I finally got back into doing proper workouts yesterday. Naturally I am limiting myself to some degree as I don't want to aggravate my neck, but there are plenty of things I can do that don't cause me any problems. Legs, core, running, these things don't bother me at all.
YW: Run 600m, 5 rounds (10 pushups, 10 situps, 10 squats), run 600m, 4 rounds, run 600m, 3 rounds. Today it's good too feel sore muscles (sore in a good way) again.
I spent a whole lot of money this afternoon in the space of half an hour at the dentist. I like my dentist. If there are any dental imperfections, he doesn't assume them to be a personal insult to him, which is something my dentist in Canada used to do. Anything less than perfect wasn't enough for him. If I had a cavity, I had gotten a cavity out of spite.
The housewarming/farewell for Chez Canuck is on this weekend. (We've been there since December so it's more of a farewell for Alleluia before she goes to Cambodia.) Our theme is "it used to be cool." I was going to be going as one of the members of ABBA but we may not be able to get a full four so I may have to think of something else. Anyone who is going to be in Canberra is welcome to come by.
Last night I told CoS that I was planning to leave by mid-August, before Parliament returns. After that I told W. W and I had a nice chat that touched on the fact that there was very little I could do in my current role and that I might quite justifiably want to take on new challenges. He told me he always liked the way I write, and we both hoped I would be back into politics at some point. I suspect that is the case. Neither Parliament nor the party have seen the last of me. I may well be back in a couple years after the next election, possibly in government. In many of the roles that I am currently considering, I may also be called upon to visit politicians in the course of my duties.
So I am now on the record as leaving. I've not formally given notice, but that is just a technicality really.
Today I have gone around visiting various MPs and Senators and staff telling them that I wont be back when Parliament reconvenes in mid-August. Most are surprised, and are quite hopeful that I will still be around in one capactiy or another. Everyone understands, and nobody is the least bit hostile. In many cases we wind up having a nice chat about things generally, and my hand has been shaken so many times I think it may constitute a workout. By the end of today I expect all of the MPs and Senators will know.
Some people have asked what will happen with the demographic work that I do after I leave. There will be a new census next month and I may wind up doing some work with the new data on a freelance basis.
As an additional boost, I heard from an agency who said one potential employer is very keen to meet me and wanted to see my CV. This is good news.
This doesn't mean everything is fine now. Part of me is in shock I think (shock can be combined with positive things I suppose.) And I know that there will be negatives in any new job and plenty of things I need to work out that have nothing to do with work. I do feel better having drawn a line in the sand though. The gloom isn't gone, but it's not apparent right now.
I left work mid afternoon yesterday to fly to Dubbo. It's not quite as cosmopolitan as most of the places I've been recently, but it's where I am now. I did pushups in front of the Old Dubbo Gaol and in front of the Village Bakery Cafe, the first bakery ever to win the Great Australian Meat Pie competition twice. My cheese and bacon pie for breakfast was very satisfying.
Today I gave a presentation on my demographic work which everyone loved and the whole thing went very well. I think I may send it to my American contact so he knows the kind of work I do.
I ran into a former Deputy Prime Minister in Sydney Airport yesterday. I knew him from when I first came down to Canberra and he asked what I was doing now, we chatted about how Julia Gillard and her party are really struggling, and he also asked where I was worshipping now in Canberra.
This guy was know for be quite openly religious and I had discussed the prospect of the priesthood with him. He is a lot more conservative and a lot more happy clappy than I am. I never told him about the rugby team I play on or about being in the Mardi Gras parade because I feel it would be an odd conversation.
And I realised that through Lent I scarcely set foot in a church. That's a record for me. But I think I am needing some space away at the moment.
In the airport I also spoke to a high ranking officer in the NSW Fire Brigade. He's been at it for 28 years and loves it, and says apparently there are firefighter exchanges to overseas countries which would be nice. I'll be doing more looking into things next week.
Off to Sydney now! Tomorrow I may be modelling for a Convicts poster. We will see how it goes.
I also swung by my old university and went up to the history department. My MA thesis supervisor is now the department head and he was recently in Australia studying cattle ranches in the Northern Territory in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as compared to the same experience in Canada. (Can you see why I decided a career in academia was probably not for me?) I may be seeing him if he comes to Canberra and introducing him to one of our Senators who knows more about cattle in the Northern Territory than anyone else I know.
An e-mail arrived today from America. It was from a guy who is part of a consultancy that uses data and demographics at a far more sophisticated and detailed level than I do. They have data goes way beyond the census and includes consumer information. I don't know how they get it, but it is far beyond what I do and it does interest me. These guys have helped target political campaigns just like I do, and have applied their analysis in commercial areas too. I've done pretty well starting up a demographic project on my own time with no support and part of me wondered if the fact that I have done similar work to them on such an independent basis would possibly be a window of opportunity in career terms.
I've gone on about having slightly itchy feet, but the idea of moving overseas again and starting over from nothing like I have done so many times before is really a non-starter for me. But if had set up opportunity to move into (even for just a few months) I think the experience would be great, and would mean I had reached a solid five on the list of countries I've lived in. I always preferred my holidays to be working holidays anyway.
Well, this is all just an idea now. It may not be practical, but even the idea of it has put me in a good mood.
I'm off to dinner with some high school friends tonight whom I've not seen in years. Hooray for Facebook!
I also discovered that I can do a pretty good workout doing circuit training, using the equipment at the local playground to do pullups, using the local picnic tables to do bench jumps and doing pushups in the surf and so on. There should be plenty of crossfitesque ways to keep myself from getting bored.
I wrote a media release, applied my demographic work to save the campaign a few thousand dollars and re-jigged the direct mail program, and closed out the day by spending about an hour standing on the side of the road holding a campaign sign and waving at traffic. We got more waves than fingers, which is a good sign, but a lot of people are just polite and will wave at you if you wave at them. It doesn't mean they are voting for you.
Waving at rush hour traffic is a pretty standard campaign tactic and I think it is a pretty easy way to raise your visibility. (One campaign I worked on a while back hired half a dozen backpackers to don t-shirts and support the cause at the morning rush hour.) A lot of people will wave back, some will give you a thumbs up, some will shout support. Of course, some will also give you the finger (it's hard to tell if they are being hostile to you and your candidate or whether they are just hostile in general) and others will yell abuse at you.
One man yelled out the window as he passed "tell that fat bastard to lose some weight" (our candidate is not the slimmest of politicians) and another yelled at me to "get a real job" and then speculated about the kind of people I enjoy having sex with.
A car full of girls whilstled as they drove past, though whether that was at me or at the photo of the candidate or just a general whistle was not clear.
Also, there has been a lot of scorn poured on the Prime Minister's proposal that there should be a citizen's assembly to discuss climate change. Twitter has lit up with people decrying the proposal as "the biggest load of shit i've ever heard" and pointing out that we already have a citizens assembly. We just normally call it Parliament. For a party that is being criticised as being all talk and no action, proposing the creation of a new body to talk about issues was a pretty glaring error.
I travelled there for work last week to talk to the local candidate and campaign team at a meeting they were having. While I was there, I learned a couple of things.
One thing I learned was that it's kind of fun to tell people what to do.
Sometimes I get to do this in my job, but it has been a while since I've had the opportunity. In giving my analysis of the political and demographic background of the electorate of Dawson and on how they could best use said analysis, I spoke, and a room full of local political campaigners and grandees listened. Nobody asked me to fix things that are not my responsibility, nobody got into petty arguments of no significance, and nobody went off on silly rants. I had information and expertise, and I presented it. There were petty arguments and silly rants after my presentation as the meeting carried on and they talked about other subjects, but by then I had pretty much switched off. I was not expected to participate in the kind of things that cause me to feel work stabulence at times, and busied myself reading the local paper instead.
The conclusion: A lot of the time, lecturing is better than listening.
In reading through the local paper, I noticed a lot of job adverts. Most of them were for tradesmen. Engineers, technicians, miners, heavy equipment operators, and just about anything that requires you to wear a high visibility vest is in high demand. Not much in my field though. My job and most other jobs that interest me are generally restricted to specific places, generally in large cities. So I asked myself what I would do for a living if for some reason I had to relocate to a place like Mackay. There are plenty of jobs there that I am not trained or equipped for, and I think that would cover most things I read in the papers and most businesses listed in the local yellow pages. There wasn't much call for political advisors. So what would I do for a crust?
I would probably end up doing something at an entry level a few rungs below what I currently do, something that required me to be retrained (I suspect most people wouldn't care that I once wrote a Master's thesis on British Conservatism and the Women's Suffrage Debates, 1910-1928), or starting up something on my own.
Then I noticed that there are a few gyms in Mackay and the surrounding region that offer personal training. Is that an option? Or if I picked up a Crossfit qualification, I could open an affiliate in a garage and be the only Crossfit connection for a long distance. Having learned that I like telling people what to do, could I combine this with my interest in physical things and lead people in getting into shape? I have enjoyed putting together a running program that has led a number of my work friends towards running a half marathon.
Perhaps if I was to radically change career directions, this is what I would do.
Knowing me, I would want to be picky about who I took on to train. I would find it frustrating to deal with lazy people who expected results without work or people who didn't take their training seriously. I would also probably get tired of dealing with some of the really full on gym people.
It would be a huge change, but not unfeasible.
Work was reasonable today. I am going to Mackay on Thursday to train up a local campaign on my demographic work. There was a bit of busy work but overall things got done.
Yesterday the market dropped enough for the price of a brain testing and analysis company whose revenues have grown throughout the financial crisis and I picked up some shares. I now have pretty much my entire net worth invested in the market. There is very little spare cash around. Lucky I don't have much in the way of expenses before I am next paid.
Another housing inquiry was made today, for a house on a street I lived on one year ago before the current Chez Canuck. Small world.
More playing with geography and demographics, which meant I go so into my work that I failed to notice a group of colleagues had assembled for dinner in our board room. It also meant no gym today, which is ok because I have got some pretty sore arms after yesterday's exertions.
One of the runners in the running group is considering the half marathon. Frankly, I don't think she's up to it, but if she wants to have a go, I'll help her train provided that she takes it very seriously. No easy runs in the park. She's got just six weeks to build up her endurance and increase the distance she can do. In fact, it's really just five if she is going to taper off like she should in the week before. If I give her a hand it will take me away from my own running, so if she's going to get slack at all it will really piss me off.
I think I'll work out at home tonight. Prison workout again perhaps with a core focus. Here come planks and crunches.
On the run home yesterday whilst flush with endorphiny goodness, for some reason my thoughts turned to a prayer of an unknown Confederate Soldier from the American Civil War.
( Theological stuff behind cut )
As it happens, I've generally gotten the easier part of each pair in my life. But from time to time, it's good to be brought down a bit so you can appreciate the other half. Maybe I've been allowing myself to get complacent or smug. Having to find a new place to live isn't exactly an affliction, but when the dust settles (and it is) it may serve as a reminder of how good I've got it.
Maps were made today, which will keep me busy with my demographic work.
TW: 10 Parliament hill sets (10 situps, run up the hill, 10 burpees, run down the hill)
Then walk home to walk back tomorrow morning.
Ooooooh Spicks and Specks is on!
I wrote a few reports today and plan to continue doing so. It's been a good week so far, and things have been pretty orderly though between televisions and chattering colleagues and ringing phones it was a whelming (i.e. not quite overwhelming) cacophony at times.
TW: 10 thrusters, 20 bosu situps, 20 pushups. Five rounds. Then for dessert, 10 pullups, 10 dips. Five rounds. Then for coffee, 50 shoulder presses done one arm at a time, 50 chest presses done one arm at a time. I tried starting off with jumping rope as prescribed in a Crossfit workout, but failed. I managed about 27 before first having to stop due to getting out of sync with my jumps, but then kept stumbling after one or two. It was going to take forever to get to 100, and I probably would have gotten a severe case of stabulence before that.
Pizza was had tonight on a base that the good cashier at Coles gave me for free because it wouldn't scan. Oh yeah! I was already high on endorphins and then got the high of feeling like I got a deal. Case in point for me being a bit cheap.
Afterwards dinner was being had at a Turkish place nearby. It's been a long week and a long day. I wanted to go briefly for a drink (the wine was provided by a local winery that is quite well renowned (not that I know anything about wine) and to say hello to a few people but I had no intention to stay for dinner.
But people wanted to know why I wasn't staying for dinner, and I felt like I had to account for it with something better than "I'd rather go home and not have to socialise at the end of a long week." I said I had already made other plans. In a good natured way I was asked "What's her name?" I'm not much good at lying, especially not under those circumstances (boisterous personality guy had already jokingly grabbed my ass) and after being pushed a bit more I wound up saying "I'd rather not talk about it." It was quite agitating when the subject wasn't dropped right away, I went into "screen saver mode", and got a bit snippy at one of my colleagues and eventually said "Are you f*cking deaf? I said I don't wan't to talk about it."
I don't think any offense was taken, and we reverted to talking pleasantly about work things as I finished my wine and then left.
Still, the whole thing would have been much simpler if I had just said I was planning on going home for a quiet evening. It was a stupid thing to lie about, but I felt I had to.
At least I managed to get a home workout in. Ahhhhhhh redemption in physical strain!
TW: 20 burpees, 1 pushup, 19 burpees, 2 pushups... 1 burpee, 20 pushups
minxyminou helped by casting her professional eye over my CV. Apparently it wasn't total rubbish, so with a few changes I sent it in along with a cover letter I put together in about fifteen minutes. The closing date for applications was yesterday but I suspect if I'm right for this job they won't rule me out for that. Still, I didn't want to push it any further than that, so I made sure to send it in before close of business.
I know I can leave my current job. I'm not sure I want to, and I'm not sure I will just yet, but at least now I feel like I've done something positive rather than just whinge. It struck me that leaving Parliament would mean less chance to do my demographic work, but after a bit of thought, I realised I could probably continue it on a consulting basis. I suspect the party would still be interested in this analysis, and I could do it outside of my regular duties. It might even become a second income stream. I had thought about incorporating a company to do my demographic work in exchange for money. Part of me thinks that if I provide something for free, people attach to it the value that they paid.
I manned the fort alone at work this evening until I was able to leave for the drinks down the hill. Often social functions can be a lot of work, but these generally seem to go fine. I seem to feel comfortable in the elements. But if I'm not prepared, or out of my comfort zone, I will struggle.
I do like my current job, and the people I work with, but part of me feels like I've hit a wall. Dealing with complaints (legitimate or spurious) from people in the public domain, being called away for days or weeks at a time on short notice, being asked to take an interest in a very wide array of issues that don't interest me, and having to be political is taking its toll.
I've long been interested in politics, and many people assume that working in my job must be fascinating. At times it is. Overall it's not a bad job to have, but I've been working in politics in a very similar role constantly since 2006, and it's been my primary occupation since 2004. Maybe I've had enough for a while.
The last couple of weeks I have felt very unmotivated, and I've felt as though I'm not really good at what I do. (Of course, defining what I do, or what I'm meant to do is a complicated task in itself.) I find I am far more motivated at and interested in the gym or in other aspects of my life. Listening to people complain is wearing, and a couple of times this week, I was nearly worn out. A lot of what I do is dealing with things I can't fix, but somehow, saying "that has nothing at all to do with us" is a politically unsatisfactory answer.
Many of my colleagues have very focussed duties at work. I don't. I am responsible for a wide array of issues, none of which I am really good at. I have found it harder recently to get into any of my duties. I do have my demographic stuff to do, but nobody else quite seems to share my interest. I am already dreading the prospect that I will do a thorough analysis for the new crop of candidates and it will be ignored.
I've not yet worked out whether or not I will be able to go with the Convicts to the Bingham Cup. It will take me a way form work for two sitting weeks in an election year, and that may be a non starter. In 2008 I couldn't go because of another election campaign. They trump everything. There will be an election this year and I know it will impose on my life outside of work. I don't know when it will happen or where it will take me. If I go to HQ it will be ok. If I am sent to a country town where I am in unfamiliar surrounds with nobody around that I know or that knows me, I may snap. If I am sent somewhere where there is a three cornered constest and I have to campaign against what I see as my own side (I am, after all, a Coalitionist), I have considered quitting.
New jobs are posted frequently on the e-mail system at work that would keep me in politics but change the role and the office. That might be good. I"m not interested in moving away from Canberra or Sydney unless it is for a spectacularly good job, and a lot of these jobs would isolate me in a country town or a capital city where I don't know anyone.
Late last week a colleague e-mailed me a job that he thought would be a good fit. It is a policy advisor role in an industry association dealing with a subject that I have worked with to a degree in my current role. I would have to improve my knowledge on much of the specifics, and it would certainly be more detailed and technical than my current role, but it would be focussed in one area. This would mean no fielding questions on issues out of left field and probably considerably less dealing with anonymous timewasters.
It would mean moving to Sydney, it would probably mean more money, and it would mean a very steep learning curve. I suspect I won't get the job, but looking at the criteria, I am suited to it and I think they may think so too. (Working as a political advisor to the leader of a political party sounds dynamite on a CV.) If I was offered the job I'm not entirely sure I would take it. I always thought I would stay where I was until the next election, and that would still be a good way to go.
Applying for this would be a good exercise though. I've not updated my CV since 2006 and I haven't applied for a job since 2004. I did pretty well at building up something from nothing career wise when I came to the UK and then Australia, and it's been a while since I really considered what my skill set is. If nothing else, maybe applying for this job will show me what I have done.
It's called Tabata and the idea is that you work for 20 seconds and rest for 10. That goes on for 4 minutes. I used less weight than I normally would and went for as many reps as possible.
TW: 123 incline press, 93 deadlifts, 133 bicep curls, 136 shoulder press.
Not bad for sixteen minutes work.
I also finally got back to doing my Ainslie/Currahee run in the evening after it had cooled off a bit, and made it in a record time of 47:05. So it's been a pretty active day. Just as well given I slept until 11:30.
I also prepared some maps for a presentation I'll be giving soon. A whole bunch of people who have never encountered the demographic work I do are going to hear about it, and I want to make sure it cuts through to them. A bunch of new people may be more inclined to take on what I offer.
Demographic reports were written today. I've not done this for quite some time and it was good to get back to my speciality. No letters or e-mails to cranks, just something I feel I'm good at. Bring on more of this please.
My work running group had another run today. I could quite enjoy being in a position where I get to lead others to something (especially if it's something I'm good at) but I could also find it frustrating if the others are more interesting in being gossipy and chatty rather than running. So far people are happy to run, but I think I'll be sensitive to people not taking things seriously. If it's a matter of me constantly running slow so people can chit chat, I'll lose patience and run on my own. I generally do prefer to work out alone, but it's not bad getting others into it.
Maybe it's just good for the ego.
TW: (After the run) 100 bicep curls with the big bar, 50 sideways bicep curls with dumbells, 50 pullups, 50 upright rows, 50 lawn mowers left and right.
Good news. It seems like some of the conclusions from my analysis of the electorates of Higgins and Bradfield were confirmed by the election results. The vote in many areas that I estimated performed beyond their demographic profile in 2007 dropped, and it rose in areas that I estimated performed below what their profile suggested. It's encouraging. I feel like I got it right.
TW: Legs - 200 leg presses done slowly and frequently holding a static and stressful position for a 20 count, 100 leg openers, 100 leg closers, dragging 140kg by a chain 20m across the floor and back, 152 stories on the stair climber.
Dragging that weight was tougher than it looked, and it burned. Oh yes, it burned.
Right now on SBS there is a guy hiking across a volcano in Hawaii, and he paused to say that a sulphur dioxide vent with noxious looking gas rising out of the rock was an indication that there was flowing lava just under where he was standing. WELL THEN WHY ARE YOU STANDING THERE MR EX SAS GUY??? Oh, and here's another gem.
"Test it with your boot. If your boot melts, it's too hot to cross."
I was advised by a colleague today to get an ABN and start doing some freelance work with the demographic profiling project I've worked up. ( Read more but don't steal my ideas... )
More on this as things develop.
TW: Legs - 300 leg presses, 100 openers, 100 closers, 183 stories on the stair climber.
I like what I do, they like what I do, and it's a very good environment to work in compared with what a lot of my colleagues face. My business cards describe me as a "Non-Portfolio Advisor" and as soon as I work out what that means I will report back. I have a very loosely defined title and role with a shadow minister. Overall my duties are not clearly spelled out, and this means that often I find myself underemployed.
I've developed a side project on my own dealing with demographic analysis. They've given me pretty free rein to work on it, and having something that I've developed on my own does give me a sense of usefulness that would probably be lacking otherwise. It's also the kind of thing that has potential applications outside of politics.
I'm not sure how long I'll want to be here. Once upon a time I wanted a career in politics for myself, but having seen the toll it takes I'm happy being anonymous in the background. It's a job that comes with little job security and even though my face isn't in front of the cameras, I still pay a personal price when political events beyond my control impact the rest of my life. There is a reason these kind of jobs tend to have a high turnover. I'm pretty much secure until the next election, and then we will see.
Today's Workout: Chest - 100 Bench Press (up to 90kg), 100 Chest Press w Dumbells, 100 Weighted Pushups (i.e. Pushups with weights on my back.) Part of me hopes that recording my workouts here will focus me.