alexist: (Default)
2009-06-19 10:12 am


I have 2 invite codes; let me know if you want them...

(though I'm still posting here, from laziness ;) )
alexist: (Default)
2009-06-16 03:57 pm
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Various & sundry

I'm up at my parents' for a few days. It took me 7 hours to get here. They closed a lane of I-78 and it took me over an hour to go 7 miles (there are mile markers). Then I ended up at the Holland Tunnel, had to get uptown, and it all meant I didn't hit the Midtown Tunnel till 3pm. Ugh. I was so tired I didn't notice I was in a cash only lane and got stopped by a toll taker. I apologized profusely. (I've gotten used to roads where all lanes take EZ-Pass.)

Today I had a doctor's appointment. It would seem that I have managed to lose 35 lbs over the past 8 months, including 10 in the past 6 weeks. Wow.
alexist: (Default)
2009-06-09 03:31 pm
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Sundry and various

It has rained here for most of the past 2 weeks. Except, oddly, the weekends. We got a total of 7" in May and 1.6" so far in June. When it hasn't been raining, it's been humid. Yuck.

We took Aliza to the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, which was a hit (though, McDonalds sponsorship in one exhbit, tut tut). She was a little young for a couple of things, but she had a great time playing with everything--especially the walking piano and the drum set. Unfortunately my camera flash decided not to work, so no pictures. Afterwards we went for Italian food. Aliza was well behaved (though she got out of her chair and stood in the corner behind our table) until she took a mouthful of Neil's pasta, which had crushed red pepper in it. I had to take her for a walk to calm her down.

She's also finally found another fruit she likes, besides bananas. She now loves blueberries. She wasn't sure what to do with strawberries. If we get a run of sunny weather (I hope, I hope) I'll take her to the strawberry U-Pick and see if I can get her interested.
alexist: (food!)
2009-06-04 07:19 pm
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Tonight's dinner

Sans bacon, and I used a bit more onion and garlic in the cooking, and beef stock instead of veal (because that's what I had). Also, the sauce does need to be boiled down, although I knew (from comments) that it needed to be thickened with a roux as well (which I did). I used 3 Tb flour to 3 Tb oil, to err on the safe side--as predicted, not enough, though I wouldn't want to be over-reliant on a starch thickener.

If you make it, braise the beef the day before, and refrigerate it, so you can remove the fat. Then all you have to do is make the vegetables. I served it with egg noodles, but potatoes would also be good.

If you have a food processor, you can shorten the prep time to almost nothing by chopping the vegetables in it--they're going to cook to mush anyway so there's no need to cut them into tiny neat dice.

It was delicious--the meat was falling apart tender and the sauce was flavorful.
alexist: (Default)
2009-06-03 12:43 pm
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Got the estimate

$1500!!! FFS. It included 6.5 hours of labor, which is silly, but hey.

Submitted a claim. Oddly, it's a relief, mostly because it's so far over the deductible.
alexist: (Default)
2009-06-02 11:09 am
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Not the greatest morning

This morning, we headed to the DMV to get new licenses. This had involved minor drama. PA requires proof of residency (bills, etc). Further, it requires you to re-register your car within 21 days of moving to the state. Finally, in order to register your car in PA, you need a PA drivers license. Um.

Anyway, I got a Verizon bill yesterday, and along with our lease, that sufficed. Neil was a bit nervous as he didn't have a bill, but they accepted the letter from Pennsylvania Power & Light demanding ID since we'd never been customers before. I then re-registered my car and got PA plates.

Unfortunately, when I had to bring my car up (they needed to check the VIN against the title) I hit a concrete planter and cracked the goddamn bumper. Honda bumpers are practically disposable. It's not worth submitting it to insurance (we have comprehensive, but it's a $500 deductible). I'm not happy. We've had so many expenses lately, and we still have more to come.
alexist: (Default)
2009-05-26 05:34 pm
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The saga of our damned Verizon set top box

A week after we got FiOS installed, we began to have problems with our upstairs set top box. It kept resetting itself. I called Verizon. After navigating my way through the prompts, I was told that the 7000 series has a known fault where it keeps resetting itself if the TV is plugged into the box (daisy chain style) rather than into the wall. I fixed it.

Still kept happening. I called again. This time they remotely reset the box.

Still happened. I called AGAIN, and they promised to send me a new box.

The next morning, I got a call from UPS. Verizon's fucking address problem meant that they couldn't deliver our box. I gave them the correct one. It didn't turn up.

Next day, Neil called Verizon. He sorted out our address, and got a tracking number. UPS' website claims it was rescheduled for delivery today. However, no tracking information later than Friday and there's something about them sending me a postcard to reschedule delivery. WTF?


I just called UPS and they claim it IS going to be delivered today by 7pm. Hmm. I'm suspicious.

ETA: Delivered! Somehow they put ZIP code 17575 on it. Which is not exactly local.
alexist: (Default)
2009-05-24 11:07 am
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1 (could be 2 but I think only 1) of the boxes of books I left in my parents' garage has gone missing.

I am now missing about 60 books :( End of the alphabet for trade paperbacks, beginning of the mass market paperbacks, several linguistics books, 3 cookbooks, and a couple of random hardcovers. I actually want many of these books, so they'll have to be replaced over time. The only silver lining is that Neil owns a few of the missing ones, so I don't have to replace those.

To make it even more fun, some of the books were cheap mass market paperbacks that I picked up used to begin with, but they're no longer published in those editions and I don't have a good used bookstore near me. With shipping, it may not make sense to even try to find them online. (I have Amazon Prime for anything I buy new, so the Amazon discount isn't eaten by shipping.)
alexist: (Default)
2009-05-21 11:04 pm
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Holy shit

I was discussing Caesarean recovery with some friends. blah blah blah, give my experience, "I don't know what exactly they put in the epidural for post-op pain, but apparently diamorphine is the standard, so I assume that's what I got."

Friend (CNM): "Dude. Diamorphine is heroin."

Um. No wonder I felt fantastic. That explains a LOT.
alexist: (Default)
2009-05-15 04:48 pm
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Verizon vs. the Post Office

According to the USPS, I live in Mechanicsburg, PA, 17050.

According to Verizon's automated address checker, I live in Silver Spring, PA, 17055.

Now, it is true that I do live in Silver Spring township. However, the USPS has decreed that the Mechanicsburg postal area covers this area, and further, Silver Spring is not listed as an acceptable city name for this ZIP. (You can reverse-search ZIPs and find the USPS-approved locales on the USPS website.)

I absolutely do not live in 17055 (which is an adjacent ZIP code, but some distance away).

It's baffling.
alexist: (Default)
2009-05-15 03:27 pm
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Pleasant and unpleasant surprises

1) I can drive to Baltimore in 1h15 if I time it right. This is better and more convenient than going to suburban Philadelphia to shop, though that has the King of Prussia mall. Kosher meat (and, OK, Whole Paycheck) are not available here so that's nice. Not that I'd want to do it too often (it is tiring) but it's nice to be able to. It is a shame that you can't get the train to Baltimore or DC, though. With the number of Baltimore commuters moving to York County, maybe they'll think about it. I can dream.

2) I-83 is really dull and consequently quite tiring to drive. The drivers are maniacs. I was doing 80 and getting passed on the outside. One guy came into a fairly small gap between me (left lane) and a tractor trailer (just behind me in the right), passed me, then passed someone else in the right--all at at least 90. He basically weaved in and out.
alexist: (Default)
2009-05-13 03:17 pm
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First, some minor explanation. As soon as we knew we were moving, we investigated cable vs. FiOS. FiOS won (principally because it carries the Yankees' YES network, plus the NFL network; Comcast has neither. I am married to a man of priorities.) We booked Verizon for an install on Friday. As a new customer I was asked to fax them ID; I did so.

On Friday, after moving in, Neil rang Verizon to confirm that they were coming. it turned out that the fax I had sent them hadn't been correctly connected to our order. Consequently, no install. The next available date was Wednesday. So, no phone, no TV, no Internet. Bah.

Side story: We do have basic cable (very basic) included in our rent. it uses a coax cable. We couldn't find a coax-to-component cable and resigned ourselves to no TV. However, on Tuesday, when Neil unpacked our new TV (more later), he discovered it does have coax input. He subsequently discovered our other TV does as well; he just missed it! We missed the season finale of House for no reason! Harrumph.

Anyway.... we drove down on Friday, but none of our belongings did. By the time they'd packed everything up, it was too late for the drivers to get to PA and back. We spent the night in a Holiday Inn. (We did get the grocery shopping done, though as always, I subsequently discovered various items we'd forgotten.)

New place, by the way, is a 3 bed, 2.5 bath townhouse with garage and basement, at a rent to make a New Yorker weep. Location isn't ideal from my perspective (suburban hell) but we were on a short timeframe and this was the nicest place we saw by far. I do mean suburban hell, by the way. The main street is basically lined with big box malls--the really awful kind where if you need 3 stores, you need to move your car every time. Bad enough on your own, horrible when it involves getting a toddler in and out of a carseat repeatedly.

Saturday was a haze of unpacking. We're still not done (32 boxes of books remain, but the shelves to hold them are as yet unassembled). Our garage is filled with boxes and packing paper. The garbage was picked up on Monday and we disposed of some of it, but i think it's going to take weeks to get rid of all of it. The packers did an excellent job (only breakages: a ceramic ramekin and the glass on one picture, and that was in 2 moves) but they used an obscene amount of paper.

Sunday, I had to go to Bed Bath & Beyond (again. My 3rd trip, I think, I've lost track. I believe I've had 4 trips total. Worst part is that if i'd realized how much stuff I needed I would have gotten it all in New York with Carly's 20% discount, but it was impossible to keep it all straight... I did get a new Dyson there for 20% off, but there was one annoying part. BB&B Farmingdale didn't have the DC25 Animal. They didn't even have shelf space for it. So, I assumed they didn't carry it, and got the DC25 All Floors. When I went to the one here, they had the Animal. Gah.) We keep finding things that were missing, that were thrown out because they were broken, that we didn't need before (we only ever had 1 bathroom before, for example), that were accidentally thrown out or sent to the charity shop (Neil confused the good glasses with the £1 IKEA glasses), etc.

As I was leaving, Neil phoned me from Target saying he'd spotted a great deal on a new TV, but didn't want to buy it until I'd seen it. As it happens, BB&B is in the same shopping center, and I ran into him on the way out, so we went back in. It was a 46" Sony Bravia LCD (in the top 3 in Consumer Reports, though I don't know if it was the same model) at a great price. It may be a discontinued line, or not the top series (damn my lack of internet to comparison shop) but it had the right features, looked great and it is a Bravia--not going to be a piece of crap. Neil decided to get it then and there. Hilarity with transport ensued. It seems that a 46" Bravia is just a little too wide for the back of Neil's (rental) car. On top of that, the backseat had previously been occupied by a new wheelie bin. We ended up swapping the contents (including Aliza + carseat) of both cars, and swapping drivers as well because transporting the bin in my trunk meant keeping it open.

Monday, Neil started work. He has a very easy commute. His current lack of distractions also mean he has a very short getting-ready period, which meant that he spent half an hour on Monday sitting at the kitchen table, waiting to go.

This brings me to the final episode (for now) of this saga: the IKEA furniture. We decided that the easiest way to procure necessary IKEA flatpack would be to get it in New York and load it on the truck. Fine. Until Monday night, when Neil went to put his desk together. It comes in 2 boxes. Despite being labelled 1 and 2, they have identical contents. We now have to go to the nearest IKEA (90 minutes) to exchange it. Hopefully. They originally told him he'd need to take it back to New York; however, at the time, he thought he'd lost the receipt. Turned out he hadn't. So he has to call again and find out if he can return it to any IKEA. Hopefully yes, though it means a lot of driving. Also, because we haven't been able to set up bank accounts here yet (and won't be for a few weeks, I think, because banks usually want proof of address which I don't have yet) I may have to go to Philadelphia this week (home to HSBC's only branch in PA). Luckily, there is good train service so I don't have to drive. (The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania subsidizes Amtrak from Harrisburg to Philadelphia, no doubt so legislators don't have to stay here too long.) Driving to Conshohocken (IKEA) or King of Prussia (megamall) is one thing but driving into, and parking in, downtown Philadelphia on a weekday can be tricky.

Aliza is adjusting. She's got the concept of "new house", but this morning she asked me, "go home? Grandma? Papa? Ziggy?" I felt guilty. It's 200 miles, so I can't just pop up there. Neil can't take any vacation days yet, and I'm not enough of a fool to attempt to drive to Long Island on Memorial Day. We might go up for July 4th, though, in which case I'll try to drive at some convenient time, and Neil will take the train up. That's also my birthday (well, it's on the Thursday, but we could use the free babysitting and go out Sunday night).
alexist: (Default)
2009-05-08 09:11 am
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Moving day

I love short notice moving, I do. Oh, and the movers got here, worked out the timetable and said they can't deliver our stuff till tomorrow. So we had to book a hotel room for tonight (we have to go down today to sign our lease). We've booked Verizon for this afternoon, so this will be fun--we don't actually have the TV for them to hook up! We have my laptop at least. I think our new phone went with the movers. Oh well.... (We booked it for today because they couldn't come again till Tuesday and then we'd miss the House finale ;) )
alexist: (Default)
2009-05-04 10:35 pm
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American banking sucks, #2345 in a series

Stupid online banking doesn't let me do a transfer/e-check to someone else. I can only do bank to bank transfers to accounts I hold.

grumble grumble.
alexist: (Default)
2009-04-19 10:48 pm
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Sorry for the quiet; there's not much to say. My BP is down (only to 143/87, but it's a good start), so that's good. I also had my Tdap, and had a lovely reaction. Ow.

Anyway, we had a nice time this weekend. It was really warm yesterday, so we took Aliza to the beach. It was 10 degrees colder there as the wind was coming right off the water, but she loved it. We showed her how to build sandcastles and she had a great time. When we left she said "no, no, my beach!" and this morning she rushed to get dressed, then asked "out? beach?"

Today I took her to my sister's. Aliza calls Jen Tootsie. Jen is obsessed with her. It was fun. Aliza thinks walking in the city is great because of all the shop windows; she also liked the tulips that had been planted around the trees near Jen's apartment.
alexist: (Default)
2009-04-03 12:14 pm
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Go Iowa!

I am impressed. The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that the state's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the governor here wants it, but a homophobic state senator threatened to bolt for the GOP (Dems have a 32-30 majority) if the Legislature pursues it. Barf.
alexist: (Default)
2009-03-19 08:53 pm
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Street View fun

Google Street View UK launched yesterday. I'm pleased to say our old car has been Street-Viewed. I got a bit nostalgic.
alexist: (Default)
2009-03-18 05:57 pm
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I appear to have caught the bug. Cough, cough, achy muscles, tired. No antibiotics for me, though; I'll have to hack it out.
alexist: (Default)
2009-03-17 11:14 am
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Sick baby

Aliza had a fever of 39.9 on Saturday and was really, really clingy. She perked up on Sunday but developed a worrying cough. (My dad had bronchitis last week.) Yesterday, her fever went back up and her cough got worse, so we took her in to the ped. Bronchitis and azithromycin.

Unfortunately, we're having a hell of a time getting her to take it. She freaks when she sees the dropper. The syringe that holds a full teaspoon is too big for me to do forced admin, and the dropper I CAN do that with only holds half a teaspoon. So I finally got half the dose in--but the rest got spat out because she wouldn't tolerate it twice. She wouldn't take it in ice cream either so I have one dose unused... and Neil tried her dose today in milk, which she wouldn't drink, so that's a wasted one. Of course, they don't give you much extra and she only needs 3 doses total. I'm contributing to antibiotic resistance.