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Heavy Plant

Walk past a "Heavy Plant" warning and wonder vaguely if the trees thought it was for them; if whoever put it up had enough imag...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Roo

Roo as it is found in the supermarket

Kangaroos occupy a strange place in the Australian psyche. Whilst the creature is their national symbol, thousands of them are culled each year and whilst there is thriving kangaroo leather industry that sells accessories to tourists, the majority of the meat goes into pet food. Aussies it seems are a little squeamish about eating skippy.

To try and and get people to change this ridiculous bit of anthropomorphic idiocy the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia ran a competition to rename the meat last year (and yes skippy did come up). Whilst the change was never intended to be actioned it was a good bit of PR which highlighted the fact that Australia is missing out.

Son, grab a beer & light the barbie

Kangaroo meat, as you can see from the picture at the top, is about the same colour as venison and is very similar in taste. However it is much more tender and much more easily cooked, it is also exceptionally lean there is almost no fat. The meat chars to an almost caramelised outer shell when cooked on a very high heat. In the picture below I've not done much more than sear it on each side on a griddle pan. It is best eaten as rare as you can take it and benefits from about 10 minutes resting time after cooking. It has a slightly gamey flavour that goes beautifully with mushrooms, garlic, thyme and other strong flavours. As befits its' nation of origin it barbeques beautifully!

Roo as it is found on my plate

Australia really needs to get over itself and take another look at Kangaroo. Oz has the world's second highest obesity problem per capita (after guess where). You would have thought that a low fat meat that barbeques better than any other that I've tried would be perfect.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Airport tips

We went to Tasmania for a long weekend a few weeks ago. It is a land of beer, wine, peculiar wildlife and many cheeses, some so virulent that they set off the explosive detectors at the airport. At least that's my story, the reason that I got checked for explosives probably had more to do with my general demeanour.

I'm not comfortable with flying at the best of times but having raced to fill the rental car with petrol before returning it and finding that the chip in the widscreen was going to cost us the nearly as much as the rental again put me in a bit of a tiz. Then running to the terminal to be told that we had run to the wrong terminal didn't improve my mood hugely.


The most annoying thing about air travel at the moment is that if you don't maintain a kind of detatched calm throughout the entire process, no matter what logistical or bureaucratic obstacles are put in your way, then you are guaranteed to be stopped at some point and either searched or explosives checked.

Surely the odd ones out in this whole process, the ones that should be searched in intimate and probing ways are the people who can remain calm. That kind of inner peace isn't simply sickeningly smug it comes from something really very profound, like knowing you only have a few hours to live before your martyrdom transports you a paradise where a million lustful virgins are waiting to attend to every freakish whim...

When I had to fly to Canberra for a meeting this Monday at stupid O'clock in the morning I picked up a few tips on air travel that I thought I'd share with you. Of course the best tip is the most important and really is a golden rule for life so I have excluded from the list below. It is:
Never attempt anything without first having a good strong cup of coffee and a decent breakfast, ever.
Once you have this sorted the rest falls naturally into place and you won't need any of the tips below:
  1. An aluminium briefcase looks good and is very practical, it can also be used to store your screw-together rifle or home made semtex, get one tomorrow
  2. Walking through the metal detector carrying your aluminium briefcase is a good way to meet in uniform, if you're into that kind of thing
  3. When they tell you to take your shoes off tell them how many days you've been wearing the same pair of socks before saying "you really don't want me to do that mate" will save silly misunderstandings
  4. When the nice man asks you to "please step this way sir" giving him a distant "wot me?" look and taking 2 seconds to process the information makes him speak very slowly and clearly, it is only polite to respond in the same manner
  5. When being checked for explosives you may be asked, "have you ever seen this test before?" customs men really appreciate experience, so answer with a polite "all the bloody time". Whilst being explosives checked:
    1. don't try and peek at the monitor screen, it's impolite and if you do have some exotic substance on you, you will be given ample time to explain, your bagage is already on the plane they will wait for you, they know how much you need to be on the flight and they empathise
    2. don't try and take the swab thing from the nice man even to speed things up, it's his toy, let him play with it first
    3. try and remain calm, perhaps by imagining you are transported to a paradise where a million lustful virgins are waiting to attend to every freakish whim, maybe even whisper this to yourself under your breath
  6. If you are not used to seeing guns follow all of the tips above and whilst going through the security checks stare intently at the automatics in the hip-holsters of the policemen, you never know they might show you one more closely
Sadly the Tasmania trip was before the Canberra one and I didn't have the benefit of the insights above. On being explosives checked I fixed the customs officer with a cheeky grin and said "it's the bloody cheese isn't it?" in my best posh english accent. When he reached for the bag I inadvertently spluttered out "careful man, there's a culture in there, you don't want one of those here". Whilst I was definitely misunderstood I don't think this one me many friends. However I made plenty more new friends shortly afterwards when Emily left me behind, blithely waved both boarding passes at the ground crew and set off accross the asphalt, still holding both boarding passes. I made lots of new friends then.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bored

I think I may have reached my boredom threshold. Having battled with my commitment and motivation level at work I am actually having to make the admission to myself that I am really very bored indeed.

Not the 'not busy' kind of bored but the kind of bored where you look at your life and think 'what the hell am I doing?' For example I woke up at 5:30am today , worried about the amount I have to do today and it's all easily acheivable but I just don't want to do it, not a moment of it. Things have been this way for some time and it is something I need to address.

I am now looking at ways to improve this in my current role before I start looking for anything else or changing direction. If you aren't going to try you shouldn't have got in to it in the first pace. I am going to start using some of the elements from a strategy meeting last week and some of my own thoughts on methods I might use to sort myself out.

I'm going to start looking at new products and where we might sell them and to whom. I'm going to be looking at how I can improve the general dynamism of the company and what we do about the way we spend money on chasing things that look good but we can't do. I've also got to try and get away from one of our projects as it is quite clearly a dog with fleas, big fleas (unfortunately it is also the MD's pet).

As with any sort of consulting/change program this needs to be done with a positive aspect on anything negative and I am going to have to take a little time to find from whence can be derived. Organisations move in the directions they ask questions about so I need to start asking the questions. People tend to move in the direction of their interests and skills, so I'd better make 'em interesting questions...

...more later, just what's on my mind this morning.