Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why I'm considering a coffee-can under the mattress type of savings account..

     I had my Debit card information stolen this week.
     Rather, it was stolen about a year ago along with half of the population of Loveland, Colorado and I just found out about it this week. Apparently anyone who used a card at the movie theater in town in the last few years got their information stolen whether they know about it yet or not. So if you live in Northern Colorado and happened to go see Harry Potter or something last year.. I don't mean to freak you out or anything but yeah, you're pretty much screwed.
    Anyway, what happened was I was using my money to do super responsible things like get the oil changed in my car and buy a totally cute hoodie, which was on sale for crazy cheap and how could I not take advantage of what was obviously a huge mistake on the retailer's part, when my debit card got declined.*

      * Nobody panic I still got my hands on the hoodie. Even I will humble myself enough to use a checkbook out of materialistic desperation.

   However, the consumption of some Birthday-Kahlua and a severe cold combined with my already non-existent attention span meant that I didn't remember this issue until around 11 pm that night.
   The following is pretty much an exact transcript of my multiple conversations with bank employees, illustrating why having your account compromised ends up making you angrier at your own bank than the thieves themselves.
    Also please note that this conversation starts after several minutes of trying to get an automated system to understand my wheezy flu-voice.

    Automated telephone system (I named her Phyllis after the first few minutes): Thank you for calling Merp-a-derp Bank-that-shall-not-be-named customer service line. What are you calling about today?
    Me: Uh.. *cough cough* account fraud?

   Phyllis: I'm sorry, that is not one of our options. Please state why you are calling. Your answer could include things like; "What is my account balance?" "I would like to transfer funds" or "How can I"-

   Me: My account has been compromised

    Phyllis: I'm sorry, please say again.

    Me: My account *cough hack* has been compromised.

   *This continues for several minutes. I hope they don't record that portion of the call because Phyllis got a piece of my mind*

   Phyllis: Please hold.....

   Michael: Thank you for calling Merp-a-derp Bank my name is Michael how may I assist you today?

   Me: Yeah, I think my account has been compromised.

   Michael: My goodness I am so very sorry about that Mam! Let me pull up your account and take a look.

   *At this point I realize that because of my gravely flu-voice Michael thinks I'm a 65 year old smoker. Now he's pulling up my account and seeing that I have the financial history of a 21 year old coffee addict. While this is awkward, I'm far to tired and lazy to explain.*

  Michael: Ok I'm looking at your account right now, which transactions are you looking at?

   Me: Uh.. all the ones in Nebraska.

    Michael: I see, any reason these raise red flags for you?

   Me: Well Michael, for starters I don't live in Nebraska. Also it would be really hard to buy gas in Colorado and Nebraska in the same 20 minutes....
     *I wanted to add: "Unless I've got a time machine, but those are pretty hard to come by, and from what I can see they only really give those out to British people." but I didn't... *

    Michael: Oh I see well that is a very good point Mam. I'm going to give you peace of mind today! What I am going to do is file a report concerning these transactions.....wait...... ok well our system is down so I can't actually file your claim right now.

   Me: Ok.... so now what?

    Michael: Well, if I were you, I would call back in a few minutes..... or a couple hours...

   Me: Really? That's your "Peace of Mind"? Can't you at least, I dunno, write someone a note?

 Michael: What I can do is transfer you to someone at Mer-hurrrpaderr Financial who will help you make sure this never happens again..

   Me: Well no actu-

   Megan: Hello, this is Megan at Mer-hurrrpaderr Financial! I understand you are interested in signing up for identity theft protection! Let me get your information and we will start your no risk trial for only a dollar!

    Me: Megan, it's midnight here. I'm just trying to get my debit card frozen so no one can buy any more candy-bars in Grand Island. So if you could transfer me back...

   Megan: I am sorry for the inconvenience and I do hope you reconsider my offer!

   Me: Uh-huh...so if you could just-


   *This results in yet another painfully long conversation with Phyllis, after which I am finally transferred to a different employee...*

    Anthony: HellothisisAnthonyhowmayIassistyoutoday?
  *At this point I should point out that I can barely hear poor Anthony. This is not because of his accent, which I am very good at understanding, but because he talks so fast it makes you think his calls are being timed. I'm sure my slow, Nyquil affected speech was not helping him meet his productivity quota.* 

   Me: Um... my account has been compromised.

    Anthony: IseeIamsosorrywhydoyouthinkthishashappened?

   Me: *sigh, cough* Someone is using it in Nebraska...

   Anthony: Okletmepullupyouraccountinfo..ok... yesIcanclearlyseetheproblemletmefileaclaimforyou?

   Me: Um, I'm sorry?

   Anthony: OhIwasjustsayingIamgoingtofileaclaim?

   Me: Could... could you repeat that?

   Anthony *sigh* I...amgoingto...file..a...claim.

   Me: Oh Ok cool.

   Anthony: It looks like our systemsaredown so I wouldhavetofile an actualpaperformso.. thatwouldtakemequiteawhile...

   Me: Anthony?

   Anthony: Yes Mam, howcanIhelpyou?

   Me: Do you have a pen?

   Anthony: Um... yes?

   Me: Cool. I'll hold.

    I am absolutely positive Anthony hates me a little bit, but there is just a certain time of night, after a few doses of cold medicine and one too many arguments with Phyllis when I just don't give a rat's ass.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Baylee's Totally Deep Movie Review Time

     *Disclaimer: I know I'm making a fool of myself even writing about this, but I think a lot of you, deep down inside, also have a mild, sick fascination with these films. I'm here to save you the cash that you were about to spend out of curiosity*

      Due to circumstances quite out of my control (A birthday wish from someone who shall remain nameless for their own well-being), I was coerced into watching the latest installment of the Twilight series. In the Theater. The Saturday directly following it's release. Watching a Honeymoon scene with a room full of tweens is officially my 3rd circle of Hell.
      I know movie reviews aren't really my thing but there are just some things I really need to get off my chest here folks, so hang in there.
"All of these people are about to have
some serious feelings"
    This is going to be the shortest movie review ever I promise.

    In fact, I'm not even going to review it, I'll just summarize it and let you decide if it was worth the $6.50 Matinee price I paid for it.

    First of all, we are all too familiar with the 80's training montages set to ACDC songs or the like. I have nothing against these, in fact I'm rather fond of them. Pretty much every ACDC song I own conjures up some sort of training montage in my highly impressionable mind. So imagine my distress when I was forced to sit through the fantasy-romance version of this scene: The Emotion Montage.
     Rather than a bunch of weight-lifting and cool martial arts moves set to a sweet rock anthem, the Emotion Montage features a bunch of slow motion flashbacks and close-ups of faces sporting that "slightly tormented" downward gaze, set to a bunch of Iron and Wine songs. Oh and there wasn't just one. There were about twelve.

          So here is a scene-by-scene breakdown of Breaking Dawn Part I:

    Monotone voice-over that begins every film......Wedding.............. Emotion Montage........................Honeymoon-very awkward not-so-sexy-time- Happiness Emotion Montage* .... ............................ Pregnant!...... Emotion Montage..........................................Jacob is here!....... ................................ Emotion Montage..........................Disney-esque wolf argument............... Emotion Montage .............................Bella is sick! Worry! ..................................... Emotion Montage.... .........................Acceptably gory C-section...................................Bella is dead! Emotion Montage!. ...........................Slow close up of dead-Bella's face.......... ... Eyes open! 

     *This differs from other Emotion Montages by replacing "slightly   tormented" downward gaze with "bashfully twitterpated" downward gaze

     Basically what I'm saying here is, nothing happens in this movie..... except lots and lots of feelings. Oh and one weird scene with some poorly animated wolves and dramatic voice-overs.

"We're having emotions."
     I hope you enjoyed the movie review. It was about as deep and well thought-out as the movie itself.

       P.S. I'm way too lazy to do any sort of research on this but if I had to guess I'd say this film was directed by a girl. If I'm wrong, then he's gay. Even if he says he's not, he is. Just wait and see.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why I could totally be the next Crocodile Hunter- Rescuing small, fluffy, sharp-toothed animals like a total bad-ass.

      *This actually happened awhile ago, but I'm just getting around to posting it because of that whole month of being really busy and stressed and also a wee-bit depressed. 

    I live in a neighborhood with a higher population of rabbits than actual people. Seriously it's like Watership Down around here. Driving down the street after dark is akin to a very stressful game of wack-a-mole only you're trying not to hit the tiny fluffy creatures jumping out in front of you.
   The rabbits, though not tame by any means, are surprisingly nonchalant. One day this summer I narrowly avoided flattening a large rabbit that was lying on it's back in the middle of my driveway.
      Because of it's position and complete lack of awareness I at first assumed it was dead. I got out of my car with the intention of finding a shovel and discreetly depositing it's sad little body in my neighbors yard (because I don't have the heart to throw it in the trash but am also far too lazy to bury it, and also my neighbor is INSANE and it would have been funny). As I got closer the rabbit lifted it's head and stared at me as if to say "What? see something you like here? *wink*".
       It wasn't until I got about four feet from it's upturned belly that it finally rolled over and hopped into the yard. I finished pulling my car into the garage and then watched from my window as it hopped back onto the pavement and flopped over to continue his sunbathing.

    My point is, there are a lot of rabbits and they do not fear death despite one of their brethren occasionally ending up flattened on the road or eaten by a dog. So it came as a rather large surprise when I found out that my house possesses a death trap that they have not figured out how to avoid or escape from.

    When we first moved in I vaguely remember having a conversation with our landlord about the window-well that went something like this:
      Landlord: "So there's just the one window-well and it doesn't have a cover, is that a problem?"
      Me: "Yes it is, someone could fall in!"

     Landlord: " Oh you mean like a small child? Ok I can put a cover on it."

     Me: "Err.. yes.. a child! Totally. A kid would fall in there. Not grown-ups though because they are more graceful. Yes, cover it... for the children."

    Roommate: "Uh, we don't have any children. It's fine, the dog is smart enough not to fall in."

    Me: "Yes.. right, the dog. That's what I was worried about. Not me or anything haha."
     Then one day I was down in the basement doing laundry when I heard thumping and scratching noises coming from the window. I pulled back the curtain to find this little dude attempting to claw his way up the metal wall.
I shall give him carrots and call him Fortinbras.      
     I guess I'm less compassionate than I thought because my first reaction was to mock him for being dumb enough to get stuck in this giant hole. It was funny until I noticed something that I'm sure was far more upsetting for the bunny than me- a tiny bunny skeleton half buried in leaves a few feet away.
     I realized this rabbit, however dumb he may be, did not deserve to die a slow lonely death like that and also I named him Fortinbras, so I couldn't just leave him there.
    First order of business in any rescue mission is to gather intel. For this I went upstairs, where I discovered two bunny cohorts observing the whole situation from the backyard. They were both munching on grass and occasionally peeking over the side of the window-well as if to say:
      "Sucks Bro. keep jumping.. you'll totally get out."
     Then they turn to each other and whisper things like:
       "It's never gonna happen." 

          "He's a gonner for sure."

    Poor little Fortinbras had no hope of being rescued from the outside. Not only is the hole incredibly deep, it was also basically impossible to see him. Camo-fur was not paying off in this particular situation-

     I decided to attempt my rescue from the basement where Fortinbras is within arms reach, and somehow transport him upstairs into the yard.
     While I have rescued plenty of small rodents and birds in my lifetime, I decided to consult an expert on this one. Fortinbras was happily munching on carrots at the moment, but I knew the second I opened the window the odds of him voluntarily hopping into my arms were probably pretty slim.
    I texted my cousin Erin who works at a Wildlife Rescue, thinking she would have some good advice.
      Me: "About to rescue a bunny from my window-well. Any advice?"
    The problem with people who spend their days putting splints on bear cubs and repairing golden eagle wings is that to them, rabbits are the things they feed to the baby mountain lions to make sure they can hunt before releasing them.
    I'm not saying small animals don't matter, nor that they don't also rescue squirrels and whatnot on a regular basis, only that real Wildlife experts have an annoying habit of seeing the big picture, food-chain-wise.
    Also they are a little spoiled with their rescue gear.
   Erin: "Use some thick gloves rabbits bite and scratch. Also a pole and net. Also rabbits tend to panic and flail and break their own backs. so just be aware of that."

    Very helpful dear. A list of things I do not have and a piece of information for which there is no solution. I immediately began to panic over the thought of poor little Fortinbras breaking his back. Not so much his death, Lord knows I have witnessed enough fluffy tragedies to deal with that. No, I was panicking over the thought of him breaking his own back and staying alive. What would I do then? My cousin, with her fancy gear and veterinary-type skills would probably have a syringe and just let him slip away quietly, mercifully ending his self-induced pain.
   But what am I supposed to do? Take him out back and hit him with a shovel?

    But I also couldn't leave him to die so I mustered up all my courage and headed to the garage to search for supplies.
    In lea of gloves and net I went with: Long sleeved shirt, old blanket, and a cardboard box.

    I had the forethought to lock my roommate's dog in a bedroom before I potentially released a wild rabbit into our basement, but I forgot about my cat, who took up watch from the Futon a few feet away with a look on his face that can only be interpreted as:
         "Oh this is going to be such a good show..."
     From my position in the basement I could also see two bunny noses peeking curiously over the edge of the wall above.
    Despite the stares of my skeptical audience I managed get the box over the top of the rabbit fairly easily and felt a wave of relief when he decided to deal with his panic by freezing up completely instead of the wild flailing Erin warned me about.
   However, anytime I attempted to slide the box towards me, the flailing would start, along with some sad squeaks I was previously unaware rabbits could produce. So we sat there for a few moments in Limbo. Me unable to move the box but unwilling to set him free, his bunny friends watching unsupportively from the yard, and my cat smugly grooming himself on the futon.
    Finally I decided to do it in one quick move hoping to get him up the stairs and outside before he had time to snap his fragile little spine. I slid the box inside, flipped it over and closed the flaps in a much-less-than-fluid movement, sustaining several scratches on my arms and somehow succeeding in hitting myself in the face (something that happens a little to often considering I am an adult with relatively good hand-eye coordination).
    Anyway I totally got Fortinbras upstairs and outside all on my own, proving that you don't need fancy equipment to rescue rabbits LIKE A BOSS.
   The scratches I sustained were deemed minor and undeserving of a rabies shot (I came to this diagnosis on my own by factoring in my fear of needles with the fact that Fortinbras did not appear rabid), and we got a cover for the window well to prevent future tragedies.
    And now here is a completely unrelated picture of a bunny to distract you from the fact that this very long blog post has no climax, pay-off, or conclusion of any kind.



Friday, November 4, 2011

We Apologize for the Convenience: The Check Writers- an observational essay on why it's not 1994.

   Handwritten checks.
    I know right? The very fact that they still exist is laughable, but the sheer amount of people that still use them to pay for anything is downright astonishing. Yet on an average day I process around twelve of these things.
   Everything will be going smoothly in Toaster-land until that checkbook pops out.
   The second a customer opens up a checkbook, times comes to a halt and customers and employees alike have to hold back the simultaneous groan that involuntarily bubbles up inside their throats.
     By the time the offender has finished the process of opening said checkbook, finding a new check, folding down the crease and putting on their glasses, I'm already waiting with an amazingly patient and understanding smile plastered on my face and a pen at the ready.
     That pen never works though, or it's the wrong color, or it has germs, and the entire store has to continue their excruciating flashback to 1994 until a better pen has been located.
    The check is then filled out and after gathering every single bit of information from current address and phone number to blood-type, I begin to process the check.
     Provided everything goes smoothly this process can take upwards of six or seven minutes, which in retail time is around forty years (give or take part of a lunch break and factoring in the tax-rate). However, everything rarely goes smoothly because even our check processing machine is upset that it's being used. Every time a check is inserted it makes a grinding noise as if to say:
        "What the hell people? I should be in retirement! Somebody call President Reagan and tell him the labor laws need changed, this is outrageous!"
       And then it just spits it back and beeps out an "Eff that."
   Perhaps the most amazing thing is that usually only around 75% of the offenders are over the age of sixty-five. The others are upsettingly young. Young enough that I am beginning to worry the Hipsters are going to embrace them, and if that happens the efficiency of the check-out process is completely doomed.
    I understand that most Senior Citizens can't be expected to learn how to use the debit card machine. I still weep with joy every time I see one of my Grandparents successfully operating a cell-phone. Seniors get a pass on this subject for the very same reason that I will expect a pass fifty years from now when I'm still rocking an iPod and haven't gotten around to micro-chipping my iTunes library into my brain-stem. (Plus, in those cases, the check writing isn't the only thing that slows down the process. Payment is constantly interrupted anyway when I have to keep reminding them where they are and why they are buying a cheese-grater.)
   But I'd like to give a shout-out to the thirty-something business woman with her iPhone and practical heels:
      You Mam, should be ashamed of yourself. You are obviously very businessy since you are wearing dress-pants and can work Excel on your smart-phone just fine. I get that these items, which include a space heater and Genie-Bra, are going on the "Business Account" but for the love of VISA: God of Materialism, get yourself a damn credit card.
      Did you time-travel all the way from the 1900's just to mildly inconvenience everyone around you? Do you actually prefer handing over what is essentially an IOU and spending the next several weeks wondering if it's been cashed? Are you aware that there are faster, more convenient ways to handle money, or did you miss the transitional decades in between 1985 and the Present?

  I use checks for two things only:
                  1. To pay rent - and this is only because my landlord won't get with the times and acquire his own personal  debit card machine. Completely out of my control.

                  2. To reimburse my parents for things - this is my own personal IOU system. I write them a check for the amount I owe, and mail it  (I know right? Like, in an envelope.. with a stamp. It's adorable) to them with a sweet little note that says something like :  

             "Hey Mom, 
                    Here is the money I owe you, thanks again for paying that hospital bill and all.
             Only, could you do me one favor and just not deposit this until I tell you? I totally have the money and everything it's just I would hate to have to dip into my saving account right now, I'm trying to keep that money safe for my mission trip next year. For the children. 
             Anyway, I love you so much and I will so totally text you when you can deposit this, and it's going to be totally soon!
                                                                                                Baylee "  

       Other than those two very logical examples, I can see no good reason to write a check in this day and age. I'm confused about why the Banks still print them.
       This problem directly ties in to another serious issue everyone seems to have: The inability to work a debit card machine even though they all follow basic protocol and have been around for well over ten years. I assure you there will be a post dedicated to this subject very soon. Until then, I ask only one thing of anyone still rocking the checkbook.
    The next time you pull that thing out in line at Target, hear the groan from the person behind you, and notice that ever-so-slight deadening of your cashier's eyes, ask yourself this:
     How would you feel if you were a cashier and when you asked for a check, someone handed you a bag of gold doubloons?

     *This post is dedicated to my Mother, who is under the age of fifty but still uses checks to buy groceries. 
      P.S. There's a prize for anyone who can guess who's check that is a picture of.

            P.P.S. There isn't really a prize, I just want to prove my point about checks being obsolete.