Inspired . . . Really!

March 8, 2011

This one was published in the venerable Macon Telegraph, so it really has to be true. (For real, see the article).  It seems that the Pork Board, ummh make that the National Pork Board, has decided that it’s time to change their careworn slogan of 25 years.  You’ve heard the old tagline, even if you don’t remember it:  “Pork:  the other white meat.” That one never really played well down here. The first white meat is naturally chicken.  In Middle Georgia, we always figured the other white meat was catfish.

So, anyway, with pork consumption totaling 50 pounds per capita in the U.S.; the National Pork Board wants to increase consumption by 10% by 2014.  And they’re going to do it with “a stronger connection, a more emotional connection to our product,” This according to Ceci Snyder, the board’s VP of Marketing.  Tying all of this together is a new and powerful new slogan.  Are you ready for this?

Pork: 

Be Inspired

 

Pig in a tutu

The pig in a tutu doesn’t come with the new catchphrase . . . it’s Poor Richard’s contribution, just for effect.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but this one really gets my adrenaline pumping.  I’m picturing a big budget, highly paid advertising executives, focus groups, quantitative analysis, A-level meetings with upper management, large expenditures, lots of money . . . all surrounding the impressive new phrase: Be inspired. Oh, and did I mention lots of money?

Poor Richard used to travel through southern Indiana, where they talk about hogs and actually raise them.  I expect that a small agency in Vincennes or Seymour could have done the same work for $500.  Nonetheless, I am impressed (and inspired). In fact, I’m so inspired that I’m going to start on this year’s 55 pounds of pork tomorrow.  Barbecue for lunch at Gralpharaphics!

Dirty Pig Face


Expose’

May 20, 2009

The phrase that kept coming to mind was “showin’ tail,” which can be defined as either the southern pronunciation of that age old and established grammar school activity where every student brings a frog or a doll or a younger sibling to talk about; or the presumably accidental revelation of the anterior part of the anatomy.

This one’s liable to get Poor Richard into big trouble. It’s not just that I’m making fun of a customer (again), but this time it’s a church. Worse, it’s my church.  I’ve resisted writing this short entry for a couple of weeks now and I guess I could resist some more. Or, I could use Flip Wilson’s excuse, “The devil made me do it!”

The church that beautiful wife and I attend is a small town congregation. It is a friendly, loving group of folks for the most part, with the occasional unpresentable member Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 12. Like many small congregations, there are many folks there who “do church” on Sunday, a few who are really into church work, and some who really want to find out where God is working and join in.  It’s the last group that I’m probably going to be in the biggest trouble with, because what I’m writing about is their undertaking.

The undertaking is undeniably good.  It is Celebrate Recovery, which started as a ministry for those suffering with addictions at Saddleback Church. There has been a Celebrate Recovery program in Warner Robins, a larger city to the north of Perry where I live, but nothing in south Houston County, despite the fact that Perry is indeed the center of both the known and unknown universe.

Problem PostcardEnough rambling . . . after all, it should have been a simple enough task.  Poor Richard was asked to print and mail a postcard advertising the new ministry.  All well and good . . . at least until the art came in.  The photo of an obviously distressed woman weeping in front of a closed door was effective. It conveyed a message of desperation and would perhaps lead someone in that state to search for an answer beyond themselves.

But one aspect of the photo was just a bit distracting. The woman pictured is wearing a nightshirt and is sitting with her legs propped at an angle.  Technically speaking, she isn’t actually “showin’ tail,” but to continue in Southern vernacular, “she purty near is.”

I actually don’t know where the photo and concept came from. It’s possible that it could have been supplied by Saddleback Church as part of the promotional package for Celebrate Recovery.  If so, maybe the definition of “nearly nekkid” is different in Rancho Chimichanga, California or wherever it is that the megachurch is located. It is also possible that one of the ladies at our church found the photo and thought it appropriate.  Not having a depraved male mind, I suppose they could have missed the distracting part.

It really doesn’t matter much . . . Poor Richard’s never been much on printing photos of scantily clad women.  Not that we haven’t been asked. I’ve turned down a calendar job or two over the years and an exotic dancer once threatened to sue me for not printing postcards featuring her topless image.  (She really got angry when I told her that she looked better with her clothes on).  But I digress . . . this one just didn’t pass the propriety test, especially coming from my church.

I emailed the lady who had sent the art. “Approved by the pastor,” came the response.  Unfortunately, the pastor was out of town for a week and the postcard needed to hit the USPS before his return. I emailed a couple of respected leaders in the church. They agreed with me, but didn’t offer much in the way of suggestions.

Many of Poor Richard’s readers will understand that the way decisions are made in churches is unpredictable and occasionally unfathomable. Frequently, the cardinal rule of ecclesiastical decision-making is not to decide at all. So, after much prayer, some good advice and with godly wisdom and great courage; Poor Richard decided to sit on the project until the pastor returned.

What Poor Richard lacked  was only a bit of common sense. Fortuitously, the pastor brought some of that back with him from vacation.

“Put the church logo over her bottom,” was the essence of his short email response.

“Duh . . .” thought Poor Richard.

We did and the postcard was in the mail and not “showin’ tail.”


Bailout, Please?

April 1, 2009

At first, I wasn’t even interested.  After all, bailout funds have something of a stigma about them, don’t they? What with AIG, the big car companies, and greedy bankers all clamoring for more, it’s just a little embarassing for a small businessperson to go out looking for the government dole. We’re supposed to be the proud and determined entrepreneurs that keep the country productive and innovative and 16 other patriotic sounding adjectives.

After 17 continuous months of recession, though,  things were getting kind of desperate.  Actually, Poor Richard didn’t realize that it had actually been 17 long months until he heard it on the radio.  They kept the first year a secret for a while, you know. Anyway, because the level of desperation is inversely proportional to the level of funds in the company bank account; when the desperation got high enough, I made the phone call.  After all, I rationalized,  if all this money they’re printing isn’t  going to be worth a plug nickel in the long run, shouldn’t AlphaGraphics get some to spend before everybody else figures it out?

So Poor Richard called Saxby Chambliss’ office in Macon and asked to speak with the Senator. A very nice young lady informed me that the Senator doesn’t really actually even ever stay here in Georgia, because it’s too far away from the center of things where all of the important stuff happens. She asked me why I was calling.

“I’m looking for some bailout money,” I responded, then decided to sweeten the pot. “Of course, I’ll be willing to sell up to 99% of the stock in my company, if that will help.”

“Oh, that would be most helpful!” she answered, “and exactly how many billions of dollars does your company need to stay afloat?”

Not wishing to be greedy, Poor Richard responded that a few million would actually do quite nicely. This didn’t sit well with the young lady in Senator Chambliss’ office, though.

“Only a few million?” came the huffy response, “I’m not sure that the treasury department is set up to administer bailouts in such small amounts. I’ll refer your inquiry to the Senator, but perhaps you should contact the Federal Department of Largesse and see if they have a block bailout program for smaller concerns like yours.”

She was kind enough to give me the toll free number for the Department of Largesse and then hung up the phone muttering something about the time wasted by common citizens who feel entitled to call Senators’ offices. Feeling bold, nonetheless, Poor Richard placed a call to the Department of Largesse and immediately became entangled in the voice mail system.

“To assure the highest levels of service, please state your name and input your 9 digit Federal Employer number,” droned a disembodied voice.

I complied.

“Your call may be monitored to assure high levels of service,” continued the voice, “and your phone may be tapped to assure that you are not speaking regularly with Osama bin Laden or other Al Qaeda operatives. If you wish to continue, please enter your SIC code and the amount of governmental largesse that you wish to request.”

Once again, I complied. Not wanting to be greedy, I punched in 7,500,000.  “This is really kind of easy,” I thought.

“Please be advised that if you are awarded funds by the Federal Department of Largesse, your salary and bonus package will be limited to a measly $500,000 annually.  In addition, you are warned not to openly redistribute government funds among executive employees in such a manner that the news media or the public might discover your abominably irresponsible and unpatriotic behavior. If you agree with these terms and conditions, please press “1” to continue.”

Having no difficulty with the conditions, Poor Richard pressed “1.”

A long pause ensued, followed by a click as my call was transferred. Poor Richard could hardly wait. “Now I’ll get to talk with one of the customer service reps and tell them where to mail my $7.5 million,” I thought.

The phone clicked once more and another computerized voice queried. “Our records indicate that the asset value of your business is less than $10 billion dollars. Is this correct? If ‘yes,’ please press ‘1’ now, otherwise hold for the next customer service representative.”

With all good intentions and still hoping for the best,  Poor Richard pressed “1.”

“We regret to inform you that your business has been deemed insignificant by the Federal Department of Largesse,” sounded yet another automated attendant. “The SIC code you entered indicates that your company is involved in the business of printing. Printing is not considered to be a relevant economic activity, nor is it eligible for funding under President Obama’s 21st Century Initiative for Green, Energy-Efficient, Barely Conceivable and Totally Impractical Projects.”

“Please press ‘1’ if you’d like to speak with a customer service representative,” the voice continued. “Our current hold time is estimated at 16 years, 3 months, 2 days, 5 hours, 16 minutes and 35 seconds. Calls will be served in the order that they are received. If you’d like to be considered for a consolation prize, please press ‘2’ now.”

Feeling despondent, Poor Richard pressed ‘2.’ “Please hold,” came the voice.

It took a minute before I realized that the background music playing while I waited was familiar. It was Ray Charles singing about Greenbacks . . . “just a little piece of paper, coated with chlorophyll.”  I confirmed my mailing address with the last automated attendant and was told to look for my consolation check in the mail. In closing,  Poor Richard received a firm promise that the Department of Governmental Largesse would always endeavor to reallocate the resources of this great nation from each according to their ability and to each according to their need.

$100 Bill

$100 Bill

I’m still waiting for the check. You know, Lincoln ain’t gonna get it, Jackson neither.  Maybe they’ll send a fresh, crisp $100 bill with Poor Richard on the front.


Possessed

December 15, 2008

My printshop is possessed by demons and I’ve been given the job from Hell.

Aside from that, things are going astoundingly well.

devilLet me preface this post with a simple statement of faith. I know that God is still in control and I am firmly convinced that he has a sense of humor. I will not sit in the ashheap in sackcloth and bemoan the situation, because it really is too ridiculous to be serious.

I’ll try to chart the sequence of events.  I think it began when Debra, the service tech who works on our nearly palindromatic digital color machine (begins and ends with an X) was given a week’s vacation by her nearly palindromatic company.  Good for Debra, bad for AlphaGraphics. The nearly palindromatic machine kicked out and backup was sent in.  At 10 am on day one, he had been trained to repair the machine and was fully confident. At 7 pm on day one, he was missing parts and had patched the machine well enough for us to run some critical jobs. At 9:30 am on day two, we had run one critical job and the X___X digital color machine had melted down. Backup showed again on day 3, this time with tenacity, a cell phone, and a full day’s supply of cigarettes. Day 3 and Day 4 went by and backup gave up completely.  Poor Richard calls for reinforcements from the big city.  They show up on Day 5 and we’re up and running . . .

BUT: We’re printing in bright reds and bright blues.

Upstairs . . . the fans won’t go off on the machine that is manufactured by the company whose initials begin with the eighth and sixteenth letters of the alphabet.  The fans are a good thing . . . they cool down the ultraviolent lamps that make the ink stick to whatever it is that you’re running through the machine. It doesn’t take 2 hours for the lamps to cool. Mike, who runs the machine upstairs, decides that two hours is indeed excessive and perhaps he should turn the machine off and on to see if it will reset. He is successful at turning the machine off.

We have a good customer, who, like all of the rest of our good customers, is trying to squeeze blood from turnips. We’ve missed a couple of jobs, but she’s sent us this one. It’s a booklet . . . all ready in Microsoft Publisher. She needs 75 of them. All of the photos and none of the fonts are embedded in the file.  It’s ginormous . . . we could actually see the lump coming over the phone lines as we downloaded it. It has 6,374 photos compressed into 24 pages.  All were taken with the camera in my cell phone and they’re all in RGB mode. She needs 75 books in color and she won’t understand it if we charge her to fix the file. Nor is she particularly excited about fixing the file herself.

Fast forward from last week to today . . . Jamaal, my remaining pressman, is totally unflappable.  What that means is that he can’t be flapped. I am convinced that he could smile through the devastation of a hurricane or the horrors of nuclear war. At 1 PM he prepares our envelope press for a short run of remittance envelopes. Printing these envelopes requires a special feeder. It is a fairly cantankerous beast on a good day. Today, the envelope press will not run . . . it is putting ink where paper should go and paper where ink should go.  Jamaal switches the envelope feeder to another press. It will not feed.  Poor Richard tries to help and makes matters worse . . . much worse. By 4:30, Jamaal is flapped . . . he has managed to accomplish 45 minutes of work in 3.5 hours.

Upstairs, a technician has arrived to fix the machine manufactured by the company whose initials begin with the 8th and 16th letters of the alphabet.  He is fortified with 3 large boxes of parts sent by that company . . . all of the circuitboards needed to fix a wide format printer or put a man on the moon. None of them are working.  Poor Richard is praying that his customers will be patient. Didn’t it take about 10 years after Kennedy’s speech before Neal Armstrong actually played golf on the moon?

Debra has returned from vacation! Hallelujah!  The booklet from hell is still printing in bright reds and blues! Not Hallelujah!

If there is one thing that I have learned after 10 years in this business, it’s that sometimes the best solution is just to go home. The kids have band concerts tonight. What could be better than that?

God is good. Isn’t life grand?


Fogging for Veeps

June 23, 2008

The air conditioner on my less than vintage 1993 Pontiac Bonneville doesn’t. Actually it does . . . condition the air, that is; but for wintertime, not Georgia summer. So I cool off in the car the old fashioned way by rolling down the windows. The electric windows do work on the “old man mobile,” as the car has been dubbed by my children. With the windows down and cruising at 65 mph, one can enjoy the full effect of 95% humidity in Middle Georgia.

My children will not ride in the car. “It smells bad, It’s ugly, it doesn’t have air conditioning,” they say. They’re right about the smell and the air conditioning. I always liked the lines of the old beast. And the smell is quite bearable at 65 mph on the Interstate with the warm and humid air streaming in and the radio blasting through the one remaining speaker that isn’t cracked.

It’s a 30 minute drive from AlphaGraphics to home in Perry. The strategy is simple. Hit the Interstate and cruise. It works most days, but not today. Today was Monday. I could tell that it was Monday even early this morning, when no one showed up for the 8:00 am morning meeting but me. Monday struck again when I looked at the brochure that one of our pressmen struggled with for half a day on Saturday. It was supposed to be gray. Instead it was blue on one side and purple on the other. Monday occurred again on the wide format printer, which managed to turn a very deep black into chocolate brown. And Monday lambasted me on the way home.

It’s not unusual to encounter Georgia State Patrol cars on the medians as one drives south on I-75. At certain times of the year, they undertake revenue enhancement on behalf of Govnah Sunny, who has actually run a pretty tight financial ship during his tenure in office. Today they were out in force, positioned at almost every mile marker between Warner Robins and Perry.

“Something’s up,” I thought, but it really wasn’t a problem for me. You can’t speed in the Bonneville with the windows open, no matter how hard you may try. The noise is prohibitive and it really just doesn’t want to go that fast. And if you move too fast, the air in the car cools down just enough for clouds to form and it rains in the back seat, which explains both the interesting fungi and the smell.

I knew it was Monday once again when I pulled off at the Perry Exit and was stopped on the ramp by another State Patrol car. An assault helicopter circled above as we came to a dead stop. I could see another patrol car on the other side of the bridge. They had cordoned off the exit, and I was stuck in the cordon.

A newer model Chevrolet pulled up next to me with a younger woman driving. She had the windows down, too. She looked at me and I at her and we both shrugged. “AC broken?” I asked.

“Nope,” she replied. “Just about out of gas. What’s going on?”

The speaker on the patrol car ahead of us barked, “We’ve got him at the convenience store.”

“Manhunt,” I yelled through the window. “Must be somebody really dangerous to shut down the exit like this. You might want to roll up your window and lock your doors.”

“Nobody’s that dangerous,” she replied. I agreed.

We sat and sweated for 5 minutes or so. I decided to call Beautiful Wife, who usually knows mostly everything that’s going on. “Oh, no!” said Beautiful Wife, “it’s not a manhunt, it’s Cheney. He’s going to eat with the Davidsons.” She commiserated with me briefly and explained that a wealthy couple outside of town was hosting the VP for a dinner and soiree this evening. The VP’s route would probably take him past my exit, explaining why I was sweltering in the Pontiac and the young lady next to me was wondering whether she had enough gas to get to the station when she cranked her car once again.

Then we spotted the entourage. A group of large, black SUV’s with illegally tinted windows. It was either Cheney or the leader of one of the United Arab Emirates. Either way, they certainly were not concerned with fuel prices or oil shortages. There wasn’t a car in the entourage that would get over 10 mpg.

Somewhere in one of the ponderous black monstrosities sat Vice President Cheney in cool air conditioning and probably sipping an iced beverage. I was underwhelmed. The young lady in the Chevrolet wasn’t impressed either.

“I’m voting for Obama,” she yelled through the window as she moved up the hill towards the gas station.

“Monday,” I thought, and headed for home, hoping beyond hope that it was over. I didn’t here the whine until the last intersection before my street. The truck zoomed past, fogging me with malathion through the open windows of the Bonneville. I reminded myself that I’ve given up cussing, said a short prayer, and rolled up the windows. The temperature immediately rose another 10 degrees and it started raining in the back seat as I drove in the fog behind the pesticide truck up my street and pulled into my driveway.

The fog settled as I opened the car door and I realized that the combination of pesticide and heat was causing me to hallucinate. I was seeing Vice President Cheney’s motorcade once again and driving in front of the largest SUV was the malathion truck, fogging away.

Happy Monday, Vice President Cheney!


Oprah Spotting

November 18, 2007

As beautiful wife and I left one of our favorite lunchtime haunts on Cherry Street Thursday, we noticed a well-dressed young man hurrying down the street toward us. By my guess he was a professional, in coat and tie, with an expectant and excited shine in his eyes.

“What’s the rush?” I queried.

He smiled nervously and replied, “It’s Oprah. She’s going to eat at the NuWay. Have you seen her yet?”244winfreyoprah091906.jpg

It was more that a little crazy in Macon the end of the last week. Oprah Winfrey taped a show here and the presence of such an electrifying personality in our city had the immediate effect of shorting out the synapses of a large part of the population.

“Ma’am, all you have to do to approve the proof is reply to the email,” Brian was saying into his headset as we returned to the shop. “Just type ‘OK to Print’ and reply,” he continued to an obviously confused customer.

“The reply button,” he continued, “on the email. It’s the button that says ‘Reply.’ ” Brian’s perpetually patient good humor was flagging a little. “Yes, that will send an email back to me. I’m the one that sent the proof to you. We’ll print your project when we receive your approval.”

He listened patiently, rolling his eyes. “Yes, ma’am, you can print it out and sign it, but that will mean you’ll have to use the print button and the fax machine.”

I knew that there was a full scale disruption of the magnetic field in Middle Georgia when I caught a snippet of Sharon’s conversation later in the afternoon. Sharon, our salesperson, was answering questions from one of her customers. She’s not always as diplomatic as Brian and seethed a light expletive under her breath after she finished the call.

“What?” I asked.

“I can’t believe what she just asked me,” was the response. “She wanted to know how many envelopes were in a box of 500.”

The crew took off early and I was at the front counter when one of our favorite designers came in with a camera and a sly smile on her face.

“And what are you doing?” I asked of her.

“Ostensibly, I’m on a photo shoot,” she returned with a slightly deranged expression on her face. Then she whispered, “In actuality I’ve been Oprah spotting!”

Thanks for coming to Macon, Oprah! Now we know why California is so crazy!


Big Pig Update

June 2, 2007

Curiouser and Curioser . . .

Eldest daughter sent a link with a different slant on the big pig story (See Just In Case You Missed It ). It seems that the pig had a name, and it wasn’t Grendel after all. Fred, the pig, was domesticated. The image of young Jamison pursuing the feral pig through dangerous Alabama swampland wasn’t exactly accurate, either. Fred the pig was shot in a fenced in hunting preserve.

Here is a quote from the Atlanta Constitution with Fred’s previous owners’ take on the story:

“From his treats of canned sweet potatoes to how their grandchildren would play with him, their stories painted the picture of a gentle giant. They even talked about how their small Chihuahua would get in the pen with him and come out unscathed.”

Read the whole story at AJC .

Isn’t life grand?