From the Editor

“Sears is Now a Penny Stock”

I saw the above headline, regarding Sears, and decided I needed to read the story.  “In the latest indignity for a once-grand retailer, the share price fell below $1 on Friday for the first time in the company’s history, dropping as much as 15% to 85 cents in midday trading.”

My first memory, of a department store, is from when I was six years old.  We had moved back to the States from Puerto Rico, I did not speak a word of English, and someone took us to see the Macy’s Santa, in New York City.  I have no idea how the details played out, but I left Macy’s with a small Light Bright!  Yes, it was the Santa, at least to me, that we had just seen in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; is it any wonder I love Miracle on 34th Street!

I am a brick and mortar shopper; if something must be ordered “on line” it falls to Kate.  I love walking, and I do not believe I can ever know a place, unless I walk its streets or in the case of a store, its aisles; and yes, as anyone knows who has read these pages, I love second hand stores.  I do love a bargain, but I also love the surprise a second hand store can bring – the unexpected wonder of an item I did not know existed and what I can with it!

When Toys R Us announced it was going out of business, I frequented the store a bit more than I had in the past few years.  Oddly, it was not that I was looking for a good sale; rather I was trying to stock up on memories.

My first interaction with Toys R Us was when my family happened to find itself in Columbus, Ohio, and my Uncle Gary took my sister, Joy, and I to the store, for what in my memory world, was the first time.  I believe, and welcome being corrected, that I picked out a jack-in-the box; I then remember him taking us ice-skating, in that rather perfect day.

Toys R Us did not come back into my life until my oldest niece was born; I loved going into the store to marvel at their stock and think about what I wish I could buy her, as for most of my life, their prices were a bit of a stretch, on my budget.  Nevertheless, to me, walking into the store was like what I imagine Santa’s workshop to be, and in later years, I would go there to buy gifts and then of course the grand nieces and nephews came along, offering me a perfect excuse to make a stop.

In one of my last ventures, into the store, I bravely asked the clerk if there was anything for sale that had their logo on it, he looked at me a bit oddly and then sympathetically said no.  Maybe I was not the first middle aged woman who had posed such a question that day.

Yes, yes, yes, their prices were higher than those big box stores we now all frequent, but no one matched their selection.  The Toys R Us’, in my world, are now empty buildings, and it still makes me sad when we drive by them, but I have made my peace.  Sears, however, is a whole other story.

I will admit, my first thought, as I read this news, about the price drop in Sears stock, was should I buy Sears stock?  But that thought only lasted about a second; my memory quickly rushed back to the awe the Sears Catalogue had once inspired in me, and the sheer delight a box from Sears once meant in my life.

I do not know when my Mother received her Sears Credit Card, but I do remember that I first became aware of its magical powers when I was in 9th grade.

The only Sears outlets I remember in Delano, at the time, was one of those store fronts that mostly featured appliances and the like; but that did not matter, because of the Sears and Roebuck Catalogue!

In our world of limited resources, first financially and secondly in terms of actual places we could go to shop, Sears was a life line filled with deliverable wonder.

Sears began its life as a mail order catalogue, in 1892; and until 1989 it was the largest retail establishment in the United States, and was once the nation’s largest employer.  What had started as a whim, buying a shipment of unwanted watches and reselling them at a handsome profit, eventually became a go to place for much of America.  Regardless of where you lived, Richard Warren Sears, who had once worked for the railroad, understood the value of shipping, and he was willing to ship to the most remote of places; bringing his product to the isolated farmer or rancher or a high schooler living in a small town.

After that Sears credit card came into our life, we started to receive the catalogue, in the mail; it was huge!  I remember getting my turn to leaf through the pages, and thinking about not only what I would like, in a dream world, but also about what I wish I could buy for my family, as Christmas gifts; it helped that others had thumbed those pages, making their own notations and turning down the corner of the pages that peeked their interest.

As a true bibliophile, I am well familiar with the wonder that books bring into our lives; oddly the Sears catalogue really did impact my world, at least for a season, with the hope and inspiration of any a good book.  It provided me an opportunity to not only imagine how a pair of shoes might look on me, but to dream about where I could go with a suitcase on wheels!

When we moved from Delano, into the suburbs of Los Angeles, the isolation was gone, and stores and malls abounded; but Sears was still a go to place, thanks to that credit card.  Thus if I needed a special dress, my senior year of high school, off to Sears we would go; God bless my poor Mother, I cannot imagine how she handled it all, but she did.

I remember, a few years later, when I was off having my own adventures with a couple of friends, on a beach outside of Honolulu, when Sears became our supplier of Famous Amos cookies and camping gear, on someone else’s credit card, yet again – I do feel a bit guilty about those purchases, but I still have the green beach towel – thank you!

The most important purchase, I ever made, on my own Sears credit card was a small, electric, portable typewriter that I bought in Puerto Rico, the year before my father died; I love that little machine, and only gave it up when I could no longer buy the ribbon cartridges, because Sears stopped making them.

I will stop, but how can I not mention the washer and dryer my Mother bought Kate and I when we moved from an apartment to a house, still rented, but a house.  They were beautiful, white, new, and made me feel so very grown up.  I still love appliances from Sears!

Change is inevitable, I know.  While I do not happen to be a fan of so much of the change that is now impacting my life, perhaps a true sign of aging; I am not unaware of the fact the party decorations I used to buy at the Party Store, I now buy for a fraction of the cost, at the Dollar store.  I also remember walking into my first Target, and being amazed at the sheer volume of products, and really who can compare with the prices at Walmart?

So here we sit, perhaps on the precipice of another huge change, in our retail world, Sears may be joining the likes of I. Magnin, J. W. Robinsons, Bullocks Wilshire, Buffums, and even Burdines, all wonderful, now gone department stores, that used to allow people like me, to step into those luxurious worlds, and stroll through what was unattainable in reality, but free in my dream world. There was something rather magnificent, about looking through the displays of china and crystal, and imagining how I might one day set my own table; or touching countless displays of sheets and towels, marveling at the colors, combinations, and textures, and learning what one hundred percent cotton was and why it mattered!

I know that one of the many rages today is against consumerism, but I have to say, it is rather delightful to open a beautifully wrapped package; and something even more delightful about having found what you believe to be the perfect gift, and watching someone you love, open their surprise, that you unexpectedly found, as you stepped in from the rain, on a day spent walking the streets of say New York, Miami, Los Angeles, or Chicago.

When the history, of change in retail, in the United States, is written, undoubtedly Amazon will play a significant role in what is happening to those once familiar brick and mortar stores; but it is worth remembering that Sears was actually offering those mail order services, a hundred years before Amazon was even a twinkle in Mr. Bezos eye.  That Is All For Now.

Poet’s Corner

Standing Watch


The once bright canvas is fading fast.

only the brown
curled up leaves
will remain
as they await a gusty wind
or the weight of the first snow
to plummet them to the ground
where they will be crumbled
into little pieces
to be reclaimed by the earth.

The starkly naked trunks and branches
stretch upward
with greater determination
than in the spring
when they are fully dressed
and joyfully bask in the bright sunshine.

our only hope for color
lies in the littered ground
that occasionally offers a glimpse
of leaves brushed with streaks of amber
or preferably a bright crimson.

The slabs of exposed stones are stark and cold
but not all hope is gone
the squirrels can still gather
the last of the fallen acorns
and the bees feast
on the nectar
of the fading flowers.

Winter will soon arrive
and most of New England
will go into a long
deep sleep
with only the evergreens
remaining awake
as they stand watch until spring.

~ Cristina Jill Mosqueda ~


The Anatomy of an Attack


Did you know that October is Cybersecurity Month? I would like to share an alarming statistic; Europol threat assessment reported that cybercrime is a three trillion dollar business. The dollar amount is higher than the drug trade which includes; heroin, marijuana and cocaine combined. I hate to paint such a bleak picture for a cybersecurity forecast, but I am not sure how we can turn this negative into a positive.

However, it is always a good idea to begin with the basics and to promote an understanding. Let us start with recognizing what is a cybersecurity attack and how does malware infect and spread to a device and to others? Professionally, we call this, the anatomy of an attack and this is how it works.

There are seven stages in the anatomy of an attack:

First stage is reconnaissance. Reconnaissance is the most critical part of the seven stages and involves an attacker finding vulnerabilities, also known as gaps.

The second stage is weaponization. Weaponization builds a malicious attachment. What is a malicious attachment? A malicious attachment for example, can be an email, in which the user, clicks on the attachment. The attachment can be a .pdf, .docx, .jpg, ect. This is one of the reasons why you may often hear to be careful as to what you click, even if you know the person who sent you the email.

The third stage is delivery. While in the prior stage I mentioned email, the fact is, is that social media has become a very large conduit for the distribution of malware. So, you need to extra careful while on your favorite social media sites and do not automatically click on a link.

(Personally, between you and me, the three minute cute dog video will get me every time. I am sure of it.)

The fourth stage is exploitation. Exploitation occurs when the attachment is opened and the vulnerability is exposed. This stage can be complicated to understand in that the vulnerability is not taken advantage of until the fourth stage, but let us take an example of a bank. I do not believe that a robber would just go and try to steal money. They usually will go an investigate the bank and see if there are any weaknesses. Once they find the weakness, they develop their plan around that weakness. The same with cyber, but the bank is your asset, and the reason it is so very important to do basic computer hygiene, such as patching, is so that the vulnerability can be patched, thus making the cybercriminal work harder.

The fifth stage is installation. The malware immediately installs on the device.

The sixth stage is the command and control, c&c, and how the cybercriminal takes control of the device.
The seventh stage is actions and objectives. This is the stage were the attacker is able to execute on the objective, which may include data exfiltration, or just sit quietly on the device, waiting.

There is a golden hour, according to healthcare professionals, which states that the probability of survival, following a traumatic event, improves if a patient is treated within an hour. It is the same for an infected device with malware. If you can treat the device within an hour, the malware will do less damage, than malware that is able to mutate and not only infect your device, but others on the network you share.

In cybersecurity, the mean time to detect, mttd, and the meant time to respond, mttr, are critical factors in staying safely Connected.

Film’s Recommended by Marcial

This is a trading world and men, women and children, who cannot live on gravity alone, need something to satisfy their gayer, lighter moods and hours, and he who ministers to this want is in a business established by the Author of our nature.  If he worthily fulfills his mission and amuses without corrupting, he need not feel that he has lived in vain.
~ Phineas T. Barnum ~

Shopgirl, US, 2005, 106 minutes, Romantic Comedy

12 Strong, US, 2018, 130 minutes, Military Drama

In Therapy, Brazil, 2009, 93 minutes, Comedy

Soul Kitchen, Germany, 2009, 99 minutes, Comedy

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, US, 1961, 114 minutes, Comedy

Queen to Play, France, 2009, 101 minutes, Drama

Castaway on the Moon, Korea, 2009, 116 minutes, Comedy

Eat Drink Man Woman, Taipei, 1994, 124 minutes, Comedy

Bride Flight, Netherlands, 2011, 130 minutes, Drama

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sweden, 2009, 152 minutes, Thriller

Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi, Israel, 2003, 94 minutes, Comedy

Ladies in Lavender, UK, 2004, 103 minutes, Drama

Paper Moon, US, 1973, 102 minutes, Classic

Outsourced, US, 2006, 103 minutes, Comedy

Stranger than Fiction, US, 2006, 113 minutes, Comedy

Run Lola Run, Germany, 1998, 80 minutes, Thriller

Frida, US, 2002, 122 minutes, Drama

The Hours, US, 2002, 114 minutes, Drama

Garden State, US, 2004, 103 minutes, Comedy

American Beauty, US, 1999, 122 minutes, Drama

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, US, 2004, 108 minutes, Comedy

The Green Mile, US, 1999, 189 minutes, Drama

Rain Man, US, 1988, 103 minutes, Drama

Chicago, US, 2002, 113 minutes, Musical

The Upside of Anger, US, 2005, 118 minutes, Comedy

Scarface, US, 1983, 170 minutes, Thriller

The Notebook, US, 2004, 123 minutes, Drama

Million Dollar Baby, US, 2004, 133 minutes, Sports drama

Good Bye, Lenin!, Germany, 2003, 121 minutes, Comedy

Finding Neverland, UK, 2004, 101 minutes, Drama

Spanglish, US, 2004, 131 minutes, Comedy

The Aviator, US, 2004, 170 minutes, Drama

The Bridge on the River Kwai, US, 1957, 167 minutes, Action

Pulp Fiction, US, 1994, 154 minutes, Thriller

The Magnificent Seven, US, 1960, 128 minutes, Western

Zorba the Greek, Greek, 1964, 142 minutes, Classic

O Brother, Where Art Thou?, US, 2000, 106 minutes, Comedy

La Strada, Italy, 1954, 108, Drama

In Bruges, UK, 2008, 107 minutes, Thriller-Comedy

Whatever Works, US, 2009, 92 minutes, Comedy

Good Morning Vietnam, US, 1987, 119 minutes, Comedy

Awakenings, US, 1990, 120 minutes, Drama

Patch Adams, US, 1998, 116 minutes, Comedy

Captain Abu Raed, Jordan, 2008, 102 minutes, Drama

Bandits, US, 2001, 123 minutes, Comedy

Lucky Number Slevin, US, 2006, 110 minutes, Thriller

The Chorus, France, 2004, 97 minutes, Drama

Butterfly, Spain, 1999, 97 minutes, Drama

K-Pax, US, 2001, 121 minutes, Science Fiction

Winter in Wartime, Netherlands, 2008, 103, Drama, Suspenseful

Elling, Norway, 2001, 90 minutes, Comedy

Il Postino, Italy, 1995, 108 minutes, Drama

Under the Tuscan Sun, US, 2003, 113 minutes, Comedy

Les Comperes, France, 1983, 88 minutes, Comedy

Midnight in Paris, US, 2011, 94 minutes, Comedy

Moscow, Belgium, 2008, 102 minutes, Romantic Drama

Keeping Mum, UK, 2005, 103 minutes, Comedy

The Help, US, 2011, 146 minutes, Drama

Il Postino, Italy, 1995, 108 minutes, Drama

Mrs. Henderson Presents, UK, 2005, 103 minutes, Comedy/Drama

Memoirs of a Geisha, Japan, 2005, 145 minutes, Drama

Vitus, Switzerland, 2007, 123 minutes, Drama

Children of Heaven, Iran, 1997, 89 minutes, Drama

Volver, Spain, 2006, 121 minutes, Comedy

Rashomon, Japan, 1950, 88 minutes, Drama

Guantanamera, Cuba, 1994, 104 minutes, Comedy

Little Miss Sunshine, US, 2006, 101 minutes, Comedy

Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears, Russia, 1980, 150 minutes, Romantic Comedy.

The Pursuit of Happyness, US, 2006, 117 minutes, Drama

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, France, 2007, 112 minutes, Drama

Thank You for Smoking, US, 2005, 91 minutes, Comedy

Big Fish, US, 2003, 125 minutes, Drama

No Country for Old Men, US, 2007, 122 minutes, Thriller

Dirty Pretty Things, UK, 202, 92 minutes, Drama

The Edge of Heaven, Germany, 2007, 122 minutes, Drama

There Will Be Blood, US, 2007, 158 minutes, Drama

The Wrestler, US, 2008, 105 minutes, Drama

Bottle Shock, US, 2008, 110 minutes, Drama

The Truman Show, US, 1998, 103 minutes, Comedy

Stranger than Fiction, US, 2006, 113 minutes, Comedy

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, US, 2008, 166 minutes, Drama

Public Square

Remembering Nine-Eleven

Follow Remembering Nine-Eleven     As I have already shared on these pages, we have made pilgrimages to the three Nine-Eleven Memorials where this nation was attacked, on September 11, 2001. Each site offers a unique perspective and helps us to honor those who were murdered, and reminds us that we...



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~ Aristophanes~

High thoughts must have high language.

My Mother’s Favorite Verse

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”~ Jeremiah 33: 3 ~



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