Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Tea and Sydney

Today I went to Sydney to meet with all five of the reinsurance companies we deal with. I needed to introduce myself as the new reinsurance manager, and generally schmooze. Sorry . . . "network".

And also drink an extraordinary amount of tea.

I caught a 6am flight from Tullamarine, and my first cup of tea was served on the flight.

A tailwind for the flight and light traffic into the city meant arriving at 7.50 for meeting no.1, which wasn't until 8.30. So I had a second cup of tea while waiting.

After meeting no.1 I had an hour to kill, so I called Ty. A third cup of tea (and a nice catch up) and I headed off to meeting no.2. This was held in a cafe, hence a fourth cup of tea.

Meeting no.3 was actually the obligatory free lunch, which included a very nice riesling and was followed by a fifth cup of tea.

That was pretty much the limit. I'd had enough of tea by this time. It was water for meeting no.4 and juice for meeting no.5 before heading back to the airport for the 5 o'clock flight home.

That's quite enough tea. Time for that nice lie down.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

The Wedding of (the second half of) the Year

Yesterday was Sarah and Greg's wedding day.

It all began at about 10.30am when Kate and I went around to Sarah & Greg's for a soothing beverage to kick things off.

Suitably chilled, Sarah and Kate went off to do whatever it is that chicks do on their wedding day (I'm not sure I need, or want, to know) and Greg and I did what guys do. We went to the pub for lunch.

We were soon joined by our erstwhile MC Shannon, father of the bride Russell, father of the groom Ross, Greg's brother Micka and brother-in-law Michael.

We discussed the arrangements and activities for the day, which turned out to be a reasonably short conversation. It was pretty clear that all we had to do was show up sober and on time. Not too hard.

The ceremony was to be in Moonee Ponds, at the house of Honey family friend Therese, and a stone's throw from where Kate and I used to live in Dean St. Official starting time was 5.30, but people were arriving from 4.30. Well, no-one wants to be late, do they?

The ceremony was beautiful and charming and etcetera and not too long. Our Reverend Budge really does do an awesome service.

Following more drinks and food, Shannon gathered the crowd around for the speeches.

Greg's dad Ross welcomed Sarah to the Loney family (there was some speculation on the name-changing issue . . . not sure what the final decision is there) and then Jill and Russell got up to speak.

Those who attended our wedding earlier in the year will remember that the speeches went for longer than the ceremony. It was again the case here. But as before, they were oh so entertaining.

Russell reminded us (again) of the erotic power of the living room floor in Mavis' Forest St house, where Sarah was conceived. Once the laughter had died down, Jill spoke beautifully about Sarah and Greg's love and friendship.

The party kicked on until about 1. The newlyweds had misplaced their house keys, so ended up getting some of Greg's colleagues to bring his spare set from the station. They were then taken home in a cop car with the lights flashing.

A perfect end to a perfect day.

The great thing about this wedding was the love that was there for all to see. During the ceremony, Budge spoke of what an honour it was to preside over the marriage of two friends, after having the opportunity to see their love grow. In her speech, Jill spoke about Sarah and Greg's ability to balance both deep love and a wonderful friendship.

For me, it's great to attend a wedding where both the people involved are dear friends; these are people I love both individually and as a couple.

Four weeks from today, Kate and Shannon and I will be leaving for a European holiday with Sarah and Greg. When you're planning to spend weeks in the company of these people, and genuinely looking forward to it, that really means something.

I'm fond of saying that a wedding was successful if they ended up married and no-one was injured. Well, this wedding was successful. And then some.

And now here's some photos:

Early morning preparations

The Bride: Before

Making it all up as we go along

Posing in the Ponds

Callie and Reverend Budge

Shannon doing an awesome job as MC

The Father of the Groom

The Parents of the Bride

Em and Justin and Vesa

Opening the pressies

I sadly wasn't able to get any pictures of the ceremony, being somewhat involved at the time. It was a very well-recorded event, however, so I'll source them from somewhere and post them soon.

P.S. Happy Birthday Greg!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Pending Wedding

This week has been a little hectic, hence the lack of updates. Apologies to my avid readers. Both of you.

Starting the new job, without really finishing the old job (or at least, not having anyone to hand it over to) has meant a couple of late nights at work.

My lovely wife has also had a nutso week, with a bunch of buyers in house making demands and a bunch of design orders coming through all at once.

And it's also been the week leading up to Sarah and Greg's wedding. Which is tonight.

Speeches have been written, playlists have been organised, food and drink has been ordered. It should be a blast as long as I can stay awake for the duration.

Tomorrow I'm reserving the right to turn into a small puddle on the floor.

Friday, 17 August 2007

It's all about the lunches

Following my last entry, I have suffered the accusation that I'm talking too much about where I sit, and not enough about what I do.

Well then. Let me set the record straight.

As previously mentioned, I am now the reinsurance manager. I manage a small team responsible for the administration of the company's reinsurance contracts.

Now, the main purpose of reinsurance is to generate lunches for its participants.

Make no mistake. These reinsurance contracts cover millions of dollars worth of transactions annually. They are very complex, very detailed, and very difficult to administer correctly. It is therefore critical that an insurance company maintains a good working relationship with its reinsurers.

Hence, the lunches.

For example, we met with one of our reinsurers for lunch at midday today, and I got back to the office, lightly toasted, at 3.30pm. This is normal and expected. In fact, my manager saw me returning and wondered why I was back so soon.

We didn't even talk a great deal about, you know, business stuff. The conversation was mainly focused on the menu (which was extensive) and the history of the Crystal Palace soccer club.

I've decided I really like this job.

Later this month I'll be travelling up to Sydney to meet with all five of the reinsurance companies we deal with, in one day.

God help me.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Week one almost done

I've been doing my new job for four days now.

So far it's been much the same as my previous job, mainly because my previous role is yet to be filled and I foolishly agreed to "finish a few things off". In fact, the first two days were identical to my previous job, because I didn't even move desks until Wednesday.

But it's been fun. So far.

My new desk is up on the 11th floor. Which means I'm back working amongst the guys and gals I cruelly abandoned for the mysterious realms of the Project Office last December. Happily, they bear me no ill will. In fact, it was a little like coming home.

The company's policy is that it's all open plan seating, so there's no spanky corner office for me. I do, however, have a window seat facing south to the Yarra and Crown Casino, and such spots are the prime real estate. Sadly, most of my river view is blocked by the building on the other side of Flinders Lane, so I can only see a sliver of brownish water on one side, and part of the Crown forecourt on the other.

I can also see out to the ocean if I squint a bit.

It definitely beats a window seat on the north side, where all you see is the grey tops of buildings across Collins St and you get fried by the sun every afternoon.

Conveniently, I can see the Crown gas flares from my new vantage point . . . hourly from 6pm. They're my cue that I've stayed too late and it's time to go home.

My new team is good. They seem very competent. They're certainly very quiet and very industrious. I have yet to find out precisely what it is they do, but I suppose I'll work it out eventually.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Rewind: The Night Before

With all the excitement of seeing The Cure, I've neglected to talk about last Saturday night.

Saturday afternoon was spent over in Lara with Robb, continuing work on a video clip we're making for Tahoe (which, incidentally, is currently sitting at No. 7 on the Triple J Unearthed Roots chart).

It was quite the intensive afternoon, so I was a bit weary by the time I got home and prepared to go out.

It was Adam's 30th birthday, and Anna threw a surprise party for him at the Lincoln Hotel in Carlton. It's a great little pub, and the open fire and spicy food was welcome on a chilly winter night.

We met some very cool people from Adam's lab, and some of his friends all the way over from Sweden. Not sure if they only came for the party. Probably not, but if they did . . . awesome.

It may have been the four pints consumed in the space of two hours, or it may have been the strange Swedish chewing-tobacco that was being handed around, but at some point I started feeling a little unwell.

I suspect it was the tobacco . . . those crazy Swedes. And I wasn't the only victim of this strange Scandinavian concoction.

Admittedly, it may have been the combination. The upshot was that we ended up leaving a little earlier than expected.

Still, it was a great night. Happy birthday Adam, and welcome to the 30 club.

Greg, you're next.

Monday, 13 August 2007

The Cure

Kylie and I went along to Rod Laver last night to see The Cure. I will admit to some bias, being a very long-term fan, but they were frickin' awesome. Stripped back to a four-piece after brief flirtations with five- and six-member lineups, they rocked.

The last time I saw them was way back in 1992, again at Rod Laver (then, of course, the Flinders Park Tennis Centre . . .  ah, nostalgia). I had an oddish moment last night when their opening number was the same one they played way back then. (Side note: the song in question is the appropriately titled Open. Natch.)
In their three-hour set (featuring three encores) they did at least one track from each of their albums, with the exceptions of 2000's Bloodflowers and oddly, 1980's Seventeen Seconds. Their signature tune from that album, A Forest, is a common show closer and notable for its absence.

Having recently dropped their keyboardist Roger, the songs tended to be drawn from the relatively-obscure-but-hey-awesome-guitar-riff bucket, like Push from 1985's The Head on the Door and If Only Tonight We Could Sleep from 1987's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me.

For the keyboard-heavy songs that couldn't be avoided, like Inbetween Days and Lullaby, the keyboard riffs were played on guitar. It mostly worked, but results varied. I found it a little irritating because their guitarist Porl has played keys for them before, so they could have arranged some of the songs differently.

Still, that's a small price to pay. The lack of keyboard meant the set generally concentrated on their earlier material, back when they were a guitar-bass-drums three-piece. In fact, the last encore was entirely devoted to their very earliest songs: 10:15 Saturday Night, Jumping Someone Else's Train, and finished with the venerable Killing an Arab. Talk about retrospective.

The crowd consisted mostly of thirtysomethings who probably would have had makeup and teased hair back in the day, but not so much now. Shame. Still, black was de rigeur and I did see one "Goonies" t-shirt. Which was nice.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Lock up your calculators

Our company actuarial dinner was held last night at the Westin hotel in the city. The purpose of this annual event is to celebrate those who have completed their actuarial exams in the past year, and to welcome actuaries new to the company.

These poor unfortunate souls are "celebrated" by being required to provide the entertainment for the evening. In the past, this has included recreations of films such as Star Wars and The Da Vinci Code, some occasionally inspired but generally lame comedy, and more than a little cross-dressing.

Last night the entertainment took the form of game shows, namely The Rich List, Spicks and Specks and The Amazing Race. All rendered with a unique actuarial (read: nerdy) bent.

Eg for The Rich List, we had to list the digits of π. One person could actually recite 17, and no, it wasn't me. For Spicks and Specks there was a rousing game of "Actuary or Serial Killer" and for The Amazing Race . . . um, well I'd kind of stopped paying attention by then. It was some kind of charades thing, I think.

Anyway, after a couple of hours it was about as raucous as a room full of actuaries tends to get. Which is, you know, not particularly.

Having said that, I'm told the dregs were kicked out of the downstairs bar at around 2am. And on a school night too. Tsk tsk.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Slack Weekend

I managed to do precisely nothing this past weekend. And it was great.

If not for watching a bunch of episodes of Family Guy, completing a few missions on Grand Theft Auto and having breakfast on Sunday with a bunch of attractive young women, the weekend might have been a complete waste.

It's just as well, though. There's quite the big week coming up.

As it's my last week before commencing my shiny new job, there's all the usual handover shenanigans to get through.

Then there's our annual Actuarial dinner tomorrow night (always a blast), on Saturday night we have an engagement party, and on Sunday it's The Cure live at Rod Laver Arena.

That's enough to make anyone crave a cup of tea, a chocolate digestive and nice lie down.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Tom Black Unearthed

Our tunes are now available on Triple J Unearthed.

Here you can listen to us, download us, and tell the world how much you love us.

Go on. It'll be fun.