Friday, May 29, 2009

Ready for solids?

This morning, circa 5am, Mitt-Mitts woke up and Beloved brought him into bed with us. She lay back down in the bed with him beside her. Whereupon he reached out with both hands and grabbed her top and pulled, nay hauled, her chest in the direction of his rapacious, tooth-e-pegged maw.

Both hands! Hauled! He's not yet 5 months!

This weekend will see commencement of a few wee samples of that funny rice cereal stuff with a name like spandex, followed soon after by pulped-up pear and apple.

Meanwhile in rude grandparent land, my mother got her birthday card with kisses from 'Mitt Mitts'. She asked Beloved what that was about, was told it derived from 'Mr Mr Man', and commented that

hopefully he'll grow out of that soon.

Hope all you want just don't hope for extended visits while you're still being rude and unpleasant.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Piers Akerman: Not racist, no, not, really I'm not, no, not in the slightest, BUT....

Asian jokes are funny.

Penny's Wong. Get it? No, it's a pun, see, Wong sounds like Wrong? Bah, lefties, no sense of humour and PC to the nth. They don't make Labor types like they used to.

Thank you your kind wordsmiths

As Bear might put it. Thank you my milk. Thank you my bekkfast daddy. Thank you my choc-latt.

I have endeavoured to update my link list to include all visitors who left supportive comments. Regardless of our politics or anything else, you are now my online peeps. If you link to me and have been left out, let me know. Note that my list only brings up sites that have recently posted, though...

We are returning to normal life. It still feels funny. Fate swept a reminder over our eyes and everything is still too clear, like the effect when you fit new contact lenses- the clarity discombobulates.

I am really lucky. My job is a vast improvement on the last 3, and though the workload is pretty high there is room to lose concentration* for a few days and keep on track. We don't have a house yet, but we sure have enough money to get a house somewhere reasonable that would not be horrific to live in, so we're better off than millions. I have a beautiful family and, frankly, if I was working at Maccas and commuting from Werribee I still wouldn't pass a day without smiling at the antics of my cheeky kidlets and their amazing mum. And you need only hit the 'cats' tag to see the crazy love our guardcats sprinkle through the townhouse.

Anyway, such sap isn't the material of fine writing, but I'm just acknowledging before moving on. Love yooz all.

* I AM on lunchtime right now though, 7-11 junk packets still cluttering the space between chest and keyboard. No I am, dammit!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Meanwhile, as we looked the other way

Mr Mr Man got his first tooth. Yes folks, without you needing to scroll back through the archive, he's just under 5 months. Bear was about 2 weeks older when she got her first, and it was but an eyelid blink and a few bleeding nipples and she had a full set of choppers.

He's been coughing and scraping and I wonder if this is it. No other symptoms that would suggest swine flu, thankfully, although his dad commutes on a busy train through the heart of Clifton Hill, ground zero for the Victorian explosion in porcine influenza.

An empathetic boy, he sensed things were awry in the past few days. Long squeezes on my shoulder, looking out, thinking, pensive. A Mitta Man has depth beyond his months- although on reflection I baulked at sending his CV to The Monthly.

When he wakes he doesn't generally cry, he talks, warbles, a simple narrative that I'm sure weaves the wonders of breast milk, giggles and constant sleep into a tale worth telling. He often kicks off at 5am; we laugh, despite the time, then bring him in for a last nap between us. He always looks pretty impressed with this achievement.

I got home for bath time, via a detour through Northcote Shopping Centre. I cuddled each in turn, got them into jarmies, handed him over for a last feed, brought a Bear down to the couch where we watched Maggie and Simon making something ridiculous and chocolaty then put her to bed.

For Beloved I had Sparkling Shiraz, Seppelt, 2005, and a bag of hastily chosen lamb cutlets. These I rolled over and over in olive oil and rosemary and grilled on the BBQ with all the love one can muster when, um, grilling on the BBQ.

We crashed in front of the Wednesday funnies, more Shiraz, ploughing through a box of el cheapo ALDI choc bikkies. No, not doing a product endorsement for those, although they are ultra cheap and we did manage to put away the entire packet.

Both girls sleep now; Beloved snoring lightly on the couch. He is fusting upstairs, perhaps waking, perhaps not yet. The cats have stopped batting the pink hair band that's entertained them half the night. Mao has taken up a post, like a sentinel, on the arm of the couch. Minh is ambling and just moments ago needed reminding that no, cats aren't allowed on the kitchen table. She threw me a glance that said I'm too cute to be angry with and pottered away.

I cannot say too many times that this, my family, is a good thing.

The best kind of news


The word says it all. I feel slight delirium as it sinks in. The imagined scenarios of absolute loss that have haunted my thoughts for several days can sink back into the shadows. The lessons we both learned about treasuring the moment, each moment, with each other and our beautiful children, can stay.

Sparkling shiraz, chocolate, a treat for dinner, my mind is whirring through possibilities as I put my happy shoes back on and start bouncing around the office.

Oh yay for benign!

The Monthly and its boy genius

A bit of Melbourne, done the way Melbourne does things, best selective school, most prestigious university, editor at 23. Is it a problem?

Well, it shouldn't be fatal in itself, and given I've found The Monthly pretty turgid and uninspired to date, not the least because it is chock full of the usual suspects, a boy genius might be just what it needs. Might.

Are notions of wisdom and worldliness merely constructs used to maintain hierarchies? Possibly, certainly in the legal profession. But as editor of what aspires to be the leading journal of critical thinking in Australia there might be layers of understanding that you need to be familiar with, to unpick, reassemble, and draw on.

You might understand that most of what the left is attempting to change, and has been thus for over a century, is privilege and a class system that locks people in from early in life, to either extraordinary privilege or making do with the scraps. While we have improved on the old model whereby everything was decided at and by a person's birth (gender, race, religion et al), we have a long way to go.

The neo-Prussian model of schooling with its vigorous focus on using marks as a (fallacious) indicator of brilliance that can be used to settle castes at an early age is still part of the problem. Again- I pause here- if you are of the left. This is contested territory. Nonetheless it pays to understand your own privilege, to avoid being a Malcolm Turnbull (or his happy clapping fans) who believes his success is entirely a reflection of his own brillant perfection, if you are to steer a highly critical vessel along a path less followed.

Are we there yet?

But he is also young enough to still spruik his high school results, sending The Australian the highlights to support his appointment to The Monthly editorship.

Not there yet. Moving on, we can all identify with the compulsion to try and please the establishment in language we think it will understand. It's hard to break.

Is he wise enough to get around the politics of the old men behind the mag? Time will tell, but again an early note of caution:

"I'll be considering their advice very seriously, but they made it clear to me that I'm the editor and I'll be commissioning stories, so I don't know how that situation could come up. They're an advisory board."

If you don't know how that situation could come up, because they are an advisory board, I suggest you have a play on google. Us old farts call this due diligence.

Jonathan Green at Crikey isn't so sure either:

It’s hard not to see in this appointment the desire of Manne and Schwartz to keep control. To install another ingenue; another cypher for the literary and political ambitions of two mid-life men who apparently lack the chutzpah to do it in their own names. The Monthly, the only magazine of ideas in the world edited by the work experience kid. Maybe they could have made the editorship some sort of tie-in with year 12 english? Or convene it collectively through young Ben’s Facebook page? Or maybe not. We’ll see. Good luck Ben. Take it to them.

I agree, good luck Ben. Even if these concerns are valid, it's not his fault, he is clearly very bright, the mag was turgid and almost irrelevant, so I'll criticise no further and instead look forward to being proven wrong.

Laura also questions whether his shining star illuminates any real qualifications for this particular job, Merkel thinks his appointment might be a reaction. Pav values the knowledge of the world, acquired slowly.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

60 year old male bodybuilder - what's not to love?

My new body image icon, a healthy 79kg (just 2 to go for your correspondent, plus, erm, a little bit of 'toning'), well into middle age, a political career, I present the Mayor of Charters Towers.

Although the juxtaposition of his white, priest-like head on top of all that tanning lather and the classic 'double biceps' pose immortalised by Arnie makes the image look like a second-rate photoshop job.

Good on him, I'm only half taking the piss, I really do need a healthy role model like this, I just can't work out what's stopping me realising my goals?

Because it fits in with my schedule, I go to the gym at 5.30 in the morning until about 6.30...

OK. Back to tai chi.

Product Promo- Coles Fig, Honey and Ginger Ice Cream is a husband's best friend

Just saying, the best thing from a home brand since ALDI nappies. Curled up on the couch after a ridiculously insane day involving multiple specialist appointments and me trying my hand at serious 1-on-2 time with the poppets, nothing could beat a couple of For the Love of Pizzas, some Sem Sav Bee from the Wine Society, then a shared bucket of this insanely decent, censorably-rich frozen decadence.

I helped out with a couple of bottle feeds; Mitt-Mitts looked at me like a trucker forced to drink beer through a straw from a pink mug.

We explored Fitzroy Gardens and found a statue in a hidden glade. 'Daddy, the little boy's in nudie time daddy', Bear observed. It's a European thing I replied, and I think I can say that answer was correct on so many levels.

We got flushed out of Fitzroy Gardens by a sudden downpour. 'Junkie dad' would have been the reaction of any casual observers as I ran, literally, pushing our old Emmalunga with Bear sitting in the rain under a red hoodie, Mitts bouncing and looking up in wide-eyed disbelief, mud splattering everywhere, panting, floundering...

A man said something like good rain, hope it rains all night as we came in under the cover and I had a sudden urge to rub a wet nappy in his face. Do men always say such stupid things around mums, is this why my gender is constantly lampooned for insensitivity and incompetence when it comes to parenting?

We sat, wet, covered in sand from an abortive attack on a wet sandpit, eating the jelly beans and generally upsetting the sophisticated decor of the specialist's waiting room.

Mitts is learning to cuddle properly, holding tight around the shoulder and squeezing as he takes life in.

They were both so patient and empathetic it was hard to escape the conclusion that they know everything is not yet ok.

Beloved slipped into sleep, legs across mine, moments after the last mouthful of ice cream.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Waiting on a call

Waiting on a call. I feel sick. The more the delay the more my mind speculates and fears come to life.

Moments like these reality starts shaking, becomes translucent, you see through the veneer into another possibility filled with horror, rage and sadness.

Love is so simple and easy to define at these moments. It is absolute and those things that have caused arguments, even the arguments themselves, sit outside the sphere when the whole is under threat from another reality.

Moments away now, waiting on a call.

... Beloved has had to call them, they couldn't say anything yesterday, because the GP wasn't back, they couldn't say anything a couple of hours ago, because she'd only just arrived at work (but it would be put under her nose for immediate attention), now they can't say anything until after 6pm at the earliest because she's busy giving people scrips for their fucking headcolds.

I'm shaking with rage now, Carlton Medical Centre is not at the top of my love list.

...(next morning) well they fitted us in, late, more testing needed. Couldn't fit us in today because they'd left it too late, so it'll be Monday, which means a weekend or more of angst and cancelling our holiday to Queensland next week. Such is fucking life, hey?!

So to answer Mindy's comment, reflected by a couple of others off the web: no, they weren't slow because there was good news, they were just slow.

When the GP came out in a flurry and told the receptionist to "fax this urgently" I cried all over Mitt-Mitt's head.

Rapist OK

Needs no embellishment:

A convicted rapist will be allowed to work as a doctor in Victoria after the Court of Appeal today dismissed a challenge to a tribunal ruling.

Dr Sabi Lal, who was convicted of digital rape, indecent assault and attempting to pervert the course of justice in 2002, was refused re-registration in 2006 when the Medical Practitioners Board ruled that it was not in the public's interest for him to continue practising medicine.

At the time of the offences, Dr Lal suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder. ...

Justice Chris Maxwell and Justices Mark Weinberg and Emilios Kyrou said Dr Lal was suffering a mental illness at the time of the offending and his moral culpability was therefore low.

They said the offence of rape was constituted by Dr Lal performing a medically necessary pap smear, after falsely telling his patient the procedure would be performed by a female doctor.

OK, a couple of embellishments.

2002 doesn't seem that long ago.

His moral culpability was clearly enough that he was convicted of the offences; he was not 'out of his mind' and unable to pass moral judgements or understand what he was doing.

Shouldn't the medical board (as they have tried to do) impose a higher standard than the criminal system? Or to put it another way, impose a test that privileges patient safety over a doctor's rights?

The intellectual components of this offence seem to undermine the notion that he 'lost control' in a moment under the influence of a 'compulsion'. He carefully lied to put himself in the position where he could commit the offence, and he clearly has some ongoing capacity for dishonesty given the conviction extends to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

And is OCD really that easily, and conclusively, cured?

The 3 men on the bench will of course never have to face the consequences of the decision if it turns out to be wrong.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Walking from a train with no recollections

Beautiful morning but I'm not in it. Cut a path to work but I can't recall it. There was a park, there were roads, there was a man waiting for an ambulance, held up by those around him next to a taxi on Collins.

He is probably thinking about what is important. I am thinking about what is important. What is important will hold me around the neck until I leave this place and get back on the train and walk back through the streets of my suburb, on a path I won't really recall, to be with my family.

I won't enjoy my coffee this morning. I am now waiting for news, and won't enjoy my coffee until I have that news.

It's about what's important.

Later... I have drifted through the work day, responding to people with most of my mind in another place. My stomach muscles have been tense, hunching me forward. I'm that way now. The news is we wait a day or so for news, which leaves me in a void. I need to go home, hold those who are important to me.

I want to reify life itself and violently attack it.

Later still... we held each other, reflected on our fortunes. Resolved to be grateful for the big things we have, rather than resentful of the little things we don't. I put care into the steaks, they were only slightly overdone. Got out the good glasses, sipped something nice, slowly. The TV just blurred away in the background.

I will savour every moment, I promised the fates, I will not be ungrateful.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Budget Reply Fail - Malcolm on the outer

There was something a bit sad about watching Turnbull's reply. The dignity of a man who knows so many eyes are on his back, keeping his shoulders squared and an earnest smile on his face. The speech unfolded, nothing happened, no great counterpunch emerged, the return deficit figure was avoided, and he descended into hyperbole about mountains of debt and some tangled, inarticulate metaphor about reaching back down to the top of the mountain.

Back down to the top? I think I know what he meant, but Barry Jones' spaghetti plate comes to mind.

In the particular, his suggestions weren't really that bad. But didn't he watch the incredible dumbing down of debate that worked for Howard, before thinking discussion of the finer details of bankruptcy laws would be a political hit?

Aside from Brutus, analogies might include Hewson, too honest, nice, technical and liberal for the bonnet-thumpers who delivered victory for Howard.

Barwick? Brilliance in a technical, conservative profession where clean-cut men in dark suits use bombast and pomposity to get their way does not automatically translate into political success.

Keating? Big personas with polish and gravitas don't cut it with Aussies the way sneering, lisping suburban solicitors or beer-gagging, shagging, crying blokes do.

I don't know. His challenge now is not to stay leader, it's to find something useful to do with his brain and clout, ideally one that actually embodies liberalism.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Peasants Dredged

The smell was rather overwhelming one of an evening:

The Daily Telegraph yesterday reported that one Conservative MP had claimed successfully towards the cost a full-time housekeeper with a salary package of £14,000 ($A28,000) a year, along with £2000 for clearing the moat surrounding his manor house.

A moat. I'm torn between incredulous disgust at the ethics of the claim and a boyish love of castles and moat (and cannon turrets, dungeons, and hedge mazes of course!).

Dragon optional.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

So Bear, what shall we do for Mummy's Day?

It's hard doing justice to Mother's Day on the blog. I've written my definitive mother's day post already, and the emotions haven't changed.

Prior to the first Mother's Day I raised the topic of presents and expectations with Beloved. Her answer was simple, that my initial effort would establish the tradition. No small weight to carry.

So I painstakingly worked my way along small, beautiful boutiques, looking for unique items with earthy colours that would match Beloved, her hair and her clothes, without needing a precise fit. I reached Scanlon & Theodore, recalled a conversation about this being a place full of desirable items, and went in clenching my credit card. I came out with a magnificent 'throw' in a rich, mottled olive that I knew would suit her. And I tested it on an attendant with a similar height and build to Beloved. How could I go wrong?

... You know when something just doesn't work, no matter how you try to wear it, for some intangible reason relating to cut, feng shui and the alignment of the stars?

So 2 mother's days later and in fact the only possible hints out there are the new Ben Harper album and a need for 'new clothes'. Bear and I snapped up the Ben Harper down at Northcote Shopping Centre, Bear noting with approval his authorship of her favourite lullaby, together with the mandatory box of Chocolatiers. But the clothes? The risk... the fear....

For being a wonderful, infinitely patient mummy (and wife) we gave her:

1 Ben Harper Album;
1 Box of chocolates;
1 Breakfast of hash browns, free range bacon, eggs and toast with fresh, stovetop coffee; and
shopping spree with a personalised shopper.

Did I do wrong? Have I encouraged the release of a demon? Have I failed my duty to challenge assumptions and whatnot by purchasing my wife a local version of Trinny & Susannah?

The reaction was good, and the worst outcome - that she took it as comment on her taste- did not happen.

We pulled out the map, drove up to the parks around the Yarra above Bulleen (past Sills Bend), stopped somewhere verdant with a large, inviting playnet, and smiled and smiled as our son dangled from the Bjorn on my chest and our daughter charged from slide to maze to swings.

They are the proof of the wonderful mother they have. Ours was a beautiful day. I think it did please Beloved more than a little...

Sills Bend, I know now what it is

It is of course a place near where its author used to live. A real bend, in the Yarra. Like people who mishear lyrics, I had come to my own assumptions, and simply thought the entire name of said blog referred to some depressed character in a Jane Austen novel, as pontificated upon at university by its lecturer-owner.

Beloved was baffled by the car conversation as I discovered, then pointed out, this landmark. Non-bloggers do not appreciate the subtleties of nuance such as blog title etymology.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Overheard in China: "What the fuck?"

So our leading intelligence agencies hold a similar view to your scribe; China poses no significant threat. So a few of the more hawkish military war porn types can't get their head around the idea. So Rudd, master of the Sinophile universe in his own mind, is sending out an explicit message that we view them as a threat?

Yes China are building their own capacity up, but surely even the more conservative realist observer can see that's a response to perceived competition, and potential security dilemmas, with the US, Taiwan, Japan and to a lesser extent India?

Of course Japan applauds Rudd's move- but Japan and China have a relationship that is testy for a number of reasons, including the failure to properly apologise and account for their imperial phase, the honouring of war criminals, and simply the fact that, aside from the lack of nuclear weapons, Japan is one of the most powerful military nations in the world.

And the message to Indonesia is...? What about the impoverished nations of the arc we accuse of instability? Is a big imperial-style navy a better way to bring security to our region than, say, helping them build schools, bridges and hospitals?

Whose security? Not mine, not yours.

Yackles with my da

Leaning in over my big soft beast of a son, 90-gazillionth percentile in everything, loading up on supplementary feeds that are driving his mummy bonkers, making cock-a-doodle-doo noises, pretending to a-a-a-tschooo, his eyes wide open (and fellow iBoom girls beware, he's got huge, blue eyes and a Harrison Ford smile that works up one side of his face faster than the other), smiling, then breaking into a big, hearty yackle.... these are a few of my favourite things.