Friday, December 16, 2005

Signing off

Our 4th transatlantic move is in progress now (see below). Will be offline for a few days. See ya' on the other side of the pond!

... not the greatest way to celebrate - but anyway:
Happy birthday, Julian! Posted by Picasa

... but the time has come to wrap things up. The movers have been busy all day long ... Posted by Picasa

We really love our home in Kirkland ... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 07, 2005 - Merkel: U.S. admits CIA case error - Dec 6, 2005 - Merkel: U.S. admits CIA case error - Dec 6, 2005: "'We also recognize that any policy will sometimes result in error and when it happens we do everything we can to correct it.'"

I am curious about the results of such course correction.

"There is strong evidence that television advertising of foods and beverages has a direct influence on what children choose to eat,"

- "'There is strong evidence that television advertising of foods and beverages has a direct influence on what children choose to eat,'"

Hello! This is news ...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"Was nützen 1000 Volt in den Armen wenn oben die Birne nicht brennt."

: "Was nützen 1000 Volt in den Armen wenn oben die Birne nicht brennt."

Nette Sammlung.

I am getting old

I am old, really old. 94 years old - did you know?

In preparation for leaving the U.S., I went out to to obtain my cost free annual credit report. Before being let in, I answered all the personal questions that are supposed to make the content of the site - your credit report - secure.

The second one of the three national credit reporting agencies - TransUnion - surprised me in a fundamental way. In order to log onto their site for the first time, they challenge you with a number of personal questions. There was an easy one - at least I thought so - my year of birth. I entered it once: "invalid response!"
- Gee, that can't be, try again: "invalid response!" - what?

Fortunately, they gave me a choice of other personal questions to get around this one and still get into the report. When I finally retrieved the entire report, I was flabbergasted: my date of birth was 01/1911. Surprised? Well, if your credit report says so, it must be right! Right?

At the end of the day, these organizations make their living by providing factual, neutral and credible information to whichever party that is interested in figuring out whether you are creditworthy. Now isn't your age one of the pivotal attributes that determine whether you would be worth a credit, in other words, whether a lender providing you with monetary instruments today runs any abnormal risk of getting that money back from you - typically within your lifetime?

How did this incredible error happen? What is the source for that totally wrong piece of information? Who has provided this data about me to TransUnion and confirmed to them that this would in fact be my date of birth? Do I now have to be concerned about who else might have this wrong information about my date of birth that I need to track down and get corrected whereever it happens to be filed? Are ther any other bad consequences that may I incur because of this data error?

Just in case this date was entered as a mere matter of speculation - then why did TransUnion pick this particular date? If this date was in fact a mere speculation, how can a recipient of the credit report now trust the reliability of the rest of its data? Would it be possible that during the entry of a new personal record, the computer system was prompting the entering user to provide a date of birth - even if they didn't have any evidence about it?

Anyhow, I just had to call TransUnion, find out that they needed me to send a copy of my drivers license and hopefully they will correct my credit record on their file.

My takeaway - remember: nobody is useless, they can always serve as a bad example - I see this as a great example of why it is really important to be in touch with what somebody has put on record about you. Particularly, if that somebody could be instrumental in guiding other person's decisions about things that may affect you personally in a deep way.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Moving on

This is an interesting time. I have recently resigned from my position at Microsoft. Yesterday was my last day in the Redmond office. My family and I are looking forward to moving back to Germany in a few weeks. We hope to be able to spend the Christmas holidays with our family in Germany.

Hope to see you at the other side of the pond some day ...

I need to sit down and reflect about my experience in Redmond at some point. It certainly was a very intensive one!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Thanksgiving is over ...

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to "clean up" the bird's vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder. In desperation, John threw up his hands, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total silen! ce. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer.

The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said, "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. He was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, when the bird continued,
"And may I ask what the turkey did?"

Thank you, Andrea!