Thursday, May 30, 2013

Name Change Adventures, #3

Previously, I got a new Social Security card and a new Drivers License.

Next on my list was tackling my wallet. I was concerned while my license said one name and my credit cards said another that this was the time someone would try to ID me (which they never do, but you know Murphy's Law) and I'd get rejected. I carried a copy of my marriage license around in my purse for awhile, just in case!

My primary bank:
I worked the day shift on console a couple weeks ago, so I got out by 4pm... just in time to swing by the bank before they closed. I brought my ID and the marriage license (and other things they didn't end up needing). Ended up hitting a snag where the bank still had me in the system as a minor (from when I opened a savings account there at 13) so they had to call over a manager to fix that. The name change was easy enough, and that changed it on my debit card and home mortgage too!
I still have checks in my old name (plus an address I haven't lived at for 4 years... I don't write a lot of checks and am still using the free ones I got when I opened my account 5 years ago) but I'm holding off buying new ones until Dan and I have a joint account.

My usual credit card:
American Express has the best system! They have a place in the online account manager where you can scan and upload the relevant documents. They overnight your card too, so I had my new one almost right away!

Other places:
A couple of the other credit card/savings banks where I have accounts were fine with me just calling and telling them I changed my name. I like that it was easy... but I'd also like having to show a little proof now and then!
Along the way I transferred some custodial accounts (me and a parent were on the account together because I was a minor when it was opened) to my name. Usually this involved opening a separate account in my new name and having the $ transferred. I really should have done this 8 years ago when I turned 18 (holy crap I'm old!) but it was a lot of effort so I'm not surprised I tried to not rock the boat as long as possible.

Overall this was a pretty easy part of the name change process, but tedious to call/visit every place you do business and have them make the changes. Stats:
What: Change my name at banks/credit card companies 
Time spent: 90 minutes (waiting on hold/in line at various places; usually spent no more than 5 minutes talking to a human except for the bank)
Cost: Nothin'
Difficulty: Pretty easy, sometimes too easy.

Up next.... I change my name at work. I doubt this is very universal (every company has their own issues I'm sure, and I have the unique position of having two "masters," NASA and my contractor company)  but it is a pretty amusing story, and I figured we could laugh at my pain together.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend

Hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and that you took a moment to think about those who sacrificed their lives defending our country. Around this time I usually think about World War II and the liberation of concentration camps.
Source- Also a good history lesson on that page.
 Though it wasn't my family (my Polish great-grandparents were, luckily, already Americans by the time Hitler came to power), it could have been. Judaism is all about the community, the members of the tribe... what is done to one of us, was done to all of us. And I'm grateful for those who risked or gave their lives to defeat a madman bent on world domination, rescuing my people in the process, and who continue to give me a safe place to call home.

Friday I took the day off from work and spent my day cleaning the house, writing some wedding Thank You notes, and cooking some things the hard way. Dan roasted another beer butt chicken last weekend, so I saved the bones to make chicken stock.
The stock was divided into 3 cup portions and frozen, so I can pull a bag out every time a recipe calls for chicken stock. The boiled chicken will become chicken salad in the near future, too!
I also tried to make challah, but that was a flop. I don't know if the water was too hot when I activated the yeast or if the yeast was too old, but it did not rise at all. Sad.

Saturday and Sunday I spent my days in ISS Mission Control. (Yes, even on a holiday weekend, someone has to watch the baby!). Luckily my awesome husband Dan was at home tacking his very first "Honey Do" list, including the laundry, and smoking us a brisket for Saturday's dinner. Sunday we went to a local Tex-Mex place. I got fajitas, and this delicious mango margarita! We enjoyed the breeze on the patio- we're lucky it was cool enough to sit outside in May!
Me and my hot date!
Monday we headed off early for an Ikea run. We picked up an Expedit bookshelf. The Expedit line is all modular storage- interchangeable and you can even get drawers, cabinet doors, or one of many bins to fit in the cubbies. We didn't do anything fancy (although Dan has his heart set on the attachable desk, which we don't really have room for now), but we did buy some cloth bins and magazine boxes.
Ikea haul!
Dan's "pet" zombie on top, stealing some engineering textbooks!
New bookshelf, and old smaller bookshelf. Many books!
After building, we celebrated with some beer in our beloved Mr. and Mrs. koozies (a wedding present from people who know us a bit too wel!)

Then I made a breakfast casserole for the week. Inside is leeks, spinach and a can of corn, along with eggs and cheese, based on this recipe. While I blog, we're relaxing on the couch, before grilling up some chicken for dinner.(Update: This was DELICIOUS! Highly recommend it!)

Today (Tuesday), a new crew is launching and docking with the ISS (thanks to the new 4-orbit rendezvous capability they can launch and dock on the same day- they only have to spend about 6 hours cooped up together in the Soyuz capsule, rather than the previous 2 days!) and I'm working the evening shift which is the actual docking shift. Read here for more info on the launch and new crew. Look for me on NASA TV! (Launch coverage is at 3:30pm Eastern, docking coverage begins at 9:30pm Eastern)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Honeymoon Recap, part 4

After Israel, there was another sea day.
Learning Italian!

Happy Hour!

Then we went to the Greek island of Crete. In Iraklion, we visited a Minoan palace that is estimated to be 3,000 years old. (Hands down the oldest thing we saw... even older than Jerusalem!)

The palace was discovered and restored in the early 1900s, and sections were reconstructed in concrete. Our guide told us that people refer to this as the archaeological Disney-land for the inauthentic concrete reconstructions. I feel badly that they say this about the guy who dedicated his whole life to reconstructing the palace so people can see what it actually looked like.

This was another half-day tour, so afterwards we stopped for lunch and to wander around the city center. 

Nearby is a Venetian sea-fort from the 1500s so we took a walk down to the waters edge.
Iraklion has city-wide wi-fi, so we took the opportunity to send emails to our parents and snap a pic for facebook. It was windy and pretty chilly though so we grabbed a snack, and headed back to the ship.

Next stop was Naples. We took another cruise tour called "Pompeii and Flavors of Sorrento." First up, a guided tour of Pompeii...

See Vesuvius in the middle? It used to be twice as tall before it erupted and buried the city!


Then we stopped in the town of Sorrento. In the summer it's a popular vacation city for European tourists, but we were there before tourist season so it was pretty sleepy. We wandered around some, and stopped for pizza (what else? All Dan wanted to eat in Italy was pizza.)

Then we headed to a farm for a tour and lunch. Sorrento is full of cliffs, which means not much usable farm land. To be profitable, the farmers use all the land 3 times over: Vegetables on the bottom, citrus trees in the middle, and grape vines across the top.

We saw how they make mozzarella and ricotta cheese (ricotta is a byproduct of the mozzarella process, which was interesting!). Then we ate: meats, homemade mozzarella, and a fresh olive. I HATE olives that come in jars, but the fresh olive was delicious! Then pasta with some of that fresh ricotta in the sauce. There was also homemade wine, and limoncello tasting for dessert!

After that we headed back to the boat for our last night on the ship- the usual farewell show, late night chocolate buffet, and packing.

Snapped a pic of our multinational water bottle collection before we left the ship: Israel, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy.

We took the option to carry our own bags off, which meant we could leave anytime before 9:30. We took the opportunity to have a leisurely room service breakfast before heading out. This was the part I was most concerned about. We didn't have a very good plan, but we had read that the port authority runs a bus service from the pier to the front of the port. Then its only a "short" walk to the train station, where you can hop a train into Rome.
Turned out it was SO easy. The bus ride was long, probably 10 minutes or so, to the front of the port, but we didn't have a map, so we just took off away from the port on the road they dropped us off on, hoping it was the right direction. Sure enough only about 5 minutes later we passed a sign with the train station symbol saying it was ahead in the direction we were walking.
After only about a 10 minute walk, there it was! We bought tickets and the next train was leaving in about 20 mins. Perfect timing!
The train was a commuter train type that didn't have a lot of room for our big bags, but we made it work.
We arrived at the main train terminal in Rome. From there it was another 15 min walk to our hotel (mostly downhill thank goodness!). My sweet husband let me wheel the lighter bag as we dragged them through the city streets.