Sunday, May 27, 2012


I've made some terrible decisions. I think that is probably true for most people, but it still bears saying. I've made some terrible decisions.

How long does this haunt you? I suppose the obvious answer is as long as it takes to rectify the decision, to correct it.

So, let's play it out, step by step.

Step one: Identify problem/mistake

Step two: ???

Step three: Profit!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

the clothes maketh the manchild

Vanity being one of my many vices, I've spent considerable time thinking about clothes and styles of dress. I've experimented with various themes - from an ill-advised and extended dalliance with a grungy aesthetic (I owned for years a pair of high rotation cut-off army pants that I would combine with the requisite well worn Chucks and t-shirts featuring whatever Seattle-based band I was listening to at the time), through to a period where I would only wear functional athletic or outdoorsy clothes almost exclusively constructed from materials that were marketed with terms like "quick-drying" and "breathability". Europe exerted its influence, and my wardrobe grew to include numerous pairs of jeans, Italian leather shoes, and even accessories. I did spend a year or so only wearing (much to my wife's dissappointment/astonishment) bright red Crocs, right though the middle of a Swedish winter.

Lately though, I've been feeling a little frustrated at my clothing choices. This has been building for a while now, from a couple of different directions. As I mentioned, we spent some time in Sweden, a place where people appear to put some actual thought into their clothes, and I began to feel like I should stop actively trying to dress like a slob. Around the same time I became slightly Mad Men obsessed and started thinking it would be nice get around in a suit a little more often. There were some weddings and dinner parties that required formal attire, and I had a couple of professional engagements that called for a jacket and a decent shirt, despite occurring in the academic world where a general sartorial quirkiness (think tweed jackets with elbow patches, corduroy slacks and sandals) is not only acceptable but expected.

Knowing what I liked, but not why, and realising that there were rules out there, I did some research. I like rules. They take some of the guess work out of dressing 'correctly', and it turns out there is another arcane body of knowledge I can immerse myself in and thus once again fulfill my desire to 'get my geek on'.

So research I did. I started following this guy, which ticked all the right boxes - classy and traditional while being approachable (and not requiring immense amounts of money). There are a few others out there as well: The Sartorialist, A Suitable Wardrobe, among others. My vocabulary has expanded to include terms like selvage, shantung and tussah silk knits, grenadines, bicolour ties and houndstooth (not that I really know what these terms actually mean). I developed a desire and willingness to wear 'nice' clothes. Clothes that make you stand taller, that make you look like a grownup and not some rapidly-approaching-middle-aged-man-desperately-trying-to-hang-on-to-his-youth-by-wearing-jeans-and-novelty/vintage-t-shirts.

And at this point in my wardrobe development I find myself in Cairns, where 'formal wear' means leather sandals instead of thongs and shorts that come with belt loops instead of drawstrings and velcro. Admittedly, it gets damn hot here, and the opportunity to layer, to wear long pants or even a decent mid-weight suit without expiring from heat stroke or at the very least ruining your clothes with sweat stains are few and far between. This is a climate that favours those quick-drying 'functional' clothes I am trying to move away from, a place where Crocs actually make sense.

So I bought a powder blue safari suit. Formal attire for the tropics. BAM!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

attention deficit

I'm surrounded by distractions. Twitter, RSS feeds, tumblr, the endless text messages, emails, phone calls and now, just to throw a little technological anachronism into the mix, now I have a fax machine on my desk. All this feels like a series of distractions competing for my attention, and I find myself trying (and more often than not failing) to multi-task so that I get through all the things I need to do in a day. I know I'm not alone in this, and it is obviously nothing new - all sorts of people have been writing about the dangers the saturation of modern technology pose to the minds of our precious children. Of course I never get past the first paragraph of any of these articles, so I have to imagine the dangers.

And imagine them I do, when I can concentrate long enough. I imagine that these articles are talking about the lack of time we have to think about things in any depth, and that we are increasingly forced to juggle, make snap decisions, absorb more and more information without ever taking the time to stop and analyse all this wonderful information that is suddenly at our beck and call.

I had a point here. I was going somewhere with this.

That's right. I keep feeling like these distractions distract me from the more important stuff I should be doing. But then I am so distracted that I can't work out what the important stuff is. I guess I'm just a man-child, still looking for that answer. What am I doing with my life?

Running as fast as I can from the idea that I might be wasting it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Careers advice

Way back in the day, when I was a wee whippersnapper, knee high to a grasshopper, or as my sainted mother says "when I was a boy", I had a class in high school that was all about careers advice. All the usual stuff was covered - how to write a resume, why it was a good idea to turn up to an interview on time (or even 5 minutes early!) and all the standard job-market-preparation stuff. I don't remember much being said about putting some thought into which career might be appropriate. For all I know this was covered in great detail, but one look at my work history would indicate that I either missed that class, or more likely had completely tuned out and spent the hour carving Rollins Band lyrics into my folder. I was an angry young man for a couple of years there.

One thing I do actually remember was the teacher, whose name, if I recall correctly, was Mr. Virtue (is that even possible? How can that not be made up?). I remember that he had a penchant for creeping up on the Yr.12 kids smoking down near the bottom paddock in a bright red sweater vest that must have been visible from a low earth orbit. At any rate, Mr. Virtue told the class one day that in today's job market we, as the upcoming generation of employees, could not expect to land a job straight out of school and stay in essentially the same role for 40 years until we retired to a comfortable life on the pension. Rather, we should plan on having to retrain and change careers up to 3 times over the course of our working lives.

Once again, a quick glance over my work history might lead one to believe that this was one of the few gems of knowledge I actively took on board during my tenure (internment) at that particular school (penitentiary/rehabilitation centre). This is not to imply that I wasn't a good student. School work was one of the few areas I could retreat into, being neither particularly popular, athletic or funny, which was all that really mattered in that enlightened environment.

And yet here I am, rapidly approaching my 34th trip around the sun with nary a solid career path to either look back on with fondness, or look forward to with excitement. How is it that I have managed to effectively tread water for so long with out drowning? The mind boggles. It seems as though in my career choices I have channeled the mind of a 9 year old child in the candy aisle of a supermarket, clutching in a sweaty fist only enough money for a mars bar or a snickers, but not both.

So along these lines - very definitely so - I am applying for yet another degree. Clearly a Bachelors (admittedly only a BA, the ugly stepson of tertiary education) and a Masters of Science have helped me find financially and professionally rewarding work. Another Masters is exactly what I need. I guess (hope) that I may have learned something this time - I am applying for a degree with a vocational outlook. An MBA, so that I can become a captain of industry, wear pinstripe suits on a daily basis, and support myself and my family in the manner to which I have become accustomed (or at least aspire to).

Cue late night reading sessions about finance for managers, accounting practices and organisational behaviour. And the associated procrastination-driven blog posts.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


We've been living in the same house for a bit over 6 months now. I know that doesn't sound like much, but it feels like we've been coasting, just visiting for a long time now. It took us nearly three months to buy a bed, I think partially because we were still in this temporary phase and the act of purchasing large items of furniture would mean that we were staying.

We're also very picky. I've spent so much time surrounded by stuff that was just okay that I got sick of it. There is no reason not to have beautiful furniture. After we folded and bought a bed, we started to collect a few other bits and pieces - a coffee table that we had a local graffiti artist paint, a filing cabinet that got the same treatment (and made me ridiculously happy - my obsession with filing things away got the better of me there), a bookcase. We searched around for months for a set of bedside tables that we liked enough to commit to, to no avail.

Then a little while ago we made the decision (or more properly admitted that it was inevitable) that we would move back to Sweden. Europe suits us better, for a whole range of reasons. All of a sudden this furniture went from being just furniture (pretty furniture I'll admit, but essentially just stuff that fills up a room and gets covered with other stuff) to items that needed to be removed or sold, from things to things in the way. And then we bought a desk, a chair and two bedside tables (the latter of which I am increasingly fond of). And I realised that I had become that person, that we had become that couple. That couple who spend their free time browsing around the warehouses of second hand furniture dealers and auctioneers.

There is no hope.

Monday, January 3, 2011

resolutions 2.0

It's been a little quiet here of late. I won't go into the details, other than to say that I don't want to talk about, and it's really not all that bad. Part of the problem has been that since mid January 2010 I have been without that most essential of element of modern day life: a reliable computer and a stable internet connection to plug it into. I'm clawing my way back into the 21st century now though: I'm even a Mayor on foursquare. I have an iphone, and I live in a house with a surfeit of raw computing power.

All of this is mere apologia and excuse-mongering. The purpose of this post (in academia they call this 'the thesis statement') is to revisit some things I said about this time last year, conduct a review, an appraisal, an audit, and try again. So onto business. In the interests of clarity (and really just assuaging my slightly anal-retentive nature) I'll address each goal as I originally posted it:


Qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Fail. I didn't make the race, partially for financial reasons, but mostly because I was on the move for months and stopped training. On the upside, I did enter (on the spur of the moment) a half-marathon race in Thailand, where I came 4th in my age group. This was a totally decent effort, considering one of the guys who beat me was a professional from Kenya, and I was recovering from one of the most excruciating bouts of food poisoning I have ever had the misfortune of experiencing. The take-home message here, kids, is to stick to a training plan, but make sure it is a realistic training plan, and don't eat oysters in the off season on Koh Samui. I know they look great, but they are really just little time bombs, just waiting to detonate in your digestive tract.

Complete an Olympic Distance Triathlon.

Fail. I missed the season in Cairns, and we didn't move south into that professional job that I was expecting, so I missed (am missing) the season down there. I have, however, bought a bike and made a commitment to racing next June, but more on that later.

Spend more time in the pool. Fail. The less said about this the better.


Here's the kicker. I barely managed to finish my thesis, and had to claw back a pass from my examiner to get there. Griffith fell through, or perhaps decided that I wasn't pHd material. I put my head down (in between feeling extremely sorry for myself) and started applying for government jobs in Cairns. That's right - Cairns. After numerous rejections I folded and started applying for hospitality work. I am now a store manager for two outlets of a moderately successful Brisbane based café franchise. This, in essence, is why I have been hiding from the world. I feel like a failure. Which bleeds into the next category:

Be a better partner.

Recently I realised that I have been a self-involved arsehole for the last 6 months or so. My partner doesn't want to live in Cairns, and she doesn't really want to live in a share house. I ignored all the signals (and they weren't that subtle - I'm fairly sure that on a number of occasions she said "I don't want to live in Cairns, and I don't want to live in a share house"), and co-signed a 12 month lease on a share house in Cairns. She, being the supportive and patient person she is, got a job in an industry that she hates and is physically bad for her (more on that on another day, but I'll just say this: RSI-induced spinal osteoarthritis and a slipped disc in her neck). I spent the next 6 months chasing a promotion for a job that I don't even enjoy, spending 6-7 days a week at work and essentially ignoring her (along with all my other friends and family).

Get a dog.

The only resolution I have managed to achieve in the last 12 months is to get a dog. She's been a funny little puppy, and gives the impression of developing into a much larger, but wonderful dog. I can take very little responsibility for this as Hanna has done most of the training, but she is still one of the brightest things in my day at the moment.

So on reflection, I'm an arsehole. And I've wasted the last year. It's time to re-evaluate things (in fact, it's been time for a while, but I've failed to notice this). It's time to start doing things a little differently. It might be time to re-write my resolutions, even though it is nearly April.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

for jo

This probably won't make any sense to the 6 other people that read this blog, but it's for Jo.