Sunday, August 27, 2006

Letting go

On Friday I endured a blow to my self-worth and self-sustenance: I lost my job at the Wild Oat. What it came down to was that I wasn't properly fulfilling the duties of my job, which involved stocking up the supplies for making sandwitches and crepes. Ever since I started there, I felt like I was holding onto that job by a very thin thread because I found it a challenge to remember to do everything and to do it quickly enough. This is the first time I have ever been let go from a job due to a failure to perform my job (I've gotten terminated due to overstaffing before). I was not disappointed, because -- as much as I like the product and the environment of the Wild Oat -- I wasn't really happy there. I appreciate that I got lots of delicious free food and drink and got to work with cool people, but there were some thing I found disagreeable

The pay was too low for the amount of work I had to do. I judge this from the other restaurants I have worked at. Once someone commented that everyone just accepts that they are making some sort of sacrifice to work at the Oat because they are driven by a higher purpose. That left a very bitter taste in my mouth. Working for a company that provides healthy and socially responsable (i.e. organic, fair trade) food/drink doesn't equate to creating positive change in the world. I was still working for the interests of profit, and for the comfort of those who hold economic priveledge. As much as providing healthy food made me feel a little better, that doesn't mean I shouldn't get a fair living wage.

Everyone pretends like it's "one big family" there, but the communication is pretty weak there. One day I showed up to work and Michal told me that I was being let go and that I should go home. I was totally shocked. As far as I knew, everything was going fine, and the little feedback I did get was good. But people were complaining about my performance for weeks, without so much as a word to me. I told him this, there was a phone call to the other co-owner, and then I was back on the job like this *finger snap*. Also, for the whole summer, there was not one meeting nor company get-together (aside from one organized completely by a co-worker). They pretend there like this is no authority, there is no boss, and that everyone just fills their role and things all work out. But there little democratic process to work out issues there so they just kind of lurk around in the collective concious there.

I've heard a lot of people complain about the management at the Wild Oat, particularly about Michal, and how's he's "crazy". Well, I didn't work with him much, but whenever I did, I felt appreciated by him. He's probably the reason why I didn't loose my job earlier. Ironically, a couple of days before I was let go, he said to me, "I'm so happy you're still working here !", and I smiled with hesitation, holding crossed fingers in the air.

It does hurt me to lose my job because it reinforces fears I have about supporting myself in this world, but really, I'm working to frame this situation in a positive light. Clearly this was not a job that maximized my strengths so now I have some motivation to find a better fit.

Well, that is in no way a complete account of my feelings about this situation, but it's a start. And speaking of start, I must start working now. I mean... I've got to pack up my stuff. I'm moving into a new home ! My new address is close to Preston @ Elm. Let me know if you're in the neighbourhood.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Balance :

Creative Commons DJ

One of my goals in activism is to get more people exposed to Creative Commons media, particularly music. It seems pretty obvious that one good way to accomplish this is to become a DJ. Frankly, I'd much rather convince a DJ friend (I have several of them) to play Creative Commons music. However, I think it would be easier to learn how to DJ than to convince any of them to become a Creative Commons DJ. That's not to underestimate the skill involved in DJing; it's rather to exemplify my difficulties them on to it. First of all, the cause just doesn't hit home with them; because the illegality of downloading, mixing, and then re-releasing those mixes on the internet rarely affects a DJ's ability to do their work, they just don't care. Most of the DJs I know either use turntables or CD-Jay decks; records and CDs of Creative Commons music is much harder to find than the digital media. Hence, it's probably more fit for a Creative Commons DJ to be an "e-jay" or a laptop DJ. To be in solidarity with the Free Software movement a Creative Commons DJ should use Free Software like Mixx to mix tracks. That's a learning overhead that even the existing e-jays may be unwilling to invest in. So, by no means am I saying I'm going to become a DJ. But I'm considering it. It's a great reason to expand my awareness of Creative Commons music and actually write some reviews of albums from that I have been listening to. More to come.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Mate my friend

I would like to take this opportunity to promote Yerba Mate as a stimulating alternative to coffee. Yerba Mate contains caffene like coffee, but it also contains a wealth of other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. that give it a completely different feeling. I like to describe the mate experience as "a hum rather than a buzz". Although too much mate does make my throat feel a bit sore and dry (as does coffee), I never get the stomach cramps that coffee gives me due to it's acidic composition. In Ottawa, Yerba Mate can be bought for $6 a kilo (dirt cheap !) at the Latin American Grocer on Sommerset @ Empress. You can also get a gourd (mate) and straw (bombillia) there, highly reccommended.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Die blog ? No, dying to get out blog !

I've had thoughts about killing my blog again... no, it's not that I'm unsatisfied with blogger. It's just that sometimes I wonder why I even have a blog. I'm pretty sure no one reads the funkin' thing (yeah, that's my new replacement for the bad ol' f-werd). You can tell by the lack of comments. Maybe that's untrue though; most people lurk and don't feed back on the web. Well, if you're reading, this, I funkin' dare you to comment (even if its just to say FUNK)! I shouldn't expect that people read this blog, because I don't really tell people about it. Maybe I'll put it in an e-mail headder.

Anyways, so I wonder: why did I just feel like killing my blog. And then I though, hey, that'd make revealing blog post, "why I wanted to kill my blog" . So here I go.

Lately I've been feeling pretty self-disapointed. I told myself at the end of spring "this is going to be a great summer", and when I look back, it hasn't really been. I didn't get the job with Google Summer of Code, and ended up in the food service business for another summer (albiet one with healthy food for once, The Wild Oat). Also, I haven't been putting consistent efforts on my graphics software project. Plans with friends to set up a stage/area at Evolve festival fell through. No romance for Justin this summer (although I'm nearly numb to these types of disappointments). Various non-coordinated volunteering relationships weakenened (particularly my blogging efforts on Free Culutre Carleton and Creative Commons Canada). Didn't keep up the G-Spot Slice, the radio segment I initiated. That's another story alltogether. Didn't make it out of Ottawa for anything (I was particularly intending to go to Montreal this summer). Even my staff spinning practice has declined over the last month; I was practicing at least a short while every day earlier in the summer. Sure I attended some cool things like the National Community Radio Conference and Om Reunion, but my memories of those exeperiences are tainted with guilt. I didn't do a very good job of following up all the contacts I made at the NCRC, and I went to Om less prepared than I was comfortable with. So, things just funkin' sucked in certain ways.

I guess this is related to me being out of touch. Communication is so difficult for me in ways. Right now I'm not in regular communication with many people. The people that live in the same house as me, certainly not. See, I'm in a rooming house (an "alcoholic with class" told me this morning it used to be a half-way house; I feel like it still is considering ALL of it residents). I don't really hang out with any of the roomers regularly, but I favor one of them and we speak occasionally. There's no common space in here except for the kitchen, which doesn't even have room for a table we can all sit at.

It's like, unless I live with them, the reason why I see a person regularly is mostly incidental on some sort of other activity, liking going to a school/academy or doing some sort of work, paid or volunteer. I've met lots of great people like this, but I find our relationships are always flavored by that activity, or even limited to it. There are some friends that I've met through going out dancing that live maybe a 10 minute walk from here that I've been visiting regularly, but frankly it's disappointing for me to recognize that there's a lot of wonderful people that I know and love, I know how to contact/visit them, and I don't.

Sometimes I feel like I'm just not cut out for the city. When I did some WWOOFing in Nova Scotia, I got to live with a bunch of other folk who all had some common interest and we were meeting our needs together. I got to see and talk with all of those people every day. We didn't ever e-mail each other. We didn't ever call each other. We were just there sharing our presences. Yet alas, I'll be in Ottawa till I finish my degree says me, so I best forget about living on a farm intentionally, though eventually...

That brings me to a bit more positive note: I can still live intentionally in the city, and I will. I'm moving out of this place in September with 3 other ... what I would call "socially conscious computer geeks". I'm really looking forward to this. But at the same time I'm a bit frightened. I mostly fear that either I will drive my room mates crazy or that they will drive me (more) crazy. But I feel living with them will be psychologically healing. I don't want to get my hopes up considering all of my disappointments. It would make a good subject of meditation to just to imagine how I would have a healthy home relationship with these people, to visualize my actions that would facilitate that instead of just being like "WEE, it's going to be so fun !".

Well, to come full circle, I would like for people to get to know me through my blog (as scary as that is sometimes...for us both ). I'm going to write a sketch of my new headder as an act of intention toward communication

by Justin Wikinator
touchmewithsynchronicpulses @

Wikify my life, add to it,
Edit the story that is it
Link to me, and link me to you
So we can get to know our paths through and ...
Through expressions in an open way,
We open up the ground for the word play
We can dialog,
Or you can check my blog
If I forget about you give my memory a jog
Welcome are you to send pulses synchronic
Of your presence they will be mnemonic

Well, I didn't mean for this to be such a whoping blog post (even that headder turned into a poem). I have difficulty opening up, but I find myself with a lot to say, so when I do open open up I tend to explode. BOOM !