Scam Alert! Unpaid Electric Bill Scam!

Last Thursday, I got a text from my office manager while I was at the airport going on vacation with my family.  She got a call at the office from a power company representative saying our power bill was 2 months overdue, and I needed to make a payment by 5 pm today, or they’ll shut off the power.  I was boarding my flight in just a few minutes.  “Ain’t nobody got time for dat!”  I told her I’d have to get back to her.  We were literally running to our next flight, as the connection was very tight.

Crap!  I’m on auto-pay!  What happened?  I’m pretty sure I remember payment going through recently.  And, if you’re past due, they usually send you warnings by mail.  We got no such letters.  Hmmm….  something isn’t right.  Plus the total for “2 months” is way higher than what it would normally be for two months.

My office manager took the guy’s name and number.  But, then she smartly called the power company via their official number.  Turns out, I’m current on my bill!  Well, YEAH!  Duh!

Shit!  It was a scam!  In my impending vacation panic, I briefly considered giving a CC# to my office manager to take care of it.  But, I didn’t.  After she called the power company, she texted me again (as I sat on the plane ready for takeoff), telling me it was a scam.  Phew!

These scamming mofos probably target small businesses like mine, knowing that the thought of the power being turned off is mortifying.  And, I’d bet some fall for it and give them a CC#.

I’m back from my vacation, and I’m thinking about calling this guy back just to mess with him.  Stay tuned for updates.

Edit to add:  Apparently, this is a “thing!”  Here’s an ambitious “scam baiter” leading one of these guys on… for a long time!  Funny!

Update (6/27/17):  I called the number back today just for fun.  The number was no longer in service.

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All Aboard the Righteous Indignation Train! Wooo-woooo!

This post will not likely engender much agreement.  But, then again, it’s not why I write.  My goal has never been to create an “echo chamber” or to “preach to the choir.”
(Edit to add:  A couple of folks have unsubscribed since this article, already!  😆  That means I’m doing it right!  😉

To be, or not to be… significant.

The recent incident on a United Airlines flight has been the next in a litany of social media firestorms.

On the pyramid that represents Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, just above Basic Needs are “Belongingness” and “Esteem.”  Those needs could be summed up as “Significance.”  We all need to feel Significant.  It’s not a character flaw.  It’s a GOOD thing.

We all achieve Significance differently.  And, it’s not just one thing that makes us feel Significant.  It’s often a combination of things.  Some of those things might include:

  • Family – influencing and raising our children, marriage, connections to extended family.
  • Work / Profession – Men, especially, feel they gain Significance through their work.
  • Charity / Volunteerism.
  • Creativity – Art, writing (hmmm?), teaching, public speaking.
  • Activism – Speaking out for a cause you believe in (or think you should believe in).

If I sat and thought for some time, I could come up with more examples.  I’m sure you could add to the list, too!  Feel free in the comment section below.

With the advent of the internet and social media, we ALL have a pedestal and a bullhorn.  Any of us can put our thoughts and opinions out the the entire world.  Any of us can gain Significance with a few taps of the keyboard and a click.  In a flash, we can become “activists.”  The aphorism about a butterfly beating its wings in Brazil having an effect around the world is all the more true with web-based social media.

When something happens, we all know about it before it hits the evening news on TV.  Certainly we all have our own opinions about what happened, why it happened, and what SHOULD happen next.  Today’s culture seems to be quick to claim “offense.”  We are very quick to judge, because we all “saw the video.”  But, we often do so without ANY basis in facts…. without knowing the ENTIRE context of the incident or situation.  Most of these videos are but a vignette of a much larger unknown scenario.  It seems that our society has adopted the phone camera as “instant justice.”  Arguably, the majority of the time, the knee-jerk conventional wisdom has been WRONG… oh, so wrong.

“I turn on the tube and what do I see. A whole lotta people cryin’ ‘Don’t blame me.’  They point their crooked little fingers at everybody else.” – The Eagles

And, hoo-boy…. The outrage and Righteous Indignation predictably boiled up on social media!  Everyone “saw the video,” but they have NO CLUE about what happened.  Many apparently think that United employees beat up a passenger (They didn’t touch him.)  Many think United “ordered” the police to drag this guy out of the plane (The police do not follow the “orders” of citizens not involved in law enforcement).  Many believe that passengers have a “Right” to their seat on the plane… “since they paid for it, and everything” (They don’t).

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Posted in Current Events, Editorial | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

USS Independence CV-62 to Live on Only in Our Memories

Today, my ship, the USS Independence, will begin its final journey (under tow) from Bremerton, WA to Brownsville, TX where it will be broken down and scrapped.
 
It’s interesting (and unique in the military services) how wistful sailors are about their ships when they look back at their time at sea.  I suppose it has something to do with living and working on a big machine, “24 / 7” for, literally, years.
 
A ship is a living being, of sorts.  The USS Independence (aka “Freedom’s Flagship”) was a machine, but it was run by 5,000 men.  At sea, sailors work seven days a week.  Some work 12 – 14 hour shifts (some longer).  When you’re stuck on a ship, living and working with people, in a confined space with no escape, you HAVE to get along.  You get quite close to your shipmates.  There are no secrets!
 
It’s understandable that it becomes a mental touchstone of our youth.
 
The Independence was commissioned in 1959 (launched in 1958) and decommissioned in 1998.  Forty years of service.  Slide show after the jump.

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Posted in Editorial, What Happened Today | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

The View Up There – Nobody Should Die From Colon Cancer

The basis for my provocative and seemingly bold title will become evident below.

Ever since my appendectomy six years ago, I’ve had gastro-intestinal distress (belly pain), to some degree, on and off.  I’ve been to the ER twice, with CT scans taken… both negative.

My doctor urged me to get a colonoscopy back when I was 48 years old.   The recommendation was a bit early (normally at age 50), since there is a family history of cancer.  For a lot of reasons (none of them good), I procrastinated…. and procrastinated.  And, I believe this is fairly typical.  It just doesn’t sound like fun, right?  I’m now 53 years old.  So, I’m about 5 years past due!

The most recent E.R. visit was this past December, while in Arizona for my son’s hockey tournament.  I was worried that something bad was imminent.  Nope.  Blood labs and CT were normal.  The folks at the E.R. in Arizona said, “You need to get a colonoscopy back home.”

Get OUT of my belly!

fat bastardGoing further back… Last October, my GI distress reached a point that put me in the doctor’s office on an urgent basis, in this case, the day before an out-of-state hockey tournament.  I was in a LOT of pain.  I was bloated and VERY tender in the lower abdomen.  He suspected diverticulitis and prescribed a regimen of two rather nasty antibiotics (Flagyl and Cipro).  This seemed to help.  He again urged me to get the colonoscopy.  I scheduled it and then canceled.  My excuse was my daughter’s chemo was about the same time, and she wasn’t feeling well.

Then last month, my belly started to talk to me again.  It wasn’t bad, but I wanted to nip it in the bud rather than wait until it got to the same point as last time.  I went back to my GI doc.  He palpated my belly, which wasn’t too tender this time, and then told me… “We’ve GOT to look around to see what’s going on, dumbass!”  OK…. He didn’t SAY, “dumbass.”   😉   My wife and office manager worked together to schedule my colonoscopy this time.  It was a go!

A flush beats a straight!

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Posted in Editorial | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Skinner Sights – A Shooting Gear Review

A few years ago, my wife got me a beautiful rifle for Christmas, a lever-action .22LR-caliber Browning BL-22 Grade II with Maple stocks.  I love it.  It’s the one “pretty” gun in my modest collection.

Check out the gorgeous “flamed” Maple stock! Oh, baby!

A closer look at the Maple stock. “Wood people” call that iridescent effect, “chatoyance.”

Getting old sucks!

The Browning BL-22 comes with traditional open iron sights – “buckhorn” rear sight and simple post front sight, both black.  To be honest, with my 53-year old eyes, I wasn’t very accurate with it.  A worthy plinker, but that’s about it.  In any case, I love the rifle.

On an internet forum dedicated to rimfire guns, I learned about some hand-crafted aftermarket sights from a company called, Skinner Sights.  Their sights use a rear “peep” sight, which is effectively a small aperture (standard is 0.096 inches, or 2.43-mm) that you look through, centering the front post sight in it.

It’s here!

My order arrived very quickly.  I followed the installation instructions on their website.  Continue reading

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Posted in Guns & Knives | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Your Practice Computer Security – The Russians Are Coming!

crime-scene-computerI had a bit of a scare yesterday.  The first thing in the morning, my office manager told me she couldn’t get the computer at the front desk working.  There was a pop-up window saying my hard drive was full.  Whaaaaaaa??   Sure enough, there it was.  Whisky.  Tango.  Foxtrot!  The computer had pretty much frozen up.  I could barely get it to do anything.

The computer has a 500 Gig hard drive, and I knew it couldn’t be even more than half full.  No way.  I checked the properties of the hard drive.  It was full.  But, full of what?  How??

Had I been hacked?  Did we get a virus?  Am I a victim of ransomware??  Please!  Not that!  Does Vladimir Putin have a vendetta against me?  I bet it’s those fucking Russians!  😉  Though, we didn’t get a pop-up ransom notice, so it probably wasn’t that.  I hope not!  But, I was sweating bullets!

I’ve got a guy!

So, I had my office manager call one of my local dentist friends for a recommendation for a “computer guy,” STAT!  Usually, the “computer guy” is ME.  I’m pretty tech-savvy, but I was too panicked Continue reading

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Posted in Current Events, Technology, What Happened Today | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The ADA “Values” My Opinion

Last night, I received an email with a link to a survey from the ADA.  Their records show I’m not a member and they want my input.  It was obvious they are becoming concerned about declining membership.

Subject:  Tell us what you think.

ada-logo

Dear Doctor: 

The American Dental Association is interested in your perceptions about member value and opinions about ADA membership. Upon completion of this survey, you will be entered to WIN one of five $100 Visa gift cards.

<link redacted>

Your participation is voluntary, but we would very much like your opinion. Please note that your answers to this survey are completely confidential and are only reported in aggregate. This survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete.  

We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us. If you have any questions concerning this survey, please feel free to contact me at 312.440.2864 or by replying to this email.

Please complete the survey by December 15. Thank you in advance for your assistance with helping us to collect this important information.

Sincerely,

Chris C. Mitchell
Director, Membership Marketing and Research

 

The questions were fairly predictable… asking about my prior experience and satisfaction with what the ADA has done.  They asked about my expectations of the ADA…. and so on.  Rating them on various categories with a range from “disatisfied” to “very satisfied” or “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree.”  At the very end, there was an opportunity to write additional comments in a text box.

This is what I wrote: Continue reading

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Posted in Current Events, Editorial, What Happened Today | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments

Second Amendment Firearms Database – Software Review

Gun collector software appA few years ago, I reviewed a program designed to help gun owners document and archive important information about their firearms, related accessories, and ammunition.  While I liked the old program I was using, the developer has apparently abandoned the project.  My copy of the old program had become buggy, and there’s no support for it anymore.   Fortunately, I recently discovered a new gun database program that is fantastic.  It’s superior in many ways.  It’s called Your Second Amendment Firearms Database (or “2AFDB” as an abbreviation later in this article).

There are a number of data points about your firearms, ammo, and related accessories you might want to keep recorded or track:

  • Receipts and other paper documents (scanned or photographed)
  • Acquired / purchased from source
  • Price paid / current value
  • Serial numbers
  • Round count (rounds fired through each gun – an “odometer,” so to speak)
  • Photos
  • Accessories
  • Maintenance and repair records
  • Modifications
  • Insurance
  • Ammunition inventory
  • Range and training log
  • Disposition / location (Is it in the safe?  Is it in the shop?  Did you loan it to someone?  Sell it?)

Why?  I can think of a few reasons.  Such records can help if you ever sell any of your firearms.  They can help in the case of loss (fire, flood, theft) for insurance claims and police reports.  They can also help diagnose issues by having a history of each gun, ammo, and your usage.  Another reason is for your own personal knowledge of how your guns are being used (a logbook), their condition, and value.  It increases your enjoyment of owning and using firearms.

Yeah, but do I need an app for that?

Sure, you could use a piece of paper in the old file cabinet or even a spreadsheet to do this.  But, a functionally-designed relational database has so much more to offer Continue reading

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Posted in Guns & Knives | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Dental Warrior Blog Stats!

I checked my blog dashboard today. It turns out that in 6 years, I’ve written the equivalent of three novels or two “thrillers.” 😎

dental-warrior-blog-stats

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