Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Carrel

Merry Christmas all. All told, it has been a good year. Personally, I count myself fortunate to be if anything, over-employed. It's been two weeks since I saw my house in daylight during the work week. While I had the misfortune to break my arm and lose 3 months work, I had the good fortune to find work as soon as I was able. Still paying off some of that "vacation", but at least I am able to do so.

Thanks to OT and the NFL, I was able to do some Christmas shopping yesterday, modest, I don't think my contribution will turn the economy around, but I did my part.

One gift I bought myself and my brother-in-law was a 12 volt air compressor/tire inflator. I was encouraged to choose this gift by my first "Scrooge Award" winner; Town and Country stores under the new Stripes management. A couple months ago I left work and quickly noticed I had a low tire. pulled into the handy T&C to discover they no longer had air hoses at the pumps. I had to pump 3 quarters into a box at the edge of the parking lot to get three minutes worth of air pump. Same problem last week, only now it is $1 for 4 minutes! Stripes, if you wonder why you see my smiling face in your check-out line less often, there it is. Not to mention, Bell north and Bryant south T&C are the closest Angelo offers to a truck stop and this quarter-sucker device is worthless to an 18 wheeler with 100PSI tires.

Comes to mind, I had one of the bar-owners affected by the smoking ban ask me about challenging that rule as an illegal "takings", or imposed reduction of property value. I told her that after extensive research, I had yet to find a smoke ban overturned by the courts. The courts have so far (correctly in my opinion) ruled that cities have wide latitude to do all sorts of silly, progressive, or just plain "out-of-the-box" things and see how they work.

May I suggest a new ordinance? Any business with more than three gas pumps must provide tire inflating air, free, at the pumps stations. Ya' know, just like a more friendly T&C used to.

Something else I found while shopping yesterday: Angelo has a good many mentally challenged drivers and another cadre of plain rude ones. I have driven on a CDL for a living for over 30 years with no accidents and one (60 in a 55) violation. I do this by defensive driving. I assume the "other guy" is going to do the stupidest thing possible, and I am too seldom disappointed. Parking lots scare me more than streets and highways. I am healthy, I've taken to parking WAY out at the edge and walking. Safe bet: I get in the store and out of the lot more quickly than the fellow who hunts for the close spot and then has to wait on traffic to get out. I'm halfway home before he gets out of the HEB lot.

Brings me to my second Scrooge Award. Even out at the edges, I must have seen a dozen new vehicles parked across 2-3 spots, presumably to prevent door dings on the precious new truck. Being filled with the spirit of Christmas (OK, also a healthy fear of security cameras) I resisted the urge to "key" these hogs. Folks, if it's too pretty to put into traffic, encase the thing in lucite in your yard and admire it twice a day. I remember a friend in NC, bought his first "new" car in 10 years. I watched him take a small ball peen hammer, wrap it in burlap, and gently rap the driver's door under the handle. SAY What!? says I. He told me "now I don't have to get mad, cry, or lose sleep over the first dingbat that opens their door into mine. Upon reflection, a sensible attitude. We allow civilian volunteers (or used to) after training to issue valid tickets for illegal parking in handicap spaces. I volunteer to ticket vehicles taking up two or more spaces, excepting trailers of course. That would be more fun than vandalism.

A third Scrooge Award, this one to any company, credit cards especially, which imposes penalties for late pay on weekends/holidays. I first came on this with a Bank of America Card payment. Due on a Sunday. I went to the local branch, put my over-minimum payment in the mitt of a BOA employee on Saturday. The rest of the week I work to make sure that check is good. Imagine my surprise when BOA assessed me a $35 late pay fee next month since I had not paid them by noon Friday (while I was busy earning the money to pay them). Ran into this again this week, a Chase bill due on Sunday the day after Christmas. No local branch, so I had someone deposit the money Thursday and used Chase's automated pay-by-phone to authorize an account draft Friday. This will cost me $15, just because they can.

Gov't agencies, even courts, even the IRS fadaluvagawd, set back due dates falling when they aren't open to the next business day. If it's good enough for the IRS, it should be good enough for the mega-banks thee and me spent a $Trillion or so bailing out. Where's our late fee, and it ought to be a hell of lot more than $35!

I do have a fourth Scrooge Award, but this one I hold for my next missive to the Standard-Times.

Shifting gears without a segue here, I tripped over another gift most of us can give; body donation. Grave robbing has gone out of fashion, but medical schools and legitimate research facilities desparately need our bodies when we have "shuffled off this mortal coil". I have arranged for Texas Tech to receive mine. Get past the ghoulish, it is a win/win. My poor estate will not be hit with a 5 figure burial cost. Tech pays for pick up, paperwork, even returns at least a symbolic portion of cremated remains of whatever is left. So long as they make sure I'm really, really dead first, it matters not a whit to me if the students get me before the worms do.

I understand some religions place value on interring the complete body, I would never try to talk someone into violating a religious principle. Otherwise, think on it in the spirit of Christmas. Death is a real part of our lives. My gift, or yours, might give the gift of a new doctor or medical advance to the next generations.


  1. I forgot to add in my third Scrooge Award another practise of the Card Companies. They encourage us to go with "paperless" online billing. They will sell it as convenient, as "green", less dead trees, recycling not needed. Screw dat! It costs a company about $2 to send a printed bill against about a dime to e-mail it.

    So meet us halfway already! Give the customer a buck a month credit, split the savings.

  2. To an optimist every change is a change for the better.I hope you have a wonderful New Year. May every day hold happy hours for you.

  3. Tiffany; What a lovely screen name, reminds me of the movie "Breakfast at Tiffanies".

    You have stated my reason for doing this more succintly than I have. We don't win them all, but I go with the principle, if you don't play in "their" house by their rules, you have surrendered.

    I am definitley on the "optimist" end of the rainbow.

    Hope you have a great New Year's day! Keep reading, I will have another scribe up today, soon as I am happy with the language.