Month: April 2006

1995 Ford Windstar For Sale

As of today, our van is officially for sale. So far it feels like a microcosm of selling a house; we have to keep it clean while we show it.

Who knows how long this process will take? My first step will be to list it on a Hungarian auto sales Internet site, but I’ll need help doing that, so it won’t happen until next week.

6 May 2006 – SOLD!

Getting Phished

“Phishing” is the practice of sending spam email and deceiving the recipients into divulging their personal information to a malevolent source. I get phished frequently, but occasionally the morons who perpetrate this sort of thing rise to a level that almost makes them look valid. Today I got one such phish from Russia.

Here is the letter (I had to edit this later, so most of it is not longer as it originally appeared). See if you can spot the problems. I’ll note the ones I found at the bottom of this.

From: alerts [alerts@citibank.com]
Sent: Friday, April
21, 2006 8:32 AM
To: Jerry Hertzler
Subject: Banking Alert


 

  Online Security Token will be introduced from April, 1

  What is a CitiBusiness Online Security Token?
A CitiBusiness Online Security Token is a small handheld device that dynamically generates and displays a
one-time use password. All active CitiBusiness Online users will receive
information about its use shortly.

  If your token is out
of order or lost, you can receive a new temporary password for your online
banking work.

  Please click here to confirm the information asked for phone banking authorization
to be able to receive a new temporary password.
 
  If you do not
confirm your details until 04/30/2006 your account will be SUSPENDED for
security reasons and we will send you an Activation Code by post which you
will need to renew your online banking service access. You will receive
this within seven days if your current address is not
confirmed.

 

At the top of this message, you’ll see an E-mail Security Zone.
Its purpose is to help you verify that the e-mail was indeed sent by
Citibank. If you have questions, please call 1-800-374-9700. To
learn more about fraud visit Citibank.com and click “about e-mail
fraud” at the bottom of the screen.

ABOUT THIS
MESSAGE
This message is for information purposes only. Please do not reply
to this customer service e-mail. For deposit account specific inquiries, kindly
call 1-800-374-9700 or visit citibankonline.com. For credit card account
specific inquiries, please call 1-800-950-5114.


Citibank, N.A., Citibank, F.S.B., Citibank (West),
FSB, Citibank Texas, N.A. Member FDIC.

Copyright @ 2005 Citicorp


Did you see them?

1. The first one was no different than all phishing schemes. The “click here” link, the hook on which the entire bait rests, goes to a fraudulent site. This one was in Russia. Here is the link.
http://citibusinessonline.da.us.citibank.com.accountinfo.ru/NN7b2g7N…w/citibusinessonline.php?AdditionalInfo=jerry.hertzler@xcci.org
You can see in the address above (with a little geek knowledge to help) that this is a Russian domain. (accountinfo.ru). Domain names read from right to left starting with the right-most domain name, in this case “.ru”. Anything to the left is a sub-domain of the one to its right. Thus anything to the left of “accountinfo.ru” is still under the control of accountinfo.ru. (Anything to the right of the first slash “/” specifies a location on the web server).

2. The second problem is true of most phishing schemes; they are written in English by someone for whom English is not their mother tongue. We say “before 4/30/2006” not “until 4/30/2006”. This Russian mobster obviously needed to either study harder himself or hire a better English translator.

3. The third problem reveals just what dopes most phishers really are. Notice the email is copyrighted 2005. Four months into the new year and one of the world’s largest banks, CitiCorp, forgot to update their copyright notice? Not likely.

4. And the biggest problem of all is – the subject line: “Banking Alert” You will never receive an email from CitiBank, or any other trustworthy financial institution with this subject!

Did I miss any?

Hopefully this was just a waste of time for me and told you nothing new. But maybe you now have a little more information by which to recognize future attacks on your personal information.

I should have known better.

Sunday afternoon. Day to rest and do something optional or mindless. I decided to upgrade software on this website. I was thinking it would be relatively easy with the slight risk of complications. The slight risk proved a big risk. I got the blog software upgraded, but the photo software is busted. I’m troubleshooting now.

This one is worth another look – St. Vitus Cathedral Window

St. Vitus Cathedral Window

St. Vitus Cathedral Window

While the “New Cathedral” (St. Louis Basilica Cathedral) still ranks at the top of my list, St. Vitus Cathedral is right up there with it. In Prague we had the privilege of seeing St. Vitus again, and I especially enjoyed my favorite windows. Unlike other old European cathedrals, this one completed only recently in 1929. As such, popular Czech artists at the time, including Art-Nouveau master Alfons Mucha, designed some of the windows. The tales told in these windows relate to local Czech traditions rather than Biblical truth, but they are a visual feast otherwise.

I uploaded a larger image of this window so you can see it up close if you click the picture here.

People’s Gas

Today I began establishing utility service at our house in Orlando. Progress Energy (electric) had a nice online form that saved me making a phone call during their normal hours. One down, several more to go.

Next was gas. I once again shake my head in disbelief at the name of Central Florida’s natural gas company, Peoples Gas. Their parent company is TECO Energy, and they’ve named their other divisions normal things like TECO Coal, TECO Transport, and Tampa Electric. So what’s with an S&P 500 company naming their natural gas unit “Peoples Gas”?

I can just hear the CEO: “What? I don’t get it,” as he tries in vain to surpress a smirk.

The New Adler

Adler menu

Adler’s menu

Our favorite local restaurant is The Adler, and recently they opened a new coffee shop across the street from their original location. It has additional hotel rooms (it’s an inn) and an outside dining area. Tonight Cathy and I plan to have some coffee and dessert there.

While I was in St. Louis Cathy took the kids there for dinner one night. She noticed they had new menus, so she asked if she could buy one of their old ones. They gave it to her as a gift. It will make a nice memory of our favorite place.

We will miss the Adler and its waiters. They have become friends over the past few years and always give us a smile and friendly wave when they see us around town.

[Later: The experience didn’t disappoint. The owner showed us one of the new rooms, too. Very nice. If you come to Budaörs, this is where you should stay!]

Last Trip

The Hertzlers in Prague

The Hertzlers in Prague

For the kids’ spring break we took advantage of the last chance we’ll have to see something new in Europe and spent a few days in Prague. Audrey had not been on a train yet, so we chose that mode for our transportation. One of my personal highlights in life has been riding the night train back from Prague (back in 2004 when Tom and I worked on a project there). None of us got a good night sleep last night, though, so I don’t think it rated highly on the family’s charts.

We stayed with our friends, the Hynds, walked around Prague, and enjoyed the nice weather. And, of course, each day we made a ritual visit to the world’s best ice cream store, Cream & Dream.

2006 Questions

Here is a bit of Internet debris which came floating through my mailbox yesterday. I told the sender, Kristin G, she could read my answers here. [This will post on Tuesday even though I’m writing it on Monday, the European Easter holiday.]

1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:00 (I’m still jet lagging, and I went to bed at 9:00 pm.)

2. Diamonds or pearls? Neither

3. What was the last movie you saw?
Some French comedy on my Air France flight whose name I can’t recall. It was reasonable. “The Constant Gardener” was the movie prior to that. I couldn’t sleep this flight.

4. What is your favorite TV show? I have been without TV service in Budapest for the last three years and have not missed it one iota. Ironically two Cartoon Network shows would have to rank as my previous favorites: SpongeBob SquarePants and Dexter’s Lab. It’s ironic because when I heard about Cartoon Network I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want 24×7 cartoons. Then I got hooked on Dexter’s Lab.

5. What did you have for breakfast? Cereal, yogurt, and a mini cheese wheel.

6. What is your favorite cuisine? Asian

7. What foods do you dislike? Hot Pickled Mango

8. What is your favorite chip flavor?
I don’t prefer potato chips. BBQ Twisted Fritos are good, though.

9. What is your favorite CD at the moment?
U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind

10. What kind of car do you drive?
1995 Ford Windstar – but only until I can sell it.

11. Favorite sandwich? Sourdough bread, sweet mustard, turkey, lettuce, tomato, cheese.

12. What characteristic do you despise?
People like me. It’s annoying to see quirks of your own in others. It’s a painful reminder of how you appear.

13. Favorite items of clothing? My green Patagonia canvas shirt, now fraying around the collar, purchased shortly after a car fire consumed my former favorite canvas shirt in July 1988.

14. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Langewood

15. What color is your bathroom? white. Psychology 101 taught me that if nothing moves in your eye’s field of view (such as imperfections in your retina), your mind ceases seeing it. After 100 trips to the bathroom, my mind ceases seeing the color of my bathroom due to the same effect. So the color of my bathroom is of little importance to me. 🙂

16. Favorite brands of clothing? Hmm. I’m stumped on this one.

17. Where would you like to retire? Somewhere near my friends if I quit working while I am still healthy – on the assumption that Cathy and I will travel to see our kids and grandkids. Somewhere near my kids if I quit working as my health fails – on the assumption that they will pick a good nursing home for me.

18. Favorite time of the day?
After I walk Annie and before anyone else in the house is awake.

19. What was your best birthday? My last one, #40.

20. Where were you born? St. Louis, Missouri

21. Favorite sports to watch?
Marathons

22. Who do you least expect to send this back to you?
George W. Bush. But I’m not going to mail it to anyone, so if W leaves a comment here, I’ll be really surprised. Of course, there would be no way of verifying if he really did leave a comment or if someone just said they were George W. – unless he left his digital signature.

23. Person you expect to send it back first? Well, if someone cares to answer these questions themself and post them on their blog, then I suppose that would be either Grant or Rob, the two most voracious consumers and producers of blog content I know.

24. What type of fabric detergent do you use? Tomi liquid, the blue stuff. I do all the family laundry.

25. Coke or Pepsi? Coke

26. What is your favorite flower? This is a girl question.

27. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Morning

28. What is your shoe size?
10.5 or 11. (US). I think this is another girl question.

29. Do you have any pets? Annie, the dog.

30. Any words of wisdom you’d like to share with your friends? ??? ?????

31. What did you want to be when you were little? Big

32. What are you doing today? Writing this blog entry and generally wasting time while expecting that somehow I’ll get something productive done.

33. Who is the last person/people you want to see when your life on earth is over?
Cathy, Andrew, and Audrey, assuming I go first. Now if my death involves some sort of violent tragedy, then I’d rather not see them, as that would mean they would be about to die as well.

34. What is the farthest this email [blog post] will travel?
Who knows?

35. If you could change your life now….would you? Well, given that my life is already in the process of significant change, I’ll stick with where it’s going.

The cherries should be good this year.

Our Backyard Cherry Tree

Our Backyard Cherry Tree

One of the best things I have ever put in my mouth were cherry freezer-box cookies that Audrey made two years ago with cherries from our back yard. She handed me one as I came home from work, and they were so good I decided to have them for dinner instead of anything else.

Last year the cherry harvest was a disappointment. Many of the cherries split open on the tree, and most were just sour. That’s when we learned that cherry trees often go in two year cycles; one year of tasty cherries followed by a year of bad cherries. This would put us on schedule for good cherries this year. We can’t wait.

The Blogs I Read

I’m never sure what to do with the “Links” section in my right hand column. I consider them sites I recommend rather than sites I read. Maybe I should just make them sites I read and not worry about it. Actually managing my links is rather a pain, and I find myself avoiding it.

Instead I use Bloglines for reading now. Rob finally convinced me, and, indeed, it is an easier way to read blogs.

So if you want another list of blogs to browse, here’s my list (http://www.bloglines.com/public/SquareJer).

Home Again!

My trip back to Budapest was long, but it’s great to be home with my family again! I had a 9 hour layover in Detroit (enough to get a good chunk of work done) but only 1 hour between flights going through Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. What a contrast! Fortunately my bags and I both made it.

Now that the St. Louis trip is behind me my full attention will shift to wrapping up projects and getting our family moved to Orlando.

Standing Room Only

The New Busch Stadium

The New Busch Stadium

Dad and Mom got tickets to the St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball game for Bartek and I today. What a great experience! All the seats were sold out, so we got Standing Room Only tickets and floated around the upper deck. While it is still a bit difficult to explain to someone from Poland, like Bartek, why it was necessary to tear down the old park, which had become a well known symbol of St. Louis, and build a new baseball stadium, once you’re there it’s great!

The old stadium, built about the same year as the St. Louis Gateway Arch, blocked the view of all but the top part of the Arch to anyone inside the stadium. This new one gives the audience a spectacular view of the city.

Tomorrow morning I fly home to Budapest. I can’t wait to see my family again! Bartek will remain in St. Louis for two more weeks and continue meeting people and presenting what he does with Campus Crusade to them. He was a quick study, and I am sure he will do well after I leave. Again, when you think of him, pray for him.

Loading the Mule

When I lived in America and traveled to other parts of the world on CCC purposes, invariably my plans became known to the CCC grapevine, and I would find myself the unwitting courier of whatever the community at my destination needed. The items ranged from electronics to peanut butter. There was a point where this became slightly irritating, and I vowed I would not do the same when I lived in Budapest.

That vow lasted about two months in Hungary.

Now I shamelessly beg anyone coming to Budapest to bring stuff with them for us! Usually there is not a month that goes by when someone doesn’t come from the U.S. to our Budapest office. In the end, it’s just easier to shop on the Internet in your own language than to run around town fighting through all the one million unknown factors. The cost for this service is being a willing community mule yourself.

So, as I am returning soon to Budapest, my load is growing as friends are sending me their orders. I am a good mule.

Here’s the list: 9 books, 5 t-shirts, a camera, 3 DVD’s, 3 CD’s, 2 prescriptions, Easter packages, coffee filters, chocolate chips, Oreos, peanut butter, Zantac, and a computer sound card.

(Ok, some of those things are for the Hertzlers, too.)

Bart is doing fine.

Bartek’s new American nickname is Bart. Most people can recognize Bart, whereas “Bartek” usually requires one or two repeat pronunciations before understanding occurs.

After 12 appointments and speaking opportunities so far, I can see Bart’s challenges more clearly. He’s working in an entirely different culture, speaking in his second language, and doing the most difficult part of his job – finding Ministry Partners. This is his first time to the U.S., too, and the hard part is still ahead, making phone calls to set up more appointments.

With each new person he meets I can see him becoming more and more comfortable, so I know he will do well after I return to Budapest and leave him in St. Louis by himself for the last two weeks of April. Nevertheless, when you think of it, pray for Bartek.

I’m tired. It must be going well.

There are two kinds of tired. One kind occurs when there is not enough going on; the other when there is lots going on. I’ve got the second kind which is good to have on a trip of this sort. Bartek is doing well meeting and relating to so many new people, and everyone has been interested to hear what God is doing in Poland.

One of my roles on this trip has been DSL Installer. This morning I had my first experience with outsourced technical support. Dad and Mom’s DSL line was not running properly, so I called tech support and began getting it fixed. Within a few sentences I could hear that I was speaking with someone in India, although his practiced neutral English accent was pretty good. At one pause in our conversation, while we waited for computer systems to respond, he asked me how the weather was. I answered and then asked him where he was located. “The AT&T Response Center in Asia” was all he was “authorized” to tell me. So I asked him how the weather in Bangalore was instead, and he said it was sunny and warm.

The DSL line is now running at blazing speeds.

Proud to be an American

After living in Europe for three years, our upcoming transition back to the U.S. has made me wonder if I might develop a bad attitude toward America. I understand this is a common pitfall of returning ex-pats, and given my perspective change since leaving America I figured I was a likely candidate for it.

Bringing Bartek to the U.S. has probably been the best remedy for this, but I didn’t see it coming. I expected Bartek to see American faults and acquire the prevailing negative European attitude toward them. Instead it has been the opposite experience.

Bartek is amazed at the warm hospitality and generosity of Americans. Of course, there isn’t a better group of people to meet than our friends who do this ministry with us, but it wasn’t until I had the priviledge of introducing them to Bartek that I remembered what a wonderful bunch Americans are.

Something funny, something nice

After 5 days in America I asked Bartek what was one thing he liked about America and one thing he found amusing.

Something nice?
“Americans are very practical. Not theoretical. Very practical.”

Something funny?
“Intersections”

During the last two weeks of April, Bartek will be on his own in St. Louis. Our friend, Calvin, is loaning him his car, so Bartek has been studying the local roads and driving habits. One of his first questions was, “Jerry, do they not have the right hand rule here?”

“No, they have the left hand rule. The person on the left at a four way intersection has the right of way,” I replied.

The next day, after negotiating a four way stop, Bartek asked me again, “Jerry, what did you just do there? That was not the left hand rule.”

Now I was puzzled. Did I not obey traffic laws? I reviewed the scene in my mind, and I realized that not only did I not obey the left hand rule, no one else did either. In fact, that really isn’t how people drive at all here! The “Whoever Gets There First” rule applies instead.

Several intersections later Bartek asked me again, “Why did you let that person go? You got there first.”

After more introspection I modified the theory again. The “Whoever Gets There First/Every Lane Takes Their Turn” rule applies. And sometimes it’s modified by the “I’m pretending I didn’t see that you were at the intersection first, and I’m going anyway” principle.

At this point Bartek was just shaking his head and chuckling.

Back Online

Woohoo! The DSL service is finally active at my parents’ house, and my wireless router reaches to the top floor with no problem. I feel like I returned to the world again.

Bartek Sees St. Louis

Dad, Bartek, and Jerry at the St. Louis Gateway Arch

Dad, Bartek, and Jerry at the Arch

Yesterday Dad and I took Bartek on a tour of St. Louis. We did the Arch, saw the new Busch Stadium and visited the New Cathedral.

Sitting on the steps of the Arch looking across the Mississippi River, we noticed the difference between St. Louis and a European river city. In Europe there would be buildings right up to the river’s edge on both sides of the river. Across from the Arch, the opposite bank’s lone structure is a grain elevator.

There aren’t too many historic buildings of note either. In fact, just recently one of St. Louis’ more unique buildings, Busch Stadium, was torn down to be replaced with a newer, better one. Why keep old stuff around? Rip it down and build something new.

Which all remains consistent with an observation my Serbian friend made of Americans and Europeans:

“Americans come to Europe and buy old stuff. Europeans go to America and buy new stuff.”

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

Inside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

Growing up in St. Louis I always regarded the “New Cathedral” as just another large church, built a few miles away from the “Old Cathedral.” Cathy’s parents married in the new one, and I thought that fact alone was its most interesting feature. So when Mom suggested we take Bartek to see it I was curious to compare it to other Central European cathedrals.

It is completely amazing!

The entire ceiling is covered with mosaics, and its size is comparable to many of the other major cathedrals in Europe. Two things distinguish it over European cathedrals. The mosaics form an understandable story of God’s plan toward man. You can see the story in the pictures. The other thing is that it’s in English! I can read the writing on the walls.

Landed in St. Louis

Bartek and I are now both in St. Louis. Today I’ll show Bartek the Gateway Arch, pride of our city.

Until next Tuesday, when my parents get their fast Internet service activated, I’m back in dial-up land and coffee shop access.