Northwest Parkway Snafu

I received what I presume is an automated billing in the mail today from a company that runs a toll road here in Colorado. It’s from an outfit called Northwest Parkway and I found their bill a bit disconcerting since I had not knowingly traveled any toll roads in the state in the last six months (or ever).

Their Detailed Account Activity

Upon examination, their “Detailed Account Activity”  ‘tags’ me at “Sheridan” back on the fourth of May at precisely 5:21:16.   This inevitably led me to the question: “Where was I and what was I doing that time of day on the fourth of May?”, as well as, “Where the hell is Sheridan?”.  I grabbed my trusty iPhone and started scrolling back to May 4th on my Facebook timeline.

My boss chimed in, “You were off on the fourth”, before I had even scrolled back thru my latest week of posts.  As I continued to scroll (and scroll and scroll), plowing thru a feed littered with the refuse of posts responding to the various high crimes and misdemeanors of President Pantywaist, I scoured my brain trying to figure out how I could have unwittingly fallen into a tollway trap.

To be clear, the amount is nil ($2.35) and it might be easier to pay it than protest, but I’m protesting since I have solid proof I was nowhere near anyplace named Sheridan on that time of day on the fourth of May.  

I am acting as the canary in the coal mine on this one folks.  Consider this a test of the customer service department of Northwest Parkway.  They will be provided a link to this story as well as my email address thru their online customer service form.  They provide no pre-formatted options to contest a bill that I could find on their website and since I’ll be forced to ‘tell’ this story to them at some point it seemed easier to document it out here and now.  My faith in corporate nature leads me to suspect they would not believe me on the basis of a friendly telephone contact alone.  I will share their response as an educational offering once I receive their reply.

My Detailed Account Activity

Where was I on that day and time?  Sitting next to Lake Loveland most of the afternoon,  before pulling up stakes and driving around the lake to the golf course on 29th (Cattail Creek) around a quarter after five.  How can I be so sure? Blame it on my propensity to check in on Facebook/Yelp with such consistency if you must, but here are the screen shots off my iphone showing the check-in dates and times.  I checked into the course at 5:35.

Conclusion

The only “Sheridan” I can find seems to be an hour or more away from Loveland and my dear van Nelly Belle just ain’t up to those kinds of warp speeds.  I believe I have been shafted by ‘machine intelligence’ gone amok.  Now all that remains to be seen is if it’s too late for the humans to help me.
Enjoy.

Loose Endings

No Longer an Okie from MuskogeeHeading West

My time in Wagoner, OK has come to a close. I packed my life back into my four suitcases and me and Bandit headed down the road in search of a better tomorrow early in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Though things didn’t work out as well as I had hoped for in Oklahoma, I’m grateful for the opportunity and thankful for the companionship my host family provided me during my time there.

Adventures in Fund RaisingToledo Scale

Friday, I finished up with my “Great Aluminum Can Adventure” by taking the cans I’d collected during my daily walks with Bandit to the local recycling center. It was a lot of fun and a bit of an adventure wandering the streets around Wagoner, snatching cans and taking photographs as we toured the area. I’d estimate we traversed a good twenty miles in the eight to ten hours we spent wandering around aimlessly. The final aluminum tally was twenty pounds collected and the payout was eight bucks (at forty cents a pound), leading to an average of a bit less than a dollar an hour payout. I wouldn’t recommend it as a career move, but I do enjoy walking with Bandit in the evenings for fun and health anyway. Getting paid for doing it is a bonus and better than paying out for a gym membership!

If you are feeling charitable you can help support me in my struggle to rebuild my life from scratch by tossing a nickel into my emergency relocation fund.

Next up? Memphis.

Enjoy.

In the Meantime

Muskogee to Memphis

Hell's Hole, OK

While I am working on soliciting donations to continue on my path down the road of life I am not sitting idly by twiddling my thumbs and toes just because there doesn’t seem to be an employer in my local vicinity who is interested in employing me at slave wages and exploiting my superlative set of skills.  I don’t get too bummed out by that seemingly incomprehensible set of circumstances given the overall state of educational and economic depravity I’m surrounded by.  It’s just further evidence of the bad decision making skills of the people in the area.  LOL.

In the Meantime

Yes You Can

In the meantime I’m spending my time doing what any able bodied homeless vet (or bag lady) would do given the ‘opportunities’ that present themselves in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I’m out collecting aluminum cans.  I have no idea what they are worth as I have yet to actually sell any of them but they must have some intrinsic value greater than zero or our cities wouldn’t be overwhelmed with images of homeless folks pushing shopping carts stacked to the brim with them.

Making do

I’d mow lawns if I had a lawn mower.  I’d do some other odd job if I hadn’t lost all my tools in my moves back and forth beyond the oceanic horizon. Lacking a vehicle does nothing to improve my situation one bit as I’m sure there are some jobs right outside my limited field of travel that I might be able to bag but given my experience to date I wouldn’t call that a ‘slam dunk’ either.

Sonic Tim

I’d put on a pair of roller skates and deliver your slush and corn dog order to your car at the local Sonic for that matter,  but I guess the sight of a skinny ass old guy wheeling around in their parking lot isn’t as desirable in terms of public perception as I had otherwise hoped it would be when I wandered into the place based on their “Walk In applications welcome on Tuesdays” flashing sign, only to find that “walking in” for the application required I first do their online application (WTF?) which of course I did before returning for my walk-in application the following Tuesday!   I’m nothing if not persistent and I’m trying to put to rest the tired stereotype that folks who want to work can easily find jobs because that’s as old a trope as “both parties in this country are the same, so why bother voting at all”.  Vote for Bernie Sanders, 2016.  Before it’s too late.

Enjoy.

On a Wing and No Prayer

Like a Rolling Stone

meandb

Bandit and I are going to head out to Colorado Springs on Saturday May 2nd. We don’t yet have a car and traveling via bus with a pet dog is not permitted here in America, so we’ll be traveling on foot and carrying whatever of our meager possessions we can drag along.  The weather is warm enough now that I feel confident we won’t freeze to death en route, though I expect there will be enough other challenges and deprivations to suffice for the lack of blizzard conditions.

We will attempt to traverse the 700 mile divide at a minimum pace of ten miles per day, which works out to a total travel time of around 70 days.  If we hump it, or catch a ride here and there, we might make even arrive in Colorado Springs before the 4th of July, which will give “Independence Day” a whole new perspective for the both of us!

Carpe Diem

Of course we’re totally unprepared to walk the 700 miles to get to Colorado Springs, but what we lack in preparedness we will make up in moxie.  I’m determined to do whatever is necessary in an attempt to get to a place in the country where I can reasonably expect to make an honest living in an environment which is conducive to maintaining my physical and mental health.  Bandit and I aren’t looking for nirvana, just a place in America where the density of meth addicts and poverty isn’t higher than the national debt.

Fond Farewells

Come Saturday, we’ll be saying goodbye to Kelly Weaver here in Wagoner OK who has been heroic in providing me and Bandit a temporary landing zone midway between Mississippi and Colorado.  She has many burdens herself, and for her to step up to the plate the way she has to help me is a testament to her character.  Bandit and I will miss her joviality and companionship, as well as her precious pup Fidel.  She’s a good mom and a great friend and deserves better than the hand she’s been dealt in life.  Kelly is going to look after two of the four suitcases that consist of the totality of the personal possessions that I managed to get back to the US with me from Germany.  If I die along the way she is welcome to keep them.  If not, I’ll send her money and shipping directions in the near future.

On the Road Again

Next week, I’ll be just another of a large and growing cadre of aging homeless Vietnam era veterans wandering the streets and byways of America, but that’s a condition I will attempt to abate as soon as is humanly possible.  Even though me and my buddy Bandit have already lost nearly everything of a material nature and we’re still saddened and mourning Rita’s cancer death last year, I’m still optimistic and upbeat about our longer term prospects.  The fickle hand of fate hasn’t yet snatched my mental acuity or my health, though I imagine the former is up for review and debate, same as it ever was.  The latter is about to be tested in ways most men my age would be hard pressed to survive let alone embrace.  I’m actually looking forward to the challenge which I suspect is also prima facie evidence my mental acuity is not as sharp as I perceive it to be.

I still feel bad for those in worse shape than me and my dog, even as we are poised to crowd around the campfire at the hobo camps and highway underpasses ourselves.

Rocky Mountain Magic

Bandit Busted

I’ve settled on trying to rebuild my life in Colorado Springs because of the fond memories I have of living there during my (more) youthful years in the Air Force.  Because of the large military presence the support system for Vietnam era vets should be strong there if push comes to shove.  I hoping the vibrant economy in Colorado, coupled with my liberal mentality towards legalized marijuana might come in handy but finding a job in the marijuana industry isn’t at the top of my list of employment desires.  My first choice of employment would be in a vape shop where I could help people switch from smoking cigarettes to vaping (e-cigs), a switch I made myself shortly after arriving back in the US last year.  That noted,  I’m not turning down any legitimate means of employment.

If I’m lucky I’ll land several jobs and just manage to survive really close to the edge of disaster without falling off the cliff–you know–just like most ‘normal’ people do all over the country.  Sure would be nice for things to return to ‘normal’ again.

As fast as I’m approaching age 60, I don’t feel like I have a lot of time to waste sitting around and hoping things will work out on their own.  If you want to help add a degree of possible success to my life or a bit of a buffer against the fickle hand of fate,  I’ve included the requisite support links below.  It pains me to realize that if I were a fundamentalist Christian trying to deny gays a catered pizza wedding I’d have a greater chance of fundraising success than I’ll likely have trying to survive as a homeless liberal veteran, but such are the angsts of life.

I’m going to try and get a YouTube video up before I take off on Saturday.

Financial Support Options

Immediate Emergency Travel Assistance !!!

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Assistance to help me get established After Arriving at Colorado Springs.

Indie Gogo

If you’re able and interested in helping me obtain a vehicle and secure an apartment after overcoming the turmoils of travel once Bandit and I get to Colorado Springs, I created the Indiegogo Life account for that purpose.  It is set to expire in sixty days and any funds collected are frozen and unavailable to me for the next two and a half months.  See you in Colorado Springs.

My long term goal of fundraising for the building an off grid tiny home is still active but I will not be promoting it again until I am established in Colorado and can contribute to it along with those of you who are fans of Tiny Homes, Me, or more likely, Bandit.

GoFundMe Tiny Home Project
Enjoy.

Email to the FDA on E-Smoking

Comment:  My name is Tim Fuller and I am commenting on Electronic Cigarettes and the Public Health; Second Public Workshop; Docket No. FDA-2014-N-1936-0003.

I smoked approximately a pack and a half of full flavor Marlboro cigarettes per day beginning in my early twenties and continuing until the age of 56. I gave up cigarettes for e-smoking about the middle of November, 2014, shortly before my 57th birthday and no longer purchase or consume combustible tobacco products. Like I suspect many do, I first switched to a ‘cigalike’ product, and after testing several of the popular e-cigarette substitutes (Vuse, Mystic, Fin, Bu). I settled on the Blu brand, partly for the convenience of the portable charging case but mostly for availability of their flavored e-juices. I found the tobacco flavored e-juices unappealing and would likely have returned to cigarette smoking had I not found the option of the flavored varieties offered by Blu.

Shortly thereafter (weeks) I discovered the existence of superior vaping products being offered by several other manufacturers which offered longer battery life (Ego, eLeaf et.al.) In addition to the convenience of longer battery life and adjustable power output, I found a vast assortment of different atomizers to choose from which offered a much improved vaping experience. These allowed the option of purchasing and refilling from a multitude of flavored e-juice products at customized nicotine levels. I purchased several atomizer tanks and several flavors of mid-strength (12-18mg) e-juices, finding the ability to easily switch out tanks/flavors beneficial in my conversion from tobacco. An added benefit often overlooked is the huge savings in cost over that of consuming tobacco, not an insignificant issue for someone on an extremely limited income as I currently find myself in.

I cannot speak to the issue of whether or not these devices are ‘safe’ but in relation to the ingestion of what are known to be hundreds of proven hydrocarbon carcinogens it seems a no-brainer that there must be at least a decent level of harm reduction involved in my decision to abandon nicotine delivery via burning tobacco. I had previously tried to quit smoking via gums and patches with no success. I do not know if I will break my nicotine habit thru vaping but given the ability to wean down the nicotine levels in my e-juices it seems a more likely route and in the meantime I am sure I am abating a great deal of additional health risks.

E-juice Safety and flavored options.

I am not in support of any regulations on restricting flavors of e-juices. Of course I do support limiting e-emoking devices and e-juice access by minors as is currently the case with other nicotine delivery products such as chewing tobacco, cigars and cigarettes. I have yet to see any confirmed deaths of children accidentally ingesting e-juice but barely a day goes by that entire families are lost to the vagaries of smoking related fires. This should be weighed heavily in terms of ‘consumer safety’ when considering the perceived dangers of e-juices and e-smoking. I have not noticed any adverse reactions to the use of any of my e-cigarette devices.

Vaping device safety.

I now vape on higher output highly regulated devices but at much reduced nicotine levels, well under six percent nicotine levels. I vape when I feel like vaping but certainly not in as consistent a fashion as I used to when consuming cigarettes. I do not have access to the statistics on vape device safety but prefer to use a regulated device in order to minimize the risk of overheated lithium batteries, short circuited atomizer coils, etc. If there is any segment of the e-smoking market which may need oversight I imagine it would be in the area of DEVICE safety. I do not have any firsthand horror stories to share in regard to this, but I can easily visualize situations where unlocked or non-locking unregulated mechanical ‘mods’ could be potential trouble sources.

My experience with the commercial cigalike makers leads me to believe that many of them are so poorly designed as to lead one directly back to smoking. I do not know if this is a feature or a bug from their point of view but I do not trust the established cigarette producers given their track record of consumer deception. I would not wish to see the market for vapes or e-juices restricted in terms of availability or innovation. I see many articles in the press which are obviously ginning up fear, uncertainty and doubt over e-smoking and it’s patently obvious that many of these stories are being planted by deep pocketed tobacco corporations concerned with nothing more than protecting their market share and profits.

Please don’t allow yourselves to be unduly influenced by those in the industry who have proven themselves to be totally disreputable in the past. Thank you for taking the time to collect and analyze public opinion on this issue.

Tim Fuller
thetimtimes@gmail.com
Member of Casaa.org

Enjoy.