SBC Incompetence

Aaargh! As the culmination of my fruitless efforts to get my SBC/Yahoo! DSL installed, I arrived home today to no dialtone. So far, I've wasted about four hours on the phone (5 calls) or with technicians in person (2 visits). I've been asked what operating system I run four different times (and it's never relevant, since there's no sync!).

They won't even fix the results of their incompetence with anything resembling haste. They're going to send a technician out tomorrow morning to 'fix' my line (the DSL people claim the DSL will work then too... mumble mumble brooklyn bridge)... if I'm incredibly lucky I'll have phone service back by the time I get home at work. I'm just hoping to get back to square one so I can ship their DSL crap back and get something else.

p.s. the front line people are perfectly nice and polite, but the system manages to screw you over regardless.

Leaving on a jet plane

Well, this is it. I'm packed, and my stuff is semi-organized to follow me in a week or so (including the motorcycle, knock on wood -- it's a long story).

I'll arrive in San Francisco almost exactly one week from my wedding time. I've been counting days with respect to those two life-changing events all week: today is W+6, G-1.

See some of you soon!

In 18 hours

In 18 hours, I will be a married man. (To clarify the state change involved, I am currently a man, but unmarried).

Bogdan and zestyping are here, supporting me and generally being great friends and helpers. This wouldn't be half as much fun without them. Thanks for letting me borrow them!

I am unlikely to write anything here about the experience (too busy!), but based on how much fun today's rehearsal was, I hope and expect that tomorrow will be one of the greatest days of my life.

Have a great weekend, everybody. :)

Ups and downs on the road to CA

Ups: I have my TN! (And there was much rejoicing)

Downs: I just found out I can't import my motorcycle. :( Even though I've had it for more than a year, since I haven't reached 7500 miles, it's considered new, and therefore forbidden. Aaargh! I wasn't really in the mood to switch bikes yet, and it's frustrating to have to take a big hit on selling/re-buying.

moving question #3 -- cellular phone service

I'm not a big cell-phone user here in Canada.  We have an analog pay-as-you-go in the car which I sometimes take on long motorcycle rides, and that's about it.  However, I think trying to set up a new CA lifestyle, especially being apart from M for 3 months or so, it would be nice to have a cell with some moderate plan. (Note: couldn't care less about phone cameras or other exotica -- just looking for communications)

Do you have any advice on technologies or providers?  T-Mobile GSM seems like the cheap option, and Verizon CDMA+analog seems like the best-coverage option... any opinions?  Is Verizon better enough to be worth the extra money?  I was thinking with mountainous motorcycle riding, the safety net of analog coverage might be nice, but then again there's the probability of 2008 analog phase-out.

I can't seem to find any plans which include Canadian long-distance, so I assume I'll have to use land-line for most contact with M and home anyway.

moving question #2 -- WHERE to live

Okay, this is the biggie.  As mentioned previously, I will be working for a non-evil corporation north of the 101 in Mountain View.  Friends at said corporation mostly seem to live in Mountain View, to make bicycling possible or just to avoid a long commute.  M and I enjoyed our visit to Mountain View for the interview, and it seems like a pretty nice place to live (at least the residential areas farther from the highways).

However, my rental consultant (who will be taking me for a tour during my first week) is trying to sell me on a 30-40 minute commute in order to get more value for our money.  I guess prices are lower in Sunnyvale or south San Jose?  I'm a little confused... prices for a decent 2bdrm apartment seem within reach when I look at Craig's List (I fortunately pre-sticker-shocked myself so that I wouldn't go bananas), but it's hard for me to tell how grungy they'd be in person without looking at them.

Basically, I'd rather avoid a freeway commute if there's any way to do it... but I don't want to have to take a big step down from our pretty nice 2bdrm apartment in Canada.  A garage for the motorcycle would be sweet too.  Something like 40 minutes by bicycle, 25 by motorcycle avoiding freeways, and 20 by car would be perfectly reasonable.

Any thoughts?  I know to avoid East Palo Alto, any other neighbourhood advice?

moving question #1 -- banking

Okay, so I'm going to have to get a US bank account when I get there, because Canadian bank accounts just don't work so well. :)

Any suggestions?  Anything to avoid?  I assume you just pick a big bank and get a chequing account.

Do I need to have my SSN first?  It's going to be pretty annoying living for the few weeks before I get that SSN...

moving questions intro

Thank you all for your kind support! Knowing that's there are lots of smart and friendly folks out there in the Bay Area helps me feel tremendously better about this big move.

I thought I'd ask a few questions here since I know there are lots of Canadian-Californians about. If you happen to know good web resources for this stuff, they'd be welcome too... it's surprisingly hard to find decent overview information in categories that are overwhelmed with marketing.

The details: I am flying into SFO on July 10th. I'll have a rental car and temporary housing in Santa Clara for two weeks, while I look for an apartment and a car. I start work at a certain non-evil corporation in Mountain View on July 12th.

I am super-excited, obviously, yet completely stressed out by the number of things which need to be planned and executed.

Did I mention that I'm getting married on July 3rd? It's amazing what an international move can do to make your wedding seem less scary by comparison...

coming to California

Well, it's finally decided. I am coming to Silicon Valley to "begin again, in a golden land of opportunity and adventure."

Details to follow, but it should be within a month (modulo immigration).

logic and theism

I had an interesting spiritual/intellectual day yesterday (Sunday). Somebody I met a while ago in an old job found me on Orkut, and I ran across some interesting links on their webpage.

In particular, one was to a particular variant of the Cosmological Argument for God. Which basically involved setting up some concept of causality, using some kind of Principle of Sufficient Reason (everything is either uncaused or other-caused, etc.), then reasoning backwards to deduce the presence of a prime cause, which is then argued to have various attributes of God.

After investigating that, I ended up running into various interesting version of the Ontological Argument (Anselms and Godel's, as described by Christopher Small). I appreciated the opportunity to learn modal logic (S4 and S5), which I hadn't really seen before. I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of mathematical logic the older I get.

I have major issues with these kinds of purported proofs (completely orthogonal to my personal beliefs on the existence or non-existence of deity or deities). They seem to be based on extending some supposedly common-sense concept (like cause-and-effect) into an absolute logical principle about the universe, with some arbitrarily chosen properties. When you look at the proofs, they are always heavy on axioms and light on deductions -- anytime I see 7 assumptions about the universe leading to only 3 theorems (two of which are trivial restatements of the axioms, and the third is "God necessarily exists"), I get awfully suspicious.

I need to go learn Kripke semantics to make sure my mental models correspond to the way other mathematicians are looking at these things. So far, I'm not impressed with sloppy modal logic -- either it's just an abbreviation for first-order logic with a set of 'possible universes', or it's being abused to produce spurious theorems.

Working hypothesis:
non-mathematical philosophers are to metaphysics
16th-century Popes are to astronomy