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17 Nov 2011

A Poor & Forced Attempt At Recounting My Day

Alert: Poor attempt at writing today. Too many distractions, mentally drained and not well-fed - those are my excuses.

My multi-tasking skills were put to test today. The morning started off pretty simple. I didn't have to pack my lunch box or get my Krav gear in order. All I had to do was shower, grab my bag, my keys and take the train to arrive at work in time. I spent my free 3 hours reading a book. Ah, it was lovely. I knew I could've gone for a run but lying on the couch with a cuppa, reading a sweet Scottish romance novel was more enjoyable.

The book was intriguing (read: the knight without his shining armour was really sexy and the poor maid was finally falling in love with him), so once again I found myself running for the train at the last minute. Yet again, the train arrived seconds after I did. Lucky two days in a row. Howzzat! I arrived at work, hoping to sign in and duck out to grab a quick brekkie at maccas before I started my day. It was a slow day, by the looks of the way it started, and weekend was almost here. 

The moment I stepped in at work, fifty things landed on me at once! Missed calls on my landline, a missing person at the desk next to me and too many emails in the team mailbox. This was going to be a fun day. Not! I could feel it in my bones, even before I switched over from my mailbox to the team's common inbox. From the issues I had been trying to resolve yesterday to the work items to be implemented next week and everything in between (which included a sever production problem), there was a load of work to be done and no other team member. Well, not a worry. How long has it been since I've run on adrenalin? I shook with excitement. This should be good, I think, as I start mentally assigning priorities to the tasks at hand. Tackle them one at a time and all should be well. That's the me of recent times, multi-tasking go to hell. Well, that's what seems to work here. We have all the spare time in the world.

This was not one of those days. My multi-tasking skills were being tested. Bring it on! I'm the queen of multi-tasking. I started working on task 1, when I saw an email that I had to address right away. Re-shuffle priorities. Write email and back to task 1, which was sort of running in the background partly. While I'm doing 1 & 2, someone related to task 3 drops by for an update. Shuffle shuffle. The priorities were clear, that couldn't be changed except they were now 1a, 1b and 1c. Juggle juggle juggle. More people, more emails, phone calls and IMs, it was non-stop.  When finally, I took a moment out to make my own phone call to check on some instructions, my bird had flown the nest. Fortunately, it was headed my way, so I had to wait for it to find it's way back and I was all set.

Multi-tasking can either be simple or complicated, depending on the situation. If I made my priority list & started juggling my tasks in such a manner that I operated on one while I was waiting on the other, it works marvellously. Try aligning my priorities with someone else's and hell happens to my multi-tasking abilities. To complicate it further, chuck a few more people with their own priority lists into the mush. Make sure there are a couple of jokers in there and a dick or three. Get a little adventurous. Bring in managers banging the table and co-workers with secret recipes they won't share. All set.

That's how it was nearly 3 'O' clock before I managed to find my way into the kitchen and stick my lunch box in the microwave. I snuck out to check on something while the food warmed and only remembered the stuff in the oven a good hour later. I had to warm the food again. Shit happens. This time, I waited by the oven. By 5:30, I had eaten and managed to take a loo break. A lot of work had gotten done today. All loose ends were tied. I had crossed off every single item on my tasks and some sub-items that added themselves to the list. I had wiped clean every crumb of work from my table top and was ready to head home. 

The plan for the evening was to spend it in exactly the same way as the morning. Which meant that I had to finish my writing before I left work. So here I am. I managed my last 2 days without any distractions. Today, there have been a few. Multi-tasking never works when I'm writing, so this one's going to be a shit piece. At least I wrote. I'm drained. Maybe I'll buy myself a McFlurry on the way home. I should try something different today but I am drained. My brain cannot process any more data. Thinking is beyond me. Tomorrow will be better. If not, there is always alcohol. 

16 Nov 2011

Failed Lists

When you wake up in the morning and know you have 4 hours to go before the day actually starts, it is supposed to feel good. At 5.10AM this morning, I woke up feeling hungry. A coffee, that's what I needed. Once I've had that cuppa, I would go for a run and then make a list of other things I could do to kill the four hours. The rest of the day would go smoothly, till 5PM, when it was time for some Krav Maga groin kicks. Kick on home after that, pie for dinner and a well-deserved sleep. 

Yes, that would have been nice. What happened instead was that the coffee stretched on for 3 out of the 4 hours, during which I didn't achieve any of the things I mentioned above. I think I checked some emails, watched a few videos, mucked about sniffing into other people's lives on Facebook and checked if my pay had been debited into my bank account. I was on my last $5 last night, when I went to buy a spicy chicken cashew rice that cost me $8.50, so I was on -$3.50 as of this morning. Soon, I was running around the house like a headless chook, packing my lunch, stuffing all sorts of things I might need for the martial arts class in the evening and wondering if I needed just a shower or I had not brushed my teeth yet. In the end, I decided to brush (just in case) and shower. 

I grabbed everything nearest to the door, hoping that it was all the stuff I need to get to work and back home, and ran to the train station fervently hoping that my train was late by however minutes it would take me to get to the train station. I was only halfway to the station, when a train passed by. It was a train in the other direction. Phew! Holding my breath, I ran, knowing fully well that I had missed the last train that would take me to work in time before the morning meeting. As I entered, I heard a train pull in. Yes! My train was late, by 3 minutes. Exactly how late I was to arrive at the train station! What are the odds of that happening? Forgetting my manners, I swiped my card on the machine, even as a young man was staring at the screen after he had swiped his, probably trying to figure out the balance on his card. Then some more running. I was ready to roll down the ramp, if that's what it took to get in that train. Luckily, the QR representative was one of the nicer guys that waits for hapless morning runners with hair flying and shabby clothes, so he waited until I entered the train.  

Normally, I would read a book and most people around me wouldn't even notice. I hadn't noticed anyone notice me to date. Today, I pulled out a book and the nosey old lady sitting in front of me was slyly checking out the title. Damn you, woman! Nobody looks when I'm reading a Lee Child or Paulo Coelho or Matthew Connelly. One of those times, I decide to pick up a short cheesy romance novel in order to tear through a couple of books quickly and make up my reading target for this year and she notices. She smirks. Yeah sure, like you've never read one of those before! That did it. No reading in the train today. The journey seemed endlessly long and I was getting late.

I made it to the meeting - late by 3 minutes - but it started 3 minutes later, so I was in time. What are the chances of that happening twice in the same morning?! Somehow the rest of the day has continued to be a roller coaster ride. I make a list and nothing gets done. I thrash about and hit the mark on one random shot taken in desperation. 

In continuation of the day's trend of things on the list not getting crossed, I missed my Krav classes for the second time this week and I'm kicking myself right now. It would have been better to kick groin and pummel chests in class but this is what I chose. There was no good reason. I just wasn't upto it. 

For the rest of the day, this is the plan. Go home. Read. Eat. Sleep. Can't go wrong there now, can I? I sure hope not!

15 Nov 2011

Stand-Off With A Lizard

I have seen him roam the backyard a number of times. He arrives at the beginning of spring and stays through to summer. I have no idea what he does during the rains. Maybe I should be more observant. He has never been in the patio as far as I have known, but my paranoia forces me to leave the patio door closed. Just in case.

In the last couple of weeks, I've occasionally left the security screen to the patio open. I had not seen him in a while and even if he was around, he would never come in. There was a chance that the turkey might get cheeky but she is noisy. I would hear her if she tried to force an entry. It seemed alright. I am right there, after all.

Note: I must admit here I do not really know the gender of the lizard or the turkey. I am making a random assumption, without any basis or reason.

Today, I forgot to close the door after I arranged the patio furniture outside. I was sitting at the dining table, deeply engrossed in what I was doing, when I heard a soft clang against the railing outside. Normally, I would ignore it. I hear sounds in the backyard all the time, with the dragon, the turkey, lorikeets, miners, crows, possums and anything else that cares to drop by. This morning, I looked up from my writing and saw a part of something where the steps end. I had just swept the floor, so I got up to check on it. It was a large lizard staring at the door. I only assume that by his body position, of course. He might have been staring at anything. I instinctively dived to the door and slid it shut. I could not resist the temptation of taking a picture, so I came back with my camera, opened the door slightly and started clicking. I blocked the screen-door with my body and had one hand ready to slam the door, in case he made a sudden movement. I know for a fact that he can move fast. I have seen him. At close quarters, I saw that he had firm feet and a reasonably strong body. If he clung to me, freeing myself off him would not be easy. Add to that, creepy. I have no idea what his defence mechanism is, so I chose to be wary. Sharp claws? Poisonous spit? Sting in the tongue? Teeth? He might be harmless, for the most part, but something tells me he is carnivorous.

Eastern Water Dragon, Brisbane, Queensland
I do not know if he stopped when he saw me or he was doing his thing of stopping and staring at the new environment he was going to explore. I have seen him stare at trees for a really long time, so I would not be surprised if that is what he was doing. Anyway, I know he saw me. He backed up just a little bit when I slid the door and stood there. It was not so much a backing out in fear as it was in defence. He did not crawl away. He moved his body back, just a little bit, with his eyes still on me. The body still faced me. His crimson coloured chest was now facing me, his four feet placing the body in a braced position. At first, he was just a lizard strolling by, with most of the body closer to the ground. Now, he was now ready to retaliate if I posed a threat. If I did nothing to surprise him, he would not harm me, I realized. This is something I have noticed among a few Australian backyard animals. The possums, for example, may not jump at you when you approach them but they do not run away either. They stop and watch you. If you attack, they will retaliate. You leave them alone; they wait and watch till the danger, that is you, has passed. No premature moves that could harm them. No leaving the battlefield with their tails under their bums. Sensible and assertive, aye mate?

I stood there, observing him through my lenses for a bit and then without them. His head turned back and forth a few times. He has got round eyes at the sides of his face. I am not sure if he needs to turn his head sideways to see me or he sees me when he is looking straight at me. I am inclined to believe the latter because his body was positioned facing me. He tilted his head towards the source of noise when an aeroplane flew by. His eyes seemed to be looking up, in the direction of the sound. So, I am going to assume that he sees when he's looking straight. Once, he turned his head sideways and closed his eyes. I had not noticed he had eyelids but the light coloured skin on his face seems to extend over the eyes, acting like eyelids. I do not know any better, so I presumed that he must be listening intently to something, like we humans do at times.

After a few minutes, I decided that he was not going to make any moves while I watched. He kept his eyes and ears open to sounds around him. His head moved side to side and upwards, every now and then. He was watching me and going about his business of looking out for whatever it is that he looks out for, at the same time. Talk about multi-tasking! Maybe he is a she, after all. It was apparent that he would not approach me but he would not turn his back and leave until I did. I shut the door and came back in. I watched him from my chair at the table, looking up from my writing now and then. A couple of minutes after I came back in, he turn around and went back to the backyard. He had ventured into a new space, decided that he did not want to go further and gone back to his usual hunting grounds.

I have never seen him on the patio. I cannot help wondering if he came in today, because he saw the doors open. How did he notice that? Obviously his vision is good, if he saw that from the ground in the backyard. The good vision is not surprising because I have seen him look out for birds (maybe something else, I am not sure) on trees, from the ground, and gone after them. I am intrigued now. Did he see the open door? Did that mean anything to him? Did he see a new opportunity to explore? Was that a coincidence? Has he been up here before? He has left me with lots of questions I now need answers to.

12 Nov 2011

Came Here To Write But Ended Up Whinging Instead

I am so over strangers telling me what to do with my life, through the stupid monitors I peer into twenty million times a day! 

My Gmail crashed 5 times during an email that might have otherwise finished in 5 minutes. The Chrome help page says I should disable my anti-virus and do a few things before I turn it back on, to fix the issue. I'll be damned if I stay connected to the vast world of viruses and malware out there, without protection!

Facebook thinks I need more friends. So, I have these random strangers flung at me each time I go to the Wall for my news feed. Off late, they even show me events that my friends are attending, with an option to RSVP. I nearly RSVP'd, in the affirmative, to one before I realized it was a private party!

I logged into Blogger to write about something. My memory fails me now. I got distracted into ranting because there was this on top of the home page

You should occasionally check the comments in your spam inbox. 

Sure, why not? Why don't you also tell me what to wear today and whether I should have eggs for breakfast this morning? I don't care for spam and if I ever find out you're putting valid comments into my Spam folder, I will come after you!

I'm told by Shelfari that I haven't read enough books this year. Yes, I know I haven't been reading much! Where do I find the time to read? I mean, seriously, between work and social life, I barely manage to read a few lines on my commute. On nights that I'm drunk, only 1 trip on the train allows for reading because the return trip is a fight to stay awake long enough to get off at the right train station!

Twitter's been nagging me to check out their 'Activity' tab where I can view tweets & re-tweets from my followers and those that I follow. What else is Twitter if it is not that? Aren't I already doing that? Stop creating different views of the same thing! More importantly, stop haranguing me to check them out!

I could go on but what is the point? I've lost a brilliant idea to write a blog. The moment of creativity has flown, thanks to the interference from the monsters of the Internet-world. Even my coffee has turned cold. It's just one of those days... 

9 Nov 2011

Moving Houses

Moving houses can be a daunting task. When you’re in a different country, away from family and friends, even the modern technologies of developed countries do not make the task any more fun.

Two of my friends were in various stages of the moving process. One family has been looking for a house in various suburbs, without any luck. I cannot help but wonder why someone would be rejected for tenancy but they have been unlucky enough to experience that. The other family found their dream home within weeks of starting their search. Last Sunday was going to be their big move day. The husband decided that, between him and the wife, they would be able to manage just fine. They booked a trailer and a tri-wheel climbing hand trolley with wheels for the day. A couple of us friends decided to help them, in spite of protests that they would be able to manage by themselves.

I was picked up from my unit at 10 in the morning and we headed to Kennards to pick up the rentals. The first hurdle was getting the agency to accept a non-Aussie driving license as id and providing acceptable identification documents to supplement it. We had to drive home to bring some of the required documents. One of the guys at the store helped join the trailer to the car. Driving the trailer was supposed to be fairly simple, as long as you took long turns at the corners. Yeah sure, until you started to reverse! The trailer moved in the exact opposite direction of the car, swinging by the hinge. Considering how tricky parking a car in the reverse can get (for some of us, it is!), attempting that with a trailer was a near-impossible task. Eventually, we decided to leave the car + trailer parked across the street so we did not have to reverse park.

The boxes and some of the reasonably heavy stuff were easy to manage. The tri-wheel hand trolley was a marvel, in so far as bringing the washing machine, drier and some furniture were concerned. The refrigerator gave the guys a hard time but we eventually managed it all. Three trips and the move was complete, save for the little bits and pieces that they were going to move the next day. In some ways, it was fun. We reminisced about the times we have all had to move in the past. The new house was, obviously, a much nicer place than the old. We walked around, exploring the complex and sharing excitement over the various facilities it accorded.

The best part of day activities like this one, apart from the beer and pizza, are the aches and stains that remain at the end of the day, to speak of the hard work that has been put in. One of our friends, who was baby-sitting the couple’s kid, invited us over for dinner that night. Thank God for that! We exploded a few party poppers, listened to the stories of the kids’ days and chattered incessantly over a delicious South Indian dinner of peas fried rice, chicken curry and beer. Every one of us slept soundly that night. Either tired from the day’s hard work, from handling two hyperactive five-year old boys or, in the case of the boys, from playing all day long, we all had our reasons. 

Of course, the act of physically moving stuff we friends helped with, was only half the job done. The arduous task of packing and unpacking still remained to be done. The excitement of moving and the thrill of starting over should take care of any pain points in that area. I bet having a 5-year old helper makes a difference too!

I cannot wait to see their house once it has been set up. They have the loveliest balcony, huge and perfectly suited for a barbecue or a dinner-and-drinks party. Which, I bet, they will have. I need to make sure I have a free night on my calendar when that happens.