Joy’s totally nuts about exercise classes and once found herself trapped in a place where the music blasted so loudly that the instructor had to scream over a microphone. She should have left immediately.

The tiny hairs in your ears lay flat when assaulted by noise. Like good soldiers, they bounce back– if they’re not insulted too often. After awhile, they can’t bounce back anymore and you have hearing loss.

A loud rock concert — 110 decibels–  gives you permanent hearing loss after just a minute and a half, according to An NFL game or a noisy bar gets up to 90 decibels of sound, and will cause hearing damage after a couple of hours. If you want to find out how loud the neighborhood is, download a decibel measurement app to your phone or tablet, such as the free Sound Analyzer for Android or iPhone. It said our place was almost as quiet as a library.

Bob is a big fan of ear plugs, and always wears them to the movies. But what are the best ones?  For concerts, ReviewGeek recommends “Etymotic Fidelity Earplugs” for $14 from Amazon. (We figure those would also work for noisy bars and football games.) For airplanes, there’s “Earplanes,” which come in a set of three for $14. For yard work, there’s “EP4 Sonic Defenders, also $14.


  • gives good advice, slob-to-slob. Why listen to someone who was born organized?  Dana White coins words like “deslobification” and “procrasti-clutter,” to guide you in your decluttering adventure. Joy prefers her book, “Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff.” But the blog is a good place to start.
  • Restoring a dragon in a carousel is a website for roadside attractions. We like the dazzling dragon at the carousel museum in Albany, Oregon.

  • Ecuador Legalized Gangs, Murder Rates Plummeted.” Click on that link to find a fascinating article. Gangs started acting like community service organizations, adding women and children, when the government legitimized them.

New Way to Get Your Email

It’s frustrating to label an email “spam” only to see it come back again and again. So we love the new blocking feature in the free “Edison Mail” app for your Android or iPhone.

You don’t need to change your current email address or service to use it. Just sign in with your Gmail, Yahoo, or whatever service you use. It works with all the major providers. Like Gmail, it uses a “bot” or robot to comb your mail to fit it into categories. But the ones it adds are handier: packages, bills and receipts, travel, entertainment, subscriptions and security.

To get rid of a pesky sender, tap an email. Then tap “block.” All mail from that source  will skip the inbox and go directly to the trash from then on. Though you could set this up in other services like Gmail, it’s more work than simply tapping the word “block.”

Edison Mail also has a handy “unsubscribe” feature. Tap the hamburger icon, which is three stacked lines in the upper left. Then tap “subscriptions.” Tap “unsubscribe” next to any newsletter you don’t want to receive any more.

Since launching three years ago, Edison Mail has sent more than 10 million flight notifications (such as letting you know if the plane is on-time or delayed, and if the gate has changed), tracked shipping for over 90 million packages, and organized over 500 million receipts.

To Screen or Not to Screen

One thing we love about Google phones, such as the Pixel 2 and 3, is their “Call Screen” feature. Until Joy learned she’d been screening out Bob’s doctor.  

Rumor has it that it’s about to roll out to Motorola, Nokia phones and other “Android One” phones as well. It works like this. A call comes in. You’re not sure whose number it is. You tap “Call Screen” and the person is asked to state their name and the nature of their call. You see a transcript of that as they’re talking and can tap to answer or hang up. The odd thing is, caller ID doesn’t always kick in. It didn’t for Bob’s doctor.

He told us that he’d called a couple of times and that he should probably let the call screening feature take his name next time. His number is on our contact list, so there should have been caller ID, but there wasn’t. Call Screen screened out our friend Jay too. So we may just stop screening for awhile.

Free Calling

When our niece first got an iPhone, she didn’t pay for cell phone service. Whenever she was in range of WiFi, she made a free call or went on the Internet for free.

Most people have a data plan, which costs money. You use it when you’re out of range of WiFi. But if you didn’t turn on WiFi calling, you might be using your data plan when you don’t need to. We don’t remember turning ours on, but it was on when we checked.

On an iPhone, go to “Settings” then “Cellular” then “WiFi calling” and toggle it on. On an Android phone, go to “Settings” then “Network & Internet” then “Advanced.” On our phone, we tapped “Configure SMS calling,” then noticed it was already on. These settings vary, however, depending on the Android version you have. If in doubt, search on the phrase, “how to do WiFi calling in Android 7,” or whatever version of Android you have. To find your version, tap “Settings,” “About Phone,” and scroll down to “Android Version.”


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