Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

These Shoes Are Made For…?

10 July 2005

Yesterday, mom happened to pick up a cool pair of shoes, telling me that the store carried wide sizes. And, if we had time, maybe we could go back today and see if there were any shoes for me.

So we trundled off to The Walking Company, which claims to have “The Best Brands from Around the World.” I picked up a couple of variants on the style I was looking for and sat down. The lady asked what size I needed, and I said 10 wide.

Now granted, it’s not an easy shoe size to find — even stores that sell wide shoes often stop at 9 wide. However, I had this expectation that a company specializing in walking shoes would sell shoes that actually fit people — including, perhaps, myself.

“Oh, we don’t carry wide shoes,” the clerk replied. She suggested I try Nordstrom (which doesn’t carry that type of shoe, and usually stops at 9 wide) or Easy Spirit (same issue).

Mom and I walked out of the store.

On the way home, we happened to visit Footwear, Etc., which is a great local chain. I picked up a similar shoe (same brand that mom had bought the day before) and asked if they came in a 10 wide.

“No, I’m sorry, they don’t.”

“So, do you have any men’s styles like this that aren’t in black or brown?”

And voila, they did, but in navy (one of my favorite colors). And they were on sale and they had the size that fit me.

Was that so freakin’ hard?

That’s why I keep winding up at Footwear, Etc. — I’ve been buying my shoes there ever since I started working at Kepler’s and needed good walking shoes for my daily work.

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Risk Management Associates files for Bankruptcy

09 July 2005

I haven’t mentioned much about the credit industry in my blog. I can’t pass up this opportunity, though.

A few years ago, my husband and I both paid the same bill, though our payments were only credited once. When the company refused to correct their payment crediting error, I cancelled their services, only to find out that they sent me to a collection agency even though they owed me $ (yes, I’d gone through all the written disputes promptly, meeting all the legal requirements for disputing bills).

Well, it was worse than that — they didn’t send the debt to be collected, they sold it to a third party.

Recently, there’s been a spree of junk debt buyers who have been doing the IPO thing. It’s been touted as “the next big thing,” but it suffers from all the downside (and then some) that junk bonds suffered from. Frankly, the risk quality overall is way way worse than junk bonds — while some of the debt is legitimate, a significant percentage is simple billing errors that weren’t sorted out.

Anyhow, knowing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, I wrote the company, asking for validation of the debt as well as the address, etc. I received back a letter that said, not kidding, “our client says that you owe this.” That’s verbatim.

Now, the law requires the following (emphasis added):

(b) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.

In short, they didn’t obtain nothing, but they did dun me at the bottom of the letter and insert an item onto my credit reports after receiving my letter — both in blatant violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (and the Fair Credit Reporting Act).

Certain that I did not in fact owe the amount in question, I wrote their general counsel a snarky note. The account was closed and the items removed from my credit report pretty promptly.

Really, think about it — they figured that ALL the FTC and private lawsuit settlements was worth the business risk of not even trying to compete with the law. Such arrogance! It also says to me that the FTC is perceived as having no teeth at all when it comes to matters of consumer credit and debt collection. It’s pretty obscene how bad the situation has to be before the FTC steps in.

Others, however, were not so lucky — I know several people who’ve had to sue RMA. Given their business practices, I’m delighted to hear that they filed for bankruptcy and are being bought by one of their competitors.

So, given that RMA’s revenue in 2002 was $295 million, I’m finding it highly amusing that they were just sold for 119 million. How the mighty have fallen.

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Postgres, ugh

08 July 2005

I’m fairly tolerant of things that have fiddly bits for setting stuff up. However, I’d had a postgres install that had previously not been All There ™, so it was more fiddly than it had to be.

Anyhow, I’m tired of arguing with it. I don’t need it that much more than mysql, cool stuff or no cool stuff.

Bah.

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Rails Update

06 July 2005

By now, everyone and their brother has heard that Ruby on Rails 0.13 has been released. Right now, I’m updating the third machine today. Some people have had minor issues with the upgrade, but my app’s pretty new and some of the features are cool.

With that news, the final beta of the Rails book also came out today (not coincidentally).

On a side note, related only because the web app is written in RoR, I signed up for Backpack today. I already have a free Basecamp account, but I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d actually prefer Backpack.

So far, I do. I’m much more likely to pay for the lowest rung of Backpack than Basecamp, even though Basecamp does more stuff. Right now, I’m using Backpack to keep my Summer classwork in line. In order to spackle some holes in my software development and design skills, I’m taking summer classes in Java, Javascript, and Photoshop.

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Westercon in Brief

03 July 2005

  1. Too many panels, but all of them good. Three more tomorrow. Whee!
  2. Westercon 60 will be in San Jose. Page by moi, though I’m not done yet and I’ve changed part of the color scheme.
  3. Calgary is a neat city.
  4. Westin Calgary is a nice hotel except for one thing: no easy non-stair access to most of the function space for the knee-impaired. There are wheelchair lifts, but they don’t solve the problem for many.
  5. Flying home on Monday. Independence day in two countries in one weekend. Whee!
  6. I had one of those Great Panel Moments in a budding author’s life. Thanks to Connie Willis!
  7. I met Sherry, a writer based in Calgary, who is a lot of fun.
  8. Why would a hotel close their restaurant on Sundays? ::sigh:: I had a great dinner there on Thursday and wanted to go Back. Rick arrived so late on Friday that the restaurant would have been closed (had it not been Canada Day and the restaurant was closed for that anyway). Saturday was the Locus banquet. Sunday the restaurant is closed. Monday, I’m leaving before dinner.
  9. I wonder about the relevance of a Locus Banquet when almost zero of the winners were present.

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Eye Ouch

29 June 2005

I noticed that my eye was dry and scratchy last night. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this wasn’t just another case of “add eye drops,” but rather a rather I’d scratched my cornea. This time, it wasn’t the eye prone to minor scratches I can deal with. No, I’ve got the full light sensitivity, watery eye, and much pain.

I’d never had a corneal scratch until I moved to the bay area, either. Since moving here in 1999, I’ve been to specialists four times for major scratches.

Why do I get them? Allergies.

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Westercon Schedule

28 June 2005

I finally got my Westercon schedule entered into iCal. Phew! My wrist was hurting by the end; I’m that busy. If you’d like to download my schedule (iCal format), click here. (Note: link deleted as it’s years out of date.)

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