Remembering Mom

It’s been almost fifty years since I lived at home with my parents. In spite of the passage of all that time, I think that like most kids of my generation I can still remember some of the phrases that Mom would use frequently to try to teach me proper manners, eat my food, and threaten punishment, deserved or not.

Other than some references to IPods and computers, not that much has changed in fifty years. Mothers will still be mothers and the lectures they give don’t vary much over time.

This comedienne lays it out for us all. In fact, you might pick up few new ones to use on your own kids some day – or every day.

Enjoy…

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The Great Storm of ’08

What we first thought to be gunshots continued unabated throughout the day on Sunday. Our home is surrounded by very tall evergreens of every species Before the stormand stately old oaks – and we soon realized that our own private forest was the source of those horrific sounds. Huge branches sounded like wounded elephants as they ripped away from their trunks. As they fell to earth they’d brush past lower branches, finally hitting the ground with the sound of a car crash.

On our own property in southeast Salem [Oregon], two stately old oaks suffered dearly from bearing their burden of ice. Nearly a dozen large branches fell to their premature deaths, meeting their end laying across the sidewalk and intruding dangerously into the street in front of our home. Our home after the ice storm

In spite of the bitter cold, neighbors gathered together or stopped briefly to chat in the middle of the street where they were safely away from the tall trees, constantly being interrupted by the loud cracking sounds of huge limbs falling to their deaths off in the distance.

“Are you alright? Is your home OK? Do you want to borrow my chainsaw?” were phrases mixed within the conversations as everyone reached out to help and console each other. We watched in awe and sadness the virtual destruction of trees long protected by law from the axes and saws of contractors and uncaring homeowners, tall evergreens that were decades older than the eldest among us.

Although historic storms like this can be extremely damaging, creating some danger and inconvenience to many of us, we must understand that what we are watching is all a part of natural processes, somehow fitting into the grand plan for our own survival. We can do nothing but watch and listen in awe to the power of wind and water, realizing how helpless we really are against the unyielding will of Mother Nature.

I guess when it comes to weather, we just have to “go with the flow and enjoy the show.”


This article was first published at JustOneOpinion.com on December 23, 2008. As of three days later, the ice and snow remain on the ground and the street is still nearly impassable except by 4-wheelers with chains. So we are hunkered down, keeping warm, and as long as we have electricity, we’ll keep ourselves entertained with DVDs and the Internet. More bad weather approaches, so we will most likely remain home-bound until after the New Year. But that’s OK, we still love our Oregon home.


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Watch out for “news alerts”

Over the past few weeks many of my email accounts, especially Yahoo!Mail and Hotmail.com, have been inundated with messages purporting to be from CNN.com and MSNBC.com. They are “phishing” emails, trying to harvest new active email accounts by either (1)registering the emails that actually open the messages, and/or (2) by capturing emails from people trying to unsubscribe by following their bogus links set up for that purpose.

Here is a link to an article about this problem: MSNBC, CNN Breaking News Alerts Really Malware

I’ve reported these incidents to the security departments of both CNN.com and MSNBC.com. I did get one response back from CNN.com affirming that the emails were bogus, but other than simply telling me to delete them, they seemed not to be interested in pursuing the problem any further.

I would think that due to the fact that the spammers are using exact replicas of their webpages and their logos, that both CNN.com and NBC corporation would be all over these guys and do everything in their power to shut them down. It shouldn’t be difficult to trace the sources (I can do it in less than 30 seconds) or the email addresses that any responses are directed.

I think the problem is that these big corporations, when they do decide to go after somebody, usually go after some little guy with a small website and no money. They are easy and quick to comply simply because they don’t have the money to fight. Usually their transgression is to use a logo or photo that is copyrighted or appeared on the larger corporation’s site.

The real problem lies with the governments of China, Canada, and the USA. These guys can block messages (as China has done) that the government deems to be anti-establishment, or to track personal emails (as the USA is doing) supposedly to search out “terrorist” messages. If they have that level of technology and can control and monitor the emails of common people, they can certainly track the source of the millions of spam messages that go out to every email account.

I guess the real question is why they haven’t used their technology to put a stop to these harmful emails? Who is really behind this whole industry? Every so often they do catch one or two of the major spammers, but it usually because these guys have overreached and involved innocent people in their scams.

The bottom line is that there is obviously a lot of money in sending out spam emails and some of it is finding its way into the hands of those who are supposed to be policing this issue.

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 defined what was illegal and what each emailer must do to comply. Among other things, it clearly bans:

  • It bans false or misleading header information. Your email’s “From,” “To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person who initiated the email.
  • It prohibits deceptive subject lines. The subject line cannot mislead the recipient about the contents or subject matter of the message.

The real problem is that you never really know why the spammers are sending out these emails.  Are they loaded with a virus?  Is there a “spybot” or some other piece of software built in that might be able to clone or take over your computer.  Some software can actually capture your keystrokes and then email them back to the spammer. If you have accessed a credit card or bank account and actually typed in your passwords, then they have everything they need to crack your account and steal whatever they can.

I truly feel that the U.S. government spends so much of its time and resources cracking down on minor or victimless crimes, while letting these internet thieves continue to steal identities, bank accounts, and personal data from the public.  Our governments, both state and federal, would rather punish “sign laws,” the personal use of marijuana, licensing laws, and pornography than to go after mass conspiracies that pass on computer viruses, identity theft, and credit card abuses.

The real question here is “Whatever happened to common sense and real public protection priorities?”

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My trip to Orange County

I’ve just returned from a ten-day trip to Southern California with stops in Marin and Sonoma counties. Although the drive was over 2000 miles round-trip, my old Toyota Camry handled it without complaint and just silently purred along at speeds up to 90 mph.

Gas prices ranged from the $3.70 range in Oregon to as high as $4.39 in the San Francisco Bay area. The effect of high fuel prices was immediately evident almost everywhere I went. No waiting in restaurants, motel room prices as low as $29.99, and far fewer vehicles on almost every highway I took.

So there were some benefits to the higher gas prices, but clearly the general economy is in a slowdown. As I passed through the Stockton/Sacramento areas, real estate sponsored shows on AM radio touted the very low prices in that area due to all of the foreclosures and short-sales taking place. Many homes that would have cost well over $500,000 were going in the low $200,000 ranges in Stockton. The Realtors there are claiming that the bottom has finally been reached, but some areas that already look like ghost towns are still adding For Sale signs to the few homes still occupied.

The good news is that I was able to see my oldest granddaughter (age 11) perform in a most wonderful ballet set that included shortened versions of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter and the Wolf.” She is a most beautiful young lady and very talented, taking the art and athleticism of her dancing very seriously. Her mother hopes to have DVDs of the performances out to all of the family very soon.

I was also able to see my youngest grandson play Little League Baseball. Roaming center field like Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, he made his biggest contribution early in the game with a hard hit ball to center field that resulted in a couple of RBIs. He added another hit and a run scoring fielder’s choice later in the game that helped his team gain a very impressive win over their opponents. It was a great evening (although very chilly sitting on those metal bleachers) with my daughter Kristen and her family.

To say I am proud of my grandchildren would be an understatement. All six of them are doing very well in school and sports. But most importantly, they are really sweet kids and are a pleasure to be around – at least for this old guy.

A special thank you to my daughter Kim and her family for putting me up for a couple of nights as I passed through their area coming and going, leaving nothing but dirty laundry in my wake.

My brother Denny and his wife Stephanie provided me room and board while I was in The OC. Their wonderful hospitality is very much appreciated. They allowed me to come and go as I needed, but fed me and kept me laughing during the times we spent together. I have a very special place in my heart for them and their daughter – who is now becoming quite the model for her mother’s blossoming artistic photography pursuits. What a great time I had with them all and their love and support made my trip very enjoyable.

Unfortunately I was unable to see my daughter Kelly and her family in Los Angeles on this trip and was only able to visit other family members for very short periods. But we will be back again – hopefully soon – and hopefully when there is a much improved economy and lower fuel prices.

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