Things that happened this month:

  • GG and I went to the Ren Faire with L and S. After a couple chilly days, it was suddenly hot and humid again, but otherwise a really nice day. We got there when it opened (J met us with discount tickets!), and easily stayed almost until closing time. Favorite events were the acrobats, magician (who GG met later as a wandering minstrel, and filmed a music video), Circa Paleo, and of course the Falconer, the coolest guy working at the Ren Faire.

  • I got a bad cold which knocked me out for close to a week, but I was kind of overdue since I don’t think I got sick at all last year. And it allowed me to skip band practice and be home to watch the American Horror Story premier. (We’ve since been DVRing the episodes and catching up when I get home from band, or the next day, depending on how late it is.)
  • We went to a Philly Food Fest thing, discovered a couple cool new products like dukkah and Jin-Ja, and aate a lot of samples. It was a fun way to spend a couple hours, though I always get kind of sad for the people at events like this who are eagerly starting a business and really pushing their products on people. (I always try not to be like that at my own vendor events.)
  • We went out for kind of spur-of-the-moment dinners at a sushi place we like and the Melting Pot, just because we can. I also made us a nice dinner at home one night featuring olives, cheese, bread, olive oil, and charcuterie (as one of my friends said, “Very Euro!”). And we visited the new Shake Shack in town on their opening day!

  • I was very pleased with the outcome of Project Runway – I totally called it for Dom after the bowtie challenge, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s from Philly :o)
  • We killed two birds with one stone and took at overnight trip to Lancaster. Friday night was GG’s debut performance at a comedy club out there, and a few of our friends were able to come out and see the show! We went out to Denny’s for a snack afterward.

    We spent the night there, and then Saturday was spent at my alma matter for Homecoming. I had a fun day with friends and had a great time reminiscing about college and seeing all the changes that have happened in the last ten years! The recently remodeled library is now open, and since L and S used to work there (that’s where they met!), we got to go on a tour. We also talked our way into some of the new dorm rooms to see how the kids are living these days (they get their own bathrooms! not to mention carpet and air conditioning! spoiled!). And I got a new MU sweatshirt :o) The nicest thing was that, since we’d spent the night before out there, I hadn’t had to get up insanely early to drive there in time for the parade. So I wasn’t overtired by the end of the afternoon, and was even able to drive us home without requiring caffeine (can’t say the same for GG, though, he slept most of the way ;o) )

  • I got a copy of Janelle Monae‘s “Electric Lady” (her performance on SNL reminded me that it had been released!), and while I was at it, went back and got “Metropolis,” too. The first track of “Metropolis” explains everything. I kind of had a handle on the story, but if I’d just heard that in the first place, it would have all made so much more sense! Anyway, “Electric Lady” is another great album, though more laid back, for the most part, than “ArchAndroid.”
  • Stay tuned for a post on what we did for Halloween night!

Samsung Galaxy S4

I got a new phone! And while I usually delight in having a phone nobody else has, it is nice having the current, popular phone for once, if for no other reason than I have lots of options when it comes to cases :o) So how did I come to obtain such a lovely device?

I finally upgraded to an Android phone last year, after holding out for quite a while. But that phone was obsolete by the time I got it, and things went downhill from there. A lot of apps wouldn’t work, or wouldn’t give me the latest version, or would freeze up, and I couldn’t update my OS without rooting my phone. Then it started doing weird things with calls – it wouldn’t ring, and I’d just see the missed call, or I’d dial a number and like 5 minutes later it would actually place the call. Since making phone calls is one of the basic functions of a phone, I finally decided I’d had enough.

I’ve been trying to keep up to date on what’s available and what was coming out soon, so I decided to go for the Samsung Galaxy S4. Then I had to research how to get it for the best price. Buying it outright is more than I’d like to pay for a phone, T-Mobile doesn’t have contracts anymore so you can’t get one at a discount by upgrading your contract, and most of the listings on eBay were a little sketchy. I ended up buying a used “good condition” one from Gazelle. It was still a little more than I wanted to pay, but I’d just sold some things online and used my PayPal balance for part of it, which got the balance to a level I was comfortable with. The phone came by itself from Gazelle – no box, manuals, cables, etc. – but it was in very good condition. There was maybe a minor scuff on one corner (which gets covered by a case anyway), but actually the protective film was still covering part of the metal trim, so I don’t think it had been used much before it was sold.

Next thing was to get a case. At last, I have a phone that Otterbox makes a cover for! I got an Otterbox Commuter in gray and aqua, which I’ve been using and it’s great. I like that it has covers for the headphone and USB ports, but there are still a couple areas that remain open (speakers and microphones and such), so it’s not completely enclosed/dustproof. I also picked up a couple other cheaper cases on Amazon. The Caseology Matte Finish TPU in turquoise gives it a nice, squared-off look, and the Poetic Atmosphere in clear/light blue is a minimalist case that’s really sturdy and doesn’t come off easily.

One of my big concerns with my last phone was battery life, and I actually purchased additional high-capacity batteries for it. The stock battery in the S4 is really great! I’ve found that it gets about the same or possibly better battery life than my old phone with upgraded batteries. After a full day of normal use, including calls, texts, photos, videos, and wifi connection on, the battery is still at like 50%. Especially considering that this is a used phone with a used battery, I’m very pleased. I’d been researching extended batteries before I got the phone, but I don’t think I need one at the moment.

The last problem was that I kept dropping off the network. And yeah, that’s kind of a major problem. When I first got the phone, I went to the T-Mobile store where they cut down my old SIM card to fit the S4, which uses a micro SIM. I didn’t realize there was any problem until a couple days later, when GG got home from work and said I must have been on the phone all day, because every time he tried calling, it went right to voicemail. I actually hadn’t been on the phone at all, and that’s when I realized what was happening. Restarting the phone and staying off wifi seemed to help, but that’s inconvenient and not ideal. I did a little research and this seemed to be a common issue with this phone, which worried me a little, but the first solution to try seemed to be changing the SIM card. I went back to T-Mobile and this time got a whole new card, at which time they told me that my old (cut down) card was a 2G card. As soon as I had the new one in my phone, my 4G icon turned to LTE! Yes! I figured that would solve the problem, and it has. I’m on the network, I’m on wifi, and I haven’t had any problems.

My one negative is that it’s a little larger than I would like, but it’s so slim (especially compared to my old one with the keyboard), I haven’t found any pockets my old one fit in that this one won’t. It’s a little big to hold in one hand, and because the “menu” and “back” keys are not physical buttons, I sometimes accidentally hit them just from the way I’m gripping the phone. That is really the only bad thing I have to say about it.
Overall, I’m very happy with this phone! I know I said this last time, but hopefully this is the last time I have to upgrade for a little while :o)