Gold Box Deal

Nikon Coolpix P7000Today’s Amazon Gold Box Deal is none other than my camera. It’s marked as being 50% off right now at $250, but I’m not sure where it’s being sold for $500 in the first place.

Anyway, my photographic skills are certainly not at a level to truly showcase the great qualities of this camera, but it’s a snazzy little thing and I just happened to notice the deal and thought I would pass it along. ‘Tis the season and all.

I personally have yet to start my holiday shopping. I have a few birthdays to deal with before Christmas and currently they are the main thing I’ve been not shopping for. I have, however, started mailing out holiday cards. So far I’ve sent out all the cards that are going out of the country. With the exception of the people who couldn’t bother to respond with their respective addresses and will subsequently be removed from my list if I don’t hear from them before the rest of the cards go out. If you’ve not gotten a card from me before and are interested in having one arrive in your mailbox, I still have plenty of extras so feel free to send me your address! I figure I’ll be sending out the rest of the cards when I’m back from Yara/house-sitting for my dad, so you’ve a bit more time to let me know.

AAUGH!

Without a doubt yesterday morning was one of the top five most aggravating mornings of my life.

At some point on Sunday my Droid clued into the fact that I have ordered an iPhone and promptly ceased cooperating with me. Initially I thought it was the same glitchiness I’ve been dealing with ever since updating the Android OS because while trying to send a tweet the screen would freeze while I was typing and then my Twitter app would crash. It became obvious, though that typing in general was an issue and neither the physical keyboard nor the onscreen one were functioning properly. I did a reset and that didn’t work and so I went to bed hoping that it would magically fix itself and expecting to call Verizon in the morning.

Well, it didn’t fix itself because electronic devices don’t do that, especially not in my house. So, I called Verizon and after an hour of the tech support rep making my phone perform virtual gymnastics we fixed the typing issue. Except it wouldn’t log into my Google Account. If you’ve ever had a cell phone issue, I’m sure you’re aware that every problem is supposedly fixed with a reset, this started a long sequence of doing just so. I say “long” because apparently there are countless ways to reset my phone. I knew we were heading down a bad road, though because every time the phone booted up and I went to log in and couldn’t the rep got just slightly more baffled. Eventually, he exhausted his database of helpful tips and sent me on my way to Motorola where the heavily accented rep there had me repeat about 65% of what I’d done with Verizon before hitting on the new tricks that finally made my phone believe my password was too correct.

I thought, “My day can only improve from here,” and so I was immediately brought back to reality when I checked the mail and discovered the boxes of cupcakes were still sitting on my porch. The mail was delivered, complete with a carrier pickup notification that didn’t give me any information whatsoever as to why my boxes were not picked up and instead lounging in a late morning sunbeam. I called my post office. The line was busy. I called USPS and maneuvered through their automated system trying to reach a human being while ignoring the message about their “unusually high call volume.” The human being gave me the phone number I just called and assured me they were the ones I needed to speak to. I called again and the phone rang continuously until the line went dead on me. I called USPS once more and got another human being who apologetically reaffirmed the previous human’s statement, but transferred me to her supervisor who accidentally? hung up on me. I spent about 30 seconds having a temper tantrum wherein I nearly threw my newly functioning Droid across the room and then called the post office once again. Someone picked up on the second ring and I nearly died from relief. He very politely listened to my dilemma and assured me that he would send the carrier back out to get my perishable packages.

Meanwhile, I have gotten the mail which included an item from Amazon that I accidentally ordered. I had intended to refuse the package as a means of returning it, but noticed the return address was not Amazon’s even though it was “fulfilled by Amazon.” So, since I’d already spent the better part of my morning with my cell phone pressed against my ear, I called Amazon. The CSR who came on the line wouldn’t even acknowledge my question until she gathered the required name, email, billing address, and order number. After which she finally let me ask about the return and responded by regurgitating Amazon’s return policy word for word. When I emphasized the fact that I just needed to know if I could refuse the package or if I needed a return label to send it directly to Amazon she told me she would send an email detailing how to do a return because clearly her verbal read-through wasn’t enough. I explained again that I am quite familiar with Amazon’s return policy and process, which is why I wanted to know what would happen to this package since the return address wasn’t Amazon’s. She said she would send me an email about returns. I asked to speak to someone else. She told me they would say the same thing and would only send me the email she was going to send. I told her that wasn’t an answer to my question and asked if she would kindly let me speak to someone else. She started to repeat the bit about the email and I cut her off by hanging up. And so I had to call back again and I got another CSR who I immediately apologized to because I was sure to cross the line into “irate customer on the phone” land. I had to repeat myself a few times to this CSR, too, but she did eventually answer my question by stating the item needed to be sent to Amazon not the address on the box. She even created a UPS call tag for my package.

Throughout all of this I am most surprised by Uschi, who showed a new level of concern for me. She followed me around the house as I paced, nudging me in the leg or arm now and then to remind me she was there. When I finally sat down on the sofa she promptly joined me and snuggled up against me. And when I was finally done with my hours of phone calls, she crawled into my lap and was shockingly gentle in her exuberance for attention. As cranky as everything had made me I have to say it was difficult not to thaw a bit from that level of love. It was certainly more attentive than I was the other day when we came home from grocery shopping and I didn’t realize she was still harnessed more than an hour later. She was a good sport about it, though.

In other news, I made more cupcakes yesterday. They were only a slight fiasco in comparison to my usual baking/decorating adventures. I ended up having to do the Tootsie Roll ears three different times. The first batch burned and I put the blame squarely on the microwave which was mysteriously set for an entire minute and thus the taffy globbed into a boiling inferno. The second batch ended up being the perfect size for pug ears. Except, of course, I was making chocolate labs. Also, the design instructions I was following clearly say to use dark chocolate frosting, which I thought was too dark but I’m not above being frugal and I had made dark chocolate frosting the other day as it’s the best to dye black since it requires the least amount of tinting added, which can make things taste funky. Black frosting is required for pretty much every cupcake I am slated to make lately. I only did the two in the middle because I found them unappealingly dark and the ears don’t match as nicely, so the rest are just a more milk chocolate brown a la chocolate buttercream. And now I am very nearly out of semisweet chocolate, which means further baking is on hold until that is rectified. Oh, and if you were wondering, they have orange tongues because apparently while making monsters, my brother also ate all my pink Starbursts.

Anyhoo, today Uschi has her Lyme booster. So, we’ll be taking some chocolate labs to share at the vet’s. If last year was anything to go by, I anticipate these will be very much enjoyed.

Mostly Miserable

I’m at the tail end of a migraine that invited itself into my life sometime late Thursday. So, of course, to couple this the dog is sick. I don’t think it’s anything major, just an upset tummy. However, in a move that only defies all the common antics of a dog, she got sick in her crate. It’s actually the second time she’s done this. And both times the crate was open. Anyway, she’s been acting dejected about the whole thing all morning. It’s pretty pitiful, but I feel bad for her because I’m pretty miserable myself.

My mother wants to steam clean my rugs and paint my office today. Both things require basically every window in the house to be open and personally I find it a might too chilly for that. Not sure who will win this argument, but perhaps the lingering headache and sickly pooch will sway her to my side. Unfortunately, the forecast calls for rain basically every day this week and she really has this project set to be done since she’s on vacation. I told her I’ll be away over the weekend, so she’s welcome to spring clean all she wants here if she pleases. I think she took that as at least partially a joke, but I really would rather not have a paint smell induced migraine.

I’m reading Rosemary and Rue. Or more accurately, I’m devouring it. I borrowed an audio copy from Alice and Josh and after two days fighting with my computer to cooperate, I’ve spent the last two days listening to the book on my Droid via Amazon’s Cloud Player. I really like the concept of the storage space — and it’s definitely an incentive to purchase music through Amazon since it doesn’t count against your allotted space — but I much prefer iTunes to organize all that on my computer. It is a much less irritating way to get music to play on the Droid, though, especially since it syncs through Windows Media Player but won’t play that file type and at least for me the conversion during the sync always seems to conk out after awhile.

Ad-Supported Kindle for Lower Price

I’ve been meaning to write up a post about how desperately I love my new Kindle and just haven’t gotten around to it. In short, it was the best $150 I ever spent (I also got the extended warranty).

Now Amazon is offering $25 off Kindle (only the wifi version, at least for now) that supports “special offers.” Basically, screensavers are now “sponsored” meaning they’ll be little more than ads from Amazon and other companies. And a banner of ads will run along the home screen. It actually looks like some of the ads are offers to save money on Amazon, like half off on gift cards or cheaper Audible books.

I’m not really surprised that Amazon has come out with this, but I am glad it wasn’t the initial option when purchasing a Kindle. I’d be really peeved if I only had to pay $25 more to get a version without ads after spending almost a year somewhat ignoring them. Though, I don’t really know if $25 is enough of a drop to justify a purchase, but it’s not a decision I have to make.

Just thought I’d share.

Kindle, Revisited

The big news around these parts arrived in the mail today:

My new Kindle propped up against a stack of five mass market paperback books to show scale

Yes, I finally broke down and bought a Kindle. Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me. While I’ve dug my heels in for a long time1 this is probably the one electronic device that is truly my kind of tech toy. As my Goodreads account will attest I read constantly and there are always a good many books on the horizon to be read next. And while both the local independent bookstore and the library almost always have a stack of books waiting for me to pick up, I’ve also been religiously downloading books with Amazon’s Kindle for PC software.

I’ve mentioned before that while my vision is poor I can read regular print. My issue isn’t so much with text size, though my preference is still for larger print, but rather the spacing between words. Which is why the majority of the books in my possession are hardcovers. It means that I end up spending another $5-$10 over the smaller mass market paperback version to own a book. But large print versions, which would be the most logical and obvious choice for me, are even more expensive than that! This was one of the major draws for me to getting a Kindle since I would be able to manipulate the text size and spacing. And I wouldn’t have to spend more money on an accessible version of a book.

Anyway, the final push to give in and purchase yet another electronic device was made this past weekend. For my birthday I’d gotten a set of books from Raechel and several months later I still hadn’t read them. I’d tried. Three different times, in fact. But much as I was loathe to admit it, the print was just too much of a strain on my eyes to be comfortable for to read. After searching around for a more accessible version, I discovered sadly I was out of luck as there was never a hardcover or large print version made. There was an audio cassette, which is long out of print and the only one I could find was going for $75 on eBay. What I did find, however, was that Audible has the books. And so I signed up for my free trial and got the two of the five books for free . . . and with that made my decision to order a Kindle. (Let me digress a bit here from Kindle talk because I sense a swarm of suggestions coming that I don’t want nor need. I am fully aware of the many services out there that provide blind persons books in accessible formats and I fully support them. But in this particular instance I am focusing on ownership of books that are accessible to me. I not only want to be able to read a book, I want to hold it, have it on my shelf and maybe even have it signed by the author.) Personally, I find it kind of ironic that this would be the deciding factor for me because to be honest I am not a big fan of audiobooks. I’ve always been very much of an auditory learner and I certainly embrace the accessibility they provide to readers with disabilities, but in terms of pleasure reading I enjoy not just the aesthetic of reading but the physicality of it too. And, I think the dull droning of college textbooks — and the fact that they put me to sleep — really killed off what left of any enjoyment an audiobook may have provided. So, we’ll just say that I’m humbled a bit by the realization that my future reading may incorporate far more books on tape than ever before.

As for the Kindle itself, I don’t see it fully replacing all the future hardcovers I will no doubt purchase any more than it will replace all of the books currently on my shelves. I’ve been reading a pretty constant stream of ebooks since first downloading the Kindle software in March and that hasn’t changed my mind in the least; there will always be books I want a physical copy of and there are definitely those that I own and can’t bear parting with. Since placing the order, I did go through all of my books and weed out those I can’t comfortably read. It’s not more than a tenth of the total books I own, but it’s still a pretty stunning pile.2 I’ve not yet decided what I’ll do with them all, especially those that were gifts, but I am sure they’ll find readers one way or another.

  1. If you’re experiencing déjà vu, fear not the state of your fragile mind, I did indeed have this same debate about getting an mp3 player before finally settling on my much adored iPod Touch. Of course, I’m still debating upgrading to the latest generation.
  2. 56 in total, not including the books Raechel gave me for my birthday . . . and the sad thing is my shelves don’t appear any less full!