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.

American Community Survey?


OK, so you may have read my earlier rant about the census.  This is a continuation of that.  I think.

As a follow up to that…  We filled out & mailed tn the census, then someone came knocking on our door informing us that we didn’t in fact fill out the census and return it in time.  My wife ended up answering all their questions a second time.

As to why I think this a continuation of this census malarkey… the pattern of insanity is the same.  A week or so ago, we got a letter in the mail warning us that a follow up survey to the census was coming, and that we’re obligated by law to fill out this survey.  We received the American Community Survey.  The FAQ pamphlet accompanying the survey evokes Title 13, U.S Code, Sections 141 and 193 – and it goes on to say “Title 13, as changed by Title 18, imposes a penalty for not responding”.  How “land of the free” does that sound?

The scary part is that the pamphlet later says “We may combine your answers with information that you gave other agencies to enhance the statistical use of these data.”  Other agencies? Like the IRS?  Are you going to make sure all my numbers match up?  Is this a lead-in to an audit?

The survey itself actually contains the word “Negro” in the race section.  It says “Black, African Am., Negro” and it only says “White” not caucasian or European or aryan or any other dumb name.  I thought “Negro” was offensive as of the 80’s.  Why doe sit matter if I’m of Hispanic origin?  Why doesn’t it ask then & there if I’m Swedish, or French, or Irish, or Indian, or Hungarian,  or Italian, or Arabic?

Why does it matter how I get to work?  Why do they need to know how many people are in my car on the way to work?  Am I going to be forced to carpool, or pay a “driving alone to work” tax?  Why do they need my work address, or my wife’s work address, or how much we make a year?  Shouldn’t the government already know that?

Did my neighbors get this?  The data for everyone on this street would be totally and wholly different from ours.  I’m not a great representation of the overall neighborhood.

Next time, will we include fingerprints and a hair follicle or cheek swab for DNA cataloging?

I call shenanigans on the whole thing.  It’s a ludicrous waste of money and resources.  In addition to the plethora of  reminders and follow-ups to the original census…  I got the warning letter for this survey, and accompanying the survey itself was a letter (that mentioned that we already should have received a letter about the letter we are reading), a 16-page “guide” on how to fill out the survey, a glossy “FAQ” brochure, and the return envelope.

In case I went over it too fast just now… I’d like to just focus on this one thing for a moment.

We got a letter (we’ll call it letter 1) telling us that a survey was coming and that we were obligated by law to fill it out.  Then, we got the survey along with another letter (we’ll call it letter 2) telling us that we should have gotten a letter telling us that the survey was coming, and explaining that the big fold-over in the envelope that says “American Community Survey” is a survey that we need to fill out, expressing that it’s required by law.

I’m sure well get  a follow up letter (if I get it, I’ll call it letter 3) saying that we should have received a survey and by now filled it out, as required by law.  This just sounds like something that belongs in a Monty Python sketch.

Through the magic of the internet, I have found all of the pieces…

arrow Materials Included in ACS Mailings

Ah, I may also get a reminder card.  I forgot about the reminder card.

I have a hard time believing that I’m going to benefit in any way from this survey, but I’m guessing only time will tell.

I didn’t forget.  There was a guide that accompanied the survey.  I’m guessing that if I couldn’t understand the questions in the survey… the guide’s not going to help me out all that much.  I’d love to meet the think-tank that comes up with this brilliance.  You know it’s a committee or group… no one person would or could be responsible for this kind of crap on their own.  Poking around their website, it appears that a shocking amount of time and research has been dedicated to this task.

How are the tree-huggers not all over this wasteful paper usage?  I mean, the waste here offends me… and I’m still not convinced that recycling is all that efficient in the first place.  I mean, there is a reason to conserve what resources we have, and make sure that when they’re used  it’s somewhat necessary.  (A letter telling you that you’re going to get a survey, a letter saying you should have already received a letter and that you now have in your possession a survey, and a letter saying that you’ve already received a survey that you should have filled out would all be unnecessary in my book.)

Is this all just a ploy to keep the Post Office in business?

I just may have to write to some politicians and ask about all the waste associated with this whole thing.  In the past I’ve heard from Gov. Ed. Rendell and Senator Wayne Fontana.  Maybe I’ll have to reach out to them again with my concerns.

I need to collect my thoughts & start sending letters to people in the government to let them know what I think.  Will it do any good?  Probably not, using the redundancy and bureaucracy of the census surveys as an example.  At the end of the day it may make me feel better if nothing else, as I’m still able to speak my mind.

The more I see/read the word census, the more it sounds like senseless.

Cut out the paper waste for a second, and think just about the time wasted.  If you did this kind of crap at work, can you imagine what your superiors would have to say about your productivity and efficiency?  Yet, we accept this from the government.

Hey Gilligan,

This is an email to say that I’m going to send you an email to ask you a question.

Hello again Gilligan,

This is the email where I’m going to ask the question.  You should have already received the email where I told you that I was going to ask you a question.

The question is: Do you like coconuts?

The Skipper wants an answer, he’ll be mad if you don’t tell us.  If we knew if you liked coconuts, it might help Mary Ann in preparing dinner.  We know you’ve already talked to the Professor about island cuisine, so we may factor that into our decision.

Dear Gilligan,

I have sent you an email asking about your thoughts on coconuts, the Skipper wanted us to remind you that you were already supposed to have answered the coconut question.

Now.  How ridiculous is that?

Oh well, it’s late… I’ve jumped all over the map and page with this as I’ve searched the internet for these documents and more questions and what not, and feel that I’m losing coherence… not that I definitely have any in the first place.  I’m lost in all the letters about other letters about other letters about other letters  Maybe I need to write blogs telling you that I’m going to write blogs, then write a reminder blog that I wrote a blog.

Confused about Pizza Hut & Taco Bell?


The last post was going to have some explanation, but my dumb ass hit the “Publish” button instead of the “Save Draft” button.  Perhaps because the Publish button is blue and shiny, or perhaps because I have a problem actually reading the screen.

Some of you may have seen my blogs posts, and think I’m a little “off”.  Well, you’re right.  But, I do post these things with an odd sense of humor.  Sometimes I write serious complaint letters, sometimes I write ridiculous letters just to be ridiculous.  More often than not, the lines get blurred.  My guess is that you either get it, or you don’t.  If I have to remind you that I really don’t expect every restaurant out there to cater to my special dietary needs, it ceases being funny.  (If it ever was in the first place.)

If you’re not quite sure, or new to my insanity, I’m going to try to recap the latest ongoing saga involving Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.  I hope to intertwine this with some other chaos soon.

So, that brings us to our “what’s happening now is happening now” moment.

Liberate Beer Sales in PA (from Sheetz)


You may have read my previous post about beer sales at Sheetz, this is a continuation of sorts.  I received an email from them today that I felt that I should pass along.

Here it is…

Liberate Beer sales in PA

Hey Sheetz fans!

Beer - Locked UpSheetz is participating in a state-wide initiative in Pennsylvania to change laws on alcohol sales in the state. These laws have been on the books since the 1930’s and we think it’s high time they be updated! Join us in this effort by signing our petition at www.freemybeer.com or looking out for people who will be positioned at some of our PA stores collecting signatures over the next few weeks.

Customer convenience and freedom to purchase beer in grocery and convenience stores is something that people enjoy in most other states across the US. In fact, in May 2009, Pennsylvania’s shoppers indicated by an overwhelming majority (70%) that they wanted to be able to make beer purchases like the rest of the country. So we are asking, why not?

We want to get as many signatures on petitions to help get legislators to hear what we’re saying and hear what their constituents want and change the law on beer sales.

Simply put, we already sell beer responsibly in 5 other states that allow us to and people can buy a six pack on their way home or while on vacation and it’s totally convenient. You should be able to have that freedom here in Pennsylvania too.

So we need your help. Go to the website and vote “YES” to beer sales or sign one of the petitions circulating at our stores. This will be a powerful way to achieve the end goal — you buying a six-pack in a convenience store!

You can help make it happen. Let’s do it!

Thank you,
The Sheetz Team

*Must be 21 or older to participate.

This email was sent to: [Me@myemailaddress]

This email was sent by: Sheetz, Inc.
5700 Sixth Ave. Altoona, PA 16602

If you no longer wish to receive emails, unsubscribe here

Copyright © 2009 Sheetz, Inc. All rights reserved.

Not that I’m an alcoholic or anything, but it’s ridiculous that we don’t operate like the surrounding states on this issue in 2009.

I signed the online petition & sent emails before, and yesterday in store I signed a paper petition.

The government shouldn’t have useless control over these types of issues.

Want Beer @ Sheetz?


I know, the following is just a form letter in the modern age… but it’s good to get acknowledged. Plus, we already know that Senator Wayne Fontata reads his mail (thanks to the idiots at Clean Water Action)!

While at the Sheetz website, I discovered a sweet little link at the bottom that enables you to fire off an email to your local politicians to let them know that you’re in support of Sheetz being allowed to sell beer in its stores. Juts click the Take Action button and it writes the letter for you, and sends it to your State Senator & State Representative. How awesome is that?

It’s 2009 and PA’s beer & liquor laws are beyond antiquated, end of story.

Forwarded Message —-
From: PA Senator Wayne Fontana Fontana
To: me@myemailaddre.ss
Sent: Fri, November 13, 2009 4:37:37 PM
Subject: Re: Freedom to Purchase Beer in Convenience Stores

Mr. Carroll ~

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding your interest in seeing beer available at more locations.

As you are probably aware, there has been great deal of discussion on this issue – both in the positive and negative. I agree with you that our laws are antiquated, but believe that we are slowly seeing change – both in new law and in legislation that is being considered. This remains one of those issues that we will need to continue to work on to address the concerns that have been raised. I have noted your support for this effort, and will certainly share it with my colleagues and take it into consideration should we have the opportunity to vote on related legislation.

Again, thank you for your communication. I look forward to further communication with you on this and other issues that are of interest and importance to you.

Senator Wayne D. Fontana
42nd Senatorial District
www.senatorfontana.com

>>> <me@myemailaddre.ss> 11/12/2009 8:31 AM >>>
Eric Carroll
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Pittsburgh, PA XXXXX-XXXX

November 12, 2009

The Honorable Wayne Fontana
Pennsylvania Senate
Senate Box 203042
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3042

Dear Senator Fontana:

As a Pennsylvania voter, I want to add my name to the growing list of
those who are asking you to consider making a change to Pennsylvania’s
beer laws.

It is hard to ignore how backward our beer laws are in light of the recent
ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court against Sheetz – taking its
license, because it did not allow for on-premise consumption.

At their worst, these laws encourage drinking and driving. At the very
least, the current laws are incredibly outdated.

Let me be clear. I want to be able to purchase alcoholic beverages in
convenience and grocery stores. Please support the call for common sense
beer laws and bring the convenient purchase of beer to the Pennsylvania
consumer.

Sincerely,

Eric Carroll

This message and any attachment may contain privileged or confidential information intended solely for the use of the person to whom it is addressed. If the reader is not the intended recipient then be advised that forwarding, communicating, disseminating, copying or using this message or its attachments is strictly prohibited. If you receive this message in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete the information without saving any copies.

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.