A Real Scam

We have all heard of scams via email and have maybe even sent some of those emails. Some of the ” scams” are not really scams, just a misguided albeit well-meaning attempt to tell us they are. Others are somewhat legitimate but based on many of those that have heard about are several years old.

I now can say with confidence that the information I will share is relative to  a current  scam and is legitimate. Over a period of two days we received three unsolicited text messages purportedly from Gateway Bank.( One really annoyed me since it woke me up!) These messages informed us that our Gateway Bank debit card had been deactivated and even provided the first 4 digits of the card and a number for us to call. The problem with all that is that we do not have such a card nor have we ever.

After the third I began to get a bit miffed but still had no clue-duh- what was happening. I went online  to the Gateway website and lo, and behold  learned there were nefarious things occurring. The warning admonished those receiving the texts to not return the calls nor to give out the account number. Hopefully there were few if any victims. I am still rather curious about why we got the texts unless kind of mass text message. I trust that the Gateway fraud folks will find out what happened.

All of this is yet another wonderful example of  the seamy side of technology and how it can be used for  good or bad. Good lesson for all. Never give one’s  card number or pin to an unsolicited caller. Ever!!!


June 9, 2011 Posted by | Business | , , | Leave a comment

Spinning a Yarn-Textile Style


My Dad explaining his job as a warper tender-from 1940s or 50s

The majority of my working life was spent  in the textile industry, although not actually in the plant. However, during  a span of several years. I worked next to 2 of our plants and visited the plants from time to time.

As is the case with almost all the textile industry in the United States, my company ( Fieldcrest Mills to Fieldcrest Cannon to Pillowtex)  is no more, having bit the dust in 2003 via the bankruptcy courts. The plants were scattered all over the southeastern U. S. but primarily in North Carolina, are no more.

This is still a bit poignant for me since  several my family members were employed at the company at one time or another, including my parents who were production workers in the Fieldcrest Mills Blanket Mill for  many years.

What is quite interesting to me is  that  the company is gone but the brand names live on, having ben purchased by various entities. One in particular  that comes readily to mind is Royal Velvet. I suppose that it would be correct to say that it was the flagship brand of the Bed and Bath Division. The towels sold under the Royal Velvet name were made in  aslant located in the small Virginia town of Fieldale. To say that this was a quality product would be a bit of an understatement. We are still using Royal Velvet products that were  purchased a number of years ago. The irony to me is that to get a towel equal in quality today, one would be required to spend a significant amount of money. The same holds true for bedding products( sheets, comforters, etc) .

Now, about all the former textile giants have in common is bankruptcy and imploded plants. But, as do many others, I remember some of those days when cotton went from the Card Room  to the Spinning Room to Yarn Preparation ( where my parents worked)  and finally to the Weave Room where a recognizable product surfaced.

It is in truth an industry that is gone but that will always be with us.

March 7, 2011 Posted by | Business, Family, History | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Am I insane?

I have heard it said that a sign of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting  a different result. Based solely on that criteria I may be crazier than I  sometimes seem to be. I shall attempt to illustrate my situation by virtue of three examples, two of which can be grouped together.

          Exhibit A

From time to time while delivering mail, I will stop at a fast food establishment for some refreshment. Today was one of those days. My mistake, alas,  was in the place I chose. Hardee’s  and  I have not had a very good relationship in recent years primarily due to the excruciatingly service that seems to be their trademark . And so it was today. Here I am,the only customer  in the building and I waited almost 5 minutes, finally departing with no beverage. Having had these experiences several times, it begs the question, why do I continue to subject myself to this?  See title.

Exhibits B & C

Our next two examples fall into the same category. In our little town of Elizabeth City one is frequently encouraged, nay admonished to shop at home. The  multiple benfits to the local economy are extolled, etc. However, although I agree with this sentiment to  a point, I have had two instances  withinh the last severral days that  are changing my opinion, On the verge of runbning out of  ink on our computer printer, we went to  our local Office Max only to discover that they had every kind of Dell ink cartridge imaginable save the one we needed. Wal-Mart, same result, Ordered it from Dell, got it in 2 days. The secpnd example concerned my faothful companion, The World Almanac and Book of Facts, which I have bought the last few years. Lo, and behold, no one locally seems to have it, Yet another, aarrgh!!!

So, do my behaviors indicate a  problem severe enough to require me to never shop again? Or, do I resort exclusively to the online world( except for food)? Yet another unfathomable dilemma.

January 29, 2011 Posted by | Business, Culture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ultimate Nosy Neighbor?

 Once again, I read about Google in a way that leaves me somewhat disturbed. This time, the words come right from the source, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and they have an ominous ring to them. What makes them so for me is not just their content but the matter of fact way in which they are expressed.

Mr Schmidt  recently did an interview with the Wall Street Journal in which he spoke a lot about money and how the company intends to continue making large sums of said commodity. But there were several other points he made that  could easily be described as Orwellian. In fact, one of the online comments  said it quite well. Not only is Big Brother watching you  but is taking notes as well. How so? Let us examine some of Mr Schmidt’s statements.

Before that, I have an issue that often comes to mind when I think of Google. Why are there not more concerns about their monopolistic position or their domination of their field or fields? They have YouTube, their dominant search engine, Blogger( twice as large as my friends at WordPress)  not to mention  Google Earth and  so on. Sure they have some competition but they are a big gorilla in the industry. If memory serves correct, when Microsoft was quite dominant there were lawsuits filed  screaming antitrust. One of the leading voices was Eric Schmidt as  chief technology officer of Sun Microsystems. Microsoft has also had to deal with those issues in Europe as well. Here, it seems that Europe may be ahead of the game as Spain is now raising issues  with Google.

Mr Schmidt acknowledges the issue  by admitting there  are people  “who are intrinsic oppositionists to everything Google does.” Insert Microsoft here. How does his company intend to combat such charges? Easy, by  making sure that everything  they do is ” good for consumers” and ” fair” for competitors. Doesn’t that sound great ? Certainly, but then woud Google not be the arbiter of the goodness and fairness? But I have digressed fair afield.

My original premise was my concerns about their future. Try these on for size. Mr Schmidt envisions a day when search engines will be passe and what does he say about that? Among other things he envisions a time when Google will not be answering your search questions but rather telling  you what you should be doing next. That, folks, is  something to think about. He continues by saying that because of the info they have about you ” we know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are.”  He adds that there are next generation handheld devices that will be capable  of surprising you with information that you didn’t even know you wanted. Wow, is that not a lot to consider?

Just remember that the Google motto is ” Don’t be evil.”  Guess we will have to continue these lovable folks for they are surely watching us.

August 18, 2010 Posted by | Business, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Should you boycott BP ?

There has  certainly been  a lot of talk about that very thing. And there are probably  people doing that. After all, their stock has dropped some 16% in recent weeks. Boycotting a company that has allowed such a disaster to occur and that seems unable to fix it or fix it quickly enough has a certain populist appeal. Boycotts have happened before as a way to force a company to do something or other.

But what does a boycott of  BP accomplish? Well, hurts their bottom line , costs them money and maybe in the minds of some boycotters “gets them back” for what they have done not done  the case may be. And I can certainly empathize with those folks in the Gulf  Coast area, in Louisiana, Mississippi who want nothing to do with the company.

Projecting the boycott’s results out there, one could envision a significant loss of revenue for the company. What are  they doing with  a lot of that revenue right now? Of course, the ongoing clean up with lawsuits etc sure to follow. Locally, an article in the Daily Advance indicated that buying habits here have been largely unaffected. Admittedly, the sample is small and unscientific. On the other hand, the threat of new penalties  by the Obama Administration could be the real engine driving down the stock price.

So, sadly the spill and its effects continue with even modest  clean up  results  doing little to alleviate concerns about the long-term impact on the Gulf and beyond. A very tough situation indeed.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Business, economy | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Influential Women

I just saw a  fascinating  list at Forbes of  who they consider to be the 100 most powerful women in the world. I am a big fan of lists and Forbes regularly has some of the best in a number of areas.There was a lot  of   interesting information on the list; from who was included, where some familiar names were ranked and the diversity of occupations and countries( 31 different ones) that appeared.

Sad to say, I was unfamiliar with a number of the names so I won’t be able to speak to  a number of those that ranked very high. Number one was Chancelor Angela  Merkel of Germany, just one of  a surprising number- to me- that were heads of state. There were 10 that were either Chancellor, Prime Minister or President.

I obviously cannot speak to whether or not individuals should or should not have made the list. Some were easy choices that even I could have made, many were not. What observations I have would fall  into the are of opinion. So, if you like my opinions, great, if not, great. Very few are etched in stone.

The only member of the top 10 that I recognized was Ms Merkel who headed the list for the 4th year in  a  row.  There were 2 members, Michele Obama and Melinda Gates, whom I found interesting. It seems, seems now, that their influence is more of a  derived one, considering  who their spouses are, than the remainder of the list. Oprah Winfrey was not as highly ranked as I would have thought but was one of the few involved in media.

Three U S  Cabinet members appeared, Sebelius, Napolitano and Clinton along with Speaker Pelosi. Good choices, I thought. Both female Supreme Court justices appeared. I thought Justice Sotomayor’ s  appearance  might be  a bit premature though. Two IT companies, sort of, Yahoo with  Carol  Bartz and Oracle with Safra Catz , were represented.

One thing appeared more interesting than it probably should be . It seemed that  the financial services industry was the business type seen most often. Having said that, I was surprised that Sunoco’s  CEO  was Lynn Eisenhans  who made the list at #10.

The list makes for a very good read and one can  learn  quite  a bit, as I did, about the variety of leadership positions held by women. It is a list that undoubtedly will grow.

August 19, 2009 Posted by | Business, Media, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment