Saturday, July 31, 2010


When you have bought plane tickets to another country it is extremely hard to wait until the leaving day.

Luckily, I can look at Stickyrice for help with imagining in the meantime. The junior is pleased to hear that pizza is available in Hanoi.

On the subject of tickets, does anyone think that the Elvis Costello chat show on ABC2 demonstrates a fairly high level of tickets on self? It's intefering a little with my Elvis Costello love-fest, which has been going since I first noticed 'Watching the Detectives' as a little tacker.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My election dream

In which all the journalists say to all the politicians, 'we are not reporting anything you say until you say something interesting, and no, disgusting or rude doesn't count'.

The End.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ode to Joy

The junior is playing Ode to Joy and whistling along, after singing do-re-me and scales with the notes on the keyboard.

It's things like this you think of when you describe the joys of parenting.

Also, he enjoyed his dinner tonight.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A.S. Byatt

I teeter between wanting to be as clever as A.S. Byatt, dreaming that I could one day (if I was very good) write a single sentence as good as one of hers and uneasily feeling like I am letting her down just by existing, let alone by reading one of her books.

And you see, I've let her down again because it's very hard to teeter between three different points, isn't it?

Friday, July 23, 2010

On learning, good teaching (and admin law)

So yesterday I had a glorious day, in which I rose at five so I could fly to Sydney to attend a forum on admin law. Being in Canberra, I was lucky enough to have one of those little planes with a propellor, so we were low enough to see the scenery. You should try it some time, it's super pretty.

Likewise super (though not generally quite as pretty) were the conference delegates and speakers. It was like the admin law equivalent of a sixties supergroup (including in age, I have to say), but with some members who've died and been replaced by young(er) acolytes. The gender balance altered dramatically by age - the oldest were almost all men, recently retired judges and such like, next bracket was slightly more highly represented by men, but lots of present judges and other influential, important types were women too. In the youngest bracket (which was not 'young' as such but probably between 30 and 45) nearly all were women. I'll call this the 'not yet judges' section for the lawyers and the 'not yet departmental secretaries' section for the bureaucrats. I suspect I was the only non-lawyer there (except for the catering staff), so I can have a sub-section to myself. You can all decide on a title for that, but it might be something like 'not ever going to be a judge or a departmental secretary' section.

You know, for most of my life there have been many, many categories for people. Such things as 'artist', 'part-time cook, part-time student', 'journalist', 'bookseller', 'tram conductor', 'annoying idiot' and so on. I am unsure of my views on how my life now has only two categories 'lawyer' and 'not-lawyer'. Anyway, none of this is to do with learning stuff, is it?

So, as you'd expect with the Monsters of Admin Law as represented at the forum, the discussion was quite technical and complicated. If I had attended before May 2010 it would have sounded like 'blah blah blah, Jason, blah blah, blah'. Except each 'blah' probably had about 37 syllables.

However, thanks to the teaching of the law faculty the ANU, I now know my natural justice from my natural icecream, and most of it made sense. I am informed by some of my 'not yet departmental secretary' colleagues that some of it didn't quite make sense to them either, so I can attribute that to either extreme cleverness or extremely poor communication from some of the speakers, I think.

Before yesterday I wasn't at all confident of what I had learned during the course. I think I wrote an abominably bad essay, the kind of essay you write when you are not confident and can't clearly see links between concepts, examples and principles of what it is you are trying to learn. Yesterday, though, it all started to come together. The principles and the reality just clicked. I suddenly saw how the tools of the law, the attitudes of different parts of government, the needs of individuals, the role of the courts and political pressures come together, and how it is that you can start to analyse the information and make choices instead of just reacting to immediate problems to be solved. Because the thing about the good teaching is that it makes available all the information that you need and provides you with tools, but it leaves you to get on with it. And now I can.

One of the best sessions yesterday was about immigration and administration law. It was attended by Jason Kioa, his solicitor and barrister from the case and also by the present Secretary of the Immigration Department. It was the best illustration I have ever seen of how government directly acts on people, and how people do no ever stop being affected by it. I wish every decsion-maker in any government ever had been there. And that was great teaching as well.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Change and stress

The thing is, I don't feel like writing much because I am a bit stressed. I feel like writing when I am unhappy, angry, cheerful, and excited. But not stressed.

I don't much feel like reading either.

Thank goodness for Andrew Davies's Little Dorrit. Did anyone understand the ending?

I was a bit confused by random orphans, diverse wills and marriage between two characters who I thought might have accidentally been related to each other. The bit about the house falling down was damn fine though.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Nanny Piggins

Junior found a new Nanny Piggins at the bookshop today. Generally, the opinion of the family is that these books should be a lot more famous. They may already be very, very famous but however famous they are, they should be more famous. And R.A. Spratt should be beloved by the populace. If you like pigs, cake, being shot out of cannons or food without vegetables, then you will probably like Nanny Piggins, but only if you also have a sense of humour and are not overly concerned with money (except as a method of buying more cake and/or chocolate).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Electioneering and caretaking

So, as a servant who is young in the service (as they say, Yoda-like), I'll be going through my first-ever caretaker period during the electioneering. While part of me thinks it's a bit exciting, another part of me thinks it might be five different kinds of boring, because the Decision Maker won't be making any Decisions which presumably means that the delegates also will be decision-free for the next five weeks. Which means a fantastic opportunity to catch up on a bit of filing and complete all those other tasks we should have finished n (days/weeks/months/years) ago. All of which we are heartily sick of because they are no long New and Thrilling and suchlike adjectives, but are Routine instead.

On the other hand, it's an election! And that means the local school might have a sausage sizzle, cake stall, lamington drive or second-hand book stall. Hurrah for democracy.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Eddie Nedwards and I are off to Queensland tomorrow to visit the most-northerly of our relations. The husband is staying in Canberra to continue educating young people about how to write short stories and about cities.

Actually, now I think on it, Eddie Nedwards has relations in Wales, and we are not going anywhere near that far north, now, are we? I keep forgetting about that whole hemisphere, unless I'm paying attention. How rude.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Later you can all ask about how my job interview went. Or, you can ask how I thought it went. I guess I won't know how they thought it went for a couple of weeks.

Also, I am between books, so I'll go back to your comfort reading suggestions for some clues. If anyone has very specific post-job-interview/going-on-holidays-to-Cairns reading suggestions, that would also be great.

Edited later:

I think I forgot to tell them some important things to demonstrate such skills as Learning from My Mistakes and How to Do Better Next Time. Also I might have focused a bit much on stakeholders and my own present projects and not enough on the fitting it into broader government policy contexts and the work of the Best Department Evah, even though I actually work in those contexts all the time. Oh well, it's all practice, innit? And I don't think I totally embarrassed myself, and I don't think I had doobies coming out of my nose, so that's a comfort, now.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New Downunder Feminists Carnival is up

At a Shiny New Coin. It's chock full of thoughts and words.

I could post the picture but that would take more competence than I have this morning.

Friday, July 2, 2010


The husband is trying to convince Eddie Nedwards that he donated his Wimbledon winnings to the Large Hadron Kaleidoscope.

It's not going well.

I wish the husband really did have some Wimbledon winnings. And I wish there really truly was a Large Hadron Kaleidoscope.

Real life can be so rubbish.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

True Blood

So, this show keeps surprising me, which is surprising in itself, what with it being a television show and all.

We're nearing the end of series one.