Monday, May 10, 2004

Ack ... major non-blogging time since January. I would have thought being unemployed would leave me with lots of time to blog but ... no ... it doesn't. Job hunting is keeping me busy as is my new relationship that is almost one years old now (May 17 I'll have known Charlotte for a year).

Charlotte and I went on a backpack trip a couple weekends ago. We drove to the Henry Coe Hunting Hollow entrance on Wednesday morning and hiked 6.3 miles and 1500+ feet up to Kelly Lake. We set up camp there and did day hikes or hanging out for the next 3 days.

On day one we had a challenging hike to Pacheco Falls. It was a steep up followed by a long gradual down to the Falls. Then we had to retrace our steps to return. We climbed 2000 feet and hiked 9 miles. We got to see a nice garter snake on the way up the hill near the Falls. On the way we searched for two geocaches and found neither one of them. That was annoying. The falls did not have much water in them but were still beautiful to look at. The place where you could view the falls was riddled with poison oak so we didn't get to sit and eat lunch while admiring the view. I took a couple of nice pictures. Charlotte did a sketch but not of the falls.

On day two we just stayed at the lake all day. We did attempt to walk around the lake but found the route had too much poison oak on it so instead we found a nice shady spot in the trees with a view of the lake. I read allowed to Charlotte while she did a sketch. One fellow showed up on Friday so we no longer had the lake to ourselves. He was real quiet and unobtrusive though so it still felt like we were sorta alone. We got in a skinny dip!

On day three, Saturday, we went off on a day hike on an unmaintained trail. We failed to stay by the creek and lost the little indication of trail that was there. We ended up having to bushwack up hill through very thick dense bushes. We were both a little worried but after looking at the maps we realized if we just kept at it we would eventually find one of the three trails that surrounded the area we were in. We finally did break out of the bushes on to a delightful grassy hillside. We had lunch and revelled in the lack of bushes. After lunch we hiked up the grassy hills and found one of the trails and got back on course. Both of us had many wonderful scratches to show off our adventure on our arms and legs. We also tempted the poison oak goddess many times. After the hike we tecnu'ed ourselves and went swimming in the lake. That felt good. In the end Charlotte got a bit of poison oak and I managed to avoid it altogether. I'm not quite sure how I did that!! That night we gave each other massages while listening to the big group of 10 people camped on the other side of a hill from us. We missed our privacy of the previous nights.

We saw and heard lots of animals. Here is the list I made: garter snake, wild turkey, horned toad, mystery red bug, toad, mouse, turtle, coots, ruddy ducks, bats, swallows, red wing blackbirds, fish, bumble bees, ants, locust with orange wings, deer, hawk, turkey vulture, lizard, squirrel, frog, quail, dove, owl, malards, malard ducklings, orange red dragon fly, and a gopher. The gopher let us use his home for our kitchen ;-) It was cute to see his little head poke out of a hole nearby as we cooked dinner.

On this trip Charlotte and I got to know our camping routine together better. We figured out how we like to cook dinners (who does what and how we do it), ways to be more comfortable in the tent, etc. I got upset about some stuff and it all came out the day we were hiking out. I can say now that one unique way to get up a steep hill with a backpack on is to cry about stuff and discuss it with your girlfriend and use that to distract you from the discomfort of the uphill! The hill seemed to be over very quickly because we were so busy discussing things and working things out. Phew. We did a decent job of communicating and I felt better on the long downhill slog to the cars. It was a good trip. We look forward to doing more backpacking trips together.

I'm at a low point right now in my job search. That's because I got another rejection today. Those always hit me hard and it takes me a while to get my confidence back. This time I didn't get another interview because I didn't answer the "C" programming question with enough depth. Sigh. At least I did have a phone interview. I had a couple of real interviews in April but did not get the jobs. At least it was good to know that I could at least get job interviews. I need to keep plugging away. I have joined a group called
ProMatch. Its a nice networking, informational, and support group for finding a job. I highly recommend it to others searching for a job.

Oh ... pictures from backpacking will soon be up at my Webshots site. Look for the obvious folder which I will label something like Henry Coe Backpack May 2004. Feel free to check out other albums too.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

OK .. so what has happened to me since Oct 15. I was indeed laid off at the end of October. My last day at work was October 31st. I have been searching for a job ever since.

I did most of my searching via web sites and some networking in November and December. With the coming of the new year I have been buckling down and really working on the job search. I went to an ASME meeting called "Building a Whole Career." At this presentation I heard about ProMatch and decided to look into what it was. I went to a ProMatch foundation workshop meeting the first Friday of January at a place called the Connect Center in Sunnyvale. It is a great resource center for job searching. They do workshops on resume writing, interviewing, networking, and career exploration. Last Friday I went to the ProMatch orientation meeting and filled out lots of forms and got on the ProMatch waiting list. The group is very popular and very effective in helping folks to find work. They estimated that it will be 5 weeks before we are contacted and asked if we want to join the group. While I wait, I'll be taking the free workshops at Connect center. I'll keep going until I have done all of them or found a job

I have been doing pretty well with networking. I sent an email to everyone I could think of in October telling them I was job searching. I also went to 3 holiday parties and mentioned to folks at these parties that I was looking for a job. I also networked at a FrontRunner's coffee after the Saturday morning run. I'm trying to get more involved with SWE again. I volunteered to be the SCV web master. I have been watching the meetings to try and attend them and also the monthly lunch get togethers. I'm slowly getting better at networking and understanding how to use it to my advantage in a job search.

CCC and I have had lots more time together since I was laid off. The honeymoon is over and we are both working hard at improving our communication and getting used to each other's foibles. This has taken up much of the time I am not job searching. I have little time left for blogging. CCC and I have gone on many wonderful hikes this fall and winter: Santa Teresa county park, Briones regional park, Diablo foothill regional park, Uvas Canyon, Point Lobos, Nisene Marks, Fall Creek, Skyline Open Space Preserve, Castle Rock, and Henry Coe are the ones that come to mind.

CCC and I went to Philadelphia for Christmas to my sister's house. My parents were there too. CCC got to meet half my family. Now the only person she hasn't met is my younger brother, David. I have met all of her siblings and her parents. We had a nice visit to her parent's in Carmel about a week ago. We hiked at Pt. Lobos and had a wonderful Thai dinner afterwards.

CCC is quite the movie buff so I have seen lots of movies on the big screen and on DVD or VCR. We have found the video section at the Mtn. View library and have taken out many movies to watch. Its free of charge although there is a steep late fee. We watched the Shipping News and Two Week's Notice recently. I liked the Shipping News. The scenery of Nova Scotia was marvelous and I liked the story. Two Week's Notice was funny and a good movie to cheer us up after watching Tuesdays with Morie earlier in the day.