February 7, 2009

The Half-Life of Names

Posted in Identification, life at 11:53 am by Michael

A few weeks ago we got what has become a commonplace, but ultra annoying notification from our bank – one of their credit card processor’s systems had been broken into, and our credit card data may have been compromised.

So, a week later, our debit/credit card was going to be deactivated, and they would send us new ones.

As promised, a new card for me (but not Anh… odd) came in the mail. I opened up the card, and went to activate it, but noticed that the name on the card was “Michael J. Wallent”. Odd, it was addressed to “Megan Wallent”, but the card said otherwise.

Oh well, another trip to the bank…

Before I had a chance to go get a new card at the bank (they can print them right there!), we were out at a restaurant that didn’t take Amex, and I had to use the new (Michael) card.

When the bill came back, the name on the receipt was “Megan J Wallent”…

Super odd… the envelope was addressed right, the card was printed wrong, but the magstripe was right.

I went to the bank (finally) yesterday to get a new card, and they thought this was odd too. The person who I ended up talking to was the same woman who processed my name change last year, and she remembered me… Surprise! She said that they likely had three systems, all of which needed to get updated, and there was a problem somewhere.

This isn’t the only time I’ve run into “Mismatches” – my health info at work was wonky for a while – and the internal Microsoft charity site still isn’t updated. (Many of the sites that are “extranet” – and hosted by third-parties haven’t been updated).

I went to go get a new phone yesterday too. I hadn’t ever updated my name with the wireless company. When I gave the sales guy my phone number he said

“Is this account under ‘Michael Wallent’?”


“Is Michael here?”

“I changed my name, its me.”


And we proceeded on… No biggie.

I’m glad that the mismatched name thing has never given me grief… Your “old” name has a “half-life” – like Plutonium. My guess is that the half-life of a name is about 9 months… if you have your name on 50 things, it would take more than 5 years for all of the kinks to work out of the system…


February 6, 2009

Watches (Or, Why Megan is Sentimental)

Posted in life at 10:18 pm by Michael

Watches have always been special to me.

I remember my dad having the same Timex gold watch while I was growing up. It had a twisty band, and I have a vivid image in my mind of my dad’s watch on his nightstand.

As a graduation present from college my parents bought me a stainless steel Rolex. I wore it every day until I married Anh in July of 2005.

As a wedding present, Anh got me a beautiful Breitling watch – a “Cosmonaute”.

It’s a pilot watch… 24 hour mechanical, with a slide rule for calculation and conversion and a stopwatch. I’ve timed more than one VOR approach and hold with it (piloty stuff!).


I absolutely love it.

Well, until last year. Last November.

I got a bunch of feedback that it was “too manly” (It is!)… and I stopped wearing it.

For a while, I wore the watch my parents got me then I just started wearing a simple digital Timex.

Anh and I had talked a lot about the watch and we had agreed that I would pass it on to Samwich. (John would get my Rolex).

Anh wanted to get me a new watch… we looked. A lot. Nothing felt right.

Then, just before New Year’s, I made a resolution.

I hadn’t been true to my beliefs about this whole transition thing. I had said from the beginning that transitioning wouldn’t change me fundamentally. The stuff I loved, I still loved (or wanted to love…)

I love the watch. Manly or not.

I started wearing it again.

Its clunky. Big. I love it. Its me. (Big and Clunky!)

N4151P came out of annual today… I can’t wait to time my next approach with the watch that my lovely wife gave me….