Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Several people have asked me how my recent trip to Mexico was. In short, it was great.

I stayed at an all-inclusive beach resort called Melia Cozumel. I was a little wary at first, wondering just how all-inclusive the resort actually was. As it turned out, the only money I ended up spending money on at the hotel (besides tipping the bartenders) was a snorkeling tour and a four-wheel trek through the jungle to see Mayan ruins. Both of these were well worth the money. There were all sorts of interesting fish and coral on the snorkeling tour. And it was cool to drive the four-wheelers through the jungle looking at Mayan caves and ruins. The ocean was beautiful, the weather was great, and the people were friendly. The Magster and I took some good pictures of everything, but again, The Magster has yet to get a Flickr account. So, if you want to see those pictures, you'll just have to bug her yourself.

So, if you're looking to go to a tropical location, Cozumel is definitely my recommendation. And don't be scared of the term "all-inclusive." If you find a resort like Melia, it really is a deal.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

US Bank

I recently went on a trip out of the country. I used some services of my bank, US Bank, that I have not previously used. I am usually pleased with the overall service US Bank gives me – I appreciate the overdraft protection credit account they gave me (and the increase of the credit line after using the service for a year); I was able to easily set up and manage my accounts online; and I have usually been treated well at the several branches I have visited – however, recently some things have irked me about US Bank.

In order to secure the money I would take with me on my trip, I decided to get some travelers checks. When I looked for more information about travelers checks on US Bank’s website, I could only find reference to the U.S. Bank® Visa TravelMoney® Card. It was touted as a save “an alternative to cash or travelers checks,” so, being of the paperless money generation, I decided to get one instead of outmoded travelers checks.

The description page mentions that for a nominal fee you can load a TravelMoney card with funds from one of your US Bank accounts. They also mention how you can add more funds to the card, up to three times before it expires. What they don’t mention, though, is that for no amount of money can you put that money back into your account. That is, unless you go to an ATM, withdraw the money, walk into the branch and ask to have the cash put back into your account. The process is a bit of a roundabout with no real reason why. This is not really that big of deal, but if these cards are “the smart, convenient and safe way to carry your travel funds” (emphasis mine), then I should be able to, like I can with a travelers check, go to the counter of my bank, sign the checks, and ask the teller to deposit the amount into my account.

Furthermore, when considering getting the TravelMoney card, I noticed that there is the option of getting up to two secondary cards to give “a travel companion, or keep one in a safe place, for use if your primary card is lost or stolen.” But when I asked about this, I was told that I could receive only one card. I am not sure why this discrepancy between what is stated on their website and what is offered in their branches, but this takes much of the safety and convenience out of getting the card. If I can have only one card, then I must wait (Who knows how long? Days? Weeks? My vacation would have been over by then.) to have the card replaced if it is lost or stolen. In the meantime, I could have been stranded somewhere without any means of payment.

Another issue I had was not being able to exchange my pesos back into US dollars. I went to two separate branches (The teller at the first one looked confused and pointed me in the direction of their main Kansas City branch.) and was told first that I could not exchange foreign currency, then told that I could but they would have to mail it off, it would take three weeks to be exchanged, they couldn’t change coins, and I had to have a minimum equivalent of $200 to be considered. I was OK with not being able to exchange the coins (Who wants to mess with changing 5 pesos to $0.50?), but why should I be prohibited from exchanging 750 pesos into nearly $75.00? The explanation I got was “that’s just the way they do it.” Well, thanks for all the help. I had no trouble pulling money (in pesos) out of my account (in US dollars). Shouldn’t it stand to reason that I should be able to do the exact same thing only backwards just as easily?

I realize that these are pretty minor grievances compared to the general contentment I have with my overall banking experience at US Bank. Still, little things add up. And if I’m entrusting my money to their business, shouldn’t I expect US Bank to be reasonable, honest, and competent?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


crabby Zach 3
Originally uploaded by mr mcbastard.

I just got back from my three day vacation in Cozumel, Mexico (More details on that later). Check out my pictures from the trip.

I took more photos than these, but I used The Magster's camera. She has been talking about getting a Flickr account, though. So, if she does, I'll post a link to her pictures from the trip, too.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

My-Size House

I think I would really enjoy living in one of Jay Shafer's tiny houses. I think I would like the coziness of the place. Maybe I'm a claustrophiliac.

Also, I don't really need too much room, because I don't have all that much stuff. And I don't really want more stuff. If I have a lot of space, sometimes I get to thinking that I need more stuff to fill it up. Then, I get stuff that I don't need to clutter up my space. I'd rather just forego all of that and opt for less space.

While I think I would also enjoy living in the middle of a field. I think I would have a problem if I couldn't regularly access the internet. It's hard to get cable out in the country, and I'm sure there are very few wifi transmitters pointing to remote fields several miles away. So, maybe a small house in someone's large back yard would be better.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Although it is probably just a form letter, I received a reply to my email to my local senator regarding Missouri Sex Education. It is as follows:

Dear Mr. Garwood:

Thank you so much for your e-mail about women's health issues. I truly appreciate the involvement and help of supporters.

As your mail requested, I do oppose HB 1055. In fact, I stood on the floor last week at length to point out a very similar bill's deficiencies and lack of solution.

Few things are as important to me as women's health, factual sex education and protecting reproductive rights. I hope you will also take a look at another bill I sponsored - SB 514 offering coverage for women who wish to get the vaccine against HPV (the leading cause of cervical cancer). http://www.senate.mo.gov/07info/bts web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=17408. I am thrilled to announce that it passed committee unamimously. I am hopeful that this bill will come before the full Senate soon.

My dedication to this fight is unwavering and I truly appreciate your letter of support. Please continue to stay involved and in touch.

Very best regards,

Jolie L. Justus
Senator, District 10
Room 328, Capitol Building
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Phone: 573-751-2788
FAX: 573-751-9776

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