here phishy, phishy, phishy.

From: service @ chase. com <>
Reply-To: "service @ chase. com"
Date: Mar 27, 2006 11:28 AM
Subject: CHASE Account Security Measures Notification [ Account Suspended 02:45:10 DST-0400 UTC]

Chase Bank Online. Department Notice

You have received this E-mail because you or someone else had used your
Account from different locations.
For security purposes, we required to open an investigation on this matter.

In order to safeguard your Account , we require you to confirm you Banking Details.

We recently have discovered that multiple computers have attempted to log into your CHASE Bank Online Banking account, and multiple password failures were presented before the logons. We now require you to re-validate your account information to us. If this is not completed by March 27 2006, we will be forced to suspend your account indefinitely, as it may have been used for fraudulent purposes. We thank you for your cooperation in this manner.

Please Click Here or on the link below to re-validate your account information :


Please note:
If we do not receive the appropriate Account Verification within 48 hours , we will
assume this Chase Bank Account is fraudulent and it will be suspended. The
purpose of this Verification is to ensure that your Bank Account has not been
fraudulently used and to combat fraud from our Community.

Dear Sir or Madam:

I have recently heard rumors that certain despicable scoundrels have been trying to cheat innocent and unsuspecting individuals such as myself by sending them what appears to be a legitimate email from a legitimate source asking for sensitive financial information. These emails may even come in the guise of a security alert, saying that the user must validate an account to ward off fraudulent use. Perhaps you have heard of this terrible event as well. Since I know that the Chase Bank is a very reputable company, one that works to protect its customers, I would like to make a suggestion in regards to your recent email to me so that your customers will not confuse your email with one from someone who finds him or herself hard up for cash, integrity, and basic decency.

I was surprised to read your email, not only because of its contents, but also because I would have thought that an email from a company such as the Chase Bank would have been not only spell-checked, but checked for grammar and punctuation as well. You might want to invest in someone more familiar with the English language to write your form letters. I realize that English-speakers, particularly ones with a basic high school understanding of the language, are hard to come by these days and probably cost more. You, no doubt, are passing along the savings of hiring nonnative speakers to me, the customer. However, I think that some customers might be suspicious of such a poorly-written letter from a veritable giant in the financial world. I think that you will have more luck with making your customers feel secure if you take that extra effort to proof your communications, and I can tell that security is clearly your top priority. This is a mere suggestion, and as you are an old and established successful company, you probably know what's best in your business.

Also in regards to your email, I was very distraught to find that my account with the Chase Bank might be invalidated on this very day because I had not acted quickly enough to verify my information. I had actually been out of town when I received the email and had I not checked my email this morning, I might not have been able to verify my account in time to protect it from suspension. Then I remembered that I don't have an account with the Chase Bank. Therefore, feel free to suspend my account in the name of security. Seeing as how I was completely unaware of its existence, I wasn't using it anyway. Thank goodness for people like you protecting the little people like me from the stinking, rotten, filthy crooks out there. You just can't trust anyone anymore, but I feel better knowing that the Chase Bank is doing its utmost to uphold the rights of the people.




I know that I already wrote my token March Madness entry, but I can't think of anything else to write about, so screw it.

My bracket got all shot to crap this weekend. I had 10 of the Sweet Sixteen teams, and I have 0 Final Four teams. I was in second place last Thursday, and though I'm still not far down in the points, I'm in the uncomfortable position of having picked teams to win games in which they are not even participating. That would be some kind of NCAA miracle. No office pool money will be coming my way, and now I have only one consolation: with my own personal interests out of the way, I can root for anyone I please.

I am a rotten gambler. Not just because I am mostly uninformed about what I'm betting on, not even because I find it difficult to not pick teams that happen to live within a couple of hours from here. I am a rotten gambler because when it comes to the games, I still want to pull for the underdog. It's the worst during the first couple of rounds. There are always the big upsets, the thirteen seed over the four, the twelve over the five, etc. I look down at my bracket and I see that I have that number four team going to the Final Four. I know that if they lose now, I might as well count my $5 for lost. But man, look at those poor thirteen-seeders, the college players with no chance of ever seeing NBA action on teams which may be making their second or third or even first tournament appearance in tournament history. How can you not root for them? They've got the audacity to show up and give this nationally ranked team a good run for our entertainment and their own advancement, the least we can do is cheer as they try to make the unthinkable come true. These are not the hot shots who have spent the season making the play of the day, having every single one of their games televised across the nation. These are the little guys who seemed to come from nowhere because no one is really sure where exactly their little college is located.

Underdogs are inspiration all in themselves, and I think their seeming obliviousness to the futility of their goal is something that appeals to all of us. I can think of maybe two times in my athletic history where I was not the underdog, and more often than not, I was more like the six-feet-underdog. All of us can imagine being the champion, the big shot, but all of us can relate to being the nobody.

It got to the point this year where I considered not participating in the office pool next year. The conflict of interest was too much for me. I like this little team and I want to root for them, but I also like my five dollars and the opportunity of increasing it ten-fold. I'm just not sure that mere mortals are cut out for this kind of internal distress. I understand that betting in a pool is just supposed to be fun and that you're really more paying for the entertainment value. But honestly? I was already pretty entertained.

So as I wave goodbye to my money and wonder whether I got five dollars worth of entertainment filling in a bracket and then later delightedly highlighting the games I'd picked right, I look at the current standings and wonder who in the world would have ever picked an eleven seed to be in the Final Four. Probably nobody except the players' mothers. I picked them to go down in the very first round and I was noticeably quiet as I watched them upset UNC in a house full of jubilant NC State kids. I didn't bet on them before, but I'm pulling for them now.


wine-y things.

Let's make it a wine three-fer, shall we?

Thing 1: Dr. Bob has met everybody.
And I mean everybody. I'm not just talking about the kind of everybodies that make wine dorks choke on their sample tastings of Cabernet with awe and jealousy. He knew Timothy Leary. Calls him Tim. He hung out with Ken Kesey. And - he used to work with the guy that played Lazar Wolf in the movie version of "Fiddler on the Roof." Okay, so Ken Kesey was probably a lot more important, but man, Lazar Wolf. Dr. Bob is awesome.

Thing 2: Science is romantic.
I'm taking only one class this semester, called Wine and Grape Science. Wine seems to be a straightforward enough beverage: you grow a grape, you squash it, you wait awhile, you name it something in french, you drink it. Voila! It's easy to forget that fermentation is a scientific phenomenon. Plus, I am here to tell you that there is a whole crapload of science behind making wine. It's true that there does not have to be: a lot of winemakers forego the scientific aspect, I suppose because it's not very romantic or because they don't know how. Ah, but science is romantic! Anyway, I'm loving this class. We do basic chemistry experiments that expose certain qualities of a wine and then we talk about how the science stuff translates into the taste of the wine. I think this is part of what I like about wine: it combines science and art. I have a similar feeling about computer science - yes, it is technical, but to be good at it, you need imagination. Wine is the same way. You can do all the measurements you want to help you along the way to great wine, but at the end of the day, you still have to taste it and judge it on very subjective terms. Me, I like to use both halves of my brain, and winemaking is a much better way to do that than, say, writing technical manuals.

Thing 3: I know what I'm doing.
I have this wine day-by-day calender for 2006 that I bought at the Dollar Tree when the year was about 1/6 over. It has various tips and trivia and wine etiquette guides, but it also occasionally has a recommendation for a bottle of wine to try. A lot of them are in $20-$30 range, which is a little high for me to buy solely based on description. But if the description sounds enticing and the price tag looks reasonable, I'll head down to my local wine superstore and pick up a bottle. There are so many wines out there that you really have to be kind of adventurous in your tasting. I was doing just that a couple weeks back - there was a $7 bottle of Spanish wine that was recommended. I found it on the shelves and noticed that right under the supply of bottles was a copy of the page from the very same calender that I had. In fact, I had a matching page in my back pocket. A salesman happened by, a little garrulous guy with a stereotypical New York accent who I like quite a bit because he's so enthusiastic. He wanted to see what I had picked out and was immediately impressed. I almost pulled out my calender page, but I was so flattered at the fact that someone thought I actually knew what I was doing in this vast and varied wine world that I decided to let the ruse stand. In fact, I was so flattered that I bought a bottle of a wine that he recommended to me based on the one I was already buying. Hrm. I bet he compliments everyone on what they're buying.



Last Thursday morning, I'm staring at an empty bracket, trying to decide who is favored to win in a contest between two college basketball teams which I know nothing about. Hmm, Wichita State Shockers? What kind of a mascot is that? Nah, they're never gonna win anything.

My bracket completed, I was all ready to hand it in along with my $5 to the guy who runs our office pool. I feel no remorse for the fact that I just used up fifteen minutes of company time to fill out a bracket, since this pool is obviously company-approved. They did hand out the blank brackets during a company-wide meeting and encourage everyone to participate. But before I hand in what is sure to be another losing prediction, I decide to print out another bracket so that I can make a copy of my prediction. Last year, I forgot to do this, and so I had no idea how well or badly I was doing in the pool. Okay, I knew that I was doing badly, but I like to know just how badly.

I turn to Google and type in the words "NCAA bracket." The first link that pops up is for CBS SportsLine. I click it, and am directed to my company's web page. Huh. That's weird. I hit the Back button to return to the Google results, and try hitting the CBS link again. Once again, I find myself staring at the same logo that graces the building where I now sit. This cannot be a coincidence. Suddenly, I realize: busted.

Feeling a little guilty about using company time to play games, since I've obviously now been caught at it, I go back and hit the second link that Google gave me. This time, I am able to print out a clean bracket without a glaring reminder of who paid for the 15 minutes I just spent. On my way back from the printer, I stop to talk to the web site guy. I might as well confess, now that my hands are bright red anyway.

What I didn't know was this: CBS SportsLine is streaming the games of the first three rounds live this year over their website. Our network guy, hearing of this, decided to block that site so we weren't all sitting at our desks, using up the company's bandwidth. It was only a lucky chance that Google returned the same site as the first choice for a bracket search. The network guy didn't figure that anyone would even run into the blocked site.

I was the first person to discover the block, but since all this happened to me before any games even started, my bracket story was believed, and I was declared innocent of trying to watch the games on the clock. Later that afternoon, however, Roger was not so lucky.


puberty of a cold.

I'm in the voice alteration stage of a sinus infection. I've had enough of these things to know how they affect my body. The first day, I have a sore throat, as well as a lingering feeling of needing to hock something out of my throat without being able to. This stage is followed by a couple of days of steady coughing, sneezing, and overwhelming snot production. Then comes the voice change, which is accompanied by a decrease in the snot production, and finally, recovery.

The trouble with my current stage is that it's so much more noticeable than the others. I've been blowing my nose to the point of rawness for two days now, but when my "Good Morning" sounds like something you'd hear from a veteran smoker, people stare and ask, "Holy crap, what's wrong with you?" This question never fails to irritate me, because it's the same thing that's been wrong with me for about days now, thanks for noticing. People avoid me or start giving me suggestions for cures when I'm already on the brink of recovery. In fact, the voice change usually comes at the same time as a remarkable improvement in my well-being, so I'm actually feeling a heck of a lot better, I just sound worse. By now, it's too late for sympathy.

People at work, in their misguided efforts to make me feel better, tell me that I should go home, I'm sick! I repeatedly tell them, "I feel better than I sound." Most likely, the day when a day of rest would have benefitted me most had already passed. They urge me to go home, so much that I begin to suspect them of trying to get rid of me so that they won't catch whatever it is that is making me sound so awful. And I just think, Ha ha! You suckers, you've already caught it.

That makes me feel a little better.



It's Thursday night, and I do not want to shave my legs.

This is the schedule of my existence: Monday thru Friday evening, I live a miserable Josh-less existence, spent going to work, pining, attending my wine classes, pining, and calling him up on the telephone and pining for him out loud to him. Friday afternoon, I leave work early and drive one hour and forty minutes to Raleigh. Upon my arrival in Raleigh, I spend wonderful quality Josh-full time. At 7:30 Sunday night, I sigh that I have to go soon. At 8:30 Sunday night, I say I have to go. At 9:30, I say that I really have to go, and at 9:45, I leave. Then I drive the hour and forty minutes back (stopping in Mebane to get gas and a snack). Upon my arrival home, I call Josh again to tell him that I got home safely before I pass out in my bed, only to wake up Monday morning, my heart heavy with Josh withdrawal.

You'd think I was sixteen years old.

Oh, don't worry. I know that it is ridiculous. I am fully aware that it is high school all over again. I don't care. I have the benefit of high school romance without making all the stupid mistakes that I made in high school. I make new, adult mistakes.

Mondays are the worst. Tuesdays still suck pretty bad. I start to see the light of the weekend on Wednesday, and by Thursday, I am excited because I am so close to going to Raleigh again that I can actually do prep-work. I always intend to pack on Thursday nights, but I get lazy and don't. I do shave my legs on Thursday nights. Probably the only advantage to a boyfriend you see once a week is only having to shave that often.

But now it's Thursday, and it's starting to get to be the time when I usually head to bed, but I haven't shaved my legs yet. And I don't particularly want to do it. Every time I shave my legs, I'm again amazed that it only took twenty minutes or so and wasn't really that painful. It's just getting up the impetus to do it. I am tired. I had a long day at work. I just did this crap last week. Et cetera.

I can't pretend that he won't notice. If you're not familiar with the afflictions of dark-haired females, let me just tell you that a lack of body hair is not something we suffer from. And, nice boy that he is, he'll probably pick my poor tired feet into his lap and rub them tenderly while I gaze adoringly at him, and then he'll cut his finger on my stubbly ankle hair. I suppose I could just not let him massage my feet, but what kind of a solution is that?

It's not as if he would care. He would laugh and say, "Stubbly Sandra" and then keep going. He's had serious girlfriends before, he knows the deal. He knows that girls don't have pillow fights in their underwear, he knows that we burp and sweat, and he knows that we don't shave regularly in the winter. He understands that if he is in the position to see a girl's legs in the winter, then he is in a position of privilege and he can't go complaining about the state of things.

But I am afraid to not shave. Not because he will care, but because it will seem to me that the honeymoon is over. Not the literal honeymoon, just that sweet time in the beginning of a relationship when everything is new and you still always want to be at your very best around the person. I am more than comfortable enough with him to let him see my legs unshaven, it's just the fact that I still want to be special for him.

Maybe it's too late for all that, and razors or not, the honeymoon is over. That's not so bad. I know people who call it boring, but there's a lot to be said for being completely comfortable around someone. I suppose I shouldn't worry about having hairy legs around a guy who has seen me throw up. And I admit to being strangely charmed by the way he picks his nose in front of me. I just want the best of both worlds: a man who doesn't make me feel like I have to shave my legs, but for whom I still want to.

And now that I've made you all nauseated from the syrupy state of my relationship, I'm going to go shave my legs, because it's Thursday, and I am in love.


let it go.

A spacious, but windowless office, late afternoon. A young, attractive, yet completely competant-looking woman is sitting at a large desk working on her computer. New Trainee enters, Sandra makes a hasty yet deft movement with her mouse to hide the internet browser.

New Trainee: I need a short function for the install that finds the parent directory.

Sandra: Oh, actually, I have one. I wrote it a while back. I'll email it to you.

New Trainee exits. Ten minutes pass.

New Trainee: Hey, Sandra, that code you sent me doesn't work.

Sandra's eye twitches.

Sandra: It doesn't work? What does it do?

New Trainee: It gets the grandparent directory, the one above the one I want. I was going to modify it but I didn't understand the code.

Sandra's eye twitches again, more noticeably this time.

Sandra: Oh. I wrote that a while back, so I don't really remember it much. If it's getting the wrong directory, you can just modify it to get the child directory of the one it's getting now.

New Trainee: Also, it doesn't work if there's a backslash at the end.

Sandra: There's a function to remove the last backslash, just use that.

New Trainee: Oh yeah, I've used that before. Well, it still doesn't get, I mean it doesn't work anyway.

Sandra: Okay, then modify the code so that it does.

New Trainee: Oh, okay. (Exits.)

Sandra sighs heavily. She is obviously facing the internal struggle of going into New Trainee's office and demanding to see hard evidence that her beautiful code does not work versus acting like a regular human being and minding her own business. Her eye begins to twitch every few seconds, she taps her fingers on the keyboard without typing anything, and her jaw is set.

Sandra(chanting softly to herself): Let it go. Let it go. Let it go.

Sandra sighs in resignation and writes frustrated blog entry, knowing that readers will have no choice but to assume that her code is always flawless and that New Trainee is just an idiot. She does not feel better.


ice cubes.

Another drunken New Year's, this one two years ago. I don't remember what I was drinking, some cocktail of expensive colored vodka and a soda. I was drunk. I'd been drunk before and I've been drunk since. Most times I enjoy it. But there's this line that gets crossed after so many drinks where I'm not in control anymore and then I don't like it at all. That night, I was well beyond that line, sitting on a table, a big round one with one center leg and a fat base supporting it. Abandoned drinks and party favors sat on the table with me, as did a friend of mine, also very drunk. A close encounter with the toilet was in his near future. We were just sitting there, taking it in, neither of us in much of a state to make conversation. Then I felt everything shifting in slow motion, like when you fall in a dream: you can't observe it any real way, but you know somehow that it's happening without being able to do anything to stop it. I managed to stand up before everything came down, but gravity got the best of the table and all its other occupants. Glassware and ice everywhere. Everyone shouted in surprise and then laughed jovially at us, look at dumb drunk Sandra, she flipped a table. I was so confused, about alcohol, about the mess, about gravity, about the disapproving stare my boyfriend was giving me from across the room. People swarmed around us to help right the table and clean up the mess; alcohol inspires a certain comraderie among people. Miraculously, nothing was broken, and once the glassware was picked up, people lost interest in the cleaning endeavor and went back to their memorable night in the making. Except me. There was still ice everywhere and I was still in a fog, my mind receiving so much stimuli that I was unable to understand any of it. So I got down on the floor and picked up ice cubes, one at a time, putting them in a red plastic Solo cup. There was all this...this...this crap going on and I couldn't comprehend any of it, but I could pick up ice cubes. I could focus on ice cubes, one at a time, into the red cup until the mess was gone.

And sometimes I don't even have to be drunk to feel like that, to not feel in control even enough to sort out the things I'm seeing and hearing and feeling and tasting and smelling. Then I just have to figure out a way to sit down on the floor with my red plastic Solo cup and pick up all the ice cubes, one at a time, into the red cup until the mess is gone.