A far-distant planet, destroyed by a cataclysmic explosion sometime in the recent past

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Overheard in Chapel Hill

A woman, about thirty-five, walking along, deep in thought, with her husband and child:
"Everyone I didn't make out with -- that's a lot of people."

A man in a gray sweater, walking near the Carrboro Town Commons:
"Bike touring... that's a serious thing. If it starts raining, all you can do is set up your tent. And if it doesn't stop raining... you know?"

A greasy undergraduate on the north quad at UNC - Chapel Hill:
"I know what I would do if I found a human-like creature, messing up my garden, and like... killing my family."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Routine Ripoff

I thought I'd been spending money absurdly fast. Turns out, someone else had been spending my money absurdly fast.

I'd been monitoring my bank account online, because I don't keep careful track of individual transactions and I wanted to make sure my rent check would clear (not that we're short of cash, exactly; just that most of it is in Canadian money in a Canadian account -- one of the joys of having a family spread over two countries). I noticed a $215 PayPal charge, and didn't remember buying anything online. In fact, I don't even have a PayPal account. I checked with Naomi, and she hadn't bought anything with the American account, nor had she bought anything online recently. I went to the bank to check it out.

Now, the bank has a more up-to-date record of what's been going on with my account. I only see transactions after they clear; they see everything that's in the queue. Turns out, someone had tried to use my account on dating websites. And to buy shoes. And airline tickets. Turns out, my card had already been deactivated for suspicious activity.

So, a couple of sworn affidavits later, my account is temporarily frozen, and it looks like I'll get my money back. The whole thing only took about fifteen minutes to sort out. The weirdest, and most frightening, part of this hasn't been the fact that someone got hold of my card number and tried to buy stuff -- though I wish I knew exactly how they got hold of it so I could better stop it from happening again. The frightening part was just how routine the whole thing was. Nobody seemed surprised or even really concerned; the whole procedure for dealing with this has been boiled down to a few standard steps and fill-in-the-blanks style forms. Credit card fraud isn't just widespread; it's routine.

I also wonder how the person figured they'd get away with ordering shoes (which presumably were to be delivered to a particular address) or -- even more so -- with buying airline tickets, which require not just a name, but also ID, for most flights. Either whoever ripped me off is tricked out with all kinds of phony documents and fancy techniques for misdirecting packages, or they're really, really stupid.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I decided that today, North Carolina and I were going to get reacquainted. North Carolina said, "Dan who? Yeah, yeah. I remember you. Get back to work."

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I suppose it was bound to happen. I am now one of those nerds on laptops in airports. But with two hours to go before my next flight boards, and an aversion to stale $43.00/oz airport coffee, I don’t know what the hell else to do with myself.

The weird liminality of airports has been commented on too often already, so I won’t bother writing about the peculiar sense of dislocation I get sitting in a preclearance neither-Canada-nor-US area in a city that is neither my destination nor my point of origin, having said all my Regina farewells and not yet having said any Chapel Hill hellos.

The weird spacewarp effect of air travel, whereby I’ve flown much farther in 2 hours than my brother and I drove in 12 last week, has also been commented on far too often. I won’t talk about that either.

And of course, everybody complains about the scrooginess and incompetence of airlines, so there’s no need for me to write about the narrowness of the seats, the lack of knee-room for lanky fellows like myself, the fact that you no longer get anything to eat – not even get those tiny packets of pretzels – on Air Canada flights unless you want a $64.00 pre-wrapped salami, or the fact that “window seat” now implies not that you’ll be next to a window, but only that you’ll have a bit of plastic fuselage on one side of you.

In fact, I am fast realizing that, for the moment at least, I am one of any number of completely generic guys in nondescript shirts in Pearson Airport typing on laptops, and that as such, I have absolutely nothing of interest to say. Leaving Regina, my family, my funny little duplex, my brilliant wife and my comical and adorable son behind seems to have stripped all the personality off me. Here’s hoping that Carrboro, school, or some combination thereof will spray metaphysical graffiti on the gray concrete walls of my generic-brand heart.

About Me

Getting stranger in a strange land.