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August 2006

How Many Pieces of ID do I Need?

Today was our second Colorado DMV experience. It actually went very smoothly being that a) we didn't go to the main office, we went to a minor office, b) we got there early so didn't have to wait forever, and c) I had called yesterday.

"c" is the most crucial of these actually. Previously when we attempted to go to the Colorado DMV, having your unexpired out-of-state driver's license and your US Passport were sufficient to prove your identity. And why not? Both are government issued, and both have your picture on them, making it a win-win situation.

Someone must have been having a slow, unproductive work day one day, gotten yelled at by his boss, and told to "make something happen", so he thought to himself, "now how can we mess people up even more when going to the DMV," and while shooting up crack, decided that no longer was a US Passport good enough identification, you needed yet another piece of ID!

I mean come on, a US Passport *by itself* is usually good enough ID for places like...oh I don't know...the airport, going through customs, foreign countries, but nope! Not for the Colorado DMV.

I randomly happened to call them yesterday to verify that the minor office we were going to did out-of-state transfers, and they happened to mention that the policy against passports JUST CHANGED yesterday. Oh, and note that it's not *all passports*, you guessed it, just US Passports.

So as a born, raised, patriotic, and bred US citizen, my totally 100% genuine US passport isn't good enough, HOWEVER if I had been born, raised, and bred in another country, my foreign passport would have been fine, and sufficed as a secondary ID.

ON TOP OF THAT, I pretty much only had 2 choices of a third ID: a certified marriage license (which fortunately I had), or a state certified birth certificate. NOT A CITY CERTIFIED which is what I had in my "important papers" file, but a state certified. Note that none of these have a photo and the person glanced at the marriage license for like half a second before actually turning back to the license and the passport.

Foreign born citizens had a choice of the marriage license, and 6 OTHER CHOICES INCLUDING THEIR FOREIGN PASSPORT. I should preface that though by saying if I had been adopted or in the military I could've used those documents, bringing my possible total up to 4.

From the list, Leif literally had 4 other pieces of ID in his possession, I had 1.

So I was able to get a driver's license with little trouble because I had called ahead and known to bring the other ID (note to Colorado DMV webmaster, it's kind of cryptic on the site talking about this issue, you may want to fix it...), but what exactly is this issue supposed to solve besides making it more difficult for people to get driver's licenses? Have there been that many issues in Colorado where people walked in with forged passports? And wouldn't it just be easier for them to walk in with a fake foreign passport anyways since most people probably can't tell a real one from a fake one? And seriously, why couldn't they just link into the California DMV database to verify my information, that would be one seriously useful piece of technology.

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Little Mr. Muffet...smashed and killed the large spider

While Colorado so far is shaping up to be great, I'm just glad I wasn't home for this. Leif killed this in our basement today:

Leif Killed This In the Basement Today

He identified it as a wolf spider, but geez...a big shudder here...

Please note the furry legs if you go to the larger image on Flickr. BLECH.

First Thoughts as to Our Move

It's been a few days since we arrived at the new house, but there's been a lot going on. We ended up blowing through Wyoming on Saturday (we were supposed to stop in Rawlins), and just bit the bucket and headed straight for the house. Arriving at around 9pm, we noticed that no one else had any lights on, so were wondering if people just went to sleep early or were all out. After letting the dogs out, figuring out some of the light switches, and unloading the car, we headed out to get some pizza. I'd like to say thank you to my TomTom 910 because without it we wouldn't have ever found the house, nor ever found anyplace to eat. We got back to the house, and our next door neighbor, Brian, was in the garage. The second we got out of the car he said "hi new neighbors, want a beer?" Both of us knew at that point we'd get along fine. We all stood on his driveway for awhile, meeting his wife, and some of the other neighbors, before heading back into the house, downing the pizza quickly, and going to sleep.

Sunday we weren't entirely sure what to do since our stuff wasn't arriving until Monday, so we just wandered around the area looking for random stuff and seeing where things were. Towards dinnertime, we opened the garage to leave to go to the store, when Brian called over to us from Kurt's porch (2 doors down), and told us to come over and get some beer. Hung out there for awhile, and after about 4 beers Leif mentioned he was hungry. I swear this is the nicest neighborhood. They knew we didn't have any food, or a fridge, and wouldn't let us eat takeout again, so Kurt grabbed some pork chops from the freezer, and we had grilled pork chops and veggies for dinner.

I was really worried about meeting people since I'm not going to be working yet, and Leif's working from home, but already we had met a ton of people, and EVERYONE is so nice! Everyone has offered to help us out with stuff if we can't find something, or need anything. Brian has already gone out of his way several times with beer, lending us a phone so we could test ours, directions, what have you. Both of us feel very welcome to this neighborhood.

Monday we got most of our stuff, everything except for the overflow shipment. I actually got sunburned sitting outside with the movers telling them where stuff went. Towards the middle of the afternoon, the 2 kids from next door and one of their friends were outside of our fence throwing a tennis ball for Loki. We had them ask their parents if it was ok if they came inside the fence to play with the dogs. The kids had a blast, playing with the dogs for about an hour. Their favorite part was filling up the water dish for Loki and watching him splash all the water out. Monday night I went to a scrapbook party (yes, already!!).

Today we attempted to go to the DMV to get new driver's licenses. If you ever want to learn about inefficiency, go to the Lakewood DMV. No appointments, 70 people ahead of us (you get a number for a certain line depending on what you want to do when you get there), 2 tellers helping out with the licenses. In 15 minutes, 5 people were helped. We looked at each other, decided the California licenses were good for awhile, and left. We're going to try going Friday morning at 8am, and maybe hit an outlying office instead of the main one. Both of us were flabbergasted though.

Things I've noticed so far that are different:

1) You can't buy liquor on Sundays, and you have to go to a liquor store to even get beer. The grocery stores sell beer, but it contains less alcohol than normal.

2) Every single person we've met so far, including all of the wait staff at the restaurants we've been to, all of our neighbors, and the teller at Wells Fargo, have been VERY FRIENDLY. It's kind of creepy and weird if you're coming from a state like California, but definitely refreshing.

3) The altitude does affect you. Both of us are more tired than normal, and really thirsty. I've also been told when you bake you have to change the recipe for high altitude.

4) Out of all the people we've seen, there's probably only been 1 I might stereotype as an illegal immigrant, and I wasn't too sure as to that one.

5) The DMV here is like the California DMV before appointments, a lesson in inefficiency. It makes you ill.

6) There is no helmet law here, we've seen a ton of people riding their motorcycles without one.

7) After the tax writeoff, we're paying less in rent for this house than we did for our little house in Santa Clara. Housing prices here are NORMAL!

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Moving and Driving

I'm not sure what the worst part about moving is: the packing, or having the driver who's supposed to move your stuff come look at everything, and realize the estimator mis-estimated by at least 2000 lbs and he doesn't have enough room on his truck for everything.

Thursday morning, August 10, 7:15am. The driver, Kevin, shows up ready to roll. Within 5 minutes of walking through the house, he sees the big-screen TV and asks if that was there when the estimator was there. Leif and I looked at each other and said "yeah, she saw it". Apparently he has 3 other loads on his truck, and those people were estimated correctly, but packed like little birds were going to be carrying the boxes, so they went over their space limit. We get unlucky enough to not only be mis-estimated, but last to load, so he can tell immediately there definitely won't be enough space.

He calls our estimator, who's on vacation btw, and challenges the shipment. She comes clean about how she knew about the big screen TV, but "never writes down if it's big-screen or not, I just write down it's a TV." Kevin and I roll our eyes. He informs her to send an overflow truck out later that afternoon. She says she can get one by 9:30am the next day. I almost go ballistic at this point since we're leaving at 9am to start driving. She calls me and tells me this. I inform her that if that's the best she can do, she can pay for my last minute plane ticket to Denver while Leif drives the dogs out himself. She definitely doesn't like that idea, and calls Kevin back in 10 minutes saying an overflow truck will be there by 3:30.

I have to say that Kevin, and the 3 guys he brought with them were absolutely without a doubt the best move team I've EVER had. They not only put up with my stress about getting our stuff out of the house, but were extremely efficient, and I couldn't BELIEVE how tight they managed to pack the truck. Everytime I thought they couldn't fit any more on the truck, they played a giant game of Tetris and got more on. In the end, everything fit except for 1 box of RC stuff, everything in the backyard (bbq, lawnmower, dog-igloo, patio furniture), our china cabinet, and bar.

The overflow guys did show up at 3:30 as promised and were done by 5:30. A big hearty thank-you to the 2 guys who drove their truck out from the Modesto area to come get our stuff. The main bulk of our stuff (on Kevin's truck) will get to us apparently on Monday, and the overflow I'm not sure about yet. I think it's in a warehouse at the moving company and it goes on the next truck going towards or through the Denver area. The really important stuff is in the main shipment though.

This morning we started driving to our new house, and towards our first stop in Elko, Nevada. Pretty much an uneventful trip. Definitely the longest trip in the car I've ever done (driving from Half Moon Bay to San Diego was my previous longest). Around Reno we got really hungry and just wanted to hit a drive-through someplace since it was too hot outside to leave the dogs in the car for any length of time. Leif insisted on getting a Big Mac, he just wouldn't go anyplace else. Note to the GPS companies: please keep your points-of-interest updated -the first McDonalds we tried to go to didn't exist anymore. The second one did, but hey, it still was annoying.

We stopped for gas around then too, and when I went into the gas station to buy some water, the first thing that hit my eye were the 10 slot machines in the store there. I guess you know you've entered Nevada, huh? Also apparently fireworks are extremely legal here since we saw a ton of billboards advertising fireworks being sold. One place was a cigarette AND fireworks store.

Day 2 is tomorrow. We're supposed to hit Rawlins, WY, but may try to push through someplace further depending on our timing, how tired we are, and if any other pet friendly hotels along the way have space.

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Blogging From Kelly Clarkson Concert

For Linnea's last day in the US, we took her to the Kelly Clarkson concert at Shoreline (Leif was thrilled). To keep my sanity, I used my cell phone to write some notes during the show.

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7:20pm Finally after standing in lines for 45 minutes we have a Kelly Clarkson hat, little stuffed dog animal with a Kelly Clarkson (says "I love Kelly Clarkson". It *should* say "I (heart) Kelly Clarkson" though) shirt on, and food. By "we" I mean "Linnea", although I have food as well. I opted against buying the $30 Kelly Clarkson hat. The concession people take the caps off the little bitty bottled water. I wonder why since you can bring in bottled water with the caps on. Their little bitty bottled water is $2.50 a bottle. I make mine last for about 15 minutes taking tiny sips.

7:55pm Rooney comes on..finally. They're not good enough to be 25 minutes fashionably late, but they don’t suck either. I give them another 2 years max before they fade into obscurity. The girls behind us scream like they’re the second coming. I don't think I was able to ever get my voice that high pitched, even at 15.

8pm Leif picks up his magazine (Astronomy) to read.

8:05pm 3 girls walk by, and by "girl" I mean in their 20's. One is wearing ugly ass gold tights. She's missing the matching gold hooker short jacket though, so her outfit isn't complete.

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8:07 Rooney proclaims it's great to be in San Francisco. Several people yell that it's Mountain View. They don't seem to follow the Simpsons rule of writing the city name on the back of the guitar.

8:10 Leif lays down on the blanket to sleep presumably.
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8:15 2 girls in the front row get called on stage to play the tamborine. I think they’re going to have a heart attack when they take pictures of themselves with the "omghe'ssohot" lead singer (say that in your best 15 year old voice).

8:20 Ok I give them a year. All their songs are bland and sound the same.

8:25 Fat women should not wear really tight halter tops, I’m sorry. Someone has to say it.

8:28 Leif starts getting into the concert

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8:40 Rooney leaves. Finally. The wait for the main event begins.

8:45 They show some Kelly Clarkson Vitamin Water ad and people freak out and think she's coming out. I laugh and roll my eyes, being a concert vet. The people in line in front of me in the bathroom start complaining they're missing the show. I silently hope they'll jump out of line so I'll get to the front faster, but no such luck. Maybe she'll be out by 9:30.

9:15 Looks like she's coming out, but nope. "You Shook Me All Night Long" is played and everyone knows the words. I think Kelly covers it which is probably why, but this is the original, so that's much much better.

9:20 Finally. I was 10 minutes off from my 9:30 estimate. The blonde in front of me starts jumping up and down. If it were a boy band I’d notice she probably isn’t wearing a bra, but it's not so I don’t pay attention.

9:23 A song I know - Behind These Hazel Eyes. I sing along with the 2 8 year olds behind us. Leif just gives me a look.

9:25 The adults in the audience have given up and are sitting down.

9:27 Kelly is wearing this weird black wristband. She could have carpal tunnel...but from what?

9:28 Crappy slow song. If this were a rock power ballad it might not suck so bad...but it's not, so it does.

9:30 She talks to the audience and sounds real. I’m not horribly surprised given she started on American Idol. She wishes a kid in the audience a happy birthday.

9:32 Leif gets bored

9:36 Some drunk guys come and stand next to us and get all obnoxious. I’m debating what to do and then they leave, but not before diving for the flying beach ball, almost landing on the girl sitting in front of us.

9:45 Ugh 3 slow songs in a row. Hurl.

9:48 2nd cover in like 30 minutes, and they’re not even that good. Wtf I came to hear her songs. We know she can sing covers..hello?? American Idol??

9:52 Damn, I think Rooney was actually better.

9:54 I lied. She went back to her fast songs so she's kicking it! That's me trying to be 15 again. Doesn't seem to be working too well.

9:57 She pimps Ford. I guess they’re sponsoring the concert. She sings the song they 'did' together (translation the one they wrote for her while she was under American Contract). Sucks. A lame video plays in the background.

I asked Leif earlier if he'd rather go to Kelly Clarkson or the Wiggles and he picked the Wiggles.

10:02 Another slow song. I feel like I know it, but it may be just because some of her slow songs sound the same.

10:05 I just noticed the guys behind us are dancing to her songs. Judging by how they look and the age of their kids, they're probably my age or older. I suspect they're the same ones I saw wearing homemade Kelly Clarkson shirts before the concert, but in the dark I can't verify that.

10:07 One of the backup singers looks just like someone taken from a 1980's Jane Fonda workout video, clothes and all. I keep expecting her to sing "work it" into the mic.

10:10 Why do people think cell phone pictures taken from really far away in the dark are going to have any chance at coming out? "Look, that little tiny blobby out-of-focus dot is Kelly Clarkson! Ohmigod!!"

10:15 Another song off her new album due I guess in February. Leif suspects it'll bomb with her target demographic - the teenybopper. It's a combo blues/soul song, and she likens it to the styles of Chaka Khan and Prince. You can hear the collective "who?" coming from the young ones in the crowd.

10:17 Finally a good song. An acoustic version of "Breakaway." Easily her best one so far.

10:19 "Since U Been Gone" is played. I like that song, but the spelling still bugs the crap out of me. Is it really that difficult to also type the letters "y" and "o"?

10:21 And we're done. Wow that was short. For a 3 hour concert we heard about 90 minutes of music. Thankfully we didn't spring for the $75 seats and got the cheapo lawn seats instead.