Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

Sometimes when I look at the headlines in the wake of a national tragedy, I swear I'm reading something worthy of The Onion.

No, I'm not saying what happened in Boston on Monday is even remotely funny. Hardly. But what kind of a world do we live in when the latest in a series of mind-boggling mass murder incidents involves exploding cookware at a marathon? There's something surreal and illogical about that.

It was just a fun day at an event that draws hundreds of thousands from all around the world. Most of the people who were injured weren't even participating in the event – they were spectators. They were cheering on family and friends who had put themselves through a grueling 26+ mile run.

Now, three of those spectators are dead. A darling 8-year-old boy. A restaurant manager who would have turned 30 next month. A graduate student, 26, from China. And now, about 170 others are beginning another grueling journey, trying to survive the loss of a foot or a leg or another even more catastrophic injury. Some of them probably won't succeed. It's bad enough when we have young soldiers a world away who are similarly damaged or destroyed. But noncombatants – people merely watching a foot race?

We still don't know who did it or why. (After today, it sounds like authorities may be closer.) But whether it was an act of international terrorism or just a local homegrown crackpot, it doesn't really matter. We just need to find them and stop them from inflicting who knows what on God knows who.

There are plenty of theoretical suspects to finger. And sadly, it seems like there always is when something like this happens. The truth is that many times, there really isn't any reason at all. It's random – whatever reason du jour some crazy person chooses to make it.

Why is the hate so strong? The insanity so irretrievably gone off the cliff? If you figure it out, do me a favor and let me know.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

St. Louis in Spring

Wow! Where is April going? Half gone already …

At 3:40 a.m., I was rudely roused by a roll of thunder that jostled my bed like a drunken lover trying to sneak into beside me but failed miserably. Welcome to springtime in St. Louis where hail and strong winds (if not tornados) are the new norm.

Last week, a tornado struck just across the river. No, actually TWO tornados tore through parts of St. Louis. The good news is that no one was killed. I was afraid for a little while that it was going to repeat its path from two years ago where it cut a swath through a neighborhood just a few blocks away! Luckily, that didn't happen.

And, outside lightning, thunder  and the occasional heavy downpour, we've been lucky. But, we've been in severe weather mode since Sunday and it's supposed to last right through Thursday.

The temperatures have been schizophrenic again, too. One day, it's 80 degrees. The next day? We're lucky to get above freezing. I hesitate to complain too much about that, fearing that we'll go straight from 65 to 85 like we did last year. I need that to not happen so we can get back into workin' mode around here!

More later. I've been busy and wanted to check in and say hi. So, "hi!" I'll be back soon with a bit o' commentary on current events. (It seems wrong to complain about some storms at a time when others are plunged into almost unfathomable grief.)

In the meantime, wherever you are, hope you're safe, happy … and the sun is shining.

Monday, April 1, 2013

An Open Letter to the Handyman Club

Caveat emptor, my friends, if you should consider "joining" the Handyman Club as I did.

They put out a nice little magazine. I will give them that. Unfortunately, though, they also like to take advantage of folks with their "how-to" books (and from complaints I saw online, with fees for tools they never deliver). I returned the first book, decided I didn't need any more of them and canceled. Then they sent another one. I sent that one back, too. Only thing is, at the direction of the USPS, I marked it "refused" and turned it in at the post office. BIG MISTAKE. HUGE!

Had I spent $3 or $4 on postage as I did with the first ... my nightmare might have ended. (Of course, they would probably have just sent ANOTHER book.) B*stards. I wrote to them, put notes on my account messages and tried calling them many times. In the end, they siced a collection agency on me. Yeah. It doesn't seem right but they wore me down. I caved.

Despite the date, this is NOT a joke. I mailed this letter with payment last week.

Enclosed is payment for $29.98 for the defrauding organization HANDYMAN CLUB OF AMERICA. Here’s hoping your client chokes on it.

Why? Because they are NOT owed this money.

The item generating this “debt” was returned to them, unopened and REFUSED more than a year ago. A previous item, which WAS opened and for which I paid return postage, was likewise returned at which point the company was told to CANCEL and send nothing further. They ignored this direction.

What your closing line should read is: “This is an attempt to collect on a fraud.” Your client is a sham operation at best. Had I done a better job of checking them out BEFORE joining them, I’d have found that out. Shame on me.

Shame on them for continuing to perpetuate a fraud. This “debt” was from a book that was returned to them in February 2012. It’s a book I should NEVER have received because when I returned the previous book they sent, I had CANCELED!! I followed up with them by phone and in writing multiple times, all to no avail.

I know I sent it back. They know it, too. By now, they’ve probably used this same book to rope in some other poor sucker. Who knows how many times they’ve “sold” that very same book. And now, they’ve used their scam to help your company line its pockets. Shame on you, too.

You are receiving this payment for two reasons: 1) I refuse to let a $30 scam damage my credit and 2) I want your company TO STOP CALLING ME. STOP! Please pay attention as this, along with a canceled check, will prove that our communication is at an end.

You have your damned money, regardless of the fact that you don’t deserve it any more than the dishonest lot you represent. Calling my house multiple times a day and hanging up is not only childish, it’s harassment! CALL ME AGAIN AND I WILL SUE YOU on that point and report you to local authorities.

Hopefully, you listen and comprehend better than your worthless client.