Friday, May 30, 2008

More on the Patch Perfect saga...

In a world full of customer no-service, it's refreshing when someone actually wants to solve your problem. I often tell my own students that people will make mistakes we're not infallible, but it's how the mistake is rectified that makes the difference.

The guys at Patch Perfect Grass Seed has a google alert set up so they immediately found my blog not long after I posted recently about dad's situation with their mail order customer service folks.

I received an email from Andrew Tobias, one of the founders of Patch Perfect and he was very kind and gracious and offered to rectify the problem. He's been in touch with me and my dad and has not only made sure that Fosdick credits my dad's account but he's sending him complimentary seed. I emailed Andrew back and told him I really appreciated his concern and getting involved. He did explain that sometimes even big companies screw up. I understand that completely, mistakes happen, it's how they are handled that makes the difference as to whether or not you go back. Andrew handled the problem the right way, the complimentary seed was a nice touch but not necessary--dad wasn't out for that, but he is going to accept it. He just wanted someone to solve his problem for him. Andrew Tobias stepped forward and offered to do that. We appreciate his concern and so because he was so kind and generous I wanted to be sure to let my readers know that. It's only fair---

Will keep ya posted.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Beware of this company!

Thumbs down to the Fosdick Fulfillment Corporation who handles the mail order fulfillment and customer service for Patch Perfect Grass Seed, among many other products.

Monday night, dad went online to order some "Patch Perfect Grass Seed" as advertised on television. It was advertised at a cost of $27.50 with the option to order double for the same price which dad took as a buy one get one free. He figured if he ordered three he would receive six. When he completed entering his order, the total number of items that came up were three with only one free. Their site states that the buy one get one free is actually a "double" bag to save on containers but it may not have been clear. The first problem was that no total $$ ever showed up on the order. Dad immediately called the company to find out the total $$ and they told him it was $80.00. He didn't want $80 worth, only $19.95. Well dad told them he wanted to cancel the order (remember he had just placed it minutes earlier). The operator "Brittany" told him that she could not cancel the order, that it takes 72 hours because the order isn't in the system yet.

He calls them again Tuesday and again they tell him it hasn't been placed in the system yet, but to call back Wednesday. He calls back Wednesday because when he checked his checking account (used a debit card!) they had already taken the $80 out of his account. He called them immediately and asked for a supervisor. The girl on the phone told him that the supervisors were busy, she refused to let him talk to one. Dad told them he wanted his money back and to cancel the shipment and the girl told him that she couldn't stop the shipment because it was already at the warehouse. She said that his money would be refunded by 5 pm Wednesday night and that he would have to refuse the shipment when it arrived (the shipment of course that hasn't been shipped and she can't cancel and avoid having to refuse in the first place).

Today dad checks and still he has no refund. He calls and talks to Brittany and she tells him that he has to wait 2-3 days for his money., of course it didn't take them long to deduct the money from his account for the order that never shipped. In the meantime, his order hasn't shipped yet, she still insists they can't cancel the order that hasn't been shipped, and she still won't let him talk to a supervisor. He and I were talking about it today and I decided to call them. Not because I don't think dad did a thorough job trying to solve the problem, but because I love giving shit to customer no service assholes.

So I call the company and ask Brittany, who answers the phone, if I can speak with a supervisor. She tells me that first she must solve the problem for me. I tell her that if the problem had been solved already I wouldn't need a supervisor. I talk to her about dad's order and she tells me that she can't go over to the warehouse and cancel the order. I said "you mean to tell me you have NO method of tracking orders in your system?" I ask "what kind of company can't communicate with their warehouse and cancel an order before it ships?" She said she had told my dad that she would refund the cost of the item minus shipping and handling "in good faith" and that once he receives the item he needs to write "Refused" on it and "Return to Sender" and when they receive it back (weeks later no doubt because it's being sent via USPS), then he'll get his refund on the shipping and handling.

Now, why should he even have to go through that? The order still hasn't shipped yet, why are they going to go through the time and labor of shipping the damn thing if he doesn't even want it in the first place?

Well, when dad called back this evening, they wouldn't let him talk to anyone and told him he needed to fax a copy of his bank statement to prove they'd deducted the amount. He blacked out all the important stuff and proceeded to fax it to a number that didn't function.

I've got the consumer complaint form from the Connecticut Attorney General's website and believe you me, a complaint will be filed. This is not how you run a business, this is not how you treat customers!!!

If you have had problems with your order, contact:

Fosdick Fullfillment Corporation
William J. Pappas, President & CEO
26 Barnes Industrial Road North
Wallingford, CT 06492
800-759-5558 (general sales)
203-269-0211 (headquarters)
Fax: 203-679-3290

George Fanolis, Vice President for New Business Development, 203-679-3228

Kelly Gannon, Managing Director - 203-679-3243

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The way businesses should not be run...

There's a department here at UF which consists of dozen or so employees, of which two are supervisors-one is the head boss and the othe ris a low level supervisor in charge of six of the employees. Low level supervisor (I'll call him LLS) is buddies with two of the guys he supervises and it is no secret he shows preference to them. Interestingly enough, the two buddies of LLS have their own office, constructed a couple of years ago courtesy of the Florida taxpayers. It was said this office was necessary. What do they two golden boys do in this office all day? They sit on their asses and play games on the computer.

Today, LLS sends out an email directly TO one of his two buddies thanking him for his hard work and effort in something he did recently and that his efforts will make inventory much easier this year. Not only did he send this email directly to this one buddy of his, but he cc'd the head boss AND the four guys he doesn't like!

I read it and I was like "holy shit, what a slap in the face to the four guys who actually do most of the work there!"

So this guy got off his ass for once and did something for once--big deal! The four non-buddies work every day and never have they received an email from LLS thanking them for their hard work. Of course it doesn't surprise me. This kind of behavior is prevalent at this place where half of the people who are supervisors shouldn't even be EMPLOYED there.

What a way to say "f*ck you" to the guys who really do the work. Man, I read that and I just couldn't believe he had the nerve to do that.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Must be my lucky day...

I found out I earned 104 out of a possible 108 points on my first math test of the semester. I missed one 4-point question BUT earned an additional 5 points putting my final test grade at 109! So far I've got an average of 102.3 in the class LOL. I feel so smart ! :)

I've also got an "A" in my Ancient Civ course this term. I also earned 100% on both the resume of a historical figure and the web research assignment. For that course, one of the assignments was to choose a historical figure of the time period we're studying and write a detailed resume in first person. I chose Sir Thomas More. I've been interested in his life since watching the late Paul Scofield's portrayal of him in "A Man For All Seasons" an excellent film from about 1966. I already knew quite a bit about him but writing the resume really brought out things I didn't know. I was able to elaborate on his qualifications and skills, it was a lot of fun. The second assignment was a web research assignment on a specific person or event of the time we're studying. We had to choose four topics and of those the professor assigned one. My chosen four were Joan of Arc, Martin Luther, Charlemagne, and Galileo Galilei. The professor assigned me Galileo and it was very interesting. I wrote a paper on the man and his work back in high school over 20 years ago and since that time remembered quite a bit about him. When I did this recent project, I did not google Galileo and pick the first ten links and summarize them. No, I researched reputable links with solid contents and in the end I wound up with nearly a dozen very interesting and informative websites at major universities, museums, libraries, and historical organizations and associations. In the end, I learned more about Galileo than I thought possible and I uncovered some more very useful sites for historical research. All in all, both assignments were fun, a great learning experience and very useful!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wondering the problem in public schools?

Read this story!

If this had been my kid I would have made it my mission to see that Wendy Portillo of Morningside Elementary School in St. Lucie Florida was fired.

Kindergarten is the place where a child begins making the transition from home to formal education. Children learn basic skills through social interaction, they learn reading, writing, and a little arithmetic. They draw, color, paint, and play. These children learn to assimilate into a community which is the classroom and in which they will spend the next 11 years or more if they go to college. Oh sure the learning process begins at home but it really takes shape formally in kindergarten. These children are only five years old, they are very young and very impressionable and what happens there can affect them for years to come.

Which is why it is so important to have the right teachers guiding these young children. And that is apparently NOT the case at Morningside Elementary School in Port St. Lucie Florida where a teacher named Wendy Portillo decided to have the class vote on whether or not five-year-old Alex Barton could stay in their class. First she had each student tell the class what they didn't like about Alex, then they got to vote on whether he should stay or go. By a margin of 14 to 2 they voted him out, that is after he had to sit through his classmates talking about the things they disliked about him.

Now I'll add in that Alex Barton is in the midst of tests to determine if he has Asperger's syndrome which is a form of Autism. Autistic children can be a little more difficult to deal with but his condition was NO secret to his teacher. She knew about it and yet she pointed him out, made fun of him, and turned what was supposed to be a safe learning environment into something cruel, embarassing and shameful.

I started Kindergarten in August 1974 and I remember my teacher vividly. One of the great things I remember aboutMrs. Ethel Napier was that she was a fine lady, very sweet and kind and we all loved her. She was a really warm and wonderful lady, the kind of teacher you want your child to have their first year in school.

Sure I'm a realist, I know the world can be cruel at times but I'm 38 years old and the world is very different to me than it is to little Alex Barton. I understand the world can be tough, I have reasons to be cynical at times, and I understand relationships and how people can be. I've experienced a lot in this world whereas little Alex Barton has not. Every child has their quirks and no surprise mine was that I talked a lot in school. I think about how I might have if Mrs. Napier had done to me what had been done to Alex Barton. I would have been so sad and embarassed. And I never would have wanted to go back to South Miami Heights Elementary School--EVER! That's because when I was that age I wanted to badly to fit in, just as the other kids did, and at that age being a part of the group meant an awful lot to me, just as it did for Alex Barton.

Teachers whether they be elementary, junior high or high school have a tremendous impact and influence on their students. To ostracize a child in front of their peers is shameful and disgusting and so is forcing the child's peers to be a part of it.

I had a junior high school teacher who pointed me out and embarassed me in front of my classmates. After that, math was never the same, I hated it, and I hated him for making me feel like such a loser--and I was only 14. Imagine feeling like that at five years old?

We do not need people like Wendy Portillo in the classroom teaching our children.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

72 percent isn't good enough!

I was saddened to hear that in Florida, only 72% of third-graders can read at grade level.

The Department of Education is excited.

Ok so what am I missing here? Why am I not happy?

Because 72% isn't good enough. 72% means that 28% aren't reading at grade level, if in fact they can read at all. Ask yourself "why aren't there more third graders reading at grade level?"

Sure there is likely a very small percentage of kids who have learning disabilities and it just takes them longer. How about all the other kids? What's their story?

Most kids don't just pick up reading on their own, somebody has to introduce them to it. I wonder about the demographics of that 28% of kids who can't read at grade level. How many come from single parent homes? How many have parents who have been in jail or are on drugs? How many of these homes don't have fathers in them? How many of the single moms or all parents for that matter have to work full time just to make ends meet and can hardly spend time with their kids in the evenings? How many parents of these kids just don't care? How many of their teachers shouldn't even be in the classroom with these kids?

For me reading was always second nature. I began reading when I was three years old, of course I understand that's not the norm, but I remember having books and reading from the time I was very young. Relatives sat me on their knee, my teachers had me and my classmates read aloud, we were always READING. We always had BOOKS available at home and school and we were encouraged to read often by EVERYONE. And we were encouraged to read everything and anything we could get our hands on. When I was in high school I'd read every single book in the young adult section of our high school library. I was so bored having nothing to read, I'd read them a second time!

I want an answer.

Why can't these kids read at the third-grade level?

It's a sin. We owe them more than that. We can do better.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Oy vey. My dad sends this interesting email out about John McCain and my ultra right wing conservative uncle comes back to him with "John McCain is a liberal and a babykiller"

WTF? That makes no sense coming from a guy who not only served in Vietnam but has flown the POW-MIA flag for years.

I don't get it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I spent several hours in the hot sun today helping the folks from Florida Wildlife Care round up the two week old orphaned fawn. We were all wondering if it would happen but finally it did. She was about as tall as a small dog and so very thin from not having eaten in a week since her mother was killed. We were standing there wondering what to do next and she came out from the woods, looked at us, then walked away, a little unsteady on her little feet, down our grated road. She was so very skinny and so small! She trotted down the road a bit and into the woods again and we went searching for her again.

Finally a couple of the gals from FWC caught her as she tried to work her way through the neighbor's fence again. She had been very fond of their fern garden, being spotted there often since her mother was killed. When she was caught, she drank a whole bottle of milk, then some water and right now is resting comfortably with "her kind"--other fawns who have been orphaned through some terrible tragedy that befell their mothers. As for me, I now know every square inch of this fifteen acres of woods, not to mention my allergies are acting up again. My legs bore the brunt with scratches and my muscles are so tired, from running, walking, standing and squatting. I am so damn tired. But it is a good tired, because I know some innocent little creature isn't going to die out there tonight in our woods!

Occasions like this bring out the best in people. Just today DH and I met our neighbors, a really nice couple who moved to the property on the other side of our woods and build a nice house there. We always hear bluegrass music coming from their house on the weekends. The melodies slowly drift along the breeze and through the woods to our house. Turns out the guy's buddies come over to his house and pick for awhile on the weekends. They called us tonight to see if we wanted to go over there and hang out but we have to work tomorrow. It would have been fun, maybe next time if it's on a Saturday night we'll go on over there! They really are nice people and they are the ones who called the FWC about the orphaned fawn. Apparently she spent quite a bit of time in their fern garden.

People like the folks at FWC do this because they care. They care about our environment and our wildlife. Without our wildlife we have no environment, our ecosystem would collapse. The wildlife are important to our own survival.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The other day I wrote about a deer which had been hit near our house. DH and I were sure it was one of "our" deer, one of the many which roam freely throughout the woods around us. Today as we were outside working, we noticed a couple of women in the woods near us, we met them and they turned out to be two nice ladies who work with Florida Wildlife Care.

One of the ladies had a bottle of milk in her hand, one which would be used to feed an animal. Apparently one of our rural neighbors had called them because he'd seen a young fawn running around and resting in his garden and earlier in the week he'd seen the doe which had been killed, he figured that this was probably her fawn. Well these two nice ladies worked very hard to tire the fawn out so they could get to her. She continued to outrun them and so far they haven't been able to catch her. We're going to look out for her in case she comes over here, but she seems to like resting at our neighbor's place so hopefully they will be able to catch her. She is only a bout a week and a half old and maybe 2 feet high if that. Her head might come to my knee, maybe.

The girls told me that if we can catch her, put her in the bathroom or spare bedroom and call them. The likelihood of being able to catch her is better if there are more people trying to corner her and tire her out. She is too young to eat regular food because her teeth aren't formed, she can't even go to the bathroom on her own, and she needs milk. She's burning up what little fat she has and if she doesn't eat soon, she will die. That is, if she doesn't die first from being attacked by a wild dog or some other animal or get run over on the highway.

I saw her running through the woods when the ladies were trying to catch her, she's so cute, with little white spots, but honestly, what are the chances of saving her? I don't know. Maybe she'll tire out and rest in our neighbor's fern garden again and they can catch her.

The two ladies we met today are currently caring for several animals. One of the ladies has six fawn she's taking care of whose mothers were killed and the other lady has a couple of raccoons she is rehabilitating. Florida Wildlife Care has helped my mom before when she rescued injured animals. They are very valuable in their knowledge and their service, and a resource we are all thankful exists! We thanked the ladies for all they do to help the animals and they said they were thankful we were the kind of people who cared about animals.

I can't imagine not caring, can you?

Friday, May 16, 2008

I never would have believed it...

if I hadn't seen the story on the news. I have to shake my head and wonder sometimes. What else can I do?

On Friday afternoon I caught a most unusual news story on a fox news channel out of Orlando. A woman had called 911 and reported an 8-foot alligator in the parking lot at her apartment complex. The alligator wasn't moving and wasn't at all acting aggressive. When deputies arrived, one of them, Keith Baughman, decided to throw caution to the wind and wrestle the alligator. He threw a small towel over the alligator's eyes and jumped on its back. The alligator threw him off and bit him in the leg. The other deputy shot the alligator twice, it ran away, and later a wildlife trapper shot and killed the alligator.

What in the hell was this idiot thinking when he jumped on the alligator? Anyone with any kind of common sense would know that the only person who should be wrestling an alligator is someone who is trained to do it. A badge and a gun do not suddenly make you Tarzan Lord of the Jungle.

Had the deputy called the wildlife rescue right away and roped off the area and prevented people from going near the alligator, thus not scaring it and possibly making it become aggressive, the wildlife trapper might have been able to catch and release the animal. I am not sure why the trapper had to kill the animal, perhaps because it was already injured? But if the deputy hadn't tried to wrestle it, his partner might not have had to shoot it and a wild animal who had just "lost his way" might still be alive today.

We humans have caused this mess. With more development comes less area for wildlife to roam freely and as a result there are alligators in backyards and parking lots, bears rummaging through household garbage and wildlife being run over on the highway on a daily basis. And when wildlife becomes a nuisance, the first thing done to solve the problem is to kill the animal. That is so wrong. They were here first and we have to figure out a way to live with them.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

There's a rumor at UF that Bernie Mac-hen has set aside a pot of money for faculty raises. I don't think it's a rumor, I think it's true. Yes, during this budget crisis in which 118 staff members and 20 faculty at UF will be laid off, there's room for pay increases--for faculty, that is.
I understand the importance of retaining good faculty and if an institution of higher education doesn't show its appreciation for its faculty (and I refer to its best faculty), that faculty will not stick around, that is a fact of life. And if these best faculty leave UF and go elsewhere, UF no longer gets the research dollars, the grants, the prestige, the best students, and ultimately while the University will survive, some of its best and most cutting edge programs won't survive and it will be just your average university. There won't be anything extraordinary to attract the best of the best. And then so much for being in the top ten right?

It is life---that some talents are in demand more than others and those with those talents and abilities will be sought out and recruited more heavily than those who do not have them. Comparing faculty & staff is like comparing apples and oranges. I believe it is more difficult to find the kind of faculty needed for an extraordinary institution, than it is to find the staff to support them. That doesn't mean faculty are more important than staff as individuals but their jobs at the University are inherently different and if you think about the job descriptions of a faculty member and support staff in the same department, you have to ask yourself which individual is harder to find? Which is more highly educated? Which is more in demand? It's about investment in human capital. A person with a PhD in Economics is no more important and valuable as a person than the administrative assistant in his department. The PhD simply knows more about Economics and probably a few other things. But the administrative assistant will know things the Economist doesn't know. The administrative assistant will know how to solve problems, get things done where the Economist might ask "how the hell do I...?"

It's just a matter of supply and demand. Who is in more demand? Who is more in supply? I'd say at a University, the Economics professor who specializes in (insert area here) is likely in more demand and less likely in supply. Thus you pay more to get and retain this person. In a given area there is likely much more of a supply of administrative assistants (and less of a demand) than there are economists who specialize in a particular area.

Ok maybe it could have been explained better but goodness, you know what I mean!

Now finding the right staff member to work with students in a large academic program takes a combination of things--a great personality, the ability to solve problems, think rationally and analyze, ability to work well with others, ability to work independently without supervision, ability to create and maintain relationships with people. When one is working with students--especially students--one MUST like helping people and solving problems--because if one doesn't, one has NO business working with students PERIOD! (Same goes for faculty, if you hate teaching, don't teach!)

Therefore, as much as I believe that a university MUST go the extra mile to recruit, retain and reward the best faculty, that university cannot run smoothly unless it recruits, retains and rewards the best staff. In the case of UF, more often than not, when problems need solving, it is the staff who are the ones who make it happen.

There's this running joke in my office. One of my graduate students will walk in upset because they just don't know what to do about something regarding their education. It could be something trivial or it could be something really serious. The student will walk into my office worried and upset but when they leave they are calmer and feeling much better. And before they depart I say to them "ok next time can you please bring me something I can't solve?". and we both laugh. Why? Because they know I care, they know that no matter what academic problem they have, they can come to me and we will find a way to solve it. It won't always be easy and painless, but there's always a way.

That is an example of the kind of staff member you want to retain.

I'm not saying this to make myself look good, I'm saying it because there are hundreds of employees at UF just like that. There are so many people willing to go the extra mile to make things run smoothly. I can't tell you how many people I know at UF who are like that---in all kinds of places--the Registrar's office, Admissions, Payroll, Travel, Student Financial Services, Dean's offices, Departments, Physical Plant, Finance and Accounting, you name the department, there are staff in every area who go the extra mile.

Those are the people you want to retain and reward because they make the logistics of the institution flow smoothly.

However, that said...

The problem is that when the President has to weigh the future of the University and make decisions that will directly affect the quality of education which one do you think he will pick as the most important? The retention of faculty or staff?

I wouldn't want to be in the position to have to make that decision.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Consider the longtime tenured faculty member...

who has taken it upon himself to send email around via the college listserv dissing the college administration and calling for a vote of "no confidence" under the guise that hundreds of faculty and staff have discussed with him the situation and stand behind him (yeah right!). First of all, I think it is very unprofessional to be sending an email like that around to every faculty, staff and student in the college, second, I think a vote of "no confidence" especially when the college's leadership did the very best they could, is not at all constructive and could lead to more problems. During the budget crisis, people need to stick together and help each other out. It's a very frustrating time for all of us. What we don't need is backstabbing and bickering.

For nearly a week this individual has sent these annoying emails. And for a week I've been waiting for someone to just come out and say "Please, will you just STFU? Thank you!"

I might disagree with a lot of things at this institution but I'm not going to go out on a collegewide listserv which is intended for business purposes and start shooting off at the mouth about the administration. And I sure as hell am not going to diss my boss (my boss happens to be cool anyway!) and call for a vote of no confidence.

I can understand this professor is concerned with the situation, we all are, but there are more constructive ways to get the message across and what he's doing is not one of them.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Penelope didn't make it...

I tried rescuing a mourning Dove we nicknamed Penelope. I saw her attacked by a crow on Sunday morning and after the crow left I went out there and picked her up. She seemed a bit dazed but she was later eating and looked good. She tried to fly but couldn't get far off the ground. Her wings weren't broken and I saw no external injuries. Susan Johnson who runs Jungrala Wildife Sanctuary near us told me to keep her protected and plenty of food and water and she may be ok in a day or two. Susan and I both thought she was just a bit shocked and needed some quiet and rest.
Got home from work yesterday and checked on her, and she was gone--not gone away, but dead, with ants on her, such a sad sight. I do not think the ants are what killed her, I think she just went sometime in the night. She must have already gone the night before because she sat upright in the same spot I saw her in that morning when we left for work. I'd peeked inside the box and thought she was sleeping. We couldn't bring her inside because of the cats so we placed her in a nice big box which lay on it's side with a towel in there for comfort and a towel over the open side to keep it dark in there. She could go in and out as she pleased and had plenty of food and water and I noticed she'd even eaten a little. But she died standing up, in the corner of the box.

We washed her off and wrapped her up and buried her under the gardenia bushes.

This morning on the way to work we saw one of "our" deer laying on the side of the road just up from our house, some asshole driving too fast had hit her.

Over the years I've realized I can only do so much and beyond that it's just out of my hands.

Monday, May 12, 2008

And yet another Judge makes an assinine decision...

How do you even rationalize this story?

Butler County (Ohio) Juvenile Court Judge David Niehaus sentenced Brian Gegner to 180 days in jail because his daughter hasn't passed the GED. She was a bit unruly at one time, a truant when she lived with her mother, and when she went to live with her father he didn't fare much better with her, and she admits it was her fault, not that of her parents. Now Brittney Gegner is 18 with a child of her own and her father has to spend six months in jail for something she didn't do.

I feel for Brian Gegner, he did the best he could. And now with six months in jail, he'll likely lose his job which would likely be very devastating for him given these tough economic times.

There's nothing like government stifling the livelihood and productivity of the American citizen eh?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

CBS Radio Mystery Theater...

is one of my favorite radio programs!

It was originally broadcast from 1974-1982 and hosted by the great E.G. Marshall from 74-81. The actors who played the starring roles were a mix of well-known to somewhat known actors, some from films and others from the golden age of radio. Many like Paul Gwynne, Celeste Holm, Mercedes McCambridge, Agnes Moorhead and Paul Hecht (just to name a few) had recurring roles!

I never knew about this show until last year. I was downloading a few hundred old time radio shows from the OTR archive site where there are literally thousands of old time radio programs which have been preserved and archived for posterity. There were 1,399 original CBS Radio Mystery Theatre programs.

Right now as I am blogging (and doing some studying in-between LOL), I am listening to "Trial for Murder" broadcast October 24, 1977 and taken right from the story originally written by Charles Dickens and his son-in-law Charles Collins. It was the only mystery Dickens ever wrote.

Click on CBS Radio Mystery Theater above and you'll be directed to the listing of shows on the internet archive site. You can also do a search for show downloads on google and you will find more independent sites which have collected shows as well.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Warning...none of these topics are related!

-->My brother who lives in Ocala had to be rushed to the hospital a few days ago for what turned out to be an emergency surgery for diverticulitis. Poor mom was worried to pieces but now she feels much better. My sister in law was a few hours away when it happened so she had to hurry to get back home. I can't imagine her worry! The good news is he'll be just fine, the bad is that he'll have to wear a colostomy bag for a few months. Sis says she's going to try and have a little fun with him with that one. Well, at least we can all laugh---could have been worse. I'm glad, we all are that he's going to be ok!

-->My sister lives in Orlando. I miss her. She's had a rough time of it, just some poor decisions over the years, but in the midst of all that, she's done a lot of good too. She went through a period where she was on top of her game, then she began to slide. Her heart got her into trouble I guess, she really tries to see the best in people and she's drawn to people she can help and do good things for. And sometimes people have taken advantage of that. She might disagree and I don't mean that in a negative way--she's just a good person who wants to love and be loved. But little does she know HOW MANY PEOPLE CARE ABOUT HER!!! If you knew her, you couldn't help but like her!

What a scumbag. UF Football player Jamar Hornsby has been using the BP credit card of the late Ashley Slonina since her death last October. Ashley and her friend Michael Guilford who was a UF walk-on player, were both killed last year in a motorcycle accident. The credit card bills have been sent to her family since he began using the card after her death.

-->Bellsouth sucks. I know I know I said it the other day but it's gotten worse so somebody there must have read my post. This dialup connection is getting worse. I have tried everything, even updating our PC's to Windows XP Service Pack 3. And I'm doing online courses this term. What am I supposed to do? I can't do them at work, well I can but during lunch, I mean shit, I have work to do. Why can't they offer DSL here? And shit even if they did, that would suck too.

-->I listen to talk radio and this morning's top of the hour ABC news reports began with a blurb about Jenna Bush's wedding to take place tomorrow. Each time, the radio anchor kept inserting snide comments to open the story. Ok fine, you don't like her father, but leave Jenna alone, let her get married and keep your snide, petty bullshit comments to yourself.

-->Assassinate the JUNTA in Myanmar. I've got no problem with somebody taking every one of those mofo's in the government out with a sniper rifle. The bastard leader of Myanmar Thein Sein is busy handing out electronic equipment as part of the relief effort. Millions of people are without food, water, electricity, and basic necessities, the last thing they need is electronic equipment. Now the government is seizing relief supplies and stockpiling them--not distributing them. I heard the UN is drafting a "strongly worded" letter to Sein and his government. Well you know how much impact that will have eh? It's just a travesty. I feel for those people. Right now I'm not donating until I know the supplies are actually being given to the people because I'll be damned if I'm going to support the fat cats in the Myanmar government. Of course nobody in the Myanmar government is doing anything today because it's a national holiday. Meanwhile people are starving to death. Such a terrible thing. I've got no problem with anyone forcing their way into that country to help those people, we'll just see who has the guts to lead that effort.

-->UF prefers to throw away cardboard boxes rather than let employees take them home. Why? I don't know--who the hell makes up these rules? It's just following "procedure" which IMO is just a bullshit way of avoiding actually having to take responsibility and make a rational decision based on circumstances. You know, like zero tolerance. If we establish "procedure" then nobody has to think, you just follow, like lemmings.

-->I heard this morning on the news that Congress is trying to pass this dumbass legislation allowing the poor souls who got themselves into bullshit mortgages they can't afford, to refinance with lower fixed interest government-backed loans. Hey I've said this before--owning a home is not a right. It's not for everyone. People need to be informed, they need to understand fixed vs. variable rates, they need to understand the true cost of owning a home isn't just a simple mortgage payment, it includes interest, fees, insurance, maintenance and taxes.

-->DH and I will receive our economic stimulus check via direct deposit near middle or end of May. I told DH he could have it to take his trip to Pennsylvania in August. He's from there and wants to go back and get the rest of his shit in his mother's attic that's been there for years now. And he wants to see his mom, sister, grandmother, brother and one of his aunts. He always wants to see a few old friends and do some genealogy research. I get so damn irritated when I hear the government promoting we all go on a shopping spree. You mean to tell me that you gave me back some of my hard earned money so I can go on a shopping spree? IN THE MIDDLE OF A FRIGGIN' RECESSION? If DH weren't going on the trip we would have put this money towards our credit cards. People NEED to get out of DEBT! They also need to do something called SAVE!!!! Why? Because SAVING money actually stimulates the economy. It becomes capital that others use to start businesses, buy homes, cars, so many things. Most people I know are not going on shopping sprees to Walmart or Target. They are either taking a family trip they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford, or they are getting a new roof or getting some other repair on their home, or just plain doing something constructive with it that helps them in the long run. I know very very few people who plan to take their hundreds of dollars to Wal Mart or Target to put more money into the military run government of China.

-->And finally, PLEASE do not support the windfall profits tax!

98.5% of oil company stocks is owned by individual investors and index or mutual or pension funds. The windfall profits tax will result in higher fuel prices and lower dividends for stockholders. Go back a few days in my blog and you will see the chart and read the information about just how much oil corporations pay in taxes. They still pay MORE in taxes overall than they make in profit! Do not buy into the gas tax holiday and do not buy into the windfall profits tax. It will do much much more harm than any good the politicians claim!

And as they say "that's all I have to say about that".

Thursday, May 08, 2008

When good intentions go bad...

Say that you go out of your way to do something for someone and you do the very best you can to do this favor for them. When you've gone through all the trouble of helping them and then they get pissed off at you because it isn't just "so" how would you react to their being pissed off? I mean HELLO--you took the time to do them the favor. It's NOT your fault that it didn't turn out just right.

What makes things worse is when part of the reason it isn't just "so" is because of THEIR mistake. And then when you show them their mistake, they come back and apologize.

Apologize? After an hour of ranting, raving and talking about it's your fault and that you intentionally caused things not to work out they way they were supposed to.

That's just bullshit. Frankly if it were me someone did that to, I would be downright offended if that person came to me and apologized after treating me like that, esp. when what they were upset about was caused by their error. No way, apologies aren't enough. And beyond that I'm not sure what a person can do to rectify their bad behavior.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

So much for the mini-vacation!

Well imagine my surprise when I checked my course schedules for CFCC and TCC and found out classes began 5/6 and 5/7 respectively! I forgot not all colleges in Florida are on the same schedule. So much for a mini-vacation from classes! Exams end one week, classes begin the next.

I'm taking a World Civilizations course at CFCC which covers ancient history to the 16th century and I'm taking a Topics in Math course at TCC in which we cover stats, probability, logic, geometry and cool things like that. Yes, something other than algebra thank goodness! Since Santa Fe didn't have what I needed this term (seems like summer offerings for full time working students are scarce these days) I had to do these two courses via transient status at the other two colleges--online. I've got my binders put together for each course, dividers labeled and sections divided by test area, syllabus and other course info placed in their protective sheets and everything organized for each course.

My history prof asked us to submit four choices from a list of people/events that we would want to do research on and he'll pick one for us from those choices to make sure no two people have the same topic. My four from the list were Joan of Arc, Charlemagne, Martin Luther and Galileo.

The math is interesting, right now we're learning conversion of the metric system.

Anyway, that's it for now, goodbye spring term, hello summer. But look at it this way, in December I'll be a college graduate--well the first stage of it at least!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

AT & T and Bellsouth suck!

I am tired of calling Pakistan and India when I need customer service.

I am tired of having to go through the same old f*cking routine every time I have a problem with THEIR internet access--it always MY fault they say!

I'm tired of slow internet service.

I'm tired of all the taxes and fees and surcharges.

Speaking of---want an idea of what they make off all those taxes and surcharges? First we'll start with my individual cost per month, now I'm talking landline only:

Federal taxes/surcharges:
Federal Excise Tax...$0.68
Telecommunications Access System Act Surcharge...$0.11
Emergency Service Preparation...$0.50
FCC Authorized Charge for Network Access...$6.50
Federal Universal Services...$0.73
Carrier Cost Recovery Fee...$1.49
Federal Universal Service Fund Fee...$0.30

Ok now if you multiply each of those charges by 12 months, then multiply by an estimated number of households, you will get the annual revenue AT&T receives per year from their customers. I figure that in a country of 300 million people, AT&T has to have at least 50 million landline customers at minimum. Here's what they collect annually on the above charges for this number of subscribers:

Federal Excise Tax...$408 million
Telecommunications Access System Act Surcharge...$66 million
Emergency Service Preparation...$300 million
FCC Authorized Charge for Network Access...$4 billion
Federal Universal Services...$438 million
Carrier Cost Recovery Fee...$894 million
Federal Universal Service Fund Fee...$180 million

Total taxes and surcharges collected on average...$6,286,000,000

Then of course there's the residential line charge at $12.03 per month x 12 = $144.36 annually times 50 million = $7,218,000,000 and the $2.55 monthly charge to NOT be listed in the directory. Times 12 months = $30.60 per year x say 10 million poor souls like us who don't want to be disturbed = $306 million.

All that revenue and you'd think they could at least have decent customer service.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Final grades..'s over, grades are posted. I knew I'd earn an "A" in History, I just wanted to SEE it posted! So the grades are "A" and "B" and and my overall GPA is still above 3.6.

Not bad, not bad at all.

I'm just glad it's over, till May 15th and then it starts all over again!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Guess who...

...earned a final grade of "B" in Algebra this term?

Honest, I didn't ask for the gift...

It's pretty sad when you take an online "Smokey and the Bandit" trivia contest and get every single question right. What does that say if I know ever single line of the movie as well as who said them? I mean hey it's kinda neat but really what actual USE is this in real life?


It's always been like that for me when it comes to movies, television shows or old time radio. I wasn't raised on too much television, I think that we three kids received a fair amount of it but not too much. And yet somehow I know so much about it. My parents didn't plop us in front of the television so they didn't have to keep an eye on us, television was not our substitute parent or our babysitter. I don't think my parents were over exposed, it's just that being baby boomers, it was a big era for tv, radio and film. I guess I just picked up the appreciation for it. I have this annoying ability (oh yes it's annoying to those who don't possess the talent!) to recognize voices and faces and associate them with the movies they were in as well as just knowing a lot of useless friggin trivia associated with the film. This great gift seems to be more prevalent with the 30's through 70's era.

DH and I will be watching a movie and there's a character actor we've both seen and I'll tell DH "ooh see that guy-- well he's the guy who starred in (insert movie here) that we watched the other night and his character (insert character name here) was the one that killed off (insert other character here) who was in (insert movie here) with that guy you like (insert actor's name) here who was in (insert film here)."

Can you see how this could be annoying to a non-gifted person? This happens quite a bit. I can't help it. Of course I'm sure it drives DH crazy but I can't help it. Now my parents? They understand it. That's because I get the sickness from them. You see, at their house it's a whole different story. We'll be watching a family favorite like The Godfather, Jaws, El Dorado or Midnight Run and we could do every line in those movies. I mean what's the point of having sound when you have us? Just turn it down and mom, dad and I can do the lines for you. Of course no, we're not as famous or as entertaining (unless the insanity of what we're actually doing can be considered entertainment) but still...we do and we do it well.

It's like circus freaks only we're not in a circus, just watching television.

It really is a sickness because I can't help it and it pops up without warning. There's absolutely no telling when that gift is going to reveal itself. For instance just the other day I was calling my husband's work to let them know he wouldn't be in and unfortunately when his boss picked up the phone it went something like this:

DH's Boss: Hello?

Me: Is this moron #1? Put moron #2 on the phone.

See what I mean?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

RIP Eight Belles…

This little filly had more experience than any other horse on the field today and was only one of a few fillies to ever run the Derby. The odds on her were 16 to 1. She came in second but collapsed and broke both her front ankles just after crossing the finish line. Without a front leg to be splint, the veterinarian had no choice but to euthanize her right there on the track.

I've loved horses ever since my parents gave me the book "Black Beauty" for my 7th birthday and it pains me greatly to see this tragedy happen to such a fine young horse, or any horse for that matter.