Friday, December 7, 2018

Twitter and not communicating

I'M ABOUT TO give up on Twitter. Sheryl made me an account and I admit I scroll through it daily, though I never post. Twitter is a great thing to keep up on breaking news, but it's so virulent and full of unchecked lies and rants. If you make this the way to communicate with your people, well, you aren't very good at communicating.

Tuesday night I was working at the paper in sports, getting results from games and putting stories together. Basically the way it works now is that coaches email scoresheets to the paper, and we put together a short story. If the game is close or if a player goes off, we'll call the coach and try to get more information.

One of our young college kids got a result from a double overtime game and alertly called the coach to get more details. The coach said, "Everything I have to say about the game is on Twitter." And he hung up. So our guy called the losing coach, but of course he didn't answer or return the call. The coach's twitter account was private and we couldn't access it, of course.

Really? Your team just won a double overtime thriller and a local newspaper is calling you and you shrug it off? Hmmmm .... maybe there is more to this, but I suspect it's the way of the world these days - screw you, I'm just tweeting my results and you can take it from there.

This coach is just torpedoing his own program, keeping his team and players from getting recognized. I understand it's tough being a coach and the last thing you want to do sometimes is deal with the media, but the smart coaches realize it's part of the job and something you have to do.

I am not speaking about anybody in particular, but sports guys tend to have long memories. They remember who is good to work with, and who isn't. I spent 10 years in sports and working relationships were huge. If we had a program with a coach who didn't quite get it, do you think that played into coverage of games, all area teams and other things?

Yup. I was human and petty about it too, I guess.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Critters in the cemetery

WE ENCOUNTER PLENTY of critters on our morning Woodland Cemetery walks. We've seen tons of squirrels and moles, of course. The dogs have kept the mole population down this year and have probably killed at least 30 to 40 of them. Moles breed by breathing air so poor Eric and his staff are constantly dealing with mole trails through the grass. So they like the dogs.

This morning Genie caught a squirrel, which then played dead as it hung in her jaws. Since it wasn't fighting back, Genie simply dropped it, and the squirrel got up, looked Genie square in the eyes and said, "SORRY SUCKER." Then it flew up a nearby tree and laughed like a maniac at the ticked off dogs.

A couple of weeks ago in the far southwest part of the cemetery we saw from a distance what looked like a large cat. It was reddish in color, and it kind of hard to tell because it darted into the woods, but I thought it might be a red fox.

This morning, not 10 yards in front of me, the fox suddenly popped up. Tucker and Angus were off somewhere but Genie saw it right away and gave chase. It was no contest - the fox was a blur as it gathered momentum and flew down the hill. Genie chased it for maybe 100 yards, then gave up.

There are also deer, possums and raccoons hanging out in the cemetery. I saved a possum not long ago by the City Vault - it was so fat that it could barely waddle, and the dogs nipped at it a few times until I shooed them away, and off the poor frightened beast went into the safety of the wood.

There are also lots of hawks and bald eagles, especially when the river freezes up and then head over to the lock and dam to fish. You know there is something dead in the woods when you see the turkey vultures circling in the air and about to swoop down to pick at the carcass.

The dogs agree - it's a beautiful thing hanging out with all the creatures!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Ukes are still cool

ONE OF THE best decisions we've ever made at Second String Music is getting into ukuleles. They are massively popular because they are affordable and easy to play. Yesterday was Uke Day at Fifth and Maine and typical of this time of year.

It started when a woman came in and bought three awesome Luna ukuleles for her grandsons for Christmas. We sold two more ukuleles, including our last Alvarez pack. No worries - we still have lots of affordable Penguin ukes and lots of Amahi,  Gretsch and Luna ukes.

They are easy to play because they are small, lightweight and have four strings. The chord shapes are relatively simple and it's not hard to strum. I had to learn about a year ago to play them because I have three uke students now and three or four others this past year.

If you have a child interested in music, a Penguin uke is perfect, starting at $45. These aren't the Wal-Mart toys, either. They are real instruments and sound great. We have them in concert, soprano and tenor sizes, and there's a uke for your budget and abilities.

It's all about Yuletide and Uketide greetings at Second String Music!


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Taking the plunge to Fifth and Maine

THERE ARE A lot of things I don't know how to do when it comes to Fifth and Maine. I can sell you a guitar and teach you how to play Wipeout, but I can't do anything mechanical, electrical or even how to type up an invoice on Quickbooks.

This morning Sheryl went to physical therapy for her shoulder, and the PT asked her why I wasn't there. "We need to show him what you are doing so he can help you," she said. After Sheryl stopped laughing and throwing her shoulder out of whack, she said, "He can't even run the cash register. He's a musician."

Well, I can fake my way around a cash register, but the point is, I stick to what I know how to do. It might not be much, but it's all I got.

There is one thing, however, I have recently learned to do and it's very important when you own a building and rent space out to another business. Namely, you need to learn how to plunge a toilet.

Last Friday night the toilet in Electric Fountain Brewing got stopped up. Somebody flushed a diaper and it was clogged. Fortunately it didn't spill over the bowl, but man, it was nasty.

So I got the plunger out and started plunging away. When Sheryl saw me, she started laughing (sense a theme here?) and said, "Let me walk you through this. You gotta get an air bubble in the plunge chamber."

It's all about the angle.
Seems you have to plunge, remove the plunger out of the water, and let the air get back into the rubber end of the plunger. Also, you have to plunge at the correct angle and completely cover the opening at the bottom of the bowl. The plunger has to seal the hole for maximum plunge efficiency. Who knew?

Sure enough, after about two minutes of cussing and plunging correctly, in that order, the toilet miraculously drained and everything was fine. Now I know all about correct plunging angles and plunger air bubbles.

And I'm so much better prepared for the next time something gets stopped up around here.

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Pink Floyd kinda guy

YOU NEVER KNOW who will walk into Second String Music looking for an instrument. You never judge a book by the cover, right? Whoever said that probably worked in small business retail.

Saturday morning, Sheryl was off running errands so Steve Rees and I manned the store. In walked a guy who said he was just checking the store out. He sat down and started strumming some of our amazing Takamine acoustic guitars.

Next thing I know he comes up to the counter and says, "I'll take it." You would think after doing this for nearly eight years we'd be used to selling a beautiful guitar, but I still get a big charge out of it. He also got a case and some other stuff.

We are ringing him up at the counter when he looks at the wall behind me and says, "I'm working on his house." He pointed at Sheryl's picture of Roger Waters on the wall. In case you didn't know, Sheryl is a massive Roger Waters fan, both in Pink Floyd and his solo work.

Turns out this guy is an electrician from Florida and flew up to the area to play at a family member's party. Southwest Airlines lost his guitar. Ooops! Southwest's blunder is our gain. "We are doing the electrical work on Roger Waters' house in the Hamptons," he said. "He's ... particular. Mostly we just deal with his entourage. When you've sold a million albums, I guess you can have an entourage."

So there you have it. We sold a guitar to a guy who is working on Roger Waters' house. Sheryl just missed meeting him and was sorely disappointed. "Tell him to come back!" she said. "Two degrees of separation is probably as close as I'll ever come."

Maybe some day Roger Waters himself will come in and buy a Takamine acoustic. What are the chances? About as great as his electrician doing the same thing. Right!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Christmas hours are our hours

IT WAS AWESOME to see a bunch of people in Washington Park last night. The District is hosting special events Thursdays during the Christmas season, and it's a great way to draw people downtown. Last night was the Characters In The Park night and it was a huge success, just like last Saturday's tree lighting event.

Sheryl and I have debated staying open later at Second String Music. Our Monday through Friday hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. We are usually here between 9 and 9:30 in the morning, and because of lessons or later customers it's not unusual for us to be here past 7 at night. On Saturdays we are here 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but many times we've been here later than 4.

It's all part of small local retail. We have established hours but we are also here for our customers.

In past years we've stayed open late during Christmas and Sundays. I don't think we are going to do that this year. There are a number of businesses open later on Thursdays in December and I'm curious to see if they get many people in their stores.

Still, we are here and we are rocking already as Christmas draws near, and we are more than happy to be here early and stay late for our loyal customers.