Melbourne: so um yeah you know.

Was struggling to keep myself awake on the morning tram when I overheard this.

Random dude: “So yeah um it’s like um you know.. but yeah.”

Three words went through my mind at that very moment – what the fcuk?

I understand the need to pepper conversation with inane filler words at times to avoid uncomfortable silence, but this is probably the most meaningless sentence I have heard in quite a while. I was mildly surprised his companion actually continued the conversation without a pause – have to give credit to where its due, telepathy perhaps?

Quite a bit of conversation from youngsters (read: people younger than me) these days go in a similar grain, with “yeah”, “ummmmm”, “it’s like”, “you know” being strewn liberally every few words. Contrary to popular belief, excessive use does not make you sound smart; quite the opposite actually.

Not the first time I’ve heard stuff like this, and probably not the last of its kind.

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A walk in the park.

For others, today’s a beautiful day for many things: having a picnic, having a quiet read at a bench, parkour classes, skateboarding, basketball, soccer or even unicycle hockey (no joke).

For me? It’s just a great day to luxuriate in the simple pleasures of life; marvel at the scenery (and regret not having a proper camera!), basking in the warmth of sunshine, and enjoying the peace of mind that a leisurely walk with V and Cookie brings. (The words Cookie and leisurely walk usually do not go together, being punctuated with periods of restlessness and insane barking towards other dogs, but she didn’t do too badly today.)

Finally feels like spring has finally arrived, after a dreary long winter. All in all, a wonderful Sunday afternoon.

Melbourne: Why can’t we get a loan for home deposit? – part II

So we were more or less resigned to our fate and had already given up all hopes of getting the apartment, but a miracle happened and the contract for our new apartment was finally signed this morning – whew!

Thanks goes to a few parties:

  • Jason and I-Ling for their recommendation to Westpac, as Westpac offered us a personal loan right off the bat (didn’t even blink at what we were going to do with the cash) seeing as V was already a Westpac customer. Excellent service, and went further to suggest a banker’s guarantee for the deposit, which would help earn interest. If you’re looking to get a personal loan to help with your home deposit, look no further than Westpac – I’m sold on this.
  • Adam Brien from Australand for his patience and understanding in helping us with the apartment – words fail to convey the outstanding level of assistance he has extended to us, but suffice it to say that I would be more than happy to recommend him in future for any real estate developments.
  • V for running around to sort the paperwork out.

Hello to the new home in two years, if nothing goes wrong.

Basketball: Getting back into the zone

My right shoulder’s been feeling strained for nearly two weeks, so I swapped my shooting sleeve to the right arm in the hopes that the gesture would keep the strain under control. And boy, was it under control or what? It was a great night for basketball.

Running free, getting the right pass from a teammate, squaring up and hitting the jumper – nothing but net. Driving in, flipping the ball lightly through the hoop with a finger roll. Getting into position for the rebound, and going back for the putback. Awesome feelings that I haven’t had in a long time!

Of course, I have my wonderful teammates tonight to thank. Johnny for his nonstop efforts at rebounding and getting the ball out to me whenever he’s double-teamed. Paul for being such a consistent shooter, for setting the the picks to get me free, and for always keeping an eye to get the ball out to me at a moment’s notice. Ambrose for spacing the floor, and spreading the ball.

Times like this make me wish that I can keep having great nights like this for the rest of my life.

New plugins, cool!

I love the flexibility that WordPress plugins offer, awesome stuff. Installed stats & caching plugin together with another plugin to provide mobile device friendly interface; not sure if anyone actually reads my blog on a mobile device but heck.

Melbourne: The road to residency I: IT residency options

So, the journey finally begins! After arriving here in 2007 for my final semester of university at Monash, I managed to stay on with a 457 work visa. Two years have passed since, and the next hurdle begins.

There was a necessary (but unfortunate IMO) change to migration laws over here, which took effect after 1 July 2010. A few critical changes, one of which was the change of occupation code from ASCO to ANZSCO, changing the way occupations were classified. Another was the revamp of the SOL (Skill Occupation List), which reduced (or increased, depending on your profession) chances for residency.

According to the current GSM (General Skilled Migration) SOL, these IT occupations are eligible for GSM independent applications:

  • 261111 ICT business analyst
  • 261112 Systems analyst
  • 261311 Analyst programmer
  • 261312 Developer programmer
  • 261313 Software engineer

A few things I noticed:

  • The previous SOL allowed 50 point and 60 point occupations, but this new list only listed 60 point occupations. Other occupations are listed in SOL schedule 4 (state sponsored) or ENSOL (Employer Nomination Scheme Occupation List)
  • Quite a restricted variety if you ask me; I thought the list placed a heavy emphasis (3 out of 5 = heavy) on programming, and less significance on other specialisations like database/networking/security/systems/digital media/webdev, to name a few.
  • I unfortunately do not fit into any of the occupations. So if you’re not in the list too, good luck mate – better start looking for other options like family/state/employer sponsorship.

So I readied my papers (not exactly rocket science, but required a fair bit of certified document copies), submitted my online skill assessment to ACS (Australia Computing Society) on 3 Aug 2010 and received the results via registered post on 21 Sep 2010.

Outcome: I got placed into 263111 Computer Network and Systems Engineer. Right occupation, but basically killed my options for GSM independent visa.

To list current options:


Option 1. Submit a second skill assessment to ACS and hope for one of the occupations in the SOL
Pros:

  • Lower application fees for GSM

Cons:

  • Not a guarantee, feels like I’m throwing more money into the bin for a gamble at getting the right ANZSCO code
  • Waste of time to wait for assessment
  • GSM is sort of the queue that guarantees a long wait at this point

Option 2. Head for ENS (Employer Nomination Scheme), which is basically asking my boss for assistance.
Pros:

  • Priority processing; agent says this will take about 5-7 months which is fast IMO

Cons:

  • Higher application fees
  • Company financials have to pass assessment, along with other requirements
  • An increased minimum wage is involved – not a con to me, but is one to the boss!

Option 3. Get a spouse visa after my wedding next year.
Pros:

  • Low application fees
  • Quick processing time
  • Relatively minimal paperwork involved

Cons:

  • This does not automatically grant PR, but rather a temporary visa for two years, before PR can be applied for.

That’s all there is for now, more to come as developments appear. To sum it up: it’s a tough road ahead!