Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Changed Leaf

I find the most interesting things walking to work. Today I discovered that the radiation output by my monitor is worse than I thought. It doesn't just affect the plant sitting next to it, it apparently affects things much, much further away.

Walking down the sidewalk, I take the back way so there aren't many other people around. So there I was, minding my own business, when it fell out of the sky. Not a squirrel this time, thankfully; that was pretty surprizing and must have been painful for a squirrel. This time, though, it was just a leaf.

Fell straight down from the sky, I noticed how colorfully drifting it was. It reminded me of the change in season, in my desire to head back to Yosemite again before it starts to snow. It reminded me how much I enjoy this weather; I may not enjoy it for a full year, but for a fall-lengthed amount of time, it makes me really happy. Which is somewhat odd, given how depressing autumn can be if you think about it too much in certain ways. Still, the smell of the crisp autumn air in the morning is wonderful and certainly worth waking up for.

It is a lovely, colorful time of the year. The leaves changing colors, the sky still frequently a deep blue. The rains are beginning, so the grass again begins to turn green. And you know that just around the corner (in other parts of the world at least), that first snow won't be too far behind.

Yes, as the leaf drifted to the ground, I realized just how much I love this time of year. And as I passed it, I wondered what kind of freak genetic mutation would cause trees to start sprouting Taco Bell wrappers. Or cause trees to actually enjoy eating there.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Not Gonna' Bank Here No Mo'

So having an early email account is a lot of fun. Getting email that's not intended for me gives me quite the glimpse into lives of other people of similar names from around the world. Some of it's interesting, some of it's fun, and some of it's just sad.

Most of the time I'll try to get the other end straightened out. Many of the emails I end up with are for mailing lists I didn't sign up for, which are happy to unsubscribe me. Occasionally I get an order confirmation, which I'll try to redirect, but generally can't. You generally don't need your airline ticket confirmations anyway.

This time I got some seemingly important banking information.

Nothing to specific, not one of those 'here's all of your account information, numbers, and balance for all time' things, but a still likely-to-be-important bill-pay message.

Ok, someone signed up for online banking with my email address. I couldn't go remove my address; even if I had the password (I don't know if the bank will send the password to the address on file or not, I'm not willing to try), it wouldn't be nice or possibly even legal to use someone else's bank account. Even if only to remove my email address.

So I emailed the bank itself. Of course, it took the better part of an hour to /find/ a way to contact the bank. But I finally found it, emailed them, and then less than 4x the 12-hour promised response time later I got my answer.

Phishing Scam.

The bank thought I received a phishing scam email. Or, more likely, they just didn't want to deal with it, so they used their buzzword-of-the-week calendar. Now, I know it's not the bank's problem or fault that someone else used my email address on their account, but I figured they'd have a chance of being able to take care of it. And I might possibly convince them to see the light when it comes to email address confirmation, especially for sensitive financial information. I, obviously, was wrong.

So a week or so later, with the next bill-pay message, I sent another email telling them the problem still existed. "Provide us with...any relevant information," they said, "[for] locating the customer's account and [they would] have the issure corrected immediately." Sweet, they're actually going to do something. I thought. I was wrong.

I sent the information. Everything I had. I just sent them the email right back. Copy. Paste. Send. There should be enough there. Alas. I was wrong.

"Because your account security is our highest priority, we are unable to process your request through unsecured e-mail." It's too bad security for my non-existant account is their top priority, and that their actual customers are somewhere below me in their priority queue, but sure, maybe they're like Netflix and treat you worse the longer your business relationship with them has been. Fine, makes sense in some backward sort of way.

But what exactly are they hoping will occur in our communication that can't occur over email? Am I supposed to give them an account number or password? Am I supposed to read minds? And how glad should I be that I don't actually do business with this bank? How sad should I be that I do actually do business with /any/ bank, or should I attempt to hold some completely unfounded belief that my bank cares any more than that one does?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Long Blow

Some people are just so unbelievably impatient. Walking home from work yesterday was nothing new. Watching out for the traffic when I crossed the road was also an old, well-known activity. I'm almost surprized that I don't require holding someone's hand when I cross, given how careful I am of the traffic that I know doesn't notice pedestrians.

I know this, because cars end up blocking traffic when they stop in the middle of the street once they realize they're about to steal my right-of-way.

Yesterday, it wasn't me that held up the traffic. I made sure to stand way back from the crosswalk; when there're cars backed up all through the intersection, I don't want to be in the way. So imagine cars backed up in the right-most of two lanes, through the entire intersection. Now, imagine a car heading in the opposite direction that realizes it's headed the wrong way. What does this wrong-way car do? Well, in California, of course it's going to make a U-turn. It's too bad cars are backed up in its way.

Since it has a green light, the wrong-way car of course decides to take its turn. If it waits, it knows it will never get a chance, as the intersection will always be backed-up. But with the right-most lane all the way through the intersection, it cannot make a complete U-turn, having to back up to straighten out into the other lane.

In the meantime, the light changes. So what happens? Another car notices its green light and slams down on the gas, even though the U-turning car is in its way, backing up to straighten out into the clear lane. You'd think the car would notice the lack of room before applying all possible acceleration but you'd also be wrong. No, the car instead had to slam on their breaks, apparently causing something to land on their horn, for after making an incredibly inappropriate gesture at the U-turn car, you could hear the impatient driver's horn blaring as she swerved past and down the road.

All the way down the road.

I wouldn't be surprized if they're hearing that horn in Mexico by now; that's the way the car was headed when last heard.