Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Get some trainin mate

I spent today attending two training courses. The first was something about corporate culture - "getting into the blue". Peoples' behaviour is set up into three sectors. Behaviour in the green sector is defensive, and contains things like avoiding responsibility and conflict. Then there is the red sector - things like competitive behaviour, power, perfectionism and so on - the Aggressive sector. Then the blue sector is about the positive things like encouraging others, etc. The company wants us to behave in the blue sector.

We all sit in a circle and this nice lady tries to get us to participate in the "interactive session". Some people join the action, but most of them sit there like they're in a wax-statue contest or something. Totally green behaviour, if you ask me.

This is all well and cute, but I don't know if you can apply things like this to change people's behaviour at the work place. The top 10% of well performing people in companies act mostly in the blue sector. The lowest 10% of badly performing people act mostly in the green and red sectors. Isn't this just how people are? You will always get the top performers and the non-performers, and the in-betweens. But I don't know if you can easily accept a corporate culture and hope everyone will act in this way?

You can influence people to think about the positive, constructive things, but I think most of these behaviours have been formed when these people were little toddlers and mommy and daddy was teaching by example or by reaction to your behaviour - if they were there to do that.

Anyway, the second course was a stunner in terms of boredom. I can't remember when was the last time I had to physically force my eyes open and rock my chair just to stay awake. We changed over to day-light savings time this Sunday, and that also didn't help. I have to get up an hour earlier every morning, and just like in good old Namiebiejah, I hate it.

This guy who is supposed to train us, is standing around, looking unhappy. He is acting in the green sector. "They" did not provide the computer and the other things that he needed.

We all are sitting around a conference table, waiting for him to start this most exciting safety course. This guy doesn't know how to get the PC and the projector going. Now here I witnessed an interesting Australian phenomenon: These Aussie males are a bunch of wimps. Except for Matthew, who jumped up to go and make some photocopies (because "they" didn't provide photocopies), the rest of these guys just sat there and stared at the lecturer. No one moved a muscle. The first one to provide help is a woman. I jumped and started to get the PC and projector going. The only one who helped me was the lady. The guys all just sat there and looked at us with a real "dof" expression on their faces.

Unfortunately that was where the excitement also ended for the day. This course was so boring, I actually nodded off a few times, until the lecturer asked me whether I was OK. Eish. We had to fill in an evaluation of the course. One question was: "what part of the course did you appreciate the most?" - my answer: The end, I was so glad when I could finally get out of this little room.

I have a whole bunch of training courses lined up for the next three months. You have to do a million courses every year as part of your duty. I am so thrilled!!!

Well, at least now I know that if there is a fire in the building, and I am right next to a fire extinguisher, I have to leave the extinguisher to a qualified trained employee and run like hell - because I have not been formally trained in the use of a fire extinguisher. Eish. This is what we were taught today. See what I mean?

As Obelix always says: these Aussies are crazy...

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Aussie "Walk-in closet"

You get no shelves - you have to buy them from IKEA or somewhere else. I don't understand this. (This is the one in my son's bedroom.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Verges and all that

Well, this Biltongboertjie has learnt a lot of new stuff lately. I even found out what the word "verge" means. Or I think I have. I am not on the "verge" of a nervous breakdown, either. I am in love with this country - I really love the place.

By the way, verge is another word for pavement or sidewalk, or "sypaadjie" as we know it in Biltongland.

So, what happens, is this: Every now and then, a certain suburban area is up for verge collection. What happens then, is that people put stuff on the verge. Junk, old furniture, anything. I saw this with my own eyes, and it amazes me to see what people casually put out on the sidewalk.

I have seen, amongst other things, the following items standing on the verge:

TV's. Old ones, new ones, small ones, laaarge ones (that wouldn't fit into my car's boot).

Couches, chairs, even leather couches.

Prams, baby car seats, toys, computer screens.

Bicycles, lawnmowers, camping chairs.

Tables, cabinets, lawn furniture, beds and mattresses

Anyone who drives by can stop and take whatever they want - free of charge. Anything that's left over on the verge after a week, is taken away by the local city council - then it gets dumped at the correct environmentally friendly local garbage facility. If you want to score Big-time, buy yourself a ute or a big trailer - you can furnish your whole house from doing verge collection.

Another thing I learnt was how the whole "filling-up-at-the-service-station"-thing works. I already knew they have no boys doing the work at the service station. What I did not know, was the procedure to use when filling up your car. Luckily Dewald told me his story, and I learnt from his mistake.

He went to the filling station, filled up the car, and then got in the car and drove it away from the fuel pump so that the next customer could fill up. When he went to pay for the fuel, the guy at the counter was confused. He thought Dewald was driving away without paying for his fuel, and was ready to call the Police! Dewald explained that he just made it easier for the next guy to fill up, and the cashier told him to never, ever do that again.

Here's how it works, for all the dummies from Biltongland:

You stop at the fuel pump. Open the fuel tank lid. Take the fuel pump hose, and then stick its nose into the car's fuel thingy. You press the handle, and hold it down for a few seconds, until the fuel starts flowing. When the tank is full, the pump will stop by itself. Now, replace the hose to it's resting place, and check the number on your pump. They are numbered from 1 to 6, or whatever. You walk into the service station shop, go to the cashier, and give him your pump number. You can pay with cash, credit card, or any other bank card imaginable. If you buy stuff inside the shop, you just add them to 'pump no 4", and there you go. Easy as pie.

If you are still on your way to Oz, please save this blog entry and print it out - it will help you settling during those first days.

Another thing is the lekka thing called "cash-out". When you get to the till in a shop (or the "check-out", as they call it), the cashier will sometimes ask whether you "want cash-out"? What this means is that you can pay with your bank card, and they can add an amount of cash to that. They then give you the cash you asked for. This is nearly like an ATM, you just withdraw money from the local Woolworths or IGA shop.

A "roundabout" is a traffic circle. You get lots of those around here, and they work quite well.

Oh, another thing. My wife was explaining to someone about some trip where she was driving, and she told this person how she put on the "flicker". I explained to her later that I don't think the word "flicker" is understood around here. It's a turn signal, or indicator, as far as I know.

One think I noticed around here is that the Aussies like to add the k at the end of a word where it doesn't belong. Like "there's somethink wrong here", or " he ate everythink". Maybe I heard wrong, but that's what I heard. So, instead of saying "thing", they say "think".

My colleague Henry informed me that the "up" at the end of most place-names, like Kerrinyup, Dandelup, Joondalup - they come from Aboriginal words, and the "up" means: "place of water", or something to do with water.

Now that was a mouth-full, wasn't it?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

We've just moved in

We moved into our rental house in Hocking, Perth, today. If you want to see more pictures, check them out here. Lovely place. Ate some pizza with our friends, and drank a Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 from Houghton (West Australian winery).

Our container is (we hope!) in Freemantle, waiting in the quarantine area. In the meanwhile, my company agreed to sponsor the rent of some furniture for this month.