Friday, October 23, 2009

I wish to destroy Chase ATMs.

The story is thus: V. has a weird little Chase card instead of direct deposit. I regularly remove the cash from that account & keep most of it on hand. Today, the little door on the ATM machine didn't open. The machine and the account both say they gave me almost $600, but I'm damned sure I don't have almost $600.

Their claims process will take at least a week, and there's no real guarantee that Chase will find in our favor. If we're LUCKY, in a week we will have the amount refunded, will be able to feed ourselves. If we're UNLUCKY, and it is almost entirely luck, Chase will tell us that money is not being refunded. There's no telling what their "investigation" will reveal, especially since after I went into the bank to complain, two people seemed to use the ATM successfully. For all I know, one of them walked away with an extra $580 and a spring in their step. If so, that certainly won't help our chances.

Best part: I'm not on the "account", so I am completely impotent. I couldn't even vent my spleen with them on the phone after it happened. As such, there's a gap of over a half-hour from time of incident to the time V. called. V. made the snap decision and told them it was she who tried to pull the cash; if she explained that it was me, it would add light to the two or three futile attempts I DID make to call them, would give an idea as to why the gap between incident and report was so long. I understand her decision not to tell them that I knew her PIN and such. I'm simply unsure it was the best decision. It's done now, and everything is in the hands of Chase.

Am I alone when I say I don't find that very reassuring?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Halloween on the Cheap

I love Halloween. I still get a lot of joy from the creative effort I put into my costumes. Every time my outfit makes someone do a double-take, or laugh out loud, or give me a creeped-out sideways glance, I know every second spent was worthwhile.

The really beautiful thing is that, with a bit of creativity, you can have an excellent costume for almost no cost. Store-bought costumes are nice, but they can be really expensive, and they give you little room to put your own mark on things. People worry that they're not inventive enough, or that the effort involved won't be worth it. Most of the time, that's just not the case. Here are a few ideas and recipes that will hopefully help you create your own costume this year and enjoy doing so.

Basic Fake Blood (from 100% Pure Fake by Lyn Thomas, Kids Can Press, 2009)

This is a simple recipe for thin, drippy blood. It's messy and it will stain clothing and carpets. It'll also look good.

Stuff you'll need:

    • 125 mL (1/2 c.) corn syrup
    • 5 mL (1 tsp.) red food coloring
    • 3 to 4 drops of blue food coloring

What to do:

    1. Pour the corn syrup into a bowl. Add the food coloring. Mix well. Ta-da! Fake blood.

The Scraped Elbow or Knee Effect (from 100% Pure Fake)

With a Popsicle stick, smear some Basic Fake Blood onto your knee or elbow. Sprinkle on some dry coffee grounds. Blow away the excess. Presto - road rash without the pain.

Now, using these recipes as a starting point, let's put together some simple costumes!

World's Worst Biker/Jogger

Stuff you'll need:

  • Basic Fake Blood
  • Popsicle sticks or cotton swabs
  • dry coffee grounds
  • biking, sports, or some sort of general fitness clothing

What to do:

  1. Dig out the fitness clothes sitting in the bottom of your drawers: the spandex biker shorts & shirt, the sweat shorts, the outfit you wear while playing football or doing the American Gladiators Ultimate Workout.
  2. Find every exposed inch of skin below your neck.
  3. Use The Scraped Elbow or Knee Effect to give yourself a nasty scrape in each area. If you want to go the extra mile, add a really small one around one of your eyebrows.

Homework Casualty

Stuff you'll need:

  • Basic Fake Blood
  • duct tape
  • resealable plastic sandwich bag
  • sharpened pencils
  • a "throwaway" shirt (fake blood stains, after all)
  • a sheet of notebook paper

What to do:

  1. Fill the resealable plastic sandwich bag with Basic Fake Blood. Use duct tape to seal the top and reinforce the sides of the bag, then cover the front/outward side with duct tape, too.
  2. Have your child (or someone else's) write out some "homework" on the sheet of notebook paper. It'll look better if they press hard while writing, and especially good if they sort of trail off angrily at the end of the page.
  3. Find a spot on your chest, stomach, or back that isn't too hairy and tape the bag of blood to your skin, remembering to keep the duct-taped side facing outward.
  4. Put the soon-to-be-stained shirt on over the bag of blood.
  5. Position the page of "homework" over the bag.
  6. Here's the slightly tricky part: carefully stab the sharp pencils through the paper and shirt, into the bag of blood. Try to angle the pencils downward so they're less likely to fall. You can expect a good bit of mess during this step, so you'll probably want to be stabbed in the bathtub, in the kitchen, or even outside.
  7. Give the plastic bag one good, gentle press to get your wounds dripping, then take a little time to adjust your pencils for maximum protrusion and stability.

These are just a couple of simple, fairly quick ideas, but they're exactly the sort of thing to show that you put in some effort instead of simply handing over some cash. Feel free to expand on these costumes, or take the recipes for blood and scrapes and go in entirely new directions! The biggest thing is to be creative. Even a store-bought costume has room for improvement.

Have fun! Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

On Roman Polanski.

I don't always believe that The Law is The Last Word. Sometimes The Law should be lenient. Sometimes The Law should be changed. Sometimes The Law makes mistakes.

I'm not for rape. I have a daughter. I would kill the man or woman who hurt her in such a way.

If Polanski were captured and incarcerated all those years ago, justice would be served. He wasn't, and that is the biggest tragedy and mistake in this case.

The world has moved on and largely forgotten the deed itself. The victim works to find herself outside of this one event, works to keep it from being the life-changing horror that some of you wish it always was. The people who talk of bringing a criminal to justice are really doing no more than waving a past hurt in our collective face, shouting "WHY AREN'T YOU STILL CRYING?! YOU SHOULD BE SOBBING!! HE HURT YOU SO MANY YEARS AGO; DOESN'T THAT MEAN ANYTHING?!"

Maybe some of us don't want it to mean what you want it to mean.