Friday, February 04, 2005

This morning we went to the Department of Motor Vehicles. I'll repeat that. This morning we went to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

I'm not going to complain about the people at the Henrietta branch of the New York DMV, because they were generally polite, friendly, and as helpful as possible. I'm not going to complain about our insurance company, because although they did screw up a few times in some astonishing ways, they were actually reasonably pleasant while fixing the mess. But a mess it was, in ways that would make a human factors jock choke on his ergonomically-brewed latte.

First of all, if you ever have out-of-state documents adapted by your insurance company for use in New York, make sure that your name on them is printed (more or less) as follows:


Nothing too difficult there. However, if you own a vehicle jointly with another person, and the names appeared on the previous state's insurance document this way:


... and were not re-formatted by the agent in New York to read this way:


... they cannot be read by the automatic scanner at a New York DMV office, and the clerk is not permitted to enter the data manually, which means that the insurance document will be ruled invalid for the purposes of a joint auto registration. So, you may want to have a cell phone with you so that you can call the insurance company, because they will correct the documents and fax them to the DMV, which will be glad to accept them. However, note that if the insurance agent opens your file at the exact same time that her computer system locks up, you may have to wait at the DMV for, oh, at least another 45 to 60 minutes.

Once that's settled, you'll be fine, except for the fact that the New York DMV agent will take your title so that it can be registered and re-issued in New York, which would also be fine except that if the New York DMV agent neglects to tell you that she has to do this and you notice the absence of the title while your spouse has driven you halfway to work, and you don't have the local DMV number and that wouldn't help anyway because you tried it before and it only dug you into a rabbit warren of voice-mail options, your spouse will have to drop you off at work and then drive back to the DMV in a very, very bad mood in order to get an explanation of why the title wasn't returned.


My little Prizm now has New York plates, something that I would once have considered about as probable as my buying an SUV. (One unexpected good thing about this apartment complex, BTW: There are very few SUVs in the parking lot, and quite a few compact cars.)

And I eventually did make it to my lab in time to read journal articles and attend the lab meeting and then honor my roots by helping the staff cook for, and feed, the Drosophila. And afterwards Rick and I decided we'd expended enough effort for a while, so we found a nice, friendly, inexpensive Ethiopian restaurant near downtown Rochester, and we went there and ate chicken in spicy sauce and red lentils and collards and cabbage and all sorts of good things, and now we're back home and Rick is having so much fun steaming the curtains that I get to sit here and blog, and tomorrow and Sunday we are going to take advantage of the freak thaw and explore the city.

Oh, and a final note: I've left out the part about why I could change my vehicle registration but couldn't exchange my Michigan license yet, because that one will probably become another even more colorful entry a few weeks from now.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

A happy update to the last post: I am most definitely thinking about science now. Although a number of the people in my new lab are actually out of town this week, it takes only one officemate to keep me on my mental toes. (I hadn't realized before that my brain had toes, but vertebrate zoology is not my strong suit.) It really does seem to be the kind of place that's larger than the sum of its already formidable parts. A bit intimidating at first, maybe, but just what I need right now.

Rick and I also actually went out and bought curtains for the apartment. To give you an idea of how significant this is: We lived in our house in Kalamazoo for 13 years, and never replaced any of the decor left behind by the previous owners. We fixed things that broke, of course, and washed things that got dirty, but never really actually decorated the place. Of course, I can't really claim that we're decorating this one -- just hanging fairly inexpensive and simple trappings of home here and there.

I also have to admit that I'm really happy to be living with only about a third of my stuff, a situation that may last until April or so. There are a few pieces of cookware and the like that I wouldn't have minded bringing along, instead of, say, the videotape collection, which got loaded onto the truck even though the TV is waiting for the second wave. We spent most of last night assembling a new desk, which is actually the first one I've ever bought that is suitable for an entomologist with a laptop rather than a computer geek with with a big tower complex. This means that Rick will inherit my old geek-friendly desk, and the huge Slab O' Fake Rock that used to house Rick's previous computer will be sold to someone who can actually find a use for it, assuming that this person lives in Brobdingnag and houses his desktop computer in the chassis of a 1970s vintage mainframe.

I miss my house in Kalamazoo, which is giving me serious emotional pause from time to time, but in some other ways, this situation amounts to 'Pede Heaven, at least for now. No TV, a phone service with everything included and that can send all my incoming calls to voicemail, a fast wireless connection -- and someone else shovels the walk. I suspect that when the TV arrives in the spring, we'll find an alternative to cable (thanks for the suggestions, Greg!) which will allow us to pay for only the few things we actually watch.

Oh, and the phone handset that's going to live on my desk in the basement office (the 'Pede Pit) is programmed to play The Flight of the Bumblebee when it rings. Given that the other handsets are programmed otherwise, we should experience an interesting cacophony whenever we receive calls. The Guckenheimer Sour Kraut Band would be proud.

Monday, January 31, 2005

The briefest of brief updates: We have landed in Rochester, we're still slowly making our rented townhouse navigable, we have Internet and phone service, and I start work tomorrow. Also, my blog garnered a comment from a friend (also in upstate New York) whom I hadn't seen in five or six years.

I haven't thought about science much in the last few weeks. This will have to change immediately. More later....