dal niente

Month: July, 2014

IELTS

Despite being born and in Canada, and having taught English as a profession, I’m going to be taking an IELTS exam this Saturday to boost my application for permanent residency in Australia.

I’m told it’s actually more difficult than people expect, so I’m studying for it right now.

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Jobber

It’s sunday evening in Australia and things are going good.  Life in general I mean is just going really so much better than a month ago.  That probably explains why I haven’t been blogging as much as I usually do unfortunately, because I’m to busy doing things to sit down and write.

 

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The only problem is that my current work schedule makes it almost impossible for me to do any judo.  I guess that’s not a terrible thing since my left knee is still a bit crook, but it would be nice to get some consistent exercise in somehow. I think maybe once my contract with the new job is over and I settle in as a solicitor, I’ll start biking to the CBD everyday to shed the pounds.

 

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I don’t know if I mentioned this, but my boss at the firm basically offered me a permanent position.  After I’m qualified as a solicitor in about October, I’ll have a solicitor’s position waiting for me.  That’s basically all that I needed– I needed a professional means of supporting myself.  Spending over $100k on a law degree means that I need a lawyer’s job to pay off my debts, as well as finally start getting to the family stuff that I’ve always wanted to with [CM].

The employment law firm I work at is great.  The boss is really open with us, and I feel that there’s an opportunity to talk about everything and anything (when time permits anyhow).  This means that I have really flexible work arrangements– convenient for someone who is partnered to a  med student.  It means that I can head to work whenever I want (I have the keys) and log in my 7 or so hours.  I can flex it mostly.

I’m at a point in my life where the quality of the work and the work environment is more impoartant to me than the pay, so I really lucked out in nailing this job.  Looking back at the posts from 6 months ago when I first started working here, there was a lot of apprehensiveness in my life about not knowing where this work would lead, and if spending all my time at a small firm as a paralegal might be a bad career move.  TUrns out that it paid off to spend the time here, actively engaging and helping to build up the practice.

 

I was told last week that I should start having a think of the terms to put in my employment contract.  I mean, as an employment law paralegal who is going to be a fully fledged trainee solicitor in a few months, I guess writing my own employment contract is a pretty good way to start?

 

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The timing of it all is a bit strange, but I guess I can’t complain too much.  My boss at the employment law firm basically told me that she wanted me on the team permanently– but basically, this offer came after I accepted a 3-day per week job at the educational institution in the CEO’s personal assistant role.  I guess basically there were a lot of assumptions made on both our parts– I assumed that the frim was too small to hire me, and the boss assumed that I knew that there was a spot for me.  So it was only after I told her that I was reducing my availability to 2 days per week because of a 3 month project with the educational institution that I guess it was a bit of a wake up call for us to make formal communications.

Until now, I have been a casual worker– which in Australian terms means that you can be basically terminated without any notice.  We had an agreement that I would be working at least 2 days per week, which is why I signed on for 3 months of 3 days per week with the educaitonal institute.

 

Anyway, the work for the educational institute is interesting stuff– well, at least I hope it will be. I start my first day tomorrow.

 

Tonight, I’ll have to read up on teh company– I’ve got a binder of literally over 200 pages of annual reports, project outlines, and all sorts of other business-y things that I don’t eve know what they are– I’m not a commercially trained person after all.  And that’s the whole point of this experience.

 

More on this after I’ve worked a few days there.

Hajime

In the lobby of the College of Law, I wait to be picked up by the assistant of my new employer.

Arrow

I’ve been meaning to start watching Breaking Bad because of all the recommendations I’ve been getting.  I will get to that next.

RIght now, I’m running through every episode of Arrow that has ever been made.

I grew up reading comic books– in particular, Batman comics.  I see so many similar ideas between Arrow and Batman comics; I don’t necessarily feel that’s a bad thing or a good thing though. It is what it is– there’s always going to be superhero tropes that every comic goes through.

I don’t know enough about Green Arrow comics to know how canonical Arrow as a television show is, but I know a thing or two about Justice League and Birds of Prey comics, so generally, the DC universe in which all these characters exist.

Arrow is a lot of fun, I think.  It reminds me a lot of Smallville (the first 4 or 5 seasons, before it became unwatchable to me).

But there’s one thing that annoys the shit out of me.  Or rather, one person: Laurel.

Laurel is essentailly the Arrow version of Smallville’s Lana.  It is essentially a terribly written character who is supposed to be the main character’s ambiguous love interest.  It doesn’t really matter whether I speak of Laurel or Lana, because they’re both absolutely useless women who annoy the shit out of me.  I’ll just merge both characters into [LL] because they essentially are identical.

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LL is everything in a woman that  a guy in his right mind would simply steer clear of because she’s way too high maintenance.  She’s fiercely independent, but all that is an illusion because she actually has zero control over her own life.  She’s prone to making snap judgements based on outrage and anger.  She is incapable of patience, and extremely prone to hipocrisy.  You can never really trust anything she says, because, frankly, she has no idea what she’s saying due to an intense aversion to introspection.

The only purpose of LL is to make the protagonist’s life hell through sheer inconsistency.

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I’m not sure who writes for Smallville or Arrow, but it’s a terrible character design which enforces my general view that the comic book industry needs more female writers.  THis is, of course, assuming that female writers will be less prone to writing mysogonist bullshit to stroke the egos of mostly male viewers who think they identify with a protagonist who has knight-in-shinning-armour syndrome.  The essential function of LL is to be so broken an chaotic that, you can rescue her a billion times– you will never save her because she’s fucking crazy.  Ah, but you see– that’s the whole point!  Save her once, save her twice, save her three times– this is the ideal superhero (as opposed to the ideal superheroine):  He’s the selfless man who keeps on saving those in need, no matter how great that need is, and no matter how much personal sacrifice.

While it is certainly fun to fight evil and stuff, and I love comics for all their absurdity, I’d like some female characters who are actually interesting for a change.  Female characters who don’t just go batshit insane just so that we can have another episode of saving or fighting or making up or rejecting the protagonist.  A female character, especially the “love interest” of the protagonist, should never be just a randomisable accessory.

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If you want an interesting female character, check out Claire Danes’ character Carrie Matheson in Homeland seasons 1 and 2.

Managing Stresses

[CM] is great at a lot o things, and that’s largely because she is so passionate about the things she does engage in.  That means that she has high expectations for herself and those around her, and tends to view the world through lenses made for that goal.

It’s no surprise that, as a result, when she’s worked hard for things, she gets extra upset when she doesn’t get the result she wanted.  I’m not talking about studying for a test and then getting a bad grade– more along the lines of studying generally to becoming a doctor, and being passed up for jobs because of a system that favours students based on citiznship rather than merits.

The way that the trainee job placements work in most of Australia is that local students are guaranteed spots in city hospitals upon graduation.  This means that while CM is constantly stressing over getting references just so that she can make a competitive application for a rural placement (in essentially buttfuck nowhere), local students with half her ability, half her drive, and half her personality are worrying about problems like whether or not there is free parking at their hospital of choice, or if there is good food.  This angers me because I know plenty of international students who work ridiculously hard– and they’re only fighting eachother, because those are the only tablescraps left.

CM once confronted one of her friends about the ongoing first world problems that they were constantly asking CM’s opinion on— something which I think is in pretty bad taste.  Whereas the locals have automatic guranteed placements, internationals like CM and some of our other friends have only a 1 in 3 chance of getting a job in a lottery, which is why they try so hard to get rural places– because there is the very real possibility that while locals worry about free parking and cafeteria food, international students — who have worked their asses off for the past four years, and paid the full unsubsidised tuition that funds the medical schools’ otherwise impossible budgets– may simply find themselves done their degrees with nothing afterwards.

Anyway, CM just commented on the side to her friend that the whole conversation was really exhausting to her– and that friend, referring to the parking and cafeteria discussions, said, “It’s normal that they talk about it so much though… they’re really worried too about job security.”

Job security?

I’m not sure where she picked up that buzzword, but, in case you didn’t know, job security has nothing to do with whether or not you get free parking.  Job security is about whether or not you’re going to lose your job.

That friend went on to argue that the local students’ “job security” worries were every bit as much valid as the internationals’, because these are real questions that will affect their futures forever.

I know that friend.  She’s loosely a friend of mind as well, but frankly, she’s an airhead.

Unfortunately though, the ostracisation of international students in general perpetuates because a lot of local med students share that friend’s worldview.  These are people who have gone to med school straight from high school, or straight from an undergrad degree straight from high school, who have no worldly experience.  We’re talking about people who are going to be interns and residents with authority in a few years, who still get driven to their hospitals and get bagged lunches from their parents.

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I called my parents up long-distance this morning to catch up on things.  They told me a recent story about one of my cousins, [Vittek], at a picnic.  My mom asked Vittek why he wasn’t eating any of the sandwiches– Vittek’s mom responded that he doesn’t like eating anything except hot food (essentially, cooked meals).

My mom joked that when Vittek finds a girlfriend, he better make sure she can cook, otherwise he’ll starve.  Vittek’s response?  “Or, I can just stay at home forever!”

Now in his mid thirties, Vittek, like his older sister, still live at home, where the majority of the cooking and household upkeep is run by my Aunt.  Do you think that’s normal?

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People tell me “it’s a cultural thing,” but I don’t buy that crap.  Culture is what you get from people exercising habits and functions– things happen a way for a reason.  When that reason makes sense, a lot of people do that thing, and that’s where you get culture.

Culture can and should evolve– easy exampe is how religions can and must evolve to the times.  Those that fall behind start losing connection with the world, while those that adapt tend to be more successful or more tolerated.

This whole 50s era Asian culture where kids stay at home until they are married, where moms are housewives and wait on even the children hand and foot, it’s all bullshit.  It’s  typical externalisation-of-costs model whereby the family model is inefficient– something that is most easily demonstrated by the family mode’s inability to adapt to changes or extreme stressors.

This model is as compared to one where there is a more “horizontal management” style, where family burdens are shared and everybody is good at everything.

If you have the typical Asian top-down method, you run into all sorts of problems.  First of it is the psychological power of those in charge for no reason other than age– and the resultant dependancy of the subordinates to the head of the family.  The head of the family doesn’t necessarily make good decisions, for one thing.  But everyone who is subordinate loses the ability to think or function without orders.  They lack independence and drive.

What if a head of the family gets sick?  The response is usually pretty  bad, because suddenly everything grinds to a halt.

What if the subordinates go out into the real world?

In the real world, they’re suckers because they don’t know how to work for themselves.   On one hand, they’ve always been used to being told what to do.  On another hand, the support system of the home meant that althought they got ordered around, they were pampered and spoiled– and that means when interacting with normal people, they lack many basic foundations when it comes to relating with people in the workforce.

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Actually, my life is going pretty well right now.  I’m just cutting my rant short because there’s too much to say about momma’s boys and people with first world problems.

It isn’t that there is a heirarchy of problems, and that my problems are superior– it’s a complicated rage that I feel towards people who speak out of positions of entitlement.  It is also a complicated rage that I feel towards Asian family models that encourage their kids to believe erroneously that their children are special, either especially brilliant or worthless, because of outdated ideas of culture which they lack the courage to confront.

Most of all, I have a complicated rage to people who coast through life at the expense of others.

On the Hatching of Eggs

Yesterday, I was offered a job by an educational institute that handles the pre-qualification legal education that goes on in this area.  Basically, all those pesky things that you have to do before you can qualify for a solicitor’s license?  I am soon going to be working for them.

 

I’m going to be keeping my job with the employment law firm that I work at though. I’ll be doing employment law twice a week, and working for the educational institute 3 times a week.  That gives me a full time week and a nice diversified workload.

 


 

I’m pretty excited about the way things are turning out for me.  I haven’t had much time to post lately because things have been just one thing after another– and where does all that time go?  I was having a short catch-up dinner with some law school classmates a few days ago, and came to the shocking realisation that one of my classmates had been dating her “new” boyfriend for 5 months.  It felt like just a few weeks ago that she was still single, going on dates every day of the week with a new guy she’d found through internet dating sites– and suddenly, 5 months had just happened?  


 

Time does fly.  Since the last time I I posted substantially, a lot of things have been happening.  I’ve finished uni– I think I may have written about that.  I don’t have my final grades yet, but the last interaction I’ve had with university was my submission of application for honours.

I’ve finished the coursework component of the pre-licensing courses– all that remains is for me to complete 75 days of lawyer-like work under supervision and I’ll be qualified to apply for the New South Wales solicitors license.  Yay!


 

I’ve been doing hella interesting work at the employment law firm– which makes me happy.  It’s a different task every day almost, and oftentimes, it’s something I have no clue about.  It’s challenging to say the least– but it’s a very different feeling from learning things in class.

Fundamentally, my problem with school and academics lately is that I’m at the stage where everything I was learning was very niche and necessarily complicated– meaning, a lot of brain power to find theoretical solutions to things that don’t often matter.  Add on top of that the fact that I was paying the schools to basically give me busywork, and well, motivation is pretty tough.

I really think that a lot of the university circle of life is professors outsourcing unwitting students to do research essays about topics the students don’t give a shit about, but which the professors use as essentially pre-chewed information and footnotes for their own publications.  We’re basically their bots and webrcrawlers, except that not only are we sophisticated enough to discern academic journals from random webpages, but all that sophistication comes free.


 

I haven’t been to judo in two weeks because the work schedule has had me finishing often later than 17:00– and judo starts at 17:30, at a location roughly 40 minutes away. I don’t mind showing up late, but I don’t like doing that because I don’t really get much of a warmup before going right into things.


 

[CM] is at that point in 4th year medicine where she’s been doing interviews for rural trainee placements.  It’s been a really tough time for her, and by association, a tough time for me– she’s just so down on the institutional lack of opportunities, considering the promises that these universities make to you when you’re signing up for med, as well as the general treatment of international students as second-rate just because of their visa status. 

A large part of the reason why I haven’t been going to judo over the past few weeks is because I’ve been increasingly worried about her mental health.  It’s a bit better now that the applications have all been sent out.  But these past few months have been far from easy.

 

She’s been talking about the possibility that we should live apart for a couple of years and see eachother on weekends if she gets a placement in rural New South Wales.  She’d live about 6 hours by train away, or an hour by plane.  The idea is that if rural is the only chance she gets, that I shouldn’t throw away the great chances I’ve had with my current employment law gig and with the educational institution.

 

I mean, I see where she’s coming from on this idea– careers are important right? But I don’t know yet. I didn’t come all the way to Australia just so that she could move to a corner of it that I wasn’t at.


 

I am getting fat.  Doing 2 weeks of no judo, and eating every bit as much, is not doing me any favours.  Actually, now that I work in the CBD, it’s probably worse– I’m eating take-out fast-food type things every lunch now, and that probably isn’t good for me.

 


 

I’m excited about the new job. I go in to meet the team on Monday– it’s not a law job, not exactly anyway.  I’m going to be reporting directly to the CEO of the institute, which has about 250 staff total, and runs across all states of Australia.  I’m sort of like a PA– but I’m going to actively help him in managing his affairs.  I met with him earlier in the week and his best way of describing my position was as his “Chief of Staff.”

 

If it weren’t for the fact that Chiefs of Staff typically are corrupt, taken hostage, or shot in Hollywood Movies, well, that’d be pretty cool.  Or maybe it’s more cool because of that fact. I don’t know yet. 

More on this to come.

Focus on Denver: Evan Anderman’s Aerial Photography Provokes Discourse on American Land Politics

Critique Collective

Terminus, Eleven Mile Reservoir, CO, 2013.Terminus, Eleven Mile Reservoir, CO, 2013.

Evan Anderman’s documentation of agriculture and energy development on Colorado’s eastern plains mediates public fascination over aerial photography reminiscent of Google Earth with the energetic expression of shooting photography while piloting an airplane. From commentary on the ethics of human land usage to criticism of the almost imperial land distribution politics at work on the plains, there is no denying that Anderman’s work is dazzlingly, intellectually, perilously challenging as a call for serious discussion about limiting human impacts on the natural environment.

Anderman holds a PhD in geological engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and undergraduate degree in geological engineering from Princeton University. His photography has exhibited at a variety of venues in Colorado including the Denver Art Museum, Denver International Airport, Carmen Wiedenhoeft Gallery, and Robischon Gallery. Anderman’s work is also in the collection of the Denver Art Museum…

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