A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

(This place is) FINE FOR LITTER

I don’t understand the mindset that allows you to throw stuff out of your car. Or maybe I do. Maybe it’s that Freud thing. You know, the anal expulsive character. Where it’s ok to poo all over the world. It’s either that or people are just plain creeps. Choose one. Or both. The other day while waiting for the long suffering wife to run wild crazy and free from her workplace so I could take her home I engaged in my usual time killing exercise. Across from her workplace there is an intersection with stop signs. Both directions and both almost universally ignored. So I count the scofflaws. One day in a ten minute period I counted thirty five cars that either just slowed a little or outright blew past the signs. One was a police car! On this day a young man rolled to what I have heard called a “California stop”, lowered his window and ejected a large red plastic cup. The kind you serve beer in at keg parties. I was appalled. But it’s not the strangest thing I have seen thrown out of car windows. Of course it’s normal to see cigarettes butts come flying out but a tampon cylinder? Makes you go hmmmm. A walk along any roadside here in NEPA will show you that the world is some folk’s garbage dump. Fast food bags, half eaten food, used condoms (ugh) and empty soda and beer cans of every brand known to man. I guess it’s tough to enforce but the law is clear. PA Vehicle Code, Title 75, Chapter 37 - litter and waste dropped, thrown or deposited from a vehicle onto a road right-of-way. Penalties: considered a summary offense, imposes a fine of not more than $900, depending on where the dumping occurs, and/or picking up and removing litter from public or private property. I like the sound of that picking up and removing litter from public or private property idea. Seems like a good old “eye for an eye” punishment. Strangest thing I have found? By my mailbox. On my country road. Two hypodermic needles. Right next to them a bag from a fast food joint. My immediate thought was a diabetic. Over dosed on junk food they had to shoot up with insulin. The long suffering wife said junkies. She was probably right. In hospitals and doctors’ offices they have special containers for “Sharps.” I wore gloves and wrapped them in the fast food bags. Dropped them in what the fast food junkies have evidently never seen. My garbage can. So I cleaned up after you. Would you do the same for me? Somehow I doubt it. I could be wrong.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Customer Diservice

Whatever happened to good old customer service? You know, that old fashioned concept of the customer always being right? I guess in today’s marketplace there are so many customers with so much money that it doesn’t matter if you piss off some or most of them, right? Wrong. In today’s marketplace it’s more important than ever before to please the few customers who walk in than ever before. If I was selling something at retail I would make my customer happy in hopes that they might come in again or more importantly tell an acquaintance about the wonderful service they got at my store. Case in point. I walked the corridors of a local mall the other weekday. I realize that mid day, mid week might not be the busiest time to visit a mall. But this place was so empty it was spooky. You could have shot a cannon in any direction and not killed or even wounded a soul. Even the annoying people who try to smear hand cream on you were awol. It was beyond dead. It was in full rigor mortis. So it was with some bemusement that I waited five minutes before being waited on at my destination. My mission? To return a defective DVD. I purchased “Avatar” and halfway through at the part where the blue girl was about to put the moves on the blue guy the picture began to smear and tear and then just froze. Nothing I tried worked. So there I am with my receipt in hand and the guy at the store finally finishes his cell phone call and listens to my story. “No” he said. “We just gotta email about this. You gotta update your firmwear on your player.”
“My player is only a few months old and I just did that update.” I replied.
And here is where the disconnect really begins. He said: “Are you sure?”
I opened my mouth to reply then shut it with an audible snap. This guy was questioning me? My honesty? Over a return/replacement transaction? Like it was money out of HIS pocket? I just stood and looked at him.
Let’s see. I drove ten miles to the store, was going to drive ten miles back to make “sure” I had done the update then lather rinse and repeat? So round trip of forty miles plus the two hours out of life. Why?
I held out the DVD and the receipt and kept my big mouth shut. He apparently got the message albeit with a bit more grumbling. I got my replacement which works fine. Put bamboo slivers under my fingernails and set them on fire and I won’t ever return there.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Flea Markets Redux

I love flea markets. I have mentioned this before in this space. Winter sucks for many reasons but the dearth of flea markets ranks right up there with shoveling and paying the plow guy. So it was with no little sense of elation that we did the rounds of the local flea markets for the first time last weekend. We hit the Garden Drive-in at Hunlock Creek before the birds were up. Flea markets are great for people watching. In fact I enjoy a stroll around the grounds seeing the various examples of Gods handy work almost more than I do bargain priced items. This weekend past was no exception. There was the girl who stooped in front of me to tie her shoe. Honest, I tried not to look but her Technicolor tramp stamp drew my eye like a moth to flame. She was accompanied by a dog slightly larger than a robin. Good thing this little terror was on a leash. It barked a frenzy at a Bull Mastiff the size of a locomotive like it would tear its throat out if it could just get at it. The large dog just eyed the tiny thing. Then there was wardrobe malfunction girl, who had bright red hair streaked with green, an unfortunate choice of glasses that resembled Woody Allen’s to go with her belly shirt that did little to hide her big belly, her jeans that were ripped but not in a fashionable way and her sneakers with the fluorescent orange soles. I am sure her house has no mirrors as they most likely exploded. And the conversations you over hear. Now that we have a large percentage of good folks who speak other than English here in NEPA I have noticed exchanges in those languages are all done at TOP VOLUME. I have no idea what they are saying but I sure can hear it. But back to the bargains. A row of brightly colored banners that were proudly displayed with a large sign claiming they were “Falgs.” Swing and a miss. A stack of cages with roosters, bunnies, peahens and ducks. 3 for $15 dollars, your choice, mix and match. A display of odds and ends that looked like it was moved intact from somebody’s attic. Cardboard boxes full of stuff that defies description. And so we shopped and strolled and bought on a perfect Sunday morning. My purchases? Hot sauce for my eggs, expired in 2009 – A previously viewed CD of the HBO series “Carnivale” asking price $40-paid $20 – Granola bars, also expired in 2009 – and to wash them down with, a bottle of 1985 Dom Perignon (!) $30. Only at the flea market.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gothic Kittens Redux

The Gothic kittens’ case was disposed of the other day. When this first came to light I was outraged and wrote in this space about what I thought should happen to the person who committed this act on the kitties. It’s the only time I remember the editor of this publication suggesting I tone it down. That what I offered as punishment for this animal mutilator was, well, a bit extreme. We don’t need to go there. It was over the top. But I have followed this case and the surrounding controversies with more than a little interest. People brought up the point that if it’s ok to pierce baby girls ears than why the outrage over doing the same to a dumb animal. My question-who says it’s ok to pierce baby’s ears? I am in contact with many individuals who have all sorts of body decorations. Some so many that it looks as though they got into a fight with a nail gun and lost. I am certain that if we held down these pierce devotees and forced them to be ventilated that we would be swiftly arrested if not worse. My point is that it’s all about choice. The kitties and babies don’t have one when somebody handy with a needle comes at them. That makes it wrong. The woman who stabbed the kitties said at her sentencing hearing “I had no idea what I was doing was a crime. It was wrong, and I’ll never do it again.”
So she says now, while confessing she was only trying to “beautify” the kittens. She just does not get it. She also claims she really really loves animals.
Her sentence? Six months house arrest, some further time on double secret probation and she can’t operate her pet grooming business while being punished.
I wish I was a judge. Not because I want a big boat in Florida and a jet of my own. But because I could come up with a better sentence with one bribe held behind my back.
First thing that popped into my head is that since she really really loves animals that she should never ever be allowed within 100 yards of any. Like a child molester.
But then I had a second thought. This woman who put rings on kitty’s tails to make them drop off should be made to have more contact with animals. I say make her work, for free, in an animal shelter. Cleaning cages. Shoveling poo. Closely supervised of course. And I want her to watch every single instance where a puppy or kitty is euthanized. It might harden her heart you say? I think not. I could be wrong.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Home Unhandyman

Did you ever have one of those perfect days? You get out of bed in a good mood. You shave yourself without opening a vein. The breakfast is made without setting the house on fire or dropping it on the floor. On the way out the door the birds are singing a merry tune, the sun is warm on your face and the car starts on the first try. It’s the perfect day. Yesterday was the anti-day of that for me. 180 degrees reversed, like the creepy episode of Star Trek where everyone had an evil twin. Sometimes you have days where you can do anything. Yesterday was the day that I once and for all decided that I can do almost nothing. It’s another home handyman disaster story, folks. It started last fall where I decided to shut down my studio above the garage for the winter. Too much other work on the other jobs. So I drained the toilet, opened the faucets and shut the water off. Turned the heater off and forgot all about it. Yesterday I decided to turn it back on. I carefully (heh) looked over the plumbing. Then turned the water back on. The shut off is in my basement. Studio is a minutes’ walk away. Took my time. Was greeted at the door of the studio by “Agnes” the remake. Sprinted to the house. Fell partway there and knocked the wind and what little sense I had out of me. I shut off the water and returned to the scene of the crime. Expensive microphones were floating around. A pipe that was perfect when I checked it now was clearly not. So I went to the hardware store and they sold me a plastic fitting to fix it. Would probably have worked if I didn’t snap it in half. Now comes the real bad idea. I got the propane torch out, blew the cobwebs off it. The little bastard would only stay lit if I held the barbeque lighter to it. Awkward. Burned myself. Set the plastic drain pipe for the sink on fire. Threw everything into the trash. I was scared to call the plumber. The last time he charged me the 401 k and a quart of blood. A colleague “knew a guy” and he actually showed up, did the fix and charged less than the travel time of the last bandit. I remarked to him about how inept I was. His comment? “Some people are good at some things, and not others.” I thanked him for his well meant condescension and decided then and there that I would stick to what I know how to do well. Naps. Lunch. Dialing 911.