Monday, October 16, 2017

If you don't give up on me then I won't give up on you

There are few instances in my life where I have not played the game this way. I am not in a habit of giving up. When I detach from a task it is mostly because I have worked out what I need to put in and measured it against the rewards of succeeding.

But if the people I am working with decide to give up on me then I have even less motivation to persevere. I will not bail, but if you wish to bail out the I won't beg you to stay.

Mostly - if you don't give up on me, then I won't give up on you. I might go missing but I won't be lost forever.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Me and Jesus

Strange conversation the other day where I had mentioned that I thought Jesus was a pretty cool guy. The person I was speaking to said "but he's not real are you kidding me?".

I wasn't particularly offended just surprised at how hamfisted this person was about a topic that's normally quite close to people's hearts. But I think that is why this person has troubles with just about everybody that she deals with.

Anyhoo the discussion did cause me to wonder how much are really matters whether Jesus really existed or not. For sure I think Jesus existed and I'm happy for people to say that it's an open question about whether he really is the son of God.

I finished saying to this person that even if he didn't exist it's still a great story and it's still a great set of virtues. I can also watch a movie and think that John McLane is a cool guy.

So that's that.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

I won't back down: Tom Petty is dead

The people who wrote the songs who define me - they keep a dyin' - this one at 66. One year younger than Mum. Might've trashed his body a little more than her, too.

As a 19 year old trying to work out what type of person I was this song came along and I still can't help but think it sort of does set out what I think is important.

"Well I know what's right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground"

I don't back down, but I have been known to slip sideways..

Well, I won't back down
No, I won't back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down
No, I'll stand my ground
Won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground
And I won't back down
(I won't back down)
Hey, baby, there ain't no easy way out
(I won't back down)
Hey, I will stand my ground
And I won't back down
Well I know what's right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground
And I won't back down
(I won't back down)
Hey, baby, there ain't no easy way out
(I won't back down)
Hey, I will stand my ground
And I won't back down
Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out
(I won't back down)
Hey, I won't back down
(I won't back down)
Hey, baby, there ain't no easy way out
(I won't back down)
Hey, I will stand my ground
And I won't back down
No, I won't back down

Sunday, September 24, 2017


So people in marketing think that a brand is a huge thing. It sort of is.

But sometimes it is just as simple as an establishment number on a piece of meat.

I don't know what 2261 is but it could be found here

Friday, September 22, 2017

A friend talking from the dead

Somebody is managing Stacey's account and must've clicke the "Join Messenger" button, giving me a notification. Stacey died quite some time ago. She was my sister's best friend. And this reminds me that she was very much my friend, too..

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Kerry Packer and loyalty

Sometimes certain thoughts come back to me. This: "I believe you offer loyalty to everyone, which is not as big a strain as it sounds, because very few people pick it up."

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Legacies of Mum

Perhaps this is what grief is.

The tangible things that link you to the one you've lost just tend to become fewer and fewer.
Clearly my mum was a tight arse like I am. And she clearly liked sweet things like I do. So her McDonald's spoons from the sundaes she must have eaten were just bound up with a rubber band.
I tucked them away somewhere when I cleared her house.

A while back Sylvia asked me if I have any spoons of any sort that I can just put in the kitchen drawer for kids to take  to school with yoghurt.

Soon those spoons will all be used up and that is how things go. One more tangible memory of Mum is gone and life goes on.

I love her and I miss her, but if she was still around I'm sure I would still be an asshole to her. But I am so glad for the people in my life who love her too.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Life is not a box of chocolates

It was early in my relationship with my wife that I came to learn the number of Tim Tam chocolate biscuits there are in a pack. Eleven. Cynically I believe that prime number was chosen so that there is no chance of being able to share the pack evenly amongst any number of people.

And the sharing of a pack was what brought me to understand how my wife and myself were different at a fundamental level. Sylvia believed it was "5 for me and 5 for you and one to share".

I had growin up in a situation of "the person who eats the fastest gets the most".

And that probably outlines my approach to life right now. Life is not a box of chocolates - it's a pack of Tim Tams, and the more I can take right now the more I will get. The future will take care of itself.

The weather is good and I'm headed out to Langhorne Creek to do some more skydives. There are about a dozen people who believe I should be doing something else - something that more directly benefits them.

But I'm here to eat my pack of Tim Tams, not so much to provide chocolate biscuits for everybody who demands them of me.

But my greatest pleasure is doing things for other people where I feel like I had a choice in the matter. Sharing my pack of Tim Tams.

Life sure is a pack of Tim Tams.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The significance - to me - of Veuve Clicquot

I grow more and more like my mum, particularly in the way I tell the same story over and over and forget that I've told it. So my sister probably had heard this story before she gave me a bottle of 2008 vintage Veuve.

I once bought a bottle of the lovely French champagne and promised myself that as soon as I learnt of the death of a certain past associate, then I'll pop the cork immediately wherever I was.

There was no reason to believe this past associate was going to die anytime soon - I just relished the idea.

The significance of this is that it helped me recognise that hate imprisons a person. It's like swallowing poison and hoping that the other person dies from it.

So the significance is the freedom that I received a few years later when I casually popped the cork with some students in a celebration of their study.

That horrid nemisis is as alive and as well as ever although - I expect - living their own hell on the inside. However I too am alive and well, as well as being free.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Little India Back to Where it All Began

Singapore traveling for work is about to come to an end. It has been great and I wish I could go for longer. But nothing lasts forever

And tonight I missed my flight. So after two and a half hours of dithering around the airport I am back in a taxi on the way into Singapore Central at 1.30am. Now I really miss my family.

And because I am paying for my own accommodation I will be at the Hotel 81. Just as it was when I was trying to make a dollar stretch when I was working on a Singapore wine retail project.

Another arc that brings me home again. I think I only have one more trip to Singapore left. And that saddens me a little.

Monday, August 7, 2017

$8 of water

We are shipping plastic around the country. Bizarre. And I'm a part of the problem.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Drugstores' war on aspirin

My painkiller of choice is aspirin. It's the nearest thing I have to a natural remedy.

Hundreds of years old maybe more and an extract from Willow bark.

It is amazingly cheap I can buy 12 tablets for about a dollar fifty in the supermarket.

That's why it is so hard to find in some places. In the US it is cheap but there is only one SKU - in Singapore The Guardian Pharmacy simply didn't sell aspirin.

There was aspirin mixed with glycine I think for about $9 a dozen cap capsules. And the aspirin was only 100 mg. And in the US that was selling low dose aspirin - tablets with a quarter of the active ingredient - to prevent heart disease at twice the price of regular.

It seems that if you want a painkiller they want you to spend huge amounts of money on ingredients that you don't know or understand. That's the world we live in.

Friday, July 28, 2017

I've done all the dumb things...

My theme song, done cool. I applied to me in 1988 and ever more so as I turn 50. For me it doesn't get too much better than this...

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Expensive luxuries: ignoring or disrespecting your customers

It's no big deal. But if I turn out to an ice cream stand that has not customers looking at the person who owns it with my wallet in my hand there's a fair chance that I am looking to buy.

If the person running the stand is casually finishing a conversation with his friend hasn't made eye contact with me and doesn't look like he plans to well I will just walk away.

It seems that the most expensive luxury a business person can have his that luxury of ignoring the customers.

Show this guy was just foregoing a $1 sale. Interesting that it's often young people I see doing this but this guy was 75 years old.

He didn't need my poxy $1.

Oh I much prefer "Boat Quay"

As I get older I come to realise a number of strange behaviour patterns and speech patterns in people.

One of these patterns is when you mentioned something then the other person mentions a fine variation on that that demonstrates that "I too I'm familiar with the intricacies whatever it is you're talking about".

So I was speaking about Singapore once and I mentioned Clarke Quay bit of an interesting place in the evening.

And my conversation partner at the time said "oh yes but I prefer Boat Quay it's that little more grungy and real life".

No harm, no foul. Just interesting.

My experiment: Virtue signalers identify yourselves

I have the perfect conditions for an observation experiment. I am interested in demonstrating what virtue signaling is, how it comes about, and who in my contacts is prone to it.

Virtue signaling is the process of becoming outraged on another's behalf in order to demonstrate one's own set of enlightened values. or:

"Virtue signalling is the conspicuous expression of moral values done primarily with the intent of enhancing standing within a social group"

We have the perfect experimental stimulus right now. A few days ago respected Kaurna Elder Stephen Goldsmith died. Jamie, faced with the Herculean task of grieving his father began it in the way of his culture. He lit a fire in his backyard to serve as a meeting place for his community. That fire will burn until the grieving process is over - although grieving never really is done. I first saw it in the movie Jindabyne - the movie based on Paul Kelly's haunting song "Everything's turning to white"

But Jamie doesn't live on the foreshore of Port Gawler or the banks of the River Light. Jamie lives in the suburbs of Adelaide and one of his neighbors complained to the council. This happens in the Burbs, and a council has a responsibility to engage. They did. The council officer attended last night and was quickly told the facts of life. The officer left to speak to his supervisor and that was that.

This morning a Marion Councillor was on the radio saying that a permit has been issued, regretting any offense and offering her condolences to Jamie. Well played all.

I like Jamie's point that his religion is the oldest in the country although I note that there are some 600 aboriginal nations. Still, Christianity is a mere pup. And what a shit job, mourning the loss of your dad at 60. I thought I was special losing my mom at 67. Love to you Jamie.

My observation experiment

So the oxygen should have gone out of that story. That did not stop Premier Jay Weatherill from firing a few shots but that was admittedly before the Councillor was on morning radio. As I am spending today mashing buttons on a computer in the name of work I will record the posts of outrage at come across my social media feed.

No doubt I will offend some people. In this case they get the chance to be offended or very real reasons.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Teaching in Singapore is great!

I might not be able to continue to do it for long but it's good while I have it!

Where there's a giver there is always a taker

It's been a busy morning. I am in Singapore on work, but that hasn't stopped a half a dozen acquaintances asking for things from me. At least when it happens in work I get to send an invoice.

Sure these things are all small things and I reduce the total amount of energy that gets spent on getting a job done. But the truth is somebody has an hour of their time saved for me spending ten minutes of my time.

But that is still my 10 minutes. Six of those has lost me an hour. Sure the rest of the world has saved six hours of their time, and I just lost one.

And I found that being a giver is a thankless job. It seems that when you feed the beast it just becomes more hungry, and asks for more.

It's the same with sharing. It seems that the biggest advocates of the whole "let's share everything" are often those who have the least.

Stuff, energy, natural ability, social capital. Perhaps the natural human trait is that when we are deficient in something we find it easier to use somebody else's then build or accumulate it  for ourselves.

And I suspect I am just as guilty of asking a friend to lend a hand when there's really not that much in it for them. I hope I'm mindful of balance - probably not.

South Australia: How did we get here?

When I was a kid and I thought about how hostile forces might overthrow a country I thought that they might do a few things.

Attack from within: the country can fight a known aggressor but when the aggressor infiltrates the government and the social class they are more difficult to fight.

Remove the population's ability to reason: propaganda works that way and so do many other religions and dogmas

Strike at the utilities: Water, Roads, Sanitation Communications, Electricity. Cripple these things and you cripple a country.

So in the wash up of An Inconvenient Truth, surely the forces of darkness have managed to do this with our electricity supply. In South Australia we currently have the most expensive electricity in the world, and some of the least reliable. 

Businesses are leaving the state because it just makes sense, and we have cemented our position as the rustbucket state. My advice to my three children is to get out of South Australia, build a career and come back when it's time to raise kids (or retire).

One of my children had already chosen that for himself, and I have a few young friends who have successfully done just that. Shoutout to Andy and Lolly, who are raising a two month old baby Elliott.

South Australia: How did we get here?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Act now! Chill out...

As I get older I come to realise that there are nonlinear returns to effort. That there is a time to act and act hastily and then there is equally a time to do absolutely nothing - or at least that whatever things you need to do can wait a week or so.

In the garden when it's time to prune a stone fruit, spray soursobs or plant spring seedlings - there is no time like the present, when that present arrives.

It's about the rhythm of life.

I have read stories of soldiers who say that war is either heightened activity or boredom. It seems that a soldier needs to be very good at doing nothing when there is nothing to do.

Certainly in a skydive when one is sitting on the ground or waiting for the plane or on the climb up there is nothing to do. The jump is fun but when one has a malfunction one needs to work very quickly.

And so I find myself this week. When I teach in a university the first few days of a new course kids they really high return for my effort. Students become familiar with the course material and with me and no at it's gonna be alright. Also the week that contains anomalies date is where outstanding student grades all need to be entered to make them available for graduation later in the year.

We have a week where these two things converge in some way. I need to be at my best and I need the people around me to be at their best as well.

And life can return to the lazy pace that it normally has.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Next step: beyond redemption

I recently posted this to Facebook, dressed up as a quote:

"Be careful. If I'm putting a huge amount of energy into you it might just be because I am trying to determine if you are beyond redemption"

I've come to realise that this is my approach to many people and things. Life is so much simpler when I can afford to give up on some things and some people.

But I owe it to those things and people (and to myself) to examine every possible option. In a very practical sense this becomes how I manage a group of, say, 63 students.

In a 12 week course from weeks 1 to 9 I am slavishly dedicated to working with students. I beg them to come and see me for one on one sessions and I deeply engage with their research ideas. Unfortunately for the student who come to me in week 10 (having done nothing at all) I am far less willing to be involved. I'm not as harsh as some lecturers wish they could be when they muse about a snappy comment the night before the exam - "the best reading you can do right now is the Bible".

But with students and in life there is a time for me to cut my losses. After an intense period of trying to make it work, I feel confident that I can drop certain things like a hot potato.

So if I look like I have lost interest in you I can assure you that it wasn't a snap judgement. If you reexamine the period before I went missing, you might work out what I was trying to do.

In the past that has left certain people feeling as though I am just a complete asshole, and from their perspective they are probably right.

And then that feeds my other perspective on life:

"You can't have everybody love you, so in this world you have to choose. I've found it important to have good people saying good things about me and to have bad people saying bad things about me".

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Fog in the hills and the nanny state

The nanny state is creeping up on us. Driving through the Adelaide Hills just then and I see that they have variable speed limit signs.

And as the conditions worsened and visibility went down I saw that the speed limit signs had reduced to 40 km per hour.

Now that's all fine but ffs when these days do we expect people to take responsibility for themselves? Sure in a macro sense we reduce accidents and heartache but in an even bigger picture we are reducing the Darwin effect.

If the visibility is bad then ffs slow the f*** down.

Wrapping people in bubblewrap only really creates a protected species of entitled incompetent adults. I see way too much of that already.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Renewed QPMR

I've had the qualified practicing market researcher accreditation for about four years now. I suppose if I'm going to be teaching at and working in it I should have some form of accreditation.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Fake extrovert

There's a certain type of personality that just enjoys being around people. All people. If given the choice between sitting alone with a book or being in a room full of strangers they would choose the room full of strangers. It energizes them.

The world belongs to these people. Social groups, management structures, leisure industries and most extended families are a cacophony of voices - each person jostling for centre stage.

I make my living by doing this. I stand in front of 65 masters students - most who need to feel a personal connection to their lecturer. Many times a week I step outside my comfort zone and look a student in the eye, greeting them with stark honesty. Sometimes that honestly sounds like a compliment, most times it is something the person needs to hear but may not want to hear. Deep engagement.

This is not fun for me. It does not come naturally. I am not a people person, but I understand the requirements of the job.

So in my private time I suppose it's fair that I get to make my own choices. I recently said about myself that:

"I know how to take care of the people that matter to me and I also know how not to take care of the people who don't"

In my private life I spend a fair amount of time trying to work out if some people are worth the effort - from my own selfish perspective. Because I'm allowed to do that, and I only have so much energy.

If there's no paycheck involved and I'm being nice to you, I can assure you it's sincere. If I'm looking you in the eye and sound harsh then that is also a form of compliment. Love is not always about kisses and cuddles.

And I'm trying to avoid you then that's probably the best thing for the both of us, too. I beg you.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pointless exercises. Sounds just like me.

I realised that I am taken with doing pointless exercises.

In high school while the class was trying to learn how to do something I worked out days before, I would build word puzzles or draw pictures of fighter jets or geometric shapes.

All were pointless and all ended up in scrap.

But there's a beautiful symmetry to that, like building a sandcastle on the foreshore, or even an ice sculpture.

So much of what I do these days ends up being ultimately a pointless exercise. I build courses and create huge levels of student satisfaction for a school in a university that doesn't seem to care about me. I write protocols which are excellent and then somebody else takes the credit for them. I write A journal publications that get published in the year after I get sacked.

I become really good at falling out of a plane in a way that nobody really understands or cares about.

But I think that really suits me. Because I am taken with doing pointless exercises.

And then it's over. So the journey is all there is, as well as what you leave behind.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Where medals are a minor achievement

I won a couple of silver medals last weekend. Novice two way with the marvellous Leah and four way with Danny, Zac and Thomas.

It was very nice to get the DZ Chief Instructor recognition of teamwork / mentor. Very nice, especially from him. But the verbal recognition is only half of it.

I heard it first from Japanese teachings that the good things that other people say about you are a hundred times more valuable than your own statements. Aussies sometimes say that "self praise is no recommendation".

I've always thought​ that when a person calls themself a leader or a mentor they are often a million miles away​ from it. It's for other people to make that judgement.

Or the facts.

And I take pride in the fact that I took 7 people to a camp last week. We learnt some stuff about bodyflying and 4way, and close to swept the state pool in flatfly. In no way am I conceited - I got two second place, and my first ever AFF student doubled my score in two way.

I will never leave the sky, and I will always be "just good enough" but I have loved this week. And the icing on the cake come from the way that two of the women from the camp freebuilt the base on an eight way state women's record effort.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Don't keep business cards of people who don't deserve your time

Not by choice but by affliction I am a collector of business cards. I wear a dress jacket sometimes and every now we can they turn up in an inside pocket. People often push a business card into my hand - perhaps they impressed me at the time, maybe they didn't.

But one thing's for sure. No business card that I've collected over the last 30 years of schlepping around town deserves to sit in the same pocket as the funeral card of a great friend of mine.

Will fought cancer for about 12 months and he was gone a few weeks ago. I will never again hear that quiet wisdom or delight in that wicked sense of humour.

And I think that you should spend no amount of time sitting in a place where things are wrong for you.

And although I really only saw him twice a year, I miss my friend.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Academic tourism

It's not a joke. A "CFP" is acadmic talk for a "call for papers" - you know, where you write an article for a peer-reviewed​ conference in Paris, New York or Murcia, and the people you work for send you there?

Strangely, I don't miss it. There is no free lunch.

How do you sell $20 burgers?

Just a bit of everything. A captive audience - LAX - a good product and a whole heap of chutzpah.

I think I just heard a customer leave calling it "Umami Burglar".

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Scammers at the airport gas stations

"Scammers" is a bad word, and I truly don't think of myself as a better person. But I do get a little nervous when approached.

"Wash your widows?", "Got some change?" And a really elaborate one last year "I'm out of gas and I just need a gallon or so to get back home what do you say?".

I don't think it's a complete coincidence that these are the two gas stations that I just around the corner from the rental car depots. I've been to a lot of places in the US and not had much of this sort of approach but this is where the tourists are, right?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

15 items or fewer - so cute

Stater Bros is a huge supermarket chain in Southern California that is trying to resist the future. No self serve checkouts and those quaint 15 items or fewer aisles.

Freeway frustration

Imagine this moving at 130 km/h. Sometimes it does but many other times you are traveling alone in I-69 hard volume delivery system at 50 kilometers per hour.

I think that's why when the freeways are empty people get even more aggressive.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Scriptwriter: Clive Palmer will go to jail

It's bad form to publicly say "I told you so" but I often wish to.

My two younger kids have come to call me "The Scriptwriter" because my modified version  of "I told you so" is "I could've written the script!".

Years ago when Clive Palmer found his way into Australian Parliament I drew on my memory of Alan Bond and said "One day Clive Palmer will go to jail".

I'm not even saying he's done anything wrong, but I've watched Alan Bond, Lindy Chamberlain, Pauline Hanson and a bunch of other people over the years go to jail. Somehow I think Mr Palmer will also go to jail.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

P3 Inspiration

I come here because I'm outside of my comfort zone. Eighteen years ago at about stage 4 of my freefall course I said to myself "perhaps I've found something I want to do that I just can't get the hang of" and of course - I was hooked for life.

And when I come here the challenges are the same. And I just need to listen to hear the things that can help me through. In skydiving and in life:
  • Just because we're confident doesn't mean that we're not totally humble, aware of things we need to improve. Larry.
  • When someone is low on the formation and skating underneath you, deal with it. Don't be drawn into other people's drama. Kate.
  • The best place to go low on a formation is above it. If you're in the stadium and having to fight to stay up, it's way better than being underneath it. Dan.
  • It takes courage to fly up close in your slot, but that's the only way we can build large formations. Come and join the party! Kate.
  • Don't make your comfort the reason the team gets held up. If you're not comfortable being uncomfortable then this is the wrong sport for you. Chris.
  • You can't fix a mistake by making another mistake. If you mess up an exit and end up on the wrong side of the formation then cutting across other people to get to your slot is only compounding the problem. Chris.
  • Be calm. Everything in this sport gets better when you're calm. Rehearse your calmness. Plan it into your dirt dive. Dan.
  • On performance anxiety: I've seen much worse and believe me you can't disappoint me or impress me. We're all just at different points on a learning curve. Chris.
  • There are only about three of the great skydivers that it came naturally to - the rest of us have had to work really really hard at it. It's not rocket science - you can do it if you want to. Chris.
  • Three rules. Don't dock until it's ready to be docked, don't dock until you are ready to dock, don't dock until you are ready to be docked on. Tom.
  • Don't dock to the formation unless you can improve what's going on in there. Kate.
  • When you're approaching the formation you're all timid and not wanting to mess things up. Once you have taking a grip you become part of the base and then nothing should move you. Dan.
  • Bigway skydiving you need to skydive a little bit angry. Tom.
  • You don't get the nickname you want - you get the nickname you deserve. Mark.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Virtue Signalling: Talk is cheap

Clicking "like" really does not change anything  - it just puts your own voice to the dozens who are muttering the same thing. In this case I don't even "like" the fact that Larissa Waters is breastfeeding in senate. Sure, it's cool.

Making comments bemoaning the state of the world - it goes even beyond cheap "likes". It requires almost no original thought and only serves to say "I'm good aren't I?"

Grownups see this virtue signalling for what it is and try to avoid the trap. And I resisted the urge to hit "send" on my message below..

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A convenience culture that just seems to have it wrong

I'm not really sneering at other people's cultures that this one has got me a little bewildered.

There are many big people in the US. And I think there is some talk about obesity classified as a form of disability.

And there are enough people who find walking very difficult. But there has to be something a little wrong with setting up shopping trolleys that you sit on and ride around a supermarket rather than -as a culture that's just doing something about the core problem.

But perhaps Australia is headed that way too.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

All God's creatures, but what about snails and slugs?

I'll​ had a funny memory just then and that was about my auntie who was a bit of a strong Christian. She's dead now but everybody these days seems to be dead.

A conversation had been going about how we are all God's creatures. Even snails and slugs. As a kid my question was "if slugs come from Heaven how do the cope with the impact on the landing?"
"Oh, they have very tough skin".

That's as good an answer as any, I suppose. But by then we had already fallen through the looking glass. Perhaps they all just get soft landings, like on this lawn. Perhaps that's God's will, as well.

Perhaps the snails - whose shells would break, get the lawn - and slugs with tough skin have to make do with hard surfaces.

Perhaps God doesn't have a plan, but a Roulette Wheel.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

My pep talk to some students..

I wrote it and I might as well share it here..

Remember - we're working as colleagues in this [project]. I'll answer emails (or better - FB Messenger messages) at midnight if I have to. But your part of the deal is that you make sure that when you contact me that you are giving me the very best opportunity to add value to your project. Please make sure you have reviewed, previewed and critiqued your stuff as hard as you can before you send it to me.

My first real research supervisor

Can I share a little story with you? Prof [x] is now a good friend, but it didn't start well. At another University I had been enrolled in a Masters by research against everybody's wishes and [x] happened to be head of school when I was enrolled without a supervisor (untidy I know). I presented a paperwork problem for [x] so he said "put my name in as your supervisor for now".
When I asked if he wanted to see something from me each week he replied "I don't want to see your garbage thinking". It was not an insult. He recognised that we all have ruminations and semi formed ideas. We need to work those up to being respectable before sending them off to someone else.
I'm not being as blunt as to say "don't send me garbage" but I am saying that along with courage, we need to have the self respect to send of what we think is our very best shot at the time. Good academics can tell the difference. I know from bitter experience the embarrassment of sending something (that wasn't the very best I could do) to someone I respect.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Cheap hotel rooms - economic theory demonstrated

I went to to book three nights of accommodation. I have a car so I can get out of the main street but I really do need some good facilities such as good Wi-Fi and a nice desk because I will be spending quite a bit of time at a desk and on a computer.

So by removing asymmetry in information these online comparison websites are really making the economic model work.

This particular hotel is out in a business and industrial estate that looks like a ghost town at the moment. And for 3 nights of accommodation I pay 200 Australian dollars.

Monday, April 24, 2017

You'll never work here again - yawn

That is not the first time I've heard those words. Saying "you will never work here again" is almost like when Ringo points a gun at Jules in Pulp Fiction. And Jules said something like "I don't want to disappoint you but this is not the first time I've had a gun pointed at me".

For whatever slight, somebody who thinks they're in power over me likes to take the attitude that if they have anything to do with it I will never get another job in the place again. And yet​ I still work in the place. A cockroach. And I leave when I choose to leave.

I think it's mostly because those people move on as well and I become peripheral to them. And I'm sure they think that they are moving upwards. Perhaps they are.

But in about 18 years now of working in places where some people just really don't want me, I have come to see a pattern. The people who think they control me can hate me or love me. But if I provide value for the company's customers then they sure as hell can't ignore me and it's hard for them to get rid of me.

And the cockroach survives.

Wild fermented - blech!

I can't believe that with all the technology that has gone into yeast, and wine production that wild-fermented is considered to be a thing. I tasted one a couple of days ago from Mclaren Vale and it just reminds me of sloppy home-made wine.

And on the other hand when I'm feeling adventuresome perhaps I will try it this wild ferment Sauvignon Blanc. But not tonight.

I suppose that's wine.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bad copywriting

This is everything you love about IKEA plus some of the things you don't love about IKEA - that's what the ad says.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

If you wanna get closer to me, then find some middle ground

I had a disturbing conversation the other day with a close family member. I think he wishes we would spend more time together but he had a strange way of trying to motivate me towards that.

He was showing one of his recent projects to someone else on his phone and said "Cullen could do that stuff but he chooses not to".

For a nanosecond I imagined that I was getting some acceptance of the fact that we all have different pleasures​ in life, and some measure of respect that my passions were different to his.

Fool I am. The very next words were "so when are you going to give up skydiving -- you know you're separating yourself from everybody by doing this". I'm sure that in some way he means well.

What is shame. The one thing that he thinks might bring us together actually driving us apart.

A good friend just died young. It was a situation where three hours extra of consciousness would have been a lifetime.

That extra three hours would have been spent with the people he truly loved or doing a thing that inflamed his passion. Not putting up a lean-to roof (or similar​) with people he thought were ok. So that they were happier.

The thing I took away from that is that even a half an hour spent doing something that somebody else likes for no other reason that they want me to?

Not gonna happen.

Monday, April 17, 2017

In life​, we are _never_ the apex predator

This is my favourite T-shirt. It reminds me that whenever you think you are on the top of your game there is always something around the corner.

And there is always someone bigger, meaner, and more dangerous than you are.

We are never the apex predator.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The man trap: Other people's expectations

I am watching a young couple recently. As I get older and reflect on the things I've seen and done I can't help but feel some trepidation for the young guy.

I know it's not deliberate but it just seems to be a pattern that the male becomes an extra in the grand production that is "the family".

I would not change today anything else in my life. The creation of our nuclear family is the thing I am the most proud of. Many men feel the same, and it is often that paternal instinct that is taken advantage of. And perhaps men forget themselves.

"You have a family now, stop doing that silly stuff" is a sentence that I hear from "caring interested" people. A boss that I once had and respected said to me "you won't still be jumping out of planes like a monkey when you're 49 years old". Wrong, Rod. But I nearly did forget myself.

The number of men that I've seen drop their own set of passions and live another's dream - amazing. A guy who love trail bike riding - no more. Many others a skydiver no more. One's plan to work one's way around Australia - no chance.

Back to my two young friends. I watched them having an animated and semi-private a conversation the other day. I could tell that it was about having children.

The male was saying "no that will mess things up, think of all the things we do now that we couldn't if we had to be managing mumble". They caught me paying attention and the guy looked like a rabbit caught in a trap, with the female being all doe eyed and coy. I thought to myself "you've got no chance buddy'.

My thoughts are that people going into a marriage need to be careful about whose vision they're living out. If there's tension there, throughout the marriage, then perhaps that's a sign that both people are getting some of what they want. Unfortunately for the man he will probably be branded childish selfish and irresponsible. Suck it up cupcake - you've never been any different.

The power of "ding"

I recall a Facebook group that I didn't join that was titled "I secretly want to slap slow-walking people in the back of the head".

Currently in a country of 5 million people I swear it feels that they are 4 million 999 thousand 999 people that are getting in my way. Perhaps that is more about me but I am frustrated when people seem to be isolated in the bubble of their own. Looking at a phone, looking up at a tall building reading a book or just being generally vague.

When I come up behind a vague slow walker and try to find a way past I am often met with some indignant "excuse me is not that hard to say".

"Yeh but - hey, fuck you" is what I feel more like saying. "You're the one dawdling, you're the one who has no idea of the - just minor - irritation you're creating for people who know where they want to go. You should be asking me to excuse you".

A slap on the back of the head should totally be acceptable.

So, much like a cyclist on a shared path I've taken to "dinging". As I come up behind a dawdler I say the word "ding" and when the people turn around I provide a huge warm smile as I walk by.

I've even had more aware members of dawdling parties grin back at me. Dinging will probably keep me out of police lock up. But my fixation on these things really says more about me. I am the cringemaster.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

One day each of us will be judged

I firmly believe that one day every single one of us will be judged.

And would not really suck for us if we had each been looking at the wrong scoreboard.

I don't know who will do the judging when or how it will happen. But I did try to use the correct scoreboard. Whatever that is.

The short-term benefit is that at least I can live with myself.

Fort Canning is a metaphor for Singapore

For about six years I have seen this area as a wasteland. Surrounded by shopping centers and great residential development there was no infrastructure to support it. Little did I know that the Singapore government had another idea. The area is still a little lost but I get the feeling that it will get busy very soon.

So the Fort Canning MRT station is about to open and I think this area will explode. Yes that sounds like Singapore.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

I love the hustle and bustle. As long as I'm not a part of it.

I am firmly aware of the fact that this could all be over in a minute. Here in Singapore for a week of work that somebody thinks I am worth. I agree that I am worth it as well. But one never knows.

I hate crowds when I have to be a part of them. But when I can just be me - I like the hustle and bustle.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I love the shopping centre before it opens

It's one of my favourite things wherever I go all around the world. To be in the Hustle and bustle of a shopping centre before it opens. Apparently I enjoy it just as much in my own home city as well.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Loyalty: The two way street

Kerry Packer on loyalty:

"I believe you offer loyalty to everyone, which is not as big a strain as it sounds, because very few people pick it up."

And in my own words:

"I love you, but if you're making plans that don't include me, please don't be hurt or surprised if I happen to be making plans that don't include you"

And I only have a few instances in my life that my loyalty has been reciprocated.

And that's fine. But I love it when my faith in humanity is rewarded.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dollar Shave Club: Back to Quality

The definition of quality is about consistency of delivery.  I liked that when I got my blades each month I also got a business card with the Dad joke on it.

It wasn't any big deal but I became used to it. A few months ago to dad jokes stopped. That was a lapse in quality. I'm pleased to announce that the dad jokes have returned.

Outstanding women

I don't follow AFL and I haven't seen in AFLW game. But I am in awe of these amazing women - Aussie Rules is a tough game and I love to see when people excel in the toughest of endeavours.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Breaking Bad (Spoiler): "I did it for me"

The only time in the whole series where the asshole was honest with his wife and himself. He'd do the most horrible things to just about everyone - and all the time thought he was doing it for the family:

Thinking is difficult...

I can't help but agree:
I have so many thoughts that I just keep to myself because I don't trust the people around me to come to the table with an open mind.

Coopers: When you have friends at a party who don't get along

Tom Richardson just called me, and one can never be sure of how one's words will end up in the press. So in advance of InDaily I probably need to say what I think about Coopers and a recent video that the bible society put together.

The video had two Liberal MPs politely discussing Same Sex Marriage, one being for and one against, drinking light beer and the message being "keep it light".

The intent of the message (that we can disagree but remain friends) never resonated - the video was seen as Coopers taking sides in the debate. Unfortunately.

As soon as Coopers was seen as taking a side they were in trouble. Just as when you have friends at a party who don't get along, nothing good can come from taking a side.

For a consumer goods company, it rarely makes sense to enhance your appeal to segment A by grossly offending segment B. Recall the lamb ad, where the SWAT team burst into a vegan's house and destroyed his Kale dinner. The upside of a giggle from the meat eaters was not worth the pain of hurting the feelings of the vegetarians.

I repeat that I don't think Coopers was taking a side on the SSM debate but in consumer goods, a breadth of appeal is very important. And it's what people think you're doing that matters.

UPDATE: InDaily were almost true to my thoughts.

Message to Coles: I drove an extra few kilometres for self service checkouts

I've said how I hate to do people first thing in the morning. So a self service checkout is not purely about service efficiency but also about what I like.

On an early morning run the closest supermarket to me is a Coles. The second closest is a Coles. But my experience has been that Coles do not open their self service checkouts early in the morning. Coles seem to think that self service checkouts are purely for managing volume.

So I had to drive to Woolies.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

What if tomorrow is cancer?

I have known more than a few people who have had their employment terminated abruptly - like "pack your shit up and get out of here". I've also known others who through incident or illness have had their lives cut tragically short - like "three weeks from now you won't be alive". I've fist pumped people in the last 20 minutes of their life, with no idea they were.

The one thing that all those people shared - without exception - was a total certainty that this was just another day. That life as it was for them was going to continue without any interruption.

If they knew it was all to end so soon I wonder what they would have done more of? Walk the dog a little more, kick the footy with the kids, had sex that few extra times - a few more skydives?

If you knew that tomorrow was a cancer diagnosis then what would you do today? And why not do it while you still have your health and your life?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Singapore city where everything is a landscape

Down there we see the Singapore River wind its way up to the sea. But the green in front of Riverside Point was trashy, sloppy mud land about four months ago when I was here.

Sure it's pretty now but it does give me the sense that everything is artificial. Perhaps that is a positive - just the way they like it. Perhaps you can't turn a swamp into the business centre of South Asia with doing it that way.

The difference between inconsiderate and plain rude

If I had a choice I would choose to be rude before inconsiderate anytime.

A person who dawdles in a narrow hallway, one who stands vaguely at the buffet with 20 people behind them, or does a balance check three withdrawals and four PIN tries at an ATM. Inconsiderate. Just living life in their own bubble with no awareness (or concern) that others are trying to go about their own life as well.

And, when I loudly proclaim "coming through" or "let's go - serve up and move on", or "there are six people waiting to use this ATM can you please finish up?" I'm being rude.

There's a certain rudeness that comes from knowing what you're on about, and a different rudeness that comes when you're clueless.

The second is mostly regarded as benign - "they're harmless" - but I feel that inconsiderate people are way worse than the rude ones.

But that's probably just because I'm the cringemaster. Thanks - kids - for the title.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Live life up to the last gasp: Strong advice from a man I hate

OK, a fictional man:

"Never give up control. Live life on your own terms. One of these times, hell, maybe even today - I'm going to hear some bad news. But until then, who's in charge? Me. That's how I live my life."

One day it could be all over. Job, house, life. It's the reality we all live with but few of us recognise. Working the system requires keeping an eye on the future but being able to say that "ïf it all ends tomorrow I scored as many runs as I could in the time I had"

And it (mildly) irks me that one of the worst characters in history makes the point so well, as he is getting a test to see if his cancer is still in remission. I despise Walter White.

Monday, March 6, 2017

I like Hank Schrader

Almost as much as I detest Walter White. A good man, blinded by his love for his brother in law. A tragic hero. My type of hero.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Slow Fashion

I have a student who is planning to start a research project that Investigates the possibility of reducing the wastage in the fashion industry.

She calls it slow fashion, and involves extending the life of clothes recycling perhaps and repairing.

Who knew I was doing slow fashion all along?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Research methods: The egg experiment

I have a problem. I have chickens that give me fresh eggs. Now almost everything about fresh eggs is really really good. But when you boil a fresh a seashell does not separate very well from the white.

I have been told that older eggs work better for that.

So my research question is How old does an egg need to be before it makes a good peeling hard boiled egg.

So I collected eggs from the 1st of January 8th of January 16th of January. And I'll boil each of them for the same amount of time and see how well they peel. I'll do that each week and then I will have a result.

Item then come up with findings and implications. I love it when we can make research a fairly straightforward process.

Monday, January 16, 2017

I love working with students

It is really good to work with students and particularily when they are doing a real project. It looks like I am doing an internship with a student again now.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Cullen the cringemaster

I suppose by the age of 49 you get to know what you like and what you don't. And you get to give fewer fucks about what other people think.

So when I was at the park and there's a roll of dog litter bags next to the bin I couldn't help to comment to the lady who was taking home about a dozen of them.

"So that's where they all go?" I said.

You can guess how the conversation went from there.

I do feel a little sorry for my son Jonah who happened to be with me at the time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Why Skydiving Helps

I have an unpredictable work situation at the moment. I often seem to be solving problems that I didn't create (some that I do) and everyone comes up smelling of roses. Then, I get asked to do the job again.

I suppose my passion in skydiving might help with coping with the uncertainty. Take for example the jump we did the other day. It was supposed to be quite simple. My two partners were supposed to take a linked exit out the plane, I would meet them, we would change the formation twice then track off and deploy. The reality was something different.

The exit funnels, I rebuild as a two way, the novice docks hard and falls through the middle. I follow the novice briefly but we run out of time and I track off with my mate for some fun. After deployment we play around under canopy for a while and then I perform a high-performance landing.

Totally not according to plan but still safe and fun and we all come out smelling of roses.

Perhaps that's why I keep getting asked to do some of the jobs I do as a day job. And if my current clients don't want me, then somebody else will.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Me and public get togethers.

UPDATE: I suspect somebody just had a quiet shot at me about not being very self reflective. If that's the case, then I think they don't know me as well as they think they do.

Public get-togethers.

The things suck the life out of me. It's just a fact. My major activity in a public get-together is to preserve my energy. Most people don't notice or care and that's a good thing. It's why I try to slide in quietly. Like when you slice a major gash in your arm - move slowly and don't allow that blood to spurt out of you. Interrupting my quiet entry is like exanguination. A true "Dexter" moment.

For sure there are great returns that come from socialising. I make most of my money by being a social animal and many of the people who would be friends cannot believe when I say this drains me.
And I thank God for the half a dozen or so people who care enough to understand this about me, and don't try to force me into their framework of friends and family. You know who you are.

To the rest - I probably like (or maybe even love) you. And one day we might even understand each other.