Remembering the Clothesline

Remembering the ClotheslineI found myself using an outdoor clothesline this past year and realized many youngsters had never seen one before.

When my mother sent me the following email, I thought it would be fun to share for a leisure Sunday read. The original author is unknown.

Remembering Mom’s Clothesline
1. You had to hang the socks by the toes… NOT the top.

2. You hung pants by the BOTTOM/cuffs… NOT the waistbands.

3. You had to WASH the clothesline(s) before hanging any clothes – walk the entire length of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

4. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang “whites” with “whites,” and hang them first.

5. You NEVER hung a shirt by the shoulders – always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?

6. Wash day on a Monday! NEVER hang clothes on the weekend, or on Sunday, for Heaven’s sake!

7. Hang the sheets and towels on the OUTSIDE lines so you could hide your “unmentionables” in the middle.

8. It didn’t matter if it was sub-zero weather… clothes would “freeze-dry.”

9. ALWAYS gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were “tacky”!

10. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.

11. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.

IRONED? Well, that’s a whole OTHER subject!

And now a POEM…

A clothesline was a news forecast, to neighbors passing by,
There were no secrets you could keep, when clothes were hung to dry.
It also was a friendly link, for neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by, to spend a night or two.

For then you’d see the “fancy sheets”, and towels upon the line;
You’d see the “company table cloths”, with intricate designs.
The line announced a baby’s birth, from folks who lived inside,
As brand new infant clothes and diapers were hung, so carefully with pride!

The ages of the children could, so readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed, you’d know how much they’d grown!
It also told when illness struck, as extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe too, haphazardly were strung.

It also said, “On vacation now”, when lines hung limp and bare.
It told, “We’re back!” when full lines sagged, with not an inch to spare!
New folks in town were scorned upon, if wash was dingy and gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their brows, and looked the other way.

But clotheslines now are of the past, for dryers make work much less.
Now what goes on inside a home, is anybody’s guess!
I really miss that way of life, it was a friendly sign
When neighbors knew each other best… by what hung on the line.

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A Hundred Years of Cruising

The Titanic being chased by the Allure of the Seas

Like Jonah and the Whale the Allure is ready to swallow the Titanic

Cruising became quite popular around the turn of the 19th century, even though it had been a favorite for nobility and royalty since the 1830s, when nobles, authorities, and royal princes from all over Europe sailed in just over three months the Mediterranean islands, coastlines and famous cities on a ship called the Francisco I, which flew the flag of the Kingdoms of Sicily and Naples. Most ships that operated passenger transportation in those days were called ocean liners. Constructed as ocean liners, they did not meet the requirements of the pleasure-seeking market and offered few amenities aboard.

The first cruise ship built exclusively for the purpose of vacationing on a ship was the Prinzessin Victoria Louise in Hamburg Germany, even though she did quite a few Atlantic immigration crossings in the short 6 years of her existence. In the early days of huge immigration to the US, many shipping companies build transatlantic ocean liners as was the luxurious ‘Titanic’.

The following comparison shows that numbers between the Titanic, the largest ocean liner in 1912 and The Allue of the Seas’, the largest cruise ship in the world today are in most areas such as length, height and speed not that dramatically different. What makes the huge difference however is the width, creating a 5 to 1 gross tonnage difference, which is why on the picture it looks like the Titanic is going to be swallowed by the Allure.

Here are some more numbers and a picture show off the enormous amount of food is prepared in 18 kitchens on the allure.

The Titanic, the world’s largest cruiseship in 1912 had the following specs:

Tonnage:     46,328 GRT
Displacement:     52,310 tons
Length:     882 ft 6 in (269.0 m)
Beam:             92 ft 0 in (28.0 m)
Height:     175 ft (53.3 m) (keel to top of funnels)
Draught:     34 ft 7 in (10.5 m)
Depth:             64 ft 6 in (19.7 m)
Decks:             9 (A–G)
Installed power: 24 double-ended and 5 single-ended boilers feeding two reciprocating steam engines for the wing propellers and a low-pressure turbine for the center propeller;[1] output: 46,000 HP
Propulsion:     Two 3-blade wing propellers and one 4-blade centre propeller
Speed:     Cruising: 21 kn (39 km/h; 24 mph). Max: 24 kn (44 km/h; 28 mph)
Capacity:     Passengers: 2,435, crew: 892. Total: 3,327

In comparison to the latest ‘floating city’, the Allure of the Seas, the differences seem substantial except when you compare
specific statistics such as speed, overall length, height.
This baby holds 6,318 guests & boasts 2,384 crew.
The Allure of the Seas is the largest passenger ship ever constructed and the 
Statistics are simply mind-boggling:

* 225,282 GRT (gross register tonnage)

* 1,187 feet (362 meters) long

* 215 feet (66 meters) wide

* 213 feet (65 meters) high from the water line

* 30 feet (9.1 meters) draft

* 22 knots cruising speed

* 16 passenger decks, 24 passenger elevators

* 4 bow thrusters with 7,500 horse power each

* 5,400 guests (double occupancy), 6,318 guests total, 2,384 crew (from appx. 80 countries)

* 2,706 staterooms

Cooking 3 x a day for 6,318 guests and 2,384 crew in 18 kitchens. Mindblowing!!

Give the Gift of Service

Give the Gift of ServiceHave you been looking to fill a void in your soul this holiday season? Well, you may want to consider giving the gift of service.

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give is service to others.

Our community is filled with volunteer organizations that can use your time, and your talents.

Here are just a few ideas:
Helping Joy to the Children on Christmas Day
Feeding the cats at Cats Angels
Fostering or walking the dogs at the Nassau Humane Society
Assist a local teacher in the classroom.
Help with the Book Sales that benefit our local library.
Teach a Sunday School Class

I saw somewhere recently that if you read to a child for only three hours a week it makes a huge improvement to their reading skills.

Many of the agencies and phone numbers for some wonderful organizations, located in Nassau County, Florida, are listed on the Volunteer Nassau website. Groups like local theatres, schools, art associations, pet advocates and more can be found HERE.

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Personalized Medicine Matching Treatments to Your Genes

Personalized Medicine Matching Treatments to Your GenesYou’re one of a kind. It’s not just your eyes, smile, and personality. Your health, risk for disease, and the ways you respond to medicines are also unique. Medicines that work well for some people may not help you at all. They might even cause problems. Wouldn’t it be nice if treatments and preventive care could be designed just for you?

The careful matching of your biology to your medical care is known as personalized medicine. It’s already being used by health care providers nationwide.

The story of personalized medicine begins with the unique set of genes you inherited from your parents. Genes are stretches of DNA that serve as a sort of instruction manual telling your body how to make the proteins and perform the other tasks that your body needs. These genetic instructions are written in varying patterns of only 4 different chemical “letters,” or bases.

The same genes often differ slightly between people. Bases may be switched, missing, or added here and there. Most of these variations have no effect on your health. But some can create unusual proteins that might boost your risk for certain diseases. Some variants can affect how well a medicine works in your body. Or they might cause a medicine to have different side effects in you than in someone else.

The study of how genes affect the way medicines work in your body is called pharmacogenomics.

“If doctors know your genes, they can predict drug response and incorporate this information into the medical decisions they make,” says Dr. Rochelle Long, a pharmacogenomics expert at NIH.

It’s becoming more common for doctors to test for gene variants before prescribing certain drugs. For example, children with leukemia might get the TPMT gene test to help doctors choose the right dosage of medicine to prevent toxic side effects. Some HIV-infected patients are severely allergic to treatment drugs, and genetic tests can help identify who can safely take the medicines.

“By screening to know who shouldn’t get certain drugs, we can prevent life-threatening side effects,” Long says.

Pharmacogenomics is also being used for cancer treatment. Some breast cancer drugs only work in women with particular genetic variations. If testing shows patients with advanced melanoma (skin cancer) have certain variants, 2 new approved drugs can treat them.

Even one of the oldest and most common drugs, aspirin, can have varying effects based on your genes. Millions of people take a daily aspirin to lower their risk for heart attack and stroke. Aspirin helps by preventing blood clots that could clog arteries. But aspirin doesn’t reduce heart disease risk in everyone.

NIH-funded researchers recently identified a set of genes with unique activity patterns that can help assess whether someone will benefit from taking aspirin for heart health. Scientists are now working to develop a standardized test for use in daily practice. If doctors can tell that aspirin won’t work in certain patients, they can try different treatments.

One NIH-funded research team studied a different clot-fighting drug known as clopidogrel (Plavix). It’s often prescribed for people at risk for heart attack or stroke. Led by Dr. Alan Shuldiner at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the team examined people in an Amish community. Isolated communities like this have less genetic diversity than the general population, which can make it easier to study the effects of genes. But as in the general population, some Amish people have risk factors, such as eating a high-fat diet, that raise their risk for heart disease.

Many of the Amish people studied had a particular gene variant that made them less responsive to clopidogrel, the scientists found. Further research revealed that up to one-third of the general population may have similar variations in this gene, meaning they too probably need a different medicine to reduce heart disease risks.

The findings prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change the label for this common drug to alert doctors that it may not be appropriate for patients who have certain gene variations. Two alternative drugs have since been developed. “If people have these gene variants, they know they have options,” says Shuldiner. “This is a great example of how study results made it onto a drug label and are beginning to be implemented into patient care.”

Getting a genetic test usually isn’t difficult. Doctors generally take a sample of body fluid or tissue, such as blood, saliva or skin, and send it to a lab. Most genetic tests used today analyze just one or a few genes, often to help diagnose disease. Newborns, for example, are routinely screened for several genetic disorders by taking a few drops of blood from their heels. When life-threatening conditions are caught early, infants can be treated right away to prevent problems.

The decision about whether to get a particular genetic test can be complicated. Genetic tests are now available for about 2,500 diseases, and that number keeps growing. Your doctor might advise you to get tested for specific genetic diseases if they tend to run in your family or if you have certain symptoms.

“While there are many genetic tests, they vary as to how well they predict risk,” says Dr. Lawrence Brody, a genetic testing expert at NIH.

For some diseases, such as sickle cell anemia or cystic fibrosis, inheriting 2 copies of abnormal genes means a person will get that disease. But for other diseases and conditions, the picture is more complex. For type 2 diabetes, testing positive for some specific gene variants may help predict risk, but no better than other factors—such as obesity, high blood pressure and having a close relative with the disease.

The latest approach to personalized medicine is to get your whole genome sequenced. That’s still expensive, but the cost has dropped dramatically over the past decade and will likely continue to fall. Since your genome essentially stays the same over time, this information might one day become part of your medical record, so doctors could consult it as needed.

You can start to get a sense of your genetic risks by putting together your family’s health history. This will help you and your doctor spot early warning signs of conditions that run in your family.

But personalized medicine isn’t just about genes. You can learn a lot about your health risks by taking a close look at your current health and habits. Smoking, a poor diet, and lack of exercise can raise your risks for life-threatening health problems, such as heart disease and cancer. Talk to your health care provider about the steps you can take to understand and reduce your unique health risks.

Test Your Genes?
Genetic tests aren’t necessarily for everyone. You and your doctor might consider analyzing your genes or genome:
-to diagnose a disease.
-if there’s a strong family history of a certain disease.
-if you’re pregnant or plan to have a child.
-to learn if you have, or are at risk for, an inherited disorder.
-to learn if you’re at risk for certain disorders that might be slowed or prevented if you make healthy changes.
-to guide your health care provider in choosing the best treatments for you.

Source: NIH News in Health

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What are the Rules to a Gunfight?

What are the Rules to a Gunfight?With many of my female friends getting their concealed weapons permits lately, I’ve read (and discussed) lots of options for the “rules” when you decide to pull your weapon.

The average response time of a 911 call is 23 minutes; the response time of a .357 is 1400 feet per second.

Here are some rules my mom received when she recently received her own concealed weapons permit:

-Guns have only two enemies: rust and politicians.
-It’s always better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6
-Cops carry guns to protect themselves and you.
-Never let someone or something that threatens you get inside your arm’s length.
-Never say, “I’ve got a gun.” If you need to use deadly force, the first sound they hear should be the safety clicking off.
-You can say ‘stop’ or any other word, but a large bore muzzle pointed at someone’s head is pretty much a universal language.
-You cannot save the planet, but you may be able to save yourself and your family.

“History is written by the victors”
-Winston Churchill-

-If you’re not shooting, you should be loading.
-If you’re not loading, you should be moving.
-If you’re not moving, you’re dead.
-Always win! There is no such thing as a fair fight.
-Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets… you may get killed with your own gun, but he’ll have to beat you to death with it, ’cause it will be empty.
-In a life and death situation, do something … it may be wrong, but do something!
-Never leave an enemy behind. If you have to shoot, shoot to kill. In court, yours will be the only testimony.

“Peace is that brief glorious moment in history, when everybody stands around reloading”
-Thomas Jefferson-

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How are you preparing your child to trust Gut Feelings?

Hunches Represent the Total Sum of our Wisdom

Hunches Represent the Total Sum of our Wisdom

We all have ‘gut feelings.’ Some of us just seem to recognize their presence more often than others do. Some even go a step further and actually learn to trust their gut feelings, using them as an internal personal assistant which helps in decision making. Having had many conversations with clients who come to me for mental training, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that most women and men admit to recognizing they have gut feelings. You can call it preconceived ideas, but I have been most surprised to hear so many of my male clients admit to having gut feelings. Because, basically, admitting to having gut feelings is like admitting to having intuition. defines ‘gut feelings’ as ‘an instinct or intuition; an immediate or basic feeling or reaction without a logical rationale.’ immediately redirects the reader to ‘intuition,’ then defines it as ‘the apparent ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason.’ It continues to say, ‘Typically, intuition is regarded as a conscient commonality between earthly knowledge and the higher spiritual knowledge and appears as flashes of insight.’
So, when I hear a person admit to being aware of gut feelings, to me, he is admitting to recognizing he has intuition.

Who admits to using gut feelings?

Police officers can have a gut feeling that a suspect is holding a weapon or narcotic substances. A woman dating can have gut feelings regarding her safety when around a man she is meeting. A business man meeting a prospective partner can get a sense of that person’s intentions.
What a person is aware of is the fact that there is an internal feeling, be it positive or negative in nature, which signals to a person that what one is thinking, doing, or about to do is either conducive or not conducive to who one is or what one’s intentions are. This beacon reacts instantaneously and automatically, it is a signal emitted from a part of you which is incredibly wise and acutely aware of who you are, where you are (your present), where you have been (all your past experiences and what you have learned), and where you want to go (your desires for your future). It also has the impressive ability to immediately adapt when circumstances change, whether they are in thought, actions or one’s environment. Even though many recognize the presence of gut feelings, it is hard for a person to recognize the full extent of their power, as most have yet to trust them, let alone use them to assist one through life. We are born with and possess an intricate, highly efficient internal guidance system.
No man-made contraption comes close in its functioning or capabilities to that of a human internal guidance system. But still, let’s have a look at one invention which is similar in its function… a missile guidance system.

There are many different kinds of missile guidance systems, but, basically, the technology guides a missile to an intended target. That target can be moving or fixed. When the intention is to hit a target which is moving, the guidance system has three components: a target tracker, a missile tracker, and a guidance computer. One tracker must find and follow a target no matter where it goes. Another tracker must assess the where-abouts of the missile itself and the trajectory of its flight path. Then, a guidance computer, which has been programmed with the mission, must continually gather data and make necessary adjustments to the missile’s course. To reach the target efficiently and effectively, the following information is vital: What is the target, where is it at? Is the target fixed or moving? Where is the missile compared to the target? What path would be most efficient in getting the missile to the target?

Now let us relate this to our human guidance system. What is your target… your current desires, goals, and intentions for your life (these are based on the uniqueness of who you are, your preferences)? The target is moving because as you evolve and, as your life unfolds, you will find that your desires, goals, and intentions for your life evolve as well.
At the present moment, where are you in life compared to your current desires, goals, and intentions? What path and choices are most appropriate for you to accomplish your current desires, goals, and intentions; to live your ideal life, to live a life filled with joy? Your personal and unique guidance system offers you positive feelings when you are on the ‘right’ path for your present-day intentions, desires, and goals; and offers you negative feelings when you are off the path which is most suitable to your current intentions, desires, and goals.

Are you ready to make use of your highly qualified, efficient, dependable internal personal assistant? The first step is to define your target. Get to know yourself. Outline your current intentions, desires, and goals. Then, you can practice being awake and aware of your gut feelings. Start to trust them and make some decisions based on their guidance. Commit to the process, as it does take time and effort.

Once you understand and begin to practice these skills, pass the knowledge onto your children. Teaching them from a young age how powerful they are, how to be awake to their uniqueness and preferences, how to have goals and direction, how to look inward for their answers, and how to trust themselves and their natural, instinctual gut feelings which are always there to guide them through life.
Live In-Joy

Get Your Flu Shot

Get Your Flu ShotGetting the flu shot can reduce the risk that you will get the flu. Getting the flu shot may ease the symptoms, too, if you catch this nasty virus.

There is a wide variety of vaccines:
-The nasal spray is quick, easy and better yet, painless. You sniff and you’re done.
-There is a flu shot that covers four versions of the flu, and one that will protect you from three strains of the flu.
-You can even choose a flu vaccine that uses a shorter needle

Flu expert Anne Schuchat, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the crucial thing is to just get vaccinated, “That first cough or fever is not the time to think about influenza vaccination. Today is the time to start thinking about it, and to make the time for yourself and those you love.”

The Basics
Everyone age 6 months and older needs to get a flu shot (vaccine) every year. The seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu.

For many people, the seasonal flu is a mild illness. But for some people, the flu can lead to:
-Serious infections like pneumonia

The flu spreads easily from person to person. When you get the flu shot, you don’t just protect yourself, you also protect everyone around you.

Take Action
You can get a flu shot at your doctor’s office or clinic, your employer, or your local health department. A great number of people find it most convenient to get the vaccine from their favorite pharmacy.

Stop Spreading the Germs
By following the guidelines below, you can help stop spreading the flu:
-Sneeze or cough into a tissue, then throw it away and wash your hands.
-Stay home from work or school for at least 24 hours AFTER your fever is gone – WITHOUT the aid of fever reducing medications.
-Take time to wash your hands with soap and water. Singing the popular childrens ABC song will help you lather up longer.
-Quit touching your face! Your eyes, nose and mouth are easy access points for germs to enter your body.
-Stay away from sick people.

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Increase for Veterans Benefits in 2014

Increase for Veterans Benefits in 2014Washington DC – Veterans, their families and survivors receiving disability compensation and pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs will receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase in their monthly payments beginning January 1, 2014.

“We’re pleased there will be another cost-of-living increase for Veterans, their families and their survivors,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The increase expresses in a tangible way our Nation’s gratitude for the sacrifices made by our service-disabled and wartime Veterans.”

For the first time, payments will not be rounded down to the nearest dollar. Until this year, that was required by law. Veterans and survivors will see additional cents included in their monthly compensation benefit payment.

For Veterans without dependents, the new compensation rates will range from $130.94 monthly for a disability rated at 10 percent to $2,858.24 monthly for 100 percent. The full rates are available on the Internet at

The COLA increase also applies to disability and death pension recipients, survivors receiving dependency and indemnity compensation, disabled Veterans receiving automobile and clothing allowances, and other benefits.

Under federal law, cost-of-living adjustments for VA’s compensation and pension must match those for Social Security benefits. The last adjustment was in January 2013 when the Social Security benefits rate increased 1.7 percent.

In fiscal year 2013, VA provided over $59 billion in compensation benefits to nearly 4 million Veterans and survivors, and over $5 billion in pension benefits to more than 515,000 Veterans and survivors.

For Veterans and separating Servicemembers who plan to file an electronic disability claim, VA urges them to use the joint DoD/VA online portal, eBenefits. Registered eBenefits users with a premium account can file a claim online, track the status, and access a variety of other benefits, including pension, education, health care, home loan eligibility, and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.

For more information about VA benefits, visit, or call 1-800-827-1000.

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Christmas Spirit

Mamma Cat Saves the Day

I was trying to find an appropriately humorous Christmas joke when I ran across this incredibly touching video about a mother cat in the Ukraine, who stopped for nothing to get her baby safely back home. For someone like me, who has no children of his own, the intensity of  a bond between a mother and her children has always been slightly mysterious and admittedly sometimes head-shakingly confusing. This little feline mother and her offspring has opened my eyes.

She never once wavered in the determination of what she needed to do. There was only one way to get back to safety for her child. And that’s what she focused on. Watch it. It’ll warm up your Christmas spirit.

Internal Revenue Service Scam Hits Close to Home

Internal Revenue Service Scam Hits Close to HomeMy cousin Sarah was the target of an Internal Revenue Service scam. She told me when she received a telephone voicemail, saying they were with the IRS, she called the number back.

The man who answered the phone identified himself as Officer Adam Scott, with the Internal Revenue Service. He told Sarah her full name and stated her correct home address.

He went on to explain that she had been audited for tax years 2010 and 2011, and that she owed $1,100.00. Scott made no mention of her husband’s name, who she files a joint tax return with, and that it would be turned over to the courts for prosecution… tomorrow.

Sarah told me he was aggressive and tried to intimidate her into giving him the personal information needed to withdraw the funds from her account; but since Sarah retired from the Marion County police department, all he accomplished was to make her mad and she gave him an earful! He even threatened to have someone at her front door within 45 minutes.

She reported this to the Ocala Police Department, where she lives, and was told their hands are tied unless they actually extort money.

It is important to SHARE THIS WARNING with others!

Apparently, this scam has been circulating since October and I found an press release on the IRS website, with more helpful information.

The Internal Revenue Service has warned consumers about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

“This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.” Werfel noted that the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail.

Other characteristics of this scam include:
-Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers.
-Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
-Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
-Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
-Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.

After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
-If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.

-If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.

-If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to

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I Take Only What is Mine

This Hangs on the way to my bathroom. I see it several times every day

Entitlement is in the news, income inequality is in the news. Obama calls it “the defining challenge of our time” and all the internet search engines comply and rank his words number one in a search, as if this was never said before.

Actually he did so himself in a December 2011 speech when he  painted the 50s and 60s as a cherished time of value in America. Those who grew up in those years can challenge this perception of the truth by only reminding us of the treatment of blacks, women and migrant workers in those decades. Calling them a period of value is grasping at political straws.

In my all-time favorite Elton John song “Indian Sunset”, Bernie Taupin wrote: “I take only what is mine Lord, my pony, my squaw and my child.” On the wall in my music room hangs a painting I got for Christmas last year from the youngest daughter. It says “I take only what is mine”. I cherish that “home made” gift beyond any amount of money, because it has over the years become my life’s guiding principle. And no I don’t intend to get all political on you when I remind you of last year’s campaign fallacy when Obama preached the words “you didn’t build that”. I built whatever I built the hard way, the smart way and sometimes the ignorant way. And yes, every effort was supported by a facilitating infrastructure, and sabotaged by ever strangling government regulations and barricades.

As a generation we (the boomers) sold out for the “ignorance of greed” that we started adopting in the early 80s and have now perfected into a lifestyle of deserving. If you want to get a glimpse of what will come out of that attitude then watch this rather disturbing video where the woman portrays a real life poster model for the Age of Entitlement. Apparently by virtue of the fact that she vehemently believes it is her God-given right to be served Chicken McNuggets at 10:30 in the morning and, when disappointed in her demand, almost literally turns into a crazed zombie, singlehandedly making sure that the next chapter  for all drive-thru windows anywhere is going to include a taser under the counter.

And that over a fast food product that recently came in the news for containing less than 50% chicken meat while the remainder was a concoction of fat, blood vessels,nerve, connective tissue and ground bone.

Inequality Goes Viral

I know, like most of us, that politicians use, borrow or steal any good line or expression to make them look good in the eyes of the people but  with a substantial dose of irony I think this time Obama is trying to ride on the coat tails of an increasingly popular Pope in the Vatican, who addressed something similar several weeks ago. Good man that Pope, no doubt full of good intentions, but also barking up the wrong tree. Contrary to popular belief these days, I do think that capitalism is the only saving grace for humanity. I will need to explain that statement and I promise I will in a near future blog, but for the pope to use the words “the tyranny of capitalism” makes me want to point out that at the end of his reign, history will judge him only on the challenge to keep Roman Catholicism a world religion, not his record for political grandstanding on topics like income equality.

And Obama…oh he is probably just thankful that several shifts on other hot issues have taken the focus away from the “Affordable Care Act website debacle” for awhile and who knows maybe the next debt ceiling debates, Chinese airspace incidents or Syria compromises. Clear is by now that Obama’s presidency is over the board with no clear focus on dealing with a concentrated issue, work up a solution and then move on to the next. When writing this down I had to think about this wonderful video that shares not only talent and perseverance, but above all it embodies total focus and a paced yet determined execution of the process.

Lack of Focus however is not Obama’s personal problem; it is America’s problem.
It is the Culture of Entitlement that has caught this nation and much of the western world in a death knell of gigantic proportions, only covered up by the greatest debasement of a currency ever.

These days everyone is somehow entitled to something or another. And because everyone feels that their contribution to society and human progress is invaluable, an entitlement is justified over and above another person. And that how we as a nation, or if you will western society, have ended up eating our children and grandchildren’s lunch and dinner.

An entitlement comes in different shapes and forms and when contractually stipulated, an entitlement is absolutely and morally correct, albeit not always collectible! A lot like a judgement that is not collectible. Circumstances vary.
There are numerous songs, books, poems, movies that all play with the assumption that life is not necessarily fair, yet entitlements over recent decades have turned into something that apparently is written in blood; and in our current state I would say, with the blood of our children and their born and unborn children.

Over the ages financial and/or power status implied some entitlements.  Entitlements are often natural forms of respect, admiration or simply consideration. Getting up out of a seat for an older person in a train or bus is usually a consideration. Expecting to be served first because your car is the only $100,000 plus car in the parking lot cracks my facade. While I begrudge no one their wealth, per above, when someone begins to confuse wealth with entitlement, I have a problem… and so do they.

That said, I have come across any number of wealthy individuals who enjoy nothing more than lording their good fortune over the rest of humanity. More often than not, the wealthy who fall into this subset made their fortunes by being in the right place at the right time, for example dot-com millionaires and especially members of the lucky-sperm club.

In earlier sidelines of my life, I spent a fair amount of time hanging out with mirror on the wall street types, pseudo artists, purchased nobility and nouveau rich with a tendency to get coiffed in scented salons by people named Oscar at $500 a go.
In way too many cases, the source of their wealth could easily be traced back to university connections that landed them in the upper echelon of the equivalent of a pyramid scheme where, with hardly having to lift a finger, a fraction of a fraction of billions of dollars in transactions flowed daily into their Bond Street custom-stitched pockets.
I’ve learned that the inflatable wealthy not only expect full value for money, they want everyone to walk in their shadow to be of service and to cater to their every whim. Failure to show proper appreciation that you are in their company will, as sure as January 1 will ring in 2014, get you a dismissive sniff or, if it’s a bad hair day, a proper dressing down or worse

So where do we start with addressing entitlements. Where do we start telling President Obama that enough is enough, inspite of his new-awakened passion to alienate the wealthy into picking up their stretchers and move out in larger numbers than they already do these days. Well here is a rundown of what can be called today’s Entitlement Classes and their positions in the conflict.

Politicians are most definitely an entitlement class all by themselves. If you have any problem accepting that then it’s time to understand what you pay Washington for the pleasure of being your elected leaders. They make exemptions in hated laws to benefit their own and once they decide that politics is no longer their passion they are a class of individuals entitled to a long list of benefits. Including—should they rise high enough within the political machine—ready access to private jets and a lifelong pension.

On a lower level, while lifelong pensions have all but disappeared in the private sector, by virtue of just showing up at the office each day for a few years, many bureaucrats become entitled to the equivalent of tenure and, upon concluding their “public service,” a comfortable pension.

Remember the term coming into existence in the early 1980? My God I had just landed in the US, ready to take on a new chapter in my life and the first words I heard a crazy twenty-something woman utter in a whiney voice at the luggage inspection was : “But I deserve it!” After the initial shock I quickly learned to find it entertaining when observing the yuppie’s antics as they attempt to argue a plane back on schedule, or explain to a hotel manager that they deserve entitled treatment. Of course it becomes human greed that supports this entitlement attitude after a $20 bill quickly changes hands.

In my opinion, and yes I could be wrong, this sense of yuppie entitlement comes from the near certainty that never before in the history of the world has there been a generation that has had things as soft and sweet as the yuppies/baby boomers.
I remember a colleague in my real estate company who had just received his first Diners Club Card sometime in the mid 1970s. He actually waved the card under the maitre-d’s face when walking into a restaurant to impress his importance!

Most of us have had a lifetime of prosperity and peace – at least no wars in the calibre of World War II)

We got to go to college if we were so inclined, and we were pretty much ensured gainful employment whether we went to college or not. Unfortunately, a large number of yuppies don’t fully appreciate what an historical rarity such a long period of peace and prosperity is. They will be in for a rough awakening as Pax Yuppie is rapidly coming to an end. Their future expectations, understandably based on past experiences, are likely to be somewhat disappointed .

But even so there is a vague awakening about life’s realities, they continue to feel entitled to a life path free of serious bumps, though the unnerving sound of footsteps approaching down the empty hallway scratch at the edge of their collective consciousness.

Old People
Over the last century, responsibility for the care and feeding of the elderly has been steadily transferred from families to society at large. This alteration of the social contract, though likely springing from good intentions, is manifested in the widespread attitude that the state should provide at least a baseline level of support for the elderly, even if the state can’t actually afford it.

This sense of entitlement is underscored each election day when the oldsters turn out in droves to reward politicians who confirm them in their benefits, and punish those that even hint at curtailing same.

The Poor
Like the elderly, over the past century the social contract was redrafted to include a long list of benefits for individuals who steadily fail to achieve a certain income threshold. Collectively, the number of programs and their reach is staggering. To provide just one example, upwards of 50 million people in the United States are now entitled to purchase their daily bread using debit cards linked to the public treasury.

And then there are the special groups of Entitlement Classes and yes I realize I will offend a bunch of people in the various societal groups that need to be addressed but I would love to bring your attention to your fellow citizens who use their specialness to demand special rights and entitlements even though we all seem to at least get a sense of where this all his heading. The following entitlement solicitors only represent a handful in a society that has turned entitled, no matter the financial consequences. Here are just a few…

For example, though at its peak only 8% of American families owned slaves and the practice was terminated by constitutional amendment almost 150 years ago, many descendants of the slaves continue to believe they suffer trans-generational trauma and are entitled to government remediation programs without end. Entitlements here stretch into linguistic political correctness, but at least that usually does not carry a public price tag.

The forms the entitlements to minorities take vary from cold cash to preferential treatment in college admissions and a broad rainbow of other perks. Why, about a group of university graduate students consisting largely of people “of color” who apparently believe that their special status entitles them to be able to submit university-level work riddled with grammatical errors, protesting that being graded on grammar contributed to a “toxic racial climate.”

Sexual Orientation
A fairly substantial subset of the populace seem to want to define themselves based on their sexual preference. Live and let live, I say. But why it is that some think their sexual orientation entitles them to special treatment. Frankly that is something of a mystery to me. My close friends Ray and John who recently went to Massachussets to get married because Florida is such an ass backward state, once confided: We don’t want entitlements, just be treated like normal human beings with regards and respect.

In the absence of the draft, no one is forced to sign up for military duty, yet upwards of 180,000 young men and women do each year. Yet once they’re no longer needed or decide to follow other pursuits, they remain entitled to certain benefits for life. Not particularly large benefits, mind you, but special hospitals and a variety of programs to provide support need to be staffed and kept in place to provide this at a substantial cost to the tax-payer, because it’s free to them.

And then of course there’s the top brass who are cosseted in a system of institutional sycophancy replete with nervous salutes from the rank and file, and wining and dining by members of the military-industrial complex. The generals feel entitled to their billion-dollar toys and, mostly, they get them.
Does anyone ever wonder what the dozens of helicopter rides between Mayport and Kings Bay cost and even more importantly if we’re looking at necessity or entitlement when they incessantly come whopping over our beach with doors open and cameras ready on a sunny summer’s day?

Pretty Much Everyone Else.
Unlike earlier eras when self-reliance was a highly valued character trait, these days the vast majority of people in the US and other developed countries expect the government to provide benefits and services to cure all that ails and then some. From housing subsidies, to cash for clunker programs, everyone is entitled.

Off the top of my head just a few examples:

• The government’s exertions to keep our borrowing affordable by suppressing interest rates.
• The provision of free education and subsidies for college.
• the creation of enormous bureaucracies dedicated to ensuring the safety of everything from cars to drugs to food.
• And, increasingly, widespread medical coverage, including cheap medicine.
• Artists, musicians, farmers
• Prisoners of certain crimes
• Paid leave for government workers

Of course I could go on for days, because the list of entitlements is nearly endless as they are directly connected to interest groups. Again, I’m not taking a position on the merits of specific programs, simply pointing out that they exist and have grown far out of proportion over the years. Taken collectively, they have created a self perpetuating culture of entitlement. In my mind I often compare it to a Website I innocently subscribed to several years ago called They originally hooked me with a request to help out in animal abuse cases. I detest animal abuse and the people that practice it, so I was an easy subscription target. Over time, and that is the quintessential word, this website turned into a “take-a stance-on-everything-but mostly-liberal” website without any consideration for financial responsibility, asking me to support their opinion on about everything mankind can screw up or have a skewed opinion on, often drooling with ignorance and presenting entitlement as a god-given right.
Let me make this clear: In my book we are entitled to nothing other than what we have worked for and saved.

How and where to go from here?

If you accept that live has been immersed in an Age of Entitlement — which is not only widespread but ultimately unaffordable and, therefore, entirely consists of undeliverable promises, benefits, services, etc., then you may want to start imagining a glimpse of what lies ahead. And if you think in terms of the Hunger Games, then you’re still daydreaming in terms of entitlements. So be forewarned when I fear that the following will be the guaranteed reactions of the previously introduced entitlement classes.

The Politicians.
In an attempt to remain in power and to protect their own entitlements, the politicians can be expected to strike an increasingly populist tone—it’s always been that way. In time, pushed by the entitled masses to do more than just talk, expect the politicians to take off the gloves and begin instituting every manner of harebrained scheme to milk any group of taxpayers lacking the numbers required to provide political cover come election time.

The Yuppies.
Given that this demographic group is now heading toward the pasture and have been scared stiff by the slow-motion collapse under way, they’re going to do everything in their power to ensure their entitlements stay intact. Which is to say they won’t show up to vote for any party that pledges, upon being elected, to cut said entitlements. Ironically, they will be voting for the very politicians who, as a core reelection strategy, will demonize them and seek to clean them out of a good percentage of whatever net worth remains to them.

Old People.
Old people vote in droves, and so they count to the politicians… at least for the time being, which means there will be no serious attempt to reduce the massive entitlements they now enjoy.

The Poor.
Given the proven political efficacy of populist appeals, the odds of any (successful) politician thumping the podium in favor of cutting welfare, reducing food stamps or school lunch programs, etc., is approximately zilch. Far more likely is that the politicians will try to shove the financial implications of additional entitlements onto the backs of businesses. Which, in turn, will result in those businesses buying robots and deploying software to reduce their workforce. Just think how many transportation workers will become unemployed when Amazon starts delivering 86% of their sales (packages 5 Lbs and less) with drones.

Meanwhile, encouraged by the politicians, the nation’s poor will be emboldened in demanding more… or else. For the record, the official poverty level in the United States, which is defined as being the amount of money needed to buy a “minimally adequate” basket of goods and services according to the living standards of the 1960s, is currently set at $11,720 annually for a single person, $14,937 for a two-person family, and $23,492 for a family of four.

The latest data show that about 46 million US citizens fall below those levels, the largest number since records first began being kept over 50 years ago. Tellingly, that’s a 36% increase since 2000.

And who makes up the “poor” in the United States? Minorities!
For obvious reasons, the minority population now reflexively votes against the party of Lincoln. In the last presidential contest, a whopping 83% of minority voters cast their votes for the Democrats. This sort of political base is to be catered to, and so it will be. No cuts in entitlements here.

Sexual Orientation.
Likewise, those who favor being defined by their sexual preference prefer the Democrats by approximately a 3-to-1 margin. Given the Democrats are fully on board with populist, progressive legislation, expect no demands from this subset for reduced entitlements.

Cut military benefits? Weaken the military’s ability to respond? You must be joking! No one on either side of the political aisle would be stupid enough to advocate either. In time, the military budget will come under pressure—but only until someone in the military-industrial complex finds an excuse for a new war or, failing that, conjures up an imminent threat that must be countered.

…and then of course
The Wealthy.
Should the wealthy—those with feelings of entitlement or not—come to the conclusion that they’re going to be called upon to carry ever more water for rest of the citizenry, they will react just as they always have. Namely, by hiring the best tax lawyers and accountants possible and exploiting every available loophole (and there are always loopholes). And/or they’ll vote with their feet — moving themselves and, if push comes to shove, their businesses to friendlier shores.

In other words, there is no popular or political will to do anything other than maintain the status quo in this Age of Entitlement. Given that stark truth, all we as individuals can do at this point is sit back and watch the slow-motion train wreck unfold—which, for the record, I’ll be doing from afar. Avé cesar morituri te salute.

Jaguars Foundation Supports Brunswick Teen Center

Jaguars Foundation Supports Brunswick Teen Center

By Stan Cottle

Amelia Island, FL – A grant from the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation is making it possible for teens to learn life skills in a new way.

In November, 2013, the innovative In Search of Me Café life skills program begins helping teens at the Elizabeth F. Correll Teen Center (ECTC) in Brunswick, Georgia.

“Through our JAGS Teen Talk program, the Jaguars Foundation promotes venues, such as In Search of Me Café, that support teens in making positive choices that lead to success, and avoid the pitfalls of risky behavior and poor choices that are obstacles to being successful.”
Peter M. Racine, President
Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation

The ECTC, a unit of the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Georgia, is a state-of-the-art, purpose-built teen center that serves approximately 120 teens. The facility offers teens a wide range of enrichment opportunities including tutoring, leadership development, and with the addition of the In Search of Me Café program, life skills learning.

In Search of Me Café is a comprehensive, interactive, media-rich life skills learning program that helps today’s teens address problems, communicate thoughts and ideas in a like-minded social network, and seek outside help in finding solutions to issues such as bullying, peer pressure, self esteem, substance abuse, underage drinking and more.

Content for the curriculum-based program lives on a robust website that can be viewed at

Teens who participate in the In Search of Me Café program will learn how to approach difficult issues by asking questions and using the program’s content and resource links to discover they have the power to solve their own problems. The program intends to help teens live more productive lives, thereby reducing the substantial social and economic burden for communities in the future.

“We feel the best way to help teens manage their problems and prepare for focused, productive and fulfilling lives is to provide them with age specific, peer-to-peer methods for helping themselves.”
Stan Cottle, Founder/Director
In Search of Me, Inc.

In Search of Me Café is managed and operated by In Search of Me, Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation based in Florida. To learn how you can help teens, contact Stan Cottle at 904-476-4302, or visit

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A1A Wealth Management, Inc. Moving to 
River Capital Advisors, L.C.

Mark Dennis Transitions to River Capital Advisors

Press Release: Mark Dennis of A1A Wealth Management

One of the challenges associated with running a solo financial planning practice is deciding when and how to expand operations while keeping in mind the best interests of my clients and preserving the personal touch along the way. With this in mind, I am pleased to announce that my independent financial planning services will soon expand substantially, offering access to an experienced multi-disciplinary team of Certified Financial Planner™ professionals, Certified Public Accountants, Chartered Financial Analysts, and more.

Effective December 9, 2013, I will begin transitioning my solo financial planning practice at A1A Wealth Management, Inc. into the independent registered investment advisory firm of River Capital Advisors, L.C. located in Jacksonville, FL, where I will join their team as a wealth manager. Our two firms have much in common, including an independent fee-only approach to asset management and a dedication to fiduciary responsibility where we keep the best interests of clients ahead of our own. More information about River Capital Advisors, L.C. is available at their web site:

In addition to their team of financial planning and asset management professionals, River Capital Advisors is an affiliate of the locally-owned public accounting firm, Smoak, Davis, and Nixon LLP. Organized in 1924, this esteemed accounting firm is one of the oldest in Northeast Florida.  The current financial services team has over 150 years of combined professional experience with which to assist clients across a variety of investment, tax, and financial planning needs.

Mark Dennis who is also this year’s Sunrise Rotary Club president sums the transition up as very complementary: “Combining my business with River Capital Advisors now gives my clients access to a team of financial planners (instead of just one), along with a group of local tax experts and investment managers.”

If you would like to know more about this exciting development or wish to touch base regarding your current financial planning and investment management needs, please give Mark a call at 904-583-1887.

Six Simple Ways to Value a Stock

Six quick and easy ways to determine stock values

Investors are always searching for methods to help them determine whether a company is worth investing in. There are many means of stock valuation, some simple, some more complex.1

Why is stock valuation so important? If the market price of the company’s stock is greater than the company’s intrinsic value, an investor might choose to stay away. If the market price of the company’s stock is less than the company’s intrinsic value, the investor may choose to buy the stock.

Here are six key valuation methods:

• Price-to-Earnings Ratio (P/E)

The price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) is a valuation method used to compare a company’s current share price with its per-share earnings. Its formula is calculated by dividing its market value per share by its earnings per share. The P/E is one of the most widely used ratios, and it is used to compare the financial performance of different companies, industries, and markets. The company’s forecast P/E (its P/E for the upcoming year) is generally considered more important than its historical P/E.

• Price-to-Earnings Growth Ratio (PEG)

The P/E ratio is a snapshot of where a company is, and the PEG ratio is a graph plotting where it has been. The PEG ratio incorporates the historical growth rate of the company’s earnings. This ratio also tells you how your stock stacks up against another stock. The PEG ratio is calculated by taking the P/E ratio of a company and dividing it by the year-over-year growth rate of its earnings.

• Price-to-Book Ratio (P/B)

The price-to-book ratio measures a company’s market price in relation to its book value. Its formula is calculated by dividing the company’s stock by its book value per share. Book value can be found in the company’s balance sheet, usually listed as “stockholder equity.” It represents the value of a company’s total assets subtracted by its total liabilities. The P/B does not consider the actual value of the assets, only the nondepreciated portion of the assets. Like most ratios, it’s best to compare P/B ratios within industries. For example, tech stocks often trade above book value, while financial stocks often trade below book value.

• Price-to-Sales Ratio (P/S)

The price-to-sales ratio helps determine a stock’s relative valuation. Its formula is calculated by dividing the company’s price per share by its annual net sales per share. Price-to-sales ratio is considered a relative valuation measure because it’s only useful when it’s compared with the P/S ratio of other firms. The P/S ratio varies dramatically by industry, so when comparing P/S ratios, make sure the firms are within the same industry.

• Return on Equity (ROE)

The ROE is calculated by dividing a company’s earnings per share by its book values per share. The ROE is a measure of how well the company is utilizing its assets to make money. Understanding the trend of ROE is important because it indicates whether the company is improving its financial position or not.

• Dividend Payout Ratio

This ratio is calculated by dividing the dividends paid by a company by its earnings. The dividend payout ratio can also be calculated as dividends per share divided by earnings per share. A high dividend payout ratio indicates that the company is returning a large percentage of company profits back to the shareholders. A low dividend payout ratio indicates that the company is retaining most of its profits for internal growth.

Holiday Health Reminder

Holiday Health ReminderNow is the time to pay attention to your holiday health and here is a holiday health reminder : you must remain constantly aware of your food portions and your physical activity while avoiding unnecessary stress. Right? Ha ha, yes… it can be done.

Celebrating the holidays with family and friends tends to lead us down Temptation Street full of sweet desserts, heavy dinners and alcoholic indulgence. ‘Tis the season to eat more, spend more and stress more… all while working out less. Our schedules are disrupted with holiday parties, family get-togethers, high calorie gifts, financial strains, out of town guests, entertaining and other stress inducers…

Gaining just two or three pounds during the holidays lead to January resolutions that are often never met, leaving you adding on the pounds year after year, after year.

Trying to lose weight now, during the holidays is not often successful, but maintaining your current weight and NOT putting on new pounds through New Year’s Eve – is considered a success.

Count your calories and don’t skip your regular workouts and you should be fine… if you do indulge, cut back on your next meals and take in more exercise.

…and get plenty of sleep. Those late nights will take their toll in a hurry!

If you find your health spinning out of control this holiday season, seek the help of a professional trainer, a reputable gym, or a dietary advisor; you may find that by being mindful of your diet and excercise you can give yourself the best gift of all… a healthier you this holiday season.

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