Gas station without pumps

2018 October 19

Fast passport renewal

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:01
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Both my California ID and my passport expire simultaneously at the end of November, which would leave me without a legal ID.  I went to the California DMV site to see what the procedure is now for renewing the California ID, and found that I needed a current ID.  OK, if I go before the end of November, everything is cool, right?

But when I tried at the beginning of October to get an appointment to renew the ID, the earliest appointment they could give me was the middle of December (about 80 days)—after all my legal IDs expired!

So I looked up how quickly I could get a new passport, to see if I could have that before the December deadline.  The usual renewal process looked a little iffy, but expedited passport processing and express mail in both directions looked like it should be more than fast enough, even with the worst-case projected times.

So I had my wife take a picture of me with a white background, cleaned up the background and adjusted the exposure with Photoshop Elements, and took the picture to Bay Photo for printing on 2×2 photo paper.  They couldn’t do that on the spot, but they mailed it to me at no extra cost (given that the print cost only 65¢, they probably lost money on the deal).  The photo printing and mail took about 2 days.

On October 12 at 2pm, I used Express Mail from the Post Office to send in the form, the photo, my about-to-expire passport, and a check.

On October 19, just after noon, I got the new passport in the mail (separate delivery from the usual mail).  So the passport delay was less than 7 days (10 days if you count the slow process I used for getting a passport photo).  Only the passport book came by express mail—I’m still waiting for the passport card.

The total cost was $241.20, including the photo, the express mail each way, and the expedited passport processing.

I now will have legal ID to take with me for my mid-December California ID renewal.  In ten years time, when I need to renew both again, I’ll probably try to do the passport 6 months ahead of time, so that I don’t need to worry about expediting it.

2012 March 24

Not a wasted trip to DMV

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:46
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Last week, I posted about cycling to the Capitola DMV in the rain with my son, to get him a California ID card, and our disappointment when we got there that they couldn’t process the application, because their computers were down and had been down for over an hour and a half.  They did give him another appointment for Monday afternoon (on his way back from his Spanish class at the community college). On the way back from the DMV last Friday, we got him passport photos to renew his passport, and his mother went with him to a post office in the afternoon to file the passport application (paying express fees so that we would get the passport in time).

I ended that post with

Now we’ll have a race to see whether the Federal government or the state government can provide acceptable government-issued ID in the 4 weeks we have before we next need to fly.  (We paid for expedited service on the passport, so the official estimate is 2 weeks.)

Well, it was a very close race.  The passport arrived this morning, and the California ID card this afternoon.  It is a little hard to say which is faster though—do we count the DMV from the first visit (in which case it took 8 days and a few hours) or from the second visit (5 days)?  Does the passport count from the first or second visit also (8 days or 7 days and 20 hours)? I suppose I should consider DMV to be the winner here, as we were not paying them for expedited service—this was their normal service, and they were only a few hours slower than the passport counting from the first visit.

Both the passport and the ID card came faster than promised and with plenty of time before the flight for which he needs them (at the end of April).

[Incidentally, this is my 600th blog post.]

2012 March 16

Wasted trip to DMV

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:03
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My son, who recently turned 16, and I cycled down to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office in Capitola this morning to get him a California ID card. He needs a government-issued ID to get on the plane next month, and his passport will have expired. We had made an appointment on the DMV website for 10:20 a.m.

We put on our rain gear this morning (rain jacket for him, jacket and pants for me) and made the 5.5-mile bike ride.  You can imagine our disappointment when we got there to find out that the DMV computers had been down for an hour and a half, and that the office could not do anything at all with the DMV computers down. The most they were willing to do was to write down that we had showed up and give us a new appointment time for next week—they had printed the list of appointments for the day before their computers crashed, and hand-wrote notations on that list.

I’m old enough to remember when people were capable of accepting paperwork to be processed later and hand-writing receipts for payments. Without their computers doing all their record keeping for them, the DMV were literally incapable of doing any of the functions of their office.  I understand that this failure of the DMV computers is not a rare occurrence either—they had preprinted “computers are down” signs on their doors that were looking a little ragged from heavy use, and their computers had been down for 2 hours yesterday also.

I wonder why the DMV computers are so fragile.  Systems designed by the lowest bidder?  Incompetent IT staff? Sabotage by disgruntled hackers?  This was not a local outage, but a state-wide failure of the DMV computers (or so we were told).

So as not to completely waste the 11-mile roundtrip, we picked up the form for applying for the ID card (the DMV refuses to put the forms on their website, for reasons that remain completely mysterious: “The department does not provide the DL 44 or DL 44C online because original signatures are required on the form, and each DL 44 or DL 44C contains a unique barcode which must be scanned or keyed by the DMV employee.”  Why they can’t put barcode stickers on forms to track them is beyond me.

We also stopped on the way back to get passport photos so that his expiring passport can be renewed. We got to the post office around 11:15, only to find that the passport desk is closed 11–12:30 for lunch.  He managed to get there after his physics class (which ended at 2:30) and before his improv class (at 3:30).  His mother walked down to the post office to meet him there, so that she could pay for the passport and to show her identification as his parent.  (I had to cycle up to campus to give a short talk about my research to next year’s prospective grad students.)

Now we’ll have a race to see whether the Federal government or the state government can provide acceptable government-issued ID in the 4 weeks we have before we next need to fly.  (We paid for expedited service on the passport, so the official estimate is 2 weeks.)

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