Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Season

It’s here. I am so grateful to have all my children home for Thanksgiving once again because I know that as they get older they will choose to go somewhere else on more occasions. But in 2009, they were all here. Today they will head back to their grown-up lives. But they will return for Christmas in just a few weeks. In the interim, my sister-in-law and niece will be out for a visit from Chicago. By the time they head home, my children will be trickling back in. (Sudi’s student housing closes only two days after the Chicago relatives depart.) My goals this holiday season? Don’t spend more than I can afford. Don’t gain weight. Well, wish me luck with that. I am truly blessed and I continue to try to appreciate my blessings. Next project up on the agenda? Writing the annual holiday letter. That will take me until Channuka for sure.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Still Learning the Important Lessons from Football

Once again, Football saved my life.

I was having a bad week, a week of doubt. The voice inside my head had gone to the dark side. It kept saying that I have not used my time here to good purpose. It said that I am a failed writer. All I have is imagination and it’s leading me nowhere. “Let’s face it,” the evil voice in my head said, “You are 55 years old and there is a good chance you will go to your grave without connecting with the readers for whom your writing is intended. The novels that you labored over with love for the past 20 years will, at best, reach a close circle of family and friends through some inexpensive self-pubbing avenue. Beyond that, nothing.”

I took my best shot publishing a book, which was modestly successful, won a few awards, gave a couple thousand people a good time, briefly. It didn’t make it financially possible for me to publish any more books. It didn’t even earn back what it cost to produce. It certainly didn’t bring me the opportunity to quit writing grants and dedicate my time to my creative pursuits. I hear inspiring success stories about other writers and artists all the time. This one printed 100 copies of a book for their friends and family and one thing led to another and it became a bestseller. That one mortgaged their home and made an independent film that won the Sundance Festival. But not everyone gets to be a huge success story. I didn’t.

Now for the football. On Sunday night, the Colts beat the Pats in the last few seconds of the game after I had given up and gone to bed. I read about the win with astonishment in the paper the next morning. I am a big Colts fan because, well, I’m from Northern Cali where we barely have a football team. In fact, we barely have two. I think Peyton Manning is brilliant. Not to mention Joseph Addai, Reggie Wayne, and Austin Collie. The Pats lost me with the fumble that should have gone to Oakland in the snow in the play-offs years ago. I never forgot and I have passionately disliked them, and that sourpuss Belichek, with a vengeance only allowable when it comes to football. With 3 minutes left in the game, and the Colts (21 points) on the verge of losing for the first time in their so-far perfect season, to the Pats (34 points) no less, I couldn’t bear to watch. I turned off the TV and gave up on them. Ah, ye of little faith. After I went to bed, the Colts scored twice and won the game 35-34, keeping their perfect record. Thank you Football, for reminding me that it’s not over until it’s over, and anything can happen, even in the last minute of the game, even a miracle.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Day My Facebook Account Was Hacked

I am not in London. I have not been mugged. But if you want to send money I won’t say no. On Monday morning I innocently checked my email to find a message from my friend B. asking if I was really in London, had I really been mugged, and did I really need her to wire me $4,000 so I could come home. I had heard about this scam, now it had me. It has been many years since I have received bogus emails sent from myself (ostensibly) to me (and others in my address book) asking me to buy Viagra, visit porn sites, or send my firstborn child to a brothel in Cambodia. Our spam filters, firewalls, and virus protection are excellent. But they apparently don’t do any good on Facebook. I contacted Facebook Security and they immediately disabled my account. They took my page down. Then I spent my morning emailing everyone I know and asking them not to send me money. What is wrong with this picture?

At first I thought the hacker had accessed my personal email address book because B. sent a confusing and cryptic email to my personal email account. But that was not the case. The integrity of my computer and email account were never compromised. It was all Facebook. The cybercriminals impersonated me and contacted a handful of my friends who use Facebook chat rooms a lot to extort money from them. I never chat on Facebook (if you get a chat from me then it’s not me). I never join groups or play games on Facebook (beware Mafia Wars and Farmville people, you are particularly vulnerable). I’m one of the least vulnerable people on Facebook and I got played.

The worst part was emailing everyone in my address book to warn them that I had been played. How embarrassing, and, as it turned out, completely unnecessary since my address book was never infiltrated. So now I’m simply stranded in Ukiah with too many children in college, a mortgage, a stack of bills, and my quarterly income tax due in a few weeks. Forget London. Send chocolate.

More of Me

Self-promotion sucks, but I write to be read, so there you have it. Please help me out with my latest venture, and hopefully enjoy some good reading in the process.

I have signed on as the San Francisco Fiftysomething Lifestyle Examiner (writer) for a national online web content outlet called Examiner dot com. I write short articles and I earn money based on the quality of the content, page views, and click-throughs to links posted on my pages. Please help me build my presence at Examiner and earn money with my articles by going to my page and clicking on some of my articles. Here is the link. (Address:

You can subscribe to the page by clicking the subscribe link to the right of my name. If you subscribe, you will get an email every time I post a new article, which could be too much of me since I post at least once a day. If you choose not to subscribe, please bookmark my page so you remember to pop over there once in awhile to give me some page views. On Tuesdays, I post a short humorous piece about the Raiders and 49ers called Football Tuesday by the Bay (check it out for a chuckle—click my Football topic). On Sundays I post a humorous piece under the topic Lighter Side. Any help you can provide spreading the word about my Examiner page is much appreciated.

For those of you who actually live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I invite you to send me information about your events, activities, political actions, and other happenings. Send links for more information and I’ll post an article to draw attention to your venture. As I build my presence, I look forward to helping you get the word out about your projects. Examiner dot com is nationwide. It is not just a San Francisco thing. If anyone out there reading this is interested in writing for Examiner dot com, call or email me to find out how to apply to be a writer for them. (If they accept you as a writer, and you indicated that I referred you in your application, I will get $50 as a finder’s fee.) Thanks for your support.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

High Tech Halloween

I almost bailed on Halloween this year. It’s my least favorite holiday. I’m not a costume dress-up person. And giving tooth-rot sugary candy to children just goes against my health-food mom character. Even worse is having the candy around and eating it myself. I do like carving pumpkins, but I don’t have any children to do it with me anymore. Sudi says I need to rent some grandchildren. But I didn’t bail. I stuck it out. I bought candy. I carved the pumpkin and roasted the seeds (best part of Halloween is those seeds). With Ron at the radio station doing his spooky Halloween show, I stayed home alone to answer the door.

Since I can’t hear the doorbell or the sound of someone knocking on the door from way back in my study, I put a sign on the door many months ago that says I can’t hear the bell or knock and gives the phone number. “Call and I’ll come to the door,” the sign reads. And the FedEx driver diligently calls every time he drops off a package (and the UPS driver diligently does NOT call—that’s the difference between FedEx and UPS).

I brought my computer out to the kitchen table on Halloween so I could hear the doorbell. But I forgot the sign on the door. So round about 7:30, when the little tots are back at home counting their candy, the older youngsters start coming around. And the phone starts ringing. Instead of ringing the bell or knocking first, they cut to the chase and call me with their cell phones and shout “Trick or Treat! We’re at your door!” High tech Halloween. Cracks me up. When my friend Jim calls from Oakland to say hey, I ask him, “Are you at my door too?”