Sick and Confused

I think it was in September 1998 when Anwar Ibrahim was sacked by Dr Mahathir. He was later accused of all sorts of trumped up charges and eventually went to jail. I distinctly remember the feelings I had when we heard the news of Anwar’s sacking and later, when we heard the charges against him.

It was a similar sort of feeling when about three years later, we sat at home and watched the twin towers that was the World Trade Centre in New York City, crumble after being hit by two commercial jets.

On each occasion, it was a feeling of unbelief, a sense of being ill, and
wondering what has become of the world we know.

It was the same feeling I had that morning a few days ago, when I saw the news about what our cricketers had done in South Africa. I felt ill, and I felt as though it was all so surreal. I wondered what had happened to Australian sports – what has become of the world as we know it.

I guess the way things have unfolded since then, says a lot about how confused Australian society, and I guess western culture, has become. We are a society where we cant say “that’s wrong” to a child (or anyone else) anymore because apparently that would be to “judge” someone by “our own” standards. And yet we expect “correct” behaviour from public figures like our sportsmen.

Apparently, we are allowed to publicly and collectively disapprove (“judge”) of conduct by someone like David Warner or Steven Smith when they seek an unfair (or even illegal) advantage over opponents but we cannot do the same when one of our own do something obviously wrong. Morality, discarded on one level, appear to still hold on another.

We have become ready accusers to stand waiting to throw the first stone, when we have discarded the rule about adultery. We have not been so ready to ask if we may be guilty of transgressions ourselves so as to ask if we can be throwing the first stone. The accusers have not left one by one, and yet no one is willing to say “neither do I condemn you” or allowed to say “go ahead and sin no more”.

I am sick when I think about why Steve Smith and our Australian cricketers did what they did, but I am even more ill when I consider how confused our society has become.


Lose ends – messy and neat finishes

On Saturday we gave the house a good cleaning, so that it’s a bit less uncomfortable for Kiddo and Mic when they visit over the coming long weekend.

We left the cleaning half way to go see a property near the Dandenongs. It was very nice and we both liked it a lot but it was already under offer. So we headed for lunch, headed to our usual shopping haunt where I got a hair cut and then went home to finish the vaccuming etc.

We kept going until it was time to leave for the MCG to catch the Hawks’ opening game of the new season. It was great as we beat a mistake prone Collingwood team. We didn’t get home to way past 11pm, and caught an old classic with Harrison Ford before heading to bed really late.

The next day after St Alf’s we went home to catch up on office work. One of the lawyers who would finish up this week, dropped some last minute unattended work on yours truly so I had to put aside the arvo on a Sunday to get it done. It got frustrating when there were issues with my office VPN and half way through working, I was kicked out of the system and I had to work blind. Tress took the little guy out as I as blowing off steam and I myself took a walk across the oval to watch a soccer match. A little while later we came back and I resumed my work. I eventually got the work done and this morning came in even earlier to cross check that those bits I did blind were ok.

I had become so cross with that lawyer that I am yet to speak with her today. She had left the work undone although she had said to me earlier in the week that she would do it and then she went for a seminar unnecessarily when work was left undone, and then called in sick the next day. So she blew off two days’ work and I had to pick up the pieces. If she reached out I would accept any form of olive branch but as of now, I have not bothered to even look at her. I had not done anything beyond a cursory “good morning” when she came in – late – this morning. It simply isn’t a good way to check out for her. A lose end with a messy finish.

Tress took some time off this morning to do something about her Malaysian citizenship. A bit of tying up another lose end I guess. I had done mine several years ago and she has now done it too. We have cut yet another string in our diminishing ties with Malaysia.

A Shop in Doncaster

We’ve been going to this Malaysian shop in Doncaster, for our feeds of noodles and other Malaysian fares, in the past couple of years. We usually go on weekends, often on Sundays after St Alf’s.

We went there again a couple of times this past weekend. The first time, we met a couple. The guy was very friendly, and we chatted a little bit. He’s only been in Australia for about a year, but he seemed like an easy going and smart guy and he looked like he was settling down well. He was chatty while his wife remained quite as he talked to us, although she looked friendly too. They’re both in their early forties and they said to us they did not (yet?) have kids.
Yesterday after St Alf’s, we went to that shop again for lunch. It was very busy, so we could only find seats in a backroom, at a shared table. The couple who shared the table with us were again good company and we chatted a little bit. They’re retirees who now spend their days looking after their grandchildren. He was a dentist with the government. When they’re not looking after their four grandchildren, the spend time dancing. They’ve been in Australia for nearly 40 years.

I said to Tress, on the way home after lunch yesterday, that we saw an interesting contrast. We’re sort of in the middle in between those two lovely couples we met over two different days.

When I was in my early forties, I hadn’t wondered about what I would be doing, or what I would be like, when I’m in my early fifties, as I am now. I wonder now, what I would be doing and what I would be like, when I’m at that stage in life as in the second couple we met at our Malaysian go-to in Doncaster.

We had gone to that shop on Saturday for an early dinner, having spent the day cleaning up the garden. We had gone to our favourite bakery that morning and had their award-winning pastries before heading back to do work. We started late as I had to then head to the local Bunnings to pick up some stuff as well as get fuel for the mower, while Tress went to an auction at a property just around the corner from our street.

We started work just before 11am. The hedges would probably be trimmed one last time before we head into cooler days. Tress helped with raking the cut branches and we trimmed the lemon tree as well. Then Tress have the MX5 a wipe down and by the time we finished, it was nearly 3pm. We had also picked up some very nice bread rolls from the bakery earlier in the morning and so instead of getting some lunch, we made some olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip for the bread and had a nibble before heading out to that shop for dinner just after 5pm.

After lunch at the shop yesterday (Sunday), we did some grocery shopping and then headed home and Tress did some ironing while I cooked the week’s lunches. Then we walked the little guy and later in the arvo, after 6 when the winds had settled down, I mulched and applied some fertilisers on the lemon tree, which had begun fruiting again after maybe 4-5 years.

As we were lounging around last night and I was thinking about the weekend’s encounters, I wondered if we could make a quick visit to Klang. I suggested it to Tress who thought it was a good idea. We then message my brother and his wife, and they too thought it was a good idea. A few more messages later, we appear to have teed up a visit involving Kiddo and her hubs, Tress and I, to Klang for my mum’s birthday. I hope this works out. I thought about the couples we met at the shop, about how their eyes often light up when they talk about their families and hometowns. I like that shop.

Long Weekend, Leave Plans

As an employee, one has to love the March/April period. There is a Labor Day long weekend, Good Friday/Easter extended weekend and then there’s the Anzac Day holiday. However, there is a drought in May and then in June there’s the Queen’s birthday before the long dry spell all the way to Cup Day in November. So really March/April is the best time in terms of public holidays.

Yesterday was Labor Day so we had a long weekend and it was truly one of the most relaxing weekends (other than the Christmas/New Year break) we’ve had for a very long time. On Saturday however, we kept ourselves busy with St Alf stuff. In the morning I met up with John B, a highly respected doctor. He has been looking after the church ground and recently he asked for help to clean up some main access areas on Saturday mornings so that on Sunday, those high traffic areas are cleaner or neater. A bunch of us responded so that we need only rock up once a month to sweep or hose down some areas. So I met up with John who showed me what needed doing. He had been there earlier in the week however so there wasn’t too much to be done and I was home within the hour.

Back home, I continued with some ground keeping tasks – feeding my lawns and various other parts around the house with “Seasol” and raking/sweeping up leaves from the gum trees at the front.

Tress vacuumed while I was pottering around with my tasks and after that we went out for some lunch before readying ourselves for more duty later in the arvo. We also dropped into the Nunawading library and we picked up another Tim Winton book and a few movies.

We both signed up to be part of the “Dinner Tonight” teams. These teams set up and serve dinner on Saturday nights to disadvantaged or marginalised people. The dinners are provided and hosted at New Hope, just further up the street from St Alf’s. So we met up with the rest of the team at 4pm, and proceeded to set up the tables, chairs, table cloths, cutleries etc – the idea is to let the diners have a chance to eat properly on a properly set up table. We get to sit down with them to share a meal together and engage with them. It was a very satisfying experience and I learned much. I met a guy (“Douglas”) who taught me a thing or two about sensitivities of dealings with these folks. Before he left, he asked if I was going to be there again and I said I wasn’t rostered again until July. I hope to see him again and be more engaged with him.

We got home a bit after 7pm, walked the little guy a little bit, and then settled in for the night watching one of the movies we picked up from the library.

On Sunday after St Alf’s we decided to catch a movie. Tress’ boss had given her a gift card last year in June, which is good for a couple of gold class tickets at Village. That gift card is due to expire in June so we decided to use it before it gets too close. The problem was I didn’t have anything I wanted to watch. Gary Oldman as Churchill would have been nice but no cinema near us was screening that. The only thing that remotely interested me was Black Panther but I’m so tired of anything that has anything remotely connected to identity politics and so while BP is really only a superhero yarn, the undertones of black issues, no matter how remote, was sufficiently disengaging. I scanned the list of available movies and we decided on “12 Strong”, a yarn based on a true story of American soldiers in Afghanistan as an early response to 9/11. It was quite a yarn and the action scenes were quite fun.

We then went home, walked the little guy, then just chilled the night away.

Yesterday, we wanted to either go do some bushwalking or just drive to the beach
but it was a grey, cloudy day, threatening to rain so I offered Tress a chance to do something totally against form. We haven’t been to Chadstone for years and the development which made it an even bigger shopping hangar than it already was, only made me even less interested. However, we (I) was so relaxed I thought I’d give Tress a chance to drag me there. She jumped at the offer so we went and walked through the very large shopping floors. I had expected a less busy environment given it is not sales season and many would have been out of town for the long weekend. I think I was right but even then the place was buzzing.

Back home, we walked the little guy again and I also kicked the footy with a boy who was at the oval with his dog, which made me feel every bit of my lack of fitness. We’ve made some friends at the oval – all dog loving people – over the years and we continue to meet new people. I wonder if I will ever have the desire to delve deeper into these encounters, and not forego the opportunities.

Back at work this morning, I discussed my leave plans with my boss. Tress and I had hoped to spend some time with her parents in June and Tress and her dad had been excitedly making plans. So it was a bit of a bummer when my boss said he too would be away for much of June. With the legal team reduced to just my boss and I, we have had to manage our leave plans more closely. I’m supposed to find a replacement but that person would be too new to the business for both my boss and I to be away at the same time. I hope we can work something out and maybe we can still go away to be with Tress’ parents before too long.

Darker days ahead

A colleague of mine accidentally sent a document to an office printer while she was at home. It was late at night when she did that and being a part-timer, she wasn’t going to come in the next day. So, she texted and then emailed me – knowing I’m often the first person in the office, usually just before 7am. I saw her text and email the following morning and when I got in, I promptly picked the document up and tore it up before throwing it into a secured bin. She was anxious about not having that document sitting around. It was her resume.

A little while after she got into the office that morning, she asked if we could have a private chat. She confided in me that as expected, she found something else and would be moving on.

I wasn’t completely surprised of course and as we chatted for a little while, it pulled into focus for me, that my employer continues to tether on an edge. A recent ASX announcement continued to paint a gloomy picture as it reported a 3rd or 4th successive loss, with the intrinsic value (NTA actually) slashed yet again, reduced by another 50% or so. By all accounts, it is a company needing drastic action soon. Either a takeover or an M&A appears to be its only option. With such a course, employees are always fully exposed, as I know only too well. I have been through at least two jobs which subjected me to such vagaries.

So a couple of days after that, after a team meeting which was rescheduled for later that day, that colleague met my boss personally to deliver the news. What surprised me more, was when I found out the next day, that another colleague had also decided to up stumps. That other colleague is a younger person who has allowed the travelling bug to remain resident in her system. She had gone to Canada for a holiday in the third quarter of last year. She must have liked the place a lot. Her resignation was triggered by her being granted a working visa in Canada. She’d be leaving soon after Easter. So the first working day after easter, half the legal team would see their career resurrected elsewhere, leaving the remainder half – my boss and I – to try our best to make the empty tomb look less empty. So to speak.

I was saying to Tress over the weekend, that I have started to be afraid of what’s in store at work. I’m just scared the increased workload would be such a turn off that my heads down bums up mentality would take a turn for the worse. They say the battle is half won with the right mentality. Conversely I guess, with a fear that comes with the loss of half the team’s capacity, the battle is probably more than doubled. It would I believe, feel like we’d be pushing the boulder up a somewhat steep slope.

In any event, the weekend was wonderful, my debilitating cold and cough notwithstanding. We went out to my favourite local Italian for dinner on Friday and then went home for an early night. I had left work a little earlier to get a prescription from the doctor, for something to help me sleep better. The concoction was very effective as I collapsed into a heap very soon after downing the linctus codeine.

I sent t he MX5 in for a service on Sat morning, before doing some grocery shopping and lunch, after which it was work on the greens. I edged and line trimmed, mowed and swept, and washed the wagon. Then it was another linctus codeine affected early night. The next day, after St Alf’s Tress and I trekked into the city to catch an iconic Italian cars show on Lygon Street. The rows of prancing horses and other equally exotic Italian vehicles stirred the passion so and after a bite of gelato in the famously Italian precinct of Carlton/Brunswick, we caught some lunch near the QV market before wandering through the market and then we headed home.

It was the third consecutive weekends Tress and I had trekked into the city. Last weekend it was to catch up with some old friends from Uni, who had visited from Cairns. It was really good to talk and really catch up with what has been happening with each other’s lives – swapping tales of our “kids” and where they seem to be heading in their lives.

Back home, we walked the little man, I cooked and Tress ironed, and then it was yet another linctus codeine induced early night. I get how the government thinks that stuff can become addictive and made codeine a prescription-only help.

I got in this morning and went to work straight away, dealing with the half a dozen or so of emails I had seen over the weekend but decided to only read them in detail when I get in.

So as we started the new season, just on two months into the new year, I have lost 4 colleagues with whom I work well, and whom I like. Last Friday a sales guy left. He was one of the more intelligent, decent and fair dinkum guys around. Another – a head of distribution sort of a guy – is probably half way into his notice period, and these team members who are smart, suave and classy lawyers (one even hails from Melbourne’s blue blood – father a senior judiciary person and all that). It’d be a (another) long week and I wonder what is to become of the next few months at work.