Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Another business proposal

My new ambition is to make plastic owls a thing of the past.  Our grandchildren will one day be rummaging through the attic and will find an artificial owl and they'll say, "Why on earth would you buy something like this?", and we'll say, "We bought it to stop pigeons shitting on our cars", and our grandchildren will say, "But why didn't you just use PTR's All-Natural Method For The Repulsion Of Pigeons(tm)?"

And you - YOU, Dear Reader - will be able to say that you got in on the ground floor.

Here's how it goes.  At the moment, if the pigeons keep shitting on your car, you buy a plastic owl and stick it on the roof of your garage.  "Holy shit!", the pigeons think. "I don't want to get eaten by an owl. I'm off!"  And they leave.  But eventually even a pigeon will realize that the owls never move.  They clue in to the owl being fake, and come back in even greater numbers.  It'll be like that Alfred Hitchcock film, "The Pigeons That Kept Shitting On My Car".

So my initial plan was to instead attach a plastic pigeon to the roof of your garage.  The owls would see it, and come to attack it.  The real pigeons would then see the owls attacking the fake pigeon and think, "Holy shit! I don't want to get eaten by an owl. I'm off!"  And they would leave.

The problem with this plan is that:
  1. owls are smarter than pigeons, and
  2. it's a lot easier to realize that something is plastic when you're trying to eat it than when you're trying to hide from it.
So my revised plan, now known as PTR's All-Natural Method For The Repulson Of Pigeons(tm), is to sprinkle bird seed on the roof of your garage.  Real bird seed, not plastic, in case you're wondering.  The (real) pigeons come to eat the (real) bird seed, the (real) owls come to eat the (real) pigeons, and the (real) pigeons think, "Holy shit! I don't want to get eaten by an owl. I'm off!"  And they leave.

Who's interested?  I need seed capital.

Monday, February 24, 2014


So you have you ever taken risperidone? 





I tried marzipan once.  I got it from a friend. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I took my merchandise up to the shop counter.  The sales assistant took it from me, peered at it, peered back at me, looked me up and down, and said, "Are you sure you really want King-size?"

I'll never buy socks from them again.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dis-Organisation part 2

In the previous episode our hero found himself without a job, with the end of the year fast approaching...

Whereupon he got an unsolicited email revealing that he had inherited millions of dollars from a previously unheard-of distant relative in Nigeria - no wait - different story. 

Whereupon he got an unsolicited email from the administrator of a training program for junior doctors asking him if he would like to take part. (Ok I'm not going to write this whole damn thing in the 3rd person - get ready for an illeism purge - yoink!)

So I got an email from the people running this training program asking if I'd like a job. As with my experience at the end of 2012, I have no idea how they got hold of my details or why they chose me, but when someone offers to give you money to buy candy, you say YES!

I was told that they would be having interviews in a couple of weeks, but a couple of weeks later I hadn't heard anything, so I shot an email off to the person who had contacted me, asking wassappnin? And I got back an autoreply saying she didn't do that job anymore.  Uh oh.  I contacted the person who had taken over from her, and he had never heard of me.  Furthermore, they were interviewing candidates in a few days.

Somehow I cajoled him into adding me to the interview list, rocked up to the interview, told a bunch of outrageous lies and half-truths, wept shamelessly while pleading for mercy, and got the job!

I had a friend a while back who was doing some recruitment for the public service for a largish group of people to get involved in a special project. She had had to take over the job from someone else halfway through, who had already sorted the applicants into PROBABLEs and OVER-MY-DEAD-BODYs.  So she took the PROBABLEs and proceeded to offer them jobs and train them and send them off to do their work, all the while thinking to herself, "Boy these people are idiots.  I'd hate to see the ones who were rejected."  At some point she began to get the same feeling of dawning realisation that you may be experiencing even now, and pulled the rejected candidates' paperwork from archives, only to find that they were highly qualified, motivated and intelligent people who would have been great for the job, and she realized that she had gotten the two piles of applications mixed up and had given jobs to the OVER-MY-DEAD-BODYs.

So it goes to show - never give up. No matter how shambolic the recruitment process, no matter how unqualified you are, you can always shoulder your way onto the payroll if you have persistence.

Unless you actually are qualified and good at the job with plenty of relevant experience.  Then you're fucked.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Et two sandwiches?

At another cafe near my house, the general air is that it's a hang-out for the retired and impaired.  There is nothing cool or stylish about it, but it's clean, new, and well-maintained with an atmosphere best described as "home-made v clinical".  But that's not why I go there.

I go there because I can get a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich and a coffee for $6.90.  I've been there 2 or 3 times per week in the last few months, just to sit down and read the paper and forget my woes.  The guy who runs it is a bit bumbling but nice, and eventually learned what my "regular" order was just in time for me to stop going there because I got a new job.

When it was time to leave I would sit there reading, covertly watching him out of the corner of my eye, until he was busy with another customer.  Then I would briskly get up and with a wave and shout of "See you later!", I would bolt for the door while avoiding eye contact.  Strange behaviour, I know, but if I didn't do this I would be trapped in a deadly escalation of farewells.

This is what would happen - every time I would say goodbye he would come back at me with another goodbye.  He would ALWAYS have the last word.  Which is fine - I can deal with that - but then he'd throw in another zinger to which I would have to respond.  He had an enormous arsenal of valedictory phrases to assault me with.  Example:

Thanks very much, bye!

You're welcome!
Have a great day!

Thanks, you too.

I will.
Thanks for coming.

Ha ha, no worries.

Yep, no worries.
Take it easy!

You too.

Too easy!
See you next time!

If we do meet again, we'll smile indeed;
If not, 'tis true this parting was well made

Why, then, lead on. O, that a man might know
The end of this day's business ere it come!
But it sufficeth that the day will end,
And then the end is known. Come, ho! away!


I just have this nagging feeling that it's not going to end well...

Did you say "long black"?

There's a little coffee shop by a park near my house. They have a little chalkboard out by the road, with messages upon it to entice in the weary motorists.  It will usually say something like,
"Try Rhys's famous soup!"
"Fresh muffins!"
"Free wi-fi"
"Cool inside".

Recently I drove by and it said, (and I am not making this up, not even a little bit)
"Friday - my favourite F-word".
I really really wanted to go in and order a cup of my favourite C-word.  But I didn't because it's a nice little cafe that I like to take the Hatchling to and I didn't want to spoil it by acting all creepy.

Friday, February 7, 2014


I heard a great song the other day.  It went something like this:





[Repeat ad nauseum with verbs or onomatopoeia of your choice]
Really great lyric writing like that can just connect you to a higher plane.  Especially when you hear it coming from the back seat of your car for about 45 minutes non-stop as you drive along a long, straight, wilderness road while your Smaller Half snoozes in the passenger seat.

What a trip!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I've gone viral

At the moment, I'm working in a position where I am supposed to move around to different places depending on who is away - a lot like a relief teacher.  If one of my Esteemed Colleagues goes on leave for a week, I take over their job for that time.  Sometimes the job lasts a few days, sometimes for months.

Being an organized, control-freaky kind of guy, I thought it would be nice to know how long I would be working in my current position before having to move somewhere else.  This has important ramifications for my planning of various activities such as stealing stationery, staking out a claim to a good desk, whether or not it's worth maintaining my personal hygiene, and so on.

So I emailed my boss and asked how long I would be there for.  I was told to ask her boss.  So I did, and I cc-ed admin so they would get the answer. And her boss told me I should have asked my boss, and cc-ed admin, my boss, and the director of training.

The director of training then responded to all of the above, and added in my boss's boss's boss, and that person's boss for good measure.  This then got forwarded to another big big boss, who then responded to everyone and also included twenty-three other people in the distribution list, including 12 big big bosses.

Then my boss emailed just me, repeating the information.  Then she emailed me, her boss, admin, head of training, the big big boss and the big big boss letting them know that she planned to answer my question and in fact proceeded to do so in the same email (presumably for the sake of efficiency).

Just in case that's not clear, I've prepared a diagram.  Time flows downward, each email is indicated by a red line.  For the sake of brevity, I have grouped all 23 people emailed by the other big big boss into one column, since they themselves didn't send any further emails themselves.
If you've ever wondered why waiting times at hospitals are so long, or wondered why the health budget consumes approximately 600% of available revenues, here's at least one answer. It takes more than fifty emails for me to find out whether I should shave today.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dis-Organisation part 1

So, once again, I found myself without a job. This happened after internship, as I have previously documented.

Once again I applied for a year of general training. And once again I crashed and burned - worse, this time, because I wasn't even deemed worthy of interviewing by ANY of the hospitals I applied to. This perplexed me. I don't wish to cast aspersions on my colleagues, but there's some fucking numbnuts out there that seem to have no difficulty at all getting jobs despite presenting a clear and present danger to the lives of their patients and the mental health of their cow-orkers.

So I rang up the hospital to find out what was going on. They told me that I wasn't ranked high enough for interview; I asked why. They said that my aggregate score was not high enough; I asked which scores. They said that my referee reports were very good, my CV was very good, but my cover letter was only average. Well excuse me.

Apparently the cover letter, or to be more accurate, the assessment of the cover letter by an embittered HR manager, is just as important a predictor of success as a doctor as the opinions of said doctor's actual supervisors and their previous record of achievement.


Admittedly, I have nobody but myself to blame. Labouring under the delusion that recruitment would be a rational process, my cover letter basically said something like:

"Dear Hospital, give me a job. I don't want anything special, just don't screw up my paychecks too egregiously. Sincerely, PTR. p.s. I am not a numbnut".
And presumably they get a lot of cover letters like that because this was assessed as average.

I'm unsure precisely how one would write an above average (or even exceptional) cover letter. I suppose a below average one would contain errors of fact, spelling, grammar, and so forth. I could get the Hatchling to dictate mine:

"Dear Hossabil, I am a goktor. Do you want moneys? I want moneys. I give you a cuddle. ROOOAAAAR!! No, you not roar. I roar. Sincerely, PTR"
Hmm, that's actually pretty good. Perhaps that would actually be assessed as Exceptional. I don't wish to cast aspersions on the cognitive capacity of the typical embittered HR manager, but they don't seem like the fluffiest pavs on the table. But to be honest, given the aggressively proactive manner in which some of my colleagues promote their own career interests, I suspect the Exceptional cover letters read like this:

"Dear Hospital, any o' you sumbitches don't gimme a job, I'm not only gonna kill him, I'll kill his wife, all his friends, and burn his damn house down! Sincerely, PTR"*
If I was an embittered HR manager wishing to perpetuate the employment of antisocial personality types in the public hospital system, I would cry from happiness when I got a letter like that. Seriously, try it yourself next time.

So - that's the story of how I came to not have a job. Next - the story of how I came to have one again (or so it seems).

*With apologies for plagiarisation to the writers of Unforgiven.