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Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Three Years Already

Woah. Time so flies.

Happy Birthday Phoebe.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Butter fingered Friday

Apart from my coding work and general PC maintenance in our department, I also get asked to perform the odd technical job on non-computer related items. This has included such things as cleaning and stocking our coffee machine and removing recalcitrant staples from our oversized booklet type stapler. Nothing too dramatic usually, but enough to break the monotony from time to time.

Today was a bit different. To set the scene, on Friday's we have morning tea at 11am in our department. A different person is rostered on each week, which means that your turn comes around every six or seven months. We get a fair few overseas postgrads and staff, so from time to time we get to sample a variety of their local specialities. Any leftovers are generally left in the kitchenette for people to snack on during the rest of the day.

So around 3:30 or so rolls around. I'm in my office, which is quite close to said kitchenette, which is also right next to our shared department fax machine, MFD, pidgeonholes, etc area. So I'm contemplating an afternoon coffee to help the coding move along a bit better when I hear a commotion in the shared office area. And then the dreaded phrase - "Christian, can you come and give us a hand?"

Now, most of the people in our department are fairly computer literate, and tend to be able to find the "any" key all by themselves. So if I'm getting called over to the machines there is usually a pretty good reason. I wander out of my office to see our AA and a postgrad clustered around our shredding machine, poking at it with, of all things, tweezers. The look at me and say,

"Can you help? We've dropped a knife into the shredder."

I look in, and sure enough, nestled up against the interlocking teeth of the shredder, is a butter knife, complete with bits of cheese on the blade. It appears the postgrad had been cutting some cheese that was left over from the morning and had been left on the desk near the shredder, only to have the knife slip and fall neatly into the shredder's waiting mouth.

Luckily a couple of minutes of tweezer work got it out. It was a tight squeeze as the slot was only designed to take a few sheets at a time, and certainly wasn't wide enough to get a set of fingers in there. Probably a safety feature that.

I chuckled after getting it out and went back to coding. I even managed to get my coffee.

Monday, 21 July 2008

A busy weekend

A busy weekend, and there wasn't even any sport involved. Our soccer game on Saturday was deferred, so it turned into housework/gardening day. The poor washing machine didn't know what hit it (again) and I got stuck into tearing out the last of the ivy and a reasonably large bush from our back garden. It wasn't helped by the 100's of rocks that the previous owners had decided would be perfect as a base for the garden. Every swing of the mattock was accompanied with a "crack" as the head make contact with Yet Another Bloody Rock (YABR(tm)). After much cajoling, cursing, digging, cutting and back-breaking heaving, the bugger of a thing is out. If I get keen I'll upload a couple of pics.

Sunday was more cleaning and tidying, as well as a bbq for Marcus' soccer team. Well, it would have been a bbq if the Sports Union had bothered to make sure the bbqs had any gas in them. It was a good thing everyone brought salads as well.

The evening's ironing was accompanied by part of The Great Race, from the bar fight to the Prince switch in Potsdorf. If you have no idea what I mean, go hire it. Two and a half hours of brilliance. Particularly the pie fight.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Back in town

We're back from our sojourn in Toowoomba for the last week. I spent a fair bit of time playing PGR3 on the XBox 360, getting through the game on medium. It's alright, though pretty repetitive after a while. I think I got through 90% of the game with the first car I purchased, which turned out to be just about the perfect balance of speed and handling.

Back at work and of course there is a mountain of work. I guess that happens when the two main coders are away for the same week. Fortunately no servers blew up while we were away.

Soccer training tonight was a bit light on for numbers. It probably doesn't help that 4 out of the 5 mens teams are lurking at the bottom of their respective tables, but it would help if people showed up. We had 10 out of the local 1st through 3rd grades, and three of those were juniors. Hopefully Thursday will be better.

Hmm, that's about it so far. No more words of literary genius have as yet appeared, but I'm sure some will wander out in the not too distant future.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

HOW many books?!

On holidays at the moment I've spent some time wandering through a few bookshops, searching for presents and the odd bargain. Something has come to my attention that, at first instance, is blindingly obvious, and later is both daunting and encouraging - there are a huge number of books out there.

Obvious, isn't it? Shelves upon shelves of books, in some shops as far as the eye can see. Millions of words, millions of pages, tonnes and tonnes of paper, ink and cardboard. More importantly, thousands and thousands of authors. So how on earth is someone supposed to break into such a market with something that will stand out from the crowd of books already out there? It's an almost deafening cacophany of authors clamoring for our limited attention at any moment, demanding, pleading and cajoling us to buy their masterpiece and spend time, curled up in a comfortable chair near a fire and become lost in a strange new world, or even a twist in our own, and then (this is the hard bit) want to go out and buy another. How does one shoulder their way into such a world with our own literary creation, like the small boy at the back of the crowded milk bar, jumping up and down to try to get the attention of the attendants far above their heads?

Of course, that which is daunting is also encouraging. With all those words out there, as anyone who has a passing interest at reading beyond what was required for school, there is some true dross amongst the jewels, which has also made its way onto the shelves. For every Lord of the Rings there's a poorly written, poorly scripted piece of near plagiarism that somehow snuck past the editing phase and made it to the printers and binders.

So here's my thought on this subject: yes, it's darn terrifying at the prospect of trying to muscle in on those who are already takng up valuble space on the shelves. But if I, or any other author, allow the fear of failure to overwhelm the desire to write something meaningful then nothing will ever come of our vague or perhaps burning desire to transport our readers to some strange, new world, or to delve into the darkest recesses of their psyche, to wring them out and leave them drained, wishing for an end to the saga and at the same time that the saga would never end. We would then, at the end of our lives, ask ourselves, what if I had written that novel I once wrote that outline for? And in so asking, we'd regret that we hadn't taking that risk, hadn't opened ourselves up to the chance of failure and humiliation, but also for the chance of achievement, fulfilment and the chance of seeing our own work on a shelf somewhere, surrounded by millions of other words and saying "here I am - read me if you dare."