Thursday, March 17, 2016

Let it snow!

I know what you are thinking: is this two posts in one week here on TCO?! A lot of really new and cool things happening up here, so I hope to sharing a bit more than I have been.

All this week I've been getting up with my wife and driving her to work, that way I have the SUV at my disposal during the day. There is nothing worse than being stuck at home without a car when I could be driving around and getting to know Laramie.

Well this morning, as I was waking up, Renee informs me that it snowed overnight. Now the first thing that pops to my mind is that we got a small dusting from the flurries we've had the last couple of days. These flurries last like 30 minutes (at most) and the snow melts as soon as it hits the ground. So you can imagine my amazement when I looked out the window and saw that we really did get snow, about 2-3 inches to my estimate.

That meant breaking out the gloves, beanie, sweatshirt and jacket, and the rest of my "cold" weather gear. It also meant driving in the snow, something that I haven't really done much of until now.

For this southern California native, it is quite an interesting experience to drive in the snow. The key is to really pay attention to the road conditions and keep your speed down. To really get the experience, on my way back to our condo, I took some of the side streets, the streets that don't get immediate attention from the snowplows. I have to say that it isn't quite as scary as I expected.

Life in Laramie is going to be an adventure and I'm enjoying the journey so far!


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Getting settled in

Just an update from Wyoming!

Renee and I arrived Sunday evening safe and sound after a long week of moving and packing stuff out of the house from California. Instead of a moving van, we elected to use a new service from U-Haul, called the "UBox". The concept is they drop off this large "box" at your location, you pack it, they pick it up, they ship it to an U-Haul location near your destination (or your home) for you to unpack. It was a tiny bit smaller than the 10' van, but not having to drive a moving van a 1,000 miles, across the entire southern section of Wyoming, made the UBox a better deal.

After we got the UBox packed and picked up, we then finished moving the stuff that was either going with us in our small SUV or going to storage (like my VWs, bikes, etc.). You never really realize how much stuff you can accumulate until you move. I went through a lot of my stuff, and gave it away to people who could use it or throwing it away if it wasn't of any use.

We left Saturday morning and made Cedar City Utah our stop for the night. After checking into our hotel, we grabbed dinner at a pizzeria that a friend highly recommended: Centro Pizzeria. This friend has pretty good taste when it comes to food, so we gave it a shot.

Our verdict for Centro? DELICIOUS! We had their "Rustic Bread" appetizer, and shared a "Gorgonzola Salad" and a "Arugula Pizza". All of it was fresh and a delight to these two weary travelers. We made the decision that the next time we passed through Cedar City we are going to try their other offerings!

Anyways, we are now safe in Laramie. Renee had to return to work yesterday (our 1st wedding anniversary) and I'm trying to stave off the effects of altitude sickness (I always seem to have a rough time adjusting to the altitude in Laramie, 7200ft!!).

This Saturday our UBox arrives, so hopefully Mother Nature cooperates and we will be able to get it. We have to pick it up in Fort Collins, Colorado, which is about an hour drive south of here. Looking forward to having my desk in the second bedroom (which will become our office) and the rest of our stuff so that we can get really settled in.

-- Tom

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The end of an era

For almost 20 years now, I've called Yucaipa schools my workplace. It all started with a close friend telling me about a job posting at one of the elementary schools in Yucaipa in the fall of 1996. After seven years working to get Ridgeview Elementary to be an elementary school with tech at the forefront, I transferred to Yucaipa High. YHS presented a new family of great co-workers and of course a bunch of new challenges.

So today, as I pulled out of the YHS parking lot, I thought about how I was leaving not as an employee of the school, but as former staff member. I thought of the great people I've worked with over the years. The great students who I've gotten to know and in some cases become friends with. I thought about the friendships I've made with my co-workers.

I could go on all day about the great people I've met through my time with the Yucaipa and Calimesa schools. These professionals only want the best for the students and it was my privilege to be one of them.

So to you staff, students, and families of the cities of Yucaipa and Calimesa, I bid you a fond adieu. Thank you for the memories, the opportunities, and the experience. You always be in my heart and on my mind. ‪#‎goTBirds

Sunday, February 14, 2016

I got the job!!

It seems that the good news keeps rolling into the Slider house! Two weeks ago, on a whim, I checked out the job vacancies with the school district that covers Laramie and the rest of the county: Albany County School District. Much to my surprise, there was a technology position open: Computer Technician I (or II). I checked out the posting and I felt that I was well suited for this job. I had the education, years of experience in a school/district, and the skills. So I completed the application and submitted it a few days later.

Fast forward to a week ago Friday. I get a phone call from ACSD to schedule an interview, even before the job closed. The interview was this last week and I was really pleased with how it went. My responses to their questions all seemed to be spot-on and the mood was very relaxed and friendly. I was expecting another interview this coming week.

So this last Friday I get an unexpected phone call from the ACSD Director of Technology and Communication and he offers me the job!! Due to my experience in Yucaipa, I'm going to start as a Computer Technician II! We discussed some details about when I could, and it looks like I will be starting about the middle of March. That means that our move timeline is going to be accelerated!

My last day at YHS will be March 1st. My wife is coming down a few days before that date so we can start packing. 2016, like 2015, is going to be quite a year for the Sliders!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

It's official: I'm leaving California

Last year my wife landed her dream job as a museum curator and we moved her to Laramie Wyoming last summer. So everyone has been asking "What are you going to do?". Well, this afternoon I took that next official step: I submitted my letter of resignation to the school district and to my principal.

I've been with YCJUSD for almost 20 years now, and along the way I've worked with some great people, got to know some really great kids and parents. I seized opportunities to learn about classroom management, technology, photography, and even had the opportunity to indulge myself in something I've wanted to do since high school: coach water polo and swimming. Now it is time for the baton to be passed to someone else.

Come May 1, I will be embarking on a new endeavour, something I call Operation Laramie. I'll be sharing my plans in the future, so stay tuned. A lot of changes ahead in 2016 and I'm excited!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter break in Wyoming!

For this winter break, my step-daughter Ash and I traveled the 1,000+ miles to spend it with my wife Renee and my step-son Erik in Laramie, Wyoming. Our journey started with a 6:00AM flight from Ontario to Denver. After getting our luggage and heading to the curb to wait for my wife to pick us up, we discovered how cold it was at over 5,200 feet in altitude. As soon as the door from the airport terminal to outside opened, we were greeted with a blast of VERY COLD air. We should have expected it, as we flew into Denver, we saw the fresh snow on the ground. Unfortunately for me, my gloves, beanie, and scarf were buried in my luggage.

My wife encountered some patches of interstate 25 with snow still on it, so her travel time was a bit longer than usual. As she pulled up to the pick-up terminal, the line of cars was backed up. Eventually we were greeted with the familiar sight of my wife's car and her smiling face behind the wheel. A quick hug and a kiss was all my step-daughter got in before we hurriedly packed our luggage into the car so that we could get into that warm car. We definitely appreciated that working heater!

Our time up here in Laramie has been very enjoyable. Of course just being able to spend it with my wife is the best, but we have had a great time meeting people and seeing a few sights. The three of us saw the latest +Star Wars  movie, The Force Awakens. So what did I think of the movie? We'll leave that topic for a later post, but be assured I loved it and so did Renee and Ash!

Last night Renee and I walked in the cold a few blocks to a O'Dwyers Public House, a local restaurant to meet a couple of Renee's friends from when she went to the +University of Wyoming for her Master's degree. According to +AccuWeather, the outside temperature was 28F, so we bundled up for a brisk walk, but I have to share that the cold wasn't as bad as I feared. We safely arrived to the restaurant and had a great dinner with Renee's friends.

In fact, the cold in here in Laramie isn't as bad as I feared. The snow really isn't a big deal, as the main roads are generally plowed to give you access to where you are going. The really bad part of this weather is something that seems to be worse for getting around: ice. For the last couple of days, the daily forecast has gotten a little warmer each day, so the snow is slowly melting in the day, but then freezing at night to form that dreaded shiny ice.  Ice that can make driving a car or just walking outside a very dangerous feat if not treated with respect.

Today is a quiet day for me. Renee is at work and I'm staying inside as we had a brief snow flurry storm earlier. I'm just enjoying the day relaxing and staying warm!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Got my Nexus 6!

Ever since +Google  announced many years ago that it was purchasing +Android and developing the mobile operating system, I've been an Android fan. Every year or two I've gotten a new smartphone with the Android operating system, but the line I've always wanted was something from Google's +Nexus  family of Android mobile devices. Back in 2013 I bought a +Nexus 7 7" tablet and I discovered how much better the Android operating system is without all of the extra "stuff" that the manufacturers put on their mobile devices.

So since then, I've wanted to have a Nexus smartphone to complement my Nexus 7, but +Verizon Wireless  has the best coverage in my area, and the Nexus 4 and later Nexus 5 phones weren't available to Verizon customers. If you wanted one of the Nexus phones, you had to be a +T-Mobile customer, so I had a few  +Motorola Mobility Droid (a Droid 2 and a Droid X2) and most recently a +Samsung Mobile USA  Galaxy S4. They were all nice devices, but I wanted a more "pure" Android device.

For instance, my Galaxy S4 had its own Photo app that was independent to the Google Photos service. That meant that if I wanted to access my mobile photographs from my computer, I had to manually upload it. My new Nexus 6 changes all of that. Every photo taken from my phone's camera is automatically uploaded to my +Google Photos account. I can now access those photos from my computer and use for things like sharing here.

Of course this is but one example of why I am so excited to finally have a Nexus smartphone. I will definitely be sharing later what my long term thoughts are on this phone!