Thursday, November 26, 2009

What does it mean when the spambots get you?

I've been getting spam. Only on old posts. But it's annoying. Does this mean I'm popular? Or I've just been around long enough to notice?

We DID close on the house on November 20. Between that and the WORST computer month on record, I've been doing a GREAT job of keeping up here, even though I've got funny stuff to say.

Unfortunately, I'm in the post-Thanksgiving dinner haze. So, seriously? Tomorrow. Or DEFINITELY by Monday!

Monday, November 16, 2009

We're wearing garbage bags and paying a lot for the privilege

Debi to Mike before the start of Blue Man Group

This is actual the show that started the path to broke-ness that I chronicled last week. We were wandering up the strip from Mandalay Bay...yep we walked all the way back to the Venetian from there. And that is a BLOODY. LONG. WAY. Navigating around people. Dodging in to places reported to have penny pressing machines. Dodging the lines of men (and a few women) handing out cards, broadsheets and magazines about where to find nude women who will do anything you want. JEEPERS.

Anyway, as we came upon the half price ticket place, I asked Mike if he wanted to see anything. He said he wouldn't mind seeing Blue Man Group, which actually surprised me. But we got ticket vouchers which we had to exchange for actual tickets at the box office.

I didn't want to pay for the more expensive tickets, so we got tickets in the red zone. It turns out that the red zone has the four front rows and then all the ones behind the good seats. The four front rows are called "The Poncho Seats". The gentleman at the box office assured us it was more of a drizzle than a downpour. Miss BittyCrazy said something to the effect of "HA!" on my Facebook page when I mentioned this. So, we got them.

We arrived and donned our clear plastic bags with hoods. And sat. And waited. And sweated a bit. And laughed our way heartily through the show. And nary a drop assaulted us. Mike didn't know what to expect from the show, but he expected to have some form of liquid aimed at him. The lack of this disappointed him. Had I known, I'd have saved some of my water and spit it at him after. Oh well.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I love Homestreet Bank!

This is a true story. I am not a paid spokesperson for Homestreet Bank (though I'm happy to be if you guys call).

I went into the Wedgwood branch of Homestreet today to get out some cash. I ran into Gina who I mentioned my last post. I asked if she'd gotten my amusing (to me) voice mail about vanquishing the ATM machine. She said yes and asked what I'd written in my blog. Huh? It took me a minute to figure out what she was talking about. Then she paraphrased the line I wrote about her jumping right in.

Turns out that their marketing department must have a web crawler that alerts them to "media" hits, and I guess my post must have hit their radar. Apparently, they contacted Gina to find out if there was a problem that needed to be fixed. It went to the head honcho of marketing, did the hokey pokey and ended up with the president of the bank. SERIOUSLY? What's funny is that only two lines of the entry was quoted and it was something like "Gina said". Not very informative. So she was pretty well in the dark.

Apparently, my humorous writing style of my last post didn't entirely convey that not ONLY did Gina make sure my problem was fixed, she and every person at Homestreet Bank ROCKS! I don't go in that often, but they all know me when I do. I don't have to call a corporate number to get help. I call the branch and they either help me right out or they make the calls and get back to me. I've been pointed to a corporate number once and that was for help on the website that the branch simply couldn't help with.

When I had to go back and get copies of our cleared rent checks for a YEAR? One of the employees probably spent an hour going through screen after screen after screen of check images to find the 6 I needed (I had the latest ones). Then called me back late on a Friday afternoon to say they were done and she'd look out for Mike to come and get them.

I've never had an interaction with them that was less than happy making. So honestly? I can't imagine EVER banking anywhere else, and wish we'd switched more than three years ago. I'll be emailing "whomever" to make sure they know this. Although I'm sure it will show up on their webcrawler by Monday morning.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Broke in Vegas? How cliché!

I mentioned that we went to Vegas. On Sunday, our debit cards started arguing with us. It all started when we were at the half-price ticket place to get tickets for Blue Man Group, which I will write about later. After a weekend of reckless spending, my debit card was declined. Twice. So, I went off to call the bank to leave Mike to try his. Turns out I can't get through to my bank on Sundays. I could have if I'd had a lost or stolen card, but a declined card? Sucks to be me.

All hope was not lost. We had plenty of cash on us to get us through the next day when I could talk to the bank and say "um???". And we have another bank account we could get some out of, but like I said, we had plenty.

We tried it again after lunch, and no problem. No problem for the rest of the day. Then at dinner, the card went through as a gift card and left us with an $18 balance. VERY bizarre.

Well, in Vegas, "plenty" is a relative term. On our way to breakfast, I tried the atm. No joy. I called the toll-free number on the back of my card and was put on perma-hold. I called MY branch of Homestreet Bank and Gina jumped RIGHT in. So, even though I can't talk to anyone on the weekend, the branch makes up for it. She said that we have a $2500/day limit and sometimes Friday, Saturday and Sunday hit all at once and bam! No, we did NOT spend $2500 in Vegas...we did pay for the trip and the hold at the hotel and a couple of things for the house. So, bam!

She said it should clear by 10 a.m., so to try the ATM again after that. We went and had breakfast. (The mini-buffet at the Venetian is AWESOME by the way. There aren't a lot of things, but the things that are there are phenomenal.) We made our way back to the ATM. No joy. Although this time it didn't tell me I had exceeded my daily limit, it just said no.

So, we went to the room and packed up...then we headed down to the packaging center to send a few things home. The card was declined AGAIN. Well, there went the rest of our cash, eh? So, I tried my other debit card for the other bank. The ATM gave me the same message about having exceeded my daily limit, which was amusing given that we hadn't used it in 3 weeks. At this point, I decided that the Venetian ATMs were just friggin' grumpy.

At this point, we'd checked out and I was desperate for my morning fix of Starbucks black iced tea, no water, no sweetener. I have a Starbucks card which is refilled automatically just so I always have the means to feed my addiction. So we're off to Treasure Island across the street. The Venetian/Palazzo complex has no Starbucks. The ONLY thing that gives them less than 5 stars in my book.

But I forgot. Not only does that Starbucks charge $5 for 20 ounces of iced tea (I kid you not), they don't honor Starbucks cards. Luckily, we'd stocked up on quarters for our penny press activities, so we were able to scrape enough together for my fix. I'd also gotten a call back from Gina and she said had called the corporate office and it was just running slow today. She asked me to try it again. So we find an ATM at Treasure Island. SUCCESS!

So, we were sans cash for a few minutes and our ride to the airport was already paid for. Annoying at worst, but so cliché.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thank you, Veterans

I don't wax sentimental around here too often, but this is important to me and I want to share.

I'm an Air Force brat several times over. My grandfather was a retired Major. My Uncle was a Green Beret in Vietnam and served in the reserves for MANY years after he left active duty. My mother, father, step-mother and two step-fathers were military. My husband served and more friends from high school than I could possibly count (though I'll try later).

I am especially grateful to women veterans. My mother and step-mother joined the Air Force in the early 70s. A lot of folks didn't think they had any business being there and it would have been easy not to be. And they stayed. I chose not to join the armed forces. I am grateful that I had both that luxury and that I had women before me that paved the way for those in my generation and after. When we buried my step-mother, it was in a national cemetery with military honors. It made me proud to be her step-daughter.

Those of you unconnected with the service may not realize, but being military family is its own form of service. I had it easier because it wasn't wartime, but my mom was stationed in Korea for a year and my dad spent 2 years in Turkey when I was young. My parents lived through the threat of Vietnam. My friends were in the first Gulf War. I never got calls saying my son had been seriously injured on a mission in Veitnam. I never had the men visit from the DOD to tell me that my husband was dead. I never had someone return to me different than when they left, or never return at all. I don't have to live with that fear. Many do, and they deserve as much thanks as any veteran.

I may be a bleeding heart liberal. I may think that we're in ill-advised conflicts of our own making. I may think a lot of things. But I am grateful beyond words that I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by men and women ready to lay down their lives for their country and those who live in it. I'm grateful that I've had the luxury, and yes, it IS a luxury, not to serve. No one I grew up with was ignorant of the military and military life. So many people I surround myself now don't have any connection, and I think that's a very bad thing.

So, thanks Mom, Dad, Kathie, Uncle Frank, Mike, Ty, TJ, Jon, Ken, Jim, KC, Donald, Adam, Cindy and the two idiots my mom married (who weren't worthy of marriage, but they deserve some degree of gratitude for serving). Thanks to those who love them, support them, and pray daily for their safe return. Thanks to anyone I forgot to name. And thanks to the millions I don't know.

What happens in Vegas comes to

We took advantage of obscenely low priced packages to Vegas this weekend. We could not have had a better time, and frankly, I would rank it as the second coolest trip I've ever taken. It doesn't beat 20 days in London on a student loan...not even a close second, but definitely second. Mike could not stop laughing at his dorky wife who floated on air for an hour after getting pictures with the Coca-Cola polar bear, jumped for joy after winning $11 at video roulette, and generally had the best possible time.

Anyway, tomorrow is my tribute to veterans, but Thursday, I will be here to regale you with FABULOUS stories of our trip. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 02, 2009

You say you're not a bed rubber, either??

Blame it all on Miss BittyCrazy. She needs to back away from the Birkenstocks. I had NO idea you could use Google to alert you to the emergence of random phraseology on the web. Egad! But a commenter on my post regarding fluvial geomorphology indicates that it's EXACTLY how he came across my blog. After offering to allow said surfer to geomorph her fluvial, she suggested I do a series of really dumb job names. I couldn't find any at first, so she sent me a list. And sadly, I can identify pretty much all of them, including the one from the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. You'd think with all this arcane knowledge, I'd have gotten laid more in college.

However, I did run across a few I'll share of the next couple of days that made me sit up and say "Um?". Bed rubber. Yep, actual job. The job itself sounds like a pretty typical foundry job, so I'm not sure why they make it sound like a queen-sized prophylactic. More over, I don't know why the two references I found on the web call it a DOT job description. means Dictionary of Occupational Titles. And according to this page, there are a disturbing number of jobs which use the word "rubber".

In other news, I've posted some pictures of the future Rottenfield Manor.

You are a fluvial geomorphologist, aren't you?

Discussion with Miss BittyCrazy sparked by this posting

As anyone who reads Miss BittyCrazy's blog knows, she was laid off from the Evil Empire in the not-too-distant past. As a project manager myself, I'm currently working for a PM Certificate so I can get a PM Certification. I don't think they're very meaningful, these certifications, but people who hire PMs do. Anyway, I wandered over to the Project Management Institute and clicked through to their job listings. None of the Washington listings are for PMs.

But I think PM is too narrow. I think all our hard work QUALIFIES us for fluvial geomorphology. And since she can't even TRANSLATE fluvial geomorphology, I think Miss BittyCrazy is certainly as qualified as 99.99% of the population.

Of course, this lead DIRECTLY to a conversation about her thought that it sounds like someone who would be boring at parties. And as a Marine Chemistry major, I pointed out that the interdisciplinary folks tend to be more interesting than the pure scientists. Based on nothing in particular. Except maybe the facts that (a) I was one and (b)I hung out with Georgia Tech engineers. So there you go, conjecture, innuendo, and completely unsupported supposition. Happy Monday Morning.