4-9-17

Apr. 9th, 2017 10:11 pm
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Things are getting better, I would say. Spring Break was really when my mood started to return to normal. Going to SXSW, going to All-Con, and hanging out with friends again reminded me that not every night had to be full of grading, boredom, and loneliness. Pretty much every weekend since then I've had stuff going on, or I've made something happen. I haven't started any costumes yet like I wanted, but I probably won't until I move into my own place this summer. (I would've moved out during Spring Break if it hadn't been for an unexpected $3000 truck repair bill. :T) Then it'll be a mad rush. But that's okay, since I'll be on summer break.
And as soon as we get out for the summer, I'll be heading off to Turkey for two weeks. A lot of people are nay-sayers telling me I shouldn't go because it's not safe or it's financially irresponsible, but there are dangers everywhere and I'd spend the money on something else even if I didn't go. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm a bit behind on my Turkish lessons. I almost think learning Japanese was easier. At least Turkish has a similar alphabet, but so many vowels and odd phonemes and those words are so long too! I don't even know pronouns yet. But anyways, it's going to be awesome. The exchange rate makes it really affordable and allowed me to stretch what I thought what would be a 10-day trip into a 15-day trip. There's a chance I may get lonely or homesick after traveling that long on my own but I think I've got enough planned to keep me occupied. Maybe my next trip abroad I'll actually have a travel partner for once.
Work is . . . moving along. Even though it's the second semester which should just be a repeat of last semester, I'm still so busy every day that when I finally look up, it's the weekend again. I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing. The year will be over before I know it. And the assistant principal that's over the science department let me know in a roundabout way that I'd be welcome there next year. Even though I had no concrete reason to doubt my continued employment, it's good to know that I'm not totally worthless at this teaching stuff. I wish they'd discontinue that one stray “Earth & Space Science” class that I'm solely responsible for. The counselors have turned it into a dumping ground for lazy/challenged students and I neglect planning for it in lieu of my dear physics classes. But . . . I got this job because my civil engineering experience made me uniquely qualified to teach ESS. So if it goes, then so does part of my worth towards the school.
Also, Bamboo and I are talking again. It's limited to texting, since I'm holding to that “respect my need for distance” request until told otherwise, but we talk easily and fairly frequently. And she's re-friended (?) me on various online outlets too. These developments have really helped to cut through that knot of unease that's been living in me for months. I'm eager to try and restore that friendship of course. Yet, I know that that's not up to me. So we'll see.
I guess I'd say I'm almost content with how things are going right now.

Febs

Feb. 20th, 2014 10:47 pm
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School is going well. Most of the courses are push-overs. The only one that gives me any difficulty is the 100% online one. It's just so . . . meta and meaningless; as if it's a federally-mandated course that sounds good on paper but is so abstract or intangible that no professor wants to teach it, nor does anyone really have an idea of what it should amount to. At least, that's the impression that I get. Or maybe some tenured professor invented this class as their sole piece of territory to maintain their own relevance. Or something.
Anyways, yeah, that's class. I've also joined the anime and k-pop clubs. The anime club is large, but I don't agree with the format. They do a lot of things (not all related to anime), so I applaud them for being ambitious, but I feel that some members may be discouraged or disinterested due to that (I know I am). I joined the K-Pop club to expand what little exposure I've had to it. It's a tiny club that's still trying to establish it's place in the acknowledged student clubs. I've got homework to listen to some recommended artists. We'll see how that goes.
I've been looking for work ever since my school and student teaching schedule stabilized earlier this month. I tried at places that I was both interested in and thought I might have something to offer, such as Home Depot, Lowe's, Jo-Ann's, and CostCo. I didn't hear back from any of those dozens of applications. I applied at Chipotle and got hammered with responses. I suppose Food Service is always hungry for fresh meat. So I interviewed there yesterday and was offered a position immediately. Yay. I mean, I'd prefer not to work in a restaurant, but I applied with this company because it's the sole food chain that I respect enough to be part of. So I think it'll be fine. Though, I was reading through the employee's handbook tonight and was slightly displeased to find that I can't participate in a 401K until I've been there for a year. Boo. I suppose I could re-invest in my old 401K on my own, but that takes a bit more discipline and initiative. Although that's a small hurdle, it might still be large enough to trip me up.
This job really came in the nick of time too. A couple weeks ago would've been ideal though. My savings are all tapped out and I have to decide whether I want to dip into my retirement again to bridge this shortfall till my first paycheck. I probably will, just to ease the tightness and avoid defaulting on any obligation. I'm just wary of becoming too familiar with using this 'last resort' option.
Student teaching is a bit frustrating. I'm only there one afternoon a week, which isn't enough to build any rapport with the students or the teacher I'm assisting. Three weeks in and not even the teacher knows my name yet. Plus, I'm there as more of an observer than a teacher or disciplinarian; I can't really take the initiative for either without usurping the teacher's own authority. And with these middle school kids, she's already fending off enough challenges to her control of the classroom. I just wish I could participate more. Oh well. Just six more visits and that'll be that.
I found out that this certification will take longer than I anticipated. Although the coursework will only take me two semesters to complete, I can't perform my actual student teaching (as opposed to this 'early field experience' stuff) until I've completed my coursework. So it'll be two semesters of coursework followed by a semester of student teaching and THEN I'll have my certification. So three semesters all told. It's no big deal I suppose. I'm comfortable living with Cameron and I can work fast food for a year and a half. Plus, this development may actually be in my favor. I'll finish everything up and begin my job searching at the end of the school year. Before, I would've been trying to get a job halfway through the school year, which isn't the most opportune time to do so.
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So. Since my last installment in August, what's happened? Well, I passed my PACT test with flying colors, scoring a 92%; it seems that cheating was mostly unnecessary. But as important as that test was, I wasn't going to leave anything to chance.
While waiting for my scores I attended Dragon*Con. Like always, it was the highlight of my con year. I think I've gotten the hang of that con. So many more of my friends attended this year. It seems like the center of gravity has shifted from AnimeFest to Dragon*Con, so I think it'll be the go-to Labor Day event for everyone I know next year.
I sat in Austin twiddling my thumbs until about Thanksgiving before I FINALLY got a reply from the University of Texas at Dallas saying that I had been accepted. That was a huge relief. I moved up to Plano and settled in at my brother's place ASAP. My mother and sister visited for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those holidays were as minimally unpleasant as could be expected.
I returned to Austin for the New Year's weekend, as I'd agreed long ago to volunteer to work the Ikki-con cosplay staff for Beauty. The work wasn't too demanding, but the hours were long, which prevented me any opportunity to take photos or go drinking with friends. I felt under-utilized and that I was mostly wasting my time but whatever. I was doing a favor for a friend.
I have to say I'm considerably more comfortable living here with my brother and his wife and toddler than I'd been in Austin or Richardson. I suppose the fact that I'm family neutralizes my reflex feeling of being a guest that I'd experienced at the other places I've lived recently.
School started just over a week ago. I was kinda nervous. Partly because of my age and the associated decline of cognitive abilities that go with it. And also, I signed up for 15 hours before I was informed that in graduate school, 9 hours is considered 'full-time'. As it takes 30 hours to get teacher's certification, I wanted to finish it in two semesters. So I was worried I'd bitten off too much. But if the first week is any indication, then this liberal arts degree plan is significantly easier than the work load I'm used to from my old engineering plan.
The only fly in the ointment is that I need to get a job. I took out a chunk of money from my retirement fund to pay the up-front cost of school and my rent/bills are modest enough that I can handle them for now just with what I've saved up. I've sent out maybe a dozen applications and I haven't gotten any nibbles. Perhaps it's because my heart isn't in it. I suspect that I haven't gotten any replies because I'm overqualified for the retail jobs which I'm loathe to do anyways, and yet I can't commit the time to any employment more serious than that. And the knowledge that I could dip into my retirement again (if I had no other choice) is probably sapping at any motivation I have to find a job. I KNOW I need to find one, if for no other reason than to sponsor my hobbies and social life. And truth be told, I have too much free time on my hands right now. I NEED to be doing something. I just can't seem to give half a damn about any of the job opportunities that I have a chance at landing and I may be too proud(?) to go back to minimum wage fast food drudgery.
If I could get the employment issue sorted out, I'm sure I'd have smooth sailing for the rest of 2014. We'll see.
In a couple weeks I should begin tutoring at a local school district. It seems a bit sudden to me, until I realized that I tested my way into the final phase of the teacher certification program. The FBI is running a background check on me as we speak, to see if I'm fit to work with children. I'm 90% sure I'll pass their scrutiny. I'm curious to experience this student teaching. Often, our instructors hark back to the purpose and idealized mission/drive that all teachers should have. This is kinda new to me; in engineering, our professors never spoke about what it meant to be an engineer or what sort of qualities you had to have, if you were willing and able, that was all that mattered. So when our pedagogical professors talk about how compassion and caring for students should be foremost, I find myself thinking, “Well I like kids, but it's science that I love.” By their metrics, it should be the other way around. Or at least, that's the impression that I get. Maybe this student teaching will show me if that disparity will be a problem or if it's just a phantom.

Tiny Pot

Apr. 23rd, 2013 10:50 pm
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I’ve been living with Daniel and Addison for two weeks now. It was a huge relief to have them take me in with just 24-hours notice, essentially. Especially considering I don’t know Addison at all and only ever met Daniel once one evening at last year’s Dragon*Con. I really lucked out; I think all my other friends in Austin only have small one-bedroom apartments. These guys have a two bedroom house-partment? It’s got like two living rooms essentially and my space is half of the spare one. At 9’ by 7’, it’s a . . . cozy living space. I really miss having my own SPACE. It’s been eight years since I lived with people(s) I wasn’t LIVING WITH. I’m terribly self-conscious of all the noise/mess/smells/disarray I create with my cosplay habits, so I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m at home. Nothing against Daniel and Addison, but I’d rather be living in someone’s backyard if it meant I didn’t have to worry about such things.
I tell myself to be patient, that I’ll adjust with a little more time. And even if I don’t, well I shouldn’t be here more than 3 months or so. Well, that’s what I was assuming. While renewing my graduate applications, I realized that all Texas universities require a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, no exceptions. Even the alternative certification programs require a 2.5. My 2.4 GPA may well exclude me from graduate school. UT Austin required a 3.0, which explains why they didn’t even bother with my application. I will re-apply to the other UT schools (read, ‘the less prestigious ones’) I’m considering, on the off-chance that my GRE scores might earn me a probationary status.
But I’m not going to hang my hopes on that. I need to start coming up with a non-graduate school Plan B. I can’t think what that might be at the moment, but I simply can’t continue to languish at my current job.
Speaking of work, that continues to be dwindling. Last week I exhausted the last of my vacation hours trying to stretch my paycheck towards 40 hours for the week. This week I might get 10 hours. An engineer and I have been working to get a large, local project kicked off in the near/immediate future, but as fickle as things can be in this business that could be next week or 2 months down the line.
So when Boss #0 asked if I’d consider an assignment in Mozambique, I couldn’t justify saying no. I don’t know shit about the job or that country, but I don’t have any other options. He’s submitted my resumè and that of another guy who’s in the same situation as me; so that’s a 50/50 chance that I could go. Looking up Mozambique on Wikipedia didn’t do anything to raise my enthusiasm and from what little I’ve heard about our other African assignments, it might entail living in a secure compound the entire time and being escorted by hired security. Further discouraging me from indulging my whims to go exploring is the fact that I don’t speak a lick of Portuguese or any of the native tongues. Even if the job turns out to be that confining and risky, I think I could endure it for the 4-6 week duration they described. Now that my Plan A for graduate school seems to be in jeopardy, I’ve put a pronounced emphasis on making what money I can while I’m still with this outfit. If I go, I go. Get another stamp on my passport.
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Things may not be as bad up here as I first assumed. No one bothered to inform me of the relevant details that would’ve improved my attitude about coming back here. The workload has dropped off considerably, from 4 drill rigs to just one. Now it’s just a one man job, not like when I was scrambling trying to be in four places at once. From what I can gather, this remaining drill rig is working one of the last structures, so there shouldn’t be more than a month or two of work left to do. Since the workload here can be handled by one inspector, if I were to come up here again, it would only be for when the full-time guy takes his one week off each month.
The prospect of working just a week per month is a magnitude of difference compared to working 3 weeks a month. I’d have no complaints to that option. Combining that with my Texas work schedule, I’d be making double my base pay, plus I’d be racking up the frequent flier miles very quickly.
This is a huge relief. I can start looking towards the future optimistically and make plans, rather than limiting my thoughts just to the day immediately before me.
I return to Austin on the first of December and I’ll take the following week off to start packing up my house and move it into storage. On the 10th I’ll join the drillers for one more 10-day shift up in DFW before a 2-week break for the holidays. I would like to see my brother for Christmas but I know that drive will be horrendous and it doesn’t seem worth it just to hang out for a few hours. So without any other DFW-centric plans, I don’t think I’ll be going up there. I don’t know if Jenny and Beauty will be hosting their traditional New Year’s Eve party since they’re also moving house in December. So for the time being I have no real holiday plans. We’ll see what comes up.
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This post was written two weeks ago, but I've been lousy at updating. Let me get this out of the way so that I can start getting caught up.

TRF )
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I'd thought to write a post about the delightful weekend my friends and I had at the Texas Renaissance Festivale this weekend, but a sudden swirl of clouds has eclipsed that.
I returned from Canada two weeks ago. Between all the overtime I'd worked and the vacation time I'd accrued, I took that time off for myself. I returned to the office on Monday to find some ill-boding portents. Last year when I'd returned from Canada, I discovered that many employees had been let go, a trimming of the fat in these lean economic times. And again, when I returned from Canada, I found that more people were gone. Last year I likened the office to a ghost town; now it's as if entire parts of the office are abandoned. There's no fat left to cut; now (muscle/essential people) are being excised.
Within the space of a day following my return, Boss #1 has already laid out my meager option, singular. He says that he did not expect me to return from Canada so soon (although I think I was explicitly clear that I was only agreeing to a finite stay of two months, and here we are at two months and a week). The job I'd assumed would be in full swing by now and to which I'd be assigned, has stalled out instead. I used up my accrued vacation time last week so Boss #1 has put me on unpaid leave for the week. There is simply no work, no assignment that I can be put on. The only assignment that he could find for me, the only one that is still vacant due to the fact that no one with a choice would accept it, is Australia.
I wasn't surprised at this. I'd known that as soon as I returned to the office, I'd be shipped off somewhere else; that's why I avoided it as long as I could. This was expected. I'm only sorry that my girlfriend has to share in the crap I've been dealt.
He asked me if I could leave for Australia by Friday. Glutton for punishment I may be, but even that short of notice is too much of a slap for me to tolerate. Most likely I'll have to depart Monday. In the next few days I'll learn more of this assignment. Plans could still change, though I doubt it.

Also, today was my final session with the career counselor. The outcome was not the silver bullet/golden egg I'd been hoping for. I'd expected this process would result in me finding the one single career I was perfect for, a goal that I could fully commit myself towards. But now that it's all done, I'm left with an ambiguous choice. The career(s) that I'm most suited for . . . also happen to be the ones that require the most advanced degrees and ALSO have the fewest job openings. So, go back to school for a PhD in a profession that has only 60 job openings statewide? 700 nationally, if I'm willing to emigrate from Texas? Or do I settle for a less-than-optimal-for-me career that is more marketable, but comes with the risk that I'll divorce it like I have my current occupation? Regardless of which I pick, the prospect of 4-6 years of college and a lower income/lifestyle for that duration isn't very enticing.

The big jump is coming next. Deciding where to live, where to go to school, how long I'm willing to commit, how am I going to finance it, what risk am I willing to accept, when to quit my job, will I leave the state to have a better chance, etc. It's going to be a big lifestyle change and loss of the stability and comfort of my current home, regardless of what I decide. I'd just hoped that the answer would've been clearer, to make my choice easier. But no, it's not in black and white.

So in a nutshell, today was two doses of bitter pills.
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I finally got around to finishing my Dragon*Con entry. The report's kinda dull since I didn't do much cosplaying and don't remember much (because of all the booze), but NONETHELESS I had a FANTASTIC time. More fun than last year's D*C, if that's humanly possible. It was great fun to build on old friendships, rekindle distant ones, and start entirely new ones. I owe it all to my buddies, near and far, who made it a success!! A year is too long to wait for next time!

P.S. No pics just yet. I should have those posted in the next day or two. But here's one pic to curb your appetite.
(The secret word is 'cocktails'!)



Dragon*Con report, if you're interested )
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"Hi! This is your airline hostess, Susan Kelly, speaking to you direct from our new Boeing 7-0-7 jet in mid-air!"

Japan: Day 0, part 1 of 3 )
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The bad news is really starting to stack up for my trip.
I’ve been keeping the news of nuclear danger in perspective, even though I’ve had dozens of people tell me that I’m crazy/stupid for ignoring it. Really, I’m getting pretty pissed by so many ill-informed people and complete strangers TELLING me what I can and can’t do. They don’t even try and discuss it with me, they just figure since they’ve watched 5 minutes of news, their blanket opinion carries more weight than the opinion of someone who’s been planning this trip for four months and has his own money and safety invested in it. I had to spend an hour last night trying to calm down my irrational sister; she wants me to at least wear a dosimeter while I’m over there. I think I will, just to shut up all these nay-sayers. I won’t even answer the phone when my mom calls. 9_9
I’m not worried about the scheduled black-outs or the rumors of food shortages; I figure that those only apply to limited areas and could quite possibly be corrected by the time I arrive. I’ve got a rail pass that allows me to take the bullet train anywhere in the country, should I need to avoid certain areas. So I’m fairly flexible.
But today there’s been two big setbacks. I chose this time of year to make my trip because the Tokyo Anime Fair is next week. I see that as a sort of cosplay pilgrimage; witnessing cosplay in it’s homeland, at the site of the world’s largest anime convention. Imagine how awesome that’d be.
But the Anime Fair has been cancelled for this year.
. . . That sucks.
But really, that only affects one day out of my ten-day schedule. It’s regrettable, but 90% of my schedule is still intact and I can easily fill that hole, I imagine.
The big one though, is that the tour company announced today that Jenny & Beauty’s tour had been cancelled, so they won’t be going. That . . . really sucks. I avoided signing up for that tour because I wanted the freedom to do my own thing, but I’d still planned to have overlapping itineraries and hang out with them occasionally. Now I’d be going without any friends; two weeks on my own in a foreign country. That’s lame and a little intimidating. The question I’m asking myself now is, “Can I have enough fun on my own to justify the trip?” At this point, I really can’t say.
I’ve got until Saturday to decide whether I’m going or not; after that I’ll start getting hit with last-minute cancellation fees. So I’m holding out for some/any good news that makes this trip more attractive. I've started to contemplate the idea of postponing, but I don't see any equally good time for travel in my near future. I'll need to change jobs soon and once I do that, big vacations won't be in the cards for awhile. I can't shake the feeling that if I postpone, it'll be 'indefinitely.'
Besides the matter of money and my own stubbornness, I think one reason I’m still committed now, even after all these setbacks, is that I keep thinking of that quote attributed to Mark Twain.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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I got into town last night and was pleased to find a bunch of Christmas cards in my overstuffed mailbox. Considering they're probably all the 'presents' I'll be getting this year, I was happy to find them. Another unexpected bit of good fortune; my ex-landlord sent me back $600 of my $800 deposit. Wow. I'd thought I'd never see a penny of that again. In addition to that, my company gave me a small holiday bonus since I've reached the 5-year employment milestone. Plus, my credit card bumped my limit up by a $1000, since I've been with them for a year now. Yay for surprise money!
With these new funds plumping up my bank account, I went ahead and reserved my plane ticket for Japan. It's the biggest expense of the whole trip, but I needed to finalize that first before I could plan out the rest. So now I'm dialed in for 10-days, 10-nights in Japan. Wooo! Now that I can finally start planning and scheduling events and places, I'm getting really excited. It's hard not to get carried away.
But the trip-planning's gonna have to wait a couple days. My family's coming in to town tomorrow so I've got an ass-load of organizing and tidying-up to do at my new place. It'll be fun to see them I suppose, I just wish I had a little more time to myself to relax first. Oh well.
So I may not be online too much in the next few days but I really hope everybody out there has a fun, stress-free holiday.
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I’m so ready for this shit-tastic week to be over.
Last night I was doing loads of laundry to get all my luggage ready for west Texas. While going about other tasks, I thought, “Man, the dryer has been running for a long time.” Something like three hours, to be exact. I check the clothes, they’re still wet. The dryer’s not putting out any heat, just flopping the wet stuff around ad infinitum. Great. I suppose I may have been a little too rough loading/unloading the dryer from my truck during the move; something delicate must’ve broken. I actually resorted to hanging my wet things in front of the fireplace; it was a ridiculous sight.
So I get to call a repairman when I get back to town. In the meantime I have a whole lot of wet clothes to take with me on my trip.
This morning I got up early to make one last trip to the old house to clean it up before the landlord arrived to check me out of there. When she got there she started bitching non-stop. She wasn’t too happy that I’d already transferred the utilities over to the new place and that I hadn’t cleaned it to hospital standards . I dunno what her problem was, saying I’d done a "horrible thing" by creating such a "disaster". I couldn't tell what she was getting so worked up about. I hadn’t vacuumed because the power was already turned off, so what? Nothing was broken or destroyed or pet stained or nothing. Just a little dusty here and there. I’m sure some of that Polish she was speaking were curse words, but whatever. It was weird, I've never had a grandma chew me out before. I was like, "I can't snap back at her. She's OLD." She threatened that she’d have to charge me; I didn’t really care. I figure with that $800 deposit she got from me, she can pay Consuelo to vacuum and dust a bit. I was just ready to get out of there and be done with the place once and for all.
A quick bit of packing at the new house and I headed out to drop off the rental car. Now when I spoke to the insurance guy about dropping it off on Sunday, he’d said that their location wouldn’t be open on Sunday but I could drop it off at any other Austin location. Okay, cool, nothing to worry about, I figured. But when I stopped by the Enterprise place closest to the office, it was closed on Sunday. I checked the internet and out of the 15 Austin locations, 12 are closed on Sunday. Two locations which were kinda close are open until 3 pm. The current time? 2:54. Crap. The only one that’s open is the airport, way the hell on the other side of town. Great. From this point:
30 minute drive to airport + $50 drop-off fee + 15 gallons of gas @ $4/gallon because I forgot to fill the tank + 30 minute wait for shuttle ride + $25 and 30 minutes for the shuttle ride back to the office
Yeah, let’s just keep throwing money at this snowballing fiasco. I don’t even want to think of what the final price tag for this week will be.
*sigh*
After this week, some time in west Texas will be a welcome respite from all this crap. This has been the most ridiculous move I’ve ever conducted. I’m hopeful that some of these problems will sort themselves out by the time I get back. The new house is actually rather nice; I look forward to getting it set up properly when I return and maybe sinking my teeth into a new cosplay project too.
To sum it up, I’m thankful this week is over.
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Yesterday seemed to drag on forever. Without tv or internet and all restaurants and stores closed, I was hard pressed to find ways to keep myself occupied. And man, did it get cold quick yesterday afternoon or what? That cold front was not screwing around. Of course, that meant I would soon discover that the thermostat/furnace isn’t working like I would expect. I’d finally figured out how to turn on the A/C the other day, but when I switch it to “Heat,” I get nothing. So I fired up the fireplace. I’ll probably be annoyed by it the other 360 days out of the year, but for this week I’m glad I’ve got it. I’ve been burning leftover scrap lumber from cosplays-past to keep the house comfortable.
I got up early this morning to take my truck in to the insurance place so they could do their estimate and insurance-y stuff. They gave me a rental car; apparently that was covered in my policy unbeknownst to me. I was expecting them to give me some dinky little Geo Metro or a SmartCar or something like that. But the guy brought around an Armored Personnel Carrier.
Flashback - A dream realized? )
Generally, I’m against the idea of “retail therapy,” but I think I may have accidentally committed it today. After being cooped up all day yesterday, I was not about to go back home after I got the rental. First I went to Jo-Ann’s. A little birdie had told me that you could get a whole bolt of interfacing for $3 on Black Friday. Hells yeah, that would set me up for life. Man, there were so many moms and grandmoms there. That was the longest wait at the cutting table ever. While I was waiting I browsed and ended up getting stuff for two more costumes. C’mon, it was half off! That’ll give me something to work on in west Texas. Next I went to B&N for books and then to Ikea for furniture and other odds and ends. I don’t like Ikea’s crappy construction, but I hadn’t found what I was looking for at any other stores yet so I gave it a shot. While I was there, I got a phone call from the insurance dude. He’d finished his estimate and told me, “The total damage amounts to thirty-six hundred dollars.”
*heart attack*
Holy shit. Four grand? The whole truck only cost 16 grand, new. Another 25% just for cosmetic repairs? That’s a whole other year and a half of truck payments! He kept talking insurance-y stuff, but all I kept hearing over and over was, Thirty-six hundred dollars, 36 hundred dollars, three thousand six hundred dollars. But then he said, “You’ll be responsible for the $250 deductible and the rental.” Wait, what? I was still kinda in shock from the larger number so I just kinda mumbled in assent.
So by the time I get back from west Texas in a week or so, my truck will be ready. Whether I have to pay $1000 or just $250, either will be a bargain compared to $3600. As long as I only have to pay my deductible, that’d be great. Something that might be called a bit of good luck is the fact that I renewed my insurance just a couple weeks ago and paid the 6-months in advance. So it’s not like they’ll be able to jack my rates up anytime soon. As long as these costs don’t get out of hand I should be able to absorb the financial impact without too much grumbling.
As far as holiday news goes, I don’t know where my family is, or what they’re planning. It may sound callous, but if they don’t show up, that’s fine by me. With as much stuff as I’ve got on my plate right now, I probably wouldn’t be the greatest host in the world, not to mention my house is a cold Stone Age hut right now. Maybe they’ll call tomorrow and show up, maybe not. If they don’t, I think I’ll go down to the Haven Gallery to see their exhibit. The Austin Chronicle did a column on a glass-weaving exhibition. The photo of a KIMONO WOVEN FROM GLASS instantly caught my eye. I’m no fashion nut, but I _am_ interested in impossible costumes and this is truly that. The exhibit ends the 11th, so I have to go see it this weekend if I’m gonna see it at all. I pray they allow photography there, because it’s gotta be phenomenal to see in person.

P.S. The title was totes a Deadwood reference. Bonus points if you caught it.
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cut for length, not girth )
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Post-dated from 4 p.m.

Two days of traveling home, with some pics )
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Thank Helios the sun has finally come out! Sure, there's still frost and flurries in the morning, but the afternoons are actually pretty comfortable. Unfortunately this thaw has turned the snow-covered landscape into one huge, brown, muddy bog. Knee-deep mud everywhere. The native word for this organic muck is "muskeg," which I believe loosely translates to "moose shit". So we've gone from snow to swamp in two days. I'm not sure that's an improvement.
In (sort of) good news, I finally got my photography permit (just in time to not take pictures of the snow). Now I can take my camera along with me and not worry about the random vehicle searches. Guess I'll have to wait till spring gets here before things are pretty enough to photograph.
I also finally got around to getting Skype. I told myself to get it so I could call for (practically) free to the States, but I haven't actually called any of my kin yet. I'm just so tired in the evenings! But I have to call my brother. It was his birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday, runt!
I got paid yesterday which marks a shift from me paying to be up here to finally getting rewarded for the hardships of this job. The pay is better than I was expecting, which was a nice surprise. Too bad I can't spend any of it up here! Ha ha ha. Oh well, it's probably better that I can't.
And most importantly, I've just got 5 more days before I go back to Austin for a week. I am SOOOO friggin' ready for that. Working 12-14 hours a day for 28 days straight? Yeah, I need some down time. I spend a good part of my idle time daydreaming about the things I want to eat/do/buy when I get back to the 'real world'. Sadly, the food is my greatest fantasy. I haven't had caffeine or a fry or any sort of combo meal in a month. The sucky aspect of my week off is that I have to travel on my own time and it takes 2 days to get from the camp back to Austin (and vice versa). So they give me 7 days off, but I'll only actually be in Austin for 3. Majorly LAME.
I guess that just means I'll have to really focus and cram a month's worth of fun into three days. A challenge? Yes. Do I accept? Hells yeah.
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cut for Day 0 )

I spent most of today in training and spending more money on equipment. So far I've been impressed with Calgary, the northernmost mega-city on the North American continent. In a strange way it reminds me of DFW, in that both cities are in the great plains and surrounded my vast rolling grasslands. (For those of you unfamiliar with either city, think, "Dances with Wolves". And if you're unfamiliar with that movie, then WHY ARE WE EVEN FRIENDS?) I didn't manage to take any photos around town (too busy and too much traffic), just one pic I snagged from my car window.
And don't even get me started on the culture clash. Okay, fine, if you insist. Man oh man, I nearly crack up everytime I have to use Canadian cash. In my head I'm giggling, thinking, "Hee hee hee, these people use play-money. It's not real! It's fake! Hee hee!"
And they really do say "eh" all the time. While I was buying my coveralls and boots, the clerk kept saying "eh" at the end of almost every sentence. I really tried to keep a straight face. But I couldn't figure it out. Is "eh" a form of punctuation for them? Is it like the "desu" in japanese? And he would pause everytime he said it, so maybe he meant it as in, "eh?". I didn't know if I was supposed to agree, or "eh" back at him, or what. I dropped a couple of "y'all"s into my replies, hoping he'd figure that I didn't speak his lingo. But he kept firing them at me.
Those are the two biggest conclusions I've reached today. I'm thinking my research on the Canadian subspecies of North American will be very interesting.

I'm not as stressed as I was yesterday. If I can just make it till tomorrow noon without Wells Fargo sending a hit squad after me, I think I'll be okay. Tomorrow I'll be boarding the charter plane and heading north to 'the Fort'. That's when the real adventure begins. (Expect plenty of pictures!)

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I had actually started writing a fun light-hearted post this morning, but everything went fucking bonkers this afternoon and now I'm too stressed, aggravated, and tired to follow through with the funny stuff.
The good news: After two days of being in limbo, I will finally be getting on a plane to Calgary tomorrow. So that means no more wondering and waiting. It's really going to happen.
The bad news: Once I get there, I'll have a dozen different things to pay for that I can't afford and my company's being a penny-pinching dildo about giving me any money in advance. They won't even give me money for food and lodging (which are basic needs), but they expect me to also be renting a car, chartering a flight to the Fort, and buying $300 snow boots, amongst other things. What the fuck? They sign my paychecks. They know I don't make that kind of money. When I get up there they'll have to cough up the money somehow, so I don't know why they're being so damned stubborn about it.
*sigh* So tomorrow's gonna be a lot of not-fun. Once I get on the plane I'll be able to relax; someone else will be holding the reins for the 7-9 hours it takes to get there. Right now though I'm still pretty wound up. I want to stay in tonight and relax, but since my cupboard is bare, I think I'll go somewhere that serves beer and have a long, indulgent dinner. That should help me decompress. Oh, and if I have enough steam left over after that, I'll go to 6th Street and get my official Texan uniform to wear tomorrow. ;)

August 2017

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