Monday, September 29, 2008

Surprise: Career satisfaction dives after fatherhood

Not surprising from my own experience:

Dr Gray said men's job satisfaction declined on the birth of their first child. "While work would have played a major part of their lives before children, on having them they must re-evaluate their priorities, and in doing so it appears to have an impact on their workplace satisfaction," she said.

The mundane striving for recognition and hierarchical ascent suddenly get put into perspective.

This happened for me, vividly. It hasn't taken away all satisfaction, rather it makes doing worthless tasks (for example duplication or red tape hacking) particularly miserable, because you know there are more important things.

I wonder if perhaps some of this derives from primal instincts driving the career impulse. If men are subconsciously attempting to better their position in the tribal pecking order to attract a mate, then becoming satisfied with the family side of things is likely to take the wind out of their career sails. Or to put it another way, it clears the fog and allows them to see how pointless the treadmill really is.

It also, for me, strengthens my desire to do something useful that makes this a better world. I want to fix things, for her, for cub. And I feel I owe something back, whether that's to Karma, God, Gods, or just the ebb and flow of life. They're gifts and I'm not going one day without being grateful.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Cackles

Beloved worked in the city today, so I got to ride back with her and help pick Bear up from childcare. I'm not usually there. I got chirpy as we approached and my foot started tapping.

We walked up the side ramp past the window where Bear was playing. I tapped on the window while Beloved walked ahead. The carer pointed, Bear looked and saw me. She cackled with laughter and excitement and ran to the window, mouth wide open with joy.

I was soaring with happiness. Nothing is better than this.

Hate women?

You're not alone apparently. Made my blood curdle. More by Pav.

" When I was 32 I took on Margaret Thatcher"

Truffles can do anything!!

Given Spycatcher is part of Turnbull's heroic narrative, has anyone thought to ask him whether he would have the same view of an ASIS or ASIO agent breaking Australian law to write a book today? If they published a book in Indonesia called "Terror busters" that revealed our state secrets, would that be a heroic victory against the Australian government in his eyes?

Just asking.

2 minutes to midnight

I took my frustrations out on the washing up. Beating the stuck bits on a fork with a brush is surprisingly therapeutic, to a point. Water splashed around. I think I saw a film of a Chimp once sitting in some water beating it with a branch to make some kind of Chimp point; I suppose I looked a bit like that.

Work is dry and I am urgently needing stimulation. I took a drop in money and status to come here and things, although better, aren't panning out. It is starting to give me a mid-life crisis. I don't want tonnes of money, I just want to do something worthwhile. Currently I feel like my salary should be spent on a teacher or a nurse or someone we need more of.

The house was quiet, the girls asleep, cats curled up on the couch. I get a sense of company from their prescence and the sound of the rise and fall of Bear's breathing in the monitor. Pulling on a jacket I headed into the night.

The midnight chill had settled. No wind moved through the dark, locked-down streets. I hunched with my hands pushing the bottom of my pockets and my mind slowly unscrambled. In that peace I knew what to do.

Today I am going to get things moving again. Life is too short to be a waste of taxpayer's money.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Truffles tells Kev to stay here and turn the snags

Introducing the bogan toff. Is this what we can expect, dumbed-down populism and small targeteering?

"His travelling is extraordinary and so early in his term - he seems to be constantly on an aeroplane."

Forgotten who's leader, Truffles?

Or is it just an issue of Malcolm gets into power so how can Kevin not mark this Great Event by staying here to humour the almighty? Does he not realise how brilliant Malcolm is?

Kevin, stay your course. And as for bipartisanship on the economy, I'd get my advice from someone with some qualifications in the field.

The Keilar murder- a failure of state, system and social contract?

35 years sounds about right for Wayne Hudson.

This tells a story:

As Hudson was led to the dock before sentencing, three Hells Angels and another three men who also appeared to be bikies stood up and placed clenched fists to their hearts.

In cold blood.

This also tells a story:

Hudson has a string of previous convictions, including assaults, occasioning bodily harm, possessing weapons, causing grievous bodily harm, drug possession, fraud and driving offences.

Part of the string of causation that led to the death of Mr Keilar is the fact that the state was on notice that Hudson is a violent psychopath, yet he still found himself wandering around bashing strippers and shooting backpackers and solicitors.

Should he have spent longer in gaol? Or is there is a need to change the focus when it comes to people who are violent and a danger to the community, to treat the psychological problems causing the conduct but at the same time remove some level of freedom until someone is prepared to sign off with confidence that they no longer pose a violent risk?

The state fails the social contract in cases like this. So does the tired old legal system and its focus on "doing the time" rather than fixing the problem and making society safer.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Officially a pram fascist so get out of the fcuking way pleez!

Pretty packed at the High Vibes today. Lots of waiting, taking it in turns to squeeze through narrow gaps in the crowd. All ok. Lots of people stepping over and in front of Bear's pram as if they have some birthright to push in front of small children. NOT AS OK.

At one particular junction I was waiting, some people filed through the other way, then I moved to push Bear through the gap and then one rude ingrate after another started simply stepping in front of us. After about 3 I purposefully inched forward, almost in the gap, then some flitty Gen Y in one of those stupid yellow dresses that look like a recycled shower curtain sticks her strappy little leg in front of the pram. Eager boy hot on her tails prepares to do the same.

So I simply pushed on out, ramming her in the heels in the process and attracting a glance, returned glance, passed it on to imbecile boyfriend, put my elbow and leg out past the pram's airspace and Bear and I took our rightful place in the traffic.

I trust the turds recognised the volatile sanity of the protective father and next time consider going around or waiting 2 nanomoments for their turn.

And it wasn't just the Gen Ys, there is definitely something generally noticeable, I'm sure the likes of Zoe were trying to tell me this before Bear was born, in the way parents with kids are suddenly made to feel like they are carrying signs that read "Ebola, do not make welcome" when they attempt to join in with anything involving teh coolness.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Find me the economists

...the pro-free market libertarian ones, who were predicting this carnage 6 months ago.

If they have so little idea, why do we let them dictate so much policy? I predicted the Wik decision, no-one went and made me Attorney-General.

Cairns vignettes- of lemon juice and waltzing

Standing in the aisle asking various members of the Essendon Bombers for autographs- for my friends' daughter. Sure, they would have been thinking, until I asked a couple whether they were part of the team. I guess at that point it was obvious I'm not a paid up fan (Saints, as you ask, and no it hasn't been a good evening as I write this).

Being stuck in Palm Cove and learning, contrary to the timetables, that there are no more buses home. Don't suppose it occurred to any of the halfwits who run the buses up that way but that's a bit of a problem when you've got a toddler with you, and no car seat. So we get dropped by a different bus out on the highway, half an hour's walk from Trinity Beach. Well into the night. I'm walking my pregnant wife and little toddler back along a dark road, miles from anywhere, and she wonders why I pull a random stake out of the ground and put it in the back of the stroller. Dogs, principally.

A metre of silver queenfish bolting back and forth aggressively striking at the surface popper I'm skipping over the sandbank. An explosion as they connect, then the silver bar is leaping through the air, a surreal vision, incompatible with the still rich green of the rainforest-covered mountain behind. She tows us for 15 minutes and has her revenge twice, drawing blood as I lift her back into the water and coming back in bolts of pain in my wrist over the next 2 days. She was tired, but I held her in the current and swam her patiently until she kicked free.

I kept the trevally, he was small, pan-sized, and looking the wrong side of mortality. I went down to the corner shop and got some lemon juice, before hacking at him for a while to get 2 half-decent fillets and a bunch of scraps. I had the scraps, I fed my Beloved the fillets, as fresh as fish can be, drizzled in lemon and just cooked enough that the big white flakes were coming apart. We sat in the sultry tropical night, washing the fish down with a crisp dry white. Life didn't seem so bad.

Bear couldn't believe the pool. I dunked her a few times to get her back in the swing, she's lost a touch of confidence since we were going to swimming lessons last term. She was iffy, but hung in there. I made my way up and back, her on my shoulders, randomly 'bombing' myself under water and bouncing back up to hear her cackling with laughter. I put her on her front and swirled her around and around, singing the Blue Danube all the way while she smiled, as if to say 'you're a case, but for a dad you're ok'. Later she would point in the right direction and say 'pool, pool' and get shirty when we, inexplicably, failed to drop dinner to take her back for another round.

There were times, such as sitting on the beach, sharing half a mile of white sand with about 5 other people, warm, but not hot, the breeze in our collective hair, Bear in a state of bliss with her legs buried in sand, both of us drinking cool vanilla milkshakes, when I reached across and held Beloved's hand and Melbourne didn't make much sense at all. Life, generally, the way we normally live it made no sense at all.

The queue for Jetstar on the way home was about 200m long. I had the suitcase, all 20 odd kilos worth, kidseat (which can't be fitted to some cabs up there because they are in the process of covering the attachment rings with plastic, because dead kids matter less than stained seats, or something) and more. I was shuffling it all along. The man behind me was about 80. He started helping me, ignoring my protests and pulling the main bag along. He did this all the way down the line. We chatted about many things. We agreed Gordon Ramsay is a nasty piece of work, and that his success is emblematic of the decline of western civilisation. Yet his actions convinced me that there is good to be found around every corner.

When the pile of administration that is my work frustrates me I let my eyes glaze over and I'm back laughing in the pool, slinking into the sand, or poised, watching the surface of the Russell River...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Turnbull Triggers The Hundred Million Dollar Question

The Hundred Million Dollar Man has taken what he has long seen as his rightful inheritance. An over-achieving lawyer in the Hawke-Clinton tradition, Malcolm Turnbull's appointment is an event of significance for another reason.

The Liberal Party has appointed a liberal to be its leader.

A big picture liberal who undoubtedly sits at the left of his party on "social" issues. Up against a small-c conservative in Rudd, sitting as he does towards the right of his own part on matters social.

So the Hundred Million Dollar Question is:

Is it possible under Turnbull we will end up with a liberal opposition that is as, or more, socially progressive than the Labor Party?

Other big questions include will he get knifed at the first stumble, is yet another rhetorically brilliant barrister what the system needs, and will Spycatcher get republished?

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Father and the Trinity

Father's day found us at Trinity Beach. The air is warm and a touch humid. The wind blows continuously off the ocean through Bear's hair as she stares incredulously at the "Wayvffs".

They come at our legs and we lift her up so her feet trail through the broken foam. We fill the bucket and walk back up to the "sann-pitt" at "tob-ov-o-beach". She pours, digs, lifts and drops, with a face of wonder.

Beloved and I let the heat soak into our bones, purging work, sub-clauses, office politics, the housing market, and the never ending flow of rat-running traffic. I steal a kiss here and there; we watch Bear and the sea.

There are 3 pools in the resort, we are sharing with about 9 people. One pool has an excellent strip of shallow water where we loll around while a Bear splashes and whoops with delight.

I've sipped through a nice Wirra-Wirra and have opened a Marlborough Sav Blanc. In the evening it matches the warm air on the balcony and the palm fronds, through which we can see the lagoon.

The Cub is starting to dance for his mum, only a matter of time and I know I'll be feeling his kicks and then the crazy dad who sings at tummies will be back.

Happy father's day to me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The sand between our toes

In 6 hours the alarm will go off. In the dark we'll strap the baby seat into a cab and head for the airport with a bleary Bear and probably about half a litre of coffee gurgling around a dad's stomach.

Later, having arrived and discombobulated, we will walk out onto a beach somewhere north of Cairns, let go of a Bear, and let her run with the sheer joy of it all.

And haul her away from the water time and time again. And occasionally make like a goof and run through the shallows letting her legs thwack into the broken waves while she cackles her lungs out.

I will not meander through excel spreadsheets nor touch a photocopier. I will drink flourescent cocktails with mini-umbrellas. And I will enjoy a lasting smile for the first time in weeks.