4-rth Sustainable Fashion – Unsustainable Business Practices – Don’t buy from them.


When you find a company like 4-rth (pronounced “for earth”) you want to believe…….

It took me a long time to find quality, somewhat affordable yoga clothes for men.  I wanted them not only for yoga but because they’re comfortable for everyday use, when made with quality.  When I found 4-rth online, they had some cool clothes for guys.  The most interesting, different, and fashionable was the cuffed yoga short for men.  People tell me I write too much (too long), so I’ll try to shortcut this with bullet points.

Cuffed Yoga Pants (Cinnabar w/Grey)

  • I purchased the yoga shorts pictured above.  Note the gray cuff around the bottom of the leg.
  • When I received them, I really liked them but noticed that the cuff was orange, like the short, not gray.
  • When I pointed this out, Doug Donahue (Owner, CEO?,- basically the only person that works there apparently) responded to my email as follows:
    • “excellent eyes you have! 🙂 sorry about that — in that production run, that was an oversight by our production team so they all came out that way but we’ll go back to the Gray cuff in future production runs
    • He also added “p.s. – we have TWO new color-ways coming out in that pant”
    • Translation: “Oops – you noticed, huh.  Oh well.  But we have more stuff for you to buy.
  • I responded to his email and told him that his response wasn’t really unacceptable.  He never offered to replace them or exchange them.  I explained to him how customer service worked and gave him several suggestions to make his customer service better.  I gave him every opportunity to make it better.  I wasn’t mean or snarky.  I was honestly trying to help him.  I wanted him to succeed – and I told him so.
  • Doug Donahue’s response was “Please feel free to use my friends & family discount anytime — it’s good for 15% off at any time of the year! the code is: 4RTH”
    • Translation:  Feel free to REPURCHASE what you already thought you were purchasing – because as I said the next production run “should” be OK.  And you can buy them at a 15% discount.
  • So I can buy the shorts that I thought I had already did buy – at a 15% discount.  How nice.  And they “may or may not” arrive as shown in the picture on his web site.
  • I explained that repurchasing an article of clothing, simply because what I received wasn’t as advertised, was not my idea of fixing the problem.  I explained further how customer service worked.  I explained that I had planned on buying many more items from 4-rth.  However, since I couldn’t trust that I would get what I ordered, or that the follow up customer service would correct the problem, I simply could not do that.  I gave him another opportunity to fix the problem.  I had worn the shorts, but considering they were a design that he didn’t even sell, why would he want them back anyway, even if I had never worn them.  All he had to do was send me the correct product, at his expense, and I would have been a happy camper.  I would have been ready, willing, and able to buy more items in his men’s line AND tout his company on my blog.

This was a ridiculous exchange.  Mr. Donahue should have simply fixed the problem.  He sold me a product that was manufactured incorrectly.  Some may say “It’s just a cuff on a pair of shorts – who cares”.  Well, there are such things as false advertising, integrity, standing behind your products, and good customer service.  Plus, to be honest, from a fashion standpoint, the gray contrasting cuff was what made these shorts unique.

Doug Donahue must have a huge ego for him not to just fix this – easily.  He could not and would not admit that he was wrong.  He sold me a product and the product I received was not like the one pictured.  It’s a simple problem and a simple fix.  I should not have taken many, many emails to address – only to get absolutely nowhere.

I noticed that on his web site, he has “celebrities” like singer Daughtry saying he thought the stuff was cool, and Queer Eye cast member Jai Rodriguez pictures with Doug.  I’m betting if I were a celebrity the problem would have been corrected immediately.  I probably would have received his entire line of clothing as a “gift”.  But since I’m not a celebrity and Doug Donahue’s goal is to be rich and famous and hobnobbing with the rich and famous, he could care less about me, a lowly customer who received a product that was made wrong in the factory.

I gave Mr. Donahue many, many chances.  I even told him about the power of word of mouth (or word of word).  I told him I would hold back from writing anything negative about him or his company because I believed he would do the right thing to rectify the problem.

He Didn’t.  And so I’m writing to let people know what they are in for if they choose to purchase merchandise from 4-rth.com.  Some will think I’m just pissed off and it’s just sour grapes.  I assure you that is not true.  At one point I told Mr. Donahue that I had a lot of experience with online shopping and would be happy to work with him to ensure his customers were satisfied at all levels.  The customer is always right and it’s a company’s job to make sure the customer is happy.  I wasn’t asking for anything unreasonable – I was only asking for WHAT I HAD ORDERED AND PAID FOR.

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Frank & Oak last rites


I have to hand it to Frank & Oak for trying.  If you read my last post about them, they were concerned about the bad press generated by said blog post, and offered my readers a 20% discount.

I also received a free item from F&O because I told them I wouldn’t rescind anything I said about the company unless I tested the products again:  It was a french terry pullover in dark blue.

To be frank (no pun intended), the pullover was “just ok” for quality.  The french terry was a very tight weave.  Even in an extra large (and I’m not really that big, but I ordered larger due to my experience with their sizes), I had to shimmy into the thing.  The fabric doesn’t move with you, or stretch at all.  It’s tight – like wearing burlap.  I gave it to a female friend of mine who is much smaller than I am, and while she liked the “idea” of it, she won’t wear it either because it is simply not comfortable.

With all that has happened between me and the company of Frank & Oak, I have to say I am finally done with them.  From what I can tell based on responses to my original review of Frank & Oak, there are many, many of you out there who are also “done” and will not do business with Frank & Oak any longer.

I wish the company the best; I honestly do.  But until they up their game in merchandise quality, accurate, detailed descriptions of their products, and better customer service, I don’t see Frank & Oak as a survivor.  Not unless they are relying on pseudo-style-conscious “men” who don’t give a damn about quality, of course.

I know pronounce my relationship with Frank & Oak dead.  I’m calling it.  Time of Death – 11:54 AM February 12, 2014.  It lingered way longer than it should have.

A brother’s pride and joy


the-brothers-and-the-sea-smallCredit: Artist – Jenny Armitage

One day, a man’s TV broke.  It was a nice high def TV that he had for only 6 years.  The original TV was about $1,800.  It wasn’t a top-of-the-line TV but it was very good quality.  He called the local shop where he bought it, and also called the manufacturer, both of whom said it couldn’t be fixed.  The man was upset, really upset.  This was just one more thing that had gone wrong; one more thing in a line of things that overwhelmed him.  At the time he bought this nice TV, he had the money to do so.  He no longer had resources that afforded him the luxury of buying luxury items when he wanted them.  He borrowed some money from a very good friend to buy a new TV.  Not exactly what he would have bought under different circumstances just something relatively affordable that he could afford to pay back to his friend over time.  It may seem strange to feel you need, or are entitled, to own a television.  For this man, after living a comfortable life for many years, now faced with staring at a broken TV that he couldn’t afford to replace, was a constant reminder of his failures.

At the same time, in another place, a much younger man had a brother who was recently married.  This young man didn’t have much money to buy his brother and new sister-in-law a wedding present.  He was a bit distraught and for several months was trying to figure out a way to give the newlyweds (but especially his brother) something nice; something that they could use; something they didn’t have and couldn’t afford to buy, something he could afford.  That’s a tall order to fill.  But this younger man was patient.

The older man who had the broken TV, and the younger man worked at the same company.  The older man, having back trouble, asked the younger man to help him carry his new TV up the many stairs to his apartment.  The younger man, always eager to help anyone in need, was quick to say yes, that he would be happy to help.  When the younger man brought the TV up the 39 stairs to the older man’s apartment, the younger man asked what was wrong with the broken TV.  The older man showed the younger man how the TV picture was all messed up, and told the younger man the story of the TV being irreparable.  The “experts” said that the problem was the “T-Com” board (whatever that means), and the manufacturer didn’t even sell those boards anymore, hence why it couldn’t be fixed.  The younger man mentioned that he liked to tinker with electronics and asked that if it was OK with the older man, he’d like to take the broken TV, if for no other reason than to take it apart and see how it worked.  The older man was wondering how he was going to get rid of the old TV so he was pleased that the younger man wanted to take it.

About a month later, the younger man arrived at work one day and asked to speak to the older man.  The younger man wanted to tell him about the old TV.  Surprise cast a shadow on the older man’s face.  What was he talking about?  The younger man said that he had struggled with the old TV for a while.  But, after a few attempts on Ebay he was able to find the right T-Com board for the TV.   The younger man was a very curious and tenacious person.  He liked to learn about electronics.  The first T-Com board he bid on and got on Ebay, was the wrong one.  It took him a long time to find another possible fit.  So he bid on, and won the bid for, another T-Com board.  When the younger man had first installed the second T-Com board into the TV, the picture was blinking and flashing and wavy – not viewable at all.  But after powering it off and back on a few times, the old TV came back to life and was working perfectly.  It seemed similar to adding new hardware to a PC.  You need to give the PC time to recognize the new hardware and make the proper adjustments.  The younger man then told the older man that he had a brother who was recently married.  The younger man had fretted, and worried, and was very frustrated that he didn’t have a “proper” gift for his brother.  The younger man loved and respected his older brother very much; it would be source of pride and accomplishment if he could figure out how to give his older brother a wedding present.  After fixing the old high def TV, he sneaked into his brother’s house one Sunday when he knew his brother and sister-in-law would be out.  He setup the new/old TV in his brother’s home.  His brother did not have a TV and couldn’t afford to buy one.  The younger man wrapped the remote control to the TV in a box and gave it to his brother when the brother returned home.  The younger man was so proud, and happy.  When the brother opened the box he said “what’s this” and the younger man said “go inside and look”.   The brother did and to the brother’s surprise, in his house was, to him, a brand new big flat screen TV.  The brother stared in awe, not even knowing how to thank the younger man, let alone figure out how the younger man had pulled this off.

The younger man had, against all odds, repaired the old TV given to him by the older man.  The younger man was so happy that he finally had a present for his brother.  And the younger man’s brother was happy that he received a gift that he wouldn’t have been able to afford on his own.  The brother had no idea how the younger man accomplished this.  The two brothers loved each other very much.  It was important for the younger man to have something of value to give to his somewhat older, married brother as a wedding present.

As for the older man,  at the time, buying a new TV seemed insurmountable and he was angry at the TV and the manufacturer; he was mad at himself and the world.  The older man had limited resources, but he did have a job and a way to pay back the price of the new TV he bought (thanks to a very generous friend).

But the older man was happy, too.  When the older man found out what had happened to his old TV – that is was miraculously fixed, and that it ended up in the possession of someone who could not afford such a nice TV, and given to him by a young man who wanted nothing more than to get his brother something for a wedding present, the older man’s anger over his TV situation seemed so small.  He let the anger go.  And he thanked the younger man for letting him know what had happened to his old TV.

The older man realized that sometimes, things do happen for a reason.  While the older man no longer had the resources to buy luxury items, he certainly had more options than the younger man, or the younger man’s brother.  So in perspective, the older man felt blessed.  He realized his petty wanting of material goods was all just so stupid.

The older man was me.

Epilogue:

It can be argued that nobody “needs” a television.  And I’ve heard many in the media (OK, right-wing TV and talk radio)  talk about poor people on government assistance who somehow have a flat screen TV.  Well, the bottom line, to me, is that first, you can’t buy anything other than a flat screen TV anymore.  And by flat screen I mean high-definition TV – that’s all there is.  All new TVs are high-definition flat screen, whether it’s cheap or expensive.  Have you seen a “picture tube” television in a store lately.  I doubt it.  Secondly, television is what most people use as their connection to the outside world.  Something as simple as the news, or the weather – you get that from your TV.  Even if you don’t have cable TV, you can still use a high-definition TV (known in the pedestrian world as a “flat screen”) with rabbit ears just like in the old days.  Television also provides basic entertainment regardless of whether you are rich or poor.  You can even have a TV without actual broadcast or cable stations – just a TV with a VCR or DVD player, and use that as your entertainment.

So television is an important part of people’s lives and of the American culture.  Not having one because you can’t afford one makes you feel like a failure as a human being.  Society has taught us that we are.

But, having said all of that, it’s not what this story is about.  This story is about counting your blessings.  It’s about realizing what you have, even when you might not realize you have it.  And it’s about the fact that no matter how badly you might feel or how much self-hatred you may feel over something big, or something small, there is always somebody out there with a story that is more significant than yours.  But mostly, it’s about the love between two brothers.  Brothers who don’t count their blessings in dollars, but rather in sense.  I don’t believe in something called god.  But I do believe that these two brothers have very good parents who taught them well.  I have been reminded, through this experience, about what’s important.  I hope you do, too.  I am happy that through a series of rather strange events, my old TV made its way to a happy couple, just married and starting their life together.  I picture them sitting in front of the big high-def TV at night, snuggled up, watching a movie together, enjoying each others’ company, and always thinking how cool it is that someone in their family gave them this beautiful TV.

On one final note:  I thought for a moment that I should have bought the TV back from the young man so he could buy his brother something new.  Then I realized that all the tinkering and trying, the sense of accomplishment and the laser focus on a single purpose, the joy of giving a gift that came from the heart – all of that would not have happened if I bought the TV back.  I would have robbed the younger man of his pride and of is joy.  It all worked out just as it should have.

Women’s Tennis – Officially Unwatchable!


On a Sunday afternoon, on a cool September day, there is nothing quite as enjoyable as watching a Tennis match.  I’ve always enjoyed individual sports more than team sports (other than Baseball).  I’ve often watched Tennis players like Roddick, Agasi, Nadal, Federer and others, and truly enjoyed it.  Back in the day I used to like watching Chris Evert play.  It was beautiful, graceful, and yes, powerful.

This past Sunday, September 9, 2012, I happen to be channel surfing and came upon the US Open women’s final.  Williams and Azarenka.  It was almost over.  Not the match so much (although it applies to that as well) but my interst in watching was over before it really got started.  To listen to Azarenka play tennis was like listening to a group of Muslim woman at a wedding.  She was wailing and ululating on each and every movement, so loud and distracting that I just couldn’t do it.  I had to change the channel.  I didn’t care who won at that point.  I realized that all of these years, while “grunting” has been a bone of contention in the sport, it was the grunting that prevented me from watching.

While some male tennis players do grunt, it’s really the women who have turned it into an art form.  Starting with Monica Seles, whose extreme grunting made ME want to stab her, it’s just gotten worse.  Now the World Tennis Association (WTA) is considering cracking down on it.  They want to start young tennis players out, learning how to play the game without the gruning.  I say – More Power to ‘Em, the WTA, I mean.  Detracters want to “grandfather” current tennis players from the rule, citing that the change would affect a trained athlete’s game and that’s not fair.

It’s not just that the grunting (and in Azarenka’s case, wailing) is distracting, it’s annoying and makes tennis unwatchable.  It’s unnecessary, undisciplined, and to be honest, tacky and rude.  It sounds like they are constipated and trying to squeeze out a log right there on the court.  It’s disgusting.

But Azarenka takes it to a new level.  I had never heard anyting like it before.  I was only half paying attention when I was channel surfing.  As soon as I heard the ululating wail, I had a flash back to 9/11 and the pictures of people ululating in the streets of many Middle Eastern countries, celebrating the carnage.  When I looked up and saw it was a simple women’s tennis match, I was quite literally shell-shocked.  I was shocked that this is what women’s tennis has turned into.  I was shocked that this was allowed.  I was shocked that this woman wasn’t embarassed for herself, I was shocked that the TV network didn’t bleep it out (because it’s as offensive as if she screamed “FUCK” every time she hit the ball.

Azarenka doesn’t belong in this sport, or any other sport, except maybe Olympic Weight Lifting.  But even that sport doesn’t allow excessive grunting.  And these men are dead lifting more than their own body weight – they should be allowed to grunt.

But what Azarenka is doing isn’t grunting.  It is wailing and it’s meant to distract her opponent.  It would be the same if Azarenka paid someone to lob tennis balls at Serena Williams from the side lines while Williams is about to return a serve.  I don’t know how this got so out of control.  There’s a thing called “sportsmanship”.  Wailing like a banshee at every turn isn’t sportsmanlike and I have to believe that the TV ratings for women’s tennis take a hit because of it.  In our society, the only thing that speaks is the almighty dollor.  So let’s stop tuning in to women’s tennis until it stops sounding like a delivery room during a breached birth.

Installing BlackBerry Leaked OS files (RIM getting sneaky with the vendor.xml file)


It used to be rather simple to install a leaked version of a BlackBerry OS.   These updated leaked versions of BlackBerry Operating System software are often leaked by mobile phone companies so that people like me and many others will install them, like a beta install, so they can get feedback on what’s working and what’s NOT working.  In many instances, these leaked OS’s are fine.  Occasionally, you might find that there are “memory leaks” which is a fancy way of saying that certain apps installed with the OS do not properly use the allotted memory, but for the most part, they work just fine.  In fact, a BlackBerry Leaked OS usually has new features not available in your mobile phone companies currently available release (compared to the one readily available from their website, the RIM web site, or just already installed on your new phone).

To install these a BlackBerry Leaked OS you had to search for one for your specific model.  The OS is specific to the type of phone you have.  So you can’t install OS 7.1 for a BlackBerry Torch 9810 on a BlackBerry Bold 9900.  But once you find the file you are looking for (usually from sites like Crackberry or N4BB where they link you to a file share site like MegaUpload, MediaFire, SendSpace, etc), you simply download the file, and install it onto your computer.

I am the system admin and BlackBerry Support Specialist where I work.  I manage many different BlackBerry Users with different BlackBerry Models and different Operating Systems.  Trying out a new “leaked” OS seems like a daily occurrence for me and as I said it used to be easy.

  1. Download the OS File as I stated above (usually an EXE file but sometimes it’s a zipped file that you have to unpack first)
  2. Run the EXE file which installs the OS files onto your computer
  3. Plug you BlackBerry into your computer with the USB cable
  4. Run Desktop Manager which finds the new OS and asks you if you want to Upgrade.
  5. You say yes (making sure that the “backup the phone first” box is checked
  6. And that was it.

Later on, you had to delete the file called “vendor.xml” which is located in the C:\Program Files\Common Files\Research In Motion\AppLoader folder.  That’s right, simply deleting it would make it all work just fine. Very easy.

When that stopped working you had to disconnect from the Internet (in addition to deleting the Vendor.XML file) so that the BlackBerry Desktop Software (formerly Desktop Manager) would find the Updated OS.  Now, you have two “vendor.xml” files to delete.  On Windows 7 the additional file is in the C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Research In Motion\BlackBerry\Loader XML folder.  O Windows XP the additional file is in c:\documents and settings\XXXXX (user name)\Application Data\Research in Motion\BlackBerry\Loader XML\. You must delete BOTH vendor.xml files in order for BlackBerry Desktop Software to recognize the newly installed Leaked OS.

To install the newly downloaded OS onto your device.  It’s not just a matter of downloading it, you have to INSTALL the OS onto your computer.  That’s true whether or not it’s a leaked OS or not.  Installing the OS puts the files in places/folders on your computer where the BlackBerry Desktop Software (BDS) can find them.  THEN run (BDS).  Sometimes, that new leaked OS you just download and then installed, still won’t be recognized by BDS as a viable OS to upgrade to.  By default, BDS wants to check the Internet (your carrier’s web site where “official” OS files are) to see if an upgrade is available. That’s what happens when you use the menu to “update” your device.  To Force BDS to see the newly installed local installation of a leaked OS, you have to disconnect from the Internet – you need to disable your wi-fi and/or unplug your netowrk cable, THEN run BDS and it will look locally for new OS files.  You will see a little red star next to the OS version and you can then click the Update button whereby a pop up box will appear and you can select this new leaked OS you downloaded/installed.

Here’s what I don’t understand:  These “unofficial” OS versions are “leaked” on purpose. This is a way for vendors and RIM to get real world feedback en masse from the more technical BlackBerry users out there who know what they are doing.  It gives users like me a chance to sample the new features, give feedback on forums, and see how things like Battery Life are improved or not with the new OS.  It’s a vital feature to the BlackBerry OS process at large.  So why do they (and by that I mean RIM, AT&T, Verizon, and every other phone vendor) make it more and more difficult to install these Operating Systems.  Those of us that work with these leaked OS’s KNOW that we can’t call our mobile phone company with a BlackBerry problem if we have a leaked OS on it because they won’t help you.  So it’s not like we don’t know that it’s an “AS IS” kind of thing when you are installing a leaked OS.

RIM/BlackBerry has a Beta Program where, if you sign up, you can be a Beta Tester for new apps and upgrades before they are released to the public.  But I’ve NEVER seen beta testing of Operating System upgrades in that program. I am a member.  So what’s the deal?  I don’t know.  Without people like us testing these leaked Operating Systems in the real world, companies like RIM, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile would not get real world feedback that they can use to make corrections and modifications before releasing them to the general BlackBerry user population.  If anyone knows?  Please share.

The bottom line is this:  There are mobile phone companies out there, not in the US but around the world, who release the “leaked”  BlackBerry operating systems as final, even though in the US, they are considered unofficial leaked versions.  Leaked version typically never end up to be the final version in the US.  It’s people like me and the thousand of other technical folks out there willing to install these leaked operating systems on BlackBerrys that help to make the BlackBerry product line better, each and every day.  It’s time RIM and the mobile phone companies came out of the closet, to admit what is really going on with leaked operating systems, give credit where credit is due, and provide a simpler way for us to beta test these suckers.

Greed and Stupidity cause the music industry to lose money


I was on a web site recently. It was a discussion forum.  One forum visitor, replying to a another who was having a particularly difficult struggling with an emotional issue, posted a link to a music video.  I was curious so I clicked the link.  I was brought to YouTube and a video for a song called “Jealousy” by Will Young.  I had no idea who Will Young was, nor had I ever heard that song.  I loved it. (See bottom of this posting for the video link.)

After a little research I found out the Will Young was the original “Idol” from the very first year in the U.K.  The original version of the show is called “Pop Idol” and when it later came to America, “American Idol”.  But Will Young was the very first ever in that franchise to win. And he’s had a VERY successful carreer.  I couldn’t believe that even with all that I had never heard of him.  I’m not a kid anymore but I try to keep up with what’s going on in the world.  So finding the song, and the artist was a pleasant surprise.

I immediately fired up iTunes (as much as I hate iTunes, sometimes that’s just where you have to go) and did a search.  A pop up box said he couldn’t be found.  I was surprised and a little bummed out.  But the pop up box also said that what I was looking for was available on the UK iTunes site.  Cool!.  So I followed the link to there and found the song. When I tried to purchase it, I was asked for my iTunes account and after typing that in, I was told I couldn’t buy the song because I was in the US and I “wasn’t allowed” to purchase the song.  What?!  I suddenly remembered this happening to me a year or so ago when I tried to download some other song.  At that time I went through the process of setting up and account on the UK iTunes website, made up a UK address and all went well until I put in my credit card number.  I was told the credit card number belonged to a USA bank and therefore could not be used.  Fucked again.  At that time, I gave up, pissed off at how stupid this all was.

But not this time; I wasn’t giving up.  I went to Amazon.com and did a search and had the same problem with not being able to purchase it because I was in the US.  I was not yet deterred complete.  While FREE music download sites like Napster, Limewire and Kazaa are long gone.there are still ways to get free music.

Let me say, first and foremost, that I believe in paying for music.  If I could have handed Will Young the $20 for his CD personally, I would have done it gladly.  I would have paid him, his record company, a record store, or anybody else to legally purchase this music.  HOWEVER, THE MUSIC INDUSTRY ITSELF HAD MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO PURCHASE THE MUSIC I WANTED.

By using a torrent download site I was able to get the entire Will Young CD called “Echoes”.  I probably shouldn’t admit that I did it because it’s probably illegal.  But I will gladly pay the $20 to whomever should get it, if they can tell me how I can purchase the music without having to fly to the UK to do it.

So, music industry folks, I don’t know if you are dumb, greedy, or both.  It seems that one begets the other.  But you need to get you act together.  I believe that most people are like me.  I would gladly pay for ANY AND ALL MUSIC THAT I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE, JUST GIVE ME A WAY TO DO IT. Get your lawyers and your licensing and your greed in check and then people won’t be forced to steal music from the Internet.

Let me tell you something:  music is a very personal thing.  When a song hits you, it hits you hard and you will do anything to get it just so you can listen to it anytime you want, over and over again.  Some music is just like that – you simply must have it.  It’s innate.  I’ll say it one more time.  I WOULD GLADLY PAY FOR THE MUSIC I WANT IF YOU GIVE ME A WAY TO DO IT.  And I believe most people out there feel the same way. 

By the way, if you are interested in the song I was trying to find, here it is.  The dance edit called “Alias Edit” is fantastic, as is the rest of the CD.  If you are in the US, good luck.  Maybe I should send it out to anyone who want it.

Toyota recall conspiracy removes Connecticut from New England


In a recent press release Toyota announced it was recalling 1.5 million vehicles, this time for a break fluid leak – or so they say.

I’ve uncovered some classified company information that sheds light on the real issues.  Toyota is rewriting history, and the history books themselves.   On October 20, 2010, I saw a television commercial for “New England Toyota Dealers”.  The commercial featured that guy who used to do the Toyota commercials back in the 90’s.  Toyota started using him again in an attempt to gin up customer confidence in Toyota after the recent  “uncontrolled acceleration” disasters.   To my surprise, the map of New England used in that commercial did not include the State of  Connecticut.  Yes, only Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are “New England” states according to Toyota.  I figured it had to be an honest mistake, right?  – until I did a little more digging.

I scoured the Internet for the video of this commercial but could not find it.  I thought it was odd that I could not find the video since every commercial in the world makes it to YouTube.  I theorized that Toyota was involved in a conspiracy:  I scoured further.

As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a web site that Toyota forgot to hide.   This forgotten page proves that the company does not consider Connecticut to be part of New England.  Here is a screen shot from the web site in question.  It has not been altered.  Please – only read further at your own risk, since once you see this, you will be part of the select few who know where the roots of this conspiracy reside.


Notice that next to “Locate a Dealer”, Connecticut is not listed.  Further, the URL for this page is:

http://www.newenglandtoyota.com/dealerLocator/dealerLocatorStart.aspx.

I know for a fact that Connecticut is part of New England.  Check any source you can find – other than Toyota – and you will see that I am correct on this point.  Only 4 States were considered to be “New England” when our country was formed by the original 13 colonies.  Those 4 States are Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and CONNECTICUT.  Vermont was not yet a State and Maine was owned by Massachusetts at the time.  Maine didn’t even become a State until 1821.

And how does all of this relate to Toyota’s recent recall?  There are approximately 1.5 million Toyota vehicles registered in the State of Connecticut.  Toyota’s most recent recall is 1.5 million vehicles.  So one can deduce that Toyota is trying to remove Connecticut from New England and remove all of Connecticut’s Toyotas so that no proof is left behind.  This recall is one big conspiracy in Toyota’s evil plan to eliminate Connecticut from New England.  They’ve already done it in their advertising.  Toyota knows that America has become so stupid and complacent, that if Toyota tells them that Connecticut is not part of New England, Americans will believe them.  All Toyota has to do is say it over and over and over again until fiction becomes fact.

Don’t let them do it, I BEG YOU!  I may live in Maine now, but in my heart, I will always be a Connecticutter (yes that’s the real name for people from Connecticut).  Don’t let Toyota rewrite history, or our maps.

PLEASE CALL TOYOTA’S “CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE CENTER”
AT 800-331-4331.

Ask them to put Connecticut BACK ON THE NEW ENGLAND MAP.

This is not a political issue, nor is it a partisan issue.  This is an American Issue.

Be strong.  Take New England Back!

Time to rid yourself of Christmas guilt – 2010 Edition


The current economic climate has brought about the perfect time to reassess what Christmas is about.  I recently read this posting that I wrote almost 2 years ago.  I decided that now is a good time to republish it.  The following has been edited and updated for this year but the message is the same.  I even fixed some misspellings, and rewrote some poorly constructed sentences.  I hope this post gives you something to think about.

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Christmas means different things to different people.  At its core, Christmas commemorates the birth of Christ.   It is a Christian holiday.  I  believe that unless you are devout in your celebration of this birth then you have no business celebrating Christmas.  Otherwise it’s no different than celebrating Hanukkah.  You may as well.  You’re guaranteed eight gifts that way.

I have not forgotten the magic that Christmas can bring, but from where does that magic come.  We are often more prone to charitable gifts during Christmas.  So to some less fortunate child, or family, a Christmas miracle could be one toy, or one meal.

Many of us get emotional during the holidays, mostly due to the memories of our childhood.  Some never had a Christmas. Some never had a happy Christmas.  I”m not sure which is worse; never having one, or never having one that lives up to the hype.

A few years ago, I had my own economic downturn.  Giving gifts that year wasn’t within the realm of possibility.  Yes, I could have given home-made gifts.  But, I would have felt inadequate and guilt that comes from NOT giving.

So I decided to take a different approach.  No Christmas presents?  I approached the people with whom I normally exchange gifts and told each one  the truth (do people tell the truth anymore? – I’m used to it, but I find that many struggle with it).  I told them I can’t afford to buy presents and I would appreciate it they didn’t buy me a present either.  I can’t pretend I have the money to do it, and if I spend money on gifts, I won’t have money for Rent, or Food, or to put gas in my car.  And I don’t want to feel the guilt of getting a gift when I don’t have one to give.  I don’t believe that my “plan” was received very well, but I had no choice but to move forward with it.

The most important gift in the world, in my opinion, is your time.  I wanted to spend time with the people I love.  Laughing, relaxing, telling stories, playing cards; all of those things that we rarely have time for.  Since most of my friends and family aren’t consistent church-goers, we weren’t celebrating the birth of the Messiah. No, in previous years we weren’t celebrating anything, and giving each other mounds of presents because of it.

In as little as one day after opening gifts, maybe less in some cases, most kids can’t remember who gave them what.  They were already bored with the toys, and the adults usually think “thank god that’s over”.   How sad is that.  Such a build-up and in a flash, it’s over.  Some are happy it’s over.  Some are disappointed that they didn’t “get what they wanted”.

In recent years many of the people I know were ready to take down the tree and decorations by the evening of Christmas Day.  And as we reflected on Christmas, we realized introspectively that we spent too much, probably went into credit card debt, and even if you got great stuff, something was missing.

After the time when I stopped giving out Christmas presents I didn’t feel that way anymore.  Christmas had taken on a different meaning.  As I said before, the gift of time, and laughter, I think, are such valuable commodities.  What an incredible relief it would be, don’t you think, if you never had to worry about the traditional gift giving aspect of Christmas?  I know people who say that they truly like the chaos of shopping for Christmas gifts.  I think they are lying to themselves.  I think they are trying to recreate a fantasy that is unattainable.   The magic of the perfect childlike Christmas is unattainable.

To me, it’s not that gifts shouldn’t be exchanged anymore, just not gifts that come with a receipt.  I have always believed that birthdays are special.  That is one person’s special day and that should be the day they get all the attention and a gift or two.  And I also believe in buying people things that you happen upon and give for no specific reason.  I bought a family member a certain gift,  just because I knew they liked it, not because it was their birthday or Christmas or any other holiday.  Those, to me, are real gifts.  The unexpected act of kindness.  But giving wrapped gifts is NOT necessary at Christmas.

So I am asking you to participate in a new kind of gift giving for the holidays.   Stay out of the stores and off the online shopping sites.  Make a promise to yourself, and to those you love, to spend time with them during the Holidays.  Why do we keep perpetuating the myth that a “present” equals “love”.  And if you decide to spend more time with the ones you love playing cards, relaxing, enjoying food,  and most of all laughing, then maybe you will begin to see what is really important.  You will be able to see it because your mind will not be consumed with guilt over whether or not you spent enough money on so-and-so, and “oh I hope he likes it, I don’t think he’ll like it” or “maybe I should get her something else, or something more”.  Rid yourself of that Christmas guilt and put your energy into memorable, intangible, important things.

We need to stop buying into Corporate America’s idea of Christmas;  the kind of Christmas that makes Corporate America rich.  They wait all year for Christmas because it makes up something like 60 or 70 percent of their profits for the year.  And you wouldn’t believe how they try to get into your head, and your heart, so that they can get into your wallet.  Stop the insanity.

If you believe in God, then you should know that God doesn’t keep track of the presents you give;  God only cares about gifts you give that can’t be wrapped.  If you don’t believe in God (nobody says you have to – I don’t) then all of this should make perfect sense to you already.

I welcome your comments.

Why this country is turning to shit


I wrote a restaurant review about a little place in my neighborhood.  I wrote that first piece about a year and a half ago; June 2009.  Since that first review, and the two subsequent reviews (I’m not a journalist but even I know you have to experience something more than once to write a credible review) the comments have come flying in.  Most of them trying to belittle me for not liking this restaurant.

People seem to have a problem distinguishing what an “opinion” is.  Moreover, they seem to have a problem with individuals expressing their opinion.  Just about every comment had direct, or indirect, language that insinuated I don’t have a right to my own opinion.   Yet no one saw the ludicrous nature of these comments.  A comment from a dissenting point of view is fine, but when you comment on the quality of the “chicken fingers” at a self-titled  authentic” Italian restaurant, I think we’ve veered off track, just a bit.

I simply gave my opinion about a restaurant that I think is sub-standard. If other people think differently, and accept the food from this place as “good” then that is THEIR opinion.  If people wish to tout the wonders of Stugazzi’s, they should start their own blog rather than taking shots at me for my opinion.  We have something called the U.S. Constitution that guarantees my right to free speech.  You should read it sometime.

The reaction to these posts is reflective of the bigger picture.   After my 3 posts about the restaurant,  I wrote an article on Tyler Clementi, the 18 year old college freshman who committed suicide because two very mean classmates “outed” him in a live online video.  Nobody commented on that article.  But when I had the audacity to question the authenticity of Chicken Fingers being authentic Italian cuisine, the public was OUTRAGED.

I don’t know if the public is distracted or stupid.  Do they simply WANT to be distracted so as not to deal with the realities of the world?  Or are they so dumb, and so self-centered, that the most important thing to them is sticking up for their local pizza joint.  In my opinion, you have a personal and moral responsibility to right social wrongs before wasting time commenting on the wait staff at the local “choke and puke”.

So why is this country turning to shit?  Because no matter what, it’s all about ME, ME, ME.  This country is filled with selfish, self-centered, dumb people who care only for what’s in it for them, and how they can vent their rage.

I know what it is like to feel beaten down.  I lost my job and was out of work for 18 months.  I was alone, meaning I don’t have a partner in life to help me through the tough times.  My car was repossessed and I was within days of being evicted from my apartment.  I was refused food stamps because I had not proven that my car was repossessed.  When I finally proved it, there was a hearing.  In that hearing it was decided that I took too long and I must have been hiding something.  So I was denied assistance.  Do you now how difficult it is to prove that you DON’T own something.

But I’m still here.  I”m still writing.  I’m still helping the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by sending them packages of things they need that the government won’t provide.  I don’t earn much money anymore, because there are so few jobs where I live.  I would relocate in a minute if I could come up with the money to do it.  I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got.  I’m falling behind, and falling through the cracks, but I’m still here.

My point is (and if I wrote this piece properly I would’t have to tell you what my point is) that even through hardships, the way to stay sane is to give of yourself to something or someone else.   America is supposed to be a charitable nation.  I just don’t see it.  That’s not to say there aren’t good Americans doing good things with their time and money.  But charity is not pervasive in our culture.

And I can prove it.  Again, I’ve written hundreds of posts on this blog but I will focus on two:

Restaurant Review for Stugazzi’s in Springvale, Maine – 27 Comments and over 1300 viewers

Tyler Clementi – A personal memorial –  Zero comments and 5 viewers.

That’s America.  We’ll stick up for our fried chicken fingers before we’ll stick up for gay people who are so isolated they feel the only way out is to kill themselves.

And that, my friends, is why the Tea Party candidates will probably win in many elections across the country on November 2.  The Tea Party knows how to distract Americans.  All the Tea Party has to do is shake the shiney keys in front of the babies.  The shiney keys are fear, hate, and lies.  The shiney keys are “nobody in Washington cares about you” and “they’re gong to raise your taxes” and “big government” and “spending”.  And the babies are you.

Americans will eat this shit up because they are too dumb to think for themselves.  And nobody wants to make tough decisions.  They’d rather defend their chicken nuggets than their neighbors.  And that’s why this country is turning to shit.