Monday, September 29, 2008

A break for a while

I'm going to take a break from this blog for a while for reasons that are entirely personal and of no particular import to the world at large. I may be back, I may not be. I will post my intentions in due course, once I've decided what I am going to do.
I will continue to read the witty and wonderful words of others - take care all.
Ms B

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Surviving without 8 hours per night

I've been such a busy thing recently, surviving on too little sleep, leaving wet towels in the washing machine for up to a week because I've forgotten about them and all the time limping through each day.

I know I'm not good when I'm really really tired - I get worked up over little things and I lose my sense of proportion. The best thing I can do is to withdraw from people and sleep but I haven't had that luxury so I'm glad to say that I've managed to keep myself in check. To the world I've looked calm, cheery and very busy. One of my staff apparently commented to another that it was amazing that I could be so relaxed when I'm rushing from one thing to another, and as a result I was her idol.

I also managed to negotiate a difficult situation between two colleagues (Mr Elder Statesman and Mr Most Distinguished Gent). MRS and MMDG don't get along and we we all needed to work together on the urgent Very Important Thing. I managed to pull the VIT together without seeming to be taking one side or another, and put in extra hours to ensure that we went above and beyond the call in terms of what was required. The persons who benefit from VIT were happy. MES thanked me while MMDG who has never been my biggest fan told me he was very impressed and he recognised my diplomacy skills. All this while I've been getting 3-4 hours sleep per night.

So just as the crazy hours ebbed away I started to feel happy (maybe a bit too smug) and think that I may have conquered this tiredness thing I get a call from MMDG. I'd made a small but embarrassing mistake on VIT - one that I thought about at the time and made a call on. When he pointed it out to me, I realised that of course I was wrong. Of course this realisation came too late as I momentarily tried to explain my decision. I could hear him sigh over the phone and with that exhalation went his good opinion of me.

The mistake will have little practical consequence but makes me look unprofessional. I've apologised but I'm not sure it has had any effect.

So now I have enough time for 8 hours a night, but I can't get that much sleep as I have a hollow feeling at the pit of my stomach as I churn over my mistake again and again and again.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

That will serve her right...

It is only a few weeks ago that I posted that my dear old Mum had a strange and passionate dislike of Barack Obama. Then this happened:

One look at a moose-hunting, right to lifer, pro-Alaskan oil drilling, climate sceptic and my Mum has declared she is a "100% Obama supporter." She also mumbled something about the decline of the great American empire, and how Putin may cause the end of the world but she'd had a few gins by then and that can bring out the pessimist in any girl.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Shopping for essentials

I've been sooooo good for soooo long that I think I deserve a treat....

During the past three months I've not splurged on any and I've worn down some of my older pairs, so buying one teensy little pair is a necessity not a luxury, isn't it?

While I am at it maybe I should get a sensible pair too....

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Is it wrong to be bored stupid by the 'Lympics?

Do I risk losing my citizenship because I don't care whether a bunch of over-subsidised fit people can undertake some specialised physical act better, faster or with less chance of failing a drug test than a bunch of other over-subsidised fit people?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sometimes being a woman just sucks

At various times and to varying degrees we have to put up with:

  • crappy PMT symptoms, back pain and tiredness not to mention the physiological effects which if internalised can range from feeling mildly irritated through to ego-swamping feelings of being insecure, unattractive and genuinely horrid;
  • the odd accompanying outward displays of emotion which can include wanting to cry or actually crying for little reason and/or the occasional wig out (which hardly endears one to one's loved ones);*
  • having to take medical responsibility to avoid unwanted contraception, even if that has unwanted side-effects;
  • all sorts of intrusive medical tests where one's breasts get handled and squashed or one has to deal with cold metal implements while being told to "just relax";
  • worrying about the process of and/or the results of above;
  • being told that ways to avoid risks of nasty cancers is to abstain from too much sex or alcohol and to have children before the age of 30. Lets face it that sounds to many of us like a crap lifestyle choice. At that age I would have dealt with some young un's mostly through the therapeutic use of gin;
  • the whole fertility use by date thing;
  • patronising car salesmen;
  • patronising car mechanics;
  • the risk of getting assaulted when trying to get home late at night because the public transport is not staffed and not well lit, and because taxi drivers just occasionally turn out to be rapists;
  • the odd bit of sexual harassment in the workplace; and almost as importantly
  • not being able to twist the bloody lid off bottles .

* I hate hate hate to admit this has been me sometimes and I'm embarrassed by it. For reasons related to the damn useful but pesky pill it got really bad a few years ago. I read some of my previous posts and see it in the subtext. Maybe a blog edit is in order.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Real Estate Language: Lesson 1

Charming equals dirty and yellow, green or brown.

Next week: Retro equals prints of Native Indians.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Addressing miserableness in a colleague

I work with an unhappy misanthrope.

He is smart, and would be good at his work if he could pull himself out of his state of perpetual ennui. However I think he may be depressed, and he doesn't seem to be getting any better. I am aware that various senior management types have been "working" with him and there have been some baby steps, but his general demeanour is still that of a man who would rather rip out his fingernails than spend more time than is necessary with his colleagues or deal with the parts of his role he doesn't like.

I have known this man for many years, and working with him closely from time to time. We are both in demanding jobs, where we are required to work long hours and must be able to attend to tasks with a high degree of precision. He has very good skills in some areas, but his unhappiness spills into his dealings with others, his reluctance to do the routine mundane parts of the job and his sense of professionalism. After a while others have started to avoid him, and a poisonous and pessimistic aura is now attached to his name. He lives by himself, and with no one to talk to at work I think he is really lonely.

Is it wrong of me not to want to get more involved and try to help him out? I quite like him and I feel like I should do something, but part of me holds back and for mostly selfish reasons: I don't have enough time (particularly as he likes to have very long conversations about how miserable life is), others are dealing with it, he won't improve, it is not really my business, I should focus on the young ambitious and overworked women in my team etc ....

So you see I feel terribly guilty about this and think I should do something, especially when I see him wandering around in an obvious state of despair looking for someone to talk to/at. On the other hand I'm at a loss as to what I can do to help, other than to refer him to the support that is supposedly already available to him.

This one needs more thought.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

You can take the girl out of the country...

My dear Mum was once a simple country lass, living far from Batville in a town not known for its progressive thinking, culture or the intellectual achievements of its folks. For a while there she was a National Party voter. I even recall when I was fairly young she expressed considerable dislike of Bob Hawke during his ACTU days. The word "ratbag" may even have been used to describe Hawkie. A strong word for a nice country girl like my Mum to use in the 70s.

Now don't get me wrong - Mrs B Snr is a smart cookie, she reads a lot, studies history and is a tolerant and civic minded citizen. She has become much much more politically progressive over time. She signed petitions for gay rights in the 80s, supported the "Sorry" movement in the 90's and considered marching against the Iraq war in the 00's (it was just a "bit too cold" that day).
She loathed Howard, laughed at the Nationals, joined with me over a gn't to discuss a mutual plan to do evil things to Tony Abbott, despaired at Hanson's racism, railed against wedge politics and had, or so I thought, abandoned her reactionary political roots.

Then we come to this guy:

My Mum has had an intense hate-like reaction to Barack Obama. She has described him as "smarmy", "pathetic", "insincere" and, out of nowhere, she recently even resorted to "w**nker". A very strong word for nice surburban retiree like my Mum to use in the 00's!!!

I just don't understand. She is no fan of McCain, and had mixed feelings about Hilary. Why the strong dislike of Obama?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Ms Batville at the movies: The Bank Job

Went to see this over the weekend. Not a bad little English crime caper - the sort of film that Guy Ritchie might have made if he hadn't lost his mojo starring at Madonna's oddly stretched face.

The plot is supposedly based on a true story. The British Secret Service, through the very gaunt and underfed Saffron Burrows, engage a bunch of petty crims to rob a bank vault in order to recover incriminating photographs of a British Royal. We are supposed to guess the royal is Princess Margaret. The crims manage to stumble upon some other secrets, and buy themselves a whole lot of trouble.

The acting is pretty good throughout, although one worried that Burrows might faint at a key moment through lack of food. Guest spots from a whole lot of those British actors with interesting faces that you see on great BBC dramas plus a small role from the guy who was in To the Manor Born. Sadly however there was no Penelope Keith. (Come to think of it, a gritty crime caper with Penelope Keith in a guest role might be something for Guy Ritchie to consider.)

The plot is interesting but the dialogue is a tad too reminiscent of an episode of Minder at times, possibly because of the number of women whimpering "It was always you Terry" at a balding petty car dealer whose supposed sex appeal is a complete mystery to me. The term "villains" is used a bit too often and suggests that the screenwriters were not taking the thing too seriously. There is a bit of violence and action to keep the boys interested. Impressively the film opens with a pumping loud Get it On from T-Rex, which can never be a bad thing.

Overall, the film is a good way to spend a few hours, but this one won't change your life. In five years you will stumble across this on TV, ponder the strange outdated period when women like Saffron Burrows had trout-pouts, watch it for a bit and then change the channel. After that you will forget it completely.

*** out of *****

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Is there anything better...

than cuddling up with the object of your affection in a warm bed on a cold winter weekend morning?

No..... I thought not.

Wishing you a wonderful rest of the weekend.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dear god no.

Some of you may have seen my previous post about the abomination that I'm betting will be Australia the movie. At that time I predicated that there would be a subplot that featured a "warm and loving friendship" with a "small and non-threatening Aboriginal child". Well lo and behold, apparently the film " introduces to the screen Brandon Walters at Nullan, the boy who steals Lady Ashley's (aka our Nicole) heart".

Exhibit A:

OK, so he is a really cute kid but I still reckon the film will be a dud, worthy of naught but our best cultural cringe.

Disturbingly I can find out all about the "phenomal buzz" that will surround this film on the Tourism Australia website, a site which, on its face, appears to be less about Australia the country, and more about Australia the movie.

This may be because our Baz Luhrmann (director of "Australia") has created a new tourism campaign for this wide brown land, apparently based on the feelings evoked for him during shooting. Baz has said that he hopes to "convey an emotional experience that is possible from going the extra distance" which is a big call from a man who has described the remarkably and increasingly wax and ice like Nicole Kidman as a "life force to be reckoned with".

This leads me to wonder what these ads might be like. I'm guessing that they might feature one or more of the following: charming little bush urchins grinning at the camera (aka young Brandon above), sunsets, Bill Hunter, blokes tipping their hats at the camera and/or women in bikinis, didgeridoos, waterholes, waterfalls, lots of water generally which you won't actually find as Australia is in a long term drought, kangaroos, women in inappropriate makeup and weird costumes, men with inappropriate makeup and weird costumes, dancing, red petticoats, emus, stoic blokes, girly women, red dust, Utes, crocodiles. Pretentiousness, unrealistic and a tad scary - tick.

We could trust Tourism Australia that this new campaign will turn out alright, but then they were the lot responsible for introducing the world to Lara Bingle, and then having her banned in the UK.

I, for one, don't predict a huge upswing in international tourism.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ms Batville at the movies: Quick and dirty film reviews for the month of July

I've seen quite a few films over the last month and a bit (the pleasures of being child free and dating) and I've meant to write a review all of them. Time has skipped away so using a rating out of 5 stars, here is a simple and efficient Ms Batville summary of my recent viewing pleasures:

Children of the Silk Road
David Wenham almost steals the show in a five minute role at the start of the film where he plays the hard bitten cynic Australian journalist. Great scenery, cute kids, bloody awful dialogue, predictable plot. Jonathan Rhys Meyers sounds like he escaped from a cheap remake of Brideshead Revisted. Spent much of the last half the film thinking about whether I could get my hair to look like Michelle Yeoh's. Regrettably I decided I could not.

The Dark Knight
Chris Nolan can do no wrong by me. One of the best casts of recent times, cool stuff that blows up to excite the male gender, Maggie Gyllenhaal rocks and there minimum use of "lame dialogue but we can use this in the trailer" moments. (80's less famous sibling spot - Eric Roberts, brother of Julia.)

OK so Will Smith's character is an allegory for the US. I got that. I didn't get how the scriptwriters lost their way half way through and tacked on a mismatched love story that didn't fit with the first half. At all. (80's less famous sibling spot - Jason Batemen, brother of Justine.)

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
I love love love Cate Blanchett but she should have known better. I will never never never forgive Spielberg for wasting Karen Allen like that so she could spend the film gazing lovingly up at Harrison Ford's face lift scars whimpering "Oh Indy".

Iron Man
Robert Downey Jnr, how I love thee. Is there a more talented "kick the others out of the park with his raw charisma" actor around today? No there is not. "I am Iron Man." Could have been silly but I loved it!

Lars and the Real Girl
This is still showing in cinemas, and that in itself leaves me with a feeling of fatigue much like the film. OK, but I'm over films about the quirky inhabitants of small American towns. It was old 15 minutes after Fargo.

Gladiator in a yurt. Genghis did it all for a girl, only killed when neccessary and wasn't that bad a bloke. Really.

The Orphanage
Mildly scary at parts, a tad predictable but starring one of those authenic Spanish actresses who can look sexy while looking her age. An extra star for that

It is not exactly David Stratton but you get the gist.

Friday, July 25, 2008

How to shop for a Man?

How do you do it? I have no idea. Help needed!!!

The Man has a birthday coming up. It is not for some time, which gives me time to buy him a great "kick-arse, throw it right out of the park, best ever, so much better than my ex-girlfriend's gift, wow what a great idea, how did you know I always wanted this" gift. For a variety of reasons, the main one being he is just lovely, I want this year's birthday gift to be spectacular.

Problem is that The Man has very specific and quite limited tastes:
  • Clothes are out. He has some. He quite likes them. That will do him for now.

  • He has plenty of books (including some from me) and doesn't have time to read them all as it is. If he really wants a book he would buy it.

  • He likes art but thinks that good art is expensive and that it is hard to buy art for someone else.

  • He likes a clutter free home where items serve a function. Anything he deems extraneous gets thrown out.

  • He likes travel, but it would be hard to surprise him with anything as he has a busy diary, and he is an international travel sort of guy, not a "let's get away for a dirty weekend in Sydney" type.

  • He has a car. He really likes it. He would tell me it really doesn't need anything except petrol.

  • He has all the tech things he could want - camera, iPod, funky retro-styled radio, computers, computer games, state of the art PDA-phone thingie.

  • He has had the same watch for nearly two decades. It tells the time and hence fits his criteria of a great watch. He bristles at the idea of replacing it.

Other things he likes: me, great food, vodka, cars, cheese, red wine, history, chess, Jessica Alba, trance music, the stockmarket, laughing, the colour blue, France, architecture, taking care of his parents, science fiction, brunettes, action movies, arguing with me about the correct pronunciation of words, being right about the latter, foreign language films and most frustratingly .... telling me not to spend too much money on his birthday as "anything will do".

I am in need of guidance. I've been chewing over this for weeks and have nothing to show for it. There must be a knack to this buying for blokes thing. It can't be that hard, can it? Your thoughts welcome....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I've cured the common cold

If you, like me, have been a tad under the weather recently with a snuffly nose, runny eyes and a sore head, you need sympathy and some help.

I can verily testify that the Vietnamese Chicken Soup at The Green Grocer (217 St Georges Road Fitzroy North) has cured my cold. It is described in the menu as a "a hot and sour soup of free range chicken Asian greens rice noodles shitake mushroom coriander lime and ginger." All this for $12 and they throw in some chilli as well.

A good dose of this and your nose will dry up, your head will miraculously clear and you'll be ready to up and do battle on one of Melbourne's various forms of overcrowded public transport with all the other miserable sneezing commuters, smug in the knowledge that you are now cured.

This place gets raves for its breakfast menu, but really it is all good - stock up your larder when you are there.

A few days ago I was sick and miserable. Now I'm skipping through the streets full of the joys of winter. It is a miracle.