Now For The Marketing

Later today I’ll be doing a walk-through of the old house to see how the reno contractors performed. Then the realtor and I will formulate a marketing strategy to get the house shown in its best light — by “the realtor and I” I mean of course “the realtor”, because this is their métier and I’ve always believed in letting the pros do their job unmolested. She’s going to tell me what she’s going to do, and I’m going to nod sagely and say, “Excellent idea.” I’ve sold maybe two houses in my time, and not locally; she does that every week. Who do you think has the better idea of what sells in our market?

On that topic, by the way, there’s a good rule of thumb that whenever you see a totally shit ad on TV, the chances are excellent that it was either created by, influenced by or produced by the client, and not the ad agency.

I was once responsible for a marketing department which had three ad agencies working on different aspects of the company’s business — one handled all the fresh items (produce, fruit, bakery, floral etc), another did the grocery “dailies” — the everyday ads such as seen in the newspapers and flyers — while the third agency handled hard goods (furniture, clothing, appliances and housewares). Each agency was picked because they specialized in that particular area, all tried ceaselessly to poach parts of each other’s business, and all had their pee-pees whacked (by me) for straying into areas outside their own expertise.

“Leave it to the professionals!” should be every manager’s motto, but sadly, few follow that simple rule. Most think they know better than the pros — like I could perform a laparoscopy on myself better than a doctor simply because it’s my body and I know it better than they do. But businessmen — especially company owners — think they understand the marketing of their business or product better than the pros in marketing- and ad agencies. Without exception, they don’t. Even I, who had once worked at a couple of ad agencies and actually understood the process, generally deferred to the agency because — wait for it — it’s their job to know more about it than the client. The one time I exercised the Client Veto was because they’d misinterpreted the brief, which was — ta-da! — my fault in that I hadn’t communicated the brief properly (a.k.a. GIGO — garbage in, garbage out, as the old pros know).

Likewise, my brief to the contractors (flooring and painting) was simple: “Do what you think is best, make the place look amazing, but stay within the budget — unless I specifically authorize otherwise, because otherwise, you’re going to eat the overage.” I also told them before we started that I am the world’s most understanding client and will leave them alone — right up until somebody fucks up or breaks their word to me, and then I’ll be their worst nightmare. We’ll see how well they did, later in the day.

I love Linda, the realtor, by the way. Consummate professional, very experienced, no-nonsense and smart as hell. Took no shit from me, explained everything fully, brooked no argument; but when I told her why I was selling the place, she teared up. “You must really have loved your wife,” she commented; and when I asked why she said that, she replied, “Because every time you talk about her, what she said and what she did, you have a smile on your face.”

Guilty as charged. Damn, I miss her still more, every day.

Not Worth It

As I wander hither and yon through this here Intarwebz thingy, I occasionally run across this kind of bleat when I open a page:

Okay, here’s a little note to the Observer and all the other websites who try this cutesy little trick on us the readers:

The reason we use AdBlocker is because your websites are full of intrusive, pop-up bullshit with loud autoplay videos and (at times) really questionable advertisements which are sometimes nothing more than phishing scams and clickbait links to truly awful websites.

In the specific case of the Observer above, when I paused Adblocker this morning as they requested, a loud piece of BBC World News-type theme started blaring from my speakers, quite disturbing my enjoyment of Gabriel Fauré’s Pavane playing quietly in the background.

Sorry: intrusive autoplay ads are the very raison d’être of AdBlocker. Get rid of them and we can talk again. Until then, however, your content isn’t worth it — no matter how much you think it is.

I might allow ads onto this site at some point because $money$, but I give you my word, O Gentle Readers: you won’t ever need AdBlocker.

Screw The Moon

One of the characteristics The Mrs. and I shared was that if we liked something a lot, we kept using it: whether it was revisiting a restaurant every other month (or more frequently), or patronizing the same four grocery stores for our supplies, or (in her case) only buying Sony electronics, whatever. If we liked a service, or place, or thing, that kept our loyalty.

That habit extended itself particularly to cars. When we lived in New Jersey, I’d brought to the relationship a VW Jetta, and as The Mrs. worked out of home, we just used the one (she and I were both huge fans of VW cars, from Beetles to Rabbits to Jettas to Passats to Kombi vans). Later on, her job required that she get her own car, so there was really no decision to be made: we went off to the VW dealer and walked around the lot. When we saw one we liked, she pointed at the blue Jetta and said to the bewildered salesman:
“We want that car. How long will it take before we can drive it away?”
“D-don’t you want to test drive it first?”
“Does it drive any differently to the green one we parked out front? No? Then there’s no need to test it, is there?”

Many years passed by, and we’d strayed a little from the VW fold because we had different needs — ergo, a Ford F-150 truck for me, a Chev Suburban for her, etc. — but when the kids grew up and got their own cars, we downsized: back to VW, this time, the weirdly-named Tiguan, which is essentially a slightly-larger Golf with a taller ride height. Then, after a few years of that, of course we got a “new” Tiguan (Carmax-new; we’d never bought new cars except Jetta #2), because the Tiggy fit our needs perfectly, so why change?

Just one little problem: the new Tiguan had a “moonroof”. Now that was fine with The Mrs.: a California girl always, she loved the openness that a moonroof brings to driving — except that, of course, she’d forgotten about Texas summers, where lizards are fried to death on the sidewalks and even a Sahara camel would go, “Enough, already.” And Texas winters, while brief, can be really cold, and rainy — which leaves about three non-consecutive weeks in the year when you can use the damn thing as intended.

Moonroofs also lower the internal dimensions of the car because of the mechanism they require, they’re just one more Thing That Can Go Wrong, and of course they add to the cost. So basically, we ended up with a feature that we used, if memory serves me, about four times in the eighteen months since its purchase.

I’m stuck with the stupid thing now: I owe more than the car’s worth, but even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t get another car because I still like the Tiggy a great deal. And considering that a “career” as an Uber/Lyft driver is probably in my future anyway, the Tiguan is not the worst car to own.

Except for the useless moonroof.

Never Mind The Dead Bishop On The Landing

How about the dead shark in a Walmart parking lot?

A St. Johns County sheriff’s deputy responded to a strange call Friday afternoon when an assistant manager at Walmart on U.S. 1 called authorities saying she had found a 4-5 foot dead shark in the store’s parking lot.

Now this did happen in Floriduh, so we should not be surprised. (Universal explanation for strange shit happening in the Sunshine State: “It’s Florida, dude.”) But here’s what intrigues me:

The deputy called officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission who arrived at the lot and removed the shark for disposal.

How does one dispose of a dead shark on land?  I call for suggestions in Comments, the funnier, the better.



If you haven’t already done so, please visit my GoFundMe appeal and drop a few dollars into the bucket. I have been truly humbled by the incredible generosity of (mostly) my former (and now still) Loyal Readers, friends and some kind strangers, to where I’m over halfway to the figure which will get me back on my feet.

And if you distrust this newfangled electronic Intarwebz thingy and would prefer to send me a paper check (several people already have), my Sooper-Seekrit mailing address is:

Kim du Toit
6009 W. Parker Rd
Plano TX 75093

Thankee, one and all. We now return to our regular programming.

Drugs, Disposal Of

One of the interesting things about cancer sufferers is the quantity and scope of the drugs needed to live their lives painlessly — what’s known in the medical business as “palliative” care (you’re going to die soon, but we’re going to make your life as bearable as possible, with all the drugs you need).

We were already on this train, of course, with Connie’s incurable back troubles. That was morphine, quite a bit, taken three times a day just so she could walk the few steps to the kitchen and back, and ditto to the bathroom and back. Then, with cancer, came a whole battalion of new stuff: hydrocodone for the pain, Ativan / Xanax for the emotional stress, something to make her sleep, something (actually, quite a few things) to make her bowels work (pain meds stop you up like concrete), something to help her bladder, something to alleviate the nausea caused by taking so many drugs in concert, and so on, and so on, and so on.

The end result was that after she died, I was left with a metric tonne of prescription narcotics. Just out of curiosity, I looked up the “street” value of the drugs I had left, and it appeared that I might not be able to pay off the house, but I could certainly pay off the car. (Source: the DEA website: government as a source of useful if questionable data, who knew?)

Anyway, I wasn’t about to sell the narcotics on the street, a.) because it’s the wrong thing to do, b.) because it’s illegal (and if you can’t tell the difference between the two, there’s a job waiting for you at the Clinton Foundation), and c.) because I have absolutely no idea how or even where to start this kind of felony. (My luck, the very first person I approached with: “Hi, wanna buy some morphine or Xanax?” would turn out to be an undercover cop.) And, good grief: none of my friends and relatives were interested, because, well, because they’re all law-abiding, non-drug-abusing people and could get drugs from their doctors if they needed them.

And just being in possession of all these drugs in these quantities was probably some kind of felony. I had to get rid of them; but how and where?

Nobody wanted me to flush them down the toilet or in the sink, because that meant the drugs would eventually get into the water supply. So I tried to do the right thing.

First, I went to the drugstore which had provided so many of the drugs to us: no dice. Obviously, the drugs can’t be re-issued, and they didn’t do disposal of unused / unwanted drugs, either. The pharmacist told me to try the Fire Department; apparently, they could take and destroy the stuff.

Except that wasn’t the case. The Plano FD, apparently, had stopped that program years ago. How about the Plano PD, they suggested. So off I went to our local police, with whom I have had a pleasant and amiable relationship for over a dozen years (except for the Girl Scout Incident which was all a big mistake anyway).

Here’s where it gets funny. “We don’t accept drugs, except in April and October, where we have a partnership with the DEA.” As Connie had had the temerity to die in February, and not in sync with Law Enforcement’s schedule, I would have to wait until April. Which I wasn’t about to do.

The DEA informed me that it wasn’t their jurisdiction; it was a local matter. (One wonders how disinterested they’d have been if I’d tried to sell the narcotics to one of their undercover agents in the street, but let me not denigrate the efforts of our federal law enforcement agencies.)

In desperation, I called the hospice nurse who had taken such good care of Connie over the last few months of her life, and finally(!) got a halfway-decent response. Here’s what she told me to do.

Crush everything up into powder. Soak a large number of paper towels with a solution of dish soap and water. Spread the powder evenly over the paper towels, and wait for them to dry. Throw the dried paper towels away in the trash, or burn them outside and throw the ashes in the trash. All this sounded eminently reasonable and responsible.

So I flushed them all down the toilet.