Girlfriends, Pizza and Christmas Trees

Ξ December 6th, 2004 | → 0 Comments | ∇ -My Favorites, Costa Rica, Humor, Life in Costa Rica, Maria Luisa |

My girlfriend is a most thoughtful person.
She is also caring, warm, sexy, beautiful, and generous.
She is also really hard to train. She resists this, preferring her way at all times. Many times this is good thing as I often do or say really dumb stuff, and she is always there to fix that. Other times, it is most annoying.

For instance, let’s discuss what I call the pizza incident last night.

This occurred when we (read SHE) invited a few family members over to decorate the Christmas tree. In Costa Rica, when you are involved with a (Costa Rican) woman, your involvement extends to her family as well. Actually, I like this!.
Some definitions!

As this is a good Catholic country, this “extension of family” translates into roughly 732 family members who show up (announced or not) for all functions.

“Function” is broadly defined as just about anything that is not done in the bed with the lights off or in the bathroom involving the toilet. I say this as tooth brushing can be an acceptable event (as can be flossing). The act of taking out the garbage qualifies as an event. In reality though, that event seldom attracts more than a half dozen or so persons. Decorating a tree is certainly higher up on the function list.

A tree decorating event, which really IS a function as defined in the US Culture of Acceptable Events & Functions, vol 3, may easily draw 90 folks who thoughtlessly expect to be fed and given something to drink.
Something to drink means something with alcohol.

I have mixed feelings on this.
When I lived in the US, only the closest family members arrived to decorate the tree. We ate a few cookies. Drank some eggnog, decorated a bit. Drank some more nog. Listened to the carols and drank some nog. Sang some carols. Downed some more nog. It was a fine time.

So last night, we decorated our tree. I do not have a body count, but the expression “shitpot fulla people” may give you an idea of how many arrived. There was merriment and fun. Music and dancing….and PIZZA. A LOT of pizza.

Remember the olde expression “Many hands make light work”? The tree was decorated in perhaps 6 minutes. Now… the tree looked great… until the lights were turned on. We had a problem.
When I was a young person, I was taught early to hang the lights first, test them to be sure they were distributed properly, THEN add the rest of the stuff.

Well, apparently, it is done differently here. Everything is done at once. However, when the lights were turned on, there were roughly 392 lights in the top third of the tree and perhaps 9 to cover the middle and the bottom.
As you may imagine, this gave the tree a somewhat unbalanced look. With the lights off though, it looks first rate!
My suggestion that we un-decorate the tree and re-do the lights brought forth a veritable blast of laughter, so the tree remained as it was.

An amazing amount of pizza and beverages were consumed and finally her family went back to their homes. Happily, there was left over pizza! I went to my bed dreaming of the next morning when I could rush to the kitchen to eat COLD pizza preferable washed down with Coca Cola (Diet is OK) to sorta cut through the grease if you catch my drift. Certainly cold pizza is an item very high on the list of “the foods of the Gods”.

I am never clear if eating cold pizza is a guy thing. I certainly know of no man in my life who ever warmed up pizza before consuming. IN fact, many of the women in my life enjoyed cold pizza the next day…

Sadly, my dream was to be dashed.

I made grave error. On my way the kitchen this morning, I stopped to check my email. The next thing I know, my wonderful sweetie is bringing me WARMED UP PIZZA and COFFEE. Oh the pain!

I have discussed the fact that many Americans LIKE cold food and will happily munch away on leftovers fresh from the fridge. She cannot fathom this! In fact, when first I mentioned this, her reaction was akin to mentioning I had a penchant for cooking and eating small children. She was horrified and told me eating cold food could kill me. She believes this! Argh.

But I have aged and know the value of a wonderful near-perfect relationship. I ate the pizza and washed it down with coffee. I also promised to get my ass outta bed earlier when there was cold pizza awaiting. One must adjust to life in the tropics….


Chase Bank -Credit Card Fraud – What bullshit!

Ξ December 5th, 2004 | → 2 Comments | ∇ Rants |

I am really pissed off.

Even in Costa Rica, we get the 746 daily commercials for VISA, MasterCard, AMEX, about credit card fraud.

I actually LIKE the one with the 65 (mas o menos) black gentleman (I have been away for a while so if I am not PC on what Blacks want to be called this week, please forgive me. (In Latin America, they are simply called negros, the Spanish word for black and totally not a racist term), who says: “I just got a call from my credit card company asking if I just bought two surfboards”. Clever.

Anyway, for those of you who are not credit card pros, when you buy something, the request is sent to a processor. These are companies nobody ever hears about (unless their DB’s get hacked!), which then passes the request to the issuing bank. The bank replies and gives the thumbs up or down. If it is a thumbs up, the transaction goes through.

So I get an order form this guy in Chile for $239.00. Nothing unusual as we do business in Chile, but the credit card has the name of someone CLEARLY nor Latin. This send up red flags for my accounting folk who have abnormally tight rectal muscles and they notify me.

Yes! “This does seem odd. I’ll contact VISA and see what give!” says me.

So I call VISA. Whatta joke. Turns out it is damn near impossible to call VISA. Oh, you can order credit cards and do a bunch of shit, but what you cannot do (easily) is find a number where merchants can call to check stuff out.

Finally, after 2 hours, I find a merchant verification number and call them.

They are… umm… less than forthcoming, but I am a persistent person and so they finally give me the name and number for the issuing bank. Chase Bank.

So I call Chase Bank. Whatta bunch of total assholes. Clearly the surf shop person was not using a Chase Card cause if he was, he’d now own 6 surfboards and that guy would be buying KY jelly by the gross.

I get the standard customer service person on the phone. He asks the normal questions to ID me… which was fine… but then he starts with the “What do you want ME to do? I can’t give you an approval. Well DUH dickweed, I KNOW you can’t, but you can contact your customer and ask THEM if they just bought $239.00 in services from Chile!

This brain trust says he can not do that.. OK… Can I speak with security? “Well why”? Well DUH again!

So we continue this for 5 more minutes and FINALLY I get transferred to this even larger asshole from security. Clearly Chase Bank promotes their security folk from their prior positions as Customer Service folk. Once you reach a certain level of assholiness and incompetence, you get the job in security!

So now this guy asks all the same verification questions of me… which is fine.

He then asks (NO SHIT), “What do you want ME to do? I can’t give you an authorization.” Well BIGGER DUH. I know that. But wouldn’t it be a good idea to contact the customer, ask them if they are using their card to buy services from Chile? My services would make NO sense for them to purchase even if they were on vacation. Maybe just ask them to see if their card is missing. ANYTHING???? I mean hot damn! If my credit card company (Advanta) called me to ask these questions (which they actually DID one time now that I think about it!), I would be happy as hell. I cannot imagine anyone who would NOT want to know this. It might also mean your CC number was out on some Internet list or your are in the process of having your identity stolen.
No, he won’t do that. I don’t know why and he won’t tell me… so we argue some more. I give him the addresses used and other stuff including phone numbers. I OFFER to give him the IP address of the user and their email address. He doesn’t want that either. I keep asking him to call his cardholder… it gets very unpleasant.

I bitch and moan for a while longer, and FINALLY he says, OK, I’ll call our customer. Cool!

He is off the phone for an adequate time to impress me that he is telling the truth about calling them (about 20 seconds) and returns to say, “nobody answers.”

I just fucking gave up.

Even if he DID call those poor suckers, which I doubt, he certainly did not try work numbers or anything else. This whole credit card fraud stuff you see advertised is nothing more than some PR guy’s wet dream.

So Mom and Dad, here is what I learned today!

I will NEVER again try to help some hapless cardholder whose card is being used at my company.

The credit card companies clearly do not give two shits for card security. Admittedly, this may be unfair because OTHER banks might have treated this situation differently.

Chase bank in particular would rather charge exorbitant rates rather than try to control their fraud losses.

Chase Bank does not give a damn about their customers and their security and finally….

Only a REALLLLY dumb shit would ever use a credit card issued by Chase Bank.


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