Caught Between a Bus and a Safe Place

August 13, 2013 at 21:56 | Posted in Legal, Politics, Work | Leave a comment
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We have recently started a big Environment, Health and Safety push at work due to a number of workplace incidents that have taken place globally. This has coincided with us seeking accreditation under the Australian Standards for EH&S. As you can imagine this has put a spotlight on EHS and has highlighted to me a rather strange situation.

On one hand we have the Government rolling out the National Broadband Network, touting a number of benefits including the increased ability to work from home due to the increased speeds meaning it is just like being in the office. On the other hand they are passing legislation and the courts are interpreting these laws in such a way to make businesses review whether they allow staff to work from home.

Due to the risk aversion of some companies, mine being one of them, the number of hoops to jump through are getting worse. If I am to perform “ad-hoc” work from home I am now required to complete a self assessment of my work environment at home, read “my lounge room and dining table”, with one of the items being that I must have a fire extinguisher. Keep in mind that in this context ad-hoc means a random hour on occasions.

If perchance I wanted to work from home for two days while my wife is away so that I can do school drop off and pick up then i need to get a full EHS inspection done by our workplace team. I guess I am putting the feet up on the couch next time this happens because there is no way in hell someone is coming in to my house to do one of these inspections. Don’t even ask about a permanent arrangement as they are gone.

So what has happened to make companies move to such a position. Firstly, new EHS legislation has been passed by the government. Among its provisions it make a number of things criminal acts by their mere occurrence. This tends to spook a lot of people at a lot of levels in organizations. Secondly, the courts have started to much more broadly interpret some of these provisions. This has lead to situations where companies have been found liable for not providing a safe workplace when people have injured themselves while working from home duets things that were in the homeowners control. Examples can include tripping on rugs, slipping on wet tiles and the usual strains from working in an unsuitable location like the lounge chair in front of the cricket.

What is the solution? Like many things in this life I think the solution is personal responsibility. The majority of employers are allowing work from home for the benefit of the employee. Don’t get me wrong the company still gets a benefit but the reason I want to work from at nights is so I don’t have to stay at the office and miss dinner with my family or because I don’t want to use my leave up just to run kids to school and back. Since work is allowing me to work from home surely I must have a responsibility to ensure that I am doing so in a safe manner. If I am not working in a safe manner shouldn’t I bear some culpability for this.

Instead we have people doing things they know they shouldn’t and when they hurt themselves they try to deflect the guilt of their own stupidity on to their workplace and assuage their embarrassment by seeking cash. How about we ante up and take some responsibility for our own fate for a change. Admitting your own failings is difficult but better than living with the gnawing guilt of your own inadequacy.

I know people will find this hard to do so we will need our court systems to take a stand and stop listening to solicitors whose job it is to make every act of personal stupidity some else’s fault for the sake of their clients. We need to start loading others responsible for their decisions and not let them off the hook when they have done the wrong thing.

Lastly, we need people to start taking ownership of there own mistakes, make a correction and get on with it. It seems hard a first but you get used to it after a while. You might also earn the respect of a few people who appreciate the fact that you can admit you were wrong.

How about we give it a try and see if we can turn around some of these trends of litigation and risk aversion. Maybe then I can put my feet up on the coffee table with the laptop on my lap (heaven forbid) and watch the cricket while typing boring emails at 2am so I don’t have to be in the office itself with only the coffee machine for company.

Good night, good luck, good god.

How to Hail A Bus (or Stick Your Hand Out Stupid)

March 6, 2013 at 17:27 | Posted in General, Stupidity | Leave a comment
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The human propensity for abject stupidity when dealing with very simply concepts astounds me. You would think that the act of hailing a bus is not that difficult a task.  However well dressed business people struggle with this fundamental task of commuting on a daily basis.  I am making the broad, and perhaps unfounded, assumption that as these people are well dressed business people that they would at least be of average intelligence or else they would be cleaning toilets.

Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against cleaners (my mother cleaned a school in the afternoon for many years) but in my experience that majority of them do not live up to Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting.

I stood at the bus stop today and watched a gentleman as the bus approached. He was initially agitated but relaxed as the bus changed into the curbside lane. He then stood there, did nothing and them proceeded to look perplexed as the bus continued past the stop without picking him up. This seemed to really cause a great deal of consternation despite this particular white collared gentleman not having bothered to hail the bus at all.

It’s a simple concept people. You stick your hand out, the bus driver sees that you do indeed want to avail yourself of his services, he stops and you hop on.  If one of these four steps falls through the cracks you don’t indeed end up on the bus.  However if you never initiate the chain it will never reach its conclusion, so stick your hand out stupid.

I for one do not leave this to chance.  I am generally the only person that gets on at my stop, at a time that my bus is the only bus that goes past it (for another hour at least) and I have had drivers tell me that they weren’t sure I wanted to get on until I hailed them.  Seriously.  So every morning as the bus approaches I get up off the seat in the bus shelter, walk to the kerb and quite deliberately stick my hand out.  Let’s not leave it to chance.

Good night, good riddance to fools and good travels.

Less Reading, More Writing (or Blogging on the Go)

March 4, 2013 at 17:40 | Posted in General, Public Transport | Leave a comment
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Hello there anyone who is still following this blog. It has been a fair while between posts but I have made the decision to do more writing and less reading while I sit with 20-40 other human beings encased in a metal and glass box hurtling along the road controlled by an individual who thinks brakes are something to be applied sparingly and at the latest possible opportunity – or more succinctly, while on the bus.

Having just had my gall bladder removed (it didn’t like me, the feeling was mutual, so we went our separate ways) the propensity for the custodians of our public transport system to either be stopped or going flat out with as little time as is allowed by the laws of physics spent in the transition from these two states is at the forefront of my mind. Nursing a sore abdomen while the driver stomps on the accelerator when you are half way to your seat causes pain and consternation the first time and a revision to your seat selection activities thereafter.

On the flip side, don’t stand up to get off the bus until it is at a stop lest the driver take it as a personal challenge to make you fly the length of the bus and crack your head on the windscreen as he brakes with all the force that hydraulics and air-brakes allow. Having other passengers, and the aforementioned tester of the principles of friction is stopping a body in motion, glare at you as you gingerly make your way to the door after a state of rest is achieved is a much better option than pulling a stitch.

I have long held the notion that part of driver training should be to stand 20 drivers in the isle of a bus, jump on the gas and then from 60kph, stop. As a hint that sentence finished abruptly for a reason. If nothing else this would at least allow them to chuckle quietly to themselves secure in the knowledge of just what they are doing to their passengers each day when they get on the road.

Now I understand that drivers are under pressure to meet timetables that are sometimes unrealistic, are impacted by traffic, slowed down by people who have emptied the piggy bank to travel to bingo, held up by badly designed traffic flow systems and buses that were built back when Jesus played fullback for Nazareth. Does that excuse driving practices that would cause a learner to fail their driving test with an all time low score. Well, no, not entirely.

As today’s bus ride has ended and my desire to rant has evaporated with the sight of the bus careening its way up the street away from me, I will get over it and move on – at least until the morning when the “fun” begins again.

Good night, good travels, good luck.

What’s in a Name

May 24, 2012 at 13:05 | Posted in Homeopathy, Medicine, Science, Skepticism | Leave a comment
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Perhaps it’s just me.  Perhaps I am too sensitive.  Perhaps I take offence when none is intended.  Perhaps people should watch the words that use because of an inherent meaning to them.  Perhaps some people should grow the fuck up and discuss real issues properly.  Perhaps I am too sensitive.

While on a week off I have been doing too much reading on the internet (haven’t bought a newspaper in year, just go online now) and have come to the point that there are some words and statements, either made by journalists in articles or by the public in comments, that by their shear presence shit me to tears.  They are the words often used to belittle a person, dismiss them without thought, make them appear unworthy of our consideration or to hold them up to ridicule to make the attacker feel better about their own shortcomings.

The words/phrases below are my particular hot points.  There are others but they don’t make me steam at the ears like these ones do.

Boffins

I first read this word in that highly intellectual publication Picture magazine in my late teens.  Unfortunately I now read it on mainstream news sites, particularly news.com.au and particularly from Peter Farquhar, in many science related articles.  These are usually of the type that there is some new discovery that is made light of in the pursuit of making it “interesting” for the general public.  You know the type – “In news that will make Star Wars fans cream their jeans boffins have today discovered…”.  They usually gloss over the actual interesting bits, misrepresent the main finding slightly and leave anyone who is actually interested in the science cringing in a corner wish they have purchased a subscription to a science magazine.

Picture Magazine.  Courtesy of http://www.acpmagazines.com.au

Perhaps the reason I dislike it so much is where I first came across the word (OK, obvious innuendo intended).  Perhaps it is the fact that I actually find the science interesting without the piffle written around it.  Perhaps it is the feeling I have that many mainstream media outlets think their readers are idiots who couldn’t understand the article if written properly.  Perhaps it may be the feeling I sometimes get that they may just be right and that all the readers are laughing at how silly these “boffins” are.

Rednecks

This lovely slur I have most often found in the comments sections on articles to do with homosexuality and more specifically gay marriage.  In Australia it is a purely borrowed term coming from American culture and as such has only really been in our common language for a short while.  It is a taunt that is most often, in my opinion at least, leveled at Queenslanders and, more particularly, rural Queenslanders.

Coming from a rural Queensland background I find this to be an incredible misrepresentation of this section of society.  Myself, and a great many of my “redneck” friends support gay marriage (here’s an idea, how about we just call it marriage and make it open to all consenting adult couples), have gay friends and may even be gay themselves.

The NOH8 Campaign is a charitable organization whose mission is to promote marriage, gender and human equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest.

I have met incredibly bigoted, incredibly uninformed and incredibly unintelligent people in all locations I have traveled to.  It is not the exclusive domain of people dwelling in rural Queensland.  The term seems to get thrown out as a way of dismissing people along the lines of “don’t worry about what they say, their not smart enough to bother with their opinion”.  In my view that is an intellectually dishonest way to mount an argument (one which I have probably been guilty of 4 times already in this post).

So Called Professionals / Experts

This little beauty lurks in the dark corners of vaccination and climate change blogs and comments.  The sarcastically phrased “these so called “experts” don’t know what they are talking about” often comes from someone with a research degree from Google U (see next pet peeve) who has about as much expertise with the topic at hand as I do with particle physics (ie fuck all).  Do the experts know everything – No.  Do the experts have all the answers – No.  Are the experts more likely to know more about the issue and give the correct advice than a lay person with a web browser – You can be so sure as to bet your left testicle on it (if you are endowed with one that is).

I find this form of arrogance on the part of the person throwing out this phrase to be somewhat strange.  They seem to thing that after reading a few newspaper reports, a couple of blogs, perhaps on the rare occasion a couple of actual studies, that they actually know more than people who have devoted their career to the study of the issue.  It is also somewhat interesting that the people who support their view are all “real” experts – regardless of qualification – and the people who oppose their view are only “so called” experts.

Right now I might head out and challenge those so called experts in law that say it’s illegal to drink coffee naked on my front steps.  What do they know anyway.  It’s a citizens’ right to make their own clothing choices, isn’t it.  They couldn’t take that away from me.  All those who value your sight avert your eyes now.

Researcher

This is more a contextual based frustration.  As you may have gathered above I love science.  In the scientific arena the term researcher has a more defined meaning than other areas.  Someone who Googles (how does the spellchecker not recognise this but offers googlies as an alternative?) for a large percentage of their day is not a “researcher”.  Reading scientific literature and putting your own spin on it when  you have no qualifications in the area does not make you a “researcher”.  Writing a blog about it, or putting it in your own magazine, does not make you a “published researcher”.  Doing research makes you a researcher.

So now you have my pet peeves that appear in many an online forum, what are yours and why?  If you think I am being over sensitive on some of these word/phrases let me know but be prepared to back up your argument.

Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up

April 26, 2012 at 07:30 | Posted in General | Leave a comment

I have recently realised that I have fallen for the honey-trap of blogging that is stats. I have strayed from my purpose of using this as a means of clearing my head in search of site visits and comments. I have started writing posts that I hope people might like to read as opposed to things I need to redistribute to balance the load.

This in turn lead to me not writing things as I couldn’t find a witty, engaging way to write them. There are a couple of recent exceptions but there are more things that never make the screen at all. Time for a reset I think.

For those who follow the blog there will probably still be a few specifically written pieces to hopefully entertain but expect far more introspection. Either that or outward rants at numpties of many persuasions.

I hope you still stick around, read and comment when the feeling takes you. So good friends, good morning and good times. Hope to see you again soon.

And Now For Something A Little Bit Different (Take 2)

March 7, 2012 at 09:49 | Posted in General | Leave a comment

Let’s try this again.  The previous posting of this will hopefully teach me the dangers of blogging from the bus and not checking the actual site for a week.  Well you live, you learn.  Well mostly you live, hopefully you learn.

After the largely negative themes of the last few posts I thought I might try for something a little more upbeat today. I thought that I might go with a list of people and sites that populate the internet that amuse, entertain and enthrall me – some do all three.

XKCD

This web comic is utterly brilliant and exceedingly clever. Every time I go to this site I get lost for hours looking through the strips.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

SMBC is another very clever, funny site with a vast array of content. Well worth wasting, bludging about on, spending an entertaining hour or two on.

Bad Astronomy

Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, runs a brilliant blog on Discovery, as well as appearing in many of their space documentaries and his own series Bad Universe. While the site is mainly astronomy based, with some very cool (for a space geek like me anyway) pictures of bits and pieces of the universe, don’t be surprised to see Phil diving into politics and other science fields as well.

The Dissemination of Thought

The, now published, author over at TDoT writes a very insightful blog* on just about anything that comes into his mind. Having been, on occasions, acquainted with the workings of his mind that’s a pretty scary prospect.

*Note: I’m not just saying that because I’ve appeared on it either

Stop the AVN

This Facebook group was set up in opposition to the Australian Vaccination Network – a mis-named group who are actually against vaccination – and is a great example of what an online community of disparate people can achieve when acting together.

While I have done little but add weight of numbers to their cause I am pleased to be one of their number.  If you value vaccination as an important public health initiate in Australia I suggest you give them a look.

Miniclip Games

For those times when you just want to mindlessly blow something up or beat up a few animated villains. This site contains a motza of online games in all sorts of genres from sport to action to strategy. Biggest trick is keeping the kids off it so you can get on the computer yourself.

That might cover it for today I think.  Hope you enjoy a few of these sites as much as I do.

When is enough, enough!

February 24, 2012 at 21:10 | Posted in General | 3 Comments

I sit here tonight, full of piss, contemplating this question. I think the answer is now.

I have just walked back to work having celebrated my bosses departure to realise not only has noone cleaned the coffee machine that I had forgotten to clean before I went to the pub but that some inconsiderate arse has dumped their dirty dishes in the sink and walked out the door for the weekend.

Do I really want to continue working here. I think tonights answer is no. Let’s see what Monday brings.

Is that an iPhone in your hand, or are you just an idiot

February 20, 2012 at 21:01 | Posted in General, Human Nature | 2 Comments
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Today I had the occasion to wander through the Brisbane CBD to transact some business.  During my stroll back to work two thoughts occurred to me.

Firstly, I am really going to enjoy being a dirty old man.  Judging by my walk today I only have the old part to work upon, although the gaggle of 20 year old university girls that I passed probably consider that I have already reached this milestone too.

Secondly, if you are going to walk along looking at your smartphone at least walk in a fucking predictable manner.  It is bad enough that people walk, eyes down, looking at their phone in a crowded environment but then they decide to veer off at a random angle from their previous track without so much as lifting their eyes off the screen.

If you are reading this on your phone while walking, LOOK UP NOW!!

Perhaps Google maps has just told them that store they’re after is off to their right.  Perhaps their friend just texted them that they are waiting in a coffee shop in Queens Plaza.  Perhaps their favourite footballer has just tweeted that they are in Footlocker.  Perhaps they are just inconsiderate idiots.

After spending nearly twenty years (fuck me, have I been in Brisbane that long) regularly walking through this location I still remain amazed by many people’s lack of situational awareness. The rise of the smartphone has only added to this problem by providing even more opportunities for distraction.

I implore the worlds smartphone users that when you are walking in a crowded environment either take your eyes off the screen and look where you are going, sit down and use it in peace (for all of us) or at the very least walk in a straight line.  Failure to apply one of these methods may result in you being knocked on your arse when you suddenly change direction in front of me.

Ridin’ Like There Ain’t No Clowns

February 18, 2012 at 22:43 | Posted in Human Nature, Music, Work | 3 Comments
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While listening to my, as previously documented, somewhat eclectic music selection recently I was struck by a line referring to “Ridin’ like there ain’t no clowns” – extra marks if you name song and artist (the4gottenman should have this in the bag).

For the uninitiated, that may be pretty much anyone who hasn’t lived in the bush or listened to country music, this is a reference to rodeo riding where upon the rider alighting from a bull the clowns would distract the aforementioned beast while the rider picked himself up out of the dirt and exited the arena. This can be rather important as large angry bulls can be detrimental to your health if applied externally – barbecued and applied internally is another matter but we’ll leave my culinary pursuits out of this for the moment.

Given the fact that holding on until the bell and making an exit onto your feet is better than finding yourself sprawled on the ground looking up the left nostril of 1000kg+ of pissed off Brahman with no brightly dressed people with flouro afros and red noses to distract him from what he is about to do to you, clearly I think this line can be taken to mean you should hold on tight, fight as long and hard as you can and make as graceful an exit as possible from each situation. You don’t want to give up too soon as you might find yourself in deep shit. There are, no doubt, other interpretations but I’ll stick with this one.

In life the ability to pull off this feat can be a useful ability. To succeed you often have to hold on tight, fight hard, exit a bad situation gracefully and on occasions beat the bastards with your hat to get some action out of them.

I have learnt over the years that if you don’t fight for yourself then no-one else is magnanimously going to do it for you. Show a bit of tenacity, skill and spirit and you just might find you have the crowd cheering for you instead of the bull.  I am seriously sick to tears of fuckwits who think they are owed something just because they deign fit to bestow their presence upon the workplace and don’t feel they hard to try, fight or even actually be any good to move forward.

Seriously, if you don’t show some skill, hold on and fight, don’t expect me not to stomp on you when you are lying there in the dust of your latest fuckup, staring up wondering where the guys in the silly outfits are to bail you out again.  They are probably in the wings arguing for their turn on the bull.

The Musical Mish-mash That is My iPod

February 17, 2012 at 21:48 | Posted in Human Nature, Music, Sanity | Leave a comment
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In another of what seems to be a serious of posts where I start questioning my own sanity I have decided to have a look at the music that I listen to and why I listen to it.  Instead of doing a post along the lines of a top 5/10 I have let iTunes be my guide.  I have switched on shuffle, hit play and cringed at the thought of what the first 10 songs it plays might be.  Whatever it has thrown up is what you will see below*.

*Authors note:  The exception to this is that I have excluded any children’s and Christmas music.  They are not mine but on here for the convenience of car trips and holidays with 4 kids who like to listen to music while going to sleep.  Honest 😉

I will set out the song, artist and album and any random musings (read bullshit justification) about why it is on my iPod and why I enjoy listening to it.  With the laws of random chance (and for anyone out there more hardcore than I am about science and facts, yes I do know that iTunes is not truly random but hey give me a little latitude here).

1/ Homesick – Thirsty Merc – Slideshows

A kick arse Aussie band.  These guys were the support act for Matchbox 20 when the played in Brisbane and are probably the only time that I have felt that a support act could have easily been the headliners for the night.  An generally awesome album with a mix of ballads and good rock.  Check out other songs of the album such as The Hard Way and Hey Jacinta.

2/ I’d Be Better Off in a Pine Box – Doug Stone – Country Gold Compilation

Told you this list would be fucked up but honest.  This is one of a few songs that I kept from this compilation album.  It’s pretty much as the title says – I’d be better off dead than seeing you with someone else because it would be less painful.  I am sure most of us have felt that way about a relationship at some time.  My liking of country music comes from living in the bush until I was 17 (still have family out there) where it was almost a birthright that you listened to it.

3/ For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) – AC/DC – AC/DC Live

These guys truly rock.  Saw them in concert about 15 years ago and they were awesome.  Amazing live performers with some fantastically good songs.  Lead to a very funny moment when we had donned earplugs (on advice of a friend who had seen them live before) and the house lights went down leaving our fluoro earplugs glowing in the dark.  We were soundly ridiculed for two songs until people relented and asked us where we had bought them.  At least we could hear ourselves laughing about it afterwards unlike them.

The cannon shots in this actually hit you with a sound wave that you physically feel hit your chest.  Fucks me what it does to your ears.

4/ Wishing on the Same Moon – Powderfinger – Dream Days at the Hotel Existence

A Brisbane band that made good.  Saw these guys live at a nightclub a year or so before they released DAF.  Thought they sucked and the lead singers voice was annoying.  Just goes to show why I am not a music executive doesn’t it.  Probably my least favourite ‘Finger album but a couple of good songs on it.  Probably prefer the Vulture Street album.

5/ Downfall – Matchbox 20 – More Than You Think You Are

These guys are intensity in ten cities, live at Bodukan.  Love all there albums and they were fantastic live.  Great entertainers not just good at playing the songs.  Despite my complete lack of religiousity I love the “gospel choir” type backing vocals in this song.

6/ Death From The Skies – George Hrab – Trebuchet

Now we start to delve into my inner geek.  George Hrab is an American singer/songwriter/performer and skeptic.  I originally came across his work from his podcast, The Geologic Podcast.  This song is based on the book by Phil Plait – The Bad Astronomer – of the same names and details that odds of being killed by various cosmic events such as gamma ray bursts and supernovae.  George also plays in The Philadelphia Funk Authority and the Geologic Orchestra.  If you are near Philly get down to his 21812 Concert (it’s a palindrome).  If I was nearby I would be there with bells on, most probably literally.  For my discussion of The Geologic Podcast, look here.

7/ The Fever – Garth Brooks – Double Live

GB was one of my first concerts.  As I said, growing up in the bush country music was a lifestyle.  GB was a fantastic live entertainer as well.  I don’t think I will ever forget him taking a running leap off the stage, grabbing the handrail of the 1st tier and hauling himself up into the crowd to finish the last verse of a song.  Live versions of the songs were also open to a few twists along the way that added to the fun.

8/ Elevation – U2 – So Fresh Compilation

No idea what So Fresh album this was on.  It is the only U2 song that I have.  Like the tempo of it and the way it rocks along.  Liked many of their songs over the years but never enough to buy an album.

9/ Work in Progress – Alan Jackson – Cream of Country Vol 7

Picked up a liking for Alan Jackson from my father.  Found this album amongst stuff that my little brother left behind after a tumultuous few months living with us.  It was scratched to shit – think it may have been his ex-girlfriends – but I managed to get most of the songs off it.  Kept 9 songs off the album out of about 20 – it was nothing to do with too many skips from the scratches either, most of it just sucked.

10/ Love Song for No One – John Mayer – Any Given Thursday

Liked a lot of songs off his first album and my wife bought me this for a present.  It is a double CD live album.  Unfortunately he mostly sucks live by the sound of it.  Not really a fan of this album but there are a couple of good songs on it – this is not one of them.  I prefer My Stupid Mouth and Comfortable.

Well there you have it.  This is a sample of my music collection.  I will let you be the judge of my honesty in reporting the outcome of this experiment and my musical taste.

Note: I feel there are a couple of omissions that I have to mention although they didn’t come up in the first 10.

Eminem – The Eminem Show.  Another one left behind by my brother.  I like about half the songs on the album due to the wit that he puts into them.  Without Me is a particular favourite and the line “I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley” is a fantastic comment on how values change over time.

Cold Chisel.  A love I developed from my older brother playing their songs in my formative years.  A classic Aussie band with some fantastic songs.  Khe Sahn is the unofficial national anthem after all.

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