About Roderick Chu

Chair, Audit Committee, The College Board Member, Vision Board, Peace Lutheran Church Member, Community Relations Advisory Board, State Farm Bank Member, Board of Scholars, Center for Enrollment Policy, Planning, and Research, Univ. of Southern California Past leadership positions: Trustee, The College Board Vice Chair, Cornell University Council Director, Metropolitan Opera Club Interim President, Education Commission of the States Chancellor, Ohio Board of Regents Worldwide Managing Partner - Gov't Practice, Accenture Commissioner of Taxation & Finance, State of New York

Creating and Using Forms, and Extracting Data for Mail Merge

I’m part of Peace Lutheran Church’s HOPE Jobs Fair team preparing to assist unemployed homeless and other individuals to re-enter the workforce. As part of this effort, we are helping these individuals prepare resumes to present to prospective employers.
To streamline the process for the 100s of applicants we anticipate serving, I have adapted a form-filling process that I have been asked to use by my financial institutions to provide them data about me. This process uses Adobe Acrobat Pro, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Microsoft Word.
By using this process, we can standardize the type and look of information applicants present employers. By using standard software that is widely available for Windows, Mac, and Android platforms, and forms that are simple to fill out, we can accept entries from many different preparers — applicants, service agencies, our church volunteers — who do not need much training or experience. The applications can be saved and edited to produce revised resumes. Also, by preparing differently formatted resume masters, we can produce resumes with different look and feel from the same data on file without requiring re-entering data.
While this process spreads much of the work of preparing many resumes to many with basic form filling and MS Word skills, it does call for an individual or small team with some experience with Acrobat and Word. As my own experience was quite dated, I had to re-learn how to locate and use the various tools that Adobe provides. Similarly, Microsoft has changed Word and its location of Mail Merge features has been changed over time requiring work to re-learn their process.
Now that my re-learning is complete, I’ve documented the steps required to help me and others tackle the job more easily in the future.
Here are the steps in the process that I came up with, using the latest Adobe and Microsoft products on my Mac.
  1. Produce .pdf form with Adobe Acrobat Pro, using a model form downloaded from the InternetHOPE Step 1
    1. Use Edit PDF tool to modify layout of formHOPE Step 1a
    2. Use Prepare Form tool to edit form’s entry fieldsHOPE Step 1b
    3. File>Save As to save the form with a name indicating version date
    4. Within Prepare Form click Distribute button …HOPE Step 1d
    5. … use Email, continueHOPE Step 1e
    6. Save a local copy and manually send it later, NextHOPE Step 1f
    7. Don’t bother with Collect name & email from recipients, Finish
    8. Close the Tracker windowHOPE Step 1h
  2. Email forms to desired recipient organizations and individuals
    1. Forms can be printed for easy completion by hand
    2. Optional: Show recipients how the data on the forms will look at the end of the process, with the resulting resume
  3. Receive completed forms from applicants and enter data
    1. Download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader DC in Windows, Mac, or Android computer from https://get.adobe.com/reader/
    2. Open the latest .pdf Job Seeker Application form fileHOPE Step 3b
      1. Even though the applicant may have used an earlier version of the form, all the fields of earlier forms are in the latest form file
    3. Enter the data in the appropriate fields on the form
    4. Print out the form and provide to applicant to review & correct
    5. Save As the entered form with the applicant’s name inserted in the front of the filename, but keeping the rest of the filename intact so we can identify which version of the form was used enter the data
    6. Email the saved form to the HOPE team
  4. Open the latest Job Seeker Application PDF Form mmddyy_responses.pdf file in Adobe Acrobat ProHOPE Step 4
    1. Click Get StartedHOPE Step 4a
  5. Add completed .pdf files
    1. Click Add in left barHOPE Step 5a
    2. In Add Returned Forms, Add File
    3. Click on completed .pdf files to add, holding Command/Ctrl key to select multiple files, Open, OK.
      1. If Acrobat gives a warning message about fields not exactly matching, accept with YesHOPE Step 5c
    4. Continue steps 5.b. and 5.c. to add more files
  6. Export list file for Word Mail Merge
    1. If you want to produce resume just for new files, Command/Ctrl click on the new filesHOPE Step 6a
    2. Click Export in left bar
    3. Click Export all or Export selected
    4. In Select Folder To Save File window, select where to save the CSV Format file for Word to Mail MergeHOPE Step 6d
    5. Close Acrobat Pro
  7. Produce draft resumes with MS Word Mail Merge from exported Adobe form fields
    1. Open Entry Resume Master in Word
    2. Use Mail Merge wizard to:
      1. Create Letters using the Master documentHOPE Step 7a
      2. Select Recipients, Using Existing List …HOPE Step 7b2a
      3. …selecting the CSV Format file created in 6.4.HOPE Step 7b2b
      4. Preview ResultsHOPE Step 7b3
      5. Finish & Merge, Edit Individual Documents, to create draft resumesHOPE Step 7b4
      6. File>Save As to save draft resumes as a .docx fileHOPE Step 7b5
    3. Edit the draft resumes
      1. Remove lines created from empty fields
      2. Select pages for an individual’s resume, Edit>Copy, File>New, Edit>Paste, Save to create resume file for each Name
      3. Repeat previous step for each individual

Year of the Rooster

Happy New Year!

Few Chinese Horoscope books contain overall prognostications for the year. In my large collection of these books, one of the few that does is the first edition of Theodora Lau’s The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes, published in 1979. Unfortunately, in the later editions of this book, her overall predictions for each year have been removed.

To provide my friends with this interesting information, here is Ms. Lau’s overall forecast for the Year of the Rooster, plus her predictions for how individuals will fare this year, given the animal that represents their birth year. (To determine what animal you are, see my table of animals for birth dates.)


January 28, 2017 – February 15, 2018 

The optimism of the Monkey year overlaps the year of the Rooster, but the Rooster tends to be overconfident and is prone to come up with nonsensical plans. While the colorful Rooster brings bright and happy days, he also dissipates energy. Better stick to practical and well proven paths. Forget about that controversial best seller you were going to write. No get rich quick schemes this year, please!

It may require a great deal of effort this year to resist going off on wild goose chases. Refrain from making speculative ventures. Disappointments and conflicts will result. The Rooster likes to flaunt his authority and a lot of trouble can come from his domineering attitude. But since he also symbolizes the good administrator and conscientious overseer of justice in the barnyard, the peace will still be kept. Everything will be precariously balanced in the Rooster’s year, as his dramatic personality can set off all kinds of petty disputes.

This year we may have to expend maximum effort for minimum gain. Try not to fuss too much. Details do need looking into, but don’t forget to view the whole picture. Be cautious. Do not aim too high. One is liable to get shot down.

Politics will adhere to hard-line policies. The diplomatic scene will be dominated by philosophical orators who rave a lot about nothing. Governments will be found flexing their muscles at each other, but just for show. There may be no real confrontations. It is just that everyone will be too occupied with himself to hear or care what the other person is saying. The self-conscious influence of the Rooster will cause us to take offense at the smallest slight. We will tend to be terribly ostentatious about the splendid image we think we project. Dissensions and debates on all fronts will signify the Rooster’s penchant for argumentative exercises and will not be likely to do permanent damage to anyone when taken in the right context.

This will be a buoyant year in spite of the Rooster’s knack for making simple things complicated. One thing is for sure: he seldom comes up empty-handed. This is the year of one very self-sufficient bird that will never go hungry.

Just keep your eyes open and your mouth shut and check facts and figures before making unprecedented moves. We should all get by without too much hardship. Our pockets will not be empty although our nerves may be a bit frayed.

How you will fare in the Year of the Rooster

Rat              Celebrations are in store for the Rat. New partnerships or a marriage are in the family. A very hectic time as good things could happen overnight. Due to his busy schedule and many commitments, the Rat must be on guard against infections, cuts, bruises and overwork.

Ox               The Ox will have a moderately happy time and will still enjoy success although he could experience one strange or unlikely incident this year. He should be on the watch out for some foreclosure in property or being swindled by a friend.

Tiger          A moderate year. The Tiger must not be over-anxious. The seemingly large problems that beset him this year can be solved and help will come at the last moment from unexpected places or newfound friends.

Rabbit       A difficult year for the Rabbit, as he finds money dwindling away and meets setbacks that cause extra expense. A time for him to merge with others and let them carry him through. He should be conservative this year and not act independently. Problems and obstacles at home and at work will be over­come, but not before they cause him a lot of frustrations.

Dragon       A happy and eventful year for the Dragon: good news, promotions and the return of money given up for lost. His family life is smooth and he is able to recoup losses or make new influential friends.

Snake         A very auspicious year. The Snake’s achievements can be fantastic as he will receive the recognition or promotion he deserves. He will be rewarded for his patience and past perseverance. Profits or some big increase in income can also be expected. Home life is pleasant as the Snake reaps the fruits of his labors.

Horse         A fair year. Good tidings at home but slight disturbances in career. The problems he encounters will not be large ones but they may slow down his progress and he will tend to get upset too easily.

Sheep         An entertaining but rather expensive year. The Sheep spends more than he earns and may be faced with irritating disputes or conflict at home. A year in which he should not try to please everyone and watch his finances very carefully.

Monkey     A moderate but stable time for the endeavors of the Monkey person. He will have the extra money he needs and the right contacts to push his plans through, but in turn he will neglect his home life, take on too much forced socializing and find himself exhausted or overextended where commitments are concerned. A year in which he must not underestimate his opponents.

Rooster     A moderately happy year in store for the Rooster. A time for him to make a splendid comeback. He is able to solve his problems with relative ease and he finds influential or powerful people who will support his ideas. He may still be involved in disputes but will emerge unhurt from accidents or other calamities.

Dog           A mixed year for the Dog native. Problems with health, romance, govern­ment or superiors are indicated. Friends are not helpful or understanding and he finds it hard to get back money due him. He will suffer temporary loss of position and credibility.

Boar         A busy and fair year. The Boar’s domestic scene is calm but his advancement will be curtailed or interrupted. He spends a great deal of time and effort to overcome obstacles and must be patient with negotiations that are complicat­ed and involved.
From: The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes by Theodora Lau, First Edition, 1979

Capital Univ. Chapel Choir at Peace

The Capital University Chapel Choir kicked off its 2016 Concert Tour with a stirring performance at my church, Peace Lutheran Church in Gahanna, OH on Feb. 25, 2016. I was delighted to hear Leif Nilsen and his fellow choir member sing here before they appear in NYC’s Carnegie Hall on Feb. 29th!

I have posted my photos from the concert on Facebook. Here are the video clips I managed to take with my little handheld Sony point-and-shoot camera and post on YouTube. I’m pleasantly surprised that my camera managed to capture some of the Choir’s magnificent sound. I hope these clips give you a sense of the majestic performance the capacity audience enjoyed.

Chinese New Year’s Day Taboos

There are things one shouldn’t do on or around Chinese New Year’s Day. Here’s a list to help you prepare.

From The Telegraph

To be avoided on the first day of the Chinese New Year:

  1. Medicine: Taking medicine on the first day of the lunar year means one will get ill for a whole year. 
  2. New Year’s breakfast: Porridge should not be eaten, because it is considered that only poor people have porridge for breakfast, and people don’t want to start the year “poor” as this is a bad omen. 
  3. Laundry: People do not wash clothes on the first and second day, because these two days are celebrated as the birthday of Shuishen (水神, the Water God).
  4. Washing hair: Hair must not be washed on the first day of the lunar year. In the Chinese language, hair (发) has the same pronunciation and character as ‘fa’ in facai (发财), which means ’to become wealthy’. Therefore, it is seen as not a good thing to “wash one’s fortune away” at the beginning of the New Year.
  5. Sharp objects: The use of knives and scissors is to be avoided as any accident is thought to lead to inauspicious things and the depletion of wealth.
  6. Going out: A woman may not leave her house; otherwise she will be plagued with bad luck for the entire coming year. A married daughter is not allowed to visit the house of her parents, as this is believed to bring bad luck to the parents, causing economic hardship for the family.
  7. The broom: If you sweep on this day then your wealth will be swept away too.
  8. Crying children: The cry of a child is believed to bring bad luck to the family, so parents do their best to keep children as happy as possible.
  9. Theft: Having your pocket picked is believed to portend your whole wealth in the coming year being stolen.
  10. Debt: Money should not be lent on New Year’s Day, and all debts have to be paid by New Year’s Eve. If someone who owes you money, do not go to his or her home to demand it. Anyone who does so it is said will be unlucky all the year.
  11. An empty rice jar: An depleted receptacle may cause grave anxiety, as the cessation of cooking during the New Year period is considered to be an ill omen.
  12. Damaged clothes: Wearing threadbare duds can cause more bad luck for the year.
  13. Killing things: Blood is considered an ill omen, which will cause misfortunes such as a knife wound, or a bloody disaster. 
  14. Monochrome fashion: White or black clothes are barred as these two colours are traditionally associated with mourning.
  15. Welcoming the New Year: According to tradition, people must stay up late on New Year’s Eve to welcome the New Year, and then to let off firecrackers and fireworks to scare off inauspicious spirits and Nian, the New Year monster.
  16. Giving of certain gifts: Clocks, scissors, and pears all have a bad meaning in Chinese culture.

Here are other lists with similar superstitions:






Year of the Monkey

Happy New Year!

Few Chinese Horoscope books contain overall prognostications for the year. In my large collection of these books, one of the few that does is the first edition of Theodora Lau’s The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes, published in 1979. Unfortunately, in the later editions of this book, her overall predictions for each year have been removed.

To provide my friends with this interesting information, here is Ms. Lau’s overall forecast for the Year of the Monkey plus her predictions for how individuals will fare this year, given the animal that represents their birth year. (To determine what animal you are, see my table of animals for birth dates.)

Year of Monkey

The Year of the Monkey 
February 8, 2016 – January 27, 2017

Everything will be workable this year. At least the agile Monkey will not give up before trying every angle. There will be success even in impossible ventures, there will be inventions and improvisations galore. Politics, diplomacy, high finance and business will be engaged in one big poker game with everyone trying to outbluff each other. A rather amusing and exciting time in which everyone will be given the opportunity to try his hand at the game. No direct confrontation here, as the Monkey is one who can laugh off his mistakes and improve his bargaining prowess in the next round.

This is a year that will find us all trying to get a better deal by outsmarting the other man. It is hard to keep track of who is winning, as the right hand has no idea of what the left hand is up to. One thing is for sure, this will be an extremely progressive time. We will all steam ahead, and even if we do not apply ourselves to the utmost, we will be carried forward by the surging tide of the Monkey’s natural talent for learning and advancement.

The lucky imp of a Monkey who rules this year will urge us to gamble, speculate and exploit risky but ingenious options. If you are quick on the draw, this year will yield huge dividends. It is definitely not a year for the faint-hearted or slow-witted. The Monkey gives no concessions and asks none in return. If there is a recession, the year of the Monkey will quickly put an end to it. Business will skyrocket under his optimistic and shrewd influence. The Monkey’s resourcefulness will amaze and confound everyone.

It is very interesting to note that America was born in the year of the Fire Monkey, 1776. Perhaps this explains her phenomenal growth and fantastic achievements within such a short span of time.

It is said that the Monkey’s year will bring many new and unconventional ways of doing things. The motto of this year should be: “Don’t take No for an answer!”

How you will fare in the Year of the Monkey

Rat     The Rat will enjoy a fruitful year as no serious troubles are predicted on the home or business front. He will receive more good news than bad. However, he should avoid breaking friendships or partnerships at this time to avoid future repercussions.

Ox     A lucky and prosperous year for the Ox. He will be feted or sought after by important people. Good tidings in his family or a new job or promotion could await him. New ventures or partnerships can be foreseen.

Tiger     A trying year for the Tiger. Irritations and setbacks test his patience and powers of endurance. He should not voice his objections too loudly and avoid confrontations which could lead to lawsuits. He will entertain or travel more than usual and be forced to compromise.

Rabbit     A fair year for the Rabbit provided he is not too optimistic. Financial deals or contracts may meet with unexpected snags or fail to materialize due to the betrayal of a trusted ally. His family life remains calm but he could experience several minor illnesses that impede his progress.

Dragon     A mixed year for the Dragon. Progress can be foreseen in his career and financial undertakings but he must not be deceived by favorable preliminary results or else he could get caught in legal tangles. Broken friendships or romantic quarrels can result if he, is too determined to have everything done his way. A time for compromises and heeding the advice of others.

Snake     A good year as the Snake will find help when he needs it most. He may still be involuntarily drawn into disputes but things will burn themselves out if he does not add fuel to the fire. Still, these adverse conditions may cause undue anxiety. A year to remain conservative or neutral.

Horse     A lucky year for the Horse, as sudden gains or unlikely benefits are foreseen. He will be able to find whatever he is searching for, but he must also be careful about freak accidents that are likely to occur. There may be sad news in the family, but the troubles of others will not affect him personally.

Sheep     A good year for the Sheep. Recognition or promotion at work gives him a sense of fulfillment and he will enjoy a busy but rewarding year. Opposition is negligible and health problems minor.

Monkey     An excellent time for the Monkey native. He can start his own business as achievements, happiness and recognition are indicated. He will make fantastic progress. Headaches will come mainly from subordinates, debtors or people who finance his bold undertakings. Health problems stem from overexertion.

Rooster     A mixed year. The Rooster is faced with financial problems, failure in business or career, or personal suffering at home. He is prone to make errors in judgment, so he must not rely on outside information but investigate everything thoroughly on his own. Things may look better than they actually are.

Dog     A fair year. It will be hectic and not as fruitful as the Dog expects, but there will be good news or celebrations at home. Extra expenses, more traveling than usual or a change in residence are also foreseen. New friends and important people will fete him.

Boar     A moderately satisfying time for the Boar. He will suffer from a lack of money or support and various domestic and personal problems will occupy his mind. Results are not entirely favorable but he will be able to borrow money or join forces with other people and solve his difficulties.


I found a website that offers a summary of “YOUR FORTUNE IN FIRE MONKEY YEAR”. Check out how you’ll fare in this prediction compared to Ms. Lau’s. http://susanlevitt.com/astrology/monkey-year-2016/

Year of the Sheep

Happy New Year!

Few Chinese Horoscope books contain overall prognostications for the year. In my large collection of these books, one of the few that does is the first edition of Theodora Lau’s The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes, published in 1979. Unfortunately, in the later editions of this book, her overall predictions for each year have been removed.

To provide my friends with this interesting information, here is Ms. Lau’s overall forecast for the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Goat or Year of the Ram – they’re all the same character in Chinese), plus her predictions for how individuals will fare this year, given the animal that represents their birth year. (To determine what animal you are, see my table of animals for birth dates.)


The Year of the Sheep
February 19, 2015 – February 8, 2016

This is a smooth year following that of the energetic Horse. A year to relax and make peace with oneself as well as with others. Things progress slowly and we find ourselves more sentimental and emotion­al. The Sheep’s influence will draw us closer to home and our families. We find ourselves caring more about those close to us and being more liberal with our time and money.

Patron of the arts, the Sheep will bring out all the creativeness in our natures. We will be productive and imaginative in artistic and aesthetic ventures. The pessimistic vibrations cast by him will also make us oversensitive and fretful of little problems. In our undertak­ings, we may become easily discouraged or hypercritical when things are not to our liking.

On the world scene, things will be tranquil and subdued. Take time off to cater to your whims and fancies. Make new friends and travel; invest in art and antiques. But keep a tight hand on your purse string, too, as there could be repercussions caused by overspending.

Hopefully, the Sheep’s love of harmony and keen sense for coexist­ing with his enemies will preserve this year from many upheavals. The moderates and doves will be heard and heeded. Wars, internation­al conflicts and mutual animosities usually end in the year of the Sheep.

The serenity of the Sheep’s peaceful ways will slow things down a bit for the more intensely active signs, but after all, this is not a year for whirlwind activities – it is one for introspection.

How you will fare in the Year of the Sheep

Rat            The Rat’s finances make a recovery this year and there are some achieve­ments career‑wise. However, his plans cannot all be realized without encountering changes or some small upheaval. He will be able to discover and take advantage of previously unseen opportunities.

Ox          Not much progress can be expected this year although the Ox receives good news to boost his confidence. No illness or serious quarrels and his home life will be relatively peaceful. However, he should not be overoptimistic as he could lose some money he thought he has gained or lose something he cannot even talk about.

Tiger      A good year although the problems the Tiger encounters take up a lot of his time. Negotiations, bickering at home and tension at work keep him from relaxing, and he should take a vacation even if he cannot afford it. He could also lose some personal belongings but should otherwise count himself lucky, as there will be no serious disasters.

Rabbit    An excellent year for the Rabbit. Many wonderful achievements can be accomplished and his plans progress smoothly. A prosperous year for him but he must pay strict attention to details or he may have trouble later on about a settlement. No large problems at home or work.

Dragon    The Dragon can only expect moderate performance during the Sheep’s year for his financial ventures and career advancement. Some health problems, but his family life is quiet. No upheavals or unwelcome changes in his environment.

Snake     A protected year for the Snake. No great gains but neither are there any sizable losses to be expected. Life could be calm and leisurely if he takes advantage of this time to cultivate influential friends who will benefit him greatly later on. Some sad news or minor inconveniences at home.

Horse     A moderate year for the Horse. Changes in residence or a long trip are indicated. The good balances out the bad this year and no serious problems or worries affect him.

Sheep     A not‑so‑favorable year for the Sheep native. The year may start out bright and he could make a lot of plans or receive many invitations. Then problems and complications will pop up and his gains may be greatly diminished. A time in which he must trim his expectations and be practical.

Monkey  An involved and busy year. The Monkey finds it easy to make money but his profits will be reduced by unexpected expenses. He meets new and beneficial associates and will have to entertain or travel more than usual. Some minor health upset or unhappiness at home is indicated. A year to be secretive, as others may try to obtain classified information from him.

Rooster  A good, protected year for the Rooster. No upheavals indicated as he enjoys glad tidings, regains lost ground and sees some advancement in his career. Troubles may still abound but he is not directly affected. Life is quieter and more settled. He is able to relax or take a good vacation.

Dog        A moderate year for the Dog. Anxiety and worries beset him. He can prevent losses and resolve differences if he holds his tongue and refuses to lose his temper. A year for him to be patient and conservative.

Boar       A fair year for the Boar, as his financial position is at a standstill or loss. He will have no serious health problems or big upheavals. His gains will be in the form of knowledge, more professional training or career development. A time to plan for the future and seek out new opportunities to explore.

WiFi Thermostat: Nest vs. Honeywell Lyric vs. lower-end Honeywell

I just installed a wifi thermostat for my home. Easy to do and now I can monitor and reset the heating/cooling from my computer or iPhone. And I did it rather inexpensively.

This summer, while traveling, I thought about how nice it would be to reset my thermostat to cool down my house before I got home. I normally set the temperature to 85º when I am away in the summer to keep my air-conditioning bills down. It normally takes a few hours for my house to cool down after I get home and restart the thermostat’s regular schedule, and that can be a problem if I arrive home late in the evening, since I’d like to get to sleep.

Nest thermostat Asking around, friends recommended the Nest thermostat. I had seen it in the Apple Store and online and was ready to buy one. It had all the bling of Apple coolness as a product. But then I looked into it more. Did I really need a thermostat that learned what temperature I wanted it set at by monitoring my adjusting the temperature throughout the day? Reading more, I found that it could also learn when I left the house and reset the thermostat as well.

Lyric thermostatI was happy with my current Honeywell thermostat. It came with my new furnace that I had installed last year – a basic seven day model, much like my old one, but with a touch screen. So I checked online to see what Honeywell had to offer and found that they had just introduced a new model called Lyric to keep with the Nest. It was available only through furnace installers, but would be available in August in Lowes. Both the Nest and Lyric models are priced around $250. Many of the reviews I read online focused on ease of installation.

Honeywell WiFi thermostatChecking further, I found that Honeywell had a model similar to the one I was currently using, but with Wi-Fi capabilities, enabling users to monitor and set the thermostat remotely. Its controls were the same as the model I was currently using, so ease of use wasn’t a concern for me. It was priced at about $100. Again, complaints centered on the need to have a C wire to the thermostat – something that older installations don’t have. I popped open my current thermostat and found that it had the needed C wire, so installation would not be an issue.

Honeywell offered a range of models that included additional features such as voice activation, color screen, learning how long it took for the house to come to new temperatures, automatically switching between heating and cooling, etc. These features added cost and filled in the price spectrum between the basic wifi model I was considering and the Nest/Lyric.

I finally decided to go with Honeywell’s basic wifi model instead of Nest or Lyric, because I’m competent enough to set my own temperatures and schedules and don’t need it to “learn” from my re-setting the temperature or monitoring my location (through my iPhone) – spooky! Shopping around, I found a new one (in an open package) offered at about $70 on eBay. Of course, given the newness of the Nest and Lyric, I couldn’t find any with much of a discount from their $250 list prices. So that amounted to a savings of about $180!

I received the unit today, read over the instructions, and watched the videos on Honeywell’s installation assistance website. I got my tools together – a cordless screwdriver, drill and drill bits, a small electronics screwdriver, and small needle-nose pliers – and got to work. I turned off the circuit breakers for my furnace and air conditioner, removed the old thermostat front, and detached and labeled the wires from the old thermostat mounting plate. I found that my furnace installer had screwed the old mounting plate directly into the wallboard without anchors, so I drilled holes and installed the anchors provided with the new thermostat. I mounted the new plate, attached the wires, clicked on the new thermostat cover, and turned my circuit breakers back on. I continued, as instructed, setting the time and day of the new unit, establishing a wifi connection with my router via my laptop, and setting up an online account that lets me monitor and control the unit via the Internet or iPhone app. I had tried to get the air conditioning running again by manually setting the temperature setting lower, but it was only after I had set up the online connection that my HVAC system started running again.

Online thermostat windowI started setting up the thermostat schedule on the unit as I had with my old unit, but found I had to do it one day at a time. So I checked out the online interface and I was pleased to see that I could set my temperature schedule much more easily, able to set blocks of days and not have to set all four modes (wake, leave, return, sleep) when not needed. The thermostat appears to get the outside temperature and humidity readings through the Internet.

The whole process, from opening the box to system running, took about 1 hour. The unit appears to be working properly; my house is pleasantly cool and the fan cycles on and off as before.

I am happy with the experience, and look forward to monitoring and resetting my thermostat temperature while away from home as well as from within my house, wherever I have a computer or iPhone. One hour and $70 was very little to be able to come home finding it at the right temperature after being away. I don’t have the bling factor of the neat new Nest or Lyric thermostats sitting on my wall, but frankly I don’t need anyone admiring such devices when they come visit me, and I get all the functionality I really need.