Tag Archives: wifi hotspots

Three days without access

Friday, I came in to the church office to check email and update this blog. The church computers were completely unable to access the Internet. This morning, we found out that the tech we hired to “fix” our Internet access completely messed things up. The church is now using another tech, who got us back online today.

You might recall that my laptop was out of action, and I still haven’t repaired it. I’ve managed to use it for wordprocessing, but given that it appears to have problem with conflicts in Finder preferences, that’s about all I can do. Looks like I’m going to have to take it in for repairs.

Nor would it make a difference if my laptop were working. Verizon still hasn’t managed to provide us with phone service, nearly a month after I first called them to set up phone and DSL. Our landlady was over on Saturday, and she and I looked into what could be wrong. It turns out that in spite of the fact that Verizon claims to have sent techs over on three separate occasions to connect our phones, they still haven’t connected the wires to their service box in the crawl space under our apartment. Obviously, the techs never bothered to even look in the crawl space, where they were told to look. (By the way, I’m now fairly sure that the reason my laptop is sick is because of the Verizon DSL software I installed on it — that’s two strikes against Verizon.)

So when Carol came down for the weekend, we went over to Panera Bread in the Dartmouth Mall to use their free Internet service. But guess what? AOL had some kind of problem in their servers. We could access mail (mostly), but nothing else.

Technology is failing me this week. Wish me luck as I try to get everything resolved.

And counting…

Geneva, Ill.

With any kind of luck, the PODS people will come early tomorrow morning and pick up the moving container. I could be gone from Geneva within 24 hours. Wow.

First step — drive to my sister’s place in Richmond, Indiana. She says she’s going to take me to a county fair, and we’ll go see her horse, Buddy. After that, we start driving east.

Will post again when I can. While we’re on the road I’ll be looking for Panera’s, so I can get free wifi access along with lunch (note to big corporations like Starbucks — you want more business from me, get free wifi).

More soon….

Best free wifi in Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Still pounding the keyboard of my laptop — still trying to get my last story posted to the Unitarian Universalist Association Web site.

While I take a break from writing, here’s my vote for the best free wifi spots in downtown Fort Worth….

First place — The Human Bean, Houston Street between 8th and 9th — great coffee, fun and cheerful staff, with music ranging from reggae to alt rock to classic rock. The breakfast sandwich is a standout, for only $3. the wifi connection is a little slow at times, but basically fine.

Second place — The Flying Saucer, on 4th St. near Commerce (just down from the Barens and Noble bookstore) — with hundreds of beers available (many on tap), excellent bratwurst, a few comfy leather couches on the first floor. I have to admit that after a Bodington’s and a Guiness, I did not get out the laptop to check the wifi signal.

Third place — the lobby of the Radisson Hotel — not very attractive, but the wifi connection is fast and reliable — and you could probably sneak in here even if you weren’t staying here, and no one would notice. The lunch buffet is decent, and the wifi signal reaches all parts of the dining room.

OK, gotta get back to writing this last story. TTFN.


Day two…

Fort Worth, Texas

Another great place with free wifi Internet access — the Coffee Haus, right across the street for the Branding Iron Grill. Excellent coffee. No country music blasting, but since there’s no music at all, that’s OK.

I skipped most of yesterday morning’s presentation, even though other people said it was actually quite good. Instead, I spent an hour or so talking with Jennifer Innis. Jennifer will be the interim associate minister at the UU Society of Geneva starting in August, after I leave. We have known each other for some time, and we did a little catching up. Of course we also talked about the Geneva church — and I was able to tell Jennifer what a great church it is.

In the afternoon, I attended a couple of workshops. One workshop was on urban social justice ministries, sponsored by the Urban Disciples, an organization of Unitarian Universalist urban congregations who get together periodically to share ideas and resources. One of the presenters was Rev. Alma Faith Crawford, from the Church of the Open Door on Chicago’s South Side. Alma talked about how worship services at her church become an act of social justice in their own right. Church of the Open Door is aimed mostly at the African American gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community (GLBT). The actual worship service incorporates elements of typical black churches, so that GLBT people who have been rejected by their churches have a place to go and feel comfortable.

But while the shape of the worship service might look like a typical Black church service, the message is entirely different. And, as Alma Crawford pointed out, “The ushers might be transgender, and you might see a leather person doing the scripture reading.” To overcome class divisions, she does same-gender weddings as a part of the regular worship service — that way, there is less pressure to spend money on the wedding, and there is no class division for the people who attend the wedding. In these ways, and in others, Church of the Open Door uses worship as an act of social justice.

The second workshop I attended was an introduction to the new hymnal supplement, Singing the Journey. We got to sing nearly a dozen songs from the new hymnal. A couple of the songs were difficult, and I can’t quite imagine a congregation actually singing them. But there were some absolute gems of songs, songs that I think are going to become a central part of our Unitarian Universalist worship services. “For So the Children Come” is a song that puts to music well-known words of Sophia Fahs: “For so the children come…. Each night a child is born is a holy night, a time for singing, a time for wondering, a time for worshipping.” I predict this will become a new staple of Christmas eve services, and of child dedications.

We also got to sing a couple of great songs in Spanish, an African American spiritual called “Hush” taught by UU singer and music scholar Ysaye Maria Barnwell (of Sweet Honey in the Rock), and a song called “Blue Boat Home” with new words to the old hymn tune “Hyfrodol.”

One last song I have to mention — “Comfort Me” was written by Mimi Bornstein-Doble, and even thought the rhythm is tricky (and I guarantee you, congregations are never going to get the rhythm quite right), this song was a real standout. We have needed a contemporary song that provides comfort in hard times, and I believe Mimi’s song will be the one we start singing. Mimi, by the way, is the very talented music director at the Rocklang, Maine, Universalist church.

In the late afternoon, I went to to hear Bill Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), tell us ministers about the state of the UUA. Reading between the lines, it’s clear the UUA has little money. But generally, it sounded like we’re making some progress. For example, Sinkford is aggressively pursuing new directions in youth ministry at the UUA, hoping to provide more services directly to the congregations rather than funding expensive national events that only serve a few youth. Sinkford also came out and said that we just haven’t made much progress in racial justice in our congregations and in the wider association — it was good to hear someone actually say that in public, when we all know it to be true. There are maybe a dozen UU congregations that have really addressed racial justice, but that’s all.

Sinkford (who is African American) also made sure to mention Hispanic Unitarian Universalists — they’re out there, but they’re not being adequately acknowledged by many UUs.

I had dinner with Mellen Kennedy, one of the movers and shakers behind the Small Group Ministry Network. We talked about small group ministries, but then the conversation swung over to theology. Mellen has been feeling that there is no theological center to Unitarian Unviersalism of recent years. I admitted that might be true, but then I said Universalist theology — the strong sense that there is hope in a hopeless world, the idea that love is the most powerful force in the universe — that’s what keeps me within Unitarian Universalism. Mellen brought up forgiveness as a centgral theological concept that we need, and I think she’s right — and that would be a great new direction for Universalist theology.

So ends day two of Professional Days. Now it’s time to head off to the Convention Center, and see what today brings.


It all begins…

Forth Worth, Texas

Amtrak’s “Texas Eagle,” train number 21, arived in Fort Worth from Chicago almost on time. Almost, because somewhere in Arkansas, some idiot threw something on the tracks, and we had to wait for nearly an hour for the tracks to be cleared then checked. We made up most of the lost time, but not quite.

Yesterday evening, I was sitting in the dining car, chatting with a fellow who had grown up in Texas, gone to Chicago for a couple of years, and was moving from Chicago to return to college in Austin. It was just after the sun had gone below the horizon, we were pulling in to St. Louis, and we were just getting up to go — when we came around a curve and saw the gateway arch at the entrance to the city. A spectacular view at that hour of the day — we gazed at it in silence for a few minutes.

“That’s just about perfect,” I said to him, “coming on that arch at just this time of day.” It really was incredibly beautiful, all blue and silver and pink against the deepening blue sky, with a hint of pink at the western horizon.

“Before I went to Chicago,” he said, “I never saw any reason to go anywhere else. But then I lived in Chicago — seeing things like this — it’s having experiences like this….

Fort Worth is certainly an experience for me. A New Englander born and bred, this city feels like a foreign country to me. It’s both a Western city and, in some ways, a Southern city, with subtly different social cues that I’m not sure I understand. And I do have a hard time understanding what people say at times, just like in a foreign city.

At the same time, the influx of Unitarian Universalists has begun. I was sitting in a Starbucks, checking out their wifi connection (they wanted too much information from me, so I did not take advantage of the 24 hour free Web access) — sitting there sipping my iced coffee — when my advisor from Meadville/Lombard Theological School came up and sat down to say hi. She’s in town for interim ministry training, since she is leaving Meadville/Lombard and heading off to Ithaca to be the interim minister there.

The clerk at my hotel was looking harrassed when I checked in. He had just gotten off the phone with someone who wanted to make sure her room would only be cleaned with vinegar and water, and from what I could hear of his end of things, it was not a pleasant conversation for him (the word “entitled” comes to mind). Not surprisingly, he had been talking to someone coming to General Assembly. As he checked me in, he asked, “How many of you will there be at this conference?”

“Oh, a few thousand,” I said. He took that stoically — I’m sure every large conference has its share of pushy, entitled people. I just don’t like it when the pushy, entitled people are a part of my religious movement.

A final note to those of you who are coming to General Assembly — you can get free wifi Internet access at Billy Miner’s Saloon, on the corner of Houston and Third, about six blocks from the convention center. Which is where I’m sitting at the moment. Good cheap burgers, $1.50 draft beers, and free wifi — what more do you need from life? Although a quickie Web search reveals that Billy Miner’s got 16 demerits from the city health inspectors at their last visit (30 means things are so gross you probably don’t want to eat there) — so if you’re fastidious, you won’t like it here. Personally, I feel right at home — and the burger was pretty darned good, too.


Public hotspots (Finding wifi part II)

((So here we are in West Concord, Massachusetts — I took a break from candidating week, and Carol and I zipped up here to visit our respective families for a couple of hours — and wouldn’t you know it, suddenly we both needed our internet fix….

((We slipped into an ecological engineering office where Carol still maintains a desk and a phone for her non-profit — and managed to pick up an open wifi hotspot from a public-spirited neighbor….

((Signal strength is real low — but we’re both getting through. Thank goodness for wifi good Samaritans.))

Finding wifi and other adventures

Dartmouth, Mass. Carol and I are in New Bedford, Massachusetts — I’m here for a “candidating week” at First Unitarian of New Bedford, and Carol has a job interview or two. Some notes on our adventures…

Very windy and blustery today. After I got back from church today, Carol and I went for a walk near the harbor in South Dartmouth. I am not the most observant person in the world even at the best of times (I have been known to walk right past people I know and love). And today was so blustery, chilly, and wet that I was even less observant than usual.

But even I couldn’t miss the Red-Throated Loon swimming along the causeway crossing the harbor. We got within fifty feet of it. It was windy enough that I couldn’t hold the binoculars steady, but even then that’s the closest, best look I’ve ever gotten of a loon. The checkerboard pattern on its back was clear as could be. Which is a good reason to take up a pastime like birdwatching — it gets you out of your head and into the real world.

Even though I spotted the loon, Carol had to point three times before I could see the little green crab among the stones at the east edge of the harbor.

Later the same day….

This evening, Carol and I headed out to find a wifi connection. We tried a cafe Carol knew about in Warren, Rhode Island. We couldn’t connect — other people in the cafe could, but our computers wouldn’t, for whatever reason.

In desperation, we drove around ((must have … Internet fix … must … have)), taking random exits off I-195, looking for a likely spot. We even parked outside a Comfort Inn that advertised free highspeed access, to see if we could pick up something. No dice.

At last, we hit the jackpot — off to the right, a Panera Bread place — they have wifi! (Needless to say, Carol was the one who spotted Panera…)

So here we sit, eating dinner, checking email, and updating blogs — for us, this is a hot date.