September 24, 2004


Hey! Apparently, I've been digitized and put inside the Sims 2.

September 22, 2004

Bank of America: Aftermath

Contrary to what I was promised, my money was not returned to me at midnight last night. So, once again, I was on the phone with BofA. And, once again, they had no coherent explanation for what had happened.

Eventually, they hypothesized that maybe the banks on the East Coast were just a bit slow. Perhaps because of the recent hurricanes, they guessed. Apparently, in the world of BofA, hurricanes can steal your money.

About an hour ago, they ended up crediting my account so that I can at least withdraw money. The initial deposit is still on hold, because, you know, checks issued by other banks can't be trusted like BofA.

But just to review, my checking account was wrongly wiped out by the Bank of America and by way of explanation I was told:

  • the deposit had been lost
  • a teller had miskeyed the account information and had to be tracked down
  • the various BofA systems simply "don't work well together"
  • a hurricane stole it
And, of course, that this was completely out of the ordinary and has never happened to anyone. But would happen to me again, most likely.

September 21, 2004

Bank of America nightmare

On Saturday, I went to my local branch of the Bank of America and deposited a check. Because I originally opened my account in Maryland, I had to do an out-of-state deposit on the check. This, in combination with the fact that the check was more than the balance of my account, meant that a hold was placed on the deposit.

Fine. It makes sense. Even tho' the check was from a bank, they want to make sure it clears. I was a little shocked that this would take 15 days and suspected it took that long simply because they wanted to get some free interest on the transfer. But whatever.

This morning I tried to purchase a BART ticket with my debit card and got refused. Upon checking my balance online, I discovered that I was massively overdrawn. In fact, Bank of America had taken the amount of the check I'd attempted to deposit and *subtracted* it from my balance!

Not just put a hold on - but actually removed! I was left with the $6 in my pocket.

Thus began a long and terrible time trying to get my money back from the bank that stole it. The converstation involved a three-way call between BofA HQ, a branch in Maryland and the branch in SF. The conversation involved me being asked to describe the teller who had handled the transaction in an attempt to track down the wayward funds.

Everyone agreed that this was a ridiculous thing to have happened, but no one knew how it could possibly be fixed. "These systems just don't talk to each other well" was the best explanation I could get.

At midnight, I've been told, my pumpkin of a balance is supposed to turn back into a carriage. There's apparently a 24 hour time limit on this kind of insanity. But I've also been told that the same thing will happen should I do another deposit of this type.

When I asked why I should possibly want to do business with BofA again, it was suggested that I close my account and open a new one. One that's on a system "that makes sense." It's good advice I plan to heed.

Update: Day Two and BofA still has my money! Amazingly, the problem did not magically fix itself at midnight. How long before I file a robbery complaint?

September 18, 2004


Salon interviewed Seymour Hersh - the man knows stuff:

Is there someone who is the Henry Kissinger in this administration?

Oh, believe me, I pray for one [clasps his hands and looks beseechingly upward]. Wouldn't it be great if the reality was that they were lying about WMD, and they really didn't believe that democracy would come when they invaded Iraq, and you could go to war with 5,000 troops, a few special forces, a few bombs and a lot of American flags, and Iraq would fold, Saddam would be driven out, a new Baath Party would emerge that's moderate? Democracy would flow like water out of a fountain. These guys believe it.

September 16, 2004


photo credit: mbostock

September 14, 2004


At the start of Labor Day weekend, I dedicated myself to a mission. I was going to play the heck out of the new Square/Enix RPG, Star Ocean. I hadn't delved into an epic role-playing game in quite some time, but I figured I still had the obsessive chops needed.

I was wrong. I've managed to log some 30+ hours on the game but last night I finally surrendered.

To its credit, the Star Ocean battle system is a remarkable upgrade for the genre. The turn based system that's been around since before the first Final Fantasy games hadn't really changed in over a decade. In Star Ocean, they introduce a real-time, free range battle system where you have to actually, you know, fight to win battles. Figuring out how to string together combos is much better than scrolling through menus of neat effects you'd like to watch.

However, all of the other trappings of the anime-styled RPG remain. The obsessive collecting - in which you're presented with countless opportunities to spend untold hours making some counter creep toward 100%. The arbitrary role-playing elements - in which some dialog choice you make at hour 3 will shape events at hour 35. And, most devastingly, the preposterously convoluted plot.

The story is your basic "boy separated from his parents/turns out to be key to universal salvation" type deal. But then, at around hour 25, the twist happens and the "universe as reality tv show" plot emerges like a moist turd from betwixt the greaves of a blue-haired celestial warrior.

Anyway, I've had enough. And, luckily, just in time because my birthday present arrived today (thanks, Mom!) and I've got a new world of Xbox gaming to explore.

September 12, 2004


I left my house this morning wiping away grey cloud from my glasses. I was making yet another attempt to visit Angel Island and it looked like the whole thing might be spoiled by bad weather. But I biked out and met up with mbostock and together we hit the Embarcadero where we saw one of the laps of San Francisco Grand Prix come screaming by.

Those guys were flying ... especially the one guy who had somehow latched himself to a support vehichle and was being carried along as a crew member dangled out a passenger window to repair the bike's back wheel. Seriously. It was quite something to see but it was still fairly bleak weatherwise and we had yet to get to Fisherman's Wharf, our departure point and Home of All Things Indecent in San Francisco.

But we boarded the ferry and a short hour later (the ferry first went to Alcatraz and then to Tiburon) we exited the clouds and deboated on the sunny shores of Ayala Cove.

There are two bikeable roads that encircle Angel Island - the 5 mile Perimeter Road and the 3 mile Fire Road. We trekked up to the higher Fire Road, and despite being an lung busting climb, it was well worth it. As we rode along, we had amazing views of the Bay, both bridges, the City and Marin.

Additionally, the abandoned immigration buildings are spooky cool. And, I believe, my family once past through them when they first arrived in the New World from Poland (via Tokyo).

Tuckered out, Mike and I ferried home having biked the heck outta that island. Hopefully, I'll figure out how to make it back for some camping one day in the future.

September 11, 2004

Street fair

Walking home from dinner just now, I saw a trio of naked 3 year-olds come running down the steps of an upstairs apartment and squeal about on the sidewalk of my street. Their parents were attempting to round them up, but only half-heartedly.

I think it was some kinda toddler Burning Man.


September 09, 2004

September 02, 2004


I'm in LA today checking out some new cults working from Google's Santa Monica office. This morning at the airport, in front of snarled security checkpoint traffic, a TSA agent broke out into a operatic ditty about removing shoes. "Shoes! Shoes! Shoes!" it went.

It was at this point that I realized that air travel is just plain broken.

Haven't seen much of LA and we're flying back this evening. But, let me tell you, that smog thing is no joke. Descending into LAX, it looked like the Los Angeles basin had been topped off with a layer of greyish-orange foam. Yeech.