Modern Technology: phones talking to cars

New Car

I bought a new car last spring. My old car was a 2004 Honda
Civic, which had a radio and a cd player, but no auxiliary jack or
bluetooth. So when my mechanic told me the front end was rotting
out, I thought, “Goodie, I can buy a car that will talk to my

[old car]

So in May I bought a bright yellow 2019 Honda Fit. It packs
easily with lots of instruments and suitcases, and the bright
yellow makes it easy to find in a parking lot even before you get
close enough to see the bumper stickers.

[new car]

Connecting the phone

The sales person showed me how to make a bluetooth connection
between the phone and the car, but what the car really wants is to
have a USB cable connection to the phone, so Android Auto can put
maps of where you are and where you want to go on the screen, and
play the music or audiobooks from the phone through the car

Unfortunately, this connection was unreliable. Part of the
sales pitch was that if you were in an accident serious enough to
deploy the airbag, the car would call 911 for you. So I kept
muttering, “If it disconnects every time I go around a corner,
what would you bet that it would be still connected after a
serious accident?” I also muttered, “I bought an expensive car
and an expensive phone (Pixel 2XL) and they can’t talk to each other.”

Googling the problem, I found that it wasn’t at all uncommon.
Google’s response was to blame the cable, or dirt in the USB port
on either the phone or the car. I cleaned both ports with a
toothpick, and bought a USB cable directly from google (for $20).

Completely disconnected

The next thing that happened was that the problem stopped being
intermittent; the car and the phone stopped ever connecting at
all. Sometimes plugging in the cable would cause the phone to

It was past time to take the car to the dealer for the first
oil change. It turns out that it isn’t the repair people who deal
with phone connection; you go talk to your sales associate. He
was quite calm and pushed some buttons in the phone settings
(faster than I could follow) and said that the phone had gotten
into “safe mode”. This causes the phone to go dead when you’re
driving, and I’m sure I never told it to do that, but Mike said it
sometimes happened with a software update. There had in fact been
a software update about the time I was digging pocket lint out of
the USB port. But Mike was never able to find the “safe mode”
option so that I could do what he did the next time. And he
wasn’t interested in my complaints about how intermittent the
connection had been when it was working.

So the phone disconnected three times in the two miles between
the dealership and my house.

With the phone disconnected, I can play the radio in the car,
but it doesn’t have either an auxiliary jack or a cd player, so I
actually have fewer audio options than I did with the 2000 Civic.


So I googled harder, and found people who had managed to work
around the problem. One person said it never happened in Airplane
mode, and another person said it happened when Google drive was
updating in the background. There are several ways to work
around this, but what I’m doing now is making sure I have “data
saver” mode set when I’m driving. This means that google drive
will not update if it isn’t in the foreground.

Unfortunately, I have to turn off the data saver mode if I want
to use the phone as a hot spot. Which I wouldn’t normally do very
often, but between how often Comcast unprovisions my cable modem,
and how often Eversource has been turning off my electricity, I’ve
been using the hotspot a lot more than I wish I were. But the
data saver setting is close to the hotspot setting in the menu, so
as long as you remember that you have to set it, it isn’t much


One moral of the story is that when you solve a problem like
this, you should always post the solution to the internet (as I’m
doing here), since it’s likely nobody else will tell you.

Another is that maybe there should be better support for
automobile telephony? I’m sure Honda gives their sales associates
some training in how to fix problems, but I doubt that being a
gifted tech support specialist is high on their hiring priority
list for sales people.

Trombone progress

I notice my playing
alto sackbut
is one of the top posts on I also notice that I
promised to update you on my progress.


I managed to sell the cliffbut to an instrument collector. I
asked Catherine
, who was the sackbut faculty member at the Amherst Workshop about the
cheap (under $1000) sackbuts on the market, and she thought Nartiss
looked better than the Wessex Tubas (which seems to have fallen
off their website) one. So I bought that.

[alto sackbut]

I thought I should have a better high range (given how high I
can play on other instruments) than I was getting on the
mouthpiece than I could get on the one that came with the sackbut,
so I also ordered an Eggar
mouthpiece, which looks quite similar to the Nartiss one, but does
give me a better high range.

[alto sackbut mouthpiece]

Playing opportunities

Of course, I sometimes play on Tuesdays,
and the Boston Recorder
loud band has people who want to play the high parts
on shawms, so I sometimes play it there. (Otherwise, they’d
rather I played cornetto on the high parts).

But on the whole, the early music desire for everyone to play
one on a part means that for learning to play an instrument,
you’re better off joining a community band with people who already
know how to play. Then you can sit next to them and watch what
they do.

So the last two or three summers, I’ve played alto trombone on
the first trombone part in the Wakefield
Summer Band

I started out playing on my red plastic pbone, but I decided
that even on my level, the slide was holding me back, so I got
ebay to sell me the frankenbone, which is a chinese copy of a
famous German alto sackbut, with a lead pipe from the actual
German company. Some of these Chinese copies aren’t anything you
want in your house, but this one seems like a pretty good


I got bored with practicing trombone exercises even faster than
I have on some other instruments. I’m currently playing a lot of
Country Dance
tunes. I’m also playing a lot of duets from
facsimile, and I usually read the ones in alto (C3) clef on the
alto sackbut.

I notice people try to think of other instrumentations when I
bring out the sackbut, but it’s definitely getting better.

My goal is to be playing trombone respectably by the time my arthritic
fingers get bad enough that I can’t play recorder, serpent or cornetto.

Sourdough rye chocolate cake

My new chocolate cake recipe is from my new favorite baking
book, 100% °F
Rye by Shannon Stonger

I believe there are actually health benefits to cooking with
sourdough and whole grain flour and maybe even rye versus
wheat. But the reason I’ve adopted it over my previous bread
machine sprouted wheat chocolate cake is that it’s so moist.

The picture is of the version I baked for the twentieth
anniversary of the West
Gallery Quire
. People said it was good, and most of it disappeared.



  • 2 cups rye flour
  • ½ cup starter
  • 1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 cup honey, softened to a pourable consistency
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup melted butter or coconut oil (I have coconut oil
    somewhere, but I can’t find it, so I used almond oil, which I
    keep on hand for oiling musical instruments.)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt


Whisk together the flour, starter, milk, and honey in a medium bowl until just combined. Cover tightly and set aside to ferment for 6-12 hours, or longer if desired.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a 9×13” pan (I
have one somewhere, but I can only find a 10×14″ pan, so it bakes
a little faster) by buttering and flouring it. Add the eggs,
melted butter, and vanilla to the fermented dough and just begin
to stir it together. Sprinkle over the cocoa, baking powder,
baking soda, and salt and finish mixing until all ingredients are

Scrape batter into prepared pan and place pan into the preheated
oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted
into the center of the cake comes out clean. (I use an
instant-read thermometer, and it’s done when the probe comes out
clean, but just to check I make sure it’s in the 190-200°F

Allow to cool before slicing and serving.


I’ve only baked it twice. The first time I baked it plain, and
I loved the texture but thought the flavor was a little boring.
For the pictured version, I made a chocolate ganache frosting, and
used almond slivers and dried apricot pieces for decoration. Next
time I’ll try doing what I did with the bread machine cake, which
was add chocolate chips and dried cherries.

First Crocus of Spring

I know lots of people already have lots of more impressive flowers than this. But these bulbs were only planted last fall, and it’s been a difficult March.

My downstairs neighbor and I cleared the weeds out of this part of the front yard last October, and I ordered bulbs. They arrived a couple of days after I broke the ankle, so she and her husband put them in.

I ordered a cheap assortment, because I wasn’t sure whether they would all get eaten by squirrels or rabbits, but they seem to have come up pretty well. There are other buds, so there will be better pictures in a couple of weeks.

Two things hospitals do that you would think they wouldn’t

[broken ankle]

I’m not saying there isn’t lots of evidence that many or even
most of the staffs of the hospitals I’ve been in are
intelligent, caring, dedicated people. But these seem like
issues that someone like that would be able to fix.

My most recent stay was overnight after surgery for a broken
ankle, and my previous stays have not involved a lot of bedpans,
but they have all involved surgeons who think they’ve told me

Surgeon’s and communication

This one I’m sure is common, because it’s happened every time
I’ve had general anaesthesia. Apparently, when you’re coming out
of it, there’s a period when you look awake, but you don’t really
remember anything that happens then.

This is when surgeons all come over and tell you how the
surgery went.

The nurses all know about this problem, so if you think of it,
and can ask the nurse who was there when the surgeon told you
stuff, she can tell you what you want to know.

Unfortunately, this most recent time, I didn’t think to ask
until I was in my room, and the nurse there said that she thought
it had gone well, but I’d have to ask the doctor for more


I had to use one all night, because they wouldn’t let me get up
until I was cleared by Physical Therapy.

The bedpans are the right size for someone with a normal
bladder who is evacuating some of what they have drunk. They are
way too small for someone who’s getting iv fluids.