Life@Large, Random

What came first?

What Came First?I have answered the age-old question: What came first the chicken or the egg? The answer is they came together. Every chicken contains an egg and every egg contains a chicken. And before you think I’m just being silly, consider this. If two people are in conflict and you look for where it started and who started it — the chicken or the egg — the truth is they both started it. Each side contains a responsibility for starting it because each contains a potential for sending something off the rails. So before you point a finger at someone else over some grievance, first ask yourself, “Am I the chicken, or the egg?” And you will have your answer. You’re welcome.

Christine Moss

© 2014

Books: http://www.ChristinaMoss.com

Organic Hair & Skin Care: http://www.ChristinaMossNaturals.com

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Random

The House Part 1

Ghost Lights

I grew up in a three-story, Victorian house with five bedrooms, constructed in the year 1889, located seven miles north of Boston. It seemed like a small house, even then, probably because I was crammed in there with not only the parents but also with eleven brothers and sisters, my dad’s parakeet, my occasional pet dog, and a ghost.

The house only had one bathroom which freaked out some people living there.

But the one bathroom did not freak me out.

The ghost, on the other hand, did!

Forty-four Fifth Street looked like any other house from the outside, warm and inviting, and the sunny exterior fooled most people. But beyond the enclosed front porch, if you turned the brass doorknob and walked past the heavy oak door, you’d reach the dreaded parlor — residence of the entity — AKA, “The Ghost.”

The parlor, unlike any other room in the house was always clean, somewhat formal, dark, cold, and mysteriously empty of the living, except when we had a lot of company and people had no choice but to spill into the parlor.

Interestingly enough, the only time that parlor was a happy room, was at Christmas time. I thought it was because we had the Christmas tree there, so that’s where we opened our presents. At a tender young age I had it all figured out that only the magic of the season was powerful enough to scare The Ghost into submission.

Was it real?

Maybe.

Or maybe the disembodied entity was just a product of the childhood imagination of a budding writer.

Christina Moss
http://www.ChristinaMoss.com

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Random

Merchandise Return Fraudsters

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 I love when technology smokes out a dishonest person, and stops him from cheating someone.    Even petty crime can get out of hand and sooner or later someone, or something should step in and take control.  I don’t believe in cruelty but there has to be punishment so the person gets the idea that it’s not worth it to do the crime.

To illustrate my point I remember last year when a guy ahead of me in the customer service line at Target got away with a crooked deal.  He manipulated customer service into refunding cash on an old and abused piece of merchandise – in other words it was not an honest return.  I knew it, the customer service rep knew it and the other people waiting in line knew it too!  But the guy put up a nasty fuss, and customer service ended up “refunding” cash just to make him go away.  This was an injustice to the store.  One hundred years ago it would have been perfectly acceptable for the store owner to punch him in the nose.  At times, I miss those days.

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 I’m sure you’ve seen it — someone tries to return something that obviously isn’t returnable like old clothes or something they purchased last decade.  They’re cheating a store out of money, not to mention the time they waste for everyone else who is there to do a legitimate transaction.  It’s just not a straight up deal.

Well today in Target I had a completely opposite experience, thanks to technology.  But I’ll get into that in a minute.

I remember another time, in a different store someone tried to return an item that the store didn’t even sell!  I wondered if the person even knew she was guilty of fraud.

Most stores have a 90-day return policy, and they like it if you present the receipt and price tag.  But even if you don’t, most reputable stores will refund your money.  That’s good news for me because I don’t keep receipts and as you’ve probably figured out I’ve been known to return a thing or two.

Another shameless scam attempt happened a while ago when I was in a department store waiting in line.  That store has great sales – up to 80% off.  They don’t give refunds on 80% off items, but they’ll give a store credit.  So the lady ahead was returning something and she wanted her money back.  Her item had no tag, no receipt and she insisted that she had paid $80 for it.  I think it was a skirt and it took the clerk a long time looking through inventory records to determine the price of that item.  In the end she determined the style had been moved into the 80% off category, and that was more than 90 days ago.  So no matter how she sliced it, that customer was not getting any money back on that item.  Rather than go home with her unwanted merchandise, she admitted that she really only spent $8 and opted for a store credit.  The poor girl didn’t have the luxury of experiencing the correct emotion at that time, but that was okay because everyone else in line felt her embarrassment for her.

It must get interesting for customer service reps.  I bet they get really good at reading people after a while.  Still, the really clever swindler probably gets away with these petty crimes all the time and no one ever finds out.  I guess some people are just dedicated to pulling a fast one.  The honest onlooker must take care to not become too cynical.

Anyway this leads me to what I wanted to comment on.  I love the current system at Target.  I went there today to return something.  This time it was a media cover.  I was in a Gothic mood when I bought it, but before I used it, the mood had passed.  After two weeks, still no Goth, so today I brought it back to Target.  And true to form, I didn’t have a receipt but I did still have the price tag.  No problem.  The lady asked me how I paid for it.  I wasn’t sure but I gave her a credit card and she tried it.  “Not that one.”  Cool.  It took all of two seconds to determine that.

“Must be this one,” I said and handed her my other bank card, and up came the history of my verified purchase that matched the media cover in my hand.  And just like that the money was back in my account and she was wishing me a good day.   This simple transaction brought me a significant amount of happiness.  With this system, I could just see the merchandise refund fraudsters being stopped dead In their tracks within seconds.

This is how I see justice rolling out in a sci fi society, which is where my writing ideas generate.  It goes like this:  A scammer is detected, “F” for fraud attempt is stamped on her forehead in 30-day indelible ink, and a computer voice says, “Step away from the register.  Move along.  Move along.”  Those words are reserved for the fraudster only, like the incessant beeping at the doors when someone tries to steal something.  Maybe that would be enough punishment for her to reconsider her petty crime next time the urge strikes.

Justice.  Quick, fair, and effective is a wonderful thing.

Christina Moss

©2013 Christina Moss.  I’m the author of five science fiction & fantasy novels: Intwine, Insight, Incircle, Inviral, and Vampire of My Dreams.  Leave a comment and follow me here by subscribing to my blog.  Also check out the LINKS page on my website to follow me on Twitter and more:  http://www.christinamoss.com/LINKS.html

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Two Activities I Love

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I love to shop.

I love helping people.

These activities are polar opposites in that the first is entirely for me, and the second is entirely for other people, but I have a favorite local store where these two loves of mine overlap.

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I am not a slave to fashion, but what girl doesn’t like having nice things to wear? People notice nice stuff, too!  My friend recently complimented my fitted brown slacks from Banana Republic, my assistant admired my blue velvet blazer from New York and Company and last Sunday, my son said my True Religion jeans were cool.  And when I came home with a brand new Abercrombie and Fitch “Authentic Vintage” winter jacket my daughter couldn’t wait to borrow it!  And to think, I bought them all from a local thrift store called The Discovery Shop run by the American Cancer Society.  “A Unique Quality Resale Experience” is what the tag line says, and unlike many advertising slogans, these are not hollow words.

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I love the Burbank Discovery Shop. The displays are tastefully done, it’s clean, it’s organized, the volunteers are friendly, and I find great clothes there. That’s the selfish part.  However, there is an added benefit that is not selfish — my money goes to a good cause!

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Recently I felt inspired to feature the Burbank Discovery Shop in my local news column. I really wanted to meet the person behind the quality products, great staff, and well-thought-out displays, so I was delighted when the manager, Josette Guidos, agreed to an interview.

Q.  What inspired you to work for the Discovery Shop?

Josette:  I’ve worked here for six years, and prior to that I worked for a major retailer. I like the idea of being able to do something for a good cause. It’s nice to know that what I’m doing can make a difference. Everyone has been touched by cancer. There is a reason why I’m here.

Q.  What sort of donated items sell the best?

Josette:  Bric-a-brac — also glasses, dishes, house accessories, candlesticks, and furniture.

Q.  You have great furniture.

Josette:  (Smile) We have some very generous donors. Oh, and jewelry is big. We sold a lot for Valentine’s Day. People love jewelry. We give things a second chance. And yes, recycling — it helps keep things out of landfills. What’s that saying about a man’s trash?

Q. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Josette:  That’s the one!

Q. What sort of items and help do you need?

Josette: We need all of the things mentioned.  Sometimes we re-donate to other charities.  And we are always looking for volunteers: great merchandisers, back-office people, and people interested in a retail environment. But volunteers don’t need to have a retail background. It’s a bonus if someone knows customer service or can run a register, but we have positions that most anybody can do or can learn how to do.

Q. What would you like people to know?

Josette:  People shop here, but I’m not sure how much they know. Maybe they don’t understand what all this is for.  So much goes to services for cancer patients: wigs, rides to treatments, and many other things that help them look good and feel better.

After the interview, I walked through the store admiring the new arrivals and thought about something the manager of the Burbank Discovery Shop had said early in the interview. “Everyone has been touched by cancer.  There is a reason why I’m here.”

Indeed there is.

Thank you, Josette, for using your talents in a way that is of such great service to our community.

Previously published in BurbankLife. ©2013 Christina Moss.  I’m the author of four science fiction & fantasy novels: Intwine, Insight, Incircle, and Vampire of My Dreams.  Leave a comment and follow me here by subscribing to my blog.  Also check out the LINKS page on my website to follow me on Twitter and more:  http://www.christinamoss.com/LINKS.html

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Random

Writing Research

I like doing research for novels.  Part of it’s out of professional pride and and the other part is to save myself from future embarrassment.  I can just imagine some biologist reading along and rolling his or her eyes because I mentioned an enzyme in human DNA that only occurs in animals.

When I begin writing a story, the ideas turn on  and they don’t turn off until I get them in a word doc so I write the story first, then I check the facts later and then clean up the story.

I love researching facts.  Sometimes it means interviewing people or going to the dog pound and asking what the procedure is when someone turns in a stray.  I’m always pleasantly surprised how helpful people are when I tell them I’m doing research for a book.  The red carpet rolls out.  Really.  Try it if you ever want to be treated like a God or in my case a Goddess.

© 2010 Christina Moss

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Art, Random

Hollywood Undead

My first trilogy involves art of all kinds so I’ve had the extreme pleasure of interviewing artists of all kinds.

I really love this part of my job.

Now it just so happens that my main character’s love interest is a rock star. I love rock, especially post-punk, alternative rock. Edgy stuff. In fact, the edgier, the better!

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Deuce, the master-mind singer, musician and songwriter for Hollywood Undead, an internationally successful rock band. His music and lyrics are about as edgy as you can get without getting arrested. And I love it.

If you’re  familiar with Hollywood Undead you undoubtedly know how big they are. If you’ve not heard of them you’re probably wondering what I mean by “big”.  Answer: their first album went gold and is heading for platinum!  You can read about them in CNN’s article here:

http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/11/news/companies/am_octone_music.fortune/

Anyway, Deuce has an interest in my writing so I’m bringing my first manuscript to him today.

If you’re over 30, you probably don’t know Deuce but here’s a video.

© 2010 Christina Moss

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