I went to see Paddington this evening.
I realise it must be confusing for readers here, as I have two good friends named Paddington Bear and Sir Poddington. And confusingly, if either of them is more likely to end up with a “sir” in his name, it’d be Paddington, not Sir Pod. But hey, that’s just how it is. I know who they are, and that’s what matters.
Paddington Bear is, as his name suggests, a very proper English gentleman. We used to joke he was the sort of person who should have been born 70 years old, and an arch-conservative and he’s always kind of resented the world for the fact that he wasn’t. Despite being my age, or slightly younger, he is quite high up within the Imperial bureaucracy and Caerulia once described him as the ultimate dinner guest, for he is able to have an intelligent discussion about so many different topics.
This evening, we discussed law, public policy, the recent election, government advertising rules, production standards of British versus American television programs, the concept of “turning points” in battles, wars and history, a theory that girls who grow their hair really long are stuck in their childhoods, how one proves that a ‘gift’ has actually been given and how moving multiple times between Jerusalem & Rome has set me back in many ways. He’s just that sort of person.
And it was kinda nice to hear him tell me that he thinks I’m as interesting to talk to as I find him.
That is what I missed in Jerusalem – intelligent discussion.
Then, on the way home, some dickhead tried to run me off the road several times. I guess it proves that even in Rome, not everyone’s a Knight of the Realm.
Over the last few weeks, while I haven’t been blogging, my average visitor numbers increased. INCREASED! I have no idea how or why. And they’re coming from schools in North America and all over the UK. Again, no idea why.
With regards to the new direction I mentioned yesterday, I will outline it over the next week. But it’s similar to the overall heading that was part of the “Return Home” plan last year.
Mick had a good point. Today, he commented on my last post, asking where I am? And it’s a good point because I haven’t set up a new blog, as promised. I am not even sure I will. At least for now. It was a good idea. Still is. But I stopped writing because I’d lost the direction implied in my title. After a few weeks’ contemplation though, I may have found some once more. Ironically, in a place I never expected to find it. And with the help of some people who could not have realised they were aiding me, because they were trying not to.
I don’t like “the holiday period”. For the last ten years, I haven’t been able to spend Christmas the way I’d like to. Four years ago, my father died. A few years before that, I made a major mistake in going out for a curry with a friend. And in 2005, I was falsely arrested and imprisoned. Never a good period. The only real bright light was in 1998. Because Lucius was born.
In the last week, I have been reassessing some things. The weekend just gone has been especially useful. After it though, I felt like shit going to work for the first full work week in a month.
This is the last post here.
I’m registering a domain name – I’ll come back and edit this post and tell you what it is once I’ve done it – and I’ll sort out full WordPress at the new site. WordPress.com is ok, but has little niggling restrictions, and it’s kind of like typing with one hand behind my back.
So until I see you on the other side…
I’ve just been to Caerulia’s. She’s been quite unwell, and she sent me a text that made me think she was feeling down. So I went over.
When I got there, I found out two things.
- my Lancer which has been dead since the great return has been vandalised and the bonnet will probably need replacing; and
- Caerulia’s car was broken into late last night – they managed to get it down the driveway and onto the street, but failed to get it started. A neighbour called the police, who were powerless to do anything.
Her neighbourhood used to be nice. Now, it’s full of scum.
So we’re putting some extra security in at her place. And I’ll be selling the Barina to get the Lancer working again. More money I don’t have.
INT. LESTER BANGS' BEDROOM -- NIGHT Crazy jazz is playing. Lester Bangs on the phone. LESTER BANGS Aw, man. You made friends with them! See, friendship is the booze they feed you. They want you to get drunk on feeling like you belong. INTERCUT: INT. ROLLING STONE -- NIGHT William in the empty Rolling Stone office. WILLIAM (ruefully) Well, it was fun. LESTER BANGS They make you feel cool. And hey. I met you. You are not "cool." WILLIAM I know. Even when I thought I was, I knew I wasn't. LESTER BANGS That's because we are uncool! And while women will always be a problem for guys like us, most of the great art in the world is about that very problem. Good-looking people have no spine! Their art never lasts! They get the girls, but we're smarter. WILLIAM I can really see that now. LESTER BANGS Yeah, great art is about conflict and pain and guilt and longing and love disguised as sex, and sex disguised as love... and let's face it, they got a big head start. WILLIAM I'm glad you were home. LESTER BANGS I'm always home! I'm uncool! WILLIAM Me too! LESTER BANGS (leveling) The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool.
My favourite Aussie band (of those who are still together and playing gigs) is playing a gig on the 29th at the Hopetoun Hotel. Email or text me if you wanna go.
Oh, Marquis, I crashing at your place for this gig. Hope that’s ok? 😛
Have you ever noticed how Maccas is like casual sex? Well, more like a one-night stand actually.
You see it there, so full of potential. It’s not an every day thing. You recall those days when you were younger and it was a ‘special occasion’ thing, even if now you can have it whenever you want. And it’s enticing. On the posters, it looks so desirable, so delicious.
So you drive thru, and buy your favourite items. And then you indulge.
But afterwards, you can’t help thinking “Meh, why did I bother?”
Ever noticed that?
Nah, me neither.
The last time that the Federal government changed, I was working for it. I was a public servant in the Tax Office. I was also quite an active union delegate. And in that capacity, I was attending protest marches which opposed government policy.
After maybe a year, I realised that I couldn’t work for a government in the morning, and attend a protest against that same government in the afternoon. From then, I made the decision to not work for a government I wouldn’t vote for.
As you can imagine, in a city like Rome, where more than half the economy is centred on the government, that restricted my options over the last decade. That is part of the reason I left and went to Jerusalem.
Last night though, I watched Thank You For Smoking. It’s a crap movie, I wouldn’t recommend it. But in it, there was a line that so many of the world’s evils have been done in the name of paying the mortgage. So much of what we do which we wouldn’t otherwise is done simply in the pursuit of a pay-cheque.
When I returned to Rome, and began looking for work, some employment agencies found it odd that I told them I wouldn’t work for certain government departments. I wouldn’t work for Immigration (the worst of the worst!), Workplace Relations, Defence. Mainly because these organisations – under the Howard regime – were guilty of the worst crimes against the citizenry. Too many Romans though view their work as “I’m doing what I’m told” or “I’m just implementing the government policy”.
Where does collaboration end? And how deep do we have to be in before we can no longer rely on the Nuremberg defence?
Over at 2 Blog or not 2 Blog, Mick’s written recently about the proposed legislation to allow homosexual ‘civil unions’. And he wrote this the same day I had an extensive debate on email with Sioneld about this proposal. THEN, I watched the latest episode of The West Wing that I’d downloaded (S02, Ep07 The Portland Trip) which covered the topic of gay marriage as well. So it’s been everywhere in my world in the last few days.
Despite being a card-carrying member of the party that has introduced this change, I remain unconvinced. Not because I’m anti the idea. But I’ve been asking those I’ve discussed it with whether the change should be supported. Up to now, I’m yet to get a decent explanation why.
In discussion with Sioneld, the topic became about whether gay couples are discriminated against. And since the legislative changes are giving them a status that is similar, but not the same as, the straight community then the law fails. After all, if you’re stopping discrimination by discriminating, that’s just hypocritical (not to mention silly).
Sioneld then justified this discrimination on the basis that the wider community wouldn’t accept the non-discriminating position (gay marriage). But if the community wouldn’t accept it, then the reformers should be setting about changing the public’s position, rather than replacing one grade of discrimination for another. Introducing a law that isn’t supported by the community is bad public policy. One should win the hearts and minds campaign first.
I also think that introducing a law in one small part of the country that will not be recognised in the other 99.5% of the country is not only silly, but it’s bad law.
I put the challenge out to those who say this change is a good thing – show me why it’s good. Show me a need. Show me how this legislation will fix the need. If your argument comes down to “the need is obvious” you’ve lost the debate. If “the need is obvious”, then I wouldn’t be asking the question. If “the need is obvious”, it’ll be a piece of piss for you to demonstrate it. So go on.
I got broadband through work around October 19. Unfortunately, that same day, one of the greatest websites ever, TV Links, stopped working. Don’t bother with the link, it doesn’t work anymore. Its loss though soured the happiness I felt having a new unlimited broadband account.
It forced me though to begin exploring something I hadn’t done up to then, this whole torrenting game. Right now, I’m torrenting all seven seasons of The West Wing. The painful process of how torrenting makes its own mind up as to what order to download the data makes it very difficult to watch episodes in order. So I’m slowly making my way through.
I was watching The Lame Duck Congress tonight (Season 2, Episode 6) and something struck me. Jed Bartlett is a short-arse. And this stops me being able to see him as President.
George Bush is tall. So was his dad. As is Clinton. Reagan was. Ford too. I not sure about Carter and Nixon – does anyone know? Was Kennedy? Johnston was tall. Eisenhower definitely was. As was FDR. Truman may have been short. I not sure. Does America ever elect a short man as President? What does that say about them?
While managing Trouser Trouser (about 8 years ago), I met George. George isn’t a person. George is a band. Prinny had been telling me for a year or two of a great band she loved but in the summer of 2001, they broke on Triple J and suddenly everyone knew who they were, and knew their song “Spawn”. Because I knew Prin, she gave me Tyrone’s email address and I offered him somewhere to stay when George were doing their first national tour. Five of them (plus their sound-engineer/roadie with the lovely name of “Chewie”) crashed in Caerulia’s parents’ spare place for a few days.
That week, when I first met them, I fell in love with every member of the band and later even Paulie, their replacement bass player. They were lovely people. And the time I spent up north reinforced the friendship as Tyrone often invited me out when I first moved up there to check out new bands and he tried back in 2003 to try and get me into the band management scene up there.
This weekend, the prettiest member of George, is visiting town and I’m going to see her perform at Tilley’s. If anyone would like to take my spare ticket, let me know. Olivia was going to come along, but has to go to a wedding. So I’ve got her ticket spare. Everyone else, visit Katie’s site and have a listen to her new material. It’s really good.
The English language is missing a word. Or maybe just my vocabulary is? It’s the word that would be used to describe the joy one experiences when one finds something thought long-lost, or even whose existence was forgotten so long ago, it’s as if one is finding it for the very first time.
I’ve been feeling that a lot today. Because I’ve spent the day backing up hard drives in preparation for a reformat and Windows reinstall. Along the way though, I have found piles and piles of mp3 files I had forgotten.
When under full steam, a ship doesn’t travel in a straight line. Of course, it tries to. But the current of the water means the direction is always slightly altering. So the helmsman is keeping an eye on the destination, where he wants it to go, and adjusts constantly to make sure the lumbering ship maintains something like the desired course.
Aurelius’ ship was mostly on course. Noone suspected the presence of the submarine. Noone saw the trail of bubbles that signalled the approaching torpedo. Noone expected it. But then came the explosion. If the ship sinks or stays afloat will depend very much on what the crew does. And whether the submarine captain has fled after his perfect shot, or hangs around to deliver the coup de grace.
There’s stuff I know about. Because I’ve had such an eclectic range of work and study, it’s hard though to nail down a specialty subject for me. I wrote about it kind of once before. But having said that, one topic I do know a bit about is politics. Not surprising I guess. I’ve studied it at uni, worked for two politicians and one party office, managed a candidate’s campaign in a state election and been politically active for the last fifteen or so years. So I accept that not everyone knows as much about the topic as I do, but in recent weeks, everyone’s had an opinion about it.
For the most part, their opinions fascinate me. Why do they form the opinions they do? I’m interested in the reasons behind them.
Not surprisingly for one interested in such a question, I have left a lot of comments on blogs recently questioning people about their ideas. As I’ve said before, I don’t think it’s my job to sell anyone on any belief. I’m just curious about the logic-steps they go through to get where they get.
So it’s kind of annoying when some bloggers rant their opinions and when questioned, when asked the reasons, they get abusive. Like questioning their opinions is tantamount to insulting them.
Of course, the reason is simple – they haven’t put enough thought into their statements, and so they have no idea how to back up what they say. I just don’t like intellectual laziness. And especially in my specialty subject. It’s kind of like if you were a lawyer, and I met you at a dinner party and proceeded to tell you my half-formed and uneducated ideas about what is wrong with law and justice in the country. It’d just make me look stupid. (I have to admit, I have been guilty of that, but at least when I am, I know I’m not arguing from a position of strength)
When the Costello brothers first came to prominence, I was puzzled. Peter the economic rationalist and Tim the bleeding heart. One became Treasurer in a conservative administration. The other head of a charity. Clearly both able men. But I always wondered what their Christmas dinner conversation would be like.
Later though, when Peter became more established in his role as Treasurer, he’d occasionally give a speech about his vision. And just like his brother or other prominent conservatives in the past – Kennett, Hewson, Fraser – it became obvious that behind all the econocrat language and harsh policy that is required when one is hanging out with a bunch like the Tories, he had a vision for the country. Vision of the likes of Keating. And Keating’s vision was one of the things I loved most.
After my time working at the House, I developed the opinion that with economic credentials and a vision, Peter could be a very formidable opponent. If we thought Emperor John was tough to beat, he’d be a lot harder. Because he’d steal a lot of our vote. Him and his vision.
I put this theory to a couple of staffers from Labor. They scoffed. For they admitted Peter had “the vision thing” in a way John didn’t, but he never had the balls to put it out there. Never had the guts to take on a popular Emperor and take power in order to carry out his vision. “Plenty of vision, No balls” was the assessment. Unlike Keating. When the time came, Keating didn’t shy away. He felt Bob had to go, so he put him to the sword.
Last Saturday night, Peter started speaking about wanting “a nation with ambition as large as the continent on which we stand”, I thought “finally! After all this time, he’s going to start proclaiming his vision. And we’ll either have to have vision as grand as his, or be a one-term government.” At last we can live in a country that desires to be better than “relaxed and comfortable” and a lot better than the petty money-grubbing selfish xenophobic place we’d become in the last decade. We could be a land worthy of ourselves.
Then, Sunday, Peter quit.
As Keating said “Tip, and no iceberg”.
Reichsministers Howard & Brough are gone. Ruddock remains. The fools – Coonan, Andrews, Abbott – remain. But with power stripped from their hands, they’re impotent. And their best hope today announced he’d not take leadership.
I’m sunburnt. Extremely sunburnt & sleep-deprived. I did all day at the polling booth. Then sat up watching the coverage and engaging in SMS conversations. By the end of the night, the only shadows were uncertainty in Bennelong and Swan.
It’s 9 years since my excommunication. And now we’ve won one, I can forgive myself.
I heard something on the radio today. They had a quiz question: “Who was the face on the first issue of Rolling Stone magazine in 1967?
A lady rang up and said “Paul McCartney” and the radio presenter said “Close, he was in the same band as Paul” and she said she didn’t know the names of the other Beatles.
And i began to wonder: do people really exist who can’t name them?
(For those of you who don’t know him – and let’s face it, that’s all of you – this picture reminds me of my cousin Marquis)
I’m stopping. Maybe I want a break. Maybe I want to stop. But until I want to un-stop, stopping is what I feel like doing.
Crab, you were right. They are.
Mick, I’ll come to one of your gigs this weekend.
Everyone else, why not come to one of Mick’s gigs this weekend?
On this video, ABC’s Mediawatch showed how Channel 10 has broken the law running subliminal advertising during the recent Aria Award presentation. Channel 10 has passed the buck and said it’s not subliminal advertising. The advertisers put their hands up and say “nothing to do with us”. The program’s producers say it was Channel 10 who did it.
I’d urge you all to watch the video. And if you think what’s been done is wrong, then do this:
- complain to the TV network (of course, I know none of you will, but I guess it’s an acceptable form of protest);
- highlight this behaviour;
- and most importantly, boycott the companies who pay for this kind of advertising (in this case: KFC, Bigpond, Chupa Chups & Olay).
The only way companies will be discouraged from this kind of deceitful (and illegal) conduct is if it hurts their bottom line. The only way to make corporations behave in a decent and civil manner is if not doing so impacts their profits. So I’d urge you to punish these corporations in the only way they’ll understand.
One aspect of life in Rome that differs from life in the provinces occurs at dinner parties. The kinds of dinner parties Caerulia & I used to have when we were married were interesting affairs. We’d invite 3-4 friends over. Everyone would bring a course, and the food would be shared at our table.
Because Rome is how it is, our guests would be people we knew from all different paths of our lives – old friends from university, work colleagues past and present, friends of friends, colleagues of mine from the Labor Party. And we’d always mix it up – we’d deliberately invite people who didn’t know each other so the social mix would be different each time.
Inevitably, the post-dinner conversation, usually while still at the table and consuming dessert or wine, would shift to solving the problems of the world, or at least our small portion of it. Caerulia had worked for some government departments, as had I. Our guests would have worked for a different mix, and so there was some overlap but generally coverage of a lot of different areas.
As people do in these situations, everyone would chip in with their small piece of the puzzle, but the solutions to most of the issues of the day were clear-cut and simple. In essence, you sit people down at a table from different sides of a problem, and they can solve it.
It always puzzled me therefore why our Imperial leaders make such bad decisions, or why policy differences seem so entrenched. I mustn’t be very bright because it took me a long time to find the answer. It’s politics.
This is highlighted by the current election campaign we’re in. Policies are not written because they are in the best interests of the country. But because they’re aimed at winning the vote in three weeks. And whoever wins, decisions wont be made sanely and sensibly next month either, because after the vote in three weeks, it’ll all be about winning votes in three years. Road funding. Health funding. Education funding. It’s all about winning votes in marginal seats. And that’s just about pandering to the self-interest of the voters who might swing one way or another.
We’re not yet in the same boat as the Americans – where their ruling class governs almost intentionally in the national dis-interest. But we’re not far off.
Last week, I downloaded a copy of Time On Earth, the ‘new’ Crowded House album. I like it, but I still hold to my belief that without Hessie, it’s not the Crowdies. The last few days, I’ve been trawling through my Crowded House CD collection. It’s extensive because they were one of the only bands where I followed them through their whole career and bought singles as well as albums. On YouTube, I started watching their videos as well. And it was there I found this.
I have just watched The Godfather. I’ve never seen it before, and in actuality, I still haven’t. Because the last few minutes on the DVD copy I watched were borked, so I’ve not seen from where they cut to Michael in Sicily.
While watching it though, I began to think about those small characters, the foot-soldiers who spend their whole life working for the big man, and never climbing to the top. No doubt some of them believe they are getting something back for the effort they put in. They’ll make powerful friends and allies, or good money and in exchange, they serve loyally.
But my mind was cast back to maybe two decades to the Timothy Zahn books that picked up the story after Return of the Jedi. While I was reading those books and following the battles between the New Republic and Admiral Thrawn, I thought then about the little guys. (By the way, I shant link to them, because the books are shite. If you need the proof by reading them, ask me, I’d gladly give you my copies). About those henchmen, bodyguards etcetera though who lay down their lives for their employer. Because that’s all he really was – Admiral Thrawn – he was an employer. Just like Don Corleone I suppose.
While many of us would go above and beyond the call of duty for an employer we liked, and we’d be loyal to a leader we respected, would we really go as far as to lose one’s life for them? Even though I have had some bosses I would have – and did – cop a lot for, I doubt I’d go quite that far. But what would I go that far for? A belief? An idea? What would you do it for?
For the record, that NaBloPoMo meme everyone does each November where they all blog every day, or write a novel in an afternoon or whatever – that’s a crock of shit. And you all know I don’t do memes – they’re evidence of a drought of ideas.
But onto what I wanted to say: with the new month, I had decided I would begin a new habit – changing something about my life; kind of a ‘new month’s resolution’. And this month, it was going to be to attend the gym daily. But then Jefferson sms-ed me this morning to see if I’d be in the Movember Challenge with him? See, even though Movember is a fundraising thing for prostate cancer or men’s health or something, Jefferson doesn’t do it as a fund-raiser; he just does it as an excuse to skip shaving for a month and thus irritate his lovely wife. Since I don’t have a lovely wife, I do it just as a way of saying to Jefferson “I can do that too”, and then we swap digital photos along the way. It’s silly, it’s pointless, and so as an activity for this month, it beats anything else we could think of.
So that’s the plan. No shaving for November. Just because.
Despite being a very political creature, and an active member of a political party, I think it’s abhorrent to tell people how they should vote. I also think it’s terrible for people to vote for a party that is not representative of their opinions.
Too often in modern democracies voters choose their political party the way they choose their football team. You know the kind of people – those who think that their full-forward is always in the right, even when he’s done a Tony Lockett and clocked the opposing fullback and broken his nose. So is it with politics – everything my guy says is right, everything your guy says is wrong. I’m the total opposite. I think that as someone who studied politics at uni, worked in the political realm and knows a lot about it, it’s my job not to tell you who to vote for, but to help you decide for yourself.
A few years ago, websites started popping up with “political compasses” on them. I always found them amusing because people who said they loved Party Leader 1 and despised Party B found themselves answering in ways that showed them more aligned to Party B.
Anyway, this election, here’s two political compasses to try. The Political Compass is US-based – it has a results page based on Australian parties though. And The Vote-a-matic is Australian. Neither are perfect, but both are better than deciding who to vote for based on who has the better hair stylist.
(Inspired by Enny)
Mick’s band, The DropBears, are playing next week. Everyone should come along!
I have been reading The Piping Shrike for a few months now. He’s a blogger who writes mainly about politics, but in a way I find refreshing because he’s got his own opinions, they’re very well written and he doesn’t seem to be just ranting a party line, as so many bloggers of a political leaning are prone to do (maybe even me?).
Anyway, the other day, I asked Shrike why he had disabled comments on his blog. His response was to say he didn’t think the world needed another forum for wild political arguments. I guess I agree with him.
But the question of the day therefore is – why have comments? What do they add to a blog? To your blog? To other blogs? Leave feedback, preferably lots of it.
While bored at work the other day, I was browsing the web and came across a number of Galactica-flavoured bumper stickers such as the topic above. Anyway, as I am sometimes prone to do, I made one of them my MSN away message. It said “I’m not a Cylon, but my imaginary girlfriend is”.
This prompted several people to message me asking what a Cylon was. hell-oh! Ever heard of google? Actually, if you don’t know what a Cylon is, where have you been?
I’ve been playing with YouTube, and featuring YouTube Sunday for several months. Of course, in the middle, I had to pause, when I didn’t have broadband access. But I decided now would be a good time to revisit the videos featured so far. So here, we have a summary. Provided for one of my friends. Who I made laugh today.
Enjoy. More next week.
At Monday night’s dinner, I had a surprise. At the time, I thought it was a good thing. Later, I wasn’t so sure.
As I mentioned last week, I used to work for Mr Beazley during his first stint as Leader of the Opposition. While there, I had about a dozen volunteer staff – uni students mostly – working for me. One of them, Karl, appeared at the dinner on Monday. And although Karl was one of my favourite people from the office, it bought up some things I’d prefer not to reflect on too often – namely the circumstances of my departure. And so while it was great seeing Karl again, it had a negative taste I’d probably have had a better week without.
Now it’s a few days later, and I think the solution is to have Karl over for dinner sometime soon. To catch up properly, and make sure we don’t let it be another 9 years between drinks.
I also canceled an evening with Sir Paddington Bear this week. I should remedy that too.
I didn’t name the blog I was criticising here. Although was I really criticising them? Or just saying they’d gone in a direction that I no longer found highly readable? I didn’t name them though.
The reason is that a couple of years ago I read a blogpost by someone who referred to cricket and all the way through the post, he’d give “translations” to foreign readers explaining what he was saying. I wrote a post in response, pretty much saying that I wouldn’t ever do such “translations” because if someone was reading my blog, and didn’t understand something, they could either look it up, assume the meaning from context, or just accept the way I wrote. But I made the mistake of actually referring to the post I disagreed with the style of. Amongst some people, that was some crime on par with killing baby harp seals.
The way I look at it though: if I were writing “I like what this person said here”, then linking to them would be okay. But why is it not okay if I’m disagreeing with them, saying that I would never write like example? Why is positive comment okay, but negative comment not?
I think the only difference is that some people cannot handle criticism. And if that is what they’re like, then really, I don’t have a lot of time for them.
I have a theory that all the Roman female bloggers I read live in Aranda (essept Enny, coz I know she doesn’t)
I dunno why. I just think so. If you have evidence to support or discount this theory, please do not share it.
I find that evidence only upsets my theories. I’m anti-evidence.
There’s a blog I used to read a lot. I really liked it. But then the writer became popular. And lots of blogs were pointing to them, so presumably, they gained a lot of readers.
I’ve mentioned before how I have read a lot about SEO, blogs as marketing tools, monetising blogs etc. So I know the methods that people use when they want to pimp their blog, make cash from their readers.
Anyway, this blog I used to read did all the tricks. Different streams of income; becoming an active part of the blog community; link-swapping; gradual changes to become “slicker”; becoming a recognised authority in their niche.
But ya know what? In the process, they became less interesting. I’ve recently been offline for a few weeks. Since getting back, I’ve been catching up on the blogs I used to read. And the blog I used to look forward to has changed.
I like to tell myself I write this for me, and to an extent that’s true. But like all bloggers, I like – and am a bit flattered by – the existence of an audience. I once said before “Here’s a trend in blogging and shoot me if I ever go down that path” and I gave an example, and was castigated for it. So this time I wont. Give an example I mean. But still shoot me if I take that path.
I didn’t watch it. I find them boring. Yeah, despite being the world’s biggest political junkie, I think they’re dull. But from the commentary today, I am pretty sure I made the right decision. I have though a couple of comments.
First, the Reichsminister for Health said today that the worm was irrelevant because it went negative the moment Emperor John began to speak. Before he’d even *said* anything, people were indicating negativity. Hey Tony, guess what – that means your leader is on the nose, and noone’s listening. That doesn’t mean the people are wrong – it means that, unless something changes fast, you’re on a path to destruction.
Second, and I’ll be brief – because I know noone gives a flying fuck about the election – I heard today that John was stressed and hostile in his demeanor, but Kev was much more amiable. Is it just me who thinks it’s sweetly ironic that after 11 years under Emperor John, it’s Kev who’s feeling relaxed and comfortable?
Tonight, I am going to a dinner. It’s to celebrate the anniversary of something Wellington & I did ten years ago.
When I joined the Labor Party in 1996, at the first meeting following the defeat of Emperor Paul the Great, and the establishment of the evil regime of Emperor John, I found myself in one of the largest branches in the city. There were about 150 people at my first meeting.
After I’d been in the Party a year or so, I began to think that the Aventine – my home area – had different issues to the residents of the Caelian, who made up the majority of the branch. The Aventine was a new district, and issues there were mainly about the need for services and employment. The Caelian had been established for a few generations, and so the issues were completely different. When I began to ask other Aventine members of the Party, I became friends with Wellington. Wellington and I began to look into the question of “How does one split a branch into two?” and since it hadn’t been done for over 30 years, noone knew. But Wellington & I persisted, and eventually we found out what needed to be done. We needed to get 15 Aventine Party members to sign a request, and the wheels could be set in motion. So we did.
A local MLA didn’t want the split to happen for factional reasons – he couldn’t be sure his faction would be able to control the new branch. He was thus pretty miffed when Wellington & I succeeded in forming it anyway. But given that he was the only MLA at subsequent elections who could campaign as being truly “local” for the interests of Aventine voters, he turned out to be a huge beneficiary of what we’d done.
When Wellington & I were going around getting the signatures, we impressed on the membership that the new branch wasn’t going to be run along factional lines – decisions would be done fairly and discussion encouraged. And for the most part, that’s how the branch has operated.
It’s ten years this week since the first meeting of the Aventine Labor Party branch. That’s what the dinner is for. The speaker at dinner will be the City Prefect from back then. In the last ten years, I’ve been in and out of the branch as I’ve left town, and even left the Party for a while. But Wellington’s been there the whole way through, even marrying one of the other members, and fathering a little girl born on Bastille Day a few years ago. (How lefty is that??) Hopefully, it’ll be the beginning of a lot of celebration for our little branch.
One of the most popular destinations in my archives, at least when it comes to Google, is the YouTube Sunday post featuring the Doug Anthony All Stars doing Throw Your Arms Around Me. I miss DAAS. I also find it rather enlightening that there is now a generation growing up who do not remember them. But their legacy lives on in some of this country’s musical comedy acts, especially one featured in today’s YouTube Sunday – Tim Minchin.
He did this song a few weeks ago on Paul McDermott’s Sideshow programme. I became an instant fan. He’s got the oddest ways of rhyming words in the song. But it’s not just the song – his facial expressions are priceless. Especially when he sings about “…you’d agree to adopt…” I wont ruin it by explaining – just take a look.
In 1996, after a year or more of bad poll results, Keating called an election.
In the opening weeks of the campaign, his government received a bounce in the polls, and for a brief moment, it looked winnable.
Then, he was slaughtered.
Last month, I promised I’d tell a story about my time at Duntroon. And since I like telling stories, here goes…
Once upon a time, I was working in the publishing area of the College. My job was to publish documents for the College. Things like exam papers, the little booklets they hand out to visitors at things like the Beating of the Retreat that we went to last month, that kind of thing
While working there, I was the only civilian in the office with 4 military people and the uniformed ones had some issues realising that being a civilian meant I didn’t live under exactly the same rules as they did. I didn’t have to show up at 7am for a run around the oval. I didn’t have to salute. I had set working hours, and when they were done, I was entitled to go home and unpaid overtime was something I could refuse to do.
As a result of this difference in status, there was some friction between me and my boss, Staff Sergeant Jacqui Van Beukering. So when I was told to do a publishing job that wasn’t for the College, but was a menu for a cafe run by the wife of a College staff member, my refusal to do so was taken poorly. We argued. I told her what she was instructing me to do was misuse of College resources, and I refused to carry out her orders.
Those of you who have worked for the Imperial government will know that refusing an instruction can result in disciplinary measures. I fully expected my actions to be examined and I was pretty secure in my position. I was also prepared to argue my case. After all, I was a union delegate at that stage, for all civilian staff in the College, so standing up to the hierarchy wasn’t something that overly concerned me.
Staff Sergeant Van Beukering’s boss, Captain Davis was called in. The issue was discussed. I stood my ground. The Captain instructed me to publish the cafe menu. I refused. So a union official was bought in. The union official backed my position. The soldiers wouldn’t alter their position, neither would I. A circuit breaker was needed. The Captain suggested the issue should be “investigated” and until the matter was resolved, I was sent home on full pay.
This may seem odd to those who have never worked for the government. But I was sent home. I was being paid. But I didn’t have to go to work. I originally thought this situation might last a day or two. I had underestimated the situation.
A few weeks later, while still on paid “leave” (although not actually using up any leave) I was chatting to a mate of mine who worked for the local MP. I told him that I was being paid, but didn’t have to go to work. So, since it was an election year, was there anything the Party could use my time for? He put me in touch with a chap named Justin who worked for Mr Beazley, the Leader of the Party at the time.
I met Justin and began to work a day or two a week in Beazley’s office. I loved the work though, so I expanded the days I was there until I was pretty much full-time. They weren’t paying me, but I was being paid by the College, so I didn’t care.
My role at Parliament House grew and grew until I was administering all the volunteer staff, using them not only for my role with Justin in media monitoring but also lending them out to Shadow Ministers like Faulkner, Latham, Evans, Lee and Kerr for research work – essentially the way a temp agency works. Only my volunteers weren’t paid more than their lunch money – they were just doing it because they loved it. But being uni students who were all passionate about politics, they were living their fantasies since every day they came to work, they were spending time with the Party leaders and MPs.
After several months, the issue of the refusal to follow instructions was resolved and I was advised I was able to return to work at the College. But by that time, I was working 115 hour weeks in Beazley’s office and so when I told Justin I had to go, he offered to add me to the payroll, so I could be paid to do what I previously was doing for the love of it. Naturally, I took up the offer.
So returning to Duntroon last month reminded me of how it was the stepping stone to a path that provided one of my great adventures. It was ten years ago. But I don’t regret leaving there. I guess even the smallest steps can take us places we never expect. We have to be prepared to take that step when it comes though.
There’s an election campaign on, and me, the biggest political junkie you all know is deathly silent. Nevermind, once I get the home broadband sorted (it’s not as sorted as I’d have liked it to be) then you’ll all get sick of my rantings.
My primary housemate – Steve – is ex-army. He’s trained mainly in communications (that means he’s done a lot of electronic work, intercepting other people’s communications I think). He’s also spent a lot of his army time in the special forces. He’s now a civilian, but you can easily tell he’s army to the core.
The other night, he asked me what I did, and what my “speciality” was. Now, I’ve thought about this question a bit. Truth is, I don’t have one. And as Willett said recently “Based on my list of experience I am actually not perfectly suited to anything.”
In the last twenty years, I have (not in order) pumped gas, organised cargo to go to various places, been a radio DJ, operated a printing press, done quite a bit of desktop publishing, been a PA, been a union organiser, a courier, a cab driver, managed rock bands, been a political staffer, ran a volunteer army for a senior politician, sold mobile phones and computers, worked in call centres for tax, accounting, superannuation, mobile phones, salary packaging and internet tech support, hunted down missing people, been a full-time parent, sold radio advertising, catering planning, ran a business doing computer-support house calls, and I am sure a lot more.
But the reality is, I haven’t specialised in anything. I have never considered it to be an impediment to anything. Except maybe if I went on The Einstein Factor, I wouldn’t know what to make my special subject. The closest I have come is the night I won The Challenge with Tony Delroy. But I’ve told that story before.
As most of you would be aware, I now work for a small ISP. As part of the salary package, I get an uncapped broadband account. In this country, “uncapped” and “unlimited” broadband is frequently advertised, but almost never delivered, so this benefit is a pretty cool thing in my opinion.
Having moved house on the weekend, Monday I applied to get ADSL installed. In the last four years, my new housemate – Steve – had asked several times to get ADSL installed, and each time, the Evil Empire said “not yet”.
Then, on Monday, the very day I submitted the order, Steve got a call from Bigpond saying “Hey, we can now give you broadband!”. Obviously, me applying sent the signal to the evil empire, so they tried to hijack the application and steal a potential customer.
In any other industry, this kind of abuse of information would be illegal. In our industry, it’s par for the course.
I found somewhere else to live. I planned to move at end of October. I gave Adam notice. Adam became more difficult. So I checked with the new place about moving sooner? Not possible. So I looked again. I found another new place. I moved yesterday. I’m sorting out net access. New place is divine. No, really. More later…
I knew someone once who would often write blog posts and then delete them. The ones he deleted were the ones that were the most raw – the ones where his soul was on display to his readers. Of course, this was the very reason he’d delete them. Having your soul in the public domain isn’t an easy way to live. I told him “the ones that are the most painful are the best posts”. He interpreted my words as saying that I liked reading about him in pain. I didn’t. I just liked the vividness of his words when he wrote such pieces.
This highlights something that has been on my mind a lot recently – that how words are received is about the reader more than the writer.
In earlier incarnations of my blog, I argued constantly with various readers. I’d write something, they’d put their own spin on it and turn it into something it wasn’t, and then I’d be expected to defend their mis-interpretation. I never realised how much of what I wrote was caught up in this maelstrom. Last week, I was reading the archives of some of my previous blogs. I was surprised how much of a dominant theme it was. And how many times I was ignored when I said “I write, you read” or “Try only abusing me for what I wrote, not for the words that aren’t there”.
I realised though when I was reading the earlier posts (and more particularly some comments that have been left) on the current incarnation. When I wrote this post, I didn’t respond to the comments, and I just remembered the comments as critical of the idea. So I thought I’d put the idea away for a while, and think about it some more. But when I went back recently, I discovered the comments weren’t critical at all. So maybe at the time, I was misreading what the commenters were saying?
The situation with Adam reminds me of what happened with some housemates I had about a year ago. Back then, I had a clash with one of the two girls I lived with in Jerusalem. She locked me out. So when I made plans for somewhere else to live, they found they had a problem. Both of them were quite restricted financially. So me leaving meant they’d have a few weeks when they’d be short of rent money. Their solution – despite my departure being prompted by one of them telling me to leave – was to keep my bond money. The bond money wasn’t looked at as a deposit that was due back to me, except in limited circumstances. They simply saw the money as a solution to their problem, of not being able to afford rent for the next few weeks until they found another housemate.
In this situation – with Adam wanting more money than is fair, or for rates (which are always an owner’s responsibility) is simply a case of him being short of money himself, so looking around for a solution, even if the “solution” is inappropriate.
I was discussing this with Crab the other night, at length.
She says it stems from people’s desire to twist reality to an insane degree simply for the purpose of justifying their own behaviour – to make themselves appear “right”.
We also took the concept to a situation with someone we both used to work for – PJ – who is currently watching his marriage disintegrate. PJ’s wife is conducting a vicious, ugly war against him. She’s accusing him of threatening violence (for telling her mother to stay away from him during one argument) and refusing him access to his kids. Crab & I have both worked in CSA, so we’ve seen how ugly divorce/custody disputes can get. And in most of them, the parents lose perspective. They’re fighting to fight. They’re simply trying to hurt. Why? I’ve never understood the obsession some people have for beating up their exes. What’s it achieve? And more to the point, how can they justify it?
I have made the decision to give Adam notice and find somewhere else to live. The “contract” he made me sign said I’d give 4 weeks notice, so I’ll do it when I’m next at work (I don’t have his email address at home). The plan is to begin looking again in a fortnight, so I’ll either move straight into the new place, or there may be a short period in between. But with Caerulia going into hospital for a week soon, I was going to have to shift to her place to look after Lucius then anyway.
Living here by myself made me dislike the arrangement, but him charging me for the whole last quarter’s bills (when I was only here from 18 August) more or less decided it for me. Oh, and him wanting me to pay a third of the rates bill. Or is Rome so screwy now that tenants pay for rates? Romans? Is it?
(Post contains considerable YouTube linkage. Not that you’d know, to look at it. But it does)
Last night, Caerulia and I took Lucius and his friend Henry to Duntroon for the Beating of the Retreat and the performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. The last time I saw this performed was when I was about 14. My father, Decimus, was the artillery captain in Novocastria back then. So for Novocastria’s summer festival, he set up the 105mm howitzers of 113 Field Battery in Kind Edward Park and at the climax of the piece, they were firing off into the ocean. I still have a picture of it.
Last night though, the announcer explained the origins of the piece and tied in the church bells, the Tsarist anthem, the significance of the rising and then fading La Marseillaise. Of course, being 8 years old, Henry & Lucius thought it was fantastic, since artillery has that effect on boys. I get the feeling it may become a regular event for those two.
It was also the first time I’ve spent any time at Duntroon since I worked there ten years ago. The year I spent there was pretty bland, but the circumstances of my departure set me on a path that dominated the next few years. Perhaps, just for the sake of a story, I’ll tell that one tomorrow?
After a night’s contemplation about this, I’ve decided I am going to look for somewhere else to live. So if you have a space or know of someone needing a housemate, drop me a line? Ta
As I’ve mentioned before, I live in a house with two other guys – Adam & Keiran. Adam’s a professional geek, and Keiran works with helicopters (something like a chopper technician). Adam this week decided to move across to his girlfriend’s new unit, leaving just me & Keiran. And since Keiran is always either at work, or off at his family farm down south, I’m effectively living alone. Which I don’t like.
I live with others precisely because I don’t like living alone. So I’m starting to wonder if I wish to stay in this house. The location is perfect – just around the corner from Lucius & only ten minutes drive from work – but I’d prefer somewhere which has a likelihood of lasting a while (Adam’s contemplating selling after Christmas) and where I can actually be around other people. Also, when I get my ADSL connected (we’re on Adam’s account here at the moment), I’ll want to be somewhere for a while, otherwise there’s costs associated with setup and cancellations which will be a pain in the butt.
Some bloke has built a 1:20 model of the German WW2 pocket-battleship. And it’s so big, he can travel in it. Have a look. Of course, the obvious question is “why?” but I guess the world’s like that – full of loops who’d spend years on a project most of us would look at for five minutes, think “cool” and then move on.
A couple of weeks ago, I met another blogger. That’s how I’m doing it now, after the failed blog-meet of last month. Now, I meet bloggers one-on-one for coffee to chat and get to know each other a bit offline. Anyway, while having coffee at Tilley’s, he mentioned he was soon off to Bougainville. Except the mention of the place came just after a chat about my habit of naming everything and everywhere in my blog by pseudonyms. So I thought he meant some place he considered to be so full of bogans that he was calling it “Bogan-ville”.
Not everyone thinks the way I do, huh?
There’s obviously people who knows me outside Cyberia, people whose blogs I read or have commented on, people who sail by on a random Google and then hang around a while. And occasionally, there’s something from way out of left-field, like a band I mentioned once a long time ago who began to read (and I’m flattered that they who write such brilliant songs bother with my words).
Just for the record though, if you read here, and I don’t *know* you read, drop me a line. It needn’t be a comment that’s publicly visible. And email to firstname.lastname@example.org is fine. I’m just curious. Why you’re here, and what you like or don’t. Don’t worry. Unlike other bloggers, I have a tough skin so I can handle hearing what people don’t like without turning into a psychotic flame-warrior. I’m just curious.
To everyone else – Hi. I like the readers I know about too. It’s just that I know about only about a quarter of you. Today, I’m nosey about the lurkers.
I don’t remember what prompted me to sign up to it. But I did, about a month ago. And for a while, I thought it was cool. Reminded me a bit of the old SixDegrees site. But like SixDegrees, it wore out its welcome, and now, I’m not all that keen, and I only go on there occasionally.
All those ‘applications’ on it just shit me really. And even though I’m on there as my blog-name, my cyber-name, I still think it’s a little too invasive. I guess I just don’t need it. Don’t need to play the game so many people there play – to treat it as a competition to see how many friends I have. On principle, I only add (or accept addition from) people I either know outside Cyberia or would actually have a drink with. So it’s not doing a lot for me.
Having said that though, I did renew contact with some people because of it. My old friend Princesss (who once found me via a previous incarnation of my blog too) and I have swapped messages because of Facebook. It’s not grabbing me though. God knows how some people get addicted to it. Seems there isn’t enough there to grab me.
Cyberia is a land where normal rules apply, but in fast-forward. A great example is how quickly the latest fad can take hold, can supernova into the greatest thing ever, and then die off almost as quickly. Sometimes though, the fad can swing the other way and create a lot of haters. I read recently about this kind of thing at Darren’s blog. He writes about marketing online but in this post, he wrote about how a viral marketing campaign can backfire and create a lot of hatred amongst the former promoters of the scheme. I suppose that happens in the real world with pyramid schemes and whatever. But in Cyberia, it all just moves so much faster.
Because I am about a fortnight behind in reading many of my subscriptions (but catching up today on a lot of the backlog), the whole BlogRush thing Darren talks about has emerged, peaked and swung back all in that time. So I only read about their huge push and viral marketing campaign earlier this morning. And now, I’m reading of their demise. It’s interesting to see just how fast the rollercoaster has gripped them.
In a number of areas, I’ve allowed my life to wander off on its own, to find its own way, and it’s gone in ways unintended. Sometimes doing this is good, as it means I discover things I’d otherwise not have. But I’ve decided to pull the boat back onto the right course, and steer a little bit once again. And in tightening up control of my world, I’m setting some guidelines (I hate calling them ‘rules’ because we all know I’ll not stick to them). Some are related directly to my blog (such as not letting things like Eve distract me from daily writing); some relate to my other writing projects; some are more lifestyle-path decisions. But for my own benefit, I’m going to document them here in the near future, so I can have my blog as a kind of conscience, keeping me true to the course I wish to follow.
On the drive home this evening, I got a song stuck in my head. I probably haven’t heard it in years, but because I was obsessed with the band for a while back in the 1980s, I know the song well enough to know the words, the chords, even the key change. Somewhere, deep within my packed-away book collection, is even the sheet music. Since I don’t own an mp3 of it though, I had to come home and look it up on YouTube. I hope that cures me, or I’ll have to hit the video store this weekend for something of a Molly Ringwald binge. And that’s just too scary to contemplate.
So sit back, take your mind back to the 80s, and sing along with me.
I recently discovered via the rumour mill that my former friend Sasha is getting married.
Even though he and I aren’t friends anymore, I hope his wedding goes well and I hope he doesn’t suffer the same fate as Caerulia and I, who had some gifts stolen by our best man. Knowing Sasha though, his best man will be his younger brother or someone like that, so he shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
While playing email ping-pong today with my friend Ms Demon (so named because it’s her favourite football team and she’s the only person I know who actually follows them – especially in a year such as this) we got onto the topic of what we’d learnt from failed relationships in our past. Like most, I have plenty of material to choose from when it comes to taking lessons and so I told Ms Demon I’d learnt to avoid women who score too highly on the list of avoidable characteristics. Just for posterity, here’s the list. I should never consider going out with anyone who meets too many of these criteria.
Nurses; teachers; single mothers; girls who are too young (half my age plus 5 – it’s not a rule I made up); anyone with the same first name as someone I’ve previously gone out with; women who have kids I don’t like; Americans; anyone who has gone out with one of my friends; anyone who has a dysfunctional relationship with their parents; anyone who has spent the majority of their life in Judea; Collingwood, West Coast, Adelaide Crows or Kangaroos supporters; anyone who lies a lot to their friends and/or family; anyone who owns or aspires to own a 4WD; anyone who watches reality TV; anyone who refers to her friends as family (to the point of self-deception) and anyone who ever voted Liberal in their entire life (except as a joke).
My problem up to now of course is that even though I was aware that breaking those rules is summoning vast quantites of trouble, I have done it regardless. In Alderney’s case, she broke several of them. In Veronique’s, I remember writing down all the reasons I should never get involved with her – and I broke the rules. But as Ms Demon said, it’s more about what lessons we learn. So hopefully I can.
In 1988, when Astley was soaring up the charts, I was working midnight-dawn shifts at the local radio station. So I got to hear way too much Rick Astley. But I noticed something fascinating: if you play a Kylie Minogue 45 single at 33, it doesn’t sound “a bit like Rick Astley”, it IS Rick Astley. Understandable I guess, given they are both creations of the Stock Aitken Waterman production team. I began to think there was no way of proving what I was saying, but then I discovered this on YouTube. The presenter is speaking German, but you get a good demonstration of the effect.
The day after I moved into the house with Adam & Keiran, Adam blew the data download limit. We have been “shaped” therefore for the last 3 weeks. Today though, we’re back to normality. So I can return to my usual web habits, of reading a whole shiteload of blogs once more. It also means I can return to my addiction of TV Links. Let the happiness return! 🙂
After the end of the war in 1945, the occupied Germany underwent a ‘de-Nazification’ process. Because Party membership was compulsory for many professions after 1937, being a Nazi did not make one an evil person automatically. But Party members had to be assessed as to their involvement in evil acts.
After the death of Stalin in 1953, the Soviet Union had a similar purge of hardline actors who committed crimes. Ideological cleansing also took place, as the communists disowned many of the policies of the Stalin years. Similar disowning of their history happens when many long-serving leaders finally fall (see Bjelke-Petersen’s regime or many eastern European countries at the end of the Cold War).
As I watch the death throes of the current government, I wonder how many of the current Cabinet are trying to cover themselves against the future, against a time when Howard is no longer all-conquering, and their actions are called into question. Especially those around the 2001 “Dark Victory” win.
I’m examining my options for web-hosting. Amongst the possible providers is one that deals exclusively in game-credits from the world of Eve 🙂 Another is a deal which is one of those affiliate deals – so some online mates of mine would get credit out of the deal if I went with that. And of course, there’s deals from my own work.
Whatever I choose, here’s my offer to my blog-friends: If you wish to remove yourself from those big corporate set-ups that limit the customisability (such as WordPress.com) and you want to share my web-space, let me know.
I was chatting to Nick from Whale Sushi the other evening, and he had a similar deal with someone a few years back, where he had a ‘sub-domain’ off someone else’s site when they did something like this (something like http://www.domain.com/crustacean). I also had a blog at http://www.jandell.net/lostlegionary a while back before a falling out with Willett.
But what I’m offering is the use of the space, and if you wanted to then register a domain of your own (www.YourBlogName.com) then you’d do that and point to the space. Setting up the domain will cost you (although it isn’t money you’d pay to me, but to whomever you register it with), but the hosting you wouldn’t pay for. I’d pay the $100-150 a year, you’d get the use of it without needing to pay.
I’ve worked there three days now. It’s a permanent full-time job, so I suspect there’ll be a lot more. The most remarkable thing about the job is I am yet to find a reason to dislike it.
In the past, I worked in an ISP owned by The Evil Empire, which I found to be the most dysfunctional company I’ve ever worked for. Everything the staff said was regimented and scripted. Accepting blame for mistakes was forbidden & they measured ‘rapport’ with customers by how many times the customer’s name was used. Times for shifts, breaks, calls, everything were all measured and staff were answerable for everything they did, however trivial. Customers were routinely lied to (at significant financial cost to them) if the truth conflicted with the corporate image.
Here, mistakes and breakdowns are admitted to. Honesty and fairness to customers is the modus operandi. The customers are dealt with as if they were real people. Nothing is measured except whether the customer base (and therefore revenue) is going up or down. We’re free, not slaves. And the customer’s mood is the indicator of ‘rapport’ – although noone’s listening, so noone’s measuring it anyway.
The pay’s reasonable (not fantastic, but it goes up after 3 months) but the perks like the uncapped broadband account are fabulous. We’ve got complete control over our work PCs (mine’s already got MSN installed, and there’s none of this stupid proxy-server nonsense). I could blog from work if I were so inclined (I haven’t yet, but I may do soon). And today, I found out my boss is a former junkie on Eve – so I’m able to learn more about the game by chatting at work. I also never thought I’d get another job that was so free about my email-ping-pong addiction. 🙂
Anyone want a job?
I may stay a while.
Translation: “to whose benefit?“
Last night, being the night before starting a new job, I tried going to bed early. But it didn’t work. Much was bouncing around in my head. I got up at almost midnight and wrote the post you see here. And even though it didn’t really involve venting or ranting or generally being pissed off with the world and releasing it, I found that just writing it down gave relief.
So in future, when you think I write this blog for you, remember: I do it for me. To help me sleep.
I’m preparing two posts right now. One to tell you all about my new job. One to tell you of the decisions I have come to. But even they, deep down, are really being written for my benefit.
The older I get, the better I come to know myself.
One thing I have learnt from observation is when things in my life are going poorly, I often retreat into some activity that takes up a lot of my time and/or mental energy and block out the compartments of my world that aren’t working.
I probably first noticed it when Caerulia and I were corroding back in 2001/02 and around then, I became an expert in Age of Empires II. And when Huniii was dying and things first went sour with Alderney, I took to Rome: Total War like a Praetorian. Just looking back at one week in May, there are four blog entries in one week. One about how I’d lost the will to blog, the next about being absorbed in the game, the next about the Alderney situation, and then one about Huniii’s death. Illustrates the point brilliantly I guess.
So it’s no real surprise then I’ve now immersed all my spare time in a computer game.
The reality is that for 90% of the time, I don’t even have games installed on my computer. Maybe installing them is a sign all is not right, and I’m seeking a place I can ignore what’s bothering me?
Coincidentally, the same issues of that week in May are bothering me this week. Alderney, Huniii, an addiction to a game and losing my desire to write.
I think the only solution is to make a plan. A plan to change direction, or re-find direction. So I can go forward. To that end, I’ve been thinking. Results of such ponderings in the coming days.
Would you like a free trial of the game? No need for a credit card or anything else. Just drop me a line and I can give you a code for a trial for a fortnight. All you’ll need to do is download the install file (it’s 632Mb so it’s really only for broadband users) and then you’re away. I know a few of my friends have expressed an interest, so drop me an email and I’ll hook you up. Cheers 🙂
When I studied history and politics at uni in the mid 90s, I learnt about the British election of 1945. Despite having just been Prime Minister of Britain through years of war and defeating the Nazi regime, Winston Churchill led his party to an election against Labour’s Clement Attlee, and got wiped out.
It seems that when the war started, a government of national unity was formed, and this meant that both Conservative and Labour leaders were involved in Cabinet. The result was that by 1945, after years of war (and no elections) the senior people in the Labour Party had credibility as alternate leaders for the country. So in that sense, the Conservatives had created their own defeat.
That story has come back to mind today, as I watch our Prime Minister share the limelight with Kevin Rudd. Howard wanted this conference to be his great opportunity to be a ‘statesman’, sharing media coverage with world leaders such as Putin, Bush and many others.
Instead though, the evening news is dominated by things like Kevin Rudd speaking Mandarin at a press conference with China’s Hu Jintao. The week is giving Rudd a chance to stand with such leaders along with the Prime Minister, and he’s coming across as competent and more in tune with the region than Howard.
Tonight though, a great story on the news, as Laurie Oakes claims that Alexander Downer has approached Howard and given him the word. Oakes says Howard will not be Prime Minister by the end of next week. According to the media, the biggest challenge they’ve got is convincing Peter Costello to step up. He sees it as a poisoned chalice apparently – to lead his party in the lead-up to an increasingly inevitable defeat.
It’s making the bet I put on a few months ago – against Howard winning in the seat of Bennelong – look like a good investment. 🙂
A little while ago, a blogger I once linked to made me a suggestion. As well as his blog that I read, he had several others. One of them is all about web marketing, and something called “Search Engine Optimisation” – in other words, he writes a blog about how to boost your ratings with major search engines. Apparently there’s bunches of different tactics and strategies to maximise it. Presumably for ad revenue. In exchange for helping him research and write such articles, he’d give me a percentage of his ad revenue. I thought about it, but in the end, because I was focussed more on my hunting for a proper job, I declined. But it got me thinking, and reading a whole bunch of different blogs on blogs, writing, productivity tips and online marketing. Some of the marketing stuff especially strikes me as the kind of things I wish I’d known when I was managing bands and promoting them online. But ultimately, something like Search Engine Optimisation strikes me as a bit like futures traders – spending all your time dealing with ideas and concepts that aren’t “real”. I’m mildly interested in the ideas of who comes here and why, but to spend vast amounts of time fine-tuning a blog for marketing purposes would drive me insane I think.
I know some of you have done the whole “monetising” your blogs, or otherwise trying to make money online. And I’d like to hear more about your experiences with it. Feel free to share?
The police might not have liked it. But it’s the only aspect of this conference that anyone is actually talking about. 🙂
I start my new gig on Monday, September 10. Because it’s with an IT-related company, it has certain perks as part of the package, including an unlimited (and that means real unlimited, not the pretend-unlimited that passes for unlimited in the marketplace) internet broadband account. So I can once again return to my TV-Links addiction. Oh, and for those of you who missed it when I carried on months ago how good TV Links is, click the link – it’s amazing, I have been converting people on it for months.
Also as part of the deal is staff discounts on things like IT products and web hosting. So those who I’ve spoken to about sharing a deal for web-hosting, I’ll soon be in touch to sort all that out.
I sent the letter of acceptance today. Kind of odd, as I’ve never been officially offered a job in writing before and had to accept, once I’d considered all the benefits and responsibilities. Anyway, it starts off on okay money for three months, then turns into something along the lines of what I was looking for, so it’ll be worth doing.
Oh, and just as an aside, I was on my way out to the Transtiberina job yesterday morning and I went past Rome’s airport. It’s being used as a parking lot for all the dignitaries aircraft this week, while Mos Eisley hosts the APEC summit. Because they had planes there from China, Japan and Russia. I dunno about you, but I think it’s much cooler we’re hosting a visit from Emperor Vladimir of Russia than Prince George of America. I wish my blog had more Russian readers. I’d like to know more Russians. When I managed bands, I befriended a band called Karamazoff Bike from Vladivostok. Caerulia described them as “like A-ha but Russian”.
The last few weeks of hunting for work, I’ve ended up with several applications on the go at once. In my head, I’ve kind of rated which ones I’d like best, and which ones I am mostly indifferent to. Today, number two on that list landed. So the Transtiberina gig only lasted until lunchtime today.
After dilly-dallying around with temp jobs that only lasted a few days here and there, I got a call this afternoon offering me a month-long assignment. It’s not one I’d want to stay with for longer than that month (considering it’s in the Transtiberina) but it’ll do for now, and it’ll pay the bills. But it’ll also mean putting a dampener on my Eve addiction. Still, better than nothing.
Saturday night, since my original plan (looking after Lucius while Caerulia went to the movies) fell through when Caerulia was ill, I had a quiet night at home. And I discovered a game. I’s the first time I’ve ever been hooked on one of those online multiplayer games. I never got into Dark Age of Camelot – which Willett & Javaira tried to teach me. World of Warcraft didn’t grab me. But after reading a recent blogpost of one of my online acquaintances, I decided to try out Eve Online.
I wont write a huge review of the game, for that’s the role of a marketer, and I’m just a n00b player. But I will say it reminds me a lot of Traveller, and that is a huge selling point for the game in getting me hooked. I played it all Saturday evening until the early hours, then Lucius came over Sunday morning, said “Happy Father’s Day” as soon as I answered the door, and then sat down and played Rome: Total War (I introduced him to it on Saturday morning). So my first Father’s Day back in Rome was spent sitting in the sun, reading, while my 8yo killed Greeks and Gauls – perfect really.
I have it on good authority that some people showed at the Wig & Pen. Unfortunately, I failed to make contact during the hour I was there with anyone except Invig – whose blog I hadn’t read before, but who seemed an interesting enough chap. I understand that TJ and Nick both showed, but it was after Invig and I had left. And I’ve just discovered several messages left here from people who had to cancel. All up, a dog’s breakfast. Ah well, might try again another time. But the curse of Roman winters was upon us this evening – where social occasions are all cursed in winter.
I can tell I’m back in Rome when the lady who yesterday interviewed me about a level 4 position in a government department this evening served me fish and chips.
For those who aren’t familiar with it, The-RiotAct is an interactive news-site for people of Rome. But recently, one of the funniest stunts I’ve seen in a long time was on their site. It seems someone’s been posting free ads in the newspaper, requesting silly items. Go over there, and have a read.
Reminds me of when I used to manage Trouser Trouser, and the drummer used to delight in getting silly news items into the local street-press. One of his best was a press release saying the band had just finished a recording deal to provide soundtracks for porn films – one of Rome’s greatest exports.
I’ve been back in Rome five weeks. Time to assess the decision?
The house-hunting went quite smoothly, even though I did have periods of worrying that I’d made the wrong decision and I’d be stuck with the consequences for ages. But I’ve been mostly in the new place for this week and it’s been good. Adam and I are both net-geeks, so we’re going to upgrade the ADSL account to get a higher data limit. I’ve also found I sleep much better here – I suspect my allergy to Lucius’ cat was the issue there.
The job-hunt started slowly. I initially went to 2 agencies (Select & Hays). Then expanded to include a few more (Hudson, Kowalski and others). Hays gave me four days work, then Hudson gave me two, and another two this week. Kowalski, Hudson, Hays & Select* have all sent me to interviews. With mixed results. But nothing solid and long-term has materialised, so last week, I started applying for jobs out of the newspaper. A few of those turned into interviews, and we’ll see how they turn out.
* Select only did anything after they sent me a survey form asking for feedback, and I replied saying they’d done nothing in 4 weeks. So they have sent me to two jobs in the Transtiberina area, miles from where I live, and for one of them, they gave me the wrong brief of what the job was anyway. Considering how useless their Jerusalem office is, I now conclude this is an across-the-company form of uselessness they specialise in.
Because the financial situation plays out into everything else, until it gets sorted, I’m still keeping several other projects on hold. Which is frustrating, but unavoidable.
Even though the plan hasn’t gone exactly according to how I’d have liked, there’s not been any time that I’ve regretted doing it. I made the decision in October last year and didn’t carry it out until July. The reason I delayed it so long is something I read in a book last year about delaying major life-decisions for 90 days – so there is time to change one’s mind if the decision seems like a mistake. This move back to Rome though is a decision that I wouldn’t revoke.
I’m sure I am the last person on Earth to have seen it. But I took Lucius and one of his mates to see the Simpsons movie on the weekend. And I have to say I was disappointed. It was good to see it on a big screen, and maybe that’s why the animation looked different to when it’s on TV. But given the fanfare the movie had, and that in a lot of respects, the TV show is such high quality, I expected the movie to be “more”. I guess I just felt that 70 minutes wasn’t long enough, since we get to see half hour episodes all the time, and the storyline was too similar to one of the TV episodes – admittedly, my favourite episode thus far – El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer (also known as “the episode with Johnny Cash as the Coyote”).
The boys I took to the cinema enjoyed it though, but maybe if the movie had been longer, they’d not have thrown out 2/3 of their popcorn and drinks – since they didn’t get enough time in there to scoff their munchies.
I would like my own domain name. I would like to get some web-space hosted and run WordPress locally, rather than running through WordPress.com. It will allow me more control over my content and the overall look and direction of my blog.
I’ve looked into it and two issues stand out.
One is a potential problem – I am not sure I know enough about what I am doing to do the management of setting up and operating WordPress on my own site.
The second issue is that the kind of web-hosting I want would supply me with *heaps* more space and data-transfer capacity than I would possibly use.
I figured therefore I’d solve the problem by utilising the second issue. Translation: I will share my additional capacity with some friends so they can help with the technical side of things.
So here’s the deal.
If you would prefer your blog be raised up from working in WordPress.com or Blogger, you can share my space. In exchange for assistance with setting up and operating the set-up. Fair call?
(All friends and colleagues I have invited to be part of this arrangement – you’re still in. This is just an exercise in expanding the small team)
As some of you will know, one of my friends died three months ago.
In the months before she died, she wrote a blog-post which would appear shortly after her death as her way of telling her friends that the story was over.
For several months, since the death, odd things were happening. Some of us had received invites to join web services which supposedly came from her. I’d noticed that someone was using some of her online accounts. Originally, the theory was that her disappearance, and possibly even her death, were not as they had appeared. She was not that sort of duplicitous person though.
Yesterday though, one of her “friends” began adding to her blog. They’d hacked her password and so were able to edit her WordPress site. I have therefore removed her link from my blogroll. For it is no longer her site, but a pretender’s.
Only a true friend I presume would hack a dead person’s accounts to use them for their own purposes. Like all scum, I am sure they’re telling themselves the positive spin of why they are doing what they are doing, but what they are doing is disrespectful to her, and lying to everyone else. And I don’t care what their justification is, it contradicts what she wanted. She always told me she thought that after her death, her friends were not to be trusted. It seems she was right.
I didn’t want to be the one making decisions, because it might look like I was being dictatorial, but in the absence of anyone else making a decision, I’ve made one.
It’ll be at 7pm Friday 31 August in the Wig & Pen.
Interest in the event has been expressed by Mick, Enny, Crazybrave, Andrew, Nick, Stephen, Nathaniel and AmpersandDuck so far. So hopefully it can be a nice evening of swapping stories, bragging and consuming stout. Of course, all are welcome.
In the interests of recognising each other (I know some of you have met before), someone suggest a theme – odd headgear or something similarly daft?
In 2004, I was living in Jerusalem in the leadup to the election. Back then, Labor‘s leader was Mark Latham who I had gotten to know when I worked in Beazley’s office and so I wanted him to win. Well, I was an eight-year veteran within the Labor Party at that stage, so I guess I wanted us to win even if our leader was Tinky Winky Teletubby. But Mark being the leader gave me a personal reason beyond the ideological one.
During the weeks leading up to the calling of the election, I had identified, amongst my circle of friends, a few people – maybe half a dozen – who were also committed to the cause and so when the campaign period hit, I’d be able to mobilise them to help. For those of you who haven’t worked on political campaigns, I’ll tell you that every extra body is a valuable asset. I met the campaign managers for two seats in northern Jerusalem – both held by the Government by less than 3% – and for the seat of a local Labor front-bencher. So what I was offering the campaign managers was a significant resource.
During the six week campaign, I rang each of the campaign managers more than once and the sum total of requests I got for myself and my slaves was to help hand out “how-to-vote” cards on election day – for *another* party that Labor was assisting.
It took me a long time to work out why this happened. Why our side had just wasted their potential in provincial marginal seats. And the reasoning came down to one man – the local Judean Governor – King Peter.
At a state level, the provincial leader is so popular, so media-friendly, that he waves his magic wand, and delivers victory. At the level of the local campaigns on the ground, the party workers have come to believe that nothing they do will affect the result, because the election will be decided somewhere else. They can sit on their arses and someone will hand them a win.
I can’t say this will happen again. But given Peter’s continued dominance in Judea at the provincial election last Spring, there’s no reason to believe it wont. I’ve asked people within the higher echelons of the party organisation what has been done to avoid this problem this time around, and got brushed off. Only the member for Jerusalem bothered to respond and discuss the matter with me in detail.
I know a lot of my friends who read here are fans of Crowded House. So I’m posting an entry I read this morning. It’s an American who has never seen them live, but got the chance this week and has written quite a long review of the gig and meeting the band afterwards. She’s also linked to more of their songs than I ever knew existed on YouTube (probably to help out all the people who have no idea who Neil and the lads are). And of course, I’m intensely envious of her.
In response to allegations Kevin Rudd went to a strip club in New York, Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Greens said “Four years ago Kevin Rudd got drunk and took himself into a strip club. Four years ago John Howard, sober, took Australia into the Iraq war. I think the electorate can judge which one did the more harm.”
Following on from my post about my adventures cleaning up Caerulia’s PC, my cousin Marquis responded with such a long comment I’ve decided to include it here as a guest post. So take it away Marquis…
Here’s my list of “must do’s” for keeping any net connected PC clean. Will try to keep it brief and simple but forgive me if I ramble on a bit. Please note that all product endorsements are my own based simply on personal experience. Every computer is different and an application which runs well on one computer may slow another one down for various reasons.
Keep your operating system and browser up-to-date with the latest security patches and service packs. The majority of viruses and spyware attack known vulnerabilities and succeed in infecting because people haven’t followed this simple rule. With 92% of operating systems out there being MS Windows, most of your readers will find the site below useful. It will scan and update Windows, IE and your MS Office applications:
After that, you can set Windows to update automatically.
If you’re using a different browser than IE, it’s vital to ensure it’s also kept up-to-date with the latest version/patches. Many people argue that Firefox etc. are more secure. Without getting into a flamewar, I’d argue that all of the browsers are targets for exploit and have new vulnerabilities identified all the time so it doesn’t really matter which one you use, as long as you keep it patched – and continue to keep IE patched regardless since you’re stuck with it.
Run a firewall. You can run one on your ADSL router and/or the PC itself. Best practice is to use both and restrict access both inbound and outbound to services/applications which are required. Doing this properly may be a little too technical for many people, but it’s a definite must.
Run anti-virus and anti-spyware and ensure you are running the latest version with the latest virus definitions. A regular weekly full-system scan should be run and real-time protection should scan files as they are accessed.
For antivirus, I’ve always found AVG to be very good (and free). AVG also make free antispyware and anti-rootkit tools but I’ve never used them and so can’t comment.
For antispyware, I use Windows Defender which seemed to be the best thing on the market when MS bought them out. Whether or not they’ve managed to ruin a good thing, I’m yet to see 🙂
MS Windows Defender:
Backup. Regularly… and occasionally check that the data is actually recoverable.
- Don’t open emails from an unrecognised source – delete them
- Don’t open attachments that seem suspicious
- Don’t click on links in emails unless the source can be trusted
- Don’t click on links in pop-up ads just close them down
- Don’t believe the hype – those people from Nigeria aren’t really in need of your bank account details 🙂
- When entering sensitive information like credit card details, ensure the connection is securely encrypted (little padlock in the bottom right hand corner for Internet Explorer users) etc.etc…
A few tools I like to use are:
Ad-aware and Spybot S&D
Microsoft Security Baseline Analyser:
TrendMicro Housecall – an online virus scanner which I like to run once a month to double-check that I’m not infected- some viruses can disable your antivirus itself without it being apparent, so an independant third-party scan occasionally can help to identify such issues.
A really good site for posting these kinds of questions is:
I’ll willingly give it a free plug here since I’m a regular contributer. It’s got forums for just about any geeky issue you can imagine and it often saves re-inventing the wheel or learning long, hard, lonely lessons.
I wrote about it several times when it was first in the media, and it seems that the suspicions of my local member were correct. The Immigration Minister has been overruled by a court, and Doctor Haneef’s work visa has been restored. Actually, I’ll fully expect now that the Minister and his pathetic colleagues in cabinet will find another way to throw their weight around and further harass this guy. It certainly has sunk their “tough on national security” credibility when they have their own courts ruling they acted with nothing more than “a cynical use of power”. The full article that I have just had emailed to me is below the fold.
I was having a problem last week. Even though Caerulia’s PC uses Firefox as the default browser, Internet Explorer pop-ups kept appearing every few minutes, slowing down the connection severely (it’s already bad enough on dial-up). My usual remedy – Ad-Aware – didn’t seem to be cutting it. So I had some new things to learn about resolving the problem. Here’s what I ended up doing.
All computer users should have these kinds of people – peers who know a hell of a lot more about computers than I do. Once upon a time, I’d consult them all the time, but nowadays, I only rely on them when I get stuck with something. Here’s what I put to them:
Hey geek friends (sounds a bit like “Super-friends” but with less capes and lycra huh?)
For years, I have used Ad-Aware to get rid of evil pop-ups, but now I’m using Caerulia’s PC while mine is in hibernation, the Ad-Aware doesn’t seem to be cutting it, and I keep getting stupid pop-ups appearing in IE (despite only using Firefox!) all the time when I’m online.
Is there a successor to Ad-Aware in the war against pop-ups that I should know about?
What’s the latest strategies?
Marquis suggested this, because the pop-ups were happening in IE, despite me using Firefox. He figured that since the pop-ups were running IE to operate, if we disabled their ability to run the program, it might stop. But it didn’t help, and according to Marquis (who wasn’t sure it’d work anyway) Windows renames it back because it’s too central to the operating system to be absent.
By the way, this wasn’t Marquis’ only contribution, but it was the only one I actually understood – he’s much more technical than I am, and a lot of his suggestions were deep Windows hacks that I dare not try on Caerulia’s PC without adult supervision.
Mick suggested using this little application, HiJackThis. It doesn’t resolve the problems, but it does do quite a bit of diagnostic work and spits out a little text file which Mick was able to use to identify at least two problems – trojans – that needed to be removed. So I did that with one, but the other wouldn’t delete, because Windows was using it. Does anyone know how to start up the PC when it’s got WinXP without going into Windows? Like the old “Boot into DOS” option?
Dudley suggested Spyware Doctor. I downloaded it, and quickly realised it wasn’t going to be much good unless I paid to register it. Fortunately though, being broke meant I shot back an email to him telling him this, so he called my attention to the text file he’d attached to his original email – which included the code for activating the program. *slap forehead* So I was able to run the program and test it out.
And I have to admit, it was terribly thorough. It cleaned out thousands of files, and since then, I have gone more than a week without a single pop-up interrupting life.
The whole process took several hours, spread over 2-3 days. And without the geek collective, I doubt I’d have had much success. So a big thankyou to all of them.
I’ll now throw the forum open though – what do others use to keep their systems clean? (Yes, I will be taking notes and trying them out next time I run into a problem)
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to try out this ‘Stumble Upon” web cult. It works a bit like this: you have a toolbar on your browser when you’re cruising the web, and when you see a site you like, you give it the ‘thumbs up’ sign. By adding your friends to the network (viral marketing??) you can share direct with your friends, or browse each other’s lists of cool sites.
After a few weeks, I’ve discovered some cool sites, so I’ll start sharing the best of them here. Because let’s face it – we all like to find cool shit online, yeah? Oh, and if anyone wishes to add me to their network, my SU username is Aurelius71.
- First is the world sunlight map – a real-time “photo” of the whole world, with clouds and day/night clearly shown, as it’s much easier than trying to work out timezone differences;
- Next, some amusing ones (or insightful, depending on your point of view) including the God FAQ, a collection of stupid exam answers (some of these are old, but some aren’t), some weird graffiti and
- a cool web-based star-map program;
- a good online speed-tester to find out how good your net connection is;
- a site that shows some people have too much time and imagination (tree sculptures); and
- a site examining some of the oddest artifacts that historians are still trying to explain.
It’s raining today so my move around the corner is delayed until the weather is more suitable. But today, I have other things on my mind – I’m going to a second-interview for one of the jobs I’ve been chasing, and Lucius is sick today, so I’ve got him here (playing Lego Star Wars on the PS2 all morning).
I’ve just had a reminder though why this is one of my favourite times of year. Because I went to the letterbox, and the junk mail catalogues today are from:
- an electrical store (selling computers & accessories, TVs, DVDs etc);
- a store that sells BBQs and outdoor furniture;
- another electronic store;
- a men’s clothing store;
- a department store having a huge sale on movies;
- two from stores selling auto accessories; and
- a office supply store (selling computer desks, office chairs and of course computers and accessories).
All this aimed at people wanting to buy Fathers Day gifts for next month. In other words, they’re all items aimed at my demographic – things to keep people like me happy. As I said, best time of year!
Once upon a time, there used to be a big glass cube (about the size of a car) in the middle of Rome. It was audio-sensitive, so it would light up in different colours depending on the noises around it. Predictably I guess, late at night, drunken teenage boys would yell at the cube as they walked or drove past.
But now, I hear the cube is gone. In the cube’s memory, I’m going to buy one of these shirts from ThinkGeek, now that my cashflow has been restored, and wander the city reacting visually to loud noises.
It’s quite odd to see what has changed in Rome while I have been away. Wandering the city in the last few weeks, it’s clear some of the shops I used to frequent have gone under. But some excellent new places have risen up. The city-scape has changed a lot, with new office buildings where carparks and wasteland used to be. And of course, the central mall in Rome has tripled in size (which is a good thing since it now includes a decent cinema and a Nandos store).
When asked why R.E.M. never printed their lyrics on their liner notes, Michael Stipe explained that a song is not just the words. It’s the music. And the way the song fits between the song before it and the song after it. And the ambiance and mood of the entire album. I guess also, in the case of Stipe, the sense of mystery about the actual words is emphasised, since he sings like he’s got marbles in his mouth. So I can understand why the question would have been asked.
There’s a similar idea behind why I don’t like reading blogs via RSS feeds. The removal from the overall context means – for me anyway – some of the point is lost. If that weren’t the case, why would so many of us care about the template we use, about the colours and the overall presentation of our sites? The way the words we write fit within the overall page is part of the whole package. It matters.
Maybe that’s why I feel uneasy to find today that someone has been using my words here in lectures recently as part of a university course.
In the last few days, some good things have happened, and at least one bad thing. I’m trying though to concentrate on the good.
I began to be paid for some of the work I’ve done recently, and that means that for the first time since I arrived back in Rome, I’ve had money. Money to get things started with the plans. And that means that I’m now in the process of moving around the corner, where I’ll be living with Adam the Geek and Keiran the aircraft-fitter.
I’d begun to wonder about the suitability of the place, but I’m a lot more comfortable with it now. So I’ll move over the next few days.
My friend Olivia recently bought a better car, and so she’s been looking for someone to take over her old one. Since the Lancer is dead, pending surgery, and I’ll probably need a car to get to work, I’ve taken her old car, and took it for a drive this afternoon to get used to it. It’s got a few flaws (I can’t seem to turn the heater off for example, nor can I tune the radio) but nothing that’ll be a major problem to sort out or ignore.
Also, do you know that if you try and renew your licence in Rome, having been out of the city for a while and let it expire, they need proof of residency in the city? Except if you move back to the address on the expired licence. In that event, they don’t care.
So I told them I was living at a house I haven’t lived at for 3 years, and they renewed my licence, and then in a week, I’ll go in and tell them I’ve moved. Stupid, but easier than finding evidence of where I live.
The negative this week is Alderney back in one of her “I can’t leave Jerusalem” moods. Rather than debate it, I’m ignoring it. Easier to deal with. Especially since it’s her mother playing the “I’m sick, Don’t leave me” routine. I should make a rule for myself of only ever getting involved with orphans. Because too many women I know haven’t developed mature sensible relationships with their mothers, and it always seems to get in the way. But then, I make plenty of rules for myself, and break them. The real rule I need for myself is to stick to my path and not let myself get distracted by shiny things. Or soft squishy pretty ones. 🙂
This week, I got a few days work. But since they were way out in Fyshwick, I had to catch a bus. Standing at the bus-stop on the first morning, I noticed that most of the drivers that went past were mostly empty. Surely it wouldn’t be hard to have a car-pooling service, a website where drivers and passengers could link up. Later in the morning, I texted half a dozen of my friends asking if such a service would be viable, and did my friends think it would work?
Tonight, Mick sent me an email telling me someone else had had the same idea. Have a read of what Nathaniel has had to say about it and give him feedback. Because he’s clearly thought about it a lot more than me, and even has some idea how it might work.
Will’s got a theory. I was telling DryEyedCrab this tonight, and she pointed out that Will seems to have a lot of theories. And the fact is, he does. This one I was telling the Crab about tonight is about how men and women, despite thousands of years of “civilisation” still think quite primitively in many respects.
As a result of this, when women want someone to follow a particular course, they threaten ostracism. Because there is nothing they themselves fear more than being completely alone, separated from the tribe.
Whereas with men, they don’t fear ostracism much at all. If a man finds himself alone, it’s reflective time. We convince ourselves we’re like “Old Ben” living as a hermit out beyond the Dune Sea. We’re like Jesus wandering the desert for 40 days. It’s a time of meditation. Nothing to fear at all. We view alone-time more like something to be savoured, anticipated and relished.
The word going around Rome is that the Liberals have booked slabs of advertising time for late October. Which I think will mean a late October election. Ah, I’m glad I’ve returned home in time for the games to begin.
Last year, while working in Jerusalem, DryEyedCrab and I used to swap novels – we’d read something and if it was good, the other would read it. That way, we could discuss the books we were reading with someone else, someone literate (an all-too-rare attribute in Jerusalem, or at least in the bit we worked in). One of the first books Crab got me to read was A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I wont go into a lot of detail about the book, but its central character – Ignatius Reilly – is a fantastically unique literary creation. Ignatius despairs of the world and modern culture. He attends the cinema every day in order to document the moral degradation he sees there. He writes to corporations to complain about everything imaginable and trivial. He exhibits hatreds of the most ridiculous things, including Greyhound buses. And he feels beseiged by modern society and likes to think he stands apart from all its flaws.
I say this because Crab & I recently discovered a blogger who we think is Ignatius. He uses a different name of course, but I’m pretty convinced he is Ignatius. Go check him out and you’ll see what I mean.
Ever have one of those days where things just shit you? I usually get them on Tuesdays. But today, I copped it a day early. Stuff like:
- Going to a job interview where the agency said it was one thing, and it’s something differently entirely, including worth $15K less;
- Trying to get my favourite sub only to find out that Subway have ditched it from their menu;
- Re-discovering Rome’s awful public transport system, and it’s as bad as I remembered or possibly worse, especially outside peak hours;
- Uncertainty about which of the two new houses I want to move to – pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, good and bad;
- Drafting several blog posts but them not coming out the way I want; and finally..
- At the beginning of the year, I got a new phone. A second phone. With Optus instead of Vodafone. I figured that all the companies suck, it’s just a matter of degree. And I wanted another number because, actually, I don’t remember why, but I did. So I got an Optus pre-paid and hardly used it. Until I was dating Alderney, and her ability to call Optus numbers for free was useful, because she could use that number. So she was the only person I gave the number to. In fact, if I need the number for whatever reason, I have to go hunting through my g-mail account to find the email I sent to myself telling me the number.
As some of you may know, when registering a pre-paid SIM card, you give your address as part of the process. I did. And after I’d had the Optus SIM for a few weeks, I started getting calls. A girl asking if I was someone (I don’t remember what the name was) from <my Jerusalem address>. And when I said I wasn’t, and she had the wrong number, she would hang up. Before I could ask more details, to find out who she was or who the person she was looking for was.
Because no-one except someone who has access to Optus’ database would be able to link that number to that address, I assumed it was an Optus employee who was trying to track down a previous resident of my place.
Since then though, I’ve been receiving calls (originating number suppressed) in bursts – several in one day, then nothing for a week. The phone rings once, then stops. Happens every time. So I rang Optus and complained tonight.
Result: they claimed none of their employees would do something like that (because we all know if you work for a phone company, your ethics are impeccable) but they changed my number anyway. But I had to debate with them about the $50 fee they usually charge to change a number.
See – the world’s just pissing me off today. Must be a sign I need an early night. So goodnight everyone.
For a while, I was planning to move in with Mick. He’s in a similar situation to me, and so it made sense to help each other out by sharing a place. But for various reasons, that plan doesn’t look like happening. So a few nights ago, I went trawling AllHomes looking for a place. When I did, I emailed a whole bunch of people.
One emailed me back – Chris. He is older than I am and had a place about 3-4 streets from Caerulia & Lucius’ place. So I went to see him yesterday. He was a nice bloke, with a nice place, so we said I’d move in this coming week.
But last night, I got a text from someone I’d emailed – Adam. Of all the places I’d emailed, Adam’s was the only one that I thought to myself “If I could have that one, I’d prefer it to Chris’.” So naturally, when I went there this morning and met Adam, he jumped to the top of the list. Why? Simple. Two reasons. He has broadband & his place is 5 or 6 houses from Lucius. Close enough that it makes everything much easier. But Adam wants to speak to the other housemate about it. So I’ll know tomorrow.
A while back, I wrote about some of the lads from two bands I used to manage (Crumpet & Trouser Trouser) working together and doing a podcasted interview. I not sure if any of you actually downloaded and listened to the podcast, but for those of us who know the lads (actually, amongst the readership of my blog, I think that’s just me and maybe Ch@s?) it was nice to hear what they were up to.
This morning though, while browsing around the web in a bored and aimless manner, I found a website for Wedded Bliss. From what I can gather, Wedded Bliss is the new band that Blair from Crumpet has. But it’s not just him, as there are at least one (maybe two?) former Crumpies in there with him. Which is awesome, because they were the most excellent band in Rome back in the 90s. Anyhoo, their website has downloadable samples of their music if any of you would like to check them out. And they’re doing a gig at the Wanniassa Tavern, if anyone wants to go. *nudge* to Chas & Mick…
I moved to WordPress for two reasons.
The first was that I wanted a fresh start. I was setting out on a new journey, and starting anew was a symbolic way of highlighting that change. My previous blog (The Lost Legionary) was based on the persona of a Roman legionary who was lost and had found himself in a place where he was so different to those around him that he was like the literary Yankee in Arthur’s Court. In returning home though, I was coming back to a world where I knew people, where I had long-established friendships and I was coming back with a plan, a sense of purpose. Hence why I named this new blog what I did.
The other reason I moved from Blogger to WordPress though was to lose some readers.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that some people who read my blog do it for the wrong reasons. And when I moved, I hoped they’d lose interest and go away. But of course, when I installed a proper stat-tracker, I found they hadn’t gone away. So I addressed the issue, at the same time I spent a bit of time with some people who were “collateral damage” in the dispute from Autumn 2006. The result? I now know that some undesirable people read my blog. But I no longer care. By writing what I did, I exorcised the demons. I could tell my readers what I thought, and release it. And it released the negativity for me as well. In a much stronger way than I thought was possible.
I was thinking about that this week. Thinking about how many writers in blog-land have packed up and vanished. Either for short siestas or have disappeared entirely. Some I still miss. And so often, the reason behind their departure is inappropriate or immature behaviour on the part of others, especially those who do not understand the nature of blog-land. I know that the solution I reached – unload your thoughts, and then ignore the poison – wont work for everyone because situations and people are different. So I’m throwing it open to everyone who reads here. With some simple questions.
- Do you have readers who you wish you didn’t?
- If you do, or if you did, what strategies would you put in place to deal with it?
I’ve been compiling some links to share with you. Because I trawl a lot of websites when I’m meant to be finding work, I find some interesting stuff. So here’s a small amount of it. The best stuff I’ve found in the last week or so.
Here we have a great example of how to alienate your suppliers and ruin your own business (as well as break the law).
Next, some of the coolest stuff on Google Earth. The one about the jet fighter in the carpark baffles me.
Second Rotation allows you to see how much your items are worth, without actually needing to put them up for sale on Ebay. Even better, if you like their quote, you can sell the item direct to the company, and they’ll list it on Ebay and get their money back. (I sussed out my crappy iPod Shuffle and Second Rotation said they’d give me $10 for it – not much, but it is two years old, only 512Mb and has been superseded by newer and better models. It’s more useful to me than $10 though, so I didn’t take the cash)
This next site though is seriously cool. Ever wanted to write your name in Elvish?
Nothing to say.
Have just spent almost four hours de-spywaring Caerulia’s PC. Maybe I’ll write a novel about it? It seems clean now though.
Tonight, as I sit here, listening to Caerulia in the next room watching Crowded House’s farewell gig on DVD, a number of questions are in my head.
- Why did my readership soar on Friday well into triple figures?
- Why does WordPress say one of my visitors got here from googling “big smelly jobbies” when I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase? (Just so you know, most other google visitors here arrive because they’re searching on the lyrics to “Throw Your Arms Around Me”)
- While I understand that the top countries I have readers in would be Australia, the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand, how the fuck do the next five countries make any sense? (Bulgaria, Singapore, Israel, Uganda and Italy)
- Why are there many fewer male bloggers than female? (Something Mick asked me on Wednesday night)
I found this over at the Accidental Environmentalist.
As outlined below, I’ve just moved to Rome, and am seeking a new job. I’ve run into a problem today though.
Monday morning next week, I am meant to start a temp assignment at one federal government department. It’s only for 3 days, and is unlikely to extend beyond next Wednesday.
But I just got a call, and *another* agency has lined up an interview with another federal government department for 9.30 Monday morning. This position is for a longer contract – several months.
What would you do? Comments and suggestions please
Having met Mick last night for the first time, it was interesting to swap stories of what we thought of different blogs we both read. And we gave each other some recommendations.
Two in particular I recommended to Mick were Jobe, and Indiana. Especially Indiana’s bucket theory post, which I still think is one of the best things I have ever read on a blog. If you haven’t read either of these, have a visit.
We also discussed some blogs we both like (Yes, we mean you Steph) and some we actually don’t like. (I wont link to them, that might be rude)
And another thing, I’ve been wondering lately
Oh baby, tell me where have you been?
Last night, I met Mick and we went to see the Hoodoo Gurus at The Venue. The evening was excellent. Unlike Mick, I didn’t have the downer of running into an ex-girlfriend at the gig. But he seemed to cope okay with it. And we ended up in the extreme front of the crowd – so close we could read the set-lists in front of the band. Not that it meant anything, as the set list said they’d start with Bittersweet and they opened with Come Anytime. Noone was complaining though. In fact, the only complaint I have from the whole night is that we were so close to the speakers that my ears are ringing and buzzing quite seriously today.
The highlight of the Gurus’ set was when they did the extended live version of Leilani (a song that is good on CD, but soars to new heights live, especially with the tribal-sounding percussion). As always happens, the quiet bit in the middle of the song came along, and just as Dave was going to re-start the song with “Katoomba, Hey! Macumbah, Ho!” someone in the audience yelled out at the perfect moment “Kum-ba-ya!” and cracked Brad and Dave up, so Dave sprinkled “Kumbaya my Lord” into the middle of the song.
Gurus gigs are usually fun nights, and this one was certainly the best I’d seen them. It was their first gig in months, and the set-list was only a serving suggestion. Dave called for requests about three songs, but we couldn’t suggest songs that were singles. A guy in the front row asked for Son of a Gun, which they obliged him with. They played all the usual fare, plus some of their newer stuff that I didn’t know (since I don’t know anything from after their 1997 farewell tour). It was all excellent though, and I hope to have my hearing back to normal by the end of the week.
Oh, and to any overseas readers who don’t know about the Gurus, check them out here.
In Jerusalem, I temped for Select. I was sent on a three-week assignment for them in August 2005 with the provincial Government, and I stayed just short of two years. In that time, I found Select Jerusalem to be ridiculously inefficient, but it didn’t matter because my manager at the government office made everything run smoothly. Before leaving Jerusalem for Rome, I contacted the Rome office, and was told everything would be smooth to transfer over and get an assignment in my (re)new home town.
So as soon as I arrived in Rome, I went to see them. They were keen, but two weeks later, haven’t managed to get my file transferred from Jerusalem. To be fair, this could be the incompetence of the Jerusalem office, but it hardly instills faith in the locals.
The same day I went to see the Roman Select people, I went for a preliminary meeting with Hays. They were much more cooperative and I held more faith that they’d deliver something. In fact, since that day, I’ve had 3-4 calls from Hays asking if I wanted to be put forward for positions, and none from Select.
Monday this week, having left Select and Hays to sniff out vacancies for me, I tried something new. I sent letters to all the employment agencies in the Yellow Pages. Result: a phone call Monday afternoon asking me to go see Sarah at Ambit.
So Tuesday first thing, I went and Sarah suggested a vacancy with the Evil Empire. And since I’m not that keen on the location or the company, I felt a bit despondent. I wandered the city (and Rome’s really bleak some mornings, this was one of them) and then decided to head back to Caerulia’s rather than spend all day in the city waiting for her to finish work. But the phone rang – Min Ai from Hudson wanted to speak to me. So I went into their office, did an interview and some tests (better results than usual) and met some of their people. They suggested some jobs they wanted to put me forward for. Hudson made a good impression, and I know Alderney found them good when she dealt with them in Jerusalem.
While doing the tests, another company I’d emailed on Monday rang – Kowalski Recruitment. So I made an afternoon appointment, and after lunch, I went in and saw them too. More tests, even better results than in the morning, and more jobs they wanted to put me forward for – including an office manager job out in the industrial sector of Rome (almost across the Tiber).
This morning, I got another call from Hays, and they offered me a few days work next week. Sure, it’s not a long-term thing, but it’s a good indicator they’re actively seeking options for me. And I’m broke enough that three or four days paid work will be something worth getting out of bed for.
Will talks about ‘lifeboat’ strategies. In other words, he speaks of planning for the worst scenarios. If minor problems occur, we’ll have the kinds of systems in place, and our worlds constructed the right way, so we can ride out storms. While some might see this as a morbid view of the future. But let me illustrate Will’s position with a story he once told me:
Imagine you’re a chap named Noah. God says to you one day to build an ark and save the animals from a flood. You look at what you’ll need to carry out this project: lots of wood, animal husbandry skills, boat building skills, a good food supply aboard the boat.
But what if the light and voice from the clouds was in your imagination? What if it doesn’t really happen? You go back to your economics training and do a cost/benefit analysis.
If there’s a flood and you build the ark: Survival
If there’s a flood and you don’t build the ark: Destruction
If there’s no flood and you build the ark: End up with a big boat, a pile of food, a boat-building business, a sawmill and sons who’ll probably end up becoming vets due to having to learn how to care for all the animals
If there’s no flood and you don’t build the ark: You go about life as normal before the light in the clouds spoke
Whether the flood happens or not, you’re ahead by building the boat. So being a rational person, as the economists would define you, you build the ark.
What Will illustrates in the story is that the measures we should take to minimise our exposure to damage, and our reliance on things beyond our control, are going to – even if the world around us doesn’t go pear-shaped – benefit us in the long-run. So is there a valid reason not to do them?
Possible jobs are slowly emerging. I’d forgotten though how Rome moves at a pace the rest of the world would describe as positively tectonic. There’s a policy job with one government department, a research job with a charity and another I’m going to check out in the morning. And each moves at their own pace with their own processes. All I can really do is wait. So I have a lot of time to myself.
One way I’m filling that time is rediscovering cooking. It’s been a while since I had a gas-fired kitchen at my disposal. Tonight, I’m making a lamb roast for Caerulia, Lucius and myself. A lot of food, so it’ll be quite a feast hopefully. We invited Olivia, but she had a rough weekend, so is taking this evening to relax and get her head back together. Anyone else feel like coming by for a roast lamb? To keep Sam Kekovic happy?
(Can my North American readers confirm whether lamb is eaten over there? Someone told me ten years ago that Americans ate very little lamb, so I’ve been wondering?)
Another way I’m filling in time this week is to re-examine the list of writing projects I want to get stuck into. I’ve got two ideas for novels I want to write (one is a planned co-writing with Ch@s – I need to chat to him about that), I want to get started on the interviews for the book about my father, and I want to write some short stories of the “space pirate” genre for Lucius. Especially given his recent discovery of bad sci-fi tv shows.
Back at the темная ноча entry, I spoke about what Will envisages as the worst-case scenario: complete breakdown of western civilisation. I should point out though that I do not believe this is the most likely outcome. Far more probable is the degradation of what we have. Slow, gradual erosion. Sliding further away from the Star-Trek future that the geeks of the world would like to believe is our fate.
If we look at areas of the first world where things have gone wrong – and the storms that hit my hometown in last month are a great illustration of this – what we find is that the great “backup” that we think we have in our governments is simply not there. The governments almost consistently are more concerned with maintaining public order. Governments do not have plans to cope with the erosion of infrastructure and services.
So if we cannot rely on governments to help us, who can we rely on?
As in the Novocastrian situation last month, or the fires that went through Rome a few years ago, or any other situation, the only people we can really rely on are our friends and family.
It is for this reason that I have returned to Rome.
In Jerusalem, I was vulnerable. When I needed help with anything, I was alone. In some circumstances, I could get Jim to assist, but only really in situations where there was direct benefit to him. He was that kind of person. And although there were people I could have fostered the kind of friendship that would be useful for helping each other out with things, the reality was that those kinds of relationships for me existed really only in Rome. After all, when I discovered last week that the provincial government had screwed up and invalidated my licence, all I had to do was call Will, and within a day, he flew to Jerusalem to pilot me home. In Jerusalem, I didn’t have someone who could cart some boxes across town. In Rome, I had someone who would lose two days to fly across the country and rescue me. And in reality, Will’s not alone – I have that kind of support here from several people.
Shock, isn’t it? It stuns me that in this country, the populace trust the authorities so much.
This month has seen a shameful performance in this country. Lying cops, politicians jumping on bandwagons, journalists going along for the ride. Until the cracks started to appear. It seems the good doctor wasn’t a terrorist after all. Public prosecutors running away from the case. Cops looking desperately for people to blame for their illegal behaviour. Politicians pointing fingers at cops screaming “He didn’t tell me the truth! It wasn’t my fault I acted illegally!” And journalists shutting up and hoping everyone forgets the muslim-bashing they were engaging in in the last few weeks.
If nothing else, it’s shattered the myth of how well our government is protecting us from terrorism. They’re just a bunch of scare-mongers looking for scapegoats.
But now that the Doctors’ Plot can’t be used as the next Tampa, who’re we gunna be told to be scared of now?
Over at the Human Census project, today’s question is “What is humanity’s greatest achievement?”
Help out by going across there and adding your thoughts?
Earlier on, I was telling a story, or at least developing a strand of a story here. So it’s time I got back to it. I promise not to go all boring. Because I love writing about the tangential stuff as much as the next bloke. But this blog is about my new direction, so I’ll get back to it very shortly.
Today, the Pasha Bulker is leaving Novocastria.
When I lived in Jerusalem, I gave my digital camera to Caerulia so she could take pictures of Lucius, and email them to me. A simple arrangement, you’d imagine. But fraught with difficulty apparently, as I only got one set of shots, and they were from their trip to Aotearoa last autumn.
The other night at dinner, Ch@s informed me he’d been reading my blog. And not only this one, but previous ones. This, ladies and gentlebeans, stunned me.
I had no idea that my real friends read it except when I’ve actually told them to. Like when I’ve told them the address, or about specific posts here. The concept that some of them are reading without me having done that kind of scares, kind of fascinates and kind of weirds me.
Like all bloggers, I try and write well. I try to write so I get across the point I’m trying to make. It’s exercising the self-expression parts of the brain. But I never quite understand why people choose to read what I say. This current incarnation of my blog has a much higher readership than previous ones (about double most days). But I have no idea why. I mean, I prattle on the same way here that I’ve always done. Especially since I think that some previous versions were better looking, and said some good things.
Which brings me to a question you should all answer. Do you ever write something on your blogs (or anywhere for that matter) and feel quite proud of it? Feel that it’s exactly the way you want it to be? And just can’t wait for it to be read? I do that occasionally. Maybe one in 50 blog-posts. Not much though. In fact, I can only recall feeling like that about two posts here. Posts number 115 and 65 actually. Ironically, they didn’t attract a lot of comments. Most of the rest of my blog is filled with my brain-dumps. So I’ve no idea why people read it. Even less idea why posts such as this one sent my reader numbers through the roof. Perhaps it was Marquis’ clever response to it?
On a separate topic though: good things are happening on the job front. Rome’s market is topsy-turvy now and so completely different to what I’m used to. I’m being considered for jobs that are about 50% more (salary-wise) than I was expecting; such is the demand for staff here. I’d heard rumours that was happening in some parts of the country, but didn’t imagine it’d affect me. It’ll be nice if it comes off though.
One of the main things I missed about Rome was the lovely mix of restaurants available. In Jerusalem, “Asian” food meant hundreds of restaurants making the same kinds of things – Chinese, Thai, Indian and Japanese. And everything was terrible “same” regardless of where you went. But yesterday, I got to try, in the middle of Rome, some Sri Lankan food at the Banana Leaf restaurant. Caerulia goes there all the time and always tells me how great it is, so the first chance I got, I asked her to show me.
We both ordered the Lomprisht – I hate ordering the same as anyone else when I go to a restaurant, but since Caerulia had said that was the best thing to try, I was left little choice.
Lomprisht looks – when it arrives – like… let me explain here what it looks like… imagine someone getting three DVD movies with their packaging, and wrapping it in green banana leaves – that’s what it looks like. You unwrap the leaves, and inside are three curries in one – a chicken one, a fish curry and a vegetable curry. All in this banana-leaf “plate”. And the taste? It’s as good as any curry I’ve ever tried. Not overly spicy – just enough to clear your sinuses – but tasty in the extreme.
If you’re Roman and you haven’t been there – try it.
Disclaimer: I didn’t pay for the lunch. I owe Caerulia $18 for it 🙂
One of the things I guess I can be confident about is my ability to rebuild. Maybe it came from having moved schools 18 times in 13 years as a youngster? In my adult life though, the world has burnt and crumbled, yet been rebuilt. Reminds me of:
King of Swamp Castle: When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up.
So here I am again, needing to rebuild. I have every confidence it can be done, and probably done well considering the advantages I have for this new phase. But I have little patience for it.
Obviously, the first step is to obtain employment, and therefore give myself some financial room to move. So yesterday, I went to see a couple of temp agencies who were keen (and with Rome’s 3% unemployment rate, and seemingly more jobs than job-seekers, it’s a damn good market to be looking in). But like everything in Rome, it’s a process, and processes take time, and all I can do is await a phone call to let me know about the next stage. Waiting annoys me. It’s the hated hours that the phone doesn’t ring. It annoys me.
While I’m “vacant” though, I’ve sent out an email to my Roman friends. You know how it is when you think to yourself how useful it’d be to have an unemployed friend who can do stuff for you (wait at home for the plumber to come, or sit in the queue at the motor registry to renew your registration etc)? Well, I’m offering to be that person. After all, I have the time. And so I may as well use it productively to help my friends out. So if you do need a slave in Rome for that kind of thing, you know where I am.
Actually, that’s the kind of thing I mean when I talk about working cooperatively rather than competitively with peers – I have this resource (my time) that other people might not have at the moment. So I share it around, and help out whoever needs it. But I’m getting into philosophy there, so we’ll leave that for another time.
While off in Jerusalem, I let my membership to the Party lapse. And I joined and was a campaign manager for one of the minor parties. But last night, I returned to the fold, and I’ll officially rejoin next month.
The advantage of last night was that the meeting was addressed by our local member of the House of Reps. Not surprisingly, one of the hotter issues was Labor’s silence on the issue of the Dr Haneef case which I have briefly mentioned previously. Our local man though made a good point about why our side had been silent. He said that the detention, questioning and bail hearing had all been done quite fairly. Prior to that occasion, it was said that the courts approving extensions to detention and questioning would be just a ‘rubber stamp’ formality. But the magistrates involved showed they weren’t going to simply sign off on whatever the police wanted. So the laws were working fine (whatever we think of how trivial the offence was) up to that point.
Where our side has serious reservations is in the visa revocation. And this morning, with the Deputy PM contradicting the relevant minister, it is looking even further like the visa revocation was not done properly. And is soon to be examined in court.
But why isn’t our Party speaking out more on this issue? I liked his answer to that one. He said that this issue is the Government’s fuckup, and why should we say anything when the media and other sectors of the community are doing a good job of showing how badly the Government is tying itself in knots? So I guess he has a point there.
I can’t help agree with the Judean leader when he says the current debacle is undermining the public trust in the “anti terror laws”. Police lies, ministerial lies and general incompetence is showing every time a new angle to the story hits the media. From my side of politics, it makes for an entertaining sight.
And it was nice last night to once again get the story of what’s happening on the inside fo the Party.
Some of my things are packed up in Caerulia’s garage until it’s time for me to move out. Some are unpacked, and in the room I’m sharing with Lucius – he graciously has let me stay in the spare bed in his room.
Amongst the items in his room now is a scutum – a Roman legionary shield.
This afternoon, I went to Lucius’ school and walked him home. And I found out he’s been telling his friends at school that his dad is back from serving time with the Roman legions, in their conquest of Jerusalem. Of course, having spent most the weekend hanging out here and playing, his mate Harry is backing Lucius’ story.
Some days, it’s great to be a dad!
The trip was long, and the less said about it the better. Travelled from 6am to 1am. When we got to Caerulia’s, all I wanted was a shower and a sleep in a warm bed. I got both. It’s nice being back in a house with a good shower – that was one of the worst things about living in Jim’s house.
I’ve got a lot to write, about immediate plans, last night’s dinner party, condom-covered barmix machines, running into old colleagues, reuniting with old friends, the frustration of dial-up net access, changing fortunes, Will’s theories put into practice, and a whole lot more.
But until I get decent net access, a lot will be limited. My writing, my reading of blogs, even my favourite regular thing – YouTube Sunday- has to be curtailed. Sorry to the 3 or 4 people who like that one. Much much more to come though. I might have to start writing entries, then coming online to post them, rather than writing online.
The Lancer performed well though, but she is retired now. Until she gets some serious surgery.
The next step begins tomorrow. Ringing employment agencies I’ve already spoken to – arranging interviews for Tuesday and Wednesday. Rome’s employment situation is so good that it’s the kind of topic locals discuss in normal conversation – how businesses and government departments need people. So finding work should be easy. Then I have to get cash flowing once more. And find somewhere to live other than Lucius’ spare bed.
It’s nice to be home though.
In an hour, I leave.
Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye, cheerio, here I go, on my way.
Next time, I’ll be coming to you live from Rome.
I used to be depressed. As in, I was diagnosed with depression in 1997.
Over the last ten years, I’ve come up with different ways to deal with how I am. One is that I rate how I’m feeling on a scale from -100% to +100%. So I just accept where I am on the scale, and adjust appropriately.
I don’t believe in depression, as a ‘disease’. And the problem with when I’ve got a theory is that occasionally, I’ll find reinforcement for it, and then there’s no stopping my unconventional beliefs. The best advice I ever heard regarding depression comes from this documentary from a few months ago. It’s the story of Brian Egan, a navy veteran who’d seen some pretty awful things during his service, then tried to become a farmer and lost the family farm. He ended up suicidal in a hospital, and a doctor told him “Find someone worse off than yourself Brian, and help them.” So he did. It was the best advice anyone gave him, and it’s the best advice anyone with ‘depression’ can hear.
Too many ‘depressed’ people are treated in the worst possible way by those around them. They are indulged. The only real way to deal with depression is to get off your arse and fix it. Find things you care about, and immerse yourself in them. Find a wrong, and make it right. Accept what you are, and how you are, and get on with life. Everything else – counselling, drug therapy etc is just bullshit. Depression saps your will to cure yourself. It destroys your self-motivation. So it takes effort to overcome the inertia and get off your butt. But it’s the only cure there is. Life’s there to be lived. Stop fucken whinging and get on with it. Noone ever died wishing they’d watched more TV.
If you go here, you can download the new Harry Potter book. I have to warn you though – it’s 76Mb.
At some point this week (ie. today), I’ll be offline for a day or so. Loading, and travelling. I not sure when I’ll be back online, but I’ve forward-posted a couple of posts so there’ll still be fresh content for a while.
On Saturday, I am having a get-together in Rome for my friends. If any of my readers who are not already invited wish to join us, drop me an email.
And to Jerusalem: So long and thanks for the fish.
I was chatting to a friend recently. She was a bit flush with cash, so she was offering to lend it to me to assist with my move. Lending it to me was a way she considered the money would be out of reach, but still going to come back to her in a month or two down the track, when she’s likely to once again be skint (coz she’s a uni student). And I declined her loan, but we began to talk about an idea I had a while back, and I’ve been bouncing off people for a while. It goes a little something like this.
Within a small circle of friends – no more than 10 – we establish an account with a bank. Into that account, we divert one percent of our income. The amount is small enough that we’d not notice it disappearing, but over time, it’d grow.
When one of the circle needed cash for something out of the ordinary (a rental bond etc) then they’d be able to borrow from the fund. Obviously, if everyone saw it as a cash-cow to be milked as hard as possible, the funds in the account just wouldn’t hold up to it. But for small purposes, it’d act as a kind of ‘revolving money’ scheme to allow friends to help each other out.
On Saturday, I outlined a timetable for my return to Rome. It’s been delayed by a day or two, due to some ridiculous bureaucracy. It was one of those days where I went in to see the government department and pay them, having checked exactly what was needed via their call centre last week. But face-to-face, they told me a different story. So I went off to do what they told me this morning what needed doing. And then discovered they told me the wrong thing. And the call centre was right. All up, about four hours spent in queues and debating with different people. Which pretty much wrote off the day as a productive time. But it’s done now. Money is paid, the Lancer can fly, and what I referred to as Plan C (Will evacuating me from Jerusalem) wont be necessary. I will be home for my return party on Saturday.
As I’ve said before, I originally began using alternate names for places and people so my blog couldn’t be googled by my friends. That though was a long time ago, and now I don’t care who reads it. But I’ve kept the names as a kind of tradition and because it adds flavour to the blog. And I asked last week for assistance with a map. I am therefore eternally grateful to a chap named Mike, so emailed me this today. Mike lives on the other side of Jerusalem, and has a site where he (unlike most people in this city) identifies himself as a geek. I wont get into it here and now, but Jerusalem is the only place I’ve lived where people still think the word geek has negative connotations.
Anyway, thanks to Mike for this.
Some days, I am disgusted to live in this country.
Mohammed Haneef, an Indian doctor who worked for a local hospital here has been held in custody for two weeks because he gave a SIM card for a mobile phone to his cousin. He was leaving the country, the card still had credit, so he found someone who could use that credit. Unfortunately for him, his cousin got involved with a terrorist group, and the SIM card was used to make calls to dubious people. A court today determined he was not a danger to the community, so the doctor was let out on bail.
But the fascist scum who are in government here have revoked his visa, so he cannot work or live in the community. So he’s been taken to one of the detention camps for illegal immigrants.
Ten years ago, this government minister (right) gave his phone card to his son. The son clocked up fifty thousands of dollars of calls, and the taxpayer footed the bill. The minister denied knowledge of the calls, never had to pay the money back, and was promoted to the Defence portfolio (where he lied during the 2001 election and tried to blame the Air Force chief for his lies).
This country makes me sick.
What would you do, if you weren’t afraid?
I thought about that question. Know what? If I were to answer it, I’d answer that I’d restructure my life to be closer to my friends, closer to my son and working for a purpose I believed in. I’d do exactly what I’m doing. Because a while back, I stopped being afraid. I stopped worrying about the future. I bought out of the bullshit game that we’re mostly all locked into.
Sure, I’d change some things if I were able to script the whole thing. And yesterday’s YouTube Sunday post gives a hint to some of that. But other people have their choices to make and their paths to travel. I can only decide my destiny. So I’m going home.
Obviously, in the next few days, if I go silent, you’ll know why – because my computer (it’s name is Praetorian) will be packed up into the Lancer and will not emerge until we’re back in Rome.
This week for YouTube Sunday, I’m returning once more to a song. Australian readers will know the song, and the performers, but may not have seen the combination. For the overseas readers, I’ll give a bit of background.
This song is, I think, the greatest love song ever written in this country. It originally came out in the 80s, done by Hunters & Collectors, an Aussie pub-band whose version made some impact, but, like some of the greatest songs, didn’t receive the success it deserved. Over the years though, through countless renditions in thousands of pubs, it became an anthem for many. It’s a song about a final encounter. I always used to think it was a one-night stand, but I now consider it to be about a couple who are seeing each other for the final time and, as the lyric says:
We may never meet again
So shed your skin and lets get started
And you will throw your arms around me
As Mark Seymour said of this song:
Love songs are hard enough to pull off tastefully. The strength of Arms is in its honesty, and a very simple hooky chorus. Other than that there isn’t much else to say. It’s personal. Hunters played it with great force and conviction.
I’ve thought for a while now that someone really should compile the different version of this song. I’ve heard brilliant versions by Neil Finn, Crowded House, Pearl Jam, Paul McDermott, several never-to-be-known-of pub bands, and several versions by Mark Seymour and of course Hunters & Collectors.
This version though is by the Doug Anthony All Stars. At a tribute concert several years ago. DAAS reunited for this gig. And this video is the best thing to come out of that gig. Plus of course, it’s introduced by my hero, Mikey Robins.
I will come for you at night time
I will raise you from your sleep
I will kiss you in four places
I’ll go running along your street
I will squeeze the life out of you
You will make me laugh and make me cry
We will never forget it
You will make me call your name and I’ll shout it to the blue summer sky
We may never meet again
So shed your skin and lets get started
And you will throw your arms around me
I dreamed of you at night time
And I watched you in your sleep
I met you in high places
I touched your head and touched your feet
So if you disappear out of view
You know, I will never say goodbye
Though I try to forget it
You will make me call your name and I’ll shout it to the blue summer sky
We may never meet again
So shed your skin and lets get started
And you will throw your arms around me
Yeah you will throw you arms around me
This is for the one I’m leaving behind. 😥
At this stage, my return is scheduled for next week. Tuesday to be exact.
Today was my final day going to see my favourite local Judean football team – the Wynnum Vikings. They played against the Coorparoo Kings. The Reserves lost by 2. The Seniors won by 40. A few months ago, I was trying to volunteer to help out the club – with their website, or with their fundraising. But people lost my number, or didn’t get back to me. So that didn’t end up happening. Which was disappointing, because the Vikings games became one of the highlights of my last few months. My friends I would go to the game with bought me some club merchandise as a farewell gift, and the club president gave me a couple of bottles of club wine (which I made a gift to one of my friends, since I don’t drink). It was a good afternoon though.
This evening, I’m back at AFK wasting time. I’m mainly spending time here because I’ve had it with Jim, my housemate. But I wont get into a Jim-whinge here. Let’s just say that being cooped up with someone who is insane has sent me to my threshold, so now I’m just limiting my exposure to him. Here in the cafe though, I just tried out Civilization IV for the first time – it seems like a cool game, but it needs a lot more of my time before I’ll understand most of what is going on in the game. It’s very ‘pretty’ though. I may spend much of the evening “testing” it 🙂
In the cafe though, the constant MusicMax means I end up hearing songs I haven’t heard in years. At the moment, Duran Duran‘s Hungry Like the Wolf is playing away, about 5 feet above my head. (Oh, that just stopped, and now we’ve got Kim Wilde‘s Kids In America – Countdown flashbacks!)
Tomorrow I’m mainly sorting out some things for my car, to make sure the little Lancer is up for the great emigration. It’ll be an interesting trip. Reminds me a bit of those movies where a great journey is undertaken on a plane/ship/whatever that makes the distance, but arrives on its last legs, and crashes rather than arrives at its destination. I suspect the Lancer will be like that – it’ll make it to Rome, but then need so much work it’ll be a little while before it’ able to fly again.
Monday, I’ve got some paperwork in Jerusalem-city to sort out. I’ll also be going to see some of the people in the city office I’ve spent the last two years providing support for.
Tuesday, the journey commences. I’ve teed up with Will that if anything catastrophic happens, he’ll set sail to come and rescue me. So one way or another, mid next week, I should be back in Rome. More than four years since I first left.
Because I use alternate-names for cities, I’ve added a page which shows which cities are which. Except until I get a map sorted out, it kind of requires that you know something about the cities to realise where is where from the pictures. It’ll give some idea though.
Today was my last day working for the Judean provincial government. We had a large morning tea with people from our section and all the neighbouring sections. Then, I took my own staff (two of them) out for lunch – just some takeaway and then down to the park – the main purpoe was to get away from the office for an hour to let our minds switch off. Then, in the afternoon, our section shared cuppas and chocolate cake. After two years in the same role, I have to say that if every day was like today, I’d have probably stayed a lot longer. But mostly, for two years, the work was repetitive and monotonous. I met some nice people though. I’ll continue friendships with several of them. It was after all where I met Alderney and DryEyedCrab.
After work, I’ve once again come down to AFK Cafe, where Ozbhoy has made my night. We were chatting, and I couldn’t decide what I wanted for dinner. So he took me into the kitchen, and we custom-designed a meal. A tomato-garlic based prawn/seafood pasta, with capers and enough chilli to make it interesting, made to exact specifications. I like the cafe because it’s the sort of place I just like hanging out, even without the net-aspect of it, or the fact it’s run by two of my friends. I’m crap at writing reviews of venues and meals and that kind of thing. But this is the kind of place that Jerusalem has lacked all along. I even promised Willett that if his cafe makes its first anniversary, I’ll buy the cafe a little gift. It’s looking quite good though – as I glance around the room, there’s about 20 paying customers in the place – which I guess is reasonable for dinnertime on a Friday.
At work, there’s a bowl used for lollies. Yesterday, for the purpose of contributing to said bowl, I bought a large pack of M&Ms. But when we opened it and tried a few, they tasted stale and dirty. So one of the girls grabbed the phone and rang the company. In minutes, they agreed to send out supplies for all 12 staff in our section at work. A much better outcome that two years ago when I got into an argument on email with one of the girls in the M&M public relations department (she tried telling me the different coloured M&Ms tasted the same – I’d have thought someone who worked for the company would actually have some idea what the product tasted like!).
What a pity I wont be there when the freebie M&Ms arrive. *sigh*
Last night, ABC TV showed the controversial film “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. I didn’t watch it last night, but I have seen it on TV Links. So I didn’t need to. But they also hosted a debate amongst some Australian scientists about the claims made in the film.
ABC Radio’s Science Show put up a counter-episode here.
I think this raises an interesting question about the levels of public awareness about issues. For example, if you can make a glossy film that looks like a documentary, and you can use captions on screen to say someone is a scientist from such and such a university, then the format and the information presented gains some credibility. Even if everything they say, and the positions and qualifications you say someone has are completely false.
So who can you trust? Not just on this issue, but on any issue? Unless I know someone personally, or have their legitimacy vouched for by someone whose judgement I do trust, how can I tell if someone is really a professor of atmospheric climatology or an actor with a subtitle on the screen?
Over at George Marshall’s blog, he explains that the main reason the Swindle film gained traction with many people, amongst other reasons, is that the public want to believe in it. They want to believe that their lifestyles aren’t threatened.
Personally, my views are a mixture of what I have gained from study, absorbing the words of Will over twenty years, reading New Scientist each week, following the issue in the media, attending talks and seminar like the Earth Dialogs last year and my own readings.
It’s Russian. It’s pronounced temnaya nochya. It means dark night.
As some of you will know from this post where Will responded quite extensively, Will is of the opinion that our western culture is facing a showdown against Mother Nature, and it’s not a confrontation that is going to be pretty. With global warming threatening climatic, disease and food-supply problems and peak oil presenting serious problems to world trade, food supply and our energy-hungry culture, there are considerable problems presenting themselves.
One possible outcome of all this is a catastrophic collapse. Essentially, this means a reversion to pre-Industrial levels of society, where travel, cheap energy, exotic foods and nation states virtually disappear. But no shift would be possible with enormous disruption and, well, a fuckload of violence, anarchy and warfare.
This is the outcome Will and I refer to as the Temnaya Nochya scenario – the worst possible outcome. It would herald a new dark age. It’d be ugly. And realistically, while one could try and build defences against such an outcome, the destruction would b so extensive, it is unlikely that anyone could reliably guarantee coming through such a catastrophe.
I use pseudonyms for most people and place-names on this blog. I started doing it to avoid some people finding it via Google, but now, I’m not bothered about that. And I just do it to maintain the ‘flavour’ of the blog. But I want to do something beyond my own capabilities, so I’m asking for assistance from the readership.
If you can help me create a map in jpg format, with place-names on it, then please contact me. It wont be a lot of work – just getting a blank map of Australia and adding some city names. But I know stuff all about graphic programs, so I’m putting the call out. So if you can help out, drop me an email? Thanks peeps.
Do you know what it’s like when your whole day has been so high-stress then the day is over, and you can just relax? But your brain is still wound up tight, like an elastic band? And you know that for the rest of the evening, the tension’s just going to be there, and there’s nothing you can do about it?
That’s me this evening.
A tense day, but not a day that I think I’ll worry about for long into the future. I came out of it pretty much how I thought I would, but I still had some fun along the way.
I’m learning how to confront opponents without becoming a shivering wreck. This is the second time in 3 weeks I’ve stood up for myself, and thought afterwards “I stood and fought, and I’m happy that I did and said what needed doing.” And not created a situation where I’d be thinking for weeks afterwards “I should have said this”. I hate having that feeling.
I might have an early night, listening to the radio in bed.