Friday, December 16

12 Again

 It's a silly problem but I've been needing a new alarm clock for a while.  Well, I don't really need a new one.  I'm just very dissatisfied with my current model.

I picked it up a couple of years ago but was immediately annoyed by the fact that the volume for falling asleep and waking had to be the same.  WTH?!  What idiot made that choice?  I also hated how ridiculously bright the time display was.  Even in "dim" mode you could land a plane to that damn light.  Almost immediately I just turned the display light off altogether.  I can only read it during daytime hours and even then it's hard to see from across the room.  Instead, I rely on the cable box display to give me the time.  As a result I've been annoyed for about the past 2 years.

(Yes... I have a tv in my bedroom.  I know I'm not supposed to, but I do.  When I wake in the middle of the night and decide I'm just not getting more sleep any time soon I have been known to watch some 3:00 am television.)

Anyway, today I had a few more presents to pick up at Target.  I was looking for something and stumbled upon the clock radios. Do we still call them "clock radios"?  Regardless, I stood and spent a good 15 minutes staring at them and reading their boxes for features.

It seems I have very particular needs in a clock radio.  Obviously:
  • I wanted a display that could actually dim.  
  • I wanted my bedtime volume to have the ability to be lower than my wake up volume.  
  • I wanted to be able to dock my iPhone/iPod.  
  • I wanted to have a sleep machine/environments sound system available.  (I like to fall asleep to the sound of rain).  
  • The device had to have some weight to it. (A previous model was so lightweight that every time I tried to hit the snooze bar it would simply slide across the nightstand and out of reach.  Now THAT'S annoying.)  
  • I wanted a snooze button easy to find in a groggy state and FAR from the "off" button. (That lame lightweight model had a snooze bar that doubled as the off button.  When pressed once, the snooze would be set.  When pressed twice the device would turn off.  I learned this was a very bad system the hard way. I eventually retired it to the bathroom where it couldn't do any harm.)
  • The clock radio had to be compact enough as not to take up too much space on my nightstand.
  • I wanted a weekday/weekend dual alarm option.
So there you have it, the ludicrous demands for my dream alarm clock.

I found lots of grown up and sophisticated systems but most were too dang big.  I ultimately chose one with a new feature I'd never dreamed of.  I chose this delightful clock:

What's with all of the colors you ask?  Well, umm, my fancy new alarm clock is apparently designed with the tween girl in mind.  It slowly fades from one glowy color to the next and the time display changes with it.  It can also pulse to the beat of whatever music happens to be playing.  It can also stay on my favorite color.  Don't worry, I made sure I could also just turn the whole color thing off too.

The most surprising feature is the sound quality.  It sounds really good!  I am, however,  a bit concerned about the snooze bar.  It's flush to the rest of the buttons.  I hope I'm able to manage it in half conscious state of mind.

It doesn't have environmental sounds but my iPhone does so that's covered.

I'm not sure if it has a weekday/weekend alarm option but it seems to have a few apps associated with it that may do the trick.  I'll have to download them and see if they can help with that.

It has some new fangled "Time Sync" feature that's petty cool.  When I plugged it in I didn't have to manually set the time.  I just docked my iPhone and it instantly set the time from it.  Cool!

I'm on vacation for a while and don't plan on using the alarm for a while (yea!) but I will have to test drive it before my next work day to make sure I can manage it.

So far I really like my silly, glowy, new clock radio.  If it disappoints, I'll be sure to report back.  Until then, I'm off to create a cool "Wake Up!" playlist.

(BTW, I can't help but think how this whole iPhone/clock radio/color change/morning playlist thing would have BLOWN MY MIND as a 12 year old.  Sometimes I feel like I grew up in the dark ages.  Have you SEEN video games lately.  Holy crap!  Kids today have it made.  Remember these:


Friday, December 9

Lights out

Last Wednesday night I found myself out with some girlfriends from work getting a MAC makeover, dining and driving home during one helluva wind storm.  I had spent part of the evening making fun of the big "wind event" on the horizon... then it hit as we made our way to our cars.  Holy crap!  It almost knocked my off my feet!  I live in Southern California for God's sake!  What the hell was going on?!

I read a text from home explaining that the power was out but candles were lit and to not bother trying to park in the garage.  Got it!  I white knuckled the steering wheel all the way home.  The wind was really raging.  I had trouble sleeping due to the noise outside.  OMG!  I can't remember ever seeing or hearing anything like it in my life.

I woke up to see the damage.  It turns out we had experienced hurricane force winds of up to 100 mph.  I was happy to see that our recently pruned oaks and orange trees were fine.  Our neighbor's non-native pines, on the other hand, had blown all over our yard.  What a mess.

That was only the beginning.  We ended up enduring six days and nights without electricity.  I realize there are people in other parts of the world suffering through far worse but... it sucked.  We happened to have hot water to shower and wash dishes in.  Without that, I would have high tailed it to Palm Springs or Santa Barbara.  Turns out an ice cold shower just isn't for me.

On the bright side we were very resourceful and discovered what really comes in handy when surviving without power.  Here is what became most important to us and a few emergency supplies you might  want to keep on hand:

Hot beverages-
I remembered our ancient campfire coffee pot and just knew Dad would have never thrown it out.  It was right were I thought it would be.  I found that filling it with hot tap water then bringing it (close to) a boil on the gas powered BBQ worked quite well.  It was really cold outside so I quickly learned to just set it in the fireplace.  In this way we were able to make coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

Last summer I spotted this emergency radio and picked it up, just in case.  It was fantastic.  I live in the foothills and tend to get terrible reception but this radio worked like a charm.  It's a bit spendy but it's more than just a radio.  It has lots of great features (battery/solar/crank powered, flashlight, weather channels and it can charge your cell phone!).  I highly recommend it.

Candles and matches-
Just make sure your candles are unscented.  Seriously, our house smelled like a French whorehouse.  Blechh!  Unscented long burning tea lights to float in bowls of water can provide a some nice light. 

Friday morning it became apparent that we would be in the dark for the long haul.  Flashlights, batteries, candles, matches and ice could not be found for 20 miles.  I decided to hit the Home Depot near work and picked up the last two battery-operated lanterns they had.  Candles are great but really tough to read by (I don't care what Abe Lincoln said).  The lanterns run on 8 D-cell batteries, which is ridiculous, but those bad boys really became important.  We were glad to have them.  I suggest having at least one lantern per person in a household.

Camping cookware set-
I found the cutest set of camping cookware in the closet.  I was able to heat up some leftover pasta and it was quite a nice meal.  I suppose I could have used our every day cookware on the grill but I didn't want to risk it.  Cooking in aluminum pots meant for a campfire seemed more sensible and they worked just fine.  Ours look something like this:

Shut the Box-
I rediscovered this addictive game.  Have you ever played?  It's so simple and fun.  Try it some time.  I pulled out a deck of cards but didn't really play anything.  I also completely forgot about Bananagrams.  Bummer!  That would have been great too.  Time slows down in the dark, keep some family friendly games around to pas the time.  Trust me.

Those were the most critical items that kept us going.  Keeping warm was the most important business at hand.  I found that hopping under the covers in bed was the best way to stay warm.  The problem was that I tended to get so tired so early.  I now understand the need to wake at the crack of dawn to get a fire going to heat the house and to get a kettle going.  This, of course, meant falling to sleep by 8:00 or 9:00 each night.  It was a strange, cold, dark week but we learned a lot and will never take electricity for granted again.

We have since packed up all of our supplies for the next time we have no electricity.  Power will eventually go out again, this time we will be even better prepared.