How to find music that will rock your world

Recently, I stumbled upon a couple ways to discover great, new music. These three mechanisms have been around for awhile, but it was only recently that I tested them out and became a fan.

One: Shazam
This app is awesome. It’s a music discovery application that allows you to open the app, point your gadget in the direction of the music, and within a couple seconds, the app gives you the artist, name of the song, album, etc.

Initially, I downloaded the free version which lets you identify and tag 5 songs per month, for free. But on that day I went to identify a song and was told I’d reached my limit of free tagging for the month, I upgraded in about 5 seconds.

I hear amazing music all the time. In the old days (before my iPhone and Shazam), I used to carry a little notepad and pen with me everywhere I went. When I’d hear a song I liked, I’d listen to the lyrics, jot them down in my notepad, and then look up the song when I got home. This system worked, but it was pretty old school. Now, I can point my iPhone anywhere and obtain song details.

One word of caution –Some people may take offense when you Shazam a song in their presence. Case in point: A couple weeks ago I had my quarterly appointment with my Rheumatologist to discuss how the miracle drug he prescribed is working. He was flipping through my chart and comparing this month’s lab results with last month’s. I didn’t consider us to be in an engaging mode. So, when I heard a rare Coldplay song piped into the hospital room where we were sitting, I turned on Shazam and let it do its thing. After I had turned off my iPhone and put it in my bag, the doc asked if I was done and if I was ready to discuss my labs. He seemed to take offense with my use of Shazam. Oh, well.

The thing I like about Shazam is that I can use it anywhere. I’ve used it in a movie theater, watching NetFlix, in an elevator, at a doctor’s appointment, driving in the mountains, in a department store, at the salon, and I would have used it at the Stephen Colbert Report taping, if cell phones were allowed.

It’s genius! Where ever good music is playing, Shazam will help you identify the song.

Two: Starbucks Song of the Week
I’m not sure when Starbucks started this initiative, but it’s great. Each week, they partner with iTunes to feature one musician, and they give away a free download of the song of the week. You take the little card and log into iTunes, navigate your way to the “Redeem” section, enter the passcode (on the back of the card), and boom! You just downloaded a free song.

I think the reason I didn’t participate in the free weekly download is because I thought: “If it’s free, it’s probably some boring artist I wouldn’t like.” But I was soooo mistaken about this. The Starbucks/iTunes artist of the week has introduced me to some fantastic musicians. I’m most recently in love with Broken Bells (especially their song, “The High Road”). Their song was featured a couple weeks ago.

If you visit Starbucks and see the Song of the week cards, take advantage of this offer. You never know who your new, favorite artist may become!

Three: Pandora
This site has an intriguing concept: enter the name of a song you love, and Pandora will play songs that are genetically like the one you entered. It’s like you have the chance to create a radio station that perfectly suits your musical tastes. I tried it out by submitting “Miles Behind Me” by Hotel Lights, and within a few seconds, I was hearing some lovely songs that were like the cousins of this song.

The ability of Pandora to cluster like-sounding songs is made possible by the Musical Genome Project. Essentially, every song in the Pandora database is analyzed and assigned up to 400 attributes (or pieces of metadata).

For a more technical overview of how Pandora works, here’s an excerpt taken from their site:

A song in the Music Genome Project is analyzed using up to 400 distinct musical characteristics or attributes by a trained music analyst. These attributes capture not only the musical identity of a song, but also the many significant qualities that are relevant to understanding the musical preferences of listeners. The typical music analyst working on the Music Genome Project has a four-year degree in music theory, composition or performance, has passed through a selective screening process and has completed intensive training in the Music Genome’s rigorous and precise methodology. To qualify for the work, analysts must have a firm grounding in music theory, including familiarity with a wide range of styles and sounds. All analysis is done on location.The Music Genome Project’s database is built using a methodology that includes the use of precisely defined terminology, a consistent frame of reference, redundant analysis, and ongoing quality control to ensure that data integrity remains reliably high. Pandora does not use machine-listening or other forms of automated data extraction.

The librarian in me really appreciates all the work that goes on behind the scenes to capture and describe the songs in Pandora’s database. And since the work is done by humans, not machines, this helps explain why the results are so overwhelmingly correct and on target.

Give it a try! Take time to enjoy some beautiful music. Your whole being will thank you for it!

Interview with a couple who’ve been married 44 years (my parents!)

My parents celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary this week. On Saturday, we got together for a BBQ and toasted their anniversary (as well as father’s day).

I knew that I wanted to interview my parents for my blog, but I wasn’t sure they’d be willing. Mid-point during lunch, I asked if they would mind answering a few questions about marriage and relationships. My mom wanted to know what I was going to do with their answers. I told her I’d like to write a blog post. My mom replied, “Oh, that’s a good idea. But wait. Who would care about our marriage? It’s so boring. I don’t want to bore your readers.”

I told my mom that she needn’t worry about being boring. I said that that in a world where the top-grossing films involve robots, vampires, and explosives, some good, old-fashioned dialog would be a breath of fresh air!

##################

Part One: I interview my mom about her marriage with my dad.

Why did you marry dad?

I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I didn’t want to have to say goodbye any more. It upset me a lot when, after our dates, he’d go his way and I’d go mine. I wanted to be with him forever.

Growing up, my home life was unsettling. I have always felt safe with your dad. From 1963 to present, I’ve felt protected and cared for. I didn’t feel this way in my home with my parents.

What qualities drew you to dad?

He laughed more than anyone I’d ever met. My family didn’t laugh at all. We were uptight and rigid. Your dad had all of these noises and voices that he used to make me laugh. He was very animated. He had a sense of humor that I was not used to, and I really liked it.

What qualities do you like about him today?

He’s my number one fan.

What have you learned from Dad?

He taught me the difference between passive and aggressive behavior. Your dad is always concerned about the underdog. He has a lot of compassion.

What is something that you don’t like about dad’s character?

He can’t say “No” to strangers. He always gives money to the homeless people. He lends his most precious items to his friends without hesitation.

In addition, he’s a procrastinator. This quality is the worst. All these years when I’ve asked him to do something and he said “yes,” I knew he’d do it. But I’ve had to learn that he works on his own time schedule.

I’m a type A and your dad is whatever the opposite of that is.

Your dad is a “dreamer.” When we first got married, we used to fight all the time about his daydreams and fantasies. I’ve learned to just listen to him as he verbalizes or articulates his daydream. And then by the next day, he’s moved on to a different dream. My job is to let him fantasize out loud and listen. I can count the number of his dreams that have come true on one hand. He’s a big dreamer.

Your dad’s more patient than I am. He’s also more open. If someone knocks on the door, I don’t answer it. But your dad will answer the door, offer the person something to drink, and chat with them for several hours. I have so little down or alone time that I value and spend it wisely.

How do you handle problems?

We still don’t have a good solution. He thinks that by raising his voice, this will make me pay attention. But when he raises his voice, I walk away. We tend to go into separate rooms and cool off. We don’t argue very much, in general. But when we do, It’s a doozie.

Have you ever thought about getting a divorce?

Yes. I was envious of your life when you moved to Washington, DC . I wanted to come along. I wondered what it would be like to be educated, young and making my own money and making my own choices. But then I realized that was not my life; it was your life. And then I no longer wanted a divorce.

How do you and dad have a good time?

There are multiple ways. We love to go to church and see our friends. We both feel safe and comfortable there. We love road trips. We love to stay home, BBQ, and watch an old Western together. Our favorites are: The Stalking Moon, Pale Rider, Rough Rider.

What’s the most romantic thing dad has done for you?

He’s not a romantic person. I guess some of the cards he’s given me over the years were romantic. Your dad is very thoughtful and he’s always on the lookout for little gifts for me. He’s surprised me on multiple occasions with pieces of jewelry. Probably the most romantic thing he did for me was propose to me on my birthday. He got down on one knee. I was hopeful that this would happen, and it did!

What’s the secret of staying together so long?

Respect, faithfulness, and honesty. You don’t always get all three of these at the same time. You have to work hard to have all three at once. It’s important to validate one another. Your dad says to me, you look sexy tonight; you were the most intelligent woman in that group; you did a great job the other day, and so on. He encourages me. I feel incredibly safe with him. He takes good care of me.

What’s your sex life like when you’ve been married 44 years?

Well, it didn’t go away! When you’re first married, you are young and healthy and full of energy. When you get older, it helps if both partners remain healthy. To me, your dad is the sexiest man I know. I’m amazed that he still thinks I’m sexy. Sometimes, we sit and reminisce about the time we went to a special place on a certain day and had a very sexy time. We like to recall and talk about our secrets. No one else on earth knows these details, except me and your dad, and this is special and fun!

How has it been having me as a daughter?

[My mom bursts into laughter. And then I do, too]

##########################

Part Two: I interview my dad about his marriage to my mom

Why did you marry mom?

[Long pause] I thought she was a great gal. She was attractive, intelligent, and a real babe. She seemed to think I was something special.

Why were you attracted to mom?

[Very long pause] I thought she was good looking and I wanted to meet her and get to know her. Your mom filled all the squares for me.

What qualities do you like in mom?

She has a good head on her shoulders. She makes the best chocolate cake. She smells good.

What qualities about mom bug you?

I don’t know. Honey, I don’t want to go into that.

What do you and mom do for fun?

We enjoy interior and exterior home improvements and design. We enjoy taking road trips to pretty towns and staying overnight. We travel to Colorado a lot. It’s about one of our favorite destinations. We love Denver. For a long time, we chose our travel destinations based on the number of antique shops the town had, and how interesting and charming of a place it was.

What’s the most romantic thing mom ever did for you?

Romantic? Honey, I don’t know.

What was your mom’s answer?

The most romantic thing? I’ll have to come back to that. I don’t know.

Have you ever wanted to get a divorce?

I can’t imagine being married to anyone other than your mom. She’s the right one for me.

What’s the secret to a long marriage?

Well, we make a strong effort to enjoy the journey. We just try to enjoy as much as possible. Also, we waited awhile before having children. Couples need to get to know each other well before the kids come along. I think it’s important to be generous to your spouse. Be generous with everything.

When you fight, how do you get over it?

Gosh, I don’t know what to say about that.

I try not to over-react. And I do my best not to do or say foolish things that will upset your mom.

How’s your sex life?

What did your mother say about that?

[Long pause followed by him scratching his head] Hmm. Well, I have some troubles now. It was wonderful for years. But I have some health issues. It’s possibly going to get better. We still carry on a little bit.

What’s it been like having me as a daughter?

I couldn’t ask for anything better. 😉

Cupidtino – a new online dating site for Mac users

A friend brought the new online dating/matchmaking site, Cupidtino, to my attention. It sounded like a fun and semi-intresting concept: a web site where Mac users (sorry, PCs, you’re uninvited) can meet one another and talk, date, fall in love, or whatever.

I was curious, so I created an account.

From a user’s perspective, the site is straightforward and sophisticated. It allows Mac users to tell one another about themselves via creative means. When registering for an account, you are asked to provide the following:

  • Email address
  • Username
  • My basics
  • What I do for a living
  • When I became a Mac fan
  • Cool facts about me
  • You’re my type if..
  • My photos
  • My favorites (iPhone & iPad Apps)
  • My gadgets (coming soon; not available at present)
  • More details

After providing these details, you’re good to go.

I was really excited when I woke up the morning after I created my account and found a couple messages waiting for me. According to the stats, my profile had been viewed 18 times. I love that the site provides some basic metrics.

But here’s where I started to dislike Cupidtino. When you go to retrieve your messages, you’re confronted with this:

Cupidtino didn’t mention the fact that to retrieve messages, you have to pay a fee. I felt a little trapped and tricked.

While it’s a clever web site, I’m unwilling to pay $5 a month for this service until a few things are improved.

1. Search — Presently, search is too basic and rudimentary. I’m a huge fan of search, so being limited to age range, country, whether or not I’m looking for men or women (or both), and if they have a photo, is too constricting and non-helpful.

Here’s a use case Cupidtino needs to consider:

It’s late at night and I am about to fall asleep, but I notice someone’s profile who really intrigues me. But I have an important meeting at 7:30AM and I don’t have time at the moment to explore this person’s profile. The next day, I’m unable to get the person out of my head. When I get home, all I can remember is a funny thing he wrote in his profile. I go to search for this funny line, but I can’t execute a keyword/phrase search. Instead, I have to remember the age range of the person, what country they’re from, and then wade through a ton of results until I find Mr. Come-on-baby-light-my-fire.

These limited search mechanisms are cumbersome, annoying, and a huge step back. This is how I searched for people five years ago when I was really into online dating. Search has advanced. Cupidtino needs to catch up.

2. Too few members — There aren’t enough members to make it worthwhile to pay for a membership. In 6 months, after the site has 500,000 member, yes, I’d consider paying. But with just over ten-thousand members, it’s too small of a user population.

3. Mandatory personal metadata — On Cupidtino, you have to provide the date you were born, which means you have to reveal your age. I don’t like to be forced to give out certain information.

4. Functionality — If Cupidtino wants us to pay for membership, their site should be fully operational, not in Beta. I believe members should pay for the functionality presently available, not for the functionality that may be available in the future.

5. Comparing membership fee to Starbucks coffee — I pay for a coffee at Starbucks every day. And Starbucks recognizes my loyalty and treats me like I’m a valued customer. The baristas start my drink the minute I walk in the door. This means I don’t have to wait in line to order and pay, and then wait again while they prepare my coffee. I wait in line once, and I really appreciate this. Cupidtino needs to understand that when we pay $4.79 for coffee, we’re buying more than just the cup of coffee. We’re buying an experience. If they’re going to compare their service with Starbucks, they’d better deliver.

6. Photos — When I see someone who catches my eye, I tend to double click their avatar and get a better look. Cupidtino doesn’t allow photos to be enlarged. 😦

Cupidtino is a great idea, but I wish they’d reconsider their membership fee. Others folks seem to be in agreement:

Advice from a tree

While vacationing in Colorado last week, I had the opportunity to spend time hiking in the mountains and enjoying the Aspen trees. They are my favorite tree.

After the hike, on the drive back to our cabin in Estes Park, we stopped at a gift shop to look around, get a cup of coffee, and use the restroom. 😉

Above the restroom door was a simple yet enlightening poster. It contained an excerpt of the poem, Advice from a tree by Ilan Shamir.

It’s good advice for all of us, dear readers.

Enjoy!

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Advice From a Tree

Stand tall and proud

Sink your roots into the earth

Be content with your natural beauty

Go out on a limb

Drink plenty of water

Remember your roots

Enjoy the view!

Being a Mac person in a PC world

I’ve been a Mac user a little over a year; I bought my first one in April of 2009. I didn’t know it was possible to love a computer so much, but I really fell in love quickly, and the fire continues to burn.

Mac computers and phones and music players make the user experience incredibly fun and enjoyable. When I go to work and have to use a PC, I feel a bit resentful that I am stuck with a Dell. Work wouldn’t feel so much like work if I did my computing on a Mac. A couple colleagues were bold enough to insist on using Macs at the office. I need to talk with them to find out how they went about negotiating this. I’d like to follow in their lead.

The only negative thing I’ve experienced with my Macs is when I’m on travel (be it for business or pleasure). Here’s what happened today when we arrived at our mountain cabin and I tried to connect to their WiFi.

The nice little lady gave us a tour of our cabin and pointed out the new hot tub (hot damn!) and then I asked her where I could find the WiFi password. She said it was in the little binder on the table. She grabbed the binder and proceeded to quickly thumb through the pages, but she could not find the password.

“Do you have it memorized, by chance?” I asked her.

“I do. The password is our phone number.”

“I have a pen and notepad. Why don’t you write it down.”

“Good idea.”

Then she left, we unpacked, and I grabbed my MacBook Pro and headed out to the deck (which overlooks a wild-running river). I grabbed the little piece of paper with the password, sat in an Adirondack chair, and attempted to join their WiFi network.

I tried and tried, but I was unable to get online. I felt that panicky feeling (OMG! I’m in the mountains for several days and I don’t have AT&T or WiFi. What the heck am I going to do???)

I took a deep breath and walked over to the office, MacBook Pro in tow. I set my Mac on the office counter and told her that I was having trouble getting Internet access. Here’s what she said:

“You use an Apple?”

“Yep.”

“They are troublesome computers. There’s special WiFi instructions for Apple users. We don’t have many Apple users stay with us.”

“Could I have these special instructions?”

“Let me find them.”

She proceeded to flip through several notebooks, lift pieces of paper off one side of the counter and set them down on the other side of the counter. And then she said:

“I can’t find the instructions. Sorry.”

“You advertised that you had WiFi available for your customers; I need to be able to access the Internet.”

“Well, the problem is your computer. We didn’t say anything about having service for Apples.”
At this point, I was about to go ballistic. But I kept my cool.

“Who’s your internet service provider?” I inquired.

“Qwest, I think. But they’re in Phoenix. They won’t be able to come here and fix your Apple.”

“How about if you call them and ask for the special Apple connection instructions.”

She got her phone and dialed Qwest’s number. When she finally reached a live person, she was prompted to give the Qwest rep her phone number. I wrote it down as she was saying it.

That’s when I noticed that the number she wrote on my little piece of paper was different than the number she gave Qwest. As she carried on with her Qwest conversation, I went to my Network Preferences and entered the new password. Bingo! I was connected in a matter of seconds. 🙂

She had her back to me while she was on the phone. I said, “Ma’am, I figured out the problem.”

“Did you fix your Apple?”

“No, the number you wrote down was off by one number. Does your phone number and password end in a 2 or a 3?”

“A three.”

“Yeah, you just made a little typo. No big deal.”

“For heaven’s sake. You’re right. I meant to write down a three but I didn’t. I wrote down a 2. All of that work for a silly number.”

“At least things are working now,” I said. “And isn’t it great that there aren’t special instructions for Apple computers?”

“Well, to me, it’s not. They are hard computers to understand.”

“Have a good rest of the day,” I said.

And then I happily skipped back to the cabin with my MacBook under my arm.

What I am trying to say is that it’s mostly non-Mac users who make being a Mac user difficult.

If I were president, I’d have my country be a Mac Country. 😉

The allure of missed opportunities

How many times have you been in a hardware store or in the grocery store or filling your car’s gas tank, and you make eye contact with a person who you are immediately drawn to? And the amazing thing is that in this magical moment, the other person seems utterly smitten with you, too? In other words, the attraction is not unrequited; it’s reciprocated. But, for whatever reason, despite the gravitational pull, you don’t act on the attraction. Instead, it slips through your hands.

Here in ABQ, we have a great weekly newspaper called the Alibi. When a new edition is published, I immediately turn to the “I Saw You” section. This is where people publish little ads hoping to (re)connect with a person they encountered but were unable to approach. I absolutely love reading these ads. I wonder how often the ads lead to successful (re)unions? I am fascinated with the details one person notices about another person. In this week’s issue, some of the “I can’t stop thinking about you” details include:

  • Sexy, silky, yellow dress
  • Barefoot at the swap meet
  • Breathtaking smile
  • Nice breasts
  • White bathing suit
  • Sitting under an umbrella, reading
  • Captivating eyes
  • Dressed in a kilt
  • You smiled at me
  • Buying wine and cake mix at the grocery store

Sophie Blackall has a blog that is dedicated to missed opportunities and connections. Her site contains whimsical drawings that reflect the “tone” of the “I saw you” ad. In a succinct and poetic manner, Sophie describes missed opportunities:

Every day hundreds of strangers reach out to other strangers on the strength of a glance, a smile or a blue hat. Their messages have the lifespan of a butterfly. I’m trying to pin a few of them down.

The next time someone catches your eye, here’s my advice: Be brave. Say hello. Smile. Make it a big smile. Go ahead, show your teeth! 😉

You never know where your bravery may take you. And this is exciting!

Crap. I’ve got a water leak. And I’m freaking out.

Monday was Memorial Day. I had several things I wanted to accomplish. I ran a couple errands in the morning, and when I returned home, I noticed a puddle of water at the edge of my property. When I went inside and turned on the faucet, I had no water.

I grabbed my iPhone and dialed 311. This is the city’s “citizen contact number” and they really are quite helpful with a lot of things. 311 is like the main telephone operator. You report a problem and the 311 staff routes the issue to the appropriate department. I’ve used it to report a fire in a neighbor’s home; pets and other animals that have been hit by cars, and on Memorial Day I used it to report my water outage.

Of course, since it was a holiday, everything was closed, including 311. I found an emergency number for the City’s Water Authority and I dialed it with great urgency. Here’s how the phone call went:

Me: Hi, I am calling to report a water outage at my house.

Operator: Um, there’s no outages anywhere. I can’t really help you.

Me: Well, there may not be any large-scale outages, but my residence has no water.

Operator: What’s your address?

Me: 1234 Main Street.

Operator: Oh, yeah. We turned off your water line.

Me: Right. I’m aware of this. Can you tell me what’s wrong.

Operator: I don’t know.

Me: Okay, let’s start with this: who reported that I had a leak?

Operator: I’m going to put you on hold.

Some saxophone remixes of popular 80’s hits are piped into my iPhone while I’m on hold.

Operator: Your neighbor at 1238 Main Street called in the leak.

Me: What time was the call made?

Operator: I don’t know.

Me: Could you look to see if there’s a timestamp on the ticket?

Operator: I’m going to put you on hold.

More sax music.

Operator: They called it in around noon.

Me: Okay.

Operator: Just so you know, the leak was on your side of the property, so the City is not responsible for it. The repairs are going to be at your expense.

Me: Noted.

Operator: I just wanted to inform you of this.

Me: Would you send someone out to turn my water on?

Operator: You have a leak.

Me: I understand. But I want to observe the leak so that I will know how to describe the problem to the plumber I hire.

Operator: It’s a holiday. Why do you want us to turn your water on? By the way, you will be billed for the leaking water, and the city may give you a citation.

Me: As I said, I’d like to see where the leak is coming from.

Operator: I’ll try to send someone out, but it’s a holiday.

That was one of the most painful telephone conversations I’ve had in a while. But it would be nothing compared to the next conversation I’d have.

I decided to go outside and inspect the leak. I have a tool that helped me lift the lid off the hole where my water meter is located. So I poked around for a few minutes.

That’s when my neighbor opened his garage door and walked over to where I was kneeling.

Neighbor: Hey. I called the city. You had a leak. And I swear that it wasn’t me messing around this time. I didn’t turn off your water. There was a genuine leak. (Note: about a year ago, this neighbor of mine turned off the water line to my house just because. I reported him and I believe he was given a warning or citation by the city).

Me: Can you tell me what happened?

Neighbor: There was water gushing from this hole.

Me: Okay.

Neighbor: Did you see the note the city left you?

Me: A note? No, I didn’t see anything.

Neighbor: Yeah, they left you a note. It’s on your garage door. Close your garage door and you’ll see it. The note says that you have a leak. I read it. Hope you don’t mind.

Me: Okay, thanks for letting me know there’s a note.

Neighbor: Hey, would you like for me to turn your water on for awhile? That way, you could fill some buckets or some water bottles so you won’t be thirsty.

Me: I have some bottled water.

Neighbor: Are you sure you don’t want me to turn your water on for a little while? Do you need to poop or anything?

Me: Poop?

Neighbor: Yeah, you’ll only have enough water for one flush. But if you fill some buckets, you can fill your toilet’s tank and flush it a few times. You know, if you have to go poop.

Me: Um, I don’t have to go poop. But maybe I should fill a bucket just in case.

I went inside and filled my kitchen sink with hot, soapy water. And I filled a bucket, too (just in case!). And then I went outside and thanked my neighbor and told him he could turn the water line off again.

After this conversation, I went inside my home and burst into tears. Why? It was too much to take. I had an anxiety attack and felt alone and frustrated. 😦

And then my librarian brain kicked in and I told myself I needed to find a plumber. I wiped my tears, used some eyedrops, and fired up Safari on my MacBook Pro.

The first thing I did was send out a tweet asking if anyone in my town knew of a good and trustworthy plumber. A twitter friend and fellow librarian from ABQ who lives in Chicago replied, not only with a company’s name, but also their phone number. (I love Twitter!)

I wasn’t able to reach this company, so I navigated my way to the Better Business Bureau’s web site. Once there, I did a search for plumbers within a 5 mile radius that had a rating of A+ – A-. Thankfully, I found several. I called each of them, but I got their voicemail.

After making several phone calls and reaching no one, I made peace with the fact that I wouldn’t have water that day.

At 7:00AM on Tuesday, I started calling plumbers again. Most of them were “booked” the next two weeks. But I didn’t give up. I finally reached a company who had a cancellation that morning. So, by 8:30 AM the plumber was at my house. By 3:30 PM I had a new water line from the street to my house. WooHoo!

So here’s the take-away: On a holiday, a plumber will charge you up to three times the normal rate. If you can afford this, go for it. If not, fill some buckets using your neighbor’s hose and make peace with the fact that you’ll be without water for 24-48 hours.

Use your resources and social networking friends to find a good plumber. And once you’ve found one, here are a few questions to ask:

  1. Will they give you a variety of options for fixing the problem?
  2. Do they charge by the hour or by the job?
  3. Does each plumber make up the price, or do they have a published list of fees for common plumbing problems?
  4. After the plumber gives you his recommendation, ask him what he would do if this were his home. By asking this question, you give him a chance to “walk a mile in your shoes” and re-think his response and solution.
  5. Does their work have a guarantee or warranty?
  6. Do they double or triple their fees on holidays?
  7. Ask for a quote before they commence the work. Look over the itemized invoice. I noticed that the fee to dig the holes was the most expensive item. This prompted me to have the plumbing company replace my entire line, not just the broken section. In essence, I saved myself the hassle and expense of having to pay the digging fee the next time a leak or break occurs.
  8. If they make an error, will they fix it and not bill you for their time and supplies? This is an important one because the guy who fixed my leak accidentally punctured my sewage line. He informed me of this right away and told me he’d replace it at his expense. (Thank God)

You’ll be astonished at how much power you have at your fingertips! Good luck! 🙂

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a hot shower. 🙂