January 8th, 2016

Thinking about summer vacation

A few years back, I found this amazing wall calendar that doesn't have pictures, so it spreads the boxes for the month over the facing pages, leading to Enough Space to write stuff legibly. Most of the time. Of course we're all trying to move towards digital calendars, but that just hasn't worked completely for me (altho I'm getting closer), and the wall calendar communicates to people like sitters who we don't share calendars with (sure, you can make the case that we should be sharing those events, but when you don't know when the sitter will be sitting when you create the event, it's hard to know which events to share and I'm just not inclined to share my whole life with child care).

Anyway. The calendar has advice on each month about stuff you should do this month. This advice is irrelevant to my life so I ignore it ("Organize store coupons"). But sometimes it gets me thinking ("Begin collecting summer camp information"). I won't do what it _says_ (my kids' IEPs have summer programs, and I have yet to find a summer camp that would be compatible with that schedule AND our summer trip to the Cape), but it will occur to me that there is a relevant thing to think about.

In this case, I got to thinking about that summer Cape trip. I booked the house months ago, but my son really wanted to go back to Cape Cod Campresort. I thought, maybe I should talk to him about this again, let him get his arguments out and start working his way around to thinking the new place might be fun. I also thought, hey, sharing a kitchen with my mum-in-law and my sister and her family is going to be Fraught. Maybe I should collect some info from them: what range of time do you usually have breakfast and how much time does it take you to prepare and clean up from that breakfast. Then I could rough out a schedule for who gets the kitchen when in the morning, which is likely to be the Most Fraught meal. I could also talk to my sister about planning who is producing which meals; that has worked well on previous trips when we weren't sharing a kitchen, and would probably be helpful here. Bathrooms are not a problem in this particular house, so I don't have to work out a bath-or-shower schedule.

After ruminating over this while having an insanely good dinner at Bondir in Concord (they seem to be preferentially carrying Umpqua wines for their Oregon selections. Apparently Willamette is moving into the Too Many People Know About It category. *sigh*. The Brandborg was excellent -- they were covered last spring here: http://www.winepressnw.com/2015/03/16/3450849/oregon-winery-of-the-year-brandborg.html), I had a conversation with my son in which he asked me:

How long does it take to drive to the Cape?
Where is [name of house we rented]?
How far is it from there to the camping place?

Some further discussion ensued, mostly me answering questions, and when I pulled up a picture of the house, he said, very excitedly, "I like that. I want to try that."

Okay then. That was easy.

Amazon Echo and music from my phone

Today, I thought, hey, while I'm waiting for my husband to return from his visit to the Apple Store (his phone has the battery swelling problem), maybe I'll mess about with the Amazon Echo. I looked for something that would explain how to connect my phone to the Echo so it would play music.

I found year old coverage at Recode and PC Magazine:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2476167,00.asp

I paired my device. That was simple, altho I had to try a couple times, and ultimately turned off bluetooth on my phone and turned it back on again then moved my phone even closer to Echo in order to convince it to show up as a pairable device. Once paired, I started music on the phone side. It was kinda quiet, so I turned up the volume a little, then went. Hmmm. "Alexa, please turn the volume up." That helped, and a few more, "Alexa volume up"s later, and I could hear it in the kitchen. The Echo is a perfectly adequate bluetooth speaker (that is, it's no AirPlay enabled Pioneer, but the Pioneer won't tell knock knock jokes, either).

My sister called me while I was playing music. Alexa rang. My phone rang. Much ringing. I answered on the phone, and it did not play over the Echo (I wonder if you can answer it through the speaker? Hmmmm. ETA: Apparently not. https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201549660 "Note: Phone calls, text messages, and other notifications from your mobile device can't be received or read by Amazon Echo, and audio from Amazon Echo can't be sent to Bluetooth speakers or headphones."). When I ended the phone call, the music resumed.

Nice! This is kinda fun. I still wanna get some controllable lights, but this is pretty cool.