Sunday, 18 January 2015

Wages, Woolco and Wrapping Up Work

The word of the week is phobophobia.

Jan 12 – Chapter Progress

I'm taking a month off - sort of.

Specifically, I'm taking a month off writing any more scenes for my second book. After completing last week's scenes, I found myself dissatisfied with their place in the overall progress of the book's plot. It was difficult to write those scenes, as I found myself foundering for the small pieces that would properly connect them to other scenes from this book and the first.

Obsessing over such details isn't conducive to actually writing decent scenes and so I've decided to spend the remainder of January sussing out the plot structure for the next 10 chapters. Unlike the first book, which had a much looser plot structure that evolved as I wrote each chapter, Book 2 is a much more tightly woven creation and thus I need to spend much more time plotting it out. That way I can continue to refine the structure as I go and I believe that will make me much happier with each scene as they fall into place while I write them.

Now that I have more time coming up with only one job to worry about, it should be easier to slip into the mindset of my created universe and stay there long enough to feel comfortable about what I'm doing week to week.

The results will be more than worth it.

Jan 13 – Interstellar

I journeyed to space today!

At least it felt like it, given where I was: the IMAX theater at the BC Museum, which was the only way I wanted to experience this film!

Tonight’s show was Interstellar, the space-exploration visual feast of a movie that serves us up what mankind’s near-future first-step to the stars could be been like.

I enjoyed it thoroughly.

That said, I didn't love it, nor place the film in the same category as Guardians of the Galaxy - not by a long shot despite what some people say about Interstellar. This is a film that definitely models itself after 2001: A Space Odyssey more than any other, taking itself seriously and asking serious questions about humanity's future among the stars. The visuals were incredible and as close to realistic as current scientific theory combined with CGI could provide - they definitely blew the audience away with their size and sweeping majesty on the IMAX screen.

All in all, it was an enjoyable experience; the audience I was with was very appreciative and you could have heard a pin drop in the silences during the epic visual scenes. Interstellar was definitely worth the price of admission to the IMAX theater and I'm going to continue my policy of only seeing films on the giant screen that are worthy of its size.

Now I just have to find out when they're going to be screening the new Star Wars

Jan 14 – Measure Me Sweet

Sometimes my health puzzles me.

Today, for example. I saw my doctor and got the results of my latest blood tests, admittedly overdue from the craziness of the holiday season: everything was normal, including my blood sugar levels. Meaning that I'm not diabetic in any way and shouldn't take sugar so seriously.

However, sugar still affects me, even in moderate doses and I want to know why. Strange that it is, I don't like to ignore what my body’s telling me and so for now I'm avoiding sugar in most doses.

My doctor is concerned that I'm concerned and has loaned me the use of a blood glucose monitor, to keep with me so that I can test myself whenever the strange shaking sensations catch me up. He also said that it would be all right for me to have sugar in moderate amounts and controlled situations, in order to again test - using the monitor - to see if my levels spike far more than normal.

Eating right, getting exercise and regular sleep are all things that I am doing now, so it's my hope that these occasional and worryingly weird rushes will become things of the past. Even if sugar continues to affect me strangely, it will be settling for me to know that such situations are passing and so my anxiety will be greatly lessened.

How sweet that will be!

Jan 15 – Names

In any given day at my job, I hear a lot of names.

With inevitable repetition, some of them began to pop out at me from the calls and I've begun to notice trends in naming children, at least in terms of the ones I deal with.

How people choose names for their kids amuses me, as the majority of parents( I believe ) tried to bestow a unique name upon their children. Being possessed of a name myself that is anything but unique, I've always had an ear for names that are off the beaten path, so to speak.

The flipside of that amusement are names that may seem unique, but in actuality belong to a large number of children, dependent of course on the generation they've been bestowed upon. Of late, I've noticed far too many Braydens, Jaydens and Aydens, with all their commensurate spelling variations and I find that somewhat disappointing: you'd think with the endless variety of names in the world, people could come up with something a little different than the rest of the crowd at the time.

This is also discounting anything to do with kids born to celebrities, who far too often are endowed with names that bring a shudder to my shoulders every time I hear them. The occasional one or two stand out as honestly unique, but saddling a kid with monikers like Heavenly Joy, Pilot Inspektor or Moxie Crimefighter is just asking for them to change it as soon as they're legally able. Not to mention the years of therapy or other issues that may result from bearing such a label.

Not to mention the effort it would take to get other people to even spell your name right…

Jan 16 – Early Honesty

Let me share a favorite memory of mine.

It hales from when I was very young and is one of my most vivid, if not detailed. The memory has to do with my favorite superhero Spiderman... and is at its core about honesty.

The reason I'm mentioning this memory is because of an article I read today on Yahoo, of all places. In the article, a young mother teaches her young son a vital and valuable lesson about honesty that he will remember for the rest of his life, taught in a positive and loving manner.

It was the exact lesson I was taught when I was only two years old.

My family had just arrived at my great-grandmother's house and we were looking forward to the visit. On removing my coat, my mother noticed that I had a small toy in my pocket: a Spiderman helicopter that I must have taken from the Woolco store we had just visited. We immediately packed up, with apologies to my great-grandmother. On the way back to the store, my parents made me understand of what I had done was not correct behaviour and that we were returning to the store to give the toy back because I had not paid for it. Being the precocious child I was, I understood the second part but not the first, money being a broad concept I hadn't quite grasped at age two-ish.

At Woolco, my parents had a few words with the manager, who at first wanted me to keep the toy, but my parents didn’t want me to think that it was all right to take things without permission or payment. They asked the manager to accept my apology, after I gave him back the toy, having me speak into the powered-on ‘announcement’ microphone so that my voice briefly echoed throughout the entire store. I believe I said "I am sorry" or something like it, with grave seriousness.
It was rather shiny...

It was a powerful lesson and one I've never forgotten; I even remember that I was wearing a fuzzy coat that night, that it was cold out and that I didn’t want the toy any more, after all the fuss. I clearly recall that my family wasn’t upset( neither was I )but that's they were serious about teaching me a lesson and so I paid attention with as much concentration as a two-year-old could give.

I think it has stood me in good stead and is probably the most important core lesson I've ever learned: be honest and the world will reflect that back to you in wonderful ways.

Also: don't take what isn't yours, in case you didn't catch that bit.

Jan 17 – Waging Poverty

People who are working full-time should not be living in poverty.

That's the message that is being put across by a group trying to increase the minimum wage in BC to $15 an hour. I think they have a valid point, as I was one of the working poor until recently, spending 40 hours a week earning less than I needed to pay rent, buy food and pay the most basic of bills. Adding kids, a car or home ownership to that would just create an untenable situation.

Australia is usually the first country people point to when it comes to discussing the hot topic of raising the minimum wage in a country. Adults in Australia earning minimum wage are paid around $15.00 USD, which is set by strict laws and regulated by labor unions, to simplify things here.

There are passionate arguments from both sides the table, with big business arguing that for every 10% the minimum wage is raised, unemployment rises by 1% - there are stats to prove this, but I won't bore you with them or any of the other arguments, both for and against.
What I will do is bring you back to my basic point: if you're employed full-time, you should be gaining ground in any decent economy and not just slowing your gradual tumble down the financial gradient if you're doing nothing else wrong. Hard-working Canadians who want to provide for their families and work within the framework of our countries laws shouldn't suffer for their efforts. 

Now you know where I stand on the subject, in case you were wondering. Having lived for years earning little while working a lot, I'm all for raising the bar, if it helps the many... rather than looking at it taking away from a few.

Jan 18 – Wrapping Up

My second-last old-job shift today was pretty decent.

It's been interesting, these last few months, working at a job that I no longer need. The shift, if you will, that I've experienced mentally is fascinating and one that I've not experienced before, even after leaving other jobs. 

I think it really comes down to fear, as well as need, which is more complicated.

The fear part is understandable: nobody wants to lose their job by doing it poorly and so jeopardize their way of life or even survival, depending on your situation. We'll put up with far too much in order to keep our jobs, justifying the stress and other tolls that our employment takes on our life every time we punch the clock. We often tell ourselves that it's far easier to put up with our current situation than to try and start all over again, even if we can find a new job. I know that stress very well from my own job search these last few years, which thankfully is over with.

The need is a bit more difficult to define. Most of us feel that we need a job, in various definitions, to pay for our lifestyle… which usually grows to quickly saturate our income availability. Make money, spend money, wonder where it’s gone: that seems to be the lot for, well, a lot of us.

I’ve seen need from both sides of the employment door and it's not pretty. To go from wanting some things to needing some things is an easy step and it's also easy to confuse the two. When you begin to need a job despite all else and the fear of its loss drives you further into unmanageable stress, it's then that you need to step back and take a hard look at your life.

For me, I don't need more than one job. I do need to be paid decently for my time, which I finally am; I can move up and onwards from this point, away from the looming abyss behind me that I stared into for so long. Knuckling under instead of buckling down shouldn't be the way that someone lives their life and even if you recognize that's what's happening, it's difficult to change. I was fortunate enough to persevere in my pursuit of something better and made the best of my circumstances, as did my family and we've finally turned the last big corner, heading towards better things. One more shift at the job that saved me from chronic unemployment isn’t too much to bear next week, if it allows me to put away that necessary piece of my past and move on.

From there, I'll climb a ladder made of my words and see where it takes me.

Working a solid seven days this past week has really tuckered me out, so I'll be glad to see the end of January and roll into February knowing that more 'free' time is in the making!