Amy's Landscape

Views from the Florida Landscape

Assassins in the In-Box

Funny, the spam software didn’t catch it.  As a follower of Christ the subject line, “Your life has been bought” or something like that, caused me to pause.  Perhaps it was an inspiration from a friend, a reminder of that great Love; I took a spare moment to look.

What a lovely bit of news:  it was from an assassin, saying they had been hired to snuff me out but,  for a price, of course, they just might be able to avert the hit!

Really busy that morning with no time for this nonsense, I almost tapped ‘delete’, then caught myself and stopped to think it through a bit.

It was obviously nothing to take serious, sent to me and a zillion other people.  The added pictures of an AK-47, bullets and a broken window were probably stock clip-art.

But what if someone else took it seriously?  Why was it something to chuckle about and delete, that someone entered my house via the in-box to threaten my life, when it would be something to call the police about if I’d received it by way of regular mail or if this crank came to my door saying this?

The more I mulled it, the more I knew I’d been chosen (by God, not this cracked pot) to receive this e-mail for a wider purpose.  What if I had an opportunity to help others and I junked this thing out of impatience?

As usual, I was thinking too much but OK, in I dove.  The day had taken an adventurous turn, and I was game, but where should one go from here?

The first call was to my local Sheriff’s Department.  They kept looping me to voice mails that looped me back to the receptionist.  In frustration, I asked her what to do and after a few questions she finally asked, ‘are you in the city limits?’ and referred me to my city police.

It was a little disturbing to find when I called, they really didn’t know what to, except the receptionist said they could send out an officer…  I didn’t need an officer; I just wanted someone in authority to know about it, maybe ask for the information so they could track the IP address from this nut, which should be simple for SOMEONE to do in the 21st Century!

Anyway, after enough of that I just listed them at  spam@uce.gov  , wrote my assassin an e-mail back and here’s what I said:

Hello,

I have contacted the Police Department, our county Sheriff’s Economic and Computer Crimes division and I’ve listed you on www.spam.gov  so you’re in the national database as a spammer and will be tracked. 

As a follower of Christ I believe in his love for me and that he has paid for my life by coming here to take my place and pay for the ways I’ve rebelled against God throughout my lifetime.  God gave me my life and Jesus paid for it, so he owns it.  He, and only he, can take it, and he is welcome to do it any time, any way, any place, because it’s his.  You have no power to.

I am praying for you now.  God knows where you are, and exactly what you are doing right this minute.  He loves you, just as you are at this moment.  He has better things for you to do with the life he gave you.  Right now, you can close your eyes, ask Jesus Christ to forgive you for everything you’ve done that is wrong, and you can start a new life, one that makes you feel like a real human being, one that brings honor to God and those that love you, and one that gives you an eternal home once this life is over.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done with your life up to this point, you can start fresh today.  I hope you will take this moment to redirect the path your life is on. 

We will all die someday.  I know where I am going and with whom I will spend eternity.  Do you?  Write me again if I can be of service to you.

Then, I quit all the drama for a moment and just prayed for the person.  There was a real someone behind this silliness, and God had used the Internet to have us intersect in this unique way.  I really felt like this was a call, and I answered it; what fun to be part of this odd thing and God was in it, somehow.

Just for entertainment I copied the whole thing and sent it to some associates for a chuckle and a heads up in case they got it too.  One of them got back to me with some very useful information:

Turns out the FBI does track these threatening e-mails and needs them to be reported so they can.  While most people just delete these as obvious scams, it’s important to report them because some people are terrified and financially hurt by them.   http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx  is the place to file a report.  They do track the IP address of these people and prosecute.

IC3’s mission is to give victims a convenient and easy way to report these incidents, and to refer complaints about cyber-crime to the proper law enforcement and regulatory agencies that have the jurisdiction for tracking them.  It’s important to keep the e-mail, receipts, whatever you have associated with the incident and report as much as you can about it.

I learned there had been similar scams that circulated targeting dentists; several of them had really taken the threat seriously, even making contact with the posing assassins to give the deposit required to ward off the hit.  It had originated in Moscow!

All in all, another interesting morning here in beautiful Florida…

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February 2, 2012 Posted by | God, God in the everyday, Life, Random, Relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Your Spanish Moss?

Nothing gives so fine a touch to landscaping as edging.  The whirring metal blade carves a distinct line, making every planter look crisp, every driveway or sidewalk appear clean and orderly.

But all Southern landscapers know that just one touch of that blade’s tip on a piece of Spanish moss and instantaneously, the moss will be drawn in and wound tightly around the blade housing.

The smart landscaper knows this to be an inescapable reality and will humble her (or him) self to bend down and move the offending moss out of the way of the blade before the consequences come due.

But, over again, I would say to myself, “This time, it will be different.  Just this once, I will be the victor; I will do it my way without the same outcome, without the same result…”

And every time, without exception, I would have to relearn the lesson.  No matter how fast the blade turned, no matter how much I revved the motor to plow through the moss, the moss always won.

The moments I intended to save by refusing to bend down and collect the moss were lost, and the payment was minutes wasted picking out every tiny piece of moss wound tightly around the blade and housing, sometimes so tightly I had to stop everything and get a pair of needle-nose pliers to pick away at the tighter strands.

Why do we continually think we can get away with something we’ve already seen won’t work; that somehow, even though we do the same dumb thing, this time it will be different, somehow WE are different and we won’t pay the penalties?

God puts consequences in place so we’ll do the smart thing, the right thing, the good thing, for us and those in our lives.  Why do we choose to go back to that thing we know is wrong for us, hoping somehow this time it will be different?  How many times do we have to do the same thing and get the same result until we choose to plug in a different move or humble ourselves and do it his way instead of ours?

What is that one thing you refuse to give in over and give up to God’s sovereignty?

January 27, 2012 Posted by | Environment, Florida Outdoors, Gardening, God in the everyday, Landscaping, Nature, Parenting, Relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Turn

What foolishness!  With too much on my mind and without giving attention to what, in reality, I was doing, I turned left, thinking I needed to hit the bank before 4:00 p.m.  But in heading left, I bypassed the post office and another quick stop I could have knocked out had I gone right and then to the bank.  I wasn’t really in the car at all but off someplace in my head, disconnected from what I was supposed to be focused on.  Now I’d have to waste more time I was already pressed for.  In my head I heard, “You can turn around any time.”

What is repentance, but to turn around, do a you-turn?  Many times the thought begins to creep over us that we’re heading in a direction that’s not in our best interest, or we get caught in the fallout of a poor decision or choice, yet we refuse to get it; too prideful to make the you-turn it takes to get back on the right road.

Did you take a left today when you meant to take a right?  Did you head in a direction you were too proud to admit you shouldn’t go?  That’s just the stuff the Christ came to move us through, to help us get off the pride train and make the U-turn we need to go in a direction God has laid out for our benefit.  To continue on is folly but we often do, too arrogant to say we’re wrong and humble ourselves to make the you-turn to real freedom and peace.

January 27, 2012 Posted by | Florida Outdoors, God in the everyday, On The Road, Parenting, Relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Politics of the Left Lane

“WHY are you hanging out in the left lane?!”, I queried my son while zooming down the interstate.  “I’m not in anybody’s way, I’m going the speed limit, what’s the problem?”

For his age group, it’s not a problem.  But for mine, it’s a big problem.  In my 1975 Driver’s Education class, Coach Eddie always stressed, “Slower traffic keeps right; get out of the left lane!”.  In fact from time to time you can still see those pesky signs on the highway, admonishing drivers “Slower Traffic Keep Right.”

I don’t think anyone even knows what that means anymore.  Because for some reason, Driver’s Education Class fell out of favor somewhere between the time I was a teen and my kids reached that epoch.  In fact it’s optional in some states now.

For my three teenagers, it was an extra class they could take if we wanted our insurance rates to be lowered, and we did, so they took it.

But in our daily conversations about what they’d learned in class, I was amazed to find that “Slower Traffic Keep Right” had been dropped from the “pertinent information” list.  It just wasn’t taught to them in class.  So I did my job as parent and taught it to them myself.

Maybe this really has nothing to do with age, since people of every stripe seem to be hanging out in the left lane.  Maybe it’s the attitude of entitlement we have going on in America, that if I want it it’s mine, and anyway I was here first  so I own this lane, no matter what lane it is.

This doesn’t seem like a big deal but people are dying over this little infraction and attitude.  As I travel the interstate several times a week I’m astounded to watch a certain  game play out.

There’s the oblivious one, plodding along in the left lane, on or about the speed limit, but there are two others doing the same thing, abreast of them in the lanes to the right.  A big SUV comes flying up on the rear of this scene and moves up on the one in the far left lane, expecting this turtle to get the message.  But they don’t, or they don’t care.

Anger burns, tempers flare, and traffic begins to pile up.  Eventually one of the three cloggers pulls back or forward just enough for everyone to begin rushing through the gap, swerving around the turtle in the far left lane, horns blaring, fingers raised.

Sometimes, just to teach them a little lesson, one of the more aggressive drivers will pull around and in front of the left lane turtle and slam on the brakes.  And sometimes the turtle wakes up enough to move over, or to get angry and the game escalates.

Since record numbers of us here in the Great State of Florida have our Concealed Weapons Permit, weapons are sometimes brandished, threats are made, shots are fired and people are killed.  It’s insane how quickly this scene can advance from simple selfishness to someone dying.

I try to avoid all this drama by staying in the far right lane, at or  slightly above the speed limit so as not to be in anyone’s way.  But since nobody seems to know the far left lane is the passing lane, I sometimes get tailgaters behind me as if I should move over!  And sometimes, just for peace sake, I do, even when I feel like jamming on the brakes to teach THEM a little lesson!

What’s the answer to this?  Maybe we could leave home 5 minutes earlier so we’re not in such a rush and so easily angered by people’s behaviors.  Maybe we can treat people will a little more grace, a little more civility and courtesy, even if they are an oblivious dope, or ignorant of the law.  Maybe, and this is a provocative thought,  we should all start paying a little more attention to DRIVING while driving.

And maybe we could spread the word, across this wonderful wide open country, along our tree-lined boulevards, among our jam-packed freeways, interstates, pikeways and highways,  with our own kids, spouses, and friends: “Slower Traffic Keep Right”!!!

November 2, 2011 Posted by | Florida Outdoors, God in the everyday, On The Road, Parenting | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment