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Last week I handed in my resignation to NDY. If you've read some of my previous posts you'll know that earlier this year I wasn't the happiest camper at work, and during that time I sent out a lot of applications for other companies. However, before I left for America things were shaping up. I was going to a new awesome project, and the company was beginning to improve the HR systems and develop more of a focus on looking after the employees. However, I got this offer after getting back from my trip, and weighing it up I think it's a good idea. It's with Aurecon and I'll be working in their resources and manufacturing division (basically mining and other things that involve very large, powerful and complex machines). They pay is rather good, but more importantly it'll give me a chance to try out all the control and instrumentation stuff I did back at uni (my thesis title was "Frequency Weighed Model Reduction in Closed Loop Controller-Plant Systems") and see what the resources gig is like. I spent most of my vacation work at NDY before I joined them as a grad, so I've never really experienced anything else but building services. I figure I should give this a shot while it's still easy for me to move between industries, and Aurecon does some pretty awesome things like volunteer work overseas, support in accreditation with Eng Australia. I'm going to stick around here until the end of the year then start with them at the beginning of next year.

I've got about six week left with NDY, and most of it will just be closing out projects and helping other engineers. We don't really get new projects this late in the year, and even if we did I wouldn't be around long enough to make a substantial dent in them. There are also a lot of social events to look forward to. There's our Christmas lunch, our end of year dinner (this year it's at the WA State Theatre), our electrical section lunch (I'm trying to talk our team assistant to doing high tea instead of lunch, it'll be swankier and last a lot longer), plus a few other different things. All in all it'll be a good end to the year and a relaxing depart from NDY. I'm very much going to miss my awesome coworkers but I'm sure I'll be able to stay in touch with them and seem them often enough.

Since I end on Dec 21st and start my new job on Jan 16th, it does afford me about three and a half weeks off. I'm thinking about what to do in that time. I can't really do anything too expensive since I've blown a lot of cash on the America trip. I'd probably do something in the second week of Jan and was thinking:
a) Going to Melbourne and crashing with friends.
b) Going down south for a few days (anyone interested in coming along?)
c) Getting a cheap package holiday to Bali (again, anyone want to join me?)
Meh, I'll think about it over the next few weeks.

Ooh, I bought myself a Galaxy S2. I've never owned a smartphone and it's terribly useful/addictive. Having maps and my calendar on hand makes things easier. The game apps are pretty distracting (I can now see why Angry Birds is so popular). Anyone have recommendations of apps I should get?
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So the flight to America was without incident. I took the Perth-Sydney-Dallas-Houston route, which had a total flying time about 20 hours plus a few for the stopovers in between. I got a decent amount of sleep (yay those funny pillows you wear around your neck), and watched the recent;y released Australian film "Sleeping Beauty". It was a good movie but it must have also been really weird for the actress in it to film all those scenes (if you watch it you'll know which ones I'm talking about). Anywho, I arrived safely and have been Houston for about 48 hours now. So some stuff about by brief stay in this city thus far:
  • The fire hydrants here are blue with white tops. Seriously, they look like Smurfs.
  • Everyone drives everywhere here, since public transport here is pretty much non-existent and there aren't a lot of footpaths. There are a lot more flyovers and 4-lane roads to accommodate all the cars. A GPS is pretty damned essential here to navigate the road network here.
  • There's no sort of zoning in this city, so the layout is a little chaotic. You have houses, then suddenly there's a 10 storey hotel, then more houses, then a school, then a restaurant, and you haven't even gotten to the end of the street yet. Malika tells me every now and then you'll find a sex store next to a church. That would make an awesome postcard.
  • The Chinese and Indian districts here are pretty decent. I especially like the Chinese supermarkets, if I lived here I don't think I'd shop anywhere else. You get some kinda odd items though, such as dried deer feet. Hungry anyone?
  • The people here are really friendly and hospitable :)
  • General point about the USA, I'm getting used to tipping for stuff and what the correct process is. If you're at a restaurant, they give you the bill, you give them your credit card, they go away and check it, they bring back a second bill with a space to write the tip amount and sign, and you fill that out and leave. 15% is the norm, but there are places you don't tip (fast food joints, restaurants that already have a service charge, etc). You also tip for other things like haircuts.
  • Malls here are huge! The one near Malika's apartment has an ice rink in it. Plus they have good air-con, which is important in Houston.
  • Starbucks isn't too bad (coconut-flavoured frappes are the bomb).
  • Food here is delicious. I'm especially fond of the Mexican food because it's got a proper spice level in in, none of this watered down stuff we usually get in Australia. Prices in restaurants are pretty decent and the servings are larger than I'm used to. That said, I'm going to watch the amount I eat and even try to lose a bit of weight this week.
  • Security guards on segways; I can't decide whether to admire or lol at the idea.
  • I was at the Lego store today. Why does such a thing not exist in Australia? There were some pretty impresive Star Wars and Harry Potter sets for sale (I'd bring them back for my peeps if I could but they're pretty large). There's also a wall of drawers full of random bricks, and you can fill a bucket which whichever ones you want for a fixed price. Did you know there are orange and purple bricks now? Things have certain changed since I was a lad.
  • Turns out that cowboy hats actually kinda suit me. I've bought one for the festival, and a second nicer one which Malika will bring to Australia when she returns in November.
So over the next week I'll be spending time with my sister, meeting her friends and doing the touristy thing. On Saturday I'm flying out to Dallas and meeting up with the roadtrip peeps. I've also reconnected with a high school friend who's in San Fran, so I'll meet with him after Burning Man. Huzzah for month of American adventure!
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Yesterday at work didn't end well when a contractor didn't understand my very simple instructions and the builder sent me a pretty unprofessional email blaming me and cc'ing in my bosses.
Today started pretty well when my boss came over to me and told me that we needed to bitchslap this contractor for being such and idiot and making us do his job for him, and that we'd deal with the builder later.
Oh, I also bought a Halloween Jack mask yesterday. Because I could.
I'm going in just over a week and would like to catch up with people before I potter off to the states. If anyone's free to have lunch in the city next week then give me a buzz.
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Do you have a LinkedIn profile? If so, how have you found it so far?
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 So hey, stuff:
  • X-Men First Class wasn't too shabby. It did get a little silly near the end but overall was lots of fun. The actor who played Magneto was pretty good and Wolverine cameo was really funny. Some elements of the movie definitely had a classic 007 feel about them. I'm looking forward to Transformers when that comes out near the end of this month, and who could say no to a flying Optimus Prime and a space bridge? Since I saw Deathly Hallows Part 1 I should probably see Part 2 as well, but damned if I'm going to turn up in costume.
  • Shades of Grey was an awesome read. It's apparently the first book in a trilogy so I'll keep a sharp eye out for the other two. The idea of a class system based on colour perception is pretty clever. The style is fun but there are elements of 1984 in there which work really well.
  • I'm currently on Hunter S Thompson's "The Great Shark Hunt", which is a collection of his short stories. I loved Fear and Loathing so I'me excited about this book, it makes me excited about my America trip.
  • Speaking of Fear and Loathing, I'm finishing watching the movie. Johnny Depp plays HST perfectly, and I'm really impressed by how well the movie follows the book. I've also got to watch Goodfellas, perhaps it will fill the void left when The Sopranos ended.
  • Season 3 of The Tudors just continues to demonstrated that Henry VII was a dick.
  • Bucks weekend this weekend should prove to be interesting.
  • I have been doing some more spending for my America trip and now own a camelpack, some binoculars and two sets of goggles (tinted and untinted). I need to buy some clothes and a few other items but I've got plenty of time.
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 So hey, stuff:
  • I'm currently reading Shades of Grey by Jasper Forde. It's set in a world where some "event" has happened that causes everyone to only be able to see a certain range of the colour spectrum, and a whole class system has established around this. It's very comical and I've moved through it pretty quickly. Definitely a recommend if you're looking for something different and generally lighthearted.
  • Went on a very classy bar crawl with Sheebs and Dinusha. We tried out five different bars in the CBD area and had a different cocktail at each. Dinusha impressed the folks and the Greenhouse with her cocktail knowledge. FYI Greenhouse deserts are absolutely delicious. The only problem with bars in the CBD is that they either close at midnight or close at 1am with a midnight lockout, so you can't be out that late. Anywho we're planning to do the same thing in Mount Lawley in the near future, there are more bars and they're open later.
  • Engineers Australia has a ball coming up in a few weeks which my work was find enough to buy me a ticket to. That reminds me, I really should have my suit dry-cleaned at some point.
  • Yesterday was lots of fun. It started with breakfast with Chesna, who's spent the past month galavanting around Greece. Hung out at Borders for a few hours and read comics before heading to a birthday picnic in Kings Park for an Oaktree friend. Was lots of fun, although the weather was colder and more overcast than expected. I guess winter had to happen sooner or later. Later in the evening there was Katie's birthday shindig at Devilles. It's definitely the most interesting venue I've been to in a long time, and Perth needs more themed bars and restaurants. Finished up playing drunk poker at Tom's place for his birthday into the wee hours of the morning. All in all a day well spent.
  • I've now completed Portal 2 at it was awesome. Puzzles were creative and challenging, humor was excellent and the many references to science were greatly appreciated. Now I'm going to have to get into co-op mode. Anyone looking for a Portal partner?
  • I think I'll make myself an elwire Optimus Prime mask for Burning Man.
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 So, yeah, stuff:
  • So after four weeks of crazy work stuff things are under control and nothing lit on fire. A project in crisis, my boss being away and one of my mentoring engineers leaving our company meant a few weekends in the office at lots of early starts and late finishes. This week won't be a walk in a park but it'll be a lot better, plus it's only three days long :) 
  • Mum flew out to Nepal on Friday. Her mum and two of her sisters moved there and she usually visits them once a year. Sometimes it's a little worrying her going because Nepal's not always the most stable country, but things have been pretty calm of late so I'm sure she'll be okay. 
  • Boo going to work tomorrow! A five day weekend has lulled me into a pattern of laziness I'm not anxious to break. Oh well, all good things must come to an end.  I'm pretty happy with my use of the past five days (see dot points below).
  • My birthday party was made of awesomesauce. Special thanks to the people who helped provide music and helped with the cleanup the next day. It was great to have all my friends gathered in one place, sorry if I didn't spend enough time with certain people but as much as I tried to float around I was really outnumbered. Apart from a stolen traffic cone there weren't any especially scandalous shenanigans, just a generally good time. It's made me fully realize how much I miss hanging out with my friends on a daily basis like at uni. I miss the random geeky conversations, chilling on campus, and being able to randomly hug people (doesn't go down too well at work). Oh well, such is life.
  • I went to a silent disco at East End in Freo, which is a great bar and club. Everyone was given a pair of headphones that you could tune to one of three DJs who were all mixing at the same time. It was pretty cool having a choice of music, plus having the music on headphones instead of blaring in club meant you could actually have a conversation with someone without shouting.
  • Suckerpunch was better than I thought it would be. Visually spectacular, good soundtrack and the story didn't suck. The ending was a little weak and some of the dialogue a little cheesy, but otherwise it was pretty good.
  • I wasn't going to see Thor but enough people have said enough good things about it to make me rethink that position. Anyone not seen it yet who'd be up for seeing it this weekend? 
  • I made linguine with tomato, capsicum and chorizo sauce. It's alright but the chorizo I bought was a little substandard.
  • I'm looking to get some more weight discs for my dumbbells. Does anyone have weights they're no longer using and wouldn't mind selling?
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 I got one of my Book Depository books today. I'm happy one's arrived but didn't realize I'd get them one at a time.
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 Yep, more dot points:
  • I turned 25 last week! I definitely feel older, though that's probably because I'm (supposedly) a big grown-up engineer yet. Thanks to everyone who sent me happy birthday messages. Lots of the people in the office remembered, and I even got a surprise muffin.
  • Work was batshit crazy this week with lots of drawings going out and a project in crisis. The coming week will be equally as busy, I'll really need the extra long weekend. We've got three engineers going on leave over the Easter break as well so I don't see things calming down for at least the next fortnight.
  • Ooh, the extra long weekend! Mum will be in Nepal so I'll have the house to myself for a week and a half. I'm having a crazy shirt themed party on Saturday, can people please check Facebook if they haven't seen the invite already? I'm going to try to fit in a movie night somewhere there as well if people are up for it.
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 So this is a post exclusively about work, with some movie stuff thrown in:
  • My boss left early on Thursday. He called our team assistant from the road and told her (in a very calm manner) to cancel his appointments for the day because he was having chest pains and was driving himself to the hospital. Apparently he's doing okay, they're just keeping an eye on him in hospital for now. I doubt I'll see him next week, hopefully he'll stay at home and relax (he's quite the workaholic).
  • Our Perth office director brought his new baby boy into work this week.He's a couple of weeks old and 3.5kg at this point. As usual, the best way to eliminate productivity in an office is to bring a baby into work for everyone to crowd around and squee at.
  • Got asked to go into work today to do some really urgent refiddling of some designs we'd previously completed. Not the worst thing in the world, plus it's amazing how productive you can be in an office when no-one's around. Also had a little chat to our director, topics included racism in Australia and Threadless (he owns the haiku shirt, among others). Speaking of which, my Threadless shirts came this week :)
  • Recently watched "The Departed". Awesome film, all the actors are great in it, from the aggressive cops to the psychotic criminals. The various accents that come up in the film are good for a laugh as well.
  • I'm also about halfway through "Malcolm X". It's well scripted and directed, but probably more melodramatic than it needs to be and obviously favouring Mr X's side of the story. It you don't want to watch the whole thing, at least watch the lindy hop style dance scene near the beginning of the film.
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