Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shipwrecked Dreams

The story of the finding of the SS Gairsoppa, has me thinking of my childhood.  I know' "What a strange sentence", but I will explain.  As a child, I was enthralled with the idea of going out and finding lost treasure.  I remember watching "Popeye's Treasure Hunt"  as well as others that I have long forgotten, thinking that's what I want to do.   History was always my favorite subject and as I learned about Magellan, Cook, De Leon, Balboa and Drake, it fueled my desire to go treasure hunting.  Somewhere between Saturday morning cartoons, "Duck Tales"  and puberty, I lost that desire.  I guess I dismissed it as childish nonsense.  But with more and more shipwrecks being discovered, I wonder what would have happened if I had followed through with the childish nonsense.  Would I be on the high seas, fighting with Barbary pirates, racing to claim the loot?  Who knows?  Maybe I would be bored to death working an ocean grid, back and forth, North to South, East to West.  Maybe I would have my head over the rail decorating the side of the boat with the contents of my stomach, which is what happened during my one and only deep sea fishing excursion.  Alas, my shipwreck dreams have  passed me by.  An old man and the sea adventure is not for me. 

That childhood dream lies with the others of becoming a veterinarian, meteorologist, tornado chaser, history teacher, sports hero and famous writer.  Some of those I still have hope for but for now I enjoy listening to my kids' dreams.  I encourage them to follow through no matter how far out there the dreams are and not to dismiss them as childish nonsense.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Vacation Scenes

Two days of my vacation are over.  We spent the weekend in the hot tourist trap of Gautier, Mississippi.  The place, while secluded, was nice.  We have stayed at some interesting places over the years and this was no different.  I always see so much potential in these little places.  It looks like they were trying but they can never quite get updated.  I'm sure money is the issue and who can blame them.  We all want to make money.  But I as said the place was nice. 

Two things will stand out from our mini-trip and both occurred at the pool. 

Number 1:  I was somewhere between consciousness and dreamland lying in my lounger, basking in sun, when all of a sudden, I hear, "GRGFHRG" and then a second "GRGFHRG" out of my haze and out of the chair I bounced and then two steps and then into the pool.  During that same brief moment I hear Gretchen exciting say "I'll GET HER."  So into the pool we both went.  It's a little amazing how I was totally out of it but my brain snapped into life saving mode so quickly.  Gretchen and I arrived at the little girl at the same time and I allowed her to grab her and pull her to safety because she wasn't in extreme danger and I didn't want to look like an old pervert.  Now the whole time the grandfather, probably in his 50's, was sitting behind us and I'm not even sure he got up.  5 minutes later, after the girl's mother and grandmother had arrived, Gretchen had to pull the girl out again.  What's wrong with these people? 

Number 2:  After I left the pool, I began grilling some burgers.  Gretchen and the kids stayed at the pool.  A lady ask Gretchen where she was from and they started talking.  Turns out the lady was originally from Nashville, Il and was a second cousin to girl in my graduating class, which is having a reunion this coming weekend.  It is a very small world.

I have a week left on this vacation and I'm sure there will be plenty more to write about.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Tale of Two Strays

A tale of two strays who had lost their way.  Both had blue eyes and grey hair.  A family felt sorry for first and gave him some food and walked on.  After a while, the family returned and took him home with them and he became part of their  family.  The second stray was ignored and left with no food.  Person after person, family after family walked by and paid him no attention.  With his dog taken from him, the man died hungry and alone.

Just think about it for a while.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Collector's Cup My Ass! or Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?

After moving twice in less than a year, a strange development has occurred. We have began going through our stuff and discovering that we really don't need or want this stuff.  Which has led to question of why did I save all of this?  Now "this" probably means different things to different people.  For example we have 8 high school year books and 4 college year books.  I have looked at these once in 15 years.  Yet we've held onto them and moved them with us over the years.  All together they may weigh 50 pounds and take up space in a whole footlocker.  They are signed by people I may have met or knew in 1 class and never saw again.  Some signings are by close friends or ex-girlfriends and some are just profane.  Nothing of any real importance.  So why have I kept these?  Out of some sentimental attachment?  Maybe.  But after moving, that attachment seems to have been broken.  Which brings me to collections.

Over the years I have collected different things.  The biggest collection, of course, are my baseball cards.  I loved collecting them in my younger days.  I remember going to my Grandma Clara's on 22nd Street and running 4 doors down to Bolerjack's and buying packs of fifteen cards for $.35 each.  I loved opening them and finding "stars" that I would put in plastic sheets in a binder.  The "commons" would go into shoe boxes and placed into another footlocker.  Still today, when you open that footlocker, you can smell the bubblegum that has been long gone for 25 years. 

After this last move, the thought of selling them crosses my mind all the time.  The joy I had as a kid is gone and the thought of moving them again is less than exciting.  Actually, letting them go may be a little tougher than I thought.  The main problem is that the greedy card companies flooded and killed the market after I had quit collecting.  So their value has dropped so much that in an article I read claimed the collapse of their value was worse than the real estate collapse.  Most of the research I have done recommended that you just keep them and give them to your kids.  That was my plan all along.  But moving change that.

Moving also changed how we looked at keeping extra stuff such as serving platters, picture frames, knick knacks, furniture, and holiday decorations.  None of this stuff we never really needed.  One additional thought is all the money we spent on this crap. Ugh.

 So, my advice to you all is to take a look at what you have, imagine having to move it all, re-evaluate your needs and wants and start making smart decisions.  Do this and you could start collecting cash instead of worthless and /or useless crap.   not to mention, you could cut your moving time down and keep yourself off of "Hoarders."  It's like hitting a trifecta.                                     

Friday, September 16, 2011

George Jefferson Meets Barack Obama

As I was flipping channels the other day I came across an episode of "All in the Family."  I stopped to watch for a few minutes.  I ended up watching the whole show.  The next day I watched a "The Jefferson's" episode.   This morning as I lay sick on my couch, I watched Robert Redford in "The Candidate."  All of three were filmed in the 1970's.  And what I got from watching these were:  change the clothes, change the hairstyles, update the decor and autos and all three could have been made yesterday.  Forty years of politics and we are still talking about the same issues.  Saving trees, over population, unemployment, race relations, oil, and big money.(just to name a few)

I would recommend watching "The Candidate."  There is a lot of symbolism in the movie.  Mostly in what a candidate wants to do and what he is allowed to do.  A lot of what he says gets lost in background noise and TV cameras looking for exciting things to record.  When there was a major issue to be dealt with, money was thrown at it and everyone was happy, even if it was just hush money.

I have lived under eight presidents. I guess Reagan was my favorite.  He was likable and everybody seem to have a job during that time.  But forty years have gone by and here we are spinning our wheels on the same worn out issues.  Every election we are told of how changes are coming and after every term we here how they failed.  It's no wonder why Americans don't take time to vote.  The ole adage of "my vote doesn't matter" seems to be true in many eyes.  It's not the vote that doesn't matter it's the candidates.  311 million people live in this country.  We elect roughly 600 people to represent us at the federal level.  Who really gets represented?  I bet I have a better chance of talking to George Jefferson than I do talking to President Barack Obama.  They only time someone ask my opinion on issues is during a phone survey.  But asking me a handful of questions doesn't get to the heart of what I believe.  I can sit here and write my little blog, record a webcast and reach about 50 people, maybe.  With that 50 does anyone care about what I say or do they read to see what the idiot says this week?  Either way is fine, as I said before I enjoy doing this and I will continue.  However, it's so frustrating trying to get issues brought forward. 

Let's look at crime.  "The crime rate is up."  Okay we will hire more law enforcement to help lower it.  That's reacting to effects.  What about looking at what's causing those rates rates to rise?  Looks like we are back to the right vs. the left.

40 years and the issues are the same.  The parties are the same.  There are some groundbreaking ideas out there such as a national sales tax.  We rid ourselves of income tax and all of it's loopholes and pay tax on what you buy.  But they will never get a chance. We keep our status quo.  And in 40 more years, I can watch the aformentioned shows and they will just as viable as they were 80 years before.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pushing My Boulder

I began pushing my boulder up the hill long ago.  Just when it started getting easier, I tripped, stumbled and fell to the ground.  My boulder paused, then started backward.  My boulder ran me over and flattened me into the ground.  It continued to roll.  My boulder reached where I had begun and then beyond.  It came to rest in a giant canyon.  I lay there stunned for a brief moment.  I crawled all the way to my boulder.  I stood up and began to push again.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Customer Circus

I just spent the day torturing myself.  I had the day off and I spent it doing various things that grown-ups have to do.   Fine, they have to be done. But they don't have to be such a freakin' nightmare.  Among the places that I visited were State Farm, OMV(Office of Motor Vehicles), Regions Bank and Save-A-Lot.

Let's start with State Farm.  I needed to insure a car.  They needed my and Gretchen's La license numbers, make and model, and address.  Now I have been with State Farm since I was 16 years old. I thought this would be a 10 minute process.  Nope.  I didn't time it because it was early in the day, however, it was much longer than 10 minutes.  I was informed of how much it was going to cost.  FYI, Louisiana has the highest car insurance rates in the country, thanks to all of the uninsured motorist.  After the initial shock, I had her reduce the coverage.  I was also informed that because of an accident in January of 2009, that I was losing the no accident discount.  Okay, I had the accident but it was 2 1/2 years ago and now you choose to take off the discount.  Whatever, fine just give the papers and I will be on my way.

Next stop OMV.   Actually, the OMV is pretty speedy here.  But because I brought in what the internet page to me to bring in, I didn't get done what needed to be done.  When I mentioned that the web page didn't say anything about the extra paper, I was told "The web page needs to be updated."  Uh-huh.  I guess it does.  What really gets my goat is that I had also called the OMV about a month ago to find out what I needed.  The "lady" who answered my call treated me as if I was the dumbest person in the world.  I have no doubts that she gets a lot of calls from idiots, but I'm not one of them.  My thought is if you hate your job that much then quit, otherwise, get your attitude straight and treat people right.  Looks like another trip to the OMV is in my near future.

My third stop I knew was going to be bad.  How did I know?  Every time Gretchen and I have gone to Regions Bank, its been a nightmare.  The only exception was when we opened our account.  So today's trip shouldn't have been that hard, an address change and check order.  We tried to do it online but it wouldn't go through.  So into the bank I go.  I hadn't been to this branch before but Gretchen has and it wasn't a good experience.  There was no front desk so I went to the teller line.  Surely a teller could do these two small items.  I remember my banking days, we could.  Nope.  I would have to take a seat and wait for a representative.  (Deep sigh) Okay.  So I take my seat.  There is one gentlemen already waiting.  This is when I look at the time.  I knew what time I came in because I had called Gretchen as I was going in.  Sitting there, I watched a lady join another already working with a customer.  I could overhear something about a promotion that was getting ready to take place.  They were laughing and having a good time.  Meanwhile back at the sofa, I watch the workers.  They finish up with the customer that they were helping.  They all depart the room and one young lady tells me someone will be with me shortly.  "Yeah, right.", I tell myself.  "I know better."  As I continue to watch, I see employees going outside.  I thought it must be their break time.  Nope.  They went out their to see a giant green bicycle be delivered to the front of the building.  ( the big promotion)  The girl that would eventually help me was first on the scene out there.  I don't know what a giant green bike has to do with anything but apparently it was much more important that helping a customer. Finally, 17 minutes after I walked through the doors, I get taken into the half of an office thingy.  Two minutes later I'm walking to the car.  My business had been completed.

I don't have much to say about Save-a-lot.  It was my first time there.  I couldn't find the items that were in their ad.  I'm guessing they were out but there were no employees to ask.  When I checked out, I let a women with 2 items go in front of me.  (I'm not completely heartless)  As I was getting checked out, I continued to load things onto the conveyor belt when the guy behind lets out an "Oh geez" maybe it was an "Oh, Jesus" I'm not for sure.  I turned an looked at him for a second, turned back around and continued to load my items.  It's not my fault they only had 1 cashier.  As I was finishing up, the cashier says "I don't know why they do this to me."  I turned and looked at the line that had amassed behind me.  I said in a comforting way "I hope they get you some more help".  Her reply was "They are all helping unload the truck."

The last stop was at Walgreens to drop off a re-written prescription.  (say that 5 times real fast)  It had to be rewritten thanks to a less than cooperative insurance company that I won't get into today.  I pull right up to the window and explain what I was doing.  She takes the prescription and says she needs my ID.  I just did all of this in 3 days ago.  Okay, here.  "Let me check to see if we have this in stock." Once again, we just did this 3 days ago.  She comes back and stares at the computer.  She then says  "Is he taking two kinds?"  NO SHIT SHERLOCK!  That's why there are 2 prescriptions.  Oh, don't make me come in there!  Not today.  I answer politely "Yes"  She replies, "It will be ready in about an hour and a half."  I drive home.

I work in customer service everyday.  I never treat my customers this way.  My company sends every customer a survey of how my service was for them.  The survey rates as follow: 9-10 is a 100%, 6-8 is a 0%, and 1-5 is a -100%.  Most of my score rate in the 100%.  Some people give me an 8.  Every once in a while i will receive a 1.  Not because of my service but because they are pissed at the company.  Okay whatever.  The point is that at State Farm, I was treated like a total stranger even though I have never had any other insurance company.  At the OMV, she didn't care that I had wasted my time calling in, looking at their website, and coming to the facility.  I understand rules are rules but don't disregard my time.  Regions, I have decided, is hopeless.  The only reason I haven't switched banks is that it's a pain in the ass getting all direct deposits and auto withdrawals changed over.  The main issue with Save-A-Lot is the same with many stores.  They just don't have enough workers.  Gotta maximize that profit.  Who cares if people wait twenty minutes to get checked out.? What I don't understand is why they have all of the other check out lanes when they don't use them.  Lastly, Walgreens.  Maybe it was because I hadn't eaten yet or maybe it because of the prior experiences there but it just hit me wrong.  I'm tired of places wasting my time.  I'm not there to chat, I'm not there to listen to workplace drama and I'm not there to spend all day waiting.  Just get me in and out.  Don't make me feel like I'm in a three ring circus.  That's all  I ask.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Drinking Game

I have had a case of blogger's block as of late.  I wanted to write today and I have had some ideas but nothing that would cause my fingers to bounce on the keypad. And then, there it was as soon as I logged on to Facebook.  I could spend days writing on Facebook.  However, a fellow blogging friend will be writing about that soon so I won't be stepping on his toes or his fingers as it may be.  So what was on Facebook that caught my attention?

Post:  "Long Day!!!" The first response was "You should have a drink!!!"
Really?  Not  "Anything I can do to help?" or "It will get better tomorrow."?

Nope.  Nothing can fix your day better than a drink.  I can only think of one situation where that would be true.  And that would be if you were lost in the desert and the drink that you were referring to was water. 

Day after day I read on Facebook about "adult beverages", "needing a drink", or "I'm still hung-over, LOL"  What makes these post even worse is the fact that they have kids as "friends".  As the kids grow up are they going to think that they'll need a drink?  What a fine example we have decided to set for our youth.  Yes, its your Facebook page and you can put on it whatever you like.  But it's like drinking a gallon of gin, just because you can do it doesn't mean you should.

Using alcohol or any other substance to numb yourself to the world's daily grind, your own personal problems, or because your kids drive you nuts, doesn't solve any of the issues  As soon as you awaken from your haze, you will see that those problems are still there and that you will have to deal with them.  And then what should you do?  Drink more?

You offering your friend a drink in the above situation reminds of the old pot commercials where the kid would tell the other "It'll make you feel good."  It's like a bucket of crabs.  Crabs can't get out of the bucket because the other crabs keep pulling them down.  Instead of pulling people down how about lifting them up or give them a helping hand and help get them out of that bucket.  But no.  We choose to waller in our misery and we want partners to waller with us.

Can you name one time where alcohol actually helped in history?  I can name a bunch where alcohol made a mess of things but none where it helped.

I have nothing against drinking a beer or getting your self a margarita.  My problems are bragging about it as grown adults or using it to solve your problems.  First of all if your a grown adult then you should know that all grown adults could have a drink. So what is there to brag about?   I don't know but these Facebook post seem to think there is a reason.  Secondly, it doesn't solve any issues but it sure can create some new ones.

My last thought is that alcohol doesn't make a party more of a party, it doesn't make fun more fun, and it doesn't make what you did wrong any better.  So have a drink if you want to but not if you need to.