Archive for January, 2008


Thursday, January 31st, 2008

We made a tentative decision today. We chose a freshly renovated apartment in a very nice part of the district (coffee shops, book stores, etc. close by). The landlady is buying furniture for the place to suit our needs. We are scheduled to move in February 8. Lease signing is on Monday.

There is a lot of information here, and a lot of pictures, so I have put them behind the fold.


Apartments in Budapest

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

We’ve looked over seven total apartments in Budapest. All of them are better than anything I lived in when I was in Prague/Moscow fifteen years ago. Even the apartment we rejected out-of-hand for being not quite good enough would have put my old digs to shame.

We’re too tired today to think straight. Tomorrow we’ll make a decision on the apartment. I’d meant to show photos today, but I seem to have left the camera at Great-Grandma’s house. Oops.

Probably tomorrow.

Working in Budapest

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

It’s very late at night here in Budapest, about 1am as I write this. It’s only 4pm in California, which is why I’m still up. I have active projects running with no fewer than 9 contractors this evening – and those contractors are scattered from the US to Japan to Romania to all parts of Western Europe.

I feel like an inhabitant of an early 90’s William Gibson novel. Take a look at my tiny desk in a borrowed (thank you, Anya!) bedroom in suburban Budapest.

1. Apple Macbook Pro (June 2007 release). Baddest laptop in existence, memory and hard disk maxed out to the current level of technology.

2. Diet Coke

3. Nokia E61 cellphone. It’s an older model from 2006, but WOW, I have never had this much capacity in a cellphone before. I’ve been told the rule-of-thumb is that cellphone capabilities lag behind computers by about five years. That would be about right with this one. Will review it later.

4. Bank security randomizer. This wigget will randomize my password to access my bank accounts, so that my password is never the same twice. Even if someone spies me typing my password, they still can’t access my account.

5. Lots of pens and pencils, placed here by 2 year old Andrea for me to use. Not one of them works.

6. A terabyte (that’s 1,000 gigabytes) of external hard drives, 500GB in each unit. Enough room to store over a quarter of a million single songs. And they are nearly full.

7. Telephone hard-wired to Temecula, California. Have to know how Pappy is doing.

8. Telephone hard-wired to Los Angeles, California.

9. Credit cards and cash (US dollars, Euros and Hungarian forints).

This desk is much cleaner than the one I have at home, incidentally.

Our Trip

Monday, January 28th, 2008

We had many well-wishers come to see us off Saturday. Shown above is Natalie and the whole crowd of five kids on the sofa waiting for the final exit. Not shown are Marv and Brenda, who kindly took us to the airport in a two car motorcade. Also not shown is next door neighbor Christine, who is looking after Pappy. The cars are here, parked to allow Chris to jump-start them on a far future day when he arrives to try and get them to remember that they are vehicles.

The London plane was two hours late. Our connecting flight was also delayed, so we did make it. More than half of our luggage did not. British Airways kindly returned it the next day.

We arrived, and everyone was waiting for us! At the airport were Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle Attila, and Andrea/Ferenc/Laura (who were with us this summer). At Great-Grandma’s house we had Great-Grandma, Bobbi, Judit, Peter, Matte and David.

Resting here from a hard shopping trip, setting up cellphone accounts and getting needed items for Ed’s first day at work from Budapest in over four years. Wonder where we can see the Superbowl …

Arrived in Budapest

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Yes, we’re here! Long story – will write if I have time later today.

Until then, please write down/memorize/burn to disk the following phone numbers. They are our primary European contacts for the next six months.

Gabi’s Phone :
20/551-2155 (from the US – 011-36-20-551-2155)

Ed’s Phone:
20/570-2303 (from the US – 011-36-20-570-2303)

To our Hungarian friends, please call Gabi so we’re sure to have your current phone number! Right now would be a good time …

Final Packing

Saturday, January 26th, 2008


While we are doing our final packing and leaving the country, take a look at this Andy Rooney impersonation.

T-minus one day!

Friday, January 25th, 2008

No posts today! Too busy packing!

T-minus two days!

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Gabi has started packing the kids. I’m almost done with my digital packing – emergency CD’s, backup drives and off-site servers. Soon I’ll be ready to start packing clothes and books – the essentials of life. I’ll probably go light on books for myself and heavier with books for the kids and travel guides.

Yesterday, we did a walkthrough of the house with Sammy and Christine (next door neighbors) who will be looking after Pappy. We’ve pre-stocked all the dogfood that they’ll need.

Subscriptions have been canceled. Insurance paid up. Mail forwarded.

I’m sure we’ll forget something – hope it’s not important. Two days to go!

Secret Agent from 1981

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Wow! I haven’t seen this photo in years! That’s me, second from the right, wearing my polyester debating suit. Photo is from Rick White, second from the left.


More on the Economy

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

This nugget was found on the comments page of the Economist.

I want to personally thank the Federal Reserve Board for punishing those of us responsible enough to be saving our money in order to save the idiots who squandered their money on risky loans they couldn’t afford. Nothing encourages responsible economic behavior like punishing responsible people to save irresponsible people from the consequences of their own mismanagement.

From the main article:

THE Federal Reserve slashed its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point to 3.5% on Tuesday January 22nd. The decision came at an unscheduled policy meeting—the next planned one was due on January 29th and 30th, when it was widely expected to reduce rates by half a percentage point.

The deepening gloom about the economy may well warrant such an aggressive response. But the timing is puzzling. There is more than a whiff of panic about slashing rates little more than week before a scheduled meeting.

In his short tenure the Fed’s chairman, Ben Bernanke, has only used scheduled meetings to make changes to the Fed’s main policy rate. That he was moved to act just a week before one will raise the suspicion that the Fed knows something that markets don’t. Nor is it only the timing that is troubling. The size of the cut also brings more fear than comfort. Even the Fed under Alan Greenspan, which cut rates from 6.5% to 1% in the early years of the decade, was never moved to cut by more than half a percentage point in a single go.

The meeting at the end of the month is still expected to go ahead and it seems unlikely that the Fed’s committee will convene only to sit on its hands. Futures markets are pricing in a further quarter-point cut on January 30th. Presumably the markets can manage to hold on until then.