Sunday Sayings

Disaster is an Enemy

Enemy

We live in a time where the very survival of a great many people depends on the accumulation of Facebook friends, Twitter followers and YouTube likes. And today new friends, followers and likes can all be purchased easier than a mail order bride.

With just a few taps on my keyboard, cyberspace gives me back the world, indeed the galaxy on a screen that sparkles with virtual friends, business connections & income potential. How did I live without it?

But what if it all goes poof tomorrow, either temporarily or permanently? How would that impact each of us? I think about this sometimes. Gosh if we were worried about Y2K 14 years ago, can you imagine what it would mean today if the glitch hits the fan?

There’s nothing like a house on fire to force a quick assessment of what’s most valuable so you can grab it and run. Family and close friends first and if they’re not at home, they’re at least the first ones we turn to, (assuming someone else called the fire department).

So in case of a sudden and total cyber disaster, I think the long-term friends and family will suddenly take a front seat, if they don’t already. The emphasis will be on those most important: the spouse, the kids, the very small handful of true friends.  We’ll regroup and figure out a plan. But then why wait for a disaster? Is it not better to remember to treat them well and appreciate them now?

Copyright Christina Moss 2013 ~ All Rights Reserved
http://www.ChristinaMoss.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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Christina Moss Naturals

My Hair & Skin Care Products

Hand made organic products

Back in 1999, before anyone gave much thought to the harmful chemicals in shampoo, I began making an SLS free shampoo for my family and friends.  That formula became the first in a line of safe and natural hair and skin products that has become a family business which I still run today.

Here’s how it all began.

My husband and I were renovating the garage so the kids would have a place for art and research projects.  Before the floor could be painted it required cleaning with a chemical to remove the oil stains.  The cleaning agent was toxic and carried warnings to wear gloves and to keep the space well ventilated.

The fact that it contained toxic ingredients was not the reason I read the floor cleaners ingredients list.  I’d been reading labels since I learned how to read.  My mother worked for a grocer so she read labels, and she explained certain things, like ingredients are listed in order of volume with the most abundant ingredient listed first.

After reading the floor cleaner label, and after the arduous floor scrubbing, I took a shower.  And true to my habit, I read the ingredients label on the shampoo bottle.  To my amazement, the second ingredient in my shampoo (the first being water) was the major chemical I had used on the garage floor.

At first I thought it couldn’t be the harmful ingredient.  It could not be the problem ingredient in the floor cleaner — the one that made it carry a warning label because no manufacturer would be so irresponsible to include a known harmful ingredient in shampoo.  Even if they were so inclined, the government agency which monitors these things (you know the one) would never approve a dangerous chemical in shampoo, or so I believed.

But it did make me wonder.  So I looked up SLS and found that it’s a surfactant (in other words it makes suds), and it falls under a “moderate hazard” classification.  This meant that it wasn’t the devil ingredient in my floor cleaner, but now I was on a research roll, and I did a little more investigating which turned up two important facts.  It was the second fact that pretty much put an end to my false confidence in the chemical industry.

First of all the above said agency does not approve cosmetics before they go to market. I’m basically a believer in less government control so I was okay with that.

Secondly, I found some medical research reports by reputable scientists on the chemical sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).  The important points are these:  when used in shampoo it can create weakened hair follicles which leads to premature hair loss.  But it gets worse than that.  SLS tends to build up in the cornea and can over time cause cataracts.  It tends to build up in organs and it can affect the nervous system as well as the endocrine system.

The manufacturing process of SLS (ethoxilation) is also problematic because in it the SLS becomes contaminated with dioxane, a carcinogenic* by-product.

But the information left me with a problem — I didn’t want my family using SLS shampoo, so I had to find one that didn’t contain it. SLS goes by many names** but this was where my label reading skills came in handy.  Although, after spending a lot of time in stores pouring over ingredients lists (even health food stores), I couldn’t find even one shampoo that didn’t contain SLS. So, I made my own, and since them I’ve been an ingredients geek.

Christina Moss
© 2013 Christina Moss All Rights Reserved

*Carcinogens help produce cancer
**Other names for SLS: Sodium dodecyl sulfate, A13-00356, Sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester, sodium salt, Akyposal SDS, Sodium salt sulfuric acid, Aquarex ME, Monododecyl ester sodium salt sulfuric acid, Aquarex methyl.

You can find my all natural products at http://www.ChristinaMossNaturals.com.

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Current Events

Boston Bombings

Boston Bombings

Dear World,

First of all, thank you for your outpouring of love and concern. It means so much to us. Our heart bleeds for those we lost, for their loved ones and for the great city in which it happened.

We make no mistake in sizing up the current scene: regardless of who they are only cowards strike a blow, then run and hide. As of this writing we don’t know what driving force lies behind it all, but we are certain that the only want of those who commit acts of terror, is to cause a nation, perhaps a world, to cower back and live in shadows as our attackers do even now.

They hope to overcome with fear — fear of doing, fear of having all the joys life has to offer. Fear of reaching out and congregating freely. Fear of crowds, suspicion of strangers, trepidations about celebrating, traveling, and sports events. And most importantly, fear of freedom in a nation built upon that very word.

We understand the message, but we are not listening. Instead, in the wake of the destruction, we discover a rehabilitated love, not only for our freedom but for all who are good, and we are so many. We say “I love you” more often, we’re kinder to strangers, and we make a point of helping those in need. We are brave and we will not change our ways. Instead, we have become stronger. As a people, this is how we fight back. We invite you join us in this peaceful revolution.

With each blow, they wish for us to cower back. But we will not. For with each blow, like tempered steel, we draw strength. And even with this last one, we are stronger still.

Once again, thank you, World, for caring about us.

We love you too.

Sincerely,

America

© Christina Moss

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Humor

An Idea that Swept the Nation

I will open this article with a question to the female population of the United States, regardless of age.

Have you noticed that more men now refer to you as “Miss” instead of “Ma’am?” Well, I take full responsibility for this little shift in our culture. That’s right! I started the trend, “Don’t call me Ma’am” some years ago, and my concept went viral.

don't call me ma'am
I know that some of you will thank me for putting an end to a cultural habit that makes women feel older than the pyramids. I’m also aware that others (dare I use the term reactionaries?) will hate me for killing an ancient tradition. But so what! I have long since learned by experience that I can’t please everyone all the time! (Try reading some reviews for my books and you’ll see what I mean.)

WHAT EXACTLY HAVE I LIBERATED WOMEN FROM? This is a good question, and here are some examples to illustrate the changes that have come about because of my interference thanks to my intervention.

BEFORE:
RESTAURANT WAITER — “Do you want the diet menu, Ma’am?”
CAR MECHANIC — “That’s a lot of smoke, Ma’am. It’ll cost $1000 to fix.”
POLICE OFFICER — “Ma’am, are you aware that you were traveling fifty in a twenty-five mile an hour zone?”

AFTER:
SAME RESTAURANT WAITER — “Miss, can I tempt you with our chocolate desert special? It’s free!”
SAME CAR MECHANIC — “It’s just a radiator hose, Miss. No charge!”
SAME POLICE OFFICER — “You have a nice day now, Miss, and drive safe out there.”

See what I mean? Big difference, right?

WHY DID I DO IT? I admit it was out of selfishness. I simply didn’t like being called “Ma’am” and I wanted to see the ancient custom left in the twentieth century where it belonged. So I took positive action by planting one little seed that grew and grew. Little did I know at the time that it would start trending and catch on like wildfire.

HOW DID THIS ALL HAPPEN? As historical evidence I offer below the actual conversation which launched the campaign that went viral, and forever changed a nation. Let this publication exist as a permanent window in time for future generations. Here I give you only facts.

It was New Years Eve, just before the turn of the new millennium. I was at the register in a local grocery store when I became engaged in the following conversation with a new bagger.

“Paper or plastic, Ma’am?” he asked me cheerfully.

“Paper,” I replied. He was smiling, and I smiled back. I thought he looked like a decent kid, and part of me really did believe that what I was about to do was a public service to all women everywhere. It was in that spirit that I decided to share an insider tip with the young and impressionable bagger. He deserved to be enlightened.  I leaned over the check shelf and said to him in a hushed, non-threatening way, “I guess no one told you yet. Women don’t like being called ‘ma’am.'”

He looked surprised, but more importantly, interested. After all, he was new and eager to learn. “But . . . my manager told me . . .”

“He’s mistaken. If you don’t know a female, the safest thing to do is address her as ‘Miss,’ not ‘Ma’am.’ It makes old women feel younger, and little girls feel important. And the rest of us just expect it. Trust me it’s better.”

He kept bagging but I could see his mental computer recalculating with the knowledge I’d just shared with him. At that moment I knew he would tell his boss, and his bagger friends, and they’d tell two friends, and so on, and so on. I felt content, that I’d done a small but positive thing that would ripple out with good effects into the new century.

paper or plastic
As I slid my ATM card through the terminal to pay for my groceries, the young bagger leaned over the counter and said quietly, “Thank you. I’ll mention it to my manager.” And just as he put the last bag in my cart he asked me in a clear and slightly louder than expected voice, “Need help to your car, Miss?”

I swear several women turned toward us, and smiled pleasantly.

And today you’ll still find that oddball guy who occasionally calls you Ma’am. But that’s okay. We understand that there will always be people who are slower to change their ways even long after the world has changed. It’s like 1995 all over again with the kid in the neighborhood who kept getting the Flock of Seagulls haircut when everyone else had moved on. We tolerate the slow changer because we instinctively know they don’t adapt well to change. But in time they all come around.

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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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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