Customer service

Interesting detail
Interesting detail

I was driving around in an unfamiliar neighborhood in Lafayette the other day, and saw this house. The painting above the windows caught my attention, and I felt that I had to take a picture of it. It is unusual to see a painting on a house in this town.

***

I took Cindy’s car in for servicing today. I found the waiting experience…different from most places where I’m waiting for a mechanic to complete the work. Perhaps I should tell you what normally happens around here.

In most of the places where I have taken our cars to be worked on, there is a small area set aside for customers to sit on hard plastic chairs, drink warm coffee (or wish that you could because half of the time the pot is empty), read provided magazines that are at best six months old (much like a doctor’s waiting room), or watch Fox And Friends on a small TV in the corner. That didn’t happen today.

Today I took the car to the auto dealership, which shall remain nameless. The waiting area was spacious with, the chairs had cushioned seats, coffee and hot chocolate were available, there was a copy of this morning’s local newspaper, and the Today Show was on the big screen TV. Nice? Right? Of course, there was also a music system pumping out Christian Rock, and I found that a bit disconcerting. I wonder how our local Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, agnostic, or any other faith brethren feel about that. Perhaps the dealer doesn’t need, or want their trade. Perhaps they are more tolerant, and it doesn’t bother them. I just found it a bit odd.

Normally I wouldn’t have gone to any of the owners dealerships to get a car, but Cindy wanted that particular make and model. Please understand that Lafayette is a small town and only had one dealership of each auto brand. Anyway, we had done business with another of this owner’s dealerships a number of years ago, and I didn’t like it. When we were discussing financing the car with one of the employees, I felt that we were not getting a good deal. This employee had recently come down from Chicago to run the financing operation of the dealership. He gave the distinct impression that he would gladly break my leg if I was ever late with a payment. We opted instead to finance the car through our bank.

The owner has also been known to call a meeting of all of the sales force at 2 or 3 in the morning, chew them out, and fire the underachievers. Maybe he has found religion since then.

Having said all of that, my experience this morning was pleasant. And I’m man enough to say so.

There’s probably a twelve-step for this

Corn field update
Corn field update

The corn is still growing.

***

I am addicted to books. There I have said it. Books are not your run-of-the-mill addiction, however. Unlike tobacco, booze, other drugs, or sex; books are good for you…if you read them. I truly believe that you can learn something from the worst of books. If nothing else, you learn to never buy another book by that particular author. That’s a lesson that I have learned more than once.

Books do have drawbacks. They especially have drawbacks if you buy them rather than borrow them. And they have even bigger drawbacks if you find that you can’t part with them after reading them. Cue your spouse saying, “Another bookcase?” I’ve heard that one as well.

I have had this addiction all my life. I still have the first book that was given to me when I was a young child. I would still have the earliest comic books that I ever bought (well, that an adult bought for me) if my mother hadn’t thrown them away. It has only been recently that I have been able to give away a few  of my comic books to my grandson, Mason. Of course, they are now his comic books, to do with as he wishes, because I gave up possession in the act of giving.

I’ve also found that I am now able to part with books that I am sure that I will never read a second time. That thought was unthinkable a decade ago. I started letting go of some books when my mother sold her house and I had to move a room full of books out of the basement. About two-thirds of them went into her garage sale where they were either bought or given away. I believe my former sixth grade teacher took all of my paperbacks of Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, and other Burroughs characters. I hope that he treasured them.

I don’t buy just any book or books (I seldom buy just one at a time). Most of the books that I buy now are mysteries, or biographies, or fantasy, or history, or general fiction, or science for the non-scientist, or graphic novels, or books about politics, or books of early comic strips, or books about words, or science fiction. I don’t buy romance novels. I almost always buy books that are on sale; so much of what I read is not quite contemporary. That’s OK, because if it is good, it stays good.

Is this where I have to start apologizing to everyone whom I’ve hurt due to my addiction to books?

 

Ferns

Silo and barn
Silo and barn

When I first took this picture, the silo was in the center of the frame. That’s what I wanted. But when I uploaded to the computer and took a look at it, the picture was unbalanced. There was the silo in the center with the barn on the right. To the left was an empty yard with a couple of young trees. So I cropped the picture, and I like this much more than the original.

***

The first call came on Wednesday, or perhaps it was Tuesday. Mom was calling me to tell me that they (she, my sister who shall not be named, and my sister’s husband and daughter) would be leaving their home in southern Indiana, and driving back to their home in northern Indiana. She also wanted to give me an update on the number of fish that had been caught. Finally she got to the main reason for the call; did we want some ferns? I will admit that at some point I tuned out of the monologue and tried to lip read what the anchor was saying, so I missed the part about who was offering the ferns. I assumed that it was my sister. She grows lots of stuff.

I told my mom that I would ask Cindy, and would get back to her. I forgot to do that. When Cindy came home from work, more important things seem to fill our conversation. I forgot to ask.

Thursday rolled around and I assumed that I would get a call from Mom announcing their return to northern Indiana, and ohmygod! I had forgotten to ask Cindy! So I quickly sent her an email asking if she wanted some of my sister’s ferns. Amazingly, she quickly responded that she did. I had an answer for Mom, so I patiently waited for her call.

The second call came around 4:30 that afternoon. They were back in northern Indiana and did we want some of Maxine’s ferns? Oh yeah. Now I remembered that mom had said the ferns were from a friend of ours, a former neighbor, back in Rolling Prairie, not from my sister. That made more sense. I didn’t really picture my sister as a fern kind of person. I told Mom that Cindy did want some of the ferns.  Mom was pleased and asked what kind of ferns Cindy wanted. I said that I didn’t know. I didn’t say it, but I wondered how many kinds there were to choose from. I told Mom that I would ask Cindy when she got home, and would get back to her. Mom said she needed to know so they could get the right ferns when they went to pick them up.

The third call came Friday morning. “What kind of ferns does Cindy want? Some of them are very tall.” I said that we would leave the decision up to her and my sister. That was fine, oh, and Maxine was so glad that we wanted some of her ferns. She had asked a lot of people to take some off of her hands, but they had all said no.

The fourth call came on Friday afternoon. My sister wouldn’t drive Mom to Rolling Prairie to get the ferns, so I would have to drive there and get them. Mom was upset and called to tell me after my sister had gone shopping. She does that when she wants to talk about my sister. That was when I realized that Mom had wanted to go to Rolling Prairie to see Maxine, and then had wanted my sister to bring her to Lafayette to see us. She didn’t really care about the ferns.

Anyway, Mom then tried to give me driving directions to Maxine’s house. I told her that I just needed the address and would get the directions (Map Quest or GPS), but she insisted on telling me, “You remember that little road beside the nursery?”

I asked for Maxine’s telephone number so that I could set up a time to go to her home (and to get the address so I could get directions). Mom said, “It’s area code XXX and then XXXX.” I said that couldn’t be right because there were three numbers missing. She said, “Oh, right. It’s area code XXX and then XXXX. I think that’s all.” I asked her to have my sister call me when she got home.

The fifth call came around 5 p.m. It was my sister. I told her that I wanted Maxine’s telephone number because Mom didn’t remember all of the number. She gave it to me and said that all Mom had talked about for the past few days were those ferns. I commiserated, and I told her that I would call Maxine on Saturday to set up a time to drive up.

The sixth call came around 10:30 Saturday morning. I saw that it was from Mom, and I didn’t answer. I hadn’t called Maxine yet and I didn’t want Mom to try putting me on a guilt trip. Mom left a voice mail. “I hope you called Maxine. She was so happy that you wanted some of her ferns. I hope you don’t let her down. Etc., etc.”

I called Maxine to set a day to drive up. When I asked for her address she said,  “You remember that little road beside the nursery?”  Am I the only person over fifty years old who knows about using a GPS? But, she eventually gave me the address after giving me detailed verbal directions. I’ll be driving up next week.

I called Mom to tell her that I had talked to Maxine. I got her voicemail. My message said that I had called Maxine and that she would not be driven into the depths of despair. I can be sarcastic. I’m also pretty sure that Mom never listens to her voicemail.

The seventh call came Saturday afternoon. Mom started with, “I called you earlier, but you didn’t answer. Maybe you were asleep.”

My riposte was, “I called you earlier, but you didn’t answer. Maybe you were asleep.” She said then that she did know that I had called, but then she asked if I had called Maxine. I told her that I had, and that I would be going to Rolling Prairie after we had the car serviced. Mom ended our conversation with, “Well call me when you get back.” That means I’ll have to remember everything Maxine says while I’m there.

I’m not even fond of ferns.

Classical Gasbag – The Lost Posts 1

That's a long driveway
That’s a long driveway

If you enlarge this photo, you may be able to make out the house and barn setting back in the trees.  I’m glad that I don’t have to clear the snow from that driveway in the winter. It is likely that I would remain indoors and wait for the spring thaw.

***

Today’s post is made up of snippets of drafts I started, but never finished. This will give me the opportunity to clear out some things in my draft file that would, otherwise, never see the light of day.

First, I want to revisit a topic I first touched on around two years ago (Day 177, I believe). television commercials for catheters. I get the willies just thinking about catheters.

Recently there has been a commercial touting a “virtually pain-free catheter.” Since virtual is not the same as actual, that means that there is pain. I shudder/cringe every time a catheter commercial comes on TV; this commercial makes me laugh nervously.

The other day I saw an even newer commercial that offered the opportunity to send away for a sample pack of a variety of catheters. Boy, that’s just what I want to do! Yes sir, I’ll sample them…when pigs fly.

***

I heard a term on the news a little while back that I don’t recall hearing before, “The Japanese mainland.” That clanged on my ear because I know that Japan is composed of a group of islands. There is no mainland.

But just to check myself, I went to the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia, and looked up Mainland Japan, and found an entry. It seems that Mainland Japan was a term used fairly commonly before World War II. It referred to the main Japanese Islands. as opposed to Okinawa and Hokkaido. But, the term is seldom used anymore.

This leads me to suspect that the news copy was written by someone who thinks about the past more than I do. And that person thinks even further into the past than I do.

***

Finally I want to give you the recipe I devised for Pork fries rice. I was messing around in the kitchen one day, and I had a brain flash on making up my own recipe. I tried it, and Cindy liked the result. However, I’m not giving you the recipe because I forgot to write it down, and now it has escaped me. Sorry. It was good.

Another dream post

Another barn
Another barn

You can probably tell from the colors in this picture, that I took it while on my road trip. I was able to tweak this one back to a semblance of normalcy. It is better than the picture of the deer. I think that I’ll greyscale it to see how that looks.

***

Here is my strange dream (is there any other kind?) from last night/early morning:

I was watching a televised news show, and they were doing a segment on strange news stories. They were telling about an artist who had painted  a portrait or a landscape for each of forty-two friends or relatives. That was nice of him. The strange part was that he decided to deliver the paintings himself, taking them all at once…balanced on his head. They weren’t stacked horizontally, but were stacked on end so that they made a very tall stack indeed.

I had the good sense, even in the dream, to know that it had to be a hoax. Who helped him stack the paintings so precariously on his head? How could he have balanced them, especially if there had been any wind? There was also the question of how could a television network, or even a single station be taken in by such an obvious hoax? And why are there forty-two paintings? It didn’t make sense.

Of course I have no idea if the dream means anything. I told Cindy about the dream as I was getting my first cup of coffee this morning. I told her that I wondered if the forty-two paintings had any significance. She thought for only a moment and reminded me that I was forty-two years old when we got married. Well, that explains it all. The individual paintings, the balancing act, the…no, it doesn’t explain anything. I give her points, however, for coming up with a reason for the number in less than a minute.

If any of you can fabricate a meaning to the dream, please leave a comment so that we can all share it and marvel at your ingenuity.

One of my faults

Look at you look at me
Look at you look at me

I took this picture on my road trip last week. I thought I had corrected the problems with the settings on my camera, but obviously I hadn’t. I may return to the factory settings and then go about making changes in which I am confident.

***

When did I become a garrulous old man? The old part is easy; that’s just a function of staying alive. Garrulous? Me? Granted, I’m still pretty much a Silent Sam when speaking, but when I sit down to a keyboard, the words begin to cascade from my fingertips. By the way, did you know that I’m a two-fingered typist? I used to use two fingers and a thumb. And I could go on about that for a few more paragraphs, but who would that please other than myself?

It hasn’t always been this way. When I was in college my professors were always telling me to bulk up my papers. They didn’t feel that I went into the topic with the depth that they thought was due. Well, what do you expect from people who live in a “publish or perish” milieu? My feelings were “get in, make your case succinctly, get out.” I’m sure that the fact that I was using a manual typewriter, and that I am not the best typist (two fingers and a thumb, you know) who made many typos that needed either white out or correction paper, added to my brevity. For the young people reading this, a description of correction paper can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correction_paper Oh, the trials that we had to put up with.

When I worked in the administrative office for Workforce Development I had to write some of the most mind numbing prose you will ever come across. I did my best to keep things short and simple, but my supervisors felt that in order for the writing to be seen as important, you had to make the wording convoluted. That way, when people called in from the field with questions, the supervisor could sneeringly say something like, “Oh, you didn’t understand that?” Or if they didn’t know the answer, they would blame me and turn the call over to me. It was a wonderful job. That’s isn’t entirely fair. I had two very good bosses while there. One left by choice and I left the other one for a different job…am I being garrulous?

 

Road Trip!

1931 Cord
1931 Cord

I went on a road trip Thursday. I had been thinking about taking one for a while now. I finally decided tat Thursday would be the day. But where should I go? Wednesday night I narrowed it down to four possibilities. I could go southeast to Bloomington, where I had spent my early college years. I could go northeast to Auburn, where I had lived and worked for almost a decade. I might go north to Rolling Prairie, my home town. My final option was southwest to Clinton, where my grandmother had lived, and where we often visited when I was a child. Each would be fine, and there would be many chances to take pictures.

When I woke up Thursday I narrowed my choice to either Auburn or Rolling Prairie. I didn’t make p my mind until I had filled th car with gas and had to decide whether to turn right or left onto the street. I chose right and headed for Auburn.

Before I left Lafayette I also decided to go as fa as I could on county roads, or at worst, two-lane state highways. That would cut down the traffic snarls and offer more opportunities for scenic pictures. It was a good decision. Many f the roads led through woods and farm land. Often I would be driving on an empty road with fields of tall corn on each side of the road. At one point I was cruising down just such a road with the windows down (who needs air conditioning?) listening to Andrea Bocelli belting out…well, something in Italian, followed by The Eagles performing Hotel California. Then I passed into a wooded area and heard The Kingston Trio singing The Escape of Old John Webb on the sound system. I felt like I was escaping as well. The drive was idyllic…except when, for a short time, I was downwind of a pig farm.

I was having no trouble finding my way to Auburn. Well, then I did get cocky and ended up bypassing the town entirely. My first clue was when I drove into a town and didn’t recognize where I was; and it seemed that the library was in the wrong part of town. Once I realized that I was in the wrong town, I backtracked and approached Auburn from the north.

There have been a lot of changes in Auburn, including some of the streets. It took me five minutes to find my old apartment. But once I located that house, I was oriented to find everything else. I had an urge to visit the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Automobile Museum. http://www.automobilemuseum.org/ I took a number of photos at the museum, but nowhere near the entire collection that is on display. I’ve posted a number of the pictures in Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/hoosiertourist/sets/72157645345631688/ I hope you like them.