07 May 2011

hidden tracks and bits that don't fit

Some say the music album as we know it is not going to be the way of the future - that as we download songs one by one, we don't have to buy albums, and we make our own playlists in whichever order and with whatever mix of songs that we like.

This is true for me when I hear a song I like but don't really think much of the rest of a bands material. But where I love a band, I tend to love their albums. Maybe not all the songs on the album equally, but there will be something about the album, and the order the songs are placed that is special. So I say, the album won't be dead for some time yet.

However there is one thing that has thankfully gone out of fashion with albums and that is the hidden track. I know many bands did this in the 90's, and I never encountered one that bettered the album from being there. Do you know what I mean? you have the disc with the song list and the length of each track displayed on the album cover, but when you'll be listening to it, tacked on to the end a hidden track kicks in. The one that comes to mind right now is Crowded House's "Woodface" which has "We're still here" kick in at the end of the album after a considerable gap of nothing. Dreadful song. Unlike anything else on the album. You wish it wasn't there. You have to stop what you're doing at the end of the CD and stop it before the hidden track starts to play. A little annoying.

This brings me to an album we got this week - brand new. Fleet Fox's 2nd album "Helplessness Blues". I love their first album - it grew on me rapidly after it became something we could reliably play at my daughter's bed time, and it seemed to calm her down. Then I realised it was really very good. Then I found I didn't get sick of it with countless listens, then I became a Facebook fan and searched youTube for released live footage and then I realised I was hooked.

So along came their second album and I knew the band had spent a long time perfecting the album, and I'd read a positive review in the UK press where prior to release, and I expected a good album.  And it is a very good album - as good as their first. I liked it on first listen. However, there is one flaw with it. It's not quite a hidden track. They have quite a few songs that have 2 or 3 distinct parts, like is common in classical music. And usually it works fine. But there the 10th track on their new album has what sounds like freeform jazz in the last 90 seconds of the song. Before this track, and for the majority of this track, the album is one style, then there is LOUD freeform jazz style, then back to the original album style.

It really doesn't work. Someone should have told them before the album was released. I get the feeling we may be editing out that section ourselves...

Otherwise, love the album, look forward to what the band does in the future, and will certainly listen to this album a lot too!

24 April 2011

like sands through the hourglass...

Life is pretty good. Now my youngest is one and 3/4, life is getting easier as she is more independent with walking and talking. Oldest is off to school next calendar year! I'm so excited! Still a long way off though!

Work is good - the position suits me still and I still seem to be suited to the position! Such a nice way to be after 2 less well suited contracts between having the children. They recently offered me an extra 1/2 day a week, and I've been doing this (the extra time is done flexibly when I like - I don't need to be in the office).

There was now no excuse for not getting a cleaner and we bit the bullet and did it! How on earth did we manage without one? (the answer is of course that we didn't - the bathrooms were only cleaned every month or so and the flooring and dusting... well we did the best we could, but it's much cleaner now!). There is still more than enough housework to do with 4-5 loads of washing per week, cooking and tidying. I'm also managing to sew, knit and crochet, and I joined a book club that meets in a pub every 2 months (no one DARE say it's time that I should be cleaning the house!!).

My partner and I also hit 10 years of marriage and over 12 years together. Quite a big milestone! The big thing to avoid at this stage we find is taking each other for granted, and we've been working a little bit on avoiding this becoming an issue.

So of course not everything is perfect - I don't see good friends as often as I'd like, and friendships present challenges from time to time. People who you thought were becoming good friends stop making the effort, or you start to realise they have attributes you're not sure you can be bothered with. Sounds harsh, but when there is such limited time to socialise, you become choosey about who you spend that time with. For me it's a struggle to find someone who is not busy all the time, or who might be free to spend time with me and kids in tow and who isn't at work the same days as me. I expect I'll make new friends next year when E-chan starts school, and see certain people more often, because our kids will be at the same school. It kind of feels like a holding pattern in the meantime...

You have a time when you are happy, then perhaps a little too cruisey, then you stuff up and feel like a goose for a while - want to crawl into a shell somewhere. In a 2nd or 3rd-hand bit of wisdom from a friend I've long since lost touch with - some old wise being (Buddha? Confucious?) said:  the first thing to master is to do wise things, then you need to master saying wise words, then finally thinking wise thoughts. Well I've stuffed up on the 2nd point - not saying wise things - a few times in the past few days and now wish to crawl into a shell somewhere.  Humph.

I'm struggling to know what to write in this blog of late. I started it thinking it'd be a good way to keep in touch with some old friends and share ideas via links and photos. However, there are other ways to do this electronically these days. The one benefit of the blog I think is that you can be more anonymous and control which of your friends know about it. But because of some of the personal things I've put in here, particularly when I was younger, I'm a bit shy about sharing with newer friends. But for now it is still here...

23 January 2011


Things come and go in cycles – we all know. And of course with a period of uncertainty, one can feel a little low when additional setbacks, the ones that come out of the blue, make you feel worse than it should. A few things are changing in our household this year – mostly the children are transitioning to a new childcare centre.

This is better in the long run, I’m sure – we can walk there with the kids & not have to worry about being reliant on the car and parking and all those hassles, there should be more time at the end of the day between picking them up and starting dinner which means more quality and playing time for me with them. But there have been a few teething problems to sort out in this centre which made us wonder if we were doing the right thing.

Moving from the familiar – where our kids have been going since E-chan was 11 months, where he has bonds with all his teachers and good friends, where Astro-girl feels comfortable and was starting to make baby friends – to the unfamiliar. We have needed to reach out to new people to put down as our Emergency Contacts on the children’s forms, to cover us in case in the rare instance that we are both unable to be reached in emergency, and some people we regard as good friends did not give us a very straightforward answer which was slightly bewildering.

And then things start to cycle upwards again…. 2 other families who live in our immediate neighbourhood have been more than happy to help out as “emergency contacts”, as we are with them. And of course it’s a good centre, and our kids are starting to orient themselves. Our eldest is doing us proud – introducing himself to his new carers and telling them his age, and asking where the toilets are, and telling his little sister that he will show her around on her first day. All this he came up with himself. He’s growing up and all the things we teach him are gradually sinking in.

After his 3rd week, however, he spat the dummy and didn’t want to go. I totally understand how he feels – I started a new job recently, and I didn’t know anyone, and no one offered to take me to lunch. But I am self sufficient and have dealt with this many times, while E-chan is dealing with it for probably the first time since he has been old enough to fully comprehend his position. By contrast, his baby sister bumbles along in the new centre and is happy to follow along other kids and play with new toys.

What to do? There is nothing we can do – we can’t change him back to his old centre, we can’t keep him at home with us, I can’t quit my job, I can’t get family to look after him. What’s more, he’ll go through all this again next year starting school. It’s just one of those situations where as a parent all you can do is offer your support and understanding and give lots of extra cuddles to cheer them up, because only he can teach himself how to make new friends…. a life skill truly worth learning.


And then there’s cycles of the menstrual kind. Apparently – according to my Dr – in your mid to late 30’s, cycles start to get irregular again. And for many, heavier. Great. My cycles have always been light and just under 4 weeks long, and I have just had a long time either pregnant or breastfeeding, which has meant no periods or very light ones. Part of me is transported back to my teens again, worried about when my period might start, will I be caught out without pads etc, wearing the wrong kind of thing? Exiting the “young lady” category is meant to be more dignified, surely?

Life in the working world

I've been in this job 4 months now, and the honeymoon period (for want of a better term) still hasn't really worn off. I'm still enjoying it - I'm liking the work, the people, the location, the 3-days-a-week loading. I'm optimistic I can do good work here, and am getting good feedback from my superiors too. The department I am in has a progressive mix of people - a stark contrast to workplaces I have been in prior to now. I am enjoying adult conversations about things I don't usually get to think or talk about.

I chatted with one lady in the tea room yesterday about poetry - she tries to read a poem every day - and she told me about the Poetry Foundation website (I've not really read much poetry since high school, having been based in the sciences for much of my educational and professional life). I suspect poetry may be  perfect reading for my short bus trip. A few minutes after I had got back to my desk, she suddenly appeared with a few bits of paper to give me, saying "Here are 2 of my favourite poems" then scampered off! One of the poems was "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg.

And I continue to be amused by my generation/cultural gap with the ladies I sit near:
The Gen Y ladies in my office area were talking about Morrissey, and my ears pricked up. I was surprised to hear his name mentioned, as they didn’t strike me as your typical Morrisey/Smiths fans. Then I realised they were talking about the fashion designer… of course…


I took the kids last year to an open day at the place I worked before I had kids.

To fill you in - I didn't go back to work there after having E-chan for a few reasons - one of my 2 bosses didn't approve my working part-time, and the commute by car on the expressway - 1 hour each way on a good run - just didn't feel safe or sensible with a baby in child care at our end of town. And full-time work wasn't really an option, with C-chan just starting out as a lawyer, and no family in Sydney to help out with E-chan. So I decided to apply for other jobs after my maternity leave rather than go back. 

This job was pretty hellish too - not one I'd apply for now, or maybe I would knowing what I know now, but not with the skills and experience I had in my late 20's. It was the sort of job where a place had lots of problems, an the powers-that-be created a new position (ie my job) with the hope of solving all those problems. As a result - I was stretched in 5-million directions (ok, slight exaggeration), had to learn a lot on the job (as very few people if any would actually have all the required skills), and in the end, I think a lot of the problems were actually cultural/attitudinal problems in both of the 2 offices that my position straddled.

But I very much left without knowing how I was regarded, feeling I had unfinished business. The open day felt like a good opportunity to firstly show my son some plants and agricultural things (often lacking from museums), say "hi" and just go there for a few social hours.

And it was a good experience to go back there. I was pleasantly suprised to be greeted with smiles from my former colleagues. Going with 2 young kids in tow is also the perfect ice-breaker, and they were really well behaved too. And I did get a piece or two of positive feedback, which coupled with people being happy to see me has done my professional confidence some good.

So this is one of my steps in trying to get professionally connected again. I feel like I'm working in a field I know something about now, which is nice compared to the contracts I took between kids. And it's time to start feeling confident, to know that I know what I'm talking about


C-chan has almost finished his second secondment as an in-house counsel to a company. Pretty much starting a new job, really - new people, new office, new culture, new commute, new projects to focus on. So even though his work conditions & pay etc are continuing, this is a bit stressful. It will only go for another week or so (since last November?), so chances are he will never feel like he is hitting his stride. But a good opportunity to get work experience somewhere else without actually having to apply for a new job.

At the same time, the kiddies are changing child care centres. A whole new post there... for another time.

Belated Happy New Year!