Costa Rican Interviews, Day 1

A tropical depression in the north of the country has created our weather woes of the last few days, and a heck of a downpour this morning.
Following our usual breakfast run, Joaquin arrived to pick the three of us up at 8:30 to take us downtown to the CIS / Rapp Collins office to interview candidates for our new office. We had a lot of people on the list, and we all knew it was going to be a long day.
Continue reading “Costa Rican Interviews, Day 1”

Finding a Costa Rican Casa, Day 3

Yesterday, I was pretty convinced that I was hooped — there was no way that I was going home to Canada with a place all squared away. The task just seemed close to impossible.
It’s amazing what 24 hours can do, though. After a conversation with Alex last night, the decision was that perhaps this Avalon Country Club would be worth it, after all. But there were still questions that needed answering before we could go in whole hog.
That’s what today was for.
Continue reading “Finding a Costa Rican Casa, Day 3”

Finding a Costa Rican Casa, Day 2

I knew today was going to be awkward when I woke up. Based on the conversation I’d had with Alex last night, none of the houses we’d seen on Day 1 were at all suitable. Either way too large, in not-so-nice areas (e.g. you’d feel like you couldn’t go anywhere), or had stairs (which we’re trying to avoid with our almost-walking infant).
When Luz Elena and Lina Maria arrived this morning, I took their carefully crafted plan, opened the window, and tossed it out. (Figuratively speaking, of course.)
It was time to get a little more serious.
Continue reading “Finding a Costa Rican Casa, Day 2”

Funny things in emails

I got into a fairly typical email exchange with Paul, one of our Release Engineers. Since I’m no longer on Rolex, I wanted to be taken off the email lists. This was how it went down:

Hey Paul,
Now that Torin’s running the Tech show, can you pull me from the Rolex Monitoring alias, please?

Continue reading “Funny things in emails”

Finding a Costa Rican Casa, Day 1

It’s been a really long day. Didn’t sleep great last night (long travels tend to do that to me if I’m not traversing a dozen or so timezones, in which case passing out is a snap). Got up early thanks to the engine retarders on passing trucks (there is no bylaw against them here, and truckers seem to use them to slow down, say “hello”, accelerate, turn right or left, order coffee, etc.) and a bit of excitement.
Did a couple of Spanish lessons on Rosetta Stone before and after breakfast, when we met with our Crown Relocations team. One for each of Mark and Jason, but I scored a mother/daughter team (Luz Elena and Lina Maria) to help me find a house for my family.
Continue reading “Finding a Costa Rican Casa, Day 1”

Back in Costa Rica

Years ago, I used to think business travel was glamourous. You got to go to far-flung places, see different things, and engage in activities you just don’t do at home. Then I started going on business trips. I learned fast that the enjoyment is only so deep.
Worst experience was [[Live from Cincinnati|Cincinnati in 2000]]. Second, and only because I was utterly exhausted by the end (the trip itself was very helpful) was [[Je suis en Paris!|Paris in 2006]]. (As I learned, when you travel to Europe, you end up with 18-20 hour days, because you’re trying to stay sync’d with the home office.)
But today hasn’t exactly been a slice, either. And just because I’m currently in Costa Rica doesn’t mean I’m sitting on a beach.
Continue reading “Back in Costa Rica”

There's nothing quite like a good ego boost

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been approached by a number of organisations looking for “talent”. (I use the term loosely, mostly because I don’t really see myself as “talented”. I like to keep that word for the artistically-minded. I prefer “skilled”, since it’s something I’ve learned, and something anyone else following in my steps can learn. But I digress.)
It doesn’t really matter how they found me, only that they approached me. Hey, I’m talking my ego here — believe me, it needs all the help it can get. Working at an agency with extremely skilled and talented people on demanding accounts will often leave you wondering: Am I really any good at my job?
Then opportunity knocks. It’s really quite validating.
Continue reading “There's nothing quite like a good ego boost”

ScribbleLive: Live Blogging Done Right!

Late last month, I had the chance to go to the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. On behalf of my co-workers, I blogged notes from the event to make sure that they had the benefit of getting the information in as much detail as could be effectively provided. (Of course, Scott Schiller out-did me on the day he was there, and recorded the audio on his MiniDisc system. But I digress.)
My major issue was the blogging. It’s tough to write down the notes, and ensure that they all get posted properly. WordPress lost connection at one point and I lost my notes. I was peeved, to say the least. Ideally, it would be blog each point as it came up. But that looks dumb in WordPress. And I knew of no other tool that did it well.
Until now…
Continue reading “ScribbleLive: Live Blogging Done Right!”

It's the end of the world as we know it…

…and I feel, well, okay. Maybe not necessarily “fine”.
Critical Mass has done a bit of a reorganisation. I emphasise “a bit”. Mostly because this is not the radical shifts we’ve seen in the past. I think this is my third or fourth reorganisation since starting with Critical Mass back in 2000 (admittedly, I’m losing track), and this is the most minor change we’ve had.
At least when you look at the big picture.
Continue reading “It's the end of the world as we know it…”

No, I'm not going to be working on a beach

It’s funny the number of people who now ask me if they can come with us to Costa Rica. They congratulate me and make it sound like it’s going to be fun, sand, and cervesa all the time.
News flash, folks — we ain’t working on a beach. We’re not even close. This is where our office is/will be. Note the extreme lack of nearby sand and water.
It’s the Metro Free Trade Zone Business Park, a mere 5 minutes from the airport. The nearest (decent) beach is 5 hours away over very bad roads (and drivers that would scare the pants of 99% of North American drivers). Yes, we’re closer than Calgary.
But not that close.

I'm leaving Critical Mass

I’ve been at Critical Mass for 8 years, 1 month, and 5 days. That’s a long time to be a one place. I never thought I’d be here that long. Two years, max, and I’d move on. (Heck, I was originally supposed to go with Chris to teach English in Japan. A part of me still regrets not having done that.) But my time has come. It’s time to leave.
Well, kind of leave, anyway.
Continue reading “I'm leaving Critical Mass”

Things to do before moving

Moving within a city is a snap. It’s a lot of work, yes, but logistically it’s not a big deal. You disconnect some services, sign them up at a new location, move your phone numbers, arrange your mail, and then move your crap from one place to another.
Even within a country it’s not too bad. Similar logistics, but the distances are longer and you usually have to give up the phone numbers you had.
Moving between countries? Even harder. Never done that one before, and I’m about to find out how bad it can be.
Continue reading “Things to do before moving”

What have you done with Spock's brain?

One of the hard parts about leaving any group is passing your legacy off to someone else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a short-term thing (e.g. vacation) or a long-term thing (e.g. leaving the company). It still has to happen — unless you’re a total jerk and want to leave people hanging, that is. It’s just how you carry it out.
I’m on my second round of brain transfer in two months. The first time was when I was getting ready to go on vacation. I had to pass off my daily tasks to someone else so they’d get done. But you can’t easily toss one person’s work onto just one other person. Especially when you know there’s a lot to be done. A month ago, I used four people.
This time, it’s just one. My replacement.
Continue reading “What have you done with Spock's brain?”

Thundercats are go!

The contract is signed. It’s as official as it gets until my feet stand on Costa Rican soil. Most everything was already 99% assured, but until my name appeared on a legal document, there were still a whack of questions. This puts those questions to bed.
It wasn’t easy signing that contract. Not because it wasn’t a good offer, though. It’s because it’s not about me. Even though it was.
Let me explain…
Continue reading “Thundercats are go!”

Letting the toucan out of the coffee sack

Finally, after many, many weeks of discussion (and far more email than I’d care to think about), it’s semi-official. (Hey, it’s better than “still in the works”.) The fact that I’m moving to Costa Rica has not changed since [[Do you know the way to San Jose?|the last time I wrote about this]]. It’s just been a matter of with whom I could discuss the matter.
A few people have known beyond the Executive: Allard, Mark, Marcie, Jason (who’s going down as well), and Tamara (she’s an old friend, and I told her the night before her wedding), but I couldn’t really tell anyone else. Especially the person Allard and I tagged to replace me. (I doubt I’ll be able to publicly post this until after the client has been informed that I’m no longer working on the account.) I have to sign my new contract first.
Boy, isn’t life fun?
Continue reading “Letting the toucan out of the coffee sack”