August 17th, 2007

Pensive Kevin

Glorp, glorp

This actually happened two nights ago, but I was too busy dealing with it and other things to write about it at the time.

A couple of nights ago, I decided to cook a large pot of pea soup with all of the fixings. This takes a couple of hours to cook, and involves much chopping and preparation of ingredients, but on the flip side the soup contains lots of things I should eat, and I can make lunches out of it for some days thereafter. I started the process by putting a pot of water with the peas and spices on the stove to boil.

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Fortunately, as the problem was in the common pipes, not my apartment, I won't be charged for the call -- it's something that the condominium association has to pay, so it's included in the condo dues. The building-management company even called the next day to confirm that the plumber had showed up and fixed the proplem.
Manga Kevin

Buying Yen and Getting Soaked

About a month ago, USD1,020 would buy you JPY120,000 from Bank of America. The "wholsale" exchange rate (not the rate you and I would get) was around 122 Yen/Dollar.

Lisa wanted me to buy some yen in advance of our trip rather than trust to us being able to draw out yen upon arrival. There was some point to this. There is a daily limit on how much we could draw from the ATM, and a per-transaction fee, and we've been warned that Japan is a heavily cash-oriented society.

So when I saw that I could buy JPY120,000 for just over $1000, I decided it was time to strike. OTOH, I needed to move $1000 into my checking account from savings so that Bank of America could debit it. I put the transfer in, expecting to do the currency transaction the following day.

Then the dollar tanked. At first I held out that it would recover, but things got worse. Finally, yesterday, time ran out on me. If I want the money in my hands before I leave for Japan, I had to order it yesterday or today, or else pay another $20 for rush delivery. And of course the rate was worse yesterday than since I first started tracking it, and I ended up spending nearly $70 extra to buy that bundle of yen I am to pick up from the local bank branch on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The wholesale rate is now down to about 113.5 yen/dollar, a drop of around 7% since the day I originally intended to strike last month. Why is it that the dollar always seems to plummet relative to the local currency every time I travel to another country for Worldcon?
Manga Kevin

Travel Plans

We've given up on trying to book a room on the Twilight Express. Uncertainty over whether it will be running and difficulty getting the reservation made us decide that we simply can't wait any longer, as our remaining hotel reservations depended on it. We'd prefer to spend at least three days in each city so we don't waste so much time in move in/move out, but this is not always possible on account of the number of days we have and the things we want to do. So, having made the decision to give up on the luxury sleeper, we asked our travel agent to re-do our hotel reservations.

The current plans are as follows:

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Whew! I get tired just thinking about all of this! But OTOH, I'm getting very anxious to get this show on the road. I keep wanting to start packing now, and have been making a large pile of "things to go to Japan."

Edit, 22:00: Correction noted from comments.