Saturday, May 27, 2017

2 Amazing Novels (part 1 & 2) The FLASH:Haunting of Barry Allen and Arrow: Generation of Vipers

I just finished reading 2 books that are part of the same storyline that involve 2 of my favorite The Flash:Haunting of Barry Allen and the second part is "Arrow: A Generation of Vipers." 
superheroes from the CW Television network shows. The first part is
Both are outstanding and both are by Clay and Susan Griffith.
BOTH get 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion as a superhero fan for the last 35 years.
   Both the Flash and Arrow stories are outstanding. The plot and really complements all of the characters on the CW Network TV programs. The villains presented were interesting, appealing and engaging. There was some twists and it was a page turner.
  I read the Flash book in 4 days and Arrow in the same amount of time. I found them Both hard to put it down.   If you love the Flash and Green Arrow, and the television shows, this is the novel for you. I'm currently reading part two, Arrow's "A Generation of Vipers" and enjoying that just as much. I hope this team of authors writes many more.

Friday, May 26, 2017

This Affects YOU: East Coast U.S. Residents: Gov't to begin seismic surveys in Atlantic in drilling push

the region now opening for drilling
Not surprising, and alarming - the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern Atlantic U.S. coasts are now being surveyed for gas and oil
drilling off-shore.

Source: http://www.startribune.com/trump-to-begin-seismic-surveys-in-atlantic-in-drilling-push/421912943/ 

Gov't to begin seismic surveys in Atlantic in drilling push

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration said Wednesday it is moving forward on seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean, the first step toward offshore drilling in a region where it has been blocked for decades.
The Interior Department said it is reviewing six applications by energy companies that were rejected by the Obama administration.

The oil and gas industry has pushed for the surveys, which map potential drilling sites for oil and natural gas. No surveys have been conducted in the mid- and south-Atlantic regions for at least 30 years.

The regions, as defined by the Interior Department, stretch from northern Florida to Delaware. Any new drilling activity is expected to be limited to the coasts of Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month aimed at expanding drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, part of his promise to unleash the nation's energy reserves in an effort to reduce imports of foreign oil. Trump's order reversed an action by former President Barack Obama and faces fierce opposition from environmental activists and many Democrats, who say offshore drilling harms whales, sea turtles and other marine life and exacerbates global warming.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Robocalls flooding your cellphone? Here’s how to stop them!

An unfamiliar number appears on your cellphone. It is from your area code, so you answer it, thinking it might be important.
There is an unnatural pause after you say hello, and what follows is a recording telling you how you can reduce your credit card interest rates or electric bill or prescription drug costs or any of a number of other sales pitches.
Another day, another irritating robocall. If it feels as if your cellphone has increasingly been flooded with them, you are right.
Ryan Kalember, senior vice president of cybersecurity strategy at Proofpoint, a cybersecurity company in Sunnyvale, California, said the volume of robocalls has seen a “particularly big uptick” since the fall.
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    In a Robocall Strike Force Report in October, the Federal Communications Commission said telemarketing calls were the No. 1 consumer complaint.
     Citing statistics from YouMail, a developer of robocall-blocking software, the commission said consumers received an estimated 2.4 billion robocalls per month last year, driven in part by internet-powered phone systems that have made it cheap and easy to make them from anywhere in the world.
    Alex Quilici, chief executive of YouMail, said his company estimated that 2.3 billion calls were made in December 2016, up from 1.5 billion in December 2015. The company said it extrapolates data from the calls made each month to its users.
More than annoying, the calls can cross over into the outright fraudulent. In one scheme, callers pretending to represent the Internal Revenue Service claim the person answering the phone owes back taxes and threatens them with legal action. The scheme has reaped more than $54 million, the FCC said.
“If the robocalls were not valuable to the scammers, they wouldn’t be doing them,” Kalember said.
Here’s how you can fight them:

Rule No. 1

The most simple and effective remedy is to not answer numbers you don’t know, Quilici said.
“Just interacting with these calls is just generally a mistake,” he said.
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If you do answer, don’t respond to the invitation to press a number to opt out. That will merely verify that yours is a working number and make you a target for more calls, experts said.

Turn to the government

List your phones on the National Do Not Call Registry. If your number is on the registry and you do get unwanted calls, report them.
Quilici said the registry is helpful but should not be seen as a panacea.
“If I’m sitting in India dialing a million numbers, what are the odds I’m even going to be fined for violating the Do Not Call Registry?” he asked. “It’s probably near zero.”

Turn to technology

Download apps such as Truecaller, RoboKiller, Mr. Number, Nomorobo and Hiya, which will block the calls. YouMail will stop your phone from ringing with calls from suspected robocallers and deliver a message that your number is out of service.
Quilici said phone companies, such as T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T, also have tools to combat robocalls. They work by blocking calls from numbers known to be problematic.

Turn the tables

And then there is the Jolly Roger Telephone Co., which turns the tables on telemarketers. This program allows a customer to put the phone on mute and patch telemarketing calls to a robot, which understands speech patterns and inflections and works to keep the caller engaged.
Subscribers can choose robot personalities, such as Whiskey Jack, who is frequently distracted by a game he is watching on television, or Salty Sally, a frazzled mother.
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The robots string the callers along with vocal fillers like “Uh-huh” and “OK, OK.” After several minutes, some will ask the callers to repeat their sales pitch from the beginning, prompting the telemarketers to have angry meltdowns, according to sample recordings posted on the company’s website.

Watch what you say (do NOT say "yes")

One recent scheme involves getting consumers to say “yes” and later using a recording of the response to allow unauthorized charges on the person’s credit card account, the FCC warned in March.
When the caller asks, “Can you hear me?” and the consumer answers “yes,” the caller can gain a voice signature that can later be used to authorize fraudulent charges by telephone.
Best to answer with “I can hear you,” Kalember said.

What’s ahead

The callers are evolving, Kalember said. Some have numbers that appear to be from your area code (they result in higher response rates); others employ “imitation of life” software in which the robocall sounds like a live person, complete with coughing, laughing and background noise. This artificial intelligence can be programmed to interact in real time with a consumer.
A recording on the Consumers Union website features an exchange in which a man tries to confirm he is talking to a live person. As the call progresses, the consumer presses for confirmation.
“Will you tell me you’re not a robot? Just say, ‘I’m not a robot’ please,” he says, which is met with various programmed replies of “I am a real person” and “There is a live person here.”

Why robocalls proliferate

Quilici compared robocalling to spam emails: It is all about volume. Companies can use software to make millions of calls at very little expense. They need only a few victims to fall prey to their schemes to more than cover their costs.
“When you hear these guys do these scam pitches, they’re pretty amazing,” he said.
The next development will be integrated efforts combining email, phone calls and social media to scheme money from consumers, Kalember said, adding that the level of innovation “is really quite astounding.”
“Technology is enabling at a scale we haven’t seen before,” he said.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Entertaining Mystery: Occult and Battery by Lena Gregory

I (Rob) recently read an entertaining mystery called "Occult and Battery' by Lena Gregory. I hadn't
heard of the author and since its one of 2 books in the "Bay Island Psychic Mystery" series I bought it (especially as a medium).
   I enjoyed the book and the characters were likeable and well developed. I especially liked Bee, a gay best friend to the main character, Cass Donovan. Cass' other best friend Stephanie is married to a police officer, which made solving the mystery easier.   The story was good and kept you guessing with a twist at the end.
  The only thing I didn't care for is that Cass was "acting" like a psychic and wasn't one. She was a former psychologist who used her human studies to "read" people. That didn't sit well with me, since I personally have helped people with messages from people and pets on the other side, and I don't make things up or try and figure out what people want to hear. Other than that, I would recommend it, and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Overview (from Barnes and Noble)
 A murder mystery weekend becomes a little too real in the latest Bay Island Psychic Mystery from the author of Death at First Sight—
   Cass Donovan uses her skills as a former psychiatrist to get away with pretending to be psychic, but she’s not about to let anyone get away with murder...
   The outlook is not so good for Cass’s psychic shop, Mystical Musings. With winter winds discouraging tourists from riding the ferry from Long Island to Bay Island, Cass hopes to draw in more customers by hosting a murder mystery weekend, complete with a séance, in a supposedly haunted mansion.

   But Cass begins to lose her spirit when her ex-husband shows up, along with his fiancée—Cass’s ex-best friend. Then, after one of the guests is found dead, a blizzard blows in, trapping everyone inside with a murderer. Now Cass must divine who did the deed before her reputation and her livelihood fade away.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gay Husband Not Allowed to Claim his Husband's Body

If you think that gay couples don't face discrimination since gay marriage became the law of the land, think again. The Washington Post just published a story about a gay Husband Not Allowed to Claim his Husband's Body.  (BTW, it also happened to a couple here in the Washington, DC area 2 years ago after they were married and one passed).
   Our christian friends say "Christians should Never do such horrible things," and they're right. But Christians, especially in the Southern U.S. do this ALL THE TIME and they are the face of christianity in the southern U.S. It's inhumane, it's appalling, it's disgusting, it's evil. Just imagine not being allowed to claim your spouse's body after they pass in a hospital or having a funeral home refuse to have services for your deceased spouse. That's the reality of many christians in the Southern U.S., whether people want to believe it or not.

They lived as a gay couple in Mississippi for 20 years. The worst indignity came in death, lawsuit says.

Source: WASHINGTON POST

For most of the 52 years he was in a relationship with Robert Huskey, Jack Zawadski doesn’t remember much in the way of anti-gay discrimination.
A decoration in the home of Robert Huskey, left, and Jack Zawadski, featuring old pictures of the married couple. Zawadski is now 82, and Huskey died last year at age 86. (Veronica Hayyar)
Not while they were trying to grow apples on a farm in Wisconsin. Not during the decades they spent as special education teachers. Not even when they moved to Mississippi 20 years ago to retire someplace warmer and more lush, or after they married in 2015, when the Supreme Court declared that gay couples have as much of a right as heterosexuals to marry.

But in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Pearl River County, Miss., Zawadski said that prejudice finally reared its head when he was most vulnerable: last May, when Huskey died at age 86 after a long illness.
In a 14-page complaint, Zawadski, 82, said the funeral home that had been prearranged to pick up and cremate Huskey’s body refused at the last minute, telling the nursing home that they don’t “deal with their kind.”
In a response filed with the court in March, the owners of the Picayune Funeral Home in Picayune, Miss., deny the events as described by Zawadski and his nephew, who made the arrangements and is co-plaintiff.

Silas W. McCharen, an attorney for the owners of the funeral home, Ted and Henrietta Brewer, said in an email that the firm has never discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. Henrietta Brewer denies she made reference to not serving “their kind,” he said, and the firm never refused to pick up the remains. But he declined to elaborate further.
Zawadski is being represented by Lambda Legal, an LGBT rights law firm and advocacy organization based in New York. Because neither Mississippi law nor federal law explicitly forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the suit is relying on “other state laws that hopefully will provide a remedy for the terrible actions that happened here,” said Beth Littrell, the attorney handling the case.
“The essence of the claim is that they both breached a contract and denied services at the last minute to a grieving family based on the fact that the man who had passed away was gay and was married to a man,” said Littrell, whose organization is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from a jury.
For Zawadski, the suit is a rare activist moment. He said he and his husband lived unassuming lives and were rarely open with their friends and neighbors about their sexual orientation. “We lived our lives quietly,” he said in an interview. “We didn’t hit the bars or anything like that.”

The pair met in 1965 in California. After moving around and traveling to indulge their interest in Civil War history, they decided to settle down in the small town of Picayune, not far from the Louisiana border. Zawadski grew camellias, and Huskey served for a time as president of the homeowner’s association.
“And that’s how we lived,” Zawadski said. “We just enjoyed each other.”

They never mentioned their sexual orientation, and nobody asked, he said — not even after the two were married by a judge in nearby Hancock County on Aug. 17, 2015.
 Then, Huskey’s health took a turn, and he underwent bypass surgery, the complaint said. “Jack cared for Bob through his surgery, recovery and as his condition deteriorated,” it said. “By August, 2015, Jack was helping Bob with all the daily functions of life, including eating, walking and personal hygiene.” Huskey moved into a nursing home, and last April it became clear that he would soon die.

The couple’s nephew, John Gaspari, made the arrangements ahead of time with Picayune Funeral Home, the only funeral home in the county with an on-site crematory, according to the complaint. Zawadski had hoped to hold the funeral there so the couple’s local friends could pay their respects. On May 11, 2016, Gaspari contacted the funeral home to let them know Huskey had died. But after filing the paperwork, including a document naming Zawadski as next of kin, Gaspari got a call from the nursing home.

“The Nursing Home relayed to John that once received the paperwork indicating that Bob’s spouse was male, PFH refused service because it did not ‘deal with their kind,’ ” the lawsuit stated.

Gaspari and Zawadski were left scrambling to find another funeral home that could cremate Huskey on-site, according to the complaint. They found one in Hattiesburg, about 90 minutes away. But because the nursing home did not have a morgue, it refused to hold Huskey’s remains until the Hattiesburg facility could retrieve it. So Gaspari and Zawadski had to enlist a second, closer funeral home to pick up his body until then.

“The turmoil and exigency created by Defendants in causing Plaintiffs to find alternative arrangements, as described above, permanently marred the memory of Bob’s otherwise peaceful passing,” the complaint said. Zawadski said his motives for bringing the suit are not financial but rather to ensure that no one else goes through what he experienced. In a video produced by Lambda Legal, Zawadski said through tears that the funeral home had shown disrespect toward his husband.
“This, I hope, brings him some honor,” he said.

 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Yay! UNPOPULAR! - 🎶Another Randy Rainbow Song Parody 💄

Randy Rainbow sits down with President Trump to go over his first 100 days... and tells him in song that he's "Unpopular!" Hysterical. (The song is a parody of 'Popular' from the musical Wicked)

https://youtu.be/TPg0BWvhMkA

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Stupidity of the Week: Trump administration guts EPA science panel

Q: When does an agency that stand for something, NOT stand for something? 
A: When Scientists who Protect Us against pollution are Replaced by the Polluters.
Yes, that just happened on May 9th..  
So, if you don't have asthma or heart issues, if you don't like clean water, or  hate living near hazardous waste, then this is good news for you. But if you want clean air, water, land this is the ultimate stupidity.

Trump administration guts EPA science panel
By Michael Biesecker Associated Press 5-9-17
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration will not reappoint half the expert members of a board that advises the Environmental Protection Agency on the integrity of its science, the latest in a series of moves that could benefit industries whose pollution the government regulates.
    Deborah L. Swackhamer, chairwoman of the Board of Scientific Counselors, confirmed Monday that nine of the 18 outside experts on her panel will not serve a second three-year term. The affected board members’ terms expired April 30.
     Experts are limited to serving two terms on the board, and Swackhamer said that in the past those completing their first term would typically have been reappointed. Four other board members just completed their second terms, meaning 13 of the 18 seats on the panel are now vacant.
     EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said the agency’s new leadership wants to consider a wider array of applicants, potentially including those who may work for chemical and fossil fuel companies. He said former board members may also be considered.
“We are going to look at all applicants that come in, because this is an open and competitive process,” Freire said. “EPA received hundreds of nominations to serve on the board, and we want to ensure fair consideration of all the nominees.”
          Swackhamer said she was not aware of how or when the “hundreds” of nominations Freire mentioned were collected. To her knowledge, there has not yet been any public call for applicants to fill the newly vacated positions.
   EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has long been a fierce critic of the agency he now leads, saying its scientists often fail to weigh the cost of implementing new regulations on businesses. Pruitt, a lawyer who previously served as Oklahoma’s elected attorney general, has moved in recent weeks to roll back Obama-era limits on toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants and countermand a push to ban a pesticide that peer-reviewed studies indicate may harm the developing brains of young children.
   Pruitt also disagrees with the consensus of climate scientists that man-made carbon emissions are the primary cause of climate change, saying that limits on burning coal costs jobs.
   Robert Richardson, one of the scientific counselors not reappointed to a second term, said Pruitt’s public comments reflect a misunderstanding of the role of scientists, which is to impartially collect data and report what the evidence shows.
   “The science will show the impact of a particular chemical or toxic substance, but we would never say it should be banned or regulated in a particular way,” said Richardson, an ecological economist at Michigan State University. It is up to policy makers, Richardson said, to recommend new regulations and consider whether the benefits outweigh the costs.
  “The EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment,” he said. “It is not to minimize cost to industry.”

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins plan to remove artificial colorings from U.S. menus by end of 2018


Coffee and Donuts

We love Dunkin' Donuts coffee, tea and sandwiches (and of course the donuts and pastries are soooo tasty). So, we thought we'd share this press release from the company!

Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins plan to remove artificial colorings from U.S. menus by end of 2018

CANTON, MA (March 2, 2017) – Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: DNKN), the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, today announced plans to remove artificial colors from its products in the U.S. As part of the company’s ongoing efforts to offer guests great-tasting, high-quality products and cleaner menu labels, both the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins product development teams, in partnership with suppliers, have been working to eliminate synthetic colors from their food and beverages and replace the ingredients with naturally sourced colorings in the U.S. by the end of 2018.

Within the next two years, Dunkin’ Donuts will remove synthetic colors across its menu, including donut icings, fillings and toppings, as well as frozen beverages such as Fruit Smoothies and COOLATTA® frozen beverages, baked goods, breakfast sandwiches and coffee flavorings. Similarly, Baskin-Robbins will remove synthetic colors from its menu, including ice cream sold both at its restaurants and in quarts and pints at retail locations, as well as its syrups, sauces, sprinkles and beverages, including Cappuccino Blast®. The exceptions on both brands’ menus include select supplier-branded ingredients produced by other companies and used as toppings, ice cream inclusions or decorative elements. Additionally, Baskin-Robbins will take a longer period of time to find replacements for the decorative elements on its ice cream cakes.

“We are pleased to announce our plans to eliminate artificial colors from our menus in the U.S. by the end of 2018,” said Dunkin’ Brands Chairman and CEO Nigel Travis. “This is a significant undertaking on the part of our product development teams and suppliers. However, we are committed to meet the evolving needs of our customers, including their preference for more nutritional transparency and simpler ingredients, while maintaining the great taste and the fun, vibrant colors expected from Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins products.”    

In 2014, Dunkin’ Brands conducted a comprehensive menu review that resulted in a new product development process focused on reformulating many of its products to enhance menu quality by simplifying ingredient labels and lowering sodium and sugar content without sacrificing taste.

Additionally, the company continues to offer products that broaden the nutritional choices available to consumers through the Dunkin’ Donuts DDSMART® and Baskin-Robbins BRight Choices™ menus.
###
About Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.: http://www.dunkinbrands.com/

With more than 20,000 points of distribution in more than 60 countries worldwide, Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: DNKN) is one of the world's leading franchisors of quick service restaurants (QSR) serving hot and cold coffee and baked goods, as well as hard-serve ice cream. At the end of the fourth quarter 2016, Dunkin' Brands' 100 percent franchised business model included more than 12,200 Dunkin' Donuts restaurants and more than 7,800 Baskin-Robbins restaurants. Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc. is headquartered in Canton, Mass.

Friday, May 19, 2017

When Bad Politics Kill a Cartoon Character Frog



Cartoon Creator killed his Pepe the Frog, who was hijacked by the Alt-Right
Source: Huff Post/CNN

Pepe the Frog is dead. Cartoonist Matt Furie made it official by drawing Pepe in an open casket. The funeral parlor scene was part of a single-page strip he created for Fantagraphics’ “World’s Greatest Comics” to mark Free Comic Book Day on May 6.

WHAT HAPPENED? 
  Furie turned on his creation after the alt-right fringe began using the frog as a kind of mascot. But the little frog’s life took a creepy turn when he was repeatedly hijacked for hate messages, particularly during the 2016 presidential election. President Donald Trump even retweeted an image of himself as Pepe (after ALT-Right people changed Pepe into someone who hates Jews, African-Americans, gays, Muslims and non-christians. Despicable! - That says a LOT about Trump.

Things got so bad that Pepe was officially classified as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.


New York, NY, September 27, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today identified “Pepe the Frog,” a cartoon character used by haters on social media to suggest racist, anti-Semitic or other bigoted notions, as a hate symbol. Images of the frog, variously portrayed with a Hitler-like moustache, wearing a yarmulke or a Klan hood, have proliferated in recent weeks in hateful messages aimed at Jewish and other users on Twitter.
“Once again, racists and haters have taken a popular Internet meme and twisted it for their own purposes of spreading bigotry and harassing users,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “These anti-Semites have no shame. They are abusing the image of a cartoon character, one that might at first seem appealing, to harass and spread hatred on social media.”




Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

Great Books by our friends

Great Books by our friends
Check out these great books (yeah, Rob's are in there, too)

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next

Podcast of Rob's 50 min. interview on Paranormal Filler Radio 7/13/14