Quality-of-Life Tip: Muffle Your Phone’s Ringer

The various phones around the house have been bugging me. As a writer, I don’t like being interrupted anyway, since writing is one of those things where it’s really hard to get going and too easy to stop. I let calls fall into voicemail a lot. But the ringers make me jump out of my skin.

So I’ve turned some ringers off and muffled others. To muffle an electronic ringer, find where the ringing noise comes from and put a piece of tape over it. End of problem. On an older phone with mechanical bells, take the cover off the phone (look for the screws on the bottom) and put a piece of tape on each bell where it’s struck by the clapper. This will give a lovely muted ringing. read more...

Are New Econoboxes Better Than Old?

I still have the car I learned to drive on — a 1975 VW Rabbit. I like it, and Karen likes it better than I do. It’s a classic economy car, one of the first modern subcompacts. Way back when, it got over 30 MPG pretty regularly.

It hasn’t run in the past couple of years, but I got it running well enough today to get it onto the grass where I could wash it and check it over.

My 1975 VW Rabbit

It has an undiagnosed problem that’s making it run ragged, which I’ll take to the mechanical geniuses at the Independent Auto Werks in Corvallis if Karen and I can’t figure it out, and it needs to have the rust fixed and a new coat of paint. And a new stereo. Other than that, it’s as good as it ever was, which was pretty good. read more...

Rural High-Speed Internet

My satellite TV signal is going south on me, so I’ve ordered a new antenna. The old one is an ancient Hughes “DirecPC” antenna, which got me thinking about rural high-speed Internet.

When I first returned to Oregon, I used dial-up. It was painfully slow and consumed a phone line. I quickly switched to DirecPC (now HughesNet), which was a huge improvement. No comparison. I got satellite TV at the same time, using the same antenna for both.

Satellite Internet works in places that have no phone service, which is useful for people who are way out yonder. This doesn’t apply to me, though. read more...