Tuesday, December 1, 2009

90 days of Hell(now rebranded as Metro)

So the new stationmasters have stepped in to the boots that Connex left with much fanfare, flashy lights and other such media releases. Much hullabaloo is also being made about the fact that nothing seems to be changing and that a few days in we should nail them to a cross and dancing around with pitchforks.

I’m holding my judgement for now.

The new breed of owners who’s new ‘original’ name is Metro have already started by stomping all over whatever respectability ‘Connex’ had by decrying the lack of service for the trains, the fact that parts are missing and that they are not ‘Connex’.
Now I know, that every media outlet has been banging on about the fact that out of 3000 + members of the company only about 20 people right up the top have moved onto another job at another place (most likely with a good send off with a banquet and all) but I think it needs to be absolutely clear on this.

Trains are identical - Check
Tracks are identical – Check
Staff are still wearing the badly fitting overcoats – Check
Control System is still identical – Check
MX still handed out haphazardly at stations – Check
Occasional spin still sent out by Transport Minister – Check
Transit Authority still informing us that it won’t be fixed overnight –Check

It doesn't seem that different to me personally. But on that last point is where I start to get a little annoyed. We just went out to the world to look for the people who are prepared to offer us the method to turn our ailing system around and they haven’t completed it already?
I don’t care if the infrastructure is so bad we might as well wrap it all up in Gaffer tape or that every train is sticking together entirely based on the belief held by Lynne Kosky in flying pigs but they should be able to fix this thing quick smart. Considering how long and arduous this tender process was I can’ think why we didn’t get a team who promised converting lead into gold, water into wine and bus stops into nightclubs, all in the first night.
I have noticed a few new changes though already, apart from the occasional new executive laughing uproariously from the Metro head office. As one of the new changes is for more information on announcements, I presume Commuters will now get a clipped female reading full romantic history of all trains should any of them need a mental fatigue day. Granted it will tell us what actually happened but it will be dull and boring but wouldn’t it be better to have a droll sarcastic voice yelling out obscenities to help the commuters at least know it annoys the operators and workers just as much them.

Still I’ll give them 90 days(28 Feb 2010) before I properly yell and abuse them. I don’t know why but I would actually like them to get the system working to cover the 600,000 people who travel daily. And if they need it, I’m more than happy to yell obscenities over the loudspeaker instead of the current announcements.

Monday, November 9, 2009


I had the chance this morning to help a bewildered visitor to Melbourne town who was trying to get to RMIT from the corner of Elizabeth and Collins. Now for all the non Melbournites out there, this kind of direction is quite simplistic and helped me feel good about myself for the next hundred meters or so till I started dodging trams jaywalking on Bourke St.

The man, of unknown overseas origin, wandered on his way happily hoping that he was one step closer to his destination than he had been when standing on our meeting corner. And I can't recommend enough that you ensure these tourists, visitors, new residents, interlopers or otherwise time travellers do get the assistance that they are asking for.

It may be a little far to run ahead of him and drop bread crumbs or pay a skywriter to lead them towards there intended goal but it does give you a good kick to make people feel a little better.
Now, I know you can all see this as self congratulatory but this should lead to an obvious conclusion.

People need to help people out.

Well, I don't think that was that much of a revelation but maybe, just maybe if you're feeling a little down you should go out and find someone who is incompetently trying to parallel park their scooter and assist them (without appearing to actually steal the scooter).

Heck, this should be naturally for everyone to assist any stranger, who happens to walk by, across a pedestrian crossing regardless if they want to cross or not. Why not wait half an hour to merge onto a freeway letting everyone else past first, you'll feel 189.3% better than you had earlier in the day(figure not yet proven)

But lastly, if you want to truly help someone else. Maybe you should let them help you. If you notice a friend or colleague feeling a little glum then what better way to make them feel better than to go out there and injure yourself(only to a slight degree, no point killing yourself) so that they can give you the kiss of life, tourniquet up your acute angled knee and feel for a good two days on top of the world.

Well, that's all from me for this post.
I think it's time I went and helped some people out.
Maybe just a twisted ankle this time, broken bones just take too long to heal.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Inspirational Purgatory

So I have been sitting here looking at the many pieces on Mister Fine thinking about a piece or two to post in my mind and nothing seems to be gelling. Despite years of cynicism, coffee, bad travel experiences and other such stuff there seems to be no rhyme or reason why I can’t put down fifteen paragraphs or so without sobbing quietly into my pillow at the third and declaring that whatever talent I had is all over and it will never come back.

I can’t seem to shake this sense of foreboding that after working on the full 32 posts (and one dodgy mobile phone photo) that I can’t seem to get the ideas in my head down on paper. And the ideas seem to be there, from inspirational school television influences, crazy american familys with hot air balloons to the excitement of not paying a cent extra for public transport for the next 2 years (the last one apparently was enough to pay for more ticket inspectors.) but the issue seems to be that I get to a good point, then I lose the moment and stop...right...about...now……..

….so the question is that, while wallowing in a mire of inspirational deficient mud, I should be able to step forward and get enough momentum to move on.

And at this point I want to kick start my muse like a motor scooter without the use of hard or soft drugs. Without resorting the methods such as extreme antarctic polo(with seals) or running off to an ancient emo temple to wear lots of black and talk to no one. I need to get the movement going again with a cheap and practical muse for hire, especially if I want to keep Mister Fine moving at some pace.

And I don't seem to be the only one. I know numerous blogs that start out so well with the updates occuring in such a regimented fashion that the Army feels out of step before tailing off with posts occurring yearly, like the school journals of old.

So my real question to everyone, and it has only taken five paragraphs to get to a point, is on the way we get our muses to work. We seem to be dependant on these little spirits of inspiration so much so that without them, our motivation falls like a brick(I prefer a brick to a stone on this occasion). And the point is that why are we so reliant on our muse?

In reality(at least this one) being subservient to a bodily function seems to be akin to reverting to being a toddler. We get to train our bodies to wait for us to eat, sleep, exercise, go to the toilet and even breath(should you be a pearl diver or sewerage worker) but our creative mind gets to be waited upon like Cleopatra until it feelshappy enough to help us out.

So the answer to all this is either in blaming our parents for only toilet training us as a toddler(which is always a good excuse to a board of directors) or to work out exactly what the muse needs (may be alcohol, hard drugs, maths books or monopoly money) and then withold this until you have a better exchange policy. Blackmail always seems to be a good option, right?


I'm out of other inspirations I think I might just blame the parents.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Looking for: one Greek god of indecision.

A friend of mine recently was lamenting on the issues of the ancient civilization of Greek gods and that it takes a while to work from one disenchanted offspring through to the other side of the Olympus trailer park. And while this may seem like more of a chore than a benefit, I can see that it adds a level of perceived omnipotent interest that you don’t tend to see in other major religions.

For example the family tree of Christianity, as far as I understand it, is just Father, Son and Holy Spirit with no specific focus for each of the three, saying that they are, in fact, all one entity in effect. The Greek gods, on the other hand, seem to have worked out that they shouldn’t multi-task but endeavour to share out the responsibilities to all of the family, from supporting the world on there shoulders right down to god of deceit and lies. Personally I can see that it would be quite annoying to be born, be congratulated on being immortal then told that you have to take care of a certain section of the population for the rest of eternity without any option of retiring in forty to forty five year.

So what did this mean for all those ancient Greeks? It meant they could curse to their hearts content should they not catch any fish that day and only annoy a minor deity of hooks and nets, or pray specifically for a miracle of childbirth right to the god of childbirth for a quick and painfree labour. With this kind of personal service it could be a working version of the automated phone switches with more of a personal touch.

But if you think these ancient gods may now be useless, redundant and a little out of touch you may be a little surprised. Sure the majority of these are split between death and love and the many facets of that but for starters, there is a whole group who seem to be the group for the internet.

For starters blogging is covered by Momus who was the male spirit of mockery, complaint and stinging criticism, a perfect role should anyone ask. Neiceaa happened to be the god of quarrelling, grievances and thus of forum posting of all kind and lastly Pseudia seems to cover all photoshopped images and gossip columns with the portfolio of lies and falsehoods.

But does this mean that a range of gods, titans, spirits and other yet unnamed immortals have the option of heading back into our current time, moving away from catering to the chariots and sandals and adapting to mobile phones and Transcontinental Jets.

Well, with the right marketing they can bring Mr T back from the eighties and make it popular to wear slapbands, if only for a day, but then again maybe there's a god of Fads?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Can you tell me where the FAQ for me is?

Recently I was disappointed with a customer’s service department of a website for there inadequate options on the frequently asked questions so I wrote them a letter. I have included it below for your reference.

Dear [Name removed to protect the innocent]

I would like to say that I have no problems whatsoever but I’m a little unsure, Can you tell me if there is a frequently asked questions section for those who may have forgotten the questions they wanted to ask when logging into your site. I feel that this is a common occurrence but something that has been neglected by your administration there.

This should cover all the available options that could be on someone’s mind when logging into the computer, should it be simple like ‘Does [said website] know the meaning of Life” (Yes but we’re not saying) to the complex “Can you tell me if my computer is on” (Yes but we’re not saying).

I think that until this has been implemented that the frequently asked questions is severely incomplete.

Mister Fine

So this brings me to my point. Does customer service really serve a customer or is it now too much of a buffering tool to make hardworking absentminded people such as myself forget the thoughts they have before they actually want to ask the specific question. Understand?

But even with current frequently asked question sections I personally wonder why I have to answer questions correctly for the help section to know what I want help with. Can’t it intuitively interpret my answers that I’m thinking about fruit and colours to know that I want to look into Volkswagen Beetles with fluffy polyester interiors? Why does it require such specific information without a random assumption that I don’t actually know what I’m talking about. Considering the impression most IT professionals have of technical questions it might not be the best thing to assume.

So my solution to such an issue is to have a government funded body just for getting people working with Frequently Asked Questions and other such Customer Service tools. Maybe call them the Department of Infrastructure for Persons Seething with Technical Issues on Computer Keyboards (DIPSTICK). If we can’t throw some money at some public servants to help us out, what hope is there really to go on in this world.

Still, I should get back to my point on this blog. It had it before, I remembered it halfway through but now it’s gone again.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Here's to the non-recession.

Thanks to the efforts of numerous politicians on both sides of the fence, millions of consumerist instincts (similar to communist instincts only that the colour red has to surround the word sale) and a healthy dose of what the hell just happened; Australia is apparently not going into a recession.

So I feel a whole lot safer personally to know that all those real estate agents who had gone into hiding after inflating house pricing to insurmountable levels are now crawling out from there rocks to bask in the sun with lawyers, reporters and bloggers.

But if you are just looking at the crisp freshness of a brand new contract I recommend you start working on your plans for the economic meltdown. Considering the last major three world slowdowns happened every ten or so years it might be an idea to get ready for the next one(as well as the next 3 epidemics) by laying the ground-work now for a safety net to ensure you retain your job is such complicated times. Here are a few hints to start off.

Whatever your job may be, it has to be a needed and almost exclusive profession. Encourage everyone to use your role where you can but tell everyone it’s a highly dangerous and disgusting job, especially children and teenagers who, in a decade’s time, could possibly land your role for half your wage and twice your quality. Try to break all hopes they have of working in the industry by showing them an image of your office as it will break all false illusions of hope.

The other part is that your industry needs to be kept buoyant in the times of economic downturn. Even if your industry is as niche as a knitted assault rifle cosy for the over 60 year olds it is better to ensure that there is a market and that the market is in dire needs of your product or services. Should you have to illicitly vandalise a few of these products the demand will stay high enough for the demand to outstrip production.

At all times it is good to have a backup job or market in case you are a little too worried. If you’re a manufacturer of a products look for a good second market to drop these items in too as a backup, maybe one that could be seen as being less savoury on first inspection. If you happen to be producing a inflatable pool toys, simply re-box them as military grade pontoons and sell them to Aussie disposals stores. If you happen to be a data entry clerk at a multinational corporation insert your name into another’s teams roll call the instant the word downsizing starts flapping overhead. That way should one or the other team be dropped you’ll get both the redundancy payout and the assurance of your job.

But I’ll stay happy where I am with this recession or lack thereof. I’ve made a nice bunker in the supply room, I have a chain holding me to the desk here and if anyone wants to get me out of my job here, you’re going to have to use a crowbar and an oxy cutter.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The allen key of reliance.

I was recently extremely impressed by the ingenuity and ‘can-do’ attitude(one of those wonderful business terms my old work loved using) of a neighbour of mine recently when he decided to paint his own car. Now, I’m not one to normally talk up the virtues of breathing in litres of toxic chemicals, but truth be told, the job he did was equal, if not better, than most jobs completed by a fully fledged paint monkey at a repair center (please not that we do not condone the hiring of monkeys for painting, only for panel beating). My own surprise was initially compounded by the fact that his entire equipment compliment comprised of a herald sun, a couple of cans of black gloss spray paint and a breathing mask. The fact that it cost him the smallest fraction of a fully fledged paint job in both time and monetary value really made me sit up and take notice.

But can this not be transferred to other jobs that do exist. Can we not look at important everyday jobs such as chemical manufacture, children’s entertainment and submarine tester to save our dollars instead of handing over an unused organ to a dodgy organ store to ensure we get our personal submarine tested?

I think that some jobs can be taken away from these niche markets to save our own pennies. Why hire a person to peel grapes and other food items for you when you can do it yourself for a saving of almost 100%. Have you actually looked at your life to see if there are some jobs you can do yourself.

Personally, I think the car wash industry, with its self service bays has led the way for years and I think that most industries should take a leaf out of their books. Can we walk straight into a dentists surgery sit down in the chair and skewer our gums with a drill without hearing about the attendants newest yacht. Can we walk into a farm and grab a milking cow by it’s udders to get a litre or so instead of all this newfangled milking and processing techniques with the added benefit of mocking city slickers for not understanding country life.

Truth be told, this idea is already in evidence. Ikea has been working on this theory for years and they still seem to be getting bigger, despite the fact that every person who has put together an one of their beds has nervously slept for a few years after for fear that they hadn’t put every bolt into the frame and could now be sleeping on a death-trap in darkened pine.

But anyway, I can see this is the way to live my life from now on. I am saying 'no more reliance on useful industry jobs' and more work by my own two hands.
Well, except for the dishes in the sink.
I think washing is just a little too complicated for me.