Feeble-minded

Only seventy years ago, the World Book Encyclopedia read like this:

North Carolina was one of the pioneer states of the South in the systematic care of defective and dependent classes. A state board of charities controls charitable and correctional institutions. In 1925 the control of the state prison department was given to a board of seven directors appointed by the governor and the senate. The institutions include hospitals for the insane at Morganton, Raleigh, and Goldsboro (colored); and institution for the feeble-minded at Kinston; a tuberculosis sanitarium at Sanitarium; the state prison at Raleigh; a colored orphanage at Oxford; Stonewall Jackson Training School for white boys at Concord; a home and industrial school for girls; and Morrison Training School for Negro Boys.

The terminology used and the assumption that tuberculosis, insanity, and crime were all pretty much the same problem seem terrifically offensive to most people today, but this was no doubt the height of cultural sensitivity at the time. Do you think currently-fashonable PC jargon will hold up any better over the next seven decades? Will people find ridiculous acronyms like “GLBTQ” or unweildy and imprecise terms like “communites of color” any more acceptable? I have my doubts…

I do rather like the idea of being able to say “feeble-minded” in an academic setting, though….

Chain vs. Franchise

One of my pet peeves: when people use the terms “chain” and “franchise” interchangeably. Of course, it’s a mistake usually made by squishy granolas who are complaining about what a social evil these type of businesses are. This is what makes it even much more annoying, because franchise businesses can actually encourage local entrepreneurial spirit…

For the record: Wal-Mart, Borders, Best Buy, Safeway, and the like are NOT franchises. These stores are 100% owned and operated by their respective parent companies, making them chain stores. As a rule, non-restaurant retail establishments tend to be chain stores rather than franchises, although there are exceptions…

Franchises, on the other hand, are owned by someone other than a parent company (often a local operator), but operate using that company’s brand name and image through a licensing agreement. Franchising is common to the restaurant industry, particularly in fast food, but a few retail stores and service businesses are also franchises: Hallmark card stores, IGA supermarkets, and Sir Speedy printing, for example. Franchises offer varying degrees of local control, and the agreement may be little more restrictive than requiring the use of a name. In some cases, the local entrepreneur’s name may even precede the “brand name” (e.g. “Bubba’s IGA” or “Lurleen’s Hallmark”)…

Now that I’ve made that clarification, I can safely return to my job search, message boards, and “In the Heat of the Night” reruns…

Insurance Hell

I’m so mad I could spit. I opted for COBRA coverage after leaving my job in San Francisco so as to maintain uninterrupted coverage. This means, of course, that I have to pay my own monthly premium. The specifics of that payment, as detailed in the letter sent to me when I signed up are as follows:

All future monthly premiums are due within 30 days of the due date, which is the first of each month. For example, the due date for the month of October is October 1, and you will have until October 31 to remit the premium. Failure to remit the premium within 30 days of the due date will result in a loss of coverage.

It’s as plain as it can be: payment for October must be received by the 31st of that month. What they don’t mention, in the above paragraph nor on ANY of the other paperwork and invoices they sent me, is that if you should happen to use this grace period they discuss and send your payment after the first of the month, all claims will be denied until they receive that check…

This really sucks. Not the policy, mind you, which I understand completely, but the fact that its implications were NEVER detailed to me in advance. Being a relatively intelligent person without psychic powers, I took a statement like “you will have until October 31 to remit the premium” at face value, particularly since there was no fine print suggesting I shouldn’t. And yes, I even checked for fine print. Silly me…

I explained all this to the nice lady at HealthComp, stressing how upset I was to be told — while standing in a Walgreens 90 miles from home — that my coverage had been “terminated” for non-payment. As she kept defending the policy to me, I kept telling her I had no problem with the goddamned policy, but with the shoddy way it was (never) communicated to me in advance. I still don’t think she ever quite got the message…

So instead of being at the State Fair tonight after spending some extra time with my mom, I’m back in Charlotte, fuming. I had to come home this morrning so I could collect all the documentation which would prove that I was, as far as I knew, completely current in my payments. For all the good it did me…

Anyway, it will all be cleared up in a day or two. And from now on, I’ll know that my due date with HealthComp is exactly 30 days earlier than they say it is…

Family Christian Store

In the shopping center near my house, across from the Wal-Mart Supercenter and next to the Dollar Tree, there is something called a Family Christian Store. Every time I drive by, I have to stifle my urge to walk in and ask what kind of Christians they have on sale today. Maybe something dependable AND economical, perhaps?

What I’d really like is a nice cute, young Mormon boy. They’re so shiny and fresh and healthy-looking , after all. Just like non-organic produce…

I’d also need to find out about their return policy, I suppose, because I’m almost sure I’d end up bringing him back after trying him out one or twice. Especially if he made the mistake of trying to start up a conversation. I understand that a restocking fee would probably apply, and I’m comfortable with that…

Underground Nostalgia

A post card from the past…

I remember visiting Underground Atlanta as a child, when my Dad and I would drive down to see my Mom while she was there on business. It was the early 1970s, right after the whole area had been “rediscovered”, and it was still rather a dark, adult-themed restaurant and entertainment center…

It was great in a sort of late 1960s nostalgia-obsessed sort of way which allowed it still to seem just a little seedy on some level despite being brand new on another. I remember there being a lot of that when I was a kid; it’s as if the whole country suddenly became enthralled with the turn of the century. This was the era of Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors and Victoria Station Restaurants. Supermarkets sprouted faux gas lamps, red flocked wallpaper was suddenly hot again, and every restaurant looked a little like a Victorian San Francisco whorehouse…

Anyway, the old incarnation of Underground Atlanta was too cool to last. By 1980, the area was apparently pretty scary, and MARTA construction didn’t help, but a “new” Underground Atlanta rose (sank?) in 1989. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same. I was horrified when I visited shortly after the renaissance; it was nothing but a big, bright, cheerful mall with a giant Coke bottle at its entrance…

Alas, it had fallen victim to that too common American tendency to take anything cool and interesting and turn it into a “family friendly” theme park version of its former self, eliminating pretty much any of the characteristics — and characters — which made it appealing in the first place. The “new and improved” Times Square is a prime example, although San Francisco is an even better one, since the transformation has happened almost citywide there…

I hope the rebirth of New Orleans doesn’t follow a similar pattern. I’m about 95% certain, though, that it will. It’s amazing the damage that an army of planners and developers armed with millions of tax dollars can do…

12 October 2005

This has a certain appeal:

Smurfette is left for dead. Baby Smurf is left crying and orphaned as the Smurf’s village is carpet bombed by warplanes — a horrific scene and imagery not normally associated with the lovable blue-skinned cartoon characters.

Puts me in mind of the first art exhibit I ever attended in college. It was entitled “101 Uses for a Dead Smurf” or something to that effect. All in all, I think it still rates as the BEST art exhibit I’ve ever attended…

It’s only been 36 hours and I already miss my hubby. But I AM happy that a reader has provided me with the information I sought yesterday. Thanks Jon (a much nicer Jon, I might add, than the one who emailed this bit of this bit of bilge to M. Sturtle…

The font is Advertisers Gothic, by the way…

10 October 2005 Later

Wow. My hometown just lost its primary industry. That’s a blow it wasn’t really prepared to take right now, I fear…

Unrelated: do any of you typography nerds (and I know there are a couple of you out there) have any idea what the font pictured above might be?