Friday, December 29, 2006 10:36:26 PM
I was awoken early this morning by a phone call from one of my credit card companies. They wanted me to tell them if two recent charges on my card were legitimate or not. One was for $21.86 and the other was for $308.48; One was legitimate, the other wasn't.
I have been working on eliminating my credit card debt. I have a theory that credit card companies are agents of the devil. When you sign up for a credit card, you are in fact signing away your soul. If you some how, against the odds, manage to pay-off your debt before you die, you may get your soul back. When I felt like splurging on some unnecessary but for some unfathomable reason highly desirable item, I would ask myself, "Is it worth your soul to own this widget?" Frequently, because I have horribly self indulgent tendencies and mostly what I want to buy is books, magazines, cookware, and food, the answer was "YES!". Recently the question has morphed into "Will I be embarrassed explaining this purchase to my very frugal husband?" which is in fact a much stronger motivator for me then the whole soul thing.
Anyway, It was very distressing to get this call this morning. It was on a credit card I hardly ever use, which is part of why the security flag was tripped. The $21.86 was an item I had charged the day before and gotten into a bit of a tiff with the customer service rep over because she was a twit. I had thought perhaps the fraud was a bit of retribution on her part for me being less then delightful. I am happy to report that wasn't the case. She doesn't have access to that part of my account information, and I hadn't given it to her on the phone. (No, I didn't confirm this with her, but with the company she works for.)
I am aware that I am very lucky. The fraud was identified on the very first attempt and was stopped before the seller, the credit card company or I suffered a loss. I don't really care about the credit card company, after all they are agents of the devil, but I know how difficult the economy is and some sellers can't afford to have merchandise stolen or the hassle with the credit card companies. As for me, the Uniform Commercial Code would have prevented my loss from exceeding $50. An amount I would have hated to pay, but one that would not cause me long term pain.
This encounter has reminded me that our society is a very open society based on trust. Mail order would not work with out trust. Trust that the customer will pay and trust that the seller will provide the goods. Mail order developed in the 1800's. It took a great deal of faith for a pioneer in some bush-wacked back water to send money to Montgomery Ward or Sear Roebuck and expect to receive an item back. The basic trust that people will do what they say they will do is what enabled our economy to explode to the level it is today. These bottom feeders who illegally use credit cards and other forms of deceit are exploiting the basic decency of the average person. They think they are clever and are getting away with something the average person can't understand. The thing is, there are easier ways to make money, and fraud just doesn't pay all that well. Especially when you are caught and have to do time. I knew a guy who was a bank robber. He said that when he averaged out the time he spent in prison against the loot he stole, it worked out to less the $0.35 an hour.
This whole episode hasn't made me very angry, after all I didn't lose anything, but it has made me sad. In the Middle Ages, what the thief did would have been called an accident of the soul. Without realizing it he has stained his soul and diminished himself in a way which he can't understand. His taint eats away at him, the people who have to work the fraud department at the credit card companies, the sellers who have to suffer the loss, and the credit card holders who have to deal with the aftermath of police reports, affidavits, credit report problems, and a lingering fear that someone may try to damage them this way again. And for what? $308.48 worth of video games.
Monday, August 21, 2006 2:45:20 PM
My Husband and I saw the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" about a month or so go. It was a really good movie, and everyone should see it. When we left the theater we discussed ways we could be more energy efficient and more environmentally conscious. The dark message of impending global environmental disaster was looming large.
Last week I read an article called “Spike Lee: The Angriest Auteur” in which he speaks about many things, including his upcoming documentary about a post-Katrina New Orleans. My Husband and I visited New Orleans twice back in 2000. It may be years before New Orleans is someplace that I will be willing to travel to again. That got me thinking about the impending global demise of a number of cool places I have always wanted to see. If Al Gore is correct, which I think he is, the clock is ticking on a number of places worth visiting.
I have 4 weeks vacation every year, how should I spend them…?
I’m thinking an Alaska cruise next summer to see the glaciers before the melt. I’m also thinking Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Hawaii, Greece, Iceland…
If the glaciers on Greenland melt, it may be thousands of years before these places are going to be fit for tourists again. I don’t have that kind of time.
If anyone has any suggestions on places to go and things to see before the world melts, I’d be happy to hear them.
Monday, August 21, 2006 1:48:23 AM
The makers of Cialis, an erectile dysfunction medication, have been running a lot of ads lately.
One of the things displayed in the commercial is the product's generic name "tadalafil". I can't help but notice the generic name starts with TA-DA! Way back when I was a school girl taking spelling and learning the roots of words I might have known the origin of "tadalafil" but I am much older now and have not thought about such things in a long time. Unfortunately, growing older has not brought a correspoding level of maturity...
When I see the commercials for Cailis, I keep expecting to see some guy walk into his partner's bedroom, turn his back to the camera, open his robe and yell "TA-DA" (brought to you by the makers of Cialis.) Of course this is not how the commercial goes, but this does not seem to stop me from yelling "TA-DA!" at the screen followed by a fit of giggles.
Saturday, July 22, 2006 1:01:49 AM
I have a company laptop.
I'm not supposed to install programs onto it, but I figure if the company is going to send me off to some godforsaken smelly city the least they can do is let me play a few games in the hotel room after hours.
One of the programs that I had installed was Mozilla
. It was one of the beta's and I don't remember which one. I just know that I could check my personal e-mail, and surf the net to my heart's content and my boyfriend (now husband) was advocating Mozilla's superiority over Microsoft Internet Explorer in every possible way.
If I leave my laptop in the office, I am supposed to leave it connected to the network so they can download updates and whatnot. Well, back around February the IT department went ballistic because one night they did a virus scan and there were 183 questionable files identified as viruses. Every file identified was a mozilla cookie. The twits couldn't tell the difference between a virus and a cookie. The virus scan even had a setting to ignore cookies! They just didn't select it! On top of that, these IT Professionals hadn't even heard of Mozilla!
Their solution was to delete mozilla and all my games files, as well as installing 4 (yes 4) virus scan programs.
My darling sweetie pie was completely on my side when I came home irate and swearing up a storm. His delightful solution was to install Firefox and Thunderbird on my flash drive so that I could have all my happy internet programs and still be compliant with company policy of not installing unapproved programs. (Never mind that its an opensource program that is actually safer to run than Internet Explorer.)
I honestly thought that my expectations for my company's IT department couldn't get any lower.
About a year ago, I had to replace my company laptop. My new laptop an HP somethingorother with bluetooth. The IT guys in my office walk around with their little bluetooth earpieces for their cellphones, yet when I very reasonably request a bluetooth enabled wireless optical mouse (with wheel) it baffled them. They claimed that they had no idea what I was talking about, their vendors didn't know what I was talking about, they didn't think whatever it was existed, and basically that I was some kind of maniac for even asking.
I told them that I was certain that it did exist, as my beloved husband and I had been window shopping them at Microcenter just a couple of weeks ago. This flustered them even more. Their response was to sputter incoherently that maybe I should just go there and buy one myself and expense it.
What kind of an IT department doesn't know what Mozilla and bluetooth are? I'm afraid to mention Opera. Who knows what would happen if I mentioned yet another product superior to Internet Explorer.