Saturday, October 18, 2014

W're All Gonna DIE!!!!!!!

Oh, for fuck's sake -- has the world gone mad? Madder even than usual? Behold, the craziness infecting the salt of the earth in Maine: "Maine school board puts teacher on leave after she traveled to Dallas"

That's right, a teacher goes to a conference in Dallas, ten miles from the hospital where Mr. Duncan died, and terrified parents are convinced a wave of The Dread Pirate Ebola is about to sweep through their school. And the school board gives in to the idiocy. My favorite comment on the article by one Andrew Schaefer: "This is like blowing up your house because you saw a cockroach in your kitchen, and then napalming the entire neighborhood just to be sure, and then pouring ten feet of cement over all of it."

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I graduated from college in 1971 and went to England for a week or two that fall, wandering around mostly in the south, traveling by bus. One place I visited was Salisbury, and on a fine fair day I took a local bus out from that town to see the ruins of Old Sarum. I decided to walk from there to Stonehenge. It was a peaceful walk that brought me at last to a hilltop above a vast sweeping plain. But where was the great stone monument? Ah, there it was, remote in the distance, slowly growing in size and power as I walked toward it, as its worshippers must have seen it rise up before them thousands of years ago.

I stopped at the visitor center briefly, then crossed under the highway and walked up to and in among the towering stones. Yes, among them -- this was 1971, as I said, and the henge was not fenced off from the public till 1977. (One lucky enough to score a ticket can still go among the stones -- though not touch them -- during tightly limited special access times.) There weren't a lot of other people there. It was quietly amazing. I explored and marvelled, then went back to the visitor center and caught a bus back to Salisbury.

That was 43 years ago, and I still think about that experience whenever, as happened tonight, I see a TV show about Stonehenge, and I feel fortunate beyond words to have walked there so long ago.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Not how I planned to spend my morning

Well, this stinks, not too badly, but I really didn't want to spend a goodly chunk of my morning on phone hold or repeating the same story.

I got a credit card statement via email today and it didn't look right. In fact, it looked about $300 not right. So I went to my account online, and there were three identical transactions, on the same day, 9/21, to an online merchant I hadn't dealt with for years.

Called the credit card, went through menu hoops, finally got a live person. Shuffled to another live person. Reassured that I have zero liability for fraud and should call the merchant.

Called the merchant, went through menu hoops, got a live person, then another, and discovered that someone using my name and credit card but a different address in my town had ordered three game controllers. Not exactly anything I'd ever need even one of. Reassured it was taken care of on their end.

Called the police. Promptly (my town doesn't have much crime) got an officer who took the info including a printout I'd helpfully made of the relevant page from my online statement and promised to have a detective follow up with me later today (if available). Speculated that when they checked the address they were likely to find much more than the three game controllers my credit card had bought.

Called back the credit card company to see what else I needed to do. Hoops, live person, live person, fraud person, who went over everything yet again. Turns out whoever did this also used my card number for an airport transaction on October 4th. We confirmed the two legit transactions on the card, and he said they had what they needed on their end. I'm to trash this card and will be getting a new card, new account, within ten days.

Checked my other credit accounts and none show any suspicious activity.

Ain't modern conveniences wonderful?