The End of “Strange Notations”?

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Into the sunset for “Strange Notations”?

It’s been a long time between drinks. I haven’t written a blog post for nearly two months and so much has happened in that time that life has been a blur. I’ve been on leave for five weeks, been back at work a month and have had plenty on my plate to ponder.

I once heard it said (in fact I read it on the internet!) that all blogs eventually die and for some time I have been fearful that “Strange Notations from a Laborious Life” is in a death spiral of it’s own with posts dropping off in regularity and my enthusiasm for writing waning-all things I’m sure which contribute to the death of other blogs.

So, is “Strange Notations” heading off into the sunset? Will this be the last you hear from this earnest blogger? The truth is-I don’t know. For five years I have wanted to put my personal story forward to whoever might want to read it. I wanted to leave a small mark on the world, just so there was a piece of me left floating around when I am long gone. I think I have achieved that and I am quite proud of some of the content I have written on this site. I hope a few people somewhere got something out of it occasionally. But I have been wondering-is it time for a change? A freshen up? A new beginning (I’m starting to sound like George Lucas writing the preamble for Star wars!)?

I was thinking of starting a new blog with more specific content, a narrower reach and perhaps a larger audience. Although it would be a shame to kill off “Strange Notations” the truth is that nothing lasts forever and to grow and broaden our horizons we sometimes have to move on and leave behind the labours of our love.

I was thinking I may do some freelance writing and concentrate on producing more short stories. Something new, something different. Should I leave this blog behind to wither and die? You tell me. I am open to suggestions and welcome comments from anyone interested enough to make one.

The truth is I may soon have plenty of time on my hands with which to write. I can’t go into specifics at this stage as I am not sure of them yet myself but my life, one way or another is about to get a big shakeup. It’s an exciting but nervous time for me as I move forward. Every now and then an opportunity arises to improve yourself and that opportunity is looming for me now. I won’t make a mistake this time.

So, it may not be the last you hear from me. Or maybe it will be. I’ll keep battling ahead with laborious life and try to make the most of it. I hope you all do too!

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Strange Notations and Ruminations

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Milford Track, 2009. Looking out from under a long felled tree trunk I look as though I am wondering where to go or what to do next. Of course it is very much a posed photo and I knew exactly where I was, or, I hoped the guides from Ultimate Hikes Adventures  knew where we were! I found this photo today on Facebook, in the “On This Day” section that has suddenly popped up on my Timeline. It’s a metaphor for my life today as I look out from the safety of my cozy world towards the future and wonder what it will bring.

If you read my last post you may recall me mentioning I had applied for another job. Unfortunately I didn’t get it; not that I was judged on lack of perceived qualification or ability. I didn’t fill out the application form properly!! Doh! Rookie error! I was momentarily crushed and all the hope I had of swanning into the Production Manager’s office at work, swagger in my step, hoping to gaily and disingenuously  sing my regrets at having to leave the employ of his fine company, putrefied into the sprawling morass of unfulfilled promise which I seem to have been flailing in for much of my life.

No matter. The other mob didn’t deserve me! The thought of another twenty of so years in my current job did momentarily fill me with dread and a sense of foreboding. I felt suffocated and trapped, like a flailing man being dragged out to sea by a rip in the ocean, all hope abandoned, a life of tedium and the company of knaves all I could look forward to at work. However, I am nothing if not resilient nowadays and I have bounced back, ready to face the world once more on this dank and dark Monday.

I should have started perusing the job adds for something else I could do but given the disappointment of my previous failed attempt to find different work I felt something more creative to be appropriate. So I did an Australian Writers Centre course on “How to Get More Blog Readers”! It was a two hour online course with plenty of info, some of which I probably needed a teacher to explain properly but here I am today, reinvigorated, trying to get my Blog out there and recognised.

I will look at the employment pages again soon. There will be something of note to come up which will tickle my fancy I’m sure. I can at least relax now on my impending holidays without worrying about whether I would be required for a job interview or even if I was expected to start work elsewhere. Perhaps it’s time to write a book, a memoir of sorts. “The Secret Lives of Postal Workers” is what it would be called. Boy, do I have some fodder for that tome! Something to think about.

So, life goes on in with the same gentle cadence as always for me. Slow and steady, laborious yet sometimes fruitful. I hope you enjoyed this strange little notation.

Until next time, keep on smiling.

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Ambition versus Ability

It’s been a while-19 days in fact so WordPress tells me- since my last post. My Blog certainly isn’t being treated with the love today with which I used to give it. And I don’t know why.

My head is always full of things to write about but just lately I haven’t been able to shape it into any sort of coherent form and put it down on the screen. I need to find my Blogging mojo again!

Time is a factor of course. I don’t have that many commitments, or so it seems but sand always slips quickly through the hour glass and  the least important thing in my life is writing and I feel indulgent when I do it, thus, it is the first thing to get chopped when more pressing concerns arise.

Work has been heavy too. I’m sitting here with sore elbows and an aching shoulder from the load I have carried over the last couple of weeks. I seem to be working harder than I ever have before-or maybe I’m just getting older and can’t take it like I use to?

I’m not happy with my WordPress platform either. I think for an amateur Blogger such as myself it is a little too pretentious and I wonder if I should transfer my content back to my old Blogger site which is still up? Decisions, decisions.  I had grand visions of being a renowned commentator with followers of my Blog hanging on my every word but I have decided writing is just a selfish pastime for me, an indulgence wrapped up in a little bit of vanity which gets in the way of more pressing issues and should really only be a hobby. Indecisiveness grips me yet again.

I have been living quite the sedentary life lately, work aside which has been very physical but I always like to have a goal to work to in regards to my health and fitness; a hiking trip for example and with this in mind I signed up for the Cadel Evans People’s Ride which is scheduled for the last weekend in January next year in Geelong. I’m not sure what I was thinking at the time I did this as the ride is broken up into a 60km event and a 111km event and you must pick a group with which you ride. The groups are split up in accordance with the average speed you think you will

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My bike-under a tarp-looking for some love.

ride at and, forgetting that I haven’t ridden for 18 months, I signed up for the 25km/h to 35km/h group. I also chose the 111km ride(!).

It only dawned on me the other day that 111km is quite significant for a fellow who hasn’t ridden that far in over 10 years. I think I forgot I am 46 years old now not 26 and some training and commitment will be required. I wonder if I can get my money back?

Complicating matters is the fact I will have to book accommodation in Geelong too which may not be easy considering the Great Ocean Road Race of which the People’s ride is a component is on as well. I just can’t decide on the Friday that I am not fit enough and give it the flick. It’s a commitment.

Hhmm. Four months to get fit. Magpies to dodge during the spring and a busy life to manage as well. Other people seem to be able to do it, why not me? At the very least it may give me some grist for the mill for this Blog and you can laugh at me or cry with me as I struggle to avoid making a fool myself next January. I will keep you updated.

Have a nice day.

The Bland Blogger and the Anonymous Photo

Anyone like to hazard a guess as to where this photo was taken? The only clue I will give is that it was a morning shot from January this Melbourne 2016 132year. I am not in the ACT. I will reveal all at the
bottom of the page but see how you go.

Why am I being so cloak and dagger? Well, my last blog post received a grand total of three hits. That’s right. Three! I know I am not the most exciting person in the world (the blog is called Strange Notations from a Laborious Life afterall!) but I thought a few more people may have taken a couple of minutes to struggle through my short tome. No matter. I thought I would try an experiment instead this time.

I read a book a couple of years ago about blogging and while most of the content slips my mind one berry of information which stuck was that blog posts with photos get more hits. And so here we go. My best ever post on WordPress has 19 hits. It was a post with a photo. So today I will test that theory. Will a bland post of myself posing in front of an anonymous lake get more hits than last week’s entry which was photo-less but definitely held more content? We shall see.

And where am I in the photo? I hope some of you eagle eyed-well travelled people picked it as Lake Wendouree in Ballarat, site of the Olympic rowing regatta at the 1956 Games. Nice place.

Have a great day.

Heavy Days and Warm Irons

It’s taken me quite a few days to get back to my blog and I have not done a single extra thing to unlock the secrets of WordPress since I introduced my first post on this platform over a week ago. Life hasn’t allowed me much breathing space in the last week.

We have been smashed at work. A ton of product to process and very few staff to do it has seen us struggle and my own little area, small parcels, saw a real surge this week and, even with the unusual advantage of having an extra hand to help me, I really struggled to get the work done. I can proudly say I triumphed over adversity and got the job finished  every night but my daily exertions have left me shattered in the evenings.

The line “work smarter not harder” never occurred to anyone in the hierarchy of the corporation which employs me I’m sure. I am feeling the pinch more than ever after 28 years on the production floor and it doesn’t look like things are going to get better anytime soon.

I’ve got a sore shoulder, a creaking upper forearm, a jarred elbow, crook ankles and a back which feels as though it could give out at anytime thanks to constant leaning into mail bins which have been designed to match the average height of people in the 12th century or so it seems. Yeah, I’m getting older to be sure but the daily grind isn’t getting any easier despite the illusion of falling product volumes.

To add to my weekly workload my father and I have been conducting our very own “backyard blitz” in my yard over the last 10 days-clearing trees and root systems, trimming the remaining trees, cutting brush and grass and taking load after load of all of it to the green waste centre at the local tip. It’s made for long days when I add my Monday to Friday job into the mix although we took a breather today-it is Saturday after all-a respite I really needed. But, there is plenty more still to do.

Consequently life hasn’t been very exciting so anyone looking for inspiring blog-posts which leave you glued to the computer screen, well, you have come to the wrong place-for today at least.

I do find inspiration in little things. Working on my own most of the time nowadays gives me plenty of time to think and I come up with plenty of content in my head. I just don’t have time to write it down and I really don’t have the inclination to write when I get home. Thus,as “Game of Thrones” author George RR Martin succinctly put it, “the iron goes cold”, and the wherewithal to turn out work fades under the weight of pressure of everyday life.

I guess this week, this latest chapter of my life really has lived up to the moniker I have given this blog although mundane would be more descriptive of the events of the week rather than laborious although it had it’s moments when the latter would have stuck.

With some luck I will be back again soon with content more absorbing than tonight’s effort-something which will dazzle an delight all those who find themselves here. Until then, take care and have a good night.

Lights, Camera, Action!

………And we are live! Welcome to my new blog! Well, not exactly new-it is still called “Strange Notations from a Laborious Life” and to all intents and purposes is the same thing as the old site-but I have changed blogging platforms from Blogger to WordPress and this is my first post on the new site.

WordPress is the pre-eminent blogging platform in the world. They claim they are used by 20% of the internet-something that really needs to be backed up by numbers but there is no doubt it is the most popular format for serious bloggers.

Why have I changed? Well, it was hard to give up my old Blogger platform but I wanted the blog to look and feel more professional than it was. Blogger was fine but it really is known as being a site for amateurs. An entry level blogging platform for all intents and purposes-and looked down upon by serious bloggers-apparently.

I’m no snob and it pains me to leave Blogger behind but I was looking for more functionality and a fresher, brighter look and perhaps a more serious, respectable edge. So, the next step in my pursuit of excellence in the literary arts is to upgrade my little spot on the web. And here I am!

I am operating on the free platform WordPress provides. No need to pay for their premium service just yet. Perhaps that is the next step but I will see how I go for now. And I hope you will come along for the ride and follow me one way or another.

WordPress allows an author to import his old blog posts from another platform onto the their own platform and thus anyone who would like to read an old post from Strange Notations can rest assured that it can still be found. Just follow the labels at the bottom of the page. Also, the old site will still be up for a while. I am not sure if I will like WordPress so I will hold on to my Blogger page for a while at least. All of my Faceboook shares are linked to the old site anyway so it is probably sensible to keep it. But there will be no more posts there.

I am flying blind a bit. I have never been one to look at the minor details and the site is extensive so I have just thrown myself into it and opening each secret door as I come to it. Thus, there may be some glitches and some odd things pop up on the page. I know there are two identical sidebars at the bottom of the page and I haven’t quite figured out how to reduce it to one just yet. Please bear with me.

Please have a look at the page and don’t hesitate to give me feedback-good bad or, well, not necessarily ugly but constructive criticism is welcome.

So, welcome to the new, improved “Strange Notations from a Laborious Life” and I hope you get some enjoyment out of it as I do writing it. For now, I will sign off and nervously finger the “Publish” button. Wish me luck!

Have a great night.

The Chimes at Midnight

 I am sitting in my little alcove in my bedroom, battling with my old computer as it decides unilaterally when it would like to work and when it would not, listening to the rising crescendo of precipitation cascading off the roof and through the trees onto my desolate, bone dry backyard, trying to comprehend where the four days of my Easter break has gone.

 No fear; I am not about to whinge or complain about what faces me in the coming week. Some constructive criticism from one closest to me, deriding me for my lack of imagination and sick of my constant harping about the drudgery of work has persuaded me to let any thought of writing such go by the wayside. “We get it”, she could have said, “work is evil! Get over it!” This is why I need constructive criticism. To improve myself and my blog and my writing. Get on-board and give me feedback. There is a place to write replies at the bottom of every post. You can leave anonymous messages if you want although they will be moderated. I welcome the input.


 Easter has been quiet but enjoyable and I have hardly left the house. I can almost feel my waistline expanding as the chocolate and ice cream and biscuits and pizza I have eaten over the weekend break down and deposit their fatty residue through my intestines and plant itself like moss on a rocky hillside in the warm and inviting environs of my glutius maximus and other enticing parts of my anatomy. I may have to expand my belt by an extra notch tomorrow!

 Easter is the most important Christian holiday of course. I am not a particularly religious person but the goodwill of the season and the remains of my catholic upbringing mean I treat the holiday with all the respect it deserves. I hope you all reaped the benefits of the goodwill this time of the year brings.

 Two young men who are not enjoying the goodwill of the season and are notorious for their sins are Myarun Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, two of the ringleaders of the “Bali 9” drug smuggling ring who are on death row in Indonesia as I write. Word has filtered through this evening that their last appeal against the death sentence has been thrown out by a court in Jakarta, condemning them to their grubby fate and forever staining the character of the President of Indonesia in my eyes.

 I am not one who thinks the death penalty should never be considered although my thoughts on the subject can be ambiguous. I can see an argument for ending the life of serial killers and mass murderers, people who are a blight on humanity and have forfeited their rights to live among good people in our community. But, when discussing the subject, my latent Christian mores will surface and remind me that humanity should always prevail and a decent society should be judged on it’s ability to grant mercy.

 Many will and do argue that if you break the law in a foreign country where the price of your crime is death then there should be no mercy, no reprieve, no second chance to admit what you did was wrong and stupid and no chance to atone for your sins and make yourself a better person. I don’t understand people who harbour those sentiments. There are those who condemn Myuran and Andrew because of the deaths they may have caused through smuggling heroin into Australia but I have never heard of a drug addict who was conscripted into a life of substance abuse.

 I can’t see the justice in leaving two young men on death row for a decade, giving them every chance to rehabilitate themselves which from all accounts they have done, only to snuff out their precious lives on the whim of a newly elected President, a furniture salesman in a former life and a politician who is from all accounts more concerned with making himself look a figure of substance to his people rather than a man capable of clemency.

 So, on this Easter Monday, a day when Christians remember the suffering of their Saviour who died for their sins, it is worth remembering those who will soon die for their own sins and the mothers who will grieve for them. Although I do not know them and despise their crimes, I will decry their punishment and mourn their fate. And I know many of you will too.

 Have great week.

A Dispatch from the Front

 I have had a short break from blogging, recharging my creative batteries and trying to negotiate the new year at work and I simply haven’t had the time to put “finger to keyboard” and write anything of note. Not that there hasn’t been a lot happening and plenty to write about:

 The desultory state of Australian politics is on show for all to see and the Liberal Party’s woes may get worse from here before they get better.

 Cadel Evans, Australia’s greatest cyclist has retired and went out with a bang at his own race in Geelong on Sunday.


 My New Zealand sojourn draws closer and I have been ramping up my preparation for hiking in the South Island.

 I’ve started to study online, a business course, something I need to break the conundrum which faces me in my working life.

 So, plenty to ponder, numerous lines for stories and blog posts swimming through my head but the time to write has been scarce and the inclination absent.

 I am mentally fatigued. I am struggling at work and feeling as if the whole volume of the earth is trying to squeeze into the cavity where my brain should be. It’s tiresome and soul destroying. It doesn’t help that the long term plans which are surely afoot and being discussed behind closed doors are a mystery to us. We all feel a like we are in limbo waiting for the next hammer blow to fall and wondering what sort of effect it will have on us. The work is getting harder. Less people are available to help. I’m counting the hours until I am on leave. Just over two weeks to go. Gotta hang on!

 So, things have been interesting in my life, not always in the way I would like them to be and the first month of 2015 has passed in a whirl.

 I have much to do and a limited amount of time to do it and today is no exception. I will be back soon enough to exhilarate and  impress you with my blog posts but until then this pitiful offering will have to suffice. I hope your appetite has been whetted.

 See you all again soon. 

Starting Fresh/Losing Interest

 Long-time followers and lurkers may notice a new background photo on my blog today. It is the British Houses of Parliament for those who don’t recognize it, a lovely photo taken from across the Thames which flows majestically through the foreground of the photo.

 Seeing it is a new year I was going to revamp my blog and use a new design from the templates Blogger supplies and a photo from my own collection but it all got too hard. I started fresh and quickly lost interest.

 The photos of mine which Linda or I have taken which I store on our computer are too large to load onto my page and I couldn’t be bothered re-formatting one of them so a Blogger supplied photo on my regular template it is. Maybe I should pay for my own domain and design a page I want? Nah, that would be too professional and I don’t want to fool anyone into thinking I am a serious writer!


  Perhaps I should be more patriotic and parochial and use Australian images or neutral photos? I feel a fraud using stock photos. What do you think?

 I suppose it just proves that while the digits on the calendars change, humans stay the same and most of us are no different in January 2015 to what we were in December 2014. I’m still procrastinating and plodding along. So be it.

 It is a little over a month until I head off to New Zealand, my fourth trip to the Shaky Isles where I will be doing a bit of tramping and a bit of sight-seeing down south. I have been doing a little riding on my bike to get fit but I am still a fair way from where I want to be so some more rugged training may be called for before I go.

 I will be taking the time to do a hike called “The Grand Traverse”, a six day walk which combines the Greenstone and Routeburn Tracks and I am looking forward to it. There will be a whole new round of photographs to bore my friends silly with and supply me with inspiration for blog posts which few will be interested in or read. I have also purchased a Go-Pro camera and a chest harness on which to wear it so I may find some mighty fine vistas to film and for you all to enjoy.

 There has been a lot happen in the world in the first couple of weeks of this year and I have at times been compelled to write about it. In fact I wrote a rather long post about the events in France recently and never published it. I figure adding my anonymous voice to the chorus contributes nothing to the debate. I am sure there will be other times I will find it impossible to hold my fire.

 So, we are off and racing and settling in to 2015. I hope all is well and firing on all cylinders for all those reading this and I will be back soon with more strange notations and I hope you will all join me.

 Have a great weekend. 

Thanking You

 Last night, as I plugged away at work, my mind was burgeoning with imagination, contemplating what I could write on my Blog today. Ideas were overflowing and creativity was in full bloom. Alas, I have arisen this morning and run into a dead end. All that I thought exciting last night seems to me this morning to be stale and uninteresting. Perhaps the monotony of work made my feeble thoughts seem more exciting than they were and in the cold light of day they have been exposed  as weak and meaningless.

 No matter. I will push on with a short note today as I have some tidying up to do with those who regularly read my Blog.

 The winners have been announced and prizes awarded in the Australian Writer’s Centre Blog contest and sadly I was not among the winners. Of course with over 1100 Blogs entered the chances of victory were slim and at the end of the day I have to admit my Blog and my life is not overly exciting and my technical skill when it comes to literary matters is not great. No matter. I enjoy what I am doing and that is the main thing but I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to vote in the “People’s Choice”  section and those who support me regularly by reading this Blog. It must be just short of having teeth pulled out at times just trying to negotiate my crude style and make something of the nonsense I write but it is not called “Strange Notations from a Laborious Life” for nothing!


 Another thing I am doing at the moment is a short course in feature writing for magazines and newspapers and if anyone is willing to help me out it would be much appreciated. If you have any ideas for a feature article that I would be able to research and write please feel free to drop me a line here in the comments section or on Facebook. Somewhere down the track in this five week course I think I will have to come up with and expand on an idea for such an article so why not use my friends to help me out? I need all of the encouragement I can get!

 I have also been thinking of upping the ante by creating a Facebook page for my Blog. I know many Bloggers have such a page but it seems a little vain to be doing such a thing but I will probably press ahead and see how it goes. I may pick some Blog posts to put on it retrospectively just to kick it off and I guess I can always delete the page if it seems to be pointless or too much work to check and or moderate. It’s all about getting yourself and your work out there. A “writer’s platform”, is what they call it. I will see how it goes.

 So now as the sun rides high in the sky and the frost and fog meanders away until early tomorrow when they will once more combine to run their slippery hands across the countryside, I will go on my way with my day and get to it the best I can.

 And once more to my small band of regular followers, a big thankyou and I hope you all continue to find something of value occasionally in the murmurings of my life.

 Have a great day.