Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Thank you for smoking

This is not an anti-smoking but a pro-smoking message. You don’t see that one every day, do you? It’s true though, I’m as pro-smoking as they come and if you stick around I’ll explain why.


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Why do it yourself if others can do it for you

We’d been talking about a vacation, a real vacation, for years. So far, when we took time off work, we stayed home because we have four cats and we have nobody to look after them. But after a particularly violent illness, I decided we should take a vacation and as far as the cats were concerned, I would make a plan.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Can Writing Coaches Be Trusted Or Are They Shameless Scammers

Can Writing Coaches Be Trusted Or Are They Shameless Scammers

They say that those who can’t do, teach. Generally, people wouldn’t trust a plumber who has never touched a pipe and wouldn’t dream of hiring an electrician who doesn’t know his way around wires. Yet where it comes to writing, writers pay thousands of dollars to so-called writing coaches without checking their credentials.

Anyone can call themselves a writing coach. Some even reference articles online and books on Amazon, but have they written those articles and books or were they ghostwritten by a talented writer?

One thing scammers targeting writers do very well is talk. With their silver tongue, they can sell snow to an Eskimo.

Let’s take Michael for instance. Michael is active on social media, promising writers that they too can make thousands of dollars from freelance writing. He offers to be their coach. 

Writing Mentor – I Want to Help You Speed Up Success & Make You a Wealthy Writer

Here’s the thing… freelance writing is the easiest way to make money online fast. 

Whenever you see ads like this … RUN! Don’t believe anything these ads promise you. The only purpose of these ads is not to make you a better writer but to open your wallet. Ads like these won’t help you become a better writer, but they will make the ‘coach’ richer.

If a so-called writing coach states that he made $1,000, $5,000 or even $10,000 in one month, you can bet your bottom dollar that he didn’t do it with writing, but by scamming folks like you.
If you have a flair for writing and your ambition is to be a freelance writer, or even write and publish a book, attend a real writing course in a college or join a writing club. You won’t have to fork over thousands of dollars and you will learn from a professor or someone certified to teach.

You might argue that writing coaches have a website with testimonials of past clients. Fake, all fake! The coach himself writes those testimonials and if you see pictures of ‘past students’ you might find that they are family members, friends or people who were paid to have their picture taken.

If you want to know how to be a successful writer you can do so with minimal effort and zero dollars. I tested it on Google.

How to be a successful writer - About 582,000,000 results (0.59 seconds) 

How to write better - About 2,970,000,000 results (0.58 seconds)

How to be a freelance writer About 209,000,000 results (0.80 seconds)

How to market my work About 5,530,000,000 results (0.76 seconds)

About 901,000,000 results (0.59 seconds)

Sue, a friend of mine, is a very successful freelance writer but her success didn’t come overnight. For two years she toiled with articles and product descriptions for a handful of dollars.

Her work got noticed though and she was contacted by two websites who offered her a contract to write 20 titles per week. She earned about $500 a week. When the contract finished she set up her own website and offered her services to various organizations. Even though her rates were far from cheap, her extensive portfolio gave her credibility. Within one year she was so in demand that she had to take on two extra writers to cope with the workload.

Stories like these you can believe. It takes time, effort and considerable talent to earn a living as a freelance writer. Anyway who claims that you can make thousands of dollars within no time with little or no effort is lying.

Michael is from the only scammer who targets writers. Kary Oberbrunenr is another one. He charges his ‘students’ a minimum of $5,000 to join his so-called Author Elite Program. When I called him on it, he said “I’m not asking for people to pay me $5,000, I’m asking to invest $5,000 in their future.” Such baloney!

Shameless scammers they are and I hope you don’t fall for their tricks.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Five Ways to Reduce College Debt

Five Ways to Reduce College Debt

For a majority of students, going to college and accumulating debt goes hand in hand. That is, if you don’t have a family who can afford your education or you are not eligible for a full scholarship.  You have no choice but to figure out ways to reduce college debt.

Delay starting college

You can wait a few years before going to college and get a job.  If you can still live at home, you should be able to save for all or at least part of your tuition fees.  You might not get your dream job with only a high school diploma, but you will earn income.

Compare colleges

One of the ways to reduce college debt is to pick a local college versus a more expensive one out-of-state.  By picking a local college, you’ll save on boarding and the cost of living.  This decision alone can save you thousands of dollars each year.

If you have no choice in the matter, and you need to live away from home, get a dormitory room on campus or share an apartment off campus with other students to save money.
When considering local colleges, compare their course structure and how much they charge for each credit.  One college may be cheaper than the other with little difference in course quality.  If you have your heart set on graduating from a particular college, start your studies in a less expensive college and after one or two years have your credits transferred to the other one.

Explore your options

Before you talk to a bank about a loan, talk to the college administrator about their grants program.  Some grants amount to several thousand dollars and don’t need to be paid back.

If you do need to take out a loan, don’t wait until you graduate to start making payments.  Loans accrue interest. Even if you can only manage to pay off the interest, you’ll avoid having the loan snowball into a giant amount when you graduate.

Textbooks and materials

Give preference to used textbooks, keep them in good condition and sell them when you’re done with them.  If you’re planning on majoring in history, you might want to keep those books.  But why save books and materials from other courses if you won’t be using them.

Alternatively, you can try shopping online or get electronic textbooks when available.

After Graduation

If you don’t have a job already, get one as soon as possible.  Don’t hold out for a career in your degreed field.  Even if a potential job is not what you studied for, a salary earned as soon as possible will enable you to pay off your loans. 

If you have a job, but you’re not used to handling money, get someone to help you budget.  It’s easy to be tempted into having fun after studying for four years.  You can still make paying off your college debt a priority and enjoy your life as well.  It’s a good idea to talk to someone who can help you plan a budget and give you the benefit of their financial guidance.

If you have multiple loans, talk to your bank about consolidating your debt.  With all of your financial eggs in one basket, they might be willing to negotiate a better interest rate.
One of the smart ways to reduce college debt is by paying your loans on time, and if possible, paying more than the required amount.  If nothing else, seeing the amount of your loan go down will motivate you to keep making those payments.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

In the arms of David Schwimmer

In the arms of David Schwimmer

How many of us can say that on Valentine’s Day, they were in David Schwimmer’s arms? I can. Our encounter was very brief, only a few moments, but I was in his arms.

I was working for Warner Brothers at the time and the news of David Schwimmer’s visit to our office, on Valentine’s Day, was supposed to be hush hush, but traveled among the staff like wildfire.

Suddenly office cubicles were spruced up and on the day of the planned visit the ladies showed up as if they were expected at a red carpet event. Their hair was done, they wore a stunning outfit and those who usually wore comfortable footwear had crammed their feet in elegant shoes. They wore make-up; they wore jewelry and seemed to have taken a bath in perfume.
Whenever the reception door opened, heads turned.

But David Schwimmer kept everyone waiting, and the later it got in the afternoon, the more hopes dwindled that the star was not going to show up. It had happened before, other celebrities were expected at the office from time to time, but very seldom did such a visit actually take place.

Me? I got caught up in the excitement too but hadn’t gone to any great lengths with my appearance. I had washed my hair and wore stylish slacks and a nice top, but no more than that. If anything, as the day went by, my appearance somewhat suffered. My top was half out of my slacks, my make-up was not as fresh anymore as it had been in the morning, and I had pulled my hair in a ponytail.

Shortly after four o’clock, my boss handed me a package that had to be couriered that day.

“I think it might be too late for that,” I told her. “The courier deadline is at four o’clock.”
“Try anyway,” she pleaded. “Hurry, run and see if they will still accept it.”

So I did. I scooped up the package and set off to the reception area. In a mad rush, I flung the door wide open and mid-sprint bumped into … David Schwimmer!

My face was buried his shirt, my arms were around his chest and his were around my shoulders. I was stunned and speechless. If he had asked me for my name, I would have gotten no further than “Euh.”

I recognized him immediately of course, but he was so different than I knew him as Dr. Ross Geller on the TV series ‘Friends’. For one he was much taller than I had assumed and a lot — and I do mean a lot — better looking. He wore black slacks, a lime green shirt and his hair was not full of gel.

He wasn’t a bit upset about our accidental encounter. He merely smiled down on me and said ‘Easy there.”

I watched him disappear and remained frozen on the spot. Only when the receptionist asked “Can I help you?” did I come out of my dazed state. Could Lori help me? I didn’t know. Why was I there? I must have come to reception with a purpose. The package right, the package! Oh who cared about some stupid package when I had been in David Schwimmer's’ arms on Valentine’s Day!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

If You Think Men Are The Only Predators In Chat Rooms, Think Again

If You Think Men Are The Only Predators In Chat Rooms, Think Again

​Young girls and mature women give open invitations

I admit I spend a fair amount of time on Facebook playing Bingo. While the game is nice and relaxing, interacting with other players from all over the world in the chat rooms is often funny and uplifting. That is until some nut job starts making sexual comments or innuendos.

When this happens, members in the chat rooms are quick to give the sex talker the cold shoulder, tell him his comments are not welcome or report him for offensive language.

Yes, men are often thought of as being sexual predators and women are advised to exercise caution on websites and chat rooms. But what if the sexual predator is a woman or even a young girl?

This week someone by the name of Nikki entered the room. She greeted everyone with a “Hi” and for the longest time remained quiet. That is until someone by the name of Adam made an appearance. Nikki’s interest was sparked and she latched on.

She started by asking Adam how old he was. He replied “24”. Her next question was “Where are you from?” to which Adam replied “London, UK”.
Nikki, obviously not a geography expert, asked where that was. She then said that she was from Alabama.

After some mindless chatting, Nikki asked Adam if she could be his girlfriend. Adam did not answer.

For the next five minutes Nikki posted comments such as “Adam are yu there?” and “Adam why dont you talk to me anymoor?”

Eventually, Adam came back and asked how old Nikki was. First, she pretended to be 22, but eventually, she admitted to being 11. Adam must have heard alarm bells and seen red flags because for the next while he didn’t post any comments.

For a while, Nikki kept up her mindless chatter, to which nobody replied. She got annoyed and posted “If nobode wants to talk to me thats fine. Thats there choice. Im so bored.”

I half expected someone in the room would suggest that Nikki study English spelling and grammar, but apparently everyone was too polite to point out Nikki’s spelling mistakes.

When Adam (who we all thought had left the chat room) won the 2nd price in Bingo his name and picture flashed across the screen and Nikki shot into action.

“Adam, why are yu ignoring me?” — “I mis you” — “Do you mis me?” — “Pleese contact me, my email adres is ……”.

Adam didn’t respond and Nikki wasn’t having it.

“Adam Im talking to yu” — “anser me, did yu rite my email adres down?” — “I want to heer from yu, I want to be your girlfriend”.

Adam couldn’t be persuaded. Whether he left the chat room or merely ignored Nikki, we’ll never know but there were no more posts from him.

Nikki then proceeded to tell the room that she was looking at shirtless pictures of Justin Bieber. One woman commented if Nikki wasn’t a little young for that and Nikki let fly with a series of insults and swear words that were censored by the chat room. At this point, I had enough of Nikki’s silliness and left the room.

The next day I played Bingo again and found myself in the same room as Jasmine. Jasmine stated that she was getting married in three weeks and that she was desperate for a fling before tying the knot. Would any man please contact her at … (she gave her email address).

If some men are predators, it would seem that some women are too. The strange thing was that while women remained silent, men cautioned Jasmine about giving out her private information. They were rewarded by the comment “Mind your own business grandpa”.

Friday, February 7, 2020

There Was A Ghost In My Room

There Was A Ghost In My Room

Not a word of a lie

It was late, it was raining, and I had at least a thirty-five-minute drive ahead of me to get home. When my friend Diane offered that I could spend the night in her house, I eagerly accepted.
Diane lived with her mother in a spacious country house. The obviously old furniture in the guestroom was not quite what I had expected in the otherwise modern home.
“It’s my grandmother’s furniture,” Diane explained. “When grandma passed away, my mom decided to keep her stuff for the spare room. The mattress is new though and the sheets are fresh, so you should be quite comfortable.”
A few minutes after I had turned out the lights, I heard the door opening and softly closing. I was about to ask Diane if she had forgotten something when I heard her moving through the room, every so carefully as to not to disturb me.
I heard her by the vanity table, opening and closing drawers. By the linen cabinet, opening and closing drawers. Not wanting to make Diane feel bad for waking me up, I pretended to be asleep. But I smiled as I heard her rummaging, apparently, she could not find what she was looking for.
Suddenly I felt her sitting down on the bed. I stiffened as my body tilted towards the extra weight. Enough was enough. Diane and I were good friends, but we were not THAT close. Why was she sitting next to me? Was she about to put the moves on me?
I have nothing against the gay community, to each his or her own, but I’m as straight as an arrow. I should do something before Diane touched me and as such prevent an embarrassing situation. I reached up and switched on the light. To my utter surprise, there was nobody in the room.
Had I dreamed this? Had I fallen asleep while Diane was in my room and had she left unnoticed?
“Did you find what you were looking for last night?” I asked her over breakfast.
“Hu?” Diane said, not understanding.
“Last night,” I explained, “you were in my room, going through the drawers of the vanity table and the linen closet. I heard you but I did not want to say anything. I didn’t want you to think you woke me up.”
“Girl I was not in your room,” she said with a shake of her head. “I fell asleep the moment my head touched the pillow.”
When I told her what had happened, Diane and her mother exchanged meaningful glances. “This is not the first time this has happened,” Helen, Diane’s mother, explained. “When my sister came to stay, she also told us that she heard noises in that room. Drawers opening and closing. We laughed with it, we thought Anne was imagining things. Then when my other sister Betty stayed here overnight, she too mentioned what you just did … drawers opening and closing and seemingly looking for something. We didn’t know what to make of it but then someone told us that that room might be haunted.
“And you put ME in THAT room!” I cried.
“What other room was I going to put you in?” Diane asked. “I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t want to sleep with me. I snore.”
“What about another room?” I said. “You told me this house has four bedrooms.”
“Oh oh no,” Diane shook her head, “you definitely do not want to sleep in the blue room. That room is really creepy. That room is always ice cold, even in the middle of summer.”
After breakfast, we went to the blue room together and I did not even have to go inside to feel how cold the room was. An icy chill met me at the door while I admired the room from afar. It was wallpapered with periwinkle blue flowers against a white background. Blue drapes matched the blue of the flowers, as did the coverlet and the rugs by the bed.
When the ice white curtains fluttered in the breeze Diane turned to me. “Did you see that?” I had seen the curtain move. “The window is closed,” Diane said. “In fact, we can’t open it. I tried, my mom and brother tried, nobody can open that window, yet every now and then that curtain will move.”
We returned to the living room and as soon as politely possible, I left Diane’s house, never to return again.