Monday, April 28, 2008

New Phone Numbers Travel Fast?

Two days ago I got a new cell phone. I immediately sent the phone number to family & friends via email. The first call I received was from my brother in Mexico. He has a Skype account and was calling me in Northern NY via his computer for .021¢/minute. That's cool. Since then I have gotten three more phone calls on my new phone, all computer generated tele-marketing calls. You know, the ones that start out "there's nothing wrong with your account but it is very important that you call us back at..." or "please hold the line for an important message". If it is so important why didn't a human being place the call? I occasionally get those same calls on our land line too even though that number is on the NYS and national 'Do-Not-Call' lists. I used to wait to get a human then give them a hard time "Don't you know you can be fined for calling a number on the Do-Not-Call list?" but Diane thought I was being excessively rude so now I just hang up before the human takes over from the computer. If it rings again immediately I just ignore it.

So what's the story here? Is Verison feeding new phone #s to tele-marketers as fast as they issue them? If so, that sucks. Somebody must be since there is no directory of cell numbers. We're paying for this service so I can be in touch with family and friends, not so that there will be a new channel for shoving advertising at me. I guess I'd better get this number listed on the Do-Not-Call list as well. I don't want to spend my day hanging up on computers.

P.S. If you are a friend I neglected to send the number to, email me. I'm not posting the number on a public blog for obvious reasons.

10 minutes later: My new phone is now on the Do Not Call Registry. The registry website ( says it takes about 31 days to take effect. Too bad they can't do it as fast as those who are feeding phone numbers to the tele-marketers.

P.P.S. I tried a reverse phone number lookup on the web to see who it was that was calling. It was an 800# and the reverse lookup wants $14.95 to tell me who it is. Pretty cagey. If you answer the call they get a chance to pitch to you and try to sell you something. If you don't and want to know who it is so you can complain they charge you to find out who is harassing you. I think that is called a win-win situation in business circles except that both wins are for them.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Signs of Spring

Spring has really arrived. How do I know? It isn't because the temperature is rising, or because the snow is melting, or even because the sap is running, although all those things are happening. The problem with those signs is that some or all of them happen even during mid-winter thaws if it gets warm enough for long enough.

The reason I know spring is really here is because when we came home yesterday afternoon there was a bird in the chimney. We have metal chimney that is very tall (20+ feet starting at the 1st floor ceiling) and 8 inches across on the inside. Every spring a young Starling (for some reason it is always a Starling) lands on top, sticks his/her head under the rain cap and wonders "what's down there?". It then proceeds to fall down the chimney. Since it's wing spread is wider than the diameter of the chimney it can't fly back up and out so we hear it scratching around inside the chimney.

If we're lucky we can open up the lower end (which is inside the house) with plastic bag over it and catch the bird which we then deliver to the great outdoors. Yesterday we weren't lucky. The Starling managed to escape the bag inside the house after which a game of 'chase the bird out of the house' ensued. We opened both front doors (can't open windows yet, the storms are still on) and repeatedly prodded the bird from a series of hiding places behind furniture until it spotted an open door and flew out.

Most years that gets repeated 2, 3, 4 or more times before the juvenile Starlings get old enough and smart enough not to fall down the chimney. If we are fortunate however that may be the sole occurrence for this year. We did have one spring when it happened only once. We bought a new pellet stove last December which does not use that chimney so I plan to take it out this summer but then I'll need a new way to tell for sure when spring is really here.