Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Tale of the Expired Credit Card

One of my credit cards expired recently. I got a new one in the mail. With a new expiration date on it. I called the number provided and got it activated. All set. All done. Well not exactly.

I used this card for two accounts to pay monthly fees. Neither were very large one was a little over $30 and the other was $10 well actually $9.95. But they handled the expired card in two very different ways.

First off I have to admit I did not remember that these two companies were on that card. I have a couple of credit cards and there are a couple of things on each. I just didn’t remember what companies were on what cards. I’ve also never had this type of a problem come up with a card before.

Here’s the response from the first company. They sent an e-mail to me saying that they tried to charge my card but were unable. They added that was because the card had expired. They said the account was suspended until I updated the expiration date of the car. They asked for me to update the account in the next 48 hours. After that time the account could be closed. They didn’t definitively say it would be closed only that it might be. The only thing was I didn’t notice it until after the 48 hour time limit.

The way I found out the account was suspended was I went to their site to check on something not related to my payment method. That’s when I noticed that the account was suspended. I went into my information and updated the expiration date and the security code. I got a response that said they would try and process the card in the next 24 hours. If everything went through then of course everything would be fine. If not the account would be suspended until they received a valid credit card number.

Very straight forward on the way to update the card. No problems. The account is up and running.

Here’s the response of the other company. My account is cancelled. That’s right cancelled. I tried to sign on to the site and couldn’t get in. There was a customer service number to call. I identified my credit card number and was told the account was cancelled. I was told that if there is any sort of problem with the card the account is cancelled. I was told I could go back and subscribe to the site again. I said I had a promotional rate which was the reason I joined. I asked if I would get that rate. She said probably not but I should see. Or I said I can simply not do busy with the company any more. I thanked her for her time and then hung up.

Talk about polar opposite ways to deal with the situation. What a great way for the first place to deal with the situation. Put the account on hold and allow a certain amount of time for the account to be updated. The second response makes no sense at all. It is just stupid. I cannot be the only person that has a card expire and not know all the places the card is used. Just one less place for me to go and spend money. Their loss over an extremely stupid policy.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Looking to Adopt a Cat This Cat Fair is for You

My friend Yolanda is hosting a cat adoption event sponsored by the Washington Humane Society. So if have some space in your home and room in your heart stop by and see if there is a cat for you.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Time for a Smile

This is a little late but here is a very funny series with Charlie Brown and Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Monuments Men

Monumentally slow. Monumentally dull. Monumentally eh.

That's was the reaction both Mark and I had to the movie when we saw it on Saturday.

I was looking forward to the film. I knew a little about the story. Knew about the book. Thought this would be a good story for a film. The cast look great. And well it just didn't gel.

It was seemed so slow. There just was no pacing to the movie. No real dramatic tension. Two the the characters were killed off and you really didn't care about either one. (At least one actor has an abbey to go back and run on PBS). The characters were cyphers.

The first scenes sets the premise for the film. Clooney's character is briefing the FDR about what is going on in Nazi occupied Europe. He makes the case for protecting the great works of art that Hitler is taking. Clooney proposes creating a team to help find and return the works of art. The opening part of the movie is the creation of this team.

The movie does a good job of showing just what a megalomaniac Hitler was. The idea that he would round up all the art for his museum Fuhrer Museum. And if he couldn't have it then it was to be destroyed. (Hitler issued a directive as Germany was falling apart that the seized art was to be destroyed rather than fall into Allied hands.) The detective story of trying to figure out where the Nazi hid the art is of interest but is a peripheral story in the movie.

There are some horrible moments when the Nazi burn a trove of art. Another time when the monuments men discover barrels that contain gold fillings.

But the characters are just not fleshed out. They don't really have personalities; they are more caricatures. The other problem is there are too many of them. The scenes keep bouncing back and forth to the teams that have been sent out to find the art. By the time you really get to know one team the action moves on to the next.

In all a disappointment to what should have been a much better movie.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Charlie and Linus Have Some Fun

Charlie and Linus have fun around the house on Presidents' Day

Linus and Charlie help make the bed

Here the guys are smoothing out the sheets

Cat in a box

Linus is transfixed by the twizzle move in ice dancing in the Olympics

Cat almost in a box

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Snowmen Cometh

I went out for a walk this afternoon.

There was some light rain falling which has now changed back into snow.

As I was walking I took note of the snowmen that had been built today.

Here are a couple of them.

Some were nicely dressed and smile on their face.

This guy had a wonderful hat on.

More of a traditional snowman

This guy even had gloves and was most welcoming to any passerby

Sort of an impressionist idea of a snowman

This guy didn't make it.

This little guy had a carrot nose!

And great arms.

The Snow Finally Came and with Freezing Rain Too!

Pictures from last night as the snow starts.

The Post put it the best:

The biggest storm of the season dumped a thick snow blanket on the Washington area overnight, shutting down the federal government; local schools, courts and government offices; airports and Metro’s bus service.

From the Capital Weather Guys:
Most of us awaken to a winter wonderland or nightmare depending on your perspective. Parts of the area then goes into the classic “mix” mode fairly early in the morning through much of the day, while colder areas remain snow. Precipitation should be lighter by mid-to-late morning but snow could re-intensify into the afternoon and evening. Friday is back to quiet weather, but Friday night Valentine diners may encounter some snow showers coming home. The long weekend is drier but chilly temperatures make the melt down a slow process.

It started out very slowly. Flakes started to fall around 8 or so. It took it some time to stick. My first couple of pictures are from last night.

I awoke to the freezing rain. For awhile it sounded like glass was breaking. Then I finally figured out what was going on. It was sleet and freezing rain. Oh fun.

One amazing thing my paper got delivered this morning.

I just got in from shoveling. The snow was heavy and wet because of course it's now raining. I guess later in the day it is supposed to go back to snow.

And now I'm having pancakes.

The paper made it. Amazing

The front step snow test. Just about 7 inches

Linus watching me shoveling.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Flakes Should Be Falling Soon

Yes, another winter storm on it's way to DC. One does wonder if this one will actually deliver as the forecasters are predicting. They've been a little off this year. As in the great snow of last weekend. The 14 flakes that fell.

So to get ready for it and bring a smile once again to our faces, here's Charlie Brown contemplating eating lunch by himself.

Stay warm and dry everyone.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Kalb Report with Thomas Friedman

From the Kalb Report site about the program:

As the fall-out from Edward Snowden’s leak to the media of the U.S. government’s massive surveillance programs—including recent court rulings involving the constitutionality of these programs—continues to reverberate around the world, moderator Marvin Kalb and guest Thomas L. Friedman, the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist and author, will discuss the evolving intersection of national security and freedom of the press.

Kalb asked Friedman what is freedom. His response was freedom is the ability, the desire, the drive to realize my full potential as a human being. This was especially in the context of the Arab Spring. He added that there is freedom from and freedom to. In the Arab Spring context the freedom from was the dictatorship of Mubarak. The freedom to could be Islamic fundamentalist or the belief in a sectarian regime. The point implied the freedom to some might not always match what our notion of freedom might be.

They went on to talk about privacy and Friedman said privacy is over get use to it. He added that another attack like 9/11 people lead people to say do what you have to to keep us safe. Also said that the attacks eroded people’s trust. Not so much in government but in feeling safe. Now planes aren’t safe. There are people running around blowing themselves up. That makes people want to close themselves off. And that means the terrorists win.

This lead into talking about Eric Snowden. Friedman wouldn’t take a position one way or the other about if he would have been involved in writing about Snowden’s files. He did say that the technology has is so far ahead of the law in this matter. He added he goes back and forth on what he thinks about Snowden. He does believe Snowden should come back to this country. He thinks Snowden would get a fair trial if he did. Friedman added be thought the revelations have lead to a healthy discussion of what government should and shouldn’t be looking into.

There was a funny momement that Friedman talked about after his last book was published. His publisher asked what the next subject Friedman wanted to write on. Friedman said golf. The publisher said as in the Persian Gulf. Friedman added he’s always wanted to write a book on golf.

Another point Friedman made was that his columns reach many more people in the information age. He talked how the New York Times had a Chineses language version of the web site. It just so happens right now China is blocking it but people are still with a few extra steps able to reach and read it.

Toward the end of the discussion Friedman raised this very interesting point. He said we’re in a Gutenberg moment. What he meant was the technology is at a point that it will dramtically impact the way people and ideas are communicated like movable type did.

Friedman’s final thought was that people need to remain optimistic about the future as Americans have historically. He said if Americans don’t do that then the country and the world will be a much different place. Different  in a bad sense not a good one.

Tuesday Treat before the Next Storm Arrives

Seems that there is yet again another chance of some sort of winter storm heading DC's way.

Here's what the Post's Capital Weather Gang have to say about it:
A strong Nor’easter is expected to develop along the coast Wednesday night into Thursday bringing the possibility of significant snowfall to the area.  However, especially close to the I-95 corridor and points east, temperatures may warm enough for snow to change to mixed precipitation and rain.

At this point I'd like to get a foot and a half of snow and then have winter be over. This is the winter of a thousand cuts. Some snow, some rain, some freezing rain, some sleet back to snow and freezing rain and  . . .

So here's something to bring a smile to your face. Charlie Brown and his thoughts on eating his lunch alone and who doesn't hate eating their lunch by themselves.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Odds and Ends of a Winter Kind

Losing Hard Disk Space

Saturday I was doing work around the house: taking out the garbage, doing laundry, paying some bills. I was also getting ready to make a post to the blog when I got this odd message from my computer. It said my start up disk was running out of space and I needed to delete some files.

At first I thought this had to be a mistake. But I looked and sure enough I had less than a gig of hard disk space left. So I began deleting files. I have this bad habit of putting files in the trash but never emptying the trash. So I did that. Got the hard disk space up to like 8 gigs or so.

I went one and did a few things more around the house. I came back to the computer and again had less than a gig of disk space. In fact I watched the disk space disappear before my eyes. I had some movie clips that I’d download that took up a lot of space so I got rid of those. Still the amount of disk space went down.

I closes all of my programs and still was loosing hard disk space.

I restarted the computer to see what would happen. Once I restarted I had over 29 gigs of disk space. It’s stayed at that. I still have no idea what happened.

Hawk around the Circle

I was walking up 19th Street just north of DuPont Circle on Sunday. There a bunch of birds in the trees. They got startled by something. There all took flight and made a great deal of noise when they did. There were a bunch of crows cawing away at something.

Then off to my right was a blur and suddenly a pigeon hit the street. There were feathers everywhere. Then I noticed that there was a hawk. It had obviously gone after the pigeon. It was why the crows were raising such a fuss.

The hawk (it might have even been a falcon) did not get the pigeon. It flew high and then landed at the top of one of the trees. It looked magnificent. It stayed in the tree a short time and then shot up into the air and was lost from sight.

The Bar Code and the Post Office

A couple weeks back I got a bill in the mail. It was not for me. It had the right house number on it but the wrong street number. This happens from time to time. It doesn’t make sense to me why this would happen.

It took me a couple of days but I finally put the bill back in the mail. A couple of days later it showed up again in my mail.

This time around I looked more closely at the envelope. There was a bar code on it. Then after the bar code what looked like to me a street number. It so happened to be my street number. And that explained why the bill had been delivered again to my house. I took out a marker and blotted out the bar code.

The next day I put it back in the mail. I haven’t seen it since.

Not Watching the Olympics

Usually I watch the Olympics from start to finish. For some reason this time around I’m not all that interested. In part because the coverage runs until 11pm and the real good stuff will be on between 10-11pm. It’s just really hard for me to stay up that late and get up the next morning and make it into the gym. The other reason is all the controversy of it being in Russia.

I think as the games progress I will be watching it a little more.

When I got home tonight, I did watch the games. But I did so from my Xfinity account. I watched some speed skating and luge. I liked it.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Carolina Kitchen Just About Ready at Rhode Island Row

Carolina Kitchen is getting closer and closer to being open. The originally plan, at least in the large signs that were posted, was to open summer of 2013. Obviously that didn't work out as planned.

But now things are moving along really well. It looks like most of the interior is done. The other day when I passed by it looked like people were filling out applications for employment.

Hopefully by March or maybe a little later it will be open.

One thing I don't understand is that there are big screen TVs and, as I'm on my way to the gym at 6am, they are all on. Just don't get that one.

As you can see the two TVs are on. This is a little before 6am as I'm on the way to the gym.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

More Winter Fun

Another winter event in DC. How fun!

As much as I like winter, I'm getting a little tired of this one. I think this is the third encounter DC has had with ice. Not too bad this morning. Got lucky because the worst part of it was to the north and west.

There's another storm on the way. Should hit DC sometime over the weekend. At first it was supposed to be a big one. Now it looks like it will be just enough snow to be a pain. I think I'd like one big storm and then for winter to be over.

But it doesn't look like that's the way it's going to go. There's a change of some more snow towards the middle of next week.

Here are a few pictures from this morning as I was heading out to the gym.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

A Trip to the National Zoo

Ooohhh  Ooohhh you went to the zoo.

That’s something my mom always liked to say to me when I went to the zoo. Not particularly original but the tone and rhythm that she used was very endearing.

One year she was out here and we went to the zoo and I got to say that to her. It was the spring after I’d had surgery on my lung. I was still having problems and not in a very good mood about it. She decided to come out during her spring break.

We had an absolute blast going around DC. We took the tourmobile around. And because of when it was, there were hardly any tourists around at all. We saw exactly what we wanted and when we got tired we went home. One day we went to the zoo. It was empty. As in we would go into the great ape house and we were the only ones there. My mom loved the pandas. This is when the first set were here in DC. As I recall one was inside having breakfast and the other was outside walking around. We spent a long time looking at both of them but especially the one inside. It was fascinating to see how the panda strip the leaves from the bamboo it was eating.

We went around and saw many of the other animals. We liked the great apes. We enjoyed watching the sea lions. And nearby were the otters who romped and played around. They were very funny. We reached a point when we were ready to leave. My mom said let’s stop and see the pandas one more time. After all they are on the way out of the zoo. We spent another half hour watching them. And finally headed out. It was a great day.

Remembering how much she liked the pandas and seeing how Bao Bao, the new born, was on display, the day after going to New York I decided to head out to the zoo. Bao Bao stayed in the den so I didn’t get to see here. But I did get to see the baby tigers and mom was pretty vocal with them. Again there was hardly anyone there. When I was there in the morning, it was the warmest part of the day. I got to see the other two pandas. Saw the great apes. The otters and sea lions. Also an Asian elephant was out with his two keepers. He performed a couple of tricks and got rewards for it. And then he decided he’d had enough and headed deeper into the enclosure. No matter how the  keepers tried to get him to come back he just kept going.

And since it’s they’re on  the way out, I stopped and saw the pandas again too.