Monday, December 29, 2008

fireworks, buy 1, get 11 free

Yes, you read that correctly, buy 1, get 11 free. That's apparently the standard deal you can get in Texas (and New Mexico when I lived there) when purchasing fireworks. It's emblazoned on most of the kiosks that sell them. See, unlike California (and presumably New York and most other blue states), fireworks can be purchased here in red country and, um, exploded at your leisure. About two weeks before both the 4th of July and New Year's Eve, these kiosks (sometimes tents) spring up alongside the highways and whatnot (who remembers who said that in high school?) and you can presumably purchase fireworks at them. I've never stopped and asked, but it is certainly tempting to see what kind of business can be sustained when you get 11 free fireworks with the purchase of 1. We do some unusual discounts in the business I'm in, but not like this. Coupons not needed either. I suspect it's 11 snap bangs for 1 really awesome firework.

As always, this reminds me of a clip from The Simpsons, which is already online and can be found here on YouTube and here on Hulu (possibly the greatest site ever for watching television online). Watch the whole clip, but I've always been partial to the line at the 0:53 mark on YouTube (or the 0:47 mark on Hulu). And contrary to what I thought, this line is not uttered by Apu, but instead by some no-name character.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

where i am, where i'm going, maybe

I'm in Los Altos still, but I'll be heading back to Victoria tomorrow afternoon. It's been great to see as many people as I have and I'll try to come back more often than once every two years, but there's a lot of world out there to go and see. Once back in Victoria, I might only be in Texas for 24 hours before heading out on an apartment-hunting trip depending on what happens. It could easily be 2-3 days or possibly much more. I'm young and flexible.

So where might I be headed on a domicile-discovery trip? Louisiana is a strong possibility at this point. Like I've said before, Oman fell through and there was talk of going elsewhere overseas. But I've tried to give it a fresh look and the greater challenge for me likely lies in Bossier City. Hey, if I said something else to anyone in the last 10 days or so, sorry, things change, equations rebalance, and life goes on.

All so-called facts are subject to change, plans may get further altered and I probably won't blog much on this topic until I have a better sense of where I'm going to end up. Instead, it'll be quality entries about the weather, air travel, memories yet green, etc, etc.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

blogging while 'home'

I almost never blog while 'home'. Though, I'll admit that in the last two years, I've almost never been 'home'. Home is in quotes since this isn't really home anymore. This is where I'm from, but I haven't lived here for the last four years, nor is it where I'm going to live in the immediate future. It's the closest thing to home right now, but it isn't really home. Where I actually live now is just that: a place I live. It has my stuff, but it's not home. Actually, given the particulars of my situation, I shouldn't even say that since I'm psuedo-homeless at the moment, but expect to rectify that situation in the next week or two.

Anyway, I don't blog while I'm home because I will ideally see most of my readers while I am back in the Bay Area. And I've been doing my best to stay busy and see people and update everyone, but it is a time of flux for me so it's had to express exactly where I am right now. So for anyone who was told one thing earlier in the week, well, it might not be true anymore. Things change and they can change pretty quickly.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

hard driving and slow minivans

I'm back in the Bay Area and driving my mom's minivan for transportation as my own car is three states away. For about the last month, I've been driving my own car more aggressively than normal for about two basic reasons. The first is the tires. There's something about them that's less than satisfying and I've been trying to figure out how well they hold up, especially in cornering. As I have a front-wheel drive vehicle, the front tires are distinctly more worn than the rear tires, but the difference is more than I think should have developed. The second reasons is that for several weeks, I thought there was a strong chance that I would be selling my car so I might as well have some fun.

The minivan is functional and, um, functional. While there is a chance such a vehicle may grace some mythical driveway of my own, that day is a good ten years out. In the minivan, I find that I am almost always speeding in residential areas and in the slow lane on freeways. The surface street speeding is partly a function of generally higher speed limits in most of Victoria and the lack of familiarity with the minivan. The freeway slowness is mostly a lack of comfort with the van since my own car is much lower, smaller, and tighter handling but it's also because I'm on vacation and I'm just not in a rush right at the moment. And I can't seem to get far enough away from the steering wheel.

Friday, December 19, 2008

more blogging from the Austin airport

Hey my three to six regular readers and that strange person who posts comments with peculiar pseudonyms. Msmadeoff? Nice.

Once again, I'm catching an early flight out of Austin in about 80 minutes and will hit the Bay Area around 0900 PST. I did my usual (if there's such a thing) drive to the airport in the middle of the night, then catch a nap in the car. Unlike the Albuquerque airport which is almost totally empty in the middle of the night and I was once the very first person through the security checkpoint, the Austin airport has people coming and going at all hours. When I pulled up to the airport around 0300, there was a line of cars exiting the airport. Then again, AUS is a bit bigger than ABQ, and yet they don't have wireless internet (I have a broadband card) like ABQ and SJC. And I can't find a store that sells the Wall Street Journal. I always knew there was something seriously wrong with this state.

Anyway, I'm able to come back to the Bay Area, because I am not in the middle of moving far, far away. I might be at the start of moving far, far away, but the first attempt was aborted and we'll see how this one plays out. As such, I'll be back all week before returning to Victoria, wrapping out more closure business, then perhaps going somewhere, but who knows where because it's so dynamic and everyone loves dynamism.

slightly more clarification

Slightly more clarification on my next work assignment. I received my letter this week to go overseas, this time somewhere in Europe (I'll be more specific later). I've accepted (again), already e-mailed stuff to personnel to start the visa process for this country, and we shall see how this plays out. There's always Bossier which was a good assignment offer as well, but this is my chance to go overseas and do something a little different.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

back in California again!

Previously, word on the street was that I would not be in California around the time of the various year end holidays. Lies, all lies, albeit mostly told by me. I will be back starting tomorrow and be around all next week. Oh yes, and I'm going somewhere else for work now, probably, maybe.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

electric football video clip

Success! Check it out, a clip featuring electric football from The Simpsons.

Inspired by this most excellent blog post. Really now, how much fun does it look like it could be. I always knew my childhood was missing something. A big gaping hole called electric football!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

found my box

I found my missing box - inside of another box. Ha!

Monday, December 15, 2008

where oh where did I put that one box?

One of the last boxes I packed when I moved out of my apartment had a couple books and some other miscellaneous items I wanted to be easily accessible. It was that box of stuff that ends up being the last few small items left when you clean out a domicile that you're still living in (but not toiletries or kitchenware). And now I cannot find that box.

It's frustrating because except for one novel, I cannot remember what else was in the box. When I go through my car and storage space and even the couple boxes of work materials in the shop at work, I cannot figure out what else was in that box I packed.

Of course, the most frustrating part is that I cannot find this box in what is a very limited area. My worst case scenario is that I didn't put it in my car, but left it on my roof and drove off and will never see it again. The slightly less worse scenario is that my car was broken into and that box was the only thing taken, which doesn't really make sense for several reasons. The most likely scenario is that the box doesn't exist quite in the form I remember and that I need to make another pass through my stuff looking, specifically for the one novel I know about and the other books which I'm pretty sure I'll know when I see them.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

old papers

I've been going through old everythings in the still possible event that I transfer overseas. In such an event, I am likely to move the bare minimum with me which in this case would equal computers (work and personal), clothes, small personal effects, and whatever will fit in standard airline luggage plus one extra overweight bag. Even if I don't end up overseas (which means I get to take my furniture, tools, car, kitchenware, soft goods, etc with me) this is still a good exercise to go through to winnow down all the things that I have (or used to have).

This has included paperwork and records, things like old checks, bank statements, receipts, old apartment leases, and some of the original materials I had with me when I first interviewed where. I found an old resume from four years ago along with some sample questions and answers that I prepared to make sure I'd stay on all my talking points and not forget about examples of whatever they might ask about. Looking at what used to be on my resume and the kinds of answers I would have given to some stock and not-so-stock interview questions, it's amazing how much my answers have changed given the last four years. Almost all my old preparation is dated now, even a lot of my methodology. The experiences I've had in the last four years trump almost all my college-era experiences.

I'm the same core person, for better or worse, but there's been a lot of shaping and a lot of hardening. All in all, college was a lot of fun, there's no denying that. There's a certain lack of responsibility that accompanies being a college student since it's not the so-called 'real world'. Work has often been fun, especially out in the field getting a job done on a given day (or two). It has to be to make some of the rest of what goes on worthwhile. But at the end of the day, this is serious, this is a business and it gets played for keeps. Actually, it doesn't get played at all. It gets taken very seriously when you boil it all down to its essence. This is peoples' jobs, livelihoods, safety, health, and everything that impacts the type of life someone tries to build for himself.

I can't seem to get away from these posts. They start somewhere else, but they always circle back to trying to get a handle on the essence of the experience that I have had, especially in the last year. I know what has happened since I moved from Farmington, pretty sure about most of what I've learned, but I just haven't figured out how it's changed me, if at all.

electric football

I was reading this post about electric football the other day and nearly fell out of my chair laughing. I'm not sure what exactly put me over the edge from mere humor to uproarious laughter. I suppose I needed to laugh since I hadn't had a good chuckle in a couple of days. It was one of those times when you just need to find something funny and the right thing comes around and you just laugh and laugh and laugh and it feels so good, so absurdly good. Of course, with slick advertising like this how could anyone resist how much fun electric football looked like it could be?

It should come as no surprise that this reminded me of a clip from The Simpsons, a clip which I cannot find anywhere on the intertubes. A problem that I may be able to remedy, albeit potentially only temporarily since it would involve copyright infringement. But perhaps if I exhort clip viewers to buy copious copies of The Simpsons on DVD in the summary section then I won't be forced to remove the clip.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

change of plans

I just found out that I'm not going to Oman. Change of plans, change in program. I'm not sure yet where I'll be going instead, but it might be back to Bossier. We shall see.

Friday, December 05, 2008

out of my apartment, last week

I think I was fairly vague about what I was doing leading up to my visit back to the Bay Area last week. So, due to various circumstances, mostly the initial expectation that I would be in Bossier City by last week, my apartment lease ended at the end of November and when I realized that it would be really helpful to stay another couple days or weeks, they told me that I had to get out since they had another tenant lined up. And then last Monday I decided to come home last week for Thanksgiving. So, I had about two days to clear out of my apartment and catch a 0710 flight out of Austin on Thursday.

The plan was simple enough. The execution would prove difficult without help. And slightly more time consuming than planned but I attribute that to ongoing deconstruction at work. So, outside of one run made with a borrowed pick-up, I apparently own about a dozen Ford Fusion loads of inefficiently packed stuff. (I wasn't exactly counting nor was I going for style, just getting out.) I have learned that the only things I own that don't fit in my car are my bed and some wire shelves that I couldn't break apart (and will probably not move with me). I disassembled my dresser and futon to get those items into my car. Flat pack furniture rocks. And it makes me look oh so grown up.

All my stuff, at least what made the first cut, now resides in a 10' by 15' storage space and it would probably fit in a 10' by 10' space if I had even tried to pack it more efficiently. The minimal furniture lifestyle is really paying off. There will be further winnowing down, but not as severely as originally planned. I've learned that I will need to eventually obtain housing when I get to Muscat so I will probably hold onto most of my furniture, but this is a good time to take a pretty dispassionate look at all the crap I own.

The curious reader will probably wonder where I am spending my evenings right now since I am back in Victoria. I spent my first night in my car since I got into town so late and by the time I was done catching up at the yard it was well past midnight. Since then, I've been at a cheap hotel that we put out-of-town field personnel in. But I'll be crashing a couple nights elsewhere next and then probably come back to the hotel. And then after that, I am trying to use up my accrued vacation time.

How? I have a crazy scheme that involves getting my moving estimates next week, coming back to California at the end of it, seeing some people I didn't see last week, leaving some more stuff behind in my room, but I'll clean it up more this time, coming back here, moving my stuff, one last look around, shipping out, having a suspiciously long layover in New York, then continuing on to my final destination in Oman. It just might work. Or not at all. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

i got my visa, not the credit card

When I got back to work, I found that my visa, at least the short-term one to enter and piddle about (read: work) for a few days (or weeks? or months?) Anyway, I still don't have a good timeline nailed down so I'm trying to pull off a scenario where I can burn the rest of my vacation time. Oh, and contrary to what I had been told at first, housing is not provided. Argh. My frustration is not with having to find a place to live, but with trying to get three quotes to move my stuff. And I still won't move all of it. Probably.