So much for the AmEx card.


I've had an American Express card since I graduated from college. It's been a great card. I liked the card. The customer service is great, and the card services are well worth the $55 annual membership fees. Never an unhappy customer.

Until today.

I have the card number memorized, so it's easy for me to use. I bill mostly online expenses to the card, and use only that card for online purchases. In case of fraud, I have only one card to cancel. Easy that.

I placed an order online last week (on December 31st for tax and accounting reasons) and used my AmEx card for the purchase. I could save all of $20 by shipping to my house instead of my post office box, so, eh, sure, no problem, I listed my home address as the ship-to address.

This morning I received an email saying the ship-to address is not a valid delivery address for the AmEx card, could I please add it? The last time I tried to add an additional address to my AmEx, it was a horrible, horrible experience, one I remembered well, so I was absolutely positive the address was already on the card. Just to be sure, I called up AmEx.

Turns out, my home address wasn't an authorized address on the card (WTF?) and I needed to create a password for the account, too. Fine, transfer me to the password change department.

Here's where it gets creepy. In order to identify I'm who I say I am, I had to answer some questions (their apologies if the questions were redundant).

The first question was the last four digits of my Social Security Number. Standard question there, no problem.

The next question was "What was your first elementary school?" Now this one was kinda weird, but sure, I'll go with it. As near as I can tell, they can't verify that one, so I tell them. Which they spell wrong, after I tell them, so I had to spell it for them, too. It's a good thing they asked for an elementary school, because that's significantly different than the first school I went to.

Great! I'm flying with passing colors. So the next question comes. "What address did you use previously?" Oh, that's easy. I gave her my previous post office box. Because I have used nothing but post office boxes for the last 10 years. Before that I lived at other people's houses, so should be no records of my address. And before that, I was at school. And before that, my parents house. So, that P.O. Box was the most correct answer.


"We use public records to obtain a list of addresses where you might have lived. We just need one of these addresses."

Might have lived. Might have lived. Might. Have. Lived.

Not, "you lived at." Not, "your address." Not, "The address you had with us before the current address."

Might have lived. According to public records.


Okay, fine, since I couldn't answer that question, I had to ask the next security question: "What's the name of a relative?"


Blink. Blink.

What? You want the name of one of my relatives? shrug I said the full name of one of my first cousins.

Not on the list. Of course not, I think. What do you have, my whole geneological tree? No, no, no, she says, she wants me to give her the name she has in front of her on the screen. I can't help but think, "That could be one of six BILLION people, how the fuck do I know what is on your god-damned screen?" Instead, I said, "I don't know what's on your screen. I've given you enough information to identify me a hundred times over and steal my identity. I'm not interested in this password, I just want to add a shipping address to my card. That's it. Just an address." To which the customer service rep (Juanita?) replied with a lecture on how I should be interested, because this password is the most important password, blah, blah, blah.

I hung up on her.

And called back. I tried again, with the same results. I couldn't add an address without a password. And I couldn't get a password because the records they have to match me are incorrect. Fine, I'll cancel the card, switch me to that department. "You can't cancel the card without a password." Transfer me anyway.

The woman in the card-cancelling-department asked for my password. Okay, I've had enough. I'll admit to a bit of hysteria here. All I want to do is add a fucking shipping address, an address on their fucking public records list, if they bothered to look it up, and I can't do it. Cancel the fucking card.

They do. Then hang up on me.

And after I hear the dial tone on the other end of the line, I realized I could have paid the extra $20 and had the online order shipped to my post office box. launch


After nearly 4 years of talking about it, 3 years of much of nothing, has finally launched.

It needs a lot of work. It's based off an old version of the open source release of I think I'd like to switch it to a drupal code base eventually.

However, it's up. It's running. It might actually be working. We'll see.

Ultimate teams out there: enjoy!

The Easy Way to Swallow a Pill


Like a lot of people, I take vitamins close to every day. I don't quite manage every day, because I prefer to take them in the morning and either forget, or don't get up until after noon (especially during holidays!).

Here's a trick I've recently discovered to swallowing pills easily (even those gi-normous horse pills called organic vegan multivitamins):

    Look down when swallowing the pill.

Everyone always looks up to swallow a pill (presumably to send the pill to the back of the throat where it's less likely to be coughed up and more likely to be gagged up). Try looking down. Or, drink water from a cupped hand under the faucet (but make sure you have to look down to drink).

Vitamin swallowing has never been easier since I discovered this trick.

Left over from a long time ago.


A long time ago (all of 4 years ago), I had to ssh into my system to update pages on my website. There I had a "Rant of the Day" page where I, of course, ranted about something. I can honestly say, 4 years ago, it was very easy to rant about everything.

It was a long time ago (heh. long. Like 4 years is a long time.), but the rants are interesting to me, so here are the last four I made:

Someone stole the antenna off our new car. Stupid AGDMF loser.

Today reminds me why I don't believe in the "democratic" system. Today is the day
the village idiot was voted into the highest political position in the world.

The political system that allows the chummy guy around the corner who is incapable
of speaking clearly, can't defend his own beliefs, and resorts to personal attacks
when he is unable to form a coherent argument to run the most powerful nation is 
one that is obviously flawed.

Now is the time for the next revolution. Now, more than ever.
Argh! My web pages suck and no one bothered to tell me! ARGH.

I just loaded my pages up in Internet Explorer and, well, they look like crap!
They look great in Netscape on a Linux box.


Given how few rants there are, and how angry I was at the world at that time, I'm really glad I didn't have a true weblog or drupal to enable my rants. That would have been bad.

I want! I want!

Oh, I am laughing so hard right now. After looking through a soccer supply catalog, I came across the Hummel Squadra cleats in lots of colors. Look at them! They come in pink. PINK! Can you imagine seeing me flying down the ultimate field on the pull with pink cleats? Me, neither, but that's not the point. Pink! How about with a monster layout? Me and my pink cleats!

I'm so excited! I might have to buy a pair just for the entertainment value. My options are light blue, white, pink, lavender (lavender!), red, yellow, green, blue and black. My sides ache from laughing. Pink cleats!

I want.

The good and the bad (which may just be the nebulous)


A documentary post about today, with a hint of personal progress.

Today was Aruna's baby shower. Libby, JenO, and Sarah organized it, with Libby hosting. I like that Libby hosted, as it meant a 2 mile (if that) jaunt for me to get there. Of course, Aruna's isn't much farther for me. I like having friends so close.

Lisa didn't make the shower, as the movers were here today to move their belongings. We (Ben, Lisa & I) went for Cold Stone Creamery last night (for dinner! It was my dinner! I love having CSC for dinner!), when she told me she probably wouldn't make the gathering.

The group at the shower were mostly Rippit women, with two non-ultimate women. We played very low-key baby shower games. Thankfully. Because the bachelorette parties these ladies throw are embarrassing! We played "How many toliet paper squares does it take to fit around Aruna's belly?", "Memory" (20 baby items on a tray shown to you for 1 minute, take the tray away and write down all the items you remember: Libby won at 16, I was second at 15), and "CAAAAB" or "Create An Acronym About Aruna's Baby" (where Aruna pulls 5 letters from a Scrabble set, and we created acronyms about the baby with the letters - this was right up my alley).

Lisa had purchased our gift for Aruna, so I just had to make pumpkin bread and head over. Mmmmmmmmm....

Later in the day, I called Jess to see how she was doing. Jess called me on Thursday night and told me she has breast cancer. It's the kind her mother had (15 years ago, so survival is good), been caught early (so survival is good) and doesn't require chemo at this point in the diagnosis (so survival is good). We talked for a while on Thursday, but I hadn't called her on Friday, so I wanted to call her today. She seemed in good spirits. Yesterday was her 5th year wedding anniversary to David, which is really cool.

Her surgery is tentatively scheduled for next Wednesday. She wasn't able to get confirmation because the O/R scheduling system was down at the time her surgeon's office called to make arrangements. She's having reconstruction done at the same time.

I'll head out to visit her at the new year. In the new year, I'll be able to stay a little longer, and get to see Crazy Cousin Kelly, Jenny and Dad, too. Maybe Dad will go sledding with me. That would be fun. And fun is needed in low times.

I was about to write, "I'm not able to visit her until next month/year." but in reality, the proper sentence is "I choose not to visit her until next month/year, in favor of spending my first Christmas with Kris as husband and wife, spending $400 instead of $700 to get there since money is an issue, continuing my training, take care of Rossi (Mike & Kate's big chocolate lab, who is staying with us for the holidays) and finishing up projects I said would be done by the end of the year." I say "choose" because it is my choice (taking a chapter out of the mental toughness book I'm reading).

May I see your ID?


I went to the grocery store today to buy fondue makings (cheese fondue makings, to be exact, for a dinner party Keith and Katie were giving with Christina and Wade). I went to Whole Foods in particular because the recipe I had selected included some bizarre cheeses I had never heard of, and Whole Foods has a great cheese selection (no kirsch, but lots of cheese). While there, I picked up all the ingredients, including some tasty wine.

Stressed! And yet...

So, I'm totally stressing out this morning. I had just found out the changes to code I had made last night completely borked the product, and the client was unhappy that he couldn't test the software, and I'm getting ready for lunch with Heidi, who I haven't seen in ages, and I'm already going to be last, but I have to see if I can fix the problem because we have a meeting at two and there will be other people there, including Mike, who calls at that exact instant of my stress to see what's up and I totally break down and start cursing at the code that's not even doing a POST correctly so that Mike says I sound exasperated, did I want him to look at it, and the dogs are in the bed, sleeping, but I have to dash so I leave and head out and arrive late which is bad because Heidi's time is really pressed, and I can't find her and then she shows up and we have lunch and I had off to the meeting and as I'm walking up to the office, I'm still stressing because this just sucks and ...

The sun hits my face.

It's warm. And pleasant. And at that moment, I am very happy to be alive.

And the meeting wasn't so bad after all.

Those Moments of Personal Reflection


I was recently talking (emailing back & forth, actually), with a good friend * of mine. He's one of those good people who have always been in my life - you know, the ones who you can't remember your life before they entered it. He commented that, at some point, he'd like to write his "life story" for a personal reflection. We both shuddered at the "life story" bit (how monumental and overwhelming the task of writing one's life down onto paper (or pixels)!).

However, he did point out that since the goal would be personal reflection, and not entertainment of others, few people outside his immediate family would be interested in reading his story.

I disagreed and still disagree.

So much history has been lost. I know precious little about my grandparents, even less about more distant relatives. Perhaps their lives were boring. I suspect not. I think I would probably find similarities between the internal struggles I face and the ones they faced, too. The details may be different, but the conflict is most likely the same.

A watershed moment happened for me a few weeks back. The personal evolution that has happened since that moment may not mean much to anyone but me. But knowing how I was before that moment makes me appreciate more the time after that moment. I doubt I would have the perspective without the ramblings of this site/blog/journal.

Even without the specific personal reflections.

* That link may not be good quite yet. It's a gift to my friend for Christmas and he may not have started it yet.

7 Times in One Night: A Conversation with Dad


One of the very, very, very few things I'm uncomfortable about with my quality of life is the lack of time I spend with my parents. Unlike many people, but like most people I know, I have good relationships with my parents. I like spending time with them. Unless, of course, Dad and I are talking politics. Then all gloves come off.

Because I don't spend a lot of time with my parents, I feel I lose out on great stories from their lives. I wish I wrote down more of the ones I hear. Why, just tonight, Dad related to me this story:

"A friend of mine told me he had sex seven times in one night. I was talking to my dad at dinner, and told him about this guy, about how he had sex seven times in one night. Grandma piped up, "Ike and I don't have it that many times in as many months!" Dad turned to her, "Well, he's missing out."

What a hoot! My grandpa telling my great-grandmother to have more sex. I'm sure Grandpa's stories would have been entertaining, too. I miss him.

Update: Moving this to a book entitled, "Conversations With Dad".