Where the jobs are

I’ve recently learned that a number of friends have recently given serious thought to migrating. Most of their concerns, like mine when I was at that stage, revolves around the type of jobs available in their destinations. If this article featured in Money magazine’s website is to be believed, the following are the hottest job out there right now.

Australia World
1 Sales representatives Sales representatives
2 Engineers Engineers
3 Welders, boilermakers, plumbers and other skilled trades Production and operations technicians
4 Accountants Production operators
5 Production, engineering and maintenance technicians Carpenters, plumbers, welders and other skilled manual trades
6 Drivers IT programmers and developers
7 Mechanics Administrative assistants and personal assistants
8 Receptionists Drivers
9 Administrative and personal assistants Accountants
10 IT programmers and developers Managers and executives

It’s good to see that IT developers still made to the list both world-wide and in Australia (barely!) but I couldn’t help taking this list with a grain of salt. The slideshow for the hottest jobs worldwide was actually titled “Worldwide, the top 10 staff shortages”.

For example, the Australian list puts receptionists in the 8th spot of most wanted personnel. Yet, a friend who used to work as one recently resigned from her company because of stress. She said that she has become the “all-around girl” of the company who gets no respect and zero prospect of advancement within the company. She was paid a measly salary and got no gratification from the job so she left even after being offered a better salary and benefits package. Another friend tells of his company’s never-ending search for a receptionist that would stay longer than a couple of months.

It’s also best to remember that this is a very general list. There are several specialties within a field that not all IT developers would be highly in demand everywhere. For example, an ASP/VB/SQL developer would find that jobs for this skill set is starting to dwindle and would soon disappear altogether. It seems that if you’re a Microsoft developer, it’s all about .NET now, baby!

But then again, this list may still give comfort and reassurance to those who are interested in these fields or are already in them. Just remember that just because it’s listed as one of the hottest that you are entitled to be snapped up by hiring companies. It’d still take a bit of hard work, skills and a good helping of luck!

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Published in: on April 12, 2006 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mock Meat

Even though Raquel and I are still fine with eating poultry and seafood, we now avoid eating mammalian meat as much as possible. But once in a while, we would crave for red meat. Whenever we do, we have to resort to so-called mock meat.

Mock meat is a term used to describe meat that is not made out of real meat. It is typically based from wheat gluten, soy, grains, and mushrooms. It is “meat” that is supposed to have the same taste and texture of the meat it is trying to imitate.

For pork and beef, since we want to avoid eating it, we have no choice but to resort to mock meat when craving for them. For other types of meat such as poultry, we still enjoy eating the fake versions. The fake honey chicken dish still tastes like real honey chicken. The fake sweet and sour fish dish still tastes like real sweet and sour fish dish with the added bonus that the fake fish doesn’t have small bones you have to pick and it actually tasted a lot better than actual fish.

There are other reasons, too. With mock meat, no animal had to die or suffer. Mock meat should also be low in cholesterol, high in fibre and low fat. So even if you accidentally over-ate, though still bad, the health impact should be lower than if you over-ate the same amount of real meat. Click here for 10 reasons why meat alternatives could be better than real meat.

Last Sunday, we went out with a vegetarian friend of ours for lunch. We originally planned to have lunch at Enlightened Cuisine for some delicious sweet and sour fish or Chinese barbecue roast pork (chasao). However, while looking at their website Sunday morning, we discovered that they weren’t open that noon, only at dinner time on Sundays.

We had to find an alternative restaurant for our mock meat cravings. I went to the Vegetarian Network Victoria website to look at their Vegetarian Restaurants listing for Melbourne. After reading through the list for Chinese vegetarian restaurants opened for business for Sunday lunch-time, we decided to try this restaurant in Doncaster:

Natural & Healthy Vegetarian Restaurant
747 Doncaster Road, Doncaster VIC 3108
Ph: 03 9848 8092
Opening hours: Mon 5pm-10pm; Wed-Thu 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 12noon-3pm & 5pm-11pm; Sun 12noon-3pm & 5pm-10pm
BYO/Licensed: BYO
Features: Chinese and Malaysian cuisine; yum cha for lunch from Friday to Sunday; vegetarian ‘meats’ made from gluten/soy protein; mostly vegan foods except those dishes that contain honey or egg; all dishes free of onion, garlic, chives and leek; seats 40 people.

It was a bit far from Werribee but the food was pretty good. The only problem I have was that the menu was a bit limited specially compared to Enlightened Cuisine’s. I had the barbecue roast pork with rice while Raquel had beef and sweet corn with rice and our friend had roast duck with rice. The roast pork was close to real Chinese roast pork. I also underestimated how full I was so I ordered their pork bun (siopao). It was great! It tasted like siopao asado back in the Philippines without having to eat any pig fat. I’ll definitely eat there again if we are ever in Doncaster.

That Sunday, it got me thinking that maybe we could cook some mock meat at home, too. And because it is Holy Week, it is just as well since we shouldn’t be eating any meat at all except for seafood until Easter. So at the grocery later that day, I picked up Sanitarium’s Vegie Delight Classic Soy Rashers which, according to Irar’s bacon-loving friend, looks, feels and tastes like real bacon. Well, if her friend says so.

Today, I cooked the rashers for breakfast along with some scrambled eggs and toasted multi-grain bread for a continental breakfast. It was delicious, just like I remembered it from when I was a child. I avoided eating bacon growing up because I found the fat on the bacon disgusting. But now with these soy rashers, I eat “bacon” whenever I want.

Then during lunch, we decided to try the Lord of the Fries stall at the corner of Elizabeth Street and Flinders Street in the city. It is primarily a take-away shop that sells French Fries (also called simply as chips here) that comes with your choice of sauces. We’ve tried Lord of the Fries before but found their chips to be on the salty side. The only reason we went there again was because it was also listed in the Vegetarian Restaurants listing on the Vegetarian Network Victoria site.

Lord of the Fries
Shop 9A, 26 Elizabeth Street (Cnr Flinders Street), Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: 03 9654 5673 or 0423 067 175
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 11am-late
BYO/Licensed: No
Features: ‘Best fries you’ll ever try’. Hand cut French Fries topped with any variety of 10 internationally inspired sauces e.g. Belgian Mayonnaise, Mexican, Indian, Thai Satay. Mini and big fresh-made TVP burgers available in Original or Spicy flavours. Sunflower oil, sea salt and free-range eggs are used. Vegan topping options available and burgers are vegan if cheese is omitted. Gluten free and OGF (onion garlic free) diets catered for. Three meal deals available. Fast and friendly service. 3D viewer at front to keep you amused. Take away only.

I was surprised to discover on the listing that the “burgers” served at Lord of the Fries are actually made of mock meat! Raquel and I bought the spicy flavoured burgers. It was amazing. It tasted like burgers sold at Burger Machine in the Philippines. Okay, so Burger Machine burgers aren’t exactly the best tasting burgers around but since I haven’t been home for a long time now, I enjoy anything that reminded me of the Philippines. Anyway, the point was that it tasted like an actual burger and not some vegie patty pretending to be a burger.

The burgers were supposed to be made out of TVP. I should buy TVP (textured vegetable protein) mince one day and maybe Raquel can cook up some better tasting burgers with it. Supposedly, Sanitarium also sells TVP Vege-Mince but I have yet to see it at Coles or Safeway. Maybe we should try going to one of the Vegetarian shops in town. Maybe we’ll also find other mock meat products there.

Fake meat has come a long way. I remember my first encounter with it back in the early 90’s. My Mom bought something called “vegiemeat” in the shape of burger patties from a friend of hers. When cooked, it looked and tasted nothing like actual meat. But my latest encounters with mock meat has certainly changed my mind about eating it. I think it is a good alternative to actual meat even if you are not a vegetarian. I’ll definitely look for other places where I can get these products.

Published in: on April 11, 2006 at 12:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Bridal Shower”

We went to a friend’s “bridal shower” last Saturday. I wrote “bridal shower” in quotes because it is not your typical bridal shower. For one, guys were invited. And no, we guys weren’t invited there to do dances. Well, apart from the lack of raunchiness, the thing that made it more unlike any pre-wedding party I’ve attended was the “prayer meeting” vibe to it.

Maybe it was because more than half of the attendees as well as the host of the party were from our friend’s born-again Christian group. I’m okay with born-again Christians but I sometimes feel like they are a little too preachy for my taste. I prefer born-again Catholics aka Catholic Charismatics though as they seem less prudish.

Anyway, although the party was scheduled to begin at 10am (according to the invite), the party actually started at around 11am as everybody was in Filipino-time. Actually, even Raquel and I were late. We got there at 10:30am thinking that the bride might already be furious with us as we were assigned to bring the drinks for the party. Surprisingly, we were one of the first ones there. We didn’t know anybody who was already in the house and the bride wasn’t even there yet.

The party started with an ice-breaker where everybody essentially got introduced to everybody else at the party. It was followed by a game where the attendees were divided into two groups. Each group must set up a still scene depending on the theme revealed by the host. The themes were: first date, wedding proposal and child birth.

After much protestation, I reluctantly agreed to be the “director” of our team in the game. We lost the first round as I spent most of the allotted time whinging that I wouldn’t do a good job as director. I got more into it by the second and third rounds. We won the game 2-1 in our favour. It was good fun even if it was a little bit daggy.

Since the party started late, the other planned games were scrapped. Thank goodness for small favours. What came next was a few words from Tita (not her real name of course), a pastor’s wife. What was supposed to be a few words turned out to be a long sermon about the two greatest commandments: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matt 22:37)” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:39)”

Sure, I believe it is good to know and follow these two commandments, but I thought there would’ve been a few Bible passages more appropriate for someone about to be married. It was okay to listen to Tita talk about these commandments for the first few minutes but I must confess that my mind began to wander after she started to just repeat the passage over and over. Maybe she thought the message would be better heard if it was repeated ad nauseam.

About half-an-hour later, when Tita was done with her advice to the bride, the host asked that the wives take turn telling the would-be-bride what to expect of married life. They were asked to tell her what to welcome and what to say good-bye to. The first person to have a go at it wasn’t a wife actually, but a husband. From my impression, he seemed to be a guy who likes to joke and poke fun at himself. So he was probably chosen by the host to go first for comedic effect.

I couldn’t quote him accurately so I’ll just have to summarise what he said. A wife shouldn’t talk to her husband for the first 10 minutes after he comes home from work to give him time to cool down, rest and just watch TV. A wife shouldn’t admonish her husband because it will hurt his pride (ego might be a better word) because men are proud by nature.

I just thought, wow, his wife wasn’t allowed to talk to him when he comes home from work? His wife wasn’t allowed to admonish him if he did something wrong? I just thought it seemed like I was back in the 1950s. Well, at least he said something I can certainly agree on: don’t let the day end with an unsettled argument. That is good advice.

The other wives (sans Raquel) contributed to the discussion by basically saying that the wife has to say good-bye to freedom and welcome suffering. Well, they didn’t actually say welcome suffering but from what they were saying, it seemed like the wife should not only submit to her husband but be subservient to him. Make sure dinner is ready when he is home. Don’t get angry when he leaves his socks just anywhere and just meekly pick up after him. If I was the bride-to-be, I’d back out from this whole marriage thing right then and there.

Granted some freedoms would be curtailed as a married person shouldn’t only think about himself or herself but also of his or her partner and children, if any. But that doesn’t mean that one partner should be subjected to the complete will of the other. The wife shouldn’t lose her individuality just because she got married. Maybe I’m just reading too much into what they were saying but it does feel like they were saying that the wife would get the raw end of the deal and she should just accept it.

The other thing the wives advised was that the bride should stay close to God. They gave their guarantees that if she was, her married life would be blissful for the most part. And if she wasn’t, it would most likely fail. It was as if marriages of non-born-again Christians were all destined to fail while the marriages of born-again Christians would never ever falter.

Okay, so they didn’t actually say that but if you were there and you were a non-born-again, you’d probably interpret what they were saying in the same way.

It was a relief when they ended all that advice-giving and went into the lunch part of the party. I was a little disappointed that most of the dishes had cow’s or pig’s meat/innards in them even though we were told that there would be something for non-meat eaters. I guess they meant the leafy salad. In the end, I just ate the other dishes with the meat anyway as I didn’t want a salad for lunch. It wouldn’t have made me full. That and a measly salad isn’t of comparable worth to all the drinks we brought over. Hehehe.

We left after lunch at around 2pm when the party was all but over. The people we’ve met were nice folks and I think I could even be friends with most of them although I don’t subscribe to the same philosophy that they do. Anyway, we give our best wishes to the bride-to-be and her husband-to-be on their wedding and marriage.

Published in: on April 10, 2006 at 12:13 pm  Comments (6)  

Refocusing

Recently, I have come to the decision that I needed to be more focused in things I do.

The problem with being a person with varied interests is that I tend to divide my focus on the different things I wanted to do and learn. I have recently come to the realisation that I needed to give more focus on the things that are most important.

Well, now that I have, I feel so much better. I feel like I’m actually accomplishing things and I no longer feel so stressed. I’m starting to gain confidence in the things I’m focusing on again and it’s great.

I apologise for being a bit vague here but it is intentional. I couldn’t get into much detail for personal reasons.

Published in: on April 8, 2006 at 6:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Gibbering Fool

That’s what I felt like last Friday.

I already mentioned a few times that sometimes I end up stuttering when talking in English specially on days where my brain can’t seem to control the words coming out of my mouth. After last Friday, I was reminded that there are worse things that stuttering. That is, spouting complete gibberish unintentionally.

At the end of the day in the office, we usually bid each other a customary “see ya” when someone takes off for home. And on weekends, there’s also a “have a nice weekend” thrown in.

So, at around 5pm, my office mate got up, turned to leave the office and bid all of us still in the office farewell. I then responded with: “Okay, see ya. Have a nice weekend.”

That’s what I meant to say. But here is what I actually blurted out instead: “Okay, bluthadsa. Gubuslubhudahda.”

What the hell!? It was embarrassing. I was just thankful he was already walking towards the door and he probably didn’t hear the gibberish I just mumbled. I did say it in the tone you’d expect so he could’ve still guessed what I really meant.

With each day I feel like I should just keep my mouth shut to avoid embarrassing verbal situations such as that.

Published in: on April 4, 2006 at 12:00 pm  Comments (6)  

Good intentions

“Hell is paved with good intentions, not with bad ones. All men mean well.” – George Bernard Shaw

Today, Gj and I were talking about a common friend who seems to be meddling too much into the affairs of another common friend. This meddler friend is not a bad sort, she’s the kind of person who comes across as sincere and friendly but doesn’t seem to realise her boundaries. She’s well-intentioned but can’t seem to get a hint.

The incident reminded me of another scene from another place and time. My mom and I were having an argument many years ago regarding my maternal aunt’s meddling with our family affairs. This particular aunt has my mother’s ear and most of what she’s whispering to her were her(auntie’s) own unpleasant interpretations of several events that have happened in the past. Mom was trying to convert me to their way of thinking but I would have none of it. I don’t agree with their interpretation of things, particularly since their understanding of actions done and words said often puts the other person, let’s call him P, in a bad light. Even the smallest deed or the most carelessly spoken word was dissected and given horrible implications.

My mom later accused me of turning a blind eye to P’s misdeeds and got angry with me for not siding with her. In my frustration, I asked her why she always takes my aunt’s words as gospel and why she can’t form opinions different from what my aunt would want her to think? She said my aunt was just looking out for her and that my aunt’s intentions are good. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, of course my aunt’s intentions are good! I wasn’t really questioning the intention, I was questioning the logic of their thinking. I believe then as I do now that people’s intentions are always good, very few among us would conciously take the role of a villain with the full knowledge that what we are doing is evil.

All of us think that we are doing the right thing and that is what guides most of our actions. For better or for worse, our good intentions are what shapes what we say, do or think. The problem is, why is it that the people who don’t know when to mind their own business are always the ones who use their good intentions as an excuse?

Published in: on April 3, 2006 at 5:42 pm  Leave a Comment