Thursday, September 29, 2011

TeleCheck and Tractor Supply Company -- Not Professional

I have shopped at The Tractor Supply Company in Beaumont for years.  If you can avoid the junkier made-in-China stuff, TSC features some good products at good prices.  However, I'm going to avoid the Beaumont Tractor Supply Company altogether in the near future until they become more professional, and will stay away from any other business entangled with TeleCheck.

On Tuesday I bought some pet food and a hose repair kit (made in China, to replace the even worse made-in-China connections on a made-in-China hose not even a year old) at the Tractor Supply in Beaumont, and my check was refused.  I feared that perhaps my checking account had been compromised and so paid in cash and drove straight to my bank.

In the event, my account was fine; the problem lay with TeleCheck and with Beaumont's Tractor Supply for retaining TeleCheck's services. 

The young person at the cash register was professional, and I do not fault her at all; she has been let down by an employer whose concept of customer service is a presumption of guilt.  Having one's check refused in front of several employees and customers is embarrassing.

I wrote TSC corporate a polite but firm letter in the matter.  In addition to not patronizing Tractor Supply Company, I'm going to avoid shopping at any store in collusion with TeleCheck, even though I almost always pay cash.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Mack Hall, HSG


O may our lives close like a leaf that falls
And laughs in falling at its happy end
Air-dancing down a sky of Dresden blue
Sun-sliding sideways in a blithesome breeze
Soft-singing in a sweet sinopian sun
Who smiles grandfatherly on each blest leaf
Remembering its spring, and summer too
Pushed from the wood after the last fell frost
To grow from mother-tree and taste the air
In the Apollonian sun of youth
To work and play in Saturnian summer
And then to glow in ripe Pomona’s dusk
In celebration of all life, and then
At last to leap into eternity

25 September 2011

A Bed-and-Breakfast...

A bed-and-breakfast is what a brothel becomes when it has lost all self-respect.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Death of the Medicare Sled

Mack Hall, HSG

The Death of the Medicare Sled

On Friday the last Ford Crown Victoria was assembled and sold, ending the era of the big American sedan.  Except for our humble, democratically-elected, self-denying public servants looking down upon us benignly from the armored windows of their custom-built limousines, sedans are Barbie-cars now, little plastic constructs more suitable for the nursery floor than for Route 66.

This last big American iron was actually built by Esquimaux and Mounties in Canada, between the assembly lines for birch-bark canoes and dog sleds.  What a mess – we can’t even fail in our own country; we have to cross the border so another country can help us commit industrial suicide.

But wait – there’s more.  The Saint Thomas Assembly plant in Talbotville, Ontario was closed with the production of the last Crown Vic, and that last Crown Vic was sent to Saudi Arabia.  From that box of metaphorical parts one can build an irony bigger than the car.

Beaumont ISD has not yet announced its lawsuit against Ford because of the economic impact of the end of the non-compact.

And now the unemployed Canadian auto workers must also worry about a big American satellite (something else we used to build) falling on them.

NASA’s 6+ ton Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite, launched in 1991, is due to fall to earth sometime and somewhere this week, maybe on you.  If these six tons of knowledge bash you, you might be in trouble because NASA has said you’re not supposed to touch any of it.  Your smoking ashes could be arrested.

Something styling itself says that NASA says (and if someone says that someone says that someone else says, hey, it must be true) that there’s only a one in 3,200 chance of you getting evolved and devolved by this somewhat heavier-than-air junior high school science experiment gone rogue.  At last report there were some 312,191,000 American customers for Chinese manufactures, and so if we limit the crash site to Alaska, Hawaii, or the contiguous states, only 9,787 Americans are going to die from a massive satellite fail this week.

The satellite might instead fall on Canada, though.  American weather reporters often tell us that a given hurricane is nothing but a fish storm heading off to the north to Newfoundland, and so no one is going to be impacted.  Thus, since Newfoundland is inhabited only by fish, six tons of recyclables descending upon St. John’s will harm only an unemployed codfish or two.

Beaumont ISD has not yet announced its lawsuit against NASA because of the economic impact of the impact of a satellite cratering Mollie’s Irish CafĂ©’ along Water Street.

Just a passing – or falling – thought here – when America’s slide-ruliest math nerds launched this thing twenty years ago, why did they not plan for a controlled landing?

Imagine Ford dropping a Crown Victoria out of orbit to flame down upon a Tim Horton’s in Talbotville, Ontario where a former Ford employee is carrying out the garbage just before locking up for the night.

An engineer would say that’s the price of knowledge; a liberal arts graduate would ask what happened to his doughnut.

Beaumont ISD has not yet announced its lawsuit against Tim Horton’s because of, oh, any excuse will do.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

When Writing About 9/11...

When writing about 9/11, never miss an opportunity to avoid talking about yourself.  9/11 is not about you, where you were, your feelings, how your world changed, how 9/11 defined you, how you made a blankie square; it's about the people who were murdered.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

First Morning as a School Volunteer

My Frist...First Day of School
by Mack Hall, Esq.

I woke up early.

I took a bath.

I ate some breakfast of toast and cheese and coffee.

I dressed nice because this was my first day as a Book Buddy.

I said good morning to the dogs and the cats and the kittens. I said good bye to the dogs and the cats and the kittens. I made sure they had food and fresh water.

I wne t...went to school. I was scared. And then I saw lots of my friends and I wasn't scared no m...any more.

My Book Buddy is (name). He is very nice. He wears glasses like I do. He likes to read like I do. He likes mysterys...mysrte...mysteries, like I do. We read a book about lion kittens. It was fun. (name) reads good...well. He took a computer est...test about the book about the lion kittens. He did good...well.

I got candy.

I like school. I am going to go back every Friday.

More old should volunteer at their elementary schools.

My dogs and cats and kittens were very glad to see me.
The End

The Russian Soldier, 1918

Mack Hall, HSG
 The Russian Soldier, 1918

The Russian soldier, Moskina1 in hand,
Though filthy, tired, unknown, unpaid, unfed,
Fights for his God, his Czar, and his Fatherland:
No medals, no vodka, no sleep, no bread

His clumsy lowest-bidder boots,2 they rot
Into the foulness where the world’s sins pitch
Into the slime of old Iscariot3
Good men to die in some Gehenna-ditch

Saint George, Saint Michael, and Saint Seraphim
Preserve him in his soul from Judas’ crime4
Life’s-end tears, life’s-end prayers, a blood-choked scream
And so he climbs the trench wall one last time,

Three cartridges5 clenched in his frozen fist,
He disappears at last into the mist6

1.        Moss-Nagant rifle
2.        Betrayal by contractors
3.        Betrayal by politicians and Bolsheviks
4.        The Russian soldier does not fail his duty
5.        Ammunition shortage / the Trinity / God, Czar, and Fatherland
6.        The Russian soldier is known to God

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Menace of Unregistered Piccolos

Mack Hall, HSG

The Menace of Unregistered Piccolos

(In green accordance with the green ClichĂ©’ Protection Act of 1904 as greenly amended in 2008 and greenly interpreted by a green and hemorrhoidal federal GS-4 clerk this week, no predictable puns on frets and sour notes were employed in the green construction of this green column)

With the falling dollar, the worst unemployment since 1945, a border so open that the Mexican army makes unopposed raids into the USA, and the ownership of what remains of our economy by our merry friends the People’s Liberation Army, we can take comfort in the fact that our federal government is at last striking back – against Gibson Guitar.  

Extremist Gibson craftsmen in Memphis and Nashville have been terrorizing the American people long enough with their unregistered guitars manufactured from unauthorized wood.

But all is not lost – in the past few weeks crack squads of federal commandos have mounted bold raids against jihadist woodworkers armed with chisels of mass destruction.  Evil guitars have been seized, as well as undocumented alien wood.  The records of the un-mutual activities of the out-of-control Gibson Guitar workers may well lead to a series of trials in the spirit of Roland Freisler, the patron not-a-saint of the modern federal judiciary.

Something styled the Lacey Act and the whims of the Forest Stewardship Council, the Customs service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service (Fish?  Wildlife?  Guitars?) are used to suppress guitar manufacture and ownership in these United States.  A maker of guitars must be able to provide to any of the increasingly numerous and pestilential types of federal police documentation about the species and national origins of any wood used to build a guitar in this country.  Further, any American who owns a guitar must also be able to provide documentation to any of the many types of federal police about the species and national origins of any wood in a privately-owned guitar.  Failure to do so will result in a fine and in the seizure of the guitar.

Don’t try to cross a border or board an aircraft with a guitar you want to keep – if you don’t have the paperwork for your guitar and some fellow with a federal badge wants your guitar, it’s his.

You’ll never see your guitar again.

How’s that for a topic for a protest song, eh?

Your possession of a guitar or any other musical instrument containing wood is now a crime of which you are automatically guilty unless you can document your innocence.  What sort of wood is in any part of your great-grandpa’s fiddle?  Prove it, citizen.  That old guitar you bought in a pawn shop and restored?  Your papers, please, citizen.  The piano your ancestors bought in the 19th century?  Tell us what we want to know about the ivory and the wood, citizen.   Your grandma’s old high school Bundy clarinet from the 1950s?  You must explain yourself, citizen.

And what offense has the Gibson Guitar company committed against The People to find itself particularly singled out by the regime?

What a better world this would be if the internal security police were to lay aside their stinkin’ badges, their pistols, and their warrants and other inky blots and sit with the Gibson Guitar workers at their work benches for an hour.  Imagine a federal agent who never had a real job learning how a craftsman selects and processes a bit of wood for a guitar fret.  Imagine federal judges learning something about work and art instead of oppressing workers and artists.

In anticipation of Labor Day the feds did an Eliot Ness on guitar makers; maybe in memory of 9/11 they’ll bust some uppity flutists.