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2005-03-02 - 12:10 a.m.

Summer's over. And to commemorate the end of the silly season I'm having an alcohol free March. Yes you heard me. No deer for a month. Obviously it's a symbolic thing- there's nothing wrong with a drink or two monst nights, as long as you cut down on binge drinking but yeah, I think I've done far too much of that this Summer. Sure I've picked a time that's convenient to me ("can't do February because I have Anthony's wedding and Mark's party" etc)- I didn't even manage to not drink or eat meat for sixteen days when my Grandfather died (it's a Hindu belief and though none of my immediate family is Hindu the rest of them chose to do it- I selfishly didn't because the 16 days spanned Christmas and New Year's last year).

Apparently binge drinking is more than 4 drinks so I binged 4 nights in a row last week. I went to a "Team Leader/Team Member" course for work down in Bowral on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday and made reasonable use of the bar tab on the two nights- it's a good thing my work partner in crime Nathan wasn't down there with me or it could have been messy- as it was I was up in my room by about 10pm both nights. Then on Thursday night I was at the Townie until close with said partner in crime as he was on days off and I'd taken a day owing on the Friday because the course started on my day off- we don't often get to socialise because we're on different shifts. And Friday I had my parents over for dinner for the first time in a year and a half. Went through three bottles of wine and some beers between the four of us. Saturday (26/2) after work I had what will be my last drink for over a month at the Townie. I only stayed half an hour as I was falling asleep.

The work course was really good. It was basically one of those things dreamed up by a consulting company who put definitions on everything that happens at any number of workplaces and aims to put a system in place for more effective work based on their observations. Only I agreed with pretty much everything they had to say, about the roles of a team leader and team member and the typical traps each falls into (and could easily identify where I needed to improve)- about different kinds of work systems, symbols and behaviours, and a lot of other things. The team building activities were great. Over the course of 3 days 2 groups of 6 each undertake 6 activities, so everybody gets a turn as a leader. As an example for one of the activities there was an empty, upright 200L drum which represented a "bomb" and a 600mL drink bottle full of some liquid which represented a "fuse"- both inside a circle of say 10m diameter which we weren't allowed to step into. Using only ropes and a plank of wood we had to remove the "fuse" without spilling it, then remove the drum to outside the circle without it touching the boundary rope or us touching it. And there were points for outcome and team process.

I find the most frustrating thing about working in a team environment is that you have no say in who is on your team. At my work we have 3 shift teams, and pretty much everyone is happy within their team which in itself is a first, but too many people nurture inter-team rivalries, rather than realise that together all of us make up the team that is our department. We had performance reviews about a month ago and one guy who wasn't entirely happy with how he went now thinks that rather than working on improving certain areas he needs to report to the manager every little mistake everyone else makes (if they are not on his shift team) so that his ranking improves relative to everyone else. Are we in high school? It only takes one wanker at work to bring the whole thing down. The whole thing being everyone working together towards a common goal- whether it be efficiently completing our work or improving our perception among other departments. I don't know that this course necessarily touched on how to deal with difficult people- it was more laying down the guidelines for a successful team, not telling you what to do if someone doesn't share the same vision. I can see said person going to this course and rolling his eyes at some things and going back to work and not changing in the slightest. What can you do?

Anyways, to wrap up that topic, the food was excellent as well and we each had a room to ourselves with a King Size and single bed and a TV and bathroom. If nothing else it will boost morale knowing that the company is willing to splash out for something that is a bit of fun and an escape from routine- but you really have to read between the lines and say "this shows how seriously they take it- we should too."

So, going back... I know Friday 18/2 was a Townie night (after work and before another 3pm start) but I can't remember the context. I know Jane was very drunk after having after work drinks and then meeting Ruth and Phoebe among others at the Townie. Think we left when they kicked us out of upstairs. Sunday 20/2 I finally returned my Ikea filing cabinet and the sorry saga continued when they fixed the problem but I left part of it behind. I had to go back on the Monday and was unimpressed with myself. Sunday night in torrential rain Jane, Steve and I saw "Closer" at Hoyts in Fox studios in lieu of "Finding Neverland" at Moonlight Cinema which was understandably cancelled. "Closer" was good- based on a play and I could so see how it would work as a play. Other than the 4 main characters only 2 others had 10 second speaking parts. Beats me how Natalie Portman falls into the "supporting actress" category in a movie with four leads- just because she's not Julia Roberts I guess.

And back... Saturday 12/2 was Mark's party (his birthday was on the Sunday). Intimate but late and drunken affair, not a lot else to say about it. Monday 14/2 was Valentine's Day- Jane and I had a Seafood Platter at a restaurant in Summer Hill. I don't have an "Hallmark Holiday" issues with Valentine's Day- to me it doesn't matter why it's there- it's a day on which the focus is placed on couples and relationships so I go along with it and do something couple-y. Just like Christmas serves as a day to reflect on family no matter what religion you are.

So that leaves me a couple of weeks still to write about- from my Australia Day BBQ to Anthony and Margaret's wedding. Watch this space.


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