Category Archives: daybook

U.S. Bank FlexPerks Security Hole

Way off topic, but I want to get this logged someplace public:

Two weeks ago, some fraudster with a Pasadena address added himself to our U.S. Bank FlexPerks Visa account. The card’s fraud department noticed this and froze our account without notifying us. When our card started being rejected by everyone we phoned up, closed the old cards and got new cards.

This morning, we phoned up the card’s automated system and it rejected our ZIP code and phone numbers. Ugh, fraud on the new cards as well?

After fifteen or twenty minutes on hold, this is how the U.S. Bank fraud people explained our new problem:

When we reported the previous fraud, they fixed it in the card system but not in the main back-end system. When the two systems reconciled, the main system added the fraudster back to our card account—onto our new cards!

Thanks for your honesty, U.S. Bank, but we still closed our accounts. If you like, we can recommend some security ninjas who can close those holes for you.

Image CC-BY-NC-SA by Vicky TGAW

Wooden Boat Show at North House

Mostly Harmless

We spent Saturday at the Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival at North House Folk School in Grand Marais.

North House says they teach “traditional Northern crafts,” but I like to describe them as a school of pre-industrial technologies. If you want to start with tree and an axe and end with a house, this is the place. The teachers tend toward pragmatism— in general, if the state of the craft has improved since pioneer days, the teachers embrace the improvements.

I used to participate in the weekly community bread-baking in the wood-fired oven:

Oven Enclosure

The community bakes have mostly disappeared for lack of a quorum of local bread zealots (the foremost of which departed to run Farm and Sparrow outside Asheville, NC).

Summer solstice weekend always includes the Wooden Boat Show (in conjunction with the wonderful Wooden Boat Magazine), the Boats to Tools auction, the Chowder Chow-Down (a dozen or so restaurants each bring their favorite chowder. Ten bucks at the door gets you a bowl, a spoon and a napkin), lots of boat-related seminars, and the Solstice Pageant local and visiting families have spent weeks putting together (the pageant director hails from the storied Bread and Puppet / Heart of the Beast social nexus). Here’s the Flickr set.


I spent half an hour today cleaning the last of the poisons and explosives out of the woodshed where I write, in preparation for firing up the Ashley Automatic wood stove that is sure to be my best friend over the winter. The collection was impressive: gasoline, two-stroke oil, lighter fluid, lacquer thinner, Japan Drier, Naphtha VM&P, Naval Jelly… I spent the rest of the morning striking matches, drinking kerosene and sucking on a leadsicle…