January 13, 2010 As we begin the new year I find myself wondering about some things. Strange things. Odd things. Things I wouldn't normally wonder about like what's up with those Progressive commercials? That chick with the headband and the white coat? The all bright-enough-to-perform-surgery background of the insurance shop?
This is a commercial series that has run for a couple of years—a year at least. I remember thinking it was pretty weird then—the goofy customer scenarios and the contrived exuberance of the insurance clerk seem bizarre to me. It's like nothing one would experience in real life purchasing insurance over the Internet. Maybe that's it! The hyper-personal television ad personas veil the reality of the 'Call or click today' tagline. Now that's progressive...
...Speaking of the Internet, I'm fishing around the Web wondering about how I can get a good night's sleep. Tired isn't a problem, I'm plenty tired when I hit the sack. It's the sleep part that gives me trouble sometimes.
So I come across this gem: "You may want to trade that glass of wine for a nice warm cup of chamomile tea to ensure a restful night's sleep." Yeah. Right. Next.
So, sleep deprived and somewhat critical of odd things that I'm wondering about in the New Year I move on to our nation's great love affair with guns. Today I read about a man who walked into his workplace of 23 years with an assault rifle and a hand gun and started shooting up the place. Three people won't see the rest of 2010. Five others might, but they'll never see anything in the same way again.
This is irritating because it should not be dangerous to go into work. It is irritating because if the man did not have an assault rifle and a hand gun people probably wouldn't be dead. I'm irritated because I'm tired of reading about people shooting up shopping malls, fast food joints, schools—schools—army bases. I'm irritated because one day we'll all have to pass through metal detectors or body scanners or whatnot because we refuse to deal with the vast amount of weaponry that's easily and readily available for purposes that remain unquestioned. It's irritating that people will say 'if you take all the guns from the good guys only the bad guys will have them.' Who are the bad guys? Ask the latest shooter's neighbors—they say he was sweet and kind. They're shocked by his behavior. So was Army base shooter's family; Columbine killers' families and friends; D.C. sniper, etc., etc. etc. These people are committing terrorist acts. By ignoring the problems with assault-type weapons we are supporting terrorism against our own people. I now prepare to don my own bullet proof vest...
...Though it goes in cycles, lately I've been receiving a number of unsigned letters to the editor. This is frustrating because it ties my hands in many ways. The person is writing because they want to find out about something or they are alleging something happened that's not right, etc. The reason my hands are tied when this happens is I have no one to call and question about the allegations—to find a specific starting point; to get details about the situation and find out why the writer thinks I can help—what they expect and why it is a story of broad interest. This is all simple stuff. And many times people write about things they want others to know and they ask that I withhold their name and I do. We have a discussion and I determine the legitimacy of the issue and request and assure them that their name will be withheld. I wish all letter writers would trust me on this one.
In any event, the last one I received alleged that Attica Township officials take their spouses to the annual township convention on the taxpayer dime. It is true that each budget year a line item for training for every department is allotted for. It is not true that the township officials are taking "their wives" to this year's convention. Because things are tight all the way around, Attica Township officials opted not to attend this year's convention. No one is going. No taxpayer money is being spent on this year's convention. Ah, the things that can be discovered with a simple phone call...
Now that's progressive.
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Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.