Clear as a Bell (A.G.)

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Preface: It is quite telling how the posting of these very words got delayed, substantially, by tech woes. Here’s the rub…

I live… no… strike that… I exist within a hard-to-believe-this-is-actually-America, tech dead zone; the Land of the Modem’s “light show”, which defiantly blinks red and videos chronically buffer; The Land of the Landline that’s frequently awash with static.

Obviously, red indicators rarely mean ready and raring to go and, clearly, crackling noises are not especially conducive to Clear as a Bell (as in Alexander Graham) conversations.

Factoring in my past drive thru my hometown, it didn’t take me long to troubleshoot…

Part of the Problem… to spot the non-perpendicular, rotting wooden utility poles, strung out with sagging wires. Even more YIKES-worthy, in one case, with nowhere to re-connect the cable, the overwhelmed line technician merely opted to coil it up; to hang it all up (literally and metaphorically); i.e. head back to punch out the time clock and then head off to happy hour to tie one on.

Even critters are too smart to risk life and limb with this infrastructure. Our feathered friends rarely roost / hang out there (be they buzzards, sparrows, or anything in between). As for our furry friends, no pooch would dare to lift his leg there!

Additional Part of the Problem… My alleged Internet Service Provider has a drastically different idea as to what terminology to loosely assign to their disingenuous I – S – P acronym. To e.g. that…

  • I = Inter Net (as in bury)
  • S = Service (only the CEO)
  • P = Promptly bilk / bill Patsies

Indeed, scant days ago, this Patsy promptly paid the monthly bill they had so promptly sent me; all in good faith; i.e., going on the (overly optimistic) assumption that their recent hefty rate hike would wind up prudently targeting their crumbling infrastructure.

In other words, not to further feather the nest of their CEO, who I’ve aptly dubbed Mister Magpie. And it’s a sure bet we’d never discover Mr. M perched atop any of his crummy cables.

Why Magpie?

As we know, magpie, as defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary, is “a person who chatters idly” and, as for chatter, that means “to talk rapidly or incessantly about trivial matters.”

Yep, all in all, that sums up, yet, one more…

Critical Part of the Problem… namely, we, the bill payer patsies, are dealing with communications specialist cons who can only clearly communicate, to us, concisely, how greedy they’ve been, still are, and shall remain forever.

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Be people Vaxxed OR Unvaxxed, We
can still shed and spread the batcrap
crazy contagious coronavirus which,
in turn, spawns new variants; which,
in turn, could, eventually, render the
available vaccines worthless; which,
in turn, will drag out the pandemic’s
needless suffering, illness and death!

HENCE… this easy as pie, cover your
nose and pie-hole/hole-up heads-up:

Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

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Advertisement

Eggs-istential Enigma (Part 1)

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This past Wednesday, I Ventured forth into the looming, zombie apocalypse for a much oVerdue grocery shopping “adVenture”. Like my waistline, my larder was thinning out, alarmingly so, and that’s ill-adVised, especially against the preVailing backdrop of massiVe ciVil unrest and societal upheaVal.

To keep it all real, who the hell eVen knows where one’s next meal might be coming from; e.g., [1] with Vicious, Venomous, Vacuous Vlad Violating Ukraine AND on the Verge of Vaporizing the entire planet Via the launch of his nukes, [2] Vexing Corona-V Variants Vehemently challenging the Vaccines and [3] aVaricious, maleVolent human/Viper hybird corporate VIPs deVastating the global supply chain (for fun and profit).

Hmm, waddaya think of my aboVe paragraphs’ “V” alliteration?

Anyway… all wordplay aside…

My primary shopping options were to EITHER frequent an in-town supermarket where the shameless CEO’s ongoing business model has been price gouging; predating, by multiple decades, our current sorry state of inflation OR head for an out of town, more reasonably priced store.

FYI, I’ve been limiting my trips to the latter to avoid the 89kph / 55mph highways; the far lower local speed limits saving wear and tear on my 23-year-old vehicle.

As expected, I wound up finding thinned / emptied shelves, storewide. Even so, I did manage to load up the grocery cart, so much so, that the checkout lane cashier’s total came to $282.

Well, something just wasn’t adding up. You see, with pen in hand, I’d been keeping a running tally while shopping, ergo, I suspected this amount to be an overcharge; in the neighborhood of $15.

However, factoring in how I hadn’t had enough sleep the previous night, this gave me reasonable doubt that I’d done all my math correctly. Additionally, seeing how too damned many customers / Karens have been needlessly stressing out our frontline retail workers, I opted to give her the benefit of the doubt; i.e., defer registering any on-the-spot gripe.

Ergo, once back within the confines of my own home, I unpacked the shopping bags and carefully organized my haul atop the dining room table, kitchen countertops and (re the perishables) within the refrigerator.

With the register receipt as my guide, my audit began. With pencil in hand, I began checking off all that appeared to be OK.

Conclusion: while my math had been spot on, what I hadn’t taken into account was getting charged for 98 items when, IN REALITY, I had only placed 93 on the conveyor.

BOTTOM LINE: The cashier had charged me for 5 cartons of eggs.

The Eggs-istential Enigma, here, is that I had not purchased even 1 carton; which begs the key question:

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How the hell did, not 1, but 5 NON-EXISTENT egg cartons’ bar codes get scanned?

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My being a 30-year retail veteran (now retired) sales clerk, cashier and manager, I’ve heard and seen just about everything, ergo, I do have several working theories (not all of them involving innocent, human error if you catch my drift).

However, prior to my going into any details (to be revealed within my planned Part 2 to this post), I’d like to, first, run this by you, my readers; discover what you may be reading into this Eggs-istential Enigma.

I mean, this all sounds so bizarre that when I report this incident… and I do intend to report this… to that store’s complaint department manager…

Will (s)he even believe me?

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

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Supersized US

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As far as food product marketing scams go, this one may sound innocuous, yet…

The practice of supersizing portions (“just” to speed up repeat business / fatten the corporate bottom line) can also (literally) fatten the consumer’s bottom line.

In addition to bigger servings leading to bigger butts (depending on the product), the accompanying, alarmingly unhealthy tonnage of sodium, sugars and saturated fats can lead to hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoarthritis, etc.

Let’s flesh this issue out… oh… say… by talking peanut butter (preferably the healthier variety that requires our stirring the separated peanut oil back in).

CAUTION: No discussion would be complete sans a warning of potentially debilitating and deadly Peanut Allergies. Best advice to first time, potential, goober eaters is to always exercise caution; i.e., seek advice from your primary care physician!

So, here’s where we’re at. We’ll start by factoring in the peanut butter industry-wide suggested excessive, serving size; as well as crunch the other sandwich ingredients’ numbers…

  • 190 calories [2 tbsp (32g) peanut butter]
  • 160 calories [2 slices of bread]
  • +50 calories [1 tbsp (20g) jelly or jam]
  • 400 calories [Grand Total]

400 calories for JUST 1 sandwich? Geesh, that’s 20% of the typical adult’s daily, 2,000 calorie intake; which can easily stymie our best intentions (New Year’s Resolutions?) to stick to a nutritionally well-balanced diet.

Additional Stats: Each jar of my favorite peanut butter brand promises 23 sandwiches, total, however, by my spreading it just a tad more sparingly, I’ve been able to net 8 additional sandwiches (31 total). This also drops the calorie count from 190 down to 141. Doing the math:

190 calories X 23 sandwiches = 4370 calories
4370 calories ÷ 31 sandwiches = 141 calories

  • 141 [PB]
  • 160 [Bread]
  • +50 [Jelly / Jam]
  • 351 [New Total]

This sandwich total can be further reduced by
buying lower calorie breads and fruit spreads;
or, even better yet, slicing up some fresh fruit.

Beyond That: These 8 extra sandwiches mean that, for every 3 jars of peanut butter (8 X 3 = 24), I’m netting 1 more sandwich than each jar’s peddled 23. Yep, that’s like getting 1 FREE PB JAR for every 3 purchased. Even better, I’m easily maintaining my old college day’s “fighting weight”; and, all the while not sacrificing one iota of PB&J sandwich flavor.

Beyond Beyond That: By not using up the PB so rapidly, this helps compensate for supply chain woes, which, way too frequently, render our supermarkets’ PB and J aisles barren.

Beyond Beyond Beyond That: Staying fit and trim just might, someday, save my life in yet another way. You see, this liberty loving, liberal can envision literally fleeing for my freedom; namely, outrunning fascistic freak Trump’s Inauguration Day 2025 “parade”; one overrun by his marauding QAnon zombies; menacing, MAGA maniacs; psycho Proud Boys; deployed goosestepping goons and rolled out tank commandos.

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

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“Mr. Watson, Come Here!”

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Two days ago, something in my life seemed amiss; i.e., how tranquil sheltering at home had become. It hadn’t taken long for me to pinpoint what was afoot, here, namely, the absence of daily, insufferable, nuisance calls; i.e. the robo deadpanned and live emoted telemarketing spiels, scams and threats.

I knew fully well that such callers hadn’t had some sorta overnight epiphany; i.e., come to the sudden realization that career-wise, the honorable high road doth beckon. Ergo, upon picking up my phone’s handset, I wasn’t shocked to discover the absence of dial tone. And, outage-wise, I’d been down that road countless times before.

A bit of background 411: My small corner of America can be best described as a tech dead zone, where phone lines and equipment are so archaic; have become so (literally) tumbledown, that both Alexander Ghaham Bell (b. March 3, 1847 / d. August 2, 1922) and his assistant, Mr. Watson may’ve been moonlighting as linemen during its original installation within my community (hence my headlined quotation).

Worse. yet, the telecommunications behemoth that I’m dealing with, hath a CEO / small “g” god, who obviously believes the word “upgrade” only applies to his personal paygrade, NOT to the actual infrastructure.

Consequently, his lackadaisical, tech refurbishment plan gets implemented one disconnected, disgruntled customer at a time.

More to the point: My combined land line / Internet service has been… well, let’s just say that service THIS IS NOT!

Anyway, within five minutes of powering up my cell, I found myself talking to a repair department god, a fellow named Jesus, no less (the son of god / CEO?). Upon his ascertaining my complaint legit, he issued a repair ticket and scheduled a lineperson for the very next day.

The only good thing about this entire mess was how remote troubleshooting capabilies had clearly established my outage to be the handiwork of an outdoor gremlin; ergo, it’d not be necessary for me to hang out at home (even tho I did).

Matt, the repair guy, showed up around half past ten, yesterday. Obviously, neither of us were taking any chances (Covid-19-wise). We were both masked up and, whenever we needed to discuss matters, my closed, virtually airtight, windowpaned outer door further isolated us at all times.

Long story ALMOST OVER, within the hour, he had successfully restored my service.

And I do say ALMOST OVER because the very first nuisance call I received, in the early p.m.… cue the drum roll / rimshot please… was on behalf of the Republican Party. The caller asked for me by name and after the perfunctory “pleasantries”, things took a decided swerve to the far, Far, FAR HARDCORE RIGHT. Yep, that sycophantic propagandist / history revisionist began effusively rehashing Donald J. Trump’s tenure as prez and then asked if I concurred?

Agreed to what? Her psychotic fantasies? Her delusions?

Not about to ever mince my words. I spot-on called out Donny using terminology such as insurrectionist and un-American. Now here are the real kickers.

Even after fully acknowledging both of my duly derogatory characterizations; her actually saying, “I understand”, she still had the gall to hit me up for a substantial financial contribution to the Republican Party; mind you, to the Republican Party absolutely owned and operated by fascistic Trump!

All of which begs the following questions:

In her book, is being an insurrectionist and un-American an asset? Something to be proud about? Had she misconstrued my words as being complimentary?

BTW, quite emphatically and repetitively, I had talked over her pre-programmed begging routine to inform her that I’d not be donating even one penny.

My gawd, these Republican freaks are billionaires, who could amply fund their party, by easily extracting the oodles of “lost” loot from between their collective sofa’s cushions. Yet, they’ve got the audacity to hold out their tin cup to this barely existing on a fixed income man?

Have they no shame?

It was while demanding that she add my phone number to the GOP’s Do Not Call List, that she hung up on me. So, it’s tough to say whether or not there’ll be any more nuisance calls from these insurrectionists and un-Americans at some point down the road.

Methinks I’d have been far better off, yesterday, had lineman Matt been a no-show.

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

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BlogCast: Tom’s Top 20 Countdown “2” Christmas: Song 14

 

Have you ever felt that Christmas has become over-commercialized? Well… if it makes anyone feel any better… you are not alone… so do I. So does today’s featured recording artist… the 89-year-young, American musician, singer-songwriter, satirist and mathematician… Tom Lehrer.

Were you and I to ever have the good fortune to meet up with this musician / wordsmith… oh… say at some impromptu holiday gathering… I know I’d try to gently coax him out of retirement… get him to… once more… for old time’s sake… pull out the ol’ piano bench to regale us with today’s BlogCast featured song… Lehrer’s original, spot-on, musical composition… A Christmas Carol.

Of course… considering how that above partay scenario exists only in my fantasyland… to hear Tom playing the 88’s and singing his heart out, we’ll simply need to click onto that YouTube vid’s playback button.

My owning both vinyl and CD copies of two of Lehrer’s 1960s era albums, I am well acquainted with his wit and wisdom. So, I can fully attest to the fact that this particular track will totally meld with one’s yearnings to reconnect to the true meaning of Christmas. Or, to put that into more secular terminology… to reconnect to respect and love for humankind.

There’s little doubt in my mind that there are multiple billions of kindhearted, non-Christians and agnostics… spanning all across our globe… who feel that respect and love.

To demonstrate how… with the passage of time… Lehrer’s music has become a cultural crossover phenomenon, I’m also including a cover of this same track, performed by David Quah, a man who totally digs where Mr. Lehrer’s head is at… a man who has learned all his mentor has taught him… and learned it well. Don’t miss Quah’s impressive rendition.

Just for the record… I’m not channeling Charles Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge. I’d never bleat out, “Bah! Humbug!” towards families and friends who are exchanging Christmas presents. However…

What life has taught me is that long after the festive wrapping paper, fancy bows and gift boxes have been stuffed into the recycling bin… long after the gifts, themselves, are forgotten… oh… say… the clothing which has faded / frayed / become unfashionable and high tech gizmos / gadgets which have malfunctioned / melted down / become obsolete… it’ll be our cherished memories of all who are near and dear to us… the family reunions and holiday parties we attended in days of yore… which will endure… perhaps through eternity.

More to the point…

The best present anyone could ever present to anyone near and dear to them, would be to say, with sincerity, “I love you” and to express those three magic words not just during the holidays but all year round.

On a more personal note…

I wish all of my readers, followers, and BlogCast listeners

Happy Holidays / Merry Christmas!

 

I’d also like to express my gratitude to all who are spending their precious time listening to my “Top 20 Countdown “2” Christmas”… a musical mix featuring a blend of spiritual content, social commentary, secular…and yes… even some humorous elements. My plan is to get as many of us into the holiday spirit as is possible. Towards that future, I’ll continue presenting my selections… classics all… counting ‘em down one-a-day… from now until we reach #1 on the 25th.

So… be sure to stop back here again… if not daily… schedule your return visits as often as your time permits.

 

I’d also like to invite you to click back for my regular monthly BlogCast… one that typically features anywhere from 3 to 5 segued songs… this program slated to hit the www “airwaves” on Sunday, December 24, 2017.

 

FYI, my past musical presentations are archived within my BlogCast and music categories.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, don’t forget to like, follow, share and comment.

 

 

There’s Still So Much More of Our Work to be Done

 

Once again, it’s Labor Day in America… a “holiday” which:

  1. Ushers in the unofficial end of summer.
  2. Reminds students it’s time to return to their classrooms.
  3. Supposedly honors all industrious workers who’ve ever opted in to the once upon a time, time honored, time for money trade-off.

Well, I suppose, two out of three ain’t bad. To elaborate…

Oh, what an inequitable trade off item #3 usually involves.

Oh, what an utterly meaningless holiday this has become. How so?

Well, workers (who can still think for themselves) have become painfully aware of how, typically, their big bosses wallow in their own astronomical, wildly disproportional salaries and perks… how management feels no obligation to pay a living wage, provide job security and offer a comprehensive benefits package (inclusive of health insurance, paid sick / vacation days and pension plans). In some cases, these big shots even shirk their responsibility of providing a hazard-free work environment.

Without a doubt, such woes are closely related to that bloodsucker, who fronts the present-day DC régime (a foul, fetid, festering government / corporate mash-up). Throughout his pathetic, parasitic career, he has, personally, screwed over labor… e.g., stiffed them on paydays, outsourced their jobs and engaged in union busting.

Yet, hypocritically, he feigns outrage over his very own deplorable business tactics… has successfully suckered in his low information, gullible supporters into bogusly believing he’s the “good guy” who will fight to prevent immigrants from “stealing” their jobs.

To emphasize here, he does ALL OF THAT in spite of the fact that immigrants are NOT actually displacing all that many American workers.

You see, what he has failed to mention is how these jobs oft involve FIELDS most Americans would find unappealing. In fact, these jobs LITERALLY CAN INVOLVE FIELDS… the harvesting of fruit and vegetable crops (oft under horrific working conditions). Similar workplace hellholes shackle slave labor to sweatshop sewing machines. Either way, workers toil overtime and work their fingers to the bone while beastly taskmasters (literally?) crack the whip.

SO folks, unless you view these as attractive career opportunities, don’t ever blame immigrants for your having a tough time finding a new job. We should not be envious OF them… we should feel sorrow FOR them. If our society’s priorities weren’t so totally F’d up, instead of ICE agents rounding up and deporting immigrants, federal agents would be driving the reprehensible, slave driver bosses out of America.

I’m sure many of my international readers would concur that my abovementioned woes are hardly unique to America.

I’m sure we, the readers of John Steinbeck’s literary masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath, would agree his plot presages the horrific, present-day dismal working conditions, crappy wages, workplace violence and societal upheaval.

So what’s a working stiff to do, huh?

Well, the problem solving must begin with a truly enlightened president / world leader, who would NEVER embrace wretched, low road tactics such as fanning the flames of racism. To get totally real here… most joblessness is actually caused by corporate greed, union busting, outsourcing, automation and workers’ lack of training / marketable skills.

No learned leader would ever fight to preserve the abysmal status quo of today’s undereducated and unskilled workforce. Allocating tax dollars to pay unemployed workers, of course, would be still be a necessity BUT how much better life would eventually get were he to also funnel additional funds into programs designed to educate and train his out of work compatriots. Education also must be ongoing… i.e., keep up with each and every new technological advance. In other words, our education does not end until the day each of us dies. For all we know, it doesn’t end even then.

Folks, I saw, first hand, how President Lyndon B. Johnson’s progressively minded government functioned. For four summers (spanning 1963 – 66) my own father, a public school teacher, had applied for and received a generous U.S. government stipend to attend college classes and wound up earning his Masters Degree in Chemistry. Bettering himself resulted in his earning a substantially bigger paycheck… of course, not before teachers had also won the rights to organize labor unions… to collectively bargain for a living wage, benefits and smaller class sizes… to go on strike whenever necessary.

Folks, a strong, healthy, happy, unionized productive workforce plays a major role in making America… indeed, every other nation… great!

This Labor Day… and for as many future Labor Days as it may take… we must remind ourselves that there’s still so much more of our work to be done… and that begins with educating / changing attitudes of governments, management and labor.

Meaningful work, which fully enriches our lives, cannot be ours until governments… not only in America but worldwide… cease and desist from devastating workers’ pay and rights.

Labor Day must, once again, become a true holiday… one, where the powers-that-be wholeheartedly honor each and every trainable person in possession of a strong work ethic… ensure every one of them a living wage, comprehensive benefits package, job security and a hazard free workplace.