Lego trafficking? Seriously?

When I saw a news story headline “Seattle police bust lucrative Lego trafficking scheme”, I assumed that ‘Lego’ was either an acronym or the street name for some new illegal drug or something else. So imagine my surprise when it turns out to be actually about the familiar children’s toy.

Police in Seattle went undercover to break open what they said was a trafficking ring involving the sale of expensive stolen goods: Lego, taken from an Amazon store.

Saying they had seized 171 sets, police released a picture showing the boxes stacked together.

According to one expert, Lego theft and trafficking has become a major concern.

RJ Coughlin, a director at Brickcon, a convention for adult Lego enthusiasts, told Fox 13 Seattle Lego theft was “very, very prominent here in the north-west”, in part because sets can fetch $800.

“You could go to Fred Meyer and Walmart in many parts of the city, in the outlying areas, and you’ll actually see Lego sets are locked up,” Coughlin said.

“You will see shelves that are pretty much empty, and if you talk to the employees they will tell you someone literally came that morning, loaded up the cart full of Lego and just walked right out [of] there.”

This summer, the Amazon 4-Star, a store in downtown Seattle run by the online retail giant, said it was the target of a repeat shoplifter who stole electronics and Lego sets worth more than $10,000.

I just don’t get it. But then again, there are a lot of things I just don’t get.

I hate this time of year

It starts with October being the month of Halloween.

The whole month we have increasing promotions of horror-themed films and products. Since I am not a fan of the horror and blood-and-gore genres, this leaves me cold but it is hard to avoid. I am also not a fan of dressing up in costumes, unless you are a child.

And then there is the deluge of pumpkin-flavored food products. I do not like pumpkin at the best of times and never eat it. The thought of pumpkin-flavored coffee and other edibles turns me off.

I’ll just have to suck it up and wait until the month is over.

But then we will enter the month of November which kicks off the Christmas shopping frenzy.

I should make it clear that I have no objections to these holidays themselves. What I find nauseating is the media seizing on them to generate saturation coverage, using the same trite techniques and cliches.

Wake me when it is January.

What is in the infrastructure bill

If you have been following the dreary ‘debate’ in the US congress about the infrastructure bill that progressive Democrats want to pass and Republicans and right-wing Democrats want to block, what is usually mentioned is the total figure of $3.5 trillion, though the fact that it is spread over ten years and thus much less scary is rarely spoken about.

Mehdi Hasan is fed up that people are not being told what is actually being proposed and he explains it in 60 seconds

Homicidal squirrel

I blogged recently about rats that have appeared in toilets in the UK. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there is this video of a squirrel that launched what looked like an entirely unprovoked attack on a man who was working in his garage. (Warning: When attacked, the man utters a homophobic slur.)

Are we witnessing the beginning of some kind of concerted effort by the rodent population to terrorize humans?

That was quick

My jury service ended very quickly. We were asked to report to the jury room at 8:15 am. The room was full with about 70 people, with others seated on long benches in the hallway outside. We were given forms that we had to fill in saying that if we had been fully vaccinated, then masks were optional but if we were not or did not wish to disclose our vaccination status, we had to wear masks. But no one asked to see our vaccination cards. Almost all the people were masked. I could see only five people without one.

Compared to the jury waiting room in Cleveland, this was less well-appointed, perhaps because Salinas is a smaller city. The Cleveland room was very large, with comfortable chairs, tables, and racks of magazines and even jigsaw puzzles for people to pass the time while waiting. The best part of it was that inside that room there was a smaller room that was called the Quiet Room with no talking. I would usually sit in there. The building also had a cafeteria.

The room in Salinas was smaller with straight-backed chairs spaced apart, all facing forward.. They said that it used to have 200 such chairs close together but that covid precautions had reduced it to just one third the number.

At 8:30 am, the presiding judge came and gave us a little talk for about 10 minutes about how important we were to the legal system because everyone is entitled to have their case heard by a jury of their peers.

At 9:15 am, the administrator told us that the parties had settled their case and that therefor we were dismissed and our service completed. I was surprised that there was only one jury trial scheduled since there are many courtrooms in the building but perhaps most people prefer a bench trial to a jury.

I was home before 10:00 am.

Called for jury duty

It looks like I been truly accepted as a Californian. I have been called for jury duty for a week starting tomorrow. The system is a one-day or one trial one which means that I report on Monday and if I am not empaneled on a jury that same day, then I am done. If I am placed on a jury, then I am required for the whole trial which they tell me usually lasts for three or four days. However, if it turns out to be a rare complicated case, then I could be on a panel for weeks.

So basically, I am saying that blogging will be light starting tomorrow until my jury service is done. If there is good wifi in the courthouse building and I am just sitting around waiting to be called, I may be able to blog.

Please don’t try this

There is dramatic video of a Florida man who encountered an alligator that had wandered onto his front yard and managed to force it into a trash can, close the lid, and later release it into the wild. A wildlife expert who watched the video said that this was a very bad idea that could have gone terribly wrong in any number of ways with tragic results. He said the best thing to do is get the hell out of there and into your house and call the authorities to take care of the problem.

There are so many news stories and videos of people in Florida encountering alligators that I am beginning to wonder if people who actually live in that state take it in their stride when they see one in their neighborhood, like us with turkeys here in Monterey, giving them a wide berth but not really shocked.

A sign of the apocalypse

As if the pandemic had not already given us enough to worry about, we now have rats coming up through toilets via the waste pipes. This is apparently because, due to the pandemic, there is less rubbish around to provide them with food so they are going farther afield in search of it. This is apparently being reported all over the UK but they will surely come here too.

Forget the Four Horsemen. This is far more terrifying.

What kind of marketing strategy is this?

I noticed that used copies of my latest book The Great Paradox of Science are available on eBay at about $10 higher than the list price set by the publisher and about $15 higher that the discounted price set by major retailers.

Since my book is readily available, why would anyone try to sell a used copy at a higher price than a new one?

I have never used eBay. Is there some weird marketing strategy that people use on that platform that I am unaware of?