Twitter and my friends at Clean Water Action


So, Twitter suggested that I follow Clean Water Action.  Ha ha.

http://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/43764259984904192

It reminded me of this…

Senator Wayne Fontana Reads His Mail.

…and I laughed.

I need to write some more goofy letters.

Archaic Alcohol Assize


Now, this just shows how ridiculous PA Beer laws can be…

I consider this yet another horrible waste of our tax money.

This quote says it all; “…bar owners say hard-to-spell beer names and typographical errors show how archaic Pennsylvania’s Prohibition-era liquor laws really are…”

Ridiculous.

Your tax dollars at work


…or lack thereof.  Yesterday, we got this in the mail:

2010 Census Warning Letter

Really?  I mean, really? I can’t imagine one person out there who thinks this is at all necessary.  Your government actually spent time writing a letter, translating one line into several languages, printing, assembling, and mailing this thing out to every residence?

The one line at the end must be the important line, because it’s the only one they translated… yet, it wasn’t important enough to be in the actual body of the letter.  Are we to ignore the thole main part of the letter?  How did they pick the languages in which to translate the line?  What are they?  Please excuse my public education.  I recognize the English of course, Spanish, what I think is Chinese, then most likely Japanese or Korean, under that… I have no idea, then the Cryillic letters… is that Russian?  Why no French, Italian, German, or at this point Navajo?  Did they just throw darts at a map?

What if I’m politically opposed to the social programs that you need this census data for?  Is this my warning to fill the census out incorrectly?  Doesn’t the government already know everything about me when I do my taxes?  What exactly is my fair share, and who determines that?  I’m sure it’s nothing even close to “if I pay more taxes I get more out of government assistance”… which would seem fair to me.

On the other end of the political scale, even if this paper is made from recycled material, the plastic window in the envelope couldn’t have been environmentally friendly… and this is still a giant waste of paper, ink, envelope glue, and the gas that went into the trucks/planes/cars that delivered these things.  I really hope the tree-hugging hippies pick up on this and rail against it.  If the government expects us to be more responsible with our resources, they ought to lead by example.  Even a fictional villain from the Captain Planet cartoon would find this wasteful.

Oddly, it didn’t even mention the not-so-humorous “Snapshot of America” campaign that’s been shoved down our throats via TV, radio, print, and the ‘net.  I could almost see if it was some expansion of that, or more of an explanation.  This basically translates to “please fill out the census when you get it”… and if you need help, we have a website you can go to.  They couldn’t have done that in the useless ad campaign?

Who paid for this?  We did.  You, me, and everyone else that pays taxes.  Wouldn’t the money used for this mailing have been better used in the schools, health care facilities, highways, and programs that the census letter speaks of?  Or, it could have gone to disaster relief, homeless shelters, cancer research, or better yet, you could have all gotten a few more tax dollars back in your refund.  Before you laugh…  It wouldn’t just be the cost of the paper, ink, envelope, & stamp.  Think of all the people who where paid to write, print, fold, stuff, stamp, & transport these things and how many hours they spent doing it… and imagine what they get paid an hour.  Even with automated machines to do most of the work, someone had to monitor the progress and set the ball rolling.

Was this a ploy to keep the post office running for another few months before it shuts down?  The one sentence that stands out to me is “Without a complete, accurate census, your community may not receive its fair share.”  This reads like a threat in a stereotypical “pay for protection” plot line on your favorite crime drama or Simpsons episode.  I imagine someone sounding like Joe Pesci saying “I would ‘ate for sometin’ bad to ‘appen to your community were you to ignore this important mailing coming your way.”

Yes, I just wasted more of your time.  Sorry about that.  Maybe I need a government job…

More shocking & disguting revelations from your serving staff…


I wish I was done.  Perhaps this blog will wrap up all of my current thoughts on the subject.  Thanks for hanging in there, my friends.  And, I have received some comments on Facebook at Pittsburgh Beat, please comment here too!  Thanks to Trista & Dave for not being shy.  If you have no idea what I mean, this is a follow-up to my last two posts…

You may want to read those 1st.

The first article/slide-show that I’d like to tackle is also called 20 Secrets Your Waiter Won’t Tell You and linked to from one of the articles as 20 More Secrets Your Waiter Won’t Tell You. Apparently originality is lost here.

I’ll tackle the most appalling slides here..

What You’re Really Swallowing
In most restaurants, after 8 p.m. or so, all the coffee is decaf because no one wants to clean two different coffeepots. I’ll bring out a tray with 12 coffees on it and give some to the customers who ordered regular, others to the ones who ordered decaf. But they’re all decaf.
Charity Ohlund

Ridiculous.  What’s so hard about telling people of this policy, or cleaning an extra coffee pot?  Don’t they have dish washers for this kind of thing?  Any kind of secrecy is just wrong.  Granted, the opposite would be much worse for someone with a sensitivity to caffeine… but according to this  butthole, it happens quite regularly.  Is it too much to expect to get what you order?  Really?  I work hard for my money just like you, and ought to get what I want when I spend in your workplace.

What We Lie About
If you’re a vegetarian and you ask if we use vegetable stock, I’m going to say yes, even if we don’t. You’ll never know the difference.

I like that this is from someone anonymous.  Whoever you are, please take comfort in the fact that you are one of the lowest forms of human life on the planet and that there are not too many out there worse than you.  You’re sick.  You have a mental illness of some sort or a form of antisocial personality disorder… specifically the following symptoms:

  • Apparent lack of remorse or empathy; inability to care about hurting others
  • Tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others
  • Disregard for the safety of self or others
  • Persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social rules, obligations, and norms

This is a serious illness, and I implore you to seek help.  This is just completely unacceptable behavior towards your fellow man, besides not doing your job correctly or with any sort of pride or responsibility.

I’m certainly not a vegetarian.  In fact, serve up any animal that’s not shellfish, an insect, or  having an opposable thumb, and I’ll most likely eat it or at least try it.  I love red meat… and white meat too… but there is not much better out there meat-wise than a nice steak, roast, or even a burger.  PETA annoys me to no end.

Still, I respect their life choices, life style, and dietary needs.  I have several friends and acquaintances that are vegetarian or vegan.  It doesn’t matter if their diet is because of personal choices, dietary needs, religious beleifs, or allergies. If I know they’re coming to my house for anything or if I’m taking food to a common event with them… I go out of my way to make sure that the food doesn’t contain animals or animal products.  Over the past few years, I even learned about things that I never thought of as animal products like gelatin-free sour cream.

I harp on the allergy thing because it affects me, but someone out there may have a severe allergic reaction to beef or chicken… and if the stock was made from fish or shellfish and someone lied to me about it… well, I might not be around to complain.

I just can’t imagine that in this day and age that anyone would think lying about something like this was acceptable.

What You Don’t Want to Know
Now that I’ve worked in a restaurant, I never ask for lemon in a drink. Everybody touches them. Nobody washes them. We just peel the stickers off, cut them up, and throw them in your iced tea.
—Charity Ohlund, Kansas City waitress

Explains why I’ve gotten so many lemons with stickers on them in my iced teas.  Aren’t there health codes or inspectors out there?  I’m vehemently against big(er) government, but I would gladly pay higher taxes for inspections to be more frequent and with higher penalties.  In fact…  I’ll sign up to do them at an incredibly reasonable price.

What You’re Really Swallowing
Skim milk is almost never skim milk. Very few restaurants outside Starbucks carry whole milk, 2 percent milk, skim milk, and half-and-half; it’s just not practical.
—Chris

Skim milk is gross, but…  Again, why with the dishonesty?  Why not just tell people you don’t have skim milk, then let them make the decision if they want it or not?  I’d leave a bigger tip if my server was honest with me about something like that.

What Drives Us Crazy
The single greatest way to get your waiter to hate you? Ask for hot tea. For some reason, an industry that’s managed to streamline everything else hasn’t been able to streamline that. You’ve got to get a pot, boil the water, get the lemons, get the honey, bring a cup and spoon. It’s a lot of work for little reward.
—Christopher Fehlinger, maître d’ at a popular New York City restaurant

Wow.  I love hot tea, but don’t order it out much.  From now on, every time I feel a waiter or waitress is treating me poorly, I’ll be sure to add to their aggravation and order this.  Also, I find it funny that this is from a maître d’.  Shouldn’t they be held to an even higher standard?  And again…  I don’t care what it is… if it’s on the menu, I should be able to order it, and it should not affect your attitude or opinion because… buh-bahhh IT’S YOUR JOB.

What We Want You to Know
In many restaurants, the tips are pooled, so if you have a bad experience with the server, you’re stiffing the bartender who made your drinks, the water boy who poured your water, sometimes the hostess, the food runners, and maybe the other waiters.
—Christopher Fehlinger

This isn’t common knowledge by now?  Surely everyone knows someone who works at a restaurant.

What You Need to Know About Tipping
The best tippers tend to be middle-class or people who have worked for everything they have, not the really wealthy or the kid who inherited the trust fund. Which is not to say that we mind if you use coupons. But when you do, tip on the amount the bill would have been without them.
—Judi Santana

Makes sense… people at about your level who work for all that they have.  The coupon thing makes sense.  Save a few bucks on the restaurant’s dime, not your server’s.

Well, those articles led me to Frothy Girlz where I looked for an apparently old blog post that keeps coming up to annoy the writer.  I didn’t find the original post, but I did find a gem entitled In The Weeds: There’s a Food Allergy Community? Really?.

People just love them some communities.  I mean, they must.  After my Reader’s Digest piece was picked up by both the Today show and Msnbc.com, the “food allergy community” opened up a peanut and gluten-free can of whoop ass on me.  Some scolded me for not caring if their children died, others asked for a full retraction and apology to the community, and others reminded me, again, that they could die.

Who knew there was a food allergy community?  Can you imagine the poor restaurant that is chosen for their weekly meetings?  The waitress nervously approaches the chef with an order the size of the Bible with all the special notes and codes and the words “COULD DIE!!!” hand written on half the tickets.

I’m disgusted by the cavalier attitude here.  I can’t imagine being a parent with a small child that had to deal with this.  It’s bad enough when it’s my own problem.  Yes, there’s a bunch of us out here, and we’re growing more vocal day by day.  Why?  Any more, it’s the small groups who have to power.  Wait until we start referring to ourselves ans a minority, and our right to eat out in comfort a civil right.  Wow, could we ever abuse that if we got it out at the right place and time to the right politicians.

I have dealt with a lot of food allergies in my serving career, and I care, I really do.   Every case was handled with extreme care.  I would go talk to the chef, who would roll his eyes and then have to stop the line and talk to every cook.  I then had to stop and tell every other server, busser, and assistant to make sure not to touch any plates at table 53 without washing their hands of any and all potential allergens.  She could die!  Meanwhile, the restaurant is completely packed and crazy and this person has put her LIFE in my hands and I have to trust – no, SHE has to trust – that all 95 people who could possibly come in contact with her or her food will completely sanitize their hands, the silverware, the plates, and the very air she breathes of any and all peanut dust.

A chef rolls their eyes?  That’s sad.  I think they’d get into the business wanting people to love their food, not die from it.  Sadly, in with the rest of this, she’s right on.  It should not be solely the responsibility of the server.  Restaurants everywhere need to be made aware of the inherent dangers of cross contamination in food preparation, cooking, & serving.  People suffering from severe food allergies are a small percentage of the population, narrow down the allergy & it’s smaller still.  I run into people that aren’t aware of allergies or their possible severity all the time.  Some people are taking steps to correct this, many others will be needed to join in & raise awareness.

But it’s too much for you, allergen sufferer, isn’t it?  I mean, if you could truly die, how do you throw caution to the wind and hope that your 12 reminders have done the trick?  Balls, you.

Yes, balls me.  Again, you have to weigh this against the social pressure to dine out, and desire to be like everyone else.  It’s much more than just the allergy that’s bothersome, and who doesn’t like to dine out every once in a while, especially in a place that doesn’t have a drive-through or a mascot?

That blog contained a vlog from this guy, who at best needs kicked in the teeth.  I can’t really go point-for-point because I don’t really feel like typing out transcripts.  If you’re interested in seeing what I mean, check out Would You Say “No Butter” to Julia Child!?.  He speaks of how I shouldn’t eat out because I can’t trust anyone but him… even though he’s an ass.  He does make one good point saying that people saying they’re allergic to things when they just don’t want them in their food is doing nothing but trivializing it for the rest of us.  But, “Anonymous waiter in Hollywood, CA”, don’t pass the buck, you’re still the arrogant bastard here.  Yes, I get it, you say things for shock value and to gain new readers… like I just said you need kicked in the teeth.  I’m sure you’re fine with that though, & enjoy the reaction.  If you’re teaching us to be better customers, who’s teaching you to be a better waiter?

Apparently people complaining upset the “In The Weeds” writer, and she posted another blog, again venting…

1)  From Shellshock: “Wow. The author is going to kill someone with the attitude towards allergies. I guess the terms anaphylactic shock and death are words not found in the author’s vocabulary.”

I covered the topic of food allergies already, but again, if you can DIE from someone messing up your food, you might as well ask your waitress to perform your next open heart surgery.  It’s really the same risk.  I’m not insensitive to your plight.  I’ll do my best.  But it really sucks that you could die.  Because if the Mexican kitchen workers don’t understand what I’m saying about “anaphylactic shock”…. damn.

Again, why not do your part and suggest to the owner/manager/chef that everyone be trained on food allergy awareness?  No one’s asking you to perform open heart surgery… we’re just asking you to be clean.  That’s all.  Don’t let dirty stuff touch clean stuff. Shouldn’t that be in practice anyway?

I mean this stuff is genius…

Education | For Food Industry and Service Professionals

To prevent allergic reactions, individuals with food allergies rely on accurate ingredient information and safe food handling procedures. The material in this section will provide food industry and service professionals with the information they will need to safely prepare, cook, and serve food to a guest who has food allergies.

Would that really be all that difficult?

Well, maybe I have one more blog left.  One dedicated to tipping… and my take on it.  I really hope to hear from some people in the industry about that one.

Senator Wayne Fontana Reads His Mail.


I had posted the following on my Facebook page and PittsburghBeat.com while ago, and wasn’t really sure if I’d get a response. Enough people seemed to be entertained by it, that I thought it did its job. Today, I got a letter in the mail from Senator Wayne Fontana. It’s also following the following.


So, tonight the doorbell rings… Bethany answers, and it’s a young woman from Clean Water Action. The girl at the door proceeds tell Bethany that she’s out raising support to clean up our waterways, and that if we like clean drinking water we ought to sign this petition.

Bethany signed after the girl at the door pointed to some bulleted talking points on her clipboard saying pollution is bad, and she then asked for a donation. Bethany, agreeing that clean water is good (and just wanting the girl to go away) gave her a check for $5.

The young lady at the door was very polite, and probably out for a good cause that she believes in wholeheartedly. I applaud her conviction and dedication.

Then, Bethany was given the following pamphlet and asked to write a letter to PA State Senator Wayne Fontana and leave it out on the porch for the young woman to pick up on her way back through in about a half hour.

The young political activist even handed Bethany a blank sheet of paper on which to write the letter. I found this very considerate.

Bethany sat down, perplexed at what to write. It’s hard to write a letter about an issue that you’ve just learned of minutes ago, mere seconds of those minutes being devoted to actually explaining the issue. She considered aloud just copying the text outlined in the “Tell Them” section of the handout and singing her name, and laughed.

You all know I like to write letters, so I happily offered to write in her stead.

I wrote:
Dear Senator Fontana,

My wife was asked to write this letter by a door-to-door political solicitor about an issue that was explained to her in less than 30 seconds with talking points laid out that (of course) over-simplify some situation about clean water initiatives.

She was asked to donate money to their cause, which she did, under duress.

I do not support their cause, and most likely their proposed bill includes some kind of legislation that will take property out of private hands for government use, or raise our taxes.

I’m sure there’s something that we’re not being told, or some sort of political affiliation or philosophy that’s not anything like mine behind this agenda.

Do I want clean water? Of course I do. Do I want anything else these people are pushing for? Probably not.

Perhaps a bigger issue to tackle would be to pass laws saying that people can’t solicit political issues door to door.

So, in closing, I apologize for wasting your time, my time, this envelope, a stamp, this ink, and this paper. I’m sure a Prius-driving sandal & socks wearing liberal is crying somewhere at my waste of precious resources.

Don’t you guys have e-mail addresses? I would love to hear your thoughts on the issue, and these “Clean Water Action” people. You can waste more ink, paper, stamps, & time by contacting me at the address above, or via email at my_email@ddre.ss.

Annoyed,
-(mE.)

We addressed it to Sen. Fontana, placed it in a sealed envelope, stamped it, and placed it on the porch for pickup by the young activist.

I do hope to get some sort of reply. Thanks to that woman for prompting this action, and for delivering my important message to the senator.

And, as promised, the response…

Yours is not the first story I've heard about the organizations's tactics in garnering support for their efforts.

Yours is not the first story I've heard about the organizations's tactics in garnering support for their efforts.

I think it’s awesome that the senator took the time to not only read my letter, but also to form a well-thought-out response.  This certainly does not appear to be a standard reply letter, and it’s good to know that others feel the same way.  Maybe something does get done by writing to your local politicians.

The last paragraph may not be what I needed to hear.