Thursday, July 31, 2008

odds and sods..

Just a few things to mention at the moment....

Firstly, After living in my current house for 9 months now I finally got my fist electricity bill in the mail. I have been getting regular gas, water & phone bills the whole time I have been there but for some reason an electricity bill never arrived. So I am 9 months in arrears for payment you would think? The power bill I got yesterday is only for May, June and July of this year and totalled $142. I rang the power company and asked if this was correct (without letting slip I have been at my house since late October 2007) and the guy assured me that the current bill covers from when I was connected (April 29th according to them) until now. So looks like I got 6 months power for free :) SCORE!!

Secondly, Played Basketball again last night at the ungodly hour of 10:10pm. Once again I left the venue wondering when the rules of basketball changed to the form we currently are subjected to?? The umpiring at the venue is amazing, each week we think it can't possibly get any worse or any less consistent but, amazingly, it does. Last night I got called for a foul that was just so NOT a foul that I sort of...lost my cool...sort of....and sort of dropped a pretty vulgar F-bomb straight at the umpire. He was not amused...and he technical fouled me as well. I was ropeable when later in the game I was driving to the basket and some guy on the opposite team steps across to block me just as I launched myself upward towards the basket, he slams into me while i'm soaring like Michael Jordan and sends me spinning off into "unbalanced-this-is-going-to-hurt-when-ground-and-I-meet" land and thus I miss my shot. No foul was called (of course), I beam several different kinds of grisly death stare at the umpire who simply shrugs and goes "No foul, you jumped into him" .. WHAT THE F#$K?? The opposition then run the ball up the other end and the EXACT same thing happens with the roles of defender and attacker reversed and HE CALLS A FOUL ON OUR GUY!!! I (now being the most uncool tempered person in cool-tempered town) not so politely ask for an explanation of how that is different to what happened not 5 secs ago down the other end of the court?? I get tech fouled again...for apparently being belligerent ...can you believe that?? ME..Belligerent?? At the end of the game the score was 18-20. Technically a "loss" for our team, but since the other team had no scorer to help with scoring and the scoreboard we should get 4 extra points and thus the win.

OOOOOOooOOOO also, during warm up I was practising 3-point shots and was getting a very high percentage of them to go in. So during the game I twice found myself open, with the ball, on the three point line and threw up shots. BOTH of them went in!!! :)

Thirdly, I was checking the state of Scrabby on facebook just before and was very pleased to see that every single game was waiting for ME to play. Many thanks to my Scrabby partner for such diligent work. I promptly played all available games but there was no bingos to report sadly. The competition continues. While checking the Scrab I noticed that there was a new notification there so I decided to check out what it was. I was dismayed to see that Facebook is now no longer content to just throw demoralising ads at you every 1.2375 secs offering you all sorts of sordid encounters with single males and/or females in your age group. It has now decided the best way to get your attention after noticing that you have clicked exactly 0 ads is direct insults to your self esteem via notifications.

<------ See, apparently I am some sort of ugly, unlovable, undateable, disfigured freak. Please tell me it isn't so Facebook!! I just don't understand the mixed signals FB keeps giving me. On one page it's telling me 7 of my friends have a secret crush on me and I should "Click Here" to find out who. On another, one of my friends who is mysteriously anonymous thinks I am "Hot" and I should "Click Here" to find out who again?? And on a further page, 87% of my friends would like to be trapped on a deserted Island with me?? Now I know I am a bit self conscious about a few things , but blatant "No one likes you and wouldn't date you even if you were the last man on earth and there was no sheep" notifications are just about crossing the line Facebook!!

Tomorrow sees the week come to a close (Thank God) and thus sees me eating WBBC for lunch :) It's also Rachel's birthday which is almost as exciting as having WBBC lunch...almost. So........

Birthday Rachel.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You just can't kill the Devil!!!

You may (or most probably may NOT) remember about the love/hate relationship I have with the Thermo technician. He just LOVES to make me HATE him.

see HERE for the refresher course.

Well, today he is back to look at the Mass Spec again after I arranged for some maintenance work to be carried out on it. True to form though he arrives, asks me what I think is wrong (again, this was ALL in the email I sent to the Customer service manager at Thermo yesterday) and then proceeds to inform me that I am wrong. Again, apparently I am so wrong that even if I was in the wrongest place in wrongtown people there would still point out that I could still be more wrong that that. I have arranged for a certain "non-user serviceable" part of the Mass Spec to be cleaned. By "non-user servicable" I mean, this part is absolutely critical to the functioning of the machine and should it break..the machine is useless.....therefor...I am not going to touch it myself :) Anyway, after sitting through 3 excrucisting hours of him going through every concievable possible cause of the Mass Spec not working EXCEPT for what I thought was wrong, we finally reach an impass. That being that what I said was wrong all along WAS what the problem was and *I* was right all along and he was going to have to eat humble pie again. You'd think he'd learn though wouldn't you?? Why do people even bother to question my awesomeness? It really is beyond me.

So now 4.5 hours after he arrived he's starting to clean the thing I organised him to clean from the get go. We'll get the pleasure of him then charging us 4.5 x $185 for his "Services". I'm definaitely in the wrong career.

EDIT @ 4:30pm: I left "technician Guy" to clean the Mass Spec and went to have my lunch. Not being one to ever gloat over victory I decided to continue with other work to keep myself busy (and away from Technician Guy) because, again (and this is turning into a regular occurrence) someone has not been scrabbying during work hours!!! I know this person will sprout some nonsense about "parenting" or "having appointments" or something as equally unbelieveable but I cant stress enough how dissappointed I am. Technician guy cleaned and re-assembled the Mass Spec and turned it back on. It worked and the cleaning had fixed the problem I had identified. He sauntered into my office to get me to come see the results of his "labour" and asked me "What do you think about that? It looks really good now huh?". "WHAT A FUCKING SURPRISE EINSTEIN!!" was the answer my facial expression probably gave, my actual spoken answer was something much more acceptable to a harmonious client-company relationship.

After all this he's just informed me he'll be BACK TOMORROW!!!!!

I think I'll call in sick.............

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Weekend Round-up.

Well another week comes to an end and how did it all go. Well except for some complete retardedness in the workplace it was a mix of ups and downs. Firstly on returning home from work on Friday night I was greeted with my latest phone bill. Now, as an Australian internet user I have been appalled with the way internet users have been treated by the incumbent Telco (Telstra) ever since I go back from overseas in 2003. When I left Australia in 2000 ADSL internet access was in it's infancy in Australia. Hardly anyone had it yet. Nearly every internet user was using Dial-up 56K modem access to get on-line and a luck minority could get cable broadband from Telstra or Optus for the price of a 1.5 major appendages. There were Thousands of ISP's and they all were pretty much the same only the price and number of hours this bought you differed. Today, ADSL is considered "old" technology and the "Current" new technology is ADSL2+ (Which can be up to 20x faster than ADSL1). In the five years since my return to Australia the one constant thing that has kept Australian broadband from moving forward is Telstra. They quite simply do not give a shit about anything but money. Because they are essentially a Monopoly in Australia (they own all the Telephone exchanges and Telephone Lines) you cannot choose any other provider for phone or internet without giving Telstra "some" money as part of any bill you pay for telecommunications. I have been trying to give them as little money as possible for a few years now, but recently after visiting my friend Rachel in Gawler and seeing her VoIP phone setup and discovering just how easy it is to setup I decided to get off the VoIP fence and use it myself. So now I have been using it for a little over a month and got my first Telstra bill since starting with VoIP.
Here it is, and as you can see the only money that Telstra get from me now is the cost of the actual phone line rental. All calls are now made through VoIP and my spending has gone from $7-$10 a month on calls to $0. Suck on that Telstra you bastards.

Basketball this week was a mixed bag again. The SGE Injectors game was an absolute farce this week. The umpiring was quite simply disastrous. We had 2 trainee umpires presiding over the game and they did not do a very good job at all. By about midway through the game both my team and our opposition had already had people ejected from the stadium for arguing with the umpires about their performance. I must admit, I have played basketball for the best part of 25 years and after that game I felt like I knew nothing of the game, it's rules or what constituted a foul. Needless to say, we "lost" on the scoreboard, but seriously...that game stopped being a game long before the end siren went. It was just painful to suffer through.
The u10 team I coach had a much better weekend. Fresh from their triumphant win over the top team last weekend the kids went out again looking for a win. I had a full compliment of players this time with all 7 turning up. The game was quite good and we didn't really look like we were going to lose at any point. The biggest problem I had, and this is the 1st time that I have had this problem, was that I had to make "coaching" decisions for the benefit of the whole team rather than just substituting players at regular intervals. There are 4 boys in the team and 3 girls and the different abilities of the players range from very good to woeful. The challenge with coaching this team is that there is never the "Best" combination of players on the court for very long because whoever is on the bench is constantly whining that they want to go back on. Well, this week I decided to substitute players so that we would "win" the game. This was in stark contrast to every other game so far where I just substituted players so that everyone got to play equal(ish) time and if we won it was a bonus.This did not go over with the 2 girls who I kept substituting over and over. They really were not doing anything useful when on the court and in a matter of minutes a 14 point lead was down to 2 points due to having to take the good players off to accommodate them. The other "challenge" with u10 basketball coaching is that at games there are usually at least 7 parents there also. They have no regard for you as the actual coach and will scream orders at their own kids on the court telling them to "Do this" and "Do That" etc. Not very helpful I must say, and they take offense if you keep dragging their kids off the court so that you have a better chance of winning. It's a fine balance, but at the end of the games when the team has won....well everyone seems to like that and quickly forget how it was achieved. Anyway, this particular game was a pansting and we won 22-14. It would have been a MUCH bigger win had I not given the more "skills Challenged" players so much court time :)

This coming week sees nothing exciting happening at work (that I can remember anyway) just more "routine" work really. Next weekend I am catching up with a very old friend of mine from my early-to-mid 20's whom got lost in the world of no mobile phones or Internet of the mid nineties and I haven't seen since about 1997 so that should be fun. We used to have a ball together back then and in the brief contact I have had with her since the now almost obligatory "facebook re-unification" of anyone you used to know back then and lost contact with, she's seems pretty similar to how I remember her. The last time I remember seeing her was when myself and 3 of my close friends from Gawler drove 16hrs straight to Newcastle NSW from Gawler for her wedding to our other friend Craig. That trip was surreal and the wedding is just an alcoholic blur. All I remember was singing karaoke at some point in the night and being the absolute best entertainment of the night. So pretty much standard behavior from me even 10 odd years ago.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The 2nd Funniest man on Earth may also be one of the smartest.

One of my good friends, Affectionately known to all as "Admiral Bayls" has contributed a cracker of an opinion on the forums of the gaming clan that I belong to where we have been discussing carbon trading. Some of you may have had the pleasure of reading some of Bayls's opinions on a variety of different topics through various means. They are usually brilliant mixes of comedy, satire and bile....but always impeccably worded and factual. One thing is for sure, he is a very smart man and even when he goes off half cocked it is more informed than most people.

His "summation" post on the topic of global warming was so good that I think everyone should see it. No matter how you personally feel about the subject of global warming there is always room for another opinion on the subject. Here is Bayls's and I agree with it completely.

The full debate is viewable here (I'm pretty sure you can LOOK at the topic, just not post without a forum account): Click Here

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Testing Times" or "Melbourne, Root of all Evil" or "Get me the F#$k Out Of Here!"


This week has been a "one of those" type of weeks. You know the ones where certain things happen and you have a bit of a stock take of your current situation in life? Where you go "Am I doing what I thought I would be doing with my life?", "I am happy?", "Does the future look good?", "Am I on track with my hopes, dreams and goals?". Mostly you get a mix of "Yes" and "No" answers to the various questions you ask yourself and weight up the results. Well, most people that know me would have a pretty good idea about the one thing in my life that I have been trying to change for the last 4 years. After what has happened in the last few months (mainly professionally, but also privately) has really made me question my sanity in staying in Melbourne. It really is the source of all my troubles. The problem is that my chosen career pretty much has me rooted to the spot here in Melbourne and I can't see an easy way out., in fact at this point in time I can't see ANY way out. It's becoming harder and harder to pretend that I like it here and it's beginning to effect and change me I think.

I have been taking pretty regular trips back to Adelaide for the entire time I have been in Melbourne. This equates roughly to a trip back every 6 weeks or so and more often if the cost of flights plummet and allow it. This is purely because I have never, not even for a day, felt that I belonged in Melbourne. I feel isolated from everything that is important to me and everyone that I care about. I liken it to being sent to prison, you are alone for the majority of the time and look forward to seeing your family constantly. That is what it's like for me. Now i'm not a "Stay at home shut in" either, I do have friends here and I do have a social life and partake in social activities, but it's just not the same. I get told all the time from people I work with that I am "So South Australian" from my "posh" SA accent (???) to the actual way I pronounce words like our, pool, lancer, lego etc. They are right though, I *am* a South Australian and every moment I spend in SA just reminds me of that. So much so, that every time I have to leave SA to return here ..... well lets just say it's a constant struggle. I'm sure many of you have seen me in Airports at various gatherings or trips and know my demeanour when the destination of whatever flight I am catching is "Melbourne". I'm never pleased to leave ever.
The biggest influence is that my *entire* immediate family resides in SA. That's a mother, 2 brothers and a sister and now 2 nieces. Couple that with most of my closest long time friends being there as well and you can probably understand why the "pull" to SA is so strong. Every time something in my family happens in SA and I more often than not I am not there to be part of it. My older brother has 2 daughters now (aged 3 and 1) and I get to see them maybe 4 times a year. The oldest girl, Charlotte has trouble remembering who I am when I visit because , well, why would she? Most of the time I am a voice on the phone only. Yet when my younger brother appears at the house too "Uncle Craig" is instantly recognised and greeted. Heart breaking stuff indeed.
I have pretty much been by my self though, for the majority of the time, since finishing uni in 2000. I even went overseas and lived for a few years and while I'm glad I did that, it also caused me to miss one of our major family events. I was not in Australia when my father died and as such my last memory of him is him standing in the old Adelaide airport saying goodbye to me with tears in his eyes as I left for Germany. I've not forgiven myself yet for leaving Australia at this time even though it was probably the right thing to do.

It's just that I have this overwhelming feeling of "Home" when I am in Adelaide. I think most people can relate to that.We all like to feel "happy" and be surrounded by family and friends and a lot of people take for granted sharing time with those near and dear to them. I have not had that privileged for a very long time and its beginning to really get to me now because the "next" generation of our family has arrived. I don't feel like I am part of anything that happens in this regard and I hear about the majority of news second hand or on picture galleries on Facebook etc. Your family affairs and news shouldn't be something that you go onto the internet to "Catch Up On" like some TV show, but that's the exact situation I find myself in. I don't like that and I don't like the way Melbourne makes it my reality. Melbourne really makes me lonely and I just hope I can steer the good ship "Mikey" closer to home in the coming months/year.
I apologise that this blog is a bit morbid and "unfunny" but this week has just made me think about a lot of "Grown Up" things again and ....'s my Blog and I'll write about whatever I damn well choose!! :P

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wrong Numbers II: The sequel.

Having read recently about other peoples experience with wrong numbers I finally have my own to share. It all started yesterday when I was rung up at work on my mobile/pocket/Handy phone by Melbourne City Land Rover and I had the pleasant gentleman list off all the extras that they'd added to my new Land Rover and ended with him asking me when I would like to pick it up. Having to explain to him that I actually didn't buy a Land Rover and knew not what he was on about was quite hard.....not often you get offered a free Land Rover ;). So, he read the contact number back to me and , yes, it was my number. So he apologises profusely and I hang up and go back to work. About an hour later my mobile/pocket/Handy phone rings again and this time it's Melbourne Metro BMW, the guy on the phone also wants to give me a free car (a BMW 650 this time.....nice) that I have apparently ordered and was ready for pick-up. Again, I told the guy that I hadn't ordered any car and could he confirm the number he called. Again, it was my phone number??? 
Fast forward to today and I get to work (to be greeted by more unbelievable crap... but that is a whole other story) and start bearishly working away at my stuff when, lo and behold, my mobile/pocket/handy  phone rings again. This time it's Porsche Centre Melbourne, and guess what? You got it...My new Porsche 911 4S Targa is ready for me to collect. Again I explain that I have not ordered any Porches and he again confirms the phone number he's's mine. Now I'm beginning to get a bit worried, Is my phone number being used in some elaborate luxury car scam?? Sure seems that mid ponder my thoughts are interrupted by my  mobile/pocket/handy phone ringing again. Who could it be THIS time I wonder?? It's the helpful staff at Lexus of Melbourne this time just wanting to know if I would like to come and take a look at my new IS250 sedan that is apparently ready for me? Again, I explain to the guy that I haven't ordered any Lexii lately and could he repeat the number he's called ?'s my number?? The mind boggles. I decided to ask the guy if he could throw any light onto the fact that I have just about been rung up by every luxury car dealer in greater Melbourne over the last 2 days all of them wanting to give me cars and all having my mobile/pocket/handy number as their contact. He can't but thinks it is interesting. He says he has an email address of the person he's trying to reach and will get in contact with them that way. He promises to "Have some fun with them" whatever that means. So there you have it....weirdest wrong number story I have ever heard of. It's quite funny in a way, due mainly to the fact that 4 separate people have apparently bought very expensive cars and all have given my mobile/pocket/handy number as their contact. Ooops, there goes the phone again.....I wonder if this will be Melbourne Mercedes or the Audi Melbourne chaps...........

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Basketball Stars

Well this week was another good one (sort of) for basket ball. While the SGE injectors (the team I play for) didn't "technically" win we surprised ourselves with how good we actually DID do. This week we had to play the "Behemoths", this team hasn't lost yet this season (I don't think) so as soon as I turned up and saw them I was already dreading the pantsing we were going to get. This however, didn't eventuate. Last time we played them about 7 weeks ago we lost about 70 - 13, this time we actually kept up with them and the final score was a respectable 42-34. A loss for us, but we played really, well. I even got told I played very well. There wasn't as many points for me as last week and true to form "with" glasses on I couldn't get the foul shots in when last week without glasses I couldn't miss??? Explain that one.

Saturday brought about my return to the coaching bench for the u10 Easter Bulls team. I missed last weeks game due to being in Adelaide and when I asked how they went (I forgot to at practice on Tuesday because Tyler was being an ass-hat and trying my patience). The answer was they lost and against the bottom team too :( Our opponents for today were, and you probably saw this coming, the TOP team in our division. We only played them 2 weeks ago....but .... we are playing them again. This time I had 6 players so some substitutes could be made at opportune times this time.

So the kids are warming up and the first thing I noticed is that during the school holidays they have all forgotten how to shoot?? They were TERRIBLE. I got them doing lay-ups before the game and I don't think a single one of them got one in. The game starts and my team takes control of the ball straight away. They get it down our goals end and then it starts. Throw..Miss, shoot, miss, shoot....miss...shoot...miss..shoot miss. They must have put up 50 shots in about 10 mins (no kidding) and not one of them went in. The score was 0 - 0. Every time a shot went up and missed the crowd roared ..... with laughter mostly. I couldn't believe it...I was jumping up and down on the spot going "This CAN'T be happening!!!" It's sort of like winning a scrabble game...eventually....statistically....if you play enough have to win ONE of them eventually (Right Rach?) That's what I thought would happen here...enough shots were going up that eventually ONE of them had to go in ?? The other team managed to get a rebound and raced down the other end of the court only to also shoot and miss. There was a mad scramble for the loose ball and the opposition got it and threw up another shot. To my great dismay it went in. 2 points to them. Eventually we managed to get the ball to go into the basket and not before time either I reckon we would have easily had 100 shots at the basket before the first goal was scored...insanity. The first half ended a low scoring affair of 8 - 6, with the opposition leading.

The kids played very well in the first half and should, by rights, be winning about 200 - 8. I told them at the break that they were doing really well but needed to remember to pass the ball out from under the basket if they got a rebound and couldn't shoot. This is the biggest problem with not just my team but all the teams in this grade. The guy (or girl) with the ball gets set upon by the WHOLE other team...and because they are all 9 y.o. they just try to POWER THROUGH ADVERSITY and more often than not lose the ball.

Second half was a much better effort from the Eastern Bulls.There was some good passes and we intercepted a lot of passes. We managed to get on level terms at 10 - 10 with 10 minutes to go and the kids were really excited to be in this position. Everyone on the team had already been off once during the game for a rest so I had to start again at the beginning. Beth came off again (without complaining, which ALL of her male team mates could take notice of!) and cheered with me from the sidelines. We got the ball from a rebound and worked it up the court and got a GOAL!! We were WINNING!! It really was gratifying to see just what that specific goal meant to the kids when it went in. Tyler had shot it (amazingly) and when it dropped in he punched the air with a fist and let out a "YEAH!!", he was so pleased with himself. The other kids all ran over and jumped around him going "Yeah!! Wooo Hooo Alright!" etc.  :)

The next 8 mins went like a blur, the ball was back and forwards, back and forwards between the 2 teams with no one scoring. I dreaded it each time the ball was down the oppositions end because they have so many players they always can outrun my guys (and girls) because they aren't tired. At one stage Beth looks up at me from the bench and goes "Can I please go back on? I've been off since 10 mins." I think my mouth dropped agape....In all the excitement I'd forgotten all about substituting. I looked at the clock there was only a minute to go. I called the umpire and asked for the next sub, he nodded. My team got the ball and worked it down to our end this time Jesse put up a shot and BAM in it went ... the kids go bezerk with joy. Almost brought a tear to my eye they were so proud of themselves. The ref called the substitution and Beth went back on... with 30 secs of game time left. She said she was happy that at least she was on the court when we won, kids are so easily pleased sometimes.

So final score was 14 - 10 and a win to us.

This was probably the best game the kids have played to date. To come out and beat the top team so convincingly was a great effort by them. I personally think it's all in the coaching ;)

Friday, July 18, 2008

WBBC just got even better? Is that even possible??

Christine and I went to get WBBC for lunch today, I get this most Fridays because it is quite frankly the best Butter Chicken I have ever had. Anyway, while eating it my taste buds reported that there was some sort of "extra specialness" to it tasted ... somehow ... better than normal.

Not 15 mins later Christine comes back to my office to ask me "Did you think the Butter Chicken was really, REALLY good today?"

So there you have it. Christine is one tough critic and therefore Worlds Best Butter Chicken has definitely raised the bar!! The last time she had WBBC she described it as "Meh, it's ok....I might buy it again"

EDIT: After an hour or so we both are of the opinion that the new ingredient is some sort of horse tranquilliser. We are both finding it very difficult to stay awake and concentrate. This *may* be due to the company we work for though...not 100% sure.

3....2...............where's the one?...THERE'S MEANT TO BE A ONE!!!!!

Was lying in bed this morning, nicely warm and still a bit sleepy when my brain sort of registered that "there is sunlight in the room". Now today is a "school day" as in "I have to go to work" and on most normal "School Days" I am up at 7am. At this time of year, in Smelbourne, 7am is still dark so my sleep riddled brain sort of half-assedly set off a tiny little alarm in my head that sort of went something like this:

Subconscious Brain: "This bed is so warm and comfy....but there is some natural light coming in the may want to just check the time..or you now..whatever...sleep is also grand"

Conscious Brain: "Why are you bothering me?? Has the alarm gone off? Are we listening to the musical stylings of Marc Et Claude waking us into the day with an infectious beat? NO WE ARE NOT...leave me alone...I answer to the alarm, not you Subconscious Brain!!"

Subconscious Brain: "Cool, I'll just restart that dream you were you actually KNOW that girl? or have I made her up?"

Anyway, I drift back into semi-sleep for an unspecified amount of time because Friday is WBBC* day which means no making lunch and due to a super gym session last night, there was no need for a shower again in the morning because I'd only been sleeping, and while alone in my bed there is not really much that can happen to warrant another early morning shower. So usually there is a half hour sleep in anyway.

*Worlds Best Butter Chicken (i.e. Lunch is bought).

Subconscious Brain: "hey, um.... there is a LOT of light coming into this room now.....and I think I can hear children walking past??"

Conscious Brain: "Oh for F#$ks Sake!! There has been no alarm !! please don't bother me."

Subconscious Brain: "You might just want to check the time now..... I promise i'll shut up then."

So I roll over and look at my clock? There should be some pale blue numbers staring at me saying "7:15 am" or similar...but there seems to be ... no numbers!!!


I spring out of bed and hobble at great speed into the lounge room where the battery powered clock hangs on the wall....adjust my un-assisted eyes to try and see the time....

8 : 10 am

I think I set a world record in getting to work this morning by 8:20.... and only looking like I slept in a dumpster for half the night.

Thank god not 2 mins after I sat down at my desk and attached the caffeine drip to my arm that my only pressing engagement today was delayed till next week. Phew.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Small Victories.......

I just managed to get the Auto-sampler to work on the GC !!!! This is cause for MASSIVE celebration because it just makes everything GC related much easier and AUTOMATED :)
For the last 7 odd months it has been possessed by the devil. It just wouldn't work and when it did work all it would do is stick up it's electronic middle finger at me and say "Screw you pal!!!". Well it has now, like many things and people before it, been bent to MY will and is now a slave to MY bidding!! **Cue Maniacal Laughter**

Now, so you can all share in the euphoria rather than just go "What The...?" and go looking for LOLcats ...let me explain what an Auto-sampler is and what it does.
A Gas Chromatograph is a pretty common analytical tool in the Pharmaceutical or Chemical industries and to automate what the GC does and allow it to merrily potter away with minimal human intervention a GC is commonly coupled with an Auto-sampler.

Here is my GC (A Thermo TraceGC Ultra, below left)with it's rather phallic Triplus Auto-sampler attachment (below right).

The auto-sampler is, in non-scientific terms, a "roboty thing-a-ma-jig" that injects the samples you want to test in the GC.The Auto-sampler makes it possible to queue up literally hundreds of samples for analysis and lets the operator press "Start" and go away and make sure that more important things get done. See...there's got to be a hundred or so little sample spots on this one! I've actually only got 19 vials I am using, plus one with a blue lid just in the tray for aesthetics.

The Auto-sampler itself consists of a incredibly accurate electric motor system that is so precise it can accurately measure volumes as small as 0.1┬ÁL consistently. This is why the company I work for has them...because we make incredibly accurate syringes...for pretty much every company that makes auto-samplers and GC's. Here we see one of our syringes living the syringe equivalent of "The Good Life". Look at's actually smiling.

Now, as you can imagine, having something that makes a mundane task (such as my job on most days :)) need less human intervention is a great thing. If you have a dish washer think how crappy it would be if you personally had to wash up everything you used to cook with? This is exactly the relief an auto-sampler brings to the everyday chemist. I have loaded this baby up with 19 samples and configured it to measure them all and then...well...just sit there until someone comes looking for the results. Each sample takes 45 minutes to run so automation is good. Just because you've read this far and haven't wandered off to find something much more exciting to is the "pizza resistance" of this blog.... a video of the Auto-sampler

This blog entry, and all it's associated geeky-nerdiness and boredom inducing lameness, is made possible today because SOMEONE has been neglecting their scrabby!!!! Honestly..what am I meant to do to fill out the day when this happens ???

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I really don't know how to describe my weekend. I don't think it is even possible to describe anything so good with just mere words. To all involved a big, Heart felt....


One person deserves a special mention, and they know who they are. You are simply amazing, I am so glad that the universe corrected it's horrendous mistake and crossed our paths again. May they cross a few thousand more times.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Definitly Michael on TOP week .

I've been having a pretty good week this week. I am absolutely kicking ass in Scrabby and my poor competition is usually languishing 70+ points of the pace subdued with consecutive bingo assaults and masterful use (and misuse) of red 3x squares. Things have definitely been in my favour. Last night after a particularly brutal scrabby pantsing delivered to Rachel I had to actually leave the intarwebz to go and play Basketball with the mighty SGE Injectors.
Now this week we had the god awful start time on 10pm and that is, first and foremost, just ridiculous. It was a chilly 2°C when I left the a mad rush...because the Scrabby was in full swing and when I glanced at the clock I saw that it was 15 mins till game time!!! I'd left my preparation very late and after the worlds 2nd quickest strip I donned the basketball gear, and several easily discarded "Sportswear" layers (including trackies ... THAT is how cold it was). I grabbed the water bottle and filled it, grabbed a sport towel and threw a few rows of Chocolate in my gob and locked up the mansion. I jumped in the Pug and cranked the climate control to 23°C didn't bother playing any "Motivational" death metal on the stereo and headed off into the night. I drove the 3 mins to the venue arriving with 5 mins until game time. See, still on top!!!

So we start warming up because, for the second time that week it has been so cold that I am hobbling around with a lump in the small of my back due to penile inversion. Unfortunately, the remedy that worked brilliantly in "getting the blood flowing" the previous night was not going to be an option in a basketball venue tonight :). So I started doing some lay-ups and stretching out the muscles to avoid any unwanted injuries. Despite my Adonis like appearance, my body isn't actually 21 years old any more :(

Then I noticed a BIG problem..............

I still had my glasses on!!!!! and Not my "I don't care if these break" sport strapped, crappy glasses that I "usually" wear while playing Basketball. But my $800 "designer" frames with super-duper "Hey come look at the sub-atomic particles!!" glasses that would have lasted about 2 secs on the Basketball court before flying off my head and smashing into 4 million pieces on the floor. There was nothing for it .... I had to try and play SANS glasses !!!!

So I take off my glasses and start squinting around the sports hall trying to find something to focus on that I can actually see. Now, I should state that without glasses I can pretty much see nothing up close to me so I really thought I'd struggle in a game of Basketball where every thing happens within about a 5m radius. So Glenn passes me a ball...which I managed to catch (Good start) and I look at one of 3 or 4 "baskets" that I can see on the backboard at our end of the court and throw a shot up. It goes in o_O.

I walk over to the 3 point line and casually line up a 3-point bomb.......shoot....THAT goes in????
I try again..THAT goes in too!!!

DEFINITELY Michael on top WEEK!!!!

So with new found confidence and a feeling of absolute super-human ability the SGE injectors stride out onto the court to start the game. I was the tallest guy on the court for our team so I would take the jump ball. Noted almost straight away that there was a new incredibly HOT female umpire adjudicating tonight. She was all dressed in Lycra leggings and stuff...pressure eased off the small of my back somewhat. She tosses up the ball and my sporty frame springs to life into a vertical, puma like jump way above my aged opponent and the ball was OURS!!! My tap went straight to Steve who, unopposed, layed it up for an easy 2 points and an excellent start. We cruised out to a 10 - 0 lead in a mater of minutes.

Rather than bore you all with a blow-by-blow account of our basket balling brilliance I'll just tell you that we absolutely destroyed this other team. We ended up wining 27-13 but the story of my firm strangle hold of "On Top" does not end there...oh no...there is more...

From previous blog entries you may remember that I have the worst "Free Throw" record from the foul line in our team...I'm almost guaranteed to miss them every time. This is bad, because I usually can attract a lot of fouls while shooting and get put on the foul shot line quite regularly. Tonight I had the added disability of not being able to see !! It had all the ingredients for a disastrous (and possibly I could end up facing 90° to the basket , squinting, yet lining up a shot at the side wall) turn of events. However, THIS was "Michael on TOP week!!" and I got sent to the foul line twice during the game .....

When you have 2 shots from the foul line after being fouled the "Scorer" draws a little square box in your score line next to your name. If your first shot from the foul line goes in they cross one diagonal of the box. If your second shot also goes in you get a full cross through the box. As I said I got sent to the foul line twice ... here's the score sheet.

I'm so awesome :)

*notice the complete "Lack" of awesome from the other, full sighted players on our team? Couldn't hit the side of a barn most of them :P

I'll have to forget my Glasses next week too

and the best part is that the weeks not over yet....that means still more chances for Michael to be ON TOP!!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wierd Science

So I was about to head home tonight from work and I had preemptively shut down my work PC in my office and trundled over to the GC I was .... well...working on I suppose i "should" say :). I spent about 5 mins there and then I went back to my office to get my coat, lunch box etc. and I saw this as I walked past my Colleague Daves door ...

Now my PC is the one on the right of that picture and I was positive I had turned my PC off not 5 mins ago?????? Upon closer inspection we discovered the most amazing optical illusion ever.


Now, I admit that this is pretty science nerd geeky...but honestly, think of all the physics involved in this actually happening and it's really quite amazing. So many variables to account for and it is all perfectly achieved by nature through absolute chaos theory randomness. The reflection actually falls EXACTLY on the screen of my PC in my office next door at exactly the right angle and aspect ratio. You can even the stickers on the side of my monitor (which aren't on Daves) and see my keyboard is different to Daves (mines black his is white). It's quite freaky that it is only visible from the one spot near the door but it really looked amazing. Best real optical illusion ever.

Hopefully someone else finds this interesting too......


As I have no Scrabby to play at lunch today I decided to try and occupy my brain is some way as to try and block out (just for a moment) the absolutely awesome images that have been running through my head all night. I was already looking forward to this weekend immensely.....last night I think that my "looking Forward"-ness tripled :).

This week at work has been interesting to some degree because the company has been implementing a new "Quality" initiative over the last few months and I am somewhat privy to the "over all" picture as I am on the Quality committee. Now, little incidents of this new initiative are starting to affect how things get done in the manufacturing part of the company and the "fall-out" is quite spectacular to behold. This company has been doing what it does for a long time, and to be honest it does produce good products. However, as with all companies, sometimes things go wrong or get changed and no one knows (or remembers why) and that is what I am noticing now in my job capacity. We do things a certain way....because that's "How we've always done it??". In my recent research for my job I've found that the only way to "fix" a certain problem we were having with the products i'm involved with is to basically forget everything we've been doing to make these products and start again from the ground up with no restraints or "assumed" right way of accomplishing any sub-task in the production process. The results have been SPECTACULAR to say the least. When one of you major clients goes from almost cancelling their multi-million $$ contracts to almost acting like a crack-head begging for more crack when they have no money it really slams home just how much a fresh approach to an inhereted problem can be.

Having said that, there is massive resistence in the comppany to "Change" and that is probably not unusual with most large companies. I remember working at Mayne Pharma a few years ago and always having to remind myself that the people making my job impossible where actually working for the same company?? We should be "helping" each other not acting as though we somehow have to stop each other performing our jobs and make things more difficult for the fun of it. That is the point I think this company is now at....we have to get past the initial "Fear of Change" and the idea that "Corporate Criticism = Personal Criticism" and focus on fixing the problems that ARE there and ARE visible and ARE being complained about by the people who currently are still willing to buy our products.

anyway...I have to go to the quality meeting now....that's going to be tough...becuase the visions are back in my head....and they are awesome...and it's hard to concentrate on anything else..

Sunday, July 06, 2008

PC Ressurection & Eastlink: The Theme Park Ride.....

I managed to fix my PC after the catastrophic meltdown it had last night. Turned out it was just the SATA cable that connects it. I replaced that and it all worked again. Gave the inside of the case a good vacuum too. Everything going strong again...back on teh intarwebz.

Also went for a drive on Eastlink today to see what all the fuss is about. Full write up on my Facebook page. If you aren't a friend of mine on there then TOUGH! you miss out :P

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I Don't Blame Anyones ISP....

Tonight, completely out of the blue, my main PC's hard drive died. This is always a complete and utter pain in the ass when this happens. Thank god that just this very morning I backed up ALL my mp3's onto my iPod. I'm hoping I can get the HDD working again as all my emails and photo's (about 2 years worth) are on it. If I can't then it's new HDD time.....

So anyone who want's to contact me in the next few days is going to have to use the Telephone for a while. My emails will just pile up in my inbox too until this is fixed...

I still have my HTPC running for absolute internet emergencies...but to surf the net is really approaching the limit of this HTPC's abilities...and even then it's the most awkward thing in awkward town to do.

Hopefully I can survive a few days without the intarwebz!!!!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Honestly...who throws a shoe??

Got sent this today by email.


Some things are just beyond comprehension.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Cooking Stuff

So today I got into a cooking ideas chat with Christine at work during one of her 17 visits to my office (I reckon it's coz she secretly loves the music I play when I'm in there....Children of Bodom are so relaxing). Anyway, we were swapping ideas and started addressing the topic of what was the possibilities for dinner tonight at our respective houses. I had planned earlier today to cook some vegies and stuff that had been in my fridge for nearly a would have to be more than a week because I also bought mince last weekend which was supposed to motivate me into cooking those same vegetables (and stuff).

After work I went to the gym and belted out a few reps on the assorted goodies there. I'm *really* liking how this is going too. The conscious decision to regularly use this "free added extra" of my job, in hindsight, was an excellent decision. The comparison to 10 months ago when I actually went "OK, lets start this and stick with it" is phenomenal. Not to be vain but I sometimes catch myself perving at myself in the mirror in the mornings now, the improvement is very noticeable and I do actually feel a lot better about how I am looking physically which has been a personal battle for ...well....ever i suppose. So I get home from the gym (took 3 minutes tonight...heavy traffic) and do the "8 minute Abs" routine (thanks Craig), then hit the shower.

After the showering I dressed in the most appropriate cooking gear I have. "Advance Australia Fair" Boxers and some daggy Top that I won't mind getting food all over. I usually have tomatoes and all sorts of "splattery" sauces, oils and "additives" in a frypan that I really should stop using and buy a bigger one. The current one can barely contain any meal I deciede to cook.

I also selected some appropriate music on the Home Theater PC with which to "get down and culinary" with. Good old Armin Van Buuren, you just can't go wrong with him. So with Armin supplying the summery tunes in contrast to the shockingly shitty weather in Melbourne (for a change).

Got things underway with the spaghetti in a pot at the back and started frying some onion, bacon , mushrooms and herbs. I also learnt an interesting thing about cloves of garlic tonight. That if you buy them at Easter time...they aren't really any good come July. Garlic in this dish :)

Once the onion had cooked a bit it was time to spice it up a bit (get it?.."spice"...and I'm talking about cooking...oh forget it). In went some pepperoni and capsicum. Now all the vegies that I had bought nearly 2 weeks ago are in the pan...they were all surprisingly...fresh-ish. My fridge had done an excellent job of keeping the crisp vegetables of 2 weeks ago, well...crisp. Well done Samsung Fridge.

Now, you may have noticed that I like meat in my food. As it stands I already have bacon and pepperoni in the pan, but it needs MORE!!!! So, true to previous Spag Boggs I have made there is beef mince around somewhere. Again, I sort of forgot to defrost it. Sorry for the gratuitous "I earn a lot of money" quality of the meat. In my defense it was the exact same price as the 4* version. you would have bought it too, don't
pretend you wouldn't!!!

In a true twist that no-one who's reading this would have guessed was coming....I didn't use the mince. It's currently in the fridge. "Why?" you may well ask, and I may well tell you. That mince was 500gms of meat...and when i looked at it, I then looked at the pan, and then back at the really wasn't going to fit in the pan. So I added some tomatoes (chopped) and decided that would be enough for the "sauce". As you can see, it's still a pretty sizable meal even without the pasta. THE PASTA...SHIT...sort of forgot about that didn't I?? Luckily it hadn't boiled was close...but savable.

"Note To Self: Stop buying 2 loaves of bread...YOU DON'T EAT ONE OF THEM....ever!

So after a bit of boiling down the deed is almost done. It's smelling great and my toughest critic seems impressed. Time to try it out.

Onto the pasta bed it goes. It really was a "Sizable" portion of food and right from the start I had doubts whether I could eat it all. I decided to pair it with a lovely glass of Ginger beer. Most underrated drink ever the old ginger beer. Everyone repeat after me..."Ginger Beer Rocks". I have taken a fancy to Schweppes "Traditional" Ginger Beer as it has been on sale at Coles now for about 6 months ??? Everytime I go's STILL on I'm actually saving money by buying it...see...justified :)

Now, you may notice that my house seems ridiculously tidy in most of the photo's associated with this blog entry. Let me assure you I make a colossal mess in the kitchen with the best of them. Some people have made making a mess in the kitchen into an Olympic event (R.......l) and just to prove to you all that I am no different in this aspect here's a short film that I made to demonstrate the carnage that is involved behind the scenes. As a usual response to cleaning is clearly portrayed at the end.

While siting for the actual eating I had a wide variety of TV shows that needed watching. Tonight I went with an all time favorite. Good News Week. This show has got progressively funnier and funnier since it's return ..... it also has Claire Hooper on it...and she's HOT! :)

After eating there is the cleaning part. Now, I have heard on the grapevine that in this day and age there are still children growing up in Australia that barely remember what a clean kitchen looks like. This is for them...the children...someone has to think of them.

It's hard to believe i'm still single really :)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wandered Into Hell and Tweeked The Devils Nose.

Today I had to call the Thermo technician about a faulty Mass Spec at work. That is my definition of "Hell", not work being hell, but talking to the Thermo technician. THAT is hell. The guy takes 4000000000 years to explain anything or impart any information to you. He talks at you like you're the stupidest person on earth and you couldn't possibly know what you are talking about even 1% of the time. In his mind he is the world authority on ANY subject you have the misfortune of talking to him about. you are never right in his eyes....even when you are aren't actually that would mean he was wrong.....and that's inconceivable!!. Now when I say "he talks", I really mean that he could give "The Riddler" a run for his money. This guy cannot, repeat CAN NOT explain anything "easily" or "Quickly. He needs to stamp his intellectual rubber "HUGE BRAIN HERE!!" stamp over everything. Everything he says is either a direct metaphor or is wrapped up in a million different metaphors.


Some back ground info so you can quantify just how annoying and frustrating this guy is. I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry and I work in the "Chemical Industry" so, you know, I sort of have this strange quirk which is .. I like to think I know "something" about the topic of "Chemistry". I don't pretend to know everything about everything that I do, but I am not groping around in the scientific dark very often (if ever). This Technician guy will straight off the bat assume you know nothing about what you are talking about. Why does he do this? For some reason he thinks that because you've called Thermo for help that something has gone wrong 5 seconds ago and your first reaction was "I'll do nothing and call the technicians in at $190 per hour".

Now, I'm sure whenever something goes wrong in your job or life, dear reader, that you're first reaction is to diagnose the problem and try every single thing that you can think of to rectify it BEFORE you ask for outside or third party help, am I correct? Of course I am. This is why talking to this guy is an absolute last resort in my books because you can guarantee that the first 1/2 hour of conversation with him will be to suggest doing EVERYTHING you have already tried because there is no way in his mind that YOU could have the slightest idea what you were any regards to any subject....ever.

Case in point, because I knew the Mass Spectrometer in question was not working "properly", myself and my immediate superior colleague Paul spent the best part of 3 days trying to diagnose why the Mass Spec was doing what it was doing and record any symptoms or effects our "fiddling" had. This was to try and garnish some idea of what which "part" of the Mass Spec could be at fault. Now, in case you aren't familiar with what a mass spectrometer is or does, here's a quick overview.

  1. The Mass Spectrometer is an analytical device that measures the actual weight of individual chemicals. You've probably seen them on TV during shows like CSI, Bones or NCIS but not known what you were looking at because contrary to popular belief in those shows the Mass Spec doesn't spit out the Drivers license number, address and complete psychological history of any given criminal by placing a single human hair into the machine.
  2. The Mass Spectrometer consists of very complex electronics that are highly engineered for a very specific purpose. Most of these electronics can't "break" per sei, but can become, dirty and miss-aligned. The vast majority of the machine is not user serviceable
  3. It is primarily "used" through software designed to run it which is purpose written and usually very complex and thorough. This usually incorporates highly detailed diagnostic tools.
Now, before I had my chat with the Technician I sent an Email to the "support" section of the Thermo company and outlined EVERYTHING that "we" had tried to get this machine working properly again. "We" knew that the machine was not broken in anyway, but somehow it had got "miss-configured". We worked out how to re-configure it properly but for some reason (unbeknown to us at the time) these settings were not being saved and upon next use the Mass Spec would return to LA-LA land telling us that black was in fact white, up was actually down and that we were putting only fried bacon and cheese muffins into it and not chemicals. All of these "results" are quite interesting of course but they are easily identified as WRONG.

My take on the matter was that the "Setting" we inputted for the correct configuration of the Mass Spec where not getting saved and that where ever the setting it was using instead were...ass-backwards corrupted. My email basically asked "Where are these secret settings stored because I have no idea??". That was yesterday. Today my supervisory Colleague plants down Satan's business card on my desk and goes "You should give Satan a call on his mobile". He also said "If you play that word on the other side of the board you'll get 38 points" ....because.... I was having lunch at the time and he could see I was dealing an absolute pantsing to Rachel via illicit luncheon interval Scrabble and wanted the humiliation for her to continue.

So I call the Satan hotline and simply say "I was told to give you a call about the Mass Spec?". Now I assumed that he had at least read my Email from the previous day, but as the "one way" conversation unfolded it became glaringly obvious that he hadn't. So much so that when the "end" of the tirade finished, some 50mins later, I was certain I'd asked for exactly what he had eventually told me was the answer in my Email. I say "one way conversation because I have already (painfully) discovered via previous interaction with this guy that YOU DON'T ARGUE, YOU DON'T OFFER ANY THOUGHT, PONDERINGS OR let him talk and grunt "Yes, Correct, Sure, ok etc" at regular intervals. This is the only sure fire way to steer the "conversation" toward an ending in the same 24hr time period. Never the less, I had to sit through 3 seperate, non-sensical and bizarre metaphors before we got to the actual transferal of knowledge. For this conversation the metaphors he chose were:

  1. That "tuning" the Mass Spec was like hitting a nail into wood with a hammer, except you don't know how to use a hammer and only children or women or something can hit the nail properly...I really wasn't listening.
  2. That tuning the Mass Spec was also apparently like asking someone to tune an invisible piano...there was something in there about porridge too....and that the person trying to tune the piano couldn't actually "see" the piano. I don't remember this all that clearly...but muttered "Sure" and "Ok" at random intervals to feign interest. I remember that I had 4"I"'s, and 2 "E"'s and the "Q" in the scrabble game I was playing at the same time though, because ..honestly... what sort of word can you make with those letters????
  3. The third Metaphor was something about driving a car and telling it who's boss?? Something about if the car stops you get out and dunno. I did play "Qi" though on a 3x letter square during this one though :)
At some point he mentioned that the setting file was squirreled away in a certain location on the PC and how I could check if it was corrupted. My brain snapped back into "Scientist"mode and I humbly uttered something about being thankful for his help and i'd try what he suggested and call him back if it worked ( I'd do that).

So anyway, I went over to the Mass Spec rummaged around in it's software gizzards for a few minutes and did the necessary file surgery. Then I fired it up and presto, it started working properly again. It did take about 3 hours though to "Auto-configure" itself again which shows just how out of whack it had become. I set a sample running and will see the result tomorrow morning.

So there you have it, mass spec repaired and no need to actually bring this guy out to our facility (which is WORSE than painful, he's unbearable in the flesh). This however left me in a right strop for the rest of the day. I don't dislike many people in this world, in fact I'd be hard pressed to name anyone that i'd say "I hate." ...but I HATE this guy....I hate him so much it turns into a little hate-ball in the middle of my cranium and makes me want to kick kittens and puppies. Accordingly, I couldn't wait to leave work and go home today. I didn't go to the Gym, I didn't have Basket Ball training due to school holidays and I couldn't be assed cooking anything for dinner (and I like cooking!!). I just wanted the day to end and forget it happened. I had a raging headache and not even a nice Chai & Vanilla tea calmed me down much. Then I realised that I would need to get this out of my system or i'd be cranky all day tomorrow too.

Blogs are quite cathartic.