Okay FINE then I WON’T

The picture almost makes customer service seem cool, doesn’t it?

I was recently able to zero out all but one of my credit cards, and Lord willing and the creek don’t rise it shouldn’t be long until I’m able to whack that one as well. I was startled to see a bill show up from one of my cards a few days ago; the card actually got overpaid a bit so the last I’d looked at it they owed me money, which is always a fun thing to have happen with a credit card. Turns out they’d charged me a $59 annual fee. Now, chances are this fee has been around for all if not most of the time I’ve had this card, but during damn near 100% of that time I’ve carried a balance. It pissed me off that I suddenly owed them an annual fee on a card with no balance, so I did a brief check to make sure it wouldn’t affect my credit rating too unduly and then called to cancel the card.

(A five minute period ensues here, as we go from blustery-but-dry outside to torrential rainstorm hello tropical storm Cristobal in about ten seconds and then the power blinks out. By the time I have the computer back online and the Internet back up, the rain has stopped.)

Anyway. That was a long lead-in to a quick resolution, but: it turns out that if you’ve had a credit card for 23 years and you call them and say something along the lines of “Hey, y’all charged me this annual fee. I don’t wanna pay it. Cancel the card!” they will not only remove the fee from your card (and, to be honest, I pretty much expected this result) but they will set things so that you are never charged an annual fee again. Which, paradoxically, is kind of annoying, because I find you must pay this annual fee, unless you don’t want to to be really obnoxious as a policy.

But, hey, I guess I don’t have to cut the card up now? All told, I’d rather have the credit than not, so I went ahead and kept it.

Also, I can see blue sky outside now. Weather is weird.

5:45 PM, Tuesday June 9: 1,973,803 confirmed cases and 111,751 Americans dead.

Okay this is a banners and finance blog now

And video games. Because sometimes I talk about Sekiro. Which I discovered today I’ve put forty hours into since it came out … twelve days ago.


This is why I can’t get anything done.

So anyway. My computer is from 2011, right? It’s not dead yet but I’m looking at replacing it this summer sometime. I created that banner in GIMP, and the first thing I had to do was download the newest version of GIMP because the old one wasn’t compatible with my operating system any longer. The new one is giving my computer hiccups. Then I pulled up the template that I used to create my original Skylights banner and created the new banner.

I then tried to upload it and got barked at because of the resolution of the image– which, remember, they’ve already printed a banner from this exact template. Which, it turns out, was 100 DPI. They wanted 300.

Oh, and also a pull-up banner has slightly different dimensions than the one I originally had made. Oops!

I created a new version of the file at 300 DPI. My computer said “Uh, you know that’s 2.2 GB just for the template, right? And that I’m old?” And then it made some noises I’ve never heard before, and everything took a lot longer than it had on the original images. And I dunno if my images are gonna look right scaled up quite that much, although my cover file was supposed to be 300 DPI itself, it was also for a cover that was only like a foot wide and not three.

And then I dug around some more, and found their template– meaning the one the printer I want to use provides– and it’s 150 DPI.

So my computer will explode if I made the file 300 DPI, my original file was 100 DPI and the image looks fine, and their own templates are 150 DPI.

This will be fine, right?

In accordance with the advice received from many of you yesterday, I will not be cancelling the card. Interestingly, after griping about there not being some sort of simulator online I dug around and discovered that Capital One actually has a “what will this do to my credit?” tool on their website. Their suggestion was that cancelling that card will drop my credit score 5 points, and considering that it’s gone up 21 points in the last six months I can probably afford the hit.

Nonetheless, I’m following instructions.

A banner update and a finance question

This should probably be two posts because the two halves could not possibly be any less related to each other. But whatever. I’ve continued fiddling with the banners I posted yesterday and now I’m looking at this (which I posted to Patreon yesterday!):

Interesting fact: everyone who commented on the blog preferred the banner with the characters, and everyone who commented on Facebook preferred the one with the BA1 cover. This still isn’t final (I need to move the Prostetnic logo up a bit, take the capital letter out of the T in “Trilogies” and maybe change the font on the pull quote) so I’m still open for suggestions if anyone has them.

I paid off a credit card yesterday. Without getting too much more deeply into my business than is strictly necessary, I’ve spent my thirties and the first couple of years of my forties either a) managing or b) putting to bed bad financial decisions I made in my twenties. I have, in other words, more credit card debt than most people. My credit rating is on the high end of average, I think– I don’t miss payments, ever, but I have a lot of open credit and a lot of debt. I would like it to be higher, and I would like for a substantially lower amount of my paycheck to go toward paying off credit cards.

The card I paid off has been paid off before, for the record. The last time I paid it off I didn’t close it, and then I was unemployed for six months and underemployed for two years, so not cancelling it seems, in retrospect, to have been a pretty good decision, because as it turned out the available credit kinda saved me. However, it’s a Bank of America card (one of two I hold, because they bought this card from MBNA) and I kinda hate Bank of America and want to be out from underneath them. It’s *also* my longest continuous line of credit, though– I’ve had this account for over twenty years.

So: is it better for my credit to close the card, thus lowering my overall available credit (which I keep being told is hurting my credit rating) and reducing my dependency on Bank of America, or to hold onto the card with its zero balance, because it’s my longest continuous credit account (which I’m told helps my credit rating) and I can’t predict the future and who knows if I might need it again?

(I’m also not certain how much I need my credit rating to be high right now, for whatever that’s worth. We own our house and aren’t moving anytime soon and I see no reason why I might be applying for anything demanding a credit check any time in the foreseeable future. So maybe I can afford to take a hit right know? Who knows.)

I hate how opaque credit ratings are. There should be a formula I can feed this shit into and get an objective answer and I’m pretty sure even people who know what they’re talking about are gonna be mostly guessing. But if you know more than me, feel free to jump in with advice, because I don’t know shit.

A finance question

b-of-a-card-artJust curious what the hive mind thinks:

I owe a moderate amount on a credit card that I used to owe five figures on.  I can pay it off immediately, but at the cost of maybe a third of my savings.  Or I could continue paying it off in chunks and it’ll be gone in between four to six months, assuming I don’t have some sort of crisis and need to use it.

Once it’s gone, I will no longer owe Bank of America a single dime of money, down from a sizeable chunk of my yearly salary seven or eight years ago.  This is more than a bit attractive, as thoughts go.

Pull the trigger?  Or stay slow and steady?

In which things are annoying in new ways

Credit cards chained up with padlockI appear to have fallen victim to the most minor identity theft of all time; a single charge of just over $50 to a Family Dollar in Atlanta, Georgia that just showed up on my online statement.  As I have not been to Atlanta at any point in my life, much less in the last two days, I quickly cancelled the card and get to go to my bank branch tomorrow and do a spot of paperwork.  I checked all of the rest of my cards and they’re all clean; this weekend I’ll change all of my passwords.

Yesterday I made the terrible mistake of trying to add an “Also by Luther Siler” page to my pre-existing ebook manuscript for The Benevolence Archives.  It led me down this lovely little rabbit hole where, after adding that page, a Prostetnic logo, and fixing the three places where I screwed up and referred to Lady Remember as “he,” the Amazon converter that turns my .doc file into a .mobi for the Kindle told me I had thirty-some spelling errors.   The vast majority of them were words with no spaces in between, which is not normally a typo I’d allow to slide past– much less thirty times.

I checked the manuscript.   Spaces in the proper places, every single time.  Weirdly, the word before the space tended to be a single italicized word.  In other words:

“I can’t believe Amazon is putting me through this bullshit,” Brazel said.


“I can’t believeAmazon is putting me through this bullshit,” Brazel said.

I actually rewrote every set of words where this happened, sometimes removing the italics and a few times where I felt they were really necessary leaving them in but carefully italicizing just the word and nothing else.  Viewed the file in two or three different ways to make sure it wasn’t an artifact of the viewer’s insistence on full justification.  Nothing made any difference.  The next step is to put two spaces after each of those words and see if that fixes it.  I promise the spaces are there in the source document; this is just a weird-ass artifact of the conversion process, and at the moment I don’t have a way to turn a .doc into a .mobi on my computer to dodge the need to use their converter.

Then, once I gave up on that frustration for the evening, I discovered that for some reason it doesn’t seem to be pushing the updated version through to my Kindle anyway, so the new version, which ought to be pushed out to replace old versions for anyone who hasn’t deliberately turned that feature off, appears to only be working for new downloads– and since I’ve already downloaded the book, I can’t download it again to double-check– I’ve tried to force my Kindle to update the file every way I can think of and it won’t do it, so I can’t check to see if the typos are just in the online viewer and I can’t get the book to recognize that the “Also by” page is supposed to be there.  It won’t work on the Kindle app on my phone or my actual Kindle, although come to think of it I may not have downloaded the app on my new iPad so I may try that next.

So yeah.  I’m frustrated.  If, by some magic, you happen to download BA from Amazon tonight, I’d appreciate you letting me know if you get a version of the file with the “Also by Luther” page at the back– you’d be able to tell immediately, because the Prostetnic Publications logo is on the first page in the new one too.  I need to know if the changes went through and if the space-omissions are there– they’re most common in the story called “Remember”.

Might even throw in a free copy of the new book once it comes out, actually, if you were to do that and tell me what happened.

(EDIT: Okay, I may have figured out the non-updating thing, as apparently you need to increment the “edition” number to make Amazon realize the new file is “important” changes.  I’ve done that.  The version up there now should still be different for new buyers, though, so the deal in the previous two paragraphs still stands. I have a hunch those errors will disappear when viewed on an actual Kindle device or through the app.)