The Widdershins

SATURDAY LIGHT FARE

Posted on: August 24, 2013

Summer in an Irish Garden - Trudy Doyle

Summer in an Irish Garden – Trudy Doyle

Good Saturday Widdershins.  I hope your weekend is rolling along well.  Summer is approaching its end and the first games of college football will start this coming week.  With that in mind let’s take a look at some of the lighter news items I’ve found on the internets this week.  As usual, no heavy lifting is required.

Much like his career a few years ago…

It appears that Tiger Woods’ huge ole 10,000 square foot mansion in Jupiter Island on the Florida Atlantic Coast is sinking!  Tiger and his lady friend starting noticing cracks in the walls and doors dropping down and rubbing on the floor.  A contractor was called in and they are going to have to insert giant screws called helical piles as deep as 24 feet into the ground.

“This sort of thing occurs quite a bit in Florida,” said Skip Barrett of South Coast Foundation Systems in Deerfield Beach. Barrett’s company is not involved with the work at Woods’ but Barrett said it performs similar work almost daily.

“In Florida, the soil has layers of organic matter that eventually decomposes,” Barrett said. “Once that happens, many homes start sinking.”

I’m sure Tiger is getting on this post haste as his former wife Elin is supposed to be holding a $54 million dollar mortgage on the place.

Now this is marketing!

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, a triple A team in Allentown Pa, had a great idea for a fan giveaway, an all expense paid funeral package.  Fans had to submit an essay and explain just why they thought they deserved the prize.  At the time of the nola.com article the Iron Pigs had had 50 essays submitted.  “It’s one of our best out-of-the-box promotions. Or maybe I should say one of our best ‘in-the-box’ promotions,” quipped IronPigs General Manager Kurt Landes.

Some of the fans took a comical turn with their essay, with one saying she wanted bouncers there to throw out anyone who wasn’t  sufficiently mournful.

The winner of the essay contest, to be announced during the sixth inning, gets a casket, embalming or cremation, hearse, headstone, flowers and a funeral or memorial service, all valued at nearly $10,000. A nearby funeral home is the sponsor.

One fan, recently diagnosed with ALS, wrote how his family is watching his “life quickly draining from my body. No one was prepared, emotionally or financially, for the loss or to prepare a final memorial.”

I’ll add here that Mr. Steve Paul, the individual diagnosed with ALS did win the “prize” which I’m sure will be a blessing to his family.

Of course this team has also been known to go for the cheap shot, shall we say when it comes to promotions.  They were, after all, the first team to install a “streaming” gaming system in the mens restrooms in the stadium.  And here’s how that works:

ballpark urnial gameThe system turns on when a user approaches the urinal. The right kind of angling can help multi-tasking gamers guide a snowmobile down virtual alpine roads littered with plump penguins. The 55-second game tests both “agility and knowledge.”

After they’ve done their business, users’ scores are placed on a leaderboard. Top performers will get a shout-out on video board displays within Pennsylvania’s Coca-Cola Park.

The games will rotate throughout the season so that players won’t get bored. [God Forbid! – Fredster] When not in use, the screens will display ads.

The game system was sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Health Network in order to raise awareness about prostate health.

“Baseball, above all, is about team, and so is prostate health,” Dr. Angelo Baccala of the Lehigh Valley Health Network told MiLB.com. “Men should work together with their physician to devise a game plan that makes sense for them.”

Now I do have one question here:  “After they’ve done their business, users’ scores are placed on a leaderboard.”  Uh, so how do they “sign in” so you know who that winner was?

To Hell with the NSA, Home Depot is tracking you!

If you are one of those shoppers who likes to return things and do so frequently, some stores may now have a “profile” on you.  It’s not because you are a bad shopper or a shoplifter, but rather because you return “too much” in their opinion.    They say it’s due to “security” and to fight fraud.

They want to be able to identify chronic returners or gangs of thieves trying to make off with high-end products that are returned later for store credit.

These companies say they have a perfectly good reason for doing this as:

Each year, consumers return about $264 billion worth of merchandise, or almost 9 percent of total sales, according to industry estimates.

And consumers, i.e. the buyers who spent their money aren’t happy about this.

Many buyers aren’t aware that some returns, with and without receipts, are being monitored at stores that outsource that information to a third-party company, which creates a “return profile” that catalogs and analyzes the customer’s returns at the store.

“I had absolutely no idea they were doing that,” said Mari Torres of Springfield, Va., during a shopping trip with her daughter at the Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Va. “I honestly think it’s an invasion of privacy.”

Of course these days privacy is in the eye of the beholder.  The stores say it’s another way to fight theft.

Lisa LaBruno, senior vice president of retail operations at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, says organized retail crime is costing retailers tens of billions of dollars each year.

LaBruno says the problem goes way beyond the small-time shoplifter and involves organized groups of criminals that make a living from the large-scale theft of merchandise. For example, they might switch the UPC code on a $600 faucet with a lower-cost code that rings up at $50. They buy the faucet, then replace the fake UPC tag with the original, higher-priced code, and return the faucet to the store without the receipt for a $600 store credit, which can later be sold online.

“It’s not to invade the privacy of legitimate customers at all,” LaBruno said in an interview. “It’s one of many, many, creative solutions out there to help combat a really big problem that affects retailers, honest customers, the entire industry and the public at-large.”

Well it’s creative alright.  but that still doen’t make it right.  And it seems like that has raised some concerns with a “government privacy expert”.

“Most people think when they hand over a driver’s license that it’s just to confirm identity and not to be kept to be used for future transactions,” says the Federal Trade Commission’s Bob Schoshinski, assistant director at the agency’s division of privacy and identity protection. “It shouldn’t be that a third party is keeping a profile on someone without them being informed what’s going to happen when they hand over their driver’s license or some other information to a retailer.”

My God does the man know what some of is fellow government workers (and contractors) are doing at another government agency?  One tracking company, The Retail Equation states that more than 27,000 stores use its services including Best Buy, Home Depot, J.C. Penney, Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works, and Nike.  And here’s how it works:

-A consumer buys an item at Best Buy and later returns it. Even if the shopper has the original receipt and is within the time frame when returns are permitted, store policy requires that Smith provide a photo ID, such as a driver’s license. Other stores, such as Home Depot, only require the ID if there’s no receipt or if the item was purchased with a store credit.

–The ID is swiped and then some information from the transaction is sent by the store to The Retail Equation. The company says the information captured from the ID typically includes the identification number, name, address, date of birth and expiration date.

–The Retail Equation catalogues return activity by the shopper and creates a “return activity report” on him with his returns at the store. If TRE determines that there’s a pattern of questionable returns that suggests potential fraud, it would notify Best Buy, which could then deny returns by that shopper at the store for a period of time.

The threshold for too many returns is determined by each retailer. TRE says the vast majority of returns — about 99 percent — are accepted.

You can read more of the article, but suffice to say that a spokesman for Home Depot even invoked the dreaded “terrorism” term as an excuse saying retail crime can lead to gasp! funding terrorism!  Well we can’t have that so just agree to give up a little bit more about yourself if you decide to return an item you purchased.

A couple of youtube clips

Okay, we’ve all heard about the survey where some dumb-as-rocks Louisiana Republicans were polled about Katrina, but I had to include this video from Cent Uygur about it because it’s too funny, or is that pathetic?

I’m not even going to go into what The Hayride had to say about it because if you read it you would be screaming “Oh the stupid!!  It burns!!!  What they conveniently left out was that PPP had the best track record in the 2012 election.

Okay imagine this:  You are on your nice, well-deserved vacay and you’re just lounging around in the sun…on the beach…and then this thing shows up.

Sure, the Russian military claimed that the beach was in the middle of a firing range on a tactical mission so the civvies should not have been there, but then there was a little oopsie moment when:

A minister said: ‘Docking at the beach is a normal event. What people were doing at the beach on the territory of a military base is unclear.’

However, the newspaper said the base the ministry was referring to was several miles away in Khmelevka.

Okay Widdershins, let me know below how your day is going.

This is an open thread.

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14 Responses to "SATURDAY LIGHT FARE"

Tiger and his lady friend find his house is cracking and sinking! Giant screws to the rescue!

Oh, the irony.

chuck@numero uno: Oh I had not even thought of that. Irony indeed!

@2: Chuck’s brain “works different” to paraphrase Apple.

Carry on.

We enjoy the workings of Chuck’s brain. At least Chuck’s brain allowed him to comment on this dog of a post that Fred wrote.

@5: A major loss.

@5: So sad. One of my favorite singers since grade school.

There was never a song that she sang that I did not like.

I had heard that about Linda some time ago. It is very sad. She was the soundtrack of my teens and twenties. Love her voice so much. Even my Mom loves her songs and has tons of her music. When I made the slideshow for my step dads funeral, I used Linda’s song Goodbye My Friend. Her voice is simply exquisite in it. It makes you cry just to hear it, so I followed it up with Tony Bennetts Life Is A Song so it would finish more upbeat.

Fredster, great little stories as usual! And I love the pic at the top of the post! Am sorry to see summer on the wane, but happy for you about football. btw, have you noticed the Dodgers lately? After 25 years of nothing, they are on fire this summer. Laker was wondering if he will ever see them win a pennant.

We’ve had a really beautiful summer, weather wise. It was beautiful all day, clear as a bell, really nice summer evening. I went for a really long walk with Laker & his friends and we ended up at Starbucks for break, then the walk home. I’m beat.

socal@11: Aha! I should have known you would get here after the witching hour! Glad you liked the pic. I’m trying to use more of that type since I try to keep the Saturday thing on the light side.

Weatherwise we’ve been on the coolish side, not too many days in the 90s and some nights this week may have 60s for lows. I’m not ready for winter yet and hope we still have a goodly number of warm days to go.

> happy for you about football. btw,
(sigh) I’m hoping my Saints do well but am worried about my LSU Tigers. They were only ranked12th and the spots pundits see us as either 10-2 if we’re good (losing to Chat’s Dawgs and the hated Sabin) or as bad as 8-4. We lost a lot last year of defense. The Tigers play next Saturday in Jerry Jones’ big monster stadium against TCU. I’ll just have to see how it goes.

How is Laker doing these days? Headed back to school?

Yes, school started on the 19th for him. He’s doing well all around, more into music than ever.

Glad to hear that. Just tell him he can’t make a living from the music thing unless he wants to teach or really makes it big time as a performer.

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