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.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Town Too Short?

Tassanoxie suffers from a shortness problem that wasn’t apparent until this summer. That’s when the power company started installing really, really tall cement utility poles all around town. I’m talking taller than 50 year old trees. Taller than any building in Tassanoxie. Reaching into the stratosphere tall. 

Poles that probably fit in and look right short in say, Dubai, home to the tallest building in the world. But truth is, these poles don’t look so good in little ole Tassanoxie.

For folks who don’t live in a small town, there is a dearth of tall buildings. We got three, maybe four floors in some medical buildings and two motels, but that’s about it. This shortness issue doesn’t give the elevator repairman much work here, what so few elevators in town.

But no one even knew we had a shortness problem until the power company decided to install these poles. I’m sure some big city fella thought these gigantic poles would get the job done. I doubt he once wondered what they would look like lining our streets.

These poles sort of stick up like so many huge sticks. And like sticks, some of them aren’t straight and sort of lean one way or another. I saw one of the worker bees standing at the bottom of one and was amazed at how small it made him and the truck parked next to it look. 

I can’t think of any way to make these behemoths look good. Even the tallest trees along the streets barely hit them midway. Fact is, they are plum ugly. So ugly, they make the cell phone towers look good.

There are those in town who would say these utility poles are a sign of progress. They may represent progress, but I think progress can be packaged for the size of the town. Rather than planting a forest of gigantic utility poles, I think the power company could have installed underground cable. It works well in a lot of subdivisions around town, so why wouldn’t it work down the streets heading into town? I mean, if you saw how much work it took to install one of these giant poles, the cost of digging up the street couldn’t be that much  more.

Being the power company, they didn’t bother to ask anyone. Once they got that utility right of way all those years ago, it gave them a swelled head. They just do what they want and don’t worry about it. And with all the electronic devices and constant use of electricity, maybe they’re right. After all, with folks busy talking on their phones or playing games on some device, they don’t look up often enough to notice giant eyesores along the road.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cursive Takes a Hit

There is nothing like learning your handwriting is going the way of the dinosaurs. From what I’ve been reading, school systems across the nation are dropping cursive handwriting from their curriculums in favor of keyboarding. It seems the powers to be have decided cursive is an antiquated way of communicating. They feel today’s students need to learn keyboarding, which by the way, is not related to snowboarding. 

Anyway, these folks say learning cursive takes away valuable time from all the other stuff kids need to learn. I say, give me a break, just how much stuff is the average third grader learning these days that the school can’t cram in lessons on how to write in cursive? What, are they too busy learning how to tweet?

Cursive is not without its supporters, mostly people who sell pens, ink, and paper. All right, there are other folks who think taking cursive out of the educational process is not a good idea. They say learning to write cursive helps with things like mind and hand coordination. And if you’ve ever seen a field full of 8 year olds playing soccer, then you’d realize the value of mind and hand coordination.

They also say there is a connection between writing and thinking that helps promote overall literacy. I’m sure this stems from the fact that cursive doesn’t come with spelling auto-correct. See, you’re actually thinking about what you’re writing, not battling with a device that thinks it’s smarter than you and keeps trying to put in the word it thinks you want, rather than the one you’re trying to write. 

Cursive also gives your brain time for reflection, which prevents spewing forth nonsense. Here you are, writing in loops, connecting letters, going much slower than you can on a keyboard. (Unless you’re a doctor.) No auto-correct to interrupt your thought processes which cuts down on saying stuff you don’t want to say. 

Who has time to reflect when they’re battling with auto-correct? You’re just happy you got something into the little message box. Hit send and whatever you wrote goes off willy-nilly into cyberspace.

Imagine, years from now you’re recovering from surgery and your grandson offers to go buy your groceries since you can’t get out. You make a list, forgetting he never learned cursive and he returns home with weird foods because he can’t read your list.

I can also see a future were some bright light realizes how much easier it is to connect printed letters and voila, cursive returns! Naturally, as all generations do, those kids will think they’d invented something new.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Crickets, Anyone?

It seems there are people out there convinced we need to start eating more bugs. In particular, crickets. On account of them being chock full of protein. And because there are a lot of cricket species–about 2,000–folks can eat. Since those little rascals pack a lot of nutrition in their little bitty bodies, they’re an eco-friendly, sustainable protein producer.

The answer, maybe, to the upcoming food shortages due to the human inability to control natural urges and stop overpopulating the planet.

I was mainly interested in this whole crickets for food thing because I’ve been wondering where the crickets have gone. The last few years, I’ve been noticing a definite lack of crickets in these parts. There didn’t seem to be any of them hopping and chirping around the house. Learning they’re wanted for food, it’s obvious my crickets have been grabbed by a rustler out to make big bucks by taking them to a cricket farmer.

That’s right, cricket farmer, because if you’re going to feed the world’s population on bugs, you need a more sophisticated system of supply than just going out into your backyard and plucking up crickets wherever you find them.

Enter the cricket farm. Or the grasshopper farm. Or the agave worm farm. Which leads to the cricket farmer. Or the grasshopper farmer. Or the agave worm farmer. Can you imagine writing that in the IRS occupation slot?

Any cricket eating I’ve done in the past has been purely accidental and I plan to keep it that way. The very idea of eating bugs makes most of us go “yuck,” but the truth is, we’ve been eating bug debris all our lives. While we probably don’t consume near the amount of bugs debris our ancestors did, still, Consumer Reports has reported finding bug debris in the foods they test. Nobody bats an eye and the FDA doesn’t get their panties in a wad over a little bug debris and the processed food is waved on through.

And while I appreciate the fact we need to find more sustainable food sources, I think the marketing guys will have to come up with some great ad campaigns to convince folks to eat bugs rather than steak. Of course, they’re trying to convince us by putting crickets into snack foods and cookies. With America’s preference for these products, the cricket food guys may have hit on the best route to luring us to sample bugdom treats.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Successful Tall Women Find Love with Loser Short Guys?

Here’s a whole new take on relationships. According to one of the numerous surveys folks are always giving and taking, if you’re a successful female looking for a guy, don’t worry, there’s a loser short guy out there looking for you. This is called the George Clooney Effect on account of George Clooney getting hooked up with a hot shot international lawyer who is taller and smarter than he is. 

But is she really taller and smarter than he is? Face it, if she’s wearing those popular deathtrap high heels, she’s walking around on her tippy toes. Thus, if he were to walk around on his tippy toes he’d probably be taller than she is. Or the same height. But he’s a guy and he’s already smarter than her because he only wears comfy flat shoes that won’t put him into the podiatrist office in his old age. 

Whoops, at 53, Clooney is close to old age. With his looks I guess there’s no need to go there.

How about the smart part. Here’s my problem. The media claims she’s intellectually superior to George, but did someone compare their IQs or are they going on the fact George is an actor and she’s a lawyer? Does that automatically mean she’s smarter than he is? Would a successful woman really want a guy who can’t keep up with her conversations?

What surprised the survey taker guys was that successful women are attracted to older guys. Hold on, here! Topsy turvy world. Role reversal. Successful females are aligning themselves with successful guys! Unlike successful men who often opt for beauty and no brains. Which of course leads to dumb offspring. 

I never could figure out why smart successful guys are surprised to discover they sired kids who are dumber than rocks. Maybe they were too busy being successful to absorb any information about how genetics work. 

Then, again. Their brain probably never entered the equation.

Back to successful women. It makes sense they prefer older guys since the male of the species takes forever to grow up. By the time one gets successful in a career, one is no longer entertained by men who make fart sounds with their hand and armpit. 

These women are also more “picky” about who they want to date or marry. And why not? If you’re independent and financially successful, why tie yourself to a loser?

What really surprised the survey taker guys was that short, less successful guys are more than willing to hook up with a woman who is intellectually superior, earns more money, is independent, and career driven. 

Hmmm, and what exactly is the young, not-as-successful guy bringing to the table?

The media says successful women are okay with dumb short guys. Just look at George, they say. But I’m not buying it. Shorter, okay. Dumber, not so much. Sorry guys, you're just going to have to bring more to the table than you did in the past.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Disney is Southernizing the World One Smile at a Time

Sam and I went down to Orlando, FL a few weeks ago for Braves spring training. Nothing beats a visit to a big, congested city to make me appreciate living in Tassanoxie. 
It’s a comfort knowing I don’t have to battle traffic in ten lanes going at rocket speed when I go to the grocery store. 

Now the Braves play in ESPN’s Wide World of Sports stadium. Since Disney owns the franchise (along with about every other media outlet), all the employees (about 60,000 folks in Orlando work for Disney) at the stadium have been through the Disney employee training. From what I gathered, the most important thing these guys learn is to make the customers happy they came to Disney.

To do that, the employees smile and greet you as if they’re happy you’re there. Which of course they should be since you’re paying their salaries. But it sure makes a visit to any Disney franchise feel like home. As we all know, some employees can be downright unpleasant to customers. These types are NOT happy to see customers.

With Florida situated in the South, smiles from strangers shouldn't have to be taught, but the truth is, folks from colder climates have been migrating there for the past 100+ years seeking warmth. Gradually, Florida became a retiree mecca. Since these weren’t native Southerners, the habit of smiling and being friendly got diluted. Many of the transplants weren’t used to speaking to strangers, much less smiling at them.

Disney to the rescue. As Disney grew, it needed workers and lots of retirees wanted to do something besides twiddle their thumbs. Retirees and Disney made a good fit. Of course, in order to work for Disney they all have to undergo specialized training on the traits of a good Disney employee. Like learning how to smile and be friendly to strangers.

And I bet my bottom dollar, it’s added years to the lives of those retirees. No telling how many grumpy people have benefitted from working for Disney. Not only in Florida but across the world since Disney has several other entertainment centers. At each one, they’re training folks to smile and talk to strangers, 

It gave me hope for the future.

It made me think how great it would be if Disney opened a place in the Middle East. And held lots of employee training sessions. Maybe friendly smiles and being nice to strangers would catch on there and reduce the chaos.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

No Pants, No Service

Land sakes alive, can you believe a clothes designer came up with something called a penis cloak? And then had someone wear it? And because it was worn at a fashion show, someone else took pictures, and then some durn fool put the pictures in an online newspaper.

I almost fell face first into my coffee mug. Here I am depressing myself with news of death, mayhem, and the coming end of the world as I know it and wham! I flip the virtual page and get an eyeful of male private parts. And no, I was reading a national online newspaper, not a porn magazine.

What, you ask is a penis cloak? If I remember right, and no, I’m not gonna look for it online to refresh my memory, it was a sleeveless, ankle length coat with a section of the front missing. 

A very crucial section. 

One that if a guy forgets his pants and underpants, which apparently he’s supposed to do, exposes his private parts.

Lucky me, the photographer was right in front of the model when the picture was snapped. And the model wasn’t wearing a thing under the cloak. Not even a fig leaf.

Who, I wondered, would think this was a good idea? It goes without saying if it’s cold enough for an ankle length cloak, then a guy sure wouldn’t want to have his stuff dangling in the breeze. Then, again, it was sleeveless so I’m guessing keeping the wearer warm wasn’t it’s purpose anyway.

Once I see something like that, it takes dynamite to get it out of my head. Which led me to wonder if anyone in the audience actually noticed the cloak? Or were they stunned into stupefaction, too? Did any of them notice the lines of the cloak? Its fit? The fabric? If no one noticed the cloak, what’s the point? 

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the idea of a fashion show to, oh, I don’t know, showcase new outfits? And if this fashion took off, which one supposes the designer hopes, would the restaurants have to have a bunch of new signs made up? No Pants, No Service?

It’s times like these that I’m thankful I live in a small town like Tassanoxie. Men might get away with flashing their junk at a big city fashion show, but not in these here parts. One flash, and slam! into the pokey. 

On the plus side, I was so flabbergasted by the photo, I clean forgot about death, mayhem, and the Apocalypse.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Weather Channel Addict

Used to be, not so long ago, folks looked up at the sky and said stuff like, “There’s a storm’s a coming, I can feel it in my bones.” And while that way of forecasting isn’t something to be sneezed at since barometric pressure plays a big hand in weather changes and human body aches, I’m still more inclined to check the weather channel to see if a storm’s a coming.

You see, I’m a weather channel addict. I have been ever since it first appeared on cable TV oh so many years ago. I can remember when nobody thought a channel devoted to the weather was a good idea. Except me. And whoever thought of it. And I’m mighty glad that person didn’t listen to those naysayers. 

I check the weather first thing every morning and last thing every night. I use the forecast to decide what to wear when I go out. A coat because it’s going to be cold or a windbreaker because it’s going to be windy. 

Since I’m retired, the weather tells me whether I should jump out of bed to walk Jocko or sleep a little later because it’s raining. And if really cold weather is predicted, I check the pantry to see if I need to run to the store and stock up on his dog food before it hits. And since Tassanoxie put in those tornado sirens a few years ago, I even know when to grab Jocko and Mr. Tibbes and run to my closet. 

Of course, nowadays folks expect complete, 100% accuracy from meteorologists. After all, those guys have had plenty of time to get this forecasting stuff down pat. Alas, that‘s not the case. Many times dear old Mother Nature refuses to play by their predictions and messes up everybody’s plans.

Which might be why a neighbor of mine got herself a weather station planted in her back yard. I had no idea you could get weather services do that so I’m a little bit jealous. I mean now she can go online and check the weather in her own backyard. 

Of course, I can check the weather in my backyard, too, but I have to open the back door and step out. If I wanna see if the wind’s blowing, I have to lick my finger and hold it up and guesstimate the direction and speed. On the plus side, predicting storms at my age is easy because my achy joints warn me. 

Hmmmm, maybe I don’t need a weather station cluttering up my backyard after all.