Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Not in the cards

It's been a hard past week as far as card-carrying goes.
First, my daughter got a call from her bank telling her it appeared there were fraudulent charges on her credit card.
The caller said there were three charges that looked funny on her account and her card was being frozen.
I felt bad for her.
It's always such a pain to change over all of your online accounts and auto pay bills.
We tried to think of where we'd shopped that was shady when we went out for our Tuesday night mother/daughter adventures.
The next day I was standing in line at the grocery store waiting to check out when the cashier handed me back my Visa card.
"Do you have another card?" she asked me. "That one isn't working."
Taken aback, I tried the card again.
"I know I have money in my account," I said, realizing that sounded lame to all the people backing up in the line behind me.
"Nope. It isn't working," confirmed the cashier after a second try.
"Does it tell you why?" I asked.
She flipped the screen around to show me where it said, "Card declined!"
"No, this is all it will tell us," she said. "Do you have another card?"
Embarrassed, I handed her my American Express for my $6 purchase.
As soon as I was finished, I called the credit union from the store.
"Yeah," said the guy who answered the phone. "Unless you ordered something from Digital River for $175.31, it looks like a fraudulent charge. You'll need to come in an get a new card."
I headed down to the bank and handed over my card for shredding and got a shiny new card.
Then I went to put gas in my car in a bit of a hurry. I was late now.
The card wouldn't work. I was ticked. It's always worked before.
Since the station is changing owners, I thought maybe my card wasn't going to be good there anymore.
So I headed inside to pay the live teller, getting in line behind a dozen or so people getting candy and drinks.
"Oh, we've had a little trouble," the teller said gaily when I reached the front of the line. "But it should work from now on."
Then I came home to try and pay my new Scheel's card bill online.
I tried and failed. I tried again and called support. They said it's in Marc's name so I should use his personal information. I focused and tried it in Marc's name. I still failed. I tried phoning for help again. The guy said I could pay it by phone for a $15 fee.
Maybe I'll just throw it out the window.
Obviously, this is not my week for working with plastic and wires...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rocky Mountain Express

I could say the most remarkable thing about the new IMAX movie showing at the Clark Planetarium is that Marc stayed awake for the whole thing.
(He has this habit where he starts to yawn and relax when he sees a dark theater or a church pew.)
But the movie is so remarkable that it wouldn't be fair to knock it for a cheap laugh.
It's the story of the Canadian Pacific Transcontinental railroad built in the late 1800's and early 1900's across mountains and rivers and through solid granite.
The cinematography is spectacular and the music is gorgeous and somehow the filmmaker Stephen Low tells this dramatic and haunting story in 45 minutes.
The footage follows steam engine 2816, rebuilt for the occasion, as it moves on track laid across Canada with hand labor and black powder.
In some sections, only five feet of track was laid each day while an average of six men died for each finished mile of track.
At one time, 10,000 men were working on the tracks in their wagons precariously parked on the snowy granite mountainside.
The work was laborious, impossible and I'm not sure that it would be attempted today.
Crazy people were in charge and seemed determined to finish at whatever the cost in human life and cash.
Tunnels, 5-mile, 9-mile and 15-mile tunnels, were carved through the mountains.
Spiral tracks took the trains off the steeply pitched route for some of the time, making it possible to navigate.
The big, powerhouse steam engines chugged across bridges supported by mile-high trestles and stone pillars.
Avalanches, rock slides and the treacherous Selkirk and Rocky Mountains stood in the way.
Winter brought incredible amounts of snow and ice.
People died to make this enterprise exist.
Some engines derailed.
One blew up.
Most of them, though, plugged along steadily for hundreds of miles, opening up the West, creating tourism and connecting the country.
It makes for a brilliant, absorbing film that is very much like taking an actual ride on the train.
There's a sense of destiny, power and adventure in every turn of the wheel.
Plunging into dark tunnels and around the bends is exhilarating.
The show plays every day for a while at the planetarium and, right now, there's open seating until people figure out this is something there to see.
Climb aboard.
(You can see a trailer for it at:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Enjoying the moment

I wasn't going to talk much online about my recent surgery but I'm breaking my own rule because I can and because this stranger lady has got me going.
I was at a play.
It had been about a week since the surgery so I was feeling pretty proud of myself for being out and about.
But I was still being careful so I didn't leave the area of my seat for an intermission treat.
I stood up to let Marc go get us something chocolate.
As he tried to get by the people next to me, the lady chirped "Marc! How are you?"
I looked at Marc's face.
Clearly he had no idea who this person was.
He looked panicked.
"Uh, hi!!!" He said, rather forcefully. "How are you!!"
The lady proceeded to tell him her name and introduce her husband and talked as if she knew both of us from way back.
I desperately searched my memory banks. Were these people in our ward? Had either of us interviewed them for a story? Did their kids know our kids?
Marc kind of murmured something polite and slipped on by, leaving me to chat.
I stumbled around trying to find something to say besides, "Who the heck are you?"
I asked if they still lived in American Fork.
"Of course, we haven't moved," she said, kind of condescendingly.
I asked they were in the same ward.
She again at me kind of curiously and said, "Sure, are you?"
She then told me she's into Holistic Medicine and letting the body tell you what's good and bad for you. She told me how much money she makes helping people avoid surgery and pills.
She was making me very self-conscious.
Marc came back and tried to help out.
"Sharon's here after just having her gall bladder out last week," he interjected. "Isn't she doing great?"
I was slightly aghast at his announcement and concentrated on ripping open my peanut butter cup, nodding all the while.
The lady looked at me sympathetically and at my candy.
"Oh," she said. "And they let you eat that?"

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Read all about it

In the olden days, Marc and I knew who to vote for.
We'd either written stories about the various candidates that told us and others about them in a few tight paragraphs or we'd learned about their antics from City Council meetings, legal proceedings or business forays.
We kind of took it for granted that when voting day rolled around, we'd be in the loop.
(Marc was the editor of the weekly paper and I was an intrepid reporter.)
Now we're clueless.
We're voting uninformed.
We searched the papers and the news broadcasts for mention of the candidates running in American Fork.
We found little.
The only one we knew anything about was the mayor and he gets our vote because he came down and let us take a picture of him for the "Geek the Library" campaign.
But the people running for City Council are unknowns.
We don't know who or what we're voting for.
I called up a friend of mine who's been serving on the council and she said she wasn't voting for any of them but one.
"They haven't earned my vote. They haven't even campaigned," she said.
That explains some of the mystery.
It isn't just me or Marc who is in the dark.
Apparently it isn't worth it to spend much money before the primary election.
So I only voted for the one guy because I figured there's someone out there who knows why and who he's voting for and I didn't want to cancel out a valid vote.
But I've spent the day mourning — once again — the loss of the Citizen and its input.
The pesky election stories that we all complained about writing served a purpose.
People now have to function without good information.
I realize anew...that when you lose a community newspaper, you lose big time.
We all do.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Smokin' it

I realize people who smoke deserve a place in this world.
I understand that most smokers are good, decent folks and I know I have no right to judge them, harass them or deny them a good time.
But I'm frequently happy to live in an age where it's recognized that smoke, including secondary smoke, is bad for your lungs.
I'm glad there are clean air laws.
Had they been in place years earlier, perhaps my mother would still be alive. (She died of lung cancer though she never smoked. She did ride a smoke-filled bus on her commute to work for years.)
I'm somewhat sensitive to the habit.
So when my daughter and I found a group of smokers having a party just outside our Bed & Breakfast in Cedar City, we were annoyed.
They were in patio chairs right outside the rooms, puffing away on cigars and cigarettes as we left for our show at the Shakespearean Festival.
They were there when we came back a couple of hours later to change and there when we left to go to dinner an hour or so after that.
It was dismaying and even though one gallant guy jumped up, cigarette in hand, to open the patio door for us, we were unhappy.
My daughter is seven months pregnant and really doesn't want to inhale secondary smoke for her baby.
I just hate it and since the party people had now propped the patio door open, the fumes were coming into the common living room next to our bedrooms.
I was pretty sure the Bed & Breakfast billed itself as a no-smoking establishment so I decided to complain.
I called the manager from dinner and told him I thought it might be a problem.
To his credit, he reacted quickly and apologized profusely.
That night when my daughter and I returned to our room, we were met with hostility but no smoke.
The next morning, a couple of people outright glared at us at breakfast.
I don't think we're going to win the popularity contest.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Drinking up

I know I have a couple of diagnostic tests coming up that won't be any fun.
But the one I went to undergo a couple of days ago was supposed to be fairly simple.
I told my husband I would just be going in, giving a little blood and drinking some kind of solution with iodine in it before this machine looked me over.
I'd be home in 20 minutes or so after my appointment.
When the nice lady came out bearing two big bottles of some kind of "Berry-flavored" concoction I realized perhaps I was mistaken.
"It's OK," she said, noticing the look on my disappointed face. "It really isn't so bad. You just drink a couple of cups of each bottle and you're done. You don't even have to drink it all."
Then she stopped, looked at the bottles and at her paperwork.
"Oh, wait," she said. "Wait. I don't think this is right."
She handed me the bottles and the paper cup and told me to sit tight.
She'd be right back.
I looked at what she'd given me. They were nice and cold and the task looked doable.
I waited a while.
When she returned, she was smiling.
"I was right." she said cheerfully. "You don't have to drink these."
Hope leapt in my heart.
For one brief shining moment, I thought I was saved.
That was before she said,  "You need to drink these instead!"
And she handed me three bottles instead of two of some kind of barium sulphate suspended solution.
Not Berry-flavored. Not delicious.
Not good.