Tuesday, August 31

Communications review

It would appear that ADSL has crawled its way to the remote precinct of the Grinder’s special workshop.

Now might be a good time for a package deal; a mobile phone, a GSM network, discount local and interstate calls?

Recommended Dietary Intake:
  • <200>
  • ~ $10 GSM talk & text/mth
  • Capped interstate calls
  • Nokia 3120
Intolerance:
  • Poor GSM coverage (ie virgin mobile)
Dislikes:
  • Long & inflexible contracts
  • Customer service dick-around
Any passers-by who’d like to proffer some expertise are most welcome to deposit such wisdom in the comments link below.

Monday, August 30

More mobile convenience

After canceling the phone contract, 'B' cut off Mrs G's mobile from her default provider tonight at about 7.50PM. A call to the 'Help' line has revealed that operators only operate until 8PM!

Sunday, August 29

Newbie

A new blog on 'the bathroom stall that is the Internet'. Keep an eye on Thousand Sons.

Faster, higher, stronger

This will probably be the only Olympics reference you'll find on this blog.

"Harder, deeper, longer" is the Greek Playboy Magazine spin on the Olympics.

I'd like to see what they do with the Olympic Rings (or maybe not)
And then there's Opening Ceremony?

Election hot air may be put to good use

Engine that 'runs on air'
AN Australian inventor claims to have made the world's first commercially-viable motor vehicle powered by compressed air.

Reality check - HTF do you compress the air in the first place?

Love tip (for Kiwis)

Nervous sheep calmed by 'loved ones'
August 27, 2004

BRITISH scientists have found a seemingly unlikely way to soothe anxious sheep - by showing them photographs of other sheep.

Priorities

Recently there was a bit of noise about the burden on US correctional facilities. With news like this, its hardly surprising

Man gaoled for watching porn in car
From correspondents in Schenectady, New York 9aug04

A MAN who was watching a pornographic movie in his car as police pulled up behind him has been sentenced to three weekends in a US jail.


Andre Gainey, 35, was arrested in February after police said images from the movie could be seen from outside his Mercedes as he drove through the Schenectady, near Albany, New York. Police, who pulled up behind Gainey at an intersection, said the movie was playing on screens set into the passenger-side sun visor and the car's headrests. Gainey had pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanour public display of sexual material.

Saturday, August 28

The convenience of mobile phones

Mrs G’s mobile took its last fall this week. Thankfully the two-year contract had lapsed, which Optus were happy to keep collecting the full premium on without notification.

And why is it that the constant stream of callers trying to sell phone services has dried up now that their product is actually needed?

So this morning the Grinder crew jumped into the runabout and went on a quest for a new phone and service contract.

My spotty-faced friend at the nearby Dick Smiths recognised me straight away as the guy who points, asks, and buys. True to form we got to the point with a couple of Nokia models and negotiated a fair price for a unit outright. As it happened, this price proved hard to beat. The real problem was finding a service that would welcome you without buying one of their own phones.

Resisting the urge to just hand over the card and get it all over and done with, we piled back in the car and dropped in on a local phone retailer adjacent to our regular supermarket. Behind the counter was a woman in her early twenties clicking about with the PC. The time to acknowledge us was little long, but maybe she was just checking out one of Jericho’s hot pictures that rate so well with the chicks. When she did look up, I immediately thought with a face like that she’d need to have a nice personality.

We asked about bringing our own phone to a new plan and were pooh-poohed for suggesting the idea.
‘We only sell plans with phones’.
‘We’re interested in a Nokia 3120, and hold a completed contract with Optus, what can you do?’ was our (we’re here anyway & open minded) response.

Belinda (I think it’s Hebrew for ‘back end of a bus’), returned with a few glossies and a handful of options worth considering. To sum it up; $11 a month for the same phone or $22 a month with $22 of free calls. Over two years the phone was ours for about the same as buying it upfront. This way we’d still be with Optus and get to keep the same number.

Belinda also made it clear that a credit card, medicare card and drivers licence would be required to sign up. I quelled the voices within before they had a chance to question how relevant it was to sight a drivers licence or medicare card (with all the family names on it), or what a driving qualifications had to do with buying a phone. Or that the use of a licence other than presentation to police officers was not authorised under the Motor Vehicle Act.

She then thought it worthy to explain repeatedly how the payments are flexible and she should know because she’s ‘always maxing out her credit card’. It was soon apparent this young lady didn’t manage her finances very well and thought we were akin to her in some way. This was poor form, not relevant and getting annoying.

It also became apparent that Belinda, the scrubber that she was, also had a cold. I’m not sure if it was the constant sniffing or the smearing of her nose against the back of her hand that first alerted me.

We thanked her and headed back to the Grinder workshop for lunch and some time to research the deals on the web. After a couple of hours and about six gig of downloads we thought the $11 deal offered by Belinda was as good as we’d get. The same deal was available online, but the idea of supporting a local retailer and not relying on postal delivery was most appealing.

Back at the shop, another woman who seemed to meet the same selection criteria as her colleague was assisting Belinda. I think her name was Sandy. Now, I always try to continue a sale with the person who has already invested the time helping me out, so greeted Belinda and told her Mrs G would like to sign up for an $11 plan with a 3120 phone.
Without the slightest courtesy, Sandy interrupted and said, “You cant have that. We only do the $22 plan. You might be able to get that on the net but you have to get the $22 plan to get any customer service”.
Hmm, okay. Based on that remark I was beginning to have my doubts about the quality of customer service anyway.

I shrugged my shoulders and said that it was the $11 plan that best suited our needs and if that’s the case so be it and turned to go, no point arguing. I was told to ‘Hang on’ and a phone call was quickly made in earshot.
“We don’t do the $11 deal for 3120’s do we… oh, okay we can.” And hung up, “Yeah we’ll do it,” without an apology, “are you porting?”
“Porting?” I ask. Am I supposed to know what this means?
“Are you bringing a number over?” snaps Sandy.

And so the barrage of questions began. Never have I seen such scrutiny. Belinda took charge with the paperwork, recording Mrs G’s every personal detail while she sniffed and smeared. Are you married?
How long?
How long have you been at this address?
Do you have a job?
Are you full time?
If not, what are you?
How many hours?
Your job title?
Who is your employer and how long for?
Who can I contact to verify this with?
Who was your previous employer?
Etc

To avoid another dental bill from grinding away so much tooth enamel, I stepped back and took charge of the kids who were understandably starting to get ratty.

When every private detail had been extracted, a phone call was made to some mysterious entity that is empowered to authorise such an enormous transaction. Somehow it escapes consideration that the duly signed credit card this will be debited from is good for a sum many times what the phone and its account will ever be worth.

And then the hitch.
“Oh, you’re casual. Can we contact your employer to verify your hours?”
Simmering I thought to myself “Yeah Good luck on a Saturday afternoon! And what exactly is the point if Mrs G is casual, her wage can vary from one week to the next. Casual by definition means her employment isn’t guaranteed.”
“Do you have a pay slip or account that shows your pay going in?”
The urge to (try and) quote Samuel L Jackson with “Well why didn’t you just say so and I’ll pull one out of my ass.” Was very tempting.

We walked out and back to the car. Grindling #2 asking why the car wheels were making a squeaky noise, and Mrs G clutched herself to her chair almost in tears.

Third time lucky we walked in to the shop. Mrs G handed in her last piece of dignity to the fat, ugly and unfriendly staff and submitted herself to another fifteen minutes of insensitive scrutiny.

The phone and account should be ready early next week. Give me an HTML interface any day, and the local ‘B’ dealer can shove their customer service.

Friday, August 27

Striving for Adequate

In case readers hadn’t figured, the Grinder lives off the public teat. Yes that’s right in the public circus/pubic cervix. Please don’t hold this against me.

Anyway, I’ve seen more incompetence than my employer would like me to disclose.

The frustration, the angst, the waste of time trying to get anything done. Several times throwing in the towel was a very real option. Finally, it occurred that being accountable within government flies in the face of any type of real efficiency. It just can’t be done.

Realising this was why many outcomes were falling way short of the mark it was time to readjust the scopes. As perfection was no longer a realistic proposition, a revised standard was sought. Something to strive for while still being achievable in an environment of political knee jerking and public transparency.

And there it was, a new mission statement; ‘Strive for adequate’. A healthy goal that surmises the essence of working in government. Conveniently this approach works well in family life as well (and blogging).

Not sure this is allowed

It’s been a beautiful day but I’m not really sure this form of expression is allowed in the death blog arena. Bugger it, I had a good day and I’m not ashamed to blog about it.

I spent the whole day in a pub and was paid to sit drink coffee and indulge in pure self. A facilitator conducted some Myers-Briggs navel gazing tests and everybody laid their souls out for everyone else to see.

Apparently I’m an absent minded professor type; good on big picture items, crap at finding my car in a car park. A majority of my colleagues came up as detail loving, fact-finding, people of action. Which is not surprising considering it’s a team of clerks and inspectors.

Quiche and baguettes were served for lunch (cold - therefore not as highly taxed under some bizarre interpretation of GST rules).

And the afternoon was set aside to spend sunning in the beer garden with a small tab courtesy of Mike Rann.

Thursday, August 26

You'll need images switched on today

No comment required

KY packaging

Sally Robbins

zzZZZZZ

zzZZZZZ

Monday, August 23

Six reasons

Sometimes its not what you say, but what you link to.

Eeeuuuooooo!

Time to call in Major Crash Investigation, we've found a bad skid mark....

Annoying stupid joke

This guy was lonely and so he decided life would be more fun if he had a pet.

So he went to the pet store and told the owner that he wanted to buy an unusual pet.

After some discussion, he finally bought a centipede, which came in a little white box to use for his house. He took the box back home, found a good location for the box, and decided he would start off by taking his new pet to the bar to have a drink. So he asked the centipede in the box, "Would you like to go to Frank 's with me and have a beer?"

But there was no answer from his new pet.

This bothered him a bit, but he waited a few minutes and then asked him again, "How about going to the bar and having a drink with me. But again, there was no answer from his new friend and pet. So he waited a few minutes more, thinking about the situation. He decided to ask him one more time; this time putting his face up against the centipede's house and shouting, "Hey, in there! Would you like to go to Frank's place and have a drink with me?

A little voice came out of the box; "I heard you the first time! I'm putting my f***ing shoes on!"

Friday, August 20

Community service announcement

The Australian Blog Alliance was recently put together as a platform for lesser-known blogs based in Oz. The list of members includes a few guys who don’t really deserve the label of lesser known, but anyway.

Membership is open to bloggers seeking recognition (subject to a few of the administrator’s stipulations) and you don’t even have to be real good at it.


If by any chance you’re passing by and qualify, go forth and contribute to the membership.


Incredible

Big news in support of Howard's Children Overboard claim.

This post by Currency Lad should find its way to mainstream media.

Tuesday, August 17

Its cricket season (in the northern hemisphere)

115 People arrested in Hong Kong
HK arrests 'insect gamblers'
In Hong Kong, 115 people have been arrested following a police investigation into alleged betting on insect fights. A police spokesman said the Far East Friends of Crickets Social Club was raided following a surveillance operation by undercover officers. Cricket fighting is legal in Hong Kong, but gambling on the result is not. Police say five of those arrested were believed to have connections with organised crime gangs known as triads

Greetings

Like most of the other sad individuals out there with blogs, the Grinder likes to gaze at his site stats from time to time. There are the usual suspects from across the nation and every now and then a curious IP appears.
I'm not certain, but I think there's a semi-regular visitor from Ireland.
Greetings whoever you are.

Discovery

I was trudging my way through the usual flood of propaganda emails that are distributed to all government in-boxes, such as:

The Scientist who came in from the Cold, Baroness Professor SusanGreenfield, Adelaide Thinker in Residence

And

RESPECT for Women Seminar,

The latter is hosted by an entity I'd never heard of, curious, I visited the site of the Hawke Centre, to see what they actually do. Nothing from what I can tell, otherthan a plethora of self-promotional activities.

And then came the discovery of the decade.. er ... year ...er month! One of the directors (of course such an esteemed body needs three directors) is none other than accomplished librarian, Alan Bundy.

Yes people! Beware; the intemperate man is a double agent.

Monday, August 16

More Parallels

Grinder: (9 Aug) Nothing to see, move along

Niall: (11 Aug) Go on....off you go. Nothing to see here

And…

Naill: You must request approval to access permalink, commenting and pinging functions

GravettBlogs: The page cannot be displayed. The page you are looking for is currently unavailable.

If this fails to post, I blame my ISPs server.

Friday, August 13

I'm a card carrying RWDB

See...

Grindre RWDB Member 12345

Thursday, August 12

Parallels

12/8/04
BUNYIP: The companion of every card-carrying Right Wing Death Best is suspicion, and at the Billabong, its presence is never more palpable than when...

BUNDY: Rooted deep in the psyche of any living being is a fundamental distrust of every other critter.

I’m going to use some of these at work

The Rabbit Strategy

The CIA, the FBI and the LA Police Dept. are each asked to prove their capability of apprehending terrorists. President Bush releases a white rabbit into a forest and tells each agency to catch it.

The CIA goes first. It sends animal informants into the forest. They question all plant and material witnesses. After three months of intensive investigations the CIA concludes rabbits do not exist.

The FBI goes in. After two weeks with no leads it bombs the forest, killing everything, including the rabbit. It makes no apologies; the rabbit had it coming, it insists.

The LAPD go in. They come out after just two hours, with a badly beaten bear. The bear is sobbing, "OK, OK, I'm a rabbit, I'm a rabbit!"

John Howard hears about George Jnr's idea and decides to test Australian lawenforcement agencies. He releases a white rabbit into what's left of Stromlo Forest,near Canberra.

The National Crime Authority can't catch it but promises that if it gets a budget increase, it can recover $90 million in unpaid rabbit taxes and proceeds of crime.

The Victorian police go in. They're gone only 15 minutes, returning with a koala, a kangaroo and a tree fern, all three shot to pieces. "They looked like dangerous rabbits and we acted in self-defence," they explain.

The NSW police go in. Surveillance tapes later reveal top-ranking officers and rabbits dancing around a gum tree stoned out their minds.
The Queensland police go in. They reappear driving a brand new Mercedes, scantily clad rabbits draped all over it.

The WA police actually catch the white rabbit, but it inexplicably hangs itself when the attending officer "slipped out momentarily" for a cup of tea

The SA and NT police join forces and beat the crap out of every rabbit in the forest, except the white one. They know it is the black ones who cause all the trouble.

The Australian Federal Police refuse to go in. It examines the issues,particularly cost, and decides that because of low priority, high overtime, and the projected expense to the AFP as a whole, the matter should be returned to the referring authority for further analysis.

and ...


ASIO goes into the wrong forest.


Wednesday, August 11

I'm in love

Blogroll is beautiful.

Thanks to Patrick for the tip.

The Riverton Coffee Shop

I had a bizarre experience yesterday afternoon while travelling the highways in the state’s north with two colleagues. We had completed the tasks at hand and it was little too early to be racing straight back to the city.

As we entered the small town of Riverton there was a blue and white tourist sign depicting a coffee cup on a saucer. They wouldn’t put one of those up unless you could get real coffee would they?

Though not expecting too much we cruised the main drag looking for said coffee shop. There was a hotel, a supermarket, deli, and a takeaway shop. Disappointed there was no café, we were on the way out of town trying to come to terms with the bleak prospect of instant coffee in a foam cup from some greasy roadhouse on the way back to Adelaide.

And then, you guessed it; there it was, a bric-a-brac shop run by the local CWA offering brewed coffee, tea and biscuits. It looked dodgy, no signage, no counter and two ladies at a table inside knitting and chatting.

Working like a well-oiled machine we agreed on the pretence of ‘just browsing’ before committing to anything that might be considered at best as a loose adaptation of a cafe experience.

Within the shop was a very ordinary display of well-used items. In fact it was an amazing display of so many things, not one showing any likelihood of ever being sold.

Our host jumped to her feet, greeted us and with uncanny salesmanship, was soliciting a pot of tea or plunger coffee to our liking for a small donation to ‘the pig’. ‘The pig’ being a small money box dedicated to supporting the local kindy.

Despite the surroundings, the caffeine fiend in all of us unanimously agreed to a strong jar of plunged coffee.

Always of interest are the books. Most were ordinary to say the least. ‘Yoga and Sex’ by someone with an Indian sounding name was probably the most interesting of the lot.

Flicking through the collection of LP’s and 45’s made fine entertainment while our host prepped a tray of cups, saucers, a creamer of milk and a big jar of coffee. We were offered a bickie, extra milk if we needed it and left to our own devices as our host joined her friend at the other table.

The coffee was pretty good. It was probably not the smoothest arabica double roast blend, but still infinitely better than a teaspoon of Pablo and hot tap water.

While stocking the shelves with more well meaning donations our hostess tells us she thinks “this stuff will be on the shelves a while”.

She joined our conversation that had drifted from the Cockroaches single to the Wiggles sell-out New York concerts. And started proffering a story on how an author by the name of Michael Moore had written a book on stupid white men that his publishers refused to release because of the timing of the twin towers bombing.

We were given a description of how this Author who has done more than write about George W, he also has a social conscience and has written other greats such as Bowling for columbine. How he cares for the state of public libraries and such.

It was as if we had entered some sort of twilight zone. Old people from the country aren’t supposed to have an interest in this sort of thing. They’re supposed to talk about the drought of 1903 and knit doilies and things.

Oz Blog Alliance

I've been slack in updating the links. Promise to get to it soon.

Good morning Adelaide

Hello Inge!

Inge

A front page that didn’t make me cringe.
Brought to you by this mornings The Advertiser.

The print version is somewhat larger than what is available on the internet. It’s good enough that I’ll bet there are complaints about it. Heh Heh Heh.

Monday, August 9

Nothing to see, move along

It was the Grindlings’ birthday parties this weekend. The military exercise proceeded like clockwork on both Saturday and Sunday. The weather was kind and kids well behaved.

Note to self. Next time book some leave for recovery after the kids’ parties.

Friday, August 6

None too soon

US politics explained.
Its good, but don’t bother if you have a 28.8 kbps connection or are on a data diet. (about 4 MB)

Blogger is shite

Email fodder

A farmer was herding his sheep on a remote property in Western New South Wales, when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him. The driver, a young man in a Broni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the farmer, "If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?"

The farmer looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing animals and calmly answers, "Sure. Why not?" The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his AT&T cell phone, surfs to a NASA page on the internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with hundreds of complex formulas. He uploads all of this data via an email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.
Finally, he prints out a full-colour, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the farmer and says, "You have exactly 1586 sheep."
"That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my sheep." Says the farmer.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused
as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car. Then the farmer says to the young man, "Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my sheep?"

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, "Okay, why not?"

"You're a consultant." says the farmer.
"Wow! That's correct," says the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?” "No guessing required." answered the farmer. "You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew; to a question I never asked; and you don't know crap about my business....... Now give me back my dog."

Wednesday, August 4

Hmm Dolphin…yum…

The pieces have finally come together.

Firstly:
The State Government has employed two permanent rangers to look after the dolphin sanctuary using $250,000 allocated to the project in the 2004-05 Budget.

This left the Grinder wondering why?

The dumbocrats' answer (unsurprisingly) didn’t cut the mustard:

Save our fish nursey so our kids na catch a fish

and then google retrieved this:

"Bottlenose dolphins in South Australia's Gulf St Vincent have been recorded with the highest mercury levels in the world, with dangerous levels of the now banned but long-lived chemical PCB and the heavy metal lead. High levels of cadmium and lead pollution have also been recorded in the food chain in Spencer Gulf in South Australia".

And the penny dropped. There’s no point in harvesting them unless they’re edible. So when’s harvest time? Dolphin, Yum.

Choice

It's times like these I'm glad I surf after tea. Thanks Paul.

Weather report

It is wet here in Adelaide. Our inadequate reservoirs gained something like 25% of their capacity in the last 3 days. My neighbour’s run off has also peaked at about 25% of the height of our common fence.

Librarians

Jericho has stirred some not so fond memories of library experiences.

Today these ‘information facilitators’ are a species under threat from a reduced need for their ‘services’, and none too soon.

Recently the local council mailed all library members asking for personal email and mobile details so that it could advise its clients when reserved items were ready for collection. Not a bad idea.

There must be plenty of funding for sexy projects involving new technology and some project officer is probably having a wonderful time pulling this one together.

How about funding the reintroduction of reminder notices for overdue books? In a cost saving measure several years ago the reminder notice for overdue loans was abolished. Borrowers are now ambushed as Mike describes when they next return to borrow more books.

The ‘Librarians apology’.
Mrs G is now skilled in library idiosyncrasies. The borrowing slip is glued to the fridge and all books are checked off before heading off to the only building in the local shopping centre that is open less of the time than a bank.

On one occasion, Mrs G was queued up to borrow the latest selection of self help and child raising references, when the Grinder membership was flagged. A children’s book was overdue from the previous lot of books and as per policy, this was the first and only advice of the matter.

Mrs G of course denied the act in vain. Computer Justice had deemed her guilty and rendered the borrowing account frozen until the dues were paid.

Mrs G dared to challenge the infallible library database and was treated with the usual sneer and shrug of shoulders. No to be outdone she checked the library shelves and found the book had been shelved without updating the records.
There was, of course, no apology.

Oh, and the ‘You didn’t just put them in the chute ’ look is well used in these parts too. Its very similar to the 'Will you please control your child look' (The library is the only place where Mrs G intentionally lets the Grindlings go feral).