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Have you seen the owner of this license plate?

jason

This has not been a banner 12 months for me when it comes to cars.

This morning, around 10:30 am, I was driving southbound on 2nd Ave in downtown Seattle, on my way to pick up something from one of my vendors. Nobody was at the office yet when I came earlier in the morning, but I continued to another errand in West Seattle and made my way back.

I stopped at Cherry Street, and after the signal changed to green I crossed. The next several lights quickly followed in sequence, so, by the time I was fairly close to James (Google Map), the light had been in my favor for a while… Anyway, someone sped through the intersection going Westbound on James, and clipped the rear left fender and bumper on my car. I pulled off into a loading zone just before Yesler, and inspected the damage.

A witness who had been about to cross the street confirmed that the driver ran the red light, also saw the license plate (Washington State, 491–THC) from the other car fall off, and after checking to see I was ok, he picked it up and brought it to me. He identified the other driver as female, but I think he was running off to work and didn’t provide a lot of details. The other driver never stopped… not even to exchange information.

Hit and run

Another witness noticed the same driver speeding off past the scene. A few minutes later, someone else came down from his office and said he recorded the license plate number as the driver ran off. It matched, of course.

I didn’t notice a lot of details, except for a dark, probably compact car hitting my tail end.

I waited around for about 45 minutes after making a 911 call, but when I called back, they said nobody had been dispatched, but I was welcome to make the report from home. So tonight, just as dinner was ready to eat, a police officer came and took a statement… and, of course, the license plate.

Ironically, yesterday Hiromi and I made a pilgrimage to Tsubaki Shrine near Granite Falls, Washington to do Hatsumode, or the first shrine visit of the New Year. Among others, we got a new omamori to provide protection while driving. It’s hard to say whether it provided any protection, since I had an accident just about 20 hours later, but as far as I know, I’m not seriously injured, and the accident is clearly not the result of any error of my part, short of expecting other people to obey their signals… the only serious damage was to my car.

Omamori

Yesterday I wasn’t clever enough to remember my digital camera, but Hiromi snapped these photos from the outer part of Tsubaki shrine. Interestingly, I ran into two peope I know at the shrine, including a former employee of Central Market, and Thomas of ENMA. We observed O-Harae.

Tsubaki America shrine

Tsubaki small shrine

Tsubaki ema

What to do about Latvia

jason

I am a trusting person. I don’t tend to doubt people until they give me reason to do so. But sometimes I am fairly cautious. I don’t want to assume the worst, but I also don’t want to invite disaster.

A few days ago I got an unusual order online from a customer from Latvia. At first I was a little bewildered, especially the choice of shipping method was quite expensive, and then I figured I should do a bit of research before shipping off the order.

When I run an authorization a credit card transaction, several security checks are performed by the payment gateway. The billing address and zip code are checked against the address associated with the account. The system also checks the little card verification code usually present on a signature panel.

One problem with international transactions is that address verification service doesn’t usually work. If I recall correctly, one UK transaction had successful address verification process. But most of the time the processing gateway isn’t able to verify that the billing address matches.

It turns out that Latvia is a hotbed of credit card fraud. I called my bank to ask what I should do about the transaction, and I think their official policy is to make no recommendation, so they weren’t much help. But I was able to get information about the bank that issued the credit card, and so I could now call Latvia to request verification thatIthe cardholder matches up with the address given. They aren’t under any obligation to do so, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to pay even my decent Vonage rates to call the bank until I had some additional reason to believe the transaction was legitimate.

I’m relatively hands-on with my web customers. A few weeks ago, someone ordered some dragon beard candy with a gift card that left me with the impression that this was a business gift. The only thing was that they ordered the “love” gift wrapping, meant for romantic occasions. So I called her up to make sure that’s what she really wanted. She was relieved because she didn’t think her client’s wife would appreciate that very much.

Frequently somebody chooses an invalid shipping method or chooses some option that leaves me confused, so I usually email and then call to determine what they really want. Sometimes it takes a couple of days to get whatever little issue resolved, but it usually prevents mistakes and sometimes results in more loyal customers, so I consider it worth the extra time.

With international transactions, usually I need to clarify some details relating to shipping or something. My online store software has some issues with international shipping quote retrieval. Also, I usually want to make sure I know something about the customer.

So finally, Wednesday night I sent an email to the customer asking them to create a document that would authorize their bank to release verification information. I just asked them if it would be possible to do so, and explained what they should authorize. I think it would be a received as a fairly reasonable request.

So far, I haven’t heard any response, so I’m leaning toward canceling the transaction.

Common international credit card fraud indicators include differing billing/shipping addresses, and using a U.S.-originating card for a transaction being sent abroad. While far from conclusive, they indicate a higher probability of a stolen credit card.

In this case, those indicators were not present. But the customer didn’t ask about alternative shipping methods and chose a relatively expensive shipping option relative to the size of the order, without asking any questions. I’ve had perfectly legitimate orders from Japan, England, Italy and Germany, but I usually had to work out some details regarding shipping.

Busy enough for one day

jason

This morning I took my car to have an expensive alarm installed in my car, and I replaced the CD player that had been stolen. It took them a few hours, so I met with my graphic designer for lunch at Phuket on Queen Anne. We talked about an ad campaign for my Hong Kong candy, and some packaging for organic teas from Taiwan. We also did some exploration at Uwajimaya, looking at how different teas and gift items are packaged.

After that I waited for the Car Toys person to finish up the paperwork... apparently they suffer re-entering the invoices in three different programs that don't talk to each other.

I hurried back home to revise a couple of spreadsheets and sent them off to my contact at the candy company. We talked for an hour about getting some visuals for the ad work, and some displays and other things for the summer festival, and various other logistic details.

Afterword, I changed clothing and went jogging. The weather was pleasant. It seems like I've brought up my mileage average to about 5 miles per run... I ran around Greenlake twice, for 5.6 miles, three times over the last week, and just shy of that the other runs. It's sure not helping my belly much yet, but I'm glad I'm getting my mileage up without aching. I won't push my mileage above that for a couple of months, because the last thing I want to do is re-injure my knee with mediocre health insurance...

Drug addicts steal cheap stereo

jason

Some days don't start out so well.

I was awakened this morning by my neighbor, who noted that my car window was smashed.

Apparently, someone decided it was worth breaking my window and ripping up the air conditioner panel and bezel for the prospect of maybe $25 they could get for my cheap aftermarket CD player. I had a Panasonic 50 Watt x 4 CD player which played WMA- and MP3-encoded CDs installed in my Camry back in November. It was an impulsive decision that alleviated some frustration after I missed a trip to Korea. It wasn't the fanciest model but not the cheapest either.

Normally I take out the head unit's detachable faceplate when leaving my car in the driveway at night. For some reason, I didn't think about it yesterday... after returning from some errands in the afternoon, I assumed I'd be going back out in the early evening.

I spent the evening unpacking ceramics and writing web code instead, and never made it out. I slept around 1:30 at night. My apartment is actually close enough to my parking spot that it might have been possible to hear the noise of broken glass, but I didn't.

After reporting the damage to the police and calling up my insurance company, I cleaned most of the glass off of the driver's seat and headed to a glass shop in south Seattle. I was able to get the window replaced today, but I'll have to wait until Monday or Tuesday to talk to someone about the stereo. I still have the factory-installed cassette player/stereo unit, but it sounds like insurance will cover the replacement of the stereo and structural repairs.

I can't imagine anyone who knows about car stereos would have considered mine worth stealing, but they did pop the trunk and decided that my ceramics tools and a pair of gloves weren't interesting. I guess it was probably just a drug addict who decided he could get some pocket change toward his next fix.

Driver's window
Driver's Window

Driver's seat
Driver's Seat

Facing the music
Facing the music

Missing stereo
Missing stereo