Old Dogs and the Charge of the Gundagai Light Horse

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My mother and I in Gundagai on Sunday.

It is Wednesday and we have managed to take a bite-sized chunk out of the working week so far-but we are not halfway yet! I seem to live for Fridays. I spend my time watching the clock, counting every second until the working week reaches it’s inexorable climax at 9.51pm on Friday night. I count the days off one by one. Monday, gone, Tuesday, bye, Wednesday, well….we ain’t there yet! Another day at the “Happiness Factory” awaits. What fun.

I’m sitting here drinking coffee instead of perusing my uni work and getting started on assignments that are due in a space of time that is shrinking every second. Again, life is spent watching the clock. Waiting for the deadline. Pressure mounting. I do feel better this morning than I did yesterday. It’s hay fever season and I felt decidedly off-colour when I got out of bed on Tuesday but I feel much better today-and it’s a surprise. I did go to bed a half hour or so earlier than I usually do. I get home from work and usually waste an hour or so surfing the net and occasionally watch television in bed when I finally drag myself away from the computer screen. There are usually shows on around 11.30pm that obviously don’t appeal to those who are watching in prime time but obviously ring a bell with me. They are usually true crime shows, stuff like that. Linda rolls over and nods off immediately. She can sleep anywhere, anytime. I envy her.

The Tour of Spain cycling race is on live and I have been watching a bit of it but eschewed it last night in favour of sleep. Good move. Linda was up early and I was looking forward to be able to roll over and chop a few more Z’s when I was informed that our elderly dog who sleeps in our laundry had defecated on our kitchen floor. Not only that, she has the runs and I was appointed official cleaner by my housemates, none of whom were very keen to confront and solve the problem. So, apparently outvoted, I rolled out of bed with my muscles groaning from yesterday effort’s at work and, stuffing a hanky in my nostrils, ventured out to survey the scene. It was bad, but it could have been worse. The poor old dog also vomited when she went outside so she obviously isn’t well but we have to think about what we do with her sleeping arrangements from here on in. It’s not getting as cold at night this week-hasn’t dropped below zero at least. Perhaps rugged up in her coat she could be quite happy in her kennel down in the garage. Perhaps. Getting old is a curse. Anyway, everyone else has gone to work, the dog is asleep on the back deck, the kitchen floor is clean and the smell of disinfectant is choking my nostrils as I write. Done.

I did manage to get away to Gundagai on the weekend. A bit of a day trip with Linda and my parents on Fathers Day to Gundagai Remembers-a day out with the 7th Light Horse, Gundagai Troop. The 7th Light Horse are re-enactors who had set up a Great War style military camp complete with freshly dug trenches and a myriad of military equipment which would have been recognisable to any old Digger who had taken his six bob a day to soldier for the King from 1914 to 1918. It was a bit of fun, particularly as the Light Horse staged a bit of a skirmish with some fellows portraying Turkish and German soldiers (it’s hard to find good men who want to play the enemy!). There was to be a major battle re-enactment in the trenches later in the afternoon and as enjoyable as that may have been we were well and truly on our way home by then.

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A re-enactor in the kit of the 8th Light Horse, a regiment my grandfather actually served in between 1916 and 1919.

Gundagai and the surrounding hills were nice and green, defying the drought so it seems. There must have been a little more rain through the area than in other parts of the country and you wouldn’t know that farmers were doing it tough by the look of the luscious landscape.

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Gundagai was green-defying the drought.

So, for today, there is nothing more to look forward to than another day of graft at work. Running machines, sorting mail, unloading trucks on the forklift. Another short chapter of this strange and laborious life. New horizons await for me though and the countdown is on. Have a great day.

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Where I’ve Been, Where I Am, Where I’m Going.

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I’ve reached the halfway point of the university trimester and I’m back to haunt you all with a poignant blog post. Well, not so poignant but I felt it was time to check in with some brief remarks about where I’ve been, where I am and where I am going.

Uni hasn’t been going so well. I’ve been keeping my head above water with one unit but sinking rapidly in another. The old flaws of character that conspired to defeat any academic excellence when I was at school seem to still exist. I’ve obviously struggled this trimester and it’s more to do with focus, concentration, and enthusiasm. I’ve learnt quite a lot but really need to get myself organised over the next couple of weeks or face the ignominy of failure. On the surface, my life doesn’t appear too stressful or contain anything that might constrain me when it comes to study. But, I am a slow learner and when you get older there are considerations in regards to family time and work that really conspire against you and restrict your time. Plus, the energy levels of old simply aren’t there anymore. I just want to slump on the couch when I get home and even when I wake up in the mornings it’s hard to get physically warm. Whatever will be will be and it doesn’t worry me too much. I will march on and see where I shake out at the end of this trimester. Life will move on regardless.

I was in Brisbane for ten days for a wedding which didn’t do my studies any good. I went with good intentions to knuckle down and work but of course it didn’t end well in that regard. Who wants to do that sort of thing when you are on holidays and being a family wedding, Linda’s daughter getting hitched, it was hard to concentrate. Brisbane is a great town for anyone who hasn’t been there. It’s a little more relaxed and easy going than the big cities down south and, although it’s a metropolis, easier to get around or so it seems. We stayed at an airbnb property at Red Hill, a nice part of town close to the city, near Lang Park, the home of Queensland Rugby League for those with a sporting bent. Big house, flash, great views, but still too cold to swim in the pool despite the temperature hovering in the mid-twenties most of the time we were there. I think I could live in the inner city areas of most big Australian cities. Of course it would be expensive so is realistically beyond me but it would be a great lifestyle. Walk to work, no hassles driving through horrid peak hour traffic to get to the outer suburbs. Lovely. Of course it won’t be happening anytime soon! Haha.

I’m back at work of course and struggling. Today is the first morning I have really felt tired and I’m not looking forward to the day as I am required to drive a forklift all day, a job which I am rapidly beginning to dread. It’s all just piling on the misery and I have decided to pull the plug before the end of the year. Yes, I will be resigning my job after thirty one years and figured I better get a move on and get out of there before I turn fifty lest I be stuck there permanently. It’s just a matter of timing. I will see which way the wind is blowing at the end of September in regards to changes to our working conditions and may jump then. I can’t hold out much longer. So, anyone out there looking to employ a casual worker, short on skills, a little long on life then drop me a line.

So that’s where I am for the moment. I have uni work to do (which is overdue!) so I better get to it. Not sure when I will be back to blog again but I have not gone away. Strange Notations will survive. So will I.

I Came I Saw I…..?

 

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Hello again from an unsettled Canberra. We are due for rain today and it is unseasonably mild-something we are getting use to across the world with temperatures across Australia and the globe rising to record levels each year. There is still a body of people who seem to reject the scientific warning in regard to global warming but from a layman’s perspective there is certainly something screwy going on with the weather. I’m not one to get into arguments with conspiracy theorists or those with entrenched and extreme views but pumping huge amounts of gasses into the atmosphere every second of every day can hardly be doing the planet much good. But, hey, maybe it’s just some natural fluctuation but why take that for granted? I just hope we are not careening towards a situation where our planet is eventually uninhabitable. Things will probably remain relatively passive in my lifetime but who knows what is to come in the future? Anyway, that’s an argument for another place and another time among people far more intelligent and robust in opinion and interest than I.

So, with this sudden slide into the argument about climate change, why has a photo of a marble bust of the great Roman Consul, general and conqueror of Gaul (and Rome!!!) Julius Caesar, appeared at the top of the page? Well, I’m glad you asked. This may be my last blog post for a while as I am entering my second trimester of university, halfway I am to completing my Pathways course and I have taken a unit focusing on historians and their interpretation of history. So, why not lead in with a bust of Caesar, still a famous dude 2000 years after running foul of his enemies in the Roman senate house. It has only just occurred to me as I write that we are in fact in the month of July which Caesar of course named after himself. Only the most powerful of men have bent history to their will like him. Could Donald Trump rename a month after himself and have the name change survive 2000 years? As much as I’m sure it would appeal to his vanity it’s not going to happen is it? Besides, it would be embarrassing to be born in the month of Trump! And I think, despite his unpopularity in some quarters, President Trump is likely to survive a visit to the US Senate!

It’s probably pretty uncool in this day and age when political correctness abounds across the media and runs rampant on the internet to admire a dictator like Caesar. A man who broke the rules of his own country and launched an unprovoked invasion against an enemy with whom Rome had no quarrel simply for personal gain and to save his own political skin. But hey, it’s just history and it’s history that has repeated itself time and time again since Caesar won the great battle of Alesia, destroying a nascent Gallic culture and taking the first step to becoming dictator of Rome. Wild Gauls aren’t protesting outside the coliseum demanding reparations for damage done by Roman Legions. It’s all too long ago to worry about. But it’s still great history and important to know in discovering how we ended up where we are.

So, my uni courses start again next week and alongside my history unit is the second string of my pathways unit which, hopefully will see me qualify for an undergraduate degree next year. After a bit of a struggle with procrastination and confidence in the first trimester, I was looking forward, albeit with some apprehension, to starting again. But now my units are open I am feeling a little overwhelmed and, dare I say say it, scared of what lies ahead. I guess I am testing myself. My resolve. My ability to get it done. The history unit in particular looks daunting and I wonder if I will handle the concepts they are trying to teach. All this while working full-time! I came, I saw and, hopefully, I will conquer.

 

Rainy Days and Thursdays

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Well that made you look didn’t it?!! An attractive lady in a black bra is guaranteed to swivel a few heads. Yes, I’m being a bit cheeky. I was trying to find a free photo with a relationship to rain to capture the atmosphere of the day in Canberra today and this one came up in the search. Well, I got the rain part right, eh?

Yes, it’s raining in Canberra. Strong, soaking, solid rain. At last. It’s the first time in some months that I can remember waking up to the sound of substantial precipitation cascading off the roof and it’s always a nice thing to hear. We have had some days over the last few months that have produced a few showers for a while, enough to give the ground a bit of sustenance but nothing like this morning. That being said the cloud is now breaking up and sunlight has touched the windows and we may be clear for the rest of the day. The weather radar shows some more rain heading our way from Sydney but it is questionable if it will reach us.

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. Well, not me but it’s what Karen Carpenter, that illustrious American pop-star with the gorgeous voice sang many years ago but it’s not the way I feel. I sort of like rainy days. Maybe it’s because we don’t get many nowadays. I can remember racing pushbikes as a kid and going away every weekend and some years it rained everywhere we rode. I can remember one year riding seventeen races and I think it rained in twelve. I can’t remember a winter like that for many years now.

A noticeable sight in Canberra lately is the number of dead kangaroos on the sides of the motorways. On my drive to work up the Monaro Highway, a trip of probably 20 minutes, there are at least six dead hoppers at the moment and driving home the last few nights I have noticed roos feasting on the grass of the median strip as I turn into Tuggeranong. It shows how dry it has been when they are coming into town and getting on the roads. It’s dry in them there hills. But, they are dangerous. No sense. Wander into the traffic without a second glance. And they make a mess of a car too. I’ve often wondered if those that are killed on the roads are missed by their mob. Do they ask each other, “Where’s Bob, haven’t seen him lately? Last saw him heading for the highway……..Oh my God, Bob!” Hmm, I doubt it!

I’ve enrolled in two more units at university. I have to do a second foundations unit, part of the bridging course to get me into an undergraduate program, and a history unit, “What is History”, the first step to becoming a historian. I’m a glutton for punishment it seems. Hopefully I’ll execute my studies with a bit more panache and a little less procrastination this trimester.

As I write it’s clouding over again. Maybe we will get some more rain. Rainy days and Mondays don’t get me down but Thursdays sure do. So close yet so far to the weekend. I can smell it but I can’t touch it. Two more days of boredom to survive before the carefree days of Saturday and Sunday arrive. Hope you all can too.

Like Sand Through My Fingers

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I was checking the dates on my blog entries the other day and was amazed to find that “Strange Notations from a Laborious Life” has now existed for seven years! Yes, seven years of blogging and this is the 492nd post that I have written. Man, time flies. It really is scary. I was looking at photos from the trip Linda and I did down the Great Ocean Road a while back and was stunned to see that it is two years ago already. Time is slipping through my fingers like a wealth of fine sand.

There is a work funeral today. A former supervisor who I knew from the start of my employment nearly 31 years ago is being cremated. It’s one of those awkward things. I had a lot to do with him over the years, I mean I was only 17 years old when I started and he was one of my first direct line supervisors, but he was a fellow I never warmed to. I don’t like to denigrate someone who has passed and suffered quite a bit through illness along the way and I suppose I respected him to a point but had a number of personal differences with him in regards to his own behaviour towards the staff and his own devotion to the corporation. At times he wasn’t a particularly admirable person. That being said I know he has a family that loved him dearly and it will be a very trying and emotional day for them. I wish them the best and send my thoughts and prayers. I would feel a hypocrite going to a funeral of someone who I have said harsh words of.

Many who I work with who knew this fellow are going to the funeral and I got a few odd looks when I said I wouldn’t be attending. There are others in the same boat as me. People who didn’t like him who felt they couldn’t go and, unfortunately some harsh words have been uttered and perhaps  some hard truths have been aired.

My current supervisor visited this fellow, who retired a few years ago now, in hospital a few weeks back and was shocked at his appearance. He had been, for want of a better description, a real “man’s man” but was almost unrecognisable in his hospital bed, stricken by cancer, bloated by pain killing drugs, waiting for the inevitable end. He hadn’t wanted visitors from his past seeing him. Perhaps the visage of himself as he was near the end was not what he wanted former colleagues to see. Maybe he was just too tired to care about being nice. My current supervisor  had been to an appointment at the hospital and decided to drop in and see our stricken former workmate anyway. He seemed happy for the visit despite his earlier protestations but muttered that “life is too short”. He was only 62.

I suppose the crux of my post today is that we should try to make the best of our lives and not get too worked up about things that don’t matter or devote ourselves to causes from which we will get no thanks and only frustration and a feeling of a wasted life. This fellow had given his all to the company. A real management man and, whilst undoubtedly very good had his job, had hurt people along the way and never thought twice about it in his misguided loyalty to the company. When the leadership regime eventually changed he was marginlised and after recovering from his first bout with cancer, retired in frustration, never having been given the accolades from the business which he should have enjoyed. A salutatory lesson.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m too harsh, too cynical, too bitter. A man who was loved by his family and died a harsh enough death is being buried and I’m writing a critical opinion of him. Maybe my own mortality looms large in my consciousness as I get older. Which gets me back to my opening paragraph. Seven years of writing my blog. Originally I started it with some hope of doing a bit of professional writing to supplement my income. Of course that hasn’t happened. I’m far too lazy to devote myself to that and perhaps lack the talent. But, I wanted to leave something of myself in this world and I enjoy writing this blog although it really doesn’t amount to much. About a dozen or so views of every post on average and no great following. But I don’t care. I enjoy doing it and I seem to have got a bit of a run on again in the last week.

So, 492 posts and counting. I deleted my old blogger site this morning. It was dormant, having not been used since I moved to WordPress three years ago but all of it’s posts are archived here for all to see if you feel inclined. It was wracked by spam and really of no use but it was sad to let it go. That’s the way of life I suppose.

I face another day of work and the same old same old but, in the shadow of the funeral of an old colleague I feel positive as I settle into this last half of my life. And “Strange Notations from a Laborious Life” will continue. I hope you are all looking forward positively too.

The Football Conundrum

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Anyone been watching the World Cup? I’m not a great fan of the game. In fact I’m not a fan at all. I’ve often seen soccer (er…sorry…football) on television and wondered at it’s appeal. Now don’t get me wrong, I respect the game and the position it holds as the pre-eminent sporting pursuit in the world but I’m afraid as a spectacle it leaves me cold. Hey, that’s just me. I prefer a bit more gravel in my sport. I’ve tried watching it….bunkered down in bed late at night watching replays of the English Premier League but I’m afraid five minutes of kick to kick and I’m reaching for the remote. Sorry guys. I’m just not into soccer (sorry, football).

It’s a pity as I really like the idea of the World Cup. A real World Cup. Last night Sweden played South Korea and a few nights ago Serbia played Costa Rica. And that’s just a few of the unusual match ups you see on this colossal sporting stage. Iceland, Panama…just a few more national football teams that you won’t regularly see on television anywhere much. It’s a global celebration. But…I haven’t seen any of it.

Respected cycling commentator Matthew Keenan made the claim on Twitter the other night that the Socceroos (the cringe inducing nickname for our national team) was the country’s most important sporting outfit. I initially bristled at the thought as many non-soccer fans probably did. More important than our cricket team?! Phooey! Surely not but to some extent, after I had thought about it I concluded that he was probably right. On the international stage at least. He was pointing towards the fact that the team is very multicultural, not something that I enjoy seeing raised. All these boys are Australians and pretty proud ones from the interviews I’ve seen with them. Who cares where their parents came from? I do agree though that the Australia versus France game was probably a bigger advertisement for Australia than anything else we can put together. Our name, culture, image, mixed with the collage of sporting prestige that accompanies such an event, showcased in a match against one of the best football teams in the world. You can’t buy that sort of publicity. And, despite a 2-1 loss the boys played well…so I was told! But do Australians really care?

I saw a poll on the channel nine website this morning asking how interested people were in watching the world cup. Of course a channel nine poll is hardly scientific and I wouldn’t be basing serious research into the popularity of the game here on anything it reveals but it was notable that 60 percent of respondents stated they have no interest in watching this glorious sporting extravaganza. And I can believe it.

It really hasn’t caught on this time. Yes there is some hype and Australian fans ensconced in Kazan, Russia, the Socceroos base for the tournament have apparently drunk the town dry much to the delight of the proprietors of the local public houses. But there is not much excitement in the streets. The Geelong versus Richmond AFL game last Sunday afternoon seemed to garner more hysteria and the build up is beginning for the next Rugby League State of Origin match and even the beleaguered and maligned  Australian cricket team is receiving it’s share of publicity as it stumbles through another series of defeats in a pointless One Day series in England. It must make soccer (football!) authorities in Australia bemused or frustrated or both. The game has never really caught on here.

One would think Australia would be a hotbed for association football. A nation founded as a British colony that eventually embraced and lionised  great British sports such as cricket, Rugby League and Rugby Union. Yet soccer really got left behind and that is puzzling. The game of Australian Rules football, our own native game eventually rose to be the king of the pack yet soccer, despite generations of immigration from countries that adore the game can barely make inroads on the national sporting scene despite some latent popularity.

Soccer fans in Australia often seem puzzled at this lack of traction and indeed it is remarkable. The “World Game” as they like to call it here bristles in it’s inconsequential status,  in perpetual bewilderment that the fire the game lights around the world seems to be smothered by retardant Downunder. I have no answers.

Australia has a middling population and a cut throat attitude to getting eyeballs on screen when it comes to sport. Perhaps soccer has missed the boat. Perhaps it’s adherents are happy watching midnight screenings of the Champions League and the game in this country can go to hell. Soccer is up against it in Australia. The local league has heavy competition from very good products and the cultural milleau seems set in regard to sport. Perhaps one day we will see the Socceroos do more than just make up the numbers at a world cup and actually contend. Perhaps then we will see football become more than just a passing interest to the 60 percent of Australians who can’t be bothered watching. Maybe I could watch more than five minutes of the game. Maybe.

Good luck to the Socceroos as they continue their odyssey in Russia.

Ballad of the Lonesome Mailman

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Boy, I’m tired. That isn’t me in the photo at the top of the page but it could be. I’m working hard. Only eight hour days a day, nothing like some of the more proactive members of our community but work, at least the section I prowl each day, is busier than ever. Bending over into bins and trying hard leaves me exhausted and sore the next day. I work in the postal industry and I have a good little job sorting what are called “small parcels”. Small parcels, as opposed to large parcels, are packages that are small enough for  a postman to deliver as opposed to a contractor delivering larger fare although there is a blurry line between the two. Consequently, the parcel centre down the road from us sends us plenty of what I believe should be considered “large” but we sort it anyway. I have always figured that if they don’t want to get the credit for it then I am happy to take it. Getting parcels that are larger than average must drive the posties crazy.

Of course at the end of the day it’s a cost saving measure. The more parcels you can shove off to a postie means less you have to pay a contractor. I imagine the people at the parcel centre have been told to send as much as they can down to us. Unfortunately it means that life gets more hectic in my little cockpit.

I have made the job my own and I don’t think anyone minds that. My once numerically mighty shift which starts at 2pm has been whittled down to just five mail officers yet we still run on a very slight job roster although it is thinning still. Small parcels is still our responsibility at this time of the day and as it is seen as a hard job no one from later shifts is putting their hand up to do it. I like it.

The real catcher for me in sorting small parcels is that I do it by myself. I am not trying to blow my own trumpet but they tell me when I am not there that three people often have to be placed in the section to complete it. I think it has more to do with the fact that others aren’t as experienced as me rather than any special ability on my part but I do try to get it done quickly. I like to work alone. That’s why I go hard.

Company is great of course but I am use to doing things my own way and on the occasions I do need help my companions invariably are not as quick or need to ask questions or, God forbid, do things without asking me! Haha.

I have been in this job for 31 years (not doing the same duties that whole time mind you) and I used to laugh at the old timers who would covet the positions they had made their own, Priority Paid, as our express service used to be called, Airmail and other sections which, although on a job roster had quickly become specialised as those who were marked for duty that week but didn’t like it swapped off with people who did and regularly performed those required duties becoming experts. These people of course had their own methods and if you did something different when helping them out than how they did you were soon told and sent to Coventry. It was with sudden alacrity some time ago that I realised that long years with the corporation and my recent specialisation in this single job had caused me to morph into one of those I use to snigger at!

I do think the time is coming that the section will need another hand. It is busier than ever, work streams in from about 4.30pm and Mondays and Tuesdays after a public holiday are killers. The mail use to ease off as the week progressed and by Friday it use to be that you could have an easy day but no more. Whilst the product certainly still diminishes as the week progresses there is still much more of it. No rest for the wicked so it seems.

All this is on top of running a Bar Code Sorting machine for two hours at the start of the shift and often being required to drive a forklift  to unload a big truck from Sydney which may arrive anytime between 3 and 4pm. It’s work I dread but can’t dodge.

So, I’m tired. I think it’s a combination of increased workload and of course, advancing age. I’m still pretty healthy but of course you don’t bounce back as well nearing fifty as you did twenty years ago. Late nights and poor sleeping habits sure don’t help. It seems all the television shows I like to watch don’t start until after 11.30pm! I really have to force myself to turn off the television sometimes.

That’s me and my work life-for the moment. Change is in the air at though. Whispers of timetable variations and redundancies blow through the work floor but until something concrete happens such rumors are just a nuisance.  I guess I can do nothing but continue on for the present. My days of sorting small parcels by myself are numbered. But I’m just waiting to see which way the axe falls first.

Have a nice day.

Computer Life in the Modern World

 

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Computers! The world doesn’t operate nowadays without them. Are they man’s greatest invention? Perhaps. They have certainly taken over every aspect of our lives. They have affected everyone on the planet. There is no escape. Resistance is futile.

I went on a major overseas trip five years ago. Booked everything on the internet and for the entire six weeks I was away there was not one glitch. Everything had locked and loaded long before I stepped out of my house on the first step of my journey and was signed, sealed and delivered when I arrived on the other side of the world. No glitches. No worries. Everything ran like a Swiss watch (one of which I bought in Lucerne!).

Of course this reliance on technology has an occasional disadvantage. When a system crashes it can cause a world of hurt to those relying on them. A case in point is the airline industry. In recent times we have seen computer outages in booking systems causing horrid delays, sometimes for days at local airports and our own local Telcos are not immune from breakdown causing Average Joe public to growl and groan and weep with hysteria because they are no longer able to text, chat on Facebook or tweet or Instagram what they are having for lunch. And hey, that’s not a criticism of social media. It’s a worry about how heavily invested our lives are with technology. I have wondered from time to time how locals would react when confronted with a real crisis. Losing a couple of hours of internet or phone access is hardly the end of the world. But it does make you wonder how vulnerable we are if we ever faced a world wide catastrophe which wiped out our ability to communicate and operate with our vast array of technologies.

Humans are notoriously resilient. We wouldn’t have survived on this bog heap for as long as we have without being able to take a punch or two. Maybe we haven’t faced anything as disastrous as the asteroid which killed the dinosaurs (but we are due for another!) and we haven’t quite managed to blast ourselves into oblivion with nuclear weapons-yet! But a total breakdown of the world’s computer systems would certainly test our mettle.

I have in the last week or so had my own technological disaster. Our desktop computer broke down and along with it much of  Linda’s and my life and plans! Airline tickets, holiday invoices, medical and tax records, flushed down the that big virtual hole in the ground (or deposited into that big cloud in the sky?) For a day or two I sat perplexed, not knowing what to do. I knew I had to do something but just who to call to get this sorted was a perplexing dilemma. There is a bewildering maze of advertisements for computer repair technicians and who is worthwhile and who is worthless is beyond my modest senses to discern. I did have someone out a year or so ago when we had a serious problem and I was on the verge of getting that particular operator out again when my step-daughter, an extremely capable young lady passed on a number to Linda of a fellow who services the computers where she works.

Within a day  our new computer repair man was around to look at our woebegone machine. And it wasn’t good. The way he talked you would think it had been knocked out by a space laser! He gradually came to the conclusion that all was not lost before dropping into a technological burst of language that I felt  the space engineers at Nasa may struggle to comprehend. Now, I’m not a complete dunce but this was one of those moments when you feel completely mentally helpless and hope that the person you are talking to doesn’t catch on to the fact that you are a fraud with no idea of what he is talking about. “Yes”, “uh huh”, “I see”, I muttered all the while trying not to appear like the original dead end kid. I just wanted him to fix it, not give a lesson in computer engineering!

Dave, as my erstwhile friend was known, soon decided a house call was not going to be enough to repair the machine and to his credit decided taking the stricken machine back to his workshop to diagnose it’s problems was easier for him and better for my pocket. I tried to look suitably concerned and project a look of appropriate understanding as he announced he would have to rebuild my Dell computer from the ground up.

Phew. That was painless, I thought to myself as Dave drove off. He’ll be back in a day or two, the machine will be fixed and normal service will be resumed. Of course it’s never that easy is it? Later that day Dave called. He had found some sort of exotic virus and it was going to take a bit to fix it. He was hoping he could find our data which had gone missing. Did I have the password to this? Do I have the product key to that? Is your email system Outlook? (I did know that!) Again he dropped into his computer lingo totally paralysing my already stressed out mental resources but, lucky for me, he needed answers to a couple of questions that only Linda could answer. I duly called my lovely partner and told her the computer man needed to speak to her.

Linda is a very intelligent operator but, like me, this technological jargon is a distraction and she just wants the damn thing back and working! But, she is very polite and quite inquisitive and doesn’t mind asking the hard questions even if she isn’t quite sure of herself in such situations. She and Dave soon seemed to have us on the right track.

It was a public holiday weekend here in Canberra, celebrating the birthday of our glorious Queen, Elizabeth II. But there is no rest for the wicked and Dave continued to keep us informed of his progress throughout the weekend, supervising an operation far more intense and complicated than the rescue of Apollo 13 from near extinction. On and on, Linda battling with an Optus call centre trying to get a password for her computer program, both of us shrugging our shoulders as we struggled to understand Dave’s messages and instructions being relayed to us vis text message. Finally as day gave way to night and the last vestiges of our public holiday slipped into oblivion, everything finally seemed to be in order. Linda has her password, Dave seems ready to re-enter the atmosphere with our machine intact and hopefully by this time tomorrow night we will have our virtual life back. Phew! What a trial. But it does emphasise how much in the thrall of computers we are and how we really can’t do without them nowadays. And of course most of us don’t want to be without them.

So, as I wind down and finish my blog post on my laptop, I am pondering the way that computer technology has creeped into and taken over our lives. Are there people who survive without it? Yes, but fewer and fewer by the day.  Industries, including the one I am employed by are dying at the hand of the internet. For all the great advantages it has offered mankind it has certainly given us a few headaches to. But there is no going back. The computer age is upon us. We embrace it. We have no other choice.

Work, Cycling,University-and Other Strange Notations

 

blue clouds color danger

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A lonely wind is rattling the blinds of the house and as I gaze out of my kitchen window and look upon the majestic Brindabella mountains standing guard over Tuggeranong I see the billowing clouds and misty rain descending like the sails of a Man O War on our town. That lengthy opening line wasn’t quite as poetic as I hoped it would be but the words don’t roll off the keyboard with as much enchantment as they use to. Fact is the day is bleak and it mirrors my mood for the day as I bide time and chew up minutes before I start work this afternoon. Apart from a few drops about a half an hour ago the rain hasn’t come in at all-and we sure could use it. I cannot remember the last period of decent, prolonged rain we had. The plight of the local fauna, kangaroos laying dead on the side of our parkways and byways, is a testament to how dry it has been as they come down from the hills and in from the parks to try to find forage further inside the city. Poor blighters.

I’m tired and sore-from work mostly but I have been sitting up past midnight watching the Criterium du Dauphine (a one week professional road cycling race) from France each night this week which surely hasn’t helped. I was lucky to see the finish last night as I nodded off several times inside the last ten kilometres. Perhaps it’s Matt Keenan’s considered tone putting me to sleep (just joking, Matt is an excellent and knowledgeable commentator) but Team Sky dominating the race as they did last night, and as they usually do, certainly doesn’t excite me to the point where I am jumping out of my skin as I watch. I find them, and their erstwhile team leader who isn’t actually racing this particular event, to be a bit of a blight on the sport but it’s a controversial opinion to be sure and there are plenty who disagree with me.

I’ve finished university for the Trimester. I am still contemplating the fact that I am a university student; it seems quite surreal yet I have completed a unit of archaeology and have stitched up a unit of a foundations course which I hope will get me into a degree program.  I went okay but I need to improve. Procrastination is a lifelong trait which impacted on my study and a lack of commitment to getting it 100% right will cost me marks on my foundation unit essay but I should scrape through that with a pass. I’ve learnt a lot about academic writing although referencing is a killer which I am yet to master and I do marvel at the intelligent people who preside over these courses, lecturers and teachers who have acquired so much knowledge. I can’t remember what I did yesterday! Much of the foundations course was focussed on critical thinking, something which I try to do often but had never really thought about as a method when interpreting information gained in this interconnected world we now live in. Of course everyone is different and character and temperament find different levels and outlooks in many of us and many people can look at the same thing and talk about it and think about it in different ways. Sometimes you wonder if we are all looking at the same thing!

I do wonder though when seeing many politicians on television talking about the latest relevant issues about how critical thinking is applied. Many of them, and this applies to both ends of the political spectrum, seem to not be able to see the forest for the trees and tightly held belief systems impact on opinion and cannot be prised away from their often belligerent holders with a jack hammer and crowbar. No wonder the average Joe in the street doesn’t know what is going on half the time. It’s why we get populist politicians. Knowledge is power. You don’t need to get a university education to have balanced and relevant point of view on issues facing us today. Just read a few books, get a grasp of an argument. Don’t necessarily believe what is written. Get a second opinion. Have an open mind and admit you might be wrong and be prepared to change your mind. Of course, I don’t think this is going to stop conflict and have a huge impact. Human kind being what it is will always be belligerent and disagreeable. Boy, I didn’t mean to get so deep and meaningful in this post. See what going to university does to a person!

For me now, all that is left for today is an eight hour slog through the mire of my work day. I’ve been unloading trucks on the forklift an hour a day and some might think that it’s a nice break from the drudgery but truth be known it’s just another chore that I could do without. It’s not necessarily difficult work, just exacting and you have to concentrate. Who wants to end up with a load of product on the floor?! But, as is the way with our organisation, nothing is particularly well organised. We are using more gas for our forklifts as we are doing more work on them and we seem to be churning through the bottles like there is no tomorrow. The gauges don’t work and you are never sure if you are about to run out of gas until the machine gives a bit of a chug and starts to hip and hop like the latest rap star. I went to exchange a bottle yesterday after my forklift gave up the ghost only to find a line of empty bottles (I could only tell they were empty by lifting them) barring my way and it was a little bit of an effort to find a full one. I should have known better but the bottle I took was right at the back of the cage and looked like it had been there for years. Caked in dust and looking worse for wear I carried it back to the forklift only to find the connections to the machine didn’t work. There is efficiency for you. The bottle must have been sitting in the back of the cage for years and never been used and is now disabled and worthless. Every day I find another thing to dislike about the job and after 31 years I think it’s time to take in some new horizons. But more on that later in the year.

So, be well and go softly. I’ve decided that life is too short to do things that bore you. It’s been nice to blog again after a few weeks of nothing but work and study and I hope to be back again soon. Take care.

Days, Months and Years

clouds way direction seat belts

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Well. Here we go again. It’s been a quite a while since I updated my blog and I thought I would check in and write a note just to keep the old rag’s heartbeat ticking over. I haven’t got much to say. It’s the same old thing, work, university, life in general happening without much in the way of direction from me. Most people are in the same boat I imagine. Life rolls on. The seconds tick away turning into minutes, hours, days, years without us giving it much thought. Then suddenly, I’ve found myself landing in my middle age with a thud! As a famous Australian larrikin once supposedly said (just before the trap door swung open!), “Such is life”.

I’ve been hot and cold with my Uni study. It’s going okay but I find it hard to get motivated. I’m almost through my first trimester. I’ve been doing two units, one of which I’ve been going reasonably well with whilst I’ve been struggling a bit with the other. I received 55% on my first attempt at an essay in 30 years which brought me down to earth a little but have since found out it’s not  a bad result for a first up crack at Uni. It’s a pass and that’s the main thing. All part of the learning process I suppose but it is quite humbling. Academic writing runs to a system and it’s a bit hard to get used to-at least for this middle aged brain!

I am a little concerned at a couple of quizzes coming up in my archaeology unit. Information retention is not my strong suit. They are open book tests, one on what has been studied in the last few weeks then a final quiz on information we have learned across the whole unit but they are timed. Will have to cram for those. I’m open to any tips from current or former university students on what the best form of study is for these sorts of things. It would be a shame to get this far in now and trip over.

Another birthday is looming. I keep getting asked if I am 50 yet!! I have hoped that most may pick me as mid forties but we can’t hold back the clock forever. But 50? I’ve got a couple of years to go yet! As I’ve gotten older the less important birthday’s have become. Maybe most are like that. I’ll wake up on Monday week and the world will have turned as normal and there will be no bells and whistles. Just another day but it’s nice to have your birthday acknowledged.

So, that’s about all. I don’t think there is much on the television, apart from the Royal Wedding if you are into that sort of thing. Many aren’t but hey, if you are one of those don’t spoil it for others. You may not be enthralled by the pomp and ceremony and wonder at the relevance of royalty in the 21st century but not everyone thinks like that. Let those who like it have their day. It’s no skin off my nose.

Anyway, I’ll keep battling along as I hope you all will. I hope to be back again soon with something more insightful to say but between work, study and other commitments I find it hard to blog. But, I shall return. Have a nice evening.