Thursday, August 17, 2017

FINALLY FINISHED THINGS - AND ADDITION TO LAST WEEK'S POST

I have to add something to last week’s post.  In addition to all of the traditional school supplies, there is another organizing item which is featured and on sale these days as school supplies.  Stores are carrying plastic drawer units for those going away to college.  Many of these are nice sized 3 drawer chests - inexpensive and even stackable (or at least they stack them for sale in the stores).  From personal experience I know that one has to be careful not to fill them with heavy items, but if you need an inexpensive chest of drawers for your organizing, now is a good time to buy one.

I am in an embroidery group - I have probably mentioned this before.  I do most of its computer work - the monthly newsletter and the annual yearbook (list of upcoming year’s programs and info about the group) included.  The yearbook used to be very fancy - with ads from local craft stores and such - but as the group got smaller, the yearbook got simpler.  Husband redesigned it for a for us a few years ago, and then I would update the information each year.  I also took over the newsletter.  When most of the members had email addresses, it became an email, with printed copies of it mailed to those without email addresses.  Now all have email addresses. 

It was suggested towards the end of our last year (year is September to June) that need a fancier newsletter, one attached to the email, instead of just an email.  I had been thinking so also and did up a prototype for the board meeting.  The other 3 board members liked what I did and few suggestions for change were made.  After the others left, the president suggested we redo the yearbook also - I had not been prepared for that.  She had a number of changes.

Since the board meeting at the end of June, in and around everything else I have had to do, I have been working on the revised yearbook - it should have been in the mail late July, early August.  She and I have emailed each other and talked on the phone.  I have sent her pages of it in assorted fonts.  Finally it was all worked out and I finished it - yesterday.  This is to be printed up and mailed out - by me.  Today we went to Staples.  (Yes, I am giving the name of where all that follows happened.  In the past we used OfficeMax, but just before last year’s was printed, the local OfficeMax stores closed - OfficeDepot closed here - twice - years ago.)  I had a cover page to be printed on a color paper and 5 additional pages, which are double sided, to be printed, black print, no color.  When we used to OfficeMax, the employees were nice and helpful - what color would you like, how is this one, etc. Today the employee did not even bother to show me the color pages when I asked for green for the color.  The most done was did I want dark green, no, I want pastel green.  Then she asked when we wanted it.  I asked if we could wait - as we did at OfficeMax and did last year at Staples.  Sure - but then the price was extra $20 or so.  I asked when there would no extra fee - pickup tomorrow.  So, okay, we will shlep back tomorrow and take more time doing all this.  We went home.

When we arrived at home and went to our computers to work (perhaps 15, 20 minutes at most) husband found two emails from Staples - we had not given them an email address, not been told or asked for emails and did not want any - one was a copy of the charges for the order, the other was telling us - that the order was done and we could pick it up at any time!  So basically, I got immediate service at no extra cost, but now I was home and would have to go back to get it!  We did not waste time going back and will go back tomorrow while we are out to pick it up and it will be mailed on Friday.  I was more annoyed with them.  We were finishing dinner and the telephone rang.  The answering machine answered (always on here to save time dealing with the spam calls - which almost all of calls are).   It was someone from, yes, Staples.  I picked it up.  I was told that the order was ready and I had not picked it up.  I told him that I was told it would be ready tomorrow.  He was upset that I was not coming and I was told that I could still come for 20 minutes and pick it up.  I told him that he must be kidding and we would come tomorrow.  And the price on the charges for the order is 9 cents more a page than I paid at OfficeMax - even more for the color pages.             

So we are wasting time on a trip back, when the order was done immediately, I wasted time with the phone call, and we wasted paper printing out the emails - as they say that they are required to pick up the order - something I can’t believe!

In addition to all the work put into the yearbook, I have been working on redoing the newsletter.  Today it is just about finished.  Husband helped me get the old header from years ago when it was a mailed newsletter, into the newly designed email one.  I emailed it to myself to see what happens and all I need is the president’s column and any info from board members - I send them an email 2 weeks before the meeting and the newsletter goes out a week before the meeting. 

So I have managed to actually get work done! Yippee. I also managed to finish the embroidery  course I was working on from the group.  Now husband has to finish it for me. 

I managed yesterday, to finish the yearbook with enough time left before dinner to go through a folder of old papers - the sort of papers one tears out or otherwise keeps to do something about - this craft store sounds interesting, the card from this restaurant sounds like it would save us money, I need to write a letter about this, etc.  Most was tossed.  A few were kept.  My todo folder actually fits into the stacking letter tray that it belongs in.  (I have a stack of these on my desk - one each for us, our business, my accounting practice, our reenactment unit, my embroidery group, my todo folder, my “waiting to hear folder” and “club membership lists”, and one for items to be filed.  There is also a top one which has standing holders for papers, envelopes, empty folders and such.

So all in all I feel, finally, as if I have completed things.  Yet, so much more to do.  As I sit here writing, I am waiting for my cell phone timer to ring, so I will know to change the laundry loads - wet to dryer, new one in the washer.  Without the cell phone timer, I would forget and the first load would not make it to the dryer until bedtime at least.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

When something seems like it is too big a project - take a section of it and start.  Just as page by page I finished rewriting the yearbook and the newsletter, you will eventually see the project done - perhaps with time left to do something else small.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

SCHOOL AND OFFICE SUPPLIES

This week back to a bit more normal organizing - instead of our weird adventures.

First of all, we bought and I have been using a new dish rack instead of using the dead dishwasher as a rack.  It is actually smaller than my old rack and I have trouble fitting in the dishes and pots from dinner and must store them away before I wash the items from night snack - well, at least it makes me put everything away. 

Now -school supplies.  I think I have mentioned before my love of office supplies - as a child I played with my dad’s supplies in his office and I am always looking at them for ideas of what to do with them.  I was also a strange child who actually loved going to school and the new supplies for the year were exciting.

You are thinking - I don’t need school supplies, so I will skip this post - don’t!  You may need school supplies and not realize it.  I know our purpose is to get rid of stuff - not buy stuff, but sometimes school/office supplies can help us organize.

We are in school supply season (at least in the U.S.) and the stores are all competing for business so there are very good prices on the supplies.  A wonderful time to stock up on needed supplies.

Our reenacting unit had to move out of our headquarters for a good part of a year.  When we move back our modern space in the back was disorganized and simple supplies lacking.  When school supply season rolled around I bought a package of pens, one of pencils, a clip board that opened for storage, a large pad of lined paper (now we were set to pass around a paper each meeting for attendance, as well as additional ones for lists of who is coming to which event), scissors, tape, glue, ruler, marker pen, small box to keep it all in and a second box in another color to put sewing supplies in (they had been in a small open basket before in a file cabinet).  Now we are set for whatever we need - a sign for the door saying “use the front door” or “keep this door closed” no problem, someone needs to take minutes as the secretary is not there - plenty of paper and pens, and so on.

So think about it.  Do you journal your organizing efforts in a notebook?  If you think you will need a notebook before next year, now is a great time to get it cheaper.  If you can never find a pen or pencil - a package is cheap to buy now - put pens and/or pencils around the house where you always need them and can’t find them.  Scissors also inexpensive.  If you sew and fly and have a problem with pointed scissors when flying - I bought Fiskars blunt tip scissors (even have a cover for the tip) which are nice and sharp for cutting, but blunt ended to take on planes (or in my case to jury duty) - best price of the year right now on them.  Folders for filing what you sort - even in colors.  Pocket folders for papers you need to bring places. (I have one for my papers to take to our reenactment unit meetings and one in a different color for same for my embroidery chapter meetings.)  Small plastic boxes for storage.  Backpacks.  Great time to stock up.

But now, remember, don’t buy more than you will need - this time will come again next year.  Also it is important to set a place for the spares to be kept so that you can find them when you need them.

We had a small month calendar on our fridge for TV shows.  Husband made it on the printer and sealed it in plastic sheets.  He has been using it as a “white board”.  It is hard to fit the info in the small squares and the ink is hard to get off of it.  I saw in with the school supplies a larger wall calendar which is a white board.  It said that it was magnetic - which I took to mean it would stick to the fridge.  No, it meant that one could put magnets on it.  Husband was intrigued by the idea and we bought one to see if we could put it on the fridge.  We did so.  There are 5 weeks on it - we set the first week as 8:00 pm, the next as 8:30, next 9:00, next 9:30 and the last 10 pm (rarely half hour shows at 10 or 10:30 pm).  Since the shows no longer run a full season, we list what is on and we would like to see. Petty idea I know.  But what could you use a large calendar which can be erased for?  It is actually made to hang on a wall with included hangers so don’t think it has to go on the fridge.  (We glued washers to the back and then put heavy duty magnets on same - but even then we needed to put a string around the sawteeth it was suppose to hang from and then around two magnet hooks on the fridge.) 

That reminds me of another great office supply - but it probably is not on sale.  We have a labeling machine.  It prints small plastic labels.  Labeling is good and helps one to find things easier. In our case it from Brother, but there are several companies which make them.  Husband printed the times for each set of boxes small and put it on a tiny thin magnet and put it on the board to make it easier to see what time something is on.  But since labeling things is a great way to keep track of what there is and which box, can, etc. is which - these labels are wonderful.  They even come off of many surfaces cleanly.  I label the various stick flash drives I use for data with them.   I put them on DVDs/CDs to know what is on the disk.  If it is a reuseable disk, when I delete it to reuse, I take the old label off.  My husband (since the time of floppy disks, through zip disks to stick flash drives) does not label his.  He “knows” which is which - the green one over there is “X”, the red one over there is “Y” and so on.  Generally he has no idea which is which and has to sit and stick each one in his computer until he finds the one he is looking for - if he does.   Boxes of craft supplies when labeled are easy to find the supply one is looking for  - ribbons, buttons, pompoms?  Easy to find when the box says what it is in it.

Of course, for cardboard boxes - marking pens work great for labeling also. 


THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK -           

Supplies to make organizing easier are good to have - but don’t go crazy buying “more stuff”, buy what will be of help to YOU.  Make sure you have a place to keep what you buy so that you will be able to find it as it is needed. 




Thursday, August 3, 2017

TREADING WATER

Last Saturday we actually got away for the day - despite prior weather reports of heavy rain Friday and Saturday.  (We did not go Friday due to the heavy rain, but it cleared up for Saturday.  Nice day for an outdoor event.  It was a reenacting market - we didn’t buy anything, but it is always nice to look.  The fair was near Allentown, PA and then we drove down to Lancaster for dinner and then home. 

This week I looked forward to a quite week.  Nothing other than ordinary household chores to do.  Start of month is always quiet for bills and such.  Then heck broke loose.
                                           
On Monday, we found out a friend’s mom died. Wake was yesterday and today.  Funeral tomorrow.  We went to the wake today, and I thought we should go to the funeral, but we cannot.

Due to trips and when money is coming in to our bank for bills from third parties, we have been off our normal banking schedule.  I have to be careful as we can only make 6 transfers/withdrawal a month from savings.  (I keep the money in savings for the small amount of interest it earns and normally transfer to checking on Friday what is needed for the coming week.)  In addition husband has some IRA CDs coming due on Friday and we need to rearrange how long money will be in new CDs.  So Monday we went to the bank.  The idea was that we would tell them what to do with the CDs when they come due (something I have done at our main bank - they take the information and put it into their “tickeler” file and take care of it on the day it needs to be done), as well as make a deposit for our reenactment unit and activate my ATM card for same - I am the treasurer.  We made the deposit.  The ATM machine was down.  After a 40 minute wait we found out that they cannot take the info at the branch in advance for the CDs.  We then went to the bank my embroidery chapter has its accounts at, and made a deposit for them.  Afternoon gone.

Tuesday we went to our regular bank to transfer money as money came in from sources then - had to pay the real estate taxes - they went out in the mail same day as did a couple of smaller bills.

Husband has had tooth that has been loose for awhile and he has been waiting for it to fall out on its own.  It reached the point where it still will not come out.  It moves too much.  It hurts.  His dental partial plate is shifting with the tooth and hurting his gum.  So Tuesday morning I called the dentist - no appointments until Thursday (closed Wednesday) so he has been miserable and we will be going to the dentist tomorrow.  So we won’t be going to friend’s mom’s funeral.  We may need to go a second dentist as our regular one does not do extractions and if the tooth does not come out when he takes the impression, it has to come out - we hate to spend the money on same when the tooth is so loose.  We have been having a lot of soft food this week. He only wanted a “little bit of spaghetti when I made for me”.  Somehow I managed to make twice as much as normal instead of only 3/4 as much!  We have cold spaghetti in the refrigerator to use as needed.
       
President of my embroidery chapter wants to meet - at my house - to go over changes to two items I am writing for the chapter.  We don’t let anyone in the house since the bedbugs and I am trying to find when and where we can meet.  I explained about the horrors of what is going on this week and suggested that if she has her copy of the original examples and her notes and I have my copy of the original examples  - can we do it on the phone?  So after we come back from the dentist I have to call her with my copies out and see what she wants done - presuming I can do it.

Then Friday we have to go back to the bank and deal with the IRA CDs.  The bank has a tiny parking lot and we try not to go there on Fridays when it is busy, but have no choice.

How did a week so empty fill up so fast and so completely?

I have been changing some things in the house.  After we had mice a few years ago husband did not want me drying dishes in the rack on the counter.  When the dishwasher died, I started drying the dishes in same.  We plan to buy a new dishwasher, but it is expensive, the one I liked (which was rated so poorly we decided not to buy it) along with the concept of washing dishes automatically for 2 hours instead of washing them by hand in the same 15 minutes it takes to load the dishwasher, seems a waste of electricity.  So I have been washing the dishes (and pots and such) by hand since then.  Husband is not happy as I have to clean the dishwasher periodically as water is dripping in it.  (He would love for me to buy a dishwasher as he figures some day I will be sick and he will have to wash the dishes.)  The dish rack I used to use is very icky.  I like it as it does not use a mat under it - the dripped water goes right back into the sink.  I saw a new version in Costco last week and we had a discussion that it was okay to dry the dishes in the rack again as a result.  I soaked and washed my rack - it is still icky - just not as much.  Sunday when we go to Costco (cheap lunch and somewhere different to walk around for awhile) we will buy the new rack and see if it fits. 

I am trying to put back extraneous items in the dishwasher.  I tend not to unload it.  I take out what I need, use it, wash it, and put it back.  Some items not used regularly have ended up in it and not been put away.  In anticipation of the new rack, I am trying to get all the extra items put away. 

I have redone where food items are stored in our kitchen closet pantry. It is now easier to deal with some items, but it is a bit odd.  When I open a box of pasta, for example, I put the pasta in a jar.  I realized that the jars would fit on the shelf I keep my cans on - and I have less cans than I used to (mostly soup, mushrooms, and canned tomatoes) and moved the jars up to that shelf.  Great, except I keep the spaghetti (I break it in half when I open the box before putting in the jar) is in a slightly taller jar (it has a wider neck, which is why it is different) so it has remained where it was.    It all fits in better.

I am also still copying and pasting the contact listings from my computer Organizer software into the new cell phone.  I really need to get it done.  In addition to not having the Chinese takeout number last week when we were on the road, when I went to call the dentist, I did not have his number in it easier.  I turned on one of my old phones and copied the number by hand into the new phone - the rest of the listing will follow. 

Hopefully I will finish up this week even on time and things to do, so I will start next week with no remaining things from this week.  Once the publications from my embroidery chapter are fixed, I will have one printed and mail them out.  That should not take long - an afternoon and evening at most.  The other will be emailed out a week before our September meeting.

How is YOUR summer going?  How is YOUR organizing going?  I’d love to hear from you.


THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

Sometimes one just has to “go with the flow”.  A quiet week became overcrowded and there is nothing which can be done about it.  It is what it is.


   

Thursday, July 27, 2017

TREADING WATER - A 5 HOUR TRIP TO NOWHERE, AND TRYING TO CATCH UP

I find that my time is being diverted and I don’t have even the limited time I had before to get things done. 

I have managed to get the contacts in my old cell phone transferred to my new one through H and part of I (plus of course the “must put in right away” ones I put in first).  I have skipped some as I really don’t know if I should bother putting in information about people we have not had contact with in some years - I am not getting rid of them, but just not copying them forward into the new phone.  After I finally deal with the transferring into the new phone, I will go back and compare what I did not transfer - just in case I change my mind about whether they are needed in the new phone - and I will make a new category in my computer Organizer “not transferred” and mark them as such so I will know which ones were never transferred forward.  When I say “part of I” I was working on this laptop (the one husband thinks I really should get rid of) and the computer or my browser crashed mid entry for IRS - remember I am an accountant, this is a lot of phone numbers and other contact info for me, more than for most people, if they even have it as a contact.  I am not sure if what I entered for it will be there when I go back or if I will have to start over on the IRS entry.  (If you are outside the U.S. - IRS is Internal Revenue Service, our Federal government tax collection service.) 

Remember last week we did not go to a quilt show and a fiber show out of state?  I thought - yippee more time to catch up and work on my cell phone transfer.  NO!

Husband had been looking forward to the trip - and was upset that we were not able to go.  Thursday we had lunch in Wendys (something we do almost every day - or way too often) and I noticed him doing something on his cell phone.  He looked at me and told me that he had checked on the drive to Freehold, NJ in “real time” on his GPS and instead of an hour and a half (which in theory it should be), it was only slightly longer - an hour and 45 minutes - we could go to Golden Corral for dinner.

Now, for those who have not heard of same, this is not a destination restaurant.  It is a family buffet chain, the sort of place that if had one locally we would go to for dinner once a week.  But we don’t have one locally.  The nearest two are this one in New Jersey and one in Connecticut which is about the same time to get from here, but is new and needs to settle in and get better before we go there.  We have eaten at the one in New Jersey several times when we are vaguely in the area of it - quilt shows, woodworking shows and embroidery exhibitions in New Jersey find us going there for dinner.  We have also been to several other of their restaurants when traveling.  Husband likes the chain much more than I do, but that it because he likes the assortment of food and I find it hard to find something I like.

I sighed, and said Okay.  So, without our usual over planning before we go anywhere, we set off at 3 pm.  We only lost about 15 minutes on the road to the bridge which we normally get stuck on.  Not bad.  When we leave the island we live on (which is such a large land mass that we forget it is a island unless we are going somewhere or there is a problem)  we have to go over a large toll bridge to a different island (which is part of New York City) and then over another toll bridge to New Jersey (and the mainland of the U.S. - although we rarely think of the fact that we are doing that).  No problem getting over the first bridge.  Doing well!

The second island (Staten Island for those who know it) should take maybe 20 minutes to drive across.  The traffic was so bad that we inched along.  The ultra helpful GPS told us that there were delays (less time they actually ended up being), but this was still the best route, so I did not suggest getting off the Interstate to take any of the alternate ways I know to go.  It took about an hour to get across and down the island.  Now, since husband had not mentioned this until after we had lunch, I did not know to limit what I drank and had 2 sodas (free refills).  I had used the ladies room at Wendys before we left and an hour and a half is not too long to wait - and there are numerous places along the road we were to go in New Jersey to make a stop - and since we would be at the restaurant too early - we would be looking to stop at some place or another- get gas for the car at a Costco we know, go to Walmart or a Hobby Lobby, etc. - so I was not concerned.  However, by the time we were leaving Staten Island we had been driving for just over 2 hours and I was desperate.  Then again, the time of arrival was only half an hour more and we could easily stop along the way.  But looking at the huge red spots left on the map, I figured we had to stop - but where, there are no service areas.  I remembered that when we come home on this road we have a seen a Wendys on the opposite side (the coming home side) of this road and estimated which exit we would have to get off the road to get to it.  We get off the road and head to the other side of the road - husband misunderstand what I tell him, and am I do not see where to turn to get to the Wendys (it is along a one way service road and we have to go the opposite way) and he continues on the road he turned onto.  There are only local houses and businesses - no place to stop and no place to turn around (and that is with our little car - good thing we were not in our RV).  We manage to turn around and head back and I see a sign to turn for the Wendys.  He drives there, we find it among the shops in the shopping center, I run in - ahhh - and run back out so we can continue.  (This stop took another 10 minutes.) 

Over the bridge into New Jersey and we drive a short bit and then get off onto the road we need to take south to the restaurant.  We come to a dead stop.  The main road (the Garden State Parkway) in the area, the second biggest north-south road in New Jersey, has had an accident and even though it has 2 roadways - local and express is so backup that the traffic has spilled over onto the road we need to take which sort of parallels the Parkway.  The GPS time of arrival is still half an hour later than it is.  By 7 pm (that is around 2 hours on this road) we have gone maybe 5 miles - we have not finished circling under the road we got off to get onto this road.  Guess what - the GPS says the time of arrival is half an hour and the time keeps changing to remain half an hour later than it is.  We are not even sure that we will get to the restaurant in time to be able to eat there.  We are sitting in traffic which moves by (literal) inches.  We have been on the road for four hours for an hour and a half trip.  We have paid over $20 tolls, plus used a good deal of gas.  We are not sure what to do.

When husband checked on his cell phone before we left, there were to be scattered thunderstorms after midnight.  As we sit trying to decide what to do the weather report changes to dangerous thunderstorms will be where we are in the next hour and there have been 2 tornadoes (not common here) from the storm - we are sitting with no place for cover - other than the road we are finally circling under.  The answer become obvious.  We manage to work our way to the right and turn right to turn left (a peculiarity of New Jersey).  We head back on a open road.

As we get close to home it is around 8 pm.  (The hour it should have taken us to get to where we were instead of the 4 hours it took to get there.)  I start thinking about what to do for dinner.  It is too late to go to Ikea or the Asian buffet we go to.  I have nothing defrosted for dinner.  We could go to Wendys (again) for dinner - but really after all this?  I decide that Chinese takeout is the best answer.  We don’t take out from same often as husband cannot eat rice, but we do sometimes (we used to take out from this place a lot).  After a quick discussion, I go to call them and give them our order as they close at 8:30 and we cannot walk in and order then, but if I call, they will have the order ready when we get there.

Uh oh!  Since we don’t call them often they are not a high priority to transfer to the new phone.  (In the old days when we got a phone which allowed phone numbers to be stored in it - I would put in our immediate families and this place, but it no longer is a priority.)  I was about to panic and then remembered my phone has Internet.  I looked them up and there was even a place to click to call them - but what if it is wrong place with the same name (there seemed to be several)?  I was so relieved to hear the wife owner’s voice.  I ordered and we had dinner that night.

So basically we killed an entire afternoon, the money paid for tolls, and the gas used, for a 5 and half hour ride that was mostly sitting still in traffic.

Since then I have managed to catch up on things a bit.  I have been working on transferring contacts into the phone (as I said at the beginning). 

I needed to write two things for my embroidery chapter that I never seem to get to.  I put out a midsummer verison of our newsletter, which I am also in the middle of redoing for the fall in a new format.  We will be working on a project at our September meeting and the members need to do some work before, so I had photos of what needs to be done in advance, information that our yearbook will be out soon, and an overview of our upcoming meeting year (September thorugh June).  That went out on time today.  We put out what is called our yearbook - it is an overview of the upcoming year’s meetings, list of officers, membership list, etc.  When the group was larger it was a lot longer and fancier.  My husband made up the version we have been using and updating information in, a few years ago.  This year we decided to change it around a little.  The chapter president and I went through it after the board meeting last month.  I have to get it out to the members as they need to have it before the year starts - and we think we might get back a few members who are on the fence about renewing when they read it.  So yesterday I sat and moved around and rewrote the changed areas and sent it to the chapter pres for review.  I still have to write up this year’s meetings programs and update the membership list, but those are basically just information updates, not major changes.  I am waiting for her to have a chance to look at what I sent and deal with some questions I sent with it about the changes made.  I still have to also update our website with our new meeting schedule and then work on the September newsletter which will be the first one in the new format.  (The newsletter is emailed to members, newsletter editors of our region and the region director and to some prospective members.)

Today I went to a client for actual work.  Luckily all went well there and a problem I anticipated was already resolved.  I anticipated a bad, long ride each way as the local commuter train line is running at around 80% of normal trains as work is done, unrelated to the tracks for the commuter line, at the train station it goes to in Manhattan.  People have been advised to take alternate ways to go to Manhattan - including some ferries which were set up for this and expresses buses - also set up just to deal with this.  (Much fewer people have used either of these methods than it was thought would.)  They are also running trains to alternate stations  - one in Brooklyn and one in Queens which have subway trains to Manhattan.  One thing which concerned me was that the Queens station is adjacent to the subway stop I drive to, and I was concerned that there would be a lack of parking in the garage I use and the subway would be too crowded - luckily there was no problem parking and the subway was as always.  I actually got home in considerably less time than usual.

When it came time to do the dishes tonight and then sit down and write this post, husband came down all excited - he had a sale on his Etsy site.  So, I first had to go up and help him with the paperwork and getting the package to be sent.  So instead of a fairly leisurely chance to write to all of you and then go and “chat” with some needlework friends online - I have been writing this post about an hour later than I planned and the friends may have to wait.  There, now, don’t you feel important, writing my blog post, is more important than chatting with friends.
                               
Hey, we may go Pennsylvania this week - Friday or Saturday - if one of the two days it is not raining - what are the chances?

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -
                           
Well three of them I guess this week.

First - when the GPS says that one will be somewhere in an expected amount of time, but shows huge areas of red - don’t believe it - turn around and save that second bridge’s toll!

Second - there is only so much time in a day, week, etc.  One can only fit in what can be done in that time.  Don’t get sick - just decide what is the most important to get done and start with that.

Lastly, Always put the Chinese takeout place in the new phone right away. :-)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

ELECTRONICS CAN HELP YOU BE ORGANIZED OR PLUNGE YOU INTO HELL

Well, here I am.  In our little RV on a little trip - going to a quilt show (quilting supplies and exhibitions of quilts) tomorrow and then on Friday go to a fiber show (wool and related items for sale) which we have never been to before. 

Well, that’s where I am suppose to be, but I am not.  While I use electronics - computer, cell phone, old cell phone as a PDA - to help keep me organized (even weekly reminders to write and post to this blog - along with every other day “make pudding” for snack, daily time to stop and “make dinner” and other reminders in addition to normal appointments to keep organized, sometimes something goes blooey and stops it all.
       
We were debating whether or not to go on this 3 day trip.  It is nice to have something different as a diversion, but it is a lot of money (for us) in terms of tolls, RV park, and admission to the quilt show (fiber show is free) and dinner runs a bit more than dinner out normally does for us. 

So, we were unsure what to do.  We filled the RV tanks with water and decided to decide at the last minute.  I packed up the snacks and related that we would need (including medications) and put them in the cloth supermarket shopping bags we use for same - one has blue handle - anything for the fridge goes in same, so I know to pull same and put it in the fridge in the RV right away when we start the trip.  (Why blue handle?  Well, 2 bags have beige handles and one has a blue handle so the blue handle is the odd “handle”out and easy to spot.)  Clothing is taken out to the RV in laundry bags, so to toss same in the laundry bags and throw the clothing and non-refrigerator bags in the RV and unpack them when settled in is not a big a deal. 

We were leaning towards going as of when we returned home from running errands yesterday.  Then the electronics crashed.

Husband goes online - on his computer - when he gets up for the day and then we both go online - on our computers - after we go out and run our errands for the day.  Yesterday he had no trouble in the morning.  When we returned I tried to download my email accounts to see the new emails and I could not connect to the Internet.  I tried going online - same thing.  Husband came up and with the usual “really, you can’t connect to the Internet - what did you do wrong” attitude, tried to connect his computer to the Internet.  No Internet.

We tried everything we knew - we rebooted the modem.  The lights on same went on and off in an odd assortment and would then start again - searching for the Internet over and over. We tried reaching the wifi from our cable co.  (While the cable co. insists this is impossible, we get their wifi in our house - according to them it only exists in the street - and when there is a black out that is how we get wifi for the laptops.)  No luck.  Finally we gave up and called the cable co - knowing exactly the conversation which would occur. We had the same conversation a week ago when our TV service went out.  “Unplug the modem.”  We did that already. “Do it again.”  Then a discussion follows on our wiring and splitters.  Our house was wired - by the cable co.’s private contractor - and I have to explain that our wiring is odd and splits on the outside of the house not inside the house.  (Each room with cable has its own line coming into it from outside.)  Finally - “We have to make an appointment for someone to come there.”  We asked if exchanging the modem might help and it was agreed that we would do that.    We remembered that we have two “drops” (we have 2 lines from the cable co.’s line into our house - each serves half the small house as they did not have enough signal coming through when the house was wired by them originally).  We take the modem to a line coming in on the other drop and try it there - it does not  work there either.  This says to us that this is something beyond the wiring to our house.  Logic would say that other people should be complaining, but in today’s world no one else on our street might have service through the cable co. 

Husband who before was not sure if we should go away, now is disappointed.  It is decided that we will get up early (well, early for us) and exchange the box and if this corrected the problem, we would then go on the trip. 

Now we were each looking for something to do so that our time was not wasted.  Husband started playing with a wifi dongle in his computer to see if he could use the wifi in the street.  Problems with the dongle.  He tried using his laptop - wifi from the street was very intermittent.  I did various things I needed to catch up on - bank reconciliations and such - which did not need Internet access.  Then again, every other thing I thought of doing needed the Internet.  Remember I still need to get contact information into my new cell phone - what a great time to do it.... Oh, I need to be on the Internet to do that.  And so on. 

By the way, we would have been able to do much less if we used “the cloud” (aka a cloud server) as we would not be able to access data and possibly even software (apps) as we had no Internet access.  Remember this if you are someone who is very gung ho about using the cloud - you could loss access to your data and/or software if you have no Internet access.

After dinner I figured I would use this laptop to check a few of my email accounts - family, reenacting unit, embroidery chapter, and accounting email accounts - the ones with possible important emails.  I tried signing into the first account using the wifi from the street.  In just connecting and seeing that there was no email in the account (and again in each successive one of the four accounts) it took 3 or 4 attempts to get into the account and open the email “in box”.  No new emails.  I gave up trying to do anything else on the Internet and played solitaire until it was time to have snack and go to bed.

Today we went to the cable co.’s “store” and exchanged the modem.  Husband told the employee that last time we exchanged the modem, and got the one we are returning, when we were given the box it was not “registered” and it was several days and an employee visit to our house for several hours to find out that when the modem was given to us it was not registered to our account first.  She told us that we have to register it when it starts and we should see the instructions on installing the modem and registering it on page 10 in the instructions.  We took the modem package and the instruction package and went home.

The instructions turned out to be of no value as they were for a router not a modem.  Of course, setting up the modem is not hard - plug it into the electric, plug in the incoming cable line, and plug in the outgoing Internet cable.  It started right up - doing the same as it did before. Lights went on and off in the same pattern as last night on the old modem and then started over.  Husband turned on his computer just in case it was waiting for him to do something.  No connection.

I called the cable co again.  The employee said that she would try to register it from her end.  She could not as there was no return signal.  We would need - a visit from a service tech.  First appointment is Friday  - No Internet from Tuesday night to Friday morning - if they can get it working then.  Oh, and if the problem is in the house - in the cable wires which the cable company originally installed or in the modem, which we just exchanged or anything else in the house, there is an $80 fee. 

The trip is of course, off at this point as we have to be here on Friday morning.

Now, we have noticed something odd about our cable company.  We call up with a problem.  We go through the hoops they want us to go through - which we have already done, not being stupid to try to resolve the problem without calling them.  (By the way, while on hold there was actually a recording saying that if one is having a problem with their cable box remote - check that the batteries do not need changing.  Really?  People are too stupid to think of this on their own?)  We are then told that we need to exchange equipment or have a service tech come to work at the house.  We agree to exchange the equipment.  Within a half hour later - by magic - the problem resolves itself.  (We thought we would have Internet this morning based on this “magic”.)  

So as we are sitting there upset at no Internet until Friday - don’t forget husband does counseling online so he is not able to work until this is resolved nor can we deal with orders which might come in for our handcrafted gifts business, husband notices that suddenly there is a window on his computer to register the new modem.  We put in the information and  voilĂ , we have Internet again! What happened?  Did they send the service appointment in to the repair department and someone look and realize a switch was off?  Magic?  Why does this always happen?                                     
Just to be on the safe side we are not calling and canceling the appointment for the service tech until tomorrow - a day before they are due to come, but a chance to make sure that the service does not disappear again.        

It was too late by then to go on the trip, so here we are.  I did have a chance to transfer all the contact information for my embroidery group to the new mobile phone, as well as get a start on transferring the remaining contacts which were not “critical” to transfer.  Oh yeah, the cable company phone number had not been transferred yet - I had to find it in my old cell phone to call the cable co. - during the various calls, it was transferred in.           

I guess you knew that we got our Internet back - didn’t you?  How else could I have posted this?

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK-
If you must use “the cloud” have the information (data) you store in the cloud available to you on your computer, tablet etc. or in hard copy also.  This way when you have no access to the Internet, you still have the information to work with. 

Imagine if my checking and savings information only existed in the cloud and I had planned to write checks yesterday - I would not have known how much money I had to spend nor how much I could transfer to help cover checks.  This could have been a major problem - especially if the service really had been out until Friday - no access to information in the cloud for 3 days!

(And never forget - the cloud is not mysterious - it is only someone else’s hard drive - why not keep your information on your own hard drive or a flash drive.)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

SO DISORGANIZED SO SUDDENLY

It is amazing how much one (or at least I) become dependant on electronics to keep one organized.  The changeover in my cell phone has consumed a lot of my time and is not yet finished.  In addition I have been losing touch with many things that needed to be done as my concentration is elsewhere - ie. the new phone.

I have been copying (and pasting) contacts into the new setup based on immediate/upcoming need.  That means - immediate family, doctors, and insurance companies went in first along with the presidents of the 2 clubs we belong to.  I am now in the midst of copying all the contact information for those in our reenactment unit as we have an event coming up this weekend.  I have at least two listings for members (well, family units of members as we have couples, families, singles and married people who belong, but their spouse/family does not) as we ask members for an emergency number as we had a member get injured at an event and we realized that if he had not been married, we would not known who to call to let them know.  We do have a cooking fire and the guys are firing flintlock guns plus a reproduction cannon so the possibility for injury exists.  I have made my way all the way through the “P’s” of the membership list plus some needed non-member contact information.  I hope to have all related to the unit in the new phone by the time we go to the event this weekend.

While away last week we found a plastic case for the back of the phone - only one vendor had any out of all of the stores and markets we have been to.  When we returned we ordered a glass protector for the front.  We are both rather nervous about putting it on.  The protector (actually two of them) arrived today.  It looks too small for the phone - which is odd as it seems to be the smallest android phone made.  Husband contacted the manufacturer who thinks it might be too big for the phone - huh?  When we were looking at phones and husband found this one - size is important and it was the smallest one he found with good reviews - I asked him “Is this a common enough phone that when we go to the farmers markets in Pennsylvania we will be able to easily get a back case and glass protector?”  He told me yes.  Apparently not.  We also picked up last week, at one of the markets, a generic cell phone case as the one I was using was a bit tight on the phone - it was from old one which is about 3/4 the size of this one. It feels much bigger in my pocket and I have had to rearrange everything in the pocket - and move something to the other pocket as well.  When we finally get the glass protector on - if we do - I will make a lighter, smaller case of felt for it. 

But in concentrating on the phone things are slipping through my fingers.  While away I received an email from the regional treasurer of my embroidery group.  She wanted to know if I had received a check she had mailed to me.  I replied that I had received the check.  I remembered I had although I could not find the email I remember sending her when it arrived, I did find the email to the chapter board telling them about it.  I also remember depositing the check and told her I had done so.  When we returned home I went to look for the original email I had sent to her and found it. I looked for the deposit slip for the check and could not find it. Nor was it recorded in the checkbook.  Nor was there a computer scan of the deposit (which I do now as printed deposit slips don’t show the entire account number - just in case).  I also could not find the check.  I had a day of panic over this before finding the check.  I sent an email explaining (and why I was in such a state of disorganization) and that the check had not been deposited, but would be this week. Deposit slip has been made and scanned and is in the “banking” envelope to go to the bank.

In the mail when we returned home was an envelope with receipts from a member of our reenacting unit for me to reimburse him for purchase for the unit.  I put it on my desk to pay and also sent him an email to let him know I will bring it to the event this coming weekend. 

But then I remembered.  The fellow who does the cooking for the unit gave me receipts for his purchases for the food he cooked at the last event.  I told him I would send him a check.  But the day after the phone switch occurred.  I would normally run the receipts through the suitcase heater as they came from someone’s house.  I looked in my Organizer and saw that I ran a heating later in the week after I went to the embroidery guild meeting - the receipts from him, as well as papers I had written notes on, should have been included in that heating.  I cannot find my notes either.

I have one place left to look - in our van which we used for the event - but the van is at the service station for state inspection tomorrow.  If I do not find the papers there, I will have to apologize to the fellow and ask him for an estimate of what I owe him.  (If I find the papers I will email an apology for the lateness of the payment.) Either way I will write the check for him and bring to the event this weekend. 

I do not like making errors with finances - our own and even more so with other people’s money.  I am very upset with myself that a simple thing that most people would think nothing of, getting a new cell phone, would be this upsetting and disorganizing.  I hate having to admit to errors when dealing with other people’s money as it makes me feel that they will think me untrustworthy. 

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

We all have times when we loose our sense of direction (in this case organization). We have to be truthful about errors that result or cause the loss of direction and do our best to correct the situations which result and make amends to correct the situations.  We can then start anew and try to make sure that we are more careful in the future.


                       

Thursday, July 6, 2017

MOVING INTO THE NEW PHONE CONTINUED - AND A TRIP IN THE RV

I have made some progress on getting info into my new mobile phone.  Husband found a memo program that allowed me to cut and paste on my computer from my old memo program - a good thing as I needed to transfer some shopping info before we went away.  I managed to get all the contact info we might need during the trip into the phone.  I made sure to copy the info about our reservations into the new phone so we would have it with us.

Of course while doing all this I was also getting our tiny RV ready for the trip.  I had to make up the bed - I have mentioned before that this is an extended process involving making up half the bed as a single bed, then making up the other half by making it up on the back cushion laid flat, then sliding wooden boards between the two bench seats that form the bed, then placing the seat on this second side into place, and then - while lying on the side of the bed already made up - finish making up the second side of the bed.  It takes at least 45 minutes and a hot day is not a good time to make it up.  But I did.  Then the night before I have to bring out everything else we need and store it - clothing, snacks, computers, etc. Think about this - you have to move everything you need for 5 days into a house and then everything has to be stored in such a way that it will not move, shift, break or bang around and make noise.

We have been having a bit of a comedy of errors on this trip - lately this always seems to be the case.  On our drive here we got stuck on a limited access road near us which has no alternative for 45 extra minutes on a half hour segment of the trip.  We thought it was due to ongoing (for years) construction - no, it was a car stuck in the right lane - how the heck can a car still be stuck in the right lane at least 45 minutes (and probably a lot longer than that for traffic to have backed up the way it did) with no help or decision to move the car?

There are two main ways once we are out of our home state to get to where we are going.  All ways involve the tolls on two bridges in our area (which run combined almost $20 dollars even with an EZ Pass discount).  One way then involves tolls on turnpikes in two states, plus a bridge toll between the two turnpikes.  (This latter a new toll they dreamed up to start charging in 2016.)  I suggested to husband that if we went on the trip by the second way which involves one toll for $1 (to cross the same river as the one the bridge with the new toll crosses in another location between the same two states) we would save over half the remaining tolls - each turnpike one way, plus the new bridge toll - which is collected for round trip in one direction - for us that is the “going” direction, so we would save somewhere around $18 in tolls, less the $1 toll on the alternate route comes to a nice chunk of money saved.  So we went using the alternative way.  Husband hates the road this uses - while it is a limited access highway there a lot of huge interstate trucks using it (saving their tolls on the turnpikes) and it involves a lot of hills, but 17 bucks is 17 bucks.

When we got to the $1 toll it had suddenly become $6.50 for “two axle RVs”.  We have driven this way before to other places in this state and always paid $1 - so all the extra time and effort on the trip was greatly decreased - we will not try to cut the tolls this way again - it is not worth the extra travel time and effort for $10.

We did not really figure out where to eat lunch and thought of making a stop along the way if we had time and eating at that stop.  With the time we had lost we decided not to continue to the stop and headed south towards our destination.  Husband had a GPS running and also a mobile phone GPS running (sometimes I swear the 2 GPS programs are arguing), the latter is used as it is an RV program and knows which roads have to be avoided.  Suddenly the mobile phone started whispering.  We thought we would pass someplace for lunch (aka fast food place) earlier than we did and by the time we pulled it off it was on the late side for lunch and husband was upset at the trip so far, the cell phone problem and low blood sugar (he is Diabetic).  The kid (and he was a kid) at the McDonalds did nothing to help with his being upset.  Husband orders “a hamburger plain, two cheeseburgers and a senior soda”.  Seems simple, right?  “What size soda do you want - they are all $1 - a large?”  “A senior soda” “No, they are all the same price.”  So husband tells him a small soda - “Large?”.  “NO, SMALL!” (Husband was upset that the soda was going to actually cost us more do this nonsense.)  We ended up with a “regular”.  We pick up our order, get soda and go to the table.  Husband is playing with his mobile phone trying to figure out what is going on - the phone can make and receive calls with correct volume - but there are no sounds - no ringers, no alarms,etc.  I open my burger - it is the burger as it normally comes not “plain”.  I went up to the counter, got the manager’s attention and got a new burger - he was so involved with his phone he never noticed I was gone and why.  Lunch eaten we leave to last part of our trip to here.  Husband is VERY upset about his phone.

The RV park was sold as part of package of properties about 2 years ago and has changed in terms of policies and the physical access to property for the worse.  Under the old management the place would be full for July 4th week/weekend.  They had 3 spaces available at the last minute.  We asked to book for the same Monday through Friday stay next year.  No problem in the past - now the (new) staff is confused by this - it used to be “Sure”and some taps on the keyboard and we had the reservation in hand - this year “can you come back later for the reservation confirmation”.  We checked the space (we request the same one) and all was well.  July 4th stay there are lots of kids running around unsupervised, but we managed not to run over any of them - including the little girl from the space next to ours who seems to be around 3 or 4 and was riding a tricycle in the middle of the road in the RV park.  After checking our spot we marked where we had found a level area (hoping none of the kids would take the markers - they have disappeared in the past - only at this park and only during July 4th stay). This lets us come back to just about the same spot each time we take the RV out.  (Really, being level is important or doors fly open when you start to open then and stuff falls out - remember what I said about packing the RV to keep it all in place?)  We also put out a sign that says we are coming back and a decorative flag to sort of “mark our territory” - although last year someone stole our flag and the cast iron holder it hangs from at  - yes, this park during the July 4th stay. Most people set up their RV or trailer in their space and it stays there all the time.  If they leave they use the car they towed the trailer with or towed behind their RV.  We have a small RV and a relatively easy set of connections to the electricity and TV service - we carry water in our tanks and only use the water at the site if we are out on a long trip and only hook up to dump at the end of our stay - unless we are out for more than 5 days and then we will hook up, dump, and then disconnect until we are going to leave.  People with most units hook up to water and the dump pipe, as well as the electric and TV service all when they arrive and leave it in place until they leave.  So leaving the space for most people means they are leaving at the end of the trip, so we try to leave indications that we are coming back.

Husband played with his cell phone - he has an earpiece for it and put that in to see if worked as he would use same when we are apart from each other (the only time he actually needs to know if he is getting a text or call - from me during the trip) and that worked.  When he took the device out of the phone at night it seemed fixed.

First night here we had problems with the TV and the wifi. The TV had very poor reception on channel 2 and neither of us could sign into the wifi - we have been here many times and have the page to sign in bookmarked - husband finally figured out what to do and then we did same on my computer - it rejected the info which had always worked and we had to put in a totally different set of info - at first we could not even get the sign in page to come up.

Yesterday, July 4th,  we went to a large farmer’s market - it is actually a general merchandise market including an flea market across the street.  We like it.  Husband bought us sandwiches for lunch and we turned on the a/c (and the generator to let us do so) in the RV and we ate in it, in” air cooled comfort” (a 1940s/1950s claim of air conditioned movie theaters).  I found a vendor selling some ceramic bear figurines which I collect Yes, I know I should be getting rid of stuff, not acquiring more, but I love this line of little bears and they are discontinued.  I have photos of the ones I have in my cell phone - well, my last cell phone, which I brought with me on the trip and to the market just in case I saw some for sale (although I expected it to be at a more permanent vendor who sells them) so I could double check that I did not buy any I already have.  (Husband will transfer the photos for me to the new phone when we get home.) Oh, did I mention they were only 25 cents each?  How could I pass them by - only bought ones I liked, did not have, and were not missing paint.  A number of vendors were not at the market due to the holiday and it closed early.  Of course during the day his cell phone stopped having sound for ringing and alarms again.  He looked up the problem after seeing how expensive the replacement for his phone would be - and apparently it comes from dirt in the ear phone jack and the phone thinks the ear phone is plugged in -?  We were planning on buying a case for my new phone at one or the other of farmer’s markets here where there are many vendors for same, but apparently my phone is too rare for them to carry anything for it. I have it in a piece of felt in the case for my old cell phone to protect it until we can order something online for it.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK -

Sometimes there is nothing which can be done to resolve a problem as we want it to be resolved.  Sometimes problems just arise out of nowhere and have to be dealt with as best as one can.  It sounds trit, but sometimes one just has to go with the flow.

I hope those of you in the US have had a good July 4th holiday and to those of you in Canada, I wish a belated Happy 150th of your founding.