Sunday, April 25, 2010

Political compass

I had a play for the first time with my political compass ( this evening.

Economic Left/Right: 5.50
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.49


The analysis shows that my dot is sitting on Milton Friedman's dot.  That's not a bad thing - I could do worse.

I have no idea what to make of the analysis.  Or what to do with this information. So I have decided to be pleased with the results, and to continue to call myself a passive libertarian until I have a lightbulb moment.  Or a blogger tells me that I'm brilliant.  Or otherwise.  Or compares their political compass with mine.

0100hours is never a good hour to analyse these tests.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pride is overrated

Just when I was starting to feel like my work colleagues are like one big, happy, loving family, I had to go and shame myself. Due to a delightful combination of a migraine and a virus, I decided to faint at work. In front of all my colleagues. Including those who work around the corner and not right next to me. And my boss. And the Director. Erk.

Having never fainted before, it was all a bit of a surreal experience, knowing that I was sitting at my desk one minute and then finding myself lying on the floor (quite well vacuumed, I noted) staring at a colleague's knees. Then looking up and staring at the senior management team. Oh my pride. Shot.

But, that aside, again I find myself startled at the extent some people go to help others. One of my colleagues, who I know has a busy workload at the moment, and who probably had better things to do on a Friday night, put all that aside to be with me in the ambulance to the hospital, and in a cubicle in A&E until I was discharge quite a few hours/tests later. It was lovely having her there, and I quickly learnt that the only person who cares about how I look when I'm at my worst is me.

This is the (at least) second time this year that I have been the recipient of such wonderful acts of human kindness. And my gratitude is such that I find it so hard to articulate just how deep that gratitude is.

Life is good.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Creative banking

Unlike most New Zealanders, I’m actually not that fond of banks.

I am unable to get funds out of this one particular bank, for reasons that remain mysterious to both myself and the bank. Let’s call it Eastpac, because I’m sure if I used its real name I’d be charged a fee for it.

I found out this week that I’d been charged a $35 missed payment fee on my credit card.

This was of some surprise to me as I only have one fixed term deposit account with them (which keeps mysteriously getting renewed regardless of my instructions and without my permission, but for me to break it, I will have to incur a fee), and I don't have a credit card.

Being a naturally curious person, I rang the bank and asked why, when I don't have a credit card, there was a missed payment charge taken out of my forever-fixed deposit account.

"Well sir," said the pleasant Bangalorean (who of course happily lives and works in the Palmerston North call centre), "you failed to make a payment after we issued your statement."

"But," I cheerfully pointed out (still puzzling over the "sir" reference), "I don't have a credit card with you."

"Yes sir," the nice woman said, "but after you receive the statement you have to make a minimum payment of $10."

I thought perhaps I was not making myself clear, so I sought to explain my position further.

"Yes, but I do not have a credit card with you."

"Yes, but it wasn’t a payment. You were retiring debt."

"Isn’t that what a payment is?" I asked, out of a genuine desire to know.

"No. A payment is what you do after you get your statement."

"So anything I pay before I get my statement is not a payment?"

"That is correct sir."

"Even if I don't have a credit card with you?"

"Thank you for calling Eastpac. Please call again, sir. Beep beep beep beep beep beep....."

I have long accepted that the world is stupid and I try my best to accommodate this. Except when a bank refuses to give me my money back, and then steals bits of it for no reason.

And, no, I don't like it that the government does the same thing to me.

In both instances, I also don't like that I am totally powerless to stop the theft.

And I particularly don't like that I am now $35 poorer.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Statistkick me

I thought you might like to know how I scored in the cognitive tests.  I still have no idea if my inner psycho was too evident in the interview, but my tests scores and explanations are as follows:
For the verbal reasoning, you completed all 44 questions within the time limit and scored a total of 32 correct responses, an accuracy rate of 73% overall.

Hooray!  I hear you shout in community spirit.  But, wait! Tame that enthusiasm.

When compared against our New Zealand norm group of several thousand graduates and managers who have previously sat this test, your score places you in the 50th percentile. This means that your score was higher than 50% of this norm group and conversely, that 50% of this group has scored higher than you did on this particular test. In other words, your score is in the average range compared to your professional peer group.

That only took me about 10 minutes to understand. I think it's basically saying that I did reasonably well, until I compare my marks to everyone else, in which case I'm just average common schmuck.

Now, keeping in mind that the reason I never became a mathematician is because maths is not my strongest skill, I was thrilled to find out that I scored 54% in numerical reasoning! I passed. Er, not quite.
In comparison to our norm group, this score places you in the 18th percentile, meaning that your score was higher than 18% of our norm group and conversely, that 82% of this group has scored higher than you did on this particular test.

Ok. I feel so very stupid now.

But, wait again! It seems that those who do this particular test are in the top 2% of....something.....I'll say the population of New Zealand because that's quite a nice feeling in the circumstances.

Which means, the 50th percentile of the top 2% is pretty damn good. As is the 18th percentile of the top 2%.

Shame I don't have the mathematical ability to calculate what that means. If anything.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kick me

Do I look like I want to be humiliated, challenged, wrung through the proverbial washing machine?  Because I'm starting to think someone's stuck something on my back that says as much.

I've spent my afternoon being subjected to a psychometric test that was so awful and a cognitive test that was so challenging that I am now oh so tempted to just withdraw the application for this job.  Note that this is not a CEO job, or even a management job.Of course I want to do exceedingly well in it, because that's just the sort of person I am.  But I really have to question the long, demanding, drawn out process for a role that is, really, insignificant in the scheme of jobs.  So far, the process has involved an initial interview with HR, followed  by a panel behavioural interview, followed by a written exercise, then a psychometric test, then a psychometric interview, then a reading cognitive test, then a numerical cognitive test, followed, possibly, by referee checks..... by which point I wonder if I will still be standing with the exertion.

And as for that "psychometrician".  Get a real job.  That is not a job.  The irony of you giving yourself a fancy, meaningless title, analysing information spewed forth by a computer, and then throwing inaccurate labels at me is not lost on me.  No one but you has ever called me a passive polite procrastinator.  The reason for this is because I am not passive or a procrastinator.  I guess for someone who makes up his job title, 1 out of 3 isn't a bad hit.  It's actually not so inconceivable that a person can be polite and decisive.  The fact that you then started throwing various titles in my direction in an effort to fish until you got a bite completely discredits you.

Sadly, though, you are still a vital link in my quest to get this job.  How badly do I really want this job?  Not so badly after today.

But, honestly, I wouldn't hire myself after those cognitive tests.  Usually, I excel at reading comprehension and maths, but today the words just swam around the page and I, oddly, forgot how to calculate ratios.  What happened there?!? And, somehow, I think I shouldn't say I screwed up because the psychometrician  pissed me off.

The world would be a better place if HR and HR-related psychologists just stepped out of the recruitment process.  In fact, the world would be a marvellous place if HR and their psych buddies just sacked themselves.  I'll  be happy to do it for you.  Then we'll see who's the passive, polite procrastinator.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Where is Wino?

I don't mean to pry, but I haven't heard from Kismet Farm for a while.  I know she's going through a rough time lately with her health.  I tried to get in touch with her by posting a comment on one of her posts, but haven't heard anything.  I've never met her, but, like all my blogger friends, I like her.  I'm worried.

This is a long shot, but if anyone is in touch with her, can you let me know how she is and if she needs any help?  And also give her my love and hugs.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

An update

Where are my manners?  When I found the time over the last few days to overcome my hiatus and resurrect my blog, the one blog that I should have prioritised was an update of my life, especially for all those bloggers who kindly and selflessly helped me out when I was at my lowest.

The financial and emotional help was a turning point for me. I was able to settle some IOU debts, invest in a cheap but decent suit, nice work shoes, a few shirts, damn lawyers fees. And then I hit the job market before hitting rock bottom again.

And life hasn't been still since. And I have never been busier.

I am now working full time, in the office doing many hours on the days the kids are with their father, and working from home when the kids are with me. It's wonderful to be in the workforce again, and be recognised and needed for my intellect and my grown up social skills.

Don't get too comfortable now. I am still struggling to accept the betrayal around the marriage break up, and I am still struggling with the resentment that comes with only seeing my children for half of the week. And I am struggling with the challenge of juggling work, kids, and ageing parents. And I have frequent crises of confidence.

But, on the whole, life does feel like it's looking up. There is a lot to smile about and laugh at, and it helps that I work with such naturally positive and caring people. At times, the sense of impending clinical depression never feels too far away and I have to make a conscious effort to smile or laugh. But I remain hopeful that in time the effort involved will diminish and it all becomes automatic and totally natural.

I remain thankful - so very thankful - to all who helped me out, and to the many people who are still helping me out in their own wonderful way.

Battery crème eggs

What is this disgusting abomination that is passing off (passing away???) as a crème egg?

A small confession might be relevant here. I have actually only consumed two crème eggs in my lifetime. The first was in 1998. The second one this afternoon.

I didn't enjoy the 1998 crème egg. That sickly sweetness remains ingrained on my taste buds.

I only subjected myself to today's crème egg because I was curious to taste if they had improved at all.

I found the 1998 experience disgusting. But I never recalled them being this revolting.

Forgive me now for going into crème eggs in more detail. The chocolate tasted like baby milk formula (those familiar with baby formula will identify with the stench that I refer to). The texture of the chocolate was soggy and oily, and left a powdery substance (anthax? Gib dust?) on one's tongue that refuses to wash away. And the filling…..ugh. That's the best description I can provide. The consistency was of curdled milk (or perhaps rotting yolk) with undissolved granules (sugar? Gib dust? Anthrax?). And the sweetness was worse than I remembered.

No drink or food consumed since the fateful crème egg error of this afternoon has removed the flavour coating my mouth and relevant digestive organs. Not even toothpaste and mouth wash.

I am stunned that there is a market for this horror.

On the plus side, I know my hips are safe from further crème eggs, and any weight gain from this point on will be due entirely to water retention.