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Showing posts from 2008

More Things To Be Mad About

There is no US Embassy in Minsk, Belarus. As a result, people who need to go through an interview for a green card, like my mother, need to go to the nearest city which has one. In good old communist times it would be Moscow, the capital of the whole USSR. The trip there would entail overnight train Minsk-Moscow, spending a day in a city, and overnight train back. No visa required, naturally.
Today, despite the fact that old Soviet Union fell apart and old Soviet Republics are separate states, the trip to Moscow would go pretty much the same way.
But the wizards at National Visa Center came up with a different plan. Everything my mom needs is done in Warsaw, Poland. Why?
NO IDEA.
May be it's closer.
So my mother had to pay for Polish visa, go through the medical exam they require, wait for ten days to get the visa, go to Warsaw, and all this just to find out that the medical form for her green card is not in a correct format (which was never specified, by the way), and—this is my favor…

Is There Anybody From 13th District Who Is Voting Republican?

Campaign Worker: "Is there anybody from 13th district who is voting republican?... we, err... have a 13th district machine stuck on "republican", so if you are, you can just go ahead of the line and pull the lever... may be it will unstuck..."

There were actually two brave ones who responded to the call...

Made my day =), even though they sent us registration confirmation letters marked "district 15", and we are, as we now know, district 19 (we had to stay in line twice to find that out). Whatever, I voted in a morning, Eva had to return after work to cast her ballot.

We did what we could. If McCain wins, we most likely will have to move to Manitoba.

On The Endless Wonders Of Internet Explorer

May be somebody will stumble upon this post and save some time for him/herself.
Apparently—it only become apparent after several hours of trial, cursing and error, as it usually goes with IE—, Internet Explorer (up to version 7) throws a runtime error, if you try to modify innerHTML of the dynamically created element under certain conditions.
The conditions, as it always go with IE, are significantly lacking consistent logic. For starters, if you assign innerHTML to the element before you insert it into a DOM tree, the error may not come up at all, but will surface later, when you try to modify it.
So far it looks like the error mostly comes up, if you change innerHTML of the block element inserted into inline element (which is not kosher in standard-compliant HTML, so it makes sense), and some nested block elements (like DIVs inside Ps—why is that considered wrong, too?—for instance).
So, if one really-really need to insert a division into a paragraph, and work it's innerHTML (like I…

Sometimes You Just Know

Sometimes you just know what's going to happen, like, when flying Delta to Moscow (happened some years ago, flight was cancelled due to horrible weather, then they decided to send us there through Amsterdam, then changed it to Paris), at that vividly remembered moment, when we just checked in our suitcases to the Amsterdam flight and someone comes and says "no, they are going through Paris" and we are sadly looking at our luggage being slowly dragged by the conveyor belt to that Amsterdam flight we are not going to board anymore, and we say "what about our luggage" and they say "don't worry, it is going to be taken care of" and you just know it is not true.
And it wasn't, and we landed in Moscow in a middle of a snow storm, and most of our warm clothes were traveling to Amsterdam and back and it took them three days to finally reach Moscow.
Sometimes you just know, and now I am having another déjà vu moment, different curcumstances, same feeling…

There Is Nothing To Do On Bermuda

Neither there is anything to do on the way there, and, frankly, not much to busy oneself with on the way back. And if not for the hurricanes, we wouldn't even consider going there on our 25th wedding anniversary—and we hadn't, we actually bought a cruise to Bahamas, and even booked two shore excursions—but NCL just took us to Bermuda instead.

Well, things happen and people have to deal with them.

It would be, however, much easier, if the overall cruising experience aboard Norwegian Spirit left nothing to wish for. Unfortunately, it did.

When it comes to cruising, the entertaining elements of a trip normally fall under three major categories: food, drinks, and shows. Those are supposed to compensate for an imminent boredom of being trapped aboard 13-story floating hotel for several days without even being able to marvel at the occasional car wreck down below from your room window.
I did expect a lot from all three, since Evelyna (and Dar) were on a cruise once, and came back absolu…

On The Fragility Of Financial Equilibrium

Time and again, life presents me with another proof that for some absolutely unexplainable reason I am not allowed to have money.
Once I have any unspent funds on any of my accounts, something comes up and clears the offending surplus. This time I just didn't have a chance to shovel the unexpectedly timely security deposit refund from our previous place towards the credit card I used to pay for our vacation. That resulted in a chain of seemingly unrelated events, which, in turn, helped me to get rid of the extra money.
1. It rains cats and rats on Saturday, so we cancel our trip to Long Island, but since there is a parking spot right in front of our building I leave the car on the street overnight.
2. I totally forgot to take my car to the state emission test, of which I am gently reminded by a bright orange envelope under my windshield wiper with a $65 parking ticket.
3. I am taking my Jeep to the closest (and only one) Jeep dealership in Manhattan, (Manhattan Jeep Chrysler Dodge) to…

Half A Block From Central Park

Sounds a bit like a movie title, doesn't it? Or a book...
So many things happened since my last post, it's difficult to even start. In short, we moved again (like-we-did-last-summer... no, actually, it was the summer before last, when we escaped Crown Heights in favor of Briarwood, small neighborhood on the edge of Kew Gardens).
This time we decided to go for the gold, so we moved to Upper West Side, and Dar and Cassian—to Brooklyn Heights.
Wow. I am still not sure if we are going to make it, but both areas are really nice (doh... location-location-location, as they say... almost makes up for our can-you-please-take-dogs-for-a-walk-I-need-to-open-the-fridge-size apartment... and Dar's is a basement burrow even smaller than ours...).
It was about time for us to move, though. Life in Queens was a definite upgrade from our year-long Brooklyn survival experiment, but still quite far from a dream, considering a hefty commute on a barely working E/F trains (for Eva and Darya, and af…

Things I Do Not Get II

Something's telling me that there will be a lot of posts with this name, that's why I made up a special label for them. This post's issue is taxes, and the thing I don't get is: why if I dutifully put in all my dependents in my W-2 form, and then repeat the process in my 1040 form, I end up owing taxes? And I am not saying hundreds of dollars. I am saying THOUSANDS. The time for taxes is, of course, passed, and all I owed is paid, but why? I was naive enough to actually expect a refund this year, and that refund would help A LOT. Darn it, I am still not over.
In addition to that my daughter's taxes, which I prepared with TurboTax, are proved to be wrong at least on the state level (the state of New York apparently disagrees with TurboTax on the matter of who can claim child care expenses as a deduction—long story short: my daughter and her son were both my dependents for the year of 2007, but she paid for the child care institution, Cassian goes to, and according to…

Is It Just Me, Or...

... the creators of LOST really decided to get rid of some characters—probably so they wouldn't have to develop their stories, for there is already way too many—and drastically change some of the surviving ones? C'mon, Ben is now growing surprisingly 007-ish, and the way he handled those two poor AK-armed nomads in a desert was very much Jason-Bourne-like; move over, XXX, we have a new action hero in town (in all fairness, though, the real spies and assassins probably all look like Ben, and not like James Bond)... nevertheless, fun to watch. I never believed that they will get out of the LOST storytelling maze gracefully, and so far I see no indications of the plot coming together. Oh, well.

Things I Do Not Get

Amongst many things, and in no particular order:

A Web-standard-compliant box model.
Why the default size of the box is determined by it's contents, and why the padding should be added to the overall dimensions. The Internet Explorer's model makes more sense (blasphemy). It does.

Another CSS thing which puzzles me: why I can float things right and left, but not to the center? Right and left here are in fact top-right and top-left, but I sooo could use bottom-right and bottom-left positions as well...

And why decided that vertical margins should collapse? Not a very important one, but still... really, why?

On UPS Communications And Delivery Options

OK. I never had any significant luck when I order something with delivery. One way or another, something will ALWAYS go wrong. The following is merely a documented process of getting the item I bought on the web, delivered by UPS, no rush, regular 2-5 business days option.
Tracking info from UPS website:
US 01/10/2008 6:52 P.M. BILLING INFORMATION RECEIVED
KANSAS CITY, KS, US 01/10/2008 7:17 P.M. ORIGIN SCAN
KANSAS CITY, KS, US 01/11/2008 1:31 A.M. DEPARTURE SCAN
SECAUCUS, NJ, US 01/14/2008 10:30 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN
SECAUCUS, NJ, US 01/15/2008 1:37 A.M. DEPARTURE SCAN
NEW YORK, NY, US 01/15/2008 1:58 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN
01/15/2008 6:48 A.M. OUT FOR DELIVERY

So far so good, right? I was smart, too—gave them my office address, just to make sure I won't miss it.
Now, at around noon I go to the restroom, strangely located outside the office's backdoor, next to a freight elevator, and …

Netscape Is Dead

I feel sooo old. Somehow, when Microsoft announced the end of support for the Internet Explorer for Mac at the version 5.2, I didn't feel that weird, but I always was a bit of a fan of NN—just to stick it to the man, I guess—, even after I switched to Firefox a couple of years ago and made it a primary browser on my Windows machines, having Safari rule my Mac environment. Surviving a web browser may not be a life-changing experience, but it does make one ponder...