Archive for the ‘work’ Category


The Big “Why?”

September 14, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

stone house ruins in the foreground, hills in the background open lawn area and large deciduous trees
three story building with ice palace restaurant building with scooters parked in front and laundry hanging from the awnings

Both in the United Arab Emirates before our move and in Shanghai after our move, we have been asked “Why?” Why would we want to leave the wondrous UAE? What brought us to China? The answers given depended on how well we knew the person inquiring, but mostly boiled down to “new job, better job.”

The laws regarding libel in the UAE are such that one can be charged with libel for publishing anything negative, even if it is true. Therefore, I cannot do a side by side comparison to show why we chose to move on and out. I can, however, tell you about my new job and new home city.

  • My salary is higher.
  • Housing is provided by the employer and we were driven directly to our apartment without any time in a hotel upon arrival. The internet was already connected and the air conditioning actually works.
  • Not once have I been warned that I could be fired at the drop of a hat for a minor infraction.
  • My coworkers are happy and cooperative and collaborative.
  • My library has a budget. A healthy budget.
  • I have two assistants to help with the workload.
  • Human Resources has been nothing but helpful and truthful.
  • Visa paperwork processes are being handled in a timely manner.
  • HR arranged for the bank and immigration to send representatives to campus for the convenience of new staff.
  • When I put in a request with I.T. services, they respond and get it done.
  • The cafeteria food is not like any cafeteria food I have experienced before. There are at least 6 different choices each day and a salad bar.
  • The curriculum includes multiple languages, music, art, theatre, sports, and character development.
  • The students are motivated to learn and to read.
  • Shanghai weather is lovely and frequently rainy. It varies from day to day. It actually cools off over night.
  • Shanghai people are polite and friendly. They wait their turn in line. Even crowds in touristy areas are polite. (While in Germany, I got so tired of being bumped into. No one made any effort to avoid collision or said “excuse me.” While walking down a crowded Nanjing Road, not once was I bumped into.)
  • Shanghai driving is crazy, but not aggressive, mean, or vindictive.
  • Our utility bills are WAY lower. There aren’t a bunch of hidden fines and fees related to housing.
  • Public transport is cheap and plentiful. (We traveled 20 stops on the Metro and it cost 5 yuan – $0.81 / 3 AED.)
  • We are serenaded morning and evening with music from the park next door. This morning it is lovely traditional Chinese flute music.
  • The cats, Oliver and Bert, seem to be happier here than ever before. They are frisky every day, multiple times a day. Oliver is living without his calming collar. We can’t explain it. We just appreciate it.

Are there negatives, of course.

  • The air quality is poor and sometimes enough to warrant wearing a face mask. (Although that has not yet happened since we arrived here.)
  • The tap water is not safe for drinking regularly, due to the likelihood containing heavy metals pollution.
  • Moving was an expensive and extremely stressful experience. My head might have exploded if it were not for the help of dear friends.
  • We had to leave our many dear friends behind, but they are welcome to come visit us here!

I predict that the thing that will get on my nerves will be the traffic. It is very difficult to safely cross the street even when there are traffic signals and a clearly marked crossing. The pedestrian simply does not have the right of way and you have to be totally aware of what is going on around you. You need eyes in the back of your head.


Rant about Contractions

February 3, 2012

Posted by Kanga.

beach, green bush, and the Arabian gulf

This picture was taken in Ras Al Khaimah. It isn’t related to what follows, but I liked it and just thought I’d post it for your viewing pleasure.

I work with students who are learning the English language as a second language. 100% of the students, not just a small percentage. I have no training in teaching English as a first or second language. As a librarian, teaching the language is not my task, but in attempting to get the students to read English materials, I cannot escape some of the challenges of learning the language.

I’ve always known that English is a difficult language full of exceptions to the rules. I before E, except after C, and a lot of other exceptions like weird, forfeit, vein, etc.

This week it was contractions – can not into can’t, are not into aren’t, etc. Being someone who probably thinks too much, I began to ponder why do we do this in this manner and who decided that the laziness of speech should be noted in written form. Why not just write “cant” and “wont” and “arent” and “wouldnt”, etc. I suppose because some of these would be confused with other words, like cant and wont, although context ought to indicate which meaning is appropriate. And, why not spell woodnt and shoodnt? Why bother with “ould” which is not very phonetic.

It is no wonder that Globish is becoming so prevalent. Arabic, for example, lacks definite and indefinite articles. It seems perfectly natural to say “Miss, I want pen” instead of “Miss, I need a pen.” Actually, it is often just “Miss, pen” or “pen.” There is also “Miss, I want paper.” Which really means “I need a piece of paper” not “I need a ream of paper.”

[Correction – there is a definite article in Arabic – Al. I should know better than to write about things I don’t really know about.]



New Job Off to Interesting Start

July 10, 2011

Posted by Kanga.

Here’s a taste of what my desk looked like when I arrived at my new job.

pile of papers

I spent the first few hours filling the recycling bin.

Contrast to how my old desk looked. I filled that recycle bin, too.

an empty desk

There are some signs that will have to go, too. No Saturday hours, thank you.

library hours Saturday to Wednesday 7:30 am to 4:00 pm

This poor library has been neglected for a long time and there is a huge amount of work to be done, but that is what I like about the job. Every book in the place will have to be cataloged and put in it’s rightful place. There are eight boxes of new books to unpack and more of the same coming later this week. Right up my alley!

Several teachers dropped by to welcome me and express their excitement at the idea that the library would be fully functional in the fall. Eager to make use of the books.


My Blue Heaven

June 21, 2011

Posted by Kanga.

high school library

Here it is, my new job. We were in town to apartment hunt and stopped by to see my future library for the second time. I took the time to scan the shelves. There is a lot of empty space and a lot of work to be done. I can hardly wait to get started.

view of green lawn and mountains in background

This is the view from the library windows. A definite job perk.

covered parking labeled "librarian"

And, the best job perk, a labeled, covered parking space.


Miss Karla has Left the Building

June 16, 2011

Posted by Kanga.

an empty desk

Yes, last day at former job completed. My desk has never been so clean. I’m a little sad to leave the people behind, but am very excited about the challenges and opportunities coming in the new job.

Now, packing in preparation for moving gets stepped up a notch.


Bugging Out

April 22, 2011

Posted by Kanga.
tabby cat sitting in cardboard box

It is about as official as it can get, so it is time to announce our future move from Dubai to Fujairah. (see map) My contract with my current employer is drawing to a close and my last day of work will be June 16th. We will then scramble to move by June 30th. I will start my new job on July 10th.

Why the move? Well, the current job isn’t the right place for me. I’ve made a point of not discussing it here, but it has been a roller coaster of ups and downs and frustrations. I don’t want to be a marketing rep, a facilities manager, an IT technician, a photocopy machine attendant, or even a teacher. I want to be a librarian. Therefore, this is not the job for me.

My new job will be at the secondary school level with about 1/5 as many students and this time they will be all male. I will be the ONLY librarian, the queen of my little domain. My first royal decree may be to move the photocopier (the bane of my existence) out of sight. I advocate for the long overdue paperless society!

We have not found a new residence, yet. We will begin our housing search this weekend.

We will be taking Bert & Oliver with us. It is approximately a 2 hour drive from Dubai to Fujairah, so they should survive fairly unscathed.

We will still come back to Dubai every once in a while to combine visiting friends, visiting favorite restaurants, and shopping for those hard to find items.

I suspect that the next two months will be packed with errands, box packing, wrapping up details, and moving related stress, but there are some things we would like to do before retreating from Dubai.

Our Dubai bucket list:

  • Go to Ibn Battuta Mall to actually learn about Ibn Battuta
  • Visit the Sheikh Saeed House
  • Go to the Burj Khalifa observation deck on a clear day

Suggestions to add to the bucket list are welcome.


Way Beyond Web

October 8, 2010

Posted by Kanga.

I wrote previously – Predictions of Future Past – about Internet predictions and what actually developed. I’m going to prattle on about this some more from a slightly different tack.

I’m amazed by the paradoxical ease and complexity of accessing information these days. We can google most anything, although the answers we find might raise more questions than certainties. (Notice how Google has become a verb?) The recent 50th anniversary of The Flintstones resulted in a discussion (via Facebook) about exactly when was Pebbles born. Googling led to conflicting answers and questions of which source could be believed. (If my students had any idea what The Flintstones was, I would use this as an example for how to evaluate sources. Unfortunately, it is not culturally relevant.) Anyway, I’m going with Feb 22, 1963.

I’ve talked about Twitter before and how important it has been for us in making friendships with a wide variety of people. For example, this week we had a dinner with 13 people (including us) in which 6 of those people were expats (foreigners like us) and 7 were locals (citizens). You will have to take my word on just how extraordinary that is. However, Twitter is also a major source of information about what is going on locally and in the world. Tweeps (people who twitter) read an interesting article on a news website or a blog and tweet a link to the article. I, being lazy or harried, rely on this referral system and use these links to go to articles that pique my interest. Yes, I could use RSS feeds to collect articles in an automated way, but I kinda like the added social aspect that the person who shared the link also read the article (I know there’s a bit of assumption there) and if I have a strong reaction or opinion about the content, I can “talk” with them about it.

Now, back in the “real” world, students are flocking into the library during their breaks to grab newspapers (in physical format), find an article and scan a copy of it on a daily basis. I have concluded that there is at least one professor who is convinced that the students must “learn to read newspapers” and is requiring the students to produce an article each day. There are teachers who are scandalized that these students have never touched a physical newspaper. But, let’s face it, newspapers are dead, they just don’t know it, yet. Most newspapers have websites where they post all their articles and possibly additional content. These websites have become quite sophisticated, well organized, searchable, and incorporate social media functions so that you can comment on what you read. The tradition of the leisurely breakfast with the morning newspaper is a luxury only the retired have. These students are not sitting down with the paper, reading it through, and coming away fully informed about what is happening locally and globally. Let go of format! Paper is dead, long live the web (until the next thing comes along). Content is where it is at. It doesn’t matter if it is carved in stone, painted on papyrus or sheep skin, inked on wood pulp, or displayed on screen.

Ironically, there are some “services” that are designed to take your Twitter feed and turn it into your very own personalized “newspaper.” At least one application for iPad combines your Facebook and Twitter to make a personalized “magazine” for you. Just how many interfaces do we need to filter our information through?

I don’t think that the word “web” describes the Internet accurately anymore. Maybe “fractal” would be more appropriate.