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Falling...

The first hints of the arrival of fall are noticeable this week. I have been in Albany in upstate NY and took the train back along the Hudson Valley. A few flashes of red were just about visible on some of the smaller trees. I haven't seen New England in the Fall yet, but I'll certainly take a look this year. New York city is slowly cooling after the baking summer season. It's still up to about 27/8 C during the day, but nights are much more bearable at arounf 18-20 C. A very pronounced cold front is currently working it's way in from the North West; Northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan all recorded air frosts last night with Minnesota recording -5C. My uncle always did say you'd freeze your backside off up there!

WhiteFox

WhiteFox

 

Been A While

It's been a while since I blogged. I now have an apartment in New York. Just out in Queens with a good subway link to Manhattan. Work is already taking me around the US. Spent a fair bit of time in Chicago which I love. I'm currently in California about 40 miles North of LA. One of the perks of this job is that I can go for a drive once I finish work in the afternoon. So far this week I've been to Santa Barbara, Malibu and Beverly Hills. It's interesting being in what is pretty close to being a desert climate. In Burbank on Monday the termperature was in the mid-thirties. Here in Camarillo closer to the coast it is a much more pleasant 25 or so. Humidity is very low. The sun is very strong though which you don't realise. Even with spf 30 I still got tanned! Anyway, back to Chicago next week followed by Minneapolis the week after. The first hint of Autumn approaching in the NOrthern states with 60oFs starting to appear on the Weather Channel. I can't wait for winter!

WhiteFox

WhiteFox

 

Eating The Big Apple

Having visited the US for the first time in February, the start of April found me back in New York on business. All part of a cunning plan by a Project Manager to persuade me to stay with the current company! I was doing some work in Connecticut, which everyone tells me is beautiful. The place I stayed, Waterbury, kind of ruined that image! Much of Connecticut is beautiful: golden trees, winding valleys, cascading rivers, but Waterbury is a run-down industrial town. One train every four hours chugs up the valley from Bridgeport and deposits its load of passengers on a single platform; more of a plank of wood raised on scaffolding than a station we're used to. Another problem is the taxis. Carrying my laptop and two pieces of luggage I instantly felt uncomfortable and took a ride with an unregistered taxi driver. He had to drop someone else off on the way, and we went through some parts of town which wouldn't look out of place in some of the most run-down parts of the US. I was glad to get to the hotel, and instantly fell asleep for twelve hours due to jet-lag. Anyway, the work went reasonably well and I spent a long weekend in New York. On the Friday, the Senior VP in the US called me and offered me a job out in the US. Basically travelling to customer sites around the US and doing consultancy work. The company will sponsor my work-permit application. This is too good an opporutnity to turn down. I get paid to travel around the US and live in New York. So, I'll be discussing details with the Global Director on Tuesday, and I could be out there within a couple of weeks. The nature of the job means that I wouldn't have to stay in New York. I'd definitely start off there, for a couple of years at least all going well, but I could potentially move elsewhere. I'm thinking perhaps New Hampshire or Maine. Lovely winters! Just been reading that New York averages 29 inches of snowfall a year. Don't want to make anyone jealous... I'll keep an eye on the UK weather and continue to read posts about 3 inches falling. :unsure:

WhiteFox

WhiteFox

 

Back In Blighty

So I'm back from New York and little seems to have changed here. People are still desperately hoping for some cold weather, the chances of which are obviously reducing with each passing day. I know it's supposed to get cold this week with the small possibility of snow for some, but after my experiences in New York I simply will not be able to get excited about an inch or two of snow any more! The week went thus: Saturday 11th Feb: First leg of trip was from Gatwick to Raleigh/Durham in North Carolina. Part of my cheap-skate flight which meant I had to change and fly back to JFK. Cloudy pretty much from Ireland until we hit the North East coast of Newfoundland whereupon we were greeted by a winter wilderness of the most overwhelming beauty; barren rocky outcrops speckled with large areas of snow, with the whole being framed by meandering frozen rivers like ribbons of ice. Further on down into Maine, a few more trees, but pretty much the same. Winters are damned cold there! The daft thing was that we passed New York on the way to Raleigh/Durham. By this time we were approaching the Low pressure which was later to cause such havoc, so we weren't able to see anything. On coming into the approach to RD, the cloud cover was very thick, and the temperature was just above freezing at about 3000 feet, so we were greeted by heavy rain. Time for a quick beer in the bar, and a call to my uncle to say the flight was on time. "Jesus", he said, "it's already snowing here! I hope you get here before it really sets in." The plane to JFH was an "American Eagle". Basically a bi-plane with a jet engine attached. I couldn't actually stand upright in the cabin. I'm not the best of fliers, but I'd drunk copious quantities of wine and so was well prepared for the trip. We took off, and when we'd finally cleared the clouds we were greeted by the most breathtaking sight: to the south and west, the last vestiges of daylight were clearly visible in an orange glow to the horizon. We were in pitch darkness apart from a glorious moon which lit up the tops of cloud in a beautifully woolly panorama. So far so good. The fun started when we started our descent to JFK. As we went into the clouds visibility reduced greatly until the tip of the wing was barely visible and the lights were reflecting off the snow; much like the effect of a strobe light flashing against thousands of tiny crystals. It was getting really bumpy and, being such a small plane, there were more audible noises than I'd like to hear. Eventually I pretty much sat back and thought "what the hell!". We finally broke through the bottom of the clouds and were greeted by a city with white grass and grey streets. The snow hadn't yet started settling on tarmac, so my worst fears about the landing were not realised. Having said that, a Turkish airlines jet did slide off the runway later in the evening! They were spraying planes ready to depart with de-icer, large chunks of snow avalanching to the floor. At this stage, the snow was described as "light showers", at least that's what the captain told us when we left RD. In Britain, some people would probably have called it a blizzard! Driving to my uncle's apartment in Queens the talk was of the coming storm. New York media makes just as much of such weather as our own back home. Snow was still not settling on the roads, but pavements were starting to get a dusting. At some time during the night I was briefly wakened by thunder. This was later confirmed by my Uncle and the TV news which mentioned thunder snow and falls of between 3-5 inches per hour. Looking outside on the Sunday morning was extremely deceptive. The snow looked like it was a couple of inches deep, but it was actually extremely difficult to walk in. The depth was probably about 18 inches by that stage and conditions were still pretty much a whiteout. Walking to the shop to buy some milk, a journey of about 300 yards took about ten minutes. It was amusing watching people trying to get their cars out. People often mention how we cannot cope with snow in this country; you should see a New York cabbie attempting to drive uphill in 18 inches of snow by repeatedly flooring the accelerator and leaving the most rancid smell of burning rubber imaginable. The upshot is that many people in New York were just as incapable of driving in the snow as we are in the UK, albeit the depths were much greater. The snow eventually petered out at around 4pm on the Sunday, giving a total of 24 hours solid snowfall. Depths levelled out at 25 inches in Queens, with other depths being widely broadcast. I spent the best part of the Sunday afternoon clearing the sidewalk in front of my uncle's apartment block which is a requirement in New York or you are fined $100! The following day the snowploughs had been at work all night, and as a result all the cars parked on the side of the streets were totally snowed in. It took us an hour to dig the van out of the garage (one of the few garages in the street!). Conditions were still extremely treacherous, but main streets were passable with care. Temperatures were barely above freezing on the Monday. Over the next few days temperature recovered fairly rapidly. Tuesday reached 4oC, Wednesday, 9oC and Thursday topped out around 14oC. It was actually possible to walk around Manhattan with no jacket; quite strange considering the piles of snow still lining the streets! Even Friday was quite mild, although a cold front brought "frigid" air in from Canada which sparked a rapid cooldown. Walking the same streets of Manhattan on Saturday I though my chin and nose were going to freeze off! Temperatures were around freezing, but the wind chill was like nothing I've experienced for a long time. Overnight on Saturday the temperature was down to about 8oF, which I can't be bothered to calculate in new money at the moment! So, you'll understand why I cannot get excited about the prospect of a few days with temperatures around 3-5oC!

WhiteFox

WhiteFox

 

How Long?

How do some people manage to keep a diary for each day of their lives? Surely only drama queens can commit something to paper daily (or hard disk these days) as nobody's life can be so interesting? Anyway, a crossroads approaches. At least, I'm approaching a crossroads. Many months of hard work in helping to release a new piece of software is coming to a head and I'm currently implementing in anger. Quite literally. Development ignored many of my requests and error logs, so the same issues which were around in September are now in the release version. This is a big time for the company. It's only relatively small and the entire future depends on this release. Given the general mismanagement of the program, I've started responding to some of the calls I get from agencies. This isn't so much because I'm completely fantastic and warrant dozens of calls (although there is an element of truth there <_< ), but because I submitted my CV to Jobsite.co.uk ages ago and lost the login details so I was unable to remove my CV... The result of all this is that I had a final interview for an Oracle position in Teesside on Friday. The interview seemed to go well and the agency gave some positive feedback. Just awaiting on a decision, and if favourable, package details. Also, I went for an interview in Norwich yesterday for another Oracle position. I don't have quite the same positive feelings towards how well that went; a few knowledge gaps I think. On the other hand, I like the company and people I currently work with. I suppose you can't always let these things get in the way of progress. Still Norwich is a long way away, and Teesside is even further! On the positive side, I guess there'd be more chance of snow! Finally, someone at work has decided to do some matchmaking and has given me the email address of her friend. I may just send that mail right now.... Seize the moment!

WhiteFox

WhiteFox

 

So...

What does one normally write in one of these things? Is a blog a diary, or is it a place for posting opinions? I'm undecided. My life isn't interesting enough to serialise; it's unlikely the Sunday Times will be offering me a five figure sum to hear about my trip to Hillingdon on Thursday. So what is an average day for Whitefox? Well, the alarm goes off at 7.30 (it's only a short drive to Hillingdon, should only take 45 minutes) and I wisely decide to press snooze. I haven't had breakfast for about a year now. That's not to say I haven't eaten for a year of course... I do occasionally have a Cadbury's cream egg for breakfast. It's quicker that a boiled egg and bread tastes much better when dipped into the creamy fondant centre. Just what is a "creamy fondant centre" anyway? Is fondant a derivative of fondue? I have images of some Swiss factory full of Lederhosen wearing moustachiod Swissmen pouring fondued sugar and E234 plus emulsifier into a chocolate eggs whilst yodelling to themselves and occasionally stopping to sip from the barrels hanging around their St Bernard's neck, not that I'm stereotyping of course. Talking of fondue, I had chocolate fondue in Moscow once. In typically Russian fashion, I was provided with pieces of fruit to dip into molten chocolate. After loosening my belt another notch, we finished the meal with some "cannabis vodka". Those crazy Russians! Mind you, when you get frostbite from opening your window you need something to warm your cockles. I digress. I figure an extra ten minutes in bed is priceless and rarely make it to breakfast. I'm someone who never, ever has a problem getting back to sleep. In fact, I have been known to set my alarm for an extra five minutes sleep in the morning. I don't understand people who say they can't get back to sleep once they're awake: "Once I'm awake that's it." "What is?" "I can't get back to sleep." "That's not normal." "6.30 is the best time of the day." "For sleeping, yes." Strange people! Talking of alarms, when I was at university, my alarm once went off for half an hour and I didn't wake up. I only finally awoke when the other students in my halls started hammering on the door to tell me that my alarm was going off. I suppose it wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't 4pm. Anyway, when the glue from my eyes finally clears I realise with a sense of disappointment that once again my alarm clock is telling the truth and it is actually time to get up. Somehow I hope that the sun had decided to rise about an hour earlier than usual to make me think I had to get up, only to realise I could actually stay in bed. There are in fact only two things better than realising you can stay in bed for another hour: sex and heavy snow. The next thought to cross my mind involves debating whether or not it is actually Saturday. Sadly this doesn't happen anywhere near often enough. Usually only once a week. Given that it's currently very cold outside, I don't mind it too much though. I'm weird and actually relish the thought of using my credit card to de-ice the car. Such weather has it's downsides though. Driving along the M4 towards London I'm taken in by just how beatiful the world looks on a very frosty morning with a clear blue sky and white everywhere. However, the M4 heading towards London in morning rush hour is not the place for such day-dreaming and I'm brought back to my senses by a foreign lorry driver who has decided that my car is not actually in the middle lane, so he can just pull out. Fortunately my years of experience have taught me to watch out for such things. That and writing off a car last year.... A Polish lorry driver "merged" into my car on the M25 last year in heavy traffic. He started pushing me across into the fast lane. I'm convinced he wouldn't have noticed me if I hadn't fired a rocket launcher at him. Actually, one part of that tale is not entirely true. Where was I? Oh yes, by this point just getting onto the M25. On one Friday afternoon I was chugging round very slowly. At one point I was stationary in the fast lane for a couple of minutes having a private Karaoke to Queen's Greatest Hits when I haapened to notice the most beautiful blonde woman in the car behind. I was so taken by her that I was shockled to find that the cars in front had vanished into the distance. Talking of which, a friend of mine told me he was in the car with his dad one time when they joiend the end of a stationary queue on the motorway. He looked in the rear-view mirror and spotted a car which seemed to be going too fast. As a precaution he pulled over onto the hard shoulder, and the car went past him, straight into the back of the car in front... Not bad! Anyway, I eventually got to work, went home, drank some Beaujolais Nouveau and went to bed. Exciting huh?

WhiteFox

WhiteFox

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