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Unemployed in Niagara: Not Hungry, Just Broke

I'm trained, I'm ambitious, I'm low-maintenance, and unfortunately I am unemployed in Niagara. Discovered I could support myself and Alie on 14$ per hour for 32 hours a week - still unemployed. Looked for work, went for interviews, still unemployed. My University experience kept me out of the local call centre (fear of unions, looking for stable employees that wont leave). My lack of understanding about preparing meat kicked me out of fast food. No matter how cheerful, fat guys have a hard time getting hired at clothing retail, especially womens clothing.

I still haven't turned to Tim Hortons or Variety Stores due to the inappropriately low entry wages. Also haven't applied to a ton of locations that I am obviously not qualified to work at, including hair removal, hairstyling, child-care facilities, and a couple others.

I have worked doing things that are obviously not safe - including unlicensed electrical work and plumbing. This was all before I realized there were restrictions and that they exist to protect me, the owners of the property I was working on, and the livelihood of all the people that trained and excelled in a feild different than my own.

I do not physically have my degree yet, and that bothers me. What bothers me more is all of the people that I know that never went into post-secondary education looking for jobs to and what I would do this January without a degree.

If you are reading this and have a stable job offer in the Niagara region for a Political Scientist (Specializing in Public Admin, Political Theory, and Comparative Politics), with additional PROVEN skills related to green energy, open-source technologies and software, and a practicing minimalist - please send me an email and I will walk, ride, or slide in for duty in top condition. Simply contact career@kurtismccartney.com - checked daily.

Compression vs. Reduction: Less by necessity or by choice

It happened again, the thing I do when I am not assigned a specific task. I tinker when I am bored, and unfortunately since everything else is working just fine mechanically there was a new focus. So, looking at what isn't working in my life physically or mentally isn't new, it just happened with greater frequency and documentation this year.

I took a look my tiny slice and asked myself "What could I do without?" all over again. This time the analysis took less than two hours and the result placed added interest in reducing the size of my wardrobe.

As anyone that knew my high-school persona would likely remember my personal uniform of a white, collared, short sleeved cotton button up and a pair of simple black slacks. Sorting out much of the unnecessary t-shirt collection (this would be the third sweep of that, one more and I'd be left without any) I have finally started looking at the idea of a new uniform, nothing like Kim-Jong Il's gray outfit.

No money for that now, but the OFCP (Ontario Federation pour Cerebral Palsy) will be collecting a heavy bag next week as I continue marching toward the "three bags". One for clothes, one for bedding, and one for everything else. As I've joked, my 'disappear from society' set. Everything I own could be on a plane to Australia, or Korea, or Kyrgyzstan tomorrow and it would literally be everything except the bicycle and furniture. Haha, or it could all fit in the back of a hatchback to take me to Saskatchewan (which is -26 as a high today, eww).

Truth and a Positive Attitude

It is important to remember this time of year that Winter can be very depressing, and playing into all of the doom and gloom will only serve to bring down spirits. It is the time to come together with family and find the time to be happy. If you are happy, then spreading cheer will come easily. If you are not content, things have gone wrong for far too long, it could just be you.

I'm not going to lie about it, this is a tough time. I've seen many friends lose themselves. All of the people that died or killed themselves in high school. All of the people that joined the armed forces here in Canada and have had a chunk of their humanity stripped away by war. The unemployed masses, begging, bargaining, and betrayed. Misguided youth raised by the internet and the internet hate machine that are watching without learning. It is enough to drive yourself bonkers.

I have found my inspiration, it is everything that I have mentioned - except set a century ago. Without many of the modern advancements in quality of life, people persevere. With thousands of deaths in the Great War, people persevere. Without ANY access to knowledge libraries, people persevere. Though we may be entering an era of great failure I find myself thinking of these hardships, then the little piece of myself that the Internet created kicks in.

'Schadenfreude' is the best way to describe how I overcome the sadness. And I look at the Great war, because with free and shared knowledge it could have been avoided. I look at people looking to become 'an hero', turns out social darwinism has a filter too. I think about every instance of book burning and propaganda sharing, and appreciate what it has done to increase the value of the truth and human insight. It makes me laugh, and for a moment I forget about how bad it can be today by realizing that anything can be overcome with patience and the basics of living. It is a lot of laughing. LOL

With warm shelter and good food humans can do anything. Without those things they can persevere. This doesn't mean they will pay attention, or share, or listen - because when nobody listens and nobody cares all of the help you need may not come. All of the freedom you have can be taken away. When it is all over there will come another generation, ambivalent to your pain, unaware of your sacrifices and when you proclaim victory they will laugh at you. You will have a choice, then as you do now. Will you set aside your hardship, your past misery, handle the truth and join them?

The Road to Poverty: Packing Up, Rolling Out

I try to be a role model in as many ways as possible, however the reality of the economic crisis has hit my family. My mother, an employee of Henniges Automotive (General Tire, GenCorp, GDX Automotive) for the last 32 years, and my dad, an employee of John Deere for nearly 29 years have now both encountered layoffs in the form of plant closures.

Without these jobs and without any significant job opportunities available to myself it is clear that we will lose our home. The timeline of that failure is flexible albeit inevitable. Being so far away from retirement age and with significant debt related to the string of misfortunes in this decade and the last. Automobiles that died, major foundation problems on our 'fixer-upper' house, and the payments on an American timeshare that skyrocketed in the nineties. All of these debts complicate out ability to retain our assets and our home.

Having one head of household lose their job is bad, but losing another is absolutely devastating. I cannot follow the road of so many others that try to get away from their families, my family old and young need my assistance. This may come in the form of familial transfer payments or hard work and perseverance, either way this is going to suck.

I have started generating electricity, it is far from supplementing our entire household needs. Environmental education and off-grid living strategies offer some hope, but taxes and utilities cost money and are not optional.

Completion of my degree has been a focus and may or may not be complete by the end of this year. Although, as I cannot afford any more courses if it is not done now it will have to be abandoned indefinitely.

My loan repayment for the courses I have taken begins February, and if job opportunities near AND far dry up I may be left in an even greater fail scenario.

I'm not looking for a personal bailout, or welfare, or "assistance". I am looking for work. The kind of work that produces a commodity or food for anybody. Getting down to what people need - warm shelter and nutritious meals. Not fast food for people that get their heat shut off. We all need to start looking at what is important. I have the foresight to see what is ahead, and while knowing it is unavoidable I will harden myself to fight the good fight when I get there.

Remember this story when you and your family enjoy in their decadence this Christmas that the threat is real and even if it doesn't hurt you it may hurt someone that you know. Think positive, think local, build character and stamina.

EOL

Brock University Secret Society

This is something that I have waited a long time to share. Brock University has a secret society, based in part off of the old Water Buffalo society from the early nineties at Brock this organization known only as "Dreifelds Siloviki" consists of individuals interested in service in the national intelligence programs of countries on the European and American (North and South) continents.

To the unaware observer it would seem that this organization has a focus on alcohol and women, although those are kept as a front for meticulous information gathering. Three main philosophies are taught by members of the society during the initiation process.

  1. Never behave as expected: By appearing aloof or uninvolved a member of the Siloviki carries the ability to ease people into sharing protected information as well as coming across very nonchalant.
  2. Being unknown is the easiest way to remain unconquerable: Even for the extrovert it is easy to blend in. Adopt a stereotype for yourself, stick to your role, and know that can get you anywhere.
  3. Bring money: Better put, don't bring gold watches, or sports cars, or anything that would reveal your wealth. Bring money, as an opener (invitation to coffee, bar, etc.) or as an escape plan in the case you fail.

The initiation process may be as simple as finding like minded individuals and testing their ability to process specific situations. How they respond to threats (personal or organizational), insults, humiliation, victory, and love - all can provide useful information about how free an individual believes they are. There is no reason to escalate any situation as macroscopic conclusions can be formed from microscopic research.

Given this information, you may already know somebody at the university indirectly involved in the Dreifelds Siloviki. You may even e the only person in your group that was not approached with this opportunity.

I am not a member of the DS, in early 2008 I adopted a personal philosophy of monogamy and anti-alcoholism - which doesn't mesh so well with the organizational objectives to feed, fornicate, and be festive without limit. Ok, that may be taking their goal to an extreme but it seems to be the most accurate way to summarize what happens.

Keep this bit of history in mind the next time you hear somebody say that Brock is devoid of culture. There is more beneath the surface at Brock University.

I will not be taking inquiries about this post.

Event: Night Beneath the Kotatsu

Kotatsu from Minami-keWho: By Invite Only
When: New Years Eve, 2008-2009
Where: McCartney Residence, Welland

(More information upon RSVP)

On New Years Eve join myself and Beth Reading (President of Brock Anime 2007-2009) in celebrating the coming new year in a new way.

On this night a festivity of food will be met with warmth that only a Kotatsu can provide. Brock University Anime club is not arranging this event, as the Kotatsu and foods are provided to a select group. The Kotatsu is seen in Anime as a way to keep warm in cold weather, especially without adequate insulation. This Kotatsu, though ceremonial is also functional and spacious at 2 meters diameter.
Kotatsu Gamer
The food will be a selection of Japanese and Canadian morsels, which attendees are free to mix and match according to their preferences. Vegetarian, Pescitarian, and Vegan options will be present.

A CHALLENGER APPEARS!! - A guest performer will arrive later in the evening. Be sure to dress for the occasion and if needed bring your own chopsticks. See you there.

If you are involved and have not received an invitation but are interested in attending, please contact me via e-mail. anime @ KurtisMcCartney.com

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Upcoming Pacific Mall Trip - Dec. 15th

This may be pleasant news to Anime Club members, the annual Pacific Mall trip comes early. I have been working with Beth Reading, the President of Brock Anime, to get this trip going. We will leave Niagara at 10am and return after dark.

Pacific Mall is a wonderland of tech shops, snack shops, and toy stores. Almost all of which are unique and serve a unique service or product. Many of the stores specialize in Asian cultural commodities. Be there.

2008 - My Year of Minimalism

Minimalism Fail TrainOver the year a lot has changed, some of it has been documented as a success (Academic), and some of it has been seen as a failure (Time Management). Though after nearly a year worth of change toward a minimalist lifestyle I have shed much of the frustration and failure that existed in years prior.

The 100 Things Challenge Is nearly complete. I have donated clothing en masse to multiple different charity organizations throughout the year as I came to realize ssome truths. Truths - that 60 T-shirts were too many - an encyclopedia set is too heavy to keep while never using - appliances serve a purpose, but not all of them have to operate electrically - anything your government can do, you can too (and if you can't then they shouldn't).

Anti-Alcoholism, my most challenging fight of the year has been against the idea that one has to consume alcohol once they are of drinking age. In 2007 I was indulgent and didn't pass up an opportunity to celebrate, usually alcohol was involved. I have not drank in an exceptionally long time, and I do not plan to until the time comes. When? Whenever I say so. It's a choice, and anybody can make it - like smoking, eating meat, killing seals. Millions of people say no every day and I hope that millions more can consider the health risks associated with this substance.

My minimalism has also had a focus on my ecological footprint, it is about more than carbon. Eating less food, with greater flavour and nutrition has been very fulfilling. As well, my experiences with physically creating the meals has been changed for the better by allowing myself more time every day to enjoy the experience rather than rushing through.

I invested in the environment in 2008 by putting together a low-cost solar energy system using a simple battery and photovoltaic collector panel. It powers my personal computer (ASUS EEE) and lighting systems (LED-Based) at home. Making efficient use of electricity with solid state devices is the first step to my concept of modern freedom. Free from debts without "going Amish".

Mission Accomplished

Having finally finished the month long project on municipal financing, which I believe all of the nit-picking and effort has produced a meaningful last addition to my set of essays, I feel it is safe to believe that the marks needed from 3P11 to finish my degree have been attained. Though the real marks come out later this month, when I will presumably be organizing for the crazy career search, everyone seems to be congratulatory. It does seem eerie to finally be done, and all of the volunteer and leadership groups will be disappointed to see my hasty mid-year departure. Disappointed, not disabled, as I have made it a priority to document the experience both online and through official documents of at least a couple of the groups.

This shift will mean my final and complete departure from BUSU/BUSAC, Brock Senate, Computer Science Club, OPIRG-Brock, Brock Anime, JP Culture Club, Residence Council, Welland Students Alliance, and likely a couple from the beginning that I can hardly remember. Though many opportunities were lost along the way, including most notably my election to the BUSU presidency, my pledge to Sigma Chi (Which only exists in Windsor, not at Brock), The BUSH (Brock University Students' of History) Royal Ontario Museum 2007 trip, and all of the women that tried. Sometimes it is better that some things never happened, that way we don't forget about the truly important parts of life.

Warm Shelter, Good Food, and Love Abound for 2009 - otherwise I'm going to have to tell you a story about a cold, hungry person who tends to get... bleh. Bring money.

The Last Stop of the Fail Train

For those of you looking for the ORIGINAL Fail Train Comic, Click Here.

I am currently putting some of the final touches on my POLI3P11 paper - I never though that municipal financing was as boring as I do now. On the plus side I may have more time to put together info for the site and find some more work to cover my escalating seasonal costs.

This fail train of mine has been chugging along for nearly a year now, and the only thing that I can hope to do is get off and move on. The fail train has visited Anime North and brought back a boatload of information about that subculture, and there have been numerous other adventures into ethnic gatherings including Juhanus (a Finnish festival) and scientific gatherings like the 2008 Ubuntu Install parties or the Green Energy convention.

Who could forget the itty-bitty NOTLCON (Niagara Podcasting Meetup 2008) where I had a chance to hear a media philosophy of diversity from a room of people using MacBooks and iPhones. There was one cool old dude with Linux, but even that was on a Mac. (Not that there is anything wrong with Apple systems, but it was extremely homogeneous and felt strange to be the only fellow there with an EEE-PC esp. while running Ubuntu 8.04.)

My ongoing involvement with social and educational causes including OPIRG and a newly formed digital library project have been fulfilling, albeit I have spent very little time working on either since the temperature dropped.

Hope to get at least an e-mail from my friends not in the Niagara Region this holiday season. As I may not see many of you for a very long time once I enter the workforce.

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