October 2011 Archives

A bit of narrative regarding my experience with this ATV rental operation out of Spanish Fork.
 
- Reserved 6x quads in early October. Provided a $300 non-refundable reservation deposit.  
- Was told over the phone by ToyitUp that if I cancelled, I'd lose my $300
- I had the reservation booked for 14 Oct
- On 10 October, I phoned in to cancel. Boss decided that timing wasn't good and we'd reschedule for next May. Got voicemail when I phoned in my cancellation.
- Phoned again evening of 13 October to confirm they received my cancellation. Was told all was good.
- Checked credit card statements today and noticed that ToyitUp charged me the $300 deposit and $823 reservation fee.
- Called them today and they informed me that the legalese said that if I cancelled within 15 days without written, I'd forfeit the entire fee.
 
** They charged me almost $1200 for machines I never rented and are now claiming that I can have in-store credit in lieu of a refund **
 
Needless to say, I'm not going to stand for this. Awaiting a phone call from their "manager".
 
BEWARE THIS OPERATION.
Note: What a crock. Obama promised to keep his administration transparent and open, and now the DOJ wants a new law to allow them to lie?

---

Original story here:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/10/26/justice-department-proposes-letting-government-deny-existence-sensitive/

A longtime internal policy that allowed Justice Department officials to deny the existence of sensitive information could become the law of the land -- in effect a license to lie -- if a newly proposed rule becomes federal regulation in the coming weeks.

The proposed rule directs federal law enforcement agencies, after personnel have determined that documents are too delicate to be released, to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests "as if the excluded records did not exist." 

Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, says the move appears to be in direct conflict with the administration's promise to be more open. 

"Despite all the talk of transparency, I can't think of what's less transparent than saying a document does not exist, when in fact, it does," Sekulow told Fox News.

Justice Department officials say the practice has been in effect for decades, dating back to a 1987 memo from then-Attorney General Edwin Meese. 

In that memo, and subsequent similar internal documents, Justice Department staffers were advised that they could reply to certain FOIA requests as if the documents had never been created. That policy never became part of the law -- or even codified as a federal regulation -- and it was recently challenged in court.

A final version of the proposal could be issued by the end of 2011. If approved, the new rule would officially become a federal regulation with the force of law.

But the Justice Department got so much pushback in response to the proposal that it took the unusual step of re-opening the public comment period after it had already been closed. That second comment period closed last week. 

When the new comment period began, the American Civil Liberties Union became one of the most vocal critics of the proposal. Mike German, Policy Counsel with the ACLU, authored a lengthy letter in opposition. 

"It's shocking that you would twist what is supposed to be a statute -- that's supposed to give people access to what the government is doing -- in a way that would allow the government to actually mislead the American public," German told Fox News.

Melanie Ann Pustay, director of the Justice Department's Office of Information Policy, said the entire consideration process for the proposal "has been open and transparent." 

She also notes that sensitive information requires special consideration. 

"To ensure that the integrity of the exclusion is maintained, agencies must ensure that their responses do not reveal the existence of excluded records," Pustay said.

Sekulow says he is not buying that argument, and argued that FOIA requesters who get a response telling them that officials can neither confirm or deny the existence of documents now can at least go to court to sue for more information. 

If they're told that no documents exist, there is no basis for a legal challenge at all, Sekulow said. 

"The real concern is here is it changes the entire dynamic of what the law was intended to do, and really gives the Department of Justice the upper hand in area where they shouldn't have it."


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Fillmore and 5th wheel saga..

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On Friday, October 21st (2011), we departed Salt Lake City for Fillmore. Our goal was to get in one more camping and ATV'ing adventure before the weather turned cold and snowy.

On the first Fillmore exit, we stopped to hit Carls Jr. for a quick lunch. Just as we parked, we noticed a guy on a golf cart inspecting every trailer that pulled into the lot. At first, we didn't think much of it.

A few minutes later, this guy was looking at my 5th wheel tires with much interest. He came over and told me that my tire tread was separating and that if I pulled my rig to the service station a few hundred feet away, his guys would gladly mount my spare. I pulled to the service station and was immediately told that all six of my 5th wheel tires were coming apart.

Initially, it looked very likely that I was in a very dangerous situation with my trailer. I was quoted $2100 for 6x Cooper "Provider" tires in 235/80 R16. I declined and we made the 2-3 mile tow to the Fillmore KOA.

Google was fired up and I researched Cooper tires. To my dismay, I learned that Cooper doesn't carry a brand called "Provider", nor did they carry my tire size. Clearly, these guys were pedaling Chinese knock-off tires at twice the price I could source replacements from Discount Tire/Sears/Walmart.

To compound matters, upon arriving at the KOA, we determined that the front electric motor for the levlling legs was not working. We had to manually crank to lower (and then raise) the legs. Additionally, the rear garage door was not sealing completely, allowing both sunlight and bugs to come through.

We settled in that Friday night and for dinner, drove the ~50 miles to Hoovers for another awesome meal.

The following morning (Saturday), we decided to sleep in a bit. Overnight temps were near freezing, so nobody was really inclined to get out into the cold morning air.

My 11am, we had the ATV's loaded and were ready to roll. Destination: Marysvale (just shy of 60 miles one-way across two mountain ranges (Pahvant & Tushar).

Our route would start at the far North/East corner of Fillmore via the Paiute 03 trail through Chalk Creek.






Somewhere near the middle of the Max Reid trail (Paiute 01), the Honda Rancher lost all brakes at one of the steepest sections of trail. My tactic: Get my ATV and my sons in front of the wife and have her just coast down using the two front ATV's at brakes. Success!

Hunters were everywhere in the woods. How they managed to spot a deer is amazing considering how close they all were to each other. Deer to hunter ratio had to be 100:1 (100 hunters for every deer).

We returned to camp after sun-down with temps in the 40-50F range.

That evening, we discussed the situation with the 5th wheel tires. I went out and inspected and determined the tires would be able to handle the 140 mile return trip home.

We departed early Sunday morning and didn't exceed 55mph the entire trip home. We arrived without incident. Seems to me that tire center in Fillmore has a pretty interesting (and unethical) racket: Scope out every trailer, spread FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt), then when they hook somebody, they increase their tire prices by $600-800 over normal retail.

The quest for replacement tires is underway and the 5th wheel goes back to Motorsportsland for service on Friday. What an eventful weekend. It would be nice to have one outing with the 5th wheel not end with maintenance/repair issues!

Netflix / Qwikster

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It would seem Netflix has reversed themselves and are not splitting DVD -v- streaming into two websites. In light of this, SNL made a pretty awesome sketch over this issue:



CNet article regarding cancellation of Qwikster spin-off:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20117888-261/netflix-cancels-qwikster-spinoff/?tag=mncol;topStories

For years, we've disliked the layout of our backyard. It was over grown with fruit trees, rotting railroad ties and spruce/juniper bushes.

In May/June of this year (2011), we decided it was time to do a bit of cleanup, starting with our 8x10 shed.

Stage 1: Relocate the 8x10 shed from the N/E corner to the N/Central section of the yard. We had no idea how much work it would be to relocate a shed. The ground was soft and muddy from weeks of rain.

At first, we purchased 4x 12' lengths of heavy duty PVC and attempted to roll the shed. Considering we had to push uphill in mud, we had no success. I even tried hooking my winch cable around the shed (winch on my ATV) and that didn't work.

We then decided to rent an industrial fork lift. 6' forks are the longest available and we needed to move the shed lengthwise. Unfortunately, the 6' forks broke through the floor of the shed and damaged the framing.

The fix? Gorilla tape wood studs to the ends of the forks, making them 10' long. SUCCESS!

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With all the heavy equipment in the backyard, the grass (what was left of it) was devastated. We needed to get the grass restored before the dogs made an even larger mess. What to do?

Initially, we thought we would just leave the lawn and put seed down, but that didn't seem to be an acceptable long-term option. The search for a landscaper was on.

We decided more work was needed. Off I went to Diamond Rental to get an excavator. I tore out all the railroad ties, many of the fruit trees and all of the juniper and spruce bushes. We'd never seen the back fence before and it was eye opening just how poorly it looked; another project exposed.

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With all the debris hauled to the dump, we were ready to replace the sprinkler system, put down fresh top soil and begin laying sod. We trenched 2-3' deep to run the new lines (satellite TV, power to my sheds, phone lines, etc) and had two dump trucks full of top soil delivered.

After grading and leveling, it was time to lay the sod. The yard was looking so much better already!

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I went to the Park City area and secured landscaping rocks from Brown's Canyon Quarry and put them in the new planter areas.

Next it was off to Bland's nursery & garden center to find some nice matching gravel. We found an excellent Gold lava rock. 20+ loads later and things were shaping up.

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Next up (for next year); Trex fencing and a pave-stone patio.

What a difference a few months and much back-breaking labor can make!
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This page is an archive of entries from October 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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