Melina illustration friday - tea
A tea plant.
From The Banterist:
Automated Payments Pose Growing Problem
as Practice Skyrockets, Consumers Encounter Obstacles To Canceling Charges; Credit vs. Debit
By Carol Hymowitz and Elizabeth Bernstein for the Wall Street Journal
February 22, 2006
As more people make use of automatic payments to pay their bills, some consumers are discovering how difficult it can be to cancel these arrangements.
Debt counselors, lawyers and Better Business Bureaus around the country are hearing an increasing number of complaints from consumers having problems stopping the recurring bills charged to their bank accounts and credit cards.
Many people seeking to halt these automatic payments are confused by the rules they must follow, which differ depending on whether payments are linked to a bank account or credit card.
Some people have filed lawsuits against vendors or their banks to keep the charges from recurring; in December, Internet service provider America Online, a unit of Time Warner Inc., agreed to pay as much as $25 million to settle a consumer class-action lawsuit over the company's billing practices.
While automatic payment arrangements are easy to set up, consumers and advisers say they can be difficult to cancel. Because vendors are reluctant to give up the stream of payments that come with automatic debits, "they will make it as difficult as possible," says Elizabeth Warren, a law professor at Harvard.
Credit-card companies say some consumers mistakenly believe they need to contact only their credit-card issuer to stop recurring charges. In fact, it's up to the consumer who links payments to a credit card to contact the vendor to get them to discontinue regular charges.
One action consumers can take is to dispute a recurring charge in writing within 60 days after it shows up on a statement. Doing this each month, however, requires vigilance and effort on the part of the consumer.
Under federal law, a bank must stop making automatic deductions from your account if you so instruct them, either orally or in writing, at least three days before the payment is made.
However, some banks also require written instructions, which they must tell consumers to provide. Once canceled, the bank is required to stop all future payments. It's advisable for consumers to also notify a merchant but it is not required.
Some consumers have resorted to lawsuits to stop automatic payments.
Some experts advise that consumers are better off paying bills online via their bank's Web site ... The automatic plans also could result in the consumer relinquishing negotiating leverage with vendors or landlords. For example, if you have a leak in your apartment and your landlord won't fix it, you can't hold back rent until the problem is fixed.
After watching a telenovela's villains get away with murder and more for months, we start yearning for their inevitably dreadful ends.
Horrible deaths and satisfying comeuppances of villians - great idea. Here are the ones that come to mind:
Gata Salvaje: One evil character (I think her name was Eduarda) was eaten by alligators. The other villian, Patricio, tried to kill himself by jumping off a building but he didn't pick a high enough building. He survived but was completely paralyzed. It's not clear whether he is aware of what has happened to him but it is suggested that he is and they just end the novela with him that way being cared for as a penance by this mother who abandoned him as an infant on a beach.
Velo de Novia: This started out as a great telenovela that got totally messed up when they killed everyone off in the middle and basically started with a new cast. Azael, a doctor who was a homicidal maniac, is finally arrested. He tries to escape from prison by getting his evil daughter, Raquela, to give him a drug that makes him appear to be dead (shades of Romeo and Juliet here). She screws it up, gives him the wrong drug or something. She thinks he is actually dead and then he wakes up in his coffin unable to move or speak and I think he is cremated.
Raquela (who was extemely vain about her beauty and haughty about her social position) gets sent to prison with her aunt (who is currently playing Victoria in Alborada). Raquela is horribly burned and disfigured when trying to kill someone else in prison. She doesn't die but being hideous and in prison with common criminals is pretty bad.
Ricarda, the socially prominent mother of the male lead Jose Manuel, is so upset that her son is going to marry a mere costuera (seamstress) that she shoots and kills him at his wedding. She then goes insane, is put in a sanatorium, tries to kill another inmate by setting her room on fire and is burned to death when her room is set on fire in turn.
Of course, you've already done Entre el Amor y el Odio, which had two great deaths - the leper and and the horribly burned Napoleon impersonator.
Apuesta Por Un Amor: This had several "bad guys" but Álvaro was the worst. Álvaro - the rapist, murderer and drunk - got his come-uppance when, in the end, they all found out that he was behind all the evil that had been done and sent him to jail where he was rapped then had his eyes gouged out by a fellow inmate. Gross and disturbing but deserved, imho!
Amarte Es Mi Pecado: Isaura, who had her step-daughter's baby traded for a dead baby so she'd think it was dead and therefore Isaura could use her to make money (if you saw the scene of her with the dead baby you know what an awesome actriss Yadhira Carillo is, that was a really hard scene to watch). This was my first novella and I didn't understand much Spanish so I missed a lot of the plot. But in the end Isaura ended up stuck in the back of a semi-truck with all the money she stole and extorted, unable to get out and, though we didn't see her die, it is presumed that she died in the back of the truck... probably from the heat and maybe lack of oxygen.
AWFUL ENDINGS for villians--but in this case, not death--- brings to mind Rubi's fall from the top of the staircase resulting in her living out her days with a totally deformed, hard-to-look-at face and body. Because of her beguiling beauty, she had been able to bewitch everyone, good and bad, so the ending was pretty satisfying -- except, of course, for the fact that her daughter then carried out her evil doings many years later.
Second example was the fate of Efrain, villanous son of Rebecca in Inocente De Ti, who ends up a quadrapalegic and cannot speak, communicate, or move and must live in this state for the rest of his life -- this after unspeakable complicity in his Mom's crimes. His mom, Rebecca ends up in an insane asylum and her lovely roommates smother her to death with a pillow, which is the way she killed her sister, her servant and one other (?).
Oh- another good example was the death of Leonardo, the vilano horible in Clase 406 (2003?) who died in the middle of the desert--no food, no water, no one anywhere nor would there ever be anyone who could find him. He stumbles around for days, several episodes--and that was glorious to watch. Amazing how I can't remember what I went upstairs to retrieve, but I can remember how LEONARDO died in the desert 4 years ago in a telenovela!
El Maleficio: The main character, Enrique de Martino, practices the black arts and murders many, both through witchcraft and more traditional methods like hired hitmen and electrocution. He finally gets his come-uppance when his house literally burns down while he's trying to offer his new wife's son, a natural born medium, as an ally to the demon he serves. The boy is rescued by his dad and Enrique dies as his house implodes.
La Venganza: The main character, Maria, is poor and ends up marrying the guy from the big house. His sister-in-law disapproves of this and frames Maria by claiming she stole her bracelet, even though she herself dropped it into a mud pile on Maria's doorstep and told her she should "pick it up with her teeth so her hands wouldn't tarnish it." Maria goes to jail and her little hut is burned out with her grandfather in it. Maria eventually meets up with her birth father (who is, as is the case in many soaps with missing parents, a millionaire) and buys the big hacienda next door and buys off her former in-laws' old debts and then asks her old sister-in-law to lift the IOUs with HER teeth from a mud puddle she's had her gardner stirring all day! At the end she chickens out, but the look on the villainess' face is priceless.
Cuna de Lobos: The Larios family is full of evil intrigue as led by the family matriarch who wears a patch on her eye to match all her outfits. We later find out she never really lost her eye, but just pretended - in order to keep her stepson (who had accidentally poked her in the eye with a top allegedly poking her eye out) racked with guilt and totally traumatized. The novela starts with the death of her husband (who she herself poisoned) and the will stating that her son cannot receive his inheritance until he produces a child. We then find out his wife, Vilma, is unable to conceive. He and mom plot to stage a fake wedding to an employee from their company, the one who found dad dead, and impregnating her, then having her killed by the nurse who helped deliver the baby. The woman survives, eventually marries the stepson and gets her baby back. The child was originally named "Edgar" after Vilma's dad (and they all call him "el pequeño Edgar" or Little Edgar), but when his mom got him back she named him "Braulio" after HER dad. At the very end, little Braulio and his younger half-brother are running through the mansion and sneak into grandma's old room. Braulio grabs one of her old patches and when his brother asks "Braulio, what are you doing," he turns to him wearing the eye patch and says "I am not Braulio, I am Little Edgar." It's pretty eerie.
As for Ruth's question about "bad guys winning," I can only think of some endings lefts as enigmas. In "El Maleficio," after the house implodes and burns down, the portrait of the evil ancestor who DeMartino uses to contact the demon survives the fire and its eyes light up in red, as he usually did when something evil was about to happen.
I missed most of La Virgen Esposa, but my husband and I caught the last few episodes. One of the villains is in a shoot-out with the hero and heroine. They are dangerously close to a sheer cliff. At one point (as nearly as we can remember) the bad guy either lost his own gun or threw it down melodramatically. He then picked up a ROCK, rather than the gun, staggered forward with murder in his eyes ... and fell over the cliff.
My husband's pet phrase for an act of sheer mindboggling stupidity is now "Bringing a rock to a gun fight."
This doesn't involve death of villians but is an example of the incredible silliness of "novelas" in death scenes. In her summary of Entre el Amor y el Odio, Melinama mentioned that even after being shot and falling off a tall building, characters could still speak their last words. Well, in Velo de Novia, the original plot involved a heart transplant. José Manuel, a popular bicycle racer, is engaged to the evil Raquela but falls in love with her saintly sister, Ángeles. Meanwhile, he is loved by afar by Andrea who is poor and has a heart condition. Ángeles is injured in an auto accident and is declared BRAIN DEAD.This enables her heart to be transplanted into Andrea. In the hospital, I don't think Ángeles even had a bandage on her head, only the tasteful nasal oxygen tube. In spite of being brain dead, she is nevertheless able to speak with José Manuel and bid him a tender farewell before sort of staring vacantly into space. It was moving but really silly.
My telenovela is far from over but I've already started speculating happily about what kind of terrible end its villains will come to.
I went to visit a friend who lives in a beautiful rustic packhouse on an old tobacco farm in Durham. It used to be part of a little batch of farm outbuildings inhabited by hippies, but the hippies mostly burned down the rest of them by accident. From the rolling fields, one has an excellent view, over hill and dale, all the way to the Shearon Harris Nuclear Facility.
Owing to a mothering disaster, I didn't get to watch till after midnight, hence I've had no time to proof this. Read at your own risk!
Ben Franklin wrote a broadside in 1719 about the sea battle between Lieutenant Maynard and the pirate Captain Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard. I recently set it to music and my band is performing it in Connecticut soon.
1. My VCR did not record the show tonight (Tuesday night), so I missed it. Could one of you please send along a summary for me to post? (UPDATE:I have added the summary which Sylvia put into the comments into the main body of the post. Thanks!)
2. Soon I will be posting a list of villains who met with terrible ends in telenovelas. If you have one leave it in the comments, or email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will include it!
3. I will be traveling and unable to watch Alborada in early March! I'll post the recap for March 1 and then will probably be out of commission until March 13. I will try to watch sometimes while I'm gone, and I will try to leave my VCR programmed to tape the episodes I miss - if it succeeds, I'll post my recaps later. But if the power goes out, I'll have nothing. If YOU would like to do a guest recap or two, leave your contact info in the comments section or email me at email@example.com
From Baker-Kohn, these ads: "Terry's father, William Baker, was an illustrator during the 1940's and 50's. In his search for visual reference he clipped thousands of pictures from newspapers and magazines. on the backs of those pictures we found the following ads and are posting them for your amusement."
Which Cut Is Older? (It's a Trick Question)
by Marian Burros for the New York Times, February 21, 2006
If some of the meat in supermarkets is looking rosier than it used to, the reason is that a growing number of markets are selling it in airtight packages treated with a touch of carbon monoxide to help the product stay red for weeks. [The steaks in the picture were both red when bought on Feb. 3. Kept refrigerated, they were then photographed on Feb. 16.]
This form of "modified atmosphere packaging," a technique in which other gases replace oxygen, has become more widely used as supermarkets eliminate their butchers and buy precut, "case-ready" meat from processing plants.
The carbon monoxide is itself harmless at the levels being used in the treated packaging. But opponents say that the process, which is also used to keep tuna rosy, allows stores to sell meat that is no longer fresh, and that consumers would not know until they opened the package at home and smelled it. Labels do not note whether meat has been laced with carbon monoxide. ... the bright red color could mask spoilage and dangerous bacteria in older meat or meat that has not been kept at the proper temperature.
"This is what is going to happen in the meat business," said John A. Catsimatidis, chairman and chief executive of Gristede's. "The meat looks great. It looks as red as the day it was cut."
Processors say treated ground meat can be sold for 28 days after leaving the plant, and solid cuts for 35 days. The agribusiness company Cargill says it has sold 100 million packages in the last year.
Representative John D. Dingell of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has asked the F.D.A. to explain its approval of the process.
This weekend I went up to see my little brother Zed at college. I baked him a pineapple upside down cake and carried it up with plates and knives, since students don't usually have these things. It was a good recipe.
Baby Boomers take notice: hippies no longer make up a full movement on campus, but have evolved into their own ethnicity to join in the fun of modern-day liberal arts schools' pluralism, taking a proud and legitimate place alongside science nerds, Korean Christians, athletes and Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queers (LGBTQ's).
Dear Quean or Jinn (whichever one you are today), it is highly unadvisable to percolate one's coffee libations with ordinary paper hand towels. Such towels are not engineered to maximize the aroma of the arabica bean. Besides, your creative (albeit misguided) utilization of paper towels jeopardizes the jobs of union coffee filter workers. Enclosed are a quantity of the appropriate devices in question. Please consider this advice carefully. I have only your palate and good taste in mind.
I saw this excellent lamp, for sale at eBay, at BoingBoing. The seller writes:
Here is a lamp in the shape of a nuclear power cooling tower with large 3/4 inch raised letters proclaiming it to be from Three Mile Island! It is a ceramic base about 10-1/2 inches tall and 9 inches across the base.I'd bid on it if I hadn't been spending so much money on art supplies lately... but what I want to know is, who made this? And are there any more?
The lamp shade has a picture of all four cooling towers from the Three Mile Island power generating station and has the caption "THREE MILE ISLAND NUCLEAR GENERATING STATION - MIDDLETOWN, PENNSYLVANIA". The total height of the lamp and shade is 23-1/2 inches.
The lamp base is tan in color with striking brown shading. the shade is white with gold trim and the picture on it is about 12 inches across. The lamp actually works - it's a "three way" set up (low, medium, high) but the plug is not polarized. The lamp base is in excellent shape with the statement "NUCLEAR ACCIDENT - MARCH 28 - 1979 - MIDDLETOWN - PA" on the bottom ( you have to turn it upside down to see it). The shade is in great physical condition with some stains on the inside and outside.
It makes quite a statement and quite possibly goes with any decor!
After I made my crazy inept spiderweb deerfence repair, I invented the recipe below. It was a winner. Not low-calorie.
UPDATE: Immediately after I posted my vent about the deer which, much against my will, spent the night inside my fence, I dressed for battle in scruffy clothes and work boots. Halfway down the stairs I could already see the interloper through the kitchen window, masticating in his antlered glory.
I don't have much time.