Saturday, January 24, 2009

My first earthquake

This will be a short post, but I thought it would be interesting to share my first experience with an earthquake. Curry and I were in bed still, it was probably anywhere between 6 and 7 am, and while I can't say for sure if the quake woke me up, I was laying there and definitely noticed the bed was shaking. I was still pretty hazy, and wasn't exactly sure if I was imagining things for the first few seconds, but being that the tremors lasted for about a minute, I figured I wasn't hallucinating.

I asked Roger if he noticed anything, and while he said he didn't, we may have only been able to feel it because Curry's bedroom is in the basement. The quake was only a 2 to 3, and from what I could find out, was about 100 miles away.

Here's a link to what I found out about it.

Anyways, it was pretty cool.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Few have cut their strings and risked it all to chase their dreams

I got the title of this post from a song called 'Ants' by Forgive Durden, in case anyone was curious.

So, Curry and I had a date night tonight - we had to get out of the apartment and do something just for fun for a change, since all we have been doing for the past month is either sitting around, packing and unpacking, or running errands. After starting the night off at Wal-mart to pick up a few things, we went to get a couple of sammiches at a deli chain called Schlotsky's; it was a pretty good place. Our original plan was to go see a movie, but now we had a lot of time to kill, so we went to the mall and wondered around for a while before we stumbled across a place called Color Me Mine. It's a paint your own pottery place, and being that it was their 2nd birthday, you got a free mug to paint when you painted another piece. So, after getting scolded for touching the unpainted pieces before washing my hands (apparently oils from the skin get absorbed really easily and paints and glazes don't stick as well) we got to work. It took about 1.5 to 2 hours to finish 2 pieces each, and it was fun to do. We get to pick up our finished works of art in about 10 days (more pictures of the night are in my web album - this mall also has an ice skating in it).

After we finished there, we walked up to the theater and after some debate, purchased 2 tickets to go see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - really good movie. The movie has great actors in it, and in general is just a great fantastical story. It really is one of those movies that makes you think about your life and where you've been, what you've done, and where you may end up.

I think many of us always dream about going on great journey's in our lifetime, but when it comes down to the decision to get up and go, it takes a lot to leave. But once you get over the hump of whatever may be holding you back and say 'Yes, I'm going to do this,' and you end up where ever you end up, its nice to be able to look back and realize that it wasn't so bad after all. And for me, since I've realized that 'wow, I actually did this,' I kind of want to taste more. I'm very curious of where else I may end up in my lifetime, now knowing that anywhere is possible with little more than a decision to do so.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Money money money MONAY

Yessiree - I am now employed. Probably the biggest need-to-do on the need-to-do list is now taken care of. Today's interview, in my opinion, was shaky, but apparently not so much. They asked me to demonstrate some programming, which I hardly ever do, and luckily they were okay with me taking 5 minutes to google the code I needed. I'm assuming they were just happy to see that I knew how to find what I needed to find to fix a problem if I had no idea otherwiese. I pretty much aced any systems questions they asked me (even though I had to google one or two of them again...heh), however, I almost forgot what a pci slot was called, which is just silly because my computer is full of them. Thank God for the last minute brain jump!

What a change from UPMC, too:

month passes
week or 2 pass
2nd interview
month passes

Design P-T:
Called the next day
Interviewed the following monday
called the same day for a second interview
2nd interview on tuesday
called that night to be offered the job.

Every company should work so efficiently. When you need a job, how horrible is it that it can take months. A couple weeks I can understand if there are many people to interview, but c'mon UPMC, with all that money and clout, get yer act together. And what is equally as horrible (emotionally) is the same thing that happens when you are being dumped by an ex-lover; waiting around not knowing what the outcome will be...

Now that I am done ranting, I am just happy and incredibly impressed that it all happened so fast. I'm also super excited for my brother who got his first, of what we hope to be many, law school acceptance letters.

So, I think it is fair to say that it has been a great week so far for the Mohr's. The only thing I'm a little bummed about is missing the live presentation of Obama's Inaugural speech (no TV yet), but I'm sure I can find that online within a day or two, so no biggie.

I shall sleep easier tonight.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Yay! The interview went great. It went so well in fact, that I was called an hour after I left to be brought back tomorrow for the second (although more frightening) interview. Today I met with the head of marketing and the company's manager of operations. It was the typical barrage of questions about my strengths, weaknesses, blah, blah, blah, but surprisingly they did have some normal, relevant things to ask. Oh, it just occurred to me that I haven't shared the name of the company. The place is called Design-PT, and they do IT work and standardization of networks for small places of business, namely non-profit and health care facilities.

Tomorrow's interview is the scary one, not because I'm meeting with the owner and president of the place, but because it is the technical interview, and you never know what kind of crazy questions could be asked. Although I feel pretty confident about my skills, I haven't had experience in 100% of the systems they use, but really, has anyone? |:-) I don't like to think so. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed, and hopefully you will be too, that when asked something rediculous, I will be able to weasel my way to an answer satisfying enough to land me this position. It's a small company (40 + employees) which I love, and I'd love to work for this place.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Seward's Polar Bear Jump

Thing from Fantastic 4
We're in Seward again for the weekend, and it's been great having a real bed to sleep in. The air mattress in our apartment just isn't cutting it, and I cannot wait until our stuff arrives.

We haven't been up to too much the past couple days; we have applied to jobs, ate good food, and relaxed. A fun little event going on this weekend, however, was the 24th annual Polar Bear Jump which is a fundraiser for cancer research. As you can see, those who get sponsored and raise the money dress up for the big plunge, and the whole thing is kicked off by a small parade that goes through the town. Besides the Jump, this has been a pretty chill weekend again. I did get a call Friday for an interview, so I'm pretty excited. I just submitted my resume Thursday night and got the call Friday morning. Hopefully all goes well.
A truck of vikings

Here's the link to the photo album:
Polar bear jump 01-09


...our car arrived! We were able to get it Thursday, and I got my first taste of driving in Alaska. Let me draw you a picture. In normal cooler conditions, there's a half inch of ice on the roads that are grooved and graveled to improve traction. I don't believe they salt often up here, as the melted ice would just refreeze and create an icy hell. To my surprise, vehicles get pretty good traction on the roads because of the ice being textured and also due to these bad boys (it is also not too tough to walk on either):

Studded tired are the secret ingredient. Since it was so cold last week (20 below) and so warm this week (around 40 - an 80 degree difference!) ice was melting and everything was rather slushy and lake-like. As anyone who has driven a fair amount in winter weather, slush can be worse than ice, but I held my own driving around. I'm just thankful that we finally have the car and can get around town on our own. We're 90 % put together now; once our furniture arrives and we have somewhere to actually sit in our apt, life will be much better

Friday, January 16, 2009

Quantum Entanglement

I've been reading a book over the past week that is titled The God Effect by Brian Clegg. And let me just say right here and now, "WOW!" My mind had been stretched to the limits of comprehension with this one. The author does a fairly decent job in bringing quantum physics to the layman, but I still have to read some of the paragraphs (or pages) 3, 4, or 5 times to wrap my head around ideas such as local reality, Einstein's theories of relativity and special relativity, quantum encryption, etc.

Just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, I'll chat a little about the concept of local reality (taking an example from the book). Let's say we have a can sitting on a fence post, and we want to knock that can onto the ground. As most of us know the universe and how it works, the can has to be struck. To accomplish this, we can pick up a rock, and by throwing it at the can, transfer our energy into the rock, sending it hurling towards the can, and when the rock strikes the can, it will be knocked down. A directly manipulates B to directly effect C. Local Reality.

Now, here's the good stuff. Two particles that are entangled (as when a photon of light is split into two by some means) can directly effect each other no matter the distance in between. The easiest way I can explain this also comes from the book. If we want to measure the spin state (up or down) of these particles, the mere act of observing collapses the entanglement. However, since the particles are said to be occupying both states of up AND down until observed, when we do finally look at them, the probability of being in a state of up or down is 50 / 50. So, we have 2 particles (A and B) both occupying spin states of up and down simultaneously. We measure the spin of particle A, and discover that at the time of measurement, it's spin is down, and instantly particle B would have a spin state of up, no matter the distance in between. Crazy, right?!

Even though my examples are a little shaky, this is a great book. It goes into detail of time travel, super fast computers, and teleportation technologies (as well as fun things about how your reflection you see in a mirror isn't the original reflection of light) all based off of quantum entanglement. I recommend it because it will learn you some things that you never would even know that you didn't know. Also, the author explains these concepts much better than I.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Time to relax

We came to Seward today. Wamer, but windy. Very Windy. Windy enough to offset the fact that it's much warmer. *fist raised in the air in protest* Oh well, it's familiar here from when I came to Alaska on vacation about a year and a half ago. Curry's dad owns a cozy home in a cozy town with probably the best view in Alaska, and I like it here regardless of the windy conditions.

We're actually a day late getting in because Curry had a last minute interview this morning which is turning out to be very promising. I haven't had any call backs myself as far as jobs go, but some more positions did open up with the state so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed. If I don't hear anything soon, Jenne (Curry's Dad's girlfriend) can probably get me a job as a Probation Officer. Being a P.O. is probably the last thing I've ever seen myself doing, but the pay is actually pretty good. Also, it would probably have a benefit added in that it would help me become more assertive and less of a pushover in less than amicable social situations. :-)

Anyways, it is nice to finally have a couple of days to relax. I feel that the packing and repacking from place to place is never going to end, but we'll finally be pretty well settled into our apartment next week which will be just about perfect as long as our car arrives someday this year.... I have to add that all this moving around is exhausting. Yesterday, when trying to organize some of the chaos in our place, I hit the wall. I got so tired that I could hardly think. I finished up whatever it was we were doing and I just collapsed in our hole-ridden air mattress. The air cushioned rest was short lived however, due to escaping air and having to ride back to our temporary home where we ate, drank some wine, and passed out.

This will be a great weekend; nothing to do and nowhere to go =D

Pictures are up!

Now that we're in Seward, I finally have a stable internet connection, so I've finally been able to upload all of the photos that I've been taking. Apparently Picasa only gives you 1 GB of online space just like memeo which I'm a little bummed about, but I'm such a googler that I'll happily be staying with my Google tools.

Or Click Here to see the album

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My First Few Days

Second post tonight. Putting the first two together would have just made it ungodly long.

The past few days here have been so busy. Shopping, errands, running to and fro, sleeping on a futon, etc. etc. has been pretty tiring. I finally got in a decent nap today, and I have coffee brewing now, so hopefully i will be able to stay up later, so I can sleep in later to finally be fully adjusted to the new time zone.

Due to my life being indefatigable since we've started the process of packing back home, and it's continued up here, "bulleting" my thoughts seems the easiest way to keep it all straight.

  • Our flights were amazing. Being able to fly first class for most of the trip was top notch. It is totally worth the extra expense, hands-down. From the bigger seats to the better free food to the free wine, liquor, etc., it really is just better. Just don't be like me and while standing up smack your glass of wine off the little table only to splatter it on the airplane wall, yourself, and your girlfriend...
  • We lost 20 dollars in the vegas airport casinos.
  • Walking out of the Anchorage airport was like walking into a winter wonderland with what I call high-def x-mas lights strewn throughout the snow/frost laden trees.
  • The house we're staying in and housesitting for is cozy and great. And living with an ex-chef/baker makes it all the better. We were also greeted by three dogs upon arrival: Rascal (aka firefox), Newbuck (aka bear), and missy (curry's family's dog) They're great animals, although they're all a little off. Newbuck is the dog version of eeyore, rascal refuses to go outside, and missy is pretty highstrung.
  • The mountains look amazing during the sunsets when fog is laying across them.
  • There are A LOT of accidents. Most probably from newbies driving too fast. Daily we drive past cars in a snow bank, overturned, and/or in your run-of-the-mill fender benders. The main roads are mostly clear, but the ice that is left over is ingrained with gravel and has been grated to have texture so that you can get traction.
  • To get a drivers license, you have to take the written driving exam. I failed the first time due to not knowing some stupid laws about insurance and DUI penalties. psh...
  • Our car still isn't here (most likely due to the high winds in the gulf). Curry's dad has been nice enough to shuttle us around everywhere. One morning though, we broke down in the middle of a highway (alternator went) but some good Samaritans stopped, towed us, and helped us fix the problem. Thanks again guys!
  • Our apartment is perfect. We have an awesome view and we're in the rental office building, which means nicer units and better neighbors. Plus, the sauna, whirlpool, gym, and tanning bed are all in our building. Score.
  • Pics coming soon on picasa; I was going to use an awesome service called memeo, but you only get 1 GB free :-\
  • Curry has had two interviews so far, both of which went pretty well.
  • This weekend, we go to Curry's hometown of Seward to gather more supplies and to cook up some food since we'll be starting to stay in our apartment next week most likely.
And that has been my life over the past few days.


HELLO to all of my family and friends that are going to be reading this.

(The picture to the left was taken around 9 a.m. from the porch of the house we're staying in)

I've successfully survived my first couple of days here in the chilly north, and I gotta say, it ain't half-bad. Sure, we've had consistent temperatures below -10, but being that it is what's expected, it's really not half-bad (famous last words). Dressing warm and bundling up is just how it goes here, so being dressed correctly really keeps the blood from freezing (unlike in Pittsburgh where you can half dress warmly because there's always a chance it may warm up during the day). Also, it has been nice to hear that stretches of days this cold is pretty rare in Anchorage.

One more note on the cold. It's different than in Pittsburgh. It could be that I've never felt temperatures of -15 or colder without the help of a wind chill paired with the fact that the air is really dry - it definitely is an interesting sensation. I think I've been lucky though that it hasn't been blustery because that probably would have made me cry. A lot.

Here's another interesting tidbit that I wasn't expecting. Yes, we get daylight everyday, but the sun doesn't start to rise until about 8:30. I kind of like it though; for whatever reason it's really peaceful and relaxing to wake up around 7 or so (still fighting jet lag) and having it be as dark as when you went to bed, and about an hour later getting to watch the sunrise every morning. It's beautiful here.

Here's some final thoughts for this post:
If you don't plug your car in, it won't work.