Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Solyndra Dynamics

Solar energy is the best alternative energy resource we have.

I was actually proud that Obama decided to 'invest our money' in Solyndra because I'd seen that technology on TV a year before and was incredibly impressed by it's potential.

A Leisurely Stroll with Good Friends
Face it, we'll never know all the money the Bush's invested in anything, much less any money the entire country would have potentially profited from.  They only thing they're openly transparent about is that they're personally rich (and GW, 'dumb').  Oh--and that they both get the very best seats at Ranger's games.

Good Times...Bad Times
(at least we got good seats)
Before the recent media-generated widely-publicized political fallout over Solyndra's supposed pre-destined doomed status, they actually were the industry-leader in a field showcasing the biggest potential advance in solar energy's history.

Scientific American reported on the idea in 2008, in this article, complete with pointed, positive references to Solyndra themselves.

Shame is, with all his potential power, Obama didn't have some intelligent patent lawyers look into the company, because it turned out that Solyndra's technology was SO good that, as soon as its competitors saw the gaping loophole that they hadn't decided to copyright their product properly to protect investors, they grabbed it for themselves, and only then, WE ALL LOST.


The technology is based on a simple idea that you could generate a LOT more energy PER AREA by simply wrapping a long tube in the same old solar panel, then paint the surface they're mounted on white to reflect any sunlight missed back up onto the underside of the cylinder.

I'm no genius myself, but I've had some ideas I'd considered acquiring patents for, so I'm familiar with the United States patent website that I know this idea would be considered an 'adaptation-type' patent--a pre-existing idea that was made better by a simple adaption.

In this case, it was wrapping the original product around a tube--that's all.

So, it was inevitable that other companies charged after the idea as soon as they found out they could, and began producing it in-house themselves.

Patents may be expensive, but any company mass-producing such a progressively advanced version of the traditionally costly-to-manufacture 'energy of the future' should have undertaken some serious efforts to legally protect their product.  Solyndra's problem was, they didn't.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What Price Football?

Jerry Sandusky
Man as Monster
The level of secrecy in place at Penn State is far beyond any Stephen King scenario I've ever heard of...all you have to do is swap some small, white-picket-fence Maine locale with Penn State, and only then is it possible to hear what is coming out of there now with any level of comprehension at all.

The recent reports that ex-coach Jerry Sandusky used his position, even his charity, to gain the trust of his community, and eventually began sexually abusing young boys, is is by far the most damning thing I've ever head of occurring in any sport administration.

The smallish Pennsylvania community that apparently hid this from the world should be seriously investigated with an interest in what evil they collectively harbor to quietly allow this to go on for decades--and, in fact, go to great efforts to hide it even now.

With all the talk about the regional Pennsylvania policies regarding the privacy they shroud themselves in, we should forgo the media proceedings and get on toward pushing for subpoenas and governmental intervention, especially in disallowing this state--and all others--from gathering such legal power to avoid the same transparency to which we rightfully hold our troubled government.

'Pa' Familia and Creepy Pal
That this secrecy was sought after prior to these events, is one evil--that it was granted among all the other proceedings to make our very gov't more transparent, is tantamount to granting these corrupt, evil men the same power that enabled high-ranking Catholic ministers to do the same type of thing. Worse, it's like granting any local priest with perverted tendencies the same power as the Vatican itself.

Watching this haggard, tired, and worried mother being interviewed on Anderson Cooper now, I'm most surprised that her son's school allowed Jerry Sandusky to come there and remove her child from school WITHOUT her consent, permission, or even notification of any kind. In fact, it was evident that the school principal who enabled that charade was not only behind it himself, but also could have attempted to hide that it ever happened from this mother.

It's hard to believe--but, if true, the school principal allowed the child to leave with Sandusky WITHOUT HER KNOWLEDGE, for hours at a time, even quite recently, then proceeded to level veiled threats toward her when she called them to account for their (in)actions...the principal, she said, warned her to "think what could happen" should she go to the police with her concerns (almost immediately after he asked her to help him try and look up Sandusky on the 'Megan's Law' website)...
Geragos with his previous client Scott Peterson
(now on death row for killing his wife Laci)

So many 'special places in hell' that the devil probably has to hire more architects and contractors every day; but one person who earned a place like that, for me, was Mark Geragos (the attorney who defended Mark Peterson), who showed up between Sunny Hostin and Jeffrey Toobin on Anderson Cooper's panel tonight; from the start, Geragos did his best to cast doubt and raise shameful, negative (immediately shown false by Cooper, BTW) proponents to his argument that the mother of the 1st child should have, quote "called 9-1-1" while sitting in the child protection services office ITSELF (tantamount to calling 9-1-1 from the ER, BTW)...

Geragos wrangled two or three minutes out of his shameful display, even after both Toobin and Hostin began openly displaying their astonishment and exasperation with his mindless and libelous, insulting behavior. Hostin pretty much gasped--Toobin, too, expressed his disbelief, with an incredulous look, his own gasp, and a comment or two on Geragos' ridiculous prattling.

One Sexual Predator
Representing Another
Sandusky's attorney Joe Amendola himself committed a sex-crime. Back in the 90s, he had sex with his 16-year-old client-turned-intern Mary Iavasile, getting her pregnant, later even marrying her (when he was around 49). He has represented other known sexual predators himself, as well. See this article.

Ray Gricar, the former District Attorney
Missing Since 2005
And this morning, reports are now being released of the story of the disappearance of the previous District Attorney who was given evidence of the very first abuse case back in 1998. Ray Gricar--who would have been prosecutor over the case as it stands now--disappeared in 2005, but not before using his home computer to search the internet to learn which software to buy to completely erase his laptop hard drive. After his disappearance, his car, laptop, and separately, that laptop's hard drive, were each found in or near a local river nearby. He has never surfaced anywhere since, leading many to speculate that his disappearance had something to do with the cover-up in 1998--that he had enough incriminating evidence on his laptop hard drive against Sandusky (and indeed, the entire Penn State staff/admin) to put Sandusky away.  Click here to see the NY Times article does the best job of describing the strange details surrounding this aspect of the case.

It must have been enough to cause him to disappear.  Did he make some local deal with Penn State admins to ditch the evidence back then, only to be murdered for the 'Program's sake'?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Breast Cancer "Mammorial" Display Problems

Over the past few months, a local physician specializing in MRIs and other computerized imaging processes has had a street sign in front of his local office--on a main thoroughfare--exposing passerby to a large number of bras; this, in his effort to promote Breast Cancer Awareness, and the seriousness of his commitment to providing assistance in diagnosing, and hopefully preventing, this dreadful disease.

It's a very serious issue--but his sign has led to several letters to the editor of the local paper (both in defense of, and criticism of, the sign, it's appropriateness, its message, and its affect on the community), local commentaries by the same paper, and other news media reports of various kinds.

I personally have never driven by it and laughed, giggled, or even smirked, because I know that cancer in general is not a joking matter, nor will it ever be.  It's not appropriate to joke about a disease that kills so many in such a merciless, often slow, process, seemingly draining the very spirits of those affected by it.

At best, what I'd like to say is that the 'display' pushes the boundaries of what is considered appropriate--possibly even locally so--in order to do what it's intended to do: raise awareness.  It has worked to do that--even a few local women who claimed breast cancer had affected them personally wrote in to publicly question the sign's affect, or even its intention in general.  No matter the 'right side', no one can deny that the sign has had its affect, that the phenomenon definitely deserved some attention, or even that there are much less appropriate, or important concerns which routinely receive much less attention, or even much more of the inappropriate kind.


One can look at many comedy acts today and wonder how much time the comedian put into looking for humor, or even finding something laughable; sometimes, I wonder what they must think of their audience, with the subject matter premeditated into their acts.  Many times, they are met with mixed reactions of glares, stares, and audible gasps, with their treatment of even some of the more horrible aspects we are routinely confronted with, especially in a media we appear to have very little control over (besides the remote, and consumer habits).

This recent Halloween night, that sign was vandalized--it was set afire by some bunch of local idiots.  Aside from the remote possibility that this vandalism kept them from doing something else more recklessly idiotic that night, there isn't much positive that could come from their having done this.  It plainly indicates more deterioration of our local moral fiber, that somebody is always willing to vandalize somebody else's property, and just that people can still do some pretty stupid stuff.

Amazingly, the sign was right across the street from our local Steak & Shake restaurant, which is always highly populated by the local police, as one of the few places they can meet centrally to eat at all hours, night and day; so I wonder how the hell these idiots pulled off their little scheme without some planning (which makes me wonder if they're an active part of our local workforce, or maybe need some help finding work).

Regardless of how people locally viewed this sign, or even its affect on local views of breast cancer, I have little doubt that somehow the sign pulled off its purpose with much less disdain and 'aftershock' than a local sign similarly attempting to draw attention to prostate cancer sufferers, patients, and even victims.

Life constantly forces us to make difficult, and sometimes ridiculous decisions, commitments, and then seems to wait while the results of those decisions play out right before our eyes.  I thought the breast cancer sign a harmless, almost intentionally silly and light-hearted way to make a point.  But I am also quite thankful that the same imaging specialist has never (yet) decided to display a similar sign to gather attention (worse yet--'support') for his clients whose lives have been affected by prostate, or, God forbid, rectal or colon cancer...

Yet.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Open Letter to the USPS: "Just Drop that First S"

When I see and hear all the news about our vainglorious United States Postal Service having screwed up all its finances and over-expanded to the point it needs to drastically and radically 'downsize', and all the internal hub-bub and protesting going on, all I can think is that they deserve it, and we've always deserved better.

The United Parcel Service has never had such problems, and, despite its astounding workload, has readily and quickly adapted to fill its daily obligation to its customers.  They've also been handling regular envelope mail (if slightly over-size) for years without incident, and their track record--as long as you don't count their ill-fated hand-off partnerships with the USPS--is sterling, as far as corporations can ever be.

So, we should just let them handle the USPS's business.  Not necessarily clean up their messes, and definitely hire some of the better workers from them, but mainly, just allow them to benefit from the USPS's internal screwed-up, well-deserved bad reputation resulting from its just horrible poor service (always bad in a service industry, BTW).

Despite all the crying, protesting, and squirming of local USPS employees, I can think of nothing that would better serve the public once again.  When I see all the national protests, I'm always too busy thinking of how much mail sits in transit, undelivered, to even listen.  It's been a bad ride for the last, oh, my whole life, to even stay on the channel and tolerate this anymore.  You'd think they were all raising 15 kids, the way they talk about supporting their families, and the guilty looks they toss at passerby.

We should all realize how much we've been misled by the public spin given this 'story' by the media.  These aren't people without training, skills, and opportunities.  They are instead a highly-trained group of skilled workers who were hired for their often-blind, quietly-passive, following and instruction-taking skills--except that hiring sessions were, over the last decade, often tainted by open assurances by the USPS that hirees would make tons of money themselves.

You've Come a Long Way, Baby!
In 1996, I myself responded to a local newspaper ad to take the 'Postal Exam' test at our local university; I showed up, took the test, and was called to 'try out' at the local Encoding Facility.  The original print ad had stated only that the exam was for postal workers, so I'd wanted to be out delivering the mail itself, not--as things turned out--confined in a cubicle at a terminal dedicated to 'helping' their internal optical character recognition system sort mail to local regions.  During the 'try-outs' I tired of the boring and tedious nature of this work, which reminded me glaringly of old psychological films of chickens trained to play tick-tack-toe for feed (for the record, there were never any thin chickens in those films--they ended up nervous, fat peckers).


Happier, Liberated Chicken
Worse, I tired of hearing the carny-style verbal pitches by all the organizers of the hiring 'event' (most of whom you could easily tell had never worked daily jobs for the USPS themselves), touting the financial glories all workers would achieve should they proceed into the final stages of the selection process and be hired.  You'd think these fattened-chickens were working toward a degree in WWE; or the Nazi party.  It was ridiculous, and by the third day, not only were the nerves in my hands destroyed, but also my image of the Postal Service as well.  They were greedy, misleading thugs operating a ponderous, inefficient, and now over-glamorized circus-style sweatshop.

You Do Want that Integra, Yes?  Then Get To Pecking!
I realized not only that this wasn't the job I'd applied for, it was a work-place I'd hate, and further, that it just wouldn't last, as the jobs at the site were only in existence to correct the millions of mistakes made per-hour by their terribly over-automated, and ridiculously dumb, computerized-sorting system.  Again, the people working their were like chickens; pecking meaningless codes into their otherwise useless terminals, all day (and night) long, driven by incentives that were even more ridiculous.  For example: one 'hiring team member' constantly raved about how much money employees were going to be making, even though this was an entirely new facility, and one of only around six in the entire nation.  It was like being in the middle of an indoctrination, rather than a legitimate hiring process.  I think I remember one other person questioning this reason, but all reason was lost after the 'hiring team member' yelled out "You know that Acura Integra you've been wanting?  Well, this is the job that will get you that car!"  It was like watching an Oprah episode where they found keys under their seats (except in this case, only one winner with 'real keys'!).  As people 'got on board', I recognized I'd never be delivering the mail in this job--I'd just be getting fatter, lazier, and insanely dumber--so I got out; I intentionally fouled up during the last week of the process, got paid for wasting my (and their, apparently) time, and took another job locally, ruining my vehicles delivering newspapers.
To this?  'Thanks', boss!

From this...
I often use that experience to sift through the various USPS media releases, and even the smaller local protests and stories, for any indication things have gotten any better, and made the USPS an organization worth having, much less funding.  After all, they seem to intentionally allow their status as a lifelong icon with heritage to cross the line as an image with a federal economic anchor, even though any ambitions as such have long been lost to other carriers--some of whom took away from the USPS then failed themselves (DHL).  Doubtless, the USPS Company has oft-used any kind of federal manipulations it can to undermine their competition, even while providing much less real service than their competitor.

More 'Things that make you go Hmmm'.
There are some real reasons the USPS deserves an absolute buyout by their major competition, UPS.  It's like the difference between Ford and either GM, or Chevy, in that Ford didn't accept government billions in a down market--instead, they waited for it to play out, made their own business even better, and even played the 'donor card' in a recent ad--which was immediately yanked after pressure from no less than the White House itself (yay, liberty and democracy!).  See this article from the Detroit News for reference.

I was right about the confining nature of the job; but even more right about my observation that, despite what the hiring team was told to say (and gleefully reporting all along the process), this was a temporary opportunity--a temp job--until the USPS got some better software and tech toys to sort the mail automatically.  This was only alluded to occasionally by the hiring team--all very motivated people in the most anonymous, fly-by-nighter, high-pressurecarnival-barking style.  The area's RCE (Remote Encoding Center) was closed in under five years, and now those people drive their Hyandais to work at AFNI, Community College, or maybe just walk to Walmart to shop sometimes, if they're lucky.

The data online for a search on 'USPS Remote Encoding Facility closures' is so profligate that I'm just putting a Google search result link here.

The whole thing seemed scandalous to me, but done under the auspices of the USPS, it was almost as if the younger folks they were indoctrinating were just along for the ride, a perfect flush during a perfect quail hunt, if you will.  Once the inductees were flushed from their own lifestyles, they were made into the perfect fools for this temp hiring process.

Some bigger indicators of the USPS's failings have been there for decades, while some have come more recently.

Here are a few notables, in my opinion:

'Going Postal'
Memorial of the 1986 post office
shooting incident at Edmond, OK

Ever wonder where the phrase came from?  Not if you're over 25, hopefully, because here is one uniquely-American phrase we should never forget (or allow to bear repetition).  This nefarious, negative phrase originated in the United States during the mid-eighties, and was popularized by the media until it found its way into regular usage  by anyone wanting to make a case that someone else is 'nuts for no apparent reason'.

The various uses of the phrase today rarely ever pause to relate its origin, but often still come followed by a dreadful melancholic pause, because it was never funny--but instead, pathetic, dreadful, and psychologically-tinged with pathos, as in the more common modern uses of the words apathetic (when describing our declining national outlook), and the use of the word pathos (when describing a sickly-engaging movie).

For those born after the mid-80's, the phrase originally was coined by the media to refer to a (likely dead)  person who, seemingly without warning, snaps, and goes on some kind of killing rampage, often after raging silently for years at an increasingly oppressive, over-demanding, and unrewarding job (as in the USPS jobs that--even then--lacked any redeeming qualities).  Many times this unfortunate incident killed off innocent bystanders, even hapless customers already made to wait in line at the post office.  Worse yet, many of the incidents that gave rise to this sinister phrase were preceded by the killer's desperate pleas to his supervisor, or even higher-ups, begging for better working conditions.  Most often, with the USPS, the 'condition' requested--even begged-and-pleaded-for--have been mere better pay.

For years, the United States Post Office has seemed to foster and promote it's own corporate image, while apparently, internally failing to the point of absolute bleakness from within.

From 1986 to 1997, over twenty incidents occurred, involving more than 40 people murdered by American postal workers.  Following every incident, details emerged later that involved severe stresses being forced on the worker, mostly in the way of an over-demanding job, in an 'unfeeling' environment (my words--most involved cases where workers had filed formal grievances over work conditions, which had been ignored and worsened).

See this wikipedia article for more info. (Be ready to be depressed).


The 'Forever' Stamps

Let's go buy grandma some stamps (before she does).
Everybody recognized the 'necessity' of the 'Forever Stamp' from the start.  It was the USPS saying, "We're going to raise the rates indefinitely, so we're putting out a stamp now that'll give you the opportunity to pay a higher fee now", with the unwritten, malingering thought "and yes, we're worried we won't last 'til next year" left wide open.

The media was reporting postal service office closures all over the United States.  The prevailing consumer attitude was, generally-speaking, 'Quick--call grandma and stop her before she goes out and buys a lot of these things'.

I mean, how long could they last?  The cloudy fortune of the USPS had already made the mainstream media, and most everyone not working for them was unhappy with almost every aspect of their service as well.  So, why would people go out and buy a stamp that was an open declaration of a failing company's last stand--an act of desperation made worse by the USPS attempts to make this a 'saving throw' to their own crippled infrastructure.  They released emotional press statements encouraging people to buy the new 'Forever Stamps' in order to save the good ol' Postal Service from extinction, basically--but they'd been driven out of business by their own greed, first, and, all throughout, their own incompetence (in failing to compete with the better-run, better-managed UPS).

Blaming eBay for Insufficient Postage

It's become a real pain to have to scan for eBay auctions that avoid the USPS's messed-up 'at-home' label printing system.  Sellers often send you an item only to surprise you with insufficient funds, and if you're not available (IF your postal delivery-person has the time to go to your front door) to pay the extra fee, you get a notice in your mailbox saying you will now have to bring the ticket down to your local post office and pay the unpaid postage before you can receive your package.

Many times, this is cause by eBay sellers who intentionally get around the official USPS postage system by printing their own labels at home until they get enough complaints to eBay that their accounts are closed.

Your postal worker, and the postal service, is right to blame the seller, but one thing has been missing in this blame-game from the start--an improvement in the USPS online label system in general.

They could stop all this by just restricting labels printed at home to those running actual businesses at home; or, they could have merely placed more restrictions on certain eBay account-holders who have made this a habit (eBay would stand to benefit from this, too).

If the Postal Service was really in the black, and doing well, on their own ledgers, we'd have seen dedicated little scales offered by them years ago, which, for a miniscule fee (due to the sheer volume of eBay business coming their way), could prevent people from underestimating the weight of their sold items, and end all this right away.

But, it hasn't happened--and this is a characteristic of a business solely run for profit--as in the local car lot that sells used cars without a mechanic's shop inside, or the cell phone company concentrating more on overage fee policies without restricting the phone's actual functionality during overage times.

As a small businessman who often 'relents' and buys computer parts from eBay which can't be purchased locally, or even regionally, at retail parts vendors, this situation has haunted me more than a dozen times in the last two years alone--especially when I've promised a local customer their computer by a certain time depending on the tracking number's report of the location of their item, only to find a note in my mailbox reporting the eBay vendor did this....and especially on a Friday, or Saturday!


"Please Leave Your Complaint at the Beep"

Over the past five years I have noticed a decline in the local post office's ability to deal with local calls, regardless of their nature.  Whether you are dealing with a terrible delivery-person, previous resident's mail coming to your box, or even someone stealing your mail, you won't be talking to a local, real person, it seems, ever again, if the current USPS policies stay in effect.

Not that there isn't a local telephone number listed for them--there is here, anyway--but you will never be able to use it to talk with a human being, much less any kind of supervisor, again.  Your call will be routed to a mailbox that reports that it is 'Full', and you will then be hung up on.

Nice...so, what, then?  Wouldn't it seem ridiculous to call some national 'hotline'?  Even worse--imagine the defunct state of things if and when you finally broke down and related your story/needs to a national online form of some kind?

Well, that's what you're getting--unless your town is a town, anyway.  When your town 'grows up' and becomes a 'city', then you'll feel the big-city pain of anonymity in this new, profoundly ridiculous, way.  Get used to it--it's not a good thing, but it's been propounded by a USPS that is unwilling to make changes to get better, and instead seeks to constantly get you to throw money at it in the way of unearned, higher fees.

That's what's wrong with the USPS--more demands should mean a balanced budget paying higher salaries and increasing the quality of services, not necessarily the sheer number of them.  It has become a ponderous, bureau of mindless, robotic corporate decisions based on that bottom line, with no attention to 'how' along the way, at all.  It's hit rock-bottom.

Not UPS, which has continued to make strong headway in the area of steady growth.  Rather than make idealized projections, the seem to have stayed busy by making their service better, which has paid with realistic earnings steadily.

Pardon my sarcasm, but this is incredible in the modern US market, especially the 'needy' corporate environment we've let creep into the automotive industry through the years.

Considering their industry, size and potential, UPS stands to gain from USPSs loss, anytime.  The only hold-back has been the USPS's delivery service type (or more accurately, the type of deliveries they...deliver).  The USPS origin as the Pony Express involved primarily paper, envelope mail, and still does today.  If they ruin that, it's their mess, and the corporate big-wig idiots capitalizing on this failed infrastructure should be left holding the bag while UPS strides in valiantly and offers all the stressed-out postal workers better jobs and better pay.  That's what it's all about for now, especially.

If the USPS grandstands (and it would), and begins over-valuing their own local offices, they should be reminded every step of the way that a) they're not an official government office, at any point; b) they drove themselves to their own extinction solely by their own incompetence (even while driving out DHL and other mail carriers out of business Monopoly-style); c) they never treated their own very well at all; and d) many of their supervisors now protesting local office closures could be working at UPS very quickly, and so also offer up whole lists of their own best employees for hire there.  Hopefully this would end any stand-offs, delays while the entire USPS stepped-out of their own offices and merely changed the logo while their corporate heads changed into something more efficient and successful.  Everybody would benefit--especially us, their customers.

If it was possible to change only the company logo while changing out the entire corporate oligarchy that preceded their problems, and dragging demise, I'd say 'to it!', but it's not.  Unfortunately, there are enough ridiculous people working for the USPS in the form of scores of attorneys who would inevitably be contacted ASAP, to somehow 'revive their' tarnished image once again, as they've focused on doing for the last two decades or more.  They've gotten used to spitting into the wind, likely due to all the sweet-talk they've been spouting about themselves for years, anyway.  That spit got to the point it actually tasted pretty good to them.

But all along the way, they crapped on their employees and customers.  That will never get better.

As you can see by their stock page on 'TheStreet.com' here, their dividends have continued solid growth as well.  This is striking considering their sheer size and potential pitfalls (all of which they now have the USPS as a model for).


additional online sources:
http://www.timesrepublican.com/page/content.detail/id/542890/Insufficient-postage.html

Monday, September 5, 2011

If the Crap Hits the Fan, Just Make Crappy Lemonade

I'm finally breaking down and posting a matter to my blog, after months of trying to get help in making my 'corporate landowner' property owner be responsible enough to assist me in any way in dealing with a huge septic tank issue I've had over the last 4 months.

I live in a 'money pit' of a house that was referred to me by a local client [who, unless he causes me any MORE trouble, with blissfully be held nameless]...it was 'such a great deal', and I'd 'saved him so much money' by working for him on his office--and home--computers (literally saved him over $300 on one office job alone)--that he 'did me this big favor' and told me about 'this deal' where his youngest brother was moving 'down the street' [wha?] and that little brother's house would be available for rent, 'the very next week', for what amounts to a true 'pittance'.


This was all true, except:
  • it turned out to be a money pit...no part of it could ever have passed any kind of inspection when it was built [systemic problems all around, including electrical, septic, furnace--big stuff like that...primary stuff]...I may post some of the many instances of safety issues, money-wasting/efficiency problems, and just plain dumb stuff never maintained, here later, but suffice it to say now, that they were 'MANY', they were 'RIDICULOUS', and they were entirely avoidable before I ever moved there.
  • the guy who referred it to me also offered to handle all my initial payments...but later turned out to be impossible to reach for payment, even more impossible to get receipts from, and eventually turned out to have mishandled my payments several times over a mere four-month period this year
  • the corporate a-holes who own the place were, for the most part, even worse--after I contacted them to 'remove the middle man' (which turned out to make everyone very happy, actually), they began sending me receipts themselves only after my 2nd payment, and only after much prompting (actually, begging) on my part
  • I discovered that anyone anywhere in Kentucky below Louisville, who ends up having a 'rough relationship'  with their landlord over health issues caused by their residence had better just reach down, grab their ankles 'in a non-threatening manner', and get ready to become violated in a very petty, ridiculous, mind-bending, frustrating, childish, impish, preposterous, and stress-inducing manner.  Go ahead and call your 'treatment team' if it's your septic tank, because, well...'they live among us'
  • In dealing with our regional health department, moreover, I found that you put yourself in real jeopardy when wasting your time with these 'officials' (any local will understand me if I just say 'see Insight Communications'
>ahem<


Below is the entire email I'm sending (yes, after I publish this blog), to the head of the Kentucky health dept office that deals with 'consumer-end health issues' (like, septic tank issues).


Before that, I'll list here, with no allowances for any 'remarks' of any kind, what I do know [this is for the record]:
  1. Don't ever get suckered into any kind of unwritten tenancy 'agreement', even if it's 'golden'--nothing is perfect, and when that becomes evident, in any way, your landlord, no matter how 'rich', will 'leave everything to you' [meaning you'll end up fixing everything yourself while you continue paying him your monthly rent--no matter how expensive, and apparently, no matter how health-threatening the matter is, or becomes]...to put it briefly, 'you're screwed'.
  2. If the first condition above is true, you're even worse screwed if you get the crazy idea your city, county, or (especially) state health department is somehow 'there to help you'.  It's not--and you're not only crazy yourself if you think so, but you're also likely to be highly perceived to be delusional if you continue your 'insane rantings' (really! you're insane now!)
  3. You better hope and pray (as I'm doing this very second) that, when your 'landlord' [where the hell do they get these terms?] gets your month's rent 'minus your bill for repairs' for this septic tank issue [or put any major household systemic condition where the underline phrase is], that they're a)feeling abnormally [see your psychiatrist] generous, b)celebrating "Christmas in [x marks the 'current month here']", or getting ready to be visited by the three 'Ghosts of Christmas' (with the 'Future' one wielding some kind of weapon of some sort), because...well, you're delusional, AND your getting ready to be delusional, screwed, and evicted (I think in that order)...and after that, well who knows--maybe you'll be screwed once more if you have to commit a petty crime to find residency over the winter ('Bubbah--I do love you more than the night guard...really')
So, if you haven't gotten the context of my subject here yet, read on--here is the email I'm sending to an 'Angela Billings' in Frankfort, KY.--and I do hope you'll all forgive me for not allowing any remarks on this page--I really have been up to my ankles in shit until I called the plumber this past Friday and finally dealt with it 'my own damn self':


[I HAVE NOW EDITED THIS EMAIL SLIGHTLY TO REFLECT SOME GRAMMATICAL CHANGES I WISH I'D SENT HER THE FIRST TIME--BUT IT'S THE SAME EMAIL, WITH MY POINTS STATED MORE CLEARLY]
Mrs. Billings,
I'm sorry you wouldn't see fit to be able to hear me out Friday, when I was at my wit's end and worried about losing my residency.  You sounded like a nice person until you'd apparently heard enough from me and started telling me stuff without letting me respond in any way.
I realize I'd said a lot, but telling me to shut up over and over while you obviated your role was really petty and maddening.  You were starting to ask questions indicating you had not listened at all, to one thing I said.
You began a long, dismal speech indicating you weren't willing/going to help, so 'thanks' for telling me to 'hush', and 'shut up' time and again.  You'd already begun making statements indicating such, and calling into questions things I'd said without giving me further chance to respond to your questions one-at-a-time.
It sounded like you were regretting not having interrupted me sooner, actually.  Treating me like a child, telling me to 'hush', threatening to hang up on me (then actually doing it, and not answering your phone again)--now, that's childish.  You got paid to do it, too--wonder if you'd ever heard this: 'This is part of what's wrong with America these days'.  Don't worry--I've had to say this to my local sheriff's dept. once  before when a local officer there told me I should 'just move' in reaction to my neighbor's loud, obnoxious, put-on 'lifestyle'.
Leaving me wondering--over 10 times, I guess--if you'd already hung up on me already was disgraceful and childish, too.  This type of behavior is completely unsuited to helping anyone 'at the bottom' get any help, and I hope people like yourself either get replaced with people driven to help others, or, frankly, lose your funding and eventually end up in the same place as me.
Your complete and total lack of help, your impish mishandling of my issue, your childish slamming of the phone down on me, and your overall behavior made your point quite clear, and I want to give you the heads up that any attempts you make to reply to my email, now, or in the future, will be simply forwarded right back to your email address.
Perhaps a job at Afni would more suit your nature--it wouldn't be the first time we'd lost a bureaucrat in Kentucky; maybe you should shop around now, before you need another job (or outlet for your disgust and loathing of others).
For the record, I got similarly ineffective treatment from the local WC HD office, and so am already blocking them.  All Kentucky health dept officers seem 100% caught up in keeping their jobs and being totally ineffective in providing any real positive assistance, instead of making sure your neighbors don't get sick under mistreatment by the slumlord infestation we've been enduring for decades.
I got this impression from speaking with some of my local friends and neighbors, and even some local political offices, that this is what you do for a living--run an inept bureaucratic mess, passing out political favors that trounce on the rights of unsuspecting citizens, and get tax dollars handed to you for sitting idly by and letting our many slumlords walk all over good people.
This is yet another symptom of our current political problem here in the States--people just trying to pave the way for their dreams by starting a good foundation and paying their bills, can't even get to work while suffering in sickening conditions, as long as you're on the job.
I was sick with bronchitis for six weeks back in March due to my septic tank problem--I tried to tell you that, but you didn't care.  FYI, I have had bronchitis many times, due to a previous job delivering newspapers in the cold, but always recovered quickly with the 5-day Z-Pac treatments.  Not this time, with a moldy bathroom with untreated sewer water backing up into my house; this time, I spend six weeks between the months of March and April, trying to recover, and recently had a two-day relapse!  Thanks!
Attached are some 'juicy pics' of what my bathroom looked like during the months I waited for help from anyone in the position to do so, without any whatsoever.  I hope you're thankful this Thanksgiving that you don't have to live like myself, or the hundreds of others you've doubtless treated with identical contempt.
The health dept was my last hope, so after I was dismissed by you, I had nowhere to go but risk paying the entire fee my landlord should have, take it out of that month's rent payment, and hope they didn't add insult to injury and evict me.
So, I paid $250 to a local septic tank specialist to have the system pumped without any other outside resources or assistance (besides the helpful constant advice of the Kentucky BBB, who've been indispensable).  I wasn't surprised at all when the plumber--who I'd never met--began telling me things about this system that validated nearly every fear I'd had about it: first, the the entire system had not been installed OR even designed properly, that it almost certainly had never been inspected by anyone at all when originally installed, and that it also had likely not been pumped or maintained in almost a decade of continual use by the previous resident.
This was one of those cases where being right serves as absolutely no solace at all.  It made me angry; yet finally relieved to have the problem resolved, even if under the worst conditions, mishandled as it was by yourself, your offices, and the local health department--as well as the property owner, themselves.
So, it's no consolation, but at least I'm not sick every day, or trying to fight off the conditions that spawn black mold every time I wash my clothes.
It helps to know how right I was about so many of this system's faults, down to my suspicions over inadequate measurements of the rear PVC pipe leading to the 'wetfield'.  The local and also regional Health Dept. (certainly yourself) were so diligent to avoid responsibility, it was incredibly disheartening, discouraging, and furthered my disillusionment with our national policy-handlers.
You were the worst about wheedling over the semantics of what I was trying to say, you vilified yourself in your process of mishandling the direst environmental health issue I've ever lived with.  You were so focused on correcting my vocabulary (which turned out to be 100% true and correct, BTW), that you missed my point--and the point in general, I am sure, is that you should be doing your jobs instead of grilling callers Guantanimo-style over their wordsmithing abilities to cover up your own moral lassitude and apathy.
Instead of doing your job, you became tactfully evasive, even calling my personal character into question when you began feeling railroaded into making a genuine effort to even understand my situation.  When you're about to lose your house due to inept officials like yourself, maybe you'll understand.  But I doubt that will ever happen as long as you bureaucrats circle those wagons every time you feel defensive.
I'm through with trying to get help from my Kentucky government officials, and I'm through talking to you.  That's why I'm setting my email up to block your dissenting and (I'm sure) personally offensive emails, and send them right back to you each time you try; because 'why set myself up for disappointment, when I obviously didn't need you after all, at all'.  I'm beginning to realize how little a truly independent American needs his/her government at all, as well (that's one thing I'll be thankful for every Thanksgiving, I assure you).
I'm also blocking your calls; they'd only be a nuisance, I'm sure.
Next time, just try and do your job.  If you start with that (maybe a Post-It will help), then you can learn to be responsible and even accountable for the way you are being paid to treat others.  It's that accountability that will make or break your office's viability.  Failing that, you will just end up another line-item, unjustifiable, state expenditure.  It's sad you have to be reminded of that, seeing as how I thought I was speaking with another human being (a larger inclusive group there).
In the end, I was only able to pay half my rent because I had to pay this righteous plumber to come do his job.  But I appreciated his attention to detail and the speed with which he performed the septic tank maintenance (cleaning the line, pumping the tank, writing a proper receipt).  It turned out that he was familiar (through high school) with the previous owner of this house--and he speculated without hesitation or prompting that nobody'd ever inspected the house back when it was built in 1994.
So...good luck, stay on your local city sewer system, and pay your bills, I guess.  This is your 'kiss-off' letter--you've been total 'a-holes' to me, and completely, intentionally  ineffective in helping me in any way, shape, or form; much less helping protect my rights to live in a decent place without the threat of disease and other health threats.
As often happens, you are so concerned with the 'letter of the law' [or, in your job, 'rules and written policies', however untested] than actually upholding it or even assisting the people those laws were made to protect, that your lunch-break (whenever that is, or how many times per day) has become more important than any human being you've been paid to serve and help, so you've become yet another example of a redundant, hopelessly unresponsive, dysfunctional bureaucratic office in small-town America.  Try not to think about it while spending my tax dollars in your local Walmart, on your fine house, or making your outrageous car payments--it's the status quo of the day.
Bye,
Mike Denney
physical address withheld for reasons made clear above

I hadn't just 'lucked into', and 'guessed', the things I found to be wrong with my septic tank system--I'd slaved and pored over days of internet research on various plumbers' 'self-help' sites (actually made to help people in general avoid getting the idea they should undertake septic issues themselves, and for good reason, to educate they as to 'why not').

I literally took a self-initiated crash-course in septic tanks, septic tank design, and septic tank issues, in order to make my decision 'not to' do anything myself, that is, to keep my frikking hands off the system because I knew that messing with it was more risky and potentially destructive than anything else you can do to your house.
For Blog Readers: Mere 'pictorial' cannot truly capture the stench--merely realize that any 'SciFi' movie involving 'smellavision' would truly be a horror flick of the worst genre.  Death, warmed over...served lovingly with a side of moldy bread, stanky-stank, and more death.  Mold is your enemy when you run into stuff like this...and breathing airborne  'black mold' over mere weeks can leave you with symptoms approaching mental retardation (which is NOT usually something you're not born with, BTW, so...)

The conditions I was right about, that were messed up in my system, from the day it was installed in 1994, are  are listed below:

  • The system had been installed without any downward gradient in the line from the house to the main tank, causing effluent from the house to stall midway in the line, and in fact, to sit there and eventually muck it up.  In fact, this also caused the line itself to eventually develop another problem--a downward bow in its middle, stalling the feces and other solid waste there even further.
  • The system wasn't pumped for almost a decade (possibly even never), so this 'great place' had a nasty pre-existing condition there, that really should have never been 'perpetrated on anyone' (I wouldn't my worst enemy).  You should normally have your septic tank pumped clean every 3 years, regardless of your financial condition--and, if you are sensible to have a written tenancy agreement, you'll have that in there--not be responsible for this yourself, unless your renting to own or paying off the bank.  Being deathly sick 24/7/365 with no help, costing you weeks of down-time and even more productive work leads to a downward financial and personal spiral--and showering each morning while standing in your own shit isn't too good for your outward demeanor, or lend to your 'perky charm' either.
  • The system had been installed without a big enough 'back line' going down from the main tank to the wetfield (where waste-water collects to dry), which, since the tank hadn't been pumped in so long,  caused solid waste to drift on over toward the rear of the tank, where that 'too-narrow' [2" instead of 4"] rear line was clogging up, too.  This made the system back up from the rear of the tank to the front of it, even if and when the line ever 'magicked itself' into any rare condition to drain any at all [which it didn't shortly after I succeeded in snaking myself from outside to the house a few weeks before the 'shit hit the fam' here, haha]
  • Even the 'wetfield' itself, one of the lesser-important part of the immediate drainage, and so, the system, had been put in with 'pea pebbles' to dry it.  This may have been according to specs back in 1994 when the house was built, but since then, it's not...so, even that wasn't drying very well.  Plus, it was ridiculous, even without the 'peagrain' pebbles--it was open to the sky at either end with 8" plastic corrugated drains, at ground level, which allowed rainwater into the wetfield continually during every rain.  In fact, tonight's rain [it is] is the first that isn't going directly in to these open pipes, since I took the trouble to add some galvanized piping at either end, and covered those with home-made 'rain-hats' I fashioned from aluminum pans, screwed to the piping with small guttering screws.  In early July I had gone out and put down some 4" garden edging around the front edge of the wetfield, since all other rainwater runoff was also cascading down into that field, totally inundating it--it wouldn't dry for weeks after a small shower.  Toward the end of July I even went back there and put down some landscaping timbers behind the edging, to keep it there, and began mowing the wetfield to the quick to keep it short enough to not hold any water on its top.
video

video

Each thing I have done until the point I was forced to call a plumber, turned out to be very helpful, as I was careful not to interfere with any functional part of the 'poorly designed', 'never maintained', and so, 'barely working system' there already.

I'm writing this blog for my own personal reference, because I really do have my months' rent out in the mailbox ready to go, along with a nicer, more friendly, description of what I've had to do in calling the plumber finally myself, along with the plumbers receipt, shown at the bottom of this blog post.  My payment was half my rent, subtracting the plumber's fee, because that's what landlords are supposed to do--pay your outside septic tank maintenance costs, unless you sign otherwise, and I've been railroaded into thinking I was the 'rare case' who'd been screwed due to my own oversight--which turned out to be not my own, but  somebody else's.
Intentionally.
And then, 'everybody else's'...
Because most of the time you just don't plan on screwing yourself financially for no reason.


'Post-post' (afterthoughts)
And I begged, too...

I'll never forget how I literally begged to get help for this from the property owner, who instead gave me some half-baked, concocted, nonsense about my missing my very first payment.  This was 'corrected' the very next day by the 'middle-man' mentioned above, who had an office worker go through his desk and find my unsent first payment.

The point--rather, the overt threat--was made very clear, though, because the corporate-assholes who currently own the property had been accepting my payments through this middle-man from February to May without any complaints prior to my calling them regarding the septic tank issue.

I'm not insane, here--hell, I'm not even naming names that matter, really (the health dept. proved that themselves).  If the owners really had questions about my very first payment, then why hadn't they just called me, or called the middle-man, to get my damn number?

It just doesn't happen that way--if you're accepting just enough (and I do mean, exactly, to the penny) in rent on a property to pay your yearly taxes on it, you don't really glaze over when you miss that very first payment.  These guys don't get their self-prescribed jobs by laying down and forgetting who is paying them, no matter how small the amount.  Heck--my rent is at least green fees at one of their favorite courses, anyway--or a cheap black-market hooker for at least an hour during lunch (someday, you guys--you'll 'get there').

What they did was as much bullshit as half that last paragraph--not the way you do business, and really inappropriate.  After they got their 'February' payment, and mine continued, now direct to them, they thought they could get away without ever hearing me mention 'getting help on' the septic tank again (what a wimp, right--I mean, come on, this place could be rented for well over $1000/mo. to anybody with it, and they could lose this little ridiculous complaining pimp [me] and get on with business)...

Nope, not at all, like I said, there wasn't a single system in the place that had been inspected when it was built, so there's something to be said for leaving well enough alone, all parties considered.

So, here, in this blog, for the record, in addition to mine,

Now, instead of living like a dog, I've taken care of the place, repaired and maintained it (in fixing the furnace, electrical issues, and tons of other stuff); making it a home instead of a keep (the last couple had been satisfied with less), and even lived in the place. The Orkin man gets rid of any bugs, and domesticated the local barn cats to remove any rodents, if any ever show up.

Finally--for anyone nice enough to read through this lonely little rant--here is the best online resource for learning about septic tank systems, which I found online in my own research, and which proved to be an honest and helpful guide in leading me to every correct diagnosis a noob could ever make 'out of the blue' on his own septic tank system without going to school for it.
(Because Country Living has its price, kapish?)

IT HAPPENED AGAIN

Well, it happened again--2nd time in 14 mos., I had to call the septic tank cleaning specialist to come over, clean the tank, and try to get some advice on how to keep it from backing up annually.

Rick (Rick's Septic Tank Cleaning) finally got his head around the problem (it was apparently a rare, weird, doozy) enough to pinpoint the problem at the rear drain pipe--specifically, its diameter and height.  It is only 2" in diameter (even I could see this, standing above it), while the front 'line' (coming from the house to the front of this tank) is 4".

The rear line takes 'liquid' (more like diarrhea) refuse down to the 'wet field' (to dry), but needs to be a little lower than the 'front line' (and so, the overall level of the 'stuff'), to keep leaving room for more coming in the front.

That's as basic as I can make this situation--Rick even voiced his opinion that he suspects the tank was installed backwards, a mistake I guess anyone could make, unless they were using qualified pro's to install one of the most important systems in their entire house.

A septic tank can literally 'make-or-break' your house's value; it either works, or doesn't.  If it doesn't, you're going to get sick, and there's a big possibility that your house will begin having black mold problems, too, when backups aren't dried ASAP (and 'backups' are never small amts, or anything close to hygienic--they're filthy).

I might have been financially prepared for this, if it hadn't happened so soon.  Rick even mentioned the first time that it would need the standard cleaning every three years or so, along with his other advice (he's been pretty helpful throughout my ordeal here).

But--14 months--I wasn't ready, and my girlfriend helped me by paying the entire amount.

I owe her big--this time around, it was worse--I couldn't even use the toilet, or any spigot, up or downstairs, without stuff coming up the drain of the downstairs tub, and from around the base of that toilet, too.  I went through 10-15 towels trying to dry it up...and when you do this, there's no way to wash the towels, so you either have to find a place to wash the nasty stuff, or lose it.


Here's the 2nd receipt:
Rick has written the problems on the bill, so I don't keep getting blamed for the pre-existing problem with this septic system.

LAST TIME, although threatened with eviction, I kept back the repair fee from my monthly rent, and sweated it out while I waited to be evicted.

This time, I emailed the same corporate owners, saying:

Susan,
Wanna make it clear I am paying the full amt for my December rent, but have had to get the septic tank cleaned once more.
The repairman made it clear this system was not installed correctly, leaving the 'rear line' too small (and high) to clear off liquid waste down into the nearby 'wet field'.
Again, this is just a note: there won't be any surprises from me next month--I plan on paying my full $450 monthly rent then.
Thanks,
Mike Denney
1671 Morgantown Road
So, once again, I'm left holding somebody else's shit-bag.  The guy who 'shepherded' me into renting this place acted like he's doing me such a big favor, then backed out of every opportunity to be honest and tell the current owners that I was right when this, and multiple other, issues came up.

Over my 2-year stay here, I have been personally responsible for repairing:

  • the HVAC system (both fan motors--I paid $270 for both fans, installed them myself)
  • the A/C system (it's leaking--twice filled at a cost to me personally of over $300)
  • this septic system (the first time, I withheld $250 from my rent payment...this time...?)
  • much, much more (too many for even a frikking BLOG!)
One last note: the guy who told me about the place fast-talked me into renting here; he was full of assurances that I'd 'like it', about how the 'current owners' were 'nice people', and he was sure 'they'd help me out anytime I needed help'.

Bullshit.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Always Phone the REAL Cops (not the 'elected' ones)

Decided to submit these little 'ditties' to our local sheriff online tonight:


'Exhibit A':
Sheriff Gaines,
I am deciding tonight whether I bother to call to report any traffic incidents in your jurisdiction ever again.  I am tired with the way some things are being handled in your office, including some recent noise complaints I had, met with "I've got an idea--why don't you move?" from Mr. Stephenson down there, earlier this year.
On the way home tonight, only about 30 mins. ago, I came across an accident that had just occurred at the intersection of Glen Lily and Vets. Blvd., where two cars were pulled off on the shoulder, and one was just left sitting in the middle of both lanes approaching Morgantown Road.  I was in the left, and the car in the right both had to diverge to avoid debris and glass, and it was getting dark (it now is completely)...the first thing I noted was that a) no one was injured, since all drivers were represented in two basic areas, and b) all autos were movable, yet the one left in the middle of the road.
With night coming on, I bothered to call 393-4000--I knew it wasn't a 911 call, but didn't quite know the jurisdiction at that intersection. My call was taken by BGPD, then politely forwarded to a female dispatcher at yours.  Things broke down, with your dispatcher first asking me if I myself was involved, then starting to bicker with me on a point she perceived was relevant (it wasn't), which was, how I couldn't recall the colors of the three cars involved, yet could accurately tell no one was injured, and it was likely an insurance argument ongoing, with the single vehicle (dark colored minivan, I think) left in the middle of Vet's Blvd.  Since I had run over some windshield (or other) auto glass in attempting to avoid the scene myself (and so had the other driver avoiding to the right), I decided to report the incident. I'm to the point where I'm debating the usefulness of reporting any future traffic incidents to you, with the arguments forthcoming like they always do.
Your dispatcher angered me by basically questioning my judgment, which I thought was not only pretty sound, but level-head, quick, and appropriate, in the interest of other drivers.  The smallish, 5' 6"-ish blonde woman waving and arguing with a guy the size of Hillbilly Jim made quite a scene, and I guess you could say I just 'wasn't in the mood' to find yet another unnecessary, pointless, and time-wasting argument in the 'line of questioning' from your dispatcher in the stead of actual police response of any kind.
Hope the accident scene resolved itself--I'm sure some deputies were actually sent out quickly, and they'll all get their due credit on the WBKO news at 10PM tonight.
My condolences in your re-election, and 'many happy returns' to you all.


'Exhibit B':
Listening to my online scanner (to hear your dept. joke about my earlier call), I notice SOMEBODY lost their own cell phone...instead of wasting taxpayer's time deputizing the homeless from now on, why don't you guys just take my advice and use the HTC Android app called 'Lookout'--it's free, it's an antivirus, and it backs up your phone data to your free online account as well...OH--and you can use it to locate and pinpoint your phone within few feet, utilizing a LOUD siren signal sent to it--if it's on, in these cases, you'll hear it over the din of that 'big red Mack truck' every time!"
Hope they have nice 'half-lives'--I know our taxes always do.... 


And this is why I won't be calling in to report any 'potentially' unsafe traffic incidents any more...I'm not married to these people, and so, I don't feel like arguing with 'em every time...


Sorry.


Mike

Friday, July 8, 2011

American Injustice

This past week those of us who eat their meals in a room with a TV had to stomach what was perhaps the greatest mistrial of the century in the Anthony case.  Among the most sickening components of this debacle were the general cadenced--and inappropriate attention--given it by said media.

Grace Plumped up on this Story for the [all?] Ages
The self-made media maven (actually, late night media diva) Nancy Grace fattened her career (and herself, obviously choosing post-pregnancy as an acceptable time to gain over 30 lbs.) by spending every single night over the last two years of her dragging, four-hour CNN news 'show' reveling carnival-barker style in any unexploited facet of the case, like a shameless pig wallowing in the best mud he'd ever found.  Fatter than a tick, fanning the fervor nightly, her coverage was so oppressively foul, crude, and tasteless that P.T. Barnum would have turned his face away (or found out what a 'remote control' is).

When Nancy Grace resorted to bringing in (i.e. 'hiring') paid character-actors like Leonard Padilla (who was convicted of tax evasion in Sacramento California, and still ran for political office there--from prison) to try the case on their own merits (remember Padilla actually used his own moneys and influence--while likely still owing hundreds of thousands in unpaid taxes himself--to pay Casey Anthony's bond in 2008 within a month of his 'injection' into a situation he knew nothing about, at all).

Melinda Duckett / Nancy Grace
The devil had one big laugh, I'm sure, in giving Nancy Grace that idea to throw off negative attention to herself after causing the honor-suicide of another young (and sorrowful) Asian woman named Melinda Duckett she had hammered on her show over the woman's loss of her own child.  Grace subjugated Duckett--who turned out to have some strong emotional ties to her own child, as well as the emotion necessary to carry out a remorse-driven suicide.  It's plain to see that Grace saw the Anthony case as an opportunity to redeem herself, indeed, rise as a champion, among her demographic of 'young American moms'.  It's easy to see she despises them, yet needs to culture them into watching her show--repetitively, as in, an addiction, more so than a real-life soap opera

The Embodiment of 'Courtroom' Glee: One of the Many
Mocking Images of Casey Anthony
It seems that Nancy Grace, in spite of all her self-heralded 'experience' in the legal field, and her conspicuously-pushed public image as media professional, practices an unsettling double-standard that goes something like this: "If she's not happy with her ratings, she'll pick on somebody, and even  sacrifice the hapless creature as mercilessly as a bully going around kicking neighborhood strays".  But if she 'likes' you--or, more properly, 'likes your situation' for its story value, 'you're a made-man-or-woman'.  Compare pictures of the impish, perky, and plucky Casey Anthony to the sad visage of Duckett, which would haunt anyone with a conscience (and so, sadly, not Grace).  What you see in Anthony is the exact same guile, the near-elvish quality of a liar and murderer who got caught merrily dancing away (and worse) as her daughter's very bones rotted in the neighborhood swamp--remorseless, now emboldened by her pending release (and I won't allow myself to magine what that currently means to her party-people, BTW).

Judge Belvin Perry Exchanging an Uncomfortable Glance
w/ Casey Anthony During the Trial--from the Orlando Sentinel
Of course, the most vital element to any trial is the judge, however he/she conducts himself, however important or well-known they are prior to their fame-making and illuminating trial.  This brings us to Judge Belvin Perry, whose self-absorbed, almost autistic nonchalance gave the impression that he seemed to miss the proverbial forest for the trees on this one.  His ironically pedantic, media-starved attentiveness to every trial proceeding made the whole procedure a case study in itself--of how not to allow a media-driven trial to proceed at all.  From start to finish, he broke momentum, withheld motions by the the prosecution and defense alike, but he seemed  stilted, inefficient, and actually, somewhat confused and irritated by the whole event, like he'd rather be doing crossword puzzles, or relaxing in his local spa or hot tub.  He wielded a catastrophic lack of control over the overall court proceedings.

Yes, that is a guy with a neck-brace helping a fat person
with a back-pack up off the floor.  Hope they were all
satisfied fully (since P.T. Barnum's gone).
Videos of the daily public stampede to attend the Anthony case gallery were sickening as well.  Insane people trampling each other in their crazily hapless early-morning rush to jam-pack the courtroom looked more like the crush to the year-end big-city bridal dress sale, or a 'Black Friday' half-off sale.  My heart sunk when I realized that the trial had 'no business' being open to public attendance.  The result was a surreal, sideshow characteristic that made any real tacit presentation of the facts of the case impossible, and so, an adequate judgement even more so.  Nancy Grace's over-coverage of this case had made it impossible to find any intelligent people on earth who could qualify to be in this jury, who could honestly say they had never seen anything on television that might hinder, impede, or even cloud their judgement in either direction.


Attorney Jose Baez w/Anthony
And this was just the public attendance to the trial.  Anthony's attorney used subterfuge and every trick in the book to throw the focus of the trial away from the victim, and used the media craftily every night to garner emotional support for his own victim, in his client, Casey Anthony.  Undue comparisons were made to the 'OJ case', what with her release on bond, then re-incarceration, and from there, more media dissonance (more 'media experts', in the form of every major TV judge on TV, along with more 'personalities' such as Geraldo, even to the end), made this a nightly TV show, and how viewers felt certainly became more important to the entire outcome of the trial, and all those involved, than even any kind of certain decision as to why the little girl was killed, much less who murdered her.

The 'Crybaby Judge', Larry Seidlin (now retired)
Even Larry Seidlin--the former Broward County, FL judge who insinuated himself into perpetuity by using his antics and personal drama (a.k.a. the 'Crybaby Judge') while deciding over the Anna Nicole Smith case in a vain attempt to obtain his own 'TV Judge' show (like Judge Judy--surprised, anyone?) was interviewed numbers of times on FoxNews during final days, even though he's now-retired and most likely still living off the money he himself scammed from a local elderly neighbor years ago.  As for his 'credentials'--perhaps in looking at the sheer coincidental number of appearances his county made on another show called 'Cops' would shed light on his political character:  "Coward of Broward" sounds more appropriate to me.  What another disgrace he is, if Broward could be misconstrued as his, or more objectively, any part of his responsibility, in his past life as their county seat judge.  Look at it this way--there are 3,143 total counties in the United States--while trouble in Broward pops up on such a significant number of "Cops" episodes to make it worth note for that alone (my figure--I'd say something like 10%-20%--what a disparity!).  Additional note: "Cops" liked Broward so much that an entire series spun-off it: "The Police Women of Broward County".

So many 'media darlings' turned up at the 'scene of the crime'--and by that, I mean the crime from the beginning to the trial itself--that various outdoor venues in Orlando appeared as if they were preparing for an Olympic decision to hold the '12 Summer Games there (sorry--London bought that honor this time around).  The last, sorry sarcastic thought I had was to imagine Michael Jackson, OJ, Anna Nicole, JonBenet Ramsey's father, and some other catastrophic American justice system failures showing up there to further the dark shadow cast on the whole event by the media's undisciplined, uncontrolled, inappropriate, and unchallenged presence in this trial.

What is becoming of our justice system, and so, our way of life?  Frivolous lawsuits had to be scrutinized by new laws over the past decade, while a NY City judge was himself busy suing his dry cleaners for $6.5 million dollars over the loss of his expensively-tailored suit.  We seem powerless to challenge it when another 'dandy' shows up in this trial who is more interested in his media image than the outcome, or if justice is indeed served.  A recent trend in 'inventive' and 'creative' judges who ignored the warnings regarding 'cruel and unusual punishment' (namely, by the ACLU) has sadly ended--the 'worst' [read 'best'] they'd done was to 'force' local shoplifters to walk the sidewalks outside the establishments they'd robbed, while wearing sandwich-board signs announcing their crimes publicly.  What happens to that type of sensible punishment to a known crime, once the media gets hold--and control--of it?

This miscarriage of justice was bound to happen.  The final nail in this case's coffin has been ignored by many media outlets once more.  The fact is, Casey Anthony was indeed denied the right we all share for a speedy trial.  No, we don't share much else with her, I hope, but among the other pathetic 'explanations' [excuses] seen around the nation for the miserable outcome of this trial, this overtly obvious one has been missed time and time again.  Even terrorists and terrorist sympathizers get speedier trials than was allotted here.  It seems once again, the price for our modern justice system--actually, it's replacement--has been the shuffling to afford the media ample time to announce to all what we'd all smell as stinking to high heaven from any locale--injustice, greed, and selfishness.  The news media--mainly, CNN, it's programming owners, programming directors, etc.--was to blame.  In feeding the fire to the point of reckless abandon, everyone failed to see that our sedentary lifestyles made viewing this travesty more important than being even remotely involved in its outcome.

So, how do we prevent this from ever happening again?  After all, it may well be the only lasting legacy given in honor of even the memory of this poor child, lost forever to the void of her mother's careless self-involved hedonistic lifestyle, and all who supported it.

Well, maybe we should start praying for things like mercy, and true grace (not the 'Nancy' kind), and what Christ said in the Beatitudes, when he said "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled".  We could all use more of that kind of thing, because surely--surely, we're all tired of what we've seen in this, and truly hungry for something better.

We all watched it, from beginning to end, unfold, without properly intervening in some way or another.  Here I am blogging about it.  What will that do for the child lost?  Nothing--she never knew what a 'blog' was, nor does it matter, now.  She deserved a better life, by way of a better mom, a real father, and a grandma and 'pa who weren't corrupted to the core by letting the media set their core family values, but instead gathering those from within.

I'm counting myself among the most guilty, here--I'm an idiot without any real understanding of the law as men understand it, much less what we make of it--and far from what God intended it.