I Hope They Don’t Call the Cops

I just got home from a long day, and the phone rang just as I was getting settled in to finish reading a book I started yesterday. It was the home phone, which is rarely used in our house, so I knew it was likely a scam, a robocall,  or someone asking me to donate to some fraudulent cause.

Now, I’m hoping it really was a scam or someone fraudulently asking me to donate to a cause.

I used to get downright angry about the stupid robocalls, scam calls, and fraudulent donation calls. Then I started having fun with them. I started playing games.

One of my games is to answer cheerfully and listen carefully to their spiel. Sometimes it’s a person, and sometimes it’s someone pressing a button with a prerecorded message…you know…they always ask for Bryant first. When you say they have the wrong number, they press a button so the recording might respond, “Well, you can help me. I’m calling on behalf of the Egg Handlers of America.” And they launch into a long speech about how your donation can help their organization. Since the number often shows the name of another company or “Unknown caller,” I feel pretty sure it’s fraudulent. I let them finish the long speech and then say, “I’m sorry, my child came in while you were talking. Could you repeat that?” They press the button to repeat the speech, or maybe it’s a real person who repeats the speech, and then they say, “Can we count on you to support us?” I then yell, “Touchdown! I’m sorry…my team just scored! Could you repeat that?” Often, they will jump straight to, “Can we count on your support?” I then ask, “Support for what?” They usually hang up at that point.

Another tactic is to answer with an unknown bad foreign accent. Don’t start saying I’m “appropriating” someone else’s culture by using a made up foreign accent. I’m just trying to stop the madness, people! Sometimes I simply will tell them early on that I don’t speak English. Sometimes, I let them go through the whole speech, and then tell them they “talk too fast.” I ask them to repeat more slowly. They go through it all again. I tell them again they “talk too fast.” They usually hang up.

Sometimes, I actually feel sorry for the person on the other end of the line. I know it’s likely they are working for pennies in a developing country. The person on the phone likely isn’t making much money at all from the scam. It’s their employers who are cashing in.

I know. I shouldn’t even engage with these folks, but dang it! I can get mad about it, or I can make it fun.

And that leads us to tonight. Tonight, I tried a different approach. When I saw a number pop up on the Caller ID that I thought was a sales/scam/robocall, I picked up the phone and yelled, sounding out of breath, “It’s done! There’s blood everywhere! What do I do now?!?!” Click. They hung up immediately. My husband walked in from the other room and asked me what I was yelling about. I told him what had happened, and he asked, “Who was it?” I said, “I don’t know.” He then asked, “How do you know it wasn’t a parent from school?” I explained it was an “unknown” caller from a familiar-looking number that always calls saying they are working for a nonprofit. Surely, if it had been a legit call, they would have said something. But they didn’t. Plus, no one calls me on my home phone.

My husband then said, “I hope it wasn’t a real person. I hope they don’t call the cops.” Yeah…that would be bad. But since I’ve had time to write all this, and the cops aren’t knocking down our front door, I guess it’s safe to say it was a scam call. Whew!

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Photo by kat wilcox on Pexels.com

I don’t know how to block unwanted calls on my home phone, but on cell phones, there are lots of apps out there that can help reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive. My favorite, though, is one called RoboKiller. I saw the creator talking about it on TV, and it sounds awesome. It plays games with them…the same kinds of games I mentioned before…wasting their time and decreasing their revenue. You can read about it here. Or you can see a news story about it here. You can download it from the App Store and get a one week free trial. Service for 12 months, is $29.99, or get one month for $3.99.

As for that call I received today, I hope they won’t call back, but just in case they do, I need to come up with something else. Any suggestions?

 

 

 

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Group Text Etiquette

Group texts…I’ve started some and I’ve been included in others. Chances are, you have been on a group text too.

Sometimes I love technology and sometimes I hate it. I love when I can text five friends at the same time to share pictures of their sons or daughters involved in an activity. I love when we can arrange group gatherings more easily because of group texts, emails, or Facebook Messenger. Really, it can make life so much easier.

I was included on a group message on Messenger recently about an upcoming event. We were all able to let each other know if we would be participating, and we were able to volunteer to help with certain things. And maybe I did the wrong thing: once I knew my job, I dropped out of the message. Yep…dropped out of it. But I wasn’t making some terrible statement. I wasn’t saying I didn’t want to be involved in the event. I simply didn’t need to know how the sausage was made! I knew my job, and I knew I would do it.

A friend who was on the same message called me shortly thereafter, asking, “Did you leave the group message?” I replied, “Yes. Was that wrong?” I explained that the host knew I would be there, and she knew what I would be bringing…did I really need to know what everyone else was doing? Did I really need to hear my phone “ding” every two seconds for the rest of the day?!

Maybe I broke some unwritten rule. I’m kind of a no-nonsense, “just the facts” kind of person. When we had our pool resurfaced a few years ago, I asked the contractor when it would be ready. He started telling me what all they had to do, but really…I didn’t need to know how the sausage was made. I just wanted to know when I could use my pool again. Of course, I tried to say it in a nice way, “I have no idea what all that means. I’m leaving town for a couple of weeks, so I guess what I’m actually asking is what date the pool will actually have water in it. What date will we be able to get in the pool?” Just the facts, sir. Despite the fact that I am from the Heart of Dixie…in the Deep South…I’m just not good at sugarcoating things…at all.

So in that recent group message, it was the same situation: I didn’t need to know what Susie and Mary and Jane were bringing…I needed to know my job. I didn’t need to get more notifications on my phone.

Remember when we all first started doing the group email thing? Remember how everyone would “reply all”? I hated that. I still hate it. When I send a group email, I usually say, “Please do not reply ALL. Please simply reply to me.” But you can’t do that in a group text or group message on Messenger. You have to suffer through all the notifications that someone else has responded…unless you leave the group. And if it’s something I won’t even be participating in, well, I’m out as soon as I say I won’t be participating. Once I tell the host that I can’t be involved, I’m out. Get it?

Am I breaking some unwritten rule by taking myself out of group texts and messages when the business part seems to be done? If you’re not volunteering to help with decor for some event, do you really want to read all the texts about it? Am I crazy? Better yet…am I offending people when I leave the group?

Lots of times group texts are fun and/or necessary. There are plenty of times that we’re sharing pictures. I’m totally staying in that. I have some group messages with college friends that we use for special things. We don’t constantly send messages to the group…only when there is something we really want to share. Son’s getting married? Daughter made the team? And then there are times we are still in the middle of discussing what to do for decor for an event…I’m totally staying in if I’m participating. But if I’ll be on vacation while y’all are decorating, I’m leaving the group text. Sorry. I certainly don’t mean to hurt any feelings, but my brain can only take so many “dings” on my phone.

I can’t possibly be the only one who gets annoyed by excessive notifications. Lots of folks have made memes about it, so I know I’m not alone.

So, if I’m ever on a group message or text with you, don’t be offended if I leave it. Either I’m not attending the event you’re discussing, or I feel like the business is done, and I know what my job is. I’m not leaving you; I’m just leaving the notifications/dings.

I have a friend who once told me that if someone doesn’t return her phone call promptly, she automatically thinks she has done something to offend them. I told her, “Oh, I always think they didn’t get the message…or they’re out of town…or they’re as busy as I am.” I guess I’m just not easily offended, so I don’t expect people to be easily offended.

But please…someone tell me if it’s offensive to leave a group text. If it is, I will find a way to tolerate the excessive notifications and dings on my phone…or maybe I’ll just go back to an old flip phone that doesn’t receive texts!

 

 

 

 

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My New Favorite App

There are lots of good apps out there…apps that keep you organized, apps that keep you on time, apps that help you find your way…so many apps. Lots of good ones, and lots of bad ones.

Recently, I saw something on MSN about some people who had body shamed Selena Gomez after seeing her in a swimsuit. The article I read said her response was a homemade video set to one of her songs. I loved it. The video looked like an old home movie.

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Anyone who follows my personal Facebook page knows I was on vacation last week. They also know I made my own little “documentary” of the trip. My little family (plus two of my daughter’s friends) vacationed with my brother, his wife, and two of her sons. (FYI: I’m not one of those people who refers to my sis-in-law’s children as my brother’s too, because they have a daddy…I don’t want to step on toes. I know some people are cool with it, but I don’t want to overstep.) The two boys are delightful and as different as night and day, and we love them as if they are our own.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….so we went on vacation together, and I had just read about the Selena Gomez video. I knew she had to have used an app, so I set out on a quest to find the perfect app for making simulated Super 8/8mm videos…just like the home movies we used to make and play on the projector.

I’m not much of a “techie.” You can teach an old dog new tricks, but this old dog doesn’t have the attention span for learning too much new techie stuff.

I did my research. I read articles online, and I read reviews of different apps. From what I could tell, there was one app that would be perfect for my use. There were some that were more complicated, but that scared me. There are some that offer more bells and whistles, but that scared me. This one is simple and very user friendly. It is called simply “8mm Vintage Camera.” I needed an easy app that would produce the 8mm effect without much thinking or work on my part, and that’s exactly what it is. There is a free version and a paid version…I think the paid version offers a few more options without requiring a lot of knowledge.

I decided to download the app before our vacation in the Bahamas, and I am so glad I did.

I documented our trip as well as I could. I also annoyed my brother with this app as much as I could, but he’s accustomed to that. I will add a snippet that shows the look on his face as I take yet another video of him (no sound on this one).

 

The app offers lot of options. You can record with sound or without. I prefer to record without sound, simply because it seems more authentic to me. I’m sure younger people will want to record with sound.

It also offers different filters for recording. I have only used two of the filters: one called “60s” and one called “Pela.” The “60s” filter produced a slightly gray hue, while the “Pela” filter seems to film with amber undertones.

This video has no sound:

 

Another great thing about the app is that you can add music from your iTunes library to your own videos. Apple Music songs won’t add, so you must purchase them in order to add them to your videos. I’ve added songs to all my videos, and I’ve noticed a good song can make a not-so-good video look better!

Since we returned home from vacation, I’ve had even more opportunity to use it. My friend, Wendy, came into town for Easter weekend and brought her two children. As you may have read before, back in the day, we had the best playgroup ever when our kids were young. As time has gone by, people have moved away, but we have all managed to stay in touch.

Some of you know Wendy is sick with leukemia. After arriving in town and spending some time with friends and family, she had to go into the hospital here. Because of that, the playgroup moms all rallied and had an old-school Easter Egg Hunt for all the playgroup kids…they’re almost all teenagers now, but they were up for a bit of nostalgia. Not one of them sulked through the egg hunt, and I’m sure it was because they were just so happy to be together.

Because Wendy couldn’t be there for the egg hunt, we all took photos to send her, and I made some videos with my new app. It was super easy, and I think they turned out great, if I do say so myself. I’m only including clips here, because I don’t want to share everything with the whole world, but you get the idea. The video below is brief but includes the song Sunshine On My Shoulders by John Denver.

 

And another brief video without music:

 

 

So, here’s the skinny: if I can operate 8mm Vintage Camera, anyone can. I am completely and utterly obsessed with it, so if you see me out and about, don’t be surprised if I ask you to wave while I point my smartphone at you.

You could be a star of a minor motion picture!

XOXO,

Kelly