Thursday 29 November 2007

0.4 Children

I've been back at work for four days now and wish I'd posted an update at the weekend when I had more energy. I think I must have been a lot younger last time I had a job, not to mention the hours are that bit longer here. It's not like I ever really get any work to do in the first week of a new programming job but somehow, that doesn't help.

The studio itself is very impressive. It's more organised that anywhere I've worked before and there are nice touches everywhere: a coffee machine that doesn't require constant maintenance, web-mail that loads faster than I can read it and I even get a bus pass! Really, that's the closest I've ever got to having a company car so I must be going up in the world!

Washington and Seattle actually seem more like home than the America I've become accustomed to. It's colder outside than it is inside, there's moisture in the air, pedestrians walk the streets and posters everywhere advertise gigs, plays, etc..

It's rather frustrating for both us grown-ups that we live somewhere where there's lots to do now that we can't do any of it. There's a bar right across the street from us but unfortunately, Washington's under-age drinking laws prevent us from taking Owain to those - the first thing we missed about Arizona. He actually had his first drink from a bottle today but did it turn him into an antisocial lout? Not likely. He's six weeks old today and he can handle himself pretty good.

Our new home is full of 'character'. Most of the cigarette smell is gone now but the carpets are still a little sticky. The shower knob seized up the other day and looked for a while like it would never turn again. However, the most troubling observation (for me at least) is that none of the electrical sockets have an earth... they're all two-pin! This means that none of my power strips work. It also means that I can't use my extended laptop cable and am having to run off my battery right now.

A plus about these flats is that our neighbours haven't secured their wireless internet which is how I'm able to blog. For that reason, I ought to sign off before I'm rumbled and instead get some rest. I'll try and post at the weekend when our goal will be to get tables.

Thursday 22 November 2007

Progress Report

Yesterday's flat hunting went reasonably well considering. We did a lot of driving but only saw three places in the end. The first had stone floors which put Heather off straight away. The second was a long way out but very smart. It was sort of a 'community' with communal laundry rooms, a swimming pool, an off-shore deck and so on. Both of these places were on the pricey side - almost as much as I'm used to paying in Brighton or Guildford although far more spacious.

The third place cost a third less rent, was quite a way north of the office and smelled of stale cigarette smoke despite a fresh lick of paint. Regardless, we've told the landlord that we'll take it. It's available right away and we're done with living in a hotel room. It may not be ideal but the area, Ballard, seems nice and the contract is month-to-month which means we can easily change our minds. (Most places expect at least a six-month contract.) We see the landlord tomorrow morning. Then we do battle with the Black Friday bargain hunters!

This is actually my second Thanksgiving in the States. My trip to see Heather last year was around this time also. Back then, we were guests of Mary Ellen's family in Fountain Hills. This year we had to make do with restaurant food at McCormick's Fish House & Bar. In truth, it wasn't half bad except that there was only one portion per person. A proper Thanksgiving should be at least three or four. As it was, we left the building unaided.

Today was my Mum's 60th birthday and she sounded quite sloshed by the time I spoke to her. Perhaps she'll post some pictures of her celebrations (hint, hint). Sadly, Heather also found out this morning that her Grandpa passed away. He'd been in decline for some time so it wasn't a huge shock or anything. However, it does mean that Owain never met any of his great grandparents.

If we move tomorrow or check into a different hotel, I may not have internet for a while but I'll try and gets some photos of the flat ASAP.

Wednesday 21 November 2007

So Far in Seattle

We've been here a day now. The flight ended up being a couple of hours delayed so we didn't get to the hotel until gone 2am. Then Heather remembered we'd left the cot on the baggage carousel. So half the morning was spent returning to the airport to collect it, then getting fleeced by the Advantage Rent A Car agent who saw us coming a mile away.

By the time we'd eaten and made it back to the hotel, Heather was too tired to go anywhere. A sympathetic receptionist upgraded us to a room big enough to fit the cot in. Unfortunately, it was on a floor where the Internet was down. By the time that was fixed, it was too late to phone any landlords. It's thanksgiving on Thursday and that spills over into Friday. So basically, we've got one business day to find a place to live before I'm due to start work. It's going to be an early start but that's ok, we've got the world's best alarm clock!

When the baby isn't on the move or in a restaurant, he gets very tetchy so I decided to calm him down with a walk. We're in the Executive Pacific Plaza which is only a few streets from the waterfront so with a tight grip on the buggy I walked down the steep hill to Alaskan Way. In the 2000 feet journey, I passed 3 Starbucks. I even left the hotel via a coffee shop.

The waterfront is just the right amount of run down. I'd say it's roughly on a par with the Palace Pier in Brighton. There are touristy seafood restaurants, an aquarium and an arcade with an F-Zero cabinet!!

I used to wander into the arcades in Brighton just searching for one of these. I'd given up all hope of ever finding it. Not being superstitious, I don't see this as a very good omen.

Monday 19 November 2007

Going... going...

It's all going on here today.

The car was picked up around midday so we had to get a cab to the Paediatrician's for Owain's one-month check-up. For your information, he is 10 lbs 8 oz after a good poop.

Most recently, someone came round to look at the stuff that needs shipping. Remember the nursery... it looks like this!

We're still in Tempe for a few hours longer. The flight to Washington is in the late evening. It's already delayed by 45 minutes. If it gets any later, we won't be able to pick up our rental car.

Did I miss anything? Oh yes, I've thrown all my flip-flops in the trash and lent my spare pair of gloves to Heather. She still claims she won't mind having weather again but reserves the right to complain at any point in the future.

Our hotel in Seattle has free wi-fi but I can't promise when I'll report in next, or where. It'll be from some happenin' coffee house full of shrinks and so-called gunge rockers, no doubt.

Friday 16 November 2007

Swing While You're Whining

'The boy' is still doing his thing. He's finally taken to the swinging seat thing. This is a massive relief as previously, the most reliable way to pacify him involved putting an upside-down finger in his mouth which often involves a lot of contortion and discomfort. Another effective method reserved for when he's screaming extra loud is to walk him around the block in his pram. Most of the time he's an angel but that doesn't help when he is causing your ears actual pain. And yes, he's been taken on car journeys solely to shut him up.

The move to Washington is finally picking up speed. Our first task - once we get there - is to find somewhere to live. We're probably going to rent a flat while we settle in. Heather hasn't been to Seattle since she was nine and I've only visited two restaurants and a Wendy's in the entire metropolitan area so neither of us have a favourite street singled out yet.

In the mean time, Heather and I have tickets to fly up on Monday. All of our household possessions will arrive by the end of the month and the car is being trucked up for early December with Owain in the back seat.

Monday 12 November 2007

More Pics From Grandma

Owain's paternal grandma, Lyn is flying back home tomorrow. The trip to Prescott went very well and she has met all of Heather's immediate relatives and many of her Arizonan friends, as has Owain. The timing couldn't have been better as we won't be living here much longer but things inevitably seemed rushed.

Regarding my new job, it's with Surreal Software in Seattle. We'll be moving in a week or two but have no detailed plans as of yet. As ever, stay tuned.

I finally sat down and helped publish the photos we've taken. Introducing Lyn's first web album including photos from her trip to the Grand Canyon State.

Thursday 8 November 2007

Assorted Pics

Things are going well here with Grandma. Unfortunately, with her high-tech digicam in use, it doesn't seem worth taking photos with mine. As a result, she has all the pictures of her visit. I will steal them from her at some point before she goes back.

In the meantime, I've uploaded all the older photos I've taken so far. There's a gallery of Owain's first few days at home and more recent pictures including Owain's first social engagements.

Tomorrow, we visit Prescott so who knows when I'll be able to update again.

Monday 5 November 2007

Grandma McFarlane

My Mum arrived this evening after a 10½ flight from London Heathrow. She met (and identified) Owain and dropped by our home to see Mac and the dogs. Then we went to Aunt Chilada's so Mum could sample some Mexican food.

I'm not sure what's happening tomorrow. We'll probably practice the famous American past-time of 'hanging out'.

Here is a movie from last month. It's rather boring but if you want to know how Owain hiccups, it's pretty informative.

Saturday 3 November 2007

Eat at Joe's

Just a quick line to mention that I have finally accepted a job offer! The company is a game developer in Washington. (That's Washington State, not Washington D.C.) More details in a few days.

Here is the McFarlane family's low-key celebration at Joe's Crab Shack:

Owain has been a proper little fiend all day and won't settle down without a huge amount of attention. We're already late going to visit Jamie and Gwyn's this evening. I looked after baby while Heather got dolled up and then she took him back. Now he's having a screaming fit. Maybe he doesn't recognise her and thinks he's being abducted!

Seriously, if there are any baby abductors in the local area, our address is...

Friday 2 November 2007

Sorry. No baby photos today!

I've been jet-setting around the states this week and far too busy to hang out with babies - let alone my regular social circle of anthropologists and pretend dogs.

Before I moved to Americaland, I didn't know there was a difference between Washington DC and Washington State. Now I've visited both in the one week! Cities that I've only seen the airports of now include Salt Lake City and Minneapolis. Both look stunning from the air at one time of day or other. Can't say much more about them.

While in the air or waiting for flights, taxis or sleep, I've occupied myself with two main activities. Firstly, I've been making my way through yet another Zelda adventure on the DS. The Phantom Hourglass is the ideal game to while away the hours when you're packed into a fuselage full of other people's relatives.

My other portable distraction is programming on the laptop. I've been learning the basics of SVG which is basically a high-level web-friendly graphics format. I say web-friendly... as with most up-to-the-minute Internet technology, it hasn't found its way into Internet Explorer yet. Just about any other browser will run my project, Rocket, with some degree of success. (It can be run from Explorer with help but I need to look into that.)

I've only really been doing this project to further my knowledge of web scripting and out of sheer bloody-mindedness. I didn't expect it to further my career directly as the games industry is about lean, mean pixel-pushing. So imagine my surprise when, on the flight to Seattle, the guy in the row behind me asked if I was available to do part-time SVG work! Makes me glad I chose to give Zelda a rest!

Anyway, one way or another, my job hunting should not go on for very much longer. On Monday, my Mum arrives for a week-long visit to see her first grandchild. While she's here, we will probably pay a visit to Prescott and do a bit of shopping in the Valley. She has been burdened with the unenviable task of maintaining the website for the apartment in France so maybe we'll spend the week discussing the finer points of HTML and FTP and leave Heather to look after Owain. Does that sound likely?