Sydney Smiles

Sydney Smiles: August 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dear World, We don't all carry loaded guns...

It has been a very boring last day of freedom for me. I start work on Monday. Most of the day has been spent browsing the internet - with that nagging feeling that "gosh darn it, I should go do something."

I decided to browse Time Out Sydney in hopes of finding something entertaining to do tonight. I clicked on a link to blurb about The Flinders Hotel. I chose the link because it said it was modeled after a classic American dive bar. It peeked my interest so I clicked away to read about this Sydney bar.

It wouldn't be long before I read enough to be offended. The following is a clip from the article.

"The Flinders was recently bought and renovated by restaurateur/club owner Nick Mathers, Ksubi's Paul Wilson, and Bang Gang DJs Gus Da Hoodrat and Jaime Doom. It's modelled on a classic American dive bar. In the US, you can go to almost any bar and get a decent Manhattan or Daiquiri, natural as carrying a loaded weapon in your glovebox, and that's how it is at the Flinders. There are no fancy cocktail glasses, the service is casual as they come (but still professional and personable) and they serve straight-up great cocktails."

I have highlighted the part I find offensive in red. It's comments like this that just drain me of my energy - and I wonder if it is worth it at all bothering to explain the inaccuracy of statements like that. Alas, one last time, I will try to explain...

Dear World,

Honestly, carrying around loaded weapons in gloveboxes does not come as "natural" to Americans and would not be considered to be a normal activity to the majority of Americans. Yes, America has a gun violence problem! American inner cities are plagued with a culture of violence and poverty. Tragically this cycle of violence and poverty seems to renew itself from one generation to the next. Yes, this problem is begging for a solution!

Do I think banning guns with fix the problem? No, I do not think that would fix the problem. We are talking about a culture of violence here. If you want to fix the violence problem you need to fix the heart of the problem. Why are people so angry? Why is there such a disregard for human life? You can take away the guns - but what stops the violent individual from stabbing someone? Or bashing someone with a baseball bat? The violence of the inner city is not strictly a gun issue! It is a violence issue!

In America, we do have laws and regulations regarding firearms. Unfortunately, there is also an underground market for illegal guns. It may surprise some (apparently from all the comments I hear) but most of the guns used in gun violence are illegally obtained. In fact, surprise surprise, the majority of Americans who own legal guns do not use them to shoot people. I know, I know - it's not what you've heard - but it's true, I promise.

Heck, I even grew up in a household that had guns. I did not find this fact scary at all. We did not keep them loaded (this is not safe.) They were kept out of reach of children (my brother and I) and of course the children were not permitted to touch the guns. Why did we have these guns? Well, because, I am from the country. We hunt in the country. We shoot animals - and then eat them.

I get very tired of the assumption that guns cause the violence and if America would simply get rid of guns we would get rid of our violence problem. People can get pissed off as much as they want about how 'stupid' the saying "Guns don't kill people. People kill people" is but it is true. Place a gun in my hands - and I will not shoot you. Place a knife in my hands - and I will not stab you. Place a baseball bat in my hands - and I will not bash you. It is not the object itself that motivates the violence - but a much deeper problem.

I may well never convince a single person that although gun violence is a problem in America it does not run rampant through every corner of America. I am not interested in hearing your overly simple solution to alleviating American gun violence. It is not a simple problem that can be easily fixed by banning guns - and I no longer have the energy to discuss this complex issue with simple people - who just don't get it.

Lot's of Love,
A disgruntled American

P.S. If the letter seems slightly off topic - that would be because I was sidetracked into writing about previous gun issue debates with non-Americans that offered inadequate simple solutions to a very complex problem.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vloggity Vlog Vlog: Goodbye, Michigan. Hello, Australia.

It's a bit long, but here is my very first travel vlog, from Michigan to Australia. Join me on my journey to Sydney.

Reed City, MI --> Grand Rapids, MI --> Los Angelos, CA --> Auckland, New Zealand --> Sydney, Australia

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

And then the jobs were just coming out of my ears...

*For the purposes of this story I will name each potential job by order of interview; Job A, Job B, Job C, and Job D*

I know I've been complaining a lot about the job search lately - but recently everything has fallen into place. In fact, now the jobs are just coming out of my ears!

Last Thursday, I had an interview at Job C. I thought it went quite well.

Friday, Job C called me to tell me that it did indeed go well and that they were moving on to the next step of checking my references. I had also arranged for an interview on Monday morning with Job D via email.

An hour after the call with Job C I received another call from Job B (which I had interviewed with the week before) calling to offer me a position that started on Monday the 16th. I accepted.

I canceled the interview with Job D in order to start training at Job B.

Monday, on my first day of work at Job B, I received a message from Job C offering me a full time contract for 6 months (the maximum time I am allowed to work for one single employer) with a generous pay rate.

Job C's job offer was better than Job B's offer. Even though it pained me to have to turn down Job B after I had already accepted the position and attended my first day of training - a girl has to act in her own best interest and as Dwight Schrute would say, "Would I ever leave this company? Look, I'm all about loyalty. In fact, I feel like part of what I'm being paid for here is my loyalty. But if there were somewhere else that valued loyalty more highly, I'm going wherever they value loyalty the most." ;-)

Meanwhile, the same day I started my position Job B - and accepted the better position at Job C, I received another call from Job A. Job A is a recruitment agency I interviewed with ages ago. They left me a voicemail about a position they have open. A little late, Job A, a little late.

Moral of the story: Keep you head up! As anyone could clearly see, I was beginning to get frustrated with my job search - but I kept pressing on. Then all of the sudden, all the job offers started coming in at the same time. Ladies and gentlemen - when it rains it pours.

Job search over! Yah!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Is there a job or not?

I had an interview yesterday. I think it went well. I am trying to think positive thoughts and hope it results in employment. Of course, until there is an official job offer on the table the search continues...

This morning I received an email from a job I had applied for saying they were interested in speaking with me about the position - that they had tried to call but were unsuccessful at getting a hold of me. They suggested I call or respond by email ASAP as they wanted to fill the position immediately. I emailed back 14 minutes later - explaining I could not call (because I was temporarily out of minutes on my cellphone) I said I was still interested in the position and they could either call me (it is free to accept calls in Australia) or respond by email whichever was more convenient.

An hour passed with no email response and no call - so I went to purchase minutes for my phone. I called the job, but there was no answer. I called back an hour and half later - and was finally able to speak with the agent. She told me the position had already been filled a few hours ago. Awesome. I thought I would at least get an interview out of this one.

Did I mention I don't think they really even tried to call in the first place? I had no missed calls. No voicemails. What the heck? I kind of feel like they were just messing with me. Oh well, on to the next...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Experience required?

The job hunt continues today. It is almost noon and I have already received phone calls from two potential employers this morning. One call was definitely more promising than the other and resulted in the scheduling of an interview for tomorrow. This will be my 3rd interview so far and I can't help but think the 3rd time is the charm.

The second phone call of the day ended in a the far less promising "we'll forward your resume on to another department." The job was for a customer service representative in a call centre. The woman was of course asking me about my previous customer service experience. She specifically wanted to know how many calls I handled a day in the previous call centres that I have worked in. I told her on an average day it was probably only around 30. However, there were a few days when the call volume was quite high. She wanted me to put a number on it. This may come to a surprise to some people - but I have not actually kept track of how many phone calls I answered on a busy day committing said fact to memory forever and ever so I can continue to pat myself on the back on my superior ability to answer a phone.

Here is the rub. Call me full of myself - but I think I could be a good worker in a high volume call centre without previous experience of handling 80+ calls a day. So many jobs, list in their requirements must have at least 2 - 5 years experience in blah blah blah. Honestly, from the description of these jobs it doesn't seem like someone really needs a full 2 years of experience doing that exact job to be successful! Look, I am an intelligent woman. I am capable of learning quickly and I am quite confident I would be successful in the jobs I am applying for. Let's face it - it's not rocket science.

To continue the story of the second phone interview. The woman then goes on to ask, "are you a permanent resident or Australian citizen?" Ummm.... did you happen to read my resume (CV)? If you had you would probably have noticed right under my name and before my address the line, "American citizen on working visa (subclass 462) permitted to work for 1 year." So I tell her "no I am not a permanent resident or citizen I am on a work and holiday visa." To which she says, "Oh, because this role is a permanent role... we really need a permanent resident or citizen" This is about the time she said she would forward my information on to another department. I thanked her and we said out goodbyes.

Did she really not read my resume before calling? Or was she just looking for an easy way out when I "proved" to her what would be "my inevitable failure" due to my lack of experience in a high volume call centre? Oh, the joys of looking for work...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Job Hunt Continues

I currently have 91 jobs in "my saved job & application summary" on SEEK. Which means I have applied for for 91 jobs on SEEK alone recently. For those of you that don't know SEEK is "Australia's #1 job site." Typically, I only apply for jobs on SEEK so the total number of jobs applied for isn't too much higher than 91.

Wow. 91. For now my number one goal on the job hunt, besides actually getting a job, is to try not get downtrodden about the number of job applications sent out and the current lack of an actual job offers.

Something has got to turn up soon, right? Yes, soon...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Get a Movie from Oovie!

Move over Redbox there is a new big green box in town called Oovie. Okay, technically Redbox doesn't really need to move over because Redbox and Oovie do business on seperate continents, in seperate countries, on opposite sides of the world - but it just sounded so darn catchy to tell Redbox to move over.

For those of you that don't know Redbox is a big red box one can rent movies from for only $1 for a one night rental! As you can imagine I fell in love with Redbox the moment I found out about it. However, I did stop going to Redbox while I lived in Chicago when a girl got mugged by gunpoint at 1:00pm in the afternoon on the street I needed to walk down to get to Redbox. In fact, I did a whole lot less walking around my neighborhood after that - well as lovely as that stroll down memory lane as that was - I will now get back to my point.

You can imagine my excitement when I discovered that Australia had their very own version of Redbox call Oovie, with the catchiest slogan around, "get a movie from oovie." Oovie is a bit more expensive than Redbox at $2.99 per night rental but it is still quite reasonable.

I went to the Oovie's website to find if there was a Oovie near me and much to my delight there certainly was! I decided last night would be a perfect night to try out Oovie. Conveniently located outside my neighborhood mall's Coles it was no trouble finding the big green box. I decided for my first Australian movie rental I was going to rent an Australian movie (easier said than done folks!) As I have mentioned before American culture reigns high - and most movies in the big green box are Hollywood blockbusters.

This doesn't mean you won't find Australian movies in the big green box as well. While scouring the comedy section I found just the movie for me. This movie has Australia written all over it spelled as follows, Paul Hogan, yes that is right Mr. Crocodile Dundee Himself! In the stereotypical American view of Australia formed by movies from the 1980s of my childhood it is just not possible to be more Australian than the legendary Crocodile Dundee played by Paul Hogan. There was no option, I had to rent Charlie & Boots simply because Paul Hogan was in it.

I am glad I did rent it. It was a lovely movie about a father and son reconnecting and learning to adapt to loss on a drive across Australia to fulfill a childhood dream of fishing on the northern most point of Australia. In my opinion it is definitely worthy of two thumbs up.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Failure As a Woman

I'll admit it. I'm a failure as a woman. I've heard for ages that is it possible to make your hair curly using a flat iron. Inspired by the recent death of my curling iron I have become determined to prove that I too could be awesome enough to curl my hair with a flat iron. I did my research scouring the internet as to how I could make my modest dream come true. Okay, to be honest, I did a quick YouTube search. I am not sure if you are aware but there are many beauty vloggers that share hair and makeup tips online at YouTube. Within seconds I had found to lovely videos explaining how to curl your hair with a flatiron. I watched. I learned. I tried. I failed. I became discouraged. I don't want to give up just yet. I feel like maybe, just maybe, I still have a chance of getting this right. It's back to YouTube with nothing but pure determination to have bouncy beautiful curly hair.

Drunk Driving: Okay if you don't live near public transport?

Recently, headlines have been made by a Sydney woman who was caught drunk driving (referred to as drink driving here is Oz) and yet had her charges dismissed because she does not live near public transportation. What an interesting precedent to set. As someone who grew up in a small country town I cannot possibly imagine this excuse working where I am from. "Oh, yes officer I have been drinking and driving - but it's not like you can hold me accountable or anything - it's not my fault there is no available public transport for me to take home." Guess what? If that were the law where I am from the roads would be a lot less safe! I'd like to think the laws deter a lot of the drunk driving that would occur otherwise. If you are going to drink - you need to have a plan on how you are getting home before you start drinking. If your only option is to drive home, perhaps it is not your night to be drinking.

However, I would like to point out if this young woman had been driving in Michigan with a blood alcohol level 0.067 she would not have been considered to be drunk driving at all because she was under the legal limit of 0.08. Just to make things clear I am not condemning this young woman for "drunk driving" - I am attempting to condemn the court that set this precedent. Honestly, I feel like this young woman was probably fine to drive - as I said she was below the legal limit for Michigan. However, I do not believe this is the message that should be sent to people. It is okay to break drunk driving laws if you live outside of public transport?

Just for fun estimate your blood alcohol level here.

Be safe.