Tuesday, 22 January 2008

people suck

This post is going to be a bit of a rant, but sometimes people are just irritating. One of my colleagues is leaving at the end of the week, after working with us for a year he is going back home to Israel. He's a lovely guy and has been very helpful. So, as his farwell do he organised a beach volleyball game. I realised today that none of his supervisors etc had bothered to organise a gift let alone a card so thought I better at least do that. I'm not much into volleyball, but that doesnt matter, spectating and sitting around for a chat and snacks was also part of the deal. The beach volleyball court is a 2 minute walk from our offices, but do you think any of the supervisors or the people who actually worked with him bothered to turn up (except me of course, oh and other people who know him but didnt directly work with him). 'I'll try and come by' said his main supervisor/work colleague when he came by to sign the card (and didnt even thank me for organising it). 'Try', pah! how hard is it to spare half an hour to say goodbye to someone you've worked with and may well not see again. Perhaps I put undue value on social gatherings and in particular farewells, but I find this kind of self-absorbed, my-work-is-more-important-than-people, indifferent attitude so annoying. Surely social occasions and interactions with people are part of what makes work fun, interesting and more productive particularly for groups - you know team-building and all that. On top of which I just thinks it shows a huge lack of respect and is even kinda mean when you cant be bothered to make a small, tiny effort to say goodbye .

Friday, 18 January 2008

PM

Last night I had dinner with the Prime Minister. OK slight exaggeration, but he did come by our table as we ate at an inner city restaurant last night. I must say I quite like that I live in a place where the Prime Minister can easily walk down the street without creating much of a fuss. People noticed of course, but aside from one guy calling out 'Ruddy!' (his name is Kevin Rudd for those who aren't up with Australian politics, and lets face it, why would you be unless you lived here) to which he replied 'yeah, G'day mate', nothing happened. He carried on into Borders bookstore, presumably to do some shopping.

charity

I'm a pretty charitable person I think. I regularly give money to good causes, do volunteer work (OK it has been a while), am mostly kind. But, like everyone, I have my limits and I'm afraid it seems I draw the line at phone calls to my home when I'm watching a TV show I want to see and chopping tomates (for dinner). To be honest I appear to have developed a low tolerance for phone calls outside of work hours usually with the exception of family and friends although I do find myself sometimes sensing that my mother will be on the other end and not wanting to pick-up. Those conversations can just be so long and so much about people who I haven't the foggiest who they are. Anyway, I was a bit irritated the other night when I had to get up from the TV, wash the tomato off my hands and run around to the phone only to be greeted with one of those long-winded opening monologues which are so hard to interrupt and are always just long-hand for 'give us your money'. Unfortunately when I finally got the chance to get a word in and politely declined to give money mentioning that we already give to a rather similar charity (although admittedly thats not our choice but apparently just part of the privilege of having our electricity supplied by a particular company, which is probably why he didnt sound very impressed) I made the stupid mistake of mentioning that our phone number is listed on the national 'do not call' list (which is supposed to prevent telelmarketers calling you at home) and as such I dont appreciate being called at home. If only I hadnt said that, I could have watched the last few minutes of my TV show in peace. But no, now he had to make me feel guilty, charities are exempt to the do not call list you see and normal people dont mind being called because normal nice people like to help out such worthy causes and do their bit, and generally but oh so nicely implying I was an uncharitable cow. sigh. and it wasnt even that worthy of a cause anyway.

mobile

Whilst commenting on a friends blog I was reminded of how people's obsession with mobile communication can really irk me. Dont get me wrong I certainly appreciate the wonders of being able to so easily keep in touch with most people I know from a whole myriad of places I'm at or may potentially go to. However, I do find very annoying the general expectation that I should be able to be contacted wherever I am, whatever I am doing and also reply to that contact immediately. I guess I want the whole mobile communication to be a kind of one-way street. However that rant is all a bit old hat, and what I was really reminded of was a particular 'friend' of mine (not the one with the blog, she doesn't require inverted commas on her friend status) who is apparently addicted to communication. Everyone now and again I have lunch with her and another friend. Every single time she spends about 2/3 of the time texting or talking on her phone with other people. I would really have to wonder why she bothers to have lunch with people except that each time she also suddenly ran out of either credit or battery power when she really, really had to make a call and would be oh so grateful to be able to use my friends phone. Also I'm not sure she could handle sitting on her own at lunch, people might think she had no mates when clearly thats not the case!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

laid back

When I moved to Queensland I thought people were pretty laid back up here, true I had just moved from Switzerland so my perception was skewed, but still its fair enough to say Queenslanders generally take life easy. However on our recent outback trip we arrived in a town (pub) where the publican informed us "we're pretty laid back around 'ere" and subsequently redefined the term. The room we stayed in had a door, but it didn't shut, which might not have been a big deal except that some 200 people descended on the pub to ring in the new year (with air guitar and karaoke, amongst other things). The BBQ and seating area was littered with bones which turned out to be kangaroo bones since one of them still had the claws and some skin attached, which made you wonder how they got there, but not for too long. The showers were in a couple of sheds 100m or so across the hot prickle-ridden yard, and although the publican told us not too worry too much about the male and female designations I was still a bit surprised to come across the naked publican's husband in the womens shower. There might be other words for it than laid back, but there's no denying these people were friendly and welcoming and the night was a blast including a pretty impressive fireworks display considering, and drinking and singing until well beyond dawn.

procrastinating, again

procrastination is King around here at the moment. Or perhaps its always ruler of me. In any case I'm trying to beat it, really I am (as is clearly shown by my blogging during work hours, sigh), but its just so damn difficult. Deadlines, thats what I need. See unless I have a proper deadline - not one of those namby-pamby deadlines which the not meeting of has no direct consequence and can be easily pushed back, but a hard and fast DEADline with genuine consequences, even if its only the ire of my boss (although he's not a man much taken to ire) -nothing gets done, I need the pressure to motivate me. Its a bit of a problem in my line of work which is largely self-driven research. So I try and set up the deadline myself. I announced to my boss that I will have such and such to him by the end of the day, and since I'm one for delivering what I promise on time, this should work. but then he says he wont be able to look at it until early next week, so no need to hurry. OK so I'll get it to him by end of Friday I say, but as we all know the end of Friday is the same as the start of Monday, and as such nothing has gotten done today, sigh.

expectations

when planning a trip somewhere I often think it might be better just to go, without planning much and work it all out when you get there, discover things as you go, that way you might get a better feel for the essence of a place without preconceived ideas and expectations based on other people's experiences, written up in guidebook or tourist information parlance for the masses. However, with so much information at my fingertips courtesy of the worldwide web I cant help but take advantage and look up all I can before venturing out somewhere. I'd hate to go all the way somewhere and back and talk with friends about it only to discover I'd missed something fascinating only because I hadn't known it was there. Besides, I was afterall a student of the Baden Powell school of thought, be prepared and all that. So, before our recent trip into the NSW outback I googled, travel forumed and lonely planeted all I could. This of course meant I had plenty of expectations on what 'it' would be like. In my experience the pictures you get from tourist brochures, guidebooks etc are rarely anything like what you really get when you go somewhere. Often its much better than the guide, usually just different and sometimes a disappointment, which is why you should never put too much stock in those things. But sometimes it exactly as the tourism board presented it. When thinking about our trip I decided I wanted to visit a town (OK a pub) 150 or more ks from the middle of nowhere down a partially flooded dirt road on the strength of this advertising photo and the description that went with it. and we werent disappointed. when we walked into the pub we felt like we'd stepped into the brochure. The very same guy with the same hat and mustache sat on the very same chair, and in addition there was a rather well groomed sheep eating peanuts in the bar. The publican, who came across as somewhat lukewarm at first, and his family were great people. The kind of straight, take us as we are, genuine people you dont meet too often in the city. They invited us to their family birthday celebration BBQ for dinner, we learnt about the price of sheep shearing, the family's Norwegian heritage and enjoyed plenty of cold beers as revival from the hot hot outside air.
if you're ever out that way I can recommend a stop at the Tilpa pub.