Cool stuff I learned recently:

November 25, 2011:

Cold Weather tip:

I had my brand new, thousand-dollar Honda generator at the cabin to provide lighting on long, cold winter nights. Came time to change the oil, and the oil was so thick it would not run. I set a tiny propane heater next to the generator to heat it up. Then I went in to take a snooze. Big mistake! Next thing I knew, the whole generator was engulfed in flames and Marie happened to see it. Next time I'll stand and watch it with a fire extinguisher in my hand.

November 22, 2011:

Cold Sores:

Marie Rose told me to put toothpaste on a cold-sore that was just starting on my lower lip. I did, for a day or 2, maybe 3, and it worked!

July 20, 2011:

for camping:

Learned this one very long ago but never thought of posting it here. You might have, as most of us do, some ice packs that you freeze and then toss in with your food when you go camping. They keep the food cool and in 24 hours or so they are melted and then you have to keep packing them with you until you get back home. You have their weight and the space they need, to bother you. AND they cost money. No longer. I now save the zip-lock bags, the extra heavy duty ones, from some foods, and I fill them 3/4 full with drinking water, after rinsing them clean. I freeze them and on a camping trip, once they melt, you can drink or use the water and slip the empty bag into any old convenient place, nicely flattened so as not to take much space. AND they are free.

July 12, 2011:

Purolator Scam:

I received an invoice from Purolator in my snail mail. Months ago I had sent a parcel to Vancouver and there had been an awful mixup on that resulting in many apologies from the company I sent it to, and a promise that THEY would pay Purolator. So, when I got this invoice, I assumed it was still for that parcel and I emailed Purolator to tell them it was not my responsibility. They replied telling me it was for a shipment to a company in Alberta. I had sent no such shipment and told them so. Then they replied:

Dear Mr. Laninga, Then I believe this shipment was incorrectly billed. The shipper and account number on the waybill does not match your name, address or account number. I apologize for this.
Because crediting the invoice, I will confirm this with our accounting department and I will then advise you. They are closed today but I will follow up with you tomorrow.
Regards, (etc etc)

Bottom line: Be careful of such scams.

July 10, 2011:


I set up my account with Facebook in good faith not realizing how many security problems and fears were to come up with it. Eventually, I tried to CLOSE and DELETE my account and all my information permanently. It seemed there was NO WAY to do that; all they would do was "deactivate it" but that would leave all my info there. I searched online and asked around. Every answer I got was "No; you cannot do that." SO I kept trying. AND........ guess what...... it CAN be done. I have the note from Facebook now telling me that if I do not log in for a period of 14 days, they will permanently and completely remove my account and all my info. I won't give you the link here but log into Facebook and look around; you'll find it.

March 16, 2011:

Vehicle Insurance:

Years ago it seemed to me that my car insurance premium had been creeping up and up and up. Finally I'd had enough and so asked my insurance agent to shop around for me. She did and got me a very significant reduction in cost for the same coverage. This month, the same happened. My bill came for $703. for one year's insurance on my one and only vehicle, a very ordinary Dodge Grand Caravan Sport, 2003. Again, I called on my agent and asked for her to shop around for me telling her that I would shop also, at a few places she would not likely call on, such as the Alberta Motor Association. Well, the AMA could not do any better than about $770. so I struck out. My agent found another company which could give me the same coverage for only $560. with NO downsides at all; a very reputable company. I have mentioned this tip in my money book which you can find at

March 14, 2011:

Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner:

This machine is really "Cute" for awhile but mine was a disaster. First the brushes broke off; then the battery died (under warranty, iRobot replaced it) and then, within a couple of years it died for good. I am most disappointed and would never recommend anyone to get a Roomba. Even when it was brand new, it would leave bits of dust all over the floor and it would do some areas more than once while missing other areas. At the time, I overlooked those flaws, because the Roomba is so "cute." Sorry. Cute does not cut it with me anymore. And don't forget, on a regular basis, you have to spend an hour or so totally taking it apart and cleaning it with a "REAL" vacuum cleaner and a can of compressed air. I Googled "roomba is crap" and got "about 1,020,000 results" so clearly I'm not alone in my evaluation. Oh, and it will not clean in the corners of the rooms either. When it really died, I exchanged many emails with iRobot and they finally told me I needed a new battery. So, I bought that. NO GOOD! I scrapped the Roomba and returned the battery. They paid me back for the battery but that meant I was out some $25 for postage both ways. Stay away from Roomba!!

Dec. 11, 2009:

Warranties on items you buy:

Typically, if you buy an item it comes with a ONE year's "Manufacturer's warranty." If you have paid for it using Mastercard, THEY will automatically extend that to DOUBLE that to TWO years. I asked the President's Choice Financial Mastercard people about this and they told me:

"Extended Warranty Benefits are in effect when the Cardholder charges the full cost of covered personal items to their President's Choice Financial MasterCard account. The benefits are automatic and doubles the manufacturer's warranty on their purchases for up to one additional year (excluding any Extended Warranty offered by the manufacturer or any third party). Any items which the Cardholder gives as a gift, are also covered, however, the Cardholder, not the recipient must make the claim for benefits.

To submit a claim under the Extended Warranty Benefits the Cardholder must keep copies of the receipts and other documents as per the Certificate of Insurance. A claim can be filed by contacting the insurer at 1-xxx-xxx-xxxx. You will be mailed the appropriate forms to complete. the Certificate of Insurance was sent with your new President's Choice Financial MasterCard when you first applied. You can also view details of the Extended Warranty benefit online at under the legal stuff section."

Now, it seems to me that if you buy, for example, a netbook computer for, say, $400 or less, there is no point in spending $250 for 3 years of extended warranty. If you are spending, say, $999 for a notebook computer, then spending $250 for 3 more years would, imho, be a wise plan.

Nov. 4, 2009:

Laptops and Cancer:

I'd never given this any thought. Until now; when one of my relatives discovered that he has testicular cancer! He is going through TERRIBLE misery with Chemo-therapy etc etc. From Googling it, I get the idea that the jury is still out; nobody knows whether or not using your laptop computer on your lap a lot can cause cancer or not. Any time that I have acquired a new laptop or netbook computer, the very first thing I've always done is make a little "board" of very thin, hard material, e.g. plywood, that I keep in the computer bag and set that on my lap first with the laptop on that. My reason for doing this was two-fold: one: to keep the heat off my thighs (which can be harmful) and two: to provide better ventilation and cooling for the laptop. Maybe I've protected myself from cancer without knowing it. Be safe!

Nov. 3, 2009:

Canadian Post Office $$$ Transfers:

I had to send US$340. to a friend in Turkey. At the post office, I was told it would have to go "Western Union" and would cost C$27. in fees. That seemed a bit steep so I went to another post office a few blocks away and was told I could use "MoneyGram" and the fee would be only C$20. So I used a MoneyGram and it worked perfectly and almost instantly. You might be able to compare fees online; see Western Union at For the MoneyGram system, go to

Oct. 23, 2009:

Cell Phone Danger:

I've been saying it for years but nobody believed me; they all "trust" the tellcos; the companies which make $$$ selling cell phones and services. NOW the truth comes out and no doubt the tellcos will try to discredit it to preserve their bottom line. Cell Phones ARE killers! Here is the website:,2933,569465,00.html. The World Health Organization did the study and, in brief: "A groundbreaking, $30 million study into cell phones has found a link between long term use and brain tumors." AND THEN I read this on the news: "No cell phone, brain tumor link, study says" at You decide; I still believe cell phones are not harmless. But that's me. I was born someplace else. ;-)

Oct. 13, 2009:

Pyrex Cookware:

I got a warning in my email re the dangers of using Pyrex cookware. I checked it out on Snopes, and found it to be TRUE. Here is the link: After bouncing the problem around for awhile, I decided maybe SILICONE cookware is a good alternative. The government of Canada seems to agree; see

Oct. 4, 2009:

Customer Service:

Some time back, my friend in Florida told me how much he loves his ROOMBA robot vacuum cleaner. So, I got one too. It is an amazing machine; I push one button, it plays a little tune and cleans my floors. When it gets to the top of the stairs, it realizes the danger and turns away from that. When, finally, the battery runs low, it finds its own way back to the charger and parks there to charge up for next time. I set the "virtual wall" attachment in a doorway where I do not want it to go. I found the the battery gave out. I explained the problem to iRobot and they very promptly replied, asking a few questions in an attempt to diagnose the problem and without asking anything more, told me that they were mailing me a brand new battery; ZERO cost to me. Compare that with the terrible customer service in the next one:

Oct. 2, 2009:


I bought 4 new "recliner" type chairs from Sears here in Canada; less than a week later, I regret it already. They are "Pushback Nathan Recliners" from BERKLINE. They are in Morristown, TN, with Canadian office in Ville d'Anjou, Quebec. The 3 recliners have little plastic tabs, 1/2 inch in diameter, pushed into the top of the backrest, to protect walls from damage when reclining. ONE of the tabs was missing so I emailed for one. The runaround was incredible. Disgusting, in fact. I told them:

Does your company always make a Federal Case out of a 2-cent item?

Rarely have I encountered such incredibly bad customer service.

Rest assured, this is going to hurt. You; not me.

Dayna; please note. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

Dayna is the person I first contacted, in TN.

Sept. 15, 2009:

Hardwood Floors:

If you are paranoid as I am about getting scratches on your new (fake) hardwood floors, then this might help. I went shopping for a new secretarial chair on casters. All the chairs, from the most expensive down to the lowest-priced ones had plastic casters which were sure to cause scratches. The salesman at Staples suggested buying some (5) tennis balls to put over the casters. I cut a large "X" in each ball and slipped them over the casters; now the chair slides nicely over my new floor.

April 27, 2009:

Travelocity for booking Vacations:

I booked a trip to Mexico through Travelocity; BIG mistake! I found them to be a disaster and have put all the gory details here:

April 24, 2009:

Adobe PDF Reader:

You do have that piece of freeware in your computer, right? For reading any and all PDF files? Well, so do I. Until now. It is a HUGE file. Takes a vast amount of space on your hard drive. Today, Don Pratt told me he had found a TINY file that is just as good and also FREE. It is the Foxit reader and you can get it at Thanks, Don!

July 24, 2008:

Quit Smoking:

My daughter struggled with this dangerous, filthy, expensive habit for a long time. Then she decided that the habit IS dangerous, filthy and expensive and after some "Trial and Error" she made it! She QUIT! Yes, I am proud of her! At the time of this writing, she has been OFF "cancer sticks" for MORE than a YEAR! Here are her tips to help YOU quit:

- try any and all aids available - Wellbutrin/Zyban and Champix/Chantix work great. They have side-effects but it's worth sticking it out if it prevents lung cancer, emphysema or the other raft of problems associated with smoking.

- write a list of the reasons you want to quit. Make it long and thorough.

- don't do anything you associate with smoking (drinking coffee or alcohol etc) for a good long while after you quit. It's best to avoid those "triggers" as long as possible. I still don't drink alcohol (at all) since I strongly suspect it would make me crave a cigarette and my resistance to that craving will be lower after a drink or two. It's just not worth it.

- after quitting remind yourself of how glad you are that you don't smoke. Whenever my husband and I walk past someone who is smoking (often in the cold outside) I say, "I'm so glad I don't smoke." It's good reinforcement. Especially when he replies, "I'm so glad you don't smoke." I still do this frequently over a year later.

- if you can afford it, do something enjoyable with the money you used to spend on smoking. I hired a cleaning lady. So once every 3 weeks I get a huge reward for quitting - a beautifully clean house. It also means I get a lot more time to do the things I enjoy in life. Other rewards could be smaller if you're trying to save the money from quitting (a cd or a book a week or a month, a massage periodically, whatever makes you feel good).

June 21, 2008:

Made in China:

The warning was on the box: "Made in China" but I yielded to temptation and bought it: an 880 watt electrical generator. I told the girl in the store that I had seen the warning and asked what would happen if the "usual" happened: the goods were junk. "NO problem" she told me, "Just bring it back." It ran fine the first few times. Next summer I tried again. No go. No way, No how. I should have known. "Made in China" means "THIS IS CRAP!" But, the people at Princess Auto are VERY GOOD. No questions, no problems. More than a year after I'd bought it, all I had to do was present the original bill and I got a full refund. THANKS, Princess Auto!

June 18, 2008:

High Blood Pressure:

As you know, many stores, particularly pharmacies, have Blood Pressure Monitors which you can use free of charge; just sit down, slip your arm into the sleeve and press a button. In a few moments you have your Systolic, your Diastolic (I call that the "Diabolic") and your Pulse. My readings at various stores were often incredibly high and I was taking Diovan to bring it down. Then I decided to try a "Do it at home" machine for $80. from London Drugs. My readings on it were FAR, FAR lower. I took it to my doctor and he said my machine is FINE. It seems that when you have rushed from your car to the store, through the store and had a lot of distractions etc. your readings can be badly out of whack. It almost seems the drugstores want you to think your BP is higher so that you will be wanting more drugs from them. Now I am planning to ask my doctor to reduce my Diovan dosage.

Jan. 20, 2008:

Sharing photos:

If you take a picture and crop off some of it, and save that cropped picture with a new filename, and send that cropped picture to somebody, it is POSSIBLE (but very unlikely) that they might still be able to see the WHOLE, original picture BEFORE you cropped it. THAT could have bad consequences!!

Jan. 9, 2008:

Car safety:

NEVER USE THE CRUISE CONTROL WHEN THE PAVEMENT IS WET OR ICY. If the cruise control is on when your car begins to hydro-plane and your tires lose contact with the pavement, your car will accelerate to a higher rate of speed making you take off like an airplane. NOTE: Some vehicles (like the Toyota Sienna Limited XLE) will not allow you to set the cruise control when the windshield wipers are on.

Jan. 6, 2008:

Income Tax for Canadians

If you want to try doing your own personal income tax returns for 2007, check out this freeware which I used last year and I was very impressed with it:

December 11, 2007:

Raynaud's Disease:

This "condition" is not really a "disease" as such; it is more, imho, like a "condition." If you have it, as I do, your fingers turn white, cold, "dead" when your body is cool or chilly. I've always heard that the only way to avoid it is to have the nerves cut, in your wrists, or to move to a warmer climate. Now I have learned that there is a drug that solves the problem; it is ADALAT. It works for me; almost 95% of the time.

August 18, 2007:

Tiger Direct:

I bought an item from Tiger Direct some time ago; I was most unhappy with it and never did get any satisfaction so decided NEVER TO BUY from them again. Then, some time later, I found a C$12. charge on my Mastercard account from something called "WLI*ReservationRewards 800-732-7031." I asked Mastercard to send me complaint forms to reverse this charge, which I suspect is FRAUD. I called RR at that number and they tell me that the charge resulted from my purchase from Tiger Direct and this is a MONTHLY charge! Glad I checked my account carefully.

August 15, 2007:

"Domain Name Expiration Notice:"

Today I got an invoice from "Domain Registry of Canada" to renew my domain name: I knew this could not be correct so I checked and find that this is a complete SCAM! If you have a domain name, be careful and avoid getting ripped off big time here!

August 7, 2007:

Bladder Infection:

Last week a friend of mine got a bladder infection; those miserable things almost everyone gets from time to time. Somebody suggested "Birch Tea." So, I picked green leaves off a birch tree, put them into a pot and poured on boiling water, let that sit for about 5 minutes. Three or four cups later, the infection was gone and 4 days later it was still gone! Quickly I picked more leaves and dried them for possible use in winter.


It took away the 'burning sensation' but not the actual infection.

May 30, 2007:

Business Cards FREE:

There is absolutely no need to spend your hard-earned $$ to have your cards printed for you. You can make them yourself with FREE software. Just go to and download their free suite of office tools; this is similar to Microsoft's expensive suite. No longer do you need to buy "Word" or WordPerfect. I use OOo's "Writer" part to make my own cards. If you want to see my result, you can download the file by clicking HERE. This is an ".odt" file which means you need to have the OOo suite installed to open it. If you like, you can use it as a template to make your own cards.

May 17, 2007:


Yes, I mean bleach; the dangerous liquid you use to remove stains etc. This stuff is very dangerous and I wish somebody had told me this. A friend bought a large (5 liter) jug of the stuff and set it into a cupboard at home. Then she did not look at it again for some weeks. When she did, and picked it up, to her shock and horror, she found it weighed nothing. It had drained; about 90% of it was GONE. The "seam" on the underside of the jug was faulty and while there was no visible hole, it had slowly leaked out, dissolving a large hole in the bottom of that cupboard. It could have been much worse. We went to the store (Real Canadian Superstore) and looked at the shelf where she had taken it. There was a circular area the size of that jug, where all the paint was gone. I have contacted the company about it. They invited me to email pictures of the damage to them and take the empty jug to the store where she bought it. I did all that and hinted that a monetary offer be made to my friend for her grief and damages. I'll report here later how they decided to handle this. My TIP is to set such a jug into something like an ice-cream pail.

May 14, 2007:

Wireless Local Area Network:

My son Dave told me this:
"At home I have a wireless router, but the only device that I connect via wireless is the family computer - clear across the house. The reception is terrible - I recently bought a new router thinking that would resolve it, but it only slightly helped. It was slow and dropping off the network constantly. Finally in desperation I turned to something I thought was akin to voodoo. HomePlug.
You run an Ethernet cable from your router into this little device that plugs into any electrical socket. Then anywhere else in the house you put another of these little devices and run an Ethernet cable from it to another PC. Voila - a network via the power grid of your home; can hardly believe it. Jude's computer is now downloading stuff off the internet at very high speed. I didn't believe it would be possible."

May 4, 2007:


I had been getting excited about moving into Linux. The Ubuntu version, latest release is "Feisty Fawn" released April 19, 2007. THEN I read sites like this: and, sadly, it becomes clear to me that Linux won't be ready for us "non-geeks" in my lifetime. Too bad.

May 3, 2007:

Restless Legs Syndrome:

A lot of people suffer from this sleep-depriving nuisance. Spasms in the legs, at night, force them to walk the floor and/or rub their legs in an effort to stop the misery and let sleep take over. I know somebody who has suffered with this for many years. NOW, after various efforts at solving it, including specialized footwear, it seems that the solution is "DEEP COLD." I'll provide more info as soon as I can get it and a picture of the container. UPDATE: it does not work every time. My cousin tells me a banana per day helped him.

May 1, 2007:

Global Warming?

The OTHER side of the story:

Wow; an hour and 16 minutes of it yet! Guess Al Gore IS wrong, just like I've been trying to tell him all winter. If I listened carefully, the whole film can be summed up: "Yes, the earth is warming up but it is all caused by the SUN; CO2 produced by man, animals and nature, has nothing to do with it." And here I just made a couple of solar cookers; wish I'd heard about this before ;-) At least now I can feel less guilty about EXHALING again. On CNN Headline News, Glenn Beck did a special on May 4, 2007, telling us the same thing; AL GORE IS DEAD WRONG!!

April 13, 2007:

Laptop Problem:

My Toshiba laptop 'puter started turning itself OFF at the most inconvenient times, whether I was working on it or just sitting looking at it and cussing it. "Brenda" suggested putting bottle caps under it to raise it off the table and provide better air-circulation. That worked for a month. Then it started again. My next solution was to buy a can of compressed air and an "Allen Wrench" to open the bottom of the computer. I blew out all the dust I could and so far, that has solved the problem.

LONG ago:


This is the greatest idea since sliced bread. Everybody has, from time to time, "Stuff" they don't want anymore. AND, everybody WANTS something FREE from time to time. Freecycle takes care of all that AND tries to reduce the amount of "stuff" going to garbage dumps. Many cities have a Freecycle "group" now. It is TOTALLY FREE; no money is allowed to change hands. Sign up and watch the emails come in. If you want to get rid of something, list it and before you know it, somebody will come and get it. Watch the incoming emails and if you see something you want, just email the person offering it and arrange to go and get it. Well over 3,500,000 people have signed up around the globe. Check it out at But, PLEASE, watch the "rules" and help the moderators keep their sanity.

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