Thankful For a Mild Snowstorm but Aggravated at Doctor Office

The weatherman was predicting a huge snowstorm to come bearing down on our house last night. The snow started in the afternoon, but it seemed to be a lighter storm than predicted. The weatherman was predicting 8 – 12 inches. After all was said and done, we only got three inches. I am grateful for the smaller amount. To be honest, I was worried that we would lose our electricity, and even though we can survive a few days without it, we have been spoiled by our easy access to electronic entertainment!

Thinking we would lose our electricity while sleeping, we cranked the heat up, so the house would stay warmer longer, and we put several large buckets in the bathtubs and filled them with water for flushing needs. Better to be prepared and not need it than the other way around!

This morning I was scheduled to have a medical appointment for injections to treat my migraines in DC at 11am. It takes about two hours to get there from where I live. Seeing that almost every business and government and school in DC (and surrounding areas) was cancelled, Metro being shut down, and a state of emergency declared, it would be reasonable to assume that the doctor’s office would not be open. In order to get to my appointment, I need to leave by 9am – if the roads are good. About 8:30 I started trying to contact the doctor’s office to find out if they are open and seeing patients. At first I got the automated message telling me to leave a message and they would call me back in 48 hours. That was not going to do the trick, so I called back and hit a different option. Same thing. Third call, I finally got a live person who assured me that they were, in fact, open. I indicated that I would like to reschedule my appointment for later in the day if that was possible, asking if they had any cancellations I could take. The lady got rather nasty with me and told me that if my appointment was for 11, then I had better by there by 11! She then told me to hold on while she checked for cancellations. After being on “hold” for about five minutes, I was disconnected. So I called back again, explained again what I needed, and put on hold again for about five minutes. Then someone else came on the line and told me that the doctor had called in and said that she was not coming in to work today because of the weather and bad roads, that they would call me in 48 hours to reschedule my appointment for another day.

On the one hand, I was grateful that I did not have to make the trip – the roads are probably slippery and with a ban on street parking in DC because of the snow, it would probably have been a real nightmare going in! However, I did not appreciate the less than stellar customer service I was given by the folks at the doctor’s office when I was trying to figure out if I had to hit the road to go in and brave the bad roads, only to find out after about thirty minutes of aggravation that the doctor had called in to say that all appointments needed to be rescheduled!

More scam phone calls

voice mail (free clip art)
voice mail (free clip art)

Today I was listening to voice mails left on our home phone number and heard a phone message from a man with a thick accent claiming to be “Officer Charlie” from the IRS telling me that he was issuing an arrest warrant on me for tax fraud. He left the phone number of 571-526-0007 for me to call back immediately if I want to avoid arrest.

I’m not sure how many days ago he called. I know this is another phone scam, not unlike the one I wrote about in an earlier post about a guy claiming to be from Microsoft, wanting access to my computers. (By the way

I have read lots of notices on news websites about this popular scam lately, a caller pretending to be from the IRS and demanding immediate payment of large sums of money or be arrested. I’m glad that I didn’t answer the telephone when he called – it might have gotten unpleasant with me telling him that I know he is a scammer, and then listen to him cussing me out!

In some ways I am amused that people think that we are innocent and gullible enough to fall for these scams. In other ways I am saddened by the knowledge that there probably ARE trusting souls out there that will, and do, fall for these evil tricks.

To The Neighbor Who Abandoned Your Pet Cat

This is an open letter to the person who apparently abandoned your pet cat near my road.

Dear neighbor,

Yesterday, my husband spotted your abandoned cat lying very still in the middle of the road while he was driving home from town. He thought the cat was dead, and was going to try to manuever the truck so that he would not strike the body with any of the tires. Just as he got to the “critical point” in the decision of which way to steer, he saw the cat move!. He stopped the truck as quickly as he could. The cat ran under the truck, so my husband got on his hands and knees (not an easy thing for him to do since his accident several years ago) and tried to coax the cat out from under the truck.

The cat quickly came to my husband. He decided to pick up the cat to check for any obvious sign of broken bones or bleeding. The cat did not object to being picked up, and started to purr and rub its head on my husband’s arms and hands while my husband checked the cat over. He saw no sign of injury, but immediately realized that the cat was near starvation. This cat is skin and bones. Being a soft-hearted guy, my husband decided to put the cat in his truck and bring it home to discuss with me what to do for this cat.

Well, when he came home and told me what happened, it only took a few moments before we had a crate set up in the dining room with a beach towel folded over for padding, a make-shift cardboard box lined with plastic bags and filled with kitty litter, and a bowl with a small amount of moist cat food and water ready to accommodate a temporary guest cat. My husband then brought the cat in, and declared that he was going to call this cat “Lucky” because he is certain that the cat would have died on that road within a few minutes of the moment of discovery and rescue.

We don’t know yet what gender this cat is, but I would guess by the length of the body and the shape of the head that this is an adult male. He probably only weighs about two pounds at the most, because the cat really is so emaciated that I am amazed that the cat is even alive.

Lucky cat
Lucky cat

We gently put this cat in the crate and showed him where the food was. That cat quickly ate the moist cat food, and drank some water. We then put in a bowl of dry cat food, and the cat ate a pretty good amount of that, too. He looked around after a few minutes and meowed a couple of times. When we opened the crate door to give him more food and water the cat quickly came to the door, purring, and rubbing its head on our hands and arms, showing us its appreciation. The cat has used the litter box, and has been friendly towards our cats and dogs. We gave the cat a small box, tipped on it’s side, lined at the bottom with a folded towel for a bed, for the cat to nest in and sleep. The cat really seems to like the box, and lies in it with its head positioned so it can see out, looking at the bowls of food and water.

I really expected the cat to die overnight, as it was so emaciated and weak when it arrived. But, much to my surprise, the cat survived the night! So we have given it a little bit more moist food, and left the bowl of dry food in the crate for the cat to nibble on as it feels the need.

We have let it out of the crate a couple of times to walk around the kitchen, and it appears as if both of its back legs have been broken at some point in time. The cat limps badly, but does not appear to be in pain when he handle the legs, so we don’t think that the breaks are fresh.

We plan to keep this cat away from our household pets until we can get him to the vet (hopefully tomorrow) for a check-up and shots. I am concerned that it might be sick. We will ask the vet to determine if the cat has been neutered, and if not, we will neuter it. If it needs to be wormed (probably does) we will take care of that, too.

Because of this cat’s demeanor, we have concluded that this is an abandoned pet. The cat appears to be a mostly black, with some dark brown markings on it. There seem to be several scars on its body.

We don’t know yet if this cat will end up being a house-pet, or if it will choose to live outside after it gets its strength back. I just know that we are deeply saddened that anyone in this town would abandon their pet and leave it to fend for itself. I know a lot of people think “cats are hunters, and they will catch mice and survive just fine.” I’m writing this today, to try to tell people that is not always true. Sometimes they starve to death, or are killed by predators, or run over vehicles. This cat is Lucky that my husband is the one that “almost ran over it” and this cat got rescued. We shudder to think what would have happened if someone else had come along and simply run over the pitiful thing.

The Lights Were On But Nobody Was There

WalMart checkout lanes
WalMart checkout lanes

One Saturday, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I needed to go grocery shopping. I managed to get someone to drive me to the local Wal-Mart to pick up what I needed. When it was time to go through the check-out lines, I noticed that the lights were on at every register, which is supposed to mean that the customer can use any register to check-out. So I found a lane where there were no customers waiting in line, and unloaded my very full cart onto the conveyor belt. I noticed that there was no cashier standing at the register, but that has happened before, and within a few moments of my arriving at the counter someone has always magically appeared. My assumptions were that the cashier had simply been speaking with another employee nearby.

After unloading my cart, I saw the cashier had not yet arrived, so I started to look around to see where the cashier could be. At that time I noticed that there were a LOT of cash registers with their lights on, with no employee standing nearby! That started to make me wonder what was going on. After waiting about five minutes, I decided to turn on the switch that is on the post beside the cash register that makes the lights flash, to get the attention of management that someone at that register needs help.

After about another five minutes, the front-end supervisor responded to the flashing light, and demanded of me “where is the cashier?” I responded “That’s what I’d like to know – I have been waiting for ten minutes and no one has shown up. The light is on, showing the register is open, but there is nobody here at the register, and I would like to check-out!”

A nearby cashier heard me talking to the front-end supervisor, and she called out “I can take you here at my register!”

I replied “no thank you, I have already unloaded my cart and am not interested in loading it back up again and then unloading it at another register! This register is supposed to be open, and I came here in good faith to check-out. I want to be checked-out here!”

The front-end supervisor frowned for a moment, and then explained “we have all of the lights on to fool corporate headquarters into thinking all the registers are open, but we are short-handed so there are a lot of registers that are unmanned right now.”

I replied “that’s a shame, and I feel badly for you, but if that is the case you should have a sign here on the conveyor belt indicating that the register is closed and to please choose another lane. I want to be checked out here.”

The front-end supervisor nodded her head, and then said she would ring up my order. She did a fine job, up until it was time to give me my change. I had paid cash, and she gave me less change than what I was supposed to get. Fortunately for me I caught that error and called it to her attention before she closed her cash drawer, so she corrected it. Interestingly enough, that was the fourth time that week that I had gone into a local business and paid cash for my purchase and was short-changed by the cashier.

I found myself wondering if the cashiers were trying to take advantage of the customers that pay cash, and short-changing them on purpose, thinking that during this busy holiday season the customers would not bother to count their change. One of the instances was at a restaurant, where a tip was appropriate. The service was bad, but I normally tip anyway. I normally tip 20%, but because I was short-changed, (by several dollars, not just loose change) the waitress got a much smaller tip (15%) than I was planning to give her! I figured that the money she had short-changed me more than made up the difference.

Are guns an evil necessity?

When I was very young (and by very young I mean under the age of 7 years) my grandfather decided that it would be a good idea to have me use his rifle to try to shoot some glass bottles off of a log. He did not put any kind of ear protection on my head, and did not warn me that there would be any recoil. I probably weighed all of forty pounds, had never been around guns before, and this was a very new experience for me. I remember lying down on my stomach and propping the gun on a log, and aiming the gun. The noise was very loud, and the recoil was very painful. I was scared and hurt. I cried. That was the end of my wanting anything to do with guns.

Rifle (free clip art)
Rifle (free clip art)

Ever since then I have respected the right of individuals to own and enjoy guns, but I have avoided them. There have been so many terrible stories in the news all of my life about the horrible things that have been done with guns. I am a peace-loving person that would prefer to reason with people than to fight with them. As a middle child, I’ve always been a peace-maker, a negotiator, a diplomat. I’m a lover, not a fighter!

I have not wanted to look at, touch, or hear guns. When I was single, and dating guys, if they expressed any interest in guns, I broke up with them! That was a deal-breaker! I did not even want any guns in my house, out of fear of someone getting hurt.

But recent events with a neighbor who has threatened the safety of my family has forced me to reconsider my position. I reluctantly agreed to learn to handle a gun. Just in case I really needed to use one in self-defense. But I did so with great trepidation. What if the recoil hurt my hands, which already hurt so much from that traffic accident that I was in a few years ago? And so my gun-loving friends and relatives have come out in droves to encourage me to learn to shoot.

Browning Buckmark 22 handgun (free clip art)
Browning Buckmark 22 handgun (free clip art)

This week I agreed to “try” one of my stepfather’s guns while I was visiting with my parents at their house. I think that my agreeing to try it shocked us all – I have been very reluctant to have anything to do with guns up until this point. But I decided to “suck it up” and give it a try. I won’t lie about it – I was nervous. Very nervous. I almost wanted to cry when he put the gun in my hand! He gave me a Browning Buckmark 22 pistol to use. He gave me some ear protectors that looked like overgrown ear-muffs, and I put them on. I was surprised that I could still hear his voice a bit after I put them on!

I listened to his instructions, then took a deep breath to calm my nerves and turned towards the target. The target was twenty-five feet away, stapled to a wooden pallet and was actually at a bit of an angle away from me – I could not see it “straight on” so the circles were actually a bit smaller than if I had been able to see it “straight on.” I held the pistol with both hands, propped my elbow against a pole he had implanted in the ground, closed one eye, and aimed at the target. I was very aware of my breathing, and focused on keeping my breathing calm and steady. When I couldn’t “put it off” any longer, I tried to keep my hands steady (which is hard to do when you suffer from “essential tremors”) and very cautiously, slowly, squeezed the trigger. The recoil was a lot less than I expected, (the gun went upwards instead of back into the palm of my hand) and I actually hit the target! Unbelievable! I’ve always been terrible at sports when I had to aim at something – basketball, archery, bowling…. You name it, if I had to “aim” at something, I was horrible! But this shot actually was within the circles of the target! Amazing!

First time with 22 pistol 8-27-14
First time with 22 pistol 8-27-14

I put the gun down and went to inspect the hole for myself – yes, it really was there! I laughed and said “I can’t believe I actually hit the target! Must be beginner’s luck!” Then I proceeded to shoot again. I hit the target again! And again! I experimented with which eye to close, whether to have my left foot or right foot forward. Most of my shots hit within the circles – and quite a few hit within the bulls-eye rings! My step-father encouraged me to shoot 100 rounds, so I kept going. The most difficult part was loading the ammo into the clip – holding the spring-loaded clip open with my thumbs was painful, so I had to figure out a way to load the clips without using my thumbs to hold the clip open. It was awkward, and slow, but I managed.

By the end of the 100 rounds, I was firing the rounds off quickly, and my aim became more reckless, but I was experimenting to see how well I could shoot if I had to shoot several rounds off quickly. For the most part I still hit within the circles, so I was satisfied that this was something I might actually be able to do.

When we finished for the day he said “I think I’ve created a Monster” and I laughed, replying “Now people are going to start calling me Annie Oakley!” I took some pictures of the target, and texted my hubby with the picture. His reply was “Well well, Annie….” And so it begins…..

Today he took me to the range close to where I live, and I managed to get off 90 rounds. I used the same pistol as before. This time the target was only twenty feet away. I think I did better, but I don’t know if that’s because I am getting better, or if it is because the target was closer.

8-29-14 Opal VA 20 ft distance
8-29-14 Opal VA 20 ft distance

Now my hubby, step-father, and mother are all encouraging me to go out and buy a hand gun of my own. I went to Gander Mountain yesterday with my step-father while we were running errands to try to buy some ammo for his guns, and while we were there we consulted with the guys in the firearms department about their recommendation. I have small hands, and some physical concerns.

Bersa Thunder 380 (picture from Wikipedia)
Bersa Thunder 380 (picture from Wikipedia)

They recommended a Bersa Thunder 380. I was shocked to see how expensive guns are! They let me hold one in my hand, and I agreed that it felt “right” in my hand. As if a gun will ever feel “right” in my hand. But it had a good light weight to it, and felt well-balanced. They told me that if I wanted a gun for protection that a 22 caliber was not a good idea. (They said that if a guy was attacking me that the 22 caliber would just “piss him off” but that the 380 caliber would stop him. Since I don’t want to “piss off” an attacker, I guess that a 380 would be a better choice.) The told me that this Bersa Thunder 380 gun has very little recoil, and is very accurate. They explained that this type of gun had a different recoil that would be going back into my body more than upwards, and that should decrease the possibility of hurting my hands. (I’m not sure which type of recoil is actually “better” for me at this point!)

I was concerned about the barrel length because the Bersa barrel is shorter than the barrel of the 22 I was using, and I thought that a shorter barrel would be less accurate. My hubby tells me that the velocity of a 380 will make up for the shorter barrel. I don’t know that much about the logistics of guns, so I’ll have to trust him on that one! I like that the Bersa has an optional laser feature that could be used to increase accuracy. I like that idea a lot! If I’m trying to defend myself, that would be a big benefit!

I’ve been watching some YouTube video reviews about the Bersa Thunder 380, and I haven’t come across any negative information about the gun yet.

I don’t know if I will end up getting one or not. I’d like to try it out before I buy it, and I don’t know if there is anywhere around here that will let me test fire one before committing to the purchase.

Are guns an evil necessity? I hate to think that they are, but maybe they are. That makes me sad.

I’ll have to give this some serious consideration. My money doesn’t grow on trees, and I still am ambivalent about being a gun-owner. But I AM concerned about protecting myself against my crazy neighbor. I’ve already tried to get the police to help, and there really isn’t much they can do until he actually attacks/kills one of us….. what to do, what to do…