Monday, August 25, 2008

The pursuit of happiness

Ah the fun times we have had in Sydney. This should be the bit when I tell you all that I'm actually a man (above). Joking.

Lè passport has arrived. Joy and relief.

Good news for Labour in New Zealand. I too shall be walking with a spring in my step. Bonne chance! (Whatever that means)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Never thinking about tommorow.

I've been asked to write a post but today is Sunday which meant two days ago; the weekend started and tomorrow is Monday. One word to describe today: bleak.

But not as bleak as the weather back home. Rumor has it that Auckland hasn't had a dry weekend since May. Someone tell me this is not so. Looks like the rest of the week is not looking that fine either.

Okay this is just all small talk. I miss home.

p.s: Infatuated with Cactus Kate at the moment. God I love her!

Nice suit... Do you want to come home with me?

Stressful days. Passport being unreachable due to a large bureaucratic, government organisation. However, this still didn't deter me from having a good weekend. Probably one of the best Saturday nights in a long time. And I'm not beating myself up about sending my passport through the post. (Never, ever, do this in a foreign country) I've been miss sensible two shoes in this country (ish) and have stuffed up, but am reminded that I'm only human. And what is the point in staying home all weekend, staring at the letterbox waiting for - literally - my passport out of here.

Ever the optimist...

I ticked all the boxes last night.

Crazy we-think-we're-gorgeous dancing? Yes. (And yes we are!)
Told by a stranger that he loves me? Yes.
Waking up in an unfamiliar house in Glebe? (No, didn't go home with that stranger) Tick.
Walking past cheery early rises on their morning walk? Yes. Moooooortifying.
Great, great DJs... Yes.
Bleakest hangover ever? YESS.

So bleak. Sundays really are the worst when you're not at home. You know those Telecom ads where people get in touch with one another? It's so like that in real life. And when a friend calls, you run out of things to say, because you live such a separate life now. I thought travelling was good for the soul, not emotionally wrenching. Sour with the sweet.

I think I'm in love with Acdc. It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.

I miss miss miss home. More than ever, because I'm supposed to be there now. I hope home misses me too.

P.S. Great quote from Cactus Kate: "Fuck being boring when you can afford not to be." Might mean a different thing to me but I dig it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday is List Day

Before you escape across the ditch there are a few things in the disclaimer that you need to be aware of. Some people say that Sydney is better than Auckland but it really is a matter of personal preferences. The following is a list of things that I will not miss about Australia.

Recruitment consultants

They are, essentially, people with little qualifications and too much power. They will be full of exaggerated promises of high pay, assurances that they want the best job for you; not just to fill a position. In Sydney most recruitment companies automatically get about forty percent of your pay - all for a very un-in depth hour interview and the fact that they process your salary and tax. Do not piss them off. Always remember that there is so much they don't tell you. The consultant I found is actually really good, in the fact that she has so many clients (at least 5 due to my referrals) and can find a job for you within hours. At one stage our whole flat was using this consultant. This was useful when the house 'flooded' and only one person had to call in sick. This was not so good when we had a particularly hard Tuesday night, resulting in not everyone telling her they wouldn't be in, leaving me to cop the explanations. And I have never been a good liar.


There is something about the roads here. Crossings are few and far between and gaps between traffic are rare. It has taken me a full ten minutes of waiting just to cross the road to my flat. And you can't stand between lanes. The cars whizz by so fast that you undo all the good blood pressure from eating extra virgin olive oil for several years.

Oxford Street

I have a love/hate relationship with Oxford Street. It is like tequila: fun but messy. I have been dragged there many times because of my propensity to attract good looking homosexual guys as friends. In some ways, Oxford Street is more misogynistic than going out to straight bars. Females are far more likely to get rejected for being 'drunk' and they certainly don't get served first at the bar. And I am not used to either.

Sheer magnanimity

This country is effing HUGE. I look out my window at work and see a stretch of land that never ends. It is less green than New Zealand and uncomfortably unfamiliar. This makes workloads bigger too, especially when dealing with statistics. It's just so much bigger here.

More places to see, more places to go

Ths can be good and bad. Every weekend there is a new bar to go to, a new landmark and a new activity. It gets better with time, but when you first arrive it's like being the new kid at school and not having a map to the playground.


As a matter of fact, Australia has recently closed a few of it's mental hospitals. As a result of this there a more people with mental illnesses in jail, or integrated into society. You can actually tell the difference when observing your experiences of people. But I could just be massively quick to judge so I'm not sure about this one. Andrew Fraser, famous convicted criminal lawyer, agrees with this and writes of his experiences in jail. Good read.

Watch your bag

Remember those stories you were told in school of the first Australian settlers? They were convicts. My phone has been stolen three times in six months (And let's not mention friends who have had things stolen) which makes me drawn to believe that this is a land of thieves. Don't forget what happened to Russell Crowe and Pavlova.

Note: The last two accounts are too presumptuous to be fully serious.

Sheep jokes

How many Kiwis does it take to change a lightbulb?

None, they were too busy

..... doing something else.

Conversations where everyone ends their sentences with a question?

But for some reason, when an Australian guy says the word 'here' or 'engineer' I just go weak at the knees. It is so hot.


Setting up a bank account is reserved only for people who have an address, and to enforce this your card is sent out in the mail. Several days later your pin number is sent out. Gee, why not write the pin number on the card. Banks also open at 9.30 am, only on weekdays. Frustration.

Being chucked in the deep end at work

To save money on paying staff to train staff, they test drive temps with vindictive pleasure until they find the right one. Thank God I am popular with my colleagues.

Cost of living in Sydney


Anti-Terrorism Propaganda

Posters everywhere urging you to report suspicious activity. Cops with guns. Hi-tech security outside shopping malls. Puts me on edge. I went to this expo for work once and the rules were so strict - we all had to wear these funny vests. Not pleased. Boss not pleased either.

Lack of friendly faces

This is a dangerous city. Without sounding like my Mum, you really can't walk home alone at night. People are more apprehensive about talking to strangers and this is probably a good thing. I like to chat to people though and I haven't been able to do much of it here, without suspecting that they are just strange men hitting on me.

I miss home. Only three more days till home...

Blonde Moments

FYE - For your entertainment.
Like the fairy tale character, Little Red Riding Hood can display shocking moments of blondeness. I've never got as far as inside the wolf's stomach though and I think this is where we differ.
1. I was on a plane to London for the first time, having a conversation about the difference between Britain and England. Mistakenly I let out the fact that I thought the UK and Britain were the same thing.
2. Starting a new job in Sydney, the person 'training' (I use that word in it's loosest term) me kept going on about some acronym, EA. (Executive Assistant) I was going to ask her what an EA was, but some higher sense kept my mouth shut. I was an EA. I hate acronyms.
3. I still don't really know the difference between the words 'bringing' and 'taking' used in a sentence. And I don't care.
4. No matter how many times I drive through it, I always get lost when driving back to the city from South Auckland.
5. Walking into a glass revolving door on Friday night, in front of a male I was trying to impress.
6. In Parliament, never ask official-looking people if they work for Parliamentary Services. How am I supposed to recognise all 120 MPs..?
7. Walking into the CEO's office at work thinking that it's my bosses' office as they are right next door to each other and look identical.
In younger days...
8. Thinking that a ferry was a fairy; understandably I was very excited about my first trip on one.
9. Getting everyone in my class to sign a 'politician' (petition) against the teacher for keeping everyone in during morning tea every day.
10. Feeding little sister parsley (her first solid food) at six weeks old because I was told it was good for you.

We're back

Red Confectionery is a-changing. An election is looming in Kiwiland and we can't be complacent. We have to "raise standards," and "bring up the tone." And post more.

In my attempted revamp I accidentally got rid of well, everything, making this site look a bit lacking.

So, three things:

1. Little Red Riding Hood is not one but several people (which could be metaphorical or physical, you decide).
2. I have a great template in mind, Andrew Falloon where are you? Please leave comment with your email. We will return the favour in a non-sexual way.
3. I've forgotten what the third thing is. Monday morning. Too difficult. Jealous that New Zealand is two hours in front of Sydney, and therefore have two hours less left of their Monday. Now I remember what I was going to say: Booty Luv "Some kinda rush" is still in my head. From Friday night. Ugh.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Not so frivolous objections

As National’s true agenda comes out one can’t help but feel a little disdain for their so-called commitments to carbon trading and renewable energy investment. Surprise, no, disdain, yes. Not when they are pledging to spend $25 million on oil and gas exploration over the next three years. Oh, and overturn the ban on building new gas power stations. In this day and age? Oil is running out. Overwhelming scientific consensus says that the earth is heating up from anthropogenic carbon emissions. To say that National’s inability to think long-term is worrying is an understatement. I think I may actually get ulcers in my stomach from this…

No wonder Nandor quit politics; it’s hard enough to get Labour to take positive moves for the environment, and ultimately, for the rest of us. Thinking of extending my OE until Labour gets elected again.

Anyway, cynical greenie rant over. That includes the last one on the public sector as well– I’m withholding judgment on the issue, need more experience.

Does anyone else think this Chris Barton holds a certain hotness?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Public sector stories

Occasionally my very powerful bosses have meetings with the all-powerful and ever-elusive MPs that apparently run the show.

I was rather taken aback when I saw *the* state Minister for Health. The Hon Reba Meagher is an attractive 41 year old female - much below the age of most of the executives in the Public Health Sector. This is great - she is young, female and holds a very senior position in government. Rare.

What I don't get is why I find this disconcerting. I look up the Hon Nicola Roxon, Federal Health Minister, and find that she is the same age and level of attractiveness (depending on whether you prefer blondes or brunettes).

Yeah, like I said, I don’t know exactly why I find it disconcerting. Could it be because neither MP has a medical background? Or the fact that they’re obviously career politicians? Am I prejudiced against young females. (no)

In this web that is the public health system, I’m trying to figure out who really runs the show. Politicians, public servants, or doctors, nurses, ambos and the like.

Sure, so politicians get to decide how much money goes where. But public servants have a lot more discretion in how it is spent, who gets hired, and the precise nature of how things are run. Medical practitioners get the benefit of (supposedly) being listened to because of their frontline knowledge, plus the fulfilment that comes with administering care to patients and making them healthier people… blah blah. At the end of the day the Minister of Health has the power to sack the Director-General, but it can’t be done without grounds.

So why go into politics, apart from the obvious ego boost? In the public sector you can get paid just as much as the base salary for an MP (and more), you can fuel your interest in politics, you don’t have to stick photos of your gob up around the city every few years, you wouldn’t have to deal with endless phone calls from whinging, bigoted, misinformed constituents, and the newspapers wouldn’t care if you had a few drinks at the fashionable Ivy now and then. You wouldn’t be criticised for having no children (a personal decision which I find profoundly rude to comment on), you wouldn’t be accused of being a lesbian if you were a powerful woman. You could still make a difference in the job that you do, without the stress of the intense schedule of a profession that is severely underpaid for the hours that it demands.

The quality of work performed in a minister’s portfolio has almost nothing to do with how the minister performs; but how well their respective departments/ministries are run. Fact. There just isn’t much that they can do, and even if they did manage to revamp what is essentially a giant, giant company, their hard work wouldn’t be seen by the public. When an MP seeks leave to table something in Parliament during question time it is up to the meek civil servants to run around like headless chickens to find the figures. I have been in the midst of this and it makes for a fun afternoon.

With the media factoring heavily on how governments communicate these days, too much has come to depend on how things appear, rather than how they actually are.

I think what I am trying to say with this post is that I find it hard to take these two ministers seriously when I have worked for their portfolio and seen the bigger machine that is at work. And it is rather eye-opening.

Friday, August 08, 2008

More inadvertent quotes from National

Nitwit Nick Smith from National was quoted two years ago as saying that New Zealand should pull out of Kyoto.

I wonder if he would say the same now that Global Warming is a fashionable bandwagon. (So much that it almost puts me off)

A hidden agenda? An indication of what National would really do (because come on, we really want to know) if elected to lead the Government?

I think YES.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Lessons learned in the workplace

As many people know, on Wednesday nights I often revert to a de-stressing, more commonly known as mid-week tipples. I was a bit upset last night. Offended. We headed off to our local at around 9pm and proceeded to buy a drink. The barman (not the usual friendly has-a-crush-on-me one, I noted) would not serve us. It seems last week’s salt and pepper shaker stealing was not taken well. Note that it wasn’t me who did this, but a flatmate who moved to France on Tuesday.

Shock and shame reverberated through my system. People my age, sorry, my maturity level do not not get served in pubs. So, we went home and without further ado proceeded to drink the chardonnay in the fridge. Depression from being denied entry. After about 3 hours of talking crap I traipsed up to bed. Hence the reason why I’m tired, irritable and in possession of negative attention span.

Combined with the fact that I have the freedom of my own office (one thing they do not do to most people my age), this does not bode well at work.

Anyway, one of my tasks today (and I only did it because I love paramedics…uniforms….drool) was to locate hospitals with ED departments along a map route. Harder than it sounds. In a big organisation it can sometimes be damned near impossible to find the simplest things. And even harder to find competent people. At times I have groaned with frustration at the systems in place that make getting anything done very slow. And the bigger the department, the cloudier the water. I’m not talking about red tape, I’m talking about bad management at a local level, high staff turnover and lack of skills being passed on, inability to juggle the wider picture with small details, communication ineptness and all round INCOMPETENCE.

I'm not saying I work in a place like this but I have seen a bit here. And I can bag it because it's Australia, not New Zealand.

It is rampant everywhere. Some people are incompetent by choice, and some by nature. And some of them are actually smart enough to display much of the following:

1. They mask their incompetence by refusing to accept responsibility for any of their considerable mistakes – blaming them instead on temps, admin assistants, kiwis, and the young nice and vulnerable.
2. They carry themselves about with aplomb and a veneer of busy-ness and fluster, in order to delegate their more menial and mind-numbing tasks to you.
3. They are masters of subtle patronising, so that you always feel inadequate and incompetent around them. (And then leave their office feeling confused)
4. For some reason they have a close relationship with someone in charge, so that you have to endure your boss go on and on and on about how able this employee is. (You leave your bosses' office feeling even more baffled)
5. They are slow at responding to requests and they never seem to get anything done (especially if you're the one who asked for it).
6. In order to bitch their way up the work food-chain, they go mental when you make a tiny mistake. This once involved the ticking of a post-it (one that was a note to myself), when in fact it should have been half a tick. Long tedious story.
7. If someone is nasty to them like they deserve, they slowly start to slime the person off behind their back, and try to get you to do it too.
8. They are often late and take long, leisurely lunch breaks.

All this is done discreetly, though blindingly obvious if you observe for five minutes. Admittedly I only fully realised this with the benefit of hindsight.

These people are a pain in the friggin arse. I know that in the long run if I grit my teeth sometimes and take it up the ass from whoever pays my salary I'll be rewarded, as would anyone with a good bullshit threshold.

As for dealing with these characters, I think it's best to assert yourself early. Ignore the unsubstantiated side comments (be unaware: "sorry, did you just insult me/Sharon/Lorraine?") and just get the hell on with it. If you're so inclined, one day you'll be in charge (because complete idiots rarely become directors) and you can hire whoever the fuck you want.

Which could be a lot less with the right people. For these reasons I can understand why politicians like Phil Goff tend to do all their staff's work for them. The most able and noted directors I know rarely need a calendar; they prioritise and complete things without checklists and are bloody brilliant at it.

Fascinating thing, the workplace. Hell of a lot better than studying when in the right job.