Copyright

All blog posts, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted to the Author (that's me) and may not be used without written permission.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fire Update

Many of the fires are out or are 100% contained. A few still burn, especially the Santiago Canyon (by my apartment) and between here and San Diego. However, containment is being achieved. Last night the news said that the Irvine fire was about 65% contained and they were making good progress on it.

The sky is mostly clear, but there is still a tinge of haze from the few still-burning fires. However, just because the sky is clearer doesn't mean the crap in the air is gone; since the skies have cleared, we have actually had two "very unhealthy" days for air quality.

Most of the evacuations are lifted and people are surveying the damage. In the Big Bear area, many homes are burnt to the ground with nothing but foundations where the house used to be and a mound of slag where the car used to be. San Diegans are finding similar results in many of the outlying area.

And let the accusations begin; the Orange County leadership is already starting the blame game on FEMA, OES, the Governator, and others. The experts were/are saying that the Santiago Canyon fire was likely one of the easiest to knock out had we received early air support. Had they knocked it out early, all the resources that are still fighting it could have been easily redeployed to the other fires and there would have been one less to worry about. However, because we got no air support during the Malibu fire, and then no air support for two days following the Malibu fire's primary containment, it allowed the Santiago Canyon fire to grow into one of the larger, more devastating fires in So Cal. They argue that leadership was apparently basing decisions primarily on potential home loss and difficult landscape, rather than ease of containment and chance to spread/get worse.

I heard word on the news that California is considering buying more fire engines and possibly buying its own "super scooper" airships finally. While I greatly appreciate all the hard work those two from Quebec (with their Canadian pilots) did during these fires (and the 2003 fires), it is time that CA bite the bullet and maintain some of its own. We have fires every summer/fall and we need more of these readily available for use as quickly and early as possible. And I don't think the people will mind paying some extra taxes to get them, this time around. I'm still not understanding why CA didn't buy them after the 2003 fires.

One other thing I noted: one of the officials was saying that nowhere near the 800,000 people stated to have been evacuated actually were. He said that only a few thousand went to the various relief areas and that the roads out of San Diego would have been gridlocked had that many people taken to them. Now, when you add up all the various places together, there were around 100,000 in the relief areas (the most I heard in QualComm stadium was around 30,000, and then I am adding the 10,000+ that went to the other large relief areas. On top of this, every time the news shows pictures of the 5 and 405 freeways, it was like the worst rush-hour gridlock-- which indicates thousands and thousands were on the roads. So, while the estimate of 800k total around SoCal may be high, hundreds of thousands were, in fact, evacuated.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Manning's Law

There is, in online chat communities, a statement called Godwin's Law. Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an adage formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990. The law states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." A corollary to this law states that after the Nazi/Hitler, the chat thread is doomed. A second corollary is that whomever makes the Hitler/Nazi comparison can and should have the argument immediately ignored or thrown out.

And, if you participate in any online chat communities -- no matter the context or subject matter -- this law appears to be true. I've been involved in chats about movies, super heroes, sci-fi/fantasy themes, and health care issues. I've been in political chats and opinion chats. Sooner or later, if the chat last long enough, someone always brings up Hitler or the Nazis as a comparison and the chat usually ceases to be worthwhile or ends altogether shortly thereafter.

I now propose a similarly sweeping law: Manning's Law. This law states: "The longer the Colts remain a contending team, the probability of all advertisements featuring Peyton Manning in some manner approaches one."

Back when he only showed up in sports-related advertisements, I was okay. He is pleasantly self-effacing and affable. However, now that he is creeping into electronics, car, food, and other advertisements, I am starting to be annoyed. His pleasant demeanor is starting to grate. I recognize that he is one of the biggest, most recognizable sports stars out there right now. And I have nothing inherently against; on the contrary, I think he is one of the all-time great quarterbacks to ever play. I think his preparation, determination, image, and sports IQ are all things to which young people can and should aspire if they want a career in sports.

But, like with anything else, I have my saturation point. I have reached "full" on seeing Manning in advertisements.

I swear I will give up watching TV altogether when Manning is in a Summer's Eve ad. And you know it is coming; "Ever have a not-so-fresh day? Sack it with Summer's Eve!"

Lions

I have few illusions that the Detroit Lions are a playoff-calibre team. I have few illusions that they will be better than a .500 team on the season. However, with that being said, I am getting frustrated that they, according to nearly every article I read, don't seem capable of winning a game. Instead, all the articles talk about how the team they played lost the game.

As of right now, the Lions are 5-2 on the season. They are in second place in their division behind Green Bay and, if the Packers lose tonight, could be tied for first. Yet it seems to be consensus among sports writers that this is totally accidental.

I had a teacher in high school who always used to say, "The winning team doesn't win, the losing team loses." What he meant by that was, through lack of discipline, not following the game play, inability to change tactics, the losing team provides the other team with the victory. And, I guess, sports writers across America agree with him when it comes to the Lions.

My counterargument to him, and we got into some great discussions, was that the winning team also wins. And by that I meant that the winning team has to train well, prepare assiduously, and take advantage of the foibles the other team has. I argued that it didn't matter if the other team fumbled the ball or threw an interception if the team that took over the ball couldn't move it or fumbled it right back. We've all seen games in various sports where a team seemed reluctant to win-- they didn't have the instinct to squash their opponent, they couldn't get a score, both kept giving the ball to the other team via take aways, on downs, or whatever.

As of right this moment, the Lions are leading the league in Take Aways. Every Sunday morning you hear from the pundits that Take Aways are one of the most important stats of the game-- yet somehow it seems that it is the opponent's fault rather than the Lions hustle and defense that caused all those turnovers, if you believe the writers. The Lions lead the league in Sacks, another supposedly important statistic, but it is apparently the quarterback's inability to play the game which is the reason, not the Lions' pressure from the front four or timely blitzes from the corners.

The Lions are in the top half of the league in offense, which isn't too shabby. They are 11th in points scored per game average. Their attack is improving almost every game, even if they are giving up a ton of sacks (I believe they are leading the league in sacks allowed, too). They have their starting RB back from injury and he is starting to post pretty decent numbers and take some pressure off the QB. They have beaten the defending NFC representative to the Super Bowl last year 2-0 on very good games. They beat a much-improved Tampa Bay team that is only a half game out of first place in its division. Yes, they lost two stinkers to the Eagles and Redskins-- but those are teams that were expecting to be in the hunt for a Super Bowl this season and are only 3-4 and 4-3 respectively.

Again, I'm not trying to proclaim the Lions are a force to be reckoned with, nor that they are going to make the playoffs. Their remaining games only have three strong candidates for victories:

Broncos
Cardinals (A)
Giants
Packers
Vikings (A)
Cowboys
Chargers (A)
Chiefs
Packers (A)

I would argue that the Lions have a decent shot at beating the Cardinals, Vikings, and Chiefs. If the bad Giants team shows up, they could get an unexpected win, and they may split the two games against the Packers. So they have a legitimate shot at 8-8. There is even a chance, playing at home, that they could surprise the Broncos, who have been very up and down this season. But you have to assume the Cowboys and Chargers will take care of business, and that the Packers will at least win their home game. I'm assuming the Broncos and Giants will come prepared to play well.

So, in the end, it sure would be nice if the Lions could get a little credit for what they have accomplished so far this season. They are playing well, have more wins than all of last season (5 vs 3 last year), and doing some good things as a team. Can at least one major sports writer give them what they are due?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Rebuilding PCs

On Monday, everything was fine with my PC. It was running smoothly and had been since I rebuilt it with new memory, motherboard, and CPU. Matter of fact, I was extremely pleased with it as I had not needed to make any tweaks or be so stringent about updating BIOS or drivers; it was just working and working well.

Tuesday, my buddy Matt and I have a standing engagement to play WoW together for a few hours or until we're tired (and we're both getting old-- that is happening earlier and earlier!!). When I logged in, I had no sound. Odd. When I logged out, my display suddenly flickered and then redisplayed with a green filter over everything. Odder. I rebooted the machine and still didn't have sound. A half an hour of tweaks and fiddling and reboots, I managed to get it working again and we played for awhile together.

That night, after playing, however, my machine started freezing. And I mean freezing. Nothing would work or respond in the least and I had to press the tower power button to restart the machine. Whenever I went into something that involved a download or the network, the freezing seemed to happen very quickly. If I didn't, then I may get longer periods without freezing but, eventually, it would jam up again.

I tried going back to a known-good Restore Point an that worked... for awhile. Then the freezing came back. It seemed to coincide with my machine doing downloads from the Internet and it seemed to correlate with Microsoft hot fixes or installs. But, when I checked the Latest Updates list, nothing was dated on Tuesday. If it was MS causing the issue, then it was a "stealth update" that they didn't want me to know about.

I decided to rebuild over top the existing Windows install first. That is easy and not too time consuming. Maybe some DLLs or Drivers had become corrupted and just needed to be reset. However, after the reinstall the pausing continued. Decided to take it a step further and format the hard drive and reinstall OS and everything from scratch. That would wipe out nearly any Virus, reset all DLLs and Drivers to a clean state, and allow me to start fresh. However, I had only installed the OS and allowed it to start downloading and installing hot fixes when Vista froze again. Lock up.

Discussing the issue with some IT personnel whose opinions I trust, they gave me some suggestions that included maybe the drive was starting to fail or had some glitches. I had tested the drive using Windows scanner, but it did not find any errors, but the drive is about 4 years old and probably could stand to be replaced. Plus, when I upgraded to the new MB, I got one with six SATA ports on it but kept the same hard drive-- so I was using the very slow IDE ports. So I decided what the heck and got a new 320 Gig SATA drive with a 3 gig transfer rate and 16 MB cache. This freed up an IDE port so I could plug back in my old Zip 250 drive again.

Powered up BIOS and it found the drive immediately. Tweaked things so that I could boot from my CD-Rom and install Vista on the new drive and, as of last night, everything seems to be working like a champ again. No freezes or other glitches during large downloads of CoH and WoW files. Installed the virus protection without difficulties. Updated the video drivers with no issues. Installed Office without trouble, as well as AIM, YIM, and Firefox.

However, I did all of this very carefully, creating many Restore Points along the way. And, I also disallowed Windows Vista from downloading and installing any Hot Fixes or other updates from the Internet. I'm still not fully convinced that the trouble wasn't from an update or stealth download. I am going to take it very slowly as I install those updates back onto the OS, again creating as many Restore Points as needed. Hopefully I can get myself to the point where I don't have to touch or tweak anything again for a long time.

Smoke and Mirrors

My eyes are red. When I first wake up, during the day, whether I stay inside or go outside, my eyes are red. And feel puckered and dry all the time. Even using my thick, made for chronic dry eyes, mucous-like eye drops offers little relief to this situation. My throat feels coated with a fine layer of burning ash and dust. My nose is so dry it keeps bleeding (but not badly enough to drip, thank goodness). My skin is dry to the touch and any moisture provided it (shower, lotion) is absorbed at an astonishing rate.

Upon leaving this morning for work, the sky was a an orangish-burnt sienna color. Since the Santa Ana Winds have died down, which is great for the fire fighting, the smoke, haze, and ash are all staying put right over Orange County. I can only imagine how bad the same situation is in San Diego County, where the fires are bigger and burning much more right now. The air quality is so bad that they have closed a number of schools throughout the region for health reasons.

My car was coated with a fine layer of ash this morning -- and it spent the night inside my closed garage. I can only imagine how bad that would have been had it not been inside.

I am tired. Everyone I know is fatigued at an alarming rate. We all think it has something to do with hot, dry weather and the ash. Likely also the stress of all the constant news reports and need to know if you have to evacuate your area; plus worry over friends and colleagues.

The news talks about the toll on those who have lost their homes. I'm starting to wonder about the long term toll on those of us who have been breathing the air, searing our lungs, and drinking food and water that may be laced with the ash, soot, and chemicals that all are stirred up and put into the air by these fires. We have likely received 10x, 20x, 100x the pollution we normally would have breathed in the last 7 days. What will those effects be in 2, 5, or 10 years down the line?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pleasantly Unhelpful

I just called one of my doctor's offices. I had canceled an appointment earlier in the month and didn't reschedule immediately, because there were things coming up around which I didn't want to try to work. So I waited until today to call and reschedule.

The person with whom I spoke was very pleasant on the phone... and not helpful at the same time. When I said I needed to reschedule my appointment she said, "So when would you like to come in?"

I paused a second and then said, "I can choose any time and date I want?"

"Sure," she said.

"Okay," I said in that slow, drawn out way I use to indicate that I am a bit incredulous.

"How about Wednesday?" she asked.

"Okay. I need a late afternoon appointment," I said.

"Hmmm. We're full that afternoon," she replied with a nice lilt in her voice. I could almost see the not-quite-a-frown smile she had on her face.

"Then I can't really choose the day and time I want, now can I?" I asked.

"Well," she said pleasantly with even a slight laugh, "I guess not. How about Thursday at 4pm?"

I agreed and we rang off.

Now, that entire conversation wound up being longer and needlessly painful when it didn't have to be. While the girl was very pleasant and had a nice, conversational phone presence, the fact that she didn't provide me with a rough idea of when the next available appointment was or ask me whether mornings or afternoons were better for me caused the conversation to lag and to cause a false start that wasn't needed.

If, on the other hand, she had used that pleasant voice to simple ask, "Are mornings or afternoons better for you?" and then followed that up with the next available appointment for that block of time, we could have quickly discovered that November 1 was the first available appointment time. At least she did prompt me for Wednesday, to give me an idea that tomorrow, Monday, and Tuesday were poor choices to make.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Numbers

Here is what the news just presented:

Fires currently burning: 18
Acres burned: around 420,000 total (or about 650 square miles/1050 sq kilometers)
Lost: about 1250 homes and business so far
Evacuated: Over 500,000 in San Diego alone, and estimated at about 880,000 overall.
Monetary amount: Estimating over $1 billion dollars in damages in just San Diego alone. Last estimate I heard was around $500 million elsewhere.
Deaths: 5
Injuries: 30-50 (getting really crappy estimates)

Fire Update

The Santiago/Irvine fire kicked up and did some damage last night, but not to my area directly. We have now lost 14-20 homes in the Foothill Ranch/Portola Springs area and the fire is threatening up north of me again. Renee's mom lives about a mile north and west of me and she was packing things up because it was threatening her area pretty strongly last evening. The one comment that I have been making all along and that the news and local govt is starting to make is that this fire could have been out and done with if we got some air support. We have received zero air support since day one (I heard helicopters on Monday but it turns out those were not tankers).

Firefighters are saying that our fire here was likely the easiest to contain and control with air support and there is already starting to be a backlash from citizens and local govt as to why we didn't get any. That and the fact that it went from 8800 to now around 20k acres practically overnight with no reallocation of resources when the experts agree this is one of the easier fires to fight is pissing off some people.

Just saw a report on TV from a woman reporter for channel 5 who was in this area yesterday. They showed tape from yesterday and then live shots of the exact same areas today-- it seriously and without hyperbole looks like a war has been fought there since yesterday. And a scorched earth, leave no prisoners battle at that.

The good thing is that we have double-digit humidity again (my area is at about 20-25%) and the winds have died down quite a bit. Both those facts will help firemen get a handle on things more quickly.

The San Diego fire is where your thoughts and concerns need to be. Over 1million evacuations now, many homes lost, two fires have merged, and there is no end in sight down there. One of our tech writers is confirmed to have lost his home and I'm certain many others are in jeopardy or have lost theirs too. They are saying that the insurance claims are estimated at $500 million as of right now, and they know that many more homes will be lost. They are also fearful of what this will do for our economy, which was barely holding on after the home loan scandals from a couple of months ago. This may break the back of So Cal.

I am going to work from home today as I've been up since about 4am due to firetrucks and police racing by with sirens blaring. I don't think my particular area is in any immediate danger, but I'm tired and don't feel like going in. I'm also having some minor health issues; not sure if they are due to the fires or just me being me. Caly is coughing and sneezing a lot. And this is with my doors and windows shut tight, Ionic Breeze on high, and using the AC filter to filter the air. Ugh. It is no better at work, as I found out yesterday.

That's this morning's update.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Arson!

At least three of the fires in So Cal have been identified as caused by arson; the Santiago (Irvine), the Magic (near Magic Mountain), and one of the two large fires in San Diego. When I was speaking with my mom, she worried about just this problem happening as she said that watching the fires burn on TV will spark a need to be closer and participate from those who are arsonist. More may be identified as such as they get a handle on them.

Guess you were right, mom.

I understand the lure of the fire-- I've always been fascinated by flame and can sit and watch it for hours. But I don't go around setting fires and destroying people's homes. What causes a person to need to start them? What causes them to want to destroy homes and lives? That part I just don't get!!!

The thing that gets me is that, if these three fires hadn't been purposely started, the firefighters in those areas could be elsewhere helping with the naturally caused fires burning around the state.

We are currently up to 500,000 people evacuated from San Diego, some 300,000 acres of land burned, and over 700 homes destroyed so far.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Movie Piracy

What the MPAA and movie houses will learn, much to their surprise, is that, if they can get people to stop downloading movies illegally, the amount of illegal movies available and piracy will barely fluctuate. The majority of people are NOT downloading movies. Even with cable modems, DSL, and other high speed connection, it is just not reliable enough for the average user.

It is far, far easier to rent movies from Blockbuster and Netflix and copy them. It is that simple. And, once you have a digital copy of a movie on your hard drive from a clean DVD, you can "print" as many DVDs of it as you can afford.

So, this method is a) cheaper, b) faster, c) easier, and d) allows for the greatest amount of copies to be made. Do they really think people are going to download movies?

Secondly, people will always share movies. I buy all of my movies legally. I figure that I want to pay the full price so that the movie company continues to make those sorts of movies. My dollar is power. But, when a family member or friends wants to see it but doesn't want to buy it themselves, I let them borrow it. I figure that, if I let them use my copy, they may buy it themselves if they like it.

I make these comments because there is some evidence that Comcast is purposely impeding people form using file-sharing applications. The company allows the connection and then sends a signal to make both computers "hang up" the connection. This 'service' is not discriminating between legal or illegal file sharing. If you are legally trying to share or distribute something using Gnutella or other file sharing services, you are on Comcast, and you keep getting disconnected, call Comcast and complain. They have no right to stop you from legal behavior. If, on the other hand, you are doing something underhanded you will need to figure out a work around to this current situation.

Safe?

It appears that the Irvine fire is primarily to the east of me and not heading south or west anymore. So, at least for now, I'm relatively safe.

That being said, the fire here has been around 8,800 acres for most of the day until about 2pm and now it is over 15,000 acres and growing. But we do have air support coming now and they are beating it back from the homes in Foothill Ranch and Portola Springs areas (about 2-3 miles east and north of me).

The fire that was directly north of me appears to be under some control.

However, there are enough fires that they are actually changing and creating their own weather patterns-- so things could change in a moment. Also, the Santa Ana Winds come around now and usually pick up in the evenings.

Air quality has been deemed Unhealthy and all outdoor activities have been advised against. They recommend all people to close all doors and windows and use filters and AC to filter the air.

San Diego

Over 250,000 people have now been evacuated from San Diego. And, unfortunately, the 15 freeway, one of the two main arteries into/out of San Diego, is closed for a large stretch in that area.

A number of people who work at our SD office have been evacuated.

There are over a dozen fires burning, with a couple burning big enough that it is feared that they may join into super blazes. Our forces are spread thin and our resources are stretched to their limits. Firefighters from Nevada and Arizona are on their way here.

Rough Area

The red line indicates the rough area of the fire. The red dot is my rough location on the map.

Some Pics

A friend who went into the Irvine office sent these pics of the smoke in my area.






Update

The firefighters got a decent handle on a few of the fires over night-- but then the sun rose this morning at 7:04 am and the Santa Ana Winds started at just about the same time and now nearly every fire is burning back up into a problem.

I decided to work from home, just in case. My fire is being said that it is between 0 and 30% contained, but they are most worried about the southern and western edges. Which, of course, is where I am. The wind is gusting up to 100 mph in areas.

I just heard at least three fire engines go by on either side of me and the smoke and embers are thick in the air. I have all my doors and windows closed, am completely dressed, and have my pack of important stuff ready to take with me. All just in case, but better safe than sorry.

My company's San Diego office is officially closed and those of us in Irvine are supposed to do what we think is necessary to be safe. I have decided to work from home so I can get myself, my stuff, and my cat out if needed.

The firemen have confirmed they have found evidence that the Irvine fire was started via Arson. It is hard to understand why people would do that when there are, not including this one, 10 other fires burning in the area to which the Irvine, Anaheim, Tustin, and other firemen could go to help. But some idiot decided he needed fire here, and the fire fighting resources are now spread incredibly thin on all fronts.

The Governator has declared a State of Emergency and apparently some Arizona firemen are heading this way to help out.

Fire, Fire Burning Bright

It is a little disturbing to flip on the news and find out that there is a fire burning within 5 miles of me. And then, following the news, paying attention to the live shots, and which roads they say it is crossing, discovering that it is, in fact, within about 2.5 miles of me! Possibly less in some areas.

Just north of where I live, a couple of blocks, is Portola Parkway. Just east of me is Jeffrey (maybe a mile). The fire is close enough that it is burning just on the other side (north) of Portola. It is close enough to Jeffrey that they started evacuations of some homes and apartments on the west side of that road. At last comment by a fire fighter, this fire has burned in excess of 3,800 square acres. The fire teams decided that Portola was where they were making their stand, as there is nothing left south of Portola but homes and apartments. So far, they seem to be winning. The helicopters and planes are constantly making water drops-- which is amazing because, at night, the pilots are on a voluntary basis. It is very dangerous for them to fly at the best of times, but doubly so at night. But they keep at it.

When you read my previous post about the wind, and the fact that the wind in this area is blowing west and south, it means this fire is heading directly toward me! We were alerted to "bunker;" which means to shut your doors and windows, try to stay out of the smoke and debris, collect important items, and pay attention to the radio or TV for alerts of voluntary or compulsory evacuations.

I have collected my important documents, medications, some clothes, etc. into a plastic bin and I am ready to evacuate if needed. I will sleep with more on than usual, so that I don't have to worry about getting dressed if asked to evacuate during the middle of the night. My plan is to drive to work, where I will have access to a phone.

My power is fluctuating quite a bit, but at least I still have power. Many areas are completely without, due to power lines being burned down. I called both mom and M to alert them to this potential problem. Yes, I woke M up at nearly 2 am her time, but I didn't want her to wonder about things if she didn't hear from me tomorrow because I've been evacuated and am trying to find a place to go. Hopefully she went right back to sleep. Yet one more inconvenience of a) not being together in the first place and b) the time difference between here and there.

There are, apparently, nearly a dozen fires burning in Southern California right at this moment. The three worst appear to be Malibu, Canyon Country, and Irvine, with many others threatening homes and businesses.
We're paying for the light- precipitation winter and spring we had followed by the hot, dry summer-- the brush is dry and there isn't a lot of water to use to fight it. When the winds blew down some power lines, the first fires started. But now there are so many that I wonder about arson or if one fire has ignited others.

I don't know how well I'll sleep tonight. The air is thick with smoke and ash, even with the doors and windows closed and my Ionic Breeze set on high. Hopefully our heroic fire people will keep this thing contained until morning. The bad thing is that the Santa Ana Winds are scheduled to hit hard again first thing in the morning and will last through the evening.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wind

I hate the wind. Growing up in 29 Palms, where the wind can blow to gale force, lifting sand a mile or more into the air and sandpapering anything in its path, I disliked the wind for the simple fact that it could knock me off my feet, and did. I hate the sand in my mouth and the way the wind was usually hot and would cook you like a convection oven.

It is windy in Irvine today. The news says only 16-20 mph, but I'm certain the gusts that are occurring are close to twice that amount. It is blowing hard enough that, even though I have my sliding glass door shut it is moving the blinds on the inside.

As it is winter, the wind is colder. It is whipping down from the mountain passes north of here, where the colder climate in the higher elevations makes it nice and chill. So, when you look outside, it looks like a nice, sunny, day. But when you step into that wind a cold stab goes through you.

My apartment complex also catches the wind and holds it. It comes in from the north and then circles in the parking lot so you don't know from which direction you'll get hit by it.

Lastly, both as I get older and also due to my suppressed immune system, I have developed allergies. While I used to just hate the wind for knocking me over, drying me out, making me too hot or too cold, now I also hate it because it stirs up the pollens, dusts, and other things that trigger me to have sneezing fits, watery eyes, and my internal nasal passages to fill with gunk.

Man, I hate the wind.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Oh, To Be A Cat

Or, Life as a Cat is SO Hard

The important thing to note here is that, while I didn't formally make the bed this morning, I did pull the sheets up to the pillows and down on the sides. So she needed to be determined to pull them back and get comfortable. And, yes, she is resting right where I slept all night.

Friday, October 05, 2007

More Good Customer Service

I got a scary call yesterday morning from Tiva, who works in my apartment complex office. My rent was overdue as of yesterday morning and she told me (this was news to me) that if it was not received prior to the seventh day of the month, I would be sent to their legal department and they would start the eviction process. On top of owing the full, new monthly rent amount (I just signed a new lease last weekend), I was also now required to pay a $50 surcharge for the late rent.

My explanation that I had told my bank to send a check, that I only had an online banking account so do not have checks, she understood but could do nothing about. I would have to pay the $50 in a cashier's check or money order (both of which  have additional expenses). I also complained that all this was caused by their inability to update my automatic deposit for rent without renewing the process from scratch (which requires about 3 weeks for them to get going). Had they been able to call IT and just update my auto-pay, this would not have been an issue at all.

Yet again I found the Irvine Company's rules too strict and unyielding. The fact that they own approximately 90% of all apartment and store property, however, allows them to throw their muscle around and do what they want.

So, I reasoned with Tiva. I told her I could print out the pages from my online bank account that show the transaction and that the check was sent. I got her to agree to call me each day between then and Saturday when the mail arrived if my check had been received or not. I also asked, if I showed up with $50 cash, if some nice person with a check book would write the check from his/her account for me (to which she actually said yes, she would! I can be smooth when I want to!).

I immediately moved into crisis management mode and started thinking of ways around this or how I could talk myself out of it if the check was delayed in the mail until after Saturday. I conceived of a work-around, but was not happy that I needed to.

Luckily, later that afternoon, I received another phone call from Tiva-- the check arrived in yesterday's mail. Because my account was in good standing, she also waived the $50 late fee.

Now, while I know I dodged a bullet and do plan this weekend to go back in and set up the auto-pay feature again (I got the paperwork, but have to find the required codes online), I still plan to enact some of my crisis mode plan in order to alleviate this happening again between now and when I leave for Canada.

And I made sure to thank Tiva for the good customer service she provided.