Wednesday, 29 February 2012

An intense Wednesday

Hi everyone,

It's been another day of very intense work.  I was going flat out to have a couple of fairly complex files ready for case review today, and also conducting negotiations at the Magistrates Court by remote control (well, specifically by phone).  It all had a happy ending.  I did well in the case reviews.  A few details missing but nothing disastrous.  I can win this!  The matter at court settled at the limit of our instructions but not so high as to mess up our KPIs.  And another matter resolved after some negotiations away from the Court today as well.  So, I got the results sheets in so the outcomes can go on the figures for February.  If I've got the numbers right, I should have billed somewhere between $30K-$40K for this month.  I think I can equal that for March too with luck.

Little else to note.  I took some suits for dry cleaning and also made it a late night at the office (again).  This should be the last one for a bit.  The novelty of eating frozen or canned groceries heated in the microwave every night is losing its novelty, and I'm really looking forward to a tuna bake I've promised myself for tomorrow night, work permitting.

I'm sorry I don't have anything more profound to add.  I've genuinely been too busy to keep more than half an eye on the news, although I notice that the matter of Gabe Watson in Alabama resulted in his acquittal.  I'm not sure what to make of that.  The conviction for manslaughter in Queensland he received here seems to me like the only outcome that could have resulted, even if the Queensland DPP had proceeded with a charge of murder (See R v Stone & Dobinson; R v Instan).  Notwithstanding the insurance arrangements he might have pressed his wife to enter, I'm not sure I see that this is evidence that he intended or thought it was probable he'd kill or cripple her and in doing so brought about her death (R v Crabbe).  On the other hand, I'm reluctant to assume that the prosecutors in Alabama were pressing ahead with a prosecution they believed lacked merit, notwithstanding the politics of it all.  Presumably the Ala. laws of evidence and relating to murder made a conviction a plausible prospect.

OK, it's after midnight and bedtime.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Tuesday Evening with the Sixteen

Hi everyone,

So it's been an interesting day.  Well, interesting might not be the word.  Full?  Busy?  Not sure.  I had no court or meetings today, so I could focus on getting work done.  The "issue matrix" system has proved its weight in gold today: On two files I had a total of about 1,500 pages of medical records to go through.  Usually this would have taken the better part of the day and generated a massive and patchy memo of questionable value.  Now: 4.5 hours total and data that's accessible.  How in the name of Cookie Monster did it take me ten years to figure this out?  Well, possibly not being at risk of unemployment had something to do with it.  On that note, the next meeting re performance management is next Wednesday, so that's some more breathing space I have.  Good.  I can still win this.  Peter's probably right: fundamentally I'm probably ill-suited to being a lawyer.  But for the moment it's the only job I have, and I don't much care for the idea of being a cleaner again (a job I last had when I was 18).

There was a lunchtime seminar today on negotiation.  Useful.  And included a free lunch courtesy of the firm.  Score.

I worked back a bundle of hours this evening for obvious reasons.  Although it worked out OK in a way.  First, it was reasonably productive.  Secondly, it's easier to do since I took my old radio in.  ABC-FM was doing a live broadcast of The Sixteen from the Melbourne Recital centre, so that was the best accompaniment I could have wished for.  Me, a file, and the sounds of the Italian renaissance.

Not much else to report.  Haven't heard from Joni today, but FB tells me she's doing OK.  I hope so, at least.

Court tomorrow.  I have a depressing feeling the matter will run.  It's crappy case from the plaintiff, and if it runs, they should actually lose, but things being how they are I have no desire to be stuck in Court for 2-3 days.  I'll post tomorrow as to how it went. 

See you tomorrow.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Guild night Monday

Hi everyone,

Well, it's been a busy Monday.  It was raining all morning and positively pouring on the way from the tram to the office.  I was busy in the earlier part of the day preparing for case reviews with my boss at 10:30, which when they got underway took till a bit after Midday.  The new way of capturing information from summonsed records is working so far, so that's good.  A little fine-tuning is needed, and I need to figure out to how get the typists to do them in dictation, but it's still showing a ton of promise.

Ther afternoon was a bundle of tidying up, plus a quick check-in with Peter re how I'm travelling.  I'm feeling much much better than last week.  Even, dare I say it, energised again.  Encouraging!  I just hope I have enough time to show them I can come good.  I look at the great people I work with, and I hate to think of crashing out of it all because I wasn't up to it. 

This evening I went out to the meeting of the Arms Collectors Guild.  Chiefly because both me and Dad are members, and it's a chance to catch up with him.  It's one of those things where you kind of grumble about going to it until you get there and you remember why you enjoy it.  Kind of weird, I guess.  Dad's doing well.  He and Mum have acquired the new place near Shepparton, so he's looking forward to that venture.  That's great - he'd go made without a project to tackle.

We had dinner at the meeting and then I headed back here.  Shave, teeth brushed, and now blogging.

I miss my little girls tonight.  Joni put up on FB about how in the morning she hears them over the baby monitor talking to each other - sometimes words, mostly just babbling, but also laughing and singing.  I miss my little family.  Still, they're getting the sort of start in life there we want them to have, so if we need to be apart for a bit longer to make sure that's a reality, then I can stomach it.  I just hope that when they're old enough to know I was away so long, they understand that it was because their mommy and me wanted what was best for them, and this was how we could give it to them.

OK, it's just after 11pm and I need an early night.  Lot of work to tackle tomorrow so an early start is a necessity.  Wish me luck!

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sunday, Sunday

Hi everyone,

It's been a quiet Sunday.  You might be able to tell from the time-stamp on yesterday's post that I put it up rather late last night and so I slept correspondingly late this morning.  Shame on me.  Anyway, once I got the day underway I decided the best things I could do were to check my stocks of postal supplies (as in, envelopes and stamps, not as in, going to conduct a massacre) so as to send off some insurance paperwork this week.  No, I'm not about to go and do a Willy Loman; I've just been reviewing my life insurance policies, to make double certain Joni and the girls will be OK if I get struck down by an act of God (or a tram).  I need to send off one more application to my other superannuation fund and assuming it's accepted, it means I should be worth a good $2M to Joni and the girls if I should snuff it.  As I've said to her too many times, I'm surely worth more dead than alive!  There's only one loophole I haven't figured out: I always told Joni that if she should wake up and find me dead in bed beside her, she should take me to the office and drape me over my desk or throw me down the front steps a few times so as to be able to claim it on workers comp!  I'm not sure how we'll do that while she's there and I'm here.  Any suggestions?  Maybe I'll ensure I always have a file here at the sharehouse and take to sleeping at my desk?  Seems a little bit of over-preparation.

Postal supplies checked, I went into the office for the afternoon.  Productive, but could have been a little better.  Still, it's encouraging and I think I can get through the present issues if I show a little backbone.

I got groceries after work and then headed back here.  Ironed shirts and paired socks while watching "Big Bang Theory".  It's kind of pathetic how much I look forward to that show.  After that I went down to the kitchen and hastily baked a loaf of oatbread for the week.  While I was about it, I slapped together a dessert "bread"(?) by mixing up the usual dough, but added honey and sugar to the mix, then flattened it out, sprinkled it liberally with cinnamon and rolled it up.  Unbelieveably both items came out really well!  The sweetened bread was almost a pudding, and would have been great if I'd had some ice-cream to go with it.  And the bread came out soft and cooked right through, if rather unleavened (didn't have time to let the yeast do its thing).  The bread has now been converted into this week's sandwiches.  The sandwiches themselves might be a bit disappointing: The deli meat I bought was "Devon Round", rather than ham (chiefly because of the price difference).  The trouble is, Devon round is a manufactured meat with the consistency and taste of wet cardboard.  The sandwiches themselves contain liberal amounts of mustard, chilli, sage and coriander to deal with the deficiencies of the meat.

OK: It's getting on for midnight so I'll log on, post this and turn in.  Hope your Sundays are going well!

See you tomorrow.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

This week.

Hi everyone,

I'm not sure if this update will be as detailed as it should be.  It's been a week of the sort I'd really hoped I'd never had.

To hit the high notes: On Monday I had a meeting with my boss, and with one of the other partners in my section, and the the firm's HR manager.  The long and the short of it is that I'm to be placed on performance management.  This is alarming, as this seems to be a high road to being fired.  Fortunately (I guess) their concern wasn't about my performance in its entirety, but about achieving consistently excellent performance.  There were also some concerns over me sometimges becoming too unfocussed while running files.  The meeting itself was kind of positive: I was able to respond and explain why some of the concerns have already been addressed, and others are already fading.  I wasn't doing this in an objectionable way - I made clear that many of their concerns were entirely valid and that I was more than willing to address the problems that they were identifying.  So, although this is the sort of meeting you never enjoy, I was kind of optimistic that it could be brought to a satisfactory outcome.  It should give you some idea of my state of mind that after the meeting I set my facebook status to my old University's motto: “Ancora Imparo“ - I am still learning. Still, it's a concern and the really BIG fear - not being able to provide for Joni and the girls - kept playing on my mind.

On Tuesday I had a coffee with the other partner I met with on Monday.  The key message was about whether I'm essentially cut out to be a lawyer: he was suggesting I might want to consider whether the requirements of legal practice - especially defence practice - might be asking something from me that I might be fundamentally unable to deliver.  He was actually on to something there: I thought very hard about leaving the law 4 years ago and had a career profile test dome, which did show that I'm not especially well suited to being a lawyer.  Now, this fellow has been in practice since 1973, and has been a partner and managing partner for a big whack of that time, so his perspective was one I'm not going to be quick to disregard.  Hmm.

Wednesday was the day I've never wanted to have. I started the day with a tense meeting with my boss - my stress levels were raised by a document being missing from a file we were reviewing.  That afternoon I was meant to go over two files with the government agency we have a major contract with.  It got to 2pm and I knew I couldn‘t do the reviews.  Not because they weren't prepared - My brain just wouldn't co-operate.  I could barely remember the names of the parties and still less the issues involved. I had to go to my boss and ask her if she could take care of the reviews for me as I just didn‘t think I could avoid making the firm look bad. She said ok and came around to my office to collect the files. She asked if I was going to be ok. By this stage I was struggling to speak without losing my composure entirely and the only word I really got out was “sorry“. She sent round the partner I met with on Tuesday, to check on me. He got me talking and I wound up pretty much telling him everything about the psych problems I've had over the last couple of years.  He brought down the HR manager.  They suggested I try to get in to see Sonia the Psychologist that afternoon which I was able to arrange.  Before going I spoke with my own boss again who asked how I was doing.  By then I was feeling a lot better, 75-80% of normal, so I said so.  I also stressed that I remained very willing to go through the performance management process.  I can stomach them thinking I'm a second rate lawyer, but I can't stand the idea that they'd think I was that sort of whiny, manipulative employee who'd claim to be "stressed" to cover up crappy performance.

Seeing Sonia was a good idea.  I updated her on how I'd been feeling better than ever over the last few weeks, and the events of the last few days.  Her feeling was that that day wasn't that big a deal.  Her assessment was that it'd been a cascading set of stressors from Monday, and than when I got stressed ahead of the file review, I got stressed over being stressed, and it all kind of snowballed.  So, that was encouraging.  I've arranged to see her again in a fortnight.

Thursday and Friday were mercifully quiet at work.  On each night I felt exhausted and flattened and crashed into bed about 9:30pm, but still woke up tired. 
Today I went to the storage unit we have and sold some furniture to one of the housemates who's moving to Torquay.  Hooray!  The other items should be dead easy to sell from here.  I went to the office for the balance of the day and began to apply a system I'd thought might fix the unfocussed work problem.  It's working well so far, so I'm optimistic.

So, that's the news from my end.  I feel I'm bouncng back - I know how to work, and if I can take advantage of what the performance plan has to offer, I think I can emerge better than I went in.  And it really makes me happy that the firm's been so supportive.  I know their patience can't be unlimited (fair enough), but honestly, I think they were more concerned for my welfare than anything else when I had a meltdown, and I really appreciate that.

Oh yeah - and it was Ash Wednesday this week.  I've given up chocolate and alcohol for Lent.  Given the way this week unfolded that might be just as well!

See you tomorrow.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Dear loyal and devoted fans...

Sorry I haven‘t posted in the last week or so. It‘s been an ‘eventful‘ week and I‘m still trying to process it all. I‘ll try and post an update tonight. Sorry again.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Weekend: Quiet with a Chance of Pain!

 Hi everyone,

Sorry for the lack of a post yesterday.  I have an excuse though!

It's been a quiet-ish weekend.  Yesterday I walked from here to the city to go to the Bank to deposit some funds.  I probably should have checked before I went that at least one of the branches of the bank in the CBD would be open on a Saturday.  As it happens, no they weren't.  So, I was sort of stuck for activity.  Rather than just wander around aimlessly, I decided to go to the office and do some work.  It says something about how I'm feeling these days that I didn't go to it with the sort of dogged endurance I usually would have done - kind of like a zombie, but without the same spring in my step.  I actually felt, well, kind of like it'd be cool to do.  I went to the supermarket first to get fixings for lunch and the groceries I need for the week (more on that in a minute).  I did have a bit of a sense of pride as I got the groceries and realised I'd been able to bring the grocery bill in a bit under $15.00.  This is why Joni sometimes calls me Scrooge!

I got to the officer about 1pm and worked reasonably solidly and pumped out three letters of advice, a couple of briefing letters to medical examiners, a request for surveillance and a number of briefs to counsel.  I got distracted reasonably easily I'm afraid ("hey, let's bring up the wikipedia entry on Douglas Haig...") but stuck at it till I'd done what I came there to do.  I was able to put a good dinner together with some of the groceries I'd bought, and was even able to put a bit aside in the communal fridge for lunch on Monday.  Anyway, before I knew it it was 2:30am when I came to shut down my computer.  I decided to walk back to the sharehouse, as the trams had stopped running and I didn't feel like spending a couple of hours (no, I'm not joking) trying to hail a cab.  So, up Bourke Street I walked.  The key to walking though the city at that hour, by the way, is to keep your walk brisk and your face expressionless, and not to make eye contact with anyone.  That way, you just kind of pass (semi-intoxicated) people by like a ghost and don't get any grief from them.  And for Lord's sakes, no matter how hot the drunk chick over there is, don't check her out unless you also want to deal with a drunken boyfriend who suddenly wants to be Sir Galahad and defend his maiden's honour.

I stopped part of the way at a pub/poker machine venue called the Welcome Stranger which (so far as I know) never closes - picture herewith.  I didn't need a drink, and I don't gamble (the reason for this is a story I'll share some other time).  But I needed dollar coins to operate the washing machine at the sharehouse, so I stopped in to get my remaining $10.00 note converted to dollar coins.  I wound up getting back to the house and crashing into bed about 4:30am.

As a result of the late night, I slept far later than I intended to (10:45am!) and was too late to get to any of the morning Masses.  So I attended to a few things until midday, when Joni and I had arranged to skype.  It was a great skyping session.  She'd put the DVD of "Annie" on, and every so often Grace would sing "tomo'ow, tomo'ow".  Grace does indeed seem to have adapted well: she'd acquired a few sets of Mardi Gras beads and was playing with them like they were the most awesome thing she'd ever had!  And Rachel was moving all over the place, and never seemed to put her teddy bear down.  And the coolest thing of all: Joni was sitting on the floor using the iPad to skype.  Both Grace and Rachel came over and hugged the iPad and tried to kiss it.  I don't know if that was spontaneous, or if Joni has taught them to do it, but either way, it was the sweetest thing they could have done.  They'll all go to see some of the parades tomorrow.  I can't imagine the loot they'll attract: Joni's told me that little kids are kind of bead-magnets when the Krewes go past!

Which reminds me: I need to figure out what to give up for Lent.  Any suggestions?  Maybe alcohol, perhaps.

After skyping I went downstairs to attend to a food issue.  Inspired by the Land of Milk & Honey blog, I'd decided to try my hand at baking bread, the idea being that if I did, it'd be cheaper than buying rolls to make lunches and maybe even fun.  So I'd bought a kilo of self raising flour and a bag of oats (to add body to the putative bread and also to make the flour last longer) and googled up some instructions as to temperatures and the like.  I mixed it all up and tried leaving it to "rise" before sticking it in the oven.  I don't know what I did wrong, but rise it did not, and after about 45 minutes I decided just to stick it in the oven and see what happened.  Half an hour later I was chatting with one of the housemates and went to get it out of the oven.  I folded up a teatowel and decided I could lift it out one-handed, it being only a smallish ceramic dish.  Ah, I thought, the towel's wet; that should help keep my hand cool.  I remembered my high school science teacher saying water can be a good conductor of heat.  Unfortunately, I didn't recall this until I'd already picked it up.  Specifically, I remembered it about a nanosecond before the heat hit my right hand.  I kind of freaked out.  I didn't want to drop it, and I went to grab the dish with my non-tea-towelled left hand before my brain cut in and said that would be a whole bunch worse.  After what felt like half an hour I got a sufficient grip to put the dish down.  Fortunately, the housemate I'd been talking to turned out to have been a chef in his past life and was very clear on what to do: stick your hand under a cold tap for a few minutes, so you'll seal the heat off from spreading deeper.  He also saw me trying to gauge if it was done with a skewer by seeing if dough stuck to it from inside the loaf, and said there's a better way of checking: stick the skewer in and leave it for a few minutes, then test it on your forearm to see if it's hot on the inside.  If it is, it's pretty well done.  I tried a slice of the loaf as it cooled before bagging it up - I think it came out well, with a pleasant oatey taste to boot.

The balance of the day I spent getting caught up on laundry and ironing the few clean office shirts I had left.  I flipped on the TV while ironing and caught the pilot of "Two Broke Girls".  It seems like a reasonable sitcom, even if it does seem to be a bit of a cookie-cutter "Odd Couple" show.  Still, it shows at least as much promise as most of the other stuff on TV so I guess it'll go in the "if I'm flipping channels" category.

Before dinner I went for a walk up the Merri Creek trail to get some air and some sunlight, and had gumbo and rice for dinner.  Then back up here, some paperwork and cleaning up, and writing this post with Clifton Chenier on the speakers.  Incidentally, I discovered that in an iTunes accident I erased most of the Kenny Chesney music off my computer.  Exasperation!

Early night tonight to try and get my sleep cycle back on schedule.

Hope your weekends are all going well.

See you tomorrow!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Cufflink day ... and crashing

Hi folks,

I can barely keep my eyes open. I‘m turning in early I‘m afraid.

But, since a picture‘s worth a thousand words, I give you today‘s cufflinks.

Have a good day!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Another settlement

Hi everyone,

It became yet another late night! For a good reason though: I meant to leave the office about 7:30pm, but decided to do just one more job. And then to look at another newish file where the insurer‘s documents have just landed on my desk ... and I just couldn‘t look away: the more I read, the more cracks I could see the plaintiff‘s claim. Pretty soon I was emailing my secretary a bunch of requests for subpoenae and a notice to admit and medical exams and so on. And before you know it, it was 10:30pm!

The day was otherwise good. There was a hearing in the morning which settled by lunch because the plaintiff wanted to play hardball. Less encouragingly, my diary for the next fortnight is devoid of hearings, which means it‘s also devoid of ready opportunities to prepare bills. However, a few other settlements can still be made to happen with a little nudging.

I had a quick look at the news online after work and discovered that this year has been designated the National Year of Reading. There‘s a whole bunch of things like celebrity endorsements and adult literacy campaigns and online bookclubs and the like.  It seems churlish to doubt something so genuinely public spirited, but it was hard not to think it was a bit of a case of preaching to the choir. That is, the people who would notice and care about it are the ones who need it least. The people who read a lot and read to their kids will do so anyway, regardless of encouragement from a celebrity of the stature of the Mayor of Lower Bullamakanka. And to be honest, I‘m not sure that for a big whack of the population the problem is literacy so much as energy: in my past life as a plaintiff lawyer I acted for a lot of people who I know were literate enough to read the Herald Sun in the waiting room, but who I knew would also not read the 2 page plain-English letter I‘d send them telling them what I thought of their case.

Ok, bedtime. Tonights photos were mostly taken while waiting for a tram. One is my office building at night, and a few other buildings, and also the pleasant surprise I had waiting when I got here.

See you tomorrow people!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Failing to sleep

Hi everyone,

Tonights post is being written on a warm night (27°C), in bed and in my phone.

It‘s been another packed day, hopping from one file to another. All the bits seem to be coming together but. I have a hearing on tomorrow that also came together today. All in all, promising.

I got back here less late than last night, and was able to catch the last 45 minutes or so of Zombieland on Go! channel. I see that Go! is now carrying that show “Excess Baggage“ that Channel Nine had been advertising relentlessly since December. Wow: all that hype, and Nine banished the show to the secondary channel after just four episodes. I can‘t help thinking this proves something but I‘m buggered if I can see what it is.

Traded a few texts with Joni about lunchtime. Just missed window to say goodnight to girls. Will try again tomorrow, court permitting. Miss them all.

Ok, enough. Time to sleep.

Oh, the picture? It‘s one of the ticket validation machines from tonight‘s tram. I was all out of other illustrations.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Tuesday ... from the office.

Hi Everyone,

Well, it's kind of late and I'm blogging this from the office.  Not out of any form of martyrdom; I stayed back a bit to work on a file and time kind of got away on me, and I'm going to post from here because I'm not sure how much juice my aircard has left on it.

So today's been a good day.  Amazingly my diary was entirely clear!  So, I was able to settle a defence that's been bugging me, wade through a coronial finding in another matter that pretty well snooker's the plaintiff claim (in my opinion), get a couple of briefs out and drill through an insurer file as well as a bunch of letters and other bits and pieces.  Not an exciting day.  I wasn't, for example, wrestling a crocodile or looking into how to take something before the High Court, but it was productive and my desk looks a bit less chaotic.

I traded a few text messages with Joni after lunch and suggested that it might be good if I call the girls to say good night, since my lunch hour and their bedtime more-or-less overlap.  I haven't heard back; I think the last message postdated Joni's own bedtime!  So we'll see; I'd like to do it if it works from her end.

As I said, I wound up late at the office.  It kind of happened this way: By 6:30 I was feeling kind of brain-fried and not focussed, so I decided to get some fresh air and exercise in the form of a walk to the supermarket near the office.  This led to me getting a couple of dollars worth of food to have dinner here, which then slid into me blogging at the office at 10:30pm.  Not that it's a problem.  The sharehouse is only a short tramride away and all I need to do is shave and iron a shirt and turn in.

So there you have it: my fairly unexciting day, I'm afraid!

Hope all's well with you as well.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Busy Monday

Hi everyone,

It's been a whirlwind of a day!

I was in the office by 8:30 and made the necessary phone calls to get instructions for the mention and hearing that were on this morning, plus to get a briefing from one of my colleagues on a couple of appearances he needed me to tackle this morning as well.  Then, down to Court.  I tackled the mentions no problem, then turned to the hearing we had on.  The following 5 hours or so were a blur of negotiation between the insurer, the barrister and my boss.  Obviously I can't disclose details, but I emerged having fulfilled our instructions despite some obstruction which could only be managed by me actually discovering I had some steel in my spine.  This was a frankly astonishing discovery - usually I'm not the strongest willed person on earth, for my sins.  But I managed this pretty well.  In hindsight, I would have done one or two things differently, but nothing major.  So, how 'bout that?  The thing is, it was a set of activities I could never have managed when I began with the firm, so I'm kind of pleased about that.

The balance of the day was straightforward.  A couple of fairly intense case reviews with my boss, plus a bit of catch-up work after quitting time.  The after hours work was a bit hampered when I accidentally locked myself out of the office when I went to the toilet.  It took me a solid 45 minutes to track one of the cleaners down to let me in!

Hmm, this entry doesn't really convey what a blur of activity today actually was.  Sorry.  I'm afraid I don't have a great deal else to report.  Well, apart from that a file I didn't think was going to settle anytime soon may now settle inside a fortnight - at about 6pm the plaintiff's solicitors sent me a fax saying they're not going ahead with an appeal they'd been considering.  So that's another file we can get a bill out for pronto.

OK, I guess that's all for now.  Hope your days are going well.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Untitled Sunday

 Hi Everyone,

Sunday night, and an update before bed.  I hope you've all had a good day; I surely have!

I slept well last night and was up in enough time to sort out some financial issues before skyping with Joni and the girls.  That part of the day alone was great.  The girls are so adorable, and clearly smart as whips.  Joni took them to the paediatrician through the week.  Grace is as fit as a small Mallee bull, but a little lighter than Rachel (which was always the case).  They checked and Rachel's hearing is fine, so they'll keep an eye on her speech issues to make sure there's nothing else to be concerned about.  Unfortunately Joni hasn't heard anything about the job she interviewed for.  Well, something will turn up I know.  The girls got the cutest playhouse from Nanny C, and Grace especially seems to have made it her castle!

After skyping I headed in to the office.  It was a productive afternoon, although on a new file I read this afternoon I made the depressing discovery that we've already lost the fight.  That is, the insurer didn't make its decision in time and so the claim is deemed accepted.  So, we've already lost the fight on liability.  On the plus side, though, the plaintiff appears to have massively exaggerated their injuries, so a little judicious lawyering has prospects of effectvely neutralising the claim.

I got the few groceries I need for the week at the Coles at Southern Cross Station.  I also got exercise...  You see, I walked down from my office to the supermarket (attached, as I haven't posted them before, are a few pictures of the office tower I work in), and duly trawled around and picked up the bread rolls, sausage meat, razors etc etc that I needed, plus a few things to have dinner at the office, and made my way to the self-checkout.  I'd checked everything through and then discovered I'd left my wallet at the office.  All I could do was look embarassed and ask if the shop assistant could keep my bag of groceries behind the service desk, and then schlep back to the office, get my wallet, schlep back to the supermarket, pay for the goods and then go back to the office.  How many calories does a couple of blocks walk burn up?!

I left the office a bit after 9pm (photos herewith of the view at night tonight, plus a streetscape from near the office) and came back here.  I traded a few FB messages with an old friend who sought some general legal advice in a family issue on the way.  Once I got here I made my sandwiches for the week and had a shave, shower and cleanup.  This should be a good week to shine at work.  Let's watch what we can do!

Hope you all have a good day.

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Had. A. Blast!

Hi Everyone,

I had a blast!  Aftger I posted the last entry I attended to a few other odds and ends, and then went down and made lunch.  I had some gumbo left over, so I was going to make up some rice and mix it heavily therewith, in proportions of roughly 40% Gumbo and 60% rice.  Unfortunately my maths sucks (proportions were about 10% Gumbo and 90% Rice.  So lunch was (ahem) a little starchy.

I headed out and met Drew and Brendan at the kart track at 2pm.  we spent about an hour and a half talking away before our slot came up to go round - just yakking away about fishing and work and suchlike, so that was fun.  Two other groups were also on when we were racing, but that didn't cut in on the entertainment of it all.  If anything, it made it a bit more challenging having all those extra cars on the track (although we did come to grief where one of the other drivers and I collided our sides in one corner, which meant he couldn't turn and slammed into his mate who was stationary at the side of the track having stalled his motor; both of them looked a bit banged up after the race, and one of them had a bloodied lip; although they did keep going after we left, so the injuries presumably weren't too bad).  Brendan and Drew pretty well caned me in terms of speed and driving ability but Goddammit pelting around the track at high speed on bald tyres was a barrel of fun!

We finished up at about 5:10, and as Brendan had to head back to Wangaratta and Drew to his family, we went our separate ways.  I headed back into the City and decided to try the vigil Mass at St Brigid's in Carlton (pictured).  A good Mass, done straight by a priest with a ?Latin American accent.  And it's a pretty and intimate church, so I might make that my usual parish.  We'll see.  Then back to here.  I couldn't resist taking a photo of the van parked out the front of the house.  Kind of a cliche on wheels: It had out-of-state plates, a parking ticket (parked on wrong side of road), and for the hippy piece-de-resistance, a pass to the Woodend Folk Festival and a gas mask stencilled on the front of it in silver paint.  I have to say: I don't think the driver was being ironic either!
When it came to dinner, as the gumbo was essentially gumbo flavoured rice, I decided to use it as a side dish and to forage for a main.  For want of better options, the main was one of the rolls I bought yesterday, with beetroot and
bacon bits and cheese melted all over it.  So, not a fancy dinner, but filling and tasted good!  Then, back up here to do some studying and type a blogpost. 

I'll try for an early night again tonight (11pm).  Joni and I have arranged to skype tomorrow, which is great.  So looking forward to seeing her and the girls!  I just miss them, which sucks immensely.  Soon we'll be back together, but to be honest the time does seem to drag.  It sometimes feels like the best time in the working week is when I get paid, because then I can put another deposit against the cost of the move.  Sigh.  Well, no use moaning about it.  And, I guess it's good in one way.  As regular readers might have picked up, I feel so much more comfortable in my skin now than I ever did before.  That has to make me a better husband for Joni and a better Dad for my little girls.  That was always hard on Joni, when I always seemed to be teetering on the edge of a breakdown, and I know she was always worried the girls would pick that up from me.  So being apart, even though it sucks hard, is a priceless chance for me to keep up the process of getting my head on straight.  That white picket fence might take a little longer to get for them, but I know for sure I'll give it to them.

       Never late were favours divine!: Niccolo Macchiavelli

OK, I guess I should have a shower and then come back and post this and turn in. I hope you're all having good days too!

See you tomorrow.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Cufflinks day replay!

Hi Everyone,

Sorry for the lack of a post last night.  I had every intention to write a post - I'd even turned the computer on - but it got to 11pm and I was just so tired I could barely think straight.

Right now it's a cloudy Saturday morning.  There was a belt of rain just before, and I'm typing this with breakfast beside me, and waiting to hear back from Joni as to times to skype.

Yesterday was a good day.  I declared it a cufflink day again (well, actually, a dufflink day: the picture says it all)   The energetic vibe was there (with a little caffeine kickstarter in the morning).  I spent a significant whack of the morning processing a massive bundle of papers on a new file, drawing our defence and planning a strategy.  I was even able to do something I wouldn't have thought I'd ever do: sent an email to my boss saying I know this file is on for review on Monday week, but would it suit you to review it Monday since we're in a position to get the ball rolling.

At lunch I scurried down to the supermarket at Southern Cross Station to pick up some odds and ends I needed (bread rolls, tinned fish and mandarins).  I walked past the latest development on Lonsdale Street on the way.  Me, I think this one is getting a bit too carried away by its own marketing: I don't know if the photo will be clear enough to show you what I mean.  In essence, they are advertising this as "The New York End of Lonsdale Street" and "Upper West Side" and "NYC @ MEL".  Never having been to New York City, I might not be in a position to have an opinion, but I'm pretty sure the bits of NYC that they want to emulate don't look that much like the crummier end of Lonsdale Street (lapdancing clubs, semi-empty buildings, and carparking businesses).

I traded a few emails with Joni after lunch about Valentines Day.  I wondered if there was anything she specially wanted.  She said not, which is probably sensible given that she's setting up in the new place and having more "stuff" is probably not what she needs.  Hmm.  I'd still like to get her something though; maybe a voucher to go get a massage or something as she likes that sort of thing.

The afternoon I spent tackling a number of the other jobs I had on the plate, including getting a new barrister for the hearing on Monday as the one we'd briefed had to drop us.  After work drinks were pleasant, but a bit curtailed - people had places to go to, and I was tired.  I'd tinkered with going to the movies - it turns out that work gives folks a couple of movie vouchers on their birthdays! - to go to see the new Underworld movie but decided to hold that over for another night.  I came back here and had another roll with fish plus some mandarins for dinner and watched a bit of a DVD of Family Guy.  As I said, I planned to type a blogpost but was tired as hell and decided to turn in at 11pm, first turning off my phone and alarm clock.  I woke up a couple of times though the night (which usually happens when I turn in early) but otherwise slept through until 8am and felt much better for it.  Incidentally, the cosmos seemed to be encouraging the energetic vibe as well: when I got back here I found I'd received in the mail the last 3 issues of the ABA Journal, so that was a bit of a high-five from God as it seemed to me.

Today (Saturday) is the "Mens Day" I mentioned the other weekend, so at 2pm I'll head out to the go-kart track at Somerton to help a good friend get over a breakup.  Some people get over it with whisky and country music, but if what he needs is the smell of a two-stroke motor, then that's what he gets.  I suspect there will also be beer.  Thank God my Medibank premiums are paid up!

OK, I'll update you later and tell you how it went.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

It‘s been a cufflink day!

Hi everyone,

Well, here I am on a late night tram again. Not because of a crisis at the office or anything; I just kind of was in a good space to do things so I kept going.

As I say in the title, it‘s been a cufflink day. I woke up this morning still feeling energised and decided to feed the mood, so I wore one of the nicest office shirts I have (blue and white vertical stripes with a white collar and cuffs) with, obviously, cufflinks (pictured). They‘re a set I‘m rather fond of, because they were a gift from my mother-in-law. The cliche about mothers-in-law is most untrue in my case: put it this way, I once told Joni that any time she didn‘t want her mum I‘d happily adopt her. Joni replied that there was a long, long queue of people ahead of me!

So I got to work a bit early, and in ample time for the directions hearings today in the Magistrates‘ and County Courts and attended to them smoothly.  Then back to the office for multiple case reviews with my boss which I also performed well in (I think).

I had more case reviews in the afternoon with my other boss and think I did Ok there too. Otherwise the day was heavily spent catching up on work and also trying to coax plaintiff lawyers into early settlement discussions, with varying levels of success (which is absurd since I was ringing up and essentially saying: I am in a position to give you and your cluent money; talk to me).  A lot of the files probably will only settle at the door of the court, but oddly, I was finding still others today that are closer to settlement than I‘d remembered. So, swell!

[Insert break for me to get back to the sharehouse, have dinner and get into bed]

I‘m so pleased the good state of mind has stuck around. I feel like I can‘t recall ever feeling before. I guess you‘d have to call it confident, and unafraid. Is this how normal people feel, most of the time? I can‘t remember ever feeling like this, although I suppose it must have happened. Anyway, I‘ll take it!

Ok, it‘s bedtime. Please find attached a couple of pics from the office and surrounds for fun.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

An energising Wednesday

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the couple of days delay in updating the blog.  My only excuse is that Monday night I was up late watching the SuperBowl replay (yay Giants!), and last night I was stuck at the office rather late and, it being my birthday, when I got back here, I indulged myself in a whole apple pie from the supermarket and South Park.  It made for a late Tuesday night!  I got a birthday card from my brother-in-law yesterday too, as well as a swathe of Facebook greetings and an email from Joni with a picture of Rachel, so the day had a lot of awesome written into it!

Today was really energising.  In the morning I had to scurry off to Court to do a directions hearing.  I also had a hearing on this morning to attend to as well; my boss had suggested that instead of hanging around at Court to manage any negotiations, I come back to the office and steer the negotiations by phone.  It worked like a charm: we settled just before lunch, for about half of what we had instructions to settle for.  A great outcome!

In the afternoon I had a meeting.  And not just any meeting: I'm currently handling a matter where the claim is against the Australian branch of a major corporation (a Fortune 100 company).  They have surprisingly few workers compensation claims, so their internal advisors are taking a keen interest in this matter.  And they're a major client for the insurer we're getting our instructions from.  So, today I was meeting with two officers from that corporation, and the relevant national and state account managers from the insurer, and the corporation's relevant legal manager for the Asia-Pacific region on speaker phone from Shanghai.  So, no pressure!  Anyway, I think I can say I aced the meeting: I was able to answer all of their questions about the litigation strategy confidently, manage their particular concerns, and generally looked like I was competent, diligent and skilful.  I was pretty pumped about this I have to say!  Later in the afternoon I had a meeting with my boss who wanted to talk about my less-than-impressive billing figures.  The thing was, rather than sending me into a tailspin, this just energised me: I asked a few questions of the partner who manages our accounts and ensured I understood the figures I was seeing, then went back to my office and printed off the list of my current files and figured out the ones that are ripe for settling, which ones I can expect to finalise within a month, and which ones still have a long way to go, then began figuring out how I can actually make those figures look suitably improved by the end of March.  So, for the first time in my life I think I'm actually working smarter rather than just harder, and maybe I can be good at this law thing after all.  It feels good to feel like I can respect myself over my work!  I honestly can't recall when - if ever - I last felt like this.  Feels good!

OK, it's getting on for 1am, and I need to turn in.  Hope all your days are going well too.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

On a cloudy day

Hi everyone,

This entry finds me in a somewhat reflective mood.

It's been a full day.  I traded texts with Joni this morning and we set a time to skype at 12:30pm Melbourne time.  That gave me enough time to get the necessary groceries for the week from the supermarket on Sydney Road.  This trip involved a measure of trepidation: My boss lives in the next suburb over, and Sydney Road is about the border between that suburb and this.  Somehow, meeting the person I report to outside of work seems a little (note, a little, not a lot) awkward.  Anyway, I got there no problems and got the few things I need for the week without incident.  Basically, all I needed was things to fix lunches with (a six-pack of bread rolls, some chicken meat, and shampoo).  And, ripe avocadoes were on special so I got two of them too.

I was back in plenty of time to skype with Joni and the girls.  Annoyingly the aircard I was using couldn't muster up the bandwidth to have video at both ends, so I turned off my video such that I could see the girls but they couldn't see me.  They're such perfect girls, so pretty and active and clever and playing so smartly.  And Joni is as pretty as ever.  She was wearing a shirt I recognised, and jeans that looked familiar too.  It was so great and heart-enlarging to see them, but it made me miss them awfully too.  I just miss them all.  I miss not being able to kiss my little angels and play peek-a-boo with them, and play chasey and feed them and hear them laugh.  And I miss not being able to cuddle up to Joni on a cold night and see her smile and mix her a drink in the evening and open a bottle of wine to breathe.  I just miss my family

Soon, soon.  And as I said when Joni and I hatched this plan: I should complain.  We have to be apart for a while, basically for economic reasons, but not because one of us has been told to (say) ship out Afghanistan.  And in the scheme of things, we're not going to be apart for long.  And, while we were talking Joni told me of a friend we have over there who's had a pretty awful family tragedy recently.  And that kind of puts one's own things into perspective.

Incidentally, while we were talking, Joni asked if I was OK (as in, in light of the issues in the past).  It felt really good to be able to say yes.  And it's true.  In spite of being back at work, and in spite of having had a couple of more-or-less bruising weeks, the blue devils haven't troubled me in the longest time.  I might have a lousy day, and I miss my family, but the blues don't trouble me any more.  I can't say what's different.  The medication surely helps, and what I've learned from Sonia the Psychologist has been invaluable, and the shock effect on me of Joni wanting breathing space seems to have brought it all together to pull the scales off of my eyes.  I feel like I've been given a massive second chance.  It's the best feeling you can imagine!

After skyping I headed into the office to catch up on some of the work I hadn't been able to do because of being in Court all week.  It was a peaceful, productive afternoon.  The sky outside clouded over into a dark sky all the way to the horizon (which is one of the photos) in a way that's always had a fascination for me.  When I was in one of the school choirs, back in 1993, I remember thinking how incredible it would be to have a choir singing the "Lachrymosa" from Berlioz's Requiem under such a sky in one of the paddocks at "Glenhope", where we used to go on holidays when I was a kid.  And there seemed to be a lot of those skies when I lived in the Halls of Residence at Monash University.  That was the time in my life where I guess I first genuinely discovered what it meant to be alone.  I came to know this sensation a lot better in the following couple of years in my life, but that was kind of the first time I found myself (for want of a better phrase) letting life go on without me, as if I were standing outside of it all, and sometimes looking in.  So the sky today brought that thought back to me, and I had the feeling my mind was trying to tell me something but I had no idea what on earth it was.  It's that which has me feeling a bit reflective this evening.

"It is not good that man should be alone": Genesis 2:18.

I left the office about 8:20pm and was back at the sharehouse by 9:00pm.  I made my lunches for the week (rolls, avocado, chicken and bacon bits).  On Sunday nights dinner is usually the same as the week's lunch: Because rolls are sold in half-dozens, and there's only 5 days in a working week, there's always a roll left over.  So, I have the remaining roll with the remaining ham or chicken that didn't go into the rolls.  So, dinner tonight was a roll with a whole avocado and chicken meat and also bacon bits, done up like a big hamburger.  Gotta say: delicious!  Then, back up here to finish last night's desert and type this blog post.

OK, I guess that's enough for now.  Thank God this week looks quieter than last week!

See you tomorrow.

Saturday, 4 February 2012


Hi everyone,

It's an early blog night tonight.  It's Saturday evening.  I've had dinner (the hambone soup from the other night with rice).  I have StarStuff on the speakers and there's a load of laundry in the machine downstairs. Once I've got the laundry attended to and hanging to dry I'll have some dessert (a canned pudding or part thereof).

It's been a bit of a quiet day.  In the morning I got a FB message from a good friend of mine and Joni's.  He's just recently broken up with the girl he was with, and he said he needed some man time.  So, he's invited a couple of our other friends (also friends of mine and Joni's) for some competitive go-karting (and, one suspects, a lot of drinking).  We've teed that up for next weekend.  I have to say I'm kind of honoured that I was in the top three people he contacted.  Really good!

Joni and the munchkins were at a crab boil over there on the Friday night, so skyping wasn't really an option.  Jealous though.  I passed somewhere on Lygon Street today where I could have sworn I could smell boiling crabs!  I did however get a great email from Joni today showing Rachel playing with the drawing toy from the birthday box.  By all accounts she loves it!  And, she tells me Grace loves the Disney princess tea set (no surprise there!).  Way, way, way awesome!

Not having any other plans for the day I decided to go for another good walk.  Not as long as last weekend; only across to Lygon Street and then down Lygon Street to the National Gallery and then to the Botanical Gardens (again).  I picked up a couple of rolls and an avocado from a supermarket on the way and made them into lunch in a park just near the the Gallery.  I had a real yen to see the Pacific Islands gallery, so I made my way straight there.  That's where the pictures of the shields come from - they're from Papua New Guinea, and the ancestral figures (the two carvings side by side) are from West Papua.  I just kind of like that sort of thing: seeing artefacts like that kind of takes you into the world of their maker.  In a way that doesn't lend itself to easy expression, the artefacts tell you about themselves and the world they come from.  It was also there that the Egyptian canoptic chest came from.

By the time I came out of the Gallery the clouds had closed in overhead.  The sky was not completely obscured - there were still flecks of blue - but the otherwise thick clouds somehow seemed to muffle the noise of the city.  It was fairly humid and the Gardens were a good and peaceful place to be.  I went back again to the Californian Garden and the Cactus Garden, as well as the New caledonia walk.  I was surprised to learn that New Caledonia actually tends to dwarf plants, because of the very high metal content of the soil.  Which does make sense: As I recall the island's main export is nickel.  While I was there I got a couple of good pictures of palm trees.  I love exotic plants; again, it just seems to take you into another person's world.  And I found the herb garden, was like plugging one's nose into an amplifier.  Just perfect.

I walked back as far as Bourke Street.  I tried to convince myself I wanted to walk the rest of the way back but couldn't: I was tired as hell and for some reason my boots felt heavier than they ever had.  I trammed it back here.  Dinner was, as I said, ham soup with rice, and then StarStuff and blog.  I'm definitely going to be sleeping as soon as my head hits the pillow tonight!

[Insert gap here for me to get clothes from washing machine, hang them up in my room - which now smells pleasantly of Tide - and have a shower].

OK, I think that's everything.  Hope you're all having a great weekend too!

See you tomorrow

Friday, 3 February 2012

Hooray for Friday!

Hi everyone,

So on the night when I'm not obliged to be in bed in order to be at work tomorrow, I'm up till nearly 2am.  Go figure.

It's been another big day.  I headed down to the Magistrates Court this morning for a directions hearing and to check that yesterday's matter was bedded down and settled.  The directions hearing went fine, although the next stage is more delayed than one would have desired.  It may be the plaintiff's solicitor and I can work together to expedite the matter; we'll see.  Yesterday's matter had in fact settled.  So, I spent part of the morning meeting with counsel at court for the matter this morning.  I tried to run the matter by remote control from the office but in the end needed to go back to the Court.  Anyway, it settled and on acceptable terms.

I spent the afternoon getting back on top of the work from the week.  Friday night drinks spilled over into drinks at Slate (whence the photos), followed by a few more drinks with some folks from Deloitte and with the solicitor to whom I was opposed in the directions hearing this morning.  Kind of annoyed with myself, as I spent more tonight than I intended to, for no reason apart from being social.  I don't know if that's a good thing or not.

Going to bed now.  I'd hoped to go to the folks this weekend, but tomorrow I just want to do nothing to do with work, and then go to the office Sunday.  Not sure about all this.  We'll see.

Hope all is well with you.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Multitasking Thursday

Hi Everyone,

The day was, indeed, massive.  It's nearly 1am (again) so God willing I'll keep this short.

So I got into the office about 8:30ish and arranged signoff on the defence I redrew yesterday evening.  I had a quick briefing session with the trainee who was going to attend the County Court for me, and headed down to the Magistrates Court to be there at 9:30am.  I found the employer and barrister for the matter to start today, and then also caught up with the barrister and employer witness for the matter we hoped to finish today.  The following 7 hours were spent in and out of the court for the matter that was finishing and frantically instructing, while also hastily conferring with counsel and getting instructions in the other matter, and giving guidance by phone to the trainee at the County Court.  I'm kind of pleased with myself: I kept all the balls in the air at once, didn't drop them, or panic, or even really screw up in any major respect (I hope!).  Moreover, I managed it without having had a coffee, or a break, and when my food intake consisted of a glass of water and a Pristiq.

So, Yay me!

I sent Joni a FB message in the morning to see if this would be a good evening to call the girls for their birthday.  I didn't hear back, so I'm guessing the girls were arcing up at about bedtime and didn't need the extra stimulation.  On the plus side, the birthday box got to the 'hood today, but there was no-one home at her parents' place to sign for it, so presumably they'll try to deliver it tomorrow.

Tomorrow will involve bedding down the settlement from today and also starting a new matter in the Magistrates Court, and a Directions Hearing as well.  Hopefully all is well.  I had a phone call with counsel at about 10pm tonight re the matter tomorrow and generally reassured him as to strategy.  Pretty sure it'll go OK.

OK, it's definitely bedtime.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The box has left Anchorage!

Hi everyone,

It's not quite 1am, but it's close and tomorrow will be massive, so this will still be a bit short.  Sorry.

Well, the best news of the day came by email at about 11am: The birthday box has been cleared from customs and had left Anchorage!  By 6pm it was at Memphis, and by 11pm it was at Kenner in New Orleans.  So, the girls will get their presents on their birthday!!!  As you can tell, I'm pretty stoked that the universe dished that up even if it did it by means of a heap of customs hassles.  It's the girls' "over there" birthday tomorrow, so I'll check with Joni that it's cool to call them at lunch and say happy birthday to them too.  Hopefully so.

Today was another day spent running the hearing that's been on my plate all week, this time with lay witnesses.  Some bumps in the road but nothing unmanageable.  Tomorrow will be, as I said, massive: This hearing is still running tomorrow for at least another half day (final witness still has to be cross examined), and I have another hearing starting in the Magistrates Court as well, and another hearing starting tomorrow, and tomorrow sending one of our trainees to do two fairly fiddly directions hearings for me in the County Court.  I'm sure you can guess why dinner was coutesy of Hungry Jack's tonight!

OK, it's 1am.  I'm going to log on, post this and turn in.

Hope all's well with you - see you tomorrow.