Friday, June 30, 2017

Tips and Tricks – Consequences of Credit Card Fraud

If you have ever found fraudulent purchases on your credit card I hope you are like my father. He not only acted quickly, so did the issuing bank, canceling the card without question.

The next step required contacting several institutions automatically billing that credit card for repeat services. They all needed updated information, a tedious endeavor.

While only diligence will protect our finances, my father thinks he found a fix for the ensuing hassle. Once again he dedicated a single credit card to monthly online bill pay. This time he is keeping that card out of his wallet and (he hopes) safe at home.

It seemed a good idea, though I intend to simply maintain my old habits. A few minutes each morning allow me to confirm the integrity of my credit line and bank accounts. So far, I’ve seen no illicit activity.

What safeguard do you take? Do you check your credit card and bank statements daily?


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dragon Slayer

Cruising through the southern United States the other day I noticed an increasing number of motorcycles on the road. Other than being extra cautious around them, I thought no more of it. One group of bikers, in a rush for some reason, risked passing me and the obnoxious slow driver ahead before I managed to get past that goofball, as well.

Photo Credit: Clutch and Chrome Magazine
Following them I saw signs announcing motorcycle friendly motels and taverns, a Harley Davidson dealership, as well as dozens of two wheeled vehicles coming the other direction. And lots of signs touted dragon silhouettes. After no small amount of time a traffic sign indicated a high accident area for the next eleven miles.

Without undue worry I found my awareness heightening as the turns twisted tighter, became more frequent. As my single lane gained altitude I noticed professional photographers stationed along the way. That’s when it hit me (nothing literal, thank heaven).

I was driving the Tail of the Dragon!

Otherwise known as US Route 129, this stretch bordering the states of Tennessee and North Carolina is a destination known to draw both motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts. In fact these eleven miles are considered to be one of the greatest challenges a biker can face (hence the photographers, who will sell an image of your excited face back to you via website).

And I saw that fact when one motorcyclist became my biggest hazard. Just when she zoomed out of sight I would round another hairpin curve to find her just yards ahead, way too close for comfort. Imagine my relief when another from her group lagged behind the rest and urged her onto a designated pull-off point.

Many miles later my partner had the presence of mind to send a text message asking a close friend if he ever took this drive. Phoenix said he had not, but planned to next year (yes, our motorcycle enthusiast buddy is nicknamed after the mythical bird). I grabbed the smart phone and bragged about driving it ahead of him. His teasing response failed to deflate me (much).

“Cars don’t count.”

The heck they don’t. So maybe I wasn’t in a Corvette or Porsche, I zigged and zagged through all 318 curves without white knuckling the wheel once.

So phooey on you, Phoenix. I call this a win.

Are you a driving enthusiast like me? Would you challenge the dragon?


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Come Frolic in the Electric Forest

Here in the United States I’ve attended many music concerts over the years. One local campground used to feature an all day festival that rocked my summers. I’m still sorry that era came to an end.

Recently I learned about an eight day event called Electric Forest held at the Double J Ranch in Michigan. I’ve wanted to attend ever since.

Unfortunately the area saw five inches of rain before last weekend’s opening. Still folks flooded in (pun intended) for a fun, crazy time. The difference between this and the average music festival is that so much of the venue has woods versus open fields.

Life and family duties prevented my wish coming true, at least for this year, so I’ve been haunting websites for cool images. Take a look at some of the psychedelic night views.

Welcome to the Forest

I Presume This is a Stop Motion Image


And Music, of Course
Daytime looks fun, too. At least I can imagine being there.

You Can Try to Get Close or Listen from Wooded Seclusion

Attendees Get Creative

Meet New Friends & Even Marry the One You Brought ...

... Like This Cute Couple Should Do

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Thirty Years? Where Has the Time Gone?

I just learned the movie “Spaceballs” came out three decades ago. That doesn’t seem possible. I missed seeing it until well after the theatrical release and wish some local cinema would screen it today.

In lieu of that I may have to pop in the DVD tonight. The only Mel Brooks movie I like better would have to be “Young Frankenstein” for the horror theme and incredible cast.

But it doesn’t feature John Candy. I still miss him. What a mensch with an incredible gift for making audiences smile and laugh.

Do you have a favorite John Candy role? If you're not a fan, please don't tell me. ~grin~ Just say you can't pick a favorite .


Friday, June 23, 2017

Not an Oxford Comma

My perennial garden was designed primarily for bees and butterflies. One day I was fortunate to photograph this Eastern Comma enjoying a purple coneflower.

Breakfast on the Fly

A common species, this one struck me as particularly exceptional. My attempt to film video fell short of capturing the beauty, however.
Red Admiral Reporting for Duty
While I just get lucky sometimes (and compositions are far from ideal), I know quite a few bloggers are prolific and gifted photographers.

Carpenter Bee Near the Walkway
 If you enjoy photography, what is your favorite subject?


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Yet Another Lesson Learned

As lessons go, I’ve suffered more expensive ones. However, this morning has been more frustrating than my usual.

It all started with a good thing – the extensive amount of time I spend writing. As a result I wore out my laptop battery. Fortunately I found one reasonably priced and shipped ‘free’ from an online company.

(I use quotation marks because anything not charged separately is somehow built into the product price; mark my word)

The unit arrived yesterday. I promptly installed it and left my computer plugged in all night.

Today I turned the machine on only to get a message of incompatibility. I should have checked the battery model number, instead going with my laptop model number and trusting the website’s recommendation.

The website lied. Now I know to check the battery model. Lesson learned, payment begins.

My partner has been kind in offering to ship the battery back for a ‘refund’. I use quotes again because this company only offers store credit. Plus they charge a fifteen percent restocking fee, of course, on top of our cost in shipping.

I’m wondering if it’s even worth returning, especially when the receipt claims they shipped a different model number than is listed on the battery (neither matching my dying battery’s number, by the way). I can just imagine the company denying our claim.

It’s uncertain where I will purchase a replacement battery. I know this is environmentally unfriendly, but I really just want to take the thing to the big Knob Creek machine gun shoot.

What would you do?

PS Does anyone need a Lenovo Thinkpad battery model number 42T4751? I'll give it to you if you'll pay the shipping.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nightmare in Atlanta

Talking to my brother the other day I was shocked to learn he got stranded in the Atlanta, Georgia airport for three whole days. Tornadoes ripped through that part of the United States and well over a thousand Delta Airline flights were cancelled.

Chaos ensued. With inadequate seating, motel accommodations, or any means of escape stranded passengers sat or lay on the floor.

There were no rental cars available, even, the lots literally empty. My brother saw it with his own eyes after online rental car booking gave him a useless confirmation, the harried agent turning him away.

Walking alongside others from one terminal to another on an endless wild goose chase, the poor man barely ate or slept trying to reach first his original destination and then to just get home. He spent five hours in one line alone.

And every subsequent flight was canceled, sometimes due to a flight crew or attendant shortage. By the time he actually escaped to an area motel he carried a stack of useless boarding passes. Able to at last shower, mentally and physically exhausted, he collapsed in the bed and slept through two wake-up alarms.

Upon learning that he would not get a flight home until Sunday (!), he researched other travel options and found himself in the same straits with Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses. Neither offered a direct route. Nobody, it seemed, could get him home any sooner.

Finally he reached an upper manager of his company, the folks for whom he traveled. Don’t you know that manager booked a completely new flight and got my brother out in three hours? My brother recognized many faces of those still stranded and believes Delta essentially lost them in the system.

At home he emailed the airline to complain. An automatic response informed him that someone would respond in sixty to ninety days. Nice, huh?

What a nightmare. It makes me want to just stay home. Never hearing about this on the news I did find articles. This one doesn’t do the story justice, though the bride missing her wedding made me sad.

What about you? Do you like to travel? What’s your favorite mode of transportation?


Monday, June 19, 2017

Subtract, Don’t Add

Editing and polishing my series is proving quite rewarding. With every pass I delete extraneous verbiage to the point a thirteen thousand word tale might end up being closer to twelve thousand, my tightened storytelling all the stronger for it.

Today that process reminded me of the movie “The Birdcage” when a gay couple wants to please the son they raised together after his engagement to the daughter of a moralistic right wing senator. Before the main hijincks ensue, a group of drag queens work to transform the apartment of their boss and his partner/star performer. Val, the son, sees someone carrying in a moose head and implores them not to add, only to subtract.

I can’t resist sharing a favorite scene between the wonderful Nathan Lane and the late great Robin Williams. There is one expletive, but I consider it overall family friendly and work safe.

Have you seen “The Birdcage”? Gene Hackman, Diane Wiest, and Hank Azaria are just wonderful in it, too.


Friday, June 16, 2017

First Cucumber of the Season


Retired just over a year, my partner is excited to dig into vegetable gardening (pun definitely intended). At least I have some help this season.

Seeing the premier cucumber paraded in, I couldn’t resist taking a picture. My dirty mind saw beyond the dining potential.

I Know, Right? Cliché
But Makes My Mouth Water

Eyes rolling, my partner promptly made cucumber salad with a nice rice vinegar dressing. Guess what I’m having with lunch?


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Darla’s Tips and Tricks

Years ago I bought a cool bracelet online - simple thin leather cords bound by a silver clasp. My favorite part might be the snug fit since I have such narrow wrists. This one won’t fall off and get lost. The sizing also caused a problem, however.

Many were the times I struggled to latch its clasp to the point of giving up and going out on the town without. Fast forward to a time when I accumulated a plethora of crafting materials like felt and pipe cleaners (there are various whimsical critters around the house as a result).

One day an idea popped into my head. Why not fold a pipe cleaner in two to get a grip on the clasp?

Success! Now it takes moments instead of minutes to don my bracelet. I wear it more than any other piece because black leather suits my taste and goes with anything.

Back in Black!
Do you have any similar tricks that make little tasks easier?


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lesson Learned

Note to self: don garden gloves before handling cucumber plants. Otherwise that invisible little scratch on the back of an index finger swells into a throbbing, itching little ache.

I should know better, not even walking the yard without full foot coverage.  Hurray for liquid bandage killing some of the urge to scratch and rub.

In honor of my stupidity I want to share the video matching my title, if not the content.

WARNING: Video is not safe for work (NSFW) or suitable for children. There is seriously implied violence, lots of nudity, and intense sexual content. Good stuff. ~grin~ Gotta love Alice in Chains videos.

Do you grow a summer vegetable garden? Are you like my partner anticipating lots of preservation canning?


Monday, June 12, 2017

The Zen of Writing

I have found rewriting and polishing the fifth story in my Blood Moon series slowing to a crawl the last few days. There seems to be some minor change in every single paragraph. Sometimes one edit informs another, earlier in the story, and I find myself going back and forth.

It’s not tedious, though. Rather, I feel like I’m shaping bonsai. I make a careful trim here, move a shaping wire a millimeter there, step back to take a look, and ease in for another snip.

By the time I got halfway through the novelette I removed over one thousand, one hundreds words, the storytelling tighter as a result. And with rewrites continuing in this Zen manner I expect to finish today and either move on to book six or resume the intensive revamping of book fifteen. We shall see.

However physically industrious or whimsically intellectual, is there a particular project absorbing you these days? Let me know in the comments. Meanwhile I’m off to read chapter eleven!


Friday, June 9, 2017

A Nod to Megan Morgan

In the past, on a different blog, I enjoyed interviewing other authors for a time. It was informative, exciting, and I like to think beneficial to them in a modest way. Now I’m too busy satisfying my muse for such pursuits.

That said, I found a fellow writer toward the end of April’s A to Z Blog Challenge who caught my attention. While I didn’t contact this person regarding my idea, I have to share Megan Morgan’s acerbic, tongue-in-cheek fiction writing warnings resonating real world concerns.

Following is the thoughtfully provided alphabetic listing of all the ironic tells of writing, editing, and publishing ins and outs:

Are you a writer? If so, do you share my lacking ambition to be published?

By the way, I thank Nick Wilford for leading me to this. His Scattergun Scribblings inspires me, too.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Icing Down for the Win

A while back I suffered a painless twitch in my right middle finger. I joked on Facebook that while the minor condition made for some amusing typos at least it wasn’t flipping off random strangers.

As a result I got some friendly hints such as adjusting my keyboard placement (further away) and obtaining an ergonomic one (I’m happy to say my Bluetooth keyboard is). Another kind acquaintance suggested a tip I decided to share here.

She recommended dunking each hand and wrist into ice water for twenty seconds once a day. Afterward, let them rest while the temperature returns to normal. I decided to try it.

So far I’ve only done so twice. But there has been no wrist pain or finger twitching in a good while, so I hope this will help maintain that. The advice may be harder to follow come winter since I have a minor case of Reynaud’s Syndrome, a circulation disorder, but that’s a long way off. I just wish this could help those I know in chronic pain.

What about you? Do you have a tip for those many of us writers, bloggers, and office workers who spend too much time on computers?


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Best Vanity Plate Ever

Minding my own business driving home from the YMCA one day I saw something that made me burst out laughing. The car ahead displayed a rear license plate with the letters ME B N ME.

Say it with me: Me Bein’ Me.

Now one could argue that there are other equally clever number/letter combinations. Just today I saw CA88BYM which I could only guess indicated “Cabby Mom”, though it might be a stretch. I've no doubt the unusual arrangement was intentional.

'Me bein’ me' just speaks to me, my independent nature. I’m too much a cheapskate to shell out extra money for such frivolity even if I were half so clever. By the same token I didn't have a smart phone on hand to photograph either vanity plate.

Would you pay extra to send the world a message with your vehicle? Are custom license plates even a thing in your region?


Monday, June 5, 2017

Embracing My Power Animal

Totem animals tying to our human spirit is a worldwide shamanic concept. The symbolism might be powerful, but what comes to mind are comedic pop culture references such as in the movie “Fight Club” and an episode of the absurdly fun cartoon show “Metalocalypse”.

Left to Right: Bassist William Murderface as the Tiger, Drummer Pickles Befitting as an Octopus, Lead Singer Nathan Explosion as a Cobra, Lead Guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf as the Owl, and My Favorite, Gentle Rhythm Guitarist Toki Wartooth as a Rabbit

WARNING: Video is Not Safe for Work

I found a quiz online, too. It takes a few minutes. My animal is supposedly the butterfly, which I find amusing after Saturday night’s bedtime revelation.

It began like any other night. I pulled aside the covers preparing to lie down. But this time I found a centipede racing toward me. I yelped, leapt backward into the bathroom, and flipped the light switch.

The thing veered away, down, and under the bed. Exhausted, I shrugged and lay down. Sleep followed soon after, but not before I realized a need to rethink my relationship with these creepy crawlies. After all, they hunt and kill harmful insects that could otherwise invade my home bringing disease.

In addition, all the floods inflicted upon our home have all but convinced me the place is infested by a water sprite. What loves water? Centipedes.

I don’t think my totem creature is the butterfly. Mine has no wings but a fierce predatory spirit and plenty of venom. I can live with that.

What about you? Would (or did) you take the quiz?


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Food that Makes Me Hapi – An International Shopping Experience

No, that last word is not a typo. I am just a big fan of Hapi brand Japanese snacks. You can see the truth in the photo.

Anyway, on Thursday we really needed to go grocery shopping. My partner suggested something out of the ordinary from our local grocer and I agreed. So we packed a cooler with freezer packs and drove south toward Cincinnati, Ohio in the Midwest United States.

Not a long drive; oh, is it worthwhile. Besides the snack stuffs pictured and that wonderful sizzling Hungarian style bacon we brought home a sour cherry flavored goat cheese spread, fresh baked crusty bread, jellied tongue deli slices, and packages of frozen natto (fermented soybean, a traditional Japanese breakfast food over steamed rice – yum). There is more, too. We spent about $150 and really stocked up.

The Jalapeño Crisps are Mine; My Partner Gets the Chocolate

Sometimes it’s not so bad living in a flyover state packed with boring chain restaurants. I just wish we could pull up a stretch of oceanfront beach. ~sigh~ Thank heaven for Jungle Jim’s!

Are you a foodie? Leave a comment describing a favorite eating adventure.


Friday, June 2, 2017

A Libertarian Rant

For years I have felt the United States government’s war on drugs to be misguided, at best. Political agendas have always played a big role and lots of suffering results. Now we are reaping the horrors of irresponsible pain med prescriptions.

My little town is like many others facing epidemic heroin addiction and subsequent crime. We need reforms to help addicted persons, not imprison them. So many people might still be around, like the talented Philip Seymour Hoffman and long lost comedian Mitch Hedberg, not to mention the destroyed potential of countless everyday citizens.

That said, I don’t know how to change things and must defer to those wiser than me to help make the situation better. I hope the future finds science debunking myths about many illegal substances, our legal system backing down from the fiscal and human waste of this war. I'd like to see the legitimate benefits of substances like LSD allowed to improve conditions such as crippling anxiety.

I’ll get off my soapbox now and leave you with something to smile about. Enjoy.

WARNING: Might not be safe for work.

Love the Nod to an Old Candy Commercial


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Young Love

I just discovered something adorable. They’re a young couple, not yet in their thirties, who dress alike in every photograph. Heck, maybe they coordinate when apart, too.

Jealous? Who, Me?
Polo shirt and khaki shorts day? Better wear complimentary pendants, too. Or maybe they change things up with baseball caps and concert T’s. Another day might be designated denim – jeans and long sleeved shirts.

Let's go with pinstriped dress shirts! Even their smiles match. I tell you, it’s so cute I can hardly stand it. The closest I come to doing this is the cat fur on my clothes.

What about you? Would you dress like your significant other?