Home Depot and the smoking zip-zap machine

VigodaI was at Home Depot on Sunday, buying flower pots and some lumber to repair the fence where Sadie the Dog has been plotting her escape. Checking-out of the Garden Department I handed my credit card to the cashier, who promptly dragged out an old zip-zap machine (that’s the technical term coined by BankAmeriCard 50 years ago) and took an impression of my card.

“You’ve been hacked,” I said.

“No, it’s just that my terminal is down so I have to do it the old fashion way,” said the cheery cashier.

“Don’t give me that, you’ve been hacked,” I said.

The lady behind me with fertilizer and a Jack Russell Terrier began to […]

How to protect your home from Leprechauns

My son Fallon, who is five, has been worrying about Leprechauns. They’ve been talking in school about St. Patrick’s Day and a lot of that talk involves Leprechaun mischief. They come in your house, make a mess, causing problems of all sorts Fallon says. So yesterday he came up with a Leprechaun defense strategy that I think is worth reading about.

“First we’ll take my money,” said Fallon, “and we’ll turn it into dollars.”

Fallon is a scrounger for change. When he finds money he puts it in a jar. Sometimes he asks me if I have any spare coins and I’ll give him what’s in my pockets. Like the Amish, with Fallon it’s all in and no out so the coin stash has grown substantially […]

Purgatory at 37 degrees

At the heart of the current U. S. mortgage crisis are a variety of players that include circa 2006 home buyers with houses they couldn’t really afford, mortgage brokers who sold mortgages to people they knew couldn’t afford them, banks who turned those mortgages into securities that were bound to (in some cases designed to) fail, all held together with bureaucratic glue made almost entirely of testosterone and bullshit, and decorated with robo-signers and lost documents by the millions. Old news, right? But who would have thought we’d see many of the same behaviors emerge around one crappy refrigerator from Home Depot?

My friend Ralph owns that crappy fridge, an LG model based on a Whirlpool […]