Thursday, September 15, 2005

End of Winter.

Winter is almost over.

Australians for pragmatic reasons adopt September 1st as the first day of spring. However going by the measurement of the earth's orbit around the sun, spring equinox (fall equinox in the northern hemisphere) is not until around September 22th. That is when the days start getting longer than the nights. Currently sunrise is at 6.15am and sunset at 6.08pm, so we are almost there.

And winter is almost over in more ways than one.

I have an offer of employment in my email inbox. The pay is not much - downright pitiful compared to the money I used to make in Singapore - but it is a start. It is a stable income and is more money than delivering pizza and cleaning the pizza kitchens. To paraphrase
Hitch: I do not have to impress them. They already like me. They could have said "no", but they said "yes". It is now my job not to screw it up. Having amazingly landed the job as a purchasing clerk, I have no idea what to do to keep the job. After all, I know even less about the process of commercial purchasing operations than I do about driving forklifts!

You know on National Geographic where the camera crew track wildlife over a year, documenting the life events of an animal on film? Watching those documentaries always has me rooting for the non-human protagonist in the deep winter months, freezing in the snow and trying to find enough food to make it through winter without starving to death (or getting eaten). And knowing that when the spring rains come around, food will be more readily available and life would be slightly easier. And quietly cheering when the film crew take that obligatory shot of the rushing waters down a river swollen by the torrential spring rains banked by abundant spring wildflowers, heralding the end of winter and the start of spring.

With this new job, the food situation should get a little easier. And it should give me some time to rebuild and bulk up for the next challenge. And I plan to be a lot more comfortable (and warmer!) next winter. It has been a harsh but not unbearable winter. I have lost some stuff (recently yet another car hubcap and the comfort zone of my old life), and gained some stuff (new experiences, and the promise of a better life). Now that the food supply is stable for a while, it is time to move a notch up Maslow's Hierarchy and address long-term shelter needs.

You don't bring nothin' with you here
and you can't take nothin' back.
I ain't never seen a hearse with a luggage rack
- lyrics to You'll Be There, written by Cory Mayo


what made (especially) you go take that forklift course and exam ? guess nobody, at least not your follow countrymen, would bat an eyelid if it is pilot or powerboat license
question from Anonymous
In Singapore, powerboat and pilot licences are often a status symbol that you have "made it" in life. After all, how many Singaporeans ever get a chance to own (or regularly operate) a powerboat or plane? Hence most of the time I feel it is more of a subtle way of announcing to the world that you can afford (or intend to afford) these activities. Am sure there are a few hobbyists who genuinely enjoy powerboating or flying, but the space and opportunity for these activities are scarce in a tiny island-state where resources are tightly controlled.

My skills, training and work experience are not in high demand here in Western Australia. Perhaps in the eastern states, but not here in the middle of nowhere. Even before I moved here, I was keenly aware that I would have to
retrain to contribute economically in a meaningful way to WA. And at least here maybe I have the chance later to go back to school (with interest free-loans and cost-of-living subsidies from the government). It is a second lease to economic life that is not available in Singapore, once you are deemed past your economic usefulness to the corporation masquerading as a nation.

However until I figure out what I want to do with my life
outside of the The Singapore Plan, I am also investigating the economic activities that are valued here in Western Australia. And while I try to get a good understanding of the downsides of possible choices (like having to stick my arm up the rear end of a cow), the question remains "what economic activities are - and will be in future - well rewarded in Western Australia?"

The less time I have to spend on making money to live on, the more time I will have left to live my life.

That and D. has yet to burn out the wanderlust in her psyche. I foresee we will be doing a lot of travelling around Australia, once she has moved over and settled in. Therefore, whatever skills (or training) I aim to be picking up should be portable. Ideally our combined skills portfolio would allow us to drop into any reasonble sized town (population above 1000) and pick up enough work to live simply for a few months.

There is not much demand in primary production towns of 2000 people for broadband datacomms engineers configuring TCP/IP routers, is there? Or designing work instructions for electronics factories running high-volume SMT assembly lines, eh?

Initially identified on a possible list of valuable skills and professions that would be highly portable:
  • human and veterinary medicine
  • pilot (small bush planes)
  • small business book-keeping
  • certified tax accountant
  • speciality chef
  • mechanic (diesel engines)
  • freight driver (heavy vehicles)
  • radio and satellite comms technicians

The problem is that such professions take significant time and money to get trained in. And even more time to get sufficient experience and certifications. In the meantime, I am attempting to build a set of certified skills that would ensure my economic survival outside the metropolitian area.

So you see where the forklift ticket comes in? Australia is supplied by road primarily. A slogan I saw on a bumper sticker on a food freight truck says it all: "Without trucks, Australia stops". And if there is freight to be shipped, there has to be some way to get the tonnes of freight on and off at the distribution centres serving the town. And where labour is scarce, forklifts are used as a force-multiplier. Fork drivers are but glorified coolies of early Singapore who manually loaded and unloaded the docked supply ships.

And during harvest times at the farms or at peak production times at mining processing centres, a fork driver with the appropriate certifications and experience of a good track record should be able to find work..


"Perth ah? Retiree place lah! So slow! Nothing to see one.. Go Seed-nee better, more things to see. Or go Mal-burn. Even cheeper than Seed-nee and even more things to do one. Perth boring lah.. dun come and waste time! Nothing to see one - only for retirement. "
- roughly quoted from a potential recruit of the "Perth? Where is that?" myth-perpetuating-conspiracy that I am thinking of starting..


Blogger C said...

Actually, the sun rises at 5.30 am... believe it or not. Earlier than anticipated.

Nah, winter's definitely over. The chll has left my bones... now all we gotta do is wait for a warmer spring.

Congrats on the job!! What on earth does a purchasing clerk do though?

September 15, 2005 4:54 PM  
Blogger Calamity Man said...

yeah, whats a purchasing clerk with regards to the company you'd be working for?

September 15, 2005 5:11 PM  
Anonymous allan said...

Hi mate,

Like many of your readers, I'm someone you don't know but have been an avid reader of your blog. Very soon I'll be following your path and become a statistics in SG emigration list. Only I'm going to your opposite state - Queensland.

I'm so happy for you that you finally landed on a stable job. Is it less than 2mths? Even it's less than 3mths, it's already a great achievement. I was also in the same industry as you were in SG. "Was" becoz I've recently quitted my job and all geared up to fly to QLD to look for a new one.

Perhaps my sentiment now is the same as the time when you were taking the leap into the unknown. However you new job offer has been inspirational to me. Hope that when I take the leap at the end of this month, my future job hunting will be as smooth as yours.

Pls don't take it as a sarcasms, one should be considered very lucky to get a stable job within 3mths in Aus.

And you've done it. Well done & congrats, mate!

September 15, 2005 10:00 PM  
Blogger Tym said...

Congratulations! Another small step in the exciting new journey of your life. I am envious of that. I have started tottering on some baby steps myself, but all within the safe confines of the "home" still... Outside, the world awaits.

On powerboat/pilot licenses, I had no idea they were "status symbols". My husband has a powerboat license but he got it because of the (non-glamorous) job he had then. *sigh* Singaporeans --- everything also want to be atas.

Btw, I think I'm probably more a Melbourne girl myself (though I haven't been Down Under since I was a teen) because I am totally a city girl. Perth might be just a tad too quiet for me. So I will help you spread your rumour, 'kay?

September 15, 2005 10:18 PM  
Anonymous Martin said...

Congrats! You're a buyer now :P

September 15, 2005 11:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am definitely rooting for you, but find your criticism of Singapore disconcerting. Do we have a choice when it comes to maximising our investment in human capital? Don't forget Australia has ample natural resources, which she uses, and this explains the relatively leisurely life that Australians enjoy. To say that you want to migrate to Aus for this lifestyle is stating the obvious.

September 16, 2005 12:45 AM  
Blogger Calamity Man said...

i dont know... for me singapore has its strengths but i'm a quiet guy who likes to be in a quiet place quietly doing his own thing.

perth seems like the place for me in that respect.

im just on this blog so i could have first 2nd hand experience of whats it like being over there in an emigrant's shoes.

some day i might just give it a shot myself.

September 16, 2005 1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


CONGRATS on finding a full time perm job!

Make sure you work hard at keeping it!!

September 16, 2005 2:27 AM  
Blogger Laughingcow said...

Adding my congrats to the list! :) Hopefully it'll be clear skies from hereon out. :)

September 16, 2005 3:45 AM  
Anonymous zeen said...

I'm a too am a statistic in SG emigration although maybe a temporary one. For me, Fall is just starting here in the States. I guess I'm luckier than Serf since I came here with a job although has gone through lay offs and on my 3rd job since coming here about 5 years ago.
Just wanted Serf to know that although from the other side of the World, what I'd saw and went through reflected pretty much what you had on your Blog.
Maybe more fortunate than you in that I have a job (actually, if I loose my job, out of the country and back to SG I go so more unfortunate in the sense that on a Work Permit, you must have work!)
At no time within my existance in SG that I would even have believe that I can do the following:
- Learn how to use powertools in the remodelling of your house.
- Learn how to build cupboards (from scratch , aka pieces of wood and not from IKEA which I even had someone assembled when I was back in SG)
- Learn how to lay a hardwood floor, dry lay a patio, dismentle a kitchen and putting it back together.

I believe that every single Singaporean who went beyond the shores of SG have tons to stories to tell, experiences to relate. I'm very encouraged by your Blog and wanted to tell you that as a fellow Singaporean, I'm proud of you! I'm rooting for you and I hope things turn out good for you!

September 16, 2005 4:16 AM  
Blogger Anthony said...


Still rooting for you here!

September 16, 2005 4:49 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin Tan said...

Congrats. You are probably moving away from the global minimum point of your emigration decision now!

September 16, 2005 10:32 AM  
Anonymous mrs budak said...


September 16, 2005 10:38 AM  
Anonymous erahnan said...

Upon reading your latest entry, I am now opening my special bottle of Lumbrusco Reserve to celebrate with a nice red wine!! Congratulations. This foot in the door will open more. Believe it!! Well done. Like many have said. Finding work under 3 months is amazing and is quite an achievement. You should be proud.

September 16, 2005 10:41 PM  
Blogger akikonomu said...

Congratulations! One step closer to Australian domination =D

September 17, 2005 9:18 AM  
Blogger Killjoy said...

Clap Clap.... Well done.

September 19, 2005 6:53 PM  
Anonymous tangawizi said...

Had a good look at your list of list of valuable skills and professions that would be highly portable:

* human and veterinary medicine
* pilot (small bush planes)
* small business book-keeping
* certified tax accountant
* speciality chef
* mechanic (diesel engines)
* freight driver (heavy vehicles)
* radio and satellite comms technicians

I've got to say, not a single one of them was a turn-on.

Howabt tapping into a skill that doesn't depend on you being employed by somebody and yet, it's just as portable if not more?

Oooompf....a masseuse, yoga guru, writer, politician?

September 21, 2005 9:48 PM  

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