Monday, December 04, 2006

(This post doesn't merit a clever headline)

My first story for the SJ-R’s Heartland Magazine ran on Friday. Given the widespread power outages, I’m assuming that a good number of subscribers used it for kindling. So in that respect, I suppose you could say it was a very enlightening story. (Get it? Because it was used to light fires.)

As far as I can tell, the Heartland stories aren’t available online so I’ll reprint the first couple of paragraphs here.

It's 6 p.m. on a Saturday, and the temperature sits just above freezing on this late autumn evening. On the north side of town, they're kicking off the Class 5A state football semifinals. On the south side, the stage is being set for a more visceral competition. It's trivia night - firefighter style.

In the Springfield area, trivia nights are fast becoming a popular alternative to going to the movies or bars on a Saturday night. They’re also popular fundraisers for the schools and organizations that host the events. From fall through spring, a trivia night can be found almost every weekend. Tonight, the action is at the Firefighters Lake Club.

The rest of the article is a gripping, real-time account of the event. I hope in at least some small way, it helped to keep people warm.


Although it pales in comparison to the smoking ban, the proposed ordinance requiring filling stations to adopt a pay first policy is generating some debate locally.

When analyzing issues such as this, I tend to downplay such aspects as constitutionality, business owner’s rights, and the public good, and instead determine its relative merit based on how it will affect me personally. It won’t, so go ahead and pass the ordinance. What do I care.

I pay exclusively at the pump through the magic of the debit card. I don’t drink coffee or 67oz. Mountain Dews so I seldom venture into the convenience store, save for the occasional emergency gallon of milk or six pack. And I never drive off without paying. Since this ordinance will not hamper my fueling habits in any way, it’s beyond me why anyone would oppose it. I love democracy.


Jeff at the Occasional Potato has a feature called Cool Band Names where he post a list of fictional band names. (I’m pretty sure he thinks them up all by himself.) Anyway, there’s always some good ones and I thought it might be fun to provide brief fictional bios to some of the bands. So I did, and it was. You should try it.

7 comments:

Aakash said...

The Heartland section of the State Journal-Register has been an enlightening (for lack of a better term :-) feature for years... I still have the SJ-R mug that my brother and I won, from their contest.

I remember Mr. Nuding used one of their puzzles (this was during my freshman year of high school) as an extra credit opportunity. I was sick or something the day it was due, and I knew I couldn't turn it in late, because the answer would've already been published. So we placed it in his mailbox, in the main office, and that worked.

I think that under the law, you are allowed to own and republish original articles (that you wrote), like on the web and the Blogosphere.

I have never participated in a "Trivia Night" event... But I sat through one, when it was held on campus. (They were laughing that someone came just to watch...)

Is it one organization that overseas the series of "Trivia Night" events, each year? (I remember seeing a schedule, of how it was held, at different locations, throughout Springfield, from week to week... or perhaps it was month to month.)

Anonymous said...

In a "fighting crime" sense I can see the worth of the pay first ordinance. I too rarely go into a gas station, as waiting behind 3 dirtbags buying cigarettes and lottery tickets is way too much for me when all I want to do is pay for my gas. However, one letter to the editor swayed my views when they described how the businesses rely on gas purchasers actually coming into the store and buying other items and that this ordinance may reduce the traffic.

Here is a case where there may be a financial hardship imposed on business owners due to an ordinance. And unlike the smoking ban no one is suffering physically from the ill effects of gas drive-offs. This is strictly a financial issue, and that is when I think the Council needs to show some restraint.

I think there can be a compromise in which the pay first policy applies during the time periods in which drive-offs occur the most.

nancy said...

I find it funny that you hear people complain when gas prices go up and advocate against purchasing anything extra as a form of retaliation, yet when faced with being inconvenienced en route to buying those extras, people are mad about that too. Whatev. I have a hang up about buying anything perishable at a gas station, so debit cards work just fine for me.

Wouldn't it be funny if The Curve Inn and Barrel Head put gas stations on their properties and touted their out-of-the-reach-of-the-city-council status to allow consumers the right to pay for their gas AFTER filling up at the pump, which is of course, what our soldiers are fighting for in Iraq.

Russ said...

I thought the Heartland article was brilliant, insightful, and a thought provoking look at the competitive nature of Americans in a pop-culture driven society.

In New Jersey and Oregon it's illegal to pump your own gas.

How's that for trivia?

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Aakash,

Trivia nights are sponsored independently by the schools and orgnanizations that host them. There is a Web site, springfieldtrivia.com, that serves as a common area where groups can promote their events. It also let’s them avoid conflicts when two trivia nights are scheduled for the same date, which would hurt attendance.

You should play sometime, they're a lot of fun.

Anon,

I agree that an ordinance probably isn’t warranted at this time, although it wouldn’t bother me if it came to pass. From what I read about other cities that have pre-pay requirements, the action was driven by the police who were spending an inordinate amount of time handling drive-off calls from gas stations. Maybe one of you commenters know if this is a big problem for the SPD, or if it’s just an alderman overreacting.

Nancy,

Along with being a paradise for smokers and post-pay gas pumpers, the Jerome and Southern View visitor’s bureaus could also promote their communities as a safe haven for pigeon ladies after the bird whisperer drives all of their beloved birds out of the city limits.

Russ,

You’re too kind.

I would have gotten half of that trivia question correct. I stopped to refuel on the Jersey Turnpike several years ago at what has to be the largest gas station in the world. I wasn’t sure of the protocol for tipping the attendant, so I didn’t.

Thanks for commenting,
Dan

Kent McCord said...

Dan,

"Gas drive-off's" as the police call them, are a real pain in the ass for the SPD. However, rarely does it affect the officer on the street.

Typically a gasoline theft report is handled by a civilian or officer who works the front desk at the PD. Rarely is there enough information to catch the offenders as the clerks at the various gas stations only catch part or none of the registration plate. Even if a registration plate is obtained it is still very difficult to have a positive outcome.

What might be a viable option for both sides of this debate is that the gas stations police themselves in regard to how far they want to go to deter theft. However, they should not call and make a report unless there is enough information to allow for a proper follow-up investigation. What good does it do the taxpayer to have clerks calling the PD reporting that a black male in a red car stole $10.00 worth of gas 15 minutes ago? I see none. Do you?

I hope this helps.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Thanks Kent, but I think you need to go watch last week's episode of The Office. The suspect was a white woman. Surprised?

Thanks for commenting,
Dan