Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A man of honour leaves the fray

Martin Ferguson is the type of guy that it's now popular to mock. Over 50 in a suit, relating to things the young people joke about as "old school". His voice is not pretty - he's been derided as "Mar'n". But soon enough we're there, and if we're worth anything at all we're trying to do good.

From an unpopular blogger:

I first knew Ferguson when he did me a great courtesy, despite not knowing me personally but knowing I was a conservative. He warned me about a smear campaign being run by a colleague, and said he would judge me as he found me and not as people advertised me.

I will never forget how he behaved, and everything I’ve seen of him since confirms for me he is a man of honour. I may have disagreed with him at times, but I’ve never had the slightest reason to question his sincerity or his character. He is the kind of person who, if he contradicts you, makes you first re-examine your position before questioning his.

A very fine man.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, May 23, 2013

From the vault: Give me a Chickenhawk manager any day

Originally from 27/11/2010 (redacted slightly)
Chickenhawk is a book I'm reading at the moment

Gee I'm glad I only work in education and commercial market research, and I'm not flying Hueys in Vietnam, 1966. Bob Mason was; leaders well beyond their capabilities leading gaggles of 40 choppers "low and slow" over hostile villages. This simply bad leadership was killing pilots and crew. Machine gun nests setup amongst 100 women and children and having to decide to mow the lot down to to protect the 200 guys in your gaggle. Seeing friends die because their management decided they could "hold off" on chest protectors for pilots for a while. Bob describes his near death experience where time stopped:

"I tightened my stomach, like the bullets might bounce off. My arms tightened; my hands tightened. The rounds must not go through me. Of all things, my wristwatch stood vividly before me. How could I see my watch? I wasn't even looking at it. It was a gold, square faced Hamilton that my grandfather had left me. The second hand was not moving. At that moment, I could have unbuckled, opened the door, walked outside, had a smoke, and watched the flight frozen in the middle of the assault. I would be able to walk between the tracers and use one to light my cigarette. I saw the flight frozen there in mid-air. I saw myself braced for the shredding fire. It was almost funny. An explosive whoosh beside the cockpit caused the clock to run again. Smoking rockets followed the tracers to their source. They stopped, just like that. A Duke gunship had nailed that fucker with a rocket right down the stream of fire. I was saved."

That's a day at work.

I must remind myself "I'm not flying Hueys in Vietnam". Thank Christ. There are always issues, just that nobody is dying.

Another guy in another case: "you didn't do anything wrong"

"that's what you think. How would you feel if your best friend had just gotten killed and you couldn't even keep the fucking ship from crashing? See, he did the right thing even while he was dying. He set us up for the autorotation, but I just wasn't fast enough to save it."

The back note on the book is right: "the right stuff in the wrong war"

I wish 10% of the people today could be half as good as the worst of these guys. I wish I was a tenth as good.

I'm not flying Hueys in Vietnam. Thank god. I joke with my Vietnamese friends that if it was forty five years ago we'd be looking at each other through rifle scopes. And that's not funny at all.

The air cav had its share of cowards, idiots and mercenaries. But the general expectation seemed to be that people did what's right, and it would be noticed.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Loyalty: Last week vs This week

Wow. Last week I looked like a devoted Tip Top (George Weston) "The One" buyer. But this week I would've looked like a Goodman Fielder "Wonder White" lover.

Yeh for sure you're saying "but you're looking at price" but who on earth doesn't?  I'll tell you I'll jump at Molenberg or Helga's, at that reference price of about $3 - expecially that brilliant pumpkin seed bread.

But not $6 a loaf.

Tell me it's different for all other consumers. Sure your repertoire of brands may be different (size and brands) and your reasoning too but your behaviour? But perhaps you are one of the 5% who are 100% loyal to a single brand.

Marketers need to think about that. Perhaps the 100% loyal customer is like a mirage. When you eventually get there, their appeal disappears. Because the easiest way to look 100% loyal is to buy bugger all! A person who only buys bread once a month will bee 100% loyal in that month, no?

Let's do a deal. You chase the 100% loyal customers. I'll get a few sales frome everyone.  Let's see how we go.

To be an adult: No dropzone this weekend

The sun's out and the DZ is running - I'm sure. But for today I think I'll be here.
Punching out student feedback for assignments, allocating datasets and prepping the eighteen hours of class contact I'll be doing next week. But life is about choices. Yesterday I chose to be the coach of the new Saint Jospeh's Memorial School football team. Here's Jonah at last week's early hit out.
Jonah tells me that yesterday's game was the most fun he's ever had at footy. They now have to hold their marks a little more, there is a limited form of tackling allowed and marking up is more important. And all the kids are taking to the challenge with gusto. And we have three girls in the team, which is great.

And how can you deny this sort of glee?
But given life is about choices, I'm choosing to work my ass of so I have money and perhaps some time in late June to learn how to be a skydive instructor, as Greg is doing below:
How cool, to bring somebody into the family and have them wind up as a safe, competent skydiver. As Bill Murray says (in one of the best motivational speeches I can recall) at 1.20 below "we're all different but we're the same".
And just to close the loop. They were late for graduation - that's why they were squabbling - and they make their "Larrikin Intellect", resourcefulness and practicality shine through. Something Australians have been known for.
Still. One thing at a time. Those assignments and lesson plans won't mark and write themselves.

Nutbush: Brilliance Revisited

In 1977 as a ten year old I heard about the song and asked my dad if he knew it. It was the simplest, most emphatic answer I'd ever got from him. "It's a fantastic song". So I was amazed to hear just then, late night radio, a cover that more than does justice to the song. I was dead certain it was Tina Turner.

Sacrilege I know, but this cover is very possibly better than the original brilliance of Ike and Tina. But no, as I watch this I get tears in my eyes. This still holds up. 1973 is not really that long ago.

Genius can be troubled. Nobody cried too much when Ike died. But his freaked out lead break and bizarre lead riffing just astonished me. Nice to hear horns. And Tina - I only came to understand her brilliance as I grew up a bit. Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa do justice to both of them.

The album looks set to be a cracker.

And a lyric I never knew until I heard it from Beth:
"Salt pork and molasses is all you get in jail"

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Masterchef deserves to go under..

Big Brother made some horrendous decisions in their style and went off the air. "The Weakest Link" and "The Mole" died, eventually. And with this gender bullshit, Masterchef deserves to go under as well.

Surely we have grown past this? This is not a positive development.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, May 17, 2013

An online wine retailer buys some penetration

I love being sold to. I heard a radio spot (pr) googled the book (sem) and bought it (web distribution).
Enclosed in the pack was a special deal (sales promotion) for a dozen wines (penetration pricing policy).
Gee I'm glad that not all that marketing stuff they teach in University is crap. The art is in how to use the stuff, I suppose. So the other piece of advice is "get out of uni at the right time"
But importantly I live being sold to, well.  So I'll be following the hyperlink any time now.

A joke: Theory and practice

I picked this up from Catallaxy, and it speaks a little to the decline of larrikin intellect.

The joke:
In Germany we say “in theory that is correct, but in practice it won’t work”. In France they say “in practice that is great, but in theory …”

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Guinea pig saga: Not looking forward to this one

Among all the other things. A TAFE course I'm doing with some twenty one pieces of assessment, my own 180 students putting in their third assessment at midnight. Managing casual teaching loads across three employers/contractees, there's the guinea pig story.

My daughter Mia has a pair. The pair had a stillbirth litter two months ago and today had a 2/3 stillbirth litter. But Mia got to see the third, alive, and called it "Baby B".

We made a nice indoor house for Baby B and her mum, and Mia went off to Theatrebugs. Baby B is not gonna make it. Probably dead even now. I'm picking Mia up in another 20 minutes. This will be no fun. No fun at all.

First world problems, I know. But they're real on the inside. Still, working through these things sensitively is part of the job, no? It can't all be beer and skittles.

Australian Larrikin Intellect Under Threat?

I'll have some words about this at some point, but Nick Cater's book is worth a thought. He deserves his $16 from me, and to reject his thoughts without reading it is to - well - prove him right. I've stayed quiet because of many people's speed to jump to conclusions - in this case it might be that I'm a right wing patsy. I'll tread carefully. Who better to launch the book in Woy Woy, however, than H G Nelson?

I've had a few instances that indicate the Larrikin intellect such as H.G's caricature (you know he's not real, right?) is far less popular. I've seen much of the sneering from those with an Education. As Cater says "they don't just feel as if they're better off, they feel that they're better people".

I've desperately tried to avoid that, I hope. And any rudeness I've shown has been - I hope - to weak arguments. Some of the weakest I've seen have been made by highly, highly educated people. Eloquently.

UPDATE: An example I had was where Cater faced a pretty hostile Q&A panel but held his ground well enough. A tweet came through from somebody I respect (@kathoc) "a silly man with a silly book, get him off".

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Plato: The punishment of the wise

For those of us who choose not to get caught up in the politics - whether the workplace, community or government - it pays to remember:

"The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government, is to live under the government of worse men."

And to recall that in Plato's day, "men" was just a generic term. And we now know how wrong it is to use the word "men" when we mean "people".

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Looxury: Where my joke comes from

Often I drop the word "looxury" and receive blank faces. It goes back to a Monty Python sketch from 30 years ago where the stories get taller and taller...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Skywhale: All public art is meant to challenge

She has cost the ACT taxpayer $300,000 which is cheap for a piece of public art.

I like it, but I can't be sure that everyone else will feel the same way. I like what the artist thinks about the furore:

Piccinini on Thursday seemed to concede not everyone would share her affinity with her work - she described it as a highlight of her career - but said that's what made its connection to Canberra all the more significant.

"This is a place of ideas, of debate,'' she said. "I can't think of a more perfect place for her.'

But I'm less in agreeance about her "why" for the ten breasts - something like "it's a reminder that we are all suckled". Too many words, perhaps.

But art is more about what's in the eye of the beholder, anyway. Good on Robyn Archer, as creative director, for her courage.

RETHINK: I'll stay with the title because I don't like to do too much "1984" style redacting. But I don't think all public art is meant to challenge. But I like this one that does.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Yes Prime Minister Leading Questions

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Inspiring cool guy

No wonder he's an Internet sensation. If the petrol pump monitor started talking to you would you be this cool? I'm not sure I could.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The rain's a comin'

It won't be huge and it will be quick, but it'll be real...

So clear the gutters and takenall the kid's toys off the lawn.  Its a comin'


Thirteen years ago I recall my father in law having a loud disagreement with the guy who was paving my driveway as we did our renovations.

The paving guy was saying it was fine to let the fall go towards the house. Luigi made him oull up some bricks and move some sand.

And whenever I leave a hose next to the house and the water just runs to where the pkants are I think of that day. And I think of the number of things a "quiet achiever" does that are unappreciated.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

In all things love

It could be worse than this. A goal worth of a lifetime's effort.
Also, lovely thing to see, first, when you walk into a school. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Saint Joseph's Memorial School footy

Yay. SANFL  and NFC gave me a whole bunch of balls for our year 4/5 team. I'm their coach. So I'll take them to school tomorrow and give some out.
We're still a little light for players, so I hope we'll generate some excitement in the first week or so.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Chuck Berry and Keith Richards

Further to my earlier post re narcissists. These two guys both have huge egos but they are as good as they think they are. Keith's self deprecating comment in the interview was telling. I was transfixed with this. Eight minutes well spent.

And Keith didn't have the slur as per "Chuck" style until they reworked it. Impressive.

Chuck Berry & Keith Richards - Oh Carol from Music Management USA on Vimeo.

One of the comments against this on YouTube said it well.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

From the vault: Live big for your kids - now THAT's an obligation I can sign on to

Originally posted mid 2011 - I think

It still shocks me, but shouldn't. In casual conversation where I say "I bought a power kite" or "I need to clear some time for myself to be alone" I will sometimes get the same old martyr line. This time it was from a European lady with a grown child.

"Well it's not about you anyway, it's only about the kids."

WTF!!! What are you - living in Tevye's village?

Man, parenting is my destiny, my sacred duty. Anyone who really knows me knows that I've been happy to make a HEAP of decisions that mean it works for them, that they become the very best they can be. And that each one of my three are what I consider my greatest achievement in life. No brainer really. And I'm SO glad that my great life partner, Sylvia, plays the same game.

But do you really believe I should flatly refuse to want anything for myself? How weird is that?

"Well I did it, mine's 26 and is still with me. I don't get any time or anything for myself."

How's this? I won't judge you for what I consider to be a weird choice, and you can reciprocate. What was supremely odd was your lack of comprehension when I pointed out that I knew many people who have made the same choice as you. That's right - you made a choice to give away everything else that's important to you.

So here's my choice. I will continue to live big, as big as I possibly can. I will rejoice in the successes and the warmth of my family. Sometimes, often, I will take them on my rides. Sometimes I will ride alone. Often, I will discharge a set of responsibilities that will help them become the best people they can. I will always love them, support them and please - God - help me to understand them.

But please forgive me if I refuse to completely subsume myself into the persona of a parent. It seems that those who choose that route become empty shells, and are the first to play the "for all I've done for you" guilt trip on their grown children. I will not call you a loser, and you won't call me selfish, because neither are true, or very nice.

I will live big for my kids. And I hope that one day they will live big for themselves - and maybe their own kids.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mohommed Ali was not a narcissist?

I called into a radio station last week with this thought, but my sentence was slightly altered and my point was not clear.

It's the first time I've heard Dr Luke Broomhall talk, and he made a lot of sense. He was talking about narcissists and I notice he just posted a blog that expands his thoughts.

I've thought about this before, as well. But I think I may have pulled down the blog posts where I did. My friend Di Lee told me that you're not a real blogger until you're threatened with legal action.

But the discussion about Mohammed Ali was interesting. My reflection is:

"Mohammed Ali never made himself feel better by making another person feel bad"

And I stand by that. These people seems to feed on the insecurity of others and cultivate it with sly put downs - a sort of energy sapping parasitic behaviour. Unfortunately I couldn't go to air, so the producer typed

"Mohammed Ali never made himself look better by making another person feel bad"

And it's amazing how a single word can change the statement. Because Mohammed Ali was the nastiest, most trash talking, tough competitor I've ever heard of. In the context of a bout. Luke was right to point that out. Narcissist, I'm not sure. Luke, also, was reserving his judgement.

But I had heard the quote where Ali had said "don't look down on the people who look up to you". I might be romanticising, but I know there is a difference between a good person having a "bad" day, and a bad person.

I'm interested to hear others' thoughts on this, I'm certainly no defender of Ali.

Zero zilch nada niente nothing

All words for the same thing.

Also "shrinkage" in stock control
"Ullage" in a wine bottle
"Headspace" in packaging

Any others?

See something you don't like? Two options.

Recently I've noticed that if I see people doing things I don't like I have two options. I can either:

Join in, or
Rise above it

So if the kids are having fun and making a little noise, I might join in.

And if the neighbour has a barking dog. I might rise above it.

If people I know are having a social few drinks on a Friday night I might join in. If I see a culture of bad values I hope I will choose to rise above it.

I increasingly see that these are our only two options - join in or don't.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

From the vault: Courage and Authenticity. Surely the best signs of a real manager

Originally blogged December 2010

Robert Mason - a Huey pilot (choppers) - wrote a book called Chickenhawk. A gritty, poorly written account of a couple of tours of duty in Vietnam this book strips away the layers of bullshit that mostly surround the human condition. In particular the story of (let's call him) McNalty, an incumbent pilot when Bob joins as a newbie.

On the ground everyone can pretend to be a tough guy. Your JOB is to do dangerous, technical shit that saves or loses lives. And that's even before the bullets start flying.

Nobody had wanted to fly with McNalty but Bob didn't have a choice. As a new guy he flew with whoever he was told to. But as in all battles, these guys held each others lives in the palms of their hands. As soon as they took the chopper out into the fight, McNalty left his stick, wrapped himself in flak jackets and curled into a ball in the second pilot seat. He was grinning at Bob as Bob (the rookie) did the dangerous job of moving 10 troops into and out of fire zones. As they flew back into the secured area McNalty straightened up and put his hand on the stick again.

That is SURELY the most poisonous of coworkers. The other pilots then said to Bob "yeh now you know why nobody wants to fly with him"

We all get McNalties in our lives. They are dangerous in a number of ways:

They don't help
They let you think the will be when they need them
They talk tough when they're on the ground

The important thing is not to be a McNalty. Harder than it seems.

McNalties allow other people to take risks and fight their fights for them, and then when the chopper returns to safety they were "part of a successful team". For some they end up unhappy, but others end up being just fine.

Posted from Blogium for iPhone

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Burnside Village: The dead gum still an image of Australia

I love trees. The lemon scented, Woolongarra white and red river gums on my little quarter acre stand as testament to that. I planted whipsticks and theyre over 20m high now.

But sometime you do stuff, and they die.

So at Burnside the big gum will be dead. Life goes on. But in a way, a dead gum in the middle of a shopping centre is still an image of Australia.

We put in a lock system that covered the natural periodic flood plains. Some gums died. We irrigated and lifted the salty water table in places and some gums died.

I'm not being cheeky when I suggest that when the gum dies, just trim it back so it's safe and leave it there. It will remind me of paddling a canoe around those old, dead gums around Swan Reach. There are plenty more where the originals came from.