Flying Pig 2.0 crashes, burns – no survivors



We all saw it coming, but frankly I’m amazed it took so long.

The news media have been circulating the usual clichés from insiders citing external factors such as ‘the current retail environment’. Bullshit. The fact of the matter is, Ferrit never had a viable business model and seemed hell-bent on throwing money at a problem that could only be solved with smarts and balls.

A wee word of advice to any cash-heavy corporates looking to speculate on the next Interweb bubble: if you don’t believe in your product, neither will anyone else.

The big three five

As many of you are no doubt aware, Monday after next I’ll be turning 35. Dave too – funny that. Anyhoo, I’ve thought about this a lot over the past few weeks, and must admit I’m surprised at how little I actually give a shit about this ‘milestone’ year in contrast to the previous ones…

I vividly remember the card my mother sent me on my 18th birthday, reminding me to be careful as I was now old enough to be tried as an adult. It felt like such a big deal to be legally an adult, despite the fact that, while I was now eligible to vote, marry, get drafted, go to prison, and enter into binding contracts, I wasn’t about to do any of those things. The drinking age was still 20, so I was still just a kid in the eyes of the only people that really mattered (bouncers). And in hindsight that’s all I really was – a kid.

I know turning 20 hasn’t been much of a big deal since that the drinking age was lowered to 18, but it was back then. I remember proudly presenting my driver’s license to a doorman at a club in Auckland, only to be refused entry because the licenses at the time showed the month but not day of birth. “Your birthday could be next week, ” he grinned, before waving me inside. I kept the “fuck you, door monkey” to myself on that occasion, partly due to my keen sense of self-preservation, but mostly because most of my mates were still underage. I was 20 now, and they couldn’t keep me out anymore (this was before they invented Spy Bar), but there was a definite sense of loss at the end of my teens. I was convinced for years that 19 was the coolest age I had ever been – best physical condition, least responsibility, most active socially… and then it was over. Twenty. Gotta grow up now, hey son? (Turns out that I didn’t – 20 was also the year that I got expelled from university, but that’s a story for another post).

Turning 21 was a big deal, but it is for everyone I suppose. For me it was the beginning of a big adventure, and a fantastic, chaotic chain of events that has added inestimable richness to my life. I moved to Queenstown and went snowboarding every single day for a whole season. I met a guy in a bar who offered me a job in Auckland, which lead me back to University, a first-class Master’s degree, and an amazing career. I have no idea what my life would be like now were it not for some of the choices I made at 21, and it’s both comforting and frightening to look back at how flippantly some of those decisions were made.

When I hit 30, the only big deal as far as I was concerned was that it seemed like such a big deal to everyone else. We had a big party (interesting way to find out that your Dad really knows how to handle a gun), but I distinctly remember the anticlimax when it dawned on me that the day after was exactly the same as the day before. I was officially into my fourth decade, but I didn’t feel any different. Ironically, this was the first of the ‘big years’ where I felt young and stupid but actually wasn’t. I have since reasoned that the yearning for my late teens that I felt in my early twenties is something akin to a veteran’s reminiscence of battle. Fuck that – I wouldn’t be that stupid again for all the tea in China! How in the hell I escaped death and/or imprisonment is beyond me.

So now, as I approach the big three five, I’m finding that I actually really like who I am, where I am, the choices I’ve made (even, and some might say especially, the bad ones) and what lies ahead. My one regret isn’t for myself and the lost opportunities of my youth (although I do agree that the indiscretions a man regrets most later in life tend to be the ones he failed to make when he had the chance), but for the many friends I’ve had over the years who never got the chance to grow old at all. I close my eyes and try to picture the face of an old school friend who died in a motorcycle accident when we were at university. On the one hand it’s disturbing how hard it’s getting to recall what he looked like. Was it that long ago? Could we really have been that close, if I’m forgetting him already? Will I fade from memory like this when I’m gone? On the other hand, the face I do remember is still just 21 years old, and that’s what bothers me the most – he should be 35 too!

So on the 19th of January all you young pups can feel free to point out the spare tyre I’ve grown, and kid me about the heat radiating from my cake (hint hint Simonne!). You can do all that and more, because I really don’t give a shit. I’ll be thinking about how grateful I am to have the opportunity to celebrate yet another milestone birthday, and toasting the memory of friends who weren’t so lucky.

Have yourselves a great weekend.

DP2009 Update

I’ve had a few late entries come in over the past few days, and in my infinite benevolence I’ve decided to keep the tote open until the end of January to cater for all you lucky buggers taking extended vacations. However, out of consideration for those who managed to get their picks in on time, I’m placing an additional restriction on latecomers:

From here on in, only new ponies will be accepted. If somebody else has already picked him or her, tough shit – you should have gotten in earlier

I’m actually considering applying a first-in-first-served, no duplicates rule for the entire pool in 2010. It hardly seems fair that people who get their picks in good and early have to share the points and glory with the vultures who come in late and seem to just grab the likeliest candidates from other people’s picks. Then again, is not a dead pool by its very nature all about rewarding vultures and carrion-like behavior? Leave it with me and we’ll thrash out a ruling over the year.

The judge has spoken. I AM THE LAW!

Google – great food, lousy coffee

A mate of mine who works as an aircraft engineer at Auckland airport tells me there was a privately-owned 767-200 parked there recently, by all accounts owned by Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin.

A lot of people – especially in the country that practically invented tall poppy syndrome – would heap scorn on such extravagance, arguing that they could save the planet (yeah right!) and countless starving children by flying coach and giving the savings to charity. Me, I think that without such impressive displays of what can be achieved through hard work and natural ability (ingenio et labore!), your average drone would be even more useless than they are now. Yet another reason why I can’t stand lefties – to really excell people need incentives beyond forced or fake altruism. If you don’t like Sergei and Larry living the way they do, build a better search engine and reinvent the advertising industry. I’m sure you’ll find it harder to decry such opulence when it’s your own.

Anyhoo, I like Google and find many of their products to be indespensible, personally and professionally. I even took a couple of days out of the office last month to get certified as a Google Advertising Professional. I enjoyed the training, aced the exam, and even went so far as to drink the instructors under the table at the drinkies that followed (education is, after all, a lifelong commitment). As I nursed my aching head the following morning I could quite honestly tell you that Google is a company that does nothing by halves.

And then today I get this tacky piece of crap in the mail…

Yup, that’s class. One hundred percent. Think I’ll hang it in the den, next to my Master’s degree.

One thing I learned during my near-decade in the hospitality industry is the importance of coffee. It’s the last thing your guests are served before they leave your establishment, so it’d better be good if you want them to return. Trust me on this – great coffee after a lousy meal can win back a disappointed customer, and the opposite is also true.

Rather than reminding me of what I achieved and the great experience I had with the trainers, this tacky piece of home-made laminated crap just makes me cringe. Am I being melodramatic? Possibly. Am I overreacting? I think not, and here’s why.

I was personally invited to attend the Google training. I received personal emails from our account manager confirming my place and reminding me of dates and locations. I was greeted and called on by name during the training, and entertained afterward as though by friends. My experience with Google was very much a personal, enjoyable one – hardly what you would expect from one of the world’s largest tech companies. And then they remind me that I’m just a number, one of countless thousands they engage with on a similar level every single day.

I don’t want to appear ungrateful. The training cost me nothing and was very rewarding. I still have the utmost respect for Google, and admire the Googlers I’ve had dealings with. I just couldn’t let this slide. If anyone from Google reads this, I’d like to suggest you either get the certificates done properly or do away with them altogether. This half-assed stuff really is beneath you. To everyone else, let this be a reminder…

No matter what industry you’re working in, never underestimate the importance of serving great coffee