Thursday, January 31, 2013

Very Impressed

I was reading the paper and came across this article about a local travel agent being sentenced to prison for stealing money from clients.  He would charge their credit cards twice - once to pay for their trip and the second time to give himself a 100% tip that he used to pay off other debts and expenses he had.  A quick search turned up another article from a few months ago on the trial itself.  I'm not sure how I missed it the first time.  Perhaps it was the picture with the story the second time around that caught my eye.

Let me throw out there right away that I don't understand how someone wouldn't notice they paid for a Hawaii trip twice.  Maybe he figured if he only did it people who were rich enough and careless enough they wouldn't notice.  Perhaps he figured if he did it randomly and for the same amount as the original charge, he could play it off as a mistake if caught.  Maybe if people are making down payments and then several follow-up payments, they don't notice that too many smaller payments were made over a period of time.

Last summer, as part of my ongoing college courses series, I had written about the marketing class in my undergraduate program.  Although I remember who most of the instructors of my classes were, I haven't used their names in any of them, even when I've had nice things to say about them.  I had to go back and look at what I had written about my marketing class.  I actually hadn't remembered his name previously, but when I saw the picture and the name together in the paper, I knew he was the travel agent.

So how was my experience with him teaching my class compared to his double charged clients?  You can go back and read the original post, but let's say that my experience wasn't all that different.  Like his clients, I got what I paid for - they got a trip to Hawaii, and I got credit for taking a marketing class.  Somewhat similar to his clients, I lost something of equal value - in their cases, they paid twice for one trip, and in my case, I didn't actually get the marketing class that he was paid to teach us and that I got credit for.

The best piece of marketing he tried to get away with was his restitution offer that you can see in the first link above.  He offered to pay restitution of $100,000 that he had stashed somewhere and claimed that a mystery man was willing to lend him the remaining $30,000 on the condition that he not go to prison, since that would likely reduce his ability to make enough money to pay the mystery man back.

Oh.  Okay.  A mystery man doesn't want you to go to prison, and if you do end up in prison, the people who you stole the money from won't get restitution.  That's pretty clever.  It doesn't even matter whether or not the mystery man is real.  I wonder if it was the marketer or the lawyer who thought up that trick.

The judge's comment was an instant classic, "the parole board will be very impressed if restitution is paid."

Friday, January 4, 2013

Famous Deaths 2012

Everyone is in such a hurry to talk about the best/most/biggest/worst/etc. of the year that lists start coming out as early as November.  I think we should save those lists until January, so anything that happens in the end of December will still count.  I still remember hearing on the radio on Christmas day that Billy Martin died in a car accident, over 20 years ago, but how unfair is that to leave him off a list because it's near the end of the year?  I had my list ready a week ago, and sure enough, Norman Schwarzkopf died, and he shouldn't have been left off the list.

A few of these are pretty obvious, but some might need some explanation.  I left off some famous deaths because I didn't have much of a connection to them, like Harry Carey - he was in two great movies, Gremlins and Back to the Future, but I didn't really remember his characters even after looking them up.  When Polly Holliday, who played Mrs. Deagle, dies, she'll be in the list for sure.

The zombie actor is there, not so much because of his role specifically or anything about the movie itself, although it is the granddaddy of all zombie movies.  Actually, it is likely that we even have the zombie industry fascination that we do have because of the copyright status of this movie.  That is, it doesn't have one.  Before the U.S. adopted the Berne Convention, you had to claim copyright to be granted copyright.  A last minute change to the title of the film and someone forgetting to put a copyright notice on the new title screen meant it was public domain, open for remixing, sharing, and a multitude of other uses, which increased its popularity.

Trayvon Martin stuck out to me because of his complete lack of being famous, yet his tragic death, which is still being investigated is what made him famous.  I didn't know or care that much about Vidal Sassoon, other than growing up knowing it was a shampoo, and it wasn't until he died that I realized it was a person.  What's worse?  Being famous for dying or for being a shampoo?

Joe Paterno - Penn State coach
Ian Abercrombie - Seinfeld actor Mr. Pitt
Bill Hinzman - first zombie in Night of the Living Dead
Whitney Houston - singer
Gary Carter - catcher (Go Mets!)
Trayvon Martin - teenager
Davy Jones - the Monkees
Mike Wallace - news correspondent
Dick Clark - TV host
Junior Seau - football player
Adam Yauch - rapper Beastie Boys
George Lindsey - actor Andy Griffith
Maurice Sendak - author
Vidal Sassoon - hair stylist
Robin Gibb - singer Bee Gees
Ray Bradbury - sci fi author
Rodney King - LA riots
Andy Griffith - actor
Ernest Borgnine - actor
Stephen Covey - author
Sally Ride - astronaut
Mel Stuart - director Willy Wonka
Phyllis Diller - comedienne
Jerry Nelson - muppetteer
Neil Armstrong - astronaut
Michael Clarke Duncan - actor
Gary Collins - actor
Arlen Specter - politician
Zig Ziglar - author
Rick Majerus - coach
Jack Klugman - actor
Norman Schwarzkopf - general