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.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Tippy Toe High Heels A Podiatrist’s Delight

I’m gonna to start with a disclaimer right off the bat–my feet have never worn a shoe that had a heel over 2” high. I was lucky enough to marry a man about my height and strutting around 4-6” taller than him seemed downright rude. Plus, I’m afraid of heights. Being that far off the ground gives me vertigo.

I started working as a newspaper reporter while in college and running hither, thither, and yon getting interviews is not something to be done in high high heels. Most of my reporter days were at the Tassanoxie Sentinel and those days were too dang long and too dang busy to spend them teetering around in high high heels.

Now that I’ve established I’m not an expert in wearing high high heels, I’m gonna go right ahead and have an opinion about them. Sure, it’s based on observation, not experience, but who hasn’t watched a woman teeter past in a pair of high high heels? I’m sure all the men are thinking, whoa, what a hottie! while I’m thinking, is she nuts?

Moment of truth, here. I don’t really see that many women in skyscraper heels in my neck of the woods because Tassanoxie isn’t exactly the fashion hub of the USA. No, I’m much more likely to see women in sweatpants and running shoes than women in swirly short skirts and high high heels. 

But I do see them sometimes. There are those who live here who like to keep up with the latest fashions.

Silly as those fashions may be.

High high heels are not only silly, they’re a downright health hazard. First of all, there’s the whole issue of landing from a great height when you fall. Then there’s the broken ankles, the nerve damage, the inflammation and swelling, and fact that your calf muscles may permanently contract so your leg plum forgets how to stretch out straight.

Many of us are already hardwired by genetics to develop weird foot problems as we age. Why ensure even more foot, knee, and hip problems by wearing high high heels? I know, I know. When you’re young and foolish the last thing on your mind is worrying that your shoes are encouraging osteoarthritis to develop in your knee or toe joints. Looking sexy is much more important.

There are folks who are happy to see women teeter around in high high heels. The folks that design them. The folks that make them. And of course, all the podiatrists are in seventh heaven. If you’ve never heard of that speciality, podiatrists are foot doctors. With all these women wearing ridiculously high heels, they must see a longterm gold mine.

I flat cannot figure out the allure of these shoes? Think about it. You can’t run away from an attacker if you’re wearing them. You can hardly walk up and down stairs without problems. One tiny miscalculation and you’ve fallen from a great height onto your butt and probably broke something. And for some reason there are women who think carrying a newborn infant while in these shoes is wise.

Give me a good pair of running shoes anytime. 

One last thought. I can guarantee you the guy who designed the shoes will never ever wear them, not even on the walk to the bank to cash in all the money he’s made off them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

5 Random Thoughts for the New Year

Once again, it’s the beginning of a new year, a cold beginning here in Tassanoxie after quite a wet ending. Which leads me to my first random thought in a blog of random thoughts that have hit me as I mosey through life.   

What about Water Pipelines?
With all the rain the southeastern USA has been getting during the past few years and the extensive drought suffered in the western states, I’ve been thinking that this oil pipeline idea should be shelved for a pipeline that moves water from the wet side to the dry side of the continent. Truth is, you can’t drink oil and you can’t grow anything in oil. Face it, humans lived millions of years without oil, but without water, our bodies dry out, shut down, and die.

Seems to me it’s about time we put on our thinking caps and figured out a way to move water.

Wealth Management Advisor
I haven’t the faintest idea how long this job description has been around but it finally caught my eye. I like the way it assumes a regular ole bank customer like me has wealth that needs managing. Then again, I also keep wondering if a person who is really good at managing wealth would need a job in the first place. Wouldn’t she be rich enough not to work?

Kids Dressing for Outdoors
I’m not sure if this is endemic to the South or if today’s youngsters have no idea how to dress for cold weather. I realize Tassanoxie winters can be mild with sunshine and  sometimes hit 75ยบ F in December which makes it hard to know when to drag out the heavier clothes. But the South does get cold weather.

Just last Thanksgiving I was in North Carolina in a city located a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean. A cold front came through one night and the next morning there was a 12° F windchill factor. Here I am, bundled up like Charlie Brown in a Christmas special taking Jocko for his morning walk. And yes, Jocko had on his cute little doggie coat. 
Sure enough, we walk past a a teenager wearing shorts and a tee shirt waiting for the bus. 

It must have something to do with the “cool” factor and nothing to do with common sense.

Sudden Stops
The other day I was following a pick up truck owned by one of the local pest control companies. There was a big sign on the back that said: Sudden Stops Do Not Follow Closely

Hmmmm. Why would a pest control truck have to make sudden stops? So the driver can jump out and kill large cockroaches? Douse fire ant hills? Chase runaway rats?

Just wondering…

TV Prescription Drug Ads
I am not a fan of televised ads for prescription drugs because they show a smiling person who is taking the drug while a voice softly explains how many ways you can die while taking said drug. I think the Federal Communications Commission should tell the drug companies not only to list all the possible side effects of their drugs, but also show these side effects.

How many people would ask their doctor for the the drug if they saw footage of the guy who took the drug and ended up on dialysis? Or the woman whose hair fell out? Or the guy who had to go to the emergency room because something lasted longer than 4 hours?

Since I did five random thoughts and that’s what I named this blog, I’m done for now.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Utility Scam Hits Tassanoxie Area

Last night on the local news, the reporter covered a scam that’s going on in the Tassanoxie area. It goes like this. A well dressed young male knocks on your door. When you answer, he tells you he’s from the utility company and they need to cut down a tree on your lot. Would you come with him so he can show you the tree and get your okay?

You put on your shoes and follow him out into the yard. While you’re busy being nice and helping the phony utility guy, an accomplice slips into your unlocked, hopefully empty house, and steals your stuff. I’m guessing they know you’re the only one home before they knock at the door.

Naturally, they target older folks who tend to be accommodating to polite, well dressed young men. I bet that senior citizen wouldn’t be near as nice to a scruffy, tattooed guy wearing a Hell’s Angel vest. The shotgun would appear and scruffy guy would be invited off the premises.

But the scammer is dressed for the part which means you have to be alert. How often do the bad guys on television wear company uniforms to gain entry for nefarious means? All. The. Time. Where do you think the scammers get their ideas?

Back to the utility scam. First of all, utility companies have a ten foot right of way around your lot. They can do near about anything they want to do to trees that get in the way of the utility poles. Think about it. All those weird looking trees lining the highways didn’t grow that way. They were made lopsided by utility company chain saws.

As far as I can tell, the utility company isn’t into chopping down your tree, they’re more into trimming it into an odd shape.

Major point: utility company worker bees don’t need to come knocking at your door to get permission to do anything to the trees on the utility right of way.

Problem is, we Southerners tend to be a courteous bunch which probably makes scamming us a lot easier than scamming other folks. (Yeah, you know who you are.) So, what are you to do when a stranger comes knocking? First of all, remember you don’t haveta open the door. If you’re dying to find out what they want, talk to them through the door. Ask ‘em who they are and what they want. Don’t fall for fake IDs. If you’re not expecting someone from the telephone company, tell them you’re going to call their supervisor because you don’t have an appointment. If you’re alone, act like somebody’s in the house with you.

As for the utility company scam, beware of any well dressed young man who knocks on your door and says he’s from the utility company. And when he wants to show you a tree on your property they need to remove, call 911 and report his young, well dressed butt to the police.