Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Michael Madison

I recently completed the fifth in a series of not-so-short short stories about a kid named Michael Madison, who, along with his Dad, Dan, his Mom, Melanie, and a growing list of characters, gets involved in solving mysteries, of sorts. In the first story, with the working title of "The Legend of Ben Payne," Mike's persistence and tech skills lead to the unravelling of a hundred year old mystery involving a train robbery, a gold mining pair of brothers, and mysterious holes in the Madison's back yard. The Madison's curious dog, Wrigley, by the way, is our real dog, but Michael is not my son. Nor am I Dan Madison, although there are similarities; and there are some intentional, some inadvertent, similarities between real people and characters in the stories. I won't offer any disclaimer or apology. I've genuinely tried to be nice to everyone, and in creating the characters of Dan, Melanie, Mike, and their friends, I've endeavored to make them nice, gentle, kind, and generous--in honor of my Dad who was a true gentleman.

I will have "Ben Payne" for sale on one or another of the e-book sites sometime soon. If you stumble across my blog, take my word for it--it's a good story. The other four to follow soon are even better.

False Advertising

What's the point? My favorite airline, the one I use most because I like it, is always advertising "low, low fares," as low as $49. Well, it's almost true that the fares start at $49, but that's not what you'd pay for the one and only destination that's listed at $49. You also pay $3.70 Fed Excise tax per take-off and landing ($7.40 for a round trip), $9 PFC (Passenger Facility Charge), and $5 government mandated 9/11 security fee. So, you can't fly round trip to anywhere for $98 in spite of what the advertising says. It's at least $21 more than that--and that's if you pick the right days--the $49 starter figure is only good three or four days each week--it could go as high as $123 if you pick the wrong day, and it's a different day every week.

What if your favorite hamburger joint priced the same way? The overhead menu board says "Whopper--$0.50*" but the asterisk points you to the bottom of the page which says, "on the fifth Thursday of each month, does not include obligatory meat and cheese charge of $2 per Whopper, nor mandated FPCC (Fresh Produce & Condiment Charge) of $1, nor Parent Company imposed profit margin of $0.45 per transaction. Certain limits may apply.

Airlines aren't the worst, by the way. Have you ever really looked hard at your phone bill or electric utility bill?