Venturing outside


There’s every excuse to stay indoors at the moment, and not just because the weather is cooling. We’re back in lockdown, which means a range of restrictions, including wearing a mask any time you step out the front door. I hate that and tend to think it’s a bit of overkill when all you’re doing is walking the dog, but I go along with it. It’s easier to stay indoors, and for a fleeting moment this morning, I even considered staying in bed the whole day. Why the hell not?

I got up, though, and followed the usual routine, right up to the moment when I decided on impulse to take Rigby for a morning walk despite all reasons why not to.

We have our routines, and he knows them. Every dog does. Come mid-afternoon, he’ll come nuzzling at me as if to say, come on, dad, it’s time for my walk! It’s the same with meal times, of course, and there are a dozen other triggers that will set him off. Nonetheless, he’s thrilled to add to the routine, and so when I said the magic word ‘walk’, his ears peaked, and eyes drilled into me enquiringly. Did you just say walk? Really? Are we going for a walk? Tell me we are. Tell me, tell me! Yes, yes? Come on, dad! Oh yes, yippee, we’re going on a walk!

By this point the gentle enquiry has become whirling, impatient joy which always gives me pleasure too.

Off we went. It was about 9.45. The streets were quiet. No surprise that, but still a little eerie. I made up to the main drag, and the traffic was sparse. Normally, there’s a regular stream of vehicles going by. This morning, the street was clear for hundreds of metres into the distance, and passing vehicles were sparse. No school today makes a difference.

I walked by the cafe I’ll often visit for a coffee and sometimes breakfast. There was no-one at the outdoor benches, and inside, chairs were stacked on the tables. One or two people were inside getting a takeaway coffee.

I’m not overly perturbed by having to lockdown. It’s an inconvenience on a personal level, but no more than that. It’s a lot harder for those businesses who have to shut up shop and the people unable to work.

Now that we know more, it’s hard not to be mighty pissed off at the infected cases who chose to do nothing at all for 6 and 10 days. They were crook, showed symptoms, but carried on with their life, infecting others. Too late, they got tested,

It makes a huge difference. The Indian strain is highly infectious, and because they didn’t come forward, it was allowed to run unchecked through the population. The cost of it is a 7-day lockdown and a growing number of people infected.

The good news is that only four new cases were reported overnight. With luck, we may contain this. It’s a huge job for the contact tracers. They’ve identified 10,000 primary and secondary contacts and growing, as well as over 150 hotspots. It’s a huge piece of work, and mostly they cop shit for it.

In the meantime, take it easy. With luck, we’ll be out of it soon.

Here we go again


I went to sleep late last night and woke early this morning. It was still dark when I made my first coffee, and for a few moments, I considered taking an early walk with Rigby down the beach before anyone woke up. But then, the light sprinkle of rain falling dissuaded me from that, and back to bed, I went.

Much of the conversation online and in the news I listened to was about the Covid outbreak in Victoria and whether we’d go back into lockdown. Most thought it was likely, as did I. When the news came through of another 12 infections recorded overnight, it seemed a sure thing – though no announcement has been made yet.

By then, I was sitting down for breakfast. I’m scheduled to catch up with my manager for breakfast tomorrow, but that seems unlikely now, as do other things. I’m hoping it’s just a short lockdown, but I thought it wise to get out and smell the roses while I still could.

It’s a chilly morning. There was a thick band of low, white cloud suffused with the morning sun. Quite striking, really. A stiff breeze blew. I posted a letter and then moved onto a nearby cafe by the railway station. I checked in under the watchful eye of the waitress, then sat down for eggs and coffee.

The prospect of a lockdown – which has just been confirmed for 7 days – is unfortunate and unwelcome but probably necessary. I know many will take this hard after the lockdown last year.

I’m more philosophical about it. I recognise its necessity, though it shits me. I’m weary of these things, as is everyone else. But, get it done, do it right, and I’ll deal with it.

In some ways, we’re quite unlucky. This infection originated in Adelaide – a quarantining traveller, on his last day in quarantine, opened his door at the same time as an infected traveller did, and bingo! Show’s how fucking deadly this thing is.

He travelled back to his hometown, Melbourne, unaware that he was infected. A few days later, he presented as ill. This was about two weeks ago. At the time, it looked like we might have dodged a bullet. The contact tracers followed up, people self-isolated, and It seemed contained. Then it pops up about 10 days after.

Most likely, from what I gather, it was passed onto someone during a train trip into the city. No one checks into trains, so it was hit and miss picking up who might have been in his vicinity.

It’s the virulent, highly infectious Indian strain, and unfortunately, those who’ve been reported as infected were active in the period before being diagnosed. Two went to footy matches – a combined crowd of about 60K. Another had a night on the town in bars and on the dance floor. Lots of opportunities to pass it on, and virtually impossible to trace every contact. So here we are.

It could have been avoided, though, as people been at pains to point out. If we had proper quarantine facilities, as we’ve been crying out for, it would never have been passed from one to another. And if the vaccination rollout had performed as forecast, it’s much less likely it will have caught on within the community. As it is, it’s basically June, and we’re still short of the four million vaccinations the government promised would be delivered by the end of March.

Belatedly and somewhat ironically, this latest crisis has led to a rush on getting vaccinated. So that’s what it takes. Several of those infected were entitled to vaccination but held off – and now they’re sick. It will be too late for others.

Let’s see where we’re at in 7 days time – hopefully, preparing to be released from lockdown.

Emotional scurvy


It rained yesterday afternoon, and the sky was dim and dark long before night fell. The evening was standard for me. I had some dinner and flicked through the TV stations before settling down to watch a couple of episodes of Mare of Easttown.

It was only just on 10 when I finished watching, and I thought I’d go to bed and spend an extra hour reading. I was due for a new book, and there was nothing in my bookbag, so I went into my study to survey my bookcase. I had it in mind to return to an old favourite for a change.

I looked through the shelves, assessing options. You want a book to suit your mood. Sometimes that’s serious fiction; sometimes it’s something more escapist. I plucked one book from the shelves and considered it a moment before recalling I’d recently caught a glimpse of the (poor) movie made of it in the seventies. I put it back, leaving until the memory faded.

The books on these shelves are my very favourite books. To look at it is to be reminded of times past when you first discovered them – even to recall the occasion when you bought them. You remember the many times you would spend hours in the cloistered environs of a good bookshop, gathering books to buy. There are stories about the stories.

Abruptly, I felt a sense of fury. Standing before all that richness, they appeared to me so many lost moments and promise unfulfilled.

I would read, back then, as if I was an explorer searching for and discovering new wisdom – new to me. I felt enriched by the experience, as if with every book I read, something was being added to me. It seemed a noble thing and, naively it seems, I thought it must mean something. Would it make me a better man? Perhaps not, but it should make me a more rounded one – or so I thought.

All those fantastic hours engaged with a book felt lost to me. They were gone, of the past, and no longer relevant, as was the ethos that led me on. I read more than ever now, but without that glow of enlightenment. And what came of it? Nothing, it seems, not even anyone I can share it with or hand it down to, as I inherited my grandfather’s books.

I went to bed and read a book I found under the bedside table. Throughout, I had this lingering sense of discord. Not dissimilar to the other night, I wondered what the point of living was? You consume to live, whether it be food and beverages, fancy furniture or car, and programs like Mare of Easttown – but where was the higher purpose? Does such exist, or is it just a fantasy?

The funny thing is that as all this goes through my mind, there’s a motif that recurs to me repeatedly. It’s the sense of disconnect I feel between the public and private me. I see myself with others, and I’m always in control, not just of myself, but often the discourse generally. I’m smooth and easy, as if from habit, a strong, resilient, seemingly confident character, turning the conversation whichever way. It’s the person people have come to know and expect of me, and perhaps even admire, but so often these days, it comes to me as something strange.

That control comes easy to me. I don’t need to think about it. I know the tropes and the behaviours are instinctive. It’s not false, but nor is it absolutely true. Why I wondered, does it return to me so gratingly all the time? Is it that I want to relinquish control? But then, I knew, I would try to take it back. Was it exhausting being that way? No, not really. So what? And I thought, it’s because underneath all that there’s a vulnerable human being, but no matter how I ache to do so, I can’t seem to express it.

I’m at a disconnect with myself, and I realised as I lay there I’d become bored with myself – and wouldn’t I be? Nothing is happening.

I don’t believe there’s a meaning to life. If you’re happy to live a safe and happy life, then good for you. It’s not my thing though, never has been. As always, in these moments, I find myself drawn to the edge. It’s what I miss, and the absence of it has been exacerbated by Covid because there’s been nothing to fill the void.

What I need is to live more rawly. I would do that before when I travelled the world, which was a necessary antidote to domestic life. That sense of discovery, and the unpredictability of it, was like a tonic to me. Of course, none of that is possible presently.

And women. There’s a lot to unpack there, but in former times, when I read books for what I could learn from them, women were so much a part of my life. Not one. Sure, I miss the flirtation and all that, as I’ve said before, and the spontaneous and unlikely encounters. Right now, what I miss now is peering into another’s eyes and seeing possibility there. That, and more primitive, life-affirming moments – the teasing sense of anticipation, the first kiss, the amorous fumblings and the snap of elastic on a pair of panties, the moment that you know that yes, I’m here, this is happening, isn’t this good and soon following the absolute surrender to the moment.

Options are limited, but I need the things I do to have some value – to feel as if they’re a part of the journey. Because of Covid, or perhaps not, it feels as if that journey has paused, or I’ve been waylaid. I need to get back to simple experience – not life as observed on a TV screen, but life felt and experienced in the raw. Without it, I feel as if I’m experiencing a kind of emotional scurvy.

Vaccinated


I woke up this morning, got up and dressed, and walked up the road to get my first jab of Astra Zeneca.

It feels like a significant occasion, like graduating, or something like that. Having endured nearly 18 months of Covid, including an extended lockdown, to finally have a vaccination administered feels notable.

I may have it wrong, and there’s still much conjecture over the quality of the vaccine, but I feel as if I’ve come in from the wild and dangerous cold. Before today, anything might happen to me. From today, I should be safe.

It’s great timing, as it turns out. Melbourne had enjoyed 86 days without a community transmission of Covid. That ended yesterday. Today, more cases are presenting. From tonight, we return to a form of restrictions, which includes wearing a mask indoors. We’ve also been advised by work not to come into the office.

I hope this (hopefully) little outbreak will motivate more Victorians to go out and get their jab. We need it. We’re a long, long way from herd immunity, but the more people who get vaccinated, the less likely the chains of infection will spread. And, with winter coming, you’d have to be crazy not to get it – but, as we know, the world is full of crazies these days.

The government has bollocksed up up the vaccination rollout, as anyone with a working intelligence knows. Still, if they’re smart and given the slow uptake of vaccinations, they should now open it up to anyone who wants one without the current age restrictions.

For the record, and the Doubting Thomases out there, I’ve not experienced any side effects from my dose. And I went ahead and got it, despite having experienced a blood clot a dozen years ago. I wanted to get it for myself, but I also feel a civic duty – it’s the right thing to do, and I’m happy to stand up and be counted.

Foggy brains


https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/apr/14/brain-fog-how-trauma-uncertainty-and-isolation-have-affected-our-minds-and-memory

I read this, and much of it made sense to me. I’ve seen this in others over the last 6-9 months or have had them describe it to me. I suspect this is quite a common experience in the aftermath of extended and repeated lockdowns.

I feel as if much of it is true for me also. It was only the other day that I described my own foggy brain. I sensed no cognitive decline or inability to think or concentrate, and I think these pages attest to that. What I have felt, particularly when it comes to work, is an unwillingness to extend myself mentally. I feel that’s more by inclination than it is a functional deficiency, but it fits the pattern.

What really stuck with me is the need for rest and the probability of burning out without it. I think I’m burnt out now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get worse. I feel badly in need of a rest – but then, I think I said exactly the same thing on Monday, and in the months before.

In reality, I’m about to embark on a big muthafucker of a project that’ll keep me busy and fully engaged for the next few months. I’ll manage, but it might get ugly by the end of it.

The things we keep


From what I can tell, there are many through the pandemic and the various states of lockdown who have taken the time to re-organise and reset their home. It’s a convenient occasion to do so, but I can’t help thinking that it’s a psychological reaction to the times. Locked in, uncertainty all about, and peril at the door, it seems natural that people would attempt to assert some order on their life, however, they can. There aren’t a lot of options, but the decision to spring clean is one of them. Out with the old, and what remains is re-sorted and classified.

I know of a few people who have done this, Donna foremost among them, and I’ve had several unusual conversations on the subject – that is, unusual if these were normal times, but quite standard these days.

I’ve certainly indulged in this, though it could easily be argued that it was long overdue in my case. I’ve got a lot of stuff generally and, while not a hoarder, am inclined to hang onto things.

Early days, I spent a lot of time going through stuff. I threw out or gave away a fair bit from my kitchen and study, and even books, of which I still have boxes full of them. I sought to get rid of the containers in my study with bits and pieces spilling from them and spent a lot of time going through the various clippings I’d collected over the years and either tossing them in the bin or digitising them. All of this is ongoing, and there’s a permanent pile of stuff by my front door that I’ve either got to throw out (including DVDs and CDs) or stuff I’m waiting to get the proper storage for (my old photos).

The other day I came across another cache of stuff dating back to the late nineties, I reckon. It was interesting to go through it and a bit lame, too. There were a bunch of work emails I’d printed out, most of the type that people used to send (but no longer) of jokes or interesting stuff. I still chuckled at some, but to the bin, they went.

Then I came across a poem I’d printed out. I couldn’t recall doing it, and all these years later wondered what it was that inspired me? Was it a woman? Was it a simple appreciation for the poem? Or was it something else?

We do that, and me more than most – we squirrel things away. I guess most people don’t save poems, but I’m a sucker for good poetry. For many years, I had a party trick I’d trot out occasionally whereby I’d recite Byron’s poem, So We’ll Go No More a Roving from memory, line by line.

As it happens, the poem I came across the other day is another by Byron (who is a favourite, along with Donne and Marvell, Yeats, Rilke and some of the modernists like William Carlos Williams and Cummings).

As I’m about to toss this in the bin also, let me first record the poem here for posterity:

When We Two Parted

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow –
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.
They name thee before me,
A knell in mine ear;
A shudder comes o’er me—
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well—
Long, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.
In secret we met—
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?—
With silence and tears.

How many moments like these in our life, where we’re so moved to write something of it or read something meaningful and copy it out? And how many of them are forgotten? I’m grateful at least that for the last 20 years, almost those moments have been recorded here, more or less, even those now passed from mind.

It’s a beautiful poem.

Never be the same


Now that we’ve had 30-odd days free from locally acquired Covid infection, we’re all clear to return to our offices to work in Melbourne. That’s the theory, though it appears very few are getting anywhere close to that. There’s still some caution and uncertainty, and after working from home so long, most of us have become used to it. Tap any average Joe on the shoulder, and chances are that he’ll tell you that he’s happy to return to the office for a day a week, maybe two, but any more than that would be a return to the dark ages.

I’m much the same. I can manage two days a week at a stretch, but just the thought of anything more than that feels hard. We’ve all settled into routines working from home and found ways to make it feasible. It’s far from perfect – I’d rather meet face to face than via a screen, and managing projects with disparate groups of people is a real challenge.

But then, there’s the time saved not having to commute and the convenience of being close to home. There’s the option for parents to pick up their kids from school and to have family meals at a respectable hour. Its loosened boundaries and introduced flexibility that was unimaginable a little more than a year ago. It’s also blurred the boundaries too, but nothing is perfect.

I don’t think we’ll ever get close to the 100% target ever again. The working convention broke in this pandemic. Forced to make do and work from home, we discovered it was actually possible and liberating after generations of workers making the drear commute to and from work each day, like automatons.

Still, there has been a general drift back to the office as the circumstances have improved. In my office, we are rostered for one day a week, though it’s not mandatory. There’s an acceptance that things have changed and that it’s permanent. Logistics play into it also. It’s no small thing gearing up for a return to the office after a year away from it. I was involved in the development of a return to work app late last year. We’re now hot-desking, though that introduces disinfecting challenges. And, even if we were all made to return to the office, there’s no longer enough desks for us all.

I’ve been back to the office perhaps half a dozen times this year, most recently last Wednesday. It’s a strange feeling. We return as a team, but across a floor that could accommodate perhaps 120, no more than 10-15 sit. I visited the 18th floor on Wednesday, which is where I used to sit. This contains the call centre normally, and closer to 150 people back in the day. On Wednesday, there was not a single soul to be seen. Tumbleweeds drifted down the empty corridors.

My brief experience working back in the office is that it’s a bit pointless. At this stage, it feels tokenistic. There’s no real benefit to being back in the office when the people you need to speak to and meet with are still at home. The idea of returning as (small) teams seems sensible, but in reality, has little real value. Certainly, we take advantage of the situation to schedule meetings and planning sessions, but they’re small plusses. There needs to be a more sophisticated solution.

Nonetheless, I’m glad to be back, though – out of practice – getting myself out of bed and organised, for it is more of a struggle. A day away from home and in the office adds a bit of variety to my schedule and introduces a hint of unpredictability in what is otherwise a very predictable routine.

I catch the train in the morning as I would before, only now I wear a mask, and every day is Friday casual. I sit by the window with my headphones on, just as I ever did, but even with the trains are getting fuller, there’s a distinctly different feel to it. I feel like an outlier.

By comparison to the days before, the city is quiet. The shop where I used to buy my coffee has been closed for a year. Many other shops are also shut, and the streets are not nearly as busy as before.

I’m glad to go out on my lunch break and visit places I would before, but it feels very different. In days gone by, I almost had a weekly routine – lunch one day with a friend, coffee with another the next day, then a selection of shops and stores – and the market! – I would rotate through one week to the next. In retrospect, it felt like a system, a habit almost, comforting in its predictability. But then, most things were predictable then (and sometimes I would complain at it).

These days I can only go for lunch with a workmate. Cheeseboy unexpectedly cycled past me in Swanston street the other day on the way to work, but in general, the friends I would catch up with for lunch or coffee are home now. Some of the shops I would visit are no longer there. And in general, there’s none of the bustle or urgency I remember, none of the big-city vibe of people rushing from here to there, the clang of tram bells, the toots of car horns, the ring of the GPO clock – everything has slackened.

There are people, but no-one’s in a hurry, and anyway, there are only half the people there were. Everything has slowed. You get none of that jolt of being part of such a large, living mechanism. The blood isn’t flowing as it did before, and the beat is much slower.

It will improve. No doubt, more and more people will return to the office in some form, and that’s a good thing. It will liven up again – but I don’t think things will be the same again, or not for years, anyway. Under cover of a pandemic, a revolution has occurred. Things have to be re-worked – re-imagined – if we want to get back that vibrancy.

I’ll be curious to see how all this has panned out in five years time.

The working day


Whether in lockdown or not, my working day at home doesn’t change much.

I start at about 8.30. As I would if I was in the office, I check out my emails and messages to start with, replying and following-up as needs be. That eases me into the day, though there’s every possibility that I’ll be contacted through Teams at any point.

When I’ve done that, generally I’ll check out the status of any service desk tickets outstanding, and the new one’s coming in. That’s less of a focus these days, but I’m still responsible for making sure any digital-related tickets raised by the business get looked after.

The guys are pretty good, and I rarely need to get involved. Generally, they’ll pick up the tickets as they come in and handle them. Mostly, I’m just checking that everything is up to date and the priorities are being looked after. Occasionally I’ll post a question to one of the guys, or ask someone to look at something. Sometimes, I’ll have to forward a ticket to someone else or go back to the caller seeking clarification or giving instructions.

Then there are meetings, which are every day and occasionally all the time. Every day, there’s a stand-up at 10.15 where disparate members from different teams tune in and give updates on what’s going on. I won’t say I hate these meetings, but I find them a waste of time mostly. It’s rare the activities of others have any effect on what I’m doing, and for me, I’m letting people know what’s going on from good manners.

Not that my manners are exemplary. Occasionally, I’ll skip this meeting. Other times, though I seem to be one of the central figures in these stand-ups, I’ll opt to listen in without contributing anything. That’s because so often what I say today will be the same as what I said yesterday, and very similar to what I say tomorrow. Mostly I do contribute, however, though rarely with great detail – that would only confuse them as I’m left field for most. Often I’ll throw in some wit, just to prove I’m not a drone.

Today, I had an earlier meeting at 9.30. This is a weekly meeting with one of the app developers checking in on what’s happening and reviewing current issues.

At 10.30 today I made a cup of tea, as I do most mornings, then I caught up with my immediate manager updating him in detail on the POC project that’s kicking off. I’m pretty candid with him, and he knows there’s a chance I’ll be heading off. We discussed contingencies and back-ups. Almost certainly the POC would be canned or postponed, which would be a big thing for the business.

I checked in with a few others after that by Teams, following up on random issues and updates.

As I do most mornings, I then left to walk up to the local shops. Today it was simple. I went to the supermarket and bought a few groceries, then headed back. Yesterday I stopped off for a flat white on the way back. Today I didn’t bother.

Back at home, I put the TV on in the background and tuned into the daily Covid press conference. I don’t do that much these days – I don’t have the stomach for the journo’s – this was just a change. I glanced at it occasionally and might stop for a moment, but it’s in a separate room from my desk. After a few minutes, I put it on mute and made a call to the vendor I work with.

I spoke to him for about 15 minutes discussing minor issues and getting updates. After catching up with a few little things, I killed some time knowing there was a steering committee meeting at 12.30. I updated the notes for that, only to get an update at 12.20 that the meeting was being put-off until tomorrow.

Today, I decided I would have dinner for lunch – that is, the main meal at lunchtime and something lighter for dinner. I reheated last nights cumin beef with rice and sat down to eat that. The tennis was on the TV, muted. I sat there listening to an audiobook, which I continued to listen to after I finished eating. Audiobooks are a big part of my daily routine, just to break it up a bit.

Back at my desk, I interacted with a few more on Teams, checked emails, etc. Yesterday I had back-to-back meetings about this time, first, with the other vendor conducting the POC. Then another meeting – a stand-up – with the team, which we have every second day. I’m much more involved in this because it’s our stuff. That went for about 30 mins.

Today, I have no more meetings, which is unusual, and a blessing as well, but it’s only the case because another of the POC meetings – workshops really – was cancelled. There’s another meeting I’ve opted not to attend because it barely relates to me and I don’t think I can contribute anything. And it’s 2 hours, which is way too long for an online meeting.

I sat down before and read a couple of chapters of a new book after making myself a coffee. Sometime in the next hour, I’ll give Rigby his daily walk. After 4, I’ll mix a drink – half the time these days, it’s non-alcoholic. By this time I’m wrapping up loose ends and hoping nothing big pops up. I’ll ask questions and answer others. I’ll check in to make sure everything is on track. I’ll begin to plan the next day, though I generally know the meetings I’ll be attending.

Often, I would get dinner started between 4.30 and 5, backwards and forwards from my desk. That won’t happen today. Generally, I’ll finish up at about 5.15, though often I’ll go back and respond to late emails or queries. I’m connected by phone as well, so I always know what’s going on. As I prepare dinner, I’ll listen to my audiobook through my Sonos until dinner is served, and the evening stretches out in front of me.

Last drinks


A couple of hours ago I got an SMS from Cheeseboy asking if I wanted to catch up for a drink tonight. Sure, I said, of course. About five minutes later the news came through that Victoria would be going back into lockdown from midnight tonight.

It was not unexpected. The rumours were swirling this morning that lockdown was imminent. A few cases have escaped hotel quarantine in the last week, and because they’re of the more dangerous UK variant, it’s something that needs to be stopped. The result is a five-day lockdown, which is hopefully sufficient, but probably necessary.

I have to say I’m weary of it all, though the lockdown doesn’t worry me too much. Five days is manageable, and we’ve done it all before. The hardest part will be wearing a mask outdoors again. I weary of the cycle, of it never going away completely and more so, sick of the inevitable narrative and general idiocy that follows it.

I would guess that most Victorians accept this. We’re well seasoned by now and fearful of the virus getting out and about again. We’ll do what we have to do and be grateful when it does the trick.

Not everyone feels the same, and generally, they’re the loudest. I can barely stomach it. Much of it is just plain stupid and ill-informed. Some of it is bigoted and extreme. Some just like to grizzle, and quite a few have a sense of entitlement that disgusts me.

I’ve learned not to argue because sense makes no difference to someone with notions set in stone and others either unwilling or incapable of an intelligent assessment. That doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally rap someone on the nose, but it’s no more than futile sport.

It means that I’ll probably avoid the more populist news services and, if I’m smart, much of social media. It’s hard enough dealing with covid itself and the danger it represents, as well as lockdown, without having to deal with the level of malevolent stupid out there.

On a more concrete level, I’m bloody annoyed that while most of the world is well along with vaccinating their population, not one Australian as yet has got the jab. The reality is that as long as we keep bringing in infected people that it will keep getting out here and there, no matter how diligent we are and how tight our protocols. This virus is hard to kill and keeps mutating, making it more difficult to contain – especially in hotels not designed for that purpose. We can minimise, but we can’t prevent, not without a vaccine.

All it takes to start with is for quarantine workers to be vaccinated to greatly reduce the chances of the virus being spread to the public. We could have been doing that a month ago had the government been on top of it. As it is, it’s now out, and we’re still a week or two from the first person being vaccinated. Even then, the roll-out will be much slower than it should be.

Realistically, we’re many months away from being safe, though maybe we can begin to mitigate the spread sooner. For me, I can’t expect to get the jab until May, and I’m in one of the higher priority groupings. In the meantime, we can only hope the virus doesn’t jump the shark and become something different again.

Tonight, I’ll go out for a wine with Cheeseboy. Tomorrow I’ll walk with him, with mask back on.

New year, but…


I guess the news here is that Covid is back in Victoria. Not a great surprise, even after 61 days being free from it. It came from Sydney, where the outbreak has been awfully mismanaged – though unmanaged might be a better descriptor. It was almost inevitable, especially at this time of year, that the virus would make it’s way over the border and infect us once again.

There’s a lot of cranky Victorians today. Most of their anger is directed at Gladys, who has failed to mandate mask-wearing in Sydney as the outbreak continued to spread. Her communication has been unclear and wishy-washy, and often at odds with itself. Watching from this side of the border, Melburnians have been wringing their hands and exhorting them to make mask-wearing compulsory, and tighten restrictions – even lockdown. (They haven’t because of brand management, I suspect, and because Gladys is too weak to stand up to the PM – I feel sure that NSW is following his directives.)

Too late for that now, though had the NSW government acted with more certitude sooner I suspect this would all be over by now. As it is, it’s out in the community and spreading across the nation. Borders are closing again, naturally, and restrictions tightening.

So far, there are eight reported cases of community infection in Victoria. The source is a returned traveller from Sydney, and it caught hold in a Thai restaurant only a few kilometres from where I live – and about eighty metres from where I had dinner last night, in Black Rock.

All this had an impact on New Years eve plans. I wasn’t planning a big one anyway, but after the news yesterday there was no way I was going to attend a crowded bar or pub, as was the plan for later in the night. As it was, we had a good dinner, returned to someones home for a drink, and I left a little after 11 – I was in bed with the light off at 11.35. So much for the new year.

I’m hardly upset by that. I don’t feel obliged to celebrate just because of the date. Today will be an easy day.

It’s common to reflect at the start of a new year, and there’s more to reflect on now than most years. I have no resolutions but for general intentions. My biggest priority is to get myself healthy, physically and mentally.

Physically, it’s a worry. There are two issues. Firstly, sleep. I used to an Olympic standard sleeper, but it’s gone way off over the last 6-9 months. I hoped this break would help, but it hasn’t. I stay longer in bed, but I sleep no better, and oftentimes, my sleep is diabolical. It leaves me weary all the time and generally lethargic. I don’t know what to do.

More concerning is my digestion or metabolism or whatever it is. I reported a while back at how bloated I was feeling – well, nothing has improved. If anything, it’s got worse. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling, as most of you will know. It’s got so bad that every time I eat it ratchets up as if I’ve just consumed a big three course meal.

Imagine that – the feeling you have after a big Christmas dinner perhaps, unbuttoning your pants to ease the strain and finding a good seat to vegetate in undisturbed while your meal is digested. That’s okay, you’ve earned that, and it’s only a few days a year you get to feel it – except, for me, I feel it every time I eat now. It’s as if my stomach has reduced to the size of a walnut and everything fills me up.

I churn and brew. It makes sleep even more difficult, and everything else problematic. Basically, it means that I’m eating less – averaging one meal a day, with perhaps nibbles in between. It mitigates the frequency but doesn’t fix the problem. And, perversely, I’ve ballooned.

I’ve wondered if it was particular foods that did it, but there seems no pattern. I stuck to proteins, and had the problem, then went off them, and it continued. It might seem frivolous, but it takes the edge off every activity I do. I’m short of energy and the will to do anything much. Altogether, I feel worn down.

I’ll get on top of it, but I’m just not sure how. I made some poached eggs for breakfast, and my intention now is to fast until tomorrow. It’s a shot in the dark, but my doctor is away, so it’s all I’ve got right now.

In the meantime, it’s 2021. I’ll make other plans, whenever…