Category Archives: Random Thoughts

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

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

Copyright 2015

A Little of This and A Little of That

You know the blogs I have written are divided into categories.  I have “My Military Daze,”  “Poems,”  “Political Thoughts,” and “Golf Daze” and lots of other categories.   But it shouldn’t surprise you that the largest category is “Random Thoughts.”  I spend a lot of time each day on random thoughts.  The problem is remembering them.

A lot of my random thoughts deal with our new apartment.  We now have it in fairly decent shape.  But I am still walking into things.  My arms (and legs) have blue marks documenting each time I hit something.  Just when I think I am getting better – wham!

On the way to the Community Center there is a puzzle table.  If I have time, I stop and put in a few pieces.  One lady who was  working on the puzzle asked me if I had gone over to the assisted living wing.  It appears that they have a puzzle going over there also.  I told her that I hadn’t and asked if she had.  She said that she had, but she spent most of her time there removing pieces that had been misplaced.

Facebook.  Oh yes, I’m on Facebook.  I joined it years back so that I could keep up with my grandchildren.  And I enjoy seeing photos of them.  And now, we have a great grandchild.  Between FaceTime and Facebook we are able to watch her grow.  Her parents are a few thousand miles away so it’s a big deal!   But if you are going to be a Facebook member, don’t upset them.  When we moved, I didn’t get on Facebook for a couple of months.  I kept getting Facebook emails trying to find out why I was not participating.  They said there were people out there poking me.  What did I do?

Then there are the people out there who update their status three times a day.  What is that all about?  It makes status quo look pretty good.  So this is the “social media.”  It doesn’t seem so social if people keep poking each other.

I ended up buying a new Lexus SUV right before we moved.  I was never going to own an SUV, but since they came out with the crossovers and put them on a passenger car chassis, I changed my mind.  If my SUV is not a crossover, please don’t tell me.  Anyway, the poor car is like a bastard child.  I have no time for it.  I just drive it.  I owned it for two months before I found out it had a rear windshield wiper.  When I open my door (or any door), no light comes on.  I am sure that can be fixed by pushing the right buttons.  But that would require me to read the manual.

I was pushing buttons the other day trying to put an address in the navigation system.  I had watched the salesman do it.  Finally I got a voice, but it was a real person.  I told her I was trying to reach the mechanical lady so I could put an address in.  She told me she would act like a recording if I wanted her to.  I thought that was sweet, but not necessary.  I gave her the address and she cranked it into the system for me.

Oh yes, I lifted the automatic tailgate while the car was in the garage.  It didn’t clear the automatic door thing-a-ma-jig.  Now, everyone is asking me who keyed my car.  What a mess.  I’ve been telling myself for four months what I am going to get done when things calm down.

I think I’ll go work on the puzzle.

Written by PJ Rice at

Copyright 2015

A New Beginning at The Fairfax

I know, I know, I’ve been delinquent in writing.  And you thought something horrible had happened to me.  Well, it has been an ordeal, but not horrible.   Miserable, yes.  Horrible, no.

For the last four months, we have been preparing to move and then moved.  We had been in the same house for 25 years and without any motive or design, we had filled every nook and cranny of that baby.  When we were in the Army and moved every three or so years, we kept track of what we had.  If we bought a new couch, we got rid of the old one.  In this last 25 year episode, if we bought a new couch, we moved the old one downstairs, next to the couch that was replaced 10 years earlier.

Some years back, we decided that we would eventually move to The Fairfax, a very nice military retirement community near Fort Belvoir, Virginia.  Well, with Carole’s health problems and so many steps in our house (you had to go downstairs to visit all our old couches), we decided this would be the year we would move.

So right after Christmas, Carole went through all of her Christmas decorations.  The problem was that an awful lot of them were magnificent.  How do you get rid of beautiful things?  That would be a good topic for Dr. Phil.  Carole reduced the number of her Christmas wreathes from 11 to nine!  We ended up renting a self-storage area to hold our Christmas decorations.

My daughter-in-law, Sandy, showed me how to use Craig’s List.  That went well.  Everybody warned me about the crazy people on Craig’s List that will come into you house and cut you into little pieces.  Well, they must have been busy cutting up other people, because I didn’t have a problem.

I had one rule for Craig’s List that seemed to work well.  I never gave my address out on line.  I insisted the interested person call me.  I had one woman (who knows if he or she was a woman) email me six times asking for information about the item and requesting my address.  Each time I would give her general information on my location and ask her to call me.  She never did.  In her last correspondence she advised me that since I couldn’t give her an address, I must live too far away.  I decided to leave that logic right where it landed.

Then there was a nice Indian couple who showed up to purchase two benches that converted into a picnic table.  Before they left, they had also bought a kitchen table and chairs (downstairs with the couches), a universal weight machine and two porcelain elephants I brought back from Vietnam (BUFEs).  They also bought a lot of little items we had been assembling for a garage sale.  They came back two-days later to disassemble the weight machine (They brought no tools).   I suspect it weighed 800 pounds and after borrowing my tools, they took it out piece by piece.  I have no idea whether they ever put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Pricing is always a problem.  I didn’t know anything about what to ask.  I know what we paid for something 10 or 20 years ago, but that isn’t much help.  Sometimes I asked too much, sometimes too little.  You can remedy the problem when you asked too much, but when you ask too little, you are screwed.  I had two great big JBL speakers.  I thought big was out and these babies were at least 35 years old.  I just wanted to get rid of them.  I offered both of them for $25.  Big mistake.  The phone started ringing off the hook.  An early caller insisted on giving me $50.  I guess he felt sorry for me.

We had two Lexington end tables that cost us about $500, each.  I offered them for $150, each saying we were moving and they had to go.  I received an email from a woman that told me she would pay $30 for both if I needed to get rid of them.  I wrote her back and told her that before I would sell them to her I would use them for kindling.

So now we have moved and The Fairfax is proving to be everything we had hoped for.  But we are still stepping over things.  I have determined that we have approximately 30 hanging items (pictures, plaques, etc.) for each room.  I’m afraid that the vast majority of them are going back into a box.  The problem is we have  to go through all of them to see which ones will make the cut.  “Sorry big guy, but it is back in the box for you.”

We have a few more critical decisions to make.  Like when we put things back in the boxes to store them, where do we store them?  Anybody got an old garage they’re not using?

Written by PJ Rice at

Copyright 2015

Send in the Clowns

Sometime, we don’t know when, but sometime, we are going to move.  So there is a need to downsize.  When I walk into a room, I immediately start looking for things that need to disappear.  The whole process stinks.  What I have noticed is that  when I look around, I see clowns.  Pictures of clowns, ceramic clowns, porcelain clowns, toy clowns and clown clowns.

You know the little old lady who likes cats?  So every time she gets a greeting card or a present there’s a kitty somewhere.  Well, I guess I have always been a clown.  I constantly needed attention and clowning around got me what I needed.  I seriously considered whether I could survive in the Army with my “irreverent” attitude.  For years, I had an unrepressed desire to say or do anything that would get me a laugh.  And, fortunately or unfortunately, I am constantly thinking of funny stuff.

The worst thing people can do when I start entertaining is laugh.  That’s the fuel that makes things get more outrageous.  At dinner parties when I was cranking up, my wife, Carole, would reach under the table and squeeze my thigh.  That was my signal that I was getting out of control and needed to shut it down.  At a large gathering in Frankfurt, Germany, Carole was sitting on the other side of the table and some distance away from me.  I got a boisterous laugh out of the crowd and was on my way.  Then suddenly, Barb, the lady sitting next to me, squeezed my thigh.  I looked over and Carole was smiling at me.  Then there’s “Carrie, the Weird.”  She would encourage me until one of us came down with a migraine.  I always secretly hoped it would be her.

Somehow, I survived the Army without being reprimanded for inappropriate behavior.  I had to apologize a few times, but I was usually getting off easy.  While I was the Staff Judge Advocate at Fort Riley, Kansas, in the early 80’s, the post sponsored and hosted a Special Olympics.  Special Services put out an announcement that they would hold classes for those people who wanted to volunteer to be clowns at the Special Olympics.

The G1’s wife, Meg Ionedias, suggested that we sign up for the classes.  We did and it turned out to be four hours every Saturday for six weeks.  I had no idea that clowning took that much preparation.  Anyway, I graduated as a full face Bozo clown.  My instructor said I was a natural.  She said she had met a lot of Bozos, but I was the biggest Bozo she had ever met.

The day of the Special Olympics arrived.  The post had an athletic field with a runner’s track around the outside.  I  had no responsibility except to go around and act silly.  The opening event was a grand march around the track.  Then the “competition” would begin.  It was frenetic getting everyone lined up for the march.  I noticed one young lad in a wheelchair.  He had almost no control of his body and had to be strapped into the wheelchair.  He had to have support to keep his head mobilized.  And with all that was going on, he looked frightened.  My initial thought was that it was a shame that he had been brought out to an event he could not understand.  No one knew what I was thinking because I had a big smile painted on my face.  Then the parade started and I devoted the rest of the morning and some of the afternoon to being a silly, entertaining Bozo clown.


The event was a big success.  I played my small part.  It was fun.  Where else can a senior Army colonel run around flapping his arms and jump in the air while being goosed by another clown?  What made the event special was that late in the day, I again saw the boy strapped in the wheelchair and he was happy and laughing and having a wonderful time.  That sold me on the Special Olympics.

Children love clowns and that made my spirits fly.  But under a certain age, maybe two, maybe one and a half, clowns look strange and scare the hell out of them.  I learned that the hard way.  I never determined the exact age, but when I got around the little ones, I was very tentative until I saw how they reacted.  When they screamed, I’m  not sure who was scared the most.  But the painted smile protected me.

The Fort Riley Officers’ Wives Club was having a bake sale outside the Post Exchange and the asked me to show up as Zippy (every clown should have a name) and entertain.  After about 30 minutes, the PX manager came over and told me that she would like to hire me for certain occasions at $12 an hour.  I told her it took me two hours to change into Zippy.  She told me she would pay me for that time.  Finally I had to tell her that I was the clown who gave her legal advice.  We had a good laugh.

So like the lady who loved cats, I started accumulating clowns.  I even have a cloth one with a large “Z” on the hat for Zippy.  You can imagine how upset I was when a comic strip “Zippy the Clown” showed up.   And he was anything but a happy clown.  I think he is gone now.  Yippee!

I’m no longer in great shape, but I’m a heck of a lot better off than my clown outfit.  The elastic around the neck, sleeves and feet is kaput and the skull cap has rotted away.  I bought a curly red wig, but I’m no longer willing to spend the time painting my face.  That disqualifies me from being a Raider fan.

So most of my clown memorabilia will disappear.  But I will hang on to the suit, wig and the paint.  Who knows, I may be the life of the party at the old folks home.

Written by PJ Rice at

Copyright 2015

New Year’s Revolutions

No, I didn’t mean resolutions, I meant revolutions. Because they come around every year and they look very similar to the previous year and the year before. They revolve from year to year.

I decided to try some new ones this year. One of the rules is it can’t have been a resolution from a previous year. My plan started out well but then fizzled. My first for 2015 was not to go into the shower with my glasses on. It’s no big deal when it happens, but it is sort of a helpless feeling. You’re wet, glasses are fogged, there is no place to put them and opening the shower door just creates more problems.

Next, I have decided to learn a new word everyday. No, I have never made this resolution before. But with all the new words entering the English language, like LOL, BFF, and OMG, I thought it would be a good choice. Maybe I will learn how to pronounce them. You know, BFF doesn’t have a vowel. That makes it tricky.

I’m a late comer to the Big Bang Theory. I started watching just a few months back. Of course it is easy to catch up because their reruns are on about 12 different channels and I have now upgraded my Verizon FIOS so that I can record lots and lots of meaningless shows all at the same time. Anyway, I have resolved to watch at least three shows a week. This is to remind me that brilliant people have problems too. People who are brilliant and have no common sense are not uncommon. They are all around us AND easy to spot.

I’ve never had a resolution on dieting. First, I like food too much and weight has not been a problem. I don’t want to sound flippant, but all I have to do to lose weight is not put all those goodies in my mouth. Our house at Christmas time is like a culinary minefield. But it’s Christmas. Come January, things should return to normal.

Well, now I’m breaking my first New Year’s resolution (to not repeat any from previous years). Every year I resolve to exercise more and with a better routine. I generally prepare a chart. The chart very seldom makes it into February. I do keep exercising through out the year, I just don’t keep track of my times. Carole gets on her recumbent bike every day and checks it off on her calendar. Don’t you hate people like that?

I didn’t mention in this year’s Christmas poem that I went back to Leadbetter’s Golf Academy on our December trip to Florida. Bob Lohr, my golf instructor, knows what I need to do to get to the “next level” (that would be holding the wrist angle to the last second like Sergio). I listened to him carefully and I also think I know what I need to do. It’s just that I’m not sure I can get my body to do it. That’s a hell of a note. The answer is flexibility exercises. After Bob was through with me, he turned me over to a physical therapist specialist, Mike Lane. I still remember Mike saying, “You are going to feel great when we are done.” Then he twisted me into positions that a 12-year-old female gymnast would have had no problems with. I did. After we were done, I had to get assistance to get out of my golf shoes! But he did email me a list of flexibility exercises that should get me to the “next level.” I’m hoping it’s not a pine box.

So for my next and last New Year’s Resolution, I have again made an elaborate chart of these “next level” exercises. If I can do them till Spring, I going to treat it as a completed year! Hey, it’s my list and my rules.


Written by PJ Rice at

Copyright 2014

Buy Low, Sell High!

I wish I understood the Stock Market better. But I do have some observations that I will pass on for free. No strings attached. Periodically I get something in the mail or on the phone where some financial advisor wanted to send me something for “free.” I only made that mistake once. The advisor would subsequently call me on the phone. We were through with the free stuff. First, it was the friendly sales pitch. When that didn’t work, it was the aggressive “You would be a fool not to buy.” When that didn’t work there was the indignant “It’s your loss Buster.” So my first bit of sage advice is don’t accept “free stuff” from a cold call financial advisor. It won’t make you richer or poorer, but life will be much more pleasant.

People get excited about the Stock Market when it’s really high. It is OK to get excited. I get excited when we are having something special for dinner. But that doesn’t cost me anything. Buying stock when the market is really high will probably cost you. My learned opinion is that the market will go up and it will go down and stocks, to a great extent, will follow the market. So don’t buy when everything is coming up roses. Buy quality stocks when the market is in the crapper. It sounds easy. But it is really hard to pull the trigger when everything looks bleak.

One of the delightful things about the Stock Market is that the day of enormous broker fees is gone. The on-line competition has solved that headache. It used to cost an arm when you purchased stock and a leg when you sold it. That is where the expression “it will cost you an arm and a leg” came from. Today, it’s just a few bucks and the price is the same whether you buy 10 shares or 1,000.

I had a broker at Merrill Lynch back in the late 80s who I liked very much. He would spend time explaining things to me. But I am convinced that his boss or his bosses’ boss had certain quotas that had to be met. Periodically, I would get a call from Mike advising me that they had just been briefed on a sure thing and he wanted me to get in on it. Later, I realized that the sure thing he was talking about was the broker fee!

One of the sure things I purchased was stock in Quaker Oats. The company had been waiting for my meager purchase to start its slide. I never broke even on that one. Mike finally got tired of calling me. So when the next great thing came along, he would have his assistant call me. The assistant would tell me that Mike was busy, but he wanted me to know about this latest hot shot, can’t lose stock ASAP. I told the assistant to tell Mike that I was still having trouble swallowing my Quaker Oats.

I have a good friend who writes a blog on financial matters. It’s entitled “” Check it out. I’m always impressed. Some of what is written here is probably stolen from Tom’s articles. Sue me. I wonder if any of his clients know that his nickname in college was “Nutty Tom?” It would all come out in the trial.

Hey, I’m getting serious now. Look for stocks that pay dividends AND have been doing so for a long period of time. If the dividends are too high (too good to be true), the company may not have enough capital left to grow the company. You need to look at something called “pay out ratio.” I have a general idea what it means, but I don’t think I can explain it. You’ll have to check with Nutty Tom.

Written by PJ Rice at
Copyright 2014

East Side High

Yea, it doesn’t matter how old you get, some of us will always be High School Harrys.  Still living in those days when life was much simpler.  I went to high school back in the 1950s.  The good news is that as we get older, the stories get better and better.

I grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois.  Right across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.  Back then we were known as a tough industrial town.  Just North of the town was the National Stock Yards (world’s largest hog market) and to the South were large industrial plants like Monsanto and Alcoa Aluminum Ore.  One thing about growing up in East St. Louis, you always knew which way the wind was blowing.

East Side High was a very large, very old brick building.  It wasn’t on the City Tour.  In fact, there was no City Tour.  The high school was located about five miles from my house.  No, I’m not going to tell you that I walked it everyday.  But there was no such thing as a school bus.  We all got to school some how.  My first year, I road with a friend across the alley.  His name was Fred “Ace” Edmonds and his older brother, “Crazy Ace,” had a car.  Each morning I would wait for Crazy Ace and Fred to come out of their house and I would get in the back seat of the car.  That entire year, I never spoke to Crazy Ace.  Fred said it was better that way.  Come to think of it, school buses sounds like a pretty good idea.

East Side High was a three year school.  Our ninth grade was spent as seniors in a junior high.  We had three junior high schools, Rock, Clark and Lansdowne.  East St. Louis was know as a football power house and the junior high system helped that program.  Rather than having a freshman football team, we had three junior high teams battling against each other (I was also a junior high school Harry).  I was the quarterback for the Lansdowne Tigers.  That was so long ago that I could probably get away with telling you that we were undefeated, but we weren’t.  We did play one night game under the lights against Clark.  We were losing until the last play of the game.  I hit Larry Heise with a 20 yard pass and he ran for 53 yards to score the winning touchdown.  Life was good.

So, when we finally got to East Side, we were sophomores competing to make the sophomore team.  That meant we only played varsity for two years.  But then again, we never lost a game the whole time I was in high school.  When I graduated, we were undefeated in 46 straight games.

I suspect the school had about 1800 students.  In between classes, when the students were in the hall ways, you could feel the floor on the second level rising and falling.  I asked a senior about that and he said, “Oh yea, it does that.”  My homeroom was on the second floor, so I got used to it.  When the Washington Redskins were playing at RFK Stadium, the fans used to get the stands rocking.  It always got me thinking of my High School Harry days.

My homeroom teacher was Pick Dehner, the basketball and baseball coach.  He stood about 6′ 6″ and received All American honors when he played basketball at the University of Illinois.  That was about the time I was born.  He must have hand picked who was in his homeroom because he had almost all of the jocks from our class.  Room 201 was a large study room with over 100 desks.  We met every morning for attendance and announcements (which usually there were none) and then we were off to class.

Pick selected me to do all of his gofer duties, so I designated myself as the Homeroom Class President for all three years.  There was never an election.  Outrageous?  You bet.  But it fell into the category of “Who cares?”  But every time I see it in the Eastlian class year book, I have a chuckle.  Wow, Homeroom Class President for all three years.  I must add that after attending law school, I became quite serious about telling the truth.

My senior year, me and Larry Heise were standing outside our homeroom before school started.  The lovely Alice Hoge walked by and we grabbed her and brought her into Room 201.  There was a supply room right behind Pick’s desk and we put her in there and took our seats.  Then Pick came in and sat down.  The room was deathly silent.  Then the supply room door opened and Alice walked right by Pick and left the room.  Not a word was said.  Then Pick looked at me and shook his head.

I can now safely report that Alice did not suffer any lasting trama from the incident.  There was no need to bring counsellors into the school to advise troubled students who had observed the incident.   It was just another day in the life of East Side High.

The reason I am reflecting on this stupid prank is that I wonder how it would have been handled today.  I’m sure I would have been arrested for false imprisonment – maybe even kidnapping.  Lawyers would have raced to see Alice’s parents explaining that she needed to sue not only me and Larry,  but also the school for letting such an egregious thing happen.  And, of course, Pick would have been in deep Kimchi for not reporting the incident.  Then, the media would look into my past and concluded that everyone should have seen this coming.  They would also find out that a few years earlier, I had asked Alice to go out with me and she had turned me down!  Clearly, this was an act of retribution.

Oh well, fortunately it was the 1950s and people seemed to know the difference between a harmless prank and a willful assault.  Life was good and we all survived East Side High.

Written by PJ Rice at

Copyright 2014



Bloggedy Blog Blog, Part 2

The world is racing by me.  I can’t keep up.  As JFK said, “Life isn’t fair.”  But if my biggest problem is that my blog site is out of control, I shouldn’t complain too loudly.

You know how many emails you get everyday?  Well, it’s the same with me.  So I delete a lot of them without even looking at them.  Groupon, Jockey, Golfsmith, Dick’s, Amazon, Facebook and GoDaddy.  Ping, ping, ping, ping.  They disappear as fast as I can hit the delete button.  I get rid of political stuff just as fast.  I have decided that sending $25 to some political hack is not going to save the world.

GoDaddy supports my blog site.  And, it turns out that 90% of their emails were trying to sell me something.  However, for the last few months, they had been trying to warn me that they were going to shut down the GoDaddy platform that supported my website.  They kept trying to notify me and I kept deleting the message without reading it.  Ping!

Something caught my attention one week before blog doomsday.  I was going through my emails and GoDaddy’s subject line said, “Important Message.”  That saved me.  If I hadn’t taken action, all of my previous blogs would have vanished.  So in the eleventh hour we transferred my 244 blogs over to my new “platform,” WordPress.  I’m sure that WordPress is good, but I just can’t make it work for me.

For example, I used to get one or two comments whenever I posted something.  It’s really great to know someone is out there.  Of course, I have to approve the comment before it is published.  I wrote a blog entitled, “It’s a German Thing” and it set out some problems I had with the German people.  One comment I received and promptly deleted was from a German, who in familiar Deutsch gave me the finger.  Now, with WordPress, the damn comment has reappeared.

Since switching to WordPress, I had been receiving 170 comments a day.  Of course, I can mark them for spam or trash, but it is extremely time consuming and frustrating.  Almost everyone was spam and trying to sell something (on my site!).  I was overwhelmed with spam.  I tried to figure whether there was something in the WordPress settings that would help me.  I finally found a place where I could put  “comment blacklist” words.  If the proposed comment had one of these words in it, then it would not pass GO, but would go directly to spam  I studied my submitted comments and  found that 60 to 70 % included Louis Vuitton.  So I put four items on the comment blacklist:  Louis Vuitton, babyliss, Michael Kors and louboutin.  Guess what?  I have had only six requested comments in the last two weeks!

Under my old GoDaddy Quick Blogcast system, I had a place where people could subscribe to my blog and whenever I published something, they would receive an email of the blog.  I also could check statistics and see how many hits RiceQuips had had in the last day, week or month.  Heady stuff.  Now I am flying blind.  And to make me completely irrelevant, Google can’t find what I have previously published.

I’m going to brag for a moment.  I actually had posts listed on the first page of Google.  Now, they are way back on page 12 and if you click on it, it comes up “Not Found.”  I have been told that Google is a creeping search engine, so it will eventually find me.  It’s been two months.  I wish it would creep a little faster.

I have been told that Google Analytics is the best place to get statistics, but now I can’t log on to Google.  I registered with Google about three years ago.  Google insists that my password is wrong (I wrote it in a book and I am looking right at it).  So I told them that I lost my password (not true), and then, they insisted on texting me my password.  I don’t text.  I know, I know, I’m a dinosaur.  So for my last chance, they asked me to tell them when I opened my Google account, AND, when was the last time I was on it.  I didn’t have a clue to answering either question.

If my air conditioner stopped working, I would get professional help.  If my car shut down, I would get professional help.  Get the picture?  You know those commercials where they say, “Don’t try to do this at home.”  Well, that’s where I’m at.  I have found someone who is going to fix me up.  My old subscribers will again be getting my blogs by email.  New subscribers will too.  I should also be looking at some statistics!  Life may not be fair, but for goodness sakes, don’t sit on your hands.

Written by PJ Rice at

Copyright 2014

Gillette’s Latest and Greatest Razor, Until Next Month

Oh man.  What in the world is going on?  Gillette has just come out with a new razor.  I guess I have always used Gillette razors.  I’ve written about them before.  But now, I cans hardly keep up with their new models.

Last year at this time, I had winnowed it down to two razors.  One was my old reliable Mach 3 Turbo that I had had forever.  You know it is a winner when Gillette just keeps making replacement blades for it.  Newer models have gone by the wayside, but the old Mach 3 just keeps chugging along.  Then, of course, I have the Fusion ProGlide Power.  Five blades and smooth as could be.  While the blades are expensive, they last a long, long time.  I was really comfortable with my shaving situation.

Then about eight months ago, Gillette announced that they have a new razor for sensitive skin.  It’s called the Gillette Mach 3 Sensitive Power Razor.  My old Mach 3, which I love, has no power and it wasn’t specifically made for sensitive skin.  They also made the razor green so it would be environmentally friendly.  This was a product they were marketing to jerks like me.  “Oh, it’s for sensitive skin.  I have sensitive skin.”  Dah.  So, I bought it and, of course, I needed to buy extra blades because Gillette is too smart to make their old Mach 3 blades interchangeable.  Bottom line is forget about the sensitive skin, I got sensitive every time I used the green razor.  I feel like I was gimmicked (I just made a new word).

So when I run out of the environmentally friendly green blades, I thought I would be back to the two razors I am happy with.  But no!  Gillette won’t leave me alone.  They are now coming out with the “Fusion ProGlide Power Razor with FlexBall Technology.”  Holy cow.  My present Fusion ProGlide flexes up and down to smoothly stay in contact with my skin over my jaw bone and chin.  Now, with the FlexBall, the blade will toggle sideways and if necessary do somersaults to get that last elusive hair.  After my last experience with the environmentally friendly Mach 3 “S” (S is for sensitive and stupid), I had half a mind not to buy the somersaulting  FlexBall technology.  But what if I am wrong.  I didn’t need the Fusion ProGlide Power razor, but now that I have it, I’m convinced that it is the best.  Whose to say that there isn’t a need for a somersault once in a while.

I will probably buy it, but I won’t promise that I will report on it.  That’s the kind of threat that will drive people away from my blog site.  My next blog will be on something more exciting, like tooth paste.

Written by PJ Rice at

Copyright 2014