On Notes, Ink, Postcards, & Peace Camp

Funny how the first three title subjects have something to do with writing, and yet for the purposes of this post, it’s the most tenuous of threads…

The Note(s)
My Note 7 showed up on Wednesday to brighten up a rather gray week, and it is everything I hoped it would be and more. I love it, and though I still have a few things to get working correctly (like photos saving to Dropbox, etc), it’s functioning mostly like the Note 3 did. I factory-reset the Note 3 for my husband, who is actually using it to make lists and such, which is impressive. So we’ll see if he gets as much utility out of such a handy device as I do or not.


The screen is especially beautiful and clear, and the camera is pretty awesome too. Great low-light photos…they weren’t kidding!

It took the better part of an evening to get everything transferred over, and then part of another to get all my passwords put in (and I’m still not sure I have them all yet). Then there’s tweaking the settings for things, and turning notifications on and off, and figuring out the blue-light filter (which is awesome, because it makes the screen so much easier on my eyes). I can, indeed read on this screen with the filter on, which is awesome.

Fun, fun, but time consuming. Between that and work, the rest of the week flew right by.

The Ink
Saturday I got one of the two tattoos planned…there wasn’t time for two, but Andrew did a really amazing job on my barn spider in just an hour and a half. Meet Earl…Charlie’s new “arm-mate”:


Isn’t he cool? He’s still a bit swollen (takes 3-4 days for the swelling to go down), but I can’t wait to see how he turns out once he’s all healed. I’ll go back in two weeks to get my grasshopper/ladybug on the upper side of my wrist, and then I’ll let this arm heal for several months before doing anything else with it.

One more tattoo on the inside of my other forearm, and that will be it for this year. Fun stuff!

The Postcards
Then Sunday, I finally sat down and got several postcards ready to mail out. One for my own postcard exchange, and seven for Postcrossing exchanges. Apparently there are a lot of postcard collectors/swappers in Russia, because every one of the names I drew this time are from there. Hopefully next time I can draw a better mix? Not that it matters too much, I suppose…I sent them all a small bit of Montana.


Peace Camp
So when I sat down last night to write this post, I had the TV on for noise (the dogs are used to it being on in the evenings, so they settle better when things are “normal”). I turned the channel to PBS World, figuring it’s normally politics and world news, so there wouldn’t be too much to grab my attention. Alas, I should have left it on a stupid sit-com or something, because it ended up being a documentary on this Peace Camp that brought together a group of girls from different parts of the middle east and basically worked with them on learning how to communicate, and how to respect other people’s beliefs even when you know you won’t agree, and how to be okay with that in a non-violent way.

It was fascinating, and it followed the lives of these girls for quite a few years after and how some of them struggled to keep in touch, and never gave up trying to communicate and come together. I couldn’t help but think that we all could use more of that – face-to-face time in small groups of people who believe differently, moderated so no one group can gang up on the other, with exercises that make us admit to/acknowledge the “human-ness” of the people on the other side of the wall, so to speak.

Kids need this. All kids, in my opinion. These were teens when they started, and I think that’s the perfect time to really instill that respect for other humans, especially those who disagree with our personal beliefs/philosophies.

I have more to say on the matter, but will wait until I can distill it into a less chaotic set of thoughts in my own head and give it a separate post. The documentary really made me think though, and gave me hope for future generations even in the midst of such unrest. I’m glad I got distracted by it, even if it did make this post late.

The Plan
Sneaking in one more section here – I’ve been seriously slacking lately. Too much unproductive time, which just leads to more unproductive time and less productive thinking. It’s a bad downward spiral that I really want to spin the other way. So I’m working on not just being more productive this week, but also giving certain projects less time. Which sounds counter-productive, but the less time I have to work on something, the more focused I am while I’m working on it and in a lot of cases, I get more done because of that.

So the hope is to get more done on the projects I need to get done during the week, leaving more time on the weekends for stuff I do just for enjoyment (without the guilt). Call it an experiment. Hopefully a productive one…

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“Pretty-Shinys” and Crow-Like Behavior

Luckily for me, crows are also very smart birds, so comparing myself to one isn’t completely derogatory. But my love of bright, shiny things is a serious issue sometimes. I have such a hard time resisting the pull…

I’ve been lusting after the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 ever since pictures started to leak months ago. For those who don’t know, I’ve been using a Galaxy Note 3 as a data-only device since shortly after my beloved Palm Pilots went obsolete (I had a brief dalliance with a small tablet, but the pocket-sized format is just so much more portable). In order to “hack” the cell system and get data-only, I got a Verizon Jetpack Hotspot from Amazon with a data plan, and once it was activated, I put the sim card into my Note 3. Voila! Data only cell connection. Works great!

Why data only? Because I’m not all that fond of phone conversations, and I don’t want people calling me when I’m out and about and expecting me to…you know…answer. It’s odd, but when you have a landline and don’t answer, people just assume that you’re out or busy. If you have a cell and don’t answer, they tend to take it more personally. Stupid, but true.

I do respond to texts and Facebook messages pretty quickly for the most part. So it’s not like I’m a total miscreant when it comes to being accessible.

In any case, Samsung’s devices are not cheap, and while I bought my Note 3 outright (an unlocked version used off Swappa), I didn’t really want to spend nearly $1k up front for a new Note 7. Since I have no plans to leave Verizon anytime soon (very reliable around here, though expensive), I figured I’d just buy the Note 7 from them on a monthly plan, and add it to my current data-only plan.

Alas, Verizon is too smart for that, and they would not let me buy the phone without “upgrading” to a new smartphone plan. Dang it. But the pull of the shiny was too strong to resist, and after talking myself through the logic that I could just turn off the call ringtone and not answer actual phone calls (unless I really, really need to for some reason), I went ahead and capitulated like the gadget-loving-crow I am. *sigh*

I figured I could at least keep the data-only plan for my old Note 3, and give that to my husband so he’ll have data and texting too. But Verizon was not playing around, and they went ahead and just upgraded my current sim card to a secondary smartphone line (probably because it was in my Note 3 – I should have put it back in the JetPack before starting this process). So now I have (or I will, when my Note 7 gets here next week) two smartphones with unlimited talk (which will be severely underused, given how little my husband and I actually use the phone) and text (which I’ll use, but I doubt my husband will much, if at all), and 4 GB of shared data for about double what I was paying before with data-only.

And all I really wanted was two smartphones with data-only (texting with Google works just fine for free). I don’t understand why that’s so difficult. No different than a wifi hotspot. Though now both phones do work for that too, which will be handy when Charter goes out here at the house (handier than having to take the sim card out of the cell and put it back in the hotspot, I mean).

I suppose I could call my hair stylist again to set up appointments if I want. Her cell number is her only phone, and it’s long distance, which I don’t carry on our landline (because we never need it). But texting her works well enough, so I’ll probably continue doing that.

I wonder if I can set up specific ringtones just for a few numbers, and then have all the rest silent? Anyone who uses a cell phone know? Immediate family and a couple people at work are really the only people who might ever need to get a hold of me while I’m out and about. I could set ringtones for them (those would be rare calls anyways), silence everyone else, and have the best of both worlds.

In any case, I will soon have a lovely new Blue Coral Galaxy Note 7, and it will be useful in all the ways my Note 3 is now for organization, email and internet “stuff”, and it will have an even better camera, and improved note/stylus functions, and those are the most important things to me. Exciting, I tell ya. So shiny it almost hurts. 🙂

It’s too bad I’m not fond of reading on a backlit screen, because the Note 7 curved edges would provide a nice frame for e-reading. Maybe I’ll try it again. I have a kindle backlog like you wouldn’t believe, because I’ve been reading predominantly print lately.

Is there really anything more fun than new gadgetry?

Tattoos may be a close second…and I have an appointment for two more smallish ones coming up this Saturday. So that will be fun too. Pictures next week…

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Monday Musings: On Long Distance, Cell Phones & Changing Communication Methods…

One of the major things on my to-do list last week was to schedule a hair cut. You’d think this would be an easy enough task, but my stylist has a cell phone with a long distance number, which actually adds a level of complexity that most people wouldn’t even consider.

See, when I moved out of my parents house around 15 years ago, and got my own landline, I never bothered to have long distance service put on it. It was an extra expense, and while I did have one friend who lived out of town that I called occasionally, I never needed it otherwise, so it was cheaper to just use a pre-paid phone card. When I got married, my husband had no need for long distance either, so we left it off at the new house too. Keeps our landline bill at around $32 a month.

Yes, I’m a bad relative. I never call my out of town relatives (my parents, sister, and in-laws all live here in town), and now virtually everyone has email and/or facebook (and my grandma writes actual hand-written letters). Businesses generally have a toll-free number to call, or better yet, an email address. So I still have no real need for long distance phone service. The salon my stylist used to work at always had someone there to answer the phone and make appointments, so I could just call the salon.

Not so this new salon. You must leave a message, and if you are lucky enough to catch someone, they can’t make an appt. for another stylist. So the best way to make any appt. is to get a hold of your stylist directly…and mine has a long distance cell number. I don’t think many people even think in terms of “long distance calling” anymore, do they? Since cell service generally comes with unlimited calling everywhere?

You see my problem. I do have a Google Voice number for IP calls, but they still cost money so I…don’t. And considering the rumblings on Google trying to fold Voice into hangouts, I’m hesitant to give that number out for much, though it is handy for free texting via my cell-with-no-voice-service. My family *loves* the fact that I can text now. It is pretty darn convenient at times…

I finally did get a hold of my stylist Friday at the salon, and miraculously, she had time to fit me in on Saturday. I reminded her once again that I can’t call her cell, and then it occurred to me that I *could* text her…and asked if that would be okay. She said yes, so now next time I need a haircut, I’ll text for an appointment. Crazy how times change…

I told my husband it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get by without a mobile number – even my bank wants a mobile number to text confirmation codes and web site pins to before they’ll even let you get into your accounts (I complained before I was able to get texts, and they came up with a way for us luddites to get one through our landlines, but it’s still a pain in the butt). Thing is, it isn’t difficult at all for him, because while he may work in tech, he doesn’t do anything online but surf, shop & play games, so he doesn’t run into the issue.

Interestingly though, it’s been easier for me to sort of “keep up” with the changing way that people communicate just by getting a cell phone – even though I don’t have voice service. A tablet is too unwieldy to carry in a pocket, so it’s still not optimal for “always on” communication. But I can take my cell out of its case and put it in my pocket, and get texts from my family or FB messages from people who need to contact me in “real time” (like people who are dropping by to pick things up that I’m giving away or selling, or publishing contacts) while still being free to move about and do whatever. People can contact me through FB messenger (the app everyone loves to hate – I happen to love it) even if they aren’t friends with me on FB, and it doesn’t get shunted off into some “others” folder like it does on the web site, it just comes straight to me, which is handy.

In any case, I’m slowly being lured into the cell phone culture, but my husband’s main point against getting full cell service is well made – it’s extraordinarily rare for me to actually talk on the phone. Last week was an exception, as one of my dogs was very ill and I had lots of conversations with the vet’s office (he’s much better now, thanks – and my wallet is much lighter), but otherwise, I use the phone pretty much once a week to chat with my mom. Other than that, I really have no need of actual phone service. So it would be stupid of me to pay for a service I’ll use so rarely – especially when I refuse to give up my landline (in case of major, catastrophic emergency…the landline works even when the power is out!).

But the idea of unlimited messaging to go with my data access is rather alluring. Even though I really don’t text all that much either. Honestly, I don’t *need* anything more than what I have right now, which is 4g data access and free texing/FB messaging. But the gadgety goodness aspect of it all is getting harder to resist…much to my poor hubby’s chagrin.


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