28 July to 03 August: A busy week! Buying a house, first days at Alstom Grid, dinner with Don Bartrip, 10 pin bowling

On Sunday, 28 July, I went back to Mission Bell United Methodist Church for the first time since I arrived.  I went up and sat right beside the pastor in the front row this time – although unlike in March, there was lots of room.  Paul recognized me right away, and of course we chatted.  Actually, many of the people recognized me, that was nice.

I zeroed in on the idea of buying the house on E Utopia Rd.  We put in an offer, just under asking.  Just before we submitted it, the asking was reduced to exactly our offer!  The seller agreed, but wanted an extra week – closing on 06 September instead of 30 August – I agreed, and then the real odyssey began!

It turns out that there are different options for mortgages, as there are in Canada.  you can do the “standard” mortgage with 20% down, or you can do two types of high ratio mortgages, with downpayments in the 3-1/2% to 5% range.  The one I chose was FHA type, with FHA having the same role here as CMHC has in Canada.  There was some confusion about whether I would qualify, since I’m not an American citizen – but apparently, I qualified because my work visa is 3 years in duration.  Wow.

Then they wanted 30 days evidence of pay from current employer.   Oops, won’t have that until 30 August.  OK, OK.

Then they wanted credit check in the USA – surprise, surprise, nothing.  So then to Canada – oops a lot of debt – but credit score that was very strong.  So, good then.

Then IRS tax returns going back 3 years – evidence of earnings.  Damn.  And it goes on and on, with more requirements every day, or so it seemed.

They needed a 1% earnest deposit with the offer.  Ouch!  I had to shuffle money around to ensure that there was enough in the RBC USA account, but I managed to do it.  This was before I had the cash from my RRSP – that wouldn’t arrive until next week.

Thursday was my first day at Alstom Grid!  On the way to work, a truck on the 101 loop kicked up a rock and put a big crack in my windshield, argh.  No time to worry about it, though.

They have my desk here, and a phone, but no computer.  The day was one of filling out forms, meeting people, generally being confused.  I had brought my own laptop, for access to important documents, so was able to at least do something.  I didn’t want to plug into the network, didn’t know if I’d cause a problem.  At least I have my phone to communicate with, while at work.

My boss, Jim Blake, won’t be back until Tuesday, he had to extend his holiday to deal with an important family matter out in California.  Nothing much is going to happen until then, oh well.  So much of the system is online, that some of the forms generate the circular quest – to answer that question, get onto the network and sign in, well to get onto the network you must have an access card, to get the access card you have to go to the help system and ask for it, ha ha.

In the meantime, there’s lots of documentation to review, and a lot to learn.  Best get to it!

On Thursday, Don Bartrip of Winmer, from Albuquerque, NM, was in town for business meetings.  He and I had a great dinner and a couple of beers at The Yard House.  He regaled me with tales of his travels – he is trying to get out and see the world – Alaska Cruise, Cruise through the Panama Canal, trip to the UK and ferry to Normandy at D-Day (had quite a chat with a Canadian veteran on the boat, wow), seeing the battlefields, chatting with the (still grateful) locals.  In turn, I shared my long meandering story from Winnipeg to Markham to Winnipeg to Phoenix, and we lifted glasses to toast our (hopefully) future positive experiences.

On Saturday, I was invited out for bowling – for the first time in my life, 10 pin bowling.  It took me a while to catch on, and by the time I did, my arm was getting very tired.  In spite of that, I got three strikes in a row in the last game.  Lest you think I became an ace, you should know that I blanked the next two frames.  Yup, hot and cold.  Something like the Blue Bombers.  Well, no – they are just cold, ha ha.

Of course, the next day I was very, very sore.  My neck, my back, and my arm.  My tennis elbow was demanding to know what the @#$%@# I thought I was doing, playing tennis or something????  And my wrist, argh!

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