Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Can't Drive 55

So, in my continuing transition to one musical medium (iTunes), I have been creating play list versions of mix tapes and cds that I made in the past. Between the new play lists I have created since moving over to iTunes and the ones I have recreated, I have 55 play lists, not including the ones that iTunes creates automatically.

This might seem a bit excessive. However, as I am 49 songs away from a 13,000 song library with music in 72 genres, I actually think that is a modest number of play lists. I need to get making more. Actually, the one I started to assemble tonight (with a "fall/back to school" theme), is rather crummy, and I need to rethink it. I want to incorporate more Sonya Cotton, an artist that my friend Mem introduced me to a few weekends ago.

Music has always been such an integral part of my life. I know I don't listen to albums the way I did when I was in high school and college (playing the album over and over while reading the liner notes so that I could absorb all of the lyrics and tweak every ounce of meaning out of them); at the same time, music isn't something that I just have playing in the background. Some music speaks to me more loudly than others, and I definitely need to be in certain moods to listen to particular artists.

I think that I always secretly (or perhaps not so secretly) desired to be a DJ. (I love you, Julie Kramer! Where did you go, Angie C?) I don't think that it would surprise most people that I thoroughly embraced the novel High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. I frequently think about the songs that would play on the soundtrack of my life. To blatantly rip off Mr. Hornby, here are the top 10 songs on the soundtrack of my life, in no particular order:
Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen
Taxi Ride by Tori Amos
Come Fly with Me by Frank Sinatra
Never Let Me Down by Depeche Mode
London Calling by the Clash
Moonglow by Benny Goodman
Here Comes Your Man by the Pixies
Calypso by John Denver
The Tide is High by Blondie
Parklife by Blur

Bonus Song: Mellie's Coming Over by Letters to Cleo (for obvious reasons)

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Last of the Summer Herbs

Urban herb garden
Originally uploaded by melliemels.
I have a little urban herb garden set up in flower boxes outside my bedroom window. In one box, I have parsley and basil, from which I have been making delicious pesto. In the other I have chives, dill, sage, and rosemary. The sage I grew from seeds and it took FOREVER for the plants to grow, so next year, I will buy the plants ready grown instead.

It has been nice having a little summer garden. It would be even nicer if the plants could survive the cold weather, but I am not counting on it. So I am enjoying them while I still can. I will have to think of something clever to make with the rosemary. Maybe rosemary scones??

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Satan Strikes Back: Customer Service or the Lack of It, Part 2

Well, Satan's Bank is back at it again, and shame on me for not canceling my account when I said I was going to.

I went to check my balance on my credit card on line yesterday and logged into what was supposed to be my credit card account. Except according to their website, I didn't have a financial account associated with my user ID. Oh, really? That's news to me.

Because I really didn't want to deal with the situation at the time, I dismissed the problem as a web issue and figured that I will try to access my account when I get home from work, where I ran into the exact same problem.

So I call Satan's Bank and talk to a customer service rep, who confirms that the account was closed on Tuesday. I was incredulous. When I asked her why, she told me she couldn't tell anything other than a fraud alert had been placed on the account. When I asked the very reasonable question, "by whom?", she had no answer, although she suspected that a vendor I had used may have reported that their security was compromised. (That is my phrase; the way she described it was not remotely as concise.)

I then said to the rep, "Well, I purchased a several things today using my card at the post office and Whole Foods. Did those purchases go through?" The answer is "yes", despite the fact that the card is supposed to be "closed." So is it okay to use my card still? "No." Will my scheduled on line payment still go through okay? "Yes". (It had better.)

Then I asked when I should expect to get the replacement card; the answer is 7 to 10 business days. When I asked what I should do in the meantime, she answered, "well, don't you have another credit card?" All I could think was, "You have got to be kidding me." Now I am lucky enough to happen to have a back up card, but what about the people who don't because of the credit crunch??

I am completely disgusted. This bank can spam and junk mail me to death with emails about balance transfers, but can't make me aware of the fact that they are closing my credit card due to a security breach for the second time this year? When asked what I should do while I wait for them to fix the problem, I am told to use another credit card? Well, I intend to do that, and I don't plan on using their card again. (I am also planning on reporting this to the consumer assistance office of the state division of banks.) I didn't sign up to be their customer; they bought out my original credit card company. In the future, I do my best not to become their customer again.

How I long for the days of the little community bank.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test."

While watching the President's address to a joint session of Congress tonight, several of my friends and I were texting back and forth about the high and low points in the speech. We also noted the reference to Senator Kennedy in the speech and got choked up. (::sob sob:: Also, Congressman Patrick Kennedy still looks like he needs a hug, a cup of tea, and some peanut butter M&Ms.)

I think that is is cool that my cell phone's predictive text comes up with "Obama" every time I start a word beginning with the letter "o".

(Congressman Wilson, heckling the President by yelling "lie" during the session was not a very classy move.)

Stacie D had the perfect way of summing up the evening: "We watch politics like most people watch sports." So true. I just wish we had a cool "Democrats" hats.

Down the Cape

Over the weekend, I went to Chatham with my aunt. We parked the car and took a walk around the town. It was a beautiful day, and I was able to get some pretty nice photos.

Chatham Light Front porch Americana
On the front porch Americana Hydrangeas
Dories Garden gate

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In a Jam

On Saturday, September 5, around 11:20am, I was in my car driving from the Wrentham Outlets down to the Cape to visit my aunt for the long weekend when I got caught up in a major traffic jam. Traffic came to a complete halt for about 45 minutes while a medical helicopter, two ambulances, two tow trucks, and two fire trucks were brought in to deal with the situation.

By the time that traffic started moving again, there was no sign of what had happened, but the last of the firetrucks was only about a quarter of a mile from where I had stopped. There but for the grace of God go I, right? There was nothing about the accident on the news; hopefully the people involved will be all right.

This is what I-495 South looks like when it does an impersonation of the parking lot at Gillette Stadium:
Traffic Jam on 495 Traffic Jam on 495
Traffic Jam on 495 Traffic Jam on 495

However, because we were stopped, I got to take a better look at my surroundings. There really are some beautiful things along the sides of the nation's highways.
From I-495

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I keep reading criticisms of Senator Kennedy and the Catholic funeral he received on Saturday in light of the fact that he was 1. divorced, 2. pro-abortion, and 3. responsible for the accident in Chappaquiddick that resulted in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.

I grew up attending Catholic schools, and the thing that I keep coming back to are the Works of Mercy (thanks, Sr. Irene!):
Corporal Works of Mercy
* Feed the hungry
* Give drink to the thirsty
* Shelter the homeless
* Clothe the naked
* Care for the sick
* Visit the imprisoned
* Bury the dead

Spiritual Works of Mercy
* To admonish the sinner (correct those who need correction)
* To instruct the ignorant (teach the ignorant)
* To counsel the doubtful (give advice to those who need it)
* To comfort the sorrowful (give comfort to those who suffer)
* To bear wrongs patiently (be patient with others)
* To forgive all injuries (to forgive others who hurt you)
* To pray for the living and the dead (to pray for everyone who needs our prayers)

"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?' And the King will answer them, 'I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me." (Matthew 25: 37-40)

Certainly the work that Senator Kennedy (and his staff) had done for the people of Massachusetts, including (although not limited to) the family members of the people killed on 9/11, would count for something with his naysayers. I didn't want to put this thought in the comments on the post I was reading because I didn't want to start a war with the "haters", but I have a hard time dealing with Catholics who are critical of the Senator's political positions and who don't have compassion in them to see the bigger picture or to have the heart to forgive him. He was a man who made mistakes like the rest of us (some of them were bigger than the mistakes that most of us make), but, because of his office, he also did good things on a far greater scale than most of us are able to do.

Not at all like waiting for the Great Pumpkin

Back in July, JR and I went to the Forest Hills Cemetery Lantern Festival, which we had gone to three years ago. We got there on the later side, and my camera's battery was dying, but I still managed to grab a couple of decentish photos.

Nothing says "New England" like a cemetery at night.
Lantern Festival 2009 Lantern Festival 2009
Lantern Festival 2009 Lantern Festival 2009


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