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.