Friday, October 25, 2013

ROBOCALLS have mercy please

These days I am at home most of the time – being that I am a retiree-freelance-writer-sometime-job-seeker-revising-author-household-manager-recovering-reporter-corporate-communications-spinner. (Note: My identity crisis may be a future post topic.)

As a result, I have developed a hate-hate relationship with ROBOCALLS.  You know, those recorded calls that call and call again. All day long, they call. No relief on weekends either.

It doesn’t matter if you are on the “do not call” registry. We are.  Robocalls don’t apply, in general, and they can find you and call you as often as they like.

I just counted, and of the 30 calls showing on the caller ID system today, half of them are robocalls. Have Mercy.

The dictionary defines robocall as:
plural noun: robocalls
1.    an automated telephone call that delivers a recorded message, typically on behalf of a political party or telemarketing company.

Another on-line dictionary defines a robocall as a telephone call that uses a computerized autodialer to deliver a pre-recorded message without human intervention.

Originating in the early 1990s in politics (IT FIGURES), the robocall today is also used by commercial businesses and telemarkers, and I believe, a bunch of scammers. And, really bottom line, robocalls are annoying as heck, and I’ve found no sure way to avoid them.

I share some of my avoidance tactics below, but so far, it’s ROBOCALLS: 100, JACKIE: 0.

Some tactics I’ve tried:
1. Letting your phone ring until they give up and/or you get a robocall voice mail.
2. Pushing the answer button and then the end button in a super-duper fast hang up. That’ll show ‘em.
3.   My oft-used useless response of answering and yelling into the phone “STOP CALLING ME!”  Then I hang up. That’ll really show ‘em.
4. Adding the oft-calling numbers to your blocked calls list if your phone service provides this service. However, calls from the same robocall fiend come from varying numbers, so that’s not a solution either; and blocked calls are limited to 20, at least with AT&T.

Something I haven’t tried – recommended by a consumer protection attorney on-line – is documenting all your robocalls, including photographing the numbers calling and ID of organization, and then suing. Take ‘em to court. Supposedly people have received up to $1,500 per call after litigation. Yeah buddy. It’s temping, and if ever I would litigate, these annoying calls might be sufficient reason.

According to Wikipedia, the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) regulates automated calls. All robocalls, irrespective of whether they are political in nature, must do two things to be considered legal. Federal law requires all telephone calls using pre-recorded messages to identify who is initiating the calls and include a telephone number or address whereby the initiator can be reached.
I don’t think all my robocallers do that although many have a name and a number if you have caller ID. 

Others are unavailable, private or unknown caller.  I rarely listen to the whole spiel but when I have, some will ask you to select 1 to talk to a person. I’ve gone that route a couple of times, and shouted at the person my comeback of “STOP CALLING ME!”  and THEY hung up on me (turnabout fair play, I suppose).

And, each day, there are more, not fewer, robocalls.
NO wonder. When I Googled robocalls, half the items are advertisements for robocall dialing equipment and services.
“Lowest rate robocalls!”
“Easy robocalling system!”
“Send Millions of Automated calls; pay 7/10ths of a Penny Per Minute!”

Jeez.  They are advertising something that we’re not really sure is really totally legal, AND we know is absolutely annoying. And, you have to wonder, is this a legit business marketing plan? Robocalls?  How effective? I’d never do business with anyone or organization or business that uses this outreach tactic. Would you?

Just of kicks, here are examples of the robocalls we get, daily, repeatedly.




“ATTENTION SENIOR CITIZEN.” (That’s enough to make me hang up).

I’m not a senior citizen (well, maybe AARP says I am, and I’ll take that senior discount).  I DON’T care what the FBI says, and I wouldn’t take your supposedly free cruise if you paid me.

I just want to go back to the time when hearing your home phone ring meant that someone you know is calling you, with good news or just to say Hi. It’s a PERSON who you probably DO want to talk to on the other end of the line. It could be someone exciting calling or even that crazy friend of yours.  Anyone, please, except a robot.

Quote of the day/song of the day:

"People are crazy and times are strange. "

Things Have Changed, Bob Dylan.

Picture of the day:

In honor of my Auburn Tigers beating Texas A&M in fine fashion last week, here's a War Eagle sunset, with a Rising Moon (My Indian name) at Pine Barren Creek.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WJSW? Fishing slow but signs bring reward

The sign is the left when you enter the hodgepodge that is the Selma Curb Market. Right across from the check out counter, next to the cooler of iced-down strawberry and grape drinks and above the selection of red worms, wigglers and super jumpers, is the sign that asks the moral question: “Would Jesus Steal Worms.”  There’s no question mark, probably because there’s no room for it, but the question is certainly implied.
The sign always makes me smile, and last weekend, when I stopped on at the curb market to buy minnows on my way to our fishing camp-camphouse in Dallas County, I had my iPhone, and snapped a picture of the sign. 
I posted the picture on Facebook, sending it out before Lucille, our labra-something dog and travel companion, and I pulled away from the curb market and drove the rest of winding way down Highway 41 to the camphouse.
I had plenty of likes, and one comment (“Yea, I think he would just make some instead”) by the time I got way off the paved road and arrived to meet the boys at our shack on Pine Barron Creek, our hideaway that we call the Wild Kingdom.
The fishing  -- with the minnows purchased at the curb market (I didn’t buy or steal any worms)  -- was slow, slow, much slower than the cyber likes for the Would Jesus Steal Worms picture.
I only caught  a couple of keeper Crappie during hours of pier sitting, hook placing and watching Pine Barren Creek flow to the Alabama River. 
But, I saw the sky morph from sunny bright to cloudy bright to orange-tinged dusk and twilight, and I studied cranes and water turkeys as they soared and dived in their own fishing expeditions.  
Just being there – in this remote natural world of moss-covered trees, gator filled waters and morning, noon and night songs from creatures seen and imagined -- is more than half the fun of fishing off our pier.
It’s a place where signs in country stores offer an implied, kind warning like Would Jesus Steal Worms, (surely, only the biggest of back-sliders could pilfer a plastic tub of super jumpers while reading that phrase), and where you have to know to ask for small minnows for crappie, not the big ones intended for catfish fishing.
It’s a place where you can enjoy yourself, find some peace and see the Lord’s grandeur in every sound and sight, even if the fishing aren’t biting.

Song of the day:

Fishin' Blues, by Taj Mahal

Betcha' goin' fishin' all o' da' time
Baby, goin' fishin' too
Bet yo' life, yo' sweet wife
Catch mo' fish than you

Many fish bites if ya' got good bait
Here's a little tip that I would like to relate
Many fish bites if ya' got good bait
I'ma goin' fishin', yes I'm goin' fishin
And my baby, goin' fishin' too