The New and Improved Five Year Plan

A month ago I posted an entry about our Five Year Plan which ended up more like a Six Month Outline. Over the past couple of weeks some events have occurred that have solidified some of the unknowns and have allowed us to make some more concrete plans.

The big news: I’m happy to announce that Benjamin was accepted at Johnson and Wales University into their Hospitality program just as he was hoping for. We received the letter in the mail mid last week. This tidbit alone was enough to start the ball rolling for the updated plan since we know we’ll be in Denver for at least 4 years.

Benjamin’s last day at Compass Bank will be April 30th. We’ll be moving to Denver May 18-24th. We’ll fly back for the Garcia family vacation the first part of July. I’ll fly back to Denver post-vacation but Benjamin will stay in Texas helping his cousin Annie with her wedding plans until the wedding day at the end of July. I’ll fly back for the wedding and we’ll both fly back to Denver together. Benjamin has orientation at the end of August and starts classes on September 4th.

Between now and mid-May things get a little crazy. We’ll probably be living in an apartment or condo while in Denver — something with likely much less space than we have now. We’ve decided that instead of renting a storage building in Austin to store stuff or renting a moving truck to move the stuff to Denver only to store it – we’re selling just about everything in the house prior to the move. What we’re thinking of is a garage sale in February to get rid of a lot of smaller items that we don’t need or use. In April we’re having a going-away party at the house during which we’re letting folks know that most everything you see in the house is for sale – scope things out and keep items you like in mind. A couple of weeks later we’re going to have a mini-estate sale for our friends and acquaintances letting them come in and make an offer on whatever they like (virtually all decor, some furniture, beds, lamps, kitchen items, lawn mowers, lawn furniture, patio furniture, you name it) and take it home with them. Early May we’ll likely be having another garage/craigslist sale for everything that no one else wanted – including the Mustang. That should leave us with only a dozen or so good-sized boxes that we can pile in the Fusion or ship to Denver via UPS ground.

That leaves the house. Nothing much has changed since the last update a month ago. The current plan is still for Eve to move out of the house around August and two friends are discussing if they want to rent it (once again – you know who you are :). This is an area that needs some attention but right now we’re waiting on the two friends to see what they want to do before we explore other options.

Right now we’re in hurry-up-and-wait mode. We need to fill out Benjamin’s FASFA but we need to file his 2006 Tax Return first. We can’t file his 2006 Tax Return until the various financial institutions send us the EOY statements. <sigh>

Updates to follow as things change…

US Military – Recruiting shoppers at Best Buy

I was at Best Buy today getting a gift for my Dad (Fry’s CD selection is horrible). I was trying to find a CD by Wideawake when a nice looking young man came up and said something along the lines of ‘Hi, mind if I ask you a question?’. My first thought was that he recognized me from interpreting at Gateway which I nixed pretty quickly since people usually start those kinds of interactions with ‘Hi! I’ve seen you at Gateway!’ and proceed to talk to me as if they know me. My next thought was ‘must be a Christian evangelizing’.

I said ‘sure’ thinking I might get some entertainment value out of my trip. He asked, ‘Do you have any long-term plans and goals?’. I replied, ‘yes, of course’ thinking of the aforementioned Five Year Plan. He inquired further, ‘like what?’. At this point I ruled out him being an evangelical and had no idea where this was going but I decided to play along anyway. I proceeded to say that I worked at IBM and planned on staying with them for a while. He was asked if I was planning on staying with them until retirement to which I laughed and replied ‘hell no, their retirement isn’t what it use to be’ and he commented something about his friends at Dell being unhappy there.

Finally he came out and said that he was with the US Military Intelligence (I might have the name slightly off) but that I ‘seem to know where [I’m] going in life’ and that I ‘probably wasn’t interested in a career’ with them. I laughed just a little although inside I was having a massive guffaw moment and said ‘No. I’m gay – they don’t want me anyway.’ He had the audacity to say ‘you could just not tell them’ to which I replied ‘I have a few gay friends in the military who tell me their lives are a living hell.’ He muttered something about ‘ok, well, thank you for your time’ and walked off.

My thoughts:

  • Why is the military recruiting people in the CD section of Best Buy, are they that desperate?
  • Who are they targeting? Do I really look like a high school or early-college student?
  • The military? Are you kidding me? They’re sending even more people over to fight in the Second Vietnam.
  • I’m sure IBM pays a hell of a lot better than the US Military. I know for a fact that working for IBM is physically safer than working for the US Military. Why didn’t he just stop after I told him that I worked for IBM?
  • If they are wanting people bad enough that I could ‘just not tell them’ that I was gay, why the hell are they discharging gay linguists?
  • Interesting lead-in question though. Wonder if I had said no if he would have asked ‘want to get paid several thousand dollars to leave to your family after you get blown up by an IED?’. [ed: ok, that was crass and over-the-top but seriously, what kind of people are volunteering for military service right now knowing that our Commander In Chief has no exit strategy? How desperate do your circumstances have to be before you volunteer?]

BTW, Best Buy doesn’t carry CDs by the artist Wideawake.

Target’s shipping has date issues

On Nov 29th, B and I ordered two items from Target online. Target uses Amazon for their store (which I love) and it was easy and painless. The estimated delivery date when placing the order was between Dec 7th and 13th.

On Dec 5th, UPS delivered the first package. The shipping label says this was package 1 of 1 and it completes our order. A bit confused I log into the Target website and it shows that both packages have not yet been shipped and would be shipped together. I can’t track the package I received to see when it left where as the website doesn’t think it has even been shipped yet. Not sure what is going on, I decide to just wait a bit and see if it sorted itself out.

On Dec 7th, I received an email saying that there has been a delay with one or more items in my order. Checking the website again, it still shows that both items are in one shipment and neither have been shipped yet. New estimated arrival dates, from Dec 11th to Dec 17th. Weird.

On Dec 8th, UPS delivered the second package. This appears to be the second package of the order. Cool. Hours later I receive an email from Target that says my packages have been shipped today. Checking their website, it says that my packages have been shipped as one shipment with two packages on Dec 8th with an estimated arrival date of Dec 8th through Dec 20th. Tracking the packages individually gives me a different story. The first one was shipped on the 1st and confirms delivery on the 5th. The second package was shipped on the 5th and confirms delivery on the 8th.

On the upside, both packages arrived before or within the original estimated delivery window. The downside is that their website has no freaking idea what’s going on :)

The Five Year Plan

Well, technically it is more like an outline than a plan.

Note: This is locked for LJ Friends only because we don’t want details leaking out to Benjamin’s coworkers just yet — the information is freely available to everyone else. I’ll unlock it after our plans becomes finalized.

Update: Benjamin just blogged about his plans so I’ve unlocked this post. Expect an update from me Real Soon Now.

Benjamin has decided that he wants to complete his Bachelor’s degree by the time he’s 30 (thank goodness it was before he was 30 and not me :). To that end he has decided, after much thought, to get his degree in Event Planning/Management. In our research we discovered that there are only a handful, certainly less than a dozen, colleges that offer 4-year degrees in Event Planning. There are only two of them in cities that we are excited to live in for the duration of obtaining the degree: Denver, CO and San Jose, CA – the schools being Johnson and Wales and San Jose State University respectively.

Benjamin has applied to both universities and the pesky things like transcripts and standardized test scores should be winding their way to the admissions office if they haven’t already arrived. Johnson and Wales (J&W) has a rolling admissions program so we could, in theory, find out any week now if he has been accepted there. J&W doesn’t specify what the cut-off date is for the admissions notification so we don’t know how long we’ll have to wait on that one (presumably before June if he’s applying to start in Fall 2007). San Jose State University (SJSU) won’t start notifying transfer students until March 15, 2007 so we have quite a bit longer to wait for that one. Benjamin is heavily leaning towards J&W and is only considering SJSU as a backup plan.

Price-wise both schools come out close to the same: J&W is a private college and we’d be paying out-of-state tuition for SJSU. The cost of living for Denver vs San Jose would be pretty different so SJSU would end up being the costlier option but probably not by a landslide. [CNNMoney estimates that the cost of living in Denver would be $7k higher than living in Austin. San Jose would be $89k more than Austin. I take that back — it is a landslide.] I find it ironic that we just sent off the last payment for Benjamin’s previous student loan, just in time to start another one in 6 months :)

[Side rave: Benjamin will be applying for financial aid come January. Being 24, he is no longer required to list his parent’s income on the FASFA. Furthermore since he is single, as far as the federal government is concerned, we don’t have to list my income either which is certainly advantageous in our circumstances and something we are more than happy to take advantage of. If the federal government won’t recognize our relationship as a couple (screwing us) at least we get the benefit of Benjamin looking ‘poorer’ than he otherwise would and the government giving him more money or a better loan (screwing them). Ah, sweet justice. Score one for the failure of the Gay Agenda, whatever the hell that is.]

Ideally Benjamin will get accepted at one (or both!) schools and we’ll need to either be in Denver or San Jose no later than July of 2007. In the mean time we have tons going on.

Our plan is still to move to Denver for a 6-month trial run starting just after Easter (in April for 2007). He’ll continue working for Compass Bank up until that point in time. What he does come April is still up in the air and is pending on a few factors, one of which is if he has been accepted somewhere by then. We’ve discussed him transferring to a Compass Bank in Denver, volunteering his time with some Denver event planners that we have some contacts with, or something else altogether. I will be staying with IBM the entire time and come March will transition to be a mobile employee (aka: IBMer without an office).

In the mean time Benjamin has enrolled in a 10-week Wedding Planner Certification course being offered Wednesday nights from 7pm to 10pm at Texas State University in San Marcos starting the end of January and finishing just before Easter. He is super-excited about this possibility. I’ve enrolled in another 8-week pottery course on Wednesday evenings starting mid-January which I am equally excited about.

So come April we pack up a few boxes and ship them to Denver UPS ground, pack up the Fusion, and drive to Denver to invade the personal space of our friend Danny for 6 months. If B gets accepted to J&W we’ll look into getting a place of our own (renting a downtown loft?) and become Denverites for ~4 years. If B gets accepted to SJSU (and not J&W) we’ll pack the car back up and head to San Jose and get a cardboard box of our own for ~4 years.

That brings us back to the house in Austin. The current plan is for Evelyn (B’s sister who currently lives with us) to stay in the house until mid next year. At that time we should know what our longer-term plans are and can decide if we want to rent the house (preferably to one of our friends — you know who you are) or try to sell it. The problem is that B and I love our house. Sure it isn’t perfect but its our cozy abode and it keeps appreciating thanks to the NW Austin area booming around it.

All that to say we have a pretty good feeling where we’ll be in 6 months (June – Denver). Beyond that it gets noticeably fuzzier for the next 4 years: 9 months (Sept – Denver? San Jose? Austin?). After the ‘which school?’ question is answered we can start solidifying plans. Up until then we’re just plowing ahead and saving our pennies.

This concludes our Five Year Plan Six Month Outline.

ADC: ARC Decker Challenge 20K by Hoover’s

Benjamin and I finished the the fourth race of the Austin Distance Challenge (ADC) today. In truth, we were both idiots for running it given how we felt just a few days earlier.

Wednesday evening Benjamin’s stomach was being odd. Things must have gotten worse overnight ’cause he called me just as I was leaving the gym on Tuesday morning (I leave the house around 5:30am so he was still asleep when I left) asking me to work from home as he was feeling really bad. He was throwing up and having diarrhea attacks every five minutes or so with major periodic stomach cramps thrown in for good measure. We ruled out food poisoning since he and I had the exact same thing for dinner Wednesday night and I felt fine. At 1:30pm when we couldn’t get him to keep anything down I called and got him an appointment with our PCP, Dr. Steve Loeschen, for 2:20. The doctor took one look at him, asked a few questions, and said ‘we need to get some fluids into you or I’m sending you to the ER’. Yikes. Dr. Loeschen tried to start a saline IV but was unable to do so (said he only starts an IV once every two years or so) and said that he could either give B an anti-nausea med and B would have to rehydrate orally or he could send us to the ER. B opted for the anti-nausea meds and we went home to gradually bring him back to normal. By Friday evening he was feeling well enough to eat a full meal although he still looked pale. Saturday morning he felt back to normal, enough that he went to work in the morning and went shopping with Nicole that evening. As a side note, Dr. Loeschen is awesome and I would recommend him to anyone. While in his office he gave us his after-hours pager in case things got worse. He called Thursday evening and again Friday afternoon to check on Benjamin and see how he was doing.

I, on the other hand, came down with something Thursday evening. No clue what it is/was (still note quite over it). It may be allergies, which would be reasonable given the massive cold front that blew in on Thursday, or it could have been a bug of some kind. Regardless, it was a nose/respiratory issue which comes free with a hacking cough, runny nose, sore throat, and feeling like blah. I felt ‘ok’ but not actually well Saturday night and this morning but I wasn’t going to let a little thing like a respiratory problem stop me from missing a race and thereby forfeiting the distance challenge! (Insert: you’re an idiot here.)

The weather today was cold (in the mid to upper 30s) and windy. Between the cold wind, airborne allergens, and my compromised respiratory system it was a very hard and painful race. We had to stop and walk at least every other mile for many yards – sometimes at every mile. Once I got into the flow around mile 4 things seemed to improve a bit but I felt like I was only able to make use of 50% of my lung capacity. To make it all worse, the last 0.25 mile, when I could see the finish line, I got a major, almost incapacitating, stitch in my side that B encouraged me through (poor B, I don’t think he’s ever heard me cuss like that in quite some time!) B on the other hand, felt pretty good. He had some knee and hamstring pain in the last mile of the race but otherwise felt pretty good. He was a phenomenal encourager to me through the entire race and I couldn’t have made it to the finish line without him.

In short, we really shouldn’t have raced but we did at my insistence. We’re both really glad to have completed it (and with a time that isn’t too shabby either!) but if we had to do it over again knowing how I would feel — I’d say screw it.

On the positive side of things, B and I individually confirmed how we need to dress for this kind of weather – something we didn’t do right last year in the marathon. The race itself was much better coordinated than it was last year. Parking went smoother, the race started on time (neither early or late), the route was improved (no out-and-back), they didn’t run out of sports drink afterwords, and leaving the venue was simple due to how the course was set up (no need for cars to dart through runners to leave the parking lot). Minus the health issues and the wind (neither of which are really controllable) the race was great.

Race: ARC Decker Challenge 20K by Hoover’s
Casey


Overall position 803 out of 1238
Class position (M 25-29) 51 out of 67
Chip time 1:58:50.3
Pace 9:41/M

 
Benjamin


Overall position 802 out of 1238
Class position (M 20-24) 19 out of 21
Chip time 1:58:50.1
Pace 9:41/M

Paces for each mile according to the Garmin:

Mile Pace
1 8:32/M
2 9:14/M
3 9:29/M
4 9:37/M
5 10:32/M
6 10:11/M
7 9:51/M
8 8:42/M
9 10:10/M
10 9:29/M
11 9:25/M
12 9:30/M
12.4 9:15/M

Next race: ARA 20 Miler – January 7th

Golden handcuffs

My manager just called me about an hour ago and said he was happy to inform me that I am the recipient of an IBM Equity Award. Apparently these types of awards are management-initiated and require the backing of your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd line managers. After a bit of research I discovered that I have received these twice before and didn’t know it! Equity Award is the fancy label IBM gives to stock-related awards which I received in 2003/06 and 2003/12. (Yes, yes, I know that stocks are equities, lay off.) The previous two Equity Awards were stock options. The new award is a set of Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) who’s label told me absolutely nothing until I read up on it.

Apparently RSUs are a way for IBM to give someone actual stock, instead of stock options. They are similar to options however in that they take time to vest. Whereas IBM options vest 25% over 4 years, RSUs vest 50% every 2 years over 4 years. When they vest you are basically ‘given’ that many shares of stock minus taxes and whatnot. IBM very clearly states that Equity Awards are a mechanism to ‘retain truly exceptional people with the critical skills … to win in the marketplace today and in the future’ [courtesy of the IBM internal website], hence the phrase ‘golden handcuffs’. Looks like IBM wants to keep me around for a while. I’m not altogether certain that stock options (or RSUs) would be enough to retain me if I really wanted to leave (’cause its only money and I’d leave it in a heartbeat if I didn’t like what I was doing for work) but I agree that they are an excellent fringe benefit for staying!

A 4-year vesting time oddly coincides with our current 5-year plan which is nice (more on that in a later post).

In actuality I’d rather IBM pony up to the table when it comes time for annual performance reviews and salary adjustments. We shall see.

ADC: Motive Bison Stampede Half Marathon

Benjamin and I finished the the third race of the Austin Distance Challenge (ADC) last Sunday (Nov 12). The weather was nice although we over-dressed for it (at least I did). The weather was cold in the morning when the race started but warmed up after the sun rose. Luckily, there was no wind.

B and I felt pretty good at the end. B’s knees were hurting him a bit which mirrors the longer runs last year too. We’re going to have to figure out how to fix them, and soon.

Race: Motive Bison Stampede Half Marathon
Casey


Overall position 1036 out of 1778
Class position (M 25-29) 64 out of 99
Chip time 2:05:33
Pace 9:35/M

 
Benjamin


Overall position 1035 out of 1778
Class position (M 20-24) 27 out of 38
Chip time 2:05:33
Pace 9:35/M

Paces for each mile according to the Garmin:

Mile Pace
1 8:54/M
2 8:40/M
3 9:27/M
4 9:19/M
5 8:00/M
6 11:22/M
7 10:12/M
8 9:18/M
9 8:58/M
10 10:20/M
11 8:44/M
12 9:39/M
13 10:04/M
13.3 11:59/M

Next race: ARC Decker Challenge 20K by Hoover’s – December 3rd