Thursday, October 28, 2010

No jobs

Well, I didn't get that one either. They told the recruiter they wanted someone more "technical." The recruiter found it as mystifying as I did, but noted they've rejected all of his candidates for the same reason.

I haven't seen any other embedded jobs in the last two weeks. I assume it's just a lull and they'll be some more soon, but right now its mopey time in the Planck household.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


We went looking for a house to rent. The prices don't seem much worse than back home, but the houses cover a wide range of quality. In a nice neighborhood, you can be looking at much older homes. For one house, the most recent renovation appeared to be the addition of electricity.

Central heating is quite rare for rentals, and central air conditioning is unheard of. Even most new houses apparently don't have central air. I guess it's not quite the necessity here that it is in Tucson.

There are some other things to get used to. In America, almost every house is either N-S or E-W facing. Here, it seems like every 4th house is laid down at an angle, anywhere from 15 to 60 degrees. Usually the houses at intersections face the the middle of the intersection, but plenty of houses on the street just face random directions.

The streets are usually 1-2 km long, and then they stop. This means most houses are numbered with 2 digits. It seems very quaint to me, since I've lived the last 10 years in the 4000 block. I also can't imagine coming up with unique names for every kilometer of road in a city the size of Melbourne. On the other hand, some of the names are pretty absurd, so they weren't trying that hard - for instance, Coolaroo, Coolart, and Coolar are all allegedly legitimate addresses.

Tomorrow we are looking at a house just down the street. It's a bit more than I wanted to pay, but by being so close to Grandma we'll save the difference in gas. And even more so in petrol (which costs twice as much).

You pay by the week here, and the market is tight, so good properties go fast. Most places don't allow pets, which isn't a problem yet - we'll probably wait until the baby is a bit older before we look for a dog. The yards are all small, but that's a good thing - this place is infested with greenery. I'm going to have to buy a lawn-mower.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The perfect job

I interviewed for the perfect job. A small, young, high-tech company, right in my field. I got along great with the two guys I talked to - you know it's a good interview when you can work Godel's theorem into a discussion on software.

Unfortunately, I was their second choice. (What, did the other guy manage to slip in a reference to the Poincare Conjecture?) And as we all know, second place counts for squat.

I was pretty bummed about it, which accounts for the silence of the blog.

But tomorrow I have another interview, with an actual company instead of a recruiter. It's a good solid company, a little larger and more established. I expect the interview to go well. The job is it's right up my alley, and the company is just down the street, so that would work out great.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Health Care

I went to the doctor today. My visit was $90, of which I had to pay $30. Twice as much as the co-pay back home, but then everything is twice as expensive here.

She sent me to get a new glucose monitor that measures in Aussie numbers. I was worried that the screen would be upside-down but it turns out its exactly like my American one, only more expensive (cost me $10 after rebate instead of free, like in America). On the other hand, the test strips are also half the price. Go government subsidies!

She had to call a government hot-line and ask permission for a prescription. She apologized for this, explaining that some meds were expensive enough that government had an extra layer of controls on them. I told her I understood, and that in America she would be calling an insurance company, not the government.

The doctor also told me to eat less fruit and more chocolate. Is this a great country or what?

Friday, October 8, 2010


I've already made the headlines in my new country! Well, the newspaper... OK, I mean the "Letters" page.

This is the article that prompted my outraged screed: I was raised from the dead, woman tells

And this is the screed itself: A terrible fate awaits (scroll down a bit)

One of my mother-in-law's friends alerted us to the fact that it had been posted, after having read it and either recognized my name or my scintillating wit. (I'm postive it was one of the two.)

Newspapers printing articles that are critical of their handling of religion? Must be a feature of the socialist nanny state.

Job search

So far I've only had interviews with recruiters. Australia seems to be entranced by head-hunters; 90% of the jobs advertised are handled through recruitment firms. And they all want you to take standardized tests to prove your skills. It feels like the 80's! (Wait, did I already say that?)

The one interview I had lined up didn't pan out; I never got to speak to the company. The recruiter warned me that we were a little late to the table. Also, they went with a guy who had worked with them before, which is hard to beat.

I had another interview the same day with a different recruiter, who told me his contact was out for a week, so I should be patient. Then, next week I had an interview with a recruiter for a contract job - not really what I want, but the work sounded interesting and the money was good.

Finally, today I scheduled an interview with an actual company (not through a recruiter). So that's 4 interviews in 4 weeks. I think that's good.

On the other hand every week I see at least one job opening that's perfect for me. So it's just a matter of time. Sara and I are going to start looking at rentals this weekend. But we'll stay with the in-laws until my ship comes in. Meaning the ship with all my crap on it, not my allegorical fortune.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

On flies

Aussie flies are absurd. By absurd, I mean bigger than you.

One got in to the house today. I chased it around the kitchen with a towel. I didn't manage to kill it, but I did stun it long enough to throw it outside.

You think I'm joking (how could he fail to kill a fly?). But I'm not.

Bit & pieces

I put gas in the car today. Then I filled it with petrol.

My brother-in-law's car, like a surprising number of cars here, has a dual fuel system. Natural gas is half the price of petrol, and he swears it's only 10% less mileage per liter. Some pundits have claimed this is the future: a mix of various energy technologies, all in play at the same time, instead of a single monolithic system. But I don't see how diversity can compete with the economies of scale.

On the plus side, there's no "mid-grade" here, just economy and premium petrol. The middle grade doesn't make any engineering sense at all; it's purely a marketing artifact. At least real energy diversity will drive out the fake diversity that the oil companies invented to nickel-and-dime us to death.

In other news, they don't have nickels or dimes here, just 5 and 10 cent pieces. The quarter is replace by a 20 cent piece. None of them have names. Heck, we even gave the rarely used 50 cent piece a name: half-dollar. They call pennies "cents." What kind of culture doesn't make up pet names for its currency? It's so un-American...