Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016: Year in Review

Hi everyone,

Time for a 'year in review' post, no?  2016 has been a year of constantly rising to the occasion.  Fairly predictably, a lot of that has involved being in orange.

January brought appointment as Controller of the Tatura SES Unit.  I remember thinking that I'd bitten off way more than I could chew with this one.  After all, I'd never run anything before except litigation (which doesn't really count).  I've surprised myself with this one.  I certainly can't say that I'm the best Controller in the service, or even in my region.  On the other hand, the unit has gained new members and only lost members in numbers which I think we would have lost through natural erosion.  I've been very lucky to be supported by talented Deputy Controllers and a skilled Section Leader, and despite a few missteps I think the unit is doing broadly OK.

I surprised myself the other night when I had to have a 'difficult' conversation with a certain unit member.  I can't give the details, but if you've had to do that sort of thing you'll know why it's not easy.  I wasn't panicky or alarmed: I got on with it and I'm confident I can manage the fallout I predict in the week or two ahead.

February brought another SES matter: the Coxswain's Course.  This one was personally important to me.  Boating and river life were very important to the ex, her being from south Louisiana.  Somehow it was important to me to show that I was capable of operating a rescue boat in floodwater and of keeping the boat and crew safe.  I'm proud of the fact that I completed the course and attained this competency.  This one really mattered to me.

March and April saw my first fatal callouts: a road accident near Tatura and a land search near Murchison.  Surprisingly, neither was especially troubling, even in the road accident where at about 2am I found myself in a car trying to free the deceased's legs while my mate tried to create space with the spreaders.  The only odd experience afterwards was that for half of the next day I could still feel his legs in my hands.  There's no great honour in going to callout for a death: you don't become part of an elite within the service or anything.  But it's a personal Rubicon when you know you've been to something bad, but you've still done your job the way you were trained to do it.  That's something you can be proud of.

Mid year brought my departure from Goulburn-Murray Water.  I can't say I was sorry: I certainly miss having a regular income, but I don't at all miss the job.  GMW had actually modernised in the 1990s ... by dragging themselves into the 1950s.  Frankly, I have no idea why my job existed at all: I had done all the work on most days by about 11:00am and then sat around surfing the net for the rest of the day.  Asking my boss for more work only got me jobs which were so trivial or pointless as to be humiliating (please relabel the covers of these obsolete CD-ROMs!), and I was expressly forbidden from offering to help out any other section.  I can only wonder how many other utterly useless jobs there are in that corporation

In about August I had another milestone in orange.  We had flooding in this area, and I - yes, me: Captain Useless - was tasked with running the job of sandbagging a house to protect it, including managing SES members from all over creation, firefighters, and even a work team from the prison.  I shouldn't have managed.  I shouldn't have coped.  But it worked and broadly I think I did a good job.  I can tell you I was surprised that I did a decent job.

Even Facebook doesn't have much that's interesting to tell me about the last part of this year.  I'm still unemployed.  I'm still volunteering with the Legal Service and SES and Red Cross.  And I'm still running.  I finished out this year with a nice long 20kms.  It was good to go - I was able to be barechested most of the way, and the only nuisance was having to run through a couple of big pools of runoff water from recent rains, so for most of the way I had wet feet.

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What's coming up in 2017?  I have a few plans to talk about tomorrow.  But I can tell you it'll be a different year.  This year had a lot of new ground broken, but it had a lot of drifting.  In many ways I feel I've grown a year but achieved precious little.  In 2017 I'll break through to better days or crash and burn altogether

Image from here

Party hard tonight friends, and get a good night's sleep.  2017 is going to be big.

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