This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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January 2006
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The How’s It Goin’ Post

I’ve been trying to catch up with some old posts in order, but I figured it would be a good time for a “how is it going so far” type post. So here goes.

Lets see… Lets do this as a “day by day” since the day I left. (All UTC days of course… so the boundary between the days I describe here is at 7 PM Eastern / 4 PM Pacific.)

Tuesday: Had the final evening in Florida, then got everything together just in time for Brandy to get me to the airport. Had a layover in Atlanta, then was on the way to Seattle. The day ended while I was in the air.

Wednesday: I got into Seattle uneventfully, then went to get my rental car. The only car they had left was a (to me) HUGE Ford F-150 pick up truck. I was extremely uncomfortable driving it. But I did manage to get to the temporary housing. Only to discover that I had neglected to read the part where it said that the place I needed to pick up the keys was somewhere completely different. So I got Brandy on the phone, who looked up directions, and helped guide me to the right place. But there were narrow streets and really steep streets and I was not happy driving the big truck. When we did find the place, there was no parking in front. I had to lap the place several times before I could park. I finally parked, then got out of the truck… well, fell out of the truck is a better description… it is much higher than the vehicles I am used to… and I picked a bad time to fall. I fell out of the truck, got myself upright, then a fraction of a second later saw a bus pass 3 inches from my face at 30+ miles an hour…. only luck kept me from stumbling a few inches further into the street… that would not have been good. At this point I was pretty unhappy with the whole Seattle thing. But I went in, got my keys, then got back to the place I’d been staying… only to find out that the remote they had given me for the garage did not work. I spent some time trying in different ways, and checking other enterances just to make sure I had the right garage entrance. I called the night number for the place and the answering service called the on call people, and they promised they would fix the remote the next day, but there wasn’t anything they could do right then. So I ended up parking in a parking garage a block or so away. I went in, I went to sleep, I got up in the morning and headed to work. It took me a little to find the right place to park once I was at the building, so I was a couple minutes late, but nothing anybody cared about. I got my ID. I got my laptop. I was shown to my new office. My actual boss was at MacWorld, so I didn’t see him. And he was the one with my initial passwords. So while I had computers, I couldn’t actually get onto anything. It took about half the day to clear that up (while I read some things that were printed out for me) but eventually it got fixed. And then Wednesday was over.

Thursday: After a bit longer, I headed back home. On the drive home I kept thinking that one comment Chris had made before I came out definately resonated. Seattle reminds me of Pittsburgh. At least the down town part does. Anyway… The apartment people had said they would leave me a fixed remote. Instead was a note saying that changin the batteries had not worked and they would have to order me a new one, which would take several days. So I parked in the parking garage again. I fell asleep pretty quickly after getting home, even though it was pretty early. I got to work in the morning a bit earlier, and had some breakfast at the cafeteria. I had a bunch of stuff to read and get familiar with, and an actual meeting in the afternoon, although it was a training sort of meeting, not a “real” meeting. And then the day was over.

Friday: I left work a little bit early to go drive and look at a couple of apartments I had looked up online during the day. I’m in temporary housing right now, but the goal is to get into something as quickly as possible that is “medium term”… something to last me the 5 to six months until Brandy and Amy join me. One had actually sent me an email in response to an online inquiry. I’d left a voice mail in return, but hadn’t heard back. I drove to look at it. It was an apartment tower type. The outside looked nice enough, but the leasing office had a sign that they were not available. So after taking a couple laps to give them a chance to come back (they did not) I then drove to try to find a second one. I kinda got lost, but after a stop at a convieniance store and a grocery store to get a few staples for the apartment I am temporarily in, I found the second place. It did not impress me. I started to realize that since the list of apartments I was looking at were all in order of how close they were to my employer they all had one thing in common… they were city apartments. I decided I would need to check out suburban apartments too before too long. Then I headed to the temporary apartment. First thing, check the remote. It worked!!!! So I got back into the truck, went around, got into the garage… only to find out that that the continuing problems I’d been having with the truck were magnified a dozen fold in this small cramped garage with thin parking spaces and narrow lanes… I found my assigned spot and quickly determined that my odds of managing to get the truck into the spot without damaging anything were very slim, and if I did manage to get the truck in the spot, the only way I would ever get it back out again would be if every other car in the garage left first… so I managed to get myself back out of that garage, and parked once again in the pay garage I’d parked in for the previous two nights. (That garage was also a bit tight as far as I was concerned, but a lot better than the one for my apartment!) OK, so maybe someone who owned one of these huge pick up trucks would be fine with all this, but I’ve driven a Saturn for more than 10 years, and intend my next car to be SMALLER, not LARGER, so… anyway, I headed back to the apartment, went to sleep, and headed to work again in the morning. This day my boss was actually there, and I’d also lined up a couple meetings for myself by then, and was generating questions from what I had been reading. So the day was much busier than the first two. Three good meetings. The second of which actually involved EQUATIONS. You can’t imagine how thrilled I was! All in all, I am very thrilled by work. It started out a little slow, just a lot of reading and such, but with every meeting I have and every new document I read, I find myself increasingly interested and eager to get fully into things. I see that there is a LOT to learn and a lot to get up to speed in, and much of it will exersize parts of my brain that haven’t seen much action since I left college. Some of the things I will need to understand and be able to work on intelligantly will actually be challenges that I will have to wrap my brain around, not just trivial stuff I can figure out in my sleep. The jobs I’ve been at for the last many years have had lots of politics and people interactions to figure out, and that has of course been challenging in its own way, but this job will have INTELLECTUAL challenges… and that is a whole different animal. I am thrilled and very happy. I have a stong suspicion though that things will speed up rapidly though, and in a few weeks I may have to call uncle for a little bit! Things start as a trickle, but soon it will be a firehose. I’m looking forward to the ride.

Saturday: The day started with a staff meeting. They are normally on Monday’s, but this was at this time because the boss had been out. After the staff meeting, I made a very important phone call. And then I followed it up by a trip to the airport. I had told the rental car company to get me the hell out of this huge truck and get me into the smallest car they had. I got some kind of Hyundai. I was thrilled. When I left the airport I actually felt like I could drive normally and not worry about the fact that I was in some huge tank that filled five lanes and that I had no idea where the corners of were. It had been a wonder that no major disasters happened while I was in that truck. (The close call with the bus was not the only near accident!) I was very happy. I got back to the apartment, opened the garage door, and swooped into my spot. Well, not quite swooped… the spaces were still a little tight even in a small car, but it wasn’t a big deal to get in. So I watched some TV and went to sleep. And I slept late. It was a good long sleep. Well… none of the sleeps have actually been that good. This is a two bedroom apartment with two queen sized beds, but I haven’t tried either of them, cause there is no TV in either bedroom. The TV is in the living room, so I’ve been sleeping on the couch (and sometimes the floor). Brandy suggested that perhaps I could sleep without a TV on in the room, but that there is crazy talk. Once I was up in the morning, I drove out to find another apartment. Another city one, and once again it did not impress me. But I did not stay long, I headed home, because I was supposed to meet a real estate agent who was going to show me a few neighborhoods and talk a little about what we might be looking at. I met her, she drove me around for a few hours. All in all it was a bit depressing. First of all it seems all the areas with good schools (a very important criterea at this point) are a decent length commute (pushing an hour). Second, those are of course the more expensive areas. Although there are some places in our guessed price range that are around, they are not in the areas with the good schools. Although we have not yet made a final determination of our price range yet, it does look like even the small townhouses may be out of our range in the areas that have the good schools. We shall see. There will be a lot more investigation yet to do. I still really want to buy, but if the only places we can buy would put Amy in crappy schools, I’d give that up to rent in one of the better areas. Brandy’s a big fan of renting for awhile anyway. The ft^2/$ is better, and although you don’t get the equity and tax benefits and such, the actual $ outlay would be less, and it would let us pocket more cash month to month for savings and cars and computers and toys. Not to mention the profit from the sale of the Florida house, which if we were buying would immediately go 100% into a down payment on a new place. If we didn’t buy right away, there are a variety of other things that could be done with that cash in the short term. Brandy and I had a couple fights over all this sort of thing on the phone in terms of what options to look at and which to prefer and all that sort of thing. For the moment the conclusion is all options are still open and there is research yet to be done, but it really is looking like what we thought it would look like when I took this job, which is that we basically have one of these choices: #1) Don’t buy again, and instead rent for awhile, #2) Make ourselves house poor again trying to get a place we really like in a neighboorhood we really want (if we could swing it at all), or #3) Compromize very heavily on what we want in a house and/or the area it is in to get something we can afford to buy right now, even if it isn’t somewhere we really want. Dunno. Kind of depressing. Although I was much happier driving around the suburbs than I had been in the city. Goal number 1, even before Brandy and Amy arrive will be to get out of the city and into the suburbs. We’ve got a number of months yet before we have to make any final decisions on what to do with the the longer term housing situation. So we’re not going to rush that. And maybe (depending on prices) a nice rented townhouse in a nice neighborhood with good schools would be prefereable to buying in a less nice area (not saying a BAD area, just less nice). At least for the short term. (A year or two.) The situation should be a lot more flexible financially in a couple years if everything goes well. But we shall see. Anyway, this is the kind of thing people were on me about a month or so ago when I was being “too negative” about the housing situation. Then later other people were on me about “only looking at the positive” and ignoring the fact that the housing situation would be a big negative. Maybe now I’m closer to the center. But basically, it is as we have expected since the first time I even considered interviewing out here. Everything else about the situation is much much better. The job. The money. Everything. Except the housing situation. Ah well. Like I said, we knew what we were getting into on that. We’d been doing reasearch since September on it. But actually driving around and seeing it drives it home more. Well, except the weather too maybe. What they say about the rain here is true. :-)

Sunday: After getting home from the tour of neighborhoods, I headed back home. I had succeded the previous day in finally getting online from the apartment. Dial up only, but at least it was something. Sunday right after I got back with Brandy on the phone I was able to get things set up and working so I could remote control back into my Mac at home, which would let me do some things I could not do just with the laptop I was assigned for work. At dial up speeds it is painful though, so I am keeping that to a minimum of course, and am setting myself up so I can do as much as possible of what I need to do directly from this laptop. I once again went to sleep pretty early and slept late. Once I was up, I looked outside and noticed that basically for the first time since I arrived Wednesday it was not raining. So I grabbed the book I was reading and took a walk to explore the neighborhood. It was much nicer walking around than it had been driving around in the huge truck in the pouring rain. There are a bunch of restaurants and shops in the area. You can look up and see the Space Needle. After walking around a bit I picked a Mexican restaurant and had a late lunch while reading my book. Then I headed home again. Sat there watching TV and playing on the computer for the rest of the day.

And now it is Monday. Monday isn’t over yet though, so I won’t say anything about that. Although I’ll probably go to sleep before too much longer. Today will be my official “orientation” at the new job. You know, where they tell me all about benefits and such. Fun! I’ll have to be at work about an hour earlier than I have been getting in for that though. So gotta get a good rest! :-)

And there is my update for now.