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March 26th, 2012

07:46 am: Highlights from a Life in Canterbury
Recent highlights of living in Canterbury: 
- A classical concert to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee in the main nave of the Canterbury Cathedral.  Handel's Cornation Anthems (including Zadok the Priest, aka "The UEFA Champions League Theme"!), Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks (Big! Bold! Brassy! ka-Blammy!), and Mozart's Coronation Mass (booooooring).  The huge space lent its majestic authority to the proceedings.  The first movement of the Cornation Anthems (Zadock), really does it for me.  Nothing declares "awesome" as a backed chorus roaring "God Save The King!" over full orchestra, with an abrupt musical pause just after to let it reverb in the great hall.  Power!  
- A classic Sunday walk through the countryside on a cold and bleary day, finishing at a 14th century pub George and Dragon for a Sunday roast. 
- A phone line that still hasn't been activated after a month of patient negotiating.  !@#$ the British Telephony service.  That is all.
- I'm seeing two Shakespearean plays this week: "The Winter's Tale" and "Henry V".   Why?  Because they are playing at the local theater, and because I can.  That's why.    I hope I can survive 5 hours of iambic pentameter.


March 21st, 2012

08:32 am: iPhone 4S : decide whether to buy from UK or US
I'm extremely frustrated with my current iPhone 3G, and how it performs as my main phone and personal organization device in the UK.  

Rather than wait until I get back to the US to get a new phone, I want to buy one now, in the UK.   My current iPhone 3G is jail broken and "works"… but not very well.  It freezes frequently, and does not provide network connectivity or computing reliably.   Sometimes it even prevents me from answering it when calls come through.  Even opening up with SMS application (which I do most frequently) is not an instant operation, but wastes many seconds.    

I am frustrated.  I want a new iPhone.  And I want it ASAP.

Herein lies my analysis, quantifying the risk and reward of my options to replace this iPhone 3G device.  

OPTION #1--  buying an iPhone 4S now in the UK (especially in comparison to waiting to buy in the US when I return):  

Advantages:
   * Avoid US state taxes.
   * Roughly equivalent price. The 16GB iPhone 4S is $649 in US Apple Store, £499 in UK Apple Store (£499=$790 at today's exchange rate).
      * However, that $649 is without taxes.  Using CA's approximate 8.5% tax, that'd be $704.16.
      * However, that £499 is actually £415.83+20% VAT included in the price (£415.83=$658.02). While Apple's UK store does not refund VAT, if I buy it from a different company that offers VAT rebates, I should be able to get the VAT back at the airport
   * I get to use the phone right away, on O2 network.  I am already a customer, and they should be able to swap my current SIM for the mini-SIM that the iPhone 4S uses.   
   * Possible advantage: better reception of O2 network.  This is currently AWFUL on my current iPhone 3G.  My hope is that the newer designs have better reception (and I have no hard data to back this up).  This "advantage" is hard to quantify, as both phones technically meet the specs of the O2 network. (900,1800,2100MHz)

Disadvantages / Risks: 
   * Counterparty Risk: I don't get my 20% VAT back from HMRC.  Risk level: moderate.  The Retail Export Scheme is always changing, but O2 retail says they can print me out the correct receipt so that I can get the VAT refund when I leave the country.  I will have to fill out VAT form at airport, and abide by the limits of the scheme. Risk mitigation: none. Downside: limited to the 20% loss of the original VAT paid at the till.
      *  Furthermore, in order to qualify for the VAT refund on my expected departure date, I would have to wait until April 1st to purchase (so, a 10 day wait from today).
   * Counterparty Risk: O2 could fail to unlock the iPhone.  Risk: minor.  They do this all the time.  It even should be free, because I am a current O2 customer.   Risk mitigation: #1) pay some greymarketers to unlock it. #2) I jailbreak the phone.  
   * Execution Risk-  the value of an iPhone at time of purchase in GBP (in UK) may be different than value in USD (in US) at later date. The purchase price may change, according to Apple policy.  This is counterbalanced by volatility risk between the two currencies.   All in all, I think this is a hard-to-quantify risk, but is improbable in that market forces would balance any disparities.  The real risk in the change of value of the underlying commodity-- the iPhone itself.  If Apple introduced a new model, the iPhone 4 I purchased would lose value.  However, this is not a risk in UK vs US purchase decision, and only factors into a  now vs later purchase decision. 
   * Mismatch Risk- iPhone will not be usable or the same as the iPhone bought in the US. Risk level : moderate.  Downside: big.  Mitigation: I have O2's unlocking scheme to cover me, which should guarantee unlocking, if not global usage.  2nd mitigation: Jailbreaking the phone should allow me to load the right OS into it, if need be.

OPTION #2-- buying in the US, and shipping it over to the UK 

Advantages  :
   * Guaranteed for iPhone to work in the US.  
   * Can avoid taxes if I have someone in OR (or another non-sales tax state) ship it. 

Disadvantages / Risks: 
   * Would have to ship it over using USPS or UPS. This incurs an extra charge of ~$16 for the cheapest set-rate option. 
      * Risk of iPhone being broken/ stolen in transport.  Risk: moderate.  Downside: full loss.  Mitigation: an extra charge for insurance.  This is not available on the cheapest, single-price shipping options, so this would add to the total cost significantly (dependent upon weight and claimed value).
      * Risk of import taxes?  Unresearched. 
   * Would not have access to it right away.  Will have to wait the standard shipping delays.
   * The iPhone may not work on the UK networks.  Risk level: extremely low.   This is the whole reason I'd be buying it without contract.   Mitigation: buy directly from Apple, who can stand behind their product and exchange it internationally if it doesn't work on the UK network. 2nd Mitigation: jailbreak.

OPTION #3 -- do without.  Keep the iPhone 3G and make a decision on what to do later. 

Advantages : 
   * By far the cheapest option.  Save hundreds of $/£.
   * Challenges me to use less technology, live in the day.
   * Less to take care of. 

Disadvantages / risks :
   * Feelings:  Feeling of being less than connected.  Feeling like I'm not as efficient as I was with an iPhone 4 (I had an iPhone 4 in the US).  Feeling less organized (as my organizational programs are all available on my iPhone, but don't work well with the iPhone 3G).  Mitigation:  use of paper & pen, more discipline, focus and planning.
   * Less able to get travel information easily.  As it stands: my iPhone 3G is almost useless as a travel device, such as getting train times or even Wikipedia information on local sights.  If it doesn't time-out on the network (or lack thereof), it crashes.  Mitigation: lots of paper books, lots of time, like I've been doing.
   * Frustration.  Living with it.

OPTION #4 -- buy something other than an iPhone. 

Advantage: 
   * Myriads more suboptions available.  
   * Something to do!  A heavy investment of time and energy expected to get it to work like I want.   

Disadvantage / risk: 
   * Heavy investment of time and energy in getting it to work like I want.  
      * Much more time required to investigate suboptions.  


08:23 am: iPhone 4S : decide whether to buy from UK or US
I'm extremely frustrated with my current iPhone 3G, and how it performs as my main phone and PDA in the UK.  I have decided that I want to buy the latest-and-greatest.  
Rather than wait until I get back to the US to get a new phone, I want to buy one now, in the UK.   My current iPhone 3G is jail broken and "works"… but not very well.  It freezes frequently, and does not provide network connectivity or computing reliably.   Sometimes it even prevents me from answering it when calls come through.
Herein lies my analysis, quantifying the risk and reward of my options. 
OPTION #1--  buying now in the UK (especially in comparison to waiting to buy in the US when I return):  
Advantages:
   * Avoid US state taxes.
   * Roughly equivalent price (at the moment: 16GB : $649 in US, £499 in UK).  
      * However, that $649 is without taxes.  Using CA's approximate 8.5% tax, that'd be $704.16.
      * However, that £499 is actually £415.83+20% VAT included in the price… and I should be able to get that back at the airport. And £415.83=$658.02. 
   * I get to use the phone right away, on O2 network.  I am already a customer, and they should be able to swap my current SIM for the mini-SIM that the iPhone 4S uses.   
   * Possible advantage: better reception of O2 network.  This is currently AWFUL on my current iPhone 3G.  My hope is that the newer designs have better reception (and I have no hard data to back this up).  This "advantage" is hard to quantify, as both phones technically meet the specs of the O2 network. (900,1800,2100MHz)
Disadvantages / Risks: 
   * Counterparty Risk: I don't get my 20% VAT back from HMRC.  Risk level: moderate.  The Retail Export Scheme is always changing, but O2 retail says they can print me out the correct receipt so that I can get the VAT refund when I leave the country.  I will have to fill out VAT form at airport, and abide by the limits of the scheme. Risk mitigation: none. Downside: limited to the 20% loss of the original VAT paid at the till.
      *  Furthermore, in order to qualify for the VAT refund on my expected departure date, I would have to wait until April 1st to purchase (so, a 10 day wait from today).
   * Counterparty Risk: O2 could fail to unlock the iPhone.  Risk: minor.  They do this all the time.  It even should be free, because I am a current O2 customer.   Risk mitigation: #1) pay some greymarketers to unlock it. #2) I jailbreak the phone.  
   * Execution Risk-  the value of an iPhone at time of purchase in GBP (in UK) may be different than value in USD (in US) at later date. The purchase price may change, according to Apple policy.  This is counterbalanced by volatility risk between the two currencies.   All in all, I think this is a hard-to-quantify risk, but is improbable in that market forces would balance any disparities.  The real risk in the change of value of the underlying commodity-- the iPhone itself.  If Apple introduced a new model, the iPhone 4 I purchased would lose value.  However, this is not a risk in UK vs US purchase decision, and only factors into a  now vs later purchase decision. 
   * Mismatch Risk- iPhone will not be usable or the same as the iPhone bought in the US. Risk level : moderate.  Downside: big.  Mitigation: I have O2's unlocking scheme to cover me, which should guarantee unlocking, if not global usage.  2nd mitigation: Jailbreaking the phone should allow me to load the right OS into it, if need be.
OPTION #2-- buying in the US, and shipping it over to the UK 
Advantages  :
   * Guaranteed for iPhone to work in the US.  
   * Can avoid taxes if I have someone in OR (or another non-sales tax state) ship it. 
Disadvantages / Risks: 
   * Would have to ship it over using USPS or UPS. This incurs an extra charge of ~$16 for the cheapest set-rate option. 
      * Risk of iPhone being broken/ stolen in transport.  Risk: moderate.  Downside: full loss.  Mitigation: an extra charge for insurance.  This is not available on the cheapest, single-price shipping options, so this would add to the total cost significantly (dependent upon weight and claimed value).
      * Risk of import taxes?  Unresearched. 
   * Would not have access to it right away.  Will have to wait the standard shipping delays.
   * The iPhone may not work on the UK networks.  Risk level: extremely low.   This is the whole reason I'd be buying it without contract.   Mitigation: buy directly from Apple, who can stand behind their product and exchange it internationally if it doesn't work on the UK network. 2nd Mitigation: jailbreak.
OPTION #3 -- do without.  Keep the iPhone 3G and make a decision on what to do later. 
Advantages : 
   * By far the cheapest option.  Save hundreds of $/£.
   * Challenges me to use less technology, live in the day.
   * Less to take care of. 
Disadvantages / risks :
   * Feelings:  Feeling of being less than connected.  Feeling like I'm not as efficient as I was with an iPhone 4 (I had an iPhone 4 in the US).  Feeling less organized (as my organizational programs are all available on my iPhone, but don't work well with the iPhone 3G).  Mitigation:  use of paper & pen, more discipline, focus and planning.
   * Less able to get travel information easily.  As it stands: my iPhone 3G is almost useless as a travel device, such as getting train times or even Wikipedia information on local sights.  If it doesn't time-out on the network (or lack thereof), it crashes.  Mitigation: lots of paper books, lots of time, like I've been doing.
   * Frustration.  Living with it.
OPTION #4 -- buy something other than an iPhone. 
Advantage: 
   * Myriads more suboptions available.  
   * Something to do!  A heavy investment of time and energy expected to get it to work like I want.   
Disadvantage / risk: 
   * Heavy investment of time and energy in getting it to work like I want.  
      * Much more time required to investigate suboptions.  


March 9th, 2012

02:00 am: potaeto, potahto

Submitted for your approval:  a standard Thursday night dinner in pictures. 

Jacket potatoes! w/ mushy peas, cheese, and beans. and salad.  

and a hallibut fish patty.  
yum!  
Very British.   To me, anyway. 



01:18 am: it's gotta be the cheese
Last night I was video-chatting with Michelle, who reminded me that I live in a land of pretty damned good cheese.  She recommended me Mrs. Kirkham's Lancashire in particular.  A trip to the Goods Shed is in order!   Watch this space for complaints, raves, and rants. 


February 27th, 2012

12:26 pm: today i ate a swede
Lucy made some bangers and mash and asked if I would like some swede mashed in.  
swede
It always amuses me when I have to learn new names for things.  
I thought swede might be arugula.  Nope! ("rocket"=arugula).  
It's was a rutabaga. 


09:54 am: you must learn patience, grasshopper

A day of frustrating, with everything working at the Speed of British Bureacrasy.  

I purchased a SIM card and a monthly plan for mobile provider O2.  But before I give out the number... I have to wait for it to start working. Like-- I get data connectivity, but the 3G hasn't kicked in yet. (Did they even give me a 3G SIM?)  And I can't yet access the supposedly-unlimited Wifi access I have at local hotspots... which are the two very reasons I chose O2! 

And my UK bank account is open... but I have to wait another 7 days for my account to be unlocked for internet registration.  And then another 5 days on top of that for them to send me my login information in the post... so a good 2 weeks before I can actually start using things like Bill Pay.  In the meantime, the branch staff are getting to know me well as I set up direct payments for rent, utilities, etc.  I feel like I'm banking in Ye Olde Dayse.  Next they'll have me carrying paper cheques from point to point.



February 19th, 2012

06:26 pm: children's tales
Nina and I shared some childhood memories today. It seems to me that every nation has its own set of children's programs that children grow up loving.  There are a few exceptions to this rule, like Sesame Street and Teletubbies, but different areas have localized children's shows.  My eyes have been opened to the psychedelic dream of In the Night Garden, and the dress-up role-playing fantasies of Mr. Benn.  I liked Clangers the best; they're just silly.  Canterbury, by the way, is the home of the author of Bagpuss, and there is an exhibit on Bagpuss now at the Canterbury Museum.

I shared a few of my own from my U.S. upbringing, and I found out that, cross-culturally speaking, Mr. Rogers comes off as the type of man you'd warn your kids about.  Always smiling, just a little too friendly, always asking to be your neighbor, no?  Not only that, but his name sounds like "rodgering".  

What were your favorite children's shows as a kid?  



February 18th, 2012

07:47 pm: funny now things change...
Turtle Island blog is ... ALIVE!

I am now on yet another island, slightly bigger, quite a lot colder, and decidedly more British. I send you greetings from the ancient Romano-Saxon city of Canterbury, in the domicile of my fair sweet Nina (oh, should I not use real names? Fine, then let's call her SweetCheeks. *shwapt!* What? Where did that slap come from? Huh. Women.)

In addition to your humble reporter's new geolocation, I do want to make some other changes to this blog. I intend for the tone of the blog to be more of an instant memory than a long treatise on reality (present posting to the contrary). My posts may be smaller, less pensive, more slice-of-life, off-the-cuff. Possibly reactionary and moody. Hopefully more digestible.

Welcome!

August 18th, 2011

11:35 am: trying out a new blog
turtle_island : this call is DEPRECIATED.

The new experimental interface, until further notice, resides at:

http://testblogphutkins.blogspot.com/

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