Monday, 7 November 2011

This "Dump Your Bank" Thing

Over the weekend, there was this "dump your bank" episode.  I personally thought it was a bit naive.  The push on this.....get back at your bank for starting higher fees.

I've quit around ten banks over my life, so I know a few things about this business.  Between the ages of eighteen and thirty.....you can do something like this, and it's not a big deal.  Feel free.  Around age thirty-five?  You'd best start thinking about this long and hard.  At age forty?  You better have a complete plan and anticipate this taking a minimum of sixty days to accomplish.

The last time I quit a bank was around 1998.  I had been within a credit union for six years and was simply making the final crossing.  It hit me one day....that I had around fifteen different things that were connected to the bank, and just quitting on a Monday....was not practical.  It took weeks to ensure everything was halted, and switched to the credit union.

Here's the thing that you ought to know about credit unions before you jump in.  They typically don't open on Saturdays.  You won't save on loans....so don't even put this on the list of positives.  Credit unions screw up just as much as banks....so don't think you get an advantage there.  The odds of a credit union adjusting fees?  Same chance as a bank.  They both have to make a profit.

Credit unions typically are the place where you get an extra percent on a CD, and the place where you could get a $40k car loan very easily.

My advice here is that if you really get into this "dump your bank" attitude....think wisely and long over just how you accomplish this.  If you screw up and a payment to some insurance company is late.....you just might be upset about the situation.  And don't bet on the credit union never adding an extra fee here and there.

Dopers

It was a rather odd report.  My co-worker pointed this out early in the morning....from an episode last week in Frederick, Maryland.  To best sum this up....grandma, the grand-daughter (age 22), and the family's two chihuahuas were home.  Grandma opened up the front door apparently to allow the two dogs to "sun" themselves.

At some point in the morning....this black gal strolls right in the front door....walks straight into the bathroom, and closes the door.  Grandma sees this, and doesn't know this gal....nor did she invite the woman in, and you can sense a problem here.  Grandma alerts the grand-daughter over this episode.

So the grand-daughter eventually goes up and knocks on the door.....no answer.   She waits a while....figuring the woman has an urgent need.  And then the grand-daughter gives up on patience and jimmys open the door.  Here is the black gal....standing there in the nude, with a jacket on.  As she described it later to the cops....the woman was "butt-naked".

The woman walks out and then proceeds into the garage....where the grand-daughter locks the entry door and then calls the cops.  No words have been spoken at this point by the "guest".

Cops come, and eventually come to figure out that this woman lives down the street a couple of blocks and is on some high dose of drug.  The woman can't really explain much....but she's been charged with criminal mischief and another crime or two.

I sat and pondered over the situation and commentary....especially "butt-naked".  This is one of those phrases like an engineer explaining to the boss is "110-percent on-track".  You can't be more naked, than naked.  So this "butt-naked" phrase gets tossed around, and frankly....it's misused.

By noon.....we'd had another report of a "buck-naked" individual.....some guy at the Dulles Airport.  This guy apparently went into a bathroom....removed all clothing, and then stood in the middle of the terminal.  A photo was taken and the cops did eventually come around to take him.

I figured he'd have a crime or two, but no.....they decided they'd just apprehend the guy and take him to the local hospital.  No charges....even at a international airport.

The trigger here?  I'm guessing LSD.  It's the kind of drug that you'd take and lose track of what you are doing.  No aggression.  You start looking at your fingers....like you just grew six new ones, or your butt....like you added face onto each side of the butt, or like your boobs....like you went from a AA-size to a DD-size in fifteen minutes.  LSD works that way.  The curious thing is that it's not a typical drug in the US.  Most folks would do weed, then cocaine, meth, pain-killers like Oxyie, and then eventually get to LSD.

I'm thinking that someone has come up into the DC area and done their best to trigger up a new market for LSD.  The curious thing will be if we suddenly start having a bunch of "butt-naked" folks running around.

My Neighborhood and Just Thinking

This is what we learned last week....the neat and modern intercom system on all METRO trains in DC....don't work (or at least no one can prove otherwise).

In the middle of October, the cops got called to a robbery at a restaurant in DC.  They follow the guy.  He enters the METRO station, and boards the subway.  A cop boards.  They end up in a confrontation of sorts......forcing the guy down....and finally handcuffing him to a seat.  The cop reaches to talk to the conductor/driver over the intercom because his cellphone and walkie-talkie don't get reception in the tunnel.  The intercom doesn't work.  Period.

On they travel....through the DC tunnels....over and over, the cop tries the intercom and it doesn't work.  Finally at the sixth station they pull into....the cop gets his cellphone to work.  Now, he finally gets help.

The METRO guys aren't saying much over this episode.  Some folks are suggesting another broke problem (from the three hundred other problems that already exist with the subway system).

I sat and pondered over this issue and the unemployment problems of DC.  The best answer is to admit that the intercoms just don't work because of incompetence, and then hire 3,000 subway car professionals.  You base one subway professional in each METRO car....with a flashlight, a stun-gun, and $4k walkie-talkie that allows him to talk only with the car driver.  At 4AM each morning, over six hundred of these subway car professionals would show up at work, and each would board a METRO car.  Each shift would work in the same fashion.

Naturally, we'd need a management board, some VIPs, some trainers, and some inspectors to run this operation.  The cost would be outrageous, but.....this would be the neat and tidy solution to intercom failures throughout METRO.

We could advertise these jobs far and wide across America, and some kids in rural Alabama.....would start dreaming of a chance one day....of moving to Washington DC, and being a subway car professional.  It'd give inspiration, and who knows....maybe even the President would appoint a council to pursue this....making it like one of those solar energy ideas.  

The "Science" of Public Transportation

Yesterday, I transported myself over to Rockville, for a church service.  Being without a car, but within the DC Metro region....it ought to be real simple to travel via subway and bus....you would think.

I had done the trip planner with METRO's online service.  It all made sense.  I made my way to Rockville, and was to board bus "48" for the last four miles.  From the various stands out in front of the METRO station...."48" had strangely disappeared.  No signs...nothing.  There were at least sixteen different bus stands there....but not a "48".  And naturally, this being Sunday....you can't call that wonderful 1-800 to figure what happened to "48".

So I ventured to the taxi folks.  I boarded the taxi and met a friendly Ethiopian gal and asked her to take me to Parkland Drive.  She though I meant Park Lawn Drive....which was in the industrial area of Rockville.  We eventually came to an agreement that my southern accent turned neutral accent, and her Ethiopian interpretation....didn't work out too well....but I ended up at the right address about eight minutes before the service was to start.

I moved out quickly to meet the 12:15 bus to get back to a METRO station.....but missed that one, and waited for thirty minutes for the next.  Of course, it took me to the Wheaton METRO station, which turns out to be in renovation for the weekend.  So this screwed-up bus shuttle system took me through the METRO route to the nearest station in DC that was functioning (amazing.....four METRO stations shut down...on one weekend....all in a row).

The problem with my "no-car" attitude....is that every single trip is a 50-50 shot of working perfect.  It is anything but a science.  

Petitions

A few weeks ago, I blogged over this new government effort to have digital petitions presented to the White House, and they would consider them.  I figured it was a naive effort to show people that someone was listening, and that nothing would ever come out of this.  Well, I was wrong.

Late last week.....the White House came out and presented one of the petitions....which demanded to know if the White House was hiding anything over alien or UFO existence.  The White House decided that they'd come out and admit there were no alien contacts, no knowledge over UFOs, and no secret gateways.

I paused over this....pondering.  This is something that the Bush and Clinton administration would have never done, simply because it would have looked silly.  The truth is that even if they make these comments....most folks just don't believe their statements.  So it really didn't help in the matter.

I'm guessing they poured over the hundreds of petitions and basically.....this was the safest one that they could address and feel comfortable over.  That's a sad statement in some ways.  You end up with a list of things you'd like to be transparent on, and some that you'd prefer not to be transparent on.

And now?  We are still left with the big question....is the White House withholding information on Bigfoot?