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!


Friday, May 30, 2003

That was the week that was

(I've almost certainly used that title before, but it's been a long day, and I'm tired, and it's been a long day and I'm tired. So there).

After several morning meetings during which I displayed exceptional (well, frankly, unprecedented) enthusiasm andcompetence, I told my director today that I'd put in for the transfer to the IT section. Considering that she's already expecting to lose two out of six members of her section in the next 3 or 4 weeks, it was pretty unwelcome news. She had a real "why are you kicking me when I'm already down?" expression that would have been immensely rewarding if she had had anything to do with my terminal job satisfaction. Unfortunately none of this is any of her fault, and if I go through with it she's going to be totally screwed over, and she knows it.

I had lunch with a couple of people from the section and told them what I was up to. They seemed (rightly) dubious about the IT position, pointing out (as I already knew) that it's very clearly a poisoned chalice which stands every chance of going monumentally awry through no fault of anyone involved but very much to their detriment. They suggested that I use the serious instability in the section to apply some leverage to the director to get me upgraded or at least paid above my substantive level.

It's rather mercenary and totally blackmail, so I'm not too comfortable with the idea. But as they point out, I have nothing to lose: either they find some way to get me promoted or upgraded, which means they get to keep me for another six months or so, or they don't succeed (or refuse to try) and I transfer to the IT job and they lose me, or they don't upgrade me or allow the transfer, and I stop working and start looking for another job. As long as I stick to my guns, I really have nothing to lose (except for having to find another job if everything goes wrong, that is).

It makes sense. It totally does. But the idea still makes me feel grubby. At least I have the weekend to think it through.


Gamin'

Last night's session totally rocked, even though I realised on the way home that I completely buggered up what I had intended to achieve with the vampire dwarf encounter. Also, I think I might have accidentally screwed Jimbo and Simon's characters with the level draining. I need to check that before next week's game. Which features our first, gen-u-whine old skool dungeon crawl...


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Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Mallrats - no points

Okay, so the injection of new blood into the mighty Tuesday night trivia team (ie me, Fiona, Chris and Meagan) didn't really help the Mallrats improve their standing from the previous week. Didn't help that we were all becoming increasingly annoyed with the compere, who got two questions flat-out wrong, mispronounced stuff all up and down the street, and asked too many daft things about footy. D'oh.

We didn't win any beer, but it was good to see John and Trudi again. John's store (which conveniently shares a wall with that same pub) should be ready for him to take possession tomorrow, assuming they've fixed the lights, leaks and various other niggles by then. He's aiming to have everything ready by Sunday for a Monday morning opening, which should be a nice interior decoration challenge. At any rate, at least he will have somewhere to put all the stock that's apparently piled up in their living room.


Retail envy

I have to admit, I'm feeling pretty jealous of John right now. About ten years ago, Linda and I planned to set up a comic shop under a government small business small grants scheme. It was to have been a dream come true (albeit in the shape of a dispiriting daily grind full of mounting debts and shoplifted stock, but only on Bad Dream Days). Our months of business planning and industry research gurgled off down the drain though, when the shop literally next door to where we were going to open expanded its stock to include comics. Bugger - scratch that idea. (You tread on my dreams! You bastards!)

I've distracted myself over the years with other projects, chiefly getting a public service job and dabbling in PBM, but running my own shop (which would probably focus more on gaming than comics, but I digress) remains a cherished dream, one that I would still like to make happen one of these days. I am skeptical as to whether Canberra could support another gaming shop (John's positioned himself way down south in Tuggeranong, though, which I think is a smart move), irrespective of my vaporous credentials as a small business operator or the conceivable availability of starting capital. In other words, I'm not throwing myself into this any time soon.

But a man can dream, can't he? A man can dream.

(Hmm. A man can also suddenly remember that in a little over a year he will be eligible for long service leave which upon retirement would equate to a big wad of cash...but then he could also recall that his wife intends for this to be used for an expensive, extended European trip, so he just drop that little notion if he knows what's good for him).


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Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Well now. Interesting

I just spoke to the supervisor of the IT project officer position that I want. He said that there had been no applicants whatsoever for the job. Good news for me. He's referred it back to the Director IT to see if the position can be retooled to be "fair" for an APS 4 (i.e. me).

A couple of thoughts on that: one, the fact that nobody else will touch this job with a barge pole should be setting off alarm bells, but I figure it can't be any less interesting to me than my current job, right? Right? cue the whippoorwills/crickets/tumbleweeds

Two: I'm glad someone's interested in reshaping the job to be more suitable for what they plan to pay me, but quite frankly I've already been working above my own level for over a year. If it means I can make a move out of the rut I'm in now, I'd rather they just took me and ruthlessly exploited my labour. That's what I'm used to after all.

Fingers remain crossed. I'm guessing it won't take them long to come to a decision (I come cheaper than they were planning to spend, I want to do it and if they get me they know they will be able to dump above-level work on me anyway, so I figure that the optimal choice ain't that difficult to deduce). The next stumbling block will be whether my own branch or the Staff section will allow me to move, especially with all this above-level work hanging over my head...


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Localised phenomenon

So I'm wondering whether I should go to the local roleplaying convention Phenomenon this year, if only because this year it's being held literally right around the corner from my house. I didn't go last year, because the year before had been a kind of demoralising experience in terms of game quality.

To be fair though, it was mostly Jimbo, Simon and John that got badly burned by a really crappy GM. I played in a couple of games that they weren't in, and while one of them was kind of sub-par (thanks to the Shrieking Cackle Woman who ran the game, and the plot that didn't go anywhere interesting, and the complete boning we got at the hands of a gelatinous cube), the others were pretty entertaining. And I quite enjoy [1] playing with strangers and checking out how the other half games.

Part of the problem, too, is the rather arbitrary quality of the Living Greyhawk games, which are what we played at the last Pheno we attended. LG is a sort of world-wide campaign in which untold thousands play the same adventures and receive rankings based on their success or failure to achieve specific goals [2]. Many of these adventures enjoy an at best fleeting acquaintance with the concepts of fun, balance and quality control, and are frustratingly inflexible. True, some of them are good (especially the locally-written ones) but many of them are very, very bad indeed.

Still, knowing that, it is possible to kind of have fun with them [3], as long as you keep your head together and your expectations limited. It just becomes a question of whether it's worth taking the time.

But I do kind of want to have a go at playing as opposed to running D&D3E, and I am naturally competitive, so I think I will go along to at least a couple of sessions. But I'm not sure I will be able to convince any of the others to go along for moral support. [4].


Suffer not a fool to learn IT

All this resurgence of enthusiasm for roleplaying is doing bad things for my enthusiasm for the IT studies I'm supposed to be doing. I should be doing 3-5 hours study per week, but I'm predisposed to be distracted by the least little thing, and it's not getting done. I'm pretty well advanced on the HTML course, but I haven't even opened the Word manual. The deadline for finishing both courses (sometime in July) is looming and I need to really knuckle down, but instead I watch TV, read books and potter about with roleplaying manuals.

I haven't neglected my self-improvement efforts completely - I've done quite a lot of work towards the complete redesign of this site, which I will be submitting as my final assignment for HTML, and I am actually learning how to implement code slightly more sophisticated than a blog entry, but I have rather neglected the set assignments in doing so.

Being all fired up for a self-improvement course and then discovering that I resent having to learn on my own time is, of course, nothing new to me. In fact, it's a pretty obvious pattern of behaviour in my life: Italian language, Scouts, flute, cartooning etc etc. I'm mercurial. No sooner do I scratch the surface and get a little knowledge than I begin losing interest, unless there's someone else around to keep me focused and enthusiastic [5] (hence the strange longevity of Spit). I seem to have an in-built off-switch that says "Ah, I now have a broad understanding of the concept. Don't bother me with details". I have a real enthusiasm for a breadth of knowledge, but virtually no devotion to depth.

I've always wondered what that was all about, but then I get bored thinking about it and go and find something to read.


Trivia and beer, together at last

Fiona and Meagan and I are joining Simon, Jimbo, Chris, John and Greg at a pub trivia night tonight. Given my love of showing off my (aforementioned) breadth of knowledge of shallow factoids and my fondness for establishments that serve Irish beer, you would think that this would be something I'd do more often.


  1. At least I enjoy it in principle. In practice, there are an awful lot of freakishly horrible geeks out there, and conventions tend to be the sort of place you run into them.
  2. As Jimbo puts it: "Must compete with total strangers!"
  3. Ask me about my horse-assassinating elf character! Or don't.
  4. Maybe ChrisT, who hasn't been put off yet. Wanna run the gauntlet with me?
  5. And considering I'm undoubtedly hell to work with when I'm doing something I'd rather not, the rewards for taking such a coaching role are pretty small.

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Monday, May 26, 2003

The Matrix Reloaded

We've seen it now. Man, them Wachowskis know how to write a long sentence, don't they? And I totally believe a Kanoo can fly.

Let the speculative pseudo-philosophomising begin...


The research continues

The sample size of the interactive roleplaying credentials survey grows ever larger, but does the data reveal anything new or interesting? Well, probably not, but I figured that since everyone was sufficiently enthused to send me their results, I might as well put 'em all together.






















































































ReaderHacklustSensitive RoleplayingGM ExperienceSystem KnowledgeLivin' la Vida DorkaOverall
Lexifab24.53%25.3%21.01%70.9%37.93%38.01%
Doctor Clam36.79%22.78%29.71%80.51%63.22%48.38%
Teale50.94%43.04%64.49%93.96 %78.16%68.58%
Tarrant36.79%15.19%20.29%79.66%34.48%40.99%
Jennifer61.32%54.43%66.67%92.8%70.11%71.13%
Chris F29.00%34.00%47.00%89.00%48.00%53.00%
Otherblog55.66%31.65%45.65%93.96%66.67%???
ChrisT25.47%41.77%66.67%83.47%57.47%57.95%


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Friday, May 23, 2003

Stuffed

That's what I am today. My brain is totally fuzzy, and no amount of coffee (well, not three cups, anyway) seems to be able to get me going.

I'm supposed to be watching The Two Towers tonight. Ugh. I want to, but I'm sure I don't want to fall asleep in the middle of it. The unbelievably uncomfortable seats at Centre Cinema should help keep me awake, I think.


Results

Here's a table stacking the results of several dedicated Lexifab readers' Roleplaying Purity tests. Why? Just because, okay?



























































ReaderHacklustSensitive RoleplayingGM ExperienceSystem KnowledgeLivin' la Vida DorkaOverall
Lexifab24.53%25.3%21.01%70.9%37.93%38.01%
Doctor Clam36.79%22.78%29.71%80.51%63.22%48.38%
Teale50.94%43.04%64.49%93.96 %78.16%68.58%
Tarrant36.79%15.19%20.29%79.66%34.48%40.99%
Jennifer61.32%54.43%66.67%92.8%70.11%71.13%


I'm too tired to do any actual analysis there (or to work out why that big gap has appeared), but it seems obvious that I've read and GM'ed way to many roleplaying systems to be considered entirely healthy, and so has Amanda.

And Jenny needs a nickname.



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Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Further ruminations on purity

Okay, so I eventually figured out that the lower the score on a purity test, the more "pure" you are. Which makes me a complete geek after all.


Ouch

In the spirit of cataloguing my ridiculously frequent indoor cricket injuries, today's wound is a spectacular bruise on my ribcage. This was caused by my rolling - at speed, with my entire body weight - over my own hand, which was clenched around the ball. I did manage to painfully disentangle myself long enough to get a run out, however, which almost made it worthwhile.


Sydney seminar

Woke up (in pain) at 5 this morning to get Fi to the airport. She's in Sydney until tomorrow night, attending some sort of intranet managers' conference. No doubt that will be a thrill of no small magnitude.

She'd also visiting her brother Niall, who has just returned from St Petersburg, the bastard. He was over there competing in some international floral design competition run by Interflora, about which I could find nothing on the net. He was selected as a last-minute substitution on the Australian team. He came 15th in a field of 125, the top-ranked Australian and the youngest competitor by about 15 years. He's received an automatic invitation back to next year's event. Looks like he's pretty good, then...


I'm tired. I'm going home early.

I got nothing to add to that, except that I will probably spend the afternoon snoozing or reading George R.R. Martin's second A Song of Ice and Fire novel, A Clash of Kings (which is good), or otherwise neglecting my IT studies, the deadline for which do fast approach...


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Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Not that pure, I guess

Purity tests, for those of you lucky enough never to have come across this particular shade of geekdom, are surveys of obsessiveness. That is, they're long lists of questions pertaining to some hobby or pursuit that asks increasingly pointed (and usually personal) questions in order to rate the respondent's unsettling depth of interest in that particular subject. The first ones, of course, were about sex. Like a lot of things that existed in limited circulation prior to 1992, they've proliferated with the growth of the net. Now you can find purity tests about just about anything.

This one, about roleplaying, is doing the rounds at the moment.
Your
Ultimate Roleplaying Purity Score
CategoryYour ScoreAverage
Hacklust24.53%
Has conversations in between massacres
52%
Sensitive Roleplaying25.32%
All the game's your stage
49.4%
GM Experience21.01%
Closer to a novel than to a campaign
66.2%
Systems Knowledge70.9%
Local rules guru
88.6%
Livin' La Vida Dorka37.93%
Carries dice in pocket 'just in case'
58.7%
You are 38.01% pure
Average Score: 65.7%


I'm apparently not that roleplaying pure. Just as well, really, given some of the questions asked. If you take it, let me know how you did.

Mind you, I reckon those averages are pretty dubious.


Dressing gown update

Still warm. Canberra weather is shifting up to winter mode, but I'm still toasty warm in the mornings. I like my new dressing gown.


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Monday, May 19, 2003

Where was I?

I thought I'd done a Lexifab entry on Thursday or Friday, but it's not up there and I can't find any sign of it on my system. Either I just imagined it, or I'm the victim of temporal manipulations by aliens trying to shut me up because I'm just too damn close to the truth!

You heard it here first.

What puzzles me is that apart from the deranged amount of work to be done prior to this week's consultation meetings in Manila (I'm not going, but I'm preparing the reams of reading material for the people who are), it was actually a pretty slow week. Makes it hard to work out what those aliens are trying to suppress, exactly.

Thursday night was D&D as usual. I started in the new direction with what was very much an "old skool" intro - the patron who hands the adventurers their task on a platter. To hell, I decided, with waiting for the players to make up their minds about what dangling plot threads to follow up. Instead I held up a sign that said "Go this way", and they happily followed it. Sooner or later we'll get back to the dangling plot threads, but for now it's some nice simple Point A to Point B to Point C adventurin'. Oh, and possible death by mummy rot, which is also old skool in the extreme.

After a particularly tortuous work day on Friday (which called for two pints at the pub at lunchtime) we had some dinner at our favourite Chinese place with Chris, Simon, Meagan, Kath and Hector, then went to watch Fellowship of the Rings at the Centre Cinema. Centre is one of Canberra's oldest cinemas, independent of the big cinema chains, and inclined to show quirky/foreign/controversial stuff. Hence it is going out of business, as it is unable to compete with the Hoyts around the corner that has access to the big box office draws like Matrix Reloaded and X2.

Before it dies completely, CC is having a festival of old and new cinema classics, which for reasons best understood by the management includes both Lord of the Rings movies, so I'm leading a campaign to watch them one more time on the big screen. I've only seen The Two Towers that one time, so it will be good to get another fix until the DVD comes out in August or whenever. And hey, DVD just can't deliver moments like the one on Friday night when the projector somehow showed one of the final scenes upside down and back to front for a few seconds (must have dropped a mirror out of the equation somehow). It was pretty funny.


Shish-ka-ma-bobs ho!

The irrepressible Tedverine joined us for our barbecue to thank the pergola-construction and dirt-displacement volunteers on Saturday. It was a pretty good day, lots of fun conversation and good food (although I didn't cook the vegetarian shishkebabs for long enough, which was a pity. Sorry 'bout that). Oddly, we have a remarkably large amount of beer and vodka left over, but fortunately the Eurovision Song Contest party is just a couple of weeks away, so there'll be plenty of opportunities to correct that sorry state of affairs.


Badgers and maple syrup

Ted was also the guest of honour at a Sunday morning pancake breakfast, at which we dissed Linda's spirited defence of Reign of Fire, mocked the coffee-ordering capacity of Pancake Parlour staff and made extraordinarily funny and odd badger jokes, for some reason. And then Fiona and I bought ourselves some warm dressing gowns for the winter, because apparently hibernating is once again off the agenda.

I test-wore mine this morning. Sure was warm.


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Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Beware the Howl of the Tedverine

Oh brother. The question is, is this all some sort of dubious ploy to get felt up by models in blue body paint?

Because, you know, if it works...


Worked out

Work's frantic, because we have the Budget tomorrow [BUH-jet (n); device for artificially stimulating the panic glands of public servants and ensuring that May is a Dull News Month for everyone else] and an Ambassador-level meeting with the Government of Philippines next week. Lots of cables and briefings and general paper-generating going on, and not enough time to do it.

Later
I just got back from having another coffee with the guy who is in charge of the IT project area I want to move to. Good news and bad news, more or less as expected. He spoke with the branch head, who recalls me from when I previously worked under him, and seems to remain generally well-disposed towards my being considered. So everyone in a position to make a decision is taking my interest seriously. That's the good news.

The bad news is that they are committed to the process of canvassing candidates at the APS 5 level, against which I can't compete until my name scrolls off The List. So unless that happens in the next couple of weeks (it won't), I am stuck with waiting and hoping that they don't find a suitable applicant at that level. If they do, they are compelled to take them (whether or not I would be better). Only if they don't get a suitable candidate at the advertised level can they then look at me.

It's not a guarantee - I wouldn't even bet on it - but there are a few points in my favour. One is that I belong to a reasonably rare breed within AusAID of people who are not especially interested in aid and development, per se. I came in as a generalist, but AusAID stopped recruiting generalists a while ago, so there aren't too many of us about. The branch into which the IT team slots is generally considered a career backwater amongst the general Agency population, because it doesn't have a lot to do with development - being appointed to a position within the branch is usually regarded as a dead end (and to be fair, by and large that perception is 100% dead-on accurate). My greatest advantage, then, is that I want to work where virtually nobody else does, and I don't much care what it does to my career in AusAID, as long as it entertains me.

So my fingers remain crossed for at least another fortnight, when the advertised vacancy closes, and I hope against hope that there isn't someone out there who hates their job even more than I do and is so desperate to get out of their current foxhole that they will take anything, even an albatross of an IT development project.


Prepped and ready

After a couple of flat D&D sessions in succession, I've been looking at changing my approach to game preparation. Normally I sit down and stat out a few opponents and monsters, give them a sinister agenda and a lair, tie them into the greater plot and run from there.

My ideal roleplaying session, though, would centre on the players actively pursuing their characters' own personal agendas, driving the game forward because they want to achieve a particular goal and couldn't give a stuff about what I had prepared. It's almost happened a couple of times, but I think I've been largely responsible for dropping the ball. This is because I tend to freeze creatively if I have to give an immediate answer to a question about in-game details (in case I get them "wrong"). I also do a lot of thinking (mostly when work is at its most boring) about what I should have done and how I should approach things, coming up with all sorts of neat, good-game-facilitating tricks to try, and then totally forget them when I sit down to run the game. (Exactly the same thing happens when I attempt to bat in cricket).

I'm always holding the game up while I refer to my notes on the most irrelevant details or dragging out a boring conversation with an uninteresting NPC, instead of just concentrating on getting the general feel of things correct, and throwing in the occasional splashes of wild or weird colour. And there are a few other things that tend to happen in our sessions that kill the mood or the pace, which makes it that much more of a struggle to get the creative momentum going again. (That's why a lot of gaming groups ban out-of-character talking and jokes, which is perhaps further than I would ever want to go, but I certainly see their point).

Anyway, for the next session I have written myself a GM's Rules of Engagement, to remind myself of the approach I want to take and to help start cementing the techniques that will (hopefully) make the game more interesting. So, guys, if the game starts to stall and you can see that I am floundering, remind me to "look at the rules of engagement".

Of course, it's a two-way street - the players are going to have to work out what their characters really want, and how they might go about getting it. The job for me is to make sure that they understand the world the characters live in, so that they know what resources are available and what kinds of obstacles may stop them from achieving their goals.

And, of course, to introduce a metric ton of drow sorcerors for them to fight.


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Monday, May 12, 2003

Okay, a bit nervous now

I went and had a coffee with the guy who supervises the IT position I'm interested in. It sounds challenging - no, scratch that, it sounds like damned hard work, like trying to steer a runaway bus while everyone watching on is pretending they want you to make it but secretly wants to see a big explosion. It would be a politically-charged grind, over which a lot of opposing interests would attempt to exert influence. It would involve long hours and horrible contract and finance dramas.

I want this job.

Whether thinking makes it so is anyone's guess. But I think I convinced him that I'm serious and worth at least looking at. And he's convinced me that he'd be good to work with, serious and committed, but not an autocrat (although he might have workaholic tendencies, or it might just be a very busy time for the project, especially seeing that they're down two out of three staff at the moment...).

The only thing that worries me - and it's only a minor worry - is that I was perhaps too frank for my own good in explaining that I was after this job because of my increasing awareness that I have no real interest in being part of "the new AusAID" of policy research and analysis and that I preferred a project-style role where something tangible is produced. It's true, but it's not always a good thing to have known around the Agency. But it seemed to strike a chord with him, so the gamble (so to speak) may have paid off.

Assuming they want me and not someone else, the main obstacle now is whether our staffing people are prepared to go to the hassle of moving me across to the job. Since it would probably work out cheaper for them to take me than is currently planned, my fingers are now crossed that AusAID's notoriously inflexible budget circumstances can actually be made to work in my favour, for once.


Drains good

The final pergola attachments were duly bashed into place yesterday afternoon. The drain opens up onto a suspended chain, down which (most of) the water runs, into a galvanised iron bin at the base. Said bin is yet to be painted bright colours, but the important thing is that the whole arrangement appears to be reasonably functional (there's some splattering of recalcitrant drops that are not quite captured by the chain, but I think it would only be an issue in the heaviest downpours, in which case it probably won't matter. We'll need some rain for field testing, though.

However, the main thing is that the pergola is now structurally complete, in time for this weekend's barbecue for all the otherwise-unpaid workers who helped us put it up. Now if only the damned lawn would actually grow, the yard would be done.


Worrying trend

Ever since we started work on the garden and pergola, I've noticed my interest in watching home renovations/lifestyles shows has increased disturbingly. I watch with fascination as Jamie Durie and his presentationally-challenged gang knock up a water feature or a Mediterranean-style deck or an elevated herb garden or whatever. I even find myself nodding thoughtfully as they declare, straight-faced, that "It's easy" to the accompaniment of bandsaws and power drills and nailguns, instead of laughing with bitter hysteria.

Creepy, I know.


Sushi and Fu

We had dinner with Jo on Saturday night, and ate hand-rolled sushi (there was a technical Japanese term for it, which translates to "hand sushi") and watched The Big Boss, starring Bruce Lee. I was a little disappointed, as she had originally thought that it was Fists of Fury that she had taped, and I was kind of looking forward to seeing some Lee-fu that I'd never gotten around to watching before. TBB is pretty dire, and doesn't actually feature Bruce doing much, but I enjoyed seeing it again anyway.

One thing I noticed (to the extent that the shoddy direction and irrelevant camerawork permitted) is that Lee's martial arts lacks the grace and style of latter-day stars of Fu like Jackie Chan and Jet Li, but more than makes up for it in sheer speed and functionality. He really did have the balance and style of someone who could kill you before you even saw him move. It would have been interesting to see what impact modern cinematic action choreography would have had on his style.


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Friday, May 09, 2003

Status: Just as well it's a bloody weekend...

I shouldn't be disappointed. I shouldn't even be surprised.

Yet again it looks like the promotion list will be allowed to expire without my gaining any benefit from the process. I made the mistake of speaking to our staffing section about possibly taking up the option of grabbing an APS 5 position in IT that is on offer but which nobody else appears to want. Not only did they rule out the possibility of moving me into that position at level and then promoting me if and when they scrolled down to my name on the list, but they also casually mentioned that the Agency would be looking at paying for salary increases in the next certified agreement by scrapping still more 5's, 6's and EL-1's. The positions that do the bulk of the work, in other words. How the fuck they are going to make that work I have no idea.

I don't care either. The admission that they are quite happy to continue having me do work at one or even two levels of responsibility above the level at which they are prepared to pay me is now out in the open. Since I'm apparently not going anywhere, I guess I have three options: I can continue to accept the situation and keep doing more than I'm being paid for; I can assertively decline to do particular tasks that I perceive are in excess of the financial compensation I receive, or I can walk.

I know which one I want to do. It's a pity I like getting paid.

So fuck it. At least it's a bloody weekend. On Monday, I'm talking to the guy supervising the IT position anyway, to find out whether it's something that I would at least be happy to work on. If I like the sound of it, I'll take it, and I don't particularly care who it inconveniences. I'm going to stop trying to be so accommodating and flexible with a workplace that has gone to what must be great pains to screw me around for the past four years.


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Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Holidays. So near and yet -

We received an invitation to my nephew Flynn's naming ceremony yesterday, but I'm pretty sure we're not going to be able to make it. It comes at pretty much the same time as Evan, Chris and Andrew are planning to record the next Spit album, for which I'm equally unsure whether I can get away from work. It's near to the end of financial year, and apparently I have numerous responsibilities of which I am mercifully ignorant. It could be that I'll be all packed and ready to go and we'll suddenly realise that we're supposed to have some sort of hugely important budgeting task that should have been done yesterday etc etc.

This is pretty annoying. At a stretch, I would say that keeping my job is more important to me than recording a Spit album - although since the point of the recording is to get together for a few days with my friends and basically have a fun time and tell a lot of stupid jokes, it's obviously still I'd rather be doing than working - but I certainly don't rank it above family, and particularly not my one and only nephew. I hate to disappoint Ian and Sonia and I really don't want Flynn to grow up not being able to recognise his Crazy Uncle Dave.

Have to think more about this. May need to throw money at the problem, which is at least one thing that having a painful government job is good for.


Good news/Bad news

This is about indoor cricket, but not actually about playing it.

Last week Murray, the guy with whom I used to work whose organisation and motivation provided the impetus to keep the team going after it stopped being an AusAID team, became a father last week. He and his partner Megan had a baby boy last Wednesday morning, who for some inexplicable reason (hopefully not cricket-related) they have named Jonty. That's the good news.

I just heard from Dave, the third member of the team organising triumvirate, that one of our regulars, Pete McGovern, was killed in a car crash on the weekend. I didn't know Pete that well, but he was one of Dave's best friends. Dave's spent the last two days with Pete's family, who are distraught, on top of which he is fighting a flu. He's had a pretty ordinary past few days.

Under the circumstances, I thought it would be appropriate to call tonight's game off, but Dave wants to go ahead with it. I don't know whether to him that's a gesture of respect to Pete, or if he just needs a break. Apart from offer sympathy, I'm not sure what I can do to help. All I can think of is to organise a card for the family and pass it around at the game, so I am heading across the road to the newsagents as soon as I have posted this.


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Friday, May 02, 2003

X! X! X!

Oh boy oh boy! Gonna be watching the new X-Men movie in an hour and a half. My geek indicators are redlining! Between Big Mutant Action, Rampaging Green Id Monster With Jennifer Connelly (aka Ang Lee's Incredible Hulk) and Cyberpunk Superheroes with Guns (aka The Matrix Reloaded), they're off the scale!

It's a good time to be unashamedly nerdy.


Church Weddin'

Somehow my exciting account of our extended Easter break failed to mention that it ended with a wedding. Fiona's father David married his fiancÚ Betty in a quaint little church in Reid on Saturday the 26th. Happy to report that there were no disasters, although it was a near thing when, whilst shuttling the mother and best friend of the bride to the wedding (I guess I look a bit responsible in a dinner suit), some idiot randomly slammed on his brakes on the freeway so that he could watch some rally cars go past. Nitwit.

The ceremony was entirely religious, but pleasantly brief, and from there it was off to the reception at the National Library. After some chilly drinks overlooking the lake, we retired inside for an excellent cordon bleu meal (oddly enough not the best one we had had all week) and dancing to a truly seventies-bound soundtrack. The good food, interesting company and buckets of fine wine kept it from tipping over into ghastly kitsch, happily. A fine night was had by all, and the happy couple seem...well, happy. What more can you ask?


Breakin' up ain't that hard to do, apparently

The next day, we got a visit from Fiona's cousin Erika, who had the family wedding about two weeks before ours (must be the financial year for it). Apparently her husband Chey has walked out, presumably desperate to score a point off her before she did the throwing. Lots of issues, which aren't any of my business, but the fact is that the split didn't really come as a surprise.

He is basically a manipulative control freak. His idea of being a good husband is "not going out on the piss every night with his mates or beating you up" (Uhhh, yeah, goodonya mate, very retro-reconstructed SNAG). In most respects that I could see he's basically an immature, self-absorbed twonk. Fiona and Meagan (and Erika, for that matter) seem to agree with this assessment.

The big question is: why didn't we say that before she married him? It's all very well to see a train wreck coming a mile off, but maybe we should have tried a bit harder to find some brake to pull?

I dunno, it's a hard one. I mean, the last thing you want to do is hurt your friendship by criticising someone's choice of partner. And the fact is, we could have been wrong - we hadn't really met the guy that many times before the wedding. But considering she's probably now likely to go through a painful (and potentially expensive) divorce after only about six months, it makes it hard in retrospect to see what made us hold our tongues.

One thing's for sure, if she ever brings another prospective over to meet us and I smell crapweasel, I'm speaking up. Same goes for the rest of you, so make sure you make a good life partner call, okay?


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Thursday, May 01, 2003

Big Important Meeting Day

The big important project appraisal meeting that I have been organising for a month is on in an hour. I'm not really ready, I'm nervous as hell and I am relying rather more on hope than preparation that it all goes well.

So why am I writing a blog instead of reading over my notes? Good question. Let me get back to that after I've finished procrastinating.

The sad thing is, I know that it will go fine, even though nobody else in attendance attaches anything like the same level of importance to this that I do (why should they?) and that it's primarily a discussion and that no real decisions are likely to come out of it. In the grand scheme of things, it's a procedural step in what amounts to a fairly small-scale project.

I'm saying all this to make myself less terrified, of course.


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