Thursday, 27 April 2006

Gah! I'm stressed!

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

In light of Australia's new workplace agreement...

Sick Days
We will no longer accept a doctor's statement as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

Personal Days
Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year. They are called Saturday & Sunday.

Bereavement Leave
This is no excuse for missing work. There is nothing you can do for dead friends, relatives or co-workers. Every effort should be made to have on-employees attend to the arrangements. In rare cases where employee involvement is necessary, the funeral should be scheduled in the late afternoon. We will be glad to allow you to work through your lunch hour and subsequently leave one hour early.

Toilet Use
Entirely too much time is being spent in the toilet. There is now strict three-minute time limit in the stalls. At the end of three minutes, an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, the stall door will open, and a picture will be taken. After your second offence, your picture will be posted on the company bulletin board under the "Chronic Offenders category". Anyone caught smiling in the picture will be sanctioned under the company's mental health policy.

Lunch Break
Skinny people get 30 minutes for lunch, as they need to eat more, so that they can look healthy. Normal size people get 15 minutes for lunch to get a balanced meal to maintain their average figure. Chubby people get 5 minutes for lunch, because that's all the time needed to drink a Slim-Fast.

Death Clause
Any worker found dead at their desk will be promptly fired. All deaths will need to be applied for in advance and will only be approved if you can show that your death will not affect productivity.

Thank you for your loyalty to our company. We are here to provide a positive employment experience. Therefore, all questions, comments, concerns, complaints, frustration's, irritations, aggravations, insinuations, allegations, accusations, contemplations, consternation and input should be directed elsewhere.

[Thanks to an email received at work today.]

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Monday, 24 April 2006

Took me a while to get around to uploading the photos from my Easter long weekend, but better late than never!

With everything closed during the four day weekend, what better way to spend the time than to attend the annual Royal Easter Show at the Sydney Olympic Park.

But before we did so, we had to zip around on the Segway, which kind of reminded me of a motorised wheelchair. It was rather fun though and could very well be the solution to the rising petrol prices!

I guess the Easter Show is really about celebrating the Australian country life and farmers from all around the country transport their animals to the show to compete and showoff. But there really should be a law about dressing your goats in pink and purple...

Can you guess I got rather carried away with the rather adorable animals?

More photos here.

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Thursday, 20 April 2006

I've been reading Bono on Bono lately and recently came across a wonderful quote:

I'm never surprised by evil, but I'm much more excited about what people are capable of.

The timing of this quote has just been impeccable, largely due to certain conversations I've been having with a friend lately.

He had told me a rather sordid tale about a fellow Christian and upon finishing the story (or rather, rumour, and this is where I have to hang my face in shame and admit that I've been privy to rumour-mongering) proceeded to look at me earnestly, "Are you surprised that a Christian can do something like that?"

I looked him straight in the eye and replied simply, "No, I'm not actually. He's Christian, but he's also human."

That was when I got the most bizarre reaction. He actually stared at me in shock and after a few seconds of trying to find his tongue, asked again, "You're not surprised?"

I shook my head.

Maybe it's because I'm a cynic by nature. Maybe it's because I've seen so much that nothing surprises me anymore. Maybe it's simply because that's not the point in life?

It's so easy to choose to focus on the negative, the bad things in life, the fact that our dreams aren't coming true or shock, horror, the fact that Christians aren't all that Christ-like in their actions and basically spiral into a "woe is me, I'm stuck in a horrible world" attitude.

But the point of the matter is, we choose to focus on whatever we want to. As Bono so aptly put it, we need to be much more excited about what people are capable of, instead of simply sitting around talking about how surprising someone's behaviour is.

It's not our place to whisper in harshed tones about the mistakes of others, because in all honesty, I've committed enough mistakes in my lifetime to have others do the same to me.

But I'm confident in my life because I believe and know that I've been forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ and am absolutely and thoroughly loved by God. I try to lead my life as best as I can, but God only knows how often I've stuffed up.

The thing is, God forgives me and allows me to go on. And if God can do that to us, why can't I treat others the same way as well? After all, it's not really in my place to ascertain whether someone's behaviour is kosher or not, is it?

I'm not surprised by evil, but I'm much more excited about what people are capable of. And I trust that God's in charge enough to make things right.

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Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Went to Cremone Point on Easter Friday. A suburb right across the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge with some amazing views.

Spot the guy in the canoe

The entire set of photos can be found here.

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Thursday, 13 April 2006

Four and a half days long weekend here I come!


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This is just slightly worrying.

Created by the "Museum of Media History", EPIC is a Flash clip tracking media trends that ultimately shapes the way news is digested in 2014.

Naturally the giants Microsoft, Google and Amazon are mentioned and what is scary is how plausible the short clip is, eventually ending with the rise of Googlezon and the demise of newspapers as we know it.

I shudder to think what the media would really be like in 2014.

And for those interested, here's the blog of the creators, Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson.

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Tuesday, 11 April 2006

I had no idea whether to shrink back in horror or laugh when I saw this pic while trying to find an appropriate image for an email I'm trying to write.

It's just wrong, plain wrong.

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I'm sure there's a perfectly mathematical reason behind this, but since I've got no interest or ability in math, I'll just contend with being impressed by this:


This is pretty neat.


It takes less than a minute.

Work this out as you read.

Be sure you don’t read the bottom until you’ve worked it out!

1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have chocolate (more than once but less than 10)

2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold)

3. Add 5

4. Multiply it by 50 — I’ll wait while you get the calculator

5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1756 … If you haven’t, add 1755.

6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should have a three digit number

The first digit of this was your original number (i.e., how many times you want to have chocolate each week).

The next two numbers are

YOUR AGE! (Oh YES, it is!!!!!)

Apparently 2006 is the only year this party trick will ever work.

[Thanks to Lee Hopkins for the link.]

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Monday, 10 April 2006

My blood donation days are over and I'm currently nursing a very nasty purple bruise on the inside of my elbow.

Went to donate blood on Friday and it turned out to be one of the most horrible experience I've ever had.

I should have suspected something when the nurse took forever to find the vein in my arm and hesitated time and again to put the needle into it. (I've donated blood countless times before and never had such problems.)

When she finally did, the needle felt sharper than before and the pain never left. The bag took longer than usual to fill and when urged by another nurse to squeeze my hand, I felt an unusually sharp prick where the needle was embedded.

The nurse finally gave up and stopped the process halfway, by which time my heart rate started increasing and breathing soon became difficult. It didn't take long before I started seeing bright lights. When the needle was removed from my arm, I continued to feel pain and when I eventually looked at my arm, it was all swollen and bruised. Not normal at all.

Turns out the nurse had somehow placed the needle in my arm wrongly and it resulted in blood flowing underneath my skin instead of up the needle into the bag.

Add to that the fact that it was the second consecutive time I nearly passed out after donating blood, the doctor felt it would be better if he banned me from donating blood in the future.

Time to seek another method of saving lives I guess.

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At the rate things are going, this cartoon may jolly well be a rather accurate prophecy...

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Thursday, 6 April 2006

Bilbo's comment on my previous post got me thinking about how church structures are seen in different light depending on which side of the fence one happens to be sitting on.

Having been a non-church worker before, I used to think the folks in church administration and the regional offices (or Unions, Conferences and Divisions as Adventists would call them) were the "high and mighty" ones who get to do the important work of the church.

Now that I'm actually a church worker, I've come to realise just how powerless and unimportant I actually am.

It's not that I don't do any work, so don't worry, I'm not actually siphoning off precious church funds (at least I hope I'm not). It's just that when it comes to communicating, it's the local church members who can do so much more.

Communicating with the public and the unchurched needs to be done at grassroots level. What church members are doing, what the local church is doing...these are all activities that only people in the area would be privy too.

I would certainly love to help do media work in places like Darwin or Kiribati, but the reality is, I'm too far away to be useful. Firstly, I haven't built up any relationships with the media and secondly, by the time information comes to my desk, "news" has become "olds".

I'm limited by my geographical location. It's no wonder I've developed such a great working relationship with the Hornsby Advocate, our local suburban paper. It's because I know what's happening in the area and am able to generate news in time for it to still be relevant. But I can't do the same for the Innisfail Advocate, or the Papua New Guinea newspaper. I can try, but it'll never be as effective.

Communication and public relations for the church is not something that I bear the sole responsibility for. I do for the regional head office (not solely, but you get what I mean). Whatever decisions are made, whatever actions are taken on a church corporate level, I have the responsibility of writing media releases, statements and basically attempt to raise the profile of the church to the external media.

But when it comes to the crux of the matter, when it involves the people, when it involves the heart, when it involves the community, it's what kind of communication work the local church does that matters. It's their media releases that count. It's their relationship with the media that count. It's them that count.

And unless they take an interest in engaging the public using the language of the media, the church will always be an unknown to the masses. Because ultimately, in the world of public relations and reputation management, it's not what we have to say that matters. It's what others have to say about us that does.

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Wednesday, 5 April 2006

Seems like communication isn’t that big a deal in churches after all.

The seminar this Saturday has been cancelled because even though there are at least fifty churches in the area, only three people registered for it.

I'm not upset because all this work I've put in has gone to waste. I can always reuse it for some other seminar.

I'm upset because people don't seem to understand the importance of communicating.

A similar seminar on children's ministries saw a few hundred people registering. A seminar on communication resulted in three. This is ridiculous.

It's because of this lack of communication in churches that misunderstanding like this happens.

It's not about patting ourselves on the back. It's not about blowing our own trumpet.

It's simply about letting people know who we are, what we believe and not remain hiding in a corner with our heads buried in the sand.

No wonder people think we're a cult, that we're weird and constantly mistake us for some other Christian denomination.

People simply don't know who we are because we're not telling them anything!

Then we complain people don't understand us.

Then we complain that nobody turns up to things we organise.

Then we complain that nothing ever happens in our church.

If nobody can be bothered to learn about communicating, how are people expected to hear?

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I am currently in the process of creating a church style guide for communicators within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific.

With all the media work we're envisioning to do, with all the interaction we'll be having with the non-Adventist and non-Christian community, we not only need to be able to give a consistent message, it would be good to actually produce it in a consistent style.

An example of what I'm trying to achieve:

Adventist Church in the South Pacific - Do not use "SPD" or "South Pacific Division". Those unfamiliar with the church structure may not know what "SPD" is (could be Shimano Pedaling Dynamics). Always use Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific on first reference, capitalising "C" for the world church. Adventist Church is acceptable on second reference.

San - Nickname for Sydney Adventist Hospital. Should only be used when referring to as "Sydney Adventist Hospital (known as the San)".

Pastor - Capitalise when used immediately before a name on first reference: Pastor Laurie Evans. Otherwise, lowercase: Bob Saunders is pastor of the Fox Valley Seventh-day Adventist Community Church. On second reference, use only last name: Pastor Evans.

This is where you come in. If any of you have any terms or words pertaining to the Christian culture, Adventist or not, that you think would be helpful for me to include in the style guide. Please let me know.

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Tuesday, 4 April 2006

Church communicators are probably not going to face a crisis as big as that of Masterfoods, maker of Mars and Snickers bars, but there are a few key lessons that can be gleaned from it still.

Was at the city this morning listening to how David Hawkins of Socom PR helped the company handle the crisis and here are a few things church communicators would find helpful if ever faced with one.

For those wondering, a crisis in public relations speak is basically an issue that could potentially harm the reputation, brand and trust that people have of an organisation.
  • Depending on the nature of the crisis, the police may be involved. Make sure you provide full cooperation and maintain constant communication. The police may be obligated to provide the media with information that would affect your organisation and it would be helpful if you are made aware of these information beforehand. You cannot stop the message the police give, but you can at least control the damage by being prepared to provide further information that will help your cause.
  • Ensure that you have media releases and fact sheets ready to send to the media. (More on how to write a media release later.)
  • Stick to a few key words and a key message. For Masterfoods, it was "public safety is our main concern."
  • Have one credible spokesperson (usually the pastor) to ensure a consistent message is given to the media. You don't have to answer all the questions the journalist asks, but never reply with a "no comment". Instead, redirect their focus and phrase your answer so that your key message is reinforced.
  • Make sure you are as open and honest as possible. Be available to the media as often as you can (the president of Masterfoods was available from 6am to 10pm everyday during the crisis). If you hide from the media, they normally assume the worst.
  • Focus on the positive. Think of ways that you can change something negative into a positive one. Instead of focussing on the fact that not all their Mars bars were recalled and a 15 year old boy consumed one and got ill, Masterfoods focussed on the fact that the boy was advised by a stranger about the danger and it became a "citizen hero" story.
  • Monitor what the media and the public is saying. Newspapers, the internet, blogs, chatrooms...
Finally, there are professional PR firms out there who are trained to handle crisis and who will media train your spokesperson that will especially prepare them to handle grilling interviews. If your crisis does get that big and that out of hand, make sure you get them on board.

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Monday, 3 April 2006

I put in an order for my new car today, and for all the options that I had, I ended up choosing one that wasn't even on the initial list.

Introducing what will be my brand new baby, the Toyotal Yaris sedan in blue storm.

Yeah, it isn't even yellow or orange (which is available in the hatch). I think it's got something to do with it supposedly being a sane family car. But in terms of cost and feel of drive, the sedan was personally a much better buy.

I have to wait till June for the car to arrive because get this, they will build the car specially for me after they receive my order. A car is being built only because I ordered it. This is quite incredible for me.

Can't wait!

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