Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Eve.

I'm just gonna go ahead and put this out there, in case the world comes to an end after Election Day.

No matter who wins, God is still in control.

And He's neither Democrat or Republican.

He's on His own side, and we'd be wise to join Him.

Not only does He not belong to any political party, but I'm pretty sure He doesn't play favorites. At least not based on social issues.

He's like a lion. He doesn't need defending--just open the cage and He'll take care of Himself.

Our perception of God's identity is so warped now that He can't do anything right. Funny how He gets the blame for so much and credit for so little.

We have so much to be thankful for and are so ungrateful.

However the election ends up I plan to keep doing what I've been doing. I know that the Lord watches over me every day and whatever I have all comes from Him.

Either He's watching over everything or He's not watching anything at all. There's not a lot of room for the in-between.

Is there a purpose with which to vote? Absolutely.

Vote your heart, not your wallet.

Vote your convictions, not your comfort.

Vote for your descendants, not for your desires.

God has a plan, and He's revealed it to us in His Word and through His Son. What we do with that plan is up to us.

I have no control over what someone else does, but I have complete control over what I do.

So, in the words of that great theologian Indiana Jones--choose wisely.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Go Braves.

The season is winding down, and I have been to two Atlanta Braves games this year.

Once back in August with my son, Carder, and once this past week with Mama, Susie, The Queen, and The Princess (who had never been to a real major league game...only Spring Training events).

I reconnected with some old friends at the first game. Here's a picture:

Yes, that's me with two of my close friends--Phil Niekro and Charlie Liebrandt just before the game started. Of course, once I arrived at the Plaza most people wanted my autograph, and when this picture made the Web I received countless emails wanting to know who those two guys were with me.

The Braves lost that day.

Last Wednesday we saw the Braves sink the Marlins, and Chipper Jones played. I doubt I'll ever see him in person again, and I tried to stay in-cog-ni-to in order to let him have the spotlight. It worked.

To use a dated and apt quote, A Good Time Was Had By All.

My sister Susie loves the Braves. Always has, always will. Ask here anything about the Chop Boys and she can tell you. My joy last week was watching her enjoy watching them.

Traffic to the game? Terrible. We missed the top of the first inning.

Parking? A chore.

Watching someone I love have a ball? Priceless.

Go Braves.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Don't Know If You Heard This Last Night at the RNC.

I watched the Republican National Convention for a few hours last night, mainly to hear Paul Ryan.

The Queen and Princess thought he reminded them of the Guy Teacher on "Glee". I said he reminded me of Harrison Ford's character in "Air Force One".

He was articulate, passionate, emotional, and forceful. All good things for a politician.

He made some valid points which the Democrats will pick up on and call lies before they accuse him of assault or murder. All is fair in politics.

It's not even September and I'm already worn out from the process. And I have this queasy feeling that it will get worse before November.

I don't know if anyone else caught this in one of the speeches last night but it merits inclusion here:

We in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

As a country, we do have a destiny, and I believe it comes from a much higher source than politicians lead us to believe.

As citizens, we have to take the "long look" instead of settling for the short-term.

If you missed the speech quoted above, there's a reason.

That's an excerpt from a speech which was scheduled to be delivered almost fifty years ago on a November afternoon in Dallas, Texas.

If only John F. Kennedy had lived another hour or so.

Amazingly, he sounds a lot like a current-day Republican.

Or is that a patriot I hear in that speech?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Elvis Left The Building.

My sweetheart had a chance to be an usher at a Macon Elvis concert back in the mid-70's when she was in college but passed on the opportunity.

If she had only gone we might have met sooner...

Today, on the 35th Anniversary of his death disappearance, over 75,000 people have descended upon Memphis and Graceland. A good friend of mine is there and is keeping me updated on events.

As I've written previously, I've been an Elvis fan all my life.

Every woman wanted to be with him, every man wanted to be him, and I thought I was him.

I could curl my lip, move my hips, and even sound a little like him.

And now I'm older than he was when he went away. But he never really left, did he?

I've been to Graceland, walked in, and knew where everything in the house was located (the infamous bathroom is right above the front door).

I've been on the beach at Daytona and had someone mistake me for Elvis.

I've answered the phone and made people think they were talking to the King.

I'm not making any of this up. Scary, ain't it?

I don't wonder what would have happened if Elvis had stayed around because, again, he's not really gone.

He's on my desktop, in my YouTube account, on my DVD player, and in my iPhone.

There's not another one like him, but I might as well admit it--he's gone.

Emily asked me when she was very young if I thought Elvis was in heaven.

Oh. Yeah.

Singing in the choir.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stupid Me. I Thought Mama and Daddy Did It By Themselves.

I've never been overtly active in a political campaign before this year.

Granted, I voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976, and my Mercer classmate Phil Brock and I were there in Atlanta for the Victory Celebration, right in the front, holding a sign with a grinning peanut on it. It was the opening video for Channel 11 in Atlanta for the next year.

But, this year, I'm ridiculously active.

If I hadn't been before, last week would have made the decision for me.

The Chicagoan-In-Chief made some Off-The-Teleprompter remarks about small business owners that just really set me off:

"You didn't get there on your own," Obama said. "I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet."

Somebody else made that happen.

You know, he's right. Somebody else DID make that happen for Mama and Daddy.

As I wrote earlier this year, Daddy opened his Amoco Service Station in May 1972. But a lot of "somebody elses" helped make that happen.

To answer the President...

It wasn't because Daddy thought he "was just so smart". He did have a wealth of wisdom, however.

It was because he worked hard. It was because he had a "great teacher" somewhere in his life--his mother, who taught in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Lumpkin County, Georgia, until Daddy had to quit in the fifth grade to work on the farm. 

It wasn't because "somebody invested in roads and bridges". They lived on a dirt road, off another dirt road which led to a dirt road which went to town. A road the farmers built because they had to.

When Daddy was trying to open his station, the government did its part. The Small Business Administration (SBA) allowed him to get a loan. He applied four months before he opened and got it after he'd been in business nine months. So much for start-up money. He lovingly referred to them as the "Sonsa Bitches Administration".

He opened at 7am, closed at 7pm, six days a week, running everything by himself. Then he'd come home and Mama would do the books after supper. For seven years.

He helped the government back--paid Sales and Use Tax, Income Tax, Federal and State Excise Tax, license fees, etc. 

Yep, he had lots of help. Just none from the government. Just like today.

I can't stand four more months of this nonsense, much less four more years.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

RIP, Andy Griffth.

As I've said before--many times--I grew up in Mayberry.

While I may not have lived between Mt. Pilot and Raleigh, Barnesville, Georgia, was close enough.

It was a place where you could leave your doors unlocked and the keys in your car. Your one car.

The Andy Griffith Show was a part of our lives, and still is thanks to the proliferation of reruns on any number of networks.

And now the good Sheriff has died at 86 years old.

I remember Opie killing the mama bird, Aunt Bee's award-winning pickles, Barney Fife's one bullet, Gomer's working at Wally's Gas Station (followed by Cousin Goober), and Floyd's Barber Shop.

I remember Juanita down at the Diner, Thelma Lou and Helen, and the Fun Girls from Mt. Pilot.

I remember the theme song (titled "The Fishin' Hole"). We had the guy who whistled the song for the show visit Gordon Grammar School when I was a boy.

I remember Andy never wearing a gun, always in church on Sunday, being smarter than anyone from the city, and his Wellington boots (I had to have a pair).

I remember...

It always seemed like there was a lesson involved in almost every episode, subtle or not. I couldn't name many of these, but I know they helped me.

And doesn't it seem that if you grew up on Andy Griffith that frequently something will happen which reminds you of something you saw on the show? And you wonder WWAD (What Would Andy Do)?

He was the Television's Conscience, and always chose to do the right thing for all involved.

Wisdom seems to be in short supply today. Now, don't get me wrong, there sure are lots of "smart" folks out there who are more than willing to let you know exactly how brilliant they are.

But spouting opinions and espousing wisdom are two entirely different things.  Andy knew the difference.

He was Every Boy's Dad, and the kind of man you'd want your daughter to marry. Helen Crump got to him first.

Barney moved to Raleigh, Gomer joined the Marines, the Darlings went back to the hills, but Andy--and Mayberry--remained constant.

I'll miss Andy. And I miss Mayberry more every day.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

They Paved Paradise And Put Up A Mickey D's.

I missed writing about it by a month, but May 15, 1972, was a red-letter day in my life.

On that Monday morning at 7am Daddy opened Berry's Amoco Service Center.

It was on the corner of Forsyth Street and College Drive.  The other three corners were occupied by the US Post Office, Milam's Gulf Station, and Swint's Standard Oil Station.

I'm not sure our little town needed three "full-service" gas stations, but we had 'em.  And as far as I was concerned we sure needed one--the one Daddy owned.

I'd been buying "White Gas" (Amoco Premium) for as long as I could remember.  It powered everything from lawn mowers to Coleman stoves, which is what you used outside to cook fish on.  Fish caught from all over the place--Mr. Smith's private pond down off Highway 41 towards Forsyth (where he would make a special place for my Granny, who was in a wheelchair, to fish;  she always caught more that the rest of us combined) to Johnnie Caldwell's pond outside Thomaston, where my buddy Frankie Rogers lost his Senior ring when a channel cat yanked it off his finger.  I am not making this up.

But...back to what we all just called "The Station".

Mr. Nelson Newton owned the place before Daddy bought it, and it was a...mess to clean up.  Apparently he had sold moonshine out of the back room and who knows what else.  We cleaned up for a month, every day after Daddy left the Ford Place, until it was ready to open for business.

It was at The Station that I did my first oil change.  Daddy asked if I was sure I knew how to do one, and me being me, I assured him I did.  I'd seen him do it enough.  I could handle it.

I stood under the car and loosened the oil pan drain plug, looking straight up at it, until it popped out and five quarts of black, used oil covered me from head to toe, as well as the floor of the service bay, which Daddy was proud to say was "clean enough to eat off of".  Just not that day.

It was at the station that I detailed my first car (Mr. Smith's '65 Mustang coupe, and I loved Mustangs, so I offered to do it for free).  Once I finished I showed Daddy what a good job I did.  He pointed out the glass wasn't clean, so I cleaned it again.  And showed him again.  Whereupon he showed me that the tires weren't clean either.  After going through this for the glass, tires, chrome, wheel covers, the list goes on, I finally said in exasperation, "But, Daddy, I'm doing it for nothing!"  He replied, "Even if it's free it needs to be right."  He was right.

It was at The Station where in December every little old lady in town would drive through and get her box of Chocolate-Covered Cherries, Daddy's "present" to his elderly female customers.  I didn't realize until later how much that little box of candy meant to those women.

Christmas also brought Mama's potent Egg-Nog, emphasis on the Nog.  Nobody left unsatisfied or thirsty.

It was at The Station where I learned that the secret to having a good business was to be honest, treat people fairly, and believe in what you sell.

We had the most expensive gas in town and were the first station where gas hit $1.00 a gallon.  One of our "credit" customers pulled in one morning and Daddy went out, removed the gas cap, and started to put gas in his truck.  "Humph," he said.  "I ain't ever gonna pay a dollar for a gallon of gas."  Daddy stopped pumping, removed the nozzle, and said "You'll be walking in a few days, then."  The man stuttered and stammered until Daddy told him to come in and pay his bill for the month to that point, because he'd never buy another gallon of gas from Roscoe Berry again.

It was at The Station that I learned that sometimes in business you have to "push back", not be intimidated, and be unafraid to say "You can't have that".

It was at The Station that I had the best time of my life restoring a 1955 Crown Victoria that I thought we'd never finish but once we did it outran everything in town. It starred in a movie, Return to Macon County, and allowed me to get into a fight with Don Johnson.  He was a Hollywood Wuss.

It was at The Station I learned about character and integrity firsthand.  Daddy used to say he slept well at night because he didn't lie in the daytime.  I use that phrase almost daily.

Once he passed away The Station meandered on for a while, I guess until it outlived its usefulness.  While I was in Florida they tore it down and built a McDonald's on that corner.

Somehow "Would you like to SuperSize that?" doesn't have the same ring to it as "Welcome to Berry's Amoco.  How can I help you?"

Paradise paved.  It's everywhere.  And once the paving's done, the paradise can't be found again.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Wizard of Waukesha, Part One.

The Queen, Princess, and I were in Waukesha, Wisconsin, for the social event of the season--the wedding of my niece.  And no, I couldn't talk her out of it.

The trip itself was an event unparelleled in the annals of Berry household travels.  We left the Center of the Universe, Dahlonega, around 11pm Tuesday evening and ended up on our first night/morning in Chattanooga, Tennessee, near Lookout Mountain around 1am at the luxurious Holiday Inn Express.

We did not have reservations when we left Heaven but the Queen knew--knew--she could handle this issue while we were driving.  She spent approximately two of the two and a half hour drive time trying to find a room.  Apparently every family east of the Mississippi on Spring Break spends the night on the way to or from Florida in Chattanooga.

I love Cracker Barrel and made an executive decision on the aforementioned Holiday Inn Distress based solely on the fact that you could throw a rock and hit a Cracker Barrel conveniently located next door.

After breakfast the next morning we embarked on the remaining 700 or so mile trip to Waukesha, Wisconsin.  Here's how it went:

9:05am--headed west on I-24 towards Music City, Nashville, Tennessee.  I had to explain to the Queen that while the compass on the car said we were heading north that all Interstate highways were odd-numbered for North/South Hell/Heaven routes and even-numbered for East/West ones.

9:16am--we cross into the ill-named Central Time Zone.

9:18am--we cross back into the similarly ill-named Eastern Time Zone.

As an aside, when you leave Georgia and cross into Alabama (affectionately known as The Moron State) there's a big sign that informs you that you are Entering The Central Time Zone.  Once you're in Alabama you don't leave this time zone.  Perhaps Tide fans returning from a shellacking in Athens need reassurance that they're home, or maybe they're just that forgetful.  I don't know.  All I know is that we drove in and out of time zones so frequently that I lost track, my Smart Phone got confused, and it's not worth noting in this travelogue.

9:27am--the first of many "Where are we" questions from the Princess.  Again, not worth notating over and over and over again.

11:13am EDT/10:13am CDT--ah, the Nashville skyline.  At 83 miles per hour it's not so big.  Also, you can no longer see Opryland from I-65.  Partly because of the trees along the road but mainly because it's not there anymore.  The Grand Ole Opry is, along with Gaylord (what a name) Opryland Resort.  Only in Tennessee can you combine a name like "Gaylord" with a non-existent amusment park and call it a resort.  Keith Urban will be "Weclomed Into The Opry Family" this weekend.  I'm not sure what "weclomed" means...must be a Tennessee thing.

12:42pm--we leave Tennessee, enter Kentucky, and raise the IQ in both states.  They said "thank you".  I said, "you're weclome".

Kentucky, The Bluegrass State, does not have Blue Grass.  However, from one end of the state to the other all I saw was grass.  And they were working on the road, having professionals trained by Georgia's Department of Transportation in proper shovel-leaning etiquette.

2:03pm--we enter Indiana, The Crossroads of America State.  This is NOT on their license plates, but a bar code across the bottom may translate into that saying.  I couldn't get close enough to scan it.

We stopped at a Cracker Barrel (like Santa Claus, they're everywhere) and had lunch.  Amazingly they had the same menu, decorations, and knick-knacks every other CB has.  Amazing.

4:06pm--we hit Indianapolis.  Every bridge is painted blue, apparently in honor of the Colts football team.  I had to explain this to the Queen, along with the fact that the Colts are in Indiana and not Baltimore.  Since 1984.  You're weclome.

5:08pm--we enter the World of Darkness, which includes Gary, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois.  I never knew two places could look so dingy, dirty, and gray.  These two did.  And we had to drive on a toll road which cost approximately $18.00 to travel twenty or so miles.

I did notice that nowhere in or around Chicago were there any signs saying "Chicago--Home of our President".  Go to Plains, Georgia, and there's a sign.  Go to Midland, Texas, and there's a sign.  Go to Chicago, and there's a sign--NEXT TOLL $18.00.  NO CHANGE GIVEN.

We arrived in Waukesha around 8pm that evening.  It is, without a doubt, the coldest place I've ever been.  But more on that next time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Smart Phone Ain't.

The Queen and Princess both got iPhones over a year ago.  I retained my Crackberry until I had a "discounted" upgrade.

Late in January I got the iPhone 4S, "the most amazing iPhone yet", according to Apple.

I can make calls, surf the InterWeb, and tell Siri what I want her to do.

And, just like any other woman, she does what she wants to.

For example, I asked Siri if I was good-looking.  She replied, "I don't understand 'good-looking'".


I downloaded some music to ITunes on my desktop.  A Smart Phone, once connected, should be able to find said music, transfer it to itself, and allow me to listen to it without a problem.

But NOOOOoooooo.  I had to tell it where it was, point, click, cuss, and finally get help to jump through the seven hoops to make that happen.  Then, instead of being in ITunes, where logic says it should be, it's somewhere else.  Did I mention that Siri is female?

When I asked the Princess why I couldn't find my Beach Boys on ITunes she looked at me like I had a third eye and said, "It won't be there."  Really, Captain Obvious?

Instead, it's under the "Music" icon.  Of course...why didn't I think of that?  BECAUSE I HAVE A SMART PHONE AND IT SHOULD KNOW WHERE TO PUT STUFF.

Now, if I ask Siri where I am she can tell me.  By providing latitude and longitude.

I am not a map.  I know streets and towns.

The phone has a "Maps" feature.  If I want to go from Point A to Point B it will tell me how to get there.  By taking me through Points C, D, R, and V.

I asked her for a good place to eat.  She didn't understand.

I asked her how to get home.  She didn't know.

Of course, when Siri does address me she calls me "Elvis".  But I had to set that one up myself.

Huh.  My smart phone ain't so smart after all.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

And They Say Car Salesmen Are Deceptive.

I've been keeping a close eye on the Trayvon Martin tragedy in Sanford, Florida.

Now, I'm not rocket surgeon, but it doesn't take a whole lot of smarts to figure out something just ain't right here.

I'm not talking about the basics of the case itself.  Boy goes to store, boy buys stuff, boy walks home, boy gets shot.  Happens in Southwest Atlanta and Clayton County all the time.

At the risk of sounding callous, I have a few questions:

--why are the pictures you see of Trayvon Martin those of a smiling young teenager and not an almost grown 17-year-old?
--why are the pictures you see of George Zimmerman from a 2005 Dade County booking photo and not a more recent one of him clean and dressed up?
--nobody's saying that the reason Martin was at his father's fiancee's house in the first place was because he'd been suspended from school for possession, etc.  Not once, but three times.
--Baby Mama say that the media--yes, the same media that facilitated sympathy for the family--is now "trying to destroy" her son's reputation.  As someone experienced in reputation destruction I can attest that you don't need any help in the process.  You do just fine destroying your reputation all by your lonesome.
--also, what's the need in copyrighting the name "Trayvon" if you're not trying to cash in on an already bad situation?
--pardon my French, but what the hell business does the President of the USA have to do meddling with a case in central Florida?  When did that become a national security issue?  And who cares what his son would look like?

Way too many questions and way too few answers.

And, for the record, if I had a son he'd look like Elvis.  Oh, wait, I do.  And they do.

And they say car salesmen are deceptive.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I Asked Myself...

Since there is no shortage of opinions on current affairs, and since no one has seen fit to tap my vast Opinion Resource Vault, I took it upon myself to ask me what I thought about what's going on.

ME:  Why are gas prices so high?
ME:  Because they can be.  Everybody thinks the oil companies are to blame, but noooooo.  Check out the speculative markets (oil/gas futures) and you'll see what I mean.

Back in the early 70s there was an "Oil Shortage".  Daddy owned an Amoco gas station and our gas was the first in town to hit $1.00 a gallon.  He had a "monthly credit" customer who drove in one day.  Daddy got the nozzle, put it in the tank, and started to pump the gas (I know, this is foreign to those of you under the age of 30).  Mr. Henry popped off "I ain't ever gonna pay a dollar for a gallon of gas," at which point Daddy removed the nozzle, hung it up, and said "You'll be walking in a couple of days." 

Miss the Good Old Days yet?

ME:  Who will win the Republican nomination?
ME:  Romney, hands down.  The Democrats want him to win--that's obvious--and the GOP seems just dumb enough at this point to play into their hands.

ME:  Okay...who will win the General Election?
ME:  Whoever gets the most votes.  Which is pretty much the case in anything where you keep score, except golf, which I hate.  Only in golf can you score the lowest and win.  And by the time you're finished playing you're sunburnt and hungover.

ME:  What's the capital of Ohio?
ME:  Columbus.  Many people think it's Cincinnati or Cleveland, but just as many don't realize Ohio is actually a state.  I also know my state slogans.  For instance, Georgia is the Peach State, Florida's the Sunshine State, Alabama's the Moron State, etc.

ME:  Will the world really end in 2012?
ME:  Yes.  Be ready.  If not, I've built an underground bunker and stocked up on Non-Perishable Food Items for nothing.

ME:  What's the secret to understanding women?
ME:  I once wrote a bestseller, Everything You Need To Know In Order To Understand Women.  It was amazing.  And blank from cover to cover.

ME:  Are you always this sarcastic?
ME:  No, sometimes I'm worst.  It's a blessing.  And a curse.

ME:  Thanks for my time.
ME:  I'm welcome.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Princess and The Airport.

The Princess turned twenty-five yesterday and I aged ten years.

Today she flew to Tampa to spend the remainder of the week with her best friend.

That's where "life is an adventure" comes into play.

We left the house around 6:30am to get her to the Atlanta airport for an 8:55 flight.

After stopping by Fourbucks Starbucks for some caffiene, we headed down GA 400 to the North Springs MARTA station, avoiding downtown traffic during morning rush hour.

I had no idea that morning rush hour would begin seven miles north of the MARTA station.

We crept into the station, got our Breeze pass, boarded "The MARTA" (that's what the Princess calls it), and headed toward the airport.

Thirteen stops stood between us and Hartsfield-Jackson.  That is, once we started moving...apprarently there really IS a time schedule for The MARTA.

Approximately 700 people boarded and unboarded at each stop.  Taking precious time, making us later by the second.

The Princess got more and more quiet as it took longer and longer to get there.

Once we got off the train we were one-hundred feet from AirTran and three minutes late for her plane.  "No problem," the nice AirTran lady said.  The next plane for Tampa leaves at--oh, wait a minute (never a good sign)--at 2:07 this afternoon."

The Princess teared up but maintained her composure.  We got a cup of coffee and I shared with her what "grown-ups" would do in this situation.

By contrast, if it had been either of my sons, I would have dropped them off at North Springs MARTA Station and heard when they got to the airport:  "Hey, Dad, my plane doesn't leave for another five hours and I can play around the airport until then!"

Then I would have waited for the call from the authorities so I could go bail them out.

But not The Princess.

My baby girl Emily turned twenty-five the day before this trip, but grew up immeasurably in the airport last week.  I called to check on her once I got on the road north of Atlanta.

"I'm fine, Dad.  I was okay once you left," she said.

I never thought I'd hear those words.  I'm not sure I ever want to hear them again.

But she is.  Fine. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ringtones and Rudeness.

I sell cars.

I like what I do, and my perspective's pretty good.  A friend once said "Remember, this is making a living, not making a life."

But every now and then...

Here's how my end of the business works:

Someone, somewhere, goes online and searches for a Ford.  They find it at my dealership.  They have to provide contact information (not my fault) in order to get all the information on the vehicle.  They can provide faulty information (such as a phone number like 555-555-5555--this happens a lot).  But, if they provide accurate information we call that "capturing customer information".

And they-can-expect-a-phone-call-from-me.  It's a lock.

And I'll call more than once, because my policy is to contact them until they "buy or die".  But I digress.

I got a lead from the Interweb, emailed the guy, then followed up with a phone call.  Here's the ringtone:

(Music Playing)....God of wonders beyond our galaxy, you are Holy, you are Holy.

He didn't answer, so I left a message, and in it I said how much I liked his ringtone.

Now, fast forward.  I never got him to answer, and I don't bother folks with incessant phone calls and emails.  But I do call periodically.

I left him another message last Saturday morning, and that afternoon (while with a REAL customer) my phone rings.

It was...him.

"Is this Randy Berry?"  Yes, sir, it is.
"Randy Berry?" Yes, sir, it is.  Still. 
"This is ____"  Yes sir, how can I help you?

At this point, quick on my feet as I am, I remembered the ringtone.  So I asked him...

"Where do you go to church?"

He stumbled around, mumbled something, and I took advantage of the moment.

"I just wanted to know where you went to church.  It's obvious that you're a Christian since you have that worship song playing as your ringtone.  Do you talk to everybody the way you just talked to me, or is it just car salesmen?"

He hung up.

What have we learned here today?  If you're going to wear your religion on your sleeve, or bumper, or cell phone, you better either live up to the gospel you say you believe or be prepared to be called out on it.

Maybe he should change his ringtone to the soundtrack from "The Jerk."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Inmates Running the Asylum.

When I lived in Florida I referred to Georgia as a great place to be "from".

Now I'm not so sure.

Granted, when I moved to the Sunshine State from the Peach State I immediately raised the I.Q. in both places, but I managed to forget what I left behind.  It's.  Back.

We lovingly referred to Macon as the "Armpit of the South" due to its proliferation of paper mills, which replaced alarm clocks as the wake-up call of choice when I resided in Shorter Hall on the Mercer campus.

I'm beginning to think Atlanta may be the "Lobotomy Center" of the South.  Let me explain.

Undercurrents of this idiocy have been around since 2008 when our current President was elected.  Thanks to some ding-dongs under the Gold Dome the currents have become a tidal wave.

To wit, they want President Obama to appear before a Georgia Judge in a Georgia Court to prove he's a natural-born United States citizen.  Because in order to legally serve as President you have to be a natural-born United States citizen.

When we moved back to the Moron State from the Sunburn State I had to, naturally, get a Georgia Driver's License.  Here's what I needed to "change states"...besides having a VALID FLORIDA DRIVER'S LICENSE:

--be at least 18 years of age (covered a long time ago).
--surrender a valid out-of-state license (the term "surrender" was a leftover from that bastard Sherman's rampage through the South and should have risen several red flags, but, no.).
--have a verifiable Social Security number (it will be verified).
--provide proof of Georgia residency (current bank statement, utility bill, rental contract, or a relative with a valid Georgia Driver's License who must also be present when you apply).
--proof of identity (yes, finally, here's the good part)--birth certificate, marriage license, immigration card, and so on.

So I go to the Department of Driver Services office in Cumming, Georgia with my Florida Driver's License, Social Security Card, bank statement, Mama, my birth certificate and marriage license.

And waited.  And waited, and waited some more.

Three and a half hours later my number was called and I approached the bench.  To be stared down by Nurse Ratched's sister, recently relieved of her Milledgeville duties and now a cheerful employee of the DDS, paid by me and you.  Our tax dollars hard at work.

I dutifully presented my life history on paper, got my picture took, and was the proud possessor (not owner) of a Georgia Driver's License.

I'm sure there are numerous felony cases waiting to be heard by the courts of our fair state, but someone, somewhere, has decided the "birther" case is more important.

There's tax reform, education bills, and the like that need to be addressed by our Legislature.

Instead our officials are wasting spending their time--and our money--on this non-issue.

If it gets big enough it will probably cost Republicans this state in November.

I think we should send 'em all to the local DDS office for a while.  As a customer.  That should do it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bar Stool Economics.

A friend of mine emailed me the following...I don't know who wrote it, but I wish I did.  Plagiarism at its unadulterated best:

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.  If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this… 

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1
The sixth would pay $3
The seventh would pay $7
The eighth would pay $12
The ninth would pay $18
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.  “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20″.  Drinks for the ten men would now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.  So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.  But what about the other six men ?  How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33.  But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% saving).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% saving).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% saving).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% saving).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% saving).

Each of the six was better off than before.  And the first four continued to drink for free.  But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the $20 saving,” declared the sixth man.  He pointed to the tenth man,”but he got $10!” 

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man.  “I only saved a dollar too.  It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!”  “That’s true!” shouted the seventh man.  “Why should he get $10 back, when I
got only $2?  The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all.  This new tax system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. 
But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important.  They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works.  The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction.  Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.  In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The End Of An Era. Again.

I check the online edition of the Barnesville, Georgia, Herald-Gazette almost daily.  I need to know who's died, who's living, and other assorted happenings from the Mayberry I grew up in.

It was here where I read Carter's Drug Store was closing.

I remember going to Carter's when I was a young boy.  Mr. J. R. Smith would send me there, just around the corner from the Ford place, to pick up cigars for him.  Yes, at six or seven years old, I could walk into Carter's and get Mr. Smith half-a-dozen Hav-A-Tampa Coronas.  Without identification.  And without money.

All I had to say was "Mr. Smith needs some cigars", and Mr. Stoney Carter would hand them to me, write the items down on a sales pad, and send me on my way.  I was stimulating the economy by using credit before I was in the second grade.

For what it's worth, I could do similar things at Shelor's Drug Store down Main Street, Otis Roberts' Florist, and Burnette's Grocery, to name a few.  Mr. Jim Murphy had a jewelry repair shop across the "square" from Carter's.  Bought clothes at Romeo's Fine Men's Wear and Mansour's.  Saw Santa at Wisebram's (strange that a Jewish store owner would have Santa, but hey--money's money).  Bought my first ex-fiancee's engagement ring at Moore and Zorn's Jewelers.

I could walk across the railroad tracks from the Ford place to the Dairy Queen and Mrs. Pritchett would start grilling my hamburger before I got in the door.  And give me a squeeze bottle of ketchup instead of those annoying little packets.

They're all gone now, along with Davis-Cooper Ford (which is what J. R. Smith Ford became), Daddy's Amoco Station (replaced by a McDonald's), the Frosty Palace, McConnell's and McClellan's Five and Dime, and just about everything else I grew up with.

It was at Carter's that I encountered some cadets from Gordon Military College (then Gordon Junior College, now just Gordon College) one day.  As I gathered Mr. Smith's cigars one of the cadets asked me who my "old man" was.

I told them I didn't have an old man, but my Daddy was Roscoe Berry.  They just laughed.

I'd pick up the phone and tell Miss Sara I wanted to talk to Daddy and she'd connect me.  We thought we'd gone big-time when we got dial phones.  Our number was 358-3404 and you didn't have to dial the area code first.

We got air-conditioning in our house when I was twelve or thirteen.  Before that we used a "draw-fan" to keep the air stirring in the daytime and cool the house at night.  We left the windows open and the cars unlocked.

There's more--so much more--but suffice it to say I miss Mayberry Barnesville.