Friday, March 16, 2018

Pumpkins Vs. Petals

St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow. Why am I writing a post called "Pumpkins Vs. Petals"? Because I have been in a rut lately. A rut that doesn't happen in the autumn. But, it happens now. A motivational rut. Why was it so much easier in October then it is now? That's the question I had for a skein of yarn before.

Okay, I'm not that crazy. I didn't literally ask a skein of yarn "why do projects go so much faster in the fall then they do in the spring?" But, I was looking at a skein of yarn when I had the thought. I didn't expect an answer from the yarn.

I have a few crochet and knit projects that I am either working on, or have planned. The hot pads are part of a four season project I am working on. Spring and fall are completed.

In progress:

1. Cable Knit scarf for Josh (regular wear) 1/2 way done.
2. Triple Crochet scarf for Josh (when shoveling snow, it's harder on these things) only a little done.
3. Cats Crocheted Toddler Girl blanket for a charity my mom works for (1/2 way done).

Planned but not started:

1. Cats Crocheted Toddler Boy blanket for the charity my mom works for
2. Diagonal Crocheted hot pad: Summer (waiting on yarn)
3. Diagonal Crocheted hot pad: Winter (waiting on yarn)

In the fall I was able to spend an average of 4 - 6 hours a day on projects. They went so quickly! So, why is it so hard now? After brainstorming on facebook with a knitting group I am in, I have a few theories.

1. I have done a lot of projects lately. I did take a break. Maybe I just need more of a break!

2. The issues started around when Zach's basketball practices started in November. I had been predictable about when I would work on them. Then new schedule threw things off.

3. These are all things used in November - March. It's easy to be motivated in the fall. They will be needed soon. In March, you have what you need for that year. It won't be done in time for the current  year. So you have six months before crunch time.

When I had the same rut about a month ago the problem was skill level. I was ready for more challenging projects. I had moved up in my abilities. But, most of these projects are using new skills or patterns. They aren't too hard or too easy. I do enjoy working on them while working on them. I just have trouble being motivated to work on them!

A lot of crafty people are like that. We have times we thrive and get a lot of projects out. Then, we have times when we want to do something. It just seems to take forever to complete something that shouldn't take that long. I would imagine it's like that for those who do woodworking, painting, and photography too. This happens with a lot of different things.

Pumpkins verses petals. Each represent different times of year. Each time of year has their charms. It's easier to be motivated to do different things during each time of year. But, pumpkins win the needlepoint battle! At least petals have the gardening battle covered! Enough snow has melted to enjoy some of my daylily and daffodil sprouts! I love my fall garden, but, fighting the forging squirrels takes away from it in the fall!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Today, March 14, 2018 at 10:00am, high school students across the country walked out of school for 17 minutes. One for each life lost in the Parkland shooting a month ago. Some will be disciplined. Some won't be. But, these students give me hope for the future.

There was talk about this right after the shooting. So, I emailed the school superintendent. I explained that even though my third grader wouldn't be included, I think this should be allowed without punishment. I also told him I think the police should be there for safety. As they are with any protest or march.

I wasn't the only parent supporting this. This morning I am proud of the students in my town who participated. They had talked about it with the high school principal first. Because of that, they knew they wouldn't get into trouble and the police would be able to be there for safety. If I was a kid, I would have joined them. If Zach was in high school, I would have encouraged him to join them.

To me, it's silly to say these kids would be punished for participating. Parents could sign them out at 10am and return them to school 17 minutes later. Legally pulling them out of school for that time. The common concern was safety. That is why I am grateful that my town planned ahead and arranged for the police to be there. Any town could have done that. Now they risk lawsuits for impeding first amendment rights.

I don't know why 10am was the selected time. The shooting happened at the end of the school day. Maybe because it's the one time every kids in the entire country is expected to be in school. When it reached 10am in your time zone, protesting kids walked.

Common thought, "they just wanted to get out of class". I'm sure some kids thought like that. But, that's why we needed to educate them before hand about what was actually happening. That they would be using their feet to say "I want stronger gun safety laws so I can feel safe at school!" They needed to understand the weight of what they would be doing.

Today, at 10am I was walking around Kohl's for exercise. Lap six, last lap. I saw the time and thought about these kids and how proud I am of them. These are things we should have done after Columbine. I read this morning that Columbine was one of the schools participating with encouragement from their principal.

Today, at 10AM, history was made.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Lion Roars

Starting on Wednesday, March 7th Zach had 3 snow days in a row. He officially will have one less day of spring break. It brought to mind the October snowstorm we had about five years ago. With the same problem we had back then..........climate change.

The branches on trees and shrubs are soft most of the year. They slowly harden in the fall and are stiff for the winter. That is how they can withstand a foot of snow in winter without braking. Once it warms up, they soften again. They take their cues from the climate. But, when the climate is too warm for several days before it's supposed to be, they soften too soon. Then they can't handle it when the climate goes back to normal.

That October the branches hadn't hardened yet. So when we got a lot of snow, a lot of large limbs fell tearing down power lines, causing day long blackouts. Schools were closed for days and Halloween trick or treating was rescheduled for November 2nd.

That's what happened now. But, the reverse. We had two weeks of unusually spring-like weather. Multiple days in the 50s and 60s without dipping below freezing at night. I had a day in February where I wore short sleeves outside without a jacket or sweater! That's how warm in got! So, nature assumed it was almost spring. Flowers started to sprout, buds appeared on branches, and those same branches started to soften.

But, March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. We just have to suffer through a whole lot of lion first. That lion roared a lot this past week! Hence the foot of snow on Wednesday. That's after a snow/rain mix the Friday before.

We saw the flashing orange and yellow. A transformer had blown on a nearby street. We had a couple of brownouts then the oddest blackout. Some rooms in the apartment had power, some didn't. One room had power in odd places. Example, no power for the stove but the light switch a foot away to it's right worked! Among other oddities.

Thursday afternoon we got full power. However, we had a few brown outs since then. Thursday morning, still mostly in the dark, we packed to stay over at my parent's house. On Thursday evening I brought the stuff home and we stayed here instead.

Suddenly, something that looked OCD excessive proved smart! I insist on keeping several flashlights in key places around the apartment. Places were we are often nearby. That way, if we loose power, we don't have to travel far to get to a flashlight. Less risk for injury. My parents call it excessive. Josh and Zach find it helpful when looking under and behind things. I call it being safe!

Flashlight are kept next to the stove, on the pantry, next to the computer, on the filing cabinet by the tv, Zach's bed,  next to the toilet in the bathroom, and in our bedroom. I learned after this blackout to label which flashlight goes where. I also thought of a couple of more places to keep flashlights. No one got hurt getting to a flashlight!

But, we also had cabin fever. It wasn't safe to walk. The streets had been plowed by Thursday afternoon. Most of them. But, there were too many fallen power lines and large branches to be safe for walking. That's why we are still loosing power. Workers are still working on fixing them.

Josh was home with us on Wednesday. But, come Thursday, it's been just me and Zach. So, I took it as a sign from God when a friend called. He had noticed a missed call from me from a week ago. 4:30pm.............wanna come to dinner? It's just burgers on the George Foreman grill. He came and so did another friend. It turned out to be a fantastic night!

It's still 10 - 15 degrees colder then it was a couple of weeks ago. The days are in the low 40s but the nights are in the 20s. However, more days are windy then not windy and the wind makes if feel at least 5 degrees colder then the listed temperature.

 It's cold. Depressingly cold. We had a taste of spring. We want it back! We want all the snow melted and to see the buds again. We want to be in jackets not coats or even less!

March roars on. As usual. It won't calm down until the last week in March if recent history is any indication. Another 2 - 3 weeks of lion March. I don't know about you, but I want the 50s and 60s back!

But, the lion roars on.

These are the flashlights we have all over the apartment. I got them from Target, the grocery store, and Amazon. But, they are inexpensive, easy to find, durable, and I find to be just what we need.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Basketball Boy

Yesterday was Zach's last basketball game of the season. Practices started in November and games started in January. I talked about the practice times in the blog post "A Third Grade Night".

He very much enjoyed this season. He had an excellent coach and really liked his teammates. I'm not 100% sure but I think their record was 4 - 5. Throughout the season I sat in on practices. They were only an hour and I didn't know what else to do while waiting.

I watched them grow. I watched the team talk about what needs improvements, work on them, and talk about their strengths. I watched them learn new plays and run them in games. I learned their names and cheered for them by name during games. The "Pink Panthers" have come a long way this season. They had an amazing coach and amazing assistant coaches.

Zach learned about being confident and agressive to get the ball. His strength was more on defense. I'm going to be honest. He was the weakest on the team. But, the team had three third graders and seven fourth graders. Next year, he'll have more experience and things will come a little easier. When Zach made a strong contribution, I was beaming with pride. He did make two baskets during games as well as defensive contributions.

My dad came to two games and my mom came to one. They very much enjoyed watching the games. Most of them were close. The gym had three bleachers and they were always full with parents, siblings, grandparents, and sometimes aunts, uncles, and cousins too. The crowd cheered for everyone and the kids knew they were supported.

The referee said he has worked for the rec department for 30 years. He means that literally. 30 years ago I was 7 and in the rec summer camp program. He was one of the councilors. I suspect he was in high school at the time though.

In the fourth period of the last game Zach surprised some people. He caught a rebound from the other team and brought it down the court to their side. But, he lost confidence partially through and walked a few steps to pass it to a teammate. The referee made it clear in the beginning of the season. This is a learning experience. He didn't call Zach on that. But, he told Zach that traveling is a no-no shortly after. Next year I hope he has the confidence to keep going and take that shot!

Last night I found him watching a NBA game on tv. This morning he made it clear he wants to do basketball again next year. I'm not surprised. It was a positive experience and he'll get better with time. He's a coachable kid.

It's like with baseball. He was able to learn but then something clicked. After that, he has been improving at a faster pace. When basketball clicks, I can't wait to see how well he does! I hope we are able to stay in contact with teammates and see them around in other places.

In November I prayed for guidance. I wanted to encourage him to do things he'll enjoy and be good at. I just didn't know what those things would be. He tried Tennis and Soccer and didn't like them. So, he tried Basketball and Baseball and does like those. As a parent it's hard to know what to point your kid to. I have confidence now that he's doing the right thing.

Amazon And Guns

I wrote to Vanguard this morning. Boycotts don't work. Big businesses don't care about customers. But, they do care about shareholders. So, I emailed Vanguard. I told them I want to reassess my porfolio. I want to eliminate as many gun friendly businesses as possible. I also want to eliminate as many businesses that don't pay too many employees a living wage as well. I told them it's time to talk with my money!

I have funds with them. Meaning, a lot of businesses in each fund and I can't find that list online. I won't be able to eliminate these companies completely. But, it is time to make that list as small as possible!

I know people who are boycotting Amazon. Personally, I shop there too much to go that far. But, I don't like that they are so NRA friendly. So I went to live chat customer service and asked about the process of purchasing a gun through Amazon. I also told the representative that I am reassessing my stocks and planning to eliminate the gun friendly places.

They passed it on with top priority to the internal team on this issue. I asked several times about hearing from this team. No answer on when. Meaning, I won't be hearing from them. They clearly have been under attack about this lately.

This is part of our exchange:

Me: WHEN will I get a response? Frankly, you should know. You have guns. Someone can click on a link and click the "add to cart" button. As customer service, what happens after they click that button? Can it be purchased the exact same way as I did the dresses I recently ordered? Or, is there a process before they can receive their gun.

If there was a process, there would be a message about that.

As customer service, you would know those basics because they are on the website.

Amazon: I understand your point. However age restrictions will be applied for these kind of items and these kind of items will be delivered only if an adult is present in home at the time of delivery.

The carrier won't deliver the package to a teen or kids.

Me: Good, what are the age restrictions?
Are background checks done?

Amazon: No. We don't do any background verification.

It is just like placing the order and the packages will be delivered only if a adult present at the time of delivery.

It will be listed either in the check-out page or in the carrier website.

That was all after I asked if a 15 year old psychopath could buy a gun on Amazon and use it in the next school shooting. No age was mentioned so I assume 18. However, they might be considering changing that to 21. That might be why he never answered the age question.

They also never answered my question about if they follow the laws of the state the customer lives in. But, that's a hard question. It sounded like most if not all of their gun sellers are third party sellers and not Amazon. This internal team will be able to answer the question about if they have any rules before letting sellers sell guns on Amazon or not. This representative wasn't going to be able to answer it. He clearly got help. Each question took at minimum 10 minutes to answer.

I'll still shop there. But, I am going to keep this in mind when talking to my broker.

It's going to be an interesting press release to come out of this inquiry!

Friday, February 23, 2018

The 1999 Mistake

I was a senior in high school in 1999.
We made a mistake.
We should have done then what the Parkland kids are doing now. We should have spoken up. We should have walked in protest. We should have told our elected officials "stop this for us!"
But, we didn't. We naively assumed our leaders would be just as horrified as we were. We assumed they would want to do everything they can to stop this from happening again. We assumed they cared about public safety. After all, that is a major part of their job.
But, we were wrong.

They didn't do anything.

The NRA was powerful but not that powerful at that time. A difference could have been made. It was before the 2010 Citizens United decision. They didn't own most of the Republican party at that time. We may have actually made a difference.

A difference. Imagine what America would be like today if we did then what these kids are doing now? There would still be some mass shootings. It's naïve to assume there would be none. But, there would be a lot less of them.

The first graders from Sandy Hook would be in the 7th grade now. ALL of them, not just some. College campuses would be safer and it would be a lot harder for those who have fallen over the edge to obtain these weapons in the first place.

How many victims would be alive today if we had done then what they are doing now?
How many fewer suicides would there be if we did then what they are doing now?

But, we made the mistake of trusting our leaders. Since then things have only gotten worse, not better. Even 25 dead first graders and their teacher wasn't a cold enough bucket of water for something reasonable to come out of it.

We should have done then what these kids are doing now. They are making more sense then a scary number of elected officials!!! They are being intelligent, brave, and powerful! They are also being peaceful. They are doing it all right. 

Why didn't we do this then? I remember Columbine. So many of us wandered the halls is disbelief for a long time after. Shocked by what happened. Asking "how could this happen?" We read everything we could about Eric and Dylan. The kids who wore trench coats because they liked the trench coats suddenly were watched with suspicious eyes by some. I knew a couple. They weren't on the brink of the unspeakable like Eric and Dylan had been. But, suddenly, stereotypes developed. 

I am still shocked by it. I'm horrified in what has unfolded in the 19 years since. Most of that could have been prevented. If we didn't make the mistake of trusting adult leaders to do the right thing. They didn't. They screwed up big time! Would they have listened to us? Would the NRA ever have gotten this powerful if we did then what they are doing now? 

In 1999, we teenagers made a mistake. 19 years ago, we could have done what the Parkland kids are doing. We could have changed history. It's what we should have done. I'm sorry to those who suffered since. We didn't do everything we could have done to prevent it from happening again. We didn't know it at the time, but it was one of the biggest mistakes of my generation.  

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Thoughts And Prayers

Some people think "thoughts and prayers" are just fine as a response to a shooting. Okay, I'll try it.

My thoughts and prayers to those in the Parkland High School shooting (Feb. 2018)
My thoughts and prayers to those in the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church shooting (Nov. 2017)
My thoughts and prayers to those in the Las Vegas Concert shooting (Oct. 2017)
My thought and prayers to those in the Orlando nightclub shooting (June 2016)
My thoughts and prayers to those in the San Bernardino shooting (Dec. 2015)
My thoughts and prayers to those in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting (Dec. 2012)
My thoughts and prayers to those in the Fort Hood shooting (Nov. 2009)
My thoughts and prayers to those in the Binghamton shooting (April 2009)
My thoughts and prayers to those in the Virginia Tech shooting (April 2007)
My thoughts and prayers to those in the Columbine High School Shooting (April 1999)

My thoughts and prayers to those who have ever been in any shooting.

Didn't work, did it? Those who died didn't magically come back to life because of my "thoughts and prayers". Each "thought and prayer" didn't stop the next shooting. It didn't stop someone from ending more lives way too soon. I didn't stop more parents from the sharp pain of having to bury your child. It didn't address what makes people do this. It didn't provide the support the shooter needed to NOT do this. It didn't make life safer.

What about praying for these shootings to not take place to begin with? I have been praying for them never to happen. I am not the only one praying BEFORE they happen. Prayer doesn't work. Prayer didn't get emotional support where needed. Prayer didn't get the ignored kid friends. Prayer didn't stop them from being able to obtain their weapons in the first place. Prayer didn't help.

It's time to do more then pray. It's time for strict gun laws. It's time to make it harder to get and keep a gun. It's time to limit where that gun is allowed to be and who can own it. It's time to check out everyone even considering buying a gun and recording it for future reference. It's time to consider conflict-resolution training, gun safety training, shooting training. It's time to remember why law enforcement and the military require so much training for being around guns. If you want to be a hero, get that training. You won't be stopping a mass shooting with your gun. You might make things worse!

That link is a press release from November 2017. Senator Feinstein, wrote a bill for banning assault rifles. Many democratic senators signed on. Including, proudly, both of mine! It makes it clear that not all guns would be banned:

Exemptions to bill
  • The bill exempts by name more than 2,200 guns for hunting, household defense or recreational purposes.
  • The bill includes a grandfather clause that exempts all weapons lawfully possessed at the date of enactment.
You can keep your handgun at home from protection and hunting riffles.

Key provisions
  • Bans the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of 205 military-style assault weapons by name. Owners may keep existing weapons.
  • Bans any assault weapon that accepts a detachable ammunition magazine and has one or more military characteristics including a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock. Owners may keep existing weapons.
  • Bans magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, which allow shooters to quickly fire many rounds without needing to reload. Owners may keep existing magazines.
Other provisions:
  • Requires a background check on any future sale, trade or gifting of an assault weapon covered by the bill.
  • Requires that grandfathered assault weapons are stored using a secure gun storage or safety device like a trigger lock.
  • Prohibits the transfer of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
  • Bans bump-fire stocks and other devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at fully automatic rates.

In that chart I see a pattern. Do you? The stricter the laws, the lower the gun related deaths.

Below are what two Army veterans have to say about assault rifles.

Friday, February 16, 2018

53 Degrees vs OCD

My mind is at it again. In May of 2017 I wrote the below blog post. It's about an OCD battle. I had two vests for when it feels like 50 - 55 degrees out. Fall and spring. I was trying to find vests of the same warmth level for winter and spring.

I have a sensory processing disorder as well as my OCD, Anxiety, and occasional depression. I have posted many ways that I have tried to create comfort around me as often as possible. My senses are stronger then regular people. Every sense. As with everything, it's only an actual disorder if it controls your life. See that list of issues? ALL of them control my life.

One way I create comfort is with a dress for the weather spreadsheet. What do I wear in different feels like temperature situations. On the bottom is a notes section for when I dress differently for walks, substitutions, and when to dress 5 degrees higher or lower based on other weather factors (rain, clouds, humidity, night, and wind). From what type of shirt to wear to if I need a hat and cowl it has all been charted.

We all have a range in our heads for how we are comfortable in different situations. I just wrote it down. It makes a nice reference when I am leaving the apartment. I have a list for Josh and Zach too and they seem comfortable with it.

The end results for the battle in that blog post are kind of ironic. I kept the fleece vests and liked them so much I replaced the fall and spring vests with fleece vests too. They have been working great. So, why I am still trapped in an OCD battle over temperatures in the low 50's?

It's a different battle. Before the vests I had used denim jackets for that temperature range. Once I got the vests, I've struggled with when to wear the denim jackets. I decided to use them without a sweater in the high 50's. But, it's more practical to just wear a sweater and no jacket in the high 50's. So, yesterday I decided to choose between them vests or denim jackets. One of them had to go.

As with everything they both have advantages and disadvantages. I am making a list of them below. Maybe this will help me decide. It sometimes helps to resolve these internal battles with these lists. Sometimes the results change if I go to make the same list twice though.



1. Feels light

2. The front closes.

3. Feels like outerwear.

4. Zipper pockets great for my new phone!

5. Easy arm movements.

6. Nice colors.

7. Temperature consistency (ironic really given the original post)

8. I like them.

9. Looks good.


1. Arms get cold

2. I used to think of it as level 1. Now I have to think of it as level 2
(note: I have different levels of warmth value for my outerwear. The truth is, it's more a level 2 anyway. Level 1 is my rain jacket for when I normally wouldn't be using a jacket.)

Denim Jackets


1. Arms stay warm

2. Already considered a level 2 jacket.

3. I like them.

4. Looks good.


1. I never close it so the front stays open.

2. Feels like a blazer (not outerwear).

3. Open pockets.

4. More awkward to put on then the vest

5. Inconsistant between the seasons. (I have them for my favorite clothing brands. They are nice and comfortable. But, one goal is to have the same jackets for each season. The only difference is color. Consistency has led to better comfort. I don't have the consistency with the denims.)

That was easier then I thought! It looks like I have a clear answer! Vests it is! I honestly thought the list would be closer then this. It makes sense. Josh gave up his denim when I got him a vest a couple of years ago. Zach too. They simply find it overall more comfortable. I guess, when I think about it, I do too.

This really started on a walk I took last night. The feels like temperature was in the low 50's. Zach was with my parents so I took a nice walk. My arms did start feeling cold while walking. It made me wonder if I would be more comfortable in the denim jacket.

Before I got any vests I used denim and a sweater for this temperature range. Now, I use the vest and a sweater. I don't button close the denim jackets. Let's be honest, that looks ridiculous. That's part of the problem I am having today. Most people use them like a blazer. A piece when putting together an outfit. Not as outerwear.

An average person would wear whatever they feel like on a given day. OCD doesn't work like that. By settling this battle today I will know what to wear and getting dressed will take a much shorter time.

So, I am finding that the real question I comfortable enough to not obsess over comfort?

That's a quote in the original blog post. Today I know the answer is "yes". The quote below is also from that blog post.

53 degrees. Smack in the middle of the low 50s. When it somehow is warm and cold at the same time. When you don't need a jacket, but you do need a sweater and/or a vest. When you can be comfortable being outside for a while. However, you really appreciate the heat when you go inside.

The vest thing was complicated because the temperature range is complicated. Is it warm? Is it cool? My senses were heightened. It was hard to get a good read because the influencing factors kept changing. Sometimes twice within a minute.

But, that's 53 degrees.

Sometimes I should take my own advice. I know I am making the right choice for me at this point in time when the questions stop. When the doubt stops. When the "yeah, buts" stop. I know the battle is over when it just feels right.

This feels right. The vests it is. I have been wearing them in this range for about five years. If it was that uncomfortable for my arms I would have changed the chart years ago. I had that battle in May because I like the vests and wanted to get it right!

A now the calm settles over me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Smart Device, Confused Device

Yesterday, I got my first smartphone ever. I'm still on my parent's phone plan and we were concerned it would raise the bill. It didn't. Because my mom has a smart phone so she already had data. I hadn't planned on using data. But, after a long conversation with Verizon Wireless, I realized the things I am doing use hardly any data. Checking email and syncing the family google calendar mostly. I also know to try to use WiFi as much as possible.

Josh has a smart phone on our plan. He got his smartphone in July of 2016. So we already have data there. I did go from 1G of data to 2G for his plan. It was $4 more. We can handle that. It was time for him to be able to check his email. It was also time for the family calendar everywhere. It's the same calendar as mine. It syncs in all our tablets, the home computer, and now our cell phones.

I had been nervous about data. It's so easy to go over the data amount without realizing it. I have read that if you pay for unlimited data and use it a lot, they do slow it down. I didn't want any bill surprises so Josh had been banned from data. At least on his plan I can track it when I check daily anyway. My mom and I worked something our for me.

It's also time to think about Zach. In a little over a year, probably around Easter of next year, Josh will be giving Zach his smartphone and finally fulfilling his free upgrade. I asked Verizon Wireless about that too. How much to add a phone line? With taxes about $22 extra a month.

I have updated our budget to reflect that extra cost. I'm testing if we can make it work. Our budget is pretty tight. It's the reason my phone is still on my parent's plan. We can afford food and clothing. We can afford the basics. But, Josh is a head driver for a pizza place. Think about what you tip the pizza guy. He even sometimes doesn't get tipped at all. For us, yesterday was a big deal!

 My smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy J3 Eclipse. When I got to the Verizon store I had asked about Josh's phone. Samsung Galaxy J V3. My phone is the upgrade of his. The sales lady called it a starter smartphone. I pulled out my old phone and she understood. I also got a nice case.

So, my new phone works and is pretty, and now I feel like I am in the correct decade. I had decided to contact Samsung and fix an odd issue with my tablet. All three of us have Samsung Galaxy tablets. Yes, I really like the Samsung Galaxy line and do recommend them. The issue I attempted to fix had nothing to do with the device itself.

My email app has been working weird on it. Starting on 11/29/17 my Verizon email on the tablet wouldn't sync with my account. But, in the exact same link, my AOL email has never had an issue. Recognize that date? It's when the debate of repealing Net Neutrality was happening. I mentioned it in my "Confronting Verizon" blog post before this one.

But, my Verizon email still didn't sync even at home with my Verizon FiOS WiFi. Samsung says there are no carriers for tablets. But, when I went to live chat with Samsung, I saw this: Please select your Galaxy Tab carrier. Sprint was the option for my tablet. Samsung never answered me when I asked why I had to do that to get to them if there isn't a carrier. Like Verizon, the tech support team aren't involved in deciding and acting on any changes post the repeal of Net Neutrality. They may have even forgotten it was repealed. They were never told this might happen and this is why. Because the carrier companies don't want you to know it's happening.

Samsung suggested a few things. Clear the cache, didn't work. Clear the data, didn't work. Delete and re-add the account, didn't work. After all that, shut the tablet off and check it later. That didn't work either. I also checked the sync settings within the app and in the settings app. The settings app says "last synced (current date and time)". It currently says 0 emails. I should have 17.

It's not a big deal. I have my smartphone so I can still check my email in even more places then before. But, this frustrates my OCD because it's the kind of problem that doesn't seem fixable. I'm going to hold Sprint accountable for this issue. I had to choose them under Please select your Galaxy Tab carrier. To me, it's the only explanation why my tablet would be confused about my email. You might start noticing these issues on your tablets too. AOL on tablet, Verizon on phone. Okay, that works for me. But, Sprint isn't off the hook for this one.

Smart device, confused device. My smart phone can do so many cool things. Not just data things. The clock setting has an alarm, stop watch, timer, and world clock. One example of many that my old phone couldn't do.

Soon my dad will finally get his first smart phone. His vibrates but doesn't ring. He's taking my mom's iPhone and she's getting a new one. Zach's getting more and more excited! I doubt I can wait until next Easter for him to get a phone. He walks all the way home alone. The idea that he can call in case something happens has it's appeals. It's not far. But, there is a reason kids in this town get cell phones when they go to middle school. Zach will need time to learn how to use his and how not to use data, at least not much. It's better to do that with plenty of time before he actually needs and but can't use it.

Now it's time to play Soda Candy Crush on my confused tablet. There is also an update on my smart phone. While I type this on the desktop. I'm enjoying this a lot more then I probably should be!

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Confronting Verizon (edit: A throttled friend speaks)

In December the FCC repealed Net Neutrality. Net neutrality was a protection created in 2015. All websites had to be treated equally by service providers. What can they do now?

1. Block certain websites
2. Create "fast" and "slow" lanes forcing websites to pay more for better loading speeds
3. Charge you for things like YouTube currently free

Likely, this will raise bills when it's time for new contracts. For me, I have noticed pages like the New York Times suddenly having issues. It always has to be refreshed to open and the internet freezes to the point where I have to restart the entire computer significantly more then usual.

Verizon advertises their fast speeds. So when some pages regularly started freezing and slowing down, I decided to confront them. It's not what I paid for so I expect it to be fixed, or a partial refund each month for the troubles.

The first person gave me the "we would never do that" robotic response and passed me to a superviser. He read what I had to say, including websites to back me up, and disconnected after this quote from their rep in the cagey responses link above:


Fast lanes: No specific response
Block or slow down sites: Says it doesn't do so, but declined to address the future
The words: In a Nov. 21 statement, Verizon Senior Vice President Kathy Grillo said: "We continue to believe that users should be able to access the internet when, where, and how they choose, and our customers will continue to do so." Asked whether Verizon will continue not to block or throttle content or whether it will charge internet companies to get better access to customers, Young said Verizon "does not block or throttle content, and that's the bottom line."

The no response to the fast lane part is frightening! It's also exactly what I claim they are doing. They never say they wouldn't do these things I now see happening. They didn't address slowing sites down in the future. It's the future, they are slowing them down.

The third person clarified.

Just to clarify, although Verizon has maintained the position that we do not block or throttle sites, you feel as though we do and would like a credit?

Good, she understood me. She asked what my current speed is. Speed isn't the problem, slowed down web pages are. She planned to offer more speed. I clarified that I either want them to stop slowing down pages or refund me for the inconvenience. I pointed out with the same speed these pages weren't issues before the repeal of net neutrality.

She transferred me again. Fourth person. Because they can't answer this or fix this. Not at this level. This chat wasn't about actually being able to fix things now. It's about getting the attention of someone high enough to be afraid. Afraid that customers are noticing and it will effect their business.

Afraid enough to stop this. It's what the FCC said would happen. "With customer pressure nothing will change." So, it's up to us customers to put on the pressure! Through contacts like this. Asking for a refund in each bill for the inconvenience they are causing with all of these tricks. Calling them on the false advertising or the fine print in their ads.

Enough attention to make congress have to do something about it. Forcing sensitive republicans who are in tight races to pass net neutrality or basically forfeit their races. Helping democrats take over in November if they don't pass net neutrality. It's a bipartisan issue and it matters.

The fourth person took his time to read the conversation and respond. I was calm and clear. He has no argument but doesn't have the authority to offer what I am rightfully asking for. It is a recorded chat. It won't be long until this makes it up the PR chain.

The fourth person was a tech guy offering to help with speed. But, some pages are just fine. It's not all of them. He can't fix this. But, with loud voices we can!

Below in green is from a friend. She too has struggled with Verizon's internet.

So far I have had my streaming halt on Netflix and PBS. I have wanted to dump Verizon for some time (mostly because of their lobbying efforts against Net Neutrality) and find myself especially motivated now. Needless to say Verizon does NOT get another $10/mo from me to stop throttling, but the alternatives aren't exactly customer focused either. Recommendations welcome.

There is the real problem. ALL of the companies are doing it. In today's blog post I mentioned how Spring is the carrier for my tablet. Now, I can see my AOL email but not my Verizon email. It's the least subtle thing I've come across yet! Then again, Sprint has always had an inferiority complex when it comes to Verizon and AT&T.

We can't let these companies get away with these tricks. Pay attention, contact them about it. Contact congress about it. Contact candidates running for congress about it. Because the companies with a lot of money shouldn't be allowed to drawn out the small companies.