The Week’s Tweets (2010-05-23)

  • I ain't going to study comments war no more. #
  • Pennsyltucky! #
  • Wisconstruction! #
  • Fargo! #
  • So glad I decided to stop for the night in a town with an oil boom and a housing shortage. #
  • Underway. #
  • Secured from all Missoula operations #
  • Clear from post office. #
  • Clear from grocery store. #
  • Clear from house. #
  • Clear from garage. #
  • The wise man knows that the more menial and seemingly endless a task is, the better it prepares his mind for enlightenment. #
  • Headlines were once written with readers in mind… Now headlines are just there to get the search engines to notice. #
  • I think I will load all of our earthly possessions onto a truck today. #
  • My latest Went West column: Displaced and loving it. #
  • Yes, why don't they let the girls play one of those sports that has a "point"? #

The Week’s Tweets (2010-05-16)

  • Qwest couldn't find the recording, so I don't have to pay the cancellation fee. #
  • The good part about being sad to leave a place is that it means at least you had a good time there. #
  • The once-outrageous satire of the Simpsons is increasingly simply a mirror. #
  • Hey Missoula, anyone have any moving boxes they want to get rid of? #
  • No mystery here: women simply hunger for any kind of pants with pockets that will fit more than a tube of lipstick. #
  • Do I know anyone in Missoula who can lend me a dolly this weekend? #
  • Surprised that Coen seems to be trying not just to walk but to do so like an Egyptian. #
  • Yes! As I long suspected, increasingly wide incidence of "food allergies" is mostly BS. #
  • Are you an Asker or a Guesser? #
  • Teen love = rock n roll: Getting to feel big, important feelings is more the goal than actually making something work. #
  • Dodging this bullet: "Working overtime can take its toll on more than just sanity. It might be bad for the heart." #
  • Companies would copyright the air we breathe if we let them. #
  • Wonder if AZ imm. bill supporters suffer cognitive dissonance over Arnold Schwarzenegger finding them a bit dim? #
  • Man, Michael Steele's head must hurt sometimes. #
  • Man, Michael Steele's head must hurt sometimes. #
  • "The scientists studied a worm brain that is similar to human's when intoxicated." #
  • "Officials say firebomb thrown into medical marijuana business/ "NOT IN OUR TOWN" spray painted on storefront." #
  • "Officials say firebomb thrown into medical marijuana business/ "NOT IN OUR TOWN" was spray painted on the storefront. #
  • OK, now I understand what derivatives and housing default swaps are (in less than 500 words). #
  • Watching the Coast Guard respond to the oil spill, and remembering my own time in uniform, stirs something deep inside. #
  • Imagine how badly last week's Wall Street "glitch" might have turned out if the industry weren't full of our "best and brightest." #
  • My latest at Went West: when I think of my Coast Guard years, I mainly think about vomiting. #uscg #deepwater #oilspill #
  • My latest Went West column: when I think of my Coast Guard years, I mainly think about vomiting. #sempernauseous #

The Week’s Tweets (2010-05-09)

  • "What evidence do you have of lavishness at our winter meeting in Hawaii?" #
  • Killer app (well, hardware, technically) for parents: cell phone with earpiece built into phone, so it's always available. #
  • Don't most people use their last day to clean out their desk on the clock? #MyWifeIsCursedWithOneOfThose"WorkEthic"Things #
  • Is there anyone who understands less about American politics than Mark Penn? (No wonder Hillary didn't win.) #
  • When you find yourself reaching for the space or tab keys to format a Word document, please: get help. #
  • Cheerful at thought of wife's unemployment beginning in less than 8 hours! #
  • Why, in official documents, do people write numbers like this: "twenty (20)"? Is there really a risk of misunderstanding the word "twenty"? #
  • If the difficulty babies have sleeping were communicated more widely, people would probably stop reproducing. #
  • Surprised to learn that Newsweek still exists. #
  • What kind of homebuyer asks you to buy them CO2 detectors and a new toilet handle? #
  • Who started calling Tea Partiers "tea baggers," anyway? The Tea Partiers: #
  • Changing Coen would be easier with the assistance of one of those big, burly orderlies from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. #
  • Clarifying and simplifying an organization's jumbled, dispute-prone, committee-written employee manual. And I could do it for you, too! #
  • "The [cop's girlfriend's son], who activated the car's emergency lights, was not authorized to drive the patrol car." #
  • Hint for the day: you know that thing people say that sounds kind of like "mute point"? It's really "moot point." #
  • “I am all into national security. … I want to stop reading these guys their Miranda rights." #
  • Grover Norquist just doesn't know how much he doesn't know. #
  • Does this still need saying? Yes: "Borrow money to buy things that go up in value. Consumer debt is not your friend." #
  • I love how Montana cops are referred to in some technical sense as "peace officers." #
  • McArdle isn't ALWAYS wrong: "why is Joe Lieberman willing to share citizenship with Charles Manson but not TS bomber?" #
  • "He used a cannon to protect his home and office. " #
  • I can't quickly think of a more cowardly, embarrassing national politician than Joe Lieberman. #
  • Ur-foodie James Beard's philosophy: "Feel free and take a fresh look. My emphasis is on options. My motto: 'Why not?'" #
  • Oil spill: can anyone direct me to on-the-scene coverage of rescue/cleanup efforts, describing sea conditions, etc.? #oilspill #deepwater #
  • Car-bomb suspect trained at Pakistani terrorist camp, will ask for tuition to be refunded. #
  • Can't think of a commercial that makes me want to patronize a business less than the Ruby's Cafe/"you're so good" ad. #missoula #
  • "If you want 2-parent families with stable marriages, bypass Sarah Palin country for Nancy Pelosi territory." #
  • And in other signs of decline, not only does the Today Show exist but they are drinking "meat cocktails" on it right now. #
  • Will people ever stop saying "give a shout out to," or are we just stuck with that one? See also: "give props to." #
  • If you read only one essay today in which someone whines about how hard parenthood is, make it this one: #
  • "[S]tates that voted Republican were by far the biggest beneficiaries of federal spending." #
  • Tort-reforming Sessions advises Gulf Coast residents to sue BP. #
  • Passenger claims to be alien, requests to fly plane. #
  • Why don't we just let the free market clean up the oil spill? #
  • Why can't people just do what they are supposed to do? #
  • Hell hath no fury like a FEMA director scorned. #
  • Until today's conv. with the pest inspector, I never knew there were so many different things a person might want to kill. #
  • Thought for the day: if we had to have an oil spill, at least it was from a company that makes heavy use of the color green in its ads. #
  • And now to return to editing 100-word sentences of legalese! #
  • Reasons to have children: drink all the coffee you want with no trouble falling asleep! (In early years, at least.) #
  • GOPS's "damn" race problem: "If seeking diversity cookie, damned either way. If trying to learn, blessed either way." #
  • Boston water-main break turns coffee into "liquid gold." If you can't understand why, you obv. haven't had yours yet. #
  • To be fair, the AZ immigration law just got "less draconian." #
  • Oh, sorry that I was just muttering into a digital recorder while staring at the playground. #
  • Obama "beats" Leno at standup comedy-but then, so does the average house plant. #
  • "Sovereign squatters" a national movement: #
  • My latest Went West column: What's so hard about parenthood? #

It’s only terrorism if it terrifies you

In this AP article about the attempted Times Square car-bombing, I was struck by this quote from Crysta Salinas, a 28-year-old woman from Houston who was visiting the area when police moved in to investigate the suspicious Nissan Pathfinder:

“No more New York.”

There’s not much context in the article, so it’s possible she was only bemoaning the inconvenience she experienced (she “was stuck waiting in a deli until 2 a.m. because part of a Marriott hotel was evacuated because of the bomb”). As we’ve learned from, say, polls finding that huge swaths of Republicans aren’t sure whether Obama was born in the U.S. or not, sometimes people make dramatic, exaggerated statements when they feel out of control in a situation and want to express their displeasure. Maybe she was being interviewed at 2 a.m. in said deli. I know I’d be displeased, in her shoes.

But if she was really saying that she is never willing to visit NYC again, just because some mental midgets tried to detonate an amateurishly constructed car bomb-well, I’m just shocked. I thought Americans were made of sterner stuff. I know Texans like to think they are. Does Ms. Salinas realize that hers is exactly the reaction sought by whoever did this? And that she’s giving it to them in response to what amounts to a head fake?

Fortunately, not everyone is looking for a bed to hide under.

“This is America. This is what we do,” said Earl Morriss of Seattle, who was sightseeing. “Nobody is going to stop us from living our lives and doing what we want to do.”

That’s a little more like it.

The Week’s Tweets (2010-05-02)

  • Suspicions were raised by the fact that the wounds did not appear to be consistent with a spear fight. #
  • So glad they did away with the old Derby tradition of cooking and eating the winning horse "to absorb its power." #
  • NBC relieved that "the weather continues to be a story" as it looks to fill coverage of the hour leading up to a 2-minute horse race. #
  • China's presence in Africa better for Africans than traditional Western aid community? #
  • Why are the "similar stories" that newspaper web sites attempt to serve up so rarely "similar" to the one you are reading? #
  • Happy May Day: unions better as mutual aid associations than as vehicles for mobilisation of the working class. #
  • Do I know anyone with David Simon's email address? I need to volunteer my services for the inevitable oil-spill/Coast Guard season of Treme. #
  • Thought for the day: Missoula's Bagels on Broadway operates very much as if it were the only bagel place in town. It is, but still. #
  • Another oil-rig accident? Almost enough to make you think fossil fuels are dangerous and we should seek alternatives. #
  • Cleanup, baby, cleanup: fossil fuels without spills about as realistic as war without atrocities. #
  • Lots of dads in the parks these days. #
  • Two simpletons to be removed from gene pool. #
  • Health Care Reform benefits-such as end to dropping people because very sick-are kicking in ahead of schedule. #
  • Existentially dizzied by finding old third-grade classmates on Facebook. #
  • People, please: as a default practice, emails sent from your work account should have a signature block with phone number, etc. #
  • Also you Baltimore people: do I know any landlords just dying to get a renter into a vacant property? #
  • Hey Baltimore: do I know anyone who has done a full-service in-town move there? #
  • You haven't known fun until you've tried to sell two houses at once and buy a third while "working" from home/caring for a seven month old. #
  • I knew the whole Rough Rider thing was kind of a charade, but I never realized how deeply disturbed Teddy Roosevelt was. #
  • Fights broke out as a "stop the violence" go-go performance was wrapping up in downtown Silver Spring. #
  • Sure, Barney is always smiling, but he has the flat, affectless eyes of a sociopath. #
  • Disappointed that house inspection did not find the chests of Confederate gold I was hoping for, but I guess they would be buried anyway. #
  • In honor of Confederate History Month, why the "heritage not hate" excuse for flying the stars and bars is total BS: #
  • For my life insurance physical, does anyone have a pair of extremely light, extremely tall platform shoes I can borrow? #
  • Trying to remember that our interpretations of quick, out-of-context comments online are almost always wrong. #

The Week’s Tweets (2010-04-25)

  • Always a mood boost to listen to NPR opera shows-but only because I'm so glad I'm not like the people who host them. #
  • Sutton Stokes, one of the world's foremost practitioners of asides set off by em dashes. #
  • Funny comment on Facebook: Tea Partiers "are out to do away with everything they flunked in school." #
  • My inner amateur detective is chastened to learn fed's erroneous anthrax investigation kicked off by amateur detective. #
  • Funny how people who are-at least in their own minds-creative, original thinkers all comply with the orthodoxy of "artist's statements." #
  • Ohio GOP shocked SHOCKED to learn people find this sexist: "Let's take Betty Sutton out of the House and put her back in the kitchen." #
  • Tea Party a rebellion against GOP? Then why does it want what the GOP wants-tax cuts with no reduction in spending? #
  • U.S. gov. wrongly insisted for years that Hatfill was guilty of anthrax attacks-but don't worry, everyone at GITMO definitely "terrorists." #
  • RT @johncr8on: Assessments will matter when used as a tool to support student goals rather than score an institution. #els2010 #
  • New overnight baby-response schedule reminds me of port/starboard watch sections in the USCG. Ah, memories that I'm too tired to remember. #
  • In honor of Conf. History Month: "Thank [George] for taking the pistol away from you when you were shooting at me." #
  • What is this "NFL draft" thing anyway? #
  • Why on earth does NPR think anyone cares to hear book recommendations from Tina Brown? #
  • More #USAA #fail: my wife has to pay double life ins. premiums bec. 2 lbs "underweight"-after 15 hrs' fasting & height measured in shoes. #
  • Coen is an enhanced interrogation technique. #
  • Any suggestions for a basic PC netbook that can run Word and PowerPoint? #
  • Bizarrely written article makes it almost impossible to understand which video shows what and what's missing. #
  • GOP's definition of "judicial activism": the refusal to reverse GOP legislative defeats. #
  • Oprah will render her verdict after these messages. #
  • Before Oprah can grant Octomom the absolution she seeks, she must shame her. #
  • Oprah's career has now reached its zenith. #
  • Who do I know in Missoula with Mac Boot Camp or similar? Thinking of buying but want to test a very specific scenario first. #
  • Working on shrinking my income so my son can have health insurance! #
  • Trying to remember it is better to be the twig that bends in the wind than the strong branch that snaps off. #
  • I need a cheap/used PC. Only needs to run Word, PowerPoint, Visual Basic, and a web browser. Any ideas? #
  • But really, why should having been a Mob lawyer keep you from elected office? #
  • My latest Went West column is much easier to understand than an EOB from your health insurance company. #
  • Rather than walk the hundred yards to the state capitol, he rides in an SUV, air conditioning on full blast. #
  • Babies get cases of the Mondays? #
  • If you really can't understand/accept the need for gay marriage, I challenge you to read this shocking story: #
  • Cut off the head and the body… won't die? Well, yes, because jihadism is a movement, not an organization. #
  • The financial reform bill "bails out" Wall Street the same way car insurance "bails out" people who've crashed their cars. #
  • Protestors to utilize Obama-granted right to carry guns in national parks as part of protest against Obama. #
  • Coen is basically trying to stand. He can't really stay there, but he gets there. Should we be afraid? #
  • Speaking of speed traps, although not Hungarian ones…. #
  • "I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it." Happy birthday, Mae West! #
  • Easy way to tell if your news sources are lying to you: they call financial reform a "bailout bill". #
  • I wonder if Mitch McConnell's brain ever starts hurting from constantly obfuscating, or if he's just used to it. #
  • Do I know anyone who follows news about Hungarian traffic laws, or who was ever caught in a Hungarian speed trap? #
  • My latest Went West column: Why don't insurance companies care about clear communication? #
  • Translating from the Hungarian-to-English translation. #
  • "A thorough appreciation of literature allows no shortcuts": it's the birthday of the man who invented CliffsNotes. #

How to avoid shark attacks

It’s amusing, somehow, that-among the dozen or so tabs I have open in Safari right now-one contains the lyrics to the Dire Straits song “Money for Nothing” and another a New York Times article about fighting back against the illegal tactics of debt collectors. It’s just a coincidence, of course, but one that might seem telling to the many people who unquestioningly assume that people with debts in collection are simply deadbeats who deserve what they get.

I wonder if there is much overlap between such people and those who think that health care reform is about giving “insurance for nothing” to deadbeats, as opposed to giving everyone an equal right to give their money to a private corporation in exchange for moderate protection from financial disaster resulting from chance and accidents of birth-but I digress.

Just like no one can safely assume that they’ll never be homeless (even the one percent or so of us who have enough in the bank to outlast some months of unemployment, although by using “us” there I don’t mean to imply that I do), having a debt in collection is a circumstance we are all probably much more likely to experience than we might think.

Come to think of it, I experienced it, once-or, at least, a collection agency thought I did. Turns out the real debtor was someone else with a vaguely similar name who had an unpaid bill at some hospital in a state I’d never visited, and it was relatively easy to clear up.

Still, what with the state of the economy and the rampancy of identity theft, even people who make good-faith efforts to discharge their debts could still end up on the receiving end of the kind of threatening, obscenity-laced phone calls that plagued my family when I was in elementary school.

Now, let me hasten to point out that I have no problem with companies seeking out the money that is legally owed them, and boy did my family legally owe some companies some money back then. Nonetheless, there are laws enumerating what debt collectors can and can’t do, and threatening prison and/or levying shocking insults against the family members of people who have fallen on hard times and are struggling to pull their heads back above water aren’t among the former. At various low points of my own, there have been a lot of unpleasant jobs I’ve been willing to work, but debt collection-in which job openings are advertised frequently enough to suggest that it’s both a booming field and one that has difficulty retaining people, and gee, I wonder why-ain’t one of them.

So, partly to aid my own memory when the hammer falls, and partly for your own enjoyment, here’s the article lede, describing a man who seems to take personal pleasure in helping people make debt collectors follow the law, a personality that honestly feels pretty similar to my own.

Among debt collectors, Steven Katz is known as a “credit terrorist.” For years, he has run what he calls the Steven Katz School of Bill Collector Education, otherwise known as the “credit terrorist training camp.”

Mr. Katz, a 58-year-old accountant in suburban Tucson, spends his free time schooling debtors on the finer points of consumer protection law to help them turn the tables on debt collectors. On occasion, he thumbs his own nose at them too.

“How many times can I sue you? Let me count the ways…”

The article offers some practical hints about resisting collection efforts (prime among them: demand proof of the debt, because apparently a lot of times there isn’t any, just a notation that you owe money in a spreadsheet somewhere). But for the real deal, you probably need to visit Katz’s website (“website” as opposed to “Web site” AP-approved, by the way).

For comic relief, I enjoyed reading about this guy, even if this particular bit of color doesn’t exactly help improve the image of the category of people who might also find themselves resisting a collection attempt. Still, you have to draw the line somewhere:

“Mr. Scroggin, who provides price estimates at a body shop, said he was the type of person who refused to be taken advantage of, even for petty offenses. For instance, years ago, he said he joined in the class-action suit against the pop group Milli Vanilli, accused of lip synching, and collected a $1.25 check.”

The Week’s Tweets (2010-04-18)

  • Why not grill pork two nights in a row? #
  • Reporter at small rural paper spends 13 months combing financial data, wins Pulitzer. #
  • "Some of the most important reporting needs to happen in rural places where you don't have powerhouse media outlets." #
  • Tea Party funded by Soviet money? Well, sort of: #
  • Someone please sink the Pea Green Boat! #
  • I think I'm going to enjoy watching Mitt Romney pretend to be a Tea Partier for the next two years. #
  • At the park with a 7 month old. #
  • Yay for CHIP! #
  • "Is there an IQ test you have to fail in order to adopt a pit bull?" #
  • #FF: John Quincy Adams! (@JQAdams_MHS) #
  • First call to Poison Control went well. (Apparently a little Desitin snack is nothing to worry about.) #
  • Has the furor over health care reform distracted us from the real danger? THERE IS FLOURIDE IN THE WATER, PEOPLE! #
  • People still wear herringbone chains? #
  • Tax party. #
  • Do I know anyone with some real skills/deep knowledge concerning health insurance, COBRA, CHIP, and stuff like that? #
  • Oh, great, COBRA doesn't really help you if you move out of state. Sometimes it seems like health insurance might need to be reformed. #
  • The more I watch the Steve Wilkos show, the more I think, "I could do that." #
  • If GOP returns to full power, what will they give us? Another prescription drug benefit … or No Child Left Behind? #
  • If conservatives pay attention to people like Conor Friedersdorf, they just might save themselves yet. #
  • Great to get preapproved by USAA. Sucks that they mistakenly recorded that I make twice as much money as i actually do. #fail #USAA #
  • Massive fail by USAA. I take back every positive thing I've ever said about them. Absolute amateurs. #fail #USAA #
  • So it turns out that you get what you pay for with third-party printer-toner cartridges. #
  • Rubik took a month to solve his own Cube. (I never have.) #
  • "Nothing took place worth noting": Twitter similar to semi-public "pocket diaries" popular in 18th, 19th centuries. #
  • In poll, Tea Party wants to have its tea and drink it too: "I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.” #
  • Coen keeps farmer's hours: asleep before sundown, up before dawn for the first milking. #
  • J. Raban: Why aren't people just as upset about "socialized money" (i.e. FDIC-backed banks) as "socialized medicine"? #
  • Oh, wow, Friendster still exists and my profile is still up? #
  • Great lesson that I really need to learn: it's all about what you expose yourself to. #
  • GOP is "against" Wall Street, so it's opposing legislation that Wall Street doesn't want, either. #
  • GOP: "mainstream" SCOTUS nominees = those who agree that health care reform is unconstitutional. #
  • arizona #
  • Guilty secret: when email lists don't have a one-button unsubscribe option, I just mark them as spam and let Gmail run interference instead. #
  • Wondering why diaper-changing tables don't come with restraints. #
  • Before you buy the whole liberals = progressives/therefore fascists argument, try reading up on the actual history: #
  • I wonder why Apple doesn't look at how Firefox works and copy it, so that Safari can you know, work too. #
  • If there is a crappier kind of laptop than a Dell Latitude D630, I hope I never have to use it. #
  • Just subscribed to the ProPublica blog. ("independent, non-profit investigative journalism in the public interest.") #
  • Daughter of anti-anti-discrimination activist comes out of the closet at city council hearing. #
  • If John Edwards's career is over, why does Newt Gingrich still have one? #
  • My latest Went West column: the box is always more fun. #
  • Comments are never the best part: #
  • Missoula house hunters: 2 bdrm on the Westside. Open house 2-4 today! #missoula #realestate #
  • Missoula house hunters: 2 bdrm on the Westside. Open house today! #missoula #realestate #
  • Missoula house hunters: 2 bdrm on the Westside. Open house today! #
  • Out of my hundreds of Gmail contacts, there are exactly two of us doing anything with Google Buzz. #

The Week’s Tweets (2010-04-11)

  • "Russian officials said they assumed the adoptive mother was joking when she asked about their 'return policy.'" #
  • "How to Defeat Someone Made Furious by "How to Defeat a Pit Bull with Your Bare Hands"." #
  • Missoula house-shoppers: open house at my 2-bdrm slice of the good life tomorrow (Sunday), 2-4. #missoula #realestate #
  • Ratzinger personally denied a bishop's petition to defrock a rapist-priest for fear of scandal. #
  • Mark Heyka says "hwhy". #
  • "1 Fish, 2 Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" much better than I expected from the title. #
  • “What audacious criminal, what mystifier, what maniac collector, what insane lover, has committed this abduction?” #
  • Writing is ruining my body. #
  • "It is a communist chocolate hellhole and I'm here to stop it ever happening." #
  • Party of business competence and acumen: "Young Eagles" pumped GOP for cash, rarely donated any of their own. #
  • Hoda Kotb's job apparently is just to drink all morning on live television. #
  • Thinking that the Wikileaks video is probably just what war looks like. Don't like it? Blame the war, not the soldiers. #
  • Republican governor makes back-room deal to battle back-room-deal-tainted health-care bill: #
  • Blasting George Lewis and gardening. #
  • Yet more evidence that ACORN "buster" James O'Keefe played fast and loose with the truth: #
  • I like the thought of the responding officers attempting to "console" this man. #
  • Looking forward to reduced–price candy, ham, and flowers tomorrow. #
  • House shopping in Missoula? Open house today, 12-2. #missoula #missoularealestate #
  • Is there a holiday this weekend? And is there some new Apple product for sale? #
  • My latest Went West column: What I'm looking forward to about small-town life. #wtcomm @wtcommunities #
  • "[C]orrupt officials and morally absent financiers built a device that converted s*** into billions for Wall Street." #
  • Breaking: president is black. #

My series of essays about moving to a small town

Over at Went West, I’ve been relentlessly analyzing and parsing every imaginable aspect of our upcoming move from Missoula to Elkins, West Virginia. Here’s what the series is looking like so far: