The Trouble Returning a Lost iPhone

I really, truly hate losing things. Maybe that’s why I feel so bad when others have lost something that belongs to them, and I want to get it back to them if I can. I remember being on a bus in San Francisco when I was a kid and a person with down syndrome got off the bus and left some gloves behind. I remember finding a kid’s hat on a ferry, and wondering whether the kid was upset because he didn’t have his favorite hat. Maybe that’s why when I find something, I want to get it back to the owner, especially when that “something” is a cell phone. A cell phone isn’t just a phone anymore, it’s an entertainment device, and could possibly hold important photos, or information, and it usually costs a lot of money.

Now, I’ve found and returned a number of phones over the years, from the old flip phones, to fairly new iPhones, and it’s usually quite easy. You wait until the phone rings, then set up a meeting place. That’s how previous “cell phone finds” have gone (though once I may not have gotten it back to the rightful owner, and the cell phone may have belonged to a drug dealer). On Monday I came across my most recent find at a park, an older iPhone 4, but unlike past phone finds, finding the owner was anything but easy.

I quickly looked at this phone when I found it and noticed that it had no service, which seemed a bit odd because we were in the middle of the city, though we were in the middle of the river valley, which could block signals, I guess. I tried to unlock the phone, but it was protected by a PIN. Popped it in my pocket and brought it home to look at later. At home I discovered the phone still didn’t have service, and restarting it didn’t change anything. This phone wasn’t going to ring, so it was up to me to find the owner.

I decided to connect the phone to my computer to see if I could learn anything from iTunes. A dialog box popped up on the screen telling me that I had to enter the PIN to unlock the phone named “Hamin’s iPhone.” Ahhh… so the phone belonged to someone named Hamin. That’s great, but a last name sure would have been helpful. Entering “Hamin” and “Edmonton” into Google didn’t help much. Searching “Hamin” on Facebook didn’t help much, and neither did Twitter. “Hamin” was no “Madonna” or “Cher,” that’s for sure.

If I was going to return the phone to Hamin, I was going to need to get more information. The phone was locked by a PIN, had no cell service, and no WiFi. I decided to pop the SIM card out to see who the provider was. Telus. Okay, I wrote the number down on the SIM card and headed to the local mall that had a Telus store. I went inside, waited a few minutes and then explained the situation to the guy working there. He told me that there wasn’t much he could do with the number on the SIM card, since that’s not something they can look up. He would need the phone number, which we couldn’t get. No problem, I’d take the phone to the Apple store the next day (Tuesday), and surely they would be able to help me. At this point I realized the phone was probably an old phone that had been replaced by a new one, so the SIM card wasn’t active and was essentially useless.

Now, I wasn’t looking for a company like Telus or Apple to simply hand over Hamin’s contact information, since that would be a huge violation of a company’s privacy policy, I simply wanted the company to contact Hamin and let him know I had his phone and give him my contact info. I figured that would be something they could do, and it shouldn’t violate any privacy policy they would have.

Tuesday morning I headed to the Apple Store confident that they would be able to connect the phone to a computer, pull up the serial number and use that to look up Hamin’s contact information, send him an email (or call him), and Hamin would get his phone back. No such luck. Apple doesn’t do that sort of thing, at least that’s what the manager of the store told me. Now, I’m fairly confident they could do that sort of thing if they wanted, but they don’t want to. She told me to take the phone to the police and they may get in touch with Apple and they could sort it out. I have nothing bad to say about the police in Edmonton (I used to volunteer with them many years ago), but I’d have to think that getting Hamin’s iPhone back to him wouldn’t be high on their list of priorities. Taking it into the police station was going to be my last-ditch effort; essentially me giving up my quest to get Hamin his iPhone back.

I went back home a bit annoyed that Apple didn’t have a process for returning iPhones to people, but determined that there had to be a way I could pull this off. If only I could get past that damn PIN screen. I recalled reading about a number of vulnerabilities in the past, so I started searching for them. Different versions of the iOS firmware had different ways to bypass te lock screen, but I had no idea which firmware this phone had. It’s an iPhone 4, so it doesn’t have Siri, which some of the bypasses needed. Other bypasses worked if there was a missed call, but I had no way to call the phone to try this, since it had no service. I watched a number of Youtube videos, and none of them helped me get into Hamin’s phone so I could get some information and return his precious phone to him. I needed to know what firmware was on this thing if I was going to find the right hack to get past the PIN screen.

I did a lot of searching online, downloaded a lot of programs, but I finally found something that told me the firmware – 7.1.2. I even tried finding a program that would allow me to access the phone to read the data on it, but those were either extremely expensive (and limited to police agencies), or they needed the phone to be mounted in iTunes, which I couldn’t do because iTunes needed the PIN to be entered. More dead ends, but at least I knew the firmware version so I could do specific research into which exploit would allow me to get past the PIN screen.

The one that kept coming up involved having a missed call on the phone. You swiped this way and that way and turned things on and off and clicked on the missed call and then you were supposed to be into the main part of the phone. I needed a missed call on the phone, but no one was going to call the phone because it had no service! ARGH!! Then I remembered my neighbour, John (who I’m sure will comment on this blog post), is also on Telus. Kat, my wife uses Telus as well, but her SIM card is a different size. I asked John if we could try putting his SIM card into the phone to see if I could call his phone (which would now ring on Hamin’s phone) and then we’d have a missed call. He agreed.

So yesterday, Thursday, I headed over to John’s house and we put his SIM card into Hamin’s iPhone. I called the phone so it had a missed call, swiped this way and that way, turned this thing on and that thing off and… nothing. It didn’t work. The Internet had lied to me. I watched the YouTube video again, tried swiping things, and it still didn’t work. I was feeling quite deflated at that point, ready to take the phone to the police station and admit defeat, which I decided to look at the various alerts that had popped up when we had put John’s card into Hamin’s phone. You see, the phone had cell service with John’s card, but it also had 3G – data – and so various notifications had popped up. Facebook said there were 9 notifications, but didn’t say what any of them were. Instagram mentioned someone had “liked” a photo that Hamin had posted, and gmail had the subject of an unread message. I realized that if I could contact the person on Instagram maybe they were friends with Hamin and could tell him I had his iPhone. Maybe… or maybe this person just randomly liked photos of people they had no connection with, and if I said “hey, you liked a photo in the last few days and I need to get ahold of that person” they would have liked a hundred photos and have no idea who Hamin was. Then I decided to look more at the gmail alert, which at first glance appeared to be a spam message.

It turns out the gmail message would be the key to getting ahold of Hamin. The subject had an acronym in it, along with “ref.” Google told me the acronym was for an Edmonton soccer association, so I realized that Hamin must be a referee for the association. Surely they would know who he was if I emailed them, so that’s what I did. I composed a short email telling them that I had found an iPhone belonging to Hamin and that I’d like to return it to him, and I included my contact info. I was out running around yesterday, and the next time I checked my phone I had a missed call from a number I didn’t recognize. I checked my email and there was a response! The person with the soccer association had called Hamin’s dad, confirmed that he had lost his phone and sent him my contact information, and thanked me for taking the time to track Hamin down. I called the number and spoke to his dad, then we traded some emails back and forth.

Hamin is 12 years old, and he lost the phone earlier on Monday, the day I found it at the park. He’s gone on vacation for a month, but will be very happy to get it back when he returns. His dad will be coming by on Sunday to pick it up, and he thanked me very much for ensuring it got returned.

It wasn’t easy, but Hamin will get his phone back. Sure, I spent a few hours visiting Telus and the Apple Store, not to mention countless Google searches and trying out various programs, but the end result is a 12 year old is getting the thing he lost back, and that makes the time spent well worth it. Success!


Here are a couple of tips for ensuring you can get your phone back if you lose it:

  1. Turn on “Find my iPhone” if you have an iPhone. This allows you to send messages to your phone from a computer or another iOS device. You can also get the location of the phone, remotely lock it, and even wipe the phone if you decide it’s completely lost. However, the phone needs to have a data connection (either 3G, LTE, or WiFi) in order to work. I’ve started testing the feature every few months, just to make sure it still works.
  2. Create a special lock screen image that has your contact information. This is something I haven’t done yet, but I will now. Include a phone number someone can call if they find your phone (tip: don’t included your cell number, since that’s what you lost). This makes it easy for someone to get ahold of you, since your number is visible, and they don’t need to search for it. It also works if the phone has no connection, since it’s just an image on the lock screen. I have an old iPhone 3GS that I’m going to do this with since there’s no way to call the phone.
  3. Seriously, if you have an iPhone TURN ON “Find my iPhone”!!!
  4. Have you turned on “Find my iPhone” yet? TURN IT ON!

Thanks to Vincent at Connect2Edmonton (great forum for people in Edmonton) for the following info:

If you have an Android phone you can find your phone at www.android.com/devicemanager.
You must have location services turned on, on your phone.

If you have a Windows phone you can find your phone at account.microsoft.com/devices.
You can also ring, lock or erase your phone from here.
You can toggle a few options on your phone under Settings/Find My Phone

If you have a Blackberry you can find your phone at www.blackberry.com and search for “Blackberry Protect”.
You must have the Blackberry Protect app installed on your phone and use it to enable location reporting.

Of course all those items assume the phone has some sort of connection in order to work. The lock screen contact info is the only one that’ll work without a connection. I just went and added the info to all our phones and iPads in the house.

Sickness, Strep, and Psoriasis

This winter was a hard one for our family; I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that we were unhealthy for about half the winter. We were either just coming down with something, completely sick, or recovering, with the rest of the time being completely healthy (though probably tired).

A few weeks ago my throat got sore, and a couple of days later I saw white spots on my tonsils. While I immediately thought “oh no, strep throat,” I decided to do a little research online and discovered there are 6 or 7 things that can cause white spots, with only one of them being strep. A visit to the doctor, a swab of my throat, and a few days later they confirmed it was strep throat (the doctor actually didn’t think it would be). They prescribe anti-biotics for strep, otherwise it can turn into a few nasty things, like scarlet fever (which doesn’t sound like fun at all – fuschia fever would be WAY better). So I took my 3 pills a day for 7 days, ending last Thursday (Kat also caught strep, but Brody didn’t). I felt awesome on Thursday, probably better than I have in awhile. But…

So, Friday comes, and I’m still feeling great, but around lunch I noticed I had some weird red spots on my arm. Then I noticed I had weird red spots on my stomach. Then I went online to search for what it could be. Red spots can be a side effect of taking Amoxicillin, the drug anti-biotics I was on for the strep throat. It results in little red marks about 1mm in diameter. I went to the walk-in-clinic and the doctor confirmed that’s what it was, and suggested I take something like Reactin, or Claritin, because it would reduce the inflammation. A few days later it hadn’t gotten any better, only worse, so I called up my friendly dermatologist and made an appointment to see him.

So, I’ve covered two of the three things mentioned in the title of the blog post, so it’s time to introduce the third. I have psoriasis, which you may, or may not, have heard before (if you haven’t heard of it, the P is a silent one – it’s only there to appear cool, which it isn’t). Psoriasis is a skin disorder which results in the skin growing faster than normal, often flaking off. There are different kinds of it, and I’ve had it since I was a kid (8… 9… 10?). It’s been a mild nuisance in the past, but it’s really not something I think about much at all. Most of my psoriasis is on my scalp (treated with lotion), with a couple of patches on my body, or my arms and legs over the years. Some people get it really, really bad, with large patches appearing all over their body. There’s no cure for it, though people are always working to find one. It’s also something you’re born with; you can’t catch psoriasis.

So today was my appointment with my dermatologist, and beforehand I did some more searches online, hoping to find out some more information. I had noticed that my few spots of psoriasis had flared up a bit after I had stopped taking my anti-biotics, and I hoped that it was just a coincidence, as the weather can also cause flare ups, and the weather in Edmonton has been changing recently (goodbye winter!!). Well, my dermatologist confirmed some of what I had read online today – strep throat can cause “guttate psoriasis.” This is different from “normal” psoriasis (often called “plaque psoriasis”), and can appear quite suddenly, without any warning at all. It appears like little droplets on the body, almost as though someone picked up a paintbrush with red paint and flicked it on you. The good news is that unlike plaque psoriasis, when it’s gone, it’s likely gone for good (though there’s always the chance of it flaring up again down the road), but the bad news is that it can take months to go away. I’ll also have to go for light treatments (like tanning, but only for a minute or so at a time) 3 times a week, plus use creams and other crap. I’m also repulsed by it, which is awesome considering it’s my body. Oh, and it’s itchy. I purposely didn’t embed a photo, but if you want to see a small area (my right arm) with the psoriasis, you can click here. Nasty, right?

I’m not posting this looking for sympathy, but to educate others on psoriasis. You’ve probably come across someone with a rash on their arm, or leg, or maybe someone who has a bunch of spots that look like chicken pox; that could be psoriasis. I’ve been lucky so far in my life that mine has never really been very noticeable, but my luck ran out, and now it’s all over my body. Hopefully not for long.

Also, if you’re in the Edmonton area and need a good dermatologist, Stratica Medical (downtown, on 117 st, just North of Jasper Ave) is awesome.

P.S. Wow, first blog post in over a year!

The “Hidden” Extended Warranty

It’s often said that buying an extended warranty is a waste of money, but I don’t necessarily agree with that. I’ve done quite well buying the extended warranty on some laptops, and some TVs – getting far more in fixes than I ever paid for the extended warranty. I don’t buy it on everything though, mostly because I know about the “hidden” extended warranty that I have.

What the heck is a “hidden” extended warranty? Well, it’s one that many people have, and don’t even know it; it’s offered through your credit card company. My credit card is a TD Travel Infinite Visa, and it comes with a number of handy features, including “extended warranty protection.” This extends the original warranty of the product for up to 1 year, and it’s really easy to make a claim if you have to.

My first claim was for an Archos 605 video player. It seemed like a great thing when I bought it, but the battery became so poor that it wouldn’t even turn on (their power technology was so poor that the battery had to be able to receive a charge for it to work, even if it was plugged in – junk!). The problem was that I had owned it for 18 months, and it had a 12 month warranty. I knew I bought it on my credit card (Visa Gold Card), but I had never explored the extended warranty before. I had to send them my receipt, Visa statement showing the purchase, and a form that I had filled out (and I had to send them the device). In return they sent me a check for the FULL amount I bought the thing for (which was pretty close to $400). What a deal! I got 18 months of use from the player, and then got all my money back. I had bought an external battery pack for the thing which became useless, but I didn’t really care at that point.

Now I’ve had to use it a second time after I started having problems with my iPhone 4S. I bought an adapter to use an HDMI cable with it for a trip, and when I plugged it into the phone the device didn’t show up. It worked fine on the iPad, but not the iPhone. Took a trip to the Apple Store and they confirmed that it was a problem with the phone connector, and it would be $200 to fix since my phone was out of warranty. I got some documentation from them that listed the problem, and how much it would cost, and called my credit card people when I got home. Scanned all the documents and sent them to them, and earlier today I got word that they’ve sent out a check for the $208.95 to cover Apple’s out-of-warranty “repair” (they just give you a refurbished phone). Awesome!

So, check your credit card and see if you have extended warranty protection. If you do, purchase things like electronics on the card, and know you’ll be covered for 2 years, without much hassle if you have to make a claim. I’ve been very impressed with the feature the two times I’ve had to use it.

Gun Control in the US, and the Untold Deaths

There’s been a lot of talk about gun control in the US since the recent mass-shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school, but I always think about the other deaths that could be prevented with stronger gun control laws. These are the ones we never hear about.

In Virginia you can walk into a gun store, fill out some paperwork and walk out with a gun. There’s no “cooling off period” like many other states have – the time between when you apply to buy a gun, and you’re able to pick it up. If you’re someone who hasn’t been convicted of a crime, you’ll likely be able to get a gun in Virginia.

Three years ago a man in his early 30s walked into a Virginia gun store, filled out some papers and walked out with a gun. He wasn’t going to use it for target practice, or use it to protect himself, or rob a bank. He was going to use it to kill someone.

What the person who sold the gun didn’t know was that the man he just sold the gun to was depressed. His marriage was over; his wife had left him, and he couldn’t imagine a life without her. It was his fault. He went home with that gun and used it to kill himself, putting an end to his depression.

How many other lives like this could have been saved by stricter gun control laws? No one knows, because these are the deaths most of us never hear about. I’m almost certain that if Virginia had a cooling off period this man, my friend, would still be alive today.

When people talk about gun control in the US, I think of my friend, a victim of depression and a gun that was far too easy to obtain.

New Series I’m Reading – The Dead Man

I remember going to the library every Wednesday as a kid, finding a new book (or comic – I loved Asterix and Tin Tin), and then devouring it before the next week when I’d go back and get a new book. I made less time for reading as I grew older, filling it with other things, like spending (wasting) time on the computer, or watching TV and movies. Well, that’s changing; I’m making more time for books, and I love it.

The Dead Man Volume 1

The Dead Man Volume 1

I’ve recently started reading a new series called “The Dead Man,” created by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin. I’ve gotten to know Lee a little bit over the years because of his work on a number of shows (SeaQuest DSV, Diagnosis Murder, and tons of others), and I’ve always been interested to read some of his work. When he announced this new series, “The Dead Man,” a few years ago, I thought it sounded like a cool premise; guy dies, but comes back to life and… well… stuff happens. What intrigued me the most was the story behind the series; they originally conceived it as a TV show and put the idea in their back pockets when the networks passed. Deciding it was too good to waste, they decided to turn it into a series of stories.

These are novellas, which I hadn’t read before. It’s longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel, and after reading the first three stories in The Dead Man series, I’d have to say it’s a lot like reading an episode of a TV show, which is pretty freakin’ awesome. I’d say the stories are about 80-90 pages in length, and they’re definitely page-turners. Kat has been making fun of me because I’ve been walking around holding my eReader in my hands reading these stories (it’s usually her doing that). They’ve also brought on a ton of other writers for the series, making it more like a TV show, since shows usually have lots of writers working on them. Yes, there’s a slightly different tone in some of the books, but it’s not a bad thing at all.

Here’s the description of the first book:

Matt Cahill is a widower leading a quiet, solitary life–cutting wood at a lumber mill in the Pacific Northwest, watching out for his trouble-prone friend Andy, and making his first, tentative attempt at a new romance with his co-worker Rachel. But a getaway to a ski resort goes tragically wrong and he is killed in an avalanche. That should be the end of his story, but for Matt, it’s only the beginning. And now finds himself taking the first step in a horrifying odyssey across a dark world that exists within our own, where he must confront a violent, supernatural entity that spreads evil among us like a plague.

It’s classified as “horror,” though this isn’t the type that will keep you up at night, worried every time you hear a strange sound. It’s more of the “oh-my-god-what’s-happening-I-have-to-keep-reading” kind, which I really enjoy.

The series has been out for a year and a half, and the 16th book comes out at the end of January. They’ve also been packaging 3 stories into one volume, which is how I’ve been buying them, and, here’s the best part, the first volume is current on sale for ONE DOLLAR! That’s right, Amazon.ca has a sale on 50 books for $1 each (I think I’ve already bought 4 or 5 of them). These are all digital books for the Kindle, though you can read them on a ton of devices; Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, Kindle (obviously), or if you have a different eReader you can look around for how to convert from MOBI to ePub to use it on that.

Bottom line, if this sounds interesting to you at all, download the first volume for $1 (aka, 1/4 the price of the coffee you probably bought today), and get reading, then post your thoughts here. The sale is only good until January 6, and after that it’ll return to the $5 price I paid (still an awesome deal!).

Here are the other books I bought for the 50 for $1 sale:
The Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning
The Complete Sherlock Holmes: Volumes 1-4 (The Heirloom Collection)
A Guest in the Jungle
Night Blind

What books are you reading right now, or what genre do you normally read?

Once Upon a Time – A New Bedtime Routine

Kat and I have a new bedtime routine, but before I explain, here’s a bit of background.

As new parents, the time between when the little one goes to bed, and we go to bed, is very special. It’s quiet. We don’t have to be keeping track of where he is, what he’s doing, and what he shouldn’t be doing. It’s our time to do whatever we want, and we love it. we used to climb into bed around 10:30, Kat on her iPhone, and me on my iPad. The lights would go off, our gadgets illuminating the room until we were finished whatever we were doing (Kat, playing a game, and me spending time on Twitter, or playing a game). Though we were laying beside each other, we weren’t really spending time together, which is important when you’ve had to share the entire day with a cute baby.

A few weeks ago that routine changed. Now, we climb into bed, Kat gets cosy, and I open a book and start reading to her. It’s fun, and we’re spending time together instead of each staring at our iDevices. The stories I’m reading are all short ones, and I’m changing them up all the time. The book we’ve spent the most time with is Smoke & Mirrors by Neil Gaiman. I’ve always wanted to read something he’s written (I even own American Gods), I’ve just never gotten around to it. Thankfully he’s written a number of short stories, and we’ve enjoyed most of the ones we’ve read. I have other stories I’ve downloaded onto my Sony Reader (which is awesome – I absolutely love it) from Project Gutenberg. All their books are in the public domain, and you can find tons of fairy tales, and short stories from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, H.G Wells, and many others. I’m looking forward to reading the Andrew Lang “Colored Fairy Books.” There are 12 of them in all, totalling 418 fairy tales. I’m really looking forward to reading them to Brody when he gets older.

Now I look forward to “Story Time” before bed, instead of playing on my iPad while Kat is on her iPhone. It’s a fun thing to do as a couple before bed; I’d recommend others try it out as well. Hopefully I’ll get some gift certificates from Amazon.com for Christmas so I can order books from Kindle.com and convert them to run on  my Sony Reader.

What will we read tonight? I’m not sure, but I’m looking forward to it!

Awesome Stop-Motion Videos

The other day a friend and I were chatting about music and I sent her some names of songs that were cool. It turns out all three of them had music videos that were animated with stop-motion techniques (take a picture, move something, take another picture, and so on). Now I’m sharing them with you.

I love all three songs for different reasons. “Blood” by The Middle East is a bit sad, but I think it builds to an exciting end. I discovered it when it played at the end of Crazy Stupid Love (great movie, BTW).

This second one, “In Your Arms” by Kina Grannis is a fun song, and an absolutely amazing video. They made it using eleventy-kagillion jelly beans! Okay, not THAT many, only 288,000. Watch the video below, then watch the making-of video.

This last one is from an Australian band, Hudson, called “Against the Grain.” I liked the song enough that I bought the CD from the band in Australia. The rest of the album is great as well. They also have a behind-the-scenes video. Oh, the CD is autographed as well! Take THAT, digital download!

I love stop-motion animation because it looks neat, and because it’s extremely time-consuming. Consider this: 1 second of video is 30 frames (or 24 for film). If it takes you 5 minutes to set up a scene, that 1 second of footage takes two and a half hours to shoot. The Kina Grannis video took 1,357 hours, which is over 56 FULL days. That’s insane.

The Customer Service at Threadless is Awesome

I love Threadless, a website that has thousands of cool custom T-shirts, so I was very disappointed when my last order wasn’t up to the quality of my previous orders. The t-shirts were made in India, and they were really poor quality; the fabric was thin, it stretched, the fit was poor, and it just felt cheap. This wasn’t what I was used to.

I sent them a polite email letting them know that I wasn’t happy with the order, and later that day I received a response. I could return the shirts to them for a full refund if I wanted (I chose to keep them, because I got them on sale), but they also let me know that they were working on their own t-shirt which they’d use going forward, and hey, we’ve put your name on a list to get a free one when they’re done so you can see the quality yourself. I was impressed.

The other day my free shirt arrived (it’s a black shirt with the Threadless logo), and they were right, it is their best shirt ever! The fabric feels nice, the fit is good, and it stretches and then pops back into shape immediately; this is a great shirt. So today I went back to the Threadless site and placed an order, the first order I’ve placed since those crappy shirts from India arrived.

Sometimes it’s good to have an issue with a company come up because it allows you to see how they deal with it. Threadless did everything right here; offered to refund my purchase, and sent me a free t-shirt to gain back my trust, and in turn I rewarded them with more of my business. Awesome!

Want to know what else is awesome? Right now they have a sale going on, and most shirts are $9.99! Go to Threadless and order some!

Here are the new shirts I ordered:

The End of the Road

Solitary Dream Pt2

Four Spirits

Electric Jellyfish

Rube

And these are the ones for Kat:

Autumn's Fall

You're a Hoot

Now Panic and Freak Out

How to get a REAL person when calling USPS!

Over the past year I’ve had to call the United States Postal Service (USPS) a few times, and every time it’s been absolutely maddening! The person that programmed their telephone menu options did an amazing job of making everything circular, trapping you in their options without any means of escape, or to speak to a real human being. I just got off the phone with Canada Post because they showed that they delivered a package and we didn’t get it, and now I have to call USPS again. The good news is that the Canada Post lady told me an easy way to get ahold of a real person at USPS, and I want to share it with others.

Dial USPS’s number (800-275-8777) and when the recorded voice of the woman comes up, press 0 nine times. Yup, one after another, without any pauses. The result is a REAL person at the other end of the line!

Write it down and save it in case you ever have to call them; it’ll save you a lot of time and stress.

Saying Goodbye to my Furry Little Friends

Last week I did something hard – I said goodbye to my two chinchillas.

Seven years ago Kat and I drove to Sylvan Lake, about 1.5 hours away, to pick up Brisco and Elby from a chinchilla breeder. I had wanted chinchillas since I was in Jr High and a magician brought one to our school as part of his act. They were cute, furry, and weren’t a common pet. While I was living in my condo I considered getting a dog, but realized they required more attention than I could give at the time, so I did some more research and decided on chinchillas. The cage was already ordered from the States and was set up and ready for them when we got them home. I had a really awkward spot in my condo; to this day I don’t know what it was intended to be used for, but it was the perfect size for the chinchilla cage. They were the centre of attention, right off the dining room table. We’d say “hi” to them when we got up, and “goodnight” when we went to bed. I played with them, took care of them, and loved the little furballs.

When we moved into our house, we didn’t know where to put the chinchillas. Their cage was huge, and there wasn’t a good place to put them on the main level. We were also getting a dog, a Shiba Inu, and they were bred to hunt small mammals. The dog and the chinchillas weren’t going to be friends at all. So they went to the basement, in my office, because they like it cool, and quiet, and the office was both. The problem was that the office wasn’t used very often, and the chinchillas, which used to be the centre of attention in the condo, were now in a room that hardly was used. The dog, and the cat which we got a short time later, took up more time, and less was available for the chinchillas. Then, the baby came, and the free time I had  almost gone. The chinchillas were never completely forgotten, but they weren’t getting the attention they should have, or deserved. It took me a long time to make the decision, but I knew they had to leave our house.

It was a tough decision to make because I was having to say goodbye to my little friends, but also because I was admitting I was a bad pet owner. When I picked them up from the breeders I was almost entering into an agreement with them, agreeing that I would take care of them, and love them, and I felt as though I was letting them down. It was upsetting to say goodbye to them, but I was also doing it knowing that this was the best thing for them. I found their new owners through Kijiji (like Craigslist, for those that don’t know what it is); two girls in their early 20s who didn’t have any other pets. The chinchillas would be the centre of attention again, and that made me happy. While they could have a decent life living with us, they’d have a good life at their new place. It was hard, but I had to say goodbye.

Their cages are gone, and a bookshelf sits in their place. The room has more stuff in it now, but it feels more empty than before. I miss my little friends, but I know it’s for the best.

The Chinchillas - Elby and Brisco

My furry friends, Elby and Brisco

%d bloggers like this: