Sunday, January 25, 2009

Helping with Homework

The Grumblettes are currently both at college, working on an introductory course. They've recently been given an assignment to write "a report". The assignment guidelines are quite detailed, laying out exactly what's expected of them. As usual, though, there's quite a gap between the the abstract explanations of the college tutor, and what he or she is actually trying to convey.

Mrs Grumbler requested that I help, so I knocked up a quick example which, she says, I should publish. Since I know when to do as I'm told... Here it is. If anyone else has observed similar behaviour, or resorted to the same approach, I'd love to learn about it... (That means, leave comments please)...

Update: 28 January. Clearly hacked off with being reviled by the 'junior workers' the dishwasher itself has gone on strike, claiming to have triggered its 'leak prevention system'. This has precipitated a call to 'appliance repair man', who will arrive in his souped up Transit Van on Friday. Its also raised the question, why doesnt the UK Government have a leak prevention system?

Dishwasher Behaviour Report


Figure 1: AEG Dishwasher

This report describes a number of behaviour patterns displayed by the junior workforce at “Grumbler Towers” and observed by the Senior Management after the workforce has been requested to Empty and Refill the Dishwasher. One specific behaviour will be analysed in detail, and the implications of a second behaviour will be discussed, prior to making a conclusion based on the effects of all of the behaviours.

Observed behaviours


This is a desirable but rare behaviour. When exhibited, the junior worker will complete the task properly, promptly and without complaint.

I Hate the Stupid Dishwasher
This particular behaviour is an expression of dissent. Often, it merely takes the form of a grumble, but it may also be followed by a second behaviour and will then usually result in non-cooperation.

It’s Not My Turn (AKA I Did It Last Time)
The junior workforce consists of two individuals. Both are keen to ensure that one does no more work than the other. Sometimes the statement may be based on truth, and at other times it may simply be a preface to non cooperation.

They Aren’t My Dishes
This statement of the blindingly obvious is presumably an attempt to justify non-cooperation. As with all of the other behaviours, it is utterly irrelevant, and futile.

I’ll Do It Tomorrow
On the face of it, this may actually be a genuine attempt to put an unpalatable task off until a later date. However, if the request to defer the activity is granted, it often results in no-cooperation in the morning, especially if no reminder is issued. If the worker is questioned as to the reasons for failure to execute the task as agreed, it will often respond with “Forgot”.

Detailed Analysis of: It’s Not My Turn
The objective of this behaviour is to avoid the task by having it assigned to an alternate resource. This is usually a junior worker, but on occasion a management resource will be called upon to perform this individual contributor task.

As discussed above, the behaviour may indeed be based on fact – sometimes a worker is requested to perform the task on successive occasions. More often, however, this is an unsophisticated attempt to avoid work.

Management has attempted, with various degrees of success, to discourage this behaviour by assigning set days to perform the task, or by posting a written rota. Neither solution has ever worked satisfactorily for any extended period of time.

Implications of: They Aren’t My Dishes
Recent over-use of this excuse led to an alternative strategy by a member of the management team. Rather than attempt to refute a substantively correct, but nonetheless irrelevant statement, the workers were invited to clean their own dishes, immediately following any meal, and by hand (reference, telephone conversation during January between management team, one of whom was at the Headquarters location, and the other travelling on business in the USA).

This approach was highly effective, since it brought home that there are indeed less enjoyable ways of treating dishes than the requested dishwasher related activity.

Each of the behaviours listed, with the exception of “OK”, is exhibited with the sole aim of avoiding the dishwasher related task – at the expense of another party. All are irrelevant, since the task needs to be done, and all are counterproductive since they use more time and energy than actually completing the task without complaint. The fact that the junior workers are fully aware of this simply serves to make the behaviours utterly bewildering to the management team.

Reference List
Figure 1: AEG 60780 Dishwasher –
Telephone Conversation between Management team, January, 2009.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Offensiveness, philosophical musings...

Preface: This article contains some words. It is not my intention to cause offense to anyone having actually used 'words', but I found it very difficult to express myself without doing so. Er, sorry.

Note (16-Feb): Quite a few comments on this one.. not entirely a surprise, to be honest. Some, I have rejected, so in case anyone is wondering where their comment is, here's the guidelines I've been sticking to:
1) Some comments have been racist. That not what I was trying to do, so they wont get published.
2) Some comments were offensive towards an individual. Oddly, not to me, but to other people who have commented.
3) Common to both of the above, some comments have been anonymous. If a commenter wishes to take a pop at me, or one of the other folks that have commented here, they can damned well identify themselves to me. Contentious is OK, Anonymous is ok, but its either or, not both. My blog. My rules. OK?

Further oddness. Someone (anonymous) picked up on my Enid Blyton comments - shortly before Carol Thatcher got herself into hot water... Note the BBC's reasoning for her removal froma TV show - not because of what she said, but becuase they didnt like her apology. I'm not sure if this actually proves anything, other that I was right, this whole business is a minefield. (NB, no offence to mines is intended in this statement).

Good ole Prince Hal is up to his protuberant lug-oles in hot water again (must be a slow news day) for having (quite inadvisedly) referred to one of his colleagues (a gentleman from Pakistan) as a "Paki". Actually, that wasn't all he said, but its this particular word which is relevant to the thought which popped into my head while watching the item on the news this morning.

Now, the thought is this - If it is indeed offensive to refer to a Pakistani as a Paki, to the extent that the BBC feels it necessary to have a representative of said nationality on breakfast TV to debate the issue, can we assume that the next time someone calls me (note, I was born in the United Kingdom and am therefore British) a Brit, then I get to dress up as John Bull and get all pouty on TV?

The third in line to the throne (this is something Harry and I have in common - I often have to queue for the bathroom too) maintains that he had not intended to cause offense. Language, however, remains a minefield, with words that are considered perfectly innocent one day turning taboo overnight. If you don't believe me, go and dig up Enid Blyton and see what she has to say.

Finally, because I like to leave you with a disturbing mental image whenever I can, I mus pose this question. If Harry had called his mate a "Wanker", would the BBC have interviewed a short sighted gentleman carrying a copy of "Reader's Wives" magazine and a box of tissues?