Monday, April 27, 2009

Chickening out...for the time being

I've decided to can the idea of applying to one of the current EPL postings (bock, bock, bock...). Not because I don't want to write a cover letter, but because it doesn't feel right. I'm getting crazy-anxious over the idea of having to drive to work and I'm worried my summer plans would get messed up. Plus, I'm not sure I want to work with children. I like children well enough (the well behaved ones, anyway). But I don't think I want to have to work with them during every shift at work. So, no applying to a new job just yet. But I'm going to keep looking for new opportunities. I've got all summer.



Saturday, April 25, 2009

Work Woes

For the past three years I've worked at the Alberta Research Centre for Health Evidence (ARCHE). I got the job by accident, really. I applied for a job that as it turned out I wasn't qualified for. The person interviewing me happened to also be a member of ARCHE and they needed research assistants. I had the job within a couple of hours and I was to start the following week. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I'd never heard of systematic review before and I was pretty sure I was dreadfully under qualified.

Even three years later I have days where I think I'm not really qualified. My understanding of statistics is limited and I have no knowledge of epidemiology. I do have a degree in nursing, which helps a little. At least I know something of the diseases and conditions we do reviews on. I feel sometimes like I'm not meticulous enough, i.e., I'm not careful enough when I do data extraction, verification or quality assessment. It sometimes feels like I can't focus my brain enough to pick out all the minute details that other people are capable of.

Although I'm not sure I can say I've enjoyed the job, I don't dislike it. It's definitely the best job I've ever had and I've been treated pretty well as a University of Alberta employee. I've never had a problem getting time off for vacation or going home at Christmas time. I don't receive benefits but I do receive pay in lieu of. I've got some publications to my name (a review on diabetes and one on hepatitis C) and I think the research experience helped me get into library school.

However, I have felt for a long time that the job isn't quite for me. It's seven hours a day of staring at a computer screen. Reading, noting things, making decisions. Working on my own, for the most part. I feel constrained in the 8 to 4 work schedule. It doesn't allow me to be creative. On nice sunny days I often spend a little more time than I should wistfully staring out my office window at the big blue Alberta sky wishing I could be out riding my bike in the river valley, or at home writing.

I have decided this week that I'm going to start looking for a new job. There's a posting right now with the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) that I'm going to apply for. It's part time and it's over in Bonnie Doon (which would mean I'd have to drive). But, the shifts would vary and I'd get to interact with other people as a part of my job. I'm not sure what kind of chance I'd have at even getting an interview, but I'll give it a try anyway. I haven't updated my resume in three years. If this job doesn't work out, I'll keep looking. EPL, U of A. If they're still looking for students for SLIS collaborative later in the summer I might apply to that too.

We'll see.



Saturday, April 18, 2009

The growing book list

I have a growing list of books to finish reading or to read.

To finish:
1) North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (less than 100 pages to go)
2) Watchmen by Alan Moore (I'm about halfway through)
3) The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones (This is just a casual pick up and read a few entries at a time, it lives on top of the toilet tank)
4) Map of Glass by Jane Urquhart (I started this one last summer and kept getting interrupted--I'll probably just have to start over again)
5) Heart of Stone by C.E. Murphy (I also started this one last summer, but I'm not sure I want to finish it--I don't care about the main character or her love interest)

To read and have a copy of:
1) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (newly purchased)
2) The House of Many Ways by Diana Wynn Jones (newly received)
3) Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
4) Bridget Jones: Beyond Reason by Helen Fielding
5) American Gods by Neil Gaiman
6) Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
7) More Terry Pratchett's than I can reasonably list here

To purchase or find a copy of:
1) The Book Thief (don't know who wrote it)
2) Castle in the Air by Diana Wynn Jones

Hm. I think that's it for now. Perhaps I'll get through a few of these. I should at least attempt to finish the ones I've actually got copies of...then we'll see. No rush on the Terry Pratchetts. More will just appear on our shelves as Andrew strives to collect them all. Plus I don't think Andrew's read them all yet so I'm safe for now. The overarching problem is, I'm trying to write as much as possible with my available time, which doesn't leave more than half an hour in bed a night to read. Plus I'm taking two courses this summer. We'll see what I manage.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Church attendance conundrum, proper post: Part 2

I've been a church goer all my life. Like most people I was brought to church as a baby, oblivious to what was going on around me. Eventually I decided to be baptized when I was eighteen (I grew up in a Baptist Church). When I started going to Ryerson University in Toronto I started going to a United Church and as a preference I have been attending United services ever since.

My post is not; however, about choosing the type of church to attend. Not in the Baptist v. United v. Catholic, way at least.

I'm having some issues with the church I attend in Edmonton. It's Robertson-Wesley United Church. When I started going there about three years ago, they had an intern minister, Rev. Ravencraft (awesome name, I know. I used it in a MS). He was a very good minister. I liked the way he constructed his sermons. The music was also good, so I kept going. After a short while, R-W brought in a new minister, Rev. Allen. I was not enamored with his sermons. I actually stopped going for a while and checked out a different church in Edmonton. Eventually I returned because I still preferred the music.

This past Sunday, Easter Sunday, Rev. Allen gave another one of his sermons. He used a movie plot to describe the idea of light coming out of darkness. He didn't even mention Jesus being resurrected (wouldn't you think that was a requirement for an Easter Sunday service?). I find I'm often at odds with his choice of words or metaphors. I don't disagree with his message, I just tend not to like the way he presents it. Meanwhile, Rev. Ravencraft is still at R-W, as the youth minister. I couldn't help but wonder on Sunday, as he sat in the front row of the church listening to Rev. Allen, does he realize he's a far superior preacher and sermon writer? I don't know. Maybe he just really likes to work with kids.

This got me thinking that maybe I should look for a different church to attend. One that offers me better spiritual fulfillment. Problem is, I'm picky.

I do like the music at R-W. The choir is generally well practiced, the organist is sufficiently skilled and there are often musical "extras" such as a bell choir, or visiting external choirs, which I really enjoy. But, the anthems are almost always "high" choral pieces, i.e. often the composer was dead long before the 20th century and the words are in Latin. And most of the hymns are old, traditional ones, despite the fact that they have a newer more contemporary hymnal in the pews.

This is the real crux of my problem. Here's what I don't like (ney hate) in church music. Electric guitars, drums, groups of young-ish people standing at the front of the church singing at me instead of with me and above all else: screen projectors. I do not want/need a rock band in church. What I would like is a choir that occasionally sings something written after 1900. Same with the hymns. I don't even mind guitars or pianos (instead of organs) during a church service, just don't plug them in. And for God's sake (yes God's) give me the real music, not just the words flashing up on a screen. These demands may be difficult to meet if I want to find a congregation that isn't entirely made up of retirees.

As I commented to Andrew on the weekend, if I'm going to switch churches I need to start looking now. If I wait until the summer I'll find that regular church ministers are away on vacation and I won't get a proper representation of what the church I visit is like. And I have to remember, we have a car. I don't have to attend a church because it's within walking distance.



On the matter of birthdays, proper post: Part 1

I have two different topics I would like to blog about this week, so I am going to write two separate posts. This is the first.

My birthday was last week. On Wednesday. Unfortunately, I had to spend almost the entire night completing final assignments as I had three due on Thursday. Not the most ideal way to spend a birthday, but since starting university nine years ago, my birthday has had a tendency to fall over exam periods. This is not the first time I have had to spend it studying. Andrew was kind enough to make me a delicious pasta dinner and we had German beer (Warsteiner Dunkel) to go along with it. It was nice, but it was also 10:00 pm before I turned the computer off and got to relax--by going to bed.

On the whole, I don't mind birthdays. I don't mind getting older. After all, as you get older you gain privileges. You may even gain wisdom. But I find it goes by awfully fast. And at the end of the day I find myself feeling unremarkable and a little sad that my birthday is over already. I've never enjoyed having my birthday celebrated before the actual date. If there's already been cake and presents I feel that by the time the actual day arrives it slips by even more unremarkably than normal. Maybe it's just weird. Maybe it's just me. I don't know. Maybe like the kid-neighbour in The Incredibles I'm just looking for something more amazing to happen.

That being said, I did have a nice get-together at my apartment on Saturday night. I had a collection of friends over. I baked a bunch of deserts. We sat and ate, chatted and then played Wii for a while. My wrist still hurts from some of those games (damn rabbits). It was nice. I even got a few gifts.



Thursday, April 9, 2009

Freedom tastes like celery and cottage wait, that's victory

I've been planning that blog title for a while, it amuses and at this point, that's all that matters. Today everything is done. For school that is, for now. Until I start my spring class in less than a month.

As a point of fact, I actually like both celery and cottage cheese--as long as the celery isn't too bitter...and I could eat cottage cheese by the tub-full.

Tonight I'm going to get back to writing...after I've exercised, walked the cat and washed the dishes. I'm also going to start twittering my process. I'll see if I can get the twitter posts connected up with here.

That's all I've got to say for now. I'll make a proper post later this weekend, maybe.



**The celery + cottage cheese = victory statement comes from a deleted scene from the movie Miss Congeniality. Miss New Jersey: "Do you know what celery and cottage cheese tastes like? Victory"

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Weekend accomplishments

I passed my skating test.

We visited with family (this is my nephew, Alexander, who is as cute as the proverbial button).

Caroline and Giancarlo were successfully married.

And we made it home again.

That's all I've got time for now.