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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Where was Moses When the Lights Went Out?

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for New England LED Lantern

Where was Moses when the lights went out?  If you said Wal-Mart you are right.  Well, Moses, Bobbie, Sharon, Jerry, Steve, me and about 200 other people.  We were all in Wal-Mart the other day when the store lost power.

Now losing electricity is a common occurrence when you live behind the Pine Cone Curtain.  Tall pine trees, shallow root system, soaked earth, and a gentle breeze will almost guarantee falling pines and downed power lines. And when you are at home it can be an inconvenience for an hour or two or eight but when you are in Wal-Mart, well that is a black-out of another color.

I was on my second visit of the day to Wal-Mart.  Hey, some social media folks hound Facebook hourly; I choose to wander the aisles of Wal-Mart two or three times a day.  My face appears on their video tapes so much that the employees call me by name.  As I went up and down the aisles noting which brands had moved up to eye level on the shelves and which ones had dropped to the bottom shelf, I heard the thunder.  A few minutes later the lights flickered, then went out. As I looked all the way down action alley I could see the rain pounding the pavement.  Might as well see if Pedigree had been bumped to the bottom shelf by Beniful.

“Jody, lease make your way to the front of the store” came from a silver haired lady wearing a blue vest. 

“I can do that, Madge.”

I moved toward the front of the store thankful for the skylights and noted the bakery and frozen food area had full lights.   A generator no doubt.  Donuts and TV dinners rule!

As I arrived at the front of the store, I glanced behind me.  It looked like the Spanish Armada of shopping carts was descending on the unmanned check out stations. Ten minutes passed, fifteen, twenty.  Pools of melting ice cream spread between ships of the Spanish Armada.  Previously frozen pizzas took on the shape of bottles and boxes beneath them in the carts.   Blue vests, maroon vests huddled with long sleeved-white-shirts-and-tie types. At one point a blue vest went from aisle shouting that it would be at least an hour possible more  before power could be restored and the cash registers would be up and running.  At that point it was as if someone had shouted:

                                                     ABANDON CARTS!

Wal-Mart emptied faster than a Baptist church on game day with a 12:10 kick-off.  The abandoned Spanish Armada was left becalmed on a sticky sea.  I hesitated wondering what to do about the half consumed Coke in my basket and the opened package of M&M’s beside it.  Hey, I got thirsty and hungry waiting for the lights to come on.  Being basically honest, I asked a Blue Vest what to do.  “Just forget about it.”  So I did.

Not knowing what the Wal-Mart policy was on semi-melted food, I was a little wary of any Wal-Mart “Specials” the next day.   However, I did notice Moses stocking up on ice cream and misshaped pizzas.

Tip:  Eat a full meal before you go grocery shopping.  You will save money and avoid spilled cookies, chips, crackers, and pretzels on the way to the check-out counter.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Zip Zap A-Dee-Do-Da

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for Marketing 101.

We are nearing that most wonderful time of the year…the starting of school.  To mask my total elation and lessen the clouds of gathering gloom of my soon-to-enter fourth-and-eighth grade children, I suggested a trip to Zip Nac, our very own homegrown zip line adventure course.

Keeping true to my adept bargaining skills, I chose to go on the day after the Kids Discount so I could pay the full price of admission. 

“Come on.  It will be fun.  The big finale to our summer.” 

We arrived without reservations…I mean we had not made any reservations.  As luck would have it, there just happened to be two empty spaces in the next group going out. 

“Hey, that’s my old violin teacher.  What’s she doing here?” came from the thirteen-year old.

“Former, former violin teacher.  We don’t say old and I guess she wants to zip through the trees, too.”

I signed all the necessary release forms and the children were harnessed up.  I was satisfied with Zip-Nac’s extensive safety equipment, especially the strength of their double cables capable of hoisting two cars along the zip line although I do not know why you would ever want to send two cars zipping along a cable, double or otherwise.

While the children and music teacher were zipping along the tree tops, I consulted my Summer Count Down Till School Starts clock.  Eight days, four hours, and thirty-two minutes till First Day Drop Off.  Yes.

The children finished the last Zip, all smiles with only a couple of bug smatterings showing on their teeth.

“Can we get a Zip Nac t-shirt so everyone at school will know we survived?”

“If you show up breathing, won’t that be proof enough?”


“How about if I make you a copy of my credit card statement with Zip Nac in red?”

“T-shirt!  T-shirt!  T-shirt!”

Ok, I admit I was proud that they ascended the three story tower, swung from a tiny clip on super strong cables, and flew through the trees without crying for mercy.  T-shirts for both.

Now here is where I think they put the marketing ZAP in the ZIP.  First the kids were presented with rubber ZIP Nac bracelets.

“Only people who have completed the zip line course will have one of these.  You can’t buy them in any store so if you see someone wearing one of these, you know they have done the course.”….[all 15,282 of them].

“And if you Zipped with us today, your t-shirt is 1/3 off plus you can design your own,” came from salesperson #2.

A-ha!  My chance to revitalize my temporarily atrophied bargain seeking muscle.

“We’ll take two.”

“Follow me to our t-shirt room.”  Translation, t-shirt storage closet.

Blank t-shirts of every size and color were stacked along two walls.  On the third wall were several t-shirt transfer choices in black or white above a table with a t-shirt transfer machine.

For 1/3 off, the children were empowered to design their one of a kind, but odds are probably like someone else’s, t-shirt.  The power was intoxicating.  The nine-year-old slapped a transfer on the front of his t-shirt and placed it on the machine.  When the bell dinged, he raised the lid and ripped off the paper.  Instant transformation.  The blue shirt now had the Zip Nac logo.  He was so excited he put another transfer on the back.  Again, instant art.  Then he added CONQURED to the bottom of the front, and two more designs on the sleeves.  He looked like a Zip Line NASCAR driver.  Every part of his shirt had some kind of design or logo.  He was a walking billboard advertisement for Zip Nac. This was repeated by the thirteen-year-old.

 You can’t buy that kind of publicity.  Well, actually I did, but for 1/3 off!

TIP:  Stash some suckers or snack size candy (non melting kind) in your car to avoid over priced snacks at entertainment events.



Friday, August 8, 2014

Pass the bronchitis, please!

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for cough medicine and Depends.

I always thought walking pneumonia, or in my case walking bronchitis, meant you were sick but still walking around.  According to my doctor it means the disease is making the rounds, walking from one person in the family to the next.

I don’t know why I am surprised.  In our family, we are at both ends of the “most likely to get” spectrum, that being the young and the elderly.  It started with the nine-year-old.  Since he is prone to pneumonia, we wasted no time in getting him to the doctor for antibiotics and cough medicine only this time it was bronchitis.  Next it walked its way to Dr. Hubby who kept walking or riding on the tractor trying to outrun it which he did for a while.  Bronchitis then jumped on the teenager who was sure she would rather die than try to swallow a pill.  I was the last in line, weakened I am sure by the administering of fluids, ice cream, and cough medicine on a 24/7 basis. 

I tried to fight it on my own but at a certain age, your body is more willing to wave the white flag than you are.  Back to the doctor for a shot, antibiotics, and more cough medicine, this time prescribed by the quart for the entire family.  Pills were also prescribed for the still hacking teenager whose performance of “I’m dying from trying to swallow a pill” has been nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Most Over-acted Dramatic Near-Death Performance by a teenager with limited audience.  I am sure she will win.

To date, the nine-year-old has stopped coughing and has resumed running around shirtless chasing frogs, turtles, and squirrels in the woods.  Dr. Hubby has successfully outrun the bronchitis but not a ground wasp that nailed him on his back.  Our Academy Award Nominee has one more performance…er…pill to go.  I am working on Day 13 of the Walking Bronchitis. 

I think it has finished its walk and has stopped for a vacation in my chest.  The good news is that due to constant coughing, my waist is two inches smaller.  The bad news is the coughing has caused my bladder muscles to react in a most embarrassing way.  While the others cough and race for the box of Kleenex, I race for the bathroom. 

Sometimes I make it.

TIP:  Put several paper towels in a gallon zip-lock bag, the kind with the slider.  Makes a great portable barf bag.  

Monday, July 28, 2014

Prop Dusting!

Or Cleared for Landing

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for “Raiders of the Last Crap-o-la”


It must be in the air or I'm just getting older or because spring was late this year, but I have been de-crapping room by room for the past month.  I started with our walk-in closet which I can now actually walk in.  Some very skinny people now have some barely worn out of style clothes to wear.  Then it spread to each kid's room.  For some reason it is easier to get rid of their “collections” than mine. 


I organized and labeled all my craft and sewing items in the upstairs craft room.  I really thought I had painted the floor three years ago, but once it was cleared, I realized I had not.


I organized the linen closet.  I see no reason to keep waterbed sheets these days, do you?   I donated them.


The hall walk-in storage closet was next.  Once I removed the computer towers, the monitors with the green screen, the box of mystery cords, connectors and floppy discs, three boxes of assorted picture frames, and the curtain rods not used since mini-blinds were invented, there was room for the vacuum (which had been living in the hall for the past year) and the carpet shampooer which I didn't know I had.  We will also be cooler this summer (found three fans) and warmer this winter (found two portable electric heaters.)


The guest room was an easy fix once I rehung all the pictures I had taken down two summers ago when I painted the room and made up the bed.  I also tackled the guest closet.  I gave up on Nehru jackets and Madras pants every coming back in style and donated those items to a traveling circus that came through town.


While I was at it, I emptied the freezer.  I violated the unwritten law of frozen food:  "If the label has initials, a date that does not end in B.C., a solid covering of ice at least three inches thick, and no power outages of more than two weeks, it is good."  I tossed 80% of the contents.  The raccoons, possums, and other night creatures ate well that evening even if their lips and tongue turned blue and they were shivering from internal frost bite.  


 And you know what?  I won't need to buy hot dogs for the 4th of July picnic next year.


Yesterday I emptied four desks.  I mean really, how many shoe boxes of map colors do I need?  I also discovered that I will not need to buy school supplies for the next two years and art gum erasers NEVER dry up no matter how many years they have been in the back of the desk drawer; however, sticky notes will dry up in less than a week.  I sharpened all the pencils I found and returned 27 pencils to each desk. I had enough pencils left to supply the entire third grade at my child's school.  I found ball point pens that were still writing even though the companies they were advertising had gone out of business years before and a drawer full of Magic Markers that had all lost their magic.


I have saved our bedroom for last, the Mount Everest of scrap paper with semi-formed ideas, the Adriana Trench of necessary but unknown computer stuff, the Atlantis of the lost and forgotten, the Antarctica of solid minutia, the Sahara of forgotten wrappers and cans … Ok that last is mostly the kids hiding their contraband under the bed when I suddenly enter the room.  Four filing drawers later and two Wal-Mart sacks of unknown wires, chargers, and forgotten passwords plus three trashcans of, well trash, I found my I-Pad, my digital camera, and a Valentine I forgot to mail…with a 28 cent stamp.  I was making progress.


I would like to think all this purging was leading to a more simplified, organized, and calming home, but I think I was just making more room for me to move through the house with the extra pounds I have gained.  Either way, there’s more room for all of me to get down the hallway and now the freezer has room for Blue Bell Ice Cream. 

Tip:  When tidying up, carry a laundry basket with you to collect "orphans" (items that don't belong in that particular room).  As you progress from room to room the orphans will find their home and you won't be running your legs off.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Putting Mama in Her Place

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for GPS Seat Locator

It is the final performance of “The Wizard of Oz”, the summer musical my children are performing in.  I have waited forty-three years for two out of the eight children to show an interest in something I know something about, theatre.  After all, I have a B.A., M.A., and thirty-nine years of experience designing, directing, choreographing, and lighting hundreds of productions.  And I just happened to have directed “The Wizard of Oz” at least twice.

But it has been a long wait.  The first child was interested in cooking, not my best subject.  The second child was interested in hunting.  I am a Bambi lover.  The third child was happy fishing all day with worms.  Not for me.  Child number four was too hyper to stay interested in anything for very long.  Child five was into horses and horse shows.  That got pretty close to my skills in that I could sew some pretty fancy show clothes but horse shoes, horse feed, halters, and bits was not my area of expertise.  The sixth child liked plants, the kind you have to dig in the dirt and plant, and water. I can grow ivy.

At age 9 and 13 children number seven and eight discovered theatre.  I was in heaven.  They were in hell.  First there was the audition… in front of me.  Which song?  Could they carry a tune?  Where can I find a voice coach?

“Mama.  We are going to sing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” said the 13 year old who wouldn’t run the fifty yard dash last year in track because people would be looking at her.

“Everybody is going to sing that.  You need to stand out, be noticed. The leads have already been cast I’m sure, so you will probably be in the chorus.  Now you will need to wear something green…and maybe shorts for the Munchkin chorus.  I could whip up something…”

“Mama.  Snowman.  T-shirts.  Jeans.” came from the 9 year old.

I was relegated to listening to them rehearse “Snowman” for two weeks…straight.  When I offered a suggestion, they just looked at each other.  I practiced my poker face on the missed notes and held my breath while they reached for the next one.

We reported to the Lamp-Lite Community Theatre for the actual audition; we were three among seventy-five.  They were auditioning for ALL parts.  I rationalized that neither child was quite ready for a lead …just yet.

To my credit, I asked them if they wanted me to stay for the audition or step out in the lobby.  One said “I don’t care;” the other said “Lobby!”  No question as to who said what.

The 13 year old did a credible job with the song that thirty-four other children had just sung, and the music director acted interested.  I know all this because I was peeking through the lobby curtains.  What?  You thought I wouldn’t look?  The 9 year old took center stage (that’s my boy!) and preceded to do a taekwondo/ballet combo middle split.  I am not sure what motivated this move but hey, you’ve got one shot.  Go for it.  Then he sang his version of “Snowman.” 

Immediately after their audition, not being sure about the effect of the taekwondo/ballet split,  I was volunteering for crews: costume, set, painting, sound, lights, program, and tickets, whatever.  All crews were filled.  I checked to see if the 13 year old had stuck a sign on my back:  “70 year old Stage Mama! Beware!”

Both children were cast.  I received a rehearsal schedule and the times to DROP the children off and PICK them up.  I checked; again there was no sign on my back.  All parents were discouraged from attending rehearsals.

At home I tried to convince the 9 year old that the lyrics were “Wake up you sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed” but he insisted they were “Wake up you sleepy head before I kick you out of bed.”  I tried to explain that a bust was a sculpture of a person’s head and important people would have their bust displayed in a Hall of Fame hence the reason for the lyrics “You’ll be a bust, be a bust in the Hall of Fame.”  He sang “You’ll be a butt, be a butt, on the Wall of Shame.”  Hopefully he will be drowned out by the other singers.

On opening night, the children were to arrive at the theatre in costume and make-up.  No problem with make-up for the 9 year old but the 13 year old had other ideas.

 “If you don’t mind, I want the professionals at the theatre to do my make-up and hair.”  

(PROFESSIONALS??  The hair stylist is a dental hygienist by day.  The make-up artist is a secretary! I made A+ in Advanced Make-up and my death mask is still on display at the university!  PROFESSIONALS???  I’M the professional here.)

I held my tongue (with both hands) and said “Ok, but let me know if you need to me do something.”

“Actually we do need you to do something for us,"  they said.

Ah, at last.  Here it is.  Ok.  What do they want me to do?  Take notes?  Look at the staging?  Fix their costume?  Offer suggestions for quick scene changes?  Critique their movements?  Evaluate their acting?
“We want you to sit in the middle of the second row and clap real loud.”

That’s it?  Four years of student loans, studying, cramming, thirty-nine years of teaching school, forty-three years of waiting for mini-actors, and Mama’s place is in the middle of the second row clapping?
I clapped louder and longer than any parent there!            

    Being a Mama is the hardest job!
TIP:  If you have to make your little one up as a clown, use Desitin Baby Ointment for white make-up.  It won’t irritate the skin.  Apply baby powder with a cotton ball to the Desitin to set the make-up. Use a Q-tip to remove any white where you want to add cheeks or a moustache.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tips from Beneath the Iceberg

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for wax on, wax hair off

I was recently asked via e-mail to do a blog on ways to save time, energy, and money, and oh, could I also mention The Shave Club in my post?

Well, being the seasoned blogger that I am with a readership of over 6 people per week, I know to ask certain questions.
First of all, was this a legitimate club?  The next day I saw a commercial on TV for The Shave Club.  Everybody knows if you see it on TV, as opposed to just on the internet, it is for real.

Having ascertained by way of my DISH satellite that this was an actual paid commercial for The Shave Club, I then asked the more obvious questions.  See I really listened to Michele Wojciechowski at the Erma Bombeck Writers Conference Session I .  Was I going to receive free razors? Free razor blades?  A link to my blog? Publicity? A week’s supply of Preparation H?  Updated Minecraft for my I-pod? Any of the above?  The answer was "NO".

So I am not going to be mention The Shave Club in my blog but I am going to give you some tips on how I have saved time and money raising eight kids over the past 50 years, but it is not free.  If you read this, I ask that you leave a comment.  I am hoping to increase my readership by ten; then maybe I'll get a free razor or at least a free razor blade if anybody else asks me to plug their product.

Tip #1.  If you have children in the fourth grade, or who are still in the fourth grade after seven years in the public school system, this tip is for you.  Instead of refusing to go into the woods at midnight to get twigs for that log cabin project that is due tomorrow (the one they forgot to tell you about) just go to the store and buy some pretzel sticks.  They make great logs.  If you don't want to scrape the salt off, have the kid tell the teacher it is winter time...but not that the cabin was built next to a large bird sanctuary.  This might be just the log cabin that gets your kid out of the fourth grade.

Tip #2.  If you can't afford a bank loan so your kids can go to a movie this summer, entertain them at home.  During the night glue a few dollar bills to a tree.  In the morning tell the kids that contrary to what their dad says, money does grow on trees so go outside and pick some money off the money tree.  Then give them a spoon and a handful of pennies and tell them to go plant their own money trees.

I have 157 more time and money saving ideas but I'm going to wait and see much my readership increases after these two.  Like Tracy Beckerman said at the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop Session II, "Don't give the good stuff away."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cruise Ship Sales Techniques You Should Never use on the Elderly

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for Ship to Shore Sales Meetings

Have you ever wondered what it takes to work on a cruise ship?  Well if you have ever cruised, you might think the first requirement is to be able to spell your name without any vowels and speak with an accent, any accent.  Or the number of times you can work the guests first name into the conversation during the first five minutes of serving dinner. 

“Oh, he-whoa.  I am RTPGHK Blth Dpwrt, you server.  And you are…?”


“Jody.  Nice to meet you Jody.  Jody, this not you first time to cruise with us, no?  Now, Jody, would you like to see menu? Or for you, Jody, we have special menu.   I call it the special Jody menu. See, have Jody beet soup, Jody salad with Jody Vinaigrette, Jody salmon, Jody cream pie for dessert, and Jody tea.   So Jody, what can I get you tonight?”

While those requirements might be obvious, the most important requirement for those working above the water line is their ability to sell.  What you may not realize is that the cruise lines make most of their money from on board sales. Here you are a captive consumer with only the ship’s stores available for days at sea.

When you need batteries for your camera, who cares if it costs $15.99 for two AA batteries?  It’s not like the captain is going to make a u-turn so you can make a Wal-Mart run.   In the hot summertime the obvious big sales is their cool drinks.  Batteries and alcohol are easy sales so where does the need for super salesmen come in?  Services provided.

“Feeling a little out of sorts on this long voyage?  Don’t rely on prune juice alone; come to the free Detox seminar.”   Of course once the free part is over, the pressure is on to purchase detoxification pill, gels, creams, and juice. 

However, when it comes to pushing their beauty products, their salesmen could use some pointers, especially when it comes to senior citizens.  For example:

1.       Never assume your client waiting for the bunion scraping, heel sand blasting, and toenail grinding is the old lady with the hairy legs in the capri pants.  Instead explain that before you can do any procedures you must see her ID to confirm she is over 21.  When she stops grinning, she might be more receptive to your $200 arch support spiel.

       2.      Never suggest to the senior citizen with the frizzy wiry gray hair that she needs $300  
worth of hair moisturizing treatments.  Save that for the 29 year old who is afraid  of turning 30.  Instead, tell those senior frizzies about the bottle of hair serum found next to the 3,000 year old mummies who still had their wavy locks intact.


3.       Never suggest a $250 tube of face lifting cream to a senior carrying a tube of Preparation H in her purse.  She doesn’t know what your face tightening cream can do, but she has proof of what the Preparation H can do.  Save that for the 39 year old about to turn 40.  Instead point to that young thing getting a facial across the room and mention that you gave her great-granddaughter a manicure the other day.  Your sales might just double.


4.      Never suggest $159 teeth whitening procedures to a senior.  She could tell you she just tosses hers in a glass of Oxiclean for $3.99.  Suggest instead that the procedure might benefit her "boyfriend" and that there is a special couple’s discount.  You might just make your cruise quota.


5.       And finally, don’t waste your time suggesting Botox injections to the elderly.  By the time she finishes filling out all the medications, vitamins, supplements, and recent surgeries she’s had, you will be in port.  Just ask if the senior’s daughter-in-law that is standing next to her is her sister.  You still won’t make a sale with the senior citizen, but the daughter-in-law will sign up for the entire program…and you will get a big tip from the mother-in-law.
Following these tips might avoid a silver-haired senior mutiny, and the cruise lines can continue making a profit.