Review | 2014.06.10

American Outlaws soccer logo

So Ryan and I secured a spot on the American Outlaws' World Cup trip. This includes a chartered flight to Brazil, accommodations in Natal, and passage to each of the US matches.

Through AO we were provided priority on the semi-random ticket selections to US matches, administered by FIFA. Woo. This is important when you just threw down a pretty penny to go to the country hosting the Cup.
Getting the bad luck out of the way

I created a ticketing account on, as you do, and added Ryan as a guest (so we can get adjacent seats). His passport was expiring soon, so I put in his expiring number with the intent to update it when he received his new papers. The web site told me I could but, as you might expect, when the time came I couldn't. This was my first experience with FIFA technical support. After several interactions I can summarize the process as follows:
So props, at least, for low latency and an eventual remedy.
Random ticket draw snafu

Things started off so well, we were selected for best-category seating the the coveted US-Germany match and meh-category (oh well) seating to the others (Portugal, Ghana). As it turns out, these were the AO seats. So good seats and seats with our comrades, not bad.

Unfortunately, in spite of the 30-day notification I put on my card through San Diego County Credit Union, the charges were blocked. The FIFA billing system is designed to expect this, so it sent me a notification that a second/final attempt to charge my card would be made within a week. The site also indicated that there was a two-week window in which to complete the purchase. After some looking I found that there was a web form to manually attempt another charge.

Okay, so I figured the best bet was to ensure that the auto-charge went through. I called SDCCU again, said I really wanted it to work this time. They assured me it would, but that the notification would expire in three days. This meant two calls over the course of the week, no big deal, except that within three days the FIFA site removed the manual credit card input form (plan b) and posted a notification that the purchase phase was over. Wow. What's more, the ticketing site indicated that my Germany tickets had somehow disappeared. Emailing FIFA yielded an amorphous, 'we do what we want' response.

So everything (now just two matches) rode on FIFA following through with the second charge and Visa/SDCCU letting the charge go through.

World Cup Brazil 2014 US Germany booking system FIFA

Nope. Second attempt rejected.

I called Visa first, as I had talked personally to SDCCU and expected that they were aware of the charges from Zurich. After talking to a few people, they indicated that they received, cleared, and passed the charges on to SDCCU where they were rejected. Okay, so I called SDCCU again. After talking to a condescending representative who informed me that charges from other countries could be fraudulent and scary, they put me through to their fraud department. The fraud rep explained that she had a record of my notifications which should have let the charges go through. After some explanations she stated unequivocally that I had done everything I could, that the system had failed. She did say that she did something to ensure any subsequent charges would go through, but it's not like FIFA was going to let me complete my purchase (I asked).

Will be closing my account at the earliest convenience (after the Cup).
Free for all ticketing snafu

Sit rep: have planes and hotels. Do not have tickets. :(

This left two rounds of first-come-first-served, 04:00 clusterfuck ticket purchase to validate the big-ticket travel investment. We got up on time and logged in to the FIFA site with pretty low expectations (how many seats could be remaining considering the previous rounds sold out?).

The web site queuing system worked surprisingly well, although it is very difficult to trust a static web form indicating that you are in line and that reloading the page will dequeue you. But I got in, in time to purchase best-category Portugal and Ghana tickets. But, you know, I had to pay for the tickets somehow. Once again I had to somehow make a charge go through SDCCU outside of business hours, although this time I had Wendy's double-secret-charge-permitting stamp.

Begin 15 minute countdown from add-to-cart to lose-tickets.

Ryan is still queued - and also an SDCCU customer.

Cal (beautiful, beautiful Cal), is into the purchase site then out of commission via BSOD.

Checkout form sends me to an SDCCU site to verify my credentials. This is new. And encouraging.

Redirected to the FIFA ticketing site: charges rejected.


Seven minutes left. I call Visa. Direct fraud line number + early morning hour = immediate human response. I expect it doesn't matter because SDCCU holds the final judgment.

Timer graphic ticks away the seconds. I explain the situation ask if there is anything at all she can do. Timer hits one minute.

Visa says she'll try to help, to resubmit the charge. I do with 15 on the clock.

Time expires. Site does not confirm or deny.

An agonizing half minute later the page indicates that the purchase was successful. Gasp, sigh, blurt gratitude to the Visa rep, probably something she'll have to report to HR.



What? That was an amazing tale. Okay not really. Here's the bottom line:

At some point FIFA quietly(?) announced a second first-come ticket purchase phase for 3 June. They stated that they had freed up unpurchased tickets allocated for the disabled. Having tickets to only two matches, Ryan and I decided to give it a try, though we weren't optimistic.

Oh there were tickets. The coveted US-Germany match was listed with green availability (when I first logged in). We got tickets to Japan-Greece. We got tickets to Italy-Uruguay. We got additional US-Germany tickets in case something happened (and later transfered them to AOs at face value).


Storypost | 2014.06.04

Yard pool covered

Okay, so night time phone image is atrocious, but it at least unclearly illustrates the presence of sliding doors at the back of the yard. I still need to trim one door to match the slope of the slab, and they could use low clearance screws. But the setup works remarkably well.

I'm thinking a swinging door for the far right side where pool chemicals and equipment do/will live.

Gas burner low setting

So if there's one thing I hate, it's kale. If there's a second, it's making propane runs. A natural gas barbecue seemed like a solid solution, but I haven't yet run a line to the optimal spot. The pumphouse does have a gas line though. So in the interest of a trial run with a natural gas system and to support rapid water boiling (e.g. for brewing), I ordered a burner. At the outset, I'll be placing it inside a classic Weber grill and go from there.

I did overcomplicate it. The gas line is 3/4". The hose is 3/8". The burner is 1/2". Well I didn't have much choice on the line or burner diameter. Up until now Amazon's suggested pairings have been spot-on, oh well. After an HD run, I'm set.

Natural gas burner Natural gas burner

Skagen watch carbon fiber

After more than seven years of service, my watch suffered a bit of a setback. One if the band pins is broken and I haven't been able to locate a replacement. Brazil is fast approaching and without cell service I will need a timepiece. So it made sense to obtain a replacement, the SK809XLTBB. This one has a few more frills than the last but maintains the low profile and simplicity I love about the first one.

American Outlaws Chapter X soccer scarf

I picked up an American Outlaws scarf and - more importantly - tickets to the US-Germany match. Italy-Uruguay too.