In the LAPD, Code 7 is a synonym for lunch break or an opportunity to eat. Code 7 is a time to relax, joke, and share thoughts with your fellow officers. Here is what's on my mind right now ...
I'm not sure why this text is coming in as red. I've tried to change it numerous times and it's still red. Maybe it's because the message is important.
A few days ago, on Facebook, I saw a posting from a guy who had received a call from one of those scammers who claim to be from the IRS. The Facebook fellow (I'll call him Bob…I don't know his real name) videotaped his interaction with the scammer. The caller told Bob that he owed the IRS $3500.00 in taxes. Bob was wonderful. He told the scammer he'd already paid for his riding lawnmower and there was no way he could possibly owe $3500.00. The caller skipped over the fact that Bob was talking about a lawnmower and continued to tell Bob he owed the money. Bob then took the call in another direction saying he didn't want a standing lawnmower and that he wouldn't pay extra to get the riding one. This went on for a while. I urge you to watch the video. It's a little over 6 minutes long and is quite amusing – be forewarned, there is strong language used on this video. But…you'll also see just how determined these guys are and what motivates them…money. But money for what? The answer comes toward the end of the video.
Then, as luck would have it, later in the day I got a phone call from someone who identified himself as being from the state police. He told me I was under investigation. Remembering the fun that Bob had with his scammer, I thought I should have fun too. I tried to play along as I thought my mother (or some other elderly person) might react. I have to say that the caller's English was horrible and I had a very hard time understanding him. Additionally, he didn't have his headset positioned in a good place for me to hear him, so my constant requests for him to repeat things were real. When I asked him what I was being investigated for he told me that I would first have to be verified. Once I was verified I would talk to his superior who would explain what the issue was. I told him okay. The first question he asked me: "When was the last time you entered the United States of America?" I wasn't expecting that question and I asked him why he needed to know that. He repeated the question again and I asked why he needed that information. He hung up.
I got two more phone calls within the hour from different men but with the same accents and they each asked for women with foreign names. When I told one of the callers that he must have a wrong number, he lowered his voice to a whisper and told me that he was being sent over to have sex with the woman he'd originally asked for eventually hung up when I kept asking him to repeat what he'd said.
Then I got a third call and I was able to play with that guy for quite a while. He asked the same question regarding the last time that I returned to the United States and I told him it was so long ago I really couldn't remember. Then he asked me what kind of a Visa I'd entered with, or did I have a green card? I told him I had a blue card. That stumped him for a few minutes as he kept asking me what color the card was. Then he asked me what country I was from and I told him from Franiztan. If any of you are I Love Lucy aficionados, you'll know that Lucy invented the country Franiztan for one of her stunts she used on Ricky. The caller was very excited to hear I was from the middle east and asked me several times to spell Franiztan. Next, he told me that I would have to talk to his supervisor. Making a long story shorter, I never got connected with the supervisor. That was the last I've heard of them so we'll see what happens the next time they call.
I assume they're trying to figure out additional ways to get into the United States. Or, it was our federal government trying to find out why I've been researching terrorism. (Attention FBI: For a story idea.)
As a side bit of information, the scammers are on to the fact that much of the general public has been educated that the IRS won't contact you by phone. The scammers are now sending out letters.
This image was on Facebook so I would recommend that if you get a letter such as this, that you contact the IRS. Don't call any number that's on a suspicious letter. Look up online or in the phonebook and get a number for the IRS and call them and ask them if the letter is legitimate.
While I've had fun verbally sparring with these clowns who call, it is my opinion that the United States of America is at war. There are people all over the world who are trying to hurt us whether it's financially, physically, or emotionally. The scammers are upping their game and we, as a nation and society, had better wise up. Right now relationships in our country are in some of the worst places they've been in over fifty years. We need to pull together for many reasons, but most important is to fight those who are not United States citizens and who are trying to destroy us. The last time we pulled together as a nation was after September 11, 2001. Fifteen years is a long time.
Until next time,
Note to readers: I originally posted this blog on my previous website in July of 2012. However, the message still stands true. I hope you enjoy it.
Unfortunately, I have to set the scene before I can get to the 'meat' of my story.
A couple of weeks ago, I was traveling on a two-lane Interstate highway headed to Las Vegas. There were two lanes in my direction and two going the other way. Portions of the route along the north and southbound traffic lanes are divided. On the particular section I was in, there was about a fifty-yard divide between the lanes, and there was about a fifteen-foot sloping drop from the highway. It was mid-afternoon, and the roadway was fairly crowded.
The highway traffic moves at high rates of speed because it's mostly a long stretch with very few on or off ramps. Because of this fact, it would be safe to say that most vehicles are traveling at 70 mph, or better, most drivers are following the car ahead of them too closely, and frankly, it's easy to become complacent while driving. There is nothing to look at except the wide-open spaces of the high desert and the huge expanse of sky.
This road is crowded with traffic going from Southern California to 'Sin City.' For all the factors I mentioned, there are frequent traffic collisions – and for those same reasons, they are often multi-vehicle and serious in nature.
So, I'm by myself driving to Vegas. I've got the radio on, and I'm trying to think of a fabulous title for my next book. I'm in the left or 'fast' lane of the two lanes. This lane is also called the #1 lane, and the lane to my right would be called the #2 lane. I'm between Baker, California and Las Vegas, and traffic is winding its way through and down the Halloran Summit.
I'm minding my own business when a white Nissan pulls even with me. As a former cop, having a vehicle side-by-side like that is a little uncomfortable…we were always aware of the possibility of someone pulling up next to us and taking a few shots. So, I glance over to take a look at the driver. I can't see much of her face because she's wearing a big floppy hat and her head is down. What I can see is that she is a woman of at least forty, and she has dark curly hair, and she's wearing driving gloves. She too is driving alone.
Now, we're still parallel to one another and, all of a sudden, this woman starts moving over into my lane! I hit my horn while trying to slow my car and I'm precariously close to the fifteen-foot drop-off to my left. I can hear rocks and gravel being thrown into the undercarriage of my car. I've got my arms locked to keep the wheel straight and prevent me from falling off the embankment. The woman veers back into the #2 lane, and she drops her speed. I'm sure my speed had slowed, and I looked into my rearview mirror to see if I could see the errant driver. I couldn't. She's still in the #2 lane, but in my blind spot.
I don't mind telling you I was shaken. There is no doubt in my mind if I'd gone off that ledge, I would have rolled my SUV. Thankfully, the big Dodge pick-up truck that was behind me didn't rear-end me.
I'm trying to look at my right passenger mirror to see if there is any damage because I'm not positive that we didn't actually collide. I don't see any damage, but what I DO see the woman in the white Nissan pulling along side of me. I'm stunned to see that as she hurriedly drives past me, she is angrily giving me a one-finger salute also known as flipping me off!
I yelled at her, “Are you crazy?" knowing she can't hear me. I threw in a cuss word too. Oh, and you know what she had in her other hand besides the steering wheel…her cell phone.
I was steaming for about fifteen minutes after that. It wasn't the fact she'd almost run me off the road – although that DID tick me off. It was the one-fingered salute she'd had the nerve to display that infuriated me. She'd almost killed me, and THAT was her reaction?
I'm not a perfect driver, and I've made some bone-headed moves myself, but on those rare occasions when that does happen, I make a point to pantomime an apology to the driver I've wronged. I can't imagine doing something wrong and then blaming the other party. But I've been running into that situation a lot more lately.
What about you? Have you ever had someone do something wrong to you and then blame you, or go on the offensive with you?
Be safe out there!
(While this blog mentions Facebook as the social media choice, my comments apply to any of the major social media outlets).
I've been thinking about this blog for months. It all started a few months before the presidential primary. A woman I know (I know her personally, not just online) put a post on her Facebook timeline that read something like this:
If you're voting for Candidate X, you can un-friend me now.
This woman and I are not close friends, probably more like acquaintances. But I was shocked, a bit sad, and somewhat insulted by her posting. I like this woman and think she's funny, bright, smart and articulate. On Facebook, I enjoy her posts, and I think she enjoys mine. Her statement was such a startling ultimatum I took a few days to think about what I should do. Ultimately, I decided to un-friend her as she requested. To me, it doesn't matter whether or not I was voting for that particular candidate or not. Do we, as a society, really have so little tolerance or respect for differing opinions that we're willing to throw away relationships, some that are years or decades old because we don't agree on politics?
The thing is, I've seen many online political posts from people I know personally as well as people I know only via the Internet. And I don't agree with MANY of them – and that includes some of my friends and acquaintances whose political leanings are more aligned with my own. But when I see posts that I don't agree with, I just scroll past them. No matter how right I am (or I think I am J), I'm not going to post on their page and argue my point because it's highly unlikely that anything I say is going to change theirs or anyone else's mind. The job and responsibility of swaying public opinion belong to the political candidates.
So fast forward a few months, and I see more and more people, on both sides of the aisle, issuing the 'un-friend me now' ultimatum. I've also seen many folks, who'd previously stayed out of the election fracas jump in ranting with angry and biting comments. In fact, the heated and cutting comments are increasing and more forceful than ever. Yes, there are a few respectful exchanges of ideas and opinions, but those are the exception, not the norm.
I believe the current climate of social media is taking its toll. I've found myself spending less time on Facebook and my other social media outlets. Many of my Facebook friends are complaining they feel depressed and angry, and they don't know why. Others are saying they feel sad and worried by much of what they see in their newsfeed or timelines.
I'd like to offer this…(and I think I heard or saw this idea somewhere but don't remember where)
Think of your social media outlets as if you were at a cocktail party.
At a cocktail party, you most likely know the party host, but you may not know all the guests.
Would you, as a guest in someone else's home, voice your displeasure with your host's opinion about their political beliefs? Would you go so far as to yell at them and then tell them because of their political leanings you don't want to be their friend anymore, then stomp out of the party in a huff?
If you were hosting a party would you invite your friends and family to your home only to voice a political opinion knowing there was a good chance half of your guests wouldn't agree with your thought process? Would you call your guests who don't agree with your sentiments stupid, fools, or idiots, then order them from your home?
The better question is: Why would you even bring politics into the conversation? When we're standing face-to-face with someone, we're less likely to say something where the other person might take offense. We can also read the expression on their face or note their body language for their reaction to our thoughts. But from behind our computer screens, we feel a sense of…what…detachment, anonymity, power? Many folks think there is no consequence connected to their social media posts. But with friends blocking and un-friending personal friends and family over political comments made on the Internet, clearly, there are consequences.
We've all heard recommendations that when you're at a social gathering, you avoid discussing politics, religion, or anything that is a 'hot' button. Well, social media IS a social gathering.
What I try to do is avoid starting any hot button trigger topics on my social media outlets. If by chance, something gets started on my timeline or feed, I try to intervene and calm people down and tell them we're moving on from that discussion. One of my 'go-to' phrases is, "We'll have to agree to disagree on this."
Meanwhile, if your friend voices an opinion that you don't agree with on their Facebook or any other social media page, and you have the opposite opinion, move past the post without commenting. From personal experience I know it takes a whole lot of willpower to keep moving along, but it's unlikely you will sway your friend's beliefs. You have to ask yourself if publically voicing your opposing opinion is more important than your relationship with your friend or family member.
Until next time,
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