Response Time of Social Security Administrations

Yay, I now have data to compare the responsiveness of three major social security administrations. Here is the purely anecdotal comparison:

3. Germany with 4 months
2. Switzerland with 7 months – mail from Geneva
1. United States with a breathtaking 25 months!

Seriously, today I received the first response to a letter I sent to the US SSA on May 30, 2009. The only explanation I have is that they never got the letter and actually responded to later resends. If they only got the third attempt, they’ll have processed the request within two months, which won’t be too bad.

Where to Get Conch Shells on Anguilla

There used to be two ways. The first was to drive to the end of the road at Sandy Grounds, where Iva, the diver, lived. He was in the business of diving for, cooking, cleaning out, and polishing up conch shells (queen helmet, specifically). Alas, he died on May 2nd. Sammy, his son, did not take over the business. So now there is only one option. That’s Cake and his shack opposite the Viceroy. Unfortunately, Cake was still working on the one shell he had hoped to sell me—the flesh hadn’t come out yet. So, no shells for me. But I’ll be back.

Fixed my U.S. Cell Phone Troubles!

To get started on the right foot, here a positive experience: I think I finally fixed my cell phone problems when travelling to the U.S.

Like many who don’t live in the U.S. I want to use a prepaid U.S. SIM card when traveling in the U.S. to keep phone charges in check. Like many more, I also want data service, not just phone service. For a long time, this combination was impossible without getting locked in into monthly contracts. However, earlier this year I was able to fix this problem on my last day of my last visit to the U.S.

I use a prepaid T-Mobile SIM card. A couple of months back they finally allowed for data on that SIM card and the matching prepaid plans. Very happy me. Alas, once in a while my travel plans didn’t work out as planned and so I missed the window in which to renew the prepaid plan and hence the card would get cancelled. Not so happy me. I just don’t want another to-track item in my calendar. Fortunately, a while back, I also noticed that automatic payments to that SIM card from a U.S. bank account will keep renewing the SIM card. So now I set these payments to minimum monthly payments ($10) and won’t have to worry again. Ever. I hope. Except that AT&T bought T-Mobile. Oh well.

If you wonder what’s the difference between a monthly plan and my solution: My payments keep piling up, include voice and data, and are at the minimum possible. Given that I barely use voice but mostly data, this is plenty for me.


It’s Blogging all over again

I’ve been blogging since 1995 but stopped personal blogging a couple of years ago to focus on my professional blog at I never really fully sobered up from personal blogging but have been using Twitter as a replacement. But the tweet limit is not helpful for longer posts and so I’ve decided to restart my personal blog here. I won’t be blogging all too frequently, mostly I expect to be complaining about my Internet provider Kabel Deutschland, something like Europe’s Comcast (only worse, if you can imagine). I do hope to get the occasional positive blog entry in, though :-)