Archive for Outgoing Mail

Dear Senator

A New Yorker writes to her Senator:

As your constituent, I’d like to urge you to initiate an adequate response to the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. The Budapest Memorandum of 1994, which guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine, was signed by the United States, United Kingdom, Ukraine, and Russian Federation. The world now sees that Russia’s signature means nothing as Russia has violated the territorial integrity of the sovereign state of Ukraine. As an US citizen, I’d like to make sure that the signature of MY country does mean something.

This was sent to Kirsten Gillibrand, because — well, would you ask Chuck Schumer to do anything?

Meanwhile, if I’m in Kiev, I’m thinking “We gave up our nukes for this?”

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For your pleasure

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OG&E fail

I have come to grips with the reality of power outages: they happen, and they’ll continue to happen, so long as we have the twofold problem of (1) overhead wires and (2) insane weather. I’m not saying I’m okay with that, but I have learned to live with it.


Your automated outage-reporting system is deeply flawed, and no flaw is deeper than the one that’s kicking in when the automated voice says that there are several accounts associated with that number. No, there aren’t. This one account, this one number, for ten years. “Or the OG&E account number”? Yeah, right. It’s four in the morning and I’m sitting in the dark and you want me to find last month’s bill? This is stupidity on a governmental scale.

You want to know why I refuse to sign up for that “Smart Hours” crap? Because I figure if you don’t even know where the hell I live, I have no reason to trust the meter readings during those deadly 46-cent-per-kWh hours. For all I know, they could have been run up by someone who lived there 11 years ago — couldn’t they?

If you can’t do better than this, you don’t have any right to collect a franchise fee. Which, incidentally, is voted on now and again.

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Lessons learned

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Undear sir

Robert Stacy McCain gets a trollish email, and responds in kind:

Who the hell are you, and why are you sending me this e-mail? Do you have nothing better to do with your life than to scour the Internet, looking for people you disagree with, so that you can send them insulting messages?

What manner of foul hatefulness or psychiatric disorder inspires your antisocial habits? Are you addicted to dangerous drugs or in the thrall of some bizarre sexual perversion?

Seek professional help, before it’s too late.

I have yet to send something like this to one of the characters offering to write blog posts for me on some arcane subject, but I am sorely tempted to copy McCain’s text into a macro. (With, of course, a link back to his original.)

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Onside kicks

Emmett C. Burns Jr., a delegate to the Maryland General Assembly, borrowed that institution’s letterhead to write a nastygram to Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti [pdf]:

As a Delegate to the Maryland General Assembly and a Baltimore Ravens Football fan, I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo, would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically, as a Raven Football player. Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other.

Well, one way, anyway.

If Bisciotti has responded to Burns, I haven’t seen it yet. Ayanbadejo, for his part, responded politely. Meanwhile, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe responded, um, a bit less politely:

As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should “inhibit such expressions from your employees,” more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person’s right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.

I am awed by that phrase “narcissistic fromunda stain.”

(Via Language Log.)

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Franked assessment

Rather than wait for her Senator to send her the usual form letter, Julie decided to compose one on her own:

Dear Constituent,

We received your letter here at Sen. [Kent] Conrad’s office and are responding back to you mainly because that is one of the job requirements we are paid to do out of your tax dollars. We can’t possibly care about everything everyone writes to us about. We admit we don’t really care about what you wrote about, then, but in an effort to make you think that we do, we want you to know that your letter was received and here we are, responding.

Who knew? This comes off as the hard-copy equivalent of voicemail.

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I, dullard

(The following letter is being dispatched to the bank holding the note on my house, because, well, it’s impossible to underestimate my capacity for screwing things up.)

Back around the end of February, you were kind enough to send me a check for the $55.89 overage in my escrow account. And I was dumb enough not to notice it until this week. The local branch, of course, duly pointed out the stale date when I presented it.

I’m enclosing that check, sliced in two. Is it possible that, rather than reissue the check, you could simply credit $55.89 back to the escrow account? My insurance went up quite a bit this year, and this would help rebuild the account more quickly. (If it’s less hassle just to reissue the check, that’s fine; it’s my mistake, and I don’t feel entitled to make a scene one way or another.)

I appreciate your assistance with once again bailing me out of my own foolishness.

(Yes, I still write letters. For one thing, it means never having to thread my way through somebody’s voice mail.)

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While you’re at it, make them look green

A recent GAO report says that the Department of Energy spent $1.9 billion in stimulus funds to produce 10,018 full-time jobs, which works out to $194,213 per job.

Joe Sherlock says he can do better:

Dear President Obama,

Please hire me to run the Department of Energy. And please fire Steven Chu, the present Secretary of Energy and head of DOE. Yes, I know that he’s a fellow Nobel Prize winner and I’m not. (Although I have sometimes told people that I won one for plastic fabrication back in 1983. Still, that’s far less resume padding than has been done by some of your closest advisors.)

To say nothing of outright, um, fabrication.

At the heart of the Sherlock plan:

Those U.S. jobs which have gone to Asia and East Asia have done so because of cheap labor — $2 per hour versus $15/hour for light assembly work at a small to mid-size firm. So, with a $13 per hour government subsidy, I could “buy back” many of these jobs and bring them home to the good ol’ USA.

And if there’s one thing the DOE does consistently, it’s hand out subsidies. Ten thousand of these jobs would presumably run something like $260 million. Of course, we don’t have $260 million, but then we didn’t have that $1.9 billion either.

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You have to hope this works

Or that at least it keeps her on the Nice List:

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a very good girl this year. It’s been very stressful and I never once screamed out the string of obscenities that I wanted to at the top of my lungs.

At the very least, this makes her nicer than I am.

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He can’t get no satisfaction

Though he try, and he try, and he try, and he try:

I don’t run a big company, and I have no inside know-how on the vagaries of handling customer complaints — Gosh, I bet you get a lot! But I would suggest, with all due respect, that the customer profile database be tweaked somehow so you can see, for your own benefit, that a customer who bought two top-of-the-line appliances has had failures with each one, and tie this information into a repair / failure database. Surely some program could tell you that the cost of satisfying the customer NOW is less than the cost of making four trips to repair the SAME. STUPID. POORLY. DESIGNED. PART, and said customer might buy another appliance, or speak favorably of the experience to others, or refrain from issuing Twitter updates to 10,000 people.

An example of such Twitter updates:

Have been on hold to repair center for 11 minutes because “the system is locked up.” They’re quite upset about. My problem, not so much.

Is it possible that in this age of instant information transmission, the Us vs Them balance is shifting a notch toward Us? We can only hope.

Update: Never underestimate the power of a peeved blogger. Tweeted by the man himself:

The Internet gets results! Electrolux just called, is keen to do the right thing.

Hey, hey, hey! That’s what I say.

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Q.T. overload

Dear Dickinson Theatres:

It’s bad enough that you left “BASTERDS” off the marquee, but you spelled “INGLORIOUS” correctly.

What the hell were you thinking?

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Knocking back

As a matter of course, I have dashed off a letter to Awash in Bailout Funds Bank and Trust Company (Member FDIC), protesting their actions.

It goes like this:

I see you’ve given me the old Bailout Haircut: trimming [this credit line] because some magical formula told you to. While there’s no question that you can do that legally — so far as I can tell, the agreement lets you do anything this side of poisoning my dog with no recourse — I’m going to ask you to reconsider this action … for the following Not All That Bad Reasons:

  1. You’ve never gotten a payment late;
  2. I was hoping to be able to go on some sort of vacation this summer;
  3. This action makes me wonder whether it’s worth keeping the checking account I’ve had open for thirty-four years, which you acquired more than a decade ago.

Of course, it may well be that nowadays you can’t be bothered with anyone with a New Improved FICO under 800, and you’d hardly be alone in that; it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of us smaller account-holders don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, as the phrase goes. Just the same, I’d like to see some of the enthusiasm with which your staff originally issued and activated these cards applied to the fine art of customer relations: I know you can do it — I’ve been dealing with [bank name] since the [previous bank name] days — and I’d like to think you haven’t forgotten how.

I estimate the probability of success at one in three, which is below my current batting average but probably appropriate for these Desperate Times.

Incidentally, I don’t have a dog.

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Dear Motor Trend

We really appreciate your dropping by with that brace of Benzes; the ML320 BlueTEC should find many friends here in the Big Breezy, and there’s something reassuring about the fact that there’s still a spiffy 190D from the dawn of time still on the road.

That said, though, this snippet from your tour report (December) won’t wash. I quote:

We celebrate another productive day with sirloins at Oklahoma City’s famed Cattlemen’s Steakhouse (operating in the city’s historic Bricktown district since 1945).

We’ll give you “famed.” But Cattlemen’s dates back to 1910 — what happened in 1945 was an unexpected change of ownership — and it’s nowhere near Bricktown, which was so named by the late Neal Horton, first new developer in the old cluster of warehouses, in the early 1980s.

I will not, of course, ask if you tried the lamb fries.

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For lo, thou art scum

To the person or persons calling me who pretend that they’re at some nonexistent number with area code “062”:

You’ve already lied to me about your telephone number, of all things. Why on God’s green earth would I want to listen to your pitch when you’ve already told me you can’t be trusted?

(Not that I expect you to read this or anything; this is for the benefit of Googlers and such who are being similarly attacked. And so is this. This also.)

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Yeah, you’re dead, but look how much you saved

Dear Mail-Order Pharmacy:

I placed a refill order from your Web site — which means, I shouldn’t have to point out, that you’ve filled this prescription at least once already — and paid for it with a Visa card, which means you’re not waiting on your money.

Did it occur to you that calling me on the phone half an hour after the order was placed to try to talk me into some cheaper drug was incredibly frakking stupid? It certainly occurred to me. “How I can save up to $500 a year,” my ass. I paid your absurd five-times-the-price-of-generic copay because this stuff works and there are no generics. Simple as that. Ninety days from now, I’ll be happily paying six times the price, just so I don’t get any more phone calls from you addlepated schmucks.

In the meantime, three words you should learn: “dispense as written.”

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A note from my nauseating fanboy side

Dear John Hawkins:

If I send you a list of my blog crushes, is there any chance that you’ll get around to interviewing them? Besides the ones you’ve already done, I mean.

Um, no, I never read Tiger Beat. Why do you ask?



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Sometimes I share

“Well, yeah, maybe you can string a couple of sentences together long enough for the snark to coalesce,” I hear you say, “but how do you handle actual business correspondence?”

Generally, somewhat like this.

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Memo to someone who should go away

So you carefully divided your order into two different segments and proffered a different credit card for each, reasoning that you were close to being maxed out, but you could still slide this in under the wire.

What are you going to do now that both your cards were declined?

(This isn’t exactly the most unheard-of thing I ever heard of, but people who pull stunts like this should be sent to Gitmo and stuffed under the sofa.)

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From the “As if” files

Something called Cavalry Portfolio Services, a collection agency with delusions of grandeur, left a message on my machine today for somebody who isn’t here and never has been: I assume they saw a similar name in the phone book and decided that yes, this is the woman we’re looking for.

And their pitch was one I hadn’t heard before: “If you are not [debtor’s name] you must hang up.” Pause. “By continuing to listen to this call you acknowledge that you are in fact [debtor’s name].”

On the off-chance that they might Google themselves:

Dear Cavalry: By reading this article you acknowledge that (1) you are complete and utter tools and (2) you are expected to remit one thousand dollars ($1,000) by cashier’s check or money order to me at my address, in partial compensation for wasting my time and for assuming that your feeble excuse for skip tracing somehow equates to actual identification.

I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, and it’s been almost a month since the last time I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, but I believe this is every bit as enforceable as the crap they put out over the phone.

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Ward, it’s the Beaver again

Dear Mr. Cleaver:

This paragraph has absolutely nothing to do with anything. It is here merely to fill up space. Still, it is words, rather than repeated letters, since the latter might not give the proper appearance, namely, that of an actual note.

For that matter, all of this is nonsense, and the only part of this that is to be read is the last paragraph, which part is the inspired creation of the producers of this very fine series.

I hope you can find a suitable explanation for Theodore’s unusual conduct.

Lorem Ipsum was not available for comment.

(Via Jason Toon.)

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In the spirit of true empiricism

Dear Sheryl:

Nope. Not even with two-ply.

At least you can’t say I didn’t try.


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Something here doesn’t quite register

Mike Duncan
Republican National Committee
310 First Street SE
Washington, DC 20003

Dear Mr. Duncan:

Thank you for your kind letter and invitation to participate in your “GOP Census.” I must point out, however, that inasmuch as I am not a registered Republican, the “Dear Fellow Republican” salutation notwithstanding, it might be inappropriate for me to respond positively at this time.



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Standing athwart the revenue stream

Note to [name of security-software vendor redacted]: Yes, I probably will renew my subscription after the next year; I am not at this time dissatisfied with your product. But no, I’m not going to let you automatically resubscribe me at that time and charge me whatever the going rate might be, and I resent your making this the default. I should not have to go to a second (and then a third) screen, then retype all the same damned information including the product key, just to prevent automatic billing. It’s not like you’re going to forget to nag me every two weeks for the last three months of the subscription term or anything.

(No, I didn’t mention their name. But their initials are C.A.)

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Dear Dr. Rice

News Item: Mayor Bloomberg is meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to urge her to help keep the United Nations in New York City. The United Nations is looking for a temporary home while its historic headquarters overlooking the East River get a $1.2 billion renovation, but there has been speculation the world body might look for a permanent home elsewhere.

Dear Madame Secretary:

You might point out to the UN types that real estate in New York City is expensive and becoming more so, and inasmuch as the UN has consistently maintained that global warming is a fact, presenting the possibility that in not too many years Manhattan might be flooded, the organization would be wise to look for that alternate headquarters. Given its priorities in recent years, I suggest the West Bank of the river Jordan.

Oh, by the way: love the burgundy suit.

(Suggested by Al Maviva.)

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To an unnamed “nonprofit”

Losing a 623-page report does not make you look more intelligent.

Requesting a second copy of that 623-page report — even though you were already sent the same data in electronic form in addition to said report — well, the rest of the world can figure it out, even if you can’t.

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To an unsuspecting company

Sent by me this morning to support at

I have received several (let’s say “dozens”) of spams identified as from your user “kterefe”. A sample link below:

(S)he is not actually using your facilities to send the spam — they come from a variety of IPs, probably hijacked and turned into zombie machines — but all the links therein point to one of kterefe’s “Members” pages, such as the one above.

I trust that this will be a simple matter for you to take care of, and I thank you for listening.


Regular readers will note that this is a kinder, gentler treatment than that which I would actually prefer.

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Note to a brain-dead customer

When you close your checking account, you cannot continue to use the debit card associated with it.

I realize that this is a difficult concept for you, but focus.

(And next time, go to the farging 7-Eleven and buy a money order, fercrissake.)

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Paging Philip Nolan

If this catches on — well, read it yourself:

Dear Senator Sarbanes,
As a native Marylander and excellent customer of the Internal Revenue Service, I am writing to ask for your assistance. I have contacted the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to determine the process for becoming an illegal alien and they referred me to you.

My primary reason for wishing to change my status from U.S. Citizen to illegal alien stem from the bill which was recently passed by the Senate and for which you voted. If my understanding of this bill’s provisions is accurate, as an illegal alien who has been in the United States for five years, all I need to do to become a citizen is to pay a $2,000 fine and income taxes for three of the last five years. I know a good deal when I see one and I am anxious to get the process started before everyone figures it out.

Simply put, those of us who have been here legally have had to pay taxes every year so I’m excited about the prospect of avoiding two years of taxes in return for paying a $2,000 fine. Is there any way that I can apply to be illegal retroactively? This would yield an excellent result for me and my family because we paid heavy taxes in 2004 and 2005.

(Note: Not this Philip Nolan. Via Tinkerty Tonk.)

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Wasted away again

Dear Sarah:

There is no guarantee that you will live longer if you avoid Sidecar, Marlboro Lights and Taco Bueno.

It will only seem longer.

And if it takes years off your life, so what? It’s the last years, the ones where you spend half your time in the hospital and the other half trying to decipher that last letter from Medicare. How much do you think you’re going to miss that?

There’s nothing wrong with trying to lead a “sensible” existence. But fercrissake, don’t beat yourself over the head for occasionally behaving like a real person once in a while.

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