Friday, December 1, 2017

Which Australian Prime Minister said this?

Here's a story that Kim Beazley recounts, when an Australian PM met Barack Obama in the White House.

“Well, Mr President, I don’t actually have a list of complaints; I know most people who come to this office have a list of complaints. I’ve got nothing to complain about to you. Others come with a list of things that they want from you. We don’t want anything from you.”
and then:
“But I want to say one thing. I think you’re about to get into a lot of trouble in the Middle East. And when you do, I want you to understand this. We are going to be with you and we are going to be with you in numbers.”

"Water Conservation Measures" - pffft

Yeh yeh. Back in 2003 you were the villain of the century if you watered your lawn. The SA government had what was called water conservation measures and it was dressed up as saving the environment.

Nevermind that South Australian domestic use was only 4% of the total state's usage but we were all pilloried if we put a sprinkler on after 10 a.m. in the morning.

Call me cynical but I've seen too much of this before. Back then they put a moralistic spin on water usage to solve a practical problem. They simply didn't have water storage or desalination to service their domestic market.

Now it's "use as much as you like as long as you pay for it" but as I see it the environmental challenges aren't any fewer than they were 15 years ago.

Pffft.

Supercharged Impulse purchase inducement

I just got to thinking about the nature of Impulse purchase in this brave new world of supermarket self serve.

I expect that when people are scanning their own groceries they probably don't have that loose mindspace where they have to fill it with deciding they're going to buy something.

And perhaps the supermarkets and brand owners are seeing that. Hence the chocolate bar prices that you only really saw at super discount outlets.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Casualties for 2017

These are the people that I know have walked away from me, thinking "what a complete asshole". They're four very different people from different walks of my life, and they only really have one thing in common. They irritated me at some point.

These people are good, honest people - all with a very good heart and I am not glad they hate me, but you don't make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Every one of these fallouts have caused me a sense of personal reproach. I should be better.

At certain times throughout the year I have allowed my mask of affability to slip. Dealing with people takes so much energy for me - people who don't know me wish they were my friend. The people who do know me are painfully aware that nobody should want to be my friend.

People who take the time to really know me - well they have a fierce ally. I thank God for both of them.

So the casualties of 2017 are:
[Redacted]
[Redacted]
[Redacted]
[Redacted]

I wish I could be better, and have nobody on this list. But it's been a big year. And as far as the list of people that I consider irredeemable - only two:
[Redacted]
[Redacted]

As Rudyard Kipling said "being hated don't give in to hate". Well, I hate about half as much as I'm hated, in 2017.

As Jules said at the end of Pulp Fiction:
"[I've only just realised that] I am the tyranny of evil men. But I'm trying, Ringo. I'm trying so hard to be the shepherd."

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The only time that seems too short is the time we get to play...

At the moment I am really enjoying working with students of all types as they design research projects, collect data, analyse it and present.

It's an honour. And sitting with them as they take ownership of the research process is great time. In a classroom, in a pub, in the hallway. Always good.

And there's the other stuff. Admin, counselling, following up, travelling.

And the only time that seems too short is the time I get to spend across a table with the students who are truly in charge of their own stuff..

"We do so many shows in a row
And these towns all look the same
We just pass the time in our hotel rooms
And wander 'round backstage
Till those lights come up and we hear that crowd
And we remember why we came"

And it reminds me of this song:


"Let the fools speak"

Sometimes the people of Australia impress the hell out of me. I like that there was a resounding vote of yes to marriage equality. The Australian people tend to make good decisions when they are given the choice. So I hate the shutting down of debate that I often see. In a very general sense we should let the fools speak and let the people decide.

Consider Queensland, the state that is sometimes the butt of jokes about being perhaps a little unintelligent. That state just destroyed the One Nation party and relegated Pauline Hanson to a fringe dweller. I think I like Pauline Hanson, however I disagree with most of what she says. But in this great country Pauline Hanson got to say what she wanted. And the Australian people got to say what they thought about that.

I don't think Pauline Hanson is a fool but I believe in the principle of "let the fools speak and let the people decide". I don't think Milo Yiannopoulos is a fool either, yet I am going to watch him speak and all I am going to watch the social dynamics that surround him. I just hope that next Friday night his function won't be shut down by protesters and I lose my money.

Or worse, that I end up on the TV screen being called a Neo-Nazi because I went along to look. Sometimes Australians disappoint me, and you can guarantee that if I'm getting jostled and abused, then I'll be feeling a little disappointed.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

I once did wine research

I'm in Singapore for the second to last time. I think I have some work to do here in January but that will probably finish me up on work gigs to Singapore.

I've been coming here to do work since 2002. I think I'll sort of miss it. I might see if I can find a job here. Or somewhere else remote from Adelaide.

But walking through UE Square does remind me of when I spent a huge amount of time in this wine store doing a wine shelf experiment.

I think I have a few blogs and photos left in the vault. I'll probably roll them out with a sense of nostalgia over the next month or so.

Man that was a long time ago.

From the vault: Good people going evil

Originally 4/9/2010

Boredom, peer group pressure, power imbalances. I have watched (and been) a good person caught up in the group hysteria that crushes some people. It's shocking.

I was recently listening to a podcast about the Stanford prison experiment - 1971 - that documents the descent of good people into doing bad things:

"In 1971, 23 American college students' lives were changed by the now notorious Stanford Prison Experiment. For the eminent psychologist responsible, Philip Zimbardo, the parallels to the atrocities at Abu Ghraib are palpable. In an exclusive Australian interview, he joins Natasha Mitchell, to reflect on the capacity in all of us to commit evil. It's a case of good apples put in bad barrels."

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/allinthemind/stories/2007/1986435.htm


The danger of thinking clearly

This journalist - Paige Taylor - will be pilloried because she has been prepared to think seriously about an issue. A complex tragedy with good and evil behind every door. As I often say "critics give away more about themselves when they criticise".


Saturday, November 18, 2017

It can't all be carrots

In a world where there should be carrots and sticks. Praise for performance and consequences for making dumb mistakes. I was interested to find that some students pulled together a group complaint about me and sent it up the chain of command. They may get their wish and I'll be taken off teaching this course.

That would be unfortunate.

In related news, I just checked (on a second submission) how many of the students just made the same mistake. Out of 15 - only one. A reduction in skwewup rate from 30% down to 7%. The employers and supervisors of the future can thank me later. So can the students, but chances are that I'll be gone.

It can't all be carrots, but sometimes we can make the sticks a cheap lesson.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

When is a mango not a mango?

I'm here in Cairns where mangoes grow on trees. Yet they still sell for about $3 each in the supermarket, and growers out on the Tablelands are letting the rot on the ground. So when is a mango not a mango? When it's a part of "the total product".





Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wrong paradigm: Nobody expects to be evaluated on their results

I recently set a (tiny, 2%) task for some students whereby they got measured on results rather than the effort.
I asked them to trim up a data file and then share it with me through - pretty much - any cloud method they wanted.

I made it very clear that the only thing I wanted to do was click on the link and open it up. I had told them that I could be anywhere and using any account. I might be in Botswana, I might be using a Gmail account or Hotmail or whatever.

A significant number failed. They mistakenly introduced authorities that meant I couldn't read it; they shared rather than providing a shareable link - there were a fair few ways to screw this up.
And only one way to get it right.

When they got right I would just click a hyperlink and download the file.
Imagine the outcry when I failed them purely because they could not get me the file.
  • "But I work so hard on this"
  • "But I need to be able to pass this"
  • "But all you needed to do was contact me so that I could fix it up"
  • "You know what I meant"
  • "I don't understand computers"
  • "Maybe there is a language problem"

It has been interesting to see what happens when you force people to be assessed on results rather than the effort they put in. And the idea that a whole heap of effort might come to absolutely nothing because of one simple mistake - unthinkable!

"Welcome to the party, pal!" Welcome to life.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Score one for the doctrine of separation of powers.

I love the way that the citizenship 7 were sweating on the finding of the High Court.

I like it even more that it was the deputy prime minister that was sweating. That is the beauty of our government and judicial system.

Two completely separate arms of management that makes the laws and interpret the laws. Somebody was very clever some time ago to decide that you could not make a law in advance that would accommodate every possible situation.

And so we have the doctrine of separation of powers.

In a world of imperfect humans perhaps this is a way of muddling through the mess?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Housework and Damned Statistics

Self serving, I suppose, but:

The old saw of Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics comes up to me all the time. Reporting numbers give them a credibility that they often do not deserve.

The recent Australian census indicated that women were doing the largest share of the housework. That sounds like a misapplication of the word "share".

Who decides how much housework there is to do in a house? If one person is happy with a dirty floor, a filthy toilet and mess everywhere then their idea of total housework hours per week is probably only 5. A person who wishes to live in a monument might have an underlying thought that 20 hours a week is the total required amount of housework.

That sounds to me like a question that needs to be determined between the couple, but just because one person thinks the hours should be higher doesn't make it the right thing.

So if there are a total of 20 hours per week of housework done in a house then the damn statistic is that one person is doing three times the amount of the other. Context: By their own choice.

Or as a person might rudely say:

"Everybody needs a hobby - if yours happens to be polishing silverware then who am I to stop you?"

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Junk Science rules

In a world where people have access to all sorts of information but lack the intelligence to separate bullshit from solid argument, junk science is king.

Glyphosate is an excellent and safe chemical and the recent talk of it being harmful to health:

The entire case against glyphosate is one “monograph” from an obscure World Health Organisation body called the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which concluded that glyphosate might cause cancer at very high doses. It admitted that by the same criteria, sausages and sawdust should also be classified as carcinogens.

came out of a "pay to publish" journal and should be thrown into the same basket of junk science as vaccines cause autism:

Scientists and organizations across the world spent a great deal of time and money refuting the results of a minor paper in the Lancet and exposing the scientific fraud that formed the basis of the paper. Appallingly, parents across the world did not vaccinate their children out of fear of the risk of autism, thereby exposing their children to the risks of disease and the well-documented complications related thereto.

Conspiracy theorists are sometimes the greatest enemy of reason.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What makes you a friend - or an enemy?

I consider myself to be a fairly simple person. If you are wondering whether I consider you to be a friend or an enemy just remember that I am trying to get a bunch of things done. That makes it all so much simpler.

If you are assisting me - in some way - to get my things done then you are a friend.

If you are holding me back from getting my things done, then you are an enemy.

Sure it does mean that people are friends and enemies in all sorts of rotations. But it really is as simple as that. And as complex.

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..
https://youtu.be/nUTXb-ga1fo



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

Brand

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

https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.ausmeat.com.au/docs/AUS-MEAT%2520Accreditation%2520Listing.pdf&ved=0ahUKEwiOkIvMpb3WAhVEUbwKHduVDLgQFggoMAA&usg=AFQjCNFQKmMDQiPDb1J81wlA2C0EQpFA4A

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.

[data]
   


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 booking.com 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.