T minus 2 days

Did you know that if you book a car on AutoEurope in English, you will pay a higher price than if you book it in French?

I wonder if they get you on the exchange rate, since the English version is quoted in USD.  Hmm.

At any rate (haha, get it?  any rate?? oh, nevermind), we have arranged for a car during our time in Milano.  Normally we would not get a car in a big city, but DH will use it for work and that’s how he is used to doing things when he goes over there.  We are close to the Swiss border, so maybe we can use it for a side trip up there.  Train service to Pontresina isn’t very good, unlike the more popular (but further) destinations.

Yesterday DH spent a good six hours trying to wire a switch.  As you can see here, it was not entirely successful.

2012-09-02 06.58.56

We only have one real lamp in our house. All of the other lighting is in the ceilings (and is on three-way dimmer switches, but that’s another story). (Well, actually it’s pertinent to this story, too.  You’ll see.)

Apparently, the previous owner had a bug in his shorts about being able to walk into a room and flip a switch to light it up like a stadium to turn on the lights.  Either that, or he just didn’t like floor or desk lighting.  And while this was really great when we moved in and didn’t have to go buy lamps for every room in the house, it now poses a slight problem when arranging one’s home for an extended time away.  You see, I can’t just buy one of these nifty things

Outlet Timer
So convenient. Plug in, plug it in, and you’re set.

and be done.  Instead, we have to actually wire a timer into the switch.  Now, this is not as drastic as one would think; there are a number of in-line timers available, and we had a selection of three or four at the local Orange Hardware Store.  Unfortunately, these timers do not understand mood lighting.  They don’t quite know how to handle the whole dimmer switch, you see.  So the first attempt to hook up this switch resulted in having to leave the dimmer switch partially dimmed, which then resulted in a humming noise out of the chandelier.  Oh, and whenever someone turned the dimmer switch fully on, it shorted the timer switch and made everything go off (and we had to cycle the breaker to get it to come back on.)  Not so very useful for an extended stay away.

So, logically, DH took out the dimmer switch and installed a regular three-way (not dimmable) switch.  But apparently, the person who did the wiring in our dining room did it in a very non-standard way, and the timer still wouldn’t work properly.  DH is usually very good at figuring things out, even nonstandard things, but this silly switch had him stumped. There was a lot of “go flip the breaker off” and “hold this test meter against the bare wire sticking out of the wall” and such.   There was furious scratching of electrical schematics on scrap paper.  There was a LOT of swearing and muttering under breath.  There was not, however, a working switch, let alone a working timer.  Finally, frustrated, DH decided to go sleep on it.  I think we are going to forget about timing the dining room light and just put the timer on a different switch, one that doesn’t have three-ways and mood lighting involved.

Meanwhile, I booked (in the dark) our train fare from Milano to Bari.  I was feeling very nervous about getting to Bari with enough time to find the port and our ferry.  This time of year, the ferries to Montenegro travel twice weekly: Sunday and Thursday.  If we miss the Thursday ferry, we are in trouble.  Not visiting Montenegro is not an option, since (a) our relatives would be very upset and (b) we have to get to the airport in Podgorica in order to fly to Paris.  Short answer: we need to be on the Thursday ferry.  So we are scheduled to arrive in Bari at 3:15 PM, which ought to give us a nice big window to allow for train delays, transfer of persons and luggage to the port, and general getting lost-ness before the ferry leaves at 10PM.

I hope we aren’t jinxed now.

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