Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Yank No Longer in Oz

Of course this is old news. The end of 2010 was the end of my adventure down under. I do wish I could've stayed, but couldn't find a job and whether AAM would pass my working visa to another firm, which cost them quite a bit, was another matter.  So I came back home and eventually went back to work for then, Aerometric.  That lasted off and on for a bit but I was among the first round of 10% corporate layoffs demanded by our new Venture Capitalist overlords.

I told them at our exit meeting that if they did lay me off, the company would close! I was joking and sure enough, 8 months later the Seattle office did close.  Not my fault since Aerometric disappeared into a 3 way merger to form Impotent Spatial or something like that. Heads continued to roll after this new creation and I don't know how they're doing but I do know they have had trouble responding to their clients. That's probably to be expected in a large merger like that. The good news is that Miller Creek Mapping came into being, started by Jim Schulz and employs 5 other Aerometric employees. I hear they're doing great which is excellent news.  There is a huge benefit in that industry by being local, small and maneuverable. Clients need to know who they can talk to and that Miller Creek Mapping knows what is needed.

Meanwhile, this Yank (as mentioned in my profile) actually did start driving a school bus for First Student which contracts with the Vashon School District.  It was mostly as something to do since their wage structure is literally 15 years behind the times.  Since contracts are in negotiation this year, I can assure you there will be strikes if this Scottish-owned mega corporation doesn't pull its head out. All the jokes about Scots being overly thrifty are true. Remember Safeway used to have their house brand of Scot's Buy?

In addition to being a school bus driver, I also started working at the Island's Liquor Store.  Some people see this as a conflict but most realize the two jobs go hand in hand.  I stopped working there in February so I could train as a Metro Transit Operator. I also temporarily stopped driving a school bus as I made more money during the month long training than actually driving a school bus!  I've just finished week #10 on my route, taking people home from downtown Seattle to Woodinville.  It's only 2.5 hours but I hope for better things.

Next week, I'll train for 4 days to learn how to operate an electric bus.  You know the ones, they have 2 poles that connect to overhead wires.  This is a slightly longer afternoon route from Queen Anne through downtown to 34th Avenue in the CD.  It should be interesting.

I have driven on Vashon for about 2 weeks, covering different drivers who had time off.  With a couple of the long time Island drivers retiring, it might be possible that I could end up with and Island route in the future!  We'll see.

I should probably look for a real job though.  I just don't feel confident that being out of it for a while, that I could effectively catch up with the latest software in use for project management, sales and marketing, and the technical programs used in engineering or whatever I would be able to go after.  I really admire Jim Schulz to taking business courses and Pat Kelly for taking GIS courses that helped form Miller Creek Mapping.

Well this is long enough and would be surprised if anyone has read this far.  I'll keep you posted on any other goings-on, especially if it's exciting.  An example would be getting the old sailboat seaworthy and go on an adventure!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Political Ad for my Aussie Friends


If you're familiar with Aussie slang , then you'll understand why this is funny.  If not, then look it up on Wikipedia, it is fun to read about Aussie speak and how it evolved.

Forewarning!  The second weekend of August is the 'Gathering of Brethren of the Salish Sea' in Everett.
120 boats are registered so far and one of them is the Seafeather.  I'll be on board again with Capt. John and his Admiral Diane.  Alas, my boat, while having a fresh new bottom, is not ready for the adventure.  I'll have pictures of that ordeal, the hauling and painting of the as-of-yet unnamed boat, posted soon.

I'll reduce soon to attend the gathering.  Cover one eye and limit my vocabulary to 3 letters, Aye, Arrrr, and sometimes Yarrr!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Big Sail 2011 – Part 2

Previously I mentioned the sailing part of the adventure and the goal of reaching the Lats & Atts NW Cruiser’s Party in Friday Harbor.  This post is about the rest of the story, enjoying San Juan Island.   Holly had driven up with Diane who’d later join us in the sail back home.  But on Sunday, when all the pirates where shaking off Saturday night’s music and grog, we decided to explore the Island since we had wheels, something rare on a sailing adventure.

San Juan Island is only about 12 x 6 miles, similar to Vashon in size, but very different in land use.  The summer climate makes for drier conditions and it seems farming, especially hay, is a big crop.  San Juan seems to be more of a true working, rural area as opposed to Vashon which is more of a suburb of the big cities of Seattle, Tacoma and Bremerton.  As we drove across the Island to Roach Harbor, we came across a winery with a camel as a neighbor and very scenic views.  After a picnic at the winery, we continued to Roach Harbor and toured the sculpture garden there.  It was interesting and there really were some that I liked.  Usually, what is considered art to some always begs the question in my alleged mind, “but, is it art?”

Roach Harbor has changed considerably in the 25+ years since I’ve been there.  New, so-called modernistic condos now climb the hill behind the once quaint harbor.  To give you an idea of how they look, go to any new Public Housing development as they appear to be designed by the same architect. But really, the Public Housing projects have even more design elements such as porches with gingerbread and railing and offset front walls as opposed to the single front of these (I’m sure) very expensive condos at the Harbor.   This in addition to the newly paved roads with lots for sale (and no houses) that now ring the harbor, really set us on edge.

Also, what once was a quaint little moorage is now 5x larger along with the boats that call this home.  Huge, multi-million dollar yachts litter the dock spaces including New Zealand’s America’s Cup entry from a few years ago, complete with her support boats.  I just had to take a picture of this 1950’s speed boat, which you usually see one wherever you find a fleet of yachts.  I included a picture of a 1952 locally built 'Skagit' that looks like a boater's version of a restored '56 Chevy.

We left Roach Harbor somewhat gobsmacked and stopped at a Lavender Farm on the way back to the boat.  At least that was refreshing instead of the in-your-face unbridled development of Roach Harbor.

Another evening of fine Island wine and great food prepared us for our separate journeys back home, John, Diane and me on the Seafeather and Holly in the van with Honey, the (now) Sea Dog.  A great weekend for Holly, and great week for me.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Sailing Trip Upon the Salish Sea

This was the 10th Gathering of the Brethen of the Salish Sea, aka the Latitudes and Attitudes Northwest Cruiser's Party. If you've ever wondered what it's really like to go on an extended sail, maybe around the world or even dare to dream what it would be like to live aboard a boat, especially a sail boat, then get a copy of Latitudes and Attitudes magazine and let the dreaming begin.

The first picture shows a new convert to sailing, my Granddog Honey who is now a certified sea dog. The second picture is of a real Sea Dog, Bob Bitchin the editor and publisher of Latitudes and Attitudes magazine. He originally started a couple of motorcycle magazines, sold them and with that money, spent 5 years sailing around the world...twice, I believe. When he returned, the letters he'd sent to friends had grown from a few to over 300. He thought there just might be a magazine on the subject and sent out invitations to the 300 recipients of his newsletter, to be charter members of a new magazine, just send money. Over 600 responded and the rest is history! Bob and his wife Jody are simply awesome people who've dared to live the dream.

The next photo is of Capt. Woody and some lucky, beautiful wench. Woody, stumbled across Bob and Jody at the beginning of their magazine and they helped him get his boat ready for his own sail around the world. Woody had a great series of articles, although not regularly sent in, but gave a great glimpse of what a first time circumnavigator goes though.

But enough of the background on this incredible party. Over 120 boats registered this year! I've been three times before and every year the party is held at a different location (probably to give the marina time to recover). All different types of people are on boats but for that weekend, become pirates, reducing their vocabulary to very simple sounds like, "aye," "arrrr," and "RUM!" Unfortunately the bottle of Goosling's Black Bermuda rum didn't make the entire trip to the party. The top got knocked off and it evaporated like magic.

While Bob and his crew help round up boating related businesses to offer prizes and support, this party is really organized by local boaters. I don't know how they do it, but it always a great time. Most attendees also contribute in their own ways, such as bringing a projector, hoisting the mail sail at night and showing movies to kids and adults. Quite a few musicians show up from around the Puget Sound and offer to play for beer or a moorage.

The rest of the pictures are typical of the beautiful scenery encountered up to the San Juan Islands. Typical of August, there was plenty of fog but out of the 8 days on the water, 3 were very hot and sunny. While my boat (Lil' Smokey) hadn't recovered yet from the little fire, I went with John on his beautiful 36' wooden sail boat, the Seafeather. His wife Diane joined us up at Friday Harbor and sailed back with us. They're pictured in the last one against one of the wonderful sunsets we enjoyed during the trip.

If you've ever thought about a sailing trip, do it! You can join Latitude & Attitudes Share the Sail program where they meet at different great sailing places around the world for a week of instruction and experience sailing, usually in a group of 6 to 8 boats. Maybe someday I'll join them, like through the Greek islands or Australia's Whitsunday Island or New Zealand or.... Until then, I'll just putz around the Sound on my 30' Coronado. You can join me as she should be ready to go by next spring!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Update USA

G'Day my many friends.

I just thought an update might be in order since my last posting included lots of snow and there could be a fear of my being stuck in snow covered wilds of Sunriver. Not the case however I had been lost in among the unemployed hoards once I arrived back home. Not anymore, a couple months ago I went to work back at my old place of employment.

With my first paystub, I was able to refinance a 10 year at 3/5%, pulling enough money out to cover my 6 months of being unemployed so I'm back to square one money-wise. Thanks to my son Nick, I have transportation. His generosity in allowing me to borrow his car for a while only proves that we've raised him right. It's taken about $1,000 in repairs and maintenance to bring it back up to par so I can give it back to him this fall in perfect working order. Crafty little bugger, isn't he? I believe he'll still let us make the payments and cover insurance, too. At least he's working towards getting into teaching so our payments will most likely continue.

I'm looking forward to getting my boat out of the water, doing much needed bottom painting, maintenance and getting her ship shape for the Latitudes & Attitudes PNW Cruiser's Party. Here's a link to some of last year's fun: if you're interested. Also as an added addition, I may have a couple of Aussies join in the fun as well. Jo and her friend Cassie may fly up for the sail up to Friday Harbor! That'll be great to see them again. I do miss the old Fairy Meadow gang. I know it'll be Jo's first trip to the US but I'm not sure about Cassie. Hopefully, I'll be able to show them a good time while on this side of the pond.

I've been growing out my hair and added a goatee in preparation of appearing more pirate-like once underway and at the party. I'm sure most people look at me and wonder if my Harley is near by.

More updates to follow.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Memoirs of a former Ex-Pat

As you may know, I'm back in the US of A. Reluctantly in so many ways as I wish I had done more exploration of that great country/continent while I was there. Who knows, while they say the US economy is improving, unemployment is twice that of Oz (and working here just isn't as much fun as it is abroad = very limited time off). But, getting home felt good. Seeing the in law half of the family was a great way to spend the holidays and doing that in Sunriver is the icing on the cake. Or in this case, the snow on the winter wonderland. I recommend getting a condo for family get togethers there if you can.

Now the job search begins. Hopefully I'll be able to find something worthwhile very soon. David, who I worked with at Aero Metric found a job in Iowa after a 2 year search! Congratulations to him. A workshop I attended put on by the State of Washington on how to apply for jobs with the State (although most of the presentation was universally applicable) indicated that at this time, an 8 to 9 month job search is typical. I may just apply for work back in Oz as they are scrambling to fill positions in many fields, especially in mining. A truck driver there can make about $80,000 per year!

I do miss Oz already and maybe will go back. It does depend upon how this country and the economy shakes out in the next few months. So, if you know of a good job opening in engineering sales and marketing or project management, let me know.

I was joking about the 'memoirs' portion as I don't know if I can really say "a yank IN Oz" while I'm back home. I will add more posts as I've been somewhat lazy, I mean, busy in my last days in Oz so neglected further posts.

I am deeply appreciative of all the friends I've made while in Oz. Mark and Kath showed me so much kindness and introduced me to so many different areas around Wollongong and really got me into the local 'scene.' And Jo, I can't say enough good things about this incredible kind and giving woman. I think if anyone tries to picture an Aussie woman, Jo would certainly fill that vision. Tough and tender, a loving mother and can be a mother, but overall a wonderful human being. Thank you, Jo.

I will return to Oz someday. Soon, I hope. Until then, I'll add more pictures and stories to fill this space.


Saturday, December 11, 2010