Since not all venues have announced their 2013 lineups yet, I’m not ready to post my annual list of free and cheap music in western NY and the Rochester areas. I didn’t want anyone to miss out on the free music that’s happening this month so I’m posting this info a bit early.
The 2013 Lilac Festival has a full lineup that kicked off last night. These concerts run through next weekend. See the website for details on when each artist is performing.
|The Fat City Band + Skycoasters
||May 10 5:30pm
|Spanky Haschmann Swing Orchestra + Zac Brown Tribute Band + Deborah Magone + Mitty & the Followers + Amanda Lee Peers & the Driftwood Sailors + Spin Doctors
||May 11 12:30pm
|Alysia Groth Band + Dirty Bourban Blues Band + Blue Jimmy + Natalie B Band + My Plastic Sun + Teagan and the Tweeds + Eddie Money
||May 12 10:30am
|Mochester +Lake Street Dive + The English Beat
||May 13 4:00pm
|AudioInflux + J.C. Brooks & the Uptown Sound + Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express
||May 14 4:00pm
|Meghan Koch and the Gentleman Callers + Tommy Brunett Band + The Marshall Tucker Band
||May 15 4:00pm
|The Moho Collective + The Lawnmowers + Rusted Root
||May 16 4:00pm
|Mikaela Davis + Brian Lindsay Band + The Smithereens
||May 17 4:00pm
|Teressa Wilcox Band + The Fools + The Crawdiddies + Driftwood + The Lone Bellow + The Prickers
||May 18 12:30pm
|Flint Creek + Dang! + Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys +The John Cole Blues Band + Prime Time Funk + The Campbell Brothers
||May 19 11:30am
The Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls has Free Music Fridays during the month of May.
|Bruce Wojick + Davey O
|Vincent James Explosion with Carina and the Six String Preacher
|The Irving Klaws + Pine Fever
About a month ago I was notified Swap.com (formerly Swaptree) was changing it’s business model. Swap was one of the sites I had success trading on over the past few years and had been recommending to others.
I discovered the site at the end of 2008 and started swapping in 2009. That year I made 60 Swap trades involving CDs, video games, books and DVDs. I was unemployed for most of the year and got in the mood to start de-cluttering,so I had lots of items to trade. In 2012 the site introduced the concept of a Market Swap, which was intended to connect people located near each other to make swaps of any items, not just the typical media. I actually ended up making 20 swaps that year, including like toys and clothes but never with anyone local. I was approached by people in other parts of the country to trade for items and we agreed to ship our items to each other. I even sold a few items instead of swapping for them.
Things started to change last year. There was an email saying the Market Swap was being eliminated. Last fall I got a notice the Swap site had been sold to a Finnish swapping company. My activity on the site had seemed to really tail off. Swap introduced the concept of Valet Service for kids items: you send your items to Swap and they take pictures of the items and post them on the site. You can then swap or sell your items. This model didn’t appeal to me since I didn’t have much kids stuff.
The nail in the coffin for me was when Swap announced last month they would be moving exclusively to the Valet Service model. You’re now required to ship all your items to Swap and they will photograph them, post them and store them (for up to 60 days) for you. They’ll also charge you a commission for every sale you make. You need to pay for shipping for any items you buy or get in a swap, unless you acquire $50 ore more in merchandise. You can see the fee details on their site.
This model holds no appeal for me. I maximize my opportunities by listing my items on multiple sites. I have no desire to tie up my items on a single site, and one which I’ve had limited success with lately. I won’t be recommending this site any longer.
If you like the chance to sample food and beverages at cheap prices and you like free entertainment, be sure to head down to East Ave on Thursday night (May 2). City Newspaper is promoting the 4th annual Best Busker Contest.
A busker, in case you’re not familiar with the term, is someone who performs in public places, usually while soliciting money. Buskers will be found all along East Ave and include musicians playing a variety of instruments: guitar, banjo, fiddle, harmonica, mandolin, classical Indian violin, ukelele and washtub bass. The buskers are set to perform from 6-8pm.
The food and beverage specials run form 5-9pm. There are many specials to choose from. I’ve posted a sampling here but you can see the full list on City’s website:
It’s supposed to be a beautiful night so it’s a perfect time to go downtown and check out all the east end has to offer.
Last week I posted about the Savor Local Restaurants campaign currently going on in Rochester. On Friday, my husband and I tried a new restaurant, Six50 Black Oven Cooking, that was relatively close to us and which we didn’t even know existed.
Today, restaurants in the Buffalo and western NY area start their Local Restaurant Week, with many featuring specials for $20.13. In some cases, the $20 deal is a meal for two people, so don’t think this event is too expensive for your wallet.
This week I have plans to have dinner with some previous co-workers at a restaurant I’ve never been to before. I love the excuse to try someplace new, which is part of what Local Restaurant Week (LWR) is all about.
The LWR website features the list of participating restaurants which you can filter by location. It also displays the type of cuisine that each restaurant specializes in. Local restaurant week continues through Sunday, April 28.
Last April, Palmer Food Services sponsored an event in Rochester which I blogged about here. I’m happy to report they’re repeating the event and this year it seems to be much better advertised as I’ve heard about it in the news, on the radio and in the newspaper. Savor Local Restaurants starts this Thursday, April 18 and runs through Sunday April 28.
The website for the event is very helpful, listing all the restaurants that are participating by location, type of cuisine and price. Each restaurant’s page lists the specials they are featuring for the occasion. There are choices for every budget and every taste. Here’s your opportunity to try a new local restaurant. You never know, it might become your new favorite place to eat.
On a side note, the Rochester Public Market has announced the first Food Truck Rodeo this year will be on May 29. There is a food rodeo planned for the last Wednesday in each summer month. September’s date is still TBD. Something else for us foodies to look forward to.
Did you miss my post from last week? I left for vacation 1.5 weeks ago and had actually written my post with the intention to hop on my blog and post it while I was out of town. Unfortunately things did not go according to plan.
We stayed at two different hotels while we were in Orlando. Both are part of the Choice Hotel line, which offers reasonably priced accommodations. We used the high speed internet the first day we were at the first hotel, but the internet was unavailable for the next 3 days. While I could have questioned hotel management, I chose not to so my teenagers wouldn’t have an excuse for rushing back to the hotel every day to get online and do what they do everyday at home. When we moved to our second hotel we discovered the “high speed internet” was so slow we couldn’t even connect in most cases. The speed never improved in the four days we were there. I chose not to complain for the same reasons.
It was nice to be free of the internet for almost a week. In an emergency I could have gone to McDonald’s or Burger King, both of which offer free WI-FI. The entire family was offline for most of the week and surprisingly my kids didn’t complain and we all managed to survive without it.
While we were in Orlando we went to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. I had purchased 2-day tickets online to save money. When we got to the park on the first day, I stopped and showed my paperwork to a Universal employee standing by the ticket windows to ask whether I needed to get in line. She told me I would need to exchange my papers for actual tickets. So we got in line and waited a 1/2 hour only to be told my printouts were my tickets and I hadn’t needed .
None of us were happy to hear this. My husband, decided it was unacceptable to lose the time just because an employee gave us incorrect instructions. He demanded to talk to a manager. In the end we walked away with Express Pass tickets that let us jump to the head of the line on two rides. The cost to buy an Express Pass which lets you move to the head of the line on all the rides starts at $20 per person per day. The recompense made to us was more than fair.
So while we had some bad customer service on our trip, in the end they turned into positive experiences.
I know spring is officially here but it doesn’t always feel like it. The last few years I’ve taken to bringing my outdoor planters indoors for the winter in the hopes of being able to salvage some of the plants. Last fall I brought in all of my Gerbera daisies, most of my dianthus and some geraniums and my 2 planters with 3-foot high spikes.
The bay area in my kitchen above has a southern exposure and the plants really seem to like it. I’ve had a few daisies year round and they’ve really started to bloom now that we’re seeing more of the sun. It’s a little crowded around my kitchen table but being able to see those flowers in the middle of winter is really heartwarming. It’s nice to see those spots of color in the middle of a dreary winter day and some studies have shown that flowers can elevate your mood.
Consider putting some of your annuals in planters you can bring in next fall. The time I spent last year has been well worth it. I can enjoy my flowers year round and won’t have to spend as much time or money this spring planting new plants.
I’ve always loved word games. I grew up playing Scrabble and doing crosswords and word find puzzles. As I grew older, games took a back seat to other priorities and hobbies.
A couple of years ago I found Words with Friends on Facebook and started playing games with my connections. But the pace of the games was pretty glacial, extending over days and weeks and most of my friends were not as into it as I was. So I stopped playing after a while.
A few months ago, my good friend Steve gave me a Kindle Fire for my birthday. I went shopping for free apps, the best kind. And one of the first ones I found was WordHero.
WordHero is multi-player, realtime word find game similar to Boggle. You have to spot 3-letter or longer words in a 4×4 grid of letters. The letters have to touch each other to be made into a word. At the end of each round you find out how many words you’ve located out of all possible words and how well you scored compared to all potential points. Usually you’re doing good if you find 10% or more of the words (yes 10%!)
The fun part of the game is playing against people from around the world,letting you see how you stack up compared to others. The more people playing the harder it is to score in the top 20% or better, but it always gives you something to shoot for. I like to play in the early morning when there are less players. My scores have been good enough to raise me from the Silver league, which is where you start, to the tougher Gold league.
Each round takes about 3 minute ( 2 minutes 25 seconds to play,15 seconds to presents your individual stats, 15 seconds listing all participants scores and ranking) which is where I get in trouble. I’ll turn on my Kindle with the intention to play 2-3 rounds (shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes). My problem is I can’t just play 2 or 3 rounds. Before you know it I’ve played 5 and there goes 15 minutes or more. I’ve had to limit myself and in some cases not even start to play because I know I’ll have a hard time stopping. My husband claims I play the game all the time which is not true! (only when I have 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 minutes…)
I’m trying to be careful about how often I play on my Kindle and when, even though I’m pretty sure this game is good exercise for my brain. I’m convinced this is how video game addicts are born. I have to finish writing this post so I can fit in a few rounds….
We bought a laptop right before the holidays with the opportunity to upgrade to Windows 8 for a reasonable $15. While I wasn’t planning on upgrading right away I wanted to make sure I ordered it before the Jan 31, 2013 deadline.
So on the evening of Jan 13 I went to the designated website and placed my order. About ten minutes into the process, after entering my payment info, a cryptic error was displayed. I decided to try and place my order in the morning when the system would hopefully be less busy. The next morning I was able to successfully place my order. I received an email with my product code and downloaded the software onto DVDs for future installation.
At the end of the month I received my Discover card statement and noticed I had been billed twice. Thus begins the saga of my attempt to get a refund for the failed purchase:
- 2/3 Called Microsoft Store to report the problem. Requested refund for purchase #1
- 2/5 Received email from MS Store requesting confirmation of cancellation of order #2
- 2/9 Called Store to report they were cancelling wrong order. Told me they had to wait until order #1 was completed until they could cancel it. Try calling back tomorrow.
- 2/10 Called Store and gentleman also told me couldn’t cancel order #1 because it hadn’t yet completed processing
- 2/12 Called Store yet again and told me to wait 5 business days to call back when they should be able to resolve
- 2/19 Called Store. Same old, same old.
- 2/24 Called Store. Gentleman said he would escalate problem.
- 3/1 Received email from Doug, a MS Store Escalations-Resolve Team member saying he would be working on my issue.
- 3/3 Received phone call from Doug clarifying what I was trying to do (cancel both orders? NO…just first order)
- 3/4 Received email from MS Store requesting confirmation of cancellation of order #2…NO!!!! Received email from Doug asking if I had received the cancellation notice. I sent an email back expressing my disappointment that once again they got it wrong.
- 3/6 Received email from Doug who explained that since the first order never completed they couldn’t issue a refund for it and had to issue the refund for the second order instead. The first order did have a product key, which he sent me, so my issue was finally resolved.
At one point my husband told me I should just drop it, since we were only talking about $15, but for me it was the principle of the matter. Microsoft’s order system should never have charged my credit card until the order was successful. The fact that Microsoft couldn’t handle a refund for an order that was incomplete baffles me and I was disgusted with the number of phone calls and emails it took to finally get my issue resolved.
When my husband and I were growing up, we both excelled in school because we took pride in our grades. Our teenagers on the other hand, don’t seem to get as much enjoyment out of something as simple as getting an A in Math. We are still working to find the magical motivating factor which will make them try just a bit harder to move from a B (and sometimes C) to an A.
The other thing that baffles us is that we’ve had to twist our son Westin’s arm to get his driver’s permit. The only reason we pushed him to get his permit at age 17 was so we could go to Canada for a family get together. He’ll be commuting to college this fall and will need to have his license. We wanted to be sure he had some winter driving time while we were still able to monitor his skills. My husband keeps envisioning himself driving Westin to Brockport every day because he doesn’t seem very motivated to actually get his license. My husband and I both had our license by the time we were 16.
My son isn’t the only one who doesn’t see the need for a license. Many of his friends who are seniors don’t have them either. I guess kids these days can get together virtually so there’s no real need to see each other in person. My niece Amanda, who’s also a senior, also seems put off by the whole driving thing.
Westin also doesn’t seem to be motivated by money. If I offer to pay him some money to do some extra chores around the house he always declines. He spends almost all his money on CDs and concert tickets so he has to stretch his allowance and gift money to be able to afford them. He knows that he’ll be required to get a job this summer to help fund his expenses while he’s going to college so I guess he’s enjoying his free time while he can.
Until recently he didn’t even show interest in getting a cell phone. He got one for Christmas but it won’t get opened until he really needs it. The cellphone will give all of us piece of mind when he finally does get his license.
I realize kids are a product of both their environment and heredity, but I think my son is missing a motivation gene, so we’re doing what we can to encourage him to take some initiative with his life.