Monday, September 22, 2014

Menu Item

So, I arrived at Applebee's hungry and perused the meno to find just the right meal to satisfy my appetite. There it was: 4-Cheese mac 'n cheese. Yummy. If there's one dish I absolutely love, it's a cheesey macaroni dish.

When my meal came, it looked off. The "cheese" part of the mac 'n cheese looked a lot like slightly orange milk. I dug my fork in and took a bite, and, sure enough, it didn't just look like slightly orange milk, but it tasted like it too. I picked up one of the chicken tenders and it was lukewarm and limp, rather than hot and crispy. No way was I going to eat the meal or pay for it, so I called the server over and told her I'd need a different meal.

Yep, my new order, fish 'n chips, arrived and it was fine. Not what I wanted, but an okay substitute. I asked the server how anyone could call what had been brought to me either "4 cheese" or "mac 'n cheese," and she cheerfully asked if my fish 'n chips were okay. Got the feeling the other topic was now off-limits, so I let it go.

It was nice for the server to respond to my request for a different meal with such positivity, but I'm still hungry for some 4-cheese mac 'n cheese. Guess I'll make my own.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

There but for the Grace of God Goeth I

Arians said,"I think anyone who touches a woman or child, in my opinion, needs to go to jail for a long time." I agree IF the person is charged with criminal actions, brought to trial, and found guilty by a jury trial of his/her peers.

I do not condone violence, but I have been out of control on occasion during my lifetime. I’m going to guess that most people have had at least one episode wherein s/he lost his/her cool and did something stupid, like throwing a punch at a peer or spanking a child too harshly. We’re human, and we sometimes react without thinking through the consequences of our actions. Sometimes, we cannot take back what we’ve done because we go too far in the heat of the moment, but more often than not, we can apologize and strive to be better in control if there ever is a next time.

The courts are capable of handling the assessment of guilt, as well as assigning punishment, for the times when things go too far. Slapping someone across the face is very different from punching someone in the face; the difference is in the moderation of the motive that results in the slap or the punch. Same with spanking with the hand and using a leather belt: one is meant to get the child’s attention and change the behavior, while the other is often meant to harshly punish a child. I probably would not object to a spanking that involved a couple of swats to the butt, but I would become violently against the use of a belt as I grew up in a house where the belt was used liberally.

But what we all have in common in this democracy is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If we follow the guidelines of the media, however, we are guilty, guilty, guilty on one person’s say-so, and the punishment is meted out before any trial takes place. Since when has the Commissioner of Football taken precedence over a court of law? Someone tells him something, maybe shows him some film evidence – and he decides to terminate an employee’s contract? Even if that’s the ultimate outcome, should there not be a fair process to arrive at that termination? We accept the word of one in some instances to determine guilt even though most juries have at least six and more often twelve of our peers to determine guilt and innocence.

Again, I do not condone violence, and the filmed evidence of a football player knocking his girlfriend out in an elevator seems pretty clear-cut, BUT we are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Perhaps the courts would terminate an employment contract if that were an option, but there are laws for meting out punishment. Sometimes, people are given a “one strike” break and serve probation and community service in the event of a single incident. Repeat offenders are treated more harshly and should be, which could lead to the termination of an employee’s contract. In professional sports, however, it’s one and done.

I just think that professional sports put the cart before the horse in recent weeks and needs to stand back, think through the entire cause/effect sequence, and be really sure about what is fair and just before determining guilt and assessing punishment, especially when that punishment does not just terminate today’s employment, but makes the player a pariah for whatever rest of his/her career was left.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A True Story

A week ago, I was in Palm Springs airport preparing to leave on my vacation. I breezed through the security check with “preferred” status and was on my way to the boarding gate for my flight when the sun hit on something in the landscaping alongside the sidewalk. Curious, I walked over and picked up the object that had caught the sun’s rays and saw that it was a memory card. I put it into my purse and didn’t give it another thought until I arrived in Canada and was looking for something in my purse.

I told my son/daughter-in-law the story of finding this memory card at the airport and asked if they could open it to see what was on it. They put the card into my son’s computer and dozens of family photos emerged. With all the pictures on the card, they were able to determine an address, but they also discovered the name of a woman on an award for service to an organization, after which a Google search led them to a city/state to go with the address. I was amazed at how easy it was to “find” the owner of the card, but the story does not end here.

Son looked up possible phone numbers for the name he discovered and decided to make phone calls to track her down, verify it was her card, and then return it to her. He made a couple of calls, left messages, and then we waited. Sure enough, Charlotte called and was delighted to learn that I had found her memory card; however, the story that goes with it is amazing. She was visiting Florida and either lost her camera or it was stolen from her. She’s never been in California, so she had no idea how the memory card ended up in the landscaping at Palm Springs Airport. She was delighted that we had the card and would return it to her because the photos on the card were special to her.

My son told Charlotte that he saw the photo of her award and recognition for service to an organization that helps people with liver disease, which my son has had for the past 20 years. After a conversation between them, Charlotte told my son that she would keep an ear open for any break-throughs in his type of liver disease, which is auto-immune chronic hepatitis.

When I left Canada this past weekend, the envelope containing the memory card went into the mail. I continue to marvel that I found the card and that my son and daughter-in-law were able to find the owner. That she had never been in California and had the camera taken from her in Florida astounded me. And, finally, what are the chances that she was recognized for her service to an organization that works with liver patients?

All in all, one of those weird, but true "6 degrees of separation" stories.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gentle Soul

Does "gentle soul" describe a very large man who steals from a merchant and then becomes physically assertive when the merchant confronts him with the theft?

Does "peaceful protest" describe unruly mobs of thugs and vandals who tear apart the business district of their hometown while allegedly seeking "justice" for the death of one of their members?

Does anyone really want "justice" based on evidence and facts, or do the non-white people of Ferguson want vengeance for what they perceive is a racially motivated hate crime?

Do all the non-black residents of Ferguson believe the officer involved shooting was justified?
Do all the non-white residents of Ferguson believe the officer involved shooting was unprovoked and a criminal act?

If I listen to the TV commentary, I hear polarization on the part of the residents of Ferguson that is sold by the commentators as truth. Seldom have I heard a commentator say let's not rush to judgment; let's wait and see what the facts are before we come to a conclusion. Instead, there is a constant clambor for being the first on-air with the latest street gossip, and the more polarizing the commentary, the better the station's ratings. And it's always all about ratings.

News requires the test of time, especially because we all tend to react emotionally at first, and seem to calm down and see events more rationally with the passing of time. In this day of the focus on the needs and wants of I, we no longer seem willing to take the time to allow a process to occur that clarifies and provides perspective. My mother's favorite saying was that we can't put an old head onto young shoulders; wisdom comes with age and living through life's experiences--the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The hot-headed youth have to take to the streets in violent protests that show who's in charge and who's going to tell the world the way things are going to be. It's challenging to tell the youth to slow down, calm down, sit down and think before you do something you'll later regret. And, truthfully, sometimes the senior citizens want to take too much time to think about situations and events that could benefit from moving a bit more quickly to resolution. Somewhere in between there is rational thinking, wisdom, and the truth, and once we have that, we can also have justice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sewers Suck

My water bills have been hovering in the mid-$30 range this year ($33.27; $39.37; $33.05; $20.61 $30.98; and $50.22), which is pretty much where they’ve been since I moved into the house in 2000. Yesterday, however, I opened the envelope to find a bill totaling $145.40. As the shock began to set in, I read the details and found that for this billing period, I’ve used excessive Tier 2 and Tier 3 services, which I have no idea what that means in water consumption. I also have a new charge, the sewer service, which is $35.00. Then there’s a $29.64 fee entitled “adjustments,” with no further explanation. The bottom line is that I’m paying $4.85 per day in water usage fees. Even on the days no one is in the house and no water is turned on.

I just returned from the water company where I received absolutely no satisfaction either for the total amount or for a better understanding of the “tier” system. I told her I know that’s water usage, but how much water usage isn’t specified. She told me if I use over my tier 1, the next tier is tier 2 – and you get the idea of her very patient, calm and quiet recitation of the tier system. I told her again that I understand it’s water usage, but what does a “typical” single resident residence use? I do 2 washers of clothes each week; don’t use the dishwasher unless I have company; only shower on alternate days due to a skin condition, and then the shower is maybe a total of 10 minutes if I have to also shampoo my hair. I removed all of my lawn and replaced plants with desert friendly landscaping – and I can’t think of what else to do to be compliant with all the water usage regulations we are all laboring under.
She assured me I must have a leak but, lucky me, I had the plumber here this morning and there is no evidence of a leak inside or out. She suggested that maybe the plumber missed a leak, but I told her that any leak that could result in $150 water bill for one month would be pretty hard to miss!

I requested that someone come read the water meter, but they don’t actually read the meters in this day and age. There’s a chip and they just drive by and click your chip. Well, then, I suggested that someone come click my chip again as I doubt I could use this much water unless I just opened a bathtub faucet and let it run for a while (like a week). She is going to put in the request for that chip click service to be performed.

As to the $29.64 adjustment? Oh, that’s the sewer fee retroactive because I was linked to the sewer system June 4, so owe for that entire month of service because it was not included with that billing cycle.

Wow. I’m so not going to like this program.