Our air shipment arrived this afternoon. The movers were very friendly -- noticing a pattern yet? -- and the six boxes were out of their truck in no time. Tea's very happy to have her iMac back, as I'm sure you can imagine.
Then it was off to the bank to try to resolve a snag we've run into. We deposited a cheque from our Canadian account into our UK Barclays account early in the week; the latter is tied to what they call a standing order, and it's how our rent will be paid. (Incidentally, we filed that order with our letting agent, not our landlord -- this really is a different world.) About mid-week we got some mail from Barclays saying that the negotiation we'd submitted -- that's what they call the process for depositing foreign currency -- could take up to six weeks to clear! Suddenly bouncing our second month's rent payment was a very real possibility!
A coworker suggested that we might have better luck at a larger Barclays branch. This rang true for us, as the chap who helped us at the smaller branch, while very nice -- which was really odd, by the way, as most of the Barclays folks we've dealt with act as though they're doing us a favour by letting us bank there -- behaved as though he hardly ever did these negotiations. So, once the movers left, it was off to the larger Barclays branch to deposit another large cheque. (No, to answer that question that's hanging in the air now, we most definitely cannot keep doing this, if this attempt also fails.)
I guess now is as good a time as any to qualify my earlier gushing about this country's progressive use of the 'net: banking is well behind here. You have to deal with a cashier -- they don't call them tellers, which I actually prefer (although ATM is horrid) -- for just about everything: most of the bank machines (which they call cash points here) that I've seen literally say "Money Out" on them; you can only withdraw funds from them or check your balance... even top up your mobile minutes, if you'd like. The one "Money In" machine I saw in this branch required paper deposit slips; there was no place for your bank card.
And in case you thought that the "up to six weeks" was an anomaly -- which, of course, we are sort of hoping it is -- one of our claims was recently reimbursed in pounds (the details of why aren't important) and when we deposited that cheque -- from a Barclays account, mind -- into our Barclays account today, we were told that it will probably take three business days to clear. It's the same bloody bank! You just have to shake your head. Oh well, here's hopin' that the Canadian cheque we deposited today clears well before the first one.
As the title of this post implies, the 'learning opportunities' abound. :-) I'll continue with the appliances: our super snazzy dryer has a water reservoir. We didn't really give this much thought, and Tea's busy doing the second or third load of laundry the other night when the dryer starts to beep. As she did with the microwave and the induction cook-top, she immediately reached for the manual. Shortly afterwards, I hear her exclaim, to the tune of yet more beeping, "It's full of water! What more could it want?" :-) Oddly enough, the beeping stopped once we emptied the reservoir. :-) It's strange: the dryer doesn't vent to the outside, which is great for making a nice hot room (just off the kitchen) for getting the wrinkles out of hanging clothes.
Not to be outdone, I committed the stupidest act in memory -- forget recent -- this afternoon. Unsatisfied with almost melting Tea's hairdryer, which was actually quite scary, truth be told -- "Sure; it'll be fine. It says 250 VAC on the side." Ah, no, that bright red glow out the back of it is a bad, bad sign -- yes folks, unsatisfied with that darling moment, I plugged my newly-arrived shuttle (i.e., computer) in before flipping the little red switch on the back of the power supply from 150 to 230, at which point I could've sworn I was shot. The black streak out the back of it on the pearly white desk, and the accompanying burnt metal smell cued me to what actually happened: best case, I fried my power supply; worst, and most likely, case, I fried the power supply, the motherboard, and everything attached to it. Bravo, Jae, bravo indeed.
The shame I feel now, recalling it, can only be topped by that which I feel when recalling how I reacted to said event: to say that I behaved like an enraged orangutan, jumping around screaming a blue streak at the top of my lungs -- all the windows wide open; "Hi neighbours!" -- is to do a horrible disservice to ape-kind everywhere. A shameful, shameful display, to say the very least.
I wonder what tomorrow will bring! :-)
Update: Thursday, August 27: against all reason, my power supply sacrificed itself for the good of the motherboard. :-) I've just replaced the power supply, and I'm back in business, only $50 lighter (and very happy).