Wednesday, 30 January 2013

No cute title tonight, I'm afraid

Hi everyone,

A shorter post tonight, I'm afraid.  It's after midnight and I'm overdue for bed.

I've been on the compute the last couple of hours trying to track down jobs.  Disheartening is the word.  Looking at all the employment websites yielded almost nothing I'm even remotely qualified to do.  Even in my field of personal injury practice where my name is mud, there were only 9 ads to be found, and most of those were from recruiters which means there may or may not be a job attached to them.  I'd go back to my recruiter who got me this job but I have no idea how to explain that I'm now dreadfully unhappy in a role I was enjoying immensely when I saw him back in December.  To get back into workers comp I really need to drop out of sight for a while.

As long as I have enough cash to support the girls, of course, anything else is a bonus.  Still, it's very slim pickings at the moment.

The day wasn't a whole bunch better.  More examples of my own incompetence are coming to light every day and I know that the internal discussions in the firm will be "Stephen was a disastrous hire...".  I'm more than a little worried they'll conclude I'm a pure liability and cut my 8 weeks grace period off early.  I can only describe that prospect as "hitting rock bottom and starting to dig".

Well, no point giving up.  As I said before, as long as my feet keep hitting the floor in the morning, I can make things get better.

OK, I guess that's the update.  Hope all is well with yourselves!

See you tomorrow.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Check in post

Hi everyone,

Quick recap on the balance of my day.

I went and got a few groceries for the week and had a shave.  My head was so unsettled that I decided to go for a run as well - 6.2 km which worked wonders.  Add me if you're on!

I've had dinner and applied for a job with a self-insurer.  Not optimistic.  Lord but I hope the job market picks up in February.

OK - I'm overdue for bed.  Sleep feels good already.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

More than this

Hi everyone,

Back in Brunswick again. Little Sister and Michael just dropped me off. I've taken my boots off, and I'm about to unpack my suitcase.

I feel like mould.

When Joni and I were courting and travelling back and forth between Melbourne and Thibodaux, the worst moment was the long drive home after dropping each other at the airport.  That's how I feel now.   All I could think of on the drive back this afternoon was how much I love her, and how much she loved me.  How happy we were. And how every memory of her and us and our little family feels more precious than anything to me right now.

There's just no words for feeling this way.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Lunchtime post. Could be whiny.

Hi everyone,

Drafting this just after lunch.  Waiting for Uncle plus Mrs Uncle plus their kids to arrive and possibly stay the night.  It's causing me some discomfiture because, regular readers may remember, they have a set of twins (raw nerve alert) and I can never shake the feeling that my uncle thinks I'm a complete tool.

The day itself has kind of already had its high point in the form of a 5 mile run through beautiful, fragrant countryside at about 7am.  Since then I've done a detailed scoping out of an old shed on the property which may be a source for a short piece of writing, and tagged along while Dad and Michael were trying to make sense of the various sheds' electrical set ups.  At the age of 34 it's a little demeaning to be used as the fetch-and-carry boy, but to find you've been demoted even beyond that is disheartening.  It gives me flashbacks to when I was a kid and we saw dad's close friend Alan and his family: this was especially uncomfortable as Alan never made any secret of thinking I was a useless waste of human life.

Sheesh: complexes much?

Ok - they want to head out and keep working on the shed. I kinda wish I'd stayed in Melbourne and spent the weekend reading and writing and generally getting lost in the past.

More later.

A moment of agriculture.

Late on a cool night

Hi everyone,

This one's drafted on my laptop from Shepparton - I'm presently offline and typing it in Notepad.  Shortly when it's close to time to skype with the girls I'll fire up the aircard and post it.

I'm skyping late tonight for two reasons.  One is that it's when the timezones align and I'm hoping my aircard will work better at night in the same way radio reception gets better at night.  And the other is that combining Joni, the girls, and my own family in an awake condition is something I'm genuinely not ready to do.

Today I've been kind of trying to hold the blue devils at bay.  I slept OK last night, meaning I only woke up once or twice (the average in the last few months is two to four times a night), and it's been a warm and sunny day largely spent outside.  But, mum's seems to be making a point of being cheerful.  I'm not sure if that's for my benefit, but it means she gaily talks a lot which one needs to react to, and which I'm finding an effort.  And Little Sister's fellow Michael has this demeanour where he seems to be channelling the older brother I never had.  Usually this wouldn't trouble me but today it was something which was having a "fingernails on blackboard" effect on me I'm afraid.  So, I've chiefly been spending meals looking down at my plate and keeping quiet.

Anyway, God willing I'll get a run in tomorrow morning and in that case the extra endorphins will set me to rights.  Seems a shame to waste a long weekend.

On a less broody note, today was Australia Day!  So, 225 years since the first settlement at Sydney Harbour!  I've deliberately avoided the newspaper coverage today because it's always the same every year ("Australia's the greatest place on earth" vs "How can you celebrate Invasion Day?") with a dash of republic / new flag / cause du jour thrown in.

It's also the 205th anniversary of the Rum Rebellion - the successful military coup against the government of Governor Bligh in Sydney - in 1808.  The rebellion was carried out by the New South Wales Corps, which later became the 102nd Regiment of Foot and took part in the occupation of Northern Maine during the War of 1812.  I've been doing some research for a friend of mine in Maine who's involved with the commemoration of the occupation.  I found that a surprising number of people either joined or received commissions in the regiment in New south Wales who were still serving in it when it was active in the US.  Unfortunately, the UK's public records office hasn;t been great at accessing relevant records by remote control, so there might be a limit to what can be done with this.  Mem: I should check and see if anything archaeological is being done in connection with this subject.  For once I might have something useful to offer!

OK, I guess there's nothing much more I can think of right now.  Sorry this isn't a more exciting post: my head's kinda not there.


Hi everyone,

I just got through a great skype with the girls.  They were in their little princess dresses (Rachel was Rapunzel and Grace Cinderella) and looked like they were really happy to see me!

The skype was great, but it made me so painfully aware of what I have lost.  Having faith is great, and I never want to lose it.  But there are times like this, when I wish it allowed the luxury of despair.  Knowing (which I do) that you are strong enough to push through painful times is a blessing, but sometimes it can also feel like a curse.

Well, no point dwelling on it.  I have the most beautiful and sweet natured daughters in the world, and already you can see the gentle and loving women they'll become.  And somehow, I know that when they're old enough they'll also forgive Daddy his failings.  So, there's still much to look forward to with hope.  As Ludwig Boltzmann proved, all things are possible with time.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Sunset, Goulburn Valley, Victoria

Grain Storage, Murchison East, Victoria

Railway Hotel in the distance, Murchison East, Victoria

Where a full moon glows

Hi everyone,

An update post. I'm at Shepparton.  The bus trip actually wound up going better than expected. Once we were clear of the city it moved smoothly, and after people got off at Murchison East (whence come the photos below) there was room to spread out and watch the Goulburn Valley slip by.

I met Dad at Shepparton Station.  Bought an aircard recharge and a copy of the local paper on the way back here (in case you haven't twigged yet: I'm kind of obsessive about buying newspapers.

Drove back here. Coming up to the house at night is disconcertingly like opening scene to "Beautiful Kate".  Little Sister and Michael already here as are mum and dad. Cattle calving at the moment; dad mentioned he'd needed to pull a calf that day (both it and its mother survived).

Very bright tonight: big full moon. Good wind tonight, and cooler than last night.

More tomorrow.

I‘m on a ... bus.

Hi everyone,

You remember that train from Melbourne to Shepparton? For unexplained reasons it's been replaced by a bus. My laptop is in my suitcase under the aforesaid bus along with my iPod. I now face the prospect of 3+ hours with godawful commercial FM radio playing "300 hackneyed songs you've heard a million times before" and I'm stuck in a chair with zero elbow room next to a middle-aged lady who smells of mothballs, flatulence and slow death.

I've now emailed VLine asking for a partial refund of my ticket.

I know I'm over reacting: given the other things going on in my life this shouldn't even register. But it does.

Rant over.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Random odds and ends

Hi everyone,

I'm afraid this is going to be an 'odds and ends' post from my phone -

* Today was spent slowly grinding out advices. It all feels a little futile now.

* The hunt for work is not encouraging: being met with roars of indifference.

* I made my 75th blood/plasma donation tonight!

* I'm off the Shepparton for the Australia Day long weekend.

* I had a great phone conversation with Oldest Sister Economist this evening.

* A very dear fb friend has finally announced she's expecting. Double pleased for her.

I guess that's it.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Guilt now marginally assuaged...

Have applied for a job in the workers comp field for a major retailer here.

Oh yeah - this was the link to the Times-Dispatch item.

From the Tram ... and From Here ...

Hi everyone,

It's 7:20pm and I'm on the tram back to the Casa. It got to about 6:30 and my brain hit The Wall - that stage where I was preparing an advice and going over a file and having trouble remembering whose side I was on. So, I decided to pull the pin and go down to Spencer Street Station and collect my train ticket for Friday afternoon and then head for Brunswick. In any case, I need to prepare some more job applications. I'm also trying to persuade myself my legs will cope with a run; not at all sure they will.

* * * * *

OK, back again - at Brunswick and at about 11:30pm, trying to write this, look for jobs and keep half an ear on Two Broke Girls in the background.  Did I mention that I'm not a natural multitasker?

The run was longer than intended - 4.7 miles rather than the 2 I'd planned.

- - - - -

Sorry - I'm going to pull this up here and get back to looking for jobs.  I feel a bit guilty for waffling about all evening running and watching TV and posting a letter I got into the Richmond Times-Dispatch today, rather than sending applications off.  Anyway, the day was fairly wearing but I've managed to get some networking in as well.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Morning Post

Somehow I think I'm reaching the blog-stage of saying more and more about less and less.

Does anyone want to go to work for me today?  I'm really struggling to find my will to live this morning, and that's after a pot of coffee for breakfast.

Work is kind of getting me down - the whole "can't get anything right" motif shouldn't worry me now - indeed, I honestly don't think it does. And yet, thinking of (no, really) another thing at work I've screwed up that will crop up in the next few days feels like an extra weight on my shoulders.

On the plus side, as I said last night, there's a few glimmers of life on the job front, so that's something.

Well, nearly my stop. Let's get the [cookie monster] on with the day!

And another update

Hi everyone,

Doing this post from my phone in bed as I settle in to sleep. The evening got late quick as I came on a good set of jobs on the web.

After I got back here I went for a short run, showered and had dinner while messing about with computer. Got an email re a job from LinkedIn which I'll reply to tomorrow.

Thinking about work and woder why, after so long, it never quite worked out. Square peg, round hole I guess..

Ok, I guess that's it for now.

More tomorrow.

My Antikinetic Day

Hi everyone,

Starting this post on the tram about 8:45pm. I'll probably post it and do a supplementary post later.

Epically frustrating day: Trying to draft some fairly technical letters, and getting more and more frustrated at the slow progress. Looking at the way things are panning out, I kind of think I'd ultimately have been let go on performance grounds even without the December SNAFU.

Almost my stop: more later.

Monday, 21 January 2013

400th Post!

Hi everyone,

This will be a somewhat anticlimactic 400th post I'm afraid.  It's been a dull and frustrating day at work: constant things holding me up from getting anything substantial done.

Went for a run in the evening (about 7kms).  Light dinner.  :Looked for a job on the web and become more and more disheartened.

Sorry - that's really all there is for the day!

More tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

A short post - rounding out the weekend

Hi everyone,

Back in Brunswick again.  It's 1am and I'm typing this just to round out the weekend.

I woke at Shepparton at about 6am and went out the front for the cool morning air.  It was cool no problem, but clean it was not: the smoke from the multiple fires around the state had really spread, including to our area, and so the air was think with woodsmoke.  This photo, taken about mid-morning, doesn't really show what I hoped it would - the way the sky had a rather hazy, greasy look to it. 

Dad and I spent about 2 hours talking after breakfast about The News, and he shared a lot of the details from his and mum's early years, which was definitely instructive.  It makes me think that my guess of yesterday was right - after Friday's big reveal, he needed time to digest the news before responding.

We were on the road about 10:30am and back at the home place by 3:00pm.  Balance of the day fairly inactive.  No real insights or otherwise from Mum.  No idea what she might be thinking.

Picked up some groceries on the way back here.  Shave, shower, cleanup and bed.

See you tomorrow folks.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Warning: Adolescent Whining ahead

Hi everyone,

Sorry if the formatting in this post is poor: I'm typing it from my phone.

Also sorry if this post tends towards whiny and self pitying. I'll try and avoid such.

I drove to the office this morning, so that I could get in the car and drive straight to the parents' place after work, so to be there to break The News after dinner in as little damaging an environment as possible. Little Sister, God love her, came down as moral support which I was pretty grateful for.

So, after dinner I broke the news about getting fired and the divorce paperwork. I tried to be matter of fact about it all, since I was telling them that in one fell swoop they'd lost their daughter in law and granddaughters, and I felt like it'd be a real kick in the guts for them.

I needn't have worried.

The ensuing conversation ran for about an hour. As the matter is sub judice I won't go over what was discussed. What struck me though was that after about 15 minutes Dad decided to go and call back one of his contacts about some steers he'd sold the previous week, and spent most of the next 60 minutes on the phone, and then came back in and told us all about weights, fat percentages and cents per kilo.  Later in the evening he said that he thought things would work out, but otherwise didn't much ask about it.

Mum was marginally more engaged, but seemed more interested in knowing what I'd gotten wrong. As to the girls, I think her advice was to "let them go" (I'm not sure I remember correctly; it might also have been to "give them up"), as if they were furniture or pets, which I thought was cold even for her. When I told little sister that I still considered myself bound by the promises I'd made to Joni when we married she mumbled something ending with the words "grow a backbone".  Otherwise, the only thing that seemed to pique her interest was persuading me to go and be a country solicitor in Shepparton for "a few years".  Because, you know, God forbid that Grace and Rachel should have a father even minimally in their lives.

Regular readers know how much I love my sisters. And I love my parents because this evening that was all that kept me from screaming profanities and dropping my pants in the hope of getting their attention. But if this evening has taught me anything it's that I need to keep looking further afield to pursue my own dreams in life. Whatever it is I want, I'm pretty sure it's not here. I wish it was, but it isn't.

Off to Shepparton tomorrow with Dad and a load of farm supplies. Will try to post from up there; otherwise back on Sunday.

More soon.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Divorce and weight loss.

Hi everyone,

This might be kind of a post in the "Note from the Management" vein.  I don't think the blog's about to go on hiatus, but it might be a bit erratic for a little while.

Anyway, I think that after today I can safely say that 2013 can only get better.  Today, at about 1:30pm, Joni emailed me draft divorce papers.  Originals to follow by mail.  As the matter is, formally, before the Louisiana courts, I'll adhere to training and won't discuss the litigious aspects further here.

By now (about 11pm) I'm a bit more settled, thanks to some awful supportive emailing with Oldest Sister Economist, Second Oldest Sister and Little Sister.  I've said it before, but it bears repeating: they're quality sisters and I'm lucky to have them.  It makes me wish I hadn't been such a bratty brother to them growing up!

I've honestly spent most of the last ten hours trying to process it all.  I thought it might be coming but, when it came in, it was much more of a shock than I expected.  I gave my assistant and boss a heads up and left early.  I found myself on Bourke Street and somehow found myself impelled to go to 5:30pm Mass at St Francis.  They have a beautifully peaceful Marian Chapel there, and to be honest, these are the moments when the Mass, with its familiarity and repetition and order, really comes into its own: it gives your brain just the right level of distraction, you could say. I came back here and knew the best next step was a long run, which got the endorphins and blood pumping, followed by an inappropriately healthy dinner (believe it or not, I actually wanted wraps, meat and tomatoes more than I wanted cookie dough) while watching Time Team.

I'd love to be able to give you some sort of pithy summary or brilliant insight, but I don't have one.  I'm still, just, processing.  I'm not about to throw out all the American food I have, or burn all my LSU or New Orleans Saints stuff.  For better or worse, Grace and Rachel mean that that will always be part of my life.  And it seems stupid to give up anything that made you happy.  Quod bonum tenete.  I don't know yet how I'll tell my parents.  It'll be a real kick in the guts for them.

And the weight loss?  When I got back from my run, my scales said I was down to 84kgs.  This means I've somehow dropped 3 kgs in 10 days.  I don't recommend getting fired and divorced in quick succession as a means of losing weight, but it does appear to work.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

No Title

"The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

I never really understood that before now.

On hunting for work...

Hi everyone,

Another short post, I'm afraid; this little black duck needs sleep.

Not that there's much to relate.  It's been another day of file work with one hand and scoping jobs and drafting cover letters with the other.  I've thrown some history-related jobs into the mix as well (turns out that the State of Wyoming pays archaeologists surprisingly well - almost what I'm on as a working lawyer - and isn't picky about their qualifications; it may or may not be coincidental that I now know that Wyoming is about a long day's drive from Louisiana).

The highlight of the day was calling the girls to say good night at about midday (time differences and all).  They were really sweet - Grace loudly describing how she was bowling (on the tiled floor), and Rachel (from the sounds of it) holding the phone while in Joni's arms.  I love my little princesses so much!

A newly admitted lawyer has just shifted into the office beside me, and she's had a bundle of questions about how to get files up and running and so on.  The part of my job that I love more than any other is being able to pass on skills to younger practitioners.  Weird or what?  I guess it's true: if you can, do, and if you can't, teach.

Left the office at 6:30pm.  Sandwiches in my room for dinner with a pot of decaf.  More job applications sent off.

Sorry this is so dull; job seeking does not make for scintillating prose!

Oh - almost forgot: two pictures from the wonderful world of facebook to share!  This -

Photo: haha! My Mama totally did this with me and my brothers... for good reason! Too funny... what about you??? :) ~ Jamie

And this -

Photo: "Make a break for it, Brownie, I got your back..." --- "Oh man..." hahaha love it. Maybe because I grew up on a peanut/cattle farm but still! Too funny. Hope you've had a great weekend! :) ~ Jamie

See you tomorrow folks.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Dead Lawyer Walking!

Hi everyone,

I expect this will be a fairly short post tonight.

So, today was my first day at work on borrowed time.  I was up early - about 5:15am - and worked my way through a pot of coffee while looking at jobs on the web with CBS' morning program on in the background.  About 7am I had a shower and got dressed and headed in.

Work was a slightly surreal experience - it was kind of like I'm now radioactive and the partners are all giving me a wide berth.  Anyway, I got down to business and sent off a few applications from the office and waded through a bunch of medical records.  Terribly drowsy this morning (how???  I'd had an entire pot of coffee for breakfast!) and by 11am there was a trip downstairs for yet more coffee.

I spent lunch and the hour after preparing for a s.12 conference in a common law matter which, to my astonishment, settled for about $100,000 less than the plaintiff wanted.  Sigh: why has my legal career coughed deep red blood just as I'm starting to get good?  Either God has some incredible plan in mind, or He is seriously screwing with me!!!

I left the office about 6:30 and came back here.  I persuaded myself to go for a run - 5.2km in 27.06 minutes.  Watched a bit of the Texans-Patriots game and then came up here and sent off a string of job applications somewhat promiscuously.  Hopefully something comes of it.

No writing tonight.

Earlyish bed tonight - I need to catch up on sleep.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Weekend update

Hi everyone,

Considering the start it got on Friday, it's been a pretty good weekend.  I've been, essentially, considering my options.  But (unlike how I would have been in another stage in my life) I haven't been wanting to go and throw myself off the Westgate Bridge. 

Photo from here

I guess that's because, really, I haven't been especially happy in my career for some time.  So, really, the thing I'll miss most about being a defence lawyer is the pay.

I'm afraid to say I don't have any brilliant next moves planned.  I was on my feet at 6am on Saturday thanks to having broken the coffee machine out of retirement (waking up to Community Coffee dark roast is something out of heaven)

Picture from this nice person.

I set to and updated and generally overhauled my CV and posted it to a few recruiter's websites and also scoped out some jobs.  Tomorrow I'll call a recruiter and see if they can do anything for me, although how the Hell I explain my sudden departure from a job I've only been in for six months I have no idea (really, if you have any suggestions, I'm all ears).  If you want my CV, shoot me an email - or check out my linkedin profile to the right of the screen there.

Saturday evening I had dinner with Second Oldest Sister and JP - pork with vegetables and crackling ... >drool<.  Honestly, the mood was upbeat.  Of course, there's never a good time to be out of work involuntarily, but there's also never a bad time to look at beginning again either.  So, it was a really nice evening.  That's two dinners I owe S.O.S., so I've promised to fry a turkey for Easter at Shepparton.  I should mention it to Dad and see if he can procure some deer meat to try frying as well.

Today was kind of a day of constant waiting.  I was on my feet at 7am with the smell of coffee brewing.  So I went through a pot of coffee and did some writing but didn't get to breakfast as I was planning on a run, and then it was coming up to skype-time with my little princesses so I was still in the shorts and t-shirt I sleep in, plus some over-the-hill sweat pants and a pullover, without a shower.  Skyping with the girls was just stellar - they were wearing the play-jewellery my mother had sent them and Grace was clearly in her element and babbling twenty-to-the-dozen.  Rachel is calm and sweet but still very quiet.  They look so big now - little girls rather than babies.  If there's an upside to getting fired, it's a window between jobs to go see them for the first time in over a year.  I wish I'd been able to see Joni for a little, because I miss her.  I know a lot of you might not understand, but I still love her, and I accept the teaching that our marriage remains in existence until they're shovelling dirt in on my coffin.  So, it's my duty to wait, and forgive, Joni until either I am six feet under or there's a chance for healing.  If that means I have to wait for the next fifty-odd years, well, I guess it'll give me time to crank out a couple of books or something.  I guess, if nothing else, that's not a bad role-model to give the girls for how a husband should behave when things get tough.

I got out for the run I mentioned before - about 5 miles in 40 minutes.  My legs were a little stiff, but their 'springiness' was back again which is what I was waiting for.  I thought about a run on Friday - God knows I needed one! - but when I bounced on my legs they were not springy - it would have been like running on blocks of wood.  I came back here, had late-late-breakfast (or if you prefer, late-lunch) at about 2:30pm and watched a DVD of Time TeamSpeaking of alternative careers...!

Shamelessly stolen from here.

I found a late Mass at 6pm at Sacred Heart in Preston - another church that is very grand and beautiful in red brick.

Surprisingly for the last Mass on Sunday, it was full!  The priest did a good and enthusiastic Mass, without any excessive tinkering with the liturgy which made it a good service.  After Mass I went and got some basic groceries, came back here, had dinner in my room again (hermit or frickin' what?) and wrote some more.  This piece is coming along well.

Back to work tomorrow.  Unfortunately, I think the next weeks will be nothing less than weird.  Sigh.  The thing is, they could have offered me the option of resigning and I'd have still been willing to work as hard as ever; really, now, as I see it I'm on work-to-rule.  Should be a new experience.

OK, I guess that's it for now.

See you tomorrow!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Fired. Again.

Hi everyone,

I've had better days.

I woke at 5am and had some coffee and sat around at a bit of a loose end watching CBS's "This Morning" on Channel 10 until just before 7am, when I shaved, showered and got dressed for work. The morning was unremarkable, apart from that I spent a couple of hours preparing my defence for the meeting with my bosses and HR this afternoon.  I was feeling pretty good about it after I'd done it, and felt I could give a fair explanation for things and largely exculpate myself.

2:30pm rolled around and I strode down to the meeting room feeling pretty good.  I came in and sat down.  In hindsight, I probably should have grasped the significance that they'd already poured me a glass of water before I arrived.  Well, my main boss came straight to the point: the stuff up at work the other week was the last straw.  They were terminating my employment on unsatisfactory performance grounds.  Ordinarily they would be terminating me immediately, but as a grace would give me eight weeks notice.  So, I can work the next 8 weeks and attend interviews etc while I look for another job.  They allowed me to say what I had in mind to say, but the decision had been made.

I thought that this could happen but was still rather stunned and finished early for the day.

I didn't know what to do next.  I called Joni and advised her.  She was about as sympathetic as I'd expected her to be.  She still thinks that I can find another job like this one, which is unlikely.  Both my employer, and The Client, and the worker's lawyer know what happened, and the story will spread quickly, which means my reputation is basically wrecked and my chances of finding further work in my field are slim to none.

So, I've been scoping out what my other options are this afternoon and evening and went over a few options with Oldest Sister Economist through GoogleTalk.  I couldn't face my housemates, so dinner was eaten in my room for the umpteenth time.

There's no point giving up, I know.  As long as my hands and brain work and I can keep putting my feet on the floor in the morning, things can get better.  Say what you like about my Mum and Dad, but they didn't raise any quitters.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


Hi everyone,

After putting that last post up, I did a few other things. First, I identified a couple of the open online courses a number if universities are offering and found a couple which focus on history and archaeology. Second, I emailed a couple of the local governments here enquiring about volunteer work in historical or heritage preservation activities. Thirdly, emailed a couple of NGOs with similar queries. Fourthly, I joined the American Historical Association to access (inter alia) their jobs billboard (this alone was a pleasant surprise - lots of roles in offer).

So, for the first time today, I'm starting to feel optimistic about it all.

More later.

On rebuilding

Hi everyone,

It's about 6:15pm and I'm at the office.  I'm trying to figure out if I have any more work-energy left and I'm pretty sure the answer is no.

I've had better days.  The fallout from the missed deadline of the other week is progressing.  The Client will investigate what went wrong itself.  The partners of my section were meeting this afternoon to discuss the situation.  And the managing partner of the firm (in the head office interstate) will need to be told given there will probably be a financial penalty for the firm.  My own ultimate fate has not been made clear.

You can probably understand why I'm not a bundle of joie de vivre right now.  I'm afraid that this might be a genuine career killer.  I was dead lucky to get this job after the last one; if they ask me to leave, I really don't think my luck will work twice.

Which wouldn't worry me so much - hell, it would probably be a blessing delivered through a baseball bat - if it were just me.  But it isn't.  I still have a wife and children who are affected as well.  Now, that's a responsibility I'll discharge through any means I have to, up to and including giving $10 handjobs behind the Greyhound Hotel.  God knows I've never been afraid to work.  But I hate the thought of Joni thinking "Lord, why is my husband such a screw-up?".

Anyway, I had a good heart to heart with Oldest Sister Economist about it all over lunch through the magic of GoogleTalk which helped put it all in perspective

* * * * *

Sorry - At about that point I completely hit the wall and gave up for the day.  I came back here to the sharehouse, had dinner in my room, watched some TV and wrote a bit (pen and paper - rethinking some ideas, which I find easier to do if I can write rather than type).  I gave exercise a miss tonight.  My legs barely held up through last night's run and so a rest day seemed in order.

Anyway, the more I think about the work situation, the more like career death it seems.  Sadly, my field is a small town in a big city, and by the time the dust settles, I'll be lucky to hold my job, and will be unlikely to find work anywhere in my field in Melbourne.  Realistically, I'd need to think about going somewhere like Shepparton or Albury or Warrnambool.  Which would be great if all this were happening about 9 years ago.  So, it looks like my career reboot in history/heritage/museums/archaeology/old stuff will need to take shape fairly swiftly.  Which, in a way, feels like I might be on the right track after all: Tiffany, over at Figuring out the Plot, told this story about the founding of Notre Dame University -

"Let no one ever again say that we dreamed too small."  ~ Father Jenkins, President, University of Notre Dame

Father Jenkins spoke the words above during his induction as President of the University of Notre Dame.  A college that was started by one 30 year old French priest named Father Sorin.  A man who didn't like to be told what to do and a big dream.  He built a one building college for priests in rural Indiana.  And then, it burned to the ground.  On that day, Father Sorin said, "“I came here as a young man and dreamed of building a great university in honor of Our Lady. But I built it too small, and she had to burn it to the ground to make that point. So, tomorrow, as soon as the bricks cool, we will rebuild it, bigger and better than ever.”  And the next day, once the bricks cooled, they did just that. 
So, it looks like it will be time to rebuild.

I can do that. 

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A linkup? Don't mind if I do!

Hi everyone,

How're your days going?  Things here on Planet Sandwich are still in the pacing stage of getting back into the work groove.  A bit better today; I should be back up to full power by Thursday.

The day itself hasn't furnished a lot to write about: I was at work earlyish (about 7:50am), left about 6:30pm, went for a run when I got back here and re-read a Hayden White essay over dinner.  I must say I'm coming to learn the value of historical theory for thinking about the past far more than I ever did when I was a student.

Anyway, since my day isn't a source of material, I'm taking part in a linkup with some bloggy pals for Tuesday Topics...

The Austin Family Diary
This week: nine blogs I read

  Life with Lulu
This nice person used to blog elsewhere until she acquired a stalker (no, it wasn't me) and had to set up a new blog.  She was the first actual follower my blog had and has since become a great friend too.  Her new blog's been a bit quiet lately but hopefully some more traffic will encourage her!

Figuring Out The Plot

One of my favourite blogs.  Covers all the good stuff - college football, legal practice, farming, and very often, a very acute grasp of the meaning of things.  I can't recommend this one highly enough.

3.  Home in New England

A photography blog from (somewhat obviously) New England.  This is one of the places I direct my web browser to at work when my stress levels are getting towards the "trying to defuse Chernobyl while fighting off a swarm of bees level".  Pure visual relaxation.

4.  Heirlooms Reunited

My Photo

Once you catch the history bug, there's really no way of losing that fascination with old photographs and old documents, even when you have almost no reference points to work from.  This blog is run by Pam from Maine and puts up a a new photo or document almost every day.  It's really worth a look.

5.  Everyday Enchanted

Meet Cori.  She's fun!  She's sweet!  She hates Alabama!  (the football team, rather than the entire State).  Her blog is a straighforward chronicle of her life and after a while you start feeling like you've been friends forever.

6.  Nebraska Prairie Girl

Double L Country Store

Life in western Nebraska is (a) cold a lot and (b) bloody funny.  The current story involves hunting coyotes in the snow and reads like something the Marx Brothers would have done to Margaret Dumont.

7.  Heartland Girl

An underappreciated (at least, underfollowed) blog from Oklahoma.  Again, a chronicle of her life - she's definitely the sort of person you hope will be somewhere in your extended family somewhere.

8.  This Girl is ...

... well worth reading.

this girl is anratliff It's a chronicle of life blog from a nice person from Indiana who (to quote Ali G) has a black belt in d' art of keepin' it real.  She's currently looking for a job, by the way - anyone able to help her out?

9.  Life With Joys

life with joys

Reflections on family life from Houston.  Always insightful, always very humane, and always very worth reading.

Hope this is giving you something more appealing to read than my daily ramblings!

See you tomorrow.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Back to Work...

Hi everyone,

Typing this on a warm evening with Miles Davis on the speakers.  The windows are open in the hope of catching any wandering breeze, and if it were any more humid I'd be sitting here naked, neighbours be damned!

How've your days been?  My first day back at work today.  I managed to get out of bed and into a suit at a reasonable time and was in the office about 8:15am.  I spent most of the morning sorting out the mess I left in December, updating the deadlines on my whiteboard, setting priorities and generally getting organised.  I have tolerable hopes for the next however-long going well.

The day itself was, as you might have guessed, unexciting.  Getting back into the work groove is never easy; I usually find it takes me a few days.  So, I left about 6pm.  I was surprised to learn that the 20km run I did on Saturday was just short of a half-marathon(!) and my legs and feet were still sore, so I went to the City Baths for a swim to loosen the legs up and give them some low impact exercise and swam about a mile.

Dinner in my room and more research for the article I'm writing.  Have punched out about 2000 words and frankly think it could be a doctoral thesis if I had endless time, money and no other priorities in my life.

Starting to sniff out jobs in the US.  I have to get there before the girls get much older.  There may be some opportunities in Oklahoma, where they're overhauling their workers comp system.  I have the skills, but it's still a ways from Louisiana and not work I want to do.  Still, I might not be in a position to be picky (although, that sort of thinking is a big whack of how I wound up in my current situation ... or at least in the negative bits of it.  Hmm.)

OK, I guess that's it for tonight.  More tomorrow.

See you then.  Be happy.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

A few thoughts ... and some pretty nice photos ...

Hi everyone,

Typing this at about midday on Sunday.  Later this afternoon I'll need to get on the road for Melbourne.  I'm not going to lie: I'm really not looking forward to going back to the office tomorrow and sorting that shambles out and wondering if they'll fire my arse for negligence again.

The only lesson I can draw from this is that I wish life came with an instruction manual.  Even when I left university at the end of 2001, I kind of kept functioning as if I was still a student, in the sense that the working year was for working, essentially every weekend, evening and every waking moment.  Rest and relaxation was reserved for the annual summer break.  So, in effect, I wasn't living so much as merely functioning.  I could not have said that, in any credible sense, I was "owning" my life.

Possibly I wouldn't have gotten into that cycle if I hadn't so determinedly pushed the limited number of friends I had away.  You can really only learn about how to function in the world by being in the world.  Being in the world really has to consist of something more than going to work, going home, occasionally going to the farm, and dreaming about all the great things you'd do if only you weren't so busy at work.  On that note, I wish I'd begun blogging years ago: meeting the great people I've met through blogging has really opened up a whole new set of ideas for me.

No point moping about lost time though.  Hell, I hope that I'm still learning more and more about how to live even when the Grim Reaper is breathing impatiently down my neck.

Ancora imparo indeed.

Anyway, life-ponderings aside, I've spent part of the morning taking some photos around the Casa Parental.  I've also been reviewing the other photos I've taken this break that are still on my phone; here they are for your viewing pleasure -

So, you don't feel like a cigarette?

Dad and Michael decanting gas from a large bottle to a small bottle.

Dad's old drilling rig awaiting an overhaul

The rig in question is a Hydromaster 500, built by Overall McCray Pty Ltd in Sutherland, NSW.

Local councils here like to get their name out ... including on rubbish bins!
Every time Joni dealt with a Shire council over here, she was kind of waiting for a hobbit to appear.

Some of the bushland on the Shepparton property

Dad looking photogenic at the shearing shed at Shepparton

At this point I was running out of things to photograph at Shepparton

The bed I was sleeping in.

Looking back up to the spine of the Peninsula

The garden at Flinders

The apricot tree -

The new lemon tree

The yellow rose bush

The pink rose bush

In between starting this post and finishing it I drove back to Melbourne, bought some basic groceries and unpacked.  Not much to report except that I dodged the holiday traffic returning to the city - dead pleased with that!

More later.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Run Forrest, Run!

Hi everyone,

How are things?  I'm posting this from my phone tonight, so I'll likely update it tomorrow with some photos and the like.

Last night the mercury didn't fall below about 90°F untill a cool chsnge went through about 5am. B-L-I-S-S!

In the morning I headed out and picked all the ripe or semi-ripe apricots on the tree for stewing. Lordy but I love an apricot!

There's a load if hay coming to the Shepparton property tomorrow or Monday, so he went up to supervise unloading and stacking. As he'll likely be there till Monday, I've stayed here as I go back to work Monday. 

Dad being away left me with not a lot of work to do, and the prospect of a lot of awkward silence with mum for reasons I won't go into tonight takes some explaining). So, I spent a big chunk of the afternoon writing that article on rural history and then went for a run.

The run kind of got out of hand, in the Forrest Gump sense that he just kept running till he got to an ocean - and then ran back till he came to another ocean. Well, I ran about 11kms in a big loop to the spine of the Peninsula, and then because I was feeling good capped it with a run to the golf course as well. With the aid of google maps I figured out that this run was fully 20.3 kms!  Pretty sure that's the furthest I've ever run all in one go!!!

Back here. Dinner and TV, and now bed.  Need to return to Melbourne tomorrow.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

A stolen blog post...

Hi everyone,

Marci over at Life with Joys has a really good blog post up about marriage.  I kinda felt I had to recommend it, so here's the link!

More later; at present drafting an article on a 110F day!

Back South.

Hi everyone,

Here I am back in southern Victoria again.  Slept pretty well last night, although I never mind waking up in the small hours of the morning to smell country air at night.  It's really something special.

The day itself was what you might have expected.  We had breakfast about 7am and loaded the steers.  They were toey, and we now have a set of busted rails in the yard.  While they adapted to being on the truck we cleaned up and packed up inside the house and I put some sunscreen on as it was going to be a hot day (although I should say that living the open air life over the break means I now have a rocking farmers tan!

There wasn't really much to take pictures of on the way, except for a couple of photos of irrigation channels we passed over.

We got the cattle to Mount Martha after monstrous traffic through south east Melbourne (everyone with a boat, jetski or surfboard was heading for the Peninsula beaches, it seemed.  Then, back across the spine of the Peninsula to here.  I got another good photo on the way, this time over a valley of vineyards at Red Hill.  It's one of my favourite places to go past and is just near the Greek Orthodox monastery (google maps location here, if you're interested).

Once back here, it was time for lunch and some downtime.  Mum wasn't exactly welcoming when we came through the door: she greeted Dad with a list of other things he needed to do and hadn't done, notwithstanding that we'd been shifting cattle across the State for the last four days.  Lord but I hate hearing argument in any home.

The balance of the afternoon was spent refitting a pump for an old friend, Les, who lived over the road from us at Merricks North when we were kids.  Second Oldest Sister, Little Sister and I actually worked for him a couple of times in the 1980s, washing the feed dishes in his chicken sheds.  He still has chicken sheds, a few miles from where we lived then, and the pumps was to go onto a sprayer unit.  I remember he had two daughters, Jade and Jemima, who were a year or two older than me.  Jade was down for the break (from Queensland, judging by the number plates on the car).  She didn't come out of the house, although Les mentioned she has an eight-month old and I met what I assume was a son in law.  Not sure what they made of me, considering that at that stage of the day I was a couple of days unshowered, covered in a screen of dirt and sunblock, had hands covered in dirt and grease and had stubble that made me feel (if not actually look) like Enkidu-the-Wild-Man-of-the-Hills.

Once at Les' we found that teflon was needed; will be back there tomorrow to finish installing.

Quiet evening back here.  Had a much needed shower and a beer with Dad.  Mum was watching the Ken Burns documentary on Prohibition, which prompted one of her anti-American moments where she was ironically humming "My County tis of Thee" ironically at the discussion of internment of German-Americans during WW1, sometimes adding her own lyrics.  This got up my nose given that my wife, daughters and probably 50%+ of my friends carry American passports and after about 20 minutes of holding my tongue I suggested it really wasn't for Australia to be critical, given that in WW2 Australia tried to enter a non-agression pact with Japan. I don't actually buy Wurth's argument about this: when you read his book, the proposed 'pact' turns out to have been nothing more than a throwaway comment by then-Prime Minister John Curtin as to whether access to the iron deposits at Yampi Sound would address Japanese concerns.  However, I was exasperated enough not to care.  Not an improvement; as I said, I hate conflict in the home.

And now, typing this blogpost and about to catch up on other people's blogs.  Looking forward to it!

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Late afternoon update

Hi everyone,

Posting this from Shepparton.  It's been a day on the road.

We were up early and loaded the steers for Mt Martha and made the run straight down and back. Honestly nothing exciting to report apart from it's about an 8 hour round trip of which I drove about 3 hours. Lunch came from the Hungry Jacks / truck stop just before Kalkallo (photos below - if I've gotten it right they're now geographically tagged to be matchable with Google Maps!). My only observation on getting lunch there is that the massively obese guy ordering a couple of double whoppers really shouldn't have been ostentatiously carrying a copy of Mens Health.

We were at Mount Martha at about 1pm and unloaded without difficulty.

Then, back on the road for here. We stopped at Nagambie on the way back for supplies -

and I grabbed a copy of the Seymour Telegraph.

Once back here we gave water and hay to the steers who've been penned up all day and who'll be on the road tomorrow -

and I got not a bad photo of the grain silos in the afternoon light.

While on the road I had plenty if time to think, so I rolled a fair degree of Dad at a Distance stuff around in my head. Unfortunately, "time to think" easily morphs into "too much time to think". You know this means I was thinking about Joni.  When we were married I promised I would love and support and honour her forever, even when it got tough. Things are surely relevantly tough now, and these are the times that that promise was made for. Certainly I do not see any reason I should not honour it. So far so good. But, I wish Joni could trust me enough to let me be kind to her, and encouraging to her, and again to make her feel loved and adored and special and perfect. Knowing that that's no longer acceptable to her fills me with sadness rather than bitterness.

* * * * *

LATER: After that last paragraph we filled a trough of water for the steers and gave them more hay.

I rattled off a quick aerogramme to Grace and Rachel and we had dinner. Read the S. Telegraph and went to bed. Silent tonight except for insect noises.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Shepparton again

Hi everyone,

Here we are at Shepparton again. The plan is to get steers into the yards tonight, load early tomorrow, take them down to Mount Martha and then come straight back here, then take another load to Mount Martha and Flinders the day after tomorrow. This farming life, I tells ya.

It was a pretty easy run up - clearly much of Melbourne was sleeping off New Years. A warm day - about 30C/90F and the sky with the washed out blue colour it gets on really hot days.

I spent a decent whack of the drive up thinking about the Dad-at-a-Distance thing that's part of the New Years resolutions. I typed quite a long spiel about this earlier today during siesta time, but on reflection I don't think I'm right, so I'll leave it out here.

Some cloud tonight. "The moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon stormy seas". A few spots of rain this evening. Very warm tonight.

More tomorrow. See you then.