Prepare the Transit Beam

This page written circa 1 February, 2006.

In the immortal words of Riff-Raff, penned long ago in Hamilton, New Zealand, "Prepare the transit beam": The Scott family is to relocate. In the mean time, loyal readers will have noticed gaps in the web record and a flurry of entries in the House and Garden section of ScottPages.net, as we prepare domestically and psychologically for "the jump".

Meanwhile, Lisa loaned us the complete 6 seasons of Sex and the City on DVD. I have never been a TV kind of person, nor an enthusiast of any Soap Opera (well maybe a season or two of Thirtysomething... good grief that was a long time ago), but the uncensored version of SATC has been truly fabulous. In a few short weeks we have viewed all 94 episodes, and I simply loved them all. I mention this because the central character of SATC writes the "Sex and the City" column for a newspaper, and each column effectively asks a question and makes a point that is pondered in the events of the episode---much as this soapbox addresses a question and makes a point that has arisen from my contemporary affairs. That parallel is not key to my enjoyment of SATC; more personal is the recurrent theme of 'life choices', a theme I share. In my 20s I might have encouraged debate over a dinner table with a question like "If you had to eat one country's cuisine for the rest of your life, what country would it be?". These days it is more likely to be "Why do you live in the place you do, the country, the town, the environment?".

But I digress. In each episode of SATC, Sarah Jessica Parker's character Carrie types the question-du-jour on her Mac notebook, and in homage to the format I shall be specific about the question upon which this decision to jump has hinged.

In the Rocky Horror Show, Riff-Raff actually says: "We return to Transylvania, prepare the transit beam!", and just when Rocky thought he was having fun. Are the Antipodes `Transylvania', or are they really a better life choice?

New Zealand is a land that people queue up to enter; both sons of Merinda's honorary grandparents, Marion and Kent, are moving there, my colleague Andy at work is already lined up to move there; it is a green land where three out of four electrons is renewable, where schools and hospitals are first-rate and free, water and air are clean, the countryside truly Tolkeinesque, there is no capital gains nor property tax, no stamp duty, and the profession of Electrical Engineering is a priority need. Where's the catch?

Australia is supposed to be very similar to New Zealand. Yet I left Australia, as one in every 20 Australians has, because ten years ago I was severely disappointed in my country and my prospects there---heavy and incentive-squashing taxation yet with imploding academic budgets and entrenched, unimaginative university management---and because I was offered something exciting and worthy elsewhere. As a person who firmly believes in the primacy of individual over collective rights I worry that I will feel no more happy with the political situation than I do here---albeit for quite different reasons.

I am leaving Agilent now for similar reasons. In 2005 I managed 4 publications and 4 patent disclosures in the tightest of times and I anticipated promotion from a tactical to a strategic role. It was ill fortune indeed that capped that year with the VP and my boss both bailing out... and me winding up in a narrowly-focussed group under three levels of management with no vision, and with authority and budgets to match. Levels of management are appearing between me and the CEO faster than I am rising... I am not even climbing the conning tower as fast as the ship is sinking.

I am also going to this job in New Zealand because it looks like an "exciting and worthy" opportunity, and one of a kind that comes up about every decade, incidentally. Kay heard that it is flattering for me to have been offered the job---now is that a compliment or an insult? I'll go with compliment.

My friend Stephen reflects that Australia is in a political Time Warp, not so much of a surprise when you know that the Prime Minister's icon was the long-running PM Robert Menzies, who lead Australia down the low-tech cul-de-sac from which it must now climb on the bio wave, having largely missed the electronics and software revolution of the late 20th century. Hey, NZ has a female Prime Minister, a female Governor-General, and if Ralph Waldo Emerson was at all right in his assertion that "an institution is the lengthened shadow of one man", or presumably woman, then NZ may be much more progressive and sensible than Aus, and the best life choice going.

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