Monthly Archives: March 2009

In The Dark

Mood: Huh?

I was caught in the middle of the CBD blackout today. Not a fun way to end the day, but in a sense, it was an apt conclusion to what had been a dark day.

Earlier in the day, I had been tasked with a horrendous task of pulling together some stats for my manager, who was asked by the Minister to confirm the figures before publishing them to the public. R, my manager, had been given a set of figures by my predecessor Ms Evil, and they represented the good work that the unit had done over the last 3 years. As these figures were about to go public, R wanted to be sure they were correct before they were published by the Minister.

Even though Ms Evil wasn’t exactly the nicest person to deal with, there were no reasons to doubt her work. No one said anything bad about her work – it was her attitude towards others that everyone had a problem with. That was, until today.

When R asked me to double check the figures, I thought it would be a relatively easy task. I was to be proven very very wrong.

I spent all afternoon trying to match up her figures. I used every trick in the book to try to come up with the stats that she had given to R. I even sought assistance from the internet to make sure I was using the correct formulae in the Excel spreadsheet. 5 straight hours later, and I was no closer to reconciling her figures with what I was coming up with.

I have no idea where the figures have been extrapolated from, or how they were extrapolated. All I know was that the glowing report that R had originally passed on to the Minister was now looking not so good. The success rate R had reported was significantly lower according to my figures, and there was going to be a lot of explaining if my figures prove to be correct.

No one from my unit wants to deal with Ms Evil again. R and I have both made it clear that we don’t want to involve Ms Evil in our work going forward, and L (the junior in my team) has also said she is reluctant to deal with Ms Evil again. But it seems we may not have any choice – we are completely in the dark as to how she came up with her stats, and we need to resolve the problem now.

R said he would speak to Ms Evil in the morning to find out where she got the figures from and there was no need for me to deal with her. I gratefully agreed he would be the better candidate for the job – I know he would employ much more diplomacy than I could muster. Right now, I just want to throttle her.

Just before 5pm, I had almost finalised my figures when the building plunged into darkness. If I thought I was the dark earlier, I was now totally in the dark, literally.

The silver lining from this mess is that R and I are developing a great working relationship. And I have a good ally in L, who I want to protect from Ms Evil if she flies off her handle at L again – I’ve seen Ms Evil lose it at L once (and L had nothing do with the problem), and I never ever want L to experience that again.

Walking out of the office building this afternoon, I was confronted with chaos with all the traffic lights out of order. In a way, I was glad I had to think about keeping myself safe as I crossed the streets on my way to the bus stop – it made me temporarily forget the potential stink that will hit the fans in the morning!

LIGHTS BACK ON AFTER SYDNEY BLACKOUT
By Rhett Watson, The Daily Telegraph
March 30, 2009 06:45pm

Power and lights have been restored to Sydney’s CBD and eastern suburbs after a power failure played havoc with Sydney offices, ATMs and traffic.

Lights came on in Bondi and Darlinghurst at 6.25pm and were back on in Surry Hills and the city a short time later.

Energy Australia said there had been a fault that had hit four major cables which supply two sub-stations in the city at about 4.45pm.

Investigations later isolated the problem to one of the major cables and the other three were then used to get the power back on throughout central Sydney.

The power short caused hundreds of traffic lights to blackout creating a traffic disaster for commuters on their trip home.

Sydney Opera House was forced to cancel all performances for tonight.

More than 70,000 homes and businesses were affected and without power for over two hours during the blackout. The Sydney Harbour Tunnel and Eastern Distributor were closed.

Officials had estimated it could take until 9pm to fix the problem but were able to restore power just before 7pm.

Earlier one person was trapped in a lift in state parliament for about an hour until the carriage could be wound from the 7th to the 12th floor and opened.

Security could not confirm who was inside, except to say it was not the Premier.

Fire brigade officials were reporting alarms going off in buildings, causing confusion and fear. In the CBD’s Australia Square hundreds of workers were asked to leave the premises before they risked being plunged into darkness. Police were trying to send SMS alerts to city workers.

"Lots of buildings were evacuated,” one person leaving Australia Square said.

"Traffic lights were out across George Street causing traffic dramas everywhere."

One bureaucrat quipped that the "government has forgotten to pay its power bills".

The blackout extended from the Circular Quay to the city out to Redfern and Chippendale. Eastern beach suburbs such as Coogee, Dover Heights and Bondi also reported power losses, plus Paddington, Rose Bay and Darlinghurst as well as parts of the inner west.

Businesses only 20m apart were affected differently.

The Martin Place Bar was doing a roaring trade with the business types seeking refuge while the Lindt Cafe on the other side of Elizabeth Street on Martin Place is dark and practically empty.

"We have no idea why our lights are on but it’s certainly helped business," one bartender said.

An EnergyAustralia spokeswoman later told Macquarie Radio sections of the network had automatically shut down to protect itself.

"Until we can pinpoint the exact problem we can’t begin to restore power safely … so we will complete all our rigorous testing before we begin to restore power," she said when the blackout first happened.

"We don’t know what it is at this stage … the system is shutting down automatically to protect itself,"

The Roads and Traffic Authority said up to 100 sets of traffic lights were not working in the CBD and inner-eastern suburbs, while the harbour tunnel would remain closed until power was restored to its essential safety systems.

Sydney Ferries and CityRail are operating as normal.

A Sydney Opera House spokeswoman said Monday night’s performances by the Sydney Theatre Company and Bell Shakespeare had to be cancelled, with the iconic venue running on back-up power.

A NSW Fire Brigades spokesman described the situation as "bedlam".

"We’ve had multiple lift rescues in the city and in Darlinghurst and Redfern," he told AAP.

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Ms Evil

Mood: Peeved

I find people amazing. Everyone is different, and fortunately for me, the people who play big parts in my life are truly amazing, in that they are wonderful, caring, considerate, loyal and honest. The same can’t be said for a lot of other people I’ve ever met in my lifetime, and this week, I met a horrible piece of work.

Let’s call her Ms Evil, because she thinks she is so clever in her quest for world domination.

I met Ms Evil last week, after I was told I would be replacing her in the job that I am now in. Ms Evil was lovely then, nice as nice can be and said so many nice things. I had heard she was a bit of a troublemaker, but had given her the benefit of the doubt as we were still to spend time together.

Monday this week was the start of the training / handover from Ms Evil to me. Right from the start, she was hot and cold, saying nice things and then saying something not so nice to counteract the first comment. Or she would say something that wasn’t so nice and then covering up the cattiness by saying something nice. I didn’t know what to make of it, and decided not to play her games. I just wanted the handover and the training to be done so I can get on with my new job.

Ms Evil was full of questions, and a lot of them were of the personal nature. I was already a bit antsy with her, but decided not to rock the boat too much and answered her with as few details as I could get away with. Oh how I wish I had just told her nothing, as what I said to her would later come back to haunt me.

By 2pm on Monday, I was confident that I had sufficient training to do my job. It’s really isn’t brain surgery, and what Ms Evil had been doing in that role was stuff that I had done in the past. Nothing out of the ordinary and no red flags anywhere, so I readily agreed to being dispatched to my new office to meet my new team and actually get on with the work.

I spent the rest of Monday afternoon working with my team, collating documents for the weekly meeting. Ms Evil was going to be in and out of meetings all afternoon, for which I was glad as it gave me a chance to get use to my new job on my own as well as getting to know my team.

Turned out the meetings Ms Evil was attending came about due to some performance issues.

Ms Evil was undoubtedly a capable and knowledgeable worker. There was never any real question about the work she produced. But there were a load of issues with her people skills as well as management skills. And she played stupid games to try and get the sympathy vote. All in all, no one liked her and no one wanted to work with her.

From what I’d heard, and the little I saw, I had a good idea what she was like as a colleague – a right royal nightmare. She would yell at people, because she could. She would blame others for everything that went wrong, because she could. She would use the race / sex / age card to make herself look sad / small / better, because she could. And she would twist words and stories around to suit her needs, because she could. To say the least, she was not someone I wanted to have a lot of contact with, let alone work with.

All this week, Ms Evil was called to many meetings with HR as part of her performance management regime. From what I’ve heard, Ms Evil had upset so many people that she now has to undergo performance management, with a view to being phased out of the Department. Yeah, you could say she was in a world of trouble.

Ms Evil has been busily defending herself in these meetings, blaming anyone and everyone indiscriminately, and pulling the race and sex and age cards when there were no one else to blame and she was grasping at straws. Skating on thin ice already, she said things like "I have to fight so much harder to be recognised because of my race” and “I have to speak so much louder to be heard because I’m a female in a male dominated environment”. And the best one: “no one takes me seriously because I’m so young”.

The Government is not an organisation one would ever accuse of discrimination when it comes to employment. There are too many policies in place to prevent any kind of discrimination. Even so, to accuse any employer of discrimination is a huge deal, one that should never be used lightly. And yet, here she was, accusing her bosses of discrimination. Is she stupid or what?

Ms Evil had expressed a desire to stay in the Department and build a career. But what she is doing will see her out on her massive butt faster than one can say “your services are no longer required”. And believe me when I tell you she will not be missed.

Although I have only spent a total of 12 hours with Ms Evil, she had already tried to tarnish my reputation and burn me in that short space of time. Throughout the handover, I felt she was holding back on sharing the full picture with me, and I voiced my concerns when I was asked how the training was going on Tuesday morning. Almost immediately, she was told in no uncertain terms to handover everything, and she begrudgingly did so, but not before throwing a few choice words my way.

Thankfully, my team has been great in showing me what I need to know to do my job. I really didn’t need Ms Evil to do the handover – my team knew I was coming and they were prepared with a better training programme than the one Ms Evil haphazardly pulled together. And best news of all was being told yesterday afternoon that I will never have to deal with Ms Evil again.

But that is not the end of the story. There was still one stink bomb to come.

This morning, Dee called me with some not so happy news. For the past couple of weeks, Dee had been performance managing Ms Evil and quickly become fed up with Ms Evil’s antics. Dee had been in enough meetings about Ms Evil’s performance issues to last a lifetime, and the latest stink bomb was just about the last straw. According to Dee, Ms Evil told HR in one of their many meetings that Dee and I were related, and nepotism was how I got the job. It took me a while to work out what conversation Ms Evil had twisted, and then it came to me – she asked me on Monday how I knew Dee, and I told her Dee and I had met a few weeks ago through my best friend Suz, who was like family to me.

Dee was told by HR of this latest lie, and was assured by HR that neither Dee nor I were in trouble; Dee for hiring me and me for working for the Department. But so Dee was aware, Ms Evil was still spinning yarns and asked Dee to be more discrete while at work. The solution was not one everyone was happy with, but it was the only way to stop Ms Evil from spinning more yarns. Dee and I now can’t be seen together, and if we are, we can’t be seen to be too friendly. And I have to stop having lunch with Dee and my new friends M and F for now.

Stupid woman. Because no one likes her, and no one wants to be friends with her, Ms Evil became jealous of the fast friendships I had made in the short time I’d been there. She had no one to have lunch with, to share a laugh with, to sit and have a chat with, without the person she’d approached rolling their eyes at her. Yes, I saw the eye-rolling when she took me around for introductions on Monday, and there was plenty of eye-rolling. I really resent that I have to be strangers to my friends, but at least I can still email them. They are just as upset about the whole thing as me, which is comforting.

Oh how I wish I could tell Ms Evil to piss off. If she knows what’s good for her, she will stay well and truly away from me. Grrrrr!

A Little List

Mood: Smiling

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these lists. But lately on FB, everyone has been doing lists and then tagging a bunch of their friends so people can see the answers to the questions. Because it’s been a while, I thought I’d indulge the little tiny part of me that likes doing these memes. Below was “borrowed” from Kirsten from her FB page.

1. If your doctor told you today that you were pregnant, what would you say?
“How many are there?” or “Oh, we’re a little bit ahead of schedule.”

2. Do you trust all of your friends?
Yes. If I didn’t trust them, then they wouldn’t be my friends.

3. Would you move to another state or country to be with the one you love?
Definitely.

4. Do you believe that everything happens for a reason?
Yes – definitely!

5. Can you make a dollar in change right now?
I think so. Can’t remember what is in my wallet.

6. Which one of your friends do you think would make the best doctor?
Lissy – she is even better than a doctor – she’s a super nurse!

7. Are you afraid of falling in love?
Not any more.

8. Question was missing from the list.

9. Is there someone / something who pops into your mind at random times?
All the time.

10. What’s your most favourite scar?
The one on my belly – my appendix scar from my operation at the age of 5.

11. When was the last time you flew in a plane?
September 2007.

12. What did the last text message you sent say?
It was a message to my sister trying to see if she was feeling better – she’s been quite run down lately.

13. What features do you find most attractive in the preferred sex?
His eyes and his smile – if they match, then he is one genuine guy.

14. Fill in the blank. I love: my gorgeous man J.

15. What is a goal you would like to accomplish in the near future?
A permanent job.

16. If you were to wake up from being in a coma for an extended time who would you call?
My parents, then J.

17. How many kids do you want to have?
2 – if I can arrange it, fraternal twins of one boy and one girl, and the boy would be born first.

18. Would you make a good parent?
I hope so – I’ve been told I would.

19. Where was your FB profile picture taken?
2008 Redkite Electric Blue Charity Ball.

20. What’s your middle name?
It means “Beautiful Pearl”.

21. Honestly, what’s on your mind right now?
Nothing – absolutely nothing – except completing this list.

22. If you could go back in time and change something, what would it be?
I would say goodbye to my maternal grandparents. I never felt I got to say a proper farewell to them before they passed away.

23. Who was or will be the maid of honour / best man in your wedding?
Suz – she will be my matron of honour.

24. What are you wearing right now?
An old T-shirt that says “More Of What You Like” across my chest, and Tweety pyjama pants.

25. Righty or Lefty?
Righty.

26. Best place to eat?
I have some favourite restaurants, but it really does depend on what cuisine I feel like.

27. Favorite jeans?
The ones that make my legs look slim and my bum look small.

28. Favorite animal?
A King Charles Cavalier puppy.

29. Favorite juice?
I love all juices.

30. Have you had the chicken pox?
Never – and I’m scared that I will come down with it when I’m pregnant.

31. Have you had a sore throat?
Yes, but thankfully not recently.

32. Ever had a bar fight?
Yes. I won.

33. Who knows you the best?
My parents.

34. Shoe size?
Anywhere between 5.5 and 7, depending on the shoemaker.

35. Do you wear contact lenses or glasses?
Yes.

36. Ever been in a fight with your pet?
Yes. It wasn’t pretty.

37. Been to Mexico?
Not yet.

38. Did you buy something today?
Yes – a newspaper and ingredients for dinner.

39. Did you get sick today?
No – but I did get sick and tired of someone treating me like an idiot and playing stupid mind games.

40. Do you miss someone today?
Yes.

41. Did you get in a fight with someone today?
I wanted to slap someone down.

42. When is the last time you had a massage?
A couple of weeks ago.

43. Last person to lay in your bed?
Me and J.

44. Last person to see you cry?
J. I think. Could have been my family.

45. Who made you cry?
No one. I guess I did. I was just crying because I was sad about not having a job.

46. What was the last TV show you watched?
Desperate Housewives.

47. What are your plans for the weekend?
Too early to tell – but I know there will be some time spent with J and M.

48. Who do you think will return this?
No one.

49. Who was the last person you hung out with?
J.

50. If your significant other asked you to marry them TODAY what would you say?
“OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG” followed by “YES YES YES YES YES YES YES” surrounded by a whole bunch of tears and cuddles and kisses.

I’m A Public Servant!

Mood: A-Ok

I have a job!

Really. Truly. Finally. I have a job!!!

My beautiful friend Dee had worked really hard batting for me in these past few weeks. First, she got me in the door to cover for someone who was on secondment. The secondment period was only 2 weeks, and as we drew towards the end of the period (being this Friday), Dee somehow managed to get me another role in a different division. And this role is an ongoing one with no end date, and a lot more money!

Love this girl!!! Love her work!!!

Such a shame all those recruiters from all those recruitment agencies didn’t feel they needed to work as hard for me as my friend did.

Doesn’t matter now. I’m well and truly in the Public Service door and the only way is up from here. And to be promoted to a more senior role in just 2 weeks has got to say something about my skills, right?

Dee mentioned a few things that were of interest. Now that I’m working for the Government, albeit as a contractor, there is nothing stopping me from applying for any permanent roles that may pop up from time to time.

Dee also mentioned that the role I’m going into from next Monday may well be made permanent in the near future. And as I’ll be the incumbent, I’ll more than likely be helping to write the job description, and the interviewers always favour the incumbent, unless the incumbent was incompetent, and I have no intention of being seen as anything less than very capable and highly competent.

Dee has put in some really great references for me to the new division, and my new manager and I had a great meeting yesterday, so it’s looking really positive at this point. The new manager wanted someone to stick around for a while, and Dee has told him that the only way he will lose my services would be if I found a permanent job. From what she’s told me, the new manager will now work harder to make the role a permanent one.

To say the very least, I’m quite happy with how things have worked out. I’m working with some really really lovely people in a grand old building and after 14 weeks of not working, it was really good to finally have something to look forward to on a daily basis. I am a creature of habit and it felt great to reinstate my daily routine of getting up, showering, getting dressed, going to work, working and going home from work. I’m even loving battling buses that are occasionally crowded and often late!

My 14 weeks of forced vacation were really hard. It’s not something I would recommend to anyone. If I had been expecting to be out of work; if I had had any real warning at all, I would / could have put something in place to prevent me from sliding into a deep black hole that had me in tears whenever someone asked "how’s the job hunting going?"

For the last 4 of those 14 weeks, I felt I had no purpose in life. Every day, I had to force myself to get out of bed, even though I couldn’t see any real point in getting out of bed. Every day, I had to force myself to take off my pyjamas and put on different clothes, even though I knew there was no point as I wasn’t leaving the apartment and no one would see me anyway. Every day, I had to force myself to look for work, even though I truly didn’t want to as I couldn’t face another automated rejection email response.

I know there will be a time in the near future when I’ll be taking another "forced" break from work, but that one I’ll look forward to with relish, as I know it will be a very busy "break".

It’s getting a tad late, and I really should hit the hay so I can be fresh for work tomorrow. Yay for being able to say that!

And for those with a keen eye, if you can work out what building is in the picture, you will have worked out where I’m working right now.

Amazing Dolphins

Mood: Squeeeeee!!!

Dolphins are amazing creatures. This YouTube video has had me in squeals of delight for the past 24 hours. Click on it and see for yourself.

Back To Work!

Mood: Smiling Again

I’m finally working again!

After 14 weeks of unemployment, I tentatively re-entered the workforce this week as a temp, working for the Government in the CBD. Thanks to my beautiful friend Dee, I hope to be working there for some time yet.

I am still looking for a full time permanent job, closer to what I was doing before the involuntary redundancy, but at this stage, I’m happy to go back to my roots and be a good business administrator.

There are so many pluses. The people I work with are so lovely. The job itself is not taxing, for which I am grateful as my brain needs to be slowly retrained to think after most of it wasted away from too much daytime TV. I’m working in the city – oh how I love working in the city. The job is a foot in the door to future Government work, and with the economy the way it is, working for the Government is the safest bet yet. And I’m earning money again, which is slowly building my self confidence.

I’ve now got pretty much everyone looking for work for me. I have signed up with a number of agencies and the recruiters are all busy looking for work for me. I’m getting phone calls here and there, which is good. And my mates are looking for jobs as well. Today, randomly, I got an email from Ian who wanted to know if I’d be interested in working for his organisation. A job as an EA to a senior executive has popped up on the Positions Vacant board and he wanted to know if he could refer me as a potential candidate. After reading the job description, I wholeheartedly gave Ian the go ahead. Fingers crossed I get a call!

It’s now time for bed. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. But yay for being employed!

A Pink Dolphin

Mood: Squee!

A pink albino dolphin! Squee!!!



RARE PINK DOLPHIN SPOTTED
09:00 AEST Tue Mar 3 2009, ninemsn.com.au

A rare pink albino bottlenose dolphin has been photographed in a US lake.

Skipper Erik Rue snapped the pink star of its pod in Calcasieu Lake, Louisiana, saying it looked like it had just come out of a paint booth.

"I just happened to see a little pod of dolphins, and I noticed one that was a little lighter," he was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.

"It was absolutely stunningly pink."

The juvenile pink dolphin has become a star attraction for visitors and is believed to have taken up residence in the Calcasieu Ship Channel.

It sometimes strays from its mother but never swims too far away from its pod, according to Captain Rue.

Although a species of pink dolphin exists in the Amazon — Inia geoffrensis or pink Amazon River dolphin — this pink mammal is thought to be the world’s only pink bottlenose dolphin.

A senior biologist with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Regina Asmutis-Silvia, said she had never seen a dolphin that colour.

"While this animal looks pink, it is an albino which you can notice in the pink eyes," she was quoted as saying.

"Albinism is a genetic trait and it unclear as to the type of albinism this animal inherited."