Surprise! Please pay $236.

August 10, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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After unpacking the boxes we had quite a pile of paper

After unpacking the boxes we had quite a pile of paper. Somebody might have used it to bury Pico. (This photo was taken when the pile was only about 30% of its maximum size!)

Much of our stuff from Austin was delivered to temporary housing this weekend, which is really nice. There were a bunch of things in there that we needed, and we’re really glad to have them finally. As we unpacked the seven or so boxes, we discovered for the first time what a really good job the packers had done. (You may recall that I had had some doubts about them mentioned in this post.) They spared no expense with the wrapping paper to cushion objects, and it really made me feel confident about the rest of our stuff that’s still in storage.

That said, we’re having a little mini-dispute with Graebel at the moment about a delivery charge for some of our belongings. (Graebel is the relocating service contracted by Amazon to move us.) Before we left Austin, we were told by a Graebel employee that our moving package included (a) packing of our stuff, (b) transport of most of our stuff to storage while we’re in the temporary housing, (c) cost of storage while we’re in temporary housing, and (d) transport of some stuff to the temporary housing. So before the movers came we divided the house into storage-destined items and temporary-housing-destined items. It’s worth noting here that he didn’t just mention (d) — we asked him explicitly if delivery to the temporary housing was covered and he assured us that it was.

Well, this past Friday Blake got a call from Graebel: our stuff would be delivered the next day and it would cost about $236! Apparently the package included only delivery to the storage facility, and our items for the temporary housing were being charged to us despite our original assurance that it was included. I called our contact at Graebel, and he confirmed that no, it wasn’t covered by the package and yes, it would cost $236.

So he suggested I send an email to a few people at Graebel and see if they’ll cover it. He doesn’t sound too confident, but I can see that this is a dispute that may go on for a while: we have no intention of paying for something that we were told was free. In fact, it would have been a trivial matter to trim down our pile of temporary-housing-destined belongings and then bring a few more suitcases on the plane. Alaska Airlines would allow us to bring additional bags for only $20 apiece, so we definitely had other options.

I guess we’ll see what happens. Happily, they’re going to bill us for the delivery and didn’t make us pay when they dropped off our stuff. This is helpful because it’s way easier to get companies to decide they don’t want your money after all than to get them to give you money back. Stay tuned.

Pico moves to Seattle

August 2, 2010 at 11:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Please enjoy this photographic chronicle of some of the highlights of Pico’s move from Austin to Seattle.

Pico gets in the movers' way

Pico gets in the movers' way

Somebody put Pico on some boxes in the driveway

Somebody put Pico on some boxes in the driveway

Pico sitting on a comfy chair

Pico waits to be fed at the Hilton Austin Airport. (He curled up in that chair later that evening while Blake and I slept in the bed.)

Pico sitting on a couch surrounded by suitcase and our other belongings

Waiting in the Hilton lobby after checkout but before taking the shuttle to the airport. (We had about two hours to kill.)

Pico sitting on a stool looking out the window

Under Pico's watchful eye, the world remains safe for democracy

Pico on his perch

Pico on his window perch

Pico out on the balcony

Pico out on the balcony with the bottom of the Space Needle rising in the background

Car shipping photos

August 2, 2010 at 5:01 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I took some photos when they loaded up our cars the other night. We should be getting them in ten or so days. The guy who drove them onto the truck made me a little nervous because the ramps were so narrow, but he did just fine. (I knew he had done it a million times and so I wasn’t really worried, but I still breathed a sigh of relief once all the back tires had made it onto the truck safely.)

Loading the Accord

Loading the Accord

Loading the Eos

Loading the Eos

Car-securing equipment

Car-securing equipment

Securing the Accord

Securing the Accord

The saga begins

August 1, 2010 at 11:41 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Blake sitting next to a box with Pico in it

Blake packing Pico

Well, as I type this I’m in the air between Austin and Seattle with Pico in a crate under the seat in front of me and Blake typing away on his laptop next to me. Fortuitously, Alaska Airlines apparently has some promotion going on that lets us get wifi for free until the end of July (I.E., today). This is extra nice, since otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to post an update until we were situated at the corporate housing tonight (and we will likely be pretty exhausted by then).

[Note: I did finish writing this on the plane yesterday, but I ended up not getting to post it until this morning.]

It’s been a pretty draining three days. Our Thursday was supposed to begin at 9 a.m. when the packers were to arrive to load all of our belongings into boxes. Unfortunately, the guy who said they’d arrive at 9 was incorrect and we awoke to the phone ringing at 8:1o and them standing outside our front door. This was especially unfortunate because the preceding night we underestimated the amount of time it would take us to separate stuff-going-to-storage from stuff-going-to-corporate-housing and also stuff-going-in-our-checked-bags. So although we intended to be in bed the night before at a reasonable hour, instead we were up until 4 a.m. We really didn’t appreciate the rude awakening (even though it wasn’t the fault of the people standing outside our door).

Boxes in the pink room

Boxes in the pink room

When the packers came in, they asked me to walk around and give them a quick rundown of what needed to be packed. So I did, and to our great dismay the head packer girl announced, “Oh, we can’t take that stuff” about several of our belongings! The most noteworthy was an entire case of Martini and Rossi Asti that was left over from our wedding. This was particularly unacceptable because a fellow from the moving company (Graebel) had already come by last Monday to do an inventory, and we had asked him about that and other belongings explicitly and he had said they’d be no problem. Furthermore, the head packer girl said “I don’t know, you’ll have to call your relocation coordinator and ask about it.” This was horrible news, because we couldn’t even get our coordinator on the phone when we had important things to ask her about like flights and dates and addresses and things. And it was too late to arrange to ship them (which would have cost a lot anyway) — our day was packed with errands and our cars were getting picked up Friday afternoon. We were pretty unhappy: between getting no sleep, being awakened suddenly, and told all this bad news, we were not at our most chipper.

Pico sitting on folded up blankets at the end of a long blue carpet

The king will see you now

It all worked out, though. The head packer girl called her superiors and got special papal dispensation to bring the box along despite their standard policies. By the end of the day we really liked the packers — they were incredibly fast and seemed to take a lot of care with our stuff. It was three girls, and two of them looked like they were in high school (which concerned me initially). But they were really great (with the possible exception of making me feel old by calling me “Ma’am” every time they addressed me).

On Friday the loaders came — they basically just spent the whole day picking up our stuff and putting it in the giant moving truck that parked outside our house. We had 140 boxes — 140! — and of course a whole house full of furniture. It took them about eight hours to get everything, and boy were we glad when it was done. It sounds like watching other people pack and load your stuff would be relaxing, but it was actually quite the opposite.

The moving truck

The moving truck

We basically worked all day too — draining gasoline from Blake’s various gas-powered possessions (lawn mower, string trimmer, sport bike, dirt bike), helping disassemble things, emptying out the fridge, cleaning stuff, making sure all the boxes were labeled to go to the right place, etc. Not to mention handing the other moving-related things: signing final papers with the realtor, getting still another estimate for carpeting, taking Pico to the vet to obtain his health certificate required by the airline ($50 — and nobody even looked at or asked for it once!), and etc.

Last night they picked up our cars and loaded them on a flatbed. Tom nicely drove us to dinner and then later we crammed his spiffy Mustang full of our luggage and he delivered us speedily to the Hilton at the Austin airport. (That funny round hotel that you always see as you’re driving in.) It was actually really pretty inside despite its slightly dated exterior. (We needed the hotel because our house had no furniture in it. Amazon will be reimbursing us.) Since we were the most tired people in three counties, we arranged for a late checkout and slept until lunchtime, and that enabled us to be well rested for the flight and the upcoming navigation around Seattle this evening.

So now here we are on the plane. We’ve finally, finally, finally overcome all the unpleasantness of moving and cleaning and loading and we’re in the air. The hard part is done and we’re on to smooth sailing (minus some turbulence we’re seeing up here over Colorado). The point holds, though — it’s a bright future!

“Hope you like rain!”: The climatological facts about Seattle

July 26, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Do you know what is the appropriate thing to say when you find that someone is moving to Seattle? I’ll give you a hint — it’s not “Hope you like rain!” As it happens, I do love love love rainy days — but Seattle is not the rain capital of the world (or even the US) that everybody thinks it is. From Wikipedia:

At 37.1 inches (942 mm)[80], [Seattle] receives less precipitation than New York, Atlanta, Houston, and most cities of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Seattle was also not listed in a study that revealed the 10 rainiest cities in the continental United States.[81] … Thunderstorms occur only occasionally. Seattle reports thunder on just seven days per year … For comparison Fort Myers, Florida reports thunder on 93 days per year. Kansas City reports 52 ‘thunder days’ and New York City reports 25.

Don’t get me wrong — Seattle does have more rain than Austin. But as a rain-lover this is just fine with me. Whenever I see a glimmering 20% chance of showers on the weather forecast, I watch the radar all day in hopes that whatever little baby shower is floating around will float right over here to our house and then hang out for a while. (This happens wayyy less than 20% of the time. I think there must be some geographic/climatic condition that makes our particular spot receive unusually little rain.)

Another less popular but still frequent response we often get is, “Hope you like snow!” This is also not the right answer. Due to Seattle’s proximity to the ocean, the weather actually stays pretty temperate despite its northern latitude. In fact, Seattle gets an average of only 13 inches of snow per year. Compare this with Cleveland’s 56.9 inches, New York City’s 28.4, and Lubbock’s 10.2. In fact, Seattle gets the same amount of snow annually as Richmond, Virginia — not exactly the snow capital of the world. (You can check the annual snowfall for a bunch of US cities at the NOAA’s site here.)

If you compare Seattle to Austin, here’s what you get:

Two charts displaying weather statistics for Austin and SeattleYou can see that Seattle is only a little bit colder in the winter but way less hot in the summer (and there is way more rain). If you want to see these charts on Wikipedia, here are Seattle’s, Austin’s and a page explaining how to read this kind of chart. Although I’m sure I’ll be a bit colder in the winter, I’m generally pretty happy about the upcoming change in climate.

So! What is the correct response when someone says, “We’re moving to Seattle”? It’s “Congratulations!” :D

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