A question of scale

Today I had a long chat, rather too early in the morning, with a surprisingly pleasant man from Ernst & Young about how taxes work in the US and how to avoid getting double-taxed as I move between continents. Worrying about this kind of thing makes me feel worryingly grown-up. Luckily, I have no assets and no savings, so my tax situation is very simple. Yay! Fiscal irresponsibility pays off! Getting a bank account has been one of the most incredibly painful parts of the move. I made the huge, huge error of attempting to get a bank account via the Citibank Global Executive Banking program that came with my moving package. It was terrible. They open an account in New York, process it in Florida, and despite the fact that it's all the same bank in name, dealing with Citibank branches on the West coast is like dealing with a totally different bank. It took 3 working weeks to open the account, when they finally opened it the PIN they sent me didn't work in my ATM card, they won't give me a credit card...
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Citibank: Worst bank ever?

I am almost incoherent with anger right now. In a continuing run of bad luck with me and banking, over the weekend I misplaced my long-fought-for Citibank ATM card. This was very, very irritating, because Citibank on Tuesday this week was finally going to give me access to funds that I had deposited into that account last week Saturday -- a full 11 days, 7 of them working days, to deposit money from a cheque drawn on a Citibank branch, deposited at another Citibank branch, into a Citibank account. So after waiting and waiting, I finally have the money, but now the ATM card is gone so I can't spend it. Ok, no problem, right? I'll report the card lost, then transfer money from that account into my shiny new Wells Fargo account, where I will have an ATM card sooner than the replacement card from Citibank will arrive. Or even transfer money into my UK bank account, where I already have an ATM card, though that will take almost as long. But guess what? Apparently your online banking ID is linked to...
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It seemed funny at the time

So, this is going to be me talking about a dream I had. If you hate hearing people talk about their dreams, tune out now. I personally like hearing about the crazy shit our subconscious comes up with, so I share my own. So, for some reason I'm in a bar. The barman has a strong Irish accents. I'm not a customer of the bar, though, I'm more like a trainee. The barman is filling me in on the tricks of the trade, and this includes, naturally, the drinking habits of whales: "Your mink whale, that's a smallish whale with small eyes, whisky sour, and it'll drink you under, under, under the table. Completely shit faced," he says, in his charming accent. "White whales now, they'll drink you under, under, under, under, under, under the table and completely under water. Absolutely paralytic." This was accompanied by an infographic of these two types of whale on a nearby screen, showing them sinking to different depths with little stylised bottles of alcohol and double-Xs for eyes. For some reason, this was so...
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Something is happening

At Widgets HQ. P.S. Today I have discovered I am all about chai tea. But it's okay, I'm not a hippy because I don't have them with soy milk.
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SueTube

Muy interesante, no? /* */ 1. How do you feel about Viacom's $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube? Media companies need to protect their rights 18% YouTube and media companies should negotiate a deal 29% YouTube shouldn't be liable at all 49% Not sure 5% So it was pretty inevitable that if you took a site based on profiting off of massive copyright infringement like YouTube clearly is, then gave it a parent company with gigantic cash reserves like Google has (that's $10 billion and counting, folks), somebody in the media industry would decide it would be more profitable to just take them for everything they have rather than merely a share of advertising revenue. And to be fair, the media industry does have something of a point. They hired the artists, the equipment, the sets, the buildings, the producers, and everything, spent years making all this content, and then YouTube started selling that content to other...
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A proud day

Here every creed and race Find an equal place and may God bless our nation (from The Trinidadian National Anthem) The Archdeacon of Tobago doesn't want Elton John to perform at the Plymouth* Jazz festival. Because he's not a jazz singer? No, because he's gay. And because Trinidad and Tobago is not so great at keeping its laws up to date and has altogether too many religions, there are still laws on the books against sodomy: passed as recently as 1986, the law provides for up to 10 years in prison for homosexual acts between consenting adults (but if you are a minor, and you commit the act, it's only five years... how lenient!). There's also another, much older law which prevents "self-confessed prostitutes and homosexuals" from entering the country, but I cannot find any record of it online. It doesn't look like this will really happen, of course. Gay rights has come a long way in Trinidad in recent years. But this kind of story just makes me want to weep for my stupid,...
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Inspirational

So today I went to see Barack Obama address a rally in Oakland, roughly the equivalent of making a trip to zone four -- not crazy far, but you don't go there much. I was glad I went. Photos of the event are already turning up on Flickr. The first thing that surprised me was that the event was ticketed: there were huge, and I mean huge lines to get into a gated off area in front of a stage where Obama was to be speaking. The tickets were free, though, and they were handing them out outside the gates -- you just had to sign up with your name and email address, presumably so they can spam you later for fundraising purposes. Alright by me: as a non-resident alien, I can't vote and I can't donate money, so I can only very indirectly support the campaign. The crowd was interesting in itself. Firstly, keep in mind that the election is still not for another, oh, 20 months or so. So the fact that there was a rally at all was interesting. The second is the composition of the crowd: Oakland is a very black city, to...
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Miscellaneous followups

So, regular readers* keep asking me a few questions about earlier posts, so I have a few loose ends to tie up. Why, yes, I did find a Popstarz equivalent, and it's called Popscene. Why do indie clubs all have the word "pop" in their names? It's mainly straight, but only in as much as SF is mostly straight, so no end of gays. I did finally get a replacement bed for the too-soft one that was ruining my back. It's lovely. I feel like a character out of The Sims after you buy them a 10 Comfort bed: I sleep less but feel more refreshed and my productivity has risen. The weather is absolutely awesome. I love sunshine, and there's so much more of it here (although as I type this it is rainy and overcast; the first time in days). It's even geekier than I thought. Futurama references are actually not geeky enough. The hippies are hilarious, and ubiquitous. You just begin to take it for granted that everything you eat is organic/fairtrade/vegetarian/dusted with pixie stardust. Work's going very nicely...
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Launched!

The countdown is over and the Yahoo! Widgets 4 is officially launched! It's fun to be able to be part of launching a product that I'd actually recommend my friends use. So go get it! In other Widgety news, you can check out our Flickr stream (add konfabulistas as a contact; we'll add you so you can see friends-only photos) and stalk our PM on twitter. Check out posts like Why build a Widget? and some early tutorials as well as the spiffy new manual that yours truly spent quite some time bashing into a functional state. It's now 1am. Can I sleep now? Update: it seems people really like us.
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Here comes... Dr. Tran

This has entertained me a lot recently. Then watch this:
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