December 7th, 2013 · Tags: Uncategorized
Today the hotspot of choice is the world headquarters of PingWi-Fi.com, since some of our other favorite Wi-Fi watering holes are locked up tight due to the ice storm throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
By the way … the roads are really bad — not terrible — but really bad. IF the weathercasters and newscasters would convince people to slow down and avoid tailgating and spinning out … it would be fairly decent. Instead everyone is on the road freaking out.
Oh well … it is football weather — best watched from the Ping Hotspot anyway. First up, sheer Bedlam. We expect to see The Oklahoma State Cowboys get some revenge for all the years they have been “owned” by the Oklahoma Sooners.
Uh … note … after we typed the paragraph above, OSU scored on the first play, a 75-yard run. But of course, a beautiful run was negated by a silly holding call. It was a good call. Pity.
Today, it is longjohn and wool-lined slippers in front of the flat screen for football. Texas and Baylor coming up … But, hopefully, soon the PingWF crew will be bouncing back and forth from press box to sidelines and back for a few of the bowl games we hit each year. FYI … Did you know the PingWi-Fi blog was the first to tweet an entire bowl game from the press box. Some laughed at us. Other’s followed us. Now … everyone does it. Ha … in one of our links, we even have video of Houston’s star Case Keenum punting the football. That’s rare.
Yes … we do football … typically with a Wi-Fi angle … such as these:
Heart of Texas Bowl
Frog Football Wi-Fi
Tech In Ticket City
Houston In Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Stay warm. Enjoy!
Know what I sayin?
December 3rd, 2013 · Tags: Uncategorized
November 28th, 2013 · Tags: Uncategorized
November 7th, 2013 · Tags: Airports · Wi-Fi
Ha. It’s about time. Inflight Wi-Fi is all over the news and it is the subject of more and more airline ads. Glad they finally got on board, wholeheartedly. We’ve been evangelizing since, what, 2003? Regardless, good times! Nothing better than getting some work done on the computer at 30,000 feet and doing the important things – updating status, liking your friend’s breakfast photo, and tweeting to the unreading masses.
If you have not been keeping up, here’s a good piece from the Aussie press:
But beware, it is said that with fewer restrictions and improved quality of Wi-Fi on the airline of your choice, surely more advertising is on its way. Can you say “captive audience?”
So … we celebrate the maturation of inflight Wi-Fi and we look back on some high fallutin, Wi-Fi tootin our own horn blogs here:
You are free to blog around the cabin.
Know what I sayin?
October 26th, 2013 · Tags: Uncategorized
“I totally lucked into this deal … staying in a new barn/house on 1700 acres butted up against a national forest in Montana … in The Big Hole area. The only thing between this place and the mountains is a few hundred head of Angus. I rode a four-wheeler all morning, right up to the lip of Twin Lakes and some other trails where there were 6-8 inches of snow on the ground … what could be more pristine and perfect? … I had the national forest to myself and was enjoying my lunch out of my backpack, shooting a few photos and selfies … sitting at a picnic table, when I’ll be darned … Sasquatch stole my beef jerky!”
– Wi-Fi Guy, as posted on Facebook
Facebook status: sometimes they’re the whole story and sometimes they’re just the lead.
This time … there is so much more to say. I mean … Montana = Big Sky and it is the home of The Big Hole … a big time had by all. So beautiful and free … and the history:
“At the time Lewis & Clark “discovered” the Big Hole River watershed, it was a buffer zone between several rival Native American tribes including the Nez Percé, Shoshone, Coast Salish, and Blackfeet. Lewis & Clark considered navigating up the Big Hole River, but chose the slower-flowing Beaverhead River instead. Trappers from both the Hudson’s Bay Company, the North West Company and the American Fur Company exploited the region from about 1810 to the 1840s. Miners and homesteaders settled the area between 1864 and the early 1900s.
In 1877 the U.S. troops under John Gibbon fought the Nez Percé Indians along the Big Hole River, during the Nez Perce War in the Battle of the Big Hole. The site of the battle along the North fork of the Big Hole is preserved as the Big Hole National Battlefield.”
Big Hole Valley
I am saving the battlefield for another blog. We will live to ping that another day. For this blog, it was about fun and photography. It so deserves a big ol’ wordy effort. Although anything I write about this place will fall short.
Big Hole Battle
As posted above, I was on private land – a friend’s new weekend getaway home, with a back gate that opens into Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The house was so cool … still a work in progress, but very comfortable … designed like a red bard. There were a few hundred Angus cows and calves circling the house and me the whole time … hoping I was putting out hay, I’m sure. At night I had to take care not to trip over cows or their “markings” as I gazed in awe of the clearest view of The Milky Way … only slightly overpowered by the fullest moon ever.
I think the cows were counting coup on me, throughout the weekend, if you are familiar with the term.
On the first morning, I felt like a king, propping my feet up, looking out several big picture windows, with a mountain in front of each of them … stopping to take a breath, enjoy the silence and ingest the grandeur of the Rockies at sunrise.
This mountain “Barn and Breakfast” also came with a sweet four-wheeler, which gave me a fix of riding out in nature, and took me places that otherwise I would have not seen. My host had stocked the shelves, but I didn’t want to overeat my welcome.
So, breakfast consisted of a bag of cheap, chocolate Little Deb donuts and a bottle of milk, but it was one of the best breakfasts … EVER. I slammed ‘em down and mounted up.
I rode the four-wheeler, in four-wheel drive mode for all it was worth up to Twin Lakes, and then tried to conquer the climb to Ajax Lake — a stone’s throw from the Idaho/Montana border. I followed someone else’s track in the snow for a few miles. When their tracks gave up, turned around and went back downhill, I decided I better do the same. This flatlander had no business stranded on a Montana mountain in the winter.
The ride to Slag-A-Melt creek was easer, mostly downhill on a small trail through dense forest. Spent some time on a trail to Big Swamp Creek too … before I got lost-ish.
The park still seemed to have a bit of a hangover from the government shutdown. I talked to two park rangers who told me to make myself at home, but that the park was still closed. So I pretty much had the run of the place for a day and a half.
This outing was not the first time in Montana that I thought I should have been carrying bear repellent. (I think I am afraid to buy that stuff, thinking I will forget and be stripped searched at the airport like a common terrorist later on … if I leave it in my backpack.) BTW, I have heard some of the locals use “terrorist” and “tourists” interchangeably. Probably with good reason as the hordes cross through on motorcycles or land armed with fly fishing rods and/or hunting rifles each hunting season.
But I didn’t see no bear. I did see my first bald eagle in the wild. Magnificent!
The Big Ol’ weekend was the opposite of my Dirty Gig back on the disaster job. As mentioned in a previous blog, Bannack State Park has excellent Wi-Fi, but no cellular coverage. At the Barn & Breakfast, I had cellular, yet no Wi-Fi. No worries, although I didn’t pack a very good breakfast, I packed a laptop and an iPad … the latter with 3G wireless capability. The iPad kept my tweets twittered and my status updated and my photo albums populated with beef cattle. In that regard, I was prepared.
What I was not prepared for was my host’s vow of TV celibacy. What? No tube and my Texas Tech Red Raiders were playing … and continuing their move toward the spotlight on the national stage. Oh well … It was a little more Tech deprivation and TV withdrawal than I needed … but the majestic real “real world” got me through it.
What a photographer’s dream … If only I were more skilled. Oh well — no one — “exceptin” Ansel could have done justice for this scenic ranch. (BTW … have I mentioned that my new friend — the guy I call “Blue Duck” just to be silly, once toted the cameras and tripods and gear for Ansel Adams throughout Yellowstone? How cool is that!?! I digress …
I tried and tried to capture the pink/orange glow the mountains took on at sunrise. I framed mountain tops within the timbers of old cow pens, went in close for shots of fluorescent green moss sprouting from fence rails … and shot from just about every possible angle to focus on the “jack fences” made of timber “Xs” and cross rails … something you don’t see on the ranches of the near treeless High Plains.
No Wi-Fi but 3G that works in a pinch, no Texas Tech, no apparent cojones to continue up the snowy mountains … but even so this Big ol’ weekend in The Big Hole gets a perfect score — 7 snow-covered pings.
Know what I sayin?
I’ve had my good eye on Bad Ass Coffee and another shop since I arrived in Dillon a couple of months back. At first glance, I thought B@ had closed down, because it is not the only business in a small office building. And, it is not the business you see from the main street as you drive by. Even though the flop-eared donkey signs are all over the building — it looks like an insurance company has taken over and left the jackasses on the walls and roof to add personality.
Early on in my unsuccessful stalking of this Jackass haunt, I drove through the drive-thru and stopped at the window. It was pitch black inside … I just knew they had gone out of business.
Only recently did I learn that The Arse has been open for business this entire time. They just have a small window of opportunity in their schedule, IMHO.
Well … timing is everything and somehow I can never catch them open … probably because I work from 6 to 6 … well, at least I am on a jobsite during those ours. Most of Dillon seems to be out working on the same schedule.
Hey Bad Ass! Please, add some evening hours. Surely the Montana Western college crowd will support you … I mean you do have Wi-Fi.
So, not knowing this Bad lil’ Ass was right under my nose the whole time, I have been blogging and updating at Safeway because even though it has zero atmosphere, it has a Starbucks counter (which by the way, closes around 6:30 in the evening.) WOW … I kid you not. Some guy just asked me to pull my headphones off as I write this … to ask me if Starbucks was already closed. It was.
But today was a day of discovery. I left the Dirty Gig mid morning to drive from Bannack to Dillon to grab hardware for our team of carpenters. So, it was on my way, and I pulled over and stuck my head inside the insurance-looking building. Sure enough there are some hand-lettered signs/arrows the direct folks to Bad Ass.
Why didn’t you guys tell me you were so cool? We could be such very good friends. BAC is a franchise but it still has kind of a funky character. Ha … it is a Hawaiian franchise. I did not see that coming. Who puts a Hawaiian franchise in Montana?
When you are Bad Ass you are so good … great Wi-Fi, a nice wildberry frap, and the kind of service I rave about … 6 pings … but I ain’t done raving yet!
I’ll tell you what is so refreshing about Bad Ass – the added bonus of friendly service. At Bad Ass I ran into the only two happy, smiling baristas I’ve seen in Dillon. I guess it is a case of a small town and a somewhat small labor force filling service positions with non-service speaking employees. One or two of the baristas at cross-town Starbucks are nice … but on one of my first visits, the barista looked at me as I ordered and said, “Really?” I was supposed to know her shift ended in 15 minutes and not bother her with giving her employer money in return for caffeine treats in order for them to pay her.
Ha … and don’t get me started on the anti-all humankind people who run my hotel, my home for the last 90 days.
I digress … Back to Bad Ass … They won me over instantly. You see, I walked in carrying a dead lap top and a dubious power cord under my arm. My reason for stopping in Bad Ass was to seek out any other Apple computer user in this small town. I have seen only one or two. The nearest Apple Store is 400+ miles away in your choice of Boise or Spokane.
So I walked in, and asked my bizarre question, “Hey by chance do you know anybody … ANYBODY who has a MacBook Pro with the magnetic cord?” I explained mine was dead. If I had a good cord or good computer that I might borrow for five minutes, I could test my equipment.
Get this. The barista was clicking away on her cell phone before I finished my explanation. And she read out a number … and thirty minutes later, her friend J.C. showed up to help. So, her friend J.C. knows someone else who has a Mac. They are trying to track this down for me as I blog … now using my iPad while my MacBook Pro sits cuddled up in a fetal position beside my leg.
The ironic thing … two days ago I gave my friend — we’ll call him “Blue Duck” because he is a Lonesome Dove fan … I gave “Blue Duck” my soapbox spiel about paying a little more for an Apple laptop, but never having trouble with the cords and batteries. Now, mine has proven me wrong.
Meanwhile, entombed in my dead laptop are all of my photos from a great weekend in The Big Hole. Hopefully, the laptop will live to fight another day and we’ll get that posted.
Know what I sayin?
There is something about a college town. There’s the Saturday football craziness, there is the cultural awareness and the arts … and there is an appreciation for whatever is trending. For me, it’s Wi-Fi that is trending, so when I headed to Missoula, Mont. — home of uMont, The University of Montana I expected plenty.
Before the college town became a college town, it was once called Hellgate Trading Post, founded in 1860. I like what you’ve done with the place, and the new “Missou” suits you.
Driving into town, the college vibe surrounded my truck like a cloud. Several hundred feet up on the mountain to my left was the college logo … with a complementary stadium in its shadow. It was a bright, clear, crisp morning at the end of summer. Things had cooled off slightly, and there was a noticeable breeze. Football weather was just around the corning … I breathed it in, as I drove through the peaceful, quiet neighborhoods. It was beautiful, but to my surprise I didn’t find that many businesses right around the campus, so I broadened the Pingsearch a little further from academia.
Heading west to Reserve Street I found the fertile retail ground … ripe for blogging.
First up, a really interesting building caught my eye and I whipped the Ford into the parking lot of a building that looked like a cafe which someone had added on to … adding a grain silo. I ordered up a sandwich on their home-baked bread and checked out all of the photos of combines harvesting grain … lots of them. “Be still my beating farmboy heart.”
This deli/bakery/coffee cafe is Wheat Montana … and it had a bumper crop of Wi-Fi …
(Since that first visit, I have also checked out the first location of Wheat Montana, on I-90 toward Bozeman … and it truly is a cafe/bakery attached to a grain storage facility and a flour mill. But most impressive – the cinamon rolls about as big around as my face … a perfect fit.)
Wheat Montana — Amber waves of Wi-Fi and good things fresh from the family farm to this new favorite hotspot – 6 pings.
Nearby, off Brooks Street, I saw an old friend, so very far from home. It was the old hometown favorite, Hastings. Back home, me and all my farm boy friends — when we weren’t driving combines or tractors — were flipping through what used to be called LPs at Hastings Books & Records … music! Memorizing album names, following the musicians, getting the updates on Led Zeppelin or The Doobie Brothers … The Clash … studying the coolest artwork on the records … looking at the collectable KISS mirrors.
I think Hastings is still based in Amarillo and seems to target small- to mid-sized cities for their superstores. (I interviewed the CEO for the college paper back at Texas Tech in the day, so many years ago, btw …)
Regardless of where they’re from, I liked where they are. The store in Missoula is in the corner of a busy upscale shopping center — busy enough to have great people watching, but off to the side so it wasn’t a hassle. And I liked what they had done to their records stores … specifically the swank little coffee shop with leather comfies and a cozy fireplace. I parked, got heavily frappaccinoed and wrote a blog.
Another W in the Wi-Fi column for the college town … a great hotspot. Hastings, its Hardback Coffee Cafe and its “homeboy advantage” scored a perfect 7 pings.
As the Ping clock counted down, and it was time to drive back to Dillon, Mont., I saw another hotspot just beyond the edge of town. What had been smoldering clouds on the forest floor as I drove into town had become small forest fires on the way out … within striking distance of the highway … my highway.
But most of the traffic drove on as if nothing had happened. Fairly commonplace out here, I reasoned. I pulled off the highway into a nearby subdivision and fired up the Nikon. Then a few others followed suit, but parked on the side of the highway. Officers urged them to move along, before they were in danger. Out of the smoke, I gave it my best shot, trying to capture some action shots of the helicopter hauling buckets of water to quench the flames. Pretty cool … It was a day when wildfires raged throughout the Northern Rockies … It was incredibly fascinating … but of course you can’t watch and not be worried about people in the area.
The next morning, a team of hotshots, or firefighters from Taos, New Mexico were staying at my hotel in Dillon. We salute you.
Know what I sayin?
October 15th, 2013 · Tags: Hotels
Travel is a funny thing. So many variables. Then, if you get other people involved in arranging your schedule, your priorities, your budget … man, what a mess it can be.
As I galavant around — from time to time — I have a rare opportunity to go home and take a break before the project is finished. And then, after a few days off, I return immediately to the same job. For instance, I just had a 10-day reprieve from the Dirty Gig in Dillon, Montana. Now I am back.
Sounds simple? Nay not so. You see, there is the baggage conundrum. What I mean? It’s a dilemma. Do I take the bags or not? When I travel, I am reimbursed for luggage fees, but who wants to carry a 59-pound bag if they don’t have to. If I were only gone a day or two, I would just keep my hotel room. But for 10 days, that would be pretty irresponsible.
One option is to pack all the belongings/clothes/snacks in the suitcases and check them at the hotel front desk for a few days. But hey, the hotels can’t even get the programmable keys to work half the time. Do I really want to trust them with my favorite skivvies and such?
Another option is to pack the bags, and leave them with someone in the office at whatever project I am on. Kind of like moving in to share a room in someone’s office. This option is okay … until (yes this has happened to me) … until you take your break and go home, and then get reassigned to a different project. Someone at the old project has to find your bags, bundle up your bags and ship your bags. They don’t like that. HA … and then, in such situations (this has happened too) by the time the bags reach my home, I am already off to a new assignment.
Ha … see … it is not all carefree:)
Well, I am not complaining, I just find all this interesting.
Anywho … like I was saying, I was granted a few days off, and packed my stuff to go home. I ended up leaving my stuff in the clients’ office. Well, that altered the equation again. The office was one direction, the airport the other. So I had to pack my things two nights before I left, so i could work all day on the last day, leave the stuff, leave the job, sleep and fly without a second trip to the job. (Follow that?) That situation is also complicated by decisions on which clothes do you wear the last day, and how much stuff can you fit into your one small carry-on bag … a bag already filled to the brim with computers, camera, GPS units, etc. It’s a pain and requires a little planning. I hate planning.
AND there is always that one item you forgot. This time, what did i forget? I forgot that I had my beard grooming scissors in my overnight bag to carry on. In this crazy post 9-11 era, I don’t think you can carry scissors on a plane. If you can, someone hasn’t thought that one through, nor have they seen “Psycho.” So … me being quirky me, I like my scissors and didn’t want to lose them. They fit my hand just right. But, I didn’t want to drive 60 miles round trip just to pack my scissors in my luggage left behind. I didn’t want to ask the hotel to just hang on to my scissors for 10 days.
Ha … what to do? A normal person throws them away and writes it off. Me? I devise a top-secret, super-duper scheme to keep the scissors.
I decided to hide the scissor in my hotel room. (OH … I should have pointed out that I had already learned I was returning in 10 days to the exact same hotel and they were putting me in the exact same room … probably because they don’t like me). I said, “Hey, how about that nice room directly across the hall, you know, the one with the jaccuzi?” No dice. Back into plane jane #225 they booked me.
But, this fit my plan perfectly. I could hide my scissors in the room. Oh, it was no longer a matter of a $15 pair of scissors. It was a game of skill. You see, I have found some weird stuff in hotel rooms. I have seen weird things in weird places hidden in hotels.
Lost Found At Hotels
So I know things are hidden there … so the trick is to be more tricky than the last guy. Game on!
There is the obvious threat that the hotel staff might take them … and lets see, I was going to be gone for 10 days … let’s say the hotel is running at 70 percent occupancy … and it is a queen bed, so probably on one person most of the time … I’d say there were only the potential of seven or eight guests … who for the most part will not be looking in odd places.
Where to bury the scissors? Have i mentioned the artwork in my Montana hotel? I find it odd. On the wall is a very generic wooden, varnished frame with non reflective glass and a print of someone’s very well done painting of a majestic, snow-covered peak, with lots of trees and a creek in the foothills, etc., etc. It’s a decent work of art, replicated en masse I am sure and stuck there on the otherwise empty wall of a hotel done in generic autumn tones. Blah. Bet you can’t guess what is on the adjoining wall, directly over the earth-tone bedding of the little queen size they have me crowded into?
Did you guess another copy of the exact same mass produced mountain, suitable for no-frills framing. You’d be right, if you had. Is this a visual pun for “Twin Peaks?”
Who hangs two identical pieces of cheap art to brighten a room? And further more, if they do, who hangs then side by side on adjoining walls. Too weird … I bet there is something hidden behind one and the other is a decoy. Probably a wall safe. I didn’t check. It could be a trap for me …. someone just hoping I will hide my stuff behind one of these two pictures.
I digress …
I lifted up one of the two identical end tables on either sides of the bed, and threw the scissors under there. If they were gone when I returned, so be it. But if I found them there when I returned … I win this fun little game.
No …. doesn’t take much to entertain me …
But I was playing to win. How could I draw the attention of the housekeeping folks to keep them from tidying up under the end tables. Is it end tables or inn tables … whatever?
I don’t know why I thought something would come over the hotel staff and possess them to clean under a table. They hardly clean the bathroom sink. But … just in case, I created a little diversionary tactic. A few weeks ago at The Dirty Gig there were famous visitors — Turtleman and Banjo Man from “Call Of The Wildman.” No … they were not in my hotel room, but I had two autographed photos of them. On the opposite wall of the room, away from the scissors, i placed the two hand-autographed 5X7 glossies, suitable for framing, in the corners of the two frames of the two mirrors on the wall. Ha … it kind of continued the repetitious artwork motif.
Who wouldn’t be drawn to the Turtleman and Banjo Man like moths to a flame … and be strategically lured away from the scissors?
Ha … I figured by the time I returned to Montana, I would probably forget all of this nonsense. So, I carried the quirkiness even further. On the day I left the scissors in Montana, I punched in an appointment reminder on my iPhone calendar, somewhat cleverly designed to send me a notice as soon as I got off the plane on the day I returned to Montana.
“Are you not entertained?”
Ha .. those who know me, quirkiness and all, probably would expect me to look at the iPhone reminder, when the time came, and say … “What is this?,” never remembering any of what you just read.
But, I returned to Montana, landed in Bozeman, picked up my rental pickup and was headed to Dillon when I felt that telltale vibration in my pocket. “I’ve got mail” Or … actually … you know … I had a reminder that said “Scissors!”
I drove the two hours to Dillon, checked into the same hotel … got the key for the same room and said hello to the same front desk clerk I had now seen daily, for almost 90 days. I found humor in her comment when she said I looked familiar … Doesn’t miss a trick that one …
And how special … she gave me a gift bag with a bottled water and a Peppermint Patty … and yes, the Wi-Fi code, which had not changed in at least 70 days.
So what do you think? How’d it turn out?
Know what I sayin?
October 9th, 2013 · Tags: Cities
No More Ping Tails
Well … I had already committed to donate hair to Locks of Love before I did some Google research. It seems there are a few questions regarding the organization and its providing hairpieces to children with cancer and other ailments. Oh well … I remain optimistic and hope my hair finds a good home … my “rescue hair” as I call it, is on its way. Regardless … in spite of my friends’ criticism, I scratched off another bullet point on the bucket list.
That little triangle in the PingWi-Fi logo … no longer the freak flag:) (Ha … the triangle isn’t there to make a video play either … maybe you have clicked on it …) I digress …
About the haircut … For months I struggled with tangles, but more importantly, trying to devise some publicity stunt to raise awareness for Locks of Love. I got nuthin.
So much for my grandiose idea for Yoko Ono to create some more hair peace … Didn’t hear back from The Flaming Lips about doing a cover and video of Hair … Tough being a blogger under the radar. Frankly … I just ran out of ideas and did this with little pomp/circumstance … It’s the locks that count, right?
It still blows me away, that just after trading e-mails with Yoko’s PR people, I saw her son Sean on the street in NYC. How small of a world is that? No, I didn’t stop him on the street, given that family’s history with stalking. I digress …
Ping Hair Piece
The good news … I found my old friend Boston who used to cut my hair … when I used to get haircuts. Funny … it was embarrassing enough back when she cut my hair at Goldwaves. Her new salon? Ha … Bombshell Beauty Factory… on the cool Magnolia/South Side of Fort Worth. Ha … you be the judge.
Ha … I was in such a grooming frenzy … I forgot to check for Wi-Fi. That is not like me.
Ha! “Get in touch with your inner bombshell.” Snip, snip, snip …. represent. Bombshell gets 7 PingBombs … perfect score.
Anywho … Thanks for the help getting my donation to Locks of Love -
Know what I sayin?
September 29th, 2013 · Tags: Uncategorized
In the event you may be new to this blog, here’s a PingPrimer: