October 15, 2016 16:08 +0000  |  Cycling London Moving United Kingdom 1

We've managed to get out of London and move up to Cambridge, and it is so much nicer here. Cambridge is almost everything London isn't: clean, quiet, bike-friendly, and accessible. Where in London it will take 40min to 2 hours on the dark, disgusting Tube to get anywhere and do anything, in Cambridge you just hop on your bike and you're anywhere in town in less than 20min. There are garden festivals in the big open parks that double as cow pastures, and the air is clean. London's air quality is a toxic mess and a constant reminder of how much (nearly) everyone living there hates it.

Where our London flat was a dark, damp, rat-infested ground-floor shithole, our Cambridge home is a big, beautiful two bedroom flat in a modern building with secure bike parking. The rooms are wired for ethernet and the wifi is crazy-fast, the rooms are warm and the showers (yes, that's showers plural) are spacious and just wonderful.

OMG I don't think I can convey how much better life in Cambridge is when compared to London.

Christina has settled into her job as lecturer at the university and despite her fears, I think she's getting the hang of it. Fresh out of her PhD, she's now a lecturer at one of the most prestigious universities on the planet. I'm really proud of her.

In terms of my career, things have been a little more bumpy. I didn't want to renew my contract working for the British Government, so I moved to a company that had a London & Cambridge office hoping to take some of the pain out of the move. Then the job at Mozilla came up, and I almost got it, and now I've decided to give up on contracting altogether in order to take a job at a local start-up as lead developer. My time with my current employer ends in less than a week and then I've got a week off before I start at Money Mover. Lots of moving around, but I think in this latest stop, I've found a good company that suits me.

It sure will be nice to be doing the start-up thing again. I've really missed it.

April 27, 2011 08:21 +0000  |  Friends Language Moving 5

A series of good things have been happening lately, and I just wanted to share them:
  • I have an apartment in Bussum, The Netherlands. It's mine. I live there. You can now start mailing me things :-)
  • I have a bank account, and a residency card, and a residency number. I am an official person in the Netherlands. Next up is the cell phone and home internet.
  • I have a couch! And a friend who helped me put it together!
  • My computer has finally arrived at my job, so I'm no longer working on my tiny laptop. This new machine has SIX CORES and EIGHT GIGS OF RAM.
  • I made a new friend last night at my Dutch class. That makes *three* people whom I can call if I want company for a movie or something.
  • American movies here are in English with Dutch subtitles.
  • The Canucks won game 7. How is that not awesome?
  • My new apartment is a 10minute walk to work. I can now sleep in.
  • In less than 3 days, I'll be in Yeosu, Korea to watch a dear friend get married in a traditional Korean ceremony.
  • I'm learning Dutch (albeit slowly), but just the other day I actually understood a 100% Dutch conversation and joined in, (albeit in English).
  • It got distcc working on my laptop & supercomputer here at work so I can compile stuff way faster.
  • I talked to my family via Skype while they were all around the dinner table at my grandparent's place.
  • I got my tax returns from the past 5 years in, to the tune of about $7000! That'll help pay off my credit card.

In a blog that's usually plagued with negativity, I wanted to share some happy thoughts.

February 11, 2011 22:19 +0000  |  Amsterdam Employment Job Hunting Moving Netherlands Unemployment 6

For those of you who follow my life on Twitter or Facebook, I apologise for taking so long to post the details of the recent changes to my employment status. Stuff's been kinda crazy these past few weeks, so I've had other priorities that I'll talk about in other posts.

So here's the full story: On January 18th, I responded to a job ad for a web developer at MarketSims that I found on an online job posting board, possibly monster, but frankly, I don't remember. The application included my usual fun-sounding cover letter and a PDF copy of my CV along with a link to this site.

That same night, I received a response asking about my preferences for CMSs and/or frameworks and we had some good dialogue about why one CMS might be chosen over another, and why I prefer frameworks in general etc. etc. We also talked about my salary expectations, volunteer work, and outside interests as well, all over email. He thanked me for the info and said he'd get back to me.

Then he got sick for about a week so I didn't hear from him for a while. When we reconnected on the 31st, we talked about doing a Skype interview and settled on a midnight gig on the evening of the 4th.

The interview was with the CEO, CTO, and COO and covered in greater detail what they're looking for. Basically, they're looking to unify the many sites they have into a single managed solution as well as build a portal site for people in their industry. We talked about options and preferences and I made no secret regarding my preferences for Python/Django -- something I was happy to hear was positively received. The interview was largely non-technical, and when it was finished, the CEO said that they'd like to talk about me privately for a while and get back to me... in about 20minutes. A little surprised, I said thank you and we ended the call.

About 15minutes later, the CTO called me back and offered me the job. I'll start March 1st.

The pay sounds good, though it's tough to tell when you don't really know the cost of living over there. Regardless, it works out to a lot of money in Canada, so that doesn't suck. There's lots of vacation time, as European standards more or less require it, and they're accessible by transit. The CTO may even be able to hook me up with some inexpensive temporary housing with some friends while I look for a place of my own once I know the neighbourhoods better.

All-in-all, things are looking pretty good, though I try not to get too excited. Contracts etc. don't get signed until I come in for my first day and somehow, all of this doesn't feel like it will be "real" until then. I'm definitely leaving though. I've already bought my flights:

Vancouver » Kelowna Feb 21
Kelowna » Vancouver Feb 23
Vancouver » Amsterdam Feb 23

If the temporary housing doesn't work out, I'll look into Couch Surfing, then hostels, then hotels, in that order. Obviously, that's a rough route to take, but I'm not sure how else to do it. I will however endeavour to blog the process, if for no other reason to chronicle how very painful this kind of thing is.

December 24, 2010 19:34 +0000  |  Consumerism Moving 6

For those of you who haven't been privy to the ongoing developments in my life, I'll try to get you up to speed:

  • I haven't found a job yet. Well I did, but the two offers I got weren't a good fit.
  • I'm still moving out at the end of this month, and will be crashing with friends and family until I find what I need out there.
  • To that end, I've been liquidating (nearly) everything I own.

It's that last one that I thought I might talk about. I've been on my own for a long time now, and in that time, I've collected a lot of stuff. Much of it arrived in my possession in the form of a gift, the rest purchased by me, but as I'm slowly coming to realise, I use practically none of it.

My DVD collection, which I've been curating for nearly a decade has literally been collecting dust. I have actually torrented DVDs I own due to the inconvenience of the format. My stacks and stacks of books are similarly unused: read once (or not at all) and left to sit on a shelf, a testament to... what, how smart I am?

Stuffed animals, miscellaneous computer cables and hardware, toys, calendars, games, models... all of it: collecting dust. Despite the evident non-use of these things, I have paid to transport these things across the country not once, but twice. Many of the things in my home have been transported from Vancouver, to Ottawa, to Toronto, and back to Vancouver, and stopped being useful only a few days after acquiring them.

This whole process of liquidation has been as much a lesson in how not to horde stuff as it has been one in how to live simply. I've taken stock of what I actually use on a day-to-day basis, and have determined that even if I were to re-purchase only the highest-end stuff in each new place I live, the total cost would be less than $3k... and I can then store everything that matters in only three or four boxes.

I don't know where I'm going yet, that discovery comes next, but one thing is certain: wherever I'm going, it will be with less stuff in tow.

November 03, 2010 20:03 +0000  |  Moving Unemployment Work [at] Play 3

Nearly ten years ago, after a gruelling week of work and late nights trying to get a product out the door, my colleagues and I came into work, bleary eyed, but proud of the site we'd been able to finish on-time and to-spec. We were met with a group meeting, in which roughly two thirds of us were informed that we no longer had a job. It was devastating to most of us, but we all recovered, and learnt from all of this an important lesson: that the business world can be cold, and it's best to be prepared for the worst.

I've managed to benefit from that lesson a few times now. Working in IT, you get used to the often temporary nature of your work, and sometimes that of your employer. You make preparations for an abrupt exodus, establish connections within the community, and find ways to make the transition easier. It's never easy, but over the years it's become less-difficult.

Unfortunately, I've had to deal with such a situation today. My (now former) employer, Work at Play gave me the pink slip this morning, along with another coworker. They're restructuring, position is redundant, etc. etc. The end result is that I'm out of work, just two months before my planned exit and relocation to Somewhere in Europe. To their credit though, the process was respectful and not at all like my exit from Moshpit Entertainment so long ago.

I've already started branching out, looking for ways to cover bills and do some more saving before my exit, and I've been considering bumping up my timetable if that seems to work for everyone. Having never done a move of this magnitude, I'm unsure of which decisions to make on all of these new fronts. I do have some promising leads for some short-term contract work though, so money may not be a problem. We'll see.

February 11, 2008 01:04 +0000  |  Friends Moving Self Reflection

The beach at Davie & Denman

Check it out. That's why I'm here. Sure, it's not as noble as the reasons behind my exodus from this place, but it's a hell of a thing to come back to... and this is the wintertime. I can't wait 'till summer.

I had a bit of a crisis of faith this morning. For a moment, I wondered if I'd made a mistake in returning. Actually, it was considerably more than just a moment. I'm different from who I was when I left, and it would seem that the longer I'm here, the less I feel that this is the case. I'm not sure if I can remember how to be the person I want to be. The habits and connections I developed in Toronto are gone and I find myself falling into the same negative patterns I wallowed in 7 years ago -- behaviour I tried to beat out of myself in my self-imposed exile.

I can't explain it any better than I this and the people I would usually talk to about this are just too far away, either physically or socially. I miss my friends. I miss bike rides to High Park and cake at Future Bakery. I miss gyros at 2am and Farscape on Melanie's couch. I miss my friends.

It'll get better though. It has to.

December 21, 2007 11:44 +0000  |  Moving 3

I'm lying out on my bed watching National Treasure alone in my nifty new apartment. I'm freshly clean and enjoying the company of my usual technical toys as well as the killer view.

It's good to be home.

December 12, 2007 08:31 +0000  |  Moving Toronto Vancouver 3

It's hard to believe it sometimes, but I just realised it today. It's been 3months since I left Toronto. Not that I've had time to settle of course. Only one month here in Vancouver, and while I'm well on my way, I'm no where near "settled"... won't be for some time I think.

The Vancouver Public Library

Adjustments have been tough too. Sure it's still Canada but Vancouver is a very different place... at least for me. I've had to move back into the life I left, crowbar the new me into the old me's social circle. Some people still fit, others don't. And family... well we're always family, but it's taking them some time to get used to who I am now and not fixate on who I was when I left.

Living with the grandparents has been entertaining though. Aside from the fact that they're unapologetic racists, I've had pleasure of trying to explain to my grandfather that the reason his computer crashes with this program has performed an illegal action when he's looking at certain sites is not because they are trying to prevent it, but rather that his computer is running Windows 98 and is over 12years old.

I've also been able to "come out" to my grandparents with regard to my religious leanings. Until now, they were the only members of the family who didn't know that I was pagan and strangely enough, I was able to have a quiet, civilised conversation with my grandmother about it. She's Orthodox Christian, therefore she's not big on evangelism, so it was easier than one might think.

My grandfather still thinks I'm crazy for not believing in his god though, but he likes talking to the Jehovah's Witnesses so I don't take him too seriously :-)

For the most part though, I'm glad to be back. It's hard to explain, but the feeling I get when I tell someone that I'm going to the Vancouver Public Library is pretty great. It's a hell of a thing to live in a city with so much beauty. Seriously, Toronto people: come visit, see what I'm raving about.

December 07, 2007 06:25 +0000  |  Moving Vancouver 7

It's official, I now have an apartment. It's a nice one bedroom place in the core with a view of the mountains, a balcony, dishwasher AND a washer and dryer. All this for the low low cost of $1200. Trust me, that's low (how sad is that?)

Anyway, I take possession on the 15th of December but will likely not be sleeping there 'till after Christmas as I'm still not sure of how I'm going to get all my stuff from the Parent's place in the Okanogan down here. What's more, after all the money involved, I'm out of pocket roughly $2400 (half month rent + damage deposit + first month's rent) I'm going to be so poor that I can't really afford a real bed for the place. Looks like my futon will be it for a while longer.

Soon though, everything will be settled again... and I can't wait. I'm so tired.

September 05, 2007 22:06 +0000  |  Moving 4

I realised the other night that I may have made a mistake when moving out of my apartment. You see, when Melanie and I were packing up my stuff, we decided that the leftover stuff -- stuff to heavy to cart out by ourselves (but easy enough for cleaners with a dolly) should be left behind. So when I closed the doors and left the key with the landlord, I expected them to find 3 big cardboard boxes full of junk I couldn't haul downstairs on my own.

However, what I failed to realise at the time, was that among the old shoes and packing peanuts left behind, "Vicky M.", the blow-up doll we used in our CCTV event a few weeks ago was rolled up in a fake-bloody ball in the corner.

I can only imagine what those people must be thinking... :-)