Thursday, February 28, 2008

Phone Banker Fee Refunded, FTW!

I check all my financial accounts through Yodlee pretty compulsively consistently, and tonight I noticed an odd $2 charge from "Phone Banker Call 01/30". Now, $2 is not a big deal, but not having any idea what the charge is does bother me, so I called up my bank to see if they had any more information on what the charge was.

The customer service rep told me that it was a fee from Wells Fargo itself, for speaking to a banker about something that the automated phone system could have handled. He listed off the types of services that count, and all of those things I do exclusively online. I hate the phone and avoid it wherever possible; simple things that the automated phone system could handle, I would just do online myself. I said as much, and added that I couldn't remember making any such phone call.

He very politely, and without any prompting on my part, offered to refund the fee. FTW! It's only $2, but I don't recall doing the thing they say they charged me for, so I'll have the fee refunded, thankyouverymuch. :)

If I had made such a phone call, I think I would have remembered if the banker had mentioned at the end, "Oh, and by the way, this call just cost you $2 in fees. Have a nice day." I don't recall ever knowing that such fees were possible. I assume that somewhere buried in the fine print of the Terms of Service it's been updated to say this fee exists, but overall it seems pretty shady and lame to me.

Some quick Googling shows that this fee isn't new after all. Blogger Toby Getsch wrote about this in 2006, and the Oakland Tribune in 2003. If Wells Fargo ATMs weren't everywhere, I would have dropped them several years ago... *sigh*


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

xkcd "Helping" Comic

The web comic xkcd is generally awesomely nerdy; self-described as "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language." It's usually very funny in a geeky way. But every now and then, it's pretty heavy, emotionally speaking.

I just wanted to share this comic. As someone who wants to "make" other people happy but knows that it's not really possible, this comic really touched a nerve with me. (And with others, too.)


Sunday, February 10, 2008

THE Lasagna

THE Lasagna

This is the lasagna. The lasagna to which all other lasagnas are compared... and found lacking. This is my mother's lasagna. It has ruined me for anything but this recipe; I no longer order lasagna in restaurants, despite liking lasagna, because I know I will be disappointed by the restaurant's poor imitation of my mother's lasagna. I recommend you never try any, lest you be forced to cook your own lasagna from scratch forever after.


Mochas Seduce My Wallet


As you can see, mochas (the bulk of my "café" purchases) are the bane of my wallet. On the one hand, I do enjoy them. I don't think that all spending is bad if you feel you get proportional pleasure out of it and there aren't cheaper options that are equally good.

So I enjoy my mochas while sitting in bookstore cafés... But I'm not sure I'm actually getting $80(!!) worth of pleasure out of them each month. That's like a mocha a day. What was I doing in August?? Two mochas a week seems more than sufficient for me, and that would only be $26 a month ($3.25 × 2 × 4). Huh. So I suppose I buy café foods along with my mocha far more often than I thought I did...

Like I said, I'm not against buying mochas and food per se, since I do enjoy the experience of consuming them while sitting in bookstore cafés. But I am against mindless, unconscious spending. I really wasn't very aware that the café purchases were adding up so fast, and sometimes I do just buy the mocha at the bookstore out of habit.

So. Hopefully I can keep track of "Have I had 2 mochas this week yet?" in my head from now on. :P


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Starting at Microsoft

Yesterday was my first day at Microsoft as a fulltime SDE (that's Software Design Engineer, if you don't know your Microsoft alphabet soup). The first day and a half is devoted to NEO: New Employee Orientation. Lots of videos and talking and going over the thick packets of information we were given.

I haven't been able to get in touch with my manager yet. I tried calling yesterday at the end of the day, but he didn't pick up and I just assumed he had gone home. No big deal. I called again today (during the lunch break in our orientaion, which I'm also using to write this post) and again he didn't pick up. This time I left a message, and in any case I'm heading over to his office after orientation. He will not evade me forever. :)

From chatting with my fellow new-hires, it's been nice to see that I'm not the only one who's really vague on what, exactly, I'll be doing on my team. :P But I should be finding that out later today, so it's all good.

Unfortunately, there are only two computers here with internet access for us to use during this hour-long break, and someone's just showed up to stand in line behind me, so I'd better go find some other way to pass the time. :)


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Way Too Much Beef Stew

Broth Added to Slow Cooker

The first recipe I decided to try out in my shiny new slow cooker was beef stew. I found the recipe in my cookbook, which said it was good for both medium and large slow cookers. Great! I thought, My slow cooker counts as "medium" for this book, so we're good to go!

Do you see where the flaw in this logic might be?

So if the amounts in the recipe are good for both a medium and large slow cooker, and my slow cooker is at the small end of this cookbook's "medium" scale... Yup, it made waaaaaay too much beef stew for my poor little medium slow cooker. Being the oblivious, inexperienced cook that I am, I didn't realize this fact until I'd already added the carrots and potatoes, cooked all the meat, and mixed in the celery and onion. Only when I went to scoop the meat mix into the slow cooker did I realize there was no way it would all fit and still leave the recommended 2-inch gap at the top.

So I pulled out all the carrots and potatoes, divided all the ingredients in two, and immediately refrigerated one half. I then refilled the slow cooker, this time with only half of the ingredients. Four hours later, I cooked up some rice and had a very yummy, very tender beef stew for dinner. :)

There still remains one problem, however. Just a half-batch is almost too much food for me. There is at least 4 more servings I can get out of my leftovers, and that's not counting the second batch that I'm cooking up now. Oi! I'm hoping I can give some of it to my local friends...

Update, 6:10 PM: Hey... couldn't I freeze the excess? What wonders of modern technology!


Friday, February 1, 2008

Photos of Oaxaca

Feed-subscribers, beware: I've updated my Oaxaca (December 2005) posts to include photos that I only uploaded after the fact. Now the blog posts from my Oaxaca trip are colorful and photography, but it does mean that the posts may pop up in your feedreader.

In less happy news, I seem to be missing a large chunk of the photos I took in Oaxaca. :( I have two hard drives that are inaccessible — the one in my old broken laptop, which may or may not even work, and the one in Jhorjhelle, the server staying at my parent's house that needs a new motherboard fan. I hope the photos are intact and will eventually become accessible again...


Moblog Test

Testing whether mobile blogging still works. I haven't tried it since the switch to the new Blogger.

Bah. Apparently Blogger no longer applies a moblog-specific template anymore. Hrm...


Compulsive Furniture-Moving Neighbors Upstairs

I'm convinced that my upstairs neighbors are some sort of compulsive furniture movers. Multiple times a week — and usually late in the evening — I hear loud dragging noises from the apartment above me. This isn't your typical annoying-neighbor squeaky springs problem. This is dragging heavy furniture around the apartment. Why do they do this?? There is never a need to rearrange your living space so frequently.

Update, 12:27 PM: Omg, it's so loud right now it's actually resonating. :(