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It is time for a move.... 25 April 2001
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For most of you, this will be news. For a few, you've already heard. I'm moving from Wellington to Ottawa. I'm starting a job with Ponte. It may sound rather sudden, but this process has been brewing for over six months but the roots of this job stretch back to the early 1980s. Let me tell you a story...

After BSDCon 2000, I visited my parents, who live in Ottawa, which is where I went to Carleton University and obtained a Bachelor of Computer Science. While at Carelton, Eric and Leisa were my two of my partners in crime. The week after graduation, I headed off to New Zealand. They stayed in Ottawa and went on to become life partners. I was best man at their wedding in 1986 and we kept in touch despite going months if not years without much contact.

But back to the point. When I visited Ottawa in October 2000, one of my prime objectives was to see the Senators play. Unfortunately, I arrived in the country about an hour too late for one game, and the next game wasn't until the day after I flew out again. So much for good timing. While catching up with old times at his house, Eric told me about Ponte and the work he was doing. The type of work he was doing and the environment he was working in got my interest. Eric suggested I speak with his boss Ron Vandergeest. It turns out that Ron and I were in at least one class together at Carleton. He was in Engineering, but there was some overlap with Computer Science. I didn't know Ron then, but he remembers me because I was friends with one of his fellow engineers, Cheryl Schramm. All of us (Eric, Leisa, Ron, Cheryl, I) graduated in 1985.

Ron and I met for lunch one day and talked about the job. The work environment sounded tailor made for me. It involved databases, C/C++, networks, Internet, and a bit of BSD thrown in for good measure. At that time, there wasn't any opportunity for me, so we agreed to keep in touch and we'd see what happened.

Come March, Ponte was looking for more staff. I quickly arranged a trip back to Ottawa, did the interview things, talked to the head office in San Francisco, and was hired. After another quickly arranged trip back to Wellington, I find myself trying to pack up 16 years of living and figure out what to do with it all. Today I went through old photos that had been stuffed into a drawer. I kept the ones which looked familiar and tossed out the ones that I didn't recognize.

I fly out on 11 May to visit friends in San Francisco. Remember Kelleye? The blonde with the Miata at BSDCon 2000? I'm staying with her that weekend. As always, don't anyone tell her husband Len, because I'm told he's the violent jealous type. Unfortunately Jim has moved to Boston, so I won't see him, but that's only a 8 hour drive from Ottawa, so I might get down there. Bill is still in SF, so I'll want to catch up with him. And I'll be stopping in at Walnut Creek CDROM (I can still call it that) to visit that gang as well. It's Friday when I arrive. I hope they still have a BBQ or something on Fridays... I'll be starving....

I am not completely severing my ties with New Zealand. I've lived here for 16 years. That's all of my working career and almost half of my life [so far]. As the time to leave nears, I've been thinking more and more about the things I'm going to miss the most. In no particular order:

  • hills - I never knew I liked them so much until I went somewhere flat.
  • produce - When I was in Ottawa, I tried a New Zealand braeburn apple. I had another one today in Wellington. They don't compare. The local apple was much better despite both coming from the same place.
  • food - this isn't the same as produce. Wellington has more cafes, bars, and restaurants than New York City, per head of population. The variety and quality is astounding.
  • mountain biking - There are more trails within 30 minutes of my house than anywhere else I know. And if I spend that 30 minutes in the car instead of on the bike, there's over 300 km of trails within easy reach.
  • views - with hills come views. As I type this, the sun is setting to my left. To my right, I can see the sunlight glinting off the houses on the hills to the east. Above that, a very pale blue sky. And in between, lots of very green trees. In fact, I see far more trees and green than I do houses, despite living in residential area only 7km from downtown. And it only takes 10 minutes to drive there....
  • neighbourhood - I'm going to miss this street. It's a fairly quiet street, with very friendly people.
  • cats - I'm not taking the cats with me. They are indoor/outdoor cats. They won't take very kindly to having to live indoors through the Canadian winter. Not to mention that I don't want to be emptying a litter box....

Given all of the above, why would I want to leave? The work. The work sounds very interesting. Plus, I'd like to live overseas for a while. I am going to rent out the house. I'm not about to sell everything, pack up, and leave. As a friend of mine said, I need an out. I'm putting some special items into storage for my return. But apart from that, everything is going to go, one way or another.

At this point in time, I'm planning on being away from New Zealand for at least a year. Mostly likely, it'll be three years. An aside: it's fairly common for New Zealanders to go overseas for an extended period of time. Often they work in London, where the wages are higher. They travel. Save up, and return home with a paid-off mortgage. With luck, I'll be able to do the same.

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