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What is this I don't even

So I got this job last week, working for a company that sells telescopes. It's an admin position, and I have zero admin experience, but I like astronomy and have a couple of telescopes, so they hired me. It's about a 35% pay cut from my restaurant job, but I get to wear nice clothes and don't come home smelling like burnt garlic and get to leave every day by 6. Every other employee there (except the other admin) is a middle-aged-to-elderly man with decades of amateur astronomy experience and they don't seem to care that I'm introverted and awkward. I have learned so much about telescopes in the five days I've worked there. One day they let me take this telescope out into the parking lot to practice using an equatorial mount (my telescope has an altazimuth mount, which is much simpler to use) and polar alignment. The best way to test if you've polar aligned something is to follow a celestial body -- the scope turns around the polar axis and the object moves across the sky east-west, so you should only have to adjust one of the dials (right ascension) to keep it centered. Being the middle of the day, the only thing I had to test my alignment on was the sun, so my boss rummaged around in the store room and found me a solar filter so I could track the sun through the scope without blinding myself. I got to look at the surface of the sun! I could see sunspots! It was amazing. In August they're planning on sending me to a star party in Ontario. I've never been on a business trip before. Shit, even my successful friends don't get to travel for work.

The only problem is that I doubt it will last. I was hired because the owner of the store, which is by all accounts very successful, recently became the main Canadian dealer for a European telescope brand and he's trying to get other astronomy stores in Canada to carry it. My job is the be the 'face' of this brand, and I have my doubts that it'll be successful.

But that's okay. Even if this isn't my ticket out of the food service industry, I'll still get to learn a shit ton about astronomy, and if they have to let me go for lack of work in a couple of months, maybe they'll feel bad and give me a nice discount on a new telescope.
Two good things:

Yesterday I ran a full 5K for the first time. I moved all my music over to my phone so I noticed for the first time that the running app I use talks to me, notifying me when I hit a kilometer milestone and telling me my pace. It was surprisingly encouraging, and I ran the whole 5 kilometers in just under 35 minutes.

The brewery I used to work for is hiring lab technicians, so I applied, CCing any management people there that I thought might remember me. I told Scott that I would consider the whole ordeal a success if I got a personally-written email from any of them. I'd be happy with something as small as 'Of course I remember you, unfortunately we have six bajillion applications, most of them from people with master's degrees, so...' Yesterday I got an email from the manager of the brewery, telling me he'd forwarded my info to the lab manager and the ops manager. I know the ops manager but not the lab manager so that's probably the end of it, but still: not a form letter!

Tiny fucking victories, people.

Of course today I'm back to feeling like crap about myself because I'm supposed to go wedding dress shopping with a friend, and she's going to a shop that's nowhere near transit and I'm the only one of the bridesmaids who can't drive (because I am a fucking child) so someone has to come out of their way and pick me up at the train station, and I can't join them in their bridesmaid dress excursion tomorrow because I work weekends (fucking child) so I'm simultaneously feeling like the least successful member of my social group and the worst friend.

Run run run

I was in the thrift store a while ago, trying to find jeans (no luck, if you were curious). The thrift store always has the easy listening station playing on the radio, so while I was fruitlessly flipping through racks of denim I had to listen to the mild-mannered, middle-aged DJ going on about this study, which Mr. DJ found "shocking". He was of the opinion that any percentage of teenage girls meeting up with "strangers from the Internet" (his phrasing) was too high. In his opinion, the only acceptable time to meet strangers from the Internet is with your parents, older brother, and bodyguards in tow.

I find this mindset pretty baffling and horrendously outdated, to be honest. Why would he assume that teenage girls were meeting with men? I've met plenty of people from the Internet, and most of them have been women that I've met through TV fandom. I also have to wonder what type of activity counted as meeting someone from the Internet. Buying or selling stuff on Craigslist of Kijiji? Job interviews that have been arranged via email?

Also the pearl-clutching just reminded me that there are loads of people out there who still think the Internet is populated exclusively by mouth-breathing basement-dwellers who just want to rape teenagers in between games of Dungeons and Dragons. *sigh*

In my last real post I mentioned starting the Couch to 5K running program, which I have since 'finished' -- I can't run 5 km yet, but I can run for 30 minutes, which is all the program really promises, since I was tracking the runs by time and not by distance. I've downloaded a few apps that claim to track distance via GPS on my phone, but none of them seem to work terribly well. Using Google maps and a timer, it seems like I average about 4 - 4.5 km per run, which is not terrible. I run at a fairly slow pace because running hurts my feet and knees something fierce otherwise, and because I am horribly out of shape. From previous experiences trying to pick up running I know this is usually the point where I plateau and give up. Hmm.

Books read 2012

BooksCollapse )

Total books read this year: 23
Fiction: 12
Non-fiction: 11

I didn't read much this year. Or, what I did read, I didn't finish and so can't count. Hmm.

Space!

I did the first workout in a Couch to 5k program tonight. It felt awesome. It was a gorgeous, clear, starry night, and I could see Jupiter shining brightly in the east, so when I got home I took my telescope outside and had a look. I could see three of its moons, and two clear cloud bands. Four hours later I checked it again and could see 4 moons. I know from this that the moon that appeared in the four hour interval was Io, which was just passing across Jupiter's face earlier in the night. It's odd to look at a tiny point of light in my telescope and think, "That's the most volcanically active body in the solar system,". Since I got my telescope Jupiter is the only planet that's been easily visible -- Mars sets in the west just after the sun these days, and Saturn rises in the east just before the sun. Venus is visible too, but it's just a featureless ball of light through the 'scope. I don't know enough about astronomy yet to know (or really care) much about its phases.

Nerdy hobbies: distracting me from my interpersonal and financial shortcomings since 1992.

Books read in 2011

These are the books I read in 2011. Much lower number than in 2010 -- I had trouble finding English books in BKK. Major thanks to wiscck for sending me a big box of books when my complaining got to be too much.

In the beginning of the year I had vague plans to read all the books that have won the Hugo award, which is why (new-to-me)Hugo winners are noted on the list. I... didn't make it very far with that goal, heh.

ListCollapse )

Non-fiction: 11
Fiction: 24
Re-reads: 4
New Hugo winners: 3

Favourites
Fiction - A Game of Thrones, A Storm of Swords, Speaker for the Dead

Non-fiction - Bad Science, Dead Men Do Tell Tales

Most books read by:
Orson Scott Card (5), George R.R. Martin (4), Stephen King (2), Ken Follett (2)

Heh.

My friend Cristina is very slowly making her way through the Harry Potter books. Yesterday she sent me this text:

Bellatrix kills Sirius with a shot/spell to the chest!

I can't wait till she reads Half Blood Prince.

NB: If I spoiled you, I'm sorry, but the book came out 8 years ago, and the movie 4. Even Cristina, who's a major spoiler-phobe, knew that Sirius died. She just didn't know how.

Home again, home again

Back in Vancouver. Just a few thoughts:

1. Holy fuck it's cold. And the air is so dry! It's awful.

2. Korean Air, despite what you may have read about them in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, is a very nice airline. They give you free booze in economy!

3. Seoul seemed like a really cool city and I'm sad that we only got a few hours there. After Bangkok it seemed beautiful and sparkling-clean and I'm wondering if my opinion of living abroad would have been drastically different if we had gone to teach there, like we'd originally planned, rather than Thailand.

4. I have an apartment and a job. The apartment is probably about 700 square feet, which might have felt tiny at one point, but after our apartment in Bangkok it feels like a mansion. We have a kitchen! The bedroom is its own separate room! The job is at a restaurant within walking distance to my home (Anton's Pasta Bar, for the Vancouverites on my flist). I haven't started yet.

5. We got out of Bangkok at a very good time, it seems. The city is fuuuuuucked. Scott did some poking around on forums this afternoon and found out that the main road right by our apartment (the one we both caught buses on on the way to work) is under about half a metre or a metre of water, and the district we lived in is under an evacuation warning.

6. I had a long list of foods I wanted to eat once we got home: sushi, poutine (shut up), nachos, dollar slice, and Greek food, to name a few. Everything but the Greek food has been accomplished. I need more sushi, though.

7. I've yet to watch a Canucks game. I'll have to rectify that soon.

8. My friends are very well-meaning and keep suggesting places I should try to work, as if I'm too good for kitchen work now. "Why not this temp agency?" "Why not WorkSafe BC?", they say. They mean well, they really do, so I usually just smile and thank them for the suggestion. I try not to rain negativity down on them by pointing out that my chances of such jobs are practically nill, what with me being 29 years old and completely lacking any 'office' experience, unable to touch type, and lacking a car. Livejournal gets all my negativity instead.

9. I'm sorry for my failure to comment this last little while. Bad lj friend, I know.

10. I missed our gaming systems. We went to EB Games yesterday and bought a couple of used games: Assassin's Creed 2 (for me - for $8!) and the Undead Nightmare expansion of Red Dead Redemption (for Scott). It's also been fun playing Beautiful Katamari.

11. I'm really, really happy to be back in Canada. :)

The second half of my birthday

So after I wrote my last post we went out for Mexican food and then went to a bar here that is rapidly becoming our Cheers or McLaren's. The bartenders gave me a drink with a sparkler in it and Scott was thoroughly trounced at chess by a computer engineer from Israel. When we went back to our bungalow around midnight we found it had been broken into. We lost 3 laptops, two cameras, an iPod, and a bunch of cash, but they left our phones, credit cards, passports, and Kindle. A fairly crummy end to what had been, up to that point, a fantastic birthday, but it could have been worse -- the guys in the bungalow next to ours were robbed as well, and they lost their passports. This was Wednesday night, and two of them were flying out today (Friday), so they had to rush back to Bangkok to try and persuade the British embassy to issue them some kind of emergency replacement passports. Shitty, shitty deal. Stealing electronics is one thing, but theft of IDs is an awful thing to do to someone.
It's my birthdaaaaaay! I went scuba diving and my dive master was named Tintin. Scott rented a motorbike and toured around the island and now he's really sunburnt but he didn't crash or hurt himself in any other way so I can stop fretting about him. Tonight there's a full moon party at a bar near our bungalow. We'll drink buckets and go to the beach for midnight swimming and everything will be awesome.

This time next week we'll be home, broke and aimless and terribly jet-lagged, but for now I'm on a tropical island and it's a little bubble of happiness.