Melbourne: The road to residency II, chicken tempura nuggets and errr LinkedIn.


Back for the blog again with a couple of weeks’ absence and I realised that some spammers are getting through with fake admiring comments, but I hit the Spam button soon as I saw the quirky backlinks. Nice try fellows, close but no cigar. Not really black SEO, this kind of backlinking is still a trifle annoying.

And here goes some random updates on life at yours truly. For starters, I finally put all the paperwork together and submitted my application for residency! Forms, testimonials, photographs, bills and whatnot, it’s been a drag. The partner visa may not be as tough as an GSM (General Skilled Migrant) independent visa in terms of prepping paperwork but it’s still pretty tedious.

Sharing some tidbits for other aspiring applicants here:

  • Organise the forms, double-check make sure everything is signed and everything on the checklist has been included. This includes the passport photographs of both parties, don’t leave that out. And make sure the document copies are certified correctly, the police station would be a good option.
  • Writing down all the places you have been to and have resided in the past 10 years, not that hard. Writing down all the time periods from checking passport stamps, now that’s a nightmare. For someone who has not been travelling all that much it already is a major hassle. I shudder at the thought of those people who flit about the globe incessantly.
  • I would suggest that you organise some of the evidence of relationship by year, which is something V thought up. For example place all the 2009 evidence together, which could be copies of certified utility bills, credit card bills or bank statements from both parties.
  • On writing about our relationship, I basically did a page and three quarters on how we entered into a relationship, the years in Melbourne and how we manage our daily routine (finances, chores) as well as our hopes for the future.
  • The photographs can be lumped into a single folder or plastic sleeve, with the event and date written on the back. Or you could stick ’em all onto A4 papers and caption them, that would work too.
  • Deliver the application down by hand to the DIAC office in the city, gives you peace of mind that the application is at least received and acknowledged instead of getting lost somewhere in the mail system – and where would you be at that point? Get there early before 0900hrs, take a number, sit down make payment and you should get everything done before 1000hrs.
  • You can apply for Medicare right after receiving the acknowledgement letter; head over to a Medicare branch, fill up the form and wait for the card to arrive in the mail.
  • Called to immigration and verified these bits:
    • For people who are on a subclass 457 working visa at the time of application, you will enter into a bridging visa A at the time of your 457 visa expiry. This bridging visa inherits all conditions of your subclass 457, so it functions exactly like a time extension on your work visa until a decision is reached on your residency application.
    • Should you happen to be unemployed for any reason while holding a subclass 457 or a bridging visa A, you will have 28 days to look for a new employer or have to head down to DIAC to get a bridging visa E, which allows you to remain in Australia but not to work or travel out of Australia.
    • Summary: bridging visa extends working life but doesn’t allow you much headway if you get shafted at work. Have patience, pray hard for residency to be granted and all will be good.

Also, in the name of random tasty fun – chicken nugget taste test! Stan and I have been going on a rampage almost every night munching away on various brands of chicken nuggets, and our current ranking is as follow (best to worst):

  • Ingham Tempura Breast Nuggets – indisputably the best! Does not taste like strips of chicken lumped together, very juicy and tender.
  • Coles Chicken Breast Nuggets – cheap and a good runner-up.
  • Aldi Farmwood Nuggets – nothing much to say, similar to Coles but just a tad off.
  • Steggles Tempura Chicken Nuggets – same price as Ingham but does not taste as good.

I saw excellent reviews on the Aldi tempura chicken nuggets on a Whirlpool thread, but was unable to find them instore which is a real pity. More brands to join the ladder as we progress.

I have been revamping my LinkedIn profile the past couple of days for no reason other than to paint an accurate and honest picture of myself. I am trying to depict what I think, what I do at work, where my professional ethics lie and what I perceive my strengths to be, which is admittedly not too easy.

I have to say though, after the major profile overhaul I feel less certain about where my longterm career interests lie. I’m definitely not looking for an operational role that requires 24/7 standby duties, a temp or part-time job would be awesome. Not really sure continuing in network allows for non-ops unless I’m working in presales or provisioning capacities. It would be fun to work in a job that allows statistical analysis or better – writing documentation, compiling information and organising it for easy future access in times of need. What kind of job would that be? One that makes the lives of others easier!

It’s best to keep an open mind and see what fate drops into my lap I guess. The main thing is to achieve satisfaction and learn new things on a job. And of course, get sufficient remuneration for the work.

More to come as the days go by!

Basketball: Simple things are always the hardest, part II

So. Chalking up yet another loss in a long string of losses isn’t really a big dent in the ego, but it was a shame that we lost this one, because the opponent seemed so winnable. There were some bright spots but I’ll talk about the ugly stuff first.

With the passing of this game tonight, I’m seeing some things which really need to be corrected:
Playing time: Starters playing heavy minutes, so playing minutes need to be evened out for a variety of reasons.

  • Even the best players get tired, which lowers performance. And swapping in a fresh sub with a ton of energy can do wonders. Imagine subbing in five guys to perform half court press nonstop! (That’s a daydream of mine at the moment.)
  • Some of the guys now aren’t playing at their usual standard, more playing time can alleviate mental pressure and bring them back to their original game which will help immensely in our offense. It will also get them into game rhythm easier the next time round, which improves the overall chances of winning for the team.
  • The most prosaic reason, and one which I am most reluctant to quote actually – everyone should get a chance to play since they are paying.

Execution on offense: this requires a bit of elaboration.

  • Out of the five so-called starters, only two attend weekend training which makes it a little difficult for these five to mesh together. Basketball is a team game, and throwing five random guys together is probably not going to work any magic unless all of them have excellent 1-on-1 skills to begin with, which would then turn it into five ball hogs playing so we might as well not play. More practice, more improvement. Either that, or the starting lineup should be reshuffled to those who can commit to practicing together.
  • The other guys like I mentioned above, some aren’t playing at their usual standards (e.g. when playing on a casual game). Not cutting, not taking the mid-range shots, not moving enough. I’ve been guilty of the same faults, and it’s basically a constant reminder on myself every game to play to what I usually do on casual games. Move around inside, post up, set a few picks here and there, cut to the high post; rinse and repeat.
  • We are not abusing the paint. Even a guy from the other team commented that we only shoot from the arc, and got no paint shots at all in the first half. I thought about it for a bit post-game and our shot selection looks like this right now: free throws, three point shot, transition layups, 1-on-1, and lastly drives on half-court set (very rare). I played for like 35 minutes on a 40 minute game, and the only set play I executed was when I ran baseline, came up to the high post and received a pass from the three line. I then made a bounce pass to a cutter, who then went up and got fouled, earning two at the stripe. Only one play, yes. Video might prove me wrong but I only remember one.

What I think can be done on weekend practice (thought of this during shower earlier): practice the pick and roll.

  • Doesn’t require ten guys to practice, unlike set plays.
  • It improves co-ordination between two guys – they know what to expect: one knows how to pass the right pass to the receiver, and the other learns how to receive (and possibly finish).
  • Can be incorporated easily into full-court game, and does not affect casual play on weekends so the stress is taken off any mistakes made.

Bright spots:

  • Defense! Our 2-1-2 created a lot of turnovers for the opponent today which was really encouraging, we just failed to capitalise on our offense and made a few turnovers ourselves. Clement especially did well on playing the center spot in the zone, he was being vocal about it and moved correctly. The other guys covering the bases did well too.
  • Defense! Inbound pass defense was good, no free layups for them this time.

It’s nearly 0300hrs so I’ll stop here, but it’s all about mental toughness and the willingness to work together to improve. Nothing will change if we don’t make an effort to better the situation, so it all comes down to how much everyone wants to buy into the team at this point, and how much each person wants to talk, listen to feedback and improve.

Like Stan said: it’s hard to get people to put down their ego and pride, embrace the possibility of failure and want to work to improve beyond their current limits.

Basketball: Simple things are always the hardest.

So. A bunch of us got together, ordered some nifty looking jerseys and joined a basketball league. And we got our collective asses handed back to us on a shiny silver platter in the first game – we just weren’t ready, and looked like a bunch of lost sheep out there ready for the slaughter.

And many games later, I can’t say we are really ready but we sure are trying to improve.

There are just so many things to watch out for in a full game. So many little yet important things like:

  • defending an inbound play
  • bringing the ball up
  • creating enough space for offense
  • passing the ball properly instead of telegraphing obvious passes to a teammate so that the opponent steals the ball and thunders off for a fast break
  • remembering not to travel (yes, we have been getting a great deal of travel calls which is embarrassing)
  • and just overall familiarity with each other’s playing style.

There is much to be said for a bunch of guys who have not played with each other long enough, and the absence of many guys from our original group created a huge gap too. And let’s not even start on the lack of training time, it is difficult to get everyone to commit to training sessions especially on weekends which is really frustrating sometimes.

But like I said, we are trying to get better and I believe we are slowly heading in the right direction now, it’s really heartening to see how willing some of the guys are to learn new stuff.

Defense: main thing is to get settled on the defensive and work out the kinks on zone defense. I think it must feel really weird to be talking on defense when you are not used to it, but IMO that is the only way you can improve together and help each other on missed assignments. A lot of guys are just not talking now but I have faith given enough practice, they will understand what it takes.

Our starting lineup’s 2-1-2 zone is beginning to look a little decent after a little reshuffle at the positions, and I’m really proud of the fact that I’m talking enough and staying mobile enough in the 5 position to plug any holes that appear – feel like KG! It’s really tiring though, and I don’t think I’m up to playing heavy minutes yet so we need to train someone else to take second string center spot, a vital need if I may say so.

Offense: we started out with a swing offense, which requires three guys at least to be at the three line swinging the ball for a free opening. I think all of us gradually realised that it wasn’t working, as nothing on the interior is working to get free and we ended up chucking quite a lot of threes. Any player worth his salt will tell you a closer shot is much easier than a long one heh heh. It’s a good thing we have a Facebook group that allows everyone to share ideas, post comments about what we should do and not do. And it also helps that we have video recordings of every game played to date, which allows everyone to look at their own mistakes and reflect on ways to improve.

And offense seriously requires a lot of practice and co-ordination, which is really hard when we have limited practice time. Everyone needs to know what to do, and there is a great deal of standing around at the moment which is pointless of course. Moving without the ball is a big requirement especially in smaller teams like ours. Screen setting needs to be incorporated, along with popping out or rolling after the screen and having the confidence to shoot in their spots when given the ball – right now some guys are not playing at their usual standards which is a pity, but I understand how it feels like.

The psychological barrier must be met and overcome before we can move on! It’s all about not losing to ourselves before we meet the opponents at this point of time.

Keeping pace with life’s little distractions.

So yes, almost two months since the last post! I have been a little distracted with things here and there, namely:

  • The progressing pregnancy, much of which has been peaceful so that’s good. Almost six months, three more to go before V’s “holiday” comes! And the start of an entirely new hectic lifestyle I bet.
  • A short ten day trip back to Singapore which resulted in a continuous eating binge, and me falling sick a few days before my return to Melbourne. I relived the agony of helplessness while nursing a fever, and decided that I should look after my own health better from now on, especially after the kid comes – simply can’t afford to fall sick. I’m really happy I got to catch up with a bunch of people though, hadn’t expected to be able to get back this year. And at the same time, a little guilty I didn’t have enough time to meet everyone.
  • Clearing stuff at work. Like they all say, work is never done. And my work is usually varied and full of learning opportunities; I guess you can take it with a half-full or half-empty philosophy. There are however times when I feel like hurling the damn glass right out the nearest window with vile curses following.
  • Joining a local basketball league! Exciting days, full of experiences and I’ll write more about it in a separate post
  • Suffering from a lack of NBA thanks to the lockout – end it soon dammit!
  • Rereading the Pern series, dragonriders ahoy! So much fun to experience this epic series once again and read of flaming Thread outta the skies, teleporting telepathic dragons and Weyrs and Holds and so on. One of my favourite series ever, a wonderful blend of scifi and fantasy.
  • Preparing for my PR application – almost done and ready to mail it out the following week at long last. Paperwork is a biatch as always and I’m happy that it’s almost over.
  • Playing Dynasty Saga – been playing on S3 for more than half a year, and still going strong! It’s a time hog but hey it’s still fun for now.

That just about covers almost everything. I think.