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ah 2004, where did it go?

It seems like I just blinked and it was the beginning of march and I was getting that email from IBM asking about my availability for a phone interview. That started the great rollercoaster that brings me to where I am today. I covered the interviewing process in other entries. The process of finding an apartment and moving was a long and painful process that I'd planned to write a lengthy entry on and have a good rant about my experience with Dada Destinations. I never seemed to find the time to write that entry, and at this point I'm over it. I was very unhappy with Dada. They were pretty much useless. The best thing they did was push me off on someone else. At the time this was inconvenient as they screwed up my house hunting trip by forcing me to search on different days (AFTER I had bought my plane tickets and travelled to Toronto). However, I could not have been happier with the service I got from Gordon Chan and Oksana Krupa at Prudential Elite Realty TW. Gordon and Oksana were only helping us to find an apartment (and thus getting a very small commission of a half months rent), but they dedicated so much time to this that I can't recommend them strongly enough. They rock.

Once we'd found a place to live, the rest was a bit of a whirlwind. The move itself went GREAT. There were three companies that did quotes for our move (including packing up our apartment, transporting it from MN to Toronto, and unpacking it all at the new location), and it was awarded to Taylor Moving and Storage. When we were getting the quotes we were told things like "7-21 days" at worst and "8-10 days" at best for travel time between MN and TO, but when I talked to Taylor they said they were sending a truck down to pack us up and bring everything up themselves, so the travel time would be 2 days. The guys had it a bit rough with the long carry between our apartment and the truck when they loaded up, but I guess that Karma was on their side because they were able to back right up to the patio door at our new place and go straight from the truck to our living room. That was July 2nd.

A few days later I reported for my first day of orientation. The first week was general orientation at the main office, then a partial day at the software lab. Thats when the real fun started. I joined the Backup and Recovery team and jumped into code almost right away. Since then it's been a bit of a blur. Lots of interesting things to learn, and fun projects to work on. My team is small (4 full time staff, currently one student) and easy to get along with. I'm enjoying it a lot.

Aside from work, life has been great. It's good to be back in Canada, and we're happy to be back close to friends and family. I've seen a bunch of concerts (The Cure in august, Matthew Good and Social Distortion in October, Skinny Puppy and The Pixies in November), a couple of basketball games (Toronto Raptors vs. Minnesota Timberwolves in December, Toronto Raptors vs. Sacramento Kings in January), and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performing the Lord of the Rings Symphony. We love our apartment in Richmond Hill and are very happy here. We've had lots of guests dropping in, including syx and heather at the end of july, Jenn's friend Julie from Calgary a few times, my aunt Pam and her partner Nat a couple of times, and Jenn's family a bunch of times. We hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the first time which was great, and quietly celebrated our first anniversary after everyone left town. I celebrated my 30th birthday labour day weekend and had a bunch of people over for a BBQ and some beer. The theme of the evening was to celebrate all the great beer being brewed in the area, and we had a fine assortment to choose from as everyone brought their favorites.

I've also started brewing beer again. Back during my undergrad I was brewing beer with my friends Jason Cross and Jason Wintermute. In September we setup shop at my friend Rob LeGood's place in Waterloo and officially became the Biergotter Homebrew Club. We brewed 4 batches in September and another 6 in November. Unfortunately, it seems like the water in Waterloo isn't useable for brewing. Every batch we've made has had a distinct "metallic" or "chemically" smell and taste. We're working to find out if there's anything we can do to resolve this, and the fine folks at the Region of Waterloo Water Services have even volunteered to check out samples of 4 recent batches of beer and a tap water sample to see if they can identify anything there. We figured at best we'd be getting a copy of a recent water analysis for the region, so we're quite happy with how much help they've offered. We're pretty confident that the issue is the water, as there was no other common element between all 10 batches. There have been many different styles, different strains of yeast, different specialty grains, and even things like our pale malt have come from different suppliers in different cities. We've done brewing in different cities in the past and never had any problem like this. We're planning on trying a test batch using bottled water, so hopefully we'll get this sorted out soon.

Well, I think that wraps up the major events of 2004. Stay tuned for more updates in 2005.

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