Just prior to Prime Day, I upgraded both my Echoes. I make no apologies.

This is the 4th Generation Echo, about the size of a cantaloupe. The Echo Dot upstairs is about the size of a softball.

This is not a sponsored or compensated post and contains no affiliate links.

It was in the fall of 2018 that I took the smart speaker plunge.

I know some people are made queasy by smart speakers. But even before 2018, I did enough with Amazon, Google and Facebook that they probably already knew more than they wanted to know about me. I figured a smart speaker could not make things much worse.

I started with an Amazon Echo, which was then in what Amazon classifies as its 2nd Generation model. I put it in my living room. I was…


In which nature, and my fridge, abhor a vaccum

By uıɐɾ ʞ ʇɐɯɐs — https://www.flickr.com/photos/tamasrepus/38680174120/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=90141514

Today, and tomorrow, I am a delegate to the last-ever Tennessee Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Normally, the conference is held in person, but for Obvious Reasons, it was held online last year and is being held online again this year — the only two years I’ve been a voting delegate.

I have been to in-person conferences in the past; in fact, I was the first lay speaker ever to preach a mini-sermon at one past annual conference. But what I attended in the past were the worship-heavy evening sessions, not the business sessions held during the day.


Apparently not — but it may depend on the phlebotomist

AfroBrazilian, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

If I were choosing a doctor today, there are several fine choices in Shelbyville with whom I’d be completely comfortable— including my Dad’s doctor.

But when my family first moved to Bedford County in the early 1970s, my parents had a bad experience with a local doctor and started taking my siblings and me to a pediatrician in Murfreesboro. When I needed a physical for college, I went to that pediatrician’s father, who was a general practitioner and the founder of the clinic where they both worked. A few years after college, the first time I needed a doctor as…


Kelley’s Chapel United Methodist Church, May 30, 2021

John 3:1–17 (CEB)

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could do these miraculous signs that you do unless God is with him.”

Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it’s not possible to see God’s kingdom.”

Nicodemus asked, “How is it possible for an adult to be born? It’s impossible to enter the mother’s womb for a second time and be born, isn’t it?”

Jesus answered, “I assure…


I’m headed back to Lake Junaluska. Do not ask me to get in an innertube.

In 2016 — although I refuse to believe it was that long ago — the youth from First United Methodist Church in Shelbyville, Tenn., traveled to Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, and I was one of the chaperones.

Lake Junaluska, at North Carolina’s western perimeter, is a community centered around several United Methodist facilities. There is a retreat and conference center, a World Methodist Museum, and a number of privately-owned homes, B&Bs, and what have you. A number of United Methodist clergy retire to Lake Junaluska. There is, of course, a lake, and other recreational facilities.

In 2016, Alden Procopio (now…


Yes, someone still makes Polaroid instant cameras, and the film that goes in them.

Polaroid.com website photo

A couple of years ago, I bought a new Polaroid OneStep+ camera, and wrote about it. I haven’t used it as much as I had hoped — I have gotten spoiled by the excellent cameras in my last three Google Pixel phones, and the Polaroid pictures, to me, look a little muddy. But it’s still fun to take an instant photo, and I ordered a new pack of film yesterday, for the first time in probably a year. I think when it arrives, I’ll use it on a sunny day to take some photos of the square and courthouse.

If…


Eight months ago, I feared I’d lose interest in fountain pens. I haven’t.

Eight months ago, in this space, I wrote about my budding interest in fountain pens. But I noted that I have a history of being a dilettante and dabbler, and I wondered if my interest in fountain pens would fall by the wayside.

It hasn’t yet.

As I admitted in the earlier post, my first fountain pen was bought for reasons of vanity. I’d self-published “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” and because of the pandemic I couldn’t have a book signing, but I had already signed one or two individual copies for friends, and I…


Suspension of disbelief is important to some genre fiction, but it’s got its limits.

Catherine Schell, Barbara Bain, Martin Landau

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I noticed “Space: 1999” in the listings — it was playing on Shout! Factory TV — and watched a few minutes of it.

“Space: 1999” was a British-made science fiction program which came out in 1975. It was syndicated in the U.S.A., but if I recall correctly, none of the Nashville stations carried it. I remember reading about it in magazines as a 13-year-old but being unable to watch it. …


Normandy United Methodist Church, April 11, 2021

John 20:19–31 (CEB)

It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. …


Remembering the days of long distance past

I was looking at the back of a Listerine bottle this morning and I noticed two telephone numbers for customer service:

The first number is an 888 number, indicated as “toll-free,” and the second is a traditional telephone number in the 215 area code, which users are invited to call collect.

It occurred to me that many younger users of the product may not have any idea what a “toll-free” number is, or a collect call.

Today, of course, many people make the majority of their telephone calls on a mobile device, and most mobile providers that I’m aware of…

John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at http://www.lakeneuron.com/dislike

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store