Oh, Hai

Who knows where the time goes? I see my last post was on December 24th, so belated Happy New Year to all!

I finally got my car on the evening of December 27th. I’m really very pleased with it so far. It’s nice going back to a sedan after almost 3 years in an SUV, though it takes some time to get used to sitting lower. The car is filled with technology that many of you may take for granted but that I didn’t have in my last car – backup camera, remote start, some more buttons here and there. No ashtray in the car and so I’ve decided, based only partly on that, to not smoke in the car. I’ve even managed to stick to that when stuck in some pretty bad traffic. Podcasts are helping me keep my mind off both traffic and smoking.

One pain in the butt is that the car has Apple CarPlay, which is very nice, but not as nice as I was expecting, for two reasons:

1 – When playing music, the car’s screen just shows artist, song, album in text. I was hoping to see the album cover as well. Curiously, the artwork does appear, thumbnail size, in the “computer” section under the tach/speedometer, just not on the big screen.

2 – Waze will not display on the screen at all. Apparently Apple’s rules for CarPlay disallow any navigational apps except their own, humongously bad Apple Maps (which couldn’t find my office building even though it’s huge, not new, and on a main street in BGC). I can have the audio directions play through the car’s stereo but the app won’t display on the screen. (This is not an issue with Android but I’m not ready to switch to Android … yet. Let’s see what they do with the Galaxy S9 when it gets announced presumably next month.)

All of that aside, I’m now one month into the new job. I won’t lie – I’m pretty much exhausted by the time I get home every night and not feeling like doing much on the weekends other than lying around watching movies (so far this year Coco, The Beguiled, Lady Bird, I Tonya, The Disaster Artist and mother! for the second time) and TV (Black Mirror season 2, The End of the Fxxxing World). I assume things will even out once I get more used to the daily commute as well as all of the new stuff I’m dealing with at the office. I like my boss, I like the people I’m working with, there’s a ton of work but so far it’s all good.

So that’s about it for now. Nothing exciting going on. Work, sleep, work, sleep, the occasional nice meal or shot of whisky. I’ve been working on a post on my favorite music of 2017, not sure when I will be able to finish it. So for now, here’s a photo to share, took it on the way home a few days ago, I don’t think I’d mind if I could do this during my commute too ….

New Job – New Car (Someday) – Happy Holidays

I’ve been at my new job for two weeks now. I was hoping to push my start date back to January 2nd (in order to get a few things ready) but they wanted me in there ASAP and three weeks of pay in December ain’t nothing to sneeze at, so I started on December 11th. So far I have nothing to complain about job-wise. The company (which I previously worked for in 2011 and 2012) has grown tremendously, I like my manager and the people in the teams I’m managing (there are three), and there’s a lot of getting up to speed, learning new tools and techniques, which is something I’ve always found fun (nerd alert?).

My only complaint has been my commute.

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I Went to Dallas to Look for a Job and Found One – In Manila

Life’s like that, isn’t it?

As I mentioned here and here and here and especially here, I’ve been searching for a new job ever since finding out on May 4th that I would be laid off from my job effective September 30th. I’d had my share of ups and downs in that job, but overall I had very little to complain about. I had great relationships with my boss, my peers and the CEO, I really respected the company’s products, and I had a strong team underneath me. But the new owners decided to drastically reduce the company’s footprint in Asia.

[Side note: It turns out that the amount of the legal minimum redundancy payment in Hong Kong was set in 1968 and not updated since then. So after 4-1/2 years with the company, I received less than one month’s salary as my severance payment.]

Searching for a new job became my job. I decided to focus on Hong Kong and I came close a couple of times.

But when September 30th rolled around, I still hadn’t found anything. I figured I had two strikes against me – my age (I’m over 60) and my lack of business-fluent Cantonese and Mandarin. My wife and I discussed it and I decided to take something of a gamble – go to the U.S. and search for a job there.

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72 Hours of Highs and Lows

Yes, some random bitching and moaning, but hopefully some of you will find some of this somewhat interesting. Life anywhere is filled with minor annoyances. The trick, I suppose, is to control how you react to them. I’m getting better at this. But part of that means getting it out of my system by writing about it.

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Spike in Texas

I don’t intend to post a day by day, blow by blow description of my current trip to the U.S. Things are going well and I need to remain focused on the tasks at hand. But a few brief things to bring you up to date, just in case you were wondering what happened to me.

This is my second time in Texas, but the first time I never left the airport, I was only transiting, so really this is my first time here.

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What the Fortune Teller Told Me and What I’m Doing

(I wrote most of this on Monday. Finished it late Wednesday night. Publishing on Thursday.)

Most people know that fortune tellers are con artists. It doesn’t matter. They’ve been around for centuries and when they’re good at their craft (and it definitely is a craft), at the very least it’s entertaining.

On Sunday night, my wife and I went up to the Temple Street Night Market. I love coming here. It’s always the same and hopefully it will never change.

First, you make that right turn from Jordan Road onto Temple Street and there are a couple of cheap shops selling just about any hair care product you can think of.

Then you get the four streets of stalls, selling any and every kind of cheap crap that they think someone will buy. I picked up a couple of USB cigarette lighters for US$6 a piece. No fluid, no gas, charge by USB, flick them on and a coil heats up enough to light a cigarette (but not large enough for a cigar), rechargeable, windproof, dozens of styles.

When you get to the garage, the south side has Nepalese people selling all sorts of crafts and religious statues. Along the west side are stands selling sex toys and personal grooming items. The east side has fortune tellers and stands set up for people to come along and pay some makeshift band so they can do karaoke-style Cantonese opera. The north side has more fortune tellers. Then there’s the park.

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My Hong Kong Airport Adventure

I know I don’t come off looking too great in this story but I’m going to share it anyway. (In my defense, I will state that my job search is still unresolved and I was leaving Hong Kong thinking that it could be a very long time until I return. I was distracted and feeling semi-depressed.)

Monday night was my night to fly back to Manila from Hong Kong. Over the course of the past six months, my routine has gotten pretty fixed. I always take the last flight out from Cebu Pacific – it gets me back to Manila after midnight, so usually the traffic has died down a bit and I can get home pretty quickly. I leave our apartment in Wanchai relatively early so that I can take my time in the airport.

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You Always Think It Only Happens to Others (Until It Happens To You)

If I haven’t blogged in awhile, that’s because I’ve been primarily focusing my energy on my job search.

But three months into my job search, I’m absolutely nowhere. I didn’t expect I’d find a new job within three months – though it would have been nice – but I did expect that I’d be getting somewhere by now. And the fact is, I’m not.

In the last three months I’ve reached out to almost everyone in my network in Hong Kong, and some people have been exceptionally helpful. I’ve had coffee with 15 or 20 headhunters, who always tell me the same thing – “Wow, your background is incredible. I’m sure you’ll find a great job. But I don’t have anything for you right now. Let’s stay in touch.”

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