Friday, June 13, 2008

Visa? Figured It Out

Snuffles had good news today - I do not need to drive to the Korean Consulate in Houston to get my A-3 Visa; I can get it after I arrive in Korea. Yay!! One less thing to deal with.

I made the foolish decision to ship my air mattress on ahead and just use the box spring I still have here (which is destined for the dumpster, having served a long and faithful life). Big mistake! This box spring is horrid!! Very painful, with hard things lumping up all over it.

After the movers finished their work and left me in my empty home, I got busy. I found a guy on craigslist who had a small portable tv to sell for $15. Sold!!! He was even kind enough to drive it all the way over here (he lives at UTSA) to deliver it, so I gave him an extra $5 for doing so.

Dashed upstairs with my precious tv only to realize that I had one coaxial cable. Going from the wall to the cable box. Hmmm . . . where did I put those other cables? Oh yeah. In a box. In a crate. Now on a ship on its way to Korea.

Then my friend Kristin and her husband arrived. They decided to do a spontaneous weekend at Six Flags and Sea World; I invited them to camp out in my vacant apartment with me. We then headed out for dinner at Johnny Carino's but first, a stop at Target. I picked up a coaxial cable and then I spied a full-size air mattress on the shelf. For under $17!!! No more lousy box spring.

On to Johnny Carino's!!! It started out promising but then the Curse of the Gingersmurf appeared. Those of you who have eaten in a restaurant with me will immediately nod their heads knowingly; those who haven't will quickly understand.

Brian, our waiter, took our drink orders. No Italian creme sodas available tonight as they are out of Sprite for the creme soda machine. Kristin's husband ordered a Dr. Pepper instead. Kristin, being only 20 years old, ordered a Virgin Pina Colada. The menu offered only "Italian" margaritas (with amaretto? eww!) but Brian assured me that the bartender could make a regular margarita for me. Kristin and I also ordered iced water with lemon wedges. And Kristin requested an appetizer of "Fire Sticks".

Soon our drinks appeared and we placed our meal orders. For me, chicken scallopinni and a wedge salad. I also said that this would be two separate checks for the table. Now, about those drinks. Iced water? Check. Lemon wedge? No. "Regular" margarita looked promising but I quickly discovered it tasted strongly of . . . pineapple?!?! I sent it back right away and stuck with my un-lemon-wedged water instead. Kristin said her Virgin Pina Colada tasted different than it usually did but she gamely took a few sips here and there.

The salads arrived and were fine. How can you screw up a salad? We realized then that we never received the bread for our table - Carino's always serves warm Italian bread with roasted garlic and olive oil for dipping. We flagged down our waiter and he brought our bread out for us.

Then our entrees arrived. The spaghetti accompanying it was gummy. Gummy! And then we realized the appetizer had never arrived. With Brian out of site, we got the attention of another waitress and asked her to find out about the appetizer. She came back with an explanation that the Fire Sticks were frozen but they were cooking them now.

Enough. I asked Brian to ask the manager to stop by our table. Charles came over immediately and asked what he could do to help us. While Brian stood right there. I explained the mix-ups in our meal so far and he apologized and said that he would discount our bill by half.

After he left, I thought about how uncomfortable it was to talk to the manager with the waiter standing right there, as some of what had occurred had been his fault. Brian reappeared with our bill. Wait, what? Yep, ONE check.

I asked another staff member to please have Charles come back to our table. While we waited, I noticed the bill. One item in particular. A Pina Colada with well rum.

I first told Charles that I had been very uncomfortable having to discuss our disappointing experience so far while the waiter stood and listened. I explained that we had requested two checks and the waiter failed to split it, giving us only one. And then, I pointed out the NON virgin Pina Colada - and told him, "You just served alcohol to an underage person."

Charles called Brian over immediately. Brian's explanation? Oh it was a virgin colada. He just entered it as a regular one on the bill. Charles seemed satisfied and said he would go get the check split for us.

He returned and of course, we had more questions. The charge for a virgin Pina Colada is the same as for an alcoholic beverage? No, he said, but it's okay; I took the charge for the drink off the bill entirely. I tasted the drink and after a few times I could definitely feel the warming affect confirming that there was indeed alcohol in the beverage.

The check? Charles explained that it was still one but he had not charged me for my meal or margarita. I scrutinized the check. We were charged for two soft drinks when only one had been ordered and served. The charge for the margarita was still on the bill as was the charge for my dinner. I circled and explained and he went back to finally bring us two checks.

Mine came to to $7.23. I paid with a $20 and Brian returned with my change. $12. Even. Oh, he said - you want the "jingle"? I don't have change but I can get it from the bar, he said. And then he went the opposite direction of the bar and we could see and hear him asking other employees if they had any change. He finally gave up and gave me a dollar, saying he couldn't get change.

I rummaged in my purse and found twenty-three cents to pay the difference. No way was I going to be anything less than accurate.

Now you have a good understanding of The Curse of the Gingersmurf!! I'm rather used to it by now; there's usually something screwed up with my meal!!

Now that I have bored you with the tiniest details, I am off to contact Johnny Carino's corporate office.

The Art of Moving: Day 3

Up and at 'em, dressed and ready yet again by 8:00 AM. Let me tell you, I am completely exhausted by now! Add to that, a bad arthritis day with my spine and neck feeling like they were on fire.

Different moving company for the items to be put into storage. Although two arrived at 9:00 AM, Jean and Randy, Randy left soon after. Apparently he was just dropping Jean off and helping bring up the packing supplies.

Jean got right to work but I did notice that she was constantly on her cell phone. With a 15 year old and an 11 year old at home with no school (summer time), I guess I can understand. The kids called quite often!

Jean did a good job packing and worked steadily. I felt bad when I realized it was 1:00 and I had yet to offer lunch!! No problem; I dashed next door to Rudy's for some of their fabulous brisket and BBQ sauce and she and I enjoyed lunch and a little chatter.

About 3:00, three or four guys joined Jean and took on the loading of the packed boxes. As hot and humid as it was outside, I didn't hear a lot of complaining about it.

They completely finished up just around 6:00 PM and off they went to stash the rest of our belongings in a warehouse somewhere. See you again in two or three years, stuff!!

By now, there wasn't much left in the carolinkorea department store, so there was no shopping in there. However, and I honestly can't be sure, but I have reason to believe that Jean helped herself to my bottle of Aleve. The last I knew, it was in the kitchen but when I went to get some for my very painful back, I couldn't find the bottle. I don't recall moving the bottle, but if I did, I'll find it again and I will apologize on this post, just to be honest with my readers. I didn't say anything to Jean about it; I really can't prove it for sure.

The Art of Moving: Day 2

The loaders arrived around 9:30 AM. They asked about the Goodwill stuff in the bathroom and I again said help yourself! Hey, the less I have to drag down three flights of stairs and drive across town, the better.

First order of business? Shopping at the carolinkorea department store!! Once they finished making their selections, Albert, Lamar and Paul set right to work. Every piece of furniture was completely wrapped in padded paper before being loaded on the truck. I can't complain about the quality of the work, they all did a fabulous job.

About an hour into their work, Albert came to me with his cell phone. His sister, Liz, was one of the Rabid Raccoons. She sounded as though she was about to cry! She asked me to please write a note to her boss verifying that I had told the Rabid Raccoons that they could take the items they had. Their boss, Evil Edna, had accused them of stealing from me and when Rabid Raccoon said, "Call and ask her!", Evil Edna sneered, "I'm not going to waste my time."

That ticked me off. If you honestly think your employee is stealing from me, you'd damn well better call me.

I immediately wrote a letter explaining the situation and explaining that today's crew were also given items to take home. I also requested that Evil Edna call me immediately. It's been well over 24 hours and she has yet to call.

When it came time for lunch, I had to call for pizza since I didn't have much left from the day before. The boys really enjoyed the pizza and the cut veggies though.

Later in the afternoon, the Rabid Raccoons joined the day's crew to help get the job done. They all worked hard and constant but I did get a little irked when some of the crew started asking me to go get beer for them. Definitely against the rules, and at this point - well, I'm not their financial support system. I managed to defer the requests graciously.

Finally, around 8:30 PM, all of my HHG designated to be shipped to Korea were packed and loaded into the large wooden crates, almost six full crates in all!!

Day 3 is next!

The Art of Moving: Day 1

I have a lot to catch up on here so I'll break it into bits.

Day One of moving (three days in all) was the packing of all my household goods (HHG) going to Korea.

At about 9:30 AM, the Rabid Raccoons arrived. Rabid Raccoons, you say? Do let me explain.

Two ladies, Nancy and Liz, were my packing team. After showing them around the apartment and explaining which areas were pack and which were not, I made the fatal error of letting them know that the items in the guest bathroom were not to be packed as they were designated for Goodwill. I told them that if they wanted anything in there, they were more than welcome to it.

Rabid Raccoons. That is the only way I can describe the wild rumpus that ensued. Free stuff!!Rummage, rummage, rummage! They tore that room apart!!

Helpful Moving Hint: Do not inform the crew that you are discarding items until AFTER they have packed and loaded everything else.

After a shopping spree in the carolinkorea department store, the Rabid Raccoons determined that they needed more boxes and packing materials as they did not have enough for all my HHG to be shipped. Logic being the guiding force of the day, it was obvious that both of the Rabid Raccoons needed to vacate the apartment and go back to the warehouse to get the additional materials. Both of them. The errand takes about an hour.

Both of them.

Fool that I am, I would have opted to have one go back and the other start packing; get a little head start. What do I know? I am not a professional mover.

At about 11:45 they returned from the warehouse with an abundance of packing supplies. 11:45 you say? Why, that sounds like lunch time!

I had anticipated a four or five man crew over two days so I picked up three deli trays the day before, each of which served 15 - 20 people. A tray of mini subs, a tray of fresh cut fruit, a tray of veggies and dip. Please note, trays that serve 15 - 20 people serve only two Rabid Raccoons. Especially if at the end of the day, the Rabid Raccoons take home 75% of what is left on the tray, including all the fruit.

Additionally, telling Rabid Raccoons that they are welcome to take any of the Goodwill items if they like also translates into "anything in this house" - not that they grabbed it, but boy, they asked about everything!! "What about this?" It got rather tiresome quickly.

So at about 12:30 PM, the Rabid Raccoons commenced packing. They got it all done by about 8:00 or 8:30 PM, although I am sure they could have been done by 7:00 if Rabid Raccoon Nancy had used my phone a lot less for personal calls.

I'll post Day 2 in a little bit.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

One More Day!

The first round of movers will be here tomorrow!! I am READY. Enough sorting, organizing, stepping around piles. Be gone, stuff!!!

I picked up some deli trays at the local grocery store this afternoon. Mini subs, veggies, and fruit, and a couple packets of bakery M&M cookies. I have beverages chilling in the fridge as well. It all looks so yummy but I will be good and save it for the movers tomorrow.

Still waiting to hear from Snuffles again. He said he would be going out to look at apartments yesterday and then would send me photos, but I guess he got busy with inprocessing.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Checking In

Snuffles has arrived safely in the Land of the Morning Calm! I got a quick yahoo! IM from him saying he was there and he was going to sleep and to let his mom know.

After a long rough 24 hours, I'm feeling refreshed and renewed. In order to get Snuffles to the airport at 4:30 AM, I had stayed up all night. So from 9:00 AM on Saturday until midnight Sunday night, I was awake!! Not particularly coherent, but awake. I slept very well last night so I'm ready to keep pressing on.

I'm just tying up all the loose ends in terms of getting our belongings together for the packers. Don't get me wrong, I love a military move because someone else does all the packing and schlepping. But it does drive me a bit batty (no comments from the peanut gallery, thank you!) to have piles of stuff just laying around rather than being able to pack them myself into neat, tidy boxes. Sealed boxes I can tolerate, piles of stuff - not so much.

My wonderful friend Stephanie from up at Ft. Hood is going to come down and stay overnight on Wednesday so I am looking forward to that. Hopefully, the packers will have everything packed and loaded on Wednesday night and not have to finish up on Thursday so I can enjoy a nice leisurely visit with Steph, but we will work around whatever the situation is. I have a few bottles of wine that should be consumed so I am certain we will have fun one way or another.

Today I need to call TMO and find out if the movers are permitted to pack and ship glass bottles of barbeque sauce. You Texas people will know what I am talking about - Rudy's is right next door to me and I could almost cry to think of spending two or three years with no Rudy's "sause" to sustain me!! Good gracious, that stuff is fabulous!!!

Enough procrastinating; I am off to wrap this mess up and call it done.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Here We Go!

Productive day today.

First the important stuff you are just dying to know about! The missing movie disc from last night!! I called the store first thing this morning and spoke with the manager on duty. He graciously offered to replace it, all I had to do was come into the store. I sweetly guided him to a better solution, where he called other Game Stop stores closer to me and located another copy of the disc so that I could go and pick it up without spending all that money in gas and wasting all my time. So I have to say, thank you Steve at the Converse Game Stop; he located another copy at a store very close to me and I was able to run and pick it up. I also managed to pick up a couple more movies to go with the PSP.

And, since I was in the area to get the disc, I scheduled a massage. I've had a membership at Massage Envy for a year and after today's massage, I have one more left on my membership. I'm saving that for either after the movers are done or after I lug all the leftover goodies to Goodwill.

Afterwards I stopped at Kohl's and picked up a couple pairs of shorts and some more sleeveless tops for the summer. They had a pretty good sale so I am happy. I haven't really bought new clothes for the summer in a couple of years and what I have is starting to show some wear. Although custom made clothing is readily available in Korea, I am a larger size than what is available off the rack there. With a hot summer on its way, I decided to be prepared when I land.

While I was out working myself to the bone (LOL!!) Snuffles was home doing the final sort through of his office and packing up his suitcases. Now he's sleeping soundly and I am drinking iced tea and keeping myself busy because . . . I will be staying up all night! His flight to Korea tomorrow leaves early early EARLY in the morning and I will be taking him to the airport at 4:00 AM. There is no point in my sleeping; in order to do so, I have to take my medicine or I won't sleep at all. It's a lot easier for me to just stay up all night and then nap a bit the next day.

So I am keeping myself busy watching some cable tv and I've just downloaded a game demo to play on my computer. I am also working on organizing his "sorted office" and it's a good thing I am doing so!

After he signed out of work and went on leave, I laundered his uniform so it would be clean and ready when he got to Korea. He is responsible for emptying the pockets and removing the belt because I tend to miss those things and end up washing more than just a uniform.

Today, in his packing frenzy, he turned the apartment upside down looking for his uniform belt. It's disappeared! Don't worry, there is a happy ending to this story, he just doesn't know it yet.

While I was sorting through his office, I found - in the back! of a bookcase - his belt! Hidden away! I have no idea how he managed to get it in there but at least it is now found and he will not be out of compliance with his uniform. He will be so happy when he gets up in the (middle of the night) morning.

I'm off now to keep myself busy and awake.