Do you find this photo as disturbing as I do?


(In case I can’t get the photo to work:

I saw this display in front of a Cricket phone store in North Charleston, SC.

Of course, this shop doubles as a clothing store, which is probably a story in itself.

Come see their Anne Boleyn collection.

# # #

Chick-Fil-A boycott fail: Biggest. Day. Ever.


Yeah, that boycott of Chick-Fil-A sure seems to be working, yes? This photo was shot Wednesday afternoon at the restaurant in North Charleston. Cars wrapped twice around the building, with employees directing traffic flow and helping people back out of parking spots. Inside, the lobby was jammed. Lunch hour was a nightmare. The employees kept it together through it all; they maintained sunny attitudes and high-level service. The customers knew it would take a while to get lunch and expected the food to be assembled in a hurry, but so what? No one made a scene; everybody was cool. Yeah buddy. These folks who don’t like the company or what it stands for, they ought to boycott the place more often. Everybody just stayed away in droves, or something. ###

Ground Chuck: New blog, new articles, but graphics don’t fit

As promised, Ground Chuck is now live.

This blog, which aims to cover matters of the Lowcountry, starts off with a pair of articles:

Check ’em out.

A footnote: Obviously, the blog is new. I’m using default WordPress graphics for the moment, and the cover photo does not look anything like Charleston. Not even close. Even if I took a grease pencil and drew some Spanish moss in the trees, it still won’t look like Charleston.

Just bear with me.



Why does spring so totally rock down South?

Always a part of spring.

No comment necessary on my part. Just enjoy the view.

Proof positive that, to misquote Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly), there are two kinds of people in this world: Those that are from ’round here, and those who wish they were.

Cool, shady ... doesn't get much better.
Check out the Spanish moss, but you'll need to slow down for it.
As seen on the Trident Technical College campus, North Charleston SC.

... and just a few feet away ...

Will smartphones trigger a pay phone comeback?

This relic may be coming back, thanks to your high-tech smartphone.

See related story: Android adjustments 2: Preserving battery life.

Cell phones killed the old pay-phone industry, and it appears they might be bringing the old communication icon back.

This may be good news for Clark Kent, who was reduced to finding an unoccupied men’s room to strip off his reporter’s duds and get into his Superman character. But the scuttlebutt is that pay phones may have a future again.

This backwards step comes as cell phones become more advanced and require more power to run them. Android units — which are king among the smartphone set — are particiularly power-hungry, and can suck your battery dry in just a few hours of heavy use.

Understand, this post is partly based on some stuff I’ve read on the net (always a dangerous thing) and partly from taking what I know and making some projections. There’s a lot of speculation here. Again, not the most sound journalistic practice, but I can still see this coming. As phones get smarter (though not necessarily the batteries), this becomes a logical conclusion.

Facebook synchronization and Web browsing will suck a battery dry fairly quickly, and the user is often reduced to some courses of action if he wishes to fire off a fast phone call:

  • Carry your AC adapter and pray you can find an unoccupied outlet somewhere.
  • Carry an extra, charged battery.
  • Make like Superman and find a pay phone.

So far, I haven’t seen any concrete evidence of a pay-phone resurgence, at least not in my neck of the woods. Although I understand pay phones are starting to come back in the larger cities, they’re as hard to find in the South Carolina Lowcountry as they’ve always been.

According to one of my spotters, Ted (the night mayor of Bonneau Beach, SC) his town has not a single pay phone. At all. Out there, cell reception is tricky, but it’s enough that you can at least get a signal.

So you may need to carry a few things when you travel with your Android phone:

  • AC adapter
  • Extra battery
  • Change for the pay phone. Most still take quarters.

Or maybe (shameless plug) just read my piece on preserving Android battery life, in my Random Hacks blog. You might learn something.


Talk to me: Have you ever thought you’d ever use a pay phone again? Don’t you wish one was around when your smart phone battery ran out?

With Black Friday, it’s all in the planning

Shoppers approach your local Stuffmart for Black Friday. Or something.

They’re camping out in front of their destinations already, days in advance. They’re working in teams, with each person having his or her own role in the effort. Getaway drivers, the works.

Terrorists? No.

Bank robbers? No.

Occupiers gone bad? Again, no.

They’re shoppers, positioning themselves to get the most stuff and the sweetest deals for Black Friday.

Actually, now it’s Black Thursday, with store hours creeping back into Thanksgiving, one of the few real holidays we have left, thereby diluting the meaning even more. But that’s another rant for another day.

Out in my neck of the woods, the WalMart will open at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving, while Toys R Us throws its doors open an hour before that, ready to grab some of that Christmas mammon.

Retailers bank on a strong Black Friday. A solid one usually means a good Christmas shopping season. I don’t have any statistics to back me up (although everyone else just makes ’em up anyway), but a solid Christmas season often makes the difference between a profitable and an unprofitable year — especially these days, with the economy being so bad. So you can’t blame the retail industry for trying; those folks gotta eat too.

But every year there’s always one or two items that are heavily hyped, with a buzz that you can feel. There may even be a deep discount added (or not; good hype will often obscure the fact that something is vastly overpriced), and there you go. Although I pay attention to trends, I have no idea what the flagship toy is this year. It’s probably something electronic.

A few years ago, some friends and I plotted out our own Black Friday assault. It was all in fun and definitely fueled by an overdose of turkey and stuffing (deadly stuff, that tryptophan). But we had it all worked out:

  • Two or three mechanics fanning out in the store, working prearranged patterns.
  • I’d have the van running, circling the front half of the parking lot, pushing buggies out of the way if necessary.
  • Our communications guy, dressed in black, would ride shotgun and keep everything together via cell phone and radio.
  • Our tail gunner, also dressed in black, likewise in position. I had some reservations about this guy; he volunteered for the position and seemed just a little too eager.

The plans didn’t come off. It takes a lot more recon to work a proper Black Friday assault, and it helps to have a man on the inside.

Besides, I don’t do crowds. If I must operate in total chaos, let it be of my own making. I’ll do my shopping online, thank you.



Air show: Not the same old base

I love air shows, and I was seriously considering going to the one at the Charleston Air Force Base Saturday.

Thought about it, but I believe I’ll pass.

You know it’s not the same old air force base, not with post-9/11 Homeland Security being a fact of life. You can’t just go onto the base without a search.

I got this from the Air Expo website, and this gives me an idea of what to expect:

Prohibited items include:

  • Coolers
  • Backpacks
  • Gym Bags
  • Glass Bottles
  • Alcohol
  • Knives
  • Fire Arms
  • Car alarms must be disabled for the duration of the air show

Again, not the same old base.

Back in my pre-9/11 taxi driving days, I used to cut through the base as a shortcut. Make up a name at the gate, and no one was the wiser. “I’m here to pick up Airman Mingus and Lt. Coltrane,” I used to say, and no one minded.

Now, without military ID you can’t even go on that base.

OK. Fact of life.

Executive decision: I’m going to watch it from the convenience of my front yard. This is the one time I consider myself lucky to live underneath a landing approach pattern.


While thinking about spring …

These started cropping up on median strips around Charleston this week. I’m not sure what they are; they may really be some sort of weed for all I know.
But a couple of things about this weed:
  • I’ve never seen them grow anywhere else but in South Carolina. I’ve seen them in the Lowcountry and upstate, but oddly, not on the other side of the North Carolina line.
  • They come out in the early spring, and are as much an indicator of the season as the dogwood, as the Bradford pear, as the pedestrian walking around in an intoxicated we-survived-winter-and-the-world’s-all-right state.
  • Plus, they hold their color for only a short time. Then they become true weeds; thrown into the fire and burned.
But the colors are very pretty. Weeds never looked this good.

Alvin Greene becomes fodder for Riverdogs promotion

U.S. Senate nominee Alvin Greene suggested raising money with an Alvin Greene action figure, and now it looks like he’s gonna get it.
The Charleston Riverdogs, the local minor-league baseball team owned by Mike Veeck and Bill Murray, is making use of this. Greene will be immortalized in an action figure to be given away this weekend. Well, kinda sorta.
It turns out the action figure will be about something else, and his face will be available to put onto the toy. It seems that some weird artist wanted to create a male Statue of Liberty (don’t even ask) statue to go up in Charleston Harbor, and that was laughed out of existence. However, the Riverdogs put together a mini “Mr. Liberty” statue as a ballpark promotion.
From what I get, you can then take your Mr. Liberty to an “economic stimulus” station set up in the stadium concourse, where they’ll slap an Alvin Greene face on Mr. Liberty.
Greene, the unknown untested unvetted candidate who somehow got the Democratic nomination for Senate from South Carolina, blurted the action-figure idea out as one of his ideas to raise revenue:

“Little dolls. Me. Like maybe little action dolls. Me in an Army uniform, Air Force uniform and me in my suit.”

And that was in one of his more lucid moments.
I love it.
Here’s the story, from the Post and Courier:

Mr. Liberty, Alvin Greene, part of RiverDogs action figure promotion: “Mr. Liberty, Alvin Greene, part of RiverDogs action figure promotion
CHARLESTON – The RiverDogs are going green: Alvin Greene that is.”

Gotta hand it to the Riverdogs management. They know how to promote. Or wouldn’t you say that about any team that deliberately set a sports record for lowest attendance (zero, as part of Nobody Night where the team played the first five innings in a locked-down stadium). Some years ago they planned Vasectomy Night for Father’s Day some years ago, and this was considered so over the top that the promotion was … say it with me … aborted.
And Greene? He says he doesn’t mind the promotion. “As long as it looks good and is in good nature, I’m OK.”
The Riverdogs are not done with Greene either. They’re planning another promotion down the pike, “Greene Family Reunion” T-shirts similar to the one the candidate was wearing the day after his primary win.
For those who are in the area, the Mr. Lady Liberty/Alvin Greene giveaway is Saturday, July 17.