technology

Shopping

Shopping is far from one of my favorite things to do.  I have become miserably inept at it, as a matter of fact!  I often think some of the smartest shoppers are those who frequently glean the ads from stores, planning a stategy,  and then venturing forth, knowing exactly what they are looking to purchase.  I guess that requires a good bit of logic, and I fail when it comes to such sensible purchasing power.  I am, it seems, a sucker.  I am the one that large corporations hire expensive marketing people to lure….easily swayed by verbiage and packaging that a savvy shopper would pooh-pooh!

There, I’ve said it! 

Mark, on the other hand, is one of those shopping elite, who spends hours researching and reading not only marketing blurbs, but also reading customer reviews.  He is able to weigh claims to cold, hard facts and formulate his own theory.  Mark is able to cut through the balogna and buy with confidence.  Oh how marketing must shudder seeing a well-educated shopper like Mark!

After doing much research,  we went out shopping today for a snowmobile.  There are four major manufacturers from which to shop-Arctic Cat,  Polaris, Ski-Doo, and Yamaha.  Mark and I found a brand new holdover sled that we thought would make a nice second sled for the kids and me.   It was an Arctic Cat with a small engine and one of the large dealers had it listed.

Mark and Ben had a quick bite to eat at McDonald’s before checking out our first stop. Ben laughed as we pulled into a parking spot while he and Mark ate.   This pair of gulls had found a perfect resting place to check out customers who might have a tidbit for the scavengers.  Ben said at least the car was white…

We arrived at the dealer’s shortly before lunch time this morning.  We strolled out back where the snowmobiles are stored and began looking at their inventory.  Now, Mark, Ben, and I were all looking together.  We sat on several models,  looked under the cowls at engines,  and asked a lot of questions.  The net result of visiting this dealership was that the salesman was full of hot air.  And himself.  We unanimously agreed that this dealership was nearly falsifying information to get customers inside their doors.  This stop was not without some good, though, as Mark also sat on some machines and reformulated his thinking on what might be best for his needs.

Mark said there was another dealer not too far from the first and he wanted to check them out as well.  This dealership was much more palatable.  Although selling older machines that were used, there was no air of balogna and the salesman,  who just also happens to be the owner,  was truthful and to the point.  He seemed almost cold,  but without a lot of words,  we knew he wasn’t stretching the truth.  He allowed the integrity of his inventory to speak for itself. 

After our second stop,  we stopped in the small town of Spencerport briefly while Mark fiddled with the GPS.

I’ve mentioned before how valuable I find storyboards located along points of interest.  This one provided information once again…I never knew why Rochester was termed the “flour city”.  Matter of fact,  I wasn’t even sure if it was “flour” or “flower”!   Well, thanks to this sotryboard,  I am now the wiser!

I love that one can get a self-guided education! Boy, would it be fun to drive the length of the Erie Canal and stop in all the towns.  I think one could reap a wealth of information! 

You might have noticed from my photos that today was dismal, dreary,  and drizzly!  I think it might have even qualified for the Scottish term “dreich”,  as it was also chilly and well, miserable!  Perhaps it wouldn’t have seemed so bad if I hadn’t had a headache.  This wasn’t just a headache, but felt like someone had placed visegrips on more than one point on my head!

We stopped at Taco Bell for lunch,  hoping some food would lessen the throbbing I was experiencing.  Taco Bell has these ridiculous lunches for $2.00.  I like one that comes with a gordita.  I got the $2.00 lunch which also included a soda and a small bag of Doritos. 

Eating was so satisfying and I chuckled as I munched, thinking this food was like comfort food.  I was almost convinced the headache was going away!  Then, when my food was all gone,  I realized I was still hungry!  This caused me to do something I have never, ever done before!  I actually ate a second gordita and bag of chips, giving Mark my soda! 

We had one more stop to look at a snowmobile Mark had found on Craig’s list,  being offered by an individual.  This was a bit of a drive,  and so I closed my eyes in the back seat and relaxed. 

We arrived and the young man selling the machine brought it around on the grass so we could see it.  He pulled up near Mark and as soon as the machine stopped,  out hopped a little field mouse with a wee baby attached!  Mark said it almost looked like the mouse was giving birth,  but it might have been nursing.  In any event,  the mouse ran under a car and hid. 

Lucky me to have had my camera all ready to go! By the time I kneeled down on the wet ground to photograph the tiny duo,  Mrs. Mouse had picked up her youngster in her mouth and was darting about, trying to find a safe place!

The young man selling this particular machine was honest and very willing to show his machine, even mentioning things that needed to be attended to, as he hadn’t driven the unit last year.  Mark chatted with this fellow for quite a while and as they spoke,  the rain picked up and turned from drizzle to actual rainfall.

It was an interesting day out-interesting seeing people at their best. And worst!  All in all, it was a day in which we learned some and realized one can never really shop solely by research, nor recommendation!  It was a day when Mark and Ben learned lots of new things.  And me?  Why, yes!  I might just have become a better shopper myself!

Since it Looks Like I Am Only Writing to Myself…

I will share something that happened yesterday that is too funny!

I have said on this blog before that I love technology.  Yeah, I know.  Crazy, isn’t it?  I admit, though, that I  do enjoy reading about what friends are doing on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs.  I like reading email in between working around the house.  I often check on my cell phone to see if anyone has made a comment on a blog post. So, where is all of this leading?

Yesterday,  after dropping Ben off at school, Mark and I decided to just relax as we didn’t have anything pressing to do.  This is a rare treat, so I suggested we might park out on the pier and enjoy the lovely weather.  Mark agreed.

We were on the pier a short time when sleep overwhelmed me.  Yes, I was totally overcome by sleepiness and I leaned my seat back and drifted off. (Lest one should judge me wrongly, I was up until 12:30 the night before, reading.  Then, Murphy, for some inexplicable reason, decided to awaken me at 3:30 am.  To compound matters further, I was unable to go back to sleep!)  Can you imagine falling asleep in the truck, breathing in fresh lakeside air?  It was divine! I was suddenly awakened by Mark jiggling my arm.  I can’t remember the sequence of events,  but I heard a loud noise next to us and my cell phone was ringing.

I answered my phone and Mark motioned for me to get out of the truck to take the call from Michelle.  Now, remember, I had been asleep and was rather disoriented by Mark “kicking me out” of the truck.  I hopped out the door and clambered to a picnic table located across the street to speak with Michelle.

Mark was on the phone in the truck with an insurance agent,  getting prices, and with two people talking on cell phones in small confines,  it makes conversations nearly impossible. I sat outside and waited.  Then I got this brilliant idea to grab my camera and go for a nice little walk.  Which I did….

I was strolling about, making the most of my great photo shooting op, when Mark whistled to let me know he was off the phone.  I (casually) made my way back to the truck only to realize it was nearly time for us to pick the kids up.

Now, let me explain.  Mark had his laptop plugged into the inverter,  his cell plugged into the cigarette lighter, and my cell phone plugged into the USB connector on the inverter.   When I climbed back into the truck, there were cords everywhere!  What a mess! 

Mark cleared his “toys”…er, mobile office up a bit, then turned the key in the ignition.  C-L-I-C-K.  Umm….he turned it once again.  C-L-I-C-K.  Oh my.  He turned it one more time.  c-l-i-c-k. 

Yes, the battery was drained. Dead. Nada!  Mark opened his wallet and pulled out his AAA card.  He called the number on the card and the phone rang.  A girl answered and asked how she could help.  Mark began to answer and I began to giggle.  My giggling caused Mark to burst into giggles and he had to immediately hang the phone up.  We both sat and laughed until Mark looked at the clock and said we needed to get the kids shortly!

I more or less voluntarily left the truck again so Mark could make this call without giggling…..after all, what would the girl at the other end think?  It just seemed so hysterical that Mark and all his “gadgets” would drain the battery in the summer! (particularly on a warm and sunny day!)  Technology…so wonderful, but draining!  Literally!

The call was made and a garage despatched.  Mark got a call saying the fellow driving a FLATBED would be there soon. Well, we no sooner got off the phone when the aforementioned flatbed came into sight with a silver car on its bed. 

The guy cheerfully greeted Mark,  who popped the hood of the truck.  The guy already had a “supercharger” in his hand and as soon as he clipped the wires on, he told Mark to try and turn ‘er over.  V-room!  Instant start!  The guy took the charger off and closed the hood. 

Mark mentioned that he had seen the silver car on the flatbed driving down the pier just a short time before with what looked like the starter hanging out and the front end smashed!  The guy smiled and confided the driver had no idea how it happened, but it happened on the pier!  Mark later told me the loud noise I heard was “parts” dragging from the car after its accident.  Mark thinks the fellow drove up over the curb or some such thing.

We all laughed and our guy turned and wished us a good evening. No charge as he was already on the pier!

Well, after such a blessing….the AAA guy being right there and getting to us in time so the kids didn’t have to wait….we laughed all the way home!

Retreat to the Hills

After spending a few very pleasant hours at Ganondagan last Sunday, when I arrived home, the kids had made plans to meet some of their friends in Naples.  Mark asked if I wanted to ride along.  At first,  I was reluctant.  I was kind of tired after spending time walking around a good part of the day.  When Mark mentioned he wanted to take me for a ride into the hills,  well, how could I resist?

The Wonderful World of Cell

Cell phones, that is!

I got a new HTC Touch Pro 2 awhile back and have recently been experimenting with the camera on the phone.  The one drawback to the camera is that is has no flash on it.  Interesting concept,  but thus far,  I have not missed it at all.  I love natural lighting and I believe sometimes it can be used to cause the casual observer to look more intently, drawing said looker in!

I have been posting  my mobile photos in Facebook, as it is so incredibly easy to do.  After I take the photo, I merely poke at the screen a couple times with my finger, and voila!  My photos appear on Facebook!  I can probably do so here on my blog, but I’ve not figured that out….quite yet!  I am having a great deal of fun using my phone, though!

Another cool feature of the phone is that when I am talking to someone,  I can place the phone face down and it automatically switches to speakerphone, meaning I can use it hands-free.  And, (I found this so fascinating!) while it is in this mode, if I pick the phone up and pull the stylus out of the side,  up pops “Notes” so I can onveniently write down notes as I am talking.  Come on…how cool is that?

Okay, so those of you with Facebook,you have seen these photos and I apologize.  For those *not* on Facebook, here are my photos taken with my wonderful cell.  Oh, and guess what,  I get to use this tiny gadget to upload the photos from my cell’s mini SD card. (I set the key next to the card reader to show just how tiny it is!)

I know this phone will never take the place of my cameras, but it sure is fun playing with it!

My, oh My!

A couple weeks ago, Mark’s cell phone kinda bit the dust!  He had the phone replaced last year and at the time, our (old) phones were no longer being manufactured, so he received a remanufactured one.  I also had problems, so I got mine replaced as well.  Long story short,  Mark kept getting phones that were worse than the previous one.  When the phone’s screen went black, he called Sprint and they (finally) replaced his phone with a newer model.

My three-year-old HTC Mogul has some problems, but they seem minor, compared to Mark’s blatant problems, so I just lived with them. Well, when Mark got his new Touch Pro 2,  my eyes went green!  Yes, I began to covet his phone.

Mark, being a fair man, called Sprint and asked if I might get my phone replaced as well.  Well, the woman gave us a great deal, so *my* new phone arrived yesterday!

This is a grubby photo of this most awesome phone, but you can see its “face” is all screen! (The back of the phone is all speaker, so the phone can be placed face down on the console of the truck or Explorer and used hands-free.) I love it! Goodbye old phone.  Goodbye I-pod.  This phone can do so many terrific things and Mark just keeps finding more and more applications.  Something tells me that tiny Micro SD card will need an upgrade from 4 gig to 16 gig.  Or maybe even 32 gig! 

If you don’t hear from me for awhile, have no fear! I am just getting to know the new phone a bit better!!

Sign of the Times?

The past couple of months, we have noticed trucks from the phone company up in Rochester working on the lines.  We have also seen contractors from another company with huge spools of bright orange cable working along our road.  Well, Mark is so excited!

We currently have our phone, television, and internet through a cable company.  Well, all this bright orange “stuff” points to “Fios” or fiber-optic cable.  Mark is over the moon!  The fiber-optics are supposed to be much more efficient and faster as well!

Now, when will they “hook up” all that bright orange cable they buried?

Spending Time at the Mall..

But not like you would think!

The kids wanted to go shopping today, so after helping Mark in the garage this morning, we got some blankets, activities, and the Scotties, and headed northward to Victor. The kids agreed to meet some of their friends,  so they told us to pick them up in about four hours. 

Mark drove around the parking lot looking for the “perfect” spot….The winds howled today and our moerate temperatures dropped to nearly startlingly cold.  We won’t discuss wind chill because I am sure it was mighty cold out there!  Mark wondered how we would survive in the truck,  but I told him not to fear. After all, we packed some blankets! He did find the perfect spot, too.  In a parking lot that isn’t really used much, there was a mountain of snow at the edge of a steep grade.  With the pile in front of us and the hill protecting us on two sides, we were parked in a small cove!

Mark sat in the front seat with Angus and I hopped into the back to keep Murphy company.  I had brought along my little netbook and some knitting, so I was all set to get comfortable!  The Scotties each had his own little bed so we were all getting settled in quite comfortably, thank you!

Of course, Angus had to check out the scenery before he could relax…

The snow fell continuously the entire time we were waiting, but the winds quickly dispersed it before it could light! At times, the snow was literally coming down horizontally…

And we remained safe, warm and dry in our cozy space.

I got out the netbook and played awhile, visiting Scotland….(hi Bill!)

And Syracuse….(hi Terri!)

And I visited some more blogs. 

Mark put a movie on his laptop and we watched that.   We really do live at an incredible time, technologically.

The time seemed to fly by as we enjoyed our little living room on wheels.  Soon, I could see the security lights shining in through the ice-frosted windows.

I did go into BJ’s for a little while to pick up a few items and I also got Mark a Subway sub for dinner.  How thoughtful of Subway to make it so convenient to grab something to eat!

The clock soon said seven and we were off to the mall to pick up the shoppers.

The drive home was hairy at times with blowing, drifting snow all over the road.  As Mark put the truck into four-wheel drive,  Michelle and I marvelled at the sound of snow crunching under the tires as we made our way home.  We have not heard that sound in a long time!

 All in all,  I think Mark and the Scotties would agree….what a lovely little diversion this was!

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

Uh oh!

Since my post earlier this week regarding the “land of too much”, I have been going through a lot of “stuff” trying to decide how best to put it to use.  (eradicate it!!!)  Michelle,  being a rather keen student of observation,  has been watching my antics with some interest.  And so……

Late this afternoon,  she came wandering into the bedroom.

Mom, since you are getting rid of stuff, do you *really* wanna save this?

As she made her entrance into the room,  I looked up in sheer disbelief,  thinking “this” was long gone from our home!

our first digital camera.small

Purchased early in 1999, this was our first digital camera! It was a Kodak DC210 and when Mark introduced me to the world of digital imaging,  I was over the moon!  To be able to shoot a photo, then immediately print it was just beyond my imaginings!   I had no idea the impact digital photography would have in the lives of people all around the world!  To print images is one thing, but to be able to trasmit them from a computer right away was incredible!

back of kodak camera.small

I was trying to think where we went from this camera. It would have been the Olympus c-5050 zoom from which I hopped into the world of D-SLR’s with the Nikon D-80. 

Wow.  It is simply mind-boggling how photography has progressed with the advent of point-and-shoot cameras, which then made the transition to digital models. 

I had to smile, remembering the old Kodak.  We would use four “Double A” size batteries in that camera.  We were lucky if the batteries didn’t die before we took maybe 20 photos!  I remember when we purchased the Olympus;  when I took 40 or 50 photos and the batteries were still going on,  I was awestruck!

Yup, the Kodak camera is now sitting in the bedroom.  It is unnerving the memories that silly big old clunky camera carries with it!  The kids were so little when we bought it and I still remember many of the photos in my mind’s eye.  Ah, memories, memories! 

Now the reality.  What does one do with one silly big old clunky camera, after all?

Decisions and Rethinking!

Yes, I have been thinking!

I thought I was going to be completely satisfied with the Nikon D-90 I tentatively bought last month.  Gads, I loved that camera and the photos it took.  It was awesome.  However…..

Mark has done so much research regarding cameras and he always enjoys a good hunt for the lowest price.  The Nikon D-90 is a much newer model and a considerably better camera than my D-80.  The place where we purchased the camera allows customers 30 days to try out merchandise and if they aren’t satisfied, they may return the merchandise.  And so, I reluctantly (gasp!) packed the D-90 back into its original packaging and said “so long” to it.

The other day, I decided to give a Nikon D-40 a good try.  The Nikon D-40 is a more “entry-level”  D-SLR that costs about 1/2 the price of the D-90.   Of course, the one I bought was purchased at WalMart, so it might not have been the very “best” price. 

I opened the box and charged the battery right away.  Upon putting the camera together,  it was amazing how much smaller and lighter the D-40 is than the D-80.  It really is kind of “cute”. So, how did it perform? The following are some photos of my plant life gracing the front porch and back deck…

love-this-begoniasmall

the-incredible-fuchsiasmall

and-new-begoniassmall

can-almost-taste-emsmall

the-return-of-blue-skiessmall

Mark always kind of laughed about me looking at Ken Rockwell’s site as he reviews both Canon and Nikon cameras. He is a photographer who has such marvelous photos on his site.  Well,  many of the photos of his kids were taken with none other than a Nikon D-40!  He loves this camera so much and claims it is actually “fun” because it is so lightweight and easy to use.  If you go to his website,  click on the link for Ryan Rockwell. (his little son)  There are some super fantastic pool photos taken with a D-40 just a couple of days ago and they are fabulous.

I still would love to have the Nikon D-90 because it is a real treat to use,  but for now,  I am thinking perhaps the low cost D-40 might serve me well.  With the economy looking a little off-kilter at the moment,  I would rather spend less on camera equipment.  The worst part about purchasing digital cameras is the moment after one lays down their hard-earned cash on the counter and steps out the door, the depreciation factor begins chopping away at the value of the equipment….I am thinking I might just patiently await the price of the D-90 to drop, even if it is months from now. I have no great urgency!

On another note, the woodpecker babies mentioned in my last post have become so vocal,  Michelle and I discussed the fact we are thankful the “host tree” is situated far beyond the house.  Those babies are LOUD!  The poor adult woodpecker(s) are seen flying back and forth constantly as the squawking brood literally screams out for “more”!  The noise seems only to subside during the night hours.

I heard on the radio today that we have received almost four inches of rain this June.  I am certainly not complaining, as we have had our well go belly-up in dry weather, requiring water to be delivered.  That makes me so upset, but Mark explains it is far cheaper than paying to have a drilled well put in.  For now, our skies began clearing early this evening and we are promised a few dry days with warmer temperatures.