Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Progression of movement

I grew up in northern New Jersey, about twenty miles across the GW bridge from NYC. After a little college I dropped out and wondered what to do. That being the time of the Viet Nam war my most likely prospect was to be drafted, where those without deferment ended up. Not liking mud and wet and being shot at all that well, John Wayne movies notwithstanding, I enlisted in the Navy.

My enlistment started in January, and I was sent up to the Great Lakes recruitment depot outside of Chicago. Those of you from that area know that it is rather cold in January. After boot camp I was sent for training down to Memphis, Tennessee, which lasted for seven months. These two locations were the farthest I had been from home at that time. My first working assignment was to be at the Lemoore Naval Air Station in California. Leaving New Jersey in early December in a snowstorm, our plane spent the night on the ground in the Midwest someplace because of the storm. On to San Francisco, then a short hop down to Fresno. A base driver picked me up at the airport, and on the way out to Lemoore he pulled over to the side of the road and snitched some oranges off of a tree, in a big grove of other orange trees. Just having come from a snowy night the concept of a person actually picking oranges off of a tree in the sunshine in the wintertime was very strange. I had always associated oranges and tangerines with Christmas, finding one in a stocking was always a treat (this was a long time ago my children, back when such things were expensive). I decided right then that there was no real need to return to New Jersey.

After four years in the Navy, mostly there at Lemoore and on two cruises, I stupidly returned to college back in Rochester, New York. I was a photographic illustration major, but worked on electronics while in the service. I took a summer job teaching computer repair, and wondered what the programmers were doing. A few classes later I found that I was one of them. RIT produced dozens of photographers each year, and National Geographic, Life and Playboy only employed a few, so the normal place of employment upon graduation was behind the photo counter at K Mart. I found programming to be more profitable, and here I am many years later still doing it. Hired in Rochester for Xerox Corporation, my manager shipped me out to Phoenix for a six month assignment setting up a new computer system, where I met my future wife as discussed yesterday. Returning to Rochester just before Christmas, again to an airport closed because of snow, I informed my boss that I didn’t think I would be staying for very long. Good news – our division was opening an office at the Xerox plant in the Los Angeles area, and being single and not minding a move across country (not minding a move from twenty below Rochester to sunny oranges growing alongside the road California?) I was quickly dispatched.

I bought a house near the Xerox plant in Manhattan Beach. Well, a GI loan got the house, with Xerox paying all purchase costs. Pretty good deal. When Xerox left the computer business a short while later we looked for a bigger house, and ended up with a new one down in Temecula, halfway between LA and San Diego. Ten years later we completed the southward journey, selling out and moving to San Diego itself.

After seventeen years the state decided to build a freeway in the canyon behind our house. Not liking the noise, we decided to move again. We searched the west, from Tucson to Fresno to Portland, for a nice quiet place. My wife, having lived in Phoenix, wanted sunshine, which crossed Portland and Seattle from the list. She also wanted a big airport, which nixed Tucson. So the sunshine and house prices had us select Las Vegas. April will make it three years here, and we’ve loved every minute of it. I find 115f by the pool so much nicer than the 20f below zero of Rochester, and the sunshine much brighter than along the misty California coast. But we do have our high winter moisture – I think it’s up to 8% humidity right now.

So, Deana, we are very happy here. After coming up weekends searching for a house, we looked at around sixty different ones. We selected an area we wanted, with big lots (well, big for out West) and older (well again, built in the 60’s, old for out West). Most people coming to Vegas want brand new homes. We found a house on half an acre that was bigger and cost less than a new one in Summerlin (one of the ‘hot’ areas) built eight per acre. We are slowly making it into what we want, pulling down all the 60’s wallpaper, tearing down some walls, and making interior changes. Put down hardwood floor in the front room, converting most of the grass to low water desert landscape, and putting in a nice big patio cover out back. Now working on the front courtyard, then onto a kitchen redo. Hey, Dana, want to come over and help mix and pour concrete some weekend?

The only drawback here is that there is almost no work for a FoxPro programmer. The place I am now and the place I was at before are the only two companies in town using FoxPro. I’ve tried to build up my consulting business, to no avail. I’m now in the process of learning C#.net, which is Microsoft’s latest effort, and the bank is converting everything to it. When I know that then there will be lots of employment opportunities, mostly with companies that build slot machines or create casino management programs.

The next move will probably be farther. We seem stuck here as long as granddaughter is nearby. B is babysitting while our daughter is back to work teaching. They are talking of a move, to Portland or someplace greener. Guess he misses his Canada somewhat. If they go then we have no tie to keep us here, beyond just loving the place. But if Bush’s group stay in power for much longer we probably would consider a move, perhaps to Canada (but too cold) or maybe New Zealand. I would love France, but probably can’t afford that, and their politics don’t seem much better. I like big cities rather than out in the country. Hey Rob, what’s it like for programmers around your place?

Reading an article in Sunday’s paper I thought of Dana, it was about the Naturally Santa convention, singing karaoke Thursday at Tequila Joe's Karaoke Bar at the Imperial Palace. With a photo showing dozens of guys in red suits and big white beards all standing on stage singing. I’ll try and find the shot and post it.

No comments: