Visiting Broad Branch Distillery, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Although I love visiting distilleries when I travel, it’s nice sometimes to have a “home game.” I had toured Broad Branch Distillery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina once before, but when my family was visiting from California recently I visited again.

We didn’t get a full tour the second time, but distiller Joe did take us into the working part of the facility where they were distilling at the time. There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh distillate off the still.

Although they are now making rye whiskey and rum and other spirits, the first product I had from Broad Branch was the Nightlab 1.0. According to Joe, this is made in the style of North Carolina distiller Frank Williams who passed the recipe on to Broad Branch. The mashbill includes corn, rye, malted barley, hops, and sugar.

Whether you get a tour or not (cost is $10 and includes a tasting — check the distillery website for the current schedule), a tasting is in order on any visit. Our group tried everything on offer, which included Night Lab unaged whiskey, Smashing Violet (Night Lab infused with blueberries), Rye Fidelity (Rye-Fi), Sungrazer rum, and Nobilium whiskey (their base spirit aged for 2 years in European oak barrels).

Since I already own the Night Lab and Smashing Violet (and too much rye and rum), I took the opportunity to take home the last available bottle of “Supercollider,” a.k.a., “The Big Blend Theory.” (Thanks to my brother-in-law Wayne for buying this for me!)

With distiller Joe Tappe and my bottle of Supercollider.

According to Broad Branch, this is a “collision between 100% WA State Rye Whiskey and fresh Honey Crisp and Fuji apples, mashed and fermented together, then distilled. Rested in new oak and finished in brandy barrels, the result is a delicious, refined spirit with gentle flavors of cooked fruit, maple, and spice.”

Having now tasted the Supercollider, I have to agree with their description. Delicious straight up, on the rocks, or as part of any fruity, whiskey-based cocktail.

Visiting Half Moon Bay Distillery, Half Moon Bay, California

Craft distilling is where it’s at, so it was exciting to be able to tour the Half Moon Bay Distillery in my childhood home town. I especially appreciate owner Ulli’s giving us a tour on a Monday afternoon (their regularly schedule tours are Friday-Sunday).

The distillery currently is tucked away in the working part of Princeton, near Pillar Point Harbor. There are two “rooms” downstairs, one has the beautiful German column still and one has the “tasting room.” It’s not fancy, but who cares? We got to sit and have our tour while the still was producing spirits right next to us. Cool.

They currently make and sell a vodka and gin, though they have also distilled some rye whiskey and grappa. Which reminds me: when you drive onto Harvard Ave. if you are coming from the harbor you will see a big building with the HMB Distilling logo on it. That is their FUTURE home. We waited there for a few minutes before we realized that it was not the current location.

Sandy and me in front of the NEW home of HMB Distillery, opening soon.

I have to say that the information that Ulli provided during the tour was some of the most informative I have heard during a distillery tour. What follows are some of what I learned for those interested in such things.

VODKA: Vodka is distilled to 95% alcohol content (190 proof), and is then “proofed” down to 40%. Because it is distilled to such a high level of purity, the actual source of starch doesn’t matter as much for vodka as for other distilled spirits. So, you can use grains, potatoes, or grapes. HMB Distillery uses wheat and malted barley. This doesn’t affect the “flavor” of the vodka because it is ideally a neutral spirit. But Ulli suggested that it may affect the mouth feel – the viscosity of the spirit when you drink it.

Ulli also said the key is not what you put in the spirit but what you take out. The purer and cleaner the better, and you take out some of the impurities by removing the “heads” of the distillation run — the first part of the distillate that contains nasty stuff you don’t want to drink or even smell. They typically run off 3-4 quarts of heads which they can then use as a cleaner or perhaps nail polish remover. After the “heads” comes the “hearts,” which is what you want to bottle, followed by the “tails” which are also sub par.

To me vodka is a boring spirit to drink, but the Purissima vodka they make is very good vodka, and made some excellent Moscow Mules when we got home.

GIN: Is basically a neutral spirit (vodka) infused with botanicals — notably juniper berries — for flavor. What makes HMB Distillery’s Harvard Avenue gin unique is the particular blend of botanicals they use, which Ulli said accent citrus flavors to make it a sort of “California Style” gin. In addition to juniper berries they include orange and lemon peel, as well as grain of paradise, rose hips, coriander, licorice root, cinnamon and clove.

The method by which they infuse the neutral spirit with these botanicals is “vapor extraction”, which means they put all the botanicals in a bag which the alcohol vapor passes through and picks up the flavor. This is a more subtle way of infusing the spirit than “maceration,” in which the botanicals are soaked in the liquid.

The taste of this gin is as advertised. I will enjoy drinking it straight and trying it in one of my favorite cocktails — the Negroni.

Visiting St. George Spirits, Alameda, California

San Francisco is a lot of things, but a hotbed of craft distilling it is not. So we made our way over to the East Bay to visit St. George Spirits. The distillery is on the north end of Alameda Island, in a hangar on the site of the former Alameda Naval Air Station, where you get a great view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline from the parking lot.

The Story: Founder Jorg Rupf grew up in the Black Forest in Germany and learned to distill at a young age. He later became the youngest judge in Germany and was sent to Berkeley to further his legal studies. While in the Bay Area, he began making “eau de vie” — a clear spirit distilled from fruit — in a 65 gallon Holstein pot still in Emeryville (coincidentally where I lived in 1988-1990).

The company takes its name from the Patron Saint of Germany, and may also be a not so subtle reference to the founder Jorg. Which may not be a stretch as Rupf is considered a founder of the modern artisanal/craft distilling movement in the United States.

Although I associate St. George Spirits with their gin because that is what I have had, it is actually their Pear Brandy which is their foundational spirit.

The Liquor: For $15, you can taste 6 of St. George’s 15 available spirits. Since I was there with my wife, our tasting guide suggested we split our tastings giving us 12 total. Which meant it was easier to say what we DIDN’T want to taste that what we did want to taste. We passed on two vodkas and one of the flavored liqueurs.

For a craft distiller, St. George has a diversified portfolio of spirits. Anyone who loves liquor can find something to embrace here.

Brown spirits aficionados who can’t find the rare St. George single malt (or “Baller” Japanese-style whiskey) can try the Breaking & Entering American Whiskey which combines the single malt with both bourbon and rye whiskey. It makes for an approachable drink.

The gins are notable for their distinct flavors. The terroir in the “Terroir” gin is Mt. Tamalpais, north of San Francisco, whose ridge line is visible on a clear day from the tasting room or on the bottle’s label any day. The predominance of Douglas fir in the aromatics is highly suggestive of Mt. Tam.

I took home two bottles from the distillery. First, the Bruto Americano, a “California Amaro,” because I love Campari. To my admittedly limited palate, it was as delicious as the benchmark.

I also took home a half bottle of the “brandy with herbs,” a.k.a., Absinthe Verte. I found the monkey on the label playing a skull like a drum with two bones to be appropriate since I sort of felt like that the last time I drank absinthe. According to our spirit guide, St. George made the first legal American absinthe after the U.S. ban was lifted in 2007.

I didn’t have much interest in the liqueurs, though people who like liqueurs would enjoy these. If I wasn’t traveling, I would definitely have taken home a bottle of the pear eau de vie — the brandy that made the brand.

The Visit: No tours are offered during the week, so we settled for the guided tasting. Our guide was at times knowledgeable and excited to share and at times distracted and sleepy. Even at his best, however, I always have an incomplete feeling when I visit a distillery and don’t get at least some tour.

Being able to see the working distillery through the large windows from the tasting area sort of added insult to injury.

To be sure, there were people working in the distillery during our visit, but it was not so active that a brief run through the facility couldn’t have been done. There were a couple of other people working in the tasting area who didn’t seem to be too busy to do this.

Still, the tasting was amazing and a visit to St. George Spirits is highly recommended. Next time I hope we get that tour.

Visiting Alley 6 Craft Distillery, Healdsburg, California

Toward the end of a visit to Napa Valley, my mind turned from wine to whiskey, so on our way home we passed by Silver Oak and Jordan in the Alexander Valley and stopped at Alley 6 Craft Distillery in the Sonoma County city of Healdsburg.

The Story: A distillery amid hundreds of wineries is a unique niche. Krystle and Jason Jorgensen founded Alley 6 in 2012 after Jason worked a dozen plus years as a bartender. As he tells it, he wanted to find a way to drink cheaper.

They are committed to being a true craft distiller, selling only “grain to glass” liquor made entirely on-site (milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling, barreling, and bottling). They now have two 123 gallon Alembic Copper pot stills that they bought from the larger Sonoma Distilling Company down the road.

The Liquor: Five liquors are offered for the $10 tasting (1 of our 2 tasting fees was waived because we bought a bottle).

The Single Malt Whiskey was aged just over a year. The “heavy charred” American oak 10-15 gallon barrels help accelerate the aging process, but the spirit still had a young taste.

The Rye Whiskey was my favorite. Although aged less than 2 years, the 22% malted barley and sub-90 proof take some of the rough edges off this spirit.

If I had more space and money, I would have gotten a bottle of the Apple Brandy. Being in California, it reminds me of John Steinbeck’s drinking “California calvados.”

The Spiced Peach liqueur, we were told, was supposed to be a peach brandy but it got over-oaked and so was salvaged with sugar and spice. The result was pleasing as it is sweeter than a peach brandy but less sweet than many peach liqueurs.

Finally, the Harvest Gin is grape-based (an easy choice in wine country) and adds distinctive local laurel and wild fennel. If I wasn’t limited to one bottle, I would have gotten one of these, too.

The Visit: The distillery is located in a metal building in an unassuming industrial office park off the main road. You enter the cozy tasting room through the main door.


The Poet’s Corner stained glass piece behind the tasting bar was salvaged from a bar in Colorado. Nice touch.


We asked if we could have a “tour” of the facility but were told initially that it was a mess because they were setting up for an event later. I said all working distilleries are messy, to no avail.

During our tasting, owner/distiller Jason Jorgensen came in and we asked if we could get a photo with him, and when he opened the door to the distilling area hit him up for a tour. He gladly welcomed us to see where the magic happens. I’ve seen a lot messier distilleries, so hopefully the host won’t be as reluctant to let future guests poke around. That’s half the fun, after all.



The Geography of Friends and Family

My sisters and brother-in-law just finished a visit to North Carolina, so I have been thinking about a recent post on Scatterplot about “the geography of friends.” The post highlights an analysis of friendship links on Facebook from the New York Times.

The article cites existing research as showing: “The typical American lives just 18 miles from his or her mother. The typical student enrolls in college less than 15 miles from home.”

Although this is true for my sisters, who live less than 3 miles from each other and our parents in our hometown in California, I could not live much further from home. I live over 2,300 miles as the crow flies, and over 2,700 miles driving distance. Although I graduated from UC-Berkeley (30 miles from home),  I began college 2,500 miles away in Washington, DC at The American University. I haven’t lived in California since I graduated from college in 1991, and having raised kids and married a woman from North Carolina, the odds of moving back are slim.

I would think that the social networks of California Facebook users would be broader than North Carolinians, but the data show otherwise. The interactive map in the NY Times story shows that the county I grew up in is not very different from the county I currently live in. In San Mateo County, California, 54% of Facebook connections live within 50 miles of each other and 59% within 100 miles. In Forsyth County, North Carolina, those percentages are 54% and 65%. Nationally, the average is 63% within 100 miles.

Even in the world of online social networks, most people know people close to them. And people who live and work far from home are outliers.

Merging My New Year’s Resolutions with My “To Do” List

I know people have differing views of the value of New Year’s Resolutions, but I always do them. They give me a moment to reflect on the previous year’s aspirations, successes, and failures, and to articulate some new (or, often, continuing) aspirations for the coming year.

One problem, though, is that I don’t often revisit my resolutions. They are the front page on my bullet journal, but I only occasionally remember to look at that page through the year.

So, when I saw an advertisement for Personalized Paper Manufacturing Group, I got an idea. I could make custom “To Do” list notepads that begin with some of my New Year’s Resolutions, then have extra lines for me to write in other things I need to do that day.

I bought 8 pads with 50 sheets each for $32 including shipping. At $4 per pad that is more expensive than using scrap paper, but less expensive than some of the fine stationary to do list pads I like to use.

I am big into to do lists, so I’m excited to see if this tool will help me do better with my resolutions for 2018.

Battling the Cell Phone Menace in Class for a Decade Now

Facebook’s wayback machine (“On this Day” app) reminded me this morning that I have been battling students using their cell phones in class for a long time now.

I know some professors don’t care if students use their phones in class. Fine by me; their class, their rules. And some are just unaware. Many Wake Forest students, including my now graduated son Paul, text me from their classes. But I find it distracting. So, I have tried to dissuade students from using their phones in class for some time.

I put a special note in my syllabus, highlighted in red(dish) so it cannot be missed (above). And I make clear in the grading rubric for class participation the penalty for using phones in class.

And still students use their phones in class, and then complain to me at the end of class when I penalize them for doing so. (Among other things they complain about with respect to their class participation grades.)

So this year I’ve decided to try to triple reinforce my expectations by having students sign and initial that they have read and understand the class expectations. We’ll see what difference it makes.

Verizon Wireless’s Fool-Proof Plan for Losing a Customer

Final Update: Somehow “Brandon” in the corporate office got my blog post yesterday. He apologized on behalf of Verizon and said he would call financial services on my behalf to get me taken off “cash only” status. Thus resolves my 2 month issue. As compensation for my trouble, Verizon waived the remaining $240 I owed on my account.

Original Post with Updates

I have been a Verizon Wireless customer for as long as I have had a cell phone, which is around 2004 IIRC. Never missed a payment, always upgrade my phone, currently have 6 lines on my account. I’ve generally had good customer service, but a recent experience with getting new phones for myself and my wife has definitely spoiled me on the company.

I am not the only person who has blogged about this. See the source of this graphic, Peter Kreutzer’s The Spectacular Awfulness of Verizon Customer Service at


The Short Version

The long version of the story, with supporting documents, is below. The short version of the story is that in April on release day my wife and I each bought Samsung Galaxy S8 phones to replace our old Note 4s. When they arrived on 4/21, we immediately realized that the screen was too small. Taking advantage of the “Try it worry-free with our 30-Day Return Policy” (see screen cap below), we decided to exchange our S8s for the larger S8+.

Screen cap of Verizon web page, April 24, 2017

Because we bought the phones on-line and were on the road when we wanted to process the exchange, we were not able to just walk into a Verizon store and exchange the phones. (For future reference: Do this.) I sought advice from Verizon chat who advised me to call customer care to help me exchange the phones.

Customer care advised me that in order to exchange the phones rather than return them, the easiest thing to do would be to buy out the amount of the cost of the phones remaining ($612/each) and then buy the new phones on the regular Verizon financing plan. Then when the phones being returned were received, I would get credited for the $612/each paid.

No problem. Received the new phones, packaged up the unwanted phones using return address labels provided by Verizon. Shipped those May 1st and received emails from Verizon confirming they were received on May 10th and 11th.

By May 30th I had not received a refund so I chatted with and called Verizon customer service again. After half an hour on the phone, the CS rep acknowledged Verizon mistake and said he would put in for the refund. Three weeks later on June 21st, still no refund so I call Verizon customer service again. This time I am almost 2 hours on the phone with 2 different people but “Katie” assures me that she is going to handle the situation.

When Katie did not follow through on her promise six days later, I contested the charges with American Express who on June 29th credited me back the $1,224 plus interest. Verizon promptly charged the $1,224 back to my Verizon account. On July 1st, after receiving a threatening text message from Verizon, so during my vacation while in the middle of the desert in Arizona I called Verizon. After over an hour on the phone, this time “Judy” assured me that the credit would be applied that day (though it would take 5 days to process).

Again thinking the situation was resolved I was surprised to receive yet another threatening text message today and to find that my Verizon account STILL had a $1,224 past due balance. Another hour on the phone with Verizon customer service and this time “Ken” assured me he was going to take care of it.

While on hold with Ken, I started chatting with Verizon Wireless CS on Twitter. In the time that it took Ken to promise that he would try to get the credit, the Twitter CS people actually applied a credit to my account today, clearing the past due balance.

Which raises the question, Why did it take 2 months from the time they received the phones (mid-May), and 6 weeks from my first phone call (May 30), and 5 different phone calls plus a chat (plus two contested charges with American Express) totaling over 5 hours of my time invested to get the money back from Verizon that was due to me?

And, furthermore, What compensation do I get from Verizon for all of the time, energy, and worry involved in trying to get this resolved? Nothing, as RD makes clear in his final Twitter chat message to me.

And humorously enough, when RD closed our chat, an automated message popped up from Verizon asking “How are we doing?” Well, if you’ve read to this point, you know the answer: You are doing terrible. And you have lost a good customer of longstanding because of it.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this, but before I published it, “Andrea” from Verizon social media customer service contacted me, in response to the negative response I gave to the “How are we doing?” survey at the end of my chat with @VZWSupport. She expressed concern about my poor experience and wanted to let me know that Verizon was very sorry. She noted that I asked what compensation I would receive for all of the time, energy, and worry I put into getting the situation resolved. She asked if I would be willing to accept an account credit of $110 — the portion of the $350 I pay monthly to Verizon that covers my unlimited data plan — as compensation. I accepted the account credit, but also let her know that the experience seriously damaged my relationship with Verizon and that I would be exploring my wireless options going forward.

UPDATE 2: Since I spoke with Andrea I went on line to try to schedule a payment for my regular balance due minus the $110 credit Andrea arranged. I find the “alert” below: Not eligible to make online payments. Must pay in cash at Verizon store or mail money order or certified check. LOLOLOLOL. Spent 6 weeks trying to get money back from Verizon now trying to pay my bill and denied. Can’t win.

UPDATE 3: According to @VZWSupport (on Twitter), because I have been put on a cash only basis due to Verizon trying to screw me out of $1,224 for phones I returned in May, *I* have to take *MY* time out to call Financial Services. The nightmare continues.

The Long Version (With Documentation)

4/20/17: Ordered Samsung Galaxy S8 phones from website

4/21/17: Phones delivered to Half Moon Bay, California

4/24/17: Decided S8 phones too small, wanted to exchange for S8+. Chatted with Verizon customer service, then called customer service as advised by chat agent.

Customer care advised me that in order to exchange the phones rather than return them, the easiest thing to do would be to buy out the amount of the cost of the phones remaining ($612/each) and then buy the new phones on the regular Verizon financing plan. Then when the phones being returned were received, I would get credited for the $612/each paid.

4/24/17: Ordered new phones and requested they be delivered to Verizon store in Rome, Georgia where we were traveling.

4/28/17: Picked up Galaxy S8+ phone from Verizon store, activated them, and put S8 phones into same boxes and returned using return address labels provided by Verizon.

5/1/17: Mailed S8 phones back to Verizon (confirmed by email below).

5/10/17: 9 days later, the first of the two S8 phones were received by Verizon and note on screen cap below: ACCOUNT CREDITED. Actually, it was not credited.

5/11/17: 10 days later, the second of the two S8 phones were received by Verizon and note on screen cap below: ACCOUNT CREDITED. Actually, it too was not credited.

So at this point in the story, I have two charges for $612 on my American Express card for phones I returned to Verizon as instructed by Verizon, and which Verizon received back into inventory.

5/30/17: A month after mailing the S8 phones back to Verizon, and over two weeks after Verizon acknowledged receiving the phones, I still had not received a credit to my credit card (or to my Verizon account). So, I entered into another chat with Verizon customer service (screen cap below).

Again the chat agent could not help me and advised I call the Financial Team, which I did.

5/30/17: Spoke to Verizon Customer Service representative on phone for half an hour, explaining what happened. At end of phone conversation he said it was clearly a mistake to follow the advice given to me to pay off the phone and then return it, but that because I was given bad advice by Verizon, the request that he was filing advising I be refunded $1,224 would be no problem.

6/21/17: Three weeks later, still no refund to my credit card or my Verizon account (despite the fact that the charge is on my American Express card accruing interest at 16% APR). I call Verizon Customer Service again. I explain the situation to another representative, who does a partial investigation and then suggests that I might be able to get the $1,224 credited to my Verizon account, which I could then use to pay my wireless bill over the next 3 months. I flatly rejected this suggestion, since it would mean basically loaning money that Verizon owed me back to Verizon. At this point she puts me on hold to connect me to a supervisor. After nearly an hour on the phone, my call is disconnected.

As is evident in the screen cap above, I call back immediately and this time ask to be immediately escalated to the next level of customer service. I am connected with Katie. I explain to Katie everything that happened with my first two phone calls, and that I would not accept anything other than a credit back to my American Express. Katie says that the notes the CS rep put in the system on 5/30 were not clear and so I walk her again step by step through the problem. Katie assures me that she will see my problem through to its conclusion and will continue to stay in touch with me until it is resolved. After nearly an hour on the phone (102 minutes total for 6/21/17), Katie says that the fault was Verizon’s and that she would be able to file a request for a refund that would be processed.

I receive an email confirmation that the payment is being investigated (below) and I also speak again with Katie later that day for another 7 minutes so she can confirm my credit card information so that she can make sure the right account gets credited (above).

Before the end of our first phone conversation, I tell Katie that I either would have a refund to my credit card by the end of the week or I would be contesting the charges with American Express.

6/23/17: Over six weeks since Verizon received the second of the two S8 phones I returned, I get a text message from Katie two days after our phone conversation informing me that she is still working on the refund.

6/27/17: The following Tuesday — 6 days after I spoke with Katie who said she would resolve my problem — I finally disputed the charges for both phones with American Express.

6/29/17: Still no refund from Verizon and no word from Katie, 8 days after my conversation with her in which she assured me she would handle the situation. American Express also does not hear back from Verizon concerning the disputed charges and refunds the $612 x 2 as well as the accrued interest to my card. Customer service at American Express could not be any different than at Verizon.

7/1/17: While I am on vacation in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, I receive a message from Verizon stating that I need to make a payment to “avoid interruption and a reconnection fee per line.” I take time out of my lunch to call Verizon. This time I speak to Judy, for over an hour (see below). She once again reviews my entire case file and I once again explain the entire situation to her. She insists that she does not want to get off the phone until the matter is entirely resolved, and I say that is a good thing because I am out in the middle of BFE Arizona and if I cannot use my phone I could be in big trouble.

After an hour of sitting in my car in 100 degree Arizona desert temperatures, my phone conversation with Judy ends as follows (transcription of phone call):

David: Yes

Judy from Verizon: OK, we are taking care of this. The credit will be going through. And I’m contacting financial services today on your behalf to tell them not to turn off your services because we are processing a credit for the $1,224 today.

D: That’s going back to my Verizon account not my American Express card right?

J: No, it’s going to clear your Verizon account out here. Correct.

D: OK. And the whole matter will be settled then, there’ll be no problems?

J: Yes, it’s going to be cleared up today. Everything’s going to be applied today. And we’ll get it taken care of, and then I’m going to call financial services on your behalf to let them know not to turn the services off, and that we have a credit that is being applied to the $1,224 to clear that out.

D: Well, that’s very good news. I appreciate your help with that. I wish I would have talked to you the first time.

J: And I do apologize for this having to take so long and for you having to repeat it so many times. It is going to take about 5 days for us to process on our end, but you can know that it is going to be cleared out. I just need to get to financial services to let them know it is going to take about 5 days so that way they’ll be able to see the credit sitting in there just waiting to be applied to the account.

D: OK, just as long as I don’t lose my service. I could die in the desert if I do.

J: No you are absolutely not going to lose your services. I am going to take care of that call just as soon as I get off the phone with you, OK?

D: OK, thank you very much and GOD BLESS YOU.

J: And thank you as well, and you go and enjoy your vacation. We have the rest of this taken care of on our end. Once and for all.

D: OK, thanks Judy.

This conversation took place two weeks ago.

7/14/17: Two weeks after Judy assures me “It is going to take about 5 days for us to process on our end, but you can know that it is going to be cleared out,” I receive the following text message from Verizon again telling me to pay my bill or have my service interrupted and pay a reconnection fee.

I check my account and sure enough, plain as day, it shows that I STILL have a past due balance in the disputed amount of $1,224. All of Judy’s sincere assurances were as meaningful as all of Katie’s. At this point I am 6 weeks, 4 phone calls, and nearly 4 hours into an ordeal of trying to get credit back to my credit card (and now to my Verizon account) money that should have been credited back to me in mid-May.

I call Verizon customer service again and tell the agent that I had already spoken to 5 different people and that I did not want to speak to her and please connect me to her supervisor. After being on hold for 6 minutes, I remembered the earlier call that I was on hold waiting for a supervisor for 30 minutes only to get disconnected. So I hung up and this time spoke to customer service representative Ken, explaining my situation and frustration that each customer service interaction was like the first, despite the fact that both Katie and Judy insisted that they were taking copious notes in my record so that it would be perfectly clear what was going on.

After a brief investigation, Ken puts me on hold for 30 minutes. During this time I struck up a chat with Verizon CS on Twitter to pass the time being on hold with Ken (which amount to nearly an hour total time again when combined with my initial 7 minutes on hold).

After having me on hold for 30 minutes, Ken comes back on the line to let me know, “You’re in luck.” When I (not politely) let him know that I didn’t think 4.5 hours on the phone over 6 weeks made me lucky, he punitively put me back on hold. 5 minutes later he came back on the line to tell me that a credit would be issued to my account for $1,224 but that it was too late for that to show up on this billing cycle so he would call the financial people to ask them to put my account on a 2 week hold so I could not have my service interrupted.

So, basically telling me — like Katie and Judy did — to trust him to get the credit processed at some unspecified time. I told Ken I had been told this three times before and what should I do if what he promises will happen doesn’t happen? He had no good response other than it wasn’t going to happen this time. As President George W. Bush once said, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

While Ken was doing all this, my chat with Verizon Wireless CS on Twitter was ongoing. The text of the entire chat appears below. In the end, one of the Twitter customer service representatives, TAB, said that a credit would be applied to my account in 24 to 48 hours. When I asked for a phone number to call if this didn’t happen, another rep (RD) jumped in to say that the credit had been applied immediately.

I did as RD suggested and called #BAL and found the $1,224 credit issued. Which raises the question: Why did it take 2 months from the time they received the phones (mid-May), and 6 weeks from my first phone call (May 30), and 5 different phone calls plus a chat (plus two contested charges with American Express) totaling over 5 hours of my time invested to get the money back from Verizon that was due to me?

And what compensation do I get from Verizon for all of the time, energy, and worry involved in trying to get this resolved? Nothing, as RD makes clear in his final Twitter chat message to me.

And humorously enough, when RD closes our chat, an automated message pops up from Verizon asking “How are we doing?” Well, if you’ve read to this point, you know the answer: You are doing terrible. And you have lost a good customer of longstanding.




Pilgrimages to Japanese-American World War II Internment Camps and Isolation Centers

This page collects all of my previous posts about the interment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and provides a home for my (hopefully) growing list of pilgrimages to the sites of internment camps and isolation centers.

Previous Posts


Pilgrimages to Sites

Recently, I have made an effort to visit the sites of the internment camps and isolation centers when the opportunities present themselves. As of July 2017, I have visited one camp and two isolation centers, which are linked below.


Internment Camps

Gila River War Relocation Center, Arizona

Granada War Relocation Center, Colorado (AKA “Amache”)

Heart Mountain War Relocation Center, Wyoming

Jerome War Relocation Center, Arkansas

Manzanar War Relocation Center, California

Minidoka War Relocation Center, Idaho

Poston War Relocation Center, Arizona

Rohwer War Relocation Center, Arkansas

Topaz War Relocation Center, Utah

Tule Lake War Relocation Center, California


Citizen Isolation Centers (for those considered to be problem inmates)

Moab, Utah (AKA Dalton Wells)

Leupp, Arizona (see directions to the site here)

Fort Stanton, New Mexico (AKA Old Raton Ranch)


Justice Department Detention Camps (housed Nikkei considered to be disruptive or of special interest to the government)

Crystal City, Texas

Fort Lincoln Internment Camp

Fort Missoula, Montana

Fort Stanton, New Mexico

Kenedy, Texas

Kooskia, Idaho

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Seagoville, Texas

Forest Park, Georgia



Directions to Leupp Isolation Center (World War II Japanese-American Detention) Site

As noted in my previous post, there is no official historical marker for the Leupp Isolation Center for Japanese-American detainees during World War II. Nor is the location marked on Google Maps (though I submitted a request that Google add a marker).

For anyone wanting to go see the site, here are the directions I used. Please be mindful that a family does currently live in the Superintendent’s House and locals do use the roads.

The site is in the area known as Old Leupp, which lies southeast of the current town of Leupp. I began at the gas station (Pic-N-Run) at the center of Leupp and proceeded as follows (3.6 miles total):

  1. From the gas station in the new town of Leupp, travel east on Indian Route 15/Leupp Road for 1.9 miles to Old Leupp Road
  2. Turn right (South) on Old Leupp Road
  3. Continue 1.7 miles on Old Leupp Road past Indian Road 6933 to arrive at the old Superintendents House (on map above).

Indian Route 15/Leupp Road is a paved highway, but Old Leupp Road is a graded dirt road with lots of washboarding, so take your time.

Old Leupp Road toward Leupp Isolation Center site, July 1, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

The best way to orient yourself is using the Superintendent’s House and the Presbyterian Church. They are easy to find if you match up this Google Map satellite image of the area with the drawing of the site provided below:

Drawing of site from online book Confinement and Ethnicity: