Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Old Smokey

Back in the days when VHS videos were new-fangled technology, each member of our family had a single video tape with which to record their favourite shows. If you found a new favourite, you had to lose an old one. It's a little hard for me to comprehend, with 530+ DVDs and climbing, that I could ever have coped with only one movie to depend on. I must certainly have had more hobbies and interests to fill the time which now gets absorbed in devouring DVDs.

In 1986, and for several years afterwards, my one and only movie was Back To The Future. I never actually taped over that, but over the years saved up the small fortune necessary to buy a second blank tape, to keep Michael J. Fox and his Delorean available for regular watching. But before Mr. Fox's movie classic, my single video contained Smokey and The Bandit, and I loved that movie. My Dad was a truck driver, so imagining that his job was anything like Burt Reynold's exploits was pretty cool. After watching the latest Clerks 2 making-of clip yesterday, with the "Reynold's Style" theme, and discovering a conveniently priced copy of the DVD at lunchtime today, I'm once again in possession of one of my fondest childhood movie memories. Will it stand up to close inspection? I say it will. Prepare to be bombarded with "Breaker, breaker. 10-4 good buddy." for weeks to come :)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A journey

I walked and walked and walked until, suddenly, I ran out of suburb. At that moment, a menacing flash of lightning. Those clouds are awfully dark, aren't they? Half an hour's walk away from home. My very un-waterproof walkman in my pocket. Was I struck by lightning? Did a single drop of rain hit me on my sweaty, bald head?

Actually, no... But I did have an enjoyable 70 minute stroll along a path I'd never been on before :) I like that I can spend that long strolling (well, usually marching) with only a few minutes of that time spent in sight of a road. The edge of suburbia is a comfortable place to be.

Friday, January 27, 2006

[DVD] Dead Like Me - Season 1

A real gem that my sister discovered for me, all 14 episodes of which I devoured in a few days. All the characters have genuine depth, and the actors that bring them to life use all the many opportunities the concept provides to create people I actually cared about. I won't actually say much about the concept itself, since my favourite part of watching a new show is working out what the hell is going on, other than to say that it's a really interesting take on death, grief, life, monotonous office work and family. The emotions are often powerfully involving, the coarse language is "in context" (i.e. it sounds to me like real people talking) and Mandy Patinkin is one of the main players, so how can you go wrong?

Of course, the show has been cancelled now, like any other quality TV, but luckily not before a second season was produced, so at least I have the promise of another 15 episodes to look forward to.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


A few weeks back I was watching some stuff from the Montreux Jazz Festival that was showing on ABC2. I was amused to see the following text used to describe the lyrics:
Thank you falettinme
Be mice elf again
This repeated several times as the song faded to the end, leaving me with cheery visions of mice elf :)

The songs in my head

Because I haven't added a new link to something "My ..." for at least two weeks, I thought I'd add my new music tracking account. Basically it monitors every song that runs through Media Player and adds it to my profile, working out any others with similar tastes. Very "Big Brother", but easy to turn off if I develop a taste for The Wiggles, or something, that I'm not willing to be public about. Right now it's heavily biased towards the handful of CDs I bought yesterday, but once I return to full shuffle it should hopefully display an eclectic mix. I can also post journal entries there, although for now I'll probably keep my content on this one site.

UPDATE: I just discovered that it only displays the last 10 tracks I listened to, so the comment above won't be very relevant. But I also found that I can type in an artist name and have, automatically streamed to my PC, a radio station with artists similar to (and including) my selected artist. So, for example with Soul Coughing, I get Beck, TMBG, Weezer, Miles Davis, Ben Folds Five, Beastie Boys and others. No ads, just lots and lots of new music to discover. Awesome!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Marking time

After such an enthusiastic burst of blogging I've been waylaid by my health. For the first time in over 6 months I needed to take a couple of sick days, and probably wouldn't have worked at all the past 2 weeks if I wasn't acting Director while my boss is away. While it's good to feel needed, and to know that I can tough my illness out if needed, it's slowing down my recovery badly, and persistent headaches, nausea and fatigue can only keep going so long before the thrill is gone... Except for the 15 hours I worked last week, I spent almost 7 full days in bed (or at least reclining), dizzy and ill, but still not sleeping much. So it's felt like a reeeaaalllly long 9 days, which seems to be the perverse nature of illness (for me anyway), that it stretches out the time I can't do anything much in, while the joyful, energetic times fly by too fast.

On the positive side, I've had lots of new DVDs to distract me in my insomnia, and thankfully my headache is only worsened by moving, rather than TV. So Simpsons Season 6 (including all the commentaries and the first quarter of Season 7), the first half of Roswell Season 3, the Clerks Animated Series and Dead Like Me Season 1, have all been demolished in the past fortnight. Plus I still have the Sin City Special Edition to watch, hopefully on Thursday since I have to work tomorrow (at least in the morning). With that in mind, time to go lie down again :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

When one won't win

Blanksby pottered interminably behind the desk, muttering incomprehensibilities to himself. Ostriches, long since dead, plumed arrogantly at the wakening dawn.
  Who was he? they asked.
  Merely himself, vaguely did the docket reply.
Yet still the rumbling continued, transitory as eternal stone, endless as the ephemeral winds. Oh, how they screeched! It was delightful! No, more than delightful! It was horrible!
  Harrumph came the desk-hidden grunt of a suddenly eloquent Blanksby, I needed two...

More positives

Continuing with my aim of making this blog's subtitle totally inappropriate...

The unquestionable sign of my mood staying positive is that it survived a last-minute lunch cancellation (by a friend who doesn't have my luxury of complaining of "not enough to do!!! waah! waah!"). Plus, the sudden appearance of the "thing" at the back of my mind which I've spent the past few months worrying about, the "thing" that surely must need to be done but I can't think of, the "thing" which should be filling the huge space where busy-ness should be, but isn't. Luckily, that "thing" turned out to be merely some additional requirements for work my team has to deliver in November, and which we don't need to start on till June. Unless that's not the uncomfortable "thing" at the back of my mind at all...

And as I headed off for my bus (little realising that I was leaving air-con bliss for the burning oven of the outdoors), I found that things are moving forward with one of the promised new chunks of work, no pie in the sky promise of things to do, but something meaty enough to kick my brain into a gear other than barely idling neutral.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Good to be needed

None of the new work I mentioned in yesterday's post has started yet, but I must have been sending out "I'm ready to work" vibes today. I ended up delaying my lunch break nearly 2 hours because every time I was about to leave for the Mall someone else needed a question answered or something chased up or fixed. I'd already eaten my lunch (which is more important to me than the break itself) and so was only too eager to step in and be of value. Hooray!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

They had a good run

3 or 4 years ago I got prescription glasses (for the second time, after a 12 month stint with some, early in my Uni days). After sitting on my normal glasses once (something which was easily repaired by OPSM), I've been very careful to always put them somewhere safe from large butts. Unfortunately, my care didn't extend to noticing them dropping onto my driveway when getting out of Liv's car. In my defence, I was unlikely to sit on them there. In Liv's defence, my Mum drove over them twice as well :) I was just about get some new ones anyway, so I shed no tears... well, only a few... accompanied by cries of "Why?!? Why!?!"...

Getting off the bench

Anyone who's talked with me in the past 12 months will have heard me complain about my work "woes" - the lack of challenge, not feeling needed, being just plain bored. They've probably also heard me say things were fixed several times, only to go back to me being dissatisfied a week (or less) later. While I'm pleased with my optimism in the face of overwhelming reality, I haven't been active enough in fixing the problem. I've thought ad nauseam about options and priorities and life missions, but my actions have been small and infrequent, and lacking in conviction.

Something which I've realised in the past few days is that the source of a lot of this isn't isolated incidents of management crap which I've let disillusion me and stress me out. I've been pretty busy avoiding responsibility for my mood, my career and my general life direction. My lack of interesting work has been caused largely by the following:
  • I sidelined myself from anything too demanding when I got sick 2.5 years ago, saying No to anything not essential to my team's daily work,
  • not speaking up about my dissatisfaction,
  • my fear that my ideas about how management, teamwork, processes and IT systems can be improved will seem stupid/naive,
  • my fear of overdoing things, causing my health problems to recur.
All of these are mine to control/resolve.

On Thursday, I told my boss that I am bored and lacking challenges in my current work. I'd never previously been so blunt as to say I was bored and dissatisfied, instead relying on the mind-reading abilities of my management. As a result, my boss is chasing up a couple of specific, interesting opportunities. Then on Friday I had a discussion with another senior manager, who asked if I'd be interested in being involved in re-starting an initiative which I spearheaded 5 years ago, but which has died out due to lack of involvement from me and lack of corporate funding. So I said yes to that as well.

The steps towards a Manager Forum that I wrote about in an earlier post are part of me swallowing my fear and putting my thoughts out there for others to see, to add to, change, or laugh at (or maybe applaud :) I intend to gradually rebuild my knowledge of, and involvement in, other corporate issues. I'm actually starting to feel again that I'm in control of creating the work I want, and am regaining the confidence and courage to start doing so.

I still need to maintain a careful balance, as my health remains a concern, but I think my overwork avoidance strategies will remain in place, and my exercise regime is continuing to enhance my strength and energy.