Wednesday, December 24, 2014

it's the ripple, not the sea

There is no such thing as too much information.

As a son of the Enlightenment, I once believed that.  No more.

I guess I should explain.  It is like hearing a Democrat say his favorite president is George W. Bush.

I love information.  I am one of those guys who cannot sit down anywhere without something to read.  My Kindle, with its connection to my newspaper and magazines, goes where I go.  When I stop moving, its cover flips open.

That has been true since I was in grade school.  Back then it was books.  I would even read while walking to the highway to catch the bus.  One of my neighbors was convinced I was going to walk off into the ditch by accident.

The arrival of the electronic age has been like heroin to an addict.  Being able to find information by merely tapping my laptop or computer has settled many a trivia challenge.  And added to the data bank for future challenges.

My love affair with information has been unsullied.  Well, at least, until Sunday.

I needed to make a withdrawal from our local Banamex ATM.  Because my American bank is no longer Banamex USA, any withdrawal incurs a service charge. 

That has been true since I moved down in 2009.  A $5 service fee.  It seems a lot for simply allowing me to have my own money.  But that is the way it will continue to be as long as I choose to use that same bank.  (And, yes, I am aware of the Charles Schwab accounts, thank you very much.)

Wen I returned home, I made some entries in Quicken that evening.  My bank has a very informative web connection to my account.  I checked my account to determine how much had been deducted from my checking account.  And there it was -- in the "pending transactions" file.  Just waiting for the first banking day to post.

I then started to enter the usual $5 service fee in Quicken.  But it wasn't a $5 fee.  It was a $75 fee.  And it was described as a "wire transfer fee."

Diverse scenarios went shooting through my head.  The worst was that my account had been hacked and my funds were being incrementally wired to North Korea to produce a film where the pudgy Supreme Leader lobs a nuclear weapon into the men's room of the White House.  (I told you my scenarios were diverse.)

But that did not seem very likely.  I had the pesos in my wallet from the transaction.  It was more likely that something got crossed up in the entry of the fee.

That has happened to me before.  But with my credit card.  Usually, on one of my trips where a hotel or cruise line per-authorizes my card.  An entry (usually between $2,000 and $3,500) will appear as "pending."  But nothing will actually be charged to my credit card until I check out.

Even though I know that, it makes me a bit uneasy to see charges on the card that I know I have not made.  About as uneasy as the $75 fee made me feel.

My uneasiness is now assuaged.  On the bank's web site, both amounts have posted, and the offending $75 has been amputated to the usual $5.  All I needed was a bit of patience.

But it appears I have once again indulged in hyperbole in crafting the hook for an essay.  In actuality, I still believe there is no such thing as too much information.

I just need to be able to discern the difference between information and knowledge.

And, bridging that gulf, grasshopper, is to snatch the pebble from the master's hand.  To know it is the ripple, not the sea.

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