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 My minute-by-minute social media discussions are scattered all over the place, so I can forget what I've posted where. Here are a few things that happened during the last week:

Shira Glassman went live with a gorgeous fan-art promotional post for the Alpennia books that she commissioned. I feel immensely honored and flattered that my fans think so highly of my books as to do things like this.

My queer-Mabinogi short story "Hyddwen" was accepted by I'm overjoyed that it's going to get the audio-publication treatment, like the first story in the series (Hoywverch) did, because it's written very deliberately in an oral storytelling style. Selling it means that it's time to start writing the third story in the series. (Like the original Mabinogi, it's planned to have four branches. I have the basic skeleton of the plots for 3 & 4 outlined, but there are still a lot of details to noodle.)

The Golden Crown Literary Awards 2017 shortlists came out and Mother of Souls did not make the shortlist for the Science Fiction and Fantasy category. (Daughter of Mystery and The Mystic Marriage were both shortlisted but neither of them won--there are three winners in each category.) In one sense, this is not at all surprising, because the Goldies are--in their essence--awards for the best lesfic novels, and I don't write lesfic in the genre sense. But it's still disappointing.

On Wednesday, I came home from work to discover my front door kicked in and my house ransacked, including having my safe ripped out of its fastenings and pick-axed open. Mysteriously (but tellingly) I have not identified anything that was actually stolen (including the two older laptops that were stored in the safe, or any of the jewelry that was left strewn across the bed). My hypothesis is that the burglars were under the vastly mistaken impression that there might be drugs in the house, given the nature and scope of the apparent search activities. But given that one of the major reasons for moving out of Oakland seven years ago was being tired of regular burglaries, I'm furious and shaken and resigned.

Car Update

Nov. 18th, 2010 01:19 pm
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Picked up the car from the tow yard right when it opened this morning. Flabberghastingly enough, it appears to be in perfect condition. The only thing I've found to be missing at this point is my gym bag (with stinky gym clothes), although the iPhone sport arm band that was in the bag is still in the car, so clearly the rummaged around in the bag ... and still decided to keep it. Based on mileage records, it appears that in addition to driving the car from my place to Hayward, they only put about 50 miles on it. Several things were moved around -- the connection cords for the GPS and audio were moved from their usual location to a different location, but they were all still present. (I don't store the GPS in the car for good reason.) Oh, and the seat was adjusted by someone with longer legs than me. (Not difficult.)

I have to complete the paperwork for the insurance company to get my reimbursements. I have an appointment with Honda tomorrow to get it thoroughly inspected -- just because. And having weighed various increased security measures, I'm going to get a "club". Based on the complete lack of damage to the doors, windows, and ignition, it does seem likely that the thieves were the same guys as my burglary back in June and that the Honda folks were completely off the mark when they said changing the eletronic part of the lock would prevent them from being able to use their stolen key-set.

For those confused by some of my cryptic comments about moving (which have been scattered randomly between here and facebook), I'll be posting a locked explanation of my Path Forward.
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Got a call just before the end of work today from the Hayward Police Department. It seems they have my car. And they say it doesn't look damaged. (Well, ok, evidently their standard of "not damaged" is a statement along the lines of "not damaged, stripped, or burnt", so I don't know what that translates to in real person terms.) I drove down there after work to deal with the police paperwork, but the towing company shuts down at 5pm so I have to go again tomorrow to actually retrieve the car. Since the towing company hours are functionally identical to my normal working hours there's no way this will be convenient. I'm crossing my fingers and taking BART down there to pick it up (so that I don't have an extra vehicle to deal with). If it turns out not to be in driving condition I'll have to have them take it to the shop, which will drag things out further, but since there's no way I can deal with this in off-hours I'll just have to cope. No matter what, I'll be taking it in to the dealer for a check-up since I don't want any nasty surprises turning up later. And who knows what the interior and contents are like.

Oh, and this doesn't change anything -- I'm still moving out of Oakland.

Day by day

Nov. 8th, 2010 09:41 pm
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I dont' quite think I rise to the level of PTSD but I'm definitely being sucked dry by depression at the moment. I had a major crying jag on Saturday that rather startled me. So, of course, this is the perfect time to have collegium and the feast to prepare for this weekend, and investiture to prepare for the next weekend, and three new investigations assigned at work today all of which are due within the next week [1], and then we plunge into the extended holiday season. But I've written something for IWriSloMo every day so far this month. And the more I contemplate it, the more comfortable I am with the thought of moving. (Although I'm still daunted by the amount of work it will involve.) Life goes on.

[1] Fortunately, the very impossibility of meeting these deadlines lets me off the hook to some extent.
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So now they took my car. From out of my driveway. Last night while I was sleeping. And once again I get to do the whole thing with police reports and insurance companies and turning my life and schedule upside down to deal with details while trying to maintain a competent professional life and keep up with all my personal commitments. I know I do a good impression of brushing it all off and just carrying on, but what I really really want to do is go crawl in a hole and cry and not come out again until the world is a friendly, pleasant, sane place where I'm allowed to have nice things without random anonymous assholes breaking them or taking them away from me. You know, if someone were actually specifically targeting me for persecution I'm not sure how different it could be. No, don't answer that.

Maybe my life would be simpler if I just sold this house and got a nice little just-me place somewhere with a lower crime rate. No burglaries, no car thefts, no vandalism, no hassles of being a landlady. I'm so very very tired.
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Got an interesting phone call (on the land line, being as I'm at home waiting for the cue to take off for Kirkwood for the ski weekend). Recorded message saying they've been trying to get ahold of me about lowering my credit card interest rate and would I press "1" to speak to an agent or press "2" to decline the offer. What the heck; pressed 1. Live person comes on the line and asks if I'm calling about the interest-lowering offer. I say, "Yes, but first I'd like to get some confirmation that you actually are my financial institution and this isn't a scam." (I have, in the mean time, realized that the recorded message never actually mentioned the name of my financial institution.) Sounds occur that might be a call being switched. Long silence. Dead line. So ... you suppose maybe it was a scam? (This is meant to be a silly rhetorical question with an obvious positive answer.) Y'all practice safe phoning out there.
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My friends, this is how they do it -- remember and be paranoidly vigilant.

You know how I had my Wells Fargo credit card cancelled and replaced after the burglary? Well, today I got an e-mail purporting to be from Wells Fargo saying they're concerned about unusual activity on my account and I need to fax them all my personal and account information to verify my identity or they'll cancel my account.

Yeah, right. Other than my knee-jerk assumption of fraud, what were the clues? Well, once you pull up "view source code", the e-mail address of mine that they're sending it to was harvested off my web site and is clearly one I would never have given to my bank. And the area code for the fax number is a toll number in New Jersey, not the expected toll-free number. And, oh yeah, what was the other problem with their approach? I'M NOT STUPID!

Of course, I get dozens of phishing spams like this every month -- hundreds in a year. Most are instantly recognizable as such because they're for companies I don't have any dealings with. But remember: pure chance means that they're eventually going to hit one you do. And like any good "cold reader", the bait is vague enough yet specific enough that if they get a chance hit on your immediate circumstances, you supply the rest of the scenario in your head. There is absolutely no reason to suppose this scam e-mail has any connection to my burglary. It doesn't need to. They shotgun this thing out to hundreds of thousands of e-mail addresses and all they need is one or two people who have recently lost a Wells Fargo credit card who will panic and respond without thinking things through.

Now to see if Wells Fargo has a fraud reporting e-ddress I can forward it to.
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Today I dropped flyers off at the last four pawnshops of the ten nearest my house. I mailed off the signed copy of the official insurance claim. And I received the claim payout check. Yes, in less than two weeks from the burglary, my claim has been paid. Sometimes the system works smoothly. So this weekend I can add laptop shopping to my to-do list.

What I'm not doing this evening is handing out Halloween candy. The last couple years have been really really thin as far as trick-or-treaters go (like, less than a dozen) and given the forecast for rain I decided just to leave the porch light off. I realize this reinforces the vicious cycle: fewer people giving out treats means less incentive for kids to come around the neighborhood in the future. But it isn't something I feel strongly enough about to buck the trend.
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Yeah, I know, the post-burglary posts are getting really tedious, but it's how I work out some of my angst. I'm working my way through the list of reasonably local pawnbrokers -- giving them flyers with a description of the jewelry items (and "it looks sort of like this" images of the two most distinctive). I was a little worried about it taking a while to get to all of them in a timely manner since most of this has to be done on lunch hours, but as a guy at one of the places noted, it isn't like a thief is going to come back and redeem the pawn, and there's a minimum 30 days before they can consider the piece forfeit. So in terms of possibly getting the stuff back, there isn't an enormous hurry, although it might make a difference in getting the word out before the stuff shows up.

The insurance adjuster got back to me with the details of the settlement. I joked with him that the surest way to get my original stuff back would be to spend the entire settlement promptly so that I wouldn't have the cash to reimburse them if my property turned up. I maxed out the limit on jewelry coverage, but since I don't have a reason to replace the pieces it doesn't really matter. It's just blood money. I'm not really a casual ring-wearer (I almost said "ring-bearer "... I just happen to have LOTR on the DVD at the moment!). If I ever own another significant gemstone solitaire ring I would hope it would be an engagement ring. The settlement is a two step process: the jewelry is paid outright but the other property is based on replacement, so I have to actually buy the replacements and then submit a claim for reimbursement. Fortunately the jewelry settlement means that I don't have an awkward cashflow crunch in getting the replacement laptop. (Between the bit of carpentry work being done and springing for two holidays' worth of plane tickets it's Not A Good Time for lots of extra expenses.)

And I'm researching burglar alarm companies.
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The number of active things I can do on the burglary-recovery front is winding down. I've sent off for all the relevant replacement documents (except for the passport, which I need the duplicate birth certificate for); reported the hazard to all the relevant financial and credit-reporting institutions; started things in motion with the insurance company. Today I made the rounds of the used-jewelry dealers at the local flea market and handed out flyers with the description of my stuff and pictures of highly similar pieces from on-line. I have one more local used computer store to hit tomorrow when it's open. Also a list of the nearest pawn shops. Also today I reconstructed my financial spreadsheets from the most recent backup and the hard copies. (I lose the most recent details of cash expenditures, but no biggie.) Now I just need to crawl out of my depression. It's easy to see how people can fall into really hard-nosed attitudes about "law and order". There's a part of my brain that keeps up a constant rant about "why do I work hard at an honest job when all my nice things just get taken away from me by lazy scum and what am I paying taxes for when the police don't do squat except take reports?" Yeah, easy to see which direction the slippery slope goes. So instead I just settle for being depressed and daydreaming about communities where you don't get blamed for it being your fault you got robbed because you hadn't made your house sufficiently fortress-like.

Yesterday at Collegium was nice. The socks classes seemed to go off well -- a bunch of people went away with medieval socks patterns (and a process for drafting other styles), and the A&S judging workshop got exactly the mix of people I was hoping for and seemed to be useful. Afterwards I went out with a dinner party to celebrate the 30th birthday of [ profile] vittoriosa's sweetie and enjoyed excellent food and stimulating conversation. I like stimulating conversation. Other people can have the loud music, the excessive alcohol consumption, the fluffy silliness. Give me a handful of folks who are as eager to listen as to talk and who have something intelligent to say on any subject at hand. Now that's a party.
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More than sympathy, less than recovery. The woman who had stopped by came by again (with a very cute little daughter in tow). It turns out her mother had been picking up her car at the auto shop on San Pablo a few blocks away and had found an item that had been in my safe that had my name and address on it and looked important. So she offered to drop by with it to return it and give me the details. It's nice when someone goes out of their way to do the right thing like that. So this tells me: A) the safe has been opened; and B) the perp is probably local to the neighborhood where the object was found (which isn't exactly astonishing, given that neighborhood).

After she dropped it off, I walked over to the location and walked up and down that stretch of San Pablo but didn't find anything. (It was getting dark so I wasn't about to wander off and poke around too much.) Coming back home, I was reminded that there's a used computer store just two blocks from my place, so I stopped by and chatted with the proprietor and gave him a description of the laptop and my contact information. It was a bit of a ... delicate ... conversation, since I was implying that he might be in a position to be offered stolen property while trying not to appear to accuse him of being a fence.

Now to do some on-line research to determine where, in the neighborhood, second-hand jewelry might be fe... um, offered for sale.
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Without wanting to get any hopes up at all ....

I hear from my contractor (who was over working on the loose step on #3 and various other spots) that sometime mid-afternoon a woman drove up in a car and asked if the house was where hrj lived. He said yes and told her my phone number and when I'd be getting home. Then he asked "if it was about what happened yesterday" and and she made some non-committal but affirmative response. It may simply be someone on the neighborhood e-mail list dropping by to offer sympathy. I'm trying not to get any hopes up. Trying very hard. Let's not jinx anything.
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The fingerprint guy showed up at 1:45 am,just as I was starting to drift off. One can always hope, although I recall a news item about budget cuts in the Oakland Police Dept pretty much eliminating the analysis side of fingerprinting. Having made all the finance-related phone calls first thing in the morning, I've been spending my lunch hour on-line printing out applications for replacement documents. This is the down side of keeping all your essential papers in a single location. I haven't tackled the insurance company yet. If sympathy were police action, I'd have the perp in jail and all my stuff back -- thanks for all the good wishes.

And sure enough, the only time I started bawling was talking to my mom about g-g-grandma's diamond ring.
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Well, the police came and took the report (as usual being startled that I had serial numbers and purchase prices at my fingertips ... wait, why am I saying "as usual" about a burglary report?). They're sending out the fingerprint crew because there are two really nice hand-prints on the window they came in through -- evidently there's a technique where you push in on the window hard enough and it disengages the latch so you can slide it up. I imagine that if you perform this technique badly, you end up pushing your hands entirely through the glass and slicing up your forearms badly. Darn.

Of course, the fingerprint crew didn't come on-shift until 11 and who knows when they'll get out to me. The officer taking the report warned me that it might be at all hours. Well, I'll leave the porch light on and hope the doorbell wakes me up. The first-floor windows now all have little screw-on slide-stoppers, as well as the accessed window having a piece of 2x2 wedged in to prevent sliding.

I've made a list of all the various notifications I'll have to make tomorrow. (DMV for the pick slip, passport office, Wells Fargo because the safe contained paperwork about my equity line and I want to make sure there's a freeze on the line of credit; I've already taken care of the corporate credit card that I kept in the safe because I'd only ever use it if sent on a business trip and I figured it would be more secure there than in my wallet. Hah.) I'll need to contact the insurance company. The laptop was backed up relatively recently, although I'd be better off if I'd gotten around to installing Leopard on it and it was being continuously backed up by Time Capsule. I've lost recent e-mail archives and the bit of the current writing project that I typed in over the weekend (and threw away the manuscript bits for). And I'll need to reconstruct the last couple weeks of financial accounts since the last backup. (The only thing that really gets lost is what the cash purchases were, since everything else has a paper record as well.)

Oh, and don't ask about my great-great-grandma's ring or I'm going to start crying. It was in the safe to keep it safe, dammit.

Not Again!

Oct. 21st, 2008 07:21 pm
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What is this? Our regular "every three years HRJ gets burglarized" schedule? This time, in addition to the laptop, they took the safe (which they appear to have wheeled off inside the recycling garbage can, which is also missing) and the digital camera. I say "they" because the safe is pretty darn heavy -- probably around 100 pounds -- and there aren't any drag marks to the door. They came in through a window and carted things off through the back door. Interestingly, they seem to have squeezed the job in between when the downstairs tenant went to bed at 8am and when the contractor showed up around noon. So I'm sitting here making inventories and not wanting to rearrange things before the police show up. (Having called them an hour and a half ago, I'm not feeling patient. But hey, it's only a burglary -- not like it's a murder or anything important.) Rant. Rant. Rant.


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