Stop Thief

I was convincing myself to get out of bed this morning when the phone rang. It was 8 am. A little early for the scammers or those soliciting donations for charity.

Has something happened to a family member or friend?

I hopped out of bed and answered the phone. A mechanical voice said it was American Express calling and asked if I was SusanB. I said yes, wondering why on earth AmEx was calling at 8 am.

Being not fully awake and hard of hearing, I didn’t understand what was said next. I waited for the system to timeout and repeat what it had said. They were calling to verify some recent charges to my AmEx card.

Did I charge $500 at ‹‹unintelligible vendor›› in the last 2 hours?


Please wait while we connect you to a real person.

The real person had an accent that I had trouble with. I asked her to speak more slowly, repeat, and even spell some things.

Someone went on a shopping spree early this morning. These are the pending charges showing on my account. They aren’t “posted” yet, but were already there to see. Click to see a larger version if the print is a little small for you.

thief's spending spree

Exactly one of those charges is legitimate. The $39.95 to Time Warner Cable for my Internet Service. The other $2,617.59 are fraudulent charges.

The real person with the accent canceled my card and initiated the process to issue a new card. It’s being sent UPS and should arrive on Wednesday. I’m impressed. Last time I had to get a new credit card, I had to wait a week or more for it to arrive via snail mail.

There was a message on one of my Yahoo groups yesterday that a company I occasionally order from had a security breech. Customer order information, including credit card numbers, had been accessed. Cancelling our cards and getting new ones was suggested.

I have a few payments set up that charge my AmEx card each month: phone, Internet, satellite TV. It’s a bit of a hassle to update the billing information, so I decided to wait and see if I had a problem. I did!

I’m thankful that American Express had the checks in place to detect this thief so quickly. I typically charge $400 to $500 a month on my AmEx card, so 6 charges totaling $2,600 in a few hours was definitely a red flag! I don’t know if American Express or the 6 businesses are out the $2,600, but it won’t be coming out of my bank account.

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Dangerous Day to Grocery Shop

When I went out to run my errands yesterday, I totally forgot that it was the Day After Valentine’s Day. Go shopping at any grocery store or big box store that sells candy packaged specially for the holiday on the day after and you will be greeted with displays of candy marked down for quick clearance.

I innocently walked into my local Hy-Vee supermarket late yesterday morning and was greeted with shopping carts full of left over Valentine’s candy. Clerks were busy loading Easter candy on the shelves that just 24 hours earlier held Valentine’s candy.

So what was my downfall? Yes, I fell for a “bargain,” if you can call what it will do to my waistline a bargain. I went with the dark side.

2 bags of Dark Chocolate M&Ms

Yep, not one, but two bags of dark chocolate M&Ms came home with me. My plan is to use my postal scale to measure out one serving a day. No getting the bag out for more and pigging out. That’s my plan.

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Memorial Day – Remembering Our Heroes

Officially, Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died while serving in the United States Armed Services. Observed in the United States on the last Monday in May, we visit cemeteries to remember and honor those who have died.

Santa Fe National Cemetery - Section 9 - Memorial Day 2009

Santa Fe National Cemetery – View from Section 9

My dad served in the U. S. Army during the Korean War. He died in 1992 and is buried in Santa Fe (New Mexico) National Cemetery. This is the view up the hill from his grave site, taken Memorial Day weekend 2009. Flags are placed on all of the graves for the holiday weekend.

My best friend’s dad is also buried in Santa Fe National Cemetery. Wanda’s dad served in 3 wars: World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and retired from the U. S. Air Force in 1972. He died last year. I know Wanda and her mom are missing him this weekend. Now we have two graves to put flowers on when I visit.

Santa Fe National Cemetery - 2007

Santa Fe National Cemetery – 2007

This is another section of Santa Fe National Cemetery. This section has flat headstones set in the ground and the flags make quite a display. This photo is from Memorial Day weekend 2007.

On Memorial Day weekend, many people visit graves of loved ones who never served in the Armed Services. On Saturday, my mom and I drove to Ash Grove, Missouri. My aunt and cousin met us there and we put flowers on my grandparents and great-grandparents graves.

My mom and I then visited the cemetery near her house. My stepfather and niece are buried there, side by side. My stepfather’s parents and sister are in another area of the cemetery. We placed flowers on all 5 graves. My stepfather served in the Korean War and a man at the cemetery entrance gave us a flag to put on his grave.

Heroes come in many shapes and sizes. Remember yours today and every day.

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Review: Ed Begley, Jr.’s Guide to Sustainable Living

book cover - Guide to Sustainable Living

Long known as an environmentalist, actor Ed Begley, Jr. now educates and inspires the masses using television (Living With Ed), the internet (, and writing books.

Ed Begley, Jr.’s Guide to Sustainable Living: Learning to Conserve Resources and Manage an Eco-Conscious Life is Begley’s second book and it is crammed with useful information. The book will be most useful for homeowners, but it also contains information targeted at those who rent. It is organized in 3 sections:

  • Conserve – reduce energy and water needs
  • Produce – make your own power
  • Manage – continue to refine your life and reduce your impact

Beginning with conservation and continuing through production and management, almost any green living topic related to your home is covered. Conservation includes the green home audit, electricity, lighting, insulation, windows & doors, and water usage. Production covers solar and wind power, building, remodeling, gardening/landscaping and compost. Managing your life and impact includes heating and cooling your home, heating water, decorating, cleaning, babies and nurseries.

Begley recommends that everyone start with a green home audit to establish a baseline. The audit will identify where the biggest inefficiencies are and help determine which changes will pay off most quickly. Conservation saves money by reducing waste. Producing power is cool, but has a longer payback period. Why pay to make power that is being wasted? Conserve first.

Ed Begley, Jr.’s Guide to Sustainable Living: Learning to Conserve Resources and Manage an Eco-Conscious Life packs a lot of information into 347 pages. But this is a book, not an encyclopedia, so there is much more that isn’t included. The book ends with a 7 ½ page resource guide listing the websites or web pages for all the resources mentioned in the book.

This is a good book for anyone interested in learning more about sustainable living. I think almost anyone can find suggestions for changes they can make to reduce their impact on the environment.

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Meet Bruno

Bruno on the porch

Such a butch name for such a cute, sweet little puppy. Even full grown, can a dachshund live up to the name Bruno? Hard to imagine this little guy with the attitude his name suggests.

Bruno Being Held

Bruno is the latest addition to my sister Susie’s family of cats and dogs. He joins 10 dogs and 10 cats and is the 6th dachshund in the family. I met Bruno last weekend while visiting family.

Mauled by 6 Dachshunds

I sat down to visit with Bruno and some of his siblings and was overrun by most of the dogs. Trixie and Barclay soon lost interest in competing for my attention, leaving me surrounded by 6 dachshunds.

mauled by 6 dachshunds

From left to right is Milo, Bruno (under my chin and under Milo), Louie, Maudie, Henry (behind Maudie), and Benny (on the floor).

I love visiting Susie’s animals, but in a short time, I got enough puppy love to last me a while. I prefer to live with one dog at a time when I have a pet. How about you? What is your favorite type of pet and preferred number of pets?

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If It’s April

If it’s April, it must be time for the Kohl’s gift cards to start arriving.

April 2012 Kohl's gift card

Sure enough, about a week and a half ago, the first Kohl’s gift card of the year arrived in my mailbox.

I plan to go shop tomorrow. What will I spend it on? A summer shirt? New jeans? Something off the clearance rack? One thing’s certain, there would be fewer additions to my wardrobe if I didn’t get these gift cards.

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