Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How The Chopper Has Ruined My Life


It looked like an ordinary package when it arrived in the mail. Never would I have guessed how a device that was designed for convenience would completely take over my kitchen. The chopper had become an all-consuming event for my husband and younger son. They would constantly discuss what vegetables my husband should pick up from the store, so they could work feverishly slicing and dicing to create gourmet dinner salads for two. 

At first I was thrilled to give up my position as head of the kitchen, until I realized I was demoted to chief bottle washer. They had all the glory, while I was still stuck cleaning up their messes. Slowly my kitchen was turning into a battlefield, and I was the enemy. I never knew what I would step in, or what might come crashing down on me from the ceiling. I was forced to walk around my own kitchen wearing goggles, and combat boots with a fully loaded Swiffer.

Then the cravings began. I started gaining weight from watching their healthy eating. I couldn't exist on salad, so I would make myself a grilled cheese sandwich on bread that actually tasted like bread. Of course I had to have some chips with it, and things continued to get uglier, and uglier. When they looked up at me in disgust I cried out, "I can't live on horse food."

The other night when my husband was calmly chopping away, he noticed an important ingredient was missing from his salad. As his left nostril began to flare, I decided to text our son at work, "Did you kidnap Dad's avocado?"

I can't tell you how many times I've texted him without receiving any response. In this case, he knew it was an emergency, and instantly got back to me. Our son explained that he took the rest of the avocado with him to work, and half of it had gone bad already. He also mentioned that he told his dad to pick up another one at his favorite store on his way home from the office. Then I responded, "Dad did get another one, but it isn't ripe yet. I hope someday he'll forgive you."

At first he didn't realize I was kidding, and couldn't stop apologizing. When I think about all of the clothes, cell phones, and electronic devices that never made it home from college without a second thought, and how he was guilt-ridden about a single avocado, it proves my theory that there really is such a thing as eating too many fruits and vegetables. 

Sorry to cut this short, but it's three o'clock, and I must start cooking dinner before my kitchen is taken over by the mad choppers. Fortunately, I only had to make the reservation in my own kitchen a month in advance.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Phishing For The Meaning Behind Calls From My Own Caller ID


Early this morning I awoke with a start. When our house phone rang, the caller ID listed our home number. How is that possible?  Suddenly, I felt like Drew Barrymore (above) in the movie Scream. I nervously picked up the phone expecting the person on the other end to say, "Are you alone in the house?"  Instead I got a recorded message urging me to find out more about lowering my credit card rates. I'm not sure if I was imagining the heavy breathing or not, but I showed them, by quickly hanging up.

Later, I went to CNBC contributor, Herb Weisbaum for answers. He spoke to Bikram Bandy, head of the Do Not Call program at the FTC, "A person's own phone number is not likely to be on the blacklist, so these telemarketers hope to beat the filtering software by spoofing that number."

According to the Council of Better Business Bureaus, I could have been the victim of one of several different "phishing scams." If I had stayed on the line longer, the "robo call" might have asked me  to "verify my credit card number under the guise of lowering (my) interest rates."  

The BBB offered these common sense tips on What to do if a scammer calls:
  • Hang up. Don't press any buttons and, if you received a message, don't call the scammer back. It may give the con artist information he/she can use.
  • Don't trust Caller ID. Scammers have technology that lets them display any number or organization name on your screen.
  • Never give out any financial information. If you did not initiate the call, do not provide bank account, credit card, or Social Security numbers over the phone unless you have thoroughly done your research and verified the caller.

Just when I was starting to feel better about learning how to protect myself from scammers, I heard how showering can be a dangerous experience.


In a recent study conducted by two dermatologists, daily showers were shown to put your body at risk. As mentioned on the Today Show, "Showering too often: dehydrates skin, irritates skin, washes away good bacteria, and increases risk of infection." The dermatologists recommend showering every two to three days in frigid weather depending on "how active you are."

Now I look forward to ignoring both familiar and unfamiliar phone calls, while lying around in my own filth. Why do I suddenly feel like I'm living a college boy's dream?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

IWSG: Awkward Introductions

Welcome to the first installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group of 2015.  As a fresh start to the new year, Alex J. Cavanaugh asked us to open with an introduction about ourselves. I began blogging almost four years ago when we became empty nesters after our younger son went away to college. Because I knew my kids would never speak to me again if I picked on them too much in public, I started writing about my mom who in her own words, "Never has, and never will be a burden."

Through Facebook, I reconnected with high school friend Rhonda Albom, who told me about the A to Z April Challenge, and from there I met Arlee Bird, and  Alex J. Cavanaugh, founder of the IWSG. Through the support of the IWSG, and the friendships I've formed in blogland, I was proud to publish a poetry anthology with seven very talented women last September. My partner in rhyme for Old Broads Waxing Poetic,  Susan Flett Swiderski, and I met during  A to Z, as well as Delores. Though we didn't meet until later, Joanne, also participated in the challenge. In addition,  Robyn  and  Liza, along with our cover designer Michael, are all part of the IWSG. Thanks also to Daisy and  Fishducky. All of you have proven that it truly does take a village.

After I graduated from college, my brother introduced me to another person I will always be grateful to. It turns out that she belonged to the same organization that I was a member of in college. Women In Communication Inc. or WICI. This led to an interview at a financial magazine that I didn't even know was hiring. It's amazing how being involved in one group (WICI) led to my first job, and how the Insecure Writer's Support Group  led to my first book about thirty years later.

Back then introductions were a lot easier than they are now. An eager college graduate, is often perceived quite differently than an eager middle-aged person. In some situations an older person's enthusiasm can come off as being anxious, desperate, or even downright creepy. While a young person is respected for being ambitious, a middle-aged person may be frowned upon for trying too hard.

That's what makes the IWSG so special. It's a rare place where the jocks, techies, cheerleaders, mathletes, theater geeks, and class clowns all sit at the cool table in the cafeteria. A place where you're always welcome with open arms no matter where you are on your writing journey. Although Alex does draw the line at people who still wear white after Labor Day.