Gray Flannel Dwarf

12/5/2005

NC DMV

5-December-2005

Dear Governor Easley:

I am writing you this letter to bring to your attention to a quality control issue about which you may not be aware, concerning the North Carolina Department of Transportation, specifically the Division of Motor Vehicles.

I am a relatively new resident to the state of North Carolina; I moved to Apex in February of 2005. As expected, I went to the DMV to turn in my old Virginia driver’s license, take the written test, and obtain my new North Carolina license. I received this on February 17th, 2005.

Unfortunately, less than a year later, the license has faded beyond recognition. Anyone looking at this license would be wholly unable to discern that it is me in the photo and my license number has faded to near-illegibility. This, however, is by no means any fault of mine. Rather, it is a quality control issue that occurred at some point during the time I got my license. When going through security at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), the guards have remarked that they have seen this a lot, where newer North Carolina licenses have quickly degraded beyond recognition, so obviously the issue I am facing is not a one-time thing.

Indeed, I travel a great deal on business – it has been every week, Monday-Friday since mid-March – and need to show my license when passing through security at RDU and others around the country. Today I was challenged regarding my ID. This has now happened a few times during my travels, but this is the first time it has occurred at RDU. Upon this event, I decided it was finally time to call the DMV and obtain a replacement license.

I spoke with a polite woman named Melanie at the DMV call center and explained the situation to her, asking if I would have to pay the required $10 DMV fee to get a replacement. After speaking with her supervisor, she responded stating that despite the quality defects, I would nonetheless be responsible in paying for a replacement, and that I would have to bring it in to show an examiner before a replacement would be made.

Obviously, you might understand the issue at hand here:
• I do not feel that I, or anyone in my situation, should be subject to a $10 replacement driver’s license replacement fee when this is a readily-known DMV quality control issue for license production;
• Furthermore, I should not have to take time out of my extremely busy travel schedule, to “prove” to the DMV that my license has seen this degree of degradation, in order to get a replacement;
• Finally, as the DMV refuses to supply to me at no cost a valid replacement for my poorly manufactured license, I am riskily put in the position of liability when my state-issued ID fails to identify me, be this at an airport or by an officer of the law in the state of North Carolina.

I anticipate that I have made clear the issues that I, and others, am facing with regards to the North Carolina DMV, and trust that you will take this issue into consideration. Thank you very much for your time, and I wish you and your family the best during the upcoming holiday season.

Regards,

Courtenay S Welton, III

cc: Division of Motor Vehicles


Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 2:39 pm

12/1/2005

George vs. George

Someone on DKos pondered what it would be like if George Washington met George W. Bush. Most of the comments were obvious, GW would lay the smack down on GWB, would criticise him, etc.

Here’s what I think.

You know how people say that if Jesus came back today, he’d be arrested?

Well, if George Washington came back and met Dubya…

* He’d have his phone wiretapped under Patriot Act provisions for being a person exhibiting anti-authoritarian behaviour, as exhibited by his actions in the Revolutionary war.

* He would, in fact, have his military record and heroics smeared. Pictures of him crossing the Delaware river would be questioned as exaggerations.

* He would be criticised as a maverick and would be considered generally unfit for association with those in the White House, ironically due to his non-partisan leanings.

* His ‘family values’ would’ve been called into question. “‘Father of our Country’ indeed, Mr. Washington!”

* He would be attacked as unpatriotic and on the wrong side of “if you’re not for us, you’re against us” due to his opinions on ‘entangling alliances’

* He would be lambasted about being a Deist.

* Finally, after everything was said and done, he would arouse suspicions for his use of hemp, and would eventually be arrested for marijuana possession.


cswiii @ 12:57 pm

11/3/2005

Photo thieves.

I knew it would happen eventually… a simple request would’ve likely sufficed.

Ironically enough, they sell their stuff at DC area farmers’ markets.

Hello,

I encountered your website today and noticed that you have used a photo of mine — resized but nonetheless the same picture and same filename — on the site without my permission.

The page and image in question:

http://www.redbudorganicfarm.com/african.aspx

http://www.redbudorganicfarm.com/images/ripe-habaneros-800×600.jpg

The original location of said photo:

http://wiw.org/~corey/visions/

Please note the copyright notice on the aforementioned page:

“All images contained herein are contained under copyrights owned by me. Permission may be granted to use them, in some circumstances, pending my approval. ”

While it is not normally a great concern to me whether or not these pictures are used by others, I have never received a request, nor granted permission to you for the use of this copyrighted content, and this is of greater concern to me on general principle.

Please consider removing the photo or arrange to pay me royalties on its use, lest other arrangements not excluding legal remedies be sought.

Thanks,

Corey Welton.


cswiii @ 2:49 pm

8/4/2005

Assuming the mantle: Fiscal Responsibility

Fiscal conservatism is dead…at least from a partisan perspective, anyway. I’ve been saying it for a long time, and it’s good to see the media beginning to cover this notion. Per MSNBC/WaPo, “GOP lawmakers embrace their spending side

From the article:

“If you look at fiscal conservativism these days, it’s in a sorry state,” said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), one of only eight House members to vote against the $286.5 billion transportation bill that was passed the day before the recess. “Republicans don’t even pretend anymore.”

I’m also convinced that this is a serious opportunity for the Democrats, but not in a “swing voter” sort of way, so much as it is the opportunity to assume the mantle of fiscal responsibility. Democrats have long been viewed as the party of big government, and in the past that might have held some water. It’s different now.

These days, it’s just the opposite. While the current administration has been on a spending binge like none other, it didn’t start with GWB. Bush I and Reagan also had a love affair with federal monies, far outweighing Democrats over the past several decades.

So why not just assume the mantle? It’s the oldest trick in the GOP book — take a popular or controversial topic on peoples’ minds and proclaim themselves the saviour thereof. Why not borrow a page or two from them? It’s outright good strategy.

Think this is just an absurd idea? Consider this:

“There’s a rising level of frustration with the disconnect between where the vast majority of conservatives are in this country and how Congress is behaving,” said former representative Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), whose Club for Growth political action committee finances the campaigns of conservative candidates. “There’s going to be a wake-up call sooner or later.”

The tectonic plates of political parties are always shifting. During the civil rights era, a major political shift occured when many traditional southern democrats moved across party lines to the right, when they didn’t support the push for equal rights. During the 80s, Paul Weyrich and friends persuaded Jerry Falwell to mobilise his followers to march towards the right by promising a new religious revolution in America.

In these cases, and countless numbers of other smaller shifts, promises were made, common beliefs were held, but in reality, those groups were courted in an effort to increase the voter base. It may not sound like a pleasant way of doing things, but it is political reality.

Flake and Toomey’s statements in the quotes above are, I suspect, only stirrings amidst a larger undertow of discontent. I don’t doubt that there are a great deal of disaffected fiscal conservatives that can be added to the ranks of independents and political moderates who have grow weary — and wary — of the Right’s drunken pork-barrel frat parties.

What’s more, this can be done under the Democratic mantra of leveling the playing field. Consider this bit from the same article:

To fiscal conservatives, it is not just the total cost of the bills but also their content. At 1,752 pages, the highway bill is the most expensive public works legislation in U.S. history, complete with 6,376 earmarked projects, according to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. Kern County, Calif., home of powerful House Ways and Means Chairman Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R), snagged $722 million in projects, or nearly $1,000 per person. Los Angeles County, with clogged highways and 10 million people, will receive barely $60 per resident.

When something like this happens, they should be called out, and doubly rebuked, first for the excessive spending, but also for the unbalanced allocation of federal funds. In doing so, the opportunity is presented to welcome those who are fed up with the GOP’s massive spending while at the same time staying true to Democratic ideals.

The Democratic party simply needs to claim the mantle, but not by immediately criticising the Right. Doing this just inflames the rhetoric. Rather, the left needs to begin referring to itself as the “fiscally responsible party” and run with it.

The same thing can and should eventually be done with other supposedly-GOP traditions — personal freedoms, privacy, etc… because in reality, none of these are espoused by today’s neocon-run GOP. However, I believe that fiscal responsibility should be the first thing to which the Democrats should lay claim.

It’s like a big game of capture-the-flag, and in an effort to take over the playing field, the GOP has left their flag unprotected. It’s time to take it out from under their noses. For far too long the GOP has been able to simply take up the sword for some perceived common ideal, whereas the left has been perceived as the beacon for unorganised or loosely-organised political interests. However, having abandoned its base on many traditional, so-called “conservative” planks — and indeed, admirable ones, from the perspective of idealistic political populism — they’ve left the gate wide open.

Partisans have stuck with the GOP for two reasons, I’m guessing. One, because as I’ve said in the past, people want to be part of the “popular crowd”, and with the GOP in charge, who else could be moreso? However, I’m less convinced, anymore that this is the only reason — or at least, is the reason for only a certain subset of current Republicans. The other is the fact that they’ve simply been shown no real alternative. The GOP has abandoned the mantle espoused by traditional ideal-driven “conservatives”, but no one has taken advantage of this… and certainly not the Democratic Party. Already hesitant to change their ways in the first place — some of them are, after all, conservative — and having been shown no alternative, they’ve stayed where they are, despite being ever more disaffected.

People talk suspiciously about the results in the 2004 elections. They point to polls being rigged, and point out that exit polls had far different results. I don’t buy it. If that much of the electorate was gypped, I think we’d have seen far more angry voters, such as those in some Florida 2000 precincts. Rather, in my mind, the exit polls were so different precisely because people were embarrassed or ashamed to publicly voice support Bush, but hadn’t been reassured enough to privately vote against him. It is these voters who need assurance that the Democratic party espouses their traditionally-rooted beliefs.

Today’s Democratic leadership needs to espouse fiscal responsibility, needs to strive for it, and needs to call the Right out when they fail to deliver it. This is the only way to shift the political lines in the Democrats’ favour. This is not about a move to the centre, it’s about pulling the centre back into the fold. By staking claim to the traditional, populist American political ideals that the GOP once cherished but now abandons, the left can gain and retain a voting constituency. Furthermore, this can be done without alienating either the hard left or the ideals espoused by liberally-minded partisans.

These ideas are traditional common American values which were hijacked by the GOP, have since been abandoned, and it is the left, anymore, which truly espouses them. The left has not, however, been ardent in vocalising these claims, but if the Democratic Party truly wants to regain any sort of political bearing, it seems evident to me that it needs to begin doing so.


cswiii @ 10:01 am

4/30/2005

Rum Runners

I submitted the following five-cent review of Rum Runners in Raleigh, for Barstar.com. We’ll see if it gets posted.

You pay a premium when you visit Rum Runners — from the $5 cover charge, to the $4.50 plastic Solo cup of Guinness, and of course for the $2-5 request per song you’ll fork over to the pianist(s). However, the point of going to a place like Rum Runners is to have fun, and this is certainly a place to do it. It gets packed in the summertime, so if you’re afraid of a little sweat in your beer, this isn’t your place. But if you want to get together with a group of friends, sing classic songs with an added touch of humour, and watch the bawdy jokes made at the expense of birthday girls and brides-to-be, this is your place; overall, it’s a lot of fun.


cswiii @ 6:12 pm

4/2/2005

Loudoun Bridges Falling Down.

To Whom It May Concern:

Well, I must say I was somewhat surprised when I received a letter from the Jefferson Village HOA, informing me of a of community standards violation with regards to my yard. Specifically, the violation cited was:

[ x ] Remove realtor signs from front yard.

To this, I might make a separate recommendation to the Jefferson Village HOA and to Koger Management:

[ x ] Remove my name from the list of Jefferson Village homeowners, update your records, and please refrain from sending articles which are of no concern to me anymore.

You see, if those doing the inspection had done any prior homework, if Jefferson Village’s property ownership records were kept up-to-date, if the JV HOA grounds committee wasn’t so overzealous in its efforts to nail down suspected perpetrators, it might have been noted that I no longer own the residence at xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx – in fact, I had not lived at, nor owned that residence for nearly one and one-half months when the letter was addressed to me. If half as much effort had been taken to assure ownership and residence of a property, as was taken by the Yard Gestapo to find violators, it would be duly realised that a change in legal ownership of the property took place on 8-February-2005.

Now generally, I would not have made such a case out of this, except for the fact that:

  • The JV HOA Grounds Committee and/or its members have had a history of nitpicking and, indeed, glaring hypocrisy.
  • Koger Management was enough of a hassle when trying to get the paperwork ready to sell the property, that one would think they would be aware of the transaction – well, except for the fact that Koger no longer does any of that work itself, choosing to instead pawn residents off to CondoCerts.com, which in turn raises prices for any resident wishing to request this information.

In other words – any ill-will I have harboured in the past is not new, but in my opinion, it is certainly justified. At the same time, however, as I am no longer a resident of Jefferson Village, I do not feel it is awfully relevant anymore, and in that light, nor are any further communications between JV/Koger and myself, unless they specifically reference me as a former, not current, resident of the community and thus not one to whom any (stifling) JV regulations, property-specific or otherwise, apply.

If you have any further question, please do not hesitate to reach me at the address listed at the top of this correspondence – please note, however, that it is nearly 300 miles away, so if there are concerns about my yard, please pack your bags accordingly.

Regards,

Corey Welton.


Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 12:57 am

10/26/2004

Letter to the Editor (Loudoun Easterner): Frank Wolf’s questionable push-poll campaign

Last night, I received an automated phone call on my land line, indicating that its purpose was a political poll, and that it would be followed by a short political ad. Having never been contacted by a polling agency before, and seeing as it’s turning out to be one of the most important elections in recent history, I decided to give it a shot.

The system first asked me if I was planning to vote in the upcoming election. I responded with a “Yes”. The next question was, “In the upcoming election, do you plan to vote Republican Frank Wolf for Congress?”

I waited expectantly for a second… but nothing else was said! No mention of James Socas, no mention of an opposing political party – no mention of anyone else whatsoever! With suspicions firmly entrenched, I responded to the question with a resolute “No.”

It is here, however, where the story gets stranger. Upon my response, I was asked whether or not I was aware that my vote could affect Virginia’s efforts to curb terrorism, along with all the other catchphrases that any fear-based campaign might be expected to employ. Neatly phrased, the question didn’t outright state that my apparent vote against Wolf would mean there would be more terror attacks, it wasn’t too far off the mark, suggesting that a vote for anyone else would be an enormous setback.

Perhaps needless to say, I hung up, and did not complete the “poll”.

Since when does rhetoric have any place in a poll? More importantly, however, since when has it been considered ethical or even legal for a campaign to employ such sorts of tactics. There have already been noted incidents around the nation in recent years past, and this year particularly, concerning supposedly unbiased polling groups using “push polling” to implicate candidates in this supposedly unbiased forum. Push polling is illegal in many states, and while it may not yet be outlawed in Virginia, it is certainly anything but ethical. When one further considers Wolf’s lead coming into the 2004 election, it raises questions as to why his campaign felt the need to resort to such scare tactics in the first place.

Until recently, I was fairly ambivalent to Frank Wolf, but responses I have received from Wolf and/or his office over the past few years concerning issues that affect Loudoun and Northern Virginia residents indicate just how out-of-touch he is with the issues here. This most recent event, however, is just another indication of how a career politician stays in a position of power due to the apathy of his or her constituency.

The push poll operated by the Wolf campaign might have tried to sway my vote, and I can state for a certainty that, after hearing of my experience, it has indeed swayed mine, and several others… but not in a direction that Frank Wolf would like.

Corey Welton


cswiii @ 12:37 pm

7/28/2004

Craigslist retort, 28-July 2004

… in response to the following posting:

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/rnr/37711193.html

Conservatives are supposed to be so adverse to big government, up until the point where they’re in power. At that point, they go on to expand the size of the federal government, a la Reagan and George W. Bush.

Conservatives are supposed to be so against massive federal spending, up until the point that they control what is spent. At that point, they go on to run up deficits and increase the national debt far beyond anything any democrat in the past fifty years has done.

Conservatives are supposed to be the ones that champion personal freedom, up until the point that there are enough of them in power to pass legislation. At that point, they go on to draft laws concerning what can and can’t be done in our own bedrooms, to our own bodies, or with our our own money. You think the current regime doesn’t touch your money? Tell that to someone who all the sudden finds him or herself trying to transfer large chunks of legitimately earned profit from one bank account to another. Thanks to the Patriot Act, that, amongst other things, becomes a real pain the ass.

Conservatives, too, are supposed to be open-minded, up until the point where they decide to go off to war for ill-gotten gains and for fictional reasons. At that point, if you decide to question them, even the slightest, in their decisions, you are labelled “unpatriotic” or “commie”.

If I were in your shoes, and embraced your party’s ideals as much as you apparently do, I’d be scared shitless about what the current, neoconservative reactionaries are doing to the Republican party. I am, admitedly, not nearly as far off to the right as you are, but I don’t particularly disagree with much of what you’ve stated. This said, nor do I blindly follow a political party simply for the ability to latch onto something that, if nothing else, holds little more than its name when it comes to traditional conservative values.

Furthermore, I’d challenge you to really take a look at the current Democratic party and really determine that they are as adverse to private enterprise as you might think, that they are as willing to shrug off “personal responsibility” as you imply. At the risk of sounding like a Bandwagoneer, Barack Obama’s speech last night was a testament to that.

With regards to “shared responsibility”, the root of the word “politics” is “polis”, which means “community”. If you’re so adverse to relations within community, I daresay you’re in a sad, sad state of affairs — but more on par with what you are saying, perhaps you can go out by yourself in a self-imposed crusade against terrorist elements in your community, nation, or in the world. Maybe you’d enjoy it, Don’t fall down and scrape your knee, or break your arm on the way though — no one is going to bother helping you get back up despite unforseen circumstances that caused you to stumble at no fault of your own, either.

I can empathise with your opinion that “I can contribute more to the charities that I want and I can more effectively help people that having the inefficient government get in the middle.” However, it’s been well-documented that more often than not, money gets hoarded, not distributed. More often than not, as the amount of money that one earns goes up, the percentage thereof that is either reinvested in new businesses or into the community continues to drift down. I understand your concern, and have often felt the same way, but it’s to utopian a view for a modern, globalised world.

Years ago, when people amassed empires and wealth, there was something of a physical limit to what one could own. One could only defend so much land, or only store so much gold, before upkeep became too cumbersome. It was a natural checks and balances system. Today, in a world of electronic bank accounts and borders, that system is no longer in place, or is at least a weak remnant of itself, and without that system, the scale will eventually tip over too far one way, but it won’t be without victims — on either end. It’s the natural progression of things.

Do I like to recognise the need for an artificial, man-made, and obviously flawed hand in this? Of course not. But I nonetheless see the necessity in it, to varying degrees, as do all but the most far-right, rhetorical elements of the Republican party; in that, I’d posit that from the larger point of things, Republicans and Democrats don’t look too awfully different.

However, when it comes down to abuse of power, blatant disregard for the rest of the world out there, and the near-complete abandonment of one party’s true ideals, the new Right is an imposing spectre far more meanacing than “socialized medicine” or “double taxation”. I consider myself neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but it doesn’t take much of a step from the far-right fringes to see that this current administration is a threat to our nation’s well-being.

Author’s original posting below…
(more…)


cswiii @ 3:30 pm

6/17/2004

Getting Mother’s Body: Review

Getting Mother’s Body (pub. May, 2003; ISBN 1400060222) is the title of a novel by 2002 Pulitzer Prize winning author Suzan-Lori Parks, a terrific piece of literature in which Parks weaves one family’s greed, desparation and general distrust into a vivid patchwork quilt of fiction.
The story finds its setting in Ector County, Texas, during middle twentieth century America. Enter Billy Beede knocked-up and unmarried, she’s just one facet of a down-on-its-luck, cynical, and perhaps downright dysfunctional “negro” family, which includes, amongst a cast of others, Billy’s one-legged Aunt June, disillusioned minister Uncle Teddy, and Dill, the apparent “bulldagger, dyke, lezzy, what-have-you” one-time lover of her momma Willa Mae, a former blues and lounge singer.

With little time and money to her name, Billy attempts to save up money to get an abortion. Try as she might, however, the time begins to disappear far quicker than the money appears. Everything changes, though, when a letter arrives from a distant relative in La Junta, Arizona, announcing that the plot of land where Willa Mae, is buried is about to be plowed over to build a shopping center. If she isn’t retrieved, she’ll simply be paved over.

Meanwhile, in the years following Willa Mae’s death, unsubstantiated rumours that she was buried with a veritable collection of jewels had been fairly well-known but rarely discussed. It isn’t long before the wheels start to turn in Billy’s head, however, and soon thereafter, unspoken deeds from the past and an all-around malaise of rapaciousness set in, resulting in a “winner-take-all” rally across the wastelands of the midwest to claim the bounty.

Getting Mother’s Body is a fantastically written book full of dry, quirky humour and sardonic wit amidst the vague canvases of racist west Texas. Each chapter is titled after a specific character from the book, whereupon the reader sees the adventure through said character’s perspective in a way that is not choppy, and does not detract from the storyline. Willa Mae herself has chapters from beyond the grave which consist of haunting, soulful lyrics.

In the end, Ms. Parks’ Getting Mother’s Body is a highly-recommended change of pace for any reader, regardless of race or persuasion. If this, her first novel, is any indication, however, it won’t be the last time we are treated to such an adventure.


cswiii @ 8:09 am

6/14/2004

Review: Shattered Glass

Shattered Glass is the title of the 2003 film written by Billy Ray and based upon a Vanity Fair article by Buzz Bissinger, concerning the rise and fall of disgraced journalist and former associate editor of The New Republic, Stephen Glass.

Shattered Glass is an all-encompassing account of how, over a three-year period, Glass (played by Hayden Christensen), under two different editors — the late Michael Kelly (Hank Azaria) and Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) — managed to partially or completely falsify twenty-seven of forty-one articles written for The New Republic, often referred to in the movie as “The in-flight reading material for Air Force One”. The Republic was not the only publication fooled by Glass, however, as a variety of other magazines, including Rolling Stone, George and Policy Review all published Glass’ fabricated bits.

In this film, much (due) credit is given to Forbes writer Adam Penenberg (Steve Zahn) in discovering this perpetrated fraud, when asked by his editor, “Why didn’t we get this story?”, with regards to a Glass piece entitled “Hack Heaven”. In researching Glass’ names, places and accounts, Penenberg is able to discover nary a shred of evidence, which leads to a seemingly implausible trail of deceit constructed by Glass, in a desparate attempt to cover his tracks.

The film itself does a fairly good job of illustrating the manipulative nature of Glass, who managed to turn much of the Republic‘s staff against its new editor, Lane. Actress Chloë Sevigny convincingly plays the role of “Caitlin Avey” (based upon real-life staffer Hanna Rosin), perhaps the most loyal and misled of any staffer in the film.

In this day and age, while watching this film, it is somewhat hard to suspend disbelief that Glass was able to “override” the fact checking system the way he did — searching the Internet, as Penenberg did, no longer seems to be as “novel” an approach now, as might might have been in 1998. Furthermore, from the beginning, the film’s rendition of Glass’ enthusiastic (and faked) account of his “hacker story” prior to publication will most likely be viewed with cynicism in the eyes of just about any technologically-oriented person. However, it must be realised that this is a true case of hindsight being 20/20, and that nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of journalists and readers were fooled time and time again by Glass’ actions.

The film does seem to drag on a bit near the end and Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of an ever-increasingly desparate Glass does seem a bit contrived. Furthermore the repetitive nature of some of Glass’ statements throughout the film — not to mention staffer reactions — sometimes get tiresome, but overall, this film is is pretty fascinating in exposing how one writer managed to fool well-read and well-trained readers, over and over again.

The DVD version of this film includes a 60 Minutes interview with Glass, concerning the events that unfolded. It should be noted, however, that Glass did not contribute to, nor have any comment, on the film itself.

Below are some articles of interest concerning the story of Stephen Glass:

  • Penenberg’s exposé of Glass’ deception, entitled “Lies, Damn Lies, and Fiction”: http://www.forbes.com/1998/05/11/otw3.html
  • A screenshot of the faked “corporate website” that Glass created as an attempt to cover his tracks: http://www.forbes.com/1998/05/11/otw3b.html
  • A website illustrating the articles falsified by Stephen Glass: http://www.rickmcginnis.com/articles/Glassindex.htm

cswiii @ 10:10 am

3/25/2004

The Verizon Battle is ON!

“You do realize, of course, that this means war!” — Looney Tunes

I called Verizon today to get the address for their customer relations department. I got it, and the woman asked if she could help me with anything. As far as I was concerned, this was their last chance. I talked with her for a few minutes about the situation.

Well, she was nice enough… and at least she tried.


Corey Welton
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Potomac Falls, Virginia
20165

25 March 2004

Verizon Customer Relations
8149 Walnut Grove Rd
Mechanicsville, Virginia
23111

To Whom it may Concern:

My name is Corey Welton, and I am a current customer of Verizon for my local telephone services. As it stands, I would like to get DSL on my home phone line, as well, but for seemingly unknown business policy decisions at Verizon, I am currently unable.

This is not a technological issue. I understand the issue behind DSL technology. Historically, the area in which I live has been unable to get DSL, due to fibre on the phone loop, en route to the Central Office (CO). For some, this has recently been resolved by the installation of Remote Terminals (RTs) in the area to bypass the aforementioned fibre. Customers have been specifically told that the reason for these RT installs is to resolve the DSL issue.

I recently moved from one location in Sterling, Virginia, to another, while keeping the same phone number. The former location had no remote terminals nearby; the latter is in an area where these terminals are being built. Upon moving to the new location, I talked with Verizon DSL, and was told that there was an RT within proximity to my house, but that my address was not updated in the records. They said to call back in a few weeks. Continued attempts thereafter to qualify continue to show DSL was unavailable. It quickly became very obvious to me that, after moving, Verizon did not route my number through the remote terminal associated with this neighbourhood. Rather, they took the (most likely simpler) route of just reconnecting my phone line with the new address. A few weeks later, upon calling, this theory was all but confirmed for me, when I was told that I still had fibre on the loop and was further told that there was no record of any remote terminal in my area.

This seemed strange, but the story didn’t end there.

Indeed, the location of the RT was confirmed while talking to a Verizon engineer who was in my neighbourhood a few weekends ago; he pointed about 200 yards up the street, to an RT that had been installed. When asked if it would be possible to get my line routed through this RT, so that I could get DSL, he said it was possible, by talking to the local office.

Upon talking to the local office, the woman told me that she had heard of this situation before, that she could empathise, but that it would be very unlikely that I could get the number rerouted through the RT. She then forwarded me to the Repairs department, which she said would be the only group who would be able to do this.

Repairs, in turn, said there was no way it would be done, but that they would double-check with the Business Office. After putting me on hold to talk with the Business Office, it was confirmed that, indeed, under no circumstances would it be possible to get my number rerouted through the RT. Incredulously, even offering to pay to have the service done was to no avail.

So what we have here is a very obvious business decision to not reroute existing phone services through the RTs. I am not alone in coming to this conclusion; there are several documented cases of people in this area being unable to get their existing phone numbers routed through the RT and thus being unable to get DSL while at the same time, new neighbours move in, get new Verizon service, and their new lines are routed through, thus qualifying them for DSL. Indeed, it seems that if I wanted to simply get a new phone number, that the new number itself would be correctly routed, and I could get DSL on that line. I do not wish to get a new number, however, and the only constraints on my ability to get DSL are procedural, rather than technical.

This simply does not make sense to me, from a business perspective. Verizon installed the RTs primarily to overcome technical limitations in this area for providing DSL, and yet Verizon will only route new local phone services through these RTs. The only options in this area for broadband is a very unsatisfactory cable-modem provider, and thus it beguiles the mind, quite frankly, to think that Verizon is willing to pass up an easy, constant $50 a month from potential Verizon DSL customers simply because the company does not wish to reroute said potential customers’ phone lines. Does it not seem that if customers call in to specifically request this action, that they desire to pay for a service that would be very easy for Verizon to provide? I simply can’t understand the logic at hand.

As it stands, Verizon is currently getting $30 a month from me for providing local phone service. Why Verizon would not want to get an additional $50 for providing me with DSL, when it is technically feasible, is beyond me, but that is Verizon’s decision. Meanwhile, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has allowed customers to make decisions of their own as well, specifically in choosing their local phone service provider. This said, I see little reason to remain with Verizon when it provides service that is unresponsive and inadequate to the needs of its customers. Switching providers will not provide me with DSL, as the lines are leased from Verizon, but it would at least provide satisfaction in knowing I am getting the best my service money can buy.

Please note that I am not alone in this consideration, as much of my neighbourhood is similarly-aware of the situation at hand. Verizon’s inability and/or unwillingness to roll-out DSL to this area has been widely documented in published letters to the local Loudoun Easterner and the Washington Post newspapers over the past few years we now feel it is only right to take the necessary financial steps, unless appropriate measures are taken, or at very least, a reasonable explanation is given.

A response to these issues is requested. If necessary, I can be reached by mobile phone at 202.xxx.xxxx, but not in lieu of an expedient, written response to these issues. Failure to respond in a timely and/or satisfactory manner will accelerate the cancellation of my existing Verizon services and my subsequent boycott of services the company provides, not to mention the possibility of similar actions by others in my community, as well.

Thank you very much for your time I look forward to reading your response.

Sincerely,

(signed)

Corey Welton.


cswiii @ 4:19 pm

3/23/2004

Letter to Vasque

Corey Welton
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Potomac Falls, VA 20165

23 March 2004

Vasque
314 Main Street
Red Wing, MN 55066

To whom it may concern:

My name is Corey Welton, and have had a pair of Vasque Sundowners for about the past two to three years. I got these boots at the recommendation and observation of old college acquaintances, all of whom have been very loyal to the Vasque brand for many years now.

I too, have been generally happy with my pair � until the last few months, that is. In recent months, I noticed that my right boot started to make a strange �clicking� sound. At first I thought it was just something stuck to the bottom of my boot, which was sticking to the tile floor at my office � but then I noticed the sound was occurring everywhere � asphalt, concrete, and on soft ground.

It was not long after this that I realised it was coming from inside my boot. Perhaps it is part of the shank coming loose, I am not sure. In any case, I didn’t let it bother me too much � that is, until my left boot started doing the same thing, and is now much louder than the first.

As it stands, I now have a pair of Sundowner Classics which are audibly apparent from anyone down the hall or within proximity of me. In addition to the noise, i can now feel various bits move beneath my feet. It is not the sound which bothers me so much, or really even the movement exhibited within the sole however � it’s the seemingly larger issue of a drop in manufacturing quality. I asked the aforementioned friends, all fiercely loyal to Vasque, and they said they’d never had the same issue, but most of them had boots from several years ago, before the construction was outsourced to China, and indeed, they made known their suspicions. While I don’t want to be so hasty as to pin the blame on that, I do nonetheless suspect a quality control issue with my boots, whether it has anything to do with outsourcing or not. If only one boot exhibited the aforementioned behaviour, I might think it a strange occurrence, but the fact that both now exhibit it points to a more serious issue in quality control.

My boots have, of course, long since surpassed their one-year warranty, but they are, by no stretch of the imagination. �worn out�. With the exception of a bit of foot pronation, I don’t walk abnormally; I take good care of these boots, and, as it stands, I haven’t been able to get in the woods much over the past couple years, so it is not as if they’ve gone through a lot of wear and tear. Aside the scuffs around the toes from some a bit of hiking, the boots are in great shape � except for this problem that I suspect with the shank or insole of the boot.

Thus, it is somewhat disheartening to see this happen to boots produced by a company known for its top-quality outdoor footwear. Upon the advice of my backpacking friends, and upon secondary research, I decided to purchase the Sundowners. I now feel, however, that the quality of these boots has fallen far short of the quality or lifecycle expected of them and the brand, regardless of warranty limitations. It is because of this situation that I was hoping there would be some sort of remedy or solution for issues at hand. In that Vasque is a trusted name, I am certain you will reply with an expedient and adequate response. If you need to contact me via telephone, my mobile number is 202-xxx-xxxx

Thank you very much for your time, and for your footwear products.

Sincerely,

(signed)

Corey Welton


Tags: , , — cswiii @ 12:34 pm

7/21/2003

Woo!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A8858-2003Jul17?language=printer

(more…)


cswiii @ 9:14 pm

7/11/2003

E2 Writeup: Goofus and Gallant

Long before parents could blame their kids’ bad behaviour on ADD/ADHD, and before morals were taught on TV in the form of after-school specials that revolved around students and drug addiction, the magazine Highlights For Children presented kids with a far more benign viewing option that attempted to illustrate the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. Augustine would have recognised the inherent dualism immediately.

“Goofus and Gallant” is not so much a comic as it is an illustrated series of contrasting “A versus B” life decisions. Goofus, always illustrated cowlicked and with bangs and tending to have a scowl or impish look on his face, is the temperamental, misbehaved one who neglected his chores, friends, or manners; he is the antithesis to Gallant, the perfect-haired, clean-cut, well-behaved lad.

An example strip would tend to have each of the boys segregated in separate frames, but in otherwise similar scenarios or environments. Below each pane would be a sentence of text regarding how both Goofus and Gallant would behave in the situation, perhaps playing out something like this:

Frame A: “Goofus reaches across the table to grab the basket of dinner rolls.”

Frame B: “Gallant waits for Grandma to get her dinner roll, before politely asking her to pass him the basket.”

As the two always tend(ed) to look very similar in the various illustrative iterations, sometimes it has sometimes been pondered whether Goofus and Gallant are identical twin brothers, or, since they never appeared in the same frame, whether they were are perhaps different personas of the same protagonist.

Whatever the situation, Highlights is still in publication, and over the years, the behaviours and ages of neither Goofus nor Gallant have changed. This is probably a good thing, however — if they’d both grown up, Goofus would probably be smoking crack and living in an alleyway, whereas overachieving Gallant would have probably killed himself halfway through grad school, due to the intense pressure that he was under from both himself and his overbearing parents.

…and what kind of lesson would that teach your seven year-old?


cswiii @ 4:15 pm

4/10/2003

Students – 10 April 2003

Students – 10 April 2003

Warm, midwestern wheat, straw-hat drawl
Inflected with

     glass smoke asphalt
City echoes, concrete reverberations
Flowing rivulets
Diluted by suburban white noise.
Intrigue lost amongst profane, increased ambience
     …and suddenly gone, all of it…

Eye of the storm, passing clouds
Before the next denim contingent
     arrives


What rubbish. Absolute tripe. I can’t think three-dimensionally, anymore
Seeing, observing, connecting. The third of these escapes me, these days.


cswiii @ 9:34 pm

4/9/2003

The sun is beginning to shine on me / But it’s not like the sun that used to be

Postmodern Platonics

Artificial sands, a false oasis
Sipping reconstituted juices with rum,
Under a hundred-watt sunset
     (or perhaps it is neon!) –

We all lounge on synthetic fibres
     with saccharine dreams
     and plasticine visions
Watching silicone women walk by
Ingesting our placebos with nary

     a consideration
Of what is real.


Who is the biggest hypocrite of us all? Me, as I eat Taco Bell, after writing it.


cswiii @ 10:09 pm

4/8/2003

If one good thing can

If one good thing can come out of this unpleasant weather pattern, it’s the fact that it seems about perfect, for listening to Time Out Of Mind. The chilly, damp weather once again triggers those sorts of moods. Listening to Bob feels comfortable, though, like an old leather jacket, in it all.

The cherry and Bradford pear trees betray these feelings, however. They line the roads like all too many blushing brides, standing, waiting, not realizant of the fact that their groom isn’t coming, at least not yet. Their hopeful petals continue to fall as this last gasp of wintry, windy drizzle takes advantage of them.

I have been reading Graham Greene’s The Quiet American recently. It’s a good one.


cswiii @ 9:55 pm

1/10/2003

Angie the Bartender

Gypsy gal, the hands of Harlem

Cannot hold you to its heat.

Your temperature’s too hot for taming,

Your flaming feet burn up the street.

I still drive by the place, every once in a while; I gave it a quick
glance the other evening, like I always do, when I passed it on the way
to Jimmy’s tavern. We went there a few weeks ago. It’s now a
Bolivian joint, and we were the only English speakers in the place.

Donde tu–where would you like to sit?”

How things change.


Yes, it was overpriced — anyone who requested one of their $6 cans of
Guinness would tell you the same thing. The food was good, but the
bands were terrible, and the atmosphere variable. Really, I was
surprised to see the place stay open as long as it did, and everytime I
went there, I half-expected it find it closed.

One day, Revolution finally did just that. For all of its
idiosyncracies and questionable business plans, though, I still miss
it. Most of all, however, I miss Angie.


I am homeless, come and take me
Into reach of your rattling drums.

Let me know, babe, about my fortune

Down along my restless palms.

While I no longer remember her surname, birthday, or any of the little
details that used to be so clear, I can still recall her finer features.
Part Italian, part Cherokee, she had a Jersey attitude and a
bohemian spirit. Maybe that’s why she disappeared the way she did.

Now, we all know the Cardinal Rule of barhopping, of
course…Thou shalt not covet thy bartender nor thy
waitress
. Generally, I never had any problem with this; when it
came to Angie, however, all those rules flew out the window.

Gypsy gal, you got me swallowed,

I have fallen far beneath
Your pearly eyes, so fast an’ slashing,
An’ your flashing diamond teeth.

I started going for java, but it wasn’t long before I gave up my coffee
cup for a pint glass. Shortly thereafter, Angie joined the staff. My
first interaction with her was when I ordered a Bass, along with my
Guinness… she brought me my beverages, and a crooked
little spoon.

“Will this help?,” she asked, and, for the first time, I caught a glance
of those eyes, that grin… traits that became so
familar, in the months to come.

The night is pitch black, come an’ make my

Pale face fit into place, ah, please!

Let me know, babe, I got to know, babe,

If it’s you my lifelines trace.

Now, I feel it’s necessary to clarify something: I freely admit that, from the beginning, my desires to know Angie were anything but pure; It was unrequited eros, plain and simple. I wasn’t the only one, either… there were plenty of guys that passed through that bar who, after catching a glimpse of those leather pants bent over the ice chest, had similar thoughts.

Regardless, the longer I knew her, the more I enjoyed our conversation, despite the fact that, in retrospect, it would be ridiculous to have entertained any consideration that I’d ever be with her. I still have no regrets about the money spent, time wasted — or time spent wasted — in that dimly-lit, copper-tinged bar, under her watch. Angie was a great conversationalist, and despite my introversion, I found it easy to talk with her.

I been wond’rin’ all about me
Ever since I seen you there.

On the cliffs of your wildcat charms I’m riding,
I know I’m ’round you but I don’t know where.

Angie was no lady. She’d buy and toss back shots of Grand Marnier
with me when the coast was clear, and never once did she have qualms
about giving someone a royal, verbal shellacking if they were
belligerent. When I ended up there, during a weeknight, for one
particularly lonely birthday, she aided me with more than
a few choice words as we together berated the crummy band for wishing a

“Happy Valentines Day” to this bunch of single saps, drinking by
ourselves.

Angie bought my drinks for me that night. She also kissed me.

Happy Birthday, hon,” she whispered. If I don’t remember
much else about that night, this moment was nonetheless etched in stone.

It was also the only time this happened.

You have slayed me, you have made me,
I got to laugh halfways off my heels.
I got to know, babe, will I be touching you

So I can tell if I’m really real.

Things began to go to hell at Revolution, shortly thereafter.
Angie accidentally served a minor on a frenzied night, despite looking
at the girl’s license. One of the waiters got caught smoking weed
outside the bar, by one of the owners. In general, the karma of the
place was getting worse by the day. They tried new menus, new music,
but by then, it was too late. The whole thing even got to me, one of
their most frequent customers. I decided I needed a break.

About two months later, I decided to stop by. I drove down there,
got out of my truck, walked up to the door to discover a sign.

REVOLUTION IS CLOSED INDEFINITELY


I still kept in touch with some of the others I used to see there, but
never saw Angie again. Jessica went off to college, and we’d talk every
once in a while, whenever she was in town. Sometimes she’d IM me.
That eventually faded with time, too.

Months have sinced passed. I’ve been with my current girlfriend for
well over a year now, and things are very happy. Jessica messaged me
the other day, though. It’d been a while, but it was good to hear from
her. She asked me if I’d ever heard from Angie. I said that I hadn’t;
Neither had she. Seems strange, the two of them used to chat all the
time.

Temporarily, our discussion made all those memories come flooding
back. I have a feeling that no one really knows where Angie went; She
used to talk with me about getting out of this town, and I have a
feeling that she took Revolution’s closing as an opportunity to do so.

They say that amputees sometimes get a phantom itch, where their
arm or leg used to be. Sometimes, when I’m in a dusky bar, drinking a
Guinness, I still feel that if I look up from my drink, I’ll see Angie
there, giving me grin, waiting to make some wise-ass remark.









“Spanish Harlem Incident” lyrics by Bob Dylan,
(c)1964, 1992 Special Rider Music.


cswiii @ 11:32 am

1/3/2003

The Social Gospel

The Social Gospel is a
perspective on American Christianity that has its origins in the late
1800s, following the commencement of the industrial revolution.
Not long thereafter, corporate structures emerged that became more
powerful, which of course led to many labour strikes and led many to
consider Socialism as a viable alternative to laissez-faire economics.

As labor strikes became more prevalent, the long-held “protestant work ethic” became a less viable worldview to hold, as churches began to see the social problems that unrestrained Capitalism was unearthing, particularly amongst labourers.

Meanwhile, as the study of both social science
and socialism were increasing in institutes of higher learning, and the
church stayed no stranger to this. Seminaries undertook studies of
both, as efforts to try and alleviate some of the stresses placed on
society.

Further down the road, and taken out of a secular context, some
aspects of socialism (specifically, the good of society, as opposed to individualistic gain) became an important plank in the concept known as the Kingdom of God,
where salvation and well-being of society as a whole was deemed more
important than that of the individual, and provided a vehicle for
Christians to perform ethically for the good of all, as opposed to
doing something simply for their own good. The Kingdom of God does not
try to overthrow existing precepts of Christianity, or throw out existing church doctrines. Instead, it attempts to redefine the focus of the faith on social change as opposed to individual salvation.

Growing out of this movement was the Social Gospel. Just as the
Kingdom of God does not attempt to change long-standing Christian
precepts, the Social Gospel (or “Social Christianity“)
does not aim to overthrow capitalism, but instead focuses on reforming
society and capitalism from the inside, as opposed to revolution from
the outside.

One prominent theologian in particular come to mind when considering the Kingdom of God and the Social Gospel, Walter Rauschenbusch, whose seminal work, A Theology for the Social Gospel, outlines the necessity to focus on the social conciousness within the existing Christian doctrines — in fact, some might argue that he makes social change the main focus of salvation

itself. Rauschenbusch argues that complete salvation, “…would consist
in an attitude of love in which he would freely co-ordinate his life
with the life of his fellows in obedience to the loving impulses of
God…”1 Thus, regarding personal salvation, “When we submit to God, we submit to the supremacy of the common good”2 and “A religious experience is not Christian unless it binds us closer to men and commits us more deeply to the Kingdom of God.”3

Another theologian whose contributions needn’t go unnoticed is Reinhold Niebuhr, whose time spent at a working-class Detroit church, and whose book Moral Man and Immoral Society

both had a great focus on societal change, although Neibuhr recognised
that all groups — including the church — featured imperfections and
tendencies towards excess.

Works Referenced:

* Matthews, Terry: The Social Gospel
(http://www.wfu.edu/~matthetl/perspectives/nineteen.html)

* Placher, William C.: A History of Christian Theology

* Rauschenbusch, Walter: A Theology For the Social Gospel

Works Cited:

1 p. 98, A Theology For the Social Gospel: Walter Rauschenbusch, (c) 1945. Abingdon Press: New York, New York.

2 ibid., p. 99

3 ibid., p. 105


cswiii @ 3:25 am