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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 ...

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

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 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

Friday, April 22, 2016

Roundabouts and school buses don't mix

Update 4/25/2016 - This morning, I witnessed an ambulance negotiating one of the roundabouts. The driver was attempting to go on down the road, but to avoid running over the roundabout or going off the pavement, he drove into the oncoming lane, stopped, and backed up in order to direct the ambulance forward. 

Few days ago, I witnessed a school bus negotiate the roundabout at the entrance to my neighborhood, Quail Hollow, in Lexington county, W. Columbia, South Carolina. I've blogged about the roundabout issue before.

The school bus had to run over the roundabout in order to make a left turn, and the bus leaned to the right. Isn't it a joy when tax dollars are put to such good use?

And then there's those pesky emergency vehicles, and people who attach trailers to the back of their vehicles. I saw a person pulling a trailer give up on going around Quail Hollow's other roundabout, deciding instead to make his left turn by entering the oncoming traffic lane. Nuthin' like tax-funded efforts to protect the public...

Wonder why the SC Policy Council isn't screaming about roundabouts as part of the group's outrage (#SCRoadsDebate on Facebook and Twitter) over South Carolina legislators refusing to repair the roads. Roundabouts ain't cheap, the boondoggles are poppin' up all over the place, and I'd like to know who's making money off the scam.

Let's quit wasting tax dollars on roundabouts. Let's repair the roads.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Probate in South Carolina is a racket

Some topics warrant a separate blog, and I published a new one today: Here's a link to my first post, "10 year limit on probating Wills is one of many horrors facing heirs"

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Listen up, AT&T: No home phone or Internet has been a blessing

Update 4/22/2016 - AT&T's sales guy dropped by this wk, SUCH A PLEASURE tellin' him how much I enjoy not being bothered by robocalls, the money I've saved, and the pleasure of putting my tax dollars to work for me by using a computer at the library. I happened to be sittin' on my bicycle in the driveway as we talked. JOIN CONSUMERS UNION'S CAMPAIGN AGAINST ROBOCALLS.

Why should this government - Repukes n Demagogues alike - and its crooked corporate cronies be allowed to terrorize citizens within their own homes?

Over two months without my "service," and the benefits remain well worth any inconveniences. Not being harassed by robocalls is relief beyond measure.

The biggest surprise was receiving notices in the mail that automatic payments for various bills hadn't been received. Really had me puzzled until I remembered that a "rewards" checking account I opened years ago required home phone and Internet. Bank First in Macon, Missippi (AVOID 'em like the plague) never sent any notice, they just suddenly stopped my autopays. Fortunately, I never had to shell out any late fees, and it wuzza pleasure to close the account. Bank First plays the teaser-rate game, and if anyone raked in "rewards," it wuz banksters and AT&T. I can get a better rate with a CD.

Cashing in - pardon the pun - on prior bicycling experience, I've made most of my trips to the pay phone and the library (8-10 milers) on my bike, done most of my shopping along the way, and saved a bundle on gas. Lots of fun, and phone calls have averaged a measly $1.25 per month. The trick is to cut way back on using computers, and I've made great progress.

Of course, I'm getting nasty threats in the mail from those sleazy, robocall-supportin' crooks at AT&T. Their latest absurdity is a bill for $118.09, which I ain't gonna pay. Successful collection efforts will be based on a "Grand Total" of $34.95 per month, and will be for February, March, and half of April. The banditos get nothing for the periods my "service" was "temporarily interrupted," partially disabled, or whatever the bullies wanna call it.

In addition to robocalls, AT&T had been ringing my landline with a tacky little recorded message about their bill, and the day before my "service" was "permanently disconnected," I unplugged all three of my phones. So go ahead, AT&T:


Update 7/15/2015 - My pleasure to send AT&T, SC Dept. of Consumer Affairs, and Bank First a link to this blog post.

Update 8/29/2015 - It'll soon be four months without my "service," and things are going extremely well. Still early in the game, but I'm beginning to doubt that I'll ever pay to have home phone or Internet again.

Update 11/14/2015 - Yesterday marked six months without home phone or Internet. Going into the cooler months will be interesting re the bicycling, but so far so good. I only got one mailing from AT&T's collection agency. When the gang realized they couldn't harass me by ringing a phone, they backed off. Phones have been turned into tools for crooked corporations. 

Update 11/30/2015 - Consumers Union just now exposed our corporate-controlled, paid-off stooge of a Congress for creating a loophole whereby crooked corporations like AT&T can route robocalls to cell phones. I quit participating in America's two-headed, one party SHAM of an electoral system years ago.

Update 12/16/2015 - I love it when AT&T drops by my house lookin' for business and sez it costs me gas to use pay phones and the library. That's when I smile EXTRA BIG and tell 'em about... The Bicycle. It's also been a ton of fun tellin' folks that I no longer have a home phone and explaining why. Bicycling is working out - pardon the pun - better than I expected. Temps have generally been mild so far this winter, but I've taken several rides in the 40's without any problem. 

Update 1/12/2016 - Tomorrow marks eight months, and the winter bicycling is going SUPER well. This morning's ride featured wind chills in the 17-24 range, but with ski gear, I wuz too WARM by the time I completed my 4.5 mile trip to the library. #FUN

Update 1/21/2016 - LOVE the bicycling, and in addition to all the moolah I'm savin' on gas n phone bills, this morning I scooped up a quarter, two coppers, and a nickel - all in one spot - on my way to the library. Hee hee: It PAYS to eliminate robocalls. 

Update 2/10/2016 - Better still is the absence of political robocalls. I quit voting long ago, and the robocall situation epitomizes why. 

Update 3/11/2016 - Winter is quickly winding down in South Carolina, and the cold-weather bicycling turned out to be nuthin' but fun. Couple months shy of the one year mark, and I'm enjoying the absence of home phone and Internet more than ever. It's all in whatcha get used to.

Update 4/16/2016 - 11 months, still goin' strong without home phone or Internet. I appreciate the peace and quiet more and more as time goes by.


Update 11/23/2016 - Since the crooks don't have a way to harass me by phone (robocalls) about the $118.09 bill I DON'T owe 'em, they've offered (by snail-mail) to settle for $64.95. NO DEAL, AT&T. Ya ain't gettin' ONE CENT outta me fer yer deceitful, dishonest ways.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Good riddance, AT&T. No robocalls, I save $80 per month

AT&T plans to throw this rabbit in the briar patch come 5/12 by "permanently" disconnecting my U-verse "service" that they promised me - in writing - for a "Grand Total" of $34.95 per month, then jacked up the price, and I refused to pay. Actually, I view AT&T's high-handed behavior as an opportunity.

For quite some time, I've been concerned not only about a constant barrage of robocalls, but also the fact that I've been spending way too much time sitting in front of my computer. Prolonged sitting isn't good for anyone, neither is the glare from monitor screens. Adding insult to injury, computers tend to be addictive, especially for folks like me who are retired and like to write. I've exchanged one bad habit - watching TV - for another. Fortunately, writing is only one of many interests, and the others cost a lot less than the $80 per month I've been handing over to AT&T.

An extended break in routine is an idea whose time has come, and I look forward to the peace and quiet of not being bothered with robocalls. Never wanted a cell phone, and I refuse to shell out one cent to avoid harassment that greedy, dishonest carriers like AT&T could have eliminated years ago. Things have gotten to the point where I rarely answer my phone. Pay to be harassed? No, thanks.

Last but not least is the satisfaction of not handing over about $200 per year in extra taxes to the corrupt state of South Carolina via the phone-tax scam. Dunno what the state's scumball legislators do with all the revenue they rake in, but they sure don't do anything for consumers. It's been a real hoot watching the South Carolina Attorney General's Office, the so-called Department of Consumer Affairs, and AT&T squirm after I obtained written evidence of AT&T's false advertising and insisted that all communications to "resolve" my complaint with Consumer Affairs be done by e-mail. AT&T and Consumer Affairs - bullies that they are - thought they could force me to go "off record" by AT&T constantly ringing my phone a ridiculous number of times, about 85 on at least one occasion.

America has fallen prey to a government - Repukes n Demagogues alike - owned by unscrupulous corporations. The situation is propped up by a cowardly, brain-dead public that accepts anything dished out by this warmongering, police-state oligarchy and its presstitute mainstream media. Just for the record, I don't blog under any illusion that my efforts will change a thing. Really, folks: I just enjoy speaking the truth.

Will using library computers and pay phones work out? I dunno. It'll be quite a change, but it's worth a try, especially when ya factor in the $80 per month I'll be saving. Considering what I've refused to pay AT&T, I'll come out of the starting gate at least $330 ahead.

Let the game begin.

Update 5/12/2015 - At least for the time-being, I still have partial access to the Internet. I've been without phone service for almost a month, and robocalls have continued, along with efforts by AT&T to contact me by phone instead of e-mail. AT&T is now billing me for $183.76, and I've updated the SC Dept. of Consumer Affairs, encouraging them to refer this matter to the appropriate authorities for an investigation of AT&T for fraudulent business practices.  

Update 5/13/2015 - Speaking of fraudulent business practices, AT&T and other carriers have been scamming customers with unauthorized charges, $50-70 million settlement reached this week with Sprint and Verizon. Kansas Attorney General said it well: "Consumers have a right to know what services they are signing up for and to be clearly informed about the cost of those services." 

Update 6/19/2015 - AT&T disconnected my "service" on 5/13/2015. So far so good without home phone or Internet. KNOWING my phone ain't gonna ring is jus' flat out DELICIOUS, and I have no shortage of better things to do than sit in front of a computer all day. Hope to publish a blog post about how things have been going - in the meantime, here's to PEACE and QUIET. :-)

Update 7/1/2015 - It wuzza hoot seein' AT&T get fined millions (drop in the bucket for 'em, of course) for misleading customers. I agree with remarks posted on Consumers Union's Facebook site: AT&T's customers should be reimbursed.