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Tag / Ramblings

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Blacked Out Currency.

On Thursday Anniken left for New York with two friends, leaving me home alone. Although she will only be away for a little over a week, I have to be totally honest and say that miss her already. But on the bright side it enables me to sit in the living room, eat chips with dip, drink my preferred brand of cheap I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Coca-Cola and watch the World Snooker Championship final. Snooker ain’t exactly Anniken’s favorite past time activity and half an hour of snooker on the idiot box usually means that we’ll have to watch two hours of recorded Say Yes to the Dress afterwards. Oh, I kid, I kid. But there’s considerably more Say Yes to the Dress than snooker on our TV, to put it that way.

Since Anniken is in the US, I decided to take advantage of the good exchange rate on USD and buy that GoPro camera I’ve been drooling over for ages. By sending the order to Anniken’s hotel, she can bring it with her. No need to pay import taxes: 25% saved. I’m also getting a bluetooth heart rate monitor to use with Endomondo and my Android phone. But what happens when I try to order everything through Amazon? My credit card is denied. Weird, because I’m pretty sure it worked just last week. Entering all the credit card information again doesn’t solve the problem, and in the end I decide to cancel the order. The heart rate monitor is sent from another store than Amazon and they’ve also got the information about my rejected credit card, so that order had to be canceled as well. There is no automatic cancellation on that order – a cancel request is be sent by e-mail from Amazon’s web site. Orders sent from Amazon can be canceled directly from the Amazon web site, but unfortunately, they had already started preparing the order and the website reports that they can’t guarantee that it will be canceled. So is my order canceled? Or is it not? Hard to tell. Pretty damn inconvenient.

After a bit of investigating, I realized that my credit card was not the problem, the cause laid with Evry, which is responsible for handling banking services for a number of Norwegian banks. Evry had gone tits up, taking ATMs, several online banks and credit card transaction systems – including my Amazon order – offline with them. How is that even possible?

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Viasat – We Meet Again.

Now that the Formula 1 season has started again, I’m glued to my computer every other weekend. Last year I followed the excellent coverage by the BBC using their iPlayer service. The service is not normally available outside of the UK, but thanks to a British VPN provider I got myself a UK IP address and a fat and stable pipe straight to their servers. Since the BBC provided everything for free, I just had to pay the VPN provider a fee. Good times.

This Formula 1 season, however, the BBC shared the UK broadcasting rights with Sky and together they created a puzzle of live shows, highlights, pre-shows and whatnot that gave me a headache. The BBC only got the rights to send a handful of races live, with Sky grabbing the rest of the races. And of course, since Sky is not financed by a mandatory license, it’s pay TV. For me, that meant that I had to pay both Sky and the VPN provider to watch the races, and that got a tad too expensive.

My only real option was to turn to my old web TV adversary: Viasat.

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Luck.

Organizing out-of-office hours social events for their employees is a priority for my employer, BEKK. They even have a highly dedicated group of people who spend a lot of time handling these events, and as far as I know, they have a reasonable budget to play around with. Personally, I don’t attend that many of these events, but every know I then I crawl out from underneath my rock, put on my social face and fire up the smalltalk machine1).

Most of the events are themed and yesterday “One Night in Vegas” was held: Texas Hold ‘Em, Black Jack, Roulette, but very little mafia. For me this was a great opportunity to do a little light-weight gambling before me and the guys go to Las Vegas later this year. Unfortunately, I discovered that I have a serious gambling problem. Not the kind of gambling problem where people pour their life savings, pink slips, kids and grandmothers into the pot, but rather the exact opposite: My risk aversion prevents me from using much money at all on gambling. Even though we got a stack of chips for free and was never playing for real money, I just didn’t want to use the chips. They felt perfectly safe in my pocket.

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Benjamins.

Anniken and I own an apartment in a joint ownership (also known as condominium or divided co-property): The apartment is ours, but the rest of the building and the land it sits on are controlled by an association of owners that jointly represent ownership of the whole piece. Every year the board of directors hold a general meeting where all co-owners are invited to join and vote on issues for the coming year. If you live in a city, you’re probably familiar with this or something similar.

This afternoon I attended the annual meeting in our association while Anniken was at work; lucky her. Every year I go to these meetings and I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever learn. It’s the same bullshit every year: There is at least one person (several if you’re unlucky) who comment on every single issue, complains about how everything was better in the past, thinks that the current board of directors is doing a half-assed job and generally just fails to shut up before the moderator shoots him or her down.

The big issue this year was a proposed increase in the board of director’s fee by NOK 25 000 (USD ~4 320). The money is to be split between the 7 people on the board. This was of course an outrageous suggestion and the issue was discussed left and right. People argued that the increase was too high and that sitting on the board should not be about the money, it should simply be done because “you want to and love it”. In other words, voluntary work. In the end the board’s proposed increase was turned down by the majority vote of the association.

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Driftin’.

The Norwegian license funded radio station NRK P3 has been out and about and made a web documentary about the Norwegian street car sub culture. When media turn their searching eye towards this particular sub culture, they always look at my hometown of Notodden, Norway, and this time is no different.

The general theme of the documentary is drifting, and as far as I know, that activity wasn’t too common when I lived at home with my parents. Then again, that is hundreds of years ago and I’m even sure if drifting were invented back then. The street car buffs where probably too busy driving their cars slowly up and down the main street anyway. But there are some areas in Norway where drifting is quite popular, at least according to the documentary. I hope the amateur they interview about drifting doesn’t have any family or friends that care about him, because he’ll be dead soon.

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