Thursday, October 30, 2008

change of direction

Well, another job not mine. Apparently I don't have sufficient experience with sales goals. I'm not that disappointed, having had a couple days to get over how much I had talked myself into this job, and how much I truly thought having a degree would allow me to walk into a call center job (it won't). I continue to look.

Very probably my best bet it is to leave. I hate to leave Sean behind, but Fredericton.... oh, Maritimes. Don't ever complain to me again that all your young people leave for the west or the south or wherever, chasing the money. As it turns out, we leave chasing money because there is zero money here, and no opportunities except possibly exciting fry-cook opportunities, which we can frankly get anywhere for more money. I understand that my degree isn't in that much demand - I knew that going in - but a degree is a symbol, and right now every honest person who interviews me for something below what they percieve to be a BA level job tells me that they are going to hire someone with less education but more likelihood of sticking around. If that isn't a solid prompt to get out of the area, I don't know what is.

So Sean and I will have to be long-distance for a time, which in theory I can do, but in practice will be draining. I'm applying for JET, and probably a couple Korean English programs as well, and will attempt to do the teaching-english-as-a-second-language thing for a year. It could help a lot with my Foreign Service application for the next round of hiring (I'm going to assume for the time being that I'm not going to be hired this round - obviously, that comes first). It pays reasonably well, and will keep me entertained.

I still need something to do while I wait to see if I'm accepted, though, so the search continues.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

sunday night photo session

Because Michelle was so kind as to post some pictures of her babies today, here's some pictures I managed to snap with Photobooth a minute ago when the shy one decided to hang out on the couch with me and be cute.

Last night's pub crawl, despite being the smallest ever, was pretty fun. We maxed out at, I believe, six participants, though that would be counting both Angus and myself, which only happened for about ten seconds, as he joined the crawl just as I was bailing on account of exhaustion. I'm hoping some of the pictures surface over the next day or so; we tried to fill the photos with as many miscellaneous limbs as possible in order to make it look full. Also, UPS lost the shirts, so we had some fairly ghetto head/armbands Marie's mom made from an old bedsheet and a Sharpie.

Tomorrow, I hope to hear from the recruiting people at CIBC. They're supposed to contact me either way, so let's hope it's good news.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

two hundred and five dots

It was an early morning this morning - though, thanks to my incompetency with alarm clocks, not quite as early as it should have been - and the apartment was trashed, thanks to an impromptu party last night (small, but still messy). Still, I managed to get myself up to campus in one piece on time for my first Public Service Graduate Recuitment Test.

The tests are sort of general, and are all multiple choice. The earliest one was also the hardest, for me - it asks questions like number sequences and figure analogies:

The one above is from the sample test, and let me tell you, it's way easier than the actual test. Luckily they don't really expect you to get them all right; out of 55, I think I probably nailed about half and made intelligent guesses on the rest.

The second was somewhat easier, though it's harder to say how I did. It was on situational judgement, and outlines a hypothetical situation at work, then offers five courses of action, and you have to pick the most effective and the least effective. I really don't know what they consider effective - I disagreed with the sample question, which is a bad sign - but I felt pretty good about it regardless. Another hundred dots.

After a short break, in which I ate possibly the most disgusting chicken salad sandwich I've ever had (it's as though they purposely picked the gristley bits), I wrote the Written Competency exam, which I rocked. Sometimes being a voracious reader and dedicated grammar nazi really helps. I was the first person to leave the room, and I would be surprised if I got more than two or three wrong out of fifty.

And so, there you go. Two hundred and five little dots later, I have finished my tests for the federal government, and now I sit back and wait until my test results roll in (six weeks!) and then wonder if I made the cutoff in marks in order to get to the interview stage.

And now to celebrate... with some non-gross food and a nap. Tonight: Anthropology pub crawl!

Monday, October 20, 2008

fall is nesting season

After a week away, it's nice to be back in the apartment. Tonks is being really needy, which is at once very strange and pretty cute, and mildly annoying (she only socializes at night, so she tries to wake me up to get petted, and pretends to be trapped under the dresser in the middle of the night). Sean fell off the climbing wall on Friday and managed to injure his ankle such that it is hugely swollen but doesn't hurt to walk on; he's been hobbling around on a cane and insists he is still going to be fine to compete in a climbing competition this coming weekend. We'll see.

Now that I'm more or less resigned to the call centre, I'm going to try really, really hard not to talk about it, and instead focus on my other projects, most of which are nesting in the apartment. I've been cleaning up and getting organized today, and I'm hoping to paint the bookshelves in the guest room (affectionately called the fainting room) so that it can start its life as a functioning area of the house. This involves buying paint, though, or settling for Trim White or Apartment Beige, which I'm not really going for.

I actually had a long, complex dream about buying and installing a system of Asker hardware from Ikea in our kitchen. I am going to take it as a sign that maybe that long, blank wall is just asking for it, and get someone near an Ikea to help me acquire the bits and pieces.

Other projects: getting an antique bedframe from Sean's parents' house to here, and finding a mattress and boxspring to fit it to make a daybed/guest bed; converting a half-futon to a windowseat cushion in the hall nook; thinking about painting the dining room. The landlord feels that we should not paint, but I am inclined to disagree. A quick coat of paint would make me a happier person, and is much cheaper than any non-painting wall-covering solution.

Friday, October 17, 2008

xkcd has got my number

This morning's xkcd. It cracked me up because when I checked it, I was still in bed, with my laptop. It makes me wonder how many people are going to check this comic and read it in bed, too.

I've been in the Valley since Sunday (Thanksgiving), relaxing and going to the Fair Trade cafe and going for walks with Mollie and visiting with my parents. I even got to see Julia, who is working at the new radio station here and finally has things falling into place for her. It's good to visit while I have the time - I'm planning to be working at a call center soon (to pay the bills) so I might as well.
I've been writing back and forth with a friend of a friend of my aunt's, who works at the Department of Foreign Affairs and can fill me in a little on the process of getting the job I actually want. It sounds like I wouldn't be interviewing until probably February and then not hearing back about that until the summer, so I do need a job in the interim, and I probably won't get in right away anyway as it's pretty competitive. It's not unexpected, so I'm just going to do whatever I can to be a better candidate and try again next year, but I really hate the idea of working in a job that I'm not interested in for so long. On the plus side, I get to stay with Sean, and Angus, and our friends and apartment, for at least another year, and that's a relief.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

obey the stoat

C/o CuteOverload.

I'm voting Liberal today. Not, it must be said, because I like their issues particularly, or because I think Mr. Dion is persuasive (though I must say I think he gets way more heat than he should for really nebulous reasons, which mostly seem to boil down to "he's just not wacky enough for me"). No, today I am voting Liberal, because I am in Greenwood, and while the majority of this riding doesn't vote Conservative, they are perilously close to taking it because the NDP and Liberal parties are doing some serious votesplitting. While I am all about the various lefty parties - Jack Layton's quips make me snigger, and Elizabeth May is pretty great on a lot of levels - my crushing hatred of the Conservative Party outweighs my inclination to make a point with my vote.
In my last post I mentioned a site, Vote For Environment, that can help you sort out who to vote for if you are similarly inclined. I like them. They have advised my sister and her entire town to vote Green, for example, and I sincerely hope they do. But the important thing, I think, is to vote, full stop. Vote! It is not so horribly inconvenient as all that and it doesn't take much time. Vote vote vote! Baby stoat!

Monday, October 06, 2008

the sketchiest package: a true story

"This is by far the sketchiest package I've ever seen", said the Canada Post girl as she retrieved my parcel.

It was wrapped in cloth, sewn up at the corners, and sealed with red sealing wax on the sides. There was packing tape, and and a big black stamp reading KARACHI, PAKISTAN, and a number of printed postage labels with pricing in rupees in addition to the Canada Post label and my address carefully printed in blue marker.

Parallax tried to attack it.
Inside was a styrofoam brick, and in the middle of the brick was hidden:

New prescription glasses for me! They fit perfectly and the style is exactly what I wanted. I've been wearing them for a few hours and the prescription seems right on with my other glasses.
A catalog photo of just the frames (they are just like their photo):

So how did I get outrageous Pakistani glasses and how much did they cost? They came from Goggles4U, an atrociously named but amazing online glasses emporium, and even including the hilarious packing and the shipping from Pakistan (free), with anti-scratch and anti-reflective coatings, with prescription lenses and nice frames, they were... twenty-six dollars (edit: no customs, either). You can't really argue with that, I think.

Some links:
  • The world's only feline train station-master, Tama, has managed to singlepawedly inject 1.1 billion yen (10.44 million dollars) into her local economy in 2007 alone, with more people using that train line just to see her.
  • Another style blog that intersects with steampunk at times: Dark Style.
  • I hope everyone is going to vote. Much like Newf Premier Danny Williams, I don't mind who people vote for, as long as it's not a Conservative. A lot of people want to throw their votes where they can do the most good, but without information it's hard to do that. If you want to know where your riding is sitting, and who you should vote for to make sure you are pushing out a conservative, check out Vote For Environment, which is basically an extension of Anything But Conservative.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

fevered new dreams

Two days ago I started to get scratchy in the throat, and by last night I was well and truly sick. It's been pouring outside since the middle of the night, and so, between the rain and the cold, I've installed myself on the couch under a blanket and plan to stay here all day, possibly moving back to bed to try and sleep this off, but nothing more strenuous.

I've been reading up on the life of a Foreign Service Officer, and am learning a lot. For one thing, I haven't found any Canadian FSOs who blog (though I'm sure there are some). In fact, most FSO-related blogs aren't the officers themselves, but their spouses and children, many of whom tell the sad stories I've heard all my life about postings - being uprooted, saying goodbye, moving huge distances and starting over. At the same time, it's not like I'd be moving children or 102-lb dogs. Sean's pretty portable, and I think he could handle it - he could even be an FSO himself if he wanted (Economics degrees are in demand).
A lot of the FSO blogs out there are American, which is interesting because they seem to have a different sort of process. As far as the DFA website shows, once you've applied and have written your tests, you are either accepted or not - no mention of oral exams or even interviews. If anyone knows more about the process, please let me know.