Monthly Archives: March 2002
I’ve been watching the bank’s credit card site closely, and no other fraudulent charges have shown up, but their reporting runs a couple of days behind, so I’m not totally out of the woods yet.
The good news is that my new temporary card arrived quickly and appears to work (at least the pump at two different gas stations accepted it), so I’m not facing a weekend without E-Z Credit.
Speaking of E-Z Credit, Commander Dave points out in the discussion group that having a fraud alert on one’s records can make it hard to take advantage of special financing deals (like the ones department stores love to run: open an account today and take 10% off everything you buy). That’s true, but right now, I’d rather feel safer.
I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend; the taxes are done and there’s no religious school on Sunday because of Passover (unfortunately, I can’t go to the YMCA and work out on Sunday, either, though it’s not due to Passover). I have uttered a mighty oath that I will clean up the junk on the dining room table this weekend so that it can be used again, and also that I will replace the under-the-sink water filter; I am sure I’ll utter some mighty oaths in the process, too.
I happened to mention my problems to my boss when I talked to him later on, and he suggested I call the credit bureaus to have a fraud alert put on my records. That’s not something I would have thought of, so I’m glad he suggested it. The process might be easier during the business day when there are people available to help, but it works at night, too — differently at each of the credit bureaus.
- Experian pointed to their “Fraud Center” right from their home page and let me add the fraud alert online. Quick and easy.
- Equifax buried the information on how to add a fraud alert deep in the site (they are really interested in selling you your credit report, though!); I couldn’t do it online, but their toll-free number (800-525-6285) was fairly easy to deal with.
- Trans Union had an easy link to tips to protect yourself from credit fraud right on their home page, but it wasn’t quite so easy to figure out how to get a fraud alert added (the answer: call 800-680-7289). Their automated system was a lot more painful to use than Equifax’s, but I think I got the job done.
So now I gotta find everyone who has my credit card on file and give them the new credit card number. If that’s the most trouble I have from this, I’ll be very happy. Not as happy as if I didn’t have to do it at all, but such is life.
I’m breaking in a new pair of glasses today — these are official “computer glasses”, designed to help me focus at the distance between the screen and my eyes. So far, I’m none too sure I like ‘em — everything is sharp on the screen, but suddenly, my flat-screen monitor appears to be curved. Even my ThinkPad LCD display appears to be curved!
We’ve got a busy weekend planned; tonight, we go to shul for Friday Night Live, tomorrow it’s back to shul for Torah Study with the Rabbi (who’s back from Israel) and then Las Meninas at San Jose Rep and then a Games Night to prep for CultureQuest next month. And on Sunday, I’ll probably finish doing our taxes in between other activities.
Maybe next week at work will be more restful.
Today, I got a response, along with a $10 gift certificate. In the interests of fairness, I’m quoting their letter.
Dear Mr. Singer:
Thank you for bringing to our attention your concerns regarding the lack of customer service you received in our Los Gatos, CA store.
Please accept our apologies. We always enjoy hearing from our customers, especially when they offer us the opportunity to correct a problem situation and regain customer satisfaction. We hope this incident does not discourage you from shopping with us. For your next visit we have enclosed a Staples Gift Certificate to use toward your purchase.
We appreciate that you shop at Staples and look forward to serving you again.
Customer Relations Specialist
The nearest Staples is now significantly less convenient than Office Depot, so I doubt I’ll do much shopping there, but I do need paper, and it’s hard to imagine that they could screw that up, so I’ll probably redeem the gift certificate. I guess.
At any rate, thinking about leasing the TiVo service made me wonder if anyone still leased telephones, and, after a bit of research, I found the AT&T Consumer Leasing Service page, where, as an example, they’ll lease you a basic cordless phone, the 9105, for a mere $19.95/month. Of course, you can buy the same phone outright for $29.95. I wonder just how many phones AT&T leases these days.
The weather yesterday was lousy — wet and cold (in fact, it was the coldest March 17th ever in several locations in the area). So it was a perfect day to sit in front of a hot computer and do taxes.
Tonight, Jeffrey and I go to another Sharks game, this time with the Shir Hadash Men’s Club.
And I just found out that BattleBots 5.0 is coming to Treasure Island the last weekend in May!
And so a day after writing that I get optical effects but no headaches, I got a headache (though it didn’t match the classical description of a migraine headache). Oh, well. Maybe I should write that I don’t win the Lottery and see if that turns out false, too!
It’s been a busy, but mostly unpublishable week. I did finally get around to making an appointment for a physical — which the doctor’s office conveniently scheduled for June (good thing I’m not in any hurry!), and to calling the Saab dealer to schedule an oil change and display replacement (which they can do on Monday — I expected them to schedule me into June!). And I registered for WWW2002 (I have to be there, I’m a track co-chair) just in time to beat the Early Bird deadline and got a decent price on my flights and an upgrade (there goes another 30,000 miles…better than spending money, though).
I’m having problems with upstreaming with Radio Userland; it looks like Norton Personal Firewall gets in the way, but not all of the time. *sigh* If I can ever get that fixed, I’ll probably move my activity to Radio Defenestration Corner, since EditThisPage isn’t always up when I want to write.
Book of the Day
It’s been a long time since I’ve written about the books I’m reading; I want to get back into the habit. Today’s book is War for the Oaks by Emma Bull. It’s a fantasy, set in and around Minneapolis, about what happens when reality and Faerie collide. I’m about halfway through the book, and it’s excellent — I had to tear myself away from it last night to go to bed, and I grabbed it again early this morning to continue; I hope to finish it tonight. I’m somewhat amazed that I like the book, because I usually don’t like fantasy, other than comic fantasy like the Discworld series — but it’s wonderfully written and evocative. Strongly recommended.
On July 26, 2000, I announced the official availability of the IBM Weblog server. But for some reason, weblogs never took off inside IBM, and I had better things to do with the machine hosting them, so I
turned off the server last Friday. It was a noble experiment, if not overwhelmingly successful.
Book? What book?
While I was looking through the archives of this weblog to figure out when I started the weblog server, I reread the pages I wrote about the fourth Harry Potter book. And that made me wonder if there was any news about the fifth Harry Potter book, so I thought I’d check the http://www.harrypotter.com site.
Silly me. Once upon a time, that site was about the books, but now it’s an immediate redirect to the Warner Brothers site about the Harry Potter movie, complete with a countdown till the North American video release. As far as I can tell, there’s not a single word about the book on the site (except on the discussion groups). And why should there be? Warner Brothers doesn’t own the book! And, more to the point, Warner Brothers doesn’t make money from the book!
http://www.jkrowling.com works better, giving pointers to the publishers’ sites all around the world, and when I looked on the Bloomsbury Publishing site (the British publisher), I found that they’re still hoping for July, 2002
for the fifth book.
I’m ready when they are.
The Sharks game was fun, though I wish I knew hockey better — Jeffrey and I will be going again next week with the Shir Hadash Men’s Club. And if time permits, I’m going to try to listen to next week’s RPI games on WRPI.
A new record!
I just checked my work e-mail account; there were 51 new messages waiting for me. 43 were clearly spam just from the subject line (more than half of those were in an Asian character set!) — unless, of course, the IRS is really trying to get in touch with me by e-mail. Of the other 8 messages, one was a (funny) joke from my Mom, one was a bogus and content-free virus warning, one was from a mailing list which I actually subscribe to, and the other four were generated by various automated processes inside IBM.
I remember when e-mail was the killer app. Now, it’s more of a time-killing app.
I stayed home today to be able to attend a funeral, about which
more anon. But while I was home, I had the chance to chat via instant messaging with a colleague in Israel — we started out talking about business issues, but then I asked her how the situation there was affecting her. I was hoping to hear that the news media was exaggerating the situation, but here’s how our conversation went.
her: wanna hear more about how it is in Israel?
me: Yes. I think.
me: All I know is what I read on the JPost’s web site.
her: well… in general, I sort of gave up on listening to the news – I mean many months ago, I stopped. it seems so hopeless. Even though I know for democracy it is important to “know”, it feels that there’s absolutely nothing we can so anymore, not even during elections – they’re all the same….
me: Have you changed your daily routine?
me: Other than not listening to the news, anyway.
her: however, in the last few days, there’s a war feeling here, and so even I (and I’m not the only one) cling to the news
her: well, we definitely avoid going into crowd places, like malls and such
her: we avoid going to Tel-Aviv if we don’t have to
her: we ourselves don’t have much to do in Jerusalem, but people avoid that too
her: and we’re all pretty terrified – I mean people in military reserve, for instance, are used to getting posts to watch, where they can actually take it easy, and so often they are not fully trained for defending themselves (or don’t remember anymore) and suddenly, they’re out there in the open, being shot at, dying everyday…
me: That sounds horrible.
me: It sounds as bad as the JPost makes it seem.
her: well, yes, I guess with the numbers of people dying, and the way they do – helplessly, in situations that seem avoidable – is terrible indeed
me: I was thinking also of the way you have had to restrict yourself to try to avoid being one of the victims.
her: as for the changes in our lives – we hope that’s temporary… but the effect on our way of thinking is more permanent, learning to be less sensitive to survive
me: I can’t imagine what this must be doing to you all.
her: I think I’ll log off soon
her: the news are on….
me: OK. Shabbat Shalom (I hope).
her: :-) bye
A Funeral With an Intermission
A friend’s mother had died while on an Elderhostel trip in San Francisco (she was chatting one moment, and gone the next), and the funeral was this afternoon. It started out as a typical Jewish funeral — the pall-bearers (including me) carried the casket to the graveside, where the family and friends gathered for a short service and eulogy.
Then the funeral director spoke, telling us that they did not yet have clearance to actually bury the body but still had to wait for a fax from the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office, which was closed for lunch. So we all milled around and talked for a half-hour until the fax arrived; then the casket was lowered and we took turns shovelling in dirt until the casket was covered. Then we recited the Mourner’s Kaddish and formed two lines for the family to walk between, and that was that.
While we were waiting, I asked the Rabbi how often this happened — he said that this was the second time he’d it happen to him. And the funeral director said that it never happened when dealing with the local authorities — but San Francisco was a different story.
It’s always something, as Gilda Radner once said.