Thursday, December 23, 2004

Break Time

Have been a bad boy here, but have three weeks vacation coming up and will try and post something sensible. Mother-in-law is here, kids and wife are doing the tree, and I've got to transfer pix from the Nikon to the PC.

Be back soon...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

It's Tedious...

I'm home with a lung-sucking bug. Being home is tedious when you really can't do much other than sleep, try and get work done so that you can take vacation when it's scheduled (I have three weeks coming up, but only if I get something sensible out of the door on 17 December: otherwise I'll be eating into vacation time...).

And a hacking cough doesn't help you sleep. Last night I took a long - over an hour - very, very hot bath to try and melt whatever is congealing in my lungs, it helped some. But I feel like sleeping for about three days, but am working instead. Only difference between being here and at work is that I can listen to the radio here at home and wear sweats instead of suit and tie at work. And the hours are nicer, and there isn't any real reason not to take a nap in the afternoon...

John

PS: because of this posting will be light. More after the 17th...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Why Europeans Colonized The World

There is a line of argumet that Europeans went out and colonized the world because of a search for riches, because of a desire to spread the word of God, to please King/Queen and country.

In reality, it was to escape the weather. Since Friday evening there's been a thick, icy fog on the ground here that has carpeted everything and has me feeling like there's something growing in my lungs that I'll spend the next week coughing out.

Time to take another look at real estate in New Mexico.

John

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Best laid plans...

The best laid plans always seem to go wrong. My wife is off with a girlfriend to the wilds of Frankfurt and I've got the girls to watch over, including the almost-15-year old daughter of the wife's girlfriend.

So I planned an early breakfast, then out to the Northwest Center, a shopping mall not too far away, then home for lunch and then to my youngest's play.

What happens? The girls don't want to put a foot outside of the door since it's cold out there (around 0° Celsius) and they don't have any money to shop with.

Never mind that they are already going stir-crazy. I'm going to go off and do the shopping, then come back and work.

The reason that utopias never work is that in reality they are populated with teen-age girls who don't want to do anything but go out and spend someone else's money.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Living in Germany

Living in Germany has its ups and downs. More often it is downs, rather than ups. One of the ups is the availability of cuban cigars: I have a Cohiba waiting to be smoked, but it was a present rather than a purchase. Don't know when I'll smoke it, since the damn thing costs a small fortune, but at some point I will.

Spent part of the day talking with colleagues about abstruse technical aspects of the job. Stuff that went on in the US five years ago are now appearing here, the lag is sometimes amazing. After work we went to my oldest daughter's recital, she played softly but nicely.

I've got two daughters, 14 and 11. I have two kid sisters, so the girls can't pull too many of the usual teenage girl tricks of sweet talking etc., which annoys them no end. My oldest didn't even want to play at the recital, she can be astonishingly shy. Part of puberty and growing up: I've got more patience there than my wife.

Wish I had more to say, but it's been a long day. I'm trying to find my balance here...

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Banking in Germany

Had a great conversation today at work. The guy I share an office with is buying a house here in Germany and had to make his down payment today. He transferred money from his money market account and expected it to show up on the same day into his checking account so that he could do a wire transfer for the down payment.

He thought because he had on-line banking that it also meant that his accounts were on-line.

Imagine his surprise when his bank told him it would take at least 4 days to process the transfer. He turned bright red, I could see the veins pulsing on his head and I wondered if I should duck & cover to avoid being splattered when his head exploded due to the massive increase in blood pressure.

Turns out that the bank offers on-line banking, but all that means is that he can access his accounts on-line. Doesn't mean that the bank has actually entered the realm of modern banking, just that he doesn't have to go to the local ATM to see what's in his account.

So instead of being able to complete the transfer in a matter of minutes, which of course any modern bank would be able to, he's gotta expect that bank to take 4 working days to transfer the money out of his money market account, then verify that the money's in his account, then wait another 4 working days to get the down payment out.

Eight working days.

Can you imagine the money that can be made off of that sort of float? We're talking €20k here, not a few Euros. But the bank involved is barely surviving and can't seem to make money at all...

Just another day in Germany...

Monday, November 29, 2004