Thursday, February 28, 2013

Real people playing real music

At a Blues Brothers show tonight. Eleven people putting together some entertainment.  How much fun is that?

And like this. Jake and Elwood go to get one of their band, who's now running a grill with his wife. She reads him the riot act. But by the middle of the song, the music is so good that Jake and Elwood simply end up as part of the chorus line.

Someone once said that the great songs were about the music (Sultans of Swing, Piano Man) and that's a big call. But perhaps the great musicals are about the music.

So Ray starts up some music to show them that the old keyboard still has some lid in it, and the whole street joins in. As fantasy movies go, they could be worse than this.

How to upload a video to YouTube

I laid this down for my students recently and it may be useful for my blog readers:

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Monday, February 25, 2013

The Waifs: Telling stories of Australia and the World

I visited quite a few friends who were living in London, and stayed with Londoners just a walk from Camden Market. This tells a beautiful story of homesickness coupled with the adventure of living away

And this cocky little song about keeping it together

And this story of ww2 Perth girls who fell in love with American sailors and left to live in America. This one is heart wrenching, and I suggest you listen to it with no vision first. The words really tell the story

Paul Kelly tells great stories about Australia. Missy Higgins amazed me with "The Sound of White" and The Waifs are amazing, too.

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Be ambitious for the higher gifts

I spoke about this in an earlier post about lost friends and a prayer. At a funeral I heard "a real man has love in his heart". 23 years ago at our wedding, Sylvia and myself agreed on this reading. Truer - for me - today than ever:

A reading from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians 12:31- 13:8
If I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

Be ambitious for the higher gifts. And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.

If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.

If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all.

If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Skydiving: A nice form of normal

It's a world where hanging off the strut of a plane is just another thing you might do on a day. To be honest it looks a lot more clever than it really is, but I hadn't done it before and if a buddy is gonna point a camera at you, then why waste it?

But as I spend a little more time back in the sport, I realise that I have missed this form of normal. It's hard to get too excited about many of the things that others find important when - in my own time - I can do some of these other things and mix with others who like to do them too.

It's not about adrenaline - it's a set of very technical skills and a combination of technology and art. It really is a nice form of normal.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pizza hut, you can **** off

Just quietly, with something as mundane as ordering a pizza, I didn't expect I'd need an IT degree. I've persisted with your site, but you've frustrated me. Your offers are good but I can't ******* order! Many "not recognised" responses. Screw that.

I have some skills with IT stuff, so if I'm confused, I humbly suggest that a few other customers may be confused too.

So it makes more sense for me to say that I will not order again from Pizza Hut. What a shame. Everything else was so good. No I don't want to call the store, I don't want to call your 1300 line. I wanted to order online and then go pick it up.


My boy tells me Dominos does it better. Whatever.

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The abuser and the abused: both victims.

On the way to cricket this morning, talking with Mr 9 about learning times tables.
Thoughts of beloved Nana who drilled me on the 7x - there is a place for rote.
And then an embarrassing memory fragment. A reflection that those who build the social system have a case to answer.

When I was seven, a teacher had set up a classroom challenge. Two teams, one kid at a time would choose a kid fro the other team and ask a question. As a competitive little kid I'd pick the weakest kid and the hardest question.
"Brett Sellick, six plus eight"

The kid's embarrassment and alienation was barely relevant to me as I was pleased to win another point for my team. Over and over. I have many regrets and that's not the top of the list, but it's there.
No biggie, but I see the adult version of this very often. And from adults who should know better. A social system that makes good people do bad things, or at least stand by while bad things are done. This scars everybody. For sure, the bullies and abusers are doing bad things but what about those who build the environment?

I made my peace some years ago with a young guy, Jack, from high school but some embarrassments we just have to live with. One day, maybe, I'll see Brett.

UPDATE: Funny that, later in the day Mr 9 said "you've done some dirty stuff too dad. Remember the maths challenge?" Yeh buddy. My life is full of regrets. That's one of them.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Labor supporters should be unhappy with The Greens

Joe Hildebrand - creator of the ABC's "Dumb Drunk and Racist" makes his feelings clear:

And I think two things are worth repeating:

"The Greens" don't have a monopoly on caring for the environment
Many of the things Labor has done to trash its own credibility were done to please the greens.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Skydive love of life: Lost friends and a prayer

This is not meant to be melodramatic or histrionic. I've held back for two weeks and wish to do this with the greatest respect.

I know I could do this better with photo quality but this is a stream of consciousness about lost friends, new and old. I met Jeff about 10am on Feb 8, and lost him about 4.30pm. In that six hours the guy was larger than life, passionate and sharing a day with his son and other friends (new and old) who loved doing the same thing as him. He became a better friend in six hours than many others I've met over five years.


I was at his funeral today and one quote hit me the most:

"A real man has love in his heart."

I could see that with Jeff, but then I see that with many people I see in skydiving. More than anywhere else. He loved to jump, and the last words we had were when he was telling everyone to get their gear on and get in the plane. Then the handshake before exit. Here's Jeff on an earlier jump (courtesy "Adelaide Now").

And this reminds me of another friend I lost, over ten years ago. This photo of Robbie Hollis has been on my fridge since about 2001 when I took it at a boogie.
Bottom left clockwise - Robbie Hollis, Matt Hill, Steve Cash, Damien Winstanley, Mark Gazley. We were students and novices together and he died at Nagambie in (I think) 2003. Earlier days below (around 2002) where we did a demo jump into the South Parklands for the Skydive Ball. 
Robbie top left, me bottom right. Good times. A whole bunch of other great faces. Also on my fridge for the last 12 years.

I've only just got back into the sport so this is a rocky return. But when I'm at a DZ I know that everyone there loves the same thing, and in a way it's an unbridled freedom, a passionate love of life.

So with both Jeff and Robbie I know they both had love in their heart. A love of the sport, but a love of many other things, and people. They were real men. And I hope, always (rough as I am), to be able to say the same for myself. That's my prayer.

Me and Julio: "lighten up!"

Such a cool song about the furore that erupts when the singer of the song gets caught with his Hispanic mate, presumably smoking dope. It's cheeky, funny and energetic. The mum runs down to the cop shop in her pajamas, dad goes ape shit, it becomes a national scandal that ends up on the cover of a hard hitting news mag.

I like the one above - nice to see and hear Garfunkel in there but the original studio version - below - is still fresh and fun.

This song - as with so many others of S&G - reflects the 1960s, both in attitude and in style. In this case the message was "the oldies should lighten up" and the fun is infectious.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rocky Horror: Kevin Rudd coming out of the freezer

The current talk of our erstwhile PM having another tilt at the leadership (a "Lazarus with a triple bypass" event) is being referred to as "coming out of the freezer". My store of useless images and connections made me think of Eddie in the Rocky Horror picture show.

Gruesome end, beware, but I love the energy of the song and the romance between Eddie and Columbia. So I used this excuse to post it.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Grumpy email to a helpdesk

A voice capture and send application on the ipad. Be wary of "Quickvoice" until you hear more. Let's see how they go with it:

I loaded up your free version because I wanted to send a message. Found out it had a 5M limit so decided to pay the money for the full app. I laid down a voice file that was 9 minutes long - about 17mb - and when I tried to email it there was a server error saying the file is too big.

Now I have no way to get the night's work done as I have a ten minute file that I trusted you would capture and send. Do you have any suggestions about how to fix this?

Let's see.

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US, Russia, China, France, Spain, Ukraine and Australia

How cool. Readers from all around the world. And I hope to say, friends. There was a time when I could see, from this map, where those who hate me were currently residing.

But I have more readers now and think, hope, it's all different. And it's great to talk to you.

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Clever malapropism: Position is nine tenths of the law.

John Lamb was talking about growing stone fruit and where to put it in the garden:

"Position is nine tenths of the law"

No that's a clever play on words. A deliberate malapropism.

An not as droll as the earlier one where they were talking about "lintels, not lentils" where John mentioned that "surely the announcer is not a 'has been' (bean)" arf. Yes, I got it.

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Faking it till you make it is still faking it

I've always believed in acting as you wish to be while you're working towards it. As a shy teenager I simply realised that not acting shy was the best route to not being shy.

There's some truth to the saying. But it has its limits. One needs to honestly be working on improving themselves in the direction that one is faking.

On another note - I love the Wizard of Oz. I love it because it's a story about a journey, friends encountered along the way, friends who each have their failings but are loved within the group. A story of empowerment (one of the first female heroes of the modern era), and about reality vs image.

I don't know the deep details of the story but the band of new friends take a road trip to see the Wizard - an all powerful one who is believed to have huge power to affect others' lives. A belief the Wizard encourages.

They eventually see a quirky man of short stature, more bent than them, behind a curtain, pulling levers and transforming his voice into a booming thunder through a microphone and amplifier.

And so back to my point. "fake it till you make it" has some natural limits. Many times, the booming authority you are hearing is a little man behind a curtain.

If you try to "fake it till you make it" for too long all you're left with is the faking. And then you're paralysed by the fear that you'll be discovered. It represents a downward spiral that can turn a good person into a sneaky and undermining political animal.

The antidote - honesty. With yourself and with the people around you. Don't become the man behind the curtain.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Sometimes you just meet an amazing person

I get it sometimes. I have the chance to move in some pretty broad circles. Sometimes I meet some incredible people - the real deal. I once had an MBA student who was a test pilot for the RAAF. He knew it was cool, had a healthy ego, but was just an incredibly nice guy. Or the small business guy, travels the world, employs a half a dozen people, still surfs once a week.

Another, recently. Sportsman of all sorts, outdoor education teacher. Just amazingly nice.

Sometimes you meet people who just don't need to pretend. And that's really, really encouraging. Inspiring.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Put a fold in the edge of darkness..

About two years ago I saw this clip on TV, on the now defunct "Good News Week". It shone a light on a battle I'd been fighting for a couple of years and helped me really think about what was important to me. I'm sure I've posted it earlier but still..

The song gave me hope then, and makes me smile now.

Every time I watch this, it gives me something new. Sure, Paul is happy to take centre stage, but he brings everyone in the house along with him. Every person in that centre felt like a rock star, and everyone on the stage looked, and sounded like one. If you wanted to make this the statement of your life - in your words and you delivered them - you could do no better than this.

Who'd be an apex predator?

It's telling that the largest animals in the world have a fairly mundane diet. Whales eat plankton, elephants and rhinoceros eat predominantly vegetation. It doesn't mean they're docile.

While for the rock stars of the animal kingdom:

When conditions get harsh in a region, apex predators are usually the first to die off, because they are more likely to starve by being unable to find prey than prey is likely to starve from being unable to find its own food, like smaller prey or plants.

And a clever blogger from four years ago:

..This is like saying if the sharks are starving, that means the fish aint doing well. If the sharks are eating each other, then you know things are bad.

So, I thought, lets look at our economic ecosystem and sure enough, the apex predators are starting to hurt. is keeping a tally of all the big lawfirm lawoffs that are occurring right now. It also mentions how some firms are not giving raises to their first year associates (who make $180,000/year). (Pediatricians with 7 more years of education get about 80K!)

So in the metaphor of life, perhaps being the rock star is not the answer. The nastiest behaviour I've ever seen is not from the lower downs, but the higher ups. And they're not pursuing greatness. There's a desperation, a fear, that if I don't kill and eat this piece of prey I might starve.

Just sayin

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Malapropism: Taint/paint

I heard a sports commentator just then talking about how all sports codes were being similarly tarnished under the recent "drugs in sport" report.

"They're all being tainted with the same brush"

A very economic use of words because if you think about it - it makes sense. I'm not sure the cleverness was deliberate, though.

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"About a boy": a story of redemption and humanity

I heard "killing me softly" just then, which features in the slightly cheesy movie "about a boy" from 2002.

A pretty cool story and "About a boy" could easily be about the 35 year old man boy who's never had to work a day in his life, or Marcus who's having trouble in school.

Here, Marcus is doing a song at a school concert to please his mum (who just doesn't see the yawning abyss) while Hugh Grant knows that the kid is headed for social annihilation.

So a man boy who's never taken that hard route is forced to grow up and be there for a friend, when it counts. An example of the pretty common event of a kid redeeming a man and the lovely (rare) movie where all the relationships are non romantic.

I could happily watch this movie every single night, and Toni Collette - too - shows just what brilliance is.

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Friday, February 8, 2013

It's what we make of them

One thing's for sure. The sun will rise tomorrow. As my wife says, the only thing we can change is what it means to us.

Not every day - but at least sometimes - a sunrise should mean something other than another day on the hamster wheel. Something to look forward to, a chance to step above the grind.

Today a friend of mine celebrates 25 years in skydiving and I'm headed out to the dropzone to celebrate with him. That's what today's sunrise means.

I can celebrate catching up, again, with old friends I haven't seen for ten years.

Web retail: don't return errors

I tweeted that @cullenofadelaid should get a life but there is more to this. Pizza Hut sent us a set of vouchers the other day. I thought I'd register as an online customer. Whatever. As well as being cumbersome to build the account - lots of finicky computer style field requirements - it wouldn't start up this morning.

Now, for sure, I can see what has happened. It's 5.30amon a Friday. The shops aren't open so my logging in to order has made the sales package see "no store open" and halted the transaction.

To the IT People, it makes sense. But the marketers should be concerned. In this case it is a user who is interested to see how a new system will work for him, and testing it in some downtime. He will be driving back from Langhorne Creek at 6pm tonight and wants his system to run cleanly. And the Pizza Hut online system looks buggy.

Never presume what the customer might be doing and don't let your IT people fashion your marketing messages, even by accident.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Stealing the moments: If you don't take them you won't get them

Had a beer with a buddy, a successful local businessman, and I asked him "do you still get to surf much?".

"As a matter of fact, I went for one this morning", he'd got off a plane from Sydney the night before, slept a bit picked his mate up at 4.30am, waited for the sun to come up at Middleton and went to work.

Well fuck me. Still had time to have a beer with me in the afternoon. What a legend.

If you don't take that time for yourself nobody will give it to you. And nobody will know that you went without it so you could do a job that's on their list.

I might do some skydives tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A letter to "Robert": stay strong

Robert, you've caught a few tough breaks. You're out of work at the moment. Your ex employer is playing games on a job you feel you should have and the union acts like it's helping but I always doubt that.

Buddy it happens. Not in the recent memory (15 years) of any Australian have times been this tough but this is nothing new. In 1991/2 I had no idea what I would do. 24 years old and thinking I'd never work again. I've since have 20 years of an amazing life, and it happened as quickly as September 1993. It was tough, but I didn't give up.

I'm not giving up now and neither should you. Stay strong. These things come and go. They become war stories for you, and it changes to good just as quickly as it changed to bad.

Stay strong.

Monday, February 4, 2013

To be really educated is to be aware of how little you know

Karl Popper said it:

“I believe that someone is well-educated only if he realizes in great detail how little he knows. And I think that this is really very important. I think that a man who has the feeling that he knows a lot is somehow badly educated. Yes, one can know a lot…but the main point, at least with regard to pure knowledge, is to recognize the many open problems that lurk in all the knowledge that we have achieved. Without that l would say that you are not really educated…And the more we know and the more our knowledge grows, the more modest we should become about all those things that we don’t know.”

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fango a first, of sorts?

Seven is out of the blocks with their second screen app. Interesting. Twitter hashtags have been the big method for people to talk about the tv they're watching, Miso a little less so. And the networks will probably attest to how hard it is to get a hashtag trending for their own show.

Last week, Edan asked me to load up this app, which is meant to be real time competitions and chat. I just opened it just then, to have a look.

It's strategically clever, especially as seven have a great resource to sell it - their own tv ads. I will watch with interest.

I'd love to see comments below on any other second screen initiatives you've seen.

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

My friend Robert East

In my time I've done some stuff that's a little interesting to marketers, especially some branches of consumer behaviour. In particular I put forward a functional form for the double jeopardy line (many thanks to Dr Cam Rungie and Prof Larry Lockshin) and tested it against three competing models, as well as tangibilising growth patterns in the context of the world famous Dirichlet model.

Anyhoo, lovely to get an email from my friend Robert East:

Dear colleague
Your work is featured in a research-based textbook designed for the post-graduate market and for those taking CB electives in first degrees. Consumer Behaviour: Applications in Marketing (2nd Ed) is authored by myself, Malcolm Wright and Marc Vanhuele.

It won't tick any boxes with any university employer, but...

It's always nice to see Robert and Malcolm. And I've never met Marc. But life just rolls along and these things just accumulate. It's nice to know good people in lots of places around the world.

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A Godfather's end: Give me a tomato garden

For all the horrible things he did in his life and his near misses, it was the ultimate unfairness that Vito Corleone died of a heart attack playing chasy in his tomato garden with his grandson. Peaceful, in nature with family he loved.
Every weekend day in summer as I drift into at least an hour of tending my tomatoes I hope that one day - not too soon - my end may be similar.