The Situation, Day 8

18 Mar 2013

Original Blogger tags: The Situation 2013

The weekend was pretty normal. Or, to put it another way, it was packed with the usual crises of dealing with kids and errands and hosting our usual Saturday evening dinner — this time, corned beef and cabbage. Grace did not get time to corn her own beef brisket this year.

Last year she made one in the fridge, letting it “pickle” in the fridge for about three weeks in a bag, turning it every few days. She used a brine of salt, coriander, bay leaves, fennel, peppercorns, and cloves — and went much heavier on the spices than the recipe called for. I think she tripled the spices, but not the salt. The result was incredible — the best corned beef I’ve ever had. But the brisket from Ted’s Meat here in Saginaw was still very tasty.

On Saturday I went out to get some groceries, and got all the way to our local Meijer — it’s about six miles away — before I realized I had left my wallet at home. I had a few dollars in cash with me so I stopped for a bagel and cream cheese and then just went on home, on the grounds that I was too distracted to be out shopping. I stopped at our friend Linda’s house to pick up some local pastured eggs. I wanted to buy five dozen — yes, our family can go through that many, or at least almost that many eggs, in a week. But the chickens have been slow lately and so she only had a dozen on hand.

On Sunday Grace and I went out again to buy gas and groceries with our four-year-old, and I discovered my bank card had been blocked and so I could not pay for anything, or take out cash. Customer service is closed on Sundays. So once again we were stymied. We put a small handful of groceries (for last night’s dinner) on a credit card and came home.

The online banking system shows that my available balance was fine. I got hold of them today and the issue was that my account was flagged for unusual spending. On Saturday, I got on the App store and bought current versions of Numbers, Pages, Keynote, and OmniGraffle. That came to a bit over $160 with tax — $20 each for the iWork applications, and $99.95 for OmniGraffle.

I bought these programs are specifically to work on some portfolio materials for my job search. OmniGraffle is my program of choice for making XML diagrams and related software diagrams on the Mac, and I’ve used it for many years. (On the PC, it’s Visio with some freely available XML templates). I have a lot of older files in these formats and wanted to open these up and turn them into PDF files. But my version of OmniGraffle was an old PowerPC-only version, which no longer works on Mountain Lion, and my iWork ’09 install disc was, for some reason, no longer readable. (This has actually happened to a couple of my Apple DVD discs over the years — they seem to age to a point where the drive can’t read them).

Anyway, my bank’s system apparently flags large purchases on the iTunes Store as indicating possible fraud. The problem here is that the iTunes store has gradually morphed from being a service that sells $10.00 albums and $1.00 songs, where you might typically spend anywhere from $1.00 to $30.00 at a time, to a service that also sells iPhone applications, to a service that also sells Mac applications, including some that cost quite a bit more than the latest David Bowie album. So it seems that they might want to update their fraud-catching criteria a bit.

I guess I should be grateful that they are monitoring my account, because all it would take was one merchant with a card skimmer or one security breach online to create a huge money mess. But it’s also unnerving to think that I might have been out of town, like I was on Friday, and unable to get gas or call anyone in customer service. But that is why I carry one separate credit card with a low limit, and I don’t use that card for any online or automated transactions.

On Saturday, I also set myself up with an eFax account, so that I can deal with employers, and there are some, who apparently want to deal with applications only by fax. That seems like an unlikely way to get a job, but there it is. I sent off one application that way, although the position advertised a variety of possible positions rather than a specific one. I do not think it is very likely that I’ll get a call back or other followup on such an application but I suppose it is possible. It seems more likely that this is the “front end” of a recruiter attempting to fill up a database. Why fax rather than e-mail, though? Fax documents would have to be OCR’ed to be readable, since they show up as page images, rather than text. It’s a little baffling.

Anyway, now I have to buy the groceries that I didn’t get to buy either Saturday or Sunday…

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