Thursday, September 28, 2006

Almost Bjorn

Baby update. Nothing major to add, which is by all measures a good thing.

I have succumbed to baby-brand-insanity, perhaps it's the effect of the infectious whistle song in my head but I entered a local shop called Twinkle Tots and exited with 2 items of Baby Bjorn.

What's Baby Bjorn you ask? Well you might, if being male like me you are allegedly unable to grapple with the fundaments of early parenthood. Well, it's simple, it's this:

And this:

What do make of that Mark Latham? Is he too poofy metro-male for ya, ya tourette's headcase?

Nerdhog Day!

Dear Diary, today I shall do the following:

Try to get a seat watching Labor's latest recruit and other gun silk argue over my Bank and the future of Steve Vizard, among other things, here.

Then I shall enter the tomb-like library at the centre of the Supreme Court to have a wee read of some delightfully thrilling material on the Rule in Browne v Dunn. Where does a lawyer go to find a summary fit for publication? Why, Wiki of course (quoting Lord Herschell):
My Lords, I cannot help saying that it seems to me to be absolutely essential to the proper conduct of a cause, where it is intended to suggest that a witness is not speaking the truth on a particular point, to direct his attention to the fact by some questions put in cross-examination showing that that imputation is intended to be made, and not to take his evidence and pass it by as a matter altogether unchallenged, and then, when it is impossible for him to explain, as perhaps he might have been able to do if such questions had been put to him, the circumstances which it is suggested indicate that the story he tells ought not to be believed, to argue that he is a witness unworthy of credit.
Substitute they for he and you find the passage applies to all human beings. Easy really, I'm gonna read another 30 or so pages elaborating on that rule from a NSW tax case which I've memorised as Allied Pastoral Something v Comissioner of Taxation [1983] 1 NSWR at 800-odd.

Now that's a legal mind you'd want in your corner, hey? Don't answer, moving along...

Later, I shall obtain a present for my beautiful pregnacious wife from the brand new house of trash and garbage on Collins that just happens to make extraordinarily quaffable doughnuts.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Have job, bring on house, dadhood!

For the first time in my life I've felt like someone's really put some faith in me. In a series of acceptances and counter-offers I have sealed a deal that will take the "what do I do with myself" question out of my blogging for, hopefully, a long time.

Government employment involves bands or levels which you slowly move through. Well, all 3 jobs I've been looking at were pitched around the same level. One was the most glamorous sounding but was a little more junior than the others which, given that role involved moving to Canberra, made it a quantum downshift back into life when money was a constant worry.

Another was a bit of an unknown in that it involved high levels of advocacy and responsibility, so I was inclined towards the third, with a team I know and like doing work similar to that which has kept me busy the past 12 months.

The 'bit of an unknown' made their intentions known by offering me the higher responsibility of the next band up the Government scale. That's potentially years of working, clawing and waiting for those of you unfamiliar with progress in the public sector. They added family-friendly terms, extra leave and room for flexibility. In a permanent contract. For once in my career I felt genuinely wanted, and yes, flattery will get you everywhere when low self-esteem is creeping up on someone who feels they have outgrown their level of responsibility.

In a huge flap, bumping backwards and forwards and giving the prospective employers, and my wife (ok and yes my cats as well!) hell, I worked my demons and doubts to the surface, scraped them off, and stepped up for a new, scary, and exciting challenge.

Regular programming to resume shortly. Apologies in advance for any creeping legalisms that enter my posts. As always I won't be talking about the detail of what I do or where I do it, but all I can say is, think Kavenagh QC meets Travolta in A Civil Action.

As for Canby, well, it's not out of the long-term question, but I'll be aiming to go there in a leadership role, if and when the timing is right. For now, I'm redirecting that energy I've been pouring into the job pages towards planning for the exciting world of fatherhood.

Now, for some new cufflinks...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Alive and in stasis

I am, temporarily I hope, presently a member of the gainfully unemployed. The opportunity to bond with the cats aside, this hasn't put me in the highest state of elevation. I should have tonnes of time for blogging, for lots of things, but it's difficult to get motivated when you are constantly glancing at your phone.

I have 2 quasi-offers; roles I may get if all the paperwork gets signed off with the tees dotted. I have interviewed for a further position, an incredibly interesting-sounding role that will not eventuate for aeons (even if they do like me). This potential choice is great in some respects but leaves me indecisive and wracked by stress.

Still, there are worse things to be worried about!

We spent the weekend in Canberra, bringing out the usual tensions between beloved and her mother. Beloved's mother has a good heart, but seems to harbour some anger or bitterness at life in general that prevents her from enjoying the fact that most of her ducks have lined up pretty well. She's got a good job, house, caring partner, and reasonably (though it is being somewhat drained) doting daughters.

I know, I know, I'm gonna find out how hard parenting is, but how's this for a pretty basic lesson: if you're a well-paid boomer, you and your partner both own houses outright, you are browsing your next potential purchase at well over the half million mark, and you complain frequently to your two daughters, both of whom want to buy A house but can't afford it, about how subsequent generations have it too easy in the work and housing markets, you aren't going to come across as particularly in tune or sympathetic with the needs of your offspring.

I'm fond of mumsey, as I call her, and wish she'd take more pleasure in the good things she's achieved for herself. And be a bit happier.

Of course there's a lesson in this for all of us. Whatever job I end up in, I've got a fantastic wife and a daughter on the way, so really what does it matter how I earn a crust?

On a lighter front, while in Canby I met Zoe, Cristy & Paul, Dean (I forget which blog Dean's at, Zoe'll remind me though!) and Zoe's son Sage and partner Owen, at the still-fantastic muse of my short-lived ANU days, the Wig and Pen. Make mine a pint, what a nice crew!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I can jump puddles and cook!

Yesterday was my first day beyond my contract. Put another way, I am on sabbatical from gainful employment as I wait for the results of various recent interviews to manifest by way of something tangible. And because I did very little yesterday, waiting as I was for the phone to buzz, I decided to try and prepare a treat for beloved.

To make sense of this post you need to understand that I have never been able to cook, and have never cooked anything more complex than a basic pasta or a steak, with beloved usually doing the veges on the side while patting me on the back like I'm a kid making a mudcastle.

I started by buying two nice-looking fillets of snapper. I didn't have a clue what I'd do with them, but I went to Psarakos market in Thornbury with fish on my mind and made a purchase.

Before I lose any vegan readers at this point I'd like to divert. Cooking is a slow process, so we must wait for the other ingredients to arrive.

I want to congratulate Cristy and Paul from No Pod on their pending poppet. Read this sweet post. Is it still a pod? I'm thinking more of a gourd, becoming an all-out pumpkin before too long.

Beloved has now 'popped', so poppette is hanging out there in her very own baby un-bjorn. I talk to her but she's ignoring me for now. I've warmed up the vocal chords for some belly crooning but can't decide on suitable lullabies other than my kiddy staple- U2's MLK:
Sleep, Sleep tonight
And may your dreams, Be realized
If the thunder cloud, Passes rain
So let it rain, Let it rain
Rain down on here
So let it be, So let it be
Sleep, Sleep tonight
And may your dreams, Be realized
If the thundercloud, Passes rain
So let it rain, Let it rain
Rain down on here...
Well, it's rain on him, or he, or me, depending where you google your lyrics, but I sing 'here'. I have successfully used this on a number of babies; my highlight was a stellar performance in which I put a wailing bub to sleep in a Starbucks in London and basked in adulation and open flirting from 3 yummy mummies. But I digress...

I've never cooked snapper before, have only attempted fish a few times and always just fried or grilled it as is. I mean it, I really can't cook! The fishmongers suggested rolling the fillets in flour first, and that got me thinking (always dangerous). What about if I put stuff in the flour? I poured flour all over a plate then lobbed in some salt, pepper, and then, after tasting it first to ascertain exactly what was meant by 'hot', some cayenne stuff. Just a pinch.

Already out of my depth, I decided I wanted to learn to cook cauliflower cheese to go with it. No, better, why not with Broccoli? I thought this involved about 3 ingredients but in fact the recipe book listed around 200, several of which can only be obtained by hiding on a cliff and mimicking the mating call of lichen.

And, while I'm whinging, why is it so damn hard for these books to give a simple measurement for substances like flour and butter? What's wrong with two tablespoons you bloody food-toff-tossers?! IT'S NOT ME IT'S YOU.

About this time I called beloved for instructions on using our antiquated and suicidal (the upper grill leaps out into space on a regular basis) oven. In the background I could hear her workmates laughing- my attempt at cooking has become the office joke. Ha effing ha! I bang pans around for her entertainment and hang up.

Then I achieved something none of the nongs in restaurants appear to be able to do- I successfully boned my snapper!

Not that way, not the Nine way either. I took a sharp knife and painstakingly- without any damn instructions or experience I might add- removed a line of bones from the very centreline of the fillet. Two particularly stubborn bits I drew out with my teeth!

Why can't they do that at M'sier Ponce's Fish Garden A La Pretonce?

Which brings me, 20 minutes later, to the results. If I may say so myself I cooked the best damn snapper, and one of the best serves of Cauliflower and Broccoli cheese (the dash of Dijon mustard really drew out the flavour!) I've ever eaten!

Bragging, I know, but this is the first complex meal, with sauce and sides all made fresh and involving the actual reading of a recipe, that I have ever cooked. I've been scared of the kitchen my whole life. And that snapper was better than the 3 or more times I've tried it in a restaurant.

It's like I just rode a bike with the training wheels off and pulled a wheelie.

Beloved would have said nice things even if I stuffed it up. She's glad to see me slowly domesticating and learning these basic skills, whatever the result. But last night I scored majorly - her face, as she alternately downed globs of melted cheesy veggies and piscine glory, said that I am in the good books for a long time. A lo-ong time. There will be phone calls to cynical family members.

And for me- lots and lots of 200% prime grade lovin'...

Damn, I might try that again some time!