%$#@in’ Spam!!

We all have to deal with spam and junk mail and robo-calls and all sorts of assorted BS in our lives. Junk mail we can just toss out. Spam we can delete, and the robo-calls just hang up on. The first one doesn’t bug much, the latter irritate because spam keeps coming and the calls you have to get up to answer. The spam this post is about is what I get on my blog, that the filter prevents from being posted for everyone to see.

Most are barely coherent “compliments” like this:

It is difficult to acquire knowledgeable folks on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

and this:

This truly answered my issue, thank you!

REALLY?? My photos answered your issue? Get the heck out.

or this:

Have you ever thought about creating an ebook or guest authoring on other websites?
I have a blog based on the same subjects you discuss and would love to have you
share some stories/information. I know my readers would appreciate your work.

“the same subjects you discuss”? No friggin’ way, I’d have you on my bloglist.

But THIS?!

The next time I read a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as considerably as this 1. I mean, I know it was my option to read, but I basically thought youd have some thing fascinating to say. All I hear is really a bunch of whining about something that you simply could fix if you werent too busy searching for attention.

Now I want to beat someone’s ass. Don’t come on my blog, and give me this kind of bullspit. Don’t. Even.

I got something like this almost exactly a year ago. I emailed the owner of the site that was listed with the comment. Big mistake. He had nothing to do with it. Nothing, as an IP check on the hit showed it originated in Poland, not Los Angeles, where he’s located.

So, if anyone out there can educate my ignorant self, what does the spammer gain by sending out crap like this? I don’t get it.

Anyway, I’ll get some pics up in a day or so. I was going to do that now, but this just pissed me off. Thanks for being patient.

Spinnin’ My Wheels

Back in October, I was on my way downtown to the library to pick up some music for my kids, and to stop by Fligner’s for stuff for dinner. I’m on Oberlin Avenue, and I get stopped for the light at Meister. I’m the second car back in the outside lane. While I’m waiting, a bus stops next to me, also waiting for the light to change. Its front end is even with my door. ‘Please don’t let me get stuck behind this bus’, I’m thinking. Light turns green and the first two cars get rolling. I hit the gas and I’m watching the bus in my side mirror. Going through the intersection, I’m ahead of it, but not by much. Traffic’s not moving any faster than the posted limit of 25, partly because the guy in front of me is talking, very animatedly, on his cell phone.

I’m now coming up on the “Merge” sign in front of Sunoco, and I’m looking at the bus in my side mirror, 75% of my truck is ahead of it, with its nose even with my rear wheel well. And she’s inching closer. ‘All you gotta do is tap your breaks, or be the least bit courteous’, I’m thinking, ‘and all is well and good.’ If I stop, the way she’s driving, she’s going to take off my front end. The guy in front of me is still jawing on his cell phone, waving his arms and looking like he’s trying to fly. WTH?

Suddenly, the back end of my truck is lifted up and bounced. I look at my side mirror and that damn driver decided she was going to be a -itch. I pull over on W. 29th St to call the police and inspect the damage. My left rear wheel well is peeled back like a can opener went at it. The officer arrives, takes some pics, passes out paperwork for everyone to fill out, and informs me he’ll be in touch.

Almost a week later, I stop by City Hall to pick up a copy of the accident report, and find I’m cited for a moving violation: failure to use caution when changing lanes. What a crock. I ask for the officer and we talk. He says it was difficult for the prosecutor to come to a decision because the vehicles were moved (I couldn’t sit there and block traffic waiting for a cop, I mean, come on! Oberlin Avenue northbound blocked just north of Meister Road? That’s a disaster waiting to happen.)

So he explains a couple things to me, and I complain about the HUGE LIE the bus driver, Ms. T. Nelson, wrote on her report: “truck came and tried to beat us at the merge and he side swiped us.” He smiles and explains how I can fight the citation.

I wait weeks for the envelope in the mail, and find my court date falls in the middle of a set of night shifts. Great. I come home that morning from work, sleep a little more than 2 hours, and get up and go to court. Pleading ‘not guilty’, I get ANOTHER court date. What the hell? Really? I have to come back? Asking for a date as soon as possible, I leave and try to go back to sleep. What a pain.

Monday, December 10th, I show up at 9am, for a 9:30 bench trial with Judge Mihok. At 10:15, I’m still waiting when an INTERN comes and asks to speak to me outside the courtroom. He offers a $75 fine in lieu of a trial. Excuse me, but are you telling me I don’t have a chance? $75 now, or I run the risk of a $150 fine if the judge finds me guilty and, in a roundabout way, informs me that the judge tends to lean towards buses with kids on them in cases like these. (What a crock of $hit!) So, my choice is to pay $75 OR roll a set of dice where the only outcome is snake eyes, and pay $150. (For two weeks, I’ve been going over in my head what I would say in court, and suddenly find that I’d have a better chance of winning if I talked to the fish in Lake Erie.) Screw it. Christmas is coming, bills to pay, $75 beats $150 for a fine any day of the week.

A few minutes later, a woman comes to take me to the Clerk’s office to pay my fine. $75 plus court costs. Whoa!!! Court costs? What are court costs? (I didn’t get to say Jack Squat in court except ‘not guilty’ and “as soon as possible” and I have to pay COURT COSTS???) She says she doesn’t know and that I can set up a payment plan, if necessary.

To say that I’m steamed right now would be a disservice to clams and oysters everywhere. $125 in court costs. And I didn’t even get a chance to defend myself. What a crock of crap. Asking for a receipt (after I found out there would be an extra $25? $50? per payment if I couldn’t pay in full right now), I look at the listing for “court costs”.

Court costs are $43.50. Miscellaneous costs are $76.50. Here’s the breakdown, and if anyone knows what any of these abbreviations are, please feel free to fill me in.

Local cost – 6.50
Legal Res – 3.00
Comp Fund -10.00
Comp Imp – 5.00
Victim Cr – 9.00
JA – 5.00
SEC -17.75
PRLC -13.75
DEFC – 3.50
IATC – 1.50
IDFC -25.00
.SPE -10.00

So, thanks, City of Lorain and its related court system, for my due process. Get screwed, or get screwed harder. Wow, what a choice!

I’d also like to thank Ms. T. Nelson, driver for First Student Charters, for lying because you were too damn rude, lacking in courtesy, and too irresponsible to admit fault, or to even avoid this whole mess by TAPPING YOUR BRAKES so I could go on my way. And thank whomever you brought with you on the 10th to “vouch for” you, or to ‘bear witness” for you. Don’t know if it was Megan, Claude, Charity, Sarah, Victor, Kenneth, Yesenia, Cory, Mark, Teauna, Marrella or Kevin (all aged 26+), but it’s pretty pathetic (though why should I expect otherwise?) to bring in your friends to lie for you, too. In time, I’ll forgive you for being that kind of person, but it won’t be right now. Not until long after I lay out a few more hundred bucks to fix my truck.

And for the record, I drove a bus for 4 years for the University of Toledo, and for another 3-4 months for Elyria City Schools. I KNOW what it’s like, I’ve seen the way drivers cut in front of buses, and what it takes to stop a bus, how easy it is to be courteous and everything else that’s involved with being behind the wheel of one.

I also know how to drive responsibly, since in my almost 30 years of driving, this is the FIRST ACCIDENT I’VE HAD.

I also know how to tell the truth. My sincerest condolences on your lack of a conscience.

UPDATE: I just received a phone call from my insurance company informing me that some scumbag SOB on the bus has retained an attorney, claiming they were injured. Are you flipping KIDDING ME?! MY truck was LIFTED off the ground by the bus, and someone on the BUS was injured? I hope the judge slaps the snot out of this person. Lorain, you have achieved a whole new low.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Received a follow-up call from my agent. She assured me that this happens all the time, and not to sweat it. She informed me that at the time of the accident, the passengers on the bus, as well as the driver, told the police officer that no one was injured. Hope this person gets -itch-slapped by the court. Someone tell me how much impact my 4200# truck would have made by being sideswiped by a 24,000# bus?  Traveling at 25 mph??

Carry Your Cross

Recently, one of my blogger-buddies  sent an email about playing the hand that’s been dealt to you in life. Something to that effect. The discussion reminded me of a story I’d read years ago, that was intended to make you think about what you’re coping with in life, compared to the burdens that others have that you may not know about. This story is similar to it(in the story I saw, the man prayed to God and it was Jesus that took him to the Cross room), and close enough to get the message across. I found the following narrative here, by K.A. Phinney.

Carry Your Cross

There once was a man who was feeling very, very overwhelmed with his life and his division of burdens. He was consumed by the thoughts that his burdens were too heavy, too large, and too difficult for him to carry, and he was very upset with God for giving him a cross that he just couldn’t possibly bear.

At night, he’d tell God, “God, I can’t possible carry this cross anymore! My burdens are too much, too heavy, too large. It’s just too difficult for me, God. And I’m tired.”

And then he would wait and wait, but God just didn’t answer.

So the next day, the man was grumbling and waiting for his bus on the park bench when he overheard a woman explaining to her friend that there was a cross shop that specialized in burden replacement just around the corner. The man couldn’t believe his ears.

“Finally!” he thought. “If God doesn’t want to free me from my burdens, then I will.” So off to the cross shop he trekked, leaving the two chatting woman and the bus stop behind.

When he entered the shop, a friendly elderly man greeted him.

“Hello, Son. Can I help you?”

“Well, yes,” the burdened man replied. “This here cross I am carrying is too much for me to handle. It’s too heavy and too large. I hear you can help me with replacing it…”

“Well, of course I can. Just turn in your cross up here at the return counter, and then take a look around to find a new cross that you feel is just right for you. When you find it, bring it on up to the check out, and I’ll get you on your way.”

“That’s all?” the man thought to himself. So he left his cross with the elderly man and ventured through the aisles of the shop. Here and there, he would pause to closely examine a cross that caught his eye. One was flashy but much heavier than his last cross. Others felt lighter but were much too large, while others were both larger and heavier than the one he brought in to be rid of. So on and on it went like this until he noticed a cross hanging on the front wall he hadn’t noticed before.

He approached the cross and took it down from the wall. Compared to the others, it seemed lighter and smaller, although he couldn’t be sure. He inspected it carefully, practiced carrying around the burden in the shop, and finally determined it would do.

At the counter, the old man watched and waited patiently. “Do you think you found the cross for you?”

“Yes, I think I have. Of all the crosses in your store, I think I can deal with this one best.”

“Are you sure?” the old man asked.

“Why, yes. It’s the only one that seems to fit with what I can handle.”

The old man gave a knowing nod and smiled. He leaned over the counter and looked his patron in the eyes. “Son,” he said, “the cross in your hands now is the very one you came in with.”

About 10 years ago, I made the mistake of trusting a family member and another with some money and some investments. Huge mistake. Mega. Not only were they too stupid to know what they were doing, they were greedy and friggin’ liars to boot. I found myself in a pit that was almost too deep to get out of. Mom sent me an email while I was looking for handholds to climb out of my hole, two simple phrases:

“If He led you to it, He’ll lead you through it.”

Since then, I’ve worn a cross in my ear, a “Thank You!” for His helping me through that situation. Not only did I get out of that pit, but I filled it in and am much more aware of other hazards out there.  The scar remains, and there are very few people that I will trust. (Reminds me of a line in the movie “Con Air”. Nicolas Cage’s character says, “There’s only two people that I trust. One of ’ems me, the other one’s not you.”)

10 Rules for Dating My Daughter

I’ve had this for quite a while, and now that my daughter is older, and will be dating soon, I thought it appropriate to dig it out.

Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk you’d better be delivering a package, because you’re sure not picking anything up.

Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter’s body, I will remove them. 

Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don’t take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, in order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.

Rule Four: I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilizing a “barrier method” of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate, when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.

Rule Five: It is usually understood that in order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is “early.”

Rule Six: I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.

Rule Seven: As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process that can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don’t you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?

Rule Eight: The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there are no parents, policemen, or nuns within eyesight. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka – zipped up to her throat. Movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies which features chain saws are okay. Hockey games are okay. Old folks homes are better.

Rule Nine:Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a slightly overweight, grey haired, middle-aged, has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.  

Rule Ten:Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy near Hanoi. When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car – there is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine.

Customer Service is Disappearing…

…but it’s definitely gone at a number of places.

In my opinion, every teen should work in some sort of customer service position in order to learn how to politely deal with the public. Wait tables, work in retail, someplace where interaction with the buying public has to happen, where being personable, agreeable, cooperative and RESPECTFUL are necessary in order to keep your job. Knowing that your job hangs on how you treat and talk to people will make a person very patient and cooperative. Getting back to using “Sir”, “Ma’am”, and “Miss” are also necessary. This is one trait everyone needs to get anywhere in life. Just be polite. Too bad some folks get jobs in customer service and completely LACK this skill.

Tonight was my breaking point. This post has been brewing for a few weeks, and I’ve been trying NOT to have to write it, but I came face to face with the employee that pushed me over the edge. I was coming home from work when my Mrs. called, and asked if I’d pick up some Taco Bell for everyone for dinner. I pulled over, took the order and drove to the Taco Bell in Amherst. When I got there the drive-thru was backed up, so I went inside. When my turn came I stepped up to the register to be glared at by Katharine. And I do mean glared.  As if she would rather be anywhere than where she was at that moment in time. I stared back at her, solemn face, waiting for “Hi, welcome to Taco Bell, may I take your order?”, but it never came. I met her gaze for about 5 seconds, and then smiled and said “Hi!”

Nothing. If she’d have smiled, her face would have shattered into 1000 pieces. I gave my order and paid, and stepped back to wait. She did the ‘glare’ thing with the next 4 sets of customers that came in. Not once did she say Hi, or Welcome, or anything. She stood at the register and glared at each customer as they stepped up and began to giving their orders.

Customer Service? Gone.

A month ago, I picked up my kids from baseball and softball practice. I’d been busy all day and didn’t have a chance to cook. Not wanting to do fast food, I offered KFC’s Fire Grilled Chicken. It was a plan and there we drove. I ordered a bucket of the chicken, and was told that it would be 17 minutes before it would be ready. This was at 5:10pm, and there was two other couples in the restaurant. Thanks, but I’m not waiting that long.  We went to Subway. (Very good service at Subway, by the way. All the time.)

A little over two weeks ago, I got Kristen from practice, and offered KFC again. I’d get her the 2-piece meal this time. I order, pay the $5.12, and step back and wait for the grilled chicken breast and wing, and the rest of the meal. After 5 minutes, one of the employees comes to the counter and says they don’t have any breasts, would I like a leg or thigh? I said, ‘Forget it. I want my money back. How can you advertise grilled chicken yet never have any ready?!’ So the manager (Lanisha? Latisha?) comes out with this bent-out-of-shape look and I’m asking how you can have Fire Grilled Chicken on the menu, yet never have enough to fill an order. She ignores me and starts digging through the drawer to count out $5.12. I told her, No, here’s the $14.88, I want my 20-dollar bill back. I lean over the counter as far as I can and, since she won’t take the money from my hand, drop it on the counter. NOW, she’s gonna talk and she starts getting loud about how I don’t have to ‘throw the money.’ (Now it’s all about the money.) And we go back and forth until I tell her if I’d thrown it, it’d be on the floor. ‘Well, you don’t have to be rude and throw your money and…etc.’ I told her if you’d run this restaurant the way it’s supposed to be run, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. ‘I know how to run a restaurant, blah-blah-blah.’ I told her if she did, I’d have my chicken. ‘Have a nice day, sir!!’  She turns around and walks away. (I filled out the online survey that’s listed on the receipt, and the next day a manager called, and my Mrs. asked him to call back in 15 minutes, I’d be back then. Never called back again.)

Customer service? Is there an antonym or opposite of customer service?? This was it.

Then there’s Marc’s at the Sheffield Center. I try to go in there as little as possible because the cashiers are slower than molasses in January. On two different occasions, I was in the mood for popcorn. First time, I went to the counter while the general manager was there. I waited while he opened and shut a number of drawers, grabbed some papers, he turned around and looked at me, and then stepped out of the booth and walked away. What? Fine, I’m gone.

The next time I was there, I bought my few things, and thought, Now I’ll get my popcorn. This older woman was leaning on the counter, watching everyone walk by, nobody to wait on. I stepped up, asked ‘Could I have a large popcorn, please?’ She looked me right in the eye, and said, “No.” I said, “Ok, fine,” and turned and walked away. She started calling “Sir? Sir?” I kept going. Keep your flippin’ popcorn.

Saturday, my Mrs. is there buying bottled soda and Powerade. The Powerade is on sale, ‘Buy 10, Get 5 Free, coupon at checkout’. So she stocks up and goes to the checkout. The cashier says she doesn’t have any coupons. My wife says, So I can’t get it? The cashier says (politely), ‘I can’t give you the five free without the coupon to scan.’ The manager is at the next register, and says (rather sharply), ‘If there’s no coupons, we can’t give you the discount.’ My wife replies, ‘You’ve got signs around the store that are advertising this price.’ The manager replies,’So?’ Mary replies, ‘You have to honor the advertisement and give me the Powerade at that price.’ To which the manager says, ‘I don’t have to give you anything.’ This goes back and forth again until another cashier says, ‘I’ve got a coupon here.’ The manager turns around and says (sarcastically), ‘Well, I guess you’ll get your Powerade.’ Mary asks, ‘That’s fine for me, but what about the next person that sees the signs and wants that price?’ ‘Don’t you worry about them, you’ll get yours and that’s all you have to worry about.’ When Mary tried to reply, the manager told her to ‘Have a nice day!!’ and wouldn’t say anything else.

Customer service? LMAO Are you kidding??

When I was managing with Chi-Chi’s many years ago, we’d tell the employees, Guests will leave here, and if they’ve had a good experience, they’ll (on average) tell about five people. If they’ve had a bad experience, they will tell TEN. So be sure to make your guests happy before they leave, or get me so that I can make things right.

I did my job then, but it seems no one is doing their’s these days.

Ask, And Ye Probably Will Receive….

I enjoy photography. A lot. I wouldn’t spend the time and money that I do if I didn’t. And though I don’t get many comments on here (I don’t expect anyone to keep coming here and saying “Nice shot!” day in and day out), my pats on the back come via the info I get on my sitemeter reports. I see the same IP addresses regularly, and multiple page views, and lots of time spent paging through the posts I’ve made. Added smiles come when I see referrals by way of emails. The referring link shows as a gmail or hotmail account, which tells me someone said, “Hey! Check this out!” So, to those of you that like what I’ve done enough to spread it around, to those that keep coming back, and to those that post to forums with a link to here, I say

Thank you very much.” 

I don’t get paid for this. It is a labor of love, and I pay for the domain name, the server service, and the flickr account in order to have an outlet for this. The only thing I ask, is that you ask me before you use one of my photos for your personal use, or to promote something. There is one person that I can think of that has been granted carte blanche to any and all of my photos, and she knows who she is. She has helped me more by way of sending traffic and “gigs” my way than I can even begin to explain. (I did get paid from a certain “business” for services rendered, and I am always grateful for the “gigs” they provide and the interaction we have.”

That being said, if there is something of mine that you would like to use, for an ad, a feature, to help promote a cause, all you have to do is ask. 99.9% of the time, I’m gonna say, “Sure!!” I reserve that .1% for those things that go against my beliefs. I have seen my photos go out sans credit in a local newspaper, in a local organization’s emails, for get-togethers and causes, and I’ve seen local photographers duplicate my work and then get credit for it, without even so much as a reference for the inspiration.

So, before those of you that like what you see ‘borrow’ something for whatever reason, please be so kind as to ask first. It’s a pat on the back to me that you found something that will help your cause, and chances are, I’ll even post something here to help get the word out.

Thanks,

Mark J. Teleha (heneryhawk1@yahoo.com)

 

Oh, To Go Back….

I was up at Campana Park a month ago, to shoot pics of the players for Lorain Youth Baseball, and because my daughter wanted to cheer on her team from last year.  As we got to the Park, we weren’t sure how long we’d be able to stay because the sky was not looking friendly at all.

So, with an eye to the sky, and on the field where my daughter was watching, I proceeded to catch action shots of the young players.

While I’m going field to field, in between innings to make the most of my time, I happen upon this young girl who is oblivious of the impending storm, or anything else for that matter.

She cares not where her parents are, nor that she’s soaked head-to-toe in filthy water. She isn’t concerned that someone is going to be very upset when it’s time to leave and she’s going to have to sit on a car seat in the condition she’s in.

She is simply ‘having fun!’ Fun because the water is cool, and the air is warm and moist. Fun because it’s neat to see how high you can get the water to splash when you jump into it.

It’s fun in her little world because she can be whatever her little imagination conjures up, and go to magical places kids dream of, without having to worry about big-people words like ‘responsibility’ and ‘obligation’.

Oh, to go back there sometimes…..