By Kelly Sargent
Over the past few weeks here in Central Iowa, temperatures have fluctuated by 40 and even 50 degrees!! Going from a high of 35 Fahrenheit one day to a low of 15 below the next. Bottom line: you need to be prepared. Here are a few tips for surviving, sometimes literally, in cold and snowy weather.
Cold Weather Driving Tips
Tips for Driving in the Snow
By Kelly Sargent
Have you been getting text messages notifying you that such-and-such company has a “reward” or gift card for you? Paul and I have been getting one from “ATT “ (notice it’s not AT&T) about every other day. The message says, “ATT Free Msg: November bill is paid. Thanks, Here’s a little gift for you: . . . “ There are more words after that, but I never click on it to see what else it says because I know it’s a scam.
For awhile I was getting frequent text messages supposedly from Home Depot offering me a “reward”. My guess is that the perpetrators targeted me using the Home Depot name because we had made a large purchase from the company some months before, probably in their minds making it more likely that I'd fall for it.
Speaking of gift cards, the Better Business Bureau issued a bulletin warning about gift cards scams — not the offer of a ‘free’ one as we were just discussing, but ones that are available for purchase either online or in stores.
Here are their tips and cautions:
Beware of obscure websites advertising gift cards for popular retailers at steep discounts. These websites may be using these offers to steal payment card numbers or other personal information. Instead, go directly to the merchant and purchase a card from them.
Also be wary of websites that offer to check your gift card's balance. Some websites that claim to check your gift card balance are really a means of stealing money off your card. These sites ask for your card’s ID number and PIN or security code, and use the information to drain the money off your card.
It you're buying a physical gift card, look carefully at the packaging for any tears, wrinkles, or other indications of tampering, and see if the PIN is exposed. Thieves are known to remove gift cards from the display rack and record the numbers associated with that card, including the activation PIN. If anything looks suspicious, it’s best to take a different card and turn in the compromised card to the store’s customer service desk.
Treat a gift card like cash. If it's lost or stolen, report it to the issuer immediately. Most issuers have toll-free telephone numbers printed on the card or available online to report a lost or stolen card.
By Kelly Sargent
A big thank you to everyone who shared our posts in the interests of finding Little Ginger Boy a home — and of course special thanks to Erin and Rob for letting me borrow the Tucker Law website and Facebook page to look for a home for him. The good news is that at last he has one.
You may remember his story; he was dumped on a gravel road in a very rural Iowa, a few miles north of the Missouri border. By the time a kind woman found him, he was skinny, flea-infested and had worms and ear mites. With all the other animals she already has on the farm to take care of, she didn't feel she could afford one more. He would have had to live in a shed if he stayed with her, and she didn't want that for him, so she contacted me to see if I could find him a home.
Due to the circumstances, a compassionate veterinarian charged next to nothing to vaccinate and neuter LGB and for medications to treat his infestations. Meanwhile I was writing and posting about his need for a home.
One woman was interested right out of the box, but unbeknownst to both of us, she wasn't getting my private messages and of course not responding to them since wasn't seeing them, so I kept looking. I heard from a second interested party from Fort Dodge who wanted him, but a tragedy occurred in her extended family, and she stopped communicating.
Bummer. Then out of the blue, the first interested party found my messages, contacted me and said, "Yes, I really want him! I just didn't get your messages." We were golden — or so I thought. But on the very day we were picking up LGB to make the transfer, she called to tell me she wouldn't be able to take him because her dad had just been put into hospice care.
We had to start all over. In the meantime, we kept LGB and were taking conscientious care of him. We took him to our veterinarian to get him tested for feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency and feline coronavirus. Fortunately he was negative for all three. We also had the vet thoroughly check and clean his ears and perform a fecal analysis to see if he was clear of worms. No more worms, but his ears still required medication.
His original rescuer had told us several times that he was "very energetic". We weren't sure if that was code for "troublesome mischief-maker", but oh my goodness, he turned out to be such a loving little boy. We were completely smitten and would have kept him in a New York minute, but we have a resident cat of many years named Shye — so named because she is — who really needs to be an only cat.
It was less than ideal for Shye and LGB to be kept alternately sequestered, but we had no other recourse. Our solution was playing musical cats 18 hours a day. We'd bring LGB downstairs and give him the run of the house while Shye was shut in the bedroom. Then we'd transfer LGB to our upstairs office while Shye was able to roam freely.
In the last week, there was a sudden flurry of interest. One woman in particular seemed perfect: recently widowed, she's retired and lives alone, but is young enough to be able to be with him his whole life. Our thought was that they could help each other heal.
We delivered LGB to her Monday night. She has named him Henry, and he's going to get lots and lots of attention. And yes, we miss him. We'd had him for a full two weeks, which was plenty of time for Paul and me to get quite attached to him. (I shed a few tears today as I wrote this.) But we're thrilled to see him in established in such favorable circumstances and adapting so well.
Above photo: My husband Paul and LGB having one last snuggle. The first of the below photos is of LGB and his favorite place to be at our house. The bottom three are of LGB aka Henry in his new home.
By Kelly Sargent
Erin is graciously letting me hijack Tucker Law one more time to see if we can find a home for this little ginger boy. We thought we'd found a home for him, but they've gone quiet.
He's getting neutered and vaccinated on October 20, and we'll pick him up from southwest Iowa on the 30th. If you don't have room for him, will you ask friends and family if they might have room for him? Surely there's somebody somewhere who will love him.
By Kelly Sargent
I’m hoping you will excuse this personal note. I feel lucky to work for a law firm led by attorneys who are genuinely compassionate. They're letting me borrow this forum for a moment to look for a home for an abandoned cat.
Over course of a week, I was contacted by two different women, one from Lucas County, one from Oskaloosa, each looking for help finding a home for a cat. Thanks to a bucket brigade of people from South Carolina to Utah, we found a home for one of them, a sweet (so sweet) little Bengal whose pet parent had the magnanimity and moral courage to recognize that with five children of her own, seven daycare little ones and a dog in her home, it was too chaotic an environment for a cat to be happy.
She posted on Facebook's Cat Lover's Community, someone from Utah commented, and a friend who lives in South Carolina, alerted me that this kitty, currently in Oskaloosa, needed rehoming. I wrote about it, my husband Paul shared it, and a college friend of his saw it, and said, "I'll take her!"
I launched out for Oskaloosa with a kennel in the back of the van, we got her transferred by putting the owner's kennel open end to end with mine. She cried all the way home to my house.
I was feeling pessimistic about my chances — and hers. I'd been warned that she was a hider who would scratch and claw if I tried to get her out from wherever she would hide, but I didn't want to leave her in the kennel all afternoon until Paul got home and we could leave for Omaha. When I came back into the den half an hour later, she was invisible, but to my surprise, she called to me. She had climbed up into the top of a very tall closet where I would not have been able to remove her, and then contrary to what I had been led to expect, she warmed up quickly. Soon she was sitting next to me on the couch and finally laying in my lap purring.
The next challenge was getting her back into the kennel for transport. I wondered whether I could succeed or if I would finally meet the scratching, clawing cat I was warned about. I carried the cage back in the room, put the big blanket back in and sprayed it heavily with anti-anxiety cat pheromones. The aroma attracted her and she walked into the kennel of her own accord. Whew!
I told Paul that I thought we should be silent on the drive because from Oskaloosa to our house, talking to her only made her cry louder. We drove half the way not speaking, but I couldn’t bear how miserable she sounded, so I climbed into the back of the van and opened the cage to see what would happen. She climbed up in my lap and stopped crying! I petted her all the way to Omaha.
She is now happily ensconced in her new home where she is the only pet and utterly adored.
Now we need to find a home for this sweet little ginger boy picture above who was dumped on a gravel road far out in rural Iowa. The woman who found him is caring for him, but can't afford to keep him. Can you help me form another bucket brigade and find him a home? I will drive him anywhere within a day's drive of Des Moines. He will already have been neutered and vaccinated.
By Erin Tucker
Whenever there’s a calamity — local, regional or national, there will always be scam artists intent on taking advantage of people who have been impacted by preying on their misfortune and fear.
Recently, the Better Business Bureau issued a report citing numerous cases of scammers impersonating representatives of high-profile companies, offering COVID-themed discounts.
Here’s how the scam runs:
You receive a text message from a large, reputable company. The message claims that due to the pandemic, the company would like to help people by offering them a deal. They range from free or discounted services to gift cards and cash
Below are two fake offers the BBB listed that unsuspecting consumers have received lately.
“COVID-19 REFUND. VERIZON COMPANY is giving out $950 to all users of our Verizon service, If yes kindly text your Verizon”
“Due to the pandemic, Hulu is giving everyone a free 1-year subscription to help you stay at home. Get yours here [link].
Of course these messages don’t really originate with that company. They’re phishing attempts from con artists who are trying to steal your personal information.
If you click the link, you may be prompted to log into a lookalike website that scammers use to get hold of your login ID and password. With that information, scammers can access your accounts and even make purchases using your saved payment methods.
The latest BBB report mentions scammers impersonating Hulu, Netflix, and Verizon, but watch out texts that pretend to be from other companies too. If one name stops producing victims, these fraudsters simply use another company's name.
Here’s what the BBB recommends to avoid being taken in by text message scams
Treat messages from unknown senders with caution. If you receive a message from a number you don’t recognize, be careful. If you haven’t given a company permission to text you, it’s probably a scam.
Don’t click on links from strangers. Scammers often send shortened links that don’t let you see where they really lead in the body of their text message. If you click the link, you could be directed to a dangerous
website, or you could download malware onto your device.
Confirm deals directly with the company before you accept. If you are really hoping the deal is
legitimate, go to the company’s official website and send them an email, or call to inquire. The company can
let you know if the deal is real or not.
Install antivirus software on your computer and mobile devices. This kind of scam can come from text
messages or emails, so make sure all your electronics are protected. Antivirus software can scan for malware
and alert you before you open a malicious website link.
Tucker Law appreciates the work the Better Business Bureau does to alert consumers to potential frauds and scams. Rob and I and the rest of our staff are always here if you need us.
By Kelly Sargent
There’s still enough time to enjoy some warm-weather swimming in ponds, lakes or pools, but here’s a word of warning.
According to a recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, drowning is one of the leading causes of death from unintentional injuries in kids ages 1 to 19 . Of those, 75% are boys. Teenage boys 15 to 19 in particular are 10 times more likely to drown than girls.
The AAP report also found that In the specific category of swimming pool deaths, Black children aged 5 to 19 are five-and-a-half more likely to drown than White children.
In very young children, 1 to four, drowning isn’t just a major cause of unintentional-injury related death; it’s the leading cause.
Dr. Linda Quan, pediatric emergency medicine physician at Seattle Children's Hospital, who is the author of the AAP report, emphasized that young children must be supervised at all times when they’re in any kind of water including a bath because they’re not able to prevent themselves from drowning.
Quoted by CNN, Dr. Quan said, “It seems ridiculous, but I've watched my own 2-year-old stumble and sit down in a body of water covering her nose and do nothing to save herself. I had to yank her up to standing."
Unsurprisingly the most child drowning deaths take place between May and August. The riskiest hours are between 4 PM and 6 PM, — that surprised us, during which about half of child drownings occur.
In addition to supervising children at all times when they're in water, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that bath water should be drained immediately after the bath. Infants should never be left unsupervised because bath seats can tip over.
As an additional measure of protection, AAP suggests that parents enroll children in swimming classes beginning at the age of 1. And if you have a pool in your yard, install a fence surrounding it that's at least four feet high and has self-closing gates.
Water can be fun, but it can be dangerous, so keep your eyes on those kids! And as always, if you need us, call us.
By Kelly Sargent
All of us want life to go back to pre-pandemic normal. You remember what that was like . . . when we didn’t have to wear masks everywhere we went or be afraid of going out to eat or to concerts and movies or any other indoor social gathering.
Just when this back-to-the-future looked reassuring and promising, along comes the delta variant of COVID-19 — and it’s a doozy. The United States Center for Disease Control recently described it as “hypertransmissable,” and now accounts for more than half of the Covid-19 cases in many areas of the US.
Immunologist and former executive director of medical affairs for vaccines at Merck, John Grabenstein, said that because the delta variant is more contagious, it’s more likely to find the people who are not vaccinated. The White House announced that as of the end of June, nearly everyone who died from COVID in the United States was unvaccinated. And just today, July 8, the medical website Medscape reported that 99.5% of those killed by COVID-19 in the last six months had not been vaccinated.
At a July 7 press conference, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, disclosed that all of the 130 people who died of Covid-19 in his state last month were unvaccinated. Unvaccinated people made up 95% of new Covid-19 cases there and 93% of new Covid-19 hospitalizations. Infectious disease experts say that the connection between vaccination status and Covid-19 is not specific to Maryland; their stats are not an anomaly.
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, said that there’s “no question that almost all of the deaths and hospitalizations will be in unvaccinated individuals, and therefore we should expect (that) most of severe illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths will occur predominantly in areas of low vaccination and high Delta.”
The flip side to that is obvious; being vaccinated is highly effective. The Associated Press analyzed government data from the month of May and found that COVID infections in fully-vaccinated people accounted for less than 1200 of more than 107,000 COVID hospitalizations. That’s about 1.1%. And only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths that month were in fully vaccinated people. That translates to less than 1%.
On July 6 CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that the vaccine is so effective that “nearly every death, especially among adults, due to COVID-19 is, at this point, entirely preventable.”
This resonates personally for me. One of my friends has a granddaughter, Amber, who lives in Texas. Young, healthy and ambitious, Amber's husband was in the process of starting his own company. Together they sank every bit of their money into it, but Marc was a hard worker, and they were optimistic about their chances. Neither one, however, had bothered to get vaccinated.
In May Marc came done with COVID-19 and first was hospitalized and then had to be intubated. He died ten days later. Now Amber has to sell their home, find somewhere else to raise the two small children Marc left behind and get a job to support herself and them.
As of now, 606,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. So get the jab, as my British friends refer to it. It could save your life.
July 9 Update:
Today, Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States, reported "exponential" growth in COVID-19 cases as the delta variant takes over. The case rate doubled over the last week, and 99.96% of all new infections are in unvaccinated individuals, according to Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
By Kelly Sargent
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a dad. Mine was out of the picture while I was still a baby; my grandpa did his best to sub in.
Of course technically everyone has a ‘father’, but mere genetic contribution doesn’t make for an actual dad.
On this Father’s Day, Tucker Law celebrates all loving dads, stepdads, adoptive dads and substitute dads.
By Erin Tucker
Tucker Law team member, Kelly Sargent, writer that she is, has been scouting agents for a television show concept she developed. Talk about a steep hill to climb.
Any information uploaded to a prospective agent through that site grants . . .
“without any credit or compensation to you, a royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, unrestricted, irrevocable, and fully transferable, assignable and sub-licensable license to use, modify, display, copy, reproduce, disclose, sell, translate, create derivative works of, distribute, and export any of the information, in whole or in part, or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, software or technology of any kind for any purposes whatsoever.”
Wowza. In other words, the purveyors of that site could take her concept, written text, ideas, format or anything else that is her professional work product and use it anyway they want with no credit or compensation to her whatsoever.
You’re probably not going to try pitching a TV show anytime soon, but there are other scams literally right at your fingertips that are easy to fall prey to.
I’m talking about Facebook quizzes. Not all Facebook or other social media quizzes are scams, but the Better Business Bureau warns that some of them are. It might be at fun little personality test offering to match you with a character from a favorite TV show or some other which-something-or-other-are-you quiz. Sounds innocuous and entertaining, but if you’re asked questions such as what the first car was you owned or the name of the street you grew up on or other seemingly trivial personal things, they’re fishing for the answers to common security questions used to provide access to insurance, banking and credit card accounts.
The site Scam Detector warns that the notifications pictured below are a red flag and cautions
To be extra safe, consider changing your privacy settings from “Public” to “Friends” and consider removing details on your profile such as where you grew up, where you went to school, where you live, where you used to live and where you work. Information of that sort can also make you vulnerable to attempted scams.
And if you need help, we’re always here.
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