Friday, July 14, 2006


"There will be a little surprise at the end of this," the woman on the phone told me Thursday. Uh-oh - are these phone sex lines so desperate for business that they're calling ME now, instead of the other way around?

The woman was calling from something called Publishers' Business Services, and wanted to speak to the "head of the business." The response to our launch of Power Frisbee truly has been overwhelming - from the telemarketers and junk mail companies, at least.

The woman claimed to be doing a brief survey, and wanted to know if I do a lot of reading in my free time. While I make time for Bible study every day, I really don't read a lot of other things - except for the other local blogs, to see if they beat me to any big stories. You know, about Florida fishing trips....

Then the woman wanted to know what magazine subscriptions I have. At the moment I have only one - and it's a free magazine from the church denomination I attend. When "Entertainment Weekly" put "Queer Eyes for the Straight Guy" on its cover instead of the death of Bob Hope, it lost me.

Those answers seemed to short-circuit the survey - but then the woman offered her little surprise. Through some kind of special deal with publishers, I would get 60 issues of five or six different magazines. And I'd get them all FREE! If only the city of Columbus were offered this - local illiteracy might drop dramatically.

The woman on the phone named a few of the magazines I'd get - and they covered a wide range, from "Christianity Today" to "Hot Rod." This contrast seems a bit strange. How many churches have lost tithe money, because guys bought extra chrome for their cars?

I couldn't believe this little surprise I was hearing. "I'll get the next five years of several different magazines - free?!"

"Yes," the woman answered. "All we ask is that you help pay for the postage." So Time/Life wouldn't get any of my money - but I'd make a helpful contribution to the Postal Service.

"How much is that?" I asked, suspecting the big catch was about to come.

"Two dollars, 76 cents a week," the woman said. A week?! At least Georgia Power lets me pay one month at a time.

That weekly postage price, by the way, was for each magazine. "So that's two dollars, 76 cents," I said calling up the calculator on my computer near the phone, "times six magazines, times 52 weeks, times five years." And what you have is a great practice math question for next year's CRCT exam....

"That comes to 717 dollars, 60 cents," I told the woman on the phone. "But they're free magazines!?!"

"They're free from the publishers," the woman tried to explain, "but they're simply asking for your help with the postage." As if these publishers need my help?! It's like me asking blog readers for their help with the.... oh wait, I already do that, don't I?

"Paying 718 dollars for magazines is NOT free," I said as I turned the telemarketer down. It may be less than the price of freedom they talk about at Fort Benning, but it's still not free....

A check online Thursday night found Publishers Business Services has its own web site, apparently providing customer support and answering questions. But it also has plenty of critics, who claim the company coerced them into binding contracts for magazines they didn't want. Just because your car has a rear spoiler nowadays does NOT automatically mean it's a hot rod.

OVERHEARD OVER HERE: One man is talking to another man downtown about the high price of gasoline -- and offers his own unique solution:

"We've got all that oil in Alaska, and Congress is too nice to drill it. We should nuke the capital of Alaska, nuke Washington, D.C. -- and while we're at it, Iran and North Korea."

E-MAIL UPDATE: We hear again from our occasional Smiths Station correspondent:

Did someone forget to turn off the Fireworks switch, - What a display of fireworks Uniroyal announced Tuesday.

Around half the Opelika work force to be laid off later this year which some are Smiths Station residents, Let me guess, that management told employees not to worry about anything before the 4th Holiday session and go out and spend and have an great vacation,,.

Half the work force people are not going to make Union wages for awhile - until they can find other Unions around here that need that many people...

And some of you are worrying on how to pay for your power bill this summer, is this just bad timing - Also announced by Uniroyal/Michelin/Goodrich that the Mexico plants will be increased for more production of Passenger tires...

Wait a minute here -- Uniroyal says that Passenger tires sales are way down and have to lay off american workers and also a Plant in Ontario -- but -- at the same time announced that the Mexican Plants are increasing for the demand of Passenger tires...sounds like that Burrito and Bowl of chilly has some loaded beans in it..


Mandatory trash pickup is closer to making it's way onto the Streets..

Talk around the area has someone saying false claims on that Radio talk show in the Mornings about Smiths Water and Sewage Authority in Smtihs Station - seems that some one from the Radio station has talked to Smiths Station's Mayor and would like the Mayor to come on to the Show to set comments correct.. --

Is the Mayor on the board of Smiths Water and Sewage ,, - Does the Mayor oversee daily duties of the Smiths Water and Sewage, - Is Smiths Water and Sewage their own Authority????

No one to answer outside the Board memebers...!

Can we have some measurable rain....Please

I'll start with that last item - and I'm afraid I can't offer you any. For one thing, the scattered showers missed downtown Columbus Thursday. For another thing, Blaine Stewart has stopped presenting the weather on WRBL for a few days.

You have to wonder where laid-off employees from BF Goodrich will find "union wages" anywhere. After all, they're in Alabama -- where the union has been held in skepticism for about 145 years.

Mandatory trash pickup doesn't necessarily have to head "onto the streets," you know. All it takes are some alleyways behind those nice Smiths Station homes....

I can't speak for Smiths Water and Sewage, but the Columbus Mayor has a seat on the Water Works board. In fact, Bob Poydasheff has a seat on so many boards around town that it's no wonder he hasn't had time to campaign for reelection.

Now for drips and drabs from the Thursday news:

+ Environmental Protection Agency experts held a meeting in Columbus, and made a surprising announcement. The E.P.A. has concluded Columbus's air pollution comes from the east, not the west. OK, how much did Continental Carbon donate to the Republican Party?

(Do you realize what this finding means? It could allow Continental Carbon to get out of those lawsuits filed by South Columbus residents. And since the E.P.A. blames most of the pollution on wood burning, it could lead to a big lawsuit against Fort Benning.)

+ The Columbus Urban League held its annual "Equal Opportunity Day" banquet. Can anyone who attended tell me if this event lived up to its name - with both Reginald Pugh and Ed Harbison giving speeches?

+ The U.S. House voted to extend sections of the Voting Rights Act. Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland argued Southern states should NOT continue to require Justice Department approval of election changes, 40 years after the act was adopted. Maybe he hasn't noticed how many Southern churches still look segregated.

+ Columbus State University held its orientation day for new students. They learned about all sorts of C.S.U. traditions - hopefully including Scott Miller's top five "lucky spots" for basketball games.

+ The New York Times reported 18 Auburn football players from the 2004 undefeated season may have taken a "soft" sociology course called Directed Reading. Well, at least they WERE reading. They didn't hire tutors to do it for them, as someone in Georgia football did years ago.

+ Meanwhile, the Opelika-Auburn News reported Auburn linebacker Kevin Sears was convicted on three drunk driving counts. The Tigers have had so many D.U.I. cases lately that they could play in next winter's Bud Bowl.

+ Columbus native Frank Thomas sued two Chicago White Sox doctors, claiming they misdiagnosed his foot injury last season. Somehow, I doubt we'll see the same sort of lawsuit from Barry Bonds about THIS season....

+ WRBL presented a report on Internet safety, including a 14-year-old girl whose Myspace page says she lives in "a name you can't pronounce, Alabama." They traveled all the way to Arab to do this story?!

+ The Associated Press reported the federal government's list of potential terrorist targets includes a kangaroo conservation farm in Dawsonville, Georgia. You may think this sounds silly - but remember, kangaroos can hide all sorts of things in their pouches.

+ Instant Message to Casey Cagle and Ralph Reed: Why aren't you running any TV commercials promoting your Lieutenant Governor campaigns in Columbus? Have you two decided this area is too strongly Democratic? Or are you laughing at the "Give 'em Hecht" ads?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.69 a gallon (as of Thursday afternoon) at Dolly Madison on Victory Drive.... Watch batteries changed for two to four dollars at Lane Jewelers on Broadway.... Tryouts for "America's Next Top Model" Saturday at the RiverCenter (but arrrgh, I have commitments)....

COMING THIS WEEKEND: Which local candidate says his opponent lacks integrity and tells "a lot of lies?" It's a Blog Exclusive....

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