Weapons Licensing Branch have exceeded lowest of expectations.

Well, where do I start?   As anyone who has read this blog knows, I am physically not very strong, and I recently (yeah right, back in late February!) put in a Category C application to  QPS Weapons Licensing Branch to be able to acquire a Category C licence which would allow me to purchase a suitable shotgun for clay target shooting – ie: a pump action semi-automatic shotgun or similar.  The application process requires that submitters also provide evidence from their medical practitioners stating their ‘genuine’ for requiring a Category C shotgun, as this type of firearm is not in general circulation in the shooting community.  The legislation explicitly stipulates that a person who is NOT a Category C licensed shooter, is not even allowed to be in possession of a Cat C shotgun – which means, even with my Cat A/B and H licenses, I am not legally allowed to even borrow a Cat C shotgun to even see if acquiring one is going to suit my purposes!  So many restrictions… le sigh.

Anyway, I had a young woman named Ms Ashleigh Ditzforbrains from Weapons Licensing call me and tell me that my application was received and that ‘everything was in order, you just need to provide your Firearms Safety Course Section Category C and it should be processed – no problems’.  OK.  So I traipse off to get a Cat C Safety Course certification (same damn safety course I did for my A/B license, and my H license and sat through again not so long ago with the Small Child so he could get his A/B Minors license… with some minor variations for Cat C)… some $200 later which I forward to be added to my application and happily go off overseas to the US for five weeks in early March, anticipating that my license would be processed in due course – which everyone knows with WLB is like, fucking forever because their processing times and wait times are notorious screwed up.

Get back from the US, wait some months still and then get a letter stipulating that my medical evidence was insufficient to demonstrate that I lacked the ‘strength and dexterity’ to be eligible for a Category C license!  Are you fucking kidding me!?  That Ms Ashleigh IneptitudeIsUs woman told me everything was in order and sent me off to do an expensive safety course to complete the application?!?  So why was my application being rejected? Naturally, I contact WLB and ask them WTF?  I get told by a Team Leader this time, Ms Morag SomeoneOrOther, that my medical evidence did not state the words ‘strength and dexterity’ so it was deemed insufficient and that I was able to gain more medical advice and avail myself of the QCAT appeal system within 28 days of determination if I wished to appeal the decision, but that there was nothing they could do with the case, once the decision was finalised on their end – which is complete and utter bullshit btw… I’ve worked in Govt and know enough about public service processes to know that cases can be reopened or renumbered to allow for further processing but OK, if  they want me to engage in a spurious administrative appeal, then that is what I would do.  I was also given assurances by Ms Morag Whatserdoover that with additional medical information she felt there would be no problem having the decision reversed. (Oh, and the decision was made on 11th August, but delivered to me by registered mail on 19th August so I had a truncated timetable to get an appeal lodged – thanks arseholes!)

So I went back to the quack, got another letter that stated the exact nature of my physical condition and limitations and ensured it was correctly worded, saying I lacked the ‘strength and dexterity’ to operate traditional break action shotguns and went to lodge a QCAT appeal – at which point I discovered it was going to cost $295.00 just to lodge an appeal!!!  OMFG.  Naturally, one would want to avoid this type of ridiculous lodgement fee, so I contacted Weapons Licensing, yet again, and sent them my new and improved medical evidence (containing the correct wording), and spoke with Morag Thingamebob again and basically went ‘WTF?  Why do I have to go through this expensive process when you have 1) assured me that the problem lay primarily with the wording of my medical evidence and 2) you’ve told me the decision would be reversed, no problem!  It should be difficult to obtain a Category C license, but it should not be this administratively fucking hard!

It was at this time that Ms Morag Bitchface (nee Dooverlackey) decided to change tack – she sent me an email saying that based on the new evidence I had supplied, she and her Authorizing Officer, Snr Sgt Tom Cavanagh, felt that if I pursued my line of enquiry, that it may be deemed that I was not a ‘fit and proper person’ under section 19 of the Weapons Licensing Act to possess Category A/B licenses and I may be called upon to show cause as to why I should be allowed to keep my current licenses.

FUCK OFF YOU INEPT CUNTS!  I don’t wan’t to spend $295.00 on a pointless administrative appeal and respectfully request that my case be reopened or alternatively I be allowed to reapply with the new information and that is what I get?  A THREAT to take away my current license?  THAT’S IT!  Within moments, I have decided that I am GOING TO FUCK YOU BASTARDS WITH A MOTHERFUCKING RAKE!

Unfortunately for Morag Cuntrag (nee Bitchface), this exchange happened on a Friday afternoon, so that basically left me free to spent most of my Sunday writing a letter of complaint against Ms Ashleigh DitzForBrains, Ms Morag Cuntrag and Snr Sgt Tom Cavanagh and send it to – The Honourable Jack Dempsey, Minister for Police,  Mr Ian Stewart, Commissioner for Police, The Chief Operating Officer of Weapons Licensing Branch, and the Manger, Weapons Licensing Branch, and and for good measure – the Anti-Discrimination Officer of Queensland.  And a five page diatribe outlining this six months of unnecessary administrative bullshit was in all their in-boxes by first thing 15th September, ready to make their Monday mornings as delightful as possible.

And then the weirdest thing happened… deathly silence.  Now, any of you who have ever written strongly worded letters to government officials that explain instances of gross ineptitude, break downs in administrative process, threats against an individual of the public (presumably the consumer in this situation) and intimidation and/or spurious threats by a member of QPS including a Senior Sergeant who should bloody well know better, knows… ordinarily know these things get jumped on immediately and someone way on up in the food chain usually calls within 24 hours or less.  But that didn’t happen.  Deathly silence ensued… Weird.

It was not until the following Friday that I had a phone call from the Operations Manager of Weapons Licensing, while I was in the car coming back from the Gold Coast.  Mr K was thankfully driving at the time and could tell within moments that the call was not going to go so well for the guy on the other end of the phone.  The long and the short of that call was that Mr Operations Manager was extremely apologetic that I felt that my current licenses were being threatened but that it was the obligation of the Authorizing Officer under Section 19 of the Weapons Act 1990 to ensure that holders of A/B licenses were fit and proper persons to hold said licenses – to which I replied, that yes, I understood this obligation and duty of care of the authorizing officers, however “under Section 19(2) of that same Act, the Authorizing Officer has the capacity, authorization and ability to request further information pertaining to any Category C application, and that Snr Sgt Tom Cavanagh chose at the time of processing the original application NOT to request further supporting evidence, but instead dismissed the application and thereby turned the matter into an extraneous and spurious appeal for the attention of the expensive QCAT system costing the myself and the tax payer unnecessary time and expense”, or words to that effect.  At which point Mr Operations Manager back peddled a little bit with backing up the authorizing officer and decided to inform me that I was obviously a fit and proper person in his opinion, and that my A/B licenses were not under threat and he had decided I could reapply with an entirely new Cat C application with the new medical evidence – strangely enough, exactly what I had respectfully requested in the first place… a suggestion that was summarily dismissed and a threat to take away my current licenses issued by the power tripping arseholes of Ms Cuntrag and Snr Sgt Cavanagh!  Grrr…!  What I had requested was NOT impossible and obviously not even unreasonable!  Fucking retards working at WLB.

So that was some time in late August by now… the new application was lodged on September 4th.  And NOW for the fun bit.  🙂  Oh yes, the drama continues…!  On Monday this week being the 27th of October, I get a call from the original Ms Ashleigh DitzForBrains letting me know that my application can’t be processed as I have not supplied the $8.00 Change of Conditions fee that should have accompanied (both) the original applications.  Me (deadpan):  “You’re kidding, right?  I lodged this application twice at Morningside, and Carina Police Stations, and on both occasions, none of the receiving officers requested any lodgement fee.”

No, apparently she was not.  And then Dizty Ashleigh asks me what type of shotgun I am planning on acquiring upon gaining this license?  I told her, “I have no idea.  In accordance with the legislation I have not been in possession of, or even borrowed any Category C shotguns, and as such have not yet made that determination.”  She then informs me that with this license I am only able to purchase a “break action shotgun that takes no more than 2 rounds at a time”.  NO SHIT, she actually said that.  I took a deep breather and told her, very calmly, that she has just described a traditional shotgun which is able to be purchased by any A/B licensee in the entire state of Queensland, and that a Category C shotgun is one which is a semi-automatic shotgun, either pump action or other action operated, and may hold a capacity of up to five rounds in accordance with the legislation… and she insists that you can only get a break action shotgun that takes two rounds with a Category C license!  (You know – I looked this stupid woman up when I was writing my ministerial and I know that I am dealing with an absolutely bottom feeding administrative droogey – she’s an A02 glorified reception with the title of WLB Processing Officer – but she should know the very basic differences of weapons types in accordance with the Act that dictates every single action relating to her entire job! But she obviously has no idea what the fuck she is doing).  Eventually she asks me to hold while she ‘checks with Someone Else’, to which I respond, ‘Please do.’  :/

In due course ‘Someone Else’ gets on the phone and tells me that I am indeed correct, but that the $8.00 fee does need to be paid.  I acquiesce graciously to his ridiculously overdue but seemingly reasonable request for a modest processing fee, and helpfully suggest that they consider updating their website to reflect this requirement, especially seeing that neither the Morningside nor Carina Police Stations, where the original applications were lodged, knew anything about any processing fee for a Change of Conditions application…!

Anyway, I have now paid the $8.00 fee and scanned and emailed the receipt off to WLB marked attention to ‘Someone Else’, the nice guy who seemed to know some shit from Shinola, and now… we wait.  AGAIN!!!

Office Worker with Mountain of Paperwork

This is how I imagine Ms DiztForBrains gets on at work…

Below the waterline.

I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a new camera lately – yes, I know, another one… but one that can be used underwater when snorkelling or sailing etc.  Mostly I am keen to acquire one because I missed some great opportunities for beautiful photographs when I was up in the Whitsundays recently… but what is putting me off is that the underwater digital camera feels like the waffle iron of the photographic world – the single use appliance that will rarely get used, which, when weighed up against the cost, turns out to be a rather poor consumer decision.  Then I saw all these gorgeous photos on Distractify (No, I will not link to it – ridiculous, bullshit click bait website that it is!) and it is rapidly stiffening my resolve to acquire my own waterproof camera…


Underwater fishes off Sipadan Island, MalaysiaUnderwater Sipadan Island Malaysia Underwater in IcelandUnderwater Iceland Underwater in CubaUnderwater Cuba Underwater in the Caribbean Sea, off MexicoUnderwater Caribean Mexico Underwater in the Flores Sea, IndonesiaUnderwater Flores Sea Indonesia Underwater ice in SwitzerlandUnderwater Switzerland Underwater in BrazilUnderwater Brazil Underwater diver off the coast of SpainUnderwater Spain Underwater at the Palawan Islands, PhilippinesUnderwater Palawan Islands Philipines Underwater in the Blue Grotto, Isle of Capri, ItalyUnderwater Blue Grotto Capri Italy Underwater at Pig Beach, BahamasUnderwater Pig Beach Bahamas Underwater in Green Lake, AustriaUnderwater Green Lake Aust Underwater in The Everglades, FloridaUnderwater Everglades Florida Underwater in Bora Bora, TahitiUnderwater Bora Bora Underwater bathing elephants in Andaman Islands, IndiaUnderwater Andaman Is India Underwater Mystery?Underwater Mystery2 Underwater seal in the Magdalen Islands, CanadaUnderwater Magalen Islands Canada Underwater trout in the Smalblaar River, South AfricaUnderwater Smalblaar Rv Sth Africa Underwater diver in FijiUnderwater Fiji Underwater fishes at Raja Ampat, IndonesiaUnderwater Raja Ampat Indonesia Underwater at Crystal River, FloridaUnderwater Crystal River Florida Underwater Mystery Underwater in Zanzibar, TanzaniaUnderwater Zanzibar TanzaniaUnderwater in Mare, New CaledoniaUnderwater Mare New Caledonia Underwater off a jetty at Nuweiba, Egypt.Underwater Neweba Egypt Underwater off Eilat, IsraelUnderwater Eilat Israel

Underwater in ArgentinaUnderwater Argentina

Underwater at Laguna de los Burros, MexicoUnderwater Laguna de los Burros Mexico Underwater in the Mediterranean Sea, FranceUnderwater Mediterranean France Underwater in Jellyfish Lake in PalauUnderwater Jellyfish Lake Palau Underwater off Danko Island, AntarcticaUnderwater Danko Island Antarctica Underwater in a French LakeUnderwater France Underwater sharks off South AfricaUnderwater South Africa Underwater in Papua New GuineaUnderwater Papua New Guinea

As someone who travels as much as they can (see tag: ‘twavel’ on the right) I think that maybe I might be able to get some good use out of it after all.  I’m off to New Zealand at the end of this year and hopefully off to Japan in the middle of next year… so maybe it would be a good time to buy a photographic waffle iron.

Let the sanest among us, cast the first stone.

I was sitting at the kitchen table the other day watching a TED video, as you do… and my mobile phone rings.  I glance at the screen and see that it’s my Mum calling.  So I answer the call, and say, “Hi Mum”, just like I always do… only to hear a male voice saying, “No, it’s Dad.”


JTFC!  This seriously and immediately did my head in, because my Dad passed away in 2007.  It was actually my father in law, who is currently visiting from Canada and staying at my Mum’s house while she is travelling… and while somewhere deep down in my logical brain I knew it couldn’t be my Dad, the distracted manner in which I answered the phone and the expectation that it would be my mother, followed by a declaration that it was my deceased father, allowed an immediate, and completely irrational, reaction that stayed with me for several hours.

It happened in just a split second – I heard the male voice and was then frantically looking around the room in confusion and my heart felt like it had leapt into my throat… I felt like I was floundering and my brain was having trouble keeping up with the enormous negative adrenaline rush that over took my body.  It was like some weird lizard brain fear/disbelief reaction that I have never experienced before.  Absolute discombobulation. Then a fleeting moment later it penetrated that the male voice had said ‘Doug’ and not ‘Dad’… and I just burst into tears.

It was a truly surreal moment.  I felt like my brain was trying to resolve some sort of unresolvable situation.  I have no way to describe it other than I ‘freaked the fuck out!’… and I am not the type of person who ‘freaks the fuck out!’ about anything.  Additionally, I most certainly do not believe in anything that would even remotely support concepts of contact and/or interactions with people who are dead.  But my brain didn’t seem to remember any of that, right there in the middle of that bizarrely intense over-emotional unreasonable moment.

I would give just about anything for a phone call with my Dad, I have so much I would want to tell him, so many things I would I want to ask him, people I would want to introduce him to.  So much has happened since he left.  You know, most days I don’t think about Dad at all, and we all just go about our lives.  But whenever I do think about him… I miss him so much it hurts.

discombobulate discombobulation

She’s Got Personality…

You know those personality test things that tell you your personality type after asking you barely 20 questions, that we always seem to fall for on the internet (Why is that? Why are those silly quizzes so irresistable?  Why do we care what LoTR character we’d be?)? Well, every time I have ever done one of the Myers-Briggs style personality type tests,  come out ENTJ.  Every single time.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a silly 20 questions on the internet one, or the official sit down and fill out the forms and answer ALL the questions one.  There must be something to it.   *shrug*

entjENTJs are natural leaders. They live in a world of possibilities where they see all sorts of challenges to be surmounted, and they want to be the ones responsible for surmounting them. They have a drive for leadership, which is well-served by their quickness to grasp complexities, their ability to absorb a large amount of impersonal information, and their quick and decisive judgments. They are “take charge” people.

ENTJs are very career-focused, and fit into the corporate world quite naturally. They are constantly scanning their environment for potential problems which they can turn into solutions. They generally see things from a long-range perspective, and are usually successful at identifying plans to turn problems around – especially problems of a corporate nature. ENTJs are usually successful in the business world, because they are so driven to leadership. They’re tireless in their efforts on the job, and driven to visualize where an organization is headed. For these reasons, they are natural corporate leaders.

There is not much room for error in the world of the ENTJ. They dislike to see mistakes repeated, and have no patience with inefficiency. They may become quite harsh when their patience is tried in these respects, because they are not naturally tuned in to people’s feelings, and more than likely don’t believe that they should tailor their judgments in consideration for people’s feelings. ENTJs, like many types, have difficulty seeing things from outside their own perspective. Unlike other types, ENTJs naturally have little patience with people who do not see things the same way as the ENTJ. The ENTJ needs to consciously work on recognizing the value of other people’s opinions, as well as the value of being sensitive towards people’s feelings. In the absence of this awareness, the ENTJ will be a forceful, intimidating and overbearing individual. This may be a real problem for the ENTJ, who may be deprived of important information and collaboration from others. In their personal world, it can make some ENTJs overbearing as spouses or parents.

The ENTJ has a tremendous amount of personal power and presence which will work for them as a force towards achieving their goals. However, this personal power is also an agent of alienation and self-aggrandizement, which the ENTJ would do well to avoid.

ENTJs are very forceful, decisive individuals. They make decisions quickly, and are quick to verbalize their opinions and decisions to the rest of the world. The ENTJ who has not developed their Intuition will make decisions too hastily, without understanding all of the issues and possible solutions. On the other hand, an ENTJ who has not developed their Thinking side will have difficulty applying logic to their insights, and will often make poor decisions. In that case, they may have brilliant ideas and insight into situations, but they may have little skill at determining how to act upon their understanding, or their actions may be inconsistent. An ENTJ who has developed in a generally less than ideal way may become dictatorial and abrasive – intrusively giving orders and direction without a sound reason for doing so, and without consideration for the people involved.

Although ENTJs are not naturally tuned into other people’s feelings, these individuals frequently have very strong sentimental streaks. Often these sentiments are very powerful to the ENTJ, although they will likely hide it from general knowledge, believing the feelings to be a weakness. Because the world of feelings and values is not where the ENTJ naturally functions, they may sometimes make value judgments and hold onto submerged emotions which are ill-founded and inappropriate, and will cause them problems – sometimes rather serious problems.

ENTJs love to interact with people. As Extroverts, they’re energized and stimulated primarily externally. There’s nothing more enjoyable and satisfying to the ENTJ than having a lively, challenging conversation. They especially respect people who are able to stand up to the ENTJ, and argue persuasively for their point of view. There aren’t too many people who will do so, however, because the ENTJ is a very forceful and dynamic presence who has a tremendous amount of self-confidence and excellent verbal communication skills. Even the most confident individuals may experience moments of self-doubt when debating a point with an ENTJ.

ENTJs want their home to be beautiful, well-furnished, and efficiently run. They’re likely to place much emphasis on their children being well-educated and structured, to desire a congenial and devoted relationship with their spouse. At home, the ENTJ needs to be in charge as much as he or she does in their career. The ENTJ is likely best paired with someone who has a strong self-image, who is also a Thinking type. Because the ENTJ is primarily focused on their careers, some ENTJs have a problem with being constantly absent from home, physically or mentally.

The ENTJ has many gifts which make it possible for them to have a great deal of personal power, if they don’t forget to remain balanced in their lives. They are assertive, innovative, long-range thinkers with an excellent ability to translate theories and possibilities into solid plans of action. They are usually tremendously forceful personalities, and have the tools to accomplish whatever goals they set out for.

The PhD that will never be.

I’m not a quitter.  I have never really quit anything.  I’ve failed at stuff, plenty of stuff… biggest life failures include:  multiple failed IVF cycles, five horrid miscarriages, being made redundant etc., etc.  But I’ve rarely quit anything I put my mind to.  However, at the moment I am currently staring down the barrel of quitting my PhD… thanks to a whole shitfight of supervisory issues, and the rarity of specialists in my field at universities down the eastern seaboard (please… friends, don’t offer me well meaning and helpful, but ultimately useless, advice at this point – I have followed up a crap load of options, up to and including, international supervision, but to no avail).  It’s been very difficult to acknowledge that I’ve reached the end of the road and that a large part of what has brought me here, has been beyond my control.

I saw a post on Reddit from someone who had just withdrawn from their dissertation after 8 years of postgrad work, and they claimed that they were ‘overtaken by grief and shame’ – and I totally get that.  One user RedBugs offers solace and sound advice… and as it happens, it’s also right on target for anyone facing major setbacks.

“I have friends who’ve quit their PhDs at various points and, dude, they’re doing well in life, truly enjoying paths they’d never even thought of before leaving.

Academia can be a bit of a cult. All your advisors, department heads, etc. got there because they’re passionate about their subject and couldn’t imagine wanting to do anything else, and so threw enormous amounts of energy (and no small amount of luck) into getting where they are today. That’s great if it’s making them happy, but the downside is that as a student, everyone you look up to thinks that academia is the ultimate goal that everyone should strive for, and can’t think of leaving as anything other than failure. This manifests in obvious ways (e.g. in scientific fields, moving into industry is “selling out” or “joining he dark side”), but also in more subtle shifts in attitude when talking about other options.

Coupled with this is the fact that, as a grad student, you’ve always been really good at school. Being smart and good at your subject, and being able to say “I’m a [subject]ist!” is probably a major part of your identity, and a big source of self-respect. With so much of your identity tied up in your status as a grad student, it’s easy to think “I’m doing badly at school so I’m a worthless person”. This is NOT true. Sure, being a grad student has sucked up a lot of your attention, but it’s not the sum total of who you are. Your friends and family don’t love your ability to bash out an essay after three hours’ sleep, they love and respect you for who you are, and still will tomorrow.

There’s also a very real chance that this is the first big thing you’ve ever “failed” at, which makes it seem catastrophic and life-destroying. This is not true either. People miss life goals, have major setbacks, and experience soul-crushing failures all the time. But we pick ourselves up, dust off, and slowly a new path and a new goal appear. It’s possible that you don’t have the practice at that, at least not with stuff that feels this big. Don’t get me wrong, this would suck for anyone, and feeling bad is totally understandable. My point is that slowly, and with plenty of missteps along the way, you’re going to surprise yourself with your resilience.

All of which is to say: If you choose to leave academia, that’s OK. A PhD is a means to an end, not a way of life or the core of your identity. Grief is a totally rational reaction to closing the doors on whatever career you’d imagined, and shame is a totally understandable response to leaving the cult of academia and putting a dent in your self-image. But those will heal. Hopefully you’ve met some great people and learned some great stuff. If it’s not for you, then that’s something you’ve learned too. Life is not over, just because you’ve quit a course.

Right now: Talk to someone you can rely on (family, close friends). You’re probably expecting them to be disappointed in you but, I promise you, their only concern will be that you’re OK. Get your support network in place, then book whatever time you can to just crash and get your head in order, including human contact (even if it’s just phone calls) so you don’t just spiral into deeper misery.

Finally, for now, get the contact info for your school’s mental health services and make an appointment. I guarantee that this sort of thing is completely normal to them, and they’ll have some great resources to help with all of this. Even if your changing status at the uni means that they can’t treat you, they’re the best people to recommend an external service for you to contact.

After all this: It really sounds like you can’t (couldn’t?) write due to stress, depression or whatever. Talk to the schoo’s mental health people about this, too. This is really common, and if you want then you might be able to change your “I quit” to a temporary withdrawal, spend some quality time with a shrink, and come back to attack your thesis with some shiny new coping mechanisms. Mental health issues amongst grad students are alarmingly common: your school knows this, and will have procedures in place to help you deal.  It’s totally OK to just walk away and try a new path, if that’s what you want. It’s probably still possible to get help, take a break and then re-attack your thesis, if that‘s what you want. Either way: what you’re feeling now sucks, is totally valid, and will fade with time.”

Some of this applies to me and some of it, not so much.  Either way though, it’s definitely time to look for a new path.