Opinion

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

A  quick warning: this column is about women’s shoes and what
I think about them. If you are a woman who goes nuts over footwear, you probably should sit down and brace yourself before reading on. Remember, I’m the one who hates shopping. I also hate shopping for shoes even more.
My problem with today’s shoes is that they are just plain ugly. Why would any woman in her right mind wear stilettos? (OK, I get the picture; – I’m bracing myself – Ed.)
I’m not talking three to four inch heels here. I’m referring to those six-inch pumps that make you look– and walk – like a giraffe.
They also feature thick soles, which makes them even clunkier. Some come in an ankle-boot style. Definitely not a good idea. They make you resemble a demented elf. (Now I really need to lie down – Ed.)
And if you don’t have small feet, it just gets worse. If, as I do, you wear a size nine, you’d probably look better wearing the cardboard boxes they are packed in. Trust me on this.
Then there are the pumps with the super pointed toes. I remember back in the 1960s, when this style was popular. That was more than 50 years ago and women who wore these torture devices still complain about what it did to their toes. Not to mention bunions.
What’s wrong with nice comfortable tennies? There are all sorts of cute ones out there. Glittery, colorful and great for walking – which describes the perfect shoe, in my opinion.
One of the worst ideas I’ve seen in shoe design is the sandals that lace all the way up your calf to your knee. Who has time for all that lacing? (Let me do it – pleeeeez! Ed.)
I did it back when I roller-skated as a teenager. I doubt I’ll be taking that hobby up again any time soon. Besides, how many gals want to look like a Roman gladiator?
Which brings us to another mistake in shoe design – the boot. Western boots are great. When I owned a horse, I found some at the local feed store that were incredible.
Made of sturdy vinyl, they were a snug fit around the ankle and foot, preventing them from sucking off in the mud at my horse pasture. They also looked like real cowboy boots, so I could wear them everywhere and anywhere and no one could tell they were just rubber boots.
But leather boots, whatever the style, aren’t nearly as comfortable. They tend to feel hot in our mild Texas winters.
And Heaven forbid you buy suede boots. Suede does not do well if it gets wet and here we are in a climate that swings from wet to dry in just minutes. Good luck with them.
My very favorite shoes are sandals. If you pick the right kind, the comfortable styles, you can wear them almost year-round on the Texas Gulf Coast. They’re perfect for vacations or airline flights –
no untying and retying while going through security, a real plus in today’s airports.
You don’t want to know how many pairs of them I own!

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

The following story is true. It happened to me and I still can’t get over it. It started several years ago when my doctor recommended an over-the-counter medication for controlling allergies. If you live in Galveston County, you are highly likely to suffer from seasonal pollen-driven allergy attacks.
The product the doctor recommended was Claritin-D. I bought some and was really happy with how well it worked. I reported back to him how much it helped. I was using the 12-hour version,
so I only needed one per day.
Then, a good while later,
I went into my local pharmacy to buy another box of this wonder drug. Suddenly, I had to produce my photo ID and it was entered into the cash register. Back came an “OK” that I was eligible to buy
my Claritin-D.
I was stunned and asked the checker why buyers of this simple allergy medication were being ID’d like criminals just because they had allergies. Initially, I was told that the pills contained mostly pseudoephedrine sulfate and that the government now required the product’s surveillance. I signed my name as the purchaser, grabbed my pills before they could change their minds and left the store.
The more I thought about it, the stranger it seemed. So the next time I bought Claritin-D, I decided to purchase it at the grocery store. Again, I had to show my photo ID and sign off for it. This time my “Why???” demand was probably a bit louder than normal, but going through all this government procedure was getting on my nerves.
The answer? Here’s what the store’s pharmacy department told me, as well as what
I found on the internet.
“The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic act of 2005 has been incorporated into the Patriot act signed by president George W Bush on March 9, 2006. The act bans over-the-counter sales of cold medicines that contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine, which is commonly used to make methamphetamine.
“The sale of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine
is limited to behind the counter. The amount of pseudoephedrine that an individual can purchase each month is limited and individuals are required to present photo identification to purchase products containing pseudoephedrine.
“In addition, stores are required to keep personal information about purchasers for at least two years.”
That’s right. Buying any OTC drug containing pseudoephedrine makes you highly suspect because it’s “commonly used to make methamphetamine”. Welcome to the wonderful world of illegal drug making!
I was completely taken aback. Me, a former PTA member and room mother, buying allergy pills so I could manufacture meth?!
I recall that I’d been standing in a very long line waiting to make this purchase. In a very huffy voice I informed the server that, “if I was smart enough to be making meth out of allergy drugs, I’d have money enough to pay someone else to stand
in line for me!”
I kind of remember adding that I had better things to do than blow up my house making meth. That’s me – always tactful.
On my next visit to the doctor, I asked if he knew that he’d sent me out to buy medication that could be used to make meth. He was totally surprised when I told him my experiences.
This is not a protest against our national government. Somebody has to keep an eye on things. But it seems a bit like treating good folks like criminals.
Real drug makers probably know all kinds of ways to get their hands on medicines containing pseudoephedrine. And I bet they don’t have to stand in line to do so.
But at least my allergies are much easier to survive now.

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

Spring is officially here. This needs mentioning as the weather so far this year has been so different each day. Sometimes we wake up to sunshine, warm breezes and mid-range temperatures. Other days might be chilly and damp, windy and warm or any combination of these choices. But on Monday – March 20 – spring arrived.  
The reason for this update is that there are a lot of events coming up in the next month. If you are anything like me, you require a calendar, the kind with big blocks for each day, so that you don’t get your dates mixed up and miss anything important.
It’s difficult enough remembering all the family events, loved ones’ birthdays, dental appointments and medical checkups.
I have been known to show up a week early or a day late for appointments. My excuse is that we have to make some of these arrangements six to 12 months in advance. Of course, the obvious answer is to enter them on your calendar as soon as you make the arrangement.
But nothing is foolproof. Who knows that far in advance what any of us might wind up doing around the time of the appointment? And what makes it even more challenging is that our doctors and dentists don’t always know what will be on their schedules either.


That’s when you receive the phone call from their office saying your appointment will have to be rescheduled.
And that is when it all unravels. Now you have two different dates and times stuck in your brain – the original date and the replacement date. The chance of you remembering the correct one is less than one per cent – and that’s after you’ve changed your calendar and added a sticky note on your mirror to help you remember.
The biggest challenge for many of us is the switch from standard time to daylight savings time. You might be like me and stumble around for at least a week trying to remember if the official time – the one we just adopted for the summer – is the same time our brain thinks it is.
It’s a weird kind of jetlag and one of the main symptoms is going around muttering to yourself: “Spring forward, fall back”. This doesn’t seem to actually help anyone but it gives you something new to be agitated about.
Heaven forbid you travel to a different time zone during this immediate-post-changeover period. That will guarantee long-term confusion, during which you not only cannot figure out what time it is but also where you actually are at the moment.
As a quick example, imagine that, during the first week of daylight savings time, you jump on a plane in Texas and fly to Las Vegas. Now, you have to remember that, as Texas is now one hour ahead because of its time change, you are actually two hours back in time when you land in Vegas.
OK, what time is it really? That depends on what time your watch says, what time you left home and whether or not you set your timepiece ahead or behind.
To which I say, who cares? You’re in Las Vegas! There are no clocks in the casinos. Everything stays open 24 hours a day. End of problem – it’s Party Time!

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

I’ve come up with a really innovative idea for an app for smart phones. It’s so ingenious that I’m thinking about pitching it on Shark Tank, the reality-TV show in which folks with bright ideas ask successful business owners – the sharks – for financial aid.
My app will make it possible to hang up with a bang on a call from some scam artist trying to con you over the phone.
Think about it – how can you slam down your smart phone without damaging it? For that matter, how do you hang up on someone the old-fashioned way, loudly slamming the receiver down on the base?
Our new high-tech phones are amazing. They can do all sorts of fancy things. But hanging up loudly by crashing down the receiver is not one of those things. With some tech help, I bet I can find a way to do it – extremely loudly.
Lately, I’ve gotten a lot more unsolicited robo-calls trying to part me from my hard-earned money. And, yes, I am on the Do Not Call list, for all the good that does.
Almost every day,
I receive a phone call from “Heather” or “Tiffany” to tell me they want to alert me about possible attempts to access my credit cards by scammers. I just need to give them some personal information about my account – like my card number, social security number and bank account info.
Sure I will. No problem. Let me hurry to hand over this data to protect it from scammers by giving it to these other crooks. Time to end the call but my only option is to press a small button to disconnect them. And there’s just not much satisfaction in that.
Another frequent caller is someone phoning “in answer to your request for a back brace or knee brace”. The fact that I have never made such a call and, thank goodness, don’t need either item doesn’t matter. I’ve tried hanging up, which does no good. The next day this scam artist is calling again.
I’ve also tried pushing the number that will transfer me to a live operator who will take my order.
I was thrilled to do this because whoever picked up my call was fixing to receive a loud and highly unpleasant earful. But, strangely, every time I’ve tried this, the line has disconnected before I could utter one word of protest.
The most aggravating crooked caller is someone saying they represent Microsoft Windows. They claim I have a problem with Windows on my computer but they will fix it for me.
At least, I think that’s what they are saying. The speaker has a very heavy accent and doesn’t seem to understand when I ask if they are affiliated with Windows.
They refuse to give me a phone number I can call to verify if they are really legitimate. Now, I just tell them I think they’re crooks and disconnect myself from the call.
But that’s not nearly as satisfactory as slamming down the receiver would be, so I really need to work on my smart-phone app idea. Maybe Siri could be programmed to make a slamming sound. I use Siri for just about everything else.
Shark Tank, here I come!

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

Does anyone know where the robins have gone? Remember those red-breasted birds that used to show up every spring?
One day I’d suddenly find my whole yard filled with these beautiful harbingers of the season. I think they were migrating because you’d only see them here in Galveston County for a few days. Then they continued on their yearly trip. I don’t remember seeing them in the past several years.
Maybe they’re taking a different route. Maybe they’re lost. Maybe it’s global warming. Wherever they are, I miss them.
And, speaking of other things that seem to be missing, I’ve recently been online searching for a couple of my favorite TV series that seem to have vanished from the airwaves with no explanation. One, West Texas Investors Club, was on CNBC for two seasons before vanishing. I’ve tried various search engines to no avail.
The closest thing to an answer I found was a website about the series, titled Canceled Or Renewed? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an answer to that question. Big help that was. It was a really good series, too. The best way I can describe it is “Shark Tank with tumbleweeds”.
Another very popular series that seems to have dropped out of sight is the popular reality show The Biggest Loser. I missed the first few seasons but it stayed on the air for around 16 altogether. It was an inspiring weight-loss program in which morbidly obese people competed to lose the most weight and win the title of the biggest loser.
The show had drama, anguish and lots of competitiveness. Some folks went on and lost amazing amounts of weight just by learning to eat healthily and work out regularly. A few didn’t do as well but they did drop a fair amount of pounds.
I went searching on the internet for information I hoped would give me this season’s opening date. I found plenty about previous seasons, the trainers, the show’s host and last season. Once again, there was no starting date for this year.
Have they run out of fat people? Unlikely. Has the show been canceled? The websites didn’t address that burning question. Have all the trainers quit? Is The Biggest Loser lost?
In desperation, I turned to my trustworthy friend Siri – the one who resides in my i-Phone, knows everything and is my best go-to source for hard-to-find info. But even Siri couldn’t find these shows. Maybe they’ve flown off with the missing robins.
Fortunately for all us who like certain TV programs, the good news is that another will pop up in no time at all. Meanwhile, I will keepo asking around about those red-breasted fine-feathered friends.