Terrible mistake

I have made a terrible mistake. I have screwed up mightily. I have jeopardised the entire nation’s future, and placed future generations at risk. I have filled in the Census form a week too early.

I should have read it properly. I got as far as reading that it had to be filled in on Tuesday… so I naturally assumed (or should that be stupidly assumed) that it would be the Tuesday after the form was delivered.

Hopefully it will be okay. In the past week, nobody has left the dwelling. The dwelling’s rent hasn’t changed. My pay hasn’t shot up (or down). Nobody’s switched religions. I think we’re gonna be all right. Thankfully I didn’t sign and date it yet.

Oops, the bit about how I got to work will be wrong. That is, of course, unless I (a) abandon my new commute on Tuesday morning, or (b) correct my entry.

Naturally, the privacy groups were on the telly yesterday – whingeing about infringing. Infringement of privacy that is. Sometimes I get the feeling that them and the Civil Liberties people don’t really have anything serious to complain about.


I’m not normally the biggest sports fan around, but the Olympics has got me interested. It’s not been hard to get interested in the last few days, with Australia picking up swags of medals. Makes up for the pathetic performance of the first few days. Now as of the time of writing we’re ranking seventh in the world (yesterday we got as high as fifth) – which I think is pretty damn good for a pissy little country of 18 million people. At least now we’re beating Belgium.

Actually, it’s interesting how the medal tally listed on the evening news showed the top six yesterday, but now we’ve fallen to seventh seems to show the top seven.

Channel 7 will be pleased. At last their almost xenophobic coverage, giving anything in which an Australian is mentioned priority over just about anything else, is paying off. Every medal ceremony with an Aussie is shown live, of course. But it’s probably the same in every country. And it works – it brings a lump to the throat as Advance Australia Fair pumps over the PA in Atlanta while the flag slowly ascends.

Don’t you love when your country’s about to win gold, and the two commentators start shouting over each other in an effort to be the one heard on all the news reports that night? And presumably they hope to be The Voice on the archive footage for years to come.

The one gold medal that’s really captured the headlines was Kieran "I write my name on my milk" Perkins, who won the 1500 metres freestyle. (I presume that’s swimming.) The TV and newspapers have gone Keiren-mad. I think it’s gone a bit too far. We may have a bit of a Keiran surplus. The nation may be a little Perkined-out by now.

In fact, I distinctly heard Sandy Roberts say that Kieren had "the heart of Phar Lap" – a phrase that H.G. used jokingly on Club Buggery a few weeks ago. Of course, there’s no real evidence that KP has had the great horse’s heart transplanted into him. If he had, we’d be shouting more about our medical technology than sporting prowess.

Probably by now everyone outside Australia is wondering if I’ll mention any other countries. Yep. I can’t go past the efforts of the mother-country, Great Britain. They’re not exactly blitzing the competition, are they? How are the Poms ranking? 26th? Just above Moldavia or someone? What the hell’s going on? Two medals?! What happened to Rule Britannia?

It’s just as well the economic rationalists haven’t got to the Olympic teams. What if they were to look at medal/participant ratios? They might decide it wasn’t worth sending a whole hockey team for a chance at winning only one medal – it’s better value to send more swimmers or runners.

No sign of an Olympic song this time round. Or maybe I’ve just been incredibly lucky at avoiding it. Or maybe I have heard it, but I thought it was just another obscure Optus or McDonald’s commercial with a world togetherness theme and a massacred John Lennon tune?

I remember Barcelona’s song, though I wish I didn’t. I don’t remember what the songs were for LA or Seoul… the one I do remember is Moscow’s in 1980. Now that was an Olympic song that captured some of the culture of the host country! And Kossack dancers in the video clip, if I remember rightly! What will it be for Sydney 2000? Rolf? Oils? Yothu Yindi? Daryl? Jack? Drag out an old tape of Peter Allen or Skyhooks? Who knows.

I’m still coming to the terms of the idea of Beach Volleyball as an Olympic sport. I mean beach volleyball? Do they play it on a real beach, or an artificial, astro-sand one? Maybe there’s room for other beach activities at the Games. Olympic paddling. Olympic sunbaking. Olympic sand-castle building?

Office re-organisation

Another office re-organisation looms at work. It means I’ll sit at the fourth – or is it fifth – desk in less than two years. Even now I can see the high level managers in a boardroom somewhere with a chess board-like diagram of the building, moving pieces around, deciding which departments move to other sites.

The actual move doesn’t happen for another couple of weeks, but it’s important that everyone knows in advance so they can worry about whether or not they’ll end up sitting next to anybody with whom they have a severe personality clash.

Not that there’s many people who hate each others’ guts on our project team. (Maybe "hate each others’ guts" is too strong – let’s just say "dislike each others’ mannerisms"). While there are always some disagreements and stress in any group of about thirty people who are facing almost continual collective looming deadlines, nobody has, for example, felt strongly enough to code the office layout in Doom. Yet.

Actually, I work with a group of incredibly skilled people, who would never dream of getting into petty squabbles. They use their vast knowledge and teamwork to continually whap deadlines squarely on the head whenever they arise. I learn from and value every hour that I work with these highly experienced professionals. (Yep, some of them will be reading this, did you guess?)

There are important things to consider when Those In Charge decide who sits where. They have to look at who works with whom, who needs extra work space, and who’s been working here the longest and deserves the best view from the window.

As it happens, we’re moving into a larger area, so everybody gets more desk space – that is, more horizontal surfaces on which to scatter papers chaotically. And just about everyone gets glorious views of St Kilda Road ahem oops, St Kilda Boulevard, which seems to be important sometimes, even if you do spend 95% of your time staring into your monitor. And most of the other 5% in meeting rooms with little or no natural light.

(St Kilda Road hasn’t made the big name change yet, but it’ll be soon. It’s all part of a bid by the government to make it sound more impressive. Does Boulevard sound more impressive than Road? Will the name change involve improving the Road itself? I suspect not, apart from new street signs.)

So all looks well for when we move. There’ll be the usual disruption as the mass shift of computers, books, files, office furniture and assorted other junk makes it across the building, but when it’s all over we’ll be in a more spacious, nicer working environment. As a workmate commented, all we’ll need now is a flying fox down to the tram stop on the corner.

See also: Toxic Custard Guide to Life In The Office

Writing to the rellies

Writing letters to relatives can be a chore. It depends on the relative of course, but occasionally you can be stuck for something to say. "What can I mention to Aunt Netty… no, she wouldn’t understand any of that… that would give her a heart attack… and if I mention that she’ll be writing back to let me know her half of the family has disowned me and removed me from all their wills."

And what makes it doubly difficult is when using an Aerogramme. It is a sin (in fact I think it might be the eleventh commandment) not to use all the space in an Aerogramme. You wanna write less, it’s got to be a postcard or you spend the extra money on a real letter with small notepaper, so you don’t have to fill it up.

There is, fortunately, a backup topic that can be used in times of emergencies. Everyone knows it’s only used when you run out of things to write about, but etiquette demands that this is politely ignored.

That topic is the weather. Statistics by the Toxic Faculty of Correspondence indicate that 93% of Aerogrammes sent contain information about the weather. This can vary from a simple "We’ve had a lot of rain recently" that actually serves to spur the author on to a related, bolder, more interesting topic, to a full paragraph that contains every little detail about the amount of rain, the type of rain drops falling, comparing it to last year, other months, other cities, other countries.

So when you’re stuck with another fold of the Aerogramme to go, talk about the weather.