Anybody Home?

This story begins at the checkout line at Home Depot.

“Sir, you can save twenty-five dollars on this if I can sign you up for a Home Depot credit card.”

“I already have one ma’am. I just don’t have it with me.”

“Not a problem, I’ll fill out the form for another one. Won’t take but a minute or two.”

Two credit cards from the same store? This seems odd to me, but hey, twenty-five bucks! That’s like a small fortune to a telephone company retiree.

I go home and brag to the Missus on what a shrewd shopper I am, wondering if I can save another twenty-five in the near future. Two credit cards? How about three or four or ten?

Time passes, maybe a month or two. I get a phone call. Caller ID shows the letters CITI on the screen. As is my custom, I ignore it. Two hours later, same call. What the hell, I’m not doing anything. I pick up. A recording.

“This is CITI bank representing Home Depot.. If this is WARREN, say yes.” Hmm, okay, YES.

“What is your zip code?”

Wait a minute. If they already know my name and phone number, wouldn’t they also know my zip code?  Scam alert bells ring. “Goodbye recording.” Click.

I open the morning mail. Got a statement from Home Depot. First thing I see is a twenty-five-dollar charge for missing a payment. WHAT? Like a lot folks, I do my bill pay electronically through the bank. I get on the computer, call up my transactions, and there it is. I made their stupid payment in full and on time. I can’t dial their office fast enough.

The lady is very nice. I give her my account number at the top of the page. After a long pause, “Do you have two accounts with us?”

“Two? No, but I do have two credit ca….” Oh, shit.

For a brief moment, the fog lifted. Where once was darkness, a golden shaft of light appears. Long dormant brain cells stir. Whassup?

The charge for card number two was on a second account. I made the payment for credit card two on account number one. This does not work well. After more conversation, it’s decided to cancel one of the accounts. The lady begins to fill out the form. “What is the reason for discontinuing the account?”

“Lady, after this fiasco, I would think that would be obvious.”

More questions followed, but eventually I was left with one account and all was well.

“Uh, before I hang up, I should mention that Citi Bank has been calling me. Something to do with Home Depot. Would you know anything about that?”

“Sir, this is Citi Bank.

The golden shaft of light winks out. The fog returns.

 

 

 

 

 

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Published in: on October 5, 2017 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kayla the Chat Lady

Kayla works for Maytag. That’s the name that popped up when I clicked on the Chat button on the Maytag web site. I needed help and I needed it like now. As you may recall, my experiences with Chat People have a checkered past. Maybe Kayla would change all that.

The story begins when I’m staggering to the coffee pot to get the day kickstarted when I catch a whiff of…what the hell is that? Urine? Smells like urine. That’s urine. Oh, God, no. Don’t tell me the cats are doing that again. RUTH! THESE DAMN CATS HAVE GOT TO GO!

Jumping to their defense, the Missus does a quick inspection all the while muttering something about innocent until proven guilty. She finds no puddles or stains on the wall.

I continue the sniff test, nose in the air like a bird dog on a lost covey of quail, making ever narrowing circles within the kitchen. I home in on the fridge. Ah, something spoiled perhaps. Admittedly, there have been times when I’ve discovered new life forms taking root in the far, dark corners of the vegetable bin. Maybe this was another one, some unknown algae that happens to smell like pee.

But no, other than a questionable gallon of milk slightly over the use-by date, all was ordinary refrigerator smell…until I close the door and hear the internal fan come on and OMG. I catch a face full of litter box, or something similar.

Got to be something dead back there. Rabbit? Not unknown. Pulled one from my daughter’s fridge once. I move the appliance from the wall and see…a mouse. Not a dead mouse mind you, not some stinking carcass. No, this one was alive and apparently in great health. But before I could find a weapon to dispatch it, the rodent was gone, skittering off to parts unknown. Do you think just one of the cats was on hand to earn its keep, to snatch that mouse and chomp its neck, and show a little appreciation for the free years of room and board? No, of course not. Not a cat in sight.

I remove the rear panel from the fridge and find a mouse house equivalent to Trump Towers. Insulated bedroom, a nightstand full of dry cat food, and a bathroom down the hall. The bathroom being located directly in front of a fan to cool the little bastard as well as blow away the smell.

ARRGGGHHH! Nothing to do but break out the cleaning supplies and get after it. An hour later, it’s as good as it’s gonna get. A lingering odor, very slight, but one I suspect will fade with time. Providing I can convince the mouse to find new digs.

Having removed the AC plug for safety’s sake, I plug ‘er back in and…nothing. Compressor does not fire up. Whaaaattt? A quick diagnosis. I have interior lights, but little else. The LEDs out front are all dark, every last one, unless I push any button and then they ALL light up. This is not good. The Missus keeps enough food in that fridge to feed half the population of Sand Springs for two weeks.

It’s one-hundred and one degrees outside. Only slight cooler in the house. How long can a fridge full of food last? I feel the panic setting in. I find the user manual, no help of course: Make sure your unit is plugged in, yadda, yadda, yadda. There is an 800 number, but no digit to push for help. The recording offers to schedule an appointment for a repairman, but little else. Last resort for a quick fix lies with the Maytag web site and lucky me, there’s a Chat Button. Kayla signs on. The exact conversation follows:

Kayla: I hate to hear you are encountering an issue with the refrigerator. I would be happy to look into this for you. Is the appliance operating at all.

Remaining calm, I explain the problem in the simplest terms possible.

Kayla: Have you disconnected the power to the unit to try and reset the product?

Warren: Yes, I have unplugged it twice. I checked all the wiring in the back and all seem to be secure. It was unplugged all the time the cleaning was taking place

Kayla: I understand, how long was the appliance unplugged?

Warren: probably an hour, maybe a little more.

Kayla: How long has the appliance been back on?

Warren: Fifteen, thirty minutes.

Kayla: After a disconnection to appliance (it) can take some time to start back up.

After taking some time to consider her solution, I type:

Warren: Okay. Not real confident that’s the problem.

Kayla: If you have the model number of the appliance I can provide you with a Parts list.

Having strong reservations that I could identify the faulty part, order it and install it, all before two-thousand dollars’ worth of food turns green, I respectfully decline the offer.

Hello Maytag Repairman. “I can be out there tomorrow.” Sign me up.

I pop the top on a PBR and think about it. It makes no sense. The appliance was working fine. All I did was clean the mouse poop out of it. All wiring was in place, no plugs unplugged, no hidden safety switches.

I hear a call from the Missus. “I think it’s working.”

What was that Kayla had said? Something about taking some time to start back up? But forty-five minutes? Apparently so. Two hours later, I’m still golden.

Kayla, darlin’. I think I love ya.

 

Published in: on July 26, 2017 at 3:28 pm  Comments (2)  

Little Help Here

Is it just me, or are all the customer support sites pretty much useless? Maybe it’s because I speak English, or maybe it’s my Okie accent, but for some reason I am unable to communicate with these people. Okay, I’m hearing impaired, there’s that. It’s the primary reason I use the phone only as a last resort. If I’m lucky and catch a deep-voiced male from Texas who says things like, “I can hep you with that, partner”, I’m home free. What I usually get is a whispering female with a voice so high she can talk to birds and lives in New Delhi.

Sometimes, you get a support site where a little window pops up that says chat. I love that. Instant answers to your questions. Well, maybe not instant. There’s the wait time after you click the chat button, but if you hang in there, words will appear, something akin to “Thank you for contacting us. My name is Paul. How can I help you today?”

Now we all know his name isn’t really Paul. More likely it’s Aniruddha or Mahatma, but Paul makes us Okies more comfortable so we go with it. I had reason to chat with Paul recently. Paul represented a company that made security surveillance cameras. Due to an uptick of crime in the vicinity, I thought it prudent to add another layer of home protection with the ever-vigilant, always watching, video cams.

I wanted something simple, set it and forget it. I settled on a system that claimed to be just that. And it was…almost. I plugged it in, the cameras synced up, the picture was clear. All I needed to do was set the recording schedules.

There are two types of recording, the manual explained, continuous recording and motion recording. I set up the continuous recording for the following night and all went well. Lots of video, no intruders. So then I’m thinking, I don’t really want ten or more hours of video every night, what I need is to record only when motion is detected and then only in the dark of night. I didn’t need a video of the Missus every time she circles the house looking for her cats. (This happens waaay more often than you might think…unless you know the Missus.)

However, the manual was quite vague on how to set up a scheduled motion recording. Plainly, it could be done as it was explained in the instructions that motion recording will show up as a yellow line on the weekly calendar screen. I had no yellow line. Enter Mahatma, I mean Paul, into the picture.

I type my problem in the chat box as clearly and concisely as I can.

Paul replies: One moment while I find a solution to your question.

The moment was more like five minutes, but there it was; a link to a You Tube video titled, Step by Step Instructions on Motion Recording.

I give my thanks to Paul and call up the video. I watch it once, I watch it again. Am I missing something? The video is nothing more than a power point presentation of a page in the user manual titled…wait for it…Motion Recording.

I go to plan B, look up the Support email address, and once again outline my problem.

Thank you for your question. We will get back to you in one business day.

Three days later, I get this reply: Please click on the link for a video on Step by Step Instructions on Motion Recording. In addition, here’s a link to the page in the Manual for further help. Feel free to contact us again if this does not answer your question.

DAMN RIGHT I’M CONTACTING YOU AGAIN! DID YOU PEOPLE EVEN READ MY QUESTION BEYOUND THE FIRST COUPLE WORDS?

I decided this called for a spooker. Poured myself about two fingers and swirled it around a few ice cubes, waiting for the amber glow and the blood pressure to drop before once again composing my message…in detail, lots of detail with underlining, all caps, bold letters, and enough repetition to cause the eyes to glaze.

The next day:

Dear William, (They didn’t even get my name right.)

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The manual is in error and is being rewritten. This system does not have motion record scheduling. You can, however, press a button to turn that feature on and off manually.

The Support Group

 

Drive a man to drink.

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on July 18, 2017 at 3:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Green for Yellow

It was about sixteen years ago, when I first laid eyes on the lawn of my new house that I realized the days of the push mower were over, same for self-propelled. It was an acre lot, not all lawn, but enough to make this old man realize that it was too much for my aging body to handle without some form of riding mower.

Being the miserly person I am, I opted for the cheapest one I could find. The Sear’s Craftsman, their introductory model, fit my budget. Whoa! Mowing was almost fun…until the motor blew up. Piston came through the block.

Not known as a fast learner, I bought another Craftsman. It served me well for several years, but then I began to notice more and more smoke from the exhaust. Time for a new one. An uncle once told me that his move to a John Deere lawn tractor was the smartest thing he’d done in a while. John Deere, trustworthy, reliable, a brand you can rely on. Until you can’t.

First year, no problem. Great machine. Second year. Hmm, seems to be losing a little power. Third year, the sorry piece of shit couldn’t even make it up my slope. Go ahead, say it. “How much weight did you gain by year three?” No comment.

Back to the Internet for reviews and specs. I was more than shocked to learn what many folks were saying; John Deere was not the quality machine it used to be. Allegedly, they had cheapened their parts to compete with other brands, mostly at the big box stores. I found another brand that looked promising. It had a 46” cut, twin cylinder engine, and 22 horsepower, way more than enough to haul my fat ass up the hill. It was a Cub Cadet. I hated the name. A cub is what, something small, right, like a little animal? A cadet, in my definition, is one who is learning, not yet having mastered the course. A cadet in a military school for example.

Name bias aside, I went for it. A few days later, a big flatbed with a forklift arrives and unloads the yellow beast. First order of business was to try the hill. Hah! Climbed it with ease. So much power, I could almost burn rubber, pop a wheelie at the least. Mowed once. Mowed twice. But at the end of mow number two, I stopped by the hose for a little rinse off before returning to the garage. Wiped off the seat, climbed aboard…would not start. Had lights, had LED’s on the dash, but wouldn’t fire a lick, not so much as a thunk. WHAT?

I double check the conditions. No water under the hood. Blades disengaged. Brake on. Seat switch activated. Yep. No joy. I call the Cub Cadet service center. I talk to not one, not two, but four service specialists. Many suggestions, no solutions. Call Home Depot for a replacement they say. (Thankfully it was still under the 30-day warranty.” That’s when the fun started.

After listening to a phone menu of at least seventeen options, I get a live one. “Bring it back to the store,” she says.

“But lady, I don’t have a trailer. I had it delivered.”

“You’ll have to talk to the manager.”

The wait music with Home Depot has to be the worst ever; garbled, cracking, skips. It was painful to listen to. Finally:

“Yes Sir, We can swap that out for you. But you’ll have to come down to the store to do the paperwork.”

Aggravating, but not entirely unreasonable I suppose. I make the 15-mile trip. On the way in, I make note that there are three more identical Cub Cadets on display. The service department works me between a couple dozen phone calls. Total time standing at the counter? An hour, minimum. A manager appears to sign off on the transaction. ‘

“Thank you for your patience. I can get your replacement mower to you tomorrow. Will you be home?” Oh, most def. Bring it.

The sun rose on Friday. The sun set on Friday. No mower. I call.

“I’m sorry, Sir. I wasn’t able to get you on the schedule. Monday, for sure.”

The Monday happy hour arrives. No mower. No phone call. I check to see if I still have dial tone. I call the manager.

“We had to go to another store to find your model.”

“But you had three of them on Thursday.”

“Yes, but those were sold. The guys will be there between five and seven.”

The Missus overhears. “Bet you ten bucks, that doesn’t happen.”

“No, no. They’ll be here.”

I lost ten bucks.

At 8:45, I get a call. Can’t find your address. “Where are you?” I ask. He was less than a hundred yards away from my front door.

There were some tense moments as the guys lined up two skinny ramps with the mower wheels and shoved the new machine off the end of their small truck, no forklift this time. That was the easy part. Shoving my inoperative mower up those ramps had both men grunting.

It had been a long and aggravating day. The only good part? My happy hour lasted six hours.

 

 

 

Published in: on June 6, 2017 at 11:17 am  Comments (1)  

Father’s Day

Father’s Day is coming up soon. These thoughts came to mind.

If I remember correctly, the temps were in the seventies with a gentle breeze blowing off the water. Mark and I were sitting in a couple of plastic chairs outside a motel room on the shores of Lake Texoma. We had a fishing guide lined up for the next day, all set to do some damage to the striper population. It was one of those father/son bonding moments, at least that’s the way I saw it. Mark worked on a beer while I sipped my usual spooker, both of us enjoying the moment.

At some point, the conversation turned to fatherhood when Mark asked, “What was your dad like?” I had to stop and think about that. My eventual answer was, “I’m not sure. I never really knew him.”

I have my memories of course. One of the first was on the farm. I was probably around five or six. I got caught outside during a horrific thunderstorm, and was too scared to make a run for the house. I had taken shelter in the old barn and was completely safe, but the crack of lighting and bone-jarring thunder had me quivering in fear. Then, through the pouring rain, my dad appeared. He took off his jacket, threw it over me, picked me up, and carried me to the warmth and light of our modest home where my anxious mother waited. All without a word.

As a farmer, my dad worked from sun to sun–sunup to sundown–in the fields, corn and wheat mostly. If the ground was wet, his days were spent on the never-ending upkeep of the farm buildings and machinery, not to mention the livestock; cattle, hogs, chickens, and two horses. When there was no longer enough light to work, dad would come in, eat supper, maybe listen to the radio for an hour or so…and go to bed. If there was conversation in the house on any subject, I don’t remember it. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, both mom and dad were probably too tired for idle chit-chat. A new workday on the farm was coming, and in a few short hours.

Soon after my twelfth birthday, the folks gave up on farming and bought a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Horton, Kansas, population 20,000 or so. Mom cooked. Dad waited tables. Again, it was a time of long days and short nights. It got worse. When the restaurant sputtered financially, my dad took a night job as a policeman. I seldom saw my father during those times. But it was no big deal, right? I was a teenager now, totally self-absorbed in my own little world. Father/son talks? Who needs ‘em?

My dad stayed with it until a new opportunity arose, a job as a mechanic and gas station attendant working nights at a Gulf station in Tulsa, Oklahoma. By now, I’m in high school. I have a car, a girl friend, lots of buddies, and hated staying at home any longer than I had to with my old fogey parents. I remember tearing low gear out of my 49 Ford while acting the idiot, and limped it down to where my dad was working. He listened to my sad story and said, “Put it on the rack.” That was it. End of discussion.

I finished high school, joined the Navy, got stationed in Texas. Got married in Kansas City. My father didn’t attend the wedding. I don’t remember why. But he did make the long drive to Beeville upon the arrival of his first grandchild. Dad was beaming from ear to ear as he held that baby. It was, I think, one of his proudest moments.

It wasn’t long after that when I was called off the flight line for a phone call. My mother-in-law broke the news. “Your dad died of a massive heart attack.” He was 58 years old.

With the help of a friend, my wife and I made the 870-mile trip for the funeral. There was a lot to think about during that drive. Why hadn’t I made more time to be with my father? I could have passed the evenings with him at the Gulf station. But no. I had friends to see and hell to raise. Why didn’t we go on fishing or hunting trips together? Or camping? Or just go to a ball game once in a while?

Why hadn’t I simply called and asked, “How you doin’ Dad?”

I vividly remember standing over the coffin, tears running down my face, and looking at the man I wish I’d known better. Too late. I loved you, Dad.

 

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon

Little boy blue and the man in the moon

“When you coming home, dad?” “I don’t know when But we’ll get together then

You know we’ll have a good time then” 

by Harry Chapin

 

 

Published in: on June 3, 2017 at 11:15 am  Comments (1)  

Location. Location. Location.

There are many things to consider when choosing a lot to build a new home. Access to water, gas and electric, distance to the nearest grocery, as well as fire and police protection. But maybe most importantly, how close are the nearest neighbors? For my home, I studied the layout of the new development for days before making my choice. I didn’t want a corner lot, too much traffic. Nor did I want to locate on a through street, same reason.

The final decision came to this: I would have an open field out back, to the east. The house across the street, to the west, would have to be built on the far side due to a creek in front of the property. As to the north side, while there was no active creek, there was a ravine that showed plenty of use from heavy rains. Who would want to build there?

That left the south side to consider. I chose to put my house as far away from that lot as possible and with a natural growth of woods between us, my privacy would be the best it could be while living in a neighborhood. Or so I thought. That was then. This is now.

The ravine on the north was no problem for the new buyer. He simply bought two lots and built on high ground. His house makes mine look like it belongs in a trailer park. He then erects a wooden and wrought iron fence around both his two acres complete with a radio-controlled entrance gate. But he didn’t stop there. Come sundown, his entire estate lights up like the prison yard at the McAlester state pen. I counted sixteen flood lights and probably missed a few. Obviously, this man has ties to the mafia.

My neighbor to the south is a man of few words. He told me his name was Thomas, not Tom, but Thomas. He was out of work at that time, formerly employed by Haliburton and we all know about Haliburton don’t we…hmmmm? His very first task after moving in was to break out the chain saw and fell every tree on his side of the property line thereby reducing the privacy factor by half. He then moves in not one, but two work sheds. Several times a day, I hear the whine of saws, drills, and the bang-bang-bang of hammers, shattering the once peaceful and blessed silence. Pretty sure he’s in the loading pallet business where construction never ends. I began to think of him as Thomas the Train. He never stops. Just keeps on chugging. Oh, did I mention that Thomas now has chickens? And dogs? Four dogs, one of which barks at the moon…all night.

My neighbor across the street seemed okay at first. For starters, he was a beer drinker, enjoyed his suds. Not excessively, no loud parties, no fights, no police cars, just one of your normal good old boy Okies with a little American Indian mixed in. We got along. Chatted at the mail box. Shared stories.

Then came that phone call from his wife that changed everything. Seems the man had come upon a new-born kitten while out on a job somewhere. Would we see after it until he got off work? Now, as most of you know, my wife is a sucker for cats, especially a kitten in dire straits. The neighbors were well aware of this weakness and jumped on it. He shows up with a bundle of fur wrapped in a towel, eyes not yet open, and meowing her little ass off. He has the formula, the eye-dropper feeder, a box, the whole nine yards.

Let me pause here to remind you that my wife already has three bird-killing, hairball spewing, food upchucking, furniture destroying, ferocious freaking felines. Three! Did not want four. So, when Mr. Neighbor to the west fails to show up that evening to collect his new pet, tensions rose. No, that’s not correct. Not tensions plural, my tension rose. Come ten o’clock with no word from across the street, the kitten was personally hand-carried to his doorstep and, much to his surprise and disappointment, placed in the man’s hands. Welcome to my world, jerk.

Relations went downhill from there. We don’t speak. We don’t wave. And that was okay with me. But then spring arrived with warmer temps. People came out of their houses. Doors and windows were opened. Cars were washed in the driveway. Gardens were planted–that sort of thing. That’s when Rush Limbaugh came into the picture.

Full disclosure: I am not a fan of Rush. His daily wide-eyed, eye-bulging, spittle-spewing, radio rants leave me shaking my head. I truly believe that if Jesus were to show up on planet earth as a Democrat, Rush would lead the charge to have him crucified.

Mr. Neighbor to the west, on the other hand, adores Rush. I know this because I can hear the broadcast from literally, a hundred yards away. So can the rest of the neighborhood. Every day at air time, weather permitting, Mr. Neighbor turns his radio to the max, lays back on his lawn chair, and works on his tan. Tan? Yes, tan. Did I mention the man is part Indian? His skin is already darker than a Mexican roofer.

Which brings us to yesterday’s scene. My garage doors are open. I need the light to see what the hell I’m doing as I change the oil in my old John Deere lawn tractor when I hear the dreaded theme for the opening of the Rush Limbaugh show. But today, I have a little surprise of my own. I too own a radio, you see. I counter Rush with a full volume blast of Tammy Wynette, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash.

I hear that train a comin’, comin’ round the bend.

I follow up with the John Deere as I test run the engine, checking for any oil leaks. I tested it for oh, about an hour.

At that point, I shut everything down and listened. Wind blew through the trees, bird’s chirped, once again… the sound of silence. Insert smiley face here.

 

 

Published in: on May 6, 2017 at 9:59 am  Comments (1)  

The SSA in the USA

Here it comes again! Tax time. The dreaded deadline approaches. I started my return yesterday (March 10) to have a little wiggle room if there were problems. Turns out, it was a good move.

I’m lining up the 1099 forms when I notice that I have no such statement from the Social Security Administration. The pittance that I receive from those folks barely covers my bar bill so it’s understandable how they might overlook me. But wanting to take no chance of suffering the wrath of the IRS, I had to come up with something.

I start with the Internet and the SSA web site. Lucky me. Right there in plain sight is the info I need. Seemed easy enough; just sign up as a user and the 1099 I needed would be available for downloading. NOT!

The first section went well–name, SS number, address, etc., but then I get this:

We see you took out a home mortgage in 2016. What was the name of your lender?

Whaaaaaaat? I did no such thing.

(A convenient list was provided with a none-of-the-above box. I checked it.)

Which bank did you use? Another list. None-of-the-above.

Three more insane questions. Three more lists. Three more none-of-the-above’s.

I click NEXT.

We’re sorry but your answers do not match up with our records. You can try again in 24 hours. Goodbye.”

Sweet Baby Jesus. I don’t deserve this.

I take a deep breath to calm my nerves, mixed a spooker* for courage, and dialed the phone number for the SSA.

A recording of course. I listed to the options, chose one I thought might be it, and followed the prompts…or tried to.

“Please say your first name, then spell it. For example, if your first name is Paul, say Paul and then say the letters P A U L.” Obviously this SSA recording was aimed at the language skills of the average six-year-old. Surely I could handle it. Again…NOT.

Warren. W A R R E N.

“Thank you. Now say and spell your last name. For example…

Hey you jerk. I don’t need another example. If I was smart enough to manage with my first name, don’t you think I could repeat it using my last name with some degree of confidence?

But didn’t say that of course, instead, I dutifully swallowed my pride and played along.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t get that. Please repeat.” I closed my eyes, took a long sip from the spooker, and complied.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t get that. Please say your name and then spell it. For Example, if your name is Paul…”

“Okay, one more time you moron and this time pay attention.” I enunciated my name and letters with all the clarity and diction that an Okie can possibly muster, speaking in the slow deep resonant tones of a professional radio broadcaster. W I L L….

Then…silence. Dead air. No, I’m sorry, nothing. “Hellooo, Mr. Recording. Are you with me?”

No reply, not even a dial tone. I hung up. Mixed another spooker.

One more shot at it. I call the local SSA office. Got the menu, pushed the number for a live person, watched out the window long enough for the dandelions grow another inch, when…”How may I help you?”

I went through my sad tale, including the bit about me taking out a false mortgage and locking me out. The guy laughs, “Yeah, that recording does that a lot.”

Please, God, give me strength.

Next the guy runs me through an interrogation worthy of men wearing black hoods and wielding hot branding irons.

What is your mother’s full maiden name? What is your Father’s full name? What city were you born? Residence, zip code, bank of deposit for that pittance you receive?

I aced the test. The guy promises to send me a 1099 in the mail. “It’ll be a few days.”

“Dude, you’re looking at it right? Can’t you just tell me the benefits amount in Box 5 and I can finish my taxes without fear of penalty and SWAT teams running around in my yard?”

“I’m sorry. I can’t do that.”

Keep in mind this guy knows every detail of my life since birth; first date, when I lost my virginity, the names of the cats, including what I had for breakfast, and he can’t divulge the dollar amount on a stupid 1099 that his agency produced?

Cleary, it was time for another run to the liquor store.

 

*Spooker: An alcoholic beverage of any kind, usually a shot of whisky with a splash of branch water.

 

Published in: on March 11, 2017 at 11:20 am  Comments (2)  

Dark Thirty?

I admit it. I screwed up. Write it off to senility, dementia, or simply old age, I didn’t pay the electric bill. Can’t blame it on the Post Office. I got it and remember it well. The Amount Due sent me into arterial fibrillation. Blood pressure jumped. Might have peed a little too. I am all electric and when the temps plummet, the bill skyrockets. Following a friend’s suggestion, I keep a log chain around the meter just to hold it in place.

Wasn’t aware of the problem until I receive another bill, this one with an attachment.

OVER DUE. SERVICE WILL BE DISCONNECTED ON THE DATE SHOWN.

Failure to pay will result in a $50 reconnect.

Whaaaat??

I check my on-line banking record. Uh oh. Somehow I failed to pay, probably because I forgot to click the Send Payment block. Details, details.

Not a problem, I think. I’ll just call the electric company, give them a credit card number, and the lights stay on. The cats remain warm and toasty. The TV glows. The fridge pumps out ice for my spookers. All is well. Except it wasn’t.

Instead of the electric people handling it, I was directed to a third party with this cheery message. “You will be charged $3.50 for a convenience fee. Do you wish to proceed?”

Convenient? Convenient for whom?

Option #1: Proceed. Give these pirates the $3.50 and get it over with or…

Option #2: Gamble that the on-line banking will process the payment before the house goes dark in the middle of winter and they have to pry my cold, dead fingers from the keyboard.

I sucked it up and went with #1.

Got to thinking on it. Maybe they have an auto-pay, a method to bypass that senile old fart in the middle, and keep this embarrassing little incident from happening again. I go to the electric co. website. I don’t find an auto-pay, but I do find a page where I can pay directly through their site. Uh, do you think they might have told me that before pushing me off to the scam artists and save my $3.50 “convenience” fee? NOOOO!

Are we looking at a little kick-back scheme here?

Ordered a new book. “How to Live Off the Grid.” Hopefully it gets here before my computer goes dark.

 

 

 

Published in: on February 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm  Comments (1)  

Please no, not my battery!

I’m watching an episode of the TV series, This is Us, when I notice that one of the female characters looks a lot like “Lily” on the ATT commercials. My Kindle Fire is at my fingertips and I decide to search it using Cast of This is Us. Several sites pop up and I pick one at random. Then it happened. I’ve seen something similar on the computer but never on a Kindle. The message read (and I’m paraphrasing here):

Warning! Your Kindle Fire Model XXX has been infected with four (4) viruses. These viruses will corrupt your device as well as destroy your battery. Click here for help. Warning! Leave this page at your own risk!

My battery? Oh, please God, not my battery. You can ravage the books, the games, any  app you want, but leave my battery alone. Wait a minute. How can a virus ruin a battery? Drain it dead? Hey, I do that all the time.

I took several deep breaths, got my courage up, tossed down a double  spooker for good measure, and…left the page.

The next morning, I find a smoldering pile of ruin in the middle of my coffee table.

Nah, just messing with ya. It’s working fine.

Hate those hackers.

Published in: on January 13, 2017 at 10:38 am  Comments (1)  

JonBenet Ramsey: My theory.

Twenty-years after the horrible death of JonBenet Ramsey, the TV networks have been busy with new shows and new theories as to the killer. I’ve had a morbid fascination with this murder since the beginning. The facts of the case made no sense. The parents (or 8 year-old-brother) seemed to me to be the most unlikely of perpetrators. Here’s my theory.

The killer was a pedophile and a kidnapper. He knew, or knew of, John and Patsy Ramsey and the family. Since police records show a number of pedophiles in the vicinity, it’s quite possible one was close enough to observe the comings and goings of the Ramsey’s or knew of their plans beforehand.

On that fateful Christmas day, he watched as the family left the house to attend a party. He enters the house via the removable grate and broken window leading to the basement. This was proven possible by a detective, later brought into the vase, as he videoed himself entering the house. Boulder police stated there was no evidence of this, no footprints in the snow, therefore the killer was a family member. But later video shows there to be no snow on that side of the house.

After the killer gains entry, he makes his way through the rest of house, making sure the home is empty. He finds JonBenet’s room assuring himself that he can find it again in the dark. He comes across Patsy’s writing materials and composes the ransom note. The note is one of the biggest puzzles of the case. Why so long? And why the mention of how he admired John? Where did the odd amount of $118,000 come from, the exact amount of a bonus John had received several months ago? Police argued that no kidnapper would take the amount of time necessary to write such a note? I say, why not? He had time. The Ramsey’s weren’t due back for hours. What else was there to do? The guy might have fancied himself as an intellectual and used the note to show off his intelligence. Who knows how those people think?

Handwriting experts disagreed that the note was written by Patsy.

The guy returns to the basement to wait for the family to come home. Once the family is down for the night, the guy returns to the little girl’s room and disable’s her with a stun gun. The autopsy reveals two dots on her neck that were not there in a photo taken on the previous day. Again, experts differ on the source of the dots, but the stun gun fits my theory.

Half-conscious, the girl is carried back to the basement with little resistance. However, as the guy makes for the window exit, JonBenet wakes up and starts yelling? Fighting? The guy has to shut her up. He strikes her skull with a blunt object. (I don’t think the blunt object was ever found.) With his victim still moaning, the killer takes it to another level and chokes her with the rope, the garrote. The autopsy shows her heart was still beating at this point giving merit as to the sequence of the events. If you look at the knot, it suggests someone with a certain amount of expertise in knot tying. Would any of the Ramsey’s been able to tie such a knot under such unimaginable stress?

With JonBenet dead, kidnapping is no longer an option. The guy, now in full panic mode, pops out the window and flees.

The family? No way. John was accused of having some sort of sick sexual fetish with his daughter. But why kill her? And in such a brutal fashion? After watching several interviews with John, I can’t see it.

Patsy? One theory was that Patsy went into a rage when she discovered JonBenet had wet the bed. No. It’s one thing to lash out in sudden anger, but plot such an elaborate cover up complete with a ransom note and a garrote as a murder weapon? To watch her daughter die in such a grotesque fashion? No way. I think that little girl was Patsy’s life. Patsy didn’t do it.

Then the police tried to pin it on the older brother. Again, watching the interviews, the boy stayed with his story, not in the least evasive with his answers, and was totally believable.

I believe the Boulder police and the DA’s office worked from the statistic that shows whenever a child is murdered in the home, nine out of ten times, a family member is the guilty party. Unfortunately, the Ramsey’s actions, lawyering up and going back to Atlanta so soon after the killing, did little to allay their suspicions. By now, the Ramsey’s were locked in the sights of the legal authorities, and as is so often the case, the DA’s office seldom admits to being wrong.

The latest TV show on the killing introduced a new technique called Touch DNA, the ability to sample DNA from clothing from the mere touch of the fabric, a science not available at the time. Tests using JonBenet’s pajamas and panties revealed DNA that did not match anyone in the family. The theory that the DNA came from somewhere in the manufacturing process is remotely possible, but highly unlikely.

If there is any hope of finding the killer, Touch DNA may be the last chance. I feel it will never be solved, the killer dead and buried. I hope he didn’t die peacefully.

 

 

 

Published in: on December 26, 2016 at 11:31 am  Comments (2)