I officially entered Canada on 19 November, 2009. So now, then, is a recap of my life in the last 364 days.
Urg, what a year!
Maybe I'm too hard on myself. Every time I look back, and see that I'm not much richer than last year, I get a bit sad. On the other hand, I do have a lot to show for the year.
When I returned to Canada, I had sold most of my cameras and related gear, just to have enough gas money to get here. In fact, if my Dad hadn't handed me a hundred bucks as I walked out the door (I was too embarrassed to ask) I would have ran out of gas before I got here! So Thanks Dad!
I got to my Mom's Farm, in Alberta, just before it got REALLY COLD. I had moved from California, where life was pretty good. Well, even if life wasn't so great, I had very little fear of frost bite!
I wasn't here long before I found out the job market in Alberta wasn't as hot as it used to be. Oil, that ready source of cash, that draws workers from all over Canada, had slowed down. A lot. So all the former oil workers were now doing all the other "entry level" jobs. And hey, no one starts a job here in the winter anyway.
So I sent in applications, and resumes, by the hundreds. Every day or two, I'd hit the job boards and send them in. I wasn't even all that picky. I have such a wide range of experience, I thought something had to stick, so I cast a wide net. Security. Photography. Building Maintenance. Computer Tech. Labor. Painting. And in the mean time I got pretty good at petting the dogs and building the fire. And shoveling snow.
Out of all those resumes and applications, I only got 2 hits. Telus, for their call center, doing tech support for the internet division, I actually did a pre-hire test... and a security company interviewed me. In fact, I was on the second interview for Telus when I finally got the call back from the security company.
A few days later, in March, I was in Ontario, after flying from Alberta, on the company dime. For the next 3 months, I worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week. In fact, I only had 3 days off in those 3 months! As that job was winding down, I thought a break would be nice, so I bought a motorhome. Used one, kind of worn out looking, but figured it would probably get me back to Alberta.
Then I got a call, while still on the Ontario job, that they were going to send me back to Alberta, for another job, that started in a few days. The guy on the phone was giving me flight times and numbers and stuff, and finally I had to interrupt him and say, DUDE, wait a minute, I bought a motorhome, I need to drive it back to Alberta. Well, this really put a monkey wrench in his plans, and it gave me a bit of a mind cramp too. Instead of having some time to actually fix up the motorhome, and get it inspected and stuff, I had about enough time to put gas in it, and drive it about 1800 miles. And I had to be in Edmonton by Thursday. I left Sudbury, Ontario, on Monday. I'd been so busy, I only drove the motorhome around the block. Once. Yeah.
Wednesday evening, after driving Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 16 hour days, I finally got some info from the office peeps, that I didn't actually have to check in until Sunday night, and be ready for work Monday. Wish I'd known that a few days sooner! But it did give me time to go home, do laundry, and pass out for a day. And the motorhome hasn't been moved since!
The Edmonton job lasted 2 more months, again, 12 hour days, 7 days a week. No days off. Bonus time though, the wages in Alberta were higher than Ontario, so I got a $5 per hour raise, which gets really interesting Tuesday afternoon, when we'd slide into the overtime zone. So I worked a couple months, and bought a Porsche. I might have mentioned it a few times?
Course, it was used, abused, and partly disassembled, but hey, think of it as the ultimate puzzle. Almost all the parts were in the car, it was just a matter of looking at them, and thinking, Dang, what is this for? Then I'd walk around the car a few times, give up, grab another part, and try again.
I say mostly all there, I had to order sun visors. Find a replacement motor for the power window. Make window seals. And Mud Flaps. Well, the car never had mud flaps, but they're kind of important here on the Farm. Gravel Roads are not kind to cars, especially freshly painted Porsches. Sad, really. Also, the car had apparently sat a lot, while the previous owner took it apart and hid the bolts and screws. So the engine had some oil leaks, and some electrical gremlins. Since I had to have insurance, and it was an older car, there had to be an inspection. And at the time I was working, and had money, so I found a place that specialized in Porsche stuff. I paid them about what I paid for the car in the first place, to get it to stop leaking oil and pass the inspection.
Noteworthy items from that experience. A key for a Porsche costs about $150, from Germany. Its made from the VIN number. And then you hope the previous owner didn't change the locks. Mirrors, just the glass part, would cost about $300. They are heated. I did get the key. On the mirrors, I walked out in the pasture of the farm, and ripped the mirror glass out of an old car there. Black silicone works great for gluing mirror glass, and its heat resistant. So far so good!
The car had been painted. Very nice job really. They also reupholstered the interior. They just didn't bother to put any of it back together! Seats were in. Seat belts weren't even hooked up when I bought the car. After the job ended, and I got the car back from the shop, I still had about 2 months work, almost every day, putting it all back together.
So, here it is, November. I decided I could declare the car "finished' back on the 2nd of November. Then last week I put in a better battery, because the other battery just wasn't handling the cold weather starts. The original sized battery, which is a lot longer than a regular battery, was dead when I got the car. Well, it lasted 3 or 4 days. So I borrowed the battery out of the motorhome! Had to have something to test with right? Since I think it really loses street cred when everyone is watching you walk to your shiny Porsche, and expecting it to go VROOOOM when you start it, except the battery is dead... so I had to go get a good battery. Bit of research, and I find that Interstate makes a good battery. The Mega Tron Plus 93, for about $195 (including tax) comes with 850 Cold Cranking Amps. That's about double of what the battery from the motorhome was rated at.
Dude, let me tell you, there are some things that are not to be skimped on. The power supply in your computer. Tires. And batteries. You know when you spend too much money on something, and you just hope you're not disappointed? The day I went to Edmonton to get the battery, it was about zero degrees Celsius. The car started, but it was a bit weak. The next day, it was minus 10C, and the new battery started the car easier than the day before. The next day it was minus 15C. No worries. Sweet.
So, I've been out of work for about 3 months now I guess. At first I thought the security guys were going to call me back, but it just never happened. The first month or two was nice, sleep in, work on the car. Then things kind of got bad, about the time the money runs out right?
I was talking to my Mom, and we kept thinking gee, now what right? I have actively resisted being a computer tech. Its one of those jobs that I was good at, but I already did it. I was burned out on it. I kind of wanted a new thing to do. But its been over 10 years, so... I started looking at going to work as a tech. Or starting a business.
There are always reasons not to do something. Some are really good reasons, some are just excuses. I've usually been self employed. When I shot weddings, I owned my own business. I worked from my apartment. People would come to me, or I'd meet them in a coffee shop. We'd email. They'd PayPal me. Life was good.
Here, on the Farm, we're about 5 miles from the nearest town. And the sign says there are 500 people that live there. Not a big customer pool to draw from! Best I could think of was doing computer tech work, at the customers home. And driving all over the country.
Then a few days later, Mom brings in the local news flyer, with an ad for a store front, on main street, next to the post office. And its got a price. Its cheap. I call the lady. Play phone tag. Finally get to talk to her. Talk to Mom some more. I'd now spent all my cash putting the Porsche together, so had to get her to help me out on the start up costs. We go look at the place. Its not very big, but it was clean, well lit, and on MAIN STREET. Next to the Post Office. Can you say HUB of the little Universe here?
So, Today (ok, yesterday now, since its 1am as I am writing this), 364 days after coming back to Canada, I signed the lease and got the keys. I'm back in the Computer business. Again. In classic fashion for me, last week I started making the sign for a business I didn't even know I had yet. I'll be putting that sign up this weekend.
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