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New Year, New Scam

Nothing like a scam to start the new year. It’s becoming way more common than you might think. Scams have a way of affecting the masses everywhere. Let’s take my day here and think of all of the scams that I encountered.

This morning, like I have been doing since November, I got up at about 5AM to prepare for my day in the stock simulator. I have been doing this for the last 3 months and I have been very excited to learn the procedures. I was getting better and better at this over the past week, but today, no. When the President attacked Iran, he put fear into more than just the Iranians. He put fear into the Middle East, the allies, and everyone connected with international commerce. The result was something that I had never encountered before. Craziness put me close to $2,000 in the hole. Of course it was play money but I am trying to develop skills and discipline.

Somewhere along this losing streak, I became aware of new activity in my online store. That is the one on this site. You can visit it if you want, but i has been disabled temporarily. You see, people started buying my stuff. They were buying my downloads. This was my original content. I was so pleased. Then…I realized, most of the transactions were being denied. I quickly realized it was all the same person using many credit cards. After briefly researching this and removing the downloadable products for now, I found that this was a way for people who had acquired stolen credit card data to find out which cards were still live and which were cancelled.

There were 7785 attempts to purchase materials using this stolen credit card data. All but 3 were denied because of credit card rejection. The total attempted crime was $80,536.35 . Yes, that’s a big number, but I was not the intended target. I was the conduit. These people were seeking the cards that “fell through the cracks” to rob individuals of far more. They are operating outside of the United States. Up until this week, all of my website traffic came from the US and China. This week, India and Australia spiked. I am angry but thankful that there were security measures in place to protect me and most of the credit card users. What about getting the perpetrators? They’re in India. Should we bomb India?

Truly the new battlefront is the Internet. If it is not misinformation regarding our politics, then it is the very real threat to national and international commerce. Foreign powers continue to abuse the naivete of American citizens aided by selfish partisan politicians who continue to ignore the fact that the failure of the government to act to lock down our electronic communication and truly defend this front instead of their own personal agendas.

It took me 3 hours to figure out and lock down my site. This is a major crime and if you are reading this, there is a chance that your credit card was used on my site. At some point during my work, the President made a public statement about his “war footing” and the stock market found some more confidence and went on a run. Surprise, surprise. I opened my trading software and I found that I left an open position on 17 shares of Tesla. It went from -$17 to +$325. At some point, I am sure that I will have to deal with the refund of $27 that actually went through on my site. My prayer is that the criminals who found these credit cards were working will immediately charge way more on these accounts. That would be tragic.

If you own a website store, lock it down. If you are alive a breathing, your information is already out there and no amount of free credit monitoring will fix that. Be vigilant. Oh…and Happy New Year.

Above it All

It took a lot of time and effort, but when I got to the top I realized that there is a noise that you just can’t drown out when you are so close to the ground. I also learned about what you need to get to the top. No one is going to carry you to the top. You have to be determined. You have to understand support and resistance. Your support is the ground, twisted and angled as it is against the resistance of gravity.

I received trekking poles for Christmas this year. I like cycling but it does leave your upper body out of the picture. Also, I am a little intimidated about cycling on these trails that are actually labeled cycling trails. Rather than purchasing a mountain bike (and having to explain to my wife that I purchased another bike), I chose to get the poles. I consulted YouTube to get the proper techniques for using the poles, and I was off on my first trek.

The top of the Boo Hoff Trail in La Quinta California. The Salton Sea in the distance.

One thing that I learned is that the route is not marked well. I wanted a much shorter distance with a little higher altitude. At the bottom, you start with a crowded field. As you ascend, the crowd thins out until you are all alone and you have to make your own decisions. When the choice is yours, it’s scary. There were times that I wanted to turn around…but when I got my bearings I decided to get there to the top.

When you’re at the top you want to share it with someone. It is as this moment that the metaphors come flying out of the blue. It’s lonely at the top. While I feel I can learn a lot from the experience, one thing I really know is that it really hurts. Using the poles makes it a full body workout. My arms and my shoulders hurt as much as my legs. Furthermore, my core is nice and tight and I didn’t get the chance to overeat.

It is very possible that I have found my new passion…you know, to go with cycling, day trading, and the other activities that consume my retirement. You need a challenge to get the reward. I am up to the challenge.

Stem Cells and Pain

Medical marketing to a population in pain that is largely on a fixed income for the promise of pain relief through intervention that is cost effective comparatively to some other procedures is infuriating.

In February of 2018, I made a permanent move to California from New Jersey. I knew I should establish some local doctors and as luck would have it, my chronic knee pain reached levels of pain that required me to seek immediate medical help. Urgent Care didn’t have the resources to check my leg for the suspected Baker’s Cyst or blood clot, so I went to the emergency room and they were both confirmed. Since I have had blood clots in the past, a surgical option was moved to the bottom of my list and I began to pay attention to the Stem Cell advertisements that came to me by way of Facebook. I attended a free luncheon.

The information that I received in April of 2018 was very informative and I was ready to get the treatment. Financially, I wasn’t. It seems that this therapy although allowed to be performed by doctors, was still not covered by insurance. The cost of Dr. Duffner’s therapy was $6,000 and if I committed to the treatment, I would get a $500 discount. I didn’t have the $5,500 at the time, and they were willing to let me go into debt with something called Care Credit. I didn’t take it because I had enough debt already.

I limped along for another two months and met my new “family doctor” and we ran some tests. The doctor had concerns about my blood work and my family history, but he was happy to keep me on my blood thinners. I asked him to refer me to Dr. Duffner for an orthopedic followup, but I never got a call.

My leg got stronger over the next 11 months but I hadn’t been “pushing it”. I wanted to exercise to lose the weight that I had put on and improve my overall health. In May of 2019, I read the Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry. I lost 30 pounds, improved my blood numbers, and my pain in my leg all but vanished. Still, I know that I have some lurking issues in the knee. I decided to visit another Stem Cell Seminar. I figured now that it is being more advertised in the mainstream, the competition alone would bring prices more competitive. I was wrong.

Dr. Olesnicky and Dr. Hashimoto are on TV and the Internet and targeting the population of the Coachella Valley. Their costs are $8,900 for the same Stem Cell Therapy that I investigated a year earlier. The question I had was why wasn’t this covered. My choice, if I were still in pain, would be to use pain relievers. In this era of Opioid abuse, why would insurance companies be fighting this coverage and why is the cost so high? My specific therapy that was explained to me would be extracting my own STEM cells from my own fat and reintroducing them at the appropriate spot to stimulate growth. Why is the cost so high?

I now have access to money and if I were in enough pain, I would do it. I was told that this is the perfect time to do it and a person with my history of blood clots makes me a perfect candidate. Thankfully, my lack of pain gives me the ability to think it through and when I do, I get angry…very angry.

Medical marketing to a population in pain that is largely on a fixed income for the promise of pain relief through intervention that is cost effective comparatively to some other procedures is infuriating. This is a perfect fix for people who are dependent on pain relievers and the refusal of insurance companies to cover this procedure pushes patients into creating the necessity for more expensive and invasive procedures in short order. The amount of marketing through TV and Internet represents an enormous cost to the doctors and the behavior in the office makes it almost predatory. “Get this now and I will discount the procedure…” means it is already unreasonably high to begin with.

I am glad that my pain has subsided for now and I will continue to follow good nutritional practices which Dr. Gundry says will activate the STEM cells to repair damage done by inflammation over the years. He too sells far too many products that are marketed to people who want a quick fix for their weight and health issues. After reading his book, it seems to contradict what he preaches. As Dr. Hashimoto said when I asked him what the medical establishment is doing to solve the insurance issue…”healthcare is a business”. STEM Cells may be the next major step in fixing many of our medical problems…but it seems like it is just bad business for insurance to cover it. I don’t completely understand why because it seems like it would save them money and possibly lower costs to their subscribers. Oh, wait…maybe I do understand after all.

A Whole New Me

So what about creativity??? There is no better message to convey to the world than the one where you are reminded that you create your reality everyday. It’s up to you. I learned that with my health. It goes like this. I wanted ice cream. My wife wanted a cookbook. We went to the bookstore. She went for a diet. I went for ice cream. On the aisle on the way to the ice cream shop in the mall, I ran across a display with books written by a particular doctor. I had seen a couple videos on the Internet. I was intrigued. I bought the book, read it and gave it a chance…really gave it a chance and now…I am a whole new me.

Creation takes time. I know it. So…having never given anything a chance that it should have…I finally decided to run the program. It helps that it was written by a doctor. It helps that he has a practice right here in the Coachella Valley where I live. I still haven’t seen him. I have run the program. Here is where I started.

I began in chronic pain from the knee. I had both blood clots in my leg and torn cartilage in my knees. I know that is what I have. I didn’t even need to get a diagnosis. I did go to the doctor in June of 2018 so that I could get a real doctor in my California home. He ran a bunch of baseline tests. He didn’t show extreme concern since the hospital already had me on blood thinners from the most recent DVT.

I ignored my condition for about a year and then in May of 2019, I began the program based on The Plant Paradox. It is a book by Dr. Steven Gundry. It has been 149 days. I went for a followup series of blood tests. And my eyes are opened.

Test6/5/1810/8/19
HDL4752
Chol/HDL Ratio4.993.9
VLDL CHol4112
Cholesterol234205
Triglycerides20762
Non HDL187153
LDL Calc146141
LDL/HDL Ratio32.7

So these numbers are my “so far” numbers. The other aspects include a weight loss of 30 pounds, the reduction in joint pain in my knees and shoulder. All this with no medication, in fact even a reduction in medication for my blood thinner. The cost was about $14 for a Kindle book and the ability to read and follow a plan.

In my next post, I will discuss my recent visit to a medical practice that is promoting Stem Cell therapy. It will be an eye opener.

Just a house (Not)

Like all houses, they need people to become a home. Now there are people in the house and it is a home once more.

My Home
2038 North Bluebell Road

On May 4, 1990, I went to a Title Company office in Woodbury, NJ and signed a zillion papers and became the owner of this little house. Not much has changed from the outside. It started out as a small house and on September 20, 2019, I went to a Title Company office in Bridgeton, NJ and someone else signed a zillion papers and became the owner of this little house. In the 29 years that it was mine, this house was home. My home.

Today that home is represented by a bunch of numbers in a bank account. Over the past few years, the wear and tear on the home has been dealt with so that it may become attractive to another person who could see it as their home. For much of the time over the past few years, no one really enjoyed the new amenities that were added to this home. Like all houses, they need people to become a home. Now there are people in the house and it is a home once more. I drove past the house on the way to dinner after the settlement. There were many cars in the driveway. The lights were on and there was much movement. It was once again a home.

In this house, I raised my kids. I worked at my chosen career and made plans for the future. We endured challenges and came out stronger on the other side. It was simple. We had a roof over our heads. We were warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We left our house to enjoy our days and in the end always came home. Bittersweet is a word that comes to mind. The plans that were hatched in that safe and comfortable home have now come to fruition. Now a new family can enjoy their time in their home. I wish them the very best. Make great memories!!

Stewardship-A Care Full View of the World

Well, this planet is not mine, it’s not yours, and it’s not anybody’s. It is here to sustain us and as such we are its caretakers.

The Amazon is burning. Why should I care? People are starving. Why should we care? The Earth is warming. What is the big concern?

We live but a small time in the ongoing existence of our planet. Humans lived only a small time on this planet according to scientists. Why then do we face such a broad array of problems from the environment to politics to social woes and why are those problems so critical right now?

It is promoted by society, particularly commercial society that we should be striving for financial independence and security. Those who have this to sell believe that those that don’t have only themselves to blame. It’s a pitch made to a world that believes that it can own something. Well, this planet is not mine, it’s not yours, and it’s not anybody’s. It is here to sustain us and as such we are its caretakers.

In church, one of the hardest topics for preachers to preach on is finances. It’s in the Bible that God owns everything. He also requires the first fruits. It’s a hard pill for Christians to swallow so it’s delivered with so much “tact” that it has lost its meaning. The truth is that it is a universal truth. We can’t own anything here…ever. Oh yeah, we can possess it for awhile, but we can’t own it. The only thing that we can own is our mindset. It is this that will cause us to destroy the very world that we live in.

I am not an owner, but a caretaker. While I am here, I have to take care of that which gives me life…my planet. I cannot be careless because if I am careless then I am just a taker. If I am a taker without giving as so many of us are…we will keep on taking until we tip the scales. I cannot be carefree because without the care I cannot be free.

As the political season continues to drag on in the US, we need to care more and not care less. When the tipping point is reached in the environment, there will be nothing we can do to recover. When the tipping point is reached in the economy, there will be nothing we can do to recover. When the tipping point is reached in international politics (aka Presidential trash talk), there will be nothing we can do to recover from the devastation.

Feeling Guilty in Retirement

I was challenged to continue to do my work as long as God keeps me in this body. This seems to be helping me to clarify my life

Everything that I always wanted…

So here I am going into year 3 of my retirement. I always got up to be a teacher very early. I can’t sleep now. I still have to get up. I get confused because there is no one telling me what to do. I can’t seem to get started on anything.

I think that the guilt comes from the fact that when I was a teacher, I knew in my heart that I was helping people. I don’t know. Service to students isn’t always appreciated but I just believed that everyone wanted just what I wanted…crazy right? Still, I managed to fool myself for over 25 years.

Today in church, during a study of Phillipians, I was challenged to continue to do my work as long as God keeps me in this body. This seems to be helping me to clarify my life. Yes, I still want to be at the pool everyday. Yes, I still want to ride my bicycle everyday. Yes, I want to make music…(this is my biggest challenge even though I was a music teacher.) The fact is that I want to enjoy it…guilt free.

I have to be productive. I have to be guilt free. I have to help people. I have to feel relevant. Maybe then, the guilty feeling will go away. I’ll keep you posted.

Dad

The first memory I have of dad was coming through the door from work. We were living in Philadelphia on Walnut Lane in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia. The carpet was an area rug, green in color. We had been out shopping that day. We had seen other men. Mr. Fishman who fitted us for shoes. Mr. Fergalle who cut my hair. Random people who walked past us during the day. They were always weird looking or funny looking to me. Yes this was my first memory of my dad…but not the first time I’d seen him. He came through the door with his briefcase and a smile and there was absolutely no one that was as good looking and wonderful as my dad.

My dad is one half of the most important people in my life. Mom and Dad. Mom is part of my dad’s story. Together they raised me and my brothers and sister. Their job as parents was to sacrifice themselves so that their children could benefit. I watched this every day…first through my selfish eyes where I couldn’t really see anything but my own needs or desires…and then later in life…when they made time for me for things like my little league baseball games, even though I wasn’t very good and then eventually through all of those school plays and concerts. They helped me through my adolescent years and they helped me become the person I am today.

There’s no course you can teach on parenting. There’s no book. There’s no map. Just nothing but commitment and love. There was a lot of love. There’s was a lot of pride. There was a lot of devotion. Love is when you always have a parent there to watch you, to cheer for you, to correct you and to love you in spite of your faults. Mom and dad did that for me and my siblings for years. Later when I had children, my dad would just absolutely dote on his grandchildren. He would buy old drum sticks and flip over old paint buckets to give my son his love for drumming. He was the first step in what is now his career and livelihood. He would provide a place for my daughter to stay when she had to work in the far off remote locations of Princeton and beyond.

Later, after my dad retired, he had to transition in life. Mom worked for a few more years, but, eventually she retired and they became, husband and wife again. They were there…for each other. Getting older is both beautiful and challenging. They went through this stage together. They cared for each other…each one having a bout with age a little earlier in life…spending time getting to hate hospitals. I also know this too. Now, it seems like the pains of everyday living are making it difficult to see who the caregiver is and who needs the care.

My mom and dad have watched couples disappear from their lives one by one and yet they are still together as a couple. This is all that they know. This should be the model for living. If there ever is a book on how to do “family”, it should be modeled after them. Now we are getting closer to the end of them. Soon it will only be one. There will be a hole…a big hole. I don’t know if I am ready for it as a son…let alone a spouse. I know that it will be hard. I know that everyone goes through this. It is seemingly unbearable…and I know it will take family to get through it…the whole family.

My sister has done so much to be there for my mother and father. She is a blessing beyond words. Th future is going to be rough…but as I reflect on my time with mom and dad…I catch myself smiling. I was the lucky one. I got the best two parents in the world. They got to be grandparents to my kids. They helped form another generation and that kind of spirit doesn’t die. It just gets bigger and more present…and those little annoyances, they just fade away.

Today, I will hug my mom and dad and I will cherish the closeness. Everyday, I will carry mom and dad with me. I can’t shake it. They are a part of me…all the good…and some of the bad. It is a perfect recipe. I have to remember that they don’t have to be here physically to be the parents that they have been all my life…and God will welcome two of the greatest souls to ever be placed in imperfect bodies to His Kingdom.

Thanks Dad!

Home away from home

My posting has been limited over the past several months by my work on my NJ house. This was my home for the past 29 years. Now, it is just a house that I need to sell. It is now represented by price, offer and perceived value. Now that there is no Internet, it is far from a home…for me at least.

In late March, I spent time working on the inside of the house. The crazy thing is that if I were still living there, it would not have been a priority. I thought that new carpet, paint, water conditioner and a complete cleanup was going to make my house desirable. I knew that the outside couldn’t be dealt with until I had more money and time.

In June, I went back for another 3 weeks and worked on the outside of the house and installed air conditioners so that the “showings” would go off in comfort. I also cleaned up and washed the outside and scoured the roof and deck that had been subject to the weather. During the time that I was there, realtors had been through the house with potential buyers. Their comments seem to indicate that the house “needs a lot of work”. Whew!!! I have been working tirelessly for months on this house…and it needs a lot of work?

I guess that I shouldn’t take their comments personally. I have heard comments about many things that don’t make sense in my life. I need to divorce myself from the comments on my house as a commentary on my home and my life. It’s high time that I begin work on my new home in California. Meanwhile, in spite of the comments, there is a house in NJ that is just waiting to become a home for a new family. I hope they find each other soon.

My Shit Doesn’t Stink

I have lost over 14 pounds in 30 days. This is faster than what I thought was an aggressive weight loss program with counting calories.

I know that this is usually a comment made in the second person or the third person, but for years I’ve been acutely aware of the opposite. Well, since I have begun a new eating program, I can actually say with confidence that my shit doesn’t stink. It really doesn’t and it doesn’t stick either. I have found the exercise in use of toilet paper is just that…an exercise.

On May 13, I started a program that is based on a book that I bought called The Plant Paradox. This book was written by a Cardiologist named Dr. Steven Gundry. He described his life as a heart surgeon as somewhat frustrating. He was 70 pounds overweight and telling his patients that they were unhealthy and they had to do something about their health. This prompted his own journey of discovery and now leads me to mine.

I used be able to manage my weight by simple calorie counting and exercise. This no longer worked for me and in spite of anything I tried, I couldn’t get the weight off. This program finally explained my situation by identifying my current situation and documenting symptoms that I was experiencing. I made the decision to go on the program and I committed to giving it the time necessary to make a difference. That is 6 weeks. Well, it has been a month and not 6 weeks and I can say without a doubt that there is evidence that what he says is true.

I have lost over 14 pounds in 30 days. This is faster than what I thought was an aggressive weight loss program with counting calories. I was thinking that 2 pounds a week was a little aggressive. My results are about 3 pounds a week and it is not slowing down. I haven’t really changed my exercise routine. Other changes that the doctor said would take place in my digestive tract included less bloating, easier time in the bathroom and the fact that the toilet paper would be clean. He never mentioned about the smell going away. That is part of my evidence of cleaning up my act.

I will definitely finish up the 6 weeks and then go beyond. At the 6 week time, I will make an appointment with my primary care doctor and see if I can get off my blood thinning medication. Also, I will make an appointment with Dr. Steven Gundry who is local to my new home in Palm Springs. This will confirm the good news about my new choices.