So Much To Read…So Little Time…

From rootzwiki.com

From rootzwiki.com

I sit here at 11:28 p.m. on Saturday night, again starting #My500words post much later than I planned. I went to an event this evening that I would have liked to skip, but did not think it was a politically wise thing to do. It also didn’t help that I got myself involved in the planning for the event.

So anyway, I log into WordPress, and see the most recent post from Blogs I Follow. It’s actually from WordPress, listing some of the highlights of 2013 postings. So I’m supposed to be writing my blog entry, but this post is interesting – I want to see what’s considered a highlight, so I stop to read it. And find some things that I want to read Continue reading

Is It A Real Book If It’s On Kindle?

Screenshot of my iPad's Kindle app

Screenshot of my iPad’s Kindle app

The other day some friends and I were having a discussion about our church bulletin.  Each week we publish a bulletin that contains the order of service for the day, and the study guide for the week.  We were in agreement that members weren’t really completing the study guide, and were throwing around ideas about how we might encourage more participation.  One friend suggested that we purchase 3-ring binders, place decorative covers on them and print the study guides on 3-hole-punched paper, so that members could take them home keep them in their binders.  This suggestion was met with looks of horror and exclamations of shock. Continue reading

Random Musings of an Instagram Newbie

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Image purchased from deamstime.com

On Christmas day 2013, my cousin and a close friend literally hijacked my phone and signed me up for Instagram.  I’ve resisted joining this social network for years because (1) I felt I was too busy – I was barely keeping up with Facebook and Twitter and (2) why would I want to go around taking and posting pictures – who’d want to see my pictures anyway?  But I have lots of friends who kept bugging me to keep up, and so I gave in to the pressure.

So I’ve been an Instagram user for almost two weeks now, and I thought I’d write a little about how things have gone so far.  To my surprise, I’ve actually enjoyed it! Continue reading

The World at Your Fingertips

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[Image courtesy of suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Tonight I marveled at how the Internet has changed our lives. In the space of less than an hour, I refilled a prescription online, bought a book at Amazon and started reading it (adding highlights and notes along the way), and paid some library fines. All from the comfort of my living room, on my iPad.

Of course we can have the debate about whether Amazon is good or bad for the economy (as far as driving smaller bookstores out of business). We can talk about whether the Internet is making us less social people because I didn’t have to talk to anyone to refill that prescription and I didn’t interact with a librarian to pay my library fines. Continue reading

Smile, You’re on Candid Camera

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from jewishcurrents.org

Yesterday my husband opened an envelope from the DC government addressed to me (you’ll recall that I am horrible about checking snail mail, therefore he kindly opens mail for me that looks like it might be a bill; I believe it’s his way of protecting my credit rating – lol). Inside was one of those tickets issued by speeding cameras. The fine nearly had me fall out of my seat. It was a WHOPPING $100!!!! $100????? Shouldn’t I be able to protest this as some form of usury, highway robbery, extortion, or something???

[As I’m looking at the ticket trying to recall where I was going, hubby asks, “So did you see the camera?” Huh? My reply: “If I’d seen it, I would’ve slowed down and we wouldn’t be looking at this ticket!”]

imageBut that’s my point. Now that I know the camera is there (on DC-295 about .7 miles before Exit 1), I’ll slow down every time I get near it. Drivers do this all the time. They slam on the brakes so they drive 30mph in front of the camera and then zoom back up to 50mph as soon as they’re out of its range.

I will concede that speed cameras are a good thing near schools; we should slow down. But on major thoroughfares and highways, I think they’re a waste of time, once folk have figured out they’re there. They don’t consistently stop speeding.

These aren’t “Candid Cameras”, playing harmless practical jokes. The ticket is real and I am definitely not amused!

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Who Does Google Say You Are?

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from mashable.com

This morning I read an article about how some ritzy hotel chains Google their guests prior to arrival so they can customize the guests’ hotel experience in such a pleasant way that the guests will continue to return.

I decided to Google myself and see what people could find out about me. I discovered that there are quite a few Melissa Blakeneys and I appear to be the only African American one. My Facebook profile showed up. But my Twitter page / handle did not. A Blurb picture book I’d created a few years ago surprised me by showing up on the first page of results. Google found my main blog page: the-andrews-family.com; but this one didn’t show up. 🙂

One thing that concerned me was that pipl.com (never heard of them) listed my name, along with a username that I created in the past. Where on earth did they find that??? Links to public highlights that I saved on my Kindle showed up. radaris.com listed my correct age and various misspellings of my maiden name. It also listed ALL of my immediate family members and their ages, except my brother (he might be in the witness protection program – lol); my spouse was listed too. And it included all of the places I’ve lived – including Lithonia, GA, where I only lived for six months!!

Is this cause for concern? Even if it was, what could I do about it? It’s just another stark reminder that almost nothing about us is private anymore.

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Don’t Forget!

Dont-Forget

from admissions.vanderbilt.edu

A couple of weeks ago I came across this website – http://www.ohdontforget.com.  The concept?  Give your cell phone number, the date and time you want to be reminded about something, the message you want to be reminded about, and they’ll send you a text message reminding you about it.  And the service is free!

Why would you need this if you have a to-do app on your smartphone that sends reminders when tasks are due?  For me, unfortunately, my to-do app (Priorities)  which I LOVE, is lacking in that it doesn’t make a noise when it sends reminders.  So…if I’m not actually looking at the phone at the time the reminder pops up, I never see it.  But the reason I see others needing it is that you can use it to schedule sending text reminders to other people and not have to remember to do it yourself!!  Want to remind your husband to stop at the grocery?  Create the alert, and you don’t have to think about it again.  Want to remind your girlfriends to be on time for dinner?  Schedule the reminder, and OhDontForget will take care of it for you.

Two caveats:  the text messages come “near” the time you specify – sometimes they’re a little late.  But I think that’s a small price to pay for the convenience.  The free version also doesn’t allow you to include phone numbers in your text.  Again – a minor point.  Give it a test run!

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Google Saves the Day!

On Tuesday night, I went out to help a friend transport some stuff in our van.  We needed extra space, so Vaughn and I jalen-car-seattook the car seats out of the van.  When I got home, I tried pulling into the garage, as I normally do, and was surprised when my progress was blocked.  Yep – I’d been trying to drive over Jalen’s car seat.

Now, Jalen’s seat was already looking a bit worse for the wear – he’s had it since he was about five months old (but it’s a Sunshine Kids Radian 65: supposed to hold him until he’s at least 65 pounds – he’s not near there – or he outgrows the shoulder straps – has one more to go).  However, my attempting to drive over it with my dirty tire didn’t help matters any.  We washed it, but it still was a mess.  Probably a good time to get a new cover, I thought. I went online to look for the seat, but couldn’t find it.  Amazon didn’t have it, and I couldn’t find sunshinekids.com.  What on earth?  Google tells you everything though, and I soon realized that Sunshine Kids had changed their name to Diono.  Unfortunately, they’d discontinued the Radian65.  Now what?

Once again – Google to the rescue.  A post in a random car seat forum suggested that I call Diono and see if they had any Radian65 covers still in stock.  Brilliant!  My new cover (got the same color!) ships soon.  As you can see – we really need it!  🙂

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Dentists and Text Messages

dentist-smsThis morning, I got a text message from my children’s dentist reminding me about their upcoming appointment.  I was really happy about this because for some reason I’d not put it on my calendar.  So the reminder was great.  The dentist’s office wouldn’t know this, but by sending me a text, they ensured that I got the reminder.  I am awful, horrible, ridiculously bad, <insert adjective here> about checking snail mail.  Somehow, it all piles up, and then gets dumped into bags and put in the study for me to go through “later”.  So I most likely would have missed a reminder postcard.

I also was able, recently, to schedule an appointment with a new doctor using an online app the doctor was signed up with called ZocDoc.  It was the easiest thing – I got to see when the doctor was available (all available slots), and pick the time that worked for me.  I was even told that the doctor I initially wanted to see didn’t accept my insurance, and they helpfully provided a list of doctors in the area that did (with ratings).  About 10 minutes after I scheduled the appointment, the office called to verify my information – confirming for me that the appointment actually went there and wasn’t floating in ether-land somewhere.

I am developing an appreciation for vendors who connect with me by making use of technology that I’m already using (and addicted to). 🙂

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I Didn’t Think About the iPad

We’ve been taking the boys to swimming classes at Kids First Swim School. Joshua’s in the Mommy & Me class and Jalen just started level 3.

For previous classes, they’ve gone on different days, but for some reason, I thought it would be smart to sign them up for the same day. So off we go – Jalen’s got his class at 6 and Joshua’s is at 6:30 p.m. Should be fine right? Except that once I get there, I realize that Jalen’s going to have to dry and change himself by himself once his class is finished, because I’ll be in the water with Joshua (Mommy & Me – remember?).

Things worked out this evening because Daddy stopped by after work. But for future classes, I’m worrying – not so much about Jalen changing his clothes; I think he’ll figure it out. I’m worried because my iPad is used as entertainment for the boy who is currently not in the water. This means I would have to leave said iPad with a wet Jalen and hope that (1) he won’t drop it (2) he won’t soak it with water or (3) someone won’t swipe it while he’s changing.  Sigh.

Oh well – I have a week to help them understand that we will no longer use the iPad when we’re at swimming class.

That’s right. I’m the mommy and it’s *my* iPad! 🙂

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