Saturday, February 19, 2005

Phishing Scam: I'm SOOOOOO Over It

In my last message, I mentioned that I was recently the victim of an online banking scam. It was a series of unfortunate coincidences and I was the one who got burned. But now that a few days have gone by, I can talk about it and see the lessons. Not all have to do with money and internet common sense.

I forgot the password to my online banking account so I requested a new password. The bank automatically sent me a new one via email. The next time I checked my email, there was another note from the bank saying due to your recent activity we need you to verify your info. The link took me to my bank’s website and asked for account info. It looked exactly like the bank’s website and the links took you to all the bank departments.

After hitting “submit” I thought to myself, Why did they need all that? But I was busy and just trying to get work done so I didn’t think too much about it. Two days later I received another email from my bank asking me to go to a link to confirm the same info I sent the other day. Not sure why, I called the bank only to be told that they never send emails like that and most likely it was a scam.


“Then what about the one I answered the other day?” I asked the customer service agent.
“Oh, just ignore those ma’am and delete them”, she replied.
“Wait, I don’t think you heard me. I filled one of those out!”
“Well, if you ever get one again, just delete it”.

I felt like she was trying to get me off the phone and wasn’t listening. I was starting to feel REALLY frustrated.

I continued to ask for help and finally she got the clue that I needed more than a scripted response. (I am so sick of these non-thinking replies and will have to write a long diatribe on that at another point in time)

We both pulled up my account info on the screen and I gasped. There were a series of transactions I didn’t make that not only drained my account, but left me with a $150 negative balance.

I freaked.

“My money! It’s gone! You gotta help me. I need my money back!”

The customer service person assured me that all would be well, that my money will be recovered, that I needn’t worry. (Oh yeah, well you act calm when you’ve just been cyber-mugged, I wanted to tell her). She instructed me to go to the nearest branch to take care of it and all would be resolved.

That’s not what I had planned for the day. Wednesdays are reserved for me to take my daughter to a playdate and I don’t have anyone to help me those days. Reluctantly, I carted little 2 year old off with me to the bank where I prayed that she’d be able to sit nicely while I had to fill out paper after paper and deal with this situation.

My little one did great, and the process didn’t take as long as I thought it would. I was able to vent to the Mom group later on about what happened and some people shared similar experiences they’d had. I even told my coaching circle about it that night and everyone was very supportive.

The next day, during my morning meditation time, a message flashed to me.
“Pray for the persons that did this. Pray for their healing. Whatever leads a person to make a living from illegal activity has a dysfunctional root somewhere. Pray for their healing.”

I suddenly felt release. I didn’t need to feel angry anymore, I didn’t need to stew. My money was being recovered, that was already in progress. My attitude was healing and I was learning from this experience.

I can’t even start to share the sense of peace I have now. I told my sister about it and she reminded me that you always need to pray for your enemies.

So yes, we need to be careful and not give out our personal info. Call the bank’s real phone number and go in person if you have to.

But if something does happen to you, holding onto the anger only hurts you. While I was angry I made lots of mistakes (like the teleforum post that follows this one will tell you). I lost attention to details and was distracted. The anger was eating at me. When I released it, everything neutralized. The criminal’s behavior no longer had power over me.

I came out a winner in this situation. My money is recovered, my serenity renewed and my common sense heightened. .

Friday, February 18, 2005

Teleforum Lemonade

Last night I interviewed Michele Pariza Wacek on a teleforum. Michele is amazing: funny, creative, totally great at what she does.

Then there's me: great at what I do, too. Coaching. Workshops. Inspiring.

Notice "flawlessly executing a teleforum" is not on the list.

OK, let's start at the start as I pour on the excuses.

On Wednesday I discovered that I was the victim of identify theft. Although everything is being resolved and I'm not out any money, it was a very stressful event. I thought I had it under control but the remnants of it left me scattered. I was missing details and rightfully a bit distracted.

On the day of the teleforum I was checking the bridgeline reservation and noticed that the PIN code I registered it under was different than the PIN code I sent out. So w/ you have to cancel the original conference and create a new one. I've done that before so no biggy, or so I thought. When I tried to recreate the conference it told me that the bridgeline was totally booked and I'd need to have an alternative number. So I had to send a last minute email and call everyone who signed up to tell them this.

OK, so we're on the call. I have my 2nd phone line set up in the kitchen recording the call. This has worked beautifully in the past. I mute the line, then we start recording. On the master controls for the bridgeline I thought I was putting everyone on mute but I actually LOCKED the conference. Long story short: Noise locked in, participants locked out.

About halfway through the call I pressed *5 , thinking I'm unmuting everyone and it says "conference call unlocked". Oops, I realize I locked callers out! But we went on and finished the teleforum which was extremely informative and well done.

After the call was over I had a phone message waiting for me from a participant who got locked out. She was not happy. So I called her back, apologized, offered to send her a CD and arranged a consult w/ her and Michele.

Then I listened to the recording while I was burning the CDs and I could hear kid noise, papers crumpling, Dora the Explorer, all kinds of stuff. I didn't even hear all that while I was doing the call, that's the odd part. BUT the conversation between Michele and I and the questions she answered for the participants (aka the Lucky Few) were incredible.

So here is the lemonade part. This is a recording with great content and extremely useful information. Michele talks extensively about pinpointing your target market and offered unique and easy ways to gather info. I can record an intro that humorously acknowledges the bit of background noise. Pretend we recorded it in a bustling, hip cafe, that's my idea.

The Comadre philosophy is to go with the flow. Make the best of each situation and don't live a life of regrets. I goofed, I admit, but hey let's get on with our lives! Kid noise and marketing happen in my house simultaneously, why not share that with the world?

We all have little distractions here and there that can keep us from moving and growing. I'm going to put perfectionism on the back steps for now and just share this audio with others, noise and all.

Wanna hear it? This link will take you to a streaming audio of the conversation.

Just to let you know, we'll be redoing the call on March 3 at 6pm Pacific. To sign up go here.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Localicious: Lechera

Have you ever wandered the grocery aisles on a weeknight, after the usual grocery store rush hour, maybe just a tad too long since your last meal, and you see something that you usually wouldn't buy but it just looks too good to pass up?

That happens to me when I go to the local Stater Brothers market, usually after a long day and not enough sleep. In my shopping daze, I spy something strangely alluring and an invisible force puts it in my cart. More likely than not it is something sweet, salty, fatty or otherwise unhealthy.

This week it was Lechera.

Lechera, for those of you who may not know, is the Mexican brand of sweetened condensed milk. Ingredients: milk, sugar. That's it folks, just good old sugar and milk, boiled down for a million years into this marvelously thick goo that is a cross between eating frosting, melted ice cream and a strange milk shake.

I wouldn't have noticed it had it not been for a recent taste of El Camino Real's fruit salad which comes with the mandatory 2 oz styrofoam cup of lechera.

When I saw it sitting so alone beneath packages of chocoate chips and cookie sprinkles, all that came to mind was a banana dipped into lechera then rolled into chopped walnuts. Ah, how easy and there were the walnuts just a few feet away. Bananas were already in the cart and away we went.

Once home, I opened the can and without much ceremony, proceeded to dip each and every bite of a banana first into the lechera, then into a bowl of chopped walnuts. Let me tell you, it was heaven for that moment. Not that it was the be-all end-all of desserts, but it was the manifestation of a craving. The satisfaction of saying "yes, I got what I wanted!".

Upon finishing, I took the remainder and put it in a little Tupperware, but alas the Lechera had suddenly expanded! The can looked so small, but for some reason when you open it it expands. So I had to fill 2 little tupperwares (practically identical size to the can, so 'splain me that you science people)and now that my craving is over, I have 2 containers of sweetened condensed glop in my fridge.

(Recipes for what to do w/ the rest will be gladly accepted!)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Tribe Day

Last Friday, a group of women and kids descended upon the Shea-Zaragoza home for a tribe day.

"A tribe day,"you ask, "whatever could that be?"

In other circles it would be called a work party, a barn raising, a quilting bee... it's a community building event that not only fosters comraderie but gets an onerous task done. The amazing playgroup/babysitting co-op/support system/ info source/ work tribe that I'm in is where it all happens.

First, let me catch you up to speed on the amazing playgroup, etc thing. About 2 years ago a couple of moms from a local La Leche League group wanted to do more things together, activities that would promote helping each other while we raised our kids in a loving environment. Their first get togethers had the kids play while everyone brought an ingredient for a huge meal. Then at the end of the playdate, your kids were tired (read: nap-ready) and you had a meal for the familia.

Then we got into full on playdates at parks and homes that revolved around a concept. We spent last summer on colors, then shapes and now we're on a quasi-international theme.

Along the way, we looked into forming a babysitting co-op and now have these cool little "dollars" that we trade for babysitting services.

8 of us are into forming an investment club that would meet our needs: we can bring the kids to our meetings, we only have to put in $20/month to make it accessible to everyone, and we only invest in companies that are socially responsible, make quality products and are things that we use and believe in.

OK, so now you're up to speed on the group, so let's go back to the Tribe Day at Casa Shea-Zaragoza.

Erin is 30 years old and fertile as all get out. She's got 3 kids under the age of 5 and I am always amazed at her ability to remain calm and mellow with everyone. She asked us if we'd come over and do grunt work around her house, stuff that anyone with 3 kids has trouble getting done: clean the mini-blinds, scrub the walls, clean in/behind/under the fridge, scrub floorboards, de-grunge the shower, etc. These are things that none of us would do in our own houses, but somehow it's much more gratifying to do at someone else's home!

We all brought food to share. Someone was always on kid duty, although we had a good eye on them. Soon the toddlers grabbed cleaning rags and were squirting water on walls and cleaning in their own special way (grin!), spilling food to give us even more to clean...

The beauty of Tribe Day was that with all of us working, it only took about 90 minutes to get everything done. We then spent the next 2 hours talking and hanging out while the kids played SO NICELY. We all just sat around drunk on this feeling of helping each other out, getting a lot done in little time and of course, visiting with one another.

I'm thinking of what I want done at my house when I ask for a Tribe Day. Clean out my garage? Organize the livingroom? Put up shelves? Or just let me take a nap and come home to a surprise. Any way it works for me.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

ACLU - Pizza

Ruth of Chispa Productions just sent this to our Chispa Coaching Circle.

click this link to see the Nightmare Pizza Order

It's a paranoid's worst surveillance nightmare!

Essay Contest: Freedom and Creativity

This is a message that was sent to me by comadre Nora Hoyos de Comstock. If you work with youth or are under the age of 25, are concerned with the link between civil liberties and the freedom of expression, then check it out. . For more info, contact the name at the end of the message. I'm not involved with this but I like the conversation it provokes.

The Institute for Humane Studies has just launched its first Freedom and Creativity Essay Contest with $5,000 in prizes, and I
wanted to be sure to let you and your students know. The contest is open to all full-time students of any nationality and age, as well as anyone 25 or

The essay topic asks students to consider how a society's level of personal freedom impacts individual's creative powers. Contest details, rules, and online submission forms can be found at

The March 1, 2005, deadline for submission is approaching quickly, so I appreciate your help in letting your students know about this opportunity.

Keri Anderson
Student Coordinator
Institute for Humane Studies
Institute for Humane Studies
3301 N Fairfax Drive - Suite
440 - Arlington, VA 22201