Monthly Archives: August 2007

Death is just the beginning

When I wrote a post about the diet drug “alli” a while back, the actual news part was not the drug itself.  The drug had been available on prescription for a long time, known as Xenical.  The big news was that it had been declared “safe” by the USFDA to allow a version of the drug to be sold over the counter.

Of the wide and varied comments I received (if you count all the forums it appeared on, it generated well over 1,000 comments) one stood out for me.  A couple of times people posted comments along the lines of “why are you worried? the FDA says it’s safe!”  These tools are apparently unaware of the long and proud history of drugs being declared safe then later discovered to have side effects like causing birth defects.  And death.

The latest in this parade is a painkiller marketed in Australia as Prexige.  It turns out this “safe” drug can kill you too.  I guess you stop feeling pain after that.  It was banned in Australia last Friday.  The reports into this intrigued me because they included the warning that your condition could get worse after you stop taking the drug.

What’s worse than death?

Anyway, this story prompted me to file the following Angry News report:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gti-QaRDQ3Q

The more I think about the Chinese authorities executing people for poor job performance, the weirder it seems.  Where do they draw the line?  Is it defined in your work contract?  And it must make recruitment hellishly difficult.  And how about annual reviews?  You’d be terrified of getting a good review.  It might be followed by

“Congratulations, we’re promoting you!”

“Nooooooo, you can’t promote me!”

“But you’re the best performer we have, we want you to run the company.”

“No, anything but that.  Listen, you never found out but I’ve been stealing stuff.  And I’ve been hiding my heroin habit from you. Pleeeease don’t make me the boss.”

It would certainly make for a weird variation of the Peter Principle.

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T-shirt competition finalists

I can’t believe nobody hassled me to finalise my t-shirt competition.  I finally remembered to do it.  Without your help!  Lucky I’m here to pick up the slack.  Before I give the finalists, I’m going to reiterate the two most important rules of the competition:

  1. You’re not allowed to get pissed off at me if I don’t choose you
  2. The popular vote does not dictate the winner

I really mean rule one.  Getting pissed off at me over this is illegal.  The police will be around to pick you up if I hear any complaining.  And rule two means vote stacking won’t work.  I’m shallow and will probably be swayed by popular opinion but I guarantee nothing.  So here are the finalists:

I know exactly how you feel,I’m just not interested – Paul Brown(blog)

How about a nice cup of shut the fuck up – Cailin (blog)

I’m not angry at you, you pathetic little worm – Massif (blog)

I’m blogging about what an idiot you are – Engtech (blog)

People call you stupid for a reason – Elizabeth (blog)

I exist because of your idiocy – LongbowHawk (YT)

If I could have one wish it would be for you to shut the fuck up – Katara (YT)

I’m only angry because you’re an idiot – RandomEdd (YT)

Anger is your body’s natural defence against stupid – LadySadist (YT)

Anger is not an emotion – it’s a way of life – MokongX3M (YT)

By coincidence I ended up with 5 finalists each from the blog and from YouTube.  For those who like such things, I’m including the video version of this announcement that I did for YouTube.  I’m wearing the “pirate” gear again because I couldn’t find my Mr Angry mask.

So there you go.  Get voting!

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More stupid recruitment questions

I swear I’m going to kill one of these recruiting agencies soon.  Most of them are fine.  Helpful, even.  But some of them need some sense slapped into them.  Slapping them may not actually make them any more sensible but I’d sure as hell feel better afterwards.

My pet hate this week is when they ask questions for which the answer would be obvious if they’d apply even a shred of intelligence.  I’m a contractor.  Which means by definition I work somewhere for a fixed period of time and then I leave.  But these idiots insist on asking why I’m finishing a contract.  Because the fucking contract has fucking finished OK?  Can I make it any clearer?

To be fair, it is possible for a contract to finish early because of a bad experience.  Either the contractor or the employer may have decided to end it early because of dissatisfaction.  But I tell these morons I signed on for 6 months and extended my stay to over two years.  But they still ask why I’m leaving with a tone in their voice that suggests something must be horribly wrong.

OK, you got me!  I embezzled millions and got found out.  I murdered the auditors who discovered my scam but it’s only a matter of time until the bodies I stashed in the stationery cupboard start to smell.  I have to get out now!

The other thing they do is hassle me to start a new contract straight away.  Is this person’s planning so bad that they REALLY need someone to start tomorrow?  I explain the situation to them:

“I promised to give four weeks notice.”

“Why does it have to be so long?”

“We negotiated that term so that there wouldn’t be a major disruption to either party.”

“But this employer only wants to talk to people who can start straight away.”

“So he’s only interested in unemployed people?”

“What?”

“The only people who can start straight away are unemployed people.  Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with unemployed people.  But you’re saying that gainfully employed people are automatically precluded from this role.  That doesn’t sound like a smart selection criterion to me.”

This led to an extended silence until the recruitment gimp came back with:

“Couldn’t you just walk out?”

“Despite the fact I gave my word about a notice period?”

“Yeah, you’re a contractor, you could just walk out.”

“So you’re suggesting that I should start my professional relationship with you by doing something really unprofessional to someone else?”

“Well, yeah.”

“I’m hanging up now.  Don’t even think of calling me back until you understand why I can’t do that.”

Call me crazy but I have a hard time entrusting my fate to a stranger who wants me to screw over someone I already know and like.

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I’d make a great babysitter

A prominent YouTuber who goes by the name of Renetto put up a joke video suggesting he was running a competition to find a babysitter for his kids.  Here we discover a bit of an insight into my psyche.  This video was how I chose to respond:

As an aside, my girlfriend refuses to kiss me when I wear this getup.  I know, because I wore it previously at a party.  She is a woman of impeccable taste.

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Equal Opportunities

Anyone who’s read this blog for a while would know I’m a supporter of equal opportunities.  But why is that when I hear things like “Equal Opportunity Committee” I expect to see fat, ugly, bitter people?

I’m just saying is all.

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Too much information

I think someone slipped me some alli diet pills.

I’ll spare you the details.  As it appears half of the western world read my post about these pills there’s very little chance a reader of this doesn’t know what I was suggesting.  The short version of the story is I was in a meeting when my body, in its own special way, suggested to me I should leave the room.  Very quickly.

Figuring that nobody in the meeting wanted specifics, I stood up in the middle of a cow-orker’s droning monologue and said:

“Excuse me, I have to leave the room.”

I was standing up when droning cow-orker felt compelled to ask:

“Can’t it wait?”

I paused for a microsecond.  Even though I was wearing dark pants, I had to make a quick decision.  Waste time justifying myself to this moron or just make for the facilities I so desperately required.  As justifying myself would (a) take up valuable time and (b) involve sharing more information than I’m sure most people would be comfortable with, I chose the rapid exit option.

“No.  Sorry.  I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

It seems droning doofus had not paid a visit to Clue Town recently.  He was still going on as I charged out the door.

“It’s just that we’re right in the middle of something and…”

I considered shouting “Can you not fucking tell I’m about to shit my pants?”  But that falls into a grey are with regard to acceptable workplace conversation, even for me.  Besides, I didn’t want to be known as “Mr ShittyPants” around the office.  Trust me, the people I work with would do this.

Anyway, disaster averted.  I made it back to my seat with no major trauma and only a few minutes had elapsed.  But it seemed as though Captain Fuckhead wasn’t prepared to let it go.  As I came through the door he made a big show of suspending his monologue until I sat down.  Then he did the condescending schoolteacher thing of saying:

“I trust you can stay with us now?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.  Go ahead now.”

“Because I wouldn’t want to stop you from doing something that’s so important you can’t tell us about it.”

“Look, me leaving the room wasn’t optional OK?  I’m back now, let’s just move on.”

“Well, it isn’t as if the group deserves an explanation, we’ve all given up time to be here.”

At this point pretty much everyone else around the table has taken a good guess as to why I had to leave so suddenly.  People are rolling their eyes at how clueless this fuckwit is.  I’m about to say “the same stuff coming out of your mouth was just shooting out of my arse” when someone defuses the situation by saying “Let’s forget about it and keep going.”

What I couldn’t get over was this dork’s inability to accept that I’m a grownup and I wouldn’t just leave the room without good reason.  The thing is, he’s such a control freak if I had told him the nature of my emergency he’d probably want a detailed report on proceedings.  Worse still would be the same emergency befalling him.  I have a horrible feeling he’d recount his time away from the meeting in graphic detail.

There really is such a thing as too much information.

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Mall cops are funny

 I went out to a nearby mall to grab some lunch and I had to laugh at the security guy I saw there.  He was young (probably under 25) and, quite frankly, stupid looking.  He’d bought every bit of kit he could think of.  He had a walkie-talkie, a big torch, a truncheon and he’d even gone and got an earpiece with a springy cord trailing out of it.  The dork even had a military style buzzcut.
 
Some people might have expected him to go for the wanker gadget du jour – the Bluetooth earpiece.  But you’d be missing the point.  You see, all the CIA spooks in the movies have these spingy cables coming out of their ears.  Bluetooth is for civilians. 

What does the jerk think he needs his hands free for anyway?  The CIA and Secret Service need it to deal with potentially lethal threats.  This bloke’s biggest problem seem to be the way he was utterly failing to chat up the teenage shop assistant.
 
I feel sure that this idiot gets a semi-erection every morning when he looks at himself in the mirror wearing his pseudo-military outfit.  “Yeah,” he thinks, “I totally look like that Jack Bauer bloke what’s on the telly.”  Face it dickhead, if you’re under 30 and working as a security guard that pretty much means you’re too fucked up to make it as a soldier or a cop.
 
On top of everything else, in Australia a mall cop has all the authority of a school crossing guard.  I’ve heard some outrageous stories from the US about mall cop excesses.  You’d be in jail in five seconds flat if you tried that shit here. 
 
He reminded me of the security guards I used to see on the streets back where I used to live, except they were way more serious.  I was in the eastern suburbs of Melboure, the area John Safran called “Jewtown“.  There was a major synagogue on the same block as me and they had security up and down the street.  This crew were in full spook mode: black suits, white shirt, earpieces and talking into their sleeves. 
 
I often wanted to ask them if they were responding to a specific threat or if they were generally cautious.  But they scared me.  I’m pretty sure they were packing heat.  I used to call them “Jews on Patrol”.  But not to their faces. 
 
They were actually one of the reasons I used to laugh when self-proclaimed nazis said they were going to come and get me because of something I’d written in a post or said in a video.  Showing up in my neighbourhood ranting about “killing the jew-lover” would be a shortcut to getting shot.

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Filed under General Angriness

I was right – Web 2.0 IS a government plot!

Sometimes my powers of deduction amaze even me.  A couple of weeks ago I had a bit of a go at the way people blithely put and absurd amount of identifying information online for all the world to see.  To exaggerate things in my standard style of humour, I suggested that this was all a government plot.  Who needs warrantless wiretapping when people willingly tell you every goddam thing about their lives?

Well, the conspiracy theorists are all over this like Bob Allen on dick.  (I wonder if he also hits the crack pipe like Ted Haggard?)  Anyway, the truth of it all has been uncovered:

Facebook is run by the CIA!

Well, maybe not.  But there are certainly enough crumbs of evidence to drive the tinfoil hat brigade crazy.  Crazier than they already are.  Hard as that is to believe.  So bear in mind I’m not only angry I’m also psychic.  Right here is where you find the news that matters before it even breaks.

Oh, and to the Digg commenter who said in response to my original “government plot” post: “I  don’t know what’s more ridiculously inaccurate; the term Web 2.0 or the idea it’s a government conspiracy.”  Congratulations!  That whistling sound you heard was the joke sailing right over your head. 

You fucking moron.

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The meeting from hell

I read a survey recently that asked business people what they disliked most about work.  80% of them cited time wasting meetings as the bane of their existence.  It seems a hatred of meetings is universal.  And at the same time most of us are stuck with them.  The thing is, if they’re properly organised, meetings don’t have to be so bad.

It is remotely possible that someone reading this blog could come to the conclusion that I have a negative attitude.  Particularly about work.  In fact, I enjoy my work most of the time.  People piss me off, true.  But that doesn’t make me negative.  That makes me a realist.  Besides, how entertaining would it be to read about how happy I am every day?

I’ve been a Business Analyst for almost 12 years.  This suggests I either like the work or I’m not very career driven.  The answer is mostly I like being a BA.  The usual career path is to move into Project Management and I’ve made it clear before that I think Project Management sucks.  I’d rather be a BA where I get to do things than be a PM stuck trying to manage schedules and budgets.

It also makes it a little more interesting when people ask me what I do because my usual answer is “that depends on who’s employing me.”  Depending on the nature of the contract, I might be involved in some early stage requirements gathering, researching options for new software or a website, putting together a tender, writing up Business Requirements and/or Functional Specifications or maybe coming in towards the end of a project to write user documentation and/or help with implementation.

One thing I’m frequently called upon to do is run meetings and/or workshops.  This terrifies some people but I actually enjoy getting up in front of people.  The videos I post here should give you some clue that I like to perform.  When I’m planning sessions I usually look online for tips (Google is my co-pilot). 

When I was doing such a search recently, I found one guide included on a number of UK government websites.  It seems as though it was aimed more at community and political groups than corporate groups but it looked like there was some worthwhile information in there.  The full guide ran to about 10 pages.  As I worked my way through it, I started to notice a weird tone was developing.

It seemed to have been written by a passive-aggressive hippy.

The hippy side came out because there was a lot of touchy-feely, positive atmosphere, support everyone guff in there.  But I suspect the author was not aware how much of their passive-aggressive side was leaking through.  There seemed to be a paranoia about disruptive elements in the meeting along with a really punitive approach to dealing with them.  Phrases like “watch body language”, “Note digressions and remind members to stay on task” and “Guide members who speak a great deal to be briefer,” started to pop up.

And every time the author gave a suggestion for what to say to a troublemaker, the comment was always directed at a female.  I’m sure the author would say they were simply being gender inclusive but I couldn’t help thinking there might be some… issues behind this.

Then we come to the part that really made me think the author was a hippy: make everything FUN!  This isn’t a completely terrible idea but I don’t think it has to be binary choice between all fun all the time and complete drudgery.  Plus, “fun” is a subjective concept.  One person’s fun is another person’s hideous torture.  And some of the suggestions provided went waaaay into trying too hard territory.

The hippy’s central idea was that if you start each meeting with something fun, then everyone will rush to get to the meeting on time.  After all, who wants to miss out on the FUN?  I don’t know how I’ve missed this in the past.  For years now, my strategy has been to make meetings relevant, concise and as brief as possible.  Clearly I’m talking out my arse.

Here’s where I let the expert take over.  I now present for your reading pleasure some verbatim extracts from “Ideas for launches and fun.”  Possibly followed by some bile filled editorialising from me.

  • Sing your name and have the group sing it back to you

Oh. My. Fucking. God.  I stared at this suggestions for a full minute.  Seriously.  If I ever do this in a meeting, someone stab me in the fucking eye, please.  Because I’ll sure as hell do it to anyone who sings their name at me.

  • Break into small groups and do a mime or skit about an agenda item

I cannot imagine a presenter who made this suggestion getting out of the room alive.  I know I would be leading my group in a plot to murder the idiot.

  • Become someone else, mime it and have people guess

I would not be able to restrain myself if a presenter did this.  I’d be shouting guesses like “You’re a moron… You’re an escapee from a mental institution… No, I’ve got it, you’re a brain-damaged weasel!”

  • Sing and dance the song, the hokey-pokey

Personally, I’d lead a conga line straight out the door at this point.

  • Do a weather report on how you are feeling.  “Sunny and warm.  Cloudy with chance of grumpiness…”

I am Hurricane Katrina.  You are New Orleans.  Start swimming.

  • Dress up in a costume and make up a story about the history of an agenda item

Here’s a tip from Mr Angry, kids.  You can take this one to the bank.  If someone sends you a meeting invitation asking you to bring along a costume, DO NOT GO!

  • Have everyone write their middle name on a piece of paper then try to guess what name belongs to whom.

I would conspire with the others so that everyone wrote “dildo” and then every time we’d guess it was the presenter’s middle name.

  • Have everyone write something about themselves nobody knows then try and guess who wrote what.

Again, I would conspire with the group.  This time we would all write “I’m going to kill the presenter before the end of the meeting.”  Each time the presenter read one out, we would all act really innocent.  I’d love to see how the presenter’s “fun” mood was going after about the third one.

So much for the fun.  Another stellar piece of advice was “Praise people twice as much as you criticise them.”  My previous (and obviously misguided) strategy was to avoid criticism altogether whenever possible.  But I like this equation.  I look forward to going “Excellent point, Bob… I’m glad you brought that up, Bob… Bob, will you shut the fuck up already?  We all hate you.”

If anyone is actually looking for serious advice on running meetings, here’s mine:

  • Plan it out
  • Know what you need to achieve
  • Set an agenda and stick to it
  • Set a time limit and stick to it – set another meeting for another time if there are still things to resolve at the end of the meeting
  • Make sure everybody knows ahead of time what’s expected of them
  • Make sure the right people (knowledge holders and decision makers) are at the meeting

There are times when you need to get creative to keep people engaged, particularly with longer sessions.  Anything longer than two hours needs serious planning and some variety.  Actually, a better idea is to not run sessions longer than two hours.  Whenever possible, follow the KISS principle (which, of course, stands for Keep It Simple, Shit-for-brains).

Cut the bullshit and people will thank you for it.

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Cow-orkers don’t have non-stick faces

Have you ever noticed how people who offer unsolicited advice have trouble backing down?  Telling someone you don’t want their input usually won’t shut them up.  Bizarrely, these type of people tend to go on for longer the more you make it clear you want them to shut the fuck up.  The Cult of Angry shall make these people slaves.

One of the simple pleasures in my life is toasted sandwiches.  Any sandwich tastes twice as good toasted.  A little qualification for this statement: any sandwich I like tastes twice as good toasted.  If you can come up with a sandwich that would be gross if toasted trust me, I already thought the sandwich was gross.

These two points are linked by the (mis)adventure I had at lunch today.  I was toasting my lunchtime sandwich when disaster struck.  My sandwich stuck to the sandwich press!  I’d had to move departments recently and the sandwich press in this department’s kitchen has lost all of its non-stick qualities.

So I’m gently trying to prize my bread from the surface without totally destroying the sandwich when some intrusive know-it-all feels compelled to pipe up:

“You shouldn’t use a knife on it like that, you’ll damage the surface.”

“The surface is already completely ruined, that’s why my sandwich is stuck.”

“But you’ll scrape the surface.”

“I’m not scraping the surface, I’m scraping the bread.  I don’t want any of the surface attached to my sandwich.”

“But that knife will damage the coating.”

“I told you, there is no coating.  This thing has lost all of its non-stick qualities.”

“But you’re not supposed to scrape the surface.”

“Do you have any brilliant ideas on how to get my sandwich out?  Any alternatives at all?”  This was the first time the fuckwit actually paused.  The time I ask them to say something is the only time they’re silent.  “I’m doing the only thing possible to get my sandwich out.”

“But you can’t use a knife on the surface like that.”

“FOR FUCK’S SAKE!  WHAT PART OF ‘THERE IS NO OTHER FUCKING WAY’ DO YOU NOT FUCKING UNDERSTAND?”

“But the knife… the surface… the scraping.”

On an unrelated note, through scientific experimentation I now know how long it takes for someone to stop screaming after you jam their face into a hot sandwich press.

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