Run, Climb, Ride and wondering about the roundabout

It was my third consecutive weekend here in Canberra. I’m missing Melbourne, particularly Tress and LBJ, the little four legged furry ball.

On Saturday morning it was cold and foggy and I had planned to go for a long slow run. It was foggy when I wanted to go out and so waited for a little while. It stayed that way an hour later so I thought I’d just go. I went up Marcus Clarke way, thinking of going past Commonwealth Avenue across the lake but somehow kept taking wrong turns. I finally found my way there, and headed towards the National Library. The way back is more straight forward although it was still a bit of a loopy route. Google Map had said the run would be about just under 8km but the Runkeeper App I had on said it was just over 10km. The wrong turns and loop-arounds must have added those 2+ km.

Back home and after shower and laundry, Kiddo and I went The Front cafe in Lyneham for an early lunch. That place was teeming, and the eclectic hipster look and feel took me a while to settle into. Kiddo and I caught up with what her Sydney trip was like and it was good just spending a little bit of time over a nice lunch and just talk.

Later that arvo I went to the Civic on my push bike, got my SIM card swapped to fit into an iPhone 5 I had picked up from Gumtree to replace my iPhone 4, which was starting to require 3-4 charges per day and going dead once in the 35% battery zone… That done, I headed to PJ O’Reilly’s to watch the Hawks v Bombers game. Tress later texted to say the game wasnt on TV so it must have been a Foxtel only game, which is just as well for me at that pub. There were only 2-3 other people though so it felt strange to be watching a biggish AFL game in a pub with that level of atmosphere.

That night Kiddo went to Micaiah’s home for a family birthday party and I did a soup at home before settling down for more House of Cards episodes.

Sunday – I was at Crossroads again but Marcus Reeves wasn’t preaching. He was there amongst the congregation though. Simon preached and it was good too. I also met and spoke with a few other people – David who’s with the Crime Commission, John and Robi, an American couple doing work with Defence and Christina a nurse at Calvary Hospital.

Later I headed to Civic again for some grocery shopping, then home for lunch with Kiddo. We had the leftovers Micaiah brought back from the birthday party. The Hainanese Chicken Rice and Chicken Rendang were delicious… After some ironing I headed out, drove to the War Memorial, and walked up Mount Ainslie. The air was crisp and cool, there were lots of people going up and down (many with their dogs) and the sunny day made for a terrific walk in a spot like that. I spent a little bit of time at the top, walked around before coming down and heading home.

Back home it was getting ready for the week again… and it was good to get back to that routine of having Tress on Skype, watching Master Chef, trying to get LBJ to respond to me on Skype… I went to bed early when the show finished, and was on my push bike at -1.5 degree this morning on the way back into the office, when I wondered what the next few days or weeks would look like… whether the roundabout continues…


Run, settling in, hopes, rear view mirror…

I woke this morning and found the temperature at 1 deg. Yay… anything higher than 0 deg is a yay… especially when it isn’t wet/raining. So I went for a run through the usual route. I found myself not attuned to watching out for kangaroos or rabbits like I did when I first moved here. I was starting to just go through the paces, with the novelty having worn off somewhat I guess.

For a Friday, today has been busy. In fact this week has been busy. Thankfully my mind is less distracted by possibilities of Melbourne roles this week so work wise it has become more productive and has gone by more quickly than I feared it would. It also means however that tomorrow will be a weekend in Canberra by myself. I had wanted to return to Melbourne but catching with Kiddo would be good, with her having been away to Sydney all week. So Tress and I thought I could be here this weekend and then drive to Melbourne next weekend.

Yesterday I did a presentation. On some government buying powers and its ability to grant indemnities. Sleep inducing stuff for most. It went ok I think. My bit is only small one – maybe 8 slides out of a total of 30. The main presenter was the CFO who was a bit of a larrikin and court jester. He included a TED Talk clip (on fraud) so when it was my turn, I said I didn’t try searching for a TED Talk clip on indemnities (laughter) and if I did, I might have fallen asleep while searching (laughter again). It’s always good to start a presentation with a bit of laugh… the rest went ok, I was relieved but surely there will be more to come…

This morning there was a story about Australia Post doing voluntary redundancies on a big scale. Made me wonder why I was looking to them to get back to work in Melbourne… I’m beginning to think I should really forget about Melbourne for a while, hard as it is to give up hopes of being  there with Tress in Melbourne again.

Cold House of Cards

English: Kevin Spacey, at the HBO post-Emmys p...

Kiddo subscribed to Netflix a few months back. When we moved into our apartment and got the internet in, up and running, we got the chrome cast in too and so we can stream stuff onto that little tv we got for the apartment. It’s still a good 32 inch thing but compared to the 60 inch one in Vicki Street, this looked tiny. It has all the basic bells and whistles though so that’s good enough for us.

With kiddo away and me all alone in the apartment, Netflix has become my close and constant companion each night after work. I’d even continue watching on the ipad when I climbed into bed after watching Master Chef “with Tress”.

The content? House of Cards. What. A. Gem.

I had watched bits and pieces of HoC on Foxtel back then in Vicki but I didn’t watch the whole thing. So I decided to start from scratch, put up with watching stuff (episodes/parts) I had watched before, just so the narrative flows.

And so I started watching Season 1, Episode 1 of House of Cards on Netflix, on Monday night. Last night, just the second night, I’m on Episode 7. I skipped ABC’s “The Killing Season“. Kevin Rudd labeling Gillard a liar and Gillard’s description of Rudd’s bastardry – based on real life it may have been – are no match for the Machiavellian mechanisms of Congressman Francis (Frank) Underwood. Or the cold, calculated outcome based ambitions of Mrs Underwood. I can’t imagine anyone more suited to the roles of Mr and Mrs Underwood than Kevin Spacey and Robyn Wright. I’m hooked, and would in these remainder cold Canberra nights, move around under the shadows of the house of cards.

I think I only went to sleep close to 12am last night. May be it’s the coffee I had while at the conference at the Australian Government Solicitor’s office at Barton yesterday arvo. Something had to accompany the banana cake on serve and the Nespresso machine was sitting majestically in a corner so I gave in. That was around 3.15pm – way past my coffee curfew hour. Maybe it’s the sheer adrenaline rushing through my veins as I wallow in the Underwoods’ machinations.

Either way, it kept me occupied and distracted when all alone on a cold Canberra night.

The cold and hopes of home

It was -0.2 degree this morning when I was riding in. It “felt like” -2.6 degrees however. Every single one of my fingers felt like -2.6. Some of them were threatening to leave me, i.e fall off. I had knitted gloves on and I don’t think most of my fingers liked them. They might go on strike soon and demand leather ones.

As cold as it was – especially when riding on the bike – it was refreshing. It felt good, if you don’t take into account sore finger tips.

I have a course this arvo across town and I’m not sure if I should ride. It’s about 25 minutes if I do. I had asked for cab charges yesterday and I’d probably use them to go and return to the office after, and get on my bike to ride home then.

It felt a bit weird last night, being at home all alone. Kiddo’s away to Sydney and Tress had returned to Melbourne earlier in the morning. Thank God for Skype yet again because I was soon “with Tress” again, as we watched Master Chef, having prepared my brekky and lunch earlier. I had left the office late but everything was done quickly and it was good to settle down for a restful night.

I’m still pegging my wishes/hopes on a Melbourne role soon. In as much as things are beginning to settle down here in Canberra and I’m enjoying the work and lifestyle, the issue of being away from home and Tress continues to bug me. She enjoyed coming up to Canberra the last weekend so that’s a plus but the recent pokes from Melbourne have caused me to crane my neck to have a peek across the borders somewhat, and have my hopes stirred.

Maybe it’s just to be savored – this opportunity to live and work in a big country town like Canberra while still having my home in Melbourne, a city I have come to love.

Company in the roundabout

I drove in to work for the first time this morning. I had sent Tress to the airport earlier and a week earlier over an office morning tea some people mentioned a car park on the north side of the building which is available for anyone without charge and free spaces are usually available if one gets in reasonably early. As I had dropped Tress of just before 7.30, I got in just before 7.45 and so there were plenty of space. Getting around Canberra is quick and easy. Of course, the size of both the population and geographical spread makes it all possible. The cold -5 degree morning also provide an incentive to just drive straight in instead of going home and then walking or riding in.

I had left a conference just before 5 last Friday, went home, changed and then went to the airport to pick her up. She’d be spending the whole weekend here in Canberra and for we’d be celebrating our wedding anniversary in the nation’s capital for the first time. We left the airport and headed straight to Dickson to meet Kiddo and Micaiah for dinner. Later that night we watched a horror movie on Netflix (“The Conjuring“), scaring the daylights out of ourselves.

On Saturday we went to the farmers’ market (Canberra Region Farmers Market), then visited the National Arboretum, had dinner in the city and then headed home to play cards.

On Sunday, Kiddo left home just after brekky to head for Sydney with Micaiah for a week. She’d be in a conference from Sunday to Wednesday and then spend a couple of days after just sightseeing I guess. Tress and I did some housekeeping work (laundry, cleaning and vacuuming etc) and then went to Belconnen for some grocery shopping before going to Kingston for lunch and then headed to Mount Ainslie to catch the view until sunset. It was then Master Chef viewing at home before we retired for the night.

We left home around 7.15 this morning and right now, in between getting some work done incorporating a new policy into our key business process and preparing an in house training session later this week, I’m thinking about the weekend Tress and I just had and wondering what lies ahead. Would she do more of this (now that she’s enjoyed the weekend) or would I continue to visit Melbourne with long drives home? Or would work opportunities turn up in Melbourne?

Having Tress with me on the ride in the roundabout has momentarily taken my mind off the exit points. Those were very good moments.

Soaking it in

As I work, walk home, watch the ABC, wake and walk – wade – to work again, I feel I am almost soaking it all in.

After the obligatory Master Chef viewing last night, I continued watching telly. The ABC had the second episode of “The Killing Season” on last night and Kiddo said it’s like watching a train wreck. She’s right. It’s ugly but one stays on to watch the carnage anyway. I have a better sense now of how some of the mandarins may think and speak and when some of them were interviewed last night, I sort of better get what they were on about. Still, the ALP’s faceless men and Shorten did come out looking very bad. Gillard looked the worse of the two disastrous PM’s under Labor in that time. I finished the whole thing, would you believe…

In bed, I resumed watching Ben Carson‘s clips for another half an hour or so before going to sleep.

This morning it poured again. In fact it was bucketing down just as I was about to leave home. I was again grateful for my “waterproof” shoes which kept my feet dry but I did have to hop around puddles quite a bit.

I guess all this “soaking it in” – literally as well as metaphorically absorbing life in a remote, almost detached capital city – did take my mind of what may be happening in Melbourne as far as prospects are concerned. It’s almost I’m happy – for now – to soak in being in the roundabout.

Wet Canberra morning – a bit like Melbourne

I’m still in the roundabout, with yet another exit thrown in. Again, this was a lead which came up a couple of months before. I had applied for a role in Unisuper but the process sort of got foggy. I later heard from the grapevine that a nebulous reorganisation was underway and the whole thing fizzled out. Yesterday a HR manager rang to ask if I was still interested in the role. I updated her of my current scenario and she later sent me the position description. It looked very similar to what I was doing at SP so I emailed her to say I was interested.

In spite of how things appear to be going relatively well here, I’m constantly reminded it is only a one year contract role. When I negotiated the offer, my manager had leaned on a 9 month contract as my predecessor had left in February this year. I said I’d be keen only if it was a 12 month contract and he alluded to the possibility of having 2 persons doing the job for the overlapping 3 months and so a 12 month contract it was. This suggests as things stand, the likelihood of an extended role is slim and it is more likely the previous lawyer would return in February next year and my role would finish by May that year, as set out in my offer letter.

All this meant I have become very interested in the AP and Unisuper leads and in spite of my sentiments for NBA and Canberra generally I’d have to seriously give those options a go.

I don’t know how this stacks up from the perspective of my relationship with the Lord, and what His plans are for me in all this. Maybe there aren’t specific reasons/causes for all this. Maybe they’re just hoops He has allowed to be put in my path for one reason or another. The waiting and trusting exercise continues I guess. I’m just grateful the waiting and trusting can happen in a different context, namely, while I’m employed and able to spend time with Kiddo again – getting to know her life in Canberra better, and getting to know her friend too especially Micaiah.

It was very wet this morning and I decided to walk to work. I’m grateful for the umpteenth time for my “waterproof” walking shoes. I first got them 4-5 years ago mainly to walk LBJ when it’s winter and wet in Melbourne. People often say Canberra is  nowhere near as wet as Melbourne but I guess rain does appear in a city where many have lived for so long and this morning I felt the full force of a wet Canberra morning. I got in with dry feet though thanks to those shoes. Where those dry feet will take their next steps in days/weeks to come would be very interesting. For now, they remain on the roundabout.

Big Roundabout in Canberra (topical metaphor)

I’ve had my first full weekend in Canberra since the move just less than a month ago. I had been returning to Melbourne the 3 weekends before. While it was restful physically, being away from home in Melbourne wasn’t restful in another sense. I was glad Jonathan and Ruth (with little Micah) visited Tress on Saturday. I guess it gave her something positive for the weekend to focus on/revolve around. Things have been happening at her workplace too. Resignations and redundancies have caused re-organisation of reporting lines. Her boss had resigned and she now reports to someone she had had to work a little bit on to get him across some work issues so it’s kind of awkward I guess. I think the overall sentiment of a retailer struggling and the specter of tight cash flow is just as big a dampener than anything else – maybe more so than anything else.

Alone here in Canberra, I filled the weekend with errands and activities, mainly of the housekeeping variety. Well, alone in the sense that Tress isn’t here, of course. There’s kiddo around which is a great compensating factor. In an odd sense that made me feel even worse for Tress. I’m sure she wishes she could be here with Kiddo and I.

I went for a run on Saturday morning, taking a leisurely route to the National Botanic Garden. I only went for the run around 9 am, as it was very cold again earlier in the morning. Then it was laundry and vacuuming and then I took a ride to Canberra Center –  partly as a continuing familiarization activity and partly to do some grocery shopping. Kiddo and I had arranged to meet later for lunch before she went for a movie with Micaiah so we met up at a dumpling house in Canberra Centre, just next to the Papparich restaurant. After lunch I went home, and after putting away the grocery, made myself a coffee and then sat down for an online test. This test is what prompted this particular journal entry…

It’s been a very mixed journey to date. Aussie Post had had a role brewing since February. My recruiter started talking to me about this potential role back then but things took some time and on the same day I was offered the Canberra role, he actually texted me to say they (AP) was finally ready to interview. I rang almost immediately and spoke to him and could only laugh at the irony of the timing but the logistics of moving to Canberra with this AP thing brewing away were very confusing in my mind. Waiting on the Lord brings interesting times but this messes with my idea of God’s leading in ways which only a positive attitude can deal with. The recruiter threw me the bird in hand line, an idea which I had already clung on to, being desperate to return to work. I hadn’t been working for nearly 3 months at that stage and I was going a bit nuts. So I actually met the AP lawyer (who would be my manager if I’m offered the role) the Friday (15/5) before I left for Canberra the following Monday (18/5) morning.

The second interview with that lawyer, another lawyer (who leads a different division) and a business GM happened earlier last week. It was via Skype which threw me off a little bit. Being interviewed at home wasn’t ideal – it didn’t put my mind in a right place. Also, the online test was a bit odd. I had forgotten to take my reading glasses home so struggled a little bit with my usual glasses, which while is a multi focal pair, aren’t the glasses I usually wear for work stuff. At the end of the test (just over 2 hours) I was exhausted, relieved and was a little confused.

I’m confused because I don’t know what to make of the whole thing.

Except for the fact that I’m away from home in Melbourne and more importantly, being away from Tress, I’m liking it here in Canberra. The work is interesting, colleagues are very nice, I have my own office and I work very reasonable hours. I get to work inside 10 minutes and return each night feeling “clean” because I didn’t have to trudge through crowded stations, platforms, trains and heavy traffic to get home so I have more time and mental space to enjoy the evening at home each night. Everything is within 10 minutes ride and the further places are within 10 minutes drive. Kiddo and I decided to get out yesterday arvo for some sun and fresh air and it took us all of 10 minutes to get to the Old Bus Depot at Kingston. All these are making Canberra quite pleasant.

Other than Tress, the things I miss are Scruff, the home garden, the bigger spaces at home in Melbourne, church, Madame Kwong and some friends there.

It is also confusing because I want to do the right thing by the NBA. They incurred time and money to get me here and the understanding is I’d stay a year (contract duration). I had a chat/catch up with Jason before I left and he very helpfully (being in Public Service himself) assured me people in the Public Service come and go all the time and often new starters leave after a very short while. Apparently should I leave after only a very short while, it’d be a common scenario – something people in the Public Service see and do all the time. This was very helpful to know but it still bugs me should I be offered a role and decide to accept it. This is all assuming I’d be offered a role. That is by no means a given. I guess if I wasn’t offered the role I’d be happy to stay on in Canberra but then again the hope of being able to go home and be with Tress again has to be put on hold.

With all this in mind, after the test I went for another ride around the area. Kiddo, Micaiah and I later watched “Downfall” (again)…

On Sunday I went to Crossroads church in Braddon (only a few minutes ride away). Marcus Reeves preached on Colossians  2 (cleverly/cheekily titled the Supplements Scandal) and I met a family who were also straddling Canberra/another city (Sydney/Coffs Harbour). I guess my experience of getting in and out of Canberra is a common one, shared by many in Canberra. Mostly, people come to live in Canberra entirely for work related reasons and leave their lives in other cities on very temporary basis, picking up fragments of home whenever they return.

I rode to Canberra Centre again after church, then went home, did some ironing, cooked lunch and then watched the first half of the Collingwood v GWS game before going out to Kingston with Kiddo. When we returned, I went out for a walk around Haigh Park, headed towards Black Mountain, and returned after about an hour when it had just turned dark. After fixing my brekky and lunch for the next day, I settled down to watch some telly (MasterChef) and exchanged FB messages with Tress. Watching live footy at the G and being with Tress would be great but walks around Haigh Park and rides around the CBD are also very pleasant.

The other thing about Canberra is its roundabouts. They’re large and it takes longer before one gets out of a roundabout.

This one would take a while before it becomes clear which exit I take to get out of a roundabout and which direction I’d be headed for.

Riding to forum

I’ve just been thrown back into a labyrinthine maze that makes up the buying rules for my employer. While in private sector, the employer has some delegations of authority, one or more board policies, and maybe a guidance from the user and away a corporate buyer goes to source the product or services. My current employer is a Federal government agency. So it is required to comply with all sorts of legislation, rules, policies, framework, processes etc whenever it wishes to buy something. I was introduced to this warehouse of rules and regulations in my first few days, and this morning I attended a forum (at the National Library and organised by the Department of Finance) and I was reminded again of the careful navigation required. The work will remain interesting I suppose…

Equally interesting is my ride to the National Library. To get there, I had to ride past the Commonwealth Avenue which overlooks the Lake Burley Griffin. I also had to ride around it to get to/from the library. It was surreal – riding when it was between 0 and 1 degree in the morning, on the periphery of the lake. I could get used to this…

To Forum From Forum

During the forum I received a text message which could prove interesting development ahead…