Dazed and Contused

Ramblings, reviews and ridiculousness from my mind to yours.

Garthmeister's Goal Tracker
Games: 7
Goals: 8
Average: 1.14

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Tuesday, July 22, 2003
 

Kinlay House Internet Connection Fails Blogger


Ah bugger - looks like my last post failed to update properly from the hostel in Cork I was staying at. Most unfortunate! These things happen I guess - and I'll write another post about my Irish adventures soon.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003
 

Garth Invades the UK and Ireland


Week One of Garth's World Tour 2003 has been completed. After surviving the 10 hour flight, 8 hour stopover, 11 hour flight mayhem that was my flight from Sydney to London (via a transit hotel in Seoul) I have:

  • Visited my Uncle and his family
  • Caught the tube approximately 12 times, a black cab once, and a minicab once
  • Visited the British Museum, Trafalgar Square, 10 Downing Street, Tate Modern Museum, London Eye, the Tower, various bridges across the Thames, the Lmb and Flag pub in Covent Garden, the Engineer pub in Camden, and Westminster Abbey in four days
  • Watched Tim Henman win through, then lose, in the Wimbledon Quaterfinals (on TV only, of course)
  • Flown to Dublin from London, meeting up with my ex-girlfriend, and other Irish friends
  • Been to the following Irish pubs/bars in Dublin: the Temple Bar, the Hairy Lemon (where we were too late to get in, despite my ex-girlfriend arguing for 10 minutes with the bounce) and the Break to the Border
  • Caught a stomach bug, then tonsilitis
  • Walked through Dublin, noting how close it is to my ex's flat
  • Caught a bus through Dublin
  • Driven a car through Dublin, to Kilkenny, to Thurles, to Cork, despite not having driven for over 2 years
  • Visited in Ireland: Kilkenny, Kilkenny Castle, the Kilkenny Cathedral, the Rock of Cashel, my ex's sister's house, Thurles and Cork


    So! I've been busy well and truly. My ex and I are into our third day of our driving trip around Ireland. I was pretty sick in Dublin (stupid tonsils), so didn't do as much as I had hoped to do, but will have time there later. Killkenny was lovely - very pretty. Killkenny castle was very impressive as well.

    The ex's sister and her husband were great. Stayed with them yesterday in Thurles, which is in County Tipperary, before visiting the Rock of Cashel - this old stone fortress on a hill in Tipperary. Really impressive.

    We then drove onto Cork (in County Cork), which is the second biggest city in Ireland (behind Dublin). Tomorrow we'll drive onto the Irish coast, and into West coasy.

    We might be able to watch a big hurling match in Galway on Sunday with the ex's sister and husband - Tipperary play Galway in a final (I think) - so that would be cool. Hurling is this psycho Irish game played wielding sticks, and hitting about this hard white ball. Say no more.

    OK, better go. Hope to write some more if I get around to it.

  • Sunday, June 22, 2003
     

    Not Lo-Fidelity


    One thing I really enjoy doing on Sunday evenings is kicking back and watching a movie on TV. Weeks when there are only movies which I would rather gouge out my eyes than watch are tough. But this week we have High Fidelity. This is probably John Cusack's best role ever, not to mention some great turns from Tim Robbins as the slimy ex-neighbour, and Joan Cusack reprising her real life role as John's brother.

    Come to think of it, the first time I saw this movie must have been when I was flying to the US for work a few years back. Huh. Didn't even occur to me until just then.

    At any rate, I enjoyed the movie so much, and heard such good things about the original book and Nick Hornby, that I picked it up. And loved it. It has become a bit of a ritual of mine to read it whenever I'm going through a rough patch in a relationship.

    Warning to any potential Garthmeister J. girlfriends, past or future: I also read it because I like it, so don't assume I'm thinking of breaking up with you if you see me reading it.

    *ahem*

    I guess part of the attraction is that I so closely associate with the protagonist. OK, me and a billion other blokes. Nonetheless, the book and movie just seem to be full of truth. Truth, combined with real characters, superb humour, and a great soundtrack. What's not to like?


     

    Signed, Sealed, and Almost Delivered


    Against all odds, and mildly to my surprise, I have now put my signature to a contract for a transfer to Washington DC. Mind you it took the US office until 10pm or so US time, right at the deadline I imposed. And then I had to correct the factual errors the CEO introduced into the contract at the last moment.

    This officially begins one of the more interesting periods of my life. The next month will now comprise: 5 days of organisation in Sydney, 4 days in London, 21 days in Ireland, 3 days in London, 3 days in Sydney, then at least 6 months in Washington DC.
    As for the contract itself, I tell people the contract is for a minimum of six months, maximum of forever. I've said that a fair few times in the past couple of days. I've played my last game of Aussie Rules for my club, and got extremely drunk a couple of times.

    Right now I feel like Rimmer in Red Dwarf... I have made some lists of things I think I need to do - now I just have to do them.

    I still have to remind myself that these things are going to happen. People ask me if I'm excited about my trip to Europe, and moving to the States, but the fact is I'm a details man when it comes to things like this. I just bear down and do the things I need to do - it's not until I'm on my way to the airport that it hits home.

    Not to mention I still have this thing in the back of mind where I can somehow see the contract being dissolved, or my company exploding, or something. But maybe it's just me.

    Thursday, June 19, 2003
     

    Let's Go To Ray's Place


    The internet (which, you will recall, was invented by Al Gore) is a wonderful publishing medium. It allows people to distribute wonderful pieces of writing, not to mention a lot of complete crap (which includes this blog).

    Something that surprised me was the number of online comic strips. One thing about comic strips - generally they just suck completely. Don't believe me? Go to the nearest newspaper you can find, turn to the comics page, and read all the strips there. Then try not to gouge out your eyes.

    I'm not saying that all comic strips online rule, if for no other reason than most comic strips syndicated in newspapers can be found online (Exhibit A: Cathy). Which means that there are a lot of sucky comic strips on the web, before you even get to the online only strips.

    One of the good comic strips I've come across is Achewood. It is definitely an aquired taste, and isn't for everyone. I spent an afternoon going through the archives from earliest strip to latest strip, and was hooked.

    One of the main characters, who has been dominating the action lately, is Ray the cat. Each Wednesday Ray writes a column, which has lately morphed into an advice column. An extremely funny advice column. Go now and bask in Ray's wisdom.

    And stay the hell away from Cathy.

    Wednesday, June 18, 2003
     

    Deadline Approachin'


    Been a bit quiet around here lately - been concentrating on things happening in real life, rather than describing them in a virtual forum. A lot of my time has been spent thinking and dealing with my potential move to the US - which has been a lot of fun in itself. In fact, let's recap (all times Australian Eastern, probably).

  • 6th May - Employee resigns in the US office. Manager sends company-wide email detailing the resignation, and says there is a position open in the US. I write a one-liner reply, idly wondering what the pay, terms and conditions are for a transfer from Sydney. My team leader writes a similar email.

  • 13th May - US manager replies, with fairly extensive terms and conditions description. I'm a little taken aback, and have to actually consider the offer. I reply the same day, listing a bunch of questions I have about the conditions described. US manager answers some of my questions. Also makes it clear he has to check with our CEO and CFO.

  • 14th May - I write a more detailed reply, stating further consderations. US manager has emailed the Sydney boss, detailing our discussions about my possible transfer to the US.

  • 15th May - I ask a quick question, get a quick answer.

  • 28th May - I approach my boss to try and find out the transfer status during the weekly conference call with the US. Immediately after, US manager requests a conference call with me, him and other US staff.

  • 29th May - We have the meeting, which goes well, and gets into nitty-gritty detail of the potential move. I still haven't received a contract letter. US manager states his intent to have the letter signed off "within 2 weeks".

  • 3rd June - After I ask my boss if there is any info for me after the weekly US conference call, I am told that the US manager has interviewed a local candidate who is "in contention" for the position.

  • 6th June - Annoyed that I haven't heard anything from the US, I write a diplomatic email requesting a status update.

  • 7th June - At this point I start coming in on weekends to see if I get email from the US (their Friday is our Saturday, essentially). The US manager has sent me an email telling me that, yes, they had interviewed and then offered the position to a local, who turned it down. Which "means we are back on". US manager changes certain terms and conditions we had already discussed bu also says he is waiting for comments on a draft letter from the CFO.

  • 9th June - I reply, addressing the changes to the terms and conditions states, the most important being starting in the US on August the 4th. I come back from a holiday in Eorope on July 29th, which gives me a few days in Sydney before flying out - which I would like to have anyway. I also inform the US manager that if I don't have a contract signed off by 20th June, I'm not going. This is partly because even if I sign on the 20th of June I have only one week before I go on holidays (plus 3 days when I come back) before I have to move to the US. It is also partly to set a deadline to pressure the US into getting organised.

  • 10th June - US manager replies, saying the letter is still being reviewed. Asks me if I could fly straight from London to the US instead of coming back to Sydney. I reply immediately, informingthe manager that I am NOT prepared to do that. I want my 3 days to organise things.

  • 12th June - I actually receive a contract! It's mostly OK, despite the fact that some terms and conditions have changed markedly from what had ever been discussed before. The deal-breaker, however, is how I am re-imbursed for the first 6 months "trial-period". Essentially I am getting screwed. My Australian boss agrees, and sends an email to the US manager, stating same, which I am bcc'd on (i.e. US manager doesn't see me on the Australian manager's recipient's list).

  • 13th June - US manager replies to my boss saying he wasnts to see if I accept the contract. I inform the US manager that I think I am getting screwed in the first 6 months, and state what I am prepared to accept (which I consider fair for both parties).

  • 14th June - US manager replies, essentially saying that he has redrafted the letter in line with my wishes, and has sent it to the CFO for comments/approval.

  • 16th June - I reply, saying that I look forward to reviewing the redrafted contract letter. I also restate that my deadline is the 20th of June. I approach my Australian boss, asking him to reinforce the deadline.

  • 17th June - At meeting, after Australian boss reiterates the deadline, US manager says he will try and contact the CFO after the meeting to enquire about progress.

  • 18th June - I still haven't received a redrafter contract.

  • So it is now well over a month since the position opened up in the US, and I still haven't clapped eyes on a contract that I think is fair. I'm not trying to be greedy here, I just don't see why I should subsidise my transfer. Not to mention my frustration with terms and conditions constantly changing, the lack of feedback with progress in the US, and the fact that (without telling me) the US tried to hire someone locally while I was left dangling.

    At this stage some of you may be wondering why the hell I would still want to transfer across to the US, let alone continue working for my company.

    At the end of the day, I still think this is a neat opportunity. If it happens, great - if it doesn't happen, that's OK. And the US has two more days to get me a decent contract - and even if I receive a contract tomorrow that I think isn't quite right, they aren't going to be able to redraft it and get it to me in time.

    Keeps things interesting, I guess...



    Friday, June 06, 2003
     

    Mars Society Revealed to be Monarchy


    At the risk of turning into a hyperlinking website, I was reading Ken Layne when he referred to this bizarre story about the public communicating directly (electronically) via the White House website. The most damaging information revealed?

    Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton admires Paula Abdul. Opposites attract, baby.

     

    Just Call Me The Mish Mish Man


    Just in case you thought the justice system didn't work, here is an example of English court case which should restore your faith.

    When I read: "Dismissing the claim, he added that despite extensive surfing of the Internet in search of illumination, he had been unable to establish whether the words complained of in the rap were actually references to violence and drugs.", I was sure the next paragraph would be: "The judge then added that he did discover that the Internet contains an awful lot of pornography, and he would be researching this issue heavily."

    God bless the Internet.

    Wednesday, June 04, 2003
     

    Guide to Top Aussies


    When I was searching for good pictures of David Boon, I came across this website about "Top Aussies". I remember getting an e-mail a couple of years back which was extremely similar to this (if not exactly the same).

    So go and discover what makes a Top Aussie!