Beware of the infomercial purchase

More random summer thoughts (aren?t they the best kind?)….

n I bought a pair of those Topsy Turvy tomato growers for my backyard. I saw the ad on TV early last spring, and I took the plunge.

Understand, I seldom buy anything from an infomercial, and now I realize why. I was enticed to purchase not one, but two, tomato-growing systems for one low price.

The problem? For the second ?free? planter, I was only required to pay shipping and handling charges. As it turns out, my two systems cost me more than $30. I could have purchased them for $9.99 each at local stores.

For those who haven?t seen them around town, the Topsy Turvy planters are cylinders that you fill with potting soil and stick the tomato plant in the bottom. You then hang the plants from a friendly tree or from your porch. The idea is that a would-be gardener will not have to weed the plants. I like that part.

So far, the cherry tomatoes are looking good, but the plant that is supposed to yield the larger tomatoes has yet to even bloom.

n I saw an ad for the movie ?Drag Me to Hell.? I thought it must be about a man being forced to go shopping at Wal-Mart.

Actually, I don?t mind shopping so much if I can just go into the store and pick up what I want and get out. It?s all that standing around and looking at the same stuff that we looked at last time that gets to me.

n The NBA, or National Basketball Association, should call itself the IBA for Interna?tional Basketball Association. Have you seen and tried to pronounce the names of players lately? Where did all these guys come from, and where did they play college ball? I?ve never heard of most of them.

n If you still don?t believe lightning is dangerous, I refer you to what happened in Califor?nia last Wednesday. Eight people were struck in a single day as a storm electrified the earth with at least one recorded strike per minute for several hours in the San Bernardino Valley. Two people died and seven others were injured.

n Speaking of injuries, or the potential for them, I would like to roll out my annual reminder that bicycle riders are people, too. And, they are out in larger numbers than ever this year.

Remember as you come upon cyclists that by Kansas law they have the right to ride two abreast, the right to dodge objects in the road (potholes, possums and parts of pickups) and the right to use any and every highway and byway you might be frequenting.

Not only will hitting a bicycle rider ruin your grill, it will probably ruin his or her and your day and likely will result in your getting the citation for careless or inattentive driving.

Yes, I am on occasion one of those cyclists you will meet on the road. And, many Marion Countians might be surprised to learn that a pack of riders leaves Hillsboro nearly every Saturday morning. Some are veteran riders, but some are much younger and just learning how to handle their bikes.

But, cyclists are, as a rule, a very friendly bunch of people. We try to make the road safer for everybody. A couple of weeks ago, I was out on a solo ride south of town when I spotted a young deer heading for Indigo Road. I tried to convey the hazard to the driver coming at me by pointing to the buck, but she just stared at me.

The deer missed the rear fender of her car by about a foot. I don?t think she ever saw it. She was likely more concerned by the crazy cyclist waving his arms and pointing into the wheat field.

n One reason there are more people out on two wheels is the recent spike in gas prices. Can anyone explain why this is happening? There are plentiful supplies, and the recession is not allowing national driving mileage to increase significantly.

Is there anyone out there who still doesn?t believe the prices are all speculative and basically fixed?

n The thought occurred to me the other day that some of the people who are opposed to wind generators going up around the country might be right. If we are not careful, we could see the panoramic vistas of Kansas spoiled by tall, electrically charged poles standing in line after line along our highways and rural roads.

What would our great-grandparents think? Oh, wait. There is historical precedence for cluttering up the landscape. We call them power poles. I doubt too many farmers and ranchers cried foul when they went up in the 1930s.

The most surprising fact may be that this is still the method of choice for transporting electricity around the countryside.

Aside from the ascetic effect, imagine how many hours and repair costs could have been saved over the past few winters if the lines had been buried and protected from ice storms.

n A pharmacist recently became for talk radio hosts a bit of a symbol of what is wrong with American justice when he was charged with murder for killing a young man who was in the act of allegedly robbing the drugstore.

Few would argue the fact that he wounded the kid in self-defense. But, after shooting the perpetrator, the pharmacist pulled out a second gun and shot the robber five more times as he lay dying on the floor.

I agree. This does illustrate what is wrong with America.

n I have been listening with interest to the rhetoric surrounding the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. She apparently had the audacity to claim in several speeches that a Latino woman might have a larger variety of experiences leading to more insight into the problems faced by minorities in our country than an elderly white man might.

Aside from the fact that she grew up poor and a woman and faced prejudice most of her life, I suppose her critics have a valid point. Soon, elderly white men will be the minority. But, then again, they may want a judge like Sotomayor to protect their rights with her experiential insight.