Saturday, January 21, 2012

iPod Woes - and Wonders!

It all began back in December when my daughter told me about her iPod Touch and how amazing it was.  I decided to join the technophiles and get me one.  I had no intention of paying for it, though.  I was going to get a FREE iPod with my RBC Rewards points. 

At the time an iPod Touch was available for a mere 30,000 points.  Unfortunately, I waffled.  I didn’t need an iPod – free or otherwise – and once the points were spent, they were spent.  So I waited.  But the call of the iPod was more than I could resist and so I decided to take the plunge and order it.  Well, darned if they didn’t double the points needed to get one.  I took it as a sign and resolved to put iPod ownership out of my mind. 

Then my daughter suggested that I get a Future Shop gift card with my points instead and order it that way.  Hmmm....

I logged into my RBC  account and filled out all the necessary stuff like my name and address and what I wanted to spend my points on and clicked on the Submit Order button.  A little pop-up window announced that the function was not working and apologized for any inconvenience.
Another sign!

For the next few days, I logged into my account and went through the motions of ordering (practice makes perfect) only to have the pop-up apology repeatedly remind me that it wasn’t working.  Okay.  That’s it.  No iPod for me. 

But, of course, I got stubborn.  My resolve dissolved and I went back after a few days and tried again.


My points were spent and a confirmation e-mail landed in my in-box announcing that a Future Shop gift card was on its way.  Whoot!

The card arrived two weeks before I expected it to on Friday the 13th.  This may have been another sign, but I ignored it, not being superstitious about Friday the 13th, and Googled Future Shop.  I found the iPod I wanted and dropped it into a shopping cart.  Before I could find anything else to buy, I went to complete my order. 

Again with the filling out of on-line forms.  At the bottom of the order page, I was asked to enter my gift card number and security PIN.  The page changed and I noticed that the balance on my gift card was zero.  That wasn’t right, so I cancelled my order and called Customer Service.  A very nice man told me not to worry, that, yes, there was a problem with the gift card balances not showing up, but that my order would be processed and the gift card would be applied and I could rest assured that my credit card would not be charged.

Okay!  Back to the Future Shop web site.  Back to placing my order.  I did hesitate for just a moment, but finally clicked on Submit Order and then went happily on with my day with complete faith in the system.

On Wednesday, the iPod arrived at the post office and I picked it up.  Oh, happy day.  I had a new toy to play with.  And what a fun little gadget it is! 

A short hour after picking up the iPod, my happy bubble was unceremoniously popped when I happened to log into my on-line banking and saw – much to my horror – that my credit card had been charged the full amount of the iPod.  I know I swore.  What else does one do when a charge appears on one’s credit card that should not have appeared?

I re-Googled Future Shop and found the customer service contact page.  I opted to send an e-mail in which I detailed the circumstances and politely asked that the charges be reversed and the gift card be applied.  A short while later I got a reply saying that this could not be done.  The e-mail suggested that I did not follow the instructions and that it basically sucked to be me.   Not acceptable!

I shot back another e-mail, insisting that Future Shop fix this.  I argued that their web site had a glitch and that I should not be punished for their functionality failure.  Again, I received a reply that was not to my satisfaction.  I was told to take the iPod down to my local Future Shop store and return it and then buy it again with the gift card.  The closed Future Shop store is 200 miles away.  Not gonna happen.

I explained my dilemma in a third e-mail.  This time the reply was an offer to send me a mailing label so I could send the iPod back. 

Oh, for pity sake!

I abandoned e-mail communication and picked up the phone.  I dialled the toll-free number for Customer Service and spoke to a kindly lady named Fay.  I gave her my order number and explained the whole sordid affair to her.  She was sympathetic – at least – but said that she could not reverse the charges or apply the gift card.  She did, however, say that she would pass my problem on to another department where there were people who could.  Awesome!
She re-capped my story so I knew she understood and asked me to give them 48 hours to respond. 

It’s been 72 hours and no one has gotten back to me...

But that’s not all.  Yesterday I went to charge the iPod and nothing happened.  Strange!  I checked to make sure that the cord was properly connected to both the iPod and the computer.  Nothing seemed amiss.  I unplugged the iPod and plugged in my camera.  Nothing happened.  My first thought was that my USB ports were fried again. 

I got out the library laptop and plugged the iPod into it.  Nothing.  So I tried the camera.  It was fine. 

One of my staff members plugged the iPod into her computer.  Nothing. 

To say that my gorge rose is very nearly an understatement.  I was physically nauseous.  First a charge on my credit card and then the damn thing doesn’t work after only two days.  This couldn’t be happening.

The staff member, also an iPod owner and enthusiast, brought her cord in to see if that was the problem.  As it turned out, it was.  The iPod charged as it should and all was well.

Well, except for now I had a charge cord that was screwed. 

Another staff member came to my rescue and brought me an old charge cord from an iPod that doesn’t work anymore.  I haven’t tried it, but I am hopeful that it will see me through until I can get a new one.

If the silly thing wasn’t so darned cool, I think I would just return it and be done with the whole mess.  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to bring myself to do that.  This little gadget really is amazing.  The apps are a riot and an addiction to Angry Birds is already taking hold of my psyche. 

I can use Facebook and Skype with it.  I can check the weather, which is updated hourly.  I can take photos and videos.  And the camera is reversible – front or back.  I can watch TV on it and enjoy Youtube videos.  It has an excellent calendar on which I can record events and appointments.  I can read e-books and listen to audio books.  There’s a dictionary with Word of the Day, a thesaurus and a voice-activated look-up, which is a hoot when it doesn’t understand what I’m saying.  Sky View lets me see the planets and stars even inside.  Epic Win is a to-do list that rewards me when I complete any given task. 

It’s a computer in the palm of my hand. 

I’m determined to get the credit card charges reversed.  But that’s a Monday problem.  For now I’m going to just have fun with my new toy.  But maybe in the future, when I want something and all the signs are against me, I’ll listen!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Art of Ebru

In spite of myself, I am attempting to learn a new art form.  Though I told myself that I would not start any new hobbies and stick to the ones I already have invested in, I couldn’t help myself when I saw a Youtube video on Ebru.   Ebru is the art of marbling paper and fabric.  It originated in Turkey and has been around for many hundreds of years. 

The process is fairly simple.  Getting good results is... Well, it’s definitely an art! 

Marbling is accomplished by splattering paint or pigment onto water that is thickened with carageenan.  This is called the size.   Carageenan (aka Irish Moss) is a type of sea weed and is also used as a thickening agent in food.  It’s also hard to come by and it’s not cheap.  Diligent research revealed a more readily available and cost effective substance:  cellulose.  I am using common wall paper paste with reasonable results. 

Once the water is thick – but not too thick! – the fun can begin.  The mess begins as well and I’ll have to rearrange my studio so that I don’t splatter the pieces that are drying on the rack.

After the paint has been splattered a marbling effect is achieved by drawing a thin rod or a comb through it to swirl the paint and make specific patterns.  Then, if one so desires, pictures can be painted on top of the marbled background by dropping tiny blobs of paint onto the water and then manipulating them with the rod into various shapes.  The possibilities are endless.  My abilities are – so far – somewhat limited.

A quick bath in clean water to rinse off the cellulose and the work is ready to dry on a rack.  Later it will be ironed to get rid of the wrinkles and – one day – be framed for display. 

Here are some samples of my first attempts at Ebru...
Here I am drawing flowers
on a marbled background.

And this is what it looks like on the paper.
After drying and ironing, it looks better.  

The "Valentine" after being rinsed
and waiting to dry.  

Hearts still on the size.

With a bit more practice, I’m fairly confident that I will be able to create some interesting pieces.  I might even get brave some day and try making silk scarves.  Maybe!  We’ll see.  That is definitely a down-the-road thing.  

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My first week back at work after the holidays was great!  It was tough leaving Oliver home alone all day, but he survived.  And it was wonderful to be greeted again after a day in the office by a loving pet.   He’s hiding right now instead of enjoying my delightful company.  I cleaned the house and he is still terrified of the vacuum cleaner.  He’ll just have to adjust to it.  There’s nothing like the feeling of satisfaction after giving the house a thorough cleaning and tidying. 

The weather continues to be uncooperative.  While I realize that there is no point in complaining – we get what we’re given! – the warm temperatures and the rain are wreaking havoc by causing ice to build up everywhere.  The roads are treacherous and walking anywhere is a nightmare.  My winter shuffle makes me look like a helpless old woman, but I am determined to stay upright and avoid injury if at all possible.  My ice walkers help, but even they can’t prevent me from slipping all the time. 

The other day when I left work I was trying to open Gracie’s (my van) sliding door to stow Zippy (my mail cart) but the door was frozen shut and when I jerked on it my left foot slipped out from under me.  I managed not to fall but I wrenched my neck a bit and am paying the price for it now.  It’s not too bad today.  Yesterday was extremely uncomfortable, though.  Hopefully, I’m good to go for Yoga on Tuesday.  The housework hasn’t seemed to make it any worse.

I’m now on the hunt for a funky writing table to go with my new chair.  Last night, my sister, brother-in-law and parents came for a short, but very pleasant visit.  Sis and BIL surprised me with an wonderful gift – this gorgeous, antique office chair:

This lovely antique office chair was a gift
 from my sister and brother-in-law!
Several months ago, my sister had posted a photo of it on her blog.  They had decided to get rid of it and I responded by saying that it was too bad I was so far away as I would love to give it a new home. 

Well, in a serendipitous turn of events, my sister, her husband and my parents had traveled together up north here to attend my niece’s wedding.  They brought the chair with them and now it sits in place of pride in my living room.  Thank you, P & G!  I am thrilled!

I’m thinking of doing a bit of baking this afternoon.  It feels like a baking day!  Some peanut butter cookies, some brownies and maybe some chocolate chip cookies for good measure.  I might even get brave enough to take out my knitting later.  I’m anticipating a battle of wills over the yarn with Oliver, but I have a hankering to make something.  We’ll see how it goes!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome to 2012

It’s time once again to ring in the new year with my annual numerological assessment of 2012.  What energies does it hold?


Five is the number of celebration.  It’s positive aspects are fun, adventure, creative expression and joy.  On the negative side, 5 represents over-indulgence and selfishness.  Let’s aim for the fun, adventure and joy this year!

An important aspect of 5 is gratitude.  Count your blessings and be sure to say thank you for them often.  The simple act of kindness is a powerful way to overcome negative 5 energies.  So smile!  Do a good deed.  Compliment freely.  Help a stranger.  Help a loved one.  Oh, and be kind to yourself as well! 

2012 contains two 2s, one 0 and one 1. 

0 represents potential.  It is a void - a space to be filled.  Being a circle, the zero also reminds us of the cyclical nature of all things.  The never-ending circle of life:  birth, life, death... 

1 represents the self.  The positive 1 is confident and blessed with healthy self-esteem.  It can stand alone courageously and uphold its principles and values.  The negative 1, is selfish and petty.  It can be cruel. 

2 represents partnership.  Love or business is strengthened with the number 2 energy.  With two-2’s in the year, there is an emphasis on these aspects.  (Yay!)  But one must be careful that the 2 remains in balance.  An unbalanced relationship of any kind can mean power over or suppression of one by the other. 

So 2012 has enormous potential to bring many good things into our lives.  We could very well find ourselves joyously celebrating love and/or success, having all sorts of fun adventures and finding new ways to express our creativity.  Wow!  Sounds like a busy year ahead. 

Today, in particular, is a 7 day.  Seven is the number of spiritual energy.  A positive 7 is filled with compassion and love and is deeply connected to Spiritual Source.  (Whatever that may be for each of us)  2012 01 01 as you can see has three 1s in it.  The Self is encouraged to communicate inwardly through meditation or reflection.  Today is a good day for such activity.  It is also a good day to reach out to those we love and say so!  Communication, while not overtly represented, is being strongly encouraged. 

There are three 0s as well.  That’s a lot of potential!  Today is a day to foster new beginnings, a day to let go of the past and start fresh.  Let that creative energy flow!  Fill your day with something wonderful.

The two 2s once again invite successful love and business interests.  So go ahead and make that deal!  Or bask in the light of love. 

I chose this photo to represent 2012 because of the symbolism of swans.  The swan as a totem is filled with amazing energies:  Love, Grace, Union, Purity, Beauty, Dreams, Balance, Elegance, Partnership and Transformation – all of which tie in quite nicely with 2012. 

So, Happy New Year!  May 2012 bring all of the very brightest of blessings into your life.