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Could You At Least Buy Me Dinner First?

(AP Photo/Jack Plunkett)

I think it was when the Wal-Mart manager said, “I just can’t help you, because I have no idea how that works”, and then walked away from me, that I really started to get ticked off. Bad customer service has been the theme for several of my blogs. I am pretty good at turning the other cheek, picking my battles and so on when it comes to a horrifying experience with a corporate giant. Westley Trellis, well, not so much. Trellis took a baseball bat and smashed to bits twenty-nine flat screen televisions, causing over $22,000 in damages in a Wal-mart electronics department. One commentator opined that perhaps Trellis was “simply slashing prices?”

Another time I wanted to lash out at corporate America, government agencies, was the Summer I was, well, nabbed for not being “entirely” forthcoming on some tax information. I had “forgotten” to report something, and well, I got in trouble with the IRS. They sent letters, of course I didn’t respond to them, and eventually received a default judgment and was ordered to pay some money back to the IRS. Well, I didn’t, and so they garnished wages from me that fall. I basically worked at this job I had for free in order to pay back my debt. I wanted to get angry, and I wanted to tell them off, ask them if they would consider dinner first before just jamming their you know what in my you know where, but I didn’t.

Joe Stack had a different approach to his IRS experience. He took his Piper Cherokee airplane and flew it right into the Echelon Building in Austin, TX. An online article tears Stack apart, calling him a man “with a serious grudge”, and “left a lot of innocent people in his wake”. Well I don’t know if I would put IRS and innocent in the same sentence, and while I am saddened for the injured parties, I share some empathy for Stack’s ordeal. Eventually people succumb to the rage in their heads when they are not listened to, or treated badly, and they end up doing things like Trellis, and Stack did. Wal-mart and the IRS may consider taking some responsibility themselves instead of writing off Stack, a software engineer and musician, who was handled badly, ignored, and stuck in a Web of poorly handled consumer relationships by corporations and government agencies. Stack has a 6-page, 3000 word manifesto online that you can draw your own conclusions from.

How do we communicate to these corporate bears, and government gorillas in a way that gets our point across without crashing planes, and busting up televisions? Is it possible? There are many ways to handle bad service, and avoid the caveat emptor mind-set; I don’t know if one is better than another. I have managed to avoid suicidal tendencies from bad service, and batting practice in the Wal-mart electronics department, but there are times when I cheer silently for the ones that make such grand gestures. I don’t think they actually believe their cries of injustice will be heard, but their actions will not be forgotten.

When are we going to demand that they put customer relationships at the front of the line again, and keep the “bottom line” from towing the whole ship down to the bottom of the ocean? Now we just have to find the middle line between bats, and planes; and the ability to make changes, and communicate just a little bit better with each other, perhaps even listen a little more. I have hope, even if while I write this, phone pressed desperately to my ear, my expected hold time is 32 minutes. Don’t worry I don’t even like baseball and flying makes me nauseous.

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Beer and Guns: The New Peanut Butter and Chocolate?

New Mexico legislation, with the support of Charlton Heston’s followers, a.k.a. the National Rifle Association (NRA), have approved in a majority vote that carrying concealed weapons into establishments selling beer and wine will now be legal. Don’t worry; the establishment has to have at least 60% of their sales come from food sales. Well… that certainly puts my mind at ease.  I was a little concerned at first with the whole alcohol and guns things, but it looks like they have it under control. The Senate and the House are in agreement, after all “great minds” think alike; however, the bill will have to be signed into actual law by Governor Richardson before the final pass is made.

The bill is sponsored by Democratic Senator George Munoz, who has inferred that there will be a reduction in reported crimes, since most folks leave their guns in their cars when they go into beer and wine service establishments, and then other folks steal them and commit crimes. Well, with everyone drinking and carrying around guns, this should substantially reduce the crime rate. What?

The law will still prohibit guns in full liquor establishments. Apparently it is much safer to have them around beer or wine than whiskey or Jager bombs. This matter, when addressed on the Senate floor, sparked a key debate over alcohol consumption and folks carrying concealed weapons. Representative Jeff Steinborn, Democrat-Las Cruces asked about the consumption of alcohol, and was answered by Representative John Heaton, Democrat-Carlsbad, “They cannot be inebriated…” My question is how would this be regulated? Would the person with the concealed weapon have to blow into his/her gun? Maybe take it apart really fast and put it back together like that scene in Stripes? Are we going to be patted down now before we go into Red Robin? How will this be regulated? Don’t we already have enough concealed “weapons”, i.e. drugs, knives, etc. making their way into bars and establishments serving beer and wine? Well what’s one more, and at least this one is legal, as long as you aren’t drunk. Someone may want to remind Rep. Heaton that being inebriated in any establishment selling alcohol, with or without a gun, has always been illegal.

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Yes Dear Part V

Khalil Gibran has a poem about love called “Love One Another” There is his version, and my own ideas

Love One Another

By Khalil Gibran and Jenny Gamble

Love one another, but make not a bond of love

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

or in many cases, waves that crash on the shore obliterating any signs of young shore life and taking that waste back out to the ocean where it can be buried deep below the dark shark infested waters

Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup.

preferably with whiskey or wine- and YES, have a couple of cups, bottles, growlers, flasks, whatever gets the job done…

Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.

I agree, some people like whole wheat, some people like italian loaves, and sometimes your wife is on Atkins, and if you try to give her bread, you may want to do it with a pair of boxing gloves- carbs have destroyed a lot of good relationships…

Sing and dance together and be joyous,

mom and dad are in the church choir and this is probably the only time that they are together singing joyously, and that is just as well… there is no dancing and that is just as well too…

but let each one of you be alone,

and that is why they have a two-story home with several bedrooms

Even as the strings of a lute are alone

If my dad brings a lute in the house, well… I don’t think “yes dear” is going to save him…

though they quiver with the same music.

quiver is not the word I would choose, more like cower, perhaps falling to your knees and praying to God you make it out alive could be appropriate?

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping;

oh no! This would NEVER work. My dad- he loses things, sometimes he puts them in his shirt pocket and they fall out of his shirt pocket and into the lake when he is untying his boat from the dock-lost forever… My mom- she forgets where she puts things. Then she gets upset, then my dad has to try to remember to say “yes dear”. It’s messy… Best if they just hold on to their own stuff I think…

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

or a giant pill box with several medication times a day can contain your hearts, your knees, your blood pressure, your high cholesterol, etc…

And stand together yet not too near together;

if mom and dad are fighting, it’s best that one of them goes to see a movie or even out of town for a couple of days. This generally keeps the marriage running more smoothly. I think that true love is synonymous with the words- traveling sales job…

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

If by temple you mean bedroom, and by stand apart you mean separate then I think this works well in marriage. Never try to save money on bedrooms when buying a home with the one you love, save money on land, or location first… trust me on this one

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

oak tree and the cypress tree together in the same dirt is going to make for some roots getting tangled… That creates a whole host of problems that my pops could tell you all about…

I don’t want to seem like I don’t believe in love, or that marriage is a bad thing. I think that love is subjective. I think that love is about compromise and learning and listening. It’s about knowing that walking away, means staying to fight another day together. You don’t find that kind of love in the aisles of Walmart. You don’t reserve it for one night at a fancy restaurant. You cannot buy it at Zales. It is not meant to be sanctioned off for one day a year to express or to share. It isn’t red, white, pink, it’s all the colors, the grey areas especially. You get it if you are lucky and you keep it if you are smart, conscious, and patient. It’s knowing when to say “I won’t” and when to say “I do;” it’s knowing when to say “yes” and when to “no;” it’s knowing when to say something, and when to say nothing and just listen; it’s knowing when to say “I love you” and when to say “yes dear.”

See Part I

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Yes Dear Part IV

When I think about love, I think about my folks. They have been together for longer than most car manufacturers can go without a recall, and I think they define love for me. They are what I hope for in my quest for the guy to sit on the porch with someday on rocking chairs staring at the grandkids in the yard. They aren’t hanging all over each other, and baking pies, and smiling all the time. They aren’t the perfect Walmart or Zale’s definition of love. What they have is real love which I think is much better than poetic love. They respect each other. They listen to each other- most of the time. And when they don’t have anything nice to say, they say “yes dear.” I am fairly certain this line has saved my father’s life on numerous occasions. They enjoy each other, and sometimes they don’t, but they stick to it, and they share real love. My parents are my best friends, so I have heard both sides of the relationship, and I learn in those conversations. I learn how much bigger love is than just 2 people sometimes. Sometimes love has to embrace a family and be the glue that keeps them together. My parents’ love has shown me how important family is, loyalty, and listening. I have also learned how to shout, slam, pout, and sulk extremely well to boot!

See Part I

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Yes Dear Part III

I have heard conflicting stories on this Saint Valentine and the events historically associated with the holiday. February 14, 1929 marks one of the bloodiest mob scenes in Chicago. Al Capone had allegedly contracted a hit on a rival gang which killed 7 people. This marked the end of Capone’s gang opposition in Chicago, and also the day his adoring Chicago fans stopped adoring him and just wanted an end to the bootleg wars that plagued the city with violence.

There is also a Father Valentine that is supposed to be one of many Valentines canonized by the Catholic church. Father Valentine went against the Roman Emperor Claudius, who had banned marriage. Valentine would continue to marry young lovers, and was caught, convicted, and sentenced to death. He reportedly fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and on the day he was sentenced to die, he passed her a note that simply said, from your Valentine- I wonder if it had Buzz Lightyear on it? He was sentenced to death and died on February 14.

There is also the idea that Valentine’s Day began as the Lupercalia Pagan festival which occurred around the middle of February. This festival, among other things, consisted of animal sacrifices, and then slapping young maidens with animal skins soaked in blood. Well, nothing says love like bloody goat skin against your back…

Cupid was the Roman God of love and is considered the mascot of this holiday by many. I’m not sure how a 3,000-year-old baby who shoots arrows at people to make them fall in love has become so iconic in the celebration of love, but to each his own I suppose. So blood- red, sacrifice- money spent, and hearts- the animals’? I guess I can see how we got here?

This holiday generates nearly 14 million dollars annually for retailers. 14 million dollars, to say I love you! That’s a lot of money for red plastic buckets, Disney cards telling people they are cute, and Neko candy hearts that continue to encourage children that spelling really doesn’t matter- U R Cute…

Stay Tuned For Part IV

Read Part II

Read Part I

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Yes Dear Part II

I have generally tried to live by one rule when it comes to Valentine’s Day: no dating near the event, whenever possible! It’s too much pressure; and on that note, I generally try to avoid dating from November 20 through February 15, just to avoid the pressure of the holidays and a relationship. This way there are no disappointments, and my pocketbook stays dedicated to family and dear friends.

If you have been dating for six months or more prior to, then you are absolutely obligated to get your significant other something to commemorate the day we dedicate to loving one another. If you are married, well you should probably be at a jewelry store, because you have probably exhausted all the cute things you can find at stores like Walmart, to give your spouse. The pressure is insurmountable. We are surrounded by it, almost immediately after the first day of the new year, we are thrown right into Valentine’s Day. What bothers me about this holiday, is simply that it exists at all. I am not some jaded female that has had had too many bad relationships, and has thus sworn off this emotionally crippling holiday… wait a minute, I am. No, but seriously, the reason I don’t like Valentine’s Day and what it stands for, is because I truly believe that we could be loving every day. Loving without the red plastic buckets, candy hearts with clever sayings and expressions of amour, and small card stock valentines we share with our friends. Loving, simply, for the sake of loving. It’s interesting that red is the color of love on this holiday, and also the color my professors use on my school papers. I don’t think they are expressing their love to me with this red pen, but who knows? I would like to think that we can tell the people we love, that we love them, every day; not just on February 14.

Stay Tuned for Part III

Don’t Miss Part I

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Yes Dear, Part I

A few years ago, I bought my dad a sign. One of those signs you buy that has a clever expression on it like “blondes do it better” or “my other car is a corvette”. This one was the most clever I had ever seen. This one would help my dad out when he needed to remember that he need only say two words in the middle of an argument or the potential for one; when that fine line exists where whatever comes out of your mouth may determine your dinners for the next week and whether or not you may have them, or your sleeping arrangements. This one just said, “yes dear”.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner and me surrounded by all that is pink, white, and red, I have been thinking a lot about love and relationships. It’s hard not to! Have you been to a Walmart this week- (I hope not, but that’s a whole other blog.) I was there last night. I walked through the automatic doors and I was immersed in a sea of everything that Walmart has decided is Valentine’s Day. The red plastic buckets, the rows of Disney characters emblazoned upon small pieces of card stock wishing you well on this love holiday that the kids pass around at school, and of course aisles full of chocolate- safely hidden inside their heart shaped boxes. This is what love is? What do red plastic buckets have to do with love? Or Disney. What does Disney really have to do with love- or the Super Bowl, for that matter? I was a little overwhelmed to say the least, and distracted from the reasons that had brought me to the store in the first place. But the experience and the huge array of Valentine’s Day tchotchkes got me thinking about the idea of love.

Stay tuned for Part II.

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“Doing it” Isn’t Doing It

Imagine my surprise, when I opened up the Daily Lobo a few days ago and found this article: “’Period sex’ can relieve menstrual cramps and make showering more fun.’”

Come again- (no pun intended)? I had to read more to find out if this was a joke or not. What I learned is that the Daily Lobo, a paper written by students, for students, has organized a column that addresses all of our “sex questions” such as: safer anal sex, and the aforementioned how to have sex on your period. My issue with this is not the idea of helping students to have safer sexual encounters, but the content used to try to do that. In a state that has reported between 1990-2004 a teenage pregnancy rate of 23%; and being a state that is rated the fourth highest state in the country for teenage pregnancy rates between the ages of 15-19; I am fairly certain these girls are not getting pregnant through anal or period sex. Consider this; the Daily Lobo is a free paper. It is distributed not only on campus, but also in many local area shops and restaurants. This means that anyone, any age, can pick this paper up and see these articles. Ok, so the kids are having period sex- what’s the harm; what the article does not mention is that while seemingly safe and more pleasurable, it is also carries with it higher risk of transferring diseases like hepatitis, and H.I.V. There is also higher risk to the female in contracting yeast infections and bladder infections because of the location of the cervix during menstruation- this is briefly mentioned at the end of the article following the information that a woman can still get pregnant during menstruation; however, no mention of using a condom.

If we are going to leave our sexual safety in the hands of college students, perhaps we could leave it to the medical students? Instead of witty banter between “Isabel” and her boyfriend, maybe we could add the possible risks of sex- at any time of the month. Finally, if we insist on these types of articles, then let’s not leave the paper lying around in areas that kids of any age can pick them up. Then I have to explain what a “period” in “period sex” is to my son when I am still trying to get him to use them in sentences.

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Two Hiccups and Call Me in the Morning

I love beer, which seems like a great way to start this off. The only thing I love more than beer is drinking a beer with my friend Laura Marrich. Recently we met up at the Anodyne, a favorite haunt for the Alibi guys and gals, and while we were solving the problems of the world with the tools of Amstel and Stella firmly in our grasp, Laura got the hiccups. We tried everything to rid her of her distress, but to no avail. Eventually they just went away, but it brought up the age-old question: What do you do to get rid of the hiccups? And moreover, where do they come from?

Cecil Adams, who writes The Straight Dope, has a blog about this on his site:

“Here's what we know. When you hiccup, your diaphragm and nearby muscles convulse, causing you to briefly gulp air. Within 35 milliseconds the glottis (the opening at the top of the air passage) slams shut, producing the characteristic "hic."

He goes on to say that drinking a lot of carbonated beverages may induce hiccups, especially if you drink them too fast, and that getting excited too quickly or even more serious conditions like epilepsy may cause them.

After extensive Googling, I learned that many expert and non-expert opinions held the same collective ideas about the origin of hiccups, and that is that they are caused from a second of miscommunication, or no communication at all, between the diaphragm and the epiglottis.

While unnerving and seemingly annoying to those around you, they won’t kill you, and can be cured. There is no one cure for the hiccups, but different sites on the web had conventional and well-known methods that seem to be effective, and some methods that were not only ineffective, but just plain silly; perhaps laughing about them may prove a cure for your next set of the hiccups.

Here is my top ten list of some things to try:

• Fart, as loud as you possibly can. Apparently this helps and I would just really like to see someone try it. Once you get over the hiccups, you can work on the embarrassment of what you have just done…in public.

• Say “pineapple” very loud. This is one I have never personally tried, but the other night at the Anodyne, I would have gotten a real kick if Laura had just suddenly burst out with “pineapple!”

• Scream for as long as you can. This is supposed to push out the trapped air and possibly scare off any potential stalkers in the immediate area.

• Stand on your head, again, very entertaining to those around you and possibly helpful.

• Make yourself gag by grasping your tongue between your thumb and forefinger. If you are on a date, this could be a real icebreaker.

• Okay now seriously, here is one that always works for me: Put some paper towel over a glass of water with no ice and drink the water through the paper towel. The act of sucking the water through the towel will help to get rid of that excess air in your diaphragm.

• Try to swallow air, big gulps of air. This forces the air trapped in its bubble to get pushed out; thus causing hiccups to dispel.

• Take a tablespoon of sugar, swallow it, then drink a glass of water with no ice.

• Make out with a really good looking guy. I don’t really know if it works, but it is a great excuse to get a little action in an otherwise embarrassing situation.

• Last but not least, another tried and true method for me, just drink a lot of water with no ice.

Look, here is the bottom line. No method ever seems to work twice, and no method seems to work for the person you recommend it to, even though it may have worked for you. Hiccups are, in my opinion, one of those little jokes the body likes to play on you, so as to remind you, you are not the one actually in control; kind of like diarrhea.

If you would like to get more information on hiccups check out this site, or this one, and best of luck to you.

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    High Mountain Hideout8.29.2014