Bank of America: Horrible, horrible bank.
It’s called “biggest-first” in the banking world. The rest of us call it anything between robbery and plunder. If you’ve ever used a big American bank, you’re probably familiar with it too.
July 2008, I mailed 5 checks into various places — Cable, Power, Gas, Credit Card, and Car Payments. Off they went, all to be processed the same night, July 8th, somewhere between me going to bed and waking up the next morning. That night of the 7th, I decided I better put 350 dollars into the checking account. Logging into the Bank of America website, I found that my balance was still quite positive, but needing a quick transfer. I simply moved 350 from my savings account into my checking account. The website verified the transfer and I was on my way to bed.
I woke up the next morning to find that 10 dollars had been deducted from my account for overdraft protection. That didn’t make much sense at the time. Bank of America zeroed out what was left in my savings account for emergency overdraft protection into my checking account. It then sequentially applied the five withdrawals, in order of descending amount. Everything seemed O.K. when I looked again around lunchtime today, which is the 8th. Later on in the day, I got a very regular looking email from Bank of America, indicating that I had a headache coming…
Five $25 dollar overdraft fees were applied against my account, about a half of a full day after the original withdrawals went through. Five! Not one or two or three or four, but FIVE times they charged me 25 dollars, plus the original ten!
Bank of America applied all my withdrawals first, and then applied the transfer. $135 of my dollars, because of their crappy algorithm! This is an outrage! It’s hours later, and I am still very worked up.
Now I am stressed out. It was just payday a short while ago, and not another for some bit — I have 19 dollars, hopefully not less! Maybe they have a queue of more overdraft fees waiting! But 19 dollars, for over a week? It’s easy to see how poor people stay poor!
If you’re smug, congratulations on the advice you want to give me so bad — “Just have more money in the bank! Plan your spending earlier!” Yes yes, good, good for you. In the meantime, I will be over here, stressing out over where my next meal is coming from, all because their math, executing in the same milliseconds, processed my deposit LAST instead of FIRST. A second semester Computer Science moron can (and does) write better software!
I work with a bunch of little kids.
We have this mail server where I work. I happen to run most of it. My friend Nate, who left for a real job a while ago, set it up to do this fancy authentication thing, tying all our passwords together.
Sort of a tricky configuration, though. Takes a while to get your head around it. Don't quite have mine yet all the way there.
So there's all the kids on the team, who want to make this change to see if it fixes something. I haven't been paying attention to much, hindered with real work. I ask one of them to explain the situation to me.
He makes a little attempt. I start looking at the system while he's explaining it, and he gets anxious. Walks off. Unsubscribes from the list because he wanted more attention.
Sigh. I'm not long for this job. I see the light at the end of the tunnel and it's not faint anymore. It'll be nice to work with adults again.
Oh no! The 'L' key on my model m keyboard stopped working! I hope I can repair it! Egads!
Comcast finally got the 5 IP configuration correct on the cable modem last night. On my fourth call in, I had to trick the lady into giving me the correct setting:
"Can you tell me what I have on my account?"
"You have the Internet service and digital television."
"Ok, do I have any add ons?"
"Let me look... yes, it says you have the speed add-on."
"Do I have anything else?"
"Let me look again. Also, you have the 5 IP option."
"Is there an option to have only 2 IPs?"
"Nope. I'm sorry sir."
"Well, you used to have one."
"Hold on while I ask... yes sir, we do have that option. Would you like me to change your account to that?"
"Nope, I just wanted you to confirm it exists. Please inspect my modem and verify that it's not set to 2 IPs".
A minute later my internet connection went out. I panicked for a moment, but then it came back up with 5 IPs.
The jerk I got for the third call in started berating me over how I was making the Internet sluggish. I think I used the wrong approach with him, as I came off as technical. With the fourth call, I feigned network ignorance until it was too late, and she got my account properly configured. Or maybe the third guy was just a jerk. Either way, we have 5 IP addresses, at long last. Between an overbearing previous roommate who wouldn't share the account info for changes, and this, I've been waiting 8 months...
lost in an abyss of crap!
I posted all my books on half.com two nights ago that I didn't really want to keep.
The next morning, someone purchased an old UNIX Tape Backups manual. Price? 5 dollars.
So half.com tacks on to my 5 dollar price what they think is fair for shipping. I found out what they gave me tonight after I logged in, to mark it as shipped. I spent 7.93 to ship the book. They gave me 2.54.
5 + 2.54 = 7.54
I've been thinking a lot about oil lately.
Some people have suggested that we're existing in a temporary moment in history, maybe a hundred or so years long, roughly. And as quickly as it was built up, more quickly will it collapse.
If you know what a bell curve is, you know that it can be used as a graph. As a plot of consumption through history, there is a nice bell curve shape to our use of oil: at the beginning of the 20th century, automobiles garnered an ever increasing demand for oil, followed by most technologies being invented along side them. Farms, airplanes, jets, the chemical industry at large, plastics, clothing -- all these things started demanding oil for cheap and plentiful manufacturing. Fertilizer is all based on the consumption of oil. Oil is used everywhere.
The average vegetable in the United States travels about 1,500 miles from where it's grown to where you eat it. That's on average. That means for every head of lettuce that only went 50 miles, there was another one that went 3,000. Each year, each American uses about 1,000 gallons of gasoline just getting their food to their mouths. This is obviously not just trips to the store, but rather the trips the food takes in the trunks and vans and planes.
There is so much energy in a drop of oil. How much energy is there in a gallon of gasoline?
How long would it take you, if you put your SUV in neutral, to pull it 10 miles down the Interstate, by yourself? If it was flat, maybe you could do it in a day. If you had good boots and cool weather, and lots of water and good food, you might even finish. Under the best circumstances, you would be very, very tired at the end of that day. Perhaps you would burn upwards of 5 to 8 thousand calories performing such a grueling task. Imagine how much work you performed. Imagine how accomplished you would feel. How tired you would feel.
In a simple gallon of gasoline, there is enough energy to push that SUV 10 miles in 6 minutes. In just 360 seconds, the same amount of work can be extracted from the gasoline. It's equivalent work. Look at a physics book sometime. I fully admit I'm too rusty to toss the math up here, but I challenge anyone to prove my method is incorrect.
There is so much energy in a drop of oil. Millions of years worth of sunlight, all bottled up in a convenient drop.
And it's so cheap for us to extract -- we put a nozzle into the earth and suck some out, and we have practically free energy. We can waste it as we please, because there's always more.
The problem that everyone knows, of course, is that there's not always more. No one knows for sure how much there is left. Alarmists want us to believe that oil is already drying up and we're already coming back down the bell curve. The oil industries all claim that there is easily 100 years left of oil, even with huge economic, population, and technological growth. The truth is assuredly somewhere in the middle.
The alarmists say that, even with all of our alternative energies combined, we won't be able to produce anywhere near as much energy as we glean from oil.
I hope that's true.
I hope we run out of cheap energy.
I'm not an anarchist, no. Nor do I have a dystopian view of the future.
If we run out of cheap energy, the world may very well have to de-industrialize. Our applications of technology will no longer be wanton. Many forms of growth will be viewed no longer as progress, but decay.
The fat, miserable consumer model of these United States will no longer be viable. I'm trying not to be smug saying this; look at what many of us have become: overweight, depressed. We eat when there is no need. And what we eat is mostly useless. We sit in our chairs glued to media as a distraction. If we're enjoying what we watch, I don't consider this in vain. But so often we slump down at a TV or web browser, enjoying nothing of that we consume with our eyes. As we sit, we eat junk food. Empty calories. We sit and watch and eat and die a little more inside. We pop pills to feel good. The trend continues. I've definitely straddled in this group I am defining. Anytime you say "I should do ____" with an empty overtone of becoming a better person, odds are you are in this group, too.
If we de-industrialize, each of us will find more purpose for existing. Each hour of our time will have more meaning. We'll have to unplug from our media and learn how to communicate as people again. I'm not anti-technology, or anti-media... I just see them as overused at times. And our waste is just too high.
I don't really have a conclusion.. just wanted to ramble for a bit.
Sometimes you just can't figure it out. And you get frustrated. And then you realize that not too much of anything really matters in the long term. Not that this makes you feel a lot better, but at least you figure out you shouldn't stress out over a homework assignment.
drawing closer to the fire in these long nights, wistfully i smelled the somber promise of the spring from the south. hearkened to the call of the twilight haze, i knew that espousing the secrets the indigo skies whispered would save me from my slumber. the green was sucked deep into the earth, hiding from what is. does it matter? no. whether were it was or wasn't, wasn't what it was. only that which ever matters, just is just because.