Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Caller, Beware

"Your choice is to be active or passive in your response,"
~  Deborah Day

I had intended to post something quite different this week, and then I got that telephone call, that very annoying call.  "Private caller" on my caller ID.  Area code I didn't recognize, but thought faintly familiar.  So, curious, I decided to answer it, half expecting that no one would be there.

"Hello, Angela.  This is Kevin from HP.  We are receiving warnings that your printer is sending some strange messages to your computer that will damage your hard drive if not corrected immediately.  So I need you to go to your computer so that I can help you fix this problem."  

All delivered in one breath and in an accent from the Philippines, or India, or Sri Lanka, or some nation where I doubt Kevin is a common name.

Assuming the most mature, civil tone of voice I could muster up, I responded, "Stop, please. I do not recognize this number as coming from HP and I will have my own computer support check to see if there is a problem, so thanks, but no thanks.  And I'm hanging up now. Good-bye."

A moment later, another call.  Same number.  Not prone to passivity, I answered it.  

"Hello, Angela.  We were cut off.  Let me explain...."

"No, Kevin, we weren't.  I hung up."

"But, Angela, if you will just listen to me."

Not as concerned with maturity or civility this time, I responded, "No, Kevin, the problem isn't that I won't listen to you.  It's that you haven't listened to me.  I don't want your help.  I don't believe you are calling from HP and if you call again, I will call my lawyer and issue a complaint of harassment."  

This time Kevin hung up and didn't even say good-bye!  He did not call a third time and  I rather suspect my number has been taken off his call list.

Now, I don't want to become passive, but I also don't want to become paranoiac, nor cynical, so I decided to run the call and my response past Austin, my computer support.

"No, Angela, your instincts weren't wrong.  You'd be surprised how many people have been scammed by calls like that or how much money they lose in the process.  These con men especially target seniors.  You did the right thing.  And you were smart to check in with us."

Why do they target us?  Because they think we're gullible or trust "authority" too easily?  Or don't know enough about technology (or the IRS, etc., etc.)?  Or are too passive or polite or weary to challenge them?  

Well, I derive some satisfaction in knowing "Kevin" won't think this senior gullible or passive or totally ignorant about computers!  Certainly not too polite.

My only regret is that I didn't capture "Kevin's" telephone number so I could find a way to report him and whomever he is working with/for.  I know that blocking such calls is an option.  I've researched the ways to do so and will be because there are other battles I am more invested in fighting.  But I do so reluctantly, because it only protects me, while doing little to put these predators out of business.

So, until such calls are blocked, or if any get through, I will answer and I will respond - actively.

 You can register your numbers on the national Do Not Call list by phone or on the Internet at no cost. To register via the Internet, go to To register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY). You must call from the phone number you wish to register.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I Remember...

"Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future."
~ Corrie Ten Boom

Get to know anyone over 60 or 65 and inevitably the topic of memory will arise.  Goodreads has a collection of 1816 Quotes about Memory.  I fret about it every time I can't recall a name or a word I know I know, forgot where I put something, or wonder why I came into a room.

So, when the following quiz arrived in an e-mail from my husband, I was intrigued and decided to take it (even if the title is a little off-putting).

Older Than Dirt Quiz

Instructions:  Count all the items you remember, not the ones you were told about.
  1. Blackjack chewing gum
  2. Wax coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water
  3. Candy cigarettes
  4. Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles
  5. Coffee shops or dines with table side jukeboxes
  6. Home milk delivery in glass bottles
  7. Party lines on the telephone
  8. Newsreels before the movie (instead of commercials!)
  9. P.F. Flyers
  10. Butch wax
  11. TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and remained until TV came on again in the morning...and there were usually only 3 channels
  12. Peashooters
  13. Howdy Doody
  14. 45 RPM records
  15. S & H Green Stamps
  16. Hi-fi's
  17. Metal ice cube trays with a lever
  18. Mimeograph paper
  19. Blue flashbulbs
  20. Packards
  21. Roller skate keys
  22. Cork popguns
  23. Studebakers
  24. Drive-ins
  25. Wash tub wringers
Scoring: If you remember 0-5, you're still young.  If you remember 6-10, you are getting older.  If you remember 11-15, don't tell your age.  And if you remember 16-25, you're "older than dirt."

Yes, I'm "older than dirt."  But this list got me thinking, and I've created my own version.  A list of other things I remember.  I remember...
  • the iceman delivering blocks of ice for my grandmother's icebox
  • scrubbing clothes on a washboard so that my mother wouldn't be embarrassed when she hung the clothes out to dry
  • seeing gold stars hung in the windows of families who lost a child during World War II and wondering why a gold star
  • pictures of Nazi death camps that surfaced when WWII ended
  • school being cancelled in the fall because of a polio epidemic
  • fights being settled with fists, not guns
  • bullies whose names and faces were at least known to their victims
  • having my desire to go to college questioned because I was "just going to get married and have kids"
  • Joe McCarthy and HUAC and the Communist Threat...and ruined reputations and careers
  • the courage of Edward R. Morrow who called for the outrage to stop
  • bomb shelters and bomb drills
  • Selma and listening to "I Have a Dream"
  • the assassinations of the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X
  • the Vietnam War, the protests, Kent State and the Chicago 7
  • the wrenching apart of some families as they took sides over the war
  • Watergate and Nixon's resignation
  • Oklahoma City
I may get a bit nostalgic over memories of roller skate keys and drive-in movies and the pictures in my mind of simpler days, even feel a bit sad that life has become much more complex.   But, the consequences to future generations of not knowing about P.F. Flyers or Butch Wax or Studebakers is minuscule.  However, not knowing, or worse,  choosing to forget or deny the effects of violent dissension, not remembering how easily fear and anger become hatred that tears asunder families and communities, how quickly rumor and innuendo can become "truth", how hard fought the victories for social justice were - these, I believe, have consequence not just for the future, but most certainly today.

So, my list is not intended as a quiz.  There is no scoring to be done.  Rather, I ask how much do you remember?  How much have you passed on to others who don't know or may not understand why some of us who are "older than dirt" are growing more concerned with what we see taking shape in countries around the world, including our own.  For what if memories really are "the key not to the past, but to the future"?