Day 36 – Blogging


Rick, Susan and Todd

Rick, Susan and Todd

Even in a hotel I wake with the sun, ready to get a jump on the 6:00 am to 9:00 am breakfast buffet. It is nothing spectacular, but plenty of coffee and calories and I indulge in both. Susan helps with last minute transportation, including a trip back in time to a Kmart, where I replace my fraying camera “fanny pack”, a term which continues to keep the British in stitches. Susan takes some pictures, offers hugs goodbye, then heads home to be there in time for Frank Kellogg’s memorial service.

Since I have some down time, I decide to describe the process of blogging from the trail with my Droid Max smart phone and a WordPress application. The application uses a built in tiny software keyboard. Let me set the stage.

After setting up my cowboy camp (I have only used a tent 3 times on this trip) and finishing my meal and assigned chores, I pull out my Droid. I hop in my sleeping bag and prop my head up on my backpack and anything else I can find. If I lean to the side even slightly, the application switches from portrait to landscape, even though I am clearly wanting portrait. As the sun sets it gets cold fast and I wonder why I did not purchase the gloves that work with a touch screen. My warm gloved left hand holds the phone. My freezing right hand stabs the screen in traditional Columbus style typing: seek, find, and land.

The screen is very well lit. So much so that it attracts every nat, mosquito and moth within miles. The hummingbird moths are particularly startling and entertaining. Rest assured by the time the entry is drafted, more insect eyes have seen it than human eyes ever will. They also create a lot more buzz.

The Google keyboard was clearly modeled after a puppy. It is highly excitable and eager to please. If I type the letter H, it randomly suggests words that start with H. Hog? Happy? It even suggests H? as if to take credit for what I have already done. If I add the second letter, like HI it might jump in with Hike? His? Or Hiccup?

If I spell a word incorrectly, it says something that seems to mean: accidentally select this and I will permanently add this misspelled word to the dictionary. “But it is wrong,” I yell at the keyboard! “But since you have added it to the dictionary, now it will be right,” counters the keyboard. “Don’t you want it to be right master?”  “Yes, but this isn’t,” I yell at the keyboard. “Keyboard can tell master is unhappy. Keyboard feels shamed and will now go into a system folder and chew up random files.”

Now if Google keyboard had been modeled after a cat, as I type it would simply turn away, mumble that no one cares what I write, and proceed to lick itself.

Because my spelling is so atrocious, Google keyboard really struggles. Sometimes it starts guessing strings of words, because clearly what I am typing can’t possibly be a single word. For my first attempt at Tehachapi, Google suggests “teach a pie”, which I struggle to imagine making sense in any context. You can see how quickly we frustrate each other. There are even times we exchange words we later regret. At least I do. If, when reading an entry, you think there really is a better way of saying this, I probably think so too, but lost that battle with the keyboard.

Entries are stored locally, and can only be uploaded when I have data service. In the southern section this has been surprisingly common, but the next sections are much more isolated. It is likely there will be long stretches without updates. You should still be able to track my location and physical progress, but you may have to wait to see blog updates. Just rest assured, I am still out there under the stars, pecking out drivel with my frozen finger.

Tomorrow we will enjoy the end of the rain and snow, and begin to walk again.