Content Consumption

One thing about unemployment, it does give one a little more time to enjoy one’s leisure hobbies.

Terry Pratchett has always been a bit of blind spot for me because I’ve not read a lot of fantasy and one of the worst people I know was a huge Pratchett fan so it sort of coloured my opinion. Yet I would always comes across passages from his Discworld novels and kept thinking, “This is the type of thing I could enjoy.” So I’ve started in on them and so far, they’re pretty funny and extremely well thought out in terms of the world he builds. This is all old news to Discworld fans but I’m enjoying the discovery.

I also recently finished How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu and Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. Both of which will be going on my favourite books of 2022 list.

The HBO genre-defying “Barry” just wrapped its third season and who knew SNL alum Bill Hader was such a great writer/director? Hader plays a Barry, a hitman for hire who pursues and acting career in L.A. while trying and failing to avoid having his past (and present) catch up with him. Like “Breaking Bad” or any prestige drama with criminal protagonists, it’s a difficult line to walk between creating a compelling character and making the mistake of having the audience sympathize with him. “Barry” pulls it off.

Wilco are back with “Cruel Country,” a 21 track double album recorded live in studio and with a sound that harkens back to their earlier days as Uncle Tupelo. I can say I enjoy it while while enjoying a local craft beer while barbecuing.

Did I mention New Brunswick has great craft beers? Seriously, come on down sometime if that’s your thing.

One of my favourites, Foghorn, has a weekly trivia night where my brother and I are frequent champs. Golden Grover, named after the country road my own street intersects with, is my usual go to beer.

So what are you all up to?


One Year Later

It’s been a year since I last updated this thing but I imagine most of those who still read this thing get my news from social media.

Just the same, I thought I’d take a shot at regularly updating the old blog, just to have a place to put a few thoughts down as they occur to me. It may not be daily, as Twitter pal Scmutzie is doing but it should still be a productive exercise for me, just to get back into the habit of writing.

So, when I last wrote, I was about to start a new job in advance of the big move to Saint John (I started it a year ago tomorrow, in fact). So we did the move and it worked out ok, more or less, but the actual financial transaction of selling and buying a house is a little complex if you are, as we were, with a virtual bank. A lot of things were done at the last minute, including learning that the movers were set to show up on July 1st, not a few days later as I asked, and getting the bank draft to pay the lawyer at the very last minute.

The house needs a lot of work still but we did manage to replace the original 1967 asbestos siding with new vinyl siding and the original windows with new ones, as well as adding a heat pump. Not as exciting as a kitchen reno or bathroom or basement reno (we need all of these things) but saving money on heat bills is also sexy in its own right.

The new job was ok but my boss had some other ideas about what I should be doing and I left after five months for a new job in the legal industry that would see me doing remotely much of the same work I had been doing for four years. To be honest, I enjoyed the job but the remote aspect of it left me feeling a bit directionless. Perhaps that was evident to my boss, because after three months, I was let go due to undefined performance expectations.

That was in February. I have had a few interviews since then but it’s been tough to be frank. You get to a certain age (I’m north of 50) and you begin to wonder if you’re past your sell by date. I even got shot down by Costco. In any event, I have an interview on Wednesday with an IT company in Montreal for a remote proposal specialist job. Maybe this will be the one.

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:

The May 2021 Update


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.