Recently my client who is 80, and whom I am helping to get a reverse mortgage, called me distressed. He was scammed for $900 after receiving a call that if he will not pay, his PG & E service is going to be disconnected. And he had to pay in cash. So he did. Only after that he realized that he was taken to the cleaners. Turns out that he was not the first or the last to get scammed. In the AARP Magazine,which caters to those who are 50+, there was an article in the April/May 2018 issue titled, “The Voices of Deception”. Doug Shadel wrote about how to outsmart fraud (find more information at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork). And then in the latest August/September 2019 issue, he wrote “Out-Tech the Scammers”. You can also call AARP’s Fraud Watch Network Helpline – 877-908-3360. In the same publication, Frank Abagnale, who years ago was a scammer himself and turned into a celebrated fraud expert, shared his advice. You may be familiar with his book “Catch Me If You Can” which was also a film that came out in 2002. His new book, “Scam Me If You Can” just came out on Amazon.com. Many scam artists are focusing on swindling elderly folks. But recently I realized that being gullible, i.e. easily persuaded to believe something, could happen at any age. On an online dictionary I read an example, “an attempt to persuade a gullible public to spend their money”.
But some took scamming to a completely different level, as they appear in front of us on television, in print and social media. Some of them run to be the President of the most powerful country in the world with fantastic promises. One of them was mentioned in Willie Brown’s Column in the SF Chronicle on Sunday, September 15, 2019, titled “Pledge of $1,000 a Month Pays Dividends for Yang”. He writes, “I keep running into regular people who ask how to contact Yang” (to give him money) for his winning campaign. Online, I learned that for Yang’s campaign, an average donation was $17.92 and 99% of donations were less than $200. In the second quarter, Yang raised $2.8 million. WOW! Just for empty promises. You can look up how much money other contenders received for their empty promises. Some information appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on October 2, 2019 – “Sanders raises $25 million; Buttigeg $19 million.” All scammers, regardless if they are crooks or politicians, use the same tactic. Scare, promise, ask for money, do not deliver.
But there are other ways how to spend your extra money. After you pay your monthly obligations, put money aside for your retirement and for vacations, and if you still have extra money, please support animal shelters like your local SPCA. They recently had to cut off some popular programs because of lack of funding. The first SPCA was funded in England in 1824, and caters not only to dogs but to cats as well. Help those who are close to your heart.
P.S. I find it much easier to photograph dogs than cats. Nevertheless, I was lucky and these four images of cats with incredible eyes can attest to that.
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According to the Jewish calendar, last Wednesday was Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. Those Jews who follow the prescribed tradition, spend the whole day in the synagogue, praying, asking for forgiveness, while abstaining from eating and drinking. This is the day (year after year) when our future is sealed for at least one year (that is, if you believe there is a higher power, whom we call God, who knows what each of us is doing and how we spend our day to day lives). In the prayers on Yom Kippur, we acknowledge that we missed the mark and promise to change our behavior, or even who we are. Is it possible? In the Torah one of the first stories is about the first children, Cain and Abel. When both of them brought an offering to God, He chose Abel’s and not Cain’s. “This annoyed Cain exceedingly, and his continence fell. And Hashem (God) said to Cain, “Why are you annoyed, and why has your continence fallen? Surely, if you improve yourself, you will be forgiven. But if you do not improve yourself, sin rests at the door. Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it” (Genesis 4:5-7). It is easy to say this, even for the God, but how can we change?
I found a possible answer in the book written by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., “What You Can Change… And What You Can’t. Learning to Accept Who You Are”. The subtitle promises, “The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement.” In the book, I learned that among things we can change are moods, sexual “dysfunctions” and even depression. Turns out, optimism is a learned skill (Mr. Seligman’s previous book was titled “Learned Optimism”). At the same time, among other things: ”Dieting, in the long run, almost never works and no treatment is known to improve on the natural course of recovery from alcoholism.”
We all would like to improve our lives, and change our future. If you do not know how, perhaps reading the book could be beneficial.
P.S. There is however, another way for a change – adopt a dog. Since our labradoodle puppy Max became member of our family two years ago, many things have changed in our lives. Most important, we experience more love. Max wakes me up with a kiss at 6:15 in the morning, and gives me a kiss after 10 in the evening, signaling that I have to stop writing and it is time for both of us to go to bed. And with love, you can change anything. While I am finishing working on my next photo-story book “42 Encounters with Love”, you can buy “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” on Amazon.com. I guarantee a positive change. Meanwhile, please enjoy these four images of Max.
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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is known for its very special exhibits; however, one of them recently surprised me. For the first four months this year, it presented “The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment and Idealism.” It was surprising, since The Sea Ranch is not a place I’ve ever thought to be seen in a museum; but rather, it had to be experienced. And this is exactly what we’ve done many times, including just a few weeks ago. Just in case you missed the show at the SFMOMA, The Sea Ranch has a very interesting history.
The first people known to live in the territory where The Sea Ranch is today were the Pomo Indians, who gathered kelp and shells for food on the beaches. In the 19th century the area was mainly used for sheep farming. And then things changed in the 1960s. Architect Al Boeke envisioned the design of the community that would preserve the area’s natural beauty, which would span along 10 miles of the Sonoma County coastline. Online I learned that The Sea Ranch is noted for its distinctive architecture that blends with nature.
Currently there are about 1800 homes which serve as second homes with some 300 full-time residents. Years ago, we also owned our second home there, which was used for weekend rentals a majority of the time.
After we sold it, we started coming back, and had the opportunity to rent many different homes. Sometimes on our visits there, we would spend a few hours checking out the local open houses. This gave us an opportunity to see practically every type of the local design. From time to time we would see a home, which we envisioned living in. There was only one small problem – those were priced in the range of two million dollars. As we licked our lips, our friend and local real estate agent Cindy Kennedy, told us to stop driving ourselves crazy until we decide to move there. For us, it is not a realistic choice for our lifestyle, though many artists reside in the area.
The success of The Sea Ranch as a tourist destination is in a big part not only for the beauty of nature in the area; but also, that it borders with Gualala, an incorporated community in Mendocino County. The name of the place of today’s Gualala, which has a population of over 2000 people, comes from Pomos Indians, who had named the area Kha Wa La Lee, meaning “coming down water place”. When I mentioned to a friend that we are going to The Sea Ranch, he told me that he loves to come here to fish in the Gualala River. The trend to come to the area to hunt and fish and get away from the crowded cities started around 1861. By the end of 1800s Gualala had become a major commercial hub for the entire area with a dancing school, Brass Band and an Opera House. The economy of Gualala was supported by a lumber mill, which logged the redwood trees. But gradually it transitioned from a logging town to a tourist destination. Today Gualala has ten hotels, restaurants, two supermarkets, two gas stations, several art galleries, tourist stores and it serves the local center where visitors to The Sea Ranch and locals can fill all their living needs.
P.S. I wanted to share with you the beauty of the area in these four images. Two women with two dogs appeared in my book “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” which you can buy on Amazon.com.
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On the eve of last Sunday, September 29th, the Jewish calendar showed that the world entered into year 5780, which according to Torah is the birthday of the first man Adam and his wife Eve. It is not related to the age of our universe, which is according to the information I found on Google is 13.8 billion years, and Planet Earth is about 4 billion years old. For my story, I am going to focus on the much lesser number – 5780. The event is called Rosh Hashanah, which literally translates to ’Head of the Year’. My first thought was, what size does a birthday cake have to be to fit 5,780 birthday candles on it? But I will let you figure this out by yourself. Meanwhile, I wanted to check the meaning of each of the numbers 5, 7, 8 and number 20, which is the sum of other three numbers. There are different systems that define the meaning of the numbers; among them are Numerology, Gematria (a form of Jewish numerology), Angel Numbers and some others. Numerology is any belief in the divine of mystical relationship between numbers and one or more coinciding events. Gematria is a Kabbalistic method of interpreting Hebrew Scriptures by computing the numerical value of words, based on those of their constituent letters. And Angel Numbers are sequences of numbers that carry divine guidance by referring to specific numerological meaning.
The number 5 is the number of harmony and balance. It is also the number of divine grace. Five symbolizes man, health and love. It is the number of marriage. There are five senses – sight – hearing – taste – smell – touch.
The number 7 is a highly spiritual number that is associated with intuition, mysticism, inner wisdom and deep inward knowing. In the Torah, God rested on the seventh day, creating the basis of a seven-day-week that we use to this day.
The number 8 is generally an indication of material abundance and career success. The Angel Number interpretation is that the number is a balance of both the material and spiritual aspects of our experience.
The number 20 means infinite potential when it comes to relationships. Since it is a combination of the number 2, which means being part of a group and harmonious companionship, and the number 0, which stands for potential and choice when it follows number 2, it makes the number 20 more successful at relationships.
Now you can put all of this knowledge together to interpret that the year 5780 will be a great success.
There are a number of traditions associated with Rosh Hashanah, which among different names is called Yom Hadin – “The Day of Judgement”, since ten days later it is followed by Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement”. Therefore, Jews greet each other on the Jewish New Year with, “May you be inscribed in the book of life, and sealed for a good year”.
As far as food is concerned, it is traditional to eat slices of apple dipped into honey. This goes together with the other common greeting, “Shana Tova u Metuka”, which means, “Wishing you a Good and Sweet Year.” And this is what I am wishing you. Another tradition is to ask for forgiveness from people before Yom Kippur which is going to be on next Wednesday, for the sins known and not known to us. I would like to use this opportunity to ask from you for your forgiveness.
P.S. I used my artistic ability to share these four images with you. Each has a different numbers of apples: 5, 7, 8 and 20. The most challenging part in this project was to put twenty images of apples into one frame.
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