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You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” probably applies to me on some occasions, but I would like to report that I have now become pretty good at a new trick that I just began working on some time around the beginning of 2020. The new trick is that […]

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” probably applies to me on some occasions, but I would like to report that I have now become pretty good at a new trick that I just began working on some time around the beginning of 2020. The new trick is that I no longer, or at least seldom, rush to grab the phone when it rings. It really began about a year ago when I became the owner of a smart phone that I now carry with me almost everywhere I go. Some wiser friends had long wondered when I would join the 21st century instead of relying on my landline and a very inexpensive flip phone whose number I never gave out – using the phone as a sort of emergency item when I traveled out of town.

Then around the beginning of the year I got really tired of all of the robo calls, most of which seemed to come about an hour or two before and during the noon meal or evening meal. I tried to come up with some witty repartee, like telling the caller they had reached the Police Department or sometimes giving the caller a sales pitch for an underwater flying machine. That just wasn’t me, but I did have a comeback by answering with a rough voice: “Wadda ya want?” Often I knew it was a robo call because they would ask if they were speaking with James. That was indicative that they didn’t know me because I hardly ever have used my real first name of James even though I am listed in the telephone directory as James. I have always identified with a diminutive of my middle name of Theodore, that is, “Ted.”

Note here that I generally never answered the caller’s opening line with a “yes.” Supposedly that is a dangerous thing to do as the “yes” could be recorded and attached to a question like, “Would you like to purchase a widgit for $750?” With the recording they could then claim I ordered the infamous widgit.

If I do get to my landline in time to see the caller identification and find it is someone I know, then I do actually answer it if I can get to it before the answering machine kicks in.

Two nice things about the cell phone are: One — there are many fewer robo calls in general and – Two — it is easier to block unwanted calls.


Robo calls are analagous to junk mail. Every four years (or in some cases every two years) at about this same time we get two kinds of junk mail. This year is one of the years when we get a lot of campaign ads — many single sheet items and sometimes letters — In the past I have received letters from Pres. George W. Bush and Pres. Bill Clinton, but this year it is either from someone currently in office or more recently was in office. I have had at least two letters from President Barack Obama.

The other kind of junk mail that is common at this time of year is the sales catalog. So far I have only three sales catalogs for Christmas items and two of them are my fault in that I recently made a purchase from two of the three companies. A related nuisance especially if you buy something from a catalog or online is the flurry of ads that fill up your email box. One of the saving graces of the online ads is that nine out of ten times or better, you can stop those by clicking on the “unsubscribe” choice on the computer.

The catalog from a company which I don’t ever remember ordering anything came from Collections Etc. I had seen covers of catalogs like their cover before, but it still brought at least a little chuckle from me.

The first two comments on the front related how the company was feeling: “We don’t want to say GOODBYE,” and “We haven’t heard from you in a while…We miss you!”

Following those two comments was the threat: “But this could be your LAST CATALOG” and an explanation of why they are threatening followed by how to end the threat: “Postage and printing costs have increased — shop today to continue receiving our great values!” Then there was even more they had to offer: “Buy any 2 or more items and get FREE SHIPPING”

I must admit there was an interesting collection of various styles of face masks from regular loops over the ears cotton masks, to gaiter-style, polyester masks. In this particular catalog I did not see any masks of the kind that supposedly had copper woven into them that I have seen advertised elsewhere.


One last item about advertising even though not in a catalog nor via the telephone system. This item is another political type item that shows up at this time of year.

In this advertisement is the offer that claims a value of $79.95, but if you act now, you can get the item for just $19.95. Not only that, but they will ship it to you free not costing you even a handling fee. And as any good advertising goes, “Wait! That’s not all. With your purchase of the item you will also receive, absolutely FREE, a Presidential Watch which itself has a value of $49.95. Now if my mathematics is correct, you gain $60.00 in value for the underpricing of the original item plus the additional value of $49.95 for the watch – that’s a whopping gain of $109.95.

The original item is a 24K Gold-layered coin depicting none other than Donald Trump on both the obverse and reverse sides! By the way, you need to have your keycode. (It’s: 773.36)

Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!

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