Archive for December, 2008

18
Dec
08

Cash is king. Citi fails.

After many, many years as a Citibank credit card customer, I elected to terminate my account today. As has been widely reported, Citibank decided to reward many of its loyal customers with huge rate increases. The real bitch of this is that it wasn’t done as a penalty for cardholders who were late on payments, it was applied across the board. I don’t even carry a balance on my Citi card. So this change wouldn’t have affected me in any way – at the moment. However, if at some point in the future I do need to use credit for a major purchase, I don’t want to be stuck with an account that has rates that are normally reserved for deadbeats. This is a blatant cash grab by Citi, and I find it disgusting. That’s why I terminated my business with them.
What really surprised me was the total lack of any sort of customer retention strategy on Citi’s part. I called to opt out of the rate increase and the whole process took about 3 minutes. There was no hold time at all, and there was no “let me transfer you to a specialist”. Just press 1 for English, then speak to a rep for about 45 seconds, and the account is closed. They didn’t even counteroffer with anything to help take the sting out of the rate increase. I was surprised. Anyone who has ever closed a credit card account has probably experienced the usual tactics where they try to throw you a bone to keep your business. Low balance transfer rate? No payments for 90 days? Nope. Nothing. Just “OK, Mr. Jihad, your account is now closed. You’ll receive a confirmation letter in 5-7 days. Kthxbai!”

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13
Dec
08

I’m going to sleep like the dead.

The last couple nights I stayed up really late. Last night, I took the last ferry home. I didn’t get home until after 2am. Didn’t get to sleep until around 3:30. Had to get up for a meeting at 9:00 in Seattle, which means I had to be on the 7:20am boat, which means I had to get up at 6:00, which means I went to work on 2.5 hours of sleep. This is the price you pay for going out on a weeknight if you live in Bremerton. There’s no boat home between the relatively mild hour of 10:30 and the irresponsibly late 12:50 boat…(which, ironically, is never late enough to catch the last band at a club – you know, the one you paid to see.)
What’s worse, I had plans for today that would last the entire day, including a lunch with some higher-ups on the software dev teams that I support, and a “friendly” game of broomball late in the evening, in a town that’s pretty freaking far from where I live. OK, so I’m a fucking zombie and I’m way overbooked. Not good. To make matters worse, something I ate the day before had me running to the bathroom every hour or so. I suspect the pho. There I am at the end of the work day. I’ve been falling asleep behind the wheel, and at my desk, all day long. I have to go play this game, which I’ve never played, with guys I don’t really know, way out in Renton. I’m not athletic, in the least, and I have the shits. Super.

So all day long I’m like “This is ridiculous! Why am I torturing myself? I should fucking bail!” but then another voice is saying “Don’t puss out. You don’t want to look like a puss, do you? And besides, you never do anything like this!” Anyway, I guess the desire for novel experience, and the fact that I’m so cheap that I didn’t want to forfeit the $20 I’d paid to participate won out in the end. I made my way down to the ice rink, put on some sweat pants, and passed out in my car. I had about a half hour to kill before the other guys showed up. I snoozed as best as I could with the grim spectre of athletic embarrassment hanging over my head.
The other guys showed up, minus the guy who invited me, who happens to be the one I know the best. Crap. It ended up not being so bad. The other guys were super friendly and welcomed me to the game. I put on my gloves and knee pads and started getting REALLY nervous. Some of the other guys had helmets. Shit. I had no helmet. I’ll fast forward through the half hour of milling about in an awkward social situation (that is any social situation, for me) and get to the action.
Broomball, if you’re not familiar, involves running around on a rough non-Zamboni’d ice surface in street shoes, flailing a wooden broom handle with a rubber paddle on the end, batting a ball into a goal at either end. Think of it as the back-yard-football of hockey…for people who can’t skate. I forgot to mention, it was fucking freezing in there. I hadn’t planned for this somehow. (They have to keep the ice frozen! What was I thinking?) I was suitably dressed, as it turned out. Moving around on an ice rink in tennis shoes takes quite a bit of effort, both to start and stop, and also to keep your body from falling in a painful way. I generated a lot of heat and was sweating profusely by the end.
In all honesty, I’m not good at sports. I’m afraid of getting hit in the face with the ball, any ball, in any sport. Soccer is right out. I’m also overweight and have a hard time running constantly, especially when the cold air makes my mouth taste like blood after 5 minutes. After 5 minutes I was exhausted, wheezing, bruised up from falling several times and sliding and I felt like I could barely walk. I dove after the ball and lunged at it with my stick and took another spill. You know that part of the movie Parenthood where the kid’s singing “When you’re sliding into first and you’re feeling something burst…” Turns out that’s pretty much true. I very nearly made an already embarrassing situation incalculably worse. I hastily excused myself and took a quick bathroom break and sanity check. What the fuck was I thinking running around like this on no sleep, with intestinal distress and so out of shape that I was probably risking a coronary event? I coughed, hacked, pulled myself together and made my way back to the ice. One of the guys, sensing my sorry state, asked if I’d like to goalie for a while. That gave me a chance to catch my breath, and also make a couple saves. It’s nice to feel like you can do something useful for a team. And since taking up space is something I’m good at, I guess goalie is the best place for me. I did let one get by, but nobody’s perfect. After my turn at goalie, I rotated back in and started playing other positions. I started breathing easier, I’m not sure why. Endorphins? I had a few more rough spills and twisted my knee at one point, but nothing that kept me from finishing out the game. There were a few guys there who were superstar maniacs, running and diving and flipping over everything that came their way. That’s just never gonna be me, but I did my best and I had a good time. I’m glad I went, and I’m glad I stuck with it. But most of all I’m glad I didn’t shit myself in front of a bunch of coworkers.
I drove home through snow and rain, still coughing from the cold air, and got home around 12:30am. I am beyond tired, but I felt I had to record the moment because it’s so out of character for me. Thanks for listening.

07
Dec
08

Atheist sign stolen…later found in ditch.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation placed a sign in the Washington state capitol near a nativity scene. The sign read:

At this season of the winter solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

So of course some douche comes along and steals the sign and tosses it in a ditch. Someone recovered the sign and took it to a country radio station in Seattle, which is about 2 hours from the Capitol. I have no idea what possessed them to take it to a country radio station that far away. I have to wonder if their hearts were in the right place, or if they figured that a country radio station would be able to provide the maximum amount of derision and ridicule toward the sentiments expressed on the sign.

This tool over at Political Machine posted and article saying that he’s glad the sign was stolen, and a bunch of dittoheads chimed in agreement in the comments.

Excerpt:

What irks me about the atheists’ display is that its sole purpose is to be dickish. That’s really my problem with atheists, too. They are every bit as annoying as the guys who ring my doorbell and try to sell me a creepily-drawn comic book masquerading as a magazine.
An Atheist believes there is no God, which is about as useful as believing there is one. Both sides insist that they know something that is currently unknowable. That’s why it’s called a belief, because you don’t know. But atheists will tell you all about their belief, whether you ask them to or not.

Another person exclaimed that atheists had “gone too far” with their sign.

I responded with the following:

I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. This isn’t “dickish” and atheists have not gone too far. Believe me, you’d know if we had. Have you seen an atheist group claim responsibility for a terrorist attack lately? Have atheists bombed any clinics near you, or shot any doctors who they disagreed with? Have atheists forced any legislation down your throat?
The nativity should never have been at the Capitol, period. That constitutes an endorsement of religion by the government. Put it on your church lawn. We had every right, and in fact the Constitutional responsibility to respond. I was not a part of this sign, but I fully endorse it and its message. If you want to call something a dickish move, how about we examine how Christians try to urinate a circle around every secular building with their marketing displays? THAT is a dickish move.
You are correct that no one can know for certain that there’s no God, or that there is, but that isn’t how we operate in the real world. You don’t know for certain that there isn’t a dragon who lives on the far side of the moon that controls Chinese people with telepathic waves, but you can be reasonably sure because there’s no proof. That’s all atheists are saying. Let reason prevail. There’s never been any proof of a God, so let’s assume there isn’t one, rather than guiding our lives and public policies around a being that in all likelihood doesn’t exist.

But then again, I’m just a dick that way.

-sJ