a little east of reality

Friday, June 01, 2007

five busy days

I've been in Melbourne again, this time for work. Monday and Tuesday were planning days for the branch. We basically worked out our strategy for the next three years, and especially the next twelve months. The facilitator was excellent. He stopped the two days from just being about the facts and figures of projects and made sure that there was a lot of focus on the way we work, our relationships with other branches and governments departments, and on our methods for prioritizing work. One nice thing was that we flew in on Sunday night. More expensive for the branch, but it meant that everyone didn't arrive at the conference room Monday morning tired and grumpy from having to get up at 5am to fly to Melbourne.

The Crown Promenade was really nice. The picture of the hotel room that appears in the sequence on the hotel's home page is exactly how my room looked, with a glorious comfy bed and a huge window that looked down on the lights of the casino centre and city. One night I was walking along the riverfront and there was a busker playing the most beautiful music. I sat down on some steps and closed my eyes and listened. After a few tunes I decided I'd better head back to the hotel, and I stopped to see what instrument he was playing. I nearly fell over in shock when I realised it was an ordinary plastic recorder, the kind we all seem to learn in Australia in the first year of high school. I didn't even know a recorder could make a sound like that. When I told him so, he laughed and played me a very squeaky note that took me straight back to year 8 music class. He told me that in one place where he busks there are a group of Minor birds that start singing whenever he plays in their note range. I wasn't surprised, because I'd thought when he was playing that it was like elevated birdsong.

Tuesday night I had teppanyaki, one of the few types of Japanese restaurants I'd never tried before, with some of my workmates. The chef didn't throw any food, but he was still pretty entertaining to watch. The last night at the Crown I decided to stay in and order room service, mostly because I had a job interview the next day to prepare for. And yes it's just a tray with some silver lids over the plates, but ordering room service is fun, especially when you've never done it before. My dessert was creme brulee with a strawberry compote. Oh my.

Wednesday was section planning, kind of a follow-up from the branch planning days and in the afternoon I had my interview. I think it went well. The following two days, Thursday and Friday, I moved to a cheaper hotel and went to a two-day training course on policy formulation, which was run by a great presenter I'd done a course with before. I flew home this evening. It felt like a long week, but it was useful. Both planning days and training courses have the potential to be a complete waste of time if they're badly done, but I actually came home feeling motivated.

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