Posted on

Help wanted: get new skills for a new job

Tucson’s thousands of unemployed have a chance to nab summer training for their dream job.

Every little girl and boy longs to don a tutu while perching atop an elephant. Well, maybe the boys would rather not wear the tutu. In either case, the dream can come true with circus training right here in town.

Tucson Circus Arts
is offering classes for the masses, which may just fill the void for some of the thousands who are unemployed. This training was brought to my attention, in fact, by former TC staffer and amazing journalist Renee Schafer Horton.

Join the Circus, Renee Schafer Horton
Any registration for a class that includes the question “Will you be renting stilts?” has my vote for coolest summer class anywhere.

I just finished an Employability Skills Workshop offered for “dislocated workers” (the PC term for the unemployed) and during it, we were asked to think about our “skills.” My main skills – curiosity, risk-taking, tenacity, pretty high lie-radar – qualify me to be a good reporter (the job I just got laid off from) or …. a spy.

Circus work offers many benefits over the humdrum 9 to 5:

• Your desk is a circus tent

• Free nationwide travel

• A steady diet of corn dogs and cotton candy

• If you’re trained properly in acrobatics, trapeezery or ringmaster-dom you won’t get stuck with the dirty work, like sweeping up elephant dung

• You can probably wear what you want, as long as it involves sequins

Did you ever want to join the circus? A cult? The army?

Tucson act Dance of Illusion would thrive in a circus setting/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Tucson act Dance of Illusion would thrive in a circus setting/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Posted on

Facebook for monks

If the usual social networking sites are leaving you spiritually lacking, all you need to do is pay a visit to one set up by monks at DunceBook.god, according to a post at by George Held at

No, the name does not refer to people forced to sit in the corner with pointy hats, but rather Duns Scotus, a prominent theologian of the Middle Ages.

Monks Offer New Site for Social Networking,

Lexington, KY (INS), June 6. Trappist monks at their Kentucky monastery have announced DunceBook, a new alternative to Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Living under the Rule of St. Benedict, Trappists must earn their keep and some monasteries make bread, jam, or beer.

As the Reverend Albinus Cassock, abbot of Golgotha Monastery, explained, “In the current digital age, our brothers have turned to high tech for our living: We offer an ecumenical site for all dunces who need another place to tell likeminded folk about their daily ablutions, passing of wind, and eliminations.” A modest fee will help to keep the site on the Internet and offer users a link to the Divine through social networking, “a sort of online miracle,” as the abbot put it.

(For the record, I tried to visit the DunceBook and it shuttled me into MySpace where I didn’t have to pursue it further at the moment.)

DunceBook adds to the number of theme or niche-oriented social networking sites, and we could always use more. We already have several for Tucson networking for dates or for business, but are sorely lacking in some specific groups, like networking sites for kite makers, ambulance drivers and serial killers.

What niche social networking site would you love to see?

Posted on

Ryn: Beware of wailing baby and other Tucson scams


Illustration by Ryn Gargulinski

Never answer your door to a wailing baby.

While the obvious reason is to shield yourself from a headache, diaper change, spittle and all other fun stuff wailing babies are known to offer, it’s also to protect yourself from a scam.

One legendary ploy tells of folks who hear a wailing baby or pitifully mewling kitten right outside their door.

Being kindhearted, these folks open the door to rescue the poor waif.

They are then immediately bashed in the head with a two-by-four and left bleeding on the porch steps while the people who played the tape recording of the wailing baby or mewling kitting are free to rob the house.

While no screaming baby came to my door of late, I did have another visitor with a game that smelled as bad as the soiled baby diaper.

My first mistake was breaking one of my cardinal rules: I answered the door.

Unless you’re expecting someone, people at the door are usually nosy neighbors, bill collectors or long lost friends you wish would stay long lost.

The dude at the door said he was from an alarm company and wanted to put one of those little alarm security signs in my front yard.

In exchange for the free advertising, the company would install the system for free, a $1,200 value, said he.

He had neither a business card nor brochure to leave. He wanted an answer right then and there or he’d offer it to someone else.

He also name-dropped a neighbor who he claimed was fully delighted to go with the deal and wanted to check to make sure my home had the same layout as hers.

At this point he started pushing his way into my house.

At this point I told him to go fly a kite. I also got his name and cell phone number on a scrap of paper then swiftly called the alarm company.

Well, it took about a week to call the alarm company. I had to first ruminate about what a close call I had since the guy was surely a rapist, robber and throat-slasher disguised as an alarm man.

No, the alarm company said when I finally called, we don’t usually employ rapists, robbers and throat-slashers. Yes, we are running a similar-sounding special in your area.

The rep also said their employees should have corporate ID numbers that you can check on the company’s Web site.

It was unusual he didn’t have brochures but not that he didn’t have business cards.

“We’re trying to go green,” the rep said.

As for trying to shove his way into my house? He could have simply been a crappy salesman.

Another possible Tucson scam is the dude posing as the moving man.

A guy comes to the door with a dolly and other moving equipment. When you answer, he claims he has the wrong house. If you don’t, he promptly breaks in and takes everything you own.

Since he’s already armed with those big blankets that insure your tabletops won’t get scratched, hauling out all your belongings is no great feat.

Neighbors probably wouldn’t even blink in these days of foreclosures and repossessed belongings.

Scammers especially like to prey on single women, seniors and others who they think are vulnerable.

One senior in Indiana was left with a busted-up front porch when a scammer posed as a home improvement specialist, according to Senior Magazine Online. She scammer took a sledgehammer to the porch, took money from the senior to go get more supplies, and then never came back.

Another Indiana senior, who was unable to get outside to supervise the work, paid to have new asphalt installed on the driveway. After taking the cash, the scammer coated the top of the old driveway with motor oil to make it look black.

Have a nice day.

Your day will be even nicer if you’re always on guard, always ask for ID or a license number for professions that should be licensed and never hand over cash.

It would be nicer still if you followed my rule and simply didn’t answer the door.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist and performer who is going to keep with her belief of never answering the door. Her column appears every Friday at Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at E-mail

Gallery of Tucson scams, archives:

Posted on

Ants swarm Tucson coffee shop

Only one local coffee shop could get away with being besieged by ants, monkeys, strange dogs, elephants and neon green paint that looks like blood dripping down the doorway.

That one is Epic Cafe, 745 N. Fourth Ave., corner of East University Boulevard.

Even if I weren’t June’s featured artist (full disclosure), I dig the place for its groovy vibe and even groovier artwork on display.

Shop owner Two Feathers (yes, his real name) features a local artist each month inside the shop and continues to be amazed by the artwork that pops up on the exterior walls.

“It just shows up there,” he said, wanting to usher me outside to take a gander at the bloody neon paint and the depiction of a kid reading a book to an elephant. Two Feathers leaves the creations he likes.

Epic is definitely a hot spot for its couches, community, cakes and kookiness.

Oh yes, it also serves some dang good coffee.

What’s your favorite Tucson coffee shop and why?

Do you favor flavor over ambiance or vice versa?

(Dunkin Donuts has THE best French vanilla coffee, but I don’t really dig hanging out there.)

Epic ants/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Epic ants/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Epic owner Two Feathers/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Epic owner Two Feathers/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Epic exterior door/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Epic exterior door/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Bloody neon/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Bloody neon/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Epic elephant/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Epic elephant/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
My monkey that's now at Epic/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
My monkey that's now at Epic/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
My dog that's now at Epic/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
My dog that's now at Epic/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
My jerk that's now at Epic/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
My jerk that's now at Epic/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Posted on

Grand Canyon: Beauty or a beast?

Anyone who has been to the Grand Canyon – or even seen photos of it – knows what an awesome and intriguing wonder it is.

But it can also be a “terrible beauty, ” to coin a phrase used by poet William Butler Yeats.

Even folks using common sense can fall prey to the sheer drops, unrelenting conditions and potential death that lurks just beyond every rock.

Please note: this is not to scare people from taking in the grandness of the Canyon, just a reminder in any hiking situation to watch your step, travel in pairs and steer very clear of the edge.

Two incidents this week, one fall and one death, illustrate the dangers:

NPS Photo by Shannon Miller
NPS Photo by Shannon Miller

Woman Rescued After Fall at Grand Canyon National Park, National Park Service news release
Grand Canyon, Ariz. – Late Thursday afternoon, park rangers rescued a 38-year-old woman who had fallen approximately 50 feet near a popular view point in Grand Canyon National Park.
At about 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 4, the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received two separate 9-1-1 calls from park visitors who reported seeing a woman slip and fall over the edge at Mather Point.
Upon arriving at the scene, park rangers found the woman about three-quarters of a mile west of Mather Point. She was approximately 50 feet below the rim.
Rescue personnel rappelled down to the woman and secured her so that they could assess her injuries. Once she was stable enough to move, the woman was packaged in a litter, and park staff used a rope haul system to pull her up to the rim.  She was back on the rim by 6:30 p.m.
The woman was transported by Classic Lifeguard Aeromedical Service to the Flagstaff Medical Center where she is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Body of Missing Hiker Found in Grand Canyon National Park, National Park Service news release
Grand Canyon, Ariz. – A body, presumptively identified as 69-year-old Robert (Bob) A. Williams, was found June 1 by park search and rescue personnel in the Hermit Basin area of Grand Canyon National Park.
On May 26, park rangers received a report that Williams was overdue from his Memorial Day weekend plans which had included hiking in Grand Canyon National Park.
On May 27, after finding Williams’ vehicle on the South Rim, park rangers began searching a broad area-from Hermit Basin to the South Kaibab area-that could easily be accessed on foot or via shuttle from the point where Williams’ vehicle was found.
On May 29, park rangers were able to narrow their search to the Hermit Basin area based on information received after issuing a public request for assistance to anyone who had hiked in the park’s backcountry during the Memorial Day weekend.
On Monday, June 1, search personnel were once again in the Hermit Basin, using a spotting scope to check difficult to access scree slopes and cliff areas. Based on information received from the spotters, search crews investigated an area _ mile south of Santa Maria springs. At approximately 10 a.m., searchers found Williams’ body located approximately 200 feet below the Hermit Trail.
The remains were transported by helicopter to the South Rim helibase where they were transferred to the Coconino County Medical Examiner.

My only Grand Canyon experience was when I was about 2 and my mom tells me all I did was try to get candy from the vending machines.

One of my friend’s dogs went leaping over a sheer cliff, landing dozens of feet below. The dog survived but always acted kind of strange, like it had brain damage, after that one.

Have you ever had a hiking tragedy, in the Grand Canyon or elsewhere?

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?