Moving Tactics

August 22, 2007

So, when I moved from 40th st. to 38th st. I thought I had a pretty good tactic for moving: I got my leases to overlap by a month and moved my stuff carload by carload, gradually. It saved all manner of headaches. So that’s what I did to move my stuff into storage. Unfortunately, the storage place is an hour away. That changes things: now instead of gradual and realxing, each load of stuff takes 2.5 hours to move, and a fortune in gas. Oops. If you ever need to move and think gradual is the way to go, be sure to take into account things like distance.

 Also, as regards getting a storage unit: the people that rent out storage units are shysters. It was supposed to be $56 a month, but when I paid for the first month I HAD to buy insurance at $7 a month extra AND there were a few handling charges and such. Also, the unit was supposed to be 5′ x 10′. It’s not. It’s 4.5′ by 11′. But the contract uses the qualifier “approximately” so I can’t argue with them about it. And why is that a pain? Because I’m an engineer. You can’t give an engineer specifications of something that are off by half a foot. Now, instead of having a perfect, compact cube of stuff in a storage unit, it’s a weird, wobbly tower of stuff. Damn you, Extra Space!


The Medical Exams

August 2, 2007

The Fulbright comission let me know that I’d gotten a grant in mid-march. However, before getting the official paperwork signed and turned in, they require that you get a medical exam. I think they’ve been using the same forms since the program was started in the 1950s: it’s just weird.

I went to the campus health people here at Drexel. I didn’t need any shots, though I considered getting the smallpox and rabies vaccinations. However, they weren’t required, the rabies vaccine wears off, and I hear that there’s a roughly 50% chance that the smallpox vaccine makes your face explode. So I passed.

Anyway, the medical exam was pretty easy. A doctor came in a made me move my arms and legs so that he could tell they worked. I distinctly recall a funny look coming across the doctors’ face, and then he turned to me and told me that the Fulbright comission requires a prostate check. Good news! It’s still in there. At least, it was in March.

They then removed some blood and got it checked. The doctor said it was good, but that certain enzymes related to my liver were elevated. Apparently, blood tests on wednesday can tell how good your saturday night was. They also jabbed me with something and told me that if my arm swelled up it meant I had a disease. I don’t remember which one.

The best part, in my view, was the questionnaire. It contained a lot of really, really old-fashioned phrases. “Do you suffer from emotional defect?” Well, I don’t think I do, but I bet some ladies I used to date would disagree. If I recall correctly, “mongoloidism” was on the list of conditions of which they wanted to know if your family had a history.

Anyway, everything checked out with me. Whatever plumbing I’ve got is hooked up right, and hopefully I won’t get clogged with anything while I’m over there.


Getting a Passport

July 29, 2007

When applied for a Fulbright, I didn’t have a Passport. When I was notified that I had recieved the grant, I didn’t have a passport. So the first thing I did to get ready to go overseas was, appropriately, go down to the post office and apply for one. I paid for the expedited service, which was not money well spent. I’m sure you’ll understand why.

About two weeks after I should have gotten my passport, I got everything returned to me: I’d been denied a passport. The first thing I did was panic. The second thing I did was call my senator’s office. The third thing I did was call the office of the guy who was actually my senator, and not the one from the next district over, who I had called in the first place.

Somewhere in the phone call process, I was told why I’d been denied a passport: I wasn’t an American citizen. Yeah, I was surprised too.

Apparently, there’s a computer somewhere that truncates the names of where people are born. Either that, or someone who uses a computer somewhere isn’t very good at it. They’d entered my birthplace as the town of Madison, in Jefferson county, INDIA. For the record, it’s Indiana. The state. Not India, the country.

I was able to appeal the process, however, and mailed them every possible peice of information I could. Birth certificate (again), data from where I go to school, baptismal certificate, a picture of me from the newspaper, printouts from the departmental website, on and on and on. Eventually I got my passport.

 I hope someone was making fun of me when they told me I’d been born in India. It’s actually less disturbing for me to think that maybe they just deny applications to anyone that wants to go to an Arab country and then see what happens during the appeals process.