Don’t blame it on the internet!

It seems that all around us are scams.
And more identity theft.

I had a friend of mine say to me around Christmas, “I never use my credit card online because of the risk of it being stolen.” At the time I was saying, “Well, you know ANYTIME, anywhere you use your credit/debit card, you run a risk of it, or the personal information attached to it, to be stolen.”

I know, we all are shaking our heads, right? It can be stolen even if it is swiped in a machine at grocery store checkout line. It happened here in Maine – Hannaford Supermarket. Got people pretty mad. It can be stolen just about anywhere these days. It wasnt long ago we were just rummaging through the trash to make sure the carbons were ripped up! Now it isn’t that easy!

The latest big one is Heartland. Again customers in Maine were effected. I had a friend that was on the road and learned by a “CONTACT YOUR BANK” notice after attempting to purchase something. So don’t let that happen to you.

First, to see if your bank is on the list check the link here. It is being billed as the Year’s First Major Information Breach by

Isn’t that “special” to be first of 2009?

I guess short of putting all your money in your mattress, since Banks have warehoused data (all on line), there really isn’t much you can do. Their Data Warehouses are as secure as the next hacker attack, I am afraid.

Other banks effected by other breaches this year.

She said "WHAT?"

I finally figured it out. I have been getting a bit frustrated with the tone of some of the email messages I have been receiving over the past few months. They seemed to be from the same people, some of the emails were fine, clear and normal, while others seem well a bit snarky. Now anyone that knows me, realizes that I can “snark it up” with the rest of them, but I was surprised by some of them honestly. I was wondering what I had done wrong?

Then I got a new cell phone. Then I saw the light.

One liner emails may often send the wrong tone and you may not even know that you are doing it. I previously had this Motorola Razor phone for about 3 years and loved it, but I hated having to text from it, so I didn’t.

If you are “text-ing” from your cell phone to someone else’s cell phone and using their cell phone number, people expect short messages – it is a cell phone.

If you have a new fangled phone like I do, iPhone, HTC, Blackberry, etc. and you are sending a text message to someone’s email address, it may land on their laptop or desktop or their phone. If they dont understand you are trying to get a quick reply off to them via text message, they may feel a bit jilted, where your normal messages may have a greeting or some pleasantries attached, most often text messages don’t.

A little advice, if you have customers that you are trying to serve, keep this in mind. Let them know your “additional way of communicating” may be a means of efficiency in replying and not poor customer service. Their business is very important to you as well as offer them the alternative NOT to have you answer them through your phone. Often their relationship INCLUDES you as well as the service you provide them. Don’t let speedy, new technology chip away at something you may have spent a long time time working at!

How many ways can you spell D-I-R-T-B-A-G?

Rather than to repeat two gems of data, I am going to provide you with links for each of them.

It is just more a sign of the times, right? More desperate people, more crime, more opportunists. Father Tom wrote in his blog about someone stealing a cell phone, then the thief calling cell phone owner’s Granny and getting money transferred into a bank account in Canada, that was the “dirtbag’s” and not the cell phone owner’s.

I asked my friend Paul Hilchey Chandler about it, (he is my all favorite & time cell guru), he wrote some suggestions to help prevent this, so he wrote about it.

Both are great reads and worth your time. Especially, if you have kids that leave their phones unattended! Of course the kids “know it all” but they lose their phones anyway!

Peanut Butter & Tuna…. My favorite!

HA! I know, wierd science, right?
This morning I was listening to the local news and it was mentioned that my favorite tuna “Tonno Genova” was on the recall list, because even though it reads “with olive oil” there were a few batches made with SOYBEAN oil. Not a big deal to some people, but I have someone special to me with a soybean allergy and that makes buying food an adventure checking every label to make sure it mentions no soy, no vegetable oil or shortening, whatever. Our “effective” way of subsidizing the soybean industry makes them cheap so they are used in ways you never would believe. Even many peanut butters actually remove the peanut oil replace it with vegetable oil.

Here is my segway to peanut butter … I went to the cupboard and found my tuna cans and went out to my favorite website for recalls. There are tons of them, but here is my favorite. It is a portal and you can access almost anything from there. You can even subscribe to a news feed for it, if you don’t know how to subscribe to a feed, you may look at the post I made on a diffent blog about using Google Reader. This gives you a direct feed for anything posted and also you are able to add information to help other people. There is also a site from the Consumer Product Safety Council, neither of these sites are very sexy, but they are government sites and I think if less sexy is cheaper to the tax payer than I can handle it!

Here is the link with all the pertinent data for the “offending” tuna cans. But while I was poking around, I noticed information about the dreaded peanut butter recall that I wasn’t expecting.

I have no children. So when peanut butter crackers and cookies, things like that were on the list, I thought I was doing my good deed for the day when I called my girlfriend with a daycare and passed on my brilliance. (Hardly, she knew about it of course, but I felt good sharing anyway.)

As I paged down the recall site today, I saw this.

American Nutrition, Inc. Announces a Voluntary Recall of Baked Dog Treats

Did anybody out there, hear about dog treats, dog bones or even consider that perhaps dog treats could be on this list?

Check your pantries and check this list over, because they are very much on the list from lots of different companies and products. And just like with people, salmonella can really take a fatal toll on puppies (we all give them some sort of chew bone while they are teething), older or immune compromised dogs (ie. cancer).

If it is true that all dogs “go to heaven,” I hope it is also true that these “responsible” individuals from PCA, or Peanut Corporation of America in Blakely, GA~ GO TO HELL! (Too bad they are just going bankrupt!)

PS. Just posted on a news website today: ICE CREAM 2/28/09 (where will it end?)

Bad weather or weekends, must be time to cook!

I feel badly for the “printed word” business. At least when it comes to me. Newspapers, books and general cookbooks are not things I see myself buying anytime in the future. Most of my news I get as a feed to my Google Reader account, nearly all of my books I download from my audible account and cookbooks I use the internet to find some very neat recipes often many I see on the Food Network.

When you are using the internet for your recipes, there are no storage issues on bookshelves with old cookbooks that may only have a few recipes you like as well as the time it takes to find those gems. Searching through cookbooks takes forever and searching Google takes seconds. On or you can have your own online recipe collection to look when you have time, access and print them when you are ready to use them. You also can go back to your account to these recipes the next time you want to use them. Here is a Tyler Florence Brownie recipe that I just tried. Yum, yum!

I guess my favorite site and where I feel most welcome as well as for efficiency sake and interaction is This is not a collection from chefs or contest winners. These recipes are generate by it’s users. There are nutrition facts and you can also customize the recipe, there is a calculator that allows for how many servings and you can make shopping lists. Keep in mind these people are just like you and me and things are not tested in the famous Food Network kitchen like those on their sites. But I have never been steered wrong by anything I have tried on this site and it has become my site of choice.

I just set up my own account on and am quickly gathering recipes. I can really see the benefit in doing that. Before I didn’t bother to register on this site, I just poked around and found what I liked and printed it. So you can do what is right for you.

I also have my own blog that I have been gathering some of my own favorites, this is a benefit cookbook my friends and I are doing for an Atlantic Salmon River (the Margaree) in Nova Scotia. These recipes are our own and are simple and intended for the cook that is also a fisherman and wants a delightful meal that is easy at the end of the day of a long day in the stream.

I love internet sites for planning meals. I can do it anytime, now with my account I can go in and see what I chose during a break at work and know what I am cooking on the weekend. I like to make things that I can simmer in a crockpot or freeze for eating during the week.

Movies are expensive enough – Make sure you are picking the right one!

I am getting a bit grumpy with listening to the phrase, “in these tough economic times…” we all know times are tough and I am not thinking that we need to be reminded 10 times a day!

But we do start looking at how we are spending our money as well as evaluating that once it is spent, how did we feel about spending it? No one loves to buy snow tires for their car or fix a water pipe that bursts, but in this post, we are talking about entertainment and that is a bit trickier. When you decide to part with a few bucks for a night out to see a movie with your kids, you want to make sure it is a great experience, right?

Finding the right movie is a trick. I am a bad one for this, because I usually talk to my girlfriends and then wait to rent it and watch it at home. But I have several friends that love a night or a rainy weekend afternoon out with the kids to be entertained. And often this is a last minute decision.

Using the local newspaper doesn’t seem to cut it anymore and neither do a lot of websites. Most highly ranking googled websites are run by movie companies. Do you think they will tell you about their movie not being as great as it looked in the commercial?

A friend of mine recently (over the holidays) he took his son to Marley and Me.

When he told me, I said, “Wow that looks like a cute movie.”
He said, “Did you know the dog died in the end?”
I said, “NO WAY!”

He said, “Neither did I – it certainly wasn’t the kind of movie I expected and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place when we left.”

Oh boy, what a bummer. If you are prepared for this type of ending (Old Yeller, for example), perhaps you may make a different choice, or at least you are … prepared!

My niece (9 y/o) loves Wall-E. In fact, we watched the DVD at our camp on Christmas Day. I thought it was silly, but very content appropriate for the people stretched out on couches in front of the woodstove watching it. NO TEARS!

But how do you know?

I remembered watching ABC Good Morning a few months back and they interviewed these two very sharp and amusing seniors that like movies and put together a YOU TUBE has a channel called “REEL GEEZERS.” (website) “Marcia and Lorenzo” banter away (here is a great article about them in the LA Times) they don’t always agree with each other, but they always cover how much violence or language is in a particular movie and lots of other things- ESPECIALLY if you are looking for something age appropriate and don’t want to be slumping down in your chair or explaining things to your kids all the way home!!

The Reel Geezers are very amusing and very smart- they have an extensive background in stage and screen. Most of their reviews are about 5-8 minutes long and they are well worth watching and listening to, it is YOU TUBE it is FREE. If you decide to create your own channel, you can always save the reviews as favorites so you have them for later. Reel Geezers also seem to keep up with the latest releases, but when you are in the “renting mode” and are entertaining children that aren’t your own it is really handy!

Time to get organized

January just ended and if you are like most people, you are going through the teeth gnashing experience of preparing your taxes. In previous years, maybe those little deductions weren’t all that important, but boy don’t you wish you had kept better track for this year? Now is the time with only one month into it to make it easier on yourself for year end 2009.

First, in my opinion, there is no substitute for a great CPA. Some one who is a friend and not a robot, someone you can tell your dreams to and share with. I am learning more and more each day the value and satisfaction of someone I can trust and shoots me an email when he thinks I should know something. His name is Tom Hicks and we call him “Father Tom” so you get the idea the type of person he is. His blogpost is a great one for you to peruse, it can help make your preparation easier. It is all about figuring out where to start!

I have a couple of my own tips to prepare me for the year ahead.

  1. I went to an office supply store and bought an accordion file that lists the months on each tab. I didn’t go on the cheap (tho what I bought was something like $13.99) and buy one that has only 6 tabs, buy one that has at 12 – 15 tabs. Mark the months on them yourself if you cannot find one with them marked all ready.
  2. I Put the file next to my desk. I am throwing everything into that month for receipts as I get them. With this year being especially odd, new promises for change (who knows what that means at this point) – include gas receipts, meal receipts, car repair receipts. Keep them all together. If you are self employed or a small business, this is especially important. You don’t want to lose a legitimate deduction, just because you forgot about it.
  3. Easy online file sharing that is SAFE and SECURE! is like a file cabinet with a user name and password for all your tax documents. If your CPA doesnt use it, it is a very economical way to store pdf files and very easy to use. Once you go there, you will see a video how to use it. It is great for the nights you wake up at 3 in the morning and you need access to a file you cannot find at home.

You could go to Turbo Tax or some other online service to file and I have to say, these services don’t impress me. Call me old fashioned, but I am going to just load up all my personal information and ship it off to someone I don’t know and it is nearly impossible to reach a live person if you have a question. Tactically, it seems to solve a problem of filing THIS year, but it is difficult to do any long range planning. I also found this interesting link of a security compromise in the Turbo Tax soft ware. How would you like other people looking at your stuff and you can look at theirs? You are a hacker and you didn’t even know it!

And what about a more timely one of Giethner the new Treasury Secretary blaming Turbo Tax for his tax issues. If he can’t figure out what Turbo Tax is doing, I surely can’t! There is no substitute for real people.

Thank you for the image.