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)
2009-06-03 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)
2009-05-15 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)
2008-11-11 06:18 pm
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Accident fun

Ugh. We were just in an accident. Not our fault. Neil was forced to stop because someone was forcing her way on, and a van that was going too fast swerved and clipped us, then smacked into a Camry. No major damage (busted tail light, some panel damage) but it's a PITA.
alexist: (Default)
2008-11-07 05:17 pm
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I had to get an insurance inspection done. (If you get comprehensive and collision on a used car, you need a photo inspection so you can't claim for existing damage.)

I got the list of places. One was a Citgo on 110. It said "Next to Post Office". Right, I thought, I know where that is, and went.

Only, it wasn't. Turns out it was the OTHER Citgo station. The one by where the post office USED to be, until 9 years ago. *headdesk*
alexist: (Default)
2008-11-05 07:25 pm
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New car!

I/we have a new car. (It's registered and insured in my name, muwahaha, because Neil doesn't have an American driver's license.) 2005 Honda Accord LX. We would have liked an EX (power seats, possibly even leather...) but they didn't have any that weren't V6s, which we didn't want. (it would be really nice to drive, but eat gas a lot quicker than the standard 2.4) It's pretty good, though, and a definite improvement over a Jetta 1.8! It's not as large as the 2008 Accord, which I really, really liked, but that was well out of our target price range. Again, though, large enough and better trunk space which we need.

We did get hooked for the extended warranty. It's a good idea but they charge more than it's really worth, I think. So all told, we spent a bit more than we planned to. Still, I'm glad to have it done.

Of course, I now have a ludicrously common car. So common that it's 1 of 3 in a row parked in the lot outside.
alexist: (Default)
2008-10-14 06:09 pm
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Traffic fun

The presidential debate is being held near me (at Hofstra University in Hempstead). There are warnings on the parkways. It's gonna be fun. They've closed part of Hempstead Turnpike all day for security reasons.

I'd really like to do something tomorrow (aside from going to the bank with Neil since he now has an SSN and can open an account) but I don't want to drive anywhere near that, and I suspect traffic panic may drive people off the Northern Parkway and onto the LIE. I'm sure as hell not going to the mall (right by Hofstra) even though I actually need to.
alexist: (Default)
2007-06-01 08:36 pm
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Not a good start to the weekend

We got started late and didn't leave till 10:30. Traffic on the Belt was so-so, traffic on the Turnpike sucked donkey testicles (as usual). I think it was 15:00 when we got out of Jersey (including a 20 minute stop for lunch and another for Aliza's bottle that she turned down at lunch time).

Once we got into Delaware there was a traffic jam. Luckily they all appeared to be headed for the tax-free shopping off exit 4A, and we made good time through Baltimore ("scenic downtown Ballmer!" Sorry, John Waters reference though I think I misquoted it) and to the DC limits. Once we got down New York Avenue, though, we discovered a problem. It said to turn from 1st St to North St. There is no North St there--they meant N Street. A spiral through the one-way system ensued. Meanwhile, Aliza started crying for her bottle.

We finally found the hotel and went round the block looking for the garage entrance. Aliza was screaming and I wanted to get her inside, and Neil was stressed too--and he cut his turn too far, and scraped someone. Someone turned out to be a DoJ employee who insisted on exchanging insurance information even though she only had a tiny dent on her bumper. *groans* I went in to the hotel while Neil did that (and discovered they had valet parking).

It also turns out we have to inform DC police, who are currently interviewing Neil.

Thank G-d we booked a decent hotel so we can order room service.

Oh good, he's back. The police were called out on an emergency. He hasn't been interviewed yet.

Did I mention I have a stinking headache? And I went to the pharmacy down the street to get something and didn't get myself any Advil--I thought of it right after I walked out.

Tomorrow will be better. I insist on it!

(yes, in room internet access. Of course I brought my laptop. Much better than guidebooks :) )
alexist: (Default)
2007-05-08 12:20 am
Entry tags:

Road trip!

Neil and I have decided to go to DC for a few days in the middle of our trip to the States. Since we've already rented a car for 2 weeks, we're driving down. This could be interesting ;-) We'll be sharing the driving (Neil trusts me in the States). Letting him loose on the New Jersey Turnpike, though... ;-) I've informed him that, sadly, we will be missing the Vince Lombardi rest area (we'll be entering the turnpike too far south).

Interesting note: if you plug my parents' ZIP code into Google Maps directions, it tells you to go via the Bronx (BAD BAD route). If you put in their exact address, it sends you via Staten Island. Now, my assumption is that their start point for 11747 is further north and directs the algorithm to use the Northern Parkway to get off LI, even though that route ultimately sends you in a roundabout way and through worse traffic. BUT, because the mileage is almost identical, it doesn't realise that. What's exceptionally interesting is that I looked at their start point and it's pretty close to my parents'. (We discovered this because I double checked, using their exact address, and Neil meanwhile had just plugged in the ZIP and mentioned the Throgs Neck Bridge as part of the route. We tested it and sure enough, that's the quirk.)

(Comparison route: My way, which I'd already thought was right:
Southern State -> Belt Pkwy -> Verrazano-Narrows Br -> Staten Island Expwy -> West Shore Expwy -> Outerbridge Crossing -> Rte 440 -> NJ Turnpike.
Other route: Northern State Pkwy -> Grand Central Pkwy -> Clearview Expwy -> Throgs Neck Br -> Cross Bronx Expwy -> George Washington Br -> New Jersey Tpke. If you've ever driven in NYC you know that the Cross Bronx / GWB / Turnpike is a bad route anytime and is a particularly bad way to go to DC!)

Must see if I can borrow my sister's EZ-Pass. (I'll pay her back for the tolls, I just want to be able to skip the massive queues in the cash lanes.) (EZ-Pass - automated toll collection. Think DART Tag, if you've seen that, only this works in the entire Northeast which has lots of toll roads and bridges! Current MTA B&T toll is $4.50 one way cash, $4 E-Z Pass, double toll collected westbound only on the Verrazano. NJ Turnpike is paid per mile travelled. Apparently, it will cost us $3.10 cash. Oh, 2nd plus to SI route: Less money paid on turnpike tolls. :-) )

And now that I've given you an incomprehensible lesson in road geekery...
alexist: (pregnant)
2007-01-03 02:54 pm
Entry tags:

I failed

Mainly due to a severe error of judgement on a mini-roundabout. Pure nerves.

On the other hand, I've been having nasty cramps and back pain all day. Erm. I've asked Neil to come home early and take me to hospital. If it's labour it's super-early stages, but I'd just feel better having someone take a look.

If you don't hear from me again tonight, I'm busy pushing ;) I sure hope not though, we're not ready damnit!!!
alexist: (Default)
2007-01-02 05:25 pm
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First of all, it is proving impossible to talk to the DSA (I can't find my theory test certificate). I get through the menus only to be told "sorry, your call cannot be connected at this time, please try again later" *CLICK*. My test is tomorrow FFS! I know they can sort it out, they have the certificate number (I couldn't have booked my practical test without it!) but they need to notify Barnet DSA so I don't have any problems and I CAN'T GET THROUGH!!!!

Two, using the phone makes the DSL go flaky. I have no idea why, but I can see the router from here--DSL connection goes up and down when I use the phone.

Three, I'm tired. I had a crappy night's sleep because of indigestion--I couldn't get comfortable lying down. So I am tired now, despite having a nap.

Four, the flat is a mess, I have to cook dinner, and I have no energy whatsoever. It's supposed to be roast chicken. I can't even face it.
alexist: (Default)
2006-11-28 05:30 pm
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Mock test

Failed, owing primarily to mounting the curb on a reverse-round-the-corner. Why I screwed up I don't know--been doing them perfectly! A few minor issues as well, mainly clutch and observation. Still, overall not bad, and I might actually take and pass my damn test before the baby shows up.
alexist: (Default)
2006-10-23 03:52 pm
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I passed!

Not by a huge margin: 30/35 on the multiple choice, 48/75 on the hazard perception. I would have done better on the latter if I hadn't been tired--it slowed my reaction times. I didn't miss a single hazard, I just didn't get them as quickly as I should have.

It would be nice to know exactly which questions i got wrong on the multiple choice, though; the results slip just says which categories.

Still, not fussed as long as I've got the pass certificate. Now to prepare for the practical test--that's what really counts!
alexist: (Default)
2006-10-11 09:26 am
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Ah, blessed sleep

After several days of not getting a proper night's sleep, I went to bed last night at 20:00 and SLEPT. Man, did that feel good.

FedEx are a bunch of muppets. We went out there last night (total backwater in Brimsdown; Neil was forced to acknowlege that there was no way I could have gotten there without a lift). First, it doesn't close till 19:00, so he could have stayed at work an extra half hour. Second, the muppet on the phone didn't mention a tracking number, and the woman behind the desk couldn't find my package in the system without it. Since FedEx can't get into our block without being buzzed in there was no slip left (unlike with Royal Mail/Parcelforce) so I didn't have one at all. Great database there, FedEx, can't you search by name or delivery post code? In the end she asked someone to look through the cages and they found it. Luckily I was right about what it was and where it had been sent from.

More annoyingly, Neil's wing mirror was knocked off. I don't mean clipped, I mean it was hanging on by wires. He had it bent back, too. Our road really is a rat run :/ Properly speaking it should either be no parking or one way, because there isn't room for 2 cars to pass, but neither is going to happen. There isn't anywhere else for the 326 to go (local residents complain enough about it, and TfL quite rightly points out that it's the only route going through the area so it's staying) and there would be a riot if residents were asked to give up street parking. None of this stops people driving too fast, of course.

My driving is coming along nicely; only manoeuvre I've not got down pat is reverse-parking into a bay. British parking bays are too narrow :P
alexist: (Default)
2006-10-09 08:36 pm
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Theory Test

Well, I've booked it... 23 October (first available date!)
alexist: (Default)
2006-10-04 12:23 pm
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Evil buses

Today's boos go to TfL/Metroline buses. This morning I waited over 25 minutes for a 326 (every 12-15 minutes IIRC). It finally shows up... and breezes past, ignoring me and the 2 other people waiting. Another bus showed up shortly afterward, but terminated at Finchley Central (I needed to go all the way to Brent Cross). I then had to walk across Ballards Lane to get a 143, which proceeded to wait at the stop for about 7 minutes for no apparent reason.

Luckily, the journey home was MUCH better (straight onto a 326 at Brent Cross, dropped off just before my house--I do like living on a hail & ride section ;) )

The cat is licking the inside rim of my dirty milk glass. Nice one, cat.

I have to book my theory test. I've been putting it off because I'm secretly convinced I will fail it, even though rationally I know I should pass--given the number of morons on the road it can't be that difficult, surely?
alexist: (Default)
2006-09-26 04:09 pm
Entry tags:

2 things

I have never had to do a reverse-into-a-side-street in my life, yet the DSA considers it such an important manoeuvre it's on the test. Why?? And basically it's the same thing as reverse-parking-into-a-bay; why make me do both? :P

Totally unrelated: Don't you hate it when you pull the big muscle on the back of your calf as you're waking up? Ow.

(Doh! Wrote this this afternoon but it didn't post correctly... shall backdate it :P )
alexist: (Default)
2006-09-13 04:09 pm
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Driving lesson

Mock test. Would have failed it. :) But I don't think she expected me to pass, it was more about me getting used to things. And I am improving and I'm really getting the hang of doing manoeuvres using clutch control, so I may actually pass the test before the baby comes. I'm planning to do the theory test once we've moved.

Moron on the A1000. It's 40 north of Barnet because of multiple fatal accidents. So this idiot in a Mini overtakes me at 60, going into a bend. It was obvious to me that it is NOT safe to drive that fast on that bit of road. BTW, I was doing 40 at the time; there was no reason to overtake me other than an instinctive hatred of L-plates.

Back on the A1 again, did 60. That was the fun bit. :)
alexist: (Default)
2006-08-29 11:10 pm
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I had a driving lesson this afternoon. Let's just say that part of it didn't go well, and I shall be spending the next one practising roundabouts. I did go on the A1 for the first time, though. First time in fifth gear!

Afterwards, I headed into town (Neil was playing bridge tonight). I made the mistake of stopping in Borders to see if the new issue of the New Yorker was in yet. It wasn't, but several really really good new books were out and I found myself buying them. Ooops. Oh well... no laptop, need reading material ;) (Although I do have a couple of unfinished ones on the pile...

From there, onto the cinema. I thought Volver was playing at the Curzon Soho at 17:40. It wasn't. It was 18:40. However, I also knew it was playing at the Cineworld Haymarket at 18:00--I prefer the Cineworld anyway but I was early and thought I'd save myself the extra walk. Cineworld failed to impress me on several counts:
- The ticket was £8.90
- The theatre wasn't opened to patrons until 17:55
- There were 30 minutes of ads and previews, which I thought was seriously excessive. It's no wonder people don't go to the cinema--prices are sky high and then they make you watch ads. I remember when US cinemas didn't even have pre-film ads, just the trailers.

The film, however, was fantastic. I didn't like Bad Education much at all and this really confirmed that Almodóvar is much better directing women than men. (Talk to Her is the exception--though even there, women are a big focus of the film). Penélope Cruz was fantastic--"lighting up the screen" is a cliché, but that's really how it felt (as I've said many times, she's a great actress in Spanish and only mediocre in English). For that matter, all the performances were good (though it was somewhat odd to see Carmen Maura so much older--I was watching Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown the other day).

yes, I've been quite the cinema-goer lately, and I expect I will next week too, as Neil's going to Athens for 5 days! Might as well amuse myself one evening.

After that, got some food and came home. I shall noiw curl up with the cat and the new Margaret Atwood.