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Newt & Joe

Slate.com had an article about Melania Trump and how she “utilizes” (my word) sleeves. The article is titled Why Melania Trump Rarely Uses Sleeves As They Were Intended: A Few Theories.

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And when I think about it, I guess she does wear her coats often like this picture. In the article, they show many pictures of her in that coat-wearing-mode. And then they speculate on why she wears  “Shoulder-robing”.

They seem to recite what might be considered as… the democrat theory. Because maybe it’s her way of not having to hold hands with the President. Come on! Their additional theories are all over the board. It’s all about looking at thinking through the lens of perspective.

I think that if the writer is going to speculate about not wanting to hold hands with her husband, they should also include viewpoints from other political views.

For instance, maybe if you are a republican, you might speculate that she is very fashion-forward. As an independent, you might think she is simply cold. If you have no political view, you might speculate that she is Inspector Gadget. Yes…that’s it! Inspector Gadget!

Of course, it could be like looking at this person. At church or in McDonald’s? Although they clearly answer it for us with the caption:

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There are different ways of looking at things. That’s something Captain Obvious would say. But, I saw it occur at the Richmond Forum on Saturday night.(Info on the event here)

Joe Scarborough and Newt Gingrich and moderator Mara Liasson addressed the topic “Perspectives on the Party in Power”.

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Former Speaker Newt Gingrich brought a laugh to the crowd when he described how politicians used to be able to work together. He said that politicians from both parties would argue in the morning, negotiate in the afternoon, and drink together at night. And that’s how they got things done. Now, there is not as much communication.

I looked for an article to attach on the evenings events, but couldn’t find it. The reason I am blogging about it is because I thought that the topic was well handled from two different viewpoints.

Joe Scarborough is a former republican congressman, who is now an MSNBC host. He had a falling out with the President. Then, President Trump publicly attacked him by calling Scarborough “crazy“, and also calling his co-host/now fiancee Mika Brzezinski “dumb as a rock“. (Story Here) So there might be some personal motivation in his disagreement with the President.

Newt Gingrich is known as a supporter of President Trump. His wife was appointed by Trump as an Ambassador to the Vatican. (She was confirmed by a 70-23 vote in the Senate) And he is now a Fox News contributor.

Mara Liasson was also an interesting pick as the moderator because she is a political correspondent for National Public Radio (which republicans sometimes attack as too liberal) and she is also a contributor/panelist for Fox News. Thus, she gets attacked by both parties.

Scarborough has recently written a book titled “The Right Path“, which discusses where he believes the Republican Party has gone off the rails and how it can be restored to again be the Grand Old Party.

Speaker Gingrich has recently written a book titled “Understanding Trump“.  In the context of the book, he was able to ably defend President Trump. He views the President as a Disruptor that was needed. I looked Disruptor up for definition: to cause disorder or turmoil.  Gingrich believes that right now, that is exactly what this country needs.

I am not going to recite their differing perspectives (I went to the Wizards game last night and saw an exciting win, but now I need more coffee!), but I found myself persuaded by both of their viewpoints. Pretty impressive persuasion!

One of the last things that Newt (I just wanted to use his first name because it has always grabbed my attention. Plus, I do like Fig Newtons… just throwing that out there) mentioned that was not necessarily related to Trump. But, a good reminder on how to get things done politically.

You ought to know who you are, what you believe, and what you’re trying to accomplish. And then you got to find a way to get it done“. That sounds good for politics, but also good advice for every day living!

And for pic o’ day…things do work themselves out!

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How About A Food Blog?

Because Our Blog is on food today, it just seemed like a good time to have the food pyramid.

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And then this food in the fridge thought just cracked me up. See (Or should I spell that SeA? Maybe if we were talking seafood…but I digress) how I continue with our food theme?

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I just thought this was a good time to talk about food… and food that should concern us. I could pretend that this is an original thought, but reality and plagiarism (which is a very difficult word to plagarize) require me to post the real article on this.

I direct your attention to an article titled Food Network: The Top 10 Things Food-Safety Experts Won’t Eat. Honestly, the title got my attention. I have attached it there for your review. Maybe it is insurance against food poisoning which sounds as bad as it is.

Here are the foods that are discussed. I am shortcutting the article if you are reading this, and you have no time for real reading.

  1. Buffets
  2. Sliced Lemons
  3. Raw Sprouts
  4. Undercooked Ground Meat (I cannot imagine why they thought the concept of “undercooked” is good anyway)
  5. Raw Oysters
  6. Food From Bulk Bins (Isn’t this one reason Whole Paycheck Grocery Stores are famous?)
  7. Sushi
  8. Raw Milk
  9. Packaged Lunch Meats
  10. Potlucks

I am not giving my opinion. And I tried not to comment at all. I could not help it on a couple of those. Just something to think about.

And for pic o’ day, who doesn’t get excited about a supplies party?

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I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again!

Yes… this is what I call a real rule breaker!

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In 1964, Julie Andrews made her movie debut in Mary Poppins. Then, she became internationally famous when she starred in My Fair Lady (1956) and then Camelot (1960).

In 1965, she played the real life Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Her voice singing the words “The hills are alive, with the sound of music” became iconic as a report 283 million people paid to see that movie. It became the biggest hit in the history of 20th Century Fox.

Julie Andrews had become a star because of her acting… but truly because of her voice. Several starring roles followed. But in 1997, she ran into a roadblock.

While starring in a show on broadway, she continued to experience hoarseness in her voice, that made it very difficult to sing. She was examined by a doctor and it was determined that she had developed nodules on her vocal cords. Fortunately, they were non-cancerous and could be surgically removed.

The surgery was scheduled and the nodules were successfully removed. When she woke from the surgery, she no longer had her singing voice and her speaking voice had a noticeable rasping noise. And, it was permanent.

After recovering from the shock of not being able to sing with her infamous four-octave soprano, years later she could finally joked that she found herself with a deep alto, only able to sing songs like “Old Man River“.

Here is the reminder for us. Once she got over the depression of losing her voice and the loss of her career that went with it, she picked herself up. She continued to perform with speaking roles and even became a “voice-over” star for such productions as Dr. Dolittle… starring as the voice of the parrot.

In 2000, she was recognized as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. In 2001, she appeared in The Princess Diaries, which was her first Disney film since Mary Poppins. She even performed voices for three of the Shrek movies and has also appeared in the Despicable Me movies and sequels. And now at age 82, she is known as an author for best-selling books for kids, having written 24 books to date.

All this was done after tragedy supposedly ended her career. And… she reports feeling great satisfaction in being a grandmother to nine, and a great-grandmother to three.

I could write this story many times about clients who have been knocked down, and then get back up. I am personally challenged every day by their courage.

Everyone, at some point in their life, has been knocked down and not felt like getting back up. When you get back up, it makes you realize that there are so many possibilities. Adversity causes some to break… and others to break records. (William Arthur Ward)

And finally, I laughed out loud!

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Are They listening? Should I Be Concerned?

Sometimes when I start typing Our Monday Blog, I suspect that you wonder if I am getting paid by the word. I start one place and find myself easily headed down another rabbit hole. (Couldn’t help but throw in an Easter metaphor… right?)

It feels like every week brings us news of another store or company who have suffered a data breach. And a lot of people have their personal information exposed. So that leads me to ask the question, “Are we inviting hackers into our homes because of our purchased equipment. Which now leads me to write about Facebook and Amazon… and what patents they are seeking. A question of privacy.

But honestly, I feel a little like this in discussing some of this technology:

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When it comes to technology in the future, I just like to keep it simple. Much like this watch!

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Practically speaking, at the start of their season, Michigan and Villanova had a plan to win it all. But there is no way that they could have been certain that they were headed for the NCAA Championship game tonight. To give them a chance.

But technology companies think a little differently. Nothing about just a chance.

For instance, Facebook would have us believe that their future plans are here for Us. Here is their privacy statement:

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Something tells me that “my control” would be better described as “what they control of me”. As to Facebook’s new products, here’s what we know. Facebook already has new home products in their arsenal to introduce, that would compete with Alexa and Echo.

But, they have delayed introducing these products and hardware because they are concerned that it would play into the public’s perception of Facebook invading our privacy and using it against us; or having some third party or country use it against us. This delay occurred after it was reported that 50 million Facebook users had their personal information harvested by that creepy company Cambridge Analytica.

Which also leads me to the discussion of their filed patent applications. A view to the future of products.

A recent Gallop Poll reports that 22% of Americans use devices in their homes like Echo or Google Home. (A NY Times article that also discusses the eerie laugh that Echo was strangely making) Which is why we are concerned about companies eavesdropping on us, even though they all insist otherwise.

Amazon and Google assure us that their devices only react to certain trigger words and then shut off. They assure us that unless the green light is on, there is nothing happening. Never mind what happened last fall when Google distributed its Home Minis to journalist… and the equipment never stopped recording. (AndroidPolice.com)

And yet… all these advancements are for our benefit.  But we all agree that voice data from this technology is evolving and here’s where these companies apparently see the future.

For one patent application, Amazon describes a “voice sniffer algorithm”  for home and mobile devices, to analyze audio almost in real time and to react when it hears words like “love,” bought” or “dislike. ”Here’s what they are working on as indicated in a NY Times article titled,  Hey, Alexa, What Can You Hear? And What Will You Do With It?

And here is how they can use such triggers under the patent, “for our benefit”. You could be talking on the phone to a friend… and then get an offer for travel or a sale on pants. The patent describes a diagram where “to your benefit” might mean that you then see an ad for a Wine of the Month Club membership.(Here is the rest of the story)

Google’s patent applications would “benefit you” through their home by providing smart product advertisements that are generated from your audio and visual signals.

So should we be concerned about the applications and just consider them as advancements in technology? No so fast! So says Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog, which is a California non-profit organization that recently published a study of some of these futuristic applications for patents in an article titled, Home Assistant Adopter Beware: Google, Amazon Digital Assistant Patents Reveal Plans for Mass Snooping (Here)

As I started writing this blog, I got myself crazy researching. If you are still with me this far… maybe you are shaking your head too!

One final thought on this. Google has said that it will generally not provide audio recordings of users to third parties, but may send transcriptions of your voice and your information. It’s listed (Here under their privacy category of “Does Google Home share my information with anyone)

And…. no surprise, Amazon may give app developers this same information as well. (Here) Hmmm!

And for pic o’ day let’s go far away from technology. I guess this is what they call airline humor and it makes me laugh!

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STOP CALLING?

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Are you tired of getting phone calls from strange numbers. Or worse yet, now the calls are coming from phone numbers that look familiar. Telemarketers have taken their schemes to a whole new level of “fake” caller i.d. numbers. Sometimes I answer and sometimes I don’t. Each time it irritates me. I know the same thing is happening to you.

I find myself hollering at a prerecorded voice, “I don’t need a new deal on my cable TV“. Do people still have cable? And what happened to all those lonely cable boxes? I seem to remember that someone suggested that you make cat beds out of them. That is a horrible idea!

I don’t need to hear about insurance or their concern about my car maintenance plan. And now I strangely receive calls… and no one is there. I have found myself repeatedly saying “Hello...Hello“.  What in the world? What is going on?

I remember hearing a warning not to answer phone callers who immediately ask, “Can you hear me?”. Supposedly, when the person would say “Yes“, their voice could be used for fraudulent credit card approvals. Come on!

So what can we do besides throwing our phones out and hollering real loudly. Or, hooking up the two Campbell Soup cans to string, to talk to each other. (Do you remember that?)

Let me attach two articles from USA Today that can better describe the problems as well as identify possible actions that you can take to protect yourself.

The first is titled The robocall battle continues at the FCC and the FTC. (Here)

The article reports that the Federal Communication Commission gets about 200,000 complaints about robocalls each year. In 2017, The Federal Trade Commission received 4.5 million complaints about unwanted calls. Now according to the agency, they get about 400,000 daily. Fraud from unwanted calls is reportedly costing about $9.5 billion annually.

The article goes on to discuss the actions being taken and the regulations that are being proposed, to track these callers and to stop them. The government also calls on consumers to notify the FTC and FCC about robocall complaints at ftc.gov/calls and fcc.gov/robocalls.

The FTC representative quoted in the article notes that “The FTC is publishing complaint data daily, which is helping in the fight. Companies are sharing information with each other to trace back illegal robocalls.” Also, both agencies have a Stop Illegal Robocalls Tech Expo scheduled for April 23 in Washington.

The second article:  How to stop those annoying endless robocalls to your smartphone (Here) gives ideas on what we can do personally.

Ideas include googling your phone number to see if it is being fraudulently used; add your number to the National Do Not Call list; use your phone settings to block numbers; and purchasing apps that assist in blocking and eliminating these calls.

The article is thought-provoking. (I find that so descriptive. Plus, apparently I am fascinated with random thoughts in quotes.)  The cost and applications are discussed.  I also have to show respect to the marketing idea of naming an app NoMoRobo!

And finally for Our Pic O’ Day:

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Who Knows Why?

Because it’s Friday, and why wouldn’t a cat owner dress their cat in a costume?

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and

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Yes… I feel like I am angry blogging. Life is just crazy! Right? So let’s get positive!

Have a great weekend. Sometimes it’s good to just have no reason…much like Our Blog today.

A Good Memory From Plants

Today I am starting and ending Our Blog with dog pictures…because they make me laugh!

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Today is the first day of spring. Can I wear white pants yet? Just sayin’

Sometimes I catch myself just thinking about a friend or family member who have gone on to heaven.  I think how I miss them; but I also smile, as I think of good memories.

For instance, I can remember my first bite of cheesecake.  My grandfather ordered it at a restaurant named Johnny’s, outside of Elkton, Maryland. I was eight-years-old and I was having a hard time understanding how a cake could be made out of cheese. Plus, it looked more like a pie. He asked me if I wanted a bite… and I was hooked on cheesecake for a lifetime! In many areas of my life, I am still impacted by my grandfather. Yes I know, not a serious story but… I miss him!

A story posted last year in Huffington Post reminded me of how we can be impacted by others, long after they are gone. The article was titled Woman Pulls Hilarious Plant-Watering Prank On Husband Years After Her Death. The title made me laugh, even before I started to read the content.

Here is a picture of Phedre and Nigel Fitton before she passed away.

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Shortly before she lost her battle to cancer, the 69-year-old asked her husband to keep watering the plants in the bathroom of their South Africa home.

He faithfully did so for several years. Recently, his family assisted him in moving into a retirement home. That’s when the discovery was made. It was pointed out to him by family members that the plants he had been watering at his wife’s request… were made of plastic.

Here is how his daughter described it on her instagram account

Before my mum passed away, she gave my dad strict instructions to water the plants in the bathroom. He’s been religiously watering them & keeping them alive. They look so amazing he decided to take them to his new home, only to discover they are plastic! Can hear my mum chuckling.

In sadness, there is a happy remembrance. I love that story!

And for pic o’ day….

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Helping Each Other

First, let’s start Our Monday Blog with a little spirit, and then on to the story:

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The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer. It’s the feeling of being uncared for, unwanted. Of being deserted and alone.” Mother Teresa

Last year, the Washington Post wrote a story titled “He pushed an elevator’s alarm button but no one came, officials say. Weeks later, his body was found“. It is the story of a cry for help… and no one was there.

An 82-year-old man was seen in the parking lot of his Denver apartment building. He was heading to the apartment leasing office. According to the account, he walked to his mailbox, stopped by the leasing office to pick up a few things; and no one knew where he went after that.

He had been experiencing dementia issues, according to his daughter. So, immediately his family was worried. Days went by with no one seeing or hearing from him. They did know that physically he was not capable of walking far from his apartment.

Picture posters and fliers were distributed throughout the Denver area.  Firefighters scoured the area, including even searching five nearby ponds.

A month went by. Finally, maintenance workers at a nearby garage found a decomposed body in an elevator. The body was soon identified as the missing man.

Authorities began to piece together what had happened. At some point, he had stepped inside the parking garage elevator. The reason for that is unknown. Once inside the elevator, he struggled to get out.

In an attempt to seek help, He had pushed the elevator’s emergency button twice over the course of eight minutes…but no one responded.

The electronic records from the elevator’s emergency alarm show that it was pressed at 9:09 p.m. and 9:17 p.m., a day after he had last been seen.

According to officials, pushing this emergency button should have triggered an alert to an elevator monitoring company or the fire department. But no company received the alert and the fire department received no emergency calls from that elevator. No one was there to help.

I cannot end the blog on that story. Instead, here is a more recent story about a random act of kindness in another story from the Washington Post titled At the Waffle House, she cut up a customer’s food for him. It changed her life.

An 18-year-old waitress noticed that her elderly customer was having difficulty cutting up his food. He was having difficulty because his hands did not work well. Without much thought, she says that she “took his plate and began cutting his ham”.

The attached story about her act of kindness also tells how it changed her life. A reminder that helping others in need is actually a way of helping Us!

For pic o’ day today… I feel like I just need to post something completely unrelated. So here goes for all kite lovers. You are the Decider and you Decide!

 

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This, That and Food Thoughts

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I come to Our Friday Blog, which usually means that I feel freedom to wander. Here we are in March. In fact, March Madness basketball has me completely distracted today. I cannot wait to see what the blog is about. (Oh wait…)

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to lose 5 pounds. Only 9 more pounds to go! But I think I know why. I started a 14 day diet. I enjoyed the food on it so much that I finished it in 2 days.

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I saw a funny quote on Facebook. “Welcome to Plastic Surgery Addicts Anonymous. I am seeing a lot of new faces in the crowd this week and I just have to say, I am really disappointed”.

The Law of Association: You will become the average of the people that you spend the most time with.

And here is a thought on decisions. Did you know that on February 1, 2008, Microsoft tendered an offer for close to 45 billion dollars to buy Yahoo? Yahoo rejected the offer because their CEO, Jerry Yang, said that the bid “substantially undervalues Yahoo”. In 2016, Yahoo was bought by Verizon for 4.48 billion dollars. Hmm

If someone offers you a breath mint… never turn it down.

Can you write “never odd or even” backwards?

And finally, I am still focused on my bad decision making. Not as bad a Yahoo! But, I strangely found myself eating Nachos yesterday (because I gave myself the excuse that I was watching the tournament) Now that I sit here…not so  proud of my lunch selection… this pic o’ day just seemed appropriate.

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Have a great weekend!

Useless, Useful and Interesting?

 

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Our Blog starter picture just seemed to fit the title today. I hope the following items below will be Useful and Interesting, instead of all falling into the category of Useless! That decision is in the eye of the beholder!

I just learned that McDonald’s has a category of customers that they call “Heavy Users“. To “join that category” you need to eat there ten times per month. If you want McDonald’s to categorize you as a “Super Heavy User“, apparently you need to eat there an average of 3-5 times per week. Quite a frequent eaters club .

Renowned gangster Al Capone carried business cards that said he was a used furniture dealer. I wonder if he liked cork floors for the rec room?

I just saw some good advice. After writing an angry email, read it carefully. Then delete it. Note to self!

The word “gorilla” is derived from a Greek word that means “a tribe of hairy women”. It’s from the history of Hanno the Navigator. (I am frightened to even comment on this)

I am very fascinated with the power of the sugar industry. Here is an interesting article  from Manila Bulletin Business titled How Big Sugar killed a 1968 study that pointed to a heart disease link. The power of sugar!

And now, a couple of random thoughts. (As though all the previous “stuff” is not random!) Sometimes I want to post a blog on what I am reading or what I am watching. I just never do. But, since this blog is aimlessly heading somewhere unknown; I thought it might be a good time to throw some crazy in the mix.

I am watching and reading many things… all at the same time…just because. Here are two things:

First, a current non-fiction book that I am reading is Survive Like A Spy by Jason Hanson.  It says on the cover that Real CIA Operatives Reveal How They Stay Safe In a Dangerous World And How You Can Too. (I suspect you weren’t expecting this book!) It reads like a novel.

And what is something I am watching? Here’s one on Netflix : The Toys that made us.  There are four episodes. The one about Barbie suggests that Mattel has been ruthless in fighting the competition throughout the years. Very interesting!

And finally, I close Our Blog today with a quote/reminder from Henry Ford. “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t- you’re right.”

And for our pic o’ day… I have posted this in the past, but it’s one of my keepers because it gets me everytime I see it. Dogs are great! And this cat is a team player

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