I just finished ranting about BOA and then boom, a friend tells me that Chase has forced her to close her credit card.
And not just her..seems that Chase is dumping thousands of former WaMu credit card holders.
No warning or explanation.
They just got a letter saying that their credit card was done.
They have to finish paying off any balances but they can’t make any more charges.
This would only be mildly irritating, except for the fact that having a credit card closed can impact your credit card rating.
For people like C (the friend referenced above), it also means the loss of the credit card with the highest limit. So if she needs to make a large purchase anytime soon, she’s just SOL.
I may be a little bit afraid of over using my credit card, but I haven’t yet hit Duggar territory yet (you know, 18 kids and counting..they don’t use credit of any kind..!).
I like having a credit card for large purchases, or at the very least for emergencies.
It’s SO FRUSTRATING that we have given so much power to these large corporations.
We need more oversight ASAP.
No one should be able to go in and mess around with your money (talking to you BOA), or impact your credit rating and financial stability by arbitrarily shutting down credit cards (Chase).
It makes me really distrustful of all of our financial institutions.
I think I’m still leaning towards opening a new account @ Citi, but I’m starting to wish I could just go off the grid and ignore the entire mess!
Friday, July 31
I have a confession.
The homemade cupcakes I made the other day are not very good.
They’re too dry and a little tasteless.
In fact, I made another batch…and used a mix.
I just couldn't deal with back to back cupcake disappointment.
The second batch tastes OK.
The cupcakes are still strangely dry and a little crumbly.
Some of them also exploded into my oven.
I had to scrape up burnt batter late last night.
I’m not sure what’s going on.
I’m going to keep trying..but I think I need an internal thermometer for the oven.
Maybe that will help?
Also, is there a trick to cooking with gas?
I had a gas stove once before, but I’m relearning.
I haven’t had so many baked items fail in a long time.
Thursday, July 30
I know I’ve included rather vague references to some furniture issues a few times.
Remember that nice black leather couch I posted about 3+ weeks ago?
Well, it has yet to arrive!
Funnily (or not so funnily) enough, we’ve already paid for the darn thing!
I posted about the banking drama, but the couch saga has actually been going on for much longer. There was even an uptick level of my annoyance on Friday (same day as BOA), and I just didn’t have the energy to be totally irate about both issues.
It’s exhausting being angry about a lot of things!
Anyway, here’s the rundown:
We purchased the couch on July 10th—and they ran my credit card immediately.
The couch was supposed to arrive on July 18th.
Before the 18th, we received a phone call from William, the salesperson who had handled our transaction.
He apologized profusely, and explained that between when we ordered the couch on the morning of the 10th and when the order was processed, it (suddenly) went out of stock.
B and I were mildly annoyed, but we understood that we would just have to wait.
We were told it would DEFINITELY arrive back in their stockroom on the 22nd and that we would be first on the list for delivery.
When the 22nd rolled around we waited to hear from the store about scheduling a delivery.
They didn’t call.
So I called again.
A manager at the store told us that they would be back in stock shortly and they would call to schedule a delivery for the weekend.
Next day, no delivery call.
So B called.
Talked to a new manager, and heard some rather upsetting news.
He called me, and I called again.
Apparently, there was NO restock scheduled for the 22nd.
The actual re-order of the couch would not be occurring until the 30th. Since it arrives at their stockroom and is then delivered, there would also be a delay. We would probably have to wait until the following weekend to receive our couch.
I was very annoyed.
The manager I spoke to on the 22nd lied to me!
I pointed out that they had already charged my card and then acted rather dishonestly about the delivery date.
I might have used the words ‘unethical’ several times and hinted that I would be complaining.
We still do not have our couch (but guess what number I’m dialing this afternoon…!), but we did receive a refund for most of the delivery fee.
The refund paid for the air mattress and pump that we’re forcing our guests to sleep on until the sofa-bed arrives.
I felt mildly gratified that we received a partial refund..but I won’t be fully satisfied until our couch arrives in our apt in perfect condition!
I should be eating lunch. I get a whole hour that I rarely take.
I only get paid for 7 hours a day, so I really should take advantage of the time.
Sadly, if I work through the hour I don’t get to save, bank, use it any way shape or form.
Anyway, instead of eating lunch I am going to post about the upcoming weekend.
Last weekend both of my siblings, S & S (yes we’re all S’s) came to visit. So did roommate #1 from last year, C. My parents were in town, but they did their own thing. Even married people need date weekends.
Even when they drop off S & S and go see shows without me (sniffle), it’s OK. They brought us new towels, blankets and sheets.
I think that one of the blankets is supposed to be for guests, but B really likes it and it has been appropriated for our use. In return, we will be offering guests the comfy blanket that no longer matches our duvet. Hooray for matching linens!
This weekend, roommate #2 from last year is visiting. N is coming back from Singapore via a stopover with her family in India. I’m excited to have back-to-back visits from C & N.
B’s parents will also be in town, but they are staying at a hotel. I think they’ll probably stay with us once our couch (FINALLY) arrives sometime next week, but for this visit they’re going to sleep somewhere with a real bed.
In honor of the visits, I spent most of last night baking.
1. Mini chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting.
Semi-homemade and everything (cake batter from scratch, store bought frosting..)
2. Pear cake
I adapted a recipe for peach cake. I hope it still tastes OK
I also made mini cakes. They might turn into special cakes for some birthday celebrations that are also occurring this weekend. But I don't want to get anyone's hopes up!
Tuesday, July 28
I looked at my BOA account this morning and found that my paycheck had been returned in full.
They even kept the original deposit date on the check, so to the casual observer, nothing untoward happened.
I'm very happy to have 3 weeks worth of money back in my account, and I know that I'm lucky that I only had to wait 5 day for everything to get fixed.
I am still going to write a formal letter of complaint and close all of my accounts by this weekend. I have already transfered my IRA to Vanguard and will be finding a new bank for my regular checking and savings account.
I do not trust them with my money, and am also investigating if there is a higher authority (not that high..like the better business borough perhaps!) that I can contact with my grievances.
Overall I feel that:
1. Bank of America had no right to debit money from my account once it had already cleared
2. If they did feel it necessary to place an extended hold due to concern about the validity of the check, I should have been informed immediately. When someone used my card for fraudulent purposes last summer, I received an email alert with customer service contact information. Something similar should have occurred in this situation.
3. When I called customer service after I noticed the initial debit, I was told that it could be cleared up in a branch. When I went into the 1st branch, I was told this was not true. It was only after I became upset that the manager bothered to call their internal service. I'm convinced that it was this phone call that eventually paved the way for an earlier release of my money...but I should not have had to beg for help.
4. Bank of America took advantage of my account and put me in a potentially perilous financial situation. Even though I know that I'm very lucky in that I can always turn to B, my family and friends if I need emergency money, the bank manager who 'helped' me did not know any of this information. Her casual disregard of my financial situation and possible ramifications made me very angry.
In some ways I feel like BOA used my money as an unauthorized loan. I no longer had the money, and they could do whatever they wanted with the funds. I feel like they should pay me interest for 'borrowing' my paycheck for 5 days and then returning it without any explanation.
I also find it potentially unethical that they changed my account data to reflect the original deposit date. The check may have cleared last Thursday evening, but since it wasn't returned for a full business week, I think that the statement should reflect this data. For all I know they can't even trace the extended hold and debit now that it's been wiped from my account. Were I to follow up with my complaint, I have only my word and the branch visits to validate my story.
Again, I know I'm lucky. This was resolved (relatively) quickly, but I have no intention of staying with a bank that has so little regard for its customers. I will also be including the name and ID number of the bank manager who was so callous and displayed totally unacceptable levels of customer service in my complaint. I'm going to recommend that they withhold HER paycheck and then refuse to help her navigate their own system (just kidding..maybe).
Monday, July 27
I really dislike 2 things:
Worrying about money
Being taken advantage of/lied to
Thanks to last Friday’s debacle, Bank of America (BOA) has managed to totally lose my trust and make me feel very unhappy about money. I just schedule a final payment on my credit card (another story there!), and the second that clears I am immediately closing all of my accounts.
I think I’m going to join B’s bank. It will be more convenient, and hopefully they will not engage in seriously shady business practices like BOA.
If you think I’m ranting now, you should have heard me on Friday!
Reason for ranting:
I received a paycheck last Friday from my employer (large gov’t department).
It was for slightly more than usual ($200 extra) because of a payroll snafu from the following week.
I deposited my check at the BOA ATM on Thursday and went on my merry way.
The check cleared that evening as planned.
When I went into my online banking account on Friday morning to make my usual post-paycheck transfer into a savings account I saw that the ENTIRE paycheck amount had been debited from my account.
Not just labeled ‘pending’—but pending and debited.
I had no access to the funds, and NO explanation for why they removed money from my account after a check had cleared.
I was confused but not panicked.
I called the customer service line and spoke to an employee.
I began to worry when he said he wasn’t sure why the money had been removed.
He said I should go into a branch. They could fix it in person.
He also told me to bring documents proving the check wasn’t fraudulent, because it was possible it had been ‘flagged’ due to the larger than usual amount.
I went to a branch with my proof (thank you large gov’t HR person for being so helpful!)
I waited for a manager.
I explained my confusion and frustration.
Not only had my money been removed after it had already cleared, but I had received NO warning.
No email alert.
Or phone call.
I asked her “what would have happened if I hadn’t signed into my online banking account?”
She told me I would have received notice of the debited funds within 7-10 days!
I was even more concerned.
So I asked “What would have happened if I had written multiples checks? Or paid bills?”
I wrote down her employee number so I could report her.
She seemed totally unconcerned.
She also told me that the customer service representative was wrong.
She couldn't’t fix it.
It had been referred to their liability company, and I just had to wait until at least the 31st for them to prove it wasn’t fraudulent.
She couldn’t be sure either why it was flagged.
When I asked if there was anything at all she could do, she said no.
I asked to speak to her supervisor.
She told me he was at lunch.
At 4:30 in the afternoon.
I took the subway 15 minutes away from my apartment and went into another BOA.
I met with another manger.
He at least was sympathetic.
He explained that my large gov’t department had either been the victim of fraudulent checks recently, or had provided employee checks they could not cover.
All paper checks from my department were being flagged.
He could not fix it, because he would lose his job if he overrode the debit from my account and it turned out to be actually fraudulent.
I asked if there was some way for me to speak to someone else. I didn’t want him to lose his job, but I wanted my paycheck!
His manager told me the same thing.
The bank could flag and debit funds, but they couldn’t fix things more quickly..no matter the situation! Even with proof!
After 2+ hours of feeling taken advantage of and frustrated I gave up.
I’m still waiting for them to put my entire paycheck back into my account.
As soon as that happens (and the credit card payment mentioned above) I’m done with BOA.
SO unfair and unethical.
The check had cleared..so it was my money!
Even if there was a question of validity, I should have been notified!
AND even if they had notified me before removing the money, there should be a way to resolve disputes in a timely manner.
I just finished reading David Barstow’s article “An Abortion Battle, Fought to the Death,” in the New York Times health section.
I found it really moving.
I never met Dr. Tiller in person, but I did speak to him on the phone several times while working for Faith Aloud.
My brief impression of him was that he had a rather dry sense of humor and that he seemed nice.
I think the article really captures his personality. It seems like he was indeed a rather funny, kind and incredibly brave man.
While I wonder how other people will feel about the article (I felt like the tone was fair, which means not always 100% complimentary of Dr. Tiller), I’m sure there will be debate.
I’m not really interested in the debate aspect, at least not on my personal blog.
What I did want to really post about is the last line of the article.
David Barstow ends his piece with a quote from one of Dr. Tiller’s long-time detractors. One of the men who called him “Tiller the baby killer” and organized protests of his clinic.
A man who planted crosses in front of his clinic and tried to shame women into breaking their appointments.
He is quoted as saying “A worthy adversary,” he said. “He was right back at us.”
To be honest, his statement made me irate.
A worthy adversary?
The battle for women’s lives?
I find it demeaning, frustrating, enraging, and almost deranged that this man can admit grudging respect for Dr. Tiller.
To me, it highlights that so many of these protesters use this issue to make political or religious statements about morality.
It isn’t ACTUALLY about the individual women and their families who seek care.
It’s about being the moral majority.
About saving other people from their own decisions.
About believing that you have the right to shame, harass, or even kill for a cause that’s a personal medical decision.
I will never understand how someone can shrug and spout battle jargon as if the fight itself is more important than the issue.
I believe that the hate mongering fostered by men like Mr. Gietzen led to Dr. Tiller’s death.
Mr. Gietzen might be able to now profess some admiration for his long-time opponent, but I doubt that the women who now have nowhere to turn, or the family and friends of Dr. Tiller feel similarly about a man who sees their lives as little more than a campaign in his battle.
Thursday, July 23
Sorry for the random Finding Nemo related title!
Anyway, here's my life/job update
2 Fall Internship
8 Full time jobs
1 Internship Interview Request (scheduled for next week)
2 Fall Internships
9 Full time Jobs
1 Internship Request
1 60% job interview request
The 60% job interview means that I would work 3 days a week for a set salary. I'm not sure how I feel about this type of arrangement, but at this point, I am not turning down ANY interview requests.
Tuesday, July 21
My current situation seems familiar somehow.
I’m finishing up a degree, I have an internship, and I need a full-time job.
It’s a little frustrating to feel like I’m in the same place I was 2 years ago.
I know that it’s not actually true—I’m in a bigger city & I’ll have an advanced degree this time around..but the mild panic sure feels the same!
I was also so lucky last time around.
B & A from Faith Aloud let me stay as an extended intern.
Then they wrote grants—more than 1—to keep me at the organization as a staff member.
While I believe I have created a good working relationship with my current supervisor, I don’t really see him trawling through his health contacts to find me a position.
He does bring me to meetings (where I shamelessly network and self-promote), but it’s kind of haphazard.
So, in an effort to not lose hope (I will find a job, I will find a job, I will find a job..) I decided to track my progress!
Thus far I’ve applied to a mixture of both internships and jobs. I figure an internship is a good start, or may provide me the opportunity to transition.
So far I’ve:
2 Fall Internship Sites
8 Full time jobs applications
1 Internship Interview Request (scheduled for next week)
I’m not going to summarize this entire NYTimes health article, but here’s the gist:
The withdrawal method and condoms end up having a similar pregnancy rate (~17-18% yearly) due to common use. Condoms are better overall, but they have a very high rate of misuse which obviously impacts their effectiveness. So condoms would be better, but people don’t’ use them correctly. Thus, the withdrawal method and condoms end up having similar pregnancy rates.
Pretty simple concept, right?
Well, apparently no one wanted to research the topic..or publish it once it was researched because this incredibly complicated concept might confuse people.
And by people, they clearly (and admittedly) mean teenagers.
Apparently, teenagers might not understand you if you say something like this:
Condoms prevent pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
If you do not use condoms correctly, you are more likely to get pregnant or come into contact with an STI
The withdrawal method may also prevent against pregnancy, but not as well as condoms when they’re used correctly. If you use this method, there is no protection against STIs.
Condoms are better if used correctly.
See that? You can communicate a message about sexual health without assuming that all teenagers are too stupid to understand a little bit of nuance.
The researchers who found the similar pregnancy prevention rates point out that if we share this message, we provide important education and help reduce some of the fear and confusion felt by people not using another method of birth control. They are not advocating for withdrawal over other methods, simply stating that it should be included in list and scaled/measured appropriately.
A little less shame and a little more education seem OK by me.
Monday, July 20
Big news. And no, we did not buy a house, get engaged/married, or procreate. So stop thinking about any and all of the above--you know who you are.
And no, I'm not giving out the big news in the title. You'll just have to read the post.
I don't usually post super specific info about myself.
Ok, that's kind of a lie!
I post about my job(s), furniture, and life with Layla and B.
But I don't think there's a single picture of my face anywhere on the blog.
Guess that's (kind of) about to change!
I entered a contest a few months ago.
I saw a flashing banner on bravo's website (B and I are project runway junkies) that said TIM GUNN and something about psoriasis.
In case you don't' know, I think Tim Gunn is pretty great.
And by pretty great, I mean perhaps my favorite person on tv.
Oh, and I also have psoriasis.
Anyway, I went to the website and entered the contest.
Then I forgot about it for months!
Well, turns out I'm one of the winners.. (scroll down..I'm there, I promise).
I get to walk in a runway show wearing a custom designed outfit, and chit chat to media about living with psoriasis.
I thought that all that chit-chatting should probably include my own blog.
I won't give you all the details. Check out the website.
Oh, and check out the info about my designer.
And phone chat.
I've made her tweak the design several times. Even after I've supposedly made decisions.
She just smiles and sends new designs.
I'm a huge fan.
Anyway, there's my big news!
Wednesday, July 15
Top Chef Masters is just not cutting it for me (pun semi-intended)!
It's fun enough, but I can't really root for anyone because they're only around for 1 episode.
I know we're supposed to like them because they're famous, but I like learning about the contestants on the regular version over the course of the season.
Anyway, the real reason I'm ranting about a random cooking show is that the absence of my favorite has led me to watch....Chopped.
It's really bad.
Ted Allen is kind of terrible as the host.
And most of the contestants are dimwits.
The current episode features an EXECUTIVE CHEF who just poured curry powder over lamb in a saute pan and called it creative. Oh, and authentic.
Sorry executive chef cookoo, but curry powder is neither.
Must have new episodes of Top Chef before I hurt the television..
Monday, July 13
Unless you are under the age of 5, you should NOT be allowed to carry a mangy purse shaped like an animal
Labels: new york
Friday, July 10
Thursday, July 9
Just finished reading a recent ACLU report on the NYC schools.
It’s some pretty scary stuff..and not scary in the “I’m so mind-numbingly bored” or “I wish I were way cooler” way.
Scary in the, there’s a serious police presence in too many NYC schools and schoolchildren are being terrorized by the very people meant to serve and protect.
According to the report, over 93,000 children have to pass through metal detectors each morning. This includes about 100 schools with permanent metal detectors, and those schools subjected to part of the roving program.
It seems really strange to be protesting police presence in schools.
People always talk about making schools safer. We all know why.
But this report presents a pretty compelling case FOR school safety while being AGAINST police officers and metal detectors.
For one thing, there seems to be a lot of confusion over the role of the police officers and SSA (School Safety Agents) within the school and general law enforcement context.
The report documents numerous occasions in which students have been arrested for breaking rather insignificant school rules.
There’s really no excuse for a 9th grade to be handcuffed and brought to the police station for cursing in the halls. That’s a minor school infraction, best ‘policed’ and punished by a school administrator.
The power dynamic just sounds awful.
Fully armed police officers patting down young students, with multiple reports of a flagrant disregard for policies meant to ensure student safety and security.
Male police officers are not supposed to pat down female students. Yet the report contains numerous personal accounts (from students, faculty, and parents) of this rule being ignored. Another male student reported that he is routinely humiliated by the police officers for being openly gay. He reported that they flip coins to see who will have to pat him down, something they do not subject his subjectively heterosexual peers to daily.
Worse yet, almost 1/3 of all the students polled in the study felt that an officer had touched them inappropriately or made them feel uncomfortable through verbal communication.
Since the officers (both NYPD and SSAs) are overseen by the Police department, students, their families and educators have to navigate a large and confusing system to lodge a complaint.
Even if a student believes that their rights are being violated, how are they going to protest their treatment?
Most people do not clearly understand their constitutional rights, and even if they do, are they all expected to have the knowledge and resources to navigate the legal system?
The report also highlights that paying for the metal detectors and other security measures has had a direct impact on the ability of the schools to provide educational material. While the city has been paying hundreds of millions of dollars to provide these ‘safety services,’ they have also been routinely cutting allocations for book and salaries. The report notes that in one large school (4,000+ students) there are multiple metal detectors and SSAs, but not nearly enough desks. The entire complex also lacks a single librarian.
The sad part about this situation is that all of the police officers, metal detectors and SSAs have not made the schools safer. The report points out that the decline in school violence is NOT statistically significant, a fact that is often obscured when the city is reporting on its progress.
Rather, police personnel get involved in more than twice as many non-criminal incidents at schools with permanent metal detectors that at typical similarly sized schools. So the children attending these schools are instead being forced to endure a police presence that does not increase their safety, but does increase their level of negative interaction with the legal system.
Getting back to safety, the ACLU proposes several measures that have been highly successful in other school districts across the country.
The Los Angeles school system has a police force, but it reports directly to the superintendent of the district. It also does not allow police officers to use the metal detectors, and allows school administrators to take over this role.
Another large school district, Miami-Dade does not employ any walk through metal detectors at all, and police officers again report directly to the school administrators and superintendents.
Educators and administrators in NY have expressed rather clearly that many of these matters are best handled within the school. They of course want safe environments for their students, but not by turning their schools into mini-penitentiaries.
There are other obviously other options.
We don’t have to have metal detectors.
Or police officers who pat down students, confiscate food, and terrorize students.
NYC should learn a lesson from this failed experiment, and change course before a generation of students learn that government officials would rather pay for handcuffs than books.
Tuesday, July 7
Back from STL
I might need to add another cup of coffee to my daily routine.
I’m tired out !
B and I arrived back in NY at around 12 last night.
Our flight was delayed 2 or so hours to do an engine problem.
They ended up swapping out or aircraft for another one, but it caused a big hold up.
I was only marginally annoyed.
It meant less sleep..but after the recent plane issues (birds, French flights) I was happy to wait for a plane that was not having ‘problems.’
Anyway, we had a really nice but very busy few days.
BBQ @ C’s house and a K1 mini reunion plus friends
Some celebrating of baby E’s 1st birthday, and a visit with brand new baby L (such hard work visiting with so many cute little munchkins!)
A little bit of quality time with B’s family..with more to come in August. They’re taking a roadtrip and will be visiting for a few.
Even brought a few cupcakes home.
Just to show all these fancy shmancy NYC cupcake places what they’re missing.
Sometimes I really feel like I’m working @ the set of The Office.
Today we celebrated the 60th birthday of a co-worker.
We surprised him with lunch and cake in a nearby room.
We don’t have our own conference room or break room, so they booked us time in one of the hearing rooms.
Someone hung up sad little balloons, and pictures of the birthday boy with other staff members.
One picture showed him getting a ‘lap dance’ from another woman in the office.
Apparently she just likes taking pictures that make it LOOK like she’s giving her co-workers lap dances..she doesn’t actually perform.
We didn’t invite the temporary staff members because “There wasn’t enough food.” (There was enough food. The temps now also know they were not invited because it’s all sitting in the fridge).
The birthday boy received gifts. The big gift was a stuffed giraffe. Apparently he mispronounces giraffes due to his accent, and it sounds like “Shiraffe.”
This is so funny, that we have to commemorate the occasion with a pricey doll.
Fake lap dances, mocking of co-workers, and exclusion.
Sounds like situational comedy to me!
Thursday, July 2
I realized that this has been a pretty crazy past few weeks. In the past 6 weeks:
1. I moved into the Pineapple apt with B
2. We went to Italy for a week Started a new job (OK, internship)
3. Moved out of the Pineapple apt. Goodbye 250 square feet, helllloo 1+ bedrooms.
4. Built several pieces of furniture (with help!)
5. (Hopefully fully) moved into the new apt
6. (Hopefully) figured out how to re-plug in all of the tv equipment and get our internet/cable back
7. Flown half-way across the country for a STL visit!!
--B’s god-daughter just turned 1, another set of friends just had a baby girl—welcome baby L!, and there will be BBQs and friend dates galore packed into our 3 day trip
Or at least, the first part.
You know, the part where you lovingly arrange all of the knick knacks, and swear that it’s going to stay just this neat.
Actually, I’m getting ahead of myself slightly.
We just finished building our new piece of bedroom furniture last night (much love to Al & Meg for helping!).
So now I can start putting all of our non-hanging clothing away.
And by ‘our’ I clearly mean mine.
Poor B is going to get about half a drawer. We’re going to put the rest of his stuff in clear plastic drawers hidden inside a closet.
We have a plethora of closets, but not so of drawers.
Our new set of drawers looks just like this:
It’s nothing fancy, and yes it’s from IKEA..but it fits most of my clothing (and a tiny smidgen of B’s) and it matches the bed.
A few things also need to get figure out:
1. Where to hang the spice rack. Our new galley kitchen is long and narrow. If I hang it on the bare wall (facing all of the appliances) I’m worried that I’ll spend half my time trying not to knock my head into it as I cook. If I hang it on the side wall/entry to the kitchen near the fridge, that will be the first thing you see sticking out as you enter.Hmm.