Monday, March 26, 2012

Haiku Monday: EGG

Daddy inspecting
daughters dressed like daffodils
Ahhhhh... proud Rooster day

Eggs in the garden,
Sisters  shrieking, competing.
Crowing vict'ry dance!

Craziness abounds!
Parents run with egg filled spoons
While children twitter

Symbol of rebirth
Passion moves our hearts & souls
The rooster crowed thrice

Big sister seeking
elusive golden egg prize
screams her hope and joy

Infectious laughter,
Noble spirit. Wise. Gracious. 
THE best egg ever.

Little sister paints
Easter eggs of animals.
Her present from God.

Making traditions
gathered in Mama's kitchen
celebrating Christ

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Leave Me Be!

I am way beyond just being annoyed with the current trend in retailing to extract as much personal data as possible from every victim crossing their thresholds.

It is out of control.  No doubt we all read about the angry father who sued Target for outing his teen daughter's pregnancy.  Did you miss this event? The short version is  Targets data base collated the information that Daughter was no longer buying personal products, was no longer buying anything with perfumes and was buying a new type of vitamin.  Thus the analysis at TargetDataCentral deduced this "guest" was pregnant. Target then  mailed  her  their congratulations along with discount coupons for baby nursery furniture, layette items and diapers. Dad was  initially furious at Target for insulting his daughter and harming her good name. Ultimately this dad was  horrified to learn Target knew what he did not. His teenage, unmarried, high school  attending daughter was pregnant. Target had "outed" her pregnancy.

Do you suppose this now means unmarried teens will forgo taking their prenatal vitamins to keep a secret?

I have had a war on with the loyalty programs for quite some time. I do not believe they are in place to award me savings of any description. I believe they are all about data mining. I avoid them. I often ask the cashiers at the registers to use the counter card so I too can pay the lower price for an item. Some do this without pause. Others take the opposite path.  On these occasions I have the choice to leave without the items selected, pay the greater price and move on or, I can choose to stand my ground and if that means holding up a line and calling a manager then I have to be prepared to be hated by those in line behind me.

When I returned from Fizzing about I made a dedicated trip to the local SmartyPets store to buy 4 cases of canned dog food for my aging Spaniel. His teeth are down to nubs so  crunching kibble is a thing of the past. This sweet, sweet animal still spins joy circles every time  he sees me. With or without the food bowl.  I am always willing to make the journey across town to purchase the food he most enjoys.

I waited my turn to pay.
 There are 8 registers but just one cashier on station. There are several other personnel in the logo shirt  not stocking or inventorying or working in any visible way. What they are not doing is manning a register. It becomes apparent the one cashier is new. Also slow. But very cheerful giving her full attention to each customer and concentrating on the process of  each checkout. When I am the next one up another cashier opens a register and those  behind me flee to that line. I was boxed in and could not possibly have responded when she called out "I can help the next person !".

When it was my turn the cashier asked,
" Do you have your rewards card with you today?"
" No"
" Are you a member?"
" Great! I get extras for signing people up for our program! "
" Sorry, I am not a fan of rewards cards so this is not something I do"
" It only takes a minute"
"No thanks, can you just ring up my order please."
"What is your phone number?"
" Private"
"What? there is no such thing!"
" There is. Can we please proceed with the check out?" I inquired while holding a fistful of twenties.
" Sure thing! What is your e-mail address?"
" Also private. Can we proceed now?"
" Not without your data."
" Uh, not too sure I understand you?"
" Do you want to use a credit card?"
" No."
" Well if we do not have your data from your rewards membership, your phone number, your e-mail or a credit card I can't ring up your sale".
I should have walked away.
Instead I asked the cashier to  either put in a phone number of her choosing or to call her manager.
" Ma'am. This is a new job. I need this job. I am trying to do my job but you are insisting on getting me into trouble. Just give me your phone number so I can keep my job?"
I did almost give her a false phone number. But. If I was going to have a stroke from rising blood pressure
I did not want to go out as a sheeple. I tried one more time.
" Here are my purchases.  Here is my cash. Can we proceed?"
" Your phone number please?"
 I turned; walked over to the  logo shirts and said, " which one of you needs to over ride that register so I can buy this dog food and leave?"   A woman about my age stepped up and said with a grin,
" We actually hope for customers like you when we have trainees!"
" Former customer", I replied.

After this experience I wanted nothing more than to go home.  Maybe I should resign myself to this new attitude of every sort of commerce has a  right to my data. I cannot. It deeply offends me. When exactly did I have to forfeit my rights to privacy in order to shop?

Just across the parking lot is a big box hardware store. I needed to pick up a door knocker for one of my projects. A quick in and out I told myself. No drama. Get the thing, stand in line, pay, leave.   It didn't happen.  I did not want to sign up to have all my current and future purchases captured in their data base.  I did not want a store credit card. I did not want to disburse my phone numbers or e-mail addresses. I did not want to be data mined. A fact which I mentioned to the nice man who was trying his best to recruit my participation.  Nice Man sighed saying, " We all have to  open cards or get program signee quotas to keep our jobs. Are you sure you don't want to enroll?" I declined. I hope Nice Man keeps his job. I hope dog food cashier keeps hers too. If they don't I hope they will sue their former employers for the good of us all.

Driving home I thought this new big retail attitude was going to be the salvation of Mom and Pop stores.
For those of us who do not want to be mined, outed or harassed we will need to take our business elsewhere. A line has been crossed. Once a retailer has authorized a POS system which refuses a sale without  the relinquishing of  personal data  there is no pretense left.
This is a war.
 Privacy has lost some ginormous rounds these past few years. At some point,  we consumers will have to choose. We can no longer just use misdirection for our own protection. The data bases know if the e-mail addresses or phone numbers are bogus. The coming horrors? Hold onto your seats. The newest POS  systems will be using  facial recognition software at the check out station cameras to process our purchases. No data needed.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Home 2 Home

Returning to places and people you love dearly is always a risk. What if you simply cannot bring yourself to go home? It is no secret I left my beloved Sarasota kicking and screaming. I do not transplant well. I get attached to things:  Trees. architecture, incredibly green, huge, tropical leaves, turquoise oceans,  beach babies looking like human palominos, shade dappled roads with incredible oak  colonnades. 
The welcoming arms of people I love.

I had a great time at the birthday party for a nephew. This is the nephew who had the least one on one with Aunt Fishy growing up. I had moved away when he was pretty young so instead of being the regular baby sitter and spoiler, I was a holiday visitor in his life. He is a man with a big, sweet heart so he loves me anyway. I am blessed. So is he. By his oh-so darling wife who baked him a triple chocolate cake which she served with homemade coffee ice cream. She who without the least bit of hesitancy wrote on her wall his birth date  and time of arrival proclaiming this to be the moment in time when the world became a a better place.  

I brought him a shirt, and the cookie jar.
To his credit I think he was touched by this gift. It is a family story this pig, but when you have just one cookie pig and multiple children then more pigs are needed. This is why an Aunt Fishy is a good thing to have.  The truth is I cannot think of a better gift than one which speaks of love. This nephew has had many a delight from the original pig.Judging by the cake  and the testimonial wall I suspect he will have a full jar for life.

The Farmer's market was a delight. I went with three generations of loves. We came a bit late, 9:30 because we had all stayed long at the party the night before. We were eager for our breakfasts . I indulged in a serving of sweet potato bread pudding and raspberry tea.  Yum.  I love the sights, sounds, smells of a good  outdoor market. This one has many dogs, some on foot, many in strollers
wearing clothes. I find this disturbing. I like for a dog to be a dog.

I could hear wind chimes at Mama's gravesite. Not the one I hung in the tree for her.
The tree was nearly encapsulated in heavy moss. I don't think I have ever seen a year with more moss. The part of the tree where I hung her wind chime was completely massed in the stuff. It did not matter.  With each soft breeze there was a sweet song
offered. I was fine with that. God cannot be conquered by moss. Nor love.

Hits Ocala is held at Post Time Farm. The horse show  grounds are laid out inside the race track.  It is huge. Ringling,Barnum and Bailey would have been jealous at the number of rings all going at the same time.

One of the things I love about horse shows in Florida is the trees. Florida is hot. The horses, riders, trainers, ringmen,judges and spectators all get very, very, hot. Wisely, rings have been established around huge shading oak trees. It help manage the heat exposure and it is beautiful. A win win for all.

I like the culture of horse shows. Families are here with the kids, the horses, the dogs, the grannies. It is a way of life I admire. At this particular level families secure berths for grooms and steeds for this 6 week  season. The kids are in school, the parents have careers so they fly in to the show on Fridays and back home on Sunday nights. But there are others who live within range and trailer in for the day to take their place in the sun.

I like this too. This may be considered the sport of kings but my belief is it is a sport for all who have love and talent for the game. There are equine athletes of noble pedigree and still others the result of a broken fence. Most horses who compete at this level love the sport and strive to shine. I love this.

I left before I had intended. Tornado watch, heavy winds, sporadic rains, dropping temperatures began to erode my pleasure in the experience. And I missed  my family.
So the Fizz and I headed home.  What is funny is on the way to this journey I was also headed home. Thus I traveled from home to home and then back home again. This is a present. To feel I am home in many locations, in the embrace of my many loves. Sweet.

Today it was back to trying to understand why this project is again delayed. There were three e-mails from Keith asking what could be done to " keep this project moving".
It's a valid question. It needs an answer.
 Welcome home to the hot water Fishy.