Sunday, August 23, 2009

dates and fates

A few years back, I was looking for a date. So I ran a personal ad on Craigslist, stunning athletic male seeks leopard-skin pill box bomb shell, nothing freaky. I'm a plain kind of guy full of hope, and soon I got a response, then a meeting for coffee, with woman about my age of a half century.

She seemed nice, at first. Though, too, she expressed that her life at home was troubled, a husband had absconded with their life's loot, she had grown kids that didn't like her. The former boyfriend who committed suicide for no reason known to her, and they were dating at the time, made the nads shrink. There are some 'don'ts' in picking your mate. On the more normal plane, she had a job. She said she was a medical transcriptionist at a local psychiatric hospital. A well connected hospital.

We were chatting pleasantly on the phone when she told me that she had checked my psych history on her computer at work, and she was pleased to find that I have no history of mental illness in the United States for as far back as everything private went on-line. If I went nuts before then, like in the 1980s, I'm doing a great job of hiding it.

Using only my first and last name for her inquiry, she was able to find out if I had my head examined in New Zealand, and she could even find out if a general practitioner had prescribed me a psychiatric med, such a Xanax. She might have had half a romance novel in front of her if I had been involuntarily committed.

My date with an apparently unstable transcriptionist caused me concern. An amazing breach of privacy is possible by way of plain folks and an ominous network of computers. The right to privacy has been altered for the worse. On a bright spot, I'm probably playing with a full deck.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Piggish Banking

I wish this didn't have to sound like a Nervous Whiner Gets Hit With A Bill type story, but this having happened right after the federal bank bail out can bring it out in people who are normally cool as cream.
Put up with me while I explain.

My auxilliary checking account with, oh I won't say which bank, had been left in a poet's state of limbo. It was opened mainly to do transactions through pay pal and ebay, and my nerdy attempt at being an internet Tarzan mostly flopped. Haven't sold anything on ebay since early post-Bill Clinton.

So I didn't look as eagle-eyed as I should have for a while. The last bank statement tells me I owe the bank $181.00 in overdrafts. They added a nine dollar monthly service charge like mice on cotton, and when the remains of a weak but wiry bank account was all eaten in those fees, they shot out of the bull pen with an $8.00 a day overdraft fee. I slap shotted myself to the phone, with the depressing statement in hand.

The game of phone processing, digitized, shake-the-little-weasel-off-our-tails tactics were as annoying as your last chat with a bank by phone. I managed to get them to close the account and stop the overdraft fees from continuing, and thus growing into a Stimulus Package for Bank Swine. Just now I'm sounding out an F. Lee Baily/Johnny Cochran/Barry Scheck speech to lay on some petulent bank manager. I'm going to ask, nice as Marsha Clark, to scratch the fees and refund the money they stole. With Cochran waiting to get in the game. It should come off at least as good as Lance Ito at a weenie roast for not-well-liked jurisprudentials.

Parting words on the brass agates of banks, they're criminals. Criminals, criminals, criminals, criminals, criminals.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another Fatuous Policy Statement

A certain local city council person is pushing a bill that would force all used car dealers in the area to place tall shrubbery in front of their wee places of business. It's a beautification effort with flies in its Noxema. How are we to buy used cars if the lots are hidden behind a forsythia?

From Fort Duquesne Tunnel to the fresh air of Brentwood, Rt. 51 has about 300 sweet looking, old school used car lots. That stretch of about four miles, all of it mighty bad road, is, smooshed pavement alone, a heap uglier than chain link fence and used cars. And don't come screaming at me that used car lots all look alike. They are diverse, each it's own oasis, each a living thing. Hillary Clinton would probably like them.

When I rattle my muffler driving the stretch, I always think about what life must be like in the trailers and bungalows with fenced in cars. The lots are limpid little tracks of dirt with ginger houses for the used car salespeople to sit in. I always imagine them as tall, firm, honest men, waiting to sell their next car so they can get the wife the Serta Perfect Sleeper she needs for her back. What kind of fiend would want to hide that in bushes?