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Friday, December 23, 2005

Washer/dryer hell

Our dryer started acting wonky last weekend. It would stop in the middle of a cycle and I would have to restart it. It took forever to dry anything. We've had the washer and dryer the entire seven years we've been here and the girls who owned the house before us had bought them new two years previous to that. Since the average lifespan is 8-10 years, we decided to head to Sears to replace the both of them.

Surprisingly, the appliance dept was empty of customers. I thought there were would be more people buying for Christmas. Joyce, our saleperson, was nice, but had blue contacts with some weird shape for her iris. It was disconcerting and I tried not to stare at her. She was energetic and showed us some options.

We knew we needed a larger size to handle king-size comforters/bedspreads, so that narrowed the field down.

Since we wanted something that would last well, we settled on a Kenmore White w/Black Kenmore Elite 3.8 cu. ft. HE3 King Size Capacity Plus Front Load Washer and Kenmore Elite 7.0 cu. ft. HE4 Super Capacity Plus Gas Dryer. Plus two pedestals w/drawers and 5-year warranty. They ended up costing us under $1.00/day if they last a full 10 years.

They have lots of buttons and settings and have circuit boards inside. Talk about high-tech! The washer came with a DVD. Seriously. I should have known then that something was up.

The delivery guys showed up two days ago to take away the old washer/dryer (bye bye) and install the new ones. They look very cool in the basement. I couldn't wait to wash a load of clothes. I've never been this excited to do laundry!

Put in a full load of colors and the capacity of the washer was such that I put in two laundry basketfuls of clothes and still had room. Wow! Put the detergent, bleach and softener in and started it up. Was fascinated watching the clothes go round and round. Made me tired. I went upstairs to take a nap. Really.

When I woke up, Chris told me the high efficiency of the washer meant that when the water drained out and it was spinning, it was pushing the water out reallyfast. Which flooded the basement. Oh great.

We watched the DVD to see if there were any clues there. Instead we laughed our butts off that they had to make a DVD to show people how to use the washer.

The next morning, I decided to try a smaller load of clothes. Went upstairs while it was running, heard it beep when it was done and went downstairs.

Ack!!!

The flooding this time was worse. As I mopped up the water, I called Chris and had him call Sears, then the plumber to see if we could do anything. The standpipe was definitely tall and wide enough. Both Sears and the plumber said that because we were septic, the water being pushed out of the washer so fast was too much. The plumber said it would cost $300-$500 to fix it, if it could be fixed.

Screw that.

Called Sears and told them we had to exchange for a "regular" washer. No probs. Come in. Called Chris and he met me at Sears.

Joyce wasn't there. Mary was. She was abouot 62, short, with the smokiest voice I've ever heard. She helped us pick out a new washer. Good to go.

Refunding the HE3 was a pain in the ass. Poor Mary wasn't allowed to just return it, then sell us the new washer. She had to go to the office, on the other side of the store, while the other saleslady had to wait for Mary to call to put in the right info.

Chris wandered off, looking at plasma TVs. Uh-oh.

Mary came back and had to call Sears home office. She explained the situation. They wanted to talk to me. Mary rolled her eyes. I patiently explained to the woman on the other end of the phone that the washer flooded our basement twice, was too powerful for the septic system and we had to return it. No probs.

Mary took the phone back, ordered the new washer, refunded the HE3, pedestal and 5-year warranty, then added a 5-year warranty on the new washer. We ended up saving almost $500 total.

Then we were told Sears would call within 24 hours to schedule the exchange. Oh great - now what do we do for a washer? I was not going to go to the local laundromat over Christmas.

Mary told us, in low tones, to shut off the spin cycle completely. This meant the water would drain like a normal washer. Then, if the clothes were still too wet for the dryer, to run a short spin cycle several times.

Sounds like a plan.

Still waiting for Sears to call. The 24 hours will be up at 4:10 pm.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Updating soon

The transfer to the new server should be done by tonight. I will then post new info tomorrow morning. Cross your fingers!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Warning: Server issues

The Net Crimes web site will be moving to a new server over the weekend, so you may experience a "not found" or similar error when trying to access the site or this blog.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Minneapolis

Earlier this month I had to fly to Minneapolis. Thank goodness it was a direct flight from Boston and on both flights no one sat in the middle seat, so I had room to breathe. When we landed, it was snowing pretty good, and it was cold. Brrr.

Took the Super Shuttle from the Minneapolis airport to the Hyatt Regency downtown. Beautiful hotel, right on the Nicolett Mall. Since I have a "rewards" card with just about every hotel chain, I got an extra nice room on the "rewards" floor - the 21st floor. King-size bed with feather topper, feather pillows, granite bathroom floor and sink, larger than normal sized room with a huge picture window overlooking the Nicolett Mall.

Unpacked, called home, then freshened up to meet a writing friend D.S. Goodman (aka Dan). I've known him online for years - he was around during the whole Woodside debacle.

At around 6 pm, headed down to the lobby to find it filled with women carolers dressed up in bright red robes, singing Christmas songs. The lobby was jam packed with people walking in and out, around or hanging out. It turns out the hotel was a prime meeting place for participants and revelers for the HoliDazzle parade. Some musicians were practicing on the mezzanine, people in costumes wandered around. It was fun to watch everyone.

There was one problem. Dan had said he was going to wear an old SFCon name badge so that I could recognize him. Too many people associated with the parade and the conference I was speaking at were wearing name badges. Ack!

About 6:15 pm, a bearded guy in a parka and knitted hat walked up to me. Thank goodness it was Dan! After a quick hug, we tried to figure out where to eat. We headed upstairs to the 2nd floor where there were some restaurants. They were booked up, so we headed back downstairs. There was a restaurant down there called Taxxi, an "American bistro." We checked out the menu and decided to eat there.

Dan ran off to the bathroom, then came back and we ordered dinner - he had African chicken with couscous and I had lamb stew. I always try to eat something on my trips that I know my hubby doesn't like and he hates lamb.

We started talking and didn't stop the whole time. Dan is quite astute and funny in a quirky way. He almost seemed surprised when I laughed at his jokes. I had a glass of wine with dinner and when I looked at my watch, realized it was an hour later at home (time difference drives me crazy on trips) and knew I had to iron my outfit for the morning and get things together.

We parted at the lobby entrance, big hugs, then I headed back up to my room. I put on the TV while I got my outfit out and steamed the wrinkles out with this steam iron thingy I got on one of my other trips. I'll post more about it later, but you basically add some salt to the water and it immediately steams. And the wrinkles really do come out!

Slept well (usually don't the first night in a hotel) and got ready for my talk. Headed downstairs to register. They didn't have my name in the system, although I was in the schedule. Turns out the computer spit out all the speakers. Finally got my handouts and where I was to speak at. The conference was called TIES 2005 Education Technology Conference.

Went to my assigned room, set up my laptop and got ready for my group. It turned out to be a small one, only eight people, but not surprising since I was scheduled as a pre-conference workshop on a Sunday morning. I like smaller groups, as they are more interactive and this group was no exception. Had a great time, everyone went home with a prize (I give out things at the end and had exactly eight items to give away). Sold six books (that's a pretty good ratio). The evaluations were excellent and several had noted that I should have been part of the regular conference and to bring me back. Hooray!

Turned in the evals, took my laptop back up to my room, then headed to the sixth floor to check out the fitness area and spa. They had a treadmill, so I planned on using it after lunch. At the spa, found out that I could schedule a massage, so I did! Haven't had one in a while, so this would be a treat.

Went to the main floor for a quick lunch at the bistro, then back up to my room and changed into my fitness gear. Did two miles on the treadmill, headed back to my room to shower and change, then down to the sixth floor again for my massage. Karen, the masseuse reminded me of Jodie Foster. Very down to earth, funny and a good masseuse.

I guess I needed that massage. I was pretty sore when I went in and felt great afterwards. I bought some foot oil for my heels (which tend to crack in the winter), then went to the 2nd floor to browse whatever gift shops were open. Got a good deal on two scarf/hat sets and some other goodies.

When I went back up to my room, there was a message - a check was waiting for me at the TIES registration booth. What a difference! I usually have to wait forever for a check. Headed downstairs again to collect my check and the woman who had booked me noted that she now wished she had scheduled me during the conference. She promised to try to get me back the next year.

Hooray again!

Went back to my room, ordered room service - lamb again! Got some wine to go with it and was able to see the Holidazzle parade from my room window. It was delightful - I could hear the music all the way up there on the 21st floor. Packed, then collapsed into bed.

Got up early, got to the airport early, had a nice breakfast, then wandered the mall at the airport. This is a nice trend most of the major airports have done, putting in an actual mall inside the airport. Bought some things and heard piano music. Saw this guy pounding away at a Steinway and a woman standing near him with a table filled with CDs. Turns out he is originally from Minneapolis and came back to promote his latest album. He's a wonderful pianist, Stephen Marq. I ended up buying one of his CDs. Absolute beautiful music.

Plane left on time, arrived on time. Got home on time. Perfect trip.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My lectures in Western New York

The week of November 7th, I spent several days giving lectures to students, teachers, local law enforcement and parents about cyberbullying and online predators.

It was the first time I'd given a lecture to students under the age of 18 (I've done lectures for college kids for a couple of years now). And it was an experience, LOL!

The first morning was an assembly of over 500 kids in 7th-12th grades. They were boisterous (I remember being a teen), but a good audience. They were quiet at times during my PowerPoint presentation, especially when I showed them why it wasn't a good idea to put too much info in their profiles and when I showed examples of cyberbullying from recent news stories. I did get some questions, but not as many as I'd hoped. I had some kids come up to me afterwards to ask questions privately and overall it was good.

The kids love the KTD logo and seemed happy to find that there is a web site they can go to for info and for help if they need it.

That afternoon I did a 2-hour mini training session for teachers and local police and it went over well, as did the nighttime 1 hour lecture for parents about keeping kids safe online.

The next morning it was over 300 kids from 6th-8th grades - no high school kids. I found that this group asked the most questions and I assume it was because they didn't have to worry about the older kids making fun of them. They asked so many questions, I couldn't answer them all and got a standing ovation. That made me feel great! A surprise - the most questions were about online games (on the PC and not the Xbox or Playstation, etc) and eBay! The teachers afterward said they were shocked at how many kids raised their hands when I asked how many bought or sold items on eBay. Interesting.

My talks with teachers and parents went very well that day.

The next day, Wednesday, it was an afternoon assembly of 6th-12th graders - over 500 again. I was the last "class" of the day, and I knew they'd be kind of loud (I remember wanting to get out of school fast if an assembly was the last class), but for some reason they were overly noisy and I couldn't figure out why. No questions were asked at all at the end and I was flummoxed. Then I found out that because Veteran's Day fell on Friday, the teachers were going to do an in-service day on Thursday. That explained the noisiness - the kids were getting *four* days off and I was their last session. Pfft.

The parents lecture that night was the best of the week - over 50 people attended and a lot of my books were sold. The next day over 200 teachers (and some local police) attended - again, the biggest group of the week. What a wonderful response, good questions and a lot of books sold.

I tweaked my presentation after each time, figuring out what went over well, what didn't, and requests from some folks to add things I didn't have. So it was a "test run" that week, but now I have the presentations down pat.

I got a lot of thank-yous from the teachers and parents for the work we do at WHOA and WHOA-KTD. It's always heartening to hear that once in a while.

I think I am going to try to do more 6th-8th grade assemblies, and possibly 4th and 5th. I found the older kids were less interested, think they know everything and were too "cool" to ask questions. I figure I'll get them younger and hope they remember that I teach when they get into high school.

I learned something though - don't plan two business trips that keep me away all week with only one day at home in between. Two days after returning from the second trip (this past Monday), I got hit with a horrible cold. My body said STOP and I literally collapsed and slept for hours.

I'm back in almost fighting form and have more lectures scheduled, but I'm going to try to space them out better.