Writing for The Fairfax

It’s been a long time since I posted anything.  No, nothing bad has happened to me and I haven’t stopped writing.  Since I moved into The Fairfax, a military retirement community, I have been writing for their monthly paper, the Flambeau.  When the Flambeau is published, each resident gets a copy in their mail box.  Then I go around and brow beat them until they read my article.

I’m using the by-line of Jack Rice because no one would know who PJ was.  PJ was sort of a high school/college thing.

Anyway, some of the stuff I’ve written is worth passing along.  Back in March, I wrote about a scam call I received.  I entitled it

The Pearl-Colored Mercedes

Isn’t it great that we can pick up prescription refills at the Clinic?  That’s where I had been.  Having picked up the refills, I was heading back to my apartment when my cell phone rang.  I looked at it and it said the call was from Kingston, Jamaica.  Well, many of us have an international background, so you might be surprised that I don’t know a soul in Jamaica.

The fellow told me he was calling from New York and that I had been selected as the winner of 2.8 million dollars and a pearl-colored Mercedes (I thought the pearl-colored Mercedes was a nice touch).  I know, I know, you are supposed to hang up on these guys, but I was curious as to how the scam worked.

He wanted to know if I was excited.  I told him I was, but it seemed too good to be true.  He told me that he was speaking the “honest to goodness truth,” and “this was no baloneys.” (I have to confess, I don’t know how to spell baloneys).  He told me that we needed to trust each other and that he was going to give me a lot of information about himself so I could trust him.

We then spent the next ten minutes with me taking down information ) I was back in my apartment).  He gave me his name and badge number (BF 200 664).  How much more official can you get?  Then he gave me the package code number, the pearl-colored Mercedes code number and the $2.8 million code number.  He told me not to share those numbers with anyone or they might steal my prizes (Heaven forbid)!

He asked me if I was familiar with Global Delivery Services.  I told him I wasn’t, but was it something like UPS or FedEx?  He said it was and they would be delivering my prizes today.  He said that I should dress up nice because they would take some photos.

I had been talking to this jerk for about 20 minutes and he finally start to get around to the scam.  He said that his company is affiliated with a number of banks and he read me off a long list of banks and asked if my bank was among them.  I told him we were with Bank of America.  He then asked me if my credit card was with them.  I told him no, which was true.

I sensed we were getting to the critical moment and I was trying to be cautious.  So I asked him if he knew where I lived.  After all, they were going to deliver my prizes today.  He said, “North Carolina.”  (I live in Virginia).  I asked him if he had an address and the phone went dead.

Oh well, it’s probably for the best.  After all, I probably couldn’t get an assigned parking space here at The Fairfax for me pearl-colored Mercedes.

By PJ Rice

Copyright 2016


Bowl Games, and Games, and Games

Remember how great it was when there were only four bowl games and they were all played on New Year’s Day?  After a night of singing Auld Lang Syne you could just sit on the couch with your feet up and take in a little football.

There was the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and the Cotton Bowl.  Truth be known, the Sun Bowl is  older than the Cotton Bowl, but it is played in El Paso and has never made it big like the other four.

Now, how many do we have?  It’s 40 or 41, depending on whether the BCS Championship Game is considered a bowl game.  They don’t call it a bowl game, but BCS stands for “Bowl Championship Series.”   I still don’t know.  There were so many bowl games this year that Nebraska got invited with a losing record (5 wins and 7 losses).

And the names of bowl games are wild.  Some that struck my fancy include the Taxslayer Bowl, The Popeyes Bahamas Bowl and the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.  That got me thinking about what the future might hold.  How about the I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter  Bowl; or simply the Chiquita Banana Bowl?  I wonder if we will ever get  to the point where a university refuses to play a bowl game because its name is so ridiculous?  Not a chance!

A friend of mine, Chet Young, set up a bowl game pool.  You had to select the winners, considering the spread and different games had different point values depending on the importance of the game.  I selected my winners, and sent them to Chet.  I added a note that said, “This is a piece of cake.”

I lost five of the first eight games and then it went down hill.  Gee whiz.  I started really feeling badly for the teams I had selected.  I felt like my selection had cursed them.  There is an old saying, “If you can’t be good, be lucky.”  I couldn’t seem to be either.

Chet came out with a pool for the NFL playoffs.  I passed for some reasons more obvious that others.  I now realize that picking winners was somebody else’s piece of cake.

More importantly, I had a horse in the race.  I would have conjured up all kinds of ways to get the Redskins to the Super Bowl.  Silly?  You bet, but that’s what you do.  If we beat Green Bay and the Seahawks beat the Vikings, then we go to Arizona and the Seahawks go to Carolina.  Under this strange tortured scenario, we beat the Cardinals and the Seahawks beat the Panthers.  Now the NFC championship games is being played in Washington, DC (really Landover Maryland).  I wasn’t sure we could beat the Seahawks, but at least we would have home field advantage.

Now, looking back at the playoffs, I would have gotten one out of five NFC playoff games right.  And, the only game I got right required the Viking kicker to miss a chip shot.  I don’t think I would have made a very good river boat gambler.  All of us should stick to what we do well.  Isn’t that right Pete Rose?

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2016.

You Like That?

Two years ago, I decided that Kirk Cousins was the answer for the Redskins.  I watched him in the preseason and decided he had that very rare skill to find and hit an open receiver in a game that was going at 110 miles per hour.

This is a rare skill that is limited to the likes of Tom Brady, Payton Manning and Kurt Warner.  Hard to believe skills.  But then last year, when Kirk got his chance, it just didn’t work.  He didn’t look like the QB I had seen in preseason.  Hey, I’ve been wrong before.

Then, again, in preseason, I saw the same spark that I saw the previous year.  I know, I know, it’s preseason, but still I saw something.  Of course, Robert Griffin III, who is a great athlete  is not a great pocket quarterback.  He would get back in the pocket and if something didn’t click in the first two seconds it was over.  He would take off or just freeze.  I would hear others say, “His line doesn’t give him any protection.”  Well, if you stand there long enough, no line is going to protect you.  People would say, “You have got to respect his willingness to hang in there and take all that punishment.”  I would prefer he did something smart and avoided the punishment.

I can’t tell you how proud I was when Coach Jay Gruden announced that Kirk Cousins was his quarterback for this season.  What impressed me most was that Gruden made the decision well knowing that if it didn’t work, the owner, Dan Snyder, would fire him.  But what really startled me was Gruden asserting that he had the authority to decide who was to be his QB.  That may sound silly to you, but after watching Snyder run the Redskins for the last 15 years, I wasn’t sure how much authority our coach had.

I predicted the Redskins would go eight and eight.  At the time I made it that was a very optimistic  prediction.  Some commentators had ranked the Skins 32nd out of 32 teams.  But from what I had observed, I thought they would win some games.

Going into week seven, the Redskins had two wins and four losses.  Then they fell behind the Buccaneers 24-0.  But the Skins came back and won the game 31-30.  It was clearly the turning point in the season and after the game, Kirk screamed at the assembled media, “You like that?”  The expression has taken on a life of its own.  I don’t think it will take us to the Super Bowl like “Who Dat!” did for the Saints, but it sure guaranteed my eight and eight prediction and a trip to the playoffs.

The Washington Post sport writers who had been finding fault with Cousins were probably what lead to Cousins’ outburst – “You like that?”   Anyway, they have all acknowledged they were wrong and have done their mea culpas.  Me?  I’m doing fine.  I’m a little smug, but suffering with the Redskins for so long, I think I am entitled to be.  Go Skins!

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2015

First Christmas at The Fairfax – 2015

This year has been a scramble, but not really that big a mess,                   The poem has to go out early, so you have our new address.

We moved to The Fairfax, you’re never ready for the call,                         Sixty days to change your world, from oversize to small.                             For junk you need to haul – For a realtor you need to call –                         With movers there’s a brawl!

The sixty days was frantic, but we decided we needed a break,             We met the Suters, O’Roarks and Holdaways,                                                   Down at their Virginia lake.                                                                                                 A week away put us in the groove,                                                                                    We came back refreshed ready for the move.

As retirement communities go, The Fairfax seems the best,                            We scrutinized and scrutinized, and The Fairfax met the test.               The Community Center has everything, it really should be a hooter,         But suddenly you’re dodging a walker and cornered by a scooter.

There comes a time in life when your body needs repair,                            Doctors snipping and clipping and you start to lose your hair.                      The year was not so bad, it really wasn’t crummy,                                                   Jack had his eyes repaired and Carole got her tummy.

A 19-day cruise to Hawaii, we started the year full of glee,                                             But on our fourth day over, we rescued a pilot at sea.                                         (Film at 11:00).                                                                                                                       We moved in in May, took a break in June,                                                         RAJA in Colorado Springs was just the right tune.                                         Ken and Barbara Teel, old friends from V Corps,                                                    Came up early from Amarillo and we had laughs galore.

The kids are doing well, not much to really say,                                                       Life’s a series of episodes, living day by day.                                                         The girls came in June to help us unpack,                                                                       Alone with all the work, there was still time to kick back.                                                 Eastern Shore shopping, nothing too drab,                                                                 Then on to Harris’ for a taste of crab.

The Rice’s from C’Ville came up, and were helpful in a pinch,                         They moved a fully loaded buffet one critical inch.                                       Then Paul and Jack took over, to storage went boxes and a curtain, Jack is now 15 or 16, we’re never really certain.

Politics just makes me sick, I think Hillary’s a felon,                                                     I thing Donald Trump’s a nutcase and the world’s one sick melon.                                I’d like to see a bright spot, a world back on its feet,                                                                   Where people really accomplish things, not just sit around and tweet.

Christmas is a starting place, where people think of others,                               Where people lend a helping hand and don’t worry about their druthers.                                                                                                                                                So with that in mind and our thoughts of you clear,                                                      HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Jack and Carole

Copyright 2015



The Trumpster

I’m really disappointed in the political posture of this country.  We have two parties and they just seem to want to fight with each other.  I can see why a person like Donald Trump would appeal to a lot of people.  Some of the things he says, I agree with.

The fact that I like some of the things he says doesn’t preclude me from thinking he’s a nut case.  I think he’s a smart guy, so I am convinced that he couldn’t possibly believe what he says.  But he likes to hear himself say those things.  And, he likes the reaction he gets from those people who want to hear him say those things.

I want borders that aren’t porous.  It is a disaster for our country to have drug runners, terrorists and illegal aliens crossing our border whenever they wish.  I believe both Democrats and Republicans want a leak proof border.  So why isn’t it happening?  I think it is because our government isn’t functioning.  And that, my friend, is the type of sorry state of affairs that works to Trump’s advantage.  I am convinced that if he is elected, he will build his wall and every few miles there will be a Trump Tower with resort activities.  He may even figure out how to have the Mexican government pay for it.

I noticed that last month the US withheld $5,000,000 from Mexico in drug war aid because of human rights violations.  The article said that the amount was just a small fraction of the aid the US gives Mexico.  Maybe Trump is just going to keep our aid money to pay for the wall.  Muchas Gracias.

But when The Donald starts talking about gathering up all the illegals in this country and shipping them out, he sounds like a huckster at the carnival.  “They have to go.”  That’s right, over ten million.  We will just gather them up and ship them out.  Really?  We will have to suspend all their rights and I’m not sure our courts will go along with that.  I’m not sure we could process a half a million a year, but if we could it would only take 20 years!  As I said earlier, Trumps a smart guy, so he must know this.  And he complains about politicians misleading us.

Trump thinks it is a good idea to have Putin and Russia clean up the Syrian problem.  I guess geopolitical thinking isn’t required on reality TV shows.  Maybe Putin and Russia could clean up our border crossing problem?  While it logically follows his thinking in Syria, it probably would not help his poll numbers.  So never mind.

About 15years ago, we were on a cruise to Alaska.  We dined each night at the same table for eight.  Six of us were of a conservative ilk.  Then there was the California professor and his wife.  When the subject of illegal immigration came up, the six of us believed illegals should be sent back.  The professor strenuously objected.  He said, “If you send them all back, who will take care of our golf courses?”   There you have it, the liberal mind always looking out for and defending the downtrodden golf course.

About the only thing that brings our country together is a major disaster.  So electing the Trumpster may be the answer.  It took us a while to get over the Vietnam War and it will take us a while to get over President Trump.  But while it may be a disaster, it will certainly be entertaining.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2015




Things I Don’t Understand

Wow, this could be a long one.  But I promise not to get carried away – at least in length.  No promises on the topics.

First, a simple little matter, a stop light that doesn’t stay green when it should.  The light only exists because it is at the entrance of a government building.  The entrance is closed on weekends.  There is a massive gate that is closed and they even place traffic cones out by the intersection to ensure no one turns in.  And yet, the stop light turns red throughout the weekend.  I sit there frothing at the mouth.  In a technical age where we can watch Gone With The Wind on our wrist watch, why can’t we make an unnecessary stop light stay green?

Oh yes, the government building behind the closed gate is the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.  I guess they only reduce threat Monday through Friday.  Just another thing I don’t understand.  I don’t even want to go there.

I haven’t made many decisions in my life that I can point to that were done so that I could be healthier.  In fact, the only one I can think of is that 15 years ago I switched to skim milk.  I love milk and I drink a lot.  So I was pleased with my decision – a life decision to be more healthy.  Now, 15 years later, I’m being told that the joke was on  me.  I was stupid enough to believe the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  It turns out drinking whole milk (which is really 3.5% milk) would probably have been better for me.  And now that I have grown accustomed to skim milk, I don’t think I can go back.  Maybe I could try 1%.  But then again, maybe in 10 years it will turn out they were right about skim milk.

Maybe, just maybe, because I was giving up something to be healthy, it, in fact, made me more healthy.  Our high school football coach was Wirt Downing.  He was one of the more important men in my life.  As a football coach at East Side High, his record was 144, 18 and 7.  That’s right, they had tie games back then, AND that’s right, I’m a High School Harry.  We always had a team meeting the night before our games.  At one of those meeting, Coach Downing told us about when he was on a team, his coach told the team that they needed to give up dessert to be better players.  He was a farm boy and loved his desserts.  But he gave them up.  The message was if you are willing to give something up to be better, you will be better.  I’m trying to work through this and see if giving up whole milk made me healthier.  I doubt it, but Coach Downing would have been proud of me.

My last subject is concussions.  How many times in the past have you heard, “He got his bell rung.”?  Now, if a football player or baseball player or almost any athlete gets hit in the head, there are protocols to be followed.  It’s good that we understand the risks and take steps to protect our athletes.  Then, I asked myself what about boxing?  One of the goals of boxing is to knock out the opponent.  So I checked to see if professional boxing has protocols for head injuries.  Of course they don’t.  In the third round old Rocky gets knocked down, he gets up and the bell rings signaling  the end of the round.  They can’t take Rocky back to the locker room to do a protocol on him.  He has to answer the bell for the fourth round.

OK, OK, it’s a risk-reward type thing.  Then I asked myself, how can we justify youth boxing?  I checked and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors “vigorously oppose” youth boxing for the obvious reason of head injuries.  However, in my research I found that Arlington County (VA) has an Arlington Boxing Club.  Here is how they justify youth boxing.  “With the multi-cultural and ethnic make up of the Arlington community, the program also offers numerous opportunities for cross cultural interaction as well as team building.”

This is taking the politically correct “multi cultural” crap too far.  When some guy is unmercifully beating you about the head and shoulders, it’s hard to think about it as an opportunity for “cross cultural interaction.”  What a crock!  Just one of the things I don’t understand.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2015


The Animal

Why yes, I am a Redskin fan and I don’t believe in indian curses.  I think they were pounding their drums outside the stadium the last time we won the Super Bowl.  I was pleased when we drafted Iowa Hawkeye tackle Brandon Scherff as pick 5 in our first round draft choice.  Maybe GM Scot McCloughan knows what he’s doing.  Not sure on his wife.

Anyway, when the Redskins took Scherff, an outstanding college tackle, and converted him into a pulling guard, it made me think back 50 plus years when it happened to Mike Magac, the Animal.  Mike and I played football at the University of Missouri.  As I said, it was a few years back.

Mike and I grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois.  We referred to it back then as a tough industrial town.  In high school, we were not friends.  He was the quarterback at Assumption High and I was the QB at East Side High.  East Side never lost a game while I was in high school and we played and beat Assumption every year.  We were unbeaten in 42 games when I graduated and moved to MIZZOU.

Mike was 5′ 10″ and weighed 175 when he was in high school, but a year later when he arrived at MIZZOU, he was 6′ 3″ and weighed 225 pounds.  He still had the quickness and agility of a small guy, but the body of a really, really big guy.  Over his four years at MIZZOU, he became a terror and was All Big Eight (that’s right, back then there were only eight schools) his junior and senior years.  He also received All American honors.  Back then, there were no offensive or defensive teams.  We played both ways.  And Mike never left the field.  On a kick off, he crushed the ball carrier on the 15 yard line.  I think that was when everybody started calling him the Animal.  There was a local store in Columbia that would give a new pair of shoes to anyone who tackled a kick off return man inside the twenty.  Mike was real proud of his new shoes, but he had to give them back because of NCAA rules.

Mike’s sophomore year, he was having trouble passing ROTC.  Back in the 50’s all male students had to take two years of ROTC.  He and the other starting tackle, Norris Kelly, were flunking.  So the Athletic Department hired me to tutor Mike and Norris through the final ROTC exam.  One of the things you need to know is that all of the ROTC instructors were big football fans and wouldn’t want to be the reason that the Animal and Norris were ineligible.  The same test was given all day long, at 9 o’clock, at 10 o’clock, at 11 o’clock and Mike, Norris and I were scheduled to take the test at 4 o’clock.  We had a hot line setup to our dorm and the phone was ringing off the hook all day long.  By 3 o’clock we had heard all the questions and answers at least twice.

When we entered the exam room, we were assigned seats in the last row with me sitting between the Animal and Norris.  It was not necessary because they knew the answers better than I did.  In fact, while I was taking a break, one phone call came through that I missed.  So Mike and Norris got the question right and I missed it.  The question was what are the three ways an infantryman approaches his target.  Mike told me it was “walk, run or crawl.”  For some reason, it just seemed too dumb to me (something the Animal would make up).  Both Mike and Norris got B’s on the test and C’s in the course.  It’s just like Mike always said when asked how he managed to succeed – “Hard work, perseverance , and lots of study.”

Mike was a good looking guy, with tan hair and a few freckles on the pleasant face.  His body had the dimensions of a 150 pound wrestler.  He was just way, way bigger.  And he was quick like a cat. 

During practice our junior year, Mike and I got in a fight.  I don’t remember what started it, but once you arrive at that point, it is truly impossible to back down.  I stayed in close so he couldn’t whack me with one of those hams he had for arms.  It was right in the middle of practice and we were surrounded by players and coaches, so all I had to do was hang on until the players pulled us a part.  To me, it seemed a lot longer than it probably was.  We made up quickly and got back to practice.

Before my senior year, I quit the team, got married and started law school.  That had been my plan for some time.  Back then, a person could enter law school after just three years of undergraduate school.  So I went to law school and the team went to the Orange Bowl.  Before they left for Florida, the Animal and a few other friends dropped by the law library to say goodbye.  I suspected they were just pulling my chain, but it was still great to see them.  I was studying for first term exams and any distraction was appreciated.  As they got up to leave Mike said, “So long PJ, it was nice to meet you – – – again.”

Mike was drafted by San Francisco in the second round (the 16th overall pick – Don Meridith was the 32nd pick).  And like Brandon Scherff, he was converted from tackle to a pulling guard.  The Animal’s career lasted seven bruising years.  He told me the things that shortened his career were injuries and hanging out with Billy Kilmer!

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2015

Hillarygate or Servergate – Take Your Pick

First of all, I need to put on the record that I don’t like Hillary.  I never have and never will.  I’m not certain that she bumped off Vince Foster,  but I’m also not certain that she didn’t.  I am certain that right after Foster’s death, her chief of staff and others hauled boxes of documents out of Foster’s office up to Bill and Hillary’s living quarters in the White House.  I also know for a fact that three independent handwriting experts concluded that Foster’s suicide note was a forgery!

The reason I don’t like her is not the Foster incident.  Nor is it the time back in 1978 when she invested $6,300 in the futures market and ten months later had made $100,000.  Listening to Bill explain her good luck did make me froth at the mouth a little.  I guess what really caused me to dislike her was the way she treated the military when she was the First Lady.  She was abusive to people in uniform and treated them like dirt.

Now she’s running for President?  Incredible.  I think, I hope, that her arrogance and miscalculations i.e., that she is powerful enough  that she is above the law and can get away with anything, including lying, will catch up with her.  If it doesn’t and she becomes President, I suspect that our country will still survive, but not in my lifetime.

I find the similarities between Nixon’s Watergate and Hillary’s server problems strangely compelling.  Eighteen minutes of the Watergate tapes were “accidentally” erased.  Many of Hillary’s emails have now disappeared.  She insists on being in control.  That’s why she used a private server in the first place.  Then she could decide what she would share and what she would not.  You know what is really scary?  That the Secretary of State of the United States never sent or received any classified documents!  How can that be?  How stupid does she think the American public is?  Now, after saying she never sent or received any classified documents, she has changed the wording to say she has never sent or received any documents marked classified.  What she is ignoring is that certain matters involving national security are classified even if she or one of her cronies didn’t mark it appropriately.

And we are talking Top Secret documents.  There are three basic levels of classified documents, Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret.  Many of the documents the Secretary of State deals with on a daily basis are Top Secret.  You want proof?  I don’t have to give you proof.  We are living in the Trump Era.  That means that if I say something in a forceful and excited way, people should believe me.  But getting back to Hillary, every Secretary of State deals with Top Secrets documents on a routine basis.

This brings me around to General Petraeus.  If he were as brazen as Bill and Hillary Clinton, he would have beaten any accusations against him.  The documents he passed on to his girlfriend were classified Confidential.   And he was indicted and convicted for doing so.  It won’t be that easy to get Hillary.  Petraeus is a man whose word is his bond.  He may have done something stupid, but when confronted, he told the truth.  Hillary has learned well from Bill and will lie, lie, lie.

In recent surveys, more people than not believe Hillary is untrustworthy, i.e., she lies.  But many of the Democrats who feel that way also say they would vote for her.  That my friends is the definition of a “Red Dog Democrat.”  If the Democratic party nominated a red dog for election, these people would vote for it.

When Hillary was asked if she wiped her server clean before turning it over to the FBI, she responded, “like with a cloth or something?”  Wow.  I don’t think she is Presidential material.  But then it may depend on how you define “is.”

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2015


Corporate Big Brother

Hey, what’s going on here is way above my pay grade (retired fogy, third class) and, unfortunately, a tad above my ability to grasp.  But, I know it is happening.  There are corporations out there that want ALL of your business and they are competing for it.  I’m talking about Amazon and Verizon and Apple and Walmart.  Amazon will soon be working on something they will call “Amazon Super Duper Prime.”  It’s when you give them all your money and then when you need something, they send it to you with free two-day shipping.  I can’t imagine how Walmart will respond.

It’s this technology thing.  I think they are all planning on being able to adjust the temperature in my house, set my alarm and turn my lights off.  It’s just who can get  there first.  I’m betting on Apple.  Anybody who can sell watches that are so tiny you can’t read what they say is a skilled sales company.  They will probably make a fortune selling Apple magnifying glasses.

The company that scares me is Amazon.  I like Amazon, but I think they are like Big Brother watching over me.  My daughter, Missy, gave me a Kindle and I learned how to purchase books on line.  It really worked well because the Kindle was registered to my grandson, Tyler.  So whenever I ordered anything, he got the bill!  If  I ordered a Western novel, then Amazon would inundate me with emails hyping Western books I might want to buy.  How about a saddle and some chaps?

If you buy hard bound books from Amazon, you can buy new or used books.  I thought that was interesting.  They say the used books are in excellent condition.  I haven’t tried it.  Later, I had to buy some risers to sit our TV’s on and, again, we were inundated with emails offering me all kinds of TV gadgets.  Then I needed some doggy waste bags.  Until  we moved, we always had plastic newspaper bags, but after moving, no bags.  I went on line, not to buy, but to see what Amazon had.  They had lots of doggy waste bags.  Different sizes, different colors.  They even had eco friendly poopy bags.  But here is where it gets weird.  Like with the books, they had new and used bags for sale.  I decided to stop right there.

Now I didn’t buy anything.  I just looked.  But Big Brother Amazon had figured out I had a dog.  Here comes the emails.  Did I need a doggy crate?  How about a doggy door or a doggy door bell?  The doggy rings the door bell to let you know she wants to go out.  If your dog is old, we have a safety ramp for you.

Did you know you could get a dog identification tag in the shape of a bone that lets everyone know you are a Green Bay Packer fan?  Or, any other fan.  If you were a Chicago Blackhawk or Washington Redskin fan, your doggy’s ID will have the face of an indian on it.  That’s a heavy load for a little doggy to be wearing around her neck.  She probably doesn’t know she is being racially insensitive.  Or, is she just a fan?

Getting back to the real issue of global control of our money, I’m afraid the die is cast.  I think each of these mega corporations will have their own colored tee shirts which will clearly identify us as an Amazonian or Applebyte.  We will probably have to wear a medallion around our neck.  I’m going to go with the company that lets me keep my lights on longest.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2015

They Bill, I Pay – Verizon

Life is good.  But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to obtain services from mega-big corporations.  And that can lead to struggles.  Verizon is an example of one of those mega-big corporations.  I like Verizon, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t carried on pitched battles with their billing department.

You know you are dealing with a mega-big when they have you punch a number on the phone to get to Billing and Payments.  Most of the problems occur when you change your plan.  I walked into a Verizon store to ask questions about my IPhone.  While I was waiting, another Verizon representative came over and asked for my phone number (at that time, we had TV, internet, and our phones with Verizon).  He then came back with an offer that would give me more and better service for less dinero!  It had something to do with being a loyal customer.  I took the deal and three days later, my HBO was cut off!

I had this guys first name but it seems that Verizon has more than one employee named John.  No one knew my John, but when I wrote my signature on his screen with my finger, it turned out I was agreeing to buy HBO separately.  After a few hours of fitful discussion, I was given HBO at a much reduced price (for one year).

Nowhere in the FIOS advertisements do they explain they are going to dig up your front yard.  You are a signed, sealed and delivered FIOS customer before the back hoe shows up.

So I have been reasonably pleased with Verizon and FIOS.  Sometimes a router goes kaput or a cable box won’t do what a cable box is supposed to do.  But in those cases, in two or three days a replacement item shows up on an UPS truck.  The instructions for hooking up the item are detailed and Verizon provides a box and label to return the broken item.  There is also a warning that if you don’t return the broken item, they are going to charge you big time.  The first time I returned one, the UPS agent admonished me to hang on to the receipt, just in case.

Well, as I mentioned to you earlier, we sold our home and moved to The Fairfax, a gated military retirement community.  What I didn’t mention was that The Fairfax only has one cable provider and it ain’t Verizon.  We are now part of the Cox family (The jury is still out).  We were able to keep our Verizon internet and phones, but that was it.  When I notified Verizon, they sent me boxes so that I could return one router, one DVR and three cable boxes.  I packed everything and took the boxes to UPS on the packing day of the move.  I got a receipt, but wasn’t real sure where I put it.

Two weeks after our move, we flew to Colorado Springs for our annual reunion with the Retired Army Judge Advocates (RAJA) Association.  It was an opportunity to see old friends, like Del and Jane O’Roark and forget about all the boxes waiting for us to empty.  While reviewing my email, I received a notice from Verizon telling me they had not yet received the stuff I returned and if I didn’t ship it back within 30 days, they would charge me $240 for each item.  I knew I had the receipt, but sinceI was in Colorado Springs, I couldn’t even look for it.  So much for a relaxing trip.

When I got home I found the receipt.  It was smaller than I remembered and I had put it in a small black notebook (which I had with me on the trip)!  I called Verizon and talked to Cindy who advised me that they had received everything that I had shipped.  In fact, that had received everything before they sent me the email.  Left hand, right hand, blah, blah, blah.  She was very sorry.  Then Cindy noticed Verizon had charged me $100 for a bundle early termination fee and $25 for an activation fee.  She took those items off of my bill and thanked me for being a loyal Verizon customer.  So much for June’s bill.  I wish the story ended there.

I have now received July’s bill and Verizon has charged me $720 extra for not returning three items (they didn’t tell me which three).  I was bemused, but annoyed.  I know I won’t have to pay the $720, but it’s the aggravation.  Plus, this months taxes and a number of other items are based upon a percentage of the total bill.  I talked to Valerie and she apologized.  Left hand, right hand again.  As we were speaking, she advised me that the $720 had been removed from the bill.  I then tried to explain the taxes, etc.  It was a lost cause.  She told me to pay the bill less the $720 and that Billing would sort it all out.  You bet.

I can’t wait to see my next bill.  I suspect they will charge me interest for not paying the $720.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2015

BOO! I saw you smile!