Popular Toys for Christmas 2018

Teddy Ruxpin, and I can remember buying him for my kids. But this is the Teddy Ruxpin of the digital age, touch sensors, apps, LED eyes, over 40 animations and he has an eye mask in his vest pocket. I am not asking any questions about that one. Teddy Ruxpin with eye mask, He is disguising himself as who exactly? Cute

Then there is a 3 ft by 3 ft doll house by LOL and it comes completely furnished, so in case your kids have the LOL dolls all over your house, get this and the dolls now have a place to live with a working elevator, lights and sounds, and pool, spa and sandbox. OK, let’s think this through, dolls get your house, you move in and AHH is it time to get in the Spa, or shall we go for a swim first. That was easy.

Next is the Whisper II car in pink also available in blue, and it is so cute and makes noises so everyone knows you are coming. Think I will look into finding one in my size. Really adorable, purple hood, oh I am  so there.

This adorable, super cute doggie  when fed falls asleep in your arms. Oh my gosh, he is too cute for words. Hint, when changing out the batteries, there are separate ones for his back legs. He is like precious. There are more he is the latest. Check out the bottom of his footsies and his collar and tag, and the tiny tongue, AWWW Does it get any more precious, unless it was a kitty, oh so sorry, love doggies and kitties both. Whew had to think quickly on that remark. 

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle

Pick out who you want to be, Harry, Hermione, Ron, Neville,  and begin defending the wizardly world from evil forces. This looks cool, mastering  magical spells, recruit allies, gaining influence, and just have a great time in the world of wizards. I want this game, in fact take me away to Hogwarts. Never mind the Calgon take me away, forget beam me up Scotty, take me to Hogwarts like now!

OK this is hysterical, the Grumbies, these guys do not hug and cuddle, the object of the game is to annoy, how many adults are on your Christmas list you could give this to, or were they the role model for this game. You annoy till the dude blows up and melts down. There are 3 different grumbies. I am telling you give it to the most annoying on your Christmas list, or just give it to someone who deserves it…after all Santa wants everyone to get the toys they deserve..Heh Heh Heh.

Despicable 3 Talkin Jail time Tom Minion’ has 25 different sayings and movable eyes and arms, and when you press his pocket you get like more of the greatest reactions ever. Don’t these guys remind you of a twinkie with arms and eyes and legs and shit. I mean look at the body shape, Twinkie all the way. 

Nerf and Strike Mega Strike Mega Furry Blaster, you are on your own with this one. Fires 10 darts at once without reloading. Stay out of the room where your kid is firing this, is all I can tell you. Think I want one too. could use this at work. Couldn’t you?

OK this one is an inappropriate appropriate game for mischief makers. This got all kinds of awards, so I am thinking kids need to think with this game. The front of the box says it all. I like this one as well. 

 

We remember these rain boots from when we were kids.  Well, they’re back and better than ever this season.  They’re comfortable, water tight, and super safe.  More importantly it’ll keep their little feet dry and warm when the weather is cold and yucky and they come in all kinds of bright colors. And kids love to splash in puddles and what better rain boot for that than this one. In fact I would love a pair in this rubber ducky yellow color, wonder if it comes in my size? Never let it be said that I would pass up a puddle. Man, gotta have these rubber ducky yellow boots.

 

Now this is the ultimate LEGO build for the kiddos this year!  It’s the official Ferris Wheel and, better yet, when put together it can actually spin!  This is one that you’ll help them with (you love working on LEGOs anyway and you know it) and they’ll have a blast getting it to work and setting up the ice cream cones, balloons, pretzels, LEGO people and more! This Ferris Wheel is something else. It is an ultimate in the LEGO builds. WOW, who wants one for Christmas, raise your hand!!!lego ferris wheel

I know for sure the rubber boots, the Ferris Wheel and the Harry Potter game,  are on my list . Do you suppose if I am on my best behavior, (well the best I can muster up), Santa would consider these gifts, or two of them, ok I gotta have the rubber boots. Oh man, I almost forgot I gotta have the dart shooter.

This was fun, and I am looking up more toys, it has been so neat doing this.

I got the list from simply looking up best toys for 2018 and it gave me brostrick.com. All smart ass remarks are attributed to me.

Happy Thanksgiving Janet,

A year has gone by but that hole in my heart will remain there always.

Love, Little One

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Random thoughts

This is Friday and I had some very simple thoughts floating around in my head.

First of all my birthday was Monday the 22nd,  absolutely worst birthday I have ever had. All I wanted to do was go home as soon as I could after work, or during, I did not care. It would seem Saturday there was a bit of a fiasco that I did not find out about till Monday morning, that was cheerfully delivered to me. I was caught between go to hell and thank you for your care and concern. The ultimate outcome of all this may not be as bad as predicted.

I personally have never heard of keeping my car keys in the  microwave or an empty coffee can or an item such as this. It would seem our scammers are able to use our fob to our vehicle from a distance of over 30 centimeters and open our cars. So the garage has become a not so secure place for your vehicle. A couple of years ago Jeep was doing a test run with one of the vehicles and it was taken over while it was being driven by the Jeep test driver by a hacker. Lets just say Jeep immediately recalled 1.3 million jeeps. I should think so. Another way to guard your keys is to wrap them in foil  Now I can see how tedious this could become wrapping and unwrapping like a tuna sandwich, but it works. That is why the refrigerator or freezer is great. First I would check with your car maker if the fob should be exposed to these temperatures. You may make the fob useless at this point. I decided on the microwave. I can’t heat something with the fob in there, I would see it first and take the keys out, right? I somehow missed the scammers ability to take over my vehicle and/or open it take what they want, lock it, and I would never know. No fingerprints left behind on this gig.

I was also thinking about Sears and filing bankruptcy. Now Sears was a household word years ago, but I was reading some of the errors they made. First of all Sears was already doing badly, when they bought KMart who was doing badly. Now you have two big companies doing badly. I believe that is a biggie in anyone’s book. Then we have JC Penney who how they are still open is beyond me. When they see the closing of Sears, they run out and get into the appliance business big time. The first month after Sears closed 147 stores Penneys  held their own and then it all went to hell in a handbasket.  Guess what,they did not bother to check and see where the X Sears people were going for appliances. Do the names Home Depot and Lowes ring a bell?

The executives with these companies make big bucks why? Actually I was amazed that no one called them on these decisions.

Now we have eBay suing Amazon because Amazon is being accused of trying to steal sellers from eBay. First of all eBay sellers make more $$$ and on the other hand eBay treats their sellers like dirt, so I guess if you want to go you should go.  And does Amazon really need more $$$. Stealing sellers from eBay. My oh my oh my.

Sam’s Warehouse is not doing all that well either, well they are the little sister of Walmart and many times you can get the same thing at Walmart for less that Sam’s and no membership necessary. sam’s nemesis is Costco. Costco treats their employees fairly and gives raises, and better benefits. The day the minimum pay raise issued by Sam’s was going into effect, they closed a bunch of stores and left out one detail, the employees did not know till they got to work to see the sign, store closed. Shame on you Sam’s. And if you are interested here are some codes to look for above the price code the number 1 is good sale, A and N will try to keep the product at all times, O One time only, S is Seasonal, C cancelled expect a sale on this item. Can’t swear by them but there they are.

And Janet it’s been a week, not one of my best, sure wish I could run home pick up the phone sit back with a coffee and tell you all about it. I miss you my dear dear friend. I am kinda lost here. Not sure what all this is about..Bye Janet, its just little one here signing off

 

Stay safe out there

Shirley

Dear Janet

Dear Janet,

It has been a long time since I have written and I made myself sit down and do this today. It has been almost a year since you died, I never understood the word passed, passed what, nobody passed, they died. I don’t get that and I really don’t care enough to find out why that word is used, it is stupid, the word is DIED.

It is just as bad now as it was when I was told you died. It does not change, I still on a daily basis think oh, I need to tell Janet that. And then I stop and remember, no can’t pick up the phone anymore and just call. There are times when I don’t think I can stand it, and then I do of course continue to go on.

I have to go to the doctor every 3 months because of the ADHD to get my meds, as you know. Well, one day on my appt the girl at the front desk asks me if for today would I see one of the PA’s. and I go fine, I am there for med check so I am ok, but that day I was not in a good mood. She says hello and I say hello, simple chit chat, then she says how are you and I said profoundly sad, my best friend died, and she does her I am so sorry, you will get through the grief, and blah bla blah, and I looked at her, and I was quiet for a moment and I stated, no people do not get over it, they go on, but they never get over it. She looked at me and said Oh you are just at the angry stage now, and I said if there is any anger it is directed towards you at this moment for having a total lack of ability of understanding what I am saying to you or maybe you lack the understanding that is needed at the moment . You are a therapist are you not, and this is a Psychiatrists office is it not,  or is it you just don’t give a damn and think mouthing platitudes is a sufficient response to my expressing where I am at, profoundly sad. Well, it is very clear to me that I have challenged you beyond your capabilities so, I leave you with this,  you can eat shit and bark at the moon, and we shall not meet again.

Well, that went well. My next visit was with the Doc himself and he was so nice and understood how I felt and that I should continue to talk to you and then he said it is understandable how you feel, and this is a void that can’t be filled. I thought, he understands and he had the kindest gentlest smile as he said you will always grieve. But you will go on, not the same but you will make it. I thought damn, he knows how I feel. Anyway that was a good visit, and I did behave myself and i said thank you, and good bye see you in 3 months.

We have not been as busy as we were before Harvey. I remember telling you I ran to the grocery store and was hell bent on getting the carpet cleaner, and I notice all this water being purchased by everyone, and thought, yeah its hot out but, whatever, the ADHD brain is concentrating on the carpet cleaner, and off I go, never giving it another thought about the hundreds of gallons of water being purchased. I called you and went on about whatever and then got to the water, and you calmly said there is a major hurricane headed for Houston, I shall assume you have not paid attention to the weather reports, so I find this the proper time for you to write down what I tell you to purchase so that you will have sustenance with this storm coming. The first thing she says for me to write down is WATER.  I started to laugh and thought better of it. And then she proceeded to give me the rest of the list, since she knows what I like and that cookies needed to be somewhere at the top of the list. I remember her telling me she was prepared to call me as I might not pay attention to the weather reports and wonder what all the scurrying about is about, and then proceed to tell me what to do.

As I think about and write this my eyes fill with tears as it still does not seem possible that you are gone. I would give everything I own to speak to you one more time. I think of trying to tell this woman with an IQ off the charts how to take pictures and transfer them to the computer, reading about the Rothschilds to her on the phone, it was a review of a book on them and I told her I hope he used a pen name or he is a dead man, you agreed.

There is no one for me to talk to really. I have wanted to get your advice on so many things and I remember things you have told me and make my decision based on this, and hope it was the right one. I am famous for just doing something off the cuff the same way I have yet to discover what the word budget means. You seemed to get quite a kick out of that as I recall.

The same thought still haunts me, do you understand how much you are missed and how much I loved you. You saw me through the last divorce and oops the one before that as well, I remember calling you every night on the way home from work and telling you I can’t do this one more time, and you said yes you can it will be over soon, I make one request, I would ask what, and the same answer, keep that mouth of yours shut.

It was not supposed to happen this way, no matter how much planning or one’s desire to have it different, this shit happens. You loved life, and I remember that daily. I know when I write this on WordPress, I probably repeat things but it bears repeating. I had so hoped to come to Florida in the Springtime of this year, it was to be a surprise, imagine that,the surprise was on me.

You are gone and your last words to me continue to haunt me as does the fear of you not knowing how much you were loved, “little one, you must do something, they have no idea what they are doing, you must tell them what to do”.

I go over this and over this and over this, the doctors would not speak to me I was not blood relative, and that idiot daughter of yours did nothing to help. So I am left to wonder if she told you I tried to speak to the physicians, and for sure you did not know how much she did not do to assist in this matter. I let you down and I know you, since you would defend me at the drop of a hat, you would say little one, you did all you could, and there is nothing to forgive. Ah, but there is.

Love,

Little one

Everyone be safe out there.

Identity Theft

I know everyone is sick of hearing about it, but since I have spent so much time writing about all the scams going on from FDA, I thought I would touch on this one. and I have a very good reason. I can tell you it is not a picnic to do all the things necessary to protect yourself and report the theft.

In August I get a message from Lifelock that someone has applied for a loan, small one but nonetheless, they used my information. Lifelock says did you do this I say no, and we are off and running. I get a message directly from these people telling me that I am inches away from receiving my loan. Now this message comes to my email address. So by the time I get the email from this company, they are closed. I found that most irritating, because now I have to wait till morning.

So I call this company as there is a real phone number that works, imagine that, and tell them who I am and that I received an email about a loan and I wanted them to know wasn’t me, you can mark that one fraud. Now this woman on the phone asks me for more info, I say uh no. She said ok what is email address, I tell her and then she says  yes this is you. Then she proceeds to tell me that individuals apply to a third party who then reach out to see if there are any “financial institutions” who would be willing to loan whatever the amount is. She says so we have no idea who applied, and I say you have the name of the third party who sent it to you. Who are they? She says any number of “third parties” can do this. I say thank you, and I want to commend you for all the assistance you have given me.

Next step and the first anyone wants to do is go to FTC. Of course there is a special section devoted just to this with instructions on what to do and it is a laundry list. Number one is fill out what information you have with the company who was going to process this loan, on FTC site. This particular one at least had a phone number and address. Then you need to file a police report and go there in person, report to all the credit agencies, report to your bank, report to your credit cards, report it to IRS, and any other financial institution you are connected to.

Now one of the first things I did was go to the Police Department Identity Theft site and see what they had to say. They have an Identity Theft Kit you can download and print. One afternoon I look them up thinking I might be able to go in online, give them some info and presto I am out of there. No, that is not what happened. I see that I will have to print this “kit”. Now the tray on the printer that catches the paperwork, had been knocked off  several times, funny thing, they do not snap back into place, and they never stay on the same once knocked off,  and of course It was me who did this.

So just as I hit print, a customer comes in and as this report is printing and I think oh well a few pages, whatever, no as I am speaking to the customer, pages are flying out of the printer at record speed. My customer is laughing as the papers are everywhere behind me, and I am knee deep in papers. Who would have thought. My customer offered to help me but I can’t let him behind the counter, so I said thank you and then I turned around to pick them up. The pages were numbered but there were a dozen sections. I kind of groaned and got it all together and immediately stapled each section.

In the days that followed there were 5 more applications for loans made with my personal information. I simply added them to the list on the FDA site and then made copies of the report. The Identity Theft Kit, spells out everything you need to do to cover yourself. It is a lot of paperwork and in my case hunting down these fly by night financial institutions, and I use that term lightly, and get some kind of address or phone number so I can sent them this report. As well as the police, IRS, 3 credit bureaus, bank, credit cards, and anyone else I can think of.

I will say this everyone connected with FTC, law enforcement, and Lifelock bends over backward to help and give you instructions on what to do and how to do it. Oh yes, after I had a field day writing about the breach at Equifax, they were first to jump in to help and tell me what to do as well. Ate a little crow that day.

It is a major pain, and worrisome, and you just want to find out who is doing this. Since we believe in being armed down here in the Lone Star State, I intend to shoot and ask questions later..

Stay safe out there,

Shirley

FTC, De Beers and Lab Gemstones

FTC is part of this but not like I usually write about. The latest scams afoot. This pertains to the jewelry guidelines FTC has placed on the jewelry industry or to anyone selling a piece of jewelry like on a website. In other words FTC is saying tell the truth, now isn’t that a novel idea.  As stated before FTC wants the consumer to get a fair shake and that includes buying jewelry. download (5)

You can’t lie about what metal is being used, or what gemstone it is , and what type of treatment did the stone receive. These have to be divulged to the consumer. If you think this happens everyday think again.

At the moment I am going to give you an example of what I see everyday. A nice little old lady from the East Coast is selling some very nice items on a website I will not name, and she is touting a vintage ring that belonged to her great grandmother and it has this bright blue stone set in it that has not received any treatment. There are two things wrong with this scenario, if this is a vintage ring from let’s say the 20’s or 30’s, the stone she calls a Tanzanite was not discovered until 1967 and every Tanzanite has received heat treatment to give it that gorgeous purple/blue so admired by gem collectors. Tanzanite is not neon blue. Someone is going to pay $375.00 plus her outrageous shipping charge of $15.00 for a 3 oz package and never bother with having it checked out and this customer has been bamboozled.. That is not right by any stretch of the imagination. That is what FTC is saying to anyone who sells jewelry, tell the truth. The flip side is if someone takes it to their jeweler and the info she stated is a lie, this will come back to bite, and if the info is made public which it would be she has really damaged her reputation for the future and what items she has sold, well these customers make take their items to a jeweler to validate what they purchased. It seems to be a new concept to tell the truth about what you are selling or FTC would not be busy 24 hours a day protecting consumers from sellers who lie about the items they are selling. I don’t care if it is an individual or a company.  I sell jewelry and I work at a jewelry store  and you can bet your bottom dollar it would never occur to me or to the store owner to lie about any item we have for sale. blue spinel 11 ct 12,800

We also have some sellers selling Mahaleo rubies, as if this was special. GIA does not even recognize this as a gemstone. Why, because it is lead filled and if the stone takes an accidental hit,  we now have ruby dust. These “stones” are red but to give the appearance of uniformity pump it with some lead to fill the fissures, and the color becomes a very pretty red ,even with some translucency, but we have sellers who are not divulging this information to customers who purchase them. The problem is it is not a genuine “ruby”. Now if the seller divulges all this and people buy them that is on the buyer as the information about the treatment of the stone has been divulged to him or her. mahleo ruby

Now on to lab stones. Lab grown stones have been around for quite sometime. The diamond cartel De Beers is going to be selling lab diamonds in blue, pink and white come September. The name of the company is Lightbox. The stones will be in  3 colors and a one carat stone will sell for $800.00 half carat $400.00 and down the line. They will have earrings, rings, pendants with these one carat stones and I have to say the stones are drop dead gorgeous. The impact this has had on all the lab growing diamond companies has been amusing. Remember De Beers is the big kahuna in the diamond world . As one long time veteran cutter said its like they are Elvis, If they smoke pot ,it gives everyone permission to smoke it. De Beers has just said without saying anything they approve of lab diamonds. pendant and earrings de beers lab

  • Now the FTC has shown a bit of favoritism towards lab gemstones. They dictated that the jewelers advertising “from the earth” stones can’t call them  natural diamonds and that is because lab gemstones test positive for diamond, emerald, whatever. They have the same optical and physical characteristics as the”from the ground stone”. This only added fuel to the fire for gemstone dealers dealing with from the earth gemstones. Now don’t get me wrong lab gemstones are not cheap and even GIA will grade them, but the fact remains they are cheaper than the from the ground stone. It makes stones more affordable for some who would never be able to afford even a one carat diamond. or a 4 carat sapphire., for example. And FTC also said the diamond merchants, or jewelers can’t call their stones eco friendly stones, they are to cease and desist now. There are quite a few jewelers and jewelry stores who are not happy with De Beers at this time. Just one of the reasons they are complaining is that De Beers is not including engagement ring in any part of their marketing.  That’s the big complaint? Why does every solitaire diamond have to be an engagement ring? Is there a rule book somewhere I don’t know about that  says only brides can wear a solitaire diamond, I have done it three times and it just didn’t take., now  I have a one carat solitaire that I wear as a “ring”. And somewhere in the fallout from the announcement about Lightbox, the CEO or another higher up said he would buy a lab stone for his daughter, And many in the jewelry industry just had a fit, an honest to goodness conniption fit and they went on and on about it. This is his company, do you think it wise to say something like, oh no I would never let my daughter wear one of our pink, blue or white lab diamonds. That’s a new marketing technique , speak badly about your product that is being released to the public in less than 30 days.  De Beers

So De Beers came out ahead again. The other lab diamonds are sold for more than $1000 a carat and now De Beers has the blue and pink diamonds which are stupid expensive in the real world, like does the Hope Diamond ring a bell, the one that  resides in a burglar proof glassed in case at the Smithsonian Institution valued at half a billion dollars. The colored diamonds are just plain rare and no one can afford them except the very few, the untreated ones that is. Those that have been treated are considerably less expensive, but they would still be far more than the Lightbox pink or blue one carat diamond. I am all for new technology especially this kind,  and the creation of lab stones has gotten more and more sophisticated. Check out the Chatham lab gemstones.

So all in all the lab gemstone just got the stamp of approval , and the truth is a jeweler with the naked eye can’t tell the difference between diamond, Moisannite, or a Russian cut lab diamond. It is not possible and more than one prominent jeweler in the US admitted this.We have some top of the line jewelry stores who have decided to carry lab stones and then we will have to wait and see if the company with the blue box will carry them as well. I have no doubt that some of the employees with this particular company would have their eyebrows permanently arched over the thought of carrying  lab diamonds or any other lab gemstone.lab pink diamond

I confess I am excited about Lightbox, I admit it, I guess I did not hide it very well. I can’t wait. I see them as a diamond from De Beers, it does not get any better than that. I know what you are thinking. I still can’t wait for Lightbox to open.

 

Stay safe out there,

Shirley

Did your favorite celebrity get in touch with you

Did your favorite celebrity reach out to you on social media? Are you sure that is who it was?

Scammers will try anything to separate a consumer form their money, they are like trolls under a bridge, they are everywhere. They have now hit the celebrity circuit. They are posing as celebrities and asking for donations for claiming a prize, donating to a charity, or giving help of some kind and that will be in the form of money without question.

Imposter scammers operate the same way no matter who they are impersonating. They always pretend to be someone you trust, government agencies, charities, and now celebrities. Picture this, your friend tells you,  Leonardo di Caprio just got in touch with me on Facebook and asked for a donation to a cause near and dear to him, saving endangered species and I donated $500, I did not want him to think I was cheap. I just love him, he is so handsome and I just love his movies, and I know how he feels about saving animals, after all he headed up the Save the Tiger, with World Wild Life. So now your $500 just went to a scammer, it did not go to Leonardo. And now that you have told everyone you know that Leonardo reached out to YOU for a donation, smiling ever so proud of yourself, well don’t be,you just threw $500 away, it is now in the hands of a scammer laughing all the way to the bank. We are a gullible lot, and mention a celebrity and people go stupid.  I don’t get it. Got the picture. Everyone knows there is a group of celebrities who donate and donate a lot to their favorite causes. You may not give a rat’s ass about their causes, but because it is a celebrity consumers empty their pockets. SMH

So if you fell for this, and decide to research it after the fact instead of before,  go to  whoever you got to fund this transaction, your bank, credit card, etc and explain it was a fraud, and report this to FTC and for sure put it all over FaceBook. So now before parting with your money and telling everyone you know that some celebrity got in touch with YOU, do your research. Another reason we keep FTC busy, we as consumers are not too bright.

I am also here to confess, I am a card carrying member of the Identity Theft Club. I got an email from some loan company thanking me for applying and just go to page two to finalize this and the money is all mine. Well first of all I did not apply, so I call this company and told them who I was and said I got your email, now I have a news bulletin for you, I did not apply. She goes uh I guess we mark this as a fraudulent application, and I said uh yes that is exactly what you do. I had already been notified by Life Lock that this had occurred, They simply asked did you apply for a loan, and I said no and then the email comes a few hours later, from the loan company.  So now we have Life Lock aware of it, they notify Transunion who in turn notifies Experian and Equifax, and then I have to personally get reports from two agencies who would have the details in their records, file police report and this is to continue to get 5 years free monitoring from the 3 credit bureaus. The peculiar thing about this is I got the report from Tele Chex and nothing popped up and why would you use my email address to verify that the loan was approved knowing I will read it and know instantly I did not do this. I have an idea who did this and the more I think about it I think I am correct. So I explained my theory to an attorney and he even said sounds reasonable to me and you may have something, now proving it is another issue, but I intend to find a way. Oh yes, and of course give FTC what information I have. If you go to your local police dept and go to identity theft, they have a kit that you download, I was not expecting 80 pages, It is unbelievable, took me forever to get it in order as the tray on the copier broke, ( yes I did that), and all these papers are flying everywhere, because I am waiting on a customer and can’t stop to get my catchers mit to grab all the pages, preferably in some kind of order.  SIGH

And I got a speeding ticket for going 72 in a 40 mph zone. I thought things were going rather well,  until the Sheriff  asked me did I know what the speed limit is and I could not say I knew, so I said 55 mph, and it was 8 years ago,  and was told , no Miss it’s 40. I say 40!!!, see all the exclamation points, why don’t we all get out and push our cars down the highway, it took under 5 seconds for me to get the ticket. Oh yeah, it was a woman, so I figured I had little chance of getting out of it. I have always gotten out of it before when it was a male Sheriff, Constable, HPD, yes stopped by all of the above, I think the only law enforcement agency I have not been stopped by is Texas Rangers. SIGH

Then had a small fire outside the store. Outside at the end of the cement walkway is a lot of green bushes that also have a tendency to grow into the power lines, anyway there are what were once upon a time planters, now I have asked the grounds people to cart them off numerous times, they have debris, dead leaves and so forth and with the heat and it is dry, this is a fire waiting to happen, do they pick them up, no. About a quarter after  6 PM a customer and his wife leave and 2 minutes later the wife rings the bell over and over and I look up and let her in, and she says there is a fire at the corner of the building. To myself, I say, of course there is, I get up go out to see what I am dealing with and bring water with me, as this is not electrical or chemical so I am ok, and this customer pours the water on it, in the meantime a woman in her car who was across the street drives up and says he is starting a fire, because she saw my customer bending over pouring water, I say he didn’t start it he is putting it out. She becomes rather sheepish, and the customer and I come back in, and presto fire extinguisher, and we go out and put it out just as its going to go up this bush and that would have taken about 3 seconds to become a problem. In the meantime corporate, bless their hears, is calling me to tell me about the fire, I go really, I said yes and I need to go now. Fire dept shows up tells us great job and then they saturate the area with water so they do not have to come back later. I say thank you and all is well. The owners still 3 weeks later have not removed the planters nor asked about the fire.

Yes, things are going swimmingly this month and it is so hot here, even if there is a breeze, it is just hot air, but this is whole lot better than this time last year, its been  10 days less than a year when Harvey hit, so we will take the heat, bring it on. None of us are going to melt, and it has last year at this time beat all to hell.

Stay safe out there, I am making a concentrated effort to,

Shirley

Swedish crown jewels object of smash and grab, mystery of blue diamond solved

Swedish police reported on Tuesday that thieves performed a smash-and-grab robbery at the medieval Strängnäs Cathedral, near Stockholm, making off with jewel-encrusted gold crowns dating to the early 1600s before escaping in an open-top speedboat. At press time, the robbers were still at large. 

The heist, which feels like a scene out of The Italian Jobincluded the crowns and a gold orb adorned with a crucifix, all belonging to Swedish monarchs King Charles IX and his wife Queen Christina (1573–1625).

The Associated Press reports  that one of the bejeweled crowns and the orb, which date to 1611, were made for King Karl IX’s funeral—and that the other crown dated back to 1625 and was used in Queen Christina’s (1626–1689) funeral. All three pieces were at one time buried with their monarchs but were later exhumed for display. .crown jewels sweedish

Visitors were touring the cathedral, where the jewels were on display, when the heist happened just before noon.

“The alarm went off when the burglars smashed the security glass and stole the artifacts,” Catharina Frojd, spokesperson for the 14th-century cathedral, told The Associated Press.

Before jumping into a speedboat parked on the edge of Lake Mälaren, the thieves sped away from the scene on stolen bicycles equipped with baskets and a child’s seat, according to the police report.

Like all heists of famous jewels, this one’s a head-scratcher. You can’t actually sell famous jewels; their high visibility makes them kryptonite, even for dealers of stolen goods.

That very fact may be why the the last heist of royal jewels in Sweden ended so bleakly. In 2013, a crown and scepter used in the funeral of Sweden’s King Johan III were taken from the city of Västerås, also located on the shore of Lake Mälaren.

Police eventually restored the precious items—which they found stuffed into two large trash bags on the side of a highway.

Mystery of the Blue Diamond solved

One of the world’s famous diamonds—the Hope—is blue. So is the Blue Moon, one of the world’s most expensive.

But where do those diamonds get that color? It turns out the answer to that question is, well, kind of deep.

According to new research by Gemological Institute of America (GIA) research scientist Dr. Evan Smith, blue stones form in the depths of the Earth, far lower than most white diamonds.

Smith, who published his findings in the most recent edition of the journal Nature, says this answers “a geographical enigma”: The color of blue diamonds is caused by boron. And yet none of that element is found in the Earth’s mantle, where most diamonds form.blue diamond bystery solved

But after studying numerous inclusions in blue diamonds, Smith concluded that those gems were formed in the lower mantle of the Earth, more than 660 kilometers down. By contrast, most diamonds are formed at depths of 150 to 250 kilometers. Until recently, the lower mantle was not believed to contain gem-quality diamonds.

Yet in that “super-deep” part of the Earth, the boron that colors blue diamonds may have originated in the ancient seafloor, Smith says. Those diamonds then rise to the Earth’s interior through the process of subduction, where one geographic plate sinks to the level of another plate. (The subduction process also produces earthquakes and tsunamis.)

Of course, this doesn’t happen all that often—one reason why blue stones are super rare and valuable.

Smith has called diamonds “a window into the deep Earth,” and his study has helped not just  the understanding of diamonds, but also the elemental forces that shaped the Earth, GIA says.blue moon in a box

The study—which was coauthored by Steven B. Shirey, Carnegie Institution for Science; Stephen H. Richardson, University of Cape Town; Fabrizio Nestola, University of Padova; Emma S. Bullock, Carnegie Institution for Science; Jianhua Wang, Carnegie Institution for Science; and Wuyi Wang, Gemological Institute of America— you can see the study on the GIA website. The kicker is of course that blue diamonds get their color from trace amounts of boron which is not found anywhere in the earth’s mantle where other diamonds form, so you got to go deeper and find out exactly where boron was with reference to our earth’s history. and of course it was in the sea that is later covered by land and then the subduction process and its as simple as that, yeah right!

I thought this was fascinating about the blue diamond. I knew that GIA was bound and determined to solve the mystery of the blue diamond. They also discovered that Beryllium would rarely if ever be in the same area as chromium but in the case of the Russian Color Change Alexandrite that is exactly what happened making it one of the rarest and most expensive gemstones on earth. alexandrite ruby red and green blue

The Swedish Crown Jewel caper is interesting simply because now that you have stolen these priceless gems what are you going to do with them, they could not have purchased a stick of gum, oh well nothing else to do today, lets steal some crown jewels, but oops what do we do now because we just figured out we can’t take them to Pawn One so, i guess we better dump them. So I say to these geniuses, line up buyer then steal crown jewels. You were not paying attention in Smash and Grab 101.

Have a great week-end and stay safe.  Shirley

(Image courtesy of Gemological Institute of America) and for your discovery

 

Twelve commandments of Houston or your city

I wrote this for the store blog and then got to thinking, just because I used Houston, because it is my home of course, it could be about almost any big city in the US  All cities of any size have problems and we all share some of the same ones. For example, people who for whatever reason refuse to put a shopping cart back in the place provided. Lazy, inconsiderate, and rude. They are left to roll into another car, left in parking spots. And you hope you run into someone who does it so you can tell them off. There are some differences, mass transit has somehow escaped us. This city is 627 square miles. 

Our 59/610 inter change is a massive 10 to 12 lanes for each and we have several of these. Our I-10 is the largest freeway in the US. So I know you all have some just like we do.  And it is never a good idea nor should anyone kill any animal that is so necessary to the eco system, so that means they all are. Our little possums are the cleanest cutest guys around, Amazing little guys, I took care of one that got separated from his mom and named him Freddie, and took care of him till he could be on his own. One thing about them they love cat food, and since I feed a couple of cats outside , I caught a family of possums enjoying a snack or two. I came out the patio door to set the food down and thought they should be here soon, when here comes a little possum and he looked at me as if to say, you got the goods, cause I need a snack. I put it down and started taking pictures when two more little ones and big brother showed up. So that is my story about the O Possum family.

CAR POOLING

Because that hippie commie pipedream known as “functional mass transit” continues to elude this city, buddy up and zip down in just one two ton , carbon belching deathtrap. Trust us – the savings in congestion , gas money, and traffic-based existential dread really do add up.

Thou Shalt adopt an animal

(and pick up after it) Follow your favorite shelter on instagram or whatever and squealing at all the cuties that come passing by ready for adoption. So responsible people out there adopt a pet and pick up after it, no poop in the neighbors yard. i would adopt them all.

Thou shalt be civically engaged

If you find that you really would like to see changes from the questionable morals and ill-advised politics, then follow indivisiblehouston.org. This is a non partisan progressive group and follow the latest on protests and activism throughout the region,

Thou shall support local artists.

Peruse the 55 acre Sawyer Yards creative campus in the Fifth Ward. These industrial warehouses are full of sculptors, artisans, and painters. Also attend the Bayou City Arts Festival where more than 300 artist hawk their work against the scenic backdrop of Memorial Park. Please no more Chevron prints from Target.local artist

Thou shalt learn to merge

Most Houstonians jammed at the 59/610 inter change wouldn’t let Beyonce  merge even with JJ Watt in the passenger seat. Suck it up and properly learn to zipper merge. in which drivers fold in continually as they reach the end of a lane-research shows this would drop congestion by as much as 40%.

Thou Shalt return your grocery cart. 

This is one of the most annoying habits many have adopted Are people that lazy that you can’t walk the cart to the designated areas. Most of those people could use the exercise. Yet many once cart is empty let it roll into another car, or let it sit in a parking space rather than once again put it where it belongs. Is that a difficult concept? When you are through with the nice clean cart you have been provided put it up!!!

Thou shalt recycle

We all know we need to do this and how beneficial it is for our planet. So take the time to do it. Make it a family project , teach your children the importance of recycling. Let’s see oh yeah it keeps harmful wastes out of our waters and away from our wildlife. Fact, it only take 4 plastic bags and Flipper will go belly up. So just get in the positive habit of recycling.

Thou Shalt know your city

No one can fully understand this city unless you have taken the “toxic tour” This is done several times a year by environmental non profit TEJAS and you will get a good long look at the ravages done by the chemical plants and refineries. It’s a shocker. You can’t know much about this city of 627 square miles if you if you don’t read and subscribe to local newspapers and magazines, and broadcasts. Get your head out of the computer and your cell phone, stop texting every two seconds and read about this city. Now you will be able to say you know something about the city you live in.

Littering

Ok enough with throwing bags of trash out the window, flicking cigarette butts out the window of a car and the most disgusting of all slinging dirty diapers out a car window, may the next dirty diaper land on your windshield to all those guilty of this. Do yourself a favor and look at pictures of littering, turns your stomach, if not it should, no wonder they find dead bodies in piles of litter, no one would ever know it’s there. 

Thou shalt not kill possums and snakes

Both are extremely vital to the eco system. Here is a novel thought read about it, see just how beneficial they are. No one said they were adorable (I think possums are) but they are vital. Possums are the best thing going for killing off all the bad stuff in your garden . They do not carry rabies, they are the champion garbage disposal. They are immune to poisonous snakes except the copperhead.  They are clean little animals so stop already with thinking they are some rabid rat. Like I said look them up, read!!!baby possum

Thou shalt park your friggin car

Stop driving and driving until you can find the perfect parking spot as close to your destination as possible. Park your truck or car and walk. It won’t hurt you and it is usually the people who need the walk the most that keep circling and circling so that all the walkers can smell your exhaust fumes. This is another pet peeve of mine. Unless you are in ill health you will be fine, yes it is hot, news flash you won’t melt. Walk, it will do you good and for most it is the only form of exercise you will get.

Thou shalt speak with someone different from you

You might learn something . In the grocery line or anywhere you find yourself standing in line with everyone else. You might even do it gasp at the bus stop. Take opportunities large and small to engage with the tapestry of humanity before you. As I said God forbid you should learn something about another culture.

 

So be safe out there and take care, Shirley

The featured image is Houston at twilight.

Customer Service

Does customer service exist anymore. I was invited to join a site called Alignable, businesses in your area connect so you can get referrals from each other. That is all fine and dandy except it depends on whether your business and theirs have clientele that would be using your services ever. The point of this is a question was asked by another business and anyone who wanted to answer could. The question was what is more important to you price or customer service. To me, this is a no brainer, customer service.

A good customer service person can make the difference between a customer going back to that business or not. It is so much more pleasant to shop or conduct business at a place where the people are friendly and helpful and know how to think and work outside the box and be educated about the company they work for. You want to be able to trust the businesses you shop at or work with. Because the day may come when there is a problem and unless you have this good relationship going on you may find yourself up the proverbial creek. If you shop based strictly on price, you may be in for a big surprise that customer service is almost non existent, and the least they have to do the better.

All in all employees need to make it a pleasant experience for customers wherever they go to shop or do business, and employees need not make the sales-y attitude the only way you speak to your customer..

We all know what good customer service is, but I find with a few exceptions that it no longer exists. A couple of weeks ago I had an eye injury that required emergency room treatment. In the center where our store is located, there is a fully equipped emergency center, or at least there was one. I go great, so I run into Today’s Vision  and am kind of in a bit of a panic, because I know I need immediate care. I run in there no customers at the front desk and say excuse me, explain my problem, and could you please direct me to the nearest ER. There are two men there, one young Asian man and some other overweight guy sitting at his computer who never turned around to say or do anything, I am in an eye clinic and this guy sits there like a fat toad and for all I know never even blinked while I asked for help. The young man looks over at our toad sitting there and then goes ahead and gives me directions. Thank you and I am gone.  I was completely  taken aback that this guy just sat there and said and did nothing. It would be so convenient to go there for an eye exam, its within walking distance, but that’s ok, I will find somewhere else to go, if this is the kind of employees you staff your facilities with, no thank you. Whether or not he is the only employee they have like that, cross Today’s Vision off my list and for sure I would never send anyone there. Because of his rudeness and totally didn’t care attitude, scratch one customer.

Good customer service is also important on the phone simply because you are forced to use it when a website does not answer your questions. Last year I had to terminate my service with AT&T for my cell phone. It was a situation where there was a problem with the signal where  I work and since I am dependent on my phone at my job I need to be able to receive and make calls, so I go to Verizon to get a new phone and all that goes with that. In the meantime, my service with AT&T has terminated just about the first day of the new billing cycle. Well the next month I get a bill from the showing a full month payment is being billed for my cell phone and they are no longer the provider. So I call customer service, which is no small feat. I speak to someone and she says its for a months service I said no the service was terminated no more than 2 days into a new billing cycle. She says well I need to go to your account in the the inactive file, so please hold. I sat there for 30 minutes and figured this is not working so I hung up and called back and was told customer service is closed at this time, please call back during our normal business hours. I do this again the next night and was transferred to a supervisor and was told that they do not break up the bill and I said you can’t do the simple mathematics and charge me for the days I had service which is two days. She promptly hung up on me. Night number three is a repeat of being on hold, then finally someone comes on the phone telling me I owe for the whole month. I give up on that and go to an AT&T franchise the next week,  and explain my problem and they write off what I don’t owe. As they said at this store, we do not like to speak to customer service.

There are exceptions to everything, overall these are the two instances that I think of immediately at the mention of customer service. Another question posted by one of the businesses in the neighborhood was asking how do you make a lasting impression on a customer so they will remember you .To me. this should not even come up if you are a business that is operational. You should know what needs to be done to retain your clientele.

Surprise Surprise it’s called exceptional customer service, not fake and making empty comments about the weather,  but a true interest in your customers. In other words listen to what they are saying to you they will appreciate it. And if you are the customer, find a place where you are treated with respect and employees know how to respond to an issue you may have.