My Facebook profile

About Me

My 15 minutes of fame
"Finding a job you love means never working a day in your life." — Confucius

My family Our house Idaho roots Seattle European vacation Walking Smartphone Where I stand Living tips Contact me

  My name is Eric Pence, and I am a husband, a father, and a web programmer. I am in the 60s generation—the children of the 1960s now in

Born in 40s
their 60s (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe¹). I was born in the 40s and I could be described as a classic, aging, baby-boomer but I have tried to stay current with the new things that have evolved in my lifetime (in my mind sometimes I am still 20-something). Throughout my life I have been fascinated by new and developing things. This influenced me to major in engineering when I went to college, and my active involvement in performing music ultimately led to contemporary jazz, the most experimental form of improvisational music (see my Music page). In the 1980s I became very interested in another "new" thing—computers—and took up programming. Like most programmers at that time I started out working on a mainframe, but I soon realized that I wanted something more challenging, and my career ultimately led to web development (see my Programming page).

Having a website is the definitive expression of many of my interests, and I enjoy it so much that working as a web programmer makes me feel like I get paid to have fun!  (See my slogan at the top.)

Besides what's on this page, some of my other interests include reading, programming, music, cities, maps, tennis, and travel, and I expound on these things on various pages on my website.

My Facebook profile

My public listing – if you login you can see more (I joined in 2009)

My iReports

Commuter boat to Boston – this was posted to the topic Show us your commute in 2008
My first car, a 1953 Buick Special – this was posted to the topic My first car in 2008
Snow in Boston and suburbs – this was posted to the topic Winter weather near you in 2011

My YouTube videos

Stanley Clarke - School Days – I made this in 2006 from a DVD I own
Sunday Night Barbecue – my friend Jim's video of their 2007 garage fire, set to appropriate music
The Road To Perdition – my friend Jim's video of their dog Lucy being wrongly impounded in 2008 when visiting their beach home in Clinton, CT (great song, Jim!)

Some links . . .

MY_WTC – I posted this family photo to this website
Special songs – I was telling someone about songs that were special to Patti and me back in the 70s and decided to share them on a webpage
Cars I've owned – I thought this was an amusing way to express my car history
Funny car story – I had an interesting experience with one car

I wasn't sure where to include this but I couldn't resist putting in on my website. For some reason my wife Patti took this picture, probably in the 70s,
showing a gas pump with a 34¢ a gallon price and costing $3.80 for 11.2 gallons (probably a fill up). Click to enlarge.
You can really express yourself with a great bumper sticker. My personal favorite is which I put on my car.

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My family

  I am a web programmer, and my wife, Patti, is a Nurse Practitioner. We live in Hingham (see Our house), a coastal community on the South Shore of Metro-Boston. We raised our two sons here but now they are grown and have left home. Alex lives in New York City and teaches ESL (English as a Second Language). He graduated from The New School in Greenwich Village, NYC, and has taught English for several years, both in NYC and abroad. He and his girlfriend Laura lived in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, for a year, and now they are back in Brooklyn, NY, where they lived before. Alex is currently in graduate school at The New School. Ben is a programmer at Twitter in San Francisco. He graduated in Computer Science from George Washington University in Washington, DC. He worked for 2 years for the Federal government after graduation, took off a year to travel, mostly in Asia (see Family news below for details), and now is working again. We are very proud that both our sons have graduated from college, traveled all over the world, and begun their adult lives, and I think it is pretty cool that they have each lived for years in some of our favorite cities, NYC, Washington (DC), and San Francisco. The big news in our lives right now is that after living for 34 years in the house we raised the boys in we have moved to a new house.

A quick family summary:
  At home we have two cats, Mandy and Pepper (and sometimes Alex's cat Monstar, that we call "Baby", who has lived with us several times when he was abroad), and a dog, Casey. See the Gallery  page for pictures of all of us, including the animals.

I work in the Financial District in Boston, Massachusetts (map, see my building) and to get to work, I take a commuter boat—a pleasant half-hour trip—during which I usually read or chat with friends (and sometimes have a little excitement!). The Boston Globe did a comparison of commuting from the South Shore (where we live) by car, boat, train, and Red Line (the subway), and not surpisingly, the boat came out on top. When I arrive at work in the morning or at home in the evening I am rested and relaxed, a very different state than that of many suburban commuters, who drive their cars in the intense, bumper-to-bumper, rush-hour traffic. In my opinion, I have the best of both worlds—a nice, peaceful, safe environment for my home, and the daily adventure of being in a great city.

Times have certainly changed since I was a kid. For several years, my mother used email from her home in Boise, Idaho, to help stay in touch with her children and grandchildren, who all live thousands of miles from her. Family dynamics have changed a lot in my lifetime, and they are affected by much more than just new technology. Here is an article I saw in The Boston Globe, "Raising a Perfect Child," that presents an interesting view of parenting today. There are links to more parenting articles on the Articles page.

Family news . . .
  This is a blog of family activities. Holiday cards are shown for most years.









    2001     1994-1997     1988     1985     1982     1979
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Our house

Recent photo

Views from house

Boston perspective

New & previous
Previous house

  Patti and I live in Hingham, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb on the coast (I take a boat to work every day in the city), in a house on Otis Hill that we purchased in May, 2015, and remodeled for a year before moving into in June, 2016. We had previously lived in a larger house for 34 years in Hingham Square (that house is actually visible in this view) but after our sons had grown up and departed—Alex to Brooklyn, NY, and Ben to San Francisco, after college and world travels (see My family) we decided to downsize and we have relocated to a smaller house. Our home has views of the Boston skyline, Hingham Harbor, Boston Light (the first lighthouse in the U.S.), some of the North Shore and a bit of Atlantic Ocean, and it is near the end of a dead-end street, so traffic is minimal. The new house is located about 1½ miles from our previous house, so our long-time neighborhood friends will still be in our lives (and I will still have my boat commute to Boston).

Remodeling . . .       (This is the biggest event in my life right now!)

Since the 1970s we have owned 3 homes (1977-1982 in Weymouth, 1982-2016 in Hingham, 2016-present in our current house in Hingham). The first two we moved into, then remodeled. After we bought our current house, we got an architect and builder, then remodeled it for a year with all new construction, and basically turned it into a "new" house before moving in.

Remodeling photos
(July, 2015 - June, 2016)

Before & After

Before & After

Before & After

Before & After
Back wall

Purchased house


We have increased the size of the house from 1200 sq ft (its size when we bought it) to 2500 sq ft, and it went from a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom house to a 3-bedroom, 3½-bathroom house. Some of the layout of the original house is the same, for instance it had 2 stairways (now rebuilt), one going up to 2 bedrooms and a bathroom on the 2nd floor, and one going down to the basement which had a laundry and bathroom. After remodeling (see a list of changes below), the back of the main floor is all glass with windows and doors looking out onto a large deck (which has glass panels instead of balustrades so the view is un-obstructed) that wraps around to the bedroom. The finished house is shingled, so it doesn't look anything like the little brick house we bought. We also installed a generator outside to handle electrical outages. The new Internet hookup is wired in several locations and wireless throughout the house.

  Main floor changes:

  • Added a new master bedroom, master bathroom, and a powder-room off the living-room
  • Attached the existing 1-car garage to the house with a new mudroom and laundry room
  • Put a new washer & drier in our new laundry room
  • Created a new kitchen with new cabinets and appliances (stoves, microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.)
  • Installed a gas fireplace in the living room (removed a real fireplace and chimney)
  • Expanded the back of the house 15 feet and attached a new deck (see living room Before & after, and Back of house)
  • Put walnut hardwood floors in the living room, kitchen, and powder-room (master bedroom and hallway are carpeted)
  • Built a new TV cabinet containing a large-screen TV (and Sonos sound system)

  Living room photos: (click on image to start slideshow, hover over image for description)

  2nd floor changes:

  • Expanded bedrooms with dormers
  • Put a walnut hardwood floor in the large bedroom
  • Carpeted smaller bedroom and hallway
  • Relocated and upgraded full bathroom
  • New carpeted stairs coming up from main floor

  Basement level changes:

  • Removed washer & drier (put new ones in laundry room next to kitchen)
  • Relocated and upgraded full bathroom
  • Added a 2-car garage (we now have garage parking for 3 cars, even though we only have 2)
    Put a new driveway on the West side of the house to the 2-car garage entrance in the back
  • Expanded the back of the walk-out basement 15 feet and created new rooms including:
    • A TV room with a cabinet and large-screen TV from the last house (and Sonos sound system)
    • My office
    • A playroom with a piano we had in the last house
    • A storage room that also contains a Unico small-duct, high-velocity HVAC system (4 zones of AC and heating)
    • A utility room with a gas-fueled boiler and hot water tank
  • Flooring is either carpeted or laminate
  • New carpeted stairs coming down from main floor

Basement photos: (click on image to start slideshow, hover over image for description)

The remodeling is chronicled in photos on my remodeling page.

Our architect was Roger Hoit and our builder was Construction Technology Group (CTG).

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Idaho roots   (See my Payette page for more)


Payette in 60s
I grew up in Payette, Idaho (some of you may be interested to know that Idaho's in the Northwest, not the Midwest, and this map shows you that Idaho and Iowa are two different states a thousand miles apart!) and I lived there until I finished high school in 1966. My great-grandfather, Peter Pence (read about his life), was one of the pioneers of the town (more Payette history). My cousin Bob assembled a Pence family tree, starting with Peter's son (my grandfather, Albert Loyd Pence). I have one famous relative, my late uncle Herman Welker (married to my dad's sister, Gladys), who was a U.S. Senator from Idaho from 1951-1957. I don't agree with his politics (he was a Joseph McCarthy supporter) but I was just a kid then so it didn't cause me any distress. Payette's claim to fame is that baseball Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew grew up there.

Here's an interesting juxtaposition, my childhood home in 1963 and 2005 (the newer photo taken by my friend Barbara Wilson). You can also see it in Street View. Following high school I went to the University of Idaho in 1966, where I majored in mechanical engineering, partly because my high school guidance counselor and my SAT scores pointed me in that direction, and partly because I thought that when I got out of college as an engineer I could avoid the draft (more about that here), which was something that all men of draft age (18-26) had to worry about at that time. After my first year of college I went to Atlanta, Georgia, with my brother for a summer job selling dictionaries door-to-door, which I did for about 2 weeks before I decided that where I really wanted to be in the summer of 1967 (the "Summer of Love") was San Francisco. So I went out to the highway, stuck out my thumb, and hitchhiked cross-country to California. I was only in the Bay Area for part of a summer, not really long enough to consider it a place of residence, so there is no San Francisco section on this bio page (but I did experience Haight-Ashbury during its cultural peak). That fall I returned to college at the U of I for another year, after which I came to the conclusion that life would be more fun without the responsibilities of school. In 1968, after 2 years of college, I moved to Seattle, Washington.

The classic Big Potato postard I saw as a child.
Some Idaho links . . .

Official Idaho Vacation Guide see some beautiful Idaho images on this travel and tourism guide the Official Website of the State of Idaho
Idaho Commerce & Labor the Idaho Department of Commerce has a very thorough website
State & County QuickFacts from the U.S. Census Bureau
Idaho Genweb Project this site has lots of interesting information
Imaging/Imagining Boise a photographic exploration of Boise's past and present
Idaho Potato Official Website I couldn't resist including this one
You know you're from Idaho when . . . from an email
200 year old copper wire from an email

Payette links . . .

City of Payette the official town website
Payette County Chamber of Commerce     just what you'd expect
Payette, Idaho - Wikipedia good info here
Payette on City-Data I love the photos
Payette County IDGenWeb Project this genealogy page is part of the IDGenWeb and USGenWeb Projects
Wikipedia: Payette I was surprised to find this
Payette on Google Maps Looking up main street in Street View
My Payette page created originally for sharing things with my high school classmates

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Seattle   (Seattle photos)

Aerial view
  Beginning in 1968 I lived for 5 years in Seattle, Washington, a great city. You might call those my "hippie" years, when I had long hair and lived a lifestyle emulating the values of that culture. I went to many antiwar rallies and marches (see Where I stand), rock concerts and rock festivals (see 60s music). I have many fond memories of my years in Seattle, where I made few commitments and pretty much focused on the here and now, living a lifestyle of hedonism.

Seattle panorama

Mt. Rainer
Seattle is a beautiful city, bordered on the west by Puget Sound, a salt-water inlet from the Pacific, and on the east by Lake Washington, a fresh-water lake (see map). There are many smaller bodies of water throughout the city and it is known for its boating. I once read that Seattle has the most miles of shoreline of any city its size in the world. There are many bridges and ferries that bring visitors and commuters into the city. To the east of Lake Washington is the Cascade mountain range which includes Mt. Rainier and to the west of Puget Sound is the Olympic Peninsula, which contains the Olympic Mountains. From the city you can look to the East or West and see mountains. As you will notice most photos of Seattle show the Space Needle, that was built for the 1962 World's Fair, which I attended. Seattle is definitely one of the most scenic cities in the world. Here is a view of Lake Union showing quite a lot of the city.

Childhood memories

When I was growing up in Idaho my grandparents lived in Seattle, where they managed and lived in a family owned hotel, the Calhoun Hotel, which was located downtown on Second Avenue. On regular visits we stayed in that hotel and had city excursions (maybe I should insert my Seth Thomas story here). By the 60s they lived in a house on Queen Anne Hill, and in 1962, when the World's Fair was hosted in Seattle (that's when the Space Needle was built) we visited them there and attended the fair. I remember we actually ran into someone from our hometown, Payette, at the fair. I remember once we took a ferry from Seattle up to Victoria, BC, Canada, on Vancouver Island. One thing that stuck in my memory of this trip is that my younger brother, Ed, was put in a harness and perhaps on a leash to control him on the ferry. That was the 50s when people did crazy stuff like that.

Rainy Seattle?

Me, 1972
Seattle has gotten a bad label as a rainy city but that is not the way I remember it. I had a bicycle in Seattle and rode it all over and rain was never a consideration. Seattle gets 38 inches of rainfall annually, but in Seattle Doesn't Get That Much Rain you'll read that major U.S. cities that get more are Mobile, AL (65), New Orleans (60), Miami (58), Memphis (52), Houston (48), Nashville (48), New York (43), Philadelphia (41), and Boston (44) where I live now.

One thing I did a lot in those days (the sixties) was collect vinyl records. Being a musician my taste in music tended to be somewhat esoteric so I didn't just go to the standard commercial record stores like Discount Records (one of the big chain stores that has since disappeared), but sought out harder to find records, many times at used record stores. One of my favorites was a store on the Ave (University Way) named "Puss 'n' Books", which sold used books and records, and had cats roaming around. They bought records from you for $1 and sold them for $1.50. I was pretty good at taking the platter out of the jacket and eyeing it for scratches before buying it. I created a record collection of hundreds of albums which I kept for decades before eventually switching entirely over to digital. In 1968 I started a component stereo system that consisted of a Dual 1019 turntable, a power amplifier, a Sony reel-to-reel tape recorder, and a set of KLH speakers. I had this for years, upgrading many times. See more here about my getting rid of my record collection.

I played guitar when I was in Seattle, and since my style was fairly experimental my musical tastes evolved into jazz, so when I decided to go back to school to study music, I chose Berklee College of Music, where I switched to upright bass (see more on my Music page). So, in 1973, I came to Boston . . .

Some Seattle links . . .

Google Maps click Photos on left and scroll through (map in the lower left shows location of each photo) the official website of the City of Seattle; take the Virtual Tour
Beautiful Seattle a site with access to lots of information
Dan Heller's Photos Dan Heller's photographs are always beautiful
Seattle Photo Galleries the title says it all
Seattle Skyscrapers from Skyscraper Picture Collection
A Seattle Lexicon Lingo from the Far Corner events, attractions, map, etc.
The Space Needle I first saw this at the 1962 World's Fair Seattle Post-Intelligencer the Seattle Times Homepage The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History
Seattle Pop History: Rock to Zero Dock a clickable map of downtown Seattle
Lost in Seattle many old Seattle memories
Seattle Viewpoints where to see and take photos of Seattle's great views the Quicktime VR Tour of Seattle
Seattle Waterfront 2002-1907 panoramic photos of the waterfront from the same vantage point, taken 95 years apart
Penny Postcards from Washington many vintage scenes
List of Seattle landmarks some historicial stuff here
You might be from the Northwest if you . . . from an email

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European vacation, 2010   (I apologize if the Google Maps links are't always accurate. They arbitrarily change them sometimes.)

  The first two weeks of May, 2010, Patti and I and our friend Paula vacationed in Europe. I wrote this description to be put on Facebook, where I had many inquiries about the trip, but I found out that FB only allows 420 characters on a posting and this was way bigger than that, so I created it here and added a link on Facebook to come here. I'm glad I documented this while it was still fresh in my mind.


On Saturday, May 1, 2010, we flew to London. Our hotel (Google Street View) was in South Kensington, London, near Hyde Park. There was a Tube stop a block away so it was easy to get around (the P.A. warns you to "Mind the gap" as you step off the train at each stop). On a very rainy day we went to the Tower of London (history), where Patti slipped on the wet steps when walking on the surrounding wall and hit her head breaking her glasses. She only needed a bandaid ("plaster" in London), and fortunately she had a spare pair of glasses! If you take the Tower Bridge across the River Thames you will see the fabulous City Hall (known as the "Gherkin"). We took hop-on-and-off double-decker bus tours around London and saw many neighborhoods, including the locations of Beatles' homes and Sherlock Holmes' lodgings at 221B Baker Street. We took a boat ride on the Thames from the Tower of London that ended at the London Eye, an extremely large passenger-carrying observation wheel across the river from Parliament & Big Ben. We saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, toured Kensington Palace where Princess Di had lived, and had High Tea at The Orangery in Kensington Gardens. And of course, we shopped at Harrods, the biggest department store I have ever seen!

On Wednesday we took the Eurostar high-speed train to Paris via the Chunnel (tunnel under the English Channel). In Paris we stayed in an apartment (that brown double-door next to the blue awning was ours; turns out this is about a block from the building where Jim Morrison of the Doors died in 1971) on Rue Saint-Antoine (becomes Rue de Rivoli as it goes West) between Hotel de Ville (City Hall) and Bastille, which on current maps represents the Métro stop and the former location of the prison (that we learned after a fruitless search was destroyed during the French Revolution in 1789). Our apartment was walking distance to Notre Dame (Patti and Paula climbed the 387 steps to the top), and we strolled on Champs-Elysées (where the most accessible "free" bathroom was in McDonalds), and went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe (with a 360°panoramic view of Paris). We also went to the top observation area of the Eiffel Tower, visited the Louvre where we saw the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, and took the train to Versailles to see Napoléon and Josephine's palace and gardens. We used the Métro a lot to get around Paris, took a boat tour on the Seine, and several double-decker bus tours (on one we passed by The Thinker sculpture by Rodin, and on the soundtrack I was listening to on headphones I heard a great version of the James Brown song "It's a Man's World" sung by Nino Ferrer in French!). In Paris we ate some of the best crepes and omelettes we have ever had at a cafe on Rue Saint-Louis en l'Ile, a street on Ile Saint-Louis, an island near Notre Dame. Our son Ben, who was going to school in Amsterdam, joined us in Paris and did many of these things with us.

On Monday we took the train to Amsterdam (via Belgium) where we stayed in a hotel on the Amstel River near the Magere Brug ("Skinny Bridge") that had no elevator so we had to climb 4 flights of stairs to get to our room. We walked a lot in Amsterdam and took many trams. I love the city with all its canals and bicycles and bike paths (Amsterdam, "The Bicycling Capitol of Europe," has more bicycles than cars—the Central train station has a bicycle parking garage). We visited the Anne Frank House, the Rembrandt House Museum, and the Van Gogh Museum. We took boats on the canals and had pancakes (a Dutch delight that also comes in varieties with meat, vegetables, and cheese) at Sara's Pancake House, which we later learned in a review is the best in Amsterdam. We flew back to Boston (via London's Heathrow) on Thursday, May 13. We kept our eye on the recent news of the Iceland volcano and were relieved it didn't interfere with our flights (Amsterdam and London airports closed after our return).

Here are Patti's photos. She has posted some of these on Facebook with comments.

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One of my main passions is walking. At lunchtime my colleague Margarette and I walk a 3-mile loop from our office that takes us around the Boston Common and Public Garden at a brisk pace, not quite a power-walk but it does help to keep us in shape. I also do daily dog walks.
  I have participated in several fundraising walks, which lets me do something I really enjoy while earning money for good causes. I usually do the Walk for Hunger with my regular walking partner Margarette (we've done this 20-mile walk almost every year since 1999) and at our rapid pace we have completed it several times in just 4 hours (that is walking at 5 MPH for 20 miles!).

Project Bread, The Walk for Hunger
Walk to End Alzheimer's
AIDS Walk Boston
Dog walks – in memory of Lucy
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  Smartphones have really changed our lifestyles. I currently have a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini Android cellphone. I have had various cellphones since 1995, starting with a series of flip-phones, but in 2011 my son Alex gave me my first smartphone, a Droid X. I used it for several years before replacing it with my Samsung in January, 2014 (purchased for 1¢ on a Staples promotion!). One of the things I like best about having a smartphone is having a computer in my pocket at all times, so I can (besides making phone calls!) use Google, email, Facebook, and GPS. I still often have my laptop but the smartphone has become the most convenient way to do these things. Smartphones are getting bigger and bigger but I am sticking with my small phone which fits very comfortably in my pocket.

Lest anyone think the smartphone has complicated my life—before I had one I listened to music on an iPod and read books on a Sony Reader (and before that I carried a paperback). Now I do both on my phone so I've done away with 2 extra digital devices I used to carry around— so having a smartphone has actually simplified my life. Airlines now allow you to read a smartphone on planes in Airplane mode. When I travel I don't take a laptop anymore, only my smartphone.

My favorite apps . . . External battery charger
  A constant need with a smartphone is to keep the battery charged. I charge my phone overnight so it is always fully charged at the beginning of the day, but in addition I use a 10000mAh external battery charger that has a short chord that is plugged into my phone via the micro-USB port (where I charge the phone). My phone has a 1900mAh battery so this is basically a battery that is 5 times bigger hooked up to my phone. I carry the charger in my coat pocket and plug it into my phone when I am commuting to work (by boat) or flying on a plane. This way my battery never runs down.

Anker PowerCore 10000   (size about 2½ x 3½ inches)

  There seem to be apps for everything now. When we had a frozen harbor in Winter 2015 and the commuter ferries were not running I took the commuter rail. To pay for parking I used an app associated with my credit card instead of having to stuff 4 dollar bills into the slot for my parking spot. (I pay for parking by the month at the boat in a private parking lot, but the MBTA lot also uses this dialup app.) You can get airline boarding passes sent to your phone which get scanned at the airport. In Boston (my town) the MBTA (local transit system) has made the passes that previously only came on plastic cards available for smartphones in this fashion. Certain businesses, like Starbucks, that use cards to scan for purchases now offer apps that do this and you don't have to pull a card out of your wallet every time. I anticipate more and more things coming this way.

There are many websites with good smartphone tips like how to maximize your battery, or using the Cloud, so I won't list those here, but here are some things I do on my phone.


Supposedly smartphones manage memory in effecient ways and like to have frequently used apps (meaning the last app you used) running in the background so they can start up faster, but my preference is to kill apps when I am not using them so they don't use up memory. The way to do this is on my Android (iPhones have a similar method):

  Some notifications require setting a ringtone—but when I don't want to hear my phone ring I use a silent ringtone, silent.wav. For instance, I use this on Gmail, where I still get an icon in the Notification bar for new email but the phone doesn't audibly ring. For text messages, I get a notification icon and the ringtone on my phone is the little iPhone SMS chirp.
Android vs. iPhone
  I have had 2 Androids and never owned an iPhone, so I am not entirely familiar with the iPhone, but I have noticed things that I definitely like better about the Android.
      Replaceable battery One of the best features of the Android phone is the replaceable battery. I keep a spare battery fully-charged in a battery charger, so I can swap batteries whenever my battery is low. When I travel I have an external battery pack to recharge my phone, or I use the available electrical outlets in many terminals, and more planes are putting USB ports at every seat.
      Homescreen The iPhone homescreen looks very busy (I see people scrolling for apps all the time), while the Android homescreen is very simple and easy to manage. On an iPhone it appears that every installed app has an icon on the homescreen(s), but on the Android you only have homescreen icons for things you want there. All installed apps are in the "Apps" folder and you can add any of them to the homescreen (7 panels), or remove them from the Homescreen without uninstalling the app.
      Universal buttons My Android phone has 2 touch-sensitive buttons below the viewable screen, on either side of the Home button, which are hidden until you press on the phone where they are located. There is a Menu button on the left and a Cancel button on the right. These buttons work in pretty much every app on the phone. Press Menu and you get the app's menu, press Cancel and you go to the previous screen, either in the app or it closes the app if you are on the first screen. I have become so dependent on these that when I am on someone's iPhone I tend to press in these places for that functionality that I am used to on my phone, only to discover that the iPhone does not have these features.
Backing up
  I want my contacts, photos, and music to be backed up so they are available should I ever get a new phone. You can back things up to the cloud, for instance your Google drive, but here is what I do:
    Contacts When I enter a new contact it is associated with my Gmail account and automatically backed up to the Google server (so I guess it is on the Cloud).
    Photos I have my photos in albums so I copy these to my PC.
    Music All my music is on my PC in iTunes so I can reload it from there.

My wallpaper
  For the wallpaper on my smartphone I use this aerial photo of Paris. It appears to have been taken from a helicopter hovering over the Louvre, looking up the Champs-Elysées towards the Arc de Triomphe and showing the Eiffel Tower.
  For my lock-screen, that I see whenever I activate my phone, I have a photo of our darling dog, Casey. Anytime I want to show a photo of Casey to someone I pull out my phone and turn it on and there she is. (Most people would probably like a family picture here, but I guess with my kids grown and long gone this is more appealing.)

Listening to music
  I wasn't sure where to put this but I wanted to share how I listen to music on my phone with earbuds.

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Where I stand
  I was raised in a household similar to the one I raised my kids in, where my parents taught me values that I retain to this day (I will always remember the impression that was made on me when my dad took us to see Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee's story of bravery and justice in small-town America) and I have hopefully passed these on to my sons—values like integrity and charity, and a desire to participate in a kinder and gentler world, and help create a more humane and just society.

Coming of age in the 1960s civil rights have always been very important to me. When I evaluate a candidate who is running for public office, the first thing I look at is his stance on social issues like women's rights and gay rights. If the candidate fails on those I don't care what his positions are on everything else, he will never get my vote.

I took this Political Compass test (a brief explanation) and the results show me as "Libertarian-Left", meaning I believe in social freedom and some economic regulation. Not surprisingly, I am at the exact opposite setting on the compass to George W. Bush and Donald Trump.

Yay! Bush is Gone!
A monument has been erected in Iraq to honor the journalist who threw his shoes at Bush.
This was created after I removed this section and I thought it deserved its place of honor here.

  Rants "People who think they know everything are annoying to those of us who do." — Isaac Asimov
  So far I've said where I stand on some of the important issues of the day. Here are some things that may be less important, but they are still annoying.  

If I sound very opinionated it may be because I grew up in the 60s, the era of the Free Speech Movement, when it was considered pretty normal to express yourself openly. See my Articles page for more in support of my views, or on the lighter side, see Political satire.

 1 Some articles have links that expire too quickly so I save them offline.

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Living tips
  Here are a few things I have learned how to do that I want to pass on. They may seem rather silly but they work for me.

  • Peeling a hard-boiled egg
    After the egg has boiled let it sit in cold water for a minute before peeling. This usually makes the shell not stick to the egg.

  • Popping all the kernels when making popcorn in a pan on a stove
    Follow these steps to pre-cook the kernels . . .
    1. Put the popcorn into the cold oil in the pan.
    2. Turn on the burner.
    3. When the first kernels pop, take the pan off the heat and let the kernels sit in the hot oil for 1 minute.
    4. Then just put the pan back on the heat and make the popcorn as you normally would.

  • Curing hiccups
    This technique sounds like an old wives' tale but it works 100% of the time for me.
    • Sit with your arms unsupported and point your two index fingers at each other about 6 inches in front of your face.
    • Keep your fingertips almost touching but not quite.
    • Hold this position for about 20-30 seconds and your hiccups will stop.
    This may work because of the concentration required to keep your fingers so close but not touching.
    More tips

Tips.Net: Household Tips, Handy Hints, and Thrifty Ideas
Household Hints
Robbie's Handy Household Tips and Tricks
Bob Allison's Ask Your Neighbor: Helpful Household Hints

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Contact me
  To guard against spambots that search webpages for email addresses I am not spelling out any complete email addresses contiguously anywhere on my website.
Replace (at) with @ in the following addresses to use in email.

My email address:

Patti's email address:

I have stopped listing our email addresses, and while they are still valid, we'd prefer you use our Gmail addresses.