This 'n' That

Delang, Nicki          Nicky DeLange

You probably receive catalogs in the mail all year round. These mailings offer everything under the sun for sale. Some of the items they have for sale are actually the perfect solution to all sorts of pesky problems around the house.
I also find them useful for providing ideas for me so that I can rig up my own home-made gadget or gizmo to do the same thing, and it doesn’t cost me anything. This is why I take the time to browse through the pages of these direct-advertising attempts to part me from my hard-earned cash.
But sometimes I find items in those pages that defy all logic. These are things offered for sale that defy common sense. I find myself wondering: “Who thought that was a really good idea?”
I mean, seriously, did people actually sit through a presentation on this object and actually say: “Hey, that’s a great concept. We really need to market it!”
For example, I recently received an ad touting felt separators – “the safe way to stack fine cookware and china”. For only $4 (thanks to a special sale), I could have 14 of these fancy felt treasures to protect my dishes, pot and pans.
My answer? Two words: paper plates.
You can buy a pack of 100 paper plates for between $1-$2 at any dollar-store emporium. Do the math – 14 felt separators for $4, or 100 paper separators for no more than $2. Trust me, your dishes and cookware don’t care which you use.
Next up for grabs has got to be the dumbest idea I’ve run across in years. For only $4 you can purchase a drinking-straw cleaning brush. Wow! Now you can “reuse drinking straws without worrying about what may be lurking inside”.
I don’t know who scares me more – the person who thought up this idea or the person singing its praises in the ad.
Have you found yourself lying awake at night worrying about what lurks in your straws? For that matter, who reuses drinking straws in the first place? Again, straws are an inexpensive item available in all kinds of discount stores. Do you seriously plan to stick this over-priced cleaning brush into your super-cheap straw and scrub vigorously? It’s not only a waste of money; it’s a bigger waste of time.
But here’s my favorite “bargain”. It’s beyond silly. It may have moved into the Twilight Zone.
It’s the amazing Telescoping Fly Swatter. It’s advertised as the perfect answer to the question: “What do you do with that long-handled swatter when not in use?”
Now there’s a question that’s obviously keeping folks tossing and turning in their beds, worrying all night. Who knows what that swatter might be up to when you’re not using it?
But, for $4, you can
get a brand-new swatter that “stores out of sight
’til needed!”
Honestly. That’s a direct quote from the ad.
The ad goes on to describe leaving the swatter hanging from a hook on full display as “nasty”. Really? How did generations of fly-swatter owners manage to survive with their swatters out where anyone could see them? It’s mind-blowing.
That’s why you need this nifty one that telescopes to just 10¼ inches.
My own swatter is 22 inches long. No one has ever shuddered when they saw it tucked between a large appliance and a cabinet. And I’ve whacked quite a few flies with it over the many years I’ve owned it.
Some of those catalog publishers need to take a chill pill and get a reality check. We obviously live on different planets.
Thank goodness.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki            Nicky De Lange

Recently my next-door neighbor told my husband about some great music channels that are included in our cable television choices. I was amazed. I had no idea we had anything higher up than channel 100. We only have extended basic coverage, which means we’re given a fair number of choices, a lot of them substandard in my opinion.
My spouse immediately checked out this new information and was delighted to find channels in the 800 range offering everything from rock ’n’ roll to classical music. As I don’t turn the TV on much in daytime hours, I greeted this announcement with a not-too-thrilled “Oh, that’s nice”.
But eventually I strolled into our family room when the rock ’n’ roll channel 830 – Solid Gold Oldies – was playing. I took the time to listen to some favorite tunes from my teenage years.
These weren’t videos – they came along in the 1980s, I think. The screen just announced the song being played, the year it debuted and info about the singer or group performing it, and displayed silent ads up in the right-hand corner. I rocked out happily with Connie Francis, Chubby Checker and Ricky Nelson.
Then the problem occurred.
The first ad was for one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” gadgets. You know, the ones senior citizens wear around their necks in case they fall or suffer a heart attack or stroke and need help. I just vaguely registered that this commercial was up in the corner of the screen.
A few minutes later, I noticed a different ad appear on screen. It was some sort of senior-life care plan. That got my attention.
Now alerted, I started jotting down the next few commercial pitches: knee and back pain, reverse mortgages and how to understand the new health-care program, just to name a few.
By now I was practically squawking with indignation.
“This is downright insulting,” I heatedly informed my husband. “They’re playing OUR music but they’re running old-geezer commercials!”
“We’re baby boomers,” I spluttered. “We aren’t over the hill. Who do they think they’re marketing to on this channel? Old people?”
By this time, my husband was finding my ranting and raving highly amusing. Not me, though.
If you accept this method of defining senior citizenship, do you know who else falls into that group? Let  me name just a few for you.
Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Gene Simmons, the Beach Boys and my personal fave, Kinky Friedman, just for starters.
Really – the Rolling Stones and KISS are geezers? Try telling them that. (Be sure to speak loudly, though; all those years playing in a rock band are tough on the ability to hear well.)
All in all, I guess I should consider myself lucky. No advertisements for denture cream or adult diapers ran during the time I watched Solid Gold Oldies.
I think I’ll stick with my preferred TV viewing, though. You can’t beat Hoarders: Buried Alive, Survivor, My 600-Pound Life or The Walking Dead. Now that’s entertainment that they don’t pitch to senior citizens. Way too scary for the Over The Hill Gang…

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

I was thinking recently about how we live in such a technological society these days and how something that is cutting edge one day quickly becomes outdated the next.
I remember when battery-operated, hand-held calculators seemed so advanced. Suddenly we could do all sorts of amazing mathematical calculations on these little gadgets that fit in the palm of our hands.
Wow! Just about anyone could afford one of these. This was high-tech stuff indeed.
Somewhere around that time, everyone and his brother started having CB radios installed in their vehicles, pictured above right. Each CB owner had to have a “handle”, which was like an identifying name. Some were straightforward, and some were just plain funny. Almost overnight we all became truckers.
Except me. By the time I got around to considering installing a CB of my own, the fad seemed to be over. Make that “Over and out”.
In the late 1980s, car phones appeared on the scene. These weren’t cell phones – that was still a good way off.
Car phones had to be installed in a vehicle and that wasn’t cheap. Neither were the phones. I remember because we gave our son one for his birthday, with the understanding that he was responsible for the monthly bill for this gift.
I have to admit there were some advantages to our son having a car phone. If he was going to be coming home late, he had no excuse for not calling to let us know. Even better, if he didn’t call, I needn’t hesitate to call him. And a few times I did just that.
Occasionally, I had to borrow his car. There I was, the typical soccer mom, cruising Palmer Highway in Texas City in a red Camaro, calling up my friends. And that, as they now say, was just how I rolled. Literally.
But, several years later, cell phones appeared on the scene and car phones were out of date – so yesterday! Remember how big those first cell phones were? But we all thought they were the greatest invention since sliced bread. We were no longer tethered to our car if we wanted to make a call while away from home.
The new cellular phones were much cheaper that those built-in car phones and could be used anywhere there was a cell tower. Who cared how clunky they were?
All you could do with them at that time was make telephone calls, but who cared? We were once again using cutting-edge technology. Right up until the smart phones came out.
Now we have iPhones and droid phones. You can get directions to where you’re going, text other folks, take photos, check the internet and talk to Siri – or whoever your phone’s computer is. You can send e-mails, check the weather or the stock market, play games and – are you ready for this one? – use the built-in calculator!
That’s right. We are right back to a hand-held calculator just like we had in the 1980s. But, this time, it comes with all sorts of bells and whistles and costs a bunch of money. Progress can be a mixed blessing.
Contact Nicky De Lange at info@thepostnewspaper.net.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

Coming home from vacation with a few souvenirs is nothing unusual. Unless the souvenirs aren’t your run-of-the-mill remembrances of a visit to some tourist spot. That best describes what I brought home from our trip to New Orleans last week.
I came home with four stitches above my left eye, some bruises and an impending shiner.
Did this really happen? Would I make up a story like this? I don’t have that much imagination.
The worst part of this tale was that it happened in the French quarter. We’d gone to Café du Monde on Saturday morning with our son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.
We had a wonderful time scarfing down beignets with tons of powdered sugar, then wandered around the quarter. Finally, we parted company to head for the parking lots where we’d left our vehicles.
Just as my spouse and I were a few feet from the lot, I tripped over my own feet (graceful as ever) and slammed head first into the sidewalk. It must have been a spectacular sight because, by the time I tried to sit up, a crowd had gathered.
I tried to brush off all the kind concern I was receiving, saying I was just fine. But when I put my hand up to my face and it came away covered in blood, I knew I had a slight problem. And I was extremely embarrassed.
I hate to admit it but my first thought was: “Oh, no, they’ll think I fell down because I’m old!” (I’m not really old, but you know how people think anyone over 60 has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.)
My second, equally horrifying thought was: “They’ll think I’m drunk!” Remember this happened in the French quarter.
I have to admit I was more worried that people would think I was old than that they’d think I was drunk. Shallow? You betcha. And also vain.

10977-band-aid-sticker-s
A kind lady, a nurse, stopped, helped mop me up and bandaged my head. Then I overheard a bystander ask: “Should I call an ambulance?”
To my horror, I heard myself say: “Do you know what an ambulance costs???” (Heaven forbid I have to pay $1,000 for a ride to the ER!)
My spouse and the nurse’s husband got me on my feet. The nurse said I really needed to have “that gash” on my face looked at.
Gash? Oh, wonderful. And on a summer Saturday in New Orleans? Good luck with that.
My husband spent the next half hour insisting I go to the ER and off we went on our quest. We drove all over before going to his sister’s house for directions.
I have to say that was the best ER care I’ve ever gotten. A few minutes’ wait and four pages of forms later, I had a terrific doctor saying: “Yes, you really do need stitches.”
A little lidocaine, some skillful sewing and one tetanus shot later, we  headed back to have dinner with family.
Because our grandkids (18 months and three years old) would be there, I got the clinic to put a brightly colored band-aid over my stitches so they wouldn’t think Nana was seriously hurt.
I got to choose between Tweety Bird and hot pink. I’ve never liked that annoying bird, so I opted for pink.
Did I mention it went with my shirt very nicely? I know how to accessorize.
So, if you see me looking like I’ve been in a fight, just remember that I won, not the sidewalk.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

As promised last week, today’s column will wrap up our tour of Texas City’s Moore Memorial library and its 2015 summer reading program.
This year, the library is opening a brand-new, first-time-ever program for adults. Finally, we get to join in on the fun that the kids have been having for decades.
All you have to do is drop by the library, which is next to city hall on Ninth Avenue, and go to the reference desk. There you’ll pick up your summer reading log.
The rest is easy. You just jot down the title of the books you read and the number of hours you spend reading them.
When you’ve completed your personal log, you just turn it in, and the library will post a circle with your initials in it on its Sir-Read-A-Lot board, which is next to its reference desk. What better way to enjoy some good books and inspire younger readers to do the same?
And, yes, I have got my log and intend to do exactly that.
Now for the really fun part of the adult reading program. Or, as I love to say, “But wait – there’s more!”
This summer, the library, above right, is challenging adult readers to find out more about the history of their city. All you have to do is use information you can access from the library’s local-history websites to navigate through an online scavenger hunt.
By tracking down clues, you’ll learn more about Texas City’s history and you could even win a free book when you complete your hunt. The book is Texas City: Images Of The 20th Century by Collier Campbell & Susie Moncla.

Moore Library front Photo by Michael Durisseau

Did I mention that this and all the other Moore Memorial summer reading programs are free?
For more information on any of the programs, call the library’s circulation desk at 409-643-5977.
Now, I bet you thought we were through at  the library. Not so fast there.
Do you know about Texas City Reads? Like Galveston and other cities, Texas City has its own citizens’ reading program and its book for 2015 is The Martian by Andy Weir. It’s the story of one man marooned on Mars, struggling against astronomical odds to survive.
Weir, a first-time author, originally self-published his work as an e-book, putting each chapter up on his website at no charge to tits readers. He finally sold it for 99 cents a book on Amazon.com.
The book sold more than 30,000 copies in less than three months. After that, it was sold in several formats in an expanded version. Eventually, in 2014, The Martian wound up on many best-fiction lists and now it is the Texas City Reads book selection.
The library has several copies available for checkout at its circulation desk. Why not give it a try? Then you can also enter it on your reading log and earn credit for the time you spend reading it.
Support your local library and expand your horizons at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.