Monday, October 31, 2011

No I _won't_ offer up my buddy to save myself

In a bizarre (non work related) incident this weekend I was offered the chance to reduce the heat on myself, if I was prepared to hang a friend out to dry. It was an amazingly transparent appeal to my weak side.

Never mind that we were all a big part of the picture as to why we were is the given mess. But for goodness sake - it has to be more than the threat of a few grumbles to get me to roll over on my buddies.

It's not how I play. As Jules said in Pulp Fiction "I hate to shatter your ego, but this isn't the first time I've had a gun pointed at me".

So we'll just have to see how it goes from here. I'll have to wait until I get back to Adelaide and the social circle this is all happening in.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, October 28, 2011

Create the conditions for greatness to flourish

As a gardener I increasingly find that my job is to not get in the way of nature. These Salvias and Snapdragons are all self seeded, growing in the old wheelbarrow I have my garlic in.

Dare I say that running a business is a similar ideal; reduce the opportunities for bad behaviour to succeed, and increase the rewards for good behaviour. Easy in theory, incredibly difficult in practice. Some reasons:

What is good and bad behaviour?
Managers rarely see everything, and it seems that unhelpful behaviour gets a disproportionate share of the airtime. I'm no cleanskin there.
Managers are people too.
Managers rarely have complete control over how they run their business.

Gardening is so much more straightforward. Nature rarely lies.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Funny stats in my blog

See what I mean? A huge spike a week ago (120 pageviews) in an hour) makes it hard to make sense of much else.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Canada seems to be interested

In the last week it has been amazing how many pageviews I've been getting from Canada. So many that it's a little scary for instance, last Friday (Canada time) I got 124 page views in an hour. And the Wednesday I got another big slab. It's across many different pages.

It could be one of a few things. One thing may be simply an interested reader, it might be a bot, harvesting, or it might be a person running a little course and suggesting their attendees have a look at some of my pages. If that's that case then thanks, and please get in touch if you like. This is the map of last week's estimated 400 pageviews:

One other possible explanation that's not so pleasant. An "unfriendly", gathering info for some complaint about me. But that tends not to happen out of Canada.

So, friends, many thanks.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shake hands and move on

I like the way Sharon Gless makes this point. I like the way the characters in this series (Burn Notice) are all their own people but stay committed to each other, even when they don't much like each other.

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Pam Halpert: "if you suck at sales, you make almost no money"

I love the moment of recognition where she realises that that's how it's meant to be:

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Greengrocer's apostrophe on a legal document

I've long considered spelling, grammar, manners and self awareness to be the beacon one shows to the world.

And unrelated, iPhone autocorrect is a trap for new players. I am recorded in perpetuity as having enjoyed a "Sauvignon Blank". I'll have to let the winds of time wear that one away.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How many hashtags is too many?

I just found a great site - Australian MP tweets - which gives a heap of interesting stats. In particular there's this one:

And the winner is Eric Abetz, with some 2.3 hashtags per tweet, on average. At first glance I thought "this guy really gets the medium" but had to think again. I think over two hashtags on most tweets is a bit excessive. Another way it might happen is the odd hashtag dump, four or give hashtags in a tweet, which is not really that cool either.

So how many hashtags per tweet is a good stat? I don't know, but I'm leaning towards just under one, or just over. But I haven't thought too hard about it. I know many others probably have considered this so I wouldn't mind someone telling me what they think.

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Very precise diction very important, sometimes

I've watched the process around our federal opposition leader. I have watched politicians at pains to refer to "miste_ Abbott". It's almost like a glottal stop.

It makes sense. Julia Gillard got into some early issues with somebody asking a puerile "did you just refer to Mr Rabbit?". These are serious discussions and I'm pleased to see our pollies rise above any silliness, in this case.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I THINK level 10 has to have people there

It's the penultimate weekend before theses are due. Just because it's 8.30pm on a Saturday night. Plus I've got a little stuff to do.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Personal Branding Webinar at the University of Adelaide

Today I ran a 45 minute webinar. If you are a person who attended then allow mee to thank you again. If you're choosing to watch this in your own time, thanks again. You might click through to YouTube or around this blog to find other content. However you're here, thanks for coming:

Schools stopping to teach the wonderment of every day

Nice. I dropped my boy off today. Apparently there's an owl in a street tree and someone took the time to write a little note.

I'm thankful for these teachers, who amongst everything else take time to add quality to my kids' lives.

I hope I do that for my students.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Mountain Bread: Paying more for less calories

A buddy saw "mountain bread" on my shopping list recently and it befuddled him. As a family we've been using it for years.

We've probably all seen it, even eaten it at work functions. Launched in Australia around 1999 I was selling plastic when the product hit the scene. It was great for us (that's a 35cent bag around the product) but we were also delighted that a little family business had got onto something really big.

And why (I think) they succeeded was because they recognised a different need and satisfied it. A couple really.
First, ease of use. Anybody can lay out a sheet of this (two if you're clumsy) put any filling into it, wrap it and wrap that in glad wrap. Tuna lettuce and cheese is good. To buy that in a shop is $7.
But the big thing is that it encourages less calories. Or makes it easier to consume less calories. A fluffy lettuce wrap can be satiating, cheap and low calorie. And we're prepared to pay. I just worked out we pay $20/kg for this stuff, while regular bread is $5.50/kg.

And good luck to the mountain bread company.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Catch 22: Am I crazy or is it the world?

A drudgery of a read, but worth it. It took Heller eight years to write it, published in 1961 and I wouldn't be surprised if it took you eight years to read it. But it's worth it. The boredom and terror of war, and the idiocy of humans is painted brightly there, in one drawling, boring read. It's about American pilots in 1943, based in Europe.

Too hard to tell you all the stories or characters but here's a few:

The catch
Catch 22 is a rule that means you must be crazy to want to work here, and you can get a discharge for being crazy. It should be easy to get out, right? But if you're trying to get out then you're not crazy. It's a simple catch, but you can't beat it.

Major Major: a boss that you're only allowed to see when he's not in. If he's available he won't meet you, it is only when he's not available that you are allowed to see him. But then he's not there so you never see him.

Colonel Cathcart: Only cares about how he looks to his bosses, so he keeps increasing the number of missions that the airmen need to fly to become eligible to complete their tour of duty. Playing with their lives.

Orr: The pilot who keeps crashing his plane. They think he's a bad pilot, but he's simply perfecting his escape strategy. One day he crashes his plane and cannot be found.

Milo Minderbinder: The shameless capitalist. Eventually contracts with the Germans to bomb and strafe their own airfield because the Germans were willing to pay, and the US Army would do a better job anyway.

Snowden: the sad story. The young kid who gets wounded on a mission. Yossarian patches the wound in his leg very well, but Snowden continues to complain about feeling cold. When Yossarian opens up the flak jacket, Snowden's blood and guts spills out all over Yossarian. A big metaphor - sometimes we think we're fixing the problem but we're really patching the wrong wound.

Yossarian: - stricken with PTSD (I suppose) can't believe he was to receive a medal for the mission over Avignon where Snowden died, and turned up naked to receive his medal because of the blood on his clothes.

Lots of characters, lots of stories and a damn hard read. But timeless. I first read it when I was 14 years old and then I think, again in my 20s.

I often think about Yossarian, patching the wrong wound.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Poker machines: 87% payback is still a long run loss

Just thinking about this, amongst all the to-ing and fro-ing over mandatory pre commitment legislation. Greg Jericho did a great "think through" back in April, and it's worth a look. But I have a few thoughts of my own.

87% payback still has you losing, long run
The minimum legal payout is 87%. So while it's a probabilistic process, over a series of samples the average payback must legally come to 87%. But I just put together a simulation of how it might work. See below, I've created a fictional ten periods - call them hours, but they could be days, weeks, minutes. These periods don't even really need to be the same length.
So pretend you're a player who comes at plays at the high variability machine ten times, let's say for ten days. You put $100 into the machine, and leave with whatever you get back. We know it doesn't go down that way, but for the purpose of the thought experiment, let's go with it.

So, look at the right hand column. Period 1 (your first day), you only get $8.24 back. That's my luck. Never mind. Come back tomorrow with a fresh $100. The period 2 return is $61.22, urgh, then period 3 is $55.82, urgh.

Then pay dirt! On the fourth day (period 4) you come out with $170.09, the next day $118.53 and so on.

OK then. You can see how the brain will play tricks here, by period 7 you think you've more or less made your money back. A few more runs like this and you'll be great.

Anyhoo. Bottom line is that at the end of it all you only get back $86.61 - on average - for each $100 you put in. (My numbers on the simulation were set a little low - the average should be 87%). If you played these ten runs you'd have put $1000 in and received $866 back. What you're hoping for is that the three runs you have are perhaps like period 4, 5, and 6 - ($300 in, $415 back). It's runs like that that cause the gamblers to come back, behaviourist call it a variable interval reinforcement schedule - I think. but your run could just as easily be like 1,2 and 3 ($300 in, $125 back).

Just to show how the system works, I created three fictional regimes of "rush" - that is the excitement level (good and bad) you'd get from playing the game. Low variability is low rush, medium is medium rush and then there's high rush. All three regimes give the same return (more or less), but with the "low variability" regime the return just oscillates gently around $87. Nobody would play a machine like that. The medium variability gives a few wins and we've already spoken about high variability.

I'm not a crusader around poker machines but I do tire a litle when people start throwing the "87% return" statistic around. All very nice but it brings home the axiom about knowing when to stop. I think the margin that gaming venues take is reasonable as a single percentage figure, but the issue is of course way more complex than that. It involves human behaviour and duty of care.

But this was just a little fool around with some numbers. They look like they make sense.

Connecting with the wine consumer using today’s technology

This originally appeared in the "Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower and Winemaker" February 2010. Fairly straightforward and it was before we knew how easy it was to do one's own QR codes, but at least it put some thoughts out there.

Dr Steve Goodman*
Dr Cullen Habel*
*The University of Adelaide Business School

In two previous papers we covered the use of Facebook and Twitter (social media) for the winery business. This paper puts some practical examples of current media and technology that the wine business can use to really connect with the wine consumer.

In our contact with industry at various seminars and discussions most marketing conversations turn to social can we use it, what we are doing – and ‘how can I use this new ‘stuff’ to get some
return to my winery?’. That last part is very much the nature of this paper. We’ll run through several
examples of easy-to-use ways that might really make a difference to your bottom line. The advent of social media has overshadowed many of the possibilities of ‘new media’. Consumers and slowly wineries, have embraced the amazing opportunities that Facebook and Twitter bring. There is though much more that can be done to jump out at the customer, and they need not break the bank. It’s not about virtual communities it is about using these new tools to engage with your real community in a way that benefits your business.

Taking the winery to the consumer.

Wineries have long known the benefits of the winery cellar door experience with
consumers. The question is: how do you take the experience to people who don’t visit the winery? Firstly, it’s important to have a homebase online. What your winery cellar door does in a physical sense, it can be done online through a website or at even lowest cost, through a blog. Google can set you up, at no charge, through ‘Blogspot’, while another popular tool is ‘Wordpress’. Forget the days of spending $20,000 on a website if all you wish to do is communicate your winery’s personality.

The important thing is CONTENT – have some interesting things to say. Put it onto your homebase, whether it’s a blog or a website, and make some of your  Twitter and Facebook activities link to it. Sure, Facebook and Twitter use only short phrases or sentences  but you can use that to link to your blog where you give more detailed marketing commnunication. Keep in  mind that many modern consumers can simply look at a website anywhere – that includes instore. Instant links – even instore. You can drive people to your blog or website by providing a website and hoping they take the time to key it into their phone. That’s a big hope, even though URL shorteners such as “Tinyurl” and “” will increase your chances.

But why not an application that draws them into your world? A company called has developed an approach called ‘the mobile wine experience’. This mobile tagging technology is within the cost reach of even small wineries. Put simply, a visual logo (could be the winery logo) is developed with dots that function in the same way as a bar code. The user of any iPhone, iPad, Android or Windows phone simply downloads a free app, then scans the neck tag, or label with their camera-phone.

Download the FREE app @ Then:
 The consumer then is taken to purpose built creative that is directly tailored to the consumer the brand is  attempting to reach. It can contain information about the wine, highly complex tasting notes or approachable descriptors for the market. Wine recipes (see example) and food matching can be given- the consumer can
even be shown a promotional piece of audio/video that is hosted (free of charge) on Content can be matched to the language of your marketplace (see example of Chinese creative).
Beyond the basic  legal requirements, you may need to do less re-bottling or oversticking. You can engage with the consumer market how you intend to – in ways they appreciate and can understand. Just like Facebook, don’t presume you are targeting Gen Y – think of those you know over 40 that have iPhones, iPads, and other ‘smart’  devices that just might love the opportunity to have a simple use for them that in turn brings them closer to  your wine brand. If you want further details on this approach email  the developers are Adelaide based MBA students.

Taking the consumer to the winery

These same phones can also be used to enhance – and help direct – the wine tour experience for your customers. Did you know your winery might already exist as a location on any number of geotagging sites? Recently even Facebook has included places to their armoury, but previously the early adopters had been using Foursquare or Gowalla. So as a winery this is yet another way that people can be talking about you. You can check in daily or get your staff to do so. Your customers may be watching. You can make comments or leave tips and, importantly, connect with the customers you have who have already done so.
You might work together to create a “yellow brick road” approach to wine tourism. For instance at the Crush 2010 festival in January, we checked into each winery we attended throughout the day, using Foursquare, finishing up back at the Business School. At each site we could see who was there – and so could anybody else. It was another way for visitors to interact. The tourists were using the online social media to add value to a real life community. As a marketer in one of these wineries you might offer an incentive to encourage checking in by your customers – perhaps a free glass, vertical flight or a cheese sample. In Foursquare you
can enter that as a tip - why not become a part of your customer’s space? It just might increase the likelihood of them enjoying being in your space – and spending money.

Great SA Wine Adventure

Recently, The Qwoff Boys and SA Tourism created just such an experience. If you’re a South Australian Winery you can start right now. They’ve called it the Great South Australian Wine Adventure and it launched in November 2010. In this more structured approach, wineries are able to enter the program and gain a listing within their region for a fairly modest fee. A tourist, planning to visit a range of wineries on a day can then choose a winery, based on the listing that appears on their phone, iPad, or even on a PC before they leave. So, if we’re going to visit the Adelaide Hills, here’s the page we’d see:

When we’re on our tour we can check into the various wineries, leave a message or a tip and collect our reward from the winery. If we visited Howard Vineyard, we’d receive a glass of wine and a
homemade truffle, at Shaw and Smith it’s an exclusive tasting of aged Riesling. Stay awake to the world of possibilities So, our message is simple. Don’t ignore the possibilities of the online world. An often told story is that 50% of advertising is wasted, and the trick is in understanding which half that is.

The good news is that it won’t take you a large ad budget or expensive website to run the experiment. Most of the initiatives we have suggested come at no charge or for less than the price of a single ad in a glossy magazine. In later articles we will discuss the measurement of your social media campaigns and give you an
idea of how you might understand the return your investment is giving you. In the meantime take the plunge, have the fun of experimenting with social media and these new tools to engage with your customers – not just to build a virtual community but to really make a difference into where your brand fits, who knows about it
and importantly, who buys it!

Steve Goodman is senior lecturer in marketing and program director higher degrees by research. Cullen Habel is lecturer in marketing, both at the University of Adelaide Business School. Their research involves wine choice, supply chain decision making, social and new media and market modelling in both domestic and
international wine markets.

They are currently supervising a number of Honours and PhD Students in wine related topics of tourism, cellar
door servicescape, organic consumption, social media and management strategy – if you’d like to be kept updated or become involved drop them an email to or

The Deer Hunter: Mental Toughness

I saw this movie on a plane a month ago. I had watched it in about 1981 when we - as a family - first got a VCR. It was a tough movie back then. Setting aside a little gripe I have about racist stereotypes it was a great movie about how the Vietnam war affected a tight group of friends in a small town.

A human story that had three guys eventually going to Vietnam and all sorts of shit going down, the thing that I see now is the incredible mental and emotional toughness of the De Niro character. There is relevence in the "gun to the head" pose there. A quite, loving guy who never, ever gave up on his friends. It really wasn't a story about the Vietnam war - but  it was the first to come, in about 1976. Except for that John Wayne abonination "The Green Berets" in the early 1970s - due respect to Mr Wayne. To follow was "Casualties of War" with Michael J Fox and "Platoon" with Willem Dafoe. Unless of course you include MASH which was notionally about Korea but really was a vietnam protest movie.

Still, Mike - the Deer Hunter - is one of my favourite war movie heroes. Oh, and then there's Hawkeye Pierce, both from MASH the movie and the series.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Interruptive ads give higher recall and slightly higher brand liking

OK then. Cut through can come from creative, but also from media placement. My honours student, Ervin Sim, is in the final stages of pinning it down.

Ervin did it with a Facebook page, manipulating repetition and integration, but the Advertiser app has similar thing going on.

Low integration a standard banner ad:

High integration is where your stream gets interrupted by a complete page.

We'll have some results for you soon.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Woolies strengthens our relationship by helping me out

So the boy writes "moisturising body oil" on the shopping list. Normally I just crack a tantrum and refuse to buy, as I had no idea what he meant.

But Edan had got a sample of it somehow and asked for it. But before I donned my "Doctor Rant" persona I thought I'd check if the Woolworth's app had an answer. After i keyed the words in apparently so:

So I picked it up on today's shop. And it was exactly what Edan had had in mind.

Everybody wins. The manufacturer sells a product, consumer solves the problem, Woolies acts as part of the solution.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

"Doggy bag" or not for restaurants is a marketing and a legal decision

Having been close to the food industry in the past I have watched this for a while. I've come to the view that when a restaurant allows you to take your unfinished meal portion home with you (or doesn't) they're simply making a choice about their total product. It all goes into the mix with how quickly they serve you, how good the food is, the price, location, parking etc to build the entire picture. I think only some of them get that too.

I understand the technical problem. Geez, I was the Cryovac rep to Garibaldi when their Salami put 20 kids in hospital. The sorts of illness one can create from mishandling food are deadly. So restaurants have a legal issue - they can't control how people treat the food. If someone gets sick once they take it away yet there is certainly a lawyer who'll take the job. Restaurants also have a marketing problem. A person who gets sick after eating three day old cream pasta will still have originally bought it from "restaurant x" and that's a marketing problem, however you see it:

But it's also a marketing problem to not give the customer the product they want. It's hilarious to read:

'Flower Drum general manager Jason Lui says customers rarely ask for doggy bags and those who are refused ''are generally pretty good about it'''.

Good for you, flower drum general manager, so your customers don't make a scene in your restaurant when they make a request and you decline. Okey dokety. Let's not call that customer satisfaction. And your legal problems? I'm not sure the customer cares. And I'm not sure that customer necessarily leaves with the intention of "I'd like to take the family there each month". But that may not be your positioning.

Consumers have many needs, and they're a product of all their experiences to date, and the legends they bring. My extended family tells stories of the grandfather so hungry back in the home country that once he had to strain the horse manure for undigested corn. In this country of plenty, not taking the leftovers reeks of excess, as when Tom Hanks sighed with sadness at the wasted banquet food in Castaway.

I saw a blog comment that said "asking for a doggy bag is akin to having the ass out of your pants" but I don't agree. Given that I can produce a great meal (with leftovers) for my family of five for $10, doing the same thing at a restaurant for $100 is a real hit to our family cashflow. If I'm making my $10 effort go as far as I can, I'm sure as anything going to try to do the same with my $100 effort.

Leaving aside the obvious reaction one might have to being told they can't be trusted with food, there's one other thing I can think of. Aside from a mind-blowing June visit to l'atelier in Paris, my best restaurant experience was at Chianti Classico with my wife about five years ago. I know now that it was Maria Favaro who served us and she seems to be there at every open hour.

I had ordered - and fully consumed a slow cooked half rabbit. It was brilliant, on the bone. I made the passing comment to Maria that if I had been eating this at home I would save all of the bones and make it into a brilliant stock on the next day. With absolutely no issue, those bones were packed up into foil and given back to me, and Maria said that that's how her chefs feel about the food they cook. I actually felt a little like a part of the family and not some tight-ass that was trying to save some money.

I think of Chianti as the best restaurant in Adelaide.

So the whole "doggy bag" issue is a marketing as well as a legal issue. And whilst the benefits of going the safe route might seem obvious, the costs are less obvious. Non returning customers rarely tell you why they haven't come back.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, October 15, 2011

iOS 5 makes a play for more content control with "Newstand"

Well I watched it happening with the software and I watched the talk about it.

Murdoch a year ago indicated that he wanted us - consumers - to be charged for digital newspaper content that we have become accustomed to getting for free.

About August I loaded up the Advertiser Sunday Mail app and was very impressed. I'd be happy enough to pay $10 a month for it.

But I'd also heard that Apple wouldn't be happy. So a nice benign little app on the new iOS 5 called "Newstand"looks like it would like to do for print what iTunes did for music.

At the moment there's a lot of free providers there and why would News limited migrate their content to Apple's platform? Oh, that's right. Apple can just shut News Limited's apps down.

This will be interesting.

And on the 4S launch:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, October 14, 2011

Leatherbound 23: The path to failure a fork in the road and some bad behaviour?

A brash and judgemental note of mine from 14 years ago. I still more or less stand by it but I think there's a lot of room for compassion. More, I suppose, than I was showing in this little entry.

Leatherbound 22: Alan Alda's MASH as a set of moral lessons for my youth

One might laugh. This had to be written about 1996. Even as I reflect on the title I squirm, but the things I drew from it - well they seemed to make sense:

Meat prices going down and Coles using it to compete?

A few months ago I wrote a post about banana prices and lamb prices. I have got around to talking about what's going on in the supermarket wars lately but I will over the next few weeks. My "Management of Brands" students might appreciate me doing that.

Anyhoo, one of the latest battlefields in the supermarket wars has been that of fresh red meat. Now that is fertile ground for game playing. The processing quality and food safety of red meat in Australia is top class. But just because it's safe and well processed, it doesn't mean that there's no room for game playing - fully legal.

Let me take the first shot.

The market price of red meat is down, naturally.
As posted by a clever blogger on a news limited article

  • "Snupples of Wimmera, VIC Posted at 9:13 AM September 30, 2011
    Don't let Coles, Woolies and the pathetic reporting fool you. The price of lamb is going down anyway. Farmers are getting paid less at the markets as is the regular seasonal adjustment. Price goes down in Summer and goes up when it's wet. It's just that they don't tell you about it until now when they are trying to fool you into thinking they are actually HELPING you :-P"

  • What can I add to professor Snupples' point? Other than I told you that lamb prices were on their way down. No biggie.

    How's about:

    Have you ever heard of "cracker cow"?
    Those dear old souls, generally up in Queensland or Victorian Dairying country - some out at Murray Bridge and Jervois. They give us milk for ten or so years but eventually get tired. And yes - beef (of sorts) is a biproduct of dairy food, just as mutton is a biproduct of wool. So these lovely old dairy girls go to a meatworks. Most of the meat gets simply frozen and sent to the US for manufacturing - not even good enough for a hamburger pattie - so it gets finely chopped, mixed with soy protein (extender) and put into things that are often referred to as "manufactured meat". I'm not being ghoulish - it's just what happens.

    But here's where some game playing can happen. Now, both a yearling (very young and tender) and a cracker cow are the same animal - they have all the same muscles in the same places. It is fully legal - and not dishonest - to take a rump from a cracker cow and sell it in the supermarket. Most of daisy has gone to America frozen in a box but the premium cuts (fillet, sirloin, rump, scotch) get pulled out, vacuum packed and sent down here. Now I don't know what's going onto the Coles shelves but somebody from Woolies was "dog-whistling" I think when they called it a desperate move, and said:

    Woolworths said it sourced beef only "from the 'young beef' and 'prime beef' categories".
    "Our competitors have a broader specification and will also source beef from categories that we believe are inferior quality," a Woolworths spokeswoman said.

    Dust fed, Grass Fed, Grain Fed
    Like it or not, feeding cattle on grain improved the quality of the meat. Like in a crazy way.Often when one buys quality beef it's had 30 or 60 days on grain. I would get some great Teys blue out of Naracoorte, or Clare Valley Gold out of T&R Pastoral, about 90 days grain fed - brilliant. A butcher who's buying stuff so he has quality in his chiller - he sort of knows this. Plenty of the Woolies stuff looks like it has seen some grain too - you can tell when it's on the tray.
    Sometimes the beef have to make do with grass fed - less cholestorol but (I'm sorry to say) not as good a steak. And sometimes what is referred to as grass fed is, well they just have to make do and some of that land can be dusty and inhospitable.

    A Jersey is not a Wagyu
    Some breeds are made to be eaten. A big part of the live cattle heartache we're having is because the Brahman breed we had eartagged for Indonesia is - well - not to our taste. So I'm not sure what is on the shelf at Coles, but there is such a thing as "eating cattle".

    I'll still be buying some Coles meat, though.
    I have no reason to think it won't be any good. I had some pork (a whole onther story) from there last week and it was absolutely brilliant. I just know that there are all sorts of ways that you can pay twice as much for a piece of meat that is called exactly the same thing (rump, scotch, fillet) and it's worth the money.

    But the big picture is that the price was coming down anyway, and that is convenient for Coles.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    $9 must be my trigger for bananas

    Well at least after ten or so months of them being above $10.

    Throw in a bit of left to right pricing ($8.98 instead of $9) and the odd recent question from my wife about why her "bananas" item went unfulfilled off the list and I've weakened.

    I've seen a few "make those bodies sing" ads recently and when Edan (my boy) asked me why they're advertising and I thought about it. Aha, here comes the supply, and people are out of the habit of bananas - best remind them that they like bananas.

    Me - the best bananas I ever had were in the village of Naduli on the Kokoda track. The guides were eating them by the hand, little lady fingers. I was exhausted, had two hands and then felt like I could take on the world. Then back to reality and three more days of hump.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Passing the dying climber on the way to the summit

    I've rarely been able to simply block everything out and concentrate purely things that will benefit me.

    In a game of squash at 9-9 and the ball got stuck in the roof I was helping get it down while my opponent simply gathered his thoughts. When I should be writing my own things, a colleague who wants a hand with some numbers tends to get my help. I think my wife has a similar character trait.

    I don't think - short term - this serves me well. Still, there are many things about me that don't serve me well.

    But I'm not sure I am prepared to change it. I recall a story of a climber who sat dying on Everest while other climbers filed past him on their way to the summit. They all felt justified in their behaviour - "his problem, he was poorly prepared" - and they may be justified.

    But I'm not sure I can be that type of person. I wonder where that will lead me?

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Leatherbound 21: Know yourself as you go into battle

    Ah. Nice to get an entry from 15 years ago that totally squares with what I think now. The greatest strength one can have is to know oneself, the greatest courage is to attack oneself. The only spot in this one where I made a mistake is where I said "we all work towards it". I could have said "I'm not there, but I'm trying, Ringo.."

    Jules Winnfield's conversion (from Pulp Fiction)

    [to Ringo] There's this passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee." I been saying that shit for years. And if you heard it, that meant your ass. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was some cold-blooded shit to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this morning made me think twice. See, now I'm thinking, maybe it means you're the evil man, and I'm the righteous man, and Mr. 9 millimeter here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is, you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm trying, Ringo. I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd.

    Ringo learnt by the end that he'd had a lucky escape. This was the second before Jules turned the tables on Ringo and pierced him with his cold toughness.

    I can't go into that meeting hungry = snickers

    For me, Snickers now owns that piece of my mind. A 7.30am meeting today that would run to 9.30, I'd only managed to get two black coffees into me. Five minutes to go ran downstairs to the 7day supermarket. At least a chocolate bar will raise my blood sugar and I won't get angry or faint. Let's set aside the obvious issue about my gross mistreatment of my body.

    So at the point of decision:

    Snickers it was. Because I didn't want to play like Betty White

    Or act all angry like Joe Pesci

    And Snickers had managed to occupy that solution in my mind.

    Well played, sir.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Problem solving after the fact is always easy

    I keep a piece of wire on my desk to remind me how tiny things can be heartstopping. And how the small guys sometimes save the day but are rarely recognised for it.

    Picture a lamb boning room, cutting about six head of lamb per minute - that gives about 36 main cuts (plus extras) if you're breaking the animal in the most basic way. The meat just keeps coming at you, and somehow it needs to get into a bag, then sealed then into a box and out of the room.

    And the guys cutting the meat don't like to stop - the tally system means they lose money if they get held up. When you're the cause of a stoppage the whole room waits, knowing they're losing money, steeling up their already very sharp knives.

    13 years ago I was the sales guy who had a pretty complex machine in there, which promised to take about 12 cuts per minute out of their flow. A marvel of technology, one simply needed to put the meat on a green conveyor and it popped out the other end, shrink wrapped. Different length cuts, bang bang bang up to 25 packs per minute.

    Until the machine stops.

    Then the meat begins to pile up. While I'm frantically changing a roll of film, or a sealing band. And the guys won't stop. They even seemed to go faster when I was in trouble.

    Well at one stage the machine began to simply trip out. It would stop, for no apparent reason. I'd fiddle with it and then it would start again but I didn't know why. The nearest service guy (tech) to help me was four hours drive away.

    The machine would run for a day, then stop. My boss told me to not leave Bordertown - at all - until to problem was solved.

    The problem looked like it was servo motors, sensors, power spikes, anything.

    It ended up being this - a $3 piece of wire that had broken and was giving an intermittent connection.

    My buddy, Steve Reid, a maintenance service guy at the time eventually found it and was the first to ever say to me "all faultfinding is easy once it's been done".

    Too right.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

    Leatherbound 20: Four levels of knowledge

    I probably over-reached in my statement about how Universities only value explicit knowledge, but it was 15 years ago. And a few years ago an American politician got ridiculed for talking about "known unknowns".

    Why Wonka didn't take off for ten years

    So now I have the picture, fully. I had always wondered about how the original Willy Wonka movie ran about ten years before the brand got big. Check my post from March:

    A surprise for what seemed to be such a brilliant exercise in product placement.

    Well I have it now. Thanks to talking about insane funding schemes I found out that the movie really was a placement exercise, with the original brand owner being Quaker Oats.

    The problem? The chocolate bar was quickly recalled because it tasted bad. My guess? The brand languished for about ten years, then clever little Nestle bought it, and capitalised on the brand's mind share.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    "Bud bashing" in spring: a parallel sometimes

    Every year when I do a spring prune of the vines I think of the parallels in life.

    The job is to remove all the shoots that either won't bear fruit or aren't part of the shape you want for the vine.

    So when you're working quickly you try to make every cut the right one. One needs to be brutal, and decisive, or you'll never get the job done.

    But every now and again you cut the wrong branch. You're holding a piece of green with a big set of buds on it but you'd lapsed concentration, not seen the buds, any number of things. Oh well, move on. I won't kill the plant, it was just an opportunity missed.

    We often do that in life as we have to make decisions about how much energy we put into certain friends, colleagues, functions, customers, employers etc. (and if you think you're not making that sort of a decision then I envy you).

    And all we can do is learn from the cuts we shouldn't have made and make the most of where we are now. And recognise that mostly, there's little cause for regret - in the long run.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

    We are all broadcasters now: Emelia Rusciano drops her guard

    Bad luck with that. Social media lays out traps for us all. Every FB post, certainly every blog or tweet is prey for a tabloid or defamation case.

    She's coming to do a six week stint on SAFM, did all the standard press last week about how she loves Adelaide, but let her guard down on Facebook when she said "god no I'm not moving my family to Adelaide, what a punishment". SAFM are trying to hose it now. I'd call it a fifty percenter whether she gets on.

    Gee, I don't care what Emelia thinks about Adelaide, but you can read the article here. But it is a little reminder, we are all broadcasters, all the time. I hope she gets out of it. I feel we all deserve a cheap lesson with this, especially with something so benign.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    Leatherbound 19: Those who speak don't know ....

    Those who speak don't know, those who know don't speak.

    This message to my kids from 1996 had its echoes a few years later when I became a skydiver. When a new person would ask "what's it like" most experienced skydivers just say "I can't tell you, just do a jump". And the more verbose version:

    "To those who haven't skydived, no explanation is possible. To those who have jumped, no explanation is necessary"

    And here's my buddy Paul Newbery introducing another person to the world of those who know. I want to get out with those guys again. I suppose the only reason I stopped at the time was to finish a PhD. That was done four years ago.

    Only other parallel - when I walked out into the sun after Sylvia had borne us our first child I looked at a bloke - any bloke - on the street with his kid and though "oh I see, he's a part of the club". It lasted a few days.

    But my brain was still in Japanese culture land when I wrote this for my kids. And typically brash and too quick to judge some of the politicians of the day, as well.