Rainy Days and Thursdays

woman in black bra holding big leaf

Photo by Ric Rodrigues on Pexels.com

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.

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Like Sand Through My Fingers

alphabet arts and crafts blog conceptual

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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.

Ballad of the Lonesome Mailman

high angle view of lying down on grass

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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

 

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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.

The Blink of an Eye

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Blink and you miss it. In an instant it was gone. Nod off for a moment and you wonder how the hell you ended up waking up on Monday morning again. The weekend flies by in a flash and all of a sudden I am staring another week at the “Happiness Factory” right in eye again. And I broke my self imposed rule on Saturday of not sleeping in, only rising at 10am. I figure the more you sleep the more you miss and half the day is over by the time you arise. I hate losing time on weekends. However, I couldn’t help it. I was smashed from the previous night at work having hit the wall in the evening and I only just managed to scrape through to the magic minute of 9.46pm-home time!

Boy I’ve had enough of it. Work that is. Diving into the whirlpool again this week leaves me with an early Monday feeling of dread. It’s not so bad once I’m there and working although things are worse than ever in so far as the running of the place goes. And diving ever deeper. I have even more on my plate now unloading a truck from Sydney every afternoon because I’m the only forklift driver available, other than my supervisor.  Transport are supposed to provide someone to help but it has mysteriously not been available this last week-even after they made a song and dance about me going to my break instead of helping when this new run started two months ago. The hypocrisy makes me mutter then laugh. There is nothing else for it. But wait-maybe there is!

I’m going to jump ship. Well, not exactly jump ship but walk the plank and leap into the ocean of my own accord. My days of mail sorting are numbered and I’m counting down the days. Yeah I know, it’s a steady job, I’m getting older, I have no transferable skills…..blah, blah, blah. But if I don’t shake a groove and take a chance now I never will and the thought of rotting in that place for another 20 years is an unbearable load to carry. I have an iron or two in the fire. I’m not walking into the dark without a light. But I’ve made the big decision and hopefully by late this year will have activated the eject button. Scary times but exciting.

I’ve been studying. Doing a Foundations course and an archaeology unit online at the University of New England. It’s fair to say I’ve struggled. Time management was never a skill I mastered and procrastination is something I’ve made into a personal art form. I also have remembered all the reasons I failed Year 10! Not having the gift of a good memory and a penchant for making the same mistake more than once hasn’t helped. I’ve made it to the first academic break for the year and I’m not sure how I’ve gone with my latest assignments. I’m hoping to scrape through and have a better run in this next part of the trimester. All part of the program of improving myself.

So that’s it for me and my life for the moment. Moving on, planning, hoping, just like everyone else. An eye on the future and kicking the clutch in and hoping I can move forward. It’s still a great life.

Be Careful What You Wish For-You Might Just Get It!

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The Boardwalk Merimbula

Who’s idea was this? Silly me, several months ago, mentioned to Linda that I would like to do a degree in ancient history. Just one of those throw away lines, a thought bubble which careened over the precipice of my mind and swept, without control into my throat and enunciated itself without the usual safety guards which usually emanate from the brain and thankfully grow stronger as you get older, kicking in. Thus, the thought was out there and Linda, like the household knights who acted on behalf of Henry II who bemoaned to himself that no one would rid him of this meddlesome priest-the Archbishop of Canterbury in his case-took it upon herself to enroll me at the University of New England, her old Alma Mater in Armidale. Thus I have found myself an online student at 47. And isn’t it fun. Not!

I’m enrolled in a Foundations course and a unit in Archaeology(!). The Foundations course is a bridging unit designed to give those without the academic qualifications to attend university a pathway into a degree. The archaeology unit is simply one of the elective units you have to do alongside the bridging unit. It was more appealing than some of the other courses of study on offer. To paraphrase Gregory Peck in the “Guns of Navarone”; I’m in it now, up to my neck!

Linda, an ex-teacher has always been sure that once I started I would enjoy learning but I have to say a week in and all the anxieties which bedeviled me as a teenager at school are manifesting yet again in this aged version of myself. A lack of interest and motivation and a wandering mind are the most potent disabilities which seen to impede me. Just like Year 10 all over again!

I really think some people just aren’t cut out for academic learning. I like reading, writing and historical texts but trying to master the techniques of writing an academic essay really does leave me cold. I can’t say I hate it yet but I have to sit down and read some compulsory papers this afternoon and that may really stretch my patience quota and interest level.

Never fear! I will push on. There is only one way to improve myself and find a way out of the employment quagmire in which I find myself engulfed. Study. Education. Linda is sure that once I get into subjects I really find interesting then I will find myself to be more enthusiastic. Unfortunately I have to get through these qualifying rounds first.

My saving grace at the moment is that I am in the first week of a five week period of leave. I can be a little more casual with study-as long as I get it done!

So, time to get away from writing a pointless blog post and into some more serious academic stuff. Time to remember why I sort mail for a living. Only one way to move forward. Study time-here I come!

Where Have All the Matthew’s Gone?!

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Port Macquarie NSW

I see a list of most popular baby names in Australia for 2017 has been published and it may be of passing interest to some to know that Oliver and Charlotte are the two most fancied for boys and girls respectively.

There does seem to be a throwback to earlier times with William, James and Thomas featuring prominently for the lads and Amelia, Olivia and Grace popping into the top ten in the pink.

Henry at 13 and Harry at 28, Charles at 77, George at 38 and Edward at 48 also make the list showing the continuing royal influence in Australian cultural life. Fletcher and Christian also appear at 91 and 89 respectively although I can’t be sure if many parents are familiar with the main protagonist in the saga of the Mutiny on the Bounty.

Peter’s, John’s and Andrew’s seem to have gone by the bye replaced by much more exotic sounding monikers such as Arlo (52), Beau (70) and Chase (73). Muhammed graces the list at number 80, seemingly the only non-anglo name present. I’m glad I was born in 1970!

Notable for the girls are Ruby (17), Milla (34) and Aaliyah (88) with some old favorites such as Victoria (86) and Florence (97) just managing to scrape in.

But where have all the Matthew’s gone? What’s wrong with us? Matthew’s once ruled the world! Yes, my own name once dominated these lists finishing first or second for many a year and although I prefer the shortened version and have never really had a particular fondness for the name it was nice to be on top of the heap.

One used to run into Matthew’s everywhere and I suppose one still can if mixing in a certain demographic but just hold your horses. Matthew appears to have finished 69th. Respectable I guess but it seems the halcyon days of the Matty’s are gone. Welcome to the future and say G’Day to Ethan (7), Leo (18) and Hudson (23). Tip your hat to Levi (27), Oscar (26) and Carter (75). Please hold the door for Evie (11), Ivy (20) and Ellie (42) and make way for Maddison (26),  Addison (62) and Savannah (41).

I suppose it could be worse. Matthew could have gone the way Clarence or Horace, names which are never used anymore. We are still in there fighting. This is a call to arms to all Matthews. Let’s make something of ourselves. Let’s push those barriers and aim for the top ten once more and put ourselves back where we belong. Our challenge, our mission for 2018.

Bring back the Matt!

Being the Grinch and Strange Christmas Notations.

P1080949

Thunderbolt Rock, Uralla NSW

Oh boy! The last week at work before Christmas and I would rather be dragged along a gravel road by a team of pack horses than attend these last few days at the “happiness factory”. Everything intensifies this close to Christmas. The work keeps coming like water off a rocky outcrop, personalities intensify and conflict is never far from the surface. Irritants that one usually lets fly through to the keeper become a bugbear, like a prickle in your undershirt and alas, being Wednesday, it’s a case of being so near yet so far. Still three days to go!

Things may improve today-a little. Average folk realize their mail has little chance of reaching it’s destination if posted so late and most have gotten in early. We will probably still have the authorities patrolling-that is those who are in charge who like to hang around and direct traffic when all others concerned would rather they just stay in their offices. They really are a nuisance on the floor. Especially when their practical experience is nought.

So, three days to the break and I can only hope it is smooth sailing. I have been partnered for the Christmas period with a rather unpleasant fellow who I normally wouldn’t volunteer to work with in a pink fit. He is however better than nothing despite wanting to do things his own way and dispatch the mail earlier than we should-among other annoyances-and I will survive the experience.

I could ramble forever about the inadequacies of the staff and management and the inefficiencies which dog our performance but I made a promise to myself a couple of years ago to refrain from such criticism so will leave my complaints there before I get myself into bother. Suffice to say many of us are not happy campers and look out from our cloistered workplace at the outside world like bugs trapped in a beer bottle, hoping and praying that one day we will climb that slippery surface and slither through the shining hole that leads to the light.

Anyway, I do not want to be the “Grinch That Stole Christmas” and drag everyone down and destroy the happiest day of the year for others. I wish you all the best.

I have however made a few positives steps in my life. I applied to University and will be starting a course in March next year. It’s a bridging course which will enable me to further my studies in the years which follow plus a course in Archaeology which should be interesting-if I can keep my motivation from waning.

So, all in all, 2018 is looking like a new start or at least the first step on a new path. Work should also be downsizing next year and I am hoping (praying) that I receive a redundancy package. Nothing like a complete break to get you motivated to find work elsewhere!

I will leave you with happy cheer from me. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all and may it be safe and you be well.  And remember, like I described my current predicament earlier, this time of year can be frustrating. Family can grate and friends can be annoying. But it is Christmas time. Time to relax and enjoy and be thankful for what we have. Take care, be safe and have fun.

Roll on 2018.