Reconnected!

Ufda! Where to start… Short form: (1) The move went well despite the movers being complete apes because we had planned and packed very carefully. (2) The job is good so far, people are very welcoming, my skills are a good fit and are appreciated. (3) The house is nice, the cats are adapting, it looks somewhat habitable but we still have lots of boxes to open.

Packing
We had packed everything remarkably methodically (for us); we never reached a stage where we just threw random things in boxes. Old electronics were taken to approved facilities, reusable goods and clothes we did not want were taken to Goodwill, boxes of books were sold to Half Price Books, and extra games donated to Emerald City Gamefest. We used coloured label tape to close boxes, indicating what room each box was to be taken to. We labelled the contents of every box in large letters on all sides, and slapped multiple “Fragile” labels where needed. We used vast quantities of bubble-wrap and packing peanuts to protect the glass and china. We were feeling proud.

The Movers
This was the first time we hired professional movers for the whole operation: last time we moved, we had rented a truck but hired a professional to load and drive the truck. It worked well and it was cheap. This time we went through a broker, Budget Van Lines; the actual moving company was New Life Van Lines, and their crew the inimitable Angel and Jesus (I’m not making this up). They were to supply the truck, drive it and do the loading and unloading.

In getting the estimate, I listed the contents of each room to the broker’s agent and describe the condition of any delicate item (e.g., the china cabinet with glass doors.) Alas, I did not realize that in working through the estimate, the agent included space for the furniture but not the contents; e.g., our bookcases that just happened to, y’know, contain books. As a result, when the movers did show up to load the truck, the space and cost estimate doubled. Since it was that or not moving that weekend, we were caught by the short and curlies.

Speaking of when the movers did show up… I’d been told they would give a 40- to 48-hour heads-up; the more flexible you are in setting a date, the less expensive the move is. The window we had for pickup was from Friday August 29 to Monday September 1. So of course I got a call on Friday the 29th asking if they could come load that same day. I said no, but agreed to be ready for 8AM on Saturday the 30th. Of course, that means they showed up at 10AM without calling with an updated time; they “had to get breakfast first”, they said.

They used no caution with our furniture, dragging pieces around without the benefit of blankets to protect surfaces. They stacked heavy boxes labelled “Books” on top of boxes labelled “China” and covered in red “Fragile” stickers. They banged on boxes to make them fit. I’d been told by the broker that I had no wrapping to do on the furniture, even the aforementioned glass-front cabinet, but that meant the items were roughly and grudgingly packed by the apes who kept telling me they could offer no guarantee. And when they smashed our boxes and we pointed to the damage, they grinned and announced “Packed by owner!” — they were not responsible for damage to anything packed by owners either.

Goodbyes
We spent our last week trying to see as many friends as we could. We went to the Monday Night Game (Erik’s Weapons of the Gods demo), a dinner with Peter, Cindy and Rose on Tuesday, had a Skype voice test with the Emerald City Gamefest crew on Wednesday, went to the Thursday Night Game (‘s A Dirty World demo, and Peter and Cindy let us have a Roanoke octaNe finale game at their place on Friday.

Our friends and his wife Linda were nice enough to host a going-away barbecue on Saturday afternoon. Since the movers were two hours late, I had to stay at the house and miss the first half of the barbecue, but it was wonderful to see everyone once I got there. It was a potluck so everyone brought things to share, and everyone had great stories. Linda had stuffed a piñata with the most wonderful candy, and it was a great success with the guests. I think some cheated a little bit and could see through the blindfold… Then brutally finished off the remnants, and the piñata rose no more. I’m very grateful to everyone for the the send-off (and I’m misting up as we speak.)

After the party, our friend was nice enough to come back to the now-empty house with us and help us do some cleaning. We only had time to do the minimum, and had to hire a professional service to come in after us since we needed to get on the road to let the movers in at the other end. We slept on the floor and I caught a cold.

The Long Drive
It takes approximately ten and a half hours to drive from Seattle to Eureka, including the fuel, bathroom and food stops. We had two unhappy cats to carry, including Benjamin who is a very timid and claustrophobic cat with a mighty yowl. In preparation, we had obtained acepromazine from our veterinarian (the wonderful Dr. Romatowski, who we’ll miss and awful lot). He warned us that the effects could be extremely variable from animal to animal, but fortunately it worked as hoped for our two cats. We dosed them on the day the movers loaded the truck, and the next day for the trip itself. They became very drowsy and lethargic; there was no throwing up and only one little mishap, quickly cleaned.

We slept on the floor again that night.

Unpacking
The movers came in to unload our stuff on Monday, Sept. 1. Naturally, they were 2 hours late again. We were unsurprised. We saw our boxes come out of the truck and shuddered. We felt certain that about half of our stuff would be destroyed; certainly, all of our furniture was scuffed or damaged. But at a reimbursement rate of $0.60 a pound, it doesn’t seem worth our time to place a claim.

The contents of the top box in this image, at the crushed end, are long-stem cut-glass wine glasses and champagne flutes. We put off opening it for a couple of days. Believe it or not, not a single piece was broken. Out of every such mistreated box, we lost only a few pieces thanks to our care in packing. My computer required repair, even though it travelled in its original packing. But overall, we got away pretty well considering the treatment received and the state of the boxes. (Incidentally, the box in this picture came out of the truck upside-down.)

We’ve done a lot of unpacking, but we still have the non-essentials to tackle, particularly the books and games, and my art supplies. has a lot of work to do sorting through his boxes of photo archives.

The new house is quite nice and the landlords are charming. We got the connection through ; her sister and brother-in-law were living here and moving back to Seattle the same weekend we were moving down! The backyard is lovely, bordered by apple, pear and fig trees on three sides. The house has one fewer room than we had in Seattle, but each room is larger so we seem to be OK for space; and some of the boxes will remain in the garage for now. The kitchen is neat and the appliances are new — a pleasant change from our awful old ones — but storage space is at a premium. And our cats have not figured out how the cat door works.

Work
The first week was largely spent in orientation and just getting introduced to what’s going on, though I did get my first project assignment. Everyone is lovely, very welcoming. The second week I got brought into a couple more projects and introduced to clients. Happily, I was given exactly what I excel at: a project where we’re not sure where all the information is, and we have no models to follow. Hey, I can do that! I’m good at showing initiative, and people seemed reassured that this was going to work out well. I’m almost done with the first draft on project No. 1.

On the first day, everyone in the Environmental Services Department who wasn’t on vacation or in the field took me to lunch at the Café Marina. I’ve been working on remembering everyone’s name; I also interact a lot with the Planning and Civil Departments.

This coming Friday, we have the monthly “Thank God It’s Beer Friday.” That’s a custom I hadn’t seen since I left Quebec, yay! (Except we just called it “Friday”…) And this weekend we’re missing a department camping trip because that cold I caught while moving flared into something nasty in the following days; I’m on the mend though still coughing, and is in the thick of it.

Connecting
Holly Molly, but it was a pain to connect to the Internet. After asking people here who their ISP is, I had ordered phone and high-speed Internet service from AT&T (used to be Pacific Bell when we lived here before.) First, despite the fact that I had ordered in advance, they could not connect us until Thursday, September 4. OK, I know it’s a very busy time with all the college people returning that same week. Second, it took multiple calls to customer service to get them to activate our Working Assets long-distance service. (We’ve been with WA for over a decade and didn’t feel like dropping them,)

Third, when the modem arrived and we tried connecting, had to spend several hours on the phone with tech support to establish that the modem was simply defective. We had to wait for another one to be mailed and arrive a week later. THEN had to spend some more hours on the phone with tech support to get that modem to work, after his settings had been fouled due to trying to get the original modem to work. This led to a quotable line from tech support: “You used the install disk? WHY?”

Then Edmund got to the point where he had browser access and could download messages, but could not send. Turns out AT&T is merely re-selling Yahoo service, and last year Yahoo changed its authentication protocols. They only provide tech support for Internet Explorer, Outlook and Outlook Express; we use Firefox, Thunderbird and SeaMonkey. AT&T offered its paid tech support, which starts at $100.

I said no, thanks, and spent yesterday afternoon reading tech forums until I found the correct little nits to pick in the settings. They all turn out to be very simple things, known for a year and a half now, but since I had to track them by reading through forum discussions followed by trial-and-error, it took me all afternoon. Still, I got the damn thing to work!

So we’re now reconnected and have a bunch of things to unpack.

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