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Heretic Journey

Life and Love in the Burning Times

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Celtic Hawk
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May 23rd, 2008

No More the Stranger

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It's been a very busy last four weeks, and frankly it wasn't even until today that I realised I've been around my workplace for about four weeks. Somehow the idea of 37 hour work weeks hasn't quite set into my American head as of yet, so instead I've been working overages by American standards, let alone UK expectations. But things have been going well and today I've received my official first paycheck from the UK!

You wouldn't think it would be such a big deal for someone who has been working for pay -- legally or under the table as a child -- for most of his life. But that was in the US, not in another nation. And there's something very real feeling about not just studying in another nation but actually earning a paycheck there. Which is actually a ludicrous idea in many regards.

After all, as a student I paid into the economy, used money to pay for rent, utilities, even local taxes through property taxes. But when you're working fulltime somewhere, suddenly you are truly LIVING in that nation, inextricably bound to the ebb and flow of economics and social policy, depending on the flux of positive or negative legislation for your very livelihood... because you're living there, not just on extended visitation.

And somehow that feels wonderful. I suddenly feel I have a right to complain about negative taxes or social policy, or contribute to the dialogues of a community because I'm truly a contributing part of that community. I may not be a citizen, but I live HERE... participate and interact in the community HERE... and almost instantaneously I cannot be considered an outsider. Whether such an outlook is internal or external, I am not an outsider, nor can ever allow myself to be considered one, else become disempowered in my own home.

The traveler is no more for the dweller has come.

Additionally there is an excitement to all this stemming from the fact that my paycheck comes from work performed in Higher Education. After years of departure from Higher Education administration, I have returned. Despite it being a return, though, in many regards it's like a new chapter in my professional life, and perhaps even a new career. I'll have to see, though. In some regards it could be termed that I'm set upon my third career now... or could be a return to what had once appeared to be my first.

Regardless it's such an enjoyable thing being on-campus for my work. Access to conventional and digital libraries, online databases and journals, and myriad other educational and travel resources all as perks for being part of a university. In addition, there's an engagement in education, community affairs, public policy, and economy that's found in Higher Ed that I really enjoy. In my last job I worked so often with university programs, and I always missed being part of the campus flow. Now each morning I get to drive onto campus not just for a meeting or lecture but to remain.

Doesn't mean that there aren't the the typical pains in the ass of bureaucracy, arrogant and territorial people, and legislative idiocies that complicate life, but I'm used to all that regardless from social work.

So while obviously life changes, at present there's a rather lovely feeling to being able to call this place -- both school and nation -- my home.

April 24th, 2008

Today I went to my new workplace's HR department and let them take copies of my passport/visa, degree paperwork, and National Insurance info. Also put in a few requests regarding upcoming vacation time and some lumbar support for any chair I get. (Figure I matter as well hit some of that up front.)

In amidst the discussions I was reminded about another thing that I love about Britain... the vacation time. When I worked for the State we had a great vacation package for the US. We could accrue vacation time, and we received more than just the simple week or two that most US workers acquire, our vacation leave increasing every 5 years of work. When I left, after 9 years with the State, I received 19 days vacation per year plus statutory holidays. Today I discovered that at start I'll receive 20 vacation days plus 3 flexible days around Christmas plus 1 flexible day around Easter plus statutory holidays. Of course for the first year I'll have a proration of the 20, but I'll still keep the ones around Christmas. But basically, from commencement, I will receive a starting vacation package equal to what I would have received only after working 15+ years for the State. *shake* *chuckle* Yup... bless the UK. ;)

As to start dates, I begin on May 6th. I tried for the 1st but she said that my department would have to prep a spot for me, and with May 5th being a holiday she figured I'd just start the first work day of the week.
*snap* A bit of a bummer, but I suppose I can lose 3 days off my first check considering I'll still HAVE a check, which is far better than the current slow but steady sieve of our finances.

That's when I was reminded about my other delight in working over here. My work schedule? 8:30am-5pm Monday through Thursday and 8:30am-4:30pm on Fridays... and that's with an hour lunch mixed in, mind you. For someone who has been used to 15 or so years in the 40-50+ hour grind of the American workplace , a 37 hour work week for more than I was earning in the US when I left is... ummmm... well, a sheer fucking delight!

I think I can get used to working over here. ;)

April 23rd, 2008

This has been a very strange week. Monday in a stupid trip while running up the stairs I managed to rip off my left big toe nail in a staggering display of blood and pain for something so simple as a toe. It hadn't boded well for the rest of the week.

Now, though, as I continue to reel from a bit of disbelief and more than a little giddiness at my morning's progress, I'm starting to wonder if it was actually a twisty form of blood sacrifice.

After I don't know how many applications submitted, interviews acquired, research done, presentations composed and delivered, volunteering, and all manners of activities pursued in order to acquire a job, just about half an hour ago I was finally offered one.

Amusingly enough I received the call amidst my need to put together yet another 10-minute presentation (why does everyone want 10-minute presentations?) for an interview tomorrow, and another one after that on Friday morning. All are canceled now, though, and not without much relief.

I'm just still a bit amazed, frankly. I interviewed for the position I was just offered last Friday and they said they'd be deciding this week, but as the days counted by I figured that I didn't have the position. But as it turned out, one of the needed HR people was out, and they also needed to decide at what level they were going to offer it to me. Surprisingly without my having to ask for it they gave me the next to the highest rung for the position, and the position was furthermore just reclassed higher than for what it was originally offered, which means I'm coming in at a relatively decent salary, and much more than I had expected was possible going into the interview. In fact, with current exchange rate, I'm actually going to be earning more money now than I did when I left the States. I only wish the money went as far here as it did in the US. Oh, well. Can't complain ultimately. :)

I'm still left with the rather happy awareness that despite some stated concerns that I'd leave the job for something better due to my experience, they offered it to me regardless. And so I sit here exuberant and stunned all at once.

To add to that sense of accomplishment, last night pendarves and I finished working on a collection of my poetry for a contest over here. The deadline is April 30th, so we completed putting things together just in time really. But I can hope that with three collections (18-24 poems in length) being chosen for the prize + publication I'll have a shot. Have to try regardless. Somehow this morning's wonderful acquisition, and at a time when our finances are so dreadfully tight (alright... the proverbial lifeboat leaking water), offers me hope for the poetry competition as well.

I've tried putting together so many different collections of poetry over the years, and even submitted one collection once without success. Gotten various individual poems published here and there, but never a collection. Now is the possibility for not only prize money but a subsequent stand-alone publication of the collection by the publishing company handling the competition, not to mention invitation to a related poetry and literature festival, and an opportunity to read my poetry publicly. I think that finally in my life I have a maturity of poetry that allows competitive submission. Add to that the assistance of a professional editor and literature scholar in editing and organising my submission, and I believe I have a true shot. We'll see... it would be June or July before I know if my collection wins a spot.

*sigh* *chuckle* Eventful morning and it's not even 11am. Eventful, but very very wonderful.

March 3rd, 2008

Snowburn

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Swirling at the ministrations of a fickle wind, the snow has spiralled first in a burnt sienna glow and now a tangerine burn.

Only 7:23am and it's already been an exquisite morning.

February 29th, 2008

BDSM Quiz

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Celtic Hawk
Behind the cut is an interesting quiz (to say the least).

If you're not comfortable with your sexuality, don't take the quiz...Collapse )

February 27th, 2008

Been a somewhat disappointing last couple weeks....

Read on...Collapse )

February 14th, 2008

Working to Work

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Celtic Hawk
This afternoon I discovered that I did not get the Admissions & Recruitment Counsellor position. After taking more than the 24 hours they said it would take, and after the entire questioning of me as to whether I would stay in the job considering my level of experience, I admittedly was not surprised. That said, I'm ultimately not too sad about it because...

...I received an interview request for the position I REALLY wanted, i.e., the one I mentioned on 29 January where I'd be facilitating and advising service oversight committees for a local Council. Of course, I just finished a 5-page mock "Council report" on training suggestions for the Council in preparation of my interview this coming Monday. In prepping for the interview I've spent likely upwards of 25 hours reading through policy docs, acts of Parliament, etc. For the insane ex-government-type person I am who enjoys economic and social policy, it's admittedly been fun. Not to mention that if in the end my study leads me to get the position, then I'll have a challenging position that furthermore pays me £10,000 more per year than the Admissions and Recruitment position would have.

So it's a much better fit to my ability, definitely a nice pay package, and likely will require about the same amount of evening and weekend work as the Admissions and Recruitment position. So all in all, a much better opportunity than the Admissions and Recruitment position. But a damn sight more work to prep for the interview than the other position. Makes it all the more challenging, though.

Now back to watching Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares....

February 6th, 2008

Back from my interview and relaxing. It went about half an hour longer than expected, but I was told from would-be coworkers afterward that it going that long was a "very good sign" so I can't complain.

That said, while I felt the interview went generally well, the last question by the person leading the interview panel (who happened to be the Director of essentially the entire student affairs, recruitment, etc. department) was a bit unfortunate. She asked me why, with "such an impressive resumé and at such high levels of interaction", was I applying for an Admissions and Recruitment officer position. I gave as good a response as I could, but it was frustrating to get hit with that. Yes the position would be a (considerable) pay drop. Yes I would not be at a level whereby I could have as much effect on policy and organisational development. But it has other qualities to it that I would really truly enjoy. And it's not like I wouldn't ultimately move on, or more likely upward!

But to have my previous experience -- which I could tell from the panel's questions and interactions excited them to the possibility -- thrown in my face as a potential negative from my side, expecting me to move on at a drop of a hat... well, that was unfortunate. I suppose I can understand their worries, but over a decade ago I found myself in a similar position, where no one would hire me because of my experience.

It finally came down to my essentially begging someone -- after he had stated he didn't think I'd stay and was consequently not going to hire me -- to take me and I'd promise a year. After all, you've got to earn money to pay bills, eh? And so I ended that spate. Now I'm faced with the situation again. Unfortunately begging for a position won't look good, especially for the types of jobs I'm now applying. *chuckle* *shrug*

We'll see what happens. They're going to make a decision within the next 24 hours, so one way or another I'll know soon. But as they're making their decision, I hope they consider my experience for what it can offer them, and not as a time clock ticking down to when I would leave. One's a choice of possibilities; the other a choice of fear. And frankly there are just too many decisions being made nowadays out of fear; it would be nice for something else for once.

February 1st, 2008

A Reminder of the Past

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In a recent email to a few friends snowcatguy observed the following, which I think at least deserves -- if not requires -- both remembrance and sharing, especially in these troubled times:

President Dwight Eisenhower, Republican, uttered these words on November 8, 1954:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

In addition to being a war hero, a decent fellow, and a moderate Republican before they began to go extinct, President Eisenhower apparently was also quite the prophet. Little George W. Bush was about 9 years old at the time...


If only more of the so-called "patriotic" conservatives of the world were to hold such precepts in their hearts our world would likely be a much "kindler, gentler" and "thousand points of light" kinda world.

January 30th, 2008

The Nature of Time

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Celtic Hawk
Due to recent discussions on fate/choice, causality, the ability for us to quantify and/or affect choice/fate in our own and others' existences, and general questions about memory, etc., I've been thinking (again! for those who know me) more than a bit about the nature of Time.

So here are some meaty questions that I invite you in all seriousness to answer from your beliefs:
1. What is the nature and shape (if any) of Time?
2. Is travel through Time possible? What are the limits, if any, of such travel?
3. If travel into the past is possible: (a) can history as we know it can be changed and (b) if it can be changed how do the effects (in general) of such change manifest 'forward' in Time?
4. What is the relationship between Time and Space, if any? Does Time has any relationship with other dimensions?
5. What are the limits of Time, if any?
6. Lastly, what is the point -- the raison d'être -- of Time?

I thank ahead of time any of you who respond for your insights and discussion.
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