Archive for November, 2010

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Ambo Day

25 November 2010

I got a bit sidetracked this week talking about my correspondence with my MP.  Incidentally, I have to say his email to me was quite reasonable and, if you saw Malcolm Turnbull talking about the same subject on Lateline the other night, you’ll know exactly what my MP said.  As David immediately commented “They’re all singing from the same songsheet – they’ve obviously been given an official line”.  I think it probably all boils down to the ballot box.  I really don’t think there’s much of a moral dilemma among these MPs – it’s all a polling dilemma:  Will they win or lose votes over the matter?

Anyway I forgot to mention that last Friday was National Thank A Paramedic Day apparently.  I read about this on Friday morning and immediately felt guilty that I’d never officially thanked the two paramedics who helped me when I fell over in the street in April.  They promise to locate the paramedics, thank them and place your thanks in their files. 

So I emailed the contact address, gave all the details (I didn’t remember their names – I blame the morphine) and thanked them profusely for the wonderful way they treated me.  I was on my own at the time so felt very vulnerable lying on the road surrounded by a group of strangers (kind and very helpful though these strangers were).  The paramedics were polite, professional and incredibly kind and thoughtful.  They also appeared to be extremely skilled but I suppose we take that as a given.

Anyway I sent my email and within an hour received a lovely reply saying that it had been passed on to the person in charge of that particular area.   

So thanks not only to those two but to all the Ambos** out there.

** Isn’t that a lovely word?  Every Australian job gets shortened for some reason, so we have posties who deliver the mail, milkos who (used to) deliver the milk and ambos who work out of ambulances, to name but a few.    

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Dear MP For Bennelong . . . . Part 2

20 November 2010

Well, I will give John Alexander full credit for not only replying to the email I sent him only yesterday but also for picking up, presumably through a search engine, that I’d blogged about the subject.

He’s left a comment on my previous post but to save you the trouble of going to it, I’ll repeat it here:

Hey Sally

Reply sent to your email.  Thanks again for your correspondence and concern on this matter.

Kind regards

John Alexander (not a knitter – but may need to learn so that I can make myself a scarf for these chilly Canberra mornings) 

Incidentally, John, most knitters are very happy to pass on their skills so may I suggest you ask Julia Gillard if she could find the time to give you a few lessons.

I’m reassured that my Federal MP bothers to reply, with a detailed response.  I’ve written three times to my State MP without the courtesy of even an acknowledgment.

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Dear MP for Bennelong…..

19 November 2010

Members of the House of Representatives were instructed by Parliament yesterday to consult their constituents on the matter of same-sex marriage.

SO of course I’ve written to my MP, John Alexander, to ask how he intends to implement this consultation process and to give him my opinion on the matter (to save him the trouble of contacting me as part of what ever procedure I’m sure he’ll introduce – OK … maybe I’m being a little optimistic).

I also pointed out that under the current situation, British people LIVING IN AUSTRALIA have greater civil rights here than Australia’s own citizens as, if one of the party is British, they can have a civil ceremony at the British High Commission in Sydney or Canberra.   

The majority of Australians want a change in the law and I’m quite sure that even more people really couldn’t care less one way or the other. 

Should Mr Alexander reply, I’ll let you know.

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He Said What?

14 November 2010

I’m not very tactful.  Well to be honest, I can be extraordinarily tactless.  Sometimes I say something that I know is hurtful and I generally feel awful about it (and apologise). I really don’t intend to go around offending my friends, or even complete strangers.

But today I don’t feel too bad about it, because I could never compete with this.

My friend, Lara, has suffered enough over the last few months without being subjected to such crass insensitivity.

  

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When You Omit The A and the L

12 November 2010

It’s been told many times before of the occasions when Australia and Austria get confused in people’s minds.  The postal services often can’t distinguish between the two and I’ve been told by a few people of parcels coming from overseas that came via Austria because in some sorting office somewhere in the world, someone didn’t know the difference.

But I think this one is a classic.  Julia Gillard, our Prime Minister, has this week been at the G20 conference in Seoul.  The kind hosts made figurines of the world’s leaders, dressed in national costume.  Unfortunately, they didn’t QUITE get it right with our Julia and put her in Austrian national dress – pictures here.

They’ve now changed it to a very plain black dress.  I’m presuming they didn’t have an Akubra hat, some board shorts and Ugg boots. 

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Get On Message About Our Functional Organisational Time-phases**

6 November 2010

Since my last post about all this ghastly “marketing speak”, I’ve come across an article that appeared in the BBC Magazine a couple of years ago. 

My favourite, because I’m not sure that anyone under the age of 30 would consider it odd,  is “Let’s touch base about that offline”.  (Let’s have a chat?)

One person mentions that Australians now use “auspice” as a verb (“It was auspiced by”) but I haven’t come across that.  They do use a lot of other nouns as verbs though which takes a bit of getting use to – as in “The Prime Minister farewelled the troops”. 

Incidentally, I don’t have a problem with language changing.  I’m well aware that we find it very difficult to understand English as written (and, presumably, spoken) in the Middle Ages.  Most languages constantly evolve.  But the current obsession seems to involve replacing one word with five or six (as in “at this moment in time” instead of “now”?).  And there appears to be a belief that if your sentence is riddled with jargon and cliches, it somehow makes you look like an educated intellectual.  What it actually does is make it difficult for people to understand what you’re saying – and you may have something very important and/or interesting to say.

The Plain English Campaign, in the UK, campaigns for the use of plain English (obviously) in official and corporate documents, primarily so that we all know what our laws mean and what we’re signing when we enter into a contract with a finance company, for example.  Their website has some delightful examples of the winners of their Golden Bull Awards.  I liked “High quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process”, which they translate as “Children need good schools if they are to learn properly”.  They even have a Gobbledygook Generator. “Have you ever wanted to use meaningless, empty phrases that make it look like you know what you’re talking about?”.   But they’re not just there to make fun of this garbage, they run training courses and a number of English institutions now send their documents to be checked for plain, comprehensible English.  As a result, a number of financial institutions now produce literature that can be understood by those of us who don’t possess a law degree.

If you have a couple of hours to spare, their website makes wonderful reading.  

** Produced by the Gobbledygook Generator!

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The Challenges of Moving Forward with Passion

3 November 2010

I used to write posts here that I called “I’m not very fond of …..” where I talking about words that I really HATE (but I wasn’t allowed to say that I hated anything as a child, so it became “I’m not very fond of that”).

This is one of those posts.

Firstly, challenges.  When did we stop having problems that need to be solved and start having challenges that have to be overcome?   And why?

Secondly, I would have thought that Julia Gillard’s adoption of the phrase “moving forward”, for which she was widely pilloried, would have dissuaded anyone else from using the phrase but I hear it constantly – and the phrase never stands alone.  You can bet your bottom dollar that if someone says they, or we, are moving forward, they will use the words again within a minute or so. 

And thirdly, passion and passionate.  I’m all for passion in its proper place but as much as I like my work, I’m not passionate about it.  As much as I love knitting, passion doesn’t really enter into it.  But the marketing boys (and girls) are adamant that their clients are all desperately passionate.

If I have a leaking tap, I look for an experienced and capable plumber.  I don’t need someone who’s passionate about plumbing.  In fact I’d have serious concerns about inviting into my home someone who declares a passion for plumbing.  But they’re all at it.  The estate agents are passionate about selling houses, the gardener is passionate about landscaping and the marketing boys (and girls) are passionate about marketing.  What a waste of all that passion.

So that’s my challenge, moving forward.

I’ve become passionate about getting this rubbish off our airwaves and out of our advertising.