Thursday, February 24, 2011

It all started with the dishwasher

For someone who grew up in the stone ages (nearly), I've had a lot of computer learning to do lately.


Back in September, 2010, my dishwasher started making a funny noise. A kind of groaning that made it sound as if it were in pain. I actually made an appointment at the time for a local repairman to come and look at it, but he didn't make it in time for me to pick up the grandkids from school, so I had to cancel. What with one thing and then another, I never got around to calling him again.

On Thanksgiving Day, with the dishwasher loaded to the gills with dirty dishes and silverware (thank goodness I decided to use paper plates for the very first time), it gave one last terrible groan when I turned it on, and died a horrible death. Everything that been carefully loaded had to be unloaded and washed and dried by hand, including all the stuff that didn't fit into it in the first place. I have to admit there was some brief cursing, and then tears. The next day, while everyone else was out braving Black Friday sales, I was at Kroger getting more paper plates and plastic utensils. Thank goodness there were no more big meals to prepare. We mainly ate leftovers.

After calling my handy repairman for a telephone conference regarding whether it would be practical to repair, he gave me the bad news. The cost of repairs would be approximately 1/3-1/2 the cost of a new machine. It wasn't a difficult decision to make. So, on Monday morning off I went to Home Depot to scope out a new dishwasher. David had told me (after nearly killing himself installing the dead dishwasher years ago) that he didn't care how much it cost for installation, but I lucked out; they had a special on appliance installation...only $49. Caught a break there! Choosing one wasn't too difficult. I went with a mid-level LG, computerized (what isn't these days), white to match the rest of my appliances.

When they pulled it up on the computer, it turned out there was a back-order time of three weeks. Okay, not too bad. With just David and me here, I could handle washing dishes for a few weeks, and it would be delivered two days before Christmas Eve...just in time for the Next Big Holiday. Two days before set delivery time, I received a phone call from LG explaining that it would not be delivered until January 18. It seems there was a shortage of Energy Star appliances due to the end-of-the-year rush to buy them before the Home Energy Tax Credit expired.

The only good thing I can say about washing dishes by hand is it makes arthritis feel better for a little while, but that benefit is offset slightly by the dishpan hands. Boy, am I spoiled.

The dishwasher was finally installed as promised. The computer is a little finicky. We have a well and sometimes our water pressure is a little low, so it reads as a "water leakage problem", or E1, on the computer panel readout. I just have to wait a few minutes for the water pressure to build back up and then restart it.  Oh, and it plays a little electronic tune at the end of the cycle to let me know when it's done. Isn't that sweet?


For Christmas, David and I decided to buy a new computer as our old desktop was on its last legs, and slower than smoke in January. We had been wanting a laptop for quite a while, so we can take it with us when we start the retirement travel in the new "home on wheels".  Everyone we know who has a MacBook raves about them, so we took the leap (they had a $200 instant rebate, because of the brand-new Air) and bought a MacBook Pro with the reassurance from the sales person and everyone who owns one that there is barely a learning curve. "It's so easy. You won't have any problems getting used to it." Well, maybe if you have a four-year degree in computer science. The damn thing didn't even come with a manual. 

Thank goodness David is savvy in computer ways and set up the Wi-Fi converter and configured everything, or I would still be typing this on the old s l o w computer. I finally downloaded a copy of the tutorial to my documents, and figured out a few things on my own or by Googling, but there is still a lot to learn. I did have to get an external "wee little mousie" though. The different pressure of pressing and clicking on the internal one was killing the carpal tunnel in my right hand/arm. Now if I could just figure out how to get all those cool fonts and thingamajigs that come with Mac and iWorks into my blog posts, I would be all set. Well, I can, but only Mac users can see them. And there's no Mac version of Photoscape, although Picasa now has Piknik editing, which, if I would cough up the extra dough and buy the upgrades, is probably as good. Or if I would bite the bullet and purchase Photoshop. Can't afford it after buying the Mac. I've always liked going FAST, so I am more than thrilled with the speed of this baby.


My sewing machine, a Kenmore that David bought for me as a Christmas gift, is 35 years old. It has been a steady rock and has made countless items of clothing, home decor, crafty gifts, etc. My trusty sewing machine repairman/clock maker in Pittsburgh told me I should never get rid of it, but if I decided to do that, to please let him know first. It has all steel parts and they don't make them like that anymore. It isn't fancy, even though it was considered so at the time we bought it. About sixteen years ago, I added a  serger machine as a companion. If you don't know about sergers, they are wonderful machines that overcast and cut the seam allowance to a professionally finished edge, all in one motion. The only drawback to them is the threading, which can be a real bitch. You have the upper looper, the lower looper, the right needle and the left needle. 

A couple of weeks ago, when I started making the shopping bags, everything was going along smoothly,  after having made two of them. All of sudden, my machine started acting crazy and I was ripping out more seams than I was putting in. There was some cursing, but no tears. I had to go to Dublin anyway, so I decided to go to Jo-Ann Fabrics to use a couple of coupons burning a hole in my pocket, and to get more fabric to make more shopping bags, even though I was frustrated with my machine. I happened to walk by the sewing machine department and the kindly, sweet sales lady lured me in with her damned sweet talk. This is what I bought. 

The Husqevarna Viking Emerald 183. It is totally computerized (of course) and makes 80+ fancy stitches and makes professional-looking buttonholes, and all I have to do is touch a couple of buttons. Okey-dokey. It's complicated enough that one needs a class, which doesn't start until May. So, I'm on my own until then. The machine is completely foreign to me, from threading the needle to winding the bobbin and everything in-between. It has a speed governor on it (you know, because apparently it knows I like to go FAST), which confounds me to no end. It starts out  s  l  o  w  and then a little faster until it reaches full speed. By the time that happens, I'm at the end of the seam. I'm sure once I learn to use it, I will love it as much as my old one. But, I saved the box, because the jury is still out. 


When I'm sewing I keep my ironing board and iron nearby, as all good seamstresses do, because pressing before and after you sew is half the battle. Well, I was pressing away when, suddenly, my 15-year-old Rowenta steam iron jumped from my hand and landed just the right way as to smash the whole back-end, which conveniently covers up all the iron inner workings. I still had some immediate pressing to do, so I duct-taped that sucker back together to finish what I was doing. So, on my next trip to Dublin (see above), after doing mega-research with Mr. Google, I decided to stick with the same brand, but one that is especially good for sewing, because it has a pointy end. It isn't computerized, thank goodness, but there is a learning curve attached to it.  I got it on sale at Macy's, plus I had a discount of 10%.  The steam it puts out would supply a two-person sauna, and I have to be careful not to steam the ends off my fingers when I'm pressing a seam with it. It also reminds me of lifting an anvil every time I pick it up, but, by golly, it gets rid of the wrinkles lickety-split.  Just in time to iron the twenty shirts that have been piling up in the laundry room.


KERPLUNK!  SPLASH!  Those are two sounds you don't want to hear when you are pulling up your pants in the powder room. I know that because I have heard them more than once. That made the third cell phone that I have drowned. Though the dunkings have been brief, it has been enough to scramble the inner workings of those necessary gadgets. One previous time, I was able to dry out my phone by taking everything apart and putting it in the toaster oven on the lowest setting for a little while, but it was a very simple one compared to my touch-screen. 

So, off I headed to Verizon, thinking, "Now I can get the iPhone!" On arrival, I was informed that the waiting list was about a month long. I had plans to go out of town the next day for the weekend and didn't want to be traveling without my lifeline, so I agreed to give the LG Vortex a Android...a Smartphone. Well, trying to learn its quirks, its ins and outs, its ups and downs, made me feel like a Dumb Robot. I could no longer type a text easily. I was used to the QWERTY slide-out keyboard, and I was getting pretty fast. The Vortex has a QWERTY, but it's all on the screen, and it is extremely sensitive. My daughter was cracking up every time she received a text from me. They were barely decipherable. And I thought the MacBook was difficult!

It has so many apps that I was just a "ball of confusion", and, of course, when you're standing in front of the nice young salesman who is explaining five hundred different "wonderful things you can do with your new Vortex", it all sounds so simple. Not. I had 14 days to return it for a different phone, and I nearly did about a hundred times. But each day I learned how to do something new with it. My fingers got a little less clumsy on the screen. I found out I can play Lexulous (think Scrabble) with my friends when I don't have a computer. It takes pretty good pictures and I can actually upload them directly to Facebook, which I couldn't do with my other phone. I can get Google GPS and give it voice commands for directions, and it will steer me around any accidents or traffic jams. All in all, it's a pretty jammin' phone. My sister Judy says when she goes into a store to buy a new cell phone or a new computer, she always tells the salesperson to give her the most complicated one they have. She says it keeps her brain from getting mushy. I think she's right. I can feel my brain getting firmer every day.

Postscript:  The old phone actually survived after about a week of drying out, but don't tell David. It's the one he's going to get when he retires in November and he loses his company phone. Ssshhh.


Susan said...

I have no idea why that one paragraph is a different size font than the rest. I was mucking around with the design, as I am sure you've noticed, so that's probably it. You can't trust me with a computer, I'm tellin' ya.

Tattered and Lost said...

First off you have me terrified that the 33 year old dishwasher in this house is going to fail and I'm going to have to get one of those new danged computer thingies. This means I will be standing in my kitchen screaming at a dishwasher. Sometimes I wish computers would just exit my life. That said...

I've been a Mac person since my first computer. If you need help just email me.

As to's big, expensive, and fantastic. However, it's usually way too much for most people. If you've got basic needs look into Photoshop Elements which is less than $100 and can be downloaded from the Adobe site.

As to fonts on the blog check into Bloggers post on their Blogger Buzz, The Quick Brown Fox, dated January 20th which now shows the various fonts you can easily use from within Blogger. It's easier than worrying if the fonts you've chosen are OS specific.

CottageGirl said...

LOL! I feel your pain sister!
Since August I have been learning as I go, putting together an iMovie presentation for our 4 retiring teachers to show at the retirement dinner in April.

I also have just finished putting together individual books for the retirees from Blurb.

For the last several days I've been UNSUCCESSFULLY working with 2 different projectors to display the aforementioned presentation!

(FYI ... I've had my macbook pro for a year and a half and am STILL learning new things ...)

In November I got an iPad ... more learning! Then 2 weeks ago, to add insult to injury, we got an apple tv with netflix and a new fancy remote to coordinate all of our new devices with our TV ... plus the wii!

We are still working on the remote!!!

My sister and I also do Scrabble on the iPads.

I am sooo overwhelmed with technology!

Hang in there, Susan! Your in good company! With all of the technology we had to deal with, our brains are getting going to be massive ...

They'll be soon calling us coneheads! ;->

CottageGirl said...

Sorry .. That's ... "you're"!!

steviewren said...

After reading this post, I can see that I'm standing on a precipice, metaphorically, waiting for the day that everything I own falls apart. It's all old. I guess I need to start saving.

You'll get past the learning curve soon!

ds said...

A MacBook Pro and an android phone--I am very impressed! You are developing some mad skillz, lady. And your dishwasher serenades you. Lovely! (mine is at the groaning & cursing stage--or is that me; it's hard to tell)
Have fun with all of your new toys! (and do look into Adobe Elements; it can be a little s l o w at times, but I've done some pretty neat nonbloggy things with it. Only just discovered it will do bloggy things as well. This is after 4 years...)

Judy said...

You are so funny

Char said...

i got an iphone for my personal phone after finding out what cool things can be done after using one for work. it does keep the brain occupied

Susan said...

Tattered, you have a 33-yr-old dishwasher?!! Wow! The one that died here was only 6 or 7. I blame it on the water softener building up sodium chloride deposits.

Why does Mac have such a crappy photo-processing software installed? iPhoto sucks and is pretty worthless, IMO, unless there's some secret to it that I'm missing. I used to have the free Adobe PS Elements on my old computer, but abandoned it for Picasa and Photoscape. Maybe I'll give the purchased one a try, if they have a trial period.

I did actually find the new fonts in advanced design when I was changing the background colors around, I wanted to use one of the cool hand-writing ones, but figured it would get tiresome after a while. I'm using Crimson Text now.

Susan said...

CG, oh, boy! I don't think there's any hope for me! I've been looking at the Apple TV, too, but I don't think I can deal with another remote or device right now.

I tried Scrabble on FB, but I like Lexulous because it runs faster, for some reason. See, I told you I like FAST.

I do think you're head is starting to feel a little pointy! LOL

Susan said...

Stevie, LOL, I know just what you mean. I'm thinking the next things to go will be the washer and dryer.

I guess it's a good thing you just got a new job. The thing I like about Home Depot is their credit card. If your purchase is over $299, you can take at least 6 months (sometimes 12) to pay it off, same as cash. We've bought a lot of stuff from them that way. Too bad they don't sell Macs. :)

Susan said...

ds, I don't know about "mad skillz", but I'm starting to feel like I've come into the 21st century, for sure.

I will definitely look into the Elements software. Not that I've been doing much with my camera lately. Hopefully I will feel more photo creativity when spring arrives. There are only so many pictures you can take of snow, ice, mud, then more snow and ice. Ugh, I'm so over winter. We got 2 or 3 more inches during the night. Spring, where are you?

Susan said...

Sissy, it runs in the family. :D

Susan said...

Char, I really wanted an iPhone, but couldn't wait a month or more. The sales guy assured me the Vortex could do just as much. I don't know about apps, though. I always see such cool ones advertised for iphones.

Sandy Nawrot said...

It is a huge pain in the ass when things break, but so much fun to replace them with new toys! You've got it all goin on now!

The Bumbles said...

I think all non-Mac users feel like complete idiots the first time they lay their hands on one. It is easy - once you get going - much like anything else. I took my iPad out of the box and after shaking that empty box upside down for a few minutes waiting for the manual to fall out I sat there a bit befuddled. My brother explained that I needed to go on my computer to the iTunes site and then do some stuff from there. I still don't understand why I need a computer to use an iPad but whatever. I love that little guy!

Cora said...

Boy have you been busy...some of this new technology drives me crazy!! Your post reminds of "when it rains it pours" :)
Take care......

Oliag said...

I have to say that I laughed out loud reading this post:) I am trying hard to keep my old noisy dishwasher and washer and dryer I am wishing I bought a noew washer and dryer last year for the tax break! I am always a day late and a dollar short:)

I do think, like your sister, that learning all this new stuff is the only thing keeping my brain fresh!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Deborah said...

You know, I was thinking as I read this that lots of people blog about day-to-day stuff and it just gets so tedious and boring that you just stop following, but OTHER people - like that Susie over at Bear Swamp - have a fabulous knack for making the littlest things highly entertaining. I don't care if you only blog once in a blue moon - it just makes you even more of a treat.
Thanks for a bunch of laughs (AND a big snort, at the start of Chapter 5) on a grey morning in the south of France.

alaine@éclectique said...

Thanks for a great laugh, I don't get too many of them! I'm always looking for ways to 'firm my brain' hilarious!

Susan said...

Oh, yeah, Sandy, I love, love, love new gadgets. I complain about the confusion, but I guess I'm like my sister and love trying something new. Hopefully that brain thing is working. LOL

Susan said...

Molly, I know! That confused me to no manual? WT...!! Oh, there are all kinds of books you can buy online from Amazon, but I'm a touch and learn kind of person. Books usually confuse me even more. I'm surprised I do as well as I do with cookbooks. LOL

One of my best friends is so scared of computers, that she won't even sit down and try to learn. I need to spend about a week with her. I can remember having that feeling twenty years ago.

Susan said...

Cora, sometimes technology tries to get the better of me, but I just "wrassle" that sucker until it cries "Uncle!". I found out long ago that there isn't any question too dumb to're only dumb if you don't ask.

Why is it that when one thing goes, three or four others do, too? I guess it's like dominoes.

Susan said...

Oliag, I think you may be in luck. I believe they extended the tax credit for this year, too. You should check into it. Try that 6 months, same as cash thing at Home Depot (I'm pretty sure Lowe's has it, too). Of course, you have to open a line of credit, but to me it was worth it not having to pay interest on things you have to have in a hurry. It usually doesn't take so long to get a delivery. I would suggest not waiting until the end of the year though.

Glad I gave you a chuckle! :)

Susan said...

Hi, Deb! Where ya been?

I'm so happy that you were able to laugh at my misfortune! :D I usually wear jeans and the phone is safely enclosed in the pocket, but that day I was wearing a pair of khakis, because the jeans were all in the wash. I forgot how much bigger those pocket openings are! I'm sure I'll be careful for a while and then I'll forget again someday, as usual.

I actually used the sewing machine yesterday and there was no cursing or screaming, so I guess I'm gonna keep it. :)

Susan said...

Hi, Alaine! I'm glad I gave you a hearty laugh today! I always try (eventually) to find the humor in situations. What's the use in crying? Right?

We've had plenty of gray days here, too. Gray and snowy!

Ruth said...

Susie . . . chapters!! I love it. I'm ready for a book of Susie essays. Now.

Ohhh those dishes right at the holidays, piling up and up and up. Unbelievable. I think I heard the brief cursing up one state!

Yay Mac! I had my own brief cursing after getting mine, especially when Peter would look at me like I was s l o w for not thinking everything about it was brilliant from the start.

I have an old black Singer sewing machine my dad got me back when I was a teenager. I love the steel parts too. It just never has any problems. I don't have any of those fancy attachments though. But you got a new one!! How exciting. I love that term "speed governor" - wow.

One of my favorite things to do when quilting is pressing the seam to one side, or open, depending on the quilt. Mmmmm. (Am I anal, or what?) Ha about the sauna from the iron!! I always get cheap irons, and they stink.

And a smart phone! I am very impressed. I know I will be the last to get one. Now if I email you, you can read it on your phone! I worry about being on the thing all the time, but Peter assures me that you start out that way, checking mail every few seconds, but after a while you can develop discipline not to be on it all the time.

I love this post about your new technological gizmos.

Susan said...

Hiya, Ruthie!

I don't know where that chapter thing came from...probably where most of my ideas come from, out of my.....well, we won't go there! :)

I'm getting used to the new sewing machine. I actually finished a bag yesterday with no cursing. It's as if my brain just clicked and it started making sense. I think I was on tech overload.

I always press every seam as I go. It just makes for a nicer looking, more accurate product. I don't think you're anal at all. I'm not getting rid of my old machine. I'll probably take it in for service and keep it for a backup. You know how these new-fangled computer machines are. I'll be very surprised if this new one lasts half as long as my Kenmore has.

I put up with cheap irons for years, until I met my friend Lynn who is a fantastic professional seamstress (she trained under a tailor and has made entire suits!). She has always used Rowenta irons since they became available in the States. They are worth the extra $$.

Peter's right about the smartphone. I messed with it a lot the first couple of weeks, mostly learning how to use it. But now it's just a tool. You get over it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my! Oh, my! You're story is worse than mine and I just realized I forgot to mention my iron (love your temporary duct-tape solution) in my post and my CD player too. What is happening?

I hate learning curves, even though I know they are supposed to be good for people my age - creating new pathways in the brain and all that. I think you'll like your Mac after you get used to it. My daughter-in-law keeps urging me to get Photoshop.

As for the dishwasher.. we had to replace ours last year and we bought a mid-range one too. I'm all about mid-range when it comes to appliances.

I hope all your new purchases live long and prosper.

Deborah said...

I've been under a rock. Missing you, actually. And I love that you love gadgets too!

Susan said...

Haha, Bella! I guess appliances and gadgets get communicable diseases, too. When one goes, it's contagious. I forgot to include my food trusty Cuisinart that I had for 14 years. The piece on the lid that makes it turn on broke and I had to get a new one. I went with Kitchenaid this time, because I'm trying to buy things made in the U.S., and all Kitchenaid appliances are made right here in Ohio. The iron is made in Germany, but at least it wasn't China. :(

I've been thinking about trying Photoshop Elements, which I've heard is more simple to use. It's less expensive, too. There's a trial version you can download for free.

Yes, I'm all about mid-range, too. I don't have a designer kitchen, so those high-end appliances would look out of place here. And the cost is just ridiculous. I like to watch HGTV, but I don't have to live it. :)

Susan said...

Deb, I missed you, too! That must have been a long rock. ;-)

I've been saving up my phone ear. :)

Dutchbaby said...

You are a kick, Susie! I remember the Christmas at my in-laws when the microwave oven went on the fritz. We had to relearn how to heat up the dishes the old-fashioned way.

Then there was the time when our dishwasher failed and I realized that our kids had never done dishes by hand. I ran out and bought fancy black-and-white polka-dot rubber gloves and then bought Williams-Sonoma's Winter Forest dish soap. I "forgot" to call the repair man for weeks because I loved our time together after each meal and our kitchen smelled like a forest every night.

I still use an ancient Singer that I bought from my ultra-talented seamstress friend when she bought her newfangled Bernina. She gave me all the monogram and buttonhole attachments too. I'm toying with the idea of buying a serger but I can't figure out where I would store it. I may ask you about brands and features...

Rowenta rocks!

Your kerplunk story is hysterical. One time, long ago, one of my colleague's beeper (yes, I'm that old) fell in the toilet when pulled up her culottes (back when they were in fashion in nineteen-forgotten). We watched it dance around the conference room table for five minutes before the battery finally died.

My favorite iPhone app is "Around Me", the Android equivalent is at I also love reading books on my free Kindle app when I'm in the car waiting for my son to finish rowing or when I can't sleep in the middle of the night.

I won't tell David about your self-healing phone :-)

Dutchbaby said...

P.S. Your brain is far from mushy!

Susan said...

Oooh, Winter Forest dish soap! That sounds lovely, Dutchbaby. You know, washing dishes by hand with someone you love is a wonderful opportunity to talk and share. I miss the times my mom and I would do the dishes.

I still sometimes heat up leftovers the old-fashioned way. :) Especially if it's a large amount. It's actually quicker.

I have a Juki serger that I bought around 1994. I used it heavily for a while, but then got away from sewing when we moved here 11 years ago. At the time, the only place I had to sew was in the basement and I couldn't get into it. I need windows. I moved it to one of the guest rooms a couple of years ago, but really hadn't got excited about sewing until I started making these bags. I want to make some sundresses for the little girls before it gets hot. They're so easy to sew for.

My new phone has something similar to your "Around Me". I can't think what it's called right now, but it's pretty awesome. I love how I can just say an address and it pulls it up on the Google GPS. I can go anywhere and not get lost! It's wonderful for exploring places you've never been before.

I'm glad you enjoyed reading about the assault on my wallet! :-D

Ruth said...

Love those sap buckets, Susie! Don already made a little bottle full. :-)

Susan said...

Suh-weet! Ruthie, that's the farm where we buy our maple syrup. This should be a pretty good year for sap. I can't believe Don already has some syrup made! He needs a whole forest of maple trees! Especially now that he doesn't have fowl to care for. :)