Coffee heat rising

Of iPhones and Spinning Wheels and Ella’s Story

Ever have one of those days when your wheels are spinning nonstop for about 18 hours? Or you feel like your nose has been pressed to the grindstone all day but it comes off not sharpened but duller than when you started?

I feel like I’ve been working steadily but have accomplished almost nothing. But really, that’s not true. By the end of the day, this week’s installment of Ella’s Story managed, somehow, to get finished and posted. As of yesterday evening, I had an idea where it was going but no idea how to get there.

LOL! Is this what one of my late, great editors used to call, crabbily, “backing into the story”? Maybe I need one of those guys back today, to snap the whip! 😀

Cranking fiction on a deadline is not easy. Nonfiction? A magazine or newspaper article? Nooo problem. You start with all the facts and you know how to tie them into the who-what-when-where-why-and-how rope. Your only hold-up is landing interviews. But fiction…you may have a vague idea where you’re going with it, but often — make that usually — you don’t have the specifics. You have to make them up. And that, heaven help you, is actual work.


Oh, but sooo many opportunities to procrastinate! What? Me, work?

§ The big potted ficus plant — a six-foot-high tree, really — the one that fell over in the most recent storm, was so traumatized that now it’s dropping its leaves. At first I thought it had dessicated somehow. Maybe the irrigation dripper that goes to its pot broke somehow when the thing crashed to the ground and got bashed by the downpour? But I don’t think so. So: four possibilities:

a) Somehow it actually did get dried out and, of course, in this crazy heat, could not survive any degree of dehydration.
b) Somehow it got overwatered. Ficus hates to be overwatered.
c) It got shocked when it fell over and whacked on the paving. Ficus will drop their leaves if you move them into a new room. Slamming it on the ground have unnerved the thing.
d) It has a disease or fungus.

The first three events, it can survive. The fourth: not so much. All one can do, though, is watch it and see what happens. This is not a good time for it to lose its leaves, since it the shade it provides shelters a roomful of cherry furniture from the morning sun glaring in through an east-facing Arcadia door.

§ Amazing article in The New Yorker…reminiscent of a friend’s life story. Had to read the whole, very long thing…then send it along to her. Took half the morning. But I drank a lot of good coffee and munched a lot of good chocolate in the process…

§ Credit union has informed us that it’s revamping its online presence. This warning, of course, is the equivalent of screaming DUCK FOR COVER! in a crowded room. The alarm is heightened by their telling us that we’d better download and save six months’ worth of transactions. Just in case.

Well. Of course that took for-freaking-EVER. God, how I hate messing with that kind of digital ditz! In the course of it, I discovered about $600 in the medical savings account, which either was transferred there by accident during the last C.U. fuck-up or, for reasons unknown, did not get applied to debt to the Mayo. Probably the latter: chances are I paid it out of cash flow without remembering to replenish the checking account from that savings account. And that would explain why I ran out of money two months early this year…

§ Cleaning! Pick up the mess. Wash the dog blankets. Clean the kitchen. If I use the leaf blower to blower the loose dog hair out of the garage, will the dog hair actually get ejected and blown down the driveway to the street, or will it just go airborne, float around in there, and then settle back to the floor?

§ And, totally NOT least, the cell phone issue.

I’ve decided that I probably want to buy an iPhone and feed it with TracFone minutes. Supposedly, the iPhone is relatively easy for old people to learn to use. And TracFone’s by-the-minute plan has worked well with the cheapo model I’ve been carrying around for automotive emergencies. And the price: enormously right.

TracFone is selling four iPhones for relatively reasonable prices. Apparently if you’re willing to settle for an older model, you do NOT have to pay a grand to get your hands on one.

If you don’t use the phone a lot, TracFone has a lot to recommend it. No monthly payments, and pretty much what you see is what you get: no little surprises to blindside you. I’ve been using it for the throw-away phone for a couple years now: totally hassle-free, as opposed to the endlessly annoying T-Mobile. You only need to pay for as much service as you’re likely to use. TrackFone’s current “bargain” iPhone comes with 750 minutes and 1,000 texts to use over 60 days. Well, that’s about ten times as much of either of those things as I would need.

Apple offers classes in the use of the iPhone, so my plan is to go over there tomorrow, study the phones and the prices there, ask if you HAVE to have bought the phone from Apple directly to get into their classes, and then make a decision.

Cox is gouging me $117 a month for land-line service that is questionably reliable and guaranteed to go down when the power’s out. And with their damned modem, I can’t attach my fancy call blocker that was working so amazingly well. And of course, Cox is resisting NoMoRobo with all its corporate strength: they simply refuse to provide it. As for the iPhone? There’s a NoMoRobo app!

Said app is not well liked by Fanboys. However, Apple also has an app called “RoboKiller,” which IS very well reviewed. Actually, it’s more than just well reviewed…it sounds delicious. Check out this one:

This is an awesome service.
Nov 9, 2017

I forwarded my calls a while back to the service when I first signed up because I was having a real issue with getting a lot of spam phone calls. I said it and basically forgot about it. Recently I had reason to go to the application to look it up because I had a question about something and I came across all of the phone calls that were blocked and many of them with a voicemail messages. When I listened to the voicemail messages, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Some of the recorded voicemail messages that were saved or absolutely hilarious. Since these spam callers call me and waste my time every time they get me on the phone, I have to admit I took a little bit of pleasure and wasting their time right back. They were actually trying to have conversations with the bots and they weren’t giving up. Meaning the spam callers. And I could hear the uncertainty in their voices and some of the conversations and it was friggin hilarious. When I listened to all the voicemails, I swear I just wanted to throw my arms around these guys at RoboKiller and give them a big hug. Best freaking service I’ve come across in a long time and well worth the money and the results are literally hilarious. If you were having problems getting a lot of unwanted phone calls, I absolutely and wholeheartedly recommend this service. You seriously need to check this out. These guys are geniuses. Some of those voicemails just had me rolling in tears.

THE must have app!
May 19, 2018

Without a doubt, Robokiller is the most invaluable, user-friendly and entertaining app available today. I was inundated with daily calls me from companies I ordered something from a decade ago. I couldn’t block them because they always called from a different number. Now, thanks to Robokiller, not only am I not bothered by these calls, I get a taste of sweet revenge. Unsolicited calls are automatically answered by any one of the 43 (and growing) “people” you select to take the call; from someone hard of hearing to someone in the midst of a crisis. All the pre-recorded performances are spot on and truly funny. Every time a solicitor tries, hopelessly, to communicate with one of the recordings, you can play it back, save it, even share it with friends. You can also record your self answering the phone, and, after years of hearing the same sales pitch, I’ve made recordings of myself so in synch with their pitch, I can have them going in circles for five minutes and thinking they’re talking to someone. Really, I cannot say enough about this brilliantly conceived and well designed app.

Hee HEEE! If that’s any indication, the app alone may be worth the phone’s price!

I’m now spending $1400/year on the land line that is no longer a land line and that goes out when the power’s down (i.e., when you’re most likely to need to make an emergency call!). Once the phone is paid for (and the business can afford it, no problem), TracFone costs between $7 and $30 a month, depending on the number of minutes you choose to buy over time. Seven bucks will get you 60 minutes’ worth for 90 days. And $25 buys 500 minutes for 60 days. I would be very surprised if I spend an hour on the phone over the course of a month. My son hates talking on the phone, and most people stay in touch through email.

That’s a far cry from $117 a month!

My plan is to get the proposed iPhone. Keep the clamshell phone I use for car emergencies, which is absurdly cheap, but have “minutes” only for the iPhone. Then buy several more of the cheapo clamshell phones, keep them charged, and set the cheapies in strategic places around the house for emergency use only. By law all phones have to be able to call 911, whether they’re connected to a “plan” or not. So…given the concern that I might fall and bust my hip, my idea is to set a cheapie phone on or near the floor in every room in the house. Most of the rooms have cabinets that have shelves or drawers near the floor. Those that don’t…I can just set one of these things unobtrusively under piece of furniture, or in pot of fake flowers. There are a ton of places to set these things where no one would notice them but I would know where they are.

And then… Good-bye land line!