Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Friday, February 28, 2014

February Scam: Fund Diverting

This picture of a sleeping George has nothing to do with the subject of today's blog, which is about email scams. Not cute cats. But most of the readers of this blog expect cute cat pictures.


I've received some interesting scam emails this month, including this one which came in this morning:

From: centurylink <rxthmxyx@fuse.net>
Subject: Re: Dear Century link user,don't ignore this Message,there is HTK4S Virus in your inbox,reply with your Username and Password for upgrade.CenturyLink@2014 Inc

It had, of course, no message in the body. Just the header. You'd think anyone from CenturyLink (not Century link) would use an actual CenturyLink email addy (I disemvoweled the fuse.net one above) and would give a bit more detail about the "virus" in my inbox. It was almost the best example of email scam that hit my inbox this month. But not quite. Meanwhile, here's a picture of three sleeping kitties:


Winner of the best scam of February is Stephen Gianino, who sent an email titled "Compensation, View Attach" to "Undisclosed Recipients" from a granjaregina.com.br addy but wants replies sent to a yahoo.com addy. The png attachment he sent (he didn't even type out the letter!) is this:
Here's my answer (that I'm NOT emailing, just posting here):

So, Stevie, on the off chance you're reading my blog, I'll reply here. How have you seen ("several times"!) people diverting my Social Security and/or my state retirement checks) into their personal accounts? Were you looking over their shoulders? Hacking into their computers? Reading their minds?

These people (I'm assuming there are several since you mentioned "people") must be really good at this because my SS and retirement funds are made into my account every month, and I've been spending this money to live on every single month.

You'd think that the US government or the state of Virginia would have noticed my "funds" being diverted to accounts somewhere in Africa, wouldn't you? Or is it England, since that is where you are employed. The fact that you watched these people divert my funds "several times" and didn't report them makes me wonder about your integrity.

Gosh, these account diverters must have been doing this for a while. For instance, here's a posting of your same letter (and even the same font!) sent on Sept. 12, 2012. The only difference is that your addy is [mailto:albert@hispagate.com]. And here's the same email you sent on Feb. 3, 2012 from your hotmail addy. And, my gosh, here's one from Nov. 22, 2011, but it was sent from an aol addy—and there are others on the same site sent from different addys. Those at least have a "Dear Friend" salutation and you ask for 40% funds instead of "40% them." You've been doing this for a while, now haven't you? It's just mind-boggling all those packets of six million dollars you're putting together. I'm wondering why those fund-diverters only work in $6 million increments. Could you maybe explain that?

Plus, I'm concerned bout the "I have seen in your records that you have spent a lot trying to receive these fund" because I haven't spent a cent, but, yeah, any funds would certainly "help with my financial situation." I'm the sole support of a dozen cats, plus some dogs and an old horse—and those critters all have healthy appetites. Plus, I'm feeding a flock of birds that keeps growing daily. Here is a picture of another  cute kitty:


And you'll send a diplomat right to my doorstep—or the doorstep of anyone these people have been stealing from! In my case, how will the diplomat get away from his diplomatic duties to journey all the way to rural America and negotiate his way through the dog poop in my driveway to get to my doorstep? (We have an elderly dog, who doesn't walk far. Hence the poop. But if I know the exact time your diplomat is coming, I'll rake the driveway.) Meanwhile, here is another picture of cute kitties.


Where is the diplomat stationed and why did he have to arrive in Africa? And where in Africa? It's a big place. I certainly wouldn't want a United Nations diplomat to have to go to so much trouble.

Therefore, on the off-chance that I might not be the person (or people, given all the ones who have received this same message from you) whom you're seeking, why don't we just do this: you send me $1 million in small bills and keep the rest for your fee. You can just stuff the money in one of those priority mail boxes—or whatever the equivalent is in whatever country you're in—and mail it to me. That way we won't have to worry about any fees, etc., will we? (Try to send a box that the cats can use for a bed. They like boxes.)

PS. An investigator with the Ministry of Finance shouldn't have to use a hotmail, yahoo, or aol addy. Why don't you ask your boss to give you an official email addy?

PPS. Did you know that someone named "Edger Hoover" is sending out the same email as you are? are? And he was doing it before you were sending yours? Here and here are some examples. Don't you think his doing that maybe casts aspersions at your integrity?

Anyhow, your little scam isn't nearly as interesting as one chronicled in the classic "Wendy Willcox and Her Dog Willis" scam-buster. That one doesn't have any cats, but it does have an interesting-looking dog.
~

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Women Thomas Jefferson Loved

Lately, I've been reading history, albeit cheply. Not long ago, I'd read—and enjoyed—a free ebook copy of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Since I'd bought a second-hand copy of The Women Jefferson Loved for $2 at the Discovery Shop a few months ago, I decided to tackle that next. As a native Virginian, who has visited Jefferson's Monticello a couple of times and who enjoys reading about the colonial period in Virginia, I figured I'd like it.


I more or less liked it. I did learn quite a bit about one of Virginia's founding families. The subject matter—about Jefferson's mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson; his wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson; his daughters, Martha (Patsy) and Mary (Maria/Polly); his granddaughters (Patsy's daughters); and his concubine/chambermaid, Sally Hemings—was interesting, but the author's writing style made for a somewhat tedious read.

There is way too much repetition regarding Sally Hemings's kinship to various members of the Jefferson family. The author stresses over and over that Sally was Jefferson's wife's half sister, Jefferson's children's half-aunt, etc. Astute readers will get it the first (or second or third) time; they do not have to be told repeatedly.

The similes and metaphors the author used were ineffective, often made no sense, and were downright weird. The book would have been better without them. From Andrea Wulf's review in The New York Times:

Unfortunately, Scharff’s imagery can often pull the reader up short. To understand the entanglement of the Wayleses, Jeffersons and Hemingses is, she asserts, “a little like trying to eat spaghetti with a knife.” Martha’s body after her pregnancies was a “war zone.” Speculating on whether Jefferson had sex with Maria Cosway is “a little like playing tennis with an invisible ball.” Expectation and experience in a marriage collide, she tells us, “like a runaway wheelbarrow full of flower pots, jolting over a rock-strewn path.” Perhaps most bizarre, though, is Scharff’s conclusion that reality no more resembled Thomas Jefferson’s ideal of domestic bliss “than an unripe persimmon resembles a perfect pear.”
I disagree with Wulf about the most bizarre image—the one that compares reassembling Monticello's columns to working Rubik's cube was worse. The book would have been much better without this strange use of figurative language.

Another problem was the switch back and forth in time, as the author showcased the next woman Jefferson loved. These women's lives overlapped. The story would have been better—or at least way easier to understand—in strict chronological order.

The author, a noted historian in her own right, did her homework. To her credit, she consulted numerous sources, and provided a plethora of end notes and an extensive bibliography.

From the book, I learned the lives of Jefferson and his women was marked by much unhappinesss: many deaths (only two of his children with Martha lived to adulthood, some of his grandchildren died in infancy, four of his slaves died within a week of each other, etc.), disease, and his ever-growing debt.


The book has changed my opinion about Jefferson. Instead of one of the foremost proponents of liberty, he now seems seems like a male chauvinist who thought a woman's place was in the home and who amassed a tremendous amount of debt. He thought women should be protected by men, but his accumulated debts left his female heirs unprotected after his death.

Was Jefferson the father of Sally Heming's children? The author made a good case that he was, although his children denied it. However, 1999 DNA tests indicate that at least one—Eston—and possibly more of her children were indeed fathered by Jefferson. Madison Hemings's 1873 memoir also mentioned Jefferson was his father.

While the book was no an easy read, I'm nonetheless glad I read it.


After reading The Women Jefferson Loved, I read  Jefferson at Monticello, The Private Life of Thomas Jefferson, by Hamilton Wilcox Pierson. Pierson had interviewed Edmund Bacon, who was Jefferson's overseer for twenty years and recalled many details of Jefferson and life at Monticello. This book, which I enjoyed very much, was published in 1862 and is available as a free download on Google Books. 
~
The day after I posted this review, I received the following email from Patrick Lee, who does appearances as Thomas Jefferson:


I must take exception to this all-too-commonly-believed myth: "1999 DNA tests indicate that at least one—Eston—and possibly more of her children were indeed fathered by Jefferson." Not so at all!
 
    That DNA testing narrowed the Eston Heming's father to a circle of some two dozen Jefferson males, of whom Thomas Jefferson was one. There is no proof that he was THE one. There is assumption, speculation, coincidence and much political correctness but no proof. There probably never will be.
 
    I hope you wouldn't form any opinion of Jefferson by that book. Your own analysis finds it lacking.

    If you like, you may learn more of Jefferson from his blog! Several times each week, he posts BRIEFLY on a variety of topics. Recent posts include:

- I would like to be wrong about Negroes.
- Would you like a cigarette?
- Whistleblowers welcome!
- Are you just going to SIT there?
- “It was a dark and stormy night … “
- What do maple trees have to do with slavery?
- Did Jefferson oppose Islam?


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Monday, February 24, 2014

All Holed Up

by Tanner (resident cat)


I haz a cat-tower that I use almost every day. It used to be Dylan's cat-tower, but he doesn't use it much any more, so it is mine. Sometimes I like to sit on top of my cat-tower, and sometimes I like to hole up in it. It has two holes.


Today I holed up. It was a little bit of a tight fit. See?



Sometimes I stick my feet out.



Sometimes more of me sticks out. It is pretty snug in the hole.



Sometimes I hole up in the top hole. You can see some of my toys in the bottom hole.



And that's the end of my tail tale about being all holed up in my cat-tower.


~

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Sleeping Cat

The weather today has been warm but rainy. Nothing much is happening, so I'll just post some pictures of George—the formerly wild cat who has discovered the perks of domesticity


One of the perks is sleeping indoors. George likes to sleep on newspapers.


Sometimes he sleeps in the newspaper basket.





Sometimes he sleeps in a box.






 Sometimes he sleeps on the floor.


Sometimes he sleeps near the other cats, who like to recharge in the sunlight.




But he really likes to sleep indoors.

~

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Big Snow

The snow that started last Wednesday is the third largest snow on record since 1912—at least for Roanoke, which got more snow than we did in Penhook. Our total was about 12 inches, judging from the yardstick I attached to the deck rail.

The snow didn't look like much at first.


As the day progressed, though, more snow fell. By early afternoon, with about an inch on the ground, my husband parked the tractor in the upper driveway.


Soon more snow accumulated and our driveway was covered.


Even though our road was a mess, we drove down to the barn to feed. Walking would have been way too difficult. Here's how the road looked as we drove back.


By Wednesday night, the front porch was covered and snow was blowing under the storm door.


On Thursday morning, the round bales in Melody's pasture were covered. But Melody's tracks showed she'd been eating from them.


More snow fell on Thursday, and again we had to drive to the barn to feed. The county roads were so bad that the newspaper and the mail weren't delivered. 


On Friday, my husband scraped the driveway and part of the road.


The boxwoods out front were still covered.


Cats couldn't get out to do their cat-work.


But late Friday afternoon, the sun came out.








. . . and later the moon rose.


Saturday morning was sunny. We finally got the newspapers for Thursday and Friday along with Saturday's paper.


A little snow melted, but what remained still made cat-work difficult.


~

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