Thursday, April 29, 2010

Various Updates

So far, I like the new therapist. He's very calm and relaxed, and we've already traded photographs of our cats. I see him for the second time on Tuesday, so we'll see how things go.

School is a crazed blur at the moment, with more piles o' grading and end-of-semester ceremonies (one of which, tomorrow, I'm MCing) than I can keep track of. The chaos is of course compounded by my grieving brain, which would perceive the world as at least somewhat chaotic even if everything else were calm and serene.

The chaos is also compounded by our home-improvement project: The Ducts. (Remember that great line from GalaxyQuest? "Ducts! Why does it always have to be ducts?") The contractor and his crew did most of the work on Monday, replacing all of our ducts, which had collapsed or were nonexistent. (The contractor said, "Your crawl space is really well heated. The spiders love it down there.") The work would have been finished on Monday, too, save for one complication: the contractor had hoped that the main metal duct from the first to second story was intact. When the crew got in there, they discovered that it was neither metal nor intact: it was plastic, and had collapsed.

This means that our ductwork was never up to code, but nothing about the house has ever been up to code, so we shouldn't have been surprised. Every contractor we've ever hired has turned interesting colors, ranging from sheet white to purple, and said some version of, "This is the worst work I've ever seen." The winner so far was the ashen plumber we'd hired to fix our front-yard sprinkler system, who informed us that the system was so far out of code that we risked infecting the entire Truckee Meadows with cholera if there were ever a flood. Our front yard is now covered with tasteful rocks: no sprinkling required.

I can't wait to see what happens when we have our old deck removed.

But I digress. Anyway, no first-to-second-floor duct meant an extra day of work and another $500 dollars, plus holes in the wall because the workers have to pull out sections of sheetrock to install the new duct. Sigh. The good news is that when this is done, we may actually get heat and air-conditioning upstairs! Woo-hoo! The downstairs is already heating much more efficiently, because all the ducts work now. I'm sure the spiders are feeling chilly, but they can relocate to Vegas.

Meanwhile, I've continued having trouble with my BlackBerry, which will only recharge if it's plugged into my laptop (not an outlet), and which isn't holding a charge as well as it used to. The battery's pretty new and worked beautifully before this, so I suspect something funky's up with the phone.

My two-year contract isn't up until September, but I'm due for an early upgrade to a BB 8530, which has a better camera and trackball. The problem is that we're paying Verizon way too much money at the moment, partly because Dad and Fran's phones are still on the account. Gary uses one of them, but he only uses the phone under absolute duress, as in direct order, as in "Be sure to bring your phone so you can call me when your plane lands in Philly." I'd gone to Verizon stores here and in Philly and gotten confusing and conflicting information about what I could do when. Today, I finally called Verizon Customer Service.

I had to talk to three different reps in three different departments, but I think I have it figured out now. If I go to a single line and cut back my number of minutes -- I don't use the phone that much, and could use it less if necessary -- I can keep my all-important Enterprise Server and unlimited data plan and pay about $25 less a month than I'm paying now. Meanwhile, Gary can switch his phone over to a prepaid plan where he's charged ninety-nine cents a day every day he uses the phone, plus ten cents a minute, although calls to other Verizon phones are free. Since in most cases he'd be calling me, and since he normally won't even touch the device, this means we'll probably be paying about a dollar a year for his phone, which is a heckuva lot better than the $120/year we're currently paying to have his phone on my plan.


I wrote all of this down and made the phone reps swear that the store reps will honor the numbers. We'll see if that happens. If not, I can probably nurse this phone along until September, when my contract expires, at which point I might switch to T-Mobile. But I'd rather have a nicer phone now.

Luckily, I remembered to ask about phone charges during our Alaska trip. If I'm on land in Alaska, the same charges apply as always. If I'm on land in Canada, I have to pay the international rate of twenty cents a minute or something, which is a bit much. Cruise ships have their own cell towers, evidently, and when I gave the rep our cruise line and ship name, he looked it up for me and informed me that my roaming charges on board would be $2.49 a minute.

Yowsa! Also, even if I don't make any calls, data's mind-bogglingly expensive too, so using the phone for e-mail access is a bad idea. The moral of this story? Don't even turn the phone on until we're on American soil. I will, however, spring for one of the mega-pricey onboard internet packages; I can't lose all access to e-mail.

I'm really glad I asked. We could have wound up with one heckuva Verizon bill for May!

Elsewhere in the land of "doing our job to support the economy!", today I signed up for a summer course at PSR, as well as a one-day workshop about nonviolence. Right now I'm trying to negotiate with the housing people to get a dorm room like the one I've stayed in the previous two times I've been there: a single room with its own sink but a bathroom down the hall. They're evidently now putting people either in suites or in pricey single apartments. I don't want to pay $100 a night for an apartment, and I don't like suites because there's usually weird social pressure with people in the other bedrooms: do you hang out with them, or not? My room's where I go to be by myself when I don't want to socialize and don't want to be disturbed by other people socializing. Berkeley weeks are semi-retreats for me, so this is important, but if it doesn't work out, it doesn't. They haven't given me a categorical "no" yet, so that's a good sign.

Okay, I think that's it. Time to work on emptying my study closet (a truly terrifying prospect) so the duct guys can cut large holes in it tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah the onboard roaming fees on cruise ships are a killer. I found out when we were cruising to Alaska and there was a problem at the office that I had to sort out via telephone. :P


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