Sunday, January 31, 2010

Things, Things, and More Things.

Dear Utah,

Maybe it's ironic that after saying my goodbyes and saying adieu to somewhere I thought I would never see (okay, maybe not never, just a long time) again, that just one and a half short weeks after we moved here, I was sitting on a plane contemplating what it would be like to go back.
On December 31, 2009, my sweet Nana passed away just 6 days after my wife and I set sail to a new world called Fargo. On the 6th of January I was on a plane headed back home to pay homage to a woman who begat my father who begat me. On January 9th, the day that would have been Nana's 81st birthday celebration was instead a celebration of her family legacy. The services were simple and sweet and paid tribute to a very strong woman.
Being in Utah again was nice. I had the opportunity to spend more time with my parents and brothers and sisters. Time that was robbed from me because of our prompt departure. We spent the majority of our time playing games (a Parker Brother past time), socializing and reminiscing.
My flight back home (to Fargo) seemed a bit surreal. I was going to a place that was my home, but that I barely knew. Immediately following arriving home, I began searching for job opportunities. There were lots of decisions to be made concerning school and work. There are still many undecided questions. My sweet wife was just as diligent in applying for positions for me as I was for myself. In fact, I think she applying for more jobs for me then I did for myself. Actually, I know that's true because on the 20th of January, I got called by Erin Eboine, the recruiter for White Drug Pharmaceuticals. She was interested in the application that I turned in and said she would like to interview me and was impressed with my cover letter. I played it cool and told her the things she wanted to hear and made an appointment to have another phone interview. The moment she said goodbye, I made a phone call to my wife and asked her if she knew who White Drug was. She gave me a long yes and said, why? I then proceeded to tell her that they called. She was very excited for me - and told me she'd have to share what she wrote on the cover letter with me before the interview!
One more phone interview, a couple of e-mails, a physical interview, a couple more e-mails, a discussion with my wife, and some follow-up calls, I was hired! Unfortunately, the particular location I had applied and been hired for is not finished. So, in lieu of training me immediately, they decided to train my future boss (who was also new to the company) a week before I started. They gave me a start date of February 9th. A day or two after they called me again and asked me if I wanted to start work on the 1st of February instead, but that I wouldn't be doing pharmacy-related work, but warehouse stocking of drugs for a week. I said that would be fantastic, who cares what you are doing when you get paid! 40 hours a week, 8am-4:30pm, 30-minute break, and $something-something per hour, and we are all ready to go.
Two or three days after initial contact from White Drug, Amanda, while driving the Passat, found that there was a significant power loss that led to the complete shut down of the car. She called me from a nearby jewelery store several miles away and I immediately came and picked her up, gave the car the once-over and decided there was nothing we could do that evening. There is still nothing we can do! Apparently the timing belt was on its last leg. And, unfortunately, the Passat has an interference engine, which in lamen's terms means at least $600-$1200 extra dollars to repair on top of the already $900 to replace the timing belt. To make me feel like all hope was completely gone, the VW dealership (a.k.a the stealership) told me that they don't even typically repair the engine after a break, but that they do a COMPLETE engine replacement; ranging from $4000-$6000. Vehicle worth: $2850. Still owed: $1350. Cost of repair: $1500-$6000. Preemptive replacement of timing belt: priceless... not quite priceless, but more like $700. Odds of winning the lottery: at least they have one in North Dakota; odds of getting struck by lightening: three times more likely.
The past three days has been a battle to determine the best course of action regarding the car. A battle of pricing versus scammerships versus time versus quality head hurts. Determination: share one vehicle with wife and see how it goes. Top three cars: 2008 Ford Edge, 2010 Mazda 3 5-door Sport, and surprisingly, the 2010 Ford Focus. Anyone know someone who sells cars but isn't a scammer? Please let me know. Please. I am willing fly out and drive the car back home.
I will report on the job and car situation later.
On a bright note, my wife and I have engaged in the South Beach diet. We've had many delicious meals including Fillet Mignon with Tomato Topping, Artichoke Chicken, Coconut Chicken, and Roasted Eggplant Stuffed with Beef. Many delicious things to fill the sadness. By the way, it's still negative degrees in Fargo. Gotta love it.


Mr. Gee

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Preconceived Notions

So I must start by apologizing for taking forever to update my blog. Hopefully I can still cover all the fun details that happened several days ago. Starting back at when we left for Fargo, it's been 1 week since we left for this place. Driving 20 hours by myself proved to not be as bad as I imagined. I didn't have to be courteous to anyone but me and that is surprisingly invigorating. I made a pretty sweet set up in the car. On the passenger side I put some boxes on the seat then set my laptop on them so it would be about eye level, I used my Palm Pre (oh yeah, we got new phones a couple of days before we left, I got the Palm Pre from Sprint and Amanda got the new HTC Hero; I'm lovin' it so far!) for a car stereo and navigation. When I didn't have any signal (which was about half the way, I plugged the computer into the car adapter and listened/watched like three movies (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Bee Movie, Star Trek). Oh yeah, it was pretty awesome! The real key, however, is sunflower seeds. The amount of effort into eating those is intense and thus good for keeping you awake, I'm pretty sure I dissected two whole bags in 20 hours (that is about 6 servings or so). The drive was pretty uneventful... except the three times Amanda or I got stuck in the snow (one requiring a tow truck to get out, oops), the crazy icy mountain passages with black ice everywhere, the incessant fog in certain locations, and me driving an hour our of the way not paying attention to where I was going. Well we still made it and now we are here.... I like it.

Preconceived Notions...

1) Fargo is a little "Podunk" town in the middle of nowhere-ville-USA...
Correction: Fargo is in the middle of nowhere but it is actually surprisingly large and busy with lots of people!
2) FARGO?!?! Why in the heck are you moving to Fargo? (Okay more of a question then a statement)
Correction: Fargo is actually quite interesting and big, there are lots of things to do around here, and there is actually 3 or 4 of everything (not just 1 like priorly anticipated). 3 Walmarts baby!
3) Fargo is super flat and you can see for miles!
Correction: Fargo is NOT flat there are mountains all around... the highest might be 30 feet but that is freakin' high for a mountain of snow! There are piles and piles of mountain sized snow plus a barrier on every road about 4 feet to 6 feet tall (every road, no joke) Besides the snow it could be flat but I sure can't tell.
4) Fargo is 94% Caucasian.
Correction: There is no way that it is 94% white, there is every ethnic group possible! And a decent amount too! I have met and seen people from all over the world and there is quite a bit of them all over the city. I would probably say it is predominately white but there seems to be way less then 94% white people. Which I welcome greatly the diversity, I was just kind of shocked.
5) When it is cold you need to wear layers
Correction: You have to wear layers or else you will die! Outside and inside. You will freeze outside with the layers and you will boil inside with all the layers on. They keep it so hot in all the buildings you feel like you are going to die with all the heat they pump into those places. I get dressed like 10 times a day.
6) Amanda's new company is cool.
Correction: Amanda's new company is awesome! They are super nice (like most of the population) and they like to give us things and pay for stuff too! Example: we turn in our cost for moving, oh it is about $200 more then what they offered us for the move, oops they printed a check with the excess., Amanda first day of work (Dec. 31, half day) full pay plus $50 in gift cards to restaurants. Moving day for us... we find out we informed the wrong ward but they are still going to send the missionaries to help us move, 6 people from Amanda's job show up (including Mark, CEO of Allegiance) and work there brains out until we are all finished, we had to tell the missionaries we didn't need their help, we were done. Super nice. Mark shows us around the building for a minute turns to me and says is you ever want to come by and say hangout "mi casa es su casa!" and yes I believe him.

I can't say all my experiences have been peaches and cream but when it comes down to the people and the locations Fargo seems to be turning into a very nice place. Looking for apartments was pretty depressing, not that we couldn't find cool ones or places we wanted to be but having two dogs ended up being very stressful. But the best part was after all that stress we found a pretty cool place that I am excited about. Take a look at Amanda's blog I think she posted some pictures and talked more about it.

Last night was the coldest it has been since we have been here. I posted a screen shot of my palm pre at 2 am (I was still a little wired from my Diet Mountain Dew so I was having trouble sleeping) it said it was -30F degrees. The cold isn't too bad, it is what it is. It is cold so you wear a bunch of layers... and that is that. Our apartment is plenty warm even with some semi-wood partial flooring. The deck door is frozen shut, I tried opening it a couple of times, not going to happen without some defrosting. When I think of more things to talk about in a couple of days, I'll let you know how church goes, I am excited to start getting to know people.