Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Selling the Plymouth Fury Wagon

I had advertised the Plymouth Fury Station Wagon since January, but there was no buyer. I thought that this would be a great car, for a family, for a car enthusiast. But nobody of the people who called me and had come to look at it, committed to buying it. Maybe my asking price was too high - but it is a great large piece of steel, and it participated in movies! In the end, I had no other choice than to donate it to a non-profit organisation. They picked it up the day we left.

The 1971 Plymouth Fury Custom Suburban Station Wagon. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Furniture Pick-up

The moving company arrived in the morning, around 10:00am. Instead of the announced 20 ft container, they brought a large truck - which could hold actually more volume. The reasonw as that the containers at the Long Beach harbour were not available, due to a strike a few days ago. And this turned actually our to be good - instead of 900 cu feet, the size of a 20 ft container, our overall volume of good turned out to be 1250 cu feet. This meant that our stuff would be in a shared 40 ft container - not an ideal situation, but we have no other choice.

The packers worked non-stop until 18:00. When they left, I realised that they had forgotten to pack two small furniture pieces from the kitchen...

The moving truck. Posted by Picasa

Now the house was empty - sort of. There were still items there which we had decided not to ship, because they were would be of no use to us in the UK. We gave away a few things to our neighbors, and the really old stuff we just threw out.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Packing - and Schedule Complications

As Lena and I were packing our belongings into boxes, we realised how much had been accumulated over those past 10 years in Thousand Oaks. I kept driving to the local U-haul store in Newbury Park, picking up more and more boxes. As I was adding up the volume, it became clear that this would not fit all into one single 20 ft container as originally planned. Also, we realised that we would not be able to complete the packing in time for the originally set pickup date.

Piles of boxes in every room. Posted by Picasa

As we tried to move the date by a few days, it turned out that we would also need to rearrange our flights back to Leeds. But my ticket on Delta was non-refundable, no changes allowed... I had to abandon it and get a new ticket. In order not to spend
money, I used my collected Northwest miles to get a free ticket. But I could not get a flight on Delta, instead I had to book on Continental.

Since I planned to be back in the US at the end of October for a conference in Santa Barbara, I arranged for roundtrip tickets. A single one-way ticket usually is four times more expensive: The price for a single one way ticket is in most cases double the price of a round trip ticket, so it is even cheaper to buy the round trip ticket and not use the return portion.

Still, for the return from Santa Barbara, I would need eventually one-way tickets. I found them with the Irish airline Air Lingus - they were the only one, where a single ticket costs actually half of the price of a round trip ticket. Very reasonable - so I bought the ticket there. Also, this is the very fastest way to fly from LA to the UK: leaving in the evening at 17:00 from LAX, then after a stopover in Dublin, arrival at Manchester the next day at 12:50. I have not found any faster flight.

So I booked our flights, moved the pickup date a few days later, and notified Leeds Met about my delayed return.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Preparing the Final Moving to the UK

The purpose of this travel to California was to close the residence there in Thousand Oaks and to consolidate everything into one household in Leeds - my wife Lena had decided to move to Leeds too. This meant a lot of organisation: arranging for the moving, packing, deciding on what to keep and what to abandon / give away. A lot of work was ahead in the next few days.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Meeting friends

From reading my blog entry a few days ago, a friend of mine found out that I was again in the US: Ken Wang, a former colleague from RSC, who had left the cmopany 2 years ago and had moved to Taiwan, was in town (Santa Monica), and so we decided to meet for lunch. We were joined by Ivy Yang who had been working for me as a student intern in summer 2002. Nice to see them both again! We had a nice lunch at the Japanese restaurant Ahio's in Janss Mall in Thousand Oaks, and it was great to catch up with them again. Ken had visited me in Leeds last October, and he was curious how things were developping.

Ken, Ivy, and myself outside of Ahio's restaurant in Thousand Oaks after our lunch Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Very busy life...

The Southern California freeways are busy as usual. Especially on this weekend, crowds travel towards holiday destinations. Sunny weather as always during this time of the year.

When a lot of things are going on in life, one does not have the time for reflection. That is what I realise in the past months: I kept writing a lot, but not much has actually happened.

But now, it seems as if I cannot catch up with documenting all the ongoing activities...

Life is so short, forgetting so long. (not exactly Pablo Neruda)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Back in the US

As I watched TV news this morning where non-stop reporting was about the latest terror threat against airlines, it became clear that I just have barely escaped those travel hazzles which passengers endure since today. So I was lucky that I did not book my flight for one day later...

I left the Kirkstall Brewery yesterday (Wednesday) in the morning, took a taxi to the Leeds train station.

Leeds train station in the morning. Posted by Picasa

From there, with the Trans Pennine Express through the Pennines to Manchester airport - takes 1h 15 minutes, and the trains go every 30 minutes.

At Manchester airport, there seemed to be a new layer of security: my data/identification documents were carefully checked by officials even before the check-in. But otherwise no further hazzle. The whole terror plot had not yet been uncovered. I managed to sleep a little before my arrival at JFK airport in New York City. No problems at the immigration point this time. Re-checking the luggage after customs took a little longer than usual, but no major hold-up.

Then after 2 hours in the Delta Airlines Crown lounge (and after 2 free beers), I boarded the next flight leg, to LAX. During the whole flight there were many weather systems across the US, and beautiful cloud formations could be seen.

Weather storm fronts across the US. Posted by Picasa

Clouds over the plains ... Posted by Picasa

... and over the Mojave desert. Posted by Picasa

The plane was a Boeing 757 from the former Delta subsidiary "Song Airlines", so it had no first class, but every seat was equipped with live TV from satellite! I watched the news, before I again dozed off a few times.

The flight arrived in time at LAX at 7pm, I got my rental car from Advantage-Rent-A-Car again, and drove off into the falling night.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Moving from Civic Quarter to Headingley

An era ends. The A-Block in Civic Quarter of Leeds Met is finally being shut down, and will be demolished eventually. Since I arrived here last September, I had my office here in A-135. Now I had to move up to Headingley, together with everybody else. I liked the office close to the city. It provided lots of opportunities for going out and doing errands during lunch break. Also the lunch-time organ concert in the town hall were great... Now up at the Headingley campus, one will be a bir more remote from all the city buzzle. Of course, the campus in Headingley is gorgeous - but parking will be a problem as there I will not have a reserved parking space - here in the city I had my space for a reasonable quarterly fee. Well, the move of my office was scheduled now for Thursday, 3. August.

On Friday, 21.7., all the "inhabitants" of that A-Block came together for a final celebration. I am actually the one who stayed here the shortest time - most people here were there way before me.

Good-bye party in A-Block, Civic Quarter. Posted by Picasa

On Thursday morning, the parking spots were blocked by a large yellow truck, and the packers carried the orange crates down from all the offices - in these crates, we had packed all the belongings from the office.

My old office A-135 - everything is packed. Posted by Picasa

The office in which I had been now for 11 months, looked empty. I liked that office very much - lots of light coming in from all sides, it was spacious and bright. My new office in the Caedmon building is about half the size... and just one smaller window. Oh well...

The van will transport the stuff to Headingley. Posted by Picasa

In the afternoon, the crates arrived in Headingley. Mine were unloaded later in the evening, so I only got to unpack them on Friday morning. Afte 2 hours, the new office looked hospitable again - with my maps and posters at the walls, and the fountain setup. So from now on my office is Caeadmon 217.

Arrival up in Headingley. Posted by Picasa

Initially the new office 217 Caedmon is empty... Posted by Picasa

... but after the unpacking, it looks cluttered as usual. Posted by Picasa

From my seat, I can watch people walking by in the hallway. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Roof repair on the Vitara

The Vitara that I bought recently has actually working top (in UK, this is called a "hood"), in contrast to my old Caddy which therefore did not really deserve the name "convertible". But that hood looked quite worn, through 15 years of wear and tear. It withstood that first rain storm that occured just when I bought it and drove home, but at the side there were some openings, and some of the seams would not last very long. So I decided to replace this top with a new vinyl - a white one which would go well with the car. I got it on the internet at Birmingham Motor Parts. It arrived last week, and as I did some basic cleaning of the vehicle, I tried to remove the old hood. No problem was the part above the front seats - the old hood was easily removed, and the new hood could be easily installed. But a big problem occured with the read hood: a set of screws which were used to press a thin metal sheet against the movable frame bar of that hood, were so rusted that I was not able to remove them. They had melted somehow with that bar, so no force could get them out. I had to use a drill to remove them. Of course now the new screws did not find a thread anymore... so they are sitting in their holes a bit loosely... I will have to solve this problem eventually.

But now, the car looks reasonable and presentable again.

New front hood of teh Vitara. Posted by Picasa

The old rear hood of the Vitara. Posted by Picasa

Completed - both front and read hood are installed. Posted by Picasa