Diane Sawyer, Blog #22, March-April 2015

Diane Sawyer Portrait

Hello to all my loyal newsletter readers. Welcome to my new readers, including several I met recently on an Easter cruise to the Mexican island of Cozumel, with my family. I hope all of you enjoy this March-April 2015 edition.

Fondly,
Diane Sawyer

Writing News

Montauk Mystery Montauk Steps Tomoka Mystery Cinderella Murders Montauk Cave

The latest news from Amazon’s marketing specialists: they included the Kindle version of three of my novels in a special promo, and it was a big success. Another bit of news: Amazon just launched the Kindle Unlimited version of all five of my novels in Canada and Mexico. Hooray! Happy Reading!
Previous news: My web site address is http://dianewsawyer.com (Note that the middle initial “w” must be included to avoid confusion with Diane Sawyer, the newscaster.)

Please visit my web site and share my enthusiasm for my friend Roy Baker and his expertise in setting up everything and including his gorgeous photo of a sunset at Lake Maggiore, near my home. All the previous blog/newsletters are there except the last one (I can’t keep up with myself). This one will soon join them. The hardcover, paperback and e-book editions of my novels are available on Amazon and other on-line sites—and you can even get to them directly via my web site by clicking on the photo of the book cover. That Roy, my web designer, is so clever. Happy Reading!

 

This and That

My last newsletter, #21, which told about my trip around the world (remotely) to take care of repairs to my desktop computer and printer, received a large response from readers. Some of you admitted that you laughed out loud. Others wondered if we’re better off or worse off with all the electronics in our life. Two said, “We’re all in the same boat.” One added that, “And the boat is sinking fast.” Well, I have an update to that little essay I entitled “It Takes a Village…and So Much More.” I am naming the update “From Global Tech to Old School.” Here’s what happened.

Let me pick up the story at the point where Keith, the tech guy, finished the job and left my house. I then completed my newsletter and sent it out to all of you. Let me remind you Keith was from Tampa, but he was assigned to my home in St. Petersburg from the main office in Louisiana via additional offices in the Caribbean, to Tampa, on to California, back to Louisiana and overseas to India, before u-turning to Louisiana and ending up in Tampa. So, Keith went on his way. Hours later and I noticed that he had accidentally left behind a very expensive-looking piece of equipment that he had used to fix/remove/repair something or other that was electronic.

Feeling sorry for him and figuring he would have to replace the equipment with his own money, I called the home office of the service center in Louisiana. The contact person who answered told me it was not the company’s practice to have customers get in touch with technicians personally. I explained why I was calling. She allowed the call, but said she would have to make it a 3-person call. You guessed it. I now was transferred to the above list of places from Louisiana, looping here and there, listening to each conversation between my contact person and her contact person on every leg of the trip and ending up in Tampa, without ever setting down my phone. My contact person said this whole experience was “so cute,” hearing a customer and a technician about to actually speak to each other on a telephone. This apparently was a first for her.

I asked Keith if he would like to drive to my house (30-45 minutes) or would he prefer that I mail the piece of equipment to him. He gave me his home address. Next thing you know, I am wrapping the piece of equipment carefully and driving to the post office (When was the last time you went to the post office? Is there even one anywhere near your home?). Then I stood in line, watching the package as it was weighed, stamped, and placed in a large canvas receptacle, with promises from a live person that it would soon be setting out on a road trip to Tampa. Very Old School, but very effective.

Another This and That

Recently I had the delightful experience of taking a Math and Garden Tour at the Dali Museum here in St. Petersburg as part of the ongoing training for docents. We had two excellent teachers, a math professor and a garden expert who related math principles to the plant world. We will incorporate the information into our tours in the galleries and apply it to several of Salvador Dali’s paintings. Why am I telling you this? Because there are many excellent sites that you can Google and be amazed at the math skills of plants!*

Okay, they don’t actually claim to know math. However, judging by pinecones, sunflowers, and strawberries, to name a few–plants have a certain mathematical arrangement of leaves that actually illustrate the Fibonacci Sequence, a special pattern of numbers, named after Leonardo Fibonacci. Why him? In 1202 he looked into how fast rabbits could breed in ideal circumstances. (You might need to know that rabbits are able to mate at the age of 1 month.) He saw a particular pattern in the resulting numbers in the rabbit population: 1,1,2,3,5,8, 13,21,34,55,89 and so on and that allowed him to predict the next number, 144. (Each number combines the previous number, so 1 and 1 equals 2; 2 and 1 equals 3; 3 and 2 equals 5; 5 and 3 equals 8 etc.) The same is true for plants. Just check out the petals of a daisy and you’ll see what Fibonacci was talking about. It doesn’t stop at petals and leaves. Many plants produce new branches in quantities based on the Fibonacci Sequence as well.

So what is going on? The plants are maximizing the amount of sunlight that can get to each leaf by adhering to those principles. It’s all about survival. As for Dali, DaVinci, and many other artists, incorporating the Fibonacci Sequence into their work was an attempt to make the painting as beautiful as possible. Look at their masterpieces and I am sure you will agree.

*I don’t have a degree in math and I know very little about gardening, so I would like to mention the names of several topics that you can Google to learn the facts from experts and see gorgeous examples provided by Mother Nature. (Mother’s Day is coming up soon, so let’s give her special thanks.) Google these: Fibonacci number and spirals in plants; Plant world and Fibonacci Sequence; Fibonacci in Nature by Nikkat Praveen; Images of Fibonacci in Nature. And while you’re at it, check out Fibonacci and those rabbits too.

Don’t be surprised if gardens, parks, and yards suddenly seem more beautiful to you. You may even look at math principles with new interest. Have fun!

Mother’s Day

A few facts: Mother’s Day in the US is always celebrated on the second Sunday in May. The same is true in Australia, New Zealand, Canada (it’s their most popular festival after Christmas and Valentine’s Day), and India (it’s relatively new there). In Mexico it is celebrated on May 10th. Ireland has chosen the 4th Sunday of Lent. And the UK goes with the 4th Sunday in May. Many celebrate the day the same way we do here in the United States with cards, flowers, a telephone call, a special dinner, and sometimes a special outing, like a picnic. Australia and the United States have a special tradition about wearing a carnation in celebration of their mother. A white carnation indicates that she is deceased and a colored carnation, usually red, means that the person’s mother is alive.

 

Cooking Delights

Chicken Soup

Great for lunch, dinner, or a snack in between meals, you can’t go wrong with chicken soup. However, I did. I set out all the ingredients (or thought I had) only to find out that I didn’t have any chicken broth in the house. Rather than drive to a store, I prepared this recipe in a skillet without broth and served it on dinner plates. My husband and I enjoyed it and I would definitely serve it again. The hearty soup is delicious too. Choices, choices. Chicken soup or chicken skillet dinner. Go for it!

Ingredients

4 cups chicken broth
4 oz. dried medium shell pasta
1 14 ½-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 15-16-oz can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup (or more) cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 cup fresh arugula
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped fresh basil
Grated cheese

Preparation (for soup)

In a 4-quart pot, bring broth to boiling. Add pasta and undrained tomatoes. Return to boiling, reduce heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Stir in beans, chicken, arugula, and olive oil. Heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with grated cheese and basil leaves. Serve in bowls.

Preparation (for skillet dinner). Additional ingredients: onion powder and garlic powder/ or fresh chopped onions, sautéed lightly, and garlic. If you have left-over cooked peas and carrots in the refrigerator, feel free to add them too.

Prepare pasta according to package directions and drain.
In a large skillet, place pasta and tomatoes, beans, chicken, arugula, and olive oil. Heat through. Stir in grated cheese and basil leaves. Heat through again. Season to taste with salt, pepper, onion, and garlic. Heat through one final time. Serve on plates. Bon Appétit!

 

Helpful Advice Regarding Identity Theft in Florida

(Even if you don’t live in Florida, you may find this information useful.)

My husband and I have friends, neighbors, and family members who faced tax identity theft this year. Here is an article my husband came upon to help people in the same situation. I am passing it along to you…

The most common type of identity theft is Tax Identity Theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission. In most cases you don’t know that your data has been compromised until you get a rejection to your tax forms because someone has already filed using your Social Security number. You can expect it will take 6 months to a year to clean up the mess.

The IRS lost an estimated $5.8 billion in fraudulent refund claims in 2013, while blocking about $24 billion in attempts, according to Government Accountability Office reports. What can you do?

Florida is the number one state in the country for tax ID theft. Therefore, the IRS has a pilot program for issuing PINs that includes Floridians. Apply to www.irs.gov for a PIN.

If you are a potential victim because of a stolen purse, data breach, etc., go to the IRS site; file Form 14039, “Identity Theft Affidavit”; and check Box 2.

Do not react to any emails, attachments or phone calls that ask for personal information. No government agency or bank will ever contact you in that manner.

Practice cyber-hygiene. Keep your anti-virus software updated. Change passwords frequently. Don’t dispose of papers containing your personal ID information carelessly.

Fondly,
Diane

@ Copyright 2015 by Diane Sawyer. All rights reserved.

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