Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Settling In

We have all the important stuff set up: computers, printer, internet. The necessities of life. Everything else is still a disaster. I keep looking at the piles of bins. And then our dinky closets. And back at the piles of bins. Then I sit down with a big glass of ice tea and play on the internet. Rinse and repeat.

I did manage to accomplish one thing yesterday: The dreaded trip to the DMV:

The new blogger is attempting some fancy formatting. This may take a couple tries. Anyway, it wasn't quite that bad other than the list of documents required to prove who I am. Florida tries to blame the Feds, but that's a load of crap: I've gotten drivers licenses in two other states since the post-9/11 regs and didn't need to bring a foot-thick pile of documents to the DMV in order to prove my identity. But it's done; I have a shiny new Florida drivers license and matching plate for my car. We were going to get one with baby sea turtles on it, but not for an extra $28 a year. They're cute, but not that cute.

What I love about Florida is how complicated becoming a resident is. I'm sure almost no one does it. Just because you have a Florida license plate, Florida drivers license, work in Florida, pay taxes in Florida, and live in Florida, you are not a Florida resident. In order to be a resident, you have to file a sworn statement at the county clerk's office. Failure to do so is legally actionable, but rarely happens unless you're famous and some petty local bureaucrat gets their nickers in a twist.

Today's task list is laundry, filing, and attempting to empty more bins. One big hold up right now is that we have all the bins piled up in the spare bedroom which is also where the bookcase goes. I need the bookcase set up so I can empty some bins, but I can't do that until the bins are empty to make room for the bookcase. It's like a Zen riddle. Or bad planning.

Well, I should probably get at it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back Online

I finally have both computers set up and connected to the internet. With Brighthouse Networks, that is not a DIY project; you have to call them and have the modem remotely reset whenever the equipment connected to the modem is changed. No one told us that when it was installed, so when I tried to set up our network, the internet failed. No big, except that we didn't have a phone number for Brighthouse. When we signed the lease on the apartment, we were given a local number to get a special deal for residents of the complex. That number is just some guy's personal cell phone. None of the other paperwork we had from the installation had a phone number of any kind. And no internet access to look it up, because the reason we needed the number was to get the internet working again. Last night, we spotted a Brighthouse van on the road and chased it down. No phone numbers there either; just a web site. Sorry, but that's just stupid. If someone sees the van and wants information about getting internet access, they have to have internet access through someone else to get it? Or maybe they're supposed to head on down to the public library to look up the phone number on the Brighthouse web site? Ten digits and two dashes cost so much that you just can't put them on your vehicles? Not too bright, Brighthouse. We finally found a brochure in the office here in the complex that gave a phone number in the fine print on the very last page. These people want to make it as difficult as possible to contact them if you don't already have internet access. But the bottom line is that we have internet and all is well.

Now I just have to go schlepping around the internet to figure out what's wrong with the ATI Radeon card in our main PC. Again. Sure wish I had the money for a real video card....

And a quick check for driver updates fixed everything. Woohoo!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

He's Here!

and the Penske truck is completely unloaded already --- thanks to a neighbor that was also moving in and offered to help Ric unload!

We now feel like mice in a maze --- but it is all in the apartment and tomorrow we can start figuring things out. Some things will stay packed (Precious Moments) and store in a climate controlled storage unit. The ineptness (is that a word?!) around this apartment complex is not worth the price. We will do our year and find someplace else. Hopefully a local move next time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On his way!

Woo hoo ... Ric is on his way back to Florida with the rest of our stuff.

Hopefully tomorrow morning he will get another early start and miss most (or at least some) of the Capital Beltway traffic. (Between Baltimore and DC areas)

He should be pulling in Friday late afternoon, we will unload some after I get home from work and finish unloading on Saturday. The Penske truck is due back Sunday 7am.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rain, rain

Go Away!

Ric has had a full day of rain today, and more forecasted for the next two days also. (100% today, 90% Monday and down to 40% Tuesday) Of course, it is since he is due to load the Penske truck with all of our other belongings Monday and Tuesday.

This whole week (or should I say month or season or ...) in the Lake Mary/Sanford Florida area we have thunderstorms. The last two days it has hit bad around 4p and lasts for 2-3 hrs.

So, knowing Ric's luck ... he will pull into our new apartment complex on Friday at 430p during the thunderstorm. At least our forecast is only 40% chance.

Suggestions for Florida living ?????

We have possession of our new apartment in the Lake Mary/Sanford Florida area. We were not too impressed/happy with the cleaning job their offsite company did. Ric did most of the cleaning yesterday -- kitchen and the master bathroom and broomed the ceiling and top of the walls down. I concentrated on getting the black mold/mildew off the inside of the toilet tank/tank top. GROSS!!!! Thank goodness for Spic and Span. I will get Ric to download some pictures after he gets back and has time. I'm glad this apartment had new carpeting/kitchen cabinets and range put in. I would have hated to see what it looked like before those things.

For those used to Florida (and such areas) --- any suggestions on truly getting rid of the black mold/mildew and keeping it away? We have some in the shower stall in the master bath too. Ric said the incompetent people here put new caulk over it. You can still see it which grosses me out. Also suggestions about being in Florida and keeping the bugs away, trying to keep cool, keeping the apt cool without having a high air conditioning bill, etc would be helpful.

Well, I should get back to cleaning. I'm still working on the second bathroom and want to figure out an easy way (if any exists !) of cleaning all the blinds.

Ric left on a jet plane

and will be back sometime Friday afternoon/evening again......

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Doubts (Mostly) Removed

Today should clear out most, if not all, the if's and maybe's that have dominated our life over the last several months. Debbie is in her third day at her new job, we will sign the lease papers for our apartment this afternoon (we decided to save money and stick with the 2 bedroom that was on special), tomorrow I start the process of switching everything over to our new address, and on Sunday, Debbie takes me to the airport for the flight back to New Hampshire. If everything goes according to plan, I'll start the drive down to Florida on Wednesday, arrive on Friday and get everything dumped into the apartment over the weekend. While I'm gone, the apartment will be more like a monk's cell than a typical living space, but it's only for a week and will save us the cost of a second week in the extended stay hotel we are currently camped out in.

In short: We have A Plan. At least until the next bump in the road blows holes in it. We will both be very glad when August 2010 is over.

In other news, having solved all the other problems in the world, we are now trying to imprison fire-breathing bartenders as terrorists. I know I wake up in a cold sweat every night thinking of the danger to our civilization posed by bartenders performing a millennia-old parlor trick. The evil bastards.

Pelosi once again calls for the investigation of anyone who questions The One. Kings used to recognize the usefulness of the court jester as a check to their egos. The fact that the current occupant of our Imperial City seems unable to endure the slightest disagreement probably says a great deal about him. So does the recent fracas in California where people's driveways were roped off, roads closed, and even walking was disallowed due to a Royal Visit. If there was ever any doubt, the subjects of California now have a crystal clear notion of where they stand in relation to the current White House occupant.

While the flow of oil into the Gulf has stopped, problems continue to plague the final shut-down of the well. I'm certainly no expert on stopping up an out-of-control oil well located under a mile of ocean, but it seems all the half-measures to make it look like BP was "doing something" while the relief well was being drilled have just made things worse.

Japan has long used its large number of centenarians as proof of its superior diet and culture. Now it turns out most of those people are dead, some for decades. The primary factor seems to be pension fraud combined with just not caring when Grandpa wanders away from home and never comes back. I love the sound popular myths make when they explode.

One of the primary features of a modern economy is a central bank; the Federal Reserve here in the United States. Is the Fed, and with it the concept of central banking, in decline? Like many of the things of recent vintage that we in the West like to assume have always been and will always be, the Fed is a recent innovation with no guarantee of being a permanent institution.

Well, I'm off to try to find where I can watch the new episodes of The Guild. MSN is supposed to have them, but they are doing a good job of hiding them. Bing simply dumps me back to The Guild's website where the blog informs me that the new episodes are available on MSN and Bing. I must be stupid or something. They are showing up slowly on The Guild website; episode one of season four is there to watch, but not two, three, four and five. Are the creators of the show forbidden from even linking to their own content? Holy crap; I finally managed to find them, but it wasn't anything like obvious how to get there from MSN's main page, nor is it obvious to me why Bing seems to be completely unaware of videos linked by www.bing.com. This is exactly why Google has nothing to fear from Redmond. Holy. Crap.

And thanks to all the readers of The Archdruid Report for making August 17, 2010 one of the busiest days this blog has seen in a long time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thoughts on a Road Trip

While I play hurry-up-and-wait for phone calls regarding apartments and car repairs (the brakes failed on the way to Florida; good times) and Debbie works her first day at her new job, I thought I would jot down some things that struck me as we drove through various parts of 16 states over the last three weeks or so. This will not be a happy post. I know; shocking.

Michigan is a basket case. Northern Michigan is empty houses, empty businesses, failing businesses, and roads lined with stuff for sale. Anyone with cash to burn can pick up deals on any kind of automobile, boat, motor home, mud truck, travel trailer, dune buggy, dirt bike or home-furnishing that your heart could possibly desire. When we left the state, we took US 23 south past Detroit and into Ohio during peak rush hour. Except there wasn't one. In a past life, I drove that same road from Flint to Domino Farms and back every day, and it was bumper-to-bumper most of the way. This time, we blew through without even taking the cruise off 70 mph. We didn't go into either our birth-town of Flint or anywhere near Detroit on this trip; from what we heard from family, there isn't much left to see. Flint is well on its way to becoming a ghost town with nearly all the former auto factories not just abandoned, but torn down and even the roads renamed to erase all evidence anything was ever there. I seriously doubt there will be a V-shaped recovery in Genesee County. As for Detroit, from what we could gather from talking to family who live in the area, there are still pockets of relative prosperity floating in a sea of poverty and empty neighborhoods.

We didn't see anything like a representative sample of the states we drove through from New Hampshire to Michigan and back, but based on the condition of the roads, I'm guessing they are having serious economic problems as well. Snow plowing, road salt and frost all do a number on paving, so any disruption in road maintenance becomes quickly apparent. None of the roads we used could be safely driven at posted speeds. We did see a lot of stimulus projects, but they seemed to mostly involve putting up guard rails where none have ever been needed before, and erecting huge, elaborately decorated concrete sound barriers along the deteriorating pavement. I guess that's so you have something pretty to look at while your car careens off the new guard rails after hitting a pothole at 65 mph.

New Hampshire itself in some ways seems to have escaped the worst of the current troubles. We're leaving mainly to get closer to family and to escape the cold and insane cost of living; it takes most of one of our incomes just to pay rent on an unremarkable two-bedroom apartment. But it seems like there are still a relative abundance of jobs, many involving the actual building of things. The infrastructure is primitive compared to other areas of the country, but that now looks like a wise move as other states are forced to watch much that they built over the last 20 or 30 years crumble. Still, when we told our landlord we were breaking our lease, we discovered we weren't alone; out of the 90 occupied apartments, 10 will be empty by the end of August. But the landlord isn't expecting them to stay that way for long as she anticipates there will be a rush of people moving in after abandoning their homes that didn't sell over the summer. Would that be optimistic pessimism or pessimistic optimism? Either way, we sort of feel like jerks hoping she's right so we don't have to pay out the balance of our lease.

The second leg of the trip took us down most of the east coast along the I-91/I-95 corridor. Again, the condition of the road ranged from bad to abominable until we got into the deep south. I don't know if the improvement as we went south through the Carolina's, Georgia and into Florida was due to better maintenance or simply lack of the winter assaults that roads in the north must endure, but it was a pleasant change to be able to relax the death grip on the steering wheel and chill into some old-school highway motoring. The beginning of the trip was unremarkable with what has come to feel like a "normal" (amazing how fast that word changes meaning) number of empty shopping malls and office parks abandoned mid-way through construction, along with endless billboards advertising for law firms that specialize in bankruptcy or suing for real or imagined harm caused by various deep pockets. That is, until we happened upon Washington DC, the Imperial City of America. We sat in total gridlock, making a whopping 100 miles in three hours on the road. The primary cause was the expenditure of stimulus dollars on road construction; doubling the width of the interstate as well as the addition of huge, arching bridges that currently go nowhere, but I assume will all be tied together to make it easier for subjects to pay tribute at the gates of the presidential palace citizens to view their elected officials doing the will of the people. The secondary cause was a five-car pile-up that happened directly beneath a large sign warning everyone to drive nice because "aggressive driving detection" was in use. We didn't see the accident happen, but from the aftermath, it was obvious that there was either some pretty aggressive driving going on, or a physics experiment to see if multiple objects can occupy the same space.

From there on, the conditions visible along the sides of the interstate deteriorated even as the road surface itself improved. The deep south seems that have gotten creamed pretty good, and Florida is nearly as big an economic disaster as Michigan. The difference is Michigan had a thirty-year head start, never having recovered from the last big economic leg down (the movie to see is Moore's Roger and Me). We are seriously questioning our decision about coming here even though Debbie already has a job. Will her job last? What happens to Florida in a double-dip recession? Will I be able to find a permanent job or will I continue with my series of temporary and/or part-time jobs? Unlike Michigan, the people here in Florida don't seem as willing (yet) to abandon the state, which could prove to be bad in the short term by keeping the ratio of job-seekers to jobs high, but good in the longer term. Of course in the very long term, more people means nothing but problems when we begin the tumble down the backside of Huppert's Peak in earnest.

In any case, we are here for better or for worse. Debbie is here to stay, but I get to fly back to New Hampshire and recover our Stuff from our old apartment. We figured we have to pay rent on the apartment there anyway, so why bring our Stuff down here and pay to store it somewhere while we find a new apartment. Of course, it looks like we may get into an apartment more quickly than expected because we were planning otherwise, but that just means we move out of the hotel sooner. The apartment will be mostly empty for the first week or so, but we can make it livable for Debbie while I go get the Stuff. Now I just have to find someone with a strong back and a weak mind to help haul the heavy Stuff out to the moving van. We scored a ground-floor apartment here, so the two of us should have no trouble getting everything from the truck into the apartment, but I don't think I can wrangle everything down the stairs in New Hampshire without a bit of assistance.

Given that I've already rambled on for a fair bit, I'll spare all two of our regular readers my usual link-fest. Except this bit on what a double-dip recession would look like. I've been saying it for ten years and it is more necessary now than ever; be the rodent, not the dinosaur. Get fast. Get small.

Take care.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

We are here

Today we finished up driving thru South Carolina, thru Georgia and then into Florida.

We are trying to unpack some things at our short term home -- Homestead Suites in Lake Mary. Tomorrow we go see about our first choice apartment from the last time we were here looking at apartments. They have a 3 bedroom apartment that came open around Wednesday when I happen to call down and ask! Bad news is it is not on any type of "move in special" -- it is normally about $160/mt more than the two bedroom. With the "move in special" for the two bedroom it is closer to $200-240 more. I don't think it will be worth it, but we will see.

I got a call Friday at 555p from my new boss --- first thing she said after saying Hi, was the training schedule was being changed. Of course, being all the way to Florence SC; my first thought was "Oh great -- she is moving it to October" Good news, the only thing she was changing was the time. I will be working 9a-6p M-F instead of 10a-7p for probably the first two weeks.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Four More States

Today we finished up Maryland, drove completely through Virginia and North Carolina, and stopped just inside South Carolina. The day didn't start out good; it took us over three hours to cover the first hundred miles. At least we got a good look at all the tax money being spent on crazy-huge road projects all around the Imperial City while the expressways in every state we've driven through in the last month are getting so bad that it is no longer safe to drive the posted speed limits.

More when we land at our temporary home tomorrow.


Yep, it is that feared day once again.

FRIDAY THE 13TH!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

6 States

We left the apartment in New Hampshire at 8am to start the drive down the "truck route" to Florida. We stopped for the night in Columbia Maryland (great special rate at the Courtyard by Marriott -- over $110 off the rate!). We drove in 6 states just today -- love those small New England states! We would have done 7 if we would have jogged over to Vermont to pick up 91 like the trip tik and GPS wanted us to. We drove through New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and are still in Maryland. The most expensive state we drove through was of course the smallest one. The toll to cross the Delaware Memorial Bridge was $3/car and then another $4 to get out of Delaware.

We hit the major rain in Delaware and Maryland. Luckily (listening to the news) we didn't get further south today where they had problems with flooding and trees down. Today might be an interesting drive .... I'm sure we will let you know in the next post.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Up North

We are currently in that mysterious place in Michigan known as "Up North". A hotel room in Petosky, to be a bit more precise. Yesterday was Debbie's family reunion, today is her niece's graduation open house and tomorrow starts The Big Drive: two days to get from here to Swanzey, New Hampshire; a day to grab just what we absolutely have to have; three days to scope out a route to Lake Mary, Florida and set up in an extended stay hotel; a day to do more apartment shopping. Then Monday the 16th is Debbie's first day of work at her new job. While she works, I'll be doing more apartment shopping which we hope to wrap up in a week or so, then I fly back to Swanzey, New Hampshire, pay some homeless guy in beer to help load the moving truck and re-drive the previously scoped route to Lake Mary, Florida. The plan features the phrase "...and then a miracle occurs" at several points. So. Yeah.

Being without an internet connection means I have no idea what is going on in the world right now. I assume the Apocalypse hasn't happened given that I can still get Diet Coke on demand. I did catch part of a supposedly serious news segment on Living Without Air Conditioning. No one I knew had AC in their house when I was growing up. Now not having it gets you an interview on the news. We are so screwed.

That's it for now. Expect more of the less posting for the rest of the month.