You called it what?

Shopping today - had to buy some Nutella (Hazelnut Spread).

Noticed a couple of cheaper imitations. One was Foodland or Black and Gold brand. The other, well, was:


Nutkao new Cream.

Guess which one I didn’t buy.

The problem with stupid employees

I’ve worked in fast food. Granted, it was a long time ago, and I was only a delivery driver, but it vexes me how often orders are mucked up by these (generally) young people. What hope does our society have when the youth can’t listen properly and remember for thirty seconds what food I want. We went to KFC at Mitcham tonight, on the way home from a Training & Development session. Jaq was driving, so she ordered, and it went a little like this:

Jaq: Can I have a Zinger Bacon and Cheese Twister, in a large combo; and a second twister with cheese and no tomato please.
Stupid Drivethru Operator: Okay, so that’s one Bacon and Cheese Twister in a large combo, and a twister with cheese and no tomato.
Jaq: No, the first one was a Zinger Twiser.
SDO: Sorry, we don’t do Zinger Twisters.
Me (yelling from passenger seat): Yeah you do, I have them all of the time.
SOD: Silence.
Jaq (to me): So that’s it then? Do I drive thru?

[We decide to drive to the window. As the previous car pulls away, a hand holding a large chips comes out of the window - obviously they forgot to pack the order properly.]

New Drivethru Operator: We don’t have them as a menu item, but we can make one up for you.
Jaq: Ok, thanks.
NDO: So, that’s a Bacon and Cheese Zinger Twister combo. What drink did you want?
Jaq: There was another twister too, with cheese and no tomato.
NDO: Ok. What drink did you want then?
Jaq: Sunkist.

[Time passes. Drink is brought out. It’s a small one.]

Jaq: Um, we ordered a large meal. Were you the girl I spoke to before? Because she read that bit of the order back to me.
NDO: No. Sorry.

[NDO takes drink, and brings back a large bottle.]

NDO: There you go, and there is your meal.

[Bag is handed to us. As we begin to drive off, I notice there is a small chips in the bag. We stop. I then realise there are two small chips.]

Jaq: Excuse me, we ordered a large meal and got two small chips.
NDO: Yeah, we have run out of large chips containers.

[We drive home.]

When we arrived home, it got even worse. Initially, we thought they’d stuffed up Jaq’s order badly, by giving her tomatoes, and no cheese. But it turned out that they had just made my Zinger Twister sans Bacon and Cheese. So, I’m counting about 5 errors in our order, plus at least one in the order of the car before us. That’s pretty pathetic, KFC.

Living without Coffee

I ran out of Espresso Grind coffee last week, and, not having enough money to buy anymore, went without until the cashflow had fined up a bit. Rather than drink the posh that passes for instant coffee, I went without. And it was horrific. I didn’t really realize how badly I need a coffee in the mornings until I actually had my first coffee in some time this morning. And immediately I felt better. So, it seems I am totally addicted to bass, um, coffee. Caffeine is something that is quite unusual in my body: I can have a coffee right before bed and yet drop right off immediately, but if I go without in the mornings, I am my normal, grumpy self. It’s not until I have the drop of Java that I become a shadow of a respectable person. Anyway, whilst the cashflow is still looking shaky, it turned out I had enough on my Hudson’s card to grab a bag of freshly ground good stuff. And I’m sure my students will thank me.

Flavoured Chips

I was a bit peckish waiting for the train on Friday, so I bought a packet of chips. Smiths have a new flavour range out, including Australian Sausage Sizzle. They actually weren’t too bad. They did taste a bit like a sausage. I remember the good old days of the Roast Beef and Mustard chips. Derek and I used to have a packet of them every Sunday for lunch. And it was just like having a Roast Sunday Dinner. But easier to prepare.

Coffee Physics I don’t understand Coffee Physics

Fresh hot coffee: yum. ** Day old coffee:** yuck. Cold coffee (day-old coffee that’s been stuck in the fridge): yum.

I’ve noticed this too: but even more so, if I brew some fresh coffee, it’s great. If I brew it, pour it over ice and put fresh cold milk in there, it’s great. If I put it in a thermos flask, and drink it two hours later, it’s still nice and hot, but no longer nice.

DeLonghi Espresso Machine Faulty

For Christmas, we bought a DeLonghi Metropolis Espresso machine. I’m pretty happy with the quality of coffee it makes, however it seems to have developed a pretty major fault, since I last used it. The machine has two thermostats, one for heating the plate to the right temperature for brewing coffee, the other for heating to the right temperature for frothing milk. The coffee thermostat seems to be broken, so the machine will not heat up when it’s just in ‘coffee’ mode. I can get the machine to heat up by flicking the switch ‘frothing’ mode, but then I need to be there to turn it off as it gets to the right temperature. I’ll have to get this fixed. The machine is only three months old, and I’ve been taking very good care of it! I’ve sent off an email to DeLonghi customer service. It will be interesting to see how they respond to email.

Is Google Dumbing Us Down?

In the latest issue of The Monthly, Gideon Haigh explains how having access to so much information, and in particular access in the way Google presents it, is making us less smart. There’s still lots to like about this magazine: it provides a new voice in Australian culture, having extended articles on interesting topics. I see it as similar in some ways to the Independent Weekly, a newspaper that’s new to Adelaide, but easier to handle in a couple of ways - firstly being a smaller format. It’s much easier to take with you, and therefore take your time reading it. The articles are a bit more national - although there are several international articles in the various editions I’ve read.

So, does Google make you dumber?

Google is a very new phenomenon. It wasn’t the first Search Engine on the Internet, but it is certainly the first one to become a household name. Everyone knows what Google is, and, as Haigh indicates, people think that Google has all of the answers. You can find virtually everything on Google, and I use it as a first place for finding information now. I guess the advantage I have over the next generation is that I have a background in finding information gathering - that is, I studied at University when libraries were the best source of information.

I also have a healthy level of skepticism; I try to think about the source of every article I read, and judge it for bias. Students who have only ever known Google and the Internet tend not to understand that some sources of information are more reliable than others. I think there is lots to like about Google, and the ease at which it finds information. The suggestion that sites that are popular tend to become more popular is made, and I concede that this appears to be the case. However, as a self-publisher, I find that my site has a fairly decent PageRank, just by actually writing lots of stuff that I know a bit about.

Generally, Google is very good at finding the best source of information on a topic. Whilst most people don’t go past the first page of hits, that’s because the rest of the information tends to be a little crap. There is lots of junk on the internet, but using the correct search terms means that it’s possible to find anything about anything, quickly and with little effort. The key here is knowing how to best use Google to search. Whilst Google has a great, simple interface, there is huge power underneath.

Students, especially post-secondary, must know how to search using some of the advanced methods, or even just using quotes to search for a phrase, rather than a list of words. And Google, at this time, is not the be-all and end-all of searching, especially for academic purposes. Things like Medline, and specific search engines (often not publicly available, or not free) provide full-text indexing of many academic journals. I look forward to the day when Google Scholar has all of this information, free. I haven’t done much with Google Scholar, as I’m not actively studying right now, but I suspect that there are indices that are not accessible through this interface. And having access to the titles of articles, and in some cases abstracts, isn’t enough. I want there to be full access to full text of journals. I don’t know how journals will manage the transition to free access, or even if they will, but it looks like a rosy future, when I don’t have to travel from University library to library to try and find a particular issue of a particular periodical. I often use the adage: I don’t know, but I know how to find it out, and this aspect of knowledge is taken into account by Haigh when she quotes Julian Sefton-Green (a lecturer from my old University, UniSA):

…It’s much more important that people know where to find out… it’s going to be much more important to be able to rank, order and interpret information than [to know] the information itself; to have the appropriate critical and analytical tools.

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