Okay, so here's what's up right now in Russell Land. It's been a hectic week, as you can imagine. It's Saturday already at 8 a.m. and I'm thinking about all the things I need to do today before I have to return my rental car tomorrow and find another hotel. Urgh.
Last Saturday I checked into my hotel out here in Concord and it's been very nice. It's quiet out here and full of all the conveniences (i.e. Krispy Kreme) but it's a bit far away from the city. This is decision number one: Do I rent a 3 bedroom house out here in the burbs, or do I look for something nearer to the jobs. Concord is *out there*. It would rule out any sort of jobs in the Valley unless I felt seriously masochistic. The pros are that it's sorta "nicer" out here and we could have a big place with a yard and all that. And I like the +10 degrees inland gives you. The downside is the commuting, the hassle with the cars and the fact that Ana would be stuck at home for a while and would definitely feel isolated.
So... after checking out a few places here (3 bedroom homes for $1600 a month?!?! ) I'm heading back into The City today to look around where I'll be paying similar amounts for 2 bedrooms. I've taken a drive around some of the East Bay, but I just can't seem to warm up to Berkeley, Oakland or Alameda. Maybe I haven't seen the nice spots or something, but it seems to me you give up the benefits of the "real" burbs and don't gain much. I'd rather be in San Francisco. Here's the average rents in the East Bay. Those of you in Oklahoma can stop gasping now... it's worth the price to live here.
Okay - so the apartment situation is continuing. The good/bad thing is that there are a ton of places to see. I've stopped using the Craig's List feed because you can't narrow your searches when using the feed (you get everything) and I was drowning in listings. It's still more efficient to go to the home page, enter search parameters and refresh. I'm going to bite the bullet and sign up for a service as well. RentTech.com for example seems to have some better/cheaper listings.
I'm going to buy a car *soon* as well. Maybe even today, so I don't have to rent a car any more. It costs a minimum of $500 a week to rent a car, which is just money out the window. However, the best way to get a deal on a car is to spend a lot of time doing all that research, getting bids from dealers and in general having lots of patience. Thus I've resigned myself to paying out the nose. I'm looking at a "mini-SUV" right now. I actually want my Honda CR-V back, the one I had before I left for Spain, which is decent on the gas mileage (for those fucking Europeans who start pointing fingers) but you get to sit up high on the highway and has decent storage space for moving stuff (like children, et. al.). It seems, however, that a $20k car might be outside my budget at the moment. So I may have to scale back... we'll see what sort of deal I can get. Maybe a used one or a cheaper competitor might do the trick as well. I'm going to wander around the dealerships this morning for a look.
The job thing (which is purposely buried here last) is like this: I got the contract that I came here for and started on Tuesday. It's a fun company and I'm working on a neat mobile-based project but the hourly rate I'm getting leaves a lot to be desired ("beggers can't be etc., etc."). At the end of the contract they may give me an offer to join full time which is good. In the meantime I'm also applying at other jobs and have my second interview at Macromedia next Friday. It looks like they might be interested in me, but not sure where I would fit. I also have another interview a friend lined up for me as well, though things have been so hectic I haven't pursued it just yet. So right now I've got income (a Good Thing (TM)) and some options in terms of full-time employment. Though, honestly, I want more options because otherwise employers have no reason not to low-ball you on the salary and position.
I should probably post this separately, but calling home *sucks*. I tried to use Skype but after just a few minutes there's a longer and longer delay until at one point the other day my wife and I were talking and there was a 12 second delay (which is *very* confusing). Also, the other day on the way to work, I called my wife from my cellphone and had her call me back. God knows what I was thinking. I have to remember (and will now) that you PAY FOR INCOMING CALLS here in the good old US of A (fucking thieving cell companies). So we chatted for 30 minutes using my hands-free while I was in traffic and then when we hung up, AT&T told me that they had just spent my $45 I had on my pre-pay and had helpfully just charged me another $45 (of which god knows how much I used). They were charging me $1.50 a minute to *receive* a call from an international number. Bastards. So the choices I have right now are: Hotel phone - bad. Cellphone - bad. Internet - bad. Payphone with a calling card - bleh. I need to get my own phone soon.
To anyone who's emailed me lately, sorry - I'm soooo behind on my communications. Responses will be coming soon.