Author Archives: Lanny

Dell Latitude E6410 – TrueOS Desktop

This is a short explanation of why I went from Windows 7 SP1 to various Linux distributions and ended up on TrueOS, which is based on FreeBSD.

The laptop has 8 GB of RAM and is configured well. It had become unstable on Windows 7. I would boot and it would not be able to get into Windows 7 and ask me if I wanted to revert to a previously saved version. I would permit that. Then, it would update (Windows Update) to the latest Windows 7 files. Then, it would be necessary to go back to an earlier version. Catch 22. I did a “clean” install of Windows 7 SP1 and then installed the Microsoft file with the Updates to 2016 and that went well, but when I tried to get the Updates starting in 2016, it failed.

Then, I tried various Linux distributions. Most of them Ubuntu or Ubuntu based. Also, CentOS and Fedora and OpenSUSE. Some of the Ubuntu based distributions I was not able to install. I did get CentOS and Fedora and possibly OpenSUSE installed. There were issues with the Mouse freezing constantly. At that time, my belief was that the Hardware was OK, but I was not positive that it was not the Hardware. Apparently, it is something in the latest Linux Kernels.

I read about FreeBSD, but that is more difficult to get running properly on the Desktop and on their web site I read about TrueOS. I downloaded the TrueOS Desktop .ISO file and burned that to a DVD.

So far, it seems to be very stable. I have sound, but at this time I do not have sound for YouTube and other videos, so I need to spend time on that. My guess is that I will need to change the configuration or add some files to get the Sound working the way I want it to.

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Kudos to Zenni Optical Quality Control. Hints about PD (Pupillary Distance). Transition Lenses. Progressive Lenses. 20% Discount Code for July 2018

On July 4, 2018, we placed our 3rd and largest order with There are a total of six (6) pairs of prescription eyeglasses in this order, for four (4) different people. Two of the pairs are for me. I ordered the same Metal Frame ($6.95 base price for the eyeglasses), for a pair I will use when I use my 14″ Laptop, and another pair with a prescription for Distance, which are being made into Sunglasses with an 80% Gray Tint.

When I went to the Optometrist at the end of June 2018, she put 61 for the PD for the Laptop glasses and 63 for the Sunglasses. Melissa measured my PD and she came up with 61. We made a mistake and we changed the PD of the Sunglasses from 63 to 61.

Kudos to Zenni Optical Quality Control for catching our error! They put our    order on “Hold” and sent me an email which included the following:

“The PD is the distance between the two pupils, center to center. It appears that the pair of #461821 with Sph +0.75 /-0.25 is single vision glasses for
reading/near correction, while the pair of #461821 with Sph -1.25/-2.25 is
single vision glasses for distance use. Normally, the reading PD is 3mm less
than the distance PD. Will you please check with your optometrist and email us your correct distance and reading PDĄŻs?”

I replied that the Optometrist had specified 61 for the Laptop and 63 for the Sunglasses and that we had changed that in error and that the Sunglasses should have a PD of 63. The slight delay because of our error will result in me having Sunglasses that are a little closer to perfect.

We are VERY pleased that Zenni Optical caught OUR error with the PD for the glasses I will use for Distance, on the street, the Sunglasses.

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We paid $7.45 for “Priority” Shipping to our Receiver/Forwarder in Miami FL USA.  They say “Priority” shipping should take about 10-14 days, to a U.S. Shipping Address, but our last order (May 2018) was delivered to them in    Miami, in 9 days, which I think is amazing, because the eyeglasses are made in China, shipped to California, clear U.S. Customs and are then Tendered to USPS in the San Francisco area and sent via USPS Priority Mail.

I am getting my first eyeglasses from Zenni Optical. These are the first         eyeglasses I have purchased since my LASIK surgeries during November 1997. My eyesight has deteriorated in the 20+ years since the LASIK surgeries. The Shipping charge is the same, for one pair or for multiple pairs of eyeglasses, to Shipping Addresses in the USA.

The Zenni Optical prices include the Frame and Basic Lenses. If one has a high prescription then the lenses cost more. Also, they charge $4.95 for Anti-Reflective Coating, which I believe is critical, and $4.95 to make them into Prescription Sunglasses (I am getting an 80% Gray Tint).  Bifocal lenses, Progressives, Transition Lenses, etc., cost more, but probably FAR less than from an Optometrist or Optical store.  Our experience is that the Zenni Optical Quality Control is very high, so if one enters their Prescription and PD. correctly, I think that almost guarantees the lenses will be perfect or close to perfect.

About PD.  We have learned about this, since placing our first order with Zenni Optical during October 2016. At that time, we ordered a pair of eyeglasses for Melissa and a pair for Pilar  That was to “get our feet wet” and see how it went. It went extremely well.     it turned out that on the old Prescription Pilar had, the PD was WAY off, which was why she had such a hard time with those eyeglasses.  Melissa printed out a PD Measuring thing, from the Zenni Optical web site, and they both checked each others PD, multiple times.  With the corrected PD on that old Prescription, Pilar was able to use the eyeglasses she got from Zenni Optical, without problems. They both got new prescriptions from an Optometrist located near the hotel we stayed in, in Bogota,    during the first week of May 2018, and I went to the Optometrist here, who had examined Melissa eyes during October 2016, during the last week of June. 

My belief is that the PD being off a few mm is not critical, but that being a long way off, as was the case with a Prescription Pilar had a few years ago, will make the glasses very hard to use.

As I told Melissa, this is our 3rd order with Zenni Optical and we are learning.

I read that Zenni Optical ships approximately 15000 pairs of eyeglasses each day and their average customer has 5 pairs of their eyeglasses. 

I believe the PD could be off by 3 or 4 MM and few people would notice a difference. However, there are some people with extremely tricky prescriptions (probably a tiny or small percentage of the people who wear eyeglasses) where even a tiny error in the PD could make a difference.  I think an error of 8 or 10 in a PD could make big difference in whether or not someone would be happy with their eyeglasses.

I suspect that few people know about the fact that there are different PDs for “Near” glasses (like Reading glasses, or the ones I ordered for using with this Laptop), or the PD for “Distance” glasses like the ones I ordered to be made into Prescription Sunglasses. When-Melissa measured my PD she came up with the same number the Optometrist came up with for the “Near” glasses I will use with this Laptop.

Had I only ordered one pair of eyeglasses and not had the PD on the Prescription (apparently that is quite common in the USA?) we would have gone with the PD number Melissa came up with, which was apparently 3 less than it should be for glasses used for Distance. Again, I doubt being off by 3 would be noticeable to most people who wear eyeglasses. 

Transition lenses have a finite life.  They will become unusable in approximately 36 months.  They wear out, like tires on a car. Also, they are not a substitute for prescription sunglasses, but are very good, if one is going back and forth, from a place with much Sunlight to inside, every few minutes. Not to be used in a car, because the Windshield of a car blocks UV and that makes it impossible for the Transition Lenses to do that. Transition Lenses worn inside a car will not darken for the Sunshine, as they would if one is outside of the car.  They would probably work quite well where we live, in a Tropical Valley, with very little fluctuation in temperature from Low to High during the day. They do not work well where it is very hot or very cold.

For me there are several “deal breakers” against Transition Lenses. The Finite life would be one of them. Many people need a new prescription before 36 months, and there are other issues that cause me not to want to buy them, but many people love them. They are more convenient than having to change between regular eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses..

I always try to remember to look on RetailMeNot for Discount/Promo codes before placing an order online and I found a 20% “Discount” or “Promo” code for Zenni Optical there, good until the end of July 2018, , at the end of June or beginning of July. Early in the morning of July 4, 2018, hours before we placed our order with Zenni Optical, I looked on RetailMeNot and that 20% discount code was not shown, but it did work for us and we saved $38.24 USD on this Zenni Optical order, by using the Discount Code gasave20     If you order during July 2018, I hope this code will work for you too. The code is gasave20

Apparently some people who try Progressive Lenses get Dizzy or Nauseous when they wear them. Three of the six pairs in our latest order have Progressive Lenses and that’s approximately 50% of what we paid for the six pairs of eyeglasses. For each of the three pairs, the cost of the Progressive Lenses was $27.95.

Many Frames cannot be used with Bifocal or Progressive Lenses.  I suspect that is because of the shape and/or sizes of the lenses that fit into those Frames.

Google Play services on Samsung Android phone suddenly caused high battery consumption

Last night I thought I needed to buy a new battery, for my 3 year old, low-end, Samsung Galaxy phone. This morning, I looked in Settings > Battery and saw that the Google Play services category was using the same percentage of battery, when the phone was idling, as the Screen was.  Approximately 25% for each category, at that time.

I had not changed any settings for the Google accounts on my phone, or, for Google Play services. There was a sudden, very large, increase in battery consumption by Google Play services.

I deselected a number of items in Settings > Accounts > Google > (choose each Google account if there is more than one) in the “Sync settings”

At this time, my phone is showing 32% for Screen consumption and 13% for Google Play services, under the “Battery” category in the “Settings” for the phone.

Because I had not changed any settings in my phone before the sudden increased drain of the battery, I suspect that Google and/or Samsung changed something during the past few days.

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Used Textbook in outstanding condition from discover-books on eBay

Melissa needed the Physics textbook for the TTUISD Physics course. They have a new Physics course in development, but it’s not ready yet. The book we ordered is for the old course and is dated 2002.  Widely available Used, at very low cost, or at very high cost.

After the 2 bad experiences recently with Thrift Books on eBay, where in 13 days, they cancelled both orders I placed with them for textbooks, I ordered the Physics textbook for Melissa from discover-books on eBay. They are located in Toledo, Ohio.   On my PayPal account, the charge was shown as Owls Books.

The Physics textbook was listed in “Used-Good” condition.  When the carton from our Receiver/Forwarder in Miami FL was delivered to our house, yesterday, in the late afternoon, and I looked at the book, I thought it might be “Brand New”.  Melissa believes it is in “Like New” condition and possibly might be “Brand New”.

I paid USD $5.93, including shipping, to our Receiver/Forwarder in Miami, Florida.

discover-books shipped via DHL eCommerce and the service to Miami FL was excellent, including the transfer to USPS in Orlando and the delivery to our Receiver/Forwarder from their local post office.

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ALWAYS search for textbooks with the ISBN number. NEVER search for textbooks with anything but the ISBN number. VERIFY the ISBN number, before you click to buy.


If an Unused Access Code is necessary, communicate with the Seller, via Messaging, before purchasing and ask them to confirm that the access code has not been used.  Apparently, sometimes the Access Code is sold separately. If possible check with the Instructor, to see if they plan to use the Access Code during the course. We bought a Textbook for Melissa that is normally used in college courses, Used, and to my surprise, it came with an Unused Access Code. Occasionally, you will see Used Textbooks listed, with an Unused Access Code. Confirm that with the Seller, via Messaging, before you click to buy if you need the Access Code.

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We have never rented, because we live in South America. That works for many people in the USA, but there was a recent thread in a web forum I participate in, where they returned the textbook, and then the company said it was in bad condition, and charged their credit card for a new book. There is no way one can dispute that.


Sometimes, a “New” book will cost less, or just slightly more, than a “Used” book. I am looking at a book for Melissa that is like that now. Less than one dollar more for a “New” book.  Some “New” books on Amazon, etc., may have a school stamp and are heavily discounted. Some “New” books do not have an Unused Access Code.


I never pay for Premium shipping. I always use the $3.99 Standard Shipping within the USA.  Sometimes, people have delays, with Premium Shipping, because it is an unusual transaction for the Seller. Sounds illogical, but I have seen that in more than one Feedback on Amazon.


Read the most recent Feedbacks and especially the ones for the past 30 days.


We have purchased several textbooks that were sold for $0.01 (one cent plus shipping), that were in excellent condition. Occasionally, Amazon Sellers will get into what I call a “price war” and their computerized pricing algorythm will go as low as one cent, if the book is not sold before the listing price gets down to one cent.  The price of a book that has been in a price war, from a large seller, has NOTHING to do with the condition of the book. Apparently a high volume Seller on Amazon can make 30 or 40 cents profit, from the $3.99 shipping charge.


At least one book listed on Amazon as “Used-Very Good”, when Melissa inspected it, she said it was a “New” book. It had a school stamp (from a school district North of San Francisco), but she said it “smells like a New book”.

I NEVER CONSIDER buying books on Amazon that are listed in “Acceptable” condition for Melissa.I try to buy books listed as “Used-Very Good” for her, but will drop down to “Used -Good” if there is a big price differential.

When I have the book on Amazon, I will check the different prices, New, Used-Like New, Used-Very Good  and then Used-Good. Sometimes I can get her a book, listed in better condition, for the  same or less money.

Quite a few of the used textbooks we have purchased have been in better condition than the Seller showed in their Amazon listing.


I have purchased several books on eBay and saved money over what the same book in the same condition was selling for on Amazon at that time.


For Amazon items, you can use the free service to watch for price drops.


Two of the textbooks we need to buy for Melissa now, I checked the prices on Alibris and AbeBooks a day or two ago.   I think I will buy one of them on Alibris and save $5 over buying it from the same Seller, on Amazon, by using a Discount Code.


Melissa is just beginning her first course (Algeba 2) that uses an eBook Textbook.  TTUISD changed to new High School Math courses, early last September, that use eBooks.  She had enrolled in Geometry, during August 2016, and that course used a traditional textbook.

The eBook license was USD $15.75 and there is no Sales Tax or Shipping or delay for shipping involved. The license is for one year. They also have a paper version of that textbook available. I think it was approximately USD $105, plus shipping, and probably we would also have needed to pay FL Sales Tax.That is from MBS Direct in MO, the company that acts as the TTUISD “Bookstore”. For us, Overseas residents,  the eBook is a big winner, not just because of the enormous price differential, but because Melissa got access to it in a couple of days. No Shipping charge. No FL Sales Tax (our Forwarder is in FL and we have everything sent there and then Forwarded to our house).

I do not consider FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) listings because in some Feedbacks for those, I have seen where Amazon deleted the Negative Feedback from the Purchaser, because they say it was the fault of Amazon.  Conclusion: Positive Feedback Ratings for FBA Sellers may be falsely high.


I always leave Feedback for Sellers on Amazon and eBay after receiving and inspecting an item. That is extremely important for the Sellers, especially for low-volume Sellers.

Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Internet service

A provider that had not previously offered Internet or TV or landline phone service where we live installed the infrastructure for FTTH in our huge rural subdivision.   We signed the contract for 20 Mbps service yesterday. Hopefully by the end of April they will install it in our house.

A neighbor down the street, is an Electronic Engineer for that Cell Provider. He is going to “Beta test” it, for approximately 2 weeks.  They were installing 100 Mbps service to his house, yesterday, in the afternoon. After he declares it to be solid, they will begin installing it in the houses that have signed up.

This technology uses a little box called an “HGU”.  The HGU is similar to the Modem/Router we have from the phone company for our ADSL service now.

I believe that after they install this service, that I can reconfigure our 2 WAPs (Wireless Access Points), changing from the old ADSL provider, to the new company, and if I can do that, we will have good WiFi coverage in the other areas of the house and also Ethernet service there. Our WAPs will be connected to the HGU via the existing CAT5 Ethernet cables.

The new provider cannot “Port” our old landline phone number from the old phone company, so that will be a minor PITA.

The TV service will be via Satellite, like when we had TV service from Directv Colombia. We are getting an extra “Decoder” (Set Top Box?), which at todays exchange rate will cost approximately USD $2.60 per month. That will give us TV service to 3 TV sets.

The first 2 months of service are free and the installation is free and they will give us a Tablet or Smartphone free.

We will be among the first people in this part of Colombia to have this Fiber to the Home (FTTH) technology. I understand there is another city in Colombia where some of the people have been using this service for approximately one year.

Our current ADSL service was reduced from 5 Mbps to 2 Mbps, because the phone company discovered that each TV requires approximately 8 Mbps service. They do not sell that “TV over IP” service any more…

ONETRAVEL.COM Review. Why we bought glasses from Information that may be helpful to know, before placing your order with

The “bottom line” for our family, after receiving the two (2) pairs of glasses we ordered for Pilar and Melissa, on October 21, 2016, is that Pilar said that on a scale of 5, where 5 is perfect, this purchase was a 10. Pilar and Melissa are very happy with the glasses they received from

I now believe that few Optical Laboratories in the world have the extremely high QC (Quality Control) standards that Zenni Optical has.

When you are on the web site, placing your order,  after you specify the Frame you want, and you enter the information about your Prescription, you will see several options for the lenses. I suggest that you select, as we did, the lenses the ZenniOptical system suggests to you, for that combination of Frame and Prescription. We did that and the lenses are excellent.

We placed our order on the web site the afternoon of Friday, October 7, 2016 and paid $2.50 additional, for Priority Shipping, to our Receiver/Forwarder in Miami, Florida, USA. The package from Zenni was Out for Delivery in Miami, 8 days later. The glasses were sent from Miami, to our house in Colombia, in a carton with 2 books for Melissa and was delivered to our house 6 days later. On their web site, Zenni Optical shows 10 – 14 days, for Priority shipments to addresses in the USA. Our package was delivered in Miami in 8 days.

This is the first time we have ordered eyeglasses online and from but it will not be the last time we order from  We had purchased Single Vision glasses for Melissa, 2 years ago, in a local optical store. They have a Plastic frame and they are perfect. Melissa needed a stronger prescription. Approximately 6 months after Melissa’s glasses were purchased, Pilar went to an Optometrist, in that same optical store, for a prescription and then she ordered glasses from the same optical store. They had 2 qualities of Plastic frames. Pilar told the woman she wanted the higher quality frames, which cost approximately USD $10 or $15 more, than the less expensive frame. Pilar’s prescription is for Bifocals.  Pilar has had horrible problems with the Plastic frame, and the lenses scratched, although she tried to be gentle with them, when cleaning them. I suspect the woman in the optical store sold Pilar the lower quality, lower cost frames, although Pilar told her she wanted the higher quality frames. Two purchases, in the same optical store, but with very different results. I wonder if Pilar’s lenses were made in the same optical laboratory where Melissa’s lenses were made.

I now believe that the QC (Quality Control) in the Optical Laboratories that actually make the prescription lenses, and install the lenses into the frames, is frequently very bad.  Also, in the Prescription that Pilar received, the “P.D.” (Pupillary Distance) the Optometrist put on the prescription was apparently far from correct. Before ordering from Zenni, we printed out the measuring tool from the web site and that measurement for “P.D.” is what was submitted to Zenni Optical for Pilar. The measurement with the Zenni tool was correct.

Melissa selected a Rimless Frame ($27.95 glasses) and obviously those are the most fragile style of eyeglasses one can order, so the durability remains to be seen.  They are very nice. Zenni Optical even included a Tool Kit, in case one needs to make adjustments or change the lenses, which they show how to do on their web site. Stainless Steel Spring Hinge Frame with Polarized Magnetic Snap-on Sunlens 348112    The URL is

Melissa has Myopia and Astigmatism, which is Hereditary on my Father’s side of the family. Her Myopia increased and she needed a stronger prescription. The Zenni web site recommended a $9.00 upgrade, which we selected, for “Lens: 1.59 Polycarbonate Single Vision”.Those are the most Impact Resistant lenses Zenni Optical sells and they recommend them for Rimless glasses (which is what Melissa selected) and for glasses for children.  The Optometrist had specified Anti-Reflective coating, and we specified that for Melissa’s glasses and for Pilar’s glasses.  That upgrade was $4.95 for each pair of glasses.  “AR Anti-Reflection Standard anti-reflective Coating”.  The next time we order from I am also going to specify a 10% Amber or Yellow Tint, to reduce glare when  looking at computer displays, etc. That is a $4.95 option on each pair of glasses.

When we began looking at the web site, I wasn’t sure whether Pilar and Melissa would order Metal frames or Plastic frames. Metal frames are the most durable frames. To get a combination of Durability and not risk the possibility of allergy problems, I suggested that if they chose metal frames, they look at the Stainless Steel frames, which is what they selected. If they had chosen Plastic frames, Zenni Optical Customer Service responded to my email question, about which Plastic Frames are the most durable and told me that their frames made from TR90 Plastic are the most durable.


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Pilar selected a Half-Rim Frame ($19,00) glasses. Half Rim Stainless Steel with Polarized Magnetic Snap-on Sunlens. 581121
The URL is

Before our next order from, we will get a new prescription for Pilar (we used an old prescription for her glasses) and we will get the other number for Melissa, the Optometrist put the CYL numbers down, but she put zero for the Axis and the web site requires both numbers for Astigmatism correction), so they can add correction for Astigmatism. Also, some Zenni Optical frames come in 2 or 3 sizes and it is important to try to get the proper Frame size.

Standard Shipping to addresses in the USA is $4.95. We upgraded to Priority Shipping, which was $2.50 additional.  The shipping charge is for the entire order, if there is more than one pair of glasses.

After applying a discount code, the total cost of our order was USD $82.02.

Pilar uses Bifocal lenses and that was a $17.00 upgrade.  “1.50 Bifocal (with a line)”. In the tracking of the order, Pilar’s glasses had 4 QC (Quality Control) checks and Melissa’s had 2 QC checks. I assume that is because Pilar’s lenses are Bifocals and more complicated. We placed our order on a Friday afternoon and Melissa’s glasses were finished on Saturday. I believe they work 1/2 day on Saturdays. Pilar’s glasses were finished on Monday and 5 days later, on Saturday, the USPS Tracking web site showed them “Out for Delivery” in Miami, FL, USA.

Zenni includes Anti Scratch protection, free, on all of their glasses. And UV protection.

I read a lot of reviews on the Zenni web site and watched some YouTube video reviews.  The next time Pilar and Melissa order glasses, I am going to order a $6.95 pair of glasses and  have them made with non-prescription lenses and tinted Grey, 80% so I can use them for sunglasses.  Among the 86 reviews about those $6.95 glasses, for the half-rim metal frame I chose, about 5 or 6 people compared them to glasses they had paid $300 to $500 for, in the USA.  Also, there seem to be fewer people who had problems with the lenses Zenni made for them, than what they had received from Optical places in the USA.   For the $27.95 Glasses Melissa chose, one person wrote s/he is an Optometrist and had been wearing the rimless glasses from Zenni for 2 years. Now, ordering with a new prescription and reordering from Zenni. Anyone who has had to have glasses remade, because the lenses are incorrect, I suspect will do better, the first time, with Zenni. This is the Frame I will get for my non-prescription sunglasses (I had LASIK surgeries in 1997 and no longer wear prescription lenses). Lightweight Metal Rectangular Eyeglasses 461821  This is the URL:

The web site shows how to do many adjustments  and if one breaks the frame and they still have that model available, one can buy the frame without the lenses for 1/2 price and they show how to replace the lenses in different types/styles of frames.   I think they will send replacement nose pieces, screws, etc., if they are needed.

One woman who did a YouTube video review said that she ordered 4 pairs of glasses and after she received them, she realized that the prescription she had submitted to Zenni was her old prescription.  I forget whether or not Zenni made the new lenses for free or charged her.    So, if one has a problem and is in the USA, they can send them back to Zenni for a refund or credit  (partial or full) or have them remade or whatever works best.

I remember the last pair of glasses I had made when I lived in Texas. After I got them, I had problems. I called the office of my Ophthalmologist and was told, “that’s common, try them for a week or so and if you still have problems, call us for an appointment”.  When I went to their office for an appointment, they checked the new glasses and they found that the Optical Centers of the Lenses were not in the Center of the lenses.  When I went back to the Optical store (Texas State Optical) the woman told me, “there are Quality Control checks” and I told her, “well, in this case, the Quality Control was worthless”.  They remade the lenses for me and then they were fine.  I now believe that is an extremely common experience,, especially with high Myopia and Astigmatism, Also, occasionally, Optometrists do not give the patient the correct prescription. An example of that is the incorrect P.D. in the prescription Pilar was given.

Some of the Reviews I read on the web site said the people had more problems with difficult prescriptions they purchased in far more expensive brick and mortar optical places  than they did with the glasses they bought from Zenni Optical. Some mentioned the glasses they bought from cost 90% less than the glasses they had purchased in a brick and mortar Optical store. Quality Control is one key issue. The other is having the correct prescription. 

On the surface, one might assume (incorrectly) that going into an expensive Brick and Mortar Optical store would result in fewer problems, so it seems incongruous that I now believe the truth is that there are probably a higher percentage of Zenni Optical customers who receive trouble-free prescription glasses, than do people who purchase them in expensive brick and mortar stores, as I did before I had LASIK surgeries.  The difference is apparently faulty QC (Quality Control) in many of the laboratories that make prescription glasses for Brick and Mortar Optical stores.

I watched a YouTube video made by a woman whose husband had photochromic lenses. They were outside shoveling snow in 9 F. weather and it was sunny.  After they went back inside their house, his lenses never turned  completely clear. Her lenses did turn completely clear.  She contacted Zenni Customer Service and explained the problem with his lenses.  They gave her an RA (Return Authorization) number and they had her give them the information for his prescription, at that time, so they could begin making replacement glasses for  him, before they got the glasses with the problem lenses back.  She was going to send his glasses back to Zenni later that day or the next day.  

One thing I noticed, when I was waiting with Melissa for her appointment with the Optometrist in the Optical Office on October 6th:   A boy was being helped by the clerk to select a frame for his new glasses.  I think she showed him approximately 6 frames to try on.  I suspect that when one goes into a Brick and Mortar store, to look at frames, the clerks and the patients only have the time and patience for 6 to 12 frames.  After that, there would probably be too much confusion and a lack of time.  On the web site one can look, in a leisurely way, at a huge variety of frames and select the one they like the best. 

Frame Size is a variable I didn’t know about when we placed our order. Melissa had a Plastic Frame that has been trouble free and I suspect that if she had ordered a Plastic Frame from (she didn’t, she ordered a Rimless Stainless Steel Metal Frame from Zenni) that the numbers printed on the Temple would have been helpful in selecting another Plastic frame.  Pilar’s glasses were bad (purchased from the same Optical store 6 months later) and they replaced the Temples, about 6 months ago, or more, so probably the Frame Size numbers for her frame shown on the Temples wouldn’t have been useful. I think from reading Reviews on the Zenni web site it is mostly the width of the frame that matters.  Some frames are available in 2 or 3 sizes.

A childhood friend in the USA wrote me that he has 2 pairs of very expensive metal frames. One frame he’s had for about 20 years and the other frame for about 10 years. Every year or 2, he gets a new Prescription and then he goes to Costco, to have the old lenses replaced with new lenses and new nose pads put in.   From what he wrote, frequently, the new lenses are wrong and must be remade.  I suspect there are a lot of lenses being remade…

Zenni ships to more than 80 countries.

Textbook purchase on Alibris. Paypal payment and Discount Code

Last night, I needed to purchase the 10th grade English textbook for Melissa. I wanted to pay with Paypal and Amazon does not accept Paypal. A childhood friend has purchased some books on AbeBooks, but they do not accept PayPal. Then, I remembered Alibris. Alibris accepted my Paypal payment. Also, before placing my order, I looked on RetailMeNot and I found a coupon code, for a 15% discount on the price of the textbook. The price of the used textbook was $30.00 and the discount was $4.50.

Something I have occasionally noticed, when looking at the price of the same textbook on Amazon and on AbeBooks, is that occasionally the same book from the same seller has a different price, sometimes lower, sometimes higher, on AbeBooks. For this textbook, the price, for one seller, on AbeBooks was approximately $20.00 higher than on Amazon. It is important to check prices on more than one marketplace!

April 2016 trip to Orlando, to celebrate Melissa’s 15th birthday. Summer Bay Orlando. Universal Orlando. Walt Disney World.

There were some very traumatic, unanticipated problems, on our trip from Cali, Colombia to Orlando FL, USA,  but all of those problems were overcome. We had a wonderful trip and it was wonderful to have this long delayed trip happen and to see the smiles on Melissa’s face.

The trip almost ended in the Cali, Colombia airport (CLO) at 240 A.M. on Sunday, April 24th, before it began. When it was our turn at the Ticket Counter, to our astonishment, we learned that Melissa could not leave Colombia with us, unless we had a copy of her Colombian Birth Certificate, showing that Pilar and I are her parents. Possibly/Probably, we should have thought about that happening and had a 3 cent photocopy with us. Colombia is very strict about minor children doing international travel, and we were well aware of that, but since both of her parents were with her, we did not anticipate having a problem. The problem was that neither her U.S. Passport or her Colombian Passport have our names in them. A WONDERFUL Avianca ticket agent helped us, when it was our turn to check in (we had 2 bags to check and that was how this began) and I will write a letter to the President of Avianca, praising her. Also, my Stepson and his wife are living with us and Pilar remembered that she had put a copy of the Colombian Birth Certificate in a Photo Album which is in the living room. They took a photo of that and emailed it to us. The lady from Avianca wasn’t able to Print a copy, due to technical  issues, but she gave us the 2nd Boarding Pass, for the flight from Bogota (BOG) to Orlando (MCO) and we paid about USD $3.33 in a Kiosk in the Bogota airport, for Internet access, and printed two copies of the Colombian Birth Certificate. We thank God for the help that Avianca employee gave us and for the fact that my Stepson (Camilo Eduardo) and his wife (Mayerli) came home and answered their cell phones at 3 .A.M., after dropping us off at the airport.

Photo of Melissa at 15 1/2 years old. April 2016

Melissa. 15 1/2 years old. April 2016

 I had a problem, because my Resident Visa was issued in 1994 and is in an old expired U.S. Passport and I hadn’t brought that along. I should have thought about that and brought it along. I was delayed in Immigration, leaving Bogota and also the night after we arrived in Bogota from Orlando. I should have anticipated that and brought the expired Passport, with my Colombian Visa in it. I had been issued a new “Cedula” (National Identity card) in February, so they had updated information in their system. 

 Leaving Bogota, in Immigration, Pilar and Melissa were stuck, because I was not with them, so after I was cleared, they called me to the booth they were at and after a minute or two, we were free to leave Colombia with Melissa.

Our flight from Bogota up to Orlando was about 3 hours 34 minutes and the Avianca computer had assigned us some of the best seats in the Coach cabin. There was a tailwind approximately ¾ of the trip, and then a strong headwind (100+ MPH) as we got closer to Florida.

Totally unexpected, never anticipated, when we went through U.S. Immigration, the man did not permit Pilar to enter the USA with us. She frequently has problems with Fingerprints (Dermatitis or something) and this was the first time she had used her new Colombian Passport and her new U.S. Visa. We were stuck in the Baggage Claim, wondering where she was and what was happening with her She was there for approximately 1 ½ or 2 hours, until it was her turn to be helped. After they cleared the issue in their system, Pilar was asked how long she was going to be in the USA. She told the person, “I’m going back to my country in one week”. She was admitted to the USA for 6 months. We were waived through U.S. Customs, without any inspection.

When we got to the main terminal building in Orlando, where the Dollar Rent a Car office is located, I let them “upsell” us to the Uninsured Motorist Insurance, which cost approximately USD $54 extra for the week, including the taxes. I had requested a Toyota Corolla or similar. We got similar. Had I known that, I would have requested a “Mid Size” car and we would have saved a few dollars. We picked a Silver Chevrolet Sonic (I wanted a light color car, because of the heat). It had a large trunk and we had no problems with the car or Dollar Rent a Car. When we returned the car, the man told us he would give us a ride to the terminal building in the car, so we didn’t need to unload the car and walk to the terminal building with our luggage, which was nice. We were afraid to leave the Rental Papers in the car and Pilar had them in her purse. We went on the River Rapids ride in Animal Kingdom, 3 times, and her purse and the papers were drenched. Fortunately, Dollar Rent a Car did not need the papers, when we returned the car on May 1st.

We rented a 2 Bedroom Timeshare in “The Villas at Summer Bay Orlando”. Those are the smaller 2 Bedroom units in Summer Bay Orlando, that can hold up to 6 people, if 2 of them sleep on the Sofa Bed. I would rate our Unit and our Experience as 9/10. There were several issues, but we would return there in a heartbeat, if we had the money to do so. The Unit we were in was very clean and well equipped. We went to the nearby Publix supermarket, the first night we were there and bought things and Pilar cooked a light Breakfast, 6 of the 7 mornings we were there. That saved us money, but more importantly saved us time, not needing to go to the nearby Denny’s restaurant. The check in was very quick and the people who helped us were very nice and courteous. The first issue was after the Check In, they had a horribly Obnoxious woman show us how to get to our Unit, on a map of Summer Bay Orlando. She put pressure on us to attend a Presentation and we were under no obligation to do that, I told her that if I wanted to buy a Timeshare I would buy one on the Resale market, if someone wouldn’t give their Timeshare to us. She promised me it would only be 45 minutes and that she would put USD$100 into my hand after that. I told her, several times, that we had been up since Saturday morning (this was about 5 P.M. on Sunday) and that Pilar was extremely hungry. We never heard from her again. We ate in the Snack Bar, behind the area where the Check In was, after escaping from her. Two of us had Pizza, which was very good to excellent and 2 had Salads, which didn’t look that great. Melissa said the Wifi was excellent and that was the case, until Wednesday morning. We could connect to their WiFi, but had no Internet access. I think their ISP changed the DNS Servers or something. I called the office and the lady said they could put me in touch with their ISP, but we were getting ready to leave and I didn’t have time for that. I called again, about 30 minutes later, and she said another guest had called, and they were in another building. The only other issue was someones error: Either a previous guest or an employee had closed the “In Room Safe”, rather than leaving it open, so we couldn’t use that. I didn’t call them about that, so they had no opportunity to resolve that. The unit was very clean and well equipped. We were in the 108 building, which is near the entrance to Summer Bay Orlando and behind the Crown Club Inn, which I think is their hotel.


We were unable to buy a Certificate from Sky because their Form for processing Credit Card payments only had Drop Down lists for States/Provinces, etc. for 4 countries, in their list of countries. Colombia was not one of the 4 countries. We ended up buying on eBay, which cost us $80 extra. The PayPal page said the Seller was We paid $399.99 for the week, which included everything (taxes, WiFi, parking, service charges, etc.). We did not have time to use any of the wonderful facilities at Summer Bay Orlando, other than eating in the Snack Bar after we checked in. The grounds are beautiful.

Summer Bay Orlando has free shuttle buses going to both Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World. The first day we were there (Monday, April 25th) we took the bus to Universal Orlando. The schedule said they would pick up at 705 A.M. At 705 A.M. I saw the bus enter Summer Bay.Orlando The driver made one stop at another property, on the way to Universal Orlando, and I believe one man ended up standing. On the return, they stopped at 2 other properties and many people were standing. We did not take the free shuttle buses to WDW, because of the schedules and paid $20 each day to park the car.

Before and after photos in Magic Kingdom. Pilar pregnant with Melissa and Melissa with us, at age 15 1/2 in the same location in Magic Kingdom

The photo on the bottom was taken during May 2000, when Pilar was pregnant with Melissa. The photo on the top was taken during April 2016. Melissa is 15 1/2 years old. Magic Kingdom

 We bought one day Park to Park tickets at Universal Orlando. The last night we were in Florida, Pilar said that in retrospect, knowing what we know now, we should have purchased 2 day Park to Park tickets for Universal Orlando and spent Monday and Tuesday there, instead of only Monday. The first thing on the list Melissa had was the “Dragon Challenge”. I had no idea it was a Roller Coaster and it has probably been 10 or more years since I had a Stress EKG. After the ride, Pilar told us she had closed her eyes, thought she was going to die (she has Vertigo, which is one reason she is not an Astronaut) and that she would never ride a Roller Coaster again. She did ride one with us in Magic Kingdom, the next day.

Photo of Melissa and Lanny aboard Expedition Everest Roller Coaster in Animal Kingdom

Melissa and Lanny riding Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom

Melissa is into Harry Potter and she bought a lot of things (a Cape, a Magic Wand, etc. that she had wanted for a long time). The ticket lady tried to Upsell us to something expensive. I think about $95 for each person for the day. The VIP experience or something. I told Pilar it was for people with a lot more money than we had. She was interested in knowing more. I told her that we didn’t need it. She understood that. Note: When the parks are really full (we were there in “Regular” season, not “Peak season”) if one can afford it, I believe that would be money well spent. I think you can go to the head of the lines, etc.

 CAUTION: DO NOT have only one form of payment or getting cash available. A few days before the trip, Pilar and Melissa called the bank that issued the cards, to tell them we would be in Florida. They were told Melissa’s Debit Card could be used in Florida. She tried, several times, to make purchases with her Debit Card, but there was no success, so we paid. And, for curiosity, she tried to get Cash with it, after that, but as expected, that did not work either. It is a “Maestro” card, which I believe is a trademark of MasterCard. I don’t know what someone would do, if they only had one way to pay for things, or get cash from their bank account, and that one method did not work…

We were planning to buy 4 Day tickets for WDW. The lady who helped us was from Colombia. We let her Upsell us to a Park Hopper ticket. That was great. One day, we were in 2 parks. On Friday, April 29th, we were in all 4 parks. Animal Kingdom, unexpectedly, was our favorite of the 4 WDW parks. Epcot, which Pilar and I had been in, 16 years ago, was a big disappointment and we were hot We left Epcot Friday afternoon and went to the 3 other parks, looking for other things to do, and for something Melissa hadn’t purchased, the first time she saw it. In retrospect, we should have purchased a 3 day Park Hopper ticket for WDW.

Saturday, April 30th, we went to Kennedy Space Center. Pilar and I had toured KSC, with a childhood friend and his (late) wife 16 years ago and then another friend came to Orlando and we had the spectacular experience of seeing the launch of the Space Shuttle “Atlantis”, STS-101, on May 19, 2000, when Pilar was pregnant with Melissa. “Atlantis” is now retired and on display at KSC. For Pilar and me, to see “Atlantis”, up close, was an emotional experience. I can’t explain that, but we have a “connection” with “Atlantis”.

 We did not go to the USA to eat (I doubt that many visitors to the USA consider the food to be an attraction) and we had a low budget for food. The 2 best meals we had were not in the parks. One was Saturday afternoon, in the “Orbit Cafe” restaurant at Kennedy Space Center. Lots of very well cooked food, at low prices. The other was in the Food Court of the Outlet mall on Vineland, where the Croc store is located. Chinese food. We bought 5 pairs of shoes in the Croc store and probably should have purchased several more pairs. Excellent service.

We took the bus tour of Kennedy Space Center and toured the Visitor Complex.

The ratings for us for the parks (from Melissa’s, viewpoint, this trip was for her 15th birthday, which was last October, but we were not ready in October and I consider April and October to be the best months to visit the USA, because of the weather and the crowds. Universal Orlando, Kennedy Space Center and Animal Kingdom.

 I asked in the Publix supermarket near Summer Bay Orlando, about the Stickers and Transponders that allow one to go through the “SunPass” lanes on the toll roads. The Sticker was $5 and the Transponder was $20.. I didn’t buy one, because I figured we would only use it 2 days. That was fine, until the last toll booth. I had gotten off 528 at exit 8, to buy gas, before we returned the car in the airport. When I got back onto 528, there was another toll booth, a big surprise to me, and it only took quarters (possibly other coins, but I can’t remember what it said).

Recently, we switched our cell phone service to Virgin Mobile Colombia. At this time, they do not have “Roaming” and I avoid “Roaming”, because of the cost. I looked in the Publix market for a SIM card for a couple of minutes, but didn’t find one that caught my eye. We had no cell phone service, we had no Data service. That was a horrible mistake and will not be repeated. For many reasons (emergency calls, locating someone in your party, using Waze and Google Maps If you need directions, or get lost, having service is necessary. That caused us a number of issues and would be worth whatever it costs.

Both of the international flights to/from the USA took approximately 3 ½ hours. After our flight from Bogota (BOG) to Cali (CLO) on May 1st, when the checked hard sided Samsonite suitcase I’d taken arrived in the Baggage Claim (it was about ½ empty when we went to Orlando and full when we returned) it had TSA tape all over it and it was open. They had opened it, for inspection. If they had had Avianca contact me, I had the key and would gladly have opened it for them. I will check to see if the locks work properly and if not will contact the company that issued the Travel Insurance policy, to see if that is covered. I think it covers lost or delayed baggage, among other things, but we bought it in case of medical emergency or accident. Possibly it covers damage to luggage also?

We did not have time to go to the Beach, so that’s for another trip. Ideally, one would have 10-14 days to do what we did and would not need to check into a Spa after their vacation, to recover.

Pilar said that you can tell who is in the parks on their first or second day, by the shoes they are wearing. The first days, people are wearing closed shoes and then changing to Crocs or some kind of clogs. I wore my Crocs or the similar shoes I’d purchased here, every day in the parks.

Book Recommendation: Early in August 2015, I “pre ordered” “The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2016”. The new editions are always published during August. We had previously purchased Print and Kindle editions of the same book, for earlier years.. Thankfully, the book includes information about Universal Orlando. To my surprise, a month or so before our trip, I learned that Melissa’s primary interest was in Universal Orlando, because of “Harry Potter” and other interests she has. is the web site affiliated with the book. I signed up for a Free account and made Personalized Touring Plans, for the Attractions Melissa had on her list, before the trip.

FastPass+ in the Walt Disney World parks allows one to make arrangements for up to 3 attractions in one day. I suggest going to a FastPass+ Kiosk, immediately after entering the parks. Check the “Wait Times” on or on the web site of the park, before using FastPass+, so that you do not waste a FastPass+ on an attraction with a short “Wait Time”. If any of the attractions you want to see have short “Wait Times”, ride them immediately, after entering the park, after you get FastPass+ for other attractions.

Possibly something I’ve written will give someone else a hint on what to do, or, what not do do.

We had a WONDERFUL trip!


Used textbook purchased from Bookbyte Textbooks and shipped via FedEx SmartPost

On January 8, 2016 at 329 P.M., E.S.T. I ordered a Used Textbook, described as “Used – Very Good”, from Bookbyte, an Amazon Marketplace Seller located in Salem, Oregon.

The textbook was in the condition Bookbyte showed in their listing on Amazon. Possibly it was better than “Very Good”. In the past, we had purchased 2 or 3 other textbooks from Bookbyte. They are the first Seller I noticed using FedEx SmartPost, for Standard $3.99 shipping of textbooks to our Shipping Address in Miami, Florida.

Bookbyte uses “FedEx SmartPost Bound Printed Matter” service.  The approximate road mileage is 3311 miles.

As you can see by looking at the FedEx Tracking information below, Bookbyte shipped the textbook to us that same (Friday) afternoon. The package was delivered by USPS to our Receiver/Forwarder the following Friday, January 15th.

I like Amazon and eBay Sellers who use FedEx SmartPost, because the packages are in the normal FedEx system, until arriving at the FedEx facility in Orlando, Florida. You can see in the Tracking details, the transfer, from the FedEx facility in Orlando, to the FedEx SmartPost facility in Orlando. Orlando is where they Tendered the package to USPS for final delivery in Miami,  on January 13th.


1/15/2016 – Friday
1:36 pm Delivered MIAMI, FL
Package delivered by U.S. Postal Service to addressee
12:54 pm At U.S. Postal Service facility MIAMI, FL
Accepted by U.S. Postal Service
8:35 am Out for delivery MIAMI, FL
Out for delivery with the U.S. Postal Service
7:29 am At U.S. Postal Service facility MIAMI, FL
Accepted by U.S. Postal Service
1/14/2016 – Thursday
9:36 am In transit MIAMI, FL
In transit to U.S. Postal Service
1/13/2016 – Wednesday
10:00 pm Shipment information sent to U.S. Postal Service
9:50 pm Departed FedEx location FEDEX SMARTPOST ORLANDO, FL
10:10 am Arrived at FedEx location FEDEX SMARTPOST ORLANDO, FL
9:16 am Departed FedEx location ORLANDO, FL
5:20 am Arrived at FedEx location ORLANDO, FL
1/10/2016 – Sunday
9:07 pm In transit ST LOUIS, MO
7:56 am In transit CHAPPELL, NE
1/09/2016 – Saturday
7:56 pm In transit CORINNE, UT
6:47 am Departed FedEx location TROUTDALE, OR
12:58 am Arrived at FedEx location TROUTDALE, OR
1/08/2016 – Friday
8:32 pm Left FedEx origin facility SALEM, OR
5:00 pm Arrived at FedEx location SALEM, OR
3:19 pm Shipment information sent to FedEx


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