January 26, 2015: Time for a… Change

As always happens when traveling to the west coast, I was in bed very early last night and that means that I woke up, on my own, super early this morning.  My internal clock does not allow me to sleep in, which would have been handy.  Instead I was awake first at two thirty in the morning, but managed to fall back asleep that time, and finally woke up for the last time at five.  It’s good to be up nice and early before your first day at a new job but this was excessive.  I had a full four and a half hours to kill before I was to leave to get to the office.  That is pretty early.

Had a bit of a technical emergency this morning.  Of course, anytime that I am traveling or incredibly busy this happens.  So frustrating.  I had to assist with that early this morning, around six or six thirty, but luckily Dominica was able to jump in and take over so that I did not have to focus on that this morning, especially as I did not have a computer to work from!

I showered, got dressed, shaved (well, trimmed) and killed some time.  I eventually left as late as I could stand it and that was at eight.  An hour and a half before I needed to leave the hotel.

The walk to the office was less than half an hour.  But it was more than twenty minutes which is ideal.  You don’t want your walking commute to be under twenty minutes or it doesn’t really count as a cardio workout, of sorts.  So this is good.  For the next two weeks I shall be getting two twenty to thirty minute light cardio work outs per day.  That, in theory, should do wonders for me.  I am looking forward to that.

On this morning’s walk I took along just my iPhone and my iPod.  My iPod is loaded up with my new Audible books and this morning I began listening to Bill Bryson’s “The Lost Continent: Travels is Small Town America” which is good, but I am glad that I am reading it without Dominica as I feel that she would find it too dry.  She loves Bill Bryson half of the time and cannot stay awake for him the other half of the time.  This one is one of his less gripping tomes, but even his lesser works I still enjoy.

As expected, I arrived in front of the office at eight thirty.  I was not slated to start until ten.  So I walked around the area for a little bit to see what was around.  I also spent some time just sitting nearby cooling down from my walk.  I am rather out of shape these days and a half hour hike through the city is enough to warm me up quite a bit.  Partially that is because I only have two walking speeds: idle and brisk.  So even on a cool day with a  breeze I walk myself fast enough that I get warm no matter how hard I try to walk slowly and relax.

Once I had cooled down I found the Steep Brew Cafe attached to the Whole Foods diagonally across the intersection from the new office on Rhode Island Street.  I was happy to find that they do a true Cafe Americano (not brewed coffee like Americans drink, a confusing name to be sure) and ordered a large and spent some time sitting in the cafe listening to Bill’s tales of Iowa.

At nine thirty I gave up on stalling and went over to the office to start my first day at Change.org.  This is it, a major new chapter in our lives.  This is the beginning of the steam roller of life changes.  New job, new career in a new industry, my first time working in California – here in the city that I dreamed would probably be my city in American when I was very little.  And with this new job, the move to Europe.  Everything is different after today.  Everything is in motion and really happening.  Really, until today, none of it really felt all that real.  Now it seems pretty real.  This truly is a completely new chapter in our lives.  I’m not sure what moment really is the more significant.  Is it today with a new career?  Or is it in late March when we arrive in Spain?

My new Macbook Pro was waiting for me when I got into the office.  I got shown to my desk and everything was all set up and waiting for me.  This is a new adventure for me too, in a way.  This is the first Apple Macintosh that I have had since I bought the Mac Mini PowerPC G4 model more than a decade ago.  And that old Mac Mini was never my main computer but only ever a secondary or tertiary machine that I bought to be used in “the other room” for occasional computing needs and even for that it was never used and almost immediately turned into nothing more than a DVD player in the living room of the Geneseo house.  And once we moved from that house in 2006, it was boxed up and never used again.  I still have it, but only as a keepsake, not as a useful device.  It wasn’t useful ten years ago.

So now, using a Mac as my main computer is actually something quite new to me.  I have never once tried this before.  I am jumping in with both feet this time.  A scary thing for an IT professional who is rather a power user on several platforms.  My ability to work quickly and efficiently is something pretty important with what I do all day, every day.  Learning a completely new system is a major handicap.  Little things like figuring out how to scroll down on a web page, how to open an application, how to install something or how to get wireless working are all things that are foreign to me.  And Mac, in my experience, is the least obvious, steepest learning curve of any commercial available operating system.  There is a lot to learn in the OS alone, let alone in all of the supporting applications.  And that’s before learning a new job and all of the special systems that are used there.

So when I say that I am starting a new chapter, I really mean it. Everything is new.  From my employer, to my industry, to the type of work that I will be doing (in a way), to the tools with which I will be doing it, to the people with whom I will work, to the type of computer I am using, to the country in which I will be working, as well as the continent on which I will be residing, and even so far as to the language that I will be speaking!  That all of this change comes as I start at Change.org seems like an omen, at the least.

Soon after I got to my desk, my new coworker who is always starting today came in and we got introduced.  A lot of people came and introduced themselves to us.  We are sitting directly next to each other and working on the same team which makes things very easy.  Another new person, sitting facing us, started today too joining us about twenty minutes later.  So there is a little group of us newbies today.

We had a bit of introductions then we were introduced to everyone at a meeting and then we set about getting actually set up so that we could start work.  Many, many systems to set up and learn how to use today.  A very busy day.  We were hard at it from ten in the morning until late in the evening, not leaving the office until around six thirty.  A full first day.

It was a gorgeous, bright and crisp day in the low sixties here in San Francisco.  And back home in New York?  Well, I managed to escape right as a record blizzard was hitting there.  They are expecting as much as thirty inches today, which would break some records.  Although, from what I have heard, it is bad but nothing like that at all.  Still Dominica is very thankful that I ran out and stocked her with food supplies so that she would not need to go out grocery shopping while I am gone.  She and the girls are hunkered in for the time being.

For lunch today the two of us who are new on my team got taken out for sushi for a “team lunch” which was cool.  Always nice to get taken out for food on your first day.

Overall I had a very busy day but am really thrilled.  It is a really exciting job both in what I get to do technically as well as what we do as a company.  I am really feeling quite positive about everything and am so thankful that I decided to go in this direction.  We are really feeling blessed that this opportunity came along.  Our lives could so easily have turned out so dramatically differently with just a little different decision making in December on many parties parts.  But both Dominica and I are really feeling confident that this was absolutely the right decision.  This is where I was meant to be.  And we are confident that in twenty years we will look back and agree that this was the best decision to make.

At six thirty, in the dark, I headed out from the office.  I had not thought about the need to carry my laptop to and from the office and had brought no bad of any kind for doing so.  That was very short sighted of me, to be sure.  Luckily my team lead at the office tracked down a silly bag for me to use so that I could at least get to and from the hotel today and he plans to have a real backpack for me to use after tomorrow.  I just have to get through two weeks but I do not want to do anything that causes me not to walk as much as possible.  I am excited about the exercise too.  I really hope that this job isn’t just the better career move and the better family move but also allows me to become healthier for it too and I started today.  This is a complete life change, all at once.  No hedging now.  All in.

The walk back to the hotel was fine.  I took different streets on the way back so that I could see a little more.  My hotel is on seventh and I walked down to Rhode Island on eighth this morning.  I came back via Kansas / Henry Adam and seventh tonight.  Not a very different route but one block different in both sections.  I only get two weeks to see San Francisco and get to know it a little so I have to leverage what I can.

I got back to the Carriage Inn and dropped off the computer and set it up for a few minutes.  I am loving that Apple Messenger allows me to talk to the people who text me via the laptop rather than having to use my iPhone for things like that.  It saves my batter a lot and makes responding so much easier and less interrupting.  Dominica and I already used that all day long today.  Otherwise talking to her from the office would drive me crazy.

Once home I found that Michael Slane, that I went to high school with at York Central, had joined Facebook and added me today.  He was online while I was in the hotel so we caught up a little bit.  It has easily been twenty one years since I have spoken to him.  Hard to believe.  I have looked for him a few times but had not had any luck in finding him.  Apparently because he has not had Facebook until today.

Speaking of old connections: my old college roommate from GMI in Flint, Michigan from 1995 (we were housemates in 1995, we lived across the hall from each other in 1994 in the dorms) Russ Sarquis finally accepted a Facebook friends request that I made years ago.  So that is two of my housemates from GMI tracked down now.  Russ has the old Chevy Cavalier Z24 convertible that we used to cruise around Flint in back in my college days.  He is the person that I drove to Sarnia, Ontario with just to go to Canada for fun one night too.  That was a very long time ago.  Although, strangely, there was only five years between college and when I started blogging, just one quarter of the time between then and now is not recorded here in SGL!

I ran across the street to Custom Burger again.  Tonight I tried the salmon burger.  I brought the food back to the hotel.  With the full beard now there is no way to eat things like burgers in public.  The beard is actually a pretty serious diet plan.  There is so much food that I cannot eat with people watching me.  It is a little bit ridiculous.  I wonder how people normally handle this.  I need big bearded friends to ask.  It is forcing me to eat healthier, at least around other people.  And certainly to eat less and more slowly.  It is a weird side effect but a healthy one, at least.

The salmon burger was truly amazing.  I mean really amazing.  So delicious.  I am sure that I am going to get that again tomorrow night too.  I was craving another one as soon as I was done with the one that I had.

After eating my dinner I watched the Rough Guides “Top Things Not to Miss in Spain” video on YouTube and was excited to see that the number one thing not to miss was flamenco dancing in Seville which we plan not only to go see but hope to secure dance lessons for Liesl which she is very excited about.  And the number two thing not to miss was seeing the little hill top villages of a specific region where, it turns out, is exactly where we are going to be living – in one of those not to be missed villages!  So we are really getting the experience, for sure.

Much of my time in the office today was spent discussing the travel and visa needs for our European (and elsewhere) adventures.  We are attempting to figure out when visas will be needed, how often and how to manage the time, taxes and everything else.  In some ways it all seems pretty simple but there are potential complications and many, many things to be considered.  It is going to be a huge amount of work for Dominica and I to track and manage all of our travel consideration.

I spent all evening working on my new Mac.  It is pretty awesome.  It is the high end fifteen inch model with the Intel i7 quad core processor with hyper threading (so it appears as eight cores) with the high end discrete nVidia GPU, huge SSD, Retina display and 16GB of RAM.  I’ve never had a computer anything like this. This is so much power!  I am very impressed.  I have never had a job, even on Wall St., that provided gear like this.  And it is not like I had to request this at all.  This is just the standard stuff that I got for checking the “whatever you provide” request box!

I made sure to get caught up on SGL as much as possible as I know that everyone is going to be watching it carefully this week to see how things are going.  I also did a ton of posting on MangoLassi and Spiceworks.  With all of the travel I have been a bit behind and am trying to keep up when possible.

I am also really excited that I get to talk about where I work.  It has been more than a decade since I could openly discuss the work that I am doing, at least for the bulk of my time.  I have always had to have been at least partially secretive about it.  This is going to be a major change.  Now I am encouraged to write, post and speak about where I am and what we are doing.

In many ways today was an overwhelming day, but overwhelming in a very good, very positive way.  It is very hard not to be excited.  Tomorrow is going to be very busy again, but we are going to be doing a lot of the working out of the visa arrangements tomorrow so I am looking forward to finding out much about those details.

Dominica had to deal with our Irish and Norwegian housing arrangements today as those are some of our final travel plans that need to be finalized before we are ready to go.  That parts would not have been so bad except that the house that she and her family were already set up to rent in Orlando, for which they had already paid their security deposit, was canceled on them because the owners “decided that they wanted to stay there.”  So Dominica, in a panic, had to spend the day finding alternative housing options and getting something lined up before the Walt Disney World trip turned into a disaster.  She was able to get things all worked out but it was a lot of stress for no good reason.

Dominica tell me that the girls are mopey and really miss me.  Luciana has not been more than two feet away from Dominica all day and is very sad that she cannot see her daddy.

This evening Luciana ran up and jumped on Dominica giving her a big hug and declared loudly, “I am the master of snuggles!”