Outsourcing and offshoring

30 06 2006

This one came up on one of my email discussion lists the other day. Here is my off-list response to one of the people who responded to the initial post.


… Whenever the subject of ‘offshoring’ comes up, those of us who live and work in other countries usually get p***ed off by the “sky is falling” attitude of many in the US.

Living in Australia, I’m no different to someone living in India or China in that I don’t live in the US. Yet I doubt that the hue and cry over Australians getting ‘offshored’ work from the US would be as loud.

I suspect that Australians, New Zealanders, Brits, and Canadians aren’t treated with the same contempt and Indians, Chinese, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, whatever…

I suspect it’s a case of thinly-disguised racism.

And hell, offshoring or outsourcing has been going on for years and in every industry. The same people who complain about Tech Writer jobs being offshored to India/China etc. probably have no qualms at all about buying clothing made in those countries, or buying Japanese/Korean/Taiwanese electronics and vehicles. I guess they just don’t see that it’s a double standard that they’re applying.

In fact, many probably have home help – cleaners, gardeners, lawn mowing contractors, and the like. And I bet they don’t have any qualms about that either. My house cleaner costs far less than I make per hour, does a better job, and likes what she does. So why *wouldn’t* I outsource something I hate, don’t do well, and make a loss on?

Yet these same people complain about “their” jobs going to someone else – who might or might not live overseas. Gee, I wonder if they’d be as snooty and holier-than-thou if their job went to a fellow American who could do it for far less instead of someone in India or China.

<end of what became a bit of a rant!>

Down south… and lovely wines!

30 06 2006

We just couldn’t wait… well, I couldn’t anyway! Last Sunday we drove down to Bridgetown to check how the land development is coming along. We haven’t been down since December/January, and there’s at least two or so new houses up and others under construction, so it’s all happening! The roads and utilities are now in for the stage where the investment block is located, and the road and some of the utilities are in for the stage where the block we want to live on is located. It’s getting closer, though it’s still some years before our house will be built. A lot has to happen before it can even start!

Meantime, the drive south was lovely – as always. But it’s so DRY for this time of year. By now, all the paddocks should be lush and green, but they weren’t. We’ve had one of the driest winters on record so far and rain looks a long way off. The farmers are going to do it tough as they haven’t been able to plant their crops. Which means we all do it tough with rising prices, a flatter economy, etc.

One of the delights of the quick trip south (about a 7 hour drive all up there and back), was calling in to Wattle Ridge Wines and tasting some of the Two Tinsmiths range. Lovely wines… so much so that we purchased three cartons – two of cleanskins, and one of the 2002 Cab Sav. The Two Tinsmiths 2002 has some vivid memories for us – it was over a bottle of it that we made the decision last September to look for some acreage to move to in the next 5 years. The following day we put a deposit on the first block in Bridgetown (the one we want to live on) and two weeks later (after checking out our borrowing capacity first!) we put a deposit on the second block.

Memories of eucalypts

21 06 2006

Someone on one of my lists wrote about eucalypts in Israel, then someone else from San Francisco compared their smell to cat pee… Here's my response:


If you've ever been to California, you've probably seen eucalypts. They're everywhere there… From southern California to areas north of San Francisco, you can't drive too far without seeing one of those big trees we call "gum trees". An Australian export that has now populated many parts of the world, including South Africa, the Middle East, and the US. And then there's eucalpytus oil which you can probably find in your supermarket or drug store – great for all manner of things, including clearing sinuses and getting scuff marks off shoes! (seriously)

Of course, if you've ever been to Australia, that's about all you see! I don't know how many varieties of eucalypts there are, but it's a lot! The blue of the "Blue Mountains" behind Sydney is a result of the massive amounts of eucalyptus oil given off by milions of trees – it creates the bluish haze. And that oil is what makes them burn so well.

The cat pee smell thing… Never thought of eucalypts like that, but then I've lived with the smell all my life without even knowing it's there. When I lived in Canada for a year, I took some vacation time and drove down the entire west coast of the USA. Somewhere in northern California I came across a stand of gum trees by the side of the highway. I stopped the car, got out, and just scrunched up a heap of leaves in my hands and sniffed long and hard – that smell was wonderful and reminded me so much of home. I ended up tearing off a small switch and keeping it in the rental car for days, having a sniff every so often. It'd been at least 6 months since I'd smelled a eucalypt. Then when I arrived in Sydney after 13 months away, the first thing I smelled as I came out of the airport was eucalypts! I'd never noticed the smell in the air before, but being away for so long without the smell, it really hit me on arrival… so much so I burst into tears! <sob>

More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptus

Shocker Dockers – again…

18 06 2006

They played badly, they couldn’t kick goals, there appeared to be no on-field leadership… and they got thumped by Geelong at home!!!

The weather was fantastic, there was little wind, the temperature was mild, they were playing to their home crowd who just wanted them to play with passion – there are NO excuses for such poor performance.

At least by leaving 10 minutes into the final quarter I didn’t get caught in the traffic. Small consolation.

One down, one to go…

15 06 2006

We had some long-awaited good news the other day – one of the two blocks of land we put a deposit on last year is due to settle before the end of the month. The other will be some weeks yet as it's in a later stage of the development. The second one is the one we want to build on; the first to settle is an investment block. 

And what an investment it seems to have been! So far, we've only paid $500 deposit on each block, but both have increased in value tremendously since we paid those deposits in late September and mid-October last year. The investment block (0.75 acres) has a contracted purchase price of $85K; other blocks in that same stage of a similar size are now on the market for $140K+. The block we want to build on (1.1 acres) has had similar growth.

Settlement has been a long time coming – we were told the investment one would settle in January and the other in March. It's now mid-June and only now is the investment one close to settlement (i.e. we'll then own it!). I suspect it will be July or August before the other one settles, unless they've made more inroads into getting the infrastructure finished than I heard a few weeks ago. We really should go down there soon and check out the progress of the road building etc. and take a look at some of the new homes going up in the development…

Of course, settlement is all well and good – but now have to meet the increased loan payments… 

Virgin Banana Margaritas

9 06 2006

Those of you who know me well know that I like a good margarita! So when bananas get back to a decent price in Australia, I'll make this (the Queensland banana crop was wiped out by Cyclone Larry in March 2006 and so banana prices are through the roof at the moment).

  • 1 lime wedge
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • caster sugar (for the glasses)
  • 3 peeled bananas 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 cup whole milk 

Rub rims of 2 glasses with lime. Spread caster sugar on a plate and dip the rims into the sugar to coat. Fill blender half way with ice cubes. Add lime juice, bananas, sugar and milk. Blend until combined. Taste for sweetness – add more sugar, if required. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

High praise indeed

7 06 2006

I had a pleasant surprise in the Inbox today – my evaluations from the presentation I did at the AODC Conference in Cairns early last month. This was my first time presenting at this conference, so I was very pleased with the results and with my ranking as 3rd highest ranked speaker at the entire conference!

Here’s what I got (each score is an average out of 5, where 5 is “Outstanding”):

  • Speaker Skills 4.8
  • Speaker Knowledge 4.8
  • Quality of Content 4.8
  • Delegate interest in topic 4.7

Some of the written comments for this session (all unsolicited):

  • “Wonderful”
  • “I hadn’t thought I was interested, but it had heaps of useful info, so I’m glad I didn’t choose this session for a break”
  • “Spoke a bit fast. Great content”
  • “A great coverage of a lot of useful tools”
  • “A lot of content in time, but wouldn’t want it longer”
  • “Great practical session”
  • “Would have liked more demo stuff”
  • “Very useful review and tools”
  • “Great session. Not teaching us to suck eggs. Useful resources.”

Just a little hoarse

4 06 2006

Well, the 'good Dockers' came out to play last night. You never know with this team – one week the bad team plays, the next it's the good team. Same guys; different attitude. The game against Richmond last night was a beauty – not as good as the Derby in May, and nowhere near as emotional and heart-stopping as the game against St Kilda last year in Round 21 when Justin Longmuir kicked the deciding goal after the siren… but it came close.

At half time the scores were level and by 3/4 time Richmond was leading by about 9pts. The Dockers had a resurgence in the final quarter and the goal by Shaun McManus put us 5 pts in front. Paul's brilliant goal in the final few minutes sealed the deal and put us 11pts in front – Shannon and I were ecstatic! The Dockers won and keep their place in the top 8 (currently 7th).

The big downside of tonight's game was an injury to the Dockers captian, Peter Bell. Like Shaun McManus and Troy Cooke, Belly has no concern for his life or limb when he goes for the ball. And he paid for it tonight with an injury to his lower calf that will keep him out of the playing team for a couple of weeks.

Did I have a voice at the end of the game? Nope! Did I care? Nope! Were Shanny and I over the moon? You bet! Pity the others had to leave earlier andmissed a great final quarter.
That's one of the things I love about going to the footy – unlike TV, you can yell and scream and no-one thinks anything of it, 'cos everyone else is doing the same! It's actually very cathartic – you can express emotions (highs and lows) in a way that wouldn't be acceptable in a work situation or perhaps even a family situation. You just can't get that with the TV broadcast. And the other thing you can't get with TV is the raw emotion of 35,000 people all chanting at the same time. Powerful stuff. (Despite this, I still watched the game again on TV when I got home… tragic!)