Tuesday, 30 June 2015

In bed and shivering

Hi everyone,

I'm lying here in bed typing this. It's a bitterly cold night.  My phone says 4°C, but that doesn't alter the fact that I can barely feel my feet.

The day itself has been quiet.  I was up early to walk the dog and feed the bull before work (it was marginally warmer then, I might add).

Work was unremarkable.  I seem to be doing an adequate job.  After work I went off for my evening at the local Community Legal Centre.  The clients I saw were all fair sensible and easy to help.   My greatest challenge of the evening was resisting the cupcakes the centre had laid out for volunteers!

After we closed up at the legal centre I went for a somewhat truncated workout at the gym.  Better something than nothing, right?

Which brings me to now: in bed, freshly showered and freezing.  Bed feels good aside from the chill.

Have a great day!

Monday, 29 June 2015

A possible surfeit of photographs...

Hi everyone,
Sitting here and thawing out at the end of the day.
Did I say yesterday that I had an early kickoff today?  Not as bad as it sounds: the CEO of Goulburn-Murray Water was flying up to Mildura this morning but needed  to sign some papers before he went.  As I live only about 25 minutes from the airport, my boss asked me to meet him, have him sign them and witness the signature.  Naturally, as I'm close to the bottom of the soprporate food chain, I made sure to be on time and look as impressive as possible.  Only one chance to make a first impression etc...
Anyway, It was cold when I rolled out of bed at 6:30.  How cold?  This cold -

I grabbed some toast and a travel mug of coffee and drove up to Kialla where the airport is.

Something had changed by the time I got there.  What had changed?  The temperature had gone to -
Despite the cold, it was a beautiful morning at the airfield, with the sun coming up through the mist.

Even if the palm trees may have felt a little out of place!  Los Angeles on the Goulburn?

The papers signed, I drove on to work and got underway for the day.  I was feeling a bit seedy as they morning wore on and ducked out to get a coffee about 10:30.
There's nothing so settling as chai latte!

Work itself was unremarkable - mainly procedural work and by 4:30pm I was kind of casting about for things to do.  I needed to scurry off straight after work or I would have done another of the e-learning courses.
Not much else to note about today.  I know I need to write a few casenotes so I may get into them after dinner.  I certainly don't want to spend the next few months just spinning my wheels.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Skype and a long run

Hi everyone,

It's been a full day here.  I need to go to a pre-work thing tomorrow, so I'm going to type this now and then sleep.

I was up at a reasonable hour this time and as the first order of business for the day, fed the bull his usual mix on grain and cornmeal.  It was too cold this morning to even attempt to pour molasses out for him.

I should say that the drums of cornmeal and grain are kept in the shearing shed.  As we're never likely to have sheep on the place, the shed has become a bit of a general storeshed.

I still come in quite often though, and imagine the thousands of sheep that must have passed though, and wonder how many pounds of gorgeous golden fleece they yielded up.

I had a nice long Skype-date scheduled for the morning and the girls were in fine form: chatty and playing and especially loving a puppy-fashion-show-cum-race game they've invented.  They're so beautiful, and I'm incredibly proud to be their dad!

Barry stopped by just before lunch with the carcass of a young deer plus the back leg of an older deer that he'd shot.  We skin and broke them up, and I'm looking forward to trying out some of the Cajun recipes for venison I have lying about!

Back over to Michael's place after lunch go finish putting the yards up.  Oddly, he and Fran weren't bickering as much as usual. Doubt they'll get back together; I'm just glad for the pressure being down a bit.

I decided to bale out of the car on the way back and run the 12.6kms from the irrigation channel to home.  It's a pretty flat, almost straight run, and I covered it in 1:11:45.  Pleased with that: the average is under 6 mins/km and sets me up well for half marathon training.

I had one especially good moment, as I was running towards a steadily darkening horizon, and my playlist threw up Take the Money and Run.  It just seemed to fit, and to make me want to give all my energy to the run.

Which brings me to now.  As I said, an early start tomorrow.  Hopefully the rest of the week is straightforward!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Of Marriage and Steel Panels

Hi everyone,
I'm typing this with a glass of wine, a bottle of water and some chips.  It's been an interesting day.
I woke up about 2:30am to the news of the US Supreme Court's gay marriage decision, and again at about 6:00am to a battery of Facebook posts about it, for and against.  I must be the only person on the planet who really doesn't have an opinion on the issue one way or another.  I can't see any reason why the law cannot recognise unconventional (for want of a better adjective) relationships between people.  In the past the law has recognised criminal liability in livestock (1) and still recognises that inanimate objects can have contractual obligations (2).  Recognising the capacity of two people of the same sex to form a particular type of relationship is a positive trifle by comparison, and if it works a greater justice, so much the better.  I think it would be a good thing, though, if the people wrapping themselves in rainbows today also recognised that this is a painful day for a number of good and kindly people.  I think that, in the end, opposition to gay marriage largely reflects the understanding of marriage as a sacrament - as an analogue of the relationship between Christ and His church.  For a particular strand of Christianity, gay marriage must seem like a travesty of that sacrament.  For them it is painful for the same reason as a Jew in Melbourne might find it painful to hear of a synagogue in the Middle East being destroyed, even though their own synagogue is untouched.  I guess this is the drawback with having disputes resolved by the Courts: one side always has to lose.
Since I'd woken up to find the world was variously a cranky and gloaty place, I rolled over and went back to sleep.  I surfaced again just before 10am.  At about that time Michael rang from his farm at Violet Town to say that some of the heifers there had got through a fence and gone walkabout.  Dad and I went over and worked them around the fencelines and back into a paddock with an electric wire around it.
Fran had come back by the time we returned to the farm here.  This was a little awkward: she has finally left Michael and they're in the process of separating.  It's not, perhaps, as bad as it sounds: they're both good people, but they've always been poorly matched and once some time has gone by and everyone has adapted, I think they'll both be happier.  But, it means things are a bit fraught for the moment.
After lunch, Dad, Fran and I went back over to Michael's place with a truckload of yard panels, for putting up some temporary drafting yards.  Michael's tractor has only short, bale-handling spikes on it; they were a little precarious when unloading pallets of steel panelling!
We got a few panels set up before the weather began to cool significantly and we headed back.  Michael declined the offer to have dinner here (not unreasonably: if I were in his shoes I'd want a little time to lick my wounds too).
Which brings me to now: a fire in the grate, some wine and blogging.  I may put something more up later.  I hope you're all doing well and looking forward to the weekend!

(1) David Andress, Review of 'Seeing Justice Done' (2013) 118 American Historical Review 1606.
(2) Damien J. Cremean, Admiralty Jurisdiction: Law and Practice in Australia and New Zealand (2nd ed., 2003), p.108

Friday, 26 June 2015

A longish day

Hi everyone,

I'm sitting here by the fire typing this on my phone.  It's time to process the day...

Friday kicked off foggy.  I woke a bit before six and turned the radio on to ABC-FM and read last night's emails.  Then, got up, turned the coffee on and got dressed for work.

The fog was still hanging around when I got on the road and so I kept the speed down.  It was a dry mouthed trip from here to there, because before I'd even reached the Goulburn River, this happened: 

Anyway, I limped into Tatura without running out of fuel and put half a tank jn (will top it up when I have a discount docket to hand).

The day at work was kind of wearing.  I advised the Law Institute (lawyers' association) that I won't be renewing my membership.  They asked me to explain why, so I did (in essence, my employer won't pay the $450+ membership fee and I don't get enough out of it to justify paying the expense myself).  I found it an oddly draining email to write.  I guess I just don't do conflict.  On the plus side, I got this last night from the American Bar Association - those are members dues for which I get value for money!

Mildly annoying moment with one of the other lawyers at work who couldn't twig that if someone doesn't talk about their personal life, you shouldn't ask about it. Gripe. There's no nice way of saying "we're work colleagues, not BFFs".  I guess I just need to stick to being taciturn mainly and (if I must talk) polite to the point of formality.  With that in mind I was happy to skip this afternoon's monthly work drinks and hit the gym instead.

Not sure what this weekend will hold. The old boy is back from the south, so I guess it'll be whatever work he has in mind.  If I get a chance I'll start scoping out and turning some ground for a vegetable patch.  Hopefully I'll get a chance to write a few casenotes too, and go for a run.

Have a great Friday people!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Insights from activity

Quick post tonight as my phone battery is a little iffy.

It's been a quiet day here.  I was slow out of bed this morning but managed to get to work without speeding!  The day itself wasn't too exciting: mostly I was getting on top of the file at the heart of yesterday's meeting.

I went out to the op shops in town at lunch.  Nothing to take my fancy I'm afraid. Nice walk at least.

SES training this evening. Practised casualty handling. Very rewarding and pleasing to be able to work as a team.

Not much more to say.  More tomorrow.

In a virtual Virginia

Hi everyone,
I’m killing a little time before SES training and I decided to see where I’m at in my 2015 running challenge.

Regular readers will know that the target I’ve set myself is to run (or swim, walk, cycle or row) the equivalent of the distance from Houston, TX to Clinton, CT, a distance of 1,940 miles.  Dailymile tells me that I’ve just ticked over 1,221 miles.  I’m stoked to be about 150 miles ahead of schedule!
GoogleMaps tells me that this would put me at Abingdon, VA, a town of some 8,000-odd people.

The next points on the itinerary are –
Roanoke, VA – 1,220 miles

Martinsburg, WV – 1,554 miles

Hagerstown, MD – 1,577 miles

Hershey, PA – 1,665 miles

Morristown, NJ – 1,804 miles

Tarrytown, NY – 1,855 miles

Bridgeport, CT – 1,900 miles

Clinton, CT – 1,940 miles

In the masochistic manner that makes sense only to runners, I’ve got a bonus stored up if I finish ahead of schedule: I’ll push on to South Portland, ME, where my good friend Pam lives.  This is an added distance of 231 miles.

How are your miles so far this year?  And if you
had a route to utilize them on, what would it be?

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Lots of things

Hi everyone,

It's been an interesting day here in my world.

The day dawned surprisingly mild, if not actually warm, and it was a speedy drive to work.  I was a little miffed about one thing in the drive when I passed through Toolamba: twice I've responded to ads in the paper inviting applications from people willing to serve on that town's Cemetery Trust: I could use a chance to gather some level of managerial experience.  Anyway, twice I can't get a rerun call, and I'm left wondering if the ad is a tick-the-box thing so that someone's mate can have a place that's already been promised. Gripe.

Anyway, I was just getting started at work when the SES app on my phone went off!  All available members to attend a road crash at Kyabram where a vehicle had rolled and there was a possible person trapped.  I scurried down to the shed (two streets from work) and hastily climbed into my gear.

The crew leader and I waited in the truck a short while while we waited for two other members to attend (one has been asleep - worked late last night).  Once they arrived we got going with lights and sirens in use.  We were a couple of miles up the road when a follow up message came through standing us down: I suppose the casualty had self-extricated.

Certainly an energising way to kick off the day!

The day itself was subdued.  I had a long meeting with people from the property team as to a particular matter and spent a while working though the fallout from it.

I'm becoming more comfortable with my demeanour at work: polite, serious and reserved.  Not really friendly, but also not unfriendly.  I guess I'm still feeling a little burned from what happened at the last job, when all but two of the people I thought were my friends dropped me like a stone as soon as I stopped working there.  My tenure at this job is even shorter, and I just want to get through it, do it well, and move on to the next thing.

After work I had a plasma donation booked at the Blood Bank and so I headed across to Shepparton.  Happily they've had a good response to their recent ads for donors, so it was a pretty good reason for needing to wait and drink heaps of their water.

Anyway, it turns out my health metrics are still pretty good and they hooked me up to the machine.  Maybe it was just me or it was a slow cycle, but I was able to read through a Law Institute Journal and an ABA Journal, and make a start on Entertainment & Sports Lawyer magazine while it ran.

Anyway, the machine slowly but surely extracted the yellow gold: it looks icky but apparently it's pretty useful if you're sick!

Listened to the parliamentary broadcast on the drive home. If that doesn't make you despair nothing will!

Supposed to be a quiet day tomorrow. Hopefully it'll be productive too!

More then.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015


Hi everyone,

Alas, no pictures to share today!  Although that's not so dramatic: it's been kind of a quiet day anyway.

The morning at work was positively dull: I was kind of making up jobs for myself.  Lunch hour I spent mainly at my desk, entering another race (Shepparton half marathon) and drafting the last blogpost. In an epic failure planning, I discovered that I'd booked myself for two half marathons on consecutive weekends. Madness!

Longish session at the gym after work.  Certainly got reason to kick into high-gear training now!

Have a great day. More tomorrow.

Why it's good to talk about yourself!

Hi everyone,

I was listening to ABC PM on the drive home last night and had an insight that I thought was rather good.

I was thinking how much modern commentary is based on things other people have to do. For one thing, how many things do you hear people say that boil(ed) down to "Bush's fault" or "dang it Obama"?  Even reader comments on a fairly mundane technical issue like declining groundwater stocks becomes an exercise in people talking about what other people are doing wrong.

This sort of thing sounds, of course, terribly whiny and boring and it made me think: there's actually something to be said for talking about yourself.

This particular insight comes from reading people's blogs.  I found myself comparing (say) the letters page of The Age, with its demands for what governments in particular and other people in general must do, with the "Running against the Odds" blog, where Anita talks about what she does to be the best XC coach she can be.  Or "Pointe till you Drop", where Johannan writes about what is needed to create an artform of pure beauty.  And compared with the person who sourly reflected that Chirstians are
conservative voters who believe in their right to have special privileges ie private schools, the right to be homophobic, anti feminist and even eternal life! It should be no surprise they are the least likely to hit the streets in protest on behalf of the vulnerable

we can have Kelly who understands the world in a way that brings her joy and wants to share that joy with other people.  One doesn't have to agree with her to find that a laudable thing.

Looking further afield, homesteading bloggers like Amber and ultra-runners like Jessica are also strikingly positive and affirming: after all, they are talking about a life they have consciously and voluntarily assumed, and which they stick with even when it is tough.  How can one not be inspired by reading about their lives?

Maybe our hypercritical, hypercynical world is reaching a critical mass, where to look at the outside world too much is to become jaded.  Maybe the best thing many of us can do is to find the light and passion within ourselves and share it with the world outside.

Monday, 22 June 2015


Hi everyone,

Thus is yesterday's post - I was falling asleep last night by 11:30 and so I decided to leave it for this morning.

Kind of a dispiriting day: I kicked it off by listening to ABC Radio's AM program on the drive to work and (not for the first time) found myself despairing at the short-sightedness and mean-spiritedness of so much public life.  I've felt like this for a long time.  As I said at the last State election: when I look at public life in this country, I find myself feeling like one does in a relationship when you've already checked out.

It was a good and productive day at work, save that a former member of the Legal Unit was back in the pod for the day and my coworkers seemed to want to chatter with her a lot, which was a little trying and which I found myself attempting to filter out.  Open office life I guess.

Picked up some groceries in Mooroopna after work but will leave the gym for tomorrow.  A little bad as I went overboard on food tonight- alas!

Enough for now I guess.  More later :)

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Did someone upset Queen Elsa?

Hi everyone,

Hope you're all doing well and maybe a fraction warmer than me!

Actually, it hasn't been that bad today.  It got down to -3C last night, and it felt like it this morning, but it came up to a sunny if cool day.

My first task for the day was feeding the bull, but I got a little sidetracked by taking pictures of the frost the night had left.  Some of it was common-or-garden frost on garden weeds -

And some of it had elements of Frozen -

One of the striking things was how much remained where a shadow was cast, even when the sun had melted everything around it -

After I'd finished my little moment of Arrendelle-on-the-Goulburn, I got on with getting together cornmeal, grain and molasses for the bull.  Because I'd not been quick off the mark, the bull was up at his trough when I came to feed him and (as is his wont) butted at the buckets as I was pouring the feed to him.  What happened?  Once again, he acquired a dusting of cornmeal and a splodge of molasses on his winter coat!

Enough was spilt (and he's starting to look lean enough) for me to give him some more cornmeal and molasses later in the afternoon.  He absolutely loves this mix: I'm pretty sure if I mixed him up some pancakes and syrup he'd think he's gone to bull heaven.

The old boy headed off back down to Flinders for a few days in the mid-morning.  He still has a bad chesty cough and I think he should have stayed here till he'd shaken it off, but truthfully he's as stubborn as old farmers always are!  After we was away, the dog began giving me the guilts for not giving him a long walk yesterday and so we went off on a good solid 5 kilometres or so around the fences.

After lunch Barry S came by to use our workshop to pull apart a tractor belonging to his daughter's equestrian coach (a tradeoff as to fees, I understand) so to find out what's wrong with its clutch.  I lent a hand and got in touch with my inner grease monkey.  What I like about working with Barry is that he has a wonderful habit of handing you tools, saying what he wants achieved ("see if you can disconnect that drive shaft") and letting you take a stab at it.  A few hours and a lot of grease (and one barked knuckle) later we'd split the tractor and got to grips with the clutch, which will indeed need replacement rather than repair.  Felt good to have done something useful.  That sense of doing something valuable and feeling useful has a fair degree of attraction to me now.  I guess that's why I've been enjoying homesteading blogs a bit lately, and feeling a degree of sympathy for the romantic (or perhaps Romantic?) sense of community of the French royalist movement.  Just a fad I guess!


As the sun was hitting the horizon I gave the dog one last walk and tied him up.  I had a cleanup and kicked back before the fire with a glass of wine.

I was hoping to Skype with the munchkins but that had to be put off - they were still asleep after a big day yesterday!

It's another chilly night tonight. Bedtime now though: to work tomorrow!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Education re education

Hi everyone,

It's been a good day over here. I was up early to drive over to Benalla for an SES course in acting as a Community Education Facilitator - so, someone who can take a lead in educating community groups about flooding and disaster preparation, arrange and conduct doorknocks, and otherwise generally help the public to handle disasters better.  It'll certainly make me a better volunteer and the skills are highly transferrable, do everybody wins.  As an added bonus, the course was taught by Sue, the wife of Ian who I shared the motel rom with on the NSW deployment.  He sent his greetings, and it felt great to know I have friends in the service!

The course was quite an intense one, and maybe had a little more material than could comfortably be covered in a single day.  But, I got a lot out of it and I'm looking forward to doing the two practical assessments we've been asked to do.

I should say that we touched on the use of the Service mascot, Paddy the Platypus. Someone had got the mascot suit out, I guess in case it was significant. I'm not sure if it was intended, but to me Paddy looked like he was sulking!

After training finished, I stopped in at the Anytime Fitness in Benalla for a quick workout to counteract the lot of food I'd eaten during training.  Benalla is quite a bit smaller a gym than the one in Shepparton, and not quite as well equipped, but very clean and warm.  I must remember it next time I go over there for SES.

After I'd got a workout in, I stopped for fuel and at the supermarket.  It's the old boy's birthday today, but I was honestly stumped for a present for him.  In the absence of any ideas, I stopped and at least got him a cake (chocolate mud cake if you're wondering).  He was actually dead pleased by this, so I'm calling it a win!

Not much else to report.  Getting a somewhat early night tonight.  Hope you're all doing well!

Friday, 19 June 2015

Finishing well

Hi everyone,

Quicker post than usual tonight: I need to be on the move earlyish tomorrow for a course at Benalla.  Not that there's a lot to report.  I had a reasonably steady day at work, heavily focussed on a particular land title issue that goes back to the 1960s.  I finished out the day with a good  hard session at the gym.

Course tomorrow is in planning and delivering a community education program for SES.  Should be interesting.

Bedtime for me now.  Very cold again tonight.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Pope and Mr Limbaugh

Hi everyone,

I was rolling this post around in my head yesterday but didn't feel the urge to write it last night.

Something that was perturbing me yesterday was commentary from the redoubtable Rush Limbaugh on the leaked draft of Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change.  I've consciously decided not to do more than skim the media coverage of the draft: for one thing, secular coverage of theological teaching is often simply awful.  A complex, sophisticated set of ideas is reduced to a 15 word quotation.  Imagine your favourite book being reduced to a bumper sticker and you'll understand why I don't want to bother.

What troubled me was Mr Limbaugh's almost-visceral rejection of the idea that climate change (caused by people or not) and the existence of poverty present a moral issue, and can only be seen in political terms.  It seems to me that if we cause, or wilfully fail to prevent, the earth to become less able to sustain life, then we're at the least complicit in marring the work of God sung about in Psalm 104 -
He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
    it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
    they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
    the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
    and plants for people to cultivate—
    bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens human hearts,
    oil to make their faces shine,
    and bread that sustains their hearts.
The trees of the Lord are well watered,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests;
    the stork has its home in the junipers.
The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
    the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

Equally, if we draw the line at alleviating poverty when it causes pain to ourselves , then it seems to me we're guilty of the self absorption that Rick Warren warns about: "Never forget that life is not about you! You exist for God's purposes and not vice versa" (1).  When that failure to act means people live in misery and poverty unwillingly (2), aren't we wilfully allowing the image of God stamped on other people to become corroded?  This is surely not a proper thing to do.

I can't help but be a little disappointed, because I would usually be classed as a fan of Limbaugh.  His compulsively listenable broadcasts are a model of fluency and panache.  He is one of the few conservative commentators active at present with the intellectual muscles to contribute to the marketplace of ideas (notwithstanding his exasperating habit of using the terms "communist", "socialist" and "Marxist" as interchangeable, which they are not); certainly he is one of the few active today who could legitimately claim to be an intellectual heir of Edmund Burke.  What saddens me is that the message of the Galilean carpenter to deny yourself and the things that bring you pleasure, and to take up your cross and follow him (3) should be so ferociously rejected.  I know full well that religious imperatives translate badly into practical politics.  Try and legislate morality and you'll tend to create the Taliban.  Try and legislate charity and you'll tend to create Greece.  All of this tells us something about human nature and everything about the limits of what governments can do effectively.  But surely it is lazy and wrong not to at least attempt to create an economic and industrial order that honours the image of God in the world.


(1) Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life (2002), p.173.
(2) I'm very aware that there's a strain of humanity that more-or-less consciously chooses squalor as a lifestyle.
(3) Matt. 16:24-25; Luke 18:22.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Foggy morning

Hi everyone,

Another busy day today, which I count as a good thing.

I had a very foggy drive to work (as in, really really didn't want to go too fast!).  I started the day unpicking an account frm a government agency, but kept getting interruptions for one thing and another.

I had a good walk at lunch hour that took me past the Victory Hall in town.  I didn't check which victory, but from the design I'm guessing 1918.

The Main Street in town, however, is much less interesting if I'm honest.  It's a nice place, but it could really be Anytown, in the State of Bullamakanka.

Medium gym session in the evening.  Not much else to note. Will sleep well tonight.