Archive for the 'The Soapbox' Category


March 18, 2019 | Author Friend Promo, The Soapbox

from Alicia Joseph

Over the holiday season I purchased a new laptop and bought a year’s subscription to McAfee for my online security. For a reason that isn’t significant, I needed to contact the company so I googled McAfee Security and called the first number that popped up. Big mistake. I should have looked more closely because I would have seen the number was actually for a third-party company called Guru Aid that handles support for McAfee. The name was connected to this company, but they aren’t McAfee.

There was nothing off about the call as it started. Ten minutes into the call I believed I was still speaking to a McAfee representative. He assured me he could help me with the problem I was experiencing. He took me to a website where I relinquished control of my monitor to him. I watched as my mouse moved across the screen dictated by the man over the phone. He went into my computer and talked me through what he was doing while telling me all of things that were wrong with my computer. He asked me in a concerned voice how old my computer was, as though expecting me to say an amount of years worrisome enough that he could blame all my woes on my “old” computer.

When I replied that my computer was only a couple weeks old, he explained quickly that even new computers can have problems. I was very concerned. How could my new computer have so many problems? Thinking I was still talking to a legitimate company, I asked the rep if I should call HP, the maker of my computer. Maybe I have a defective computer. His voice raised slightly when he said, “What can they do? I can fix this.”

He put me on hold and a different man came on. He confirmed that my computer was in bad shape. He could fix it and the cost would be $149.99. This gave me pause. I told the man I was going to call HP. He became very upset, very quickly. I knew then I wasn’t dealing with McAfee. He said, like the previous rep, that HP could do nothing for me. I then said I had to talk to my husband, (I don’t have a husband. I’m a lesbian, but I was desperate for an out) and see what he saws. The man yelled. “What can your husband do to help? I can fix this!”

When I still said no, he offered to decrease the price to $99.99. I told him no, and then he questioned very angrily why when money was brought up I resisted right away. He apparently thought I was easy prey and was irate that he wasn’t going to get his easy paycheck. I hung up upset at this experience, and remembered that I’d had a similar experience when calling Norton Security a couple years ago. They also charged me $149.95 to fix the problem I was having. It never occurred to me I wasn’t speaking directly to Norton. I didn’t pay them then, like I didn’t now, and I remember that rep raising his voice at me in anger. I hung up thinking that Norton representatives were assholes.

I googled McAfee again to see how I had made the mistake and called the wrong company. GuruAid popped up first and had the McAfee name linked to it. They are apparently allowed to provide technical support to Norton and McAfee customers, and probably other companies too. I called McAfee to tell them my experience and to make sure they knew that a company associating itself with them was trying to scam their customers. I also wanted to confirm that my computer didn’t have any of the threatening problems Guru Aid tried to convince me they had. The rep confirmed that everything was running smoothly and the original problem I’d had was taken care of.

The rep was very apologetic and he seemed to know of Guru Aid pretty well, and all he told me was next time to be sure it was actually McAfee that I call. I hung up disappointed that companies would knowingly allow third-parties to use their name while trying to scam their customers.

In the end, we need to protect ourselves. Even though Guru Aid didn’t scam a penny from me, I’m pissed they had the opportunity to try. I went on Twitter to see if they had an account, and they do, @guruaid. I sent them a couple tweets to let them know what I thought of them. I wasn’t expecting a response.

I checked to see if there were any tweets from other people about this scam of a company and there were. Last April a man tweeted that his mother had Norton as her online security and thought she was calling Norton when she really called Guru Aid and they charged her $300 for what he believed was a scam. People tweeted at him confirming to the man that it was.

This company is known by some as a scam, but unfortunately not by enough. More people are going to get scammed by companies like this. Computers have become a lifeline for a lot of us, and when they no longer work some will do anything to get it fixed. And these fraudulent companies know that.

The only way we can try to beat them is to spread the word. This blog is my attempt to help people not get scammed. Guru Aid is a scam. Make sure you know the company you are calling. They purposely make it confusing.

This post is to warn people of companies waiting to gouge you, not promote my books. But if you are interested please read on.

“When a train runs over a penny, the penny changes form, but it can still be a penny if I want it to be. Or, I can make it be something else.”

Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

As they’re about to graduate from high school, Abbey’s family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality.

After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the track is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.


Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. She has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon. Life permitting.

When she is not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews.

Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Bitch is Back

December 4, 2006 | The Soapbox

And I’m not talking about the old Elton John song. In fact, I don’t even mean people, specifically me. This blog is all about complaining, griping, voila!, bitching and football. No whining allowed.

Studs says a romance writer shouldn’t blog sports. He’s probably right, but after watching tight ends in spandex for many a game,we won’t discuss drooling in this blog by the way, I finally learned a little about the game. And here’s what I perceived after Sunday afternoon’s debacle; Rex Grossman is not a Pro. In fact he doesn’t even qualify as a man. he’s a boy who’s lost the ability to play high school football. No slur intended to all the fine students who dedicate themselves to the game.

The only reason the Chicago Bears won yesterday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings was through the efforts of everyone else on the team. Yes, folks, that’s correct. When we have defense players the caliber of Lance Briggs who has no problem getting into the Viking Quarterback’s face so Brian Urlacher can intercept the ball, baby you got some Pros.

Devin Hester from Special Teams made another outstanding play (his first a couple of games back when he made a 108.4 yard TD) as he made the first touchdown of this game in the second quarter.

Back to the defense and Ricky Manning Jr. who made a second touchdown in the third quarter. And of course Cedric Benson who in the fourth brought in our third TD.

Then there was Robbie Gould and his dead-on kicks for the extra point after each touchdown. You’ve got to love his accuracy.

See folks, these men play as a team. They are Pros giving their all, along with the other outstanding men in their sections, to bring home victories and move us up the ladder to the play-offs and maybe even the Super Bowl.

Lovie Smith insists Grossman will play in next Sunday’s game against the Rams. What in the world is he thinking?

That’s it folks. The bitch is over. I’m going to take Studs advice and return to what I know best – romance, sex, and consumation.

Have a good day,

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It’s Just One Woman’s Opinion

November 27, 2006 | The Soapbox

And I’m entitled to it! Game after game I watch Rex Grossman do stupid plays and am more then willing to sell my PSL seat to anyone crazy enough to hand over five bucks. The guy is not a quarterback. Hell, he’s barely a football player. And as for team player, do not get me started on that topic.

His coach has publicly commented that Rex doesn’t always follow the rules and becomes a little anxious out on the field. NO SHIT! Well, I’m anxious too. I want to see my Chicago Bears win and beat the snot out of their opponents all the way through the Super Bowl. Hey, I can dream.

Lovie, you can be just like Loretta Lynn and stand by your man, but like her you’ll end up dead and sadly bring the entire team down in the process.

My rant is over and thank you for listening,

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A Serious Situation

August 26, 2006 | General, The Soapbox

Maya Reynolds at writes excellent blogs. Check out her site for many pertinent topics.

With Maya’s permission I’ve her blog for August 25. Please read this and share it with everyone you know. It is a serious problem that we can help stop.

Friday, August 25, 2006
Wake Up, America!!
I had a plan for another blog for today, but something happened to change my mind.

This evening I was working on the membership rolls for Passionate Ink, an RWA online chapter, which is in the middle of its membership renewal drive. I had the television on, but wasn’t really paying attention to it.

Primetime was doing a special on AIDS in America. Within minutes, I found myself getting up and moving to where I could watch it.

The statistics were almost unbelievable:

***African-Americans make up 13% of the American population, but account for 50% of the new HIV cases in this country

***The HIV infection rate is eight times higher in the black population than in the white population

***Black women are twenty-three times more likely than white women to be diagnosed with AIDS

***AIDS has been the leading cause of death for African-American women between the ages of 25 and 44 for the past eleven years

***Sixty-eight percent of all new AIDS cases in the U.S. are black women

If you don’t believe me, go to and check. That’s where I got these statistics. Coincidentally, this was the last story Peter Jennings worked on before announcing his lung cancer diagnosis. In an eerie interview during the program, Peter met with a group of HIV-infected black men about ten days before telling the world of his own illness. You can already see the ravages of the disease on him.

I was outraged by this documentary. I cannot believe that this issue could have been going on in this country without anyone talking about it. Frankly, I’ve been under the impression that we were on top of the HIV epidemic in this country. We keep hearing about AIDS now being a chronic disease as opposed to a death sentence. The press focuses its attention on the AIDS crisis in Africa. No one is talking about this issue’s impact on American citizens.

Terry Moran finished the report that Peter had started. The ABC website sets it up this way: “‘In America today, AIDS is virtually a black disease, by any measure,’ says Phill Wilson, executive director of The Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles. Wilson also points out that while many black American leaders and celebrities have embraced the cause of the epidemic’s toll in Africa, few have devoted similar energy to the crisis here at home.”

The documentary listed five reasons for this crisis in the black community:

1) Ignorance of the problem: I can buy that. No one even knows there IS a problem.

2) The War on Drugs: According to Moran, since 1980, the War on Drugs has quadrupled the prison population in America. The infection rate is five times higher inside prison than outside. Men who go into prison HIV negative come out HIV positive. Although the state and federal governments are aware that sexual activity is taking place in prison, they refuse to provide condoms to the prisoners.

3) Sexual practices in the black community: It turns out that there are 85 African American men of marriageable age for every 100 African American women. This imbalance leads to the fact that “Black men are more than twice as likely as white men to have multiple female partners at the same time,” according to studies by the Universities of Chicago and North Carolina. The study in North Carolina concluded that black women in that state were fourteen times more likely to contract AIDS than white women. One of the results of the increased number of sexual partners is that blacks have a higher rate of STDs, which facilitates HIV transmission by making it easier for the disease to attack the host.

4) The stigma of homosexuality in the black community: Homosexuality is so frowned upon in the black community that blacks are much less likely than whites to come out of the closet. This leads to men being “on the down low” (DL). Bisexual black men or married homosexual black men do not share their sexual histories with their female partners. The result is that many black women contract HIV from a male partner who is also engaging in homosexual sex on the down low.

Women who are in committed–and they think–monogamous relationships are being infected by partners who are having–or once had–sex with other men. The first time many of these women learn of this is when they receive the diagnosis.

When AIDS first emerged as an issue in this country, it was a disease of gay men. However, the gay community was all over it. They mobilized and worked hard to get information out on safe sexual practices. The result was that they slowed down the rate of new cases of the disease–even though it devastated their ranks for many years. The black community has not rallied in the same way. The documentary postulates that this is largely because of the stigma associated with homosexuality.

“‘I know of few communities as conservative as the African American community, especially about sex,’ says Debra Fraser-Howze, CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS in New York. ‘And when it comes to homosexuality, it’s a real problem. Nobody wants to talk about it.'”

5) A failure of leadership in this country: According to ABC, “Moran also reports on the role of the churches, traditionally the most powerful source of political and social activism in black America. Black churches have been silent on AIDS, says The Rev. Calvin Butts Jr., Rector of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. ‘When you see the numbers going up, you know you have not done enough,’ he says.”

The Rev. Eugene Rivers of Boston says, “too many young people are dying because black leaders have failed their children.”

A lack of support on the part of the federal government for needle exchange programs for drug users, which have proven effective in reducing HIV transmission, was also cited as an example of a failure of leadership.

Fixing this problem begins with making Americans aware that there even is a problem in our own country. If everyone who saw that program or reads this blog will just tell three other people about it and those people will tell three more, we can begin to lift the veil of secrecy that has been hiding this problem for far too long. We should all be offended by the lack of action on the part of our leadership to address this serious health issue.

I feel a particular kinship with my black sisters who are being infected, often without their knowledge. This is not right. It has to stop.

P.S. Sloane Taylor has asked whether she could cut and paste this message. Please feel free to do so. I offer permission to copy today’s post and email it. Whatever. Just get the word out, please. We need to get enough people angry that our leadership will have no choice but to respond.

Thank you for reading this and please remember to pass it along.




December 12, 2005 | The Soapbox

Beliefs are foisted on us as children. We’re taught our religion is the best or only one, family is all important, the judicial system is fair and just, and there will always be someone who loves you.

What we learn as adults is there are many good religions be they Christian or not, family can and will let you down when you most need them, sometimes good people go to prison by mistake, and it’s not bad going solo.

So why do we have beiefs? What’s their purpose in this world gone mad? This is what I surmised after many days of introspection;

Without my beliefs in God, or at least a higher being, I’d be a lost soul forever seeking the light. Although I’m not a fan of organized religion, it does serve a purpose to educate us and make us feel safe. As we learn more of the world it’s okay to alter our opinions on what we want to support as long as we are being true to our personal beliefs.

Without my daughter I would never have had the joy of seeing, first-hand, an innocent babe evolve into a woman whose own beliefs and character are strong and passionate. A woman who makes me proud.

Without my son-in-law I would have been denied meeting a fine young man who has taught me much about trust and faith.

Without my granddaughters I would never have known the promise of the future and the amazing joy of hearing the first, “I love you” spoken.

Without a judicial system, be it suspect at times, our world would be a sewer.

And love? Without it I would never have known the strength and generosity of a passionate man or the support of true friends.

Over the years my beliefs have changed, altered, and refined. Some have grown stronger while others passed away like violets after the first snow. But what I’ve really learned was without my beiefs, my life would have been a waste.



My Admitted Shame

November 23, 2005 | The Soapbox

Tomorrow is the day when American families will gather around dining room tables groaning with an abundance of goodies. They’ll clasp hands and say a prayer of thanks for everything good in their lives. My family will do the same thing.

What I wonder is, do these same people ever give a thought beyond themselves? Do they ever consider the section of humanity who doesn’t share an opulent meal with family or friends? Have they ever given a thought to the homeless freezing in their cardboard homes with little or no protection from the elements?

Most of us don’t, unless it’s to side-step and quickly look away as if homelessness and hunger are dreaded diseases spread by a glance. What a shame that we stroll on by in our Guccis and Ferragamos while children huddle starving and are clothed in rags.

I’m no better than thousands of other Americans who do nothing except for the occassional handout. In my heart I cry for these people, but on the surface all I do is talk a good game. Pathetic isn’t it, just two days ago I was overcome with joy to win as a finalist in two categories of a prized contest and never gave a thought to people less fortunate?

Today I’ve matured and decided yes, I damn well will do something about it. I have promised myself I will contact a shelter and work at least one day a week, not out of pity, to simply do the right thing.

You are all welcomed and encouraged to challenge me, question my motives, and be sure I follow through on my promise.