Archive for November, 2010

Dealing with tragedy

Making sense of any tragic situation in life can be extremely difficult, especially at the time of the tragedy and particularly by the victims and/or their loved ones.

The Pike River coal mine disaster that has reportedly consumed 29 hard-working, brave and daring miners – all part of a close-knit West Coast community, is one such tragedy that New Zealand as a nation is struggling to come to terms with.

The mine, a $300 million-plus investment, has been a viable source of income for the people living in the area, providing direct employment to more than 150 people and secondary benefits to the local and national economy.

On the flip side, every such operation involves risks and dangers as part of everyday activity, and people in the job are well aware of it too. It’s very important for the companies and people associated with these activities to follow strict set of safety guidelines on a regular basis, but certain results cannot be controlled by humans, especially when dealing (or shall we say ‘messing’) with nature.

Our thought process can get clouded and visions foggy when dealing with such tragedies in life, as usually they come out of nowhere and catch us unawares.

Robert Francis Kennedy said, “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.”

And rightly so! Risks and dangers get attached to any life-form the moment it’s born.

The human spirit has immense fortitude and strength – the best we can do is live life to the full, while remaining mentally prepared for any eventuality. Life teaches us valuable lessons all the time, if we are prepared to learn!


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‘Cycle’ of challenges

It’s obviously a very saddening and tragic phase when five cyclists lose their lives on our roads in as many days.

On one hand it maybe just a co-incidence that it happened that way, but on the other hand, even a single such tragedy is highly unfortunate as it’s usually preventable.

Every time there are such incidents (actually accidents), a debate rages on the rights and duties of cyclists and drivers of other (bigger) vehicles. But no considerable lessons seem to have been learnt.

Apart from any other lessons, the most important thing to remember for everyone is awareness of the rules.

A few pointers for cyclists (NZTA website):

1. You may use a bus lane, as long as there isn’t a sign forbidding this.

2. If you’re riding with other cyclists, don’t ride more than two abreast. Ride in single file when you’re passing other vehicles – including parked vehicles, or when you’re impeding traffic behind you.

3. Use a clear arm signal if you intend to turn, reduce your speed or stop.

4. At intersections, you must follow the same road rules as motor vehicles, or get off your cycle and walk across.

Then there are rules around the roadworthiness of cycles, equipment for cyclists and most importantly courtesy on the road. It says:

“Be considerate to other road users. If the road is narrow, check that you are not slowing the traffic flow, and let motor vehicles pass as soon as it’s safe.”

It’s apparent that drivers of other vehicles (cars/buses) usually travel faster than cyclists and therefore have less time to react to hazards. Also, sometimes cyclists’ behaviour can unsettle drivers, such as when cyclists appear hesitant or change direction suddenly.

The drivers of bigger vehicles have equal responsibilities when it comes to maintaining the dignity of traffic rules. Let’s not forget here we’re all those ‘other’ drivers at times and ‘cyclists’ at other times.

Considering so many cyclists share the roads with other vehicles, has any thought ever been given to training for cyclists (in other words ‘licensing’ process) to make sure the cyclists are not ignorant of road codes? Would it not be beneficial for everyone if cyclists become ‘adept cyclists’ before they hit the road?!

ps: Your invaluable feedback on this sensitive issue will be much appreciated.

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As soon as the term ‘networking’ is mentioned, you conjure up different images in your mind, depending on your background. The term can be used for a variety of situations – social, business, electrical, computers, electronics or even mathematical networking!

For the purpose of this post, we will talk about business networking only. To a certain extent though, business networking in these times also involves social networking.

Networking in business and for business is a skill that can be learned and practiced while being in business or even before starting a business. And if you’re a ‘networking nerd’, you can master it to a fine art.

The simplest way to start is to keep it simple and uncomplicated!

1. Research and narrow down on the business networking organisations/events in your city compatible to your business and suitable to your style and passion.

2. Before attending an event, be sure of the agenda in advance. Obtain all the information about the details of the event including start and end times, number and the kind of businesses attending and whether refreshments will be served.

3. Adhere to the dress code for the event, if specified, as it’s very important to present yourself professionally, even if it’s business casual.

4. Be prepared to give out your business cards at the event – it’s the most cost effective way to get your name out there.

5. Don’t forget to ask for others’ business cards.

6. Spread the word about your services and project yourself as being resourceful and helpful – every business always looks for people who can contribute to their professional growth.

7. After every such event, make sure you update your records with the new contacts and stay in touch with them.

Networking for your business is a slow process of relationship building that can open you up to a whole new world and change your business and social perspective, providing a mutually beneficial opportunity for the parties involved.

ps: Please share your networking experiences – good or bad – and the lessons you have learnt from them.

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Fire(works) on sale!

It’s that time of the year again – Guy Fawkes day, fireworks, fire safety warnings, fires, pollution, damages, injuries, more discussions and debates, and then back to business as usual!

For the uninitiated, the day or actually the Guy Fawkes night, is an annual celebration held to mark the failed ‘Gunpowder Plot’ of 5 November 1605 in Great Britain. It has gradually, and over the years, become an occasion for people to display or indulge in fireworks for (purely) entertainment purposes.

Ironically the foiled attempt by conspirators to set off fireworks is celebrated by setting off fireworks!

Every year the quantity and intensity of fireworks seems to keep increasing. Have you noticed this year ‘Fireworks on sale’ signs going up in commercial areas, around supermarkets, shops, and around every possible site on the streets? Not surprising, considering the quantity of fireworks imported into the country has doubled this year (reportedly around a thousand tonnes!)

All these shipments of chemicals, even though low explosive nature, gets transformed into hazardous smoke, containing residues of heavy metals, sulfur-coal compounds and some low concentration toxic chemicals, and gets immersed into the environment over a period of a few days.

So much for our clean, green image; not to mention the resulting expense to the economy of the clean up, damage to properties, injuries and the long term health effects!

In Australia, Guy Fawkes Night has not been celebrated since the late 1970s, when to prevent misuse and personal injuries the sale and public use of fireworks was banned in most states and territories. Do we not want to emulate our trans-Tasman neighbours on this?

Fireworks do possess an entertainment value – the thrill and fun of watching a pyrotechnic display can be undoubtedly quite an exhilarating experience. But is it worthwhile if the costs and consequences outweigh the pleasure?

Controlled fireworks displays offer a much safer and more enjoyable option for everyone – adults and kids alike, while being less taxing on our environment, economy, our four-legged friends and the Fire Service!

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