Moving In (August 3, 2005)
We did find a humane day care for Chaya: Corner Clubhouse Day Care.
It's not chic, it won't push aside the Frontenac Club as the leading
preschool for ambitious parents, but the teachers are friendly and caring,
the facilities are pleasant, and they treat the children with respect. Now
we just have to wait and see if Chaya is willing to stay there.
Mirabile dictu, we were paid on July 29, for our July work.
For anyone familiar with the usual procedure at universities, this
is truly astonishing. I have never known an academic institution to
pay salary less then two months after one has started working there. When
Julia was at the European probability institute Eurandom, she didn't get
paid the whole five months that she was there, and they only coughed up her
salary in the end when she pointed out that if they didn't pay her salary,
they couldn't very well expect her to repay the moving expenses (which they
wanted her to return because she had terminated her postdoc early. Anyway,
Queen's University bureaucracy is remarkably speedy in at least this one
We found a lovely apartment, on Wellington Street, right between the Queen's
campus and downtown Kingston. The street is fairly quiet (in summer,
at least), but just around the corner from the main public library, two blocks
from the central shopping and restaurant district of the city, two blocks
from the lake, and about a ten minute walk from the Queen's campus. In
typical Kingston style, the apartment was called a "three bedroom", but that
requires that the living room be designated a bedroom. It could be,
and probably has been, but this points up the absurdity of the North American
tradition of describing apartments by the number of bedrooms, rather than
(as in Germany) stating how many square meters of space it has. The
result is that most apartments are "spacious", unless they are "cosy". This
apartment is very large: well over 100 m^2, I would estimate, occupying one-and-a-half
floors of a three-story brick Victorian, but the lower floor is mostly a single
large open space, divided into three rooms by doors that are lovely, but
even when closed they do not cut out anything that looks like a conventional
bedroom. Still, the only way to represent in the standard form that this is
a large apartment is to arbitrarily up the bedroom count.
Moving our possessions
After reading some of the stories on websites like Moving Scam, I was a tad nervous about entrusting
all of my books and other valuables to a moving company. We got severaly
weight estimates from reputable firms, which diverged wildly: North American
said 4500 lbs. (close to my estimate), United said 6500 lbs., and Atlas said
6750 lbs. Since these were "binding not to exceed" estimates -- that
is, the price would go down if the true weight was less, but could not be
increased, I went with Atlas (and their Canadian subsidiary AMJ Campbell).
Much to my astonishment, they came up with a true weight over 8000 lbs.
Our few scraps of furniture (including 20 bookcases) turn out to be heavier
than I thought. In any case, apart from the uncertainty about the price,
I am quite happy with their service. On August 2 everything was delivered,
and damage was negligible (though they gratuitously increased it by botching
the one piece of furniture, a wall unit, that they were supposed to reassemble).
The total cost of the move will probably come out around US$8000,
including about a month of bonded storage. This is significantly more
than I had anticipated, unfortunately, since the university is paying our
moving expenses, but would have required that I request an increase from
the standard limits at the time we negotiated the employment contract.
I had to go to the Revenue Canada office in Kingston (also just a block
from our apartment), to clear our possessions through customs. I had
put a great deal of effort into a detailed list of all our possessions, together
with an estimate of their value, as required. The friendly Revenue agent
copied the total value from the bottom of my list and stapled the list to
the official form, without ever glancing at the contents of the list, much
less at the contents of the boxes.
Then I met up with the moving truck back home. The crew was efficient
and polite, and had the truck empty in three hours, including tedious searches
for about ten items whose numbers failed to be checked off. Damage was
minor, and was produced mainly on-site, by their incompetent attempts to
reassemble furniture that their colleagues had disassembled at the origin.