Monday, January 30, 2006

J is for Job

I’ve been doing the odd job application lately. I’m looking both inside and outside the organisation I currently work for because I think it is time to step up and move my career further towards where my interests lie. I really love where I am now, but there has been too much poorly managed change and too many promises about what will await me ‘in the new structure’. I’m very passionate about my work and I want to be somewhere that values that aspect of me and allows me the latitude to apply it effectively. I can do that where I am – my manager is of like mind but I also feel the need to stretch in other directions.

So far I’ve done 5 job application and had 4 interviews – pretty happy with that strike rate, and then today there were 6 positions advertised that I am qualified for, so I may be in for some late evenings again.

I know that at least two of the organisations have contacted my referees – usually a good sign, but I still hate the waiting, especially on a Monday morning.

I’m tired – we had a ‘sick’ weekend with all of us attacked by some subtle bug. No great cold or flu symptoms, just the odd ache and very two lethargic parents accosted by alternately lethargic and manic boys.

A lunchtime nap would go down really well today.

Maybe it’s the weird weather – the height of summer and all it can manage is a weak 25° C, not that I am really complaining when the alternative is usually 40° C. Still, my tomatoes are getting a little confused as to the season, luckily the cucumbers don’t care.

Drivel? Yes. But it is all I can manage today apparently.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

P is for patience

And I have only a little, but my son is learning patience. I however am feeling tired tonight and I don't have the stamina to Blog but maybe this weekend will inspire me a little.

I think its the stitches.

They can go now.

Anytime would be good.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

S is for Sodor

And sod, stuff or screw the lot of them. Sodor is the imaginary island on which Thomas the Tank engine exists. My 4-year old wants to go there for a visit and I have trouble explaining to him that we can’t actually go there.

A similar credibility gap seems to exist in our workplace. There is this imaginary place where everyone does exactly as some people want – including the public. In the imagination of some people I work with we are already on our way there and this is not helped by the inevitable ‘yes’ crew who don’t wish to engage in an intellectually discussion about the best way to achieve our goals. To use a space exploration analogy, it is as if we are being told to prepare for landing on the moon but no one wants to discuss the life support necessities for the crew.

In our case it is more about plans without planning and policy without consultation. Our unit recently got shifted from one portfolio to another, renamed and restructured. I can live with that – I can even applaud the logic that was given for the move. However it was recently revealed by one fellow manager that they want to commence “some kind of policy process and evaluation function” for our agency. Great I said – just the thing for the Policy and Evaluation unit (our unit – for which we have been screaming for the resources to carry out those functions for three years). Makes you wonder whether they actually even read the unit titles in all the shuffling.

Of course I can’t be held responsible for my statements at the moment – I had those teeth taken out yesterday and it is affecting my judgement.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Tooth shall set you free. . .

I had a quiet weekend planned. I was going to borrow a car with a towbar and go get a load of top dresing and spread it on my lawn. But first I had to go see the dentist about a chip off one of my molars. No big problem, just a little patch job and I'd be back at it. Usually I don't even bother with the anesthetic - I figure a little brief pain is easier than the numbness.

1 Hour and two teeth later I staggered from the Dentists and sat in the car wondering if I was safe to drive. Not only did the molar have to be extracted but so did the wisdom tooth beside it. I've ended up with three stiches to boot*.

Needless to say there is not much inspiration for writing today but when not inspired write about why - I figure.

Could not have coffee yesterday or this morning but should be safe this afternoon.

*Boot - oddly apt since that is exactly the object my face appears to have come into contact with.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Something I wrote two years ago today and only just found again tonight. . . (weird coincidence night)

I walked parched earth this morning. So dry even the cracks had cracks of their own, forming intricate fractals of thirst. Even as my steps crumbled the dusty edges of these micro-crevasses, I could feel the shift, the coming change that would obliterate their patterns. The air, which yesterday had seemed so harsh, so bereft of any life, and which had sucked all moisture from my breath, was thick and wet with promise of impending succour for the earth beneath my feet. A honeyed miasma from the paperbarks stifled all but the smell of wetted dust settling from the air, and I walked slowly, allowing the morning to suffuse my body. I once hated the humidity, I fled from it, hiding in cooler climes and air-conditioned offices, revelling in the cold wet of winter and the dry baking summers. The sudden tropical reminder hit me like a cyclone, a whirling of memories and emotions from another time. The breeze on my face is gentle, warm, wet and I walk on. The bothering flies persist with their petty irritations as they orbit me, but the morning is mine to enjoy.

And how!

As my previous post indicated I love coffee. A lot. But It wasn't always that way, and I am a self confessed coffee snob - I only have one cup a day so it better be worthwhile and I'd rather drink water than instant (and that is exactly what I do the rest of the day).

Coffee is something I discovered when I travelled overseas.

I volunteered work for a short while in a country devastated by earthquakes, and while I was there I discovered the overwhelming hospitality that is possible in that part of the world. This tradition includes the drinking of coffee, in the Greek/Turkish style. Thick and rich and sweet.

It has left a lasting impression and since that time I have not tasted any coffee that quite compares. Perhaps this is because of the experiences that accompanied the drinking of the coffee.

It was certainly unique to be in that place and in that time and to sit with people whose language I did not speak, whose culture I did not understand, but to be made to feel welcome, and at home.

The eastern coffee tradition is something that has been used in marketing coffee in Australia, but I somehow see it as very false. There is not the depth of tradition nor the overwhelming sense of hospitality that accompanies the coffee traditions of middle eastern and southern European countries and the feeble attempts of advertisers to portray coffee as the great icon of hospitality lack the essential quality of authenticity.

Coffee will always hold important memories for me and at least in my own home I like people to really enjoy their coffee - it means a bit of work for me, even down to roasting green beans when I run out of the Papua New Guinea fair trade coffee I buy.

I often wish though that traditions grew faster to enrich a culture - I believe Australia is on its way to something unique but its taking its bloody time.

Monday, January 09, 2006

C is for Sacred

Ok, I know, the whole 'C' and 'S' thing, but give me a little artistic license. . .

Ode to a Coffee Bean

Of all the vices human beings have chosen to employ,
There are some that prefer coffee as their favourite to enjoy.
It does not draw in fierce pursuit, the wrath and ire of law,
It is plentiful and thus enjoyed by those both rich and poor.

It’s felicitous aroma stirs the tired and fading workers,
Although in extreme amounts it has been known to rouse berserkers.
It fits snugly in receptacles of ceramic, glass or paper,
It can be served at table or on the run, with biscuit wafer.

In its vegetative life, the bean starts humbly on a tree,
Yet a little gentle handling will soon set the flavour free.
Just a pause within an oven’s blessed heat, let it roast,
The sacred bean is transfigured, a beverage of boast.

A grinding task remains before the ceremony ends,
Fine, medium or course - on this the brewing shall depend.
Espresso pots or plungers, pans and percolators too,
The Greeks, Turks and Armenians prepare it like a stew.

Latte, ‘chino, short or long, royale or macciato,
The varieties spill out in caffeine induced staccato.
For affogato – add ice cream, for Irish – add some liquor,
And when in urgent need of it, drink espresso, ‘cause it’s quicker.

Don’t preach to me the evils of the caffeine hid within,
Or try to sell to me ‘decaf’ stuff – to drink it is a sin.
Dare not serve to me ‘instant’ - that thing they call ‘freeze dried’,
For there is a special place in hell for those that such supply.

© Michael Carroll, 2004

T is for Tired of this place

Some days you just don’t know how things are going to shape up. I feel as up I am in wind-up mode, I’ve been getting a few job interviews from other organisations and I am waiting to see in any result in an offer, but something in me feels as if I need to move out of this environment. I know that the grass is not greener but to continue the pasture analogy I think that it might be a good change to be munching that grass with a different herd.

I realise that I’ve been preparing myself unconsciously for weeks. I’ve cleaned my desk regularly, packed stuff into boxes, taken all my CD’s home, tried to finish up the annoying ‘loose end’ projects.

The shifts that have been going on in our workplace are logical, they make sense to me in terms of the work needing to be done, but the change management process (or lack thereof)and the lack of understanding of the work we are already doing – well, it doesn’t help encourage me about longer term stability and if there is going to be change I’d like it to be on my terms, or at the very least I’d like some input.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

D is Diesel

Well it's been months since I started (and posted) but what can I say - life just can't be blogged sometimes.

The Diesels are in the ascendent within the workplace and their oily machinations have led me to the realisation that ineffectiveness within the public service is in a large part caused by senior managers. Its not intentional on their part, its just that so many of them are career focussed to the point that they will discount the input of their peers because admitting that someone else's idea has merit may somehow detract from your future promotional prospects.

Others are just psychpaths and there is very little you can do about them at all - other than avoid them.

I'm relatively junior in the overall scheme, but I am also a professional who is attempting to develop a professional identity. Because I am a public servant within a police organisation it is a constant frustration to see work done by myself and by professional colleagues, seized upon by, and credited to Police Officers whose only claim to is it by their rank.

I've started being a bit more careful about how I operate in this environment and I'm now releasing papers (with my name attached) rather than just handing over whole generic files of my research and analysis. Whenever I've handed over those files in the past they have either been archived or used as the basis for someone else's promotion.

Usually when archived I get a call 6 months to a year later from some poor fool who has been tasked with doing what I have already done - and being a softy I usually just give them my stuff.

Well I've decided that a "Really Useful Engine" can be really useful without being a doormat for other people's ambitions, and in fact people need to see colleagues as professionals and the only way to do that is to show them. If that means leaving to take up a position in another organisation - well so be it. More on this in the next fortnight with any luck!