Friday, September 23, 2005

Happy Birthday Mom & Dad

Chris thought that it would be a good idea for us to make it to our Parents for their birthdays this year, and last weekend was the time. I drove out to Portland after work and got on a plane, and 1.5 hours later was in San Fransisco International airport with no way of meeting up with Chris. After wandering around near the Alaska air counter for an hour, I finally got a page from Chris on the white courtesy phone, and we met up.

I mention this, because I used to be much more organized before I had a cell phone. Now that I do not have a cell phone (temporarily) I realize how much I depend on it.

Anyway, the weekend went pretty well. We spent most of one day setting up an HDTV (minus the HDTV box, which we forgot to order) and most of the second day setting up Macintosh toys (OS X Tiger, Garage Band, and two new iPod Nanos).

So... I now need a new HDTV, a Nano, Garage Band, a Mac Laptop, and an M Audio keyboard. I figure going home last weekend set me back about $3000 in future expenses.

Ach. Well, I'm poor right now, so not much risk of any of that actually getting purchased. But - it's going on the list of crap to buy when we finally sell the condo.

In other news, I am still alive, but I'm really busy at work and can't read / post from there right now. I'm hoping that in the next few months I can get it all under control there, but right now there is really just time for work. I do have a laptop at home again, though, so as soon as I find my wireless card I should be able to work online a bit more. Right now I can only get online on the couch, which is OK but I'd rather be over there (in the chair...)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Did I mention I suck at updating these things?

I am a bad person.

I promise everyone that I'm going to get around to updating this thing with useful information, then go about a month without even logging in to the site to see if there are comments or questions.

Well, I can't say I didn't warn you (it is in the disclaimer at the top of the site) but I probably should try a little harder -- and it's difficult to claim that I don't have any free time...

So. Here is the slightly longer version to catch up those of you who are playing along with the home game. At the beginning of August, I quit my job with the cable company in San Diego (who I'm going to keep nameless, just because there are people there reading this and I'm sure they'd like to remain anonymous) and started the process of moving to Oregon.

If I had it all to do again, I think I would be a lot less optimistic about how long it actually takes to pack your life into a Uhaul truck. That's the first lesson that you all need to take away from this. Do not understimate the amount of work it can take to move a "two bedroom" condo into the Uhaul that they say fits a 2-3 bedroom condo. I say "two bedroom" because I wasn't really considering that we also had a 5*5*10' storage unit full of crap that we were taking with us.

Moving was a bit of a fiasco. I lined up three guys from work to help me move, but of those guys only one showed up to help. This was a bit of a pain in the ass. I'm still not really sure why the other two guys told me they could help but didn't show up. I'm not really bitter about it, just kind of curious. No matter what the reason was, I was kind of in trouble. My wife and I weren't going to be able to get it done with just the one other guy, so I ended up calling up my old neighbors and getting them to help with their two kids. Tina and Ben were a life saver - I don't think we would have gotten out of town without their help.

So. Mistake #2. I had the truck rented for 5 days, so our plan was to drive that first night (after loading the truck) to Modesto, CA to my parent's house. Needless to say, we didn't make it that far. At about 11pm Lise was too tired to go on, so we decided to try to get a room near Magic Mountain. Boy, that was a bad decision. It turns out that in the summer it is really hard to get a room near there without reservations. We tried every hotel for about 20 miles, and we had her brother Dan in Seattle making calls to any hotel he could find on Google Local.

We finally got a room. Let me tell you, the "Beggers can't be choosers" suite at the Gorman Travel Lodge was not really the plan. Our AC unit sounded like there was a helicopter taking off. It was so loud we couldn't even run it during the night. The toilet stopped up, and the shower did not drain.

The second day was better. We got all the way to Modesto without a lot of problems. We had originally planned to spend two days with my parents, but because we had stopped the first night, we only had the one night to stay there. This part of the trip is a blur to me. I think our cat liked tormenting my parents dog, but the dog never did see her. Still, the cat did everthing she could to try to get noticed.

The third day we drove from Modesto, CA to Grants Pass, OR. This day started bad and didn't get much better. When we got to Stockton, I was run off of the freeway into a different exit, so I was separated from Lise with her going North on I-5 and me going South. I got back on the freeway, only to be forced off again into a westbound exit. Finally, after driving through downtown Stockton, I was able to get on to I5 north. 10 minutes later, the rear view mirror on the side of the Uhaul decided to blow out of position (who knew you weren't supposed to go over 75 in an oversized box?) I had to pull over and find my tools to fix this. Luckily, the ratchet set that my grandfather bought me when I was 10 was still in working condition. I think my grandfather may have been looking down on me at that time - there was no reason that we packed the tools where I could get to them, and I swear I remember my grandfather mentioning to me (20 years ago when he bought this for me at a day after Christmas sale) that he didn't want me to be stuck broken down on the side of the road one day without tools.

Once Lise and I met back up a few hours later, it didn't get much better. Neither my wife nor I had a very good mental map of northern CA, so it was a bit of a surprise to us that this was a mountainous trip. I suppose the "Pass" part of Grants Pass should have been a dead give-away. After a harrowing stretch where we were separated again, with both of thinking at different times that the other had driven into a ditch, we finally made it through into Oregon. We stayed at the Shilo inn there in Grants Pass, and apart from me driving the wrong way down a one way street in a Uhaul and parking in a dirt strip near the hotel, it was pretty uneventful.

On day four we finally made our way into Tillamook. Now, we were kind of winging it, so I probably didn't pick the best method of getting in to town. We went through Salem which was weird in a Uhaul (not as strange as Stockton, but close) and ended up taking another winding road to connect from I5 to the 101. We probably should have just driven up to Portland and cut over. Once we got to our storage place, we met up with Larry Latimer and one of our two moving guys we set up an appointment with on It turns out the other guy wasn't going to make it - so we ended up being shorthanded again. Larry was a lifesaver - he ended up helping us out a lot. I think he carried my TV in to the house on his own - and that thing is over 100 pounds. Did I mention we are on the second floor?

So the place -- it has character. It's not a real apartment. We are in the shopkeepers apartment over a storefront, but the storefront is connected into our kitchen via a door that we have a refrigerator in front of. It's two bedrooms for $650/mo with garbage, sewer, water, and electricity. It's not cheap, but its not a bad deal considering. We moved all of our stuff in with the help of Larry and our one guy in about 2 hours I think.

I initiated Larry into the Northwest version of Mexican food... I took him to Taco Time. I think he was amused. We agreed that it was not Mexican food, but that it was pretty good. At least, I think we did - he may have been humoring me.

Day 5 came and we took the Uhaul back to Forest Grove. It turns out it was $1700 cheaper for us to return it to Forest Grove instead of Tillamook. I think someone at Uhaul is really over-valuing their time. In any case, that was also an adventure. First, I took us down a road that dead-ended in a closed for construction sign (apparently I should have read that big flashing warning sign 8 miles back down the road) and then we got stuck in traffic going the alternative route... which would have been OK if we had had more than 2 gallons of gas left in the Uhaul. We made it into town, but not until we had been idling for 20 minutes in a truck that got 10 mpg on a good day. I thought we were screwed, but we came through OK.

Lise and I spent a lot of time out exploring the area over the first week and half that we were in Tillamook together but then she caught a nasty cold which had her stuck in the house for pretty much the rest of her stay in town. She left to go back to SDSU for her last two semesters of school on August 30th, but before leaving we were able to go to the Air Musuem, the beach a few times, Munson Falls, and the county fair. We were way too active, then completely inactive.

I got sick with Lise's cold the last day she was here, and I'm just now really getting over it this week. Other than that, it's been a lot of work getting two different households set up for the short term. I'm trying to avoid unpacking everything, but I keep having to go back and forth between the house and storage looking for cables, cords, or adaptors. Lise was supposed to have an empty house to return to in San Diego, but we weren't able to get everything in the Uhaul, so she has been a trooper and has been moving around the last of the furniture, setting up stuff for Ebay, and getting ready to take stuff to a friends house for a yard sale.

On the work front, things are really good. It has been a challenge moving from a pure IT environment to a mixed IT/ Manufacturing environment. I really like what I'm doing though, and I've been able to jump in and make a difference already, so that's been really great. I'm involved with maintaining their Exchange Server, Antivirus applications, some network patching, some helpdesk work, and some light database work so far. I still haven't really gotten into the meat of my position yet which will be setting up EDI transactions between our company and other companies - but I hope to get some training on that soon. We're right in the middle of a large transition, so I'm trying to learn the new system from the get-go and so it has been hard since there are two systems sort of in play at this time.

A sad note: I can't get lots of free cheese. I do get a personal discount, and I think I can probably mail you some product using that discount. You, being those who were promised to have cows named after them, or others that I specifically mentioned I would be mailing things to them. I'm waiting one more pay check before doing that though - right now Lise hasn't found a roommate, so we're paying the full mortgage in San Diego plus my rent here, so the gift fund is a little low at this point.

Things are still in flux. I'm still not 100% sure that this is all going to work out for the best, but what I can tell you is that I am so much less stressed than I was working at the cable company. I really like the group of people that I am working with, and each time I meet a new person here - instead of dreading working with them, I'm excited. I'm sure some of this is my unbridled optimism ;) Still, it's good to enjoy going to work every day and feeling like you are learning and making a difference. Towards the end, I just felt like I was drowning - so I'm glad I was able to move on.

This post is far too long and I'll probably lose it in a freak lightning strike if I don't publish it now, so I'm just going to hit send. I'll fill in the obvious gaps later - email me if you have specific questions that I missed.

OK! Go.