Saturday, December 06, 2003

My landlady and neighbor, Valentina, wants to feed me good meals for $300/month. I think I'll try it; that's less than I'm spending now and she's a good cook. I could save money.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

My new apartment's wonderful telephone line was broken yesterday and most of today. It is working again now.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Today's adventure involves an amusing juxtiposition between my bank, California federal, having been bought out by Citibank and me having lost (missplaced? had stolen??) my Debt card, the only source of money for me here in Ukraine.

Before I left the USA, 8 months ago, I very carefully went through all the rules and procedures my bank had in place for dealing with this exact problem, should it arise. Sadly, however, all my plans are to no avail for my bank has since been swollowed by one with completely different (but not wholely unworkable) procedures.

So I can call them collect, 24 hours per day, from a residential (but not a mobile) phone.
A supervisor (who is only available 8-5 central time; 3 pm - midnight my time) can authorize the sending of a new ATM card (note: NOT a Visa or M/C) to a "secondary address" such as where I am now. Note that this kind of card cannot be used to get money outside the United States unless I go to a Citibank office; the nearest of which is in Warsaw, Poland -a 2 day trainride from here. ($8 fare with no food).

They can also send out a new MasterCard Debt card (which I can use to get money here) to my *primary home address* back in the USA.

Normally, to change addresses, I must walk into a Citibank office. However, due to my extreme powers of patients and gentleness in the face of obserdity, a bank manager was kind enough to change my primary address to here in Ukraine where -automatically because it is in Ukraine- they will send me a new card via DHL Express (the only way safe) and it will arrive in 3 business days! Cool, eh?

Furthermore, I can spend $30 on a wire transfer to an account I can open at a local Ukrainian bank for only 100 Hryvnas (about $19). But I am admonished that I can only send no more than US$50,000.00 per business day using this method. ;o)

So, bottom line: I'm fine. I'll have a new Mastercard on Friday or Monday. Now the only problem is convincing my storage place in Phoenix over the phone to bend their rules to let me specify the new card number for them to keep charging me every month for my storage. Oh, and the same for Verizon, my USA cellphone/voicemail (they're okay about this, though).

All in all, an interesting time. It has given me the opportunity to start thinking about my December budget early. ;o)

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