Saturday, August 11, 2007

You Can Take The Dog Out Of The Yard...

But You Can't Take The Yard Out Of The Dog

Here's my little Missy, the Turbo Pup...freshly bathed and wallowing in the dirt on the patio...


Friday, August 10, 2007

Comcast Bites

New Blog Effort In The Blogging New year...

Hey guys, take the time to visit my new blog, Comcast Bites. I'm gonna bitch and complain and also report the facts in our efforts to kill the Comcast Internet bait and evil switch business.

They just basically told Pat "tough shisky", because she called to activate the service and she has no proof that the representative told her she could have the $19.95 monthly new customer rate rather than their normal rate of nearly $50 which I could have gotten for moving the account in my name.

Screw Comcast, I have at least an hour each day to moderate this new forum of disgruntled and disenfranchised customers.

Got a complaint about Comcast...I want to hear about it.

See you there...


Three Years Of Blogging

Has It Really Been That Long?

Well folks, 1418 Posting later, and what began as a series of essays delivered to my friends as E-mails in July and August of 2004 is now what you see here today.

I didn't really understand what I was getting into at the time, but I did know that the other side of my brain--the half which I had ignored as a math/science based engineering nerd for forty plus years--was looking for an outlet and words were trying to burst forth out of my finger tips onto my computer keyboard.

On August 10th, 2004 I decided to begin assaulting the world with my rantings, and 34 thousand hits later, here we all are today.

I admit that I do look at the hit counter, but I don't really write to get hits or readers...what I have to say is what I have to say at any given moment of any given day. I've also thus far avoided making you look at advertisement and ads on my site. It's tough passing up 39 cents a day in easy income, but I think that I can make it without making you endure commercialism here in my little part of the Internet.

I'd like to think that some of what I have to say is original and thought provoking, even if the only thoughts I provoke are of you getting onto an airplane and flying to the Georgia coast to beat me to death for my inane stupidity.

Regardless of what you think, thanks for stopping by here once in a while to see what's going on.

You can expect to see some changes and improvements in the blog format later this year, and with the new and improved kitchen facilities here in the new house you'll probably see the resurrection of frequent postings over on my cooking blog, The Redneck Gourmet.

Until next time...

Regards Y'all


Still Beating A Dead Horse

The City Of Brunswick Sanitation Department Sucks...

This morning, being well rested and somewhat settled into our new home here on our little island, I feel like turning my attention back across the Torras Causeway to the mainland, taking a few shots at the government of the City of Brunswick, Georgia in the process.

Don't get me wrong here--I don't dislike the City's government as a whole.

In fact, I think that some parts of it are actually pretty effective. Take my friend Mayor Brian Thompson for instance.

Brian's a real capable, likeable, stand up kind of guy. Further, Brian's willing to stand up and take endless abuse and and allow total strangers to make infinite demands on his time and energy, all for the sum of about $13,000 per year in salary.

How he makes it all work I'll never know.

And, for those of you that are thinking that I'm overstating my relationship with Mayor Thompson, let me say that I've actually been to his house for a party last Christmas, I have his personal cellphone number in my phone, and his wife Heather and I have worked on a number of theatrical & art projects and shows together over the past couple of years beginning long before his election to his present office.

With that and $0.75, I can probably get a cup of coffee at the local Waffle House, but connections are "connections" and I'll take mine where I can get them.

But I digress...

The current problem I have with the City of Brunswick government is with the "Sanitation" Department. That would be the "Departmente de Lempio" for my Spanish speaking readers (if I remember things accurately from my Junior year of High School.)

Any way, when I bought a rental duplex and a couple of vacant lots in the "New Town" section of Brunswick back in 2004, I immediately realized that there was a "little littering" problem in that section of town.

Maybe instead of calling it a "little littering" problem, I should call it a "big littering" problem.

Thinking a bit further, maybe it would be more accurate to say that we have a DUMPING PROBLEM in much of downtown Brunswick, Georgia.

But wait...

The City of By-God Brunswick, Georgia, USA forces everyone that has City water service to also pay for City supplied SANITATION SERVICE...for the ridiculously low price of about $8 per month.

Seems like a good deal to me.

But wait...

IF everyone has government mandated and government supplied "Sanitation Service," why is there litter strewn up and down the street and on every street corner?

Further, why is there wholesale dumping of giant piles of junk curbside, on a continuous basis, on my property and my neighbors' properties over the past 3-1/2 years?

Seriously, if you own property in downtown Brunswick and you don't police it on a monthly if not weekly (or even daily) basis, you will come back to find a giant pile of things like yard debris, sofas and other furniture, children's clothing, and virtually everything else imaginable laying on your grass weeds dirt, curb, and even part of the street.

One time I even had most of an upright piano laying on the edge of the alley behind my duplex.

Right now I have no less that two sofas and another bunch of crap that has clearly been dumped by someone, but not by average citizens that the City of Brunswick has forced to pay for "Sanitation Services." It's not the kind of stuff that people generate from cleaning out their kitchen and bathroom trash cans.

Could people be driving over from Alabama or up from Florida to dispose of their refuse?

Possibly, but probably not.

What I have laying around on my property is stuff abandonded by tenants which have been evicted from or otherwise move out of local rental properties and that is either dumped by the landlord else hauled and illegally disposed of by the landlord's representative(s.)

What we have going on is not people emptying their cans full of paper napkins, chicken bones and watermellon rines onto my curb (although I have had a bunch of bananas and most of a watermellon dumped out there once).

What we have going on is people that should know better using the streets and alleys of Brunswick as a landfill, thereby avoiding paying the local dump fees or tipping fees for bulk items that won't fit in their curbside city supplied trashcan.

I'd like to ask the "Officials" of the City of By-God Brunswick, Georgia, USA one question:

"Why not employ the current logic and just add a couple hundred dollars of dump fees onto everybodies' water bill or property tax bill and see if any better results can be attained--because your current program obviously isn't working?"

I'm waiting for an answer...

[que the sounds of crickets chirping here...]

Any way, you'd probably like to know what the "Sanitation Department" of the City of By-God Brunswick, Georgia actually does have to say about all of these goings on?

Well, first of all, in mid-May they said that they would come out to look at my current pile of trash and quote me a fee to remove it. This after they've already cleaned up similar piles of junk and debris in the past for free and often without me having to pound my fist or even lift a finger to dial the telephone.

After several missed appointments and games of playing "phone tag", now that I'm interested in developing and selling the property, the city has started taking a coy, hardball attitude with me for some unknown reason.

I've already paid a private contractor $300 to have the vacant land cleaned up and the litter removed, but I refuse to pay the additional $700 that my contractor wants to charge me to remove TWO DUMP TRUCK LOADS of crap that is not mine and was not placed on my property with my consent.

Finally in late May I got the head of the "Sanitation Department" to meet me on the property and agree to remove the debris at no cost...BUT, I'd have to wait until the new fiscal year began in June so they could put in a work order and have the money in the City's budget.

Looking at the calendar, it's now August 10th and tomorrow I expect to go over and yet again view the lovely festering, 30' x 20' x 5' high pile of crap that continues to grow as I write (it was still there two Monday's ago.)

I've called the "sanitation department" office several times a day several days each week for the past three weeks and my voicemail messages have as yet gone unanswered. Apparently the "sanitation department" can't afford a secretary or administrative assistant either.

Regardless of the final outcome, I'd like to point out that this is a perfect example of government ineffectiveness and ineptitude. Further, in this case it is also an example of the government attempting to supply a necessary and increasingly expensive service at an artificially low price.

Ten years ago in Atlanta I paid over $30 a month for trash service that didn't include the removal of yard debris, and today the City of Brunswick is trying to provide mandatory trash service for $8.00 per month.

In this case, apparently the low cost of the "sanitation service" is intended to balm the wounds of those that feel put upon by the mandate that the "sanitation service fee" be included in the water bill.

Glynn County does a little better with their $200+ fee included in the annual tax bill, but again the level of customer service verges on abysmal because the real cost of the service is apparently greater than the fee being charged.

The difference is that the county passes the costs directly to the property owner, where the City charges the end user--the tenant or resident--directly. (Too bad that the county politicians don't realize that the end users still end up paying their fee because the landlord just raises the rent to offset the increase in the tax bill anyway.)

What both the City of By-God Brunswick, Georgia and the government of Glynn County officials don't realize is that by meddling in the free market--by forcing everyone to buy "sanitation services" from the government or a government anointed contractor, they are actually preventing the free market and associated competition from competently providing a needed service at a fair cost.

Notice that I didn't say low cost or cheep cost?

That's because everything can't be cheep, other than the quality of the service that you get when you attempt to get something for nothing.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Don't Blame Me

I Didn't Write This...I Just Pointed It Out...

Turn up the volume on your speakers, click on the big arrow button in the middle of the screen, and prepare to be entertained or pissed off, depending on which side of the political spectrum you and your brain reside on.

Seems like a good representation to me, and the only ones I saw missing in the montage was Michael Moore and possibly Ward Churchill.



All Our Crap Is In One Pile Now

Will Someone Please Help Me Unpack It?

This morning I was relieved to find that I didn't need my arms to fly up over my head to don a bandanna and shirt in anticipation of spending five or six hours outside running back and forth in the near 100 degree heat loading things like plants, lamps and mirrors into the Suburban.

I told Pat that if she bought one single other plant and mounted it in a 30 pound ceramic pot I was moving to a Monastery and taking some sort of oath or something. Based on a quick count that I just did, we have no less than FORTY plants here residing in artificial containers full of dirt and water.

I only claim the two sweet potato plants and the single jalapeno pepper plant our neighbor gave us while we were moving. Wasn't that nice, instead of moving the plant with her stuff, she gave it to me to move with my stuff.

Any new plants around here will be installed in the dirt outside, attached to the ground, and will most likely be left here when we move again in thirty or forty years.

I have the kitchen unpacked and pretty well organized, and the great room is in functioning order, but both bedrooms and both offices are still a nightmare of open boxes and misplaced items including one door that has to be moved through the rubble and remounted on its hinges after making way for a huge two piece office desk that someone else gave us during the move.

I think that when people find out that you have a truck showing up at your house on a given day they do an inventory and attempt to avoid a trip to the dump or otherwise discard things that their spouse has that they don't want to have to fool with the next time they have to move themselves.

I swear that I could have doubled our furniture inventory if we had accepted all of the offers our friends and sometime total strangers made when we announced that we were transplanting ourselves four miles south on our little island.

Now I have to shift gears and get back into the engineering consulting business and the construction business and while I'm at it build a giant pyramid for a local marching band to play music around in the middle of a football field at halftime.

See y'all later...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Speed Bumps & Garbage Collection

Symptoms Of Government Ineptitude

OK People, last time I checked, we as taxpayers and private citizens have allowed our government to spend trillions if not zillions of dollars improving our so called "infrastructure."

Even if you didn't know the details at the time, and in spite of things like Minnesota's recent bridge collapse, I'm pretty sure that the average citizen would offhand say that the expense has been worth it overall, because of the improvements in our collective "quality of life."

Well...I actually don't agree, and I am here to tell you that I believe that there are numerous devils in the details of our governments' efforts, and I'm getting a little tired of bumping my head into Satin and his assistant demon's horns and pitchforks over the past few weeks.

Think of it like this...

A hundred years ago, in the rural south, you probably rode a horse down a path to get from your house to town. If you were lucky, you had a dirt road that would support the passage of a horse or mule drawn wagon or carriage somewhere between you and town.

Likewise, if you were a damn Yankee were a city slicker lived in NY city you might drive your 10 HP Model T Ford along brick or cobble stone streets from your carriage house to your office.

Fast forward to today, and probably 98% of the US population has to go out of their way to even find a dirt road to drive on (unless it is their own driveway), because virtually every road in America is paved courtesy of the local, state, or Federal Government.

Potholes are, of course optional, and by the way, we still have a number of unpaved dirt roads down in the middle of the village here on St. Simons Island.

Once the automobile arrived on the scene in a major way, things like driver's licenses and speed limits also became a government provided necessity.

You name it, someone is always willing to ask for it and some bureaucrat will stick his hand in your pocket to pay for it, and down here on a couple of streets near our new house is another government roadway improvement that I've rarely had to worry about in the past...

The "SPEED BUMP." heard me correctly...

"sPeEd BuMpS"

I say that "sPeEd BuMpS" prove that the government is, in many cases, totally feckless and useless.

What total government induced, intrusive, annoying, bullshit sPeEd BuMpS are, in my Redneck Libertarian opinion.

Here's how I see things when it comes to sPeEd BuMpS.

We hired the government to build and improve our roads in the first place, right?

We got tired of riding down dusty, rutted, or muddy dirt roads at ten miles per hour; breaking things off of our car and breaking our spines and butts in the bumpy process.

So along came the government, confiscated some tax money from me and you, and paved nice smooth concrete and asphalt roads with things like curbs, storm drains, stop signs, and traffic lights.

Once things got too smooth and car engines got more powerful, along came speed limits and speed limit signs. The theory was that you were supposed to go fast out in the country and on limited access roads, and slow down on city streets and in neighborhoods like mine.

To ensure that the speed limits and other traffic laws were complied with, next the government collected yet more tax money from everyone and set up police departments with police cars and radar and laser guns to catch the people that chose to ignore the rules and to protect the average citizens while they enjoyed their nice smooth asphalt and concrete paved roads and highways.

But wait, the police can't or won't enforce the existing laws, and as a result a few ignorant inconsiderate assholes thoughtless citizens still chose to ignore the speed limit, so guess what the government does in response?

Instead of doing the job they are already taxing their citizens for--enforcing the speed limits--the government takes even more tax money and "un-improves" the nice smooth asphalt roads that they already stole tax money to make smooth in the first place.

They go out and put in "sPeEd BuMpS."

sPeEd BuMpS.

This is a totally flawed concept--treating the law abiding citizens equal with the criminals.

With the installation of sPeEd BuMpS, every single driver has to suffer the punishment that should be meted out only to those drivers that elect to violate the speed limit, just like making crappy government mandated Trash service part of the Property Tax bill punishes everyone, while not stopping the original crime.

Yes, Pat and I have to drive across at least three sPeEd BuMpS each and every time we leave our house and again each and every time we come home, yet we have already seen little punk assed morons in pickup trucks and grown men in Buicks come flying down the road doing 40 MPH in a 25 MPH zone, racing from sPeEd BuMp to sPeEd BuMp, so what has the whole process accomplished?

Actually, the installation of the sPeEd BuMpS was originally motivated to not only reduce speeds on the streets, but also as a deterrent to people that elected to cut through our neighborhood in order to avoid a major nearby intersection and associated traffic light.

Only the government would impose heavy handed measure after measure after measure onto innocent bystanders in the "public interest" and in the name of "progress."

In the mean time, I wonder if I can get the government to buy me some new filling for my teeth and new shocks and springs from my car and truck?

Probably not...

But ain't Government Great?

Monday, August 06, 2007

One Man's Trash

Another Man's Treasure...

I've really had it right up to here (pointing to the top of my ever greying, ever balding head) with trash services here in Glynn County and the City of Brunswick.

In a little over three days I already have trash overflowing out of my ears and coming out of my butt here at the new house on our little island (located in unincorporated Glynn County), and I also have a virtual landfill on the unpaved ally side of my property over in Brunswick that the head of the Brunswick Sanitation Department has been promising to remove since May.

The problem seems to revolve around government mandated monopolies--in one case one hired by Glynn County, and the second actually operated by the City of Brunswick.

Since Glynn County is the entity most recently to cause their property tax owners to fall victim to this scam bullshit malfeasance, I'll talk about them first.

It seems that a few years ago the County Commissioners noticed there is a bit of a problem with dumping of household garbage and other refuse on private property and along the highways and other "public" property.

Rather than enforcing the existing littering and dumping laws on the members of the "public" which were guilty of causing the problem, the elected County assholes morons Commissioners decided to pass the responsibility and associated costs of their purported solution on to the private property owners of Glynn County.

They did this by hiring a private company to do the trash collection at homes and businesses which did not have dumpsters or other means of refuse disposal already in place, in the process adding the cost of the service to the land/property owner's annual property tax bill. (Our condo had dumpsters and it's own service personnel on site so we were exempt from this mandate.)

No if's, and's, or but's, about it, now if you own a house in Glynn County you will have government mandated trash service...even if your house is unoccupied, burns down, or due to it's condition, is otherwise un-occupyable.

Of course there was a huge public outcry and lots of gnashing of teeth, but in the end the government won out and, as a delayed result, today I had my first experience with Southland Waste Systems and their rocket scientist employees.

Yesterday I found from out my neighbor that Monday was "trash day" here on my street and further, that I had to make sure that my company/county supplied trashcan was not over filled--the lid had to close.

No far so good...

I had a trashcan sitting beside my garage when the moving truck drove up on Saturday, and we'd produced lots of trash since then so I seemed set to take advantage of the service that our landlord was paying for.

Only problem was, what my well intended neighbor did not tell me was that my "curbside" service was not actually at our house's "curbside."

Imagine that?

Oh yeah..the GOVERNMENT is involved, and that means that the meanings of ordinary words are never what you would normally expect them to be.

Evidently, by "curbside" service here in Glynn County, they mean some "curbside" other than MY curbside--a curbside that their giant truck can drive up to and pick up the can with some kind of manipulator arm to do the dumping with.

Any way, a little after noon today I noticed that the truck driver and his assistant busied themselves spending at least five minutes moving back and forth outside my driveway entrance avoiding my trashcan, even having the extra man actually exit the air conditioned cab of the truck to pick up and empty a few recycling containers, but when the dust settled and Pat came home from shopping we found that OUR TRASHCAN WAS STILL FULL.

No note, no gentle reminder, no nothing, just a can full of trash from moving and another week to wait for the next scheduled trash service.

Here's what I'm going to do.

First I'm calling in to the local Radio talk show at 7 AM tomorrow morning to tell my story.

Next I'm calling my county commissioner.

Of course all I expect to hear is lame excuses and promises to do better in the future, but in the end I will probably be told that it is my fault for not asking my landlord how far down the block and on which side of the street to place my trashcan.

I vaguely remember hearing talk show callers in the past complaining about having to have their trashcans 12 feet (or some other random number) from mailboxes, telephone poles, other trash cans) but it didn't occur to me until the damage was done.

What total bullshit.

I live on a cul-de-sac with a one way 12 foot wide strip of asphalt (which badly needs repaving by the aforementioned "county officials") that wraps in and out around giant Live Oak Trees and islands of vegetation.

My house apparently sits in a position where a $7 per hour employee would have to actually exit the air conditioned cab of the 500' long garbage truck in order to retrieve my trash can sitting adjacent to the road anywhere on the frontage.

God forbid that Southland Waste Systems should employ some smaller trucks or hire people to grab hold of an errant but innocently misplaced trashcan every now and then on some of the older narrow inner island streets here on St. Simons.

As is typical with any solution provided by the government, it's ONE SIZE FITS ALL, DAMMIT.

And is also typical with government, the customer is NEVER RIGHT.

Do I have a second on that motion?

All in favor?

Those Opposed?

The yeas have it...

(Next on my agenda...the City of Brunswick's abysmal "Insanitation Sanitation" Department.)

Falling Down & Screwing Up

Best Laid Plans Of Mouse & Man...

Well, we're HERE.

The only problem is, bits and pieces of our stuff is...


By "over THERE", I mean over at the Condo.

Dang it...

We only managed to make two of the five or six final trips in my Suburban yesterday, with yesterday's second excursion featuring a final visit to the swimming pool.

Pat and Missy the Turbo Pup hung out poolside because Pat's back is bothering her, and I spun around in circles moving most of the plants out onto the front patio and loading another load of boxes and the more fragile stuff on board the SUV.

The ambient temperature was about 94 degrees F, with a heat index over 104 degrees F by 6 PM. We came home, unloaded most of our booty, and I collapsed on the sofa.

Then I got back up and, after making a late pizza dinner featuring a funky "eyeballed " crust (the measuring cups got left over at the Condo), I was asleep in the bed by 10 PM.

I woke up at midnight with a huge headache and with every muscle in my body cramping--at least that's the way it felt like.

It was my own fault. I sorta forgot to drink much Gatorade yesterday, and the water and white wine I consumed poolside just didn't get it when it came to replacing the minerals lost while sweating out a couple of gallons of my insides in the loading and moving process.

After drinking a few quarts of Gatorade and jumping around the living room walking like a three legged dog for an hour or so, I finally managed to settle down about four AM and get some more sleep. Come 8 AM I was still groggy and weak and, as a result, today has been a bust when it comes to picking up and moving more stuff from point A to point B.

As a further deterrent, the Weather Channel says that today it's a frigid NINETY SEVEN DEGREES FAHRENHEIT outside, with a heat index near 110, so paying our old landlord another $34 is an acceptable penance for my middle aged slovenly conditioning.

Expert procrastination has ensued all day, using my faint heart and wobbling legs as a mental excuse. I ended up sleeping until noon, then I did manage to open and unpack a few boxes standing inside in AC comfort while Pat made a rare solo jaunt over to Brunswick to pick up some necessities.

Just now when it came time to sneak back over to the condo we realized that Georgia Power had probably turned off the electricity because we were supposed to move last Wednesday rather than Saturday.

Sure enough, after placing a phone call and enduring the inevitable English/Spanish menu questions, we learned the juice was indeed off as of about noon today, but they would be happy to turn it back on for a $22 fee.

Sure...go's only MONEY.

So I'm going to lounge around breaking down empty boxes, pack plastic bags full of foam peanuts, and cram bubble wrap squares back into the original boxes and possibly attempt to stash the whole moving mishmash somewhere up into the attic over the garage.

Then I'm going to write myself an industrial strength rant about the stupidity of the County GOVERNMENT forcing its home owning citizens and landlords to accept paying for trash services in their property tax bill.

No competition equals crappy service, no matter what the stupid "Bureaucrats" and popularly elected "gummunt officials" tell you...

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Pack Me Up & Ship Me To Jamaica...

Well, ninety-five percent of our stuff is sitting here, mostly still in boxes.

Actually maybe ninety-eight percent.

Originally I was just going to move the plants and the framed photos and other flat fragile stuff hanging on the walls, but we managed to run out of room on the truck yesterday, so I inherited having to move anything left over that would fit into the Suburban.

That included Pat's desk, a bunch of chairs and patio stuff, and a bunch of "space storage" bags full of sheets and blankets...crap we'll probably never use again but every woman loves to hold onto "just in case."

So any way, we anticipate making five or six more round trips today, plus having to clean up the place, then we can focus our attention on opening all the boxes and surprising ourselves with what isn't broken and what wasn't labeled, weighs 100 pounds, and is sitting in the wrong room of the house.

I'd really like to design and build us a house to live in down here and get out of this paying rent business, but then again--when the Weather Nerds over at the Weather Channel start freaking out and NOAA puts a big Hurricane symbol on the map heading toward Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia I'm happy that I only own the contents of the building I'm sleeping in.

Speaking of Hurricanes, the Federal Flood Insurance Program (something that I've bitched about as being taxpayer subsidised insurance for wealthy people) threw us a curve ball last week and is making us endure yet another 30 day waiting period before our coverage goes into effect.

Three months premium for one month of coverage...the government definitely put the screws to us on this one if something wet and windy comes roaring ashore here before September 1st.

Still, if the coverage is available and cheep (about $350 per year), I'm gonna sign up and send in a check.

I guess that you could call it "Just Rewards" for being a hypocrite...