This 'n' That

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

Years ago, I used to enjoy buying groceries. I think it was the thrill of the hunt.
The hunt I’m referring to was the hunt for a product I needed, had a coupon for and needed the proof-of-purchase form for a mail-in rebate.
If the coupon could be doubled or tripled, that just added to the thrill. And, if the item I was buying was on sale, that was icing on the cake.
Those were the good old days of grocery shopping. Today, few stores even double their cents-off coupons. It’s rare to see rebates offered.
Nowadays, I just trudge off to the store, hoping to make my purchases and be on the road again in an hour or less. But, recently, I’ve encountered a new challenge in my quest to get the groceries on my shopping list. Lately, the store where I usually shop has been out of a number of brands of items I buy regularly. These aren’t “discontinued” products – they just aren’t on the shelf.
The “missing links” aren’t simply sold out that day. They’re still gone the next week and the week after that. They sometimes turn up after a three- or four-week wait.
To say this gets old fast would be a huge understatement. So, last week, I decided to try another full-sized grocery store. I had this fantasy that I would find all the items on my list just by driving a few miles out of my way.
This fantasy didn’t last long. The new store had even fewer items or brands than my regular destination. I finished my search and still had only half the items on my shopping list – I won’t even go into the challenge of shopping in a venue where I was unfamiliar with the layout.
But the fun didn’t really begin until I got into the checkout line.
I have to mention at this point that I’m one of those folks who can unerringly pick out the worst possible checkout stand in any given store. There can be four or five lanes open and the one I pick will have a problem. Last week, my line had problems (plural).
There was only one person ahead of me, a shopper with one item. How could anything go wrong, I thought.
First of all, there was apparently some huge snafu going on before I arrived. This problem required a supervisor to come over to troubleshoot and several minutes to fix the problem. The worst, I believed, was over.
Wrong again. The customer ahead of me was purchasing a gift card. After the checker rang it up for the amount requested, the customer discovered he didn’t have enough money to pay for it.
The checker struggled to change the amount of the gift card to a lower amount. As you have probably guessed, that took a while and required the supervisor’s assistance again – and then the customer discovered he still didn’t have sufficient funds.
I’ll leave the rest of this story to your imagination. I have to say that the poor man apologized to me several times.
The problem of finding a satisfactory grocery remains unsolved. A major chain will be opening a new store in Texas City in a few months. Believe me, I’ll be checking it out as soon as it opens. If it meets my hopes, they’ll have a new, loyal customer. If not, in the immortal words of Willie Nelson and an aptly named ’60s rock band, I’ll be “on the road again”.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

Last week one of my favorite annual events took place: the Industrial Trade Show. It’s held each year at Texas City’s Doyle Convention Center and always  gets a good  turnout.
The 2015 show drew almost 90 exhibitors. The booths filled the main room of the convention center and spilled out into the lobby.
What attracts someone like me, who has no connection to any industrial trade business, making sure I always put it on my calendar every April?
First of all, it’s a great opportunity to visit with people from all over the county. I always run into folks I haven’t seen in ages. It’s fun to catch up on what’s going on in their lives.
With more than 80 booths to tour, I’ve found that you can always learn something new about one subject or another. In addition to industrial trade-related businesses, this year’s show also featured representatives of financial investing companies, credit unions, employment services, restaurants, caterers and much more.

Robinette&Compnay trade show
The first thing to do when you arrive in the lobby of the Doyle Center is to fill out an entry for a free door prize raffle. At the same time you’ll receive free tickets entitling you to a barbecue sandwich, chips and a drink.
The best thing to do is stash these tickets away until you’ve finished touring all the booths. You don’t want to juggle all that food while stopping by each of the 89 booths. It’s a messy accident just waiting to happen.
Next, you find a source of free plastic or cloth tote bags and get one. You’ll need it for all the loot that awaits you.
At each booth, the exhibitor will have brochures and other advertising materials about the sponsoring business. But better still, there’s usually a container filled with delicious candy.
We’re talking peanut butter cups, Hershey miniatures, tootsie rolls and other goodies. It’s an adult version of trick or treat. Your tote bag will start filling up  quickly.
But many booths offer even better goodies – you’ll never have to buy another ballpoint pen the rest of the year. In previous years I’ve scored all kinds of note pads, sticky notes and other stationery items.

triplex at trade show

Drinks coozies are favorite giveaways. You’ll receive enough to throw a really great party during which all your guests’  drinks will  stay cold.
Then there are the really special, over-the-top freebies. Last year I scored rubber duckies that my grandchildren love to play  with  at bath tine.
This year I picked up a free ear buds to use with an iPhone, iPod or other techie gizmo. Then there was a pen holder to stick to your hard hat, dashboard, desk or filing cabinet. Anything that keeps my pen where it belongs and prevents  family  or friends from wandering  off with  it is a true treasure.
Probably my favorite giveaway was a pen that’s also a flashlight. I’m always needing a flash light at odd times, when my iPhone with built-in flash light isn’t handy.
Another favorite freebie was a ballpoint pen that is also a stylus. I really need this when texting or e­ mailing on my phone. These gadgets aren’t always easy to find, and some are a little pricy. So finding a free one at the Trade Show was like discovering a real treasure.
The message of today’s column is short and simple: mark your 2016 calendar for the next Industrial Trade Show so you won’t miss it.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

In last week’s column I brought up the topic of Nessler Park’s missing workout stations. As I mentioned then, there were about 6-8 exercise stations scattered along the Rotary Fitness Trail. But suddenly one day while walking the trail, my husband and I noticed they were gone. Vanished. All of them. Overnight.
All that remained were bare patches of dirt about 6’ x 6’, pictured right.
I contacted the city Recreation and Tourism Department to find out what happened. For long-time local residents, this used to be the Parks and Recreation Department. I’m not sure if Recreation and Tourism is even the correct and most up-to-date title, but let’s just go with that for the moment.
A very helpful staff member did some checking for me and gave me an updated report on the who, what, where, how and why of the disappearing workout stations. Good news for those of you who use those exercise areas – the city decided to pull the old equipment and will be replacing it with new workout stations as soon as it quits raining.
A big thank you to whatever city employee/department head okayed this improvement. I’ve seen people using these fitness areas frequently when I’ve been walking the Nessler Park trails. It’s great to see our tax dollars being used for something so positive, and it’s available for use at no cost to anyone visiting Nessler Park.
Now if the city of Texas City could just get it to quit raining so this new equipment could be installed … Most of Galveston County has had more than its share of precipitation in recent weeks. I think, at least for the moment, that the drought is over in our area. So those of you who have been praying for rain might want to ease up on those prayers for just a while, and anyone doing a rain dance might also want to give it a rest.
As I’m writing this column, it’s Sunday evening, and it’s thundering and raining outside. Enough already! Our street, on the north side of Texas City, keeps flooding curb to curb, which it almost never does. Our back yard has standing water in several areas, also something that rarely occurs.
We may not have to have restrictions put on the use of water this summer. As it is now, no one can mow a lawn without the mower sinking into the mud. My potted plants need water wings. On the bright side, though, everyone’s lawn is green, not brown, a wonderful improvement over last year.
Unfortunately, all this unexpected rain means the city of Texas City will have to put those wonderful new workout stations on hold, probably for a few weeks. The ground is pretty saturated at the park at the moment, making installation impossible.
Until things dry out, the only use I can think of for those water-logged areas would be mud wrestling pits.
And that is definitely not a pretty picture.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

It’s time for one of those columns again – the ones that are great examples of where the title “This ’n’ That” originated.
A lot of writers call these “roundup” columns. This is where we round up all those unrelated little sticky notes and stray bits of paper that cover our desks, duct-tape them together (electronically speaking) and call them a column.
In other words, I’ve just decided to clear off my desk.
In doing so, I found a really cool sentiment I saw on the signboard at First Christian church in Texas City. (They have some great messages.)
This one, from at least a few months ago, proclaimed: “Life has no remote – Get up and change it yourself!” There should be a T-shirt that says that.
Speaking of T-shirts (you saw this one coming, right?), here are a few gems that I didn’t have space for in an earlier column.
This one is perfect for me. It states unequivocally: “I suffer from OCD. Obsessive Cat Disorder.”
They got that right.
Here’s another shirt for those times when you are just a bit past your limit: “Sometimes I question my sanity. Occasionally it replies.” Scary but true.
This one isn’t very tactful but there are times when it probably says it all for you: “I’ll TRY to be nicer if you try to be smarter.”
If you have days when you’re feeling just a bit older than you would like to be, here’s your shirt: “Young at heart … slightly older in other places.”
For all you teachers out there who give so much to the students you work with: “I’m not crazy because I teach. I’m crazy because I like it.”
As always, I’ve saved my favorite for last – because it’s my column, I write it and I get to make these big decisions. This column’s winning T-shirt says: “People said ‘follow your dreams’ so I went back to bed.”
Next up, where did they go? This week’s pressing question concerns Texas City’s Nessler Park. For many years, it has had a variety of exercise stations where local citizens could get a nice workout climbing ropes, doing chin-ups, sit-ups and other fitness activities.
Not anymore. My husband and I went for our daily walk one afternoon and the fitness stations were in their usual locations. The next day they were gone.
Vanished. Beamed up by the mother ship?
Now all that remains are large, dug-out squares of dirt. No signs showing how to work out, no landscape timbers to keep the dirt filler in and – sometimes – the weeds out.
Zip, zilch, nada.
I can’t remember how many workout stations there were, but I think there were between six and eight. I’ll guesstimate that the space they each took up was about 6ft x 6ft.
Whoever removed them worked fast. They were there one day and gone the next.
So the big question for this week is really three questions – who removed them, why did they do that and are they going to be replaced?
The stations were scattered along the Rotary Club fitness trail built back in the 1980s. At some point there were quite a few more, but they too were removed – and never replaced. Let’s hope that isn’t going to happen again.
By the time you read this, I hope to have gotten the answers to my questions. If I do, I’ll report back to you here on “the case of the disappearing workout stations”.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

Have you had that nasty respiratory bug that’s going around Galveston County? OK, please don’t all answer at the same time, or it will be deafening.
How do you know if you had the particular ailment I’m talking about? Well, let me describe the most common symptoms, then you decide.
When it struck our home, my husband and I both had super-bad sore throats. After a few days, our throats got better but, by then, we were suffering from what felt like the sinus infection from hell, complete with headaches, sneezing and a very annoying post-nasal drip.
As they say on those TV infomercials: “But wait – there’s more!”
After another few days, we developed racking, croup-like coughs that went on and on and on. At the end of the first week, my husband went to the doctor. He was diagnosed with an infection and given a prescription for antibiotics. He started getting better but it took two weeks to get back to feeling semi-well. I decided to go the same route and, by the end of two weeks, I also was much improved.
The cough by now had become
a dry cough and that held on for two more weeks.
During the month of March, through which we sneezed, coughed and ached our way, several of our friends suffered from what sounded like the same ailment. I heard about at least two people who wound up with pneumonia and about another with strep throat.
Our local weather during the month didn’t help much. One day was warm, the next was chilly, then it turned rainy – well, you probably remember as well as I do.

sinus-clipart-acqr5EMcM
I never did find out if this mysterious infection was contagious or not. My personal opinion was that it was like some kind of pulmonary version of a zombie apocalypse.
To quote my favorite character, Rick Grimes, who has just finished his fifth season on The Walking Dead: “We are all infected.” I think that pretty well sums up up this miserable ailment.
My only words of advice on dealing with it are to avoid other people, see your doctor ASAP if it strikes you and buy stock in a pharmaceutical company that manufactures cough drops.
My spouse and I alone have probably used more than 100 of these palliatives. We don’t go anywhere without them because, once we start coughing, that’s all that will stop it. Believe me, you don’t want to go anywhere in public without these health aids.
Our coughing fits sound like a cross between tuberculosis and whooping cough. It is definitely not pretty. Everyone I know who’s had this illness sounds exactly like we do. Barking seals are quieter than that.
All I can hope is that the recent milder, dryer weather will knock out whatever this thing is.
And, by the way, to any of you who are addicted – like me – to The Walking Dead, which is now between seasons and won’t return until October, be brave. It’s not easy to go cold turkey on this amazing AMC-TV show.
Sunday nights will be bleak for the next six months, so starting local therapy groups might be a good idea. We could band together and discuss why Morgan is back in the storyline, whether Rick’s group will take over Alexandria by force and which beloved character will be the next one killed off, just for starters.
Try to remember that, when it comes to being addicted to this series, we are all infected.