Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Physicist, a Psychologist, and a Geologist find the true meaning of Christmas

The meaning of Xmas.  Originally published Christmas eve 2010. 

The invite was for a Dim Sum feast at a vegetarian restaurant up on Main Street.  I arrived early as I typically do, but was not awkwardly so and not alone in being so.   The others arrived before too long.  

We sat a big round table with a lazy Susan occupying much of the space, a common arrangement for family style meals.  The meal was good, though can only  recall one dish.  The company provided interesting banter.  At that time I was prone to taking pot shots vegans, of which there was one at the table, Mr. Dr. Rob.    It is a diet choice that can lead to some moralizing, which lead me to the engage in mockery.   One casserole topped with a simulated cheese produced the high point of my wit for that season.   

As written on the Facebook all those months ago.  

 While admiring the browned cheese on the rice and simulated seafood casserole I commented on the unique quality of  cheese to produce such an appearance. The vegan said, just you wait. My retort, There already exists a perfectly adequate means for turning vegetable mater in to cheese. It is called a mammal.

The meal stretched on for a comfortable hour or so before we started to disperse.  I lacked after plans, though there had been an invite to a church service where two of our number would be playing horns.

Three of us,decided a drink or two was in order. The three of headed up will looking for a open bar.   This is not a story that starts with a Doctor, Geologist and Physicist walking into a bar.

We walked south up hill in the dar and the rain. Searching for a pub, a golden fleece to our damp Argonauts. This being Main Street we did some window shopping commenting on the unusual knickknacks that in antique and other novelty shops. One storefront was full of mannequin parts and the red lights, This was clearly a robot brothel. Near the robot brothel was a shop proudly displaying a combination bathtub and love seat. It would have been comfortable as long as you stayed clear of the tap. Sharing the window with the love tub was a polished copper and brass contraption that at once looked like a bong a plunger. I now doubt that toilet water makes good bong water.  We came to the end of the block and the end of the novel shops. Still not bars in sight.  Then along came Bob.
Not Our Bob

Bob, was found in the road, which was doing its best impression of a small river. He was dead centre of the right lane.  It would have been generous to say he was walking. It was a jelly boned stagger.  Removing the man from the lane was generally considered an ethical choice. 

Our initial plan was catch and release. He had fallen and spilled out across the pavement.  We were lucky, the traffic light was red.  It would be for best if he was elsewhere when they traffic started flowing again. With a hand under each arm we moved him on to the sidewalk. 

Bob developed a list, he had scarily walked 5 meters before his stagger developed a dangerous leftward direction. He was aiming right for the road. Quick action steered him out of harms way, and we thought perhaps he could go on his way. This hypothesis was proven false when he fell into a cedar hedge. It was clear there would be need for some adult supervision on his journey home. So with a heave hoe, I pulled him up by the scruff of his neck and with Doctor on one arm the Physicist on the other we tried to walk him home. 

The weather that night was the kind of winter rain that might make you regret moving to Vancouver, snow could have been an improvement. It was dark, it may have been well above zero but the damp would suck the heat out of as sure as anything.  Between the monochrome light, the damp and the cut of his cloths, comparisons to It’s a Wonderful Life were inevitable. 
It was almost a shame that Bob did not call us a swell bunch of fella’s.  It would have been the perfect detail, especially if he pulled of old times radio voice, but Bob did not call us swell.  Our kindness was praised no less earnestly. 

Instinct must have guided us towards his abode.  We did stop more than once to clarify the directions, the answers were disjointed and vague.   During this trek he offered us a shot of brandy for our troubles.  How he planned to fit more alcohol into his blood was be feat that defied all medical sense. 

Bob started to share the story of Bob, the details space.  His presumably adult children were expected to visit. I am struggling to recall if this was met with anticipation or dread.  Memory fails here, I wrote that he was not looking forward to the visit and also recall that he was expecting a great Christmas.  It does not mater in the end, there is no version of the memory that does not translate into my imagining his family visiting out of duty. The holiday driving visits to the estranged old man.  

Any other details of Bob’s life have long since been forgotten, non of the specifics matter, just little slices of a little quiet tragedy.  Adding Bob’s narrative to the darkness and the perfectly choreographed weather drove home the It’s A Wonderful Life feel.  Here we were trying to save someone from a terrible fate on Christmas eve, pulling a struggling fellow from his metaphorical bridge.  Unlike the original this remake did not have the budget for one key thing, hope.  Its A life, not staring Jimmy Stewart.

Eventually he recognized his house. In a fit of independence Bob tried to make for the entrance way on his own power. This effort lasted all of 3 meters, where his leftward list lead once again into a bush. Once again we hoisted Bob to his feet.  After we righted Bob, and collected the sad plastic bags with his christmas cheer he steered us into the yard.  

The house could be described as a Vancouver special. It sat on some unassuming side street near 20th and Main.  The first sight of it was intimidating. A short stair case half a story or so lead to the front door.  I had no notion of how we were going to haul a man with consistency of a drunk octopus up those steps.  I need not have worried. Bob made the only right turn of that evening and took us around back. Here there was a door conveniently level with the ground, and unlocked.   We were thanked one last time, there was a lot of thanking that evening.  

We left Bob in what we assume to be his home. It had a sad worn quality it that suited him.  Was that his home? very likely, and if it wasn’t it was better than being out of the rain and in the traffic.  And isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas. 

A note on this repost. 

Originally I had planned to simply clean up the writing from 5 years ago. However I was embraced to read my own words.  It was written hastily full of chunky phrasing.  Run on sentences galloped through it tearing grammar as they went. So it I rewrote it.  In doing so it morphed from a funny story with sad details to a sad story with funny details.  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thinking out loud, in words.


Lets try this again. I tried writing it last night but my head was too muddled from a tiring an seemingly unproductive day at work.  Had I tried writing it the night before last it likely would have worked out, the composition was fresh.  Yes sometimes it is the time to write something and then it passes.  Yesterdays writing was turning into a disjointed word salad.  So lets try this again.

About a year ago I took a contract. It was in far away Delta, coming from East Vancouver it was a ninety minute transit trek.  I was told something about photocopiers.  Once I got in the building I was handed a pile of printed instructions, a 5.5mm nut driver, and presented with a box and large photocopier.  The objective, to get the parts in the box into, or onto the photocopier.  It was an uncertain start, that was the first time building things was my main job.  So I did what made sense, read the instructions, laid out the parts and figured it out.  Nine months later that first build that inimated me had become my bread and butter and I could fly through it.  I occasionally had the opportunity to install bigger more complex things.  It was routine enough to get boring, it was also interesting enough to keep me there. My regret being I never had a chance to learn more.

Two months ago I took a demolition job. It had less to offer, but better pay.  It reminded me that in I am comfortable in certain industrial setting.  That there are even some advantages to sites where there are risks and machines.  The demands of situation awareness take advantage of my brains desire to be omniscient, it really wants to know about everything going on everywhere. Squirrel!. In combining these to experiences, with some qualities I want to find in a job I found myself needing to look into the trades as an means to a better working life.

Now three paragraphs in I can start to get down to details.  I am trying to narrow down things to a trade that I can both use as a branching off point, get into at a novice level. I want to both expand end employ the mechanical thinking that built up, but always existed, at the photocopier job. I know I am able to work comfortably in a construction, or industrial setting which is good because that's where a lot of the work is going to be.  So the problems start to be, I really don't know what's out there.  At some level I break it down to pipes or wires, and exclude wood.

I choose to ignore carpentry because the demolition job proved one thing clearly, my joints can't take impact loads.  Moving heavy things no problem, being on my feet no problem, repeatedly absorbing shock and vibration, big problem.  A reliable source tells me that carpentry requires repeated, nearly all day hammer use.

So what do I want to do, don't know exactly.  I know I liked figuring out the mechanical connections involved in building things. Even if my work was large prefab out of the box stuff.  My brain loves systems, I am more engaged on working with the small things when I have a grasp on how it fits in the bigger thing. This is a general truth and does not exactly help me narrow things down.  There is a long term goal, being great at a useful skill set, working with even more skilled competent people. I want to dig into their deep knowledge and earn my own.  Thats the there I want to reach. So whats the path.

Here are the questions, and other things.

  • Optimistic plan A. Get hired as an apprentice, like trade, stay on said path. 
    • Plan A Modified, Redirect training as I narrow down what I like more. 
  • Plan B: Take on construction or other trade related work without out direct path to apprenticeship.  Gain access to experience and narrow down interests. 
  • Plan C:  Pick a foundation training program, or coop program, in an appealing trade and hope it's a good fit before sinking too much time and borrowed money into it. 
Plans A and B involve doing the one activity I fail at most consistently.  Plan B could be started by approaching day labour places as they often bring in grunt labour. However at zero job security, and even worse wages there is good reason to be reluctant.  Plans A and B are largely dependent on who will have me.  A thirty something failed geologist, the worlds slowest computer programer, and nerd. Once started I expect that any starting point will be off the mark and trimming the course will be an ongoing project.  I can no long hold on to the notion that I can plan one path and expect it work as imagined the first time.  Plan C is the comfort zone, of hitting the books and hoping something comes out at the end.  

The recent addition of body art to my skin sits as a permanent reminder that the differences between what I imagine and what is rendered is small.  More importantly the art is the product of thought planning, research, and communication, and proof that I can trust my tastes.  Neither of the pieces are exactly how I envisioned them, neither is so far off that they failed to fit the vision.  Being comfortable with those differences makes me more confident that I can steer my work life closer to stratifying. 

Some more questions I am trying to answer. 

  • Do I want to work in a workshop.
  • Do I want to work at a job site.
  • Both?!  I like that both idea
  • How much schooling am I willing to take at once. 
    • Largely conditional on how exciting I find the final outcome.
Now I must really engage in the uncomfortable job hunting work that will make plans A and B possible.   And when it comes to Plan B, whoever will have me will be a good start, I need to get my hands on site and learn what I can get better for the next move.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Coffee Calibration


It was late September, I was still enjoying work at the photocopier warehouse, though it was clear that the work was winding down.  That job did not pay enough despite its value in pointing me towards desirable work.  What it did do was have me looking at machines filled with gears, wires, sensors and rollers all day.  Not something I look do at home typically, but there were special circumstances.

I was planning a camping trip.  It was  trip planned at the end of summer, for near the end of September.  This was one of an ongoing series of field tests designed to ramp up the level of our outdoor adventures.  The core gear was proven and provided by the other member of the expedition.  Both by opportunity and inclination I took on the food.  A very specific set of things got into my head, I ran between several stores in different parts of town looking for and often failing to find what I had aimed to prepare. I spent more money in more places than I was comfortable with.  The last item on the list was coffee, a necessity for me.  The original plan, which is still a good one was to buy Turkish or Lebanese style coffee.  The stuff is finely ground and can be brewed with nothing more than a pot and boiling water. Two days before the trip I was spent from hunting all the other things, leaving the house for one last thing was not going to happen.  Enter the coffee grinder.

The faithful bean crusher.
 On paper, quite literally, my coffee grinder is able to produce a Turkish grind. It says so in the user's manual.  I have a moderately fancy grinder, it is a conical burr grinder, not a blade grinder.  The blade grinder is the one you likely have at home, two little knives spinning in a close little cup.  You hold your hand on the trigger till the beans sound right or your fingers go numb. I could never get consistent results with that, so I upgrade.  The upgrade, solved the consistency problem, I adjust two knobs, fill the upper hopper with beans, push one button and the lower hopper fills with correct amount of correctly ground coffee.  Except when I tried to grind ultra fine. 

The plan was simple.  Grind the coffee as fine as the machine would let me.  Take the powder out to the woods add boiling water let it settle. The reality proved more frustrating and a lot more chewy than planned. I turned the dial, it goes from 9 to 1, 1 being the finest setting.  Somewhere near 2.5 it jammed, it would not budge.  Pushing any harder on the plastic wheel would have risked ripping off the flesh of my thumb or braking the plastic gear.  At that time I had spent more than 8 months with a  screw drive in my hand for most of the day, I was used to big complex machines, even if I was only touching the simplest parts of them.  The demand for coffee in the following morning cemented in my head, I would fix it and I would fix it now.

Step one, was grind some coffee at the setting it jammed on just it case I broke it, this is what I took camping.  Then it was a simple mater, of unplugging it, emptying the bean hopper and separating the top and bottom halves of the machine.  That part actually went well, I had a screw driver fine enough to engage the small phillips heads that held the top half in place, and all the parts I would need to access were at that level.  It was the parts I did not expect that caused the first problem, where did that spring a plastic cap come from.

Now to get a little technical.  This grinder drops the beans between two steel discs fitted with what looks like carbide tool faces, making it the cutest tunnel boring machine ever.  When the grinds are fine enough that the teeth can not longer engage with them the fall out into the lower hopper.  Grind size is controlled by the spacing between the to discs. Simple right.  Thats what I thought.  So I cleaned all the parts I could reach, betting it was gunk jamming things put it back together and tested it.
Lower grinder. All the gears removed. Note the threading above the disc.

It worked.  It worked in that, the dials turned, the power went on and coffee was ground. The coffee was ground so coarse that only way you could have brewed anything out of it was boiling it stove top, till the souls of the beans scream for the fires of hell. I had missed a key element of the design.  A simple elegant and logical design.  The upper disc of the grinder nests in a plastic cup that threads into the lower half of the machine, it is also toothed along the outside. When you turn the grind selection knob you are causing a second gear to rase or lower the cup holding the grinder.  When I had put it together the first time(s) the grinder elements were far enough apart that all they could do was politely crush the beans.

So I took it a part again. And again. I recall perhaps as many as five strip downs. I found the use of the plastic cap, and where the spring went. They both went under the selection knob to hold it in place. On the most worrying test runs the machine refused to run, the lid was off, a user error.  Calibration also included several runs where I was very confident of things going great, until for no apparent reason upper plate rattled loose. The reason is crystal clear now that it is not late in the evening hours into the project. They were too close together and upper half twisted loose. It made a frightful racket.
Upper Hopper, lower grinder

At the edge of giving up I tested it yet again.  It worked, sort of.  Nothing jammed nothing rattled loose, coffee came out.  However, the knob said it was grinding the coarsest, but the output said it was grinding its finest.  Had I tried to select a finer setting at that point things would have jammed quickly. But I had a calibration point, an output close to Turkish. The fix then was simple, without moving any of the other parts I lifted the selection knob and dropped it back down inverting the settings.  That worked, it now grinds the full range as described in the manual, the knob still travels freely between all the settings.

Ideally I would have liked to strip the machine to create  a detailed photo log of what I did, but that is unwise.  The three screws that hold the upper
Upper grinder. 
half on have an aggressive thread and connect with soft plastic stocks, mess up that plastic and I won't be able have it hold together.

The end of September and first half of October saw me drinking a lot of extra bitter coffee. The first calibration runs half ground a lot of beans, I had a freezer bag full of them, there was no way I was tossing them out.

As for the camping trip. I used the inappropriately ground coffee I had saved just before I started tinkering. It was far too chewy to be worth recommending. The grounds made a plug in the throat of the thermos and the only way to get the coffee out was to get more grit in your cup.  On the second camping trip it was not chewy. Yes my cup got lined with a thick black sludge, but thats normal. It out performed the instant coffee brought by others.  Next time I might just buy the damn stuff.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Lets talk work again.


Its time again to return to that topic that has become the theme of this blog for the better part of the last three years.  Work. Today I finished a contract that kept me busy all through October and November. It was hard tiring labour. The pay was the best I had since I started temping.  There were a few bad days there, when I felt the depression trying to bite me and drag me down.  The end was better than the beginning, when I started I was bummed out from having the last contract end, and irritated that I was being reduced to a human forklift. Eight weeks later and having watched countless temps get sent home I made to the end of the project.   The wing of the building effected by the fire and flood when from sodden furniture and personal effects to chaos of cut up drywall and busted up concrete.  When I left the work was far from done but the walls were bare studs, the floor dusty plywood, the rebuilding could start.  The rebuilding does not need unskilled grunts, like I was hired to be.

The hate, and bad moods became less as I got distant from my previous contract. As hard as the work was, it was the best rate the agent could get me and I was determined to keep at it till the very end.  There were a few simple things I did to get keep me there.  Start work on time, keep busy, thinking a step ahead.  The mood improved, as I became a steady part of a crew, some of the camaraderie I was missing returned.  The uncertainty shifted from will I be asked to come in again to when will the work be done.  It was not a job that could last for long, demolition is a finite process.  As the work shifted though several phases of clean up I had had many chances to think about what I hated, liked(not much) and things that did not bother me.

What I hated. It was dull. Most of the time was spent moving spent building materials and occasional non recoverable content from one place to a dumpster. Shovelling concrete is hard, too many jarring motions and impacts aggravated irritations gained from my first field job.  Things hurt, elbows and wrists, too much brute force, and no easy way to avoid it.  It was often cold and wet. Though for my own good I did not much enjoy the respirator and Tyvek suit I had to ware to protect me from mould, dust, and lead.  At first I did not like the atmosphere, the early mornings, and large impatient men crowding around a coffee source reminded me of camp mornings in the North West Territory, at time I would rather not think about.  The crowds thinned and I grew more comfortable with the people.  Did I ever like it, not not really. It was work you do it because it needs done, you don't complain because what's the point, and eventually the job is done.

So about the odd category. Thinks I did not mind. Some things make a job unbearable, evening shift, micromanagement, being out of town for weeks.  These things will drive me away.  Some things make a job attractive and I will go into those more later.  In between are the things I take in stride because well thats how I roll.  At least at the hight of a low rise building I am cool with being on scaffolding.  Cold, wet, and cold and wet weather, sure I don't like working in them but gear can be adjusted meet the conditions and you motor through it.   Hard labour, so long as I minimize the impact loads on my arm joints I don't mind and my body likes to be moving.  After spending years in rough, potentially dangerous places, I guess I am used to it.  As I said yesterday I have an easier time fitting in around rednecks than I do office drones.

Now for the new territory. And to get somethings off my chest. I am tired of being a temp.  Deeply tired. No security, no vacations, no benefits, no long term planning, just solving the problem of work for a week or months at a time.  There is frustration and anger at the failure of this to have yielded a permanent position.  Though that is a bit of a lie as most places I was happy to leave, they were not where I would want to end up.  The experiment is not a failure, much has been learned, both at work and about what I want out of work.  Every job has fuelled thought, this has evolved into a list.  The list would have turned into a plan and action had I not rushed into more work at the start of October.  Here then is the list things I need from work.

  • Working with my hands is important, I like problem solving in physical systems. Its fun to build a thing and see it work.
  • Learning, the field must have many layers of things to learn.  I don't want to level off soon. 
  • Uncoupled from geography.  My geology career forced me to go to the work. My GIS job searches have shown work is in only a handful of places.  I want work that is available in many places.
  • Similarly I don't want another obscure specialty. I need something that the average person will think, yes that's a mostly normal job.  And common enough that when I get laid off there are a healthy number of places that need the same kind of work done. 
  • The option to work a lone but not isolated. 
  • Insulated from direct dealings with customers. Or infrequent engagements. 
I am bad at a lists. My thoughts suffer from too many subclauses.  The summery is I want to be good a technical job. I am tired of not knowing how to do things. The work I did in photocopiers was bushing the surface of skilled technical work, I want more.  To get there I need a trade.  I'm serious. It would let me learn to work with my hands. I would learn to use tools which I always wanted to. Done right I don't have to commit to large blocks of schooling and there is always something to learn.

It is not really a question any more of if, but which.  To get there I have to, research, what's popular, what's well distributed, talk to people who know such things better than I.  Find training money, find work placements. And get on with having real work and planning.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Nakusp Or France.

So the other day the topic of visiting the folks came up and was rejected.  It would be nice but it is beyond practical to do it at this time.  The sister shared her approximate cost for traveling out there, the number was high enough that it begged the question, could I get to Europe for the same amount.

Now it has to be understood that the town I am from, and where our parents still live, is at least two hours from anywhere, surrounded by a sea of mountains and more than one route in required a ferry. It is also not a town serviced by Greyhound.  The bus will take you to one of the towns roughly two hours from Nakusp, after that getting the last hundred kilometres solved is up to you and the generosity of your friends.  For this exercise I will exclude the bussing plus pick up combination and the more eccentric hitch hiking option,  Those options do not reflect on the type of trip I want to have.  Which is not spending 12 hours on a bus, or risking life and limb sticking a thumb out.  No this trip has to be done in the only sensible way possible, with a car.

A car, I don't own one.  There are no short term plans for buying one and no pressing reason consider one.  So a rental is in order.  Now I am pretending I am doing this as winter trip, perhaps a prechristmass adventure, which places functional demands on a car that would be reduced in the summer.  So I need a rental, with good traction, snow tires, and insurance for all the things.  The season demands a better car, a lazy pricing for a four day trip, using a mid range, SUV such as a Rav4, gets the rental cost at just under $400, before fuel. At a one way trip of just over 600km from my home in New west to Nakusp, you will be using a lot.  I picked a four day trip because you will need two days for driving.
Looking at the !, someone made an error near Deep Creek.  Don't do that.
So for this I will pretend I rented car with approximately 30 miles per gallon fuel economy.  Number based on the stats for a 2014 Rav4, the Rav4 was the car the rental website described as a medium SUV.   Travel cost estimate break down
  • Car rental ~ $400.
  • Round trip distance, min 1240km. Ignoring side trips that will happen
  • Cost of fuel based on above estimates, ~$130.  Likely an under estimate because hills. 
  • So there and back, approximately $530.
These are not going to be the only costs.  For numerous reasons, but primarily privacy and comfort staying at the folks place is undesirable.   Because it had a good review, and is the only accommodation's with in a reasonable walk to the folks place I will pretend I booked 3 nights at the Brouse Creek B&B. This adds approximately $330, bringing a four day, three night trip to about $860, before adding eating out, going to the hot springs, the cost of driving to a neighbouring town eating out there and using their hot springs.

Trip time, not that different, direct flight not so cheap.
In the original discussion it was framed, could I fly to France, stay one night eat a meal and come back for a similar cost.  Paris is a cosmopolitan city, and there is no real cap on how expensive a meal or hotel room could be, but wine, bread and cheese from a corner store could keep the trip budgets similar.  So how much is a December return trip to Paris. According to this about $760.  

Travel Cost, not that different. 
So what can I conclude. If I plan an expensive trip to Nakusp, choosing creature comforts and autonomy over minimum costs, I get a back of the envelope trip cost for a 4 day trip approaching that of return air fare to France for similar time period. I also conclude that a 14hour trip to France is not a dissimilar travel time to what a Greyhound trip to Nelson or Revelstoke with pick up would end taking.  Ultimately this was a thought experiment, one that illustrates how big BCs, how remote my home town is, and why I can't just visit.  My home town is two hours from anywhere and those places are pretty far most other places, far enough that France is almost closer. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Was not a good day.


Today was not a good day. I am writing to try to keep it from weighting me down.  It started too early, and ironically ended too early.  

Sometime near 2:30am my bladder woke me up.  It was not just that lower organ that brought me to wakefulness, despite a cool bedroom I had sweated enough to leave the sheets damp, something was troubling me.  Sleep was very slow to return.  I found everything on my mind. 

The bed oddly felt lonely, for the first time in I can't think how long I thought, a human here would be good.  The cat's not coming when I called did not help. So I tossed and turned worrying about work.  The dark mood I worried about on Facebook was showing up.  The mood I had when at last I fell asleep was heavy enough that when I woke it was like coming up for air.  Sleep did not return until far too close to 4am to be worth much. 

So I got up, it was one of the three very hard things I did today. The other two were leave the house, and not walk off site in the first hour of work.  The change of work is enough not justify a down mood.  A week ago I was part of a tight crew, where I had their respect, camaraderie, trust, and was granted a comfortable level of autonomy. I was good at what I did and I spent 9 months learning how to get better at it.   The hours were stable, yes the pay was low but it was predictable. Where I moved to was all different. 

I replaces a tight crew with a small army.  Where I had mellow professionals who placed being right over being fast, I got a massive site full of restless men jockeying for position.  That testosterone atmosphere was enough to make me think of the North West Territory.  All the trust and autonomy were taken away, it became follow the crew lead, carry a thing, repeat. I was another temp in a sea of temps.  

The site is a cleanup after an apartment fire.  It is moving without the thrill of getting a new home.  The place is swarming with trades people, temps, and others.  As I said there is a lot of men jockeying for position, and some who take being on a crew as a sigh that you should make conversation. As a result I am still deflecting questions about where I am from, they all come from one source.   There is a quality about the aggressive posturing that I find deeply tiring.  I am not saying I worked with bad people, no but I lacked the strength to be in a tiring atmosphere without it wearing on me.  When asked if I was ok, when carrying a heavy thing, I wanted to answer 1000X NO, but said I'm fine, because the things that were wrong were on the inside.  

In the end it comes down to I want things to be getting a little better not a little worse. The change of contract, moved thing to the little worse bin. This saddens and angers me.  Perhaps made worse by the fact that the last few weeks were peppered with great moments.   I simply miss the photocopier job.  It might be the first job where that really happened. It taught me a lot. Most importantly I know far more about what I need from a job to be engaged and therefore happy.  A plan is forming, I have a spread sheet for tracking things once I send out applications.   There is one thing I know, I will need help. 

Some of the help will need to be technical, there is only so many times I can look at a resume and have it make sense.   Most will need to be mental.   When I am active in looking for work I quickly become deeply anxious and that can cripple my efforts.  I develop an impotent rage, the feeling that even after doing all the steps, and knowing the right things I still can't get the expected outcome.  But the longer I stay in the precariate the more I need to get out. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I'm Done


This post has its origins on a coarse at Whistler, and the drive home from there, it also has far deeper roots.  The need to write it happened today. I am done explaining myself.

It happens every time I meet a bunch of new people. It happened today at a job site full of new people. It starts off as someone else's small talk and becomes a tired lie.  There are three forms of the question in general. Where are you from? Are you from (insert western European nation or colony), and lastly, what's your accent.   Today I was asked "You're Irish or something?" I answered or something this did not satisfy.

The first question where are you from, may still get answered.  Only because it occasionally humours me to name a town far from anywhere that most people have never heard of.  What I will not do is follow it up with the answer they are expecting.  People who ask me these questions already believe I'm an outsider, perhaps an immigrant, there is a desire to put me in a box.  I will not give them a box to put me in.

The second question. Are You from X.  No. I am not from, Germany, Austria, South Africa, Holland*, Sweden, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Kansas, or whatever the regional accent you have assigned to me is.  Where am I from, Canada, I have never lived overseas, can't even afford to travel right now, and I can barely English on a bad day.

*Holland is least wrong, but only because my folks did immigrate to Canada from there, but I am not from there. Where I am from is a small town literally two hours away from anywhere, it sits on Nicola group sediments from the early Triassic and is a good place to be from.

The Third question, is the one that started me thinking. What is Your accent? I am starting to think I don't know. The traditional answer has been to blame the Dutch.  Yes I did speak Dutch for the first few years, and took on English a little late.  Yet neither of my parents have typical accents, and there was no Dutch community to rub off on me.  On those rare occasions where I have heard my own voice it is not what I have heard from other folk from the low country.  So to give a cobbled together story of family history, only to come up with an answer that is not accurate enough to be honest is no longer worth my time.

To answer that question again, What is my Accent. I don't know.  And if I answer with leading alternate hypothesis your small talk might get big in a hurry.

So to recap, I will no longer indulge strangers' desire to pidgin hole me, and I can no longer give an answer I don't believe in any more.  This may leave curious folk with a frustrating lack of answer, but the passing frustration of a person committing small talk is of no concern to me.  If you get to know me you may learn I am more interesting than a dot on a map.  And if you Honest and earn my trust perhaps we can talk about the alternate hypothesis.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Damn it I liked that Job.

It looks almost but not quite like work

This is the first regular work day since December where I have not made the trip to Annacis island.
My contract with Preflight has ended. It was no fault of my own, the simple truth was I could look down the aisles of the warehouse and see they were clean and empty of new orders. The work dried up.

Since it has been nine months of constant work a sudden day off is largely welcome.  I have been stretching my resources thin with the doing of many things.  It has been a busy summer and fall. In the last three weeks I have been camping twice and ran an obstacle coarse in Whistler.  The doing of the camping involved much running around to find the food things, or in more than one case running around to not find the food thing.  For the first trip a evening was spent making noodles for the camp meal.  All of this was good fun but it left me tired and my cat stressed and lonely.  That is why a day off is needed.  Now I have to make sure they do not become common. 

So back to the job I did not hate.   My life has shown that it is easy for me to hate a job.  When it was geology the hate grew from the being away from home, and I just cannot live a healthy life when I am sequestered in a work camp.  My later experiment with office work proved I simply do not have the patience to sit still at a desk all day.  So why did I like that warehouse.  Lots of good reasons.

In contrast to my time making maps where I struggled trying to match my output with a variable and poorly explained set of parameters, I had a crystal clear set of outcomes.  When my job was assembly, the outcome was clear, the parts go out of their boxes get screwed and wired in, if the machine fires up and no error codes come up I did my job right.  So I could be confident I was doing the right job by the simple fact that there was a simple binary, the thing I built worked, or it did not.  And sometimes it did not, but that was never a huge problem because I worked with good people. 

I worked with good people both in the sense that they were friendly, polite, and easy going, and in that they were good at there job.  The crew in that shop had been there a long time,  properly experts in field of photocopiers. Preflight's job was to make absolutely sure the machine on the order would work when it was delivered. This demand created an atmosphere that I enjoyed, it was more important to do the work correctly than to do it fast.  This is in sharp contrast to many places where haste has dominated the work flow.  This changed how errors were handled. 

Mistakes get made at jobs, doubly so as a temp where you have to learn new versions of jobs and new sites regularly.  At many places errors are met with chastisement, and the surprised anger that you did not know the thing that was obvious to the experienced crew.  There is a correlation with the supervisor being near the upper bounds of their abilities and wrangling a temp is an unwelcome stressor. At Preflight I was faced with a suite of technologies I could not be expected to know anything about, and working with experts. Work is better when your supervisor has time to teach.

I learned things.  Often my work was repetitive, in fact it was often so.  For many days at a time I would install the same common accessories on the same common models, but inside of this routine I still learned things.  Some things learned are useless beyond that office, I don't know when I will need to know how a colour copier works. I just don't, but learning about that dance of lasers on photo conductors, and brushes made of iron filings and electrostatic charge made things interesting. Other things learned, or refreshed have more direct value.  What I can take away is time spent learning the language of machines. 

 It was the first time mechanical things were the core of my work.  When I was first handed the 5.5mm hex driver I was intimidated.   I believed mechanical things were not my thing.  It was a slow start, initially painstakingly following the printed instructions, carefully checking all the things, and occasionally getting a little lost.   After literally hundreds of parts installs and many removals things became easy.  At some level it became rote learning, but not exclusively.  I learn things be because I get bored. I start to look at how things are connected, because what else am I going to do when turning a screw driver.  So I started to read how things were put together, learning what would move and stay put if I removed any given set of screws and wires.  Perhaps it should come as less of a surprise that I could learn to see mechanical things, it is not unlike geology. Geology demands that you practice the art of seeing below the surface, and seeing the third and fourth dimensions from the second.  

That the work was repetitive could have been held against it, and in some weeks it was too much, but it was also comfortable.  It varied comfortably with a theme, and that kept me confident and happy.  What also kept me happy was I was trusted.  I had a small collection of borrowed tools, a workspace for the tools, manuals and checklists.  By and large I was left alone, but I was not isolated, the shop was shared with the four full time techs, most of whom largely kept to themselves.  So I was trusted to read the orders, build things in the order that best met the deadlines.  The work I did worked, and on the odd occasions it did not, the worst that happened was I went back and fixed it.  

Ok I’m getting tired and bridging paragraphs together is too much work so I will end this soon. I have a take way from this.  One of the better incites into what makes me happy at work.  The short list. Work with a clear and obvious outcome, access to competent people in the same field, comfortably repetitive, but not fixed tasks, the chances to solve problems and to be trusted to do some of my own thinking.  I am good at repetitive tasks that require mindfulness. This ironic because I also bad at those things, but I know how I am bad at them and build my workflows around cancelling out my known errors.  My biggest frustration at the end of these 9 months was, I was only ever allowed to learn and do a narrow slice of things because I was a temp.  I wanted to learn more, damn it I was good at was I was doing.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

On Politics.


In Canada there is an election on. It will go for sometime, I already tire of it.  Like most of my friends I have no love for government of British Columbia, or the current federal administration.  It took a few things for the frustration to hit a level where I had to do my own ranting.  The first trigger was that wasteful and counter productive transit plebiscite.  It proved that if asked to vote for a tinny tax increase for their own good enough people would reject a sensible plan.  My anger at the plebiscite was not the result but that it happened. 

My knowledge of the mechanics of Canadian politics is simplistic and limited, but enough to highlight why bringing things to a vote was a bad idea. The fundamental is this is a representative democracy.  MLA's and MP's are elected to represent an area, to vote in the interest of the residences of that region. There is the assumption that in taking on a portfolio the representative will gain enough specialization on that topic to make informed and balanced plans.  

The plebiscite was a government shedding its responsibility by turning a complex matter over to the public. I honestly want the government to be making infrastructure investments, and I know full well that there is demand for transit.  Now they can not beheld to account for their failure to represent because they turned it over the masses. 

I came here to have words on the federal election.  Having vented about the transit vote my brain now has the resources to take on the national situation.  Canada has been under the rule of a bland pseudo-dictator for at least 10 years.  The list of things done that anger me is as long as my arm, your own list may be longer still.  We are in desperate need of a change of government.  From the trickle of news that passes through to me it looks like that desire is wide spread.  That same news trickle irritates me with endless comparisons of the standings of the leaders of the three national parties, a tiresome aspect of modern politics. 

I believe I was taught at a young age that your vote should be given to the candidate who can best represent your riding.  The resulting government would be cobbled together out of the missmash of elected members.   Sadly in the age of televised and internet news, Riding level politics gets lost under noise from from the nation scene.  This fails the electorate, that’s you the ones eligible to vote,  because it leads voting for the national brand in place of judging the local candidate by what they bring in for you.   If you are lucky the party whip will lay off enough for your representative to vote in your interest not just their parties. 

What got me to write this and what made me release I hated this election almost before it began was a slide show from the Orange formally socialist party, attracting the leader to the Liberals for not supporting a $15/hour minimum wage for federally regulated employees.  I am decidedly for a $15/hour minimum wage everywhere, and calling out your opponent’s stance on an important topic is fair play.  No what drove me to anger was the style.  It mirrored the „He’s just not ready“ attack adds that have been pounding my ears since before the election was called.   I do not like this long bloody election, and that one of our best hopes for a new government is too willing to ape the nearly fascist incumbent. 

In my bubble the election looks like this.  The Conservatives draw all the attention to the Liberals, trying to ape the American meaningless binary.  The NDP is attacking the Liberals and Conservatives, but aiming most the orange artillery at the blue fortress.  Meanwhile the Greens are demanding a chance to be seen and heard at the national debates.  

 It is the Green Party that brings me to my final point of frustration.  It was in the news this week that the Greens gained a third seat in the House of Commons.  Included in his reasons for crossing the floor was the demand to follow the party line.  The demand to vote for the party interest at all cost, damages your MP’s ability to represent your riding.  And I can’t stand the notion of MP’s being stripped of autonomy and opinions.  Yet that is becoming the new normal.  Under the Harper regime his goons followed a tight script. This sets a precedent for his successors, form any party, govern from the top down, with the MP’s being vote casting machines.  

I could hope that it would be a conservative habit. Linda McQuaid’s keep oil in the ground comment, and fuss that this known fact caused, one should doubt that policing of the MPs is isolated to one party.  And this brings me back to one.  This is a representative democracy, on paper.  It is crippled by and endless focus on the national leaders, an antiquated ballot counting system, party whips, and too much America influence.  I want to be able to vote for the person who stands out as the best voice New Westminster, not making a strategic vote in the hope of creating a change of government. I want that same representative to have the freedom to speak the truth, to stand up for what their riding demands is important, especially if that differs from the national parties view.  

In writing this, in my head at work I realized something.  As someone who is angered by Canada’s inaction on climate change, and addiction to Tarsands, and angered by relentless top down politics of the traditional national parties, I have little choice but to move closer to alinement with the Green Party.  I am sure there are flaws in their platform but the others are a large collection of old Ideas. Heck Tom Mulclair basically admitted to believing in magic when he suggest we could mine the tarsands and reduce carbon emissions.  You lost me then and there Mister. 

Today was an angry day, and I was bored at work.  This happened. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Accidentally Running

It seems almost by accident I have taken up running.  Ok, it was not accident but it has sunk up on me. And now I like it.

I will blame hiking.  The last year has had the right combination of people to form the core of an informal hiking group.  At some point in some of the adventures conversations turn to things done for fun. Running came up as one such activity. My go to was, well thats for other people and I moved on.  It took a new hat and a big hill get me to push myself.

Despite having a solid collection of technical garments, I am not one to immediately suggest buying a new thing to start a new endeavour, but when you have my UV sensitivity and hair line somethings are needed, hats and sun block for a start.  The hat in question is a quick drying ultra compact cadet cap, picked up to take up a mountain.  Lindsay Lake loop, was our early go at a big hike, at 1km of vertical and about 15km round trip it was bigger and taller than anything done before.  I was not going to do it in a sweltering black felt outback hat, a hat that blocks the view as much as it blocks the sun.  The new cap proved to do what it needed tom stay on and keep the sun off the baldest bits.  The staying on part proved important for the whole running thing.

It was during the climb at Lindsay Lake, and conversations about exercise that I pondered if I would continue to keep up if my regime remained the same.  It likely did not matter, our hiking style is one of steady paces and a time budget for random breaks.  But the idea set.  Not long after that I gave it a go.

Run one was jarring. With no clue as to how fast I should go, I went too fast, and quickly dropped to a walk.  The whole business of breathing while my thorax was rattling did not work out well.  Of the 2km I covered that first time less than half of it was spent running.  Future efforts were delayed as a massive muscle not in my back made me rethink the whole business.  Half a week later I decided to give it a retry, I can be a little stubborn.  This second try went better, it was still run walk, but the breathing thing got figured out.  I built up to longer distances by learning how fast I could go without getting out of breath, and going a little slower than that.

To my coworkers, and perhaps to many others my 12km bike commute to work over New Westminster sounds like more than enough exercise. When I started it was, and in the past I would have found away to make it so.  The truth is I have developed a set of riding habits focused on energy efficiency.  My goal is to arrive at work, or home, relaxed and as cool as the weather allows, I don't want the energy spent riding to define my day.  The side effect is I would have to ride rather far to get a more satisfying workout.  Riding is not without other costs, too many mile, or too much power for too long and my knees complain.  The wrists and elbows don't want to spend too much time in the saddle. A modestly paced 120km a week avoids the worst side effects but I still want more movement.

Work is one of the reasons I continue to run.   My current contract is some of the better work I have had, despite the impractically low wage.  Even as  good gig it gets under my skin just a bit, especially the endless FM music stations.  There are only so many times I can hear a dopy young man sing about how much he needs someone.  Dude get your shit together.  There is for me an on going demand to clear my head.  Though I could go for more recreational bike rides, the demands of traffic always get in the way of the moment.  On foot, I can afford to pay less attention.  On foot I can look up and around, my mind can wonder or zone out.  It feels good to relax and still be moving fast.

Its amazing what you can do when you learn your high school gym class is not watching you.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Traumatic insemination and other crimes.


The other day I saw a scurrying form in the bedroom. I took it to be a beetle and went to bed. I leave the window open and there is no screen, bugs can get in.  Today I confirmed the fear that was ignored at the time. BEDBUGS.  

The plan was simple, go for a nap. The simplest plan there is really. Since it was bright out I used the other wise entirely decorative curtains above the head of the bed to shade me some. Sleep has been in short supply thanks to the heat and early mornings.  There is a lot of early morning sun here, it is not a bad thing but it keeps me from getting all the hours I could want.  So colour me shocked, and very much awake when a creepy crawly falls from my personal blackout curtain to my face.  It came to a rest on my pillow.  The nap was canceled. 

It was flat, reddish black, segmented and it had a family and a collection of moulted exoskeletons.  An act of science was committed on to it, the abdomen released evidence of its feeding, in a long red stain.  So now I have an ugly problem. I need to kill them, kill them all.  I can't do that all today. 

The offending curtains were double bagged in plastic in the vain hope that that was the main home.  But that will not be good enough. I know I saw some crawl into the mouldings.  This is a situation that requires chemical warfare, it is a situation that requires professional chemical warriors. 

I write this not to tell the news that I have a pest problem.  Facebook already knows that.  This is a proactive counter attack. Not against the bugs but against my brain.  In the winter of 2013 and 2014, during my cat's recovery fleas got into the house.  And worse into my brain, this during the worst of my unemployment.  It ate at me.  Anxiety and depression played with my vivid imagination, all this against a pest that never fed off me.  Now I have spots on my pillow that point to my entry into the food chain.  So I write to fight from them taking over my brain.  So, faced with the option of anxiety and depression, or anger and action I am going to try for anger.  I am not good at anger, never thought it was safe to play with, but when directed at the world, not people, it has value. 

I don't want anxiety to eat at me taking away what little capacity I have to function as an adult.  As a deeply underemployed bachelor work and self care eat too much time and leave me with little money.            A few things are different from the flea war.  One I like the apartment.  Where the old place dragged me down with its crumbling darkness, this place is bright with cheap but new repairs, the balcony alone brings pleasure.  So I want to fight to get this apartment back into a state where I feel clean and safe.  To do that I am going to have push myself, I am not going to like it, not at first.  I will have to ask for favours, an act I hate.  I don't know what shape the favours will take, but to keep moving forward and to keep it from eating my brain I will have to.  So I admit that I will in as yet undefined ways be needing help and support to make sure I win this war. 


Monday, March 9, 2015

Looking forward again.


I had a slow day at work today, it left me room to leave my brain running. It ran back to a post I have been trying to write in one form or another for ages. The drafts folder here is littered with half written and deeply incomplete fragments of what has been leading up to this. 

About a year ago I started doing temp work. There was no choice about it at the time, I needed work, the EI was going to run out and cash was needed.  The time preceding that was rough.  The short spent of productive creativity that gained me most of the 60'000 words of the novels first draft was a brief time. The oppressively sunny days of summer came a long and the cat ran away.  The emotional cocktail resulting from the bitterness of having been let go again, the stress of both the search for cat and the recovery consumed much of my energy.  So what job hunting I did was quite mediocre and largely dooming myself to failure. 

Now a year into being professionally underemployed I am starting to think about how to get out of the underemployment.  Ironically I started with moving.  There is a finite amount of stress I am willing to take,  if the home is a stressor, as the old one was, I am more inclined to retreat and fail to try.  So I fixed that. Years of thinking about what a better home for me would entail lead me good decision.  It was relatively easy for me to learn what I wanted in a home, learning what I want out of a job has proven to be a tougher prospect.   Data was needed, I have more now.

Learning what made up a bad workspace was easy, all it takes is for people to fail to care about the work.  In the mix of good bad and mostly half bad I started to find what makes work satisfying.  And in that same process it became clear that the few career oriented jobs were bad for me in many of the same ways I see the temp jobs getting to me. 

After many hundreds of words of either not knowing or only knowing what did not work for me I can start to list what does.  For a start having a clear scope, clear and limited key responsibilities, next to that is a clear output.  A project must have a recognizable end, too much uncertainty about this stresses me.  Within that constrained frame work independence is welcome. Being left alone with the tools I need and puzzling things out for myself.  

My current placement is the best example of a good workspace I have to go on.  The mechanical nature of it gives most tasks a definite start and end state.  Things are being learned, the challenges may be small, but for a natural klutz building control and mechanical insight is kind of a break through for me.  Learning and problem solving are part of job, not all the time but enough to stave of repetitive brain injury.   Mistakes which I try to minimize happen, but they are responded to not with anger or condescension, but as teachable moments.  It helps that what I am doing is specialized enough that an outsider can not be expected to know much of anything. 

Coming back to the new apartment.  As I said a list of qualities that I needed grew out of all the good and bad places I lived in.  And so when a place was seen, and found to hit on the major points a seriously stressed and sleep deprived version of me was still able to make the right move.  A list like that for work is forming in my head.  It can be better articulated but is not finalized.  The question of do I try to return to an environmental science job crosses my mind.  The answer is I am thinking about it but...

The buts are. I don't know how. 
I don't know what is you are supposed to research when researching a company, I just don't know what they expect you to know. 

I don't know how to network without feeling fake.  

Assessing the relevance of job postings is still black magic to me. 

This is very much like the list I ranted on at the start of my job search full of bitterness and hopelessness. I still don't know these things but I am starting to admit I need help learning them. 
It is also known that I can trust my instincts more now. The biggest shock of all, I am getting more confident, it does not come naturally to me but it is happening.  


Monday, February 23, 2015

Catching up.


I have not written anything in a long time, as a result this will no doubt ramble.  My head is full of partly collected thoughts, any one of which could become a rich post if I had found the time and discipline to crystallize them.  In truth the things that needed written about the most happened at a time when writing was hardest to fit in.  Thought that is ignoring the truth, which is in December and January I knew I needed to write badly, and choose not to. It continues to be difficult for me to write about and or during the worst emotions.

About December.

The gig I had hoped to last well into that month ran dry when the company simply did not have enough orders to demand extra manpower.  This was a disappointment, at all levels, it was interesting the job took me to different sites and kept me engaged, it was making better money than the last few gigs and occasionally overtime was achieved.  An important feature of the job was it started to frame more of what I wanted in a job I could do long term.  Come to think this contract ran short at the end of November, but its failure set the mood for the following month.

Other work was arranged.  This took me back to a warehouse with a broken and toxic atmosphere, I was prepared to ride it out and move on to the next thing once that dust settled.   The flu changed my plans. Two weeks into the warehouse gig I found myself feverish and lacking the strength to reliably cross my apartment let alone leave it.  This took me out for a week.  The lost wages meant even the low budget christmas gifts I wanted to arrange were out of the question.  New work came my way, it took me to Delta with an nearly 90 minute commute.  This was exhausting but the work is comfortable.

In this long tiring daily scramble I managed to get the wrong stuff down the sink, plugging it up real good. This only days before christmas. For more days than I am comfortable admitting I came home to a stagnate sink which I bailed into the toilet. No where was this a good alternative to calling the management.  I came home from christmas dinner to that undraining sink, it did nothing good for my mood.  In the aftermath it two things became clear, the rent was too high and I was too vulnerable to lost income, and no amount of cleaning was going to make that apartment anything but dark and dingy.   So I made the choice I had been avoiding since May of last year I gave my notice on the 1st of January.  This of course filled me with dread.

On January.

Still recovering from the flu, and making the three hour round trip from work I set out to free myself from the old grey box.  Added to the slow healing from the virus, I had developed insomnia, waking too early in the morning and staying awaking stewing in worry and dread. For at least a month feeling absolutely toxic from long term sleep dept was normal.  It was in this syrupy mind set that I tried to do one of the more challenging things in life, plan a move.  

When it came to finding a place I was lucky, but did not believe it.  Over the years since I moved to the old place, I had built a list of qualities that would make moving worth while. This was embedded in my thinking, and had I not internalized it as deeply as I had I would not have made the snap decision to apply for my current home.  It met the criteria I had set up, it is off of the ground floor, close to skytrain, bright, a better kitchen, simply newer and better.   Yet a pathological doubt took root, the part of me that always wants me to fail refused to accept a good thing was happening.

Against evidence and logic, after the application was approved and even after the damage deposit cheque cleared, I somehow believed I would not end up here, that something would go wrong.  I spent January, not properly preparing for a move but exhausted form sleep lost to worries not worth having. Every day I feared something would derail the application, and I would be forced to scramble for a new place at the last minute.  This crippling illogical mind fuck kept me from doing the proactive things.  In believing things would fail I failed to try to get my shit together.  The abyssal cluster fuck that was moving day is proof that I should have had enough faith to plan.

I won't say much about the move. It went badly and things found extra special ways of going wrong.  But thanks to heroic efforts from family and friend it got done.

On February.

After 6 to 8 weeks of sleep shortage, long commutes, endless packing, the flu, a cold, I was moved.  Suddenly I had light, I could walk to skytrain in 10 minutes, I could stretch out, no upstairs neighbours thumped and squeaked the floor boards.  Gone was the tiny grey hole with the fridge that scared the cat.  In its place a imperfect laminate floor and a view of the Golden ears mountains.

Slowly I relearned to sleep through the night, the panics in the wee hours subsided.  It took time but the cold cleared up too.  Money remains tight, I may have saved some on rent, but my addiction to independence, and the need to keep the Lady in a big enough home kept me from cutting as much as I would have liked from the costs of living.  That said, I can get some milage out of the money saved and can relax just a little bit.

In leaving the old place I realize there were a lot of bad times tied to that place.  The frustration of the layoff and the fruitless job search that followed.  The Lady Baroness von Softpaws of Gallefrey ran away from there.  Her disappearance, rescue and recovery kept me in some form of big stress from July 30 2013 till February 2014.  It was not until February of last year that I was confident that the house was free of fleas.  And perhaps just perhaps a home that lets me shed my stress a little better will in the end leave me with the ability pick a new stress to manage.  Because it is dawning on me that I have to do some work to getting back into work for the long term.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The plans so far.

So I am moving.

My budget is less than the last time I took on such a task, this time I will not be hiring movers, even though I had a perfectly good experience with them the one time I did.  Currently I have a Uhaul booked for morning of the 30th, which I noticed after the fact is a Friday, damn it.  However, the current lands lords want the place empty by 1pm on the 31st so being gone and done early is fine by me.

It is only a 10foot truck, but the biggest thing I have to move is the bed and tv cabinet. The TV cabinet is more than able to hold many smaller boxes and even has room for my small book case.  Now I am partly packed, for no good reason, and want out of this dark place.  Come on month, be done with already.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A new place.


This week I used my new semi power Decisiveness. The power partly comes from the tattoo.  So lets get back to basics, what did I decide on, a new apartment. I had already committed to moving on a stressful January first morning.  Over coffee I wrote my rent check, pondered, searched for paper, and wrote a short note saying I'm out of here.   This upped the already high stress level.  The first few days were spent collecting links and pondering when the perfect time to follow up on them would be. In the end I decided to just get on the phone at break time and work through a list of best of's.

The accidental winner was actually the least informative add. No pictures, a bare bones run down, third floor, with balcony, pet friendly with an address and rate.  On the map the location was solid.  The add was a little old, and I had serious doubts if it was still good or even if the place was worth approaching.  But enough on the details.  So I call the listed number, and arrange a viewing that evening.  I did not know what to expect, but looking even at a ejectable candidate is important.

The semi power slipped in as I saw the place. Neighbours in only two directions, a balcony with a view of mountains.  The poor mans hardwood, laminate flooring.  Sure the place needed paint it was clear it had just been vacated but it was properly empty so it was easy for me to check a long the base boards and see things were solid. The kitchen a walk through not a galley style dead end, bigger, brighter cheaper.  It dawned on me that this was going to be hard to beat. So I pushed for it.  I credit Lintilla with some of the decisiveness.

A tattoo of a crow accidentally named after a clone from a radio play version of The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, is an odd place to get advice from but it works.  When I commissioned and later committed to the design, especially when I committed, I elected to have faith.  Faith myself, trust that I had learned enough to take on a risk and come away enjoying the results. When I spent those 5 long hours having the work done I gained a little something.  At its simplest I am now the version of me that was brave enough to get a tattoo.  Wise enough to choose wisely both the artist and design.   And so that already meaning ladened symbol helped me commit to a hasty move.  It made it easier for me to remember that I already know what I need and want, sometimes second guessing is the wrong thing.

So once again I commit to the second place I visited. This time knowing far more what to look at.  This time I am close to two skytrain stations.  The building is in a part of town less gentrified than others, in other words its a little poor and little more ethnic than some others.  This does not matter, nor is it any much different from where I live now.

The building is as you could expect a 3 story slab that was laid down some time in the 1970s or early 1980's as common as dirt around Vancouver. A couple improvements location wise. As said closer to sky train, but also isolated from bigger roads.  The side street it is on connects a few apartment blocks to a major road.  The other buildings are between me and the thoroughfares.  A marked reduction in street noise will result. Also dampening the voice is the walk through kitchen, the fridge is backed against an internal wall separating it from the living space, this should free me from the death rattle that scares me and my cat.

Now I have a new set of problems. I don't have enough furniture to make the place feel filled. Well I guess since getting a new home was easy, I should turn my renewed attention to hard things to better work.  I can make that place far more of a home.

So in the last week I did a scary thing, and found hope, I would say this is a good outcome.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Hard Things


This post has been fermenting since I decided to move.  I do not like moving, it has costs stress and risks.  It is a hard thing. And as it happens in the last two years I have had both enough of them and been avoiding them.

It is not that I have never done hard things, but too many of the things have been lacking the proper reward to justify the stress.  The last great hard thing was BCIT. 9 months of push push push, learning things that I could barely fit in my brain at pace I could not sustain. That project, despite its slow start was a success that landed me a job that proved to be a poor fit. It had its own challenges but it was a comfortable place.  I coasted there, not wanting to look for new work even as I grew bored and the company contracted.  I did not want to do the hard thing.

For a long while I drifted on EI, at first attempting to gain access to the field I had be let go from before realizing I had not liked the aspect I had worked and had no drive to return to it.  Before the stress be came crippling I retreated to faking it.  Applying even more half heartedly to fewer jobs.  In the end I took work with a Temp Agency because anything to dodge the application process was a win for me.  It was an easier thing.  Needed, but the non routine has become routine. I drift at the edge of nearly full time hours, alter for the next falter.  Choosing to move has upset that.

Electing to move was a decision made a long time ago but neglected. I have a craptastic level of comfort here. Living in a neighbourhood I have known for years, in an apartment of nearly 3.  It is the place I know.  I was holding on to it just, an uncomfortable erosion at my remaining wealth happened every bad month.  I was getting too little for my money and living too far from many of the things that now mattered.

So today I called several places, using the phone is in fact one of those things I find disproportionately hard.  And booked a view for an place at a site I knew next to nothing about from an add that said very little.  Now I don't want to talk about the suite.  If I get approved you won't here the end of it.  Pushing through to meet a goal, to have a clear goal again is something I have neglected.  It becomes easy for me to slip into the comforts of the default forgetting that better is an option.  Yet today, I proved in stepping just a little out of the comfort zone that better is possible.  Though I will not say much about the possible new home I will say, it is closer to all the things that matter, bigger and cheaper.

The cheaper is only a minor improvement, but the better is real. So this leaves me with the trouble should I stay on the path of living solo in a one bedroom, I will have start making more money again. The move will tax things and recovery will be slow.  This leaves me with the need to do a new hard thing, properly apply myself to improving my job prospects.  A hateful prospect in most times of life, but somehow I have to step away from the easy for awhile.

Dear job fairy get me a better wage so I can get more stuff.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A little news.


I got the flu in December. This cost me a week of work. The lose hammered home the fact that I can not afford to live here, my margins are non existent.  Therefore I did the necessary and scary thing.  I gave my one months notice to the land lord.  Consequently I have to scramble to find a new cheaper place.

I always told myself I would have the new place lined up before I gave notice but the sad truth became the cash for doubling up was not going to be there.  This is serriedly overdue and needed.  Though I have been able to cover my rent and bills, other things have been off the table for a long time.  I need to be able to afford fun things, and new shoes and pants.

So the quick run down on what I need. Pet friendly, ideally with in 15min of a skytrain station, with a useable kitchen.  Basement suites are more likely to be in my price range.  I am no longer committed to living in the Commercial Drive, or Hastings Sunrise neighbourhoods, and will gladly consider Burnaby or New West.

It is going to be a stressful month but so have many of the last few, but when the march rent roles around and there is something left, and it takes less the three weeks of my income to earn then I will breath easier.

So Thats the news.