Filling Boxes For Stef’s Move

Stef is moving on January 6. Her belongings are heading out first. That’s why there’s a packing frenzy on this day before Christmas.

“I have enough plaid shirts–truly.” Those were Stef’s words as she pulled a single shirt from a packing box and handed it to Helaine. One shirt in this undertaking is the equivalent of “pissing in the ocean!&#185”

Stef is moving on January 6. Her belongings are heading out first. That’s why there’s a packing frenzy on this day before Christmas.

Thanks to the sage advice of a friend who’s “been there, done that” Stef’s stuff is going to California via FedEx Ground. Sorry USPS, you’ve been beaten on this job. FedEx is cheaper with superior tracking.

I vaguely remember my first move from home. I can guarantee you it had none of the organizational skill Helaine is lending to this move. I sort of threw things in my VW and headed out. I still had enough room left over to pick up a hitchhiker who then let me sleep on a dorm floor at Georgetown!

Stef will arrive in California with all her stuff, even her car, waiting for her. That’s a lot more than I could have handled.

She just walked by with a full load of handbags heading toward a box. I stared.

“I left a bunch of them upstairs,” she said.

I’m a guy. This is not my expertise. Still, I didn’t know a single person could have that many bags without also owning a store.

In Stef’s defense this has been her home for 20 years. You accrue over time. She especially accrues!

The boxes and car are being shipped to my secretive friend in the San Fernando Valley. Hopefully the timing is right for her possessions to get there not long before we do (and certainly not after).

Along with the physical baggage there’s emotional baggage attached to this trip. Even at college Stef was never more than an hour or two away. Now she will be fully a country away. That’s a big change for all of us.

This physical moving of freight is no big deal compared to the other.

&#185 – Update: I am told the shirt Stef is leaving is actually Helaine’s shirt, though she has never worn it!

Moving Out – Stef Returns To College

After I flunked out of Emerson (At the height of the Vietnam War. What was I thinking?), I took a job at a radio station in Palm Beach, FL. I packed everything I owned into my VW Beetle. I still had room to pick up a hitchhiker on the way (who let me sleep on a couch at a dorm at Georgetown).

Again, everything I owned in a Volkswagen. Everything! But I digress.

Stef returned to campus today. She’s helping the underclassmen move in, so she got her room in the dorm a few days early. We set out at 2:00 PM, knowing we’d have time to get lunch before the dorm officially began accepting residents at 6:00 PM.

The packing had been going on for days at home. At times I made the fatherly mistake of questioning what was being assembled.

“You’re taking two dozen pairs of jeans,” I whined in the general direction of my non-sympathetic daughter. How could anyone “need” more than twenty pairs of jeans?

Steffie does! She says she does. Perception is reality here.

In a perfect world, Stef would go through life like Cher at a concert, changing outifts to something new and fabulous every few minutes. She’s probably reading this now and thinking how good an idea that is.

Last night my little car slept outside while Stef’s was parked alongside Helaine’s in the garage. She had backed in; the car’s hatch facing the door to the mud room. Let the packing begin.

I probably shouldn’t say this, but when it was all over, there was room for more… though not much. Stef and Helaine managed to stuff both a full size and compact SUV! There was room for me to ride as a passenger, but only barely.

I was riding shotgun as Stef left, around 2:00 PM. We saw Helaine leave the driveway and then she was gone. We took the turnpike. Helaine went on the parkway.

Actually, Stef and Helaine have very different driving patterns. Helaine is cautious and moves at a moderate speed, staying with the prevailing traffic.

Steffie drives faster – too fast really, but that’s out of my hands at this point. She’s is very cautious, constantly checking those around her in her mirrors. Thankfully, she avoids the speeder’s trap of weaving in and out of lanes.

As we crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge, Stef told me how she likes taking thte bridge so she can catch a glimpse of the New York skyline. I was pleased to hear that, because I feel exactly the same way.

She said she knew there were lots of people who wait their whole life to go to New York and that she was lucky to have it at her feet. Again, I totally understand.

We made it to the campus a full half hour ahead of Helaine. She doesn’t drive that fast. The turnpike is just a faster way, even though Google says it’s only three miles shorter.

After lunch we headed to the dorm. As is always the case, we headed inside to get a giant, wheeled, rubber cart… but there were none! We’d have to carry everything by hand.

Moving a child into a dorm isn’t like moving in a moving van. Clothes, though on hangers, are loose. Lots of bulky items, like the TV, are brought ‘as is,’ not in a box. We had more bulk than we had weight, and we had plenty of weight.

This year Stef’s in a single. It’s a small room about the size of a walk-in closet. It’s got a bed, dresser, wardrobe cabinet and desk. It’s high up, on the 14th floor of what looks like a poured concrete building.

She has an amazingly unobstructed view of the Manhattan Skyline, nearly twenty miles away. When I asked her to look, she was blown away. It’s breathtaking, even at that distance.

Stef sees more than the city. She can watch planes landing at LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports and most of Nassau County, Queens and Brooklyn. With binoculars, I suspect she’d see the Statue of Liberty.

As nice as the room is, there is one downside. It is on the 14th , but the elevator only goes to 13.

I’m serious.

With each load we’d leave the elevator, walk a short corridor then open a fire weight metal door and climb a flight of stairs where another fire weight metal door was waiting.

Steffie’s next door neighbor and friend, Kim, was also moving in . Between Kim and (mostly) Stef, the hallway was soon a staging area for the final critical elements of the moving process.

After a while it was time for me to put on my pocket protector and become tech support. I set up the TV and DVD (please – no comments showing your age by grousing about Steffie having a TV and DVD in her dorm room).

Somewhere along the line she had lost the long cable necessary to circle the room to the outlet. She’s on her own for that one.

I untangled the rats nest of cables for her speakers and put them on a shelf above her printer. I hooked up a wired network connection only to find she had an excellent wireless signal. That’s new this year. For versatility, I hooked her up to the 802.11g signal.

A little after 8:00 PM, with much of the room still to be unpacked, we said goodnight and headed north.

We will miss Steffie a lot. This was a great summer for all of us. We enjoyed each other’s company and spent a lot of time together.

I’ll especially miss stopping by her room when I come home. We had some great conversations and I suspect I learned a lot about Stef this summer. She has changed with the college experience.

We’ll see her again in a few weeks when we all head down to Florida for my mom’s birthday. As much as we took today, I’m sure we’ll be bringing her something she forgot.

NCAA Brackets

As always, I’m in an NCAA Tournament pool. I know NOTHING about college basketball – zip! I do some simple statistical analysis so I don’t look totally stupid.

As it turns out, the NCAA selection committee also does analysis. My picks are often close to theirs. Here’s this year’s picks. Wish me luck.

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Going To College

Over the past few weeks, the sun room has been filling up with goods. There were blankets and sheets and comforters… computer paper and notebooks… enough hair and beauty products to restock RiteAid… snack foods and soft drinks… and suitcases filled with clothes.

Steffie is packed and ready to go to college.

Note to possible roommates: Pack light. There’s no room for you.

I have taken today off from work to facilitate packing the car and picking up any last minute items. So far, things are going smoothly because Helaine and Stef (and not Geoff) are well organized and thoughtful.

Every time we deal with packing, there is a small family conflict. Steffie has said I could go anywhere for any length of time and pack it in a ‘hobo stick’. She doesn’t mean that as a compliment.

When I moved to Florida in 1969, I packed everything I owned into a Volkswagen Beetle and still had room to pick up a hitchhiker (who then allowed me to spend the night at a dorm at Georgetown). Ah, for the good old days.

A few minutes ago the sun room was emptied into the Explorer. We’ve folded down half the back seat. Everything fit pretty easily. Of course there will be stragglers; things that won’t make it to the car until tomorrow morning.

The fact that Steffie is leaving for college is a major moment in all our lives. Must I sound like a prototypical American Dad? I remember the first moment I held her, seconds after she was born.

Parents tend to dwell on stuff like that, so no matter how old a child gets chronologically, she’s still our baby. She should still be wearing pants with snaps and a bib when she eats.

Actually, the bib when she eats isn’t a terrible idea.

Steffie’s joke over the last day has been, when I mentioned she had given blood, I should have said she is “effin’ awesome.” OK. Let me take this opportunity, she is “effin awesome.”

Yes, she’s the same baby I held in my arms at Yale/New Haven Hospital. She’s also somewhat (not totally) grown-up.

There will be temptations at college. No parents to bother her with parental guidance. No curfews. No one to check when she comes and goes and what she’s done while she’s out. In most classes, attendance isn’t taken.

I don’t expect her to be perfect.

College was my undoing. I can’t put my finger on why, but I expect the opposite will hold true for Steffie. I’m confident she will thrive. I’m just worried there won’t be room for a roommate.

We leave early (for me) tomorrow morning. There is a chance the blog won’t be updated, or will be updated very late. I’ll do my best. I’m sure there will be lots to talk about.

Cayman Island Earthquake

I was surprised, to say the least, to read about a strong earthquake tonight close to the Cayman Islands (20 miles southeast of Georgetown, the capital). Actually, there are a number of surprises for me here and I might as well run them down.

Though I knew there are plates upon which all of the Earth’s surface floats, I didn’t realize there was a boundary between two plates in the Caribbean. They grind against each other slowly, but constantly. The relative motion is only 6/10″ per year.

Of course one year is nothing to the Earth. Over 20 years that’s around a foot of motion. Over decades and centuries… well, you get the idea.

At some point something’s gotta give… and it did tonight. The quake was magnitude 6.7&#185. That’s enough to be very scary and even more destructive. I have not yet heard any damage reports from the Caymans. Magnitude alone is not enough to predict destruction.

My second surprise was seeing actual ‘shock reports‘ from the Cayman Islands. This is actually an interesting idea from the United States Geological Service. They ask people to check in and rate the quake! It’s like Dick Clark on American Bandstand circa 1965.

As I type this there are 189 reports from the Caymans and one from Haiti. Each locale is averaged to show how the quake was felt.

I think the USGS does an amazing job keeping up with earthquakes. Their website is fast and thorough. I’m a math and science guy, so it appeals to me more than most. Still, if you’re curious, it’s worth looking at.

And, to get my own little plug in, there’s a link to the most recent large earthquake in the column on the right: Latest Large Earthquakes Worldwide.

&#185 – Remember Richter? The Richter scale is no longer in use by geologists.

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