Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

November 16, 2011

Sad transition back into the workforce

It has been a long and tiring week, punctuated mainly by distractions, a little gaming and a horrible hacking cough over the weekend. Progress on the novel remains steady overall, though that’s mainly because I had a couple of very productive days at the start and end of the week rather than modest gains throughout. Still, I’m closing in on the nominal halfway mark, so the deadline remains a thing that could be achieved. And after all, I have that bet with Evan, so what better motivation could I possibly need?

The real change has been my return to work this week, after eight weeks at home looking after Childe Wombat. Sadly we could no longer afford to maintain my sensitive new-aged indolent lifestyle. I have returned to the workforce and she has joined her brother at childcare. I will miss taking her on long walks during the day – her favourite activity other than eating, and the only thing guaranteed to calm her occasions tantrums – but to be honest she’ll have a lot more fun there than she does with me.

As for work, I am reluctantly getting back into the groove of things. It would probably help if I hadn’t run headlong into one of our most painful and overdesigned bureaucratic processes, but I expect the need to focus on one laborious step after another will help recondition my public servant muscles.

(While I have been typing this, traffic out the front of my building has begun backing up behind roadblocks for Barack Obama’s presidential motorcade. Said motorcade, according to the live news feed on that television over there, has yet to leave the airport and make the ten-or-so-minute journey to parliament House. I boldly predict that when the roadblock is finally lifted there will follow madness and chaos and some very unhappy Canberra motorists. In fairness, though, they should have read the paper and known better than to use the main thoroughfare past both the House and the US Embassy. Twits.)

June 12, 2011

Back to the Island 1.23 – Born to Run

Filed under: back to the island,business continuity,fitter/happier — lexifab @ 11:16 pm

I have – please forgive the medical jargon – jiggered my neck something fierce. Freedom of movement and freedom from piercing stabby pain are fond memories, at least for the moment. Today I’m popping cheap Aldi paracetamol around the clock, something I never do, and trying hard not to turn around at sudden noises.

I should certainly not be hunched over a keyboard typing. I will try to make this quick.

The suspected cause of my ailment is the uncomfortably hard Sydney hotel bed I slept in for a couple of nights during the week. I don’t travel for work very often, and I have failed by and large to accumulate the useful set of minor skills that take the burdens out of travel. Sleeping in unfamiliar environments is the one I’m primarily thinking of. This hotel had the full set of irritants – the aforementioned concrete-lined bed, window furnishings completely inadequate for the task of blocking out the unpleasant grey-yellow light pollution, mildly warm and poorly circulated air and an unidentified anti-soothing white noise generator stored somewhere behind the walls. I might as well have been in the house from Poltergeist for all the sleep I got. My neck didn’t start hurting until the day after I got home, but I’m not uncertain about the source of my ailment.

Travel woes aside (I will refrain from complaining about taxis and airport waiting lounges because that would be more pointless than complaining about hotel accommodation) it was an excellent trip. I have managed to make it into my forties without ever having attended a conference before. No, I don’t count gaming conventions.

In my public service career I’ve always been content to take a generalist approach, in which I develop a broad range of widely useful skills but don’t build up to any specific expertise. I have dabbled on occasions in semi-professional fields like team leadership and change management, but only long enough to recognise that I don’t find them sufficiently compelling to pursue them further. The idea of moving into a professional discipline, of obtaining qualifications and accreditation and something recognisable as expertise, has never appealed.

I’m not so sure that’s the case with business continuity. There’s something about it that continues to resonate with me well beyond having sufficient general knowledge  to get my work done, which is the point at which my interest in most work-related subject matter fades. It comes as a surprise that an unwanted piece of legislatively-obligated busywork assigned to me more or less at random should turn out to be compelling and stimulating, let alone that it might signal a potential new career direction. Yet that is how it feels.

I’ve managed to put my finger on at least part of the picture, though there’s no doubt more to it than this. As long-time readers of this blog will be aware, I have always been rather critical of the operational decisions of the government organisation for which I work, which shall remain anonymous so that nobody at work accidentally Googles me. There are any number of things that I think my organisation could do better, and a few that I suspect they could not possibly do less well. There’s not much I can do about most of those things without hauling my arse up a management ladder to which it is particularly ill-suited.

Having business continuity responsibilities gives me, in effect, permission to be openly critical, along with the reasonable expectation that my bitching and moaning will be taken seriously. It’s my job to look at the organisation and point out where, in the event of a crisis, things will fail and problems will emerge. Of course I also have to make sure that I have a plan to deal with those anticipated failures and problems, but that’s a fair price to pay for being able to mouth off (in a constructive and analytical fashion, of course).

I find myself rather caught up in it. I was just about to launch into an overview of what business continuity actually means and the rather radical cultural transformation that my colleague and I are planning to inflict on our organisation. That might be going a bit far for a Sunday evening.

Here’s a Lost review instead. This is the penultimate episode before the (two-part) Season One finale. I think I will take a break from the reviews for a couple of weeks after I get the ‘Exodus’ ones done.

In that time I will concentrate on rewriting a short story that I started and scrapped, and working on the outline of a started-but-stalled novel that is not about what I originally thought it would be about. More on that when I have a better grip on what the hell I am talking about.

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