Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another Revamp

It has been two years yet again, and I stubbornly refuse to give up on this blog.

Perhaps I will keep it as a blog for personal opinions, separting it from my more food and food-industry and law oriented blog at http://eattheroses.wordpress.com/.

Time (and availability of such) will tell, as it tends to.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A job and nearly a year later...

... I never actually planned to move to Wales.

These things happen. Or, apparently they happen to me. And though it is not Wales itself I moved to, but Chester, which is on the border of Wales--I do work in Wales now-- and so I can claim some semi-affinity to the place that for some reason, so many Brits seem to look down upon.

Most of what I saw of Wales seems rural, and largely unpolluted and very pretty. In the interlude between the last post and this one, I had spent 7 months in the London area and I must say they were a time of my life that probably wins some sort of award for wandering into the wrong place (and staying there for over half a year). But, as with any experiences, one can learn many useful things. For example (or a few):
  1. I hate London. It is filthy, crowded and the people are rude and don't tend to give a damn.
  2. I hate Londoners. In their majority (there are exceptions of course, there are everywhere), they don't give a damn about others. Or filth.
  3. I hate filth. Garbage, rubbish, and polluted water. (See #1)
  4. I hate people who care about their historic and grand city so little, it becomes all of the above (See #2)
... There, now that I have it off my chest, I feel better. And less hateful.

In fact, since I moved to Chester a week in a half ago, I have been downright idiotically happy, like I am on vacation without being on one. Because, obviouisly, I work. But I happen to like my job, like the people (Welsh or otherwise, including my loud and bouncy yank of a boss), and like going there.

And I would write more, but as it happens, I have to go to aforementioned job. Write more later. And I need to take pictures. Lots of pictures.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Job, The Tube and Living in Random Places

... Not that I am a huge fan of London underground either, so I suppose in some ways it is mutual. It seems that while other commuters have more or less trouble getting where they are going, the Tube conspires to make me late to my commute trains, and consequently kills off some of my life nearly each evening.

I got a job in London, in the Bow area. The office is located in a nice office park (keyword being park, there are actually lawns and trees there!) about 8 minutes walk from the nearest tube station, and all in all it's not at all bad even considering the fun things Tube comes up with to make me late to work or to catch my evening trains. I enjoy the job, the predominantly South African (don't ask why, no one knows) team is nice, and I am really not complaining. However, the reality of London is such that only those really well off can afford their own lodging, and so I settled in Luton (for now anyway).

No, don't ask why Luton. It was only just more reasonable than poking a finger into map in general London vicinity with eyes closed and then calling up real estate agents there to see what they have to offer. Could just as well have ended up in Barking or on the East coast near London, really. But, Luton is also near the airport and it is on the large train link, so it's convenient enough for commute and large enough to be a town, not a village. It's also slightly run-down, but not in a rough way. Just somewhat scruffy here and there, though some repairs are being done and some effort is being put into fixing things up. Which need it.

On the flipside, I now have a lovely apartment about 15 minutes walk from city center and train station that I do not need to share with anyone (one of my work colleagues lives in a 6-room house with 7 other people!), there is a small but nice looking park nearby, and I plan to go exploring the somewhat-random location I have landed in some more in the upcoming weekends.

One thing one does not think about when unemployed is the waking up. My commute really isn't bad, but I do have to wake up a bit before 6am, and I am not sure I will ever get used to that, or if it will always be a tragedy. I do know that once long ago when I had to wake up at 5am oftentimes for work, I never got used to it. But this is more reasonable, and I have better habits of going to sleep these days as well.

And, to attest to that, I am getting tired. I suppose I should lay off the laptop and go get into bed so that I can be halfway alive tomorrow for work.

On a side note, found out that my brother is going to Bangkok but not why or for how long. Need to get hold of the bugger and find out.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Three Gazillion Interviews (Not Complaining!)

I have been in Leicester for less than two weeks, and things seem to be looking up job-wise. Or well, at least I hope they are looking up. *knocks on wooden head*

I have gone to the interview with the company in Surrey which want me for a regulatory research position--a job I would frankly love. The catch there is that the pay needs to be sufficient for me to live comfortably not too far from the place, which is in SE England and thus expensive. The agent got back to me saying the feedback from the HR post-interview was very positive in every way bla bla bla, and that they will get back to her/me by the end of next week (that will be end of August or thereabouts).

All in all the delay is more a blessing than a curse--I have an interview upcoming this Wednesday with a pharmaceutical company for a regulatory position. I am not entirely sure about how qualified I am for this, but supposedly they have seen my CV and wanted to meet me, so perhaps they think I can do it. I will have to do some reading on the subjects listed on the job specification tomorrow and brush up on some related topics as well. I sincerely hope it won't be a waste of time, mostly because the train tickets in UK are stupidly expensive for no good reason, and I do not yet have a car. Kind of need a job for that.

The more interesting reason why I don't mind the slight delay in the first mentioned response is the fact that I have an interview scheduled for first week of September for a job closer to here, and one that I really would love as well, possibly even more so than the one in Surrey. So I am not in a terrible hurry to have to give an answer there, should I get an offer. Which it sounds like I may *knock on head some more*.

In meantime, I am working on flooding the agencies dealing with my professional field (food and regulatory science) with my CV. and seeing what I hear from where and how. One nice thing I heard so far was at the first interview I went to, actually--I got told to my face that the job market has very few regulatory professionals with any experience, which rather brightened my outlook. Now all I need is for someone in those [insert large number here] upcoming and past interviews to recognize my shining magnificence and finally give me a job.

Yep, I think I would like that.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Vienna Vacation--thoughts and impressions

The vacation in Vienna went great, despite a couple of days with rain that we spent indoors. I have been to Austria before, and spent some days in the Tyrolean Alps, but I have only driven through Vienna once before and never actually had the chance to see the city.

I was lucky in that the week I was there, the temperature was 10 degrees C lower than the week before, which had been infernally hot. At 22-27C, the heat was rather nice, and it was a pleasure to walk outdoors. I suppose I did not see as much of the city as I could have, had I run around the entire week--but I was visiting a friend as well as the city, so we spent some time just being silly and relaxing in the evenings. No, I won't explain silly. All my credibility as a marginally sane person would be out the window that very moment, so no. And it was not what you probably think either.

Viennese palace garden is rather beautiful. It is not the biggest or most impressive garden that I have seen between some botanical gardens and Versailles, but it has a nice layout, a well-tended rosarium, and some antique hothouses replicating conditions for tropical and subtropical species. I should probably dump my camera and post some photos, note to self to do that.

The inner city of Vienna is not very old, with the exception of a few buildings and a gorgeous gothic cathedral with two organs (but only one tower--they ran out of something or other or funds during construction and stopped that short). It is in a far better condition than Notre Dame in Paris, as Austrians have been taking better care while washing the soot and dirt off the delicate carvings than the French did with their cathedral. Kudos to the Austrians, because the carvings on Notre Dame were in a sad shape when I saw them after cleaning some years ago.

The cathedral in Vienna--St. Stephen's Cathedral--is apparently one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe. Martin said that it was a thousand years old, I bickered with him a bit over that, but it looks like he was mostly right. Looking up on wikipedia, it seems that it was built in 1147 originally, which makes it nearly 900 years old, with major work (what I would guess from the gothic architectural style and detail) concluding in 1500s. I am always amazed at this particular style of architecture--the amount of work that goes into the carving and decoration as well as the actual engineering of the tall thin arches is astounding.

However, it is not the thought of craftsmanship that captivates you when you look up at those ceilings, or up over the outside of lace-fine stone decorations on the spire. It is the sheer beauty of it all, and the wonder that in such dark times, such beauty was imagined, created and built. And comparing to the chunky architecture of the previous period, and the over-the-top near-tastelessness of the one after, I always feel sad that more such beautiful things were not built. It is understandable, as the funding and effort to build such was monumental--would be even by modern standards. The purely economic justification gives me no satisfaction however. And I pity the fact that such beauty is not likely to be built again, not unless someone very rich decides to finance this sort of effort. Oh the chances of that happening... right.

Martin was terrible. He actually took me to the best (according to him but I have reasons to believe he is right) ice cream shop in Vienna. Twice. I have not had that much really good ice cream in ages. I had coconut, pistachio, walnut and blueberry varieties, and every single one was to die for. I also picked at his selections, which were chocolate flake in vanilla (forgot the Italian name for it!), melon and grapefruit. I would not have thought you could make good melon or grapefruit ice cream (not sorbet!), but apparently you can, and oh my god is it good. I feel like I ate my semiannual allowance of ice cream in one week, but it was entirely worth it. Every bite.

The way back was not nearly as bad as I worried it'd be--the shuttle bus from Vienna took me directly to the airport, and the facilities there were as good as in any modern airport--I suspect the budget airlines flying via Bratislava have renovated the place quite a bit. And with direct shuttle service there and back it is quite easily accessible as well.

Overall I'd say it was great, if too short even if it was a full week. Must get more job, must get more vacation time. And thus, more vacation.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Shopping in your own closet

... or in my case, the storage area. In boxes contained therein. The boxes in which a ton and a half of my nice clothes have been stored--clothes that I did not fit into for a couple of years, but--halleluyah--do fit into rather nicely now.

I have come to a prosaic conclusion that however little I care for money, I need a job that pays well for one simple reason: the clothes that fit me well tend to be the really expensive sorts, not the off-the-rack lower-grade stuff. And to afford those I need--bingo!--money. Unpleasant as it may be. Oh well, I am working on the job bit, we'll see about how well-paid once I have an offer or two.

On the up side, I have a ton of clothes that I liked, and still do, in pretty great condition and now fitting me. It is, as a friend of mine said, like going and shopping for all your favorite stuff again--for free. Not to mention that having lost a lot of weight, and with my vanity back, I feel rather happy. And looking forward to my vacation and excuse to wear some of these pretty clothes in sunny weather and going to museums and parks and such.

Sunny weather seems rather inviting right about now, as the rain which was hitting England for the past two weeks finally made its way to Sweden, and it has been pouring like someone opened the drain in some bathtub-in-the-sky all day. And storming, with thunder in the distance (yay for laptop batteries, unplugged it till it was safe again). I can't say I like the weather to be out in, but it is a nice atmosphere and the trees and growth here needed it (it's been a little too dry). So cannot complain.

Of the packing saga, now that I found more clothes, I am again stuck with a decision... what to unpack to fit in the things I want to fit in, what to pack, how to fit it all back into one bag. It won't fit, so what to leave out. Moreover, the laundry time I thought I had booked for today was not booked, so I ended up booking one Sunday afternoon instead (better time anyhow), which means some things will get laundered then and will need to be packed at that point. If I weren't so happy about everything else, I would be tearing my hair out.

In other news, I am restless so I suppose I could do some more writing on my project while waiting for Wednesday to be here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Prosaic Entries

I noticed that lately my blog entries have been somewhat flat and prosaic compared to how I used to write here. I am not sure I like the change, but I think I know what brought it about. I spend a lot less time online these days, and what I do is generally busy things which are not terribly glamorous to write about.

That, and I am more or less in a constant state of anticipation about the move (again), the job interview, and my upcoming vacation. So I would like to write entertaining or beautiful entries, but not much is that exciting or inspiring happens at the moment, and thus entries become more or less flat notes of what happened this day or the next.

I think that once some more exciting and interesting things happen, I will have more to write about, and can write more interestingly about it. For now, most of my creativity goes into the writing project, leaving just time for these--notes, as I'd call them.

Not really creative, and not sure they are interesting to read to anyone but those who care what I am up to.

Weather

The past weeks have seen rather random and not always welcome weather across Europe. England has been flooded, Austria and Bulgaria and SE Europe in general were cooked at 37-40C, and Sweden has been unusually dry. Till a few days ago when the rains that were camped in England for a while finally made their way here and drizzled on and off for a few days.

That is to say, it's all been rather unpredictable. Yesterday it rained like the sky developed a leaky roof, and I had worried that our barbecue plans for today would be ruined, but things turned out rather nice anyway. Today the rain came and went several times, but in short bursts--and the sky was bright and clear in between those. By the time we were ready to grill, another burst of rain fell, and then it was gone. We spread some picnic blankets on the seats to keep out the damp, and sat outside enjoying the fading light. With me leaving for vacation and then UK, it would have been a shame to waste the Saturday night indoors.

For tomorrow, I hope the better kind of weather holds. We have plans to go to the harbor to see the sailships gathered there for the sailing tour. Apparently there are some rather old and impressive and large ones there, as well as the usual assortment of yachts and smaller craft. Also an excuse to do some shopping in town which I need.

So, the gods of weather, if you are listening, please rain Monday instead. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Packing

... and as always, packing too much. Good thing I start early, because then I have time to think about the bulging bag, go back, take some things out and think again. Then, perhaps, add a few things back, take some others out, and rethink it yet again.

This is precisely why I start packing a week in advance. If I tried to pack the night before leaving, I would end up with a huge bag full of things I do not really need, and not everything I wanted in it after all.

This is all complicated by the fact that I am packing vacation clothes and business clothes for after the vacation. That means shoes too--so in addition to sneakers and vacation sandals, I get to pack my business pumps. All in one bag under 20kg. Go me. I suppose after another review or two of what goes and what stays it will be roughly adequate, and all will be well--but in the meantime, the bag is sitting on my rug, and staring at me accusingly. And all I can do is stare back.