Dogs alone don't make a community

Every time I get a new antibiotic prescription, I get this stern warning from the doctor to slow down. While I appreciate her concern, I cant imagine what slowing down look like, let alone feel like. All that said, this April has been one for the books. I think our April's will always be crazy. April 2008: Iolani announced herself. April 2009: wedding and honeymoon. April 2010: we were overwhelmed with daycare and a trip to Washington. April 2011: a trip to Washington to celebrate Grandpa Bob's birthday mixed in with a bit of little sister drama. April 2012, we had a move, and on the work front..some environmental documents that were yearning for approval.

Now that we have this new lease, that puts us in a better position in the future to take advantage of "pre summer" leasing rates. What a pain. 11 months from now we will have to subject our household to looking for a different apartment, packing up again....

You know...I wonder if anyone who leases apartments considered what kind of money could be made if 18, 24, or 36 month leases were available. Imagine what kind of friendly apartment community one could have if such an option would be available.

The Mommy Post: Beds

Iolani is still sleeping in her toddler bed.  Her legs aren't reaching the other end of the bed, but she is getting close.  It has been a consistent conversation in our house.  It's difficult for us to decide on furniture.  On one hand, there's someone in the house who's very "design" oriented, and then there's someone else in the house who's got the keen eye on how something is supposed to be kept clean.

In any case, here's what we've been looking at:

Ikea's Reversible Bed:
Like everything else in our house - it is Ikea, practical, easy to build...and the likely purchase.

















Wow Girl Bed:
My personal favorite.  The ladder has a handrail.  The slide is good for a quick dismount.

















Pocono Bookcase/Storage Bed:
Don't get excited, I'm not suggesting the whole set - just the bed and headboard.  This seems to be very flexible for whatever apartment we move to.  I can't imagine us staying in one apartment for more than three years.  It is really up to the rental market.

Where are the Bloggiests?

Can I sound like an old woman for a moment?  Way back in 2007, when Eric Richardson used to run BlogDowntown - he posted an article about DTLA being the 3rd most "bloogiest" neighborhoods in the country.  We were probably outdone by some SF neighborhood.  But, let's not brood on the past.  

 Except, for those who know me, know that I'm a brooder.  I got to wondering this morning about those blogs linked at the bottom of the BlogDowntown Page.  Take a peek.... you can do two things, click the link to see the websites lined or just read my narrative on "where are they now".

http://viewfromaloft.typepad.com/ continues to post, and Ed also writes for KCET.  He is a well known and prolific writer on anything having to do with the Arts District.  If it includes a spray can or a mural - Ed's your guy.  

http://5thandspring.blogspot.com/ still posting and filmmaking.  She's one of the owners of RAW Materials, a brilliant art supply shop located on Main Street.  

http://angelenic.com/ was a blog I used to see as a prime competitor to BlogDowntown.  Rich has since closed up shop on the blog, moved out of DTLA (but is still spotted in the neighborhood from time to time), and is working in a non-blogging world.  I'll always think of him as an awesome neighbor. 

http://bgfa.blogspot.com/ up and moved to CHICAGO, CHICAGO...

http://centralcitye.blogspot.com/ made the switch from blogging to micro-blogging to Facebook.  Don's still around, enjoying SkidRokyo, Skid Row Heights and other DT words.  Don's very much still Downtown.  

http://dnaonbroadway.blogspot.com/ isn't on Broadway anymore...They are SoPa's, or South Parkians, or South Park residents.  


http://www.downtownchick.com/ is still there.  

http://eecue.com/ moved from the HC to LT to AD.  

www.ginnycase.com is till there, annoying as ever.  However, she's moved from the Fashion District to the Historic Core, to the Financial District to Chinatown.  OMG.

http://inlaonla.blogspot.com/ hasn't updated since 2009.  Eric was generous in linking to someone who had posted all of 18 times.

http://lacowboy.blogspot.com/ is Brady's home.  Brady's not really one for Facebook or Twitter.  This blog is likely the most structurally sound thing in his life.  :-)

http://blog.littletokyounplugged.org/ doesn't post that often.  For LT information - you really have to piece is all together from Rafu, Kizuna, FB, and the LTCC website, like http://littletokyola.org/

http://pamelameekorouse.blogspot.com/ was "Meeko on Main" who is now in Emeryville.  

http://www.scribeskidrow.blogspot.com/, as I understand - moved up and out of town.

http://trainedmonkey.com/ is still in the neighborhood.  He's also one of the owners of RAW Materials.  

http://www.talesofdowntown.com/ also moved DTLA, but continues to talk DTLA.

http://underthealexandria.blogspot.com/ is still around, and is active on the FB groups. Their kid is a little older than ours, so I stalk them to see what they do with school stuff.

http://urbanmemo.blogspot.com/ stopped posting in 2010.

http://cartersblog.wordpress.com/ stopped posting so long ago that WordPress gave them the total F-U.

http://skidrowdude.com/ is up in Sacramento.  I'm sure it's a move out, but it's Sacramento.

So, with all that said - I can now admit that I am not a big fan for the direction BlogDowntown has taken.  It used to be that our hyper-local projects could get the "mainstream media" treatment.  The blog is still looked at by potential investors, and rather than the "DTLA is Open and Ready" for your business, they are met with a confusing message of cautious optimism on Monday, and total pessimism come Friday.  


So, where do we look?  Who covers DTLA with wild abandon?  

These are the sites that I see as complete alternatives to the turn BlogDowntown has taken:












Part 2: The Movers


One doesn’t have to hunt for movers.  They find you.  It sucks.  If you provide your contact information on one website, it’s passed around like, um...there’s just not an appropriate reference.  Let’s just say, one website submission caused 23 incoming phone calls.  I returned only one message.  I called ASAP Relocations because the message left didn’t sound like a script, but it didn’t sound like the guy didn’t care...he just sounded easy, breezy.  
The price was the same as all the other movers - so it really did come down to how comfortable I felt with the sales guy.  
Imagine my surprise when I start telling prospective movers that I was going with ASAP Relocations, and the movers I chose NOT to go with tell me that ASAP has an “F” with the Better Business Bureau. I knew that, but at the same time their local references all gave them okay reviews.  
Here’s the deal - with movers...  1) just like with your car mechanic, doctor, or in-laws...you need to be aware of what’s going on.  2) You have to be willing to be in the mix, so you know what’s going on.  3) Movers, car mechanics, doctors, in-laws...are all imperfect people just like you and me.  I’m usually of the optimistic mind-set that if you keep dialed in on what’s going on, you can avoid a bad situation.
Now - to be completely fair - I read through the BBB reviews, Yelp, and all that.  I saw the bad and ugly.  So, I called into ASAP and asked them to explain what happened.  I felt reassured that my sales guy didn’t try to avoid talking about it, or avoid implying one thing or another.  His tone of voice left me with the impression of recognition of the past, and a desire to do right and fix things.  I stuck with my order - but ended the call with a “Things better go well, I blog you know”.
Then, things in our house changed...we went from a “move” to a “pack and move” after we realized that we didn’t have enough time to get the house packed up by ourselves.  ASAP accommodated our last minute request (who wouldn’t...) to up our order.  
The guys showed up at the time they said they would.  Mauricio said it would take 10 hours to get the job done, and I was a bit caught off guard.  10 hours seemed like a really long time.  At the same time, I had to remind myself that it was a “pack AND move” not just a move.  If I would have done the packing by myself - it would have taken  me over 10 hours...and I would still have to have movers to move the stuff.  So - it made sense. Ultimately - it took 9.5 hours.  
They were professionally dressed, very polite, and fast.  I was there packing up as well, available to answer questions.  These guys moved. There was only one casualty in the move - one drinking glass.  But, to their credit...I left it on the kitchen table mixed in with their contract...so it is hard to say it was the mover’s fault.  
Next time - here’s what I would do:
  1. Still do a full “pack and move”
  2. Get an on-site pre-job estimate days before the move
  3. Your estimate will come in writing (if your guys are legitimate and on the books), so you will know how much you are about to spend.
  4. Plan to buy lunch after the house is packed up, but before it is unpacked.  
  5. Remember the tip...in cash.  Estimate on the high end (the full 20%) and be able to scale back as needed.  
I’ve already recommended ASAP Relocations to friends.  You know it is that time of year.  If you do use ASAP Relocations...be sure to ask for Wayne...but more importantly - you want Mauricio as your move-leader.  The guy knows how to move, keep his team motivated, and keeps a smile on his face.

Moved...Part 1


We moved, again.  I feel like I’ve moved more often than most members of active military. Since ’01, I have moved 8 times:
  1. Malibu --> Amherst
  2. Amherst --> Santa Monica/Ohio
  3. Santa Monica/Ohio --> Wilshire/Bundy
  4. Wilshire/Bundy --> Santee Court
  5. Santee Court --> PE Lofts
  6. PE Lofts --> SB Manhattan
  7. SB Manhattan --> Pegasus
  8. Pegasus --> Mozaic
I’ll point out so humbly, I’m a pro at moving. We did a couple of things differently for this move, and I’m totally sold on making sure all of our moves go this way in the future.
For this move we used RePax for our moving boxes. These are heavy duty green crates that stack.  We didn’t want to use cardboard boxes at all.  After a move is concluded, I have always hated how I have these cardboard boxes that I have to find some way to toss out (or recycle) these boxes. Getting boxes out to the recycle bin is a total waste of my time - that is why in the past I’ve always asked (or implied) Alex to break down the boxes and get them out to where ever they are supposed to go.
I ordered the two-bedroom bundle, with 35 crates and three dollies. The Next time I will order the three-bedroom bundle.  We don’t have a lot of stuff, but Iolani has a lot of fluffy toys...I have poorly organized cupboards, and Alex has a lot of bits and pieces that just don’t pack efficiently.  We ran out of green containers about 3/4 the way through packing. 
When packing, it was great that we could just stuff the crates, making them impossibly heavy.  As long as we put empty crates on top of the heavily packed crate, we could get a lot of our stuff in them.  
When it came time to move the crates, it was awesome because the movers could take 5 or 10 of them at one time.  This saved a lot of time - both getting things out of the old apartment and into the next one.
Then, when it came to unpacking, my favorite part - I could tell when I had 10 boxes to go...5 boxes to go...1 box to go... and finally - All done!  OMG - when I got down to 6 crates left, I couldn’t help myself.  I kept emailing the Repax folks to tell them I was almost done.  I’m sure I was the most annoying customer they’ve ever had. And, here’s why:
  1. Because this was such a last minute move, if I didn’t need to be somewhere in person, and I could have someone do something in my place...that’s how it happened.  The RePax folks delivered the crates to the Pegasus...and INSIDE our apartment.  When I got home from work, all the packing materials were inside the apartment.  We went back and forth, with me asking for an earlier delivery, later delivery, what kind of delivery.  I’m sure all they needed me to say was “Drop them off in the living room, and enjoy the traffic back to Culver City”
  2. Pick up was tricky...because I made it tricky.  Last night, I still had over 10 green crates to unpack before a Monday pick up.  This morning I sent a desperate email asking for them to list me as their very last pick up.  They accommodated my request. I’m sure at some point I wore out my welcome, but...hey...I’m needy.  Imagine my surprise when I finished unpacking the last crate at 11 a.m.!  I thought it would take me longer.  I immediately emailed RePax and let them know I was done!  (in my head I was thinking “OMG!!! I AM DONE UNPACKING!!!!) They emailed me back, offered congratulatory words of encouragement, and that they’d be there between 4 and 6 p.m.
Then my meeting ran late, and 4 p.m. came and went.  I was so happy to get their phone call when I was only two minutes away.  The guys showed, took the crates, and that was that.  Our house looks almost moved in.  
The customer service with RePax was awesome.  When you crunch the numbers, the crates are cheaper than cardboard boxes.  Additional bonus: there’s no tape.  Your order includes labels for the boxes and a package of zip-ties.  The zip-ties were very helpful in locking up the crates with stuff that Iolani shouldn’t get into (the under the sink stuff) and crates with sensitive or valuable items.
Besides, the important thing when moving is that you shouldn’t accumulate any more things.  Using RePax - our house had no net increase in cardboard! (or tape).  I would say, the only thing missing - a couple of larger crates that act as wardrobe boxes for the closet stuff (and wedding gowns).  But, in my best WonderPets impersonation - Two Thumbs Up!
Next up - The movers!