Back and More

My temporary maple leaf tattooI’m real­ly tired as I write this — it seems I’ve been tired a lot late­ly (lack of sleep per­haps due to the unusu­al hot nights we’ve been get­ting this week, etc.). Nev­er­the­less, I want­ed to try and update this blog before it got much more stale. And it was get­ting quite stale indeed. No crunch left at all. (See, I told you I was get­ting tired).

So what has hap­pened in the past 3 weeks or so?

  1. The rest of the trip went with­out any trans­porta­tion prob­lems (aside from a cou­ple of hours on the run­way at Laguardia, but from what I hear, that’s par for the course for most US trav­el this summer.)
  2. I got to hear my Nom­i­na­tive Pre­lude: Cas­tles in the Air played by the pianist to whom it was ded­i­cat­ed, Pat Plude, and it was a great expe­ri­ence. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard any­thing that I’ve writ­ten, and I’ve come to the con­clu­sion that I have to try to write more music. It’s just a hard thing to do, requir­ing a lot of time and ener­gy, so I think I’ll only do it, for the time being, unless I know I’ll get a per­for­mance. I have enough unper­formed music (an Orches­tral Tone Poem, a cou­ple of cham­ber works — one for Vio­lin, Vio­la and Piano, a short work for Piano, Celeste and Vibra­phone, a study for 2 pianos that I wrote in col­lege, and a half of a Cham­ber Opera — all that have nev­er been heard out­side of my mind or their notes banged out in a prac­tice room or piano some­where) to last me for quite a while, thanks.
  3. I saw a few old friends at the Walden School Reunion, but sur­pris­ing­ly, the years that I attend­ed (the late 70s) were some­what under­rep­re­sent­ed. I saw plen­ty of peo­ple who were old­er than I was by about 20 or 30 years, and also sev­er­al who were 20 years my junior, but few who were my age. It made for a unique social situation.
  4. I had a great time vis­it­ing my par­ents, and was able to enjoy some qui­et hours surf­ing the web on their back deck. Warm, breezy after­noons in the shade with hum­ming­birds and wi fi, as well as gourmet meals (both out and at home) are what I will remem­ber the most from this trip.
  5. That missed oppor­tu­ni­ty on the road was yet anoth­er of those times in life where you think you’ve missed the boat, only to find a much bet­ter ves­sel float in behind it. Yes, anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty pre­sent­ed itself a week and a half ago. I had an inter­view at IBM (yes, that IBM) for a 6‑month con­tract as an Infor­ma­tion Architect/UI Design­er. There was a mes­sage from them in the affir­ma­tive before I made it home from the inter­view (!). A new record, the guy at the agency plac­ing me said. So in about 11 days, my life changes sig­nif­i­cant­ly, as I say good-bye to my cur­rent part-time employ­er, and hel­lo to a new con­tract in Burn­a­by. It’s a bit of a dis­tance from here (about an hour’s com­mute on the bus­es and sky­train). Hope­ful­ly I’ll be able to use that time to catch up on pod­casts and books on tape. Too bad that I can’t com­pose on the sky­train. I think I’ll ded­i­cate my next blog post­ing to my old employ­er, who deserves some men­tion (I’ve always been real­ly care­ful about the work vs. per­son­al life vs. loud mur­mur thing.)
  6. We cel­e­brat­ed Cana­da Day this year with some (tem­po­rary) tat­toos of the Maple Leaf (see above). We’ve even had a chance to cel­e­brate my new con­tract with a love­ly din­ner at Bridges with a view of the sunset.
  7. Have I got­ten caught up? Well, a few oth­er things:

    In 4 days, we’ll have been liv­ing in British Colum­bia 2 years. We took out a 2‑year mort­gage on this con­do, so with any luck, we’ll be all paid-up in about 6 days. We haven’t thought about a mort­gage burn­ing par­ty (It sounds so won­der­ful­ly 1960-ish, does­n’t it?) but maybe we’ll do that.

    The time spent trav­el­ing tru­ly showed me that I do indeed belong here in Van­cou­ver. Despite some nice expe­ri­ences on my trip to the East­ern US, I did real­ly miss this place, and was extreme­ly hap­py to return to the beau­ti­ful city and moun­tains I now, with­out any doubt, call home.

Petty Theft

I should have been more on guard. I should have hand­ed my wal­let to Pam, who was out­side the dress­ing room. Instead, all it took was less than 4 sec­onds, while I shift­ed atten­tion to her, mod­el­ing the shorts I was think­ing of pur­chas­ing, for some guy to dive into the dress­ing room, rifle through my jeans, and grab it.

I real­ized the theft of my wal­let in almost as short a time, but it was already too late. The guy (and I know it was a guy, as it was the men’s Fit­ting Room area) was already long gone. There were no wit­ness­es, of course. So, we hur­ried back home, where I:

  1. Called my bank to can­cel all of my cred­it cards that I had with them as well as my ATM card
  2. Called the Van­cou­ver Police Depart­ment, where I report­ed the theft and got a case number
  3. Called the bank back and told them the case num­ber. They need­ed this because appar­ent­ly the thief had enough time to pay for park­ing with one of the cards before we can­celed it.
  4. Called the oth­er cred­it card com­pa­nies with my card infor­ma­tion. This includ­ed 2 oth­er companies.
  5. Filled out a replace­ment form for my Health Care Card (with a cheque for $20)
  6. Mean­while, Pam con­tact­ed the Build­ing Super, and had my door access card deactivated.

There will be more to do in the com­ing days. I can get a tem­po­rary ATM card at the bank on Mon­day, and anoth­er $17 will pay for a replace­ment dri­ver’s license. There was about $50 cash in the wal­let, which is fair­ly typ­i­cal, and that will be a total loss. I’ll also have to pay for the replace­ment access card for home. Also a bunch of oth­er minor annoy­ances: A library card I’ll have to get replaced, a card for OneZe­ro Sushi on Pen­der that I had about 5 stamps in. A Star­bucks card with about $5.00 left on it.

All in all, I fig­ure I’ll have lost about $100–150 from this crime. Not to men­tion get­ting a sour stom­ach and a ruined day.

One last met­ric that I learned from the expe­ri­ence: my case num­ber at the Van­cou­ver Police was 07- fol­lowed by a 6 dig­it num­ber that began 1105. I asked the woman tak­ing my infor­ma­tion, and yes, there were some 110,500+ crimes (small, big, or what­ev­er else there can be in between) that were report­ed (not sure if it was Van­cou­ver only, or out­ly­ing areas as well) since New Year’s Day of 2007. Makes you think.

Don’t know whether I’ll go back to Sears or not any time soon. This has cer­tain­ly made me dis­trust their secu­ri­ty setup.

Update: The guy used $7.85 on the Star­bucks card, but I just caught it and can­celled it with $5 left on in my account. Take that, you dirt-bag!

Catching Up

How to cov­er so much that has hap­pened since my last post? As is often the case, I hold off on new entries when I’m about to upgrade Word­Press, and then put off doing the upgrade, which makes the gap wider, which makes me put off the upgrade, mak­ing this a vicious cycle. Well, cycle bro­ken. Now, on to what went on dur­ing the gap:
Matt and OanaA Wed­ding
Our friends Matt and Oana got mar­ried. We feel par­tic­u­lar­ly priv­i­leged to have known both of them through all of the stages of courtship, engage­ment, and now get­ting hitched (they are on their hon­ey­moon as I write this). The Roman­ian Ortho­dox cer­e­mo­ny was unlike any­thing either of us had ever seen, com­plete with chant­i­ng, incense, tin crowns, and all sorts of oth­er eth­nic touch­es that one does­n’t encounter in most mar­riage cer­e­monies. We were both a lit­tle thrown off by the absence of any music for the pro­ces­sion­al or reces­sion­al, the talk­ing, pass­ing out of can­dy, and oth­er eccen­tric­i­ties dur­ing the cer­e­mo­ny by many of the rel­a­tives, and a cho­rus of women women singing a repeat­ed refrain to the priest (which I lat­er found out was rough­ly the equiv­a­lent of the Latin ‘Kyrie Elei­son’ ). As I also found out lat­er, we could have also been treat­ed to mag­ic tricks, sto­ries, and bear train­ing, so in ret­ro­spect, it was a pret­ty restrained event. But get those Roma­ni­ans danc­ing at the recep­tion! That was anoth­er thing entire­ly. The recep­tion was a blast. Matt and Oana had char­tered a boat that cir­cled in and around the Van­cou­ver area, includ­ing points as far north and west as Light­house Point, as far east as the Iron­work­er’s Bridge, into False Creek and all the way down to the Sci­ence Cen­tre and out again. Despite a lit­tle driz­zle, it was quite smooth and com­fort­able, and we all enjoyed an absolute­ly spec­tac­u­lar din­ner includ­ing salmon (of course), chick­en, veg­eta­bles and a piece of an enor­mous wed­ding cake pro­vid­ed by one of Oana’s rel­a­tives. We all had a great time and were glad we could be with them for the event, which I’m sure will be remem­bered fond­ly by all who attend­ed for a long time.

The Blog­ger Meetup
This month­ly event been cov­ered by many oth­ers, includ­ing Jan and John, so I’ll keep this brief. We con­gre­gat­ed at Cup­pa Joe on Broad­way and Main, who pro­vid­ed cof­fee, pas­tries and free wifi. At one point it almost seemed as if we would out­grow the room but we moved chairs around and some of us adapt­ed. It’s nice to be a part of a group of so many clever peo­ple and we often find the con­ver­sa­tions mov­ing from one top­ic to the next at furi­ous speed: the state of James Doohan’s (Scot­ty from Star Trek) ash­es to video­con­fer­enc­ing to ‘The Secret’. A few new atten­dees also livened things up, and cam­eras caught a lot of us in mid-sen­tence (or laugh!) I regret that I’ll have to miss next mon­th’s meet­ing, as I’ll be back East vis­it­ing friends and fam­i­ly then.

Eat! Van­cou­ver
We made it for the sec­ond time to the food show that takes over BC Place (the air-sup­port­ed dome that had a bit of a defla­tion prob­lem this last win­ter). Once again we tast­ed, sipped and nib­bled on all sorts of free sam­ples and got tons of recipes and coupons. I noticed a big growth in the num­ber and type of bev­er­ages, includ­ing not only teas and soft drinks, but vit­a­min-waters, juices, con­cen­trates, smooth­ies, and cof­fees. I won­der if the fast pace of peo­ple’s lives is favor­ing liq­uids as they are eas­i­er to take with you in a bot­tle or can, and hence, a grow­ing mar­ket in that sector.
We man­aged to make the demo by Rob Fee­nie, Van­cou­ver’s most famous chef, who is actu­al­ly quite a local celebri­ty. He demoed a recipe for minia­ture ham­burg­ers made from shred­ded short rib meat, which I have to say was not a very unusu­al dish, at least in terms of ingre­di­ents and cook­ing method; Pam was shocked as I con­sis­tent­ly knew what he was going to say or do next (‘now he’s going to add some mire­poix — chopped onions, cel­ery and carrots…now he’s going to deglaze the pan with some wine or broth’…etc.)

My New Strategist
After my trou­bles with my Career Man­age­ment com­pa­ny did­n’t improve (and in fact, they seemed to me to get worse), I told them that things weren’t work­ing, and that I need­ed a dif­fer­ent strate­gist. They agreed, and tomor­row I meet with the new strate­gist. Here’s hop­ing they can help me and can work with me a bit bet­ter. So far I’ve been hit­ting a series of brick walls, and I’m try­ing real­ly hard not to get dis­cour­aged dur­ing this period.

Com­ing Up
Besides my meet­ing with my new strate­gist tomor­row, that evening I’m plan­ning on attend­ing the big mul­ti­me­dia con­cert and Con­tem­po­rary Shad­ow Play, ‘Semar’s Jour­ney’ by the Game­lan I used to play in, Madu Sari. Since I’m still on their mail­ing list, I’ve been see­ing the amount of rehearsals they’ve been sched­ul­ing and frankly I don’t know how I could have done it. I hope it goes well; they cer­tain­ly have worked hard to pre­pare for it.

The weath­er con­tin­ues to be gor­geous, and the sun­shine stays until just after 9:00 at night. Van­cou­ver sum­mer is just about upon us, and it’s always worth the wait.

A Beautiful Day and Career Counseling from the Pointy-Haired Boss

Pam and I made every excuse we could for one more errand out in this sparkling, crisp (sounds like a soft drink) day. All of that rain has result­ed in flow­ers and green every­where, and we could see moun­tain ranges to the North from Broad­way that I don’t think we’d ever seen before, or at least not this well.

We got lots of odds and ends, and in gen­er­al, pre­pared for Pam’s trip that will take her to our old haunts in Boston, her broth­er’s fam­i­ly in West Spring­field, Mass­a­chu­setts, and a final stop in Min­neapo­lis for the STC (Soci­ety for Tech­ni­cal Com­mu­ni­ca­tion) Con­ven­tion. She’ll be on the road for near­ly 3 weeks. I hope none of her Koi die while under my care.

As for me, I get to con­tin­ue my job search, which has con­tin­ued with help from friends and a new career man­age­ment com­pa­ny that I’ve signed on with. The lat­ter has involved lots of def­i­n­i­tion of career goals, com­pil­ing ‘nar­ra­tives’ of my work accom­plish­ments to date, and meet­ings with my assigned con­tact at their offices. I leave off names and com­pa­nies here for a rea­son: The meet­ings, and my inter­ac­tions with this per­son are not going as well as I would hope. Why? As it turns out, the per­son who is to be my advo­cate, coach and advis­er at this com­pa­ny is decid­ed­ly non-tech­ni­cal. Real­ly non-tech­ni­cal, as in not know­ing much about the Inter­net, Com­put­ers, the Web, or any­thing remote­ly relat­ed to Tech­nol­o­gy. This has proved…challenging to me and is fair­ly trou­bling. After all, how can some­one advise you on your career if they have absolute­ly no under­stand­ing of what you do to begin with? 

Case in Point: At our last meet­ing, they brought up their Sav­ings and Loan’s web page on their screen, turned it to me and asked point-blank: “Is that all you do”? I was a lit­tle tak­en aback. “Yes, I answered, after a moment of silence where I held back the urge to lean across their desk and punch them in the face, “But that’s not all of it. It’s like ask­ing a Fur­ni­ture Design­er if all they design is chairs.”

While it’s a good thing for me to make sure that I can relate to a non-tech­ni­cal per­son (which is not some­thing I usu­al­ly have a prob­lem with; I’m a self-admit­ted geek but I am a result of a Lib­er­al Arts Edu­ca­tion), I have to say that rewrit­ing my resumé so that all of the tech­no­log­i­cal ref­er­ence are either elim­i­nat­ed or sim­pli­fied is not some­thing I would have done on my own, and I won­der if it’s going to serve me well. Will I have a ‘David for Dum­mies’ ver­sion of my resumé that I trot out for some­one who I think will give me a blank look if I men­tion the words ‘User Inter­face’? Then again, how would some­one like that ever be inter­view­ing me for a job in the first place?

On Tues­day, I am to appear for my meet­ing in for­mal job inter­view attire. Accord­ing to their rules, that’s a dark suit and tie. 

Techies in Van­cou­ver: When was the last time you appeared for a meet­ing in suit and dark tie? It’s not that I don’t have one, or haven’t worn one in my life, but it seems to rein­force the idea that these peo­ple have no freak­ing clue what­so­ev­er what tech cul­ture is like.

If this con­tin­ues to irk me and inter­feres with my job search, I may request a dif­fer­ent per­son to work with, which may prove a bit uncom­fort­able for all con­cerned. Nev­er­the­less, I’m going to give that some seri­ous thought. In the mean­time, it’s back to my old resumé, which I’m try­ing to use to cre­ate more ‘nar­ra­tives’: “Once upon a time, there was a need for a click­able HTML pro­to­type…” (*Doh!*)