like the rock of gibraltar…but not

Just got off the phone with my wonderful and loving daughter. She it is who is wise beyond her 28 years. She who can heal whatever it is that ails me. And not with a cup of green tea to warm my insides, although she does that too, but with sentiments that wrap themselves around my oft-times troubled soul.

Without going into details, suffice it to say my normally blissful life has been upended by something that occurred decades ago. While I’d been able to move on with my life, the event was there like a rock secured to my ankle which I dragged around with me…everywhere. For a long time I barely noticed it was there.

But it was there.

Resolving issues through compromise is always my preference. I’d like to think I’m no different from other folks in that regard.

It’s not my style to pretend like something never happened. It’s like glossing over the truth. And if I learned anything from the 12 years I spent in the daily company of Catholic nuns…TRUTH above all else!

What I didn’t assimilate until I was older is that the truth can hurt…real bad.

I recently decided to stop ignoring that “rock” and see if I could break free of its hold once and for all. 

My daughter’s words of encouragement were enlightening.

She reminded me how far I’d come in living my best life. As far as the “rock” was concerned, she felt I’d had the best of intentions in trying to be rid of it, and that I no longer needed to agonize over it.  

My “light bulb” moment was when she reminded me of how I felt when I decided to buy coffee and food along with a $25 gift card from Starbuck’s for a woman I thought was homeless. What I chose to ignore was that the woman wasn’t dressed exactly like one might expect of a homeless person. In fact, she could have been the poster person for what the homeless could look like…poised, almost like a model…modestly dressed, but still fashionable-looking…hair done in dread locks, and impeccably clean-looking …face made up, even more so than mine.

Of course I didn’t see these details until my daughter and I were standing in front of the woman, gifts in hand. What had caught my eye, and my heart strings, from the distance was the shopping cart behind the woman which looked to be loaded down with all that she had in the world.

How could I leave, packages in hand…loaded down with Christmas gifts for my loved ones, when this poor woman stood there in the cold and rain as countless shoppers passed her by, sometimes only inches away from where she stood?

Upon approaching the woman, my daughter spoke first offering the coffee, sandwich and cookie that we’d bought. We were caught off by guard by the woman’s quick response…”I don’t take food from people I don’t know.” Needless to say my daughter and I were totally thrown off, and took a bit to recover.

While I tried to ascertain her circumstances, ever so carefully choosing my words, the woman asked who we were, where were we from. She wanted to know what ethnicity we were. When told we were Hawaiian, she said she’d lived in Hawaii and asked if we knew someone she’d known there.

Trying to process the conversation as we stood rooted in place, still clutching our donations, I couldn’t decide if the woman was legitimate or simply conning us. Unable to think straight, I offered her the gift card which she took. Without acknowledging our donation, she continued talking. At which point I wished her well, eager to extricate myself from a situation about which I wasn’t quite sure.

To this day, we’ll never know if the woman was homeless or if she was simply trying to solicit cash. And yes, I did agonize over whether or not I’d done the right thing.

Why? Because a number of years ago I gave a guy $20 after he told me his hard luck story. A few days later he told me the same story, not realizing he’d already hit me up for money before. And at the time I gave it to him, my girlfriend, who was with me, told me she thought I’d been scammed. 

My daughter explained that just as my intentions were good in wanting to give to the woman, so too were they good in removing the “rock” that continued to weigh me down. She went on to say that I’d gotten rid of the “rock,” and that I needn’t dwell on whether or not I did the right thing. Rather, that I needed to return to…living my best life.

…i think i’ll do as she asks…for my sake…

and hers.

………hugmamma.

 

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spam…not the canned kind

Illustration of Facebook mobile interface

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Just a warning that linking posts to Facebook are being spammed. Perused my “Wall” and saw that several of my posts, quite a few in fact, did not appear as they normally do. In place of the norm, was a cryptic message saying I’d shared a link, and the URL was wp.me. I recognized that from an attempt to spam my Facebook page a long time ago. Of course I deleted all those fictitious messages, and shared a note with my Facebook readers explaining the situation.

I wanted to warn you of what’s afoot. When I’ve clicked on the Facebook icon and then clicked on the “share link” button, no security words appeared as had normally. I thought my connection to Facebook was secure so I was allowed to bypass that intermediate step. Obviously a scammer had intercepted that step and was posting his or her link to my “Wall” instead.

My husband surmises that recent WordPress modifications may have disrupted my blog’s link to Facebook, which meant I needed to reconnect manually. Duh! Would I have thought of doing that? Not likely. A heads up from WordPress might have been helpful. Looks like we bloggers need to have each other’s backs.  

As my recent posts with advice from consumer advocate David Horowitz indicate, scammers are out to get us any way they can. They’re like worms crawling out from the woodwork, attempting to feed off us.

worms

Gotta squish those buggers underfoot every chance we get. They’re bad for the environment and must be extinguished!!!

…norton virus…my cavalry…to the rescue…CHARGE!!!…see you after the bloodbath…

………hugmamma.

scam alert!!!…(3 part-read first)

The scam truck

Image by jepoirrier via Flickr

Leading consumer advocate David Horowitz is offering extensive advice about Internet scamming. I’d like to share it in its entirety over the next few posts. If I tried to cram all the information into one, it would read like a lot of blah, blah, blah. And we all know how easy it is to zone out, or scroll down the page without really digesting what we’re reading. I’m as guilty of this as the next person.

And so…I give you Mr. Horowitz. Applause…applause…applause.

David Horowitz

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

MANY OF US spend a great deal of time reconnecting with old friends, exchanging photos and videos, and doing business on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
     Cyber-crooks have also turned their attention to the big social sites because they’re rife with potential victims–Facebook alone has more than 750 million members–and the threats are new enough that many people haven’t given much thought to how to defend themselves.
     Protecting yourself against social networking scams entails being aware of what they look like and properly securing your personal information when you are connected to the Web. Here are some of the most common social networking scams.

OMG, did you see this picture of you?
     You receive an email or an instant message claiming a picture of you has just been posted–check it out here! Immediately, you click on the link, which takes you to your Twitter or Facebook log-in page. There, you enter your account info.
     Unfortunately, both the email and the landing page are fake. That link you clicked took you to a page that only looked like your intended social site. It’s called phishing, and you’ve just been had. A cyber-criminal now has your password, along with control of your account. From there, those up to no good can access information that may help them hack into other accounts of yours.
     To prevent this, make sure your Internet security includes anti-phishing defenses.

Description: Social Networking Source: own wor...

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Take this quiz–all your friends have taken it!
     On many social networking sites, you see questions that are supposedly funny or clever, such as what type of character you may be from your favorite movie. You may be prompted to do something fun, such as find out your I.Q. or vote for your favorite song. You enter your information and cell phone number, as instructed. You have just unwillingly subscribed to some dubious monthly service that will charge your cell phone $9.95 a month.

…intermission…bathroom break…time to raid the refrig…pet the dog…splash water in your face…

…PROCEED TO THE NEXT POST………pretty, please?…

Gonna Get Your Momma

Image by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via Flickr

………hugmamma. 🙂

ready…set…scam!…(3 part-read second)

David Horowitz making a strong point at CPAC 2011

Image by markn3tel via Flickr

Read on for more of consumer advocate David Horowitz‘s timely advice…

Tweet for cash!
     “Make money on Twitter!” and “Tweet for profit!” claim that anyone can work from home and make large sums simply by tweeting. If you fall for it you are asked for your credit-card number in order to pay a $1.95 shipping fee to get a “Twitter Cash Starter Kit.” Later, you find out that the starter kit is only a seven-day free trial, and the company then charges a monthly fee, typically around $50. It is then up to you to stop the charges, and it may be too late.

Hidden URLs
     Beware of blindly clicking on shortened URLs. You see them everywhere on Twitter, but you never know where they will take you since they hide the full location. Clicking on such a link could direct you to your intended site, or to one that installs all sorts of malware on your computer. Make sure you have real-time protection against spyware and viruses.

…now that you’re good and scared…proceed with caution to the last in this series…for horowitz’ final piece of advice…

Free twitter badge

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………hugmamma. 🙂

save yourself…from scammers…(3 part-read last)

Description unavailable

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And how does consumer advocate David Horowitz propose we stymie the efforts of cyber-crooks? Read on…

Protect yourself
     If you’re on Windows, run a security package. Use a modern browser, such as the current versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome, all of which have built-in measures for protecting you against the fraudulent sites used by social network scammers. And make sure you’ve got the current version of your operating system, since it’ll have the latest patches for security leaks.
     Be particularly cautious about any message that suggests you click off the site to perform an action such as watching a video or seeing a photo. If an acquaintance sends you a cryptic note that looks fishy, don’t hit “Reply,” but send a separate note to the person who sent it, asking if it is real.
     Be aware that a hacker could break into one of your friends’ social network accounts and use it to spam you with scam messages that might lead you to give away information. If the same hackers tamper with your account they can launch attacks on your family and friends. Protect your personal information by choosing cryptic passwords with random characters, numbers and punctuation marks. Change them periodically.

Great Blue Heron

Image by Anna L Conti via Flickr

i think scammers should get real jobs…don’t you?…

………hugmamma. 😉

a little of this…a little of that…

Haven’t shared trivia with you in sometime. Thought you might be interested in the following regurgitated facts from experts in the field.

…from www.fsis.usda.gov: I was surprised to learn that what I thought would cause food poisoning insofar as perishable items are concerned, was incorrect. Mayonnaise may not be the culprit, but protein sources might. 

best egg salad sandwich ever, flying star, Alb...

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Can mayonnaise in egg salad make you sick when it’s warm out? Karen ( the virtual food safety rep) says people often think mayo is the cause of foodborne illness from chilled foods such as chicken, tuna and egg salad or on deli-styled sandwiches. But since mayonnaise is made with acid (vinegar or lemon juice), it tends to prevent bacterial growth. Usually it’s the meat, poultry, fish or eggs in a sandwich left unrefrigerated for more than two hours that becomes the medium for bacteria to grow.

What about leftover fried chicken? According to Karen, food left out of the fridge for more than two hours may not be safe to eat. At temperatures above 90 F, food shouldn’t be left out for more than an hour. If you have any doubts, throw it out.

When you’ll be in the great outdoors and a cooler chest isn’t an option, Karen suggests packing such items as fruits, vegetables, hard cheeses, dried meats, dried cereal, bread, peanut butter, crackers and bottled drinks. 

…from Jackie Keller (nutrition expert/licensed and certified wellness coach: Debunks popular myths.

My Weight Loss Coach

Image via Wikipedia

Myth: Detox diets jump-start weight loss. I advise against detox diets, as they can cause the body to go into starvation mode and slow down the metabolism. If you want to cleanse your body, eliminate bad-for-you, processed foods and replace them with nutrient-dense foods.

Myth: Cutting carbs will help the pounds come off. The weight loss that low-carb dieters achieve in the first two weeks of carbohhydrate deprivation is measurable and not surprising. Carb-cutting will cause the body to shed water weight, as carbohydrates are stored in the body with water. That water weight will come right back on, and such a yo-yo weight loss is counterproductive and bad for overall metabolism.

Myth: Fat is the enemy. Research shows that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats–which are found in foods such as fish, olive oil, avocados and walnuts–can actually improve levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce the risk of heart disease. These healthy fats can aid in weight loss and even delay hunger pangs when consumed in appropriate amounts.

…from David Horowitz (leading consumer advocate) @ www.fightback.com: Warns against scams. In my February 27, 2011 post, “ever have one of those years…?” I talked about the first one. So trust me! It can happen to you.

McAfee
Image by biggraham via Flickr

A message flashes on your computer screen: “Warning! Your system requires immediate anti-virus scan.” A free scan is offered. What do you do?
This incredibly common scam is almost guaranteed to occur as you use your PC. Upon first look, it would appear that clicking “No thanks” would be the right solution. Wrong. Clicking anywhere in the on-screen alert can open the program further or direct you to a website you have no interest in going to. Worse, clicking anywhere in the on-screen alert can instantly infect your computer with a virus that can be difficult or even impossible to remove. (It cost me $199 to have Tech Pros remove it.)

The solution is to hold down the Control and Alt keys and hit “Delete.” Once the application tab pops up, select “End Task,” then do a full scan of your computer with the anti-virus software you already have. (That’s exactly what the expert at Tech Pros told me…after I paid the $199.)

You are in financial trouble, and as a result your credit is suffering. You have been approached by a variety of services offering to repair your credit. What do you do?
Although many companies offer to repair damaged credit, it can be difficult to tell which are legitimate. The most common scam involves a company advising you to stop paying your creditors and deposit money into a special account instead. In reality, the debt-settlement company withdraws fees from your account for “services,” long before it negotiates with your creditors, if it negotiates at all.

If these companies send you an unsolicited email or advertise on the radio touting a stellar track record, it may be a scam. Stick with a legitimate nonprofit counseling outlet with an established track record, and always try to negotiate directly with your creditors first.

Ebay Explained 2006 (KLCC)

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You have made an online purchase and the item never arrives, or the item is not what you thought you were buying. What do you do? 
If you made the purchase from a reliable company, review the return policy and keep all receipts once you ship the items back. …However, if you made the purchase through a third-party entity on a website such as craigslist or eBay, the solution can be  bit more complicated.

Eiko's credit card

Image by eikootje via Flickr

Look for telltale signs of a scam before charging your credit card. For example, buying tickets can be risky, as scammers often change one digit in the theater address or the ticket number, tricking you into buying tickets you think are real, only to be told they are fake once you try to enter an event.

Beware of merchants who provide you with only a cellphone number; they do this because cellphones can’t always be tracked. Look out for sellers who ask you to wire money, retail websites that don’t list an address or a phone number, and companies that don’t have much of a presence or any reviews online. These likely are scams.

…more than enough…to contemplate…hugmamma.

and the award goes to…

Comcast Corporate Customer Service!!! Yessir, they’ve done it again. Just as I’d done months ago (check my winter month archives), I sent an email off to my buddy Mark Casem at we_can_help@Comcast.com, this time asking for information regarding my daughter’s cable service. She was under the impression that because she was moving from one apartment to another, that there might be a promotion offering a discount of some sort. I wasn’t so certain. So she called her local Comcast, first as a current customer, and then, upon my husband’s advice, as a prospective one. In both cases, my daughter was treated as though she were engaged in the sidewalk scam, the shell game.” The guy shows you a pebble and directs you to watch it as he moves it from under one cup, to another, then another. After doing this a few times, the game ends with you selecting the  cup under which the pebble finally came to rest. Our family’s not the type to engage in mind games. We prefer to deal truthfully. Of course there are times when you’ve got to strategize. That’s code for confrontation…without being confrontational. Not my cup of tea. But hey! That’s life. If we have to…then bring it on.

Unable to decide whether she should simply transfer at the same rate she’d been paying, or disconnecting and trying for a better rate, my daughter pondered her options. With the clock ticking towards 6/28, tomorrow, when Comcast was scheduled to cut off her service, I told her I’d write headquarters to see if they were aware of anything that might help persuade my daughter one way or the other. My mantra continues to be “It never hurts to ask. All they can do is say no. It’s nothing personal, after all they don’t know me from Eve.” Of course I may not like their answer, but I can always opt out and go elsewhere. Not easy, for sure. But again, that’s life.

Mark Casem didn’t reply to my email, but a Michael Cardone did. He asked me to forward my daughter’s account number (telephone number) and her contact number, which I did. The next day my daughter received a confusing voice mail. Because I’d been one digit off in her account number, Comcast headquarters asked the local Comcast to call a Mr. Collins about his query. Of course my daughter felt the call had been misdirected, but when another voice mail was left, she decided to call the local rep back. 

Customer Service

Image by RW PhotoBug via Flickr

Happily, my daughter indicated the Comcast rep couldn’t have been nicer, and offered my daughter the same deal she received when she moved to her old apartment 4 1/2 years ago, $99/month for all three services, phone, internet and TV, for an entire year!!! Normally the package costs $160 monthly. Satisfied, my daughter decided to take the offer.

It’s been my experience that local Comcast stations aren’t as diligent about customer service as the corporate office. I suppose as with any operation, the further afield one gets from headquarters, the less “corporate” the mentality. Rules have a way of becoming more localized, perhaps to suit the surrounding population. Dealings with our local rep here are a whole lot better than when I lived with my daughter for a couple of years in Atlanta. Service there was “hit or miss.” My feeling now is if I can’t beat them at their own game, I’ll just call out the big guns…Comcast Corporate Customer Service.   

I will always be grateful for having lived and worked in NYC. I learned to speak up rather than always hold my tongue; try very hard not to take things personally; and celebrate the small things… for therein lie our biggest accomplishments. I think my daughter’s becoming New York savvy. 

Comcast Building

Image via Wikipedia

…another win…for david and his slingshot…hugmamma. 

 

“funny thing?!?,” ellen de generes

Something just happened which makes me think I’ve still got a tiny, rain cloud hovering overhead, leftover from my recent spate of mishaps.

Image representing LiveJournal as depicted in ...

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While I was in my hovel pounding away on my keyboard, wordpress.com initiated “blog buddies” in January of this year. A great idea, it fosters the growth of communities among wordpress.com bloggers. Other sites like Oprah.com and Live Journal  are known for their interactive networks. Having been a latecomer to the scene, I attempted to make connections. With no responses to my requests forthcoming, I surmised that perhaps our interests and backgrounds were too dissimilar. No problem, I thought. There’ll be other opportunities, I’m sure.

Ellen The Complete Fourth Season DVD Cover Art

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But being the person I am, oft times gregarious, I decided to email Ellen,  inviting her to be my blog buddy. When I’ve watched her show, she seems up for anything. So I thought “Why not?”

Going to her website and pulling up its first page, there was a contest I could enter if I wanted. Out of curiosity, I did. I knew 2 of the 3 answers immediately; I guessed the third. Upon clicking “continue,” what I saw next were 3 gold ribbons offering prizes for having been the day’s grand prize winner.” They were a $1,000 Walmart gift card, a $1,000 Best Buy gift card and an Ipad. Unable to fathom what I was seeing, but attempting to make a quick decision, I called my husband and my daughter, to no avail. Finally deciding to go for the Best Buy prize, I  clicked my choice. As expected, the next part of the process was to fill in some information, which I did. Continuing to the next page, I was asked to input my cell phone number. Of course I had to call my cell to make sure I had the correct number. But before I went any further, I read the fine print. Oh, oh, I thought.

If I clicked, I would be engaged in an ongoing game of sorts with ringtones, games, messages and so on. The cost? $9.99 a month, indefinitely. I was assured I’d be able to cancel after 30 days if I wanted. Well, I couldn’t get out of that scenario fast enough, especially after being scammed recently by “System Tool,” which infiltrated my laptop with viruses. Fixing that problem cost me $199, and cancelling a couple of credit cards as well. So I quickly began backing out of what looked like another scam, “Click + alt + delete.” What I couldn’t understand is how Ellen’s website would allow such an occurrence. But, hey! This is still all new to me.

[Sisters Lucretia Electa and Louisa Ellen Cros...

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

I emailed Ellen asking about the contest, and if she’d agree to be my blog buddy. I’m sure she’s got lots on her plate, so I don’t expect a response to either. But maybe one of her fun assistants will send a big “hello.” Again, I won’t be holding my breath…

seven months does not an expert make…but i’m having fun in the process…hugmamma.  😉