Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Selling my car

Our other car had been broken into while I was visiting my friend previously and now that I was living with him I have seen other cars broken into. Every day I came out to the car I just kept dreading that it would be broken into making it that much harder to sell. Not only that, but the inspection sticker expired about a week ago and it is not like I can park it off the street so as to not attract attention. This means that I needed to drive it to work every day since they check the stickers when checking alternate side parking. (My friend got a ticket a day when his inspection expired.) But, since I already had switched my drivers licence over to my Dad's address it would have also led to a big ticket if I got pulled over since my licence didn't have the same state as my plates on the car so I was paranoid when I did drive. Basically I had every reason to sell it as fast as possible.
Trying to get my car sold has turned out to be much harder than I thought. I knew it would be a little harder to sell a convertible at the end of the summer but I was still expecting some responses. The first week I got nothing. I split up the hard top and the car so that I could list the car for lower and I got lots of responses for the hard top. The one person that did test drive it admitted at the end that he just wanted to test drive a Miata to see if he wanted to buy one one day. I did end up selling it for $500 less than I was expecting ($1000 less than I originally listed). It was only three days before I was leaving the country so I cut it a little close. The woman that did buy it had brought along a mechanic friend who could tell that the car was in excellent shape so they were able to look past the 220,000 miles that I think stopped others from even calling.
Once sold I had to turn in the licence plates to the DMV and get a code that I could not cancel my insurance until I had it. It would have been near impossible unless my friend had lent me his car. It makes me wonder what people do after they sell their car that don't have transportation to the DMV.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I've found something that is one of life's little pleasures. It is called Avena. Really it is just a drink made from oatmeal, cinnamon and cloves, but knowing that there are things that taste this good out there really help get you through the day. I live in a part of Brooklyn right now that has a heavy dominican influence and it is just how they have oatmeal, and I'm sure it is chalk full of sugar but it still hits the spot for me on a Sunday morning. You just can't beat it for breakfast when it is only two dollars.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pulling One's Self Up by the Bootstraps

The term boot when referring to computers is short for the bootstrap process. The concept of starting out with nothing and at the end of it getting a fully functional computer. (It was thought to be as easy as being able to pick yourself up off the floor as pulling hard enough on the straps of your boots.)
I feel like I am going through the same process in moving to London. They do not want anyone to arrive at student housing until Saturday. Since I am arriving Saturday night it gives me one day to become familiar with a completely new area where I don't know any of the store chains to buy the things I need that won't fit in my two suitcases before school starts on Monday. Then I learned that the Subway workers are going on strike that day. Luckily one of my pieces of luggage is a folding bike.
I thought to create a list of the things that are most important that first day, and what I have been using that I am currently taking for granted. The stuff that I will need to start with is so I can wake up the next morning for school. I hate eating fast food but spending all my time buying plates and pans isn't a good use of time. Really the top thing on the list is SIM card for my phone. With the built in GPS it will do the best job of making sure I don't get lost. From there it is bedding and toiletries. I also need to get a power adapter for my clock (It is the only thing that plugs in that I can not just use a plug adapter for.)
I figure that during the first week I can visit charity shops (I figure I might as well get in the habit of using new terms.) and fill out my kitchen needs. It is still up in the air if I will succeed or spectacularly fail (I would consider getting lost in the latter category) but that will need to be in a future post.

eBay is Not Worth the Cost or Time

I hate eBay now. What can I say they do just about everything they can to make it hard for users to anything without being nickeled and dimed for every little expense. I of course sold a lot (30) items on eBay trying to get some money for anything that was worth something but the experience has turned me against a company that I used to use all the time.
Since they own Paypal they are double dipping on the charges of selling something. (Between listing fees without any extras and Paypal they charge around 10% of the profit.) Trying to sell something that does not accept Paypal is quite impossible too. The User-interface to list items is awful but eBay has no incentive to make it better since the majority of their profit comes from large sellers that use custom built programs. What this means is that all the advertising they show of finding antiques and one of kind objects no longer apply since pretty much everything is from bulk sellers that are listing stuff from China. It averaged about 20 minutes per item listed to fill in all the check boxes correctly.
The next thing is the return policy. On items I stated quite clearly there were problems. The buyer admitted they did not read the description and eBay forces a refund through Paypal since they hold the money hostage. So I loose money but eBay looks good, I don't see why any independent sellers would use eBay if they were not already a monopoly.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

International Paperwork

I have started to get a taste of the problems of dealing with international issues. The problem started with the need to prove that I had around $10,000 for my visa. After all the issues with L. last year we no longer had it in the bank. So I applied for a school loan so that I could have a little piece of paper that says "I'm good for it" on my visa application.
One of the little known facts is that the way that student loans are handed out was changed as a rider on the health care bill this year. The way student loans were changed was a good thing but it makes schools need to use a different system. Of course going to an international school means it is not a high priority to learn a new system for just a few students. I became the "go-between" for the school financial office and Direct Loans. When there is a 5 hour time difference I had to make sure to make all my calls in the morning to get anyone in London. As time passed I was worried that I would not get the paperwork in time to turn in and get my visa before the start of school. (Of course I had already bought my plane ticket before reading the visa application that says: Do not buy the plane ticket until you have your visa.)
Anyway I mailed in all my visa paperwork with what I did have (around 30 pages) and then received the final approval for the school loan (Since this is my first time through the system I was not sure what paperwork I would get that was needed for the visa.) The British Consolate called me while I was up near my work for a dentist appointment so I was able to fax them the extra documents. I received my visa with two weeks until I fly out. If I had waited for the final document before mailing in my visa then I would have not got it in time for the flight and would have started school late. In this case ignorance helped the situation.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

5 years

I have been writing stuff down for 5 years now. My goal has been to average at least one post a week, some months I'm under, and some I write a lot but I find it funny that after 5 years I'm only 7 posts over the average of one a week.
I started this out using blogger, switched to iWeb in 2008, and am now switching back to blogger since I want to be able to update the site from more than just one computer. (keeping notes and writing them in later has been a huge pain.)
The blurb explaining this site says it is for me to read when I am old and senile but there is a lot of stuff that even now I only remember when I read it so I guess senility is here early. I am glad that I have been able to keep up this habit though even with just a perceived audience of one. I explained to my friend that it was the mythical invisible online reader waiting for more (that I know does not exist) that makes me write more. Otherwise this would not be online.
When I started this 5 years ago I was just starting grad school. I never thought I would be up for starting my PhD in London 5 years later. I also never saw all the medical problems coming last year for my wife and looking back 2009 seemed to be a pretty sparse year for posts. But the good, the bad, I'm glad I captured it when it was still semi-fresh in my mind. (Because it sure aint now)