Texas

I away and in South Texas. In other words, I am running on the beach, playing in the waves, and eating way too much.

I hope things are well with you. We can compare tans when I return...

Bug TV

At around 11 pm, just about every night, I let the dogs out back for their final potty break.

Our two juvenile brother cats know this, and when they hear movement around the back door, they will come running--jumping around the dining room to get a high vantage point.

I turn on the outside light, pull open and then close the sliding glass door, two dogs prance into the backyard, and the show begins.

Welcome to Bug TV.

Attracted by the illumination and prevalent in the non-urban area that I live, warm weather bugs flock toward the light.

Moths swirl around the glass.

Smaller unidentified bugs hover around the bulb.

Usually a June bug will join the show--clumsily bouncing off the window, light, or anything else nearby.

The cats are mesmerized by the array of activity.

Occasionally, a cat overcome with emotion will lunge at June bug or moth.

Fur flying through the air.

The results are comedic and expected: "hunter" cat bounces off the door frame or glass and then makes a thud just inside the door.

Bug TV is certainly not a "paws" on experience for our indoor-only felines, but at least there is never a rerun.

I'll just say that the kids are not the only ones around here who enjoy summer.

Seldom Disappointed

In life, I have seldom been disappointed by a sunrise walk at the ocean.

Beach walkway, Corolla, NC 2015

Happy Monday all!

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Notes: The Mrs. snapped the above photo (older son is the visible one), and it took us a moment to realize that the green dot in the right corner of the picture was a reflector attached to the wood and not an image defect. 

I Thought this Was Dead

The police department's rickety door squeaked as it was opened.

I then heard panting; someone out of breath.

A mom entered.

Her face was flush.

Sunlight from two large windows caused the droplets of perspiration on mom's brows to glisten.

College-age daughter, head down, walked in second.

Mom glared at her daughter. "What an insane place! I can't believe this!"

Flustered and obviously on the verge of a meltdown, mom stood in line behind me at a service counter.

Since my business with the college police that day was not time-sensitive, I told mom to go ahead of me.

She did not hesitate.

Mom leaned into window of the bullet-proof glass, and immediately vocalized to a young clerk how horrible things had been for her thus far.

Specifically:
  • They could not immediately find a parking place.

  • The available spots were way too far away from the police department.

  • She asked: "Why are all of these hills on campus?"

  • She questioned the wisdom of scheduling "all of this construction on campus right now."

  • Finally, mom lamented that now they were going to be late in meeting with a professor, and that she had no idea how to get to the assigned building.

But what impressed me was the young clerk.

The employee calmly listened, and empathized with mom. "Yes, the construction has made things challenging, and it sounds like you have overcome plenty of obstacles this morning."

With useful conversation and a professional demeanor, the clerk helped normal blood flow to return to mom's face.

She relaxed.

The discussion continued, but when mom's words began to tangent to complaints, the clerk skillfully redirected her--soliciting the vehicle information and other specifics needed for the temporary parking pass.

The young employee then provided mom with explicit directions to the building where the meeting was scheduled, and where she should park for the shortest walk.

Spent but calmer, mom thanked the clerk, and she and daughter hurriedly exited through the same ramshackle door.

Their police visit took less than 7 minutes.

Good customer service is not exactly plentiful these days.

But I always marvel when I see it.

The clerk could have met mom's behavior with equivalent anger and rudeness. She could have snickered, blew mom off, or simply frowned about some of mom's less than rational complaints.

But she didn't.

She expertly diffused what could have been a volatile situation.

Unfortunately in life, the folks at the top--CEOs, managers, vice-presidents, etc.--get lots of recognition when an organization is successful.

But what about the entry-level employees? The clerks? The troops on the ground? The ones who make that organization what it is?

Do they get applauded for good work?

Not often enough.

Well, this time someone will.

I have a letter to write: to unidentified supervisor regarding the actions provided by an unidentified police clerk.

Good customer service is not dead.

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Story Note: Unfortunately for those that visit college campuses in the summer, they are typically one giant construction zone. Here in the Northeast, summer means fewer students in the way and no snow storms to delay new construction or street repairs. As such, every dorm, road, and building project is in full swing. Just another July at an institution of higher learning.

A New Approach to Extreme Couponing

To my Canadian friends: Happy belated Canada Day.

To my American friends: Happy 4th of July.

To all my readers and friends: if it seems to good to be true, well it probably is.

Even if we are talking about product coupons, as illustrated by this story from North Carolina:
(ABERDEEN) ...police arrested an Ellerbe man and woman after they allegedly used counterfeit coupons to obtain items from Walmart.

Sandra Webb Yaklin, 54, and James Vernon Rainwater, 52...were arrested on June 18. Police charged each with one count of felony fraud-obtaining money or property by false pretense.

"They were buying a little bit of something and then using coupons for a free item," said Aberdeen Deputy Chief Carl Colasacco. Colasacco said an alert clerk at the store suspected something was "strange" about the coupons and called a manager. And then the police were called.

Aberdeen police confiscated more than 870 coupons and recovered numerous grocery items, including laundry detergent, bacon, chips and gatorade. The items were valued at more than $150.

The accused told police they bought the coupons online, Colasacco said.

"I have seen a lot of counterfeit money," Colasacco said, "But I have never seen somebody counterfeit coupons"...

Does this mean that some of the appealing offers I see on the wonderful "InterWeb" are scams?

Hmm, I better be more careful.

If you need me, I'll be inspecting the coupon drawer here at the house. No telling what we have in there.

Back from the Beach and Guest Post

While I was away from blogging a few months ago, I did appear as a guest writer over at RainDog Blue's place.

It was his blogiversary; seven years!

If you ever want to read what American policing is like, RainDog is one of the best at providing a front row seat.

You can read my post over there entitled Free-Range Kids, by clicking here.

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Note: I have been back from the beach for a few days and somehow am the only person in the family to contract a stomach bug. Stay far away from me! 

Men Communicating

The following occurred a few weeks ago...
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The other day I was in the men's room at work. I was just about to use a urinal, when I noticed someone had not flushed the previous time.

Or maybe two... or three... or TEN times before.

As I was about to flush so that I could relieve myself in peace minus the stale funk, I heard a student talking on his phone in one of the stalls behind me.

I try to be cognizant of my surroundings, and it is difficult to ignore someone's phone conversation when they are that close, so I was forced to listen.

Well, the student was speaking with someone about a job, volunteer work, an internship, or something related, as he had a courteous and professional sound to his voice. He was also setting-up a meeting, as they were discussing driving directions.

I paused before depressing the flusher on the urinal and debated: "Do I want to be rude and disturb this young man's important conversation?"

That was met with the selfish thought: "Wow, this pee odor could peel paint and sure needs to be flushed!"

I decided to hold off on flushing.

Take one for the "man" team.  

I inhaled like a pearl diver before submerging into a clear ocean, as far from the source of the stink of course, and took care of my business.

As I was just about to walk from the urinal, the student in the stall was exchanging additional information with the other person on the phone and then I heard...

FOOOWOOOSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Yes, the sound of an industrial strength commode rattled the men's room. The student had flushed his toilet, but did not miss a beat and continued talking on the phone.

I laughed to myself.

I exhaled what was left of my vital air supply, and flushed my urinal twice for good measure.

So much for my attempt at being courteous, right?

What is the old saying?  "No good deed goes unpunished."

On Hope Solo or Hope Stevens

Last June, police in Kirkland, Washington arrested US soccer star Hope Solo (Hope Stevens is her married name) and charged her with two counts of domestic violence.

Ms. Solo adamantly denies that she was ever the aggressor and tells reporters that she was the actual victim in the incident.

The charges were later dismissed by a judge on "procedural grounds," but the prosecutor filed an appeal, hoping to continue the case. Oral arguments on the appeal are expected this September--which will allow Solo to play during the World Cup that started this weekend.

What exactly happened the night that Solo and family members became involved in a confrontation?

That is unclear.

It is interesting to read the official report that was released by law enforcement.

It describes Solo on the morning of arrest as a combative, belligerent, and intoxicated individual as she was processed by local authorities. Displaying these behaviors not with one or two officers, but with the handful of law enforcement personnel that she encountered at different locations while in custody.

Question for you Ms. Solo:

Do you really expect me to believe that you were NOT combative, belligerent, and intoxicated during the June family altercation when you displayed the combative, belligerent, and intoxicated behaviors to law enforcement shortly after the arrest?

This seems like just a continuation of her actions.

Combine this with the previous domestic incident involving her current husband (former NFL player Jerramy Stevens) on the day before their marriage, along with her "almost arrest" for disorderly conduct in January when that same husband was being investigated for DUI, and I do not have a positive impression of the US team's soccer goalie.

The description of Solo at all of the incidents seems to be consistent: combative, belligerent, and intoxicated.

It is sad that her sport's status could allow her to impact so many young fans in a positive way, yet she is consistently in the news for the wrong reasons.

I hope that she receives the help that she evidently needs.

But until then, I doubt that Hope Solo's encounters with the criminal justice system will cease.

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You can review ESPN's story on Solo by clicking here or read the police report on her actions at the booking facilities by going here