Far too long

December 12, 2009

It’s been ages since I’ve posted, but this should be interpreted as a good sign. The new job is going extremely well, and unpacking for the second time since moving to NC is….. well, unpacking…. again. It invariably takes more time and energy than expected and dang, I’ve got a lot of stuff.

The original move went well, though the drive took longer than expected. The 25± foot truck and car carrier combination was slow on hills, topping out at 50mph on inclines and a complete bear during refueling, especially if you had to back up or turn around for any reason. It was also the height of the ’08 fuel prices, and diesel was at $5+/gallon at the time .

The house rental I found in my 3 day search of the Raleigh-Durham area was overly large for what we needed and that combined with finances and preferences prompted a second move. I really like the new house (also a rental) despite a sloping front yard and lack of garden. Being 30 years older,  the insulation is at least twice as good and the usable kitchen counter and storage space is a vastly improved. Unfortunately, there are still boxes of books that have not been unpacked, mostly due to a lack of book case space, brought about by a lack of available walls.

Having lived in apartments during all my time in Phoenix, I’d forgotten the time and energy involved in yard maintenance. It’s a particular drain on time when the 6-8 oak trees decide it’s time to drop their foliage. At the moment there are more leaves to rake and some halls to deck with the holiday season is rapidly approaching. So I must depart from the keyboard, but with hopes of returning on a more regular basis. Please feel free to pester (on a regular basis) if and when I fail to so.

The employment offer, once it arrived, was in fact, quite reasonable, and I negotiated for some additional monies for relocation. My resignation is now on file with my current employer, and as of June 25th I will be without a job for the first time in roughly twelve years. I’ll have little time to truly enjoy it though- less than a week later I will be moving across the country. There will be a brief stop in Flagstaff to gather up someone, his dog and belongings, followed by a number of days on the road with a final destination of the Research Triangle Park area, in North Carolina.

I expect the next few weeks to be exhausting and extremely busy. Housing must be found and a brief trip for the final search is expected, a truck needs to be rented and loaded, and all the final tasks around home and work need to be wrapped up.

For those attending the FPM Fool Party on the final weekend of June, I will be present. I will not however, guarantee either sanity or cognizance as it is only a day or two at most before the move. Given the situation, I will bring food, but unfortunately, not of my own devising, as every bit of stuff, sans clothing, cats and essentials for the drive, will be already be packed. It will be the last chance, for quite some time, that many of my AZ podcasting colleagues will get to see me, and I hope they will turn out in force.

There is good news- long story short, a company is/has/will be making an offer and I will likely accept.

Life being what it is, said offer seems to have been waylaid by gremlins of misdirection… It was sent out by FedEx, supposedly on Tuesday or, given the time of the call, it may have actually been shipped out on Wednesday. Since then, I’ve been watching and waiting. As of this morning I called and inquired as to it’s whereabout and the pertinent information is being tracked down. Unfortunately they did not confirm the shipping address beforehand or confirm the shipment by sending me a tracking number.

So, very soon now, I’ll have an offer in hand and be making a decision that will have me moving across the country later this month. Final destination- Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, which is in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. I’ve already done some research on potential apartments but now need to do some final research and make a string of phone calls.

There is a lot to do in the next few weeks, and that doesn’t even touch on the work needed for the upcoming Parsec Awards, the nominations for which close in just over a week, which is when the real work begins. Then there is the issue of Food Geeking which needs much love and attention, and an entire reworking. It will happen, but only once I can put my full concentration and effort towards it, and that time is approaching.

It has been a busy few months for me personally and I’ve been very lax when it comes to posting. I was successful in packing away 95% of my accumulated belongings and getting into storage. In the last week of February I moved myself, my cats and a few boxes of books into the guest bedroom of friend. Most of my recent time is spent between work, job search, and trying to keep up with a virtual life, and as it can seen from my lack of posting here, I’m greatly behind.

I’ve been splitting my weekends between the the FPM studio and Flagstaff. I’d desperately like to get Food Geeking back on track, but have been critically short on time and energy, as life has been a mixed bag of chaotic and hectic. I do have hopes and a great many plans for redesigning the site and getting it back on it’s feet. It will likely have to wait until after the job search and relocation is complete, but it is something that I wish to pursue.

Speaking of relocation, the job search is starting to has finally achieved momentum, and there a few strong possibilities. I’ve had a number phone interviews and have one more in the works. I was also flown out to North Carolina, for all of 25 hours, for a series of interviews, lasting better than 4 hours, with a potential employer. These things do take time, but with the tiniest bit of luck I may have news within about a week. In the meantime, I’m trying to remain patient. The NC interview was the result of a resume sent out in January.

Beyond having only a room worth of space for both myself and the cats, the most frustrating part of the last few months is the lack of “my kitchen”. I do have use of a kitchen, but it is much lacking in the tools, equipment and supplies that I’m accustomed to. I’m still cooking a great number of meals for myself, but I’m not doing the cooking and baking that I so much enjoy for my friends.

The process of moving continues. A storage facility has been rented, a PO Box has obtained, a change of address filed with USPS and my utilities have been scheduled for disconnecting. I’ve yet to work out insurance for the storage unit and have 30 billion places which require my new address but otherwise, it’s just a matter of boxing every up, and moving 99% of it into storage. For the short term, while the job hunt intensifies, I’ll be staying with a friend in Mesa, who is kindly allowing me to inhabit a guest room. This should be a temporary situation, and with luck and perseverance I’ll be moving (yet again) in a months time or so.

At this point my priority is to get everything packed and in storage so I can concentrate on the job search. No matter how efficient and capable of multitasking one is, it’s near impossible to both put items in a box and write a cover letter simultaneously. This week and next week are dedicated to packing, moving, cleaning the apartment and keeping the plant materials alive at work. The first week of March, with nothing left to distract me, I will reapply myself to the job search.

It’s not been all boxes and packing this past week. I had the chance to attend the Strong Beer Festival in Mesa this past weekend. Many tasty brews were available for sampling, both from local breweries and others further afield, including Dogfish Head, Stone and New Belgium. Saturday evening was finished off with a late dinner at the Salt Cellar, where very fine dinner of seafood was had. With the weekend over a return to packing is necessary…. where is my marker and the packing tape…. Ah ha!

Lazy-busy

February 12, 2008

I’ll admit that I’ve been lazy when it comes to posting here. In part I’ve been lazy and likewise busy with the process of job searching and packing my things for an anticipated, although as yet unknown move. In potential employment news, there are some very promising opportunities which I’ve applied for and other that are less than promising none of which have yet to garner a nibble of attention. There are a few other jobs which while not enticing might work, but have painfully long web-based forms which I’m working on, but without much enthusiasm.

Fair progress has been made in packing. Most of the books, music and DVDs are packed. I have the kitchen, clothes, paperwork and what I refer to a “fiddling bits” left. Fiddling bits are all the little things you want to keep, but have no method of organizing and packing or are awkward or fragile enough to be problematical. On Friday a storage unit needs to rented and I will start lining up change of address, forwarding information, and arrange for the cancellation of utilities for the last day of the month.

Last week I took as vacation will the hope of getting much packing of boxes and wrangling of paperwork accomplished. Some of this was done, but more time than I expected was absorbed by a final baking project for the SCA group that I’m involved with. This week and weekend they will be attending Estrella War and I baked 10 quick breads of various types for them. These included pumpkin nut chocolate chip, banana, orange apricot, seed cake and an orange almond tea cake. I’m hoping the majority of my baking and cooking is done for a while and that I can box up most of the kitchen and survive on a minimum of pots and pans until I settle in the next locale.

My geek has also been satiated in the recent weeks. Phoenix Cactus Comicon was held on the final weekend of January, and I spend Friday evening and Saturday morning amongst the teaming hordes. Both Walter Koenig and Wil Wheaton were guests as were dozens of comic book artists and writers. This past Saturday a friend’s birthday was celebrated by playing an extended game of Settlers of Catan (with the Knights and Cities expansion.) It was fun and enjoyable but with 6 players, most of us new to the expansion it took quite a while to get comfortable with the rule adjustments. It builds much faster than the standard and even expanded 6 player game, but drags a bit in the mid to late-game play. It took roughly 4 hours to play through, but this could be related to our unfamiliarity with the expansion set, having 6 players (technically 8 as we had 2 “team groups”) or the added distraction of having 3 toddler aged children around. Looking forward the the next gaming opportunity.

The gigantic clock (reference the pendulums that can be seen at Hogwarts in the HP movies ) is ticking loudly again. My lease extension runs out in 3 weeks, I’ve not any word from potential employers, and the holidays have come and gone. There is much packing yet to be done, but at least the seasonal cooking, gift making and wrapping are complete. There’s further job searching that must be done and I’ve got to get the Food Geeking podcast back on it’s feet. There is also a lot to tackle at work, particularly given my expectations of leaving for a new job in the upcoming weeks (with luck) or few months at worst. I’m feeling both over and underwhelmed at the same time.

I seem to have weathered the worst of the work-related money shortage. With my employer’s switch to both a lagging pay cycle and moving to a bi-weekly rather than by-monthly paychecks, they in essence removed a paycheck’s worth of money from us, to be paid out 2 weeks following the end of employment. It makes lots of business sense, but doesn’t much help anyone who lives on a budget. My first “extra” or 3rd paycheck in a single month will be arriving next month, which will do much to balance my funds, assist with taxes, and give me a bit of money to help afford the upcoming move.

Hopefully, in the next few weeks there will be some success on the job hunt. I’ve got many hopes and more  than a few fingers crossed that I’ll yet find employment in Flagstaff. If I’ve no success as January comes to an end I’ll need to open the search much farther afield. Despite my exceedingly strong desire to be in Flagstaff, it seems rather foolish and self-limiting to find employment there that won’t cover my basic cost of living without a second job, while I could potentially find any number of jobs that pay exceeding well elsewhere. My brain is calculating the timetables and chances, and the blinders are off when it comes to other locals, so I’m keeping an eye out for those “perfect matches” elsewhere. I will admit that my heart isn’t really into it. In the meantime, the regional job  search continues and with luck I’ll find  decent opportunity in Flagstaff before the situation becomes critical and I’m required to search further afield.

For those who follow me elsewhere, the packing of books has resumed, after a fair bit of distraction during this past month. The distraction has been provided by some trips northward to Flagstaff, résumé preparation and an intervening holiday. The waiting is provided courtesy of the employers who are reviewing the previously noted résumés. I’m behind on email, and hope to get the remaining books and game supplies packed this week, before organizing and packing paperwork and preexisting files.

The first batch of photos from a recent trip to the Grand Canyon are now available on my Flickr pages and more will be forthcoming. It will be well worth a return visit, as the hours were rather limited and the canyon was hazy that day due to both cloud cover and couple of controlled burns that were occurring. Gorgeous and majestic. I’d love to spend a week or more hiking about, camping and losing the crowds, which were light given it was an overcast Friday afternoon in mid-November, but were nonetheless endemic.

For those hoping for more episodes of Food Geeking, do not despair, the Food Geek has not been resting… entirely. I’ve got a fair number of shows mapped out and I just need to sit down and get some recording done. I am not giving up on the podcast one iota, but life has been more than a bit busy on multiple fronts. Among other tidbits, I’ll have a new cheesecake variation to share, which I prepared for Thanksgiving-  Pumpkin  cheesecake with  caramel sauce and a maple-cognac syrup.

On the geeky side, tried to watch Razor, the newest Battlestar Galactica spin-off/TV movie. What I did see and remember of it was quite good. Unfortunately, Saturday had done a fine job of wiping me out, and while of great interest and not boring, I quickly found my self comfortably dozing…. I’m certain that much of it will ‘sound familiar’ when I settle in to watch it later this week, likely Wednesday or Thursday at latest.

Also had the chance to partake in some post Turkey-day gaming with friends on Friday. Food was eaten, Settlers of Catan, Flux and Lord of the Fries were all played, and a round of Illuminati: New World Order was experimented with. I’ve got the INWO “One with Everything” box which provided sufficient cards for 5 decks with plenty to spare. Unfortunately, the game and it’s concept were new to everyone but myself and it had been years since I’d played. Between a late start and the newness of the game most didn’t make it through much of the game. It was agreed that it had loads of potential and will given another try earlier in the night with fresher minds. Given everyone’s end-of-year holiday plans, it was likely the last chance for gaming until next year. So I hope perhaps INWO and a few other games will be added to our repertoire for next year.

I think that covers at least a portion of the past 3 weeks… it doesn’t include the cooking I did for an SCA camping event which I didn’t attend or my concerns that Chaos’ food allergies are re-emerging after 4 years without problems, but that will wait for another day and a separate post. I hope everyone who celebrates the Turkey-day holiday, or not, enjoyed good food and company in the past weeks and can look forward to more of the same in the coming days.

The slow decent into autumn

November 5, 2007

The seasons, weak as they are in Phoenix have begun their inexorable shift. Summer is slowly giving way to fall and temperatures no longer peak above normal body temperature. If the forecast holds true, out high temperatures for this week won’t breach 90/33º F/C. Our fall days are warm and beautiful and at night I can finally open the windows to allow cool night breezes clear the lingering warmth of the day. It is pleasure and relief to reside in Phoenix at this time of year. That said after seven years, I miss the cooler days and even colder nights I remember from my days in Ithaca. Fortunately, I seem to have found an appropriate equivalent.

I’ve recently made two forays into the north of Arizona. The first was for a wedding in Oak Creek Canyon. The bride and groom were two good and long standing friends, and it was one of the neatest wedding ceremonies I’ve had the pleasure of attending. The second was to to visit a friend who resides in Flagstaff. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy the cool crisp air and the onset of fall. I’ve gotten to see some fall colors, experience cooler days and crisp nights for the first time in my seven year residence in this state. What is even better…. they’ve got stars in Flagstaff. Not that you don’t see stars in Phoenix, but there is enough light to severely limit visibility to only the brightest of the stars and constellations.

I hope  to be making rather a number of trips to Flagstaff this fall. When traffic is favorable it takes only 2-3 hours of driving, which is a small price to pay for comfortable temperatures. Given a few more weeks another treat my await me, that all elusive phenomenon  called snow…. which is something thing I’ve not seen for 7 years, and have definitely missed.  All this makes me look forward to the coming of winter more than I have at any time while in Phoenix.

Breathing space acquired

October 17, 2007

Everything remains very busy but I’ve bought myself a couple extra months in which to organize and plan. When I returned from S. Africa I had 2 months left on my lease and overly ambitious hopes that I could pack, orchestrate a job search and relocate in that time. I severely overestimated my ambition, energy levels and organizational abilities. I didn’t expect to find a new job in 2 months, but had hopes that I could conserve and same some money by finding a smaller apartment with a short term lease and putting at least my books, paperwork and such into storage as the job search continued.

Multiple factors blew these plans to shreds. The first and foremost being the lack of short term leases that would actually save me money. Most locations did not meet both my needs (allows cats & isn’t unpleasant) and my budget. I has spoken with my apartment complex about any options of extending my lease with no success. Failing to locate alternate housing or extending my lease, I was prepared to deal with the rent increase that would accompany staying in my current apartment month-to-month, outside of a ease agreement and cut back on expenses with the hope that I could pack and find a new job before hemorrhaging too much money.

Then stars and planets then came into alignment- the manager of the rental office called to have me renew….  Apparently the person I spoke with at the office didn’t have the inside track. I explained my situation, and due to a shortage “signed leases” they were able to extend my lease, at my current rental rates. Yippee! Granted, this doesn’t solve the “need to find new employment” issue but it gives me a bit more time and space to work with before everything must resolve. In the meantime, I’m polishing up the resumé and looking at employment options.

I should probably return to getting a new Food Geeking episode posted and I really need to get some more boxes packed. Keep and eye out for the new episode and expect some changes and evolution to arrive to the podcast in the coming months. I shall endeavor to update this site on a more regular schedule and please do harass me if I fail to follow through.