Last month, I shared my bemused frustration with my daughter, who did not want to give up her old “dumb phone” for an Android model with a lot more functionality. I think she was just worried that a smartphone would be too expensive. Walmart Family Mobile’s cheap wireless plan really gave us the incentive to try the service out.
At the time, I told her the myTouch was just a trial (there’s no contract involved, so we can cancel service any time we want). We kept her old number on her old phone, but if she liked the new one, we would switch the number over. I guessed that was what we would end up doing, but you never know. My kid can be stubborn (she inherited a double dose of it from both her dad and me), and she easily could have decided that she didn’t need a phone that would allow her to get directions, retrieve her email, check her grades, play music or download and play games.
So I actually wasn’t sure until a week ago, when the first monthly payment was due.
“Before I pay this: Are we keeping the phone?” I asked.
She shot me a look that could only be interpreted as saying “DUH!”
I really should not have wondered. It didn’t take her long to find apps she enjoyed, like Netflix and the one that allows her to use the phone as an FM radio. We haven’t tried streaming audio or video apps on 3G, even though Walmart Family Mobile gives her unlimited data (in addition to unlimited talk and text). This amounts to 5 GB on T-Mobile’s powerful network (if she manages to exceed 5 GB then she will continue to receive data at lower speed). At $40 per month, I think this is an excellent value.
A funny thing regarding the network: The plan officially says she’s on the 3G network, but according to the phone, she’s been connecting on 4G. Either way, the browsing and downloading is FAST.
We were told we would get 5MB of 3G service, but our actual connection has been to the fast 4G network.
So far, the phone has been useful in her first month of school. She can fire up the browser for research, or locate supplies she needs to purchase for class. I should probably mention here that my daughter is a high school senior who has been carrying a cellphone for several years and has demonstrated herself as a responsible phone user. So we are past the age where I would feel the need to take advantage of the parental controls that Walmart has built into their Family Mobile service. But I like knowing that if I need it, I can set up her phone to block certain kinds of messages and content, exclude certain numbers and keep her from calling 411 (which costs money).
#FamilyMobileSaves You Money on Your Teen’s Smartphone #shop See more photos here.
Walmart Family Mobile informed us that our first month to month payment was due via a text message. This was a surprise to me. I learned later by logging onto my account at MyFamilyMobile.com that foregoing the cost of printing and mailing bills is one of the ways Walmart is keeping the cost of this phone service down. You may also choose to receive your bills via email.
Taking care of the payment was easy as pie: I dialed 611 from the phone. But I can also pay it online at MyFamilyMobile.com. You can use any valid credit or debit card to pay, or set it up for automatic payments. This is also where I can review my daughter’s usage or set up some of those blocking functions.
Screenshot of Walmart Family Mobile’s online account management.
All in all, my daughter is happy with her new phone, and that makes me happy too.
Where did the phrase “too many irons in the fire” come from?
A couple of days ago, I wrote in my status update on Facebook that I was feeling “cautiously optimistic.” That is because after years of suffering borderline depression over living in a borderline Depression (or a “jobless recovery,” or whatever you want to call it), my Inbox is buzzing with new opportunities.
None of them have actually become a reality yet. But something has changed: I look at the future and I see options. And HOPE.
I’ve been crazy busy this week, and surprisingly productive. Man, it feels GOOD.
I am reminded of the drive I took with my family over the weekend, into downtown Los Angeles. We passed no fewer than four huge construction cranes in Hollywood and another three downtown, which means there is a helluva lot of new building going on.
“You’d think this would translate into jobs,” I muttered to my husband.
Maybe it has. Maybe these new housing starts are indicative of an economy that is coming back, one that is finally trickling down to people like me. That seems to be the conclusion of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, at least as reported by local public radio station KCRW: They see our slowly recovering economy gaining steam, to the point where California’s jobless rate will eventually drop lower than the national rate. However, it won’t be enough to make up for all the job losses we have suffered these last six years — and while people with education and skills who want to work may finally be able to re-enter the job market, unskilled and semi-skilled labor will still have a hard time making a go at it.
Also, there will continue to be a geographic divide – not between north and south, but between the coastal, high population counties and the more rural inland areas where there isn’t enough investment to fire the economy back up.
I hope the forecast is wrong on that count. I want to see everyone back to work.
In the meantime, I’m just going to bask in the heat from those irons.
On this day twelve years ago, my daughter was in kindergarten. Today, she is a senior in high school.
Our world changed that bright, sunny day in 2001. My daughter cannot remember a time when we were not at war in the Middle East.
I’m sad for all the people who died that day. I’m sad for all the people who have died fighting the people who were responsible for the attack and for the people who were sent to a second war that we had no business starting. I’m sad for all the people who have been deployed again and again and again, and for all the people who have returned home injured, only to face a bureaucracy that cannot seem to get its act together to give them the services that they have earned.
I miss my grandpa. Our last conversation was about the attacks – two days later, he suffered the stroke that killed him, just weeks before what would have been his 91st birthday.
I miss our old way of life. I long for a nation that was busy doing business, where there were plenty of jobs for anyone who wanted one, where the future seemed bright. When we all had a reasonable expectation that Big Brother wasn’t watching us. The one where reasonable people could disagree without getting ugly. The nation we lived in when our daughter was born.
My daughter knows no other world but this one. And that makes me sad.
I have a MOM confession to make: I am a TV addict. OK, maybe that’s not much of a secret. It’s not even something I am all that ashamed of. I guess it’s not that much of a confession, is it?
Now that the Fall season is imminent, I will soon be lost to my family, as I immerse myself in all the networks’ new offerings. I have purchased a hard copy edition of TV Guide and am circling around the ones I hope will be my next go-to programs for laughs and entertainment.
One of the shows I have the highest hopes for is a little sitcom called MOM, produced by Chuck Lorre and starring Anna Faris and one of my favorite actors, Allison Janney, who play a mother and daughter (also a mom) who are both recovering alcoholics, which one might expect complicates their relationship a little. Actually, a lot.
Lorre, of course, is well known as the creator of The Big Bang Theory (which I love) and Two and a Half Men (which I don’t). But this new series sounds a little bit more like two shows Lorre produced during the 90s, Cybill and Grace Under Fire.
As a part of this campaign, I was asked to make a secret Mom confession, the more irreverent the better. Since my penchant for watching television doesn’t really count, I thought I’d try again here:
That’s as irreverent as I get. I know, if you are looking for outrageous, you’re probably not going to spend a lot of time watching ME. But THIS has potential to be really funny:
MOM premieres Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, on the CBS Television Network.
We spent yesterday afternoon walking around downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). This is something my husband I do often, with cameras in tow so we can photograph the place, while admiring the vibrant community that has grown there over the last decade.
Even tap water is displayed nicely at DTLA’s Terroni restaurant, on Spring St.
We didn’t take many pictures yesterday. I wasn’t especially keen to go this weekend. It has been hotter than hell the last couple of weeks; a situation I’ve been dealing with by getting all my errands finished as early as possible in the morning (while the temp in only in the 80s), so I can spend the rest of the day holed up in front of the AC vent.
Needless to say, I’ve been watching a lot of television (yes, even more than usual). And amazingly (for me!) it was starting to get old. The reason I got off my butt in the Valley and ventured in to the city was my kid, who wanted to attend an arts event in Grand Park (the same place where we enjoyed the fireworks this July 4). She and her friend were originally going to use public transportation to get there — which makes sense, as there is a Red Line subway stop just across the street. But her dad and I are still kind of protective and her friend absolutely had to be back in the Valley by 6:00. So my husband and I offered to drive them there.
He actually had a destination in mind: He had heard of a place called The Last Bookstore, located in the old Crocker Bank building on Spring Street and 5th. This is the kind of place that’s heaven for people who want to physically hold a book and turn its pages. It’s also kind of a hipster paradise, with lots of old, funky couches and chairs scattered around the neat, organized stacks of gently used, reasonably priced books. We looked around the stacks and found way too many interesting titles to be able to pick just one. I have a feeling we will be back, especially so we can explore the upstairs area called the Labyrinth, which showcases the work of local artists.
Spring Street was once the site of LA’s financial district. Today, it is the epicenter of DTLA’s arts community, which sprung up around the Los Angeles Theater Center. When LATC opened in 1985, the neighborhood was kind of a vast wasteland. I remember, because at one time in the late 80′s I held season tickets and going down there at night was always a little bit scary. Now, the buildings have been renovated into lofts and galleries, with people milling about the street in little sidewalk cafes and bars. We even passed a pet store there (which makes a lot of sense, for all the folks we passed who were walking their dogs). And we ordinary Angelenos can experience the best of the community on the second Thursday of each month for the Downtown Art Walk.
On a normal day, I am energized by walking the streets of DTLA. But did I mention that yesterday was downright HOT? Even though downtown is about 10 degrees cooler than the Valley, that just meant we were dealing with 90+ degree weather instead of triple digits. By the time we left the bookstore, I was absolutely parched. And the huz was hungry. We set about looking for an air conditioned spot to refresh. That meant forgoing the cute little sidewalk cafes and looking for an actual full-service restaurant.
We found it in Terroni: A gorgeously appointed Italian restaurant in another renovated old bank building. Everything about this place said style (which made us feel a little bit self-conscious in our ratty walking-around clothes). But they let us in anyway. My husband enjoyed an order of fresh gnocchi. I wasn’t all that hungry, so I ordered an appetizer of grilled radicchio, prosciutto and fresh Burrata cheese. This is what they brought me:
Not as light a meal as I was expecting!
At $17 for an “appetizer,” I’m actually glad this turned out to be so substantial. I ended up skipping dinner because of it — and it was worth it!
My daughter’s art event in the park was just two hours long — so after getting our fill of nice, cold water and delicious Italian food, we headed back up to Grand. When we told her what we had been up to, she was dismayed. It turns out that she’s been wanting to visit The Last Bookstore for a while now (“It’s famous on the Internet!” she exclaimed) and we beat her to it. I guess she’s going to want to head back downtown. And I’m betting her dad and I will be happy to drive her there. Let’s just hope it’s on a cooler day.
The Agents of Zeitgeist is my latest project: a second podcast (on the MOMocrats BTR channel) devoted to all things pop culture — but mostly about television.
Podcasting is something I fell into almost by accident, through my association with the MOMocrats. And much to my surprise: I’m kind of good at it. I think my early work experience in radio was good training (because if anything, I learned how to write a script for the intro and commercial breaks). The rest is pretty easy, so long as I surround myself with smart, funny women who can make up for my own awkward public speaking habits.
This has not been a problem working with the MOMocrats, who are among the brightest people I have ever known.
And I can tell it is going to be fun working with my new partners in Zeitgeist: entertainment bloggers Elise Crane Derby and Anne Louise Bannon, who may love the television medium even more than I do.
You see, I never thought of myself as a political person. I know I seem that way now, but my interest in politics is really just a desire to keep up on what’s happening in the world around me. It’s why I studied journalism in college, and why I read a newspaper every single day until recently (but still begin the morning by perusing and sharing news reports on the Internet). And it’s why I still watch an unholy amount of entertainment programming on TV.
Television was my first, real love. It was my major in college, because the only career I wanted was to work behind the scenes in TV production. This is something I eventually did, and when that ended, I had a really hard time adjusting to living in “the real world.” (Some would argue that I still have not succeeded.)
I love comedies, mysteries, action-oriented crime and science fiction series. I am equally adore the weekly sitcom antics of the Pritchards on Modern Family as I do the brooding mysteries unveiled on Broadchurch. I look forward each summer to USA Network’s light fantasy series like “Unnecessary Roughness” and “Royal Pains.” I relish Aaron Sorkin’s wordy wit on The Newsroom (enough to overlook the show’s many flaws). I relax at night to reruns of “Friends” and “30 Rock” and wonder how I can make Tina Fey become my friend.
This is probably the kind of behavior that normal people would want to keep secret. But having admitted to it, I guess that proves I’m not normal. I don’t know about my new partners in Zeitgeist — but I do know that on our first show, we had a lot of fun. And we expect to have some more when we resume the party next week.
“Agents of Zeitgeist” airs on Thursdays at 10:00 am Pacific. Listen to next week’s show here. And be sure to follow our new Facebook page.
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Fun things happened this week. A couple of days ago, a fan on the MOMocrats Facebook page sent us this screenshot, from the app associated with that Million Second Quiz game show that NBC is promoting:
As someone who enjoys playing trivia games, this just tickles me to no end. I also play with this app because the questions are so easy I had no trouble qualifying to be a contestant on the show. But if I had gotten this one, I probably would have failed to answer in the allotted five seconds, because I would have been so flabbergasted by it. Frankly, I’m surprised the person who sent this to me had the time to take the screenshot!
I’m hoping it’s a good omen. A couple of weeks ago, I applied for a job that seemed absolutely perfect for me. Last night, I received word that I did not get the job. It truly was the nicest rejection letter I had ever received. It was a long shot and I knew it, but just finding that particular opening gave me hope that I can find something that is a good fit.
So I keep looking. And who knows? Maybe I’ll get selected for the show and my penchant for remembering useless facts will finally come in handy.
I’ve spent most of today talking and reading and listening to reports about today’s 50th anniversary commemoration of the historic March on Washington. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
You’ll find an excellent roundup of material on both the historic march and today’s event over at MOMocrats, including this morning’s MOMochat podcast.
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