Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why I Love/Hate Verizon Prepaid

My final Verizon 2-year contract is coming to an end in August – a $50/mo 5GB mobile jetpack data plan on Verizon’s fast and widespread 4G LTE network.  It’s been a fairly flexible plan and data speeds have been good too.  But, now that Millenicom is my primary internet provider (reselling me 20GB of Verizon 4G data/month), I don’t always need a full 5GB of additional data from Verizon directly.   It sure would be nice to just buy whatever amount of excess bandwidth I might need without having to buy a minimum of $50 worth.

Fortunately, as of July 17th, Verizon now has a solution – their Prepaid division now offers 4G LTE for not only phone calls & text, but hotspot-shareable 4G LTE data as well!

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Millie will be “Sofa-less” in 4 weeks!

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What an incredibly strange and amazing week this has been!  I started the week in complete stress mode trying to get my presentation finished for my first library speaking engagement, and was also worrying about all the work still left to do to get the house ready to list by my self-imposed deadline of Aug. 1st.  It turned a bit chilly here this week, and with that, the realization that snow will be flying here in Chicago again in just a few short months started to sink in.

What to do? What to do???

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Is This Still Illinois?

I’ve been visiting some great nature preserves around the Chicago area recently in preparation for my first Master Naturalist presentation next week at an area library.  I’ve been to most of them before, but one last weekend, was a first-time visit for me, and I must say…I was blown away!

When one thinks of Illinois natural landscapes, you likely think of something like this entrance to the Green River Wildlife area (surrounded by corn and soybean farm fields):

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Flat as a pancake…. boring…. get me out of this visually-depressing state!!!

Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll find a patch of tallgrass prairie…

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or a grove of bur oaks, a little creek, or even a sandy dune along Lake Michigan’s shores.  

One thing you would NOT expect to find this far south of Canada is a boreal bog surrounded by tamarack trees.  Yet, we’ve got one right here in northern Illinois-- Volo Bog!

Volo Bog Panorama

Yes, this is in Illinois!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

3 Great “Secret” Deals Uncovered

Now that I’m a happy, penny-pinching early retiree, I’ve got nothing better to do all day than search for great deals that will cost as few pennies as possible!  (when I’m not working away to prepare the house to sell and start full-time RVing, of course!).

penny pincher

In the past few months, I’ve discovered quite a few good deals.  Most have been very obvious and easy to obtain, but a few have not been.  In fact, they’ve literally seemed buried deep within their popular corporate websites, needing some sort of secret handshake or top-secret NSA backdoor security clearance to unlock!

Well, I’m here to reveal 3 of these favorite “secret” deals for you now.  If you don’t see a new blog post from me within a couple of weeks….Putin may have put me on a plane to Siberia!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Finding My “Way” in the Dark

Ever since getting a bit of “dumb luck” in shooting this photo a few winters ago at Joshua Tree National Park, I’ve been fascinated by night photography, particularly night landscapes.

WinnieViews at JoshuaTree

Last year, I discovered the Into The Night group on Flickr (as well as its excellent companion blog by Royce Bair) which provided a never-ending source of inspiration and knowledge.  But it seemed every time I tried to plan a nighttime photo shoot, I was stymied by one thing or another—wrong camera, wrong lens, wrong exposure settings, wrong time of year, wrong moon phase, or wrong weather.  With each failed attempt, though, I learned a tiny bit more than I had known before, so “progress” none the less.

This year, I set a goal for myself to finally capture photos of the Milky Way.  It’s taken months of planning and waiting for just the right conditions, but finally (FINALLY!) two nights ago, I did it!

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