Tuesday, January 2, 2018

How (not why) we moved from Hawai'i to the Mainland

In a few days, it will be exactly two years since we moved to Tennessee (and more than five years since my last blog post, apparently). I've been meaning to write this for some time, hoping to help at least one other family who is preparing to make the hop across the pond. Judging by recent news, it remains a pertinent topic.

Before I get into the nuts and bolts, I'd like to stress how important it is to start early, do your research, and plan ahead (remember, this is based on our move two years ago, so some of the information will be outdated). The more you're able to do up front, the easier -- and cheaper! -- it will be to relocate.

I found the most economical way to move books and CD's is via USPS Media Mail. In order to maximize the benefit, we aimed for about 65 pounds per box. We used small and medium heavy weight moving boxes with double wall construction. There are specific requirements for Media Mail and the packages are subject to inspection. This method is also the slowest. Although the USPS website says 2 to 8 business days, it ended up being more like 4 weeks for us.

Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes are a good option for small, dense items that you might need up until the last minute, like a small frying pan or other kitchen utensils. The quality of boxes isn't great, however, so several of ours arrived smashed or torn.

We went with M. Dyer and Sons. I was not paid for an endorsement, do not get any kind of referral bonus, and am not otherwise affiliated with the company. All you are getting is my straight up honest opinion, but it should not stop you from doing your own due diligence. M. Dyer wasn't the lowest estimate, but I'm glad we picked them for these reasons:

1) Nothing broke -- This was the most amazing part of my experience with M. Dyer. They packed everything from fragile stemware to furniture and every single item arrived in pristine condition. We can't say the same for the stuff we packed ourselves and brought with us. On that note, they will tell you not to pack anything yourself. LISTEN TO THEM, regardless of how hard it might be to stand around and watch.
2) Accurate Estimates -- I've been burned before by going with the lowest cost provider for a local move (the actual price paid turned out to be almost three times higher than the quote!), so there's real value, at least to me, in accurate estimates. M. Dyer was spot on. On the cost side, we actually came in a little under the original quote, which was a nice surprise. We were told total transit time would be 4 to 6 weeks. Not really knowing what to expect, we planned on 5 weeks plus a couple extra days for holidays. Our stuff arrived exactly when we hoped it would.
3) Responsive Communication -- They were quick to answer questions and clearly laid out what needed to happen and when. Once our stuff was packed up, they provided regular updates. I knew when the containers left Honolulu and when they arrived at the port in Long Beach, California. From there, we were put in touch with the logistics company coordinating delivery. The transition was smooth and seamless.

Although it may seem extravagant, we flew first class. Luggage fees and weight restrictions were the biggest factor in that decision. In coach, each of us would have been limited to 50 pounds per checked bag and paid $25 for the first, $35 for the second, and $100 for the third. At the time, first class ticket holders were allowed up to 3 70-pound bags (though I think current policy is just 2 bags). In order to save some money, we purchased out tickets as far in advance as possible -- about two months -- and left Honolulu on a Tuesday redeye. When you factor in the fees, we ended up spending about $300 more per ticket than we would have spent flying coach. It was worth it for the extra space and lie-flat seats to Dallas-Fort Worth, particularly since we were traveling with two small kids.

Comment below or find me on Twitter. If you are a transplant from the 808 now living in the 615, hit me up. We can grab some L&L in Franklin (even though it's not quite the same) and exchange stories from our hanabata days.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Starting Something New

It's no secret that I've struggled with material for this blog. In fact, I've managed just one (somewhat trivial) post in the last year. Yeah, that's a whole lot of nothing. Part of the problem is that producing quality content is tedious work. And then, after investing countless hours taking and editing pictures and writing up reviews, it's not like people were clamoring to read this stuff. In addition to the time, let's face it, there are sites (like my friends at Nonstop Honolulu) that just do it better. So after much thought and consideration, I've decided to take this blog in a slightly different direction and chronicle my own personal experiences in the kitchen. I think I could keep up with weekly updates, and while I hope you will find the information useful, these posts certainly won't be as visually appealing as all the food pics. We'll see how this goes...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

iOS 5 on iPhone 4

Wow! Has it really been two months since my last blog post? I guess I should get crack-a-lackin'...

I've been running iOS 5 since day 2. I would have downloaded it on release day, but with Clear throttling my Internet connection, it took hours to download the 700+MB update. There are some cool new features that have been heavily publicized (my favorites being the changes to the Camera app and they way push notifications are displayed in the new Notification Center). Here are some other things I've observed:

1) Safari is notably slower. Actually, all apps seem to take longer to load, but the difference in speed, is most pronounced when surfing the web. Perhaps this is where having an A5 chip would make a difference.

2) I stumbled across an interesting little quirk in the Music app. Files with unknown artist and album names won't play. The weird thing is that the app continues to run (thereby draining your battery) and you'll see the little triangle in the upper right, but there's no sound.

3) Autocorrect has changed. I can't decide if it's better or not, but the suggestions for Hawaiian names and terms are different than they were before.

I have yet to try iOS5 on my iPad, but since I have the original, I would imagine the performance would be about the same as it is on my iPhone 4. What has your experience been like?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Loveless Cafe | Nashville, Tennessee

The Nashville area certainly has its fair share of popular restaurants. Loveless Cafe's famous "Biscuit Lady," Carol Fay Ellison, has been featured on several nationally broadcast TV shows, including The Today Show, The Ellen DeGeneres show, and Throw Down with Bobby Flay. Sadly, Carol Fay has passed, but her legacy lives on in the delicious, down-home Southern cooking and warm hospitality that defines Loveless.

I've heard that it can get ├╝ber crowded in there (with wait times of over an hour) so I went early on a weekday. Even at 4:45 pm on a Tuesday, the place was still half-full... and filling up quickly by the time I left.

Loveless Cafe
8400 Tennessee 100
Nashville, TN 37221
(615) 646-9700
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I love how the cafe has made a real attempt to stay true to its roots. Even the signage out front gives you a sense that you're being taken back to the days long before iPhones, iPads, and anything digital.

The cafe actually started as a motel and much of the original architecture has been retained and repurposed.

Here's a shot of the cafe's renowned biscuits and jam. The preserves are all homemade and I picked some up at their "Hams & Jams" store before I left.

I figured the Southern Sampler was the best way to experience lots of different flavors without getting too crazy. I must confess: I ate the WHOLE THING! So much for not getting too crazy...

BBQ is to Tennessee what plate lunch is to Hawaii. Hey, when in Rome...

I love collard greens. That is all.

The fried chicken was supposed to be one of their signature dishes, but I found the meat dry and tough to chew. The ham, on the other hand, was out of this world. I guess the hog is king in this part of the country.

Rounding out the plate is fried okra, another classic Southern side dish.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint | Nolensville, Tennessee

Featured on Guy Fieri's (@guyfieri) Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, I had to check this place out and try the highly acclaimed "Redneck Taco." It truly lived up to the hype.

Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint
7238 Nolensville Road
Nolensville, TN
(615) 776-1856
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Martin's has made a name for itself with its "whole hog" approach to barbeque. The meat is cooked over low heat for hours, resulting in tender, smoky awesomeness.

If you live in the area, you can cater from them too. This is one serious mobile operation. How cool would it be if this thing showed up at Eat the Street Kakaako?!

Here's the famed Redneck Taco. It's a cornbread pancake topped with smoked pork shoulder, slaw, and their special Sweet Dixie sauce. Yum!

Wanting to sample as much as I could, I also ordered the Brisket Taco. It was good, but if I ever go back, I'd probably just order two Redneck Tacos instead.