Thursday, March 27, 2008

Apartment Hunting

My wife and I have been looking at apartments for a month now, and I just have to say, it's amazing how frustrating it can be. Every place we've looked has been missing one key detail that we want. And who advertises an apartment these days without mentioning that it doesn't have a dishwasher? Oh well. The search continues.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, all in Watertown!

I got lunch at Russo's again today. For those who haven't been there, it's a market in Watertown, MA, where you can get all manner of fresh fruits and vegetables. They have a nice cheese counter, and a small but good deli counter. It's one of the few places within an easy drive of my apartment where I can get speck (think prosciutto, but smoked). They also have a great Italian bakery in the corner, and make subs for the lunch crowd. It's a great deal, and there's always some fruit I haven't tried that looks interesting - a great way to increase your fruit and veggie intake, by the way. If you haven't tried it, it's work a look. Be warned, there's no butcher section to speak of, so it may not work as your only grocery store!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Sol Re-victus

And now it's raining again, and will continue to rain for several days.  Yay.


Sol Invictus

I love winter - for about two months. Three at the most. By the end of February, I am ready for spring. The grey skies, chilly weather (if not downright bitter cold) and general dreariness of the post-holiday weeks collect in my soul like a cancer. I don't want to get out of bed. I don't want to go out for a walk. I don't want to go to work. I don't want to do much of anything. I do, of course, because otherwise the paychecks evaporate and my friends and family start looking at me in alarming ways, but I gradually become a grouchy, cranky mess as February progresses.

The last week has been a mix of rain, sleet, wind, and a sky the color of steel. You can imagine my joy and surprise, therefore, when I awoke this morning to a most glorious sight. The sun had returned. I walked out my front door, and realized that unlike the past few months, the sun this time had brought with it a wonderful friend, warmth. I stood in my parking lot, my arms out, facing the sun, and exulted for a moment as the first timid waves of spring washed over me. It was wonderful. I think as I drive home tonight, the sunroof will be open. It's just too damn nice to not take full advantage.

I know in another week it will again be sleeting, and grey, and cold. But for now, for this one moment, this one day, it is sunny, and warm, and alive. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Vultures and Other Despicable Creatures

Today, a call came to my home number from a woman who said she was calling from a firm that I'll decline to name here. They were looking for me, by name, regarding the affairs of a relative that recently passed away. We'll call that relative Judy Smith, for the sake of anonymity. We'll call the firm Vultures Inc, for the sake of bitterness. We'll call the person who called Amber.

Let me state here that I am not inheriting any money or other property from this person. I have no interest in doing so. I attended the funeral, mourned their passing, and reflected upon the love they had given me in life. That was it, I thought.

I called back to the number left for me. It was an 800 number. I was told that the number had "new information," and I should press any digit to receive a text message with access info. I pressed a number, knowing that I have more texts per month than I currently use. I received a text telling me to reply with a Y to receive access information, and this info could be mine for $9.95/month. I did not reply, and deleted the message. As you can imagine, my vulture alarm began blinking.

I used a common search engine, the creators of which would prefer we not use the name of their site as a verb - let's just say it rhymes with oogling - to find the company in question. I called their main number, and asked for Amber, both by extension and name. I was put through to a number answered by a man. He was very vague, and said he worked with Amber, but that she was currently "on the other line." He asked if I was "managing Judy Smith's estate." He may have said affairs, rather than estate, but you get the idea. I told him I was not. He asked me if I knew who was. I told him I did not. Both answers were and are, incidentally, the complete truth. I also asked him to note in the file that I do not wish to receive any further contact from his company or any of its representatives regarding this matter. I said that I was sorry I sounded upset, but having lost a relative, I was somewhat taken aback that someone would call me regarding that relative's finances without any evidence that I was the correct person. He muttered something about, "understanding where I was coming from." He also said he couldn't note anything in my account, but he'd "pass along my message to Amber." We ended the call there. My vulture alarm began beeping.

I asked the advice of my boss, who had far more legal and financial experience than I do. He offered some suggestions, and I called back, to ensure that I did not get drawn into any legal wranglings in the future. I called their main number again, and asked for Amber, both by name and by extension. At first, the receptionist didn't know of any Amber working there, but was able to transfer me to that extension. The man who answered said that Amber was unavailable. When I said that I was told to talk to Amber, he said he was Amber's supervisor. I said something like, "Ah, OK," at which point he asked if I was managing Judy Smith's estate. I said that before I answered, I wanted to know to whom I was speaking. He gave me his name, and spelled it. I answered that I was not handling Judy Smith's affairs. He asked me if I knew who was. I told him I did not. I then told him that as I have nothing to do with this matter, I did not want to be contacted further by his organization or its representatives about this matter. He asked me to confirm the number at which they called me, and the name they used when asking for me. I confirmed both. He said he'd note in the file that I had been called, and was not the correct person. He said they didn't really have a way of noting that I was not to be called, but that since I wasn't the person they needed, they weren't going to spin their wheels, so I shouldn't hear from them again. I thanked him, and ended the call. My vulture alarm began ringing like a collision gong.

That's it for now. Hopefully, they'll move on. It really bothered me that they'd just start calling a list of family members, asking if they were handling the affairs of a recently deceased relative. Vultures. Their little system of getting you to pay when you call the number they leave is also really cute. Imagine having someone call and leave a message, asking if you are handling the affairs of a loved one you just lost , and leaving a callback number, only to tell you when you call that number that to get any info, you have to subscribe to a pay service. The absolute, unmitigated gall.

I just wanted to share this wonderful experience, since it brought just joy and light to my day. That was just what I wanted today - to have a relative I had just recently lost thrust back into my mind via a debt collection service. Nice.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Beer of the Week

If anyone is looking for a beer recommendation, Allagash White is a current favorite.  It's a nicely cloudy white ale from Maine, with a little bit of fruit and spice flavor.  It's the perfect beer for a really good burger, or a nice ribeye.

I had one at The Publick House, in Brookline, and it was perfect with the Belgian fries.  I'd give you a link for the Publick House, but, well, their site is currently disabled.  The food's good, though!