Friday, March 30, 2007

Moving on

Ah, no blogging for awhile: we've been moving our little store over by the Wax Museum. It's worse than changing houses, I'd no idea so much stuff had settled onto the shelves.

On the plus side, mindless labor gives you plenty of time to think, and I've been noticing two approaches to the minimum wage tsunami warning. One group seems to be wringing its hands and wailing and... that's it. On the other hand, other businesses seem more proactive; I see a huge amount of painting and general tidying-up. Hmm, any bets on who has the best odds of surviving? Most textbooks could give you a clue, it's generally agreed that you deal with challenges by being aggressive. Things like promotions, advertising, employee training or even sloshing a coat of paint over everything.

And I'm waiting for the visitor numbers; there really do seem to be a lot of tourists on the streets.

Circus Minimus Just checked one of my newsfeeds, and Washington is as screwy as ever.
This story claims that the minimum wage was folded into the Iraq funding bill so the House and Senate could work out their differences on tax breaks.

According to the story, Congressman Rahm Emanuel says Memorial Day could be considered a deadline because "It's a promise to the American people and we're going to get that done." I get all tingly when they get noble like that.

No respect The Marianas Variety's
breaking news about a "Covenant consultant" is a little disappointing. Since they're talking about the old National Group contract they must mean our pal William Oldaker. Deja View all over again: I blogged about that three weeks ago.

I did have a nagging thought that the name was familiar so I looked up the CNMI's old lobbying and sure enough Oldaker consulted on
"Minimum Wage Legislation" in 2002 while affiliated with the National Group. This is a good opportunity to share that link.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Al dente

Just a greeting to my incantevole visitor from Parasacco. I noticed you dropped by again and thanks for the kind words. I'm sure the Blogger and the Writer would say the same thing.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Scurrilous rumor

Scurrilous? I think so. A Carolinian friend came in tonight and claimed the Carolinian Utt in Garapan was being sold to Japanese investors. He said it was in the newspaper. Well, I try to follow the news and told him it hadn't popped up yet. So he said it was going to be in the newspaper, but Carolinians had already been warned that it's coming.

He proceeded to go off on the Governor and the Tan family, which is developing a piece of property south of the Utt (I don't know the purpose of the development, or even the ownership definitely, other than that at one time it was their theater and then their barracks.)

Several things come to mind immediately. The main one being that the Covenants are trying to split the Republicans and they're both trying to split the Democrats and everybody wants to split any other party that might pop up this time. It goes without saying that the Covenant Party is a target also. So it's just a rumor.

Of course, the principle reason it's likely to be folderol is that there are only a few ways for a Carolinian Governor to alienate his base, and that's probably number one.

And again, the Constitution states that MPLC (or whatever it's called this year) "may prohibit the erection of any permanent structure, in public lands located within one hundred fifty feet of the high water mark of a sandy beach, except that the corporation may authorize construction of facilities for public purposes." So the property is too narrow, except for those squiggle words: "may" and "public purposes". There's a lot of room there; just look at any existing hotel. Tennis Court? No problem. Swimming Pool? Public porpoise. A bar? Not permanent.

Just by luck, my next customer worked at Public Lands, and he told me he had certainly heard nothing about any such deal. Probably just a rumor, we agreed.

And yet... that's what makes rumors so attractive. It's prime real estate and there aren't any new beaches being built. Nah, that's just too hard to believe; I'm glad I never listen to rumors.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Down in the dump

Once I started thinking about Saipan's old Puerto Rico dump, the memories kept coming back. Imagine being nostalgic about that blemish. On the lagoon, of course, with a great view of the hotels. I had a great telephoto picture of the Hyatt and a smouldering pile of something, it would be featured here if I hadn't had an unfortunate habit of storing my negatives with my photos...under a tin roof.

Dropping your own trash was risky at best; there should have been a tire repair shop at the entrance. Nails, glass, ragged ends of rebar all sticking out of the 'roads' that bulldozers ploughed on top of the 'covered' garbage.

The poor Public Works guys were always asking for hazardous pay, with good reason. The flies, the stench, the occasional fires. Some claimed they were set on purpose so there was less garbage to cover. It was even more hazardous for 'can pickers': one man had his head taken off by a shell. Scavengers were promptly banned, for their own safety. That lasted for about a month, I believe.

Those fires. Quite attractive actually, if you were on a dinner cruise. All of the tourists would crowd the rails, pointing and chattering. That's where I first announced Mt. Puerto Rico's eruptions.

The inevitable 'why that's a perfectly good' guys who came in with a full pickup and left with it half-full. The dump was almost invisible from the road, behind a stately line of tangan-tangan. Until the garment industry came in big time, that is. There was actually some benefit from that, because the reeking pile grew so large it could no longer be treated like an embarrassing relative and the new dump had to be developed.

Hidden treasures But most of all, I remember the incredible folk tales connected with the dump. One man maintained there was another atomic bomb and since it wasn't needed it just got buried. He claimed to have proof, just not with him.

An entrepreneur bragged about documents showing at least 100 tanks were buried there, waiting to be salvaged. Of course he couldn't show them to just anyone, only his trusted investors.

And, since we're in the Twiflight Zone, the inevitable assurance that Amelia Earhart's plane was at the bottom. There actually have been allegations that a white couple was held at the Japanese Jail at about that time. I tried to track the rumors for several years as a hobby. It was always a friend of a friend or an auntie, and Tun Maria would say 'oh, yes, I heard about it from a friend's cousin'.

This should not be confused with the man who claimed to have found an Electra while diving off of Saipan. Now, he couldn't give assurances that it was her plane, but with more resources, he could...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

En Vog

Well, that's the group I think the Arts Council should bring in if this vog (volcanic-plus-Asian smog) keeps up.

This time it's
Southeast Asia, I guess. I thought I'd read about Drought, caused by little rainfall during the dry season.*

It makes me snarly. I got a headache last night and was circling the building to see which neighbor was burning. Just being safe. A whiff of that old latrine smell on the second trip outside and I knew it was Anatahan. (I don't want to hear about sulfurous emissions from the legislature)

Actually, our neighbor to the north isn't that bad. Maybe you've already forgotten about the periodic eruptions of Mt. Puerto Rico** we used to endure. Now that was nasty, especially when the foul-smelling plume chased squadrons of flies toward the Garapan hotels. It did have the makings of a grade-b horror movie.

Not so good for the tourists, though my business did fine, thank you. By the luck of the draw, our old bar was just outside of the stanky area so the happy hour crowd was huge... and they all had stories to tell.

It's actually nice outside now, but I'm not fooled. I still have that headache and my voice is something like a voghorn. The NWS says one more day.

* If you're paying attention, I cheated. Couldn't find the story about farmers burning forests to prepare for rainy season, so I pulled this one out of an old shoebox of bookmarks.
** For our off-island friends, the WWII era dump which has since been closed was located in Puerto Rico.

Minimum wage (the remix)

From their website: "Today the House Appropriations Committee approved the Emergency Wartime Supplemental. Floor consideration is expected next week."

That's beltway-speak for a closed 'mark-up session' on

I have no clue how this will play in Washington. Evidently the bill includes extra funding for Iraq and Afghanistan but adds a shopping/wish list of Democratic proposals. So it's needed, but another title could be 'How many ways can we piss off the President?'

Tucked way in the bottom, under "OTHER ITEMS" is this:
Minimum Wage: Includes the increase to the minimum wage and related small business tax cuts passed by the House earlier this year.

It looks like we've all got the weekend plus the time difference to figure out what that means.

A few hours later... Radio New Zealand International is reporting that the new legislation
includes American Samoa. That can't be good for the chances of a wage board here.

Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin reportedly says "the House Committee on Education and Labor and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, or HELP, still have control, or jurisdiction, over the minimum wage portion of the Emergency Supplemental Bill."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tailor-made cut

What took you so long? As expected, both houses of the Legislature now agree on cutting the garment user fee. The analysis of the cut's effect will be released any day now, it's probably in the Committee Report.

Meanwhile "The downsizing of the garment industry employees and the closure of numerous garment factories have impacted a large number of nonresident workers and some local resident workers." I'm glad we got that straight.

Not to worry, it's just temporary: "The bill would be effective until Headnote 3(a) of the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule is amended by the U.S. Congress." Or until the cows come home, whichever comes first.

Passport please It's not just a Saipan problem, the State Department is being
swamped with passport requests. They say they are getting more than a million per month.

Tarred with the same baby OK, nothing much to do with Saipan, but exactly how is the term 'tar baby'
considered by some a racial epithet? It's a cute Uncle Remus story, told in what is purported to be a nineteenth-century dialect (the experts would have to weigh in on whether that's true, I couldn't find any examples on You Tube). Very useful for describing a bad situation that keeps getting worse and people immediately know what you're saying.

For me it's Iraq, for McCain it was federal involvement in custody cases. This is just a character in a story. If you want to chew on McCain call him a weathervane, start swift-boating him like some wackos in his own party or just (gasp) concentrate on the issues.

Bananas taste like blood That was the title of a flyer that was stuffed into my hand almost forty years ago. Nothing special, I always felt like Robert Stack fighting his way past the panhandlers in the movie Airplane when I tried to get a cup of coffee at the Student Union. Most of the "literature" was forgotten by the time I finished reading it, but that one stuck in my mind. It was about
The United Fruit Company in Guatemala.

I'm glad to say they've changed their ways. Now Chiquita (nee United Fruit) isn't just on the side of oppressive governments, evidently they can work with
thugs of all political persuasions. Here's Chiquita's side of the story.

Wet pet food recall The Food and Drug Administration monitors pet food? It just never occurred to me, until
this story popped up. Now that's a wealthy country. I always talk about dry food, but never really thought about what to call the stuff in the can. Still, I refuse to have a 'wet food' section in my store.

Menu Foods website was down when I tried to check, but
The company said it manufacturers for 17 of the top 20 North American retailers. It is also a contract manufacturer for the top branded pet food companies, including Procter & Gamble Co.

P&G announced Friday the recall of specific 3 oz., 5.5 oz., 6 oz. and 13.2 oz. canned and 3 oz. and 5.3 oz. foil pouch cat and dog wet food products made by Menu Foods but sold under the Iams and Eukanuba brands. The recalled products bear the code dates of 6339 through 7073 followed by the plant code 4197, P&G said.

Burned Meat flavored biscuits are available, though. The saleslady says it's barbecue, but something got changed in the translation from Chinese. Actually, they're pretty tasty, and strangely familiar.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Going south

The recent news out of Guam makes Governor Fitial look pretty good. Politicians down south are running around in circles like Guam Rails released from a cage after Standard and Poor's put them on a credit watch list.

Now the latest: according to the
Marianas Variety, without an amended budget 2,222 employees must be furloughed by April 1. (Don't you wish they could have picked a better day.) Oh, and a thirty-four million dollar line of credit will still be needed, the proposed borrowing that set off S&P to begin with.

Maybe they borrowed the idea: Governor Fitial had to threaten to
furlough government employees to get any results. And now, asking for more cuts during an election year is a bigger test. Some legislators just can't pay attention when they've got visions of skateparks and renamed streets dancing in their heads.

Still, Guam facing the same problems adds some perspective to the view from Saipan, and the administration comes off pretty well by comparison.

The furlough story in the
Pacific Daily News is also good. I particularly like the 'Storychat' feature following the article. All those comments look pretty familiar, don't they? Just read them this week before they go into the vending-machine (archive).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A tale of whoa

There's a tale I used to tell. A friend came in one day, shaking his head. He'd just bought zoris and, after thinking about how things run out on Saipan, went back for another pair. The store was out, of course, and the sales clerk told him they probably wouldn't reorder because they couldn't keep the shelves stocked.

I recently saw the story on the Saipan sucks website.*

Now, I repeated the anecdote, a lot, because of what it said about human nature. What struck me was that it was now being used as a putdown of the entire island. It's been a lot of years, but I don't think the clerk was even local. Doesn't matter anyway, the joke was never ethnic to me.

I don't think the staunchest defender will deny that the Commonwealth has serious problems. There are a lot of disagreements about what they are, how to fix them and even about who can fix them.

It's obvious that whoever runs that site had horrible, even life-changing, experiences here. I check it once or twice a year to see what's new. It's articulate, well-written and scores some points. But overall, it's just a black hole of negativity. No suggestions, except to write the place off.

I used to drive a horrible beater that gave me constant problems. On two different occasions people went out of their way to get me back on the road, once in the middle of the night halfway up Capitol Hill. They both had reputations as haole-haters. Hate's a bit strong, but yeah. That's the Saipan I know. (I even thought about voting for them when they later ran for office)

This story kick got started because I was enjoying
The relationship between moral health & a blind wife over at From a stray comment, I suspect the Lone Arranger and sidekick Roboto put him up to blogging.

* I'll mention them, but no live link. My troth is pledged to
We Love Saipan.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Toys R U

Coming Soon! Special Industry Wage Board inaction figures*. Now being molded in a country near you. These authentic toys feature our patented Talking Head technology with individualized Talking Points. Get the complete set including:

Hardline Harry, a self-certified pundit, not to be confused with;
Free Lunch Larry representing Non-Governmental Organizations;
Boring Bureaucrat;
Barely Bureaucrat, his twin and just-as-qualified brother;
A Political Posturer;

Percival Carpe ('Per') Diem, Department of Interior;
Petri Dish, representing the Garment Industry (fabulous in lustrous spandex);
The Lambasting Liberal, representing;
The Compassionate Conservative, emeritus member;
The Industry Illusionist; and
Hiram Redstate ('Hi Red') Gunn, Jr., the economist.

WARNING: Electrical shlock hazard from vocal units, do not expose to direct sunlight, choking hazard for industries less than three years old.

* Some assembly on Saipan required, Five Star playhouse sold separately. Batteries must be chargeable.

Long Shell Life

Now this is a company that needs a new PR firm. ConAgra is now recalling Peter Pan peanut butter going back to 2004.

If you don't, ahem, recall the history, first it was Peter Pan going back to December 2005, then it was other products using the peanut butter. Is the Food and Drug Administration going to force them to do another recall next week?

Friday, March 9, 2007

Let's call the whole thing off

We Manage Calls may be in trouble before it starts, according to the Marianas Variety.

The newspaper quotes part-owner Erick Van Der Moss as saying "We can only afford a $4.5 to $5.5 per hour rate at the call center and beyond that number, the decision will have to be made by my partner in the U.S. as 90 percent of our clientele are from there."

I'd like to say I told you so, but I never finished that blog. Just another case of trying to compete with low wage labor overseas. How did that go the last time it was tried in Saipan? Sounds like a job for Captain Wage Review Board.

Or not. Here's
Call Center Magazine in 2002:
"That Puerto Rico is part of the US is a major contributing factor in companies considering it since 9/11," says John Boyd, site selection consultant with the Boyd Company.

Puerto Rico's minimum wage is the same as in the US: $5.15/hour. That's more than Mexico's $3.50/hour, but less than the reported $7/hour in US border towns, such as Laredo, TX.

Proponents say that more agents are willing to work at levels closer to the minimum in Puerto Rico - $6 per hour for customer service agents - than in the rest of the US. Puerto Ricans do not pay income tax; so they keep more of their earnings.

That was five years ago, things may change dramatically in that time. Yep, they have, says the Arizona Republic in an excellent article:
But with the Valley's 3 percent unemployment rate, a growing number of centers are offering record starting wages, robust benefits and perks in a desperate bid to find and keep qualified workers.

As a result, small and midsized operations, especially those refusing to pay more than the $10.71 per hour industry average, could be forced to drastically downsize or shut their doors.

Firms hoping to set up shop in metropolitan Phoenix and pay $8 to $9 per hour likely cannot compete for labor and may consider locating elsewhere, said James Trobaugh, senior vice president of CB Richard Ellis' Call Center Solutions Group.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Deja View

Somebody was asking about Saipan's new lobbyist. Before you flagellate me in your comments, I know I said 'Saipan' instead of 'The CNMI'.

So the winner was William Oldaker. Who? Well, we only stalled the feds with all of those Republican lobbyists. In fact it just made the Democrats mad. So the obvious fix is to
find a Democrat.

Not just any Democrat either. How about a former Treasurer for Edward Kennedy, Joseph Biden Jr. and Harry Reid, to name a few. Partner R. Hunter Biden, Senator Joe's son, doesn't hurt either.

Obviously plan b is the flip side of Jack Abramoff, et al ( Actually, he kind of knew Jack.) Who knows? It might work; those Senate staffers were sure waffling as they jetted out of town. More studies? Why not?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Papa Doo Run Run

I see the House of Representatives is looking into runoff elections for Governor. Nobody worried too much when the winning candidate got forty-some percent, but a lot of people got upset about the 2005 election.

So, how about an
instant runoff if there are more than two candidates? This site is just an overview, but there's a lot of information out there. It would save the expense of another election. The downside, or upside if you're that type, is that people could write in NO and still have a vote in the second round. Don't want to embarrass anyone, do we?

Where can I get a copy? That Pandemic Influenza
Table Top Game looks intriguing. I've always thought learning should be fun.

As long as you don't
get carried away: "The Traditional Medicine Conference aimed to strengthen, promote, and preserve traditional medicine knowledge; and to advocate protection of herbal plants, especially those that are near extinction through education..." I'm teasing, I've always thought traditional medicine should be preserved, American Indians using salicylic acid and all of that. Almost 300 participants they said. I believe it, there were almost that many in the credits at the end of the story.

Hours of fun I've already got a new toy, though. I call it Degrees of Separation. You just find your
favorite subject, and find out which lobbyist was in favor for the year of your choice. It's addictive. Most people can't help looking at the other clients of that lobbyist, who they lobbied and the members of the firm. It's a great family game, my 11 year-old was fascinated once I showed him what I was doing.


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Foreboden Island

Wasn't that a nice Forbidden Island photo in the Monday Saipan Tribune? I'd call and ask to use it, but I doubt if Jacqueline Hernandez or the Editor is in the office at four a.m. Check out HIDDEN AND FORBIDDEN in their Fotogalleria.

It looked better on paper. I'm usually pretty impressed by the Tribune's layout, even though I've never really gone for USA Today-type front pages. All of those colored boxes and other graphics are too busy and confusing for my taste, especially crowded onto a tabloid. But the Editor knows how to use good pictures and Hernandez delivers them pretty consistently. That's not as easy as it seems.

Haven't been down there in years, I never seem to have the energy or time. Oh well, maybe when the monorail is put in.

Of course, no monorail will ever function for more than a month, unless they can construct it without copper wire. Before copper was the fad, the boys used to round up stray dogs for beer money. I don't want to name the Korean businesses, because they've stopped buying. I think. Not to single out Koreans, dogs are meat on the hoof throughout Micronesia and Asia.

I was circling my bar about ten years ago, monitoring the guys finishing their road beers. One of my employees had a puppy tied up on the second floor yapping wildly. "What's its name?" a man called out. "Lunch," I replied, knowing it was going to be guest of honor at a christening.

My Bangladeshi neighbor just got a phone call. His ring tone is "The Can-can". I hope he turns it off when he goes to morning prayers. That would be too much of a culture clash.

That's better than a few months ago, when a couple of guys were waiting for the shower. They were just part of the background, like the birds, dogs and kids in the neighborhood. After all, I couldn't understand a word they were saying. They weren't really there, until one of them said "jihad" and and they both laughed.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Peter Pan take off

That peanut butter recall is spreading. "In a new media advisory released Friday evening, DPH said it was found that Peter Pan peanut butter was used in various ice cream, sundae, and shake toppings", according to the Saipan Tribune. Here's the FDA

I hope the recall is smooth this time. DPH had to
go to the wholesaler last time, and kudos for doing that. But didn't the wholesaler read the newspaper stories? Didn't the manufacturer or their distributor notify them? I thought that was standard practice. Oh.

Actually, you'd think the stores should already know. Maybe DPH could issue the advisory in multiple languages next time...

I was concerned to read that "Peter Pan peanut butter will no longer be found on the shelves of stores on island." All of it, not just the '2111' batch? Maybe the reporter didn't make it clear.

I'd hate to think of the panic in the streets if there was a recall of Spam or Budweiser.

Sorry if this post is rushed, I have to beat the line as Shell raises prices up to 8 cents/gallon.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Now we can talk

Those pesky Washington folks are gone, so the spinmeisters can get back to business as usual.

Govt, biz sector united on immigration issue(Saipan Tribune), for instance. Sed who? Said the SEDC*, I think. It's co-chairpersons are the only sources quoted in the Front Page article press release, but the only attribution is a teeny PR at the very bottom of the jump page.

"In a meeting with the Strategic Economic Development Council Tuesday, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial agreed with the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, and other business organizations to develop a joint position that will press for continued use of the economic tools provided under the Covenant." Sed who? OK, you get the point.

In case you're just a local or alien worker, don't worry, your concerns are being addressed too. After all, "continued use of the economic tools" couldn't be about anyone else.

Let's flip over to the Marianas Variety and see if we can solve this mystery. Sure enough,
Administration: No to wage, immigration federalization, and this from Press Secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. Helpfully, the Variety also has the same quotes as the Tribune and says they're from a SEDC* statement.

Reyes went on to mention "a fear that local people would be disenfranchised". Wow. How could I have missed that? You mean the feds are planning to take away the vote, or U.S. citizenship? How does enfranchising one group disfranchise another? Maybe he means their vote will be diluted.

That's a troubling idea, and I think the Chamber of Commerce should look into it. After all, it's the Saipan CoC, and foreign investors should pay dues for ten or twenty years before they're allowed to vote. We wouldn't want to disfranchise local businesses.

SEDC, the Strategic Economic Development Council. Everybody knows what it is: a group of local businesspersons, according to the Marianas Variety.

Well, that's not quite right. It's
The Office of the Governor’s Strategic Economic Development Council, according to the Saipan Garment Factory Association, and they really seem insistent about that.

It's obviously important because DUE TO LACK OF QUORUM SNILD cancels session again (Saipan Tribune).

Let's go to the source. A Front Page Press Release printed in the Saipan Tribune, says that
SEDC is comprised of private sector industry leaders and top government officials working toward CNMI economic development. I'm glad we got that cleared up.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

A kilowatt in every pot

Over the years I've written dozens of letters to the Editor and promptly tore them up. I just don't want to get into an Opinion-page war.

Then I saw
Power for the future CNMI (Saipan Tribune) and broke my rule. The letter went something like this:

A kilowatt in every pot (Hoot, Hoot: The Saipan Tribune decided that the headline Privatizing CUC is not such a good idea was better. I still like mine. What do you think?)

I normally find letters to the Editor interesting and provocative. Often I agree with them, but not in the case of privatizing CUC.

I don't think anyone would disagree that "There is already in existence tidal power, wind power, water turbines, wave power and a host of other fuels that can be used to run the motors for the generators." How are we going to pay for these new sources? I don't think the central government has any loose change in its pockets.

Try putting solar panels or a windmill on your roof and you'll get an idea of how expensive these technologies are to install. Sure, they'll save money in the long run, but where's the money coming from now?

Maybe CUC could float a bond. With its finances, the bond rating would be low and the payments enormous. Well, I guess they could just raise rates again so those nasty underwriters could get a return on their investment. That's the problem with businesses, they just don't like to give money away. Why can't everybody be like the U.S. DOE?

Yep, a private company would want to make a return on its investment. It would also want to make money on any capital improvements. The world is just so unfair.

Unfortunately, the energy party is over, and you and I are going to have to pay to catch up. Fortunately, the LIHEAP program is available for low-income households. I don't want you to think I'm against all socialist ideas.

Monopolies always have to be watched; that's why a Public Utilities Commission is needed to monitor rates. I'm just concerned that the PUC would have the same anti-business attitude prevalent throughout the Commonwealth, which a recent letter writer represents so ably. (Well, I'd like to know what the privatization proposal actually says, too.) Any company would have to think twice about risking its money where it's a sin to make a profit.

Then again, maybe Hugo Chavez will give us the money, or send fuel. He likes to tweak Uncle Sam's nose. Heck, he might even help us buy back the telephone system. I miss the days of aboveground wires and four-digit phone numbers.

I could go on, but this is already too long. I'd be happy to chat about it if anyone wants to drop by

PS That's blatant self-promotion, in case you SEO buffs are watching. Let's see if they leave it in

PPS Holani Smith call home. I didn't get a phone call or email to confirm the letter. Sure it was sent from, but it took me less than five minutes to set up that account.