Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

sonic shadow 031316

They lurk in the shadows, waiting to rob you blind…


I have nothing against people who buy useless crap at discount outlets. Unless they’ve stolen my bank information to do it.

You know who you are. So do I. As do the people I’ve reported you to.

“Don’t share your bank information with anyone – EVER!” said my mother, who worked at a bank, when my sister and I got our first checking accounts as preteens. And I never have. But somebody got it anyway.

About 15 million Americans are victims of identity theft every year. While many of them take responsible steps to protect their information, the world is making it increasingly easy for thieves to get it. Swipe your card, scan a code, sign a screen with your finger. Convenient for us, a new way in for thieves.

So what do you do if your bank account is compromised? My first step was to freak out and message a friend who works at my bank who reassured me the bank knew what to do. You can skip that step and do this: 

Notify your bank immediately. Give as many details as you can – how you noticed it, the amount that appears to be gone, dates, unknown names on your statement. 

Close the affected accounts. The longer the account is open, the more you stand to lose. 

Report it to authorities. Include check verification companies and make it a national/international alert. The Federal Trade Commission has helpful resources at

Be vigilant with your accounts. Check them daily; it’s not paranoid, it’s proactive. Use all the security features your bank offers. Be careful about using third party vendors to order checks and other materials.

Though I hope my situation is resolved, I’m still wary. Is that really just an impatient fellow customer crowding me at the self check-out lane or a would-be thief eyeballing my passcode? I’m not taking any chances. Back up, buddy, while I cover the keypad with my hand.

Amtrak allows each passenger to bring two carry-on bags. I am not wasting one on technology.

I almost did. I had to have some way to carry our two cell phones, my work Blackberry, my digital camera, two chargers, and potentially one of our two laptops to Seattle, didn’t I?

Next week, we leave for our first vacation in four years. To be fair, the trip in 2009 was actually a work conference for me with a couple of extra days tacked on for sightseeing. Which makes our last real vacation a trip to Vegas in 2001. My husband was there to play in the International 8-Ball Pool Championships. I went along to celebrate my 35th birthday at the largest margarita bar on the Strip.

I have trouble both relaxing and disconnecting. Between my two jobs, I’m plugged in nearly all the time with voice-tracking my show, answering email, working on projects, maintaining a website, and monitoring half a dozen social media sites. I’m rarely sans technology.

The train trip from Minot to Seattle will take 27 hours.  Plenty of time to get caught up on work and if I did manage to snap a picture or two, with all that hardware, I’d have the technological means to post them instantly and update my status and tweet about how great it is to take a break from it all.

That’s what I was thinking. Right up until my friend Kathy said, “Take lots of pictures so you can show me when you get back.”

That’s how vacations used to be, before cell phones and digital cameras and social media. You spent the time seeing new places, trying new things and enjoying the company of the people you were with. Then you’d come home, drop off six rolls of film and wait a week to see if you caught that perfect sunset over the ocean or a frame-worthy picture of the family by the Disneyland sign, with all eyes open and everybody smiling. Or something even better, a memory you didn’t even know you were capturing. It was the anticipation, the waiting, that made the excitement of the trip linger even after it was over.

We’ll be boarding the train with one cell phone each, a digital camera and the universal charger. What will I do with all the quiet? Scribble in my travel journal, talk face to face with people, and snap a picture or two. Who knows? Maybe if it works out, I won’t have to wait so many years to do it again.

Here are my favorite “surprise catch” photos from the years when I took regular vacations:

Sunrise over the bay in Corpus Christi

Sunrise over the bay in Corpus Christi

Giant ants at the Denver Botanical Gardens

Giant ants at the Denver Botanical Gardens

Steam clock in Vancouver, which for some reason always makes me think of Dr. Who.

Steam clock in Vancouver, which for some reason always makes me think of Dr. Who.


Sunrise silhouette in Santa Fe

Sunrise silhouette in Santa Fe

And the obligatory "family posing by the sign" shot. Apparently, I wasn't very patient back in those days, either.

And the obligatory “family posing by the sign” shot. Apparently, I wasn’t very patient back in those days, either.

What’s your favorite vacation memory and did you capture it on film?