25 October 2009

And I thought the roads in Boston were bad....

Just an opportunity to vent here...

This is the closest approximation to what I imagine the Seventh Circle of Hell to look like:

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So, Seven Corners (a stone's throw from Oakwood) is quite possibly the biggest beating of all time w/r/t roadways and their various nuances. I would have loved to use another descriptive term, but my wife wanted me to keep it clean. This particular intersection happens to be where pretty much everything you'll ever need while staying at Oakwood is located. Food store, clothing stores, Target, Home Depot, CVS, amazing Asian food, liquor store, etc. are all located in this miasma of urban planning.

I drove regularly in Boston for 8 years. It sucked. This was in the Big Dig's heyday, where traffic patterns changed on a weekly basis. Even on the worst day, no traffic issue in Boston could possibly come close to Seven Corners. 28/3/93/Red Auerbach Way in Boston is a pleasant walk in the park, comparatively.

1) It takes 10 minutes to reverse direction. Lights are incredibly long and not even remotely synced to alleviate "blocking the box."

2) Nothing is clearly marked or identified off of Arlington Blvd. You get off on these little access roads and hope to hell you took the right one. All the while, through traffic is doing 60 m.p.h. in all lanes and getting impatient with you, you silly out-of-towner.

3) Planning on taking a quick jaunt out on a weekend to do some errands? Are your destinations on opposite sides of Arlington Blvd.? Good luck to you, my friend. Block out 3+ hours.

My advice is this: drive around this intersection late at night, reversing directions frequently... only then can you get a feel for which lanes are used for what purposes. And DO NOT TRUST Google Maps. They lie. I know the Google Street View car (or maybe trike) has been through here, but there's no way they actually tried to navigate this area in any logical or sensible fashion.

Welcome to Seven Corners!


Childproofing your Oakwood Apartment

If you're like us and have a small, active, and adventurous child, you'll want to take note of the issue with the balconies here. We're up on the 7th floor, and it's a long way down. When we first saw the balcony, both of us agreed that the space in between the railings was just a hair too wide. One trip to Home Depot later (and a hell of a headache while there - trying to determine the best method), we made it almost impossible for the wee lad to propel himself off the balcony to certain death.

Keep it in mind when you come to Oakwood with your infant/toddler. Better safe (and ugly as sin) than sorry.


22 October 2009

Packing Out - Where are my sunglasses?

We survived two pack outs! Even after a week of throwing things out and organizing, it was a whirlwind and several things were inadvertently packed into our Household Effects (HHE), a.k.a. the boxes stored in a warehouse until we depart DC for our first post. Rumor has it that we could be without our precious stuff for up to ten months depending on the kind of language training I might need. Admittedly, my Type A personality made it difficult to allow others to pack for us. Dave loved it! (No heavy lifting!)

The movers (from Miller Brothers - an agent of Nationwide) were frighteningly efficient. They packed everything and loaded it in a day. You can imagine the pace with which they worked. Here is a list of some of the things we forgot to take out of their devastating path:

Dave's sunglasses
Dave glasses (see a theme yet?)
Dave's winter coats
Aidan's lion and frog :(
Many pairs of shoes we could have used
Almost lost Dave's suits - he had to bargain to get them back out of the box

Our advice: don't even think that you will have the ability to "tell" them about what goes or doesn't -- separate in advance. We did that about 80% and still lost some things in the end. I feel the worst about the lion. . .ten months can be a long time to a one-year-old. But a newly discovered leopard at Nana's house fixed that situation for now.

Above is a picture of what the Unaccompanied Air Baggage (UAB) boxes look like. Since we are a family of three, we had 550 lbs to work with, or the equivalent of three of these boxes. Whatever we can fit in the UAB comes with us to DC. So hard to decide!

Here is Dave glaring at Jack. The dogs used the chaos to their advantage to sneak lots of "bed time" while we were packing. Moving them overseas will be quite the challenge, so stay tuned.

After everything was gone, we still spent two days cleaning, painting and doing little fixes to our condo. We're putting it on the market to see what happens. Since we may never see it again, we took a (tired) family photo as we were locking the door for the last time:

Right now we are homeless in Buffalo. We packed out some things from my parents house, and are staying at the family home before our drive to DC. We're hoping to say hello to my brother's first child, who should be making an appearance any day now!

On a final note, here's Aidan enjoying his goodbye cupcake at the going away party thrown by Dave's family:

A-100 starts Monday!! Wish us luck!