I Fought Junk Mail and Won (One Battle)

One of my more satisfying accomplishments in 2016 was defeating a junk mailer who had repeatedly violated my credit reporting opt-out. The first part of this post comes from a draft letter I wrote, but never sent, to the three mail credit reporting agencies. It summarizes what happened between February 2015 and May 2016: at least five “pre-qualified” automobile loans sent to me in the mail, despite the fact I have never had a drivers license.

Here’s the story:

In February 2015 I received a notice in the mail that I was “prequalified” for an automobile loan by [Name Redacted] Auto, [Address Redacted].

This was a surprise, as I have never in my life had a drivers license. I called the telephone number on the letter and attempted to explain that they were wasting their time and mine, but was put on hold, transferred to voicemail, transferred to a number that rang but was never answered, and generally ignored. So later that day I called the “Prescreen Opt Out” number on the back of the notice and opted out of such notices.

A few weeks later I received another notice from the same company. Not sure if my opt out hadn’t yet “percolated” through the system or if I had not completed the process correctly on the phone, I again opted out using the Internet address provided. This time I received an on-screen confirmation, so I knew it had been completed correctly.

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Advice to New Bloggers

When I shared the news that I’ve given my blog a makeover, it led to a short conversation with Barbara, one of my LinkedIn connections. I asked if she has a blog and she replied, “No, but I’d love to start one for Emergency Management and Public Safety issues.” Well, I happen to be hunkered down in New York City while we wait to see if the forecast blizzard turns out to be the apocalypse they’re forecasting, so I’m going to use my time to share some suggestions for new bloggers.

If it seems like everyone and his brother already has a blog, it may be close; but there are a few who still haven’t joined the party. There’s still room!

I started blogging on a whim–and my goal wasn’t really to have a blog of my own but to help a writer friend start a blog of her own. As I played around with it, I got interested in building a better blog of my own. Most of what I know is self-taught, learned by experimentation and looking at what other bloggers do. In retrospect, that’s a very good way to do it–the online world changes so frequently that any print book you may find on blogging will be slightly out of date. (Though having a print reference at hand might be helpful at first, so if it works for you go ahead–just remember that what you find on your new blogging platform might be a little different than what’s in the book.)

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Poached!

My return to blogging experienced a rude shock when I discovered that The Buddy System for Job Seekers had been copied in its entirety on half  a dozen other sites.

When I mentioned this to a friend who has sometimes earned her living as a writer, she immediately responded that it would almost be a compliment, if it wasn’t plagiarism.

Indeed, it was a little creepy.

My first clue came when WordPress’s Dashboard informed me of a “pingback.” After seeing two blogs that had lifted my entire post, I did a Google search and turned up more.

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I Am Not for Sale (But I Used to Be)

Several years ago I visited Charleston SC on a vacation. While there I toured the Aiken-Rhett House, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and is now a museum. I love museums and I love old houses, but the Aiken-Rhett House is unique among all the old house museums I’ve ever been to: it retains an outbuilding that once contained slave quarters (discreetly described as “servants’ quarters” in the NRHP nomination form).

I arrived at the house shortly after it opened to visitors for the day, so had it pretty much to myself. I followed the audio tour through the main house, then walked out the back door. Two nearly identical buildings flanked the courtyard—to the left, the stables; to the right, the slaves’ quarters. I went up the stairs to the second floor, above the kitchen. The small rooms, which reminded me of a bargain motel, were where the slaves had once lived. They were mostly bare—I remember a wooden bed frame without a mattress and a simple wooden table—because slaves’ furnishings were not saved as heirlooms and very few have survived the years.

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