Success at last!

Yes, I have FINALLY got the Tracphone working.

However, that doesn't mean the problems have been resolved. Oh no, we're on the FIFTH go round of "We'll definitely have it fixed in 48 hours." Yeah, right.

At least one of the last customer service reps I talked to had sense enough to tell me that even if I couldn't use my credit cards to put minutes on, I could go to someplace like Walmart and buy an airtime/minutes card, and then use that to put airtime on the phone.

So when Jonathan and I went to get groceries today, we also bought one of those cards. Since the airtime ran out on May 15th, that meant the phone had to be reactivated, which meant I had to call to have the minutes put on. Otherwise I could have done it from a menu on the phone itself.

At any rate, I called, and the phone is now working. At first the guy said they'd email me a new phone number, and I had a HISSY FIT. I informed him I was told at the beginning of this fiasco that since they were the ones trying to fix the problem, I would be able to keep the old phone number even though the phone was inactive.

9 days later of their inept problem solving, and they wanted to go back on their word and give me a new number. No sirreeeeeee dude!

Bottom line.... the phone has more airtime and is working. It still has the same number. But I STILL have to call back in another 48 hours to see if they corrected the problem with being able to get online or using my credit cards.

They've given me all kinds of stories, even to the point of telling me one of the cards had fraudulent activity on it. Oh no buddy, I know better than that! I emailed the service department of the card in question to double check, but I have email alerts on my credit card. Every time something is charged, I get an email telling me where to and how much. When I use the card at the store, the email is waiting or me when I get home. I positively KNOW it is NOT anything wrong with my credit cards. The problem is on THEIR end!

As for Jess and no work... that didn't last long! He got work pouring in faster than he could do it last week. In fact, he has more than enough work to keep his busy this coming week also!

In the meantime he's outside trying to fix our lawnmower. I believe he said there was some problem with a belt. And I think he was going to fix a broken perch in the peafowl's pen.

As for me, I'm working on an updated business plan, and disengaging myself from any gurus or companies that aren't in line with what I want to focus on.

And of course, there's always farm and housework!

In other words, we'll are still busy!!!

So there you have it, the latest news from our neck of the woods.

Three is NOT charming!

Okay, I know the old saying, "Three's a charm." but I've got to tell you, today I am not finding the number 3 charming. Not. at. all.

#1 Uncharming incident was getting up and try to check my email, and once again, NO internet service. I called customer support. Let me say here and now, I have a love/hate relationship with Mediacom Internet. When it's working, of course it's wonderful. But when it's not and you have to contact them, it is most decidedly BAD NEWS.

I have called them many, many times over the years. The first thing the system does is ask for your phone number and checks to see if there is an outage in the area. I think MAYBE that one out of 25 times it will actually tell me that yes, there is an outage in this area and that's the end of that because then I know they'll have someone out to work on it.

But usually I get the "There is no reported outage in your area" and shunted over to a different automated system.

This one has an oh-so-cheery female voice that is going to help me figure out what is wrong. She asks a zillion questions, but the bottom line is a) unplug your modem, and b) wait a few seconds then plug it back in, and c) oops, it STILL ISN'T WORKING and she doesn't know what to do so sends your information to a LIVE tech. (About time!)

Of course, all that rigamarole takes about 20 minutes, and is insulting because anyone who has had a problem with their internet going out, after the first go round already KNOWS to unplug the modem so it will reset.

So after maybe half an hour I finally got to talk to a real person, repeated all my information, and was told, "Oh, there's an outage in your area."

#$%@% No kidding!

I told him very politely what I thought of their automated system, and how ridiculous it is, and how it wasted at least 30 minutes of my time to tell me what I already knew! He agreed, but do you think anything will ever be done?

No, it will not. Because Mediacom thinks that stupid automated system is saving them money, because they sure wouldn't want to have to pay another tech. Never mind how much we're all paying them every month for internet service, and do you think we get a refund when it doesn't work? No, we do NOT!

But I mentioned 3 things didn't I?

#2) I work online. I have several blogs. I was trying to do something with one of them I've done many, many times before, but two accounts have crossed wires on one of the systems, and it won't work. I have an email into support, but so far, the problem hasn't been resolved. In the mean time, that blog is sitting there with no spam protection and is not collecting stats. I'm sure it will eventually get worked out. I hope.

#3) Tracphone. Ohhhhhh, tracphone. The airtime on the one Jonathan uses was due to expire today. I always go online, put in my user name and password, and add airtime.

Well, not today.

First off, the system wouldn't accept the user name and password. Here again, this is something I've done many, many times. The information hasn't changed. I thought maybe they had a system-wide glitch and tried to enter the user name and password for my phone. That went right through. So I tried to get a new password for Jonathan's phone. The system informed me that email was not in their records and contact customer support.

So I did.

Trying to get a straight answer as to why I suddenly can't get into my account never happened. I spent well over an hour on this. When it became obvious I wasn't going to get an answer, I was going to let them put the airtime on.

So the first person tried it, and said the system wouldn't take my credit card. What??? I tried to give her a different one then, and she needed to send me to someone else. (It's called passing the buck, ha!)

I explained my situation again, and this guy told me I could go online and put airtime on the phone without actually logging into my account. So I tried it.

It didn't work.

Then he tried it with two different credit cards, both of which I KNOW are in excellent standing. It didn't matter. The system wouldn't take it.

I asked him if this had anything to do with the fact somebody used my name and address and stolen credit card number to buy a bunch of stuff from Tracphone a few months ago. He didn't think so. Okay, then what IS the problem? He didn't know.

The bottom line with this one is that I have a ticket number, and am supposed to call back in 24 hours to see if they know what the problem is, but he also said they'd know in 24 to 48 hours. So I might call and they still won't have an answer.

By the time I hung up, it was getting dark and we needed to go out and do chores. My lady llama was as crabby as me and tried to spit on me. That's unusual. She usually spits at Jess, not me.

When we came back in I sat down and looked at my email.... and saw THREE transaction alerts from the credit card company for charges from TracPhone! Considering someone has stolen my credit card information twice, and NO, not from on-line..... well, I'm more than a little paranoid about my credit cards!

So I called TracPhone back. As I suspected, those charges are from when they tried to put airtime on my phone, but should go OFF the credit card because their system didn't accept my account getting new airtime.

We shall see. You can bet I'll be keeping my eyes open on this one. If I see those charges pop up on my account, there will be a lot more phone calling happening!

In the meantime, I'm hoping the rest of this day is QUIET. Boring. Serene. Peaceful. Nice. No glitches.

I can dream, can't I?

Plugging Away

Jess is momentarily out of work, so he decided to stay home today and help me in the basement. We managed about 4 hours of work down there, and that did me in. Jess however, being a tough old geezer, went out and tilled his garden and mowed a little grass. He must have ate his Wheaties this morning!

We got two sections of shelving cleared out and rearranged. There are three levels, about 25-inches deep, and each section about 4-feet long. There was a set of bookshelves on top of one section with a bunch of stuff too. AND an unbelievable amount of stuff sitting on the floor in front of the shelves.

We took all of that outside, sorted through it, decided on a more-or-less permanent disposition of the items, then put the stuff back. We had a lot of leftover and never used paint and some gardening stuff in that area. Not to mention extension cords, old tv converter boxes, and what-not.

There's a couple of boxes by the door now for the "give-away" stuff, and a bunch of boxes of foot-square floor tiles I'm going to see if I can sell on Craig's List. I don't see any of us wanting to crawl around putting these tiles down on the basement floor. I actually got them thinking I'd use them in a bathroom or the kitchen, but a nice vinyl flooring was so much easier to put down!

So here's what it looks like now:

I'm glad I took before and after pictures, because when we were done for the day, it was hard to see what we'd accomplished. Jonathan helped me put it into perspective though by telling me from the square surface area, we'd cleaned out an entire room!

However, one thing is painfully (literally!) clear. It's going to take a long time to finish this project considering all the space and how many sets of shelving there are in the basement and that I can only clean in shorter periods of time. No all day cleaning sprees I'm afraid!

I'd hoped to finish it within a month. It's obvious that isn't going to happen. I guess I can live with that as long as we keep it a priority and keep chipping away at it.

I want a clean basement and a nice smelling house!

Gardening Overload

Life is busy as usual. Jess still has a lot of work. Jonathan has been working more than 40 hours a week, even going in on one of his usual days off.

And of course, I always seem to have more to do than I can manage to get done.

But in the midst of all this we planted a garden. My original idea was a few tomato plants, a few pepper plants, maybe some flowers. But once Jesse started tilling he just kept going.

This morning we went and bought some plants. Jess wanted to have a variety of tomato and pepper plants. I think he succeeded in that mission.

For we now have these varieties of tomato plants in our garden:

  • 1 Lemon Boy
  • 1 Cherokee Purple
  • 3 Mountain Pride
  • 3 Rutgers
  • 6 Early Girl
  • 6 Roma
  • 6 Park's Whopper
  • 6 Burpee Big Boy
  • 6 Better Boy
  • 6 Celebrity
  • 9 Atkinson
  • 9 Brandywine
That makes 62 tomato plants. And of course, we also have 13 pepper plants:

  • 1 Gypsy
  • 3 Golden Summer
  • 3 Sweet Banana
  • 6 California Wonder

That makes a total of 75 plants in our garden.

When questioned what he was going to do with the produce from that many plants, Jess said, "Eat it!" I told him no way he could eat all that, so then he declared he'd give a lot away.

I believe we may have a teensy bit more garden than we really need. Gardening overload indeed!

What's That Smell?

First off, I can't believe it's been 12 days since I last posted. We've been home some time since my last post of April 20th, having motored back the 24th & 25th of April. Last week was "catch up" time, trying to get caught up on all the stuff that was not done the 9 days we were gone.

And of course, one of the bad things I noticed when we got home was the smell. It's one of the banes of my existence. I'm sure it's the first thing anyone notices when they come to our house, and wonder, "What's that smell?"

There's no getting around it, the house stinks.

Of course, when we're here all the time, we get used to it and don't notice it so much. But after being gone a while and coming back... oh yeah, it's still there.

I have tried air filters of all sorts - ionic, HEPA, charcoal. The carpets have been shampooed. There are air fresheners sitting around all over the house, and scented oils.

All those things help, but it's a temporary fix. The smell may seem like it's gone, but it always comes back.

I've about come to the conclusion that one or both things are at the bottom of this smell. One is the carpet. It's been here since we moved in and looked a little worse for wear even then. We had problems with cats spraying some places, and they were put outside and the carpet then cleaned with stuff that was supposed to remove the cat urine.

And maybe it did. The smell doesn't really remind me of cat.

I think it is more likely the basement is the main source of the odors. It flooded several times before we got it fixed. No telling what kind of mold is growing underneath the paneling or inside the blocks.

And it has lots of cardboard boxes. Many of these got damp. They are probably still drawing dampness. More mold/mildew and odor.

I've done a lot of research into getting odors out of a house, but I just recently found something that may actually do the trick. It was used in New Orleans to remove the black mold and other mildew and smells from houses. Of course, they would tent a house and fumigate it. But now you can buy packages that do one room at a time. It's supposed to be non-toxic, but at the same time, it's still supposed to get rid of all the molds, mildews and odors.

So I'm on a mission. I've enlisted the help of the two J's here. The game plan is this:
  • Clear the basement of all cardboard - everything in cardboard boxes needs to be put in plastic bins if it's worth keeping, or given away or thrown away.
  • Once the basement is cleared out and cleaned up, time to "bomb" it with this stuff to kill all the nasties and odors.

Of course, the upstairs needs "bombed" too. I even read that it's a good idea to do the attic at the same time to get rid of any problems there.

We got started on the project this past weekend, and Jess had quite a bonfire burning up cardboard boxes that were already empty or easily emptied. We bought our first batch of bins to get started on sorting. We got rid of a bunch of plastic grocery sacks that have been accumulating for a long time by taking them to be recycled. We have a place fairly well cleared out for a "staging area" as we sort things into categories of give away, recycle, throw away, or put in a bin to keep.

This is all a lot of work. LOTS. And it's not exactly cheap either to buy a bunch of plastic bins and to buy enough stuff to clear the entire house of any molds, mildews or odors. But I'm tired of being embarrassed for anyone to come to our house.

Somehow, we've got to get this work done. I don't want the first thing someone wonders when they walk in our house to be, "What's that smell?"