Freedom(Pop) isn’t (completely) Free

Oh how I hate blister packs
Oh how I hate blister packs

When I initially heard of FreedomPop I simply passed it by.  It seemed to good to be true.  “Free 4G Internet!!”  Yea, right.  I’ve gotten emails by the truckload offering me the same thing.  They sent me a few reminders each week, most recently offering to include a extra free 1GB if I signed up.  I finally decided to bite the bullet, as I was sick and tired of dealing with locked down airport WiFi when traveling.

During initial signup you can choose between a few different 4G devices.  A USB stick, a “puck” that allows multiple devices to connect, or an iPod touch case.  Each has a different deposit requirement, and I went with the USB as it was the cheapest.  It came in at $50, plus tax, plus ~$10 shipping.  They also automatically enroll you into a “to-up” program, where you get an extra 100MB added to your account for a few bucks once you get within 100MB of your monthly allotment.  I turned that feature off, and then was informed that by turning auto top-up I’m actually limited to 400MB a month, instead of the advertised 500, because the system won’t let me within 100MB of my allotment without top-up.

Yellow/amber indicates searching for 4G
Yellow/amber indicates searching for 4G
Green means connected!

Despite those annoyances, it seems to work just as easily as they say.  I hooked it up and ran a speedtest inside my apartment.

Not bad for free
Not bad for free

I haven’t been able to give it a great testing yet, and I’m going to be saving that sweet 400MB for when I’m outside my apartment, but I’ll be reporting further findings as I go.

Power Outage!

Yesterday around 4pm a power transformer outside of my apartment building blew up. With how many things are electronic in my apartment, it was pretty easy to realize right away. The lights were actually off to begin with since it was still light out, but the thermostat , TV, computer monitors, and server all turned off in an instant.

Luck was on my side though, as earlier in the day I had gone with Luke to Costco and bought a 6 pack of battery-powered LED lights for underneath the kitchen cabinets. For dinner Erin and I had to go out, as the stove is electric. Olive Garden made a tasty choice, and following that Josh and Jes were kind enough to invite us over for some heat and a round of Ticket To Ride. It turned out to be an awesome game and we all had a great time.

Today Erin and I visited the Science Museum of Minnesota. The Body Worlds exhibit was there, and I had never seen it before. It was a ton of fun, and I’m always reminded of how awesome science is each time I visit a museum like that. Hoping to be extra nerdy, we signed up to be members at the museum. Not only did that give us discounts on our tickets, but it also allows us to be a party of the ASTC Passport Program. With that we gain free entry to over 290 museums around the world!! I’m pretty pumped about that, and I hope to stop at a lot more museums over the next twelve months.

 

Pterodactyl in the entryway
Pterodactyl in the entryway
Two headed turtle
Two headed snapping turtle
Giant crocodile
Giant crocodile
Sand from around the world
Sand from around the world
Sea turtle
Sea turtle
Triceratops
Triceratops
Erin measuring air drag on different shaped cars
Erin measuring air drag on different shaped cars
Giant ancient bird and armadillo
Giant ancient bird and armadillo
Lune!
Loon!
Panorama of Mississippi River
Panorama of the Mississippi River

We were asked to not take pictures of the Body Worlds exhibit, and aiming to be respectful of that I was unable to get pictures of them. I’d highly recommend it to anyone though, as it was extremely interesting and a great learning experience!

Surprise Surprise

Today marks my 25th year alive on this planet.  I’ve successfully not died for a quarter of a century.  Normally I wouldn’t think much of it, but with my grandfather passing away at 76 years old, it puts the perception in my mind that a third of my life is over.

While that comes across as quite a negative statement, I couldn’t be more happy with my life so far.  I have amazing family and friends, a fantastic job, and have been on plenty of adventures.  That said, I hope none of that stops and continues on for the rest of my life.  Up until now the only thing I’ve never had is a surprise birthday party.  They’ve always seemed like fun, and I’ve been jealous of everyone who gets thrown one.

Oink Oink

This weekend that all changed.  As I got off work on Friday, I realized I had no plans for my birthday.  I made arrangements to get together with a few friends at the Muddy Pig.  Everything was fine and dandy until I got home and Erin said she was slightly upset with me.  She said it with a smirk, and I was slightly confused.  She then informed me that she had planned a surprise birthday party for me, inviting several of my friends, at the same place and time that I had started making plans for.  While I was slightly upset with myself for ruining my own birthday plans, it was cool that Erin knew what I liked well enough to plan the same thing that I did.

The plans were made for Saturday night, and Friday night we had a quiet night with a little home made parmesan chicken.  Saturday morning Erin made some homemade salsa to go with fresh corn chips.

Delicious!
Delicious!

After giving it a thorough taste-testing, I helped our neighbor/friend Matt pick up a new couch.  When we got back, Erin coerced me out of the apartment for a long enough time, and then texted me saying she needed help with a large package that was delivered.  I walked downstairs and was greeted by the smiling faces of my best friends from Chicago, Brad, Dan, Catherine, and Carly.  That part of my birthday remained a total surprise, and it’s more than I could have asked for.

Don't forget to mark your beer!
Don’t forget to mark your beer!

We spent the night drinking, sharing stories, eating good food, laughing and smiling.  It was my first (un)surprise birthday party and it was perfect.  Today was spent recovering and relaxing, and feels like the perfect end to an awesome weekend.  I couldn’t have asked for anything more, and I owe the great time to Erin and my wonderful friends. :)