Politics, technology, and society. And the seasonal incursion of pro cycling.

Year: 2011 (Page 1 of 8)

Credit Card Currency Conversion Fee Settlement Windfall! (Or: I Should Have Picked Option A)

Back in December of 2007, I posted about a proposed settlement for the Credit Card Foreign Transaction Fee class action suit.  Members of the class had three options for recovery:
  1. take a straight $25 settlement if you traveled outside the US at least once in this period (and simply swear to that fact);
  2. get a somewhat larger settlement based on a declaration of how many total days you spent outside the US during that period (the settlement will be based on an estimated average figured out by the credit card companies and class action representatives); or
  3. provide a substantiated record of how much money you actually spent outside of the US during that period, and receive a refund of the fees actually charged.
Despite having have spent a substantial amount via credit cards in foreign currency over the years, I ended up just going for option 2.  It just involved flipping through my passport and copying over the dates onto the claim form.  As I noted in the comments to the original post, it had to be worth something, right?  Well, almost 4 years later, I got my check. $18.04. I should have gone with Option A, eh? (Also, if you submitted a claim?  Watch your mail closely.  It doesn't look like a check at all.  I nearly threw this one out.)


Arlington National Cemetery, December 2011

Leave the Governing to Sodomites and Infidels

Virginia Justice for Cyclist Left in Coma By Reckless Driver

You might have heard of the case of Michael Sprick, a German cyclo-tourist who has been in a coma since October.  He was enjoying the roads near Roanoke, Virginia as part of a NY-Miami tour, when he was hit by a truck driven by Norman Marchant.  Mr. Marchant was convicted of driving with a suspended license and reckless driving yesterday.  It appears he was fined $600.  The 90-day jail sentence was suspended.  I want to talk a little more about what happened, and how authorities responded, but I think it's best to start off with a report from Carol Colby, who was present for the trial.

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Clarendon Cycles: Arlington Deserves Better Connections to the MVT

Today's column was borne of a long running frustration with the lack of a decent connection between Columbia Pike and the Mount Vernon Trail.  The proposed solutions - running past the Pentagon or connecting Long Bridge Park - would still require some connecting work to Columbia Pike.  But the connections themselves would be the hardest part of the project.  It's a shame the Pentagon can't be a better neighbor (and employer - loads of people working there would benefit from such a connection).    

Clarendon Cycles: Thankful for Cycling in Arlington

Last week's Clarendon Cycles piece was a departure from my usual kvetching about how this or that could be improved in Arlington.   I took the holiday as an opportunity to recognize how much has been accomplished in Arlington.  There remains much to be done, of course, but we should be pretty damn proud of what we've got.

C&O Canal Overnight

Widewater, along the C&O Canal For years, my summer to-do list contained: "Ride out on the C&O Canal, camp" on it. This despite the fact that I'm not really much of a camper.  And maybe it's because I'm not much of a camper that I've let it slide, year after year. Took the opportunity last week to fix that, and I'm glad I did. While I do lots of dumb things on bikes, I've never actually gone touring. So this was something of a test ride - from home to Harpers Ferry, WV and back. That's 112 miles from my doorstep, and only ~6 on the road. If I tried, I could have cut it down to less than 2. I live in the middle of a real city, so how cool is that? Things I learned:
  • Muddy C&O = greatly reduced pace.
  • I made too many assumptions about water/food availability and backups. While I ultimately figured out that you can use the pumps (despite the NPS taking the handles away), that's HARD (seriously, my arms still hurt from that).
  • While I gave my bike a once-over for general mechanical issues, I didn't think too much about checking that things like the fender mounts were tight. Vibrated one right off, and ended up cannibalizing a light mount to fix it (i.e., keep it from annoying me for the rest of the ride).
The C&O is a great place to test things out. Far enough away from things to make it interesting, close enough for help if it really does go wrong.  Photoset here.

The Word “Brinicle” Doesn’t Begin to Convey . . .

how amazing this is:

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Opinions and the Fixation Thereof

It turns out that Kansas Gov. Brownback is kind of sensitive about what people think of him:
But Brownback’s office, which monitors social media for postings containing the governor’s name, saw [a 14 year old] Sullivan’s post [that imagined her telling the Governor that he, essentially, "sucked"]  and contacted the Youth in Government program. Sullivan received a scolding at school and was ordered to send Brownback an apology letter. She said Prinicipal Karl R. Krawitz even suggested talking points for the letter she was supposed to turn in Monday.
Mostly, I think it's kinda funny.  Seriously, the random twittering of a 14 year old girl is worth your reaction?  Kinda makes Sam sound like an insecure 14 year old girl himself, doesn't it?  If that threatens you, you must be terribly insecure in your own position, no? In any event, I wonder how this sort of thing will play out over time.  Some places, like Thailand, can't abide criticism of some people at all.  And as ridiculous as that approach seems to many of us, right now, you wonder if that's going to be the practical approach, in the future.  And remember, Americans, you've already been told - by a president's press secretary - to watch what you say.  

10:15/Saturday Night: Metric Edition

Metric's Help I'm Alive (Acoustic).  Strongly associated with a place and time for me, but it's something I think will survive for a very long time:

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