The credit shuffle

My son recently tried to expand his trust horizons and hit me up for my credit card number to make a purchase because he didn’t have a credit card.  The statement that he would pay me back after my adamant refusal to cough up didn’t hold much weight considering the thousands of dollars he had amassed over the years in loans, payments, presents and free lunches.

To be honest it was more than my lack of confidence in my son’s ability to control his expenditure that was holding me back, it was my lack of confidence in the banking system after a past-but-not-forgotten incident of fraud that could have been avoided if the bank’s so called ‘Falcon’ had been a little more diligent on his nest that day.

I’m a reasonably paranoid person.  My husband has another name for it but I won’t go there.  My Internet transactions involve my banking website and a small collection of trusted sites that I use on a regular basis.  I rarely deviate and I don’t like surprises.  My husband, however, is a different beast and I could find myself with two of something that he just had to have on eBay while he was bobbing around in the middle of the ocean with nothing to do one night.  When I saw an exorbitant tag way out of my safe-transacting price range during a general paranoid Internet check, I trained my sights on him and let him have both barrels.

To his credit, he managed to look like a stunned bunny caught in the bright lights momentarily because he wasn’t really sure – until he saw the statement.  He stopped sweating, shook his head and pointed triumphantly to the code next to the transaction – GB.  As he hadn’t been to Great Britain – ever – he was momentarily off the hook and shoved out of the way as I made a beeline for the phone to yell at a hapless banking operator instead.

After a 20-minute wait imagining our money disappearing at a rapid rate, I was finally put through to an operator who then put me through to a special fraud operator.  At this point I asked the special fraud operator if I hadn’t caught the faceless freak’s transaction what would have happened?

The simple and disconcerting answer to that was – nothing.  But they might have picked it up after three more large transactions.  So it was a good thing that I was online when it happened, they said.  Furthermore, they said, it would also have to be proven that we didn’t actually spend that money ourselves and when that was cleared up it  would then take at least eight weeks to get our money back.  It would also take two weeks or more for our new credit cards to be sent out in the mail.

Oh yeh?

I managed to get our new credit cards in less than a week by express post.   I also got our money back into our credit card in less than two weeks after a relentless campaign of twice-daily phone calls until they finally got sick of me and conceded defeat.  I take exception to being told that I might be lying about spending money in a country that I have never been to.  I also take exception to being told I will have to wait eight weeks for money that I haven’t even spent to be given back to me.  I’m pretty sure the bank has me on a special list with a red flashing light going off whenever they see my phone number on the screen – but I don’t care.  To be complacent and apathetic is worse than being vocal and annoying as far as I’m concerned.  At least I get my say and I get my way.

Give my son my credit card number?  I don’t think so.  I don’t even want the bank to have it.

The chicken run

I was back at the hospital recently picking up the much-anticipated trial drugs from the endocrinology department.

I am not a fan of many hospitals, this one in particular.  There were too many bad memories and needles to speak of but that generally all paled in comparison to the drive getting there.  I tried to pick my times carefully when I left so that they didn’t coincide with the 4wd brigade picking up their over-indulged and under-exercised kids on the 3 o’clock run – but alas, sometimes even the best laid plans had a tendency to go awry.

I managed to get myself to the hospital without too much fuss – apart from the red-faced, screaming redneck I managed to beat off the lights – which is another story best left to extolling the virtues of my turbo diesel VW over a feral-fur lined gas guzzler.  But I got in the door of the hospital 15 minutes early, so I was on track.

Unfortunately, I had overestimated my doctor’s confidence in my abilities to self-administer the required dosages and the hospital pharmacy’s speed of administration of a box of these dosages, so my estimated time of departure was delayed dramatically to approximately 15 minutes before school got out.  In retrospect I’m surprised that I was allowed to take home any sharp implements at all after dropping the NovoPen and nearly stabbing the doctor in the arm in my haste to speed things up a little.

I got out of there with the drugs on ice and my foot on the accelerator pedal in an attempt to get through the epicentre of the chaos and out the other side without too much anxiety.  I was a veteran of the kamakaze not-for-chicken’s run and although I knew all the shortcuts and secret runs, so did every other frustrated fractured personality on the Southside and it was  just a good verbal jousting away from a crowbar through the windscreen.

With an esky full of nonrefundables and an expiry date on patience, I decided that discretion and inventiveness would be the better part of valor when I spotted an ambulance in the outside lane.  As soon as I let it past, I was right behind it.  I managed to get a good 10 kilometres through the worst of it before we went our separate ways and I slowed down a little.  I’m surprised I wasn’t pulled up by the local constabulatory but I was high on what little adrenaline I had left so I didn’t care.

So shoot me.  I’ll be sticking needles in myself for the rest of the year to get a semblance of the quality of life back that most take for granted.  I’ll enjoy my moments when I can.

Personality plus

Well, my drug trials begin soon.  Not the kind that involve a criminal court and an angry mob, I’m talking about the needle-in-the-vein, guinea-pig-experimentation kind.  And I’m the guinea pig.

I’m not sure how I’m going to go, as the new drugs I have had to go onto in the last few months to ensure no contraindications on the trials have turned what would have been a mere mood swing beforehand into something out of a Bram Stoker novel.  My husband has taken to having his hand on the front doorknob after I get up in the morning just in case he has to go down to the shop for something he has ‘forgotten’ for a few hours until my medications settle down.

The upside of the whole thing is that even the local nutters are keeping away from me.  I think they figure I’m one of them now so their scare tactics will be better served on somebody a little more gullible and a little less likely to take a swing at them.  The greenies and their sympathisers are also giving me a wide berth.  Gossip gets around fast here and apart from the few that are privy to what is really going on, it is taken as a given that I may end up on the 6 o’clock news in the near future and they don’t want to end up on there with me.

I’m hoping that the new drug I will be given next month will balance me out or at least make me feel a little less likely to want to put my hands around the neck of that woman down the road who keeps telling me that it’s all in my head and I need to snap out of it.  I know what I’d like to snap and it’s not anything in my personal vicinity.

With any luck the real problem in my head, the remaining tumour, won’t grow and I will be feeling like a new person.  In the meantime, expect sarcastic comments, acid degradation of fools and zero tolerance for the masses for a few months more, at least.

So, what of it?

I think about a lot of things.  How things work, why things are the way they are, where we come from.  I read books on evolution and ancient man and subscribe to Darwin’s theory of evolution.  Having said that, I also understand that a theory is a collection of ideas intended to explain something and only based on the evidence or current views at hand.  Tomorrow may yield more palaeontological evidence that takes us down a completely different track.

Not even two hundred years ago it was believed that the earth was just a few thousand years old, everything was created as it is today in that time and that Earth was the centre of the universe.  Before that we were convinced that the earth was flat and we would fall off the edge if we got too close.  Enlightenment brought with it new and scandalous ideas.  Tomorrow there will be new theories to undermine the seemingly solid evidence of ancient man, his descent from the trees and his ascent to the modern Homo sapiens of today.

I puzzle over modern man and his idiosyncrasies.  Where did some of the shit we carry around come from?  I wonder if man’s propensity for hate, war, murder and anger is a remnant of the ancient brain geared for survival of the fittest in the inhospitable and dangerous stone-age world.  Millions of years of living in a savage environment, scratching out a meagre existence and fighting for survival would surely be ingrained into man’s genetics in some way over a very long period of time and come into play more often than the more ‘civilised’ of us would care to admit.

So I’m going to burn in hell for my opinions.  I’ve taken my ‘don’t-give -a-shit pill today so I don’t care.  There may even be a God.  I’m open to the conjecture of a higher entity of sorts running the show from beginning to end.  I’ve seen things that even quantum physics may not be able to explain – but I’m practical and world weary.  I fail to understand many of the religions of the world and what they propose.  I see the bigger picture around me every day in the actions and the reactions of the many involved in the game.

I have a few questions and theories of my own regarding the way it was, will be and very well may be in the distant future.  Scientific theory is only as good as the next big thing ripped out of the earth.  Nothing survives for extremely long periods of time, not even bone, and therefore what is dug out of the earth is but a small representation of what has gone before.  We have no real way of knowing what really happened, so we hypothesise and postulate but the truth still eludes us.  The same may be said of religions.  What is real and what is not?  Old stories and evidence abound but they are at odds with each other, steeped in centuries of secrets, violence and intrigue.  Religion has been, in the past, a way of controlling the masses through dominance and fear and the only congruent factor on the road to absolution is a belief in a higher being or entity – salvation, love and peace, which, in my opinion, is at odds with the pain, violence and intolerance that precedes it.

So what is real and what isn’t?  Who knows.  What I do know is that the world could use a good shake up.  We are only players in a bigger story.  Why expend valuable energy carrying the can for heresay?  Why believe in what has gone before implicitly?

Question everything.  If that is not possible, practice contraception.  The world could use a little less of what has gone before.

The renovation run

The last two-and-a-bit weeks have been a testament to my resilience while under duress, my tact, my dedication to the cause and my patience.  My mother will probably argue in regard to my habitual and distinct lack of patience of the past but I am nonetheless holding my own at present, amidst what resembles a disaster zone of dust, wood, plaster and more building implements that you could poke a stick at.

I had managed to remove myself and my office from the chaos and relocate temporarily to the lounge room to tap away quite happily, unperturbed by the screaming saws and nattering nail guns.  My Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones lived right up to their hype of complete noise cancellation until the builder systematically worked his way through the house plans and began pulling the main door out of the lounge room to build my new frame.

I decided, at this point, that dust was more hazardous to productivity than noise pollution, so I shut my operation down with some good sheeting and a bit of packing tape and headed out the door for some renovation retail therapy.

My first port of call was the local bathroom showroom to pick out some tasteful tiling to match and compliment the neutral overall colour scheme that I was aiming for, which should have been a snap, as I considered myself to be the Chief Art Director and Colour Coordinator of the household.  After two hours of wading through fancy Italian-look natural stone, stone lookalike, glazed porcelain, unglazed porcelain and marble lookalike, I was seeing double, so I decided on a travertine-type fancy stone lookalike without the Italian price tag.  I paid the deposit and left them to the order, continuing on my way to the carpet showroom down the road.

Picking out a piece of carpet was even more educational with a choice of commercial heavy duty loop, heavy duty twist, home and commercial heavy duty loop and twist and home heavy duty twist and loop.  I was pretty much over it by the time I reached the luxury shag line and made my choice on colour, durability and price and headed for the door.

I made it home in good time with the groceries in tow and was feeling pretty pleased with myself on a job well done.  My husband was looking pretty pleased with himself too when he pulled into the driveway with my vanity a half hour later – until he spotted my face when he opened up the top of the container.

‘You got the wrong one.’

‘Yeh, I know.  But this one is bigger.’ he shrugged.

It’s the wrong one.’

‘Yeh, you said that.  But it was the same price.’

‘It’s still the wrong one!’  I threw a piece of packing foam at him.

‘I got a bigger one for the same price,’ he ducked and smiled at me.  ‘I thought you would be pleased.’

‘What is it about being bigger and pleasing women that so fixates you lot!’  I screamed at him and started marching inside.  ‘You better tell the darn builder, because he’s going to want to know all about your bigger dimensions!’

Somebody snorted and I looked up to see the building crew lined up along the veranda watching the show.

I slammed the door to their chortling and left them to it.

My husband made peace later and bought me a bunch of flowers and the dust has metaphorically settled somewhat.  The bigger vanity managed to fit into the allotted space and the style was still in keeping with the overall appearance.

My husband tells me he was considering me when he picked the bigger vanity as I would have more space in which to put all my ‘junk’, but I’m not buying it until men all over the world are finally extolling the virtues of medium-sized 4wds, warships, planes, trains and condoms.

… and the saga continues…

It all kicked off.. as per previous posting.. with the rather innocuous subject of a few mozzies and methods of eradication in the local area and quickly blew out into a standoff between the island Green contingent and a few pissed off residents who live peacefully enough until provocation is turned into a proctology experiment and shoved up their nether regions.

Round two began when the local Progress Association decided that their opinion actually mattered, despite their lack of progress in any direction for the last few years – and chimed in with a few comments of their own that were swinging towards the draconian in regard to walking around in the dark, using lanterns and not driving cars anywhere so as not to pollute the environment.  This of course, was quickly contended, as I, and a few others around here felt that having a few rights as ratepayers – and a few lights around the place was not too much to ask for.  The Progress Associations’ commonsense was also questioned, as having more lights would actually help in being able to ‘see’ the wildlife –  before running them down in our modern, non-polluting vehicles.  There was also the added bonus of not stepping on any deadly snakes and falling down drains in the dark if one was not lucky enough to have a modern non-polluting vehicle.

Of course the poo hit the blender again and splattered in all directions as everything from council pot holes to the island ferry service came under fire.  Everybody had an opinion and a rebuttal, which all eventually descended into denigration post-haste after the pot was stirred continually with innuendo and gossip about personal habits.  The greens’  ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ ideology came under fire as comparisons to ‘Coronation Street’ were made on the lifestyles of the insane and definitely-not-so-famous island dwellers.

The final straw for yours truly and the catalyst for pressing that ‘delete group’ button came when the so-called educated lot began to show a distinct lack of  education by beginning a class-comparison exercise and posting an unrelated topic on how many university-educated-and-above lived on the island.  This was of course followed en masse by evidence of university degrees, how many, when done and how embarrassing it was to have to say so for the greater good of island statistics.

I for one know how many degrees I have – two.  Along with two diplomas and a few certifications.  I don’t need to clarify this to anybody else for the greater good.  I was there to do the study and the hard yards, not anybody else.  I have nothing to prove.  It would seem that for others, however, it is a power play and a social-separation exercise that is designed to make others look small and possibly feel small.  This was not the act of intelligence.  It was the final act of insecurity by an insecure lot of numb-skulls prepared to stoop low enough to win something that will be forgotten by me, and the majority of the population, next week.

Much ado about what?

It all started innocently enough.

A  comment or two on our Facebook community page about the problem of excessive mozzies on the island and some semi-helpful advice about what to do to eradicate the tiny terrorists – and the poo hits the blender.

‘Mozziegate’, as I like to call it now, began with the aforementioned general discussion and by the time it had finished I was throwing down the gauntlet to one particularly insulting individual who felt that along with telling us that we were all a pack of whingers and we should just suck it up without the aid of harmful repellents and pesticides –  it was also okay to post away hourly after that with innuendos about other chat participants’ mental processing capabilities.

Unfortunately, the above individual is affiliated with the  ‘Green’ contingent dotted about the island.  As they are living alternatively in this alternate-living environment, they feel that it is necessary to point out conservation, green issues, living clean and saving-the-whale stuff to the rest of us who should know better.  I, for the most part, ignore them, as I am reasonably aware of what I need to do in life without having it shoved up my nose every five minutes – but like most species, the Green-agitator is at his most annoying with a bit of bravado in a pack, so it has been game-on around here for a while now and my patience is wearing pretty thin.

To be honest, I was doing well to ignore the nutter and had planned on turning the other cheek until the wife joined the fray and asked us all to be fair and nice to each other which, incidentally, we were all doing quite well with until her husband put his oar in.

I told her as much and I also told her that as they knew where I lived, they were quite welcome to come around and discuss it with me personally – my husband would love to meet a man who used the anonymity of  a social networking medium to bully others.

In the scheme of things, however, Shakespeare was right.  It all really is ‘much ado about nothing’ and unless you can grasp that concept, your life will be like the above-mentioned scenario in varying formats.  Get a grip, I say, and write a blog about it all to get it into perspective and get it off your chest.  It’s much more cathartic than a few pills and a square box.  The added bonus is that even though the names have been changed or not even mentioned to protect the innocent and/or insane, it’s nice to get it out there.  You know who you are…. you green-back fruitcake.

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