Saturday, January 31

Automotive LPG (Lousy People Griller)

This weeks safety tip - If you own or even know someone who owns a car with an LPG fuel system, follow the safety directions and have it serviced now and then.

Earlier this week two men received serious burns when their Holden HR sedan exploded in flames not long after being refuelled with LPG. As far as I know, one of the men ended up in the intensive care unit with life threatening burns.

It appears the explosion was caused when a cigarette ignited built up gas that had entered the passenger area. The car was moving at the time and the occupants were forced to scramble from the fire.

The flaming occupants ran to a nearby front yard for help as the fire engulfed vehicle rolled down the road and in to the path of oncoming traffic before coming to rest on the other footpath.

News footage indicated that amongst other things, the cover was missing from the enclosure that houses the pressure and shutoff valves. If there was a failure of the LPG system, the enclosure is supposed to be sealed so as to vent externally rather than filling the vehicle with fuel.

Assuming the car belonged to one of the occupants, it is sad to see how either lack of knowledge or ignorance can marry with bad luck to create such dire consequences. The truth is that if we cant make our own luck we can at least improve the odds.

How could this be prevented from happening again?
1.Have the government create a campaign to add to the already saturated stream of information and advertising being pumped down the throats of the all to numb public?
2.Increase the inherent safety standards of LPG systems and therefore increasing costs?
3.Targeted inspections of older vehicles at service stations, if at all lawful?
4.Compulsory roadworthiness inspections for every vehicle at the owners cost?
Or is the situation acceptable in the bigger scale of things?

This weeks pearl

"How do you convince people that surliness is just a natural manifestation of poor attitude, not chemical dependency?"

Anon, 2004

Work sheds

Al B also has a bit to say about the right of passage for every male homeowner.

A Work shed? Well, let's call it a ten year goal - but Jeez, I tell you what. In my mind that sucker's going to have a heater, bar fridge, pool table, dart board, lounge chairs and television. Of course, in reality, it will just house more of Mrs B’s irreplaceable treasures that shall surely accumulate like landfill in a pristine valley whilst my precious workspace becomes a fond memory.

Monday, January 19

Newbie, Week 3

There are two significant things I learnt today:

Lesson One
Just because work is only 30 minutes away doesn’t mean leaving at 8.30 will result in a timely arrival for 9 o’clock.

Lesson Two
Drinking homemade espresso coffee all weekend makes training room coffee taste truly awful.

Sunday, January 18

The weekend’s pearl o’ wisdom

Following the instructions that come with the machine that has been misused for the last 8 years, actually results in a very tasty drink of coffee.

Thursday, January 15

Newbie, Week 2

I have managed to keep most of my bad habits at bay now for nearly two weeks. Unfortunately some cracks are appearing and beneath the smooth veneer and the same ol’ seasoned public servant is beginning to show. I caught myself preaching the merits of my favourite personal mantra “I strive for adequate” to a colleague. Damn!

Bon appetite

The favoured drug of dependency in this household can be purchased in its fresh form for less than $30 a kilo from the local supermarket. What’s more, there are four appliances in the kitchen cupboard to assist in its preparation, including a burnt orange version one of these which is one of the Grinder's most prized possessions.

Thursday, January 8

Newbie, Day 4

As luck would have it, I have caught a sniveling cold. This making the time spent confined to the training room less pleasant than the norm. I have had to focus my efforts on stifling sneezes and discretely mopping my dripping nose. Oh well, it beats catching the chickenpox like I did when I started a previous job.

The training is getting more interesting now and is making the day pass more quickly. Today I think we put in about six hours. I'm enjoying the 9 o'clock starts. Leaving home at a leisurely pace after 8. Often home before 5. If there's going to be one thing about training that I'll miss when it winds up, this is it.

You know how there's usually one in every group, wherever you go. Amongst the recruits there are two. I suppose when you put 30 people in a room its more likely. Both consider themselves especially knowledgeable, only they don’t seem to know the bit about keeping one’s own trap shut. But hey, better them than me.

The goodies are starting to pour in; phone, equipment, cars on order etc etc. True to form, all I am thinking is ‘They don't give you this for nuthin, and it wont belong until I’m bearing a grudge about carrying a phone and all this safety equipment around. They even issue a map compass!'
I am considering putting the bite me bear in the rear parcel shelf of my new acclaim when it arrives. I wish I could come up with as many good ideas as I do dumb ones.

Tuesday, January 6

Day Two

Today I achieved the following;
Arrived at work
Got a user ID and logged on to the network
Did the 'get to know you' thing with where we interview and relay to the group what we know about the person next to us.
Had a 90 minute lunch break until 1:30
Watched a demo of some web pages that we can't use yet
Went home.

Monday, January 5

Diary of a Newbie, Day One

- A training room filled with around thirty other gunna-be’s wearing nametags.
- A couple of blokes new to the public service with tongues firmly in cheek asking themselves how they’ll cope putting in a 37.5 hour week.
- Knocking off at 3PM - Definitely the honeymoon stage of the job.

Steve Irwin confirmed as fool.

Known as the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin copped scathing criticism for putting his infant son at risk in a public stunt involving a crocodile.

Standard PR form would be to apologise for the grief he caused, admit that it was an error of judgement (even though he believed the risk was minimal), and promise not to do it again. Simple.

Instead of eating a little humble pie, he completely stuffed his chances on tonight’s Current Affair. He refused to fully apologise saying he was only sorry that it had occurred and implied it was the media’s fault.
[This may be true, but it is foolish to try and do anything about it]
He also indicated that he would continue the practice, just not in public.
[Hardly a satisfactory solution from the public view, it shows he doesn’t believes he’s wrong and will secretly put the child at the ‘perceived’ risk]
He argued that the public perception is wrong, but didn’t substantiate it with anything.
[Maybe, but telling the public they are wrong wont help either]

The press didn’t like his attitude and honed in on his cavalier attitude to PR. Additional footage and expertise shows a number of additional staff acting as spotters, and that the infant was outside of the immediate rage of the croc. This was not omitted by accident.

Sunday, January 4

Some things to strive for in 2004

- Composing web logs without being distracted or having to snarl at family members.
- A better vegetable garden.
- Completing more of 2003’s projects than starting new 2004 projects.
- Clean out the Tupperware cupboard
- Fix the dodgy television reception by removing the homemade booster and trying a bought one.


Looking back through yesteryear’s grindings has given a sense of accomplishment to this surly suburbanite. My personal milestones include:
- GrinderCom. Taking the time to learn and build a web presence, never mind composing something bordering on intelligent to put on it.
- Offloading the ol’ corolla for a less-old pulsar.
- A new job. Winning a promotion in another department, with no thanks to working two years as an IT project officer with no extra pay.
- Being presented with a characterised teddy bear from my colleagues at my work farewell with the words ‘Bite me’ written across the front.

2003 has also seen some real developments for mankind

- Dolphin Rangers
- Water restrictions
- GrinderCom
- Rutt Magazine
- A 32% summer premium on electricity in SA (already the dearest in the nation)

Saturday, January 3

Diary of a newbie

Beginning in a new workplace brings new opportunities. Opportunities to start afresh amongst people who don’t know my background, connections, and opinions.

Some new rules of play for this black duck:
PC humour only.
No negative criticism.
Head down and go with the flow.
Make friends.
Listen and learn.

Let’s just see how long it lasts.

Productivity report

Too hot to do anything useful outside. At least that’s my excuse. Time to clean out the wardrobe of ‘it will be okay when I lose weight’ and ‘there might be an occasion for this’ apparel.

The rest of the day was occupied scrubbing the bathroom floor with regular intermissions for the preparation of food, feeding of children, and clearing and washing of dishes. Not overlooking the standby roles of mediator, entertainer, encyclopaedia, and nurse.

Tomorrow’s goals are to clean the cars, tend the garden, and resuscitate two lawnmowers. Ah, and brood over starting the new job on Monday.

Friday, January 2

A good day for shopping.

The Christmas and post-Christmas sales crowds have ebbed, and so the goal of acquiring some business shirts for the new job next week turned out to be a relatively sane proposition.

Thursday, January 1

New year 2004

With no need to demonstrate how much fun it is to stay up until midnight and to stand around and watching fireworks amongst the masses, this family had lights out by 10 o’clock, looking forward to a casual day of visitors and an all-day barbecue in the backyard.

As appointed nightwatchman (AKA the lightest sleeper), I was woken at precisely midnight by the first explosion from a nearby home fireworks display. Thanks to an industrious chap with a van selling contraband of the pyrotechnic variety, there has been a proliferation of illegal fireworks in the southern suburbs. So much so, that one observer with panoramic views of the city and suburbs commented how more noise and light was coming from the south than the official gatherings at Glenelg and Adelaide.

I rolled out of bed and stumbled outside to checkout the display from the backyard only to find my eyes too full of sleep to focus, walked back through a spider web, did the spider dance, and went back to bed. Thankfully I wasn’t awake enough to accompany the dance routine with the usual uncontrollable yelp.

At the more civil hour of 8 o’clock, the family was up and preparing to have the first barbecued meal starting with fried eggs and bacon, and pikelets.

Friends and neighbours trickled in and out all day. The barbecue never had a chance to cool down and the six by four ‘bar fridge’ looked after the drinks. The definite highlight was being let loose in Mike’s Lotus that he’d had the good mind to bring around. There aren’t quite the same opportunities around here to really open it up as the highways from Sydney, but jabbing the pedal and getting a quick serve of 160 km/h brought back fond memories of what the car can really do.