Thursday, September 29, 2005

a dream

last night i had a dream that i saw mrs. hawsie sanchez' gravestone. i was passing two flat stone slabs near the street - i looked down to read them, one said "mr. hawsie alberto sanchez" and the other said "mrs. maria sanchez". of course i realized that in the old-fashioned patriarchal lingo, the couple would have been known as "mr. and mrs. hawsie sanchez". i must still harbor some sadness at her passing.

work is going well. as i write this, i'm waiting for day 4 to begin. it is an exciting place to be - new products being developed, old ones being improved, and no one has that glazed cynical bureaucratic look in their eye. people seem genuinely motivated. it helps that the products we sell are actually useful and interesting, not just snake oil or some kind of swindle.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

first day's thoughts

i know some people will be interested to hear about my work so far. there are a lot of people working very hard, and there is a lot for me to learn. the system we are developing is more complex than any i've ever seen by at least an order of magnitude, and there is scant documentation. further, i am learning the language to interact with the system (mysql and oracle) from scratch. needless to say, the learning curve is steep.

thanks to everyone for your notes of encouragement.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

tomorrow i'm a working man

i found a wayward wifi connection this evening, so i'm able to post a little something. cable modem installed wednesday which will connect us forever.

the kitchen is about finished. christie has done an amazing job getting the millions of cabinets to be usable with shelf paper and hot glue gun other such tools. we took the bart a couple of stops to the berkeley bowl yesterday and just about broke our backs carrying everything home. life without a car, however, will keep us fit.

we traded a little gadget that sends ipod shuffle signals through the car radio for a set of 4 ikea kitchen chairs. a good trade, i think, since it is no use to us anymore. we think of mrs. hawsie sanchez often - the vw buses around here are as numerous as the tinted window lincoln towncars on capitol hill.

the new job begins tomorrow.

Friday, September 23, 2005

moved in, moving on

sorry to not give an update recently - we've had spotty access to the internet lately. right now we are sitting at a coffee shop (tully's) in berkeley where we can grab a wireless signal.

we have moved into a lovely apartment in north/west berkeley (pictures soon), very near the intersection of san pablo and university avenues. it has enough space - living room, bedroom, study, bathroom, and large eat-in kitchen. everything is clean and freshly painted. the floors are hardwood; the living room and bedroom are painted some nice muted fall colors. it has some quirks that we are finding as we clean and unpack, but in general we are very pleased.

the neighborhood is great - lots of ethnic food shops and restaurants, small pubs, public library, bank, and post office. we are only an 8 minute walk from the north berkeley bart station (train into san francisco) and about 1.5 miles from the downtown berkeley stuff near campus.

today i donned my only clean work clothes and took the bart into my office for lunch with the new bosses. just as a reminder - this is the first time i've met them in person! it went very well - they are all very nice. beginning monday i'll be working in the middle of a large room of people all working on development - the opposite of a private office. i was not surprised to find the male/female ratio is about 10:1.

this weekend we are working on unpacking and stocking our apartment with all of the things we didn't get or forgot to bring. for instance, we realized that we don't have any pans for the stove-top - only oven and baking pans. also, our seating is very limited. so, we need to do some shopping to make the place more comfortable. i'll let you all know how it goes.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

california

goodbye mrs hawsie sanchez
goodbye mrs hawsie sanchez,
originally uploaded by nclinton.
we are in california, safely resting at cousin john's in mountain view. it was an extraordinarily long drive, and we are both tired. tomorrow morning we start looking at places to live.

mrs. hawsie sanchez is no more - she's in a better place.

Friday, September 16, 2005

grand island

hi, we're in grand island nebraska, just about to get back on the road. everything is fine, the truck is relatively comfortable, and the weather is nice. not much happening other than driving, so not much to report.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

rollin'

we are about to take off - just eating some breakfast. we managed to fit everything in. the varnish on the rocking chair wasn't yet dry - oh well. we have about 33 hours of driving ahead of us, so we are hoping to get there on sunday. more from the road...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

"vacation" coming to an end

christie's album is literally a few weeks away from being printed and delivered, i am less than two weeks from work, and we are just two days from getting back on the road. after so much waiting, things are moving quickly.

i have never experienced the tail ends of the work/leisure trade-off more than these past two months. not going to work was such a relief - until it was such a drag. having unlimited vacation was such a blessing - until it was such a curse. a new perspective is always a good thing.

christie's cousin jim also got a job this week after a long search. we all celebrated with candy and apple pie and cherry cobbler (or was it a crisp?).

c and i are also really into these number puzzles called "sudoku". the puzzles are 9x9 grids - to complete, find a way to write the digits 1-9 in all the squares of the grid such that each row, column, and 3x3 mini-grid contains the digits 1-9 exactly once. the number of possible solutions is (according to jim) about 6*10^21, so a few numbers are given to guarantee a unique solution. they are surprisingly challenging.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

last days in batavia

after christie and i thought about and discussed the job offer, i accepted it. beginning september 26, i'll be working as a "data analyst/qa engineer" at starmine, a firm of about 50 employees based in downtown san francisco. starmine analyzes corporate earnings (a.k.a. "profit" or "loss") forecasts in an effort to track how good particular analysts are at what they do. this is valuable information because there is significant variation in error between earnings forecasters. if one analyst tends to predict the profit of a firm better than anyone else, an investor might want to weight that analyst's opinion more. from this information many corollary products are derived, which are delivered to customers (mostly institutional investors and brokerage firms) through the web and several other channels.

my job at starmine will be to help expose and document flaws in the applications and models used to funnel these data to customers. it will involve a lot of interaction with large databases and the code for these models and applications.

this is a little bit off-topic as far as my career path is concerned. i'm not terribly worried about that, however. there are several key benefits to the position: (1) a small firm is more fun to work for because there is more energy, and any given employee is more visible and more likely to be recognized; (2) i will get to be involved in software development in my area of expertise, which is something i have always wanted but never seen an opportunity for until now; (3) i will learn a great deal about databases, which is an invaluable skill, not to mention transferable (if necessary).

christie is looking forward to starting school at the national midwifery institute. she is currently making the final arrangements to start her studies in the next month or so. who knows - maybe the g.i. bill will even come through! lord knows we are due for a bit of good luck.

so the schedule is this: we pick up a moving truck on wednesday, leave thursday, arrive sunday, find a place to live, move in by thursday or friday, and i start work on monday. we are hard at work on the apartment hunt - it will be easier when we have some prospects and are able to actually visit them. mrs. hawsie sanchez will have to be retired, either by sale (anyone want a pseudo-operational 1983 vw vanagon for $500? email me at n.c.l.i.n.t.o.n.@.g.m.a.i.l.c.o.m without the periods) or by donation. she has served us well and we are incredibly sad to see her go, but we are out of resources. we look forward to getting a late 60s model vw bus sometime in the future.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

job offer

today i was offered a position at a small private company in san francisco that specializes in analyzing and selling data about equity analyst performance (something i happened to have learned about in my previous work). i would be helping to build and test the software to process this data and deliver it to customers (e.g. over a web application, through an excel add-in, etc.). it seems like a great opportunity for both personal and professional growth. i haven't made any final decisions, yet, however.