Making a very mobile life work

Lately, it’s been more like Momneverathome.

I got back from the Convio Summit last Saturday at 12:30 am. Eric left for Melbourne, Australia at 12 noon that day. He’ll be back on November 3rd, then he leaves for Boston on November 5th. Back on November 9th. He leaves for Zurich on November 10th, returning on November 21st. Then Boston again December 3rd-7th.

It sucks.

Not anything he can control. Unemployment sucks more, so we deal.

I have such admiration for single parents who don’t have an end date in sight. I don’t know how they do it.

As I may have mentioned before, Laini is going to a private school that is 40 miles away and we don’t have transportation. So with Eric on the road, I set out with her every morning at 8 am for the hour-long drive to school. Instead of making the long trip back after dropping her off, I bring my MacBook Pro with me and stay in the area near her school to work. I head home with her at 2:45 pm, pick up Emily at an afterschool program and do the afternoon run around with the kids including homework. I’m averaging around 3-3.5 hours a day behind the wheel.

There are a lot of places with wifi within 10 miles of the school. We signed up for a T-Mobile Hotspot account so we have a few Starbucks and Borders Books to choose from. There’s also a Panera Bread, McDonalds and even a Dunkin’ Donuts offering wifi at various fees (or free). Unfortunately, after a few weeks of doing this I’m going out of my mind. Some folks love being around strangers and find themselves more productive with the buzz of conversation and latte machines. I am not one of those people. I can do semi-mindless tasks in these places. And surfing is certainly comfortable enough. But blogging? Editing? Making/receiving important phone calls? Forget it. It’s just not working. Literally.

I need to be able to find a quiet place to work in the area without worrying about whether wifi is available. So this afternoon I stopped by a Sprint store and picked up a Sierra Wireless AirCard 595U. It’s a USB EVDO modem, $79 after discounts and rebates. Service is $60/month. Sprint coverage is excellent around here and it works very well. I still have to find that quiet corner with a power outlet, but at least now I don’t have to worry about it being a hotspot, too. My Mom suggested looking at fancy department store bathrooms. They usually have “ladies’ lounges” where women can hang out for hours. If there’s a power outlet, it may be worth a shot.

I’m giving Jott a try. I’m coming up with a lot of ideas and I’m remembering tasks while I’m driving, with no possible way of writing them down. With Jott, you call a number and record your thought, and the service translates it to text and emails it to you (or to someone else if they’re in your Jott contact list). Of course, I have a Bluetooth headset for my Blackberry which has an excellent voice dialing application. “Call Jott” and my hands never leave the steering wheel (except to push the button on my ear) and my eyes never leave the road. Safety first.

I use Toodledo as my task manager. Toodledo supports email->task using a special email address. I configured Jott with my Toodledo email address, and now I can call in tasks and they appear in my task list. Or, if you Jott to “Reminder” and give the date/time, Jott will nag you at the appropriate time. I wonder if there’s a way to email a calendar entry to Google Calendar or otherwise Jott it in? I’ll have to look in to that.

It still sucks, but I’m doing everything I can to make this ridiculous situation bearable.


2 responses to “Making a very mobile life work”

  1. Rick, that’s what I thought too…until I tried it this morning.

    I went to 2 different libraries within 20 miles of the school. Since I’m not a county resident, I can’t get a library card, and without a library card you can’t use their wireless. Fine, I take out my Sprint EVDO card, and the signal strength was barely dial-up. And it wasn’t that much quieter than the Panera I’m in now since there were a bunch of elementary school class trips moving through.