Sunday, September 30, 2007

Work is a Four Letter Word

CDs in Play: Neurosis, Times of Grace. Black Moth Super Rainbow, Dandelion Gum.

I have been hunting for new work of late and finding the workplace to be a bit of a contrast to what the media are saying about it. I need to start making more money in order to make it back to school and move to Saskatoon. I figure I need to make at least $18.00 an hour to get the ball rolling given the cost of living in the Metropolitan Vancouver Area. So far I have been out of luck. For a place that the news has been hyping up as an employment hot spot, the Lower Mainland job climate seems remarkably cool.
There are jobs I have been trying for and just not getting. Translink actively hires and seeks people to work on Skytrain, but so far I have yet to get them to notice me. I know two people working as Attendants and neither of them have my pedigree or recommendations. Competition is stiff, I know, but I still have a lot experience in my favour. Translink or Coast Mountain have another security force, separate from the Transit cops, but I have been unable to figure out who does the actual hiring, etc. I also tried for bus driver, but I need to have held my current driver's license for three years - I haven't even reached the one year mark with my new license.
So where are all the jobs? The media out here has gone on at some length about how employers paying $12.00 an hour and below are having a hard time finding people willing to work for such low wages. Apparently, there are so many hot, high paying jobs out there that some employers just can't compete. But where are these alleged jobs? I have looked in papers, online and asked around but no one is really too sure. But everyone just knows what a hot job market we have going right now, the media tells us about it.
Some of these hot jobs are in construction, which makes sense as we head towards the 2010 Olympics. I know a few contractors who are always looking for people. Unfortunately I have a minor physical disability that keeps me out of construction and manual labour - too much of a liability. But there has to be more jobs out there than just construction? Can a hot job market really be comprised of one industry alone? I think not.
Given the huge strike happening in the City of Vancouver, it is obviously not going through a hiring boom at this time. I looked on and Workopolis but all I see are the same crap jobs, managerial positions and soulless office jockey work that I have seen online since 2002. Cold something else be going on in Vancouver's job crisis? Could there be another reason why people are not working jobs in Vancouver that pay less that $12.00 an hour? Could it be the cost of living is out of control?
Unless you are in one of the better earning brackets, life in Vancouver and the surrounding area can get to be a bit hand to mouth. The Provincial Government has allowed landlords to jack up rents by something like 11-12% a year, which has lead to some staggering leaps in rental prices. The housing market is out of the reach of many ordinary working families. All this leads to people being pushed further and further out of the Metropolitan area.
Costs of living, costs of commuting, the time taken to commute back and forth all have to play as factors in Vancouver's mini-employment crisis. The truth, as far as I can see it, is that there is no hot job market in Vancouver. Certain areas would seem to be doing a lot of hiring, while service industry jobs suffer from high turn over due to the fact that their necessarily lower wages cannot compete with the high cost of living in, what regional propagandists like to call, the "Best Place on Earth".
Seems to me the only way we are going to see some stability in this region is for the municipal and provincial governments to acknowledge the growing disparity between it citizenry and to get serious about curbing the rising costs of living and and the absurd prices of what could be called "unreal" estate. The failure to do so can only result in more serious problems for the region down the road.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Vein of Stars

CD in Play: Neurosis, Times of Grace (Song in my head, "Vein of Stars" by The Flaming Lips)

I have never truly seen the sights I have seen in these pictures. I have never seen the Milky way as clearly as these pictures depict it, but I want to. And I am somewhat saddened by the fact that I cannot explore these places, that this immense and curious galaxy is shut off to us by time space and limited progress.

Maybe this longing - one that I have had my whole life - is the reason that I am drawn to a show like Doctor Who? The fantasy of not only being able to explore time but space as well appeals to me: to most of the people I call friends, I imagine.

I'd never have the mathematical chops to make it in Astronomy, but I am still drawn in by the night sky with the some curiosity and awe that I had as a kid living in Port Coquitlam sitting on the front steps with one of my parents (usually my Mum) staring up at the sky with H.A. Rey's Find the Constellations in hand.

One of things I hope to do while I am living in Saskatchewan is to get somewhere way out there, someplace with minimal light pollution and look up at the sky to see it like this. Who knows?
Photos credits: No.1 by Dan Duriscoe, No. 2 by Chris Dick, No. 3 by Mila.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

After the FLips

CD in Play: Black Moth Super Rainbow, Dandelion Gum.

It was looking grim yesterday and I was - as is apparent below - not happy about having to see the Flaming Lips at an outdoor show in the pouring rain. Before I left from it had started to thunder and flashes of lightening could be seen all over the sky, and that is unusual for this area. It was still spitting rain when I got to Commercial Drive to meet up with some old university friends for the show, but the weather had improved somewhat by the time I reached Stanley Park. Still overcast but in a way that told you it wasn't about to rain.
The opening act, Black Moth Super Rainbow from Pennsylvania, was one of the best opening acts I have seen in a while. They are sort of a cross between Boards of Canada and Air with a healthy measure of Goblin and the Olivia Tremor Control thrown in for good measure. Great psych rock act: no talking, no posing.
It was still fairly light out when the FLips hit the stage. They are such a positive band that my foul mood completely melted away. When they last played here in 2003 I was so happy after the show that my crappy, soul crushing office job couldn't touch me for three days. I'm feeling pretty elated now. They played stuff from all their albums, including a song I really liked from Zaireeka. ("Riding To WOrk In The YEar 2025 (Your Invisible Now)" I think) There were streamers, confetti, giant balloons filled with confetti, women in elf costumes wearing alien masks, guys and Santa suits, roadie dressed as DC and Marvel Superheroes and then there were the FLips themselves. Wayne Coyne hopped in a giant inflatable bubble and rolled out over top the audience for a bit at the start. People sang and yelled along and the night was good.
I'd still like to give Sam Sullivan a swift kick to someplace he can feel pain, but I am quite happy at the moment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gripes and Grudges

CD in Play: Hüsker Dü, Zen Arcade.

Sam Bloody Sullivan

Vancouver is in the middle of a rather large strike which has affected many services all though out the city. Some people are inclined to blame C.U.P.E., but I am inclined to blame Vancouver's incompetent politicians, like his "Worship" Sam Sullivan and the city manager Judy Rogers. (who received a $48,000 pay out this year) I was really angry about the strike before but I am livid now, since the Flaming Lips have been moved from The Orpheum (an indoor venue) to the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park - an out of the way outdoor venue.
Not only is it inconvenient for those of us who rely on Transit and live further away, but the weather is looking really grim outside. I was looking forward to seeing the FLips in an indoor venue, where I could be seated and where I wouldn't have to endure a multitude of pot and cigarette smokers who seem to feel that everyone enjoys smell of marijuana, nicotine, tar and cyanide.
My biggest consolation is that Sullivan is sure to prove to be a one term blunderer with no hope for re-election. Hopefully he pulls down people like Judy Rogers with him.

Gordon "DUI- 'I know I wasn't always honest as mayor but I promise I'll be better when I am Premier'" Campbell

Apparently, the BC Liberal government has just increased the number of seats in the British Columbia Legislature from an already bloated 79 up to an utterly obese 87. He's done this by creating new ridings in so-called "growing regions". Normally I find The Province's Michael Smith to be little more than an apologist for the BC Liberal Party and his apparent fishing buddy, Gordon Campbell. However, Smith has pointed out that these new ridings have been created from areas where the Liberals are strongest and that Campbell's Gerrymandering has exceeded the electoral fudging and fiddling of any other politician in recent Provincial history. Campbell wants a third term and is hellbound to guarantee it. What an utter scumbag. People cry about the coruption in politics and how something must be done. Something can - don't return Gordo to office.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

RIP Madeleine L'Engle

CD in Play: Neurosis, Times of Grace.

While the news lamented the passing of the famed Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, the death of an enormous literary talent passed by largely unnoticed. Madeleine L'Engle passed away on September 6th as well. L'engle was the author of such books as A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet and Many Waters. It has been far too long since I have read any of these books and need to rectify that soon.


CD in Play: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Stoned and Dethroned.

Olfactory Deceptions

Why is it that smell that comes from pizza by the slice places often smells like body odour, until you get with in 30 feet?


I have become obsessed with getting my friend's son Doctor Who action figures. Perhaps I am just I am just making up for not being able to be the uncle I'd like to have been to my step-families children, but I look forward to getting the kid these toys. They look great. Sadly, the worst figure is the one for the Ninth Doctor - not so much a toy as a poseable figure. So far I have picked up The Tenth Doctor with sonic screwdriver and mini remote control K-9, the Werewolf from Series 2 and a Cyberman. If you like the series check out:

Life Stuff

Work is back in full swing with the start of a new semester, and it can get kind of crazy. I'll be looking for a new place as my current land lady is nuts. I was two days late with my rent, due to a cock-up with my cheque at Head Office, and she has been avoiding me ever since.
I keep my area closed and neither my roommate or I open any of living room or kitchen windows wide - especially when we are at work. (they remain closed) The living room was obviously sprayed by a cat one day. There was no smell when I left, but it reeked when I came home. My roommate was home earlier and mentioned it to the land lady. She maintains that it is somehow our fault that the cat got in - while we were at work - and that we must pay for the cleaning. She also has been getting up aropund 5 am to move furnature. My roommate's room is out of the way of this activity, mine is not.
Meanwhile, I still need a better paying job so I can move out to Saskatoon and start up at the University of Saskatchewan. Hoping to get in with Translink in this current round of hiring. Also trying Border Services and the Coast Mountain Bus Company for a depot job.
It is a good thing the Flaming Lips are at the Orpheum on the 18th - I need something to make me smile.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Shoe Gazing

It surprises some people to know that I listen to this kind of music. Not anyone that actually knows me, but people who have just met me. But I have a soft spot for My Bloody Vanlentine and this track in particular, "Only Shallow". The a;bum this is from (Loveless) has helped me get over a few rough patches in my life, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Shut it! (Sorry, I've been watching British Cop Shows)

CD in Play: The Beatles, Revolver.

"We're The Sweeney, son, and we haven't had any dinner. You've kept us waiting, so unless you want a kicking you tell us where those photographs are." from the episode, Ringer.

I don't have credit cards. This makes life a tad difficult in some respects, not the least being that it is hard to find a place that will let me rent DVDs. I finally found a place on Commercial Drive, Black Dog video, which has a really interesting selection of films and television series. Just had to pay a deposit and show my driver's license. They have many films and series in stock that I had been thinking I would have to buy should I ever wish to watch them. Case in point, The Sweeney from 1975.
I had heard of The Sweeney before, but had no clue what it was like or what it was all about until my friend Gavin explained what he knew about the show. (some of it wrong - he thought it was supposed to be set in either Glasgow or Manchester, for instance) The show is about "The Flying Squad", later re-named the Central Robbery Squad, of London's Metropolitan Police force. It was ground-breaking at the time for its gritty and often unflattering depiction of the members of the flying squad. The Sweeney looked at the effect the job had on the officers home and family lives, and had episodes where the members of the Sweeney flagrantly bend and or break the law in order to achieve a conviction.
Just being a little kid at the time, I could not tell you how real or how fake an American show like Baretta was, (both shows ran concurrently across the Pond) but it seems to me that the cop shows of the 70's that ran here in North America lacked the same degree of grit and realism. The main character, Jack Regan, is often set up by his superiors as a fall guy. In one episode a well known bank robber, Lyon, walks out of court a free man, costing one of Regan's superiors a promotion. Regan's superior gives him carte blanche to take down Lyon anyway he sees fit. Regan baldly breaks the law in one case and unwittingly manipulates the death of an individual in Lyon's gang leaving the man's pregnant wife a widow. Another of Regan's superior's expresses concerns about how this fiasco could tarnish their chances at promotion, but his superior re-iterates that Regan will take the flack for anything that the press may find out.
I think I can see just how The Sweeney had an impact on shows like Hill Street Blues, where there was an attempt to try and depict the reality of serving in a Police Force. Life on Mars obviously owes its existence to The Sweeney, in the way it compares and contrasts the way Police work was conducted in 1972 as opposed to Police work and attitudes in 2006.