About three weeks ago, I received a post card in the mail telling me I had been selected to participate in a consumer survey and someone would be calling me in the next week. The card assured me it was not a solicitation and no one would try to sell me anything; they were simply interested in my daily activities and decisions. I have participated in written mail-in surveys before regarding household products, and I have answered political phone surveys, but I decided I wasn’t interested in having some stranger get me on the phone and ask me dozens of questions about what I do every day.

Sure enough, the call came the following week. I said I didn’t want to participate and promptly hung up. The next night, I got another call from the same company. I again said I didn’t want to participate, and the questioner tried to be persuasive. I hung up. A few days later, I noticed on my caller ID that the company was continuing to call, nearly every day. So I answered the phone the next time they called and firmly (rudely) told the lady I had been called three times and did not want to participate and PLEASE not to call me again. She started telling me I would have to take several steps to be removed from the list. I said, “No, don’t call me again!” and hung up.

Guess what? Yep, they continue to call. So last night, I answered the phone, and politely told the woman that since I had tried to decline taking the survey but they continued to call, I was going to participate but they better not count on any of my answers. (I had plans to tell them I earned 14 trillion dollars a year if that was one of their questions.) She said if I was uncomfortable answering any of the questions, to just state that. So that’s just what I did… to every question.

SURVEY: Did you look at a news sites on the internet last week? ME: I’m not comfortable answering that.
SURVEY: Did you watch any TV shows last week? ME: I’m not comfortable answering that.
SURVEY: Did you shop in any grocery stores last week? ME: I’m not comfortable answering that.
SURVEY: Did you read any magazines last week? ME: I’m not comfortable answering that.
and on and on…

I have to admit she was a pretty great sport, and was even giggling a bit the end of the survey. She assured me that I would not be called again. We shall see.

I have enjoyed watching the live cam in the den of Lily the black bear for the past two winters as she birthed her cubs. The bear family left the den this week and are now living out in the woods of Minnesota out of range of the camera. Luckily, I have found this live video stream of a bald eagle family in Decorah, Iowa to fill their place. The video quality is amazing, and the camera pans and zooms.

Eagles mate for life, and both mom and dad sit on the eggs before they hatch and help with raising them until kicking them out of the nest. This couple has three eaglets born last week, and you can watch them feed (fish and small prey the adults have caught) and keep warm under mom and dad. This is definitely suitable and educational for children of all ages.

I installed the latest version of WordPress 3.1 this afternoon (after making a couple of database backups). I’ve been getting some spam comments from time to time, and thought the upgrade might help eliminate that. I also love to experiment with themes, and many of the new ones require the latest version to work properly.

I’m having a bit of trouble with the widgets. I can add and remove widgets from my sidebar by clicking the “add” or “delete” links, but cannot drag and drop them nor move them around in the sidebar once they are there, except by going into edit and changing the position number. If anyone else has installed 3.1, and has seen this problem and resolved it, I’d appreciate your input.

One additional thing I did was to turn on “moderate comments”. If I have previously approved you to post comments, you are good to go. Your comment will show up immediately. If this is the first time you are leaving a comment, I will get an email and have to approve it before it will go live. I believe since this is the first time I’ve enabled this feature, most of my commenters will have to go through approval one time. But it should eliminate the spam squeaking past Aksimet and making it to my live blog.

On October 5, 2010, central Arizona got hit with a tremendous hail storm. Take a look at this amateur video captured by a homeowner in Phoenix.

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I was at work at the time, and we stood near the windows and watched in awe. When I got home that evening, everything looked okay other than some plants and tree branches down, and a lot of water around the neighborhood.

About three weeks later, I started finding business cards on my front door from roofing companies saying I had hail damage from the storm and telling me how much they would love to repair that for me. I tossed a number of cards in the trash can thinking everything was fine since I didn’t have any water running into my house or portions of truss and shingles all over my yard.

Then about three weeks ago, I started noticing several of my neighbors getting new roofs. I’m talking at least a dozen right on my street and the next one. So I got to thinking it wouldn’t be a bad idea to see if I had some damage that I hadn’t noticed. So I contacted a roofer who had done my neighbor’s home and had them come out and take a look. They said I did have damage and should contact my insurance company.

The insurance adjuster came out last Monday night and approved a new roof, as well as many other repairs: paint, wood trim, screens, code upgrades and even a brand new air conditioner unit. And best of all, storm claims do not increase your premium rate. (However, both the roofer and the insurance adjuster said the whole region will see an increase due to the number of claims and future risk. That’s all the more reason I should go ahead and get my share!)

The insurance will pay for painting both the east and west sides of my house, but he said there was no storm damage to the north and south, so I have to pay for those. (Who wants to put new paint on two sides of their house and have old paint on the other two? That would be crazy!) I have had some ugly peeling under my front and back porch ceilings for a few years, so I’m going to have that scraped and re-textured before they paint. The breakfast nook ceiling has some water spots from a leak, so the insurance will pay for scraping, re-texturing and painting that.

With the new carpet I got last fall, I will feel like I have a new house when it gets done. I suspect the next major expense for me is going to be a new stove. One burner is out, and a second one is giving me trouble. Looks like my income tax refund will be just about gone by the time I get done with it.

Pictures to come as the work gets done!

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