Monday, March 31, 2008

Just One More Thing to Worry About

This is disgusting. And it's important you read it. And write to someone about it.

I'm going to.

Thanks Faith.

9 steps to an eating disorder by age 12

Don't Talk Back to Darth Vader

I've been working on writing and editing projects all day today and my brain is slightly fried, although quite happy to be busy.

In light of that, I've decided to share this video, as my attempt to try and write something right now would probably come out AS IF NOT LESS coherent than this and plus, I'm not cute and small nor to I have beautiful doe eyes, black curly hair and a girlie bandana ta boot.

Enjoy

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Energized

As I've written here probably about 10 million times, I always feel better after a bit of physical activity.

I'm not sure exactly what happens in the brain (okay, I'm not even really certain on a GOOD day what's going on up there) but once I've gotten some good old activity done, I feel ready to take on the world.

It's like a filing cabinet appears in my head. A nice, calm, filing cabinet. That opens and closes at appropriate times. That calmly hands me one thought after the next. That allows me to focus, work and move on. Task complete, problem solved, onto the next one.

I felt today that I had a lot to get done. And I almost felt that perhaps I should not go for an hour run.

But I didn't go yesterday, took a day off, and last night went to bed looking forward to the exercise.

I don't think I'm a terribly vain person but it is nice to know that you can fit in your pants properly, if only so that you don't have to go and buy a totally new wardrobe.

I was so looking forward to getting back to a gym when we got back, really taking care of myself again, eating properly and getting good sleeps.

In Korea, we ate very well looking back on it. Nothing was really processed, the rice was the healthy kind and all of the vegetable were fresh, from some farmer's garden.

Plus, I was a teacher, I was on my feet every day, walked up and down stairs all day long. You forget how much physical activity you acutally do until you sit down and compare to another way of life.

Now, I mostly sit at a computer, scouring the internet for various things, much of which includes how to make a living or at least win the lottery.

So, I need that exercise to be figured out OUTSIDE of my work. And I need to pay more attention to what I'm eating, as delicious as all this cheese is, no one needs THAT MUCH calcium.

Even better, the weather turning has me outside exercising. I'm mostly a gym bunny but with lack of cash, one has to improvise. And I have to say, after years of swearing that I could never get a good workout outside, I'm having to eat my words.

Well, all the low calorie ones anyway.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lessons in Technology

I'm a bit concerned about the way that job hunting now seems to be consumed with technology.

Don't get me wrong, I love the job websites just as much as the next guy. And the ability to actually email your resume to someone has always been more advantageous than say, a mass mailout to every company in your preferred industry.

But I'm wondering if perhaps some companies have taken things just a bit too far.

Every weekday, I wake up, have breakfast, read the paper, head to the computer to 'work'. My day of work consists of research, writing, talking of on the phone. It feels like a full time job.

It's very productive, I feel as though I'm really getting myself back to a 9-5 routine, not necessarily a bad thing. I'm reintegrating myself with the Canadian lifestyle, finding out what all the hot buttons are. Wondering if and when the snow will ever go away.

This is all good. All productive. All very very hunky dory.

What worries me, though, is that all the work I tend to put in might not actually produce anything. It seems that the new systems that have been set up since I was away really just make you feel like you've worked really hard all day to find a job when in the end, you've just done a lot of work for a robot.

In the past, I worked diligently to write the perfect cover letter. I wanted to get people's attention, stand out from the rest, show the prospective employer that I was the perfect person to promote them because hey, look how well I can promote me??

I also paid attention to spacing. And font. And font size. And the amount of toner used. And the prettiness of the paper. Because I was sending off a paper-representation of me, something I wanted to reflect who I was, something that I thought would make a person want to meet with me.

But these days, it's left to a computer to do that for me. Companies are turning more towards the database systems less towards the reading-the-resume systems to find people for their positions.

Every day, I am faced with online systems that ask me questions (what were you like in highschool?) and require my "10 top skills" in order, with relevant years experience in each. I'm often baffled at how many years to put for 'communications'. 32? Cause I'm pretty sure my mother can back up the fact that I've never had a problem 'communicating'.

I suppose this system helps employers streamline the tediuosness of sifting through resumes. But I can't help but think it also allows them to hide behind this veil of not hiring from within. "Look, see, we advertised this job. We put it out there for people and we asked them to send us their skills. Unfortunately, we went with someone internally."

Not that that's a bad thing either. One of the biggest complaints I can remember is that people had to leave companies to get ahead. And just as it costs more money to get new customers than it does to retain them, so too does this hold true for employees.

I guess I just suppose that when the control was in my hands, when it wasn't R2D2 deciding that I would be pulled out from the hundredes of resumes that has the word 'hard worker' in them, I felt a little bit more like it was part of my destiny.

I had cared about the cover letter. And that had got someone's attention.

I had researched the company and found a common point of interest.

I had formatted it in such as way that it was easy to read, the key points jumped out of the page and there were no weird spaces to leave a reader disappointed.

I'm happy to continue this game of data entry. I will continue to enter in the same information to numerous websites. I will strive to figure out the correct combinations of key words and skills that will rank me at the top of a computer database list.

I'm just not sure what turns a computer on....the offer of more RAM??

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Has Not Sprung But Begun to Claw it's Way Through All the Snow

Today is the first day of spring. I have to say that I think Mother Nature is turning a bit of a corner because although the streets were sheets of ice this morning, it's turning into a glorious day.

For years, I've been a fan of Scott Feschuk, dating back to his days at the National Post.

Thanks to a link from Dooce, I've just read his latest 'commentary' on the winter we've been having.

An Open Letter to Mother Nature

Now my sides don't just hurt from all the sit ups I've been doing, they are also in pain because I can't stop picturing Mother Nature's face at being addressed as Dear Bicth. In the wise words of Homer Simpson, it's funny cause it's true.

I'm not sure what it's like in Ottawa today but checking the weather outside, I think you finally got her attention Scott.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happy St. What?

I've always enjoyed St. Patrick's Day, a day built around the celebration of everything Irish and much like Canada, a good excuse to have a pint or four.

This year was quite tame. Although I went to a party on Saturday, I was driving so I didn't drink.

I had an early morning meeting today so there was no way I was going to head out to a pub the night before.

I find myself, only now, not only reminicing about St. Paddy's Days of years past but also of Belfast and our time there.

One of my favourite memories of getting together with two very dear friends, Belfast A and Belfast G, usually on a spur of the moment, for a drink and a gab session.

Garrick Bar in Belfast was the perfect wee spot: (photo courtesy of flickr account)



We would tuck ourselves away into one of these corners and next thing you know, it'd be last call. And then we'd all stumble back to our respective homes, perhaps stopping for some chinese or jacket potatoes along the way.

It was great to have such cherished friends, even as the Canadian outsider, I never felt more at home then when I would sit with ma ladies and gab the night away.

I think next year, to make up for the lack of celebration over the last two years, I might just have to head back to the Garrick...or Morrisons...or the Duke of York...or Auntie Annies...or...

Well, you get the picture.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Two for Tea and Tea for Two

I've had a fairly long love affair with tea. I think it may have reached the same length of time as my love affair with coffee. But I had to part with the black stuff long ago. My nose says yes but my stomach says no.

My love of tea great exponentially when I moved to the UK. I mean, come on people, in the Western world, they are THE QUEEN of tea. Just ask their Queen. I know she's having tea all the time.

When I moved to Asia, it became greater on a whole other level. I mean, I had read about the benefits of green tea - that it can help reduce your risk of cancer by 70%!!!! - and had dabbled a little bit in the green stuff before I arrived.

But South Korea had green tea by the plentiful. Hot green tea. Cold green tea. Instant green tea. It became my companion at work, at home and more importantly, in the sauna. While I sweat out all the junk I was consuming, the green tea was there with me, offering a refreshing coolness as well as a detoxifyer. The relationship just kept growing stronger.

So, can you imagine, when we were in China, when I discovered they do green tea on a WHOLE NEW LEVEL??

While visiting the picturesque Hangzhou, I discovered that it was also home to China's Tea Museum.



HangZhou is famous for the production of the well known Longjing, see in my picture above.

And this place was not just a stuffy old building with exhibits. They actually housed a school, and about 10 different tea rooms. But the best part? The tea plantations.




I was on my own, but in my element. It was like visiting your favorite winery.



I learned some valuable lessons about tea when I was there, specifically that there is a special way to boil the water and brew your tea.

You're not meant to "burn the water" by over boiling it, just bring it to a nice small bubbles boil.

You're meant to fill the glass 20% full and leave for 30 seconds to stew. Then you fill up the rest of the glass up to 70%. The 30% that's missing? Well, that's where you store all the love and care you've put into making this tea for your guest. Or yourself.

I make tea now numerous times a day. And I can't seem to make it the old way anymore. But every time I make some tea, it brings me back to my day in the fields.

Keeps me travelling every day, that tea does.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Lot

I've been doing a lot of writing but not so much here.

I've been doing a lot of thinking but not so much expressing.

I've been doing a lot of laughing right out loud.

I've been doing a lot of visiting.

I have actually been DOING a lot, and yet sometimes, it feels like I've not yet done anything at all.

And I couldn't feel any better about that.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Word of the Day is...

Dynamic.

I'm not sure how anyone can get a job if they are not dynamic.

Cause every career website, job posting, corporate section of company websites, wants DYNAMIC people.

Are you dynamic? If you are, I'm confident you're employed. If you not, good luck. Might as well head off to remote island, work the land and live out your days a loner.

A very un-dynamic loner.

Saturday, March 01, 2008