luckycanuck: (Maccabi)
2012-06-11 06:48 pm

Bingham Cup - Day 1

Bingham Cup – Day 1

We got to the grounds with plenty of time to warm up and get strapped. My strapping mostly consisted of two pieces of cardboard rolled up and covered in strapping tape that were than taped to my thighs so I could be more easily lifted in the lineout. I chose to write a personal message on mine.

For those of you not conversant in Greek, that translates as “bring it on” , as said by the 300 Spartans to the Persians before the Battle of Thermopylae.

We watched the firsts smash Seattle before gearing up for our first match against a combined Atlanta/Philadelphia team.

I had been on edge all day, and stampeded into the game with vigour. We kicked off, and 30 seconds in I produced the first big hit of the tournament for my team, hurling my opposite number to the ground for the loss of a few metres. The Convicts on the sideline cheered. I had arrived at the start of the tournament, but as our coach told us “we haven’t arrived yet.”

We settled into an aggressive game, I managed a nice run that ended five metres short of the try line, and on the next phase a teammate crossed over, but waited too long to place the ball down and was hit in such a way that he hurt his knee. His tournament was over.

We put in four tries, and only gave up one, which was my only frustration with the match. Had I reacted a split second earlier, I could have gotten under the ball and stopped their scrum half from grounding it.

Our next game, after ice baths and lunch, was against Los Angeles. It was a tough match and it was played mostly in our half. We gave up one try in the first half in a bruising spectacle.

Late in the first half I had been in a series of intense plays and found myself exhausted. At a stoppage in play I took my time getting up, and while stepping away, I went back down. The physios came on and had a look at me, and took me off. By the time I was off, I was fine, though the spectacle of me being helped off the pitch made it look like I was in worse shape than I was. The ref would not allow me back on.

This bothered me. I wanted to get back on to help my team, but that was not going to happen. What bothered me most of all was knowing that I could have stayed in the game. The consensus was that I had fainted and that for my own good and for the team I was better off on the sideline, but I don’t think that was the case. I think I went down when I could have stayed on my feet. I was exhausted and wanted to buy a few seconds, but in looking all wobbly for a second and taking a knee, I had taken myself out. Nobody held anything against me, but my conclusion was that I had quit.

We lost 12-0, and I felt as though I had failed. I went home in a bad mood. The result almost certainly wouldn’t have been any different had I stayed in, but I couldn’t let it go. I left the ground that day as a quitter.

luckycanuck: (convicts rugby)
2012-06-10 06:24 pm

Bingham Cup - Arrival

I arrived in Manchester on the Monday and met the Convicts.  They had me in a room with another straight guy, and within the first ten minutes of us checking in I was in the early stages of aspie stress.  He talked all the time, had no sense of personal space (within the first hour he had taken a shower in my ensuite bathroom ) and generally gave me the impression that I was going to have very little personal space during the week to come.

Things got worse at our touch rugby warmup.  I wasn’t wild about playing touch rugby, and the fact that some of the guys were screwing around during the game and the briefings that surrounded day one complicated things further.  I know people were just trying to relax and have a good time, but I wasn’t in the mood for it.

My coach asked how I was doing, and I told him that I didn’t think I was going to make it through the tour if things continued like this.  The forced (or presumed) chumminess of rugby tours was never my thing.  I had a meltdown in 2007 on a rugby tour to France when the joking and bravado became too much.  Overall the coach understood, and another teammate told me that this was my tour too, and that I shouldn’t ever feel pressured into doing something that is going to make my tour miserable.

Tuesday was fine.  We trained, and people were more focused (although there was still some screwing around.)  There was a pub crawl which meant more social interaction, but I had the mental bandwidth deal with it this time.

Wednesday was another low day.  There was more training, but afterwards preparations were made for a series of short skits in groups.  I was tired from training and travel and the like, and the forced fun of acting out the sexual indiscretions of a teammate were not going to appeal to me.  In the end, what forced me over the edge was something relatively trivial.  My job was to make a chef’s hat out of two room service menus.  That’s what made me snap.  Being required to wreck two perfectly good menus caused me to curl up in a ball on the sofa in my room and have a panic attack.  I hadn’t had one since last July when I was still working in Parliament.  I recovered, but went to skit night with the rest of the team in a dazed state.

The club president took me aside and asked if I was ok.  I was frank about my concerns, and he basically gave me permission to do my own thing.  I’m an adult and I already had permission, but it was nice to know that I wasn’t letting anyone down.  I went off and did my own thing for dinner and left the rest of the team to their bonding exercise.

I appreciate that this kind of exercise is good for most of the guys and they enjoy it, but it can easily become too much for me.  The pressure to have fun, and to have fun in officially sanctioned ways becomes too much, and when I feel like I’, not having a good enough time, I feel like I am letting the team down.  That is absurd, I knew it, and they knew it, it just took some time for me to accept it.

The next morning the club president came to visit me at breakfast and we talked more.  Again, he said I should never feel pressured to do anything that is going to set me off, and that I should tell him or a coach or one of the tour staff if I was getting close to my freakout point.

All rugby clubs are a bit blokey.  I’m mostly not.  The Convicts are the least blokey rugby club I’ve ever played for and I can’t imagine any other clubs that I have played for or toured with being quite as understanding about someone who wanted to break the routine of forced fun.

I am happy to be a Convict, and I took that attitude into the tournament.

luckycanuck: (Default)
2012-05-21 02:07 pm

Work improvements

My new job has been a bit of an adjustment.

Early on I found myself in a lot of meetings and being involved in a lot of discussions in which I was WAY out of my depth.  I didn't understand what people were talking about or the projects they were working on.  It took me a while to figure out what my job actually was.  Now, though there is still plenty of me being lost when hearing about things outside of my project, I am not bothered as much.  I know well enough what I am meant to be doing (coming up with reasons why the eCensus is a good idea).  When discussions go beyond that, I've decided that I can afford not to allocate mental bandwidth to trying to keep up.

At the same time, however, I am aware that my current work may potentially set me up for additional work in the new financial year, so I am getting a bit more involved in the workplace.

I am also doing very well on the flex time front.  I am actually able to leave early today rather than staying on to pack on the hours.  That's good, because I leave for England on Wednesday and could use some time to rest.

Tonight, however, I have trivia again.  I was a bit concerned and frustrated by the lack of crowds in the early days, but over the last two weeks there has been an explosion of interest.  On both nights there were over 30 people attending, and there are definite regulars now in attendance.  So it looks like I will continue to have my side gig through the winter and beyond.

My training side gig is also going ok.  I had one cancellation that kind of pissed me off (lame excuses, and turning up one week with promises to pay the next week, but then announcing a schedule change that will preclude further attendance.)  Last week I felt a bit like cancelling, but two regulars turned up and though I had to change the workout plan entirely, they both stuck to it and enjoyed it.  I also found out that both of them probably wouldn't get any exercise if it were not for my sessions, so I felt a lot better about that.
luckycanuck: (Mr Lazy)
2012-05-11 08:00 pm

Two articles - Being single and "immature"

I've recently come across Thought Catalog, and last week I read two articles that really cut through and expressed a lot of how I feel at the moment.

There was this one about being single.

And there was this one about the pressure associated with growing up.

First, singleness.  Like the article mentions, I do have time.  I have more time than I ever would have imagined.  At all times I can pretty much do whatever the hell I want without having to account for myself to anyone.  It has gotten to the point where when things impose on my schedule, I find it grating.  I notice this more and more all the time.  As singleness has become my default setting, so to has doing things, socialising, eating, drinking, working, exercising, and doing everything according to my own schedule and preferences.

Of course, I can't say that I am filling all that "not in a relationship" time with anything "worthwhile."  But I have learned to be single, which has been an important lesson for me to learn.  Perhaps now I am working on being secure with myself.

And that brings me to growing up.  When I was in school, I often felt I had aged before my time, as I didn't seem to share the impulses common to so many in my generation.  Now, firmly in my mid 30s, I still don't.  People I knew growing up have mortgages and children and careers, and I have none of those things.  (You may wish to debate the career part of that, but I consider myself to be figuring that part of my life out rather than knowing or feeling settled in something.)

I wonder sometimes what my life would be like if I took on the trappings of adulthood.  What if I had a mortgage that needed paying every month, a wife and kids that needed me at home rather than flitting off to play at whatever odd thing is the flavour of the month for me, and a career that imposed itself on my schedule in a way that prevented me from doing what I want on my own terms.  I spent years thinking I wanted those things, and now I can scarely imagine taking any of them on.  To be honest, I do feel as though I am being selfish at times because of this.

There is pressure to settle into a neat life defined by these things.  I've got plenty of friends who have, and who are happy having done so.  I don't hold a grudge against them, but I am conscious of the fact that society is oriented towards these choices.  You don't have to make them, but there will always be those who look at you with judgement (or pity) if you don't.

After reading this, I realised that I am quite lucky.  The people who are important to me don't come down on me for being immature or any other disparaging characteristic that the busybodies of the world might like to level at me.  I'm sure such busybodies exist, but my knowledge of them is almost entirely academic.  I'm not sure I can think of any of them who matter one jot in my life.  The people who do, don't pressure me to settle into a life characterised by "adulthood."

Most notably, I thought of my parents, who did choose this life, but who have been very good about not pressing me into doing the same.  I know it happens, but it's never really happened to me.  There is no pressure to get married, there is no pressure to buy a home (they mentioned it might be a good idea to get into the property market some time ago, but haven't mentioned it for years) and I haven't once been hounded to provide grandchildren (my sister has already done that, but even if she hadn't I can't imagine being hounded like that.)

Perhaps I should send them these articles.

luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)
2012-04-29 08:40 pm

I can burn things

I am steadily building up large amount of flex time that will enable me to go to the Bingham Cup.  I usually get to work around 7am and leave when I feel it's time to go (or in time to make other appointments like trivia or training.)  To some degree I wonder if I am actually all that productive, but I don't dwell on that question too much.

Flights are booked.  I am going on frequent flyer points, and will have 12 hours in Shanghai on the way back which will allow me to add one more country to the list of places I have been (provided that I do pushups there.)  I've also arranged a place to stay when I arrive.  I'll be staying in the east end (far from Ealing where I lived while I was there) at a place I found on AirBnb.  It's a site where people advertise rooms in their homes.  I'll be staying with a local family with a room to myself in a fairly central location for a lot less than I would pay otherwise.

Also the vicar I worked for back in 2004 has offered to put me up for a couple nights which may be very suitable after the tournament when I do my pushups.  I'm still planning on doing it, though the charity I chose and e-mail nearly two weeks ago hasn't responded even though I contacted them again a few days ago through every e-mail I could find on their site.  So today I contacted another one, which looks even better, and might not give the the runaround.

I may have picked up a few more training clients at a party last night.  It's going pretty well with a few blips here and there, in part because I am not letting it be a big deal to me.

I did get an odd feeling when starting my Anzac Day workout.  It may have been because I had been up since 4am, but I got a couple minutes in and I realised that I just didn't feel like working out.  It was an odd feeling.  I was doing things that I normally like, but that day I just felt like quitting.  The next day I was back to doing intense workouts involving burpees and kettlebell swings, and today I did a workout named for a marine officer killed in action five years ago today.

Oh yes, and I am now a fully qualified bush firefighter.  I attended a hazard reduction burn yesterday and demonstrated I can handle drip torches, rake hoes, and I can put out fires.  I wish I had brought may camera, because at one point there was a bush with red berries that were such a brilliant red against the black ash beneath them.
luckycanuck: (Mr Strong)
2012-04-20 06:12 am

(no subject)

Going to work every day is something I have adjusted to.  There is a lot to learn including a very frustrating operating system that I don't see the point of but that everyone else in my training session seemed to like, so I felt a little pang of "what's wrong with me that I keep thinking this system is silly and pointless."

I am getting to the office VERY early every day.  Yesterday I was there at 6:45, before my pass would even allow me into the building.  Parking is provided, but there are only 200 spaces and 1,500 staff.  I wonder if it is a ply to get people to turn up to work early.  I'm happy to do it and get a parking spot and have some space to myself for a while (I still don't like having to be social on demand) and build up flex time.  To be able to take my trip to England London I have worked out that I will need to build up 11 days of work out of 40 working days.  It can be done, but it will mean about two hours extra every day and maybe a couple of weekends.

Flights to England are booked.  I'll be visiting friends, playing in the gay rugby world cup, and doing pushups.  I'm flying on points so I'm only paying for the taxes, and I apparently get a 12 hour stopover in Shanghai on the way back so there will be another mini-visit added in.

Black Dog Pushups has a sign.

I reckon it will help with collecting cash donations and dispelling confusion.

Brisbane is probably going to go ahead too.  The council wants me to have $10 million in public liability insurance before I do a single pushup, but apparently my charity has that covered.  Otherwise, it would probably be too much hassle.

I've been doing more training sessions at  home, and I've discovered the fun of doing gymnastic strength work through some friends at the gym.  Just holding static positions is tougher than it looks.

It's 6:30am! I'm going to be late for work!

luckycanuck: (madmen)
2012-04-12 11:40 pm

Back to Work

I've been delaying this post for a while because I've gotten a bit suspicious of such things, but on Monday I am going back to work.

I've been offered a job in the bureau of statistics until the end of the financial year.  It pays a bit more than my last full time job in Parliament and has considerably better hours.  I'll be doing research and writing a report, which I am perfectly qualified to do, just as I would have been perfectly qualified for the dozens of jobs that I applied for over the past several months but didn't get for a variety of asinine reasons.  Now I am sorted until the end of June and then it will be the new financial year when all the departments will have new budgets and funding and the market should be better.  On top of that, they will no longer be able to fob me off with lame excuses about not having public service experience.

I signed up to the ABS temporary employment register and they called me, told me a little about the job, then the next day they said they would offer me the job formally via e-mail.  That e-mail was a little delayed itself, and I was a bit suspicious that this would end up like one of the many jobs that looked so promising only to wind up as nothing but a lesson designed to undermine my sense of self worth.  What makes it sweeter still, is the fact that I got this job on my own.  No agencies were involved.  I still feel that they have done little to find me work and I am not convinced that any of them really give a damn if I ever work again, so as much as I've learned not to take these things personally, I still say screw 'em.  I'll talk to them again in the new year.

I'm still doing trivia and fitness training (I had a session this evening in the backyard with a totally new client base) and while neither of those will make me a living, I suspect that when asked what I do I will still say I'm a fitness trainer.

Finally, the new job is totally flexible.  I'm not being depended on, I'm not depending on a whole host of others, and I will be able to go to Manchester with the Convicts and for a bit of a holiday at the end of May without causing any problems.

So the work situation isn't really thrilling, but at the moment it couldn't be better.
luckycanuck: (Mr Strong)
2012-04-06 11:45 am

Pushups - An Allegory

I did 12 hours of pushups in Adelaide last Friday, and a little past half way something struck me.  12 hours of pushups is a good allegory for dealing with depression.

But I'll get to that.  I was picked up from Adelaide Airport in an official government car.  A friend of mine who is a Minister in the South Australian Government had sent his car to pick me up and take me to some iconic Adelaide locations to do pushups.  He also put me up for a couple of nights and his office did a lot of work with the media setting up interviews.  On the day I wound up having two television interviews and two radio interviews within the first hour.  People came by and made donations, saying they had seen or heard about me.

There were other interviews during the day, and like before, the first six hours were pretty easy in relative terms.

Then, as usual, it got more difficult, and this is where the allegory comes in.

12 hours of pushups is too much for people to imagine when they hear it.  Even if you are the one doing it, 7,200 is too much to take in when you are starting.  Even when you get past the half way point, going for another six hours when your left elbow is giving you grief seems impossible.  The only way you can do it is to break things down and go one minute at a time.  I can do ten pushups per minute.  So I do just that, one minute at a time.  Ten minutes later, I've done 100.  In an hour, I am 600 closer to the finish.  With your sights set on the short term, you don't notice the long term milestones and obstacles passing until you look back at them and wonder why they seemed so imposing.  12 hours blows people away when they hear it.. It seems an impossible thing to endure, but somehow I manage it.

Depression is a lot like that.  In the low points, it is an immense and immovable obstacle, and being asked to overcome it is a task that is as unimaginable as it is impossible.  So you can only work at it bit by bit, minute by minute, day by day.  In my current place, where I am facing the prospect of actually being happy, the low points that I have passed, which seemed like they would never pass, look rather pathetic in retrospect.

On top of that, people come out of the woodwork when you feel like you're at your lowest.  At around 2pm, eight hours in and with four hours to go, with my left elbow aching with every set and with morale and energy at a low ebb, an Adelaide City Council worker came by.  He had been there at 6am when I started and now he had finished work.  He came by at my lowest point with a litre of ice cold orange juice, a banana, and buffalo wings.  This simple combination came at just the right time and was one of the most delicious meals I've ever had, and it was from a total stranger.  Countless people came by to lift my spirits, often because they had been in the same places I've been.

So yes, doing pushups for 12 hours is actually good practice for fighting depression.

Now Brisbane is next, and I am in the process of arranging for a sign to explain to passers by what I am doing.  I think I can bring in a lot more donations if people know at a glance what I am doing rather than just seeing a confusing guy doing pushups.

An incident at about 10:30am in Adelaide: A mum walks by with her four year old son.

Son: "Mummy, why is that man exercising?"

Mum: (confused) "I... don't... know."

I wish I hadn't taken off so much time from Black Dog Pushups.

luckycanuck: (Mr Strong)
2012-03-29 05:20 pm

The possible happiness continues

As Bakerypenguin pointed out, I am now having normal reactions.  When things are good, I am able to feel good.

Trivia is going well.  I hope to get more people out and establish myself as a good place for trivia, and I think that will happen once people catch on.  At the moment the first two nights have been won by the owner of the bar and some of his friends. I wondered briefly if he just wants to have his own trivia night where he and his friends can carry on all they like.

I am currently in Adelaide, in the office of the Minister for Sport.  He will be joining me tomorrow as I have another go at doing 12 hours of pushups.  His office has been helpful with the media and I've done three interviews already, and more live interviews on radio have been lined up for tomorrow.  The Lord Mayor's office has allocated a place for me in Rundle Mall and the whole town seems pretty supportive.  I'm actually going to be sleeping on the minister's sofa tonight, and he send his ministerial car to pick me up from the airport and to take me around town.

Work? Nothing has changed really. Plenty of leads but no actual work.  It may be difficult to get something before the end of the financial year in the public service, but I've also applied for a full time permanent job doing research for a public affairs firm.  No response yet, but it sounds like a good prospect and I took care to put together a good application.  It would be a very different job to most of the others I've looked at.  It would not be a contract, and it would not come with the public service culture.

For now, my job is trading, trivia, and occasionally doing training sessions.  That's fine for me.  I'm getting used to the three "T"s.  Not sure what the prognosis is long term.

I traded some shares in VMG for some options in VMG which will give me a lot more exposure to the potential upside if the price goes up.  I also piled some money into capital raisings for AKK and ALK, and I am willing to cash in some of my stocks if the situation suits.  I've also been picking up DTE on the drops with an eye to unloading it on rebounds.
luckycanuck: (Mr Happy)
2012-03-17 11:19 pm

What is this strange feeling?

I've been feeling rather odd recently, like I've not felt for quite a while.

There is a distinct possibility, and I want to be absolutely clear that this is not in any way a sure thing, that I might, possibly, in some way, be... happy.

Is that the right word?  Is that a word at all?

Let me go back a bit.

Read more... )

Things have been going quite well recently, and I know that I can't always count on that being the case.  Circumstance won't always be my friend, and I think the gloom is still around and may return in force in the future, but for now it doesn't matter.  The trick will be figuring out how to ensure that remains the case.

luckycanuck: (convicts rugby)
2012-03-07 01:16 pm

Wet weekend

There has been plenty of rain. Parts of Sydney and Canberra flooded, my burns are being cancelled, and it was a wet day for the Mardi Gras parade, though it dried up by the time we got going as we were near the end.

I spent a fair amount of the parade shirtless, and a girl I met described me as being "body arrogant" in part because I was doing pushups during the parade and continued to do so after she sat on my back, and because I demonstrated wife carrying techniques.  (She was part Estonian and I had to demonstrate the Estonian Carry.)  She also used the same term to refer to her.  There are currently pictures of me tagged on Facebook that I am thinking of untagging.  I was in a really good mood that night, and my actions suited that, but I am not sure if I want hundreds of people seeing them.  Then again, once a few hours pass, comment tends to die off so there is probably not much more interest to be had.

There was also a birthday for Italian Sushi where I dozed off on Sunday night, and a sense that I may have been making my relationship with another friend all about me.  In my recent state I have been more self-involved than I would normally be, and the asperger's often means I miss cues from other people or simply forget to ask how they are when I have my own things going on.  Nobody is upset, but the people I let into my circle are important to me and I want them to be aware of it.  I just don't always know how.

My plan was to stay in Sydney all week as I have another engagement on Saturday, but I got a message on Monday offering me trivia gigs on Wednesday and Thursday, so I drove back.  Tonight I am going to Queanbeyan, having spent the morning working out my sound equipment and reading through the quiz to work out any problems that may crop up.

I've also got an interview with another agency, though to be honest, I am becoming pretty jaded with the whole thing.  I don't expect to work in the public service this financial year.  I am, however, going to apply for a private sector job doing media work for a charity.  It would be a permanent job which is different from most of the work I've been looking for, but I think it's worthwhile to look at something else.
luckycanuck: (Default)
2012-02-29 02:33 pm

I could do this job again

So here goes with Dreamwidth.  Lets see how it work.

My Monday training session went well.  I introduced five girls to Tabata, and one of them nearly spewed.  Nearly I said.  All of them will be back.

I am getting into training, and I feel like I am doing better at it than I did at politics.  Still, there is this sense in my head that it's not a real job.  I've been struggling with unloading old assumptions about how my life would turn out on a professional and a personal level.  It's slow going.  I spent so many years working to a script that it's hard to walk away from it.  I feel like the disconnect between the script and reality is stoking the gloom, and it's not easy to just ignore the assumptions that were present for so long.

Last night there was a function at Parliament for a former employer who is leaving, and I felt in my element again.  I like being there and felt like I could do a job in that area again.  Of course, last winter I was having panic attacks at work.

In the meantime the public service "conspiracy" against hiring me continues.  Fine.  I managed to sell some options in VMG today for a 40% profit in two weeks (and the ones I held on to are still going up) so I am still sufficiently cashed up to live and to take advantage of potential bargains like AKK.  I am also planning a possible exit from BBG if another takeover offer comes around, which is looking like a distinct possibility.  I'm getting better at selling.  Not having a regular salary will do that.

I'm making an effort not to take over the common areas of the house.  I think it has been imposing on the others who live here and I don't want to do that.  I think a better environment currently exists.

Finally, I will have a regular weekly trivia night at the Charlie Black Bar in Manuka starting on 19 March.  It looks like a pretty upmarket venue, and it looks like I may have a lot of friends around for my first night.

luckycanuck: (Mr Strong)
2012-02-26 10:58 pm

A busy weekend

It has been a busy weekend.  I was up early on Saturday when Renaissance Priest came by to pick me up to help him move.

We managed to get a sofa bed into the van, but to do so we had to get it through a gate.  Rather than put it down and fiddle with it, I convinced him that we could do a clean and jerk with it.  From carrying it, using the same motion as in the clean and jerk, we managed to get it higher than the fence and kept it there as we walked through the gate.  That and some other lifting was my improvised workout for the day.

We wound up just outside Sydney picking up a heavy old desk before driving all the way back to Young in our rented van, the largest vehicle I have ever driven.  It didn't have a massive horn to warn everyone to get out of your way, but you can't have everything.  It also had manual transmission and I managed to only stall it once.  I also managed to keep an even temper towards the end of the evening when he and his mother in law were in the van all the way to Young for hours while fatigued after being up since early morning and packed into the cab of a moving van with two people who were talking a lot.

This morning I was up at 5:00am to get the van back to Canberra.  Immediately I got home, picked up my gear, and was off to my fire brigade assessment.  The theory exam wound up with us discussing the answers with the assessors and we marked our own tests, so everyone got 100%.  It's not meant to be an exercise in memorisation they said.

There was going to be a prescribed burn, but it was called off on account of rain.  We did demonstrate our skills in setting up hydrants, rolling and unrolling hoses and working with pumps, and operating the radios including spelling our names using the phonetic alphabet.  (For the record: Lima, Uniform, Charlie, Kilo, Yankee, Charlie, Alpha, November, Uniform, Charlie, Kilo.)

The burn will be done some time soon, and provided I don't run off the fireground in a panic, I will qualify as a bush firefighter.

Now I'm exhausted.
luckycanuck: (Default)
2012-02-24 11:43 pm
Entry tags:

Why it bothers me... a rant

I've been unemployed for quite some time.

In a way I'm not.  My resume says I work as a freelance consultant which takes in political consulting and personal training, but that is a bit of camouflage to explain the fact that I am taking some time off.  I've not actually worked in politics for over six months.

At first I needed some time away from everything given that I was on the cusp of regular panic attacks at work, but since October I have been of the opinion that while I'm not "better" I might as well be employed.

There have been plenty of public service jobs out there that I could do in my sleep, but after repeated inquiries and interviews, there have been no results.  It's generally a matter of "your background is too partisan" or "you don't have any public service experience" or more recently "you don't have a security clearance."  This has been bothering me more and more, and at the gym earlier this week I think I figured out why.

When I get rejected from a job, I hear the public service say "Begone Luckycanuck!  You aren't good enough to work here!"  This offends my sense of dignity.

I've recently increased the intensity with which I've been looking for work, and as one agency informed me earlier this week, I'm doing everything I should be doing.  Still, nothing.  That sense of frustration is building up to the point that I find it difficult to imagine that anyone anyone in the public service will hire me to any job under any circumstances.  I know other people who have very similar background to me and who have been looking for far less time with far greater success.  The fact that I hear the same thing again and again and again without anyone who deals with HR in this town being able to explain why makes me feel like there is some kind of elaborate and ridiculous conspiracy preventing anyone called Luckycanuck from being employed in the APS.  (One HR type told me about a guy who was a CEO in the private sector and who gave up trying to work in the APS after five years of his experience being rejected as unsuitable.)

In the meantime, I will continue giving training sessions and I will have a regular trivia night to host starting next month.

Lucky for me I have my investments which have been doing exceptionally well in February.  I'm getting better at selling and keeping myself cashed up in the current climate which means money on hand for living expenses and to take advantage of buying opportunities.  Still, it does require a mental shift to not have a regular income that I have not finished making.
luckycanuck: (Default)
2012-02-21 11:59 pm

Something new to wear and something new to do

I picked up something to wear to the gym on my way back to Canberra.

It's a 20kg weight vest and I've used it a couple of times.  I have full range of motion and can work it into virtually any workout.  I think it will be a regular fixture now.  And I got $10 off the quoted price, which was lower than expected anyway.

On the same day I led my first training session for a group of former colleagues at Parliament.  It came very naturally to me.  There was rain, but everyone stuck it out until it became too slippery.  Everyone enjoyed it, and they will be back with others who have expressed an interest.  There may be training during the non sitting weeks and in the mornings too.  So that's good news.

This was, in a manner of speaking, the first "work" I have done in a while.  I've been keeping busy, but leading that session was the first time I've done paid work since I left Parliament.

Recently the market has done very well for me.  VMG is now being appreciated by the market, I managed to sell SNL for a profit, AKK has been very active and there is a strong possibility that it will see a lot of upside soon, and BBG got a takeover offer and put to rest a lot of fears people had about it on the day after I bought more of it, which resulted in a 50% rise in one day.

Some people have suggested that I should trade for a living.  I can't.  Things have been very good now, I don't have the expenses that a lot of other people have, and if things go well I could stand to have a lot of flexibility, but that doesn't mean this is what I do.  Things could collapse again, and even if they don't I still don't expect a sense of purpose from the market.

I haven't, however, had much frustration with slow responses from the public service.  I applied to the temporary employment register of about half a dozen departments.  Not hearing anything back from anyone hasn't fazed me.

Everything is fine, I guess, but there is still a looming sense of numbness.

There was also a disturbing dream.  I dreamed I was attending my first bushfire, and it came close to a property which we decided to defend.  It turns out that the property owner was involved in producing illegal drugs, and when we approached his stash to set up a defensive line, he came out with a gun and shot at us and nicked me slightly.  We retreated to the far side of the truck and he followed, and when he came around the corner I swung at him with an axe and dropped him.  Later on I was charged with assault and the rural fire service cut me loose.  I woke up with no inclination to help people in need. 

The other day I saw a guy pushing a car in the city, trying to build up enough speed for his friend to get it started.  I rushed in and joined in and quickly we had them on their way.  But that wasn't really for him.  I did that for me.
luckycanuck: (convicts rugby)
2012-02-13 11:53 pm

A temporary new look and a lot of driving

I came up to Sydney on Thursday, and had a couple of days with my parents before taking them to the airport on Saturday morning.  Mum and I went shopping and she suggested that for Christmas I bring the girls to the Sydney Koala Park when they come out to visit in July.  Done.  I was going to struggle to come up with anything.  We also had a chat about depression, which she got to see up close on Friday night as we had dinner with the guy who looks after the administrative aspect of the Collaroy Castle and his girlfriend.  Me at dinner with four people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s instead of at the gym where I had planned to be.  With all the frustration and alienation I was pretty shut down and fatigued all night, and almost struggled for breath like I did at work last winter at one point.  When we got home she asked if I was ok, and I said "this is what depression is like."  I don't think she understood until then, and I suspect she probably still doesn't.  She's trying though.

On Saturday I took Minou back to her place on my way to Canberra and stopped in to visit Dora in her post Mr Burns phase.  Back in Canberra at the party I was there to attend, Nerva Chu helped me shave my head.  I know I normally have very short hair, but on Saturday night I shaved it all off in solidarity with JAQ who has lost all her hair during chemotherapy.

Click for lots of pics )

Tomorrow I head back to Canberra so I can lead a training session at Parliament, and on the way I plan to stop to pick up a 20kg weight vest and to visit Minou again.
luckycanuck: (madmen)
2012-02-09 12:41 am
Entry tags:

Down and up

There have been a number of jobs that have passed by recently, and I have gotten a no on all of them.  The problem?  I don't have a security clearance.  Not secret.  Not protected.  Not even baseline.  And because of that, nobody is willing to consider me.  It's like this is an extension of the whole "you need to have public service experience" mentality that I came across in other positions.  This is just another way to say it.  They won't look at me without a security clearance, and I there is no way to get a security clearance unless I am employed in the public service.

This has meant me having annoyed conversations with a couple of agencies.  It's kind of hard to react to this in a way that doesn't conclude that there is some kind of ridiculous and elaborate conspiracy against me.  One job said I didn't have enough experience (which is not even close to being true) and that I should look at roles at a lower level.  Another job, at that same lower level, said I was too experienced and too qualified and that I would get bored.  It seems I am in a zone of unemployability, and have been for several months.  Moreover, I have been reliably informed that any job I apply for now may not end up with a result for several more months.  Apparently there have been delays of six months to fill a three month job.

This is not that big of a problem in a financial sense, or not as much as it would have been this time last week.  The market has done very well (for me) this week.  Wednesday was the best day in the history of the stock market, as my gains at the close were slightly higher than my gains on Monday.  VMG is the main cause.  It jumped at long last and there is suddenly lots of interest in it.  My options have nearly tripled in value in a month.  With the money from selling SNL for a profit arriving in my account today, I am cashed up with plenty of flexibility.

Part of me looks at the job front and the investing front and thinks "why am I bothering with the public service culture that seems to have it in for me.  F*ck the public service.  Just f*ck 'em."  I've got a rugby trip coming up at the end of May, and I have no reason to believe I will work a single day in the kind of jobs I have been applying for between now and then.  When one of my agencies rang me asking if I was interested in a position, my response was "is there any point?"  Maybe I will just continue to be drastically underemployed with my training and trivia and and some freelance work (which, to be perfectly frank, has not existed at all.)

The thing is, things won't always be like this.  I can't depend on always getting things right in the market and things could change o the work front.  My agencies are stunned that it has taken so long, though one of them, the one that forgot about me entirely for months, seems to have been stunned into forgetting I exist again.  The person whom I had somewhat harsh words for a month ago and who was very good at getting back to me right away, even saying hello in the supermarket a couple of weeks ago, still has not responded to an e-mail I send last week.

So maybe I've had enough of the public f*cking service.  I think I may rethink what I am looking for if this is how they are going to treat me.

Off to Sydney in the morning, to start of a few days of lots of travelling back and forth.
luckycanuck: (Default)
2012-02-04 11:29 pm


I was in Parliament this past week, and CoS mentioned that one of the departments that interviewed me for a job contacted him for a reference and that they were quite keen to hire me.  Unfortunately, they were hit with a hiring freeze.  That's good news, because it smashes the sense of pointlessness I had after being knocked back from other public service jobs for ridiculous reasons.  I had an interview on Friday and now I am registered with another agency who impressed me with the degree of interest they took in me.

I've also put the word out to a number of old work colleagues, and there is growing interest in the idea of me training people at my old office.  I've got new business cards for Molon Labe Fitness and I may be having my first session the week after next.

There is also another looming job prospect that I had never considered before.  It wouldn't be a full time job and it wouldn't be a career, but it would be right up my alley.  It would be hosting trivia.  I don't know why this never struck me before.  I could have been doing this for months.  There will be a tryout on Tuesday where I will be reading questions 11-15 at a local trivia night, and once I am approved, there will be opportunities to fill in here and there.

The market has had some good news recently.  It's been down this week overall, but for me it has been up.  VMG is finally back up to it's capital raising level and the options I picked up are up too with probably plenty more to go.  AUT finally stopped it's recent decline and buyers are coming back in.  SNL, which I have been quite happy with as it has been very steady, jumped enough for my sell order to be taken up.  It's a great stock and I have another order in to buy some of it back if it falls again, but it is a very thinly traded stock and I was uneasy having as much as I had locked up in a stock that sometimes goes a week or two without a single trade.

I'm getting closer to qualifying as a fire fighter.  This week we played with fire extinguishers and practiced emergency burnover procedures.

My parents came down to Canberra and a couple of dinners were had, but aside from that and a tour of Parliament I didn't see them.  I'll be going up to Sydney on Thursday before they leave on Saturday.  I have no idea what to get my nieces for (delayed) Christmas.  Apparently they are both in a girly phase.  There's virtually nothing I know about girly girls aged 8 and 6.

Overall, it's been a good week.  Still a bit numb though.
luckycanuck: (Default)
2012-01-29 01:41 am

A post about girls, and business, and the new housemates

Results of my Cert III practical work have come through, and I now have ticked all the boxes to be deemed "competent."  Now I'm into my Cert IV text on advanced aerobic conditioning.

I'm not certain if Roxy is still here or if she has moved away already.  She always kept to herself, but I've not seen or heard from her at all in days.  The soon to be new housemate is Chloe.  (Not her real name, but I accidentally called her that on a number of occasions so that's her name here.)  She and Surveyor are out right now celebrating EmPrime's birthday which was on Australia Day.  I think the new household dynamic is going to be a happy one.  I gave Surveyor and Chloe a lift into the city for the festivities and we all had drinks on Australia Day.

I've been doing some heavy lifting this past week, and I've been getting into Tumblr for the first time.  Molon Labe Fitness now has a Tumblr account where photos and WODs will go.  Recently I posted this little thing I put together.

Keep Calm and Click Here )

And it has been reblogged over 400 times.  Today I put this design on a t-shirt, along with a Molon Labe t-shirt, and one that reads "Whatever doesn't kill me... had better start running."

I've also been improving Otani.  I tried filing some hand holds, but I now find it more effective to use a hand saw and occasionally a drill I brought back from Collaroy.

I've also developed what could be called a bit of a workout crush.  I came across a girl in America whose Tumblr account and blog have made an impression on me.  Part of the appeal lies in the fact that I think she is very nice to look at, but far beyond that, she impresses me.  Here is a girl who isn't afraid to lift.  I think that is worthy of heaps of respect.  Gym girls impress me.  "Gym babes", not so much.

There is another American girl with a blog whom I have taken note of recently.  DC Dana is friends with a political contact of mine, she seems to have a sense of perspective about politics, and we both seem to be going through similar career and personal frustrations right now.  Again, since discovering the blog, I've read it regularly and looked back through some old posts.  I seem to have taken a liking to American girls.

On that note, there was an American girl in Sydney whom I met during my New Year's festivities.  Klydemestra is doing a PhD in film.  We got along quite well when we met, and last Sunday, we had dinner again.  I didn't strike me that what we were doing might be construed as a date until I was halfway through my barramundi.  I'm still not sure if it was a date, though I will be seeing her again.  You might think it would be awkward to have that ambiguity, but I don't feel it.

Finally, there is still contact with another girl whom I met/hooked up with on New Year's Eve.  There was mutual crushing between MadEllen and I, and there still is.  She lives in Brisbane, so my habit of being interested in girls who live far away remains.  It's kind of nice at the moment to be able to take an interest but not have to do anything about it.  I'm still very much not in a relationshippy kind of place right now.

My first fire was supposed to be last Wednesday, but the controlled burn was cancelled to avoid upsetting the red breasted finch.  (One of the fireys pointed out "it's a bloody bird. It can bloody fly away."

My parents come down this week for a couple of days.
luckycanuck: (Default)
2012-01-21 11:14 am


I'm in Collaroy, with my parents for the first time since last April.  Mum's maid of honour and her husband are also around and I've not seen them for the better part of twenty years.

There is always a shock when this happens, because suddenly the Collaroy Castle which I am accustomed to having to myself is much MUCH smaller.  I'm also keenly aware of the fact that I understand my parents (particularly my mum) less and less.  I'm noticing how she seems incapable of doing something without announcing it, that the traditional maternal fussiness is still there, and that she has very little knowledge of what is going on with me.  None of this results in hostility or even awkwardness, but it is still there.  I've not lived in the same jurisdiction as my parents for eight and a half years and it shows.

We did have a chat about the gloom yesterday, which is an issue of some concern to her.  She wanted to make sure I'm not drifting in the direction of suicide (I'm not and she knows I'm not) and I suspect there will be more chats while they are here.  I was kind of hoping to be able to explain what's going on with me, but I can't seem to do it.  It's like it's back to the old drill of things being wrong when nothing is wrong.

In better news, I finished all my work for the Cert III and handed it in on Thursday.  The training manager at my gym signed off on a number of workout sessions that I was meant to observe.  In fact, I just entered workouts that I had done in the past and that was deemed to be good enough.  I did do a flexibility session with Helga (who is leaving Canberra to move in with her boyfriend) and an aerobic session with Coffee Snob to get used to designing programs for people and they were both happy with what I did.  Now I am going to start on my Cert IV.

There have been a number of good workouts recently, including a new concept that involves working out with a deck of cards.  Each suit represents an exercise, and the value on each card represents the number of reps.  Then you just "hit the deck" and go through either the whole deck or go for a set period of time.  Very random, a good challenge, and heaps of fun.

Also, on the Collaroy Castle front, I am getting a stronger feeling that much of the pressure for selling the place is coming from my aunt in Sweden who resents the place and the work required to maintain it.  It struck me yesterday that if she died, there would be far less pressure to sell.  Noticing this made me feel a bit macabre, but maybe that's what I'm like these days.