Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Maybe there is no such thing as a free lunch, after all.

I almost never carry cash. I use my debit card almost exclusively. I have a very specific method of dealing with the debit card receipts. Okay, let's amend that. I now have a very specific and organized method of dealing with the receipts. I used to just stuff them into a specific section of my purse, and they would dwell there, all balled up and ignored until I threw them out. NOW I keep a small binder clip in my purse, and all receipts instantly are bound into it. Several times a week I use online banking to determine that the charges have actually been deducted from my account, and that the amounts match exactly. (Sometimes they don't. Gotta be careful.) Once a charge has successfully cleared my account, I throw away the receipt.

So what does all this have to do with ANYthing, much less free lunch? Well, on 12/26 I availed myself of the drive-thru at Taco Bueno to have some Mexi-Dips and Chips, and I used my debit card. And the charge never went through. I kept that little receipt in the binder clip as days turned into weeks, and I thought "Score! Someone screwed up! Free Mexi-Dips and Chips!" Alas, yesterday, one month and two days after the purchase, the charge was presented. Where had it been floating all that time? I have no idea. Weird, huh?

So, how was my weekend? Good, actually. I scored BIG at the earring exchange on Sunday. I think I probably brought home 20 pairs of earrings, plus three bracelets, one of which I LOVE. I did manage to rummage through a drawer and find a few pairs of earrings to take, as well, including some I had made, and I'm pleased to say that someone actually chose the ones I made over the others. Go, me.

Much wine was drunk, as well. A bit too much wine, actually. I woke up about 4:00 the next morning feeling like crap. I had talked to New Guy very briefly before I went to bed, just to make sure that he had made it back safely from his weekend with the kids, so when I had dinner with him last night I asked, "Did I sound drunk last night?" "Um...yeah, a bit." "Because I didn't feel drunk last night, but when I woke up this morning, I sure felt hungover." Hee. Damn red wine.

Earlier in the weekend, I browsed the deeply discounted stacks at the bookstore and made a few purchases, stopped at the wireless store to get a car charger for my new cell phone (why don't they come standard?) and bought myself a big ol' men's Timex at Target. Why do they make women's watch faces so small? Don't they know we don't want to have to put on our reading glasses just to check the time? Don't they know we hate even admitting we now NEED reading glasses, at all? Why does only the men's watch come with a 10-year battery? Why are the women's watches both smaller AND pricier? I have many questions, apparently.

I needed to replenish my supply of reading material, because I am marching rapidly through the last of my unread stack. I'm currently reading "The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl," by Timothy Egan. Have any of you read this? Fascinating. You'd think I'd be more informed about the Dust Bowl, living in Oklahoma, but really, despite what John Steinbeck got everyone to thinking, only a small part of the state was technically a part of it. Just the Panhandle, really. And, since the Panhandle was really only added on to Oklahoma at statehood because no one else wanted "No Man's Land," (sorry, Panhandlers), there's a pretty big geographic and cultural disconnect between that area and the rest of the state. Which is why, I guess, we didn't dwell more on the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma history class.

At any rate, it's fascinating reading. I had no idea, for example, that some of the "black dusters" made it as far as the East coast before dissipating over the ocean. That so many people died of "dust pneumonia." That the static charge in the dust storms was so strong it would literally short out car engines.

And it was a completely man-made phenomenon. White men, of course. The Indians knew how to live in harmony with the plains. They hunted bison, the only grazing animal perfectly suited for the climate, and they left the prairie grass alone. White men came in and slaughtered the bison by the hundreds of thousands to force the red men to leave, so they could turn the prairie into cattle ranches. Only they didn't count on the fact that the cattle couldn't handle the temperature extremes in the area. Then the Department of Agriculture got the brilliant idea to turn it all into one giant wheat field. And it worked brilliantly...for a couple of years. Until the depression hit, and wheat prices plummeted, and a drought hit, and many of the "suitcase farmers" picked up and left...leaving the fields plowed under and unplanted. And the topsoil began to blow. And blow. And blow.

Seriously, anyone who doubts that man's actions can have a serious effect on the climate needs to read this book. Yes, the planet can withstand a lot. But fragile animal life can not.

I'm just saying.

Wow, this post was just all over the place, wasn't it? Welcome to my brain. Heh.


3carnations said...

Wow...That post WAS all over the place. :)

Glad the earring exchange went well...I chuckled at "3 bracelets, one of which I love". As though the others were not likable at all. :)

Sauntering Soul said...

I might have to organize an earring exchange for me and my girlfriends. What a great idea!

I rarely drink anymore (maybe one glass of wine every 6 or 7 months) so I haven't had a hangover in years. Ugh. My head hurts just thinking about my college days though.

nancypearlwannabe said...

I totally just put together a cart of books on the Dust Bowl and Black Blizzards for our 8th graders! They also read Out of the Dust, which is like a free-verse novel. Very interesting stuff.

gorillabuns said...

I love posts that ALL kinds of information added to the mix.

I also love free food!

Noelle said...

I'm not sure which part of this post I want to comment on. I guess I'm just distraught that I now want to add that book to my list. Not that I can handle one more story of how people messed up the earth...

Edge said...

I can tell you that I used to work for a restaurant company umm the one that wants their baby back ribs back, and in 1996 they had an old 286 computer with a modem that they processed all their CC through. It was broke half the time. That's why when you go to xxxChili'sxxx you may not get billed for a month.

It frightened me to eat there with any form of electronic payment. Also, wait staff stole credit card numbers ALL the time. These are low paid transient wait staff. They can make a mint in tips by charging your CC.

But I'm an idiot ... I still use my debit card at restaurants.


L Sass said...

An earring exchange is such a great idea! Is there a mass-sterilization before the exchange commences?

Stefanie said...

I once had a $70 charge at Target that didn't show up on my statement. I waited and waited and waited, leaving that amount in my register in case they eventually deducted it. Finally, a year and a half later, I figured I was in the clear. Whoo-hoo! Free Target spree. Sorry it was not the same with your lunch.

I don't know anything about the Dust Bowl, but I do know there are at least four songs with "Tulsa" in them. The morning show on my radio station played them ALL the other day, in some weird Tulsa set. And of course, I thought of you. :-)

As for your "Damn red wine" line, I'd just like to say to our friend wine, "Shhh. She doesn't mean it!"

don't call me MA'AM said...

I'm just amazed at how long that post was. It took me forever to write my post tonight, and it's not even half as long. I bow down to you. ;-)

As for the debit card and charges presenting... argh! Some places really irk me that they take so long to process a charge/debit. There is no excuse for it to be any longer than a week, IMO. (oh, I'm a cranky old lady, more and more, all the time.)

lizgwiz said...

3car, well, the others were perfectly fine, but the ONE--it's love.

sauntering, I don't drink often anymore, either...and when I do, I remember why. You should definitely organize a jewelry exchange!

npw, hopefully they'll be better informed than I was at their age! It's really interesting history, too.

gorillabuns, I aim to please. Hee.

noelle, it is a very interesting book. And I haven't made it to the end yet, but I know they were successful in implementing soil conservation practices, so perhaps we CAN learn sometimes.

edge, I've decided the convenience of using the debit card outweighs the risk--and I watch my bank account like a hawk. ;)

lsass, there wasn't...though I guess there should have been. Though, since this is the group that exchanged used beauty products a while back, I guess we've already been exposed to each other's germs. Heh.

stef, an all-Tulsa set--I like it. And I wish my Taco Bueno had been as derelict in their duties as your Target.

dcmm, stream of consciousness typing at its finest. And I agree, they need to process those payments. Hop to it!