Jim King 2017

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I was going to headline this column “short shrift,” but that seemed a little dismissive and pretty much begged for me to dredge up 3 or 4 items to comment on instead of the 2 that landed in my lap this week.

And since I’m all about economy of effort — which at least one person dear to me reckons is a self-indulgent way of saying I’m lazy — I chose to rewrite the headline than put more effort into finding things to wonder about.

So without further ado, since the ado delivered is probably already too much …

The Christmas Rush

One of my delights on a Sunday morning if I’m in the car is to tune into satellite radio’s Enlighten channel, which plays the great hymns of Christianity all Sunday morning.

Imagine my surprise hearing Michael Buble — decidedly not a Southern Gospel artist — crooning “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and the designation on the dashboard screen saying I was listening to the Holly channel, not Enlighten.

It turns out that SiriusXM decided to flip the seasonal switch on Nov. 1 for a handful of channels. As my colleague Kitty Savage points out in her column “The Savage Life” on page 4C, that’s even before the jack-o-lanterns have lost their faces from decay.

Only she says it better. Just turn the page and read her, then come back here.

Sirius XM’s decision dovetailed nicely with Kohl’s, every 30-something mom’s favorite department store, to promote the bejeebers out of Nov. 1 as the new Black Friday, which used to be the Friday after Thanksgiving, not the one nearly 4 weeks before.

At the rate everybody is speeding up the season, I reckon Thanksgiving must be this Thursday (or we could just punt it back to the 3rd Monday in October like our Canadian friends do) and Christmas will come before the 1st shots are fired at the start of buck season.

The main upside I see is that winter should be over by about Dec. 10 and the redbuds will be in bloom around New Year’s.

Phone scams keep coming

No, I’m not saying this “Christmas Now” business is a scam, but the season does lend itself to a reminder to be wary.

A reader called in last week to note that he had just answered a phone call claiming to be from the Social Security Administration saying that his Social Security number and payments were being suspended, asking for his personal identification to reinstate the account.

“Just because I’m older doesn’t mean I’m stupid,” he half-grumbled, half-crowed to me, noting that he hung up on the caller. Then, just to be sure, he double-checked with the (somewhat) local Social Security office in Petersburg.

On the same day he had about a dozen calls on the caller ID, all from the same number. He assumes they were follow-ups of one he picked up — and hung up — saying his Apple account had been locked.

Which would be quite the feat, considering he doesn’t own any Apple products.

For the 65-plus crowd, this is the time of open enrollment for Medicare. Amid all the legitimate (and sometimes heavy-handed) attempts to woo your business, there will be absolute snakes-in-the-grass trying to pry your personal information away too.

My best advice: If you like the provider you’re with for supplemental or advantage plans, then don’t do anything other than throw away the solicitations.

If you’re looking at whether you can find another provider, don’t let someone scare you into changing and don’t let someone bedazzle you with promises of huge savings. Remember: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

For the under-65 crowd that doesn’t have health insurance provided by an employer, it’s open enrollment to buy a policy for 2020. The same advice applies.

Our attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, says he is plugging away at the epidemic of robocalls and scams. (If you’re a faithful reader of this column, you might remember that I took him to task a couple of times early this year about the plague.)

In May he “joined a broad coalition” urging the FCC to take action against robocalls and caller-ID spoofing, which is when what appears to be a legitimate (usually local) number shows up, but it’s a scammer talking.

Then in August, he announced that 51 attorneys general and 12 phone companies had agreed on 8 principles for fighting the bad guys.

Gosh, urging and principle-identifying are great users of time. Too bad they haven’t actually stopped any calls or put anybody out of business.

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