Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm sitting here, with a FULL belly, a little bit of wine left in my glass, and trying to stay awake now. I had a nice Thanksgiving here. Computer games, relaxing, and cooking. I decided to keep things a little simple this year, and didn't over do things with the food. I bought a half-a turkey breast, and was worried it might not be enough... silly... it was plenty. I wasn't sure how I was going to prepare the turkey breast. I don't use my oven except maybe 3 times a year, so I don't feel confident on knowing how it works. I think I did this one year before (can't remember if I did it, or just thought of doing it?). I decided to cook the turkey in my WOK! Yep, like you, I was hesitant. But I figured why knot? It's not much different than chicken right? So that's what I did.
The difficult part was trying to cut the meat off the bones ahead of time. Wegmans included the wishbone, a few small rib bones, and the back bone in this package (A little perturbed at learning this... I thought I was getting just the breast meat, and not a package full of bones). But, after about 20 minutes of careful cutting, I managed to get a nice stack of meat. I cut the meat in heafty chunks (about 1.5 inches). I didn't want it to cook too fast and dry out.
I started my potatoes first as they took the longest to cook. As they were boiling, I was doing the meat cutting. It worked out perfect.
In addition to the turkey, I added one large onion, diced roughly, poultry seasoning, a little garlic powder, olive oil, a chunk of butter towards the end, and salt and pepper. That's it. Set the heat to high at first, then as I started to make the mashed potatoes (using soy milk), I turned the heat down to med.
After finishing the Mashing, I made some 'stove top stuffing' (quick and easy and tastes good - but NO where near mom's homemade stuffing!), I then finished everything off, by heating a small can of corn in the microwave. Oh, and as the turkey was done, I added (right out of the fridge) a small container of Wegmans (home made) gravy. I let that come up to temperature in the wok, then started to "plate" (fancy chef talk for putting the food on the plate). I put a layer of Mashed, Then a layer of stuffing, then poured the gravy/meat/onions mixture on top of it all. Corn in a sep bowl.
Man... it tasted good! Turkey was tender and juicy, not the slightest bit dry. I knew it was all fully cooked, so no worries about "is that section cooked enough"?
Much to my surprise, I have a LOT of leftovers too.

I hope your Thanksgiving meal turned out as well as mine did. I love it when I wing it and it works :)
Tomorrow's challenge... Pumpkin pie for Saturday dinner with folks. I've made them before and pretty easy. Yes... I cheat, and buy pilsbury crust.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm being scammed...

Well, this guy is trying to scam me, but luckily I'm onto his scam, and did not fall for his lies.
All I can say is "thank God" for caller id, google, and!
Whenever I get a phone number I don't recognize on my caller id, I usually don't pick up the phone. But occasionally, this person will call repeatedly when I'm not home, and then I start to think, this person really wants to talk to me. So Google to the rescue.
I just type in the phone number into google and most of the time, the number (if it's a telemarketer) will show up, with other people who have similar complaints.
This is what I did yesterday.
I looked up 201-210-3618. Sure enough, a nice long list of complaints. I particularly like the website so I clicked on that to read other people's complaints.
Calls around the same time each morning 8:40 am. So this time, I finally picked up, thinking I could get on the "do not call" list.
It went roughly like this:
him: Hello, is this "mr. x"?
me: Who's calling please?
him: Scott Anderson (actually I can't recall the name he used, but he had a heavy middle eastern accent).
me: Who are you?
him: Is this mr.x?
me: yes
him: (He spoke fast, and with his accent I had a hard time understanding him, but), I'm calling from Aegis .... about your credit card with bank .... from GAP. (This was the same line that others reported, so I knew it was a scam). You have an outstanding balance...
me: (I interupted his speech here) Can you put me on your "do not call" list?
him: No
me: (kinda stunned) No?
him: You have not given me a good reason
me: I don't want you to call me any more, and I don't want to talk to you, that's why! (starting to loose temper now)
him: But I'm just trying to collect the money that you owe...
me: Look, I know who you are, and googled your phone number so I know this is a scam. If you call here again, I will sue you.
him: You'll sue me?! I'll sue YOU! (he was angry now too).
me: (I realized I'm arguing with a crazy person so time to cut things short now)... Very slowly, I said "DO NOT CALL ME AGAIN" and then hung up on him.

I'm curious now if he will call me anymore, or if I was able to get him to stop calling, because I called his scam.

This just makes me so mad, because all I could picture was that he is calling other people who don't have caller id, who don't know you can google a telephone number, or who might be elderly or confused, and start to give the man personal information that could lead to identiy theft.
A very small part wants him to call again, so I can set up my phone recorder and perhaps get some more information out of him, that I could bring to the authorities.
The larger part of me, hopes he'll never call me again.

In the hopes that someone else out there googles the number I hope they find this blog post.

201-210-3618 obviously... do not call this number.

update: 11/19/08
Yes... they are still calling me. On Sunday afternoon they called again. I made another attempt to speak with them to get them to stop calling.
It was futile. They will not give up. They continue to ask the same questions over and over and over in the hopes that you will answer them - thus gaining one more piece of information.
I refused to answer any of their questions.
I spoke to two different men in India (at least that's where they said they were calling from, and they do have an Indian accent)... but oddly enough, both men are named Alex. Alex Anderson, and Alex Murphy. What are the odds? I had no idea there were that many Alex's in India.
I decided it's time to report these guys (there is at least one woman working there too). I went up to my local police office to file a complaint. I spoke with the dispatcher first. With respect - she had no idea what she was talking about. She finally said, she would call an officer to come speak with me. I spoke with the officer... I started to tell him the above story... but as soon as I said they were calling me from India, he just sat back in his chair and said "there's nothing we can do". Don't get me wrong... I don't expect my local Police to hop on a plane, fly over and arrest someone... but it seems to me, they should know how I would be able to stop these people from attempting to commit fraud on people. The officer said my best bet was to just ignore the calls, or to purchase "call blocking" from my local phone company.
I just felt like I was kicked in the stomach. Yes... I do want them to stop calling me. But I also want to report these people to the right authorities so that they don't scam someone else! But I've spent hours! online trying to find someone, or some agency to report them to, and I'm just met with wall after wall.
I've given up. I will pick up the phone if I'm here, and try to keep them on the line as long as possible, but I won't utter a word. I figure if I can keep them on the line for 40 seconds, that's 40 seconds they're not harassing someone else. I'm also tying up one of their workers, and hopefully making their phone bill go up (though they're prob using VOIP).
I am racking my brain to see if there is some other option I'm overlooking... at some point, I may consider the 'call block', but right now, I REFUSE to pay one penny to anyone due to these jerks.
I'll update if there is something new.

I don't have an exact date, but it was just over 3 months that they FINALLY stopped calling me.
It was an almost daily phone call, but I was determined not to give in. On the few occasions where I tried to pick up the phone and talk to them again, and try to reason with them, I was always connected to a recording. To those who are getting called by this number, and find this website, have faith that eventually they will stop calling.
For what it's worth, I found a lot of complaints with the California better business bureau regarding this company (or it's aliases). It does appear to be a "legitimate" collection agency in some cases. IF you do owe money, then obviously this is not a scam. Do your own research, and make your own judgments accordingly.