Saturday, March 26, 2005

Gone Phishing: Fake eBay and PayPal Emails

I got an Email pretending to be from eBay today.

I know everybody probably already knows this, but I want to send out a heads-up anyway: This email is fake.

The link carries you to a site outside of eBay, with fairly realistic looking login stuff. You fill it out, somebody steals your information. They are commonly sent out by people claiming to be from either eBay or PayPal.

This is called "Phishing." You "fish" for personal information by creating a pop-up screen or an email asking for financial information, and then seeing how many people will put it in.

eBay has a little tutorial on fake emails here.

If you think you have a fake eBay message, forward it to

If you think you have a fake PayPal Message, report it here.

Remember, only you can prevent phishing phP\3@x.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Gambling: Poker

So what about poker? Poker's poker, right? Not a lot the casino can mess up there, right?

You've obviously never played casino poker.

There are two places where the casino makes its money off poker. First, they keep 10% of every pot. Period.

Second, up to four people at the table can be employed by the casino, and two of those can be playing with casino money.

As Harry Anderson says, "It's hard to bluff a guy who isn't gambling with his own money."

Just ask--the casino's required to identify them if you want them to--at least, they are in Nevada.

Of course, if roving "teams" of cheaters have found their way into the casino with you, this is probably where they're going to strike. Have fun playing with them, too.

They probably won't identify themselves for you.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

To Checklist Or Not To Checklist

I'm kind of a fan of checklists.

When I was in my prior job, where my day-to-day routine was fairly consistent, I kept a text file on my desktop with a list of all the things I needed to do each day. Each morning, I'd pull it up and as I'd finish each one, I'd delete it. By the end of the day I'd clean the whole list away. I'd close it without saving it, and the next day the list was there, ready to go for me again.

Lots of people aren't fans of checklists.

Checklists, you see, are guilt-inducers. Sure, if I don't have a checklist, I'll feel guilty about some of the things I'm not doing, but at least I'll have the luxury of getting to forget some of them. If I have the checklist, then I am reminded of each and every thing I was unable to do. The only thing that's maximized is my sense of inadequacy.

There's a happy medium to be found here, I think, and that is this:

The checklist is a tool, not a rule.

In other words, the checklist is there to help you, not to govern your actions. Like any tool, if there is a day or a situation that it is not useful in, then it is the tool that is inadequate, not the person using it.

Today was laundry day at my house. Lots of time was spent making dirty clothes clean. Since we don't have a washer or dryer, we tend to use those of others on one specific day, making laundry an all-day project. A "daily checklist" that's perfectly good on non-laundry day becomes useless on laundry day.

Does that make sense? The situation changed, so the tool wasn't useful in this case. Tomorrow, it probably will.

And even on days when you can't do everything on the list, the list still doesn't rule. It just serves as a guide. You can say, "Alright, I know X, Y, and Z all need to be done. Let me take care of X, and I don't have to worry that I'll forget about Y or Z, because they're written down here. And if I don't have time for Z quite yet, That's okay, because I'll know X and Y are taken care of and off my mind."

Tools, not rules. Let them help you, not rule you.

If you make the checklist just another thing on the checklist--in other words, if it's another thing you feel like you have to have done--then the checklist will just be a burden to you and take up more of your time.

But if you can treat it like a tool, know that it's in charge, and consider any shortcomings the fault of the tool rather than absorbing that guilt yourself, you'll empowered rather than demoralized.

Now, let me go mark "Blogging" off my checklist so my conscious will leave me alone.

Lil' Bits

Well, a few bits of news.

First, I'm finally starting to get shoulders. This has always been important to me for some reason. I have it in my head that if I can make my shoulders a bit wider, it would make my waist look narrower, even if my waist wasn't actually narrower. If I can get some shoulders on me and have a narrower waist, even better. So having a bit of shoulders is exciting to me.

(This is why I think weight training is important. You can diet and do cardio, and your body will end up in the same shape, just smaller. By creating muscles, you actually have the power to "create" your shape a bit.)

Second, I actually wrote 1,000 words last night. I do that a few more times I'll actually have a new short story for the first time in months.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

What's Up With The Weather?

So Thursday I'm supposed to take my first day off in ages.

Why did the weather service decide they had to give that day a 157% chance of rain?

Can somebody call the governor and tell him to postpone the showers?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Tale Of The Tape: Danger Zone

So last Thursday, I'm sitting on the couch thinking, "I missed a couple of my meals today. A bit of ice cream probably wouldn't be too bad."

So I ask my wife if she has any coupons for some junk food or snacky food for desert. We look through the coupons, and I point out some healthy choice ice cream.

She comes back from the store with about $60 in junk food that she's purchased for about $17.

I learned a couple of things from this. First, as my wife reminded me, never send someone armed with coupons who is craving junk food out with the mission of picking up junk food. Not unless you want junk food.

Second, junk food is really, really easy to get on sale. I love Butterfingers, and since they're promoting that new Butterfinger crisp bar with both sales and coupons, we got a whole bunch of them for next to nothing. They're really good. But at 150 calories even in the mini ones, I had to ajust my eating whenever I'd have one.

And of course, the last thing I learned was that all that stuff they say about "less energy" from junk food is absolutely true. I didn't really give in too much to the junk until Sunday, and I cut back on some of my other eating to compensate. This meant Sunday I was basically on a junk food diet. On Monday morning, when I went to lift weights, I felt strong enough to lift the weights, but I just didn't have the oomph to put behind it.

I still ended up down a pound, so I'm pleased, but I really think it could have been more if I'd eaten a little more carefully.

But I do reccomend those new Butterfinger crisps to anybody who likes Butterfingers or those little crisp cookies that go good in ice cream.

How's that for a diet tip?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Sunday Book Review: Miserly Meals

A few weeks ago, I pined for a book about cooking healthy on the cheap. Yesterday, my wife and I went out and picked this one up.

I'm glad we did. First off, the layout of each recipe is great. It includes the recipe, the number of servings, the nutritional values for each food (including calories, protein, fat, and even sodium and cholesterol), the preparation time and the cook time. No matter which diet you're on, this book will give you the info you need to know which recipes will fit it.

It also contains the "cost per serving" for each meal, and the book brags that every recipe costs less than 75 cents per serving.

(The catch, which the author mentions in the introduction, is that the "cost per serving" is assuming you are a savvy shopper who follows frugal shopping techniques. Unfortunately, these frugal shopping techniques are not outlined in this book--they're in her other book, Miserly Moms. So when Amazon reviewers gripe about her use of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, they're missing the part where it explains how to get those cheap, which I'm sure involves the words "sales" and "freezer.")

I'm a fan of recipes for pre-made "mixes" that you can keep on hand for when you need to whip up a quick batch of something. This book has a few of those, the most notable being a Bisquick-like mix you can keep on hand for quick baking.

Other chapters contain beverages, appetizers, and an entire chapter on various ways to prepare turkey.

And the "kitchen tips" that end each recipe make the book interesting easy chair reading--I know, it's not Alton Brown, but I like a readable cookbook.

If any readers have their own cookbook suggestions, please feel free to share.