Thursday, February 11, 2010

11 FEB 10: Cold Cranks

Wednesday's high temperature in Columbus was 42 degrees F. That probably would be welcome in snowbound Washington or Philadelphia -- but a north wind made it uncomfortably chilly for some people. I saw one man wearing three layers of clothing during the morning. Two more, and he might have been a Taco Bell burrito.

But some Columbus drivers are being careless in the cold. Police noted Wednesday several cars are being stolen, while owners warm them up in the morning. And some of us thought criminals would be sleeping in, after breaking into schools in the middle of the night.

Police Sgt. Ken Hudson told WRBL juveniles are going through Columbus neighborhoods before sunrise, looking for unattended cars being warmed up. Some thieves are searching at 5:00 a.m. - which should end the idea that Columbus still is a sleepy Southern town.

(These bad guys didn't hear their parents quite right years go. The early bird gets the worm - not the wagon.)

You may think your car is safe if you start the engine, then lock the doors and carry your remote lock button inside. But police say that's not so - as criminals can get inside in only 30 seconds. The movie "Gone in 60 Seconds" apparently is now as ancient as the four-minute mile.

Several Columbus apartment complexes have printed warning letters for residents about this. But here's something the residents may not know - you don't have to warm up your car on most cold winter mornings. I heard that tip somewhere years ago, and stopped running my engine for several minutes. I gave up being an "American Idle" long before the TV show.

Let's be honest here - how many drivers really start the car early on winter mornings to warm up the engine? Isn't the real goal usually to warm up the heating system? Most people don't want cold air blowing in, during the ride to work - even though that might wake them up without stopping for a cup of coffee.

But it's sad that car thieves have been taking advantage of the winter chill. Georgia Power reported this week January temperatures were six degrees colder than normal across the state -- the coldest January in 25 years. It's been SO COLD that Al Gore may be hiding from the "global warming" skeptics in sunny Australia.

The cold wave caused Georgia Power customers to use 23 percent more electricity than last January. But my usage actually was down one kilowatt hour from 2009 -- and my current natural gas bill is down $1.80 as well. This is why it pays to wear a T-shirt to bed under your pajamas.

If the forecasts are right, more chilly trouble is coming to Columbus Friday. A potential winter storm could bring rain, sleet or snow. But remember, this could be worse. The storm is NOT bringing gloom of night.

But if you're tired of winter, take heart. Today marks one of the first sure signs of spring. No, not the first trees budding around town - but the twin 150 stock car races at Daytona Beach.

-> Our effort to "spread the word" at the poker table has some opposition. See what we mean at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: We waited for a corporate response to this, but received none. So now a former TSYS employee in India writes us for a third time....

I don't say TSYS a racist company, but . .

But there are some disturbing issues yet unresolved, despite my complaints....

We didn't realize until this message that Veeresh Malik had his own blog. He's posted quite a bit about TSYS and its Infonox branch there. But I fear his memory may be fuzzy or fading - since the last two posts have claimed the company is based in Columbus, Ohio.

The link above focuses on a warning Veeresh Malik sent to TSYS management about a possible e-mail scam. A corporate attorney reported told Malik all such scams are based in Asia. I'm sure the population of Nigeria is pleased to have its reputation cleared, after all these years....

Veeresh Malik's latest post on Wednesday claims he's received some kind of "special compilation" about TSYS executives, which even gets into their personal lives. I have no idea what this is about -- but I hope they're not using the historic Mott House for high-stakes poker games.

We called the TSYS Media Relations office for a comment on Veeresh Malik's claims, but had no reply by Wednesday night. Perhaps the company hopes to drive Malik away by ignoring him - but another of his posts claims TSYS might cause physical "grave harm" to his family. Aw, c'mon! Not even the Cottonmouths would do something like that.

Let's see what else blew around in the breeze on Wednesday....

+ Muscogee County school officials confirmed 17 schools were cited for potential problems, in a state audit of CRCT results. Davis and Muscogee Elementary had the worst rating of "severe concern" - which could mean teachers left flash cards scattered on the floor during math tests.

+ WTVM reported the Russell County Commission approved a three-percent pay raise for several heads of departments. But the vote was NOT unanimous - since the commissioners have not been given a ten-percent pay raise to stay ahead.

+ Lilburn, Georgia police reported a man walked into a Wal-Mart store, grabbed a baseball bat and smashed 29 flat-screen televisions. I'm sorry - but I do NOT think this is the proper way to protest Ellen DeGeneres becoming a judge on American Idol.

(OK, there could be another explanation for this. Baseball spring training can't come soon enough for some people.)

+ Roundball Night in Dixieland (tm) brought joy in Auburn, as the men mauled Georgia 82-63. Former Tiger coach Sonny Smith said during the Auburn radio broadcast Georgia has a couple of "lazy defenders." The Bulldogs also may have lazy assistant coaches, because none of them have demanded a retraction.

(On the other hand, Georgia's radio analyst said Auburn takes "bad shots, but takes a lot of them." So? That's also the key to successful tabloid photography.)

+ Instant Message to former Columbus South Inc. director Reggie Richards: Did I see it right on WLTZ - you're single, and speed-dating? I can't believe all the Fort Benning soldiers along Victory Drive have passed you by. Or was Wendy's the nicest restaurant they could afford for dinner?

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