Our paperless society.

Nothing like a death in the family to make you wish you were born a fish. The morning’s activities here at Chez NN.C include a whole-house search for Alan’s Social Security card. It’s for a bank thing. Of course he knows his number, but they want to see the actual card. Let me see the hands of those of you who can lay hands on your Social Security card within 15 minutes. Yeah, thought so. After a while, I thought screw it, let’s get the replacement. There’s an SSA office two blocks from here; he can bring in his passport (which we can find) and get it while he waits.

But can you get it while you wait? Good luck getting an answer. The website offers exhaustive instructions on how to request a card, but is vague on the while-you-wait part, which is important, because this all has to happen today. A call to the office was in order. The local number was disconnected, and all inquiries now go through an 800 number, which employs one of those automated voice recognition programs but NO ACTUAL HUMAN BEING, and…and…

Alan reached someone at the bank. Turns out they don’t need the card if they can see your W-2. Crisis averted. But a new resolution: This year, once and for all, assemble a “grab box” of key family documents so we can avoid this nonsense in the future. I’m not the best record-keeper, but I’m good enough, but life is simply growing too complicated.

Per Kirk’s comments yesterday, I’ve decided to stop feeling bad about enjoying the mayoral scandal. It’s the story that keeps on giving, and it would be…dare I say?…wrong not to smile once in a while. Last night’s big event was the mayor’s public apology, made at his church, but in an empty room, to one pool camera, no media allowed, no questions, in and out in 12 minutes. It was pretty much total crapola, as you might expect, all “I’m sorry” but no mention of what he was sorry for. He has to be very careful what he says now, because he’s facing a perjury investigation, and that’s not a charge to be trifled with. Once again, he showed his beguiling combination of Street and Suit, in his declaration “I would never quit on you.”

(Oh, why even mention it? I hear more mangled English on the evening news than anywhere else in my world. Last night’s neologism: “fictitionally,” which seems to mean “fictional,” but has some extra syllables, making the speaker sound extra-smart. There was also “tenor” used incorrectly, i.e. “The mayor struck the right tenor in his statement,” and this by an anchor.)

But the cherry on top was yet another performance by Steve Wilson, WXYZ’s designated Kwame-botherer. The station deployed its chopper for overhead surveillance of the church, not just to get video but to let Steve know which door he was sneaking into. So Steve was right there to yell, “Who is Carmen Slowski?” as his honor stepped out of his SUV. The mayor Heisman’d him nicely. I’d say it was like a bear swatting away a smaller animal wanting a bite from the carcass, but Wilson is easily as big as Kilpatrick. He’s truly a wonderful figure, because his distinguishing fat-man feature is a wattle that lends a comical note to the blowhard self-importance. Follow that last link, a transcript of his 11 p.m. report, to get a sense of how he rolls:

I’ve faced the mayor many times in the last few years, usually with questions he hasn’t wanted to answer…and tonight proved to be no exception. While most reporters and cameras waited at the side door…our Chopper 7 “eyes in the sky” pointed me to where the mayor was heading—the front door, so when he pulled up and finally stepped out the car, I asked him one of the questions so many of you have been asking—and got a shove in return…As I first revealed last Friday and the Detroit Free Press confirmed today, only days before the text message scandal broke a week ago, the mayor was here at a North Carolina mountain resort eating chocolate-covered strawberries, drinking fine French wine, and soaking in an aromatic bubble bath with a woman using the name Carmen Slowski. Mrs. Kilpatrick and the couple’s three boys were back home in Detroit at the time…and the mayor has never explained why records show there were two people in his room, or just who was the mystery woman sharing his bubble bath.

“Soaking in an aromatic bubble bath.” If you can’t laugh at that, you’re dead.

If the mayor’s lucky, the approaching winter storm everybody’s fretting about today will turn out to be a rip-roarer. Nothing like a foot of wet snow to get people talking about something other than bubble baths, not to mention “fine French wine.”

Note to self: Go shopping today, lay in a supply of fine French wine. If we’re going to be snowed in, might as well do it right.

Do we have bloggage? We have bloggage:

Steve Novick, candidate for U.S. Senate in Oregon, really is a guy you’d want to have a beer with. Here’s why. (YouTube link, for those of you who avoid them.)

Don’t waste your time on “Meet the Spartans.” Slate says why:

Various news sources have declared that Meet the Spartans has a running time of 84 minutes. Some online reviews peg the actual running time at 68 minutes. I went to a 5:30 p.m. screening. After previews, the movie began some time between 5:44 and 5:47. The closing credits started at 6:47. After a cast-performed rendition of “I Will Survive” (note: this was a reprise of an earlier performance) staged on the American Idol set (note: not the real American Idol set), the credits ran over a black screen. Perhaps two minutes later, the credits gave way to scenes that weren’t strong enough to make the first 60 minutes, including Spider-Man removing Donald Trump’s toupee. After about five minutes of these deleted scenes, the credits started again. They moved at about 10 lines per minute. And, considering the movie is about an hour long and probably took about six hours to make, they included a surprising amount of names; I’m guessing 8,000. By the time the credits had been slow-rolling for several minutes, the other 15 people in the theater had gone home. As the credits continued, I put on my headphones and listened to some music. At 7:09, more than 20 minutes after the credits began, I was rewarded by the aforementioned five-second, fake-Stallone-as-Britney bit. The lights went up and I left, shaken and depressed.

Not surprisingly:

This was the worst movie I’ve ever seen.

Thank God for the New York Times Thursday Styles, because who else is covering the Slow Design movement? Ahem:

Katrin Svana Eythorsdottir, another designer from Iceland, made a “chandelier” from beads of glucose that clung to twine and caught the natural light. After five months, the chandelier disintegrated (as Ms. Eythorsdottir, who wanted to create a temporary, biodegradable object, had intended). It is true that a decomposing chandelier seems sort of fast, but as it turns out a domestic object with a built-in expiration date is a slow notion, said Carolyn Strauss, a designer, curator and the founder of SlowLab, a three-year-old design think tank with offices in Manhattan and Amsterdam that’s devoted to searching out the slow in cutting-edge design. “You wouldn’t buy that chandelier and go away on a two-week vacation,” Ms. Strauss said. “It’s an object you’d really cherish because of its temporary and therefore precious nature.”

No word on the cost. Whatever it is: Not enough.

OK, friends, I’ve wasted too much of the day already. Hang in there and enjoy yours. I’m after some fine French wine.

Posted at 10:27 am in Current events, Metro mayhem, Same ol' same ol' |

20 responses to “Our paperless society.”

  1. Jeff said on January 31, 2008 at 10:43 am

    “Gross incompetence has to be treated the same as a simple mistake” says the judge as he dismisses liability of the Army Corps of Engineers for the NOLA levee system. He excoriates them, but says the law allows no other ruling — just in time for Mardi Gras next week, no less!

    I’ll be checking back for Ashley’s reax . . . .

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  2. John said on January 31, 2008 at 11:07 am

    I have my Social Security Card in my wallet. I did retire my draft card (classified A-1) about 10 years ago, even though I was instructed to keep it on my person “at all times under penalty of law”.

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  3. Connie said on January 31, 2008 at 11:31 am

    I can lay hands on all three of our social security cards and original birth certificates in under a minute. I have been meaning to buy one of those fireproof documents boxes to put that file folder in, along with our various life insurance policies.

    On the other hand when I had to sign my daughter’s demolished car over to State Farm I couldn’t find the title anywhere. When I went to the license branch to apply for a duplicate title they insisted there was still a GMAC lien on the car, which I bought in 1997. Contacting GMAC to get a written document for a loan paid off six years ago was a real pain. The new title is still on my desk waiting for me to figure out a better place to file it. I think I will put it with the birth certs and ss cards.

    I tried to call our local social security office last year and after several weeks worth of busy signals gave it up.

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  4. 4dbirds said on January 31, 2008 at 11:39 am

    I think its my army training to have all important documents in order and easily accessable because you never know “when the bomb is going off” so yes I can locate my SS card (and other important documents) quite quickly.

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  5. nancy said on January 31, 2008 at 11:44 am

    In my defense: I can find the title to our boat trailer in a twinkling.

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  6. LAMary said on January 31, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Every Icelander I’ve ever heard of or met has been nuts. Bjork. A vulcanologist I met in Colorado who hang glides over active volcano craters. All crazy.

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  7. John said on January 31, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Connie, get a safety deposit box at your bank for just those kinds of documents. Birth certificates, titles, deeds, passports, insurance policies, stuff you need maybe once or twice a year, but stuff you never, ever want to lose. I hate to be shilling for the man but they are quite cheap and convenient.

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  8. Sue said on January 31, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    A safety deposit box sounds like a good idea, but what do I do when I can’t find the key?

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  9. ashley said on January 31, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Funny how a Federal Flood can force you into getting a home safe for all the important documents. All the kids’ SS cards, birth certs, and passports; marriage certs, INS certs, car titles, insurance papers, everything. Also have my tibial rod in there, at least until I get it put in a shadowbox to remind me why I don’t have a motorcycle.

    And I’m not too keen on safety deposit boxes anymore. Especially ones that flooded and people couldn’t get access to for months.

    Nance, you don’t think that the anchor actually wrote that copy, do you? He’s gotta be like Will Farrell in Anchorman, and he’ll just read everything on the TelePrompTer.

    Another coming storm? Jay-zus. Tuesday in Chicago, it hit 50 degrees in the afternoon. That night, it was 0. With 50 MPH winds blowing my ass down Jackson Street. Of course, today in NOLA, it’s 70, and I’m gonna get a truckload of beads tonight.

    God, I wish I could vote for Steve Novick.

    And Jeff, this ruling surprises me not at all. Basically, the flood control act of 1928 states that the Corps is immune from prosecution, no matter how incredulously incompetent they are, no matter how many die as a result of their complete cluelessness and faulty engineering.

    The plaintiffs were trying an end-around, so that their position was that the canals were not flood control, but shipping channels. If it’s flood control, the Corps has immunity. If it’s a shipping channel, the Corps is theoretically liable. Maybe something will happen on appeal.

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  10. Dorothy said on January 31, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    My hand is waving madly – our Soc Sec cards are in a zip lock bag in the 2nd lower of my 4 small drawers in my big bedroom dresser.

    But I’m currently living in tiny quarters, while the rest of my stuff is living between two storage units. So maybe I’m not qualified to brag about knowing their whereabouts. They were among the necessary documents I thought we might need while we are homeless, and I was right. Came in handy when I needed to get my Ohio driver’s license.

    Connie – keep the key in your jewelry box, assuming you have one. And John, I’ve heard it recommended you NOT carry your SS card with you in case of being robbed or losing it. Too easy to use for identity theft. When I’ve had a house to live in, I had a red zipper bag with all important documents inside my hope chest. A metal fireproof box at home is an alternate if you can’t or don’t want to pay for a safety deposit box. But I’ve had those in the past, too.

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  11. ashley said on January 31, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Oh, LAMary, I wrote a post all for you.

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  12. MichaelG said on January 31, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    I’m gonna do a slow read on that article. A word today, a word tomorrow . . .

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  13. LAMary said on January 31, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    I’l have to look at it at home, Ashley. No video on the work computer. I thank you for having my own post. I feel privileged.

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  14. Eric Zorn said on January 31, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Similarly a few weeks ago our eldest was about to get his drivers license when, surprise!, they asked to see his Social Security card. Even though he had his passport in hand and we could recite the number.
    It was two weeks and a trip to the SSA office before we could get another one. I ordered a spare for myself while I was there.
    Hey, college tuition looks very steep and perhaps I can sell one of the cards to an immigrant.
    Must add, however, that not once in my now more than 50 years on the planet have I been asked to produce this card. I think this is why we were cavalier when Alex’s card arrived in the mail shortly after his birth. Used it as a TV Guide bookmark, as I recall.

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  15. joodyb said on January 31, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    we have the literal grab box, which i try to keep in a semi-known location, containing docs mentioned plus passports and immunization records. swell until someone doesn’t put his SS card back and loses his wallet (thanks nn for the SS Ps&Qs, i just downloaded apply for new card doc) or takes birth cert and doesn’t tell me. i have my original; mark does not. does this matter? we have notarized copies. i don’t even have my son’s original. we never received it. probably still in some drawer in montgomery county courthouse. ha!

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  16. joodyb said on January 31, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    oh, and don’t forget to attach your lien release to your car title!

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  17. ashley said on February 1, 2008 at 1:16 am

    joody, use teh google and find the horror stories online from people who got wiped out in the federal flood.

    Does this matter? Oh hell yeah it does.

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  18. LAMary said on February 1, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Everyone we hire here has to produce a social security card. No card, no job.

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  19. Dwight Brown said on February 2, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    “Let me see the hands of those of you who can lay hands on your Social Security card within 15 minutes.”

    I keep mine in my wallet. I don’t like doing that, but it does pay off sometimes.

    “Everyone we hire here has to produce a social security card. No card, no job.”

    When I took my current job (at a very large company I won’t name, and which I do not officially represent) they sent me an orientation packet stating where to go and what I needed to bring, including my original Social Security card OR a certified copy of my birth certificate.

    Cut to orientation and paperwork day.
    “Here’s my driver’s license, and here’s my certified copy of my birth certificate.”
    “Okay, we need your original Social Security card.”
    “Uh, I gave you a certified copy of my birth certificate.”
    “Yes, but we need your original Social Security card.”
    “But the documents you sent me said birth certificate OR Social Security card, NOT BOTH.”
    “Yes, but we need your original Social Security card.”


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  20. Michael said on February 4, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Here in Puerto Rico they want your SS card for everything, including your kids’ cards when they enroll in school. After that shocker, moving down here, I keep the SS cards and birth certificates in an envelope in the filing cabinet.

    The European documents keep getting lost, though. So every time we go to Hungary we get to sample the bureaucracy of the decade. It’s very instructive.

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