Archive for March, 2011

Let the games begin (again)

Friday, March 25th, 2011

For much of the last month, my life has revolved around one of three things: moving, finding an apartment, and making sure our stuff made it from one place to another. The last of those three bullet points was wrapped up earlier this week. The new apartment is about as much of a home as we can make it for the moment. We have a bed, a comfy living room with a decent entertainment center setup, a fully stocked kitchen, and so on. None of our basic survival needs have gone unmet.

That not to say we’re anywhere close to finished. There are still a host of boxes that we can’t divulge ourselves of until we can add some more furniture to our place, like bookshelves, bedroom furniture, a desk. But for now, both Shannon and I have to focus on each drawing some paychecks and taking some time to pay down debt and refill savings accounts — both casualties of the costs of a cross-country move.

For the most of this past week, I’ve been taking things easy, but those days of freedom are winding down. A very, very small part of me is sad about that, but that slice of my psyche is almost immeasurable. The vastness of my being is ready to get back to work in the real world, a phase that starts this coming Monday when I report for duty at Redfin.

Not a pretty picture

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Since we moved into our new apartment, we’ve been lucky enough to have a free internet via someone’s open wifi connection. If I could find out who it was and leave them a basket of cookie at their door for sharing their bandwidth, I would. It’s been a great help as we’ve been getting ourselves established, but the time has come to pay our own way and get our cable and internet situation cleared up.

But therein lies the rub. The choices out here in this tech savvy city border on horrible. Remember all that competition that the 1996 cable deregulation bill was supposed to stir up? Yeah, we all know how that turned out for consumers. For where I live, if I want cable and internet in one package, my only choice is Comcast.

Fuck. Me.

As you can tell by my artfully placed expletive, I’ve been a Comcast customer before, and I don’t relish rejoining the fold. They have a near monopoly in San Francisco, which means the already high cable rates I was paying in New Jersey are even higher here. (Of course, that might be changing for Jersey soon in more ham-handed deregulation attempts). I could get better TV service, and maybe I could get better internet service, but not from the same place, and at the cost of some of my previous equipment investments (namely my cable modem and my TiVo).

I beg and plead for the day I can just get a big open pipe with as much bandwidth as I need, and I get to select what channels or shows I get over it. The news that Netflix might be getting into broadcasting a brand new, first run TV show says to me the writing is on the wall, and it’s all just a matter of when it happens, and not if.

But for now, I guess I just have to suck up my pride and bite the bullet on this one. I’ll try to keep my bitching to a minimum, as I’m willingly giving my dollars and soul to the soulless. But the very instant I can cut the cord and get everything I need from the net, I’m running for the door and laughing like a madman the whole way.

If you plan to pass another vehicle, you should…

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Shannon and I just spent the last 30 minutes or so going through the sample tests on the California DMV site in preparation for going to get our new licenses. Yep, they don’t just transfer your valid status from one state to another out here — you have to earn that right to drive.

I have to respect that, though there is a tiny bit of dread in my gut about having to prove my knowledge of the rules of the road for the first time in 16 years. Really, every driver should be mandated to retake the written portion of test every five years or so, just to keep us all honest. And once you get past a certain age you should probably be made to take a road test every few years as well. Of course, I highly doubt that would happen. Too many people see driving as a right and not a privilege, and anything that gets between them and their cars is always prime for scorn and ridicule.

UPDATE: Tests have been passed. Photos and thumbprints taken. Our Cali licenses should be in hand in 4-6 weeks.

This many fingers left

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

One hand full of fingers. Five days. That’s how long Shannon and I have to wait to be reunited with our possessions here on the West Coast. It’s hard to imagine that it’s already been a month since we packed two apartments into one ten-by-ten storage unit, but it’s actually harder for us to imagine our new, spacious place cluttered by our plethora of boxes and furniture.

Because of time constraints with the start of Shannon’s new job and the fact that NO ONE in San Francisco would talk about an apartment with us until we were here in person, we were limited in what we could do to get our life’s worth of material goods from New Jersey to California. If we had time we probably would have driven them cross-country. Instead we were forced to deal with a moving company and keep our fingers crossed. While everything has taken the maximum time quotes (and then some), we’re finally getting close to feeling like we’re really moved in.

Of course, not everything made the trip. I shed almost all my furniture and Shannon got rid of just as much, including her bedroom set, so we’ve been able to do some shopping for things. But I think Sears and Ikea must be in league with United States Van Lines, because even something as simple as getting a mattress and a bed is going to take forever and an eon to get delivered.

Until then, we’re just gonna have to keep ourselves calm and make due with the air mattress and the few dishes we have. But believe me, we’re both counting the days.

Being sought instead of seeking

Monday, March 14th, 2011

I’m in a position of unusual strength. Right now, I have in my possession three job offer letters from three small to mid-sized startups here in the Bay Area. I’ve spent the better part of the weekend weighing things out, and I’ll continue to do so for at least the next 24 hours. No matter which one I choose, I’ll be making a new career high in salary. And that’s just as a starting point. Not bad for someone without a college degree, huh?

Maybe this is something I’m going to have to get used to going forward? It could be, but I’ll never take it for granted. As Andrew Grove said, “Only the Paranoid survive.“, and that line of thinking has served me well through the years (professionally speaking, of course).

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the forum…

While my move meant I was likely to be in this position of hunting for new career opportunities, it wasn’t originally going to unfold this way. I had been in talks to work remotely with my last employer for at least my first few months on the west coast — a “soft landing” where I’d still be drawing salary and they’d still be receiving pixels and bracketed code. But at the end of January, business goals changed and three-forths of the workforce got laid off. Guess which side of that fraction I was on?

Strangely enough, being laid off actually helped me this time ’round. Unused vacation time and a decent severance package helped pay for my relocation costs and have made what would have been a more stressful situation less so. And starting with a clean slate here on the west coast just helped me further.

Been through the lows and the highs

This was all in stark contrast to my last job hunt in ’09, where I spent three months after being laid-off frantically getting anyone in the New York market to give me the time of day. It wasn’t anything against me per say, but the economic downturn that kept all the eligible employers sitting on their hands. There were days when I sent out 20 or 30 copies of my resume, all to no response. The afternoon I finally started getting some traction, I think I sent out over 75 copies of my resume. Remember: when all else fails, turn to brute force.

This time, it felt like I barely had time to hit the send button before the phone started ringing and the emails started pouring in. I’ve come to find out that I started looking for work just as the San Francisco market has started to hungrily snap up anyone with halfway decent design skills. Add to the fact that I’m a designer that can code, and I become an even tastier morsel for those companies. It’s nice to be the hunted for once, and not the hunter.

All good things must come to a start

For the most part the hunt this time has been a lot of fun, with the occasional moments of hand wringing thrown in to keep me from feeling like I was dreaming. But the hunt is drawing to a close, and it’s time for me to start earning my keep. My half of the rent for this great new apartment isn’t going to pay itself, and there’s only so long you can stare at the same blank walls before you start getting stir crazy.

Remind me I said all this in two months when I’m trying to find some “free time”.