Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Eastbound & Down—where Mikey realises he is the Kenny Powers of the APS

Whilst awaiting the 2014 return of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report—my go to TV to watch as I ride my exercise bike—I decided to sample the heady delights of Eastbound & Down. Danny McBride is a funny fuck no matter his role—he's the stand out character in Pineapple Express—and having recently seen his first big success of The Foot Fist Way I thought Eastbound might rock. 

Holy shit. It's TV unlike TV. TV without constraint. You watch a show like this and wonder how you can watch three camera plus audience sitcoms ever again. 

McBride's Kenny Powers, a washed up baseball pitcher re-starting his life, has such an incredible belief in self that I can't but help see some of myself in him, in that since recovering from depression I've gone the other way into too much self esteem and sometimes I say and think as Kenny does; "I am the greatest public servant in the history of the APS!". Yes, I have actually said that ... many times (1). 

Eastbound & Down succeeds across the board. It's beautifully shot and edited, the acting is awesome, and even as you cringe you can't help but laugh. I especially love the montage sequences overlaid with music such as Kenny on his jet-ski, the ultimate Bogan accoutrement, powering off into the distance as the credits roll.

It's totally worth racking for the watch. And, because it's loosely athletic themed, I feel fitter for watching it when I ride my SoTPC.

Wellness for the win.

(1) Yes, I believe it. For someone of my level to have done what I've done is fuck-off incredible. And with that realisation of worth it's honestly like I am now playing Special Agent Rimmer instead of the crap real version.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's pretty sweet

I am a mid-ranking public servant. I am not in management by choice because the job I used to do was so insanely rewarding that even though it was an insane job that drove me insane it was a job worth doing. 

It's pretty sweet. It's pretty sweet to know that as a public servant what you did mattered and it mattered that you did it well.

Wellness for the win.

With facts pertaining to recent events

I've not come back to blogging with intensity just yet, for I broke my habit last year after a slight kerfuffle in the workplace and spent much of the year in recovery mode.

So what of recent events thus far into the year?

Home Alone with theBoy
I've been on leave since Christmas and looking after theBoy at home on school holidays. He wakes before me and hoobs out to the loungeroom where theWife has left breakfast for him. Which means he doesn't need to wake me and I get some time extra sleep. theWife bought a rash of kidz movies on the cheap and each day he can watch one or two of them. One of these DVDs was the complete Home Alone series. As you may recall the central plot is a child is defending their home turf with a series of traps.

theBoy then proceeded to lay a series of traps around the house for me. If I stood on the whoopie cushion I got blown up. If I knocked over a Lego sculpture that had been placed in front of my door then I got blown up. 

He also attempts to assassinate me with a thrown rubber nipple ball or a home-made Captain America shield. 

That'll teach us to let him interact with popular culture. If only we'd been Brethren; "Wife, get thee to the kitchen and fetch me bread!"

I failed my Search check on my clothes
I had to de-crud the shitbox, the piece of crap second car we have—it was our previous vehicle before we got a leased car—which has been rightfully deemed defective by the ACT government and is currently awaiting a wrecker to come and tow it ... and for me to organise for that to happen. I got out the last of the personal effects from the car and the effects included four jumpers. I piled all of these into my washing basket with the plan to wash one with each load until they were all clean (as they're bulky and take up the same space as five shirts). 

I check the pockets of my pants for tissues and other matter so as to prevent the dreaded tissue in the wash. Only I failed to search the pockets of one of these jumpers and within one of those pockets was a post-it note. 

A post-it note. You cannot believe the damage a post-it note can do to a load of washing. Fetid lumps of glowing fluoro yellow pulp speckled my washing like an explosive shit had cooked off during a cycle. I had to flap my wet clothes before putting them in the dryer so as to dislodge the yuck and the yuck went all over the laundry. The next day I took in the vacuum to not only clean the now dried pulp shards from the floor but from inside the washing machine itself, with smears of post-it clinging and dried to the inside of the tumbler; Mendoza!

I'm reading David Copperfield
When you've been driving all day it's common to, that night, see the road in your mind as you try to sleep. When you've steeped yourself in Charles Dickens all day then the language tends to seep into your manner of speech; "Come hither, child, and place a kiss upon the check of thy Pater!" I'm reading the book via my Kindle emulator on my tablet. If I am in the house then chances are the tablet is in my hand and I'm either reading Copperfield or sifting through the dozen odd websites I visit during the day. I look like a Star Trek: The Next Generation engineering officer with his electronic clipboard save for the absence of uniform, fitness to wear the uniform, and Insert-Techy-Blah-Blah glowing omnipotently behind me. 

Stuff that's happening at the federal level
The old me would have been savaging the Abbott Government for their monstrous violation of common decency and their determination to spread like cement their conservative people-hurting ideology over Australians and visitors alike. However in these current climes it's unwise for a public servant to vent, event if it is via anonymous means, so I am holding off for a while. If/when I leave government service then I'll be back to form on that I am sure. 

Needless to say as a proud technocrat and believer in the power of government to do the greatest good I am not an ardent fan of the Coalition and their approach in pretty much every aspect of governance. The Coalition are the party of monied elites who don't understand how fiat currency works, that our money is a vote of confidence in our ability to live well and prosper and by retarding that ability to live well and prosper—such as monstering poor people or not investing in health and education or science and research—they make their money worth less. The only Coalition member I can stand is Malcolm Turnbull and he must be slapping his forehead a hundred times a day with having to be where he is and have Abbott as the PM. 

I'm humming along in the heat of the day
It's hot in Canberra—it is Summer after-all—and because theBoy is in holiday care I slept longer than I should have. I truly woke up around midday. Despite the heat I forded into battle and rode SoTPC, my nordictrack exercise bike, in the shed. I had two pedestal fans going, one fan aimed at my front and the other at my back, and the bubble of air around me kept me cool despite the heat. The only downside to riding in the heat of the day was that I kept sweating from the ride even after I'd had a shower and gotten dressed, with my having to sponge off my sweat damp three times or so post-shower. It's only now just eased off. 

However my cycling is going well. I am at 18 kays a ride now and I typically only take three or four short breaks during a session. I'm cycling at a higher resistance as well. I actually laughed when my doctor said two years ago that I needed to do at least 40 minutes a day exercise to counter the effects of my not great body and white collar work lifestyle of sitting. As if I could ever do that! And here I am, doing more than that every single day without fail. 

Go wellness-enthused me!

Time for a late lunch
I found KFC in the freezer. I will eat that now. UPDATE: I had it, along with baked potatoes and peas with honey mustard mayonnaise to accompany it. It was delicious.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Each day is better than the last

Not being depressed is a somewhat unusual thing for me. I've had 30 years of feeling like shit and that I was shit and now I only feel like shit some of the time. The idea that I am shit has been banished from the land!

Instead of go to mental commands of "I suck" or "Holy Christ on a cracker I am unappealing" they have been replaced with statements of quiet worth and incremental improvement such as "every day I get a little bit fitter and a little bit smarter" because that is the truth. Every day I do get a little fitter—I am now riding over 17 kays a day on the exercise bike at a three steps higher resistance than the same time last year—and thanks to my nerdy habit of reading lots about government and politics I get a little smarter. This fitness and this increased braininess will then assist me, along with my awesome record of service to date, to find good work to do and where I can have meaningful input. 

The physical yuck is still there, fibro pain and gut trouble, but it's nowhere near the yuck levels it was just prior to my collapse. So even if I can't suppress the called unbidden tendency to say "ouch" when a pain flare lands at least the frequency of me doing it has dropped way off. 

Last night, during a Storyverse bathtime session, I made theBoy laugh. His laughter filled the bathroom and beaming joy lit upon his face. It was one of those moments you get where the rest of the world no longer matters because in that moment you understand your task is to throw your child up to space, to be their second stage. And all the crap, all the pain, all the hurt and all the yuck is banished in that moment.

So when I do fall into the trap of drifting into thoughts of oldwork then I can replace the thought train with that.

Wellness for the win.

Thursday, January 02, 2014


I had a bad night pain-wise with bloating and gas pain and soreness of bod. This morning, as I woke, I woke from a bad dream about oldwork. I got up, saw theBoy was in the loungeroom wrapped up in his Blue Dog hooded blanket watching ABC3, staggered to the toilet to do a morning wee, then staggered back to bed. 

I continued dreaming about oldwork

I woke again about 10 am, headed out to the shed to start my cycle but realised I was still too raggedly tired and went back to bed. I woke just after midday. As I slept again I dreamed about oldwork.

I've been pretty good about not thinking about oldwork or, if I do, I focus on the positives about what I did and the fact I got to leave and get well, but there's still a dark slab of anger about all that happened and my return to the Elysian Fields of blogging brought up a lot of those feelings. Last night, as I drove off to get dinner from two assorted drive-thru places (1), I started talking to myself as I thought of what I'd say if I saw any of the three people that induced my collapse in the workplace (2). 

I started ranting. Full on ranting with spittle fleck as I assailed the would-be victim of my justified outrage with damning indictments of their monstrosity towards my clients, the segment of Oz I had a duty of care towards.  

Then, when I turned out the light around 2 am, then I started dreaming about oldwork

That's the trouble with being an idealist. You can't just switch those feelings off. And if you're a passionate person who believes in things when you recall the villains that stood against that you can and do get angry.

But I will try and break my habit of Il Duce-style car ranting lest it bleed into my subconcious and revisit me in my sleep. 

Right, the bike is looming next to me. It's time to ride and while away the ride watching National Geographic specials about Nazis. 

You got to love docos about Nazis. Even if the docos' personification of Hitler somewhat resembled my own fiery passion when encased in steel and glass as I drove our family food home.  

(1) Red Rooster for theWife and myself and McDonald's for theBoy.
(2) I should point out that I have used solo car-based oratory for interview and/or presentation practice space ever since I've been driving. That and the shower. So it's not uncommon for me to be talking to myself when behind the wheel though that talking is with purpose and not just madness-laced mutterings.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Books I read in 2013

The following is a list of all the books I read in 2013. As noted in my last blog post of 2013 I ended up going fully nuts in March of 2013 and was out five months from the workplace. You'd think that would have given me a bunch of time to read a lot more books except, of course, I'd gone nuts and when you go nuts and then recover from going nuts you tend not to be able to read books. I'd get two sentences into a paragraph and then my brain would wander to the raw hurt and pain of my collapse and I'd start fixating about oldwork

But, that pain and hurt receded in time, thanks to buckets of support from friends, family and my broader workplace, and I did finally start reading again in about mid-May.

Since I purchased a tablet in November of 2011 I've embraced Kindle like no-one's business and about 80 per-cent of these titles were purchased via Amazon's Kindle store. The ability to instantly gain and start reading a book within mere seconds over the annoyance of library visits or ordering books in is beyond awesome. Especially combined with the ability to use the same platform to look up topics related to your e-book as you go without even having to leave your chair. 

It has never been a better time to be a shut in!

Anyway, the list of books I read in 2013—in order of last read to first—is as follows.

Command and Control by Eric Schlosser 
I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum
Part of Our Time: Some Ruins and Monuments of the Thirties by Murray Kempton 
Murder in America by Evan Wright 
A Storm of Swords by George R R Martin 
Les Mis√©rables by Victor Hugo 
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson 
The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson 
What I Do by Jon Ronson 
Out of the Ordinary by Jon Ronson 
Lost at Sea by Jon Ronson 
Quarterly Essay 51. The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell by David Marr 
Breaking News. Sex, lies and the Murdoch succession by Paul Barry 
The Selling of the President 1968 by Joe McGinniss 
Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss (inc. 2012 update) 
Scary Monsters and Super Freaks by Mike Sager 
Generation Kill by Evan Wright (1)
Cruel Doubt
by Joe McGinniss 

The Trial of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens 
Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran 
Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor by Matthew Latimer 
It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis 
The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan by Michael Hastings 
Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal by Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman 
Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein 
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 
American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson 
A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin 
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin 
Bad Characters : Sex, Crime, Mutiny, Murder and the Australian Imperial Force by Peter Stanley 
The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006–2008 by Thomas E. Ricks

(1) UPDATE: This book wasn't in my list of books via the Kindle emulator but I did read it via my Kindle emulator so that's weird. And I've added this note in 2014. 

Well hello, 2014...

It's some 40 odd minutes into the new year; hooray! I'm in the shed. I just played Baldur's Gate. We saw the New Year in with watching Outnumbered and spent the lead up to that watching Ponderland with Russell Brand.

It's magical thinking to think the quality of your New Year experience will somehow influence how the rest of the year goes. So I am avoiding doing that. However I did have an awesome last day of the year and my favourite part was hanging out in the spinal corridor of our house with all the doors closed to make the corridor dark and playing with glow sticks with theWife and theBoy.

So here's to 2014. Let's hope it's a little less interesting than last year. Boredom, it's an under appreciated quality in a year.