Alligators 'n Roadkill

Alligators 'n Roadkill
On The Road


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Another of Life's little Mysteries.

Here is the mystery, in one question:
How the hell does Carl's Jr. stay in business?!
We recently saw a television ad for their new Beer Cheese Bacon Burger, and my wife said, "We should try that!  It looks good!"

I should have pointed out to her that it could not be very good if the beer in question had anything to do with Budweiser, but alas, I held my tongue.  Big mistake.  Yuuuuuge.

Well, Sunday, we decided to go for it.  I only wish I had taken photos, but it looked so bad, I just did not have the heart.  The bun looks great, much like we saw on TV. But, the patty looked like it had been cooked at least two hours prior to our order.  The color was very dark, almost black, and it looked like it had specks of something, maybe onions in it.  There was a single slice of tomato, and some pieces of lettuce in there, but it was not exactly appetizing.  It was, at best, lukewarm.

We also got regular fries, and regular size drinks.  This was only because we had to insist that we did not want or need medium or large sizes.  My Coke was flat.

They also declined our requests for mustard, mayo, or even ketchup, saying that it "has cheese."  We still do not understand that, but it did, indeed have both something white that looked like cheese, and the yellow cheese saucy looking thing we saw on TV.

And, now, for the worst part:  The cost for this really bad food was Nine Bucks!  And, wouldn't you know it, their receipt has no link for a customer survey, and the plastic box on the wall where you exit, says this is for customer response cards, but I saw no blank cards anywhere inside!

So, here's the thing.  This cannot count as being part of that pursuit of the best burger in town that I was doing last year, and it certainly would not get a mention from any real critic.  My best advice is to not bother going to Carl's Jr., ever.  Way over priced and really bad food.  Too bad we don't have a Red Robin in El Paso.  At these prices, at least I could have gotten something good to eat.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

One Old Man's Definition Of A Great America

At 70 years old, I have to say that I have been disappointed with election results more times than I have been pleased with them.  This is going back to when I was about ten, and the election of 1956.  Upon reflection, I'd have to say that of all those disappointments, the smallest disappointment turned out to be Eisenhower, and the other disappointments pretty much lived up to my expectations.
               In my opinion, my disappointments were for very good reason, as we were very poorly served by first, Nixon, then Reagan, George H. W., and his son, W.  But, I have to say that am not so much disappointed by the outcome of the election of 2016, as I am downright terrified.
               The happy supporters of one Donald Trump today celebrate this man's promise to make "America Great Again."  When asked, during the campaign, about when was America so great, he said something about the late 1950's.  I will readily agree that he has a point.
               But, I am terrified because not only have we elected him, but we have also handed him a Congress and a SCOTUS that is stacked in his favor.  My fear is based on the simple fact that it is my distinct recollection that historically, those elections that disappointed me were the ones that put into office the very people whose political party is responsible for the destruction of that 1950's' way of life.
               What I remember about the 1950's is that doctors and lawyers drove Buicks, or Lincolns, or Chryslers, not Mercedes Benz's or BMW's.
               What I remember about the 1950's is that it cost a nickel to buy a Coke or a Baby Ruth, or a Hershey Bar. 
               What I remember about the 1950's was that a home could be purchased for less than $10,000.00. 
               What I remember about the 1950's was that it did not take two people working full time to be able to afford that home.
               What I remember about the 1950's is that I received a pretty damn good education that emphasized basic things, like reading, writing, and arithmetic. 
               What I remember about the 1950's is that even the Chairman of the Board of whatever company, or public entity (School District Superintendents, County Commissioners, Bank Managers and Presidents, and so forth) did not make millions and millions of dollars, when the people who actually did the work only made pennies.  Don't get me wrong, the workers did make pennies, but the difference between what they made and what the bosses made was not as disproportionate as it is today.
               What I remember about the 1950's was that competition was like a holy word.  "Competition is the very lifeblood of success,"  we were told, and we were encouraged to compete at every level, in every endeavor.  And, I also remember that one had to compete with others just to make the team, and (horrors!) trophies were only presented to winners, or to those who did something special.
               What I remember about the 1950's is that kids who got in trouble at school, got into more trouble at home.
               What I remember about the 1950's was that Democrats and Republicans worked together for the good of the country, so that important legislation did get passed through non-partisan politics.
               What I remember about the 1950's was that the majority ruled!
               What I remember about the 1950's was that we had a daily newspaper, that was read from cover to cover.  We actually trusted that newspaper to provide us with accurate news of what was going on in the world.  In my case I remember the "Oregon Journal," "The Portland Oregonian," "The Tacoma News Tribune," "The Seattle Post Intelligencer,"  "The Seattle Times."  When we wanted to read opinion, we knew that we could turn to the editorial pages of whatever newspaper, and find not only the opinions of the publisher, but of our fellow citizens.
               What I remember about the 1950's was radio programming that included comedy, drama, news, and the music of the day.  Television programming provided little music of the day, but the news coverage was pretty close to the necessary who, what, where, when of standard journalism.

               I remember a lot more about the 1950's beyond these things.  I remember that while we always had enough to eat, we never ate fancy (I could provide a long, long list of things that I never ate until after I left home).  While we always had clothes to wear, we wore a lot of hand-me-downs, and they were as clean as a wringer washer could get them.  I remember that we bathed once a week (whether we needed it or not), and I never saw a shower outside of school, and I never took a real shower (like with soap) until I was drafted, and that was 1965!  I remember that we did not own a television until 1959, and it was used!  I remember that we only had one car, and it was always at least ten years old.  I remember that my mother never learned to drive, and she never left the house unless my father took her.  I remember that we never had a real home of our own, because we moved so often, and always lived in rented houses.  I remember living on ranches so far from town that we only went to town once a month.  I remember attending a three room school, where grades 1 through 8 were all taught together.
               Now, I wonder how many of these things does Mr. Trump remember.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

2000 Redux

I am nearly speechless this morning, as I woke to the news that the dumbing of America is finally complete.  We have elected the very worst of the worst, and I greatly fear for my children and grandchildren.

I anticipate that it will not be long before people like me, who dare to say anything negative about this cretin will be labeled as unpatriotic, traitors, or worse.  I fear the threat of violence to all about me, as we do not own gunz, as we live on the border, and as we have Mexican roots.

I know that things will be even worse than my worst nightmares, since this nation also no longer has anything resembling what used to be called the Fourth Estate, and our education system has failed us.

God save us, because we have failed to do so for our selves.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Is Anybody There? Or, you know what? The VA really sucks!

I am convinced that no live human beings are employed at the VA.  I have been attempting to pursue an application for benefits with them for nearly three years now, and have yet to interact with a live person.  Their rules require that a veteran go through a Veterans Service Organization (VSO) just to initiate an application.  The employees of that VSO do not interact with the VA, either.  All of the paper correspondence that I have received from the VA during this very long and drawn out process is either computer-generated or simply a form letter.  Never once have I received any written document with a signature on it.

The most recent document I received from them has this closing:

Sincerely Yours,

            Regional Office Director

Regional Office Director

Really!  That is just the way it is printed!  No real human name, but perhaps the person's name is Regional Office Director, and he/she actually writes in a Brush Script font!  After all, why would they need to put the same "name" below in a more conventional font?

Now, one reason they have me upset again is that this latest communication that I received includes some 22 pages of additional documentation, which is mostly a quoting of the applicable laws to apparently justify why they continue to deny me.  There is a recap of the case's activity to date, and it represents their idea of evidence and "adjudicative actions."  According to their chronology, my application began with my application, via the Texas Veterans Commission, dated Feb. 9, 2015 (they apparently did not receive this until 02/26/2015).  They then took five months to "consider" my claim, and six additional days to notify me that they were denying the claim.

They then received my formal "Notice of Disagreement" [with their decision] on 07/28/2015.  This was followed by them sending me a Appeal Election Letter, and my De Novo Review election back on 08/06/2015 & 08/18/2015.  They then took fourteen months to "review" my less than two page disagreement, before informing me as of 10/26/2016, that they have again denied my application.

Now, without going into too much detail, I will share that my application to the VA is based on two different things.  One, I do have marked hearing loss, and the Audiologist who performed my first hearing evaluation referred me to the VA, saying that she suspected my hearing loss began when I was in the Army all those years ago, and that made me like many other men she had seen.  The VA sent me to another local Audiologist, who told me that she saw no reason why they should deny my claim, but then wrote in her report to them that she could not say whether or not my hearing loss is due to anything service related.  Her point to me was that the records show no hearing evaluation prior to discharge, so they cannot prove that my hearing loss is NOT service connected.  Unfortunately, they took the opposite position, and concluded that there is no proof of anything service connected.

I also thought that I would try to bring to the attention of the VA something else that I have thought about over the years having to do with my teeth and the dental care I received in the Army.  I was drafted in November of 1965, and the only time I saw a dentist between that time and January of 1968 was an initial evaluation.  There is no documentation of me seeing any dentist, or complaining of any dental problems from that point until I began a series of visits in January of 1968.  I distinctly recall being told at that time that the crowns of my teeth were too small, and that if nothing was done about that, I would develop problems later in life.  I went to the dentist in January of 1968 because I was ordered to go there.  I do not recall complaining of any problems prior to that date.  I have researched as best I can since I began this application process, trying to find anything anywhere that would confirm or deny the possibility that there might exist such a real dental diagnosis as "crowns too small," but have found nothing.

At any rate, I wrote on 07/13/2015, that an Army Dentist had told me that the crowns on 13 of my teeth were too small, and that I needed to have them all drilled out, and fillings put in.  I did point out that I had already been in the Army for more than two years at that time, with no dental problems.  And, I stated, in my own words, that this was unnecessary work.

I did my best to explain this to the VA in that Notice of Disagreement in July of last year, with a bit less detail, and after fourteen months, their Statement of Claim summarized my statement as saying, "You contend that you had several flilings[sic] in service, that you were told that you might need additional work, and that the fillings may have been unnecessary."

Fourteen months?!  To totally misconstrue my words?!  How can that be?  To add insult to injury, the VA's letter to me on that same date, informing me that my claim had been denied was addressed to a Ms. Dungan.

Now, it appears that my only option is to request either a televised hearing, or a hearing in person.  Supposedly, a hearing with a live person will take longer to arrange, since their "judge" must travel from Washington, D. C.  I have decided to request the televised hearing, just so that I can finally tell someone just what I think of them.  I think it is simply unconscionable that they cannot provide any face to face contact with any of their employees, and that they have reduced their process to such a degrading and belittling experience for veterans.