Friday, 28 April 2006

The Death Knell of Public Speaking or This Party’s Lamer Than Richard Wilkin

I must offer as a preface of sorts that this was written whilst... entranced... by a technical presentation on the corrosive effects of 5% biofuel blended petrol on sensitive engine components that come as standard in Japanese cars given by an obviously able Japanese engineer of almost-unintelligible accent.

You have been warned.


It’s become almost de rigeur for conference speakers nowadays to talk to their powerpoint presentations up on the big screen beside them or the little screen before them. This marks quite a shift from a time when speakers actually spoke to their audience. Crazy I know but wait there’s more. No not steak knives. No ladies and gentlemen I give you the handout of the powerpoint presentation. Our attentions already shown unworthy by speakers’ insisting on talking to any inanimate object not a person, why should we bother looking up from the hard copy lying before us.

One thing I find especially enjoyable is the cyclical cacophony of pages turned in unison every three slides. It’s the audience equivalent of an I-don’t-care-what-you’re-saying-so-please-hurry-up-so-I-can-score-my-free-lunch.

Powerpoint has no doubt proved a boon to those otherwise lacking in the confidence required to get up in front of a group of people and persuade them towards a particular point of view. Despite the liberating element to powerpoint I can’t help but feel that more often than not it serves to dissuade rather than persuade the audience to accept the argument put to them.

Well that of course assumes that a cogent argument is actually put across in the presentation. That unfortunately is often difficult to determine under the sometimes overwhelming reliance on tables, graphs and bullet points that plague so many powerpoint presentations. The insistence by some to use pictures, animations and *gags* short movies to liven up their presentations only goes to support my assertion that powerpoint enables mediocrity of argument more than anything else.

I can’t help but think that maybe there is a reason some people have the gift of the gab and others don’t. If one cannot get their argument across to other people in a way that is persuasive then why I would question why they should bother saying anything in the first instance. It wastes my time and yours to sit through such painful exercises.

And I say all this as one who physically shook whenever asked to speak publicly. By all accounts the crash course a former mentor of mine put me through in my formative employment years lead to a greater comfort with speaking in front of groups. Powerpoint was an essential tool in my development back then, but with the conferences, seminars and speeches I’ve had to endure since I can’t help but admit to having come to despise that which proved so useful.

Conferences and seminars have become nothing more than time filler with free food and maybe drink as a perk to the often painful exercise. Just once I’d like to go to an event and not only learn something but feel almost persuaded or at least challenged in my preconceptions. Just once I’d like to judge an event on more than the quality of its catering. Just once I’d like a conference to be more than a day or so out of the office. We may be on the clock but an hour wasted is still an hour of our lives we can never get back.

Thursday, 27 April 2006

It’s getting too surreal, you don’t need pxts


Yesterday marks the last noisy gasp of my once-ubiquitous iPod. Much loved since its purchase almost 14 months ago, it was a constant and welcome presence in my life.

[ INSERT MOMENT OF SILENCE HERE ]

It shall be missed.

Well...

At least until I buy a new one next week.

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

Songs of Faith and Devotion? No no no! Songs of Shame and Humiliation

I play music in my office while I’m working. CDs blare from the stereo while I cook. The iPod is hooked up to the car stereo while I drive. Shopping sojourns are enjoyed to the iTunes playlist du jour. Music, or at least its appreciation, plays a big part of my daily life.

I am however held hostage to what I like to term my songs of shame and humiliation. Every now and again an anxiety attack will strike as a song starts up that I desperately hope noone else notices is on my iPod. I've been caught out with Peaches commenting on how I want to suck on her titties while I dashed to get something from the printer and a Kelly Clarkson remix left one (*coughs* EKG) to remark "Jake that sounds gay".

Where once we hid our guilty CDs behind the others or in a secret stash under lots of other crap, the iPod, like the cellphone before it, leaves us more open to being found out.

So in the interests of openness, transparency and indulging in a "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall"-kinda Reagan moment, these are some of my songs of shame and humiliation:

  • Every song from the self-titled debut effort from that dreadful Jared Leto-led group 30 Seconds From Mars (I liked My So-Called Life when it was on IceTV back in the early days when it was good and the show was good)
  • Every song from Russian pedo-pop duo t.A.T.u (... I have no excuse - I'm so sorry)
  • My one Mandy Moore song, In My Pocket (it has a catchy Middle Eastern riff to it!)
  • Every song by Swedish electro-pop trio Bodies Without Organs (someone else loaded it onto my iPod and I haven't taken it off for... "sentimental" reasons)
  • Almost every song on Ultra.Dance07 (I swear I bought it for the Depeche Mode remix - HONEST!!!)
  • Every 1980s Duran Duran song (there is a time and place for 1980s DD and daylight hours and in public are neither)
  • Most songs by Aussie pop princess Kylie (I'm not sure of any possible setting where this could be considered appropriate - well I can but I'd rather not admit to participating in such occasions)
  • My one Linkin Park song (it's from the soundtrack to The Matrix Reloaded, although I don't know which brings more shame)
  • I Like To Move It from the soundtrack to Madagascar (its a catchy song to a good film if a tad gay even for me)
  • The poppy soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann's lurid Moulin Rouge (moment of weakness, I assure you)
  • Russian vocalist Origa's j-pop track Inner Universe (its the theme song to my favourite TV show, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex)

Now, its your turn. What are some of your songs of shame and humiliaition?

Monday, 24 April 2006

When idle hands attack

Following on from Hadyn's example (no not THAT Hayden, or this Haydn or even this Hayden) I thought I'd give this a go. Yes folks...

ERusty BlueeRY?DAYISthe letter AGOOooDDAYTO 0Sneon HOP
Ain't it purdy?

Thursday, 20 April 2006

I thought you’d be in raptures of delight.

Mr That’s-Some-Wrong-Shit has claimed ownership of the Xbox.

Duck season can’t come soon enough.

Us catholics arnt alowd eggs til Sunday

Is homemade chocolate intentionally inedible or is that just me and my sensitive palate?

We had chocolate easter eggs of the chocolate-coated marshmallow variety. Bought from Kirks (of course) and the stubborn label on the back said they were from the Hawkes Bay. That worries me as it is but the chocolate was almost waxy and so heavily over-ridden with cocoa powder in the way that homemade chocolate almost always suffers. They almost ruined my Easter break.

And how was your Easter break? Suitably festive?

I’m not sure… what I’m looking for… anymore

I tried to do the crossword the other day. I failed miserably.

Such a sad state of affairs for one who used to do the crossword every day. The Dominion Post sports page every weekday morning. The New Zealand Herald section every weekday afternoon. It was a daily ritual for many years. A task attacked with almost religious zeal. Obscura of the Hebridean isle, Spanish resort and Sussex town persuasion proved sometimes unfair but never insurmountable.

Condescending doesn’t even begin to describe my attitude towards the obviously less fulsome in the vocabulary department. Just ask pinstripes. I’m sure he bore more than his fair share of scars.

And yet almost inexorably the ritual became daily no more.

Which is unfortunate. For someone who relies on the written word quite as much as I do the lack of practice seemed to leave me almost unable to do the crossword unaided by the assistance of others.

If this were a cliché, I would take this slight as incentive to take up arms and charge once more at the windmill. But then I’m far too cynical for my own good. There are no doubt fairly decent reasons why the habit became less regular and as with all things its time had come. That being the case I shall let this be an obituary of sorts for what was a once-treasured pastime.

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

Anyone want an Xbox?

After getting the 360 I can't quite bring myself to go anywhere near the original Xbox. So now it's just gathering dust atop a small pile of games I don't play anymore.

If Zoë were around she'd already have it on trademe earning money that she would spend herself.

Ah, those were the days.

so whats new in the world of you?

Good news: The musically-inclined Michael is back in our nation's capital after a brief stint working in San Francisco.
Bad news: I don't think he got me anything while he was over there.

Good news: The film festival season has begun.
Bad news: Government funding cuts for Outtakes means Hotnut will no longer be coming over to screen his short film.

Good news: I’ll get to see more of Her Floralness more often when she moves to sunny Gisborne.
Bad news: She might learn things about my family I would prefer were left unknown.

Good news: My iPod is working again.
Bad news: The wankers at EMI have loaded copy control software onto a couple CDs I’ve recently bought that won’t let me load them onto the iPod.

Good news: The Mangymechboy is alive and well in Germany awaiting deployment to the land of his cultural heritage.
Bad news: I haven’t seen him for ages and the imminent shift to China means I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to see him.

Good News: Mr That’s-Some-Wrong-Shit has informed me that duck-shooting season will soon be upon us.
Bad News: I’m not sure Kirks has tweezers for removing shot from duck breasts.

Good News: One’s social calendar seems to be filling up.
Bad News: I’m not sure I’m ready to be sociable just yet.

Friday, 7 April 2006

Nothing says "take me now" like meat sweats

So maybe Mister Chris and I met at Astoria for lunch yesterday.

So maybe we swapped CDs (my Massive Attack Special Edition for his Volume 12 of His Whoreness presents...).

So maybe we talked comics and fanboy films.

So maybe we talked about how dumb the writers of Lost are and why people who don't like Gilmore Girls must be boring people.

So maybe I had perhaps the best steak for lunch at Astoria. Steak with chips. And green peppercorn sauce. And *gags* salad. So good.

So maybe I ate it too quickly.

So maybe I broke out in meat sweats halfway through the deliciously herbivorous morsel.

So maybe I felt bloated and satisfied afterwards.

So maybe yesterday was a good day to eat steak.

And chips.

With green peppercorn sauce.

Hmmm... meat sweats.

I need a new iPod

My iPod is playing silly buggers on me and I can’t be assed trawling through the iLounge forums to try any number of fiddly fixes and nonsensical non sequiturs.

Long story short: it makes grinding noises, freezes often, cuts out seconds into every song and refuses to connect to the laptop so I can load up new tunes.

Thankfully yesterday was pay day and pay day should always = shopping.

If not, I pity your sad money-saving existence.

Monday, 3 April 2006

Worthiness

It seems some consider one of my more recent posts unworthy of mention.

I must admit to being dumbstruck as to how one one could respond to something like that without coming across as emo, tetchy or on the verge of molesting one's wrists. Examining my options...

I could talk about the faults and flaws in his own online literary opus, but that won't make my offending post any more interesting.

I could remove the offending post, but that would prove similarly ineffective.

I could fix the offending post so to help make it more worthy, but I'm not sure Palmerston North or the trip deserve such attention.

I could simply ignore the comment, but that would give the impression I'm fine with something I am not.

I could explain why I published the offending post instead of other perhaps more relevant material, but then you would be made aware of a less than savoury reality I would rather remained hidden behind the veneer of stability.

I could try and post more worthy material as diversion from the offending post, but shopping (like posts about cheese) seems to prove stale awfully quickly, my taste in music falls on deaf ears, my observations on the world around me go largely ignored and there is so very much going on that I purposefully prevent from appearing on this blog. That doesn't leave a lot for one to work with.

So I ask you... what should I do?