Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gainfully unemployed

Yeah, so, I came back from our trip to the USA to find I no longer had a job.  Retrenched, redundant, downsized.

I'm not distressed.  It's a bad time of year to be looking for work -- not just because of Christmas, but because Australia seems to have an additional holiday immediately afterward known as "January" (similar to the one in Europe known as "August").  But there still seem to be jobs to be had out there.  If I find something before Christmas, great; but if not, I'm not going to sweat it.  I'm just trying to get my ducks in a row -- rework my CV, skill up, canvas lists of companies, etc.  My days are full and I'm a far sight from unhappy.  And of course the dog is happy to have me.

The time off also gives me time to get my life in order a bit.  People write entire self-help books about it but here's what works for me:

  • Actively using an online to-do list site.  I use todoist.com (but there are lots of others); I've been on it for a long time but not actively until these last two weeks.
  • Only schedule for tomorrow.  In the evening pull in a short list of tasks you think you can get done.  Leave everything else unscheduled.
  • Make sure you have at least one simple task in the day's to-do list.  If you don't have a simple one to pull in, make one up.
  • Do the simple tasks first on a given day.  This gets the ball rolling and starts the feeling of accomplishment.  And the harder, more important tasks will be a lot easier to concentrate on when you have fewer tasks hanging over your head.
  • Make sure there's something each day that gets you out of the house!
Still, I'm finding it curious that (like everyone else it seems) I'm capable of putting in eight hour days for forty-some weeks of a year doing stuff for other people, but the idea of doing a solid eight-hour day doing stuff just for myself seems onerous.  I'm continually breaking up my tasks by running Hamish up to the cafe or something.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Thoughts on our most recent trip back to the USA



This visit back was a reminder of how pretty the United States is, especially in Autumn. We don’t have the same dramatic colours here in Melbourne. Culturally the US seems more and more foreign to me each visit back as well. I think this is probably equally attributed to my getting older and just being out of touch with pop culture as it is with the time away.

Crystal Bridges museum is definitely worth a visit if you ever find yourself in the vicinity (Bentonville, AR). The museum was truly world class, all that Walmart money is good for something, and there’s a lot happening outside the main building as well, including a Frank Lloyd Wright house and a beaver in the creek both of which I will have to return to see as it was way too cold to spend time outside the day we visited.
Rainbow narcosis, a video installation I watched at Crystal Bridges is so bizarre and oddly delightful (though warped) that I needed to link it here: http://vimeo.com/68236151

New York - This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well, but my opinion remains unrevised, while I enjoy visiting I really don’t want to live in NYC. Mark on the other hand would love living there. For me, the city's too crowded, I'm too claustrophobic to ever really relax in New York, though I do like the mania.

The slogan for the New York lottery is “hey, you never know” this amused us muchly during our visit.

This was an especially busy return trip for me as I had reunions with several friends I hadn't seen in years. I caught up with several friends from my university days (Tim, Tom, Bob, Rich and Lana) and finally caught up with my good friend Karen, and even managed to see a friend from Melbourne whose moved to North America (Elise). Inevitably there are people we don't see on our return visits though, and we can only hope to catch up with them the next time round.




Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Stateside

So we're back in the USA for a visit.  Flying into and out of New York City just because we'd been meaning to make it back here for a while.  We just have a day here -- today -- on the front end so we just bopped around midtown, shopping and such, for most of the day.  We're staying in a hotel that backs onto the Empire State Building which is pretty cool.  I could write a long post here about New York but I want to talk about something else.

The differences between our home and adopted countries remains a continual source of interest.  After twelve years away it's mostly subtle things that come to our attention, or things that we've always noticed but never fully internalized, and sometimes it's complimentary to one country, sometimes the other.  The theme of this trip seems to be how much Americans overshare their personal lives, and how they all seem to have pet opinions that everyone must surely be interested in.  These are distinctly unAustralian traits.

On the leg of this trip where we flew from LA to NYC, the people in the row behind us had a loud conversation for much of the trip, which we had no real choice about eavesdropping on.  In the middle was a beleaguered Russian immigrant who was going to be working as a translator.  On either side of her were two New Yorkers who regaled her with their life stories, in exquisite detail.  The guy (Barry) especially -- I know so much about his life right now that I could do an identity theft on him, no doubt.  This went on for at least an hour.  The Russian woman was only giving polite, modest answers; we can't help but wonder what her opinion of Americans is from this.

Then at dinner tonight at Grimaldi's, we were forced to eavesdrop again.  At the next table a young software developer regaled his date with an unending monologue about his opinions about everything; opinions he clearly held in high regard.  She didn't get more than five seconds of uninterrupted dialogue for the whole hour.  We wanted to punch him by the end.

Obviously you can't generalize about a whole culture from a few isolated incidents, but these things certainly match America's reputation, and we've almost certainly been guilty of them ourselves.  And of course a few negative traits do not define a country; we're having a great time here amongst "our people" and have also seen a lot of small kindnesses.

Friday, September 19, 2014

New office

[Taps microphone] Is this thing on?

More a test of who's still following, so drop a comment if you're reading...

Anyway, my company has moved offices, and I've been loving it, despite being on support for the first week.  My explorer gene has kicked in; I'm never more happy than when I have a new area to explore.

Here's a shot of the area right in front of our new place.  Panoramic shots don't seem to fly as Facebook pictures, or on Imgur; I think no one can be bothered to actually zoom in.  But still, I've added a few annotations...


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Nostalgia

Hey family -- remember this commercial?  The jingle popped into my head after... four decades?  That's good jingle.  So I decided to Google it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Friend

Hamish made quick friends with this dog the other day.  They chased the ball non-stop for twenty minutes and finally took a break.  They were thick as thieves at this point.

Frosty morning

It's been seriously cold this week with no real relief in sight.  Our house does not heat terribly well so we are left to bundle up and shiver.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Olives

Trying to cure some olives that we picked off the tree in the backyard again this year.

Photogenic dog

Maybe we are biased, but we think Hamish is a good looking dog.

Veggies a la Mark


Recipe for Veggies a la Mark

Chop squash, zucchini, okra, water chestnuts, green chili (optional: baby corns, broccoli, cauliflower).  Fry on one side in vegetable oil.  Flip everything, season to taste, add chopped Chinese cabbage or chard, and a spoonful of ground red chili, and maybe a splash of stir fry sauce or rice wine vinegar, and fry for another minute.

I do this a couple of times a week these days.  Delicious.