Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Veterans Service Loan Scammer Won't Apologize

Clovis got a call from some scammer trying to push crappy loans on veterans. When the rep told Clovis that she had programs available, Clovis said that he didn't know how to install those programs on his computer. The rep tried to push him off on a delegate to take his information and Clovis said he didn't know what a delegate was, though he was once a delegate for Barry Goldwater. The rep talked over Clovis' story and Clovis demanded an apology.

The rep, at this point, knew that she'd been had and tried to end the call, but Clovis got her back into the conversation by asking her why she had lost all passion for her job. Clovis kept asking the rep why she had such a bad attitude. The rep said "If I lost all passion for my job, I would not be on the phone with you right now". Clovis remarked that they both knew that it wasn't true. The rep actually laughed in tacit agreement.

Clovis demanded an apology again and the rep said she had interrupted because she thought Clovis was brushing her off. Clovis said that the rep wasn't his type. He started singing "Never Gonna Get It" and the rep gasped in astonishment and laughed.

Clovis let the rep talk a bit and she talked about The Mission Act of 2020. Clovis wondered how they could pass a 2020 act in 2019. When Clovis remarked that he knew that Donald Trump was really powerful, but he doubted that Trump could travel through time, you can hear the rep sigh in exasperation. She then ended the call.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Rangers At White Sox 8/24

Apparently, the term "Skybox" is outdated. For, when we arrived at Comisky Park and I asked some security folks where I could find the elevator to the Skybox seats, they looked at me weird.

"You mean the box seats? Which box are you looking for? Upper? Lower?, one asked.

"No, the Skybox. You know, the GOOD seats".

"They're all good seats here, sir".

The White Sox Beer Stein
I had booked some seats in the Guaranteed Rate Club section which is a large suite of seats behind home plate that includes a lounge area, bar and restrooms. I figured that it would be a great way to celebrate the end of Summer. And we had a great time despite the White Sox losing to the Texas Rangers 4 - 0. A huge fight broke out in the bleachers early in the game but it was briefly halted to show some respect for Jose Abreu's 1,000th career hit. Once that was over, the fight broke out again and the fat shirtless guy was taking out people left and right. I wonder if it being Beer Stein giveaway night had anything to do with it.

Meanwhile, in the Guaranteed Rate Club section, all was quiet. I had booked the tickets in secret and only told everyone that I had gotten really good seats behind home plate. When we approached the elevator to the Club, everyone else started to mutter, even going so far as to remark that I was up to some sort of trickery that would get us ejected. But, once our tickets were scanned and wristbands were applied to our wrists, they knew that it was legit.

"Is this your first time in the Guaranteed Rate Club?", the concierge asked.

We all affirmed that it was.

"You folks are in for a treat!"

Guests in the Guaranteed Rate Club seating are treated to an expansive dinner buffet that features all sorts of different fare. I was particularly fond of the chicken sliders and the smoked turkey carving station. Also included is open bar, so I personally managed to slug down my share of beers before the 7th inning. We discovered too late that, while you're at your seat, the wait staff will bring you typical ballpark fare like brats, nachos and hot dogs. I wish I would have left some room for a cheesy beef sandwich, but my stomach just couldn't accommodate one. About an hour and a half into the game, the dinner buffet became a dessert buffet featuring a make-you-own sundae bar

A foul ball made its way into our section and, had there not been a railing next to me, I would have been able to nab it once it bounced in. But, all told, it was a great way to watch the game and I'm hoping that we can do it again sometime next year.


The View From Section A Of The Guaranteed Rate Club Seats

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Switch Energy Keeps Calling

The fine folks at Switch Energy called yet again. When the rep asked if I was getting any assistance, I said I had to check and see. I asked aloud if were were getting any assistance and then asked the rep whether or not my dad helping with the bill counted as assistance. The rep asked if I had ever applied for PAPP assistance and I asked aloud whether or not we had ever applied for Paper Assistance. I then told the rep that the checks we use to pay the bill are printed on paper. The rep tried to clarify and I said that if someone peed on the electric, that it would shock and kill them. Yet another attempt to clarify seemed to really tick the rep off who vented a frustrated "Alright!".

The rep said he needed "a clear no. Say no". I then asked him how we got a clear nail to him in the mail. The rep ignored it and asked me to get a copy of my bill. The rep asked for the account number "as it appears on the bill" and I told him it was printed, though I had to ask what kind of font it was. The rep passed me off to a supervisor who got increasingly pissed off at my attempts to play dumb. The call ended when I made yet another attempt at the "Heywood Jablowmee" joke.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Places To Eat In Memphis

I wanted to take a little time to mention some of the great places we ate while we were in Memphis. The downtown area has a reputation for having some great food options. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to visit every place that we wanted to.

Flying Fish: It's a small chain restaurant, but there's a location right across the street from The Peabody. The fried catfish was really good and their tarter sauce was pretty remarkable. Their hushpuppies where the best that I have had in quite some time.

Blue Plate Cafe: We came here for breakfast right before the morning rush. The Eggs Benedict was on point and the fingerling potatoes were very well seasoned with a nice little kick to them.

Dyer's Burgers: One of many places boasting the best burger in Memphis. I thought they were fine. Nothing great. Thin patties on a standard bun. They're probably really good if you've been drinking heavily.

Aldo's Pies: Great place to either eat "artisan" pizza or grab a few slices of your tried-and-true favorites.

The Pig: I'm not a huge fan of ribs, as food on the bone makes me want to boke. But a close friend of mine demanded that I visit this place and try the ribs. They are indeed some of the best ribs that I have ever had. The meat falls off the bone easily and the BBQ sauce is tangy and sweet. For me, though, the big winner was their smoked turkey.

Automatic Slim's: I mentioned them in a previous post and raved about the Blackened Salmon Eggs Benedict. It was a really well balanced dish. I was, however, disappointed in their Bloody Mary. It was nice and spicy, but there was no flair. I realize that at $3, you're not going to get a full garden, but they could have at least tossed in a few olives.

Blues City Cafe: Their catfish is decent, but the gumbo fries is the real winner at this place.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Energy Scammer Finally Says My Name

The Switch Energy scammer called me yet again trying to get me to give him the details on my ComEd bill. When he asked me my zip code, I went off on a tangent about how zip codes help mail delivery and wondered how we could incorporate Canada into our zip code system. When the rep asked me if I got any help paying my bill, I told him that, despite breaking my hand once, I wrote the check all on my own. The rep tried to clarify but I kept insisting that I was capable of writing checks without assistance.

The rep told me "You might get a little serious and quit with the jolly thing" and demanded to know whose name was on the bill.

I told him my name was Heywood Jablowme and asked the rep to repeat it back to me. When he said it, I laughed at him and told him he was the first one in several calls to actually fall for the joke.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Pet Friendly Memphis

Pet Friendly Hotels In Memphis


While planning our trip to Memphis, we decided very early on that we were going to bring the dog, Luna, with us. The decision to do so presented a number of challenges. First and foremost was finding a pet friendly hotel that was located close to the attractions we wanted to visit. The Peabody fit the bill quite nicely as it is located just a few steps from Beale Street and less than a mile from most everything you'd want to see in Memphis aside from Graceland. As it turns out, The Peabody is VERY pet friendly. Upon arrival, Luna was given a Peabody pet bowl, mat and treat. And there's a nice little green space complete with poop bags just outside of the valet parking area. You'll have to pay a non-refundable fee of $100 per stay to cover cleaning. I'd heard beforehand that the Peabody can be very strict about having your pet's shot records available. I had Luna's, but was never asked for them.

Some things to note about the pet policy at the Peabody is that pets are not allowed in restaurant/bar areas of the hotel. This includes the rooftop area. Pets are also not allowed near the grand fountain and are to remain a reasonable distance away from the ducks during the Peabody Duck March. And, of course, even if you are in a pet friendly area of the hotel, your pet is required to be leashed. If you leave your pet alone in your room and it becomes a noise nuisance, The Peabody reserves the right to enter your room and remove the pet to a private area and charge you a $15 per hour minding fee. If you don't want to take the risk, there's a nice doggie daycare place called Mutt Island just a half-mile from The Peabody. 

Some other other pet friendly hotels in Downtown Memphis include: 

  • La Quinta on Union Ave
  • The Westin on Beale
  • The Vista Inn and Suites on Union

The Peabody Dog Bowl, Dog Mat and Dog Treat. 



Are Dogs Allowed On Beale Street?

Dog Tired

In general, Beale Street is not pet friendly. I knew beforehand that the bars and restaurants along Beale do not allow dogs, but I didn't know that Beale Street itself had a ban on animals. We were halfway down the block before we discovered any signage that stated that pets are not allowed. Still, nobody batted an eye and we took Luna down Beale street several times without anyone saying anything. The one time a public safety officer warned us off the street, we were actually walking along Second Street en route back to the Peabody, so it wasn't an issue. The one somewhat pet friendly restaurant in the area is Automatic Slims. They have a very small outdoor area and we were allowed to have Luna there while we ate breakfast. And they make a pretty amazing Blackened Salmon Eggs Benedict. I suspect that we could have gotten away with having Luna at Flying Fish and Aldo's Pies since they also have outdoor areas, but we didn't have Luna with us at the time, so we didn't ask. 

Luna was quite the celebrity in Downtown Memphis. We walked her around quite a bit (always keeping water on hand for her) and a lot of people stopped to asked to pet her or have their picture taken with her. Luna was either very happy to engage with people or wanted nothing to do with them. It all seemed to depend on her mood.  She's used to walking a few blocks here and there, but we didn't know how she would do on half-mile walks in the Memphis heat. Turns out she did very well and seemed to enjoy herself. She was, however, worn out after each excursion and took to hogging whichever bed she happened to plop herself down on. 


Monday, August 12, 2019

A Visit To Graceland

"And I saw that silent mansion and I knew that I was lost. They were selling plastic souvenirs of Elvis on the cross." - Billy Joel

It has been said, in the movie "Pulp Fiction", I think, that you're either a Beatles fan or you're an Elvis fan. Well, I'm not an Elvis fan. I recognize his importance in the birthing of Rock N Roll and his influence on just about every band that came afterward, and I even like some of his songs. But, I'm just not a huge fan. The idea of visiting Graceland doesn't excite me near as much as the idea of visiting Lennon's childhood home at Mendips or McCartney's at Allerton. I don't care how Elvis lived. I don't care about his airplanes. I don't need to see all of his shrine to his Lansky Brothers outfits. I don't care if there's a pretty little thing waiting for the King down in the Jungle Room. And, yet, there I was this morning standing in line with the rest of the rabble waiting to go in.

As we were being ushered in, a lady turned to me and asked "When did Elvis die?".

I replied "Once he started making movies". I'm lucky I made it out of the mansion alive.

The story of how the Jungle Room came into being is an interesting one. Elvis' father, Vernon Presley had gone into town and saw what he called "the world's most ugliest furniture." When he returned to Graceland he told Elvis about it and Elvis went to go check out the hideous furniture for himself. Elvis because he bought the entire set and brought it back to Graceland and had lime green shag carpeting installed on both the ceiling and floor. This is where Elvis kept his friends waiting for him. Talk about a test of friendship.

Once you're in the Jungle Room, you're free to wander about the mansion on a self-guided tour. I was surprised at how small the house at Graceland really is. It's basically just a lavishly decorated Colonial. Once you're out of the house, you end up in the meditation garden where Elvis and some of his family are buried. In death, Elvis has become a tourist attraction. Hundreds of thousands of people visit Graceland every year, and with the cheapest tour being just north of $40, Presley makes more money dead than he ever did alive.

If you'd like to visit Elvis' grave but don't want to shell out $40 for a morbid tour of the mansion, then you can visit the Meditation Garden for free between the hours of 7:30 am and 8:30 am nearly every day.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

The National Civil Rights Museum

"Somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for rights. And so just as I said, we aren't going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around. We aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. April 3, 1968

Jacqueline Smith
Jacqueline Smith has been sitting on the grounds of the National Civil Rights museum in silent protest for 31 years. The museum complex includes the Lorraine Motel building where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was killed in 1968. After his assassination, the owner of the hotel, Walter Bailey converted the hotel to low-income single room occupancy housing. In 1982, Bailey declared bankruptcy and the Lorraine would have been sold at auction had the Save The Lorraine organization not stepped in and bought it.  In 1984, the Save The Lorraine organization changed their name to the Lorraine Civil Rights Museum Foundation and hoped to raise funds to restore the motel and convert it into a museum. This meant closing the hotel and having its residents move out in order to prepare for the 8.8 million dollar renovation.

The Lorraine officially ceased operations as an SRO hotel on March 2, 1988. On that day, deputies were called to forcibly remove Jacqueline Smith from the premises. She had been living there since 1973 and had worked for the motel as a housekeeper. Upon her eviction, her belongings were thrown into a pile across the street where she covered them with a tarp and set up camp and continued to live as she daily maintains her protest vigil. I had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Smith at her camp today.

Smith believes that the money that has been spent and continues to be spent on The National Civil Rights Museum would be better spent furthering the work that Dr. King left unfinished. That's not to say that she believes there shouldn't be a museum. "There are several civil rights museums throughout the country and Memphis should have its own.", she said. In her opinion, however, locating the museum in the South Main Street area has led to gentrification and has pushed low-income residents out of their longtime homes. Smith believes that by locating the museum in the place of Dr. King's death, it is essentially the James Earl Ray memorial, as the museum is focusing too heavily on the violence of Dr. King's death rather than concentrating on the work he did while he alive. This goes against King's message of peace and non-violence.

I asked Ms. Smith what it would take for her to end her protest. After all, what's done is done. The museum is there and the money has been spent. She referred me to an opinion piece that she wrote last year: "Let's relocate the museum within Memphis along with its Klan hoods, James Earl Ray rifle, and other negative memorabilia and turn the Lorraine into an establishment that Dr. King and Memphis can rightly be proud of and where visitors can experience his dream in action", she wrote.

Before leaving, I asked her how she was holding up and she said that she was hanging in there just fine. The authorities don't bother her or try to move her on and most people are generally very nice to her when they engage with her.

The Lorraine Motel. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Room Is Marked With A Wreath

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Peabody



Our headquarters for our long weekend in Memphis is the historic Peabody Hotel. It's best known for its duck parade where, twice a day, a paddling of ducks is led from their 13th floor (referred to as "The Skyway" rather than the 13th floor) home down to the Peabody's lobby fountain. This whole tradition started in the 1930s when General Manager Frank Schutt came back from a hunting trip and allowed some of his live call duck decoys to play in the fountain. Guests liked the idea and the Peabody has embraced it ever since. And, I mean they REALLY embraced it. There are ducks on everything here from the swizzle sticks to the toilet paper.

The Peabody is in a great location, situated within walking distance of many Memphis attractions such as Beale Street, Main Street, Autozone Park, FedEx Forum and a wide array of historic sites. They offer first-rate accommodations (seriously, they even pamper the dog here) with a refined yet relaxed vibe.


Friday, August 9, 2019

Walking In Memphis

"Put on my blue suede shoes and boarded the plane. Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues in the middle of the pouring rain". - Marc Cohn.

Summer is nearly over and I've been way too busy with various projects to take any of the vacations that I have been wanting to take. And with my daughter busting her butt with her Summer job, I figure the poor girl deserves a trip before school starts back up. So, we trekked on down to Memphis for a short vacation.

The first thing we did was slide on down to Beale Street for a quick walk down the historic avenue filled with booze, music and good times. The Beale Street Entertainment District is only a few blocks long, and, much like Bourbon Street in New Orleans, open carry of alcohol is allowed. So, the first thing I did was stop at a "to go" desk to get a beer. And I actually got carded. So, I handed over my license.

"Do you have something that isn't expired?", the bartender asked as she grimaced at my license. I had recently renewed my driver's license online and the new one had to be mailed and hadn't gotten to me yet.

"So, once my license expires, I am now somehow under 21?", I asked. "Wish I looked it!", I added.

"I just don't know if it's real", she said.

"Do I LOOK under 21? Hell, do I look under 40?" I asked

 "We ID under 103 and you look younger than that.", she said.

I can appreciate that and I took it as a compliment, so I showed her my passport card and got my beer. Then, kiddo and doggo and I walked along Beale Street. Early on, my daughter pointed out to me that various posted signs indicate that dogs are not allowed on Beale Street. Yet, plenty of people came up to the pup to pet her and get their pic taken with her. Some police officers even petted her, so I guess it's not that strict of a rule. It helps that doggo is adorable.

My initial assessment of Beale Street is that it's cleaner than Bourbon Street and it's much easier to get a beer to go. However, the area is much smaller than Bourbon Street and there's just not as much going on. I still had a pretty good time walking around and listening to the music, though.




Wednesday, August 7, 2019

What Font Is My Com Ed Bill Printed With

Clovis got yet another call from those Com Ed energy scammers. He had been suffering from a case of the scoots so poor Clovis was on the toilet when the rep called. Clovis was asked to find his Com Ed bill and had to rummage through the desk in order to find it. Once he did, the rep asked how his name was printed on the bill. Clovis wasn't sure what font his name had been printed with. He suspected Times New Roman, but wasn't sure, so he yelled for his wife for confirmation. His wife thought it was Comic Sans but Clovis knew that couldn't be correct.

The rep hung up after hearing Comic Sans. Nobody wants to deal with Comic Sans.

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Yeti Rambler

The coffee situation at work has become untenable. Everyone in the office prefers to use the Keurig and have spurned the purchase of a simple drip-brew maker. There isn't room for both in the break room, and we're not ponying up for a dual-brew. So, I've got to either drink sub-par K-pod coffee or I've got to brew my own at home and bring it to work in a thermos. No-brainer: I went with the thermos. For a while, I was bringing my coffee in a 16 oz knock-off Yeti tumbler. That worked okay, but it didn't quite hold enough coffee to get me through the morning and, by the time I got to work, the coffee had lost a noticeable amount of heat. Enter the 26 oz Yeti Rambler Bottle.

I came into work the other day with this bad boy in my clutches and got immediately side-lined by a last-minute meeting. Two hours later, I came out of the meeting looking like a coffee zombie. I would have even slurped up K-pod coffee and been glad to have it. But, I didn't have to, thanks to the Yeti Rambler Bottle. When I untwisted the lid, I could still feel the heat wafting out of the coffee. My coffee was still piping hot!

I'm a pretty huge klutz, so the best thing about the Yeti Rambler Bottle is that it seals up so well that I can drop this thing down the stairs and nothing will spill out. Okay, I haven't done that just yet, but it's only a matter of time before it happens organically. And once it does, I'm willing to bet that the Rambler is built Tonka Tough enough to gambol down the stairs without sustaining any dents.

Personally, I don't drink directly out of the Rambler, so I have no need for the optional straw-cap or the 5oz cup cap. Yet. Instead, I just let the Yeti Rambler store my coffee and pour it as needed into my coffee mug at my desk, so the included triple-haul cap works perfectly for me. Your usage needs may vary from mine, of course.