend Shannie just had the same problem - she and her husband had a simple, classic flip phone, and they won't let her keep it on the network. Irksome.
Give up that Blackberry! I don’t build apps, but I support them, and when we get a ticket that someone is trying to run an app on a Blackberry, first we make time machine jokes ... then we try to help them. Usually the answer is, “Your device isn’t on the list of supported devices, use the website.”
My beloved Blackberry runs Android Nougat, so it's just like a dang-ol' Samsung Galaxy. No reason it shouldn't run something that runs on Android.

There are a few weirdos who still use a Blackberry that runs the actual Blackberry OS... I am comfy with you poking fun at those folks. :-)

But for me (and Rone)? No BES necessary.
 

Tornado Warning!

I wrote this on Twitter this morning (April 15th), and I'm going to be lazy and copy/paste the tweet-storm:

======================================================

1) Holy crap. I haven't been sleeping well for the last few nights... and last night my body said "ENOUGH." Like a Roomba driving itself back to its dock, my body auto-piloted itself to bed at 11:15. (This is unheard of for me... I usually hit the hay around 4:30am.)

2) Normally I wake up 8-9 times over the course of a night/morning, and like an ass I always check my phone when I wake up, which naturally makes it harder to fall back asleep. This did not happen last night... I slept SO HARD. I knew nothing.

3) I'm also a huge weather and safety nerd; my ears are finely-tuned to detect any and all weather-related sounds (distant thunder, wind, rain, etc.), as well as weird noises in/outside the house. I sleep with one ear open, and these sounds always wake me up. Not last night.

4) I just woke up now (8:43am) to a bazillion missed phone alerts from 3-4am (including one of those incredibly loud Emergency Alerts sent via the Powers The Be™) commanding I "take immediate shelter from the [goddamn] TORNADO." I missed 'em all. That scares me on 2 levels.

5) It scares me 'cuz it's always been my job to be in charge of weather safety. I like keeping aware of wx threats, stocking a modest emergency kit, and making the rare "it's time to get in the basement" call. I like this job. I missed this completely; we could have been hurt.

6) It also scares me that my body was SO exhausted that it could not be awoken, even for a substantial threat, and despite a zillion warnings that surely made my phone scream. What does this say about the state of my anemic body, that a zillion alarms didn't even make me flinch?

7) Anyway, I really hope everyone is safe. I haven't yet looked at damage reports yet (hell; haven't even looked out the window yet) and judging by the sheer number of alerts, I imagine there's gotta be some. I'm just hoping people heeded them and erred on the safe side. (Fin)

======================================================

After I wrote all that, I started investigating why my phone's emergency alert didn't wake me. I keep my phone on Silent 99% of the time; however, I remember when President Cheeto sent that Presidential Alert a few months back, that shizzle came through loud and clear. So why didn't this Actual Alert make a sound? I went digging through my phone's settings and even RTFM and still couldn't find the answer, so... I dunno. 
Anyhoo, there was an F2 tornado that touched down at 3:38am in Sussex County[1], so that tornado warning was real. Thankfully nobody died; I believe there was only one injury caused by a tree falling on someone's house... yikes.

And thankfully, my worry above was for naught... I was really concerned that I slept through crazy alarms that should wake the dead and holy-lord-am-I-that-anemic-and-dead-that-even-that-couldn't-wake-me?! But the alarm was silent, so I just slept like a normal person. No crisis!


Early Birthday Weekend

(I wrote this on April 15th)

My birthday is coming up on Wednesday of this week (me and George Takei!). As an early birthday gift, Matt bought us tickets to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden. This is the 4th time we've seen him at MSG since he started his residency, and he sounded amazing, as always. I scored us a hotel near Times Square, and we could see the New Years Eve Ball from our hotel window. Thankfully the hotel entrance is away from the crowd, so we could avoid the tourons and belligerent buskers in Elmo and SpiderMan and Statue of Liberty costumes.  We took the train up (admittedly, a decadent gift to ourselves) and arrived around 3-ish, so we enjoyed the 20-block walk to the hotel, grabbed a cup of coffee and a few fronch macarons along the way, and checked right into the hotel.  After freshening up, we went to our favorite restaurant (a Turkish place, creatively named "Turkish Cuisine,") and had an amazing meal as always, and then walked to MSG.  We entered the venue and took the escalator up to the 100 section, and then walked to the door marked "Sections 111-115." The usher looked at our tickets and said "Oh, NICE! Which one of you bought these tickets?" Matt said, "That was me." The usher turned to me and said, "This guy right here? He done good. Enjoy the show." He handed us off to a different usher who walked us down to our seats... closer and closer to the stage... to the front row of Section 115. HOLY CRAP! We were as close as you could possibly get to the stage without being on the floor... which means we could see absolutely everything. In fact, we were so close that I could read the brand of gear on the sound guy's mixing board. It was SO GREAT!  We sat next to some friendly drunk people in their late 50s and after just generally chatting, our Billy Joel tribute band might get a gig out of the deal. (One of the couples was verrrrrrrry wealthy and had flown up from South Carolina just to see this show. The husband is turning 60 and they want to do something extra amazing for him, so we said, "Why not hire a Billy Joel tribute band?"  The wife gave us her phone number. Who knows?)

After the show, we walked back to the hotel in the pouring rain, and stopped for dessert and a nightcap at Cafe Un Deux Trois, which was lovely. 

The next morning we went to this diner we really like (The Times Square Diner- though don't let the name fool you-- it's not particularly touristy), and then we headed over to Central Park to walk around and then go to the zoo. We got to see the sea lions, all of the amazing birds in the Tropic zone, and also Matt's favorites-- the puffins.

We made sure to leave the zoo by 3:45ish so we could catch a cab to Sam Ash, which is a giant music store right by Penn Station. I needed to pick up a few more percussion gadgets for this Genesis show I'm playing in (see "Percussion" below) and wound up spending almost $450.  Whoops... oh well. Happy Birthday to me, I guess!


Another Birthday...

My brother's birthday and mine are two years + one day apart. He's 4/16 and I'm 4/17. He turns 50 in 14 minutes! For his big 5-0, he decided he wanted to go to the most beautiful place he'd ever seen, which is Assisi, Italy. He went there in high school, when our high school used to arrange annual trips to Europe (which they natually discontinued once it came time for me to be old enough to go). Since 1987 he's been saying it's the most beautiful place he's ever been to, and how he'd give anything to go back. So, they gathered up their immediate family and headed over there. My sister-in-law and my youngest niece left 5 days early so they could visit a friend in Israel, and then they met my brother, my nephew, and my oldest niece in Italy. I'm so happy they're able to experience this all together.  It's also kinda neat that Jack (my nephew) is the same age that Jeff (my brother) was when he first saw Assisi.

We'll be having the Knapp Family Easter Passover Birthday Goulash next weekend in NJ. 


Percussion!

The next musical thing I'm involved in is a live performance of Genesis' double album "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" with The Rock Orchestra. We're not dressing like Peter Gabriel or anything, but we are playing the hell out of this music.  The band has been rehearsing for about 2 months now, but every weekend they rehearsed I had to be in NJ for something. But for this show, they can definitely rehearse without me, because I'm just playing percussion and provding some secondary backing vocals. (Joe has this other woman Chris singing primary backing vocals. Whenever there are two backing vocal parts at once, I'll jump in. But the percussion is keeping me plenty busy. It's so much fun!)

I sent these tweets on the train ride home:

1: Just spent almost $450 on more percussion toys at @samashmusic in NYC. There's so much fun percussion on Genesis' #TheLambLiesDownOnBroadway, and I get to play it all, twice in one day, with @RockOrchestraDE on Saturday, May 18th at 3pm and 8pm. Shows at  @TheGrandWilm. Wheee!

2: Bought some monkey skulls (pitched woodblocks), mountable castanets, a snake spine (ratchet), & an ultra-lite tambourine for crazy-fast 32nd notes. Also bought 2 expansion trays for my percussion stand for quick/easy access; sometimes I only have 2 beats to switch instruments.

3: Got yet another shaker: This one is REALLY bright/crisp/loud & really cuts through. Has a great feel/swing/weight. My fave purchase: A Flexatone! Gonna follow @Casarino around in case he sees something eerie, catches a chill, or eats Jello. (Helpful Example!) 


OK, gonna post this now.


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[1]: Sussex County is Delaware's southernmost county-- we only have three, stacked on top of each other since Delaware is a tall, skinny state. We live in New Castle County, the northernmost one.


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my phone didn't make any sound either, and I'd been keeping it by my bed for years in case of something like a tornado warning.

happy birthday.
thank you for sharing the update.
You know where else Matt can see puffins? https://mollybawn.com/boat_tour_newfoundland I think tours start in June. Also they participate in Puffin Patrol, where they help puflings (!) get from where they’ve hatched to the water without getting eaten by gulls. That starts in August. https://cpawsnl.org/puffinpetrelpatrol/ (EDITED to add: I don't know why the second link won't linky, sorry.)
Michele Grant 4/21edited
PUFLINGS! EEEEEEEEE!!!
Puffins are gud. See them a lot in Maine, and on my travels for work (including Newfoundland). They're just so... good!
that sounds like an AMAZING birthday! and holycrap those seats! well done, matt! :) (and i love un deux trois, if jack weren't 100% paleo i would have taken him there the other night since our theater was right next door. nom.)
Jenn A 4/22
I was awake, prepping for a medical procedure. I just thought, "Well, we're screwed." Since I was pretty immobile and everyone else was asleep.

Happy Birthday! Give Pie my best!
Yes! Birthday Pie needs to get its proper adulation!
Happy belated birthday!
Sounds like a fantastic birthday - more so when thinking about the two of you and that scene. Super happy to hear it.
 

Tonight (Friday) we'll be playing our first gig in a while. A band we love very much, The Honey Badgers, are having their album release show and asked us to open... and we were flattered since we're almost 20 years older than them. (We have this tired 'joke' about how they are the younger, more attractive acoustic duo who is also a couple with the band initials "HB.")  They played at our very first CD release show in 2013, so it'll be nice to return the favor.

Erin has a music degree in voice/violin, and her voice is like velvet. She cares so much about singing well, which I sooo appreciate, but she is also so effortless in it, which I am sooo jealous of. :-)  Her husband Michael is a science guy and a computer guy, and while not as musically-trained as Erin, he has such innate musicality and plays a zillion instruments, and their voices blend so, so, so well.  They play folk, but it's not sleepy folk. 

The show is upstairs at The Queen, but thankfully it's not a LiveNation show (it's just a rental) so tickets are not expensive because there aren't $73,938 in TicketMaster fees tacked on.  

Matt and I open the show at 8pm sharp, and we'll play a truncated set (35 mins). I'll also be singing lead on a Honey Badgers song during during their set, and then joining them on the final two tunes. 

We're looking forward to this show because we'll get to play two songs we don't get to play often at all... but since this is a folk/listening audience, we can bust out two songs that really reward the listener for paying attention to the lyrics. (Matt writes a great damn song. Playwright lyricists, man. Nomz.)

You can buy tix online only until 8am on the 15th (so 6 hours from now); otherwise you'll have to buy them at the door; there should be about 10 available at the door, I'm guessing.  The good news is that your ticket stub (or your ticket receipt if ya bought it online already) can be brought to the Stich House Brewery down the street on 8th and Market for 10% off your whole bill, before and/or after the show. Wheee!

Ok, going to bed. 


(PS: This is not me trying to convince anyone to go. We gauge our success on how many non-friends (organic fans) come to the show. I hate when bands make their money by guilting their friends into paying their rent, essentially. Not cool. Nobody owes me anything. 😊)


(PPS' My sleepy meds have just kicked in. I wanted to write about The Homey Awards that were tonight, and were fun. Will write more tomorrow.)

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Ooo now I know where to invite the gang after future shows
The place is really great!
Is it still guilt if it's a guilty pleasure?

Some day SOME DAY, I will be kid free and in Delaware when you play and make one of your shows....what's the best way to see your schedule in advance?
There are two easy ways to keep up!

1) Our website:
http://hot-breakfast.com/shows/

2) Our Google calendar:
http://hot-breakfast.com/calendar/

We can also add you to our mailing list! We usually send things out quarterly/seasonally... but that requires people to kinda make a note about shows. Our marketing person is trying to get us to send out reminder emails closer to shows, but good lord I am so worried about over-emailing people.
 

Hi all!

Verizon had a huge cell outage earlier this week, and because of that, Matt and I aren't able to receive MMSes. (MMSes are fancy texts-- so any text with a photo or sound attachment, or text-only texts sent to multiple people at once.

We can still receive simple texts (SMSes)... meaning text-only texts sent to one person at a time, though. So at least that's something. 

I don't know when Verizon is going to have this fixed, but until it is... if you need to reach me, email is best.  If shooting off a text is easier, please just make sure you're only sending it to me, and it's not part of a group text.

Right now I have about 8 group and/or photo texts that have been saying "Downloading..." for over 2 days now.  The suspense is killing me!

Apologies. I know it's annoying. :-(

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Verizon wants me to return their old router, but the label they sent me has one of those little broken-image "X" icons where the actual label information is supposed to go.
I would love to see that. A bunch of us here love public BSODs and error messages, and that kinda image "X" icon thing is making me giddy just thinking about it.
Aw, darn. I think I just gave it away to the friendly UPS guy. Sorry.