Archive | July, 2014

How to Tell When You Receive a Fake Collections Notice . . .

31 Jul

This morning my husband was taken in by a fake collections notice, in this case, supposedly from an EZ Pass company claiming he had driven on toll roads without paying the toll.

Since probably 1000 of our friends may have received the same notice today, let me quickly go through the steps I took to review this email before I deleted it (I never clicked on the enclosure, which could have been the source of hostile code, also known as a virus, which would then attempt to install itself on my computer or our network).

As my first clue, I am not positive, but I believe that collections notices do not come via email. I will check this with my friend who works collections, but I believe they have to use an actual physical address to go after someone. An email address may help track someone down, but I don’t believe you can legally send them threats to take action via email communications.

However, even if that were a legal way to contact me about a debt, the bottom line is that we did not incur that debt. How do I know?

1) The person sending the fake collections notice did not even bother to spoof his email address. It did not come from anything designed to look like an EZ Pass company. It came from a private email address. So look at the address of the sender first.

2) Remember that anyone can fake a company’s picture, very easily, just by going to Google Images and rightclicking a picture to copy it. So I dismissed the EZ Pass picture outright.

3) The email did not use Noel’s or my name, only his email address. We have an iPass transponder (from the state of Illinois) but it is registered to *my* email, not Noel’s. And, if they had a record of that, they would realize that it was probably a case of my transponder not working correctly, and not a case of stealing access to toll roads by going through the transponder lane without a transponder . . .

4) No one ever hauls an email address into court for a collections case. If the email can’t identify my husband or me by name, it can’t be claiming to be ready to sue us.

5) Our license plates are not tied to our email accounts either. Nowhere on this planet (and this is what I had to say to Noel to get him to understand). We may have given the DMV our emails in order to facilitate communications, but any company attempting to collect tolls from our Virginia license plates would need to utilize the Virginia DMV to do so. Again, the DMV would give them our names and addresses in that case. They would not be contacting us via email. I doubt the DMV would even give out our emails if it were subpoenaed to give collections information. What good would the emails do? Better to give out the actual address where we live.

6) The grammar of the email sent to Noel was shaky. Now I realize there are plenty of Americans who can’t write standard English. But an email that leaves out indefinite and definite articles may originate in Russia, where they don’t *use* indefinite and definite articles in the Russian language. I am 75% sure the email did not come from anywhere in the U.S.

So … I deleted that email. There are laws protecting us as citizens. We don’t need to be afraid when unscrupulous people seize on the latest trend of using transponders to pay tolls and try to claim money from us that we don’t owe.

P.S. We use our transponder just often enough that I review the statement every couple of months to ensure that we were charged for everything we used and *not* incorrectly charged for someone else’s activity!

The Loss of Pastoral Credibility in the Age of the Internet

29 Jul

Learning to intelligently engage with other views . . .

Alastair's Adversaria

Rockwell - Freedom of Speech

The Internet has introduced a new level of visibility to areas of our social life, exposing certain uncomfortable realities. Rod Dreher recently wrote a perceptive and troubling piece on the way that the Internet reveals corruption and abuse within the Church and other institutions, provoking a reaction of distrust and a loss of these institutions’ effective authority. While the dramatic collapses of trust in the institutional authority of the Church following the exposure and scrutiny of cases of abuse may receive the most attention, there are other ways—albeit slower and more gradual—in which this trust is being eroded. Perhaps the most significant of these in my experience has been our greater exposure to Church leaders and their thinking.

On Twitter earlier today, I remarked that the Internet exposes the fact that most people were never trained to function effectively in the context of an argument. As forms of discourse such…

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Four Birthdays and A Funeral

29 Jul

Fabulous tribute to her granny, who taught her to cook!

Texana's Kitchen

July 28th is a special day in my life….So many birthdays in my family.

My BFF Lance. My cousin Evan. My quasi-cousin Jennifer. And it was supposed to be the day my first born came into the world.  But he had his own ideas, and arrived two weeks early.

But most notably, today is my Granny’s birthday.

My Granny was a babe My Granny was a babe

My Granny—Neva Lee Knight Gough— would have been 87 years old today. But instead, she died ten years ago, and left a hole in my heart that will never heal.  All of my grandparents are gone now, and of course, I loved them all.

But my Granny and I had a special bond.

My Beautiful Granny My Beautiful Granny–at 14 (YES, 14!)

She used to hold my hands in hers—my hands were always very hot—and tell me that I had healer’s hands, that my hands were hot because I had…

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Michael Horton on infant baptism

28 Jul

Even though I do not believe in infant baptism, I have grown to respect my brothers and sisters in Christ who do. Not as a means of salvation, but as a sign of a covenant initiated by God. This post explains their case.

Theologia est doctrina Deo vivendi per Christum - Theology is the doctrine of living unto God through Christ


“Let me summarize what I regard as the most compelling arguments for infant baptism:

  1. God has brought us into a covenant of grace, and although not all members of this covenant will persevere (i.e., they are not elect and have not been regenerated), they enjoy special privileges of belonging to the covenant people. This was true of Israel, and the New Testament simply applies this to the New Testament church as well (Deut. 4:20; 28:9; Isa.10:22; Hosea 2:23; Rom. 9:24-28; Gal. 6:16; Heb. 4:1-11; 6:4-12; 1 Peter 2:9-10).
  2. Even though bringing someone under the protection of God’s covenantal faithfulness does not guarantee that that person possesses true, persevering faith (Heb. 4:1-11), that does not mean it is unimportant as to whether children of believers are given the seal of the covenant.
  3. Children were included in the covenant of grace in the Old Testament through the sacrament of circumcision, and in the new…

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C.S. Lewis on Chronological Snobbery

26 Jul

C.S. Lewis coined the term “chronological snobbery.”

When Something from your Past Reaches out to Choke you Now . . .

26 Jul

Very wise counsel here!

Great Plays: Death of a Salesman vs. The Glass Menagerie

23 Jul

I read quite a few great plays back in high school, along with other works of literature that got made into plays/movies at some point in their journey.

In fact, I may have read more solemn literature in my high school years than I have in the years since then, as I was quite a serious student who had not yet developed a sense of humor. No balance.

The serious 20th century playwrights definitely got my attention: Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Eugene O’Neill, for three examples. Although, in all fairness, I didn’t see O’Neill’s Moon for the Misbegotten until college and I later read his A Long Day’s Journey into Night while serving with the Navy in Jacksonville, Florida.

While I used part of Miller’s The Crucible for my recitation in a high school forensics competition, my favorite play of his was Death of a Salesman. And I just now had the incredible treat of finding Death of a Salesman on Netflix with Dustin Hoffman playing the title role of Willy Loman.

Amazingly, Hoffman was made up as an old man while playing opposite John Malkovich as Willy’s son Biff. Magical.

Hoffman affected a crooked spine and the laborious walk of an old man so well that it took me a full ten minutes to convince myself that was really him. Of course, he carried off Rainman the same way, studying the moves and gestures of people with autism until he could convince us he was legitimately a part of that world!

Any movie that goes over two hours can’t be all sober moments, however (or the audience would become suicidal!!! LOL!), so the flashbacks to happier days between Willy Loman, his wife, and his two sons work very well to lighten up the atmosphere and to fill in parts of the Loman family history that might baffle us.

The classic lines about the worth of a man play with resounding power in this version of the play/movie. The scene where Willy Loman loses his job after 38 years, without retirement or severance pay, is heartbreaking, especially when Willy reminds his boss, the son of his original boss, that one can’t just totally consume a fruit, then toss the peel aside afterwards.


On the other hand, I recently saw a Netflix version of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie with Katharine Hepburn as Amanda Wingfield. That, too, was an extraordinary work.

The play was not nearly as sad as I remembered it, particularly as my aging process has given me a more philosophical outlook about the very fact that Amanda’s daughter Laura opens up to love for the first time with her “gentleman caller,” foreshadowing the idea that she will be able to love again (and maybe again after that!).

Amanda’s son Tom does remain nigh on hopeless, but then again he was a autobiographical twin of Tennessee Williams!

What a treat to see great plays done with great actors and actresses.

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