Phone home

My life feels slightly more in order: I’ve gotten myself a new cell phone. It’s a Samsung one-piece (not clamshell)—totally my style of phone—a brick, lots of battery life. Well, the new brick is tiny compared to my old brick (Sanyo SCP4500)—I should call it “baby brick.”

Old brick: http://cellphones.about.com/library/bl-pp-sanyo-scp-4500.htm
Baby Brick: http://www.geckobeach.com/cellular/reviews/samsungn370.asp

The new phone also has that goofy voice dial feature: Hey Jean—I can still tell my phone “Redhead Cell,” and call you!

In case you were not on the email lists with my new number, take my old cell phone number (as a 10-digit number) and subtract 975,149,520 for my new one. Hmmm… for the crytographically oriented, isn’t this an extremely lame form of a one-time pad?

For those of you who care about my plan (if you’re bored enough to be reading my blog, I figure that might be the case), I get 250 minutes to Canada OR the US per month included in the plan. However, additional minutes are a real rip-off (30 cents/minute). Also, I get nailed with serious roaming charges in the US. The problem is, that in order to get US roaming included, you have to upgrade to the next tier of calling plans—more than I want to pay. However, the rep told me that you could get travels plans (~$10?) if you know you’re going to calling from the US.

Soooo.. that means my current plan is to catch up with people at length via voice over IP (Vonage box), once I get broadband installed (hopefully on Tuesday).


Bit by bit, moving in

The stuff I’ve assembled and put up today in my room has been very reassuring—it’s made my bedroom feel a lot more like home. I put up some shelves, and got stuff out of boxes. I put up the print that Judy gave me, titled “Consider Change” (with the Monarch butterfly caterpillar). A lot of the wedding photos I’ve collected—it’s a bit of a comfort to have the smiling faces of many friends looking back at me in those frames. They are all icons reminding me of my community of friends.

I slammed out the installation of a closet rod in the bedroom closet. It felt very gratifying to do maybe a half hour of work and make a closet that functions exactly as I want it to—and probably better than it ever has before, to boot. I also managed to find just about every tool and fastener that I needed for the installation from the packed state—things were packed in the right logical place, and I could remember where they were. Two foot level, 1-1/4” forstner bit, hammer drill, GFCI extension cable, #10 3” screws. I rule.

What’s also interesting is that I haven’t even touched the living room—or spent much time in there. I have the feeling the apartment will feel semi-infinitely larger once I have my furniture assembled and get that space going. It’s a huge room; lots of sun, nice view of the street. Right now, every time I walk into the room, I go—“Oh yeah… I guess I do have more space than my bedroom, and the parts of the kitchen that aren’t filled with boxes.

I have big plans for the kitchen; I hope I can make them happen. For one, talking to the landlord, and seeing if they’re up for me ripping out the cabinets and installing new ones (and countertop that doesn’t suck). As a side note, I would say my assessment of the kitchen is as follows:

“Think of the first few apartments that you were looking at just after you graduated from school. Then think of the one in the crappy part of Central Square that was really cheap. But the one with the kitchen so nasty that you decided that you really needed to pay more and find a better place. That was the kitchen that had not been redone since the 60’s, except for really bad renters’ attempts at improvement. The one seen in Crack Den Magazine’s Kitchens and Baths Special. Yeah… that’s my kitchen.”

I’d like to do a few more things in this kitchen—such as buying chief grad student’s laundry machines, and installing them—perhaps putting a chunk of countertop across the top, as added working space. The electrical hookup and water hookup might be an issue, though.

I think I might be on speaking terms again with fishie (a.k.a. Xi Ugly): I bought him a new tank, filled it up, and put him in it this afternoon. Felt like a relief to get that dealt with—I’ve felt really bad leaving him in a bucket for two days while getting his new home. Well… he’s managed not to die—that’s one tough fish. I find it rather odd that I’m putting this much emotional energy for an animal that no doubt has a less-evolved brain than a field mouse (an animal which I have minimal compunction on killing). Enh… I guess he’s cute.


First wakeup in Canada

I met my moving company at the customs warehouse at the airport; a nice relaxing breakfast before that. However, things started to go downhill quickly. The customs agents held up the process a lot this morning—-turns out the movers broke a few laws by dropping off a shipment in Montreal before coming here (and breaking the seal on there truck)--fines up to $10,000. Fortunately, all this meant for me was that I had to sit around for about an hour while the customs folks harangued them. Still was a bit nerve-wracking: what else are these customs agents going to take out on me for choosing these movers?

But the movers put everything in my new apartment. Photo to follow, if I can figure out how to post them to the blog.

Fishie has probably decided to stop speaking to me; I kept him in the bottom 3” of water in his tank for the drive up to Canada, overnight in my car while waiting at the customs clearinghouse, and most of the day while unpacking. However, he did get his revenge—my first night sleeping in my new apartment, I go bolt upright at 3 AM from hearing the fish tank pump making really bad sounds. It turns out that the tank side had gotten cracked, and was slowly leaking out onto the floor through the evening. I ended up running around in this apartment where I barely know where the light switches are, digging out my mop, cleaning up the spilled water, and transferring fish to a spare drywall bucket.


Bienvenue au Canada

[Note--I only recently got access to the web; I am organizing and dumping blog entries I've been keeping locally on my hard drive. Bear with me here.]

The drive from Boston to Ontario was... well.. pretty damn sucky. First, there was a moderately late start (10:30 AM). I ended up having a relaxing lunch and stroll in Lenox, MA (western edge; dropping off a friend at a yoga retreat). Traffic on I-90 through New York was jammed up around Albany due to an accident. I came up with an almost clever way to get around the jam. Almost clever, because I missed the exit, in a chunk of New York where exits are 15 miles apart. Half an hour later, I was back where I started to backtrack. Ugh. Then, I got caught in dumping rainstorms across New York. Speedometer slowly crept down: 75... 65... 55.. 45... yeah, that's a safe speed for these conditions. I knew there was a car ahead of me due to seeing the taillights; I figure if they went into the ditch, I'd have... well.. no real warning.

Crossing the border went mostly without incident; I ended up heading across at Queenston-Lewiston, north of Buffalo (my old boss’ recommendation—his home town in Toronto, and he crosses that border all the time). Went over at around 11 PM on Friday night--not much of a line; getting interrogated by the customs and immigration agents was a little bit unnerving, but they didn’t search my car or anything.

One thing that I found amusing: they are geared up pretty solidly—external body armor, all black uniforms, duty belts. But one of the items on the duty belts was a pouch that holds their customs stamp. Yes, I know, this makes a lot of sense (considering how often they use it, and how they need to keep it secure), but it seems a bit incongruous among cuffs, mace, folding baton, radio, CPR shield, etc. But I just get this mental image of these guys have customs stamp quick-draw contests in the locker room.

During the drive, I got a call from the moving company—they could actually offload my stuff from the truck on Saturday (tomorrow), instead of having to wait through the weekend. This was great—it meant I only ended up spending 48 hours without my stuff. However, it also means I would have to get to the airport customs warehouse by 10 AM tomorrow. I decided to make a shorter drive of it—head straight to the airport and grab a hotel there, instead of driving to my new home and driving back out (~1 hour) in the morning. Ended up working on great—definitely worth $109 Canadian to me to get a decent night of sleep after a drive like that.


Camping in my living room

I'm standing in my living room with my laptop writing this entry. Wow... when you remove all the carpeting and furniture from a room, it's really echo-ey. All the boxes are gone; I'm leaving my hand-me-down sofabed behind. The fishtank is purring away in the corner; have a few things left in my room. But of course, I didn't pack up my wireless hub/router--there are some essentials a person really can't do without. Man cannot live on dialup alone.

Anyway, with the few things I have left, cooking and eating has become an interesting but entertaining challenge. Although my entire kitchen is packed up (including the sexy new knives I got as a going-away present--Shun six-piece set--another story), I have my camping cooking set. So it means that in the morning, the camping cup gets used for orange juice, then cereal, then coffee.

I am working on the "fridge points bonus round"--finishing off the stuff in my pantry in new and creative ways. Yesterday's lunch was leftover onions and peppers sauteed (in my folding-handle fry pan) with Parks breakfast sausage on a pita, topped with Chinese chili garlic sauce. Not too bad, actually. Now what am I going to do with capers, cocktail sauce, ramen noodles, and veggie pucks?

I'm a bit worried about whether my roommate will have anything left in the kitchen after I leave. When I take off, he won't have enough things to eat a bowl of cereal or heat up soup (unless, of course, he opens the lid, removes the label, and fires it up on the stovetop in the can). Well... Kitchen Etc is having a going out of business sale, at least.


First Test Post

Oh no... yet another of your friends has started writing a blog.

I figured that since I was up moving to Canada, I could occasionally post entertaining stories (if any) or odd events for folks to read, and to keep in touch over long distance. Hmmm... basically, I guess this means I'm lazy enough not to want to answer the conversational question, "So what's new with you?"

Anyway, the movers came this morning, and moved everything out of my place in about three hours. It went incredibly smoothly--I was quite surprised. There were just two of them, and one of them was spending half the time doing inventory and marking. It didn't hurt, though, that the other guy was a 6'10" tall former Romanian volleyball player. It was pretty impressive to watch--there's furniture that I can barely get my arms around, that he just can grab like a milk crate and carry down the stairs.

I was thinking of calling this post "move successful," but maybe that's premature. Move-out was successful; there's still travelling to Canada, getting across the border, getting my stuff out of the customs warehouse, and unloading/unpacking. Also, there's the off chance that the whole "moving company" was an extremely elaborate front to steal my stuff . (Hey--at least I won't have to pack it all again).

BTW--no guarantees on how regularly I will be posting; this blog is pretty much started on a whim. We'll see.