Scam the Scammer

Abbie-1

Thanks to A. Marie Silver for inspiring another post. For years when I had a landline, I got calls from a gentleman, usually with an accent, claiming to be from Microsoft. He told me he was getting error messages from my computer. The first time he called, my PC wasn’t even on. I hung up, realizing it was probably a scam. Until I had my landline disconnected, he kept calling, and I kept hanging up.

It has since occurred to me that I could have tried to fight fire with fire. Here’s how such a phone call might have gone if I’d been using my head.

***

Me: Hello.

Scammer: Hello, Mrs. Taylor, this is So So from Microsoft. How are you today?

Me: Fine thanks, how about you?

Scammer: I’m great. Thanks for asking. I’m calling today because I’ve been getting error messages from your computer.

Me: Oh really, it’s funny you should call. I heard about your scam, but don’t hang up. I want to help you.

Scammer: Really?

Me: Yes, I’ll give you whatever information you need if you’ll do something for me.

Scammer: Okay, what?

Me: I’m a writer. Surely you’ve heard of me. My last ten books made the New York Times #1 bestseller list.

Scammer: No, I don’t think so.

Me: Well, anyway, I’m writing a book about people like you, social engineers. I need you to tell me about people you’ve successfully scammed and why you did it. This could be another bestseller for me. I could make a lot of money and maybe give you a percentage plus the information you need about my computer.

Scammer: Are you trying to scam me?

Me: Of course I am. How does that make you feel?

Scammer: Well, I’m pissed off. Duh!

Me: All right then, why do you like pissing off other people by scamming them?

Scammer: End call.

***

Now that I just have a cell phone, I don’t receive such calls anymore. I wish I’d thought of the above plan when I had the landline. Oh well, that’s life.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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Memoir Depicts Life of Negro Poet

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The Big Sea

By Langston Hughes

Copyright 1940

 

Through a series of essays, this well-known Negro author tells the story of his life. He describes growing up in Kansas during the early 20th century where his mother waited tables to support the family. His father left for Mexico where he eventually got rich. Hughes talks about how as a boy, he pretended to be saved at a revival meeting to please his aunt with whom he was staying at the time.

Before his senior year in high school and again after graduation, he spent time with his father in Mexico. He describes how he was disillusioned with his father’s big dreams for him and his ineptness at figures. He also explains how he ended up teaching English to Mexican students and how he eventually persuaded his father to pay his tuition at Columbia University in New York. After a year in college, he dropped out and signed onto various ships. He describes his travels to Africa, France, and Italy with periodic bouts at home with his family. In Paris, he worked as a chef and waiter and met musicians, dancers, and other entertainers.

In the 1920’s, after losing his passport in Italy and working his way home, he decided to go back to college, this time at Lincoln University near Philadelphia. He describes life at this black college with all white faculty and the black society in Harlem where he spent many of his vacations. He did some traveling in the south and gives his impressions of how Negros were treated there as opposed to New York and Washington D.C. where his family eventually re-located.

All the while, he wrote poems and stories which were published in various periodicals and a novel. He explains what inspired many of his poems and provides excerpts.

After he graduated from Lincoln University, a white patron offered to provide financial support while he published his novel. After the book was released, he had a falling out with the rich woman when he couldn’t write anything that pleased her. He also describes another fall-out he had with a fellow author he met in Harlem over a play on which they collaborated but was never produced. In the end, he describes his determination to make a living as a writer.

The recording of this book I downloaded from Audible contains a new introduction written and read by Arnold Rampersad, in which he provides a lengthy synopsis of the book plus excerpts. I found this interesting but a bit redundant after reading the book. As far as I was concerned though, Dominic Hoffman, the book’s narrator, was Langston Hughes.

Since February is Black History Month, a friend recommended this book, and I’m glad she did. It reminded me of another book I was required to read in high school, Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, in which the white author describes how he disguised himself as a Negro in order to better understand the black experience in the south. Unlike Hughes, Griffin could walk away from being black, although he was ostracized when his book was published. Hughes had many of the same experiences Griffin describes. I think The Big Sea should also be required reading. The more we can expose our young people to the atrocities of the early 20th century, perhaps the more tolerant of minorities and intolerance of racists they will be when they grow up.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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Letters to Celebrities

Abbie-1

One blogger I follow posts letters to Ellen DeGeneres simply because she can. In this post, she explains to Ellen why she thinks rotary phones should still exist. I must admit she makes some good points, although I really love my cell phone.

One of my favorite comedians is Alan Alda, who played Hawkeye on MASH. If I were to write letters to him on my blog, would A. Marie Silver, Ellen DeGeneres’s pen pal, sue me for plagiarism? When I was in college, I once took a basic research writing class in which the instructor was fond of saying, “Plagiarism is a crime.”

I pictured myself calling home from a police station in Billings, Montana, where I was attending MSU. “Hi Mother, Dad, I’m in jail for plagiarism. Could you drive the 150 or so miles from Wyoming and bail me out, please? Maybe you could ask Uncle Tony in Colorado Springs to come. He’s a pretty good lawyer, isn’t he? Maybe Aunt Lynn and the girls could also come, and after I’m free, we could all go skiing at Red Lodge like we did in Breckenridge when I was in high school, remember?”

Needless to say, it was with trepidation that I wrote my final paper, paraphrasing the heck out of every source I quoted. The topic was schizophrenia. Believe me, I had one of the symptoms of this psychological disorder, paranoia.

It didn’t help when another student said the instructor accused her of plagiarism after she turned in her paper. I expected armed policemen to march into the classroom at any minute and haul her off in handcuffs. Miracle of miracles, when I turned in my paper, the instructor did not accuse me of plagiarism and did give me a passing grade.

Now, my parents are gone. Uncle Tony is semi-retired, and his health isn’t what it used to be. If Alan Alda were a lawyer, he could march into a courtroom cracking jokes, like he did in the operating room in Korea years ago, but he’s not a lawyer. He’s not even a doctor. He’s a comedian and can’t help me if I’m sued for writing letters to him on my blog. I’m not sure it’s worth the risk. What do you think?

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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A Poem Rings True

Abbie-1

I wrote the following last night in light of events during the past week. It was inspired by the song, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Click on the title to hear me read it.

***

NOTHING RINGING

 

I heard no bells on Christmas Day,

no familiar carol,

no song of peace on Earth,

only bad news:

 

war raging in the Middle East,

a sea plane crash in Russia,

a friend’s canine companion passing,

another friend’s mother diagnosed with breast cancer,

a third’s mother hospitalized with dehydration,

actress Carrie Fisher dead from a heart attack.

 

There may be no peace on earth,

no good will to men,

but hope still lives.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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White Christmas in Florida (A Poem)

I’ve been to Florida a couple of times to spend Christmas with my brother and his family in Jupiter. It didn’t feel the same, but it was fun, despite the fact that I got sick both times. This year, I decided to wait until January to fly south.

Now you may wonder how it’s possible to have a white Christmas in Florida. Well, try thinking outside the box. Thanks to Nancy Lynn, a member of my group, Behind Our Eyes, for writing a story that inspired the following poem. Click the title to hear me recite the poem and sing a song that goes well with it. Wherever you celebrate Christmas this year, I hope your days are always merry and bright.

***

WHITE CHRISTMAS IN FLORIDA

 

Christmas Eve, we’ll go to the beach,

walk in white sand and water,

fly kites, try boogie boarding,

eat sandwiches while listening to the surf.

It won’t feel like Christmas,

but I’ll be there

if only in my heart.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Review: The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season

Abbie-1The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season

By Alice Jane-Marie Massa

Copyright 2016.

 

This collection of short fiction, poetry, and essays spans from Thanksgiving through New Year’s and beyond. In “The Thanksgiving Phone,” a blind woman finds a cell phone belonging to another woman whose son is in the military, serving overseas. In the title piece, a widow gets her long-awaited Christmas wish and more.

In “The Puppies of New Year’s Eve,” a dog breeder and a woman who buys two of his puppies discover they have a lot in common on a stormy New Year’s Eve. The author’s essays and poetry explore her holiday experiences while growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, adventures with her guide dog, and other topics. Instructions for playing a Thanksgiving poetry game and making Christmas cards are included.

I met Alice several years ago when she joined Behind Our Eyes, a writers’ group to which I belong. She’s a delightful lady who has inspired my own writing and helped and supported me and other writers.

Most of the material in her book has appeared on her blog over the years, but I enjoyed reading it again. For a second time, I was indignant after reading accounts of people in Catholic churches refusing to shake hands with homeless men during Mass and of one woman who told a homeless man he didn’t belong there. Again, I was moved almost to tears when a soldier serving overseas was reunited with his family at Thanksgiving. Many pieces in this book are appropriate for all ages, so I suggest families make it an annual tradition to read at least one of the stories together during this time of the year.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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Holiday Writer’s Block

Abbie-1

Thanks to Neva Bodin for inspiring this. When I read her poem last week, for one split second, I was tempted to re-blog it but decided instead to write my own Christmas poem. The following is a mirror sonnet. I learned this form years ago from local poet Jane Wohl. It has fourteen lines, and each line has ten syllables. The first seven lines are repeated in reverse by the second seven lines. Click this link to hear me read it.

 

***

HOLIDAY WRITER’s BLOCK

 

The weather is cold, yet sunny and bright.

I sit in my chair, look out the window.

With Christmas approaching, what shall I write?

I really don’t know. I really don’t know.

There’s so much to think of, so much to do.

Presents to wrap, parties galore, oh my!

I must think of something, think of it now.

I must think of something, think of it now.

Presents to wrap, parties galore, oh my,

there’s so much to think of, so much to do.

I really don’t know. I really don’t know.

With Christmas approaching, what shall I write?

I sit in my chair, look out the window.

The weather is cold, yet sunny and bright.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.