28 December 2007

Five months of Blogs!

"advised me to travel from Sydney to Ashfield (approx 15kms) via Broken Hill (approx 1,000kms). Naturally I took the short route...and, wait for it, bus spotting!!!"

At this time of the year most media outlets do a review of the past twelve months for their readers. Well, I thought, why shouldn't I do one too? After all, since I have started writing blogs I have had hits from 37 countries (latest one - Guatemala thanks Rak!). Also, it will act as a nice filler while I get around to writing my next 'proper' blog.

So without further ado, here is my blog review since I started writing them five months ago.

Back in July I started my blog life with an introduction of myself. It is always a great idea to let your audience know a few things about you, the writer. Having said this I am not sure what riveting snippets of information a reader would have gleaned from the twenty facts about myself.

July was also the time when I encountered my first bus ride to nowhere. For some reason the north western suburbs of Sydney can be daunting to get to if you want to catch bus number 610x! This was followed up by my description of my daughters DVD 'the Fairies' which contained Barnaby the Bizzy Buzzy Bee who seemed to be acted by a 96 year old who was missing his zimmer frame!

August came along and the weather got slightly warmer. This month really did have a travel feel to it. My second experience of the bus ride to nowhere lead me to Beaumont Hills, surely Sydney's answer to Stepford! This was followed up by an online direction website who advised me to travel from Sydney to Ashfield (approx 15kms) via Broken Hill (approx 1,000kms). Naturally I took the short route.

Springtime in September was dominated by APEC, as a number of world leaders came to Sydney to discuss economic matters, etc. However, my blogs gave a different version. I intimated that the world leaders were playing scrabulous on Facebook as well as Texas hold 'em poker. Also, the milk monster reared its ugly head for the first time as litres of the white liquid starting disappearing from my fridge. The month was capped off with a flight to London leaving from the non-existent departure gate A47!

For most of October I was in England for family reasons. Despite this I was able to write about the quirkiness of the English (including myself). This incorporated the English love of antique programmes, the weather, the national lottery and, wait for it, bus spotting!!! The last one truly baffled myself. Finally, I flew back from one of the worst airports in the world - Heathrow.

November started with myself suffering from jet lag and the milk monster still in fine form. I had to attend an introduction night for my eldest daughters school for next year. This proved quite an experience as all the parents had to relive their first day at school. Naturally, I couldn't remember anything! As the month started to get warmer so the smell of body odour got stronger. I covered this in one of the blogs also pointing out that all the air-con trains seem to disappear as the weather gets warmer. November was rounded off with a visit to Canberra and the discovery of a public toilet website for the whole of Australia!

So onto December. Early on I became a part owner of an English football club via an online website. All of a sudden I felt important. My $82 was money well spent. I then had an experience with a sleep pod in the city. The only problem with this was that the voice in my headphones kept me from sleeping! Next I was being asked to be the next (back of) head supermodel for an advertising campaign. Naturally I agreed to do this and am awaiting the photo shoot. Finally, my latest blog covered the trials and tribulations of the Secret Santa.

As you can see it's been a fun packed last five months. Feel free to scroll through my blog site to view these stories in their entirety plus a few I haven't mentioned.

Anyway, have a great New Year and I'll be back in 2008 with more fun adventures for you to read!

22 December 2007

Ssshh Secret Santa

"Once the email has been received there is no getting out of participating. It is very much compulsory participation by peer pressure!....I, for one, always break out into a cold sweat when my hand reaches into the hat for that folded piece of paper"

December is the time of year when office workers are faced with a serious challenge. Normally, it can lead to higher stress levels, and even major arguments. You see, it's all to do with a particular December deadline. You know which one I am on about - the Secret Santa (or Kris Kringle) present giving occasion!

In all honesty any work related, or year end deadlines, take second, or even third priority, when it comes to Secret Santa! For the uninitiated out there in Blogland, Secret Santa is where an office worker pulls a name of a co-worker out of a hat and then has to buy them a present up to a certain value. The 'Secret' part comes into it as you are not supposed to reveal who you have bought a present for.

What normally happens is that some bright spark in the office will wake up one November morning, put milk on his or her corn flakes and think to themselves "hmm. I'd better organise the Secret Santa". So off they trundle to work with a spring in their step and a smile on their face.

Meanwhile, all other work colleagues are patiently waiting for that email that will inform them of the Secret Santa guidelines - deadline date and maximum amount to be spent. Once the email has been received there is no getting out of participating. It is very much compulsory participation by peer pressure!

The next step is to pull a name out of a hat. Everyone prays that the name they pull out is one that is easy to buy for. The reason being is that you do not want to buy a present for a newcomer that you do not know, or the nerd who sits in the corner doing the accounts payable and who reads Superman magazines in their lunch break. I, for one, always break out into a cold sweat when my hand reaches into the hat for that folded piece of paper that will reveal my Secret Santa destiny!

Once you have pulled a name out of the hat you will then need to work out what to buy for them. For some it is fairly easy as you will probably know what to get them. The main question in these cases is whether to get a serious or funny present. However, if you do pull out the Accounts Payable nerd then you have a serious problem!

In these cases it has been known for office workers to wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat thinking about what to buy. Over the next few days the buyer of the present will be trying to work out what the office nerd wants. The best way of doing this is to put the nerd under office surveillance. This includes following them at lunchtime as they walk to the local shops. With pen and paper in hand copious notes can be taken as to an appropriate present.

The final thing to do, if you want to have a successful Secret Santa experience, is not to leave everything to the last minute. You will normally find that what you were going to buy as a present is no longer available. You will then be left between choosing the latest Celine Dion album or Elton John's biography!

At last the day arrives and the Secret Santa presents are given out. It is always interesting to see the looks on peoples faces as five office workers all end up with the same Celine Dion cd!!

Sometimes presents are bought with good intentions only for the recipient to accept them with trepidation. A good rule of thumb is to not buy a book that is wrapped in plastic unless you have seen its contents. This recently happened at our Secret Santa experience. Needless to say that the illustrations in this book were not of shoes as the cover sort of indicated!!!

So, always take care and have fun if you are going to have a Secret Santa function at work.

13 December 2007

Am I the next Head Supermodel??

"My reply was very affirmative "oh, cool" I said, wondering what was being planned....I could become the first 'back of the head' supermodel!"

If you are a regular visitor to my blog you will know that I work in the Sydney CBD. What you may not know is that I work out of two offices - lucky me! The main one is the head office which is situated in one of Sydney's tallest buildings. I refer to it as the 'Mothership' and this moniker has nothing to do with the excellent Led Zeppelin compilation of the same name.

The other office is much smaller and located near the north side of Darling Harbour. It's actually an office we share with an eco-friendly tourism company. While it lacks a lot of the facilities and city views of the Mother Ship, it suits our needs well. The staff from the tourism company are great ,and we all have a good time sharing the office, even though the air-con can be cold at times.

Well the other day I walked into the shared kitchen when the COO (Chief Operations Officer) of the tourism company spoke to me and said "Hi, would you please turn around as I need to look at the back of your head"

Now I have received some unusual requests in my time, including being asked to take part in an identity parade for a police case (I declined their warm hearted and kind offer, as I was on holiday at the time - sort of), but to be asked to show the back of my head seemed a tad strange. Naturally my reply was "yes, okay" .

The COO scrutinised my head for what seemed like ages, but in actual fact it was only a few seconds. He then said 'hmm...you will do" By now my mind was racing at the speed of light. What did he mean "you will do"? My reply was very affirmative "oh, cool" I said, wondering what was being planned for the back of my head.

"We want to use the back of your head for one of our photo shoots" said the COO. "huh" was my startled reply. What is he on about? Does he need to change his medication? was my second thought. By now he could see I was totally puzzled.

"Oh, sorry. I should have explained. We need someone of a certain age who is not going bald, and you fit the bill. Do you want to do the shoot?" Naturally I replied "yes" Fortunately my good crop of hair comes from my mothers side. I made a mental note to thank her the next time I rang home.

My mind immediately went into overdrive. Wow, this could be the start of something big. The back of my head will be seen by thousands of people in Australia, and maybe overseas! I could become the first 'back of the head' supermodel! Just think of all the parties that I could be invited to. I could be rubbing shoulders with Brad and Angelina very soon. Maybe I could do the chat show rounds too!

Time will tell if success finds its way to my feet. At present the photo shoot hasn't been arranged. However, I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, if you see any eco-tourism adverts just remember that one of the heads in it may be mine!

07 December 2007

Attack of the Sleep Pods!

"there was no staff around which seemed strange. Maybe they were eaten by the alien looking pods for brunch....I expected tentacles to come down from the ceiling of the pod and attach themselves to my head and suck out all of my memory and then eat my brain"

Working in the Sydney CBD can be a great experience. Even greater than watching Big Brother or Australian Idol on television, and much better than listening to your old Bros or Bon Jovi albums!

There are numerous cafĂ©’s, restaurants and drinking holes in this part of the city for us workers to frequent. Most of them offer a wide range of food and drinks for hungry and thirsty workers to try. Close by is the main shopping strip that revolves around Pitt Street Mall where workers can shop ‘til they drop during their lunch break.

Anyway, one of my co-workers, Caramel – author of the mighty
mentioned that there is a place in Sydney where workers can have a have a twenty minute nap in a sleep pod. Best of all it is free! Well, when I heard the ‘F’ word my ears pricked up!

“Free, what do you mean free?” I asked Caramel. To which I got the rather bemused response “Erm, it doesn’t cost you anything” Okay, I thought, I had better give it a shot. Caramel gave me details of the sleep pod experience and I swiftly accessed the web page and reserved one for a few days ahead.

On the day of the experience I was getting very excited. After all, I am always moaning about the lack of sleep I get, and often feel tired in the afternoon. Maybe the 20 minute nap would help recharge my (Energiser) batteries. If I enjoyed the experience then I could make the sleep pod a part of my regular sleep routine.

My appointment was for 12.30 and I made my way to where the sleep pods were located. Once there I went upstairs and saw three sleep pods awaiting the next customer. Funnily enough, there was no staff around which seemed strange. Maybe they were eaten by the alien looking pods for brunch.

There was a person in one of the sleep pods as I could see their legs sticking out (no idea what had happened to their upper body though!). My first thought was that the sleep pods reminded me of one of those James Bond or science fiction movies where a person is strapped into a seat and they then have this contraption put on their head, and within minutes their mind has been erased, or worse. I rejected this thought and put it down to a lack of coffee for the day.

I picked up an instruction sheet and made my way to an unoccupied sleep pod. I sat in the seat and followed what was required to have a relaxing twenty minutes of sleep time. I had trouble adjusting the level of the seat. The idea was to have your knees raised to the level of your heart. Anyway, after a few attempts I got the correct position. Next was to set the timer for 20 mins, put on the headphones and close the pod.

Lying inside the pod reminded me of what it would be like to have half a gigantic egg shell put over your head. Well that’s what it felt like to me! I expected tentacles to come down from the ceiling of the pod and attach themselves to my head and suck out all of my memory and then eat my brain. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.

A voice started speaking to me via the headphones. Also, new age music was being played in the background. The voice told me that I was going to relax and would enjoy the sleep experience. I started to relax and the music began to have a sleepy affect on me. However, this was interrupted by the voice intermittently telling me how I would be feeling by now. In fact, the voice continued the whole time of my 'sleep'.

Just as I was falling asleep the voice (now really pissing me off!) told me that my sleep experience was coming to a close and I needed to wake up. Fat chance of that, I thought. Within seconds the seat was in the upright position and my twenty minutes was over.

Did I feel less tired? No. Did I feel relaxed? No. Will I be going back? Yes – but with the volume set to zero!

02 December 2007

I am the Boss!

"I was also not sure if Posh Spice is the sort of WAG we want at Ebbsfleet...That was until my 4 year old headbutted me in the stomach, and reality was restored!"

A few weeks ago I was reading one of the free newspapers that you get in Sydney (in fact, there is only one, as the other two freebies are glossy magazines with trashy articles and job vacancies) when I came upon an interesting article.

The article that caught my attention related to a soccer club that the newspaper had become a part owner of. The club in question was called Ebbsfleet United. When I read this my eyes nearly popped out of my head! Luckily they didn't otherwise I'd have lots of trouble writing this blog.

Ebbsfleet United (or Gravesend & Northfleet as they used to be known to us locals) are one of the teams that I have supported since being a youngster. In fact, I was there in October to see the 'Fleet' beat Torquay United 2-1! The other thing that puzzled me was the fact that the newspaper was a part owner of this great Kentish soccer club.

Naturally, I wanted to know more. So when I got home, I logged onto the website http://www.myfootballclub.co.uk/ and found out some details about how to become an owner. Well, within 24 hours I had paid my small fee and had become a co-owner of this soccer club. All co-owners have a say in the running of the club. For example, we can recommend players to buy, sack the manager and even discuss tactics. Better still, we will not be liable for any debt that the 'Fleet' incur!

Following my registration I immediately felt like Roman Abramovich the Russian Billionaire who owns Chelsea. Straight away I got out my old and trusty notebook and started making a list of potential transfers for my club. My mind went to the best players for inspiration. Obviously the goal is to get the 'Fleet' into League 2. To do this we need classy players not just good ones. My pencil started scribing down the name of David Beckham. But no sooner had I written his name I had crossed it out. For starters he would want a huge salary, and he also has too many tattoos! I was also not sure if Posh Spice is the sort of WAG we want at Ebbsfleet.

Next I started thinking about Cristiano Ronaldo. However, he might not be up to the standard required. After all, do we really want a poser, diver and a winker in the team? Certainly not from my point of view. The North Kent accent might be too hard for him to understand as well.

I realised that I had to lower my sights if I was to be more realistic. Certainly there are a lot of good lower grade players who could do the job for us. My mind swiftly thought about recommending my own name. Years ago I was certainly in my prime, but not now. Also, being in Sydney could make the travelling costs too high for the club. For a split second I could dream about being the star signing. That was until my 4 year old headbutted me in the stomach, and reality was restored!

As for manager (now head coach) do we stay with Liam Daish, who has done a great job in the short space of time he has been at the 'Fleet', or do we go for a better named coach? Having seen England fail to qualify for the European Championships I ruled out the name of Steve McClaren! Better stick with Liam for the time being!

Next I started thinking about the ground. Anyone who has visited the ground at Stonebridge Road will know it needs more that a coat of paint if the team are to be successful. My mind was thinking of a 40,000 all seater stadium, but given that the average gate is just over 1,000 then this may have to wait for a few years, or decades!

Anyway, the message I am trying to portray is that being a co-owner of a club gives a person the chance to fulfill a childhood fantasy and be responsible for the running of a soccer club. Yes, I am the boss, and yes, my input into the running of the club is important. I may not be a Russian billionaire, or smoke cigars or even be an ex Prime Minister of Thailand who run successful clubs. What I am now is someone who, to some degree, is an equal to them.

So if you are in Gravesend on a Saturday I implore you to check out my soccer team, Ebbsfleet United. You know it will be worth it. If you aren't into soccer, never mind. There is a statue of Pocahontas (the real one) who is buried at St George's Church (next to the tourist information bureau) that you can visit.

In the meantime, I'll be working on my list of potential players for Ebbsfleet!