Sunday, July 31, 2011

Conversation Piece- Natacha Gillis response

I just received a response to a post I made a few months back in which I purchased tickets on ebay only to find out that they were fraudulent. This person even created a blog just to reply.

Here's what she said:

I have just discovered your blog VALERIE KOKENGE and I find it somewhat sad that a person who seems to be intelligent would make such a libelous statement about somebody before getting the facts.

I'm the person who sold you those tickets on Ebay. My sister had 4 tickets, but decided to re-sell 2 of them since the people who were supposed to go could not make it, and those tickets were sold for less than what she had paid initially, with the fees and such. so you VALERIE KOKENGE, saved money. 

It's not her fault if the show was canceled/postponed and you did hurt your leg. I also find it sad that you DID NOT try to contact me/us at anytime, if you had concerns about the tickets, so how could we've known something was wrong?  Also for your information, she DID NOT get a refund on your tickets! I just spoke to her, having discovered your libelous comments in your blog, and she has confirmed to me she only got a refund on 2 out of the original 4 tickets she had. (the show being postponed, she could not make it afterall, and decided to get a refund on HER 2 tickets) Obviously, she was not going to get a refund on something she had sold and did not have in her possession anymore! So, I don't know what this cashier actually told you at the box office, apparently there had to be some sort of mix up,  but obviously the information they told you was not the reality!  Your original tickets were NEVER refunded, she NEVER got money back from those and what you've said here has made her really angry and sad when she discovered it. It was you who made the error buying another set of tickets, while the one you had were perfectly fine!

And it was you VALERIE KOKENGE who has made the error of slandering my sister with incorrect statements. My sister is an honest person, she never tried to con you and you should be ashamed of yourself.

It is too late to correct the error you have transmitted on internet via your blog. However, I would expect you to remove the incorrect statements you have contributed towards my sister and if you where decent even put an apology to her in your blog, as well as writing to the people who wrote on your blog about your error in judgement if you have their email.

And in a statement to all people who make comments on erroneous blogs, before making a comment, think twice, make sure the facts are correct as there are always two sides to every story. You unwittingly make yourself guilty as well as the original blogger in propagating incorrect stories.



I called ticketmaster mid year and they could not tell me anything about the tickets because I did not have the credit card number that was used to purchase them. I did not have a phone number for your sister. The ebay account was closed. All I had was her name which showed on the ticket stub. They told me the original ticket holder could get a refund at any time even without the physical tickets. But I never had any concern about the tickets being good because I trusted that they would still be since I purchased them in good faith and knew that the old tickets would be honored at the rescheduled concert. Plus, I also tried to facebook her but never received any answer.

We drove up to Denver and talked directly to the ticket office the morning of the concert. They took the tickets from us since refunds had been given on them. Obviously she got a refund on my two tickets she sold me because when we tried to use them they were declared fraudulent. It was rather embarassing and maddening to drive 450 miles only to find out my tickets weren't good anymore. How did I save any money when I couldn't use them!!!

Maybe she got a refund on all four tickets and didn't tell you? Ticketmaster sent out emails that only needed a response for the refund. No tickets needed to be presented. If she didn't get a refund, then I don't know what happened to the validity of the tickets.

I do know that I purchased two tickets in good faith on ebay and then wasn't able to use them because they were declared invalid. What else should I think??


She still got her money for the tickets (from me) but I ended up with no tickets although I paid out the money! I was going to say that I'm sorry that she didn't get her refund like she says, but it does come across like she did. And if she did, then she was paid TWICE for the tickets. All I can say is 'my bad, for buying tickets on EBay. Shame on me, I should have known better.

Conversation Piece - song; Conversation Piece, artist: David Bowie

Sunday Stills (7/31/11 Ethnic Foods)

This week's challenge is to photograph ethnic foods. Well, I haven't had many sit down meals lately because I've been
  1. Working late most nights
  2. Went to the horse show Thursday and Friday evenings
  3. Usually eating alone since both of my live-at-home kids go out most nights.
A bowl of ice cream with a banana or a salad and a piece of chicken is usually the extent of my dinner. Plus, I've gained 5-8 pounds with my forced inactivity from my broken ankle so I try not to eat too much. Unfortunately, that doesn't work very well since I have a Coke addiction and the fountain drinks are only $.52 at our local Circle K gas station convenience stores.

Anyway, tonight, I had some guacamole and tortilla chips. Alas, I didn't think to take a picture until several hours after it was made. It was a beautful bright green earlier but avocado turns black when exposed to air.
Oh well, anyway, here are my offerings:

Guacamole and tortilla chips

Homemade pizza from an archives photo
Fried chicken and watermelon
Garlic bread, salad, and lasagne, also archived
Okay, now I'm hungry...

For more Sunday Stills, please visit here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Foto

This framed poster was hanging on a wall in a local restraurant. The small print says: "Keep the shiny side up."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Drew Something

Throughout history, man has always liked to do outrageous, oversized projects.

The Ica-Nazca civilization drew many lines and figures believed to be homage to their gods, now known as the Nazca lines.

For more information on Ica-Nazca line drawings, see here.

Possibly more famous, and much more to my taste, is the Uffington White Horse. See here for more information.

See here for a slideshow of some awesome giant drawings/advertisements made in recent times.

I Drew Something : song, Breaking Glass, artist: David Bowie, album: Low

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sunday Stills Farm (Ranch) Animals (7-24-11)

The challenge this week is to show my farm animals. Many of these photos are from today, a few are from the last week or so, and a few are from archives.

Here are Louise and Thelma, my recently acquired alpacas. This is the first time I've been able to approach them when they're cushing (laying down). Alas, they both stood up right after the photo.
Of course, my two year old Arabian filly Yalla! must be included.
Here's Annie, Yalla!'s 18 year old Polish Arabian dam, stepping out.

Like mother, like daughter; Yalla! is  doing some fancy stepping with her tail flagged out too.
Nadia and Scout are enjoying their gallop. Nadia is my 28 year old Egyptian Arabian mare and Scout is part Appaloosa-Arabian and Paint. What a combination!
Here's Sandy, the stray dog who adopted us last summer. I think she's part Terrier and part Australian Cattle Dog.
She's always up for a frolic.
 And here is her best buddy, my Little Buddha, a Japanese Chin. He usually curls his tail over his back. I'm not sure why he's not doing it here. Several months ago he had severe back problems. Now he runs all around the neighborhood with Sandy, with the energy of a puppy. I worry about him because he's so little, less than five pounds, and we often have coyotes in the area.
Just today, I took this photograph of Terra, my 16 year old American Shorthair, enjoying the great outdoors for a little while. Only a few months ago, I lost her brother, Simba, to kidney failure.
 This large bull snake likes to frequent my yard and especially, the grill.

This time, he was trying to catch himself a lizard dinner. He may be the same bull snake that killed one of my neighbor's chicks. I hope not.
I have about nine nests in my barn right now and two on my house so I must include the barn swallows in my post.

Ravens abound in my barnyard and surrounding areas. During the winter, a couple of them roost in the rafters.

For more Sunday Stills, please visit here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dive Right Out

I have been waiting months for last Saturday to happen and it finally did! And then we did it!!

My older son, Ross, was born on Lincoln's birthday, February 12th, and my younger one, Trevor, was born on Washington's birthday, February 22nd. At a loss for special birthday gifts and strapped for cash, I happened upon a deal through Living Social deals. I purchased a certificate for each of my boys to use, and then one for me too. 

Then I broke my ankle and thought, 'Oh great! Now I won't be able to use my certificate before the expiration date.' We all anxiously waited to see how fast I could recover and finally, in despair, I offered my certificate to my daughter to go in my place. She really didn't want to take my place but she wanted to try it. Then, three weeks ago, like an omen, another deal became available, this one through Groupon, and I began to feel like I might be able to do it, so I jumped on it. Now, we had four certificates, so we could go as a family. FUN!!

What is IT, you ask?  SCUBA diving lessons!! We each now had a certificate for a Try Scuba Diving lesson. However, the expiration was in July for three of the certificates so we had to use them quickly or lose them.

I went to sign us all up and asked if there would be any problems with my ankle being the way it was after my recent surgery. They told me that if I answered yes to anything on the medical questionaire they would not allow me to participate but that it was up to me. I thought about it and decided that 'no, I didn't have any problems walking (more or less)' and 'no, I did not have any complications from recent, or otherwise, surgery.' Other than that, my family has no medical problems, so it was a go.

We met up for lunch last Saturday, along with my mom who was in town, at Pappadeaux, for some seafood. What else?
Things got kind of silly from our nervous anticipation.

We headed over to the New Mexico Scuba Center for our 2:30PM lesson.
Two other people signed up for the class but one was a "no show" so it felt like a prvate lesson as we were four of the five students present. AND my mom was there too, whom I want to thank for taking the photos while I was in the water.
We watched a film on Scuba Diving risks and safety and then the teacher demonstrated how to use the equipment.  
Next, we tried on wet suits. How cool is that?

It was time to head for the pool. Yes, this was only a baby session to be held at a swimming pool but still, we were all very excited!
As newbies, we didn't have to do much in preparation.  Stacy, the shop owner, and our teacher, Dave, readied and checked all the equipment for us.

Then it was time to get wet. We began with a short snorkeling lesson. I did all right but never was able to go fully underwater like my daughter, who did flips with ease.

Several years ago, my husband and I flew to the Cayman Islands for five glorious days of company meetings and holiday. My husband had won the trip as high producing salesman just before he was laid off- figure that one out! The local sales division closed down as part of a corporate reorganization. So, my unemployed husband and I went with the company anyway and had a grand old time with other division sales managers, reps of the company, and customers who had won the trip, including three couples my husband had personally worked with and helped to get the trip for. There must have been sixty of us all together from the company. As part of the trip package, we had a choice of several outings:
  1. Bus tour around Grand Cayman, including going to a rum factory and to Hell and back
  2. Snorkeling in Stingray City where the name says it all- you get to swim with and feed stingrays
  3. Take a submarine down 100 feet over the abyss
  4. Play a round of golf
  5. Go scuba diving
  6. Go deep sea fishing
We decided to do #3 together. I didn't much care for golf or fishing, although he would have enjoyed them both. As a matter of fact, he did go deep sea fishing with the company president and several other men and found it rather boring. They didn't catch anything and several of the people were either drinking or hungover from the previous evening's festivites. At this time, my husband had recently given up drinking so he didn't appreciate being in their company much. Anyway, snorkeling and scuba diving didn't appeal to my husband because he didn't like to go swimming. And, we didn't think we'd get much out of the scuba since we didn't know how beforehand.

The Atlantis submarine ride was awesome! We saw sea turtles and lots of huge fish. At 100 feet underwater, our lips and fingernails turned a strange shade of green. I was slightly hungover from too many Cayman Mamas the night before and worried about tossing my cookies amongst the 40 passengers. Thankfully, I maintained proper decorum.

While in Cayman, I went snorkeling from the hotel beach. The guy renting the equipment told me that there are two main rules for snorkeling:
  1. go with a buddy.
  2. never take your mask off.
Unfortunately, I didn't follow either rule. My husband stayed on the beach while I paddled around by myself. I enjoyed the enchanting view of the underwater world from my mask and soon discovered myself near the buoys several hundred yards out from shore. I panicked. I realized that I was near the point where the water pulls away from shore rather than towards shore. Cayman is surrounded by an underwater shelf and a 3,000 foot abyss. I worried about going over that. I pulled my mask off as I came up out of the water. I swallowed a mouthful of sea water, choked and took in more. Suddenly, I was in panic mode and I knew that I could easily drown before anyone would get to me.

I calmed myself down, thinking that it was all up to me to save myself. I put my mask and mouthpiece back on, ducked my head under the water, and began paddling towards shore, calmly and steadily, breathing as regularly as I could. When I got to shore, I told my husband what happened and he said there was a point where he considered getting a banana boat to come rescue me. I did go snorkeling the next morning- it was a 24 hour rental- only I never went further than six to ten feet from shore. I guess it's that perverse "gotta get back on the horse" mentality. However,I was thrilled to see a large stingray swim right underneath me. My husband, on shore, never saw a thing. Crazy.

While having dinner our final evening, at the Grand Old House, a restaurant with a fantastic seaside view, we watched some scuba divers make a night dive. Several hundred yards out, we could see their lights in the clear darkness of the night waters as we enjoyed eating conch appetisers, roast chicken and prime rib with all the other members of our entourage. It was a spectacular evening. And I was intrigued with the Scuba divers.

I'm in the pink snorkeling fins. Everyone else wore the wet suit boots with their fins. Why? because I'm so special! (I think Stacey did it to help out with my ankle.) I also had a brown and black wet suit while everyone else had blue and black. It sure was hard to tell who's who under the water without my glasses with everyone looking the same.

Maybe because of my Cayman scare, I experienced some mini panic attacks when I first tried to breathe underwater. I worried about having enough air to breathe and then I realized that I could. The instructor had told us not to hold our breath and to breathe normally and regularly.

During the lesson, I made myself work through my fears and soon found myself exploring the bottom of the pool along with the other divers. We swam around and around, playing with a torpedo toy and getting acquainted with the breathing regulators and balast, inflating to go up and deflating to go down. It was great! We finally called it quits when our fingers were pruned and, in spite of the wet suits, began to get cold- well, I was anyway, around 7:00PM.

We all had a great time and decided we wanted to become certified divers. I don't know if it will happen but I'd be game. The Open Water classes run for about a month and then they camp out at one of two New Mexico lakes (Blue Hole or Bottomless Lakes)  for the certification testing. There are several dive shops in Albuquerque and nearby cities and they all take a couple of diving trips each year to explore exotic places. I guess the only problem is that I lack both time and money for those trips. Otherwise, the certification is good forever. Hmmmm, gotta think about that for a while.

Yes, my ankle did hurt while I swam and kicked about and it swelled considerably afterwards. But then, it still swells every day and it's still very stiff in the joint. I'm just learning to live with it and I am making small progress. It gets a little easier to walk and flex all the time.

What a great day!!

Dive Right Out - Sacrifice Yourself, artist: Tin Machine, album: Tin Machine

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Stills (People 7/17/11)

Today's Sunday Stills challenge is to photograph groups of people.

Since I was up in Portland, Oregon last weekend for my nephew's wedding and managed to go to the beach the day before, I decided to share some of those photos (like the Friday Foto crabs). We didn't have much time so my brother drove down the beach (at about 40 miles per hour!).
Many Oregonians were out on the beach that day enjoying the sunlight and ~sort of~ warm weather. Notice the little person in the hole, hiding from us as we passed by. I think he might be halfway to China, don't you?

 Here's something I've always wanted to do- ride horses on the beach.  
 Isn't the last rider just too precious? Her pony is a mini me of her Dad's horse. lol.
Here's a couple enjoying some solitude.
Much of the coastline was void of people,

 but there's nothing like an old shipwreck to draw the crowds.
A few people were flying kites
and harnessing the wind power for their dune buggies.

Lots of people were enjoying the sunshine at a nearby lake too.

For more Sunday Stills, please visit here.