Posts filed under 'Samuel News'

2UE at the Royal Easter Show

Just a quick note to say that 2UE will be at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney today.

I’m leaving Canberra shortly to go there, and hope to see Stuart Bocking who is currently hosting the Breakfast show while I’m there. If I have a chance, I will post some photos later in the day.

If you’re going, I’ll be loitering near the 2UE stand for a little while this morning. Feel free to say hello.

Samuel

2 comments April 5th, 2012 at 04:11am

Doggy peek-a-boo

Today, due to some tradesmen coming to do some work on a door, Nattie and Pebbles had to be placed upstairs as they get a bit too excited by visitors.

When I went up stairs to check on them, Pebbles was peering over the board which had been placed in front of the stairs to block their access.

20120322-132410.jpg

Then she looked over towards Nattie.

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And then Nattie looked over the board too.

20120322-132520.jpg

They weren’t very calm at first, but after I turned on the radio to block out the downstairs noise a bit, they calmed down. It probably helped that Rush Limbaugh was on, and they usually are relaxed by Rush’s voice, and also Mark Levin’s voice, even when he yells.

Samuel

March 22nd, 2012 at 01:27pm

I’m back on Twitter

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time may recall that in 2008 I briefly experimented with Twitter and, after a few days, closed my account as I deemed it to be a waste of my time. At the time, this was true…Twitter held no value for me. Of course, at the same time, neither did Facebook, and yet now I don’t think I would be able to function without Facebook (or at the very least, the withdrawal symptoms would be difficult for a while).

For Facebook, this changed for me in either late 2008 or early 2009, I don’t really recall which of those times it was, when a growing number of overseas friends meant that it was easier to stay in touch that way. Since then, Facebook has grown for me in to both a news source and a limited creative outlet. Unfortunately it also causes me to stretch myself a bit too thin. I am much busier now than I was in 2009 and, as much as I might try to write something of substance here on a regular basis, it just doesn’t happen as much as it should…frankly, I don’t have the time, so I opt for the easier option of writing a quick opinion on Facebook and then neglecting the blog.

It is not ideal, but it would be safe to say that Facebook has become a mini-blog for me, with a limited audience. There are some benefits to this as not everything that I write on Facebook is intended for a public audience, but there is a downside too. Despite the fact that I am not paid to blog (not even by “Big Oil”, despite my views on mythical man-made global warming…but if anyone from “Big Oil” wants to send me a cheque, I’ll gladly accept it), and despite the fact that I am busy enough as it is, whenever I let this blog sit silently for a few days, I feel guilty, and I feel guilty because I feel that I am letting you, my handful of loyal readers, down. I feel worse about this because I know that I’ve posted some thoughts on Facebook which I would have liked to blog about, but I never got around to expanding the Facebook thought bubbles in to meaningful blog posts.

This, for me, is where Twitter comes in…or at least, might come in. I have a small following on Facebook, a slightly larger following here, and potentially some people I would like to follow on Twitter. I can integrate Twitter with this blog, and Twitter with Facebook, whereas I can not easily integrate selected posts from Facebook with this blog…and given the way facebook like to mess with settings on a regular basis, I don’t really think that will ever be viable. So, to me, it stands to reason that if I can share my small thought bubbles both on Facebook and on this blog by sharing them on Twitter, and I can gain a new stream of information in the process, it may very well be the right thing to do.

That said, I am still a wee bit skeptical of the whole thing. It annoyed me last time, and it didn’t get off to a good start this time when my name was one character too long to fit properly and I had to drop a space to make it fit. I’m also not convinced that I can make my thoughts fit in to 140 character bursts (I used to struggle with the character limit on Facebook when that existed, and that was much larger than Twitter’s limit), but I’m going to give it a go and see what happens. If it works out, then it will solve a few problems, and bring this blog back to life in the process.

I still intend on maintaining this blog…that won’t change…and I won’t be letting Russian guests write more blog posts than me (you should see the column she submitted this week…if there’s a sentence structure in there, I can’t find it, so I’ve sent it back for clarification and hopefully I’ll receive a publishable version for next week), but I will also be sharing my little thought bubbles here as daily digests of my Twitter activities. If all goes to plan, that should auto-publish at about 9pm Canberra time, or 9pm UTC if the Twitter Tools plugin is as insane as it was the last time around. You can also follow me on Twitter @Samuel_SGS and I’ll see about adding one of those sidebar doohickey-thingamabobs.

At the very least, this should be an interesting ride. Hopefully a valuable one, but only time will tell on that one.

Samuel

3 comments March 13th, 2012 at 03:37am

I am now a member of the Institute of Public Affairs

Announcement number one for the day.

On Friday I took a decision which I have been considering for some time. I became a member of the Institute of Public Affairs.

Institute of Public Affairs

I have followed the activities of the IPA for quite some time now and have been impressed by their work. At the most basic level, the organisation’s aim is to promote free markets, free speech and a free society. A long time ago it became very clear to me that everyone has something slightly different in mind when those notions are mentioned, so when the IPA made those claims, I decided that I should carefully vet their activities to decide if they really do reflect my values, and I am happy to say that on the vast majority of things, they do.

We both support capitalism. We both acknowledge the need for government, while supporting the need for it to be limited in its role, so as to not unnecessarily quash the freedom of the people to conduct business and have a voice. At the same time, we both support the rule of law, and acknowledge the need for governments to provide services (eg. the police and the courts) which uphold this. I suspect that we would both agree with the words of Charles Murray Ph.D. in a recent edition of Hillsdale College’s excellent publication Imprimis

[L]ocal government should do only those things that individuals cannot do for themselves, state government should do only those things that local governments cannot do, and the federal government should do only those things that the individual states cannot do.

(Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.)

The IPA has proven itself, in my mind, to be a force for good, by consistently making a positive contribution to the public debate about the future of this country, and to a lesser extent, the world. I was so impressed by their work that I decided to not take out a general membership, but to instead take out a premier membership at about double the cost of the general membership. I value the work of the IPA enough, and support the mission of the IPA enough, to do what I can to help keep it going, both in a monetary sense, and a symbolic supportive sense.

It’s just a shame that, due to other commitments, I am not able to go and seek Mark Steyn or Dan Hannan, one of whom is currently, and one of whom will shortly be, in the country as guests of the IPA.

Samuel

February 20th, 2012 at 06:26am

The Sunday Bits for February 19, 2012

Depending on how I feel after work this afternoon, I have two announcements that I wish to share with you. If not this afternoon, then tomorrow. But right now, two “bits” for you.

***

First up today, proof that being a fast walker is good for you.

The speed someone walks may predict the likelihood of developing dementia later in life, according to researchers in the US.
[..]
Suggestions of a link between slow walking speed and poor health have been made before.

A study, published in the British Medical Journal in 2009, said there was a “strong association” between slow walking speed and death from heart attacks and other heart problems. A Journal of the American Medical Association study suggested a link between walking faster over the age of 65 and a longer life.

Dr Erica Camargo, who conducted the latest study at the Boston Medical Centre, said: “While frailty and lower physical performance in elderly people have been associated with an increased risk of dementia, we weren’t sure until now how it impacted people of middle age.”

Brain scans, walking speed and grip strength were recorded for 2,410 people who were, on average, 62 years old.

Results presented at the Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting said that 11 years later, 34 people had developed dementia and 79 had had a stroke.

The researchers said slower walking speeds were linked to a higher risk of dementia and stronger grip with a lower risk of stroke.

(h/t BBC News)

I have always been annoyed by people who walk slowly, or to be more precise, people who walk more slowly than me which, unfortunately for some, includes most people who walk at what would probably be considered a “regular pace”, although it has to be said that an ingrown toenail has slowed my pace a little bit of late.

I have always been a fast walker. Mum, when I was in the early years of primary school, was a slightly faster than normal walker, and I had to move my little legs very quickly in order to keep up. As I grew up and the length of my stride increased, this quick movement continued and as such my walking pace increased.

My primary school held a walkathon once per year as a fundraiser. I always quite enjoyed this as it gave me a chance to walk quickly and demonstrate my fast pace for an extended period of time. In year three I took this quite seriously and for the week leading up to the walkathon I would spend part of my lunch break practicing. I worked out a course which I calculated was approximately a quarter of the length of the Walkathon course (the Walkathon was around the perimeter of the school grounds whereas my course was around a section of the bottom ovals) and would walk around it as quickly as I could for a certain period of time (20 or 30 minutes). After this I would then calculate how many laps of the Walkathon I could complete in the allotted time if I walked at the pace of my practice session.

From memory, I worked out that I could complete nine laps, and this was how many I did complete that year. As years went by, I would usually complete nine or ten laps, and unfortunately if one completed ten laps, one was not permitted to continue.

In high school, there was no Walkathon in year seven, but there was one in year 8 which went around the west basin on Lake Burley Griffin. This was an all-day activity and, of the people who did not cheat by cycling, skating or running (these things were allowed by the teaching staff so as to ensure the attendance and involvement of most students, as large sections of the event were unsupervised and it would have been quite easy for students to walk to Civic if they wanted to) I was the first to complete the course. Unfortunately this course was a bit too long for most students to complete, and probably a bit too public, so in years nine and ten, the Walkathon was held around the bases of Mounts Ainslie and Majura, with an extra activity for the keen runners to run up Mount Majura. This course allowed staff to use shortcuts (which were blocked for students by staff-run checkpoints) which allowed them to more easily keep an eye on students. I continued my track record of fast-walking success in these Walkathons.

Unfortunately, possibly because it was impossible for teachers to actively monitor it, no awards were handed out for the first person to complete the course, or indeed for the first walker to complete the course…but I enjoyed it anyway and, as was usually the case for school sporting events, I ran my own imaginary television and radio coverage of it. I couldn’t really commentate on the Walkathons much as I needed my breaths for walking and not talking, but the other commentators continued in my head (and for the psychologists out there, yes, the radio does talk to me, that’s because it’s talk radio…and yes, it does tell me to do things: to buy stuff mostly).

In more recent times, dog-walking has kept me walking quickly, although Nattie tires quickly these days, so the fast walking doesn’t last long on those any more.

***

Towards the end of 2008, a colleague at 1WAY FM, most-mornings host Alison Goodwill, informed me that she had seen a photo of mine in the Canberra Times. She asked if I was aware of it and if I had been paid for it. On both counts the answer was “no”, but that was OK as most photos on this blog are allowed to be copied if attribution is given…none-the-less, I was curious. Alsion was unable to provide many details about when the photo had been published but did say that it was a picture of mountains, possibly of the Brindabellas. I was confused by this as I could not recall taking a decent photos of the Brindabellas at any time…I did take a photo once which was supposed to be of the Brindabellas but instead became a photo of roads and powerlines, with the Brindabellas off in the distance…I didn’t think it was likely that this photo had been published.

The photo which I didn't think had been published
The photo which I didn’t think had been published in the Canberra Times, from my 2005 blog post Kingswood Journey

Regardless, I was curious, and decided to go and check the Canberra Times archives at the National Library. I had to wait a while for the editions of the Canberra Times from late 2008 to be made available, but a few months later (I think it was in late 2009…I received a phone call from a friend as I was leaving the Library that day, but I don’t recall enough other details about the day other than it being a warm day to be certain) I went to the National Library and searched through a few months worth of the Canberra Times, but could not find any reference to me, or any photo which looked like it could have been taken by me.

It continued to bother me, and I did go back on another occasion for another look, but was once again unable to find anything.

Fast-forward to this year, and a few weeks ago I was archiving the old photo gallery (a blog post is coming about that as I have some technical details about the process which may be of interest…unfortunately it is a blog post which may take me a little bit of time to write and so it may be a few weeks until I can find the time to make it happen) and did a Google search for “photos.samuelgordonstewart.com” as I wanted to find a few direct links to various pages of the photo gallery so that I could test them and correct an issue which I was encountering. When I did that, I found a rather unexpected result on page 2.

Screenshot of Google Image Search results

The one at the bottom of that lot, to be exact.

Screenshot of Google Image Search results

I followed the link, which took me to a Canberra Times online article from the 14th of October, 2008, titled “Body found near Mount Taylor“.

Screenshot of the article on the Canberra Times website

See that photo over on the right?

Screenshot of the photo on the Canberra Times website

When I saw it, I recognised the photo straight away, even though the quality of it on the Canberra Times website is lower than the original photo. The photo in question is this one:

Photo of Mount Taylor

Somewhat ironically, this happens to be the photo directly above the photo I mentioned earlier in the Kingswood Journey blog post from 2005.

Screenshot of the photo in my blog post

Even though I was in the middle of another, somewhat more important task at the time, this excited me so I jotted down the date of the Canberra Times article and went on another trip to the National Library to see if I could find the photo in the paper. It took a little while, but I found the page in question. Page 9 of the October 15, 2008 edition.

The Canberra Times: Page 9, October 15, 2008.

As you can see, my photo is nowhere to be found. In fact, my photo isn’t in there at all. The article is though…it’s a brief story at the bottom of the column at the top-right of the page.

The brief article in The Canberra Times

So, after a tad over three years of mystery, it turns out that my photo was never used in the paper, but was used on the website of the Canberra Times to illustrate a brief story. I was given incorrect information, which is why I was unable to find it originally, and yet strangely was only one photo off in picking the photo which I thought may have been used.

I am quite amazed that photo which I took from a moving bus, and which really isn’t the most wonderful photo in the world, was the best photo that the folks at the Times could find of Mount Taylor at the time. It’s also slightly flattering in a strange way as well.

***

And with the case closed, I bid you a wonderful Sunday!

Samuel

February 19th, 2012 at 06:28am

The horrible service of Woolworths Dickson

A couple weeks ago I had a very nasty experience in a supermarket. After it happened, I sent an email to 2UE’s John Kerr about it which he read out on the air. I deliberately omitted the details of the store in question at the time as I thought it was only fair to write to the manager of the store and allow him or her time to reply and correct the issue before deciding whether it would be necessary to make my grievances public.

After this, I wrote a detailed letter to the manager of the store in question, however they have not replied yet. They have had more than enough time to respond, and I believe that they have ignored me. I gave them the opportunity to avoid negative publicity, but they apparently don’t care, so I am more than happy to announce that the store in question was the Woolworths supermarket in Dickson.

My next step will be to write a letter to the head office of Woolworths and include a copy of my original letter. Before I do this though, I feel that it is only fair that I bring you up to speed on what happened as the email to John Kerr, which I posted on this blog at the time, was quite vague and did not include all the details of the incident from that night or the other incidents. For your perusal, a copy of the letter which I sent to the manager of Woolworths in Dickson follows.

My five-page letter of complaint to Woolworths Dickson
My five-page letter of complaint, with a two-page attachment: a printout from my internet banking service showing the disputed transaction. In the background, Nattie, who had decided that a footstool would be a comfortable place to sit for a while.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart
PO Box 1272
Dickson ACT 2602

February 6, 2012

The Store Manager
Woolworths Dickson
1 Dickson Place
Dickson ACT 2602

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing to you today to express my concern, disappointment and disgust at the behavior and attitude of some of the staff in your store in their recent dealings with me. I have had a few run-ins with your staff which, as isolated incidents, have annoyed me but not bothered me enough to care much about them, but the latest run-in offended me greatly and, when added to the previous incidents, is enough to make me want to avoid your store entirely.

I work about a five minute drive away from your store, and often work odd hours, so your store is a convenient place for me to pick up a few items and I usually do this at least two or three times per week. The incidents of late are enough to make me want to instead use the services of the IGA in Watson or, as they are not open as long as your store is, the Coles Express service station across the road from your store. The extra cost of doing so is worthwhile if it means that I will be treated with respect by the staff.

If I may crave your indulgence for a few minutes, I will endeavor to explain what has brought me to this decision, starting with the most recent incident which, to my mind, is the worst of the bunch.

On Saturday night (the 4th of February) I was at work and, upon finding out that the person on the shift which finishes a few hours after me had called in sick and that I would be required to stay back for an extra hour or two to cover for this person, I decided to use my half-hour meal break to visit your store and pick up some snacks to keep me going through the night. At about 11:10pm, I entered your store and proceeded to pick up a packet of Allens Strawberry and Cream lollies and a packet of mini easter eggs, which I then took to the self-serve checkout, but not before I was nearly bowled over by one of your staff moving stock around on a large trolley, who was not looking where he was going.

The first available checkout was the first one on the right as you walk in to the checkout area from the store and, as tends to be the case with these machines, it was neither accepting nor dispensing cash. I had hoped to get rid of a few coins with this purchase, but alas EFTPOS was the only option. This was a tad frustrating as it seems to be a bit of a waste to use EFTPOS for a $4.37 transaction, but so be it, I proceeded with the transaction. While I was using the checkout, I noted that the security guard was watching me with some interest. Once I was finished paying for my items (I have attached a printout from my internet banking transaction summary page which shows that this occurred at 11:14pm and was, as previously stated, a $4.37 transaction. The transaction is highlighted on page 2), I opted not to have a receipt printed as I would only have thrown it out as soon as I left the store anyway, picked up my items and walked towards the exit. Just after I had gone through the theft detection machine (which I should point out I did NOT set off), the security guard who had been watching me for some time stopped me and asked me if I had paid for the items.
“Yes” I replied.
“Show me the receipt” was his response. (He clearly was not versed in the ways in which the self-serve checkouts work, or he would know that they only print a receipt if asked to do so).
“I didn’t request one from the machine” I replied.
He then replied “If you don’t have a receipt, then I don’t believe that you paid for those items”. I did not say it at the time, but I was thinking that this was strange as I had seen him watching me use the self-serve checkout and wondered what he must have thought I was doing at the checkout for all that time. He then tried to ask the other staff in the area if they had seen me pay for the items, but they all ignored him. As he could not get confirmation from any of the staff, he told me that he did not believe that I had paid for the items, but I should leave with them anyway.

I was a tad confused by this, and offended that I was being called a thief and a liar. At first, I went to leave the store, and I did get out the door, but then the fact that I was deeply offended got the better of me and I walked back in and walked over to the security guard. I politely tried to gain his attention by saying “excuse me”, but he turned his back on me, so I tried again slightly louder and he started to walk away from me, so I tried again, a bit louder again, after which he turned and faced me. I informed him, calmly but in an annoyed tone of voice, that I was deeply offended by the way he had treated me; that I had seen him watch me pay for the items; and that as a matter of principle I was not going to leave with the items while he continued to accuse me of theft. I planted the items on the counter in front of him and informed him that the store could keep the items, and that I would be writing to the manager to complain about his conduct. I then walked out.

For the record, I have no problem with being challenged by security staff and accept the fact that you need to have measures in place to prevent people from walking off with items for which they have not paid, and I have previously consented to bag searches in stores when asked and have always been cooperative if I have set off a theft detector for whatever reason (usually it is a malfunction, although on one occasion it was due to a half-packet of AA size batteries which I had forgotten were in a bag that I was carrying). I have never, however, actually stolen an item from a store, nor have I ever been challenged by the security staff in your store for any reason, until Saturday night anyway.

In this case I believe that your security guard (who I note was wearing a Wilson Security uniform and is therefore probably not a direct employee of your store) overstepped his authority and was highly unprofessional in his conduct considering that there was no proof that I had stolen anything, and that the evidence in fact pointed the other way as I had not set off the theft detector when I walked through it, and the security guard had watched me using the self-serve checkout.

If more time had been available to me then I may very well have argued the point with him until he believed that I was not attempting to steal anything, and I probably would have done this by opening internet banking on my phone and showing him the transaction record, however as I was on a meal break from my job, I did not have the luxury of such time.

I believe that this needs your attention, not only because the security guard was incredibly rude, but because your staff paid no attention to his request for confirmation that I had paid for the items, and also because he was willing to let me walk off with items which he believed were stolen, which I am sure would horrify you as a store manager who is ultimately responsible for the bottom line of your store.

Unfortunately this is not the only incident which has caused me to decide that your store is an unfriendly place to shop. I don’t have dates for these other incidents as they were not big enough in my mind at the time to jot down the times at which they occurred, but I believe that they need to be brought to your attention anyway.

Firstly, your staff have been rude to me before on multiple occasions. On one occasion I was purchasing a cheese and bacon roll from the self-serve cupboard of your in-store bakery. As I picked out the roll, it occurred to me that I might need some assistance processing the roll at the self-serve checkout. I took a photo of the barcode on the shelf from which the roll had come, just in case the barcode would be useful. I then went to the self-serve checkout and asked the supervising staff member if she could show me how to buy the roll at the checkout, and I informed her that I had a photo of the barcode if it helped at all (Dendy Cinemas have previously scanned ticket barcodes off my phone, so I know that it is possible). Your staff member’s response to my question was a reasonably loud and angry tirade about how I should know how to do this myself and that I must be stupid if I thought that a barcode on a phone would be of any use. She then went on about how it was “obvious” that I should push a certain set of buttons on the screen (which she did quite quickly and without any attempt to check that I had some understanding or recollection of which buttons she had pressed) and then she wandered off mumbling under her breath.

It may very well be true that in the mind of a supermarket employee, the buttons which need to be pushed in order to make a checkout perform various functions are obvious, but it is a bit much to expect that a member of the general public would contain this knowledge, and it is definitely going a few steps too far to abuse a member of the public for not knowing these things.

On another occasion, one of the self-serve checkouts did not dispense change. It was only 20 cents, but I raised the point with the supervising staff member who informed me that as I could not prove that the machine had not dispensed change, she could not help me. It was clear that she thought that I had pocketed the 20 cents and wanted a further 20 cents to which I was not entitled. Yet again, on this occasion, I was on a meal break from work and was wearing a shirt bearing the logo of the company for which I work (a well-known company, I might add, but the details of which are irrelevant) so it seemed a bit odd that she would think that I, as a working person, would want to spend extra minutes in a store just to extort 20 cents from it.

Strangely enough, the staff in your store have never been rude to me away from the self-serve checkouts. They are rarely ever cheerful, but they do tend to at least be polite away from those machines.

On the subject of the self-serve checkouts, this is another problem which I have with your store. The upkeep of these machines is appalling. It is almost impossible to find a time when all of them are working properly. Most of the time at least one machine will be out of order, and the rest of them will be either only taking EFTPOS or only taking cash, and your staff do not take kindly to it if I want to wait to use a machine which is accepting my preferred method of payment, and they have very nearly started an argument with me over it on more than one occasion.

Then there is the fact that the things don’t seem to be cleaned very often. On more than one occasion, things have been spilled or smeared on the machines’ displays or the area which used to be the bagging area before the plastic bag ban was introduced. On more than one occasion I have had to wash my hands and/or the items which I have purchased after using these machines due to this problem. It is a matter of basic hygiene and public safety that these machines should be kept in a relatively clean state. You wouldn’t leave a spill on the floor of an aisle for longer than absolutely necessary, and your staff should be maintaining the same level of vigilance on the self-serve checkouts.

Unfortunately all of this, with the latest incident at the top of the list, has caused me to want to avoid your store at all costs, and the Woolworths brand as well. I do not enjoy being abused by your staff; I do not enjoy using unclean equipment; and most of all I do not appreciate being treated with contempt when I, as a customer of your store, am paying to keep the store running and the staff employed.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could, at the very least, investigate the first incident about which I have written and get back to me about it. You will find a copy of my bank records for this transaction attached to this letter, and I believe that you will have CCTV footage of the incident. To help you in locating me in the footage, on the night in question I was wearing an NYPD hoodie (it is official merchandise from the New York Police Department, so the letters NYPD are plastered across the front in giant yellow letters as per the NYPD logo which I am sure that you would have seen on television at one time or another, so it should be easy to spot). The rest of the incidents, while I would like you to be aware of them, do not need a response as I can not reasonably expect you to respond to incidents for which I do not have dates and times, although I would hope that you will talk to your staff about proper ways to deal with the public and about the importance of keeping the store clean.

Your actions in this regard will probably not bring me back to your store straight away, but may make me decide to revisit your store in the future if your response is good enough and if your staff smarten up their act considerably.

I should probably also note that, a few hours after the run-in with the security guard in your store, during some quiet time at work, I wrote an email about the incident to 2UE’s John Kerr who proceeded to read out my email on the air of 2UE in Sydney, 2CC here in Canberra, 4BC in Brisbane and a number of other radio stations around the country. I did not mention the exact location of the store in which this incident occurred (it would have been quite unfair of me to do so without contacting you about it first and giving you a chance to respond), however I did mention Woolworths and Canberra, so I would imagine that the Woolworths head office will have received a Media Monitors report about the email by now.

It would be safe to say that the security guard in your store put me in quite a bad mood, and it is not the first time that I have left your store thoroughly unsatisfied with the experience.

Thank you for taking the time to read this rather long letter. I hope that it helps you to improve your store, and I look forward to your reply with much anticipation.

Yours Sincerely,

Samuel Gordon-Stewart

2 comments February 17th, 2012 at 07:30am

The self-serve checkouts…I’m over them!

An email to 2UE’s John Kerr

Good morning John,

Sorry to deviate way off topic like this, but I’ve changed my mind about the self-serve checkouts and wanted to let you know why.

I used to think that they were a great idea and a time-saver, especially when I only have one or two small items, but increasingly I have been frustrated by them. This evening just gone, the final straw broke.

After finding out that I was going to have to stay at work for longer than I had expected due to a staff member calling in sick, I decided to use my meal break to go to the Woolworths about five minutes drive from work to pick up some snacks. This was around 11pm. I went in, picked up two small snacks, and took them to the self-serve checkout. As is often the case, the machine’s cash dispenser was out of order and the machine was only accepting EFTPOS. I was hoping to pay with some loose change, but $4 on the card isn’t a huge deal…just inconvenient.

Once I had completed my purchase, I told the machine that I did not want a receipt as I would only have thrown it away anyway. The security guard watched me finishing up at the machine, and then stopped me after I had been through the theft detection alarm and had NOT set it off. He asked if I had paid for the items, and I said that I had. He then asked me for the receipt, showing a clear ignorance of how the machines work. I told him that I had not requested a receipt, but it was clear that he did not believe me and made a comment to that effect. He then started asking the staff there if they had seen me pay for the items, which seemed odd to me as he had been watching me use the self-service checkout, but none of the staff in the store seemed interested in his question.

The guard then made it clear that he did not believe me, but told me to go anyway. I started to leave, but I was incredibly offended, not just with the tone he had taken with me, but with the fact that he had watched me use the machine and saw that I had not set off any security alarms, and yet still stopped me and showed a complete ignorance of how the store’s machines work, and a complete contempt for everything I had said. So I turned back, attracted his attention (which was difficult as he turned his back on me at first and then tried to walk away from me) and informed him that I was very offended by his conduct and that, as a matter of principle (as I don’t appreciate being treated like a thief when the evidence clearly shows that I am not one) I was leaving the items at the store and I would be writing a letter of complaint to the store manager. I then planted the items on the counter in front of him, and left the store.

As I was on a meal break from work, I did not really have time to argue the point with the security guard. If time had been available, I would have gone in to internet banking on my phone and shown him the record of the transaction and requested an apology.

This is not the first time that I have encountered grief at the self-service checkouts. Often, they are unclean, having had various items spilled on them. Quite regularly they do not deal with cash and will only take EFTPOS or vice-versa, which is a problem which rarely ever afflicts the staff-run checkouts (on one occasion, the machine did not give me change and the staff refused to help on the grounds that I could not prove it…it was about 20 cents so I didn’t bother to argue the point) and on one particular occasion when I was purchasing a loose roll from the in-store bakery, a staff member yelled at me for daring to ask how to pay for the roll which did not have a barcode.

While this may indicate an attitude problem with the staff, I have to say that whenever I use a regular checkout with a staff member processing the sale, the process is always pleasant and the staff member is usually friendly.

I shall not be using the self-serve checkouts again, and I shall also be writing to the manager of the store in question, and probably will not be going back to that store any time soon. Other supermarkets are due to be built near it soon, and I dare say that they will be getting my business in future.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

February 5th, 2012 at 02:50am

Unnecessary Convolution!

Dear Mr. (redacted),

Please accept the wish of the undersigned of a greeting which you may find acceptable given all of the reasonably foreseen and unforeseen circumstances which may impact upon your decision as to what constitutes an appropriate greeting, as may have transpired between the time at which this message was sent (which may either be the time at which it was sent by the sender, or the time at which the sender did conceive of the original idea to send the message, whichever is appropriate, but not the time at which the message was received) and the time at which it was received, taking in to consideration any delays in transmission of a technical nature which may have been or may not have been beyond the control of the undersigned, as determined at the complete discretion of the appropriate party or authority for such determinations.

The Australia Post post office and an Australia Post van in Dickson, ACTIt is the undersigned’s great pleasure to inform you that the hard drive and DVD mentioned in previous communications are now in the hands of agents of the government who, at the time of taking guardianship of said items, were engaged in argumentative bickering over what time of day constitutes the best time of the day to count the money in their tills. Presently and currently as the production of this missive is attended to by the undersigned, a government vehicle has arrived at a designated point near the aforementioned location of the aforementioned agents of the government, to make haste with the facilitation of the transportation of the aforementioned items in an effort to secure the timely provision of the service for which the items were placed in the guardianship of the government, and for which the government received a mutually agreeable amount of monetary compensation.

Yours forthwith and with the appropriate amount of deference and friendly thoughts and wishes,
The Undersigned

Samuel
(the aforementioned undersigned)

With the exception of the photo, which was not included in the original message, this is a message which I sent earlier this afternoon, having been inspired to an extent by the convoluted conversation which the post office staff were having about counting money and how the post office’s policies affect the counting of money. The photo, which was taken a few minutes after the message was sent, was added to provide some context as to who these “agents of the government” are.

For what it’s worth, “agent of the government” is a term Leo Laporte uses in his live-read commercials for stamps.com where he talks about a post office employee coming and picking up whatever it is that you are trying to post via the services of stamps.com. It’s a good description of post office employees.

January 31st, 2012 at 05:23pm

Merry Christmas…and a Christmas present for you

Good morning and Merry Christmas to all (and to all a good night if that happens to be your timezone).

I would like to wish you all a very merry and safe Christmas, and a joyous new year filled with many good things. Before we reach the new year though, I would like to offer you a Christmas present.

Over the years there have been many adaptions of the Twelve Days Of Christmas, but by far the best in my opinion is a BBC production titled “And Yet Another Partridge In A Pear Tree” starring Penelope Keith as the lovely and increasingly bewildered recipient of the many gifts of the twelve days of Christmas.

It is a comic delight, but it is also rare. Although the BBC do have it available to stream on their website these days, it has never been offered for sale to the general public, and the number of people on the Internet looking for an MP3 version of this marvellous production is nothing short of extraordinary. Today, as a gift to you, I offer an MP3 download of the best version of the Twelve Days Of Christmas in existence. Enjoy!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Download MP3

Merry Christmas from Samuel, Nattie and Pebbles (who? The long-awaited announcement will explain this shortly…although who knows what the definition of shortly is on this blog).

December 25th, 2011 at 07:31am

Mum’s Christmas Present

I went out and bought Mum’s Christmas present today…well, one of them anyway, there will be more but for the moment I am talking about the main one.

A couple weeks ago after a discussion with Dad about what we wanted to get Mum for Christmas, we came up with an idea that we had considered briefly earlier in the year. It seemed like a good idea, but I had a couple reservations still, so I sought the advice of Leo Laporte, tech broadcaster extraordinaire. I was on his radio show at the top of the second hour…and Leo being Leo, there is video of it…so if you want to know what Mum’s Christmas present is (it’s OK, Mum knows too) then watch the first few minutes of the video (it should start at the correct point, 40 minutes and 45 seconds).

Long-term readers may remember that I interviewed Leo Laporte back in 2006 on Samuel’s Persiflage episode number 8 which was before Leo’s radio show went in to syndication and when his TWIT network was still a mere handful of shows. Things seem to have progressed more-or-less as he predicted, although I doubt even he thought his network would grow to the size that it has.

There is another reason to watch as well. There has been some very exciting news afoot in my household recently, but as yet I have not shared it here on this blog…only a limited number of people know about this, however there is some information about it in this video. Watch the video and see if you can work it out. I will reveal the answer in the next day or so. A superfluous word in this paragraph may also contain a clue.

Samuel

3 comments December 16th, 2011 at 03:33pm

Tonight on One

Some of you may be familiar with a show called “The Game Plan” which airs on Ten’s “sport and other stuff” digital multichannel One. It comes in two versions, a rugby league one and an AFL one. The rugby league one is hosted by Andrew Moore, Steve Roach and Joel Caine from The Continuous Call Team on 2GB and radio stations across the country.

For the rugby league finals, The Game Plan has been extended from its usual timeslot of 8:30pm-9:30pm to 8:30pm-10:00pm and is having a studio audience. Tonight I will be in that studio audience and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be travelling up to Sydney today for that and one or two other things and will be coming back tomorrow.

If you’re in to rugby league, I would recommend watching The Game Plan. It’s a great show and spends plenty of time discussing rugby league in an interesting manner without deviating in to the off-topic in the way that shows of the genre on other networks have an annoying tendency to do. At the moment, if I’m at home, I will usually watch it live and DVR Rush over on Ten (which airs at the same time) for viewing straight after.

Just because I can, I’ll try to post a freeze frame or two when I get back, and I should also see about posting a freeze frame or two from when I was at the National Press Club a few weeks ago to see Chezch President Vaclav Klaus.

The Game Plan – NRL airs on One at 8:30pm in NSW, QLD and the ACT. Check your local guides in other areas

Samuel

September 15th, 2011 at 10:57am

Convoy of No Confidence

At long last, one of the anti-carbon dioxide tax rallies is set to happen at a time when I am able to attend. As such, I feel that the following disclaimer about my attendance is in order.

Samuel wishes to advise that he will be attending the protest rally at Parliament House today with the intention of opposing the carbon dioxide tax. Samuel may or may not agree with other aspects of the rally, but will not be attending for those purposes. Samuel will be representing himself and only himself; he will not be attending on behalf of any organisation and his attendance should not be construed as having the endorsement of any organisation.

In particular, I believe that this is necessary so that it is absolutely clear that I am not attending this rally on behalf of, or in representation of, any media organisation to which I may have ties. I’m proud of what I stand for, but I respect the rights of the aforementioned organisations to remain neutral to this protest.

And with that out of the way…

I support this:

In an effort to stop this:

(Both songs courtesy of The Ray Hadley Morning Show and The Robertson Brothers)

Samuel

1 comment August 22nd, 2011 at 03:04am

Andrew Bolt and the ash cloud

The two aren’t directly related. The link is one which applies to me.

The Institute of Public Affairs posted on Facebook today to inform everyone that their Freedom Of Speech In Australia night with Andrew Bolt, Mark Steyn and others is now booked out. For those of you who won’t be there, the good news is that a video of the night will be posted online after the event.

At the moment, even though I am booked to be there, I do have to wonder if I may miss out and be forced to wait for the video to be posted online. I hope not, but given the current situation with the ash cloud from the volcano in Chile, it’s a distinct possibility. You see, due to my commitments, I do not have time to drive to Melbourne and can only make it to the evening by flying. I am not a big fan of flying, but I do it when I have to, although I can guarantee you that if I had a couple extra hours of free time on that day, I would drive to Melbourne, stay the night, and drive back the next day. As it happens though, I don’t have that option, so I’ll be flying, unless an ash cloud puts the kibosh on those plans. If that happens, I sadly won’t be going.

My fear though is not that I won’t be able to go, but that I might not be able to get back. I am fortunate that, due to a happy coincidence in my work roster, I do not have to work on Tuesday next week and therefore have plenty of time to make my way back to Canberra as otherwise even flying back might not have been viable, however I do have to be at work at 5:30am on Wednesday, so it would be prudent to be back in Canberra as early as possible. At this time, I intend on being back in the early afternoon, but this assumes that I am able to fly back…if an ash cloud prevents that, then chaos ensues. My two backup plans are either a lengthy train/coach trip which would require me to leave Melbourne quite early in the morning and not reach Canberra until early in the evening, and then I would still have to reach the airport to retrieve my car, leaving little time to settle back in to Canberra and sufficiently rest before work. The other option is a coach trip, which would probably take just as long and probably provide the same problems.

The thought of a hire car did cross my mind, but alas I’m not sure that my budget would stretch that far, nor am I sure that it would be logistically viable for a handful of reasons.

If it looks like the ash cloud may cause an issue for my return trip a bit closer to the date, then I will probably book a “backup plan” ticket just in case. It may very well turn out to be dead money, but it would probably be worthwhile as an insurance policy against getting stuck in Melbourne and being unable to work.

Perhaps I worry too much, but given the fact that I haven’t planned a trip in this much detail for some time and I’m quite excited about going to this event, I do not want it to be ruined or turned in to a chaotic haphazardness of transport by an ash cloud.

Here’s hoping it all goes smoothly.

Samuel

June 14th, 2011 at 10:13pm

True, but let’s see if we can clear the coffee debt

Ah, the things one finds on the internet. I don’t really even remember what prompted my session of googling myself other than the fact that I was going to go to sleep and got sidetracked. Anyway, after skimming a dozen or so pages of results which were largely filled with automated MP3 indexing websites which have latched on to one or more of my MP3 files, and finding that I was wished a happy birthday the other day on a decent number of McPherson Media (publisher of the Deniliquin Pastoral Times and a heap of other local papers) newspaper websites, I stumbled upon Google’s “Realtime Search” which seems to scour Twitter and other social media services. It produced this interesting result:

Still owed coffee

The Twitter account which published that either no longer exists or has changed name since then (I’d suggest the former seeing as a search of Twitter for my name doesn’t yield this result), however I’m pretty sure that I know who wrote that.

So, to that person, yes, you do, but that’s partially my fault for not informing you on the one occasion that I was in your town (assuming that you’re still in that town), although I wouldn’t have had time on that occasion anyway as I was there on business.

If you still want to meet for coffee, I’ll be in your town on the 20th and 21st of this month, albeit with a limited amount of free time. If this interests you, email me.

Regardless, it’s nice to see that you’re still around. I hope things are going well for you. And don’t worry, it’s not that much of a shift to be understanding me more, because my perspective has changed a bit over time as well.

If the rest of you are still reading at this point, take this as a lesson in data retention on the internet. Stuff sticks around long after you think you’ve removed it.

Samuel

June 5th, 2011 at 11:48pm

Horse Park Drive accidents this morning

I know how quickly these things can spread, so I’m going to clarify this one now to avoid any possible unnecessary confusion, concern or alarm.

Yes, there was a serious accident on Horse Park Drive in the early hours of this morning. No, it wasn’t mine.

I did run off the road while avoiding a kangaroo on Horse Park Drive in the wee hours and my car has sustained some damage which is now the insurance company’s problem, however I was unharmed in the incident, thankfully. I expected the whole thing to end very badly, and given the location and exact events, it could have been much much worse, so I’m thankful and lucky. The short version is that, in the process of avoiding the kangaroo, my car slid off the other side of the road, turned 180 degrees and skidded backwards for quite some distance through the grass and bushes, somehow (thankfully) avoiding the larger bushes and trees.

I feel very sorry for the people involved in an accident on the same road about an hour or two after me, as detailed by the Emergency Services Agency:

5:45am Saturday 19 March 2011 – Serious motor vehicle accident in Gungahlin ACT Ambulance Service and ACT Fire Brigade are on scene at a single vehicle accident on Horsepark Drive Gungahlin.

Intensive care paramedics are treating a total of three patients including one trapped by confinement in the wreckage.

Firefighters are currently working to free the person.

6:15am Saturday 19 March 2011 – Update – Serious motor vehicle accident in Gungahlin Firefighters have extricated a male from the wreckage following a two car collision not single vehicle as first thought.

He is being treated for suspected chest and leg injuries.

Two other females patients from the same car have been stablised on scene by intensive care paramedics with suspected abdominal injuries.

All three patients will be transported to the Canberra Hospital in a serious condition.

The occupant or occupants of the second vehicle left the scene before ambulance and fire brigade arrived.

I would be interested to know where exactly on this road the accident occurred as mine occurred in the stretch of road which has been rather poorly resurfaced recently, creating a very loose and somewhat slippery surface…not good for avoiding animals on a road which is notorious for crazy wildlife.

My thoughts and prayers are with the people involved in the serious crash. It is certainly not a good morning for that road.

Samuel

March 19th, 2011 at 07:48am

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