Saturday, April 28, 2007

Patio Project

When my wife and I first bought our home we always thought we would do something in the back. It was rather smallish for having a BBQ, and way too small for having any patio furniture. So with little trepidation we began our adventure of making a patio to extend the concrete slab to a more fun sized patio area.

For thost that have visited the house you know that we do not have direct access to our backyard from anywhere but through the house. Thankfully I have forced labor that has a positive outlook, she even smiled while we worked.

After clearing out about six inches of dirt around the patio in nearly 4.5 feet in most directions we found some treasures, and then began to grade and fill with gravel.

After the about 2.5 inches of gravel we put down 1.5 inches of sand and started laying bricks. I originally sketched this out on graphpaper and used a scale of .5 bricks per square and for some reason came up with a pattern that required nearly 30 cut bricks. Being much better in the spacial world I noticed that if I started from the other side and shifted out 1/2 a brick there would only need to be 10 total cut bricks.

And now the Goddess layer of bricks.

With the brick laying done, it was up to me to cut some bricks and make the fashion statement of the week.

Finished the patio looks fantastic, and in need of furniture.

Friday, April 27, 2007

So far 9/11 isn't your best selling point Giuliani

In my wanderings of the web I found this little snippet of Joy

If one of them gets elected, it sounds to me like we're going on the defense, he said. We've got a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. We're going to wave the white flag there. We're going to try to cut back on the Patriot Act. We're going to cut back on electronic surveillance. We're going to cut back on interrogation. We're going to cut back, cut back, cut back, and we'll be back in our pre-September 11 mentality of being on defense.

source: Washington Post

The comments of Mr. Giuliani are deplorable. I think that he, as would anyone, would have been caught looking just as hard as his constituent GW Bush was on the eve of 9/11. To insinuate that a political party as a whole is inept enough to allow another terrorist on the scale of 9/11 truly for me symbolizes all that has gone wrong with the American political system. I believe that you did an excellent job dealing with the aftermath of that tragedy, and deserve to be remembered for those hours of struggle, and calm you gave the nation. I do have to protest your parading it out, and pointing to yourself in such a gross manner. Don't languish an otherwise laudable record for temporary gain, it doesn't befit the office you left, and certainly doesn't trumpet your excellence for the job which you are applying.

For some backlash and interesting points Main St. USA has a excellent clip from Keith Olbermann that really drives home what I am saying. I do however, think that Keith could have kept the focus on Rudy's track record, and left Bush out of it. GW has his own track record to square with, no need to force it onto other republicans as well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Identity Theft isn't Funny

Identity Theft isn’t funny, and I am sure that my bank has their best interests in mind so read this with the bemusement that I am living it with.

I called last night to see why I pay 16+% on my credit card after being a loyal customer of 6 years and in good credit standing. They offered to reduce my rate, but I had to get a new card. a Platinum card.

“Wow, Moving to the big time” I think and say “Sure that sounds reasonable.”

Well it turns out that may not be the case, I opened the account several years ago, and before I really had credit so My parents name is also on the account. The primary contact is my parents home phone number as I, have been semi transient until recently (read college student and renter). The contact number would not normally be a problem except my parents moved nearly 8 months ago; they moved and got a new telephone number. Since my bank account isn’t an account they use, neither of us really thought to update that part of the contact info. I having also recently moved (3 months ago) hadn’t quite gotten to the updating my contact info. So they had a disconnected telephone number and an address that I don’t live at anymore for contact info.

Naturally when I called and got the new card they asked my address, and because I was able to answer all the questions, they put in a temporary change of address, issued the new card and started to transfer me to the “change of address department” because only certain phone bank workers can do that.

It isn’t the most comforting thing in the world to hear “That’s strange” out of a bank help line person when you are trying to update your contact info and get a better rate on your Credit Card….

“Strange how?” I say

“Well it looks like opening the new Platinum Card automatically canceled your current card” she says.

At this point I am beginning to wonder if this has any hope of working out as anything but trouble; but the nice lady assured me that we had everything in order and I would receive my a priority shipment of my new cards. With that I was transferred and updated my address for the whole account (not just the Credit Card as I had before).

Today, I got a call from my mother saying she was contacted very early in the morning (East Coast vs. West Coast is a bitch) because they thought that my card had been fraudulently changed. Apparently they tried to call the old contact number, and it being disconnected set off some panic. Thankfully my Parents Name is semi-unique, and listed in the phone book.

I had not told her about my address change shenanigans, so she was more than a little confused about the call, and in her groggy state could have quite easily doomed me to having no credit card for weeks. She managed to convince them to send the cards, and I hope to see them soon.

The moral of this story is, update your accounts promptly (like my wife did) and you won’t have trouble like this.

Monday, April 09, 2007

How is eBay the only show in town?

Tell your friends, and family don't use these clowns.

Found this one on and cannot say that I am surprised. The last several times that I have tried to find anything on that catch all of garbage I was overwhelmed with how few actual products where being sold, most of what is being sold is either freely available from the manufactures site, or "services"/"information" related to making money or getting rich quickly.

From the article that Giz linked the author assumed that the person that purchased the laptop was high, but I think this comment nailed it:

"Maybe not the same in this case but something similar happened to me recently. I put $800 worth of hardware up for sale on eBay and someone bid $5000. They then insisted that they had put the money in my PayPal account, even emailed me receipts etc but PayPal showed nothing. They kept insisting that I ship the stuff they said they bought. In the end it turned out to be a scam with a stolen account. Ever since that I've had a ton of email insisting that payment has been sent for all sorts of stuff I never put up for sale. In the end I closed my eBay account.

Posted by: Graham Heyes"

eBay is definitely circling the toilet, but I will had it to PayPal's support staff. It took less time for them to answer the phone and route my call to the correct department, and even resolve my issue than it did to write this post.

It isn't slowing down the number of phishing scams, or other issues that PayPal has, but at least when you call someone answered the phone (even if you really had to look for that support number.)