Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Corporate incest

I must have a naïve streak or something. Somehow, despite my years of experiencing the shaft from corporate misers and greed merchants, some little part of me really expects my next transaction to be done in the fullest flower of honesty and transparency. And invariably, I get shafted yet again.

We all know my hot water heater burst a week ago, sending 200 litres of steaming hot water into the guest wing of my house. The brand new hardwood floors were ruined and the ceilings were waterlogged and buckling from being saturated by the steam. Indeed, the entire suite…two small bedrooms and a bath…was like a steam room at a spa, water coursing down the walls and dripping off the doorframes, windows opaque with steam, water standing on the floor. My maid went up a ladder for me to inspect a particularly bulging bit of ceiling and when she touched it, her hand went right through the ceiling board!

We called our insurance company, the floor company, and our regular builder/renovator. Anthony the Builder showed up first and within hours had a quote to me for fixing the ceilings. The floor company arrived first thing the next morning and left me with instructions and the name of a company with dehumidifiers to extract the water; the insurance company’s inspector also came out the day after the incident to inspect the damage. He took a copy of Anthony the Builder’s quote for ceiling repair and asked us to have Anthony the Floor Guy call him as soon as he had a quote for repair/replace the floors.

Last night the insurance company called Hubby and offered to settle cash in the amount of Anthony the Floor Guy’s quote for replacing the floors…over the past week they have cupped, buckled and warped beyond any hope of repair. He was happy with that, but what about the ceilings, he asked. Seems that the inspector completely left the ceilings off his report!

So, last night Hubby emailed a copy of Anthony the Builder’s quote to the insurance lady, adding in his comment that the inspector had been given a copy of the quote at the time of his visit. Curiously, I received a call this morning from a woman from another company wanting to set up an appointment to come out to the house to inspect the ceilings!

“Wait!” I interrupted her babbling. “Wait! The ceilings have already been inspected! We gave a quote from our builder to the inspector who was here a week ago!”

The insurance company had called her just that morning, she said, and told her our ceilings needed to be inspected. Now this made no sense to me at all. First of all, an entire week has passed, a week in which extractors and dehumidifiers have been running 24/7 in those rooms. The ceilings are pretty well dried out now, with only about 25% of the actual damage visible to the naked eye. The original inspector was here while the water was running down the walls and dripping out of the ceilings. There’s not much to see now, even though the integrity of the ceiling panels are now thoroughly compromised. (We all know what happens to sheetrock when it gets saturated with water, don’t we?)

She insisted that the insurance company wanted her to come out to inspect. I again argued that there is little for her to see, that the man who came out a week ago saw the damage and the saturated ceiling panels, and that the insurance company should be speaking with him, not sending out a new inspector a week after the damage occurred. She said she would call the insurance company and get back to me.

I immediately called Hubby and told him what was going on. He called the insurance company and when he got back to me, the story was a very different one. Apparently the guy who was coming out was not an inspector from the insurance company, coming to assess the damage and submit a report, the guy was a contractor coming out to look at the ceilings and submit a quote for repairs! Why hadn’t that woman said so? I get competitive quotes…I do not get a second, clueless inspector being sent out a week after the fact to assess damage that is no longer clearly visible to the naked eye. Just because the sheetrock is no longer grey and swollen with water doesn’t mean it isn’t damaged. “Let the guy in,” Hubby said. “He is just supposed to look at the ceilings for a quote to repair.”

Mollified, I agreed and a bit later the phone rang and it was the woman again, wanting to set an appointment for an inspection. What?? I don’t know about you, but to me, an “inspection” for an insurance company…which is what she said she was trying to make an appointment for…is a far cry from a contractor coming out to take a look at a problem so he can prepare a quote for repairs. I asked for clarification of just what it is they wanted to do here.

She kept invoking the insurance company, saying they had been contacted to come out and inspect the ceilings. I told her that had already been done, the man was here on the day the ceilings were still wet, he took pictures, we gave him a copy of the repair quote. I suggested that she refer the insurance company to that inspector and find out why he didn’t include that in his report.

“Oh,” she said. “He was only there for the floors.”

What?? If that was the case why did he ask for the quote for the ceilings and take pictures of them?

I was a little non-plussed by this revelation, so I changed tactics. “Tell me,” I said. “Exactly what is it you want to do here? Are you coming out to inspect the damage and write a report for the insurance company? Or are you coming out to do a quote for repairs to the ceilings?”

“Both,” she said.

The light in my head finally went on.

“Both?” I asked. “Are you a contractor, a construction company that actually does this kind of repair work?”

“Yes,” she answered.

“But you also come out and assess damage and submit inspection reports to the insurance company?”


“I don’t get it,” I said, thinking about the requirement for arm’s length transactions to avoid the even the appearance of fraud.

“We’re on the insurance company’s board for inspection and assessing damages…”

YOW! Could the relationship be more incestuous? Shouldn’t the entity doing the damage assessment be one that cannot benefit from its own assessment? I mean, this company is going to come out and give an “objective” assessment of the damage to my home and then turn around and submit a quote to the insurance company in a bid to do the work and get the money? If that’s an arm’s length transaction, those arms are pretty damned short!

I let long silence develop between us and she finally broke it by asking when they could come out. Obviously she had not used the time to reflect on the inappropriateness of what she had just told me.

“I’m home all day,” I told her. “They can come anytime today.”

It will be interesting to see how this plays out because, come hell or high water, Anthony the Builder is going to replace those ceilings, not the insurance company’s pet contractor.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Morning Breakfast Out: Take 2

Hubby and I went out to breakfast yesterday and decided to return to the same place this morning: he, because they serve “baked beans” (pork and beans to Americans) with one of the breakfasts, me because I was curious if the speedy service we received yesterday was the norm.

This little coffee shop, called Beanz, is inside the small Table View Mall and located directly across from the entrance to the Pick n Pay (South Africa’s answer to Safeway). At 9:30 on a Saturday morning, the parking lot was jammed and the mall…including Beanz…was busy. Bu the service was fast, efficient and pleasant, despite the place being nearly full.

Hubby and I returned this morning and it was a whole different story. Where yesterday we took the only available booth in the place, this morning there were only two occupied tables when we walked in. The young lady who brought us our menus…before I even had my sunglasses off and traded for my normal specs…took our drink orders and when Hubby started to ask for sweetener, her eyes flicked to the little container of sugar and sweetener packets already on the table.

If yesterday’s service was good, today’s was phenomenal. There were three employees out front…two servers and a manager…and nobody went without attention for long. Before our drinks were served, another server came and took our order, no quibbling over special orders (Hubby wanted a frank with his breakfast) and or quailing over scrambling the eggs. No sooner had our order been taken than the original server appeared with the drinks…and my Coke Light was a full 340ml can, not one of those puny little ones or a fountain coke which always seem to be just a wee bit flat.

The food arrived before Hubby had finished his coffee, and everything was perfect. Generous portions correctly prepared and served quickly…even the toast was hot enough to melt the butter spread onto it. During the course of our meal the server stopped by once to see if everything was ok, and my plate was removed shortly after I finished. There was no waiting around to pay the bill because the server was too busy chatting with a co-worker…nope, when Hubby put his credit card out with the little folder, the server was right there to collect it. By the time our bill was settled and we were on our way back to the car, we had been in the place only half an hour…

Contrasted with our experience of three weeks ago, this place was a breath of fresh air: good food, well-prepared, efficiently served, all at a cost of only R135, tip included!

Beanz, we are coming back! And if you are reading this in Cape Town, I highly recommend you try this place!

WE WON! Tenant from Hell Update

The magistrate has found in our favour with regard to Lynda's destruction of our property and her back rent. At this point, a judgment has been issued in our favour and we have instructed our attorneys to proceed with collection.

Unlike America, where you can get a judgment but are your own when it comes time to collect, the law here provides for the sheriff to immediately seize the movable assets of the debtor. Lynda has dragged her feet for almost ten months...we've been in litigation for five months...and during this entire time she has paid only R5000, an amount slightly more than what she claims her her total indebtedness to us, never mind that just her past-due rent is almost twice that amount!

So, we have instructed our attorneys to instruct the sheriff to get on with his business...with the roofing and water heater disasters of the past two months...not to mention both cars breaking down...we need that money! Her damages to the property we covered out of our own pockets and now it is time to get it back.

I wonder how much the sheriff is going to get for that pretty lavender BMW of hers?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tying the Thaali

Have you ever had a Madras plaid shirt? Madras plaids were very popular when I was a teen, and have come in and out of fashion ever since. They are light and cool and the colours tend to run together a bit when washed, which is part of their charm. They were a perfect addition to the Southern California beach lifestyle of my youth.

Madras…now called Chennai…is actually a city in the southern Indian state of Tamil Naidu. My husband’s nationality is South African, but his ethnic heritage is Indian…Tamil, to be precise. It may surprise you to know that more than a million people of Indian origin live in South Africa…Durban, in fact, is the largest settlement of Indian people in the world, outside India! And with that many Indian people living in the same community, many of the traditions of their homeland have remained intact.

Hubby and I were married nearly five years ago by a non-denominational minister in California. The thinking was this: the American government can be unpredictable about accepting such things as marriage certificates between an American and a foreigner if the marriage is performed outside the country. Furthermore, the US Immigration service might frown on a marriage between a 56 year-old American woman and a 31-year-old foreign man: they seem to think any foreigner marrying an American only has a “green card” in mind, and given the age difference, we decided to minimize the number of possible objections to the legitimacy of the marriage (foreign wedding) by getting married in the US. It’s rather moot, considering we live in South Africa, but if we ever want to return to the US and live as a married couple there, his ability to get a green card must be preserved.

The upside of getting married in California was that my friends and family could attend. The downside was that his friends and family could not…and the traditions of his culture could not be adhered to, either.

Well, our fifth anniversary is coming up in November and that is about to be rectified. His mother has consulted a Brahmin and the actual day of our anniversary has been pronounced an “auspicious day.” This is good, because one must perform important rituals on auspicious days, and the sentimentalist in me wants a ceremony officiating our marriage in his traditions to be on the same day as our marriage was performed in my traditions. So, on the eighth of November this year, we are going to the temple and we will participate in the “tying of the thaali.”

“Thaali” is a Tamil word and the thaali is the symbol of marriage in the Tamil (and many other) culture. The tying of the thaali is the most important ceremony in an Indian wedding, similar to our custom of exchanging rings. An Indian woman takes the thaali to be the most esteemed token of love offered to her by her husband.

Legend has it that the thaali was originally a tigers claw or tooth, and if you look at the thaali in the picture above, you can see the stylized tooth shape. The groom gifted his bride with this token of his bravery (apparently he was supposed to have killed the tiger himself, quite a feat in the days before hunting rifles!) and as a symbol that he was brave enough and strong enough to protect and provide for her.

Hindu married women, often wear a necklace with a gold pendant...In South India, the necklaces are often made from a colourful cord. The shape, size and number of gold pendant(s) used are rather dependant on the cultural background of the wearer.

To an Indian woman, this is rather like wearing the wedding band, it is a bit longer and heavier than the gold wedding band, but it serves the same purpose - an overt signal to all around, that the lady is spoken for.

The necklace is invariably given by the groom to the bride at a key stage during the wedding. It is his way of saying, “You are as precious as this gold to me” and his way of showing that he values her above all else.

It is called mangal sutra [in North India], because it represents “auspiciousness”. By wearing it, a woman announces that she is happy and fulfilled in her life, this is what makes her “auspicious”. The sutra represents the many strands of emotions, love, faith, trust, friendship etc that go into making up a relationship, especially one that is suppose to last a life time. It also represents the many relationships that bind them now, those of the two families that are now woven into one.


In my husband’s family, the thaali is worn on a thick yellow cord, and it is kept beneath the clothing rather than displayed like a necklace or fashion accessory. It is also a custom made article…one cannot walk into an Indian jewellery store and say “Let me see your thaalis,” because it doesn’t work that way.

In my husband’s family the tradition is that a senior member of the family must order the thaali (I am guessing that this signifies acceptance/approval of the marriage by his elders). Each family has its own distinct thaali design, and apparently certain jewellers make thaalis for certain families and they know what the design is supposed to look like. Since we are already married, the whole Indian wedding thing can be dispensed with (to Hubby’s great relief), but I will still have to enter the temple barefoot and in a sari…Hubby has requested that I wear my wedding sari from our marriage in California. With a small number of family members present, the priest will direct him to tie the thaali around my neck and then give us his blessing. We will then be officially married in the eyes of the Hindu community.

Why is this important? Well, at least one of his relatives asks me “Do you have a thaali?” or “where’s your thaali” almost every time we visit. Although the thaali is worn inside the clothing, the thick yellow cord is visible, so if you aren’t wearing one, it is obvious. My husband respects the traditions of his family (and may be a bit intimidated by those formidable aunties of his!) and I would like to feel that we have honoured both his traditions and mine.

So, in November we are off to Durban for our anniversary and this year the gift will be one of tradition and great meaning.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Poll results

Fifteen people responded to the question "What in this series of posts most influences whether or not you will visit [the restaurant]"

Sweet Violet's experience: 0
SV's writing style: 2
The manager's responses to SV: 12
SV's responses to the manager: 0
None of the above: 1

I'm not sure how my style of writing (as opposed to the content) influences...it was included in the poll because the manager seemed to think it was significant. If you were one of the two who voted regarding my style being influential, please drop me a comment and enlighten me as to your reasoning.

Then again...this poll was open to anyone, who's to say the manager didn't drop by and click that button himself, just to make sure his point was validated?

Dodge City Dispute: do I need a silver bullet or a wooden stake??

If the latest installment of the apparently immortal Dodge City dispute doesn’t interest you, click this link for something you might like instead: http://cheaptricksntips.blogspot.com/ . For those of you who want to know what is the latest numbskull trick Mr. Dodge City has pulled, read on.

It is no secret I have a low traffic blog. It’s been that way since its inception more than four years ago and I’ve done very little to change that. Just last week I learned about blog page rankings but I have no idea how to find out what mine is…and I don’t care enough to spend the time finding out what it is, why it is supposed to matter, or how to find out what mine is. The importance of this disclaimer will become apparent in due course.

Anyway, this past week I noticed a jump in my stats (I have one of those little counter thingies you can get free on the web). Today, I had a further jump, all without any appreciable reason. Surely my recent blogs about the burst hot water heater haven’t rung a lot of empathetic bells? I checked the site that gathers the stats…most of which is Greek to me…and saw that the blog had an unusual number of Google hits. When check for the Google search words, I suddenly realized that people were picking up words from Mr. DC’s blog, plugging them into Google, and ending up at my blog. Bizarre, eh?

So, I checked his blog to see what was going on and imagine my shock to see the name of my blog emblazoned in bright letters at the top of his posts!! No kidding! “A View From The Other Side” was part of the actual title of two of his three posts!

Now, I’ve been blogging for more than four years, but I don’t know much about the technical aspects of it…and I don’t care to know…but this guy is even more ignorant than I am about how blogging works. He is driving traffic to my blog with his obsession…people who come to his blog to find out about his restaurant (one of the diners is located in one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cape Town) are, instead, finding out that he has an obsession about a customer who complained about the service…and the curious ones are finding me through Google. He may have figured out how to put up a WordPress blog, but he has no idea how he is hurting himself and helping me by informing every person who finds his blog that if customers complain about the service, they could end up being the target of some obsessive cyber-stalking and character assassination! And, he hasn’t figured that driving traffic to my blog makes it more popular when people do searches for me or for topics I have written about in my very eclectic blog.

So, today he posted a rather long rant in response to a short comment from someone I used to occasionally spar with on the web. Interestingly, he didn’t post my comment to the very same blog entry, so it is now official that he is refusing to allow me to have the same say on his blog that he had on mine. Heaven forefend there should be any information published on his blog that does not exactly conform to what he wants people to believe! Anyway, Jim (my erstwhile sparring partner) posted this comment:

Well this has been interesting, for me SV was OK we never saw eye to eye on just about anything, but I still liked her. And if you’ve managed to get her to change her blog well your a better man then me Gunga Din….But I don’t eat urgers [sic], or stuff like it…and carry on blogging can be ineresting [sic], funny or down right frustrating, but you gotta stop plugging the place…Cheers [Jim has a decidedly conservative bent while I am known to be a wild-eyed liberal--of course we didn’t agree on anything!]

Here is Mr. DC’s response to Jim's comment (in red) and my remarks on that response (in green):

re: re: Dodge City Diner - Customer Service Response

Thanks for your comment. Has been an interesting experience for me as well. Have been in restuarant [sic] game for more than 20 years and never come across anything like it.

A restuarant [sic] Complainant’s motive typically lies in either wanting a refund and/or just drawing the problem to the attention of management for rectification in good faith.
Well, there are other reasons…like, I like the food but your crappy service is driving me away. Like, this is my third visit to this venue and the service has been bad every time (see my original mail/blog post), but this time it was just bad beyond belief. Like, maybe I was wanting to get the service fixed so I wouldn’t have to stop coming into the restaurant because the service was so dismal?

SV’s complaint appeared to be backed by an additional motive - events suggest getting exposure for herself - maybe as a writer or whatever. How so? Notice there is no quote or direct reference to anything that would support this allegation. And the evidence suggests otherwise: four+ years of happily blogging along as a low traffic site with no evidence to suggest an attempt to increase it. Logic, also, is on my side…if I wanted to make a name for myself as a writer, why would I pick on an unknown diner at the bottom of the world? Wouldn’t I try to piggyback my efforts on something a bit more visible than a diner that has no website, no reputation outside this one city, not even a blog? The whole allegation doesn’t make an iota of sense. SV’s blog content suggests vindictiveness as a possible motive as well. Again…in what way? Where is a quote or some logical explanation for this allegation? He can’t do it because there isn’t anything. SV’s 2 odd page complaint was outside the norm in almost every sense. Well, “2 odd page” is usually interpreted as meaning “more than two pages.” If you say you have "twenty odd cents," don't you mean twenty cents plus a few? Using 10 pt Arial, it comes to barely 1.25 pages: here is just one of many, many examples of the distortions of truth that permeate his blog entries and emails to me. As far as my complaint being “outside the norm,” what kind of indictment is that? Only people who write complaints inside “the norm,” whatever that might be, are entitled to being taken seriously and treated with respect?

Problem is that while SV secures her desired exposure, [at best this is speculation; at worst, libel] an inaccurate account of events can do serious and unreasonable damage to the business concerned [true…but my account is not inaccurate and, if I am wrong and it is inaccurate he has intractably refused to tell me what is inaccurate about it so I can make corrections] - threatening the livelihoods of all deriving an income from the business. In DCD’s case we have 4 outlets emplying [sic] about 300 staff. It became necessary that I warn her of my right to recover damages in due course if necessary. Why, then, has he refused to tell me what is inaccurate? I have never refused to change an inaccuracy, but if he won’t tell me what they are, isn’t he the reason any inaccuracies that might exist haven’t been corrected?

During the dispute with SV, a very brief very miserable complaint was logged on Food24 against another DCD outlet. The Complainant suggested that Food24 readers do a google search - where they would coincidentally find SV’s blog. Hence my concern that exposure for her blog was a likely motive behing logging the complaint. Oh, what a crock! My mention of Food24 was days before someone posted that review. Any person anywhere in the world who had web access could have posted it. Not only did I not post it, nobody who has ever read my blog would mistake that review for my style of writing. He claims (below) that he has contacted Food24 to learn who posted the review but the fact that he doesn't know sure hasn’t stopped him from blaming me, has it?

I have asked for further details from the food24 complainant. No response as yet and events suggest that the complaint was fabricated and simply intended to unreasonably harm DCD’s reputation. That is entirely possible…but there’s no reason to think it was me. I was doing just fine exchanging emails with him and had no reason to go elsewhere, particularly since I was asking, in almost every email, for him to tell me what he thought was inaccurate so that I could consider an amendment. Maybe he’s the kind of person who tries to resolve a dispute on one hand while undermining those efforts on the other, but I’m not. Besides, I was winning that email war...what possible reason would I have to move to a new venue (like he did with his new blog)? SV swears that she has no knowledge of who may have logged the complaint! But on the balance of probability? How about some evidence instead of speculation? How about refraining from blaming someone until there is even a tiny smidgen of proof? Probability? If you are talking probabilities, what is most probable is that someone else read the early entry mentioning Food24 and made the review, given that hundreds of millions of people had that opportunity. Do I strike anybody reading this as being stupid enough to foreshadow something like that myself? Believe me, if I was going to put up a rude review, I wouldn’t advertise it ahead of time…and it would have been written with a great deal more panache.

Actual details of SV’s service experience in our store as per vidoe [sic] coverage was as follows: 9.44 enter store, greeted by manager, 9.46 waiter takes order for coke/cappucino, drinks at table 9.52, canderel at table 9.54. SV out of store by 9.59. This if the very first time I have seen most of this information! And how interesting that he limits his review of the video to time. In his apology email he refers to this video and states that the drinks took longer than the corporate standard and that there was no excuse for the staff being unable to find the Canderel. He even admits that a staff member left the restaurant to get Canderel from an outside source. Interestingly, this review also fails to mention my getting up from the table and going to the register to inquire what was taking so long to get the Canderel…and the fumble at the register, where it took three members of staff to process a cash transaction is omitted as well. Staff recall an altication [sic} of sorts between SV and hubby before they walked into the store - so emotions were high at the outset it seems! This is an out-and-out lie. Not only were we not engaged in an altercation, we were actually discussing various venues for Sunday morning breakfast and, upon seeing the Dodge City (we were en route to Spur), we decided to try them. We’ve had burgers there (and they are excellent) and the service wasn’t that good, but since only one other table was occupied when we entered, we actually expected to get better service than we had had in the past! Aside from the fact that Hubby and I seldom argue, when we do argue, we definitely don’t do it in public! If there were any high emotions as we entered, they were positive anticipation…they make magic with hamburgers, why not with breakfast, too? I find it very interesting that Mr. DC has failed to mention (or, to date, even acknowledge) my husband’s email to him clearly repudiating the charge that we were not having an altercation nor did I “unreasonably abuse” him as Mr. DC’s staff alleges. SV first blog claimed experience took 30 minutes - but has subsequently backed down on this and other aspects of claim. Another distortion of the truth. My first blog entry on the subject was a verbatim copy of my email to Dodge City. The second entry was posted immediately after I received his apology email which included a mention that his video footage showed we were there 15 minutes rather than the 30 I had estimated. Without so much as a suggestion from him, I made a new entry into the blog in which I accepted his service time and corrected the time to 15 minutes. I could not amend the first entry because it was a verbatim copy of the letter I sent…a copy is a copy, errors and all. This is considerably different from me “backing down,” especially when you consider that he did not sent the first attacking email to me until at least two days after I had made the correction!

I responded to the complaint with an apology and R50 voucher as a token of appreciation for bringing matter to my attention. This is true. He also mentioned the video footage and that his footage showed us we were in the store 15 minutes, not the 30 I estimated. At this point I had no reason to doubt the existence of the video nor his claim of 15 minutes. I immediately posted a correction…without requiring any proof from him, just taking his word for it. Cost of food order was approx R15. Um…I’m not entirely sure about this…I paid for this with an R50 note and I seem to recall getting about R25 back…but I could be wrong. I was so irritated by the time the three staff members finally figured out how to make the till accept a cash payment, I did not carefully count my change. But I do recall an R20 note and one R5 coin… SV rejected voucher –not true…my husband refused the voucher…so he did get the email and was just too rude to respond or even acknowledge receipt (of course he wouldn’t…it didn’t support his twisted version of the truth or his staff’s specious “observations”!) What he could not know is that, prior to his attack on me (after the two day silence), Hubby and I were planning to use the voucher, but at the Waterfront store where our service experiences have been better...not as good as they should be, but better- so refund not the motive. Well how amazing…a correct logical deduction! At last! So what was the motive DCD asks? DCD did not ask anything…DCD merely created a massive straw man and is now happily flailing away at it. No apparent good faith anywhere in logging the complaint. Since when does making a complaint require “good faith”? And it’s an awfully narrow view of the world to assume that there are only two possible reasons for complaint: gain or vengeance. How about something completely outside that restrictive little box: enlightened self-interest? I like the food but the crappy service was driving me away…why hasn’t it occurred to this person that my motive was to get him to improve the service so I would be able to continue patronizing his business? And what about ranting? Has he never heard of a rant?? If we removed every blog from the internet that contains a rant, would there be any left?

Re your concern re my trying to get exposure -Jim expressed a concern about Mr. DCD wanting to get exposure? Where? not to worry, that is not my intention. Ah...so his statement that exposure is not his intention is supposed to be sufficient to prove his intent, but that doesn't work for me? What is his intent, then? To libel a complaining customer? He has three entries on this blog and that's all he talks about! New at the blogging game. Recent entry was an effort to change the blog title to something other than DCD & see if it worked. Yah, right…and he changed the title of two of his blog entries to include my blog name…I’m wondering what WordPress would think of that since clicking my blog name on some Google results directs to his blog instead of mine…doesn’t that violate TOS? Try clicking on the link below and see for yourself.

This entry was posted on September 23, 2008 at 1:13 pm and is filed under A View from the other Side, dodge-city-diner with tags A View from the other Side, dodge-city-diner, dodge-city-diner-cape-town, dodge-city-diner-waterfront.

So, even though I know he’s not going to publish my comment…at least he hasn’t published mine in the past, so I have no reason to expect he’ll publish this one…I gave it my best shot:

Thought you might like to know that people are taking key phrases from your blog, putting them in Google and ending up at mine where they can read the whole story...your emails as well as my repeated requests that you tell me what you think needed changing and your refusals to tell. I know you won't publish this comment...I mean, why let me have my say the way I let you have yours by publishing your side of the story word-for-word?...but that's OK because I'll publish it myself.

But you might want to rethink this tactic...you are actually sending people to my blog who otherwise would never have heard of this, so you are telling everybody what bad service you have and how rudely you respond to someone who calls it to your attention. And, because they can take just about any phrase out of your blog, plug it into Google, you are actually sending people to read my side of the story! I doubt this is what you intended, but that's what you are doing (I checked my stat counter this morning and found multiple hits from Google, the key words lifted wholesale from your entries.)

I've always had a low-traffic blog (for four years), never wanted more than that because I blog primarily for myself and a few regular readers (most of whom are foreigners, BTW) but your blog has increased my hits by making people curious, so I'm gaining a bit of new readership thanks to you.

Oh, and does it seem appropriate to you that what purports to be a corporate website is publishing what amounts to character assassination...and not even having the common decency to allow the target a rebuttal? Not a very good business move...more like a spiteful kid indulging in some name-calling than an exercise in good corporate relations. But why should I care? If you want a highly unprofessional web image that holds you...and by extension, your company...up in a bad light, I guess it's no skin off my nose.

Thanks for all the referral readers though. Appreciate the mention and you creating all the buzz.

Believe it or not, there’s more! His second blog entry (19 Sept) was a verbatim copy of his first (16 Sept) entry with one notable exception: he changed the title of the piece to the name of my blog. Maybe that is how Jim (see intro to this entry) found him. I left a reply, since my previous reply to this entry had not been published.

Yup, you know this isn't true and sending people to my blog will prove it because your emails---proving it wasn't true---are published there.

Thanks for the referrals, though. You've made people curious (about something they would never even have known about it you'd been quiet and let it drop) and now they are coming to my blog to get the rest of the story. I wondered where all the extra traffic was coming from, since I usually have a quiet, low traffic blog and there's been a flurry of unexpected activity over the last few days. Now I know why.

In case you are wondering why I keep making entries about this…why I don’t take the high road and just ignore him…it is because of the doctrine of “tacit agreement” which, if my research is correct, is still in viable in South African law. A magistrate may impute tacit agreement to a litigant based on their conduct…or lack thereof…so if I err, it must be on the side of caution.

You see, if he publishes untrue statements about me and I do not refute them, a magistrate may impute my agreement to those statements because I did not refute them. Kind of a “well, if it wasn’t true, why didn’t you say so?” sort of thing. Tacit consent and tacit agreement are situations in which taking the high road could actually work against you. And, since this guy continues to bring up legal action, it’s not prudent of me to ignore his libels in the interest of taking the high road. It is more prudent of me to refute.

And that’s what this entry is all about.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Where's that rock?

First it was the roof…what we thought was a little leak turned into a major project costing the better part of a month’s salary.

Then there were the cars…first mine, then his. Not so bad as the roof, cost-wise, but a major inconvenience since it made us a one-car family for two+ weeks. At that time I wrote a blog entry about bad things coming in threes (http://sweetvioletsa.blogspot.com/2008/08/if-bad-things-really-do-come-in-threes.html ).

Well, the other shoe has finally dropped. This morning my husband, in mid-shower, yelled for me to go see if the geyser (hot water heater) was turned on. You see, with the Eskom power crisis still upon us, we often turn off our geyser in the evening to ease power demands, and occasionally we forget to turn it back on. Hubby was standing in the shower and had run out of hot water well before he should have.

I went down to the guest suite…the geyser is in a cupboard in the hallway there…and opened the door the suite. It only took two steps to know something was wrong…I was standing in warm water!

Reluctant to touch a light switch while standing in water, I went to the kitchen for a flashlight and upon my return, opened the geyser cupboard and flashed the light inside. Water poured down the outside of the insulating blanket and streamed, in half a dozen rivulets, onto the floor below. Since the floor is ceramic tile, it had nothing to soak into…except the oak transition strips between the hardwood floors in the two rooms and the tile floored hallway.

Hubby jumped into some clothes and ran outside to turn off the water to the house while I collected buckets to catch the water. Every large towel we own was pressed into service, soaking up the wet mess to be wrung out into the guest suite bathtub. Once the water to the house was cut off, the geyser ceased to be pressurized and the flow slowed to a trickle. Who knows how much water flooded the house? It’s a 200 litre tank (about 50 gallons) and it sure looked like it had puked its entire contents onto the floor!

A “triage” plumber has been here to assess the situation and he said a full crew is needed. The full crew arrived (two guys) and after poking around a bit the guy tells me that the geyser has burst…no surprise there. The good news, however, is that the geyser is still under warranty so the company will replace it for free.

So, we wait for the geyser replacement people who may be able to get to us today. We have no water to the house…thank goodness I had the foresight to fill my largest pots (big soup kettles) with water before Hubby shut off the water…Thandiswe is now washing a weekend’s worth of dirty dishes using that water…and I did a lot of cooking this weekend, so there’s quite a bit. No water means no laundry, no cleaning, no showers, no toilet flushing, nothing. It gives you pause to reflect on how your ancestors lived without running water or electricity…and makes you grateful for the technology that makes out lives cleaner, healthier, easier.

I’d go find that rock to hide under, but I’m afraid the geyser replacement people wouldn’t be able to find me there!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Internet dating: 12 tips to keep you safe

A girlfriend of mine…I’ll call her Brenda…dropped by the other day. She knows that I met Hubby over the internet, and that I was Fat and Fiftyish when we met. She’s considerably younger than I was when I was last single, but she’s a robust young woman, and the mother of a six year old boy. She’s divorced and has now been single long enough to have recovered from the worst of the shock of finding love letters from her husband to another woman saying they could be together just as soon as his permanent residency came through and he could ditch his wife.

So we sat around the dining room table, Brenda and a friend of hers, Anita, chatting about blind dates, internet romances (Anita wanted the story of how Hubby and I met), and drinking our tea. As the conversation progressed I began to realize that neither of these smart, savvy women had any idea how to protect themselves while conducting an internet search for Mr. Right. Having successfully navigated those perilous waters myself, I offered them some advice, amazed at their surprise over these common sense tips. Here’s what I told them:

1. Don’t use your real email address.
Conduct all of your searches and email/IM and other internet correspondence from an email address you have taken expressly for this purpose. You can use a yahoo!, hotmail, or gmail address. If the guy turns out to be a stalker…or worse…you can abandon the email address he knows and resume your search with a new disposable email address. Oh…and when you sign up for the email address, do not give out real information about yourself! Fake name, fake address, etc. You do not want to give a web-savvy stalker/hacker anything to track you with.

2. Don’t give out your real phone number. You can get a “throwaway” phone, a prepaid, if you feel you must give a guy your phone number, but never give out your real number(s) to anyone. That web-savvy stalker can track you down from your real telephone numbers, so don’t leave yourself out there. You can change the SIM card in one of these phones, getting a new phone number that the unwelcome cannot get.

3. Don’t use your real name in advertisements or in contacts with new men.
Use an alias, one that is relatively outrageous, so it is obvious that it is an alias. Try to choose something that can be shortened down to a cute nickname he can call you until you are certain he is safe to reveal your true identity to (which should not be in the first few weeks of knowing the guy). Something like “FluffyBunny” or “Lambiekins” or SugarBerry have opportunities for nicknames that he can call you by. Pick something that reflects you…not who you think you want to be…who you are. If you are 5 feet tall and weight 300 lbs, don’t call yourself WillowyWanda…that sets up a false expectation and will inevitably result in disappointment for you both.

4. Use a picture that does not show your face and body clearly. You don’t want the scary stalker dude whom you refused to meet recognize you at McDonald’s, do you? And sexy pictures are a bad deal all the way around…unless, of course, you are trolling for one-night stands with strangers. If you post a picture showing lots of cleavage (or more), don’t be surprised if the guy expects more than coffee and a chat on the first date…if you are advertising your body, he’s going to expect to get some of it.

5. Do not send pictures of yourself to a man you have not yet met. Two reasons: scary stalker dude (above) and…are you sure you want to be rejected or selected as being worthy of dating based on your looks alone? Do you want to be involved with a man who won’t consider your whole persona before judging your value as a potential date? It’s your choice, of course, but aside from the safety factor, this is a good way to weed out the shallower members of the opposite sex…the ones who don’t care if your brain works or if you would make a great mother to his future kids…the ones who only care if your face it pretty, your boobs are big, and your girlie bits are available to him.

6. Don’t be too eager to meet. Remember, the man on the other computer may be completely unlike the “person” with whom you are corresponding. If you can pretend to be a tall, willowy blonde just breaking into a modelling career, he can be pretend to be an investment banker with a Ferrari and a six-pack. Give yourself the luxury of time…engage the man in email and IM conversations and keep a level head…he may be everything he seems…and then again, he may not even be close.

This is also a good test of his true personality and intent. A man who is respectful of you and your feelings won’t pressure you to meet before you are ready. He won’t pressure you to send a picture, engage in “off colour” conversations, or try to manipulate you into doing something you don’t want to do or something that could present a possible danger to you. If he decides that, on the basis of a few conversations, he loves you…that’s a red flag. If he says “no picture, no more contact,” that tells you that a) he’s shallow and b) he selfish and manipulative. You can tell a lot about a person by how he reacts when he doesn’t get what he wants. Give yourself the luxury of enough time to discover if the man is a louse before you take the time...and expose yourself to possible danger...to meet him.

Do not allow flattery or promises or declarations of love sway you away from safeguarding your safety.

7. Do not give out personal information about yourself. You can tell him what you do for a living, but don’t tell him where you work, worship, shop or hang out. If there is only one Tae Kwon Do studio in your town, then don’t tell him you take Tae Kwon Do lessons…if there are 30 of them, it is safer (but not entirely safe) to reveal that. Don’t tell him what part of town you live in (he may decide to hang around the local supermarkets looking for you).

8. Meet in a public place. When you finally do decide to meet him face-to-face, make sure it is in a public place. And I don’t mean a bar or nightclub or cosy, intimate restaurant. Make it a brightly lit place with lots of traffic. Nothing says safety more than bright lights and lots of witnesses! Make arrangements with a friend to call you within an hour of when you have arranged to meet. That way if the meeting is going badly, you can pretend some emergency has come up, make your excuses and apologies, and get gone.

9. Get there first. Arrive early…half an hour early. Order your own coffee or soft drink. You do not want him to see you arrive because you don’t want him to see your car. He should not know what you drive, not even what kind of car you drive. Don’t give him a chance to copy down your license plate number (or even memorize it). And don’t let him see your driver’s license, a credit card or any of your ID, either. Lock your bag and wallet in the trunk of your car…just take your keys and a small amount of cash with you into the meeting place. Your best guess is that this guy is OK, but you can’t really know yet, so don't leave yourself vulnerable.

10. Dress modestly when meeting for the first time. Of course, if you are looking to drag the man to bed before the night is over, ignore this bit of advice. But unless you are planning on some carnal entertainment with the guy, don’t dress as if you were. First impressions are powerful, and if you dress like Jenna Jamison, he is going expect you to come across with the goods. Not fair, maybe, but that’s how men interpret what we are wearing. On a date…especially a first date…he knows you are dressing for him, and if you show up dressed to show acres of skin and in the sexiest way possible, you are giving clear “come ravish me” signals. He’s going to think you are a tease if you don’t come across…and you are going to think he’s an animal with “only one thing on his mind” when he responds to the invitation your outfit sent him. There are plenty of ways to dress in the height of fashion while keeping your midriff, cleavage, and thighs covered…for a first date with a man you are meeting for the first time, find one of them.

11. Avoid alcohol. Not even one little, teensy-weensy glass of wine. You are here to assess this man as a potential partner and you need to be clear headed to do this. Be ruthless, don’t think “Oh, I can fix this…”, be more willing to reject him than to accept him. Why? Because you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince, and the odds are, this guy is a frog. Don’t waste time on unsuitable men…one date and if he isn’t right…really right…move on. And how are you going to know if he’s right or not if you have alcohol clouding your judgment?

A related side tip: Don’t leave your drink unattended. Don’t even leave it close enough for him to drop something in it when you are distracted. There really are date rape drugs and there really are men who will use them. Don’t allow yourself to be victimized.

12. Don’t let him walk you to your car. In fact, wait until he drives away before you leave. If necessary, tell him a little story to get him to go without you…your brother/boss/best friend is going to meet you here shortly and you’re going to go take care of some family/office/girlfriend business. If he insists on waiting with you this is a red flag (possessiveness and lack of respect for your wishes). Excuse yourself to the ladies’ room, call your best friend on your cell phone, and get her to come rescue you. As soon as she walks in, walk out with her to HER car and drive around until you feel it is safe to come back for your own car. This is the kind of guy you got the disposable cell phone and email address for!

All this may make internet dating seem exceedingly perilous, but it is not. No more than meeting a strange guy in a dark bar while both of you have lowered inhibitions due to a few too many shooters. At least on the internet you get an opportunity to take the man’s measure, something you cannot possibly do in a loud club while your head is reeling from one Cosmo too many.

In dating, safety should always be a consideration. Use these tips to protect yourself so that you can actually relax and enjoy that exciting first date with a new man!

Talk like a pirate!

I just found out it is International Talk like a Pirate Day!

Avast me hearties! Talk piratical to me!

Poster from http://costumzee.com

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Judges don’t like frivolous lawsuits…

From the news:
NEW YORK (AP) - It's a rainy day for the Manhattan restaurateur who sued a supermodel claiming she intentionally damaged his designer umbrella, said to be worth $5,000.

State Supreme Court Justice Joan A. Madden threw out Nello Balan's lawsuit Friday. She also fined Balan's attorney $500 for filing a frivolous claim and said motions the attorney filed were a "waste of judicial resources."

Balan claimed he lent supermodel Le Call his limited-edition leather umbrella designed by Jean-Paul (ZHON'-Pawl) Gaultier (GOL'-tee-yay) and she belatedly returned it to him in two pieces.

Balan, owner of the celeb magnet Nello's, sought $1 million in the lawsuit and claimed emotional distress over the damaged umbrella.

Attorneys for both sides have declined to comment.


So, what was frivolous about this lawsuit? If the umbrella was, indeed, a limited edition and worth $5000 and the woman returned it in pieces, is the suit not legitimate? I mean, she damaged something of value…shouldn’t she be required to compensate the owner?

Ohhhhh…I see…a million bucks in damages for emotional distress over a damaged umbrella…is that the frivolous part of the suit? This guy must have been terribly attached to the umbrella to have suffered a million bucks worth of anguish over its dismemberment, ya know?

Maybe a little research is in order here…

From: http://guestofaguest.com/media/how-is-everyone-missing-the-obvious-here/
So our favorite douche bag restuaurantuer [sic]
Nello Balan is such a publicity wh**e that he now is suing a model for returning his $1,000 limited edition Jean Paul Gaultier leather umbrella with a broken shaft, the Post reported yesterday. The media outlets obviously had some fun with this story, but what they all failed to bring up was what was the most bizarre thing about this whole story: WHO THE F*** BUYS A LEATHER UMBRELLA? We are serious here guys….doesn’t anyone in their right mind KNOW that leather is the worst material to come into contact with water!? Wouldn’t it smell like a rotten cow hide after 2 minutes in the rain?! We already knew Nello is off his rocker, not to mention a cheap bastard, but this makes us start to question the sanity of Jean Paul Gaultier who actually designed such an atrocity. For a recap of the email exchanges between Nello and the model known as Le Call go here.

Here is what we picked up:
-Nat Rothschild’s driver needs a bonus
-Nello is anything but a gentleman.

-Le Call is as ungroomed and lazy as she claimed in
NY Mag’s look book this summer….we still think she is the least crazy of this bunch and should stick to free bikes…at least those make sense to us.
-Even top earning models aren’t making enough money to dine at Nello’s…which reconfirms to us that we aren’t the only ones that think his pricing rationale is completely retarded.
-The actual lawsuit in Nello’s lawyer’s words will be for “an act of disinterested malevolence, intentional infliction of mental distress, willful destruction of property, and whatever else I can think of.”
-Le Call’s response is to simply state the obvious, that “Nello is desperate for attention”, which leads us to believe models aren’t as dumb as they look.

Well, this guy doesn’t seem to get it himself…the issue isn’t whether the restaurateur overprices his meals, has frightful taste, or is an attention hound…the issue is personal property and the responsibility for damage thereto. Seems to me that if the model broke it, she should have apologized and had it professionally repaired and returned in a timely manner.

The restaurateur, by the same token, should have been a gentleman about it (although I can appreciate his being peeved that she didn't return it). Retaliation is unbecoming, however, and once he had it back, he should have had it fixed, sent her the bill, and if she didn't pay, take her to small claims court. No need to make a mountain out of a molehill!

But there was a discrepancy between the two stories…the value of the umbrella: $5000 vs $1000---a significant difference. So, I continued my search for information by clicking the “here” link and found this:

November 12, 2007 -- RESTAURATEUR Nello Balan is at war with a stunning model he says borrowed his $1,000 umbrella to stay dry, then got mad when he wanted it back and had a pal return it with a vengeance - broken in two.

It all started when Nello lent his leather, limited-edition Jean Paul Gaultier umbrella to blond catwalker Le Call at his Madison Avenue eatery last summer, then e-mailed her when it wasn't returned.

"I am an [--]hole. I will bring it in this weekend," promised the 5-foot-10 stunner, who then complained about Nello's menu prices. "Our last lunch there was ridiculously expensive. We were so psyched before, then kinda sick after. So we gotta wait until there are boys in town to take us, and Saturday I think there is a couple of out-of-towners who offered. See you then!"

Weeks passed, but, still, no umbrella, prompting Nello to rage: "Can you FedEx that umbrella? Or you decided to keep it?"

Le Call shot back: "Listen to me. I am in Los Angeles. I did not ask U for that umbrella and honestly forgot about it. I gave it to [banking heir] Nat Rothschild's driver to give back . . . I don't want to see, hear or think about that stupid umbrella again."

Nello replied: "I offered it to you because it was raining because I am a gentleman and I thought you are a lady. You called yourself an [--]hole! . . . it may be true . . . Stop behaving like a boulevardier [street person] and a petite voleuse [petty thief]. You don't give me the umbrella, I sue you."

Nello's lawyer, Bill Beslow, says that Rothschild's driver tried to drop the umbrella off last Tuesday but that Nello refused to take it because the shaft was snapped in two. A messenger tried to redeliver it, haphazardly glued together, on Friday. Beslow said he'd be in court today to sue for "an act of disinterested malevolence, intentional infliction of mental distress, willful destruction of property, and whatever else I can think of."

A miffed Le Call told Page Six: "How ridiculous is this? . . . It accidentally got sat on in a car . . . It is pretty funny, though. An umbrella that I didn't ask for or want and refused to take two or three times from a man who if he is so ridiculously upset about an overpriced, ostentatious umbrella, he probably shouldn't own one that expensive . . . Nello is desperate for attention, I guess."


Well, for the most part, this seems like a case of “no good deed goes unpunished.” The man presses an expensive umbrella on a young woman on a rainy day and she thanks him by breaking it, failing to return it, and then casts aspersions on his character when he gets upset about it?

Unfortunately, it seems that he let his wrath override his rationale because the lawsuit he filed was all out of proportion to the offence. Even if the umbrella was worth as much as $5000, I cannot imagine anyone suffering a million dollars worth of emotional distress over an umbrella…unless maybe it was made of solid gold, encrusted with diamonds and a family heirloom of many generations.

And that is probably what went through the mind of that judge…the sheer excess of the demand, so ludicrously out of proportion to the actual damages. There’s nothing to indicate malice on the part of Le Call, although she does come across as very cavalier, lacking in the most basic knowledge of common courtesy and exceedingly self-absorbed. I would guess that her haughty disregard was a large part of Nello’s own aggravation, but allowing his choler to trump his brain was a serious tactical error.

If I was the judge I’d probably be peeved at the lawyer, too. He should have advised his client that asking for a million dollars damages for an item worth less than one percent of that amount would not be entertained favourably by the court…that’s his job, to counsel people with regard to the law.

Too bad the lawyer didn’t convince his client to sue for the value of the umbrella and costs…that’s not frivolous and he probably would have won.

Dodge City dispute: more lives than a cat!

I should have known it was too good to be true. When Mr. DC emailed me the other night saying “Please do not communicate with me on this matter any longer,” maybe I should have smelled a rat. Well, truthfully, I guess I did smell a rat because I closed with “Dare I hope this is finished? I guess if I haven’t heard anything more in the next week or so (I thought it was over after three days of silence but it turns out I was wrong) I’ll believe it is done.” I should have listened to my gut and instead written “Dare I hope this is finished? Now, that would just be foolish, wouldn’t it?”

His one sentence missive seemed a bit sudden and out of character, based on previous correspondence. But frankly, after the flurry of threats and nonsense he had been bombarding me with all day, it was a relief and I happily acquiesced. I should have known it wouldn’t be that easy.

A couple of times a month I Google my screen name (sweetvioletsa) to see what comes up. I did that yesterday and guess what I found as the last entry on Google’s first page? http://wordpress.com/tag/dodge-city-diner-cape-town/. Seems my erstwhile correspondent has launched himself a blog! And it couldn’t be a coincidence that this launch just happened to occur on the exact same day he requested that I no longer communicate with him, now could it?

I read his entry…which he posted twice, on separate sub-pages…and sent a brief comment. I didn’t expect he would publish the comment—he has comment moderation turned on—but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and wait a day before publishing it myself. Interestingly, he has had full voice on my blog…his one blog comment has been published and once he became contentious, I published his emails in full (rather than excerpts)…but apparently he has no intention of allowing me the same voice I have given him. Well, I suppose that is in keeping with his apparent “no criticism allowed” philosophy…it wouldn’t do for his blog to reveal an inconvenient truth or two, now would it?

Here is what he published on his blog:
Dodge City Diner - Customer Service Response
D.C.D. would like to clarify a few issues regarding a recent customer (ie sweetvioletsa) service complaint noted on the web. In line with standard procedure, the customer’s version of events was accepted without question at the outset and a complimentary gift voucher was offered as a token of appreciation for having reported the matter to us.

When video footage of the incident was later reviewed, it it became apparent that the client’s version of events materially misrepresented the actual sequence of events. The customer was simply asked to please amend her blog accordingly. She refused - despite our pointing out that the Dodge City brand would suffer unfair damage as a result of her inaccurate account of events. This blog is being published as a last resort and in order to meet our legal obligation to mitigate the potential for unfair damage to the reputation of our brand.

Dodge City Diner is, and always will be, deeply committed to providing the highest standard of service to its patrons. The free voucher offered to the client was 3 times the value of her purchase

And this is what I wrote in a comment and, to date, he has not published it (he has comment moderation turned on):
You know this is not true. You refused to tell me what you thought needed amending and I asked you repeatedly to do so. And I have the emails (already published on my blog at http://sweetvioletsa.blogspot.com/ ) that prove this.

Please stop making a fool of yourself...and giving your establishment a black eye...and let this matter drop. I have tried to lay it to rest four times already and you just don't seem to want to let it go.

The service sucked, you admitted the service sucked, you apologized for the sucky service...and I corrected the ONE error you pointed out. That should have been the end of it. And it was until you turned up two days later demanding I amend the blog WITHOUT SPECIFYING what you thought needed amendment, and then threatening me.

Again, I have the emails to prove it, as you well know. So, why not quit while you are ahead, let it die and fade from memory? You are keeping it alive and in doing so, keeping it in front of the public, allowing them to go back to my blog and read the whole story, including your emails to me, in which you cast you in a very bad light. Let it go, man! Let time bury it and find some thing else...where you won't continue to shoot yourself in the foot...to obsess about.

Since I doubt you'll publish this, I'll keep a copy to publish myself, just in case.

And here’s what I didn’t say but decided to omit in the interest of brevity:

the customer’s version of events was accepted without question at the outset
Not true: in an email he specifically stated that his video footage confirmed my complaint and pointed out what he claimed to be a service time error which I amended in my next entry

When video footage of the incident was later reviewed, it it became apparent that the client’s version of events materially misrepresented the actual sequence of events
Not true: the video footage had already been reviewed, according to his previous email, and he agreed the service was slow and the staff was unable to find a standard condiment item, even though it was in stock. He further agreed that a member of the staff actually left the restaurant to obtain that item. All of this took a LOT of time…and that was the crux of my complaint…inexcusably slow service.

The customer was simply asked to please amend her blog accordingly.
True. What is omitted here, however, is that no specific divergence between the video footage and my account was offered, making it rather difficult for me to make amendment. How do you change something if you don’t know what is in dispute?

She refused - despite our pointing out that the Dodge City brand would suffer unfair damage as a result of her inaccurate account of events.
Not true. At no time did I refuse. I asked him to give me the specifics and said I would take it under consideration. If he had given me legitimate differences between the video and my account, I would have very likely have amended since the video is much more accurate than a human memory can be. Unfortunately, he evaded, ignored, or flat out refused to inform me of specific places where our accounts diverge. No amendment, therefore, was possible.

This blog is being published as a last resort and in order to meet our legal obligation to mitigate the potential for unfair damage to the reputation of our brand
Well, if that is the case, why isn’t he publishing my comment? And how does publishing the blog…with or without my comment…how does this libel against me (I can prove he is lying, after all) mitigate anything? Seems to me that he is going to do himself more harm than good…anybody with half a brain can Google Dodge City Diner and find my blog. Does he really mean to drive traffic to my blog and give his readers a peek at the awful things he has said?

The free voucher offered to the client was 3 times the value of her purchase
Not true: it was roughly double (R50). And what he fails to point out is that there is a reason we only purchased about R24 worth of product (a cappuccino and a Coke Lite) : the service was so abysmal we weren’t even able to place a food order in a timely manner! The waitress neglected to bring sweetener with my husband’s coffee, even though he has specifically asked for it (he’s diabetic…it’s a habit). When she brought the drinks Hubby gave his food order and, at the end of it, asked about the sweetener. Without taking my order and submitting it to the kitchen, the waitress left…and I mean that literally. After futilely searching for the sweetener, she left the restaurant! Now, Mr. DC’s account and mine diverge here…he says a manager left to get the sweetener, but I disagree: Hubby saw her leave, and I was at the register asking the manager what was going on with the sweetener when I saw her come back in. I will have to actually see that video footage before I’ll consider amending that. The fact remains, however, that during her long absence we decided to go elsewhere for breakfast.

So, the voucher was for roughly double a small purchase that was so small because the crappy service drove us away.

So, sadly, the dispute continues, just in another venue. Please feel free to visit his blog (http://wordpress.com/tag/dodge-city-diner-cape-town/) and see for yourself. But don’t count on any unflattering comments being published there…they might damage his Brand and we can’t have that, even when it’s the truth!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

QuadroBoobs…a new fashion trend?

I’m the first to admit it…I’m not exactly a slave to fashion. I’m into comfort and when comfort and fashion clash in my life, fashion inevitably loses.

But I am a keen observer of fashion, some of which I like and some of which I loathe, and recently I’ve seen something new being paraded about by the young and the trendy in my area: I have taken to calling the phenomenon QuadroBoobs.

We all know what Uniboob is, right? That unfortunate situation in which your bra squashes your boobs together and, instead of creating delicious cleavage, it causes a monolithic block of boob spread across your chest. Some tops will do this, too, but it’s usually bras that seem to be the culprits here. Everybody dislikes Uniboob, and it is the particular bane of the well-endowed. And while it is still seen from time to time, Uniboob is not now…nor has it ever been…a desirable fashion statement.

QuadroBoob, on the other hand, seems to be a new fashion trend for the young fashionista. Perhaps it is the novelty of actually have something there to display…or maybe it is the desire to give the impression of more impressive assets, I don't know. Whatever it is, however, I keep seeing young women wearing bras that allow a second wave of flesh to rise up and over the top of the bra cups, giving the image of four boobs instead of two.

Now, I don’t know if this is a new fashion trend or not. I was rather taken aback by the recent butt cleavage fad and at first I thought all those exposed thongs, g-strings and panty tops were the result of a sudden plague of sloppy grooming. Before that there was the trend of wearing blouses that strained their buttons across the bosom…and in the beginning I thought that suddenly a lot of women had either gone the Pam Anderson route and their blouses didn’t fit anymore, or the blouse manufacturers had become even more stingy with fabric and a blouse tagged size 10 was, in fact, an 8. But no…it was a fashion trend that, while cheap and tacky looking, took the world by storm. Then underwear became outerwear and bra straps no longer needed to be concealed when wearing a tank or tube top, they became part of “the look.” Never mind that the look was decidedly trashy and low rent…it seemed that “slovenly street-corner hooker” was the mode du jour.

So now I am seeing young women with what looks like four boobs. I am large busted and sometimes it is difficult to find bras that fit right…and even more difficult to find ones that both fit right and are pretty…and as a result I have had my own experiences with QuadroBoob. In my case, however, those experiences were a result of a poorly fitted…but pretty!...bra or, more often than not, my failure to take the time to properly “adjust” my assets when getting dressed—definitely not a fashion statement or a ploy to draw attention to that portion of my anatomy.

The reason I’m wondering is that I haven’t seen an epidemic of such slatternly fashion since pube-baring jeans coupled with peeping thongs were riding the crest of the hip wave. Is this really the harbinger of another public eyesore trend or just the carelessness of a handful of women who are either buying bras because they are cute (never mind how they fit) or who are just too careless to put them on right?

Can that many women be that careless all in one place at one time? I certainly hope so!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dodge City dispute: dead at last?

For those who are new to the Dodge City v SweetViolet contretemps, a brief recap:

Ten days ago my husband and I tried to have breakfast at a local restaurant. The service was so awful we left without even placing our food orders. Later in the day I wrote an email to the management and copied that letter to my blog.

A day later the manager contacted me. He acknowledged the service was poor and, citing video footage, claimed my reported service time was in error. He further apologized for the poor service. I amended the service time in my next entry, then dropped it, assuming there was nothing left to discuss.

Two days later I received an email in which he says that his video footage suggests that my blog is in error…this is the same video footage that he cited as verifying my complaint just two days before, mind you…and ending with a thinly veiled threat of litigation if I don’t “amend” the blog. Of course, he didn’t give me a clue what he thought needed amending, which rather prevented my even taking it under consideration.

For the next few days we traded emails and then someone who apparently thought my correspondent was being something less than kind in his communication with me, posted a negative review on one of our local restaurant review sites…one I had mentioned in a blog post…and suddenly he abandoned his original bone and began chewing on that one. The fact that 100 million or more people have internet access and could therefore have read my blog…and posted the negative review…seemed to escape him.

We’ve traded a number of emails…and lately threats… (which you can find in earlier entries) over the past week and what follows below is today’s email exchange (his in red, mine in green):

Events that lead me to believe that you were, in the balance of probability, party to the filing of the Food24 review include:
1 The fact that no person had ever commented about Dodge City Diner on Food24 prior Friday 12th Sept.
2 Dodge City hardly ever has customer complaints.
3 The party filing the review clearly knew of the blogs that you had published on the web, how to find them and clearly wanted readers to find these and read them - as much as you seem to.
4 The party filing the review appears to share your view that Dodge City threatens Bloggers. An unusual interpretation of my correspondence and at the very least reflects a very unusual, and in-depth, interest in the content to your blog.
5 The party filing the review clearly had sympathy for your cause and that of bloggers in general - as you do.
6 Your knowledge of Food24 review filing procedures and apparent knowledge that I have not contacted the person that filed the review.
7 You appear to either know or are, at the very least, getting feedback from the the party that filed the review.
8 The style of, and apparent intent behind, the review was in reasonably line with that of your numerous blogs. The review made no attempt to describe the poor service incident and it appeared that the sole purpose of the review was to exact very deliberate, vindictive and unfair damage the reputation of Dodge City in the marketplace.
9 Your recorded understanding, prior to 12th Sept, that a negative review on Food24 would be very damaging to a restaurant's reputation.

I trust that you now recognise:
1 the reasons behind my suspicion that you are, in the balance of probability, party to the filing of the Food24 review
2 my right to sue you for damages suffered - a process that will allow for me to cross examine you under oath.
3 that I am not harassing you. I am simply excercising my legal right to recovery of unreasonable damages suffered

I didn’t respond and barely an hour later this arrived:

It is apparent that you have an unusually good working knowledge of how Food24 conducts its affairs, adding to my already very sound reasons to conclude that you were, in the balance of probability, party to the filing of the fabricated poor service review on Food 24 against Dodge City Waterfront. The onus of proof that I bear to succeed in a damages claim against you lies in proving your complicity "in the balance of probability".

I am entitled to sue you for damages and doing so does not constitute harassment. You are entitled to defend my action against you.

I responded:

I refer you to http://www.food24.com/Restaurant/0,,3630,00.html “We'll never display your email address however for your review to be posted it must be valid.”
One only needs to be able to read English to know as much as I do about how Food24 conducts their business affairs.

Within half an hour this arrived:

Unconvinced I'm afraid. Please refer to my counter arguments mailed a short while ago.

I would like to suggest that you consider the merits of ceasing all unreasonable and vindictive efforts to damage the Dodge City brand reputation at your earliest convenience.

I have no particular wish to engage in a legal dispute with your conduct is leaving me with no option

The extent to which our conflict escalates from here lies entirely in your hands.

I responded:

I have no need to convince you of anything. The truth is the truth whether you choose to believe it or not.

To what conduct are you referring? Be specific, please.

How do you define escalate? Do you mean my responding to your emails or something else? Be specific, please.

About an hour later, this arrived:

Please do not communicate with me on this matter any longer.

To which I immediately replied:

I am happy to oblige


Dare I hope this is finished? I guess if I haven’t heard anything more in the next week or so (I thought it was over after three days of silence but it turns out I was wrong) I’ll believe it is done.

It’s gratifying that it went out with a whimper and not a bang, though.

Dodge City: the Undead

Three times I have laid this thing to rest and moved on. So what do I get in my email this morning?

I refer to my mail to you of 12th September.

Can you please provide me with an address where the summons referred to below may be served on you.

Should you fail to provide the required information, a tracing agent will be recruited to secure the necessary information. The tracing agent's costs will be for your account should the action against you be successful.

If you are innocent as claimed, you clearly have no reason for concern.

My last email to him stated: If you really want this removed, contact Food24 and have them check their records as to who posted it. If you fail to take this action, it can be construed that you do not want it removed, you are just seeking ways to further harass me. How do I know that YOU didn’t post it in an attempt to extract money from me?

Now…see if you can figure out what this guy wants from me:

I’ve gone to the Food24 site (http://www.food24.com/Restaurant/0,,3630,00.html )and the bad review is gone;

on 13 September he posted the following on the Food24 site: Apologies for your poor service experience at Dodge City V&A Lauren. We welcome customer feedback and are committed to providing the highest possible level of service to our patrons. We would really appreciate receiving more detail regarding your experience in order that we can make amends to you and prevent a reoccurrence thereof. Kind regards, Dodge City Management. (Lauren in the name of the person who posted the bad review);

The Food24 site states: We'll never display your email address however for your review to be posted it must be valid, so obviously they can track the review back to the originator.

Since the originator was not me…nor anyone I know (don’t know anyone named Lauren), and he can verify with Food24 that I am not the originator…just what is his agenda here?

How do I know he didn’t post that review in an attempt to create a stronger case for himself vis-à-vis extorting money from me? He has abandoned his tactic of accusing me of posting false information on my blog…because he can’t provide any examples, perhaps?...and is now vigorously paddling only this boat. He can’t prove a thing…there is nothing to prove…but defending against a lawsuit, even when innocent of charges, costs money.

So I am pondering how to respond. He has no case, but even that will cost to defend against. Perhaps I should respond demanding the names and addresses of the employees who slandered me with accusations of loud public altercations and unreasonable abuse of my husband? Or point out that I have a file of his harassing emails, false accusations, and refusals to reveal the alleged faults, thereby preventing me from correcting anything? Perhaps I should point out that the court will require him to prove I posted (or abetted in the posting) of the review, that he will have to show the court the address of the poster (from News24…he can subpoena the info) and then prove that I have any kind of association with that person? Since he can’t, the court is then bound to view this as a frivolous and malicious lawsuit, which they don’t like.

I dunno…maybe I should email him with

“You are threatening me with a frivolous and malicious lawsuit and attempting to use the courts to extort money from me. You are harassing me with the clear intent of lining your own pockets and with a further, veiled, intent of penalizing me for refusing to remove unflattering statements about your restaurant from my blog.

“You can prove nothing because there is nothing to prove. To claim compensation for damages, you cannot present the court with a thumb-sucked figure and wild-eyed estimate of loss of revenue. You will have to prove loss…right down to the last rand…and then you will have to prove that I was responsible. Speculation is not good enough, especially since Food24 is in possession of the email address of the reviewer…and I guarantee it is not me or anyone I know.

“Since Food24 has taken down the review, it is reasonable to assume you have been in contact with them: any basis you might have had for complaint in this matter is now resolved.

“Food24 requires reviewers to post a valid email address and you have had ample opportunity to confirm with them that the reviewer’s email address was not mine. I strongly suggest that you do not attempt to bring litigation on speculation: prove to yourself, using the same standard the court will require (that email address and a link of some kind between me and the reviewer, for example) that I bear any culpability before proceeding.

“My causes for concern are these: you are wasting a great deal of my time with kak, time I could put to better use elsewhere; you are harassing me…this is my fourth attempt to lay this to rest and you won’t let it go; you are attempting to penalize me for exercising a protected right; and you are about to cost me money in the form of defence fees.

“Surely you know the courts take a dim view of frivolous and malicious suits such as what you are threatening to bring: you have no basis for complaint; there is no way to connect me with the reviewer because there is no connection; you have thumbsucked a damage amount rather than presented a claim along with proof of my culpability; you have made no effort to resolve this outside of the courts. Do you really think that, under these circumstances, a magistrate can find in your favour?

“Do not contact me further in this regard. If you persist in harassing me, I will refer this matter to my attorneys to bring charges.”

I’m still thinking about it…


OK, I thought about it...here's is what I sent back as a reply:

Food24 will not post a review unless the reviewer submits a valid email address...so it is very easy for you to verify if one of my email addresses was the originator. If you do not undertake a sincere effort…including use of a subpoena, if necessary…to verify who actually posted the review and then establish an incontrovertible connection between the reviewer and myself, then it can be logically construed that you are not interested in the truth, you are interested in harassing and/or extracting money from me.

Further contact from you in this matter will be considered harassment and may be referred to my attorneys for action.

Monday, September 15, 2008

When it comes to elections, it pays to be informed...

I received the following letter in my email from someone who has been my friend for more than 30 years. I have checked with Snopes.com (http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/sarahpalin.asp) to verify if this is a hoax or a real letter from a real person: the folks at Snopes actually called the author and obtained verification.

The following is a letter about Sarah Palin by someone who has known her personally for more than 15 years:

I am a resident of Wasilla , Alaska . I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis.

Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she's like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because she is a "babe".

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a baby with Down syndrome. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin's kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She's smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a "fiscal conservative". During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren't enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn't even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later--to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once. These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska . Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's surplus, borrow for needs.

She's not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren't generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren't evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the "old boy's club" when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal-loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State's top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla's Police Chief because he "intimidated" her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska 's top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't fire her sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn't like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122 400/yr, she was criticizing her pay as too high in the press. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the "old boys' club" when she dramatically quit, exposing this man's ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the "bridge to nowhere" after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects--which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance--but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as "anti-pork".

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her "Sarah Barracuda" because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as "AGIA" that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned "as a private citizen" against a state initiative that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State's lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior's decision to list polar bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there's a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.

§ "Hockey mom": true for a few years
§ "PTA mom": true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since
§ "NRA supporter": absolutely true
§ social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconstitutional).
§ pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.
§ "Pro-life": mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation
§ "Experienced": Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000.
§ Political maverick: not at all
§ Gutsy: absolutely!
§ open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.
§ has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
§ "a Greenie": no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR
§ fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
§ pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards
§ pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents
§ pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla's history
§ pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn't make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.


First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska ), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that's life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla , and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? For population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall--they are swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The day Palin's selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90's.

Anne Kilkenny
August 31, 2008