January 26, 2009

Keep a watchful eye...

Whether or not it was directly related to the article posted below, I had my credit card information jacked over the weekend. Somehow my credit card information was stolen and used to make a purchase.

Thankfully, I have Identity Theft Protection through Wells Fargo, and was instantly notified of some "questionable" transactions on my card.

I was able to catch it in time that the thieves were only able to get two transactions through, one for $1 that was declined when they incorrectly guessed the expiration date, and unfortunately one for $225 on craigslist that has been flagged as fraudulent.

Either way, I had to cancel both mine and Kim's cards and will be getting new ones soon enough. The charges will be reversed soon, but the lesson was learned. We have both placed Fraud alerts on our credit reports through Transunion so that if there are any attempts to gain credit on our accounts, we will be instantly notified.

It's probably a good idea to read the article below and pay close attention to your financial accounts, as its estimated that up to 200 million people, or 2/3 of the U.S. population, could be affected by this.

Ironically, my friend has his ATM card number and PIN stolen and had $500 taken from an ATM this same week. Both he and his wife still have their cards and have never misplaced them.

In both our cases, it seems as though the information was lifted using sophisticated information tracking and we are easier prey than I thought. You can never be too careful.

Payment Processor Breach May Be Largest Ever

"A data breach last year at Princeton, N.J., payment processor Heartland Payment Systems may have compromised tens of millions of credit and debit card transactions, the company said today.

If accurate, such figures may make the Heartland incident one of the largest data breaches ever reported.

Robert Baldwin, Heartland's president and chief financial officer, said the company, which processes payments for more than 250,000 businesses, began receiving fraudulent activity reports late last year from MasterCard and Visa on cards that had all been used at merchants which rely on Heartland to process payments.

Baldwin said 40 percent of transactions the company processes are from small to mid-sized restaurants across the country. He declined to name any well-known establishments or retail clients that may have been affected by the breach.

Baldwin said it would be unfair to mention any one of his company's customers.

"No merchant of ours represents even [one-tenth of one percent] of our volume, and to put out any name associated with what is obviously an unfortunate incident is not fair," he said. "Their customers might end up having their cards used fraudulently, but that fraud might turn out to have come from their store, or it might be from another Heartland store and no one will ever really know."

Heartland called U.S. Secret Service and hired two breach forensics teams to investigate. But Baldwin said it wasn't until last week that investigators uncovered the source of the breach: A piece of malicious software planted on the company's payment processing network that recorded payment card data as it was being sent for processing to Heartland by thousands of the company's retail clients.

Baldwin said Heartland does not know how long the malicious software was in place, how it got there or how many accounts may have been compromised. The stolen data includes names, credit and debit card numbers and expiration dates.

"The transactional data crossing our platform, in terms of magnitude... is about 100 million transactions a month," Baldwin said. "At this point, though, we don't know the magnitude of what was grabbed."

The company stressed that no merchant data or cardholder Social Security numbers, unencrypted personal identification numbers (PIN), addresses or telephone numbers were jeopardized as a result of the breach.

The data stolen includes the digital information encoded onto the magnetic stripe built into the backs of credit and debit cards. Armed with this data, thieves can fashion counterfeit credit cards by imprinting the same stolen information onto fabricated cards.

"The nature of the [breach] is such that card-not-present transactions are actually quite difficult for the bad guys to do because one piece of information we know they did not get was an address," Baldwin said. As a result, he said, the prospect of thieves using the stolen data to rack up massive amounts of fraud at online merchants "is not impossible, but much less likely."

In many cases where a processor experiences a breach, the affected banks may simply re-issue new cards to some customers. In other cases, consumers may spot the first signs of fraudulent activity by reviewing their bank statements. It is unclear whether consumers who receive new account numbers from their bank will ever be able to definitively tie the re-issuance to the Heartland breach.

Baldwin said it was not appropriate for Heartland to offer affected consumers credit protection or other identity theft protection services.

"Identity theft protection is appropriate when there is enough personal information lost that identity theft is possible," he said. "In this case, the amount of information we know they did not get is long enough that except in very circumscribed cases identity theft is just not possible. At the same time, we recognize and feel badly about the inconvenience this is going to cause consumers."

Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst with Gartner Inc., questioned the timing of Heartland's disclosure -- a day in which many Americans and news outlets are glued to coverage of Barack Obama's inauguration as the nation's 44th president.

"This looks like the biggest breach ever disclosed, and they're doing it on inauguration day?" Litan said. "I can't believe they waited until today to disclose. That seems very deceptive."

Officials from the U.S. Secret Service could not be immediately reached for comment.

Baldwin said Heartland worked to disclose the breach last week.

"Due to legal reviews, discussions with some of the players involved, we couldn't get it together and signed off on until today," Baldwin said. "We considered holding back another day, but felt in the interests of transparency we wanted to get this information out to cardholders as soon as possible, recognizing of course that this is not an ideal day from the perspective of visibility."

The Heartland disclosure follows a year of similar breach disclosures at several major U.S. cards processors. On December 23, RBS Worldpay, a subsidiary of Citizens Financial Group Inc., said a breach of its payment systems may have affected more than 1.5 million people.

In March 2008, Hannaford Brothers Co. disclosed that a breach of its payment systems -- also aided by malicious software -- compromised at least 4.2 million credit and debit card accounts.

In early 2007, TJX Companies Inc., the parent of retailers Marshalls and TJ Maxx said a number of breaches over a three-year period exposed more than 45 million credit and debit card numbers.

In 2005, a breach at payment card processor CardSystems Solutions jeopardized roughly 40 million credit and debit card accounts."

January 24, 2009

Recession Predicted

Worth watching this video of so called "financial experts" debating with Peter Schiff - one of the few economists who saw our current financial crisis from miles away.

Too much with consumption with too much debt = artificial wealth. Watch this whole video when you get some time. It's really an eye opener.

January 22, 2009

My Changing Hair!

December 2008

I had a bit of funny inspiration I decided to post the last 3 1/2 years according to my hair color (how long we've been married). I have always changed my hair a lot, so I thought it would be funny to see its' many colors!!! Actually one of my goals over the past year has been to try and keep it all one color, so that it can "heal" and I've had it brown for exactly one year now! You can vote at the end what color is best.

May 2008

April 2008

January 2008

December 2007

November 2007

May 2007

March 2007

December 2006

Aug 2006

December 2005

July 2005

Vote for Blonde vs. Brown in the comment section!

January 18, 2009

Christmas in Jauary

Christmas a Little Late! December 17-28th

I know this is REALLY late, but Jake and I seem to be running a month behind lately. So Merry Christmas to everyone in January. Why not celebrate Christmas every month? RIGHT?

DISCLAIMER- this is long, can you believe I'm writing a long post!!!Well to begin, this is Kim writing, not Jake, and we all know how much I enjoy writing and creating little stories for our blog! So bear with me when it drags a little, but I did really want to let everyone know how our AWESOME Christmas vacation went.

I was able to get ten days off for Christmas, INCREDIBLE, considering I'm the newest HUS at my work (Banner Thunderbird Medical Center). So that definitely made for a great start. We left on a Wed Dec. 17, just in time for a blizzard to hit Las Vegas. The first time it snowed since 1979 and let me tell you everyone was freaking out. All the roads were closing, people off the streets. People driving down the street with their windows down because their defroster was not working. It took Jake and I 8 hours to drive from Phoenix to Las Vegas (it normally takes between 4-5 hours) and when we got to LV, I15 was closed down. so Jakes uncle Eddie let us stay at his house, wer were in luck because all the hotels were full in LV. Plus, his guest room is much nicer than any hotel we would have stayed at anyways. We woke up the next morning, later than we wanted to, to find the "pool boy" cleaning the pool while standing in a foot of snow. It was classic!

On we went stopping in St. George for lunch with Jake's old mission companion Carson McKim, his wife Rikki and their new beautiful baby. Jake and Carson are classic together. They are so funny and make their own jokes that they laugh at by themselves.

We finally got to my parents house that night and happily enjoyed all the festive decorations. I love my parents’ house at Christmas time; I love how my mom decorates. It's nice to have more than one room to move around in. It's funny because I feel so free when I can be, in the basement, the living room, the bathroom, or in the kitchen, etc... and not be able to see the entire house from where I'm sitting. I'm not trying to complain, but a one bedroom apartment starts to feel small after a few years. My parents have a tradition, every year we go up to Temple Square and see the lights. My mom brings homemade chili and hot chocolate and we eat it by our car and then tour the grounds. I have always liked this tradition. Lately, as I'm getting sooooo old, I am more of a baby and after about 1 1/2 hours I get cold and am pretty much done. But, it was nice while it lasts. My sister Haley wore athletic sneakers and her feet got really cold, so she used my boots and I used her sneakers and it was pretty funny seeing her walk around in big "ugg-like" boots that came up to her knees. My sister Jennifer and her boyfriend Ephraim met us there and we all went to Crown Burger. Crown Burger is my mom's favorite "burger joint." My mom is not much of a burger lover, or anything unhealthy lover, but let me tell you that the pastrami burger at Crown Burger and their fries will turn any health nut into a junk-food-junkie (that was lame I know!). We all went and got fries, and shared a pastrami burger since we were full from chili, but could not pass up going to the illustrious Crown Burger.

Later that night Jake, me, Jennifer and Ephraim all went over to Cody McArthur's house (my sister Sara's fiancé) and we watched "The Man Who Knew Too Little" INCREDIBLE MOVIE for any of you who have not watched it. Before I get into a blurb about one of the greatest movies of all time, let me tell you that my sister Sara has found a winner for a fiancé. Cody is such a sweetheart, he and Sara actually dated in high school for a couple years. They broke up for a year or so and have always stayed in touch and friends, then this summer they decided they were meant to be, and whallah. Cody proposed with an incredible rock of a ring, and they're getting married in March (I'll tell you more about them on a different post). "The Man Who Knew Too Little" is honestly one of the funniest movies ever made, very clean and hilarious. Anything with Bill Murray is genius. So if you have not seen it, YOU MUST! Other than that we did random things like see Twilight again, and went Christmas shopping in a huge blizzard. I did a little four-wheeling in the snow by my parents house, and played Wii Guitar Hero and Ticket To Ride (my favorite board game).

On the 21st of December we headed on up to the Bitner Family Christmas Party where I re-met a bunch of Jakes cousins. The Bitner family (Jake's mom's side) is HUGE. I'm serious when I say there are at least 100 people there. But, I like the largeness of it and really had a good time talking with his cousins Meghan, Kate, Kim, Alyssa and others. Jake sure has some great family, it is kind of sad that we only meet once a year. His grandpa and grandma Bitner are looking great, considering his grandma celebrated her 87th birthday. They are so kind and amazing. I love their spirit and they always say hello, even though there are 999 others there. Overall we sang The 12 days of Christmas (always lead by Barbara -Jake's mom-)and Mr. and Mrs. Claus come to visit the chicklets (There are a lot of chicklets by the way).

After that, we went on up to Jakes parents house in Deweyville, UT (by Brigham City), we drove in a blizzard of course. While we were there we did a little Christmas shopping and played Wii Rockband, LOVED IT. We watched some movies, ate great food and visited. Nothing much in particular because, once again, it was a blizzard outside (surprise, surprise- our poor Arizona car, had never seen snow). It was nice to lay back and just enjoy the time there. Jake's dad Larry had a shipment of brand-new calves arrive a couple days before Christmas. They were literally two days or less old. They all had to be bottle-fed and I think there were 12, making for a time consuming chore. Jake went and helped his dad do all of the feeding and chores, and I really wanted to help too, but I am deathly allergic to horses and most likely cows, I didn't risk it. I was amazed at the amount of hard work that Larry puts in each day. I am such a huge fan of his, and love all the info on cows, farming and milk that he provides me with! I called him up a while ago asking all about organic vs. inorganic milk. How many people can say they have the up front and center on organic milk, I can! Anyways, the work was hard, but sure worth it. I was glad Jake could help and I could witness that he performed hard labor. He keeps telling me that he grew up on a dairy farm of sorts and milked cows and labored continuously, I had yet to witness anything of the sort. I was starting to think he was making it all up. But, happily he was not!

On the 23rd we went up to Jake's Aunt Carole and uncle Mic's house in Avon UT (Warburton side), which is a suburb of Logan (if there is such a thing). They literally live in a paradise. They just completed a brand new home that they built themselves and it has a porch that wraps around the entire house and has a view out over Cache Valley. It is beautiful. I was very impressed, most of all they deserve it. The Warburton side is much smaller than the Bitner side, but just as interesting and fun. Some of his family was not able to make it due to the - surprise - blizzard. We had a great time Jake's cousin Jed played a song on the saxophone for us all, Brittney played the piano while Joanna and her husband sang. Then everyone sang Christmas songs together while Jake's cousin Natalie played the piano (all the songs from memory). -I took ten years of piano lessons and did not like it, so I would twiddle around on the piano and pretend I was doing Theory. It's interesting because all the hours I spent on Theory I never really had to buy a new book. - I'm saying this, because I really appreciate those people who can site read, play from memory or even enjoy the piano. Someday I want a piano, and I will develop my piano skills more fully, I like it now and wish I had not been such a pill about it (my poor mom). I talked a lot with Jake's aunt Carole and cousin Joanna (from CO). They are so sweet and fun to talk with. The Christmas party turned out to be a nice success and visiting with the family was so fulfilling. When you live far away from everyone like Jake and I do, these family get-togethers mean a lot and I loved it.

After the Warburton Party we and Seth (Jake's younger bro) and Brittany (Sister-in-law) went to Emily (Jake’s older sister) and Rob's (bro-in-law) house in Ogden. In the morning we talked, ate breakfast and played with the kids. All the kids (Mari, Sophie, Cecily and Scott) went outside to play in the snow. I watched from the window, hahahhaa. Emily had bought a Castle Ginger Bread House kit. Me, Brittany and the girls commenced to making it just like the picture on the box. Let me tell you it turned out perfect, even better than the box (NOT). It was melting everywhere, the castle turrets where falling over all the time and the Christmas wreath slid down the wall and crashed. The little screen prints of the Disney princesses dissolved partially and Scott (my nephew 1 1/2 yr) ate one. It was hilarious because there were little sour candies that were supposed to pose as Christmas lights, but Scott tasted one and his cheeks puckered and then his eyes lit up and then he grabbed for them all. I'm sure he ate hundreds of those sour Christmas lights, he even picked them off of the castle. After the castle was as complete as it was going to be, we destroyed it Hahahahaha, chuckling evilly to ourselves. We ate it. To be honest it was actually very, very tasty. Then I decided to paint Mari, Sophie, and Cecily's faces with frosting and they returned the favor. Overall a great gingerbread castle making experience, I would recommend it.

OK so this is a LOOOONG post, sorry. After that on Christmas Eve, Jake and I went down to my parents’ house for the Mahoney (my maiden name) Christmas party. The party was in Heber, UT - where my grandparents and dad's twin brother Dave, live. The party was at the senior citizens center because; my grandpa is the director there. We had full access to a Wii with Guitar Hero, computers, couches, a stage and an organ (yah). We did something new this year food-wise. Each family brought a crock-pot of their favorite soup and bread. It turned out really well, my grandma made the best one - carrot soup- which surprisingly enough was very good. Normally we exchange gifts, but his year we all brought white elephant gifts to exchange. My sister Haley thought it would be awesome to put a Big Mac with a bite out of it into the bag and my sister Sara ended up with it. She was disgusted, but it sure was funny to watch. I ended up with Chi Herb Garden. The funniest was my very conservative grandpa, he picked up a package opened it up and exclaimed "It's a ball cap!" He was pretty happy about it until he realized that the ball cap said "Barack Obama '08!" Very funny (Jake picked this one out). I brought Bald Man's Head Moisturizer, funny enough my dad ended up with it (he's been bald since he was 25). He had to fight over it with a few because we have a number of bald men on the Mahoney side.

We spent Christmas day at Jake's house and opened all our presents with his family. Some of my highlighted gifts were..... a Cricut Expressions machine (from Jake) and my favorite show "Keeping Up Appearances" DVD (from Ashley - Jake’s younger sister). I was so impressed that Jake was able to keep the scrapbooking machine a secret from me for sooooo long. He bought it on black Friday for a sweet deal and sent it home with my parents when they came for Thanksgiving. I had no idea it was coming. I guess he did random jobs at school to make the money to buy it. It was definitely an awesome surprise. I was so spoiled. Jake really liked his knife from Seth and Brittney (Why? I don't get him sometimes, he loves to carry around pocket knifes) and the car cleaner kit I gave to him. Christmas Day was spent lounging around, watching movies and playing games, eating snack foods and me wearing every single pair of the five pairs of fuzzy socks Jake bought for me!

The rest of the time we relaxed, then went to my parents house again, opened more presents and celebrated Jake's 27th birthday on December 28th (but that's a whole new post).

Thanks for bearing with my looong post and not judging me for my casualty and spelling errors, I'm writing this at work, obviously I'm VERY busy!!!
Love, Kim

January 11, 2009

Ashley Parker

While I was in Utah I went to the Mt. Timpanogas temple with my best friend from high school, Ashley (Allred) Parker. She's a blast, even though our visit was short it was good seeing her! We could not get a picture with the temple in the background because the wind was blowing so much and it was extremelycold, so sorry.

The Arizona Desert


Every desert
is but an orphaned beach,
abandoned long ago
by ancient seas.
Thirsty sands
that still dream
of ocean embraces.

I am much like the desert
when we are apart.
My thirsty heart
still dreams of your embrace,
as if I were trying
to reunite my soul,
with something missing
from myself.

-Rev. Bill Mcdonald

Web Site: www.poetbill.homestead.com

January 6, 2009

Kill the BCS..

Vote for Utah, for College Football's Sake

The following is an open letter to the 72 members of the media who are entitled to cast votes in the Associated Press college football poll.

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing to urge you -- no, implore you -- to cast your final ballot of the season with one team and one only team ranked No. 1: the University of Utah.

I say this not to demean the performance of Southern California, Texas or the winner of Thursday's Oklahoma-Florida game. All are fine teams that have had outstanding seasons. They have, however, one thing that Utah does not have.

A loss.

Read the rest of the article at:



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