Sunday, December 29, 2013

Snap! The trap just shut on haughtiness.

Wow. It's amazing. This is not deliberate but sometimes I bring out the true colours in some people.

It's over twenty years ago that I found that when I play the fool it gives most people a sense of freedom to be their true selves. Now that's fine if their true self is closely aligned to the face they show the world, but my game often brings people a cropper. It shouldn't surprise me, but it does.

The first time it really happened was when a mild mannered young teacher friend of my wife offered some blistering condescension as we were carpooling one day - about 1989. It happened very recently when a friend's wife - in an extremely stressful situation - stated "well I'd hate to live in your house".

I perhaps shouldn't have been playing the fool however my friend was in the game with me, and his wife hurt me deeply. As well as showing her true colours. Life goes on but it has reminded me - if a person behaves the fool then they may not be a fool and that people have three faces:

The face they show to the world
The face they show their closest and most trusted
The face deep inside that often they don't even know exists

And often your comments say more about you than they do about me.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Australia's demographic storm means at least I won't be unemployed

I know. It's been talked to death. But I've been waiting for 20 years for the baby boomers to retire and free up a few jobs. It was odd when a young guy called Ryan Heath squealed "Please just fuck off: it's our turn now" at baby boomers and Gen Xers.

I must say as a Gen Xer I don't feel as though it's been too easy here, and I suppose plenty of baby boomers feel the same. The period has racked up a huge debt, however. Our first Boomer PM is archetypal; he inherited zero debt and a budget surplus but his legacy is a $300 billion debt, six deficits and a mountain of unfunded legislative commitments.

But - death and taxes - age catches up with us. And while many people deferred a retirement when their funds were routed in the GFC, they can't keep working forever - bless em.

So, like Yossarian in Catch-22, I find myself chasing a retirement age that keeps going up. Fear not - I'm not chasing that hard. As with a tenured job in academia it just won't happen for me, and I've made my peace with that. But in 2023 the retirement age goes up to 67; it will go to 70 in 2035, just as I turn 67. Ha!

The superannuation salesmen were right when they said "there'll be no pension when you're ready to retire" - no shit, Sherlock. But I never have been that interested in living off the government. I wish the millions of people who plan to retire before me felt the same, but many have not been blessed as I have. I've been blessed with a stable upbringing, good education plus a life partner (and extended family) that brings out the best in me.

But the upside in the demographic storm for me - there should be some work around. God knows what. Perhaps I'll just jump tandem skydives for all those retirees spending their pensions. More likely I'll be digging ditches somewhere, or doing people's gardens. But the demographic storm will mean there will be fewer arms and legs out there to do whatever work needs to be done.

That means I can work, so I can pay tax, so the government can pay people's pensions. And they can pay me to do their gardens. Perfect symmetry.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

You can't cheat Singapore rain

I've tried and it's just not worth it. Most Australian rain you can tough it out. Try to pretend you're not wet. But Singapore and HK forget it.

The only time it worked for me was in New Guinea walking Kokoda. Put your wet clothes on at 5am, walk until 2pm and make camp. Not so much cheating the rain as giving in to it.

Not so bad.

A letter of complaint to Yellow Cabs

I'm sure it's a hard job driving a taxi and running a taxi fleet. I'll bring this point to your attention.

I'm at ... Evandale

As I sat in the heat waiting for a taxi, a second call indicated to me that my driver had accepted the call from prospect road. The call had been accepted in less than ten seconds

The reason I was kept waiting was because "" had been caught in traffic. Little surprise, there are quite a few roads between Prospect and Evandale. Unfortunately many drivers a little slower with their fingers may have been closer, such as Norwood, St Peters or Marden and I would have received better service.

It was a quiet time of the day for taxis. I suspect this driver was working in his own self interest and your customer (me in this case) was being served poorly as a result. I won't be late for my flight, but this is unhelpful.

I would be interested to know if your company has a policy regarding drivers accepting jobs to the detriment of the customer, and I'd like to know if the owner of licensed plate number will be made aware of this.

Sincerely

Cullen Habel

I'll let you know the outcome.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


UPDATE
A very rapid answer, and hour and a half later which basically said "we hear you and we'll take it from here". At least she answered, I suppose:


Thank you for getting in touch with us.

I understand that the situation has been very frustrating for you and I sincerely apologize. We truly appreciate your effort in taking the time to send us your feedback. Rest assured that it has been forwarded to our Management Team, who will use it as an opportunity to offer you better service in future.

Any action taken will be handled internally, and while you will not receive any information regarding the outcome, I can assure you that the matter will be dealt with appropriately. I sincerely hope that you will allow us an opportunity to offer you better service in the future and turn this negative experience around.

Once again, our sincere apologies for the inconvenience and thank you so much for your patience and understanding.

If you have any further concerns, just let us know - we’re here to help.


Regards,

UPDATE
My response:

Thanks for your very rapid answer. It has done little to assure me that Yellow Cabs has really taken this on board. No matter - I have just set a personal policy to call Suburban if I'm at home, and if I'm on a rank where Yellow turns up I'll go to the back of the line. I'd had a bad experience with a driver and a Cabcharge a year ago - with Yellow - and I get the feeling this is more about the company than it is about coincidence. And you now have the technology - in particular to monitor whether or not drivers are accepting calls outside of their location.


Best Regards

Cullen

 




Monday, November 25, 2013

I now know what [sic] stands for

Having seen [sic] in various places for many years I surmised that it was used when quoting somebody, and repeating even their errors, but showing that you know they're wrong.

As with Hendo last week quoting Robert Manne:

"It was positioned between the once communist Labour [sic] Club and the fiercely anti-communist and curiously named ALP Club…."

And the word? Latin for "thus".

But it could just as easily be short for "Self Important Correction"


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Core benefit and ultra low cost: always an option

When I saw Mark Hassell (Chief Customer Officer Virgin Australia) in September, his story of the evolution of Virgin served as a case study in the "Total Product Concept".

Source: Kotler, P. And Keller, K. L. (2012) Framework for Marketing Management, 5th edition, Pearson, New Jersey. ISBN 978-0-273-75251-6  

While it has been in the first few slides of any Intro to Marketing course I've taught it's nice to have a real life example. I've always spoken of airlines but for last month's MBA course I was able to let Mark tell the story.



Deregulation and a low cost entry point
When Richard Branston launched Virgin Blue in the early 90s a famous line was "we won't give you an airline meal you don't want, we'll just give you the very best price". Until 1990, full service carriers were the only option to fly. If we look at the "Levels of Product" diagram at the top, they kept adding new things - inflight meals, lounges, movies - and these were all at the "augmented" level. Before the 1990s this worked pretty well in a regulated market.

But as Mark said, the low cost carriers (eg Ryanair) in Europe set the scene for a cut price carrier. The mystiqu of air travel was waning and consumers began to think in terms of "getting from A to B". Enter Virgin (v1) with a product stripped down to the core benefit (time efficient transport) as an entry point.

Fair enough, there was a basic product in terms of seating/reservations and an expected product (safety) but all of those expensive product augmentations were left to the existing full fare carriers.

Sure, at the time Virgin wasn't the only attacker at the low price end - "Impulse" was a name that got around - but their message was clear and well made. Have a look at the video above at the 6.50 mark. The "cheeky low cost carrier" suited Sir Richard's personality well.

Next: When being drawn into product augmentation raises your costs. Time to do some hard thinking.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Counting stars

Some crazy imagery but yet another song that taps into existential angst..

I ..... feel something so wrong, doing the right thing
 and I ...... feel something so right, doing the wrong thing

and lately I've been, I've been praying hard,
said no more counting dollars we'll be, we'll be counting stars...

and the scary, dangerous reality:

"everything that kills me makes me feel alive"

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/hT_nvWreIhg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

I suppose the trick is to to die at it.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Paul McCartney: Very strong

A nice new song. "Do some good before you say goodbye".



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Honesty in lending - nice

Now I have - in the past - had the odd rant about moneychanging and money lending. Especially moneychanging. I love the story of Jesus cracking the shits and throwing the tables over in the temple. What a guy.

But credit is a useful thing. And grown adults should be allowed to do what they want. Ethical businesses who can make money off it, should be allowed to. Christians gave up their ban on usuary a long time ago and Islamic banking is emerging as a clever way to let people use money they don't yet have, and let them give back to their lender somehow.

So an ethical lender lets people make informed decisions. I was delighted to read my credit card bill today. I've let it run out to a couple of thousand dollars. And they added this helpful note.

Essentially:

" you can pay the minimum monthly repayment but at this rate it'll take you nine years and cost you almost $2000 in interest. If you double that payment it'll be fixed intwo years and you'll save $1500."

All credit to Woolworths Everyday Money. It costs them almost nothing (most people ignore these things) but they've done the right thing. Five paws.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Anything but independent

I like to think I'm fiercely independent. I'm walking out of RAH after a major pelvic fracture, I'm maintained my marking responsibilities for a certain employer, managed to hold together a course that I was supposed to run in Singapore tomorrow.


Truth be known, if I walk tall it's all due to family and friends. I have dozens of people I can call if I need to. And it gives me the luxury of the illusion of independence.

  • My kids will never go hungry or uncared for, because of my in-laws and brother/sister/mother. Bless that.
  • My personal need for friendship will never go unfulfilled thanks to my nuclear family.
  • My insane need for freedom and fun has hundreds of people who "get it" from within skydiving.
  • My voracious appetite to learn is always satisfied with students that I meet, teach, research and keep in touch with.
  • My wife just keeps coping with me and without trying to, makes me a better person.

So if my demeanor seems to say "I don't need you" it's signalling entirely wrong. It should read "fuck I need you all, let's just not dwell on it". And I will forever be in your debt for allowing me to keep it low key. Here are some of my cloaked methods of asking for help and some friends' responses from the last week:

Monday, SMS to Sylvia from Murray Bridge Hospital:
"Hey please contact me when convenient to you. I've got a bit of an injury. All fine but it involves hospitals."

Fri SMS from Jason (skydiving) to me:
"Hey mate. You ring me anytime. Shit happens and skydiving isn't everything. YOU'RE STILL ALIVE!!! and that's all that matters. I mean it dude you ring me! I'll come and see ya tomorrow OK! You can't stop me. Love ya knob head"

He's the guy who's been saying for nine months now "don't bury yourself! I just got you back"

I responded:
"wanna come around sometime today? Tas is welcome too but otherwise it's nobody else but Sylv or the kids. You're my bestie."

Friday phone message to Marziah at work:
"Hi it's taken a while for me to get this all together but can we talk soon about next week's Singapore deal? It's gonna get messy and I hope we can start on this early before it gets really critical on Tuesday"

If I walk tall it's because I know I go with the friendship of dozens of people, all of who will be there, get there, or get the problem fixed. I just have to ask.

When I do ask, you'll be reminded that you are the fuel in my tank.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dirty Boulevard: A strange story of hope

Almost all songs I can strum out a few chords and sing it so I don't embarrass myself. Impossible with this song. For such a simple 3 chord arrangement you'd think it easy, but this guy oozes cool. Impossible to copy.

My childhood was great, but I instantly felt something for Pedro

"He's got nine brothers and and sisters, they're brought up on their knees it's hard to run when a coat hanger beats you on the thighs"

The whole song drawls out an odd poetry, with a strange sense of hope. It resonated with me at a time where I came across an obscure mathematical model and someone I thought could work with me to unlock its real potential in marketing. The model had so much more to offer.

I at least got a PhD out of it, but for a while there I felt like Pedro:

And back at the Wilshire, Pedro sits there dreaming
he's found a book on magic in a garbage can
He looks at the pictures and stares at the cracked ceiling
"At the count of 3" he says, "I hope I can disappear"

And fly fly away, from this dirty boulevard


The studio version, above, has Lou Reed being too cool for school. The one below has him singing a little. Both very, very good. Lou Reed is dead now.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Confidence - real confidence - is rare

I'm missing a friend's 40th birthday today. My own stupid fault. I don't have to mention her personally here, she'll know who I'm talking about.

It gives me the chance to think how much I love to see real confidence - and how rarely I do. And it gives me the chance to feed this blog. Never hurts.

I don't think this friend of mine is always right - and I'm sure it's mutual. But plenty, plenty of common ground. She truly is a cool chick because she knows what she believes, says what she believes needs to be said and having said it, is happy. "I can only put it there". She's not on a mission to change people to her way, unless it's part of a job she's been given etc.

She's a vegetarian. Has been for all the time I've known her. She cooks meat for other people when she cooks, it's just not her thing. I've seen a different, younger, cool vegetarian chick do a similar thing recently. When quizzed that this may be a little odd, my friend has retorted:

"What? I don't eat meat. That doesn't define me. I can be a vegeratian but go out an kill a cow just for fun if I want. What business is it of yours?"

I contrast that to two instances where I've dined at vegetarian people's places before where the choice of fare was never in question. As if bending others to their own will was a validation of their choices.

There are a lot of people I'm proud to know, and this one has shown me the meaning of true confidence. Thanks Katie.

Beatles: looking through you

If timelessness is a sign of brilliance then this (being as fresh as it must have been 58 years ago) really helps the Beatles stand out.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, October 21, 2013

How to make money being a content provider in "a sea of free"

Amanda Plummer is inspiring.

Her answer seems to be

"Have an honest good heart, allow yourself to be vulnerable, and master your fear and self doubt"

Friday, October 18, 2013

Self doubt doesn't mean you're inadequate

Honesty is a virtue.

BRITISH actor Bill Nighy is one of us - like Emma Watson, Tony Abbott and probably you. Me, too.

Nighy, languid star of Love Actually, told the Sydney Morning Herald this week it took years before he considered himself a real actor.


Surely we've all been there.

"Any moment, someone's going to find out I'm a total fraud and that I don't deserve any of what I've achieved."

and

That honesty is a virtue. We tend to suffer more from real impostors - people like Kevin Rudd who think they're better than they are.

For the honest, the cure to "impostor syndrome" is simple. Don't love yourself more. Work yourself harder. Learn.


It's the being honest with oneself that spurs us on to be even better. Even if maybe we can't see it when we get there.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pink: Me and Bobby McGee

I first ever heard this song from Charley Pride, and it was cool. Later blown away by the roar of Janice Joplin and I just wandered across Pink! doing it. Pretty nice.
Better than nice. That finish was inspiring.

UPDATE: The character "Bobby McGee" was probably a woman, originally. Kris Kristofferson wrote the song and as I said, I first heard it from Charley Pride. I love the thought of a free spirited woman that breezed in and out of the male singer's life.

Leatherbound: Always be able to put the lid on your life

For those recent readers, the "leatherbound" posts are from when my wife gave me a blank book about 20 years ago and I used it to write letters to my - as then - unborn children.

This was from August 1996. And the last quote is:

"at the end of every day you should be able to say 'I am at peace; there are some things I didn't get around to doing but in the time I've had - I am content'"


Friday, October 11, 2013

When to say "yes"




I'm approaching two years since I haven't been an employee. I've had plenty of work, and the money has flowed well enough, but living on "billable hours" has helped me gain a clarity regarding the activities I do. It helps me know when to say "no". I've found there are three ways to see an activity and I think of these are tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3.

Tier 1: I get paid for it
Simple. Billable hours. Sometimes it's $35, sometimes five times that much. I'm not afraid of putting in hours, so even $35 is ok. It keeps food on the table.

Tier 2: it may lead to me getting paid for something
One of my current best income streams at the moment had a lot of this. They weren't even trying to abuse my goodwill. They were just dithering as they took their time bringing me into the fold. Plenty of tier 1 work from them now, though.

Tier 3: I like to do it
Having a glass of wine with some friends on a Friday night, sitting on a committee for a sports club or a board of my kid's school, coaching his footy team, supervision of two great PhD students. I like to do it.

Note I have left out tier 4. Duty and obligation. Without an employer there are no soul crushing meetings or mind numbing paperwork, under the guise of "it's part of your job". Tier 4 activities are reserved for family and closest friends, and I get to choose who I feel that sense of duty towards.

There are too many who don't recognise it and abuse it.
So, my saying 'yes' to your request means it has ticked one of the three boxes above. I find one of the challenges is how much tier 2 work to do. There are some who will simply take, take, take and the reality of tier 1 never comes about. Beware the takers.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Greeting with an "urgh"

From second season of Veep, hilarious how Jonah gets greeted with an "urgh". I've seen that.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Noooooooooo! Eating McDonald's in Singapore

Now, don't get me wrong. I live Maccas. To a fault. But when im in remote locations I hate defaulting to McDonalds. Legend has it that the global success of Maccas is due to nervous westerners who go to exotic locations and dont wish to be - well - too exotic.

I suspect that's bullshit. The Maccas here in Liang Court, Singapore,  is full of local.  As it wad in Bordeaux,  France and Hong Kong and everywhere else. I think McDonalds just know how to deliver the best mix of standardisation and adaptated product.

But I may have to relent. I love the look of the Samurai Burger. Mmm, burger.

My "beer related" story on sampling.

Teaching "sampling" here in a market research course in Singapore. Why don't we run a census? First it costs too much. Second if you need to destroy what it is you're testing, youve got nothing left to sell.

Take a look at these Guiness cans. It would make sense to test these for bacterial infection before thsy get sent out of the plant. How? Open a can and run a bug test. So, how many cans to open so we can be confident in our result and sell the rest?
It was questions like these that led to the (very recent) discipline of inferential statistics.

Mmmmm. Guinness.

Pink: Cuz I can

I love her. I was having a dinner last night and this song happened across my playlist.

As an "in your face" hedonistic scream it's just great. Why can't a woman be as tear ass as a man? I think this was off a breakup.

But it's alright, I don't give a damn,
I don't play your rules I make my own.
Tonight, I do what I want,
Cuz I can...

Good on her. We might not get along if we met, but I have plenty of people that I like certain things about and leave it there.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A conservative senate: dithering voters you got what you asked for

A month or so before the election I stated that the enemy of a strong Australia was not either of the major parties, but indecision. I urged voters to be positive in their decisions, both in the lower house and in the senate. I said "Australia Decides: Let's hope so" - and through its dithering, Australia did decide. I just don't think it knew what it was doing.

This "vote splitting" that Australians are so fond of has delivered a conservative senate come July. By dithering over our votes in the senate, complicated preference deals have delivered an interesting bloc of votes in our upper house - a bloc that is likely to favour Tony Abbott.

AN "informal" voting bloc of conservative senators may be in place next July, with Family First's likely senator-elect saying the new batch of micro- and minor-party politicians share the same views on a lot of policies.
Family First chairman Bob Day, ranked fifth of six South Australian Senate candidates with less than 10 per cent of the vote left to count, also said he would oppose Tony Abbott's direct action plan and cause headaches for the passage of his paid parental leave scheme if he becomes a senator.
He said yesterday he was impressed by other likely senators from the Australian Sports Party, the Motoring Enthusiast Party, Palmer United Party and the Liberal Democratic Party.
If elected, he said, they would probably vote the same way and support most Coalition policies. "When you get representatives of everyday Australians, like the motorists' guy and the sports guy and the LDP guy and (Clive) Palmer - these all seem like sensible, everyday kind of Australians who are conservative."
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/abbotts-friend-vows-some-fights/story-fn59niix-1226724745371#sthash.B9lD74ms.UzoOrc1U.dpuf
AN “informal” voting bloc of conservative senators may be in place next July, with Family First’s likely senator-elect saying the new batch of micro- and minor-party politicians share the same views on a lot of policies. 

Family First chairman Bob Day, ranked fifth of six South Australian Senate candidates with less than 10 per cent of the vote left to count, ... said yesterday he was impressed by other likely senators from the Australian Sports Party, the Motoring Enthusiast Party, Palmer United Party and the Liberal Democratic Party.

If elected, he said, they would probably vote the same way and support most Coalition policies. “....[These] all seem like sensible, everyday kind of Australians who are conservative.” 

 
We can't call this a conservative plot - randomness and small party gaming made it happen. But in all, Aussie voters chose this. The list of voting approaches from most sensible to dumbest was this:
  • Vote above the line in the senate for your preferred major party
  • Vote below the line in the senate for your real alternative (eg Xenophon), followed closely by your preferred major party, then all the rabble afterwards
  • Vote above the line for one of the rabble (dumbest)
A person I like and respect voted above the line for the Sex party. That's the picture.

Come July, Abbott will essentially have control of both houses. Because Australia chose it to be that way.

AN "informal" voting bloc of conservative senators may be in place next July, with Family First's likely senator-elect saying the new batch of micro- and minor-party politicians share the same views on a lot of policies.
Family First chairman Bob Day, ranked fifth of six South Australian Senate candidates with less than 10 per cent of the vote left to count, also said he would oppose Tony Abbott's direct action plan and cause headaches for the passage of his paid parental leave scheme if he becomes a senator.
He said yesterday he was impressed by other likely senators from the Australian Sports Party, the Motoring Enthusiast Party, Palmer United Party and the Liberal Democratic Party.
If elected, he said, they would probably vote the same way and support most Coalition policies. "When you get representatives of everyday Australians, like the motorists' guy and the sports guy and the LDP guy and (Clive) Palmer - these all seem like sensible, everyday kind of Australians who are conservative."
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/abbotts-friend-vows-some-fights/story-fn59niix-1226724745371#sthash.B9lD74ms.UzoOrc1U.dpuf
AN "informal" voting bloc of conservative senators may be in place next July, with Family First's likely senator-elect saying the new batch of micro- and minor-party politicians share the same views on a lot of policies.
Family First chairman Bob Day, ranked fifth of six South Australian Senate candidates with less than 10 per cent of the vote left to count, also said he would oppose Tony Abbott's direct action plan and cause headaches for the passage of his paid parental leave scheme if he becomes a senator.
He said yesterday he was impressed by other likely senators from the Australian Sports Party, the Motoring Enthusiast Party, Palmer United Party and the Liberal Democratic Party.
If elected, he said, they would probably vote the same way and support most Coalition policies. "When you get representatives of everyday Australians, like the motorists' guy and the sports guy and the LDP guy and (Clive) Palmer - these all seem like sensible, everyday kind of Australians who are conservative."
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/abbotts-friend-vows-some-fights/story-fn59niix-1226724745371#sthash.B9lD74ms.UzoOrc1U.dpuf
AN "informal" voting bloc of conservative senators may be in place next July, with Family First's likely senator-elect saying the new batch of micro- and minor-party politicians share the same views on a lot of policies.
Family First chairman Bob Day, ranked fifth of six South Australian Senate candidates with less than 10 per cent of the vote left to count, also said he would oppose Tony Abbott's direct action plan and cause headaches for the passage of his paid parental leave scheme if he becomes a senator.
He said yesterday he was impressed by other likely senators from the Australian Sports Party, the Motoring Enthusiast Party, Palmer United Party and the Liberal Democratic Party.
If elected, he said, they would probably vote the same way and support most Coalition policies. "When you get representatives of everyday Australians, like the motorists' guy and the sports guy and the LDP guy and (Clive) Palmer - these all seem like sensible, everyday kind of Australians who are conservative."
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/abbotts-friend-vows-some-fights/story-fn59niix-1226724745371#sthash.B9lD74ms.UzoOrc1U.dpuf

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A quick "search and destroy" shopping trip to Orchard Road

I don't like rambling and I don't like being lost. I like to buy some gifts for my inner family when I'm here in Singapore and Orchard Road is a good kill zone for the things they like.
So after I got 30% of my marking done I jumped in a taxi and got him to spit me out at the back of Takashimaya, went straight downstairs to get Sylv's l'Occitane stuff, underpass to Lucky Plaza to buy some Giordano t-shirts for the older kids. Yeh Okay some for me too.

I'll just get to OG at Rochor to grab Jonah's Giordano kids stuff then just to buy interesting food over the next few days. But instead of a rambling aimless shopping "experience" tonight was a search and destroy. Just how I like it.

Back to a bar in Clarke Quay by 9.10 to have a beer with the Formula One on a screen. Not that the F1 is such a draw for me but mmmm beer. Oh. Then get into the supermarket just as they were shutting so I could get some supplies.

Job done.

I'm a workin' man in my prime, cleaning windows.

A lovely song about a guy who has a passion, and lives for it. "cleaning windows" is a metaphor for doing what you love to do as a priority, and being content with a simple life in other ways.


It's interesting that my first "A" journal paper went into hardcopy this month. I'm happy to leave all that anxiety behind - "where's my next publication coming from?". I'm still having fun doing the things an academic does - teaching, research, supervising students - but as I don't care much for an academic career I can just enjoy those things for what they are. A fun way to earn a living, for now. I'll leave others to the slippery pole.

Meanwhile my latest passion - skydiving and skydive instructing - can just run away with me.

Singapore: I'm a little tired now

From last night, Friday 10pm. After teaching I rounded all my old haunts:

From Clarke Quay to
Plaza Singapura to
Little India (& Tekka centre) to
Sim Lim Square to
Albert food court to
Bugis street to
Bugis Village to
Clarke Quay MRT to
bed

I'm a little tired but nice to get back to my Singapore.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Walter White: It started with a need for control

I will talk about the brilliant Breaking Bad. But there will be no need for a spoiler alert. Any description of the show refers to the show as "Walter Mitty's descent into Scarface" - high school chemistry teacher who turns his brilliance into cooking meth and didn't know the path he would start on.

About 30 years ago I was faced with a choice to stay legal or stray. My decision was purely pragmatic - I didn't like the idea of one day answering the door to a shotgun in the face. These days my choice may be a little more about ethics. But then I wasn't presented with the challenges that Walter White was.


He was a beaten shell of a man at the start of the series, but with his cancer diagnosis he lost all control and it got even worse. Everybody closed in and dominated him. His poor health insurance had him in a corner. His wife was booking $90,000 specialists, (lovely) brother in law saying he'd take care of his family, soured business partner insisting to pay for treatment. All from love, but disempowering.

His major driver in season 1 was a need for control, with a little need for recognition. And thus started Walt's journey. I just watched it in s01e05 at the 36minute mark:

"All I have left is how I choose to approach this... These doctors, talking about surviving. One year, two years. Like it's the only thing that matters. But what good is it to just survive if I am too sick to work, to enjoy a meal, to make love? For what time I have left I wanna live in my own house, I wanna sleep in my own bed. I don't wanna choke down 30 or 40 pills every single day, lose my hair and lie around too tired to get up, and so nauseated that I can't even move my head. You, cleaning up after me; me some dead man, artificially alive, just marking time. And that's how you would remember me...

I choose not to do it"


But he found a way to do it. Heisenberg was born.


A transition point was when Walt tells his young partner "so why don't you sell the whole pound at once?" to which he got "to who? What do I look like, Scarface?"


It reminds me of a good 1993 film called "Falling Down" where Michael Douglas plays a "mini man" who looks like he has found his self esteem, standing up for the small guy. Until you find he's unhinged in the worst way.



My wife would be repulsed by much of what's in BB. She's a good person. But I will urge her to watch S01 - it's only seven eps. Sylvia teaches what used to be called "control theory" - that people are driven to control their life in terms of freedom, fun and two other main drivers. I hope she will watch at least the five minutes of s01e05. But the whole season tells the story.

And I thank Vince Gilligan for putting up such a searing opportunity for self reflection.

And a big takeout - I thank God I live in Australia. Our health system is not the US.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

God said no.

Why did God say no? Because he knows that everything happens in a context.

A quirky song written by a person called Dan Bern. I've often wondered "what would I say if I met Jesus?". Well this song talks through a guy who meets God and asks three times if God can send him back in time - to save Kurt Cobain, Kill Hitler and rescue Jesus.

At each request, God says "no you'll just caught caught up in the shit of the time" making one of the true points - that all we have is the moment.




There are plenty of versions on the web, but this one done by a guy called "Soursob Bob" at this year's fringe in great. It takes a while to get started so scroll up about 50 seconds.



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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Hinkley: A coach I like the look of

Anyone who knows me knows that I follow coaches more than teams. Especially in the AFL.

Years ago I was inspired by Mick Malthouse. Earlier, Malcolm Blight impressed me even before he won those two premierships with the crows.

Locally,  quietly spoken uber success Roy Laird is great out at Centrals and Nathan Bassett is great at Norwood, although I'm guilty of bias there.

It takes a special person to manage club politics at the back end and meet every member of a testosterone fueled playing group - at their own level. Wherever I see it - football,  netball,  stories of combat - I get all teary and emotional.

So, last week's victory by the power served me twice. Knocking Collingwood out - I will never forgive what they did to Malthouse - and introducing me to Ken Hinkley.

Humble, professional,  successful. And an ex Cat. What's not to like? Oh I suppose there's the Port Adelaide thing. But then, I follow coaches, not teams.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Qantas club augmented product

I'll punch out a blog soon, but my buddy who works in mining - I think - had a "service to delight" experience recently.



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Monday, September 9, 2013

Labor are now where they are happiest

I had an uncle who supported Labor but thought they were better suited as a party of dissent. The challengers.

So I saw two days before the election, a socially progressive person write this piece:

But when I think of an Abbott victory, I think the following:

Good.


That's interesting. Certainly enough for me to click through to it from Facebook.

[if you're a normal person under Abbott rule] you’re going be getting angrier and angrier.

And that’s what’s good. That’s what we need.


Labor lose a little part of their soul whenever they follow the "whatever it takes" rule. I liked Paul Keating but he was hardly a lefty. And Labor did trade some of its values as they did whatever it took. All argued as being for the greater good.

And that is why I look at the forthcoming Abbott government as an emetic: it will make us feel incredibly sick, absolutely, but that’s how we vomit the poison out.

Your comrade,

Andrew P Street


So perhaps now the Labor party may have some spiritual peace. Labor have done some great things in the 30 years I've been paying attention to politics. It's fair to say they need to rebuild as a team - and really have needed to rebuild since they got hamstrung with that crappy minority government in 2010.

As a party of dissent their best chance for rebuilding well is from opposition under a sensible, mature leader. I'd choose Albo or Crean.

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Friday, September 6, 2013

A whole new media game

For all the media blackout, these ads still come through. So the ban on "electronic media" is based on the old media - TV and (I think) radio.