To Err Is Human…

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

This is another encore column from the Curt Comments archives.
We make our share of boo-boos in the newspaper industry. Actually, at the Crothersville Times we are above average in the boo-boo department.
But unlike other businesses, government or education, when we err it is done in a public forum for everyone to see. No executive sessions, no cover-ups, no privileged information. We err for all to see. Our misteaks…errr…mistakes have no way of being covered up, sugar coated, or downplayed like in other sectors.
Mrs. Lewis, my high school English teacher, probably just looks down from above rolls her eyes and shakes her head. “I tried my best to teach him better,” she might be saying.
But there are other forums where grammar, dangling modifiers, and misplaced participles (or is it misplaced modifier and dangling participle?) occasionally crop up. Church bulletins are another source for well-meaning, unintentional gaffs.
I want to be very clear, none of these ‘oopsies’ came from any of our local churches. As far as I can tell, like a literary guardian angel Mrs. Lewis looks over the shoulder of all of the area’s church bulletin preparers as local bulletins always have correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
These are offered as evidence that God does have a sense of humor.
•Don’t let worry kill you. Let the church help.
•While the Pastor is on vacation, massages can be given to the church secretary.
•The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of all kinds and they may be seen in the church basement every Friday.
•A new loudspeaker system has been installed in the church. It was given by one of the members in honor of his wife.
•Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. Please use the large double doors at the side entrance of the church.
•The choir invites any member who enjoys it to join the choir in sinning on Sunday.
•Irving Bettson and Jessie Smith were married on Oct. 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
•The Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S.
•At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.
•The church’s new tithing campaign has a new slogan: “I upped my pledge—Now Up Yours.”

I Don’t Mean To Bore You But…

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

(This week’s column is an encore offering from the Curt Comment archives.)
Have you ever noticed how diametrically opposed we sometimes speak?
When someone says, “Not to change the subject, but…” what is the next thing they do? They change the subject.
And when someone says “I don’t want to start an argument, but…” whereupon an intense, heated discussion of opinions erupts.
Then there are times when you may engrossed in some activity—reading, watching TV, working on the computer—and a spouse, child, parent, sibling comes to you saying “I don’t want to disturb you but…” and then what is said disturbs you.
Or worse, when others say, “Now I don’t want to make you mad, but…” and of course the blood pressure begins to rise.
And when you hear “I don’t mean to criticize, but…” you’d better quickly put on your thick skin.
While sitting in the plethora of public meetings we’ve covered over the years, I’ve learned that whenever the speaker says, “I don’t mean to belabor the point, but…” he/she then drones on for another period of time obviously enjoying the sound of his/her voice while the dead horse is beaten further.
And when it comes down to you and a member of the boss’ family who are vying for a promotion, when the boss says, “I don’t mean to play favorites, but…” you shouldn’t count on any increase in your paycheck.
And when your soon-to-be ex-best friend says, “I don’t mean to be too personal, but…” I am sure they will eventually understand why you no longer accept their telephone calls.
And as for this week’s column, “I don’t mean to take up your time, but…”

I’m Doing It Wrong

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

I sometimes do not know if I am being pranked or edified by information on the internet. Unlike some people, I do not believe everything on the internet, TV or radio. Heck, I am even suspect of the stuff I read in this newspaper.
Apparently I am squeezing my lemons and limes all wrong. Rather than using my hand I am supposed to warm them in the microwave then use tongs for better leverage.
Other stuff I do that is wrong:
•Scooping ice cream. Instead use a knife and cut ice cream into slices.
•Not maximizing the paper ketchup cup. If you fan out those fluted paper ketchup cups at the fast food place they hold more and you can more easily access them for french fry dipping.
•The aluminum tab on a can of pop can be used to hold your drinking straw. I don’t use a straw out in the woods. The squirrels and chipmunks would think I am being hoity-toity.
•You are supposed to store peanut butter jars upside down to better distribute the oils.
•Hold it! There are little tabs on the end of foil, wax paper and plastic wrap boxes that can be shoved in to hold the roll in the box.
•A staple remover can be used to open up key rings so you don’t break a fingernail.
•Your supposed to use a pea size dab of toothpaste and you are not supposed to rinse after you brush. (If it is all the same to you, I will keep doing it wrong.)
•If you rest a wooden spoon over the top of your pots while you’re cooking it will prevent spillover when things boil. The wood is suppose to pop the boiling bubbles. It does some but not all.
•Peeling a banana. Learn from the monkeys: pinch the bottom on the banana and peel it open. You won’t have to pick off the banana strings. I tried this. I ended up eating mushed up banana.
All information sources are only as good as the pranksters sharing the information. Use this advice at your own peril.

Thoughts Found Here You May Not Like

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

I am getting over a nasty cold. Or speaking more precisely, I am getting over the effects of the drugs that I took to alleviate the symptoms of my nasty cold.
My doctor once told me that a cold lasts for about a week. Or you can take some medicine and it will last about seven days.
But I have found in life that sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. Maybe I should have just run around like a two-year-old with snot dripping. (Okay, a snotty handlebar moustache is not even a pretty thing for me to think about). But the hollowheadedness from the residual cold drugs hangs around way too long.
Since I am not thinking so clear (warning to my detractors: mind your comments carefully), I will offer you some wisdom from other writers on dealing with adversity. Metaphorically, the adversity of cold drugs.
“Some men storm imaginary Alps all their lives and die in the foothills cursing difficulties which do not exist.”   ~Edgar Watson Howe
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”        ~Mark Twain
“Suffering is one of the ways of knowing you’re alive.”    ~Jessamyn West
“God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars.”    ~Elbert Hubbard
“It’s easy to be independent when you’ve got money. But to be independent when you haven’t got a thing—that’s the Lord’s test.”    ~Mahalia Jackson
“I personally think we developed language because of our deep need to complain.”          ~Lily Tomlin
“Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of something bad.”                 ~Harry Caray
“From those who have never sailed come the quickest and harshest judgments on bad seamanship in harsh seas.”     ~Susan Glaspell
“It’s no use to grumble and complain, it’s just as cheap and easy to rejoice;
When God sorts out the weather and sends rain—why, rain’s my choice.”   ~James Whitcomb Riley

While Contemplating Tax Increases Consider Sin

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Last week I vented on being carded for proof of age when buying alcohol. It must have worked because over the weekend I made purchases of adult beverages without being asked to prove I was an adult.
As we are all aware, funding the cost of healthcare is on every elected officials mind along with funding roadways and bridges. The legislature is looking at some form of a gas tax & BMV fee increase that would go to resurface roads and make for safe bridges.
So while on the subject of funding for necessities, should we consider raising the taxes on alcohol?
It’s an idea that legislators should give some thought as they mull over ways to pay for health-care related expenses — particularly when looking at investing in mental health and addiction treatment.
Currently, 50% of the revenue collected from the alcohol excise tax is distributed to the state general fund, with the remaining 50% being allocated to cities and towns according to a formula based on population.
During fiscal year 2016, Indiana collected $48.3 million in alcohol excise tax revenue, according to the state’s 2016 taxes, revenues and appropriations handbook.
Among our 50 states’ excise taxes on alcohol, Indiana ranks 24th highest for liquor, 33rd highest for wine and 40th highest for beer, according to information found at salestaxhandbook.com.
For reference on another ‘sin tax’ at 99¢ per pack, Indiana ranks 37th highest in cigarette taxes. Nationwide, the average state cigarette tax is $1.69 per pack.
According to the Indiana Division of Mental Health & Addictions, at least 50% of Hoosiers drink alcohol, although not all of them are regular drinkers. (This number could be higher if Baptists would not “bear false witness” in their answers.)
So who would pay? As it turns out, in a number of studies conducted in the past 10 years, construction workers and those in the food and beverage industries rank in the top occupations for smoking (around 30%) and for heavy alcohol consumption (11.8-17.5%).
When studies break groups down into specific professions, lawyers and doctors typically rank fourth and fifth as occupations with the highest amount of alcohol consumption.
Lawmakers (quite a few of which are attorneys) should look at alcohol excise taxes when looking for additional funding.
The studies did not indicate just where those in the newspaper industry rank in alcohol consumption. But as regular readers will know, I am not a closet drinker.
We thank the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly for their research inspiring this week’s column.

Freshly Official & Already Put To The Test

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

I now have in my possession official proof: I have gray hair and Medicare. That patriotic red, white & blue card not only provides me with health insurance but insures that I can officially act like an old codger with little patience for suffering fools lightly.
And it took less than 10 days for it to be put to the test. Not the health insurance part; the cranky codger part.
I was shopping in a corporate owned big box store whose name will be left undisclosed to protect the guilty. But figure they pack your purchases in yellow, blue, white or tan plastic bags and you will figure out who the guilty parties are. They all engage in what they call their version of providing an excellent customer experience by inconveniencing customers.
I traditionally shop at the local mom & pop shops, especially if they are a Times advertiser, but there are times that that just can’t be accomplished and I must resort to the dancing to the corporate tune…reluctantly & sometimes (as you will read) with attitude.
Earlier this month I was in one of those colorful plastic bag purveyors. I made a number of purchases, and happened to notice a particularly fine sale price on a large bottle of Merlot. Planning on pasta for supper, I indulged my unsophisticated palate with a purchase of the $5 vintage.
At the check out things went fine until the heavily tattooed young person scanned the bottle of wine and asked to see my ID.
“You sure you’re old enough to scan a bottle of alcohol?” I asked. She assured me that she was but declined to show me her ID.
“Do you think I dye my hair this color of gray just to fool cashier’s into selling me booze?” I queried. “Do I look like I am under 21? Do I look like I am under 40? I think I have been over 21 for longer than you have been on this earth,” I badgered.
I heard some chuckling behind me and glanced back to see about a half dozen other customers amused by the corporate lunacy causing the standoff.
“I need to make sure you are old enough to buy alcohol,” the young cashier said.
So I pulled out my new Medicare card. “Do you know how old you have to be to get one of these?” I asked.
There was more laughter behind me so I turned and asked for a vote. “How many of you think I look over 21?” I asked the other customers.
They all raised their hand including the pre-school youngster waiting with his grandma.
“There you have it,” I said as I turned back to the cashier. “You’re the only one who thinks I look younger than 21,” I said beginning to get more than a little miffed.
“I need to see your driver’s license or I could be fired,” the young cashier said.
Well, not wanting to be a party to an unemployment insurance claim, I showed her my driver’s license as she told me Excise Police sometimes review surveillance footage to see if the store is selling to people under age.
“No, they do not,” I shot back emphatically. “They have more important things to do that watch a TV screen for crimes not committed.”
“But they do hire people who are under 21 to try to buy alcohol to test cashiers,” said I, “but I am not one of them.”
“Now,” I asked as I gathered up my purchases, “you saw my driver’s license. What’s my date of birth?”
All I got was a blank stare and an “I don’t know” as I left the building.
“Wasn’t that an exercise in futility,” I thought as the automatic doors slid shut.
IC Code 7.1-5-10-23 says…”if a person reasonably appears to be less than 40 years of age they are required to supply proof of birth.” The graphic of me at the top of the column needs to be updated. My hair is grayer and my moustache longer. I think that sketch is older than the cashier carding me.
I checked with the local office of the State Excise Police and was told excise enforcement does not like having the blame for customer inconvenience placed at their feet. “Corporations should not be blaming the alcohol enforcement division for their lack of common sense policies,” Excise Officer Christine told me.
Well I can agree with that. Only in the corporate world would you blame the people who control the renewal of your license to sell alcohol as the reason for inconveniencing senior citizens to prove their age.
In that last millennium, back when I was 30, I thought it was flirtatious for a comely barmaid to card me to see if I was old enough to drink. But that was then; this is now and now it is an idiotic intrusion to be thought to be under age 21.
Whether it is showing a driver’s license or giving a date of birth (I usually give one in 1995 that calculates I am only 22 just to see if the cashier is paying attention or just going through the motions), it is an inconvenience and an intrusion.
I am not in favor of selling alcohol to those not old enough to buy it. But there needs to be shown some corporate common sense (but alas, that is a contradiction of terms).
There is a business phrase for those of us who feel abused by corporate “nuke ‘em all” policies: former customers.
– – – – – –
Caution To All Cashiers: If a tall, gray haired man with a long moustache approaches your check out register with alcohol, to purchase, don’t ask him for an ID, enter your own date of birth, and he will leave you with a smile, a thank you, and glowing remarks on the online survey you always ask to be completed.