Friday, April 21, 2006

Pen blwydd hapus, Lizzy

  • Happy birthday to the Queen. One thing I've always admired about the queen is the fact that -- with the exception of this year -- she usually celebrates her birthday in June, which is far more agreeable, weather-wise, than April. If I am made King of Wales, the rule will be that we celebrate my birthday on the first really nice weekday in July.

  • In honor of the queen's birthday, my dad made scones for breakfast. There is no punchline to this, really, but it's still pretty amusing. My dad has visited the UK once in his life and most of his knowledge of the place comes from British detective novels and Monty Python. This does not prevent him, however, from frequently affecting a Britishy accent. The accent sounds a lot like an Australian attempting to imitate Winston Churchill without ever having heard what Churchill sounds like.
    I would make fun of my dad more were in not for the fact that I frequently catch myself doing something similar. This morning I was on the phone with an estate agent in Cardiff, because I kind of want to live here, and I caught myself ever so slightly lightening my speech.

  • Not surprisingly, it looks as if securing a place to live is going to be a challenge. Of course it has to be a challenge. Getting accepted into Cardiff University was surprisingly straightforward and easy, so getting to Cardiff University must be an unending snafu.
    Today's dilemma: Chris lives 4,000 miles away.
    WOMAN ON PHONE AT ESTATE AGENT: "We can set up a showing with you on..."
    ME: "Right, that won't really work for me, because I'm in the United States at the moment."
    WOMAN: "OK, well when you arrive in Cardiff, just give us a call and..."
    ME: "No, see, I want to set up a place to live before I get there, so I'll have a place to sleep when I get there."
    WOMAN: "But, normally, we don't like to let a property without the tenant having a chance to see it. Are you sure you won't get a chance to visit Cardiff before..."
    Am I sure? 'Oh, hello, I forgot about this ticket for a transatlantic flight that was in my back pocket.'
    ME: "Yes. My wife and I won't arrive until July 11, on which date I would like to move into our new place."
    WOMAN: "But, normally, see, we don't like to let a property without..."
    ME: "Right. But I'm 4,000 miles away. I see this one property on your website, and I'm interested in it -- perhaps if you could just tell me more about it. I am calling you because you were recommended by a few people, so I'm willing to take a bit of a gamble on not actually seeing it before signing the lease."
    WOMAN: "Well, it's a big thing with us, we don't like to rent a property without the tenant having an opportunity to.."
    ME: "Is it a legal requirement? Are you legally required to physically show me the place?"
    WOMAN: "I don't know. I don't think so."
    ME: "Well, as I say, I'm willing to gamble that you are trustworthy..."
    WOMAN: "And you really can't get here before? Just to look at it?"
    ME: "No."
    WOMAN: "I'll have the letting agent call you."
    The letting agent never called. After thinking about it, I wonder if perhaps what is important to them is not that I see the place, but that they see me. When I call them back, perhaps I will start the conversation with: "Hi, my wife and I -- who are white -- were listening to our Norah Jones CDs and we saw this property on your website..."

  • Does anyone have any Sallie Mae student loan horror stories they want to share with me before I sign my life away to them?

  • My buddy Eric has been one of my best friends for almost 20 years. Mark today as the first time he has read my blog, even though I've told him about it millions of times:
    "Eric, I have this blog and..."
    "Blog. You're a loser."
    "No. Well, yes, but it's kind of fun and..."
    "Blog = loser. Stop talking."
    "Here, I'll forward you to a link to my blog and you can read it and..."
    "You know what a blogger does? He doesn't win. Someone who doesn't win is also called a loser."

    Ruthie said...

    Good luck finding a place to live. Maybe you should make a portfolio and resume that you can send to the landlords. It should include pictures of you and your wife, your current living situation (so they know you aren't complete slobs), a picture of your closet (so they can see how well you dress) and of course paycheck stubs and other financial responsible indicative documents.

    TotallyHappened said...

    I have Sallie Mae student loans. I haven't had any problems, other than the fact that they do actually want the money back at some point before I die. Their website is really good too.

    Jenny said...

    Let me just put my patronising teacher hat on:

    Have you checked if the University owns any flats or houses that they rent to mature students or students with families?

    My University owned some very nice city centre flats for people who didn't want to stay in dorms. The only requirement was that you were a registered student.

    Neal said...

    Your friend is a loser since he doesn't blog.

    Samsung said...

    Tell the agent to shut up and take your money.


    Anonymous said...

    Just kidding.
    No wait...
    Trust me, nobody wants me to blog because I have the wrting skills of a donkey in heat.

    tuckmac said...

    Just two things...

    First, Sallie Mae's always been pretty good... But like Charlotte said... They chase after you like the dickens when you're done with school... But they're pretty nice about it, I suppose.

    As to the property you linked to...

    It looks like it's either CURRENTLY a council-flat, or it USED to be a council-flat.

    Be careful, as I lived in a place called "Spring Lane" in Canterbury... Spring Lane is full of current and former Council-flats, and while the flat I was in, wasn't bad... The neighbourhood sucked!

    I'm sure Jenny or Hue could tell you more about council-flats than I...

    Good luck with the property agent... Man. That was funny. Well, funny to read, I'm sure not that fun in which to actually participate... But I digress.


    Astrid said...

    You are wrong there about the weather, Chris. Oh, how we all LOVE weather-talk, huh? These days it is extremely warm here in the UK and I feel bad, coz my summerclothes are still in Holland! Don't forget to bring your suntan-lotion when you come to the UK!!!

    Anonymous said...

    Oh, and I will once again out myself as a friendless Queen-lover by stating the following fact:

    The Queen will still be celebrating her birthday in the summer. She celebrates her actual birthday in April with parties and walkabouts and stuff, then she has an official birthday in June with parades and soldiers and horses and stuff. She gets two birthdays, I get lots of monarchy bang for my buck - everyone's a winner.

    ozstriker said...

    which uni are you going to? that looks like it's miles out of town - nearly in llantrisant not Cardiff! Maybe you wanna try Keylet, imperial, cps, or pinnacle. They're more central around the university area. There's plenty of places that are away from typical student areas enough that you wont get a traffic cone on your car in the morning, or find that your milk's been stolen by a stragler with the munchies at 5am but you still don't need an internal flight to get into town/uni... or talk to to Curly he's always up here!

    p.s. odd mam wedi clywed am dy Flog ar Radio Cymru echddoe, ac wedi siarad am e gan fod blod gyda fi - cyd-ddygwyddiad doniol gan bod hi'n 'nabod Curly hefyd!
    by the way... that was not insulting to anyone... it just wouldn't mean anything to anyone but chris (literaly)!

    Chris Cope said...

    Well, I feel a little better about going with Sallie Mae. Now, if only those bastards would process my loan.

    Miss (Jenny) -- You're right that the university has married housing, which would almost certainly be less work than all this, but we would not have been allowed to move in until a week before my course starts. That would have meant missing Eisteddfod, missing the summer, living with my parents for that much longer, and only having a week to adjust to the time difference (I've only just gotten over the jetlag from Dublin). Oh, and they would have kicked us out at the start of next summer.
    Also, you have a Queen-loving friend in me. Want to go to Proms in the Park with me? I can't think of anything more absurd than an American and a Scot singing "Rule Britannia." We will take pictures and revel in our shame.

    Eric -- Donkeys in heat are big now. Sexed-up ass-lit is a growing niche market.

    Tuckmac -- No worries. All reports from Cardiff are that this is an alright area, albeit a bit far away from where everything is happening (see Ozstriker's comment).

    Astrid -- The British sun can be surprisingly powerful. I've always been confused by that. Thankfully, they don't have to deal with it too often.

    Ozstriker -- Mae lawer o bobl yn dweud wrthaf i bod ei fam neu ei famgu'n gwybod pwy ydw i. Rhyfedd iawn.
    I know it's a bit of a stretch, but not as far as all that -- in between Danescourt and Fairwater stations. Apparently a taxi from city centre is about £6. Keep in mind that I'm married to a woman who does not drink, so being really close to all the good pubs doesn't mean anything to her. I plan on becoming quite familiar with the buses (hey it's 10 minutes late again!) and trains.

    Thomas said...

    Some people are still waiting for their birthday wishes EIGHT DAYS LATER!

    Thomas said...

    Some people are still waiting for their birthday wishes EIGHT DAYS LATER!

    Crystal said...

    happy birthday thomas. gah...

    now i am not so interested in your writing as i am in your new hairstyle. as someone once said, "that's sexay!". no, i am not a blogstalker, but boy, is it refreshing to know that the funneh guy behind the words is really effing sexay. and no, i have not turned into a blogstalker since you cut your hair. i have always been one. :P

    Samsung said...

    You think I'm crazy?

    Chris, I am shocked. How could you say such a thing?

    Hey--the crazy is part of my charm though, and I embrace my craziness.

    There's worst things in life. God could have made us stupid.


    Lindsay Hansen said...

    I have been happy with Sallie Mae. My difficulty came when I tried to consolidate them to "lock in" low rates. But I used Collegiate Funding, which seems to be run out of someone's closet.

    I had a hard time talking the manager of my first LA apartment renting over the phone, but she gave in. You'd think agents would realize that YOU'RE the only potentially being screwed, not them.

    Anonymous said...

    ***Warning*** Before siging your life away to SALLIE MAE, make sure you know everything there is to know about the loans. They will try to put the ol' switcheroo on you and give you a private loan. I accumulated a MASSIVE DEBT (interst only was over $10,000) to them in undergrad. But don't believe a word I say, find out for yourself. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau, do a Google search of "Sallie Mae Horror Stories" or "Sallie Mae Fraud." I am not trying to scare you, only hoping you can make a more informed decision than I had.

    There are a good number of people hurt by this company, and in response:
    I believe SALLIE MAE preys on the young and naive and steals dreams and opportunities. If I had known a bachelor's degree would only allow me to make more money that will go directly into the pocket of SALLIE MAE, I'm pretty sure I would have given up that dream a long time ago. THOSE OF US WHO FEEL THE EFFECT OF SALLIE MAE MUST UNITE. Please contribute your SALLIE MAE horror story or advice here or send an e-mail to "". I am in the process of gathering as much information and personal stories as possible (I will not use nor release your name or any personal info gathered; also please don’t give out, post or send me specific personal info). If the response is large enough, I will purchase a web site for the sole purpose of helping people cope with SALLIE MAE and hopefully help future borrowers stay out of the lasting grips of SALLIE MAE. OUR VOICE WILL BE HEARD!

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    Anonymous said...

    Radyr is a fair way out of Cardiff - you would be much better looking at a letting agent who is in a more central location like Maverick Property Management in Cathays, Cardiff.