Tuesday, April 26, 2016



Well, it has started – last Friday afternoon (4/22) I received my first 2016 Presidential Primary political phone call – a recorded message from The Donald asking me to vote for him to make America great again.  Isn't that the same day he had a new delegate guru describing how his candidate is evolving to be more presidential?  

I expect many prospective California voters are being called and  many others not formally committed are being contacted, too. That's also why I'll probably hear from all the rest of the candidates -- Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, any others left by June, or newcomers (this crazy year anything is possible).  I can handle this vote-seeking attention just this one year since California likely won't garner such attraction again.  
I’ll be interested to see what other candidates I hear from and when, before May 23rd  -- that’s the date by which California voters must register (if they haven't already), or re-register their political affiliation ((if they want to change), to vote in this Presidential Primary election.  

We will have six party ballots from which to select one, depending on our registration status for this Presidential Primary election June 7, 2016:                      
  • 3 will be closed to all California voters but those registered members of each respective party                 Republican, Green, Peace and Freedom.
  • 3 will be open to all California voters in addition to registered members:  Democratic,  American     Independent, Libertarian 
There’s been some confusion in California with some voters believing they were registering as Independents learning recently they’re actually registered as members of the American Independent party – likely quite opposite political philosophies.   So, state government election officials have hastened to change registration forms to rectify that situation.  Meanwhile, those whose intent was to register as Independents are double-checking their voting status. 

This is a portion of the now corrected California voter registration form:   
                     Political Party                    (Item 14)   

                    ·  The person registering to vote may indicate which (if any) political    
                             party they prefer                
                    · Currently, there are six qualified parties:

                          · American Independent (not to be confused with “independent”

                             voters who do not wish to affiliate with any party); Democratic;

                            Green; Libertarian; Peace and Freedom; Republican

                    ·A person may choose not to state a party preference by marking “No Party


                    ·Under current State law, “No Party Preference” voters

                              ·may vote for any candidate for statewide or congressional office.

                              ·may not be able to vote for some candidates in a primary election

                              for President of the United States or party committees
This confusion in California’s registration ballot was not designed to make voter registration more difficult for citizens.   That is unlike some other states where efforts have been made to deliberately complicate the voter registration process -- make it more difficult for some voters to register instead of easier --  under the guise of making it more secure from abuse which has not been documented as even being a problem.  We do need to be able to vote.

(Sorry about any small print as Blogger doesn't seem to be following the regular size print I selected then later tried to correct after finding it had been arbitrarily reduced by the print size troll.)


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

California Foreshadows Nation's Change

Recent years when we celebrate our various national holidays such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day,  I've often reflected on our nation's changes, especially those occurring during my lifetime.  This country has experienced numerous domestic challenges including some associated with  demographic changes.  Now we are encountering one of the most profound in our nation's history which is slowly expanding.   California officially became the third state following Hawaii and New Mexico where another ethnicity has surpassed Caucasians as a majority, U.S. census records reveal.       

Latinos are now the majority ethnicity group in the State of California.  Whites became a minority in the Los Angeles area just a few years ago when our population changed to the degree that no clear majority group existed among whites, African-Americans and Latinos.  Now Latinos have emerged as California's new majority ethnic group.     

I am a member of an ethnic minority for the first time in my life as there are now more Latinos than whites in California.    A population ethnic change is a trend across our nation.   Some may wonder what, if any, implications this may have for our lives?   I offer my experience as reassurance that this ethnic change has been a gradual, though increasingly rapid evolution, which has been non-disruptive in my life.   This California white person's life continues much as usual, but is enriched.   I have never expected it to be otherwise.  Perhaps how we think about such changes has some influence on their outcome.   I can only hope residents in the rest of the nation where such change occurs adapt as well in the years ahead.

We live in an ever-expanding world as are many nations composed of increasing multiple ethnic groups with varying beliefs and languages.  Newcomers to our United States generally learn our American English language.   We native English speakers by honing our skills in other languages can only benefit us all.   In this digital social media world I read recently about needing to learn even another specialty language, too -- how to write some computer programming code language -- as this is becoming an expected skill needed in the future by all, but that's another topic for a future discussion.

In the years to come, though maybe not in my lifetime, there are going to be other categories in addition to ethnicity, such as religion, where a once considered minority group in this nation may increase in numbers greater than the majority group we've known throughout our lifetime, even since the beginning of our nation's history.

We can only strive to see that any type of new majority groups will be more understanding, accepting, compassionate, tolerant, and fair to existing minority groups than some, once in the majority, have been since the founding of our great nation.    In the meantime, we would be wise to put our best foot forward, as the saying goes, toward how we treat others in order to reflect favorably on our minority group.  I'm sure we will want others to treat us well.-- perhaps better than some of us have treated them.

I think we need to think carefully about these matters when we consider who we would want as the next President of our country and representing us around the world.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


Well, I've really done it this year.   Get the coffee pot primed.....gather the microwavable foods and sandwich makin's at the ready.....make sure there are some fruits, nuts, other energy snacks at hand -- guess I'll definitely be spending this weekend doing my federal and state income taxes.

I pulled together all the paperwork, gathered the tax booklets and forms, or printed them off the Internet --  collecting this all in one file by the time January ended.  Why I haven't done any more since then would be hard to explain.  I remember hearing we had more days than usual this year to submit our returns and pay our taxes.  I'm sure I've had good reasons why I haven't done more before this, but I expect you would likely tell me, "That's no excuse!"

Since I began doing my taxes manually, by default, after my husband's death (he had always done them), I've just continued doing so.   I've become much quicker at the process as each year passes.

Yes, I know I could hire someone, or I could do them online or with a computer program, but I confess to having an attitude about doing so.   I've always liked playing with numbers so the mathematics isn't an issue.  But, something is terribly wrong with a tax system into which we pay that has become so complex we have to pay even more just to have somebody else figure out how much tax we owe -- even if our government tries to pacify us by making the cost of doing so tax deductible.    

Of course, hiring someone does create employment opportunities, so this may be our government's idea of one way to address creating more jobs.  I hope this doesn't mean I'm not a good citizen.  Maybe I better have a glass or two of the ol' vino with which to relax and contemplate this matter after mailing my tax form envelopes Monday.

At least I am supporting the postal service, so that must count for something toward my good citizenship.  I still like receiving mail in the box outside my home's front door.   Besides, I've never had a problem with anyone hacking into my ordinary mail -- not that they couldn't access it in other ways.   As much as I appreciate the digital world's mail speed, I can't help wondering if that older mail system provides more privacy ... as long as what's been mailed gets there.  I must say in all my years I've never had anything I mailed or that I knew was sent to me be compromised.      

Perhaps you don't procrastinate or fret about privacy, so maybe my thoughts are just tilting at windmills.

Friday, April 01, 2016


4/9/16 Up Date
Another phone scam today similar to one I've received in years past.    This was an accented English-speaking male stating he was with Windows technical department.  When I asked why he was calling me, he said they were receiving some technical signals my computer was seriously infected.  I ended the conversation.   Had I responded they would have determined I had a computer, requested other information that ultimately would lead to their being able to access my computer and/or threatening technical dangers if I didn't have them correct the problem -- for a charge, of course, by giving them a credit card number or other means of obtaining money from me.

Scams focusing on seniors -- other than political!  This is no April Fools Day joke.

Last week our local Kiwanis Club served a pancake breakfast preceding our local senior center's Senior Scam Stopper program.  California's Contractors State License Board (CSLB), State Senator Carol Liu, Assemblymember Chris Holden, and the City of Claremont presented this seminar.   Panel presenters from CSLB, Department of Business Oversight, Senior Medicare Patrol/Community Senior Services, U.S. Postal Inspection Services presented informative facts in an interesting, entertaining manner followed by discussion, along with having literature available.

Scams commonly used against older consumers range from auto repair to insurance and Medicare fraud.   Require written estimates, pay attention to the small print and guarantees and any work you're having done.    CSLB representatives discussed home repair fraud.  The importance of hiring licensed contractors,the need to require a written contract specifying costs, completion time, payments, along with all the precautions to be taken.  Get written change orders on any contract -- don't rely on verbal changes.

I occasionally watch TV's Judge Judy or People's Court with Judge Milian whose show features Harvey Levin at the conclusion of each court case.   He frequently reinforces Judge Milian's admonition in some cases to add the statement "Time is of the essence" to contracts which adds legal significance to completion time. 

The Medicare Representative advised we all need to check the forms we receive relative to our health care that report what Medicare and/or any supplemental insurance is paying out to be certain the charges are legitimate.  Given all the code numbers, honest mistakes are sometimes made, but billions are being paid out in intentionally false billings by individuals deliberately defrauding Medicare and our health care system that may be charged against our accounts.   Perhaps if we could prevent the bulk of these losses, Medicare could afford to provide dental care and hearing aids for all who need them rather than none at all or in the limited medical manner now.

Prevalent in recent years are phone scams to which I can personally attest to receiving.  Several times I've had calls with the IRS scam.   Before this scam was in the news my first call came on a Friday afternoon of a long holiday weekend.  The male accented speaker was very polite, but subsequent calls that day, and Saturday became much more aggressive.  I allowed all of those calls to be recorded on my answering machine.  I checked several sources and learned I could report these calls to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) web site which I did.  In more recent years I've received recorded alleged IRS messages spoken by an unaccented English-speaking female, but its the same scam in a different form. 

Just a few weeks ago I received my third Grandma/Grandpa scam phone call with which readers here may be familiar.   If I've answered the phone I resist the temptation of playing games with these people, but have been known to say, "Oh, you're full of BS!" and then I immediately hang up.  This time the phone rang again a few seconds later, but I didn't answer and no message was left.    Acquaintances of mine have told me stories about others known to them who have succumbed to these phone seductions to the tune of losing thousands of dollars.

In one case, one couple disregarded their bank teller's efforts to dissuade them from withdrawing a large sum which they subsequently mailed away.  To this day, they persist in being angry at their real grandson, because he's neither thanked them or paid them back the several thousand they sent.  They're convinced they bailed him out of a Mexican jail despite assurances from him and his family he had not been in Mexico, much less made that call.    Receiving such calls we should simply check with family regarding the alleged missing person or simply hang up on all these calls -- give NO information.

Calls from those representing themselves from banks, businesses, any institution or organization can be double-checked for authenticity by phoning them at official numbers previously known to you to verify the number and/or information you've been given before giving any information or taking action.

There are various means of credit card, especially debit card, fraud.   They discouraged use of debit cards.  Check your monthly statements and annual credit reports for any listing errors -- request yearly free copies.
Specifically mentioned were the risks being taken any time a credit card is taken out of sight to print the charge such as at a restaurant.

New credit cards with chips require protection since they can be readily copied from within a wallet or purse from a distance with electronic devices crooks have now -- some users thwart this copying by wrapping their chip cards in aluminum foil, or purchase protective cases designed to prevent access.  (I think credit card companies should provide protective covers with each chip card they issue but they don't.)

We computer users need to be on the alert to avoid all those defrauding email invasions which may or may not go automatically to spam.  Also, beware of those contests, notices you've won an inheritance, requests you loan money, etc., etc.  Ordering items whether on the Internet or other, you can be scammed, so make certain the padlock icon is present on the site at the very least, or pay through other associated secure sites.

Some of these scams can come through regular old-fashioned postal mail -- ads with a way to earn money from home by mailing packages they'll send you then cashing the check for postage they pay you.  The first small check or so might even clear the first time to lull you into trusting, but none for the big bucks will later.  Lotteries, foreign and domestic, are generally basically scams in one form or another -- some, where there never are any winners.

Coincidentally, local TV news has recently focused on love scams.  Seems there are many people, including some of us oldsters, who make friends on the Internet, including with others around the globe  -- eventually becoming so emotionally involved that requests for money/loans we favorably respond to.   Men and women going through significant life changes with the loss of spouses, other family, friends, or just feeling lonely are often emotionally vulnerable and can be most susceptible to establishing such new intimate friends or romantic connections.  A desire to help others can also be a seduction for many caring oldsters.   I expect many bloggers like me have received hard luck story emails, usually from another country, asking for financial help. 

I think what can be concluded is that if you're asked, sooner or later, to send any money, it's a scam.   So don't!   Also, I know it's simplistic, but don't let greed get in the way -- as the saying goes -- if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!