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As they say, “some personal news”

Hey, remember the other day when I bitched about the hiring process for a potential employer?

Well, it turns out they offered me the job, which I accepted because these streaming services, and retirement and my kid’s education fund, aren’t going to pay for themselves.

I start in July, sometime after we arrive in Saint John, depending on the travel restrictions into the Atlantic Bubble at that time. Vaccinations are accelerating and cases are, as I write this, dropping considerably in Quebec and the Maritimes so perhaps the quarantine rules will be less stringent.

But there it is. I’ll be working pricing, as I have been doing since 2005. This time in the head office of a home improvement chain.

Anyway, here’s a new mixtape:

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The May 2021 Update

Jobbing

It’s official: not only have we sold the house, but we have bought a new one in Saint John. We take possession July 5 and so will begin a new chapter.

I’m also, possibly, on the verge of hearing about a new job, as is Kerry. We’re hoping this is the week we get new gigs so we can put that bit of concern behind us. The last time I was laid off, it took almost a year to find something new. I’d like to compress that time period somewhat.

I have to say the job market in the Maritimes is different from what they have in Montreal or Toronto. I applied for a position and shortly after, received an email to participate in a Predictive Index cognitive assessment test. I then had a video interview with the hiring managers. I was then asked to provide references, with at least 2 past managers, by having them go to a link to provide feedback on me. I also had to re-do the PI cognitive assessment because they didn’t like my answers the first time (I’m not good at those things). The index could not close until I had two managers respond. I could not get in touch with my most recent manager so I had to go way back to some others to ask them if they would do this for me. Finally I was able to the feedback I needed and the reference check was completed.

In March, I was offered a job with a very generous compensation package but it fell through over my request to work remotely from New Brunswick. I was offered this job based on two video interviews with two people who didn’t know me from Adam. No references were requested.

This reference check was frustrating and I’m honestly not sure how they attract talent with this weird, inflexible process. While I haven’t lived in the Maritimes for almost 20 (!) years, I can’t help but wonder if there is still an attitude from employers that, because unemployment is higher than other regions, they make more demands of their employees in a way that wouldn’t fly in similar industries in other regions.

Of course, there are people who are treated much worse at their jobs than this middle-class, white collar guy so I don’t want to overstate the issue. I just makes me wonder, if I do get the job, what kind of workplace I’ll be stepping into.

The overall point here is that if an employer does not know if they are going to hire someone based on their CV, and more than one interview, it seems unfair to put the burden on the new hire to make their references go through this process. It seems particularly onerous when your references may simply be unavailable to enter the information requested within the timeframe they require, which is what happened with me.

Reading

The Book of Longings

The Book of Longings is a novel about the imagined marriage of Jesus and his wife, Ana. It’s a very inventive tale that seeks to give voice to someone who would have been silenced all these years. Highly recommended. Oprah Winfrey liked it as well.

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The Spring 2021 Update

I know if I went back to my previous posts, and back when blogging was a thing, I would find several that indicated a desire to get back to my hometown of Saint John. In fact, there have been several points where we almost did move back but for any number of reasons, they fell through.

This time, however, it’s official: we’re moving back. The house has been sold (pending the buyer’s financing) and we’ll be in Saint John in July.

We’ve wanted to do it for years but what prompted it this time was that in March, in the middle of pandemic, I lost the job I have been working at for the past four years. It was a “business decision,” they told me and nothing to do it with my performance. But the fact is that the past year has been difficult for me and it did affect my performance so I can’t help but wonder if it was a factor in my dismissal.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a new job lined up yet and most banks take a dim view of unemployment when you apply for a mortgage. But the proceeds from the house sale should provide a cushion when we arrive to rent for a bit while we get ourselves sorted.

So if you know anyone who needs someone, you know where my LinkedIn is.

Watching

In an effort to cut back on the budget, I gave up Crave but before I did, I watched Raoul Peck’s four part documentary series, Exterminate All the Brutes. Pulling from a number of historical texts and his own personal history, Peck examines the roots of white supremacy and colonialism. It’s not easy to watch but I think it’s the kind of thing that could be taught in high schools.

Reading

John Scalzi closed off his “Interdependency” trilogy last year but I’ve just got round to reading this. If you’re a fan, you’ll recognize his big ideas and humour throughout the book.

To be honest, I thought this was a self-help book for introverts but it’s actually a look at what how our assumptions underline how we deal with people we don’t know, using case studies from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to Bernie Madoff. It’s quite interesting.

Listening

Since I’m on my own in the mornings, I’m spending the time looking for job opportunities and preparing for the move. I find that I like to have music on the background that isn’t too distracting. Lately, I find Ici Musique’s L’effet Pogonat with Catherine Pogonat to do the trick. It’s a great variety of music from across genres. It airs from 8:30am to noon on weekdays.

I don’t know when the pandemic will end or, at least, be minimized so that we can return to our lives. I’d link to the latest news but it changes hourly.

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The Summer Update

It’s been a few months since my last update and I’d like to say there have been some changes since then but it’s more like we’ve settled into a new normal of, for me, permanently working from home.

In some ways, this is an ideal set up for me. For years, I’ve wanted to work from home at will. Even before the pandemic, I worked from home at least once a week. Now, I’m not sure when I’ll be in the office next.

Since the lockdown, working from home was a bit difficult as the whole family was also working/schooling from home. My ability to focus was severely diminished. Now, with James at day camp and Kerry at work, I’m once again working from home. This would normally be great for me except I still can’t focus. I don’t know if it’s just the pandemic or *gestures broadly * all of this but my mind can barely focus long enough to complete a task.

So I decided to try something new: establish a fairly strict routine that involves daily exercise, strength training, food logging, reading books at night, breaking up my work day into blocks of time to work on projects.

I’ve put on ten pounds since March and have felt generally very sluggish, just waiting for everything to be over. But the fact is, it’s not going to be over for a long time so I’m trying to be a lot more proactive in how I manage myself.

This week, the government of Quebec announced they would allow up to 250 people to gather in public spaces. This seems premature and a lot of medical specialists agree. Schools are expected to reopen with students in six person bubbles. I have no idea how that is going to work. At the same time, the province’s chief medical officer asks that employees continue to work from home if they can. A lot of people have opinions but nobody really knows what to do. Or rather, nobody knows how we can safely live normal lives.

We spent our summer vacation in Quebec and spent a little time in Quebec City and the Eastern Townships.

Abbaye de Saint Benoît du Lac

It’s a shame it took a pandemic to realize how huge this province is with so many great places to visit.

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie-Jane Anders

I’m currently reading The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie-Jane Anders. I’ve enjoyed her writing since her days at io9 and this is her second novel, which is set on a planet that doesn’t rotate and therefore only a small section of the planet is livable for Earth’s far-flung descendants.

It’s quite good but I’m such a frustratingly slow reader that it’s taking ages to get through.

I’m also enjoying the new Perry Mason series on HBO which acts as a kind of origin story for the famous fictional defence attorney. I’m not normally a courtroom drama fan but this is a cut above and features some wonderful actors.

But here is where we’re at. Watching TV, trying to safely live a normal life, and knowing it’s going to be a while.

How are you all holding up?

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The Pandemic Update

Should I start one of those substack newsletters all the cool kids are doing? Or would that just get updated once or twice a year like the blog?

Anyway, we’re in a pandemic! So we’re all hunkering down and streaming media content and baking bread and cleaning the house and painting the bedrooms and working, and schooling!, from home. And we will be doing so for the foreseeable future. I don’t expect kids will be back in school before September and I may be back in the office, I dunno, June? July? Fortunately, the job was always highly mobile so working from home in my recently completed home office isn’t an issue. I just never expected to be working from home and also trying to home school my kid and neither did I expect Kerry to also be working from home. So we’re all kind of tripping over each other.

Actually, Kerry still works at the hospital a few days a week which gives me a little bit of a pause as I worry about her contracting the virus, even with the extraordinary measures they have in place to protect the workers at the hospital.

But we’re both working and haven’t yet joined the six million people who have applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. I did take a pay cut of 10% which is a bummer but it beats being out of work.

Overall, I think the governments at both the provincial and federal level have been doing a reasonably good job managing this as they have been following advice of health officials. And most Canadians agree. I think generally, we’re civic minded folks who see the bigger picture and understand we have to modify our behaviour to help save lives.

It hasn’t all been good, of course. Seniors in rest homes are particularly vulnerable, as are some of the Indigenous population. The disease disproportionately affects people living in poverty. Some politicians are trying to use the pandemic to score political points and some conspiracy theorists think it’s all a plot to impose some kind of new world order and somehow 5G technology is involved.

And who would have thought the social media person for a frozen steaks company would be talking about why conspiracy theories take root?

Anyway, how are you guys holding up?