Thursday, March 29, 2012

Another A to Z list

It's Thursday, and as I said last week, Thursday will be my blogging days - until I find a better day or more reasons to blog more often.

I've decided to go on with April's A to Z challenge again this year. My first set of entries were on local sights but this year I think I'll do something a bit "easier."

When I taught school, there were always references to movies that my students, aged 12-infinity, who would be oblivious to what I was talking about. As an English teacher it was easier for me to compare our literature to visual media but without the students' prior knowledge, the attempt to clarify a concept just didn't work.

I use to tell my students that "One day, we'll have Culture Day," where I would show them all the movies that they should see when they're on cable. (Most of the movies I will put on the list are played on Brighthouse every weekend but they still hadn’t seen them.)

These aren't going to be the best movies or even the best for the alphabet category. They are just the movies I think deserve to be on the list for Culture Day. Well, Culture Month.

In other news, the weather has been super warm and nice out lately. Yesterday I opted to walk to the library early, sat in the cafe by the open door and read for hours. Afterwards, I didn't want to go home so I lingered in the park with my book for a while there too. It's an awesome change of pace from the typical chilly North-East weather. Hooray for Spring!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring is in the air - kind of

It's sunny but chilly today so I have no idea when Spring will really start. But luckily it's not cold enough to not be going outside so I can still go to the gym (even though I so need to get back on the treadmill.)

Anyway, so there was an article today about not using social media for two weeks. I really don't know how this wouldn't be good for someone to do this from time to time. For me, social networking has become less and less appealing. I absolutely love being able to keep up with my family and friends but many of them aren't using Facebook as much anymore. They have lives that don't require their smartphones. When I want to talk with them we have email or FB messenger (which a lot of people don’t use either.)

As far as Twitter goes, I have met some really cool, smart, nice and interesting people. I've also run into people who want to sell books, argue, go on anti-religion rants or be all around non-social. That's what gets me fed up a lot of times with Twitter so I started a massive overhaul of my timeline. I unfollowed the chronic reTweeters or those who are not online to just connect with new people to share ideas.

So I've been trying to be online a little less. I know people cry at the idea but for me it feels better to limit my time with the phone. Sadly I have even used the PC for days so I need to make Thursday be my blogging day when I use the computer in a constructive way. (But I do still write my posts on ye-old iPhone 3G or my HTC Sensation.)

Aside from the on-again-off-again issue with the phone, I've still not done book reviews. I don't really know if they're worth doing (Lord knows book reviews are a dime a dozen.) I have five YA books to review so I may just finish up the mini reviews and get them out of the way. I'm on a classic novel now per my New Year's resolution (no, I haven't forgotten about that) when I wanted to read the popular YA, old books I enjoyed as a teen and classic books I still haven't gotten to yet. This means I'm finally taking time with Austen.

I should also mention the debacle last week with the Citizens Advice Bureau who had an “Immigration Clinic” to help people with paperwork for their work permits, visas and leave to remain status (like me for next year.) Of course I was never told that I needed an appointment so I was escorted into an interview room to a volunteer who didn’t know as much about the process, the Immigration Clinic or the rules for the paperwork than I did. Eventually she got an answer (just one, mind you) from two advisors who, of course, were too busy with appointments or walk-ins (as I was told that my situation wasn’t as important as the other people who came in) to speak to me face-to-face. I felt bad for being snappy at the volunteer but seriously, I needed a qualified immigrations advisor for that visit. But I’m sure they aren’t going to bend over backward for an immigrant anyway even though I can’t find work or take any benefits from anyone to begin with. But I digress…

We haven't gone on any little adventures other than around town lately so I have had any photo sets to add to Flickr. But we will be headed somewhere nearby over the Easter break. The Queen gives us Easter Friday through Easter Monday off!

This weekend, of course, is for The Hunger Games!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dear PayPal, we’re through

I’ve talked about my issues with Ebay before and how PayPal has gotten considerably worse to deal with over the recent year. I’ve finally decided to cancel my PayPal account but, surprise, I can’t because their Close Account webpage form goes through the whole process, then tells me it has a “connection error.” This has been the same for the last three days.

So since all the customer service people tell me is to call their local US number, which I obviously can’t do right now, I have to resort to showing everyone else my letter that will go with my account closure statement because PayPal surely won’t listen.

I have had an incident with an Ebay seller who was sending me harassing messages over a product and I was given no support or refund on the matter. I should have closed my account then but now after I had a seller give me incorrect PayPal account info, I cancelled the payment for the unclaimed money and sent it to the seller's correct PayPal account. I was then given a negative balance in my PayPal account so, essentially, I paid for this item twice. I was given no support regarding this matter either. I also had to fight through PayPal's security procedure to get access to my own account and my own money when I changed my email address and password. To then be ripped off after that means I am cancelling my account and not coming back. PayPal needs to be more cooperative and helpful with their customers. There are way too many complaints regarding PayPal these days for this company to risk losing any more patrons. Thank you.

These are my reasons to finally close the account all together.  If they want to go through a whole process to verify who I am after changing my email address and password, just to let me use my own money, then turn around and charge me twice for something, then it’s not even worth risking the loss of $1 anymore.  It’s sad too because I use to use Ebay a lot in the US but since I’ve been here I’ve had way too many problems.  What gets me is that when you purchase something here and it gives you a “pay by card” option, you still have to agree to opening a PayPal account with that debit or credit card information. If you have an account already open, then you have to use whatever email or credit card is already listed to an account.

Sorry, no. I just can’t fight with them anymore on this.  So I’ve emailed PayPal a few times and told them their website is broken and I want my account closed. At least I was able to delete my card information off my account. That was after I paid PayPal $8 to use my own money, that is. I wasn’t even allowed to access my account until after that negative balance was taken off that was of their wrong doing to begin with.

Anyway, for those who are still buying and selling on Ebay without issue, I’m so glad you haven’t had to go through this kind of stupid stuff like I have.  For all those people who cancelled their accounts long ago and who have written complaint after complaint about PayPal’s poor service; I join your cause!


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Friday, March 2, 2012

Avoiding the flood

As if the salon across the hall and the broken shower weren't enough, we are in the midst of a full plumbing problem.

Ever since Steve bought this flat, there's been an on-again / off-again issue with the kitchen sink backing up. It usually happens when the upstairs neighbours (it's rented) use the washing machine.

This week as the washing machine upstairs started to run through, our kitchen sink started to overflow. We called a plumber who tried his best but since the blockage is a communal pipe problem, our insurance won't cover it. There was a possibility of taking off a hatch on the (very old looking cast iron pipe) under our sink but our hopes for that were quickly dashed.

A second plumber came in Wednesday and said, "no" to the possibility of opening a pipe and potentially letting gallons of water rush onto our floor and down to the apartment below us. (Poor neighbour already has a puddle in the middle of her kitchen floor from our sink.)

We found out that this is a common problem in all the blocks of flats (great) and they have to periodically go on the roof and have a pressure cleaner shoot water down the pipes to unblock it. This means that I had to orchestrate a neighbourhood watch and set up a good day when everyone will be home while they unblock said pipe. The pressure wash will apparently make all of that gunky water come up through the sinks if they're not plugged tight. Everyone has to stand by and make sure a mess doesn't occur.

After Steve called one plumbing company to come out on Saturday, they tried to tell us that they had no crews available and could come next Saturday. Since they’re a 24/7 emergency call out team I just would not accept this as an answer. Luckily, without much more than the use of my teacher voice (once you find yours, you never lose it) and the crew will be here tomorrow morning to take care of the pipes.

In the meantime none of us on our side of the block have been able to run the washing machine (the downstairs neighbour has a dish washing machine - oh, the luxury!) But as far as we can tell by Saturday once the pressure wash happens, things can go back to normal in the kitchen.

I do count our blessings though - this isn't the bathroom pipes that have blocked. Also, apparently the overseers (who were very nice about helping us plan out this plumbing extravaganza) have told Mary Kay across the hall to get rid of the waiting room outside our door. Yesterday in the evening while I was at the store, she took out the chair, the plants, and the framed Marilyn Monroe picture out of the hallway. She left a big, black rug but, whatever. I count this as a small victory.

By the way, in the five minutes that I had a chat with our downstairs neighbour in the hallway, Mary Kay had two customers come and go. She wears a uniform of salon scrubs and everything. Yup, full blown business going on over there. She is not a mobile beautician / at-home working Avon lady as she told the overseers. Amazing that she'll allowed this but we'll probably be out of this flat before she or the sink can do much more damage.

Lastly, I was turned down from my last job interview. I was kind of surprised because I thought I did well at the interview but, of course, once you leave an interview there are 100 things you think you could have said differently. But with that knowledge that there are no 9-5 job possibilities at present, it’s back to my project I go!