The power of business cards

I’ve finally figured out how to get people to take me seriously. My father is constantly worried that the “Smiley” nom-de-plume (I’ve gone all French and cultured, two French references in three posts oh ho ho [that is an attempt at the traditional French grunting sound{I don’t really like the French anyway, they’re a bunch of cheese eating surrender monkeys who should take their freedom fries and go home}]) is not counting in my favour as far as people taking me seriously goes. The key to opening all sorts of professional doors is the humble business card. Seriously. I go to these functions and meetings and people look at me all funny until I pull out a little cardboard rectangle with my name and impressive position description on it – and POW, instant credibility.

I’ve also realised that confidence is the key to sounding impressive in meetings. Confidence and unexplained acronymns. You throw an acronymn out there and just keep powering on. No one questions anything if they’re too far behind. I’ve been able to thoroughly convince our local tourism operators that I know what I’m doing. Now I need to ensure my competence matches my competence. I was trying to work out the relationship between confidence and arrogance the other day – I think the third factor in the equation is competence – provided you’re actually as good as you think you are you’re confident not arrogant. When confidence outweighs competence that’s arrogance. I should be a motivational speaker – people would listen to me if I had convincing business cards.

In other news… I had two great phone conversations last night – the first one involved a couple of people coming clean, and thanking me for all my hard work getting them to become a couple – they know who they are, most of the people reading this also know who they are. I’d like to say on the record – When I told the guy in question that my matchmaking days were over – I only meant they were over for him. The second conversation was with my very good friend Paul. It’s always nice talking to old friends – they’re like a worn in pair of shoes, or your favourite t-shirt – instant comfort.

Only in America… (another gem from the SMH)

It seems friendly fire isn’t all that friendly. A DEA undercover agent from America had a first hand experience of the military oxymoron when he was giving a lecture on gun safety to a room full of children last year. A parent was on hand to capture the lecture on film. Filming undercover agents is a bad thing to do. Particularly if your home movie is going to make it onto the internet and onto millions of computer screens. This poor chap can’t work anymore and he certainly won’t be asked to give gun safety lectures. This video has caused me no shortage of amusement. I love the part just before he pulls the trigger when he says “I’m the only one in this room professional enough to be handling this weapon.” He displayed some form of professionality by continuing the lecture with a bullet lodged firmly in his thigh. The Herald gave some details on the aftermath of the incident.

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l’esprit d’escalier [the perfect witty response]

I was reading the Sydney Morning Herald online today for my fix of culture and intellectual stimulation (not that those things are in short supply up here but News Limited Papers in general are pretty horrible) and I came across an interesting interview with Tim Freedman the singer from the Whitlams. Tim Freedman is one of my favourite Australian songwriters. He’s responsible for some of the greatest song lyrics ever written, eg “she was one in a million, so there’s five more just in New South Wales” from Up Against the Wall. He’s also one of the worst anti-drug spokesmen in the history of the “say no to drugs” campaign. I remember seeing a TV special where he basically told people the only way they were going to learn about the effects of drugs was to take them. Thanks Tim. Anyway, having firmly established his credibility as a role model I’m now going to direct you to the article here. He makes an interesting point about conversation – and missed conversational opportunities – particularly l’esprit d’escalier. To sum it up for people too lazy to click a link – he is haunted by missed opportunities. He’ll even call a journalist who interviews him two weeks later to amend his answers. I’m wondering if this is just a luxury for the rich and famous. Can we all buy an opportunity to add to past conversations? As someone who often misses great opportunities for witty (or even non-witty but effective) responses – only to think of them at some later date – I think it would be of some benefit to bring in a system where amendments to a conversation can be made in another time and another place. I propose to make this the time and the place for such comments. If you feel like you could have, or should have responded to me, or anyone else, in a more witty or appropriate manner then post a comment.

In other, less Whitlam related news…

I spent Friday night on Magnetic Island with a Sunday Mail freelance writer and her husband. If you’re ever on Magnetic Island I can now highly recommend the barefoot: food, art, wine restaurant. They did the best steak I’ve eaten in a long, long time.

I now have internet at home – if you desperately want to see how I’m going and are too cheap to call me and don’t like reading through the random stuff on my blog you can now find me on MSN at nathanc32hotmail.com you need to put the @ symbol in there – that’s to ward off the evil spam harvesters.

Creatures of habit

Yesterday marked my one month anniversary* as a full time worker. This means that Monday must have been my one month anniversary** in Townsville – and no one sent me a card or even an sms. Clearly you’ve all moved on.

Doing the same thing 30 days in a row is meant to establish it as a habit (I read that somewhere – if this was an impressive blog there’d be a link to it here – that’s not a real link but it might help you find the information you’re looking for). So here’s my current habitual daily routine:
7.00am – Mobile phone alarm goes off – I am roused to the sounds of Strongbad yelling “TROGDOR” – I open my phone and quite coherently for the time of morning set it to snooze for a further 30 minutes. As far as I’m concerned this is much more efficient than hitting the snooze button the 6 times that would otherwise be required – LG life’s good.
7.30am – TROGDOR…snooze button
7.35am – TROGDOR…snooze button
7.40am – TROGDOR…snooze button
7.45am – TROGDOR…sn… You thought I was going to say snooze button again didn’t you. But this is where I get up.
7.46am – Shower and shave (if required)
7.55am – iron shirt, put on shoes, search for wallet, two mobiles and keys
8.05am – Drive to work
8.30am – Arrive at work
8.30am – 9.00am – read the papers looking for references to Townsville or anything we might have done with the media the previous day.
9.00am – 5.00pm – juggle “a thousand” (that’s in my best Fatty Vautin voice, indicating that it’s not actually a thousand, just a lot.) responsibilities to our different departments – including putting together press releases, handling media requests, writing columns for different magazines, organising “famil” programs for visiting travel journalists, going on famils, and eating free meals.
5.00pm – drive home from work
5.30pm – get home from work – at this point my day decends into chaos – some nights I do interesting things, other nights I go across the road to the shops, buy Chinese takeaway and drink beer in front of the television.

As you can probably tell with a variety of responsibilities that are always changing it’s pretty difficult to establish a “routine” in this role.

But what I really wanted to write about today is monks. Monks wear “habits.” Are they called “habits” because monks have very structured daily routines? Do they have to wear them thirty days in a row before they can be called habits? Why am I even writing about monks? Well… in Romans 5 there’s a famous passage about suffering being a good thing. Some traditional monks devoted their lives to this belief – often flagellating themselves to bring about spiritual growth. I’m thinking of starting a “ministry” where I offer to “flagellate” others to help with their spiritual growth. I think that’s a biblical idea. However, I wouldn’t look up flagellation on dictionary.com to find out what it means. You may assume I’m perverted (I know all of you have already done that – read entry three. It’s a punishment people. Nothing suss). So join this ministry today and whip a fellow Christian – you’re really doing them a favour.

*Technically you can’t have a one month anniversary – an anniversary is annual – as in once a year. I guess popular usage dictates meaning, so in the absence of a better word I’ll stick with that one.
** See above point.

Nothing Eggsiting

Haha… A pun, and an Easter pun no less – what a way to start this week’s post. I just had my first Easter Long weekend away from my family (unless you count the time I went on Easter camp, which I’m not – I was within 150km and I still got eggs). I guess my hope for chocolates to be posted was unfounded – unless they’re still in the mail. What sort of parents let their children go an Easter without eggs. My parents, that’s who. The kind of parents who spend Easter on holidays on the Sunshine Coast.

My Easter long weekend was good – in a productive kind of way. I achieved something major on each day – as well as doing the church thing on Friday and Sunday. On Friday I installed a new car CD/MP3 player in my car – albeit with the help of a qualified electrical engineer – I got him to help just in case I blew up the unit which would have been a waste of money. On Saturday I went to a breakfast de-brief session for the Da Vinci Code mission team at AFES staff worker Dave Walker’s house. I spent most of the day entertaining the Walker children and putting up a post for the Walker’s new deck area. Chris, if you’re reading this – Dave says I remind him of you – or something like that. I’m worried that he thinks we have a similar sense of humour. On Sunday I confronted all my fears and led the singing in church – something I haven’t done since my voice broke (except this one time for a Qut Christians service). I’ve decided I’d rather MC, preach or do stand up comedy – anything up the front is less intimidating than songleading – I had about 20 minutes to practice 4 songs. I think the difference between singing and other stuff up the front is that you only really get one bite of the cherry. When I MC I’m happy to make mistakes and then redo them – there’s just no scope for that in the middle of a song – you can’t resing a line. So that was Sunday. Yesterday I did my laundry and played indoor soccer – one of those was a very painful process. I’m in so much pain today. I’m walking around the office like a robot. In my defence we did play two games (we lost both of them after winning 14-1 last week we’re just trying to make it hard for the competition organisers to grade us).

So there you have it – nothing exciting as promised in the title. I bought a copy of the new Augie March CD yesterday. I can highly recommend it. It’s on high rotation in my car – unfortunately this means I’m driving slow, mum says the speed I drive at is modulated by the pace of the music I’m listening to.

To all the netball commenters (or commentators) out there – go get your own blog. GOSH.

A bit fishy

After Saturday’s garage sale efforts i’m the proud owner of a new fish tank. Bartering in person is so much more fun than bidding on things on ebay. I got two fish tanks (a 4 foot one and a 1 foot one) for $20. At the next garage sale we went to I bought a brand new industrial fish tank pump for $35 (retails at $160, priced at $50 – the guy selling it used to run an aquarium). My strategy is to have a limited range of bank notes in my wallet – then you can say I only have $X amount – will you take it? Most people say yes. Other purchase highlights include – a fish tank stand $5, a set of Remington Hair Clippers (working) $2.50, two beer mugs – $1 and a set of book shelves (with 5 Ben Elton books thrown in) $20. That was a highlight too – the lady was asking $25 for the shelves and $1 each for the books. I already own copies of all the books so these are my lending copies. The experience on the whole was, in the words of the mastercard adds – priceless. Tim and Craig – my garage sale companions – were suitably excited by their tuperware purchases.

The absolute purchase highlight deserves a paragraph of it’s own. I am now the proud owner of a golden, plastic bust statue of our illustrious former Prime Minister Robert (Bob) Hawke. But wait, there’s more. Not only is it a life like representation of Labors woolly haired union powerhouse – it doubles as a drinks dispenser. With a lid on his crown and a tap in his chest it’s the perfect party centrepiece. And how much would you pay for this item? Mum’s probably wondering how much I would pay for this item. Cast aside your fears. While the woman selling this triumph of political humour was almost unwilling to part with her effigious (I hope that’s a word – what do you reckon Kutz?) masterpiece. She had priced it at a fairly reasonable 50 cents. Not 50 cents the rapper – 50 cents the currency. Not to be deterred by this desire to price said statue out of the market – I approached the vendor with my counter offer of 30 cents which she duly accepted. It now sits atop my recently purchased bookshelves. I’m trying to decide whether Bob needs a hat to complement his golden brow.

The other highlight of our morning’s jaunt down garage sale lane was an actual “Garage Sale” – a used car yard had advertised its garage sale in nominal garage sale column in the weekend classifieds.

Unfortunately my quest for both Kitschy and kitchy glass ware will have to be continued in another time at another place.

Other weekend highlights included my stint as a Big League vendor (I got to use the word vendor twice – now three times – in the one entry. That has to be some sort of record.) at Friday night’s grand final rematch between the Cowboys and the Tigers. We took our place amongst people promoting worthy causes such as junior rugby league and returned veterans – their spiels were eluting a much emotive response from patrons. I felt it was my responsibility to take a stand for the poor, big, multi national media conglomerates behind the NRL’s official match programmes. Cries of “support junior rugby league” and “raise money for our wounded veterans” were soon drowned out by my best, most boomingest (not a word – unless Kutz has an opinion to the contrary) voice yelling “GET YOUR BIG LEAGUES – SUPPORT NEWS LIMITED.” Needless to say – I got some dirty looks, but I sold a lot of copies so that’s ok. That’s the price you pay for success I guess and I’ve always got the cold, approving stare of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke to go home to.

Just Ace

So… who took my Motor Ace CDs? I remember lending them to someone but I can’t remember who. I figure this is as good a forum as any for chasing down lost property. Feel free to post anything you’re missing in the comments page. Material possessions only please, not personality traits, Matt I’m afraid they won’t be able to find your charisma anywhere. That joke could have been directed at anyone. Hopefully Matt can take it… and he did suggest I should start hugging echidnas.

There’s not really much news here at the moment. It’s been quiet at work for the last couple of days, I can now catch up on my employee induction procedures and do all the background reading on our major projects.

I’m going garage sale shopping tomorrow. Last time I was up here I did a little bit of treasure hunting with Tim and Katrina (new AFES staffworkers up here). Katrina was horrified when I made snide comments about some terrible stuff that was being sold. Tomorrow she has a girl’s breakfast so it will just be Tim and me. I plan to be noisily critical of anything tacky being sold. I will try to get photos of the most offensive items with my phone. I may even buy the worst bit of glassware and offer it as a prize in some blog related contest. That’ll get the hits up. Hopefully one day my blog will be more popular than google. There are two ways I can see this happening – Google may experience a sharp downturn in popularity as a result of revelations about the sweatshop like conditions they have set up for employees in third world countries. Or I could experience a sharp upturn in popularity, achieving global fame and use the blog as my method of maintaining my connection with you ordinary, common, everyday folk. Neither of these are likely to happen. Even with the incentive of kitchy 70s crockery.

Wednesday, Bloody Wednesday

Apologies firstly for the use of vernacular in the title. It would seem though that as a result of Tourism Australia’s “where the bloody hell are you” campaign the word bloody is now an acceptable, but slightly cheeky, piece of Australiana. Actually I should really be apologising for a reference to a U2 song. I guess it’s a song from before they were middle aged political activists trying to be cool while writing inoffensive, sugar sweet pop music that you could play your gran (hi gran if you’re reading this again). How cool is my gran – she posted a comment on a blog. I bet your gran doesn’t do stuff like that.

This is my first blog post on a Wednesday. Wednesday’s have traditionally been lambasted as terrible office days – the furthest point from a weekend. In fact right now, in the middle of the day, must be the absolute middle of the week. How significant. Today I didn’t want to get out of bed. It was drizzly, my airconditioning and quilt were combining to keep me at optimal sleeping temperature and my alarm clock was just a distant buzzing problem which could be solved by a quick press of the snooze button. Or several quick presses of the snooze button. Luckily after 22 years I know myself pretty well so I set my alarm to go off much earlier than it has to.

The post cyclone activity cycle is on the down hill run now. We had Fran Bailey, the Minister for Small Business and Tourism come through town yesterday. She addressed a power lunch/forum on the issues in her portfolio post cyclone. I got to go. My free meal count for the week is up to 4. It could have been 5 but I blew off a church dinner arrangement last night to do important other things (nothing really, well a phone call or two and a DVD – I bought Run Lola Run from the local Video Ezy for $10 – a bargain at twice the price, unfortunately it was a badly dubbed version rather than the subtitled version… but I digress. End Brackets.). So far I’ve had sausages, bacon, eggs and croissants for breakfast at an animal park, crab, chicken and prawns at a resort, a roast at the church’s youth minister’s house, and Atlantic Salmon followed by a cheese/fruit platter at the casino. I capitalised Atlantic Salmon because that’s the way it should be served, as a proper noun.

Free food aside, it was interesting hearing from the Hon Fran Bailey MP. She spoke about baby boomers hogging all the good jobs in traditional big business. This has apparently forced the youth of today into more entrepreneurial roles. Big business now outsource a whole lot of niche things like training and stuff. So I quit my job and started a company. Well I didn’t. But if anyone has any good niche ideas that come with free food…

The dinner at the youth minister, Dave Hopper’s house was good. We’re/we were discussing the direction to take young adult stuff at the church in. There’s a bunch of uni student types who are so heavily involved in AFES stuff they’re not doing anything at church and there’s a shortage of people involved in leadership roles for teenage and children’s stuff. Which brings me to my favourite topic at the moment – the relationship between church stuff and parachurch stuff. I think one day I’m going to write a book on the whole church vs uni ministry conflict. It’s bizarre that it even operates as a conflict – surely as part of the one kingdom or wider church there should be a more synergetic or symbiotic relationship between the two groups. Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out. Both the AFES staff workers up here go to Willows so there’s this occasionally tense undercurrent somewhere in the background (which I assume is where most undercurrents operate.)

So there’s a rambling update free of fake news (not that my stories about breaking an artwork and killing a national icon were fake it’s just that as Matt so rightly pointed out in his comments, or at least the sentiment in those comments pointed out – they weren’t really news. Actually I’m not sure his comments were pointing that out at all – I just wanted to put his name in the main bit to encourage further comments so did it in a way that vaguely supported my original point. I’ve been spending too much time with politicians.)

Once again I destroyed something beautiful

Not content with my destruction of a work of art, tonight I stooped to an all new low. I joined the exclusive road kill club. It was a bit wet, in dark outskirt streets and my windows were foggy and I swear that Echidna just jumped out at me.

It made a funny crunch sound. Almost exactly the kind of noise you’d expect a prickly animal to make. I was doing the speed limit (100kph) so couldn’t really stop to make sure it was dead. I guess it’s the kind of incident where you want the thing you’ve hit to be dead for its own sake.

What is the road kill protocol? Should I have stopped to make sure it was dead – utilising the tyre iron in my back seat for a quick blow to the little blighter’s prickly head? Should I have just continued on my merry way under the false assumption that I’d missed him, hit a stick and he was actually fine. I’m calling it a him because I think under the circumstances it’s safe to assume he was a he. Girls just don’t have the propensity for playing on the roads after dark.

Let this be a lesson to you all.

The day I became an Iconoclast

Monday mornings are bad. Today I woke myself up stupidly early to get into the office before a corporate breakfast. This was my first bad Monday morning as a full time professional worker. I turned up bushy eyed and bright tailed. Well actually I had no tail. But my early morning coffee did the trick. Breakfast was a selection of traditional hot breakfast foodstuffs eaten at a local animal sanctuary – surrounded by the animal inhabitants of said sanctuary and several interstate visitors looking at hosting corporate functions in Townsville.

Those of you familiar with my artistic opus (I’m not sure it was a magnum opus and it certainly wasn’t a magnum [of either the pistol variety or the ice cream]) Progress In Art may be sad to learn of its untimely demise over the weekend. Due to an absence of picture hanging capabilities in my bedroom (and uncertainty as to whether it would be appropriate to hammer nails into the wall for that purpose) I had placed the rather fragile masterpiece rather precariously on the fluro light on my wall. It looked pretty good there. The lighting was just right. For those of you who haven’t seen it it was basically the insides of a broken discman attached by sticky tape to a framed pane of glass. I was playing some music with a bass line (you know the notes played by the left hand, often below middle C – not the fishing line you’d use to catch bass – English is a fun language to play with) and the subwoofer in my room shook the wall causing the frame to fall to a rather crushing, crashing and smashing halt on the floor below. This made me sad. Mostly because I had to clean up the broken glass. But that was my second most brilliant creation ever. A triumph over the inherent stupidity of postmodern art. Clever on many, many levels. And now it’s gone.

It’s sad when the biggest bit of news you have to report is a broken piece of homemade artwork.

I went to my first Willows working bee on Saturday. Then I went for a cruise around the bay between the mainland and Magnetic Island. It had free food, drink and a band. Yesterday I went to church. Tonight I’m having dinner with the youth minister at Willows to discuss what I’ll be doing with the church this year. It looks like I’ll be co-ordinating the young adults stuff. Consider yourselves updated.

Until next time.

Goodbye.