Sunday, June 22, 2008

In this economy, should we lay our gadgets down?

As always, I had a thought provoking conversation with a friend of mine (she likes to remain anonymous) about ways to save costs. She said she is going to remove the data portion of her cell phone. With a home office, one at work and a laptop, why is she paying almost $40 a month for the data when she doesn't use it because it is so expensive? I thought that idea was ingenious.

We both agreed to place a moratorium on gadgets. Ouch. For me that is a sacrifice. Next thing you know she will suggest I remove my high speed access from my phone line. The plaintive howling you hear in the distance is me.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

When You Need Spanish Right Away

Here in Los Angeles, if you need to communicate in Spanish you usually don't have to look far to find someone who is bilingual to assist, but what about the times when no one is around? Let me cut to the chase:

Today, my gardener and I had an interesting exchange. He's new so I always have to remind him who I am on the phone. I had received a notice from DWP. In order for the meter readers to do their jobs I needed to clean out some pretty extensive bird droppings that they did not want to wade through. I had asked the gardener to hose the area down once each month as part of our agreement. When we set it up it was with a lot of hand gestures but over the phone is another matter.

The two key words are "bird" and "droppings." Growing up, I learned "caca" and "mierda" for the obvious, but that couldn't be socially correct. But, what is "bird?" (Pollo doesn't count. That's chicken.) While Rafael waited on the phone, I ran to and typed in "Bird." The answer came back "Pajaro." That's right! I remembered from 8th grade Spanish. I studied Spanish from 7th grade through Senior Year in college and spent a trimester immersed in the language in Bogota Colombia, but if you don't use it, well, you know the rest.

I typed in "Droppings." Nada. Rafael was still hanging on. I explained to him "las cosas dejan por los pajarros." "Huh?" he said in the universal language. He called his teen-aged daughter to decipher my broken Spanish but she was too busy to come to the phone. He said "I'll be there Friday." I am sure, hoping for luck with my sign language.

But there are forums at the site in which you can ask questions (after a free sign up). I posted an email with my question and in a few minutes I had my answer from a lady named "Cherry": "There are several that you could use: 'excrementos fecales de ave' or 'heces de ave.' Ave is 'bird' or you could also say 'pájaro,' " she explained.

Armed with this knowledge, now I can get the DWP off my back. But I will return to because you can learn Spanish (or re-learn) at their site with a daily tutorial. Buena Suerte!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Do I have to give up my rabbit ears?

At midnight on February 17, 2009, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to 100% digital broadcasting. Digital broadcasting promises to provide a clearer picture and more programming options and will free up airwaves for use by emergency responders.

What is the TV Converter Box Coupon Program?

Congress created the TV Converter Box Coupon Program for households wishing to keep using their analog TV sets after February 17, 2009. The Program allows U.S. households to obtain up to two coupons, each worth $40, that can be applied toward the cost of eligible converter boxes.

A TV connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service does not require a TV converter box from this program.

Consumers have a variety of options. Options to explore include:
  1. Keep your existing analog TV and purchase a TV converter box. A converter box plugs into your TV and will keep it working after Feb. 17, 2009, or
  2. Connect to cable, satellite or other pay service, or
  3. Purchase a television with a digital tuner.

Have more questions? Visit our FAQs for more information!

How do I request a coupon?
Between January 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009, you can request a coupon while supplies last in one of four ways:
  • Apply online
  • Call the Coupon Program 24-hour hotline 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009). Hearing-impaired consumers can use our TTY service by calling: 1-877-530-2634 (English/TTY) or 1-866-495-1161 (Spanish/TTY)
  • Mail a coupon application to: PO BOX 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000. Download a Coupon Application here.
  • Fax a coupon application to 1-877-DTV-4ME2 (1-877-388-4632)
This info was found here:

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008! What did you get for Christmas?

As we navigate through a new pile of boxes dotting our living room floor (from Christmas,) I wonder what did you get for Christmas? Is any of it above your comprehension?

We got a DVR and we haven't set it up yet. Whoever wrote the instructions has us so twisted we gave up. We have yet to call the "Don't take this back to the store" number packed with it.

Tell me, what has YOUR experience with Christmas gadgets been?

And here is this week's tip: I found a site in which everyday people like you and me explain the current products on the market. If you are in the market for something, give them a try! They have actual video explanations of how they work. I was in the market for a webcam and I enjoyed seeing the features of the three models I had not considered. I think I am going with Logitech!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Thoughts on Gadgets and Things: Tribute to the Real Women who Make Christmas

Hello all!

GIFT IDEAS FROM ISIDRA GADGET! Here are a few things folks close to me have available and if you are in Los Angeles area, you can get them today:

The first thing on my list is not a gadget at all. It is "Heritage: a 2008 appointment book featuring 365 Days of the African American Experience." These great gift books keep on giving all year long. Check out Heritage by Deloris Holt. I designed her website here: Pick up a copy for $15 or if you pick up 5, the price drops to $12.50 each. Buy from the author (She lives in Leimert Park area). All of her contact numbers and emails are at the website.

Give the gift of knowledge! Dr. Kwaku's student's know that his DVD's and CD's are very powerful and uplifting. Audio CD's are only $10 each and DVD's are $20.

But, why not consider giving the gift of his great class Afrikan World Civilizations Class starting Feb, 22, 2008? This 11 week series is only $100 (Only $10 per class) . See the video wrap-up of last session's class now on You Tube.

Stop by, or email him at

Great T-Shirts: Like Oprah, I have a friend Gail too! She and her husband Andre have beautifully designed Buffalo Soldiers and Tuskegee Airmen T-shirts at their website Get yours today for $20 each. Email Gail at and arrange a pick up.

And right after Christmas comes Kwanzaa. My mentor and friend William Byers has designed an informative DVD called The Kwanzaa Guide. If you want to see how Kwanzaa is celebrated --especially teachers--visit hey are available by calling the number on the website.

Finally, I'd like to take a moment and salute all those who make Christmas warm and special, especially my mother and mother-in-law. Without them, Christmas would be just another day. We all eagerly await my Mother-in-law's crispy peanut brittle and pumpkin breads. She makes loads of 'em and ships them all over the world! Yum!

I'd like to give kudos to Ronnie Hamilton, Leroy Hamilton's wife, whose handiwork always puts me in the Christmas spirit. She and women like Rene Cross Washington, begin planning the day after Christmas for the next Christmas, never miss a timely sent gift, a thoughtful card, and have years of quality Christmas ornaments, recipes, etc. on hand. All I am good for is the Christmas Video or Photo yearbook. But one day, when I grow up I promise to be just like them!

Almost a month ago, I walked into the Hamilton home and was blown away that she already had wrapped gifts piled up under the mantel and her table decorated for Christmas. These women shop--something I do little of--and find the best deals and make the recipients faces light up with how on point their gift selections are.

Since we have 5 sons, my husband and I split everything down the middle, (this is when you miss daughters, but I am waiting for the daughters-in-law.) He fries the turkey and grows, cleans and cooks the greens. I make the mac n cheese, dressing, yams and get the extras. We then load up the truck and take everything to my sister-in-law Joanne's house. Our family puts it together, and we always have fun, but missing is the Santa Claus sized bag of gifts, the decorations, and the tree. For gifts, I usually give money to the kids since they have their own tastes but that loses in translation.

This Christmas, my son Ayo suggested we do the White Elephant gift giving idea which, for our growing family, is an excellent idea. (Wikipedia explains it well if you are not familiar. Now I am excited about Christmas again.)

Jaaye suggested a pot luck which will take the cooking strain off my husband and I. Now our West Coast family can do like our East Coast family which had a gathering of over 60 for the Thanksgiving alone. The one thing they always rave about is the variety of food. Can't wait to taste what the boys cook up!

Oh! Tech gifts you might consider: a laptop for the elder in your life who is missing out on all the emails and photos online; a GPS unit for those who get lost and hate asking directions. Better yet, get them a cell phone with the Navigator in it like my LG NV (Verizon--scroll below--they even have a new Voyager that is supposed to rival the iPhone!) -- it's one less thing to carry. Buy an iPod nano for anyone and they will love you forever, or at least a skoshy lil iPod Shuffle. I have both and would not trade either. Be sure and load their music!

However you do it, enjoy the holidays, all. And if you have those special holiday wonder women like I have, give them an extra hug and consider yourself blessed that someone is making Christmas for you.

Happy New Year all!

PS: Are you a student at West L.A. College? I will be teaching Business English (Business 31) and Business Communications (Business 32) in the Spring beginning February 4. Make your education your New Year's Resolution! Register at

PPS: From our family to yours - Holiday Flashes from the past:

These are rookie productions, but watch out for the 2007 version to see how much we've grown. (Coming soon)
Until then, enjoy my channel at

Monday, October 1, 2007

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Finally, the New iPod with the iPhone Features!

Didja miss it? Didja miss it? Apple announced a new iPod called the "Touch" Sept. 5. There is no phone but it has all of the other technology of the iPhone except the ability to check emails. There is a complete tutorial Click on the touch and you will find it!

They also DROPPED the price of the 8 gig iPhone from $599 to $399, the same price as the new Touch! the new Touch starts out at $299 for an 8 gig and $399 for a 16 gig. And it has wifi Internet! Read the review at