Jessielah!

adventures in awesomeness…

Bailing Out Bad Banking Practices

I’m in a strange mood today. I don’t know how to categorize it or pin point it, but I’m just feeling off. It may be because of my big, blabber-mouth blogs. It may be because I didn’t get the memo about the Omelet Parlor when it seemed like I should have. It could just be the rain or that I didn’t drink water yesterday. It could be that my messages go unanswered or the fact that I’m living in limbo with no clear or immediate future, aimlessly floating around like Family Guy’s vacation to Purgatory. But lets blame it on the random charge to our Chase checking account for a “Leisure Rewards Program” with a $25 annual fee that no one recalls signing up for on a card number that no one can find. Because we all know it’s more fun to blame others than yourself. =D

Hmmm…

$25 bucks may be chump change to some, but that’s a weeks worth of Starbucks for me and my brood. So I get Matt to call Chase and get to the bottom of thing. As he’s on the phone, I also ask him to find out what has happened to our new ATM Check Card, because the old one has been canceled and our Netflix payment didn’t go through. While Matt deals with customer service, things slowly form together in my head. The canceled card. The Leisure Rewards charge for an unfamiliar credit card. The missing ATM card… something is fishy. The banker who set up our new ATM card scammed us.

I worked in banking for a little over two years (during my 5 year – black out stage of life) with Wells Fargo Bank. While they touted community, customer service, and the whole “stage-coach” San Francisco heritage, Wells Fargo had actually been bought out several years ago by the Norwest Corporation, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.* And with that acquisition, Wells Fargo went from being an expensive bank with excellent customer service, to an expensive bank with questionable customer service, pushing sales. Opening a new checking account? That’s a $5 referral bonus for the teller. But what if they already customers? Push the add-ons: Savings accounts (with a $300 minimum monthly average balance or you are charged a $3 fee that, if not watched – will deplete your savings. I came across many customers who never knew their savings had been nibbled away until they were charged an overdraft charge due to a service charge fee. Nice.) Direct deposit, online banking, bill pay, overdraft protection, credit cards, credit cards with overdraft protection. Each equal a $2 referral bonus. It was being pushed on the customers like super-sizing your fries at McDonald’s. Why? Because each time you sell a product to a customer, it makes it that much harder for them (YOU) to leave the bank. Even when the service goes shit down the drain. Which was starting to happen. Customer service became less important. If employees didn’t meet their sales quotas, they were out (even if you had given 20 years of service), replaced by a short order McDonald’s line cook who could bang out numbers. But what happens what happens when you sacrifice customer service and good, loyal employees for money driven robots? You end up with a $25 Leisure Rewards Program charge, a canceled ATM card and no way to pay your Netflix bill.

So back to our scheming Chase banker. Basically, she needed to make her sales quotas. So she looked up our account and saw what she could sell us. Fine. Do your job. Make sure we have all the products we need to make our banking life easier. But Matt already had three Chase credit cards (all bank acquisitions: WaMu, BankOne, and FirstUSA), checking account, savings account, direct deposit, online banking, bill pay, and a Visa check card. He was pretty much set. However, there was one thing she could do when she ordered us a new ATM card. She could upgrade it to a Leisure Rewards Visa check card. Ching! Sale. And we, the customer would never be the wiser. But did she ask us if we wanted this? No, she did not. Maybe she knew we would say no. Maybe she was shy and didn’t want to be turned down. Perhaps she had intentions of going back and waiving the fee to cover her tracks and simply forgot. Maybe she was just a lazy, lying cheat. I don’t know for sure. All I know is that she ordered it WITHOUT consent, causing us to incur a fee, and then we had to use up our precious time to call customer service and fix the mess, all for a $2 sales referral. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Bad, bad, banker.

But how do you know this, Jessielah? How?? Back up your answers with credible evidence? (I do possess a Bio BS after all.) Because when I worked at Wells Fargo, these were common business practices. They recently hired a new, young Personal Banker II at the Financial District branch I worked at (before the bank carried cash) who claimed to be a big hot-shot. He was going to drum up a ton of sales from all of our imaginary customers.  Now I would upsale online banking and bill pay to everyone who came in, because they always came in to do dumb stuff like check their balance. “Wouldn’t it be nice to do this from your computer than to trek all the way down here? One customer said that he didn’t want to put me out of a job, har har, but for the most part, people agreed to sign up. But that was not enough for hot-shot Personal Banker II. After each of my customers would leave, he pulled up their accounts and order them new Check Cards. Now these didn’t cost $25, but it was dishonest and a way of scamming the system to meet quotas in order to keep your job. And it is a burden to the customer, who’s normal functioning card suddenly stops working (how embarrassing!) mid purchase. Now they have to call customer service or visit their local branch and then wait 7-10 business days for their new card to arrive. All for a $2 referral.

And this is what happened to us. One canceled card, no replacement, and a $25 fee. Nice. Way to go Chase. And this is what our taxpayer money goes to – bailing out bad banking practices to make the rich richer, the poor poorer, while screwing the middle class.

Takes boys from podium and steps up to the mike

Things should have failed. Maybe that is the wake up call we as a country and a world economy needed. Guess what? 80K a year isn’t rich. You are NOT among the top 1%. Not even the top 5%. So stop voting Republican to save fucking $50 on your taxes. So maybe you don’t need the brand new gas guzzling SUV. Maybe you really can’t afford the half a MILLION DOLLAR MORTGAGE. Maybe middle class isn’t middle class, maybe it’s working poor. Because if you lose your job, you’re not so deep in the shit that you’ll be homeless in a week and you won’t be able to feed your kids. Stop harassing poor mothers to have babies (pro-life my ass), then scoff when they can’t afford to feed them (maybe they were considering abortion for a REASON!?!). Stop locking up the baby formula and the funds for new school supplies, books, and education. Stop force feeding commercials that tell you that you can live like a rapper or rock star (ala MTV Cribs), splurge like Paris Hilton, and drive a car with a $700, 7- year monthly payment that you have to GIVE BACK at the end of the lease.Just charge it! Finance it! Lease it! It’s the new AMERICAN DREAM! Consolidate the rich, dumb down and debt-out the middle class and stomp down the poor. But they didn’t fail. American is in desperate need of major surgery and we just gave her a 1.2 Trillion dollar band-aid and two Advil to knock out the pain of life. Sigh. A revolution should be stirring, a revolt rising. Alas, we’re too busy being comfortably boiled into Chinese Dumplings.

Steps down from podium so the boy can go back to playing in the sink.

*
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My New Love… the Lumix ZR1

In my haste to flee Texas (and the beet-smelling water), I left my hand-me-down Polaroid camera in the Mesquite house. I didn’t think anything of it until I found myself using my web cam to snap photos of my Movie Night appetizers. So I went to Target and saw a Sony for $109 plus a $20 Target Gift card… so total cost (for the mathematically challenged) = $89! Whoo! But I am a weirdo who won’t buy anything without checking to see if I can get a better deal elsewhere.  So after some initial talks and review, I decide to go with the Sony. But ACK! The sale was over. I hem and haw over the other cameras… trying to make a decision. Before I can pick a second choice, the guy behind the counter lets me know that he’s basically totally out of stock. What? Argh! Double bummer. I pack the babies up and go to Fry’s. No cameras. We hit the Target in Mission Valley. No cameras. Sports Arena Target. No cameras. But we did have a very strange encounter a Target employee.

WARNING: Random side story having nothing to do with cameras.

After we left the camera counter empty-handed, we passed a rack of children’s DVDs. Jaxon found a Thomas the Train DVD and picked it up, put it under his arm and then explained to me (in his Jaxon  secret language) that he was going to buy this DVD. I decided that he could carry it around until we got to the exit. As we approached the door, I took the DVD from him and told him to say “bye-bye” to Thomas. Well that was NOT acceptable. Jaxon  threw himself on the ground, right in the center of the aisle, and started screaming. Knowing this might happen, I just stopped and waited for him to finish his fit. But before I could ask him to stand up, this woman pops up from around the corner as if her injured-baby-alarm went off , asking if he was okay. I explained that he was just upset and she swooped down upon him and picked him up. What!?! Yes, there is my dear, teary eyed boy in the arms of some strange Target employee. She brings him over to me, oohing and ahhing over him, stroking his curls and asks if we are coming or going. I tell her that we are leaving and then she says that she is leaving as well. Then she proceeds to walk me out to my car toting little Jaxon in her arms the whole way. She asks if he’s potty trained and I’m like no… And she says that she can’t feel a diaper. (Horror – what if she was sexually feeling up my boy!?! Oh GOD!) She explains that she hasn’t started potty training her boy (about Jaxon’s age).  Ahhh, okay. We get to the car and she seems hesitant to give Jaxon back to me. I eventually pry him from her arms and escape with both babies intact. Weird.

And still NO CAMERA!

So I go home, grab the Consumer Reports, and get to work looking for a camera. Six hours later I head to Costco armed with three options. I get there… I can’t make up my mind. One camera has a dead battery so I can’t play with it.  The Canon is my least favorite. The Nikon CoolPix S570 is slick, small and seems easy to use. I am torn between the Nikon and two Panasonic cameras, so I give Matt a call to help in the decision-making. Matt’s gut feeling says to go with the newer Panasonic. I want a camera that I can turn on, point and shoot, and get a good photo without fooling with a bunch of menus. I am worried that the Panasonic will be too complicated, but Matt’s gut is hardly ever wrong, so I decided on the Panasonic Lumix ZR1. Once I have it in my little grubby hands I’m like a kid in a candy store. I bust it open before pulling out of the parking lot. It’s beautiful, sleek, and sexy. And didn’t even need Ashton Kutcher to sell itself.

The Panasonic came with a slim carrying case, 100 free prints at costco.com, a two-year extended warranty, and a 2GB memory card (whoo!) all for $180. Here’s are my first shots, testing out how it performs in low lighting and playing with the zoom.

Dashboard up close inside the Yaris.

Mema letting me use her as a test subject.

Not bad!! Tomorrow I will be able to test how it works shooting babies-in-action, play with the 8x optical zoom, and shoot some HD videos! I can’t wait!!

The Panasonic Lumix ZR1… my new love!

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I Hate Dreamcatchers.

Isn’t my late night, left=handed scroll pad drawing the best?

Dreamcatchers are one of the vilest things to hang above your bed. I hate them and I hate people who have them (sorry, but I do). They’re usually those people who try to say they are part Native American (and it’s always Cherokee Indian, because that’s the only one most people know about). Annoying. People who are into crystals are not any better. (Ruby!) You mean you’re not going to use that crystal for its magical healing purposes? You’re just going to hang it in the window, to dance in its moonlit prisms, in a broom skirt and an ankh while chanting to Manon and reciting lines from The Craft… riiight.

Since I’ve got an aching abdomen, I’ll leave you to your weekend with the Friday Five:

5.
Not chating with the usual suspects (because of no. 4)
Reconnecting with old friends on Facebook and hanging out with them!

4.
The never-ending work on the Kensington house
Being proactive and productive!

3.
Target not having my camera on sale or in stock
Driving and singing with the windows down and the sun streaming in on me!

2.
Changing squirming babies without a changing table
Being tackled by two naked, laughing babies and not getting peed on!

1.
My aching abdomen

Going to bed early. Mmm… sleep!

I have come to re-realize the importance of sleep. It’s more delicious than any food and more refreshing than (almost) any drink. So good night, Happy Friday, and adieu!

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WTF: And I Thought Stilettos Were Bad

So, yeah, it’s technically Thursday but I’ve had a lot to catch up on. I have two auditions scheduled for May, I’m learning a new role, the Kensington house is getting a face-lift, and I have finally (FINALLY!) transferred three years worth of blogs from jessielah.blogspot.com to my new space at wordpress.com.

Anyhow… this WTF Wednesday comes courtesy of my dear old dad, who’s famous for sending his bizarre forwards. This was so shocking I had to break a cardinal rule and forward it on. For those fortunate enough to have not received this by email, enjoy!

Tiny shoes.

Very tiny shoes.

How feet get into tiny shoes.

Oh God, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?

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Yo Gabba Gabba Makes Me Feel Good

I’m exhausted. Today was a long day. Even though I went to bed at 8pm the night before, waking up at 6am was no easy task. With two little ones pulling and tugging on various body parts, it was hard to sleep in. However, by 8am the boys were fed (devouring all three bowls of oatmeal between the two of them), we were all dressed and headed out the door to work on the Kensington house. And I had consumed not one cup of coffee… yet.

Working on the Kensington house while the boys are with me is pretty much a nightmare. For an empty house, there is a ton to get into and hurt yourself on. Every time I tried to cover the floors, the boys would jump and play in the paper. Then I would chase them out, only to have them fighting over toys less than a minute later. I don’t know how I got both bedrooms, the hallway, and the bathroom prepped, but I did. I even primed the blue wall in the front bedroom. It must be because I’m awesome.

After Mylo tried repeatedly to eat the primed wall, I decided that it was time to go home. Mylo went down for a nap, Jaxon  “rested” in my mom’s room and I got to work on Don Giovanni. I forgot how exhilarating it is to be working and doing and acting and singing and LIVING! So much better than moping around worrying about what should and could happen. And I guess it helps that last night moving back to Texas was crossed out of my future. One down… a few more life decisions to go.

My sister was supposed to come over for dinner, but canceled. I knew I shouldn’t have dropped $35 on dinner. Sigh. Oh well, c’est la vie. Isn’t that something that Yo Gabba Gabba would teach us?

In some parallel universe, I am DJ Lance and DJ Lance is me:

Who else but parallel universe me would say “Listening and Dancing to Music is AWESOME!” It is. Totally awesome.

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Protected: A Night of Vein-Popping Laughter

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Movie Night: Silent Running and Salami Amuse-Bouche

About a month ago, my dad decided that we should have Movie Night every other weekend as a way to get together, eat good food, drink good wine, and watch movies that we might not otherwise watch. The week before we left for Texas, my dad hosted with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Excellent movie. I’d never seen the whole thing. Seeing young Danny DeVito and Christopher Llyod was a real treat. My sister Lizzie, who showed up late from her office happy hour, didn’t believe that it was Danny DeVito until the very end. It was good holiday fun and I knew I would miss future movie nights with my dad and sister. But c’est la vie and off to Texas I went. Little did I know I would be back in San Diego just in time for movie night – and it was technically my turn to host!

Seeing as I have no home of my own to host a movie, my dad agreed to provide the space if I brought the appetizers. I agreed. I love to cook – and felt the need to hold my own against my sister’s awesome culinary skills! I decided to make a “dressed-up” quesadilla with cheddar, Gorgonzola, and garlic baked in the oven until crispy and then topped with tomatoes and basil. I served the quesadilla alongside pan seared steak and apple-cucumber salad. The real highlight on the night were my Salami amuse-bouche. I was inspired by the Viva paper towel commercials. I used tomato and basil instead of the jarred red bell peppers and topped mine with a Gorgonzola crumble instead of queso fresco and I must say that they were fabulous. Yum yum!

Here’s the recipe:
1 package of Genoa Salami
4 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
4-5 basil leaves, sliced
1 clove of garil, minced
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tbs Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
gorgonzola cheese.

I baked the salami on a cookie sheet at 350 for about 10 minutes, unil they were crisp, but not burnt. I transfered them to a serving platter with some paper towels (the commercial uses Viva paper towels) bowl side up. Then I diced the tomatoes, chopped the basil, minced the garlic and drizzled them with just a touch of olive oil. The salami is quite oily, so I didn’t want the dish to end up greasy. Gross. Then I added about a Tbs of balsamic vinegar and then seasoned with salt and pepper. I alway err on the side of less is more. You can always add more later if you need it. Then I mixed everything together and spooned a small amount onto the salami. I topped it with one or two crumbles of gorgonzola. I found that the creaminess of the cheese really cuts through the acidity of the tomato and basil and compliments the crispiness of the salami. You eat it all in one bite for the ultimate party in your mouth. Delicious!

We had another smeared-poop disaster with Jaxon, so I arrived a bit late to my dad’s without a movie. Lizzie canceled due to an “illness”, but my dad believed that she was just upset that I didn’t move movie night to Saturday (although she knew I had previous plans and sounded okay when I told her I had to keep our original Friday date). Since it was just the three of us, we decided to watch Silent Running, an ecological sci-fi movie from the 70s.

The plot revolves around Lowell, an ecologist responsible for tending to Earth’s last remaining plant life, contained in six greenhouse space domes. I realize that Lowell is crazy from the get go. He’s been up in space for the past eight years without any company except for the trees and a few rabbits. There seems to be a rotation of other crew mates, but Lowell seems to have more in common with the flora and fauna than with his human ship mates. The plot begins to unfold when the government decides to shut down the greenhouse program due to funding cuts. The crew is ordered to blow up the domes and return to earth. It’s celebration time for everyone save Lowell. He’s taken an ecological oath (prominently displayed above his bed) to protect the forests. Lowell ignores the orders and continues tending to the plants. After four of the pods have exploded, something snaps in Lowell and he kills one of his crew mates. Then, in an apparent blood-lust, he murders the other two crew mates – consequently blows up one of the domes he had vowed to protect. He fakes a ship malfunction when his superiors start to ask questions and sends himself, the last remaining dome, and three drones (renamed Huey, Dewey, and Louie) careening into Saturn’s gaseous and deadly rings.

There were several very interesting parallels between this movie and the times we live in now. Before his killing spree, Lowell harangued his crew mates for eating fake, in-organic food (ala the Jetsons or McDonalds type cuisine). He argues that they should join him in eating cantaloupes; they have scents, and taste, and well… he grew them! Earth has become static, stale, and stock. He bemoans the lack of uniqueness and variety. As he continued his tirade, I envisioned the plethora of shopping centers, each one one stocked with Home Depot or Lowes, Walmart or Target (sometimes both), Chilis, Starbucks, Best Buy and McDonald’s… encased in faux stone trim and sprawling parking lots. I too felt Lowell’s distress. The slow evolution towards a life of sameness seemed inevitable. Perhaps that is why I secretly loathed suburban life… everything set up for the “gimmie-nows” at the expense of individualism and freedom.

As Lowell’s ship sails further from earth, he slowly spirals into madness. Lowell begins to consume the bland microwaved junk he berated his crew mates about earlier in the film. When Huey (or Dewey, couldn’t really tell them apart) chides him for eating rubbish, Lowell awakens from his madness and runs into the forest to harvest his beloved cantaloupe. Instead he finds that the forests are dying due to lack of sun. As he’s setting up lights that mimic sunlight, he’s found by a search crew. Knowing that his murders will be discovered, he sends the last greenhouse dome into space with Dewey and then blows up Huey and himself.
The movie ends and my only question is, if all plant life was extinct on earth, why did they blow up the domes? Why didn’t they just send them into space like Lowell did? Hmmm.

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Presidents’ Day

It was Monday. Ruby and I (both with not much else to do) had been chatting all afternoon on Gmail. After hours of rehashing the problems behind the drama of the past two months, I threw in the towel.
me:
I’m just going to blame LD too.
ruby:
Hahaha. You do that. He made you fall in love with him.
me:
That’s right, Ruby, he did. LD ruined my life and got Matt to impregnate me.
ruby:
Fucking LD. I hate that dude. He just wanted to have a threesome with a married woman.
me:
I know. He manipulated me to get what he wanted – even though he was already getting what he wanted – he just manipulated me more to fuck me over. ‘Cause he’s a dick.

The more we talked, the more elaborate the blame became.

ruby:
He got you knocked up and married just to set it all up.
me:
What a scumbag.
ruby:
The kids… well, they were incidental. He doesn’t care about the kids. Fucking asshole.
me:
What a jerk…. And he called me a pushover at Target.
(This was true. He did call me a pushover. Must have affected me more than I realized.)

While I momentarily lost myself in a Target rendezvous, Ruby elaborated on LD’s master plan.

ruby:
…and he gets off on the stealing you away (He’s like Yuckie). That’s the reason he had you married off in the first place.
me:
Brilliant. Eff that dude and his big ole wiener.
ruby:
Hahaha. Yeah, eff that dude.
me:
Because when the SNAFUs hit the table, he was gone!
ruby:
I know! Like, he purposefully waited until he lived in another country to finally pull the hijinx.
me:
Exactly, Ruby. Exactly. Just so he could run off. It was all part of the grand plan.
ruby:
Schemer. It’s like a Julia Roberts/George Clooney movie.
me:
Can I be Thandie Newton instead of Julia Roberts?
ruby:
Sure.
me:
I’d be the bad guy…. and LD would be the bad guy. And Matt would be the bad guy too. It would be one of those icky movies where everyone was flawed.
ruby:
Everyone’s a bad guy. The Threesome Caper.
me:
Except there’d be no happy ending for this movie. Matt’s emotions would overtake him and he would kill me. That would be my punishment. Matt would end up in jail. That’s his punishment. And LD would be overcome with grief and have to live each day with it. That would be his punishment.
(Lots of punishment. The Texas God must have rubbed off on me.)
ruby:
Matt’s going to kill you?
me:
Well he can’t just send nasty emails in the movie. That’s not nearly as exciting as murder.
ruby:
Oh well. LD deserved it since he masterminded the whole thing in the first place.

I laughed. Ruby laughed. No wonder Matt blames LD for everything. It’s kind of nice to not have to be responsible for anything for a few minutes.
Presidents’ Day. A day for bashing and threesome caper movies.

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I’m Awesome!

I’m having an “I *heart* me” moment and it’s pretty damn nice. Less than a week ago I was wearing four shirts and a parka indoors. Today I am sitting outside in shorts and sunglasses watching Jaxon play in the water – a disaster waiting to happen, I know, but it beats playing in the sink. So why am I awesome, you ask?

* Awesome-ly crooked bangs!


* It’s Tuesday and effing gorgeous outside.
* Using “awesome” as an adverb.
* My swaggy old boobs are up and awesome!
* I feel good.
* The sun has infused itself into my being. Maybe I’ll get a bit of color. Mmmmm…
* I am a California girl at heart, addicted to flip flops and sunshine.

I was told that I “already seemed happier”. I blamed my lame-0-ness. But you know what? I love my lame-0-ness. Oooh, thats another one.

* My lame-0-ness. I love that I fall in love so freely.
* I love that I giggle like a school girl and get goofy when I’m happy.
* I still dance around the house, singing into a hair brush.
* I cut my own hair (poorly) and can’t keep my nose out of the mirror.

I confess, I’m a 15-year old girl most of the time. Anyhow… it’s about time that I got to enjoy some happiness! The past six weeks have been rough. My new year came in with a bang (literally) and then it’s just been drama island since. But things are on the up and up. I got dumped – whoo! Must I count that?

* I got the closure I needed and didn’t think I was going to get – thank you, awesome-ness.
* I have two awesome babies.

They really are the best. Between spoonfuls of peanut butter, Jaxon performed acrobatics on the stairs and balancing on the fence. Mylo stomped around, yelling to hear his voice echo off the walls. Being with them makes me happy… and that is AWESOME!!!

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