31 July 2008

Did I repay bad karma or earn good karma?

Well, that was one of the most unexpectedly hard days I've endured in a long
long time.

Everything was fine until the movers showed up shortly after 12.30. One of
them has a daughter whose grandmother usually picks her up from day care.
Today, apparently, grandma couldn't leave work early, so the mover informed
me that he'd have to leave by 4.30. We expected we'd be done by then
anyway, so it didn't seem like a huge problem.

Loading the truck was the easier part of the move. Going from our apartment
to the truck is a straight shot out our front door, down the stairs, through
a courtyard, and onto the street. Easy peasy. Knowing this, you'll
understand my anxiety when, two hours later (2.30pm), we're still not quite
finished loading the truck. About this time, our lead mover tells me that
our stuff will require two trips in the truck.

So, it's 2.30, the movers are not quite finishing the EASY part of the move,
and they both have to leave at 4.30. At this point, we decide that we need
more help. Once the movers are done loading the truck, I drove with one
mover to the condo to begin unloading while Sarah and the other mover went
to pick up some other guys who could help us with the move.

When we started to unload the truck, our strategy was to get everything out
of the truck and onto the lawn. Once the truck was empty, some people could
haul boxes up the stairs (up to the third floor, via three stairwells, and
down a hall) while a couple people would head back to the apartment with me
for the last few items. It was at this point that I realized that if I
didn't pitch in in a big way, we'd be doing this all night. One mover and I
started unloading the truck, and when Sarah, the other mover, and our two
additional hands showed (their negotiated rate: $40 apiece to unload the
truck as part of the team) I continued to unload and monitor the stuff on
the lawn while Sarah directed the movers as they brought stuff into the

This went on for a while until 4.30 came. By this point, the truck had just
been completely unloaded, and the front lawn of the condo was littered with
boxes of our stuff. The original movers had to go. As they were wrapping
up, I discovered that our new hands did not realize that there would be a
second trip in the truck. They asked for more money, which seemed fair to
me: $50 each.

The original movers left (taking a few packing blankets with them - if UHaul
charges me, I'm going to charge the movers), and Sarah came down to monitor
the stuff on the lawn. Our two new hands and I proceeded to haul everything
up the stairs into the condo. When the hands got upstairs, they would put
stuff in the middle of the living room, and when I got upstairs, I would
sort my haul and their most recent haul into the right rooms. Once the
front lawn was empty, the hands and I went back to the apartment for the
last few things. Sarah stayed behind to sort a bit and unpack a bit. On
the way back to the apartment, the hands, who had been told that the other
movers were leaving at 4.30, and I agreed on a higher fee: $60 each.

Back at the apartment, we grabbed the last few things (couch, table, chairs,
bikes), and zipped back to the condo. This time, since Sarah was upstairs
moving things around, I had to stay downstairs with the truck and couldn't
haul. Thank heaven for little miracles. After we were all done, I paid the
hands their $60, dropped them off, gassed up the truck, returned the truck,
picked up the Prius (at the Uhaul place), drove to the Jeep, swapped the
Prius for the Jeep, and drove the Jeep to the condo, where Sarah and I
unloaded a few boxes that we had put in the jeep.

Then, I drank a lot of water, took a shower, and unpacked just a bit. Sarah
did the same. As I type, we're waiting for some friends of Sarah's who are
coming to join us for dinner.

All in all, it was a much harder day than I had expected. I thought the
truck would be the right size, I thought that we would be able to get it all
done in four hours with two movers and my not helping (an estimate I formed
from talking to the movers), and I thought that my movers would stay until
the job was done. Instead, the truck was too small, the move took longer
than I thought, I got all hot and sweaty with the movers, and the two people
who ended the day with us were not the two people who started the day with
us. And it cost me $120 more than I thought it would.

A note on the truck. The last time we rented a truck ourselves (moving from
NYC to New Haven), it was a 17-footer, just like this one. Since our stuff
fit last time, I assumed it would fit this time. Of course, the fact that
it didn't means that somewhere along the line, I screwed up my estimate.
There are two big things that I forgot: the boxes that were in storage (in
MO and VA) during that ealier move were part of this move, and there were
three large items that we moved this time that were not included in the
other move (the couch, the TV, and the dresser). As I watched how much
space the second load took up on the truck, it occurred to me that that
amount of space was roughly equal to the sum of the volumes of the couch,
the TV, the dresser, and the boxes from MO and VA. Ugh.

Soon it will be dinner time. It's 8.50pm here, and we have't eaten since
breakfast at 9am.

I am hungry!

I was wrong.

The truck is not big enough. We'll have to do a second trip. Also, one of our movers is having a slight family problem and can't stay late. Not sure what the deal is.


The movers are here, hauling boxes. Jason and Aaron are their names. This is their second move today. Yikes!

Too big, or not too big?

That is the question. I picked up a 17' moving truck from U-Haul, and when I got home, Sarah remarked that the truck is smaller than she thought it would be. She wonders if we won't have enough truck space for all of our stuff. I think we'll be fine, because even though the boxes in the apartment take up more floor space than is in the truck, we can pile much higher in the truck than we can in the apartment. It doesn't really matter, though, since even if the truck is too small, we'll still be able to get the lion's share of the move done in the truck. If we have to move a handful of boxes in the jeep, it won't be the end of the world.

So, the truck is parked out front, the movers are due within the next 60 minutes, and I'm working on my UCI faculty review. Woo!

moving day!

We are almost completely packed, except for the things we need in the last hours before the move. Sarah and I are going to get some breakfast, pack up the last minute things, pick up the truck, and hopefully be ready to rumble by the time the movers get here. Depending on how things go, I may or may not be able to blog during the move itself.

Tonight, once the movers are gone, our friends Ed & Emily are coming for a quick visit. We'll show them the condo and head to dinner for a bite.

29 July 2008

Quake update #3

The buzz seems to have died down. Most of the earthquake experts are calling today's quake
mild to moderate, and they're advising us that we should use it as a reminder to prepare an emergency preparedness kit. Not a bad idea. We'll do that... once we're finished moving.

By the time I was driving home from the U, public radio had shifted back to discussing the far more catastrophic natural disaster - the wildfires in northern CA.

Quake update #2

Downgraded to 5.4. Dozens of aftershocks. 5% chance that this is a foreshock to a bigger quake. If no bigger quake hits by tonight, that percentage drops to 1%.

Good news: no injuries or major damage reported.

Quake update

The US Geological Service says the quake was 5.8, centered east of LA, and about 7 miles below the surface. The new is reporting that the tremors lasted about 15 seconds, which is about what I experienced. There are reports of three aftershocks, but they were all light and distant.

The quake was felt as far south as San Diego and as far east as Vegas.


Just a few minutes ago, we got a nice-sized quake. LATimes.com is saying that it was a 5.6. I was packing up boxes in the kitchen, and Sarah was about to get in the shower. She thought I had dropped something, and I thought a car had run into our apartment building. As soon as I realized what was happening, I remembered what to do and found a doorway to stand in. Sarah had already found one.

Once the tremors died down, I checked in with the neighbors and then started checking online. I tried calling my dad, but the phone lines are down (guess everyone's calling each other). LATimes.com is very sluggish, but Sarah was able to get a little bit of information.

After the quakes in Japan, these quakes weren't entirely unexpected, but it was still a surprise! My first quake! Glad it wasn't worse.

More later, as needed.

27 July 2008


Last week, after much wrangling, wringing of hands, and (w)rending of garments, we finally closed on our condo. It a great unit in an up-and-coming part of town. We're very excited to have gotten it all settled, even if it did take longer than we expected. We had our third 'final walk-through' on Thursday and, everything being done, we paid our down payment and had our mortgage bank (Wells Fargo, one of the few banks who seems to be surviving this housing crisis) fund the rest of the loan. Our agent dropped off the keys and garage remote on Friday.

On Saturday, I went to the hardware store and we began to paint. We've both been looking forward to painting a place that we can call our own, since neither of us have lived in the same apartment for more than two years since high school (and then, the 'apartment' was a room in our parents' houses). We picked some bold colors: a sage, a blue, a chocolate brown, a yellow, and an orange. Mmmm.

Today, we met some friends for brunch, bought some moving boxes, and continued to paint. Here's a photo of one of the living room walls, mid-paint. We're almost done... just a few touch-ups left to do. Now, it's time to get cracking on the packing. We've hired a moving truck for Thursday, so the bulk of our stuff will need to be packed by then. That way, hopefully we can be more or less moved in by the time my folks arrive for their visit.

You know, now that I think about it, when Sarah and I moved to CT three years ago, my folks came for a visit just a few days after that move as well! Interesting coincidence.

21 July 2008

Hey non-crackers - you're not a good representative of America!

Some Fox News idiot has decided that only blue-eyed blondes are good representatives of our country. Check it out here.

So sorry, Howard Bach, Bob Malaythong, and Raju Rai. You've never heard of them, but they are the ENTIRE men's Badminton team. And none of them are blue-eyed blondes. Guess they're not good ambassadors. Thanks, Fox News!

20 July 2008

Game Night

We had a lovely game night last night. The Michaels, Chris, Rachel, and Aga (briefly) came over for a few hours. There were homemade mojitos, some dip, pesto, butterscotch bars, cookies, and various other food and drinkstuffs to be had. We played Catchphrase, Encore, 25 Words or Less, and Guitar Hero. It was a nice night, and the weather cooperated by being reasonably cool.

TheDailyGreen.com has an interesting article on the top ten most walkable cities in the US. Interestingly (and surprisingly), both Long Beach and Los Angeles are both on the list! I'm not sure how that happened, since both cities are in so-cal, which is car-dependent, except that despite how car-dependent the region is, both cities are very neighborhoody, which promotes walking.

So, there you go. We live in a walk-able city. Just don't go looking at our gas bill... Actually, our fuel bill is reasonable, and will continue to be reasonable until we're both working and need both cars...

17 July 2008

A tasty and easy meal

We had some food that we needed to go through, so I punted and created a great and easy italian dish. You can too! Here's how:

Pasta with Hearty Pork Sauce

1 lb of boneless pork, in a large chunk
1 jar tomato sauce
1 red onion
6 green onions
5 cloves of garlic
6 sun-dried tomatoes
2/3 cup dried mushrooms
bit of olive oil, salt, pepper
hard italian cheese

Dash the meat with salt and pepper (both sides) and let it sit for a bit. Chop the red onion into 16ths and slice the green onion into thin strips. Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into small bits and peel the garlic. Brown the pork in a pan (do not worry about cooking all the way through). Cut the pork into chunks just larger than bite-size. At this point, you can put the onions, tomatoes, garlic, and pork into a bowl in the fridge to save until later. Or, proceed to the next paragraph.

Place the onions, tomatoes, garlic, and pork in a slow-cooker. Cover with tomato sauce. Cook for 5-6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.

Prepare a pot to cook the pasta, and boil the mushrooms. When they're tender, add the pasta and cook. When the pasta is done, drain the entire pot and plate the pasta. Top with the meaty sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.

The sauce gets very hearty with the meat and veggies in it, and slow-cooking the pork will make it just fall apart in your fork! Mmmmmm!

12 July 2008

memo to self: write to Universal Studios Hollywood

Sarah and I were supposed to go to Universal Studios Hollywood today, but when she got up this morning, her back was a mess. We were to meet a friend, so I went ahead without her.

I had never been to any of the parks around here, and I have to say that I was a little disappointed today. To me, 'theme park' implies roller coasters and the like, but at USH, there was only one roller coaster, one splash ride, and one tilting-car ride. And, since it's a theme park, a LOT of retail. It was great to see Nikky, though, and I enjoyed wandering the park with her.

The one big disappointment was the all-you-can-eat pass. On the strong recommendation from a couple of Nikky's coworkers, we bought each bought the pass which, for $25, lets you eat (no beverages) all you can eat at six or so of the park's restaurants. We were advised that the food was so expensive that if you plan to eat two meals at the park (lunch and dinner), it was a good idea. However, once we bought the pass, we realized that there were a couple of other catches:
* For every restaurant that the pass covers, there were easily three that it didn't.
* Those extra restaurants had the more interesting food (mexican, bbq, etc.).
* At some of the restaurants that were covered, only a selection of the menu was available to the passholders. Greasy burgers, yes. Healthy club sandwiches, no.
* Unless you plan to eat an entree, a side, and a dessert at each meal, the pass is definitely not worth it. A burger was $8.50, but it comes with fries, and if you just eat two of them, you're only out $17.
* The not-including-beverages thing was a big disappointment.

All in all, I think that USH is a great place to take out-of-towners and people who would be impressed with a backstage tour, but only if you buy your food a la carte.

10 July 2008

Kids these days

Well, I hate to draw attention to the fact that I'm not 19 anymore, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Today's teens get a lot of crap about how their whiny, demanding, and full of entitlement. It's hard, sometimes, for them to get credit for anything positive at all. The media tries to make it look like all teens are lazy, good-for-nothing, no-good-niks (all right already!). Frankly, I'm disgusted with the whole thing. Our teens have great potential, and they're already showing it by demonstrating outstanding virility! For the first time in 15 years, teen fertility and virility is on the rise! They are getting pregnant more often than at any time since 1993! And not only are they more fertile & virile, but they're using their potency to get pregnant. How wonderful that all of these teens are mature enough to have babies! I certainly wasn't when I was their age, and it makes me feel proud of America to know that today's teens are more ready to be parents than I was when I was their age.


08 July 2008

fireworks and a cold

It's been a while since I last posted, so I thought it's about time for an update.

Sarah and I had a great 4th of July at our friend Lori's. She had some people over for a cookout, and then we all went down to the beach to watch the fireworks. Highlights of the afternoon
were the italian sausages, the amazing tomato salad, or the great rounds of Apples to Apples. Lowlight of the day was me catching a cold that stayed with me for a few days.

On Saturday, I tried to convince myself that I wasn't ill. I went into the U, hit the gym, but by the time I got home that night, I was definitely feeling bad.

Sunday was miserable. Sarah mocked me mercilessly (MERCILESSLY) as my nose continued to leak and leak. I killed two boxes of tissues.

Yesterday was slightly better in the morning, but got to be pretty good by the evening. Some of the clown folk from Italy got together for a small dinner party. Michael and Holly hosted, and they grilled all sorts of great food: oysters, potatoes, peppers, fish, tomatoes. Mmm. We brought some great bread, Jaymi brought cheeses, and Eli brought dessert. By the time we left the party, I was feeling better (but maybe it was the grappa).

When I get sick, the day that I look forward to most is not the day when I'm 100% better, but the day when I'm 90% better. That day is today. My body is almost completely better (stuffy nose), but I'm tired from being ill. That exhaustion, combined with the knowledge that the worst of the illness is behind me, feels great. I checked out a Room and Board showroom before heading over to a meeting at South Coast Rep. After the meeting, I went to the U, talked to my mom for an hour, and settled in for an afternoon of working. This fall, I will undergo a review at the U, so I need to spend some time preparing a comprehensive dossier. Most of this afternoon is spent going through old files and collecting the data that I'll need to make that dossier. In fact, the reason that I'm writing now is that both of my optical drives are copying data from DVDs to my hard drive. That's almost done, so it's time to get back to work!

Oh, and FB count: 407

02 July 2008

The silver lining.

Time.com has a great piece on 10 benefits of $4 (or $4.60 in LBC) gas. Check it out here.

my friend Luke

After a protracted interview and review process, I am delighted that I'm able to officially say that my friend and colleague, Luke Hegel-Cantarella, will be joining us at UCI as the head of scenic design! I'm very much looking forward to working with Luke, and I know that he'll be a great department-mate.

And if you're counting FB friends, I'm at 279.