Cat People!

That’s Sofia. She is 8 weeks old, weighs about 2 pounds, is completely fearless, and has won the heart of every member of the Evans family, with the exception of grumpy old Tasha and possibly the fish.
Furthermore, taking a leaf out of her book I have just done a little intrepid exploring of my own, and have now fixed things so I can post blog entries from my iPhone and my iPad!
Look out (potentially?) for more frequent blog posts!

AT&T Steals Candy From Babies, It’s Official!

Well, maybe not candy from babies, but they do steal Dataplan charges from 12 year olds. Here’s the story:

Earlier this year Lorna’s cell phone died–teenagers are hard on cell phones–and as she wasn’t due an upgrade, we switched her SIM card into Keba’s old iPhone 3. We made her SWEAR not to incur any data charges, as there was no plan on the phone, and Lorna being Lorna, she did exactly what she was told.

Today, I was nosing around on the AT&T website to check on everyone’s upgrade status. Ever since Lorna got her Dad’s iPhone, Becky has been mounting an unsubtle campaign for her own iPhone (for which, given my own love for my iPhone, I have some sympathy.) Becky’s phone also died pre-upgrade availability and so she has MY old regular cellphone, which is basically held together with duct tape. Keba’s concern was that she might not be as responsible about non-data usage as Lorna, and so he asked me to find if there was a way to limit or block data usage altogether.

The first thing I found out was that Lorna had used no data. The second was, that AT&T had nonetheless added a $30 p.m. Dataplan to the line, and charged us $52 to date for it. WTF, AT&T? The third thing I found was this:

“If AT&T determines that you are using an iPhone on your account without an eligible data plan, AT&T reserves the right to add an eligible data plan to your account and bill you the appropriate monthly fee.” WTF again, AT&T?

Soooo, I got hold of a nice young online chat representative named Shaun. Now, let me express at the outset my entire satisfaction with Shaun and his handling of the chat/my concerns. My problem is not with AT&T’s customer service, it’s with their (lack of) principles.

Once I had explained the situation to Shaun, we came to this exchange:

Shaun Poirier: Okay I have reviewed the account, and thee was a notice sent to the phone on 03/15/2012, when putting a sim card into a Iphone will generate a response in the system to add a data package.

Anna Evans: you sent a notice to my 13 year old daughter’s phone and expected it to reach the bill payer?

Anna Evans: I imagine she just ignored it as mystifying and irrelevant

Shaun Poirier: I am sorry but is sent to the phone that the sim card is inserted.

Anna Evans: okay but can you see my point of view here?

Shaun DID see my point, and after confirming that no data had actually been used on the phone, he generously agreed to credit back the $52. The data plan would have to stay from now on, though, if she kept the iPhone. Given that Becky may also soon have an iPhone, this was starting to look expensive, so I asked about limiting data:

Shaun Poirier: Give me one moment to give you a new balance, and I am sorry there is no way to limit the data, you can go to *3282# from the phone. and there is no family data plan.

Anna Evans: so it’s $30 p.m. minimum if my other daughter (14 and the only one now iPhone less) gets an iPhone with her upgrade?

Shaun Poirier: No the minimum is 20.00 for 300MB.

Shaun Poirier: Okay the credit has been issued.

Anna Evans: if that’s the minimum why don’t AT&T put that on when they do it without consent? why do they pick the higher one?

Shaun didn’t have an answer for that. Anyway, I went to have a look at the family’s existing data plans, to get a feel for whether 300 MB would be sufficient for a data-empowered teen, which led me to THIS revelation:

Shaun Poirier: Okay all is done was there anything else?

Anna Evans: hey, how come I get 2 GB for $25 and my choice for her is $30 for 3GB or $20 for 300 MB?

Anna Evans: oh and my husband is grandfathered in to unlimited for $30 LOL! You can see where this one is going!

Shaun Poirier: The 2GB is no longer available, your feature is grandfatherd

Sooooo, we’re talking about a situation where AT&T charge more and more, on a monthly basis, for less and less data. We’re talking about a situation where AT&T make it impossible for you to use an iPhone (with all its teen-magnet features) without a $20 p.m. charge minimum per phone, DESPITE the fact that Apple make it possible for you to switch off data connectivity on the phone. We’re talking about a situation where AT&T can impose new monthly charges without the billpayer’s knowledge or consent. Which means we’re talking about corporate theft, basically.

Stealing. Candy. Babies. Just saying.

What Do You Mean, It’s Nearly May?


As I suspected, I was a terrible blogger during the first four months of 2012. I do believe, however, that I turned out to be a half-decent adjunct professor of Rhetoric & Composition!

Somewhat sneakily, I offered my students 1% extra credit on their final grade if they chose, as their topic for the final in-class writing assignment, “What I Learned in Rhetoric & Composition This Spring.” 17 of my remaining 23 students (There were 25 originally, but one disappeared halfway through the semester, and the other more recently and disappointingly) chose to avail themselves of this opportunity, and 16 of said essays were so glowing I wanted to keep them as testimonials. More to the point perhaps, they were all MUCH MUCH better written than the first in-class writing assignment that I gave them on Day 1.

I’ll be teaching again in the fall, Tuesdays and Thursdays 8.30 to 10.20, which may cause some logistical problems with getting children to school, but shouldn’t be anywhere near as hard or time-consuming because I have so much material prepared now.

So, here’s what you missed.

In addition to RSCNJ I taught poetry to the sixth grade at Hainesport Middle School from mid-January until mid-March. This was a great deal of fun and I ended up with a great rapport with both children and the main sixth grade English teacher. Hopefully I can repeat this in the future.

Publications: new poems are online at Lucid Rhythms and American Scientist, and available in print in Verse Wisconsin and Crannog. I also have poems due out in The Tampa Review, 32 Poems, New Walk, and new online poetry journals Angle and Kin. Meanwhile my first book manuscript, States of Correspondence, was a semi-finalist for The New Criterion Prize. When not frantically grading or preparing Power Point presentations in a futile effort to make grammar/essay structure fun for freshmen, I have been chipping away at my next Barefoot Muse Press project–a selfish chapbook of my own translations called Saint-Pol-Roux and Other Poems from the French. I am at the proof approval stage for that, so it should be available shortly. If you are of a mind to read what A.M. Juster called “fresh takes on familiar poems and thoughtful versions of tricky poems likely to be new experiences for most readers,” you can pre-order it here.

Speaking of Barefoot Muse Press, there are 4 days left in our first ever Open Chapbook Reading Period. (Note how I skillfully timed it so I wouldn’t have to actually read the submissions until AFTER I was done teaching!) If you have a chapbook of 25-40 pages of poetry which demonstrates allegiance to meter/form, simply visit our online submissions manager and upload it for free. Yup, no charge! Being personally sick of Pobiz, I decided to do something outside of the reading fee/contest model.

Don’t forget that I am also the editor of The Raintown Review! This very week I received copies of Volume 10 Issue 2, and it’s a corker! Among the usual delights of poetry by luminaries such as Ernest Hilbert, Rachel Hadas, Rhina P. Espaillat and Dick Davis, there are a couple of caustic essays and a civilly barbed exchange, on the difficulty of achieving a 50:50 ratio of women in publishing, between myself and Amit Majmudar. Get your copy now!

[Goodness, this post is starting to exhaust me! How am I still even functioning, I ask myself…]

I am really looking forward to my two week residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, which runs from July 11th to 26th. I might even write a few poems… (Needless to say, I did not feel it was realistic to attempt NaPoWriMo this year.)

By the way, let us not forget that I have two delightful daughters, who have not disappeared for four months, despite the fact that it might have been somewhat convenient! Indeed, Becky confounded her critics by not only making it to the Level 9 State Gymnastics Championship, and coming seventh on Beam, but also qualifying for Regionals, necessitating a weekend road trip to Chesapeake, Virginia. Furthermore, Lorna’s TAG team qualified for the State Final of Odyssey of the Mind, and her Lacrosse season is in full swing.

And yes, I did get the tax for Global Bridge sorted out on time.

Now, all I need to do is write my 3000 word essay on Mary Robinson for the West Chester Poetry Conference in June, and (maybe?) I can take some time off!

And breathe…

Xmas BOTBM!The Best of the Barefoot Muse anthology is now in the hands of its contributors, subscribers and other people who for one reason or another scored free copies. I have just 31 copies left in my office from the first print run of 200. The anthology has received its first 5 star Amazon review, and response from the recipients is overwhelmingly positive so far. I think I can call the project a success. Financially it’s a break even, assuming I sell all the remaining copies I have. Of course, it could suddenly take off on Amazon…

Next year’s projects for the press include a chapbook of my own translations and a chapbook contest. I’ve got to get to work on the latter–the admin could be a headache.

I will also be teaching Rhetoric and Composition at Richard Stockton College of NJ next semester. Odd, how things happen. Right after I graduated from Bennington I sent my resume to all of the local colleges and community colleges, hoping to get an adjunct job. I think only one even gave me the courtesy of a reply–a rejection, naturally. After a year or so I sorta gave up, assuming my unconventional resume was never going to get me a look in. Of course I know people at Stockton, so when I heard they were looking for adjuncts I dusted off my resume and sent it in. I went down for interview on the 14th and they offered me the position on the spot. It’s a wonderful campus and the professors I met with all seem like interesting and lively people, so now I just need to construct my syllabus.

Christmas is largely (and somewhat unbelievably, under the circumstances) handled. I’ve even wrapped the majority of the gifts. It’s a quiet one at home this year, which helps. I’m looking forward to seeing the girls’ faces when they open their gifts; it was fun shopping for them this year: no more fiddly plastic toys–it’s all jewelry, cosmetics, clothes and other stuff that makes up the kind of Xmas stocking I would have wanted at 12-14 (actually, that I’d still like now!)

So, here’s a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holidays to all my readers, and I wish you all the best for 2012. Don’t expect too much in the way of blogging first quarter–I’m going to be too busy to close parentheses!

And So What Do YOU Do?

I’ve always found this question difficult to answer, but lately it’s becoming a little ridiculous–I feel like I have as many hats as Imelda Marcos has shoes. Let’s recap the day so far and see if it helps.

I got up, woke the kids (sequentially), made their lunches, and saw them onto their respective school buses. I’m a Mother, then, that much is both crucial and important.

I went to the gym. To an extent that makes me a Lady of Leisure, I suppose, or at least someone who is in control of her own time.

I paid in some checks at the bank–the checks were either for teaching (One private lesson, one WWAC session, one Care 1 session) or for pre-orders of anthology copies.

I walked Sam. Dog-owner, then. Yes, for sure.

The second proof of the Best of The Barefoot Muse anthology arrived, and I spent some time with it, also setting in motion the next steps towards making copies generally available. I am the Managing Editor of Barefoot Muse Press! Yay me! Seriously, this is perhaps the thing that is currently giving me the most satisfaction–I love playing with the technology and the project plays to all my organizational strengths.

I went to the Care 1 facility to do a Christmas poetry project with my Alzheimers seniors. Teacher, then, yes. But even that is partitioned further–WWAC, Care 1, plus I have a residency coming up at Hainesport Elementary School and an interview next week to adjunct at Richard Stockton College of NJ.

I came home and drove Becky to Gymnastics practice. Ah, Mother again. Goodo!

I checked in on the online quantitative research I am managing for my husband’s company, Global Bridge. Oh, that’s right–I’m the Vice-President and Junior Partner in an International Sales & Marketing consultancy–I forgot that part.

I rated a couple of poems for Reena Heenan’s forthcoming online website of weddings poetry. Yep, Judge.

I haven’t written any poems recently but I’ve had acceptances from Verse Wisconsin and 32 Poems, so I guess I could call myself a Poet.

I didn’t do anything on the Raintown Review today but I’m definitely the Editor of that, in addition to being the Online Architect of the Schuylkill Valley Journal and Essay Co-Ordinator for the Mezzo Cammin Women Poets’ Timeline Project.

So, yeah. And what do YOU do? Oops! It’s time to take Lorna to dance class…

New Things

Sorry! I’ve been busy, and there’s been stuff happening, of which more later.

Firstly on the list of new things is the lovely iPhone I got for my birthday on July 23rd. Yes, I had resisted iTech successfully for the last few phone upgrades, but I couldn’t swim against the tide any longer. And boy, am I glad I stopped trying. I love my iPhone. I can think of no gadget more suited to a girl like me, who operates by the clock, has lists of lists, and believes information is power. [Read more…]

Travel & Injury Update

The UK is much as I left it last September, although we did do a really interesting day trip to the National War Memorial and Arboretum at Alrewas, about 15 miles from my parents’ house. Apart from that, in-laws a bit more doddery (I can say that because they still don’t have a computer.) I’m writing this on my mum’s computer in between hands of Mah-jong.

But I know, dear readers, you all really want to know about my injuries. How has it been, traveling with a broken face? Will I be scarred for life etc etc?

From the beginning it definitely looked worse than it was, especially after Rick Osler (Unusual present coming your way, Rick!) fixed my teeth. I suspect everyone in Barnsley thought Keba had beaten me up, and in fact I wanted to wear a little badge saying “My dog did it!” as I wandered round Asda.

At the start it was liquids through a straw and soft foods only, which was a bit of a PITA, but then again I did lose a few pounds. I can now chew gingerly using everything except the mended teeth, so I can eat an unlimited diet…slowly!

I suspect I am part werewolf, because I’ve always healed well and quickly. At this point the only really noticeable thing is the red and still slightly swollen patch on my upper lip, onto which I am assiduously rubbing scar cream three times daily. The knees are still a bit scabby, too.

So, all’s good. And the first thing I do when I get home will be to buy a spiked collar (Sorry Sam!) and a new non-retractable leash.

Anna’s Mouth Injury, the Scoop

Photo06202142Here’s the thing: I have a 115 pound golden retriever called Sammy. He’s as affectionate as he is furry (I keep a lint roller in my car), dumb as rocks, and boy, does he love chasing small animals.

Now, I weigh a little more than 115 pounds, but not that much more. And I’m not in the first flush of youth (he’s three). When I walk him, I wear sneakers, I have a special harness that goes under his belly, and I concentrate. If he spots a bunny or a squirrel (or sometimes just a particularly interesting bird) I plant my feet, hold the leash with both hands, and the belly strap brings him down. Usually.

Saturday night I took him over our good friends’ and neighbors’ house. It’s less than five minutes away. I hung out, swam; they barbecued, and, of course (This won’t surprise anyone who knows me) we put away a fair few glasses of wine. Just after midnight I started off to walk Sam home.

I was wearing flip flops; I don’t remember if I attached the leash to the chest strap of the harness or just to his collar; there’s no way in the world I was concentrating. And he saw a…I don’t even know what it was…but he went after it. Caught unawares, I couldn’t get my fingers out of the handle of the retractable leash fast enough. Smack! I hit the kerb face first and he dragged me along several feet of road before I finally managed to let him loose. Blood everywhere.

I spat out half a tooth and called my husband to come and get me. Everyone arrived–our friends, the kids, my husband. Sammy returned and got roundly beaten (Not by me.) We all went to our house and tried to assess the damage. To ER or not to ER, that was the question. We decided not. None of my wounds were gaping–mostly they were road burns. And there was a certain amount of concern that if K took me to the ER in that condition the police might be called! Anyway, the tooth was the worst thing, and the lip above it. We alternated hydrogen peroxide and ice until I was pronounced fit for bed, and amazingly, I slept.

Next day we called our lovely dentist friend, Dr. Osler, and he (Bless the man! A staunch Democrat too. Love him!) mended my mouth as best he could. The funny thing is that the worst broken tooth (there was also a chip off a neighboring one) had been crooked forever. (We don’t do so much orthodontics in the UK. Yes, cultural stereotypes often have a basis in truth.) Now it’s half fake, but straight.

So, I have kerb marks on my left cheek, a scabby and swollen lip, grazes on my chest, neck, left shoulder and both knees. I can’t chew on the fake tooth for a few weeks (and right now I can’t chew anyway, cos it hurts. It’s a struggle to open my mouth wide enough to slide in the soup spoon.) Oh and I’m leaving for our annual trip to the UK on Wednesday.

I also have a confused but somewhat sheepish oversized golden retriever, still furry, still affectionate, probably still likes chasing small animals. Anyone want one?

No, THIS was the worst blog hiatus ever!

But, I’ve decided to give it another shot, for various reasons, none of which need concern you, gentle reader.

So, what have I been doing? Well, if you know me, you won’t be surprised that the answer is, quite a lot. First of all, I went to MacDowell for two weeks in January. Loved it! Rather than rhapsodize at length about it here, however, I suggest you obtain a copy of the Spring 2011 Schuylkill Valley Journal, in which my personal essay about MacDowell appears. (Details on how to get a copy can be found here.) [Read more…]