Wednesday, February 28, 2007

0702282040 Redundancy

Progress towards the move today:

  1. Repair a computer so that it can be sold.
  2. Ask for a redundancy at work.

The local computer shop has a website - would you use a computer shop that does not have a website? If they can't get online then they can't be too interested in computers. I could have ordered a new drive online and had it delivered in a few days, but seeing as the shop is on my way to work, I stopped in to buy it the old fashioned way. The shop is set up like an internet cafe' and all the ordering is done online! Customers go to a computer in the shop to order online via their webpage and then pickup from the counter. This makes sense to me - when I buy a hard drive, I already know what it looks like, I only want to know the specifications. The 250GB hard drive that I bought today looks exactly the same as a 4MB hard drive I bought in 1980. This shop has a good idea. There is very little to see on the showroom floor, just advertising. On impulse I bought a PCMCIA CDRW for my laptop because it was too good a bargain to leave behind. I know that later in life I would think back on that moment and wish I had that little CD writer to go with my 10 year old PIII laptop. I can back up my mail from my work laptop now.

Redundancy at work.

I work for a telecommunications company that made over 8 billion dollars profit this year - but there is no money in the budget to lease a laptop computer for $22 a month. I approve payments to our competitors in the millions per year, but my computer is a second hand 10 year old PIII that cannot process signals from a GPS and a CDMA phone at the same time.

So today I took advantage of an opportunity to point out to my employer that I could be made redundant. I would like to leave the company with no more than what is rightly owing to me and I put myself in a moral vs legal dilemma. Although my wife has a contract of employment at a school in Hong Kong, I am under no legal obligation to leave my current employment. There is no legal reason that I have to leave my job. My spouse and I are, according to the law, two separate entities working for different companies. If my employer decides to make my position redundant, then it would be to my advantage.

The moral side - if I know that I am leaving the company, then is it right to ask that I be made redundant and expect a lump sum for leaving? If I were to be open and honest and declare my intentions that I am leaving in 5 months then I beleive that I would have no chance of a redundancy payout. It would also force my manager to act in a certain manner with this knowledge. If he does not know, then he can make an unbiased decision.

My role and responsibilities can be carried out by trained monkeys. What I bring to the department is the responsibility to carry out those duties. I don't have to be there. A scout is honest - he believes in doing his best to do his duty, to help other people and to obey the scout law.

That boy scout promise I made when I was 12 is going to cost me 80 weeks pay.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

0702272200 Cantonese lesson zero

How to speak Cantonese -
  1. Say really short syllables
  2. Don't finish any consonants
  3. Speak fast with tiny pauses in between words

I have to understand that Cantonese and Mandarin are different languages and not variations on "Chinese". They use the same symbols but they have different sounds.

The decision to go to Hong Kong was easy, what language to learn took some thought and planning. I found myself in that conundrem when there is a choice between two things. The two things might be, for example - a piece of cake verses an ice-cream, or "Do I get the blue one or the red one". Eventually I give up deciding on which one and settle on having both. I decide to have cake and ice-cream. The problem of "which one" then becomes the same problem, but now it is "which one first".

I joined an ex-pat forum found that the question of what language to speak was common among the new members. The answers varied 50-50 for Mandarin and Cantonese. They had strong opinions about which language to learn and in true internet style it only took four posts before the informative question and answer session was reduced to three people swapping insults.


It is the official language of the Peoples Republic of China

It is taught in the schools

It is needed to get a job in China



It is spoken by the merchants, the shop keepers, the taxi drivers and by the people

The people of Hong Kong will laugh at you if you speak Mandarin

It is needed to get a job in Hong Kong


I have enrolled to learn Cantonese at the Institute of Modern Languages at the University of Queensland - I start in two weeks so I will get the text books this week.

Monday, February 26, 2007

0702262000 Less than five months.

We had a family home evening about the kids grand parents on their mum's side. The man is a legend. He was knighted, he was in charge of the Queensland butter marketing board and he loved his homeland.

Preparations for Hong Kong. I had to make two copies of my birth certificate for the visa application. Sounds easy enough but I was not in the office today, the usual source of free photocopying, so I went to a newsagent. Mistakes at the newsagent copier can be costly.

Another part of the preparation for the move to Hong Kong is to sell everything in the house. I cleaned up the kitchen and found a few things that can go now. Excess crockery. It would not be practical to advertise every plate on eBay so I thought a dinner set might sell easier. So with some odd plates and cutlery I made up an "eclectic" dinnerware set comprising of six places with cutlery featuring a unique theme for each person.

  • 1920

  • France

  • Minimal

  • Fine lines

  • Blue curves

  • The Junior Space Ranger

I will put an add on eBay for the lot with photos.

Learning Cantonese has been a challenge so far - the few words I learned on Friday have finally sunk in and I can remember them - I can't spell them because it will take away their true meaning if I see them in English or "Lin Mun" - we just dont have the letters. A lot of the sounds end abruptly, for example, the sound of a "k" is made but not fininshed - there is no "aaay" at the end. Apparently the tone is very important - the same sounds are made to say "I don't understand" and "I don't eat". Same words, different tone.

The pirated language course from eBay - The seller has been asking for it back so he can give me a refund. I don't have the time or energy to return it. He left me negative feedback so now my eBay rating is -1. I may be cast out of the eBay community! Oh the shame. :-)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

0702251700 - Five Months to go!

Sunday - the day of rest.
I woke up and tried to get that last few minutes of REM sleep that always eludes me. My alarm went off and said that the home teachers were due in 15 minutes. Things to do today - go to church and make a copy of a training session for a kind hearted man that I simply can not refuse. I went to the stake centre to record it from the church satellite system and then copy it to a DVD and insert chapters at the right places. I find this interesting.

We go to Hong Kong in five months. A few times today I have said to the family "...this time in five months we will be on the aeroplane to Hong Kong". The flight takes eight hours so I was saying this all day. In the morning I will bug them with "this time in five months we will have our first day in Hong Kong". For some reason I will find this interesting.

The Cantonese words that I learned on Friday have not sunk in - I can't remember the sounds that I have to make to say "I can't understand" in cantonese. I have nearly learned three sylables and I have 5 months to learn enough Cantonese to run a life, navigate around the city and get a job in the telecommunications industry. At this rate, that is, not quite learning three sylables a day, in five months I may, but not quite, know about 450 sounds that I can use to string a sentence together.
Learning a language is so much more than learning what sounds to make and in what order - the language reveals how the people think. When I was learning Russian I found it interesting that the Russians don't ask "What is your name?", they ask, "How are you called?".

I am tempted to use the language course that I bought off eBay but it is a pirated copy. I feel that I would be dishonest to use it because legally the CD-R of ripped mp3 files is stolen.

I could rationalise and think this way:
  • I have paid for a second hand course now and the eBay seller no longer has the licence therefore I can use it.
  • I didn't copy it so it is not my fault so therefore I can use it.
The plain legal side of the situation is this:
  • I have recieved stolen goods when I thought I was buying used goods.
  • It would be wrong to use the stolen copy as I have not paid the artist royalties and commisions.
  • I have not entered into a licence agreement with the author.
  • The eBay seller does not have the right to distrubution.
  • I am entitled to a refund, however the seller is not entitled to the return of stolen property. As a model citizen, I should send the illegal copy to the police as evidence.

I have reported the eBay seller to the company that makes the course and to the managers of eBay. I have my $17.oo of amusement and will not waste any time over it because I also believe that we should not condem too harshly those that sin differently.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

0702232210 Other Skills

I have to learn a few new skills.
A week before Christmas one of my bosses three levels up was promoted and as a result I was transfered to a different department. Suddenly I was a 42 year old 'new guy'. Although I have over 15 years experience in this company as a radio design technician, I was treated as a new apprentice. They even showed me where the fire exits are located. The guy that was to become my 'supervisor' was introduced as a "father figure" and everyone in his little section hate him. I have seen the look on their faces when we have meetings - nobody speaks- they have the expressions of beaten dogs. For 5 weeks they all waited for an instruction book on what to do with me. I initiated meetings with my new managers to discuss my role but the meetings were cancelled by them. I asked to be made redundant but they said I was too valuable. We shall see. Suddenly I have to learn a whole new job and frankly, I don't want to. I used to enjoy doing well in my previous job well. "Take it as a new challenge" says the good voice in my head - "show 'em what you can do" it says. I would like that, but I can't find the energy to get inthusiactic about it. Maybe if I didn't also have to do my previous job until they find a replacement.
So as I was saying - I have to take a few vital skills:
  • Learn a new career as a telecommunications strategic planner
  • Learn a new language in preparation for living in Hong Kong
  • Learn how to operate a blog.
  • Learn how to remain calm for my family as they undergo this exciting and stressful time

Monday's goal for work - take a long drive and visit my northern sites - drive until lunch time, have lunch, then drive back. Claim a 15 hour day.


We will pick this up as we go...

070224 - Saturday.
I signed out a car from work and finally cleaned up that mess under the back verandah. Not very exciting so far.
Last night I applied for a job a Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong as a flight simulator technician - what was thinking?! As long as the thing is still under warranty and all I have to do is call Boeing then I should get away with it.
The move to Hong Kong now has a departure date of 25th July 2007. Every other action depends of this date - leaving my job, finding a home for the cat, painting the house, selling the house, selling my motorbike, selling one car, selling everything that does not fit in one suitcase.
It sounds like a relief to be free of all my worldly goods if only for a few days.