Archive forJune, 2011

First Post

I tried to enter a post from my new Droid Charge smart phone but I have a lot to learn. Oh, well… I’ve learned a little since I got it last night and within a few days, I hope to know more.

We returned John’s Sony Kin and instead ordered a LG Chocolate Touch, a simple but multi-featu

red phone.

We will wait to leave for our friends’ house Friday until John’s cell arrives. Otherwise we’ll run into conflicts with the Fourth of July and also our departure to our huge Evart festival.

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Cell phone update

In 2003, I made a trip to Florida and John (because he was concerned) gave me a (then high tech) cellphone. It was a Motorola T-730C, a nice looking “flip phone.” Back then it was “top of the line.” But many years have passed. We have used the phone with its $15.50+ monthly pay-as-you-go service all of the intervening years. We never exceeded the total monthly 200 minute allotment (but they carried over each month so no big deal). We now have a slush fund of nearly $200 in reserve funds (yet every month we had to pay another $16.)

I’m tired of an “antenna,” which no other phone has, no-texting, and a totally antiquated system.

It’s time to upgrade. I’m known by Bluehost (my website hosting company) as their most knowledgeable “Techie Geek” and since I’m a woman, that makes me even more notable.

What am I doing with an 8-year-old cell phone? Times have changed. I’m ready to get a state-of-the art cellphone.

I’m looking at a Samsung ‘Droid Charge which is a 4G phone.


Our place in Florida is already receiving 4G service (the fastest available wireless service) and Michigan is promised to have 4G by early 2012. Here in Michigan from now until we leave for Florida in September, we will have 3G. But when we arrive in Florida, at the end of September, we’ll be able to receive the 4G service.

While we’re in Florida, we will receive at 4G from very late September until late April. When we get back to Michigan at the end of April, 2012, we should be able to receive 4G in Michigan. Can’t get any better than that.

I’ll be able to receive at the fastest possible speed (4G), work on line from my cellphone, take high def photos, and all the rest that everyone else is accustomed to with cellphones. I’m planning to commit to a USB modem which will allow 4G access directly to my computer (so wherever I am I’ll have internet access via my computer). John will also have a new camera-ready phone.

What I’m proposing is service which will replace our Vonage phone (house phone), our Verizon cell (wireless) and our 24/7 Speednet internet access with two new cell phones. Totally we’re talking about having spent $1,100 annually for our past service, but the new bill will be over $1,500 annually.

We’ll have our current house phone number (989-781-0849) ring on one of our two new cell phones, we’ll have a new Florida line (813-633-xxxx or 634-xxxx), and we’ll have our MagicJack (813-398-4670) forward our “previous” Florida number to one of our new phones.

Starting with our new commitment, we’ll have two phones, unlimited digital on my cellphone, 700 minutes on the two cells, and the usb port modem which will allow my computer up to 5 mb monthly access through my computer.

Sounds great! Wednesday I’ll order it all. (If I do it before 4:00 p.m., I’ll have it by Thursday.) Yes!

I want the best! I want to be able to do it all.

The sign-up will give us a two phone subscription so John also gets a good phone too. The KIN TWO M looks like a good choice for him.

Looks super. We’re READY! I can’t educate myself any more completely than I have over the past three days. I’ve wasted dozens upon dozens of hours.

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We got a call

Caroline and Steve Cooper (Ret’d Circuit Judge Stephen Cooper) invited us to their home at White Lake, MI, next Friday for the White Lake Fireworks show. We’re looking forward to a couple of days of wonderful socializing with these good Florida friends. Although we’re staying with Stephen and Caroline, we’ll be joining Shelly and Richard Brooks for a big part of the weekend event since they are only a step away (.1 of a mile by GPS). The schedule includes a Friday night dinner at the Brooks’ and then brunch Saturday a.m. with Caroline and Steve. Can’t imagine a better weekend.

Richard & Shelly and Stephen & Caroline are super Florida friends. We’ve spent a lot of time with them at our southern home. Can’t wait to renew our friendships!

It’ll be the first time in nearly 26 years of marriage when we can just take off for the weekend. Always before we had a dog that restricted us. Willow, and before Willow, Gizmo. Now, with no pet, we can be free. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t rather have our sweet Willow (or before Willow, Gizmo), but the commitment to our dogs did tie us down. Now we should take advantage of being committed only to each other.

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Where do I start?

We returned to our Michigan home at the end of April (from our Florida place) and I immediately tackled the ODPC workshop program. Even unpacking from Florida was put on hold so I could work on the program. Every day I’d do some (while admittedly taking lots of breaks) but the past month it became a full-time job.

I thought it was finished last weekend, but Monday evening, one of the leaders cancelled leaving me with nine vacancies. I filled in the holes but the harder part was revising the program to get it to fill the pages appropriately. Tuesday I worked from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. with only about an hour break for dinner. Wednesday I proofed the changes because it was scheduled to be at the printer that afternoon. As it turned out, the printer closed early so we didn’t get it to him yesterday.

But today, we delivered the finished project. With the program in the hands of the printer, I finally have time to do something else, but what? I’m now so far behind that I’ll never catch up. The house needs a good cleaning, the trailer needs to be prepped for the festival (we leave two weeks from yesterday), and I have sewing projects and other chores that have been on hold.

I wouldn’t mind planting a few flowers and making the place pretty.

We’ll leave for the festival either Wednesday or Thursday, the 6th or 7th of July. That gives me about 13 days to really “pick up the pace.”

I think tomorrow I’ll start with our bedroom. One room at a time.

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Papers are Piling up!

Willow, our sweet little dog helped us recycle our newspapers. She’d always been trained to papers so we didn’t have to walk her. We went through quite a few multiple times a day. We subscribe to the Tampa Tribune in Florida and when in Michigan, the Saginaw News. But when the News changed to three days a week, we found we didn’t have enough to keep up with Willow’s requirements. We added a subscription to the Wall Street Journal which provided a better grade of paper, and enough so that we could change her “area” frequently.

Now that Willow’s gone, papers are piling up. John’s now accustomed to the WSJ and the Tribune and News provide us with local input. We recycle but before we re-used them for Willow which was even better. We’re astounded at how quickly we accumulate them.

There are times when we’re really tempted to get another dog. But we know we’re better off without one. Our laundry room which was always Willow’s area for papers now has extra “space.” In Florida, my “office” can revamped and we’ll be able to make it more usable. We will be free to fly to Florida, if it’s necessary. And at our age, we fear a dog could out-live us.

Admittedly Willow was difficult for John (although he never complained), but it was a constant struggle to keep her and her area clean and she only wanted John to handle her. He doesn’t want to start over, and neither do I. We’re free to come and go. It’s a different feeling. The liberation is good for us at this time.

Another topic:

When we get back down south, we want to replace our Florida vehicle. What we have there is a 1992 Toyota which was included (for free) when we bought the condo. We drive the big GMC diesel truck down because it holds the road without being buffered around by the semis which rule the highway. But when we arrive, we park it in the garage and put it in “storage” so we aren’t paying road insurance on it. We use the Toyota exclusively. I’ve been looking into the possibility of storing the truck not in the garage but instead in the Vehicle Storage area in Kings Point. That would allow us to park our car in our garage. (It’s a two-car garage, but with the truck in half and the other half filled with our golf cart and a workbench area for John, there’s no place to put a second vehicle.)

I hate getting out of the car in the rain. And because there’s a tree over the driveway, the car is always covered with bird do-do.

John has always wanted a convertible. What better opportunity than now? But the birds and weather would really mess up a vehicle parked on the drive.

The other advantage of not parking the truck in the garage is that we can consider buying a condo with a smaller garage.

Last November, we found a place. You can read about it here: buying the Princeton Greens Condo.

The next day we tried to put in an offer, but that condo had been sold, while we were making up our minds. The main reason we hesitated was the “too short” garage. But if we drive the vehicle we’re parking in the garage is a regular car, instead of our truck, we’ll have lots of room. Most of the newer garages have about a 19 foot garage. We need at least 20 feet for the truck. The length of the garage will no longer be an issue.

We’d also gain storage space in the garage. And having an “empty” driveway so guests can park there would also be a lot more welcoming. The amount it will cost us (after paying the initial “membership” in the vehicle storage club), will be about $155 per year. Not a bad price to gain a garage.

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Any Excuse

I’m anxious to get back to Florida and I’m beginning to see that John feels the same way.

Our plan is to leave Michigan on October 1st, but we found out yesterday that if we travel in September, we will be able to buy our gas at a discount. Not much, but since there’s no reason why we can’t leave a few days earlier, we may. We need to attend a meeting on Saturday, September 24th, and on Monday, the 26th and 27th, we have appointments, but leaving September 28th would work. Why not? We’d love to get down there and bask in the Florida sun.

Maybe by September we’ll feel differently, but the 28th sounds great!

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We’re dancing again

Florida is always so much fun, mostly because of our active social calendar.

Finally here in Michigan, we have found an activity 15 minutes for our house. It’s a once-a-week dance lesson followed by a dancing. Nice, friendly people.

It still lacks some of the fun of Florida because the people don’t necessarily reside close to us, and many are at different stages of life than we are. But hopefully we’ll start to feel that they are friends. It’s an enjoyable evening.

Last night was the second time we have attended. The instructor is teaching “the East Coast swing” which is a dance we’re familiar with so it’s been comfortable for us. We mess up on some of the later activities but the lessons have been working out nicely. It’s a reasonably priced activity ($10 each) and includes some munchies. (Last night we had cake, relishes, nacho chips, etc.)

Tonight we have a Subterranean Strings meeting and tomorrow we will be attending a graduation party and a wedding, so we’re busy. Feels great!

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Getting better ‘n better

Today and for the rest of the week, the weather will be glorious!!

The ODPC Funfest (the largest dulcimer event in the world)’s workshop program (my contribution as Workshop Chairman) is READY!! It’s proofed, and re-proofed. And proofed again.

I also completed a website for my son-in-law’s business: Schmidts (It was too bad that I had to postpone the work I did for him because the demands of the festival had to come first.)

Today I spoke on the phone with Richard and Shelly Brooks, VERY good Florida friends who are now looking forward to their first Evart Funfest.

Life is good.

Tomorrow John has a breathing test at the Ambulatory Care Center, followed by an appointment with his pulmonologist. He may have to have his meds adjusted. His condition isn’t as good as it was when as he was in Florida, but maybe with a tweak in his medications, he’ll get back on track. I just hope he’ll continue to amaze the experts because he’s doing so well.

(PS for those of you who have started watching this blog fairly recently, let me explain that in 2009 John was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Normally it’s a dismal diagnosis, but he’s been beating the odds.)

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What’s with the weather?

Almost as soon as we returned from Florida, we ran into strange weather. We got back to Michigan from Florida at the end of April. The temperatures started out at about 70 but almost immediately dropped down into the 40’s and 50’s for most of the month of May, so by normal standards it was considered cold/cool.

Then it “hotted up” drastically, within a day. We had several June days in the 90’s. That’s unceremoniously high for the month of June.

But now it’s dropped back to the 60’s. In one day, it dropped 40 degrees. It’s now cool and gloomy.

Ups and downs. Unlike anything we’ve seen.

Wednesday I was dressed as skimpy as I could find. Today I’m in sweat pants and a long-sleeved top.

I can’t figure nor rely on anything to do with the weather.


I’m updating this post on Sunday, the 12th of June. Today was still dern cold. I started out in shorts, switched to sweat pants, then added a long sleeved vellour button up top and later yet another layer, another top. I also hugged my laptop for warmth. It’s not supposed to be like this here in June in Michigan!!!

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Picky Picky Picky

I’m the author of the ODPC workshop program and therefore, I have to proofread a lot of text. I was explaining to my proofreader, Nancy, why I am so finicky. I explained it this way:

My first job in 1961, was that of a proof-reader at a newspaper (the Midland Daily News). Obviously that made me aware of the problems with the “language.” It was about then that I had my two children.

After that I worked as a secretary at Dow Chemical Company for about a dozen years. I worked there in the 1970’s. (That means I am “vested” and I currently receive about $60 a month from the Dow Chemical retirement program.)

I quit working completely for a couple of years while my children were teenagers (a difficult time.) After that brief hiatus when I was a “stay at home mom,” I became personal secretary for the wealthy owner of several hockey clubs including the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was a tough boss who really needed someone who knew everything.

But the job at the newspaper, at Dow, and at the hockey club, were all easier than what I encountered next… When I left the hockey club, I went to Saginaw Valley State University.

It was in the late 1970’s that I became supervisor of faculty secretaries for Saginaw Valley State University. Obviously when you are preparing papers for instructors, including the English Department, you need to be accurate.

That’s when I discovered that I could spot problems in punctuation, spelling, and language usage. I found errors when papers were handed to me by the instructors in the various departments. (Those departments included English, accounting, history, etc.) I felt there were often obvious problems.

Finally I went to the head of the English Department (Dr. Basil Clark). I told him I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t my job to tell a PhD that he’d used incorrect English, but I could tell that many of the instructors were wrong in their grammar or sentence structure. It was a problem of tact. I didn’t know how to handle it.

Dr. Clark and I came to an understanding. He had faith that I knew more about proper English usage than all but one of his instructors. After our conversation, Dr. Clark let it be known that I had his permission to change any papers that came to me with, what I determined to be, errors. (He said I knew more than his staff.)

There was only the one exception. That one exception was a Rhodes scholar, Dr. Tiner, who wanted everything the way he wrote it without exception. (And I certainly respected him enough to leave his writings and papers alone.)

For the couple of years while I worked at Saginaw Valley State University, my instruction was to proof all papers which came across my desk. I was told the reputation of the university depended on me. I needed to be sure that there were no (English language) mistakes.

It stuck with me.

A couple of years later I was sought out by St. Mary’s Medical Center to work in their Administration Department. I felt that was one of the strong reasons they had recruited me. At St. Mary’s, my first job was at an administrative secretarial level but, by the time I retired (23 years later, in 2004), my job was in administration at the hospital working as the person who wrote reports which went to the state for approval of services and equipment. I had become the expert person who worked for them and through-out the region and wrote vital reports to obtain operating rooms, lithotripters, MRIs, and other major pieces of equipment. I was “rented out” for my skills.

During my last year at the hospital, when a Vice President from St. Mary’s went to another position (Tawas City) as president of that hospital, I took over a lot of his job.

All of it took an excellence in writing skills.

But surprisingly, it was that old job at Saginaw Valley which had impressed on me the need for perfect English more than any other ability.

I can’t change now. I’m too old.

PS: Part of the problem is that rules continuously change. I just “proofed” this posting and found that the word “English” is now almost always capitalized. Previously it was only used with a capital when it pertained to “England.” Therefore the broad term, english language, would have been ok in lower case, but now it’s “English language” with a capital on the “E.” You can’t use yesterday’s rules and be correct.

And I never use spell checkers. They don’t understand English usage.

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Freezer Space

Donna Markland (of Bill and Donna, our Florida country dance instructors) called me today. It was nice to “catch up” on everything they’ve been doing. They’re super friendly folks who really help create a fun atmosphere.

Before the call ended, Donna asked if I knew anything about the dead lady in the freezer in Kings Point. It was intriguing question but I didn’t know anything about a freezer and a body.

She went on to tell me the story.

It seems that an 86-year-old resident of Kiings Point (Allan Dunn) committed suicide (gunshot) in August 2010. He had no heirs who would step up to claim his body. His children wanted nothing to do with him. Instead a waitress who had befriended him was assigned to manage his assets. After probate, she was given the keys to the condo at 201 Kings Boulevard, and she and her sister started cleaning out the place in preparation for sale.

When she opened the door of a freezer on the back porch, imagine her shock. There was a woman’s body.

Allan Dunn had cared for his wife during the last years of her life. She apparently died of natural causes but he stored her body in the freezer for 11 YEARS!!

You can read “the rest of the story” in the this article from the “Tampa Bay Tribune.”

How tragic.

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All Auto-Payments Fixed — Program Complete!!

Last night the new credit cards finally arrived at about 5:30. It took all last evening and about an hour today to notify the 18 companies where auto-payments are credited to our account. I’ll probably think of more as time goes by, but I got through the list I’d prepared.

I also finished the workshop program and now it’s in the hands of my proof reader. (Still could have changes, but it looks pretty dern good!)

This afternoon John and I are going shopping. Maybe we can find a way to celebrate the completion of my projects. John needs to feel he has his “wife” back.

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The end is in sight

Working on the program of workshops for the dulcimer festival always takes months but I’ve nearly finished. Within the next couple of days, it should be “in the bag.”

What can we do to celebrate?

John’s been patient, but he’s tired of me being tied up on my computer.

I think we both deserve a holiday.

Of course, it’s not done yet, and this weekend’s credit card problem still isn’t solved because the replacement card didn’t come today as I’d been told.

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Not a great day (but it could have been lots worse!!)

Today started out promising. Lovely weather.

We decided to buy a pedal boat. It would be great exercise and would get us out on the lake. Menards had them on sale (great price) but they’d sold out and rainchecks weren’t available. We were disappointed.

On the way home we made a couple additional stops. I was surprised when my credit card was rejected at Meijers (but figured it was a glitch in their equipment.) At Home Depot, John’s card was also rejected. Something was up!

When I got home I immediately called Chase/Visa. They said they’d spotted a problem with our account and realized John’s card had been compromised. To make sure there were no further attempts, they’d put a hold on both our cards. (They’re linked through my business.)

It was impressive to find that they’d caught the attempts before they cleared and stopped them before there were more. There were a lot of them ranging from only about $10 to nearly $300. Maybe there were even higher amounts but those were the ones mentioned. Three of the transactions showed up as pending on my on-line account and weren’t places we’d ever heard of. The customer service rep (who sounded like “Peggy” from the credit card commercial) said he would cancel all charges, and cancel John’s card, which was the only one that had been compromised.

John uses his card primarily for gas and food purchases. No big deal.

I was assured my card would not be affected.

After dinner, I went to the Chase/Visa website to check the names of the businesses and to look over our previous statements but everything was cancelled. I called Chase/Visa and found they’d made a mistake. Instead of cancelling John’s account, MY account had been voided. Our MAIN HOUSEHOLD ACCOUNT was gone. His was still active! They immediately cancelled his. There was no way to “restore” mine so two cards are being issued with new account numbers.

I did find the reason the usage had triggered concern was that John’s card was being used in New York Friday and the items purchased didn’t fit our profile. Obviously that wasn’t us. Glad Visa caught it, but wish they hadn’t cancelled my card.

That card is the one we use for all of our on-going monthly payments. Everything! Our Upper Peninsula light bill, our cable in Florida, our cellphone, my Paypal account, Wall Street Journal, newspapers, phone service, domain host, motel reservations, domain names, and several more accounts are paid from that card. There are at least 15 accounts that I’ll have to revise and/or notify when we get our new cards. Since the old card will be rejected, payments won’t be made with the old card. One due date is the 5th. I have to work fast and I hope I remember all of them. The cards should arrive Monday.

We have great credit. I never have to send checks, nor do I worry about anything being paid on time. Everything is auto-paid with my credit card and the credit card is paid off each month in full from a bank account. It was easy, until this happened!!!

I’m bummed!!!

Note: Knowing that I’m an internet techie, a lot of folks are going to think John’s problem was somehow caused by internet use. But John’s credit card numbers were never given out on line. He used his exclusively for purchases from gas stations, stores like Meijer, Home Depot, Walmart , Menards, restaurants, his dentist and grocery stores. And he never lost or mislaid his card. We can only think that a store that John purchased from, had their transactions hacked.

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Into the Warm Zone

Michigan finally feels like Florida. (And that’s a compliment.) It’s warm and balmy. For once I can’t find any complaints with the weather. It’s absolutely glorious. Today it was in the mid 70’s and sunny without any noticeable wind.

I’m perfectly content to stay here, as it is now, until October 1st when we’ll pack it all up and head south.

Today I spent several hours finding motels which fit into our itinerary for our return trip to Florida. We plan to leave Michigan on October 1st and will arrive in Florida on Oct. 3rd.

The whole landscape has changed since Willow died. No longer is it vital to find a place which accepts pets at no additional fee. Our tiny dog was a very quiet, non disturbing pet, that no one ever even knew was on site. The only choice we felt we had was a stay at the closest Red Roof Inn. Now the horizon is wider.

With Willow gone, we can consider those places which would have charged large pet fees or just said “no.”

Almost always we stayed in London, KY, at a lovely (very high end) Red Roof Inn, and then in “Valdosta, GA.”

We’re still planning on London, but in Valdosta, the Red Roof has closed (and wasn’t very impressive when it was open).

For our October 2-3 stay, I finally found that Tifton, GA, is a little further north and would probably fit the schedule even better so I went searching. I locked into a Microtel in Tifton, GA.

John definitely prefers a continental breakfast over most features and the Microtel offered one. So we took the bait and we now have reservations.

I spent from 8:15 a.m. until after 11:20 a.m. today, not counting the more than hour I wasted last night. That’s nearly FOUR HOURS OF SEARCHING and scheduling!! Certainly the few dollars I saved are worth a lot more than I invested.

It’s a problem which I haven’t totally solved. The internet has all the info but it takes so much time to scope it all out.

But at least for October 2011, I have us reserved at the Red Roof, Oct. 1-2 in London, KY, and in Tifton, GA, Oct 2-3 at the Microtel.

If we find a great “stay,” we’ll be repeat customers for all the years ahead.

We’ve stayed in London at the Red Roof countless times. It’s still our favorite stop and definitely best in that area. We have nice rooms and pleasant hosts. The restaurants in the area are good, the continental breakfast grand, and we feel it more than fits our needs.

The Microtel Motel in Tifton will be a “first time” stay. We’ll let you know what we discover.

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