Friday, December 16, 2005

More music

I felt the need to splurge on CDs again today, and added 10 new albums to my collection by artists from Bjork to Metallica to Weezer to Public Enemy. They made for great listening this evening while watching the cricket (an essential relief to actually hearing the commentary).

Taking a step

The first step was collecting together a lot of the management/leadership content I've been reading/listening to over the past year or so, and all the ideas which sprang from that new learning, in a format ready(ish) for use as a launching pad to hopefully inspire/challenge a broader group.

Well, it's not really a jump yet (although I built it up as one in my head), but I finally made the second step in progressing these ideas, talking with the top people in my division's HR area. And they were very enthusiastic about it, with several ideas for improvements and ways of moving it still further to a wider audience. Their knowledge and networks are key to any possibility of success for an initiative I think has real value. And knowing that people who see the good and the bad of our management on a daily basis think this is a worthwhile approach gives me a whole lot of confidence.

One of the things which has held me back has been that management within my division is already very good in a lot of cases, so there's a hesitance to fight the "If it ain't broke, why fix it?" mentality that may exist. But this is about helping managers take the step from being "OK" or "Good" to being "Awesome!", the kinds of leaders that people are excited to work with. As anyone reading my blog the past 12 months will have noticed, my work hasn't really been inspiring/challenging me too often. This is what I'm doing to change that. Something I am passionate about is the coaching/collaboration/mentoring aspect of my job and I feel that, while I still have heaps to learn, I can make a contribution. I want to play a role in improving the working life of not just my team but the whole organisation (nothing like aiming high!).

The past few weeks I've finally had some people assigned to work on my main project (after over 2 months of waiting), and the process of building a new team, one which is already performing well and working well together, is just the "juice" I've needed.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

More Sliders

Watching the brief "Making of" at the end of the DVD set reminded me that Jerry O'Connell is also in Crossing Jordan, where he's excellent, in an entertaining show (although I've only seen a few episodes, this being one more casualty of my draconian "No new shows" rule).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I'm huge, Jerry, huge!

After finishing today's weights session, and writing down my data (ooh, look who works at ABS...), I got to wondering what it would look like if I totalled up the weight I lifted. I had a feeling I was generally making positive progress, but how can a person be sure without some type of chart? So, being someone capable of making even the manly pursuit of lifting weights seem nerdy, here's the result.

I have to say it sounds impressive to me that in a given session I've gone from lifting around 600kg 3 months ago to lifting over 2 tonnes. I'll be turning green and ripping my shorts in no time!


I hope John Howard is proud of what he's created. If immigration and foreign policies (not to mention the whole "Be afraid not thoughtful" campaign) designed to promote an "us against them" mentality in the entire populace isn't all the trigger needed to cause such a horrible event, I don't know what is. Of course it doesn't hurt when arrogant morons like Alan Jones chip in with their pathetic pandering to base human aggression. Quite the future we have to look forward to...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

[DVD] Sliders

It's been 10 years since Sliders appeared on TV, with a premise giving unlimited freedom to play with world history. And it made good use of this opportunity. I'm halfway through the Season 1+2 box set and enjoying each episode more than the last. Any show which has the line "I haven't seen fans going this crazy since Michael Jackson rejoined Public Enemy" is all right by me :)

Sadly, most of the excellent core cast has been lacking in quality roles since. Jerry O'Connell hasn't done anything better (even Jerry Maguire, and his fun cameos in Can't Hardly Wait and The New Guy) [disclaimer: I didn't see him in Kangaroo Jack, so maybe that was his peak...]. Sabrina Lloyd has made a recent TV comeback in Numb3rs [pronounced "numb-three-rrs"]. John Rhys-Davies, the exception to the rule, well he obviously struggled to find high profile roles, except for a little trilogy called "Lord of the Rings". Luckily, having something of Sliders quality on your CV is enough to have me remember you fondly (I'm sure they're sleeping better for the knowledge...).

[Music] Spend the Night - The Donnas

Several kick-ass singles later, I finally got around to buying the album and it was worth it. If an all-girl quartet, doing nothing but smashing out way fun, rocking tunes sounds appealing, this is definitely for you. No serious issues covered. No deep thought required. Aaaah, that's the stuff...

[DVD] The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Bill Murray once again proves how awesome he is. As with any Wes Anderson film, this isn't all about gut-busting laughs (although there are some of these) but gentle, subtle humour which leaves you feeling happy as the movie ends. Not as dark as The Royal Tenenbaums, stranger than Bottle Rocket, just a wonderful, thoguhtful ride.

[DVD] Be Cool

Vince Vaughn kicks comedy ass (no surprise there). The Rock was entertaining, as always, in a role you've never seen from him before. Andre 3000 carried across the humour evident in Outkast videos/music to a hilarious performance. Oh, and some little known performers called John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Harvey Keitel do their thing too. A thoroughly enjoyable Sunday afternoon diversion :)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Jumping, for kids?

After asking myself How do you jump?, I realised that my jumps are certainly much less joyous and frequent than they once were. I'm talking jumping metaphorically really, since broken toes, patella tendonitis and lame ankles (plus an extra 10kg) have entirely cramped my real jumping "style". Although even these are all treatable, and I'd love to once again feel the momentary elation of having to actually wait till I return to the ground. But I digress...

Metaphorical jumps in particular should be unencumbered by all my many reservations (ok, fears) about just about any change in my life. I've never been adventurous (ask anyone who knows me well, and I doubt that would feature in the top 1000 adjectives they'd apply to me. Try it in a sentence: "I can't believe how adventurous Bertie is" :) But is that "just me" or is it the me I believe myself to be? If I believe, really believe I'm a risk-taker, do I become one? Do I want to be? Is my cynicism about myself too ingrained?

Is the answer as important as the question?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Beer o'clock

Just ordered some gluten-free beer in preparation for the festive season. I haven't had a beer since June 2003 (maybe that's what sparked my blog, which started a couple of months later. Sobriety leads to whingeing :) Reports on taste and side-effects will be forthcoming. In the meantime, I better do some exercise to lose the weight the beer will put back on...

Side-note: One of the bottle shop in Byron Bay stocks the beer (Road Trip!), while Debacle is the only place in Canberra where it can be bought directly. Another reason to head North!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Worst ... song ... ever

Un-fan of hyperbole that I am, I don't use that title lightly. But having heard The Black Eyed Peas "My Humps", I feel entitled to make such a grand statement. Now I'm sure it's s'posed to be funny (oh God I hope so!) but if you have a look at the lyrics or hear the dullness of the accompanying beat (dullness which seems to plague every single off their latest album), you'll find it makes "Shaddapa you face" or "Agadoo" seem like masterworks of lyrical genius. Which is all extremely disappointing after I thoroughly enjoyed "Elephunk".


OK, now that I've got that out of my system, I have to retract my overstatement. On reflection, this isn't even a contender for worst song when compared with anything by The Streets (either the musical artist or the ice-cream mislabeller) or Macy Gray.

Cash 'em in

To celebrate the re-opening of the Belconnen second-hand CD store, I splurged a bit on what felt like a whole lot of variety but, when ripping, mostly gets classified as "Rock". Which is exactly why I ignore classifications (as statistically unsound as that is to say) and, instead, enjoy tunes from this diversity of artists - The Animals, Cypress Hill, Depeche Mode, The Donnas, The Killers, Harvey Danger, Morphine and Eagle-Eye Cherry. Hopefully CD reviews will follow but, for now, let's just say music once again got me through an uninspiring work day.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Not enough toys

Since I'm clearly not using enough web toys - LibraryThing, Flickr, Writeboard, Webnotes, Enetation, SiteMeter plus, obviously, Blogger - I've added one more, my own page. So if you've ever wondered what websites I look at when I'm not cracking people so consistently up with my hilarious blog entries, now you can find out! (8 links in one sentence!)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Sing, Bertie, sing!

Ironically, "Jelly is a fat free food". Not sure if the soy ice cream I'm going to eat with it can say the same... (Also unfortunate that K-Zone isn't "Q zone").

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Soy ice blended mocha

Yesterday was an awesome day! Catching up briefly with K and AWP-Shaq, and an afternoon of enjoyable - :O - shopping with B.

Over the titular "coffee", B and I were discussing the insular nature of Canberra relationships and I raised the analogy of musical chairs to describe the problem that once everyone in your group is "paired up" you can end up being single for a looooong time or, to quote B: "The loser who ends up with nobody to sit on." Thankfully my dark-ish sense of humour finds that as amusing as it was intended to be (not the harsh indictment of my sad life it might otherwise seem to be :)

But that whole musical chairs thing is really me being fate-alistic and not taking any responsibility for my poor record in meeting new people. When it comes down to it, my stability-liking ways have conspired to create a comfortable (but often lonely) place to exist.

Hmmm, not sure that didn't come out a little more self-pitying than I planned. Certainly not intended that way!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

If you don't hear from me...'s why I'm in detention. This article describes the effect of a key part of the new legislation being rushed through Parliament, relating to sedition. Something I found interesting is the second sentence of the definition: "The term [sedition] is deprecated in most countries, though equivalent language may still be in use in totalitarian and fascist jurisdictions." Draw your own conclusion...

Here's more detail and commentary on the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill. For plenty more, just Google "australia sedition anti-terrorism". Sadly, all the discussion about it on the Web and other forms of media is all for naught, given the Liberal's supreme control of Australia's legislative powers. But at least we all have a chance to start practising our kow-towing before being locked up.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Shenanigans Central re-launch

I spent a day (months ago now) totally restructuring the SC website and I've finally released it from my hard drive to the Web. It should now be easier to navigate around, including switching to the Bachelor University site. There's a direct link to the discussion board, where you can add insults (or something more productive) to your heart's content, plus a pointer to K-Dawg's little business venture (which I hadn't put there before because I was too lazy to manually change 40 separate pages).

What's next? I plan to fix the BU enrolment form so it can actually send, maybe get some stats more recent than 2004, link the photos page to my Flickr account so I can include larger versions of the pictures and add in Road Trip reports from days gone by (and maybe a preview of the one currently being written). If you have any suggestions for things you'd like to see, just let me know.

Nature photo

Last weekend I went for a walk, finally organised enough to bring my camera with me to take shots of the scenery along my usual path. So, 10 minutes in, I took this photo. As I went for photo number 2, my camera gave me a friendly "Change batteries now" message and powered off.

As I'd prepared for my walk, the following checklist ran through my head: pants? check. keys? check. walkman? check. mobile phone? check. camera? check. Not once did I think a couple of AAs would come in handy. Lucky my one photo turned out well, and if it stops raining for more than 5 minutes at a time this week I might get to add to my collection of original digital art during my next traipse through the back of suburbia.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Can't stop the music

For those who don't read the comments, I thought I'd reply to Liv's comments on my last entry here:

Yeah, the quality thing's important, and I will certainly still largely buy CDs. There's not much point owning expensive, big speakers and then listening to compressed music when I'm at home. Even my very untrained ear can hear the difference. But for those artists I only want a single from, iTunes is convenient (and close to instant). It avoids the only thing I hate about on-line shopping: delayed gratification.

"What's that, you've taken my money but I have to wait 3-30 days to watch my new DVD?"


On a positive note, several of those slow-arriving DVDs have made their appearance at my door in the past 3 days: Veronica Mars, The Pretender Season 2, Arrested Development Season 2 and The Daily Show: Indecision 2004 all helping fill up the diminishing space on my shelves. I just broke the 500 mark!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rotten Apple

I know Liv's a big Apple fan now, and rightly so with her lovely new toy. But sadly for comparative Luddites like me, with my 2 year old MP3 player, the news of Australia iTunes finally coming on line is not such a boon. Because of the horrendously restrictive DRM, and a whole new format (M4P), I can happily buy new songs from iTunes, but can only play them using iTunes. Windows Media Player (which remains my preferred PC music player) and my walkman can't play the file at all.

I had suspected that would be a problem, so only purchased a single track (for $1.69, which is less than my $2 per track limit) - Dear God by XTC - to test it out.

So if I want to walk and listen to my legally purchased music at the same time, I'll have to buy an iPod. As much as I'd like to say I won't, on principle alone, I actually had planned to get a new player soon-ish, and I do love the convenience of purchasing music while sitting. So Apple may win on this one ... or I may just keep buying second-hand CDs and ripping away... or I'll just wait till the conversion software available to take DRMed music to plain old MP3s catches up to iTunes 6... Yeah, I like that last one. All the convenience of on-line shopping plus being able to listen to music I buy.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Who's interesting now?

I don't know how this is worked out, but it may well be the only time you will ever see me considered more interesting than K and Batto combined. A red letter day for consistency and tedium!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

What is this, Melbourne?



in only an hour.

Glad I didn't go for the morning walk I planned! Makes me a bit hesitant about bringing my walkman and camera for a walk into what is currently brilliant sunshine.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Being a hobbit's not so bad

Turns out I'm:

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

"A brave and loyal associate full of optimism, you remain true to your friends and their efforts, to whatever end."

Disclaimer: The statistical methods used in this survey are spurious at best.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

DVDs good for my brain

OK, that's not exactly what this says, but I've been doing pretty well at entirely avoiding ads and TV news, and feeling much less ANGRY all the time. Admittedly, much of my DVD collection could not be classed as "food for the brain", but a guy's got to watch "Old School", "Road Trip", "Without A Paddle" and "American Pie 3" sometime...

Cricket good, media boring

I think all the negativity about the cricket Super Series is a bit over the top. I enjoyed seeing Australia kick the ass of an underprepared World XI. Gives me a little something to fill the gap in my memory that was everything that happened in England after The Ashes Game 1.


I can't tell if this brings up wonderful memories of Simpsons episodes past, or saps all the joy out of these awesome words. Maybe a bit of both.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Safer, fairer propaganda

It's been a while since I vented my anger about the infuriating Liberals, but a non-stop, taxpayer-funded (to the tune of $12 million) propaganda campaign on the new workplace relations "policy" has me ready to rant.

The beauty of TV ads for this dictatorship is there's no expectation that issues will be covered in depth, and they can play on the subconscious of the already largely ignorant electorate. Promising protection of our rights while actually weakening them is easy when it's made to sound like we're being given extra things (who doesn't like presents?). Unfortunately, we already have all the protections being offered, and far more, guaranteed to us by existing laws.

It's reassuring to know that if my boss takes a dislike to me for any reason, as long as it's not demonstrably based on sex, race or religion, he/she can simply dismiss me, say it's because my position is no longer needed, and I have no recourse. To quote from the detail, spoken by the Government itself, on how employers can happily screw their employees:
"claims cannot be brought where employment has been terminated because the employer no longer requires the job to be done (i.e. operational requirements)"
It's another nice feature that the decision on whether assistance is provided for a claim of unfair dismissal is made by a Government department (DEWR) who, I'm sure, will help you out if it's them (or another department) who've sacked you.

Most conditions taken for granted (especially in the Public Service) will now be up for grabs in any agreement, and can be entirely removed. Which is nice for someone who'd like to be employed by DEWR, or other organisations, who are already making it mandatory for new starters to sign an individual agreement. Choosing between an AWA (which for all I would have known as a new starter was a perfectly fair contract) and having a job offer taken away from me is a pretty obvious choice. Who is that "choice" fairer for, though? Hmmm, that's a tough one...

Here's what Kim Beazley had to say on October 14, the summary being:
"What is being mounted here--and it was not foreshadowed during the last election campaign--is the most massive attack ever on the Australian way of life by an Australian government. It will mean the destruction of the lives of ordinary Australians, about which the incredibly wealthy people on the Liberal-National front bench chortle and cheer in question time after question time. They will haunt the houses of average Australians with the propositions they are going to put through: no umpire, no protection, no underpinning, no-disadvantage test--nothing. There will be absolutely nothing but a master-servant relationship in which the power persists with the person who owns the business."

Friday, October 14, 2005

Fading fast...then eating

Well my enthusiasm and busy-ness ran out sometime around 11am this morning, making the rest of the work day drag horribly. I'm going to try to forget the fade-out of the week, and focus on how good I felt while I all too briefly had work to do on Tue and Thu.

Making it easier to forget was the amazing dinner I just ate: bolognaise and pasta! It was chicken mince (since beef is still off the menu) and gluten-free penne pasta (which tasted exactly like the real thing) but, for someone who lived on pasta for my first 5 years out of home, this was as close to culinary heaven as I'm getting any time soon. Sadly the store was out of the gluten-free spaghetti I sampled at my family's place last week, but as soon as that's back in stock I will at last, after 2 years without it, enjoy the glorious taste of my favourite all time food. Is anyone else hungry right now? I just ate and I think I need a snack...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Now showing...

Originally uploaded by bertiemabootoo.

The beginning of what should be an explosion of Road Trip photos. Here's my friend the dolphin. And here's where all the new photos will be.


Yesterday at work my projects finally got underway. After a month of impatient waiting, I had an excellent day. I got to work with several people, was thoroughly impressed with the new starter doing stuff for me, and also made a few breakthroughs in structuring my project plan. My meeting count is starting to climb (which in itself isn't necessarily good, but these are focused, worthwhile meetings), and I felt for the first time since I moved to this section like I actually belong. Not bad considering I was on the verge of calling in sick when I woke up. Luckily several caffeine doses and the fact I had worthwhile work to do kept me going, and that momentum carried me all the way through a full work day and fun little trivia night, where (on the positive side) I knew Reverend Lovejoy's first name and Tom Cruise's first wife, but (on the negative side) thought Hallowe'en was October 21 and listened to K when he confused a dodecahedron with an icosahedron. Lucky he doesn't still play D&D or he would have been verbally pummelled..."PAIN! PAIN IN THE GLAYVIN!"

Monday, October 10, 2005


I had a whole post-in-waiting prepared - Seeking a Calling - but after it got to 2 written pages, and rambled aimlessly for most of that, even I got bored with it.

Mostly it talked about searching for some kind of purpose for my life, and how my work doesn't seem to fit with what I want to be doing, which is building a strong team, seeing my team grow in skill and confidence thanks to my leadership. Once I'd gotten rid of 2 pages of whining, I decided to take one more try at converting my current role into what I want it to be, before I finally admit I'm due for some radical change in how I make my living, something which I can be passionate about, the way I used to be when I started at the ABS. So how did that plan work out today? Not too bad.

I kick started one of my projects, getting the only person who's free to do work with me involved and moving forward. Tomorrow I'll be meeting with another of my "virtual team" and that will also make me feel a little more relevant. Still nothing looking like keeping me busy, though, and I left after only 6 hours of work today because there's simply not enough to do. In the past I've run a team of 7, with 16 different projects on the go, and still had time to do some programming work. Right now, I have 2 projects (one of them very small) and only 1 staff member (who doesn't even directly report to me). Fairly obvious why I feel underutilised... because I am.

At least I made use of my extra time at home. Instead of sitting frustrated at work I got to do some weights (5th times in the past 16 days, which I'm pretty happy with), and watch WarGames, with Matthew Broderick (pre-Ferris) and Ally Sheedy (pre-Breakfast Club). It actually holds up OK, considering it's 22 years old and about computers. OK, we don't use 8" floppy disks much any more, or rotary dial phones, but I was won over by Ferris (I mean Matthew) changing his grades using a computer. Wait, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is just a huge rip-off of "WarGames"!!! I can't believe I never saw it before...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

[DVD] Runaway Jury

I just watched "Runaway Jury" last night, and was thoroughly impressed. I'm not usually a courtroom drama fan, but this had me genuinely interested throughout the entire 2 hour running time (impressive considering how unfocused and impatient I've been lately). Having talent like John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and Rachel Weisz involved certainly adds credibility to any movie, but I think the story was strong too, and I cared about what was going to happen.

While I'm hawking John Cusack's work, you should definitely catch "Grosse Point Blank" as well. I re-watched it during the week and it was even better than I remembered. Excellent supporting characters and a fantastic performance from JC make this conflicted and yet hilariously funny. Any movie which makes me laugh out loud consistently is a success in my book.

Friday, October 07, 2005

I just want to work!

Still not much action on the work front, and I'm just barely staying positive in the face of enormous frustration. If nothing gets started early next week, I think I'm just going to take some days off and let everyone else get ready, so I can do something worthwhile. Because when I'm not at work, I'm feeling great! And that's been a rare thing for me lately, so I'm enjoying it. Almost as much as starting two consecutive sentences with conjunctions :)

Since none of that was amusing, here's an update on those shoes, as they look for somewhere to live.

Is this our home? Posted by Picasa

[Hint: The answer to the shoes' question is NOOOO!!!! That's not your damn home!!!]

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Uncle Orson agrees with me

Praise for Serenity from possibly my favourite author. Now I just have to wait till "Shadow of the Giant", book 4 in the Shadow series following on from the Ender saga, is released in paperback, to conform with the rest of my collection.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Switched columns

I basically only changed the layout so I could add the "Library" item, and I got sick of trying to get it to work in the left column. So, a few hours of stuffing around later, ta dah! a new look. I may also make a colour change at some stage. Orange is a fine, fine colour for a basketball team, but it's a bit bright for a web page. So look for the steadily fading colour scheme sometime soon!

Just made it

Well, my actual job provided me no work at all, but thankfully my old team mates chipped in with some stuff for me to do, and I staved off the spectre of boredom for another day. After getting home and doing some weights to the sounds of the entertaining "Futures" album by Jimmy Eat World, I'm feeling pretty good. All psyched up for an energetic evening of watching DVDs, having fulfilled my blogging obligation for the day ;)

And since I know everyone is crying out for more of my friend's surprises, here's something I discovered last week, at 6.40am when I got up to get ready for work...

Good morning! Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 03, 2005

Serenity kicks gorram ass!

I've spent 6 months getting excited about "Serenity" and it lived up to my internal hype. Now all I have to hope is it's commercially successful enough to spawn more movies, and there can finally be some more sci-fi with heart, brains, humour and whizz-bang special effects. It's a shame Mr. Lucas couldn't have aimed for at least 2 of those 4. Luckily Joss Whedon knows how to create great entertainment, with characters worth caring about.

In the words of a couple of "Batman Begins" pushers: "Go see it! See it! See it! ... See it!!!"

This One's For Liv :)

An afternoon spent with an awesome friend is cause to celebrate an increasingly positive attitude. Will it survive another day of work boredom? I'll say yes and make it a self-fulfilling prophecy (or hope it's not boring at all, which would be better).
In the meantime, is anyone hungry? A friend of mine is willing to share his left-overs...

Mmm... crusts! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Monday, July 18, 2005

No go Vegas show

Unfortunately, due to a return of my CFS, I'm now sitting at home, instead of sunning myself in Las Vegas luxury. Two weeks in bed have improved my health, although the decision to cancel the trip (made a week ago) was definitely the right one. I was at least able to record my presentations for use by the conference organisers, so met my speaker agreement. Basically I got to do all the work without any of the fringe benefits. Obviously very disappointing, but I'm trying not to think of it as a missed opportunity, focusing instead on moving forward with repairing my health and planning my future work directions.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Jimmy Barnes!?!

OK, now I remember why I don't usually shop at Sanity. The overly enthusiastic young lady who served me, upon seeing I was purchasing the new Gorillaz and Queens of the Stone Age albums, decided that it was relevant to say "You know Jimmy Barnes is releasing a new album very soon!". Hmmm... Stunned as I was at that news, all I had to say was "That's nice. Not really my scene, though. (Polite smile)". Apparently Jimmy's been reduced to being the new "fries with that".

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Drawing again

Well it's taken years, and an actual investment in a "How to draw" book, but I finally started back into some "art". While I did create a "Grogman and Pisshead" cover for the never-even-started Shenanigans comic project (you know who you are, K & G), this is the first serious attempt at drawing I've made since I last gave Liv a Wonder Woman portrait, by request. I've definitely drawn better than this, and extra points for anyone who can actually tell who I've drawn, but hopefully I'll pursue this hobby further over time... to fill the gaps in my sad, lonely life ;)

Posted by Hello

[Music] Reise Reise - Rammstein

Rammstein's latest, Reise Reise, isn't quite as frenetic as I've come to expect from this German metal outfit. There are some excellent tracks, such as Keine Lust (which also has a great video clip) and Amerika (another indication these guys don't take themselves too seriously), but there are too many "ballads" and not enough guttural shouting and hard rocking. I'd definitely put their earlier albums Mutter (with the incredibly catchy Links 2-3-4) or Herzeleid (their debut in 1995) ahead of this.

[Music ] Kingwood - Millencolin

I'll put it simply: Kingwood, the latest album from Swedish punk rockers Millencolin, is awesome. Hardly stopping to take a breath over the course of the album, this is exactly how I like my punk. If you liked their earlier work (e.g. Home From Home), you'll lap this up.... with your ears... Hmmm...

Monday, May 30, 2005


I spent a couple of hours on the weekend trying to fix the comments (via my blog template design) when I noticed they'd disappeared from my page. Turns out it was something weird happening to a whole lot of enetation users, and nothing to do with my template. A couple of button clicks on the enetation site later and everything works. Learned some more about HTML/JavaScript while fixing the non-problem, so I'm not as annoyed as I might have been otherwise.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Day ... something

Very light on for exercise updates, I'm afraid, mostly because I've just been chugging along, doing at least 30 minutes walking each day for the past week but only doing more intense stuff like cycling or jogging a couple of times. Still, I've been feeling quite energetic, and coped fine with my first two days back at work, so I'm feeling confident I can build on the regularity of the walking to do something more soon(ish).

Saturday, April 30, 2005

[Books] 7 Habits

I've been planning for a while to write a little about "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and its follow-up "Principle Centred Leadership", both by Stephen Covey. I'll start by saying that I've been extremely cynical about the whole "7 Habits" hype in the past, thinking it was claiming to be a quick fix for all deficiencies a person might have. So I've sneered any time someone mentioned buzzwords like "synergy" and "proactive" and made no effort to see if there was value in it at all. And I was both pleasantly surprised and validated in my sneering at the same time.

"The 7 Habits..." is certainly the more worthwhile of the two books, and contains some useful tips for anyone seeking self-improvement. I particularly like that it emphasises personal responsibility, encouraging the reader to stop making excuses, blaming bad luck, etc. Despite the author's strong religious bent, this does not really come through in the writing, and it's not sermonising at all. Most of the content is common sense, although the kind of common sense which can get left behind when under pressure to get things done, or just to live a busy life. Buzzwords aren't too heavily used, although many points are repeated a bit frustratingly (repetition is supposed to help retention, right?). All in all, I'm glad I finally read this book, after mocking it in my ignorance. Have I actually applied any of its proposed actions? Well, not really... (although maybe the exercise counts?)

"Principle Centred Leadership" takes the 7 Habits and tries to guide the reader in how to apply them to leadership. I think the moral/motive is good, but the execution became tedious and particularly swamped by buzzwords. The same material could easily have been covered in one-third of the space, even with the bits designed for anyone who hadn't read "7 Habits...". I'd say this is one which you might read if you were really keen on Covey's ideas, or maybe even searching for a leadership style, but I didn't gain too much from it and could happily have given it a miss.

Monday, April 25, 2005


Exercise regime floundering... need to start again... Unfortunately, I only had a 10 minute walk yesterday, since I spent too much time on my computer in the morning and the entire afternoon and evening was filled with the awesome Liv's terrific birthday party. I'd love to say I was so committed to the exercise that when I got home at 1am I jumped straight onto my jogging tramp but, instead, I dropped into bed and off to sleep. So today is Day 1 again :( I figure it's better to keep my target high and begin again than soften and say a 10 minute walk is actually challenging enough to count for Day 3.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Exercise - Day 2

Today I hopped on my exercise bike and rode 6 miles (9.6 km), which tells you how old my bike is. This was only 20 minutes of exercise, and I wasn't even breathing hard by the end of it, meaning my aerobic fitness is better than I thought. I'll have to push myself harder next time (assuming my knees don't scream at me tomorrow for cycling at all). Only 28 days to go!

Friday, April 22, 2005

What I've done

Before going off to Byron Bay, I had a week of holidays in which I don't feel I achieved much. I read quite a bit, including the various management/leadership/productivity blogs I monitor. I did a little bit of exercise (although not as consistently or vigorously as I planned). I even did a little bit of programming work, and sent off interesting tidbits from my reading to my 2IC (who I had earlier promised would get a nice relaxing break from my constant attempts at reinventing how we work :). I also discovered I can eat yeast-free bread (which still contains gluten) with no ill effects, opening up a whole range of gluten-containing foods again, after 18 months without them. Maybe that's enough stuff to have done, and I'm just suffering from lack of focus on what is most important to me to do next?

Anyway, this morning I read 30 Days To Success which reminded me of the common sense approach to establishing better habits, flagging my sporadic 2-5 times a week exercise as being insufficient, and triggering me to set a goal of a walk/jog/ride for at least 30 minutes a day for the next 30 days. Well, I went for a 70 minute walk this morning, so that's taken care of. And when I've established the regular exercise as a habit, with my already pretty reasonable diet, I expect to achieve the weight loss I need as a side-effect. I love accumulating numbers so much that this is definitely the way for me to go. Anyone who's ever heard me recount how many days I've gone without caffeine knows I'm a fan of this kind of record breaking. Since I can't return to weights training till my right elbow recovers from its latest (football throwing) injury, this target helps me avoid slipping back into too sedentary a life, after a reasonably active Byron holiday.

The Byron Bay experience

Just got back from a week in Byron Bay (NSW), having had perfect weather and a beach only 200 metres from our apartment. Luckily weather back home is good too, otherwise leaving sunny Byron would be much harder to take.

Our beach Posted by Hello

Monday, April 11, 2005


I bought a new camera today, to supplement my 1.2 megapixel credit card camera (which is fine for day shots which are put up on the Web, many of the Shenanigans Central photos were taken using it). So now there's no excuse for me to not have lots of exciting pics from Road Trip 2005 and my Vegas trip (as well as anything interesting in between). This should mean more updates to this blog, and more photo galleries on Shenanigans Central. Everybody (who wants to see more fat guys) wins!

My basketball court Posted by Hello

Friday, March 11, 2005

Viva Las Vegas!

Ok, that's a really obvious title, but it is Friday evening after a long work week. So here's the related news:

I'm getting sent to Vegas in mid-July to present at a Lotus advisor conference, on behalf of the ABS. Pretty exciting! Especially since I've never even been outside Australia before. Here's a link to the homepage for the conference, which will eventually have details of sessions, and maybe even the photo of me which I just sent off to the organisers today. Does the title "Real world integration of Lotus Notes with .NET Web Services" (what my presentation is called) excite you? If not (i.e. the most likely option), just think how cool being in Vegas is, and safely ignore the geekery.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

My mark on the world

After following Liv's example and adding a site meter, I found that some very different places were the launching point to my blog. The only one I could see any relation to my blog was where I ranked 140 on Yahoo for a search on "chest and sinus infection". I hope whoever did the search was looking for complaints and not advice :)

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Passion (delayed)

I found this entry in a forgotten text file on my hard drive, something I'd written on 6/11/04, and was glad to see I'd been consistent with my other posts of the past few months. The author of the linked article has a blog which I read regularly, as much for its links to other blogs about self-improvement, maximising potential and other buzzwords as anything else. Anyway, back to the past...

One of my continued focuses (focii?), making sure that I love my work as much as the rest of my life.

Here are some steps along the path.

I've spent a lot of time in the past 15 years working out what it is that I want to do with my life. Long before I worked, I had to avoid making a decision about what my education path would be. So a double degree meant I could hedge my bets for another couple of years. After a couple of years of that, I discovered that engineering wasn't for me, but building IT systems wasn't so bad. Then, in my final year of Uni, the course structure changed to emphasise team work, where I really flourished. I started work at the ABS not because I knew how awesome the environment would be, but because I was sick of looking for jobs, and they'd offered me one.

Almost 8 years further down the track, I've progressed from a full-time coder to a part-time team leader/coach/business analyst (and occasional coder). Being part-time allows me to devote my full energy to every hour I'm at work, instead of the watered down version which my health limited me to over 5 full days. I'm almost certain I get as much (or more) done in 80% of the time, and enjoy it even more.

Going up

Apparently complaining on my blog sometimes helps me as well (the opposite of the health collapses triggered by writing good news). Well, I'm going to risk the negative consequences, because my life has been going extremely well since I last wrote. The team member I was going to be losing will now be staying in my team for the foreseeable future and, instead of just sneaking through some productive work, my team is now full steam ahead to deliver all the whizz-bang stuff we can. Due to that, and increasingly improved health, I'm loving being at work and really inspired by all the things I'm involved in. Over the next few months, we'll be releasing systems which will make the lives of all ABS employees easier and hopefully improve their day-to-day work experience. That's the kind of thing I'm doing my job for.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Bete noire

My bete noir, and the reason I haven't posted in a while, is getting thrown changes at work which I can't possibly have guarded against or seen coming. In this case it was one of my two best staff being taken from my team on no notice, to work on something which I find hard to see as a higher priority. Changes like this shift my life of tedium and stasis into chaos (at least temporarily), making me shift my concentration from restoring my health to, instead, having to waste what would otherwise have been a productive week (delivering things to my clients) undertaking re-planning of my team's schedule to ensure we can at least meet some of our commitments by the end of the financial year.

Now I realise this issue hardly compares with actual tragedies, regularly occurring around the world, but I've realised the severity of emotional impact of an event basically ties in with just how seriously it affects one's own life. In this case, for at least a few days, it appeared that my carefully crafted position at work was going to go from great to average, and I was going to have to work 8 day weeks to get anything done. Now, after getting a whole lot of frustration and disappointment out of my system, I have a plan moving forward (with plenty of help from my 2IC), and am once again enthusiastic about what my (smaller) team will be able to accomplish over the next 5 months (and beyond). I'm really not a big fan of change right now, after such a disrupted past 18 months, and I wanted so much to settle back into my work and enjoy the comfort of a high performing team for at least a few months before my plans got kicked in the guts. I've now had 4 of my top 5 staff taken from my team within the past 12 months, constantly disrupting any chance of delivering value. Not to mention it's hard to continue seeing the work I do as important when my team can so blithely be ripped apart to suit other areas' needs. But this is the reality of my job, and why I have to spend so much time managing client expectations. While it seems obvious to me that you can't take a top-notch performer with 5 years experience, replace them with a brand new starter fresh out of uni, and expect the job will be finished in the same amount of time, try convincing eager users they're going to have to wait. I'd rather be programming, and I don't even like programming. Still, beats working for a living.

Despite all that crap I've written above, I'm feeling really positive right now, and full of new ideas about the systems I've been working on delivering for over 2 years. Pumped enough to go into work yesterday (a Saturday for an hour or so) to add some extra functionality. I think this change has at least given me a mental kick in the pants, and hopefully it's the revitalisation I need to lead my team the way I try to. Or I might wake up tomorrow feeling tired, and finding that my boss has changed his mind again, and I have to spend another week planning. Either way, for now I'm going to enjoy the anticipation of a great work week ahead :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Testing photos

I'm just testing out a new photo-sharing app called hello which makes publishing photos to your Blogger blog straightforward (well, if you don't make a typo in your HTML like I did first time). The photos are hosted for free, which eases the pressure on my own web page (which is taken up with Shenanigans stuff anyway). Seems pretty cool (although I've had to edit the post to add any actual content to this). Great if all you want to do is post photos with captions.

Its other main use is to share photos with friends online, with built in chat facilities. Obviously I'd need to have friends to test that out, though... Wait, I mean online friends! I have friends! Really!

Do you think I bought enough Coke... meow?Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

[TV/DVD] Arrested Development - Season 1

No, not the music group with hits like Mr. Wendel and People Everyday, this is a hilarious new sitcom, currently being butchered by Prime (surprise, surprise) in a variable late night timeslot. Luckily the good people of Canadia have provided me with the entire 22 episodes of Season 1 on DVD. My housemates are totally hooked on it as well, and it stands up really well on 2nd and 3rd viewings.

So, what's it all about, you ask, in the tired, disinterested way I have come to expect from people barely tolerating me (i.e. friends, relations, the unemployed...). Well, let me tell you! A wealthy family has to adjust quickly when the pater familias is sent to prison for corporate fraud (and some "light treason"). Jason Bateman, the only member of the family who's ever worked, is all that stands between his family and the ravages of an unfamiliar world. Filmed in faux documentary style, the writing and acting are spot on, with plenty of spectacularly funny characters and situations. Portia de Rossi and Jeffrey Tambor also star, along with a host of other talented comedic actors.

I'm sure I haven't done it justice, but in my opinion this is a must see.