Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bank of America Stories

Some of you may remember stories I have told in the past about how Bank of America never charges me for cashier's checks even though they should.  The first time was around six years ago, when instead of charging me for the service they sent me a thank you card in the mail.  The second time was close to two years ago when the teller simply waived the fee for reasons unknown.  Well, on Thursday, it happened again.  I needed to pay for something at work by check, and I forgot to bring my checkbook with me.  Since my company office is in the Bank of America plaza in downtown St. Louis, there is a branch right in the lobby.  I headed on down there to get a check made out for me.  While there, the cashier pulled up my info on the computer and declared that while I should be paying a fee, she would waive it.  Why?  Because Bank of America has my mortgage now (they got it when they purchased Countrywide a couple years ago), which means that I really should be in a different checking plan, that they offer especially to mortgage customers.  This special plan means that my checking account will earn interest with no minimal balance required, I get unlimited cashier's checks, I get free personal check printing, and a free safe deposit box.  They were bored on Thursday afternoon because it had been a slow day, so they happily upgraded me on the spot.  So, now I am getting lots of free stuff and earning interest where before I earned squadoosh, and I am paying nothing for the privilege.  It's good being me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sports Despair

One of the interest things of being a sports fan and a pessimist at the same time is that I am always on the edge of (or fully immersed in) despair about something related to my team(s).  Let's use the St. Louis Blues as an example.  Prior to this weekend's home stand, they had a record of 2-1-2 (for those of you not in the know, that means they had won two of five games in the season, with two of those losses being overtime/shootout losses, thus earning one point in the standings, as opposed to two for a win).  This is quite respectable in the big scheme of things, but to me it means that we lost more games than we won, and thus the team was a pack of losers.  After two solid victories this weekend, the Blues are now 4-1-2.  This is good, right?  Ten out of a possible fourteen points in the standings is quite respectable.

Feeling relatively good about life, I recently checked the standings on  And what did I see there?  That EVERY SINGLE TEAM in the Central Division has a winning record.  Even Columbus.  And Nashville hasn't lost a game in regulation time yet.  Even with this quite respectable 4-1-2 record, St. Louis is in 4th place in its division.  Granted, if you look at the overall Conference standings, Of the top eight teams in the Western Conference, EVERY SINGLE TEAM in the Central Division is in that top eight.  So, while the Blues might be an improved team this year, SO IS EVERYBODY ELSE.  Thus, I despair.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yeah, Google, Get On It!

Where would the world be without British humour?

On a more serious note, does this company even have a master strategy, outside of taking over the world?  Or is still just a bunch of engineers doing whatever they think is cool and having the good fortune of having a cash cow inside the company (internet search) funding literally everything else by itself?

Friday, October 08, 2010

Getting Decked

I've been on vacation since Tuesday this week.  While I have done some laying around, reading, and watching TV (hockey season has started!  Wooooo!!!), the big thing I did was strip and re-stain my deck.  Basically, I got tired of it looking like I swiped the deck from an abandoned property and just bolted it to my house, and wanted a deck that looked like its owner cared about it.  I worked around 3 hours a day on it, on average, for the past four days, with the end result being a very nice looking deck that hopefully will last for at least 3 years this time.  I applied some lessons I learned the last time I stained the deck, and I put two coats of stain on all of the horizontal surfaces, in the hopes that the sun won't be able to bake off both coats within one year.  It will be very nice to be able to sit out on a good looking deck over the weekend, and enjoy the fruits of my labors with some iced beverages and a good book.

No New Games - an update

At the beginning of July, I had decided that I was not going to buy any new games for the next six months, taking me through the end of the year.  I have enough games sitting in the basement that I haven't played a lot, so why get new ones just to stick them in the basement and not play them?  That was the logic, anyway.  It has been over three months since this experiment started, and I am proud to report that I have been "almost perfect" so far.  This past weekend was Archon, which has some room set aside for nothing but dealers to sell you stuff.  While I bought some books, the only new game I purchased was a gift for my friend George, so that doesn't count.  I did buy some special dice for the Arkham Horror board game, but that isn't buying an actual game, just an accessory which technically can be used with any game, so that also doesn't count.

Today, I bought some new games, and this is where the only breakdown has occurred.  Back in late June, I had received some American Express gift cheques from work as a "good job" reward.  I had never spent to date, and decided that I needed some new games.  This is perfectly acceptable per my rules because I'm  not spending my own money out of pocket, just using a gift cheque which was always intended for me to use for my pleasure.  So, I drove over to Game Nite and picked up an Arkham Horror expansion set, Pandemic, and TransAmerica.  Pandemic, especially, I am really looking forward to playing, as I have heard a lot of good things about it.  Unfortunately, with tax this cost a little over $100, which was the amount of the gift cheque I was using.  So, I did spend a bit of money out of pocket on new games, but it was totally unavoidable.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


This weekend was Archon, the St. Louis science fiction/fantasy convention.  In recent years it has been held in Collinsville, IL, but this year it moved to Westport, which is noticeably closer to my home.  While it is a sci-fi convention at heart, they do have a significant block of scheduled games, which I have taken advantage of this year.  While last year I played some games that I had already played and enjoyed, this year I focused on playing newer games that I had no experience with.  Somewhat sadly, while I did enjoy myself in some of those games, I didn't play anything that I felt I needed to add to my collection.  In fact, the only new game I have purchased at the convention is a gift for one of my friends; absolutely nothing new for me.  Well, nothing new game wise.  I did pick up some books at Glen Cook's table, including one by the author himself that I got signed, which was a nice touch.  I have to say that I do feel like the Westport facilities aren't as good for this convention as the Collinsville facilities, just due to the fact that the Westport convention center is too small, resulting in some events being in one area, while other events are in another area in a separate part of Westport.  It is kind of annoying.