Saturday, 30 March 2013

From McDonalds

Hi everyone,

I'm typing this on my phone in the McDonalds at Deniliquin before I begin the drive back to Shepparton.

I've now had my second interview for the country job - this time in a pub over a few beers to the strains of a four piece band cranking out AC/DC covers. The interview went, you may say, well.

On the short drive this far I took a photo of the Boer War memorial (I usually do take pictures of those monuments) [pictures below] and find myself, as usual, struck by the thought of young men travelling all the way from these dusty plains in order to export death and violence in the name of the sovereign and emperor.

What is history to make of these people, who travelled so far to take part in an unarguably unnecessary war of conquest so far away?  The ethics of our time tell us to condemn them, and since we have the arguments in Hansard and the like to give their side of the story, we:re surely not being unfair on them.  And yet... de mortius nil nisi bonum.

I always thought my role as a historian was to understand, and not to condemn. But, maybe, sometimes to understand and not condemn is a sign that you have lost your way.

I have a few things to think about, I guess.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Dawn, Good Friday

Hi Everyone,

I'm typing this at Flinders before we head back up to Shepparton. It's about 6am here on a chilly Autumn morning.

I was in Melbourne briefly on Wednesday and Thursday, chiefly so I could skype with my little princesses and also to get a haircut and collect my mail. I was hoping to try and write something (indeed, anything) Wednesday night but my brain wouldn't really co-operate; I rattled off a book review over at goodreads but that was it.

Skyping on Thursday morning was great. The girls are the most beautiful little ones you ever saw, and Grace insisted on giving Daddy kisses through the computer screen. I have no words at all for this. Lord help me to find a position from which to be a better Dad.

Some good news in that the Wangaratta job wants a second interview. They want to do it at a pub in Deniliquin on Easter Sunday which is a chore (and suggests to me I may want to downplay being a practising Catholic - yeah, gutless, but I really need this job; given that my girls have a strong stake in it, I'm sure God will understand!).

Things otherwise good. Dad is ok but looked a little "weighed down" in the cold snap this afternoon. He's not young anymore, and I truly don't think the Flinders climate suits him so well now. Truly, I think he's awfully happy giving a lot of his energies to Shepparton.

I can hear the first few notes of the dawn chorus and a rooster crowing. This reminds me of why this day matters ("you will deny me three times ..."). I want to say something more about that but will set my thoughts in order before I do.

More later.

Monday, 25 March 2013


Hi everyone,

It's just after 5am at Shepparton and I've woken from a night of strange dreams I can't really remember.

Sorry I've been blogging erratically lately. It's not for want of time; just being dead tired in the evenings.

Yesterday afternoon I spoke to the recruiter who I mentioned the other day. Not great news. There IS a job in the offing, but it's within the defence system where my name is presently mud. I've said to put my name forward but I'm not optimistic.  Sigh.

Will be back in Melbourne Wednesday and Thursday, then to Flinders Thursday and back to Shepparton on Good Friday. Will skype with girls Thursday morning which will be great.  The fact that this will be my first ever week without pay? Not so great.  Things will be OK for now, but I worry for Joni and the girls.

Eyelids getting heavy again. More later.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Yardwork and sunshine

Quick update from the phone tonight.

It's been a good Saturday. I started out with some yardwork (picking up branches and raking dead plant matter).  The project got a little out of hand, so there's been a day of raking, long-distance wheelbarrowing and shovelling manure (at which point I was tempted to call one of my high school teachers and say "I'm doing what you always said I'd end up doing")

Short recovery run in evening. Very tired. Great dinner of steak  - love it when I cook it just right and rare!

Eyes are closing. More tomorrow. See you then.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

A review...

Hi everyone,

I'll update on today this evening, but I just now finished rattling off a review of something I finished yesterday.  I dunno; I think this one is actually kinda good!  Anyway, if you're interested, there's a link to it here.

Hope all your days are going well.

It rains

Hi everyone,

I'm typing this update on my phone at Shepparton. It's a little before 6am and there's a light rain falling outside, thank God.

Yesterday wasn't brilliant, I'm afraid.  I got to the Alliance Francaise building in plenty of time for the DELF examination. I think I managed OK in the written component of the examination, but I crashed and burned in the oral component, struggling to speak properly, find words or maintain even the least grammar.  Sigh: screw moi. Anyway, I can re-sit the exam later this year, so that's something. Anything that get's e a little closer à mes deux filles en Louisiane.

After the exam I caught the train back to Shepparton. Nothing more settling than a long train journey: I'm with Sheldon Cooper on that one. Finished reading Camus' essays on the way.  Mum and Dad doing well and off to the Warragul field day today, which means I have a few days of alone-time which (frankly) are not unwelcome!

Good news in the form of an email that came in once my phone was getting some juice: an email from a recruiter asking if I'd be interested in a job he knew of. Why, yes. Yes I would. So I'll speak to him today.  Sometimes that kind of contact means the job is a poisoned challce, but at the moment, I'm not going to be picky!

More later today; hope all is well with you.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Back in Brunswick

Hi everyone,

Past midnight so I'll keep it quick.  Back in Brunswick this evening.  Skype-date with the girls lined up for tomorrow which I'm really looking forward too, and also some other things to attend to.  Feeling a little wrong-footed for some reason.  I guess the side-effect of time up-country; it takes a day or two for the identity crisis to work its way through the system.

Faint feeling of foreboding on the job front.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, although probably just my paranoia at work.  Hopefully some news soon.

Not much more for the moment.  Sorry this is a bit dull.

More soon.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

I am not dead!

Hi everyone.

Sorry I've been updating poorly of late.  Sorry.

Quiet Sunday here. Long 10 mile run this morning. Have logged it at dailymile.

Thought about going to Mass but felt would be needlessly awkward for mum so will make a weekday mass this week.

Washed the house's windows while listening to French language podcasts. Helpful.  Lunch.

Reading after lunch plus long walk for dog. Very cool day: ok in sun but wind strikingly cold.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Brain Dump ... kinda whiny

Hi everyone,

The computer's online, so this is a quick brain dump before a whole bunch of random stuff comes squirting out of my ears mixed in with grey matter.

First, as you know, I've spent the last few days in a state of enforced idleness.  I'm not doing well at it.  I've killed some of the time with writing a review of Donald Kagan's book on Thucydides, and I settled (and then accidentally overwrote) a 12 page paper on some issues of evidence law.  And I've been trying to get out a few more ideas on city and rural perceptions of time without getting anything much of value.

Secondly (and not unrelated to the first), I'm incredibly sick of the sound of my own voice.

Thirdly (also not unrelated to the last two paragraphs) I've discovered I have no desire to be self-employed.

Fourthly, because things are a bit up in the air workwise, I can't scurry over to Louisiana to see my girls.  Hopefully an opportunity to do so will present itself (I think I see how that can be made to happen, as a matter of fact), but it can't be done in the immediate future.  Unfortunately, 3G access is so poor here that skype is out of the question.

Fifthly, ...  No, I'm not saying that one.  Save that one of the next historical projects I'd like to experiment with is the long term cultural effects of societal trauma.  I have a theory that culture operates to perpetuate the fallout from socially traumatic events.  Hence, the vast trauma of the First World War was passed on to the children of the generation that experienced it though cultural habits and mores, and on to their children too.  I speculate that it its effects persisted up to the 1970s. Similarly, I speculate that the same mechanism sees my parents still living out the experience of the Great Depression, despite not having had first-hand experience of it.

Sixthly, I do rather wish Dad didn't talk so much, and insist on saying the same things again ... and again ... and again ... and again ...

Seventhly, how the Hell is it that being with your parents returns you straight to the age of 15 years?  I'm thirty five, have had an at least adequate career, and notwithstanding some jolts, pretty well had my life sorted out.  How is it that being back with family does your head in like this?

Eighthly, I know I could go back to Melbourne, but aside from broadband access there's not actually a lot there for me.

Ninethly, I'm actually feeling a bit ho-hum about reading other people's blogs at the moment becuase so many of them seem to be people who actually have their shit together.  Although I may be setting myself up for failure there: for some reason most of the blogs I read are those of women, and the female of the species, as a rule, tends to be in a much more shit-together-status than the rest of us.

Well, nil desperandum.  Time to pull on the boots and keep going.  Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!

More later.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Quick note from the management

Hi everyone,

By way of mentioning it, I've offlined the post from yesterday for reasons I'm sure regular readers cn guess at.  I have had some encouraging news in the last hour or so; I'll keep you all posted on how things develop.

Thanks for all the support, peoples - It means a lot.

More soon.

Sunday, 10 March 2013


Interview went well. Cruised area after to try and work out if I could live there.

Still trying to organise my thoughts.

More soon.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Friday, 8 March 2013

A note from the management

Hi everyone,

Sorry there's been no substantive post about today just yet.

For one thing, I'm at Shepparton this long weekend, which regular readers will know means patchy 3G coverage.

For another, I have a little hard thinking to do which I'm trying to systematise.

Very warm night here - at time of writing it's about 4am and a solid 30C/90F.

More soon.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Before I iron...

Hi everyone,

A quick post before I iron a shirt for tomorrow.  It's been another winding-up day, in which I drafted the last advice I'll likely do for Thomsons.

The morning was spent out and about.  First, to the Magistrates Court for a mention where I thought the court might have some questions and I thought it might be unfair to send a trainee to get walloped.  Then to the "career transitions counsellor" that I saw last week for a second appointment.  Oh my...

It's the closest I've ever been to walking out on another professional.  She (a) had forgotten to diarise the appointment and (b) seemed to be half asleep.  OK, I can forgive those things; certainly I've had days like that.  What came next really stunned me.  she reviewed my CV (again) and recommended I state my degrees in the 'education' section in this fashion: "Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.)" and "Bachelor of Arts (Honours) (B.A. (Hons))".  I asked why, given that I otherwise don't use the abbreviations or the full titles anywhere else in my CV.  I really couldn't see what grammatical or explicative purpose was being served.  She said "well, some recruiters and HR people might not know what LL.B. stands for".  I didn't feel this really explained her point and said so.  I also suggested that I could probably assume anyone involved in the realm of HR would know the abbreviations for canonical degrees like the B.A., LL.B., B. Econ, M.B.B.S. and so on.  For reasons unexplained, she doubted it.  We moved on to looking for work, and her first suggestion was that I get Saturday's Age newspaper to get some idea what jobs were out there that I might be suited to.  I resisted the temptation to explain about this rather large thing called the Internet.  The breaking point came when we moved back onto my CV and she queried the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) I'd listed as presently in progress and was asking vaguely if they resulted in a certificate or what.  I explained the concept of MOOCs to her but wasn't at all sure she understood.  At this point I what I wanted to do was suggest she get any higher education supplement from the Australian or the Age over the last twelve months and read them: this is the single biggest development in tertiary education since mass admission to universities developed in the 1960s, and they've been covering it in some detail.  I was genuinely astonished that she wasn't aware of it.  I made another appointment but, frankly, don't expect I'll keep it.

The next port of call was my GP to get my ribs checked out as per Blood Bank request.  That's all fine - just some inflammation of the rib cartilage from where I hit that lamp post; it should fade in a month or two.  It's pretty well faded now.

After lunch work consisted of the advice mentioned before and generally trying to stay focussed.  Not a lot of actual work is left to do.  One call from the recruiter and then an email re an interview - the best news I've had in ages!

Back at the casa by 7pm.  A 6 kilometre run, shower, dinner, blogging and bed.

Quiet day tomorrow, I believe.  Still, I need to be presentable, so I'd better get this shirt ironed.

Hope all is well with yourselves!

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Update post

Hi everyone,

Not a lot of new news to share for today.  Another day of closing out files and doing handovers.  The highlight of the day was lunch being provided by the office in connection with a seminar on mediation tactics.  I'm going to miss the lunches at this job.  Although, I did kind of have too much, which is why this evening involved a long swim and longer walk to get the calorie consumption back in balance.  Still, I feel better for it.  Not for the usual reasons I feel better; this time it was really just because if you feel like life is sometimes a bit out of control (in this case, with a sense of drift), doing something just a touch unusual - like actually swimming - can be a reminder that you actually are in control, whether you realise it or not.

Which is why this evening I made a point of applying for a litigation job at an upper-mid tier firm I saw yesterday, for which I'd be well qualified.  God knows what Joni makes of me not having work lined up; I may need to outline just how freakin' dead the legal market is at the moment.  Hell, it actually made the pages of Lawyers Weekly just recently.  The jack-of-all-trades skillset life has given me isn't always useful, but I'm rather glad it's there at the moment: I may need it!  Added to which, I'm double-glad to be out of that stage where my whole identity is bound up with work.  I can think of a few people I know in the profession for whom being let go would represent the end of the universe.

Which says that I need to buckle down and get more writing done, since it's one skill I can call upon at the drop of a hat.  With that in mind, i was pleased to see this book that I'd ordered off (for about 50c and free postage!) in the mailbox today -

So I guess that's it for the moment.  I have a few things lined up tomorrow - will update you all then.

Hope all is well.

See you then

Monday, 4 March 2013

Monday and discussions and an anniversary

Hi everyone,

How've your days been?  It's been a beautiful warm day here and overall it's gone well.

I had the meeting with a recruiter this morning about a job up-country.  Probably the less said about that, the better, but I'm hopeful it'll morph into at least a 'for now' job.  We'll see.

Most of the time today was the fairly dull exercise of winding things up and handing over files.  No great excitement there, although in one way it feels kind of liberating.  I caught up with some friends from the old old job for lunch at the Metropolitan Hotel.  I'm proud to boast that I was disciplined and kept myself to a Greek salad.  The only drawback is that even now I'm craving fetta and olives.

Image from here

Went for a long run in the evening.  Dinner, some TV and other like activities for the balance of the evening.  And now, bedtime.

Sorry this isn't more exciting, I'm afraid!

More tomorrow.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

I've been a baaad blogger

Hi everyone,

Sorry for how erratically I've been posting lately.  No real excuse, apart from that some evenings I just can't seem to find anything of any substance to day.  Of course, then I'll go and say it over at dailymile or goodreads or MFP so I'm not sure that's totally true.  Although the last few evenings I've also been trying to bang out a 2,500 word piece for the American Bar Association's Workers Comp newsletter as well, which I emailed off on Friday evening.  Hopefully another one for the resume.

Anyway, it's been a good weekend.  This was the weekend of the course I mentioned a little while back; I now hold a Certificate in Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology!  I know, not a huge step on the road to a career reboot, but since I'm not in a position to go back to University for a couple of years, it's a good place to begin.  Added to which, it was a genuinely good course to do and most of the skills are transferrable to terrestrial archaeology too.  Score!

By the time it finished both yesterday and today, the blues were kind of hooking into me.  This is something I remember well from before I was married, and I guess was one of the reasons I spent a huge amount of time alone even then: after spending fun time with people, it made going back to it being just me feel kind of crappy.  Anyway, this evening I dealt with that in the usual way, meaning that after Mass I pulled on the Nikes and the iPod and got underway.  It worked as well as ever and I'm much more like myself now.

No skype this weekend: last night I crashed into bed at 9:30pm, and tomorrow I have a 9:00am meeting with a recruiter about a job opportunity managing a regional office of a firm.  Don't want to sleep in, which I've been doing a bit lately - largely because I'm pretty badly checked out of the current job.  You try to stay interested but at some point you know you're looking at the clock and thinking "come on 5pm".  Actually, also on the job front, I've just seen something on LinkedIn with another insurance firm in the city that's a good prospect.  I don't quite have a covering letter in me this evening but will shoot one off tomorrow.  I can't do worse than I've been doing: three knockbacks last week.

I guess that's enough for now.  I'll let you know how the discussions tomorrow go.  Hopefully they'll be despereate enough for someone willing to go bush that they won't ask why I've now jumped ship twice in two years.

Will keep you posted.