Monday, 30 April 2012

Oh Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be

Monday morning arrived faster than MrGrumpy would have liked, it was 5:45am when the iPod alarm went off, MrGrumpy prodded the "Snooze" button and returned to his slumber for a few more minutes.
By 6:30am MrGrumpy was ready to leave for work, he joined the uncrowded freeways for his drive to the cube farm, so far travelling in for 7:00am and back out at 7:15pm (ish) kept MrGrumpy out of the majority of the commuter traffic.

MrGrumpy has quite a busy week (work wise), MrWhiteSox is over in the bay area and they have customers to visit. Later in the week MrGrumpy is planning meeting up with MrCrazyRunner for a post marathon beer and burger at the FaultLine microbrewery.

Sometime this week or at the weekend, MrGrumpy needs to take the Toymota Armchair back to MrHertz at the airport, this is bound to cause some frustration as he will need to get public transport back to Sunnyvale. According to MrGoogle it will take about an hour and a half, requires using the BART and the CalTrain and some walking.
pink slip or V5 in english

MrGrumpy got post again today, this time it was the title for the Mustang, so all he is waiting for now is his SSN and he can apply for a driving test.

Some unhappy news, Little MissTatoo and MrGuitarHero have decided to split up, this is sad news for MrGrumpy as they had been together for several years and seemed happy together, MrGrumpy hopes they both manage to move on and are happier as a result.

It was not turning out to be a good day for MrGrumpy, he got news that MrBarneyDog was not well, he had had another fit over the weekend and had later slipped on the stairs, now he is having problems with his back legs, possibly as a result of that fall. Little Miss Naughty is having to look after him, hopefully he will make a full recovery and be back to his normal self soon.

MrGrumpy was worried, MrBadNews normal travels with two companions, so MrGrumpy will have to watch out for the third member of the trio.

Cheap as chips (16GB for £6.90)
While out for lunch, MrWhiteSox needed something from Fry's electrical store, so on the way back they called in. MrGrumpy took the opportunity to get another couple of 16GB SD cards for his camera, so for $46 he now had 4 x 16GB and 3 x 8GB cards. That should keep him going, he is planning on keeping the RAW images on the SD cards until he returns to the UK and offloads them to the server at home.

Whilst out for a meal on Santana Row with MrDanish and MrWhiteSox, MrGrumpy had a run in with a glass of iced water, not once but twice the glass jumped off the table and drenched MrGrumpy. He hopes this completes the trio of MrBadNews and his two companions.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Lazing on a Sunday afternoon

MrGrumpy woke later than usual, it was 7:30 before he got up.  Today he planned to clean the car, it was time to remove the sand and bugs he had collected over the last week or so.

Out with the brand new sponge and bucket, it was now about 9:30 and the sun was already pretty hot, not ideal to use the car wash, so MrGrumpy decided to just rinse the car and dry it off. While cleaning the car he chatted the MrNextDoor who was clearing up all the leaves on his drive. MrGrumpy was able to confirm that there are no bars in walking distance but did get some tips on places to visit and told how difficult it can be to get to Santa Cruz on a weekend. As MrGrumpy tends to get up early this could work to his advantage if he wants to go to the coast on a Saturday morning.
downtown Los Gatos

After cleaning the car, checking the oil and topping up the washer fluid, MrGrumpy decided it was time to go out somewhere, but where...
He did not want to go too far, so off to search the world wide womble, he decides to goto Los Gatos, only a few miles but looks like a nice downtown.
As it was not far, MrGrumpy just put on the aircon, rather that putting the roof down, he found somewhere to park and started walking round the downtown area.
A pint of your finest larger,
please MrBartender
After a while MrGrumpy was pretty hot, he decided it was time for some refreshment, lucky he just found the Los Gatos brewing company. Time for a refreshing pint.

MrGrumpy had also found on the w.w.womble that there was a photography gallery / shop at the Pruneyard shopping mall, so after he had cooled off and refreshed, he drove from Los Gatos back towards San Jose, this time with the top down.

At the shopping mall, he soon found the gallery, there was some very impressive photos, they also do workshops, so MrGrumpy collected some info and had a good look at the photos (
After walking around the rest of the shops, it was time for MrGrumpy to get some food, he went to the Rock Bottom brewery, this time he would be drinking soft drinks with his food. As usual MrGrumpy did not know what he wanted to eat, he did not want too much, so decided on the Blackened Chicken sandwich with french fries, it was a good choice, not too much and tasty.

It was not about 5:30, MrGrumpy headed back home, he relaxed on the sofa, put some music on and emulated a F1 sunday snooze. A couple of hours passed as MrGrumpy lazed on the sofa, it was time for his evening beer and time to watch Mythbusters on TV.

MrGrumpy's Saturday

It was another weekend, MrGrumpy was at a loose end, he did not want to drive too far, but did not want to just sit inside as the weather was nice again. He decided to got the the AutoZone and buy car cleaning stuff as the mustang was looking like it has been dug out of a sand dune. This was not too difficult, he got  a bucket, sponge, cloths, car wash, some new car mats and given his issues recently with tyres, he also got a 12v tyre pump.

Driving back he saw a WallMart and a Best Buy, he needed a couple of things so it was off to do a little more shopping. As usual he walked aimless around the store, finding it difficult to choose what he wanted. As he continued his quest to find something like cream crackers, he found cans of easy-cheese, how can cheese come in a can?
Finally after traversing the store several times his trolley still only contained a few items, crisps (chips for the US readers), Special K, windscreen washer fluid (forgot in AutoZone) a bag of M&Ms and a pair of shorts.
Following this he took a look in BestBuy, still not knowing what he was doing in there, he assumed there must be some gadget worth buying. No he was wrong, nothing in the store was shouting "buy me" so he left and returned to home. It was now nearly lunchtime, MrGrumpy changed into his newly purchased shorts and went out for a drive.

He did not have a specific destination, he was going to head up the twisty Highway 9 from Saratoga and see where he ended up. Through the tight turns the mustang handled quite well, MrGrumpy was wondering how nice it would be to drive the Porsche or ride the BMW on this road.  He was not going very quickly, but kept catching up with people who really were unable to cope with twisty roads, especially MrBWM328i, who seemed incapable of going above 25MPH... as the road continued winding through the woods, the narrow road leaves very little room for error, especially with cars coming the other way. Finally the road pops out of the trees at Santa Cruz, MrGrumpy found another nice spot to park the car and take a walk along the west cliffs of Santa Cruz.
While standing on the cliffs, watching the waves breaking on the shore, he felt something nibbling at the back of his foot. He looks down to see some small rodent scurrying back into its hole. Continuing to watch it pops back out again, nibbles a leaf and darts back into its hole. It did not look like a rat, more like a small wack-a-mole.

Friday, 27 April 2012

MrGrumpy's and the Tyre hose

When MrGrumpy parked his Mustang last night, he noticed the tyres looked a little low on air, so this morning he decided he would stop to the gas station on the way to work to pump them up. Knowing it would require some change MrGrumpy specifically picked up some of the shrapnel (loose change) before he left. 
At the gas station the air/water machine was easy to access, yes it needed cash, $1 (in 4x25cent), good job he had change. While the machine rattled away MrGrumpy fought with the air-hose, the rewind spring was so strong it was more of a workout to get the hose to each wheel that he had expected. MrGrumpy ended up having to stand on the hose with one foot while trying to put the air in each wheel.
As expected the tyres were low, about 20psi, so MrGrumpy filled them up to the recommended 35psi (ish, as the gauge is quite difficult to read with any accuracy). Inevitably due to all the fighting with the hose, the time ran out before he was able to do all 4 tyres, he still had some change, but not enough for another go, so he has 3 tyres at 35psi and one unknown.

MrGrumpy has managed to get two cups of decent coffee today, that has helped him through the morning. By the end of the week MrGrumpy is feeling the effects of the long days, at least MrGrumpy's commute is much less (about 20 mins) than many here, MrFarSide for example has 70miles to do each way (sometimes up to 2 hours if the traffic is bad).

While MrGrumpy was talking to Little Miss Naughty, he saw a hummingbird, the first he has ever seen, it quite small, only about 2-3 inches and was a vivid blue colour (or color for US readers), it did not stay still long, after a few seconds it was off. 

As MrGrumpy approaches his third weekend in the US, he finds it nice to see that his family and friends continue to monitor his blog. The question is how long can MrGrumpy carry on the daily updates, will it drop down as time goes on? As long as people are interested in his grumbles and inane ramblings then he will try and maintain the updates.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

MrGrumpy and the return of the warning light

MrGrumpy had just arrived at the CubeFarm car park this morning as "bling" the tyre warning light on the Toymota appeared again. He parked the car, looked and kicked the tyres, they all still look fine, not having a tyre pressure gauge on him, he decided to ignore it again (for now).
 mmmmmmm, Donuts...

Being a Thursday, MrGrumpy had a nice donut with his coffee in the morning. Today there was also fresh fruit and other healthy stuff, he managed to bypass that and go for the tasty goodies. Later on he did have a bowl of fruit as some had been put in the 3rd floor coffee room. 
MrGrumpy did not eat all of this,
only one of the smaller bowls.

At midday MrGrumpy went with MrFarSide to fetch the mustang. MrGrumpy found it good to see that even locals take the wrong freeway junctions sometimes, as they took a slight detour past the power station. 
The seat on the mustang had now been rebuilt and while doing that they had fixed the electric adjustment which was apparently stuck on the high setting. This is a good thing, as MrGrumpy needs the seat on its lowest setting to stop his head hitting the soft top (now it has padding on the seat). 
There will be no room for MrGrumpy's sombrero, ten gallon or top hat, he will have to resort to a knotted hanky when the soft top is up.

MrGrumpy continued his work, mid way through the afternoon he decided it was time for another coffee, he found the dispensers were empty, so he would have to use MrBeanToCup, which never seems to deliver what MrGrumpy expects. So MrGrumpy put his cup under the machine and pressed the "Milk Coffee" button, lots of steam, grinding noises and then out dribbled some brown coffee looking liquid. But as usual, what MrGrumpy ended up with was not a cup of coffee with milk, but about an expresso cup of coffee and no milk... MrGrumpy grumbled to himself and added some "half and half" to the tiny amount of coffee and returned to his desk.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

MrGrumpy spends a day in the farm

Cubes Everywhere
MrGrumpy arrived at the cube farm as usual at 7am, he had a plan for day, he needed to write some code from scratch, something he does not do that often anymore. It all started quite well, he was making some decent progress, he was making the most of the isolation the cube offers. But that did restrict the amount of coffee he was drinking, only one cup all morning, MrGrumpy really needs to drink a little more coffee. One of MrGrumpy's customer did manage to throw a spanner in his progress, after an unexpected conference call, MrGrumpy switched over to sorting out some sample code which should show his customer how easy the problem they had was to fix, if only they would think or even try doing things for themselves, maybe they would finish their project in record time. It does make MrGrumpy quite grumpy when customers expect to be able to take several man years of work and use it in a totally different way, all without trying to understand how or what the code does. What they are generally trying to do, is not hard, but what they should really do is take the blocks we provide and build their solution around them, that way the would understand how and why it works. After a couple of hours distraction MrGrumpy was able to get back to the project he started in the morning, it was not long before he realised it was almost 7pm, he had not even managed to get another cup of coffee or lunch, so after eating at the office headed home for a well deserved beer (or two).
Coffee is better than the UK office (but this is not difficult)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

MrGrumpy gets post

Another early morning for MrGrumpy, the traffic was a little heavier and MrGrumpy only just made it to the office by 7am ready for his weekly call with the UK team, MrA, MrAB, and MrC.
After the call MrGrumpy escaped from Alcatraz1 meeting room and returned to his cube, on the way he checked for post, wow, for the first time "he had mail".
There were two pieces of mail, the first was the registration certificate for the Mustang along with the sticker (or Tags) for the licence plate. The second was the insurance documents, MrGrumpy was all sorted on the paperwork for his car now.

Todays jobs for MrGrumpy as well as working was to arrange to get a SSN (social security number) and put in his expenses. He had already filled out the form required for his SSN, he looked up the address of the local office and rang the number it said to call before visiting the office, he was surprised that the automated system on the phone used voice recognition and MrGrumpy was even more amazed when it did understand what he said. The call was a total waste of time as all it did was tell him to do what he had already done and he did not need to make an appointment.

So MrGrumpy went to the Social Security office, hidden nicely on the 3rd floor of a nondescript building on East El Camino Real (Mountain View), once at the office the security guard pointed at the touch screen terminal, MrGrumpy selected the New card option and out poped a ticket A48, he sat and waited. This brought back memories of sitting and waiting for hours in the Embassy when getting his Visa. As there were only about 3 other people waiting, he expected the wait to be quite a bit shorter. When called MrGrumpy handed over his passport and filled in document, to his amazement there was nothing wrong, he just sat silently as MrOfficial typed in his details, several minutes later MrOfficial signed and stamped a printed paper and handed it back to MrGrumpy, that was it. MrGrumpy thanked MrOfficial and left, that was very easy, within 2 week the SSN card should arrive in the post.

Monday, 23 April 2012

MrGrumpy went to the mall (and other boring stuff)

After the major outing on Saturday, MrGumpy intended on having a quite day on Sunday, he decided to goto downtown San Jose.
Once he arrived and found somewhere to park, he walked around the downtown area moving from one shady spot to another,  like a vampire he was avoiding the sun.

Johnny Rockets Route 66 burger,  quite a tasty burger
(but not as good as five guys)
It was almost lunchtime but the downtown area was almost void of people, not the shopping area he was expecting to find. So after a few photos (see link on the side menu for photos) and more avoiding the sun, MrGrumpy decided to get a burger for lunch and head off to the mall.

"So this is where everybody is" thought MrGrumpy as he drove up and around the parking lot, every spot was full, until he got to the roof. "argh, have to park in the full sun", he grumbled to himself.

Once inside the airconditioned mall, MrGrumpy decided it was already a bad idea, every shop was designer this or expensive that, he could have been anywhere in the world, not his type of shopping.

MrGrumpy did not stay long, he headed off for a "Best Buy", must be more interesting stuff to look at there, well it turned out he drove out of the car park, two blocks along and then back just the other side of the mall, he could have walked had it been obvious there was other shops outside the mall...

and Sunday was cooler than Saturday!
It was still very hot and MrGrumpy was trying to avoid walking in the sun, the fact the shops outside the mall are about 1/4 a mile apart with no shade was not helping. He looked around BestBuy, then Target, then Office Depot, he was bored now, may as well head home.

At home, he decided to relax, process some photos from the two days, write up yesterdays blog while listening to some music from the iPod, oh and drink a couple of bottles of beer.

Monday again thought MrGrumpy as he woke at 5:00am, soon to be startled by the alarm what seemed only minutes later (5:45am).  Today MrGrumpy had to take the Mustang to get the seat re-upholstered, at work he asked one of the few people he knew if they could give him a lift back when he dropped of the car, the useful MrFarSide (with a last name of Larson what else could I use, either Champagne or TheFarSide).

The Mustang at the upholstery shop,
along with some real classic cars
MrGrumpy left the mustang at the shop and waited for MrFarSide, who soon arrived. MrFarSide was concerned that the "tyre warning" light was on the Toymota Armchair, MrGrumpy had forgotten about that... So they asked to borrow the air-line that was near the doorway, checking the tyres MrGrumpy found the rear tyre was at sub 10 PSI, "uhm, not so good", and pumped it up to 34 PSI. Upon checking the front tyre that was at 50 PSI, so he let some air out of that one. Maybe MrHertz think it is fine as long as all the tyres add up to the right amount...
Not surprisingly the "warning" light was not on during the drive back to the office.

On returning to the office MrGrumpy thought he had better check if his expenses had arrived in his bank, they were paid on Friday and it showed the US account as the destination, so he expected them to arrive by Monday. He checked his US account, nope, nothing there. He then checked his home UK account, nope nothing there either. Upon checking his other account where his expenses used to go into, oh what surprise, there was his expenses. Not in either of the accounts he had expected.
Now he would have to transfer the money to the US himself. Just to make him a little happier, he did send a quick email to the accounts dept. thanking them for the payment and asking if they could put it in the right account next time.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

MrGrumpy's long day out

Yesterday MrGrumpy slightly overdid his sunshine quota, his little drive down to Carmel turned into a much longer drive down Highway 1 and the rugged coastline of California past Big Sur and onto Cambria.

Carmel Beach
Carmel was MrGrumpy's favorite place in America so far, really quaint, nice european feeling but most definitely part of rich america, he could tell by just looking and the number of Ferrari he saw.
Ferrari 430

Strangely enough it was not sunny all the time, down the coast there was a fog coming in off the sea, the fog was very localised. When in the fog MrGrumpy felt quite chilly, he even put the windows up a couple of times to keep out the chill winds. MrGrumpy found himself stopping regularly to take in the view and take a couple of photos.
As the drive was longer than expected MrGumpy found he needed to get some gas (for the car), he prodded the sat nav and requested the next gas station, as usual with these devices, it only reports one that have already been passed, "hum", thought MrGrumpy, must have enough to go on a bit longer, he did not want to retrace his route just to get gas. Onward he went, the gauge was reading between 1/4 and E, so given he had already done 220+ miles, should be good for another 35-50. MrGrumpy did come across a gas station, it was a busy tourist stop, but he was surprised that there was no queue for the pumps.
Upon looking at the price, MrGrumpy had a flashback to being in the UK, $5.34 a gallon, "gulp, not filling up here" MrGumpy thought and proceeded to put in $25 worth (which did not take long). Meanwhile MrSqeegee was promptly cleaning the windshield, even though MrGumpy has said it was fine, "doh, suppose I had better tip him" thought MrGrumpy and gave him a $1 coin.
MrGrumpy continued on his way (with a nice clean windshield), by this time the day was rapidly going by, the decision had to be made on how or if to go back to San Jose. MrGrumpy decided that it would be best to return, but he did not want to retrace back up Highway 1, that would take far too long and it was already about 4:30pm. Consulting the SatNav, MrGrumpy found he could continue on towards Hearst Castle ( and then across to Highway 5 and back the quick way.
Seals on the foggy beach
Just before Hearst Castle, MrGrumpy saw another "vista point", it struck him odd that the car park was full because it was very thick fog at this point and had been for several miles, "may as well take a peek" he thought and pulled into the car park. He was glad he had, the beach was filled with elephant seals, laying there flicking sand on themselves. It was a pity the fog was so thick as this made getting good photos quite difficult for MrGrumpy.

MrGrumpy was now only a few miles before his final stopping point, he stopped in the car park of Hearst Castle, and looked across at the building far upon the top of the hillside, "uhm, dont have time to go up there", so he took a couple of photos and got back into the car. Before driving away he asked the satnav for another gas station, expecting it to report several that were behind him, but no it gave him one infront of him about 5 miles.
This time the gas was not quite as expensive, Shell for $4.799 a gallon, "oh well, have to fill up" he said to himself and proceded to put his debit card into the pump, Ping, try again, Ping try again, Pong see attendent, "grrr" he said and went into the station, "fill er up?" said the attendent and took MrGrumpy's card, to his surprise they keep the card until you have filled up and return to pay. MrGrumpy picked up the Black pump and locked on the filler and stood waiting to see how much it would be. For everyone in england thinking MrGrumpy had just put Diesel into his Mustang, no, just to make things simple the Americans have Green pumps for Diesel and Black for Petr
Well $47.34 (9.85 GAL) later, the Mustang was full and MrGrumpy was ready for the journey back to San Jose. This took him over the hills where there were some stunning views, he did stop to take a couple more photos, but knew he needed to make some progress and he had about 170miles before getting back.
Once on Highway 5 the satnav announced "In 134 miles take the exit", MrGrumpy engaged the cruise control, set it at 74MPH (speed limit was 70) and pointed the Mustang in the direction of San Jose.

MrGrumpy arrived back in SanJose after 8PM, he went to the local store to get a bit of shopping and then had chicken fajita at the nearest barrito place, strangely for MrGrumpy he had only had a coffee (in Carmel) and a can of Coke (at the expensive gas station) all day, so after 10 hours of driving he was ready to eat.
Back at the house, MrGrumpy applied several ounces of Aloe Vera aftersun to his sunburnt head, neck and arms.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

MrGrumpy's update is delayed

Due to driving about 10 hours with the roof down, MrGrumpy is now emulating MrLobster (with added Panda eyes, due to not removing his shades), off to find the Aloe Vera aftersun gell...

Normal Service will continue tomorrow (when MrGrumpy hides from the Sun)

Friday, 20 April 2012

MrGrumpy and another blue sky day

MrGrumpy woke again at 5:25am, annoyingly he seems to wake up at this time every day, it leaves just long enough to fall asleep again before the alarm goes off at 5:45am. MrGrumpy decided to have a snooze for a few more minutes, doh, 6:02am, the fifteen minutes had gone in a blink of his tired eyes.
Dawn is just starting to break at 6am in California, MrGrumpy has his Cornflakes followed by Orange Juice, and then takes his daily Anti-Histamines, by the time he is ready to leave it is quite light, the blue cloudless skies suggest another nice day is to follow.

MrGrumpy's Mustang heading to work @ 6:34am
MrGrumpy checks he has everything he needs for the day (keys, tag, wallet, phone, laptop, camera)  and heads off to work. Today MrGrumpy was going to see if he could remember the way to work without the aid of the SatNav, he should be able too, it is quite a simple route. Strangely the route to and from work (as supplied by the sat nav) are different, making it a circular route, probably due to not being able to turn left somewhere. But anyway MrGrumpy fires up the Mustang and heads to work.

Success, MrGrumpy found his way to work, without any issue, the car park is pretty empty at that time in a morning, most people don't arrive much before 9-10am. MrGrumpy parks the Mustang next to the Tomota Airmchair, he still has it, just in-case something goes wrong, he will return it next week assuming all is well. MrGrumpy has found something which is not ideal with the Mustang, the drivers seat is showing major signs of wear and fatigue after its 159K miles, the foam has just about given way. MrGrumpy decided that it may be worth getting the seat rebuilt, as he is planning on doing quite a lot of driving at weekends over the next year.

MrGrumpy used the MrGoogle and MrYelp to search out a good auto upholstery shop, he found one quite local (well about 15 miles away), it turned out to be quite a good find, an elderly MrDavis, second generation upholsterer. MrDavis was surprised at the good condition of the Mustang, this made MrGumpy a little happier about his purchase, they discussed the options of how to repair / rebuild the seat. It turns out that in the 1990's Ford built their seats by simply filling the seat covers with Expanding Builders foam (effectively)  and with time that just breaks down, there is no additional support within the seat cushion. So no wonder it has given way after 14 years. MrGrumpy got a quote and went back to work to think about it.
After giving it some thought, MrGrumpy decided to apply some "gordonomics"(tm), as he had spent less than he expected on the Mustang, he had some more to spend on fixing it. He rang MrDavis and said he would like to go ahead and get the seat rebuilt.

MrGrumpy has notices there is something about 1998, his Porsche is 1998, the Mustang is 1998 and he got married in 1998, so maybe good things come in threes as well. This along with the 26 degree C sunshine and clear blue skies make MrGumpy much less grumpy, in fact if he was not so far away from his family and friends he may not any where near as much of a MrGrumpy as he is.

Today was a special occasion at MrGrumpy's office, it was the first Friday since both offices in the bay area had merged, there was a free company lunch, which turned out to be quite tasty and came complete with Beer. As the sun is out and MrGrumpy had eaten he decided that he would leave the office around MrKeef o'clock and take a drive up into the mountains.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

MrGrumpy reflects on his first week in the USA

So MrGrumpy has completed his first week in the USA, what does he think and how grumpy is he.

Well he is less grumpy than he was the first few days, he has settling into a routine

  • up at 5:45am
  • Breakfast, Cornflakes followed by Orange Juice 
  • arrive at work by 7am
  • do stuff around lunch time (buy cars, fix cars, just drive around in the sunshine)
  • call Little MissNaughty (aka Wendy)
  • eats at 7pm 
  • go home about 7:30pm
  • watch the 1 channel on TV (Discovery) or listen to music
  • drink a beer (or two)
  • 10:04pm call Little MissNaughty (wake up call to make sure she does not oversleep)
  • 11:00pm ish Sleep
MrGrumpy is starting to be able to translate the american sat nav instructions into something he can follow, he is very wary when the sat nav says "slight right off the freeway" as it generally turns out to be a  270degree banked curve that tightens up on itself, much more like a helter skelter or bob sled run than a "slight right".

MrGrumpy has found that "basic cable TV" actually translates to 1 channel which has anything worth watching, this is one of the Discovery channels, generally either Orange county choppers, a couple of programs about Guns (same style as OCC), deadliest catch or moonshine... so basically the same program with different venues and more or less guns.

MrGrumpy does not understand how Americans don't have local bars, the only "saloon" he found is about 3 miles away and not easily walkable from anywhere (form the outside it looks like an industrial unit, no evidence of it being a bar), so do they only have one beer or do they drive home after being there for several hours? MrGrumpy decided they must be fine to drive home as they are only drinking Bud, and that not real beer.

MrGrumpy is missing is family and friends, facetime, facebook, this blog helps, but at the moment his opportunities to meet new people are limited to the office and coffee room. MrGrumpy is finding it quite difficult to get used to working in a cube farm or locked office, he is used to being able to talk to his fellow MrGeeks and MrPistonHeads and finds the isolation quite difficult. 

Conclusion, MrGrumpy is still grumpy, stuff still annoys him, but the sunshine and technology is helping him to carry on.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

MrGrumpy takes the plunge

Even after just a couple of days looking at vehicles, MrGrumpy was bored of looking, all the vehicles in his budget were what you would expect for 12+ year old vehicles with 150K+ miles on them, all a bit tired. With 2x the budget he could find some very nice ones, but that was not going to happen. After MrGrumpy saw that a BMW was acceptable on insurance, he searched the net for some, found a couple locally, one had already sold (nice looking BMW 540i) and there was a BMW 740iL at a local car lot, so off MrGrumpy went.

At the car lot, there was a reasonable selection, but no BMW. Looking around he found a Camero, Mercedes (24+ Years old SL380), Eclipse spider and a Mustang convertible.  "Uhm, this seem promising" MrGrumpy thought. The Merc was classic, but when sitting in it he just knew it was not right for him. The Eclipse was just out of his budget, but looked nice, so on to look at the Mustang.

Ok, nothing special, just a 3.8Ltr V6 Auto, cloth seats, few chips and scrapes, but nothing out of place for a car of this age (1998), MrGrumpy took a closer look. Engine fired up, quite and no rattles from cold, no plumes of smoke, tidy engine bay, suspension looks quite new, new tyres, soft top is still watertight but showing quite a few signs of wear, overall quite a genuine second hand car (with 159K miles). Off for a test drive went MrGrumpy.

The test drive was better than the V8 Mustang he had driven before, everything seems to work, air-con, heater, windows, soft top. Not the most exciting of vehicles, in fact almost as boring as a Volvo but with more rattles and cheap plastic. MrGrumpy could see this was probably a car that would work for a year without too much going wrong (fingers crossed...), so back to the car lot.

MrGrumpy is not good at haggling, in fact he is pretty rubbish at it really, he manages to get $200 off the $3999, so it was quite a cheap mustang in the first place. Total price with registration, tags, tax and the other hundred things the California DMV want, it was $4200. So MrGrumpy was now the owner of a metallic green 1998 Ford Mustang 3.8 V6 Convertible... (insurance and fuel consumption also helped MrGrumpy decide, oh and the sun was shining and he missed his Porsche convertible).

MrGrumpy decided that he could keep looking but this seems like a genuine unmodified and honest used car, the odds on it being a duff one probably lower than that on a pristine modified and thrashed example. 

Not MrGrumpy's best bit of parking...

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

MrGrumpy goes green

MrGrumpy nearly brought a Green 5.2ltr Dog Durango, it looked OK in the photos, but there was an issue where the drivers seat was not totally secure, it moved about an inch when you applied the brakes, just what you need in an auto, maybe the owner liked to emergency stop all the time. This and the dawning fact that even at US prices for fuel, an average of 11MPG is not good, but it did make a nice noise from the twin drainpipes (especially as MrGrumpy would like to visit various parts of California while he is here). The final straw came with the insurance quote, firstly AAA would not insure MrGrumpy at all (because he is an alien and does not hold a US driving licence), he tried progressive, which allowed him to enter the fact he did not have a US licence, the quote for the Durango came in at over $600 for 6 Months, this seemed a lot.
MrGrumpy decided the Durango was not for him, he checked on-line for the price of a BMW 740i and 540i, they were about $400 for 6 Months.
The search for MrGrumpy's vehicle continues...

Monday, 16 April 2012

MrGrumpy meets MrArfurDaly

MrGrumpy search for a vehicle continues, he made a short list of car dealers to look at during his lunch break.

Cars which MrGrumpy was going to look at included :
  • Dodge RAM 1500 x2
  • Corvette 
  • Mustang x 2
  • Camero 
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse 
So off drove MrGumpy in is rental Toymota Armchair, arriving at the first dealer and looking around he notice nobody came to see what he was looking for, "typical" he thought, when you are interested in look they don't bother you, when you just looking they pounce quicker than a starving lioness on a prime rib.

Anyway, he looked at the Mustang, uhm V6, cloth, not rag top, dent in read quarter, but a nice Blue metallic.
Next to that was the Mitsubishi, nice rag top, clean leather, but a tad too expensive.
On to the Camero, nice looking, bit shabby in places, again too expensive, he did not shout or think "must have".

Away to the next dealer, just a couple of blocks down El Camino Real, the Toymota dealership. MrGrumpy parks and starts looking for the Dodge Rams they had on their web-side. This time the salesman pounce very quickly, MrChubbySalesDude introduced himself and asked if MrGrumpy was from Australia or New Zealand, well it had to happen... "No, England" MrGrumpy replied and then went on to explain what he was looking for.
Over to the Dog RAM's no that is not a misspelling, they were quite low miles, < 130K but the "black" one was a matt gray and the red one hand almost no clear-coat left on the root at all. Generally they looked OK for 50ft, but close up they were quite rough, all cloth seat, no power anything. Nothing really to get excited about, so MrGrumpy said he would be looking around this week and go for test drives at the weekend.
The next and last dealer was a little drive away, MrGrumpy loaded up the "New" Gremlin SatNav and off he went, a couple of messed up exits off the freeway later (grumble, grumble, US CrapNavs all seem the same, at least this one was better then the other CrapNav) he arrives at a very overcrowded car lot.

Here MrGrumpy met MrArfurDaly,  the spelling is not an error, he was the American/Italian/Mafia cousin of MrArthurDaily. All the cars were nose to tail, in fact they were touching, there were about 80 cars in the space for less than 40. "Some interesting motors" MrGrumpy thought, he looked at a corvette, too unloved, pretty tatty, then he saw a white Jaaaaag, looked nice from a distance but the white respray was not the best. After some more discussions about how England is not Australia they then discussed his requirements, he was shown a V6 Mustang, with 200+K miles (only 70K on the current engine),  then over to a red V8 Mustang, leather inside, looked tatty, but fired up and sounded crisp, it had 180K miles, but MrGrumpy decided it was worth taking for a test drive. 
MrArfurDaly got the Mustang out, it was one of the very few which did not need a rubic cube master to get out. Off MrGrumpy drove, his first experience of a V8 Mustang, uhm, not the best of experiences, the steering was heavy, the brakes were wooden, and not a lot of grunt for a V8 4.7ltr, a few of the ponies seem to have left the stable on this one... not to mention the AirCon was about as effective as an ice cube in a furnace (it was a hot day, 72f at least),  MrGrumpy returned the car to MrAfurDaly, who said he would fix the AirCon and lower the price but $500 as I did not want the 0% finance he could offer. 
MrGrumpy told him, he had several other vehicles to look at and would be making decisions toward the weekend.

MrGrumpy returned to the office quite disappointed at the quality of what he had seen, his search would continue...

Coming Soon, watch for the update on MrGrumpy and the Green Dodge Durango...

Sunday, 15 April 2012

MrGrumpy goes vehicle shopping

It was a nice sunny morning, MrGrumpy decided it would be a good day to start looking at what vehicle he could buy. Having found a place with a couple he was interested in, MrGrumpy got into his Toyota Armchair and put the address of the auto dealer into the HertzALot CrapNav and off he went.
All was going well until the CrapNav provided useless instructions on leaving the freeway,  as normal MrGrumpy followed the instructions but still managed to end up hearing the annoying "Recalculating" from the CrapNav. "Once more and it will be out the window" thought MrGrumpy. Finally after rejoining the same freeway he was told to leave the CrapNav instructed him to travel another 3 junctions before leaving.. eventually he arrived at the auto dealer.
MrGrumpy parked on the crowded car lot, quite a few cars and trucks, he walked around looking for the 2 Mustangs and the Dodge Ram he has seen on the internet. No sign of the Mustangs, but there was a Black Dodge RAM 1500, priced up at $6999, on the internet it was $4999 so MrGrumpy continued looking but this was the only one.

MrGrumpy confirmed with the sales girl that this was the same vehicle as on the internet (Sale Price) and went to get the keys for the truck. Looking around the truck MrGrumpy was easily able to look underneath, in fact he could have slid from one side to the other without catching he belly on the truck, there was quite a lot of ground clearance. 

Popping the Hood on the truck reveled a huge 5.2Ltr V8 Magnum lump, quite clean, no real signs of leaks etc. especially given it had 194,000 miles on the clock.

"Time to fire up the beast" MrGrumpy thought, uhm, slight disappointment,  battery was very low, barely enough to rotate more than once. He spotted the concerned look on the sales girls face, she could see the sale evaporating quicker then the 5.2Ltr lump could use gas. MrGrumpy was not going to give up easily, he climbed up into the truck and tried again... A couple of tries later, a bit of gas and it fired up, then died as soon as he let off the pedal. Uhm, sales girls face drops even more... MrGrumpy was not going to give up yet, he fired it up and kept the revs up for a minute or so, then when he let off it started to idle nicely. MrGrumpy suspected the low battery and the fact the air-con was on would not help and decided he had nothing to loose in going for a test drive.

MrGrumpy's expectations were not high, but once running the engine sounded good, a quick check of the electrical functions, seat, windows, mirrors, air-con and heat, were all fine.  The low fuel warning light was on, but on this truck that will show it is down to the last 5 gallons (or 50miles) worth. 
Off we went, no idea where he was going MrGrumpy guided the huge truck around the streets, the suspension was as to be expected on a lifted truck, more wallow than a hippo bouncing on a pool of jelly. Steering was fair, not exactly direct, it required a bit of tweaking, but again I expect some of that was counteracting the previous turns. The dash had suffered as many Californian cars do, the Sun had cracked the plastic cover, it was in about 3 pieces now and the steering wheel showed it's age with the top surface warn away at 12 o'clock. 
MrGrumpy drove for about 10mins and returned to the lot with the truck, no drama, it drove OK really, not quick, not a lot of noise (still had standard muffler, which is about 3ft long and 12" round). MrGrumpy said that the Truck was an option but he was also looking for a Mustang, she went off to find the keys, MrGrumpy had not seen one and when she returned, the Mustang the had was sold yesterday.

So MrGrumpy left the car lot, deciding to look around some more, he has a couple of weeks before finding a car is critical, so time to keep looking (the truck is still an option).

MrGrumpy then headed home, via a coffee shop and wallmart, but after his "issues" with the CrapNav, he decided a quick visit to Fry's Electronics on the way home could be a good idea. MrGrumpy uses his gPhone to lookup the nearest Fry's then taps in the address to the CrapNav, only twice did it try to misdirect him, but he managed to find Fry's, off to choose a new Navigation device... 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

MrGrumpy goes for a drive

MrGrumpy drove down to Santa Cruz, had a cup of coffee and watch the surfers. MrGrumpy's 'cold' turned out to be an allergy so MrGrumpy was still feeling under the weather, it was bright but not very warm, they was a very strong breeze coming in off the ocean.

It was a bit chilly to hang around too much so after a walk MrGrumpy returned to his car and drove out of Santa Cruz up towards Half Moon Bay on Highway 1 (the coastal road), stopping several time to take photos.
Half Moon Bay, California
It was now about lunchtime and MrGrumpy was feeling hungry and thirsty after hiking down to the beach and back up a couple of times, he decided to stop at the next available food. 
After a stop at the "Cameron, British Pub" where MrGrumpy polished off a Burger, coke and fries, he turned off Highway 1 to head back towards San Jose but taking the route along the top of the hills (Highway 35). 

MrGrumpy was starting to get worried, he was feeling better and not very grumpy at all, nothing had annoyed him, "oh well", he thought, there is quite a lot of the day left, surely something would annoy him.

The route went high up into the hills surrounding the San Francisco bay, twists and turn were perfect for motorcycles and sports cars, of which MrGrumpy saw quite a few. MrGrumpy got a little grumpy every time he saw a Porsche Boxster, as he continued to cruise along in his automatic Toymota Armchair.

He turned off Highway 35 onto Highway 9 (towards Saratoga), this road was even more twisty, some really tight bends, MrGrumpy was now getting grumpy as he watched the Motorcyclists sweeping around the bends and off into the distance.

Finally (before the brakes on the Armchair faded) MrGrumpy arrived at Saratoga, nice looking little american town, where he saw a Barbers shop, MrGrumpy remembered that Little MissNaughty (aka Wendy) had instructed him to get his hair cut, so he took the opportunity while he could. The barbers was a classic old american scene, two elderly gents watching TV in an empty shop. It all went quite well, MrGrumpy asked for his normal cut (clipped all over), the barber and his friend chatted about the weather and asked where abouts MrGrumpy was from in Scotland... MrGrumpy corrected them, telling them he was from Cambridge (near London), England. Haircut done, about 10mins (max) MrGrumpy asked how much he owed, $20 came the reply... MrGrumpy paid and left, thanking the two elderly men (and under his breath almost choking on how much it cost).

So finally MrGrumpy returns to his cottage with the picket fence, after stopping to buy some $7 shades and a packet of Skittles (original).

Friday, 13 April 2012

MrGrumpy starts to feel like MrSneeze

This morning MrGrumpy thought he felt a little under the weather, he put it down to jet lag and the rainy weather. Maybe the 12+ hours on the flight and the last few days had caught up with him.
As the day went on, MrGrumpy started to sneeze, one, then another, then his nose started to run. It appears that MrGrumpy was starting to get a cold. Colds make MrGrumpy even more grumpy, it is a good job that nobody else has to put up with him this weekend.

MrGrumpy plans to take his camera out this weekend and do some sightseeing, he hopes that feeling ill won't stop him.

*** update ***

Turns out it was not a cold, MrGrumpy appears to be allergic to California, well more specificity, the pollen (tree maybe), taking anti-allergy drugs seem to be helping...

MrGrumpy's first Friday

MrGrumpy woke, again to the sound of pouring rain, and it was still pitch black outside.
After a quick bowl of corn flakes and a glass of orange juice, MrGrumpy headed off to work.
He arrived at the office by 7:00am, very few cars were already there.

"Time for a coffee" he thought, MrGrumpy has brought his own mug, all the way from Cambridge (and it did not get broken by MrBaggageHandler), the coffee machine ground away, making noises that reminded MrGrumpy of how bad the coffee was in Cambridge.
After mixing an expresso, a coffee, sweetener and some "half&half", MrGrumpy sits down in his cubical and prepares for the day ahead, it is MrGrumpy's first Friday in California and it is Friday the 13th, what could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

MrGrumpy and the warning light

On the way to the office MrGrumpy notices a tyre pressure warning light.

Breakfast in America

MrGrumpy finds breakfast in the office on a Thursday is quite appealing.

MrGrumpy finds MrLost&Found

MrGrumpy got a call from the Airline, the package was at the check-in desk at the airport. MrGrumpy finally managed to get the package back. For a few minutes MrGrumpy felt more like MrNotSoGrumpy...

Day 2 in the ongoing saga of MrGrumpy & Lost Property

MrGrumpy woke to another rainy and dark morning, "I wonder if anybody will bother to contact me today" he thought.  MrGrumpy is still trying to track down the documents he left at the airport.
According to MissImmigrationOfficial, they were found and given to MrLost&Found, so all MrGrumpy needs to do now is find the elusive MrLost&Found.
The saga continues...

** Update **
MrGrumpy had a call with MrBorderGuard and he confirmed the package was not with them and was handed to MrLost&Found at the airline. So MrGrumpy thanked him for his assistance and rang MissAirline who took his number again and said that MrBaggage (aka) MrLost&Found would call me when he arrives at work...

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

MrGrumpy awakes

MrGrumpy woke up very early, so early it was still dark outside. "I wonder what time it gets light in California" he though to himself.  At that moment he could hear birds starting to cheep, it was still dark but he assumes it won't be long before dawn.

MrGrumpy was now in California and wonders which other MrMen he may encounter today, he hopes that MrLost&Found has his documents and is able to get them back.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

24...the following happens in real time, 9:20pm to ...

After 24hours MrGrumpy is finally at the guest house in San Jose, nice and clean, seems a quiet area. Now time to sleep... will continue the disaster recovery project in the morning.


Stressed!!!! 2 hours late due to a faulty smoke sensor on the entertainment system.. Lost stuff, now trying to find stuff.... Don't ask!

At the Gate Special treatment for MrGrumpy

MrGrumpy got to the gate to checkin and the light flashes (last time it did this, my seat got upgraded to Premium), not this time, selected for a Security search, pad down, shoes off, empty bag etc... Should have expected it as they really were not happy about my heavy bag..

Only bonus, the seat next to me in economy was empty, was able to stretch out more than normal, which was a good job as MrPilot and MrFixASensor took two hours to change the sensor.

MrGrumpy Has Breakfast

MrGrumpy was up very early, he checked in his overweight bags where the staff were not happy that MrGrumpy's hand luggage weighed 16Kg. "it is a health and safety issue" they kept repeating, tell me about it, I have to carry it... so MrGrumpy had to promise he would not buy any duty free and would remove his laptops before getting on the plane. (which brings the bag down to only 9Kg, which is still above the 6Kg limit).

Saturday, 7 April 2012


Mostly packed, more due to Wendy than me, 2 cases (1.5 full of clothes - don't know why I need that many, in fact I did not know I owned that many) .

Rucksack has Camera and MacBook Air, a second "Laptop" case with just the MacBook Pro in it, hopefully Virgin won't complain too much about 2 carry on bags.

Countdown to 5:15am Tuesday

Last weekend at home in Somersham, preparation for travel starting (well Wendy is getting my stuff ready).
I have various bits of technology ready to go, but no idea how it is all going to fit in my hand luggage.
  • Macbook Air
  • Macbook Pro
  • D7000 + 18-200 Lens
  • 35mm Lens
  • SB800 Flash gun
  • Multiple Chargers / US adapters
  • iPod Touch
Uhm, that is not going to weigh in below the 6KG limit.

Repaired, well added some additional stitching to stop the straps on my rucksack giving way before I get to the US with my "hand" luggage.
It won't be the first time that my hand luggage has weighed in above my check-in...

Thursday, 5 April 2012

4 days, 23 hrs until the flight to San Francisco

Oh how I am looking forward to another 10 hours in Economy, no doubt I will be crammed into a middle seat due to not being able to choose my seat before I check in (that is what you get with discount economy flight tickets).