.An excerpt from my novel 'Cruise Quarters'

An excerpt from my novel 'Cruise Quarters'

When people sat down at Sarah Seldon’s blackjack game, they always wanted to talk about The Book. “Should I double down? Should I hit? Dealer, I know you’re a gambler; you could let me win if you wanted to. What does the book say?” She had never read this book, this mythical Bible for gamblers. The truth is there are 2256 books, each teaching its own foolproof winning system. But Sarah had been in the casino business long enough to think with a gambler’s mind. Gamblers knew they could follow all the rules of basic strategy, utilize money management and still lose if they weren’t dealt the right cards. The allure and curse of gambling was that there were no sure things. In the end it all came down to luck; gamblers prayed that Lady Luck would show up and that she would stick around for awhile.

Friday, November 6, 2015

BEWARE OF INTERNET SURVEYS BEARING FREE GIFTS



            I consider myself a pretty smart cookie. My mortgage is fixed rate, I pay off my credit cards every month, I even employ the 24 hour rule, I was certainly not one of those people, not the kind of person who gets ripped off by a scam - especially an internet scam. But I do love a bargain and maybe a free sample or two. I am also an avid reader and one day while I after I had ordered a book from Amazon a message popped up on my screen. Take this short customer satisfaction survey and win the prize of your choice. I had my doubts but hey this was Amazon. So I filled out the survey and at the end a list of free prizes appeared.The survey was also filled with many false reviews praising their free gifts.
            I am not sure what else was on offer except there was skin serum, and I am a sucker for serums and moisturizing lotions. I won’t give you the name of the company, because there are so many of them but I will give you a hint. They have no skin in the game and everything they say is false, not true. I am always looking for the magic cure the skin smoother that will restore me to my twenty year old self. It wasn’t just serum it was a full sized bottle and it was valued at $98. I was a bit leery but I get free samples all the time, Kiehls, Clinique and all the reputable companies give out samples.
            “Look honey” I said to my husband. That’s a pretty good deal, $98.”
            “Don’t do it I don’t know how but they are going to get you.”
            “Nonsense this survey was on Amazon. They don’t even want shipping and handling fees, just $1.99 for expedited shipping.” And that was how they got me. Once they had that credit card number they took it and ran all the way to my bank.
            I received my serum, and went on vacation traveling the North West. Well, one Sunday morning my husband is checking our credit card charges for the trip and up popped not one but two charges for $98. That is because once you are in their system they send you new bottles of serum every month and charge you; yes you guessed it $98.
            “Give me the phone.” I screamed And then it began. I got on the line with an operator from the company.
            “I’m sorry he said but you did go to our website and sign up for a free trial offer.”
            “I did not.” I replied still at an indoor voice level. “I took a survey and they promised to give me a free sample and I will not pay for a free sample.”
            “But you already have the product.” He tired to entice me, “Just pay the reduced rate of $60 and we will call it a day.”
            Then  my outdoor voice took over, “Maybe you didn’t hear me the first time. I will pay nothing for a free sample.”
            He kept insisting that I pay a small amount and I kept insisting that I wouldn’t. Until finally I just said go ahead and charge me, and I will make it my life’s mission to spread your company name up and down the internet, as nothing but the scam that you are. Well at that point he agreed to reverse all the charges on my credit card. What they didn’t tell me was that it would take two months and five phone calls between their company and my credit card company to make that happen.
            Later as I was researching their scam I came upon a site called highya.com that will evaluate products and let you know if they are a rip-off. I could have saved myself so much anger and energy. I don’t like to get angry but it seems that anger is the only thing companies respond to these days, especially a company that got your money by lying and cheating you in the first place. Life has taught me that if you want to play with the dogs you have to get down in the dirt, so I learned how to hoot and holler. So before you try out that product with the glowing probably fake reviews on the Internet give highya.com a look before you place that order and save yourself tons of aggravation.
            Let me leave you with two lessons I learned. First, if there is a survey promising free gifts, big warning light should go on in you head. But my biggest lesson is this; sometimes my husband really does know what he is talking about. Let’s just hope I don’t get fooled again.


                                                             About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"She would be happy to Skype with any book club reading Cruise Quarters. Contact her at ray92262@yahoo.com.or read more blog posts at carabertoia.blogspot.com

Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships


           

Thursday, January 29, 2015

BON APPETIST - HOW TO ENJOY EATING AND NEVER SAY DIET AGAIN



            I was reading a book of essays the other day by Lynne Tillman and I came upon this definition. 'Appetist, a well adjusted employer of food. A person with a healthy desire to eat; a person who does not worry excessively about food intake; a person who does not diet constantly; someone who enjoys food thoroughly and in moderation.' That is me I thought, that describes me. I was so happy that finally in this vegan, gluten obsessed land of the perpetual diet culture there was a description of another way to live. I felt validated. 

            Many years ago I worked on a cruise ship and I traveled around the world. An enormous part of the appeal of joining the ship for me was the opportunity to feast on gourmet meals all over the globe. I feel that most Americans have an ambivalent relationship to food; except for special occasions, food is just something they grab and eat on the run. To say that you love to eat, that sounds almost blasphemous. People assume that if you love food, you are somewhat wanton. Other than meeting my husband Ray, (an unexpected surprise), the food had definitely been one of the best parts of ship life. I couldn’t always recall all the people I dined with or what we talked about, but I did remember all the great meals. I have a simple philosophy governing my food consumption. Eat what you want but you really have to want it - and stop when you feel full. Throw in a healthy amount of exercise and you should  never be fat.

            A short while ago we rented a van and meandered around Italy stopping to sight-see and eat. Italy is the land of Slow Food an international movement founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem. The movement has since expanded globally to over 100,000 members in 150 countries. Its goals of sustainable foods and promotion of local small businesses are paralleled by a political agenda directed against globalization of agricultural products.

            There is nowhere in the world that is a better example of the movement than Parma, Italy. A charming town a few hours from the French border, Parma has it all. It is big enough to have a vibrant town center, but small enough to be navigable by foot. The surrounding countryside boasts over twenty castles and spas have existed here since Roman times. But the best part in case you haven’t guessed it already is that it is the home of Prosciutto de Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. In the town center you enter shop after shop with hams hanging from the rafters and cases filled with local cheeses. A pungent odor fills the air and tempts the appetite. We enjoyed a glass of wine at one of the many cafes as we watched the stylish citizenry strut their stuff.

            A rainstorm forced us into a covered alleyway as we waited for Trattoria de Tribunale to open up. The meal was everything I had traveled to Italy for, chewy homemade pasta, sauces that had been whipped up in the kitchen not poured from a jar. Meat that had been cured in the area not shipped there from thousands of miles away and Crusty fresh bread from the baker down the street. Food that was meant to be savored not rushed, washed down by a local Chianti. Now just to show you that you can enjoy all of this without being fat, click the link below to watch my video of the people of Parma. I want you to see for yourself, a people with a low diabetes rate that still have a zest for life. The biking and the walking don't hurt the cause.  The only heavy person in the video is my husband and since our trip he has become an appetist and lost the belly.
            Savor every bite you eat, search out the freshest ingredients. Become an Appetist and say NO to dieting. I will leave you with this thought from Paul Prudhomme, “You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.”

                                         BON APPETIST
 
About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"She would be happy to Skype with any book club reading Cruise Quarters. Contact her at ray92262@yahoo.com.or read more blog posts at carabertoia.blogspot.com

Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships