Friday, April 29, 2005

It was so much fun working for the Government

I mentioned a word that got me thinking. TEAMBUILDING.

It's gone out of fashion now and we are back to every man for himself but it was THE training choice for a while.

And I was mulling this over and I can honestly say

I loved working for the Government in the 90s.

That is probably a bit insensitive as many people found it a very threatening time - but it was great!

First there was all this training. And training could involve so much drinking that some people were too sick the next day to get more training. And there is nothing like watching your previously superior workmates get all messy and uncouth. so good! Often I laughed so much I cried. Sometimes I laughed till I cried about things that weren't even funny.

And I learnt to be Culturally Sensitive. See I never realised that it wasn't enough to not care what colour or religion or whatever people were, you have to be sensitive to these differences as well. So I took that on board. And I am grateful I learned that, even if there are some gaps in the training - I learnt cultural sensitivity towards all things Maori but never got the equivilent training in Chinese or French for instance. Still it was a start.

Then there was the teambuilding. Now quite early in the piece I realised that teambuilding was actually invented by trainers so they could have a great laugh at the expense of some poor (hungover) bastards that had been sent on a training course. They invented games like blindfolding everyone, telling them a number and then expecting them to line up in order without speaking to each other. Now stumbling round blind until you walk into someone who then thumps you three times is probably really funny if you are standing back watching but is not at all amusing when you are number 10 looking for 9 and 11 to stand between. Trust me I've tried it. And I didn't feel part of number 3s team at all... Then there was the catching people when they let themselves fall, and being led round an obstacle course blindfolded and in a line. Really lucky departments got to try rockclimbing and white water rafting and bungy jumping. WINZ staff got to try a private plane (that would have been a bonding experience)

Anyway it was all over when the restructuring came - cos the first to go were the trainers.

I survived three or four restructurings. It was honestly a whole heap of fun (serious). I know some people found the whole thing threatening but the redundancy payouts were big enough to be similar to a small lotto win so what the hell - either way you won. And I do have some sympathy for people round me who lost sleep over it, but I never did. It was just so crazy it was great.

First they would announce they were restructuring and X many people were to go. Then the Union would bowl in, promise not to take this lying down, and vanish again until the next restructuring. After that there would be some Counsellor employed, usually some dizzy female who would wander round one day a week stroking everyones egos and telling them it would be really good for them in the long run if they were redundant. After a bit she would realise some people weren't actually on any hit list and would ignore them, even if they wanted to talk about something (which would have been a foolish move anyway if you were looking for good advice - but I will keep my opinion on counselling until some later date)

Eventually they would devise some sort of test or interview and make a decision about who could stay and who could go. Usually the decision seemed to make no particular sense, the person who had been taking it easy for years got to stay and the efficient person got to go. Possibly they just drew names out of a hat and all the testing and stress was just for fun.

Some of the time they asked if anyone would like voluntary redundancy. Then they refused to give it to them. (probably in the hope that they intended to leave anyway so would resign and save the redundancy payout)

Someone who got made redundant in one of the early rounds ended up staying because someone else resigned. In the next round they applied for voluntary redundancy and were turned down as they were deemed essential.... amazing they could go from dispensible to indispensible in six months...

Someone who had a part time job scored a full time one while someone else had to go....

It made no sense whatsoever so you couldn't take it personally (not after all the counselling anyway)

Then there were heaps of leaving parties and more drunken debaucery and everything would settle down for a while until they decided it needed to be done again.

Sadly once there was only half as many staff there wasn't time to spend on training any more.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Just another day in the complaints department

Someone rang work the other day to complain. We still don't know who he was because he wouldn't say. He was most unimpressed with the level of service though.

First he spent 10 minutes berating the receptionist who was trying to find out who had upset him - eventually she identified the staff member responsible when he told her what type of car he drove, so that was a start. So she put the call through to me.

He started with "I didn't know there were women doing your job"
There's a dozen or so answers to that "no you are right - I've just checked and I'm a bloke really" or "yeah was a bit of an experiment giving me so much power, not sure how it is working out" or "I got the job before the sex change" and similar. Anyway I was in soothe mode so I said "Oh there's a few of us"

So he started on the complaint
"that guy is a bastard" (well I can't check the parentage of all staff, but I'm sure this one said his parents were married.... hmmm)
"he's a real wanker" (eeewwww not in work time surely, we have got problems)
"absolutely incompetent, never seen anyone as incompetent" (darn, training isn't working)
"should be fired" (hell no, I'd have to do some work then!)

After a bit more of this I asked him if he'd give me his name so I could investigate further. "I'm not letting you snoop into my affairs" (like I want to)
So I say "okay what is the problem then - in general terms"
"Well obviously his qualifications aren't worth the paper they are written on" (ohhh that's a hefty accusation but we can probably overlook it since you probably don't know what the said qualifications actually are)
"and he just smarms around the place like he owns it, very full of himself, all friendly and pretending he's got every right to come knocking on my door." (my God it's worse than I thought, I'm really not sure how I am going to handle this) try more soothe - "was it really that bad that he knocked on you door Mr.... (pause but no name supplied) I mean he only wanted to ask you a couple of questions I would imagine, he's not selling anything."
"It's an invasion of my privacy" (oh okay, sorry, didn't realise)
"you should know that" (umm, right I'm learning)
So try more soothe "You know most people don't mind,"
"Well they should, before you know it everyone will know everything about you." (very real and serious danger I have to admit, I'm glad he alerted me to this I hadn't realised)
"You wouldn't like it." "Well actually I wouldn't care at all."
"You're just a typical bloody woman, too stupid to know what's going on." (right 1. don't call all women stupid and 2. don't call me typical) "there is no need to be abusive thank you."

So I was abruptly hung up on.

I had made some notes:
invasion of privacy

Still not sure who he was but I think I got his description.

Memo to all staff
We will no longer be tolerating illegitimacy, wanking, or incompetence in this office. Please make sure it doesn't happen again.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Right so I am a nutter and here is my opinion

It started with a seemingly casual discussion at work, “why” asked someone “isn’t there fluoride in the local water?” At the same time as I said “because it’s a stupid idea” someone else said “because the nutters make too much of a fuss about it”. Interesting discussion followed – after I’d acknowledged and adopted the nutter tag. I work with a highly intelligent, well educated man who feels the GE is fine, fluoride in the water is fine and everyone should line up and get immunized for anything the Health Department (or whatever they call themselves these days) says you should be immunized for. I don’t get it…. (so perhaps it’s just me).

Fluoride: I mean to say… there are studies that indicate that fluoride intake can in susceptible individuals cause brittle bones, kidney problems, limit the uptake of other nutrients and possibly cause cancer. Other studies indicate that with or without fluoride the level of tooth decay is
reducing in most developed countries. So whether you believe in it or not… Why the hell would you want to forcibly medicate the whole population???? (especially as there is enough in toothpaste) Apart from anything else it’s such a hugely wasteful and inaccurate method of delivery.

Similarly he feels it is not great loss if every crop in the world is GE contaminated….

And that non immunized children shouldn’t be allowed in school or preschool (I pointed out that if immunization was so wonderful the only kids at risk were the non immunized ones). Don’t get me wrong here my kids were (more or less) immunized, just not necessarily as recommended (and I drove my GP mad asking about side effects and contra indications and demanding a scratchtest for one).

I thoroughly dislike having no freedom of choice… I don’t understand why other people would feel that is okay.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


The addition to the deck was finished on Thursday. It is rather large. Even with the spa on it there is room to have a party. Now my task is to clean down and re-oil the outdoor furniture, husband has to put up a shade sail, I'll drag some potplants round in due course (after we've stained the deck which can't happen for a few weeks because the wood is still wet) and it should look just like home. Posted by Hello

He's gonna have to learn to look both ways first

Herbie our mighty burmese hunter probably wishes he hadn't bothered getting up on Thursday. We wish he hadn't bothered, (and so does the bank account). Thursday night he struggled home with only his front legs working and well covered in blood. It appears he's been hit by a car, which probably isn't surprising since he has always considered the road is his own and the land across the road his too. He was luckier than he could have been, having a dislocated hip, a broken bone in the other hind leg, multiple bits of skin missing and some unidentified internal injuries that do not appear to be life threatening. He came home from the vets today and is going to have to spend three weeks in a cage while the hip heals and another month or two inside.

Eight lives left.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Twas International health and fitness week or some such

last week - apologies if I got the title wrong I wasn't paying that much attention....

Work got quite excited about this and told us all to do 3 hours worth of health and fitness things on work time. Which was all very generous. (But you wonder if anyone will be eligible for stress leave until further notice cos they told you to get some exercise and learn to relax)

The point I was coming to is they sent us all Pedometers. They sent us healthy snacks too, and instructions on how to quit smoking, meditate. and get more exercise (you know the walk to work bit... and take the stairs bit - theres's two steps in our office so we all take them always - and the walk a bustop or two bit...) But NZ Post misplaced our parcel till Friday morning. This meant that we missed out on the competition to count our steps and be the most active office. (sooooo disappointed - and if I hadn't been limping I would have been a contender *grin*)

Some woman somewhere in the company averages 22000 steps a day. I suggest her manager reviews her performance immediately cos she can't be doing much work when she's walking round all day!

Now this darn thing is ruling my life. I've calibrated it carefully, and I've spent all weekend worrying about getting to 10000 steps. Can get in a couple of thousand or so with a walk round the town at lunchtime, it is 300 metres to the end of our property which is 500 steps for me give or take so I need to do that a few times.... I have notified the IT department that there are insufficient steps between my desk and the printer and that I want this rectified ASAP.

Right now I am SO annoyed. I came home and got changed and buggered off down the paddocks to do various things and I forgot to put that darn pedometer back on, and I walked up and down for at least half an hour.... all those uncounted steps.

(I'm guessing it's at least 6000 because that's how many I'm short for today)

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Just testing using Picasa Hello for loading photos. In theory this should save a step (loading into Photobucket) when adding photos to the blog. worked quite well actually.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Sent running for the dictionary

As fast as my ankle will let me.

Browsing - as I do - and the Morphess has remorphed - check it out here if you haven't already.... Was checking out the links (love My boyfriend is a twat, just as well the chair has arms or I'd have fallen off it laughing) and found Caroline has this clever little comment thing that comes up when you put your mouse over the link (way cool). Gratified enough just to be there in the list but the comment is Erudite and Honest. Who me! Had to check that erudite means what I thought it meant, which it does (phew, just as well since with a label like that I will have to try harder to live up to it.)

Left with this warm glow - feel very special.

Thank you Caroline

Thursday, April 07, 2005

My husband is hyperactive

or something. He always has been from what I've heard - I guess they missed the diagnosis when he was small. He probably doesn't need Ritalin since he has no trouble concentrating on one thing for long lengths of time..... though I must say an ad break on the tele is enough to make him very fidgetty - disruptive even...

I thought I would mention this as he is currently outside in the dark rebuilding a horsetruck. It worked fine the way it was but he feels the need to improve it.

Most of the time the end results of this inability to sit still are great, things get done round our place (sometimes before I am quite ready for them to be done) though some years ago in the middle of winter he ripped off the wall linings in the bathroom, found the roof leaked in some obscure place and left the wall linings off for six weeks while he fully investigated and fixed the leak - ever tried having a shower in a room where the temperature is probably round 1 degree celsius? (If not I don't recommend it).

I guess it keeps him off the streets.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A minor gripe

Reasonably frequently someone pays me reasonably good money to give them the benefit of my accumulated wisdom - and some research - in my chosen field of expertise.

What gets me is that about 50% of the time they say "thanks very much that is good advice" and go and do the exact opposite of what I recommended because they knew what they wanted to do all along.... usually they don't seek any further advice from anyone else, sometimes they get someone else to also tell them pretty much what I told them before they go and do the opposite.

I know I shouldn't let this bug me - after all I get paid and it isn't my fault if they make the wrong decision - in fact I'm probably better off when they don't do what I recommend, I can't be held accountable when it goes wrong - but it does irritate me a little at times.

I just wonder what the point is....

Monday, April 04, 2005

Old enough to know better

I'm broken today. Horse and I parted company yesterday afternoon and now one ankle won't work properly (a severe strain they tell me)

Now I knew before I got on him that he was full of autumn grass and jumpy so at my age you'd have thought I would have learnt to give it a miss. Nope not me. So we had a disagreement about which way we were going and he went his way and I went mine, so we both got what we wanted, or something....

I got back on him and spent 15 minutes making sure his steering worked, then groomed him, fed him and turned him out before I realised my ankle was complaining really loudly, in fact felt like it might fall apart if I took my boot off..... hobbling round today VERY slowly.

I used to be able to fall off twice a day and not hurt myself at all. Guess I had better develop some user discretion - and remember that you bounce a lot better as a child and teenager...

Friday, April 01, 2005

Is it a sign of old age

To recount childhood memories?

When I was young (about 8) my parents had a dairy/grocery shop - actually they had two over a few years - in Auckland. In those days supermarkets hadn't arrived properly and there was money in the corner dairy thing. Anyway every Friday Mum used to drive out to Albany and buy eggs (large amounts of eggs actually) for the shop. In the school holidays she had to take all three of us kids to stop us bugging the hell out of Dad while he ran the shop. It seemed to take hours.... actually sometimes it did take hours since the mode of transport was a Thames van of 1950s vintage called Gertie. Gertie was interesting since she only had two seats and a slippery steel floor in the back. We'd take a blanket each and slide all over the back of the van at every corner. Amazingly I don't recall anyone ever hurting themselves while undertaking this mode of travel - apart from your bum getting sore. The other thing Gertie did was overheat and drop all the water out of the radiator onto the road in an almighty rush. So you had to stop, let her cool down and refill her. We always had to share the back with several bottles of water - which were in a cardboard box that also slid on the corners. For some reason my parents had this van for years and only fixed the radiator just before they sold it.

Anyway we'd slide our way out to Albany, with a stop or not depending on Gertie's mood and the ambient air temperature, and it was country out there. There were paddocks, and cows and sheep and a gravel road to the poultry farm. And we'd all pile out and go and look at the battery hens while Mum bought 60 dozen eggs or so. Self centred little savages that we were it never occured to us that a hen might not like being in a cage she could hardly turn round in, it was just the way it was. Then with some wooden crates of eggs sharing the back with us we'd slide our way round the back of the van back into suburbia.

I went to Albany today. I've been past in the meantime but haven't actually taken the turnoff and gone to have a look. It was only about 10 minutes up the motorway from the city. And it was covered in factories, not a cow in sight. Strange - that wasn't how I remembered it at all.....