Observant little ...

I don't understand the answer, but I may have some ideas on the question...

Back in the land of the living

Well, after nearly 2 weeks off work, I'm back. I probably could have posted over the last couple of days from home, but about all I had to say was how disgusting I felt and that's not what I want to write about, or I'm sure what any of you want to read about! ;o)

In the meantime, I'm still working short days (on doctor's orders), but I'm very happy to be back home where I can wear clothes that fit me after having to borrow Mum's clothes for most of the time I was sick, since I'd only anticipated being there overnight when I arrived, so only had one change of clothes. I even had to get Mum to buy me some jocks from the supermarket! Oh, the horror! ;o)

But there's been quite a bit of news while I've been offline:

Career - I've now been extended in my current higher duties position for another 6 months, and there's a 50/50 chance I'll be extended further after that and may even get a permanent position out of it, so that part is looking brighter.

Niece - my niece was back in hospital for most of the time that I was off sick. The good news is that they think they've finally pinned down the exact nature of the problem. The bad news is that it means she needs a complete liver transplant, and sooner rather than later. They're hoping she'll be able to get one within the next year, or she'll start getting sicker and sicker.

Real estate - as a result of that, my brother and I are looking at buying a 3 bedroom townhouse together which is in walking distance of the hospital. I'll pay the bulk of the mortgage and bills and have the bulk of the share in the property, and will live in it full time. He'll pay a portion of the mortgage and bills, on the basis that the townhouse will be their Brisbane base for when my niece has to be in hospital so she can have her own stuff around her and a bit of continuity, and in the long term, it will be an investment for them. Since it will benefit both of their children, my parents will put up the 15-20% deposit to get us started, which should mean I can get better mortgage terms.

I'm sure there's other stuff that's been happening, but they're the ones at the front of my mind right now.

Listening to: Ben Folds - Songs for Silverman

out of action

I'm out of action for a bit with the 'flu and a horribly rattly chest that they're still trying to decide between bronchitis and pneumonia as the cause. Today is the first day that I've been able to sit up for longer than half an hour without feeling like I'm going to faint and I've been like this since last Thursday.

At least I'm home with Mum so I haven't had to worry about how to get myself to doctors and tests and specialists when I can't drive, and I've had someone to grocery shop and prepare food and buy tissues and make sure I'm breathing when I faint.

I can even get the occasional cuddle when I promise not to breath on her. ;o)

Mums are great. I'd probably say the same about Dad, but he's caught the same bug so he's been a worse patient that I have.

Listening to: the sound of my own coughing

work/life balance

Since this is an issue that interests me, I'm updating my other posts about AAR work/life balance with this one from a recent interview:-

Q: You have been quoted as saying you expect your lawyers to be on-call to clients at all times. For the record, what are your expectations of partners and lawyers in terms of work hours, weekends and their availability to clients?

A: We certainly expect our partners and lawyers to look after their clients. We also expect them to look after themselves. And we don’t see those as inconsistent expectations. We are very good at ensuring an appropriate blend of life inside and outside of work for our people. We offer flexible work practices and so on to enable people to work from home. We’ve got good technology. We are also very keen on offering outstanding service to our clients. We think outstanding, clever and committed lawyers can achieve both outcomes. As a formal matter, we tend to think 1,300 or 1,400 hours per year is fair, but we don’t at this stage and haven’t ever driven our lawyers by budget and I think we may be one of the last large firms not to do that. But the 1,300 or 1,400 hours that we internally plan on getting is a lot less than others. It puts us in the middle range and is certainly a lot less that the London firms and the Wall Street firms and their staff. If it comes down to how you balance what you plan to do for the weekend with what the clients are planning for you, well, the answer is that you have to find a way. Finding that may be to get someone else involved and it might mean that sometimes you have to miss your cricket game.

Hmmm... 1300 to 1400 billable hours per day. Assuming that you work 48 weeks in the year (taking out holidays, sick leave and public holidays), 5 days a week, that would be 240 billable days, so they are looking at around 5 1/2 to 6 hours of billable work a day. That's still quite a lot really - sure, not as bad at London or New York, but it still makes for a long day when you consider that maybe half your time at work is billable.

I still think that the billable hours concept makes for unhappy lawyers and unhappy clients, since lawyers start to view success by the amount of time they spend in the office, and clients get bigger bills because the lawyer bills them for every 6 minutes spent, even if it isn't productive.

And as for "how you balance what you plan to do for the weekend with what the clients are planning for you, well, the answer is that you have to find a way" - yes, and my response would be that the clients shouldn't be planning anything for me on a weekend! Obviously there is the exception of bailing your client out of jail or seeking an urgent injunction, but otherwise, why can't it wait until Monday?

I guess that's just another reason why I like working for government. I'm quite happy to sacrifice salary for the right to have my weekends to myself, and except for the odd Sunday night flight for a Monday morning court appearance, working for government allows me to do that. Even if I am still in the office at 6:30pm tonight... ;o)

Listening to: Matthew Sweet - Time Capsule

the music of my dreams

Every so often (less often than I'd like), I wake up from a dream with a complete original song or tune in my head. On those occassions, I get up straight away and sit at my keyboard until the tune in my head has been mapped out on paper.

And since this happened at 3am this morning, and my keyboard doesn't have headphones and is a bit dodgy on the volume control*, I hereby publically apologise profusely to my neighbours if I woke them up. They can take some comfort that the final version sounds better than the hit and miss notes they would have heard this morning.

Now all I have to do is write some lyrics for it.

* You can't just make it the volume you want since there seems to be a dodgy connection there and it will only work at certain volumes. It sounded very loud to me, but then, everything sounds loud at 3am - I have noticed that if I'm watching TV at that hour, I have the volume at 5 when it's usually at about 11 or 12.

Listening to: Augie March - Thanks for the Memes

Virgin mobile and cheesy things

First up - I'm looking at getting a new mobile phone. As part of this, I'm changing mobile service providers because I hate Optus with a passion. I'm pretty keen on Virgin because you can change plans within Virgin as often as you like over the 24 months you're paying off the phone. And I haven't heard anything bad about them. Only problem is, I haven't heard anything good about them either since I quite literally don't know a single soul who has them as their service provider. So I'm asking - anyone got any good or bad stories to tell?

I just can't resist this week's edition of BTQ's Friday Spies:

1. What's your favorite cheese?

Depends on my mood. I can rarely if ever say no to Dutch Smoked Cheese though.

2. Cheesy movie: If you were in Top Gun, what would your call sign be?

Since I'd be the only chick in a bunch of testosterone ridden guys, probably either "Ice Queen" or "Easy". ;o) If I was able to choose my own (which I doubt would happen), I'd like to be "Enigma" - I'm not sure why, but that word has always appealed to me.

3. Big cheese: Tell us a boss story -- best boss, worst boss, a time when you were the boss, etc.

I'm taking the easy option and going for "a time when (I was) the boss", which is easy because I can just link to a previous post.

4. Say cheese: Are you a photobug? Are you photogenic? Or, in 1000 words or less, tell us about your best picture.

I take photos, but I don't like being in them. Other people think I'm photogenic, but I rarely like photos of myself.

I think my best picture is one I took when I was in New Zealand. It's of this lake which was way off the beaten path, but had this fabulous half-submerged jetty from the shore and snow-capped mountains across the lake. I loved the spot and I've got an A4 size print framed on my wall at home.

5. Just cheesy: What's the worst pick-up line you've ever used, or had used on you? Did it work?

A pick-up line I've always liked, but never used, is "I've lost my phone number. Could I borrow yours?". I've heard too many cheesy one's to recount, and none of them have ever worked. Some have got a reaction, but that's not the same thing.

Favourite comeback?
Guy: "So how would you like your eggs in the morning?"
Girl: "Unfertilised"

Listening to: Chris Pickering - Hard to Find EP

In the news

News items that caught my attention:-

- Being cuddled improves your health

I guess that's why I'm always healthier when I'm in a relationship. And here I was thinking it was just the regular sex... *g*

- one in five solicitors fail to lodge their tax return in time

You would think that solicitors, who are the ones who really should know the law the best, would be able to get their tax returns in on time.

Thankfully, I'm one of the 4 in 5 who manages it.

Does anyone know why the shuttle landing was such big news? I was watching TV last night when it happened and it was covered on all of the commercial channels with some programs being interupted for it. I just don't understand what all of the excitement is about.

Listening to: Snow Patrol - Final Straw


An anonymous commenter recently added this comment to this post:

I bet that OLS couldn't even tell the difference between an "American" and a "Canadian" accent, especially those derived from the West Coast. Preference in accents usually amounts to prefering (or being ambivalent about) certain groups of people.

No matter how you choose to dress it up, Seppo is a derogatory remark. Imagine Australians collective outrage if their nickname in the US was invented around 60 years ago and meant "full of shit" or the like. I can't imagine that you'd be too pleased.

Let's not kid ourselves. There is a lot of hateful prejudice against Americans in Australia. Certiainly more than there is for Aussies in the US. The loud and drunk thing for example. Do you really think that Aussies on the whole are a more sober, humble and quiet people? I've done too much traveling to ever believe that old chestnut.

Since this was such an old post, and since it gave me something to write about, I thought I'd comment by another post, rather than by adding a comment.

Firstly, the anonymous poster would have lost that bet. I'm guessing that they haven't been around here much, or they might have read about my talking about this sort of stuff before. I have been able to tell the difference between Canadian and American accents since I was 11yo. For me, the two are as different as a Dublin accent from a Belfast accent. True, Canadians are often amazed that I know they're not American (and can frequently tell what part of Canada they're from), since they find that people outside of America and Canada often can't tell the difference. A bit like Aussies and Kiwis I guess. We think the differences are obvious, but people from other nations often think we sound exactly the same.

As for my preference, it's not based on how I feel about Americans compared with Scottish, Irish or English people. As a general rule, I really like the American backpackers I've met on my travels and was close friends with a couple of the exchange students at Uni (as I mentioned in my original post). My preference is purely auditory - I don't like the sound of most American accents. I'm also not partial to German accents, but I happen to really like the German people I've met.

From my travels, I think most Aussies are referred to as "full of shit" by the Americans. *g* And it's not coated in rhyming slang (which, I may add, is an integral part of Aussie culture). And I like to think that it's usually part of a friendly ribbing. ;o) Even the most serious of Aussies back home seem to develop that larrakin quality when they travel. Like teaching fellow travellers phrases such as "I'm as dry as a dead dingo's donger". I certainly didn't come across any young Aussie travellers who were offended by it.

And I never said that "Aussies on the whole are a more sober, humble and quiet people". I believe that came from one of Kayla's comments and I personally don't agree with it. Americans in general do tend to have louder voices overall than any other nationality, but I think that Aussies take the cake for getting drunk and raucous, especially overseas, and especially in those Outback pubs you get all over the UK. Of course, that's not to say that I didn't meet a lot of quiet Americans and sober Australians as well. It's just that the majority is what you remember, not the exception.

I still wonder where there really is a lot of hateful prejudice against Americans in Australia. Just as I really do wonder about the questions in the second last paragraph of my post. I would never travel on the assumption that everyone loves Australians, and I'm a little surprised that American students would.

However, many American backpackers I've met, and many American blogs I read, have discussed the insular nature of many Americans in not being aware of much beyond the boundaries of their own country. My questions were not rhetorical, but quite honest. Are American uni students really so unaware of how their country is perceived by the rest of the world that they truly believe that "everyone loved Americans"? It just doesn't seem possible.

Listening to: some program on the ABC


Because sometimes the need becomes too great...

You Are 40% Weird

Normal enough to know that you're weird...
But too damn weird to do anything about it!

I think that one speaks for itself.

How You Life Your Life

You are honest and direct. You tell it like it is.

You tend to avoid confrontation and stay away from sticky situations.

You prefer a variety of friends and tend to change friends quickly.

You tend to dream big, but you worry that your dreams aren't attainable.

All quite true. Except that I haven't changed friends much lately.

You Are 38% Addicted to Blogthings

Okay, so you know how to take and post a Blogthing.
But you're no addict. (Hey, this quiz *proves* it!)
For you, Blogthings is more of a healthy habit.
At least, that's what you tell yourself!

Also speaks for itself.

Your Ideal Relationship is Casual Dating

Maybe you're looking for love...
But mostly you're looking for fun.
You could get serious with the right person.
For now, though, you're enjoying playing the field.

All quite true. Sure I'd like to find someone to get serious about, but I'm not going to judge every guy I meet on those criteria. I prefer to just go with the flow and enjoy the moment.

You are Agonistic

You're not sure if God exists, and you don't care.
For you, there's no true way to figure out the divine.
You rather focus on what you can control - your own life.
And you tend to resent when others "sell" religion to you.

And once again - all true.

You Should Learn Spanish

For you, learning a language is about career advancement and communication.
Knowing Spanish will bring you tons of possiblities for jobs and travel. Bárbaro!

Although I don't agree with the first statement, I do want to learn Spanish. Mainly because I like the sound of it, but also because it would be handy to know when I travel to South America.

Your Career Type: Artistic

You are expressive, original, and independent.
Your talents lie in your artistic abilities: creative writing, drama, crafts, music, or art.

You would make an excellent:

Actor - Art Teacher - Book Editor
Clothes Designer - Comedian - Composer
Dancer - DJ - Graphic Designer
Illustrator - Musician - Sculptor

The worst career options for your are conventional careers, like bank teller or secretary.

What about a creative lawyer? Hmmm... is that a contradiction of terms? Or just a phrase for lawyers who get disbarred... ;o)

Your Slanguage Profile

Aussie Slang: 100%
Victorian Slang: 50%
British Slang: 25%
Southern Slang: 25%
Canadian Slang: 0%
New England Slang: 0%
Prison Slang: 0%

So I'm 100% Aussie. Big surprise.

What Your Dreams Mean...

Your dreams seem to show that you're a bit disturbed... but nothing serious.
You may have a problem you're trying to work out in your sleep.
Your dreams tend to reflect your insecurities.
Your dreams indicate that you have very conflicted feelings.
You have a very vivid imagination and a rich creative mind.

Again. All true. I do tend to dream about issues or feelings that I'm struggling with during the day. It takes me a while to work out why I had that dream sometimes, but I can usually pin it down to something if I think more about the way I was feeling than the actual content of the dream.

Your #1 Love Type: ENTP

The Visionary
In love, you are always trying to improve and grow your relationship.
For you, sex should be a spontaneous adventure.

Overall, you are magnetic, inspiring, and a charmer.
However, you tend to get bored and want to change partners frequently.

Best matches: INFJ and INTJ

Your #2 Love Type: ENFP

The Inspirer

In love, you are passionate and eager to develop a strong bond.
For you, sex should be playful, creative, and affectionate.

Overall, you are perceptive and bring out the best in your partner.
However, you tend to hold on to bad relationships after they've turned bad.

Best matches: INTJ and INFJ

Also all true. Well, I like to think that "magnetic, inspiring and a charmer" are true. The "bored and want to change partners frequently" may seem contradictory to the "hold on to bad relationships after they've turned bad", but I tend to find that they are both true. The thing is that I tend to get bored quickly with the wrong sort of guy for me, but when I'm with the right sort of guy for me, I want to hang on with both hands and not let go. Even when things obviously aren't working. I keep on thinking that I can improve things, that I can help my partner get over a hurdle, or that I can change something about my own behaviour or lifestyle that will help. I refuse to change my personality to suit someone else, but I'm more than happy to change the way my personality is affects other people.

Your Seduction Style: The Natural

You don't really try to seduce people... it just seems to happen.
Fun loving and free spirited, you bring out the inner child in people.
You are spontaneous, sincere, and unpretentious - a hard combo to find!
People drop their guard around you, and find themselves falling fast.

I wouldn't know how to seduce someone if I tried. Mind you, I'm not sure that I ever actually have (seduced, not tried). But it does seem that the guys that fall for me do so because I'm the sort of girl who'll do a cartwheel in the carpark, or spontaneously dance a jig in the pub, or who'll play tag in a nightclub. So I guess the "inner child" comment is right. ;o)

Most of my weekend plans have been cancelled because everyone else is sick, so I guess I'll be having another quiet weekend. Which I really should - my house desperately needs a solid 3-hour clean, rather than the quick 30-minute touch ups I've been giving it lately.

Listening to: Brendan Benson - The Alternative to Love

Career options

Well, it's been another busy week.

I didn't get the job I went for, but considering who I was up against, I'm not all that surprised. And I did get lots of nice comments in my feedback.

One of the problems I'm facing at this stage of my career is that, because I've moved around a lot and practised in many different areas, I'm often up against someone who has better experience in a narrow field, but less experience overall. And because the jobs in government are determined by the narrow confines of selection criteria and not by how well-rounded you are, I'm missing out on jobs that I'm probably better qualified for than the people who get them.

Which wasn't the case for this particular job. I was competing against some highly qualified people, but it's a general question I've been looking at.

As far as I can tell, I have 5 options:-

1. Settle myself into one area of law and specialise.

2. Go into a pure policy position where the breadth of my experience is a bonus.

3. Go into management where (again) the breadth of my experience is a bonus.

4. Go back to private practice where I'll still have to specialise, but my broad experience is taken into account rather than just my experience in one narrow area.

5. Resign myself to the fact that my career is currently at a standpoint in terms of permanent placement and just enjoy the variety of work I'm continuing to get.

Unfortunately, each of these options has its problems:-

1. I like the variety of work I do and don't want to stagnate.

2. Pure policy work is a bit too academic to keep me truly happy. I like being at the pointy end of the law.

3. I've sat in management positions temporarily and didn't really enjoy it. And it means that I'll no longer be working as a lawyer.

4. Although I have enough experience behind me now to go back into private practice on my own terms, I don't want to go back to working 14 hour days and being expected to place my job before all else.

5. I haven't been in my permanent position for over 18 months now. I've outgrown the position which means that I no longer do the work in my position description and I'd be very underpaid for the work I actually do and my position label doesn't reflect the level of my advice (it's a bit like being charged out as a solicitor when you're actually a partner).

So I don't really like any of those options. I suppose I'll end up going for Option 1 as the lesser of the 5 evils, but it may involve moving to a different department, which I'm not sure I want to do. There are too many aspects of this department that I like.

*sigh* Decisions, decisions!

Listening to: Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling towards ecstasy