Lexifabricographer - Where good concepts go to die
Words that go together, although not necessarily terribly well
Sometimes I like to pretend to be other, better people
Stands for Play By Mail, or possibly Postal Brutality Mongers
Yes, of course I have one. Doesn't mean I'm not prepared to trade for yours, though.
This is where the bodies are buried
Talk to me
Get me the hell out of here!


Thursday, February 27, 2003

Heh.

I love the caption that goes with this Chaser article. Fortunately the promise of ethical conduct on the part of Howard Government ministers remains non-core.

(Random aside: I wonder how much trouble I can get in for typing that sentence using Commonwealth property?)


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Here we are in the future. Where's my flying rocket car, dammit?

Oh look. The future has some weird-arse shit going on. So what they're saying is, I can replace all those ugly, diseased trees with gleaming carbon sink towers that will clean up the atmosphere and make the world safer for more and more polluting vehicles, but I still have to wait for my skycar? Man, this sucks.


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It's official - we're as psychotically delusional as the next country [1]

I genuinely believed that even our embarrassingly sycophantic government would not be so insane as to fall into step with the US on the so-called Son of Star Wars missile defence system. This, let us not forget, was an initiative originally championed by a man who has since been proven to have been suffering from the early stages of a degenerative brain disorder during his Presidency. Since the mid-1980's, an awful lot of analysts who aren't in the pay of large US aerospace and arms manufactures have pointed out the numerous inherent limitations of a missile defence strategy (summarised thusly: it's astronomically expensive, it's an irrelevant response to the likeliest threats and it won't work anyway). Nonetheless, a succession of US administrations have owed debts of gratitude to the likes of Lockheed-Martin and Boeing for bankrolling their campaigns, so the hugely expensive R&D goes on.

Argh. Our utterly un-esteemed Defence Minister now thinks that, what with the North Koreans getting all arced up, maybe we should pop a couple of missile bases of our own on top of the Kimberleys or something. How exactly that would make us less of a target for alleged North Korean missiles [2] (remember we're one of only a handful of countries in the world that actually acknowledge them as a sovereign nation) has not been made particularly clear.

Sorry, this isn't at all a cogent piece of political analysis. I'm just pissed off at what looks to me like reckless stupidity and stupendously unwarranted arse-licking


  1. If you draw a line straight from Sydney to LA and don't count all those small Pacific nations that won't be there for much longer anyway.
  2. I'm yet to be convinced they have bothered to build ones that will go further than Seoul, or at a stretch, Tokyo.


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Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Crushing victory owes everything to inspired leadership


Well, much as I might like to believe that (ie not that much), last night's 118-run victory over Hackisax in the indoor cricket finals was mostly down to a competent and assured team effort. Everyone did their bit and was relaxed and sensible and by God we thrashed them losers big time. The only credit I'm prepared to take as fearless leader was my ingenious toss-losing ability that meant I didn't have to decide whether to bat or bowl first. We batted, scored an absolute mammothload of runs, and then quietly and unassumingly demolished them with good bowling and fielding. Yay us!


Slightly disappointing was the fact that unlike the warm and fuzzy oversized polar fleece jumpers we won last season, this year all we got was a lousy polo shirt. Also I dropped a catch I should have taken, but I never claimed to be much of a wicket keeper anyway...


I'm looking forward to next season (which, in the traditional of avaricious sports clubs, begins next week) because we will dropping the AusAID tag and forming a team of regular players. This will largely resolve my headaches over organising the team these past months, where it's been difficult to get a full team each week, let alone the same 7 or 8 players each week. Anyone who's played any indoor cricket (and other team sports too, for that matter) knows that the key to being competitive is less to do with having one or two excellent players, than to have a full squad of competent players who know each other's capabilities and understand their own role. So, actually having the same people playing week after week will make a difference. Because much as I would happily continue to play just for the fun of it, there's no way I wouldn't prefer to be appeasing my Inner Competitiveness Weasel at the same time.

ICW, or IckWee (as I just named him), is looking glutted and smug this morning, by the way.


Geekgasm


Oh boy. Just when I thought I'd graduated from the "must have everything vomited out of the production line" school of roleplaying game hoardage, along comes Mongoose Games and their plans to bring out a Babylon 5 game, followed by one (expensive) supplement a month for six months. Argh! Must. Have. It. All! No. No! NO! Must. Contain. Inner. Packrat! (now to be renamed Ipper).


Hmm, maybe I could trick IckWee and Ipper into fighting, and then in the confusion I could take up another hobby...


Crushing demoralisation owes everything to uninspiring leadership


My new section director has started this week. Huh. While I don't immediately want to give up on her (it's her first director job), I can't see her having the same inspirational effect on me that the last one did. Gillian has a knack for making people feel good about their achievements (however minor) and want to do even better. That's a real talent, one that's all too rare in my experience. Most of my good bosses in the past have been good at being "just one of the troops", seeing themselves as a member of the team rather than its leader. In the past I've been fine with that, and if I were to be put into any kind of management role (something I will fight tooth and nail to avoid), it's the style I would use.


But Gillian gives a good example of a potentially more effective style, one that says "I trust your judgment and your experience and your advice, I will support you and represent you to upper management, and in return I expect you to produce your best work all the time." It's a hard trick to pull on someone as churlishly resentful about having to waste his days at work as I am, but Gillian managed it. So far I have not seen any sign that Julie, her replacement, will have the same impact. She's a bit quiet and unforthcoming (obviously as nervous as hell, too) and I can't really see her encouraging me to hitherto-undreamt-of levels of achievement and enthusiasm.


I know that's not really fair, expecting her to have any responsibility for my job satisfaction. Okay, so it's actually incredibly selfish. And what it boils down to is, I recognise that I am not particularly invested in this work and I'm prepared to transfer responsibility for my dissatisfaction to anyone and anything else but me. Tsk. What can I say, I'm only human. And kind of a pain in the arse too.

The pity of it is, I really was starting to get into it for a while there. But now I'm back to coasting (and blogging, and daydreaming, and otherwise wasting work time). Of course, I could also just be cranky and tired after last night's game. I get that way sometimes.


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Monday, February 24, 2003

Washed out

A steady, soaking downpour that started early Friday morning and continued through until late Friday night put a literal and figurative dampener on the WIMA Annual General Meeting over the weekend. Things had already gotten off to a rocky start when the venue, Birrigai Outdoor School, was severely damaged by the fires last month. Rather than cancel the AGM, the club organised for an alternative venue, a low-budget van-and-cabin park at the side of the highway. It was not, it has to be said, quite as nice a setting as Birrigai, but it did have the benefits of being both available and affordable. So be it. Despite months of planning and organising, the club had also been rather let down by several motorcycle distributors and local dealers, several of whom agreed to and then reneged on bringing their wares out to the day for test rides. Presumably they assumed that women motorcyclists do not constitute a serious market demographic. Whatever.

Saturday's weather was clear, but the Weasel of Disappointment was yet abroad: one of the local bike shops, which had confirmed its commitment to bringing demo bikes as late as the previous evening, pulled out, claiming that the "wet" conditions were too unsafe for demo rides. Never mind that it did not, at any time on Saturday, actually rain at the venue. Never mind that their cited excuse arrogantly assumed that women riders (many of whom rode hundreds of kilometers through storms to be at the meeting) would not be able to negotiate suboptimal road conditions. Never mind that they had not only agreed to attend months earlier but that they had also participated in the distribution of advertising material which said they would be there. What really pissed everyone off was the fact that they did offer test rides from their own shop in Fishwyck, where it rained on Saturday. Arseholes.

Fortunately, the Victorian branch of the club has agreed to run the AGM next year, so this is the last time we have to endure such a schemozzle.


Went to cricket. Came back

Our last cricket match for the regular season yesterday almost didn't happen due to the slightly damp pitch. In the end it was decided that it was in good enough condition to go ahead on, and we went ahead with the game against competition bunnies DEWR. As it turned out our fears were unfounded. The pitch held up quite well, which is more than can be said for our opponents, whom we demolished, ensuring that we will at least make the semi-final round (this weekend, I think). Once again I did nothing with the bat (1 run, glanced off my knuckles), but at least this time it was according to the plan. Anthony had made his 50 runs and retired, and could only come in once the rest of the batsmen were out, so I did my bit and went out for a wild hack - glory or bust! My very soft dismissal allowed Anthony to come back in and belt another thirty or so runs in the final four and a half overs.

Then we fielded. My recent bowling form meant that I was well down the list for selection, and the others cleaned up before I could come in. I wasn't too upset. I was still completely shagged out from the WIMA weekend, and was actually pretty relieved that I only had to field the ball about four or five times in the entire innings.

The indoor cricket final is tomorrow night, and we're looking to win back to back seasons, so I'm glad yesterday's game hasn't worn me out too much. Hopefully Anthony will keep his batting eye in. Next weekend should be the first semifinal, against DFAT. With the house empty on Saturday night (Fiona and Meagan will be in Sydney for mardi gras), I'll be resting up and getting match fit. Another win means we get to play one more game for the year, after all.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Moving experience (ha, ha)

On Saturday Fiona and I spent the day in back breaking labour helping her Dad and his fiance Betty move into their new house. As a bit of a veteran of such affairs, I can say that this move was, on the whole, painful and frustrating. Which is, in my experience, pretty much the norm. The new house is on the lower end of the market in an extremely upmarket area - which means that it only has one pool, five bedrooms, all mod cons (including a few I'd never seen before, such as the intercom system that plays the radio and lets you answer and unlock the door from any room in the house, including the back patio) and is generally sickeningly well-appointed.

There was one surreal moment late in the day when a storm blew up and blasted all of the ash that had settled after the fires back into the air again, cutting visibility to a very grey ten metres or so. The temperature dropped about fifteen degrees in ten minutes and it tried desperately to hail (apparently it did in places, but not where we were), and it was all over about twenty minutes later. Over, that is, except for the thick layer of black sludge that settled on the surface of the freshly-cleaned pool and the steamy choking stench of muddy ash. Ick.


Lazy Sunday

After hauling up in a lot of pain on Sunday morning, we were determined to make a lazy day of it, but it didn't quite come off. We did a couple more hours in the back yard, sifting the clay and rocks and bits of assorted building materials out of another patch of dirt and then digging it over and covering it in mulch to make it resemble a garden.

We're getting there, although we have not yet installed the watering system or planted anything at all. Or even planned it out in any detail. You'll probably have to take my word that we're making progress. You wouldn't know it by looking at the yard itself...


Frances back home

Frances got out of hospital on Friday evening, despite still being in pain. She's feeling better now, although we still haven't really heard what the diagnosis was or even if one has been settled on. Hopefully it has come and gone anyway.

At any rate, Meagan is coming home on Thursday afternoon, which is just in time for the WIMA AGM, to be held this weekend. I will be playing my usual role as a gofer/dogsbody, although this year the event will be catered, so at least I won't be spending the weekend washing up.


I'm an authority!

Yesterday marked an interesting Lexifab milestone. A young lady from the States who is planning to buy a wedding ring online emailed me for a review of Gillett's Jewellers (from whom we bought my wedding band). Apparently she must have done a web search and come up with one of my blogs discussing the purchase. Oddly enough, I have made a couple of attempts on Google and have yet to replicate a search that turns up Lexifab, but I can only supposed that with the waning of the moon and Scorpio in its ascendance, my google-fu is weaker than hers.

Still, congratulations Natali! Hope it all works out for you and your fiance.


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Thursday, February 13, 2003

Frances ill, Meagan away


On a sad note, Meagan has had to fly back to Hobart because her mother, the very lovely Frances, was rushed to hospital yesterday with some sort of bowel obstruction. We gather that it is not a life-threatening condition, but that it can lead to complications which are. We have our fingers crossed that everything is okay, and I am hoping that since I haven't heard anything new today her condition is at least not worse. Frances is a wonderful woman and the thought that she's laid up in a hospital bed too far away to visit is quite upsetting.

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Gimme a Woo! Gimme a Hoo! Put'em all together!


Simon, Chris, Linda and I got together for our first game of Universalis last night. Despite the usual uphill battle of explaining concepts and rules, it went very well, with lots of cool free-association world design and the first couple of scenes of what will likely be a very neat story.


There was a fair amount of clumsiness in terms of handling time - stopping for explanations or to look up rules or to discuss options - but as Chris pointed out that should disappear when we become more familiar with the rules. I'm not immune - I just checked and realised (as I suspected last night) that I got the rules for Challenges wrong, and they are actually much simpler to resolve than I made them. And record keeping was difficult, especially with trying to keep track of new characters and their traits as they appeared in the story, as well as tracking the narrative and dialogue for posterity. We concluded last night that the idea of keeping each Component on its own file card and then stacking like Components together (Characters with Characters, Locations with Locations etc) was the way to go. It belatedly occurs to me that another way to have reduced the handling time would have been to have a second record keeper actually recording the events of the story itself. That should make things easier next time, and give me more of a chance to focus on the narrative.


One thing that surprised me was Master Components, which I really had not got a grip on well just from reading the rulebook. But when it came to describing the characteristics of the various different races in the story, I suddenly Got It. The rules are really very intuitive (when used correctly - ahem!) and quite versatile.


In terms of the actual story, the setting evolved from a jumble of elements including or similar to Dinotopia, Victorian-era class and race conflict, jungle frontier exploration and clockwork punk. The heroine is the arrogant surveyor, Lady Larissa Montgibbon, who has arrived by train in the frontier settlement of Basquieph, ably assisted by her dwarf maidservant, her spidron lackey and Knuckles, a ten-year-old grifter and his pet dinosaur Shredsy, and opposed by the sinister forces of hide-bound bureaucracy and arrogant superiority in the snooty form of the pedantic elf Snyder.


One thing about last night's game is that, apart from a pecking-order confrontation between Snyder and Lady Larissa (which Chris won, narrating the character's petty officiousness to hilarious effect and effectively making him a significant antagonist for Larissa), not a lot actually happened. All day I have been making sinister plans to up the stakes with several new characters and a series of complications. What is cool about making all these plans, however, is that at any moment they can be foiled by something one of the others comes up with that will completely change the thrust of the story, and make my schemes irrelevant. I really can't wait for that to happen.


Some of the best moments of inspiration:

  • When Simon Introduced Lady Larissa and gave her the Role of "Surveyor". A subtle but really striking moment.
  • Chris' dismissive Dialogue for Snyder, who has just informed Lady Larissa that her papers are not in order and she will have to return the next day: "Please take notice of the signs regarding the treatment of loiterers and vagrants. Sleep well."
  • Linda's haughty Dialogue for the embarrassed Lady Larissa: "Things aren't like this where I'm from!"


Brilliant game. I want more. More! MORE!


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Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Quote of the Day

For some reason, this quote from Knights of the Dinner Table just spoke to me:

"Ever notice that B.A.'s flavour text swells in direct proportion to how much one of our characters is getting screwed?" - Brian


Wow. That was unexpected!

After only managing to secure 7 players for last night's indoor game, and then having one of those not show up at all (flat car battery, as it turned out), things didn't look real promising for our prospects of making the semi-finals. I didn't think we could win and up until game time I was looking forward to having a few weeks off. We needed to beat the opposition by a solid rather than slight margin order to oust them from fourth place on the ladder and take their spot in the semis. Conventional wisdom would suggest that it's pretty hard to plug up the gaps in a field with just six players on it.

But we did it somehow. After setting a reasonably good score with the bat (Chris and I put on 44, just missing out on a 50 partnership when the sweeper just managed to hold on to his slog in the final over), we took the field and attacked. First thing we did was ditch the wicket keeper position, since none of us are much good at it anyway, and put me and Chris up close on either side of the striker. It worked beautifully - we got catches, we got run outs, we forced them to hit stupid strokes around us that were either low-scoring or carried to other fielders. Basically, they were careless and we lifted our game by about a grade-and-a-half. And we won. and we deserved it.

Damn, it felt good. Doubly so in that we shouldn't have stood a chance in hell of winning. And next week, we should be playing the top team, and they should wipe the floor with us. But you never know...

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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Dot-point Updates on a Cunningly Lazy Existence

In no particular order:


  • Testing - Last Thursday I did my IT skills assessment at CIT, which will allow me to bypass the qualifying courses for their Graduate Diploma in Software Development course. The test was basic enough - just some formatting, formulas and data manipulation in the MS Office - and it took me less than 20 minutes from the hour allocated. Since there is no real possibility of failing, my only real decision now is whether I want to spend on average twenty hours a week for the next four-six years getting a second career's worth of skills under my belt. I guess I'll find out soon enough, but nothing is happening in the Public Service to make the option any less attractive.

  • Current reading - Almost two years to the day after receiving it, I'm finally re-reading Andrea's novel The Silence of Medair. It has a fascinating structure. Before the story has even started, something massively important and dramatic happens to the eponymous heroine, so that the entirety of the novel feels almost like a sequel. Whereas, in fact, the story just starts in the middle and details the important highlights of the first half in the course of narrating the second half. Cool.

  • Still no Universalis. Bad Bond Substitutes [1] - Simon and Chris and I got together to play Universalis on Saturday night, but instead - and against all sanity and reason - we watched A View to a Kill instead. The number of levels on which this is WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! is difficult to enumerate. The only question is whether AVtaK is the Worst. Bond. Ever, or if that dubious honour goes to Diamonds are Forever, Moonraker or The World is Not Enough. For me, Moonraker loses on the grounds that I like the theme songs from all the others, but AVtaK still sucks pretty damn hard. It possessed that variety of compelling, energy-sucking awfulness that made doing anything creative seem out of the question, hence no gaming. We're going to try again tomorrow night, when the only good bit of TV (new Simpsons) is something we'd be taping anyway.

  • Sportality - Cricket got called off on Sunday because The Australian Mint, in defiance of extremely specific water restrictions, watered the hell out of their ovals on the same night that there was a long-drenching thunderstorm. Astoundingly, a key clue to how wet the pitch had been the night before was the copious distribution of duck shit from one end of the field to the other. Sensibly it was decided that the muddy creases and likelihood of slipping in bird droppings and breaking an ankle were overriding considerations. A few of us got together and played a pick up game on one of the drier ovals. Typically - because it didn't count for anything - I bowled better than I have in years. [2]

  • New Boss - Since our new Director just got a plum job working for UNICEF in Fiji, we're about to get (another) replacement, Julie. She seems nice enough, but I somehow don't think she's going to have the same gift for inspiring enthusiasm that I got out of the outgoing office holder, Gillian. Which is a shame, since I imagine she'll be just as good at delegating work out...

  • Spit is Back Online - Andrew did a Spit web page. It has a certain spartan austerity to the design, but hey, it's nuthin' but content. Besides, it lets you old-skool internet users reminisce about the good old days of Napster[3] by downloading songs off the internet before the album is released.

  1. Sounds like a cryptic crossword clue, doesn't it?

  2. I just noticed I started three consecutive sentences with an adverb. Bad grammarian. Bad!

  3. Not much there, is there? Lars from Metallica sure kicked their arses, I guess.

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Thursday, February 06, 2003

Direct from Melbourne

See how fevered my brain is? I totally forgot to mention that last night Fiona and I had a very nice Indian dinner with none other than Al Eldridge. He was up here for a couple of days pimping his company's software to various parties. To be honest I doubt I was particularly scintillating company (okay, even less so than usual) but luckily he and Fiona were able to talk about IT contracts at dinner, sparing me the problem of dividing my attention between trying to keep up my end of the conversation and swaying unsteadily with fatigue.

It was good to see him again. I really have to get down to Melbourne one of these days and let him show me the town.

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The auto-cannibalised complaint

Rather that retype my current whinge, I will just cut 'n' paste from an email I sent to Andrew earlier:

I haven't slept enough in the past few days. I'm feeling seriously ill now. This afternoon I'm supposed to be taking the IT skills assessment test. I will go ahead with it, because quite frankly the skills they are assessing I could probably manage in a full-blown fever. The hard part will be staying here at work for the next two hours, waiting for the test to start. I'd probably be better off knocking off early and sitting in an air-conditioned cafe. I feel like I'm about to melt. Sarah, sitting in the next cubicle, tells me that she doesn't think it's that hot, which means the aforementioned fever may not be that far off.

It's been a rough few days since Sunday. I keep getting a couple of hours sleep, then waking up in the middle of the (hot) night, thinking about something and then not being able to get back to sleep. The inability of Naru, our next-door-neighbour's halfbreed dingo, to shut the hell up doesn't really help, but I'm not going to blame her for the overall problem. I get these insomnia episodes once in a while, usually coinciding with being stressed about some not-really-that-big-a-deal issue or another. I think that this one was, no kidding, triggered by my poor batting and bowling on Sunday, and fretting about letting myself down etc etc. What's strange is that I am now 100% confident that I am completely over it, but the (presumably subconscious) stress remains.

I'm pretty sure it's not work-related, in spite of the increased workload and the latest promotion round failure. I'm not coping particularly well with it this week, but I think that's more an effect than a cause of the insomnia. On the other hand, my brain could be fed up with my conscious vacillation over whether or not I like my job, and has decided to take the war to a subconscious level.

I picture myself waking up in the middle of the night and bellowing "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it any more." And then hearing Fiona tell me to get over myself and go back to sleep. Heh.

Happy birthday Flynn

Yesterday my nephew Flynn celebrated his first birthday by pushing around a fire truck, singing the "yah, yah, yah" song (AKA the "quack quack" song, which I am given to understand is the sound that cows, horses and rabbits make) and feeding Schmackoes to Fred the dog. Proud mum Sonia predicts that he will soon be walking. Considering that he and his slightly-older cousin recently called the police out to the house by "accidentally" dialling 000, I would have thought that the news of functional mobility on his part would fill her with disquieting dread, but she and Ian seem pretty cool with it.


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Monday, February 03, 2003
Hmm? Me? Kinda disappointed, actually

The last few days haven't been bad, exactly. I mean, everyone's fine and nothing bad has happened (unless you work for NASA, I guess), but still, I'm a bit...meh.
  • Friday - The results from the promotion round came in. Once again, I have been "found suitable" for promotion to the APS5 level (which is hardly surprising, since I've effectively been working at that level for more than a year, and had I been able to reign in my apathy for the majority of that time, would have been working well in excess of a 5), but once again I have been ranked well down the list. This means that once again I will have a long wait before I get offered anything, and then only if (a) the list does not expire, or (b) they decide to hold another round of interviews and invalidate the current list, which is what happened to me last time. Since I recall that my application was excellent and my interview was as good as it was ever likely to be given my condition at the time (sick and one week back from eight weeks holiday), the realistic thing to do would be to conclude that I am not cut out to be promoted in AusAID. Various people have sought to reassure me that it is not necessarily a reflection on my capabilities, that the system for promotions used in AusAID tends to be biased towards the graduate recruits and that it is difficult to break through without active self-promotion to the powers that be, but I have singularly failed to take that as a reassurance of any kind. Rather, I continue to wonder why I am wasting my time here when I feel reasonably certain I could be getting paid ten or twelve grand a year more somewhere else.

    Back to the government gazette and the Canberra Times jobs guide? Dunno yet. I burned out my insane fury at getting jerked around over Christmas, but all the same I'm still being jerked around. The decision essentially comes down to comfort and laziness - would I rather continue doing something with which I am familiar so that I remain focused on non-work stuff (such as the IT course I'm hoping to start soon, amongst a dozen or so hobby interests), or do I pay some attention to furthering my career (which means either broadening my profile within AusAID by becoming more of a corporate playah, or ditching these arseholes and going somewhere that pays me for the work they expect me to do). And this morning's dawning revelation about exactly how much work is in the pipeline for me for the next six months, I am increasingly leaning towards the latter...

  • Saturday - On Saturday afternoon I played my first game with the Academics 2nd grade team. It was a fairly undistinguished effort. I wasn't called upon to field more than three or four times, I didn't bowl, and I only lasted a few balls before I spooned a shot back to the bowler (and walked, while everyone was wondering whether it was legitimate or a bump ball). My team fared similarly, losing with about ten overs to spare. It was pretty unmoving all round, though I didn't mind meeting a few new people (and discovering that I worked with at least a couple of them).

  • Sunday - Sunday was the AusAID cricket game, this week against Treasury. I was a bit nervous about doing a double-header over the weekend, because I wasn't too sure my fitness was up to it, but the fact that Saturday's game was undemanding meant that I was feeling fine. It started well, too. We went in to field, I eventually talked my way into fielding at short mid-wicket (halfway up the pitch, about 45 degrees out from the batman, may four or five metres away) and I managed to get a run out when the batsmen went for an ill-advised quick single. That's why I like fielding in close - lots of opportunities for personal glory. Heh.

    So I was feeling pretty good when I was brought on to bowl about the 16th over. My predecessors had done a good job of pinning down the scoring rate, though we hadn't taken many wickets at that point, and I wasn't under a lot of pressure to do much more than force them to play their shots.

    And I blew it. Completely. The over consisted of nothing but lots of loose, wide deliveries that one of their most ordinary batsmen was able to cut away for easy runs. I couldn't get it to land on the pitch, let alone where I wanted it. After a no ball that sailed about two feet over the head of a guy who was six-two, I overcompensated and flung two rank full tosses that he carted to the square boundary. I went for fifteen in the over. I completely sucked and I was hastily taken off.

    I was absolutely fuming at myself that I had bowled so badly and even more frustrated that I wasn't going to be given another opportunity to square the error. Rightly so, too - I wouldn't have wanted another over, if I'd been thinking clearly. Instead, I was moping and sulking and otherwise completely out of sorts for about the next hour.

    Fortunately, towards the end of the game I took a catch - one of those long, fast drives that I hate because you have so long to think about them - and then about four balls later I took another catch - one of those rockets that goes straight down your throat that you have no choice but to catch or risk serious injury, which I also hate and usually drop. That and the runout managed to salve my dignity somewhat, but there was still the batting to go.

    My batting continues to be erratic and unreliable. After surviving my first ball and getting byes because the keeper fell asleep, I had every intention of working to the team plan of just knuckling down and surviving the last ten or so overs. So what happened? First of all, understand that I stayed awake half the night mulling this over (which is an indication that I (a) take this way too seriously and (b) really need to cut down on my sugar levels again) so I now believe I have a clear perspective. what happened was that the bowler flung an absolutely shocking full toss that I should and ordinarily would have pulled straight to the boundary. I'm not kidding. This ball was awful (reminiscent of my over earlier, in fact). But I was still in "hunker down and play myself in" mode, and I had no intention of attacking even the rubbish. Added to that, I forgot the cardinal rule at the crucial moment, to watch the ball out of the bowler's hand. So I was set up to defend, realised at the latest possibly minute that it was a terrible ball and that it was coming straight for my solar plexus, and desperately tried to fend it off with a cross-bat flail. I missed. The ball pretty much bounced off the top of the stumps and I was bowled. Even the bowler looked embarrassed for me.

    I should have let it hit me (nobody would have given a ball that hits above the waist out LBW). It was a borderline no ball (but it hit the stumps, so it's pretty hard for the square leg umpire to call). But ultimately, the big coulda, shoulda, woulda is that I should have smacked the bastard for four. And if I hadn't been trying to play sensibly and get my eye in, I would have.

    I'm trying very hard not to learn any lessons from this. Except for that one about the sugar.

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