My View by Sandra

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Day 11 – Hawaii Cruise & I won money!

Lucky Cat

Lucky Cat

I woke up feeling as though I were coming down with a cold. Went to the breakfast buffet for a relaxing, delicious breakfast. I’m trying to be sure that I use the stairs every chance I get so perhaps I won’t take all this food home (in the form of a larger me).

It’s getting a little chillier as we head back to the main land. Love saying “main land”. Sounds cool to me. Not feeling fantastic so I just laid around most of the remaining morning. I wish I were major wealthy – I think thing one of my favorite things on this cruise is the over-sized balcony. It’s almost as big as our room. We’ve really spent a lot of time out there.
We headed back to the casino. After all, I had casino money I was playing on so it wasn’t hurting as much. I found another machine that just kept winning. These are 2 cent machines so there’s no huge jackpot – just lots of playing time. Finished out ahead again. What a nice feeling. There was a $1 slot machine that had a ‘spin’ thing on it. If you landed on the ‘spin’, you got to d’oh … hit on spin and win what it had. I really wanted to try it so decided that I’d spend $20 and if it didn’t hit, I’d walk away. Four dollars in, it came up with two bars and a 25 times symbol. Five hundred dollars! How cool was that? I still had $16 of my original $20 so decided to finish that – again for a chance to spin. Four more dollars and this time I hit a seven and TWO of the 25 times symbols. Not sure what the symbols were – just knew they were good. This time, the machine didn’t give me my winnings, I had to wait for an attendant to come so I could sign some forms. I was so excited. This time I won $1,250. With all my winnings, my cruise was paid for.
I couldn’t believe how my luck had changed and then remembered I’d bought a little Japanese Maneki Neko (Lucky Cat) when I was in Maui. I didn’t buy it for good luck, I just thought it was a cute piece of Japanese art that I had seen. I did notice that every shop had one sitting by their cash registers. Could it be the little critter was beckoning the slots to win?
I was on Cloud 9 and except for the nasty cold that seemed to be creeping up on me, all was well in Sandra-Land.

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Favorite Sites, Travel, Vacation | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Would you keep money you found?

A California man, Eli Estrada, found $140,000 in unmarked bills on the road. There was absolutely no way he would have been caught if he had kept it. It had fallen off the bumper of a Brink’s truck. Brinks denied it was theirs and Bank of America (the true owners) denied it was theirs.

His friends and many who have read about it or who have seen it on the news, think he was crazy to turn the money in. I imagine in this day and age, with all the video cameras around, you would first wonder if you’d been “punked” or if you’re older – that you were on “Candid Camera”. I imagine wondering if you were going to get caught would be first and foremost in you mind.

Or, if you’d read recently about the sting operation of the local police department in the Antelope Valley (California) at the mall, you’d really have second thoughts about keeping it. Police planted an agent at a table in the food court of the mall. The agent “accidently” dropped the wallet and left. When people picked up the wallet and either left or failed to rush to catch the agent to return the wallet, they were arrested. I kid you not. One woman had four children with her. The youngest was going through potty training and needed to be taken to the restroom immediately. The mother felt this was more important and that the wallet could be dealt with afterward. Nope. She was arrested in front of her children and taken to jail.

My question is: would you return the money you found on the street? And, what do you think of the story of the four who are facing charges because they were set up at a mall and didn’t return a wallet fast enough.

Since you’re probably thinking I’m exaggerating the story of the “wallet sting” and perhaps have some of my facts confused – below is the story as it appeared in the Valley Press on March 5, 2008.

http://avpress.com/n/05/0305_s4.hts
Four arrested in dropped-wallet sting
This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press
Wednesday, March 5, 2008.

By VERONICA ROCHA
Valley Press Staff Writer
PALMDALE – Four women were arrested Friday on grand theft charges in a sting operation set up to determine whether individuals would turn in a bag or wallet containing $400 to Antelope Valley Mall personnel or law enforcement officials.

However, some of the women believe they were wrongly arrested and never given the chance to hand over the bag or wallet to authorities.

“They were given the opportunity to turn in the property,” said Deputy Charles Lemke of the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station. “There is no particular prescribed method in how we do it.”

Individuals were arrested if they picked up the property and tried to conceal it or didn’t immediately turn it over to authorities, who Lemke said were walking around the mall during Friday’s sting operation.

An armed uniformed deputy or security guard, he said, walked up and stood next to the individuals who picked up the wallet.

“They made themselves very known,” Lemke said.

Martha Valadez , 39, is one of those who believes she wasn’t given a chance to turn in the wallet.

“It was like entrapment,” she said. “I feel like it is an injustice to all of us.”

The mother of four, ages 2½, 7, 10 and 12, said she was sitting in the mall’s food courtyard, feeding her three daughters and watching her son, who was inside a game store adjacent to the courtyard.

Valadez said a woman, to whom she said she didn’t pay much attention, was sitting across from her. She said she glanced back in the woman’s direction, but all she saw was a brown checked wallet.

Valadez said she didn’t see the woman leave the table, but Lemke maintained, “She (Valadez) watched the individual actually stand up and walk away.”

Valadez said when she saw the wallet, she instantly thought of turning it into authorities. She told one of her daughters to pick up the wallet, but the girl said she was embarrassed to do so.

“We have always turned in things we find,” she said. “I have always taught my children to return something they found.”

After the daughter finally grabbed the wallet, Valadez said her youngest child, who is being potty trained, asked to use the restroom.

Valadez said she took the wallet from her daughter, then asked her son to hold onto it as she balanced the youngest on her hip.

She and her children headed to a restroom in the hopes of getting into a stall before her daughter soiled herself, she said.

When she walked out of the restroom, two men in plain clothes displayed badges and told her to follow them into a office, where they questioned her.

She told them she intended to turn in to wallet to the proper authorities, but her daughter had to use the restroom.

“It’s not an excuse, it’s the truth,” Valadez said. “They didn’t even give me a chance to turn it in.

“I didn’t even open it and I don’t even know what kind of information was inside.”

Hortencia Huidor , 38, and her mother, Hortencia Diaz , 60, also had no clue what was inside a wallet and shopping bag they found at a water fountain, the younger woman said.

“We didn’t even open the wallet,” Huidor said.

Huidor said she; her mother; her husband, Jesse; and the couple’s children had gone to the mall to buy a skateboard for her son.

While Huidor’s children and husband were inside a skateboard shop, she and her mother, who had come from San Diego to visit her that same day, walked over to a water fountain, she said.

Her mother sat down to rest while a woman beside them rifled through a purse, she said.

Huidor said she returned to the fountain after trying to buy her mother a soda from a cookie shop, when she saw the woman was gone and had left behind a plastic bag and wallet.

Huidor told her mother to pick up the bag and wallet so they could turn it over to the service desk.

Huidor and her mother went inside the skateboard shop first to get her children and husband.

She said noticed a security guard enter the shop, then walk out.

Huidor said she didn’t tell the guard about the wallet and bag due to a previous experience in which she was told by a security officer to turn in a found object to the service desk, she said.

Two men in plain clothes with badges entered the skateboard shop and asked if she picked up a wallet, grabbing her and her mother.

“They didn’t give us a chance to say anything,” Huidor said.

She said she told deputies, “You have no proof that I wasn’t going to turn it in.”

The fourth woman arrested was Baudelia Alcaraz , 44, Lemke said.

Five people immediately turned over the found property to authorities during the sting operation, Lemke said.

One of the women arrested actually opened the wallet and took money out of it as she was being followed by deputies, the deputy said.

The operation was the second of its kind, he said. Supported by mall security and personnel, it was conducted by the sheriff’s station’s Partners for a Better Palmdale deputies to determine if individuals misappropriated found property or committed grand theft, Lemke said.

“We are trying to make the mall a safer place for everybody,” he said. “We want people to have a conscience to turn in property to the proper authorities.”

Mall General Manager Keith Geiger said he wouldn’t comment on his personal opinions about the sting operation.

“I think that if the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station found a need for it, then I supported them,” he said.

Valadez said she now questions whether she should have taken her daughter to the bathroom or first have gone to authorities with the wallet.

“I had been working really hard to get her potty trained, and I just wanted to take her so that she would learn how to go to the bathroom herself,” she said. “I just didn’t think about turning in the wallet first.”

Valadez, who also was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, said she and her children are emotionally drained.

“What people want is the best for their kids,” she said. “Why would I put them in that situation?”

vrocha@avpress.com

April 10, 2008 Posted by | The News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Save the Earth – Save Money $$$

I was going to start this off with mentioning Earth Day. I googled it and came up with different dates on different sites. It’s one of the days from April 19th – April 22, 2008. But every day should be Earth Day. We’re all trying to do our part to keep the Earth here for future generations. Or, we should be.

I’ve made some changes. Some actually save me money while they’re helping our planet.

One of the main topics on the news every day – and one of the first topics brought up in a conversation is the price of gas. We don’t see less huge SUV’s on the road, we don’t see more people driving hybrids and we still see that the traffic is going between 75 and 90 on the freeways.

So how can we keep griping about the amount we have to spend on gas when we’re not trying to do something about it? Emails have circulated in the past that we should boycott by not buying gas on a certain day. That only inconveniences us because we still have to fill up.

If everyone tried to do some gas conservation it would make a bigger impact on gas companies without inconveniencing us as much. There are many ways to conserve with the biggest one being that you slow down. Do you realize how much money you’d save a year? Just by changing your driving habits, you can improve fuel economy by 37%. Leave earlier to go where you need to go and then relax – get there in one piece and have some extra money in your pocket.

In trying to save money, someone will stop getting their mocha latte each morning, cut back on lunch or skip buying that great pair of shoes. I would never sacrifice that. I’d prefer to drive 5 mph slower and save it in my gas tank.

The next time you want to gripe about the cost of gas – stop and ask yourself if you HAVE to spend as much as you do. The more money you save for yourself – the more you save the planet and screw the gas companies.

Fuel economy tests

45 Professional Tips to Cut Big Gasoline Bills

How to Save Money on Gas

We can do something about this.

March 27, 2008 Posted by | Environment | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment