A New Start!
It’s hard to believe that I’ve not written anything here since 2017. That’s a long break. But now I’m back, with lots of new ideas and projects and stuff!
Anyway, what’s happened in the last couple of years? Quite a lot. Here are the highlights:
Houses sold: 1
Jobs quit: 2
Passports surrendered: 1
I left MemCachier in May of last year. Not because of any bad feelings with the people there (they were great!), but because I felt like I was no longer learning things that I wanted to be learning. There was also an opportunity to work with a startup doing some things in the vegan business space. That was pretty appealing, so I signed up for six months of sweat investment as their technical lead. It didn’t work out in the end, just because of different working approaches between the CEO and me. No hard feelings, and I hope they’re successful, but it turned out not to be something for me.
I then had a few months of “sabbatical” while I thought about what I wanted to do. That was pretty cool, and was a very nice period of decompression. (Rita commented that I was the most chilled I’ve been for a long time.)
Over the summer and early autumn, I negotiated a part-time position with a local company that does embedded systems for health monitoring (more or less). I’m now working for them two days a week, and it’s kind of fun. I’ve been working on some mesh radio networking, learning lots and feeling like I might be doing something useful.
Starting on embedded work led me to realise that I just don’t know enough electronics to do this stuff, so I decided to put some time into learning that properly. That’s only been going a month or so, but I have project ideas coming out of my ears and I’m enjoying it a lot. Maybe that will lead to more work in the future: I have some ideas for commercial products, mostly related to Rita’s occupational therapy work, so we’ll see how that goes. (I’m also trying to spend a couple of days per week working on an OT-related mobile app, using Flutter. That’s also pretty interesting, and feels like it’s something I’ll be able to use in other applications too.)
So that’s work. I’m feeling pretty good about it. Having a part-time job that pays well enough to live off is an amazing luxury, and I now have a lot of freedom to pursue other ideas, of which there are many!
We sold the fucking thing. I spent almost every weekend of the first six months of 2018 doing renovation work. That made me grumpy. I did feel some sense of accomplishment (I put up a ceiling! on my own! I did electrics! I made some walls! etc.), but it wasn’t in proportion to the investment of time.
So we put the place on the market, and the estate agent that we used did an absolutely fantastic job. We did end up losing a lot of money (we sold the place for €1000 more than we paid for it, but in the meantime we’d invested €50-60k in the place), but that was sort of expected. And it was worth it, just to have the weight off our minds.
We moved to a flat in Villach, and it’s really nice. We’re close to Dobratsch, Villach’s Hausberg, there are lots of woods and hills nearby for walking and running, and living in town is so convenient after living in the boonies! Rita has a practice 5 minutes drive away, Winnie has a garden to run around in, and it’s generally pretty sweet.
We’re thinking of some other options right now, perhaps trying to find a place where Rita can have a practice at home, or maybe two neighbouring flats, one to live in, one for a practice. We’ll see what we can find.
Anyway, Villach is a pretty awesome place. It’s situated at the confluence of two rivers, with mountains all around, but not so close that you feel crowded. We can see snow-topped mountains from bed! It’s also a good town for tech stuff. There’s a huge semiconductor fab here (getting huger as I write: they’re doing massive building works there to add a whole new fab) and there are a lot of smaller companies in the health and technology sectors.
On January 3rd, I officially became a citizen of Austria! That means that I’m more or less immune from any Brexit-related nonsense and can continue to live and work here in Austria (or anywhere else in the EU, for that matter).
The process ended up being surprisingly painless. It involved collecting a bunch of pieces of paper, getting lots of things translated, doing a couple of tests (one German test and one about the history and government of Austria), then waiting a bit, then paying some money. The only really amusing part of it was going to the Stadtpolizeikommando to get fingerprints done to apply for a Canadian police certificate (complicated). Getting the fingerprints done was a couple of minutes in the forensics lab there, but paying for the procedure and getting the necessary stamps (“der Stempel” is very important in Austria!) involved wandering forlornly around this big police station for a couple of hours looking for someone who knew what the hell was going on. Voluntarily coming in to get fingerprinted is apparently unusual enough that I am now known to the police in Villach: Rita treated a police officer and she knew about my visit!
So, for me, the long and anxious chapter of Brexit-related uncertainty came to a satisfying conclusion on a cold foggy day in Klagenfurt when I swore my oath to be a nice Austrian citizen. I wasn’t expecting to feel anything switching allegiance from the UK to Austria, but I did feel a pleasant wave of relief that it was done.