16934 NE 164TH ST
WOODINVILLE, WA 98072-8953

AT&T Mobility
PO BOX 6416
CAROL STREAM, IL 60197-6416

Re:      Suspension Notice!
            Past Due Amount $353.35

May 23, 2016

Dear AT&T

Thank you for you kind offer to Suspend! our account, and charge us $40.00 to reinstate it.

I assume that normally special offers like this are reserved for people who don’t pay their bills. We are very fortunate, not only being current on our bill, but in fact with you owing us $5.00 you fraudulently charged us, to have the opportunity to have our account suspended.

I should hassle you about the $5.00, but having been an AT&T Wireless customer for about 20 years, I long ago learned that there is not a single person, anywhere in your organization, who can explain not just why a bill never matches what was promised at the time of sale but in fact any part of the bill whatsoever.

As tempting as your offer to suspend our account is, we really haven’t earned it. I feel I have to come clean here:

Jan 10: Billed $242.56, paid $242.56, balance presumably zero
Feb10: Billed $199.02, paid $199.02, balance presumably zero

See a pattern here? If you look back over 20 years, You’ll notice the same pattern.

Feb 10: Mystery $147.45 posted as paid, then reversed in the same month. We didn’t pay this. We have no idea where the $147.45 came from, or why it was posted to our account, but no worries because it was quickly reversed.

Mar 10: Billed $52.57, paid $52.57, balance presumably zero
Apr 10: Billed $199.90, paid $199.90, balance presumably zero

What actually happened is that you under-billed us by the mysterious $147.45, then 2 months later fixed it and tacked on a $5.00 late fee immediately, then followed up quickly with your generous offer to suspend our account for late payment.

Your check was mailed a few days ago, including the $5.00 that we don’t owe you, once we found the time from our day to visit your store and get a non-explanation for the $147.45 and the $5.00.

Your written offer to suspend our account arrived today, May 23rd. I see it was mailed May 19th. And you have generously given us 2 days to get you your money.

I watched your how to pay up now video on your web site, filled in your web form, read the “do not reply” mail that resulted in that, but it’s not so obvious how to contact you so we can resolve the small matter of my $5.00. I’m considering your offer to charge me a “convenience fee” to talk to a human.

I’ll post this letter on my blog and perhaps find a way to share it with someone there.

Each time AT&T Mobility calls my attention to their billing system, I think of my frustration at being repeatedly lied to and overcharged. But the hassle to churn out is so high that I grin and bear it.

Perhaps your kind offer is just what I need.


Thank you

Mike Zintel.

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Gun Control For Dummies

Facebook anti-gun control posts, when one has many liberal friends, reliability produce two responses.

Response #1: You Are A Bad Person

The politest form of this is You are naïve with your abstract romantic notions of freedom and don’t realize the real world implications of guns and violence. A less polite version, your fetish is probably hiding at best some latent insecurity and possibly dangerous violence. Sometimes this is a thinly veiled threat: Your posts / comments etc. could be misinterpreted and, well, who knows what bad stuff could happen? And disbelief. Lots of disbelief.

I really don’t have a counterargument for Response #1. Having been raised a doctrinaire Canadian liberal, I thought like this for a couple of decades. My Canadian friends might take some small measure of pride that I lectured my new American friends on the moral superiority of my native land for about 5 years after I got here, about 30 years ago.

Then I started listening a bit.

What I discovered was a large number of people who were indifferent to gun ownership, supportive but not owners, and gun owners themselves who were not bad people. In fact a bunch of them were good people.

This wasn’t supposed to be.

But I still didn’t accept the merit of the 2nd Amendment and the NRA. It just seemed – well – common sense that some maybe small percentage of people would go loco and with easy access to guns, more fatalities in anger would occur.

But huge geographic areas and demographics in America are awash with guns and yet experience Canadian rates of gun homicide (but sadly, not gun suicide). It turns out that chainsaws don’t turn people into chainsaw murderers, and chainsaw owners have a healthy respect for the potential dangers of blade with a sharp gas powered spinning chain.

Response #2: Gotcha

Let me lawyer you into a box using whatever the approved talking points the nanny statists are peddling lately.

An honest, compassionate, fact based discussion about reducing gun violence would mention that the problem areas are black males aged 18-30 shooting other black males in a handful of cities and males of all ages and ethnicities committing suicide.  Everywhere. With semi-automatic handguns. 9mm Glocks. Bought legally.

Such a discussion would not include stories about loco bible clingers from Missouri and skinheads from Alabama shooting up schools with fully automatic assault weapons loaded with extra-large magazines, bought without a background check on a laptop from an online store while at the gun show loophole booth at a gun show.

For the simple reason that this doesn’t happen.

And the professional nanny statists are always watching, hoping it will happen. Gotcha.

If you are unfamiliar with guns it is not that easy to spot the constant deceptions. If you are it is hard to fathom how easy it is get away with lies.

You are in fact less safe from a crazy mass murderer in a designated gun free zone. Fortunately, you are quite safe in general in the US from crazy mass murderers.

Assault weapons are not real things. Legislation conjured up from whole cloth created a whole new section, that still doesn’t exist, in gun stores called the “Assault Weapons Counter”. The weapons that have been designated as assault weapons, but are not, are rarely used in homicides or suicides.

Automatic weapons are not easy to get. They are even more rarely used in homicides or suicides (see Glock, 9mm).

Gun ownership in America has been increasing for 20 years, as gun violence has been dropping.

There’s no practical difference between 10 magazines with 8 shots and 6 with 15.

Especially in a gun free zone. Like the ones loony mass murderers prefer.

The gun show loophole, such as it is, is not commonly exploited.

A serious discussion would recognize the impractically of forcefully disarming people of 300,000,000 guns. And the uselessness of the current proposals. A serious discussion would make using a gun in self-defense or owning a gun used in a homicide punishable with prison.

Fortunately we’re not having a serious discussion.

So what is going on? I’ve explained this before: here, when Bush II was still swaggering around and more recently.

Not everyone values freedom. I can make a strong case for the merits of a culture and system of dependency / security. Especially in a place like Canada or Norway with lots of natural resources and a small population. I generally don’t, because the nanny state and liberals have that one covered.

It might be useful someday to share some information about the gap between promise and reality. It’s not small.

Having tried both, I prefer freedom. And I understand how it is taken.



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Guns For Dummies

People in gun control countries who live in safe places feel safe because of gun control.

People in the Unites States who live in safe places feel safe because they trust the people in their community.

A very large number of people in the US live in safe places. Surrounded by many gun owners.

It’s counter-intuitive.

Liberals claim to to be objective. Fact based. Not swayed by religion and emotion. They do what works.

The statistics tell us that very large numbers of people in the USA own guns and live among people who own guns, and they experience gun violence at a rate on par with gun control countries. Over the last 30 years the rate of violence in those demographics has dropped while gun ownership has increased. A lot.

From this data an objective person might conclude that the US proves that a majority of the population can and do own guns with low rates of gun violence. One might also conclude – sadly – that some demographics are very violent.

But many pro-gun control liberals don’t conclude this. They conclude, on the basis of no information, that frightened lower middle class white men buy guns because they have low self esteem rooted in sexuality issues. Guns help with this. Apparently. And clinging to the bible, according to the president of not just the blue states, but all the United States.

Frightened and insecure Christian white men with wee junk and well worn bibles cling to their guns and the result of this is tragic rates of violence. The solution to this is to forcibly disarm them.


Meanwhile in a different demographic young men are shooting each other at a heartbreaking rate.

Liberals hold not just the moral high ground but the intellectual high ground too.

Of course gun control is just a proxy war on freedom.

Some liberals, of the modern not-liberal kind, don’t like the word freedom. It gets to the root of what really divides liberals and conservatives. Sometimes they mock it via hyperbole – Absolute freedom is anarchy. Do you want anarchy? Sometimes they redefine it to actually mean coercion – freedom from offense.  Sometimes they mock people who claim to support it but actually accept government redistribution and insurance as hypocrites.

Anything to distract from what reasonable people understand about freedom.

The range of freedom I’m talking abut here is roughly from the United States in the Clinton years to any one of many bankrupt European social democracies.

Not everyone values freedom equally. Freedom requires responsibility. Freedom results in sometimes terribly unequal outcomes in life. The appeal of a government implemented “adult childhood”, where bureaucrats have the means and ability to keep everyone safe and happy is obvious.

Much of what social democracies accomplish is exactly this. Until they become corrupt, incompetent and bankrupt.

Governments, like all organizations, tend to start our small, efficient, responsive and focused. But given enough time they reach the limits of what sprawling bankrupt bureaucracies can practically accomplish. Because most western governments are well beyond this metastasis, they create and promote non-problems they can then “solve”: the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, the War on WomenWar on Science, etc. Anything to keep you from noticing unemployment, debt, inflation, declining middle class quality of life, a system rigged by the very wealthy, etc.

Unfortunately freedom and a system and culture of dependence are not compatible. In order for social democracies to provide a free for everyone adult-childhood like life, bankrupt governments must eventually use fines and imprisonment to relieve most people of most of their income. No absolute new wealth is created doing this, and the total amount of goods and care available to a society remains the same. The belief is that committees of bureaucrats with absolute power will allocate resources with more fairness and efficiency. Except for the very wealthy, individuals taxed and bankrupted to the hilt have no option but to rely on redistribution programs.

Even il-liberals and the ruling class, when pressed, admit gun control in the US won’t save lives. It’s not about that.

Gun control is just a small step in the creation of the culture of dependence needed to sustain an adult-childhood utopia.

History teaches us a fair bit about how this all works out.


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True Stories

Women in America earn between $0.79 for the exact same work for which men earn $1.00.

It’s interesting to consider what has to be true for this unfairness to exist.

Every business owner/decision maker in America has to choose misogyny over greed.

Any businesses that choose greed/growth/profit/continued and/or expanded employment over misogyny would hire women to do exactly the same jobs as men equally well, drive down costs and increase efficiency.  This is probably the single easiest thing that could be done to increase profitability.

Assuming some semblance of a free market, this approach over time would allow these businesses that choose fairness, growth and profit grow at the expense of those more committed to unfairness.

Businesses that are failing due to labor costs would have to choose layoffs or complete collapse in order to continue to cheat women.

Even women owned business would have to be in on it.

This collusion would have to maintained in secret across decades of bankruptcies, startups, mergers and hostile buyouts, IPOs.

Puzzlin’ Evidence

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The Yellow Spotty Bubber Are Alright, The Boaters Not So Much Maybe

A number of people have expressed interest in the outcome of my conversation with N.S. Power. So I thought I’d keep us all up to date here.

A helpful gentleman by the name of Tim called me from N.S. Power this morning. Tim apparently is responsible for at least lake levels in this system. He was very knowledgeable about the situation.

In one of life’s ironies, our boating fate may in fact be in the hands of the small and rare yellow spotty bubber, which goes by the name “Salmon and Gaspereau”, and has the N.S. Dept. of the Environment as their representative.

If I understand what was explained (errors likely mine):

N.S. Power is constrained from letting water into the lake post sometime in June until Aug 15th, for reasons related to fish migration. These kinds of decisions get negotiated at the time of “relicensing” which was 2009 and will be again in 2019.

It’s interesting that my manufactured graph shows this. Indeed my memory is of a sharp drop in summer levels the mid-2000s. Around “re-licensing” time.

Tim’s explanation was so helpful that it took me a couple of hours to wonder why I didn’t ask if they could just add extra water in June so that by Aug 15th my boat wasn’t being ground to dust on the granite bottom and the spotty bubbers too would be happy.

There’s lots of room for water in the lake. The only explanations for the design of this wharf is that 1) either water levels used to be much higher, or 2) someone is a kooky builder.

Who Builds a Wharf Like This

Who Builds a Wharf Like This

The water levels used to be much higher.

Much higher.

Could you add more water to the lake in Jun please?




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An Open Letter to Nova Scotia Power

I apologize for communicating with you via blog but I don’t know who to talk to about my problem.

I am a 25+ year resident of Little River Lake, the smallest lake of the Gaspereau River system of power generating lakes in King County Nova Scotia.

Please put some more water in the lake.

The folks on this lake are not a complaining bunch. We get that levels change. We even get that levels are sometimes low for a season. We have docks that accommodate level change.

We were excited this year, confident that record snowfall would mean good summer boating, fishing, etc.

But you’ve been dropping the summer lake level year over year and an abundance of water, apparently, wasn’t about to interfere with that.

The rocks tell the story:

Where Is The Water Guys

Where Is The Water Guys

Even your own gear tells the story. Clearly the folks who designed this expected the water to be somewhere on the gauge:

Not Where It Was

Not Where It Was

But you know this:

No Joy

No Joy

I’d like to argue that my real concern is for the welfare of the small and rare yellow spotty bubber, that breeds only in the sand on the shoreline of small manmade lakes in the Gaspereau system.

But I really don’t know anything about these things.

What I know is that my boat is sitting on the granite bottom being ground to dust in the wind off the same wharf we’ve been using for 3 decades.

I’d be happy to take you for a boat ride here in 10 cm of water if you wanted to get a first-hand feel for it.

But you’re all likely busy.

In the same spirit of Ansel Adams using photography to show people the beauty and value of preserving Yosemite Valley, I’ve made a short film about boating on Little River Lake. I hope you enjoy it.


Another 10 cm and you’ll have to rename Little River Lake to Little River River.


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Selling It

There’s a story going around the internet that 100,000,000, sorry, 105,000,000 people not working is really great because that would be within 2% of normal from a participation rate perspective, and that the difference is happily explained by retiring baby boomers. In some versions, baby boomers are able to retire thanks to Obamacare.

The news is all good – everyone who wants and needs a job has one. More or less.

A bit of modeling where roughly 1/3 of the 2/3 of the population who are working are paying most of the taxes supporting everyone else shows that this doesn’t work mathematically. And that’s before considering the $18,000,000,000,000 in debt.

But is it even true that folks who need jobs have them and the boomers are blissfully retiring?

The following graph ( shows the labor participation rate from 1950 to present. The big changes are from a “historical” rate of around 58% to a “new normal” rate of about 66% as women entered the workforce in significant numbers in the late 60s and 70s.  In 2002, the participation rate was 67%. The second big change is that it’s been falling ever since.


Now let’s look at who is working, and who is not:


  • The increases in rate of participation are in the 55-64, 65-74 and 75 and older group. Every other demographic is dropping.
  • 16-24 is dropping precipitously.

And from this we might reasonably speculate:

  • Years of zero rates on savings are pushing retirees back to work and will continue to do so.
  • The economy is not creating nearly enough new entry level jobs. Adding an additional 5,000,000 entry level workers will put more stress jobs and wages here.

And for these stellar results we have taken on $8,000,000,000,000 in new debt in 6 years.

It’s interesting to consider why thinking sensing people are willing to believe blatant nonsense. Certainly confirmation bias is real and explains some of this. But as Charles Murray has clearly documented, America is increasingly segregated on class lines. The super-rich live with the super-rich. The rich with the rich. Upper middle class, …, and so on. When you combine physical isolation with the effects of the economic policies of Obama-Bush which dramatically favor the wealthy, the conditions are excellent for some silly happy-thoughts. Indeed if you are a liberal in Seattle right now your very eyes tell you that Obama has created a golden age for everyone.

Cleveland perhaps not so much.


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