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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Thanksgiving is Better Than Sex?!?! by Marianne Stephens

How many of us think about sex when Thanksgiving rolls around? Aren't your days filled with menu planning, inviting dinner guests, food shopping, preparing some items ahead for "the big day", etc.?

I guess sex could be a great stress relief option, but who has time? Aren't you exhausted days before Thanksgiving, the day of (especially if you're feeding more than a small army of people), and for days after?

Some might even go so far as to say Thanksgiving dinner is better than sex...but, of course, that would never suit a romance reader or author! Men...those guys from "Mars"...might have a different opinion, however!

The following (minus some images and with a few modifications from me) comes from


10. You're sure to get at least one of your favorite dishes.

9. The turkey never suffers from modesty.

8. You can nibble before dinner even if Mom sees you.

7. You are expected to pass the dishes around.

6. There are always at least two kinds of desert, with or without whipped cream.

5. They give you the day off WITH pay to have dinner.

4. Thanksgiving dinner is a "sure" thing.

3. Seconds are encouraged. Take home, too!

2. You're expected to fall asleep after dinner. (for men)

And the number 1 reason why Thanksgiving dinner is better than sex:

1. You are EXPECTED to watch football BEFORE and AFTER dinner! (again, for men)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Marianne Stephens
photo: Flickr:Ellie's photostream

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Who's coming for dinner?

Got out the box of Thanksgiving stuff right after Veteran's Day and found someone had been hiding inside. Didn't want him to miss the holiday, so he's tucked among the very few Thanksgiving decorations I have. But it's always nice to have a surprise guest for dinner, right?

Thanksgiving is a holiday with a lot of history behind it in the United States, but also a lot of history that’s just…wrong. I get a kick out of that in a way. It shows the organic change and development in a society. With a government that’s only a bit over 200 years old and made of a hodge-podge of cultures, it really is kind of fascinating when you ask a handful of people what Thanksgiving means to them and get a dozen different answers/

Almost any school kid knows that the “first” Thanksgiving was celebrated by the pilgrims and the friendly Native Americans after the first successful harvest back in 1621. That much is true—the Plymouth settlers did have a feast with their new neighbors, but that was far from the first such celebration in the Americas. The Spanish had been doing it for a while, as had the Jamestown settlers. In a deeply religious era, this should come as no surprise. Many harvest festivals and days of giving thanks occurred in all the years to follow, but it wasn’t universally acknowledged for centuries. Washington proclaimed one in 1789, and again in 1795. After that, it was a sporadic thing, not taking hold on a permanent basis until Lincoln’s presidency in 1863.

The meal, too has varied over the years, and many of the foods that would have been there—turkey, quite possibly, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and corn are still staples of our holiday fare today. Venison—well, not quite so much, unless you’ve a hunter in the family. Oysters? Only if you’re in New England, or put them in the stuffing. Eels? Lobster? Not so much. Potatoes hadn’t made their way up from Central America yet, and the custardy pumpkin pie wouldn’t come along for years. Thanksgiving traditions became largely regional, with large elements coming from whatever immigrant cultures made up a local population. The Thanksgiving dinner as we know it, really didn’t evolve until the twentieth century—helped along by Norman Rockwell and others who wanted to boost American morale and sense of community during the Depression and World War II.

Other traditions are even newer, but have become a vital part of the day. Football. Parades. The big gear-up for the Christmas shopping season. The religious origins of the holiday are important to some and not so much to others. Many see it as a day to get together and celebrate with family, others find time to relax with friends. Most folks I know agree that no matter your religious beliefs, it’s good to take a day once in a while to think about the positive things in life. While we all have our problems, taking one day to focus on the good can be a badly needed wake-up call.

My own Thanksgiving is low-key. There wpn't be a lot of extended family, just my kids and grandkids, along with a few folks who are family-by choice.There will be a ginormous turkey dinner, cooked by my amazing husband for whomever shows up. There might be a parade, if I turn it on for the grandkids. There might be football, but Dungeons and Dragons or Warhammer are more likely. There will be laughter and time spent together. And that’s all I need.

Harvest blessings to you and yours.

Cindy Spencer Pape

Saturday, November 10, 2018

HOW DID YOU GET MY NUMBER? How To Avoid Telephone Scams

Posted by R. Ann Siracusa

You yell at the telemarketer on the telephone, “How the #$%^ did you people get my private telephone number?”
Then you slam down the receiver and, swearing again, flop on the couch with a migraine headache coming to a full boil at the back of your head.
Has this ever happened to you?
Whether we like it or not, any time we give personal information to anyone-- to social media, businesses / financial institutions, even the doctor’s office--we potentially give away a means of contact for someone who wants to sell you something or scam you. Often we divulge the information because the conditions of obtaining the product or service require that we cough it up and spit it out on their application form. Tough apples. Try telling a doctor's receptionist you won't give her your Social Security number.
We also receive in the mail (or it’s written in fine print somewhere on the application) disclosure notices which inform us how our private information is shared. Federal law allows consumers the ability to limit some, but not all, sharing. To invoke the limitations, you must opt out by signing the documents the company sends you.
Do you read the small print? Do you sign and mail off the disclosure forms every year for every credit card, financial institution, vendor, etc. providing the option? The consequences, whether you opt out or not, seem to be a deluge of unwanted telephone calls from telemarketers, from business doing construction or something else in your neighborhood and want to drop by, from charities, from politicians, from everyone pursuing a cause and, most dangerous of all, from scammers.
Occasionally, we get phone calls from people we know or do business with.

The Federal Trade Commission tells us robocalls -- automated telephone calls that deliver a recorded message, typically on behalf of a political party or telemarketing company -- are the number one complaint they receive.
In 2017 alone there were 7,157,370 complaints filed against robocallers and telemarketers. And how many of us have never filed a complaint?
There are a number of ways to protect yourself. Remember, both the telemarketer and  scammer want you to pick up the phone and talk, and they don’t want to give you time to think.
Don’t Answer calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize. People with legitimate reasons for calling will leave a message.
Don’t give away financial and sensitive personal information (address, date of birth, bank information, ID numbers, passwords, mother’s maiden name, etc.) over the phone, and be careful when and where you do give it.
Don’t confirm this type of information even if the unknown caller has it.
Don’t believe your caller ID: Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
●Don’t talk. If you suspect a scam, Hang up. Anything you say to a telemarketer, including legitimate ones, that is, not a scam, will end up written down in your file. Telemarketers uses the "Three Nos" rule: Don't let the customer go until they have said "no" three times during the phone call.
●Don’t say the word “Yes.”
Listen for key phrases to spot scammers.
Be cautious about where and to whom your phone number is available. Not a good idea on social media.
Turn the tables. Ask the caller for more information. If the caller is reluctant to comply, they’re likely trying to scam you.
Don’t call back. Even though you want to find out who it is and bust their balls, you could still be giving them information they want.
Check your bank and credit card statements regularly, especially after getting a suspicious call.
Don’t send money anywhere for an emergency situation, unless you have verified the situation and the solicitor.
Don’t send money by prepaid card or wire transfer (which are difficult to track) to someone you don’t know.
Check out charities before you contribute, and don’t make commitments over the phone. Even the legitimate ones will pressure you, often into making a larger contribution than you want to give.
     ● Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at

Now days many people order merchandise and services over the phone. There are ways in which you can protect yourself from scams for this, but they are different than calls coming to your phone uninvited. In this case you are calling them and should have some reason to believe you are calling a legitimate business.
Be skeptical about free trial offersSome companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.
Ask about shipping and handling costs before you commit to a purchase.
Don’t let yourself be rushed.
Don’t pay upfront for a promise: Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or even a job. They might say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear. 
Consider how you pay: Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.


With the Holiday Season fast approaching, the telemarketers and scammers will be out there in full force. It helps to know the types of scams so you can recognize them. It's easy to fall prey -- I know because I have several times.

This is perhaps one of the most common scams and usually targets the elderly. The “campaign” begins around tax time. You’ll receive a phone call from the “IRS” telling you you’re receiving your final notice for money owed. If you do not pay this money you’re threatened with legal action, jail time, huge fines, or deportation. These scammers know people fear the taxman and hope that their impulse is to call the fake number back and rectify the situation.

Tech support

This scam, growing in strength, targets those who are not computer savvy. You’ll get a call pretending to be Microsoft Support and they will inform you that your computer is compromised and you need to download special software. The caller needs your credit card information through this scenario.
To prove it, the caller might ask you to check your Windows event log viewer, which is likely to contain thousands of records about various errors, most or all of which are actually nothing to worry about. If you bite, the caller then asks you to log onto a Web service that lets him or her take control of your computer. The goal of this phone scam is to install malware that can steal your personal information or trick you into enrolling in phony computer maintenance or warranty programs.
Sweepstakes and Lotteries

As with most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Getting a call out of the blue that you’ve been selected for  a “Free” or “low cost” vacations or have won a lottery is a pretty big stretch. Sweepstakes callers claiming you’ve won something, can cost a bundle in hidden costs.
Call Center Fraud

Scam artists spend hours calling the customer service centers of banks, insurance companies and other institutions, posing as people like you, to try to access accounts. That’s because reps only ask a couple of simple authentication questions—e.g. your mother’s maiden name or your Social Security number— before you can transfer money or do whatever.
The neighbor ploy
Remember, the scammer wants you to pick up. Your area code and prefix are displayed, so the call appears to be from a neighbor or nearby business. Fewer people block local numbers, and the fake number makes it hard for law enforcement to track.
The call is from your own phone number

In this scam, the scammer can simulate your own phone number on the caller ID. Curiosity, if nothing else, may cause you to answer. These scammers can maneuver around any call-blocking system you’ve set up.
The one-ring rip-off
Criminals sometimes program auto-dialers to make repeated calls to your phone, each disconnecting after just one ring with the intention of making you so frustrated that you call back the displayed number to find out who it is.

Loan Scams

Some loans are borderline scams in the first place, so it’s almost no surprise that they’d also be used as a cover for phone scams. Advance fee loans, payday loans, credit card protection and offers to lower your credit card interest rates are some of the popular scams.

Debt Collector Scams

Debt collector scams are popular because the high rate of debt in our economy. The best thing to do is to ask for the caller’s information, including company name, and to call them back. Also, take note that if you send a written letter to a debt collector asking them to stop calling you, they are legally required to do so according to most of my references.

Warrant and Jury Duty Scams

Whether it’s the DEA, FBI, sheriff, or local police department, warrant scams are designed to make victims panic and then give up their personal information over the phone. The scammer will often state that you’ve missed jury duty, have outstanding warrants, or perhaps defrauded a bank, and attempt to get payment information. Any law enforcement demanding money is something that does not happen legally over the phone.
● Credit Card Security Number Scams
As we’ve mentioned, it’s not a smart idea to give out credit card information over the telephone. Though it may seem harmless, even giving out the three-digit security code on the back of your credit card (also known as the CVV number) can lead to being scammed.
● Medical Scams
Another scam targeting the elderly related to health care. Medically related phone scams usually demand payment on “unpaid” bills from a hospital, doctor, or services like X-ray.
Stranded in a Foreign Country
Many of these scams come by e-mail, but some by telephone, and I got taken by one of these. Mine was one of the standards: a call from a frantic grandchild who is in difficulty (arrested, in a car accident, or something they need money for immediately). In my case the caller knew my grandson’s name, which took me off balance, and I believed him. I did get my money back, but I was so lucky.
Another version encourages recipients to send money or account information to the person supposedly robbed and "stuck" in a foreign country without money, or similarly in need.
Extended car warranties
Scammers find out what kind of car you drive, and when you bought it so they can urge you to buy overpriced — or worthless — plans.
Charitable Causes and Disaster Relief
It’s a sad state of affairs that requests for recent disaster relief contributions are often scams, and they are common over the phone. If you want to contribute, you should call the charity. News Channels on TV usually tell you how to make a donation.
Sometimes it’s not easy to tell the difference between a scam call and a real one. Informing yourself is most important: the following is advice given by all of the sources I reviewed.
     ● A real company will not call you out of the blue and ask for personal information.
     ● If a caller asks “What number did I call?” ask “What number did you dial?”
     ● If a caller asks “Is this Mr. Brown?” answer with the word “speaking”, not “yes.”
     ● The IRS will never contact you by phone; they will send a certified letter.
     ● Technical Support will never call you first about technical problems. You call them.
     ● Companies like Microsoft would never call on the phone.

Watch out for the following phrases. If you hear a line that sounds similar, say "no, thank you," hang up. Never respond with “Yes”. That can be manipulated to make it sound like you agreed to something.
     ●You'll get a free bonus if you buy our product.
     ●You've won one of five valuable prizes.
     ●You've won big money in a foreign lottery.
     ●This investment is low risk and provides a higher return than anywhere else.
     ●You have to make up your mind right away.
     ●You trust me, right?
     ●You don't need to check our company with anyone.
     ●We'll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card.
     ●“Can you hear me?” or “Are you the lady of the house?”
     ● “We’re working in your neighborhood, and you’ve been selected for a free paint job.”

●Join the National “Do Not Call” List
Register your home and mobile phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry. It won’t stop unsolicited calls, but it will stop most. Ones that still come, you should report to the Registry.
●File a complaint with the FTC
Report your experience to the FTC online or by calling 1-888-382-1222.
●Download a blocking APP
A good way to block calls on both land lines and cell phones is to use Google Voice  You have the option of sending them directly to voicemail, treating all their calls as spam, or blocking them entirely. If you don't have a Google Voice account and you live in the US, you can sign up at
Post Offenders on Community Call Sites
800Notes is a free Reverse Phone Number Lookup database built by its users. Our strength is in our numbers - by sharing pieces of information each of us has we are putting together a free and public phone number directory with information no other service can provide.
▪ Find out who is calling and why. Look up and read previous report by other users.
▪Report telemarketing calls
▪Report telephone fraud
▪Check out a business
This Caller helps you to find unknown caller information by using free reverse phone lookup.
USCallers is a free, reverse phone lookup service for both cell and landline phone numbers.
This site can direct you to other sites for looking up telemarketing and scam callers.
Contact your cable or internet service
Many companies, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular, have introduced services that alert you an incoming robocall may be from a scammer or spammer. In some cases, such services are free, but for a few dollars more per month you can get a more robust version that can block the robocalls from ringing on your number.

Travel to Foreign Lands for Romance and Intrigue

Sources: (free clip art)

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