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It seemed like a good idea at the time - Lindsey Kuper [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Lindsey Kuper

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It seemed like a good idea at the time [Jul. 13th, 2014|05:39 pm]
Lindsey Kuper

A few weeks ago, Alex oniugnip and I signed a one-year lease on a house in Sunnydale Sunnyvale, California. We picked Sunnyvale because it's in between Santa Clara, where my job will be, and Mountain View, where Alex's job will be. The place we found has most of the qualities we were hoping for: gas stove; allows cats; not in a gated community; older, but recently remodeled (so it's neither new-and-sterile nor old-and-falling-apart); walking distance from the Caltrain; and just over four miles and just under six miles from our respective jobs by bike. So, it's about the best we could have done. Ask me sometime about our surreal house-searching adventures!

Neither of us are really ready to go. I'm behind on work. Even more pressingly, absolutely nothing is packed yet. And yet, we're moving to California in exactly one week.

Here's how it's gonna go down: in two days, we'll take delivery of two 6' x 7' x 8' crates in which we are presumably going to ship our as-yet-unpacked stuff. The crates will be taken away on the 18th. At some point around then, someone else will arrive to ship our car, which turns out to be a thing you can do. Then, on the 19th, my parents will arrive; they're driving here all the way from Iowa in their pickup to help us deal with all of the furniture and stuff we're not keeping, which is most of it. Of our leftover stuff, whatever doesn't end up going to friends of ours will probably go to Goodwill. (To our meager credit, we've already taken one carload of stuff to Goodwill, and another carload is going shortly.) Finally, on the 20th, my parents will drive us, our cats1, and our suitcases to the airport. We'll arrive at our new place late that night, and our two giant crates will follow on the 22nd, with our car arriving sometime around then as well. At least, that's the plan, such as it is.

Naturally, I picked this period of chaos as an appropriate time to work on my dissertation.

My dissertation is going to be seven chapters long. According to the hilarious schedule I made three weeks ago, I'm currently supposed to have chapters one through four done, with chapter five being due next Friday the 18th and chapters six and seven (and hence the whole thing) due the following Friday, which is July 25th. This notion that I was going to send my committee a complete draft by July 25th2 was originally quite attractive because it would have freed Alex and me up to resume our old habit of participating in the ICFP Programming Contest, which starts that day at five in the morning, Sunnyvale time. What I currently actually have done is a patchy version of chapters one through three, with lots of pieces missing. It's looking less and less likely that I'll get a complete draft done by the 25th, but I think we'll still try to do the contest, in spite of the fact that by twelve days from now I am unlikely to remember how to use any programming language that isn't TeX.

(Update, August 14: I ended up skipping the contest to work on my dissertation after all, which turned out to be the right choice. Meanwhile, Alex and our dear friend Martin did the contest together and had a rip-roaring good time.)

Fortunately, my job doesn't actually start until the middle of September, so I'll have a couple of months for finishing my dissertation and remembering how to do other things, as well as figuring out how to live in Sunnyvale. The main thing I'm worried about is a bike commute that involves left turns across eight-lane intersections filled with upset suburbanites.

The thing is, here in Bloomington you can bike to work without being a Serious Cyclist™. I am not a Serious Cyclist: I'm slow, I don't carry a patch kit, and although I get a professional tune-up now and then, I don't personally do anything to take care of my bike aside from occasionally putting air in the tires. I don't think I'll be able to sustain this once my job starts, just as I won't be able to sustain my current work schedule of "whenever, wherever".


  1. We have, in fact, flown with our cats before; we brought them out to Mountain View with us for summer 2012, and neither we nor the cats were too much worse off for wear. I'm hoping it goes this well the second time.
  2. "They" say that you're supposed to provide your committee with a complete draft "six weeks or more" before the defense. But does anyone actually do that? When I originally suggested that I could provide a draft by July 25th for a defense on August 29th, my advisor said that that was better than "industry standard". How much time did other people who've done this allow?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: etb
2014-07-13 10:48 pm (UTC)
I sent a draft to my committee on 9 March 2007 and defended on 27 April 2007.

In case it makes you feel better, here are some things you presumably won't have to deal with: rude immigration officials; customs clearance; transatlantic shipping; legally disposing of the massive quantities of cardboard boxes and packing paper used by "professional" movers.

(I also don't carry a patch kit, but maybe I should since my commute distance just quadrupled…)
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2014-07-13 11:01 pm (UTC)
Fair points. Furthermore, if we break the FIRST CARDINAL RULE OF MOVING (where, in this case, the "movers" are us), it won't actually be a problem.
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[User Picture]From: _tove
2014-07-13 10:58 pm (UTC)
You're gonna pull it off and it's gonna be grand!

If you need a contact in the Sunnyvale area for questions like where to find/buy things, or if you need some help with car errands before yours shows up, my parents are in the area and friendly. :)

P.S. you may have to resist the urge to outfit your entire house with things from Daiso
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2014-07-13 11:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, dang, you're right, we can go to Daiso whenever we want. No good can come of this. I still fondly remember a certain Daiso trip from our visit to Sapporo in 2008.
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[User Picture]From: pmb
2014-07-14 01:59 am (UTC)
I think I did 2 weeks? 4 at the most. Definitely not 6. Then I had 2 weeks of cleanup afterwards. Then I had to make it past the formatting person for the graduate school.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2014-07-14 08:15 pm (UTC)
We've got a list of formatting guidelines provided by the graduate school, but it's hard to know how seriously to take them -- when I look at the stuff that people have turned in, some of it clearly violates the guidelines, and yet, those people escaped with a Ph.D. Also, some of the guidelines are bizarrely specific, while others are bizarrely vague -- the only thing said about fonts is "don't do the whole thing in italics", for example.
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[User Picture]From: pmb
2014-07-15 05:37 am (UTC)
The rules are not enforced in an algorithmic manner. You take your LaTeX template and you hope that the person doing the enforcing isn't going to be too whimsical with you.

BTW, these formatting guidelines were originally put in place to, I shit you not, make things work well with Microfiche. And we're stuck with these guidelines forever more because reasons.
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[User Picture]From: joshua_
2014-07-14 05:17 am (UTC)
When I began biking to work, I was not a terribly Serious Cyclist. Over time, I grew more Serious as a Cyclist, but it was not at all mandatory. (My bailout plan was not a patch kit or a spare tube, but a cell phone.) If your concern is Central Expressway, even though it is named Expressway, don't worry too much: all things considered, it is a pretty safe ride.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2014-07-14 08:11 pm (UTC)
I don't think Central is for me. Three weeks ago, we were driving on Central in Sunnyvale during rush hour, and traffic was backed way up and so people were driving, like, 40mph on the shoulder. The shoulder is the only place for bikes to go on Central, and if I had been on a bike on that road at that time, I would be dead, or would at least have lost my hearing from getting honked at.

Edited at 2014-07-14 08:11 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: blk
2014-07-14 01:38 pm (UTC)
That sounds like approximately just how much of a Cyclist I am as well. These Conversations happen a lot around my house.

xuth: what's that noise? is your rear rack loose?
me: I dunno, how do i tell?
xuth: well, do your brakes need to be changed?
me: I dunno, how do i tell?
xuth: *sigh*
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2014-07-14 08:05 pm (UTC)
I can tighten bolts and that sort of thing, but I have no idea how to lube the chain and whatnot. True story: once I intentionally left my bike out in the rain because it was dirty and I wanted it to get clean, and then later I was all, "Why is my bike hard to pedal?" and it was because the chain was all rusty and unlubricated. *pictures, e.g., graydon shaking his head sadly*
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[User Picture]From: blk
2014-07-14 08:37 pm (UTC)
That totally sounds like me before I started dating xuth. He did have to make several things like that rather explicit to me at some point...
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[User Picture]From: etb
2014-07-15 02:34 am (UTC)
I can lube a chain (and replace a tube, though it sometimes takes me hours), but talking to bike mechanics is always annoying because they're all

blah blah you should wipe your chain after every blah so it blah blah blah

and

if you had replaced your chain when you should have you wouldn't need a new blah blah blah you should get a tune-up every blah-hundred km

and I just want to yell at them that I'm not paying them to pelt me with advice, I'm paying them to fix the fucking bike, and I'm perfectly willing to pay extra for a new blah blah blah if it reduces the total number of times I have to hear about blah blah blah.

(Another thing that pisses me off is bike mechanics who just assume that everyone is like them and owns 10 bikes, so of course it's no problem if my bike just sits around the shop for a week until they get around to it, right? This is less of a problem now that I have two bikes, but still.)
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2014-07-15 03:12 am (UTC)
I guess I feel differently, or maybe I've had better luck in the places I've gone. I usually end up learning something interesting and non-obvious about my bike when I talk to bike mechanics, which is amazing to me because, y'know, a bike seems like a pretty straightforward thing, and yet here I am still learning things about it after all this time. (But just because I think bikes are interesting doesn't mean I actually want to fix my bike myself.)
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[User Picture]From: mindstalk
2014-07-15 11:36 pm (UTC)
I was going to say we're the exact same kind of cyclist, but here you're more advanced than me. Well, I guess if I noticed a loose bolt and had an appropriate wrench then I could twist it, but it's never come up.

My rain story is leaving my bike outside a lot more last summer, due to inconvenient basement storage, and when brought in for the fall tuneup got told "you should bring it in every three months if you're going to do that, it rusts up." In Bloomington I'd always been told what great condition my bike was in, but there I was always able to store it in my home and it almost never got caught out in the rain.

I've had some long-for-me bike rides but my usual radius is about 2 miles, turning an up to 40 minute walk into a 15 minute ride. See: Slow. I've also had the liberty of avoiding rush times, since I usually bike for shopping the library or night events or such. Not sure I'd want to bike to a job in Kendall, say, the roads don't look that safe. I've actually imagined just walking, getting the 10,000 steps/day automatically...

But I doubt anyone would pay me what it'd take to get me to live in Sunnyvale.
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[User Picture]From: antislice
2014-07-21 05:35 am (UTC)
Would it help to use the crosswalks at the big intersections as if you're a pedestrian? I see it happen a lot when I'm riding (San Francisco/mid-peninsula). Or not necessarily using the crosswalks but making box turns (http://www.cyclelicio.us/2011/box-turn/) - then you don't have to worry about merging in traffic.

I rarely ride south of the San Mateo area, but I know people who work in Sunnyvale and ride bikes if you'd like route suggestions.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2014-07-25 09:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah, box turns are probably what I'll end up doing; that's exactly what someone else suggested, too. We'll see how it goes once I manage to get my bike reassembled and get out on the road.
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