Warm As Toast

FireplaceFinally had the chimney swept after the hammering it took last year. Couldn’t book the chimney sweep until Friday last week, by which time all the snow had gone. But saying that, the warmest it reached over the weekend was 2.5deg.

It was minus –8deg on the outside thermometer when I woke this morning, so I quickly got the fire going.  Crumpet, marshmellows and a few chestnuts tonight for supper methinks.

National Television Control / National TV Control – Scam

I just received a weird telephone call from someone claiming to be from the National Television Control centre.He stated by saying “Good day, I’m calling from the National Television Control Centre and we have had reports of bad reception in your area. Can you confirm if your reception is working?”.

National Television Control Centre Scam I just received a weird telephone call from someone claiming to be from the National Television Control centre. The caller ID had been blocked so I couldn’t verify the number from which the call originated, but from his accent, I would guess they could be based in India.
He stated by saying “Good day, I’m calling from the National Television Control Centre and we have had reports of bad reception in your area. Can you confirm if your reception is working?”.
When I challenged him he became defensive and would not reveal any other details and eventually hung up.
(When I asked for details about the National Television Control Centre, i.e. who owned it, who run it, where it was based, he just became flustered and didn’t answer).

I have heard of a similar scam to do with Sky customers, but the caller never mentioned Sky, merely if my reception was fine.
Sky have put some information about a similar ‘scam’ on their own website (Sky Protect)

National TV Centre ScamIn my case, it appears that they are cold calling UK numbers rather than targeting Sky customers with the aim of finding any customers who are currently experiencing problems.
The scammers then apparently try to “help you resolve” the problem by offering to contact Sky support on your behalf. At no time however do they mention that you will be billed by them for this support.

Just be warned that there is no such organisation as the National Television Control Centre, at least not in the UK. If you receive such a call, do not reveal any personal information.
If they do claim to be from Sky, or working on behalf of Sky, ask them for your contact number, account number, or the type of receiver you have been supplied. I can assure you that they won’t be able to answer and will give you some waffle as to why they can’t supply that information. 

Time to get some new Bulbs again :(

The boys were playing indoor football again… And it was bound to happen, he says looking at them mowing the back yard for me…

GLS Style Bayonet Fit (BC) 15 Watt Compact Fluorescent Lamp Long LifeEvery bulb I use in this house came from one of the best online stores I’ve seen, not only for usability, but for the sheer numbers and types of GLS and CFL’s they stock in their e-shop. 

I’ve just used my last spare bulb and on visiting the site, I see they stock a lot more items than when I last visited.

Oven Lamp Small Screw Fit (SES)I spent ages looking for a new bulb for the oven a few weeks back and in the end gave up. None of the stores round here stocked one, and the guy in B&Q even tried to convince me that they “don’t make em’ like that anymore, can I interest you in a new oven sir…”

Having just logged into the ebulb shop, they jumped out at me, and low and behold, my lamp is the second one down on the list.  Looks like I’ll be ordering a couple of them as well.  ebulb is just that… it’s not just CFL’s, I reckon if you get light from it, they’ll stock it.

You can tell its been a few months (years??) since I last checked that site.  I’ve just spent a good while looking at all the new stuff they stock.

Never ever buy a bulb from your supermarket or dare I say your local DIY shop.  Even if they are non-filament type, I don’t have any faith that they haven’t been throwing around the boxes that the bulbs were supplied in.
A few weeks back when I was away, my wife bought two new bulbs from a large well known supermarket and both bulbs were broken, when she went back to change them, she found that most of the bulbs on the shelves were damaged in some way.  It was like someone had been playing football with them, (and no, my two boys were not with her).
She didn’t realise I had a box of spares out in the garage (which was the original box supplied from ebulbshop.
That’s the other thing about buying from a specialist. They not only can give you the best advice on which product you need, they also know how to look after the product right up until it reaches your front door. 

US Style Postboxes

When we first moved to the US we were offered a ‘cultural exchange’ course.  At first we thought things can’t be that different, after all, they do speak “English”.
After living their for a few weeks you do begin to see differences between the way we live.  Obviously you would expect there to be some differences, you just don’t think about all the little things.

Take the good old postman.  Post is post right? Here in the UK we expect our mail to be delivered in the morning, (although gone are the days of first and second post, where if you didn’t get your mail in the morning, you’d hope it would come later on that day).  Then there are the old jokes and stories of postman being attacked by dogs as they made their way to the front door.  In the UK, when I want to post something, I have to go to the post office or find a post box.  There are 1000’s of postboxes dotted all around the country, some dating back hundreds of years.

Now they still have the humble postman in the US, but delivery and pickup is much different than here in the UK.  I actually preferred the US version, (though I am not saying the UK doesn’t do a bad job).

t_18399_01At our house in Texas, we had a box similar to the one shown which was a Locking Mailbox.

Every house would have their own mailbox at the end of their drive.
Some places would have them attached to the house, but in our area, most were curbside. Some just had a box on a post, others had the builders leave enough bricks so that the postbox matched the house.

USPS VanThe mail vans were all right hand drive and the driver sat at a height whereby he just drove past each post box and delivered the mail without even getting out of his van.

t_18512

 

In apartments or gated communities, there was often a central mail collection point.

So rather than your mail being delivered to your door, when you left for the morning and/or on your return at night, you would drive by the post collection point and pick up your post from the security mailboxes.

Unless you actually wanted to buy some stamps, or drop off a large parcel or letter, when you wanted to post something, you would leave it in your post box.  Each post box would have a flag that you would raise to let the postman know you had mail to collect.  On his rounds, he’s see the flags, drop by and pick up your mail to send.

We brought our dogs back from the US with us and they just cannot get used to some stranger stuffing paper through our letter box in the front door.  Most often they will just rip the letters out of his hand before he gets a chance to drop them. Whereas in the US, they never got near the postman because he was tucked safely away inside his van (and the dogs were usually out the back yard).

It was only because I came across a web site that it got me thinking about it.

 

It’s getting warmer. Get those fans going…

In my US house when I first moved to Fort Worth, we had the air conditioning set to 70 degrees or there about.  Being around 100 degrees outside and upon arrival of our first $500 electric bill for the month, the thermostat was quickly set to 82 degrees.

casablanca ceiling fansBut with the temperature set that high it didn’t feel too comfortable at times, mainly because of the humidity.  A colleague of mine suggested fitting ceiling fans which at first I didn’t think would help at all.

I used Farrey’s as they have a great online catalog to choose a couple of ceiling fans for the main living room. 

The benefits were immediately obvious since despite the the thermostat still being set at 82 degrees you get a cooling effect from the fan which effectively drops the temperature to the low 70’s.

After two months of lower electricity bills I decided to fit fans into all of the other rooms, so choosing the right fans was important. Farrey’s have a great system to for selecting, configuring and ordering the right system and their search tool is one of the best I’ve used.

I’ve just helped a friend select and install a new fans in his house and he used Farrey’s and he was impressed as I was.
They now have an even greater selection including fanimation,monte carlo fans, minka aire fans any many more.