Monday, August 23, 2010

Generations of music

Nothing can polarise generations the way music can. I can remember family trips to Sydney where every person in the car wanted to hear something different. Dad wanted Jimmy Buffet; my sister wanted Hanson; mum wanted Elton John, and I was dead set keen on Billy Joel at the time. A truce was called; we would listen to one album each in turn. It was a great idea when it was your turn, but after that, sitting through the next three albums sucked.

When you are young, the old music sucked, and everything new is awesome. The top 100 rocked my world early in high school, but now I could not tell you who is at number one, or even care. It is not that I do not enjoy new music, I have just recently bought a new album, but it is because it all sounds the same in the charts. I distinctively remember the moment when I sounded like my father. It was my second year at uni, I was living away from home and I could not find a bloody thing that I wanted to listen to. It was a sad day indeed; my father had been right, it did sound all the same.

I was afraid that I would be listening to the same music for the rest of my life. My parents love music from their youth. It brings back memories of a more care free time for them, when they had more movement and less tablets. Every now and then they did find something new that they liked, for example Michael Bubble and Savage Garden, but thank God they thought that listening to an Andre Rieu was like being stuck in a smirking elevator for 50 mins.

What I needed was something new, and not the same R&B beats back over with a different singer who is way too talented to hold onto notes (insert sarcasm), but something arty farty new. So I turned over to Triple J, but even the melancholy and all the electro songs they are playing now got to me. I understand, I am getting old, and I have heard it all before.

To fix my need for new music, I am going old, and I am going diverse. Some Tool here, David Bowie there, and then straight back into some Led Zeppelin, The Who. I have rediscovered stuff that can make me think, songs that still can make me dance, and songs that I will never forget the words (Peter Comb, I am looking at you).

So just wait for that fateful day, when you realise that Lady Gag-a is a new Madonna, Fallout Boy is just The Police with a longer fringe, and the new ACDC sound is still the same as the old ACDC sound – just with more wrinkles. All I ask is that you do not look at me weird when I can remember all of the lyrics for any Hanson song. It is a long drive to Sydney after all.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Operation BP

Fencers have to wear a bit of protective equipment. Women in particular have to wear a breast plate, also known as a BP, which looks like the front part of a sports bra made from a solid plastic. Complete with moulded boobs.

At the time, I was the armourer at my fencing club, which basically means I was responsible for the equipment and safety within the venue. One of the female members of our club was going to enter into a competition on a particular weekend, and forgot to pick herself up a BP. Being the armourer and having access to the equipment, she asked if I could pop in on Friday after uni and pick one up. So on Friday I went to the club lockers, grabbed what I thought would be her size, put it in my bag, and went to join my friends in Rundle Mall.

That particular weekend was also the 21st birthday of a female member of our friends group at uni. For reasons that will be left out of this story, we decided that a good present to buy her would be some wine, chocolate, a teddy bear which we could all sign, and then wack a g-string on it. Hilarious I know.

We got the wine, the chocolate, and even the bear after a little hunting and all that was to do was to buy the g-string. My mate Dan and I walked into Target, picked a suitable candidate that would fit the teddy bear, and joined the line at the check-out.

After a lengthy wait, Dan and I were finally served. The check-out chick raised her eye-brow briefly when we handed her the lacy black g-string, but with corporate efficiency she scanned it and placed it in a bag. She asked about Flybys, we said no. Then she asked to check our bags. I put my bag on the checkout and she looked inside. There, unobscured was a pair of plastic boobs starring at her in the face.

She looked at the boobs.

She looked at me.

She looked back at the g-string, then at the boobs, and then back to me.

All I could do is smile and give her a wink.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Whopping big hole

In 2009 I spent a few months commissioning the Prominent Hill mining site outside of Cooper Pedy in the middle of whoop whoop. The camp was only a few kilometres from the plant where we worked so a group of us would walk back on the tracks provided once in a while. Or at least we thought we would because in the great, fly oppressive landscape that is the desert around Prominent Hill, it was very red, very dry, very dusty and fucking hot.

After a particular hot dusty day, a group of us decided that we would finally walk back to camp. It felt like a good idea. We started off towards the tracks but to get there we had walk next to one of the access roads that lead to some of the site offices. At the end of the road we came to a T intersection that connects with the main road back to camp and the walking track was in sight just beyond. A bus came up from behind and stopped at the intersection before us. There was no traffic. We stopped and waited on the side of the road for the bus to pass, but it just sat there at the intersection.

We waited.

It did nothing.

We waited some more.

It did nothing still.

Finally we said “fuck it, let’s cross”.

We crossed the road and on the other side there were 10 or so meters of desert to get through to the walking track. As we stepped off the road the bus, still at the intersection, opened the door and with it came a loud screech.

“Excuse me! Where do you think you’re going!?” we turned around and out from the bus popped a highly wound lady with her hair pulled back way too tight.

“We’re just going to the walking track,” said one of our bravest.

“You can’t walk through there, use the access path.”

“Access path? What fucking access path?”

“Over there,” and where the lady was pointing, we could only see dust and dirt. The lightly painted yellow bars were lost against a sun set lit red desert background. She had to show us.

“Why can’t we just walk across there?” oh how brave the stupid were.

“Because you will ruin the environment” she said silhouetted against a whopping big hole. From behind her the faint smell of chemicals wafting in the breeze without a sense of irony. We pointed said irony out to her, it did not help. “Who do you work for?” she asked. We covered up the logo on our breast pocket and said BHP. Looking less than impressed, she jumped into her bus, and it took off.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I work best when away

In the news this week a report about Generation Y not being as slack as we originally thought was released into the wild. This is good news for me being within the age bracket – it turns out I am not lazy; I just can’t be stuffed. The report looked at statistics with the work life balance in Australia and who it sucks the most for. Turns out, it sucks to be anyone within the community services, professions, and management type roles. Oh wait, I’m in that bracket as well.

Every day is a struggle for me at work. It is not because it is hard, or that it is too easy, but that at times I would rather be standing outside central station asking anybody who walked past if they had some spare change for the train while scratching at my beard. A lot of the time, I suffer from CBF syndrome, and wonder why I got into my field as it is; except when I come back from holiday. The first day back at work after a holiday is the most productive day of my working year. I blow away every bit of work put in front of me out of the water, but the following couple of days, my productivity level starts to decay.

I found that Productivity, P, decays over time relative to how much productivity there was initially, ignoring external stimulus such as corporate piss ups.

Therefore Productivity decays relative to the amount of P initially and therefore modelled like that of radioactive decay


Where P is the Productivity, t is time since holiday, and k is a constant dependent on the work love/hate relationship

Since the derivative of P is proportional to P, mere year 12 maths tells us that P is the form of an exponential function.

i.e. P(t)=e^(kt)

as dP/dt=ke^(kt)=kP(t)

Or as a general solution

i.e. P(t)=ce^(kt)

To solve for c, observing that after a good holiday this year (five sweet weeks)

t_0=0, P(0)=100

therefore P(0)=ce^0=100



To find k, my holiday enthusiasm has a half life of approximately 48 hours. Not as bad as nuclear waste, but shorter than a season of Ladette to Lady. (If it was around a unit of a Spick and Specks season, I would have been a CEO by now.)

P(2 days)=P(172800 secs)=100e^172800k=50


then ln(e^172800k)=ln(1/2)


therefore k=-4.011×10^(-6)

This is ignoring, of course, outside influences that can have an effect on Productivity, like moral for example. By investigating how a different stimulus affects the Productivity equation, managers would be able to find an optimum balance of work and holiday regardless of annual leave.

Everyone would save money and time, and I might be able to go to sleep without grinding my teeth. But do you think managers would give me that time off? Not on your life, so now the only option is for me to find a job where I can get paid for something I love to do.

People talk about when they start making enough money from their hobbies that they suddenly start getting "paid for something they love to do". At the end of the day, whenever something becomes a fulltime job, when you are forced to sit down and work, when the wellbeing of your family depends upon you, it becomes a burden. And that thing you once loved to do is full time job 2.0.

This is why I always take a poo at the office outside the designated break times, because that way it’s doing something that I love and I’m getting paid. Not only that, I end up saving (wait for the pun...) a butt load (zing) of money for using someone else's toilet paper.