Archive forSeptember, 2013

New Cellphone

Yesterday I spent the day configuring and loading apps into my new-to-me Samsung Droid Charge smartphone. (My previous 2 1/2 year old, identical phone died – i.e. won’t shut off with a battery in place and won’t recharge.) I bought the replacement re-conditioned unit from a distributor through eBay and so far I’m really pleased. It looks (and acts) new. I haven’t found anything that newer cellphone technology offers over the abilities of my Droid. The camera is great, the sound fine, picture crystal clear, the ability of all the apps is basically the same no matter what smartphone is running them.

I dreaded the set-up, thinking it would take forever, but I use Lookout, which is a backup/restore service, so reloading the stuff (including my phone contacts and photos) was easy.

I started about 1:00 and worked for a couple hours then took a shopping/dinner break from about 3:30 until 7:00. I had everything perfectly installed by about 8:00. Not bad. It fact it was fun, and I was disappointed that it didn’t take longer. I enjoy this kind of work.

Not only does my “new” cellphone operate like a new one but also many of the apps I loaded have upgraded features. There were some on my old Droid which I rarely if ever used, so I didn’t bother with them. (They can always be added later.) It’s purring.

I’m happy.

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One of “Those” Weeks

This week has had some bumps.

Three examples:

About a week ago I realized I had lost/mislaid the keychain remote control for our home security system. At first I was sure it would turn up, but it hasn’t. This little control has stayed in the outside zippered pocket on my purse since we installed the system back in June. It’s always been with me. When we leave our home, if I haven’t pressed the “away” button on the keypad in the living room, I can activate the system from the remote with the blue button as we’re pulling out. When we return, I can hit the gray “off” button, or hurry in and put the 4 digit code in the keypad before the alarm goes off. The remote definitely makes it easier.

The end opposite the “keychain” loop has a cap that covers a usb flash drive. That flash port gets plugged into the computer to set up everything and when the settings have been saved, you take it to the base station (the brains of the system) where the remote is plugged in and the information transferred and stored. The base unit has a cellular transmitter which stays in touch with the 24/7 monitor desk.

Since I lost that little unit it didn’t mean that we couldn’t activate the system, nor turn it off. Afterall activating and cancelling are both doable through the wall keypad, but any changes must be done with the flash drive then transferred to the base station with the remote.

We’ll want to review everything and test it out before we leave for Florida. I knew I need to have that keychain remote so we can thoroughly check everything and make sure it’s all in working order.

Also, having lost the remote, I feared that, if the person finding it knew whom it belonged to, they could cancel the security at any time and enter our home without triggering the alarm. After investing in such a sophisticated system, I sure didn’t want to risk someone being able to enter. We’ll soon be leaving for seven months and with a lost remote, it would be like an unknown someone having the keys to our house.

I called to order a replacement and was pleased that I could deactivate the lost remote so no one can use it for access. (If we do locate it, we can re-program it so we’ll each have our own keychain remote.)

The new remote arrived today. It was a snap to program it into the system. And, to be sure I’ll never lose it again, I found a keychain quick release clasp to fasten inside the purse I usually carry. With the remote anchored to the inside of my purse, I can easily locate it, and should never lose it again.

Problem #1 resolved. But it did cause me some anxiety and over $30!!


Problem #2. My three-year-old smartphone has terminal problems. It’s actually still functioning, but it won’t charge and it comes on unexpectedly. Something burned up inside the charging port. I can remove the battery and, using a free-standing charger, I can charge it, but the batteries are old, so they’re being switched out constantly. I had purchased two flash chargers, and they’re useless because they must be plugged into the phone. I also can’t use my docking bay. I can’t do things with my phone that drains the battery fast, because I’m switching out the batteries constantly (no plugging it in).

The phone had been over-heating frequently so I know it’s time for a replacement. With lots of chargers, a docking bay, cases, batteries, etc. I decided that the cheapest way to go would be to get the same model, a Samsung Droid Charge. I have unlimited voice and data so the same model will allow me to continue that plan.

And there’s another reason I want that particular phone: I have an app that allows me to use the phone as a hot-spot. I don’t want to lose that ability. I can connect and the bytes I use don’t count. (Last month I used 13GB in additon to another 4.5GB through my wireless usb modem.)

So yesterday, I bought a rebuilt cellphone with a dealer warranty on eBay for under $67. (According the the description, it’s in “like-new” condition.) I should have it by tomorrow or Saturday. I’m anxious to get it set up. I fear it’ll be a challenge to transfer everything, including my contacts, apps, etc. I use a program called Lookout for back up. It uses “the cloud” and is supposed to store your phone contents so you can install them on a new phone with ease. Never having tried a complete restore before, it’ll be a good test.

I figure that by only spending $67, I can still upgrade, if I decide that’s best. I won’t have that much invested.


Problem #3. Yesterday I didn’t feel well. I’m still half a bubble off. Didn’t do anything all day and today I’m still dragging. Glad we had nothing planned.

So that’s been my week

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Getting Closer!

I'm getting excited. Our October calendar for our time in Florida is filling up. In just the 11 October days after we arrive, we have a whole slew of stuff to do: a pool party, a wine and cheese party, two Halloween parties, garage sales, karaoke evening, chorus practices for John, exercise/line dance classes for me, doctor appointments and a show/dance. We'll also enjoy visits with friends and time relaxing at the (newly renovated) pool. I've been checking out the weather forecast, what I need to pack, and my "to do before we leave" list.

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Credit Card Blues

What a day! Thank heavens I keep on top of our finances because I discovered one of our credit cards (our main card, a Chase Visa) had been “compromised.” There were two charges I knew we hadn’t made: a $513.80 charge for Virgin Airlines and the other was Coconut Grove Sports Bar in Sacramento, CA, for $1,025!!
Having a credit card compromised had also happened to us a couple years ago. That time it was John’s card. We assumed the stealing of the information on his card occurred at a restaurant or other place where his card was “out of our sight” because his card has never been used “on line.” That time Chase Visa caught the problem before we were aware. Since his card is only used for gas, groceries and restaurant purchases, we would have been ok with our “reoccuring charges” (which are on my card), but unfortunately the customer service guy accidentally deleted my card as well as John’s so I had to go through the chore of setting up all of our accounts for on-going payments.

Wisely I had kept a list of the businesses I needed to contact: Tampa Electric, Brighthouse (our TV supplier in Florida), Cloverland Electric (in the U.P.), the Saginaw News, Wall Street Journal, Tampa Tribune, Verizon, Bluehost (my internet hosting company), Paypal and more… lots more. Some would be easy with on-line revisions, but others world require phone calls. I knew I had a huge job ahead of me. The replacement Chase Visa card is scheduled to arrive Monday, but that still meant several days when scheduled payments might come in and I was anxious to get started and hated to waste time.

After considering different options, I decided that it would be best if I could put all of our automatic (reoccurring) charges on a card of their own, used only for that purpose. It would be a card that wouldn’t be carried with us nor used for any other type of transactions. If I “took out” a new card, I wouldn’t have it for a week or two. And then I remembered a Chase Freedom card that we had received but hadn’t activated. It was ready with a quick phone call so I could begin my tedious chore.

I worked for hours setting everything up. I used phone calls and the internet and finished after 4:00 (more than six hours of steady work). The actual plastic card was filed away and marked so we won’t use it for purchases.

If one of our cards is hijacked again, hopefully I won’t have to go through the hassle of setting up and changing dozens of accounts as I did today.

Interesting thing: Neither fraudulent charge (for $1,025 and $513.80) was “swiped.” The larger one was a “sports bar.” Maybe it was an employee. How else would a non-swiped card for that much be accepted?

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Nearly 27 years ago, we had our Michigan home built for us. One feature we stressed when were were designing the house was sufficient storage. We wanted lots of places to put things. Over the years, being pack rats, we managed to fill up every nook and cranny and a huge basement. Now we’re faced with unbelievable quantities of old stuff that we certainly don’t need. I’m wondering, why did we save everything?

I’ve started going through stuff we have stored upstairs, especially in an under-the-eaves closet. I’ve found many things we didn’t need to save. (Examples: There was a $24 receipt for some unnamed item from a furniture store back in the 1960’s! I’ve moved six times since then. We have checks and check books for accounts that have been closed since the 1980’s.)

Was there anything of value? A few items. I found lots of brand new duplicates of music books, a couple of lamp dimmers that I forgotten about, and many photo “slides” from my active photography days.

What do you do with old dial telephones, video equipment that is totally out of date, cassette tapes and early hand-held video games?

What do I save? Is there any reason to keep anything?

John wanted to participate in a neighborhood garage sale today but the stuff we need to get rid of isn’t stuff that would sell in a huge subdivision sale. Folks who come to this “largest in Saginaw County garage sale” have to park 1/2 mile away. They need to be able to carry what they buy and most of our items, especially stuff stored in our basement, are way too large to be carried down the road through traffic. As an example we have a huge fish tank and many folding chairs. We don’t have many small items. I’d rather donate my stuff to a resale charity than have my neighbors to peruse my stuff.

I know we need to have a sale, but I’d prefer to do one of our own. We could advertise a list of the stuff. Folks who are looking for a fish tank or a snow blower would come to buy it and be prepared to haul it away. Folks who want to buy an acoustic-electric bass would be ready to spend the $$$s. We wouldn’t be competing with 40 other houses for shoppers.

We’ll see. Probably holding such a sale won’t happen until next spring, but by purging the upstairs, we’ll be in better position to get rid of what we don’t need. And in the meantime, I’ve started listing a few things for sale on Craig’s list.

Next time I go through life, I’m going to restrict my storage areas so I don’t save so much.


Note: As it turned out, John was really glad we didn’t participate in the garage sale. He talked with a neighbor who said that, despite having an enormous quantity of stuff and working all day, he only made $50. From the beginning it was obvious that the crowd was down, but also it RAINED hard several times during the day so items were ruined and many of the sales closed down before noon. We’d have done a lot of work with little to show for it.

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Halloween Costume

John and I have tickets to the Baby Boomers Halloween Costume Party on October 27th. Since we will be arriving the Sunday before, we won’t have a lot of time.

Last year I went as a doctor in scrubs with a stethoscope, John had on a nerdy green checked pants and vest, a painted on mustache and a derby. My old scrubs weren’t all that comfortable (the pants were extra small so very fitted) but it was ok for an evening.

Everyone will be in costume, but John wasn’t anxious to dress-up. I knew that if I could find the right one, he’d go along with it, so I’ve been shopping for costumes for us. I found a cute peanut butter and jelly couples’ costume but it was kind of pricy and John felt it would be uncomfortable for a whole evening. So that ruled that one out.

Today I stumbled across something that will work. I won’t give away the secret, but we’ll definitely be identified as a “couple.” Each of us will be comfortable enough. Mine is sorta cute with a hat. John’s includes a can opener. John’s will be an “assembled” costume. Part of it is coming from China. The total price of his will come to about $10-15 and mine will be a little over $20. Not bad.

Now I don’t have to worry about it.


My costume came came and it’s too tight. Cute but my stomach is too big. I either need to lose some major weight about (20 pounds) or find a way to alter it. I’ll think about it for a few days. I am sure I can figure something out but it’s going to mean more work than I’d planned.

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Last “Legal” Day

According to a majority of women my age who live in Michigan, Labor Day is the final day of summer… the last opportunity to “legally” wear white. Of course, it’s different in Florida. The year in Florida is seasonless, but here Labor Day signals the end of summer.

In the mid-west, white is acceptable above the waist but not as slacks, skirts, dresses, nor shoes. The no-white rule runs from Labor Day until Memorial Day.

After tomorrow, I’ll should put away the summer stuff but I will probably continue to wear what I want. I’ll get “the look” from other women when I violate the sacred rule which we are expected to follow. Ladies will comment as if they need to “educate me,” but when I say we have a place in Florida, it’s like I’m a foreigner so they nod knowingly, shrug, and don’t say anything further.

Undoubtedly summer will soon be over. It’s been hot – last week several high 80’s. But during September the temperatures will plummet. It happens fast. Even next week, I predict there’ll be a nip in the air at least part of the time.

But you can bet I’ll wear white when I want, as I wave good-bye to the summer 2013!

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