Mikal’s unreliable guide to buying secondhand sci fi in Mountain View


My algorithm goes something like this:

  • If I am just browsing (I tend to target complete series before I start reading them, so am often buying things I don’t expect to read for months) and looking for a great deal I go to Rasputin’s Books. Sometimes they have nothing, and other times I walk away with 30 books. They currently have a “10 books for $5” deal, which is hard to beat.
  • If I want something specific, and its not too rare, I go to Book Buyers. They have an awesome collection, and have most common things. Some harder to find things might be missing though, and you need to know that not everything is filed by author (check the series section as well).
  • If I want big lots, ebay.com. Most of the time there is nothing, but sometimes you can pick up 20 books by the same author quite cheaply.

Noisy neighbours at Central Park in Mountain View


Its 5am my time, and I’ve been awake since 3am. Not from choice though — its the downstairs neighbours waking us up yet again. They’re shift workers you see, and must either sleep with construction hearing protection on, or be deaf. Either way, they seem to think its ok to stand outside our apartment at shout at each other at 2am, or slam doors at all hours, or listen to music so loud it vibrates stuff in our apartment basically all night.

We’ve asked them nicely to turn it down (we used to get on quite well with them at first). We’ve asked the complex to please do something. We even rung the complex security folk when its happening, and asked for some peace. Its really done nothing to help — they perhaps turn the music down for 30 minutes until security leaves, and then turn it right back on again.

So, we’ve run out of ideas, apart from ending the lease early (which will cost an unknown amount of money), and moving somewhere else. We’re so serious about doing that that I have started looking around Craigslist already.

Perhaps the floor between apartments is too thin, because the bathroom fans this neighbour leaves on for literally days at a time also vibrates things in the apartment, but either way I think Central Park has pretty much failed to provide us with a livable apartment. We don’t want a lot, just some peace after 10pm like the complex rules say we should get.



Please report to the municipal hall of justice


Catherine rang me while I was at work yesterday to let me know that I had a letter from the courthouse in Santa Clara country demanding (it doesn’t make it sound all that optional) that I attend at the “Municipal Hall of Justice” for jury duty. Yes, they really called it that. Yes, I thought it sounded like something from a bad 1980’s film too.

So, I apparently can get out of the jury duty by proving to them that I am not a citizen. In fact, it’s much more onerous to show that you’re not a citizen than it is for many of the other escape clauses. They want a copy of my passport for example.

The letter also doesn’t make it particularly clear if being a non-citizen excludes me from jury duty or not. Oh, and the only contact details on the letter are a web site, and a 24 hour recorded message line. I don’t know if I would serve or not if given the option — I probably would.

So, am I able to serve? Should I? Will the Demolition Man be at the municipal hall of justice? What about Judge Dredd?


Mi Pueblo


The phrase “Mi Pueblo” is remarkably over used, which made web surfing for this one hard. For some time, Catherine has been doing some of our food shopping at the little Spanish grocery store in Mountain View. For the first time I went along yesterday (she normally goes when I am at work).

Imagine a food shop full of kids running around the place, loud Mexican music playing, where you’re the only ones speaking English. It was great fun… Like a very short trip to Mexico. Oh, and it’s cheap. Really cheap. For example, half the price of Safeway for Sirloin steak, and most fruit.

For some time I’ve been thinking I should learn some basic Spanish. I really should get around to doing that…




It’s time for Catherine and I to start thinking of packing for the move, and as ever it’s a barrel of laughs. We’ve made the decision that there is a bunch of stuff which we’re not going to bother to take with us… Mainly things like reference books which I haven’t used in years, but can’t bear parting with. We’ve therefore entered the exciting world of boxing and listing everything which we’re leaving. We’re also doing something similar for the things with a lot of value which we’re moving to the US.

I decided that it was time to roll out an official stillhq wiki to hold this sort of documentation, as well as other things which seem like they should be documented over time.

This is the first time that Catherine has used a wiki, and so far it’s working well.


What are we doing with the pets?


We own a dog and a cat. We’ve had the cat, Taffy, for a long time and he’s quite old now. The dog, Spike, on the other hand hasn’t been with us for very long. So, when we move to the US, what are we going to do with the pets? Well, the cat is relatively easy, as he’s too old to cope with a move, and is quite attached to my father. He’ll be staying in our current house, which dad will be renting from me.

The dog, Spike is harder. The kids are now quite attached to him, having been initially scared of him (we got him as a puppy, and the kids didn’t like that puppy phase too much). He’s now a year old or so. On the other hand, he didn’t like the flight from Sydney to Canberra when we acquired him, so a 14 hour flight to the US is too much for him. If we don’t like the US and want to come home really, soon then he would also end up in quarantine, a four hour drive away from us, for a very long time (around three months I believe).

Worse than that, we’re probably going to end up in an apartment in the US, and that would mean that he wouldn’t have a yard to play in…

In the end we ended up deciding that it was better if Spike staying in the US. we contacted the breeder and had a chat, and found a lady in Sydney who has been looking for a Labradoodle for a while. After her visiting us and meeting the dog, and us interviewing her, we decided to just give her Spike. It felt really wrong to even discuss money.

Spike now has a dog’s dream job — he’s a mascot for a Sydney school, and plays with the kids at before and after school care (which are urn by his new owner). he also gets to go for long walks every day, and play on the beach, which something we were somewhat lax about.

That’s what the trip to Sydney that I blogged about earlier was about. Spike was dropped off, and then we went to my father in law’s house for the night. The boys got skateboards in return for being strong about the whole thing. They still ask after Spike a little, but I think that they understand that we’re going on a bit of an adventure and that Spike is best off where he is.

That’s why I was at Freshwater breach for that surfing competition that day as well… That beach is about a five minute walk from Spike’s new home.

I honestly think we’ve done the right thing, but it’s still sad when I think about it.


Andrew is a loony


He hasn’t slept in something like 48 hours now. He’s a loony.

On of the funnier parts of the trip over was listening to the Channel 9 “from the flight deck”. Before they could take of the United plane insisted on burning off 1,000 pounds of fuel. How long did it take? 5 minutes of idling and driving around in circles. The airline was fairly ordinary though — no screens in the back of seats. 5 inches of extra leg room for premium economy, but that only put them about 2 inches ahead of Qantas. Catering was nothing special. No little care package for during the flight. No face mask.

I’d fly United again, but only if I didn’t get to chose the airline.

[tags: airline united]