SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED – Marilyn Armstrong

We are shaken, but not stirred

I read all the James Bond books before they made it into the movies. I loved the books and for me, the movies were more like parodies than anything to do with Ian Fleming’s writing. The whole martini thing about “Shaken, not stirred,” always struck me as weird.

Why would it make a difference? Not being a drinker of any kind, much less a martini drinker, I’m probably the wrong one to ask.

Nonetheless, we are personally shaken even if not fully stirred.

Garry at the Police station in Uxbridge

In the course of a month and a half, we’ve been the victim of an intended more than $7000 in credit card theft. Yesterday, I realized for the first time (I can be a little slow on the uptake) that this started at least three weeks before I realized anything was happening and continued after I was sure it was fixed.

I think it’s fixed now. I hope so because I have done absolutely everything I was supposed to do. We are lucky we didn’t lose any of our so-called money. The credit card companies are less lucky and have spanked us thoroughly on our credit ratings. Not that I can blame them. They’ve taken the entire hit leaving us shaken and fearful. Feeling incredibly vulnerable. But no poorer than we were before.

Main street in late June

I didn’t know how bad it was until I looked at my monthly credit report. Credit Karma is free. They track your credit, the amounts you’ve spent, suggest cheaper cards or loans … and they are really free. If you are not a member, I suggest you sign up. If I hadn’t looked at the report, I would not have known what was happening.

One card leaped off the screen at me, a card on which I knew I had used less than $1000 in credit and suddenly, a $5000 bill was staring at me. I called the company. Because the card had already been declared as damaged — involved in a fraud attempt — it was closed. I couldn’t actually get to any information online and had no idea about how much money had been taken. It looked like much more than I had thought.

Back to the post office to file the reports. Round two. Hopefully the final round.

The guy at the bank gave me a list — down to the penny — of all the hits. I felt sick. Until I saw that report, I had no idea something had been going on. There were no flare guns, no strange packages, nothing to alert me. It had been going on since the beginning of May, more than 3 weeks before I knew there was a problem. A week more before I realized the extent of the problem. The day before yesterday, I got it.

“This is considered identity theft, ” the bank manager said. This was confirmed by the guy at the police station because we had to go back with all this additional information. Previously, all I knew about attempted thefts. This was the real deal. The took the money and laughed all the way to the shops where they bought stuff.

Truck parts. Lots of truck parts. I didn’t know truck parts could cost so much money, but I suppose when you steal them for free, whatever you get for them on the market is “free money” for you. Not for me or the bank, but a hop, skip, plus a little jump, made some thief happy.

A quick trip to the grocery. Frozen pizza for dinner. I was in no mood for cooking.

I assume big parts of our own private military hackers are on top of this stuff. Even though nothing is reported in the press, I would imagine this doesn’t get a lot of press coverage. All it would do is warn the targets.

The brightest — and funniest — moment of the day is when Garry called me from the police station and when I looked at the phone, it said “Interview Room 3.” It was a very NCIS moment.

I have alerted the police, all three credit monitoring agencies, filed reports with everyone. Deleted embedded copies of my credit cards from anywhere I knew they existed. Each time I use a shop, I will have to replace the card numbers then and as soon as the transaction is complete, delete it.

No matter what anyone says, if they are keeping your credit card information, your data is NOT secure.

These days, I’m not sure what secure even means.

IN STARK CONTRAST – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC

IN STARK CONTRAST TO EVERYTHING WE CLAIM TO STAND FOR, AMERICA ISN’T AMERICAN. NOT ANYMORE.


Watching our “officials” deny the undeniable — with the head of Homeland Security saying she hadn’t seen or heard anything about snatching children from their parents while on the split screen you could see it happening — America isn’t American.

Like most countries, we have plenty of dirty laundry. Slaughters of our Native Americans which was for many long years the actual policy of the U.S. government and its armed forces. Homemade concentration camps for Japanese citizens in World War II.

Then, there was slavery, the huge, bloody war we fought to (supposedly) end it. The neverending inequality and hatred that still remains and is still growing.

In an image provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, immigrants taken into custody at the border sit in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, on Sunday. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection / AP)

But what we are doing today, tearing kids away from their families and locking them in cages — especially after having fought our way through World War 2 to end such monstrous behavior — this is as evil as anything else we’ve ever done and I am ashamed to be American.

Someone else asked it this morning in a post: “So when do we start loading parents and kids on trains to those final camps?”

Because that’s what’s left. If we accept this as “Just Trump being Trump and it’s all a media lie,” then we are as bad as they are, as evil as they come.

The authorities released this image of illegal migrants inside a large cage – reporters said they saw unaccompanied children in similar conditions.

If you have a line in the sand, some kind of conscience that screams “this is the line I cannot cross,” now would be a good time to look down at your feet and stop.

I don’t know how to live in this country anymore. I’m not sure I even want to — and I was born here as was my mother and father.

THE ODD BALL CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: June 17, 2018

I think I actually have a couple of odd ones for the day! Try not to faint with excitement. Around here, I do the fainting!

I still have a lot of pictures remaining from those we took the last time we went out. Rather than just developing everything, I’ve been taking it easy and processing what I need when I think I need it.

Also, I’ve been going back to see what’s still waiting for me in previous outings. It turns out — a LOT.

Bonnie was groomed and Garry simply has to show her off!
Generations by the Blackstone in June
Sisters playing by the river. Can you see the ripple where she threw the stone?
He wanders to the bank only to realize the bank is a mess of sucking mud. Now, he is wandering to see what else the park might offer.

JUNE IS SQUARE – ROOF 19 – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s that time of year again and squares are back! 

The roof on the museum at the Tea Party Wharf in Boston. I don’t know if the building is an antique. It probably is because almost all the building there are pretty old. I very much enjoyed the museum and the old boats along the pier.

Well, the theme is ROOFS (or rooves if you prefer). Your roof can be;

A – Any type, any condition, any size, and in any location.
B – It could be a shot across rooftops, of one roof like today or even a macro
C – You might prefer to spend some time under the eaves and in the attic, or enjoy the view from above as Brian has already done today.


See you tomorrow!

OSTENTATION – Marilyn Armstrong

WHO’S OSTENTATIOUS?

FOWCYou must be talking about someone else. We live in an old house, drive an old (yet somehow, not fully paid for) car. We wear ratty clothing (it’s really because of the dogs — nice clothing would just get covered by hair, so what’s the point?). We live in a town where you couldn’t buy a luxury item for love or money. No one sells luxury items unless you count the lumber yard or Walmart as luxury purveyors.

You know what’s really weird? I have never had any interest in impressing the world with my goods. I occasionally envy someone’s location. They live in a particularly beautiful place or near an ocean … but of all my sins, envy isn’t one of them. I come from a family where comparing things you bought is not about how much you spent, but how much you saved. As in: “I got this $400 suit for $25 on the super clearance rack!”

That’s bragging. Telling people you paid the full price for any item? Why would that impress anyone?

It’s probably why we aren’t rich. To become wealthy, you have to care about money and we’ve simply never cared enough. These days, though, I wish we’d cared a little more.

A THIRD ORCHID AND STILL EXCITED ABOUT FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

ORCHIDS – PLANT OF THE DAY

I’ve been watching for a new orchid. Every day I check. Did another bud open yet? Today, there it was. The third flower is in bloom.

I got all excited. I was going to go take pictures, but it turned out to be four o’clock which is the dog’s dinner time, so I had to stop and feed them. As soon as they finished choking down the food — they really eat as if no one ever feeds them — I grabbed two cameras. First, the OMD with the macro lens and the tiny Pentax Q with its fast “normal lens.

It was a bright day and I hoped I’d have enough light to get clean shots with the macro. The Pentax Q was my fallback position.

“I’m so excited,” I told Garry. “I didn’t use to get excited about plants.”I stopped when I said that because I realized I was lying. When I lived in New York, my whole first floor looked like a greenhouse. I had hundreds of plants. Hanging and standing. Tall and flat. And they were literally everywhere you looked.

I had special stands made on which to put the plants in which I could put water so the heat from the radiators would turn to mist and keep them from drying out. People I didn’t know would leave me cuttings on my porch. I was, in fact, know as “The Plant Lady” unless it was someone to whom I had given a cat or dog, in which case I was the cat or dog lady.

To say I didn’t get excited about plants was an out-and-out lie. No one who doesn’t get excited about plants grows a few hundred of them indoors.

“Okay,” I said, having rethought my original statement. “I guess I do get excited about plants.”

Garry remembers the house on Dikeman Street. I didn’t have curtains. The plants covered the windows in every room on the ground floor. I had a miniature hose which attached to my kitchen faucet so I could water them in a couple of hours.

I had started out with maybe three plants, but there were clippings and the arboretum had a sale. And people gave me plants. Cuttings. Ferns.

And all I did was water them when they got dry and make sure they got a reasonable amount of light. When I left for Israel, I had to give away my plants. I had one hanging fern that was about five feet around. I gave to friends as a wedding present. They looked puzzled. A fern? A gigantic fern?

“Water it when it gets dry and be sure it gets light. It doesn’t need full sun, just light.” I have no idea what happened to it because the next day, I was on a plane to Israel where I had to rethink my plant choices. The balcony on which I grew my plants, was on the south side of the house. It got hot, semi-tropical sun from mid-morning until dark. Most plants fried in that kind of sunshine.

It turned out the only plants that could cope with it were petunias, hanging geraniums — which have simply got to be the most versatile plants available — and cactus. Everything else burned to a crisp.

So here I am, 41 years later. I still get excited about plants. I don’t have as many of them — indoors, just a half-dozen. I don’t have the energy to maintain a huge indoor greenhouse. Moreover, we don’t have enough light to grow most of the plants I grew in those less golden olden days.

If Renoir lived here …

I did get a third blossom on the orchids, though. That makes up for a lot, even if my outdoor garden is a terrible mess.

I am expecting one more flower in about a week.

BOSTON HARBOR FROM FAR ABOVE THE ROOFLINE – SQUARE ROOFS #18 – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s that time of year again and squares are back! 

It’s dusk. From the 33rd floor of the State Street skyscraper overlooking Boston Harbor. Not an easy shot as I’m dressed for a wedding and the only camera I have is a rather pathetic one in my not-so-new mobile phone.

Yet it’s a magnificent sight. I’m glad I’m able to get any pictures at all.

You can see many rooves along the harbor, from 250-year-old warehouses to other tall building. But this building was the tallest of all!


Well, the theme is ROOFS (or rooves if you prefer). Your roof can be;

A – Any type, any condition, any size, and in any location.
B – It could be a shot across rooftops, of one roof like today or even a macro
C – You might prefer to spend some time under the eaves and in the attic, or enjoy the view from above as Brian has already done today.


See you tomorrow!