Drip, Twitch

So, getting the car fixed didn’t cost as much as I’d feared, which is good… came out to $150ish, which is pretty nice since they had to replace a pulley and a belt, plus labor. They even gave me a loaner car for the day while they worked on it, which is pretty damn swell. I wandered back up to the coffee shop and downed two pots of herbal tea trying to battle the allergies that suddenly cropped up the other night… I’ve been congested all damn day. Finally picked up some Claritin (the good stuff, with the decongestant plus antihistamine, that you have to sign a release with the pharmacist for since it contains psuedoephedrin), and that’s helped a bit, but I’m still a bit congested and sneezy. Nothing I can do now but keep hydrated and hope my body acclimates soon. I’m usually really good about allergies and things blooming and such, but I think the stress and moving and sleeping on the floor and everything else is just messing with my system a little too much to adapt as quickly as it usually does.

In other news, hilarity ensues over at Wil Shipley’s blog, as he blogs his trip to the TED conference. It’s definitely worth the read.

Other than that, it’s been a pretty non-day. I did swing over to the Omni offices and delivered a message for R Stevens to the effect of “Your browser is his favorite, and he says keep up the good work.” but watching the grin on their faces was well worth the time and vaguely awkward feeling, since, y’know, I’m not R Stevens, and only know him peripherally (we know some of the same people, and I read his comic and LJ). Still, message passed. :)

From My Apartment, No Less

I don’t really have anything specific to say at the moment, but I did want to make use of my newly installed broadband in all its homebody-y goodness. Well, other than the crick in my neck and back from sitting in odd positions on the floor, since my desk and chair don’t arrive until next week. I’ve already done system updates and application updates and all that jazz, and probably tomorrow I’m going to sit down and see about synching up files between systems and such.

In the process of upgrading iTunes, I browsed through the iTunes Music Store, where I discovered first that the two free songs I still had squirreled away from last year have sadly expired (I knew they were going to in March, but I couldn’t remember whether the beginning of March or the end of it… alas), and just as I’d recalled two classic songs that I wanted to add to my collection. Ah well. I also discovered that there’s now gobs of stuff in their television section that I’d really love to get… BSG (mini-series on up), Dresden Files, some classic cartoons, Electric Company, et cetera. The relative low cost is remarkably appealing, but being broke continues to be a sufficient deterrent.

Especially when you suddenly get saddled with unexpected car repairs. That noise I referenced before that was probably a belt? Yeah, driving home last night, the battery light and the e-brake light both turned on, and about a block later, my power steering died. Not leaking anything, and the belt is still there… but is apparently now worn/loose enough that it’s no longer doing what it’s supposed to. So tomorrow morning, I’m driving it down to the repair shop and praying it’s not too expensive to get her back in ship-shape condition. Would have done it today, but I had to spend most of the day waiting for the cable guy (they gave me a 4 hour window to expect him… he showed up 30 minutes AFTER that).

Beware the Posts of March

We’re not at the Ides yet, but it seemed appropriate. Things march forward in life, in generally pleasant ways. I’ve been puttering around getting various tasks done, and in general really wishing I had, say, furniture in my apartment. I’ve been sleeping on a camp mat and using my camp chair to sit in, but it makes it hard to get some computer projects I’d like to do done. Considering it’ll be another week until my things start to arrive (things are being shipped shortly, and the storage unit gets delivered on the 13th)… hrm, I may need to find a solution. As it stands, I spend most of my days in coffee shops, slurping chai and making eyes at the baristas (always more delightful when they make eyes back…). I had dinner with Mickey last night, which was really nice, and hopefully we won’t let quite as much time slip between get togethers now that I’m local again. Honestly, the only major concerns I have right now is job hunting and a strange noise my car has started making. I’m keeping an eye on it, and actually swung down to the service center this morning to make sure (in classic fashion, it wouldn’t make the noise while the mechanic was there). He suspected a loose belt, which makes sense, but it’s not immediately pressing, so it should be able to safely wait until I get my car serviced again. Still, frustrating, and I worry for my poor car. She has 130,000 miles in her already, and I really hope to double that.

As some of you know, Ayyam-i-ha just passed, and my parents were great and sent me some gift cards to help me out with this move. I picked up some frivolity via Amazon (some portable games and preordered Twin Peaks Season 2), and replenished my wardrobe at JC Penney. I’m pretty happy with what I managed to pick out (nothing out of the ordinary, just some nice slacks and button-down shirts suitable for a potential office environment). I do still need to do something about my shoes (my current Keens are beginning to disintegrate), but I think I may be able to just recover a prior pair of shoes by doing something about the insoles. You know me… shopping maven… if by maven you mean decides what he wants, goes in, finds what he wants, buys it, leaves. (Except bookstores… I can spend freakin’ hours in them.)

It’s hard to imagine that it’s already March. Here’s to the coming spring!

The Good, the Bad, the Director

So, things have been a little stressful, lately. Health insurance came due, and while not exactly unexpected, we really didn’t have the funds for it, so we are now left with needing to do some creative accounting to find the money for everything (rent, bills, car payments, car repairs, et cetera — the money we gratefully received from Mickey’s father to repair the car had to be spent on the health insurance). I’m scrambling madly for a job and have had absolutely no luck. I’ve submitted over 60 resumes at this point, plus several job applications for retail positions, and everyone is either not hiring, or is looking for someone more qualified. Not that they are telling me this, mind you: I’ve been lucky to get an auto-response out of most of them. They also generally say “No calls concerning employment accepted — if we like your resume, WE’LL CALL YOU.”

That would be “the bad”: being broke as hell, with no relief in sight. Even jobs I’m qualified for I’m not getting a response out of. At this rate, it is distinctly possible that we’ll have to sell stock (or use it as collateral on a loan) and move back east to DC, where Mickey has more consistent, reasonable-paying work. I really like it out here except for the job situation, so I’m really REALLY hoping it doesn’t come to that.
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Happy New Year!

First: Happy New Year, everyone! Also: Remind you of anyone?

Vacation has been… interesting. The trip down sucked. A LOT. It rained for the first leg of the trip, something that doesn’t really bother me at all, and was in fact rather expected, considering this is winter in the Pacific Northwest. We stayed with a friend in Portland for the night, and continued our trip down I-5 the next morning. Of course, we hadn’t bothered really checking the weather report for the drive, which was a stupid, stupid blunder on our part. As we neared the Oregon/California border, we ended up stopped in traffic for about 45 minutes before we decided to take the exit we had just passed and detour down to the next exit (the joy of road atlases that live in the car).

It started to snow as we made our way to the next exit, which was significantly higher in elevation. In fact, by the time we got to said exit (a mere 10 miles down the road), there was 3 inches of snow on the ground, and it was continuing to snow heavily. We tested our traction, and decided to press on. This worked out rather well, actually: the traffic jam (an accident, most likely) STILL hadn’t cleared by that point, so there was very little other traffic (merely the other people who’d chosen to detour like we had). We put the car into 2nd, and slowly made our way down the other side of the pass.

That’s when the wind picked up. We were getting knocked all over the place by this wind, but still doing alright (far more nerve-racking, though, because it reduced visiblity by blowing snow around). We again tested the roads, and decided to continue on.

Shortly after Weed, California, you enter yet another fairly significant mountain pass, which takes you through the foothills around Mt Shasta (and in fact directly through the middle of the Shasta National Recreation Area). The wind thankfully died down again crossing this pass, but the snow also got heavier (and wetter), which made the drive significantly more sketchy. As we were crossing this pass, we hit a patch of slushy ice while rounding a corner, and started to fishtail. I counter-steered as well as I could, but there was really just no traction to be had, and we ended up sliding across the road into the embankment (far, FAR better than sliding into the jersey wall). Before the hecklers say “you must have been going too fast!” I was going 30, in a low gear. By the time we impacted, we were going closer to 15 (hence why no airbag deployment). Mickey and I are none the worse for wear (well, other than our nerves), and the car itself is structurally and mechanically fine (I did as good a check as I can with a flashlight, checking the exterior and the underside). We slid over a mileage marker post, which dented the driver’s side front panel, a few inches in front of the door. We hit the embankment fairly directly, and the bumper took the entirety of the impact, gaining the scratches, and getting a chunk ripped out probably by a rock in the dirt. We even recovered the license plate, which had been ripped off in the impact.

After inspecting the car, we continued on our way (we didn’t really have a choice… we were in the middle of nowhere, and needed to get out of the mountains before the storm got much worse). About 20-30 minutes later, we ended up at the back of another traffic jam, a line which was pulling double-duty: an accident had happened there, so the authorities also took it as an opportunity to set up a checkpoint for chains on cars. If you didn’t have either 4WD or chains, you were directed off the road at that exit. (This is in the last 10 miles of the mountains, mind you.)

We sat for a while, and were told that it was chains-only, which we didn’t have, so we turned around and went up an exit (no services), and took a nap in the hopes that the storm would die down a little, or that a plow would come through. After an hour and a half or so, we tried again, and got back in the line, which had in fact started moving. We waited for a while, and I saw some cars nearby pull out and drive along the median until they were out of sight, so I decided to follow them on foot and see what exactly was happening. I dogtrotted about 3/4 of a mile down the road, until I finally came to where a lady was checking cars for tires.

I hung out there for a while and asked her a few questions about what exactly was allowed through, and then headed back to the car. This wasn’t nearly as long a walk (10 minutes or so?), as the line was in fact moving (Mickey took over driving duty while I walked). After making it through the checkpoint, we continued through the mountains, staying right around 20mph (that’s the speed Mickey felt comfortable at, and she was driving… seemed about right).

Once finally out of the mountains and in Redding, CA, we stopped for gas and a quick breather. The weather was still pretty bad, but was mostly snowing giant globs of flakes, and in fact cleared out after another mile or so (into literally nothing but normal rain, if that). We drove another hour or so, and stopped in Corning for the night, around 2:30am.

Got up in the morning and continued on our way. We were thankfully past the snow, but it was still raining heavily, and the wind had picked back up again. The leg between Corning and Sacramento was variable enough that it kept things a bit more interesting than I would have preferred, with wind gusts that were literally knocking people all over the roads. Just outside of Sacramento, we got stuck in traffic because a tractor trailor truck had been blown over onto its side. (Waiting in traffic, the wind was strong enough to shake the car even when standing still.)

The wind calmed down a LITTLE for the leg between Sacramento and San Jose, though the rain picked back up again instead. We finally made it down to Bill and Peri’s house, and even in time to see my cousin Jeff before he had to go catch a flight back to Colorado. We were fed yummy soup and homemade bread, got a chance to chat and catch up a bit, and then finally headed down to Ethan and Cortney’s, where we’ve been staying ever since.

So, for all that the drive down sucked ass, being down here has actually been pretty good. There is the minor muttering on my part because I’ll be leaving a few days before MacWorld San Fransisco opens, but hey, I can always FLY down next year, with a bit more preparation, and really get a lot more out of it. Mostly, we’ve been lounging about our cousin’s house, having pleasant conversation, good food, sleeping in, and reading a lot (Mickey has finally had a chance to just sit around and read, and has been taking good advantage of it… I’ve been using it as a chance to read my school books). Most of all, we’ve been playing with their puppy, Harp, who is an absolute sweetheart. She’s about a year old (maybe a little over), and is extremely intelligent (she’s also kind of stubborn). She’s a black and tan english shepherd, and seems to be very happy with my cousins (they rescued her from a kill shelter when she was six months old). She’s really reinforced to both Mickey and myself just how much we want a dog of our own… unfortunately, it’s going to have to wait until our income is a bit more stable, along with everything else we’ve been waiting on until we have more money.

We spent New Year’s Eve at an 80’s club in downtown San Fransisco (we drove past the Sega offices, I was very excited), and danced for about 45 minutes before and 45 minutes after the new year… we all had a good time. Despite my being younger than everyone else by a fair amount (which they delighted in poking fun at me about), I recognized as much music as anyone else, and it was a good time. We probably would have stayed longer, but it was BLOODY HOT in there, and we were all soaked with sweat by the time we stopped dancing. (Yes, that’s right, I dance. I’m not going to say I dance WELL, but I dance.) We ended up heading home and snuggling up with some hot chocolate and our respective sweeties (Ethan and Cortney, Mickey and I), which was in my humble opinion, a great way to inaugurate the new year.

We slept in til around 12, and then got up and went to a New Years party at some of Ethan’s cousins (the easiest way to describe the connection is that I am Ethan’s second cousin through his father. The family who was holding the party were Ethan’s cousins and extended family through his mother). There was lots of good food and pleasant conversation, and tomorrow we’re all going over to Bill and Peri’s for a leg of lamb (MMMmmmm).

That has pretty much been our week. Yes, long post.

Settling In

Everyone talks about the horrendous lines and crowded waiting rooms when dealing with the DMV. It has become something of a cliche, really. I have been blessed with having never had to wait for more than 10 minutes at any DMV, ever. I can’t help but wonder if this is somehow related to the fact that Gladys seems to be my Godmother of sorts.

For those not familiar, Gladys is the goddess of parking and traffic. Every time you pay a toll or a parking meter, you are leaving money at her altars. If you don’t want to consider her deific or anything, just think of her as one of those spirits that Shakespeare was alluding to when he said “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (Hamlet I,v,166) Personally, that’s more of how I consider Gladys. I was first introduced to the reference by my wife shortly after I met her for the first time.
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