A Little thought

Cardinal Pell’s account to the present abuse enquiry has quite understandably attracted more anger than sympathy, casting much doubt on his humanity. However on one point, he may deserve some defence.

Pell has been roundly condemned for blame shifting to his revered late predecessor, Sir Frank Little. Some observations are in order. Most importantly, the description of Little’s actions as thoroughly ‘reprehensible’ was first proposed by Michael O’Brien in questioning. Pell repeated the phrase only by way of answering the question put to him. Yet Pell alone has been castigated for besmirching Sir Frank.

Secondly, there can be little doubt that had the Cardinal rejected O’Brien’s assertion, he’d have been widely accused of protecting his mates. A phrase like ‘damned if you do, and damned if you don’t’ comes to mind.

Lastly saintly though he was, Abp Little was a mere human, and hence as capable of flawed judgement as the next man.

Differently wired

Amidst the furious political commentary on the rise and fall of Ted Baillieu as Liberal leader, little has been observed about the role of temperament in the art of public leadership. It would be unfortunate not to consider what lessons might be learned, certainly for Mr Baillieu himself but also for other aspiring leaders and those who advise them.

Observations have been made of diminishing confidence in the Baillieu government on account of its seeming inertia, along with occasional inferences that the man seemed something of a recluse, even though a likeable character. To this writer, reflecting from personal experience and growing self-awareness, Baillieu has consistently evidenced what Jungian psychologists call a preference for introversion. More plainly, he is almost certainly an introvert. As such it seems frankly unsurprising that he has struggled to command public confidence in the party he has lead.

In the right context we introverts can make excellent leaders, and many great names from history could be offered as examples. However our styles of thinking and communicating seem ill-suited to some of the demands of modern parliamentary leadership. The 21st century phenomenon of the 24/7 news cycle with its high speed communications has made the challenge more acute, certainly. But more broadly it’s been a reality at least since radios became commonplace. In other words it’s about speaking when all the world is wants to know.

Introverts are people who function best when able to withdraw from public access for times of reflection. We innately prefer to think about what we’d like to say before saying it. This means we’re less likely than others to pay the price of speaking in haste. But it also means we don’t do so well on our feet. We therefore find almost all kinds of interviews difficult, disappointing ourselves more often than not. The same goes for unscripted debates and even chairing public meetings (unless questions are strictly with notice). Baillieu has frequently done an excellent impersonation of a rabbit caught in the headlights, when facing the media, rarely seeming to speak with any reason, authority or conviction. Other introverts would commiserate with him, but may also ask what he’s doing in such a role in the first place. I for one, though thoroughly articulate, would be a disaster on a panel like ABC’s Q&A.

Further, the need for reflective space means moving at a generally slower pace than some, and needing due time to make decisions. Taking due time however is easier said than done with a growing in-tray. Under-reflected decisions are too often bad ones. All in all, many of Baillieu’s observable failures have been not unforeseeable.

The moral of the story: I shouldn’t lead a parliamentary party, and neither should Ted.

Another unMykely story

It’s been some time since I’ve ruminated in this forum on the mysterium tremendum which is Victoria’s very own Myki. That’s because its all been remarkably quiet and boring on (my) Myki front.

But that’s just changed, upon opening an envelope in today’s post. I had read some time back that as of mid-November a facility would be provided for any outstanding value on Metcards to be transferred to one’s Myki. I remembered this a few days ago whilst on a train, so duly presented myself, my Metcard and my Myki at the Metro Trains booth at Flinders St Station. Yes indeed, came the response, and I could simply arrange it at any ticket window or at any premium station. ‘You beaut’, thought I, and popped along to my local station near home.

Well guess what …. They gave me a form to fill in, which I was then to post (Reply Paid, at least) with the Metcard ticket. The good news is I got a pretty prompt reply in the post, informing me that “arrangements have been made” for a credit of Myki money. (Whoo-hoo!) The bad news (all familiar territory to us longsuffering Myki minions):

1. it will take up to 14 days;
2. I must (for the 57th time at least) present my card to a Myki machine or reader in order to get the $6.56 onto the Myki card;
3. following the above process, if I fail to touch-on again within – yes, you guessed it – 90 days … my $6.56 “will not be added to (my) card and is temporarily suspended”.

The wonder simply continues unabated …..

Myki does it again

My capacity to expend further scribal energy on Myki is waning. I shall be brief. Just had yet another two phone conversations with Myki staff, after second “change of mind” failed to ‘unlock’ anything. Advised that a “specialist” has now reconfigured (?) the next auto top-up transaction, so that it’s now available to the card. A simple touch-on to a Myki machine (or a “change of mind” for good measure) will now, so I’m told, result in the next $10 reaching the card. Following that, the next day should see everything hunky-dory. Yeah right …

What’s the betting I’m the butt of some elaborate stunt by either The Chaser or the Gruen mob?

A daily suppository

Here we are back on the Myki investigative trail, continuing from last time. When last I mused, I revealed the gnostic intrigue of the “change of mind”, with its promise of deeper enlightenment. I can now report that a mere isolated C.o.M. is simply paddling at the shallow end of Mykinian wisdom.

Added to that, I think I now have a little more sympathy with my poor Myki. They do say that something beginning with ’s’ simply .. er .. happens. Which of course it does. They rarely however name it’s opposite, which also .. happens. I’m speaking of course of constipation, which from time to time afflicts us all – let’s just be honest. Why should my Myki be any different? One should also recognise the embarrassing delicacy of the predicament which doubtlessly is as much behind the slowness of the unfolding revelation as the patience required for a cure. The C.o.M., I’ve concluded, is something akin to a daily suppository. And if you required that kind of therapy, then um .. well you know … you wouldn’t freely chat about it in the foyer after church, let’s face it.

It seems that my poor Myki’s intestines are all knotted up with half-digested auto top-ups and a cancellation. (I feel flatulent just thinking about it.) After the initial C.o.M. (which did indeed function as promised – complete with an onscreen “change of mind” message) – and naturally the requisite 24-hour fast, in my neophyte innocency I was puzzled that only one of the three half-digested ten-dollar auto top-ups had been released to the card. But oh what a dull simpleton I was. I didn’t recognise the blinding obvious, and needed a patient Myki HQ guru to spell it out to me in phone call #47 this morning. You can’t expect a single C.o.M. to right every ill. Dear me, no. You need a separate C.o.M. for each half-digested morsel, with – quite properly – a 24-hour fast before the next, in each case.

Now that’s what I call progress in the quest for spiritual enlightenment. So today I hied me off to Werribee train station once more, but not of course for some base purpose like catching a train. No, my quest was far purer. Having done one C.o.M. already, I was well prepared. And perhaps it’s a sign of how far I’ve come in this mystical quest, that it occurred to me that just maybe I could do the three remaining C.o.M.’s on the one occasion, 30 seconds apart. Just seemed logical somehow …

My publicly observable behaviour on the station platform today would no doubt have been somewhere between entertaining and alarming, depending on the Myers-Briggs type of those watching. Likely surmises would be either that I was someone harmless enough, though two lettuce leaves short of a salad, or a terrorist giving a coded signal to his mates. It’s likely therefore that my next post will be penned from either a Federal Police lockup or one of those islands where ASIS bang up their internees. Stay tuned …

P.S. Might it be that the real force behind Myki is Interpol … ? There’s some real fodder for investigative journalism.

My Myki, my life

I reckon I was onto more than I knew in coining the language of gnosticism in recent reflections on my personal Myki saga. Indeed I’ve now attained a still higher knowledge of Mykinian mysteries, surely a path to enlightenment, hitherto hidden from mortal perception. I had a sense that there might be some incantation yet to be revealed in the current quest for the holy grail of Myki functionality. If still I haven’t found it, I’ve certainly now been inducted into something awfully close.

My last report from the trenches concluded with the promise of a callback on my auto top-up query, which has at last been accorded the status of a case number. The plot had thickened exponentially, with the promise of still more. The callback came just a short time ago, and I was certainly not disappointed gnostically speaking. It has been revealed to me that two auto top-ups, one on a date in February 2010, the other sometime since, mysteriously failed to reach the card, even after multiple touch-ons. You know you’re into serious gnosis when even the higher inductees are truly mystified by a new discovery, as was the case for the guru who contacted me today. However he did lead me to a plane of enlightenment that makes a mere touch-on look positively neophyte. Before you read another word … I strongly recommend the removal of your shoes and a sniff of your armpits. You wouldn’t want to take this level of revelation lightly.

To continue … I must now take my wife’s Myki card back to the station. This time it’s to be touched-on not to the big blue money-eating mother ship, but rather the apparently pedestrian reader up on the platform. I’m to perform a kind of purification ritual (so it sounds, at least) known as a “change of mind”. You touch on — wait 30 seconds — then touch off. Sounds so simple, but we gnostics know of course that the purest revelations are always outwardly the most humble. The “change of mind” will, so I’m assured, have a disproportionately profound effect on my Myki account. It will apparently dislodge both the formerly lost transactions and the latter auto top-up cancellation from their ethereal prisons, thus restoring them to the card for which they were destined, all without befouling the total cash balance.

One further, more cosmic thought on the Myki story of us all. Myki could be conceived of as Victoria’s Tower of Babel – similar to, say, CityLink’s Burnley Tunnel. The former state government early in their reign announced a vision of Victoria becoming the techno capital of the Universe. Our state would host the premier tertiary courses in the bold frontiers of IT, such as computer game design inter alia. If it was top of the pops technologically, it would hail from our state. Once one has decided to be the hottest and biggest, there’s a sense of moral self-actualisation that compels one to go it alone as the new frontier pioneer par excellence. So then, we wanted a smartcard approach to transport ticketing (because being techno HQ demands smart everything). We could have bought a system that already works from London or Hong Kong. But we had to do it ourselves from scratch, to prove our world superiority. That’s what the world thought before Abraham wore short pants. It didn’t play out well then. Nothing’s changed. But who ever cared?

Anyway, I guess I’d better be off to test my new knowledge. But to play it safe, I’ll have a shower first.

Top-up no dropoff

A glance at my tag cloud indicates what rich blogging fodder Myki has provided over the past few years; a fact we of the blogosphere are thankful for (when we have nowhere to go).

Here continues the story of the auto top-up that doesn’t work, has never worked, and yet eludes all attempts at annihilation. In the last amazing Myki episode, I promised further gnostic revelations on the theme. Well, beloved readers, Myki has not disappointed me and thus I have not disappointed you.

To recap and continue  …

  • Stardate July 10th – clicked the ‘cancel’ button on the Myki screen.
  • Stardate July 21st (several light years later, I’m sure) – successful though challenging contact with Myki HQ. Advised to touch the card on a machine to complete cancellation.
  • Stardate last Tuesday (further light years having elapsed) – docked the Myki card at the big blue mother ship at Werribee Train Station.
  • Wednesday pm – logged on to Myki screen, finding no evidence of cancellation. Contacted HQ again. Advised that the ‘completion’ may take up to 24 hours to appear. Would certainly be done and dusted by day’s end.
  • Today – no change after 72 hours. Back to HQ. Myki underling referred me to a slightly higher Myki mate, with assurance of attention. SHMM provides me with a case number!!  Initial loud cheers from out here in the galaxy …

Stay tuned for the next thrilling Myki adventure, when someone else from Myki HQ will I believe call me back to address my case. Within 48 hours, I’m told. Fortunately I won’t be travelling.

No, Myki! Please, please … anything but that!!!!!

The great thing about Myki is that you learn something new about it most days. The sad part is that each new learning is most rarely either pleasant or winsome. Here’s my Myki-No-Lyki lesson for today …

I’m just off the phone to Myki HQ.

Getting through was a small challenge. Having been recently secreted in the bowels 1 of the new super entity Public Transport Victoria, resulting in a change to the phone number, Myki’s website still displays the old number. But not to worry. It’s early days by Myki standards, and the call is at least redirected. At someone’s cost – I wonder whose … ? But I digress. That was last month’s Myki-No-Lyki lesson. Or was it the month before? I’m never sure these days. [digression ended – promise!]

Now where was I? Oh yes, the phone call. The chap who dealt with me was ever so polite, which I’m guessing is part of the training. If you must routinely present facts which by the normal standards of rationality would be judged at best nonsensical, then you’d require the kind of bedside manner that would reduce news of a suicide car bomb in your street to the level of a chipped two dollar teacup. Working in the Myki call centre would make anyone a past master at such spin in no time at all. The chap was so cool, I wondered whether he had a pulse.

Allow me to set the scene … My question was with regard to my wife’s Myki card, which has blessed her with rich opportunities for personal character development. There seems to have been an ongoing difficulty getting the cash from the account to the card. Rather tragic, considering how much of our heard-earned is now in that account, thanks to sundry attempts to jump start the card’s heartbeat (which curiously always requires cash extraction and insertion).

It has to do with the auto top-up facility which I set in place a very long time ago. Some months ago I was informed that the problem was due to the auto top-up not getting into the system correctly to begin with. I was assured then that this would be rectified at the server end, and we’d be good to go. “Too easy”, thought I. Well I was wrong. Seems rather it was too hard. And still no money on the card when needed.

Not to be outdone I purposed to cancel the auto top-up myself, with a view to reseting it later. Apart from a system message telling me I’d need to wait 48 hours to reset it, I felt quite in control. No sir! A 2-day wait was not going to defeat me. I’ve handled worse than that before. I have a bank account. But behold even there Myki got the better of me. After a wait of .. well a bit more than 48 hours, let’s just say, I phoned up. And it was then that the most pleasant chap inducted me into a further Myki mystery.

Most of Melbourne now knows (as distinct from ‘understands’) that funds added to one’s account electronically are “archived” (= unavailable to the card at touch-on) if not used within 90 days. That by now is the stuff of Myki 101. I have now acquired advanced gnosis. The same system that so kindly “archives” your money, awaiting your next visit to a Myki machine for further cash release, will render the very same service for the cancellation of the auto top-up. There are, it seems, two steps required to attain the loftiness of auto top-up cancellation. Step #1 is clicking ‘cancel’ online. Step #2 is … yes, you guessed it … another visit to the Myki machine, to touch the magic pad. Thereupon, so my placid guru assured me, the cancellation will be completed. He didn’t mention an incantation, but maybe that will be the next Myki-No-Lyki lesson.

Stay tuned, friends. More gnostic revelations are undoubtedly just down the track.