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Dear bank Contact US form,

It would be really nice if you would tell me what characters are illegal, especially since I took out the parenthesis and question marks and hyphens. I guess my original submission had two apostrophes, and the complaint I just submitted didn't.

But it's a really bad sign when I try to submit a question about why I can't access my account online from Zambia, and wind up submitting a complaint about the way the form works because I can't figure out how to make my actual problem boring enough to talk about.

No love,



24 August 2011 06:44 pm
3rdragon: (Default)
I'm here in Zambia. We've spent the past four and a half days at MCC headquarters, being oriented, getting over jet lag, and preparing to go to our various assignments. A, who's in the city, is being dropped off with her host family as I type, and the rest of us, all heading for Southern Province, leave tomorrow morning. I won't get to Macha until Friday, though, because the other two get dropped off first, so arriving tomorrow isn't feasible, considering travel times and the fact that we'll need to do a certain amount of set-up work in every place.

I mentioned on the other blog that I'll be cooking for myself. Setting up a household requires an incredible amount of stuff.

I have a new phone, too. It's the fanciest phone I've ever had, and it's going to drive me crazy. )

Long story short, I'm just really glad that I'll have a computer and access to the internet, and won't need to use my phone all that often.

Things are going pretty well, though.
3rdragon: (Default)
Seven and Ace had a friend/mentor relationship that went, I care about you enough that I will sometimes lie to you. I feel like Eleven's relationship with Amy and Rory (or anyone, really), goes, I don't respect you enough to tell you the truth, or even spend time listening to you.

That is perhaps an oversimplification. But I think it expresses part of what's been bothering me.
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I hate phones.

This is WHY I hate phones. Well, not this specific issue. I've never had this specific issue before.

I've never needed a way to say, "I feel that what you just said is very ignorant and hurtful, and I would appreciate if you would give me a few minutes to recover my composure so that I can talk to you without wanting to cry."

I was always a heavy child. There are pictures of me as a three-year-old that would probably be described as "sturdy." From what I recall of my pediatrician's charts, I've been above the 80th or 90th percentile, weight-wise, my whole life. I've always been on the tall side, too, but not as much as I've been on the heavy side. I reached my full height -- I don't know, seventh grade, maybe. I have weighed what I do, give or take twenty pounds (mostly give), for at least the past ten years.

I have played field hockey and struggled with my weight. I've played lacrosse badly and struggled with my weight. I have walked over a mile to and from school and struggled with my weight. I've been a fencer and struggled with my weight. I have played sports for multiple hours a day, three or four or five days a week, and eaten pretty well, and still weighed exactly what I do now.

My research about Zambia has led me to conclude that the Zambian diet is largely starch-based. And I know, from 23 years of living in my body (plus the reasoned opinion of some medical professionals), that it is not good for me to eat mostly starches. And since the program coordinator had not yet responded to my email of a week and a half ago, I called her this afternoon.

I was not looking for her to snap her fingers and guarantee that everything would be fine. But I felt (still feel) that "It is a concern to me that there be vegetables in my diet in addition to starch" is a reasonable thing to ask for. I know that most of Zambia lives at the subsistence level, if that, but I think that it's reasonable to request that the diet I need to be healthy be at least considered while looking for my housing placement.

And if I can't be accommodated, then I will deal, and work extra-hard once I'm back in the States where I can control my food intake.

Her immediate response included, "You're looking at the effects of diet on a sedentary first-world lifestyle; I've never known a fat Zambian."

My lifestyle is pretty sedentary right now. But it hasn't always been. And weight has always been a struggle. I will also point out that I'm currently at a healthier place, weight-wise, than I've been in the past five years.

She also told me, in a kindly and gentle sort of way, that people in Zambia eat to survive and there isn't the same range of available food that there is here. I wasn't asking for an American grocery store! If there is one leafy green weed available in Zambia, I will eat the same leafy green weed every day and get very tired of it, but it will be a vegetable in my diet.

She would try to help, but she "wanted me to be more specific."

She told me that my cross-cultural experience in Spain was giving me an unrealistic view of the availability of food. (I was making this phone call partly because of the paucity of vegetables in the Spanish diet, which had been a problem for me.)

I was trying (and failing) not to cry since probably the first minute of the phone conversation, and it just went on and on and on and she kept talking and I couldn't get out of it. This was not the easiest phone call to make in the first place -- the email was hard to write; it's not something I'm all that comfortable discussing with strangers, and especially something I'm not particularly comfortable bringing attention to to ask for accommodation for. And she was implying in her nice motherly tone that I'm a spoiled, privileged kid who doesn't know how good she has it and only has trouble with her weight because of her lifestyle, and look at her quaint first-world problems.

I'm going to go knit for two hours.
3rdragon: (Default)
I found a copy of Neil Gaiman's M is for Magic on the discarded books truck at my library this afternoon.

Neil Gaiman.

This is the collection that contains "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" (Only my favorite Gaiman story ever, even more than "A Study in Emerald") and the short story that became The Graveyard Book, plus some other stuff that I don't know about BECAUSE I HAVEN'T READ IT YET.

I'm a Gaiman fan, I'm a fantasy fan, I'm a YA lit fan. I was vaguely aware that this collection existed (it came out in June 2007), but I only realized that the library had it about a month ago, at which point I promptly requested a copy. I HAVE THIS BOOK ON RESERVE. And it was on the weeded-out truck at my local library, going for free starting tomorrow (currently twenty-five cents).

This is not an abused copy. It is a clean, gorgeous hardcover that the library has maybe had for at most three years.

There were a bunch of other teen books there, too, most of them hardcover, nothing I would consider quite as much of a gem as this one (the third book about a Chosen Girl trying to live an Ordinary Life, etc, etc), but stuff that kids would read, if it were on the shelf. Most of them new-looking. Probably most of them published in the past five years.

My librarian left for lunch as I was standing there puzzling over this phenomenon, and told me quietly, "She's raping the teen collection. I don't think she's even looking them up to see if they circulate, just throwing them out." And there was definitely more fantasy than, say, Problem Novels.


And, silly me, I had been wondering why we no longer seemed to have a copy of A Coalition of Lions when I know for a fact that my local branch had a copy when I was in high school.

Why are these books being thrown out? THERE ISN'T ANY MONEY TO REPLACE THEM.

3rdragon: (Default)
So, once upon a time, Doctor Who mostly made sense, and I liked it that way. There were a couple of instances of sciencefail, but I could usually ignore them and get on with enjoying the plot, which tended to be cohesive and reasonable if I ignored that it was built on sciencefail. And mostly I didn't need to do that.

However, I've spent the past three episodes going, "What? WHAT? WHAT???" For large sections of sciencefail, plot not making sense, things not behaving the way they were previously established to . . .

Spoilery complaints. I'm up to S5E5. )

When did 'evil' become something the doctor was concerned with, anyway? I guess it showed up with Seven, some, but I don't remember it at all in Four, Five, or Six, and nowadays it's like evil is the new bubble wrap, and you can't be a cool monster without it. This isn't D&D. (Although that one episode was a bunch of clerics splitting the party on a dungeon-crawl.)

And when did we start monologuing all the time without ever actually sharing information with people? Is this don't-tell-anyone-anything season?
3rdragon: (Default)
And by World, really, I mean you. Yes, YOU, Presenter-guy from McConnell 103, with your head screwed on backwards.

- You are aware, yes, that you had between 8 and 12 DVDs and VHS tapes, which you needed to switch between over the course of your presentation, and that while this is doable, it's not the easiest thing in the world and may require a little time to set up?
- It is not my fault that there was no remote for the DVD player. AND I ran over to the CMP and got you a fresh remote which had working batteries and should have been just fine; that's the sort of remote we use in all of the rooms - except, apparently, in this one - and while I didn't know that just by looking at it, Damon didn't know that we used a different system in that room, either.
- Your attitude of You vs. Lab Consultant was not at all productive in this situation. I tried to get you to engage in a mood of Us vs. Electronic Components, which in my experience works much better, and you were not interested.
- You were not even willing to consider the idea that I might be good at my job, and the moment there was the slightest hitch, you leapt to disparaging me. I don't know if this was because I'm a student, or because I'm a woman, or because I'm wearing sandals today, or because I'm not old enough to drink legally, or if you treat everyone this way, but I behaved in a professional manner and dressed in something like business casual, and it might behoove you to treat people like they're actual human beings.
- You still refused to believe that I was even remotely competent, even after I solved several problems for you.

I will admit that it did not occur to me to use the computer for the DVD when the DVD player wasn't working, but I would like to point out that you really didn't give me much chance to do anything after I couldn't get you to the menu on your first DVD using the buttons on the DVD player itself.

I can accept but do not appreciate your behavior towards me. I can accept but do not appreciate the way that you made it abundantly clear that you had no faith in my abilities and wanted to know if there was "anyone else I could call." I can accept but do not appreciate the manner in which you pointedly stated that you had requested that there be someone present "who was able to use the equipment in the room." What I can't deal with is the fact that while I was outside calling my boss to come deal with the situation - at your request - you went over my head and talked to the science secretary and got her to call tech support (with, mind you, absolutely not mention that there was already a lab technician present). Excuse me, but I am tech support! And maybe we would have gotten somewhere if you'd been at all inclined to work with me rather than spending all your energy trying to find someone else. I know that you think I'm incompetent. But I am smart enough to know when I need reinforcements, and you could at least trust me to be able to dial a phone. Furthermore, while Patricia has worked here longer, I work in the CMP, which means that I deal with McConnell much more frequently than she does.

I hope your precious VHS tapes melt in a gooey mess.
3rdragon: (Default)
I woke up at 7:30 this morning. Or 6:30, depending on how you think about it. Which is WAY too early to be up on a Sunday morning, particularly a Sunday morning following the week I've had. Particularly a Sunday morning following the week I've had when I spent an hour and a half last night watching light move and following considerably less of the conversation than usual. Particularly a Sunday with last week and last night and the fact that I was extremely teary all yesterday, which is a sure sign that I haven't gotten enough sleep (or that I'm miserably unhappy, but in this case it was the sleep).

Last night was the time change! I was looking forward to being able to sleep in without really sleeping in, and finally having enough sleep. And it should be stated that I did get enough sleep for last night, a good nine hours or so, but I think that it would have behooved me to spend this morning catching up on other sleep I hadn't gotten.

And while I'm complaining about things, why do most of my friends have the annoying habit of rambling on about things that I really don't care about? (or that I have only a very mild interest in and don't care that much about?) I thought it was bad in high school, with the Buffy obsession. Then last year everyone was talking about Vampire, and I realized that having just one friend ranting isn't really that bad, because she doesn't have anyone to bounce off of and escalate with. So last year we set the moratorium, and I cultivated friendships with people whose every other word did not relate to game. Now this year, those friends I made while avoiding the LARP? They're all talking about The Window! Constantly. And I hear from all their characters, too. And this is worse than last year, because I hang out with one group of them, and they tell me about an in-game incident. And then later, another person will join us, and I'll hear all about it from her character's perspective! And they say that I shouldn't hang out with them if I don't want to hear about game, but I made friends with them before they joined this crazy rpg, darnit! And I liked hanging out with them.

As you can tell, I'm feeling rather grumpy right now. I'm also feeling very hungry. These two things are probably related. However, since I only had one proper meal yesterday, and a distinct shortage of hot food, I really don't want to go to the continental breakfast and munch on stale bagels and cold cereal. Also, I still need to read the last third of El Collar De La Paloma, but I don't want to do that, either. Maybe I'll get dressed and borrow Inda from the SSFFS library, and then sit in Chase/Duckett and glower at passersby until hot food emerges. Who knows, I might even get lucky and the dining hall staff with have forgotten to change the clocks. Probably not. But they might take pity on us if there are enough hungry time-changed people and set it out a bit early.

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