Archive for January, 2014

Calling from skype outside of the US

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Last week I had a call from my U.S. office to a Germany phone.  At the scheduled time I pasted the number in and hit call… and it didn’t work!  Nothing!  Error!

I did a search and found that I needed to put 011 before the number.. this time it worked like a charm.

While I like this safeguard (so my kids can’t accidentally dial internationally and rack up long distance charges), it would be nice to figure out how to do this easier.  Here’s the post I found the info from. Note the first answer was not what I was looking for :)


This was funny: real life conference call

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Four minutes is usually too long for me to look at a funny video, but I kept seeing reference to this Youtube video and it was flat out brilliant (and worth the time to watch it):

One thing they under-showed was “multi-tasking.” I’ve been in the room with people on conference calls where they were there but they weren’t there… know what I mean?

Looking at taxes a “new” way

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Maybe this isn’t a new way at all.  I saw this exact text on a comment on a local newspaper website but lost it before I could share it.  I wasn’t too anxious to share it because I’m not convinced this is exactly what is happening, and not sure about the accuracy of it all (and the conclusions).  The end did remind me of Atlas Shrugged, though. It is a comment on this blog post.

Before you read it, I want to share something I learned about the Boston Tea Party. You know, the famous one where people were tossing tea into the harbor?  Do you know the percentage of tax increase that the Americans were freaking out about was?  3 percent increase.  Or wait, was it a small DECREASE?  Anyway, the issue wasn’t about a big percentage…

Let me know what you think about this analogy… is this accurate, or is this propaganda?

Here it is the story/analogy about who should pay what taxes, and what the consequences might be:

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this…

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing
The fifth would pay $1
The sixth would pay $3
The seventh would pay $7
The eighth would pay $12
The ninth would pay $18
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59
So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.

“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20″. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men ? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

The bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% saving).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% saving).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% saving).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% saving).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% saving).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the $20 saving,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,”but he got $10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!” “That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back, when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Walking and Woodpeckers

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

I’m trying to get back into walking this year.  Last year was a walking dud.  About six months after the emergency surgery… so about June or July, I was winded just walking 1.5 miles.  This year I’m not sure I’m going to set a firm SMART goal, but I’m going to try to get back into it.  This week has been excellent so far, with three days in a row.

A highlight was coming upon one of my favorite animals….. a woodpecker! This is exactly what it looked like (I didn’t take the picture), and I was probably four or five feet away from it for a while as it pecked the tree to death for about five or ten minutes.  It was really cool, especially considering most of the animals haven’t been coming out for a while :)