Happy New Year

December 31st, 2009

So I accept that I’ve not posted a lot this year, I have no real excuse short of lack of energy.

In reality it’s been a great year, I’ve changed my life in ways that I could never have expected. I live on the other side of the world, I have a job that I love that is also a genuine career move. I’ve reconnected with a ton of people that I’d lost contact with and made-up with a few people that I’d fallen out with. In general I’ve been having a fantastic time.

2009 has been, all things considered, a pretty good year for me.

But not for everyone, so I don’t want to go on about my life too much. There are swings, and there are roundabouts. For those of you whose 2009 hasn’t been that great I can only wish that the worst is over, and 2010 brings better fortune.

Thank you for reading my continued ramblings, sorry for the complete lack of content last year but I will make it my 2010 resolution to make, on average, one post per week for the whole of 2010, and I mean proper posts — no filler, or link dumps. The first step is the new banner, the old EU2008 banners are still pinned to their associated posts in the archives … and, yes, I will get round to doing the missing country posts at some point.

52 original posts, how hard can it be?

Yeah, let’s see how that goes.

But finally:

Happy New Year everyone, I hope that 2010 gives you everything you need, and ideally everything you want.

See you all in the next decade!

Merry Christmas

December 24th, 2009

Well, is anyone still here?

I have to admit it’s been a while since I posted anything useful … perhaps 2010 will see a better posting record, who knows …

However, I’d like to wish all of you still reading a Merry Christmas and ask that you check back in the New Year to see if I have something interesting to share then.

Have a great holiday, look for more posts in a few days.

View from the middle …

September 6th, 2009

Blimey, you’d think that I’d have something interesting to write about from the last six weeks.

But sadly not. The majority of my life has been consumed by work, and I don’t really want to bore you with the sundry details of pissed of customers, mountains of red tape, and piles of random management gubbins. Despite being officially a lead engineer I’m now resigned that I’ve done my last piece of actual engineer, my day to day work is all managing people, planning projects, buying equipment, and working on various initiatives. You can imagine how none of that would make a very interesting post.

I tend to spend my weekends trying to catch up on sleep, doing the odd bit of work and also the odd bit of drinking. It’s still raining most days here so I haven’t even been motivated to try and go do anything touristy. The rain should ease off in a few weeks and then perhaps I can go and take some decent pictures.

Until then here’s the view from my current flat especially for MasterMuir, although I’m moving out in a month or so to a different flat that mostly has a view of the roofs of the nearby buildings.

View from my window

It does nicely illustrate something I’ve been trying to explain about Manila, it’s mostly just sprawling one/two story buildings of various types but with big pockets of skyscrapers dotted around. The ones you can see from my window is Ortigas Centre [map].

Anyway that’s it, I’d promise to write more soon but for all I knows it’ll be another six weeks before I manage to cobble together another meaningless post. For now I’m just going to settle back and watch the X-Factor which I’ve just downloaded (yes, I am that sad).

Ill(er) in Manila

July 26th, 2009

Well I should be careful what I complain about.

Shortly after writing my last post, complaining about how expensive it was, I came down with a stomach bug (not sure what it was, maybe food poisioning, maybe just something going round). A weekend of feeling terrible followed by a week of antiboitics and limited appetite really cuts down on the spending. Although I did find the local doctor, who was very helpful. I think I’ve now been to the doctor more times in two months here then I managed in five years in Edinburgh.

Still, I feel much better, Now I’m just knackered from work, 7am meetings four days a week (with a customer in the US) really don’t suit me. Plus all the various things I have to do mean I don’t even get to leave early. Hopefully this is a temporary situation that can be resolved once we’ve appeased our (understandably) cranky customer.

I did what I always do when I think I’m working too much — book a holiday! Actualy that’s what I do when I’m bored and working too little. I’ve never really needed an excuse to book a holiday.

So now I’ve got an five day trip to Tokyo to look forward to in November. It’s a few months away but I’ve got a couple of jaunts back to Europe before then, and a seamingly endless procession of visitors to the office will cause enough distruption to keep me busy until then even if we can cut down the early-morning calls.

Illness, tiredness and rain have all prevented me from doing anything interesting in Manila. I’m begining to think I’ll just never get round to it — like living in Edinburgh and never visiting the tourist parts.

Almost a millionaire …

July 14th, 2009

It occurred to me today that, due to some rearrangement of my finances, I almost had enough money to make me a millionaire in Pesos. Sadly the money was still in pounds and at least half of it disappeared to clear other debts almost as soon as it arrived.

This occurred to me while I was doing some budgeting, and I was budgeting because I finally have a contract. Not only do I have a contract I’m also now, apparently, on the Manila payroll. I think I now officially work here.

Sadly this means that I’m no longer on expenses, the company still pays for my accommodation, utility bills and so on. But now food, transport and day-to-day stuff comes out my pocket. Booze always came out of my pocket (mostly) so no change there.

The bill for the first ten days of the month leads me to discover that Manila isn’t as cheap as I thought, even discounting my weekend poker and pub crawling, it still mounts up. Maybe I’m just shopping in the wrong places, or maybe it’s just living in the capital.

It doesn’t matter anyway, I have to stop thinking in pounds, I have a monthly budget in pesos which is more than enough. Still whichever way I look at it, Manila’s a cheap place to live. Not expensive, just not as cheap as I thought it would be. Maybe I should just start winning at poker.

I guess I should add a bit about how I’m doing. Work is mad, Manila is fun, and I’ve finally moved into a nice new apartment which has internet. Not very good internet, lousy for Skype, but it’s still internet.

I know that’s not a great update but now I’m more sorted I’ll try and do some more posting about life over here. I must remember to take my camera out with me and get some pictures.

Excuses, excuses …

June 1st, 2009

Blimey, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I have the flimsiest of excuses.

For the first half of my long absence I was running around madly in Edinburgh trying to sort out the details of my impending relocation to Manila.

And Manila is where I’ve been for the second half of my absence. Everything’s going about as well as can be expected and I’m enjoying myself but I’m still settling in. Manila is one of those places where everything just takes slightly longer than you expect, so I still don’t have everything properly sorted out. Like internet access in my apartment.

Of course that’s no excuse, no ‘net access in my apartment doesn’t stop wandering to the nearest Starbucks (sadly as common here as anywhere else on earth), or just using the connection at work (until the reactive firewall decides to block the site).

My excuse could be that I’ve been too busy over here. It’s almost true, I’ve been thrown into the deep end of my new job and I find myself thrashing around trying to work out exactly what’s what while trying not to screw anything up too badly. Planning projects, inducting new employees, interviewing potential employees and – urk – talking to customers has actually kept me fairly busy.

But not so busy that I’ve stopped wasting a fair amount of time reading whatever junk websites the corporate IT department deems fit for my time (Facebook is blocked but Twitter is fine, I’m confused.)

And if I’d really been spending time settling in I’d have unpacked more than half the suitcases and boxes I’d brought over.

I had meant to head out to do something interesting this weekend so that I’d have something to write about today. I’d dug out the camera, charged the batteries, packed the guidebook and planned a bit of tourist trail.

And then it rained.

And I thought I’ll give it an hour and it’ll pass.

And then it rained harder.

And than, to hammer home the point, it rained even harder.

So I decided to skip the wandering around in the wet, and hung around watching the Discovery Channel. That would have been an excellent point to dart across to Starbucks and do write this post, but I didn’t.

I have no excuse.

The rainy season lasts for months, but hopefully I’ll be fully connected in a new apartment within weeks. Perhaps then I’ll find the correct combination of interesting content, motivation and free time to return to regular communication.

Or I’ll find a better excuse.

Madness

April 6th, 2009

And so I find myself back in Edinburgh, for six weeks or so.

My calendar is already full to bursting, with every weekend spoken for.

I’m trying to do two jobs, and attempting to schedule workmen and various deliveries around my early morning calls back to the Manila office.

Add to that the various visitors and house guests I’ll have over April and the whole thing just turns into madness.

No wonder my body has given up and decided to give in to some nasty cold bug. Also no wonder that updates to this site have been non-existent.

Still, it’s all under control, planned and organised chaos, just the way I like it. Despite work doing their best to throw a spanner in the works by sending me to China for Easter weekend (I said no).

That’s about that, I’ve no idea when I’ll find time to write any more but I’ll leave you with this final bit of housekeeping.

This website has no wish to indulge in an extended ham-slapping with any other websites so I choose not respond to his thrown gauntlet with a surcial strike.

I will respond with a blanket bombing of barbarous baconisty: The Baconcyclopedia.

Hock and Claw!

Eastwood City

March 18th, 2009

I guess I’m still pretty bad at keeping this site updated.

Quick update first, I’ve still got lots of work to do — essentially trying to juggle doing my old job while learning to do my new one. It’s a little bit mental. I did get away at the weekend, but only for work. I was at a job fair in Cebu, interviewing (and recruiting as it turns out) various candidates. Hopefully I’ll have time to do a post about that, the fair itself was fun but the biggest revelation is what this country is like outside Manila. It’s the first time I’ve noticed that I must be only an hour or so away from what is basically a tropical paradise. Anyroads, more on that in another post — there’s some new photos up on my flickr site.

Today I wanted to briefly talk about where I live: Eastwood City. Sadly there’s not that much detail on the website, so have this badly photographed city map:

Eastwood City Plan

Click through and pull up the large size, you should be able to read the text to see what surrounds me.

It’s a weird little place, probably no more than a few km square but crammed with offices, apartments, shops and restaurants. Outside the area everything is notably more crumbling and dingy (and smelly), but inside it’s all polished and there are private police keeping things (mostly traffic) in check. I even saw a couple of shotgun carrying guards outside McDonalds a few days ago.

I quite like living here, my apartment (in Olympic Heights on the map) is a few minutes from the office (1800 building) and no more than five minutes from anywhere in Eastwood. Everything you need is here, food, cinemas, bowling, gyms, banks, shops, laundry, even a barbers shop. There’s three separate 24hr corner shops, they don’t carry that much stuff but there is a huge supermarket another five minutes walk down the main road.

The downside is tons of junk food, McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, they’re all here and most are open 24 hours. Plus plenty of local variants and various restaurants and take-aways. None of it seems that healthy. Still, I’ll just have to slowly work my way round the various places and see what’s good (feel free to pick one at random and suggest I try it).

There’s even a second McDs opening in the Eastwood Mall — just in case five minutes was too long a walk to get your Big Mac.

Hmm, this post is almost as dull as a what-I-had-for-breakfast post (Honey Crunch Corn Flakes), but hopefully the map gives some impression of what the place is like. I’ll try and get some more photos of Eastwood and stick them on Flickr.

I’ve still not ventured far outside Eastwood on foot, I’m not sure there’s that much in walking distance but I do plan go for a bit of an extended walkabout to see the lie of the land.

More posts soon, hopefully.

Best Laid Plans …

March 2nd, 2009

I imagined that, living in Manila with few distractions, I’d have plenty of free time to catch up with various tasks, post multiple interesting updates and generally explore the area.

But I find myself sitting on the couch, with a beer, again. There’s no crushing boredom to inspire me to action, I have to be sensible in order to get into work at a sensible time and I’ve hurt my foot which is curtailing too much mooching around the area.

It’s completely different to my normal travelling where I feel compelled to do stuff whenever I can, since I know I’ll have plenty of time to do all that there’s no real urgency.

I don’t mind this at all, it’s quite nice, I know I’ll get round to things sooner or later and it gives me time to relax.

Which I need since each week seems to end with my employers deciding that I’ll be responsible for an extra aspect of work on the site, swelling my workload in an alarming manner from what I originally applied for only a few months ago. Interestingly they tend to drop this bombshell when we’re in the pub after work.

Sorry this is a bit of a dull update, I will have to make a special effort to go find some stuff to take photos of and write about, otherwise people will begin to suspect that I’m not really in Manila at all.

I have no oven …

February 23rd, 2009

… but fortunately it’s way too hot to bake.

If it wasn’t, I’d bake this cake.