35. GP Vancouver and Job Interview

Vancouver, Canada, 21.02.2017.

I have to apologize. Bad habits keep returning. I can’t believe the last blog entry is already nine days old. Anyway, now it’s time to recall what happened in these nine days and there is a lot to write about. Undoubtedly, there were two highlights in the last nine days: Firstly, I played at the Magic GP Vancouver. Not the main event but great Sealed Deck side events. And secondly, I had a job interview at the BC Liquor stores for a position as a Senior Store Manager yesterday.

The Magic GP Vancouver began on Friday 18th, ended on Sunday 20th and I guess that there were probably around 2000 visitors at peak times. As there were no good events on Friday, I decided to only go there on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a complete disaster for me although the pool I got in my Sealed Event was fairly okay. Nevertheless, I went 0-2 in both of the first matches and this meant that I could not win any great prizes anymore. So I dropped from the event, drove home and used the rest of the day to prepare for my upcoming job interview. Then, on Sunday, I went back to the GP in the morning and began playing in another Sealed Deck event (Pro Tour Qualifier). The pool was fairly bad and I expected to lose my matches again but the opposite happened. I won all of my first four matches and I was only one win away from making the Top8 and the subsequent draft. That would have been really huge, what a turn of events!!! Then, in my last match, I had bad draws, had to mulligan in both of my two games and lost them without any real chance. Sad, really. Total loser as Mr. Trump would say. πŸ™‚ So I expected to be placed 2nd in my pod but then there was an unpleasant surprise. Because they determine the placings based on some freaky tiebreaker rules, I was placed 3rd instead of second. Too bad, because in third place, I got less than half of the prizes than the guy who placed second. What a frustration, really. I somehow felt I got betrayed and cheated and my mood dropped considerably. After having left the event, I began thinking about the situation again. In the end, I made my peace with the situation fairly quickly because it had not been a deliberate decision by someone to treat me unfairly but it was just a result of a rather strange tiebreaker system. Next time, this system may be working in my favor, who knows? Also, had somebody told me at the start of the event that I would place third in the pod with the pile of cards I opened, I would have laughed hard. So I guess I should be grateful for what I achieved because it was unexpected and more than I could have hoped for. In any case, it is always hard to accept such results if you’re an ambitious player and you want to win. And in Magic, I like it when my decks perform and I win. πŸ™‚ Anyway. After the event, I got my play mat signed by all the artist and I bought a great Goblin- Token card from the artist “rk post”. Unfortunately, the Donald Trump token was already sold out. Bummer!

deck
My BG midrange- deck without any great synnergy whatsoever. The deck’s allstar: Herald of Anguish. Won me at least 4 games. Notice the lack of good 4drops while playing 2 druids of the Cowl.
goblin
Got to start playing Red Aggro again and use this token. πŸ™‚ Great humor in this card.

Well, that was the GP. Then, on Monday, I had my first job interview here in Canada at the headquarters of the BC Liquor stores in Vancouver. Before beeing interviewed by two Regional managers and one HR manager, I had 30 minutes to analyze a Profit & Loss statement. Good thing I have already done that more than once in my life. So I felt it wasn’t a big deal, really. Then, the following panel interview went fairly well and I talked a lot about my past job experience. Of course I didn’t get an immediate feedback and it may take up to three weeks until they tell me if they want me as a Senior Store Manager or not. Also, I will not have a choice of store but they will tell me in which store they need me based on my skillset and the manager’s skillset needed in the stores that currently don’t have a manager. In any case, I will probably stay in the Greater Vancouver Area somewhere as they are currently only looking for managers over here. But hey, why not? It’s pretty nice here, I won’t complain about staying…

Talk about staying. Today I received the results of the English- test I took 11 days ago. On a scale of 1-12 I scored like this: Reading 12, Listening 11, Speaking 10 and Writing 8. Yep, I am mostly happy but the Writing mark puzzles me a bit. I had lots of time left when I wrote my answers and I felt they were fairly okay. So I don’t really understand why I only scored an 8 here. Well, that should not be my downfall I guess. In any case, I will enter these results in the immigration’s office questionnaire later today and see if it’s sufficient to apply for permanent residency or not. I’ll write about that in my next blog entry I guess.

And what else happened in the last 9 days? Verena and I spent a great Thursday together. We visited the Maritime Museum, enjoyed the sunny weather at Kitsilano Beach and went climbing again. Climbing was really great, I felt how I was already getting better at it and we had a lot of fun there. Verena was doing even better than me and climbed increadibly well. After the training, my muscles did not hurt nearly as bad as they did when we went climbing for the first time. In case I get the job at the BC Liquor stores, I will definitely look for a good nearby climbing hall and start doing that sport regularly. I really like it and if you haven’t tried it yet, just do it once. It’s a great experience. Also, you meet interesting people. Like the guy in the men’s dressing room. He stood next to me and yawned really loud. I:”Hey, someone’s really tired, huh?” He:”Oh yeah, and stoned”. I: “Uhh, okay. And climbing works when you’re stoned?”. He:”Hell yeah, I can only recommend it.”. I:”Right, go for it man.”. That’s Vancouver for you, great stuff. πŸ™‚ Of course, Verena and I also went to the YukYuk Comedy club on Thursday evening to enjoy some more great stand- up comedy. Yep, I keep going there regularly, it’s great fun. πŸ™‚

marmu
Vancouver’s Maritime Museum.
totem
The huge totem pole near Vancouver’s Maritime Museum.
kitsilano-beach
Sunny Kitsilano Beach. Clouds and Vancouver Downtown in the background.

Apart from all the sight- seeing, I also kept running regularly and, of course, I also played at the board game night at the local store again. Not much to write about this but a few interesting pictures to look at. See below.

alien-invasion
Some Alien- looking thing with tentacles at Tsawwassen Beach. No idea what it is but the plastic tentacles were hollow and had some hooks attached. Looked strange.
bald-eagle
Bald Eagle at Centennial Beach. German: Weisskopfseeadler.
concordia
Great board game I played for the first time: Concordia. I (black meeples) beat Dave (red meeples) by 4 points, lucky me! πŸ™‚

Well, that’s all for now I guess. When writing the next blog entry, I hope I’ll be able to report that I got the job and that I also started my application for the permanent residency. But we’ll see about that. πŸ™‚

Since the last music advices were all Rock/Punk titles, it is now time to showcase a Rap song again. This one is from Sido, a pretty popular German Rapper who has moved from Gangsta- Rap to a more Mainstream- Rap during the last 15+ years. Still, even today’s songs are pretty nice if you like Rap music.

Sido – Massafaka

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34. A new plan

Vancouver, Canada, 12.02.2017.

Sunday afternoon/evening in Vancouver, Canada and today I am just relaxing and enjoying the great weather and the beautiful sea. There was the opportunity to go swimming with a friend of mine today but I didn’t feel like doing that. After a few days full of sports, it is always good to calm down a little once in a while and let the muscles relax a bit. So no sports today…. Probably again tomorrow, though…

Last week, quite of few very interesting things happened. On Sunday, I helped Verena to move her stuff from her old apartment in Burnaby to the new one in Vancouver. That was no big effort as Work&Travelers usually only have 2 suitcases of stuff and that’s it. So we were finished with that pretty quickly. Then, we decided to visit Granville Island, south of Vancouver Downtown. This island is famous for its galleries and artist and although it was Sunday, most of the galleries and shops were open. Which was great because we got to see some really nice art and get an impression of what the artists are doing on the island. In the afternoon, Verena had to go to work so I explored the island a little more on my own. They also have a quite huge Public Market there which hosts many different food shops. And some of them even have German names and offer German food. So I had to take a picture of that and share it with you, see below. Not sure that all of the food they offer there is truly German but it is hard to tell for me now since the picture I took is a bit blurred. Anyway, after a longer tour of the food court I decided to watch the first half of the Super Bowl in a pub before I drove to Richmond to play at a board game evening at Jen’s place. It was truly great to meet everyone there and play some really nice games I had not known before, including Carcassonne. Unfortunately, I forgot to make a picture of that game so I can’t share it here with you. Bummer. But I also met Teddy at Jen’s place and he is a cuddly and friendly cat that seemed to like me as well. Especially because I gave him some treats and Teddy likes treats! πŸ™‚ Thanks again for the invitation and the lovely evening, Jen!

granville
Entrance to Granville Island, south of Vancouver downtown.
gi-public-market
The Public Market on Granville Island, sprawling with food shops and visitors.
german-sausage
The “Kaisereck”- takeaway, with German flag and food. Feels like home? Well, not really…. πŸ™‚
gi-super-bowl
Enjoying the fist half of the Super Bowl 51 at the bar of a pub in Granville Island.

On Monday, I started scanning the BC- job market again and I also took my time to analyze how to increase my chances of getting a decent job quickly. In the end, I think I need to solve the following problem in order to be more successful with my applications: As I currently only have a working permit for one year, many HR managers are probably reluctant to consider me for an open position. Why is that? Well, most of the HR managers are probably looking for a long-term replacement for their job openings and not for a temporary one. At least this is what I would do if I was an HR manager. And this is also what I did when I was in charge of hiring customer assistants for my stores in Germany and England. You don’t want anyone who will only be available for a short time and who is then going to leave again quickly. The time investment for new employees is huge in the beginning and the benefit of that must be negative if the new employee leaves again quickly and you need to start hiring again. That does not make much sense. So I figured that I will probably only have a good shot at a decent job if I can convince people that I will be staying longer in Canada than the current projected year. Thus, I checked out Canada’s immigration website to find out if I am eligible to apply for permanent residency. Luckily it turned out that I am already eligible to apply for that if I pass an English test. Possibly my chances to get the permanent resideny would be better if I already had a job but this is probably a two-sided problem that cannot be solved: Without a decent job, it will be more difficult to get a permanent residency but without a permanent residency, it will be more difficult to get a decent job. Not much I can do about that other than to try to get either of the two as quickly as possible and then try to get the other one afterwards. Thus, I then decided to sign up for an English- test for immigrants on Friday and I was there on time to take it. The test went okay but I am almost certain I made more than just a few mistakes. Now I have taken a few English- tests before in my life but in this one the questions were quite difficult and some of the topics and vocabulary used were rather special. Like urban city-planning and details of an art festival. Oh well, I will see how I did in the test in about a week when they will send me the results. And If I failed, I can always take the test again, I don’t worry about that really. But if I pass, I will definitely apply for the permanent residency and see if the Canadian government wants me here permanently or not… In the meantime, I wrote some more applications last week and I got good feedback from my application as a senior store manager. Of course, senior store manager would be a step down from my former position as an area manager but I guess I am still willing to accept that to gain a foothold in the Canadian job market. We’ll see how this whole situation develops…

And what else happened during the week? I went to the board game evening in the local game store on Wednesday and I did some serious running training in the last days, despite the snow here in the lower Mainlands. Also, Whippcream and I got a visit from a rather unfriendly neighbor cat and the cute fuzzy white girl was pretty upset about that. I guess I’ll have to pay good attention in the future if I let her out on the deck. Last thing I need are two fighting cats and a necessary visit to the animal hospital. Then, on Friday Verena and I did some climbing and that was a lot of fun and really interesting. The only problem was that you need some well trained arms in order to do proper climbing. Now that is a problem in my case because the only muscles that are really well trained in my body are my leg muscles. Thus, after roughly an hour of bouldering and climbing, I could already feel the ache in my forearms and I started losing power in my hands. Verena was actually doing a lot better than me and she managed to finish one of the easier climbing routes successfully whereas I twice had to let go two steps below the “finish line”. Sometimes it just sucks to be as old as I am. Especially when your body needs a lot longer to recover from the muscular strain than it used to just a few years ago. Oh well. In any case, it was a lot of fun to go climbing and I can see myself doing that regularly in the future if my place of work/ future apartment will be somewhere near a climbing center. After the climbing, we went to the Brett Martin Show in the YukYuk’s comedy club and it was as great as always. If I don’t get to stay in Vancouver in the futurer, I will definitely miss this location. It offers really great entertainment on a regular basis and I just love it.

snowy-beach
Snowy beach and a flock of ducks straight ahead.
cats
No way these two cats will ever be friends. Good thing the glass door is pretty solid.
climbing-route
The “easy” yellow route we climbed. Every route has its own colors and if you want to climb properly, you are only allowed to use steps of one color = “stay in a route”.
yukyuk-bm
Brett Martin (on the very left od the picture) and his crew on 11/02/17 at YukYuk’s Vancouver.

Today’s music advise is a bit different from the previous ones. When listening to some rock music during my running sessions last week, I realized that two of my favorite bands, Saxon and MotΓΆrhead, each made a song called “Dogs of war”. So I thought it would be a great idea to make a double- header advice here:

MotΓΆrhead – Dogs of war

Saxon – Dogs of war

They’re both great songs but the one from Saxon is clearly my favorite. Sorry, Lemmy! πŸ˜‰

33. Ups and Downs

Vancouver, Canada, 04.02.2017.

Less than 2 weeks have passed since the last blog entry. Significantly less. ^^ Someone’s keeping a promise. πŸ™‚ And this blog entry will also be a lot shorter than the last one. Everything according to plan, at least with the writing.

So, what happened during the last days? First of all, my car got repaired. I decided to invest a bit more money into it to get it to an overall good standard. For example, I decided to get a “new” (used) steering wheel (costs a hefty 300$) because the current steering wheel is already beginning to disintegrate. Well, no wonder after 19 years. And since I also decided to get new spark plugs for the engine (the old ones were really worn out), I had to bear a little incident today. But I will write about that later. Also, I washed my car from the inside and from the outside. And I realized that an “undercarriage” wash in one of the big commercial washing facilities is just laughable. There was a lot of mud and dirt under my car when I bought it. So I thought it would be nice to have it cleaned. However, the undercarriage wash in the commercial washing facility I went to was so weak and poor that most of my car’s undercarriage wasn’t even wet after the wash. Now, I am noone who likes to complain a lot but this time I asked for the manager and I showed him. He was not very helpful and told me there was nothing he could do. Then, he advised me to get a pressure wash for the undercarriage but could not even tell me where I could get one. Yeah, well, I guess I experienced better customer service already. Definitely the last time that I went to that car wash. I then googled a bit and found a self- service car wash with high pressure washing pistols. And I got my undercarriage cleaned, finally… So aside from a few minor repairs that still need to be done next week, I am fine now and the car is in a good state. And I love having a 4WD in the current snow weather here in Vancouver. It is a blessing and it works so extremely well, unbelievable. Really happy that I bought a 4WD and now that I have seen how it performs in the snow, I am really confident that the car will also be alright in any offroad-action. Can’t wait to take it for a ride somewhere…. πŸ™‚

snow
Winter has returned to the Lower Mainlands.

So what else happened? On Wednesday, I went to the board game night in “my” store. We played a really nice game called “Terraforming Mars”. Not too complicated but it offers a lot of different options and various strategies. And I like having lots of choices when it comes to games. So it was a great experience and I enjoyed it a lot. I don’t know how many points are considered a “good” score in the game but I felt I was doing well. Aside from the board gaming, I also started reading again. I don’t know exactly when I read my last book but I think it must have been sometime in 2014. That was not intentional but rather a reaction to the shortage of available leisure time I had when I worked for my last employer. Anyway, now I bought a book at a local store and I already read it. Very nice story, very entertaining and overall an enthralling book. So after having read this book, which is the first book in a cycle, I went to the same store and just got the second one of the cycle. Can’t wait to see how the story continues. Anyone who likes to read crime thrillers and who has a connection to Scotland will probably love this book. Try it!

board-game
Terraforming Mars. This game is not yet on sale in Canada but will be soon. Current copies are U.S.- imports.
book
Great crime thriller. Setting in Scotland, outer hebrides.

Yesterday, Verena convinced me to go Ice Skating with her in the Hillcrest Rink arena. Now I don’t like Ice Skating. Why’s that? I tend to fall a lot, I am not good at it and there are a lot of things I like better. But hey, I am in Canada now. So I suppose I have to at least try to do those things that Canadians do. And in the end it was quite the nice experience. After initial difficulties, I got more and more confident and managed to even go a bit faster in the end. And I didn’t fall a single time so that was good. But I was pretty close to falling several times…. Must have helped that I did some Inline- skating in the (more distant) past. Although I think that it is a lot easier to brake with Inliners. In any case, I enjoyed it and maybe I will do that again some time. Just to get a bit of practice. Not that I will ever be able to play Ice Hockey in the end, I am still light years away from that. πŸ™‚

hillcrest
Hillcrest rink arena, south of downtown Vancouver.
eisschuhe
I had to lend some Ice Skating shoes but they were overall okay.

Today, I got up early to do the half Marathon I already talked about in my last blog entry. It was a quite expensive one as well since I had to pay nearly 90 Dollars for the entry. Well, the later you enter, the more it costs. Still, 90 Dollars is quite a lot. Anyway, I got in my car this morning, started it and drove roughly 2 kilometers. Then, the engine check light went on. Great stuff! No choice but to drive to the nearest car repair shop and let them have a look at it. As I suspected, the mechanic that had replaced the spark plugs on Friday made a mistake when he did that repair. So it’s not really the car’s fault that it “broke down”. In any case, I had to leave my car there and there was no chance I could still make it in time to the half Marathon using public transport means. Bummer! I would have loved to run in the current cold snow setting. Would have been a great experience I think. Interestingly, I already had a bad feeling when I drove the car yesterday after they had changed the spark plugs. It felt like the motor was slightly louder and there were more vibrations when it was idling. Sometimes I just hate it when I’m right. In the end, the car could at least be fixed today so that I can use it tomorrow. Well, there will be more half Marathons I can run this year so I guess it’s no big deal. Next time….

Tomorrow, I will help Verena to move her stuff from her current apartment to the new one she got in downtown. No big deal, I guess that will be done quickly. After that, I plan to go to Granville Island south of downtown or visit one of Vancouver’s museums. And in the evening, I’m invited at Jen’s Board Game night. Really looking forward to that. I will probably miss the “Super Bowl” but I don’t really care much about that. I don’t have much of a clue about American Foottball anyway and since it’s an American thing, I don’t feel obliged to watch…. Next week, I will focus a bit more on getting a proper job again. So after the car issue is resolved now, I should now put some more effort into writing applications.

Today’s music advice is from one of the most popular and best Punk bands, Green Day. I first listened to the song on the flight from Frankfurt to Vancouver and really liked it. The rest of their new album “Revolution Radio” is also pretty nice so that anyone who likes Punk Rock can buy that album without second thoughs. The chosen song also reflects the current situation on earth quite well (Trump, etc…), think about it!

Green Day – Troubled times