Packing Up

Published at 19:40 on 2 April 2012

One last quick post before I pack up my computer. The next time I use it, I will be in my new apartment.

I was going to post a longer entry on how I’ve been surprised by how quickly things have been changing, but that will have to wait. On second thought, perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise:

  • Everything was basically waiting on finding a job, and I found one.
  • It’s spring, the easiest time of year to find a new home. Last time I looked for an apartment in Seattle, it was the winter holiday season, the absolute worst time of year.
  • This time I adjusted my apartment-search strategy based on my knowledge of how difficult it is to find a decent apartment in Seattle. (What I did was to cease focusing on a particular neighborhood, and instead be willing to rent anything in a suitably close-in neighborhood that was reasonably close to a good natural food co-op.)

And with that, farewell until I sign on from my new home.

On Sharing a Home

Published at 12:09 on 1 April 2012

In principle, it’s something I like, because I have found that living by myself can be unduly lonely at times.

In practice, I do not think it is for me, because a variety of factors intersect in my life, and the end result of this intersection is that there really are not many suitable shared housing opportunities out there.

The first factor is that I’m nearly fifty years old, and like most people my age, I’ve managed to accumulate a set of personal possessions that reflect both my interests and my life history. It’s not an excessive set of possessions by any means (I haven’t filled up an entire house with them), but it’s more than can fit in a single bedroom.

The second factor is that with one exception, shared-housing opportunities tend to involve but a single bedroom; in other words: just not enough space for me and my possessions. What I’ve done the past two years is to cram about half of my stuff into a storage locker, but I’m starting to miss having access to some of that stuff. The exception is if one is the senior partner, i.e. a homeowner looking to rent out a room. The senior partner is expected to come with a house full of things, and only offer an empty room to the junior one.

The problem with being a senior partner is that I have no desire to become a homeowner: I don’t like Seattle enough to be willing to make such a commitment to staying here long-term. Seattle works well for me right now because I’ve found a job that seems to be a good match. However, if that job vanishes, and I find work in someplace more to my liking such as Bellingham, I want to have the freedom to pack up and leave town.

The third factor relates to collective houses, i.e. properties owned by a collective where I would be an equal partner, not a junior or a senior one. There’s actually one which is a very good match for me here in Seattle, all things considered. But I’d still get merely a room, and the location of that property leaves much to be desired, because it’s surrounded on three sides by freeways. Not only is that an aesthetic downer, experience has taught me that excess exposure to tire dust and other traffic-related toxins makes me significantly less healthy (the dirtier the air, the more often I get colds, and the longer it takes to get rid of them).

At this stage, collective living ends up being very much like living in the city of Portland: it’s something which is very appealing in the general case, and not very suitable for me once one brings the particulars of my life into it. So it’s back to living in a single-person household for me, at least for a while.

Moving Yet Again, or Money Really Can Solve Some Problems

Published at 15:41 on 25 March 2012

I’ve been missing having all my things accessible (about half of them are crammed into a storage unit in Portland), plus I’m really not all that compatible with my current housemate, plus the neighborhood I’m currently in has gone downhill since I moved here (rowdy partiers moved into the house next door).

I was racking my brain for strategies for addressing at least the final problem (I hate not having peace and quiet at night) while at the same time having to cope with being unemployed in an expensive city. Suddenly, I’m employed again. I don’t have to rack my brain: I just have to sign a lease on an apartment of my own and sign a check. Problem solved.

I’m definitely not looking forward to the whole moving process again, but I am looking forward to settling into my new place for at least a few years. As much as I find things to dislike about Seattle, it’s not all that bad a place when compared to the average big city in the USA, and it is in the ecoregion I’ve bonded with and consider myself part of.

Moreover, while not perfect (is any place?), the apartment I’ve found does have enough of the things on my rather lengthy list of wants and needs (some of which are difficult to satisfy in Seattle) that I feel comfortable signing a lease and bringing an unexpectedly early end to the search for a new home.

So, Where From Here?

Published at 13:06 on 4 March 2012

First, slide film is not dead. Yet. Fuji still sells it, and fortunately I prefer Fuji’s slide films to Kodak’s anyhow. So I figure there’s at least several more years when I can continue shooting the exact same combination I’ve done for a decade now. As a bonus, the more people who do this, the longer slide film will last.

Next, color negative film is still going strong. I don’t like it as much as slide film, but Kodak has released a new emulsion in recent years (Ektar 100) that I’m actually quite fond of. So after slide film dies it will be decision time: is there a negative film available that is good enough? If so, I can shift to it.

If not, it will be time to begin the unpleasant process of learning how to cope with a new but inferior tool. Or perhaps time to abandon a form of photography which, while presently an enjoyable pursuit, will have become unduly tedious and frustrating thanks to technological processes beyond my control.

And I am loathe to bequeath the name “progress” onto such processes.

So Much for That

Published at 13:02 on 29 January 2012

I had what I thought was a better-than-average job prospect, but at this stage it’s obvious it is not going to materialize, since the appointed time for a response has passed with no word whatsoever from the employer.

Maybe it’s just as well, because it would have required relocating at short notice to a different part of the metro area. It wasn’t a particularly bad part of it, but still: if I must relocate at short notice, I’d rather it be to someplace in Cascadia that does not have one of the key glaring downsides that each of the major metropolitan areas here have. In other words, I’d rather get something a little extra for the pain and bother of moving.

If it wasn’t for those downsides (Portland: allergen levels and general poor air quality, Seattle: poorly-planned growth that has a significant negative impact on quality of life, Vancouver, BC: onerous immigration hassles), I wouldn’t necessarily have an objection to living in a larger city. It’s just that each of the three “major city” options in the Pacific Northwest happen to have a serious downside to them.

Another Winter Storm

Published at 17:35 on 18 January 2012

Snowy Woods, Camp Long, Seattle
Camp Long this Afternoon.

The forecasters really couldn’t make up their minds on this one. First it was supposed to be the storm that ends this current cold spell by dragging the normal mild marine air back. Then, it was supposed to start as snow but turn to mild rain and end the cold spell anyhow. Then the amount of initial snow went up to amounts that would create a slushy mess when the rain came. Then it was supposed to be all snow, huge amounts of it.

Those huge amounts of snow went south (Chehalis, a lowland town that gets no more snow on average than Seattle does, got a whopping 17 inches). We ended up with a little over 4 inches here in West Seattle, still a very significant accumulation for the lowlands.

It all wound up as forecast around 2PM. Or so I thought. I woke from the nap I took after my walk in the woods, and looked out at a puzzling sight: tiny little drops on the outside of the window, a haze in in the distance as if it was still snowing, but no flakes falling and no evidence of the least bit of melting.

I went outside and the mystery was solved: the leaves on the laurel bush out front were becoming glazed with ice. Freezing drizzle. It’s sundown and there’s now a distinct crust on the snow, and the tree branches are making that creaking sound in the wind that they do when encrusted.

Up until this week, I had been worried that this was going to be a dud of a La Niña winter. No longer.

The Daily Job Ad “WTF?”

Published at 12:21 on 6 January 2012

To Apply: Please send portfolio URL and resume to [e-mail address deleted]. Subject line should read “Your Name: Backend Developer.”

Really, now? A portfolio? For a back end developer position? Isn’t that about as relevant as asking an electrician or plumber for a set of pictures showing external views of new buildings he helped work on?

This one cuts particularly close to home for me because my last job involved fixing the horrible mess the back-end code was on a site that looked absolutely beautiful when viewed on a browser. Interestingly, this job has been advertised regularly since last autumn, so it seems this employer is having trouble filling it.

Gee, I wonder why…

Back to the Old Interview Roller-Coaster

Published at 10:15 on 4 January 2012

Already have one scheduled for tomorrow. So now I get to go through the whole “this might be the one… oh shit, it’s another mismatch” ride again. Eventually it will end, but the odds of it ending on any one interview are not so great.

And So Goes Another Year

Published at 16:51 on 30 December 2011

Biggest accomplishments were escaping Portland for someplace where I can be outdoors in spring without endangering my health, and unloading the condo I have there (which I guess could be regarded as a subset of the first, but I hadn’t actually lived there for some time).

I’m still unemployed, but that’s not a terribly big surprise. Once I had gone about a month without locating work, I pretty much knew it was going to be a long, hard slog, because I never have any middle ground in this regard; gaps between jobs seem to either be inconveniently long or too short to offer any time to recharge.

My Irony Meter Exploded

Published at 14:36 on 22 December 2011

… when reading a Craigslist job posting titled “PHP Programmer & Fine-Code Connoisseur // $110,000 (Seattle)”. PHP is a textbook example of the hazards of someone who has insufficiently studied language design designing a language. No genuine “fine-code connoisseur” would want to touch PHP with a 10-foot pole.

The unrealistic salary indicates that it’s a pretty transparent example of a sleazy recruiter trolling for résumés. PHP jobs tend to pay less than those using most other platforms, precisely because anyone with enough smarts to be a good programmer doesn’t want to touch the language.