A Twist In The Wind On A Friday Afternoon

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It was a typical Friday here – until a little after 3pm. I heard the EAS go off on my cell phone for only the second time since I have owned it (the first being throughout Hurricane Irma last year), but this caught my attention instantaneously. My area was under a Tornado Warning.

Even with some strong summertime thunderstorms, we’re lucky to get one such warning a year – although five years ago during a summer storm in June 2013, our neighboorhood had a microburst with no warning. I was aware a front was passing through the Tampa Bay area – I just wasn’t expecting it to be this strong. I turned on the local TV stations, who were already on the air tracking the front.

One of my neighbors was gathering up loose objects from their yard – I counseled the neighbor to cease immediately. Their intentions were good, I suppose – but with tornadoes, every second does count. Better things go flying than the people themselves, right? I knew the front was moving very quickly through the area, and the moments being used up might wind up being moments they didn’t have, so I saw and said something.

During the warning, I get a call from Pinellas County emergency management – warning as of the tornado alert. I did withstand the temptation to pick up the phone and angrily say, “I KNOW!!!” I get that not everyone has a cell phone and could get the EAS signal, but at the same time – they could be calling someone who needs to stay hunkered down, which seems to me as being counterproductive.

The tornado threat passed without damage where I live, though Seminole, a town directly west of here, had a touch down that knocked down trees on the busier roadways and caused a roof of a condo to collapse. Had the tornado stayed on the ground longer, it might have been a close call for us – lucky, it wasn’t.

A Blast From The Past

This is one of the earliest (but not the earliest) videos I’ve ever shot for YouTube. I noticed, one day back in 2007, a thunderstorm approaching the house – so I conducted an experiment to see if I could get the footage on a digital camera I was using.

I was lucky to catch a lighting bolt landing just north of me – but overall, it was a foolish effort.

20 Items Or Less: Here We Go Again

Believe it or not, it happened again.

A trip to Walmart earlier in 2017.

I was at the local Walmart here in Pinellas Park on Saturday, and I didn’t have a lot to get. I’m getting near the end of my hunt, and I’m counting items.

At the end, my count is at 19, or so I think. Perfect! I can get at the “20 items or less” lane and likely save some time. The Walmart employees have given me guff last year about using the automated checkout, the only problem was every time they dinged me, they were wrong.

Surely in a lane with a cashier, they wouldn’t do this again. But they did. And I was wrong. I didn’t have 19 items. I had 20. The horror and sacrilege!!!

This cashier also didn’t like the fact that I was correct. Every time I tried to grab a plastic bag from the rotating tray, she’d spin it around on me. Then she tried to shoo me without giving me a receipt, but I demanded it.

She told me she was sorry, flashing me a fake smile.

I shot back, “No argument from me.”

And so, the persecution of 20-item shoppers or thereabouts goes on. If it happens again, I think I have a good idea what to do, but I’ll save that for another post some time in the future.

Aircheck: WYOU, 6/1/1969

I’ve been looking back at some Florida radio history every other Sunday recently, and this week, it’s an aircheck from WYOU radio, 1550 on the AM dial from Sunday, June 1st, 1969. Now a days, 1550 is WAMA, a Spanish language sports talk radio station.

There’s an ad in this aircheck for the Joyland country night club in St. Petersburg, which presently is part of the city of Pinellas Park, and isn’t too far from where I live off of US 19.

The country music sounds totally different from what it sounds like these days, and the station even has a gospel hymn playing every hour, as many country artists of the era would often perform gospel songs, the most famous of which may have been Johnny Cash.

Worth a listen.

20 Items Or More

It was another trip to Walmart on an early Wednesday morning, getting to the store just before sunrise at 6:30.

Why do I always talk about my Walmart trips? They’re like snowflakes. No one trip to the store, no matter what the hour, is like any other trip to Wally World. Each trip is like its own individual experience. I might get the same thing every time I go, but the list is never same. The impulse buys are never the same either, as they are masters of placing something in the store, it’s mere location setting off some kind of psychological enticement, kind of like how Facebook plays games with your head.

The store I visit in Pinellas Park made a major change if you pay by debit card, as I often do. You no longer swipe your card in the slot of the right side of the card machine. It recognizes if you have a chip in your debit card (mine does), so doing things the old familiar way can’t be done. You have to stick your card in the slot in the bottom of the machine, which is how most stores do business these days. I find it a bit of a pain, but it’s one of those things done for security purposes.

I went to checkout this morning, and I was pleased to see that unlike my last blog entry a few weeks back, they had a register open that wasn’t restricted to 20 items or less. Not only that, they had a lady at the register AND a lady who bagged the groceries for me, as I was the only one in line. While that’s good in some respects, it keeps me busy most of the time because you’re putting things on the moving counter AND you usually have to bag things quickly after all of that effort.

When I go early and amble out of Walmart, I sometimes notice I’ve worked up a tiny bit of sweat. With summer time near, maybe I should just go at more normal times.

Harry And The Lawn Proletariat

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People who don’t like Mondays probably wouldn’t like my complex here in Pinellas Park.

A couple of years ago, a welcome change was made. Instead of the complex having lawn workers doing their bidding on Fridays (every other week from October to April, every week in the summer), they moved their worked to Mondays. This seems to work out a lot better for us, because we get a lot of rain in the summertime. That means instead of having our Saturdays at risk (which really isn’t fair to us, since we don’t control the weather), they just come during the next available weekday.

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My cat Harry, like many other cats, has an aversion to sharp noises.

(For those of you new to the blog, I’ve known Harry since Christmas of 2008, taken care of him on and off since 2010, and permanently since early 2015. He’s a tabby, and will turn eight on July 4th. That will make him, in human terms, 48 years old…and I’ve known Harry since he was nearly a babe.)

When the lawn people come, cutting the grass and whacking out of shape weeds, Harry usually makes a bee line for under my bed or under a reclining chair in the enclosed patio if I’m not home. Not even catnip flavored Temptation treats (his favorite) can coax him out once he sets up camp in either place.

By noon, maybe 1pm at the outside, it’s all over with. If I’m home, I usually give Harry a treat for surviving the “ordeal” and life returns to normal.

Until the following Monday..

Technical Difficulties At Taco Bell

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My love of Taco Bell goes back to 1984, when I was introduced to the restaurant (that had just opened up in southwest Largo) by my Dad, who brought home some Nachos BellGrande for us to snack on. It was the night of my last day of school for the calendar year, December 21st, 1984. Dad wanted to watch the BYU-Michigan Holiday Bowl that would likely give the Cougars the national college football title if they won. (Brigham Young did win the bowl game, and the title was theirs a couple of weeks later. Yes, this is how I remember things, cross-referencing them televised to sporting events.)

There was also a Taco Bell at the time by Largo High School, at the corner of Missouri Avenue and West Bay Drive, which is now a CVS Pharmacy. This was more a less my social hangout back then if hanging around school was an option. If I went to a football game in the fall or a soccer game in the winter, I’d stop in at “The Bell” and get a bite to eat beforehand, or bring it to the stadium with me, which made me look like a glutton to everybody. And yes, my food of choice was usually a Nachos Bellgrande, with plenty of napkins.

I hadn’t eaten at a Taco Bell since my trip to Orlando in April of 2014 at the Florida Mall, which connects to the Florida Hotel I was staying at. There had been allegations in recent years that the beef the fast food chain uses is actually horse meat, and that soured me on them for a while.

A couple of days ago, I thought I’d pay the Taco Bell in Pinellas Park a visit, as they’re about a 15 minute drive from where I live. Before leaving, I checked their online menu to see if anything had changed, and a lot had. According to the site, you can now order what you want online, then go to the store and get it, kind of like Papa John’s except you travel to their store, they don’t travel to you. As a bonus, they had an offer where if you buy $10 or more, they’d knock $2 off the price.

I was suspicious that a fast food chain could do this, so I brought my patience with me when I bellied up to the drive-thru. Sure enough, when I explained I had ordered online, I can hear the hesitation in their voices right away. The online order had never reached them.

I asked, handing my printout over to them: “Well, can I give you the order to make? I have cash on me.”

They agreed, with the general manager, a redhead I’d guess to be in her mid-20’s, explaining to me that next time I should just come in to place the order, and not do so online. I could appreciate her position, and we were both nice about it all, but…HUH?

Back when I lived in Marietta, Georgia in 1996, they had a Taco Bell off of Cobb Parkway where you pushed buttons on a computer monitor to get the food you want, kind of a higher-tech automat. At my local Taco Bell 19 years and change later, they can’t even accept an online order?

Is technology making progress go forward, or is it making it go backward?