Posts Tagged With: cell phones

No Filter December – Day 30: iPhone Christmas

It was an iPhone Christmas around here this year.

It all started back in October when my LG Extravert gave up the ghost.  Or rather, when the slide-out keyboard started having sticky keys, which is a problem that phone tends to have. This was our 3rd or 4th phone, between my daughter and I, and every single one of them has degenerated into sticky keys within 6-9 months.

030cropThis resulted in texts that said things like, “I cannnnnnnn commmme to the performmmmannnnce,” and after a while, even your best friend starts to lose patience (and text back things like, “donnnt mmmake funnn of mmme,” especially if you have made reference to a typo she has made).

I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth buying another Extravert, so I started looking for a used iPhone.  I figured, since my other alternative was a $20 flip-phone with phone keypad and T9 word recognition, even a used iPhone 3 would be better than that.  I quickly discovered that unless you are lucky enough to know someone with an old iPhone they want to offload, you can’t really buy one.

Well, you can, if you want to spend hundreds of dollars.  Or, you can buy one cheap, but there is no way of knowing whether you will actually receive the item you thought you purchased.  We went through that with a purchase of a “Used-Excellent” 3G Kindle Keyboard last year. When it arrived, it turned out to be WiFi only, not 3G, and was refurbished.  After a month of emails going back and forth (very slowly on the seller’s part), we sent it back, only to be told a week later that we had to prove to them that they had received it before they would issue us the refund. Fortunately my brilliant husband had sent it via Fed Ex, having foreseen just such an eventuality.

At any rate, there was no way I was going to get into a purchase of electronics from a third party or eBay seller again.

My 20 year old has had an iPhone for two years, so I asked his help.  He showed me a plan offered by Verizon where we could get free iPhones and a month-to-month family plan. We did the math and it worked out to about what we were already paying for our pre-paid phones.  The only problem was that we had to wait until his contract expired in December before we made the change.  This gave me the bright idea to get phones for my husband, the two oldest kids and myself and give them as gifts for Christmas.  For free!  What’s not to love about that?

035In the meantime, since I had an old flip-phone lying around, I used that. Three months of T9.  I should get an award.

Did you know that T9 does not recognize the word “Valentines?” It comes out “Takeouines.”  So my family and friends have, from my years of flip-phone use, gotten used to me wishing them Happy Takeouines Day on Feb. 14.

Also, the word “right,” if one of the letters was not picked up by the phone as I was typing it, would come out as the S-word, which was quite unfortunate when I was answering a text with a sarcastic “Oh, right” and didn’t notice the change before I hit send.

Especially if it were to one of my kids.

At any rate, two days before Christmas (I think I have already established my affinity for the ragged edge of disaster), my son and I were at the Verizon store signing a contract and picking up the phones. At the last possible second we suddenly realized that my husband has a phone from work, and that he really doesn’t need an iPhone however much he would like one, and that there was no way he was going to strap an iPhone to his belt next to his gigantic Samsung Galaxy every day. He’s a bit of a tech nerd, but not that bad.

Which was fine and all, but then that left me, two days before Christmas, with no gift for my husband.

Oh, but it was worse than that.  Not only did I not get HIM a gift, but I got myself an iPhone. All of a sudden my genius idea of October was turning into a very, very bad thing.

How did I not see this coming? How did I not figure this out until I was about to buy the dang phones?  That could be the topic of another blog.  It probably will be.  Let’s just leave it at the fact that this is not unusual behavior for me.  Despite the (now-expired) Mensa membership card.

I agonized over this predicament.  I had so wanted to surprise him with my foresight and thriftiness, getting us all superior phones for the same price as the throwbacks we had all struggled with for years in the name of living within our means.  I could find no easy answer for it.  My elation at finally having an iPhone — and a pretty GOLD one, at that — was overshadowed by the sour taste of Christmas Fail.

My son had no qualms about this, mind you.  He started using his phone right away, quite gleefully, and no one noticed the upgrade.  I had to keep mine and my daughter’s hidden, so they lay hidden in the bottom of my tote bag, a token of my shame.  I didn’t even want to wrap them.

I couldn’t stand it any longer and finally confessed the whole debacle to my husband later than night.  He stared at me, speechless.  I couldn’t read the expression on his face and this worried me.  Finally he sighed and said, “Well then, I guess I’ll just have to take back the phone I bought you for Christmas.”

As if it hadn’t been bad enough before.

I was saved from total despair by the realization that it was playing out like a scene out of “The Gift of the Magi.” We both had a good laugh about it, and when he lamented, “Now I don’t have a gift for you either,” I pulled the box out of my tote bag and handed it to him.  He wrapped it in front of me, chuckling all the while.

The next day I sang at an afternoon Christmas Eve service, so my focus for most of the day was preparing for that.  With that deadline out of the way, I once again turned my thoughts toward my husband’s gift.  I still had a good 8 hours of shopping time left at this point.  The sky was the limit.

The 12 year old offered, after the service, to accompany me on my shopping trip.  There was a hardware store around the corner from the church, and I remembered Alan showing interest in a tool there a few weeks before and saying he had always wanted one, and I was confident I could remember where that tool was located, so we headed there.

It turned out to be the wrong hardware store. I knew right where the tool was in THE OTHER store.  But not in this one.

A helpful employee, noticing my aimless wandering, asked if he could help.

To make a long story short, my husband received from me, the next morning, a gift card for the hardware store with the attached note: “Apparently a ‘handheld tool that looks like a drill but isn’t one and that has a spinny thing on the end of it’ isn’t enough to identify that tool you wanted, so you’ll have to go buy it yourself.”

075So Christmas morning worked out okay after all.  He was very happy with his hardware store gift card (note to self: remember this next year), the 20 year old was ecstatic with his new phone, I was over the moon with mine, and the 19 year old, the only one for whom the phone was a surprise at this point, actually cried when she opened hers.

All the gatherings of relatives for the next two days now had a focal point. Well, okay, celebrating the birth of Christ and the spending of time with family, but ALSO, the giving of iPhone tips.

I now have an Instagram.  I’m not sure why, given that I have a blog and a Facebook account, but I’ve always wanted one, so I have one now.  I may even venture into the unknown territory of mobile banking.  I still don’t understand how the bank considers it a deposit if you just take a picture of a check, but the 20 year old assures me it’s a thing.

I have also become that woman, the one who is so focused on her phone as she walks across a parking lot that she walks right across a parking space just as someone is trying to pull into it.

Perhaps I should put increased capacity for multitasking on my list of New Year’s Resolutions.

Categories: Christmas, Family | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Diary of An Intrepid Camper – Day Two; The Arboretum and Lake

6:30 a.m.  I’m just going to give up on the “we should all get a good night’s sleep” comments already.  That’s all I have to say about that.

6:32 a.m.  I mean, not to go on about it, but it’s just WRONG when my kids get up before I’ve had my coffee.  I’m just sayin’.  That’s all.

6:35 a.m.  What REALLY gets me, though, is that my fake niece has NEVER, in my experience, woken up before 9 a.m. on a camping trip, and let me tell you, we have been on PLENTY of camping trips together (hence the fake relative status). And yet I can DISTINCTLY hear her voice cheerfully calling to the 12 year old, who is rummaging around, for some reason known only to her and the Almighty, directly below the spot where my bed in the camper hangs over the trailer hitch.  If I believed in karma, my faith would be shaken, because I am sure I did nothing to deserve this.  Snarky thoughts about Cameron’s Mom notwithstanding.

7:00 a.m.  The Boy Scout Husband has rescued me with a giant travel mug of the Magical Elixer of Wakefulness.  All is well with the world. I told the kids to go play over behind Cameron’s campsite.  Luckily, they have all been raised better than that and simply rolled their eyes at me.

7:15 a.m. I cannot avoid the siren call of the Camping Meal Spreadsheet, which tells me we are 24 hours overdue for a sumptuous repast of potatoes, eggs and bacon.  Fortified with enough caffeine to jump start a Jeep, I will begin pulling the ingredients out of the food boxes.  All of which look alike, I might mention, (other than the ill-fated lidless green one) and since we pack them in the van each night and pull them out each morning, they are placed in different places in the campground every day.  So finding ingredients is a little like playing a shell game.

7:45 a.m.  Having found most of the ingredients, I am ready to fire up the camp stove.  It is at this point that all the years my friend Cathy and I spent pouring ourselves into the raising of our kids culminate into a brief, yet blissful, moment of fulfillment.  The 12 year old and the fake niece just asked if they can help with breakfast. I gave myself a few seconds to savor the moment, gazing off into the trees, breathing the cool morning air and celebrating this small yet poignant victory, during which time the 12 year old and fake niece undoubtedly exchanged uneasy glances, and then I began barking orders like a drill sergeant.  Well, the newer, more enlightened, critical-thinking-skills-imparting kind of drill sergeant, anyway.  The ones that think bellowing is a last resort.  I’m all about the last resort bellowing.  You can ask my kids.  I don’t think I’m convincing anyone here so I’m going to move on now.

8:00 a.m.  Breakfast is cooking. The niece and I are sharing one camp stove while the Bacon Master Husband and the 12 year old are using the other.  The 10 year old wanders into view now and then, just long enough to check on the status of breakfast but not long enough for anyone to come up with a job for him to do.

8:45 a.m. Breakfast having been consumed, the 10 year old can avoid work no longer and has been drafted into clean up duty. To his credit, he is not complaining, other than a gargantuan wrinkling of the nose at the bacon grease.

10 a.m.  Not really sure what happened between the cleaning up of breakfast and now, but I have a vague impression that it involved a second cup of coffee and a couple of incredibly comfortable camping chairs in an indescribably luscious patch of sunlight.  The children are playing happily up the hill, something to do with light sabers, pine cones and Ferengi Rules of Acquisition,

10:15 a.m.  Piling into the van to drive back up the fire road to the site of yesterday’s hike, since SOMEONE forgot to bring her cell phone yesterday and INSISTS that she be taken back there so she can take a photo of that one really cool rock formation and set it as her wallpaper.   In her defense, to those of you with smart phones who are wondering why she couldn’t just upload the photo the Boy Scout Husband took yesterday, you must understand that she is the proud owner of the cheapest phone Verizon offers on the pay-as-you-go plan.  You have smart phones, she has a room-temperature I.Q. phone.  One that takes tiny, grainy photos that render as a postage stamp sized image with pretty colors that coalesce, with the help of reading glasses and a magnifier, into a shape that suggests a close approximation of the object portrayed therein.  But she had to have one of these photos as her wallpaper, because even if no one else can figure out what the heck it is, SHE will know, and SHE will remember how much fun it was that day, hiking with her friends, darn it.  She is going to stop talking about herself in the third person now and get back to the diary.

10:45 a.m  Mission accomplished.  Feeling smug and self-satisfied.  Children are scratching their heads and asking each other why we just did that.

11:00 a.m. Heading down the winding road from Green Valley Lake to Hwy 18, en route to the friends’ cabin.   As we approached a certain hairpin turn in the road, I shared a memory from my teen years when I camped with my youth group.  One of the boys brought his motorcycle and was kind enough to give me a ride on it.  I remember this hairpin turn well because I was yanking on the front of his jacket screaming, “Slow down, Marty, we’re not going to make it! MARTY!  SLOW DOWN!”  To which he calmly yelled back, “Just lean into the turn.  And stop pulling on my jacket.  You’re going to make me lose control.”   Ah, fond memories of yesteryear.

1:00 p.m.  Having collected the friends from their cabin (availing ourselves of their incredibly comfortable couch for a few minutes before once again steeling ourselves to face the Great Outdoors), we are now heading out on a hiking trail at Heap’s Peak Arboretum.

1:05 p.m.  The first thing we found on the trail was the biggest dandelion puff I have ever seen.  The kids knew exactly what to do.

The trail was beautiful.

2:00 p.m. Heading now to Lake Arrowhead in search of lunch. I know, I know, we should have gathered nuts and berries in the woods, but we claim ignorance due to our status as city-dwellers. We can, in our defense, sniff out a Starbucks in 2 minutes flat. You just have to know your environment and develop the skills to survive in it.


2:45 p.m. Had a lovely time eating food that I didn’t have to prepare. Since between the 12 of us we have a veritable plethora of dietary restrictions, we went to three different restaurants and arranged to meet together at the bandstand. As I approached the picnic table area with the two older girls, I was a little unsure of where to go until I saw Roger subtly gesturing to us. Well, okay, he jumped up on a table, waved both arms frantically above his head and bellowed, “HERE! We’re over HERE! Girls, we’re here!”  And this is why we are friends.

3:00 p.m. Heading down to the waterfront to take some photos now.

3:10   Here is what happens when you want to take a photo of your daughter a few feet down the railing, but your son is standing nearby. 

4:30 p.m. By now, having spend two days in the hot, dry San Bernardino Mountains, we are all thoroughly tired, sunburned and suffering from chapped lips.  I gathered the kids together to help me demonstrate what happens when you get a group of people in this condition together to pose for a photo.

4:45 p.m. Heading back to the campground. As we drove through the hairpin turn, Alan shrieked in a high-pitched voice, “MARTY!!! Slow down, Marty!” The 12 year old instantly replied, in a deep voice, “Stop pulling on my jacket and lean into the turn.” The 17 year old, who wasn’t with us the first time, looked utterly mystified, so I had to tell the story again. I have a feeling I’m going to regret sharing this little tidbit of Julia lore.

5:00 p.m. Checked the spreadsheet to see what’s for dinner. It says hamburgers. I’m still full from a late lunch, and I’m a little suspicious of the state of the burger patties, which have sat for two and a half days in a cooler that is now bereft of ice. Opting instead for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, which were slated for lunch today. Or tomorrow. Or something like that. Whatever. I have a feeling the spreadsheet won’t recover from this.

7:00 p.m. Since our friends have left the mountain for the concrete jungle of Gardena, I pulled out the Camping Surprise the 17 year old and I prepared before we left, just in case the kids suddenly got bored (read: to ensure that I am able to sit in my camp chair and read a book at least once on the camping trip). It was a bag of brand new art supplies. They fell on them like a pack of piranhas and gleefully churned out comic strips until bedtime. The 10 year old’s comic dealt, predictably, with the imaginary world that goes along with his gigantic pack of trading cards. The 12 year old’s dealt with A Stampeding Herd of Boxen.  She has obviously watched far too much Brian Regan.

9:15 p.m. The lure of the independence of tent-sleeping has apparently waned in the face of the warmth of the trailer.  Both the younger kids have opted to take their usual bunks.  The 17 year old is the die-hard hold out; having conquered her trepidation of bears and hornets, she laughs in the face of the wilderness and flaunts her tent with pride.  Being a smart 17 year old, however, she doesn’t go so far as to forgo her twin-sized air mattress.

9:30 p.m. Worn out from the day. The campground is blissfully quiet. However, having learned my lesson, I make no predictions about the quality of our sleep tonight.

Categories: Camping, Family | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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