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Archive for March, 2013

Card Skimming, Card Woes, and Good News

March 19th, 2013 at 09:40 pm

The news about folks unable to withdraw money from their Cypriot banks today reminded me of several things that have happened here. Two of my students got their debit cards "skimmed" in one of those nasty add-ons to ATMs. I've heard several horror stories from people on the bus too. I've again reminded myself to only use ATMs inside bank lobbies.

One of my colleagues had another ATM eat his debit card, and when he contacted the bank to tell them, they mistakenly also put a hold on this credit card too. He was left with no access to money or credit all weekend, and had a heck of a time straightening it out yesterday. The bad bank (like my experience before I left) was Wells Fargo who can look forward to being dumped by both of us when we return home.

But there's good news too. One of my flakier students (and that's saying a lot) left her purse on a London bus. She realized it within minutes, but the bus was long gone. Yet within two hours, the woman sitting next to her found her on Facebook, messaged her, and they met up to retrieve her purse.

As a cautionary note, she's put a hold on those cards for a bit, just in case this was too good to be true, but the woman returned the entire purse which included 100 pounds in cash. Amazing.

Exchange Rates and Other Musings

March 15th, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Only a week until DD and DH arrive, so I'm doing all the London things that I love, but that he's less than enthusiastic about--antique shopping, theatre, etc. and saving all the things we all love like museums and history for after their arrival.

I'm still rather amazed at how expensive groceries have been. On Tuesday I spent 25pds on groceries, and all I have left is tangerines. I do eat almost every meal here or pack lunches, but still, it's expensive.
My new pleasure? Chili beet(root) for on top of salads.

But the good news for us is the exchange rate. The pound has fallen 8.5% against the dollar since January. I'm going to start putting almost everything on the American credit card (which we always pay off) to help take advantage of that.

The British economy seems a bit worse than the American at this point with a new budget coming out next week. Several friends are facing layoffs, and there are plenty of cuts in benefits.

Off to the British library!

It's Been a Whirlwind

March 11th, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Wow, I'm amazed at how quickly this time has flown. I'm 2/3 of the way through my English sojourn, and since last writing have been to Prague, along with day trips to Oxford and other spots.

I fell in love with Prague as I suspect most people do. What a beautiful city. The only significant money I spent there was on a few meals since a very hearty Euro-style breakfast came with the hotel--and some museum admissions. I really enjoyed the Mucha Museum, and although I thought I knew something about this style of work, I'd never heard of him. The Kafka Museum has my favorite though;really suited to his work.

Mostly I enjoyed walking around. How women walk on those cobbled streets in high heels, I'll never know. I spent much of the time with a London colleague who has become a very comfortable friend. I bought a few little bits of jewelry on the Charles Bridge. Sunday's tour was much more sobering as the students visited a town obliterated by the Nazis and then the concentration camp at Terezin.

We got home very late and exhausted from the emotionally draining day. I slept late last Monday, then went for a long long walk.

More soon!