Columbia Will Be Shining Bright This Summer

And we get to wear our shades in the dark

I’m pretty excited about the fact that Columbia, S.C. is the prime viewing spot on the Solar eclipse South Carolina 2017East Coast for the August 21 solar eclipse.

I’m not a science geek or particularly interested in astronomy (actually, I’m lost when it comes to astronomy), so I’m not sure why I’m revved about two minutes and 36 seconds of daytime darkness. But I am, and so is the rest of the city.

2017 Solar EclipseAll sorts of eclipse-related events and festivals are planned for the week leading up to the big day. You can keep an eye on those here and here. For more scientific info on the eclipse, you can visit The Great American Eclipse.

If you’re in the area before or after the event, a new laser art display was installed and will be lighting up a portion of the Congaree River for the next decade. And that’s a pretty cool thing in our famously hot city.

Team Carolina!

South Carolina is going to the Olympics! Lauren Cholewinski is a native of lauren_cholewinski_York, S.C.  She’s the only athlete on the U.S. team representing our state. Her teammate Heather Richardson is from High Point, which is in the other Carolina.

Oddly enough, Lauren and Heather are speed skaters. Not that speed skating is odd. It’s just we don’t have a lot of ice or ice skaters in the South (though we do have roller skating, including roller derby). The one notable exception is the dinky rink the city of Columbia erected downtown two years ago. It’s only open between November and mid-January. The skaters there work up a pretty good sweat because, after all, it’s South Carolina!

skating rinkNotice all the people holding on to the rail in the picture to the left. That’s because only .05% of South Carolinians have ever even seen a pair of ice skates, let alone tried one on. I also don’t think ice skating is practical down here because skating among the discarded hot-boiled peanut shells would be difficult. In case you didn’t know, hot-boiled peanuts are mandatory munchies at every Southern sporting event.

The Carolina Yankee will be watching the speed skating races. Best of luck to Lauren, Heather and the rest of their teammates in chasing their dreams, and that they won’t be needing any tall glasses of sweet tea to keep them cool in Sochi.

Tweetin’ the Truth

@FreeTimesSC left the most important thing off its list of things the city of Columbia needs.

TweetI cannot figure out why the editorial staff doesn’t run stories of this nature by me before going to print.

Savannah’s lost her charm

SavannahTo learn why the Carolina Yankee is is boycotting Savannah, check out this post on Random AnnAcdotes.

OHI0007-CatWriterLaptop-500If you like what you see on Random AnnAcdotes when you get there, you can subscribe to have posts delivered straight to your email inbox (you won’t receive spam and your email address won’t be shared). And if you “like it” on Facebook, the silly, sarcastic and semi-serious commentary posted by this award-winning but reluctant journalist will show up on your news feed (as the Carolina Yankee’s Facebook posts already do, right?)

Toe be or not toe be? What a question!

Did you know it’s possible to determine where a woman is from just by looking wineat her feet? I didn’t either.  I learn the most interesting things when I’m sipping wine with my gal pals.

Last weekend Donna and I were sipping and sunning poolside. Looking proudly at her brightly painted toenails, Donna confessed that this was the first time in her life her toenails had ever been painted. For the record, Donna isn’t Amish and hasn’t been living on a deserted island all her life. She’s a run-of-the-mill American woman (though special to me) who simply had never applied lacquer to her toes. Or even had a professional pedicure. Oh, and she’s from New Hampshire.

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My spring pedicure!

“Are you freakin’ kidding me? What’s up with that?” I asked, wiggling my mango-colored tootsies in the water. I get a pedicure every spring and usually at least one more time over the summer. It’s right up there with my twice-yearly dental check-ups.

As if her confession wasn’t bewildering enough, she added, “Women up North don’t paint their toes. I never saw painted toenails until I moved to the South.”  Yes, she actually said that.

Heather, who hails from Pennsylvania, arrived a few minutes later and the first thing I noticed was her that her toenails were naked. Heather, incredulously, backed up Donna’s assertion that polished toenails is a Southern thing.  I don’t buy it. I lived up North for many years and painted my toenails frequently. And I know for a fact that ALL my gal pals up North paint their toenails.  I have pictures to prove it.

Phyllis and Darlene getting pedicures in Edgewater, Md.

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Leslie, Alissa and me after our pedicures in Mt. Airy, Md.

Problem Shoe

Michelle’s polished toes in Washington, D.C.

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Heather and Donna

I think I know what I’m getting Donna and Heather, for Christmas this year: gift certificates to the local nail salon. After all, the long, cold, snowy winters up North winters require shoes be worn for much of the year so polishing one’s toenails may be largely pointless. Here in the sunny South we wear flip-flops sandals and open-toed shoes year ‘round. And when in the South, do as the Southerner’s do!

Columbia’s homeless vs Columbia’s clueless

This is what people are talking about in Columbia, S.C. these days. Other than Gamecock football, of course!
(Original post by RandomAnnAcdotes)

It’s embarrassing when the capital city of a large state such as Columbia, S.C. makes the national news for what appears to be its heartless stance on the homeless. Columbia has a homfeedthehomeless_headereless problem, but it isn’t the homeless people. It’s the politicians, business owners, residents and everyone else complaining about the homeless population downtown.

This city’s been struggling with this issue for at least the 20 years I’ve been living here. And here’s why:

If you feed a stray cat at your back door, the cat is no longer a stray. It’s yours. You may not vaccinate, worm or bathe it, but it’s yours. You might not let it in your house, or even the garage, but it’s yours.

I’m not heartless and I’m not suggesting homeless people go hungry. I’m suggesting Columbia quit feeding the homeless at the back door. Did it never occur to anyone that the free dinners in the park, lunches provided by church groups and other handouts are why the homeless congregate downtown?

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Oliver Gospel Mission
Helping the homeless since 18888

What baffles me is the city’s refusal to model any of the Oliver Gospel Mission’s methods of working with our homeless population. The Mission has been operating for over 125 years in the in the heart of downtown Columbia. It must be doing something right because homeless people aren’t loitering there all day and night and its programs are thriving. Ask any of the staff why that is.

Yes, it’s a faith-based organization, but they don’t require conversion or a proclamation of faith. The Mission welcomes donors, volunteers and homeless people of all faiths – or not faith at all. No, it’s not a perfect organization, but it’s a responsible one that knows homelessness inside and out.

Remarkably, monetary donations to the Mission haven’t declined significantly if all since the 2008 recession. Maybe if Columbia’s Midlands Housing Alliance had donated to the Mission all the money it raised to build the apparently less-than-successful Transitions then the Mission could’ve fulfilled its goal of opening a center for women and children by now. They’re the fastest growing segment of the homeless population and stay hidden from view. But they’re out there. The homeless hanging out downtown are only the tip of the iceberg.

feral catThe Mission believes in giving a hand up, not a handout. Columbia, why don’t you let the Oliver Gospel Mission give you a badly needed hand up in dealing with your feral cats? The Mission doesn’t have all the answers to the problem, but they have more than you. The phone number is (803) 254-6470. And in the interest of full disclosure, I was employed in the administrative offices at the Mission briefly several years ago, so tell them Anna sent you.

My duel for fuel

There’s much I like about my neighborhood Kroger grocery store; it’s within walking distance from my house, clean, and well-stocked. It finally joined the 21st century a few months ago by installing a salad bar and gourmet cheese section. Most of the employees are friendly and helpful. My favorite thing is the small carts available for times when a standard buggy is too big and a hand basket is too small. (Somebody recently told me “buggy” is a Northernism.)

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The Kroger coupons I receive can lead to big savings.

I’ve raised four kids and numerous pets on Kroger groceries. I still feed one hollow-legged teenage boy every day (and night) so my investment is ongoing. I spend so much money there my Kroger Plus card triggers all sorts of coupons on many of the items I buy on a regular basis. I often receive coupons for frees stuff. And my loyalty is rewarded with tons of fuel points I amass that mean big savings at Kroger gas stations.

And there’s the rub.

Neither of the two Kroger stores on my side of town have Kroger gas stations. The third Kroger in Columbia is 23 miles away in a part of town I visit maybe three times a year.

I’ve discussed this dilemma with the store manager and several other employees, all of whom have the same complaint as I. They urged me to call the customer service number and lodge my complaint. The robotic agent typed my Double fuel pointsgrievance into her computer and thanked me for calling.  I blew a gasket when Kroger announced they were doubling fuel points rewards over the summer.

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My June and July fuel points are worthless unless I drive 35 minutes across town.

I finally wrote to W. Rodney McMullen, the president and chief operating officer of Kroger Co., letting him know of my extreme dissatisfaction that loyal customers are not able to redeem their fuel points. I suggested customers who don’t have access to Kroger gas stations be rewarded in alternate ways. That shouldn’t be difficult since, by monitoring my shopping habits through my Kroger Plus card, Kroger knows perfectly well how to reward me. I’ve waited weeks for a response. I’m still waiting.

From now on, I’m shopping at Bi-Lo because their fuel program lets customers redeem loyalty points at any Shell gas station.

Note: I posted a link to this blog on Kroger’s Facebook page asking nicely for a response. I got a response: my post was deleted within 10 minutes. Customer service at its best.


UPDATE: I posted this three years ago and I’m happy to report that a Kroger with a gas station where I can use my points is being built less than 5 miles from my house. 

Hooray

Hooray!