Monday, March 27, 2006

My saga with WaMu

Here is a complaint letter I tried to write to Washington Mutual. I got a CD with them because of their great interest rate here, 4.4% on a 6 month CD. That's the best I've seen in a while. The staff there was very friendly. Anyway, they have on line banking and here begins my story. I tried to set up an online banking account. I called in twice before, but it turns out I was trying to create the account too soon after it was opened. So I waited a week. Then I tried again. Here's the email I was going to send them:

I am writing to let you know of some problems I had signing up with online banking. I am using Mozilla 1.7.2 on windows XP.

The first issue was that I could not associate my CD with my user name. I only have a CD with WaMu, so I do not have a pin number. I clicked on the link that said "Access your account with other information." I filled in my other information, then it gave me an error saying my account number had to be 10 or 11 digits long. My account number is 15 digits long. This meant I had to call customer support. The customer service representative was very helpful, but I was annoyed that I had to 1) change my user name since she created a new account for me and 2) call in in the first place.

The second problem I had was after I was mailed my new user name and password, I had to agree to various user agreements. On the second agreement (I believe it was the online bill pay one), I accepted it and I got a "file not found on server" for page I was able to get around that by changing the url in the browser to, but I suspect this isn't how you want the agreement accepted.

My account works fine now.

I understand that providing an error free web application is difficult, but as a new customer hitting two such errors makes me have second thoughts about the reliability of WaMu. I hope you can address these concerns so that other customers will have a better initial experience than I have had.

Thank you for your time.

Now I did not send them this letter. Why you may ask? Because they only have an email form to submit email. (Can you see where this is going?) I tried to submit it and got an error saying they couldn't submit my email and to call customer support. So I did. And the nice man on the other end typed it up for me and sent it. He also told me if I got rid of a few of the zeros in my account number that it would be the correct length. Now I had tried that, I just hadn't gotten rid of enough of the zeros. But it still remains that there was no way for me to know that about the account number.

Anyway it is all over now and my banking works, so I'm happy.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Recipe: Chocolate Mint York Peppermint Patties

This recipe is based on this one over at recipezaar. I changed it because I didn't have enough peppermint and I loved how they came out.

Chocolate Mint York Peppermint Patties
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
6 c powdered sugar
1/2 to 1 Tbsp peppermint extract (to taste)
1 1/2 Tbsp cocoa (or more to taste)
1 tsp vanilla
24 oz chocolate chips
4 T shortening

  1. Mix milk, peppermint, cocoa, and vanilla together. If you have a stand up mixer, use it.
  2. Mix in sugar until it forms a stiff, (mostly) non-sticky dough. (If you are not using a mixer, mix in what sugar you can, then kneed in the rest.)
  3. Roll dough into mint sized balls (about 1 inch) and place on waxed paper. (These are sweet and rich, so bite sized is better.)
  4. Let dry for 2 hours on each side (total of 4 hours). If you live in a dry climate like Utah, let dry 1 hour on each side.
  5. Melt chocolate chips and shortening in microwave according to bag instructions. Or melt for 1 minute on high, stir, and melt in 30 second increments until the chips are melted. Use 1 Tbsp shortening to 6 oz chips. (I melted half a bag at a time. This let me use it up before the chips hardened.)
  6. Put the balls in the chocolate and roll around until coated then remove with a fork. Set on wax paper to harden
  7. Enjoy

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

We're all related

I was reading this article on Slate. Basically it was talking about how in the controversial Davinci Code, people are literal descendants of Jesus. If this were true (who knows), then pretty much anyone alive today would be related to him. The idea presented is that as you go back in time, there are fewer people, so after a few 1000 years everyone has the same set of ancestors from that time no matter where they live.

I've seen something similar to this in my family's own genealogy. From lines that go back far enough, they're all related. (Of course, my sample is skewed because there are very few lineages that go back very far because there are so few records. )

And, of course, we're all related through Adam and Noah :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Last week, I read on Matt Astle's blog about the Endurance, a ship that was destroyed in the Antartic. Ernest Shackleton was in charge of an expedition, a daring attempt to cross the South Pole. Unfortunately, the ship was destroyed in the ice. The 26 people were faced with the daunting task of getting home. They first camped on the ice, then managed to sail in life rafts to uninhabited Elephant Island. Then Shackleton and five others got in the life raft and sailed an additional 600 miles across open ocean to South Georgia Island, a whaling station. When they made it to South Georgia, they landed on the uninhabited side of the island. Shackleton and two others crossed the unexplored, glacier covered interior of the island to get help. All 26 people survived.

It is that last part, that all survived, that really gets me. So many polar expeditions ended in death. For the men to have all survived and actually been in fairly good spirits through out is a testament to human determination and the hand of providence.

I read South written by Shackleton since it available for free on Project Gutenberg. I later checked out Endurance, by Caroline Alexander from the library. I loved Alexander's book because of the pictures taken by Hurley during the expedition and subsequent adventure. I also liked the bigger picture she was able to present since she was able to draw from many different sources.

One thing South brings out that Alexander doesn't is what happened to the other ship in the expedition. The idea behind the expedition was to cross the South Pole, to do that, they needed someone to cache provisions for them since it was impossible for them to carry all they needed themselves. The second ship, the Ross, broke loose from its anchor and stranded a large number of people. It took months for help to come. The party from that ship wasn't so lucky, losing three members, including the captain, before rescue.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Not too Taxing

As of this morning, my taxes are done (and there was great rejoicing.) My husband was nice enough to do them for us. He's saving up to buy a bigger telescope, so I told him that if he would do the taxes, he could have 25% of the return for his personal spending money. It was amazing how fast the taxes were done and ready to go :)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Slipping up

My basement couch needed some help. It was given to us for free several years ago from a neighbor, who got it from her parents. It was her mother's first nice couch. Anyway, it is a comfortable couch, great for napping. My kids loved to play with all 6 cushions that went with it. However, it was starting to show its age. The cushion covers were ripped. First, I thought I'd make slip covers for it. Didn't end up working out, I hate cutting things to size and I have great difficulty telling if something is straight. I didn't like the look of commercial slip covers and they were so expensive. I considered a new couch, but my husband didn't see the point.

But at last I was saved, Wal-mart had Hometrends Microsuede sofa slipcovers on clearance ($50). So I got a brown one (only kind they had). I like it so far. It has a one cover for the cushions and one for the rest of the sofa. It looks pretty good and even sort-of resembles suede. Even better, it doesn't look like I threw a sheet over the couch. Hurray!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Pride and Prejudice

Last Tuesday I went out and rented the new Pride and Prejudice. I didn't get the chance to see it in theaters, so I was waiting for it to come out on DVD. First question: Why didn't they release it for Valentines / Singles Awareness Day? Of course, no guy would buy that movie for his significant other because then he'd have to watch it :) So after my children went to bed, I watched it. I liked it OK. I'd definitely watch it again and if it was given to me as a gift I'd keep it, but I don't think I'd buy it myself. Of course, my view is tainted by the A&E version.

I liked Darcy in this one. At first I thought he was unattractive, but by the end of the movie he had grown on me. I liked Lizzie. Just the right amount of spunk. I thought Jane looked weird and didn't seem as nice as she was supposed to be.

I thought the father looked a little odd. The dad from the A&E version was much better. I did like how they made the father kinder than he was in the book.

I really didn't like Mr. Bingly. What a twit, and what an insane hair style. I also didn't find Wickham particularly attractive.

I also didn't like some of the liberties they took with the story, especially the ending after they were married. I might have liked it more were I watching it with a group of friends. Also, the letters were greatly abridged, but I can't fault them much with that because it is hard to deal with letters in a movie.

Issues with movies in general:
1) Jane is supposed to be the prettiest of the sisters. Why is the actor they choose to play Jane always less attractive than Lizzie? (Answer: Lizzie is the protagonist, but still...)

As long as I'm on the topic, I do have to recommend These Three Remain by Pamela Aidan. It covers from when Lizzie goes to visit Mrs. Collins until the end of the book from Mr. Darcy's perspective. It is the third book in a trilogy, but I have no desire to read the other two books since this one covers my favorite part of Pride and Prejudice. (Note: I had to order it online since none of the bookstores around me carried it.)