Friday, September 24, 2010

Not too Bad

This is a short comment directed to the previous post. Though I am having ups and downs at this time my life is good in several metrics. I am more confident then I have been in the past. There are more people in my life that I know and some that are turning it better friends. Evenings have been well used more often then at other points in my life and fun is being had.

Captain I am not a merry man.

Greetings Bloggies.

Yesterday I managed to compress a week an half's worth of emotional cycles into one day. I started the day in the right head space getting up earlier and doing some exercise including a nice fast walk. I was in a good mood I had gone to bed the night before saying I was going to turn over a new leaf and get my ass in gear.

I gave my self a good emote, I watched American Beauty, cleaned my room and changed my sheets. So yesterday started solid. I had the notion that I would use my walk to plan what I would do with the day. The positive mood started to get cracks in it quickly. As I walked and tried to plot out the next 8ish hours I realized I could hardly come up with an hours worth of clearly defined things to do. The day was not wasted but it was. I reviewed some technologies attached to a job I have not yet gotten, and in my current mood strongly doubt I will get. How much of that doubt is the mood and how much is real cause for not getting hired is unknown.

I do know that my history of getting past a first interview is not good. Nearly every job I have gotten I landed because there was a space that needed filled then and there. When I have gotten interviewed I never hear from the people again. So before the morning was out I was slipping down the slope of why bother.

The afternoon did not go to badly, I went for an other walk around lunch time had a few conversations, that always steers me back on the right mental track, picked up the book I wanted from the library. Laundry at least gave me the feeling of having done something. Cooking and the plans of meeting a long misplaced acquaintance from high school moved me along. The chili and corn bread was good.

I did get out on time to go to the pub, only to discover I had made a few tactical errors, I forgot to exchange phone numbers, I also did not look at any photos on face book. So I found my self in a packed Gas town pub not sure what I was looking for. In then end I left feeling down for having given up. It would have been better if there was a free seat at the bar then I could have waited thing out over a beer.

The evening was ultimately recovered when I went to my seemingly default thursday evening joint and did run into some people I knew and met a few others. My introspective mood did make me minimally social at first. Some alcohol and company repaired that. It does me good to start getting known in a place.

The song for yesterday was Phil Rossi, I Like Your Grave, I woke up with it in my head.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Denial of Service Attach

(Or Saturday Night Part 2)

Greetings Bloggies.

So, It should be clear by now that I did have a good night, good enough to come home at close to 3am, that was last Saturday. A friend who was having an evening of a similar nature but of a longer duration started texting me at some odd hour after 2am. Regretfully I was firmly on the route home with no desire loop back to down town after all the trains had long since stopped running.

On the walk home from the bus stop I received a couple more texts, this time it was raining hardish. I don't want to say it was raining hard I have not been in Vancouver long enough to be a qualified judge of rain types. Without giving it much thought I typed( a generous description of what I have to do with the damn alphanumeric pad my crappy phone has) a reply. The texts largely consisted of I am here doing this, to which I replied I am else where and had enough of doing that.

During that process my higher functions were still partly offline due to a pleasant level of intoxication. So the math of Rain + Phone = Bad did not cross my mind. It would have been slow to cross my mind sober as well. The craptastic motorola had one or two features worth having, one of which was a ruggedized latex similar sink too keep water and crap out. Unfortunately that started to disintegrate and I had pealed much of it off because it was ugly.

So step forward half an hour, my phone is on the kitchen table, I am drunkenly updating facebook. Thankfully nothing too interesting happened that night, so I was mostly just overly cheerful. After I finish with the interwebs I make for bed.
Somewhere in there I hear my phone say from the kitchen table.
Please Say a Command.
Please Say a Command.
This happens some times, it should only happen when the button on the side gets pushed. Keys or change in the pocket with the phone can set it off. All by its self it should do nothing. I do what I always do, Tell it to Fuck off and push a button to make it shut off. I am not even sure if I told it to fuck off on this occasion. After that I thought nothing of it and went to bed.

Perhaps if I had superstition I could have fished an omen out of having Telephone by Lady Gaga in my head just before bed. It was one of the last songs I recall in the club. Lacking superstition, I will go for irony in its place. As I slept my phone engineered its own robot uprising. Time after time starting at some time around 3:45 am till near 8 am it repeatedly dialed and redialed my sisters cell.

Looking at the call log, there were multiple times where the delay between redials was effectively zero. If I did not know any better my phone was attempting a Denial of Service Attack, simple hack involving getting allot of devices knocking on a door till it opens and security is breached. Thankfully the robot uprising is over.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Saturday Night Gotta Be all Right

Greetings Bloggies.

Well the other day I did something rather rare. I went out on a saturday night, not only that but I went out to a place where the primary activity was listening to music that sounded like ....Boots And Cats And Boots And Cats. Night clubs are not my natural habitat but it was a friends birthday and I did feel like going out.

In the past most of my visits to night clubs have been in Kelowna and well it turns out I did not much care for that city or many of its institutions. On those occasions the club was preceded by hanging out and drinking at saner places. This poisoned me to any club because I was enjoying the conversational time. On Saturday night I quickly realized that the place calling it self a pub was much more a club.

A couple beer and the encouragement of an acquaintance later I took to experimenting with dancing. Now I would be the first to say I have two left feet, but even in that context I figured if I am there I might as well try to enjoy it and that is what one does in a place like that. So some how I used all the social errors in the past years to make few errors and come damn close to fitting in.

Several things happened for one thing the number of people attached to the birthday party was huge, I only knew a handful of them from before and many of them did not stay too long, but I was still part of an in-group and that is a social capital that can not be faked. For my own enjoyment I accepted the odd Zen of a dance club, if you want to have fun there you have to ignore higher functions where possible, to get in to the mood was almost a meditation. The other thing I did was make the assumption that few people there really know what they are doing. I watched the overheated masses minded my feet and aped the herd.

The odd thing about the club was the playing of the 1970's animated Lord of the Rings on all of the TVs, complete with badly rotoscoped orcs. I kept time by the scenes. I failed to notice if we had managed to prove the old saying wrong. It is well known that "one can not simply walk into Mordor", but can you Dance into Mordor?

I left sooner then I really needed too. My mistake for not checking when the last train was or the time of the night buses. I left 15 min after the last train had left water front station and half an hour before the next N9 home. Even though it was late there were sane and sober people to chat up as I waited.

Eventually I got off the bus and walked the last leg home. Durning this time I got texted a few times. In replying my phone got damp. It worked fine up until just before 4 am. Just before going to bed I heard it start to fired up the voice activated dialing. A feature I never use and the only words it has ever heard are Fuck You. I pushed the button that usually shuts it up and went to bed.

See part two coming soon

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Who Am I

Greetings Bloggies.

I am trying to write here more to get my thoughts in order. Though it is perfectly normal I wish it was some other way, I wish I knew what I wanted to do for a living. What I do know is a handful of things about my self and some things I have learned I don't want.

I think I might be more social then I thought I was. Growing up I had few friends and the small town pushed me aside as I did not fit. Now that I am in a big city with chances to join self selected groups I am enjoying getting out more then I thought I would. I also know that I don't take well to being alone or by myself as well as I thought I did, I get rather off if I don't get out enough.

I enjoy being a good host. I have tested this and found that I can have good dinner parties, or at least people over for dinner and it is fun. I enjoy the creation of a menu for the evening. I enjoy fitting the cooking into my day and timing it right.

I also know that I am a science and science fiction nerd. I will make Star Trek references. I have also learned that if they fall completely flat to try to move away and don't waste time explaining.

I enjoy experimental cooking and know that the first batch of something will likely be a fizzle and will only cook dishes I have tried a couple times before on guests.

I still hate getting on the phone to do things.
I know lots of factoids. I doubt that they will ever help me land my dream job. That saddens me.

I always get irritated at just how hard it is to land work. I also get irritated at publications aiming to help you get work what they say has not changed in ten years.

I can't really imagine what my next job could be. I know I want a city based job, likely it will be in a office at a cubicle.

I know from experience that I have had my fill of bush work. Long term contracts in the boonies do not fit with how I want to live. See above about being social.

I know that exploration geology is where I have made my money in the past. I know that there are large idealogical differences between me and it. That industry hosts at least in opinion more global warming doubters then most others because its in the business of creating more.

I know customer service did not work for me. I have flipped one too many burgers.

I feel over qualified for many jobs and under qualified for the jobs I think I want to get. The criteria for jobs I think I want to get is based on, this is stuff that I have touched on in my education, I might be able to do it and enjoy it.

What I think I know fairly well about how I want to work is this. I want my job to primarily be centered in Vancouver. Shorter term field assignments are an option but not extended sustained camp jobs. I don't want to be too isolated in my work place, all by myself my brain gets weird. I want to work with people who's values are similar. I want to stay at a place long enough to start getting good at somethings. As an bonus I want regular weekends, the possibility of benefits( with my teeth and eyes I rather feel they are needed).

Other things I know about me. I like to make decisions quickly when they need made. My cooking has gotten better and also my kitchen has gotten neater as I cook more.

Lastly I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I don't have enough money to be an astronaut, the drive to be an entrepreneur, I might be able to grow into management but I don't know. I like to solve problems but I generally find I need help finding the starting point.


Greetings bloggies.

I am facing the mental struggles that in part define the place of life I am in. That is I am looking for work, and worse trying to have the work be part of a career. To get myself moving, not just in the right direction but in some cases just moving I have to remind myself of the hows and whys. How I have managed to make things work in the past and why I want do things differently now.

Firstly I always start off rather pessimistic about finding work. This is my default starting point from which I have to shake myself free of it is also reenforces by the low success rate I have in landing interviews. Of the handful of interviews I have had only one lead to a job. That was Harvey's in Kelowna where I spent some time flipping burgers. I landed that job walking in on the day someone else failed to show up for their first day. All other interviews have been dead ends. Weather it was office depot in Kelowna, MDA in Richmond, I have not gotten past that gate keeper.

The professional successes I have had have been in mineral exploration. Geology runs in the family and mining is a perfectly fine industry but not one I ever planned to get into. I knew when I was 5 I wanted to be a scientist, when I was 25 I had enough of university and did not want to remain on an academic path. Steering me off the academic path was landing a field tech job in 2004. It paid well and I had some adventures along the way. I was also hired sight unseen.

In 2006 I got wind of a company needing some aid dealing with some out of date data. My tip came from my economic geology prof who had studied with part of the management team some time back. A little aid on fine tuning the application with a friend at Tim Horton's and I had landed me the job. Once again shipped out to the boonies with out even an interview. Taking that job was a no brainer, I had $300 to my name and well little other prospects. I stayed there for Two and a half years, till I got recessioned. I admit that my motivations were weak form time to time and by the time of the layoffs I was glad to going. My attention span was expired. I also wanted a personal life and at the time of the layoff I had one that made staying up north far less attractive.

The end of my stint with Tyhee, lead to a period of decompression. Having spent more then two years working 6 weeks at a time with two week breaks tired me. I saw the flaws in that life style that punctuated equilibrium of work play work, and the difficulty in keeping normal friendships. I took some time to not think about work.

When at last I did start thinking about work I found my self stuck. I admit that basing my self at my folks place also in the boonies though not as far from any thing as the North West Territories was a poor tactical choice. It has taken me some time to want to take the risks that can truly lead to a better life ( more on that later). I found my self looking into environmental science consulting firms. I had gained an interest and respect for them when working up North.

There was something interesting and well just a little healthier about the work the environmental consultants and government scientists did. For starters the shifts they did were much shorter, a few days to a few weeks followed by returning to the office to draft reports, a far cry form the 6 weeks in the medium security installation that is a fly in camp. The government scientists caused resentment among some of the more senior camp staff, getting called lazy and such. I place that down to envy, of course you are going to not like some one who reminds you of the flaws in the choices you made, like coming home at the end of the day benefits, more paid vacation, did I mention benefits. Things somewhat lacking to a junior person in the exploration sector.

I chipped away at getting into environmental work for some time in a very half hearted manner. I think the overly long stint with Tyhee made me somewhat negative about work overall, I had too many hours logged and not enough stimulation. I would like to add that this is not Tyhee's fault for say, there are many dull aspects of the job, core logging will never be thrilling, it was my own fault for not trying to push myself into other areas. At that time I though perhaps the work world would be kinder then it was. In the end I had a bitter taste in my mouth from too many hours of the same thing and had taken that bitterness with me out of camp.

Spring came a long an little progress was made. It became clear that I was not going to get there from here. I invoked a ten year old suggestion. A geography prof back at Okanagan University College, recommended going into Geographic Information Systems as a way to get a head. I looked into and applied to two different programs ultimately going to BCIT because of the branding associated with it. I am glad I did. It broke a overly long period of irrational self imposed isolation, it let me make new friends and live in a new city. GIS is my first best hope.

Stepping back a few months. After receiving confirmation that I got into BCIT I set about doing some foot work. I knew that the program placed a strong emphasis on its practicums and I knew that the course load would be large especially considering how mentally soft I had become since the layoff. So I spent a large chunk of the summer, in between trying to teach my self the basics of visual basic, trying to land me a good practicum.

It was for me a stressful process, writing emails, and much worse phoning people, learning the art of getting past the front desk. The work did pay off in the end. By the middle of august last year I had lined up 10 or 12 firms that I was in a position to visit and or talk practicum placements. The choice ultimately came down to two things. One I liked the management at one place the most, ESSA Technologies, and that the manager had the ability to make the choice about taking me on with out having to go through too many steps. By this time last year I had my practicum lined up while some others had yet to think about that yet.

That practicum was a positive time. The people in that office were closer in ideology to myself, no global warming skeptics there. The work was hard, I solved cool problems all be it slowly. I even got a portion of my work incorporated into a software update. In the end there was not a place for me after my practicum wound up.

The end of the program brings me roughly to now. Granted I had the one job between then and now, a job that followed the pattern of the others. The capricious whims of the markets lead to a demand for geologists and on short notice, through a camp cook on face book I applied for a job. You can see how it went from previous posts. You can also see from previous posts how I ended up in Vancouver.

So here I am, in one of the best places to live on Earth and stuck. Yesterday I got a job offer kind of may by. A contact I reached out to as part of my preGIS program foot work emailed me to see if I was interested in a short term contract. There are too many ifs for me to even believe if this is going to go through, and I am not sure other then money if I want to do it. Its another geology job. Its good to make money and I can make good money that way if I can get my self to do it, but it reenforces a path I want to leave. I find my self stuck. I am too much of one thing not enough of another and every thing I know I know to a shallow depth.

There in lies either a very real obstacle or a large imagined one. I sit here with a BSc in Earth and environmental sciences and an Advanced diploma in Geographic Information Systems. I know my BSc is highly general, I did do much of the geology classes offered where I was but I was also top of the class in my freshwater sciences class. All my applied experience is geological, but there are better trained geologists out there. I am not exactly sure what I want to do, I know what I have learned about what I don't want to do. I am also unsure of what I can do. Or perhaps it would be better to say that I am unsure of what I can say I can learn todo.

So this brings me to a point like I was last summer but worse. Last summer I was wrangling practicum options, I found it easier simply because I was not asking for work. Now I have to try do define what I am and offer and then convince them to offer money for that. I know that in practice I can execute that. In fact the tentative offer I got yesterday proves the value of the long game of keeping people in touch and getting a name out. I know the value of the long game, but my finances tell me I need to play a shorter game. I also know I want to play that game in Vancouver.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The importance of food and cooking.

Greetings Bloggies.

While sweeping the floor and scrubbing coffee stains off the tiles I did some thinking. Here is where my brain when in between brief distractions from Lady Gaga. I started thinking about food, something of a default for me. In this context I was thinking about cooking and my job search.

I had just looked at a post for a GIS specialist for a geology company, a job I could do and do well. I day dreamed about the interview I would like to get. I thought about the currently empty slot of hobbies and interests on my resume. Of the thing I do the one I most likely would put on there would be Cooking/Baking.

People I know have compared cooking to working in a lab setting or working on code to those people this is old hat. I am going to explain why I think that hobby is a quality that is desirable to employers.
Firstly it simply shows initiative, to take control of a problem and solve it for your self rather then out sourcing it to boston pizza or #1 smiling noodle house.

Secondly, creativity. If you cook beyond the point by point break down of a recipe you start to explore play and come up with new things.

Problem solving, job posting always part of a job posting. A little redundant, if you did not have the problem of needed food and a house you would not need the solution of a job. But that aside, cooking represents a day to day example of that. On a nearly daily basis I balance nutrition with flavor and an constantly changing set of ingredients to keep my self happy and filled. To create food out of stuff, translates over to a workspace where the limits of the firms of departments resources constrain what can be done, and there for you have to improvise with in those bounds. Cooking saves money by not outsourcing to consultants.

I did not think of this when I started this post but the social element plays a role. Through food and entertaining, you can shape your space in a group cooking and sharing food with others shows that you play well with others. It says I may have some quirks but overall I am a mostly sane person with friends.

Food it may not say I can do the job from a standing start but it shows damn it I can try and I wont burn the water I promise.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Greetings Bloggies.

My brain is starting to itch. August was good. I had a good time moving in and getting back or in touch with people. It matches the first first level needs I left camp for. Now I find my self in a state of mind that is not quit entirely unlike the long dark tea time of the soul. At some level I have had my fill of leisure.

The shorter version is that I need work. As much as it is needed for the money I need it for the stimulation. Yet I say this I am slow to take action. As has happened before I get irritated with the doing of nothing, having cleaned the house enough. I also start to be come ashamed of my unemployed state. This can result in my hiding at home, not wanting to admit to my self or the world that I have this problem. On monday I went down town to do some foot work only to leave the key peace of paper with important addresses at home. I found that scrap today.

Thankfully the desire to do things is starting to strongly out weigh other forces. Now the part that I really hate is starting, the slog through online postings, in person meet ups and phone calls to get rejected.

I know that on paper I am qualified do a reasonable range of jobs, I can even swing a decent career out of my education and ambition but I can not say with certainty that any thing I am looking at applying for will yield satisfaction. I also know I have to accept those risks, I walked out on a job because it failed at nearly every level all at once and I know that things will fail.

I am starting to write here again because I realized that I need to get my thoughts in order, a month of slackerhood has made me soft. Now I need to put pressure on myself and clear my head. I know I will get pissed off with these ventures but I also know I will not fail our right simply because I have enough drive to get irritated with a static existence.

In the mean time I have chicken stock forming on the stove top, a utility item for later when I will lack the food time have now.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

That Damned Book

Greetings Bloggies.

Some thoughts. Well its September. Now that summer is winding down I can start thinking about about life in a more serious way. I have spent too much of my life in a academic setting to not have September feel a little like the new year. August was largely a month of leisure as I spent the first two and a half weeks just getting my house in order followed by well, I am not sure what exactly. I swept the floor lots.

Today I am writing because I started reading a book I have never had the chance to finish. Last night I finished Mary Roach's Packing for Mars, a book that left me tired for laughing at few points. I would recommend that every one read at least one of her books. Having finished that and being fueled by too much coffee too late in the day I had to find something to read.

As I now have a Kindle knock off, the Kobo, sold at chapters, I have no need to get out to the library or a store for more entertainment. However I was feeling lazy so I did not want to scour the internets for my next book. On a search through the machine I found Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

Me and this book have a history. I have started this book twice. The first time literally more then half my life ago, in grade 8 I had started it. Hell I had made decent progress. In waiting for the bus I got approached by what is now a human being but was then a ass with hormones. The net result of this interaction was the book being thrown on to the school roof. There was not enough time to arrange a rescue before catching the bus. I never saw that edition again.

The second loss is less clear. I know some years later I started reading it again. Yet some how in the flux of people at the parental home it got carried away by some one else unaware of the fact that I was reading it. Or at least that is my working model. Now it is being read on a computer, the text snagged from project Gutenberg. This time I will finish it.