If we all obeyed the speed limit

Local jurisdictions would have to find other ways to fill their coffers. First, the District of Columbia installed red light cameras (to catch those running a red light) and speed cameras. The District of Columbia has raised oodles of dollars from these traffic offenses. The District relies heavily on these traffic violations.

Now it seems every community in a DC suburb has installed the red light camera and speed cameras.

Were these communities unsafe before the cameras were installed! I can’t imagine it being so.

It’s all about raising revenue.

So let’s not forget – don’t speed,

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Memorial Day Weekend

For many, if not most Americans, it’s the official start of summer. But while at the beach or while BBQ-ing, don’t forget the TRUE purpose of the holiday.

If you are able, give a donation to an organization supporting veterans.

Don’t forgot, we wouldn’t be living in such a free and open society without the sacrifices of our veterans.

Is this emphasis on having a college degree misplaced?

I do wonder.  I have a friend who is very bright and very handy, a great combination.  Yes, he has a college degree.  But he’s also very sharp at fixing things, assembling things. When it comes to home maintenance and car maintenance, he’s a “jack of all trades.”   He doesn’t have to spend money hiring someone else to take care of a lot of home maintenance or car maintenance matters.

Not everyone is  meant to go to college.  Some individuals are better with their hands.

  The District of Columbia made the mistake of eliminating all vocational schools several years ago.  The system has plans to re-establish a vocational school, if one is not already in existence.

I have a better appreciation of the importance of those vocational classes [not offered at my college preparatory high school].  We  Americans should have a trade, a skill to “fall back on.”   The trade/skill I’m cultivating is urban gardening.  But, boy, I wish I was “handy” like my friend.  But I’m willing to learn and he’s willing to teach me.

I thought you put that in the shopping cart

A friend of the family is a top notch “handyman.” Recently the front passenger door of my car was squeaking. WD40 didn’t resolve the problem so I figured, better take the car to the mechanic. This family friend rode in the car with me, heard the noise, determined what was wrong and resolved the problem.

Tonight this friend accompanied me to Lowe’s. At one point we both walked away from the shopping cart. When I returned, I noticed a few additional items in the cart and presumed he needed those items, though I thought one item seemed weird. I purchased those items because this family friend doesn’t charge me.

When we arrived at my house and he unloaded items from the car, he gave me those handful of items. I responded, I thought these were yours. He thought they were mine, though at least one item he was surprised I would purchase.

Well, he figured someone else placed those items in our shopping cart by mistake. Hilarious! Well, have to return to Lowe’s anyway because we forgot to purchase mulch.

I Need a Maid!

Yes, The Money Heifer wishes she had one.  And I know I’m not alone in wishing for one.

No, I’m not picking up after little kids (there’s enough cleaning after the dog though).  But it’s amazing how little time one has and the number of things one would like to do.

I know my problem is I’m doing TOO MUCH:  besides work (a given), I run three times a week [maybe just twice this week with the “bum” right knee] – which means I get up 5:00 a.m. in the morning; on non=run days I ride the  bike or jump rope.  I periodically give power point presentations on genealogy related topics (giving a 2nd one this month this upcoming Saturday). I’m the editor of a genealogy related newsletter. I’m a certified “Master Gardener” and must earn a certain number of educational and volunteer hours each year to maintain my certification. Plus I have my own vegetable garden (just planted some pathetic looking zucchini and cucumbers I grew from seed yesterday – didn’t have time earlier to plant and last week it rained virtually every day).  And, I didn’t mention this blog!  Additionally, there’s always various social functions or activities.

Then there are the household related chores: cleaning the house, washing clothes, mowing the lawn, buying groceries.  I’ve been too “preoccupied” with other activities that I can see the layers of dirt.  I still have turtle necks hanging in the closet.

I am so tired these days. And it seems, I’m really punishing myself when I play catch up (like right now).  I still have not pulled out all warm climate clothes from the closest and still have many winter climate clothes in the closets.  When overwhelmed, I start thinking about a “maid” and how the house would be clean upon my arrival home.  If I had a maid,  I would have time to do other things (minus yard work – no self-respecting maid will do those chores).

And, no maid has magically appeared since I started typing this post.  Well, back to REALITY = time to get my clothes out of the dryer.

16 quarters for 2 hours of parking

Yup that’s not a typo. Outrageous! But that’s DC for you.

Meeting friend for brunch. Hopefully, much better bang for my quarters.

The battle over “swipe fees”

Part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law was a measure to limit fees banks may charge retailers each time a consumer pays by swiping their debit card.  Maybe I’m missing something, but these swipe fees didn’t cause the financial crisis in 2008?  Sounds like the retail lobbyists had the ear of Congress.

Anyway in yesterday’s WSJ, Robin Sidel and Vitoria McGrane co-wrote an article entitled Banks and Merchants Reload for Fee Battle.  I quote pertinent paragraphs below.

Banks and credit unions are using a recent debit-card scam at Michaels Stores Inc. as fresh ammunition in their fight against a federal proposal to reduce the amount they can charge merchants for processing such payments.

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The debit-fee measure requires the Federal Reserve to write a rule restricting what are called swipe fees.  The central bank issued a draft proposal in December, capping the fees at 12 cents a transaction for large banks, down from the current average of 44 cents.

Banks have assailed the proposal, in part because they say it doesn’t take into account the cost of losses that result from a bank data theft or breach.  Customers aren’t liable for unauthorized debit transactions; those costs are typically absorbed by the bank that issued the plastic.

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Fraud costs won’t go away when the Fed caps swipe fees, banks say, so they will have to find other ways to address those costs, such as raising fees on consumers and eliminating rewards programs.  Banks have said they may protect themselves from fraud losses by capping debit-card transactions at $50 or $100.  They haven’t said they would stop reimbursing consumers.

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The retail industry is pushing back.  Retail officials say in many cases bank make merchants cover the cost of fraud incidents.  Retailers say they also have invested billions of dollars helping to plug security holes while the banks refuse to take a step that, according to retailers, would make the system far safer: Issuing consumer cards embedded with computer chips, which retailers claim are less vulnerable to fraud than debit cards that require a signature.

The consumer really does not have a bone in this fight between the banks and the retailers.  But as a consumer, hey banks, DO NOT raise fees, DO NOT eliminate rewards program.  If banks want to cap debit transactions to $50 or $100, that’s fine with me.  But I agree with the retailers, banks need to “get with the program” and issue cards with the embedded computer chip.  Less susceptible to fraud and would ultimately reduce the number of fraud claims.

Now, can we focus on more fundamental problems with the economy?

Don’t Pay With Debit Card; Dave Ramsey is WRONG!

Yes, The Money Heifer, is doing an about-face, a 360 degree turn.

For those who have followed this blog, you know I’m a fan of Dave Ramsey, but I don’t practice everything he preaches.  I was persuaded by his arguments to use a debit card versus a credit card.  With a debit card, you are spending what you have in your account.  Basically, Dave Ramsey promotes the use of a debit card to help individuals avoid drowning in credit card debt.  A noble effort.

Last August my debit card was compromised.  And I hadn’t used that particular card in months.  The bank offered to send me a replacement debit card and I refused.  It was the second time my debit card had been compromised (the bank has since sent me another debit card in the mail; haven’t bothered to activate).

Little by little there are news stories here and there about money being withdrawn from individual’s accounts because thieves have managed to obtain pin numbers for debit cards.  Well, with the recent swipe of debit card data from Michaels – chain of arts and crafts store – I’m crying uncle!  No more paying with debit card.  Credit card only.

In a May 13, 2011 Wall Street Journal  article by Ann Zimmerman and Miguel Bustillo, one learns how the thieves collected the data and stole money from individual accounts.

The thefts apparently involved the use of electronic devices called skimmers that allowed crooks to record information from shoppers’ debit cards and steal their personal identification numbers, or PINs.

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Thieves were able to use the stolen data to create duplicate debit cards and use them in automated machines to steal money directly from victims’ bank accounts, primarily in denominations of $500.

Yikes!

What’s worse is technology exists where these debit card transactions would not be so vulnerable but, hey, it is an expense.

A type of debit card embedded with a microchip instead of a magnetic strip is considered more secure and is standard issue in Europe, said Ms. Litan.  But U.S. retailers have resisted the cards because of the cost involved in replacing existing card processors to read the microchip.

Okay, you’ve been warned.  Do you still want to pay by debit card?  I think not!

Pay by credit card instead.  That’s right, CREDIT CARD.

Shift the risk of fraud to the big companies by using credit cards (they can afford it) versus you bearing the  risk of fraud by  losing a chunk of money in your account by using debit card.

Growing from seeds

Last year I had a pretty successful vegetable garden. Except for the pole beans I grew from seeds, everything I grew from plants I purchased.

Well, I keep hearing & reading that one should grow one’s vegetables from seeds. If you buy plants at the big box store or even some garden centers, you won’t have the variety of tomatoes to choose from versus if you purchase seeds and grow yourself. Also don’t expect to cultivate those heirloom tomatoes.

So I decided to grow from seeds this year. Well, once that seedling has emerged, and before you can transplant that seedling now small plant outdoors, I read I need to “harden” the plants by placing them outdoors in the sun for an hour, and increase the time the plants are outdoors. Hello, when can I do that? I work full time. The sun isn’t very vibrant at 6:00 a.m. in the morning this time of year.

I have some cucumber and zucchini plants that are dying to be transplanted outdoors. Looks like the zucchini is overgrowing the container. But with training for a 10K, the recent completion of the back porch and the days of wet weather, I have not had time to prepare my garden areas and plant the zucchini and cucumber.

To add insult to injury, at the Farmers’ Market last week I found some heirloom tomato plants including one I am growing from seeds.

Growing from seeds maybe cheaper but if your busy and pressed for time, buy your vegetable plants, preferably at a Farmers’ Market or garden center which sells a great variety. That’s the plan for next year (& plan B for this year).

Shame on you Lady, Would Be Thief

Yesterday morning (Sunday) about 10:45 a.m. I’m standing in line at the grocery store.  There are two customers ahead  of me.  I’m not paying much attention to them as I empty the contents of my shopping cart.

The customer two ahead of me, a female between her mid 40s and early 5os, completes her transaction and departs.  The next customer, an elderly gentleman directly in front of me, says something to the cashier, who then calls out to the female customer who had just departed.  The female customer, at first did not stop, but ultimately returned to the register.

I thought, maybe, the cashier forgot to give something to the female customer.  Instead, as I watched, I deduced the female customer had a two or three 12-packs of sodas at the bottom of the shopping cart.  Apparently the cashier did not see the packs of soda, the female customer apparently was hoping to walk out the grocery store without paying for them, and the elderly male customer in front of me recognized the “would-be-thief.”  The female customer remarked as she paid for the packs of soda, well now all my money is gone or words to that effect.  

I couldn’t believe it.  Caught red-handed.  She’s lucky she wasn’t busted.

Of course, when it was time for The Money Heifer to be served, I began peppering the cashier with questions.  The cashier told me she did not see those packs of soda at the bottom of the shopping card.  But for the honest elderly male customer, that female customer would have walked out of the grocery store without paying for the merchandise.  The cashier even told me that the female customer was complaining about all the money she was spending for her children’s graduation party (how would her children feel if she had been BUSTED).

I can’t believe that woman tried that, on a SUNDAY morning, no less (and of course stealing is wrong ANY day of the week).  Shame, shame on YOU.

Thankfully, that elderly male customer in front of me reported her shenanigans.

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