Tuesday, September 26, 2000

The First Week

Hi all,

This newsletter will be sent in a few pieces, as this free ISP service from Excite only allows for a few recipients.

You should have my new phone number and info by now. Right now I can't call long distance from this phone, I have to use a calling card or prepaid long distance card. It's corporate housing so I don't blame them.

How was the softball banquet ? I hope someone took lots of pictures !!!! And put them on the web (HINT HINT) !

The trip here was a bit crazy, 7 hours of travel time and two planes. The vet told me I should sedate Tiger, which I didn't want to do, but didn't really have a choice. She handled it ok, she wasn't too happy, but was too drugged to complain much. hehe

A few hours after I arrived, I set off on the California highways to a friend of mine's house for his birthday party. What hit me immediately was the craziness of the driving experience here. People were cutting me off like nuts. Freeway turn-offs and entrances are very poorly marked, and it is easy to get lost. Freeway merging lanes are no more than 20feet in length, making merging an interesting experience.

The party itself was catered by one of the neighborhood maw and paw Mexican food restaurant. People were shocked when I told them that the only Mexican food in Toronto was Taco Bell. Here, Mexican food is a staple, with restaurants being more common than McDonald's. Good food too, just like the stuff I ate when I was in Mexico. Homemade tortilla chips kick ass.

The jet lag started kicking in around 7pm PDT (10pm EDT) so I headed back to the hotel.

Sunday I spend the day driving around and exploring the highways and San Francisco. I had a nice tour of the Castro (gay area) looking for a gas station. The architecture, sights and vibrancy of the city is unreal. You can't really describe it unless you go there yourself. (HINT #2 ! VISIT !)

Monday was my first day at my new company. The new hire orientation, held every week, was jam packed with 150 people. I had nice conversations and bantering with those sitting next to me. Did you know that one of the founders of [my company] is now spending his time seeking extraterrestrial life ?

At one point during the question period, one person asked a question about our company's presence in Canada. A man behind me with a thick British accent made the comment "Who cares about Canada." I turned around, and without saying anything, gave him the dirtiest look imaginable. He stammered "Oh, I like Canada, really !" Ba-boom !

The weather here has been nothing short of fabulous. This past week set heat records all around the bay area. The temperatures hit the 100s for three days straight. Today it is a more comfortable 85. It gets cool in the evenings, as one would expect from the fall season.

The most stressful situation so far was the housing problem. My recruiter could not locate corporate housing that would take the cat, as it was all full. She told me to remain in the hotel, but didn't book it. Wednesday morning I was told that the hotel was full and I had to check out at noon. With the cat. With nowhere to go. When I was in the middle of a training course. I left a tearful, desperate message to my recruiter, who thankfully found me corporate housing. I moved during my lunch break.

The corporate housing is very nice, exceeding all expectations of mine. The building looks like two-level townhouses. The apartment itself is two-bedroom, furnished, very roomy, complete with TV, VCR and so on. They even gave me sample sizes of laundry detergent and other essentials, some spaghetti and sauce, and a bottle of wine. California Zinfandel.

My first week at [my company] consisted of orientation and training courses. I took two courses, and am taking the prerequisite to those two on Monday. Keeping up was a significant challenge, but I was able to make it through.

Thursday night, a friend from Shaw was in the Bay area for some business with @Home. We drove to San Francisco and did a short walking tour of Fisherman's Wharf. We ate at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, a restaurant themed after the movie Forrest Gump. The server was asking us trivia questions, which we had fun attempting to answer. We both pigged out, as I had only eaten two Pop Tarts from the company vending machine all day.

Friday night, the Defector crew got together. The Defector crew consist of ex-Rogers employees that made the move to the Bay area. Thuy, Mike W., Amir, Fahmi and myself. We went to Chevy's for some more Mexican food

Saturday, I took a trip to Gilroy (1/2 hour south of here) to a huge collection of outlet stores. There were four plazas in total. I spent the afternoon there, but only bought a few slinkies. I'll be back later for sure. :)

The Defectors were invited to Thuy and his wife's house for dinner that evening. Their house is nothing short of beautiful - 2400 square feet, five bedrooms, open-concept and Spanish-styled. The value of the house has gone up 25% in two short years. I was invited to pick some tomatoes to make REAL homemade pasta sauce. Mmm mmm. I gave them the Zinfandel. Thuy was kind enough to lend me an extra computer until mine arrives, which is what I am on now.

I am slowly getting used to the area and its quirks. I was told by Nicole that people here are very nice but rather ditzy and a little TOO laid-back. I haven't seen this yet, but I'll let you know if I do.

See y'all,



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