Subscription Bomb

 

On Thursday I got an email from Venmo that someone had changed the primary email associated with my account. Before I could focus on what I had to do, my Gmail inbox was suddenly populated with almost four hundred emails. They were mostly emails confirming I had joined or subscribed to something. Of course, I hadn’t.

This was very overwhelming, and I didn’t know what to do first. Venmo wanted me to change my password so I tried that. It didn’t work; I think because it no longer recognized my email address. I sent emails to Venmo support, receiving a response that they would get back to me in twenty-four hours.

I tried to call Venmo, but you can’t reach customer support by phone. I also found out that Venmo will not cancel any payment. You must deal with your financial institution. On Thursday I called my bank to make sure that no payment had gone out to Venmo. On Friday, because I couldn’t reset my password, I went to my bank and put a stop on Venmo.

On Saturday I was finally able to access my Venmo account and I saw that on Thursday there was an unauthorized payment to Buydig.com for over one thousand dollars. I rechecked that the payment hadn’t gone through and then I cancelled my Venmo account. I emailed Venmo informing them of this and asked them to remove the payment. I got no response.

On Monday, the bank called and said that Venmo had tried to put the payment through, but it was blocked. I will never use Venmo again. They were completely useless and have terrible security.

While I was dealing with Venmo, I deleted the four hundred emails. I then found out from a friend that what had happened is called a subscription bombing. The point is to distract you while they try to access your financial information and sites. The article I read said that you could keep getting emails for months or years.

I am still getting about 6-8 emails a day from the subscription bomb. I first tried to put a filter on everything that was in my spam folder. That did nothing. Now for each email, if I can unsubscribe, I do. Then I make an individual filter, directly deleting it. Then I mark it as spam. It is very tedious. If any of you know of any other way for me to deal with this, please let me know.  Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Shelton Brothers

Earlier this month, the big news in craft brewing was the closing of beer importers, Shelton Bros. The company existed for twenty-four years and were early importers of craft beers. They introduced America to different beer styles, such as sour beer. The company’s bank pushed them into liquidation; a victim of COVID-19 and the recession. You can read more about the closing of Shelton Bros. here.

I found this news interesting  because of a personal  connection to the firm. One of the Shelton brothers is Will. He is the dad of Zach and Max who are among my son Alan’s best friends. I have  known Will for over twenty years.

For a while he owned a brewery in Western Massachusetts, High and Mighty, which made great beer. I gave a book talk about Brewing Battles at the Jones Library and we served Will’s beer.  The brewery only lasted a few years and then Will moved to California. There, for a while,  he worked with Pete Slosberg from Pete’s Wicked Ale.  He then started a new brewery, Concrete Jungle. Will is now back in Massachusetts.

The demise of Shelton Bros. reflect changes in the brewing industry. The country has over 7,000 breweries. Many of them are very local and supply farm to table restaurants. American brewers now make many of the unusual and exotic styles that Shelton Bros imported, making them less competitive. You can read more about Shelton Bros, in an article from 2017 by Andy Crouch.

 

Victory

On Saturday, MSNBC and other news networks declared Joe Biden the new president-elect. Hearing that news, I felt more joy than I have experienced in a long time. We had planned to go to a Protect the Vote demonstration in Northampton. We went and it turned into a celebration.

Watching the people in the street and listening to all the cars honking, brought to mind scenes of liberation from other countries and other times. 75 million Americans voted, defeating fascism, and defending democracy. That is an awesome accomplishment.

Because we live in a 24/7 news cycle, cable stations still need things to talk about. Besides continuing to chronicle the insane behavior of Trump and his Republican minions, the other topic of news is supposed divisions among different parts of the Democratic Party.

My wish is that we all take a deep breath, work in Georgia to create a Democratic Senate, and give Joe Biden a chance. Before we vehemently deride him as hopelessly moderate, let’s remember that Franklin D. Roosevelt was not inherently radical. If the Biden-Harris administration gives us a 21st century New Deal, shoring up and expanding the safety net, I will be really happy.

Here is a video of the celebration in Northampton.

Don’t Mourn, Organize

I did not get a good night’s sleep as I was watching the election returns. Most of the things I worked on did not come to fruition. Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell all retained their seats. It will be a stretch for the Democrats to gain control of the Senate. I do think Joe Biden will probably get elected but Trump may try to create havoc with multiple lawsuits. I am trying to see something positive in all this, but it is difficult.

This morning the phrase, “Don’t Mourn, Organize” was running through my head. This is what Joe Hill, an Industrial Workers of the World organizer wrote in a telegram to Bill Haywood, prior to being executed in Utah.

“Goodbye Bill: I die like a true rebel. Do not waste any time mourning — organize! It is a hundred miles from here to Wyoming. Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don’t want to be found dead in Utah.”

After Trump’s election in 2106, many new groups emerged to provide resistance to Trump. Swing Left, Indivisible and other groups need to stay active, even if Biden is elected. The only way to get change and move closer to a more equitable and just society is by grassroots organizing. Although I need some time to process what has happened, I  am planning to participate in a Count Every Vote demonstration in Northampton today at 5 pm. You can find a similar event where you live by clicking here.

Don’t Mourn, Organize.

Here is Pete Seeger singing about Joe Hill:

 

VOTE

VOTE.

Vote early if you still can.

There are only six days left so mailing your ballot is not a good idea.

If you have a ballot, don’t mail it.

Bring it to an early voting site, a drop box if your town has them, or your Election Board.

If you go to vote in person, bring identification

Bring a pen.

Wear a mask.

Be prepared for long lines.

Pack a lunch.

Bring a chair.

Bring your friends and family.

If you returned your ballot, see if you can check on its status.

In Massachusetts, you can use track my ballot ma.

Volunteer to help campaigns in swing states.

Make phone calls.

Text.

Help cure ballots.

Staff a voter protection hotline.

Vote like your life depends on it because it does.

Vote for Joe Biden and  Kamala Harris.

Take Back Our Democracy

VOTE.

 

 

 

 

 

Great American Beer Festival

Friday and Saturday evenings I attended, virtually, the Great American Beer Festival. The first event on Friday was the Awards Ceremony. This was the session that had the greatest attendance; over three hundred people watched. It was open to the public and available on YouTube. All of the other events required you to spend $20 and get a GABF Passport.

There seemed to be an endless number of awards with many specific categories. Obviously the fewer contestants in a category gave an individual brewer a greater chance of winning. The Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale category had the most entries; 377. Spellbinder, Wren House Brewing Co., Phoenix, Arizona won the gold medal.  You can read  more about this style of beer here. I don’t think I have ever had it.

The Brewers Association sponsors the GABF. Justin Crossley, from the Brewing Network, was the host for all the session except the Awards Ceremony. Most of the events had around 150 viewers. That doesn’t seem like a large audience. I don’t know how many people usually attend the GABF but I assume it is more than 150.

Attending the GABF virtually meant the presenters were on Zoom or a similar platform. That meant there were various technological problems which led to poor production quality in some of the sessions. There were several interesting panels which I will discuss in separate posts in the coming weeks.

Too Busy

I am too busy to write much. This week I will be making phone calls to various states  on four different days. North Carolina, Maine, Florida and for Joe Biden I called Pennsylvania. There are 20 days left until Election Day. I want to do as much as I can to make sure Donald Trump is defeated and we get a Democratic Senate.

Next week I might try to  make some calls for Jaime Harrison who, as of today, is only one point behind Lindsey Graham. If I believed that lizard people actually existed, I know that Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, and William Barr would be the epitome of that species.

In the midst  of all this pre-election work, we spent a lovely weekend with my  son and daughter-in-law who came for a visit. On Saturday we  took a very long hike in the Quabbin reservoir. It was beautiful.  I am so glad we got to be outside and experience New England Fall.

I am not sure I will have time for posting again until after the election. We will see. If you have early voting where you live, please Vote Now.

Schaefer Beer

Pabst, which does not brew any beer but owns the rights to many iconic brands from the 1950’s and 60’s, is bringing back Schaefer Beer. Schaefer is associated with Brooklyn, but it is not being brewed there. F.X. Matt in Utica, N.Y. is producing the beer. You can read more about it here.

This is an excerpt from Brewing Battles, about Rudy Schaefer and Schaefer beer during World War II.

Rudy Schaefer, the owner of Schaefer Brewing, had become president of the USBA in 1941. Schaefer Brewing had begun in 1842 and was one of the country’s first lager brewers. Frederick and Maximilian Schaefer emigrated from Russia and eventually operated a brewery near Grand Central Station. Rudolph, Maximilian’s son, took over the brewery in 1912 and moved it to Brooklyn in 1915. During Prohibition, Rudolph Schaefer died, and his two sons, Frederick and Rudolph, Jr. took over. In 1927 Rudy, a Princeton graduate, gained sole control of the brewery. Having survived Prohibition, the company expanded with additional plants in Baltimore and Albany. In 1938 the brewery produced one million barrels and was consistently one of the nation’s top ten breweries. Rudy Schaefer was a long time participant in the USBA.[1]

At the beginning of 1942, Schaefer, in his capacity as president of the USBA, offered his assessment of the state of the brewing industry and its planned participation in the war effort. The good news was that “public acceptance of beer as an essential food” had increased. Tax increases were a less positive development. Schaefer maintained that the industry could not withstand any additional taxes, and that an increase would have a diminishing effect on federal revenue. After all, the industry paid over four hundred million dollars in state and federal taxes in 1941, making beer brewing the fourth most heavily taxed industry in the country. Despite this strong participation in the country’s economy, Schaefer wanted the industry to make a specific contribution to the war effort, and pledged sales of defense bonds to all of the over 60,000 employees in the industry. On a personal level, Schaefer became vice-chairman of the carbonated and fermented beverage committee of the Red Cross War Fund of Greater New York.[2]

[1] Jos. Dubin, “The War’s Effect,” Modern Brewery Age, December 1941, 8-9.; Downard, Dictionary of the History of the American Brewing and Distilling Industries (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press., 1980), 166; F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company, To commemorate our 100th year : the F. & M. Schaefer brewing co. : America’s oldest lager beer (Brooklyn, N.Y. : The Company, 1942); Will Anderson, The Breweries of Brooklyn: An Informal History of a Great Industry in a Great City (New York,: Anderson, 1976), 6, 7.

[2] Modern Brewery Age, January 1942, 18, 82, 85; “Beer is Accorded Wider Acceptance as a Food, Says President of Brewers,” New York Times, January 2, 1942, 39.

© Amy Mittelman October 7, 2020.

Here is Louis Armstrong singing the Schaefer Jingle, from MjayzToonz:

Fall

Tomorrow  will be the first day of October. We have been living with the pandemic for almost seven months. Time is moving both slowly and quickly. Looking back at my post, Goals, from the beginning of this year, I want today’s post to reflect some updates and changes.

The biggest deviation from my stated plans in January is that I did not participate in the year long non- fiction writing group that the Pioneer Valley  Writers’ Workshop offers. I felt that I would be a fish out of water in a sea of memoirists with emotionally challenging life stories. My gut told me not to do it. I have not regretted my decision.

I did two rounds of Nerissa NIelds’ Writing It Up in the Garden. It was really helpful for finishing the fifth chapter of my book. The chapter focuses on the Angell family and its’ many academics. A particular focus is Constance McLaughlin Green, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian

In January, my goals included being part of an adult group number at the Skating Club of Amherst’s annual show. Of course Corona prevented the show from happening. I have only skated five times since March 11th and none of them were at the Mullins Ice Rink.

In January, I said finishing my book was imperative and would require keeping my schedule light. I have had mixed results with that endeavor. As October begins, I am still trying to finish the sixth chapter which deals with two  white middle class, middle aged women who were social justice activists in the 1950s and 60s.

Right now, I am writing about Sarah Patton Boyle, a faculty wife from Charlottesville Virginia who became an early white ally of Martin Luther King, Jr. Her attempts to dismantle  Jim Crow and help American society achieve racial equality have been  very inspiring to me as I have tried, since the murder of George Floyd, to become a more actively anti-racist person.

There are three months left to the year. I hope to finish this chapter, get my skating back to a pre-pandemic level and defeat Donald Trump. What are your plans and goals for the remainder of the year?

 

Phone Banking

As I mentioned last week, since April, I have been phone banking to Maine to defeat Susan Collins. Given Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last Friday, it is now more important than ever than we take back the Senate and diminish the pernicious impact of Mitch McConnell, who I consider to be the Devil.

Phone calls are one of the most effective ways we must communicate with voters. It is also one of the only safe ways to reach voters during the pandemic. If everyone reading this blog would commit to either 2 hours or 20 calls, you would all be part of reaching many voters.

You can go to https://joebiden.com/natcalls/ to make calls for Joe and Kamala. Last week I started doing this. My plan is to do it once a week until Nov. 3. If you are interested in the Senate, you can go to Ballotpedia,  pick a competitive race and start making calls for the Democratic candidate.

This week I am going to make calls for Mark Kelly in Arizona who is running to defeat Martha McSally in a special election. If Kelly wins, he could be seated as early as Nov. 30. This could provide a critical vote against lame-duck appointment of a reactionary Supreme Court Justice.

I am first vice-chair of the Amherst Democratic Town Committee and we are focusing on three states: Maine, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. North Carolina has a competitive Senate race where Cal Cunningham is running against Thom Tillis, the Republican. Pennsylvania does not have a Senate race but is critical for Biden to win in the electoral college.

The point is Do Something. Two Hours or 20 Calls. Make A Difference.