apel: (train)
Having read lots and lots on ConsumerReports, the following is my shortlist for cars:
  1. Honda Fit (Sport)

  2. Hyundai Accent (2006 or newer)

  3. Kia Rio (Rio5) (2006 or newer)
The Honda Fit is the best car but it will also cost the most. $13,950 - $15,270 according to CR. The Accent and Rio actually start in the four digits for cars manufactured in 2006 or 2007. They are still acceptable from a safety and comfort point of view.

I'd like to test drive these three cars. Depending on the outcome, the list may get shorter. In particular the Honda Fit may not be comfortable enough. I may also test drive a Scion xB from 2004 or newer, if I can find one that fulfils all requirements at a good price.

This is the list of must-haves:
  • Side airbags

  • ABS

  • AC

  • Automatic transmission

  • Remote keyless entry

MP3 player connection is a nice-to-have. Listening to KFOG is fine, really. :-) I would prefer a car that's not black or silver but I may not be able to choose the colour.

Actually, now that I'm looking at dealer pages, I think the Honda Fit is out. There don't seem to be any around and the prices quoted for them are ridiculous. I'm not paying almost $20K. The Kias seem a lot more reasonable but I may have to let go of the ABS requirement.
apel: (train)
My rental car will have to be returned on Tuesday. Before then I need to either have arranged for another, hopefully cheaper, rental or bought a car. To that end I've just signed up with AAA, the automobile association in the US. Apart from roadside recovery they have lots and lots of discounts and rebates in hotels, restaurants, Target etc. Signing up costs $54 annually and there's a $17 enrolment fee. The first year the recovery services are pretty limited but after that you can upgrade your membership and get much more extensive assistance if you need it.

I also went ahead and got a quote for car insurance. For a Honda Fit Sport with good coverage I'd be paying $1433 for 6 months. Ouch. I'm going to call some other companies too. Geico and Progressive, to begin with. But the reason for the cost is that I don't have much US driving experience, so I doubt that it will come out much cheaper with other companies. Still, worth a try.

This weekend I'm hoping to to some test driving and maybe make a deal.
apel: (California)
Today it was 1979 on 10@10.

I'm Here

Jan. 16th, 2008 01:09 am
apel: (California)
I'm too tired to really take it in but writing it still makes me happy.
apel: (California)
During the day I've been developing a sore throat and now I'm starting to get sniffy too. I'd better go find something to drink, so I can knock this cold before it has me in its grip. Tomorrow's flight isn't going to help.

Tomorrow I'm leaving Newark at noon and arriving at San Francisco around 8. I got the cheapest flight I could find, so it has a stop over in Charlotte, NC. Charlotte is supposed to be pretty but the airport is probably just like all other airports. Hopefully I can buy another book or some magazines to while away the time.

I'm flying with US Airways. One leg is done by US Express and/or Mesa Airlines. Give it to me straight, just how bad are these airlines? These were the cheapest flights I could find, so my expectations aren't high.
apel: (California)
I'm going to pack up the PC now. Likely I won't be online again for at least 24 hours but it could be much more. See you on the other side!
apel: (stonehenge)
I'm having cheese and crackers with Kieron snoozing gently on the couch next to me. He's too cute.

Earlier today I went to the High Street to pick up some last minute items. A shredder, for instance. The weather was foul with rain and very high winds. Both when I left the building, and when I came back, I was looking for my cute little Micra. I hope her new driver treats her well.

When I got home, I started shredding. It's time consuming. Paper can only be pushed through one or two at a time. The manual says that up to seven sheets of paper should be fine, but anything more than 3-4 leads to an instant paper jam. I'd rather not think about how delicate the cheaper shredders are. This one cost £17. In addition, it can only be run for 2-3 minutes at a time. Then it needs to rest for 20 minutes.

The time between my bouts of shredding I've used to start packing. As I knew, I will have to leave behind a lot of things. The beautiful Laura Ashley fabrics I've been hoarding for years, for instance. Some books that mean a lot to me, too. Like two hardcover books of nature poetry with illustrations by Gordon Beningfield and my yoga books.

I've also installed the US map on my TomTom. Unfortunately I couldn't activate it because I couldn't find the product code. I'll have to put more time into finding it. Having discovered just how useful it is to have this little gadget direct me when I'm driving on new roads, there's no way I want to go back to using paper maps. Particularly when they're as expensive or more than the digital one.

The flat looks terrible. There's stuff everywhere. Kieron is going to be home tomorrow, so we'll deal with it together then. Still, I expect that it's hard to pack without creating a mess.
apel: (triskele_Animated)
I just sold the car for £325. That's a potential £75 less than I would have gotten from a dealer but it saves me the uncertainty and hassle of going over to Gloucester. I'm happy.
apel: (red signal)
My current phone, a Sony Ericsson T610 will work for calls and texts in the US.

Costs from T-Mobile
Making calls (any country, anytime): 55p/min
Receiving calls (any country, anytime) : 55p/min
Retrieving voicemail: 55p/
Text to UK: 40p
Text to non-UK: 50p

There is a cost for every voicemail left. I wonder if I can turn it off, in addition to recording a discouraging greeting. Looks like I can bar calls from all numbers except a few specified ones. That may be a good idea.

I'll probably keep the phone turned off except when I'm writing a text to Kieron. I'll have to get a new phone ASAP once I'm on the right side of the pond.

Wonder how much money I can load onto the phone. I won't be able to top up once I'm out of the country. Somehow the very first address I registered got stuck in their system and they'll only take top-ups from cards with the same billing address as the contact address.

New Ticker

Dec. 27th, 2007 02:11 pm
apel: (California)

My flight to Newark leaves on 13 January.
apel: (hand)
  • Limescale around plug hole in bath tub

  • Glue residue on inside of shower partition

  • Bookshelf backside in bedroom

  • Coffee table

  • Remaining cleaning materials, incl. hoover

  • Plastic protection of livingroom curtains

  • Spotlight light bulbs in livingroom and hallway
apel: (hand)
Wet paint signs on living room window
Clip off stray carpet fibres around edges of rooms and at thresholds

Get rid of table
Run rinse programme on washing machine
Use One Shot on bathroom sink
Clean toilet
Write instructions and check for carpet cleaners
Clean kitchen counters
Top up phone
Pack stuff on bedroom shelves into bags

Wash off shower partition
Remove masking tape from living room window
Throw away duvets
Pack everything into the car
One last trip through the flat with a sponge and tea towel
Throw away cleaning stuff
One last trip through the flat to make sure I got everything
Go to Cheltenham -- yay!
apel: (red signal)
I slept relatively well tonight. The answer to the question was definitely to put the thermarest on top of the yoga mat, though. The thermarest is very good at insulating from the ground. I'm on the groundfloor with a concrete floor and no cellar beneath, so the floor is always cold here. But I had to turn down the under-sheet electric blanket to 1-2, that's how warm I was. Normally in bed I have it set to 4.

It's nearly three o'clock and I haven't even started vacuuming. Not done anything in the bathroom either. That's because I've been packing in the livingroom. It looks a lot better now. There's space on the floor and it will be so much easier to pack the car, not to mention actually vacuum.

But it makes me doubt if I'll be able to leave on Friday and really only have the carpet shampoo left. Maybe I should stay till Saturday. That would also allow me to drive during daylight hours.

I'm going to need to make a charity shop run too. That should be the last. Oh, and I need to take the recliner and the coffee table to the dump. That will take time. It's much better to do that tomorrow than on Saturday.

The next few days has lots of rain in the forecast so I'm afraid that I won't have any chance to clear up in the garden. That's too bad. I was looking forward to it.
apel: (mellow)
It's going to be interesting to see how well I sleep tonight.

The mattress is outside, waiting to be picked up way early tomorrow morning. Instead I have a number of soft things on the floor. If they're enough remains to be seen.

Right now the burning question on my mind is: Is it better to have the yoga mat and thermarest side by side or on top of each other?
apel: (hand)
Yesterday was all about the kitchen and living room. Today I'm going to tackle the bathroom. The plan looks like this:

Today: Bathroom
Tomorrow: Vacuum whole flat
Friday: Garden and finishing touches. Drive to Cheltenham in the evening.
Some day next week: Shampoo carpets

Today I also need to take out my mattress. I hope it's stopped raining, or it's going to be unpleasant as well as hard work.

Oh, and I need to repaint the window sill because over the weekend a mysterious finger print showed up. I'm 80% sure that I didn't do that. Grmbl. Yesterday I sanded it. I'll paint it on Friday so I don't need to breathe the fumes. After the previous coat, my sinuses hurt even though I tried not spending time in the living room for a few days afterwards.

It remains to be seen if I can do anything in the garden on Friday. There's rain in the forecast.

On Friday I'm not going to try and get out early. I've tried that twice now and both times it has meant that the drive takes closer to 4 hours than the normal 2. If I leave by seven, that's early enough. Might even leave it later still.
apel: (hand)
I knew when I agreed to stay Sunday night that today was going to be largely wasted. But I did get some stuff done so it wasn't a complete waste.

The oven is now about as clean as it will get. I only wish I'd come up with the idea to use the steelbrush on the steam cleaner first. That was what actually worked. I've also cleaned the remaining kitchen cabinets. What remains in the kitchen is:
  • fridge

  • freezer

  • floor
Now I'm trying not to get drunk on Baileys. That's hard because it's so tasty. My preferred method is to mix it half-and-half with vanilla soya milk. Yum!
apel: (hand)
It's Wednesday and I'm done with one room. That doesn't bode very well for finishing on Friday, as I was hoping. It looks as if next Friday may be more realistic. I'm going to call the council and ask if I can reschedule the pick-up of my mattress for next Thursday. If I'm going to be here a while still, I will need something comfortable to sleep on.

The plan right now looks like this:
  • Today: Hallway, including two closets

  • Thursday: Kitchen, including floor and windows

  • Friday: Pack and go to Cheltenham

  • Monday: Bathroom,

  • Tuesday: Vacuum whole flat

  • Wednesday: Shampoo carpets and final move to Cheltenham
I would much prefer if I could shave a few days off this but I don't want to do a shoddy job or leave stuff out that needs doing. In fact, I'd prefer it if I could also spend half a day in the garden too, tidying up the worst. It doesn't look nice at all with all the wilted, frost-damaged plants.

There are a couple of options for giving me more time. For instance I could go to Cheltenham on Saturday instead of Friday. That would give me a whole extra day. Or I could not go to Cheltenham at all. That would give me three more days. But I know from experience that I'd miss Kieron like crazy. If Kieron comes here, on the other hand, we could do some stuff together. That could actually be fun. Plus he could take some stuff with him back to Cheltenham. Or maybe I need the break over the weekend. Going to Cheltenham takes time but I love being there with Kieron.

I guess I'll talk to Kieron about it today or tomorrow. He's at a conference in Birmingham until midday today.
apel: (viola)
I've painted the bay window ledge today. The previous painter did a shoddy job -- no prep at all, by the looks of it. They just painted straight on the existing gloss. So of course when I took sandpaper to it, the way you're supposed to, it came off in bits. Hopefully it won't look too uneven. There's no way I was going to sand it down all the way. Not when I just wanted to cover up a stain.

The paint is supposed to cover in a single application. My experience tells me that there's no such thing as single layer cover but this stuff is so thick, it might just work. We'll see tomorrow.

The paint doesn't smell too bad but I'm going to work in the bedroom now anyway and I've closed the door to the living room. I've taken out the garbage with the used brush too. I got a three-brush set so I have another if I need to apply a second coat.

I'm sitting in bed, having the last left-over croissant from the weekend and some squash. The steam cleaner sits by the door, making hissing and clicking noises while it's heating up. I'm going to tackle the windows from the inside in a while.

I'm not sure what to do about the blinds. They're some sort of starched lace. Kind of the roller blind version of net curtains. They're also filthy. But how do you clean blinds? It's not like I can take it down and chuck it in the washing machine. I don't dare take the steam cleaner to it either. What if it shrinks? I guess I'll vacuum it and be done with it. That's really all I can do.

My plan was to be done by Friday but I'm really doubting that now. In theory I've got till Friday 21 December. But of course I'd much rather stay with Kieron than keep cleaning here.
apel: (twitching)
I just called the TV License people on 0870 241 6468. They have 6 choices in their first level menu. None of them is for cancelling your license. So I took the last one, which is "all other inquiries". On that choice, there are two more choices. One of them is the same as on the previous level. The other is too, because it's "all other inquiries."

Still, that's not the worst. If all their representatives are busy, they direct you to the website or ask you to call again at a less busy time, *click* and they hang up on you. Beautiful, isn't it?

The reason I called in the first place is that their website says to call them for a cancellation form.
apel: (cheltenham)
  • Take apart living room cabinet

  • Drive charity bags to Oxfam

  • Top up tyres

Load up car
  • living room cabinet

  • black filing cabinet

  • small shelf

  • green suitcase

  • camera bag

  • etc
apel: (Default)
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