Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The land of sheep, jandles* and LOTR

Yes that's right dear readers, I am off to New Zealand today!

I fly to Auckland with my lovely colleague Carly in a couple of hours as we are hosting an event with the NZ consumer media for our client Logitech. It looks set to be a good one - we are showing off all our speakers and the Ultimate Ears headsets. We also did the event in Sydney last week so know it is going to be fun.

The event is tomorrow afternoon/evening, and then Carly heads back to the office on Friday morning. I will have to pop to the bar to pack things back into boxes but then... AM ON HOLIDAY! Until Monday lunchtime I shall be free to galivant and frolick, sightsee and tourist.

I am very excited and shall update on you my adventures when I return.

* Flip flop to you Brits, thongs to the Aussies.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In one week...

Wow. Obama's closing speech. If the Americans elect this man I will be, for the first time in my life, envious of American citizens.

If they elect this man they will be lucky enough to be lead by a true leader. And that is rare.

Time to dispair (and cross your fingers)

The US presidential election is nearing (just in case it had passed you by) and while not following it religiously, the media coverage over the last few months has interested me greatly.

This is, of course, partly because the American Circus has managed to find some highly entertaining characters to play the lead roles. But it has also been caused by the absolute lack of shame that Americans have for some rather contraversial views.

I should declare up front that (like all non-Americans I imagine) if I were an American voter I would vote Obama. I detest Sarah Palin, her dodgy (if limited) past and shocking inability to do her job as a candidate (which largely requires her to simply construct coherent sentences).

So declaration out of the way... what's riled me? Well there seem to be altogether too many people who manage to call themselves "political strategist", but its more than that. Here is a quote from today's Sydney Morning Herald...

Long-time political strategist and Washington power broker Pauline Hanson stating that Obama "concerns me greatly because of his Muslim background and time in Indonesia".

Why is outright racism, prejudice and (perhaps the greatest offence) ignorance so tolerated in America? A comment like this in the UK would end the career of a politican (unless they were BNP).

I am reaching the end of my lunch break, so I don't have the time to find other such examples but there have been so many over the last few months that I genuinely worry whether there are enough educated, sane, stable and unprejudiced people in the US to vote sensibly. History indicates possibly not.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Three for three

Big Tim Bond tagged me in a meme a while ago and because I have been rather busy I have rudely ignored the tag until now. Soz Tim!

It is all particularly remiss because the meme is about Top 3s. My old skool hardcore followers will possibly know that when I started TOE I also started another blog.... Top3, in which I listed my top 3 of a lot of things (sandwiches, people you shouldn't fancy but do... etc).

So its now a Sunday night, and having spent the whole day brunching and pinking slightly at Bondi beach I am finally going to answer him. Then if my big sister doesn't turn up for our Skype date I shall take myself off to bed. All this fresh air can exhaust a girl!

Top 3 non-work related websites:

BBC website: when living away from the UK the occasional flick onto BBC news keeps you nicely abreast of the panic of the day back home.

Google: Almost seems like its not even a website anymore, but it is, and about 96% of my unique web activity starts there. I go to the Oz one these days, of course!

ANZ: who can survive without online banking these days??

Top 3 karaoke songs:

I don't do karaoke, because I can't sing. Nor do I particularly like listening to other people who can't sing. However, I do sing in my car (and Polly's and Elle's, as they will both atest) so here are my top 3 car sing-songs:

1) Spandau Ballet - GOLD! (gold...)
2) Billy Joel - We didn't start the fire
3) Kim thingymebob - Bette Davis Eyes

Top 3 cocktails:

Ah now this is much more my area of specialism:

1) Classic cosmopolitan
2) Mojito
3) Lime Daquari

Actually, generally just the cosmo keeps me happy.





Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Long time gone?

I have been in Australia for nearly five months.

Three of those months were officially winter. For the last month and 22 days we have been in spring.

But this morning I realised I am thoroughly spoilt on this side of the world.

Because this morning when I woke up I spotted that it was raining. Heavy rain. And a general greyness was seeping around the blinds, rather than the usual crisp and clean morning sunshine.

As I lay in bed I thought to myself "urgh, what a horrid day. I don't want to get up. What if I get wet?"

And then I wondered for a long while how on earth I *ever* got out of bed in the UK, when this scene greeted me every single morning?

I may have already been in Oz too long to cope back in what I like to call The Real World.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A weekend in the country

Those who know me will know that my penchant for cosmopolitans and shoes is really just a cover-up. It conceals my natural inclination to don wellington boots at every opportunity and convene a little too closely with nature.


So this weekend's road trip to Bathurst (or somewhere near it, or something) was quite a treat. I am still vague on the location exactly, but I know Bathurst is the nearest town, even though Eggo (typically o-ended aussie shortening for something) is a village that is nearer. Or a suburb. Or something.

Anyway. I spent the weekend on my pal Polly's farm. And it was FABULOUS fun. I learnt lots of things....

1) How to drive a quad bike
2) How to catch a sheep
3) Numerous variations on how to hold said sheep to stop it getting away again
4) What a GINORMOUS huntsman spider looks like
5) A handy way to kill said spider
6) That ricotta pancakes are lovely
7) That I am equally fond of sticky date pudding
8) That Australia has a palm tree thing which only flowers once it has been chargrilled in a forest fire
9) That there are numerous varieties of ute
10) That kangaroos are not (as I have long suspected) a mythical beast!!!

So you see all in all its been a rather good weekend.

Feeling slightly out of place at my desk today, armed with a mobile phone with reception.

Pol, take me back to the farm, please?





Sunday, October 19, 2008

A weekend meme...

I got tagged in a meme on Friday, and have just come back from a weekend in Bathurst so waitng for my photos to upload so here goes... (Bathurst post to follow!)

Here’s the rules, which are rather reminiscent of chain letters from school days, but minus the death threats.

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog
2. Share 7 facts about yourself, some random, some weird
3.Tag 7 more people
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog (I love that they have this rule, like there is no way the people you tag might actually find it on your blog... or like you even care).

OK... seven things...

1) When I was little we used to get our hair cut at some random woman’s house after school. One day while playing in the garden with the random woman’s sons and waiting for my sister’s dead straight fringe to be cropped I went flying over a skateboard and a stick went into my leg. I remember it hurting, but I remember being really fascinated that I reckoned I could see the bone of my knee cap. I still have a scar. I couldn’t tell you how old I was... somewhere between 6 and 9 maybe?
2) I think I have a fault in my memory where I can’t really remember much after 10 years. I have very few childhood memories in any great detail, and what I can remember I often discover is a snapshot in an album rather than my own memory. Still I am not bitter because I usually live in the moment (or the future, dreamer that I am) and I know I had a pretty happy childhood. The odd things I do remember (like my dad very occasionally bringing 3 Crunchie bars home after work on a Friday night as a treat) are great memories.
3) This weekend I learnt how to drive a quad bike and how to catch a sheep. Just grab 'em by their back legs. If you sit them up like a teddy bear or tread lightly on their neck they stay as still as a baby
4) One day I will do a job where I work from home (or my farm!) in hippy skirts and big jewellery. I will earn good money for whatever I do so won’t have to work long hours and can play with my children in the sunshine a lot. Yeah I know... it’s the kind of dream someone whose entire memory of the past is a hazy idyllic bubble isn’t it?
5) I always have to have prettily painted toe nails but rarely bother with my fingernails a) because God blessed me with reasonably pretty hands anyway (as a reward for having thunder thighs) and b) because they would just chip because I can’t resist getting stuck into life, which invariably causes chipped nails. Although this weekend I *did* have painted nails and managed to catch a sheep without chipping them!
6) I have a history degree and am essentially an arts rather than a science person (hell, I even did Art A level) yet I have rocked up in the technology industry and have a reputation for being the geek of the team. I could explain to you now in really easy to understand ways just what Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) are. But you wouldn’t care. In fact, I often also go so far as to describe them as “my favourite technologies”.
7) I have a thing (which I recently learnt is an actual condition) called Synaesthesia. What it means is I see words as colours. It’s supposedly because nerves in my brain are fused together so when you say Wednesday (in fact when I even think the word Wednesday) its green. The whole word is green. I find it really odd when I see the word written in, say, red.

Tagging: Dom, Nicole, Tom, Anna, Jim, Cathy and I would have tagged Elle... but Polly stole her.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Safe and sound?

My beautiful people of my book club (Letchworth Boo to our friends) talk a load of nonsense. I mean this in a complimentary way... but they do. We have a group email address and exchange conversations about the best book/film adaptation, worst ever Bond actor or ‘what we have done today to make us feel proud’ which can last days. In fact I believe the Bond controversy lasted a whole week.

Anyway yesterday’s discussion centred around airport security and as usual a number of the contributions made me giggle into my muesli, so I thought I would share. I am sure Boo will forgive my plagiarising.

It started when Sam (a motorsports journalist who travels extensively to races) announced to everyone that on rummaging through his flight bag after a recent trip he found his multi-tool (pliers, knife, saw thing) which had been through Gatwick security without a single raised eyebrow. There were then a few emails discussing Sam’s resemblance to a”typical” terrorist profile (obviously vaguely “foreign”, male, unshaven... you know the type ;-) when Felicity (the epitome of a blond English Rose) pointed out that her lethal Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream and mascara obviously posed much more of a threat;

“It's lucky they were around to point out that I had failed to put them into a see through plastic bag, or who could say what could have happened?”

Our resident intellectual lecturer Melissa then revealed that she had spent two years (and 7 odd flights across the Atlantic plus a number of European hops) carrying a 10” bread knife gift from her mother in her laptop bag (as you do).

Felicity then upped that with a friend of hers who managed to persuade El Al to let him get on a flight with a Sami hunting knife... for cultural reasons. She also exposed the name of the airport where “the revolution” will kick off (omitted here for security reasons!) Apparently when their security guard has a day off sick, they just put a sign up by the metal detector asking you just to go through to your gate and straight onto the plane. Terrorist heaven....

I contributed my own story about lunchboxes going unsearched (so you have a free reign to ambush a plane with your yoghurt spoon) but emery boards (cardboard and sand constructions to file your nails) are confiscated and should not be risked.

However, our UCL lecturer won the day by announcing that she once set off the bomb alarms with a dundee cake in a tin when flying down from Scotland. I wonder whether the security guards confiscated it to “assess closer” during their 11am coffee break?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sarah Palin's debating style

So first I become really remiss in my posting regularity, and then I blatantly pinch posts from my friends. Its disgusting the way some people approach blogging isn't it? Promise I will do better in November.


But anyway... straight from Dom's blog with no attempt to conceal the theft, here is a fabulous diagram depicting Sarah Palin's debating style. This woman *terrifies* me. If you have a vote in this one, be sensible...



Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wherever I lay my hat....

Taking it easy this morning, faffing on my laptop while sitting up in bed I stumbled across something kinda cool.

I am from Letchworth Garden City in Herts, but there are Letchworths all over the place! I am used to America and Australia having towns named after British towns but have never seen a Letchworth before - probably because the town is only 105 years old and before that it was a teeny village/hamlet.

Anywa, what I love is that they seem so different! Like someone named their new spot after their home and the name was enough for them to feel comfortable in the new place. So a random spot of Arizona desert is Letchworth. As is what seems like a vaguely industrial suburb of Canberra. Made me smile.

In order: Letchworth, Canberra. Letchworth, AR. Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sex, drugs and PR?

I have to tell you dear reader, I am disappointed.

A few weeks back I got an email from B&T, the marketing industry's trade rag Down Under. It asked me (very nicely) to take 10 mins to complete their annual questionnaire to establish the health of the marketing industry.

That sounds like it would be rather interesting, I thought, and duly contributed. There were all sorts of questions about whether we eat well, what hours we work... all sorts really.

Anyway, this week B&T launched its new format with the results of the survey as its cover story.

In I ploughed, intruiged to know whether my extra special relationship with biscuits is unique in my industry. But I stopped abruptly.

From all the questions that they asked, what resulted was a six page article endlessly paying out PR, marketing and ad folks for drinking and doing drugs. What a tired tired story. What a hackneyed stereotype. It's yawns-ville with pie charts.

I haven't really read it, I'll be honest. I found it so irrelevant to my experience of the industry that I can't be bothered. But from what I did skim, what riled the most was that the numbers don't even support their headlines.

Asked; have you ever used recreational drugs at work or work related events? everyone said no.

PR agencies - 91% no
Media sales - 91% no
Marketing - 94% no
Media agencies - 84% no
Ad agencies - 73% no

Personally I find work tests my brain quite enough without having to try to think under the influence of something someone created in a lab, but I appreciate that might be a little angelic compared to others in my industry.

However, considering that agencies are typically a young demographic, I don't think these numbers are that far off the results you would get if you stood outside Martin Place or Town Hall stations in the morning and asked a random sample of people.

Move on B&T... find another story. Our industry is high pressured. It demands a lot of energy and constant creativity at the same time as long hours, tight deadlines and ambitious financial targets. We have all left work at 8pm and edged straight to the nearest bar for a strong drink on many occasion.

But lets leave behind the discussions that stereotyped us in the 80s. What I wanna know is... how many biscuits do most people need to get through the afternoon???

Thursday, October 09, 2008

100% green

Wow, blog posts around here are like buses! You wait ages, then three come along at once!

Anyway, I have just come off the phone from Energy Australia, my electricity provider, setting up my account for my lovely new flat.

I was cheerfully snoozing while the lady was reading off her little script, when suddenly my ears pricked at the words "...renewable energy... so would you be interested in that?" My response of "yes, I think so, I zoned out a bit there" gave me away, but she kindly repeated the pertinent points.

So for $108.90 extra per quarter, the electricity provided to my flat will now be sourced from entirely renewable energy sources - wind, hydro, solar and (my favourite) the pungent gases that are emitted from landfill.

I have to confess to having been inspired by my client who this week went 100% green themselves. My little investment is nothing compared to theirs of course, but every little counts!

Sausage sizzle

Oh there was one thing I wanted to tell you!

In a client meeting on Monday morning (8 o'clock!! Thats dedication for you...) my client told her colleague; "You are the sausage, I am the sizzle".

Anyone not familiar with the concept of a sausage sizzle need only venture to New South Wales briefly, because they are big fans over here. They are basically a big organised BBQ for something - a corporate event, charity function, whatever. Don't try to find one in Melbourne... they prefer the Pie Night to the Sausage Sizzle down there.

Anyway, I loved it. Had me in stitches (which I attempted to smother - well its a new client!).

Laughing again now actually.

Apology

Hi everyone,

Just a little apology for the radio silence here at TOE. I am rather busy at work at the moment because one of my team has just headed off on maternity leave (good luck Bec!) which has pretty much ruled out blogging at work.

I have also joined the gym and am going a lot because I once got told that its possible to become addicted to exercise, and I think its my only hope.

On top of that, I am finally beginning to feel like my social life has regained its former heights, which essentially leaves me with a quandry once the day is done...

To blog or to sleep.

Anyone who knows me will know how much I like my sleep...

I will endeavour to get my groove back soon so as not to leave you without inane nonsense to read over your lunch each day :-)

Em

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