Actual Phone Call to Customer Service

“Chuck” called the cable television company – let’s call them Looney Tunes – to have them remove their cable off the house so we can do the siding. It was a never-ending story.

  • “You’re not a current customer… I’ll transfer you.”
  • “Those aren’t our cables, do whatever you want with them.” So he will have to climb a ladder and cut the cable which will then be lying on the street.  That’s not good, so he should climb the utility pole and cut the cable there? He told them he would want the company to sign a release that he wouldn’t be held liable for any damages or loss of service to all the customers in the neighborhood.  “I’m speaking to my team leader and that’s what he says.”  “Let me speak to him please,” Chuck responded.  “Certainly, sir. I’ll transfer you.”
  • “Hello. Billing. How may I help you?…I’ll transfer you.”
  • “Oh, you need to speak to a local office…I’ll transfer you.”
  • So the local office has contracted a 3rd party person to take care of it sometime within the next 2 weeks.  And it is their cable and their responsibility.

And that’s why we’re not Looney Tunes customers.

Rating Signs at the Earth Day Rally

Listen to the Scientists.

Climate Change is Real!

Make America Think Again!

Science and Education are crucial to a Sustainable Future!

Think Global; Act Local (I prefer “Think Globally, Act Locally, personally)

Alternative Energy, not Alternative Facts

With that last one, I must persist in my role as English Language Arts teacher as much as my role as progressive activist. Positive statements are much stronger than negative. If you, the sign maker, need the word NOT in big letters, go back and rephrase it. For example, “Climate Change is Real!” is much stronger than this slogan.

NOT is not a good word for a protest sign.

The phrase “Liberal Conspiracy” is more likely to stick in someone’s mind than the idea that “Science is Real.” The sign to the right has a major problem, too: no one can read it. The letters are much too thin and faint, and they fade completely in the bright sunlight.

This sign is a good example of what NOT to do. Too pale, and features NOT prominently instead of a slogan.

Clever. Could backfire, though, if those watching the march don’t get it and instead feel insulted.

Picture is from a different rally, but I saw tee-shirts announcing this philosophy.

As for message, this one gets right to the point.

I’m with her, indeed.

 

Just another plastic bag of produce.

Sometimes I have to help the grocery store cashiers when I’m buying bunny food. Red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, or Romaine. Curly parsley or cilantro or maybe even flat leaf (a.k.a. Italian) parsley. On my way home yesterday, the cashier and the staffer bagging my purchase needed more help than usual.

I almost, not quite, but almost felt sorry for the cashier. She seemed new at the job. I suspect she has a hearing loss, too. Trust me; I recognize my own hearing-impaired behaviors when I see them in someone else. But where were we? Oh, I was checking out at the small grocery store on my way home from school.

The woman ahead of me in line was buying a six pack of bottled water. The bottled water ended up in a plastic bag. Huh? Put a sticker on it, people. I mean, really.

So I came in prepared; I handed over two cloth bags I always carry in my purse for times like this. Between the bunny food and hamburger buns, two bags should have been sufficient. But then, nothing seemed to go the way of “should” on this trip. First of all, my cloth bags didn’t make it to the end of the checkout right away; they got tangled in with the plastic produce bags. The first bags of lettuce ended up in a store plastic bag anyway.

While that was happening, I was distracted by a clueless clerk. “Is this kale?” “No, it’s parsley. Curly parsley.” She rang up kale. “Excuse me, that was parsley. Curly parsley, not kale.” Oops! She fixed it. And then – “Red leaf lettuce?” “No, it’s Romaine. That’s red leaf, coming up next.” She rang up red leaf. “Excuse me, that was Romaine. The red leaf lettuce is there.” I pointed. Ugh. She was lucky Chuck wasn’t in the checkout with me. He would have identified everything else on the conveyor for her. “And those are carrots” is his favorite line when faced with produce identification problems.

Finally, when I could look down toward the bags, I realized she’d packed my two bags with a few items, a store plastic bag full, and was reaching for another store plastic bag for two small packages of cookies. It was right after school, people. Don’t judge me. Sometimes a teacher just needs cookies. This was really ridiculous, though. I ended up bringing home way more single-use plastic than necessary.

Next time I’m stopping at the nearby grocery on my way home, I’ll avoid this particular pair of employees. If I have to deal with them again, I might react badly. And by badly, I mean I might loudly announce, “That’s curly parsley. That’s red leaf lettuce. That’s Romaine. And that’s celery, by the way.” Or I might glower at the  person bagging my groceries in twice as much plastic as needed. Growl.

If the produce is problematic, maybe the solution is to just buy cookies. Cookies might check out smoothly. Well, they “should”. However, we all know that “should” carries no guarantees.

Alternative Jams?

Actual text message conversation:

Daisy: We’re on our way to your place. Hitting the road now.

La Petite: See you soon!

La Petite: I have a ton of small mason jars from candles if you want to take them home.

Daisy: Yes, I can fake the jars off your hands.

Daisy: Take.

La Petite; Fake jars!! Fake news!!

Daisy: Dad wants to know if they’re alternative jars.

La Petite: They’re filled with alternative jam.

Okay, readers, it’s your turn. What’s alternative jam to you? Preserves?

And the season begins!

Not baseball, silly readers. Planting! Seedlings are started. The tomatoes are doing well, the peppers following slowly along. Lavender and baby’s breath have sprouted, and they’ll be ready to go in a large crock (it was a deal due to a large crack) sooner or later.

There are two containers that I didn’t label. I know at least one batch is milkweed, but I honestly can’t remember what else I started in the small containers. Marigolds, maybe? It’s kind of crazy that I was so good about labeling, but the two I didn’t mark did not come up…yet. I keep hoping.

We picked up a couple of raspberry canes at Fleet Farm last weekend, and I put them in to help strengthen the returning raspberry patch. If these two send out shoots along with the recovering canes from last year, we’ll have a decent size patch in no time at all. Well, in a few years. Gardening time is measured in seasons and years, not weeks. Perennials in particular often need time to grab hold.

Strangely enough, strawberries are coming up well. I didn’t think they were in a good spot – not enough sun, too much shelter. I might still be right; they might not bear fruit. But right now, those jagged green leaves sure look pretty.

Lettuces and other greens have gone up in price. I might check the farmers’ almanac and see if I dare start lettuce seeds this early. In Wisconsin, folks, we can still get snow or ice storms in mid-April. We can’t assume anything.

And so it goes, as the planting season starts.

The 40 Bags in 40 Days Project Ends

I could have ended the post title with “unsuccessfully”. I did not manage to remove from the house something significant each day of 40. I did, however, manage to pare down quite a bit and learn a few lessons from the project.

Lesson 1: Any project that requires daily participation has the risk of failure. Between teaching, handling Amigo’s schedule, adjusting to Chuck’s new job, and life in general, there will be days that I simply can’t invest the time and energy in a side project.

Lesson 2: Projects are easy at first; they get harder. The Purge the Clutter project, as I nicknamed it, started to get more challenging about 15 days in. That makes sense, too; the easy excess was easy to toss. I had to search and think through later pieces.

Lesson 3: Major pieces in the project took more than one day. The piano, for example. We’re still working on it. Expect updates along the way.

Maybe I didn’t succeed in tossing or donating bags of goods every day. I can’t feel like the project failed, though. I did clean out quite a bit, and I set aside a batch of items for a June garage sale. Eventually, I’ll take to clearing spaces again, but without the Each Day Every Day pressure.

Project Postcard Continues

I enjoyed choosing postcards for this draft. These were perfect for writing to my elected officials with my concerns about the Environmental Protection Agency.

The background is Chuck’s computer chip clipboard.

There were so many issues swirling in my head! I focused on the EPA because Earth Day is approaching and because Earth Day originated in Wisconsin, thanks to Senator Gaylord Nelson.

Meanwhile, did I mention that my congressional representative “wrote” back? It was the equivalent of an Auto-Reply to an email. I’d written about education, and the response was a generic letter full of platitudes about education. Well, it’s a start.

Get outta my compost, punk!

I like my small compost bin most of the time. In winter, I park it right next to the driveway and close to the house so I can fill it up without trudging through (much) snow. The down side to my small composter is, without a doubt, the opening in the back. It’s lightweight, and it bulges out when the bin is full. That gives any wandering critter with opposable thumbs access to the goodies that haven’t yet decomposed. See for yourself.

Growl. Getting eggshells out of the wood chips – ugh.

I picked up what I could and tossed it back in the bin. I straightened out the back piece as much as possible. And then I did what I could to brace that back opening and make it less accessible to small furry bandits. Er, critters.

The temporary solution!

A couple of old campaign sign wires, a shepherd’s crook complete with wind chimes, and I think I have this thing put back together.

As for a more permanent solution, I’ll share soon. Here’s a hint: we made a trip to one of my favorite shopping centers: Fleet Farm.

Encore – Almost – for Autism Awareness

It’s April, again. Autism Awareness Month. What are the numbers now? A few years ago, autism occurrences were estimated at 1 in 88. That’s looking almost common, rather than unusual.

Well, folks, it’s time we start learning about each other, neurotypical or on the autism spectrum. Even under the old numbers of 1 in 166, the estimates indicated so many children and adults with autism that “normal” needed redefinition.

Awareness, people, is not enough. Awareness is a low form of knowledge, and knowledge itself sits down low at the base of the learning pyramid. Awareness means knowing that the student sitting next to your child in class might have autism. Knowledge and understanding come around when that child responds to gestures of friendship, perhaps awkwardly, yet making a step toward joining the social peer group in some way.

Awareness? Awareness means slapping a multi-colored puzzle-design ribbon magnet on the back of the family minivan. Understanding means that when the minivan next to yours at the red light is moving back and forth propelled by the rocking of the teenager in the front seat, you notice but don’t judge. You might offer an understanding smile to the driver if the opportunity comes up. By refraining from negative comments, a parent provides a role model for the rest of the minivan passengers. Parents can take it to the next level by explaining to the others in the car pool why it’s so important to be supportive of others, neurotypical or autistic or with no label at all.

These days, with a dangerously unqualified Secretary of Education and a potential Supreme Court justice who has ruled against students with disabilities multiple times, awareness can go to…well, anyway, awareness is nowhere near enough. During this year’s Autism Awareness month, make a vow to move beyond awareness into the category of understanding – or better.