some good news…

I’m pleased to report that I got some good news on a few different fronts yesterday.

The biggest news is that my car is not a total loss and will be repaired by my auto insurance company. Thanks to any of you who offered prayers, hecatombs, sacrifices, novenas, or transcendental cosmic energy in that particular cause. It seems that the adjustor (a woman named A.) who reviewed the list of required repairs with the body shop last Thursday needed to determine if those repairs plus the salvage value of my car cost more than the retail value of my car. To do that, she needed to consult a company under contract to keep tabs on such things. A. got the number back yesterday. There is about $1500-2000 between the amount the body shop says the repairs will cost and the maximum that insurance company will pay. That’s one huge piece of financial uncertainty off my plate; I do not need to worry about buying another car in the near future.

One of my other financial concerns lately involves my ATM card. Evidently my debit card number and pin were stolen from the computer of a large retail chain a few weeks back. I keep reading rumors that this was a concerted effort by the Russian Mafia. I don’t know if that’s true, and no strange charges have shown up on my checking accounts, but my bank decided that I should have a new ATM card. They sent me a letter about this almost two weeks ago, saying “hi. your old card will go dead on Feb 21. you should get a new card within five business days.” At first, I thought that meant five business days from the date on the letter. Alas no, it means five business days from the day my old card was cancelled. So I spent Wednesday through Sunday without access to cash, except during banker’s hours.

The car thing really had me worried. I feel like Mrs. Geek and I are just getting ready to move to a different fiscal phase in our lives. We passed out of “newly married and just scraping by” to “starting to find our financial sea legs” a few months ago. Now I’m hoping that we’ll find our way to “being able to invest a little in our future together” one of these months soon. Having to buy a car would have delayed that for a while… and made a few plans we have in the works more difficult to execute.

Deep breaths. Relief.

my mind is in New Orleans


My mind is on New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf states this weekend. There is a lot of hype around Mardi Gras, but that is such a small part of the whole picture of what is going on down there. People are still going to be without homes on Wednesday. The rebuilding process is just beginning.

Note to self: Mrs. Geek and I need to make a donation to Habitat for Humanity to do our part.

To help keep the New Orleans state of mind, I decided to cook up a big ol’ pot of red beans and rice for dinner tonight. Yum! I decided to cook it up with brown rice to take advantage of all those rice and beans aminos and get a little extra dietary fiber. True, it’s got a ham hock and andouille sausage in it, so it can hardly be called vegetarian… but I’m trying to get more soluable fiber and plant aminos where I can these days.

Anybody got a favorite recipe for tofu? Blackened maybe?

sometimes the past repeats…

Well, the biggest news in my life at the moment is that my car is in the shop and we’re waiting for the insurance company to send out an appraiser to determine if they’ll pay for the damage. It seems that I have particularly bad luck when it comes to automotive collision. The crash produced the equivalent of one of those bullet wounds that leaves a little hole on the outside, but turns vital organs to mush. That is to say, yes, the crash crumpled up a section of the hood, and displaced a headlight, but it also bent a cross member that holds the radiator in place, cracked the radiator, and bent the unibody of the car.

The assistant manager was decidedly non-committal about whether or not the insurance company would repair the car or declare it a total loss. Based on Kelley Blue Book, I think there is hope for the former, but it may be a close thing. Please keep those digits crossed and make appropriate offerings to the God/Goddess/Old One of your choice. I don’t want to buy another car right now.

This automotive status update is not the subject of my entry today, however.

Rather, I want to write about an incident that occured on my way home on Saturday night. Since the car accident occurred on my way to visit friends and disabled my car, I took the train home. As I explained to my parents that I was in an auto accident by cell phone while in the train, I noticed a lovely young woman, in her mid-20’s sitting about 5 seats away from me. The color of her hair, the shape of her face, and her general demeanor reminded me of a woman with whom I was briefly acquainted about 12 years ago.

I met her in the University weight room.I used to go there on an almost daily basis in those days. It being one of the few places I was able mingle with students of the opposite sex (grad computer science classes and computer labs were not doing it for me), I used to try to make conversation with some of the pretty women I used to see there on a regular basis. I even asked a few of them out… with generally miserable results.

The woman on the train reminded me of one of the women I asked out. We were on our way across campus on a municipal bus and engaged in idle chit chat. Shortly before my stop, I asked her out for coffee. She got a shy little look on her face and said no because she had a fiancee, but said she was very flattered.

A few minutes after I recalled this long buried memory, I saw a man sit down in a seat near hers. The began to engage in idle chit-chat. I recall hearing a couple questions about where each of them was from, and their respective destinations. I then started a short phone call… because my previous call to my parents was cut short due to loss of signal. As that phone call ended, I heard the man finish a question to the woman. What it was, I don’t exactly know because my attention was still partially elsewhere. All I really heard was “no… thank you… I’m really flattered… but I have a boyfriend… he is the one coming to visit.”

All I could think was that the past still repeats, even though the players sometimes change.

dumb, dumb, dumb

Well, I got into a car wreck over the weekend. It was my second wreck ever, and the second in about five years. I was driving in traffic on a four lane road with my brain thinking of about three different things, looked down at the dash, and didn’t bother to notice a traffic stoppage until it was too late. Breaks squealed. There was smoke from burning rubber. I hit a car in front of me and then bumped into a truck in the lane next to me somehow. Honestly, the adrenaline took over after I saw my car closing in on the one in front of me and I’m not exactly sure what happened.

No one was hurt, thankfully. I guess I was able to slow down enough to prevent any injuries. My car was damanged though… and my pride.

I spent a lot of time over the weekend feeling embarassed, and feeling like the dumbest human being on earth. The feelings washed over me in great surging waves like aftershocks of an earthquake, at first. The size and frequency of those waves progressively decreased with time. I now have only an occasional twinge… when I think about how much worse it could have been or worry that there is some large consequence, injury, or expense out there, still undetected.

In other news, I used Turbo Tax to complete the Geek family taxes last night. Among the other taxes deductions presented to me, I found these:

  • Crime Hotline Reward (In case I won that America’s Most Wanted reward lottery or something?)
  • Beverage Container Recycling Income (Ooooh… good thing that I didn’t take those $200 worth of beer and soda containers down to the store for the nickel refund on each.)
  • Sale of a debt instrument issued (at a discount) in 1985 or 1986 (Damn, mine was issued at at discount in 1987!)
  • Cost-share payments relating to forest land (Note to self: talk to travel agent about the advantages of owning a forest on a time-share basis.)
  • Compensation for false imprisonment (We all can’t be like Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive, now can we?)
  • Ottoman Turkish Empire Settlement Payments (Ok, this one eludes me.)

Sadly, Mrs. Geek and I qualify for none of these this year. We are simply happy that there will be a significant refund this year.

eating in space.

I notice that when it comes to opening trendy new restaurants lately, you’ve got to be weird. Nobody opens a steakhouse anymore. Or a neighborhood pasta joint. It’s got to be exotic, unusual, or just plain odd. You know, stuff like “Eritrean/Filipino Fusion Cuisine”, “a Mexican Raw Food Experience”, or “Tibetan-inspired Vegan Cuisine”. It’s enough to make a body yearn for a good Philly Cheesesteak on a fresh hoagie roll, or some purist Szechuan Spicy Tofu Stir Fry with String Beans.

In my neverending quest to keep Dr. Geek Omnimedia on a solid cash footing, I’ve decided to become a cutting edge restauranteur. My first restaurant will be called space. and feature what I like to call “Astronaut cuisine”. What is Astronaut cuisine? Meticulously processed gourmet food that is inspired by the meals given to NASA astronauts in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. I figure we’ll make a lot of use of freeze drying and vacuum packing ingredients. Heck, we might just zap some foods with lasers, if we really want to get all Buck Rogers with it. I can see it now: little irradiated, vacuum-sealed chicken cordon-bleu and white truffle risoto, re-heated at table-side using a laser controlled heat convection and live steam. People will line up around the block. And oh yes, high alcohol drinks with Tang in them. Gotta have those.

Now I just need to decide if the maitre’d will be dressed in a tux or a space suit. Hmmm.

the hunting accident

I think the hunting accident where Vice President Cheney accidentally shot 78 year old lawyer Henry Whittington over the weekend pretty much represents nearly all of my discomfort with the present political Administration in miniature:

  1. The Vice President’s staff through carelessness, apathy, miscommunication, or just plain old honest mistake failed to make sure that all the correct legalities were observed. He did not have the proper hunting license.
  2. The Vice President ignored some of the basic rules of the use of force. He ignored NRA Gun Safety Rule #1: ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. In this case, he neglected to notice that there was lawyer in safety orange between his gun and the bird he was trying to shoot.
  3. Communication about the incident completely broke down. It is unclear a) when the President was told there was a hunting accident, and b) when he was told that the Vice President did the shooting. Further, it is unclear that the White House would have ever told the public if the owner of the land where the accident occured had not alerted a newspaper in Corpus Christi.

The only element needed to complete the picture would be if Mr. Whittington was denied assistance in getting to a hospital by the Vice President, his assistants, or the Secret Service because of his socio-economic background, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or political affiliation.