Friday, November 29, 2002
Well, my new Director went in to bat for me on Wednesday and managed to wrangle an extension to the deadline for applications (albeit a measly one night). Then she told me just to ignore all my regular work yesterday and just concentrate on writing it up. So what happens? Some bastard in Manila phones in a bomb threat and suddenly the Embassy is closed and everyone here is running around like madmen. In the end I had to leave early and work on the application at home. There was no way I was going to get anything useful done here...
Finally finished it at about 1 o'clock, I think, although by that time I was dizzy with fatigue from trying to construct coherent sentences about "whole of government strategy" and "regional security", as if I know what any of that's about. I don't know if I managed to succeed. This morning I only had time for a quick grammar and spelling check. The question is whether it will convince the selection panel that I should be given more money, or whether they'll think I should be demoted or locked up or beaten with hammers.
Hmm, I think I need some more sleep.
Best album of the year
Fiona, Meagan and I went in to the wedding photographer's studio yesterday. We spent a couple of hours looking at closeups of some of the blurrier photos from the master CD he sent us, trying to decide which ones featured the least goofy expressions. Having pared down the list somewhat, we now have the onerous task of selecting just 24 photos (including some pages composed from several shots) to include in the heinously expensive final product.
We spent a happy twenty minutes of so composing an extremely complicated composite along the lines of "Crop out Dave and Fiona, replace Meagan with a different photo, put a glass of wine in Andrew's hand, replace the portrait on the wall with this photo of Dave and Fiona from later in the day". If it comes off as we expect it will, it will be an amazing picture. This is the sort of thing I'm talking about. This is, of course, exactly the sort of production that we went to this guy for in the first place.
It's good work if you can get it
While we were there, Meagan got a sort-of offer of work as a photo-doctoring assistant, which we may have to push her into pursuing. It seems that wedding photographers get extremely busy at this time of the year, and Mike, who uses Photoshop to touch up most of his images, could do with some backup, it seems. Hmm, thinks she, so this would involve working from home, playing with colours and images on the computer, and requires barely any contact with the outside world? And she'd be paid for it?
Pretty hard to see the downside. Except that she's moving back to Tassie in February, but even so it ought to be possible to come to some emailing/rapid-couriering arrangement...Go for it, girl (and the rest of you - be encouraging! She'd enjoy it, she'd be good at it, and if it's left up to her there's a good chance she might pike out on it).
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
I did a lot of this while I was away. Nearly all of it fiction, and some it just trashy, but none of it that I wouldn't recommend (with certain caveats). The highlights included:
- the works of Matthew Reilly- Contest, Ice Station and Temple: unashamedly big, dumb, Bruckheimer-style action potboilers by some punk kid from Sydney. The third is the best-written, but Ice Station is my favourite, just for the sheer breakneck pace of the action and the number of cheerfully lunatic escalations in violence and implausibility from one scene to the next. I can't give it a higher recommendation than to state publicly that I will definitely be at the film version on opening night even if (as the author intended) Tom Cruise plays Schofield. And I'm going to pick up Area 7 the next time I have to take a long flight anywhere.
- the works of Patrick O'Brian: the Master and Commander series, set in the Age of Fighting Sail (somewhere around the start of the 19th Century), and mostly about naval confrontations between the English and French navies. There are 20 books in the series, which stars Captain Jack Aubrey, a gallant tub of a naval commander and his offsider, the Irish surgeon-turned-intelligence-agent Stephen Maturin (I mentally cast a young Stephen Rea in the part). So far I've read two, just started a third this morning, and absolutely will not rest until I have the entire series. They're like a sea-going combination of the Flashman series (though not as overtly comedic) and Georgette Heyer's Napoleonic novels. I've been meaning to read them for a long time, based on a fervent recommendation by the same guy on the internet that said I should pick up a copy of The Reality Dysfunction. No sooner had I feverishly ploughed my way through the first and started hunting down the rest, than I heard that Peter Weir is making a film version based on one of the later books (or probably several of them, come to think of it) which will star Russel Crowe. Oh well, at least it's Peter Weir...oh, and Billy Boyd (he was either Pippin or Merry in LotR) is playing the coxswain. Cool.
- George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series: I enjoyed the first one, A Game of Thrones, immensely, mostly for the entertaining way that the story is driven along by usually well-meaning characters making bad mistakes, through misjudgement, misplaced trust, paranoia or prejudice. Gotta love a story powered by weapons-grade fuckupium. It's got murders, betrayals, incest, rape, battles and some other quite nasty bits. There's also a hoary old "ancient evil rising in East...no, wait North" subplot that manages to be reasonably creepy and doesn't get in the way of the real fun of the political machinations. I liked it enough to look for the next couple of books in the series - A Storm of Swords (love that title) and A Something or Other of Dragons or Something (didn't really catch the name of the third one).
Monday, November 25, 2002
It's been too long. I don't know how to do anything any more. But that's to be expected, the first day back after an unbelievable eight freakin' weeks. How I wish it had never come to an end...
The wedding was magic, the honeymoon lazy and gloriously protracted. I don't have time to detail it here on Lexifab in the moments I snatch at work to tap out blog notes. What I will probably do over the next few weeks is write it all up and attach photos etc on a separate area of the website (which itself is starting to look a little long in the tooth and could probably use a redesign). Don't hold your breath, though. In the meantime, here's some photos of the ceremony taken by Fiona's work colleague Justin.
Get a job. No, not that one, another one.
Sadly, today I was back at my desk just two hours before the demoralising assault on my career ambitions kicked in. I have been informed that I cannot expect to be promoted in this selection round. They ran out of positions before they got to me on the list, and have just advertised for a new round, which will supersede the current list. The new round is designed to coincide with the end-of-year ascension of this year's graduates and is traditionally horrifically competitive.
Fortunately, I was able to overcome the not unjustifiable hope that this would be one of those rare occasions upon which I would not be shafted by the staffing practises of my employer of choice, and so have narrowly avoided being crushed by the Avalanche of Surprise. Disappointed, certainly, but not surprised.
Now I guess the question comes around again - am I prepared to go to the effort of getting another job, perhaps in a field in which I'm a bit more interested (whatever that might be), or do I stay where I am and continue to be a bit bored and not that diligent?
That's about how I expect the keyboard to sound for the next couple of months, as I work my way through the "Teach Yourself Piano in 10 Easy Lessons" book I picked up in Brisbane. Knowing my lesson-absorption rate, it'll be more like "Sixty Frustrating, Repetitive, Housemate-Enraging Attempts to Make Anything Resembling Music" before I give up and throw the offending instrument through a window. This is one of my resolutions for the year (getting rather a late run, I know).
The plan is to learn all that stuff about keys and chords and Major Sevenths that I never quite picked up in high school music, as well as which white and black keys to put my fingers on to make pretty sounds. Eventually I hope I'll be able to play more or less by ear, and maybe actually contribute something musical to the next Spit album (tentatively slated for recording in October or November 2003). Actually, I'm almost there, since I already know how to play C, F and G chords, which should more than serve for the majority of Spit's back catalogue, according to Ev.