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I think I need a more obscure job description.

Went to a meeting yesterday, to prepare for another meeting. I was there because it was vaguely vegetation-related, and I do stuff with vegetation as part of my job. So, in our initial go-round-the-table-and-introduce-yourself, that's what I said.

Unfortunately, I'd forgotten that, in the entire department, I am pretty much the only person who has to deal with vegetation.

I am now in charge of a ten-minute presentation at the meeting, in which I will impart my Vast And Impressive Learnings Of Vegetation to the group we're dealing with.
(Said learnings have mostly been picked up by me reading random documents that landed on my desk, surfing websites about weeds, and having confusing conversations with people who use helicopter-mounted chainsaws and want to sell me things.)

*is suddenly rather nervous*

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After keeping my environmentally friendly Green Power! air freshener on my desk for two months, awaiting my presentation on environmentally friendly tram stuff, I went and forgot to bring it.

It was going to be really cool and entertaining, too...

Going away with church people for the weekend - I won't be around very much. *waves*
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I hate days like this.

I'm supposed to be doing lots of work (given that that's why they pay me...), but my brain has turned off and decided not to do anything.

I keep opening up the spreadsheet, looking at it, going "Nah..." and going back to the internet. It's not that I don't want to do this, but I can't. I've taken Ritalin and everything!

Stupid ADD. *kicks it*
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So, yesterday my job completely changed.

I haven't switched jobs, exactly - but my boss has rearranged EVERY single responsibility in our team, so we're now all about to be doing stuff we've never heard of.

No longer will I be minute-taker, track-inspector, or... well, anything else I've ever mentioned. Instead, I will be doing stuff I don't know jack about.

This is going to be interesting...
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I just had a ridiculous afternoon of not getting things done.

the woeful tale )
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It really is fun walking into a Rail Depot filled with the most stereotypically macho guys you've ever seen, who are all standing around holding huge bits of metal and talking about football, while in the background massive engines are being hauled in and repaired by yet more extremely blokey men, all wearing steel-capped boots and hardhats...

...and then walking into their lunch room and discovering that they have a Grey's Anatomy calendar up on the wall. Oh, and that they've been putting out bowls full of seed for all the sparrows.
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Today, I took a train from the city to Frankston (one-and-a-half hours), waited for half an hour, and then took another train from Frankston to Stony Point (half an hour).

Then I got out, looked at a drain, and wrote down "yes, this drain exists" on a piece of paper.

...after that, I got back on the train, and went all the way back to Melbourne.
In total, this journey took me from 10:30am to 3:15pm.

To give an idea: Brits, this is like going from London to Tunbridge Wells.
Americans, this is like going the entire width of Delaware.

To check on a single drain.

On the positive side, this meant that I got to spend most of my day reading Anne of the Island, and weeping copious tears over the death of Ruby Gillis.
(I also noticed a typo I'd never picked up on - halfway through a chapter, the author forgets that she's already listed someone's first name as "Amelia", and changes it to "Sarah"... and hopes that no-one notices.)
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I can now state, with complete confidence, that there are 326 railway crossings listed in the Melway (our main street directory).

I know this because I've just spent half of my week counting every single one of them, and writing down exactly where they are.

Yep, this is what I do at work...
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I'd forgotten how hard it is to translate maths into European.

a mathsy explanation )
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There are some things in my life that officially qualify as awesome:

- talking to my two-year-old nephew on the phone and having him tell me about his day

- having a job where I can climb over the barriers at the end of train platforms (the ones with the huge signs saying DO NOT PASS THIS BARRIER! OFFENDERS WILL BE PROSECUTED!) and not get in trouble for it

- eating chocolate biscuits and watching silly sci-fi shows

- walking around my backyard and watching my cat follow me (because he misses me when I'm not here...)

- working two blocks down from Melbourne's newest Krispy Kreme shop

- owning a really funky walking stick, and having no-one in my house to look at me strangely when I use it just for fun

...and that is all.
For the moment, anyway.

My View

Jun. 24th, 2008 02:19 pm
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My office window is about to lose its view.

Low Prices

Jun. 5th, 2008 03:42 pm
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 I've been attending lots of meetings about Exciting Rail Projects lately. And today I suddenly realised how weird it was that I was sitting there saying "Oh, it's only a small project. $600,000 or so." when that's more than I'll make in the next ten years!

How my brain manages to compartmentalise like that, I'm really not sure.
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I wore a hard hat today.

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Today I have Construction Site Safety Training. It's a full day of training on why you don't want to fall off scaffolding, and why you might get in trouble if you set your employees on fire, and why you should wear sunscreen.

Terribly important stuff, that.
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Imagine some railway tracks.
You've got one set of tracks going north, and another set beside them going south. Both tracks look pretty much the same.
And this is in rural Victoria, so the landscape is pretty much long stretches of dried-out grass with the occasional excitement of "oh look! A tree!".
This set of tracks runs for twenty kilometres.
And over the last two years, a whole bunch of people have driven out to bits of the railway tracks, and taken photos. There could be photos of the north-going tracks, taken by someone looking north. Or photos of the north-going tracks, taken by someone looking south. Or both of those directions of photos, for the south-bound tracks. Everyone pretty much takes photos, and then chucks them in the computers at work, without bothering to label them.

My job for the week? To go through all of the photos we have for this particular set of railway tracks, and for each photo, to figure out:
a) whether it's a photo of the tracks that go north or the tracks that go south
b) whether the photo is looking north or south
c) where, along the twenty kilometres of track, the photo was taken

Wish me luck!
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 I went out on a site visit on Friday arvo. Basically driving along next to railways, and taking photos. Photos of bits of railway track.
And really, bits of railway track start to look extraordinarily similar after a while - especially in photo close-ups. Being an experienced on-site-photo-taker, I know this. So I cleverly devised a method that would guarantee that I could identify all my photos:
Every time I went to a new piece of track, I instantly took a photo that would mark my location - like a street sign, for instance. Or a kilometre marker. Or a sign on the station entrance.
The logic being that I could get back to the office, upload the photos on to my computer, and use the location-marker photos to help me identify where they all were.

Nope. Not happening. I fail at photos.
Unfortunately, I have yet to figure out when my camera has taken a photo, and when it hasn't. So most of my handy identifying photos are missing - as are many of the other ones I wanted. On the other hand, I did manage to take a large selection of shots of the ground, my thumb, random bits of sky, and the inside of the camera case. I am happy to print them out, frame them, and ship them to anyone interested (for a reasonable fee). Any takers?

There is a reason I don't like digital cameras: they're out to get me.
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I'm working on some upgrades to the Victorian train network. (Which are secret, at the moment. But I'm allowed to say that much.)

You know the sort of thing: add new signals, change the level crossings, and paint the stations. Nothing terribly major.
Except that we've got all these bits we can't upgrade, because they're heritage listed. All nice and old and pretty, so we're not allowed to change them at all.

Now, I'm a sucker for nostalgia. Love all the heritagey stuff. But it occurs to me that the logic in heritage listing goes something like:
- These buildings / level-crossings / random-pieces-of-metal have not been upgraded for over fifty years.
- Therefore we can't upgrade them now.

Except, aren't they the bits that need upgrading?
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 You know, I did six years of engineering. Six years.
In that time, I learnt all about kinetics, kinematics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, robotics, mechatronics, composite materials, natural frequencies, C programming, gears, internal forces, structures, and design.

And over the past year, I have found one thing I learnt at uni has been by far the most valuable to me in my job.

As I sit here, making little diagrams in powerpoint, with coloured boxes for the trains and red arrows showing which way they're moving, I thank my lucky stars that my uni degree has been so useful to me.

Weird Word

Oct. 18th, 2007 08:53 am
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 Going through an engineering report, I have discovered a new word.
When crushed rock is mixed with cement, it becomes "cementitiously treated crushed rock".


What linguist on acid thought that one up?
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I now have experience in that staple of public service: taking minutes. I am not yet up to the standards of Mr Bernard Wooley, but I am sure, with many arduous hours of minute taking ahead of me, that I will eventually reach his level of expertise.

VicRoads makes an effort to be culturally aware. Towards this end, they have renamed every room in the building with Aboriginal words. PC as this is, I'm not convinced it was the best idea.
For one thing, we don't actually have any Aboriginies working in the building, so there really isn't anyone around to feel warm and fuzzy every time they see native Australian words on our doors.
Secondly, our rooms used to be called things like "Level 1 Conference Room B". Boring? Yes. But very findable. Whereas we now spend hours searching for "Ngulu" and "Narrei Jelling" - a task not made any easier by the fact that none of us really have a clue how to pronounce them.
Finally, (minor point, I know) whoever picked the words seems to have chosen them based on how pretty they sound, without any regard for their meaning. So, we now have meetings in "camp", "voice", and "wedge-tailed eagle". This is just bizarre.

Yesterday I spent the morning stomping around in my steel-capped boots, looking at industrial diggers. Tomorrow I will drive down to Sorrento and take pretty pictures. It's a hard life...


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October 2010



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