The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

New arrival gifts

I’m getting up into my late 30’s, so you’d think that most of my friends/peers have already started families. But I find that I’m still buying just as many new arrival baby gifts as ever! A lot of my friends either got married late or waited until they were more financially prepared to start having children. As a result, here I am still attending showers, shopping for gifts, and looking at endless photo albums of Flickr streams. I’m not exactly a big fan of this process, so here’s hoping I can say goodbye to this phase of my life soon!

AT&T to buy T-Mobile?

Last week, AT&T proposed a $39 billion buyout of German telecom company T-Mobile. The move would further galvanize AT&T’s position as the second-leading telecommunications service provider in the U.S. behind Verizon Wireless by adding some 34 million customers and increasing revenue by more than 30%.

But of course the competition has already voiced concern about such a move, and federal regulators are expected to take up to a year to review the proposed deal. Sprint Nextel is poised to lead the opposition to the move, saying it will be bad for consumers in terms of pricing, and harm other telecom providers’ ability to compete. Sprint Nextel had been eying a T-Mobile merger or buyout themselves, so it’s not surprising that they are opposed.

We have both AT&T and T-Mobile phones in our house, so it will be interesting to see how this move turns out.

Scrabble App for iPad

I mostly use my iPad to browse the Internet and check emails, so I don’t have nearly as many apps as other people. But after reading so many terrific reviews of the Scrabble app by Electronic Arts, I decided to try it out for myself. After all, I used to love playing Scrabble, but haven’t done so in many, many years since my husband doesn’t care for it.

Anyway, it took a leap of faith to pay the $9.99 for the app. That’s a pretty steep price as far as apps go. I think prior to this, the most expensive app I purchased cost $5.99 or something. As I was buying it, I thought the app better be damned good to warrant this price. It is.

Users get several different playing modes to choose from, as well as a number of different gameplay options. For example, you can play solo against the CPU, challenge friends on Facebook, play against someone else over a WiFi connection, or use the Pass ‘n’ Play mode for multiple players on the same device. As far as gameplay goes, you can choose Classic Scrabble, or quick versions like a 75- or 150-point game or an 8- or 12-round game. You can also choose something called “Duplicate” in which you and the other player/CPU use the same rack of tiles. The person/AI that come up with the word that scores the most points gets the points for that turn. I guess it’s supposed to even out the “luck of the draw” thing as far as choosing tiles goes, but I haven’t actually tried that option yet. You can also set the difficulty level (easy, normal, hard) and use the Best Word feature for some CPU help if you get stuck (up to four assists per game).

I have to say that I absolutely LOVE this app! It is so awesome being able to play against the computer for a quick game whenever I want. At first, I tried Easy mode, but that wasn’t challenging enough. Then I moved up to Normal, and found the gameplay to be much better — though the CPU always comes up with the highest-scoring, most obscure words ever! I was hooked on the Best Word feature for a while, but then figured, what’s the point of playing if I don’t try to come up with my own words? So now I don’t use it at all. My favorite setting is a 150-point game against the CPU in Normal mode. So much fun!

Overall, Scrabble for iPad is probably the best app I’ve ever purchased. This game is totally addictive, and has caused me to waste several hours per day ever since I purchased it. Yes, it’s that good! I highly recommend this version for Scrabble fans.

Aging and Hair Loss

I went to visit my mom the other day for the first time in a few weeks. She had just gotten out of the shower, so her hair wasn’t done up as it usually is. I was kind of shocked to see how thin it is on top. She has a very noticeable line down the center of her scalp where the hair isn’t growing in anymore. It looks like a doubly wide center part, if that helps you picture it better.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because she is 63 years old, but still. I know my mom takes great pride in her appearance, so I want to look at hair loss products for her. Then again, she might get offended or embarrassed if I bring the subject up, so maybe I should just step back and mind my own business.

Aging sucks.

Personalized collectible coins

My husband’s uncle is about to retire, so I’ve been shopping around for a nice gift for him. As I was looking today, I came across a site that makes custom coins, and spent quite a long time looking through all the design. The coins were actually quite impressive. They were highly detailed, and available in many different styles and finishes. Too bad they mostly seem aimed at groups and organizations, otherwise that might have been a terrific option for our purposes!

Most expensive auto insurance by state

Now that I’m almost finished with my Master’s degree, I am beginning to scour online job boards for potential openings in my field. I don’t even care if the jobs are within my own state at this point; I just want to submit a few resumes and sit through a few interviews to get my bearings again. I haven’t been on a job search in a long time, so my skills have gotten a bit rusty.

Anyway, as I was checking through a list of columbus jobs, I came across a link that led me to an article about resources for people considering moving to a different state. One of the articles was about how you need to carefully calculate potential living expenses because there is sometimes a huge difference between what you pay in your current state and what it would cost in the state you’re moving to.

As an example, the article linked to a blog post on CBS MoneyWatch about which states have the highest auto insurance. Here’s the list writer Jerry Edgerton came up with:

1. Michigan, $2,541
2. Louisiana, $2,453
3. Oklahoma, $2,197
4. Montana, $2,190
5. Washington, D.C., $2,146
6. California, $1,991
7. Mississippi, $1,896
8. New Mexico, $1,896
9. Arkansas, $1,836
10. Maryland, $1,807
11. North Dakota, $1,794
12. Connecticut, $1,786
13. Rhode Island, $1,747
14. Wyoming, $1,714
15. Hawaii, $1,707
16. South Dakota, $1,707
17. Georgia, $1,670
18. New Jersey, $1,663
19. West Virginia, $1,633
20. Kentucky, $1,629
21. New York, $1,627
22. Minnesota, $1,614
23. Washington, $1,584
24. Missouri, $1,563
25. Indiana, $1,518
26. Colorado, $1,508
27. Texas, $1,492
28. Delaware, $1,489
29. Florida, $1,476
30. Nebraska, $1,470
31. Pennsylvania, $1,468
32. Kansas, $1,461
33. Alaska, $1,454
34. New Hampshire, $1,334
35. Massachusetts, $1,328
36. Idaho, $1,325
37. Alabama, $1,306
38. Oregon, $1,306
39. Nevada, $1,300
40. Illinois, $1,290
41. Arizona, $1,280
42. Utah, $1,272
43. Virginia, $1,237
44. Iowa, $1,179
45. North Carolina, $1,154
46. Ohio, $1,152
47. Tennessee, $1,146
48. Wisconsin, $1,128
49. Maine, $1,126
50. South Carolina, $1,095
51. Vermont, $995

A $1,500+ difference between Michigan and Vermont is pretty significant, don’t you think? Obviously no one would move to a state based on insurance rates alone, but it is definitely something to think about when it comes to your household budget.

SPQR iPad App

There are so many iPhone and iPad apps out there that it’s practically impossible to find some really cool ones without reading recommendations from other people. I first learned about the SPQR iPad app from a “Best of” list, and now feel inclined to pay the favor forward by letting others know about it as well.

SPQR, which stands for Senatus Populusque Romanus, is an app for Latin language lovers and students. It is very comprehensive in scope, containing a number of full books and poems in both Latin and English. It also has a searchable dictionary, Roman numeral generator, quotations, photos, grammar help, and more. What I like about the full texts is that the app developer also included English translations that the user can access with a single tap. This makes translation practice very simple and easy — though I have to say some of the English versions are less than stellar renditions of the original. Then again, I’m sure the author had to use public domain works, so it’s excusable.

I’ve only had this app for a short time, but I like what I see so far. I haven’t fully explored it yet, but I have a feeling that I’ll uncover even more gems once I do so. And I can’t wait to see what future updates bring to the table!

Overall, if you’re a student of the Latin language or even just a fan, the SPQR iPad app is worth paying $2.99 for!

Oat Revolution Cinnamon Roll

I love eating oatmeal for breakfast, but need the flavored kind. I cannot eat plain oatmeal even if I dress it up with syrup, honey, or other sweeteners. I usually eat Quaker stuff, but since I had a coupon for something called Oat Revolution, I decided to give it a try. I chose Cinnamon Roll flavor, and thought it was pretty good!

Unlike Quaker instant oatmeal, Oat Revolution isn’t made by adding boiling water to the mix. Instead, you add cold water (using the individual serving pouch as the measuring cup) before heating the whole thing up in the microwave for 90 seconds. It was fast and easy, and though I prefer to measure my water with a measuring cup, I see how the pouch might be convenient for some people.

Unfortunately, the taste was just OK. Quaker also makes a cinnamon roll flavor (or they did at one point; not sure if it’s still available), and I distinctly remember that product being far more flavorful than this one. I wasn’t expecting Cinnabon in a bowl, but Oat Revolution was kind of bland. I can eat what’s left of the box I bought, but I’m not sure that I’ll be back for more!