Monthly Archives: November 2014

Finding a way out

First, stay alive.  Second, get out of the place you’re in.
Quake instruction manual

simpsons_buddhism

This helps with anxiety — at least until I stop doing it

Today seems to have represented both the worst and the best emotional states I’ve experienced recently.  To summarise my current situation: while I may not like the job I have right now, the next worst thing happened on Monday when they overheard me saying I was searching for another job, and they told me I was on my one week’s notice, and that Sunday will be my last shift.

It’s probably for the best, as the shifts have been making me ill: not having evenings or weekends takes a massive toll, especially on a possibly-autistic routine-craving person like me, and I’ve ended up not having a free evening since last Friday (the only two free evenings I’ve had, I’ve done social stuff on).  I spent two years sorting out my physical and emotional health, and in a couple of weeks it feels like both have been almost wrecked… mind you, I was becoming desensitised to the sordid nature of the material we deal with, and perhaps a normal 9-to-5, Mon-to-Fri job at the same company would have been fine.

(The sickest thing of all, which could only have been conjured up in the depraved imagination of the most perverted lunatic… the NIGHT SHIFT!!!)

Either way, I’m having to search for work all over again, and it’s not going as well as it did during that week in October when I kept my grandmother company… I’ve applied for far, far more jobs and called up far more recruiters this week than I did last month (not helped by the fact that 3 Mobile can’t provide a decent signal in Finchley at the moment — thank $DEITY for Bluetooth headphones), yet I feel I’ve got less to show for it, and every day I’ve felt a great deal of anxiety about the future — worse than I was feeling at my job, when I thought I was helpless.

But hey, even if I don’t get an IT job right away, I can always do a temp admin job, right?  Well, direct me to the nearest high street temp agency, then… I got very frustrated tramping around North Finchley on Wednesday afternoon, discovering several restaurants where Google had told me these agencies existed, and although I later found one right around the corner from here, today I went in and discovered, er, I shouldn’t have been able to go in at all (someone had propped the door open with a fire extinguisher), because they don’t take visitors.

This seems to be the way things are now: if you want temp work, instead of handing your CV to a temp controller on the high street and waiting for them to find you work (which I used to do back in the days of the dinosaurs), you have to sign up to every website going, phone up recruiters in these closed offices and chase, chase, chase, the same as I’m already doing with “proper” jobs.  It feels like applying for jobs is itself a full-time job for me — and worse, unpaid…

There must be a way out of my situation, there simply must be.  I’m planning to visit a Citizens’ Advice Bureau next week, to find out what my options are: does temp work still exist as something you can be put forward for without having to interview like everything else, or can I sign on the dole?  My anxiety won’t go away on its own, I have to remove the cause — but can I count on getting a decently-paid job in time to save myself from running out of money?

Actually, something my doctor gave me this morning seems to have helped: there I was at work, on my third-to-last evening shift ever, feeling depressed about my situation, and then I read through the pamphlet he gave me on anxiety, and it seemed to help.  Not so much in terms of its advice, but rather, er, the fact that I was able to write on the back of one page and try to calculate a puzzle I’d seen on Facebook!

Yes, much like my yoga class on Tuesday night, the movie I saw with “best mate” on Wednesday night, my boxing session with my personal trainer on Thursday morning and my attempts to study SQL during my Thursday evening shift, distraction was what I needed — my anxiety reduced, my mood levelled out and my stomach stopped misbehaving.  And on this occasion, I was able to marshal my thoughts and vow, out loud (well, whispering), that I would carry on, that I would get a job in IT and earn enough to stay in London and carry on doing the things I enjoy — and that even if the worst came to the worst and I had to move back to Worthing, it wouldn’t be forever, because I’d keep applying, and one day go back, even if I had to stay in a hotel for a few weeks…

Perhaps my mother was right, and what I really need to do is get a job outside London, most likely in Surrey — I’m not so desperate to remain in this exact house as I was before.  There’s the mobile coverage issue, and the fact that British Gas won’t be able to survey our loft for free insulation until January (maybe by then the landlady’s men will have cleared out the junk that’s up there?) after I postponed them; it’s almost as though Finchley is trying to convince me to move on.  In an ideal world I could move somewhere on the Jubilee Line (sharing with “best mate”, of course) and commute down to a good IT job in Waterloo, and have my mother move up to Surrey somewhere on the Waterloo train line.  That’d certainly be the best of both worlds…

(Okay, in a truly perfect world I’d have the job of oiling up bikini models in Hawaii, but I know when I’m asking for too much!)

Anyway, I felt strangely better after vowing to myself to carry on — to stay alive and see through whatever’s coming.  Maybe I’ll be able to sleep properly tonight — and hopefully next week I’ll be able to re-establish my old routine, and not have to miss out dinner (or have it at lunchtime) because of evening shifts.  And at least at the weekend I don’t have to apply for jobs — instead I can, er, play games and relax.  Well, until my evening shift, anyway…

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Time to grow up?

Will I dig the same things that turn me on as a kid?
—The Beach Boys, “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)”

You can tell I’m feeling a lot of emotions at the moment, since this is my third post in a week, after a long drought!

If I metaphorically died in 2011, then 2012 would be the year I was reborn, kicking and screaming, into this terrible and uncaring world.  By extension, 2013 would be a happy childhood (despite a few problems, I genuinely enjoyed that year), merging into my teenage years in late 2013 and the first half of 2014.  Unfortunately, the past few months, where I’ve been made redundant and tried so very hard to get into IT, have been like the very worst parts of growing up and facing responsibility — because now I might have to give up the things that made the past two years of my life not only bearable, but spectacular…

Climbing at the Castle in 2012 started me on the road to physical health, and in addition enabled me to socialise to some extent (when you consider I essentially never went out in the evening otherwise).  Starting to see my personal trainer in 2013 massively helped this along — under his guidance I’ve achieved things I would otherwise never have even suspected I could do — but I think of him as a friend rather than just a PT, and I think that if I ever had to stop seeing him (due to moving away from London, say), I’d feel like a vital part of me was being ripped out.  Not visiting the Castle any more would certainly suck, but not having his guidance and support would be like losing a limb…

(Yeah, here we go, accusations of “bromance”…)

The same goes for the Meetup.com groups I discovered in 2013 — I sincerely doubt I’d find anything as good outside London — and my dating coach, not to mention being able to hang out with “best mate” for various adventures.  Living out in Surrey, where my mother wants me to find work, would make it rather harder for me to get into the centre, especially in the evenings after work — meetup groups having helped me come out of my shell and interact with actual human beings (not to mention get the occasional date).

And then there’s this house: despite all the problems (for example, I’m going to have to ask the landlady if she can send her men in to clear out the loft so a surveyor from British Gas can see about getting us free loft insulation, so that it’s not always so COLD in here!), this is the house where I came back to life in 2012, and I’ve made my life here — and while I may bitch about the Northern Line when it goes wrong, it’s a Tube line I’m used to and can cope with, and indeed sit down and read on (using buses and the Overground to commute at the moment is very unpleasant).

I actually find myself — and I genuinely never thought this would happen — missing working at Camden: the job may have been below my intelligence level, and the annoying woman may have been, er, annoying on a daily basis, but it’s only hit me since leaving just what a rockstar lifestyle I was able to have, thanks to my take-home pay (over £1,700pcm when I was acting up).  But maybe I was getting too comfortable, and sinking into another rut, like the one which culminated in my quasi-death in 2011…

Is it time to move on and get a “proper” job?  Do I need to come out of my “second childhood” and commit myself to suffering along with all the other grown-ups, putting away “childish things”?  Or am I just in this funk because I’m stuck in unrewarding shift work, just as winter sets in, and feel trapped, and am I under no obligation to give up anything since I could always find a decent IT job right here in London, and get my evenings and weekends back again?  Indeed, am I just focusing on eminently replaceable things that I could actually find outside London, and worrying about losing things that I don’t need to keep?

To be honest, I doubt I could get a “proper”, mega-well-paid, high-responsibility job in IT at my current level of experience — I simply need to put in more hours as a bum, learning as I go.  I also need to find a job at a big organisation, with room for progression and promotion, rather than a two-bit company like the one I’m at now, but I may need to do more jobs like this one in the short term.  I reckon I’ll need to slum it as a Level 1 tech support for at least another six months, maybe a year, before I can get something more substantial — and thus, referring back to this post, I’m going to say that I want to stay in London, carry on doing the things I enjoy, and live in this house, at least until the summer of 2015.

Upheavals are always difficult, but in the dark days of winter they’re almost unendurable (as I know only too well) — perhaps by the time the Sun spends more time in than out of the sky, I’ll be ready to move on with my life, and bid a fond farewell to the things that made me happy during my resurrection, as I seek new challenges and rewards…

(I should confess, I’m tearing up as I write this… oh well, tears are just anxiety leaving the body — better out than in!)

As a postscript, I should apologise to my mother if she’s reading this (hey, someone has to be) and feels she’s gone too far in pressurising me to get a job outside London.  I know she hates living in Worthing and wants to get on with her life as well, and that she feels she can’t sell up and move to Surrey until I have some idea where I’m going to work in the long term, so I can live there too and commute.  I would respond that it doesn’t matter where I work, as long as the house is reasonably close to a train line that comes into London — and in any case, one day I’ll learn to drive and thus be able to commute anywhere I damn well please — so I would hope my mother could find somewhere we’d both be happy to live, and I’d find a way to work around it.

Of course, my real dream is that somehow I’ll be able to emigrate to the USA and live out my days there, but it’d require marrying an American woman, and much as I’d love to find such a wife, it’s not altogether likely — perhaps I need to be realistic instead, as I’m not getting any younger.  But isn’t hope, however fanciful, our driving force in life…?

Out the other side

anal_pratdirge

Hey, it was this or the Eminem “Recovery” cover again

Just a quick one tonight: I’ve conquered my anxiety, or at least got it under control for the time being.  Much as the dismal rain cleared up at lunchtime, so my spirits rose; I had a number of issues yesterday, and I managed to resolve them today:

  • I’m finally feeling some confidence in my current job, and while I don’t want to stay in it for longer than a couple of months, I finally think I know what I’m doing, and what transferable skills I can take from it (ever heard of Nagios?  No, nothing to do with pornographic TV!).
  • I couldn’t remember seeing my passport since I took it to work on my first day night last week, and hadn’t remembered finding it when moving my entire room around on Wednesday; I was worried I’d left it in the office, or lost it somewhere between Brondesbury Park and Finchley, but tonight I found it, er, under something on a shelf.  D’oh!
  • Despite failing at personal training last week, today I did magnificently.  It’s almost as though my fear and worry were transformed into energy… and I’m seeing my trainer again next week to do some boxing, which should really help me get some frustration out!
  • After the January 2012-esque nausea I experienced, which meant I couldn’t have a proper breakfast this morning, I managed to have a big, protein- and vegetable-rich dinner (well, Quorn burgers with sliced tomato and a handful of rocket) — and unlike last Friday, I finished both!
  • My mentor at my IT agency says he’ll sort out getting me refunded my travel costs from when I was an intern — and not before time!
  • I’ve got an evening shift next week when British Gas want to come and look at our loft, but they’ll let me rearrange.  (Yes, I actually got a bit worried about that!)
  • “Best mate” had wanted to go to an event, but didn’t mind when I declined, as he wanted to find a TV with Sky Sports so he could watch Ireland play some football match or other.

I’ve actually had a perfectly nice Friday evening, perhaps for no other reason than that it’s felt “normal” — I went from work to see my personal trainer, and then came home to have dinner and watch TV (and a movie).  Perhaps that’s what I want to get back to — and if my attempted IT career fails, I can always fall back on admin, at which I’m a demon.

Now, I’m going to have a jolly good sleep, since one of my housemates (no, not the drummer, he’s on tour — I mean the other guy who cut us off the Internet last year) stopped me nodding off in a timely manner last night.  Sleep well…

No way out?

sisyphusI think my life’s starting to suck again, not unlike late 2011 and early 2012 — though, as per then, I’m sure of the cause, though just as pessimistic about a way out…

It seems I was premature in my triumph concerning my new job: rather than providing tech support for big, important websites like Sky and Nestlé, it seems I’m actually helping perverts speak to topless women on one of those interminable late-night TV channels, or to send messages to girls on webcam (or, slightly more legitimately, to watch football highlights or consult psychics).  I’m getting paid an uninspiring* amount of money to do this in shifts, including night shifts that have really screwed with my sleeping pattern (and naturally I started this job just after this news report), but I feel like I can’t escape, because I need the money, and I also need to be in work if I want any hope of finding something better — and the whole process of getting a new job, from application through interview to starting, takes a month or two!

(* considering how much money pornography brings in — I want a piece of the action!  Ooh, Matron…)

Despite my misgivings, I made the decision to stay in this job for as long as I can after speaking to the guy at my IT agency, who pledged his support, and also after reading my diary from late 2004: in that period I’d just started living with my Astrophysics classmates in the Wood Green area, and was doing a job for a local council’s Occupational Therapy equipment department.  I really, truly grew to loathe this job — arranging deliveries was all right, but being told I had to cancel loads because one of the vans had broken down or a damn meeting had been called wasn’t, and my ultimate boss was a pedantic witch who gave me too much to do, and didn’t like me helping the delivery men on my own initiative.  However, I needed the money — I’d already had to borrow money from “female best friend” just to pay my share of the deposit (though by that time I’d paid it back) — and at least I was working within walking distance; but oh, what a dark, depressing winter that was…

Back then, my only concern was with staying with my friends in London, and not returning to Worthing in defeat; so it goes now, perhaps even more so for my mother’s sake as her working life has gone to hell, and she wants me to have a happy time here, not to be suffering as much as she is.  “Best mate” is also suffering, hating the place in Manor House where he lives, and wanting to find somewhere to live with me — so for his benefit I have to stay in London as well, otherwise he’ll have to go back to Ireland.  And, although I haven’t dated in ages (perhaps a good thing, considering the parlous state of my finances — and to think, I spent £2,000 on a holiday last year!), I’m more likely to find someone here than in Worthing, since I’m not interested in (ahem) grandmothers or chavettes.

However, what’s the use of being in London if I can’t enjoy it?  Fatigue resulting from sleeping poorly after my first ever night shift meant I didn’t perform as well with my personal trainer last week as I could have done (though doubtless I’ll do better tomorrow), and although I don’t have any more night shifts scheduled until December, the pattern I have now mean that I no longer have any such thing as a “weekend”, just days off which might happen to coincide with Saturday and Sunday.  Worse, my shifts aren’t set in stone at the moment because a member of staff is going on paternity leave just as soon as his wife gives birth (she’s already overdue), and this means everything’s subject to change at short notice.

Even when I have a free evening, it seems I’m very, very prone to anxiety: witness Tuesday this week, when I made the mistake of trying to go climbing somewhere I rarely go.  I should have gone to the Castle, or gone to yoga, or gone to a Japanese meetup event, or even just stayed at home — but no, I went out on the Circle Line, a disaster area at the time, and was so late to the Westway that (a) I had to queue for ages, and (b) there were no lockers free.  I wasn’t prepared to leave my stuff out (if I got robbed, I really would be in trouble!), and I got so worked up that I just had to leave and return home.

Worst of all, though, since I travel via bus and a short London Overground journey, I can’t read (I get travelsick on bumpy transport if I don’t look out the window) and have to listen to music — and I think I’m getting a bit sick of Gwar!  Now you know there must be something wrong, but having it stuck in my head doesn’t help my situation (does your brain springing a leak ever improve things?) — it’s like a drug, with me listening not to feel happy, but to try and stave off misery.

It might just be the aforementioned sleep deprivation (which still hit me today, during my day shift, making it hard to take stuff in), but I may be getting depression/anxiety again, just like in late 2011 to early 2012 — it doesn’t help that other things have hit me today, such as London Overground rejecting my appeal against my £40 fine (they didn’t even seem to consider that it was an honest mistake), and an offer of an interview in Stanmore for a job that would pay less than my current one, and not even guarentee I’d be free of shift work.

I hate the idea, but I might just have to go see my doctor next week (on a day when I have an evening shift), and see about anxiety medication… I really hope it won’t come to that, though — instead, I’m going to do what my female friend advised me to do last month, and say what I want:

I WANT A BETTER JOB IN I.T.

I want a job with civilised hours, working on an IT helpdesk for a big company, helping workers there with their computer problems, in a relatively central London location (so I can sit on the Tube and read during the journey — did you ever think I’d say that?), for a monthly salary high enough that I can afford to continue living here, paying my personal trainer and doing the things I enjoy.  If I have any luck left over, I also wish for a woman to come into my life (I’ve seen someone today who’s making me an “honorary” non-paying member at an expensive matching agency).

Of course, having only day and evening shifts for the rest of November (barring any further changes) means I can at least get some proper sleep, and continue applying for jobs — I’m in a stronger position to do so now than I was when unemployed.  Although most of my current job is very specific, I’m at least getting experience of maintaining a server room and doing SQL queries, both invaluable for future roles, and the boss is very understanding and is trying not to overwhelm me.

Also, I’ll look to the positive in my job: evening shifts will at least mean I can get up at a civilised time and go to bed on the same day, and after my day shift tomorrow, I’ve got plenty of those coming up — and, just possibly (depending on cover), a free weekend I can use to visit my folks and go climbing with my mother, for the first time since July!  Plus, even night shifts won’t be without advantages: although I had to concentrate while learning the role, in future I can just sit and read, while waiting for bits of work to come in.

(I’ll also try listening to classical music again, and give Gwar a break — don’t want to feel like I’ve outgrown them, after all!)

I have this vague notion that if I can get through the rest of 2014, things will be better in 2015, and I’ll be stronger as well (much as I was after my lowest ebb in 2011-2012).  I just need to keep trying at my current job, get through the training so I can work on my own initiative, earn enough overall to pay my rent and food bills, and apply for better jobs like crazy — but for now, I need to get some sleep so I can be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for my day shift tomorrow…

My own computer really grinds my gears

beavbuttpc

I was feeling like this today… just work, bunghole!

As I may have intimated before, when I’m with my folks in Worthing I use a cobbled-together PC that I call “the Frankencomputer” (and please don’t point out that Frankenstein was the creator, I’m well aware of this).  Throughout its history it’s been troublesome for me, and this weekend and Monday have been the worst…

(I call my PC in London “the übercontraption”, if you must know!)

Until late 2011 I was using my mother’s old prebuilt eMachines PC as my Worthing computer, but it was so slow that I couldn’t even listen to Tony Blackburn via iPlayer without stuttering, unless I turned off the antivirus!  Thus, using spare parts (such as a casing I’d bought for my mother’s previous PC, the motherboard I’d upgraded from when my hard drive died in May, and an old copy of Windows XP), I began assembling the Frankencomputer in November.  The casing wasn’t exactly soundproof, however, and I had a good casing in London… and so I carried it home one arm-aching weekend (naturally the nearest Tube station was closed at that exact time).

To make matters worse, the PSU (one of several I had going spare, and one which had needed an extension for the 12V cable) wasn’t able to handle the increased number of cooling fans, and so the hard drive was damaged by power fluctuations.  All I’d wanted to do was play the original F.E.A.R. and its expansions over Christmas, but multiple attempts to download and validate the files through Steam took ages as the drive slowed everything to glacial speeds… and even when I’d finally finished, the ancient 7900GS graphics card turned out to be on the way out.  Gah!

Thus it was that the Frankencomputer was used for only simple tasks for about a year; I tried replacing the hard drive, but only succeeded on the second attempt (the first time I mistakenly bought an old IDE drive, the sort that takes a ribbon cable, and almost killed that one too).  I got a better PSU eventually, and when I bought my mother a compact all-in-one PC for Christmas in 2012, I took the decent graphics card (and memory) from her old PC and stuck it where it might be of some use at last (ooh, Matron!).  It was Easter 2013 (about the time I wrote this entry) when I finally reinstalled Steam, admittedly in the vain hope of being able to play Mumsy’s copy of Total War: Shogun 2 (a difficult prospect even on a decent PC).

However, broadly speaking, the Frankencomputer was finally working more or less fine — and received a boost when I got a DVI-to-HDMI cable so I could plug it into the big TV in my Worthing room, and not need my mother’s old VGA monitor (which joined many other devices and components in the electronics section at Worthing dump), though this of course meant I couldn’t watch TV at the same time.  During my self-imposed exile in September 2013 I was able to study, play games and surf the Interthingy to my heart’s content (but not write in this blog very much, I note), and similarly while keeping my grandmother company recently.

However, since Windows XP officially became obsolete this year, and no longer receives significant updates, it was high time I upgraded it to Windows 7.  I put a slightly better processor in it (more a way of refreshing my thermal paste-scraping skills before I did the same with my own PC in London), and brought home a slightly larger hard drive I had going spare; my intention was to get a copy of Windows 7 and set up an installation on a USB thumb drive including an Autounattend file, just to prove my superior PC skills.

It took me a while to get a copy of Windows 7 (since Computer Exchange’s stock of things I want to buy can go down as well as up, and I needed to sell some stuff to get the necessary credit), but this weekend I created an Autounattend file on my London PC, partly thanks to experimentation with installing it in a virtual machine (just let me big up VirtualBox here… okay, that’s big enough).  I had to use my mother’s PC to set up the USB thumb drive (which I’d foolishly left in Worthing) as a bootable object, and copy the installation files across from the Windows 7 DVD; then I had to use my mother’s PC again in order to recreate the Autounattend file from scratch, because the one I’d brought with me had somehow been corrupted!

I had many, many other issues with this installation, and here’s a litany (apologies for the techie language, but perhaps someone else out there will benefit from my comedy of errors):

  • You need to use both CreatePartition and ManagePartition — don’t just create a partition and not then set it to NTFS (or whatever) format, or you’ll get an error: “Windows could not prepare the partition selected for installation.”
  • Windows 7 needs a 100MB “System” partition, and the rest can be for Windows itself — but both need to be “Primary”, not “MSR” or “EFI” or anything!
  • If you set the main partition to “Extend” (i.e. fill up all remaining space on the hard drive) in CreatePartition, DON’T set it to “Extend” in ManagePartition as well, or the whole installation process will stop with a weird error (0x80300024, fact fans).

And then there’s more to get right in the PC’s BIOS:

  • If you’re using a SATA drive (and you should be, it’s not 1997 any more), for $DEITY’s sake, set it to AHCI mode before you start installing Windows 7, otherwise you’ll have a choice between reinstalling, doing some scary registry hacking via a bootable DVD (to ensure the right drivers get loaded), or living with a slower hard drive!
  • Make sure you’ve set the right boot device order — don’t keep selecting USB-FDD like I did, and then think the thumb drive had been set to no longer be a bootable object, possibly because you edited the Autounattend file under Windows XP… your PC might just ignore everything and go for the first hard drive it finds, ignoring your USB thumb drive entirely!
  • Just because your USB keyboard & mouse work in the BIOS screens and in Windows, there’s no guarantee they’ll work in the Windows boot screen (e.g. to select “Start in Safe Mode”) as well — make sure the BIOS is set to accept input from USB devices!

(Those last two might be quirks of this motherboard’s weird BIOS — the same BIOS that convinced me I’d lost my documents drive in May 2011 as well as my Windows drive, when in fact only the Windows drive had conked out!)

And even once installation is over, there’s still more problems to face:

  • By default, the Administrator account is unavailable to log into — indeed, you won’t even be able to type in the Administrator password when UAC deploys (it’ll tell you to do so, but won’t give you a box to type it into!); to unlock it, you need to restart in Safe Mode, log in as Administrator and run a command before it’ll be available in “normal” mode.  (Oh, all right: net user administrator /active:yes).
  • If you’ve got an older Wi-Fi network card, Windows Updates might misidentify it and install “updated” drivers that actually stop it from detecting any Wi-Fi networks — so make sure you’ve got the right drivers available!
  • Microsoft are paying attention now, so don’t try to install Office 2010 (or similar) on more than one desktop PC, though you might be allowed to install it on a laptop as well.

Honestly, the number of times I’ve had to watch the Windows 7 installation process today alone!  But it’s all finally done, and I’ve saved some useful files (such as nVidia drivers and Firefox) onto the USB thumb drive, in case I ever have to do it all again.  I know, if I’d been better prepared I could have set up a customised WIM image including all the software and drivers I wanted, or even made a fully-updated virtual machine and created an image from that, but I didn’t have time.

Anyway, the Frankencomputer works fine now — but alas, it’s late at night and I need to go back to London tomorrow, to psyche myself up for my first night shift on Thursday, so I have no chance to enjoy it…

I got the jerrrb

Spock: I believe we have about a week before McCoy arrives, but we can’t be certain.
Kirk: Arrives where?  Honolulu?  Boise?  San Diego?  Why not Outer Mongolia, for that matter?
S: There is a theory… there could be some logic to the belief that time is fluid, like a river, with currents, eddies, backwash.
K: And the same currents that swept McCoy to a certain time and place might sweep us there, too.
Star Trek (S1E28, “The City on the Edge of Forever”)
(and yes, I know I quoted from it in a previous blog post, so please don’t complain)

ss_ff

I might need that clock to remind me when it’s time to get up for a night shift…

First of all, I’ve been successful in landing myself a new job in IT — just let that sink in for a moment.  Yes, I’m going to be doing tech support over the phone for real people (users of big companies’ hosted websites), not just chavvy students who can’t be bothered to remember their passwords.

(One of the questions in the interview was whether I’d be troubled by porn sites, to which I responded: not unless they want me to pose for them!)

The funny thing is, though, it’s in the same part of London where I had my last interview (the one at a school I nearly missed), and near where I more recently went to an ex-potential girlfriend’s birthday party, not to mention where “best mate” used to live before he found somewhere near the Castle.  I even had a singles event to go to there back in February (on the day that Korean girl effectively dumped me, claiming she’d cut her finger at work), which I didn’t enjoy because it was crowded.

Yes, it’s the Willesden / Kilburn / Queen’s Park / Brondesbury / Kensall bit of north-west London, which I’d barely been to before, and yet the winds of fate seem to keep blowing me that way in 2014… is $DEITY trying to convince me to move there?  I’m content to stay in Finchley for now, since this is the place where I, shall we say, came back to life in 2012 and 2013, but if I do move to the area, I would certainly hope “best mate” would be a housemate.

I’m thinking of getting a bike so I can circumvent London’s unreliable public transport system, and thus be able to get to work even on those terrible winter days when someone has said the word “snow” and the entire system is suspended.  Plus, it’d mean I could avoid getting fined a second time for not having swiped my Oyster card when I got on the Overground (I actually had swiped it, only to be told to put more money on, and then forgot to re-swipe it!).

A bike is also worth considering because my job will be based around three different shifts (day, evening and night), and although the buses and Overground should be running at all three of my clocking on/off times, it’s as well not to risk being marooned, especially if I end up having to stay late to help with a desperate situation.  I certainly don’t want to have to get a taxi home — or three night buses that take so long, I have to go back to work almost immediately I get home!

(I look forward to the day that I’m so indispensible that my boss offers to ply me with Domino’s pizza, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and plenty of Pepsi/Coke if I agree to work through the night fixing something that no-one else can fix!)

On the advice of my job-searching coach at my IT agency (who joins my other three mentors in London), I’m going to suspend my Server 2008 studies — partly so I can focus on learning the job at hand, and partly so I’m not… overqualified.  He reckons I’m in a good situation now, so no sense rocking the boat.  But don’t worry, I’m still doing clever computer-type stuff: I’ve bought (with store credit) a new copy of Windows 7, and have cleverly contrived an unattended answer file so I can install it on the “Frankencomputer” in Worthing without having to watch or type anything in!  I might even work out how to put it all on a USB stick, and thus not even need the DVD…

Anyway, the most important aspect of my new job is this: never mind the money or the experience, I don’t have to call up recruiters or use jobsearch websites any more — and that’s worth its weight in gold!