Thursday, February 26, 2004
Fists! Of! Justice!
So that massive multiplayer online RPG I mentioned a while back, City of Heroes, is about to come out. That's a link to a review page. The review makes it look pretty cool. I've never really bothered with the whole online gaming thing, but this one and the forthcoming Pirates of the Burning Sea game have started me thinking pretty seriously about it. Then again, who's got the time?
So we put in an offer on that one house (for a sum I would not have believed we could afford, had my very patient wife not explained the numbers to me) and the owners came back with a counter-offer $25,000 higher than we proposed. And bear in mind we already figure the place to be over-priced, based on the sale prices of similar properties in the area. But we can afford a few grand more, and we are pretty keen to get the place, so what we've come to is this question: "Do we want to give someone $5000 or $10000 for saying no to us?" We're already offering a little more than we think it's worth, and that's not good enough for the owners. We should probably leave it there rather than commit ourselves to overpaying, but it's a pretty nice place.
One of our problems is that we're not at all convinced the real estate agent even took our first offer to the vendors. Leaving aside the implicit accusation of massive ethical failure there, we just don't get a vibe of credibility from him. Then again, they could just be blinded by the feverish behaviour of the housing market late last year and have just not run aground on the shoals of reality yet. Whatever. At this stage we're going to leave them to think about it a few more days, then make another offer and see how they take it. We can go a little higher, but I'm not sure we will.
In which my employer finally admits it doesn't want me around any more
As I sit here and manifestly fail to do work-related typing, I'm looking at an amusing staff memo that was circulated this morning. It explains, using the usual HR doublespeak, that AusAID will soon become a haven for executive-level staff only, and the rank and file administrative scum such as myself will disappear from the equation. As you can imagine, the threat of losing my rewarding public service career is a matter of great distress to me.
What I find interesting is that it has taken almost two years since our "strategic plan" came out and made it clear that AusAID is heading towards becoming a policy think-tank, and only now does the Executive feel secure enough to point out the bleeding obvious: that a lot of people are going to lose their jobs. Oh, excuse me, I meant, become equipped "with the tools to help them find work elsewhere".
Cynicism aside, I am rather delighted in this new and unexpectedly honest approach to employee relations. The only things that concern me are whether they have given serious consideration to the impacts of this policy on the future of the AusAID cricket team? I mean, they can take the jobs of all us office mid-level dwellers (Take my job! Please!) but then who are they going to get to open the bowling?
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
A Weekend with Bowie and Friends
Simon and I headed north to Sydney on Thursday night, while Fiona went off in the other direction for her bike club AGM in Victoria. We were in the big smoke to catch up with Andrew and Anna and Evan, and to see David Bowie in concert. Highlights of the trip:
- The Birthday
- It was Andrew's birthday on Friday, and as a special treat we abused and ridiculed him a lot. Fun for all the family. I got him a copy of the complete "DR and Quinch" comic strips, because a life without the magic of time-twisting, high-explosive-abusing revelry and criminal disorder is a life half-lived. I made the bold claim that apart from V for Vendetta and parts of Watchmen, this was the best thing Alan Moore ever wrote. Now that I recall he also did several other very good series, I may have to back off from my hyperbole somewhat. But I still maintain it's the funniest thing he ever wrote, and that's saying something.
- The Massage
- Anna's massage shop is now up and running and appears to be doing good business. Certainly it deserves to. She treated us all to free massages and reminded me that there are few pleasures in life more worthwhile. Of course, I hadn't been able to move my neck properly for weeks and my back was a mess from cricket, so I might have been just the tiniest bit biased. But it was still fabulous.
- The Concert
- The opening riff from Rebel Rebel has been running through my head for weeks. I kept humming it to myself all day on Friday (driving everyone else nuts, because I wasn't being too musical about it). Bowie kicked off his show with exactly that riff (and the song it's traditionally attached to).
How happy is Dave? Dave is very happy.
It was a great show. The highlights for me were probably his very hard rock version of I'm Afraid of Americans, an excellent duet version of Under Pressure with his bass player, and the Suffragette City and Ziggy Stardust encore (there were a couple of others in the encore, but those two were the Big Finish). There was also a lot of stuff from the recent Reality album, which sounds a lot better live than it does on the CD.
Great show. If I was rich, I'd follow this tour everywhere and I doubt I'd be disappointed. But I would have to be very rich...
- The Barbecue
- Andrew barbecued some meat, Anna's mother served up a tonne of side dishes and salads, and there was beer and pool and occasional singing. Nola was there (having run into us outside Anna's shop the previous evening) and ChrisT, the Toad, and the Fellowses. Everyone was massively tired, but it was a fine evening of intellectual discourse (well, rude jokes, mostly) and catching up. We played some bits of the new album (the stuff that had had some rough mixing, anyway) and got at least a couple of laughs. The forced use of ice block names in Cornetto Girl provoked unexpected amusement...
Happiness is mandatory
Greg Costikyan (amongst others) is producing a new edition of the classic satirical roleplaying Paranoia. This is breathtaking news. You will Be Pleased. And for the massively geeky amongst us - which would probably encompass me at most - Greg's doing a designer's blog to talk about the development process. So far the good news is that they will be keeping the Commies and ditching the lameness that came with the "5th Edition" of the game.
Monday, February 16, 2004
Huh. Where the hell was this product when we recorded the latest Spit albums about nine months ago? You could be listening to new Spit material right now if we had used something intuitive and simple with lots of graphics that even a chimp can understand (as opposed to the product we are using to mix them, which has all sorts of inexplicable sliders and dials and I obviously don't understand). You, dear listener, have once again been cheated by the Too Slow March of Technology.
Or spared. Cheated or spared, one of those two.
Jittery News from ADD HQ
No time to write long blog updates, so here's a bunch of short ones instead:
Our is still not sold. Might buy one next week. Putting in an offer that's $40 K less than the asking price, so good chance it will be refused. No skin off our nose though.
Sonnie, Billie and Flynn spent Saturday night with us, before Billie took Flynn home on Sunday morning. He's a brilliant kid, but five minutes in the same room as him is the most exhausting experience imaginable. It's probable that Ian and Son will be moving to Canberra (Son's job prospects are better down here, and Ginge is looking for a change) so we will get to see more of him.
Jimbo's not sure what he'll do yet. One the one hand, most of the attraction of moving to Tweed was the lure of nephew-sitting. He doesn't have a job yet and the Gold Coast has one of the highest unemployment rates in Australia, so if they move he won't have anything much to keep him there. On the other hand, he runs the risk of staying in a rut if he comes back here (but if he does, we will be sure to impress him into house renovation service)...
Didn't get my hat trick yesterday. Did take a catch that was implausibly turned down as a bump-ball. Dropped two others (both very hard - I hate catching with my left hand) but had a pretty good day anyway. Our team is confirmed for the semi-finals and we're playing our preferred opponents (DFAT).
Everyone here is sick except me. What did I do to deserve this again? (Hang on, don't answer that). Very busy week, this week. Still don't actually like the job, needless to say.
Taking Friday off for the David Bowie concert. Heading up to Sydney with Simon on Thursday night, will spend a long weekend at Andrew and Anna's, along with Evan. Will be huge, if I'm not mistaken. But I have to get through the week first...
Thursday, February 05, 2004
House hunting for fun and profit
The house hunting continues. No real progress yet. We've driven past a couple of places and made a new list of places to visit on the weekend, but I'm not too confident that we're going to see anything that makes us excited. We looked at a house in Ainslie on Tuesday that was small, dark and somewhere between slightly and dangerously dilapidated. We were only considering it on the basis that the value of the land was good and it was four bedrooms, but on further consideration we decided that it would cost too much to fix structurally and be too uncomfortable to live in while the structural work was going on. So the search goes on.
And what about our place?
We had a dozen or so people through on Saturday, which was pretty gratifying as we hadn't advertised in the newspaper, just on Allhomes.com.au. We doubt anyone was actually interested in buying. We certainly didn't get any face to face feedback more detailed than "I like your bathroom", which is pretty much what we expected. Part of the service that CanReps (our marketing firm, for want of a better word) provides is to follow up with the people that had a look through the place and ask them what they really thought, to get some more clear feedback. We may discover that we are asking more than most people are willing to pay (it's certainly possible, though the more we look at the market as it stands the more we think that we have our price more or less at the right level). We may also discover that people really hate the colours, although we are not as concerned about that because we expect that we will most likely sell to someone looking for an investment rather than a place to live. Or maybe not. Guess we won't know until someone buys it.
Hail the cricket hero
Let me try to be modest here: I won an utterly unwinnable game of cricket on Sunday. Opposition equation: Six overs and three wickets in hand, 11 runs needed.
The Versace Solution: Three wickets in 1.4 overs. Opposition humiliated. Game wrested from jaws - nay, bowels of defeat. Hero status enshrined.
Feels good to have something to boast about, especially since earlier in the day I had been bowled for a duck for the fifth time this season...
Have I mentioned my hair lately?
It's short now. You wouldn't recognise me. I didn't, for a couple of days...
Happy birthday little man
It's nephew Flynn's second birthday today. He'll be getting the rest of his toy truck for his birthday (he got the first part at the markets the other day when he cunningly identified it as being for him...). And on Saturday, we're going for a picnic somewhere.