Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cotton Picking for Real Snow in Alabama

Seems I got tied up with doing other things since last summer and neglected to keep everyone entertained with my blogs. Since you keep showing up to read them, I'll try and do better writing them in 2018!

Several years ago I wrote a blog about how we don’t get much snow down here in LA (lower Alabama). In fact, most years near about as close as we get to anything resembling snow is during the fall cotton harvest.

Which based on recent activities down here in Tassanoxie, it’s a good thing we don’t get snow often. You know what happens hereabouts when it gets cold and we get snowy sleet and way below freezing temperatures? 

Well, first of all, everything closes–schools, businesses, events, city operations except for emergency personnel. Who are going to be greatly needed based on all the idjits that think the advice not to drive isn’t meant for them.

Second, some idjits get in their vehicles and off they go.

Right into an accident as they skid all over the roads and cause massive pile ups. Especially on roads that cross bridges due to that thing called black ice, which it appears Alabama drivers do not recognize as being a problem. Until their car slides around backassward to where they were going. 

The real kicker comes when the next round of idjits get mad at the state and local police officers because the road has been closed to more traffic. As if the emergency folks don't need time to sort through the mess made by the first round of idjit drivers. All those cars that skidded every which a way need to be untangled and the cars and people moved out of there.

But noooooo, the idjits are mad because now they don’t get a chance to skid off a bridge. I know. I know. Bubba has 4 wheel drive and can just drive around any pile ups. Yeah, right off the bridge into the river because that’s where most of the accidents occurred. Surprise! Black ice forms on bridges.

And let’s take a looksee at who is out there skidding off a bridge. What’s so important these guys have to be out and about. Oh, yeah. They can’t miss that volunteer meeting that some other idjit insists is happening. 

All I know for sure is that Alabamians are a lot safer when it’s only cotton lining the sides of the road than when it’s real snow.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Wealth Management Advisor

I was standing in line at the Worthington Bank the other day when I saw a sign on Lily’s desk that said, “Wealth Management Advisor.” I realize the bank’s being helpful offering this service to customers, but with the economy where it is these days, banks might do better to have a Poor Folks Management Advisor. Wealth is not the overwhelming problem of the average American. Not with 1% of our citizens hogging all the money. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s best to plan for future retirement, but you need money before you can save it. And all those economic guys are saying wages are stagnant. Fact is, I heard tell of a man whose father made $16.00 an hour with benefits to include several weeks of vacation time some 30 years ago. Yet that same job with the same company is now paid minimum wage with no benefits.

Chew on that a little bit. 

Food for chewing: in 1985 $16.00 bought over 2x as much as it does today. So in today’s dollars, even if the job still paid $16.00, it wouldn’t buy as much. Top that with the fact the pay for the job fell to minimum wage…

Seems to those of us who shop see prices for everything going up, but what folks are paid isn’t.
Folks need help surviving the present and don’t really have any money for the future. And that’s going to really hurt when their present becomes their future and they’re flat broke.
I like cutesy titles as much as anyone else, but if I were a wealth management advisor, I’d take my own advice and get wealthy. “Course that would mean I wouldn’t have to work.

I’d join the ranks of the 1% who are hogging all the money. 

Although why anyone thinks they need a billjillion dollars is beyond me. The hassle of trying to spend it before I kicked the bucket would drive me bonkers. Which brings me to this: what’s the point of having so much money you can’t even spend it in your lifetime? 

What, to leave it to your kids who will just fritter it away on a rich kid lifestyle they didn’t have to lift a finger to get?

Frankly, with all the huge numbers tossed around as to the worth of CEOs, sports figures, entertainment types, etc. I’m beginning to wonder where all the money is stored. Are these folks keeping it under their mattress? In an armored car parked on their estate? 

What if the 1% sashayed down to the bank today and wanted to withdraw their money, would there be enough dollars in the nation to pay them? Would there be a purse large enough to hold it all?

An even better question, is there a future for a Poverty Management Advisor?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Alabama: 51st State Out Of 50

Last month I told y’all about how Louisiana cushions Alabama from being the fattest state–with a little help from Mississippi. Well, that didn’t work with education. According to a state education spokeswoman we’re now the dumbest state based on school scores.

She kept saying Alabama ranked 51st out of 50 states. Which right there explains why Alabama has education issues. State education leaders think we have 51 states, but at last count, there were only 50.

I know, I know, they’re counting the District of Columbia, but shouldn’t that be mentioned somewhere in the article? Otherwise, the person quoting the statistic sounds ignorant. The participants in the survey should be explained. Like 50 states and DC.

When I read the article, I couldn’t stop thinking, “Well, if they’re teaching our kids we have 51 states, then we should be at the bottom of the education heap.”

The 3 Rs?
Then the education expert fell back on that worn out rhetoric about “going back to the basics” of reading, writing, and arithmetic–the three Rs. Again, I see a problem. Only reading starts with a “r”! Calling it the 3Rs confuses the heck out of kids.

Oh yeah, and while we’re at it, let’s drop social studies and science in elementary school. Wouldn’t want to muddy up the younguns’ brains too early with those subjects, now would we? Of course, axing art and music is a given. Why waste time on the amenities when these kids can’t even add?

Not once does our visiting education expert mention the survey about the correlation between how much a state spends on education and how well the public schools perform. Oddly, the high scoring schools pretty much spend more money per student on education than the low scoring schools. Ever heard tell of you get your money’s worth?

New State School Superintendent 
Alabama got a new state school superintendent last fall and expectations run high he’ll figure out how to get us off the bottom of the heap since he’s from a high scoring state. Being he’s from Massachusetts I can’t see how that’ll work out. Everyone knows those New Englanders talk funny. How in heaven’s name are we supposed to understand a word he says?

He’s also used to being around state leaders committed to educating the kids and spending money on them to do it right. Our legislature meets for about 2 minutes a year. They don’t have time to make any big long term decisions about anything much less education.

Meanwhile, Alabama teachers, like teachers everywhere, keep on trucking. They work long hours for low pay while shaping the future leaders of this country.

Stop the presses!! 
Maybe hiring an educational guru from Massachusetts isn’t such a great idea after all. This just in from USA Today. Alabama may be on the bottom of the education list, but according to Google, our most misspelled word is pneumonia while those brainiacs in Massachusetts don’t seem to be able to spell the word license,

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Southern Style Dining: The Yellow Menu

Alabama seldom gets a high ranking in any of the state survey contests, in fact if it weren’t for Mississippi we’d probably always be the worst at whatever was being ranked. It came as a big surprise to find out Alabama and Mississippi tied on something and Louisiana got a worst ranking than both of us.
Yep, Louisiana won the fattest population test. 36.2% of their population is overweight while only 35.6% of Alabama and Mississippi’s population gets that coveted accolade. 
We finally reach second highest and what do we get? Diet plans.

Which is not gonna sit well with the folks who like to patronize the restaurants in Tassanoxie who serve what I like to call a “yellow menu.” Meaning everything has been dipped in corn bread or flour and fried. We’re talking so much grease here, they don’t have to buy new, all they have to do is scrap it off the kitchen walls and reuse it.

Sure, this means little bitty bits of chicken or fish sneak into the recycled grease, but it’s not as if it’ll kill you. The grease is heated to death-defying temperatures that should kill off any bacteria. So what if the French fries taste a little like chicken/fish? Who’s going to notice. It’s not like gourmet chefs or diners hang out in yellow menu restaurants, now is it?  

Just to let you know, if you dare to ask for your fish to be broiled not fried, you have to pay extra because they are doing you a big favor. I reckon since they can’t just dump the fish in a vat of bubbling grease, they gotta charge for the extra work.

It’s hard to imagine that amid all the healthy eating that’s happening across the country, these restaurants still hang in there. 

It’s not just the frying that’s the problem, like many restaurants across the country, the yellow menu places serve too much food, too. I’ve seen servers deliver a meal that would feed a small nation. Or the expansive belly that keeps the guy who ordered it three feet from the table. The servings sizes have gotten so big, most folks have no idea how much food makes up a serving.

Hitch the large size of the servings to the types of food being served– high fat, high sugar, high calorie–surprise! Obesity wins.

Of course, the yellow menu restaurants are doomed because the folks that eat there are not healthy eaters which means they face lots of health problems. So many the survey taker people just say higher body weights are associated with increases in all-cause mortality. 

All-cause mortality. I reckon that means so many causes there’s no use listing them one by one. 

It seems to me all these harrowing statistics would make the owner of a restaurant whose menu is mostly yellow a tad been worried. I mean, if the type of food you serve and the amounts you serve help shuttle your customer on the road to death, wouldn’t it be a good idea to come up with some healthy, mouth watering alternatives? 

You know, before all your customers suffer that all-cause mortality problem?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Seniors: Largest Group of Drivers On the Road

As you probably know by now, I live in what some folks might call the rural South, mostly because we don’t have an interstate highway anywhere near us. 

This means no mass transit system. Not even a bus line, other than Grayhound and they don’t exactly run a local route. I’ve noticed a couple of those cute passenger vans running around town, for taking people to the senior center or medical appointments. Leastways, I think that’s what they do. They could just drive aimlessly around town since we seem to have a lot of traffic during the hours when working age people should be at work.

Since I still drive I haven’t had to check out the van system.

I’m not the only senior out there driving around. Seems nationwide we’re reluctant to give up our cars. Unlike the youngsters who are either giving up their car or not bothering to get one in the first place. I read a survey that reported seniors are driving more miles than the Gen-Yers (kids between the age of 16 and 34). 

The article gave all sorts of reasons for this, but my guess would be the economy. If you’re living at home with mom and dad and have a real crap job, would you be able to afford a car? Why not just borrow mom and dad’s car?

Then again, some of the young ‘uns claim they’re trying to reduce their carbon imprint by riding their bikes or using public transportation. Of course that means they live somewhere besides here where Bubba thinks bicycles are moving targets and no public transportation exists.

On the other hand, these kids could just be plain smart since another survey found that people 70 and older now make up the largest group of drivers on the road. Which is pretty scary when you think about it. I know lots of seniors who take lots of medications and I’ve yet to find medication that has no side effects. Drowsiness being high on the side effects list. And we all know how hard it is for seniors to stay awake under normal circumstances.

Sounds like a good reason to stay off the roads,.

But wait, there may be a plus side to more seniors on the road–seniors don’t tend to drive and text. Mainly, because they can’t see the little bitty keyboard on their phones when they’re not driving, much less when they are driving. 

Think about it, seniors need their reading glasses to text and they’re wearing their seeing glasses to drive. Since they can’t see the letters on the phone, they can’t text. 

Words of wisdom here. No matter what your age, stay alert when you drive. Forget about texting or talking on the phone and concentrate on getting from Point A to Point B. If you don’t pay attention, Point B becomes a cemetery.

With luck, automated cars will be here before you know it. Everyone will be happy then. Old folks can nap and young folks can text.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

City Council Meetings To Be Taped

 “Lights! Camera! Action!”

Yep, I guess we’ll be hearing that at the city council meetings from now on. The mayor and city council are putting their meetings on video so they can be available online. Makes me wonder if the taxpayers will soon be paying for a makeup artist, director, and cameraman.

I guess they decided against live streaming. It’s impossible to edit live streaming, you just get whatever and whoever pops up. Which might detract from the image of how nice it is to live in Tassanoxie. I know a few folks in town I wouldn’t want to see popping up at a town council meeting.

Plus, we had us a contentious election last summer. Sorry I didn’t keep you up to date on it. The mayor managed to hang onto his job, but three forever councilmen got the boot. We even got a woman in the new mix. Which makes me wonder, do we call them council people now? 

The newbies won on “transparency” in city government and it’s been an interesting several months as the new guys rein in the mayor. Howard’s not used to anyone else calling the shots since the former council pretty much rubber stamped anything he suggested.

Not saying our mayor isn’t a nice guy who tries to do what’s best for Tassanoxie, but nobody needs to have unfettered power. Any leader who thinks “my way or the highway” isn’t much needed in a democracy.

Some folks don’t like these newbies questioning  everything, but hey, it’s good to ask questions. Good to shake things up. I think Tassanoxie needed some new blood on the city council. And so far, their questions and suggested solutions have been a plus. Instead of the city doing business as usual, it’s now doing business in a smarter way. 

Back to the video taping. While it adds another whole layer of interest, it puts a load on my shoulders. Now I’ll have to get gussied up to go to the meetings in case I’m caught on camera. Clothes. Hair. Shoes. 

I don’t want to look like I crawled out from under the turnip truck. I want to project “concerned and intelligent citizen” to anyone watching the video. 

I wonder if I can pull that off. Maybe I’ll just wear one of my vintage hats with a veil. That should keep the camera off me. Or maybe not. 

“Mysterious woman attends town council meetings…”

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Scamming Pays Off

A few weeks ago a guy called the Tassanoxie Sentinel to whine to one of the reporters that he done wired about $15,000 to some scam artist. This guy actually believed someone from the IRS would just up and call and tell him he owed a pot of money and that he better wire it to this address pronto.

Well, this guy wired the money and being he was easy pickings, the scam artist called again for more money. Fortunately, a friend warned the guy he better check with the IRS before he sent more money.

Now he was calling the paper, wanting them to warn other folks about the scam.

First of all, who in their right mind would wire money to the IRS without first calling them to check it out? Or maybe driving about 30 miles to the local IRS office and talking with someone in person? How many times do our city, state, and federal government officials have to tell folks they will not be contacted by phone and asked to wire money anywhere?

A few months ago, I blogged about how easy it was to get a fake diploma online. Being a naturally curious person and a reporter by trade for years, this guy’s situation got me to researching the whole scam situation. The FBI tries to stay on top of this and their website is plum full information on frauds like telemarketing, identity theft, romance fraud, Ponzi schemes, and Internet scams. They even have a Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3–you can thank the federal acronym office for that one!) for gathering data on Internet crime and catching the bad guys who do it.

The job of all these FBI crime fighting units is to reduce the amount of economic loss folks experience. Although if we continue to be dumb enough to just send money to people who call or email us, I think it’s a losing proposition for the FBI.

And we’re talking millions, probably billions of dollars, worldwide each year. In 2014, over 260,000 folks complained to the IC3 with a total of $800 million lost. And here’s the best part of the statistics: only an estimated 15% of the nation’s fraud victims report their crimes.

It was interesting to see which age groups and sexes fell for the different types of scams. More men over 30 went the auto fraud route, trying to buy a car for way below market value. But more women 30 and older fell for the emails impersonating an important government official. (Like the director of the FBI would email me!) These women ended up losing about $1,450.00 a complaint. Men and women over the age of 50 went for the online rental or sale of real estate.

The confidence or romance scam affected four times as many women as men. Women over the age of 40 got burned by the online scam of scammers pretending to be military members. These guys use sob stories to pry money from their victims, whose softhearted response lost them over $71 million in 2014.

The money lost everyday to various scam artists boggles the mind, but also explains those relentless phone calls and emails. Scamming is a huge money maker. 

I reckon those of us who haven’t yet fallen for a scam shouldn’t be too hard on those who have. There may be a convincing scammer in our future.

Fact is, the reasons people fall for scams are as varied as the scams. Loneliness, mental deficiency, desire to make a quick buck, altruism–you get the idea. And becoming a victim is easier than you think whatever the reason. What with the Internet, social media, cell phones, and apps for everything scamming gets easier by the minute.

So when that fake IRS agent calls, don‘t panic and start sending money. Do somer homework. Find out who they are and make an informed decision before sharing your bank account.

It might be as easy as hanging up the phone or trashing the email.