Thursday, January 17, 2002
Cliché crisis averted!
We're still not quite sure how it happened, but somehow, despite the catastrophic hailstorm that hit the northern NSW coast area yesterday, leaving property damaged and large parts of the region without power and unsafe to drive on, Sonia managed not to suddenly go into labour. There was no need for an emergency dash to the hospital through pounding hail and gale force winds, nor was an untrained and nervous SES worker required to deliver a baby on his first day on the job.
Our experts are looking into this breakdown in acceptable TV Movie of the Week standards. In the meantime, commentators are looking forward to the next cliché opportunity, when the baby has a chance to arrive on Sunday, two minutes before the entire household leaves for a much-anticipated outing to the 'Gabba.
This being my last week before three weeks of holidays, I'm flat out at work. Mostly I'm occupied with handing over all my work to other people, both because I'm going away and because we will be having our section reshuffle while I'm gone. My new main responsibility when I get back will be a malaria project in the southern Philippines. It looks like that might involve a trip over there in late March with a team of technical advisors, so that I can see what it's all about (to whit: mosquito nets, the training of volunteer health workers and people not dying horribly of infectious tropical diseases, all of which I am in favour).
So in other words, this is the point at which I work out whether I will ever be serious about aid and development work. If I can't be inspired by (a) foreign travel and (b) the prevention of large numbers of deaths, I will know that I should get out of this game and make way for someone who can.
Friday, January 11, 2002
Superintelligent shade of the colour turquoise
According to the latest New Scientist, researchers have concluded that the Universe is a rather wan turqouise/aquamarine colour. All I can say is that it's a damn shame Douglas Adams didn't live to hear this.
Yoicks! And away!
So, my fencing progress has now more or less reached the point where I can theoretically be entrusted with non-Kidsafe weapons, such as rapier*, smallsword and quarterstaff. The fencing coach last night asked for expressions of interest as to what sorts of extra classes we might be interested in, and I promptly signed up for just about everything (except epee. I resent a martial art where you can lose a formal bout by being poked in the foot). Of course I'm supposed to be saving up money this year for the wedding and honeymoon, so I can scarcely afford to expand my classes. I'll probably just end up going to the odd competition fencing class, which lacks the glamour of learning some of the more historical weapons but compensates by appealing to my desire to run strangers through.
* Julian, the coach, described the rapier famously as "the mobile phone of the 16th and 17th centuries" – an accoutrement worn by everybody, needed by virtually nobody and with which users possess a frightening aptitude.
Thursday, January 10, 2002
So goes roughly 90% of post-Ronettes popular music, but not, it seems, my sister-in-law. Still no phone calls from Casa del Versace-on-Tweed announcing the happy event. Various parties inform me that "the first one is often late" and "babies come when they're ready" and "a watched pot never boils"*, but dammit! I want I want I want! Now! Now! Now! All this suspense crap is getting on my nerves!
Minor DungeonWorld update
For the four of you who will understand and care about this, just a notice that, roughly six months real time after setting off from Mirrormane on the Great College Expedition and more than eighteen months after the idea was first proposed, some of my characters are finally standing in the Courtyard of the Ruins of the Great College. Sadly Kalimantan - the enchanter who has always been amongst the expedition's loudest and most enthusiastic advocates - screwed up his movement orders and is still standing about like a dork in Crownheart, after having walked into an Artisan's House and apparently attempting to smash his way through the floor…
Fi and I tried to go to see Amelie at Electric Shadows last night. Unbelievably, the line was about two hundred people long, so we decided to put the trip off and try again later. Like I said to Fi, I knew director Jean-Pierre Jeunet was popular, but I didn't realise he was popular in Australia…
Instead, we went to local dive The Phoenix**, where I had a weird panic attack. Outside of life-threatening incidents, I cannot recall the last time I was wound up as tight as I was two minutes after we walked into that pub, absolutely claustrophobic and insanely edgy. I swear if someone had walked up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder I would have come about and ripped their eyes out. I have no idea where the feeling came from, and as soon as we moved to the back room it vanished. I was shattered afterwards, like I'd been in a punchup or a car accident and was coming down off the adrenaline.
I now put it down to the fact that they did not, in spite of my expressed preferences, have Kilkenny on tap. That's the only explanation that makes sense.
Today was a completely productive day. It's amazing how many of those can occur in a week, isn't it? Must be the tie.
* Contemplating what that last one may have to do with modern childbirthing techniques leaves me mystified and not a little squeamish.
** There's an amusing parallel to be drawn between the name and the fact that if this place burned down, anything they replaced it with would be more attractive. As soon as I figure out a funny way of telling that one, I'll get back to you.
Tuesday, January 08, 2002
So, okay, the last two weeks were really quiet, at least for me, stuck in the office with nothing but cricket on the big screen and the entire internet to keep me company (well, except for the parts that the Public Service would rather you didn't download, like porn, industrial relations laws and jobs guides). But suddenly yesterday everyone comes back to work, and it's an absolute frenzy! And I actually enjoyed it! It's good to have back that feeling, however delusional and temporary, that my job is something other than an aggravating necessity.
Of course, possibly the best bit was the meeting where we decided that the major project review that I am supposed to be organising – the one that I was uneasily expecting to come flaming aground while I was away on holidays – has been scrapped while we sift through the fallout of other related projects. Hurrah! This means that of the two insanely impossible tasks that I've been left without any guidance whatsoever to accomplish in the next fortnight one may actually stand some hope of going ahead. And hey, if it falls apart while I'm lounging about on the Gold Coast, what do you suppose my reaction is going to be, hmm?
Fi was away in Sydney for Kerry's funeral yesterday, along with Meagan, Kath, Hector and Ange. An already unfun occasion was made worse by 40 degree heat - presumably it wasn't much better in the crematorium. A good ceremony, she tells me, lots of eulogies full of love and admiration for her strength (especially her imperviousness to giving a shit about what anyone else thought about how she lived her life).
When she got home, we talked a little bit about what we would want to go on at our funerals – what music, flowers, speeches etc. I suppose it's only reasonable to think about it, if only to make things easy on your loved ones, who might otherwise suddenly discover that they really have no idea what your favourite song is, or if you’re a burier or a burner. I'm a burner, by the way.
But quite frankly, I'm rather taken with the idea of just not ever dying, or at least, not until I'm good and ready.
And speaking of matters of life and death...
Still no word on Versace: The Next Generation yet. According to official estimates, tomorrow is B Day. Our operators are standing by.
Friday, January 04, 2002
Don't make 'em. What would be the point? I'd certainly never keep them, capricious nit that I am. Guilt trips for the self-obsessed, that's all New Year's Resolutions are. Since I play that game every other day of the year anyway, singling out a specific day just gives them undeserved gravity. Bah, humbug.
In the same vein, we didn't make much of the occasion on Monday night. We had plans to make a night of it, with dinner, a movie and dancing unto the wee small hours, but in the end we (predictably) decided that that would be too much work and instead we went to bed early. Luckily our neighbours were on hand to ring in the new year for us, with inexplicable repetitions of the word "Hey!" bellowed at about three hundred decibels our main clues that 2001 was done with.
Fiona got into work on Wednesday morning only to receive a call from Fleader letting her know that an old friend had died. Kerry was on her third new kidney after an operation just last week. The previous time she had had a replacement, her body rejected it immediately; the time before that, the kidney was donated by her father. It failed when she fell ill during a pregancy and she lost baby and kidney both. She definitely didn't have any luck when it came to her health. She and her partner Digby have a lot of friends in WIMA, several of whom will be heading up to Sydney on Monday for the funeral.
On a happier note
It was Ian and Sonia's fourth anniversary yesterday, and their baby Flynn-or-Lucy is apparently less than a week away. It – brand as yet undetermined – is due on the 9th, which would be next Wednesday. Soon I will transform into Unsettling Uncle Dave! Read all your breaking baby news right here in Lexifab (as soon as there's any to report).
And another anniversary
Mum turns (ahem) years old today. Fortunately we'll be seeing her and Dad in a couple of weeks, so I'll be able to give her a birthday hug then. Oh, well, yes, probably some form of present as well, apart from the boundless joy of seeing her clan all together again (including, one hopes, a surprising new generation in the form of Flynn-or-Lucy). Happy birthday, Ma!
Wednesday, January 02, 2002
This is the blog…
This is the blog that I would have posted last Thursday, if not for Blogger's Boxing Day cracking…
Happy pagan ritual season
Christmas (or Xmas, to rhyme with eczema, as we're now calling it, thanks to Futurama) was entirely agreeable and stress-free, even allowing for the fact that we were up and cooking at 7:30 and didn't finish until just after 11:00 (by which point we were running late). Lunch was at Fiona's Dad's place with the family. Special guests of honour this year were Niall's boyfriend Jaime's parents, who were good value (Is it churlish of me to observe that they were much better company than their son usually is? It is? Okay, I'll keep that to myself then). The food was excess to requirements, the wine was as always spectacular, and a good time was had by all.
After lunch we headed up the hill to the boys' place for dinner, which consisted of leftovers from lunch added to about three hundred different kinds of roasted meat, plus assorted quiches, lasagnas, salads etc. I've finally gotten the hang of using the breadmaker that Andrew and Anna gave us for our engagement present (the trick is to ignore the recipe book and use less flour) and I whipped up a cheese-and-chive loaf with just enough cayenne in it to make it seem spicy (or, if you're a spice-wuss, to burn the roof of your mouth off). Well, I liked it, anyway. By the time we finally dragged ourselves home (after a festive viewing of X-Men, for lack of a more appropriately festive idea) I could barely walk and Fiona was having serious over-eating pangs. Ah, the joys of gluttony – my new theory is that the tradition of resolutions at New Years to "go on a diet" or "quit drinking so much" has a hell of a lot to do with still-sharp memories of overindulgence from the week before.
Boxing Day movie
I have an absolute rule (as opposed to a tradition) of going to see a movie at the cinemas on Boxing Day. It would make more sense to leave it a few days, yes, and the tradition took a serious hit a couple of years ago when all that was on was the stunningly awful pre-Apocalyptic Schwarzenegger dog End of Days, but I am nothing if not wilfully stubborn. Besides, I've been waiting for The Lord of the Rings for three goddamn years, I wasn't going to wait one day more than I had to. We queued for an hour (yes, even having pre-bought the tickets several days earlier, and just as well we did, too) and we paid $4 apiece for bottles of water – but we were there! I don't remember the last time I had such a feeling of anticipation for a movie. And not because I'm a Tolkien geek, either – I've only read the novels once and found that in spite of the story's obvious strengths (epic scope, stunning sense of history and verissimilitude), its weaknesses (feeble characterization, inordinate detailing of places and things side-by-side with often ridiculously sketchy descriptions of key events) are too pervasive for me to enjoy it so much. Instead, I was really looking forward to seeing what Peter Jackson would do with it.
I won't spoil it, because most sensible people won't have bothered braving the crowds and the overpriced refreshments just yet, but here's what I have to say: it's breathtaking. It is truly beautiful, awe-inspiring, evocative, superb. Screw the purists, it's absolutely perfect. I could have wept. I will watch it again and again, and for the first time I am inclined to buy a DVD just so I will be able to keep watching it. Like the woman with the piercing Canadian accent behind me whined at the end of the film, when it became clear a sequel was required: "We have to wait another year? I want it now!"
Note to self: Live to see remainder of trilogy. No, not the Star Wars one.
Back to work
Well, that's Xmasdone and gone for another year, and today I'm back at work. Literally, that is, in the sense that I'm sitting in the office playing caretaker. I'm certainly not playing "diligent hard working program administrator". I've been here two hours and I haven't even cracked open my filing cabinet yet. Tsk. It's hard to become too motivated when I know that nobody else is going to show their faces back at work until the week after next. And I have maybe three or four pretty basic things to keep me occupied until then.
Fiona has the opposite problem, on the other hand. She has been working like a slave for the past six months to get the ACCC website redesign done and today is no exception. Apart from the public holidays, which even she refuses to work on, she's been continuing with the long hours and taking work home at nights. At least today she's made an exception, taking the morning off so that she can hits the shops for the first wave of the Boxing Day sales*. We didn't spend much on Christmas, but we do plan to make it up with a shopping spree this coming weekend.
The players have just walked back onto the field at the MCG for Day 2 of the second Test, so I'm off to the Branch Head's office to watch some cricket. Later, all.
* which for some reason commence on the 27th of December in the ACT.
This is a quick test. Blogger got cracked last week, which is my excuse for not posting anything. Assuming this works, I'll get back on track, I'm sure.