The Best Job EVER?

hamiltonisland1To the left is an image of Hamilton Island, off Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Now imagine for a moment, that THAT is your office – for six months.

All YOU have to do is keep an eye on the island … feed the fish … and occasionally write a blog about your experiences.

And for all your hard work, you receive a salary of 70,000 pounds ($126,232 Cdn.) and a three-bedroom villa. Rent-free.

Here’s the thing: this ain’t the premise for a new reality/game show.

It’s a real, honest-to-God job posting for Tourism Queensland. I’m not even kidding – this is the Web site.

They’ve posted the aforementioned job in 18 countries, looking for someone to work as caretaker for Hamilton Island, starting in July.

All you need to do is be at least 18 years old, be able to swim, have a year of “relevant experience”, and good communication skills. And you have to send them a video showing them why you want the job.

There’s NO catch whatsoever.

Suddenly I’m finding it VERY hard to focus at work.

The posting closes in 40 days. So if any of you apply and GET said job, pleeeeeeease invite me. I’m a reeeally good, conscientious house-guest :).

You can read more about it here.

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The Vomit Comet

As I mention on a semi-regular basis on this blog, I live way out in suburbia, but work and (for the most part) play downtown.

Although I’m trying to be more responsible about this, there are times where I’ve stayed out as late as possible, catching the last possible subway without resorting to cabbing it all the way home.

It’s challenging enough dealing with people on public transit during the day – loud voices, annoying personal habits and big, bulky bags, at times packed into buses, streetcars and subway trains.

But in the middle of the night, The Better Way gives way to The Vomit Comet – the nickname given to TTC service at night and the wee hours of the morning. 

It immediately conjures up images of drunken, unruly folks so inebriated they can barely stand – or worse,  when their insides give up the war against alcohol and revolt, causing said drunkards to showcase the contents of their stomachs to  other patrons.

I have somehow avoided witnessing this for myself.*

Until last night.

Two stops into my commute home, a bunch of young guys bounded onto the subway car, making all sorts of noise. Two of them plunked themselves down into the seats just behind me; their friend eased into a two-seater just diagonal from my own, on the other side of the car.

I turned up my iPod as best I could, but I could still hear them. At one point, one of them said something chiding their friend about throwing up somewhere, but I didn’t really pay any attention.

Around the time the train was cruising through Greenwood station, I don’t know WHAT caused me to look up from my book at one point, but I did – and looked over my shoulder.

The guy seated diagonally and across from me had upchucked (if I were to take a wild guess, pizza) into the seat right beside his. His head was bent forward, a long string of mucus just hanging there from his mouth, like a wobbly, gelatinous icicle.

His friends were just whooping and hollering with laughter.

I looked away, not processing what I saw. Then I looked again. Yep, I thought. THAT’s vomit. Time to move.

I should have left the car entirely. But I just moved as far down to the opposite end as I could.

Near the end of my trip, I turned to see if the young dude was still there. He was. And so were his friends – taking pictures of his digestive artwork with their cellphones.

The young guy was still retching as I got off the subway at the end of the line.

I feel sorry for that kid when he finds out what his friends did.

And I feel sorry for whomever had to clean up his mess. 

 

*By which I mean seeing OTHER people vomit. I was a victim of this once, but I had (a) the luxury of having a subway car to myself and (b) a plastic bag, into which I could deposit – and later dispose of at my final destination – the evidence.

New Year, New Dreams

Maybe this is some sort of indirect by-product of my efforts to get more sleep … but I’m ALREADY having weird dreams.

I hope none of these are premonitions.

Sunday (January 4): I dreamt that I was going home to my apartment – which city, I dunno; it looked pretty generic – when I think I was accosted by someone I can only describe as a young, deaf guy try to mug me. I don’t know why I came to this particular conclusion, other than the fact he never said anything – he just grunted.

Apparently I managed to break free and fight him off, just metres away from what I can only guess was an entrance to my apartment.

Later on when I was inside the aforementioned apartment, I dreamt that two little girls managed to break their way into my living room (which looked strangely like the front room of my parents’ house, where I currently live). One of them looked no older than four or five; the other – who I just assumed to be her little sister – was a mere toddler.

I remember trying to figure out where they came from and whether they were all right … and I somehow got the impression they were in cahoots with the deaf thief from earlier. I think I remember hearing him trying to break into the window from outside … when I woke up.

 

Wednesday (January 7): I had what felt like three separate dreams.

Dream # 1: I was working at a radio staion with a colleague of mine, who asked me to telephone this man who I THINK was a doctor and was a guest that our local station really wanted.

I remember being given sheets of paper with his contact information, as well as a note that he was pissed off/annoyed at us because a number of other stations under the same network had been calling for interviews. At any rate, he was in a sister radio station in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I tried calling using this special inter-office phone code for the radio studio he currently was in … but I just seemed to keep dialling … and dialling … and dialling. I don’t think I ever got through.

Dream # 2: I dreamt that I was sitting at a table with my parents and this TV host, talking about abortion rights. And the host was commending them for their progressive views.

At one point, I was trying to figure out how to get my dad on camera, but my mom explained that he probably wouldn’t want to be on camera because of some incident a long time ago. I still wanted to try, and was imagining myself convincing him that it would be okay.

Dream #3: This one felt like a movie of the week. Apparently I was in my house – which looked a lot like the first house I grew up in – trying to change my clothes. But my sister (I don’t have a sister; this person resembles someone I know from work, who looks NOTHING like me) was trying to catch me naked – I guess to embarrass me? I dunno.

At one point, she came into my kitchen naked, except for where her hands covered her bits (I don’t understand this part) and she launched into some monologue about how my promiscuous behaviour had pretty much branded the other female members in our family (I’m assuming the other sisters I apparently had), and they’d been living with the shame ever since. And when she was finished, a couple of tears rolled down her face.

I remember going over to hug her and then just dissolving into tears when I tried to apologize. I couldn’t actually say anything – I just sobbed. I think the thing that got me was that it actually felt real. Strangely enough, I did not wake up crying.

It probably means nothing. But if you come up with some explanation for all this strangeness, go ahead – give it your best shot.

I’d Like To …

Seeing as it’s a brand-new year, and in keeping with the theme of things I’d like to do this year …

I was thinking about things I’d like to try, whether for the first time, just to say I’ve tried it, or after a long hiatus. So just to throw some out there, here are some of my potential interests:

Crochet. I haven’t made anything in ages. A few years ago, I was on this crocheting kick. I made one friend a blanket, and my mom and another friend scarves. I even made myself a purple scarf (and matching hat … which kind of doesn’t fit properly).

This Christmas, my mom got me a crochet book with the basics and some patterns. So maybe I’ll rediscover my skill during one of these cold winter days. And maybe this time, I can make myself a hat that fits.

Cross-country OR downhill ski. The former I did last year; the latter when I was 14 years old (and had to get the ski lift operator to pull me off at the very top because I didn’t know how to ski off the ski lift chair). Maybe I’ll come back to this.

Bellydance. On New Year’s Eve, I went out with some friends to dinner at an Indian fusion restaurant. Besides the fabulous food and great entertainment – a jazz band called Autorickshaw, which you might be familiar with if you’re from the Toronto area, AND this fantastic bellydancer.

Since seeing her perform, I’ve been infatuated with the idea of taking a class to try it out. I hear it’s good for your abs (and surrounding muscles). I have one friend who does it, and one who’d like to try it out. I even know a friend who works at a studio. Although with my chronically weak back, I should probably take it easy …. Nah.

Go for a manicure/pedicure:   I have never had one in my entire life. I guess I could then knock if off my personal list of Things I Haven’t Done.  Maybe it’ll make me feel more ladylike.

Take Yoga. I need to rediscover this. I took a beginner’s class ages ago, but never got past that. And I know of at least one friend who teaches yoga, so I should try and take advantage of that.

Learn samba drumming. I know deep down this would never, ever happen this year. Or maybe in a thousand years. But I LOVE the sound of samba drums. Or even if I couldn’t drum, I’d love a samba dance lesson.

Camp. This is obviously for when it gets warmer later on. If the travelling thing works out for March, I’ll be in the city the entire summer, for the first time in about four years.

Normally I’m lucky enough to go car-camping with friends once a summer – usually somewhere that’s within an hour’s drive. I don’t mind those sites at all. But I would really love it if I had the chance to go twice, and spend one trip at one of the relatively local sites we go to, and then another at a really beautiful site, like this one … ooh, or even somewhere near this.

This is a short-ish list at the moment. But as I think of things, I’ll add them to this post. Stay tuned.

First Hump Day Video of 2009

I guess it’s been that kind of week …

But for WHATEVER reason I’ve had “Fish Heads” by Barnes & Barnes in my head, on and off, for the last day and a half. (Not the whole thing – just the chorus.)

It’s even stranger, considering (1) I was a year old when this song was released, and (2) I don’t even like fish heads.

Kids, here today’s obscure music history lesson.

Consider yourself educated. You’ll thank me later.

Hacked!

With all the different Web sites, blogs, social networking sites and the like, it’s easy to let one’s guard down and forget that, despite all the various PIN numbers and passwords one can have, these things can still be invaded by hackers and scam artists.

Case in point:

A couple of hours ago, I was on the Facebook for the upteenth time – as I’m usually wont to do – and I decided to check the Chat feature to see who was online.

I saw one of my friends online, with a status line update which read, URGENT HELP!!!” This obviously caught my attention, and I instant messaged her to see if she’s okay and whether she found the help she needed.

My friend wrote back that she’s stuck in an airport in London.

I was confused, so I typed back, “London, Ontario?”

My friend wrote back that she was on vacation at a resort, and she was robbed and was trying to get home.

This immediately struck me as strange. I knew she just returned from Ottawa visiting friends, and Kingston staying with her parents. So this made no sense to me whatsoever.

Plus, I know my friend’s got pets – if she were going to take a trip overseas, she’d make sure they were being looked after before she took off.

This was enough for me to pick up the phone and call her apartment.

Sure enough, my worst fears were confirmed when my friend picked up the phone – and explained to me that someone had hacked into her Facebook account within the last day, changing the e-mail address on her profile, and preventing her from getting in (at least, that’s what I remember, but I could be wrong on this part of the story).

I told my friend I had the hacker online at that very moment, asking me if I could help “her” out.

My friend explained that she tried e-mailed the Facebook folks at least a dozen times from the time she realized what was happening. (They have yet to respond.)

She added that the only other thing she could do is find a way to track the person down – if she had an address.

I kept the hacker on long enough to find out how they wanted the money to be sent (Western Union) – as where they wanted it sent.

Bingo. I worked as fast as my fingers would let me and sent the addreess to my friend’s (real) e-mail address – while the hacker was asking, “Are you going there (the Web site) now?” How brazen.

I managed to sign off of Facebook chat shortly after this – hopefully without arousing suspicion, but who knows? – and promptly removed my friend’s account from my list of friends.

I can only hope now that my friend can get things sorted out – and get the authorities to track the culprit down. What a way for her new year to start out, hey?

Now, it’d be pretty easy for those of you who aren’t Facebook members -and refuse to do so for various reasons, personal security among them – to point the finger and say “See? Told you it wasn’t a good idea.”

But you know what? It doesn’t really matter. This could happen to anyone, using any type of electronic vehicle.

But this episode does serve as a reminder to people to be aware if they use any kind of Web site, blog or anything – even to people who notice that maybe there’s something amiss when they receive strange e-mails from friends or even stranger instant messages.

Now more than ever, we need to exercise vigilance. The world may be big and hard to control at times – but so’s the Internet.

2009: Whatever.

On the last Sunday in November, my younger brother dropped by for his bi-weekly visit to see my folks. As he does from time to time, he usually brings my mother an exotic new houseplant to add to her collection of leafy friends.

On this day, he brought her a pink amaryllis.

When it first came into the household, it wasn’t pink – it was small (under  a foot high) and green, with no flowers.

None of us had seen one before, nor did we know anything about it.

So imagine our surprise when, in the span of about five days, the thing  shot up some 20 inches. That little plant – which had become a lanky, almost mutant-like creature – astounded me. My mom and I constantly watched it as we realized what was happening.

It bloomed four beautiful flowers, which lasted about a week. When it began to wilt and lean, my mom then did what was prescribed, cutting the plant right down to a nubbly few inches to keep it from dying (as a result of the explosive energy it put forth to grow and bloom for that short period of time).

It will probably remain in this state until this time next year, when it begins its awesome show all over again.

So what’s any of that got to do with today?

Well … as I start this year and reflect on yet another year gone, I kind of feel like that amaryllis, before the growth spurt. I feel this energy inside, this burning in my gut, and I know I could take off like a rocket at any moment, growing and blooming crazily.

And I want to. But I haven’t. And I know I have a lot to do with it.

I took a look at that magical list I created for myself at this time last year. And I knew right away that, instead of raising the bar, I dropped it on my foot. Repeatedly. 

With the exception of trying  (late in the year) to keep neat, and going travelling, I pretty did the EXACT OPPOSITE of EVERYTHING ELSE on that list.

I think part of the problem’s that I put too many expectations on myself. Because I was pleasantly surprised with what I’d accomplished in 2007 – seemingly without any effort – I thought I could replicate, even capitalize on that. And it didn’t really materialize.

Another part of the problem was that I don’t think I tried – or pushed – as hard as I could have, because I guess I felt as if I didn’t really have to try the previous year. 

I could go on. But instead of dwelling on the previous 365 days, perhaps I should adopt this new mantra to tackle the next 364:

“Whatever.”

I’m not giving up. I’m just going to attempt NOT to expect so many things. Because when I set high expectations, I pressure myself to produce. And when I do that, I create my own stress. And that just leads to unhappiness.  

So I’m thinking, while I have a list of things I’d like to do, I should just try and let things happen the way they were meant to. And should there be an opportunity to accomplish something, I should then take the chance and seize it. (Yes, I know, duh.)

So … to practice my new philosophy:

I want to travel somewhere other than Europe this year. Morocco’s on my mind. Will it happen? Maybe. What if it doesn’t? Well, maybe I should travel somewhere else instead. Whatever.

I want a new job and a place to live. Times are supposed to be tough. If I can actually make these things happen, great. But if they don’t happen? It’s not the end of the world. I still have a place to live, where the  door’s always open. And I’ll have to learn to make do with the job I have – considering it’s probably better than having no job at all.  Whatever.

I want to actually get to places on time. My track record has been horrific. And frankly it’s a bit disrespectful to everyone I keep appointments with. Plus I’m constantly a rush to do things on limited time. I’ll do my best. But if it it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. Whatever.

I should modify my lifestyle to a healthier one. It’s not necessarily about looking good – although that helps. I have a bad back.  And the more weight I gain, the harder it is on the places that hurt. Plus, I need to re-introduce myself to the concept of moderation, since I pretty much chucked out the window sometime in early January. It’s a nice notion to entertain, so I’ll see what happens. Whatever.

So I’m leaving it there. Anything that happens outside of that – cool experiences, personal accomplishments, relationships formed and forged – I’ll do my best to leave up to the universe.

Because, much like that amaryllis, when you don’t expect anything is when something beautiful happens – when it catches you off-guard and just astounds you.

That is probably one of the feelings I love more than anything. Being blown away, to me, is right up there with having moments of pure happiness. And I’m more than ready to be astounded, with arms wide open.

So, 2009: go ahead. Astound me.

And happy new year to all of you. May it bring the good things you don’t expect.