I had yet another bad legal-but-unethical-scam experience with Best Buy. I will never go back there, even if I have to pay a lot more to get something somewhere else.
The bulk of our belongings are gone. We sold the big stuff, threw away the junk, and are giving away the not-so-wonderful stuff which might still be of use to somebody else but which isn't really woth the effort of selling.
Yesterday Kim and I rented a van which will be used to transport our stuff to SF. We had originally looked at Mayflower and some other big-name moving companies, but their prices for what we had (no big furniture, just a lot of boxes) was about $3500 or so. Ouch! We had guessed more like $2k.
We also investigated the possibility of treating our belongings as freight, and doing something like palletizing it or air-shipping it. I'm not talking UPSing a bunch of boxes here, I'm talking it's 10 tons of bricks that needs to go to a warehouse somewhere. That kind of freight. Well, it would have been a hassle, plus we were worried about the potiential for damage, theft, etc. so we passed on that.
What we are doing instead is having our friend Craig drive a van cross-country to a mini-storage, where he will stash our stuff and leave it for us to pick up. He will then ditch the truck out there and fly back. We are paying for all of this and also are paying him for his trouble. It's still a hell of a lot less than $3500. The truck is just over $850, with a hand truck included so we could move our dishwasher. The gas will be about $300, generously. 3000 miles / 12 mpg = 250 gallons, and $1.10/gal gives $275. $1.20 is pretty high for regular unleaded, it's more like $.99/gal really. We figured lodging at $50/night (motels etc.) and food at $20/day. It will take 6 days & 5 nights according to AAA. So that's $250 in motels and $120 in food. We rounded the food down to $100 and the gas up to $300. Total (not including the undisclosed driver bonus amount we are giving Craig): $1500. The storage place will be about $87/mo.
So, through creativity and bribery of my friends, I win again. :) So many people advised me to take a job with any old company in SF now, and force them to pay relocation costs, but that's a really good way to make yourself a slave to an employer whom you haven't even had time to fully scope out yet, so I declined. This is much better, plus if I have to I can grab a really crummy apartment for a month or two if that's how long it takes to find The Right Place to Work and also a cool place to live, etc. I don't want to jump into anything without doing my homework and this provides me that freedom.
Anyway, enough philosophy. Back to the play by play.
Fiid and I moved most of my living room and kitchen furniture to his house. Man, that dishwasher was heavy. He got my 27" Sony TV (also heavy), my dishwasher, my couch, and my papa-san chair. Our friend Tero (another member of the Tall Skinny Pale Euorpean Guy Club along with Fiid) got my desk and bookshelves. He was supposed to get both desks but as I was moving one desk it broke. Did I mention that I really don't like flimsy IKEA crap anymore, now that I furnished half my apartment with it? Fortunately it is all gone now. Darn, now that I'm moving I'll have to sell all this junk. Heartbreaker.
So here we are, with 2 computers (still hooked up to the net with no interruption of service during the move), a bedroom set we are still trying to sell, and heaps of giveaway stuff. Plus, we have the clothes, camera, etc. that are going on the trip with us in the car.
The most annoying thing about all of this? Admitting that I miss having a television. TV isn't that great but i *really* want to plop down on the couch and channel-surf.
I've been playing Fiid's guitar a lot lately. When he was in England he let me borrow it and I wailed on it pretty much non stop. I got a lot better in a couple of months. Now I feel like I can actually play respectably. Fortunately I have the effects pedal I bought back in November, so I can still make disrespectful music with it :) I gave it back recently, oh well. At some point I'll have to get an electric guitar of my very own.
Did I neglect to mention that I have another Mac at home now? It's a Power Computing PowerCenter Pro 150. That means a PPC 604/150, almost the same as my souped up Power Mac 7500/100. Now Kim uses the 7500 exclusively and I use the new PCC box exclusively. I bought it used for $525 from a friend who got it for free and resurrected it from total brokenness.
I have had a few little adventures with the new Mac. The CD-ROM was defective and I had to troubleshoot that and then buy a new one. I had to splice the audio cable from the old CD-ROM to the new one so as to get audio through the motherboard (definitely worth the effort). I had to buy a 7-connector internal SCSI ribbon cable to plug in all the dang SCSI drives I have. Unfortunately I discovered that the power supply only has 4 plugs, and I decided that this was an indication that it probably would die young if I tried to stick a Y-adapter on one to make it power more drives. Plus it's out of drive bays. So I have the new CD-ROM, the CD-R, and 2 SCSI drives inside the case. The other SCSI drive is mounted in a gutted old Dell 486 case with part of the guts of an old APS-brand SCSI enclosure added to as a "big 50" external cable to 50-pin ribbon cable adapter. It's goofy but it works, and I know that the termination and SCSI ID's are straight so it should continue to work for quite a while.
By the way, that third SCSI drive is destined to be a LinuxPPC experimentation drive. I'm not sure I like the idea of a dual-booting machine but I'd like to take LinuxPPC out for a spin just for the heck of it.
For 2 1/2 weeks I didn't shave at all, in order to see whether I could do the full beard thing and have it look right. It didn't. End experiment.
The extended "vacation / job hunt / coast to coast trip planning / holiday family visit marathon" is going pretty well. We put another 250 miles on the car to visit my stepsister and her family in Richmond, and took a bunch of pictures with the new digital camera in the process.
I was hoping to find out how useful it was in a real setting, by using it like a regular old el-cheapo film camera. It succeeded in flexibility although the quality is disappointing compared to real film or other digital cameras. However, the brightness control, real-time color LCD display, and especially the ability to review and selectively delete and re-shoot pictures immediately made up for that. So basically I could look at a photo that the auto-focus hadn't been ready for when I pushed the "shutter" button, and take another right away. Or, since the flash is instantaneous and thus you can't see the real results of what a flash photo will look like in the LCD viewer, there is sometimes too much light or a reflection; you can see that right away and take another picture on the spot after making whatever changes you need to make to correct for that. So on top of the unique feature that it uses regular high-density 3.5" floppies to store pictures, which means no lugging a laptop around to download pix into if you want to take more than, say, 20, the ability to instantly review your picture and re-take it a moment later is quite useful. If/when Sony releases a higher-resolution Mavica model I may sell this one and buy that.
I was surprised at how everyone reacted to the new gizmo (the camera). They were amazed at it, excited by it, etc., more than I expected. To me it's just an expensive gadget, but a gadget I have seen several of before. To them it was incredible amazing stuff. I guess it is, but I've been a Mac guy for so long that anything remotely creative or media oriented has been part of my consciousness for a long time. Ever since I took this photo back in 1995 with a digital camera made by Apple (the original QuickTake).
My cousin Jack was the one whose reaction encouraged me the most. Everyone else was asking, "can it do XXX, is it different from Regular camera like YYY." He saw me use it, saw me hook it up to their Compaq running Windoze '95 and print a photo (not because I wanted to for my own use, but because everybody wanted to know, Could It?, and I wanted to demonstrate how simple it was to do so). He didn't care about what it was, how much it cost, how it worked, or how it compared to film cameras. He just saw what it did and immediately thought of a cool way to put it to use, which I respect immensely. I let him take a picture of his aunt and uncle, and he didn't need to think about it, because he could just see what the results were. So his ~7 year old mind went to work, and he decided that it would be cool for me to take a photo of him holding his hand by the side of his head, palm up. We then removed his head from atop his neck and put it on his hand (his idea) and printed it out. Naturally we had all sorts of Windows problems (JPEG images aren't supported by Windoze paint, and Windoze Picture Viewer couldn't print or edit pictures, so we had to mess around a lot to get it done) but the end result was funny and everyone really "got it" at that point. About 5 minutes from "where are Jamie and Jack, they were playing with the camera a minute ago" to practically ROTFL at this picture of him with his dismembered head perched on his hand. I just can't get over the fact that his first reaction to new technology was, "hey, neat, I bet I can do something cool with this". Adults (including myself) would do well to think like that more often.
Exactly 2 weeks from now we will no longer have a lease and the trip will be underway... scary huh? But very exciting.
Sorry for the lack of updates. There's a reason, read on.
I gave up on NetResponse/iXL a few weeks ago and bailed. I think it's not cool to air dirty laundry publicly so I won't. Let's just say I left voluntarily and on as good terms as you can when you give up on a company after only 3 months.
Unfortunately I have just begun to learn to truly trust my own experience as opposed to just listening to what it tells me and proceeding anyway.
Anyway, as bad as it is to be unhappy at a job, it's worse if people know you're leaving way way ahead of time, because there's no graceful way to handle that. So I had to remain quiet about my plans until recently, and when I gave my two weeks' notice it was Xmas-time already and there was no time for web page updates :)
So... now that I'm not keeping a secret nor Xmas shipping, here's the deal:
I have quit my job, and Kim has quit her job. We're selling most of our stuff so it's cheaper/easier to ship it, and we're moving to San Francisco. We will be out of our apartment by the end of January, and will take our sweet time driving across the country, hopefully stopping off at DisneyWorld, Mardi Gras, and the Grand Canyon on the way.