We’re Here

So the move went as well as these things do. We managed to cram four suitcases, two laptop cases, my husband’s other kit bag, the three boxes of books and stuff we’d mailed to the hotel, the five bags of stuff leftover from the kitchen (our hotel room had a kitchen, ’cause we didn’t want to have to pay for restaurant food for that many weeks), plus other miscellaneous stuff we’d accumulated in the thirty-one days we were at the Seattle Alexis, all into a town car at one time so we only had to make one trip, yay. I had a heavy box on my lap the whole way, but luckily it was only about fifteen minutes.

We got there a little after 8am, and the movers arrived at around 9:15 or so, which wasn’t bad. I spent the next five hours or so at the kitchen counter with a bunch of inventory sheets in front of me, checking off numbered items while the four movers called said numbers to me. There were 362 items in the inventory. Less six or eight voids, that’s still over 350 items. Most of them were boxes. Most of the boxes have books in them.

According to the movers, most people have like one or two boxes of books, max. I can’t imagine living like that, but there you go; I always knew we weren’t normal.

Oh, and have I mentioned the room we’re using as a library (the master bedroom, ’cause really, do you need more room for your bed or your books?) is on the third floor? The guys really earned their pay that day. 🙂 Hey, one of the models we looked at had four stories, so the guys lucked out. I was sure to tell them that. [innocent humming]

But seriously, Seattle’s a fairly old (meaning developed) city, built on extremely uneven ground. There are slopes and ravines and various other non-horizontal stretches of ground pretty much everywhere. It doesn’t look full because there’s so much land with just trees on it, but it really is, and there are houses built in places which require like fifty stair-steps just to get from the sidewalk to the front door. (The movers charge extra for this, understandably.) But what this means is that new construction tends to be on very small chunks of land spotted here and there around town, and it tends to go vertical. Every condo and townhouse we looked at was at least three stories tall. That’s just how it is up here, with builders trying to max out the number of units per plot of land; they’re minimizing the footprint of each unit, and building up. I guess that means the movers up here are used to it. I’m just glad we weren’t doing this with a rental truck and a bunch of friends. 😛

So they hauled all our stuff in, wrapped up around 2:30 or so, and took off. I hadn’t had any sleep the night before, so I crashed, and woke up about fifteen hours later. That felt really good.

That night, I’d planned to unpack the kitchen, since it’d be nice to be able to start cooking again, with my own stuff.

[Hint for folks planning hotel stays who are thinking this kitchen thing sounds cool: I’ve now stayed in kitchen-rooms at three hotels, and the tools provided universally suck. There aren’t many, and the quality of what’s there is incredibly low. The Alexis doesn’t even provide bowls (cereal? soup? what’s that?) nor plastic containers for leftovers. If you’re going to be there longish-term, bring some of your own favorites, and/or be ready to go out and buy a few things.]

[Hint for hotel management: you have a standard inventory for your in-room kitchens, right? Post it on your web site, so guests know what to bring.]

Anyway, I started unpacking and discovered that we actually have less cupboard and drawer space than we did in Long Beach. :/ The pantry has a bit more space than our old pantry, so I can put some things which were in cupboards before into the pantry, but that’s still not enough. I’m thinking we’re going to have to get some (more) shelving units and/or one of those metal standing cupboard-things to go in the garage, for kitchen things I don’t use regularly. Right now, I’m sorting out things that can go in the garage, and figuring out where I want the things that have to live in the kitchen.

I also still need to sync my main computer (this one) with my laptop (which I was using for the last month and a half). When we arrived here from the hotel, I was carrying the laptop cases and such, so I put them in the closet in the computer room. There are some shelves in there, and I figured they’d be out of the way. Well, they were. They were also buried behind approximately three hundred pounds of boxes, which were back-filled into the closet as stuff was moved into the computer room. [headdesk] The spousal unit was nice enough to dig my laptop out for me last night, so I can transfer stuff across and start writing and cetera again, yay!

We have a new couch, and the washer and drier came, but the TV isn’t coming until Friday. It’ll be great to have it, though; Jim’s legally blind and has to be really close to see the TV. The one on order should be big enough for him to see while sitting on the couch with me, rather than sitting in a kitchen-type chair right up next to the set, which was what he was doing before. [crossed fingers]

Someone’s coming on Thursday from 3-Day Blinds [waves to neighbors] so we can get something up on the windows eventually. And we’re going to get like twenty bookcases (plus the overflow-kitchen-stuff cabinet/thingy for the garage) but haven’t actually ordered them yet.

And through it all we’ll be unpacking. I’m sure we’ll be doing that for a very long time. Heck, there are things we still had in boxes from our move to the condo, which just lived in their boxes because we never had space to unpack them and put them anywhere else. I’m sure it’ll be the same here with at least some things. When Jim retires and we move again O_O we’re going to need like 4000 square feet or something, LOL! We’re determined eventually to be able to put everything away, though, darnit!

In the eleven years we lived in the condo, I’d forgotten just how much work unpacking is. I can only do it for short periods of time before I get tired and my back starts getting really insistent about stopping and sitting for a while. I think it’s one of those things the subconscious deliberately buries, so people will be willing to move again some day. Hopefully I’ll have forgotten again by the time retirement rolls around. 🙂

Angie, heading back up to the kitchen to unpack another box

Month-End Wrap

Well, February was another awful month for writing. :/ My brain seemed to be buzzing around between dozens of topics, half of them stories and half not, and never lighting on any one thing long enough to concentrate on much. I’m blaming the Olympics (hey, it’s only two weeks every other year!) and the general upheaval that life has been.

The Olympics is over now, though, and the upheaval is being fixed tomorrow, with one last upheave. We’re moving into the townhouse at an ungodly hour of the morning; we need to check out of the hotel at about 7:30 to take a cab over to the house to meet the movers. The’re supposed to be there with our stuff between 8 and 10, which means they’ll actually be there at 10:30, unless of course we’re late getting there ourselves, in which case they’ll be there at 7:45. Such is the way of appointments with service people.

The new TV and couch are supposed to be delivered tomorrow too, and the phones/internet hooked up. If something goes wrong with the latter, I guess I can trek over to the bookstore with my laptop every day or two and at least get e-mail until everything is hooked up and settled. Virtual crossed fingers for everything going well are greatly appreciated. 🙂

Unfortunately, I just squeaked by with a bit over 4K words written this month, and didn’t submit anything. With one point in McKoala’s challenge, I’m just barely safe from getting torn to shreds, woe. Hey, I have nowhere to go from here but up, right…? 😀

Koala Challenge 1

Olympic-Sized Glitch

Massive glitch with the Biathlon, in the men’s pursuit. The guys have a staggered start, with the delay based on their result with the earlier sprint event. They had several starting chutes, with officials up at the front with, like, a hand on the athlete’s middle or something, watching the clock and letting them go when they were supposed to. (Multiple chutes because there are some people starting like a second apart, so you need people able to start almost simultaneously.)

Which is all fine and they’ve been running the sport like this for ages, but today someone’s messing up royally. There was a little ?? at first, with people sort of squinting and going, “Wait, what…?” Then one competitor, Leguellec of Canada, was supposed to start 41 seconds after the person in front of him, but at the first time check he was right up there with the pack. Unless he had a jet assist, that’s impossible, so clearly he was let go way too early. Teela of the US was also let go at the wrong time, and they just mentioned Ferry of Sweden.

The best fix at this point seems to be to figure out how early (or late, if there was any of that) each person went, and then add or subtract time at the end. But that doesn’t completely fix things; the way you ski, how you push, depends on where you are in the race, who’s around you, when you approach someone ahead of you or are approached by someone behind. Where you are makes a difference, and that’s all different now. Also, the athletes are used to being able to judge where they are in the race, but now Leguellec doesn’t know; he can cross the finish line first and still not get the gold, or get any medal at all perhaps, after his time’s adjusted. Maybe he’d have made it up if he’d had the press of being another 41 seconds back and maybe not, but we don’t know.

This is a really awful error. Maybe not quite as bad as the vaulting fiasco at Sydney, but it seems to be in the same ballpark. :/

ADDED: they’re adjusting the timing on the standings graphics now, but the competitors are still out on the course in the wrong places. The timing might be correct now, but the dynamics of the race are still out of whack.

Angie

Olympics!

The Olympics is on and my productivity is going to plunge way down toward zero for the next couple of weeks. It’s funny, I’m not usually into sports — I don’t watch the World Series, I couldn’t care less about the Superbowl — but the Olympics always puts stars in my eyes. I’ve loved the games since I was a kid, and I’m going to be glued to the TV whenever it’s on. 🙂

Oh, we got the townhouse, woot! There’s more to the story there — it was completely insane for a while, ups and downs and giving up and reviving and whatever all else — but I’ll post more about that later, when the Olympics are taking a break. ;D

Angie, trying to figure out how to postpone moving till after the Games are over

Mostly Away

The packers are coming tomorrow, so for some unspecified while my presence online is going to be kind of spotty-ish. Being me I’ll still be around some — have laptop, will surf — but I won’t be spending all day online the way I usually do.

I have more sorting, stashing and tossing to do; everything has to be ready for strangers to start grabbing and boxing by 8am tomorrow, and I probably won’t get much sleep. We’re moving into a hotel tomorrow night, and the main computers will be packed up well before then.

I’m just hoping we don’t lose too much between here and Seattle. :/

We’ll be in a hotel for eight or nine days (during the packing and moving out of our stuff, then supervising a good cleaning [flamethrower, firehose, backhoe] and whatever last-minute repairs need doing), then flying up to Seattle and moving into temporary quarters, still not quite settled where. It all depends on how the deals go — the guy who wants to buy our condo has been dragging his feet for the last week or more, and we’re counting on that for a down payment on the townhouse. If that ends up falling through for some reason, we’ll have to scramble for a quick refinance (which was our original plan before this buyer popped out of the woodwork) to get our down payment; it won’t be enough for a full twenty percent, which will impact our interest rate and monthly payment, plus the time it takes will cause us to incur a substantial penalty ($85/day) for failing to close on the townhouse by the deadline. I’m really hoping our buyer down here gets his act together RSN. :/

If it all comes together, we could end up staying at a hotel in Seattle for as little as a week or two. If it all goes pear-shaped and we have to go back to house-hunting from scratch, we could end up in an apartment for two months, then moving to a smaller apartment when our per-diem runs out. More likely it’ll be somewhere in the middle. Oh, then at the end, moving again to wherever we end up for the next few years, hopefully the townhouse we made an offer on. [crossed fingers] Most of our stuff (everything the packers will be packing tomorrow and Thursday) will be in storage until we’re in permanent housing, so we get to live out of suitcases until that happens, joy.

I’m just looking forward to all this being over. You ever wish you could go to sleep and wake up a month or two later…? [wry smile]

Anyway, later all. [wave] Keep the internets warm for me. 🙂

Angie

Spammers — Stomping Roaches

As Travis mentioned recently, the spammers have gotten more active lately, and some of them are also subtler. At this point, though, I’ve had it up to here with spam, and my tolerance for anything which seems even vaguely spammish is at an all-time low.

So. What this means is that I’m going to assume that anything which might be spam is actually spam. On the borderline, that means anything in a foreign language I can’t read will be deleted. (For a while I copied these and ran them through Babelfish just in case, but I never found any which weren’t spam and eventually gave up.) Anything which talks about an unrelated subject (“Hey, interesting discussion here, reminds me of my new plumbing business I’m eager to tell you about…”) without any specific commentary on the actual topic of the post will be deleted. Any vague praise which could apply to literally any blog (“I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the hard work you put into your articles and that I’ve bookmarked your blog and will visit daily!”) will be deleted.

If that means I end up deleting a comment by the occasional sincere reader, I’m truly sorry for that. But I’m not willing to leave someone’s vague, spammish comment (and their link) up long enough to be spidered if I can help it. All roaches, and anything which has more than four legs and therefore might be a roach, will be stomped immediately, no exceptions.

Note that I don’t object to links per se. Someone on my WordPress blog posted a short comment on my Visiting San Francisco post which actually responded to something I’d said, rather than just making some vaguely general remark. I responded to the comment and left it where it was, despite the very clearly commercial link attached to it. Anyone who actually participates in the conversation is welcome to include a link to their web site. And participation doesn’t mean a dissertation-level commentary — just some proof that the commenter actually read the post and is responding to some specific bit of it is enough.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask, and anything short of that will be deleted. I really don’t want to have to set up captchas on my blogs (or comment moderation on my LJ; I’ve gotten one or two spam comments on LiveJournal, but for the most part the spammers have so far left it alone [crossed fingers]) because I want it to be as easy and un-annoying as possible for real people to leave comments. That means, though, that I need to be a hard-nose about after-the-fact moderation.

I don’t imagine this’ll affect any of my regular readers or commenters, and I hope legitimate first-time commenters won’t find it impacts them either.

Angie

A Pause in the Move

Well, it seems we’ve been doing it wrong. My husband was given a date to report to his new job in Seattle — 19 January — and it seemed the logical process was for us to move up there by that date so he could, you know, go to work without having a thousand-mile commute. We should’ve known better, though, because that’s way too logical for the government.

He got word yesterday that, although the pre-move house-hunting trip was authorized to properly take place before he started his new job [cough] we weren’t supposed to actually move until after he’d reported on the 19th and been sworn in. Umm, what?

I had this image for most of yesterday of them flying him up to Seattle so he could raise his right hand and sign a paper, then flying him back so we could get things packed and moved. [headdesk] It turns out things aren’t quite that bass-ackwards, although it’s close. They just have to find someone at a high enough level in the same chain of command to swear him in down here on the 19th, and then they’ll immediately put him on leave so we can officially move on his new agency’s nickel. Last I heard (as of last night) they were talking about sending him to San Diego to be sworn in by someone down there, which… wow. They don’t have someone in the LA area? Really? My husband doesn’t drive, so San Diego means a whole day on the bus there and back for what’s probably less than an hour (and quite possibly just a few minutes, I don’t know) of repeating-after and paper shuffling. They still have to pay him for the bus fare and travel time, though. Your tax dollars at work. [sigh] (Unless you’re not from the US, in which case you can feel free to laugh at how the US government works in these trying economic times.)

We were in the process of getting things sorted and tossed and ready for the packers to show up on Thursday, but that’s on hold now. We were using up food without buying any more that’d just have to be tossed at the end of the week, but now we need to do another grocery order. And cetera.

What’s really annoying here is that the miscommunication was on the other end, with the people whose job it is to know how this works. None of the people he’d been talking to told him any of this. No one mentioned that he was supposed to report in on the 19th before actually spending money on the move. He’d mentioned his plans to a couple of people and no one said, “Oh, no, that’s not how it works.” Word finally got to his new boss’s boss, who’s been moved by the government himself several times and therefore knows the procedures, and said, “Wait, you’re what?” which started the conversation. But none of the other people he’d been talking to, including the ones who were working with him on filling out forms and signing vouchers and arranging for realtors and whatever all else, thought to tell him in what order the government wants him to do things.

And what’s really really annoying about this is that it’s all pointless. The purpose of having him be sworn in at his new agency first is to let the money for the move come out of their pot, rather than having his old agency pay for it. But the bottom line is that it’s all the same larger pot — it’s all taxpayer dollars, and it’s all being spent by the US government. We’re spending extra money (even if it’s only the cost of a bus trip to San Diego and a day’s wages) to ensure that Agency X is paying instead of Agency Y, when the bottom line is that the taxpayers (us) aren’t saving anything. So extra money is being spent for what comes down to accounting. [sigh]

I’m having a hard time imagining why there couldn’t be a policy letting whatever agency a transferring employee is with pay for the move. Or just transfer the costs to the agency he’s going to, since everyone knows he is going. There you go — we’re saving actual money without spending any, and all it would take is a change to policies and procedures. I guess that makes too much sense.

Angie, whose house is half-overturned and is going to stay that way for an extra two weeks

Intermittent Fasting

Natasha over on Blogger asked about the intermittent fasting I’ve been doing, and my answer was too long for a comment, so I’m posting it here. She asked whether the fasting got easier as you went along.

Actually, the intermittent fasting is a lot easier than I thought it’d be, and has been from the beginning. It might be different for other people, but for me, just knowing that I’m not eating anything for twenty-four hours makes it much easier to completely ignore the whole concept of food for that period, whereas trying to eat every day but eat less or only eat certain things means I’m focused on food but having to restrain myself while eating, which for me is difficult to impossible.

I’ve been thinking about it as being like an addiction. Figure, if someone’s an alcoholic, and you said to them, “Okay, you have to have one beer in the morning, and one glass of wine at noon, and a shot of vodka in the evening. You can’t skip any of them but you can’t have any more than that either,” wouldn’t you expect them to fail? We expect that the only way for an alcoholic to control the addiction is to have no alcohol, period, and that any slip is likely to lead to a binge.

But if someone’s addiction is for food, they can’t just go cold turkey, or even work up to never eating again. It’s exactly like the program above, only with food instead of alcohol, where they have to indulge the addiction just a little bit, but then are expected to back off through sheer will power, multiple times per day. That’s not how addictions work, or rather, that’s not an addiction control strategy which is at all likely to be successful. It makes a lot of sense to me that it just doesn’t work for most people who have this issue. The intermittent fasting lets me go cold turkey a day at a time, every other day. It’s not quite the same thing, but it’s close, and it works.

I get hunger pangs once or twice on a fast day — not just the munchies or whatever, but real, hollow-ache-in-the-stomach pangs — but if I ignore them they go away in five or ten minutes and then I’m fine. And on days when I eat, I just eat normally and don’t feel the urge to binge on twice as much food as I’d usually eat, which was something I was sort of expecting when I started. My “normal” is more than most people, but then I’m 5’11” and muscular, aside from all the fat, so trying to cut back to 1000 calories a day wouldn’t be healthy for me anyway. My normal amount, cut in half by the every-other-day pattern, seems to work nicely.

And because I always know on a fast day I can have whatever I want tomorrow, I can out-stare whatever goodies we have around the house, because it’s not forever; I can have some tomorrow. Or right after midnight, if I’m still awake and still want to. I’ve only blown it — planned to fast and should have been able to do so, and then broke down in the middle of the day — once, when we had leftover bacon in the fridge. 😛

When I had that awful gastritis back in March, I tried to go back to fasting after about a week or ten days, and that didn’t work, but that was something else. It wasn’t a matter of breaking down over some particular item; I got the hunger pangs and several hours later they were still there and had gotten a lot worse. I figured, “Okay, fine, I’m still recovering from being very sick. My body wants food, so I’m going to feed it.” I was eating light and bland anyway, because my stomach was still delicate for most of that month, but I waited another couple of weeks before trying the fasting again. I still lost weight that month, with no upward spikes in the middle, so I’m sure I did the right thing.

Another key component of the program (I got all this from Steve Barnes’s 101 Program by the way; the diet-and-fitness is only part of it; scroll down a bit to sign up for the 101 for free) is to increase your exercise level while restricting food intake. If you only diet, then your body’s metabolism will naturally slow down to accommodate what it registers as a famine condition. If you only exercise but ignore what you’re eating, your body will make you hungrier to balance the increased energy expenditure and you’ll tend to eat more without realizing it, and level off on your weight. Doing both at once helps keep things balanced to burn fat. I’ve fallen off on the exercise part and didn’t lose anything significant over the last three months or so, so I need to work on getting back to that. Still, I’m pleased with the total result for the last year.

Angie

Newsflash! Saturn Has a Massive Ring Around It!

No, really. Check out the photo.

The mass of the ring begins 3.7 million miles outside that of the inner ring system we’re all familiar with, and the density of the ice crystals and dust is so low that no one’s ever noticed it before. But “the cool dust — about 80 Kelvin (minus 316 degrees Fahrenheit) — glows with thermal radiation. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, used to spot the ring, picked up on the heat.”

The ring is also tilted at an angle with respect to Saturn and the inner ring. The CNN article says:

One of Saturn’s moons, Phoebe, orbits within the ring. As Phoebe collides with comets, it kicks up planetary dust. Scientists believe the ice and dust particles that make up the ring stems [sic] from those collisions.

This suggests that the newly discovered outer ring follows Phoebe’s orbit — that they’re of similar size and tilt. I tried to find confirmation of this, but the Google-fu failed me. I found a couple of graphics showing Phoebe’s orbit, but can’t tell whether the tilt matches that of the outer ring. I suppose it makes sense that something discovered this recently wouldn’t have generated all sorts of comparative diagrams yet.

It makes me wonder how this works, though. If Phoebe actually did create the outer ring, by smacking into comets over a long period of time, then why doesn’t every moon have an associated ice-and-dust ring? There are cometary paths all over the solar system, and over however many millions of years, one would think there’d have been time for other moons to smack into their own comets and form ring systems.

Maybe other moons do have other rings in their orbits and we just haven’t pointed the right types of cameras at the right angles to find them yet.

If they don’t, then why not? What’s special about the Saturn-ring-moons-Phoebe-bigger-ring system that it happened there and not elsewhere? For that matter, why does Saturn have the inner, more visible ring system at all, while none of the other planets do? Other planets do have rings, but only tiny, dull fractions of Saturn’s. Saturn is less than 30% Jupiter’s mass, so it’s not that its mass draws in lots of space junk and none of the other planets are massive enough to do so.

Stuff like this always renews my interest in solar-system based SF, though; new discoveries always add to the “What if?” lists. 🙂

Angie

Making Amends

Icarusancalion over on LJ has posted an explanation/apology/amends for something she did, attacking and slandering a Buddhist temple and its Lama over a period of years because she couldn’t face her own responsibility for her failures as a nun and a Buddhist.

Her hateful and lying words from the past have been used by others to hurt this temple and her old teacher, and she hopes that her confession and explanation will rise high enough in Google rankings that when people go looking for information on the subject, they’ll find her post to mitigate the lies she helped spread, which are also still out there, propped up by others with similar issues.

Aside from this being a pretty awesome melding of ancient tradition and 21st century technology, I think this is a worthy cause and then some, so I’m linking in all my personal fora. I encourage everyone to read this (it’s not that long) and if you agree that it’s a worthy cause, to link as well. Thank you.

Angie