Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ballet, okay

After a little bit of encouragement from my dear friend Suzanne and a lot of delusion on my part, I decided to take an adult ballet class at the Pacific NW Ballet School. I even have special shoes and stockings. But no leotard. (I can't see that happening.)
Last night was my first class and, for the record, I have never taken ballet before. When I was a pre-teen, I took modern dance so I know the difference between a Plié & a Relevé and what the 5 positions are, but the nuance and familiarity with this art form stops there. Having turned to cheerleading as a high school sophomore, I effectively killed my dance aspirations, because we all know that cheerleaders are "dancers gone retarded." As a former professional dancer and now instructor of this class, Suzanne is amazing to watch. Grace, accuracy, strength and years of discipline plus a compassionate demeanor make her a perfect teacher. And that's really important--teaching an adult open class that anyone at any level can take. As for me, I felt 10-years-old again looking around the room and sizing myself up against the other dancers. Then we started and I realized how ridiculous it was to get competitive. Especially since I am out of shape and practice for something so physically precise & demanding, my flower-patterned yoga top did not aid in my mission of becoming invisible and blending into the wall either. Quite the opposite really.
My method of learning dance is by watching and mimicking, so I would stare at a dancer in-front of me or at one in a side mirror as we did quick pointing of toes in-out and leg lifts up-down. And because I was watching other people, I simply hoped my legs were doing the things I wanted them to do. Today, my legs are sore, but I like it. Feels like they did something significant even as "unnatural" as ballet...take fifth position for instance.
Funny thing about hitting the 30's I've noticed: muscles don't always respond like they used to. And catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror from time to time--AYE! Definitely not my "A" game. But I've got my dancing shoes and I intend to use them.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ready? Set? Disaster!

Before Ken starts his new job, he is spending time getting to all those projects that we never seem to have enough time and focus for. One of these very important projects is assembling our winter storm of '06, the need for a kit is real. I got as far as clipping the article out of the paper but Ken is a man on a mission... Behold, the Moore-Sakai Disaster Supplies Kit:

It is supposed to sustain the two of us for 3-5 days with food, water, shelter, warmth, first aid and living comforts. Since we don't go camping, we are starting from scratch. We own none of the standard issue items that most Pacific North Westerners have for recreational use or, in our case, living off the grid among the elements in the backyard. But Ken has remedied this gross oversight and among other things, we now have sleeping bags, a tent, iodine pills and---laxative?

With Ken being in charge of buying all the items, I have no idea what's in the bins. It's like Christmas when I look through them.

But we are now thoroughly stocked. We are prepared! Especially with: Canned corned beef. (I don't even eat that when we're not having a disaster.) Steven Seagal in a ninja mask. And Lactaid, though I don't know how much dairy one consumes when a disaster strikes but still, it's very thoughtful of my dairy-intolerance. All kidding aside, it's very comforting to know that we have this. Next we'll be devising our Disaster Plan (bottom of THIS link), which is all about what actions to take when something happens. Do you have a disaster kit & plan?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth: Public Service Announcement

A few weekends ago, Ken and I went to see Pan's Labyrinth. It's only now that I can find the nerve to talk about it...

After doing a scan of "Pan's Labyrinth, review" Google results, I saw a great majority of the reviews are absolutely glowing. [Keep in mind that Pan's was advertised as a fantasy movie.] All the trailers for Pan's are dominated by shots of the little girl, the awe-inspiring magic goat man and the dude with eyes in his hands. Now, I like a good fantasy movie or superhero movie for that matter. Lord of the Rings is an all-time favorite and like Amy says about my taste in movies, "if I didn't know you, I would have thought you were a 12-year-old boy."

But this representation of the movie was completely misleading. Over half of it isn't fantasy at all, but the harsh realities of the Spanish Civil War Guerrilla Conflict. This movie contains intense GRAPHIC violent images. I don't even want to list them, I was so shocked by it. Now I understand sometimes that you need violence to make a point. But the camera hangs 3 seconds too long on every violent scene so you actually see what Independent films cut-away from and what Hollywood movies only allude to.

I enjoy foreign films for their bold storytelling but I don't like being misled and I certainly don't like feeling 'assaulted' by graphic violence that I'm not prepared for. Now, "Kill Bill 1 & 2"?--I knew what I was getting into. Tarantino's samurai epic blood bath and the Crazy 88's--but that's not what we're talking about here.

Pan's Labyrinth has been nominated for 6 Oscars, so it's worthy of seeing ...but you've been warned.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"End of the World"

This is one of my most favorite flash movies ever. Thanks to the Finns of Mr. Goodliving for introducing us to this little nugget of fun. Some swear words, so be careful playing it @ work.

HERE is were it came from.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Flashback: Dating

Most every night before we fall asleep, Ken and I thank the universe for all the good things in our lives. Personally, I am so grateful for finding my husband who is a wonderful person, someone who gets me, someone who inspires me, etc. But this gratefulness also includes the relief of not having to participate in the sadistically insane pastime of "dating" any more.
Whilst going through some journals, I found a verbatim record of a phone conversation I had with an ex-boyfriend after newly breaking up with him. Rarely are such gems captured with this much accuracy. Read and enjoy.

Me: "[Name of Ex-B], I found your Jimmy Buffet CD in my Sade Love Deluxe Jewel Box. I remember telling you never to take CDs without asking."

Ex-B: "Mi casa es su casa."

Me: "So a key gave you the right to take anything you wanted?"

Ex-B: "You had the opportunity to take stuff."

Me: "Whatever."

Ex-B: "What will you give me if I find Sade?"

Me: "I'll give you your damn CD back."

Ex-B: "Oh."

Me: "I want you to look in your glove box, your CD car case, in your apartment and in your CD collection. I WANT MY CD BACK!"

Ex-B: "Well I want two years of my life back." -Click-

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Meet a New Googler

Congratulations to Ken on his new position at Google! Way to go!

Under Siege --like Steven Seagal

Imagine my surprise when I checked an unrelated credit card account yesterday to find yet another fraudulent charge. This was one I hold with a local credit union, one that is only accessed by me and one that I rarely use. (Sigh)

So I called them and had my card deactivated and filed a claim on the fraudulent charge. It was only $10 but if these people are trying to "test" to see if someone will detect their naughty behavior, my answer is a resounding YES. I also obtained my credit report from all 3 bureaus. Did you know you can get that free if you go HERE? Just so you know, that link is referenced from the Federal Trade Commission (government) website. So it's legit.

The problem with credit reports is that they are about 1-2 months behind the current date. So while I can see if any errors about past reporting (which there are!), it doesn't help me with this situation which is not even a week old. I guess it gives me a baseline to know how many accounts I have open and their status. So I'm not sure what else to do about this. Ken thinks I should check all the balances on my store cards (all 3 of them) and just wait to see if this asshole is brazen enough to do anything else. And being that both my avenues to plastic money are shut down, I have all the time in the world.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Draconian-ly patronized

So it turns out that, yes, someone was using our account to purchase things. Specifically they bought international mailing labels to send, say, pirated copies of Happy Feet or fake Kate Spade handbags. And after a hard day's work of pilfering our checking account, he or she treated themselves to some stuff on Amazon.

First thing yesterday morning, I called USPS (which was showing on the ledger) and then the Bank. It was 7:15 am when I started the call and I didn't finish until 9 am. I just want to ask a question: is it considered best practices to transfer a customer who is reporting account fraud to 7 different departments and make her repeat the story to each representative? Do you have something in front of you that might be computer-like which you could input the information? Or even just write it down on a piece of paper and pass it to the customer rep sitting next to you. Between the transferring, recounting of the story and holding, I kept thinking: doesn't account fraud and identity theft happen every day all day long? Shouldn't this be a textbook exercise by now?

Each bank rep had their own role and personality flaw, kinda like the Seven Dwarfs. The most notable was the first who I'll call "Chipper". He was so hyperly-optimistic I began to get dizzy from all the forced pleasantries spilling from his every sentence. "You've been a bank customer since 2004! Isn't that great?! Thank you so much for banking with us!" I wanted to say, 'Easy now, don't go using it all up on me. You have a whole day of bullshitting ahead of you.'

And then there was the forth rep, "Yappy". I spent several minutes trying to figure out where she was going with this:
"You know, I attended law school but dropped out due to some unforeseen circumstances but I inspired my sister to go to law school and now my cousin wants to be a politician because she likes to argue."
"OK... so back to the breach of our account. What should we do about new ATM cards?"
"One time my dog ate my ATM card so I have to be careful where I leave it."


The Bank knows that there is a certain way to treat people who "patronize" them. The word 'patronize' means either giving an organization your business OR acting in a condescending manner.

So in terms of my experience...Yeah, that's about right.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Someone is in Big Trouble

Seriously, if I find out that 8 unexplainable transactions on 2/02/07 totaling $295.91 worth of charges to "USPS Express Mail" are the result of someone stealing our checking card number, there is going to be hell to pay.
This explains why the card was getting rejected Sunday & Monday at various merchants. And of course all the customer service lines are closed for our bank and USPS now. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Just because you can doesn't mean you should

Many casual conversations between Ken, the Creative & Inspired Dreamer, and Kali, the Jaded & Doubting Realist, start out like this--
Ken: "Wouldn't it be cool if [insert a cockamamie idea that involves using a computer or technological substitute for something humans do innately]?"
Kali: "Now why do we need [above cockamamie idea]? That's so [adjective]."

The frustrating thing is, Ken seems to have a very good sense of what is to come despite it sounding scarily "1984" or "Matrix-esque". So either the government/big business is going to have a line on every possible aspect of your life OR the machines are going to become self-aware to the point they don't need us. Well, I exaggerate--but just a little. I actually think things are going the way of "oversharing". This blog could be an example that. But Ken told me about an application that allows you to note what websites you go to so you can share them with your friends. Because you really care what websites I go to. You can't go another day without knowing, can you? This is akin to my virtual bookshelf in the lower right corner of this blog that shows off what books I've read and have in my collection. Aren't I smart and hip? Look at my [fill in the blank]. MySpace, Flickr, Blogs, ratings/reviews--all this stuff is predicated on people caring what others think & like.

Ken & I continually contemplate the increasing role of technology in society and for future generations. We debate the convenience and the danger it brings. It is my opinion that the balance of the organic and the electron have become a very precarious thing. While the internet is a world-altering technological advancement that I can't live without, there are times when I want to turn it off. But just as working closely with technology makes me weary of what it changes, I've started to depend upon it that much more. Just today I renewed my driver's license online. This is the first time in my life I don't have to go to the DOL and stand in line for a new mug shot. I even get to keep the same cute picture from 2002 that I actually like. Everyone wins.

Now I wish we could have spared ourselves some human interaction and done this online today: we went into a CompUSA and bought a network hardware device. Perhaps I state the obvious but it seems that CompUSA's commission structure doesn't motivate the employees enough to value customer service as a long-term strategy for repeat business. I'm just saying that the people who we observed working for CompUSA are like the "C team" in high school sports. Not the people you want in the Big Game. What I wouldn't have given for us to skip the mind numbing insult of being handily ignored by three 20-something CompUSA employees so they could huddle together and chat about what movie they were going to see later. All the while, one lonely worker was left to service several waiting customers. To the Montlake Terrace CompUSA employees: I'm sorry our presence encroached on your social lives. Our mistake. Perhaps we'd be better served by the inhuman, unfriendly website--well actually, I'm sure of it.