Tuesday, March 23, 2004


Yesterday Michele and I decided to stop hunting for work, leave the jobs at home not done and head out for some fresh air. The afternoon was clear and cool, but comfortably warm in the sun. We headed to a little place called Warneet, which is on an inlet at the upper end of Westernport day. A quiet little place with unsealed roads where the only shop is the General Store, which sells everything from groceries to pizzas and grog. Sadly, even these quiet little places are giving way to the mad scramble to live close to the ocean and property values are soaring. However on a Monday afternoon in Autumn, we sat peacefully on the bank of the inlet and soaked up to sun...just glad to be there. Even Hastings seemed like a mad rat race compared to this quiet little backwater.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Who'd be over 50 and looking for work? 

Michele and I have both been spending a lot of time looking for work. Any work at all. It's a dispiriting exercise. Ok so it's worse living in a semi-rural area, but contrary to Peter Costello's assertions on ABC TV a couple of weeks ago, government programs to assist older people to re-enter the workforce, are little more than window dressing. While well intentioned, the agencies paid by the government to administer these programs are simply wasting taxpayers money raising the expectations of older people, who will never get work. The cruel fact is, that you can have the most fabulous credentials, highly relevant experience, an excellent resume and up to date IT skills, but NONE of this will help an older person get work....it's simply a case of the government doing the easy bit to help people, while ignoring the fact that age discrimination is widely and blatantly practised by society in general and employers in particular. For the 1 in 100 employers who will actually grant you an interview (the other 99 don't even acknowledge your application), you'll more than likely end up sitting across the desk being told by a 20 year old called Kylie, that you don't have the right experience to do what you were doing successfully before she was even conceived.

Sound like a typical grumbling oldie?...well maybe I do...it makes me angry and disgusted, but I have no intention of being a victim in all this. If other people won't give me work, I'm not going to grovel for it. I will simply have to create my own work. If no-one else will employ me, at least I can employ myself and hopefully Michele too. Watch this space for how I manage to do this.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Back in Hastings 

So after 7 months of contract work in Canberra, we've come back to Hastings to 'try again'. This is, to see if we can live in a nice place AND make enough money to live on. I suppose one good thing about Canberra, was that it proved to me that I could still do IT project management, pretty much as well as anybody else, including some people close to half my age. It also paid off some debts and got us another (old) car, a notebook computer and a few other odd bits of technology, but not much else. Was it worth putting our lives on hold for 7 months?.....I'm not sure.

Apart from being home again, it also has the advantage that Michele can participate in the trial of a new drug for her MS, at the Melbourne Private Hospital, which wouldn't have been possible had we stayed interstate. We've joined a fun choir over at Mornington, which sings mainly African stuff. It's not a serious choir, but will help us get our voices going and have some socialisation.

I'm still trying to get healthy and decide why I have this constant pain in my side.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Old Friends 

One of the things I admire about my children, is the way they've kept in touch with their friends back in Adelaide. Even old school friends from long ago. This is something I've almost totally failed at. The only people I'm ever in touch with, are a couple of old sailing buddies and the guys I did my apprenticeship with at WRE 40-odd years ago, whom I see about once a year if I manage to get to Adelaide.

I can remember playing recorders with harpsichord in the loungerooms of many old friends. Yet today, I wouldn't even know whether they're still alive. This is sad.... for now I'm so much in need of their friendship.

Where has it gone? 

Lately, I've increasingly been asking myself this question. What I'm referring to, is what I'd come to think of as the 'real me'. When I look back at my life, I think about a man who used to sing, play musical instruments, listen to music, write poetry, make things, play with electronics and a whole lot of other creative pursuits. Now I do practically nothing to feed my inner needs and I ask myself why. Where did it go? How could I have let all this slip to the point where I feel inept and useless at it all? You could rightly tell me to just go out and do it, but for some reason I no longer have the confidence and I feel like this part of me has died....and yet I was driving home from work through what passes for a rush-hour in Canberra, listening to the ABC. Some music came on...I can't even recall what it was....but I felt such strong emotions as the old feelings surged through me and I even shed a tear or two. So I still have the emotions which were part of the 'real me', but I feel so utterly lost and fearful that I'll never find it again.

Monday, July 14, 2003

The Mastersingers 

Michele arrived by air on Thursday arvo and on Friday we set off for Sydney in the cold, foggy Canberra morning. Heading north, the weather slowly improved and Sydney greeted us with pleasant sunshine. We even found it relatively easy to get to our second-rate motel in Surry Hills...a first for me...usually I flounder around all over the place before eventually finding my way. A surgical procedure finally got our car in the Motel's carpark, with time for a quick lunch and a couple of hours rest before setting off to the Capitol Theatre...a 15 minute walk away down precipitous streets to Haymarket.

5:15pm and we were settled into our seats for 6 hours of Wagner. I've always been immensely proud of my three children and their achievements....this case was no exception. From the moment she appeared on stage, Miriam showed such mastery of the role and sang with beauty, clarity and confidence. I was indeed a most proud father. Amusingly, when we told the ladies sitting next to us that we were Miriam's 'parents' (not wanting to go through all the stuff about Michele not being her mother), she said that Miriam had Michele's eyes....

Well it was a long performance, but we were so rapt with it, that with a couple of generous intervals, we hardly noticed how long it was. A trip to the stage door to say hello to Mim and meet some of the cast, really made our night. It was just so lovely to see her glowing with success and enjoying the accolades.

The Saturday morning spent wandering around Paddy's Market, was pretty much a waste of time. The market is just full of a lot of imported rubbish, like so many markets around the country. We didn't see anything interesting or unusual at all. To offset this, a nice lunch with Mim and her friend left us just enough time to drive back to Canberra before dark. A blown headlamp bulb and a broken handbrake cable continued the experience of buying a 10 year-old car and trying to keep it on the road without spending much money.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Slowly Settling In 

The first week at work was as expected...chaotic and difficult. I didn't know who or where or what anything was and there was precious little help to find out. It would have been nice if they'd handed me a 'new contractors starting kit'or something....no such luck. It's a matter of floundering around asking dumb questions and trying to understand why everybody working there seems to have a different view of how things are done. They have a Quality Management System....but when I asked who the Quality Manager was....you guessed it, nobody knew. So I went hunting and found an area on the intranet which seemed to be what I wanted, but when I tried to use some of the document templates from there, I was told that they are out of date and nobody uses 'that' version. Then I spotted a Project Management Guide on there and duly printed it out....5 minutes later someone emailed me a totally different version....similar title but not the same...similar text...but this is the "released version"I was told....I said nothing about the typo's and obvious mistakes in it. My contractor boss said "...if it wasn't so chaotic they wouldn't need us"..."so perhaps I should just shutup and keep perpetuating this mess like everyone else, rather than trying to improve it. I haven't been paid yet, but maybe that will remind me of why I'm here.

I'm safely settled in with my brother-in-law and so far it's working fine. Takes me about 15-20mins to get to work in Woden, in what passes for a rush hour here in Canberra.

They say that house prices here haven't grown as fast as in the other capitals, but since we lived here 18 months ago, they seem to have soared quite a bit. An ordinary 3 bedroom house in one of the newer suburbs is around $350K. With the help of the fires, rental prices have increased accordingly, so if we move here for a longer period, this will be a concern, but we'll face that if/when it happens.

Looking forward to Michele's visit this week. We really miss each other....probably made worse because for the period while we've been unemployed, we've spent most of our time together. We just need the make sure that my work will continue here before Michele starts packing.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

The Chilly Capital 

My mood wasn't enhanced by a rapid deflation in one of my front tyres somewhere along that dreadful Hume highway. A major highway between the two most populous capitals, that denegerates into a narrow, winding country lane...with semi's thundering along in both directions. It's unpleasant, unsafe and a national disgrace. I presume the parts that are alright, are those that go through the right electorates. Anyway at least it wasn't raining while I unloaded everything out of the boot in order to gain access to the spare wheel. Pleasantly, the Falcon seems to use about 12 litres/100Km of LPG on a long trip, which is quite good for a heavily laden car with a 4.0litre engine. In money terms that's about the same fuel cost as our little Hyundai Excel.

Arrived in Canberra under a leaden sky and drizzling rain, but found my way down to Terry's place and brought all my stuff inside. I've got a nice little upstairs suite, with my own toilet and bathroom...so I can't complain.

Friday was spent chasing around signing contracts and getting ready for work. Happily, the deflated tyre turned out to be a failed valve stem, which was cheerfully replaced, the wheel re-balanced and fitted to the car...all free of charge!! Actually, this is not typical of Canberra, I think it was just because it was Friday arvo and they couldn't be bothered to raise an invoice for a few dollars. Nice when it happens though. I wish all the other things that need doing to the car were also free.

Visited the Dickson Tradie's Club to listen to some Jazz and say hello to a few old friends. Nothing and I mean nothing has changed....same group of people...same bad intonation in the band and same cheap drinks. Most of them said hello like they'd never noticed that I'd been away for about 20 months.

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