Monday, December 28, 2015

International Christmas shopping

Christmas is over and I'm still waiting for my presents from Honduras.
According to our bank statement Marc or somebody has been busily shopping out of the country for the holidays.
First, I got a call from our credit union fraud department asking me to verify the last five charges starting with something for about $300 in a women's department store.
The robo caller didn't specify what had been purchased or where it had been purchased but listed the one big-ticket buy and a bunch of smaller charges from $4 to $11.
I told them I didn't recognize any of the charges and they were very nice about telling me they would refuse the charges and freeze my card, again.
This is probably the 3rd or 4th time this has happened to me in the past few years.
And while I totally appreciate the credit union folks for both catching and refusing the bogus charges, I really hate resetting my pin for each new card.
I have to come up with something clever and then remember to use it.
There's always a lag time where I'm punching in my PIN and it won't take it until I remember I now have a different one.
I dutifully went down to the branch office though and got a new card, a green one this time so I would be prompted to remember that this required the new PIN.
Then I checked my statement.
A charge from Honduras in the amount of $308 from Karolina's Accessories on the same day I was getting the new card.
I told the credit union and they agreed to freeze the card one more time.
They also agreed to dispute this new charge even though somehow it had slipped through after the initial trouble.
It's a pain.
I spend part of the time wondering how someone got my information and how I can be more careful in the future. The rest of the time I promise myself to avoid using my credit/debit card at all.
My routines are pretty set, though, and I rarely deal with an unknown drug dealer or cheap watch salesman on the street.
I know most of my business contacts very well and I trust them. I keep thinking I'm safe here.
We did do some shopping in California over Thanksgiving so maybe somewhere along the way there we trusted someone we ought to have avoided.
But my husband was the prime suspect for a while. I knew he was out Christmas shopping for me and I appreciate that.
I called him in and grilled him about the possibility that he might have hopped on a plane for some last-minute buying.
I told him I love him and like that he goes the extra mile for me.
However, I think shopping sprees to Honduras are over the top!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Coffee, tea, Coca Cola?

I always thought I was simply obeying the Word of Wisdom, rules for good living (or more accurately advice we Mormons believe comes from God) when I refused a Coke.
In our church, we do not drink alcohol, coffee or tea and we do not smoke.
We just don't.
And we tell our bishops we don't and won't.
Some take it so far as to avoid caffeine as well.
I've always been one of those.
So when the nurse at the hospital told me I needed some caffeine to help kickstart my system after my knee scope, I resisted.
She said my oxygen level was too low and the caffeine intake was a simple way to bring it up.
The anesthesia was apparently depressing my breathing and I could either breathe really, really deeply, cough a lot or have some Coca-cola.
I had my choice of regular Coke, diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Coke Zero or Mountain Dew.
I was hesitant.
The Word of Wisdom allows for tea in the case of medicinal need. Coke was clearly a medicinal product in this case.
I guessed it was OK.
I chose Cherry Coke.
The nurse brought it in a paper cup with a straw.
I started to sip.
Turns out I'm not really an obedient lady just for the sake of obeying the scriptures.
And I won't have to work at avoiding this particular temptation.
I can quite easily continue to live the Word of Wisdom when it comes to caffeine.
Because, as it turns out, I don't like the taste.
In my opinion, it's awful. (But it did bring my oxygen levels up!)
Now when we get into the debate about whether there's caffeine in chocolate or enough to matter, I may be in trouble.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

No thank you

We didn't hear from the electrician who looked at our project for a really long time.
A lovely wall hanging
He had stopped by one day in the evening to see what we needed to do to put in a charger unit in our garage for our Nissan Leaf.
I walked him around the basement and the garage for a while explaining that we had bought an electric car (This is part 3 or 4 of my ongoing Leaf series.) and now that it was getting colder we wanted a charging unit that took less time to recharge.
We've been pulling power from a wall outlet using what's known as the trickle charge method. It's been fine but now that the temperatures are dropping, it takes 10-12 hours to fully charge and the power draw when we're out and about is heavier.
We've had a good run and we still love the car but we were ready to be a little more independent in our choices and resources.
We told this guy we wanted to run power from the breaker box downstairs through the ceiling and basement to the garage on the other side of the house.
He shook his head and talked about replacing breakers and punching holes in the sheetrock to find the wiring and repairs, etc. He didn't seem enthused about the whole plan.
After a few weeks I figured he was outta here for us so I called him.
He dropped off an estimate the next day. For $1300 he would put in an additional subpanel, run 2-guage wire through, up, around, and get us up and going. We would buy the actual charging unit and he would put in a 220 plug.
We told my son Steven about it. Steven told us the electrician's bid was pretty much a "No, thank you!" estimate.
Steven has been our go-to guy for years. He actually finished the basement for us and has since built a deck, put in a jacuzzi tub, a wall fireplace, replaced the entire kitchen, put in air conditioning, repaired a big hole in the roof, and basically redone, painted and/or fixed most everything in the house.
He shook his head at the estimate.
"I could do that," he said, "And it wouldn't be that much."
We jumped at the chance.
Not only is Steven's work cheaper. We trust him implicitly.
When we were in California he sent word that he had a weekend free when he would be in town.
So we ordered the charge unit from our hotel in California.
Two days later, it was on our porch when we got home.
Steven went to work and now we have a tidy, handy charger in our garage that is easy to operate, portable if we ever move, and one that charges our little cute car in about a third of the time.
Steven also pointed out that 2-guage wire would never have supported the car and likely would have burned up trying! He also ran the wire through the duct tunnel without making any holes. Cool!
We paid Steven for his supplies plus a little extra for being an angel and celebrated.
We are still dancing.
We are what you might call on a power trip!