Saturday, December 21, 2013

December updates

Well, I have not been posting much at all, though I have been keeping quite busy.  I am in one of those manic phases at work where I have been desperately trying to finish this project to hand off to a consultant so they can get the work started in Dec. rather than Jan.  I may have missed that window, however.  The most disappointing thing is that this is only the first phase (and it has taken a solid week).  The work all has to be repeated with the Census block group data, but I won't be able to undertake that work to refine the results until late Jan. (if then).

The most important update is that I have a job offer (in principle) to start working in a Vancouver office in Feb. and then to move to Toronto in July, which has been the overarching plan for some time.  However, I really expected (or rather really hoped) to have the offer in hand this week so I could sign and then begin the visa process.  That didn't happen, and now I wonder if I will get the offer before the 25th. I think losing even a couple of days in mid-Dec. has made it unlikely that the paperwork will go through in time, which is most unfortunate.  I still have a bunch of questions as to how the visa paperwork all gets processed (and whether the whole family has to go back out to the airport), but that's secondary to getting the offer in writing.  Curiously, another firm had been a bit interested but dragging its feet.  Suddenly they decided to put a package together, though I don't think they have much of a chance (unless the first offer completely falls apart).  Well, it's always nice to be in demand, particularly in this economic climate.  It partly justifies the insane amount of work I put in over the past two years...

It has properly snowed in Vancouver, which is fairly rare.  It made a huge mess of the Friday morning commute, that's for sure.  I even saw some snowmen in front yards on the way home.  If I can find my proper gloves, I might see about making one with the kids in the morning.  It may well rain tonight, making things an even bigger mess.  Given that we have the snow now, I'd just as soon have a bit left on the grass for Christmas.  Anyway, if the weather outlook doesn't improve, then we probably won't go to the VanDusen Gardens to look at the lights after all (just as well I didn't say anything to the kids).

It will be a fairly Christmas-y weekend.  I promised to help my daughter make some decorations for the tree.  I have a fair bit of wrapping to do Sunday, though I will note that the actual shopping was done a while ago.  Even better, we got the presents in the mail from my side of the family.  My mother-in-law sent some package that has been completely lost, which is most unfortunate.  Last weekend we got the tree up and even sent out the Xmas cards (electronically).  So overall, we're in good shape.  I may have the energy to pick up gingerbread mix and make gingerbread men over the weekend, but I'm not promising anything...

As far as reading, I am just stubborn enough to want to push through Proust, but it has been delegated to secondary reading, and at this rate it takes me about 2 months/book, so I guess by next fall I will be finished.  In the meantime, I read some of Robert Walser's stories and thought they were ok, but not life-changing.  I've just started Amsterdam Stories by Nescio, and they are in the same vein, but a bit more compelling.  The real author of these stories (J.H.F. Grönloh) should be an inspiration to me.  Much like Wallace Stevens, he was a business man (ultimately a director of the Holland–Bombay Trading Company) who carved out a bit of time here and there to write.  Of the Mitteleuropa authors I was discussing, I also read Gregor von Rezzori's Oedipus at Stalingrad.  I liked the early parts (which occasionally reminded me of a George Grosz tableau) but thought the ending kind of disappointing.  Nonetheless, I have also checked out The Orient Express from the library, which is one of Rezzori's last novels.

I am just beginning Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, which features an interesting narrative voice -- that of an elderly preacher who has a young son, whom he doesn't expect to see reach his teen years.  While this may not have been her intent, I am hearing the voice in my head as Garrison Keillor.  He's done a lot of stuff obviously, which floats in and out of print,* but one of my enduring favorites is Local Man Moves to the City where he has a classic bit about an idea he gets of preaching from Thoreau's Walden on the NYC subway.  So that is sort of floating in my head as I read the book, and so far it is making it more enjoyable.

Speaking of other strange juxtapositions, I am finding myself thinking of the merry Anglo-Irish in Molly Keane's work as just a bit like the well-to-do Southerners in Faulkner.  Normally Keane is writing as an insider and Faulkner as an outsider.  However, they come together nicely in Keane's Conversation Piece and Faulkner's The Reivers, even to the point of having unreliable cars that become minor plot points.  If I were still in that game, that would be an interesting essay, putting the two novels together. So far, I am enjoying Conversation Piece, though it seems a fairly slight novel, all things considered.
I did manage to finish Moshin Hamid's The Reluctant Terrorist and found it a thoroughly disappointing book.  I'll just call it a damp squib of a book and leave it at that.  (Well, I will add that his earlier novel, Moth Smoke, is a lot more interesting.)  There are a few interesting books coming down the pike (in my TBR pile) and I'm hoping I get to them by the spring.

So once I write it all down, it becomes apparent that actually quite a lot has been going on.  My biggest disappointment of recent weeks (other than not being able to round up a babysitter when I needed one and to a lesser extent not getting the offer in hand this week) is that I simply do not have the energy to write after work.  (The reading is almost all done in transit, but I suppose I could attempt to write, rather than read, on the bus and train.  Something to consider, I suppose.)

* The library has more of Keillor than I had imagined, and I might try to check some of his audio books out before the move, but no local library seems to have Local Man Moves to the City.  I believe I already tossed my cassette version after transferring it to the computer, but if it turns up I could offer it to the Burnaby Library (they actually still have a few cassettes in their collection!).

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