Featured Post

Tharp case still makes me cry

I initially blogged about this case as it unfolded, then re-titled the blog and condensed my comments. As far as I know, nothing has ever ...

Saturday, August 26, 2017

DHEC refuses to remedy sandblasting hazard in W. Columbia, South Carolina

So-called regulatory agencies in America are a disgrace. I got another example of this sorry state of affairs when I complained to DHEC about sandblasting being done on the W. Columbia water reservoir off Augusta Rd. near the library.

On 8/17/2017 I encountered a fog of particles when riding my bicycle to the library. There were some folks sweeping alongside the road, and I initially thought what I saw was the dust they were stirring up. Work on the water reservoir had been going on for weeks, and I had no idea that particles had been escaping from underneath the cover at the top. When I realized what was happening, it was too late to avoid inhaling dangerous pollutants, and I immediately encountered respiratory problems.

So I complained to DHEC.

They first tried to pass the buck to the EPA due to the potential for lead contamination, maintaining if there was a lead issue, DHEC would not have jurisdiction. And of course the EPA referred me back to DHEC. John C. Ansell from DHEC said he visited the sandblasting operation, determined that the old paint contained no lead, and DHEC refused to take further action.

Using sand for sandblasting has been banned in Europe due to the risk of silicosis,

DHEC's attotide is typical of a corporate-controlled government that establishes regulatory agencies designed to serve the interests of businesses they are charged with regulating. The public is left with little or no recourse short of filing a lawsuit, which, of course, is expensive and risky.

I'm sure DHEC is well aware that lead is not the only concern when it comes to sandblasting. It's ridiculous that the cover placed over W. Columbia's water reservoir would permit particles to escape, much less enough to create a fog. Point is, the cover should function to contain the sandblasting operation instead of fooling an unwary public into assuming protection is in place.

The regulations - see 3a - for the city of Haverhill, Massachusetts exemplify a legitimate concern for protecting the public when lead is not an issue, requiring that "Such blasting operations be sufficiently shrouded and ground covered with tarpaulin to contain particulate matter from entering the ambient air space, to prevent visible emissions beyond the vertically extended property line to prevent public exposure to particulates, and to prevent deposition of particulate matter upon public and other property." 

W. Columbia and DHEC need to clean up their act. 

8/26/2017 update: My pleasure to send  DHEC and the City of W. Columbia a link to this post.





Thursday, May 11, 2017

BAD DOGS at 727 Hook Avenue in W. Columbia, South Carolina

8/21/2017 update - I've now confirmed that at least one other person had witnessed the dogs chase people and had informed W. Columbia police.

8/19/2017 update: Animal control officer Emily Alford "forgot" to take video of the dog attack but filed a report, #1717914. And just for the record, the name of the W. Cola. police officer I emailed complaints to for several months is David Myers. TOTALLY INEXCUSABLE THAT THE DOG OWNER HASN'T BEEN FINED. Law enforcement's latest song n dance is that the attack animal control witnessed only counts as the first offense and therefore doesn't warrant a citation. Ms. Alford also suggested that the dogs may have been upset because of high frequency noises generated by spinning bicycle wheels. In other words, the dog attacks were somehow my fault.

6/28/2017 update - Spoke with someone yesterday who used to walk by the property and was attacked by the same one of the dogs that came after me. The guy said he was armed, had started to draw his weapon on one occasion, but didn't want to shoot the dog, so he had decided to change his walking route. Real shame that W. Columbia refuses to protect people from vicious dogs.

6/5/2017 and 6/16/2017 updates - On 6/5, W. Columbia animal control officer and two other people WITNESSED the largest of the dogs attack me - getting my foot in its mouth - as I bicycled by the property. I had to kick at the dog and dismount in the oncoming traffic lane. Almost fell. 6/16 - W. Columbia STILL refuses to issue a citation to the dog's owner, claiming this latest incident only counts as the first complaint since it's the only attack they've witnessed. I won't belabor the mind-numbing stupidity of W. Columbia's response.

I bicycle by this property, and the dogs first attacked me in December of 2016, coming into the road, teeth bared, getting within inches of my foot. I complained to animal control, and an employee came by my house, listened to my complaint, and said she would speak with the dogs' owner. I thought it kinda strange that I wasn't asked to sign anything, but I figured a warning would be sufficient for a first time

Another attack happened in January 2017, at which time W. Columbia no longer had an animal control department, and I was advised (via Lexington County animal control) to contact W. Columbia police, which I did. They assured me that they had spoken with the "elderly lady" who lives in the house, said the dogs belonged to her children who were out of town, and extra precautions would be taken to make sure the dogs were restrained.

In March 2017, one of the largest, most aggressive dogs came after me again, and I kicked and yelled at the dog while simultaneously riding my bicycle. So I complained to the police, informing them that this was my third complaint since December, but they refused to issue a citation to the dog's owner.

So I consulted an attorney who advised me to complain to Lexington County Sheriff's department, which I did via their website, but I didn't even receive a reply. Then I exposed the situation on Twitter and Facebook, which resulted in an ambiguous reply from W. Cola.

Then I sent an email to Lexington County Councilman Ned Tolar. His "method" of handling my complaint was to ask me to contact him by phone (I had emphasized that I didn't have a phone), and he refused to reply further by email. Perhaps Mr. Tolar doesn't wanna state things in writing. Then again, maybe that was just his lamebrained way of avoiding the matter. Or maybe there's some part of "I don't have a phone" that ol' Ned just can't figure out. Whatever, the jerk is one sorry excuse for a councilman. With the likes of Ned Tolar and Nikki Setzler in office, it's no wonder that government is unresponsive to people's needs.

At this point, it's anyone's guess what will happen next. Meanwhile, if you're in the vicinity of 727 Hook Avenue, YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.

6/4/2017 update - Found a Ned Tolar unstamped flyer on my mailbox yesterday encouraging people to email him about anything. Distributing flyers in such a manner is illegal, and of course ol' Ned didn't say he would email ya back... Probably won't do any good, but I filed a complaint.

5/26/2017 update - another attack by the largest dog coming into the road, teeth bared. Had to yell and kick at the dog while riding my bicycle. On my way back home, I saw a Lexington sheriff's deputy parked alongside the road, and explained the situation to him. He rode by the property and called W. Columbia animal control (apparently they now have one - maybe my tweets got someone's attention), and one of their vehicles showed up at the property. I told their employee what had happened (FOURTH complaint) but they continue to refuse to issue a citation to the dog(s) owner. Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

5/12/2017 update - A reliable source says the problem revolves around W. Columbia relying in the past on Lexington County animal control, but deciding the cost of county service was too high, and pulling out of the deal. Sounds like W. Columbia and quite a few other entities need to be named in a lawsuit if someone winds up with serious injuries or gets killed due to animal attacks.

5/11/2017 update - My pleasure to tweet links to this post to the City of W. Columbia, the W. Columbia police department, the Lexington County Sheriff, and Ned Tolar. In Tolar's case, to make sure he got the message, I also sent him a link via email.

Friday, March 17, 2017

BEWARE of Velocity Federal Credit Union in Austin, Texas

These jerks are a never-ending hassle.

I took out a five-year CD with them, and they never notified me by regular mail shortly before the maturity date. Never had that happen before with any other financial institution. I shudder to think of the penalty I would have paid had I not been keeping a close eye on things. Then they thought of every requirement imaginable for me to obtain my money. First, they wanted me to fax a request to withdraw my money. After I had done that, they "remembered" that I would have to include a copy of a photo ID. Then that had to be sent to management "for approval." Delayed me obtaining my money for two weeks. Totally inexcusable.

Now I'm having a miserable time getting them to send me the amount of interest to report for tax purposes for 2016. They've come up with similar stuff to what they required for me to get my money, even though they are required by law to issue a 1099-INT. They refuse to send me the info by email.

Heed my warning - AVOID 'EM LIKE THE PLAGUE.

3/24/2017 update - The info arrived in yesterday's mail. Velocity waited until Monday to send it - maybe everything had to be approved by management before they could act. Shakin' my head.

3/23/2017 update - Tomorrow will be a week since I published this post and sent Velocity a link. They quickly replied that they would send the 1099-INT by regular mail. It SHOULD have been mailed to me last Friday, but I haven't seen it yet, which is no surprise. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Beaten at its own game, AT&T discounts the bill I DON'T owe 'em

Update 9/14/2017 - AT&T solicited door to door again last Saturday. Always such a JOY tellin' 'em how much money I've saved - now over $2,800 - and how DELIGHTED I am not watching TV and not having a landline, a cell phone, or home Internet. THANKS AGAIN to Consumers Union for their CAMPAIGN to END ROBOCALLS.

Life jus' doesn't get much better. I chose to allow AT&T to discontinue my "service" on 5/13/2015, and I've had FUN GALORE ever since. Not to mention the heavenly peace n quiet that comes with not being bombarded by robocalls. Bicycling to use a computer at the library, shopping n running errands along the way, and using a pay phone has worked out FAR better than I ever DREAMED.

But wunna the ABSOLUTE BEST experiences came a few weeks ago when I got a letter from Afni, Inc., wunna AT&T's collection gangs, discounting my "bill" from $118.09 to $64.95. Not that I trust AT&T or its "enforcers," and actually, over the past year and seven months, I haven't gotten many collection letters from any of AT&T's thugs. Once the goons realize I don't have a phone they can incessantly ring, they back off quick.

Ah, the SHEER DELIGHT of sockin' it to a crooked bunch like AT&T, ANOTHER CORPORATE SLOB that thinks it can kick ALL consumers around with impunity. A gang that uses robocalls and charges exorbitant, deceitful fees to force folks to give up their landlines and buy cell phones. Just for the record, AT&T, if there's anything I HATE, LOATH, AND DESPISE, it's a cell phone. And from asking around, it appears that I've got WAY more company than your presstitute mainstream media friends would have the gullible American public believe.

It'll be such a pleasure to send AT&T and their lapdog, the SC Department of Consumer Affairs, links to this post. I'm not givin' AT&T ONE RED CENT, and along the way, I've discerned a few things that I'll take this opportunity to point out.

If anyone owes anyone anything, AT&T owes ME for at least a year's worth of home phone (landline) and Internet for the $34.95 per month CONTRACT they entered into - IN WRITING - with no mention of any additional fees, taxes, etc. At this point, I'm willing to overlook their illegalities and the inconvenience they've caused me, in exchange for the few months they billed me correctly for, only to fire up their nonsense again, which ultimately led to their cutting off my "service" entirely after attempting to intimidate me with extended periods of "partial service." 

Then there's that threatening collection letter they first mailed me, pointing out that unless I forked over the amount they came up with (I still can't figure out how they arrived at it), I would be responsible for attorney fees, court costs, etc. when their fleet of scumballs - er I mean lawyers - took legal action. Of course, once they realized that I was SERIOUS about not having a home phone, and could actually pull it off, their tone got a lot less threatening.

And factor in over a decade's worth of robocalls (the precipitating feature of this whole matter), which had gotten so bad I usually didn't even bother to answer the phone. AT&T owes me an allowance for all the harassment, essentially cutting my "service" in half. 

I have a suggestion, AT&T.

Let's do what you initially threatened to do. Tell your gang of lawyers to file charges, haul me into court, and let's see what a jury of my peers has to say about the bill you cooked up. I'd LOVE to present that e-mail you sent me with the itemized charges guaranteed for a year, neatly summed up, without further ado as a GRAND TOTAL.I'll even act as my own attorney.

So PUT 'EM UP, AT&T. Yer not scared of a 71-year-old and his antique, steel-framed, easy-ridin' 10 speed bicycle... 

ARE YA?

5/14/2017 update: TWO YEARS without home phone or Internet and I like it all the more as time goes by. Applying a bit of creativity, including rare use of snail mail, I don't even need pay phones. And that's a good thing, since a dumbed-up American public has permitted crooks like AT&T to eliminate pay phones. So far, I've saved about $2,500 and I've also noticed a decrease in junk mail.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

An "unconscious" woman? Gimme a break.

Let's ditch the Orwellian "newspeak" regarding the Sanford rape case. A woman - obviously never before exposed to the ways of the world - got passed-out-drunk at a fraternity party, wound up without her underwear on (we are not told at what point in the "party" it got removed or by whom), and was raped by another drunken punk out by a garbage dumpster.

Neither of them get any sympathy from me, likewise for the Brainless Rants And Tantrums (BRATS) because a judge sentenced one of the drunken punks to six months in jail, with a proviso for serving only three. We live in a "culture" wherein promiscuity rules supreme, confirmed by a never-ending epidemic of STDs, along with a barrage of failed marriages, single parents, unwanted pregnancies, and aborted fetuses. Toss in a nauseating acceptance of sexual perversion along with the popularity of alcohol and drugs, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to discern an out-of-control society coming apart at the seams.

There's nothing unusual about the Sanford case. Similar scenarios are commonplace on today's college campuses. The "evolved" society views sex as a recreational activity, and this entire case is consistent with that sorry state of affairs. The rapist thug's father exemplified this "evolved" society's cynical attitude toward sex when he quipped about a "six month sentence for 20 minutes of action."

America, ya asked for it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Beware of Toro lawn equipment

Toro sure has a clever name. Their advertising is Bull, and their customers get gored. Most of the time, I wound up pushing their "self-propelled" mower myself, which is where the "Personal Pace" kicks in. Mowing speed depends on the terrain and the customer's strength. #ToroSpeak

The self-propel mechanism on my lawnmower became inoperable and neither of the only two Toro authorized repair shops in my area - A-Z Lawnmower Parts in Lexington, South Carolina and Catoe's Equipment in Columbia, South Carolina - could repair it.

A-Z failed twice, and charged me for work I didn't authorize. After their second effort failed, one of A-Z's employees advised me to hold the mower handle with one hand and force the self-propel mechanism down with the other. This is dangerous advice and provides no solution.

The Toro Company offers no help - AVOID THESE BUSINESSES like the plague.

> Update 6/11/2016 - Been sending links to this post, along with a few choice comments, to @ToroCompany on Twitter. Wonder why Toro isn't investigating the matter, intent on finding out why TWO of their "authorized mechanics" didn't repair the mower. TOTALLY INEXCUSABLE. The mower should have been repaired when the first shop, A-Z, had it.

> Update 6/14/2016 - No response from Toro, other than to suggest that I try yet another of their "authorized repair shops." It would be quite a distance from my home, and I know this will be a shocker to Toro, but I have better things to do than arrange to have my lawnmower hauled all over the metro area HOPING one of their "authorized mechanics" will repair a COMMON maintenance issue. I don't have the means to haul it myself, so I gotta pay for pickup and delivery or else ask my neighbor to haul it in his pickup. Toro apparently doesn't care what its customers encounter at its "authorized repair shops." 

> Update 6/15/2016 - How incompetent does A-Z have to be to charge for things a customer DIDN'T authorize, and NEGLECT (twice) to repair the problem that prompted the customer to contact 'em. There appears to be more to this story, and Toro needs to find out what's going on at their "authorized repair shops." Can't blame anyone for concluding that Toro is trying to force its customers to buy new equipment.

> Update 6/22/2016 - An independent mechanic has confirmed that ANYONE could have determined that the problem was worn out gears. All anyone had to do was take off the gear housing to see what the problem was. Time for Toro to explain what's going on. 

> Update 6/24/2016 - The independent mechanic's report (6/22 update) tends to explain why Catoe's immediately refunded the $48 they charged me for 10 minutes worth of work (after my neighbor got me and the mower to Catoe's in his pickup), and weren't interested in dropping by my house to confirm the inoperable condition of the mower, which was locking up and making a loud, rattling sound. A-Z charged me $115 and ignored my request for a refund. Once again, here's the point: Toro needs to explain why neither of their authorized repair shops corrected the problem or offered appropriate advice.

> Update 6/27/2016 - Update 6/27/2016 - The gears (6/22 update) were BEYOND worn out. ALMOST DISINTEGRATED - one part was literally "floating" - would be more like it. Now I'm wondering why Catoe's (the shop I've been using regularly since I bought the mower) didn't replace the damaged gears long ago, because it took quite some time for the self-propel mechanism to get in such bad condition. I had noticed over the years that Catoe's "repair" of the mechanism didn't last very long, and there were shorter periods of acceptable operation each time they "repaired" it. Apparently, there's a "quick fix" via adjusting a cable, but that doesn't correct worn out gears. When I used Catoe's in the past, I had a means of hauling the mower, and when I no longer had a means of hauling the mower, I tried A-Z because they were slightly nearer to my home and charges for pickup and delivery were slightly less. The failure of two of Toro's authorized repair shops to correct the underlying problem - or at least advise me of it - suggests a Toro-involved racket intended to increase sales of new mowers. 

> Update 6/30/2016 - I received an e-mail from someone regarding Toro lawnmowers of yesteryear - here are a few excerpts (emphasis mine):


'The “soft gears” are the “weak link” in the drive system, but you do want them to protect the (far more expensive) transmission from unexpected excessive loads -- as well as the drive gears which interact with these more easily replaced “sacrificial gears.”

Thankfully (and luckily) I never had to go beyond the worn-out wheel gears – after being “ripped-off” the first time at “an authorized repair” shop.

You’re correct.  They just want to “sell you” a new one ...'

Apparently (see 6/22 update), Toro eliminated the "soft gears" and designed a built-in obsolescence as the main gears gradually wear down. Meanwhile, customers shell out regularly - time, money, and inconvenience - for temporary repairs. No wonder Toro refuses to investigate their repair shops.

> Update 7/1/2016 - Talk about sleazy repair shops. A-Z charged $50 for pickup n delivery, and went ahead with other items I didn't authorize (new blade, new starter-rope, spark plug, oil n filter change) and laid on an additional $65. I had told them I thought everything was okay except the self-propel mechanism, but they could give me a quote for anything else before they did the work. Right. Run up a bill for a mower they either knew or should have known was inoperable. A-Z even stated on their invoice that the self-propel mechanism "checked out okay" when in fact it wasn't pulling at all. And BTW, the handle came off the new starter-rope. SPEAK, Toro. Explain what's going on at your authorized repair shops.

> Update 8/22/2016 - Beware of ordering Toro parts. After buying my mower, I thought it wuz kinda strange when every non-authorized-Toro shop I visited - lookin' for a repair shop close to my home - said they couldn't repair the self-propel mechanism on my Toro because they couldn't get the parts. And things got even stranger when the two Toro shops mentioned in this post failed to correct the problem.

Now I know what's been going on.


The independent mechanic I worked with ordered 'bout a $100 worth of parts from Toro in an effort to fix my mower. But alas. TORO'S PARTS WON'T WORK. They only allow the self-propel mechanism to partially function, and only if the mower is running. If the engine is off, the back wheels lock up, so the mower is essentially useless. No wonder Toro's "authorized dealers" didn't attempt to repair the problem. 


Toro is just another crooked American corporation propped up by cowardly consumers who tolerate anything corporate thugs dish out. Meanwhile, Toro contributes heavily to environmental pollution by making sure that lawnmowers that should be operable for many years to come wind up in dump yards. 

I've been e-mailing links to this post and the updates to Toro on Twitter. If they have an explanation, I'll publish it.    

Disgusting facts abt ancient Rome: http://listverse.com/2016/08/23/10-truly-disgusting-facts-about-roman-life/

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Listen up AGAIN, AT&T: One year without home phone or Internet, and I LOVE it

Update 5/20/2017 - Now over 2 years without home phone or Internet, and I enjoy the advantages more and more as time goes by. Not having a phone sure cuts down on the junk mail. And I've now saved about $2,500.

Wow. Tomorrow, 5/13/16, a whole year will have gone by since discontinuing my "service" with AT&T. And what a year it's been.

The absence of robocalls has been absolutely WONDERFUL. I didn't realize just how stressful the daily, decades-long annoyances had been until they ended. For the first couple of weeks, all I wanted to do was sleep, and being retired, I could afford the luxury. In fact, before the "unwinding" ended, I got downright worried.

Ironically enough, when I had a home phone, wunna the worst robocall offenders was United Health Care. They showed their appreciation for my Medicare Advantage business by targeting me with robocalls demanding that I sign up for regular home health-care visits. Much to the medical fraternity's chagrin, I've been blessed with exceptionally good health, take no medications, and have no interest in United Health Care's supposedly optional program. I'd told 'em so more than once, but the robocalls continued, sometimes ringing my phone for up to 50 times. Much more of that - their strategy, perhaps? - and I woulda needed home health care visits.

What a pleasure it was - after I no longer had a home phone - to get a letter from United Health Care - suitable for framing - angrily informing me in big bold print at the top, "We've been trying to reach you." followed by a demand that I contact them. Really.

Okay. This venture has also been about the money, but only in the sense that I don't appreciate being kicked around by a crooked corporation that assumes everyone who can afford it somehow has to have home phone (or surely a -YUK - cell phone) and Internet.

Ah yes, the Internet

I've cut my computer use by 75%, visiting the library has been a ton of fun, and a cute girl who works there even sang to me on my birthday. Top that, AT&T.

To sum it all up, this first year without home phone or Internet has been a delightful experience. The bicycling turned out to be so much fun that I've used my bicycle instead of my car 95% of the time. I've learned new riding techniques, saved at least $1,500, and look forward to continuing this modern day adventure in self-reliance.

 Update 5/18/2016 - My pleasure to send AT&T and the SC Dept of Consumer Affairs a link to this post.

Update 11/19/2016 - Now it's been over a year and a half without home phone or Internet, and I enjoy my new routine as much - or more - than ever. I'll take this opportunity to once again applaud Tim Marvin and Consumers Union for their campaign to end robocalls