Moving Travails

Moving from Phoenix to San Jose is going to be an eye opener. We currently have almost 2,400 sqft of house, not counting the garage. We will be lucky to have half that here (for 2.5x the price).

I am already thinking about what will have to go. A lot of what I have packed in my garage is going to get nuked. It has mostly sat in a box, so I am not going to miss it.

  • My CD’s might get sold. Not a huge collection, but apart from some special ones, that I want to save (signed etc) they have been digitized and archived long ago. Bookman’s will get a bounty.
  • My textbooks. I will look long and hard at my physics and math texts. Most will get pitched. A few I still refer to, but the truth be told, they have been collecting dust for a long time.
  • My old computer gear. I have fond memories of my 8-bit days, and a couple old Atari’s and Apples. I fear they need to go adios. There are emulators, and I still have all the software, so apart from nostalgia, there is little value there anymore.
  • My paperback and Sci Fi collection. This is going to hurt. I have a lot of sci fi that I have bought over the years. Some collectors editions, a lot of old books long out of print. I will sort through the 8 or so moving boxes, and pick one to keep. The rest will go to Bookman’s. I have been using the reader for 6 years now, and I find that most of what I want to read is available electronically.
  • My second computer desk/workstation. I will likely not have room for both. One will go, and I will probably sell/use my second 24″ monitor at the office. It will make it inconvenient to work at home, but that is OK.

This should help immensely if we get into 1,200 sqft. If we go much smaller than that, or only a one car garage, a lot more will get sacrificed. Probably some guitars and amplification. gulp

Notes from House Hunting in San Jose Area

This week I am in San Jose/South Bay to “preview” prior to deciding to relocate. Since I spent the first 38 years of my life here, I don’t need much pre-viewing, so we are hitting likely locations to live.

So far, I have pretty much dismissed the far south bay. Morgan Hill and Gilroy, while they are near and served by Caltrain, are just too damn far. I last lived at the north end of the Coyote valley, and it was OK, but still a long commute, even by light rail.

I did find some great neighborhoods in downtown San Jose. Near the Japantown district are cute bungalows (small houses) that look fun, and some neighborhoods just north of Willow Glen are attractive and affordable. The whole downtown area has cleaned up a lot since I graduated from SJSU. Definitely like it.

The Edenvale/Blossom Hill area is another strong contender. Older neighborhoods, but good feel, and it seemed like “home”. We did find some neighborhoods that genuinely sucked. Of course, when even in a sketchy neighborhood, a modest house costs over $500K, the trend is towards gentrification. Just not soon enough for our tastes.

The Internet makes it cozy to sit at your desk and look for houses. MLS Listings, Zillow and Trulia are all pretty easy to navigate. But until you sit in front of a house, you fail to get a feel. One would think that real estate agents would invest in a decent camera and some classes on how to take a decent picture.

Somethings I noticed on the road:

  • People here still can’t drive. Stupid maneuvers on the freeways, inability to merge on said freeways, crazy “california” stops. I thought Arizona had a lot of lousy drivers. But this takes the cake.
  • The infrastructure is looking old. Really old. Sidewalks are crumbling. Streets are rough. Not as bad as Tucson, but you can tell that some of the neighborhoods I looked in were from the very early 1900’s.
  • One thing Arizona gets right is the laws about how to deal with emergency vehicles. You pull over, both directions, and let them pass. I forgot about the past time here of chasing fire trucks and ambulances to catch their “green lights”. Insane at any speed.
  • Those “Keep clear” markings on the streets. Completely ignored. Traffic is bad enough, and it is difficult enough to merge cleanly, but blocking those areas is just selfish douchebag-ness. You are not helping, and you aren’t going to get there any quicker.
  • BMW must make a “California ONLY” version of their car. I swear in 2.5 days of driving around, I have yet to see a single BMW signal its intent. They must come without turn indicators here.
  • If you are in the right lane, and you want to make a left turn, it is OK in California to just cut across 4 lanes of traffic in 50′. No, really, nobody minds.

I am back at the hotel, and I am tired. Mexican food and Margaritas tonight.

Relocating back to Silicon Valley – The Good

Hell has frozen over, and it looks like I am going to be relocating back to the Silicon Valley. I left there in 2003 to take a job in Tucson that I liked, and came to enjoy much of what Arizona offers. A couple times I flirted with going back, including a very tempting job offer.

As we head out to “preview” the south bay, I would like to take a few minutes to reflect on some of the good things there will be about returning to my childhood and early adult home.

  • Family and Friends – Since I lived in the south bay until I was 38, I still have many ties to the area. My step father, and sister still live there. My other sister lives a few hours away by car in the Sierra Nevada foothills. I also still have several friends in the area. It will be good to reconnect with them.
  • Climate and Activities – I love the outdoors and the related activities. Cycling, hiking, scenic drives are all good stress relievers for me. Tucson had great (technically challenging) hiking, but the climate was such that you were limited from May to October due to the heat. It will begreat to have redwood forests, Stevens Creek Reservoir, Fremont-Older, and other great hiking. Being an hour or less from the beach will be a huge benefit (not that I am a beach comber).
  • The Food – Tucson had the best Mexican food I have ever had. But I struggled to find good Chinese or Indian food. The one Korean restaurant was so so, and everybody’s recommendation for Italian, “Caruso’s” doesn’t even rate a sneer. I know that the Bay Area has a much wider selection, and the ethnic communities do have far better restaurants and variation. Yum. And one thing that I greatly missed is good sourdough bread. Yep, Beyond Bread did a passable sourdough, but nothing, I mean nothing compares to real crusty, chewy San Francisco sourdough. Yum.
  • Business – I am not ever planning on leaving my current job. I love it, and at heart I am an instrumentation guy. But, after the barreness of Tucson, and the better but not great employment market of Phoenix, it is reassuring to know that there will be opportunities to find new challenges should I need to. Silicon Valley remains the epicenter of much of the tech world.

There are some plusses to the move, and I will keep them in mind as I am hunting for neighborhoods, weighing commute, quality of life, and where I can realistically afford to live.

Next post: The Bad

Big Changes in 2014 for Casa Gander

In 2012, I joined a great company, a cool place to work, and a true leader in Scientific instrumentation. Not quite a dream come true but a good move, particularly at this stage of my career.

Things had been going well, then the Friday before the Thanksgiving week, the bombshell fell. All manufacturing of our products will move to Malaysia (where we have been manufacturing since 1974), and thus the operation as we know it in Arizona will be closed.

Those of us in marketing and engineering were given an option. We could relocate to the home office in Santa Clara California, or we would be managed out by the end of April.

Gulp. Flashback. I moved to Arizona in 2003 to take a job at Veeco Instruments. Prior to that I was in the San Jose area. I gladly left because I realized that my 1,093 Sq Ft condo would be all I could ever hope to afford.

Moving back to that nutty housing and traffic area was something that I contemplated a couple of times, but the finances were never attractive. I even had a couple of good job offers in 2007/2008 to go back, but again the economics didn’t make sense.

This time is different.

  1. The company put together a kick-ass relocation package. Truly top notch, with mortgage assistance, tax assistance, and as painless of a move as possible.
  2. Realizing that the cost of living is pretty out of whack there, mainly due to housing costs, the company is giving a generous salary increase. Enough to help me afford a $600K mortgage (my generous house here in Chandler was $245K in a great neighborhood, 12 minutes from the office)
  3. I am rapidly approaching 50. A decade ago that wouldn’t have been a huge deal, the fact is that becoming unemployed at 50 would be a serious risk in this economy. Far too many people never find meaningful work again. While I fully expect to be a greeter at Walmart after I “retire” I don’t want that to start today.
  4. I really like the company, and believe in the products, the leadership, and the ethos of the company. At this point in my career, and I have worked for some really slimy operators, this is a big deal. I know that I have a lot to offer, and as much as I grumble about my profession, I am quite good at it.

So we are going to suck it up and move. I have until January 31st to officially accept or decline the relocation offer. In a week and a half we get a preview trip, which we will use extensively to scope out neighborhoods.

I am terrified, but if we are ever to relocate back to the Bay Area, this is the only way we will be able to do it.

This blog will be a useful outlet for my sojourn, so I hope you don’t get bored and leave.

Groovin’ on my VPS – moved 2 websites

So, after a brief support interaction with my new hosting company, A Small Orange¬†hosting is who I went with, and I haven’t been disappointed, I am up and life is good. I have learned how to use cPanel, and its companion WHM. Really slick tools, and really easy to use. I now have 4 domains setup, and have 3 more to move, and four subdomains. I have learnt a few things:

  • WordPress is really easy to move. ¬†I moved my wife’s site no sweat. took about an hour, and I played with it before I re-jiggered the name servers. Easy peasy.
  • Joomla is less so easy. My main site is still hosed. Apparently there is a PHP setting that I need to figure out. Might be a good time to go from Joomla 2 to 3. But that hasn’t been painless so far. (FWIW there is dogshit for information on how to best make the transition on the web. Sigh). I can’t even get it moved to a local LAMP server and running. Something is hosed, not surprising, as I am constantly fucking with it, so I am sure I am the cause.
  • One of my joomla sites, a 3.1 moved really easy. Move all the files, backup the database, recreate the database, set the configuration, and BAM, it just worked.
  • I like having complete control of my MySQL instance. At Media temple I had exceeded my database account limit early on, so I had to use the same credentials/account for more than one database. A security risk.
  • My next main goal is to get my SSH keys generated and installed.

So far, I am digging on the new hosting, and I am really pleased with my hosting provider.

My goal is to first move all my hosting to my VPS, then cancel my hosting account on Media Temple. Then, as my domains come up for renewal, I will move them to another registrar. But I realized when I moved my main domain (tralfaz.org) that soon, Media Temple will begin to morph with GoDaddy, and move away from using tucows for registration. I will be long gone before that happens though.