Archive for April, 2010

Off-duty: Trapped at Chuck E. Cheese

I recently attended my granddaughter’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. I anticipated this event with as much glee as I did for my last prostate exam.

My memories of Chuck E. Cheese are saturated with visions of children, out of control, running through the endless maze of loudly clanging rides, demanding more tokens all the while riding a Coca-Cola sugar high that lasts about two months. I remember parents with the look of doom hopelessly trying to keep up with the adolescent frenzy of movement that soon blended into a whirlwind of sound and movement that left young mothers with the look of a strung-out meth queen.

Even though I was not part of the first line of defense for my granddaughter’s birthday party, I cringed as I drove in the pouring rain — perfect weather for such an event. The parking lot was full. I could see the movement inside. There appeared to be two thou— no — 10,000 kids running amok, as if dancing to some evil sadistic ritual, probably circling the …

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Our traffic makes us crazy — and distracted

This town and this traffic have made us crazy.

I sat in my car yesterday on GA 400 in north Sandy Springs, just hoping that I could get north of exit 11 before the slowdown. No such luck. It was toast at exit 10.

We all know the normal spots where traffic backs up so we when we hit it, we’re not surprised. When it piled up some five miles before that spot, I was totally unprepared. I fell back on what has become an Atlanta tradition: talking to myself in the car. Venting with the windows up so nobody can hear you.

Yesterday I cussed out a good 10 or 12 people and they never even knew it! The %$#*& and the @#&^% all fit in the right places when no one can hear you.

I was quietly cussing out an elderly man who had the nerve to not move up in traffic so we could advance 12 feet before again stopping! I know — you’re outraged as I was. Apparently, my windows aren’t tinted as dark as they need to be because he looked over and was cussing me out, too. I could read his lips and I …

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Don’t fall victim to census scams

Once again we’re getting a lot of cases of Internet fraud. Nothing new, just the same old fundamental scam using different approaches.

Currently, census scams are naturally floating around.

Common scams involve telephone fraud and Internet “phishing” activities. There also are reports of scammers sending fake census surveys that include extra lines for personal or financial data. (You can check the real form online).

Here is the “clue” as we like to say: Real census requests DO NOT ask for financial information.

Phone scammers often start by being ultra-friendly and “official sounding” at the same time. They may say they’re calling to “verify” information the resident provided or to obtain more details. In fact, census workers rarely come back for more details.

If someone claims to be doing that, ask for their name, identity and request a government phone number to check the call’s legitimacy. (The real U.S. Census Bureau call center numbers are 301-763-4636 or …

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Off-duty: The worst cars ever

MSN recently posted the 10 worst cars ever. They were:

  • 1971 Chevy Vega
  • 1978 Ford Pinto
  • 1960 Chevrolet Corvair
  • 1978 Fiat Strada
  • 1974 Chevy Vega
  • 1973 Triumph Stag
  • The Yugo Koral
  • 1984 Pontiac Fiero
  • The Trubant
  • 1974 Mazda RX2

They also threw in the 2002 Plymouth Prowler to show that it wasn’t only back then that manufacturers made ugly cars. The Prowler looked too goofy to pass as a hot rod. That front end didn’t sell as well as they hoped and, besides, how do you sell a car as a hot rod when it has only 250 hp?

My first car was pretty cool: a 1968 Austin Healey Sprite. It was fun in the summer, but small. Then it didn’t matter.

The worst car I had was a 1960 Ford Falcon. I bought it in San Diego when I was in the Navy. It was bright orange, jacked up in the back and with chrome reverse wheels on it.

The floorboard was sort of there and sort of not there, with plywood covering a big hole. It was great for long trips when you didn’t want to stop to go to the bathroom.

The …

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Back from the bizarre world of the night shift

I took a break last week so I could work the night command, meaning I got a front seat for the midnight zoo.

I wasn’t disappointed. There were people (nekid) running around acting crazy — or maybe not acting at all. I’d forgotten how bizarre it is sometimes, but the drunks are still doing things that made them famous, like getting out of the car and running when they get pulled over by the police.

One poor fellow got out and I guess he was just a little too drunk, because he leaned over a little too far as he ran, forcing himself into the pavement after about 10 feet.

Fights in the bars, and people keeping the lawyers employed with all those DUI arrests. It’s a strange place out here when the rest of us are sleeping!

Speaking of strange, check out these arrests

An officer passed by the parking lot of a bar in the 5800 block of Roswell Road and reported he heard a loud argument (even with his windows up) in the lot. He said he spoke to the couple and the female seemed to be …

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As Northside traffic worsens, avoid road rage with a cool head

Right outside my office window (wave if you pass by; mine’s the window with the lava lamp) they’re putting in exit and entrance ramps for Hammond Drive off Roswell Road.

The project will take 30-something months, so by the time it’s completed, you’ll actually be able to gridlock at Hammond instead of going all the way to Abernathy!

Traffic on the north side is — well, has been — out of control for years. Deep-pocket developers and self-serving politicians said: “Let’s develop all the way to Dahlonega, and out toward Gainesville, for all those folks driving in toward Atlanta.”

At the time, GA 400 had two lanes north and south. Soon, the 34-minute ride north in the afternoon became 40 minutes, then an hour, and now some are spending two hours each way. That’s crazy!

Remember when there used to be “windows” of driving opportunities? Rush hours were from 7-8:30 a.m. and then 4-6 p.m. Lunchtime didn’t count because you could get around. You could get up on Saturday and go to the …

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