Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Teaching: Always two sides to the learning

If you're a half good instructor - at anything - you'll agree that you always learn more when you teach than when you are in the learner slot. Here's a vid of a young guy doing a training jump with me in February. My fall rate was a little faster than him, and our unlinked exit meant that he spent a while trying to dive to me. He'd come in hot - I'd duck, he'd come at me again and I'd duck. Eventually we caught up. Time again, I would've worn a more baggy jumpsuit - giving me the fall rate range to correct for him and he'd not have found the dive so tricky. I guess a student fresh off his A license tables who hasn't jumped for a few weeks could've used a little more help.

But this illustrates my point. A learning - and even an assessment - experience is a two way street. It depends on both the instructor and the learner. Happy endings here - Steve and myself blasted the jump the other day and we're both all the better for the whole experience.

It's the dual role of the teacher, in many cases. One has to turn from cheerleader to judge in an instant. The more mature students get that. The guy who's joking around with you tonight has to put his "judge" hat on the next day and mark your paper. But in the long run we're all the better for it.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Wise men speak...

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”
― Plato

I was brought up with this:

"An empty vessel makes the most noise"
"Those who speak don't know; those who know don't speak"
"Cullen, now you're talking just for the sake of talking"

It's what I am. Although if I'm drunk I might be the fool won't stop talking. But even then I think I have a reason, although few might agree.

But as I get older I like to think that speaking serves a purpose all its own - beyond any peripheral "it doesn't matter what you say as long as you're talking". I'm increasingly short with people who don't have a clear point. It's probably the introvert/extrovert thing. Yes, that old chestnut.

But then I see I'm just descending into the world of Steve Martin in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles". God, what an asshole [I can be]

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Anzac Day is a big thing

Today I perform an equal opportunity sacrilege. Last Friday was Good Friday and I skydived. Same again today on Anzac Day.

I'm equally as bound to both things. And equally sacrilegious, apparently.

It weighs heavily upon me. But not heavily enough to keep me out of the sky.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dirty deeds..

I heard this on the radio just then. How cool. Brian Johnson holds it together plenty fine, and Angus Young playing a 20 second riff with his right hand in the air. This was the stuff of my childhood. And in large part ACDC was the brainchild of the Easybeats. What a pedigree.

Monday, April 21, 2014

You'll be working for longer but that's a good thing

If you're under 50 you won't get to retire until age 70. That's just how it will be. People over 50 should relax. There's no way that the system can force you to wait longer. I only just got hit by the first (Labor govt) increase to 67 - and I'm quite a bit under 50 years old.

So the younger of us will be expected to work until 70, unless we can organise our affairs to do it earlier. And that makes sense.

The good news is that there will be jobs. A huge body of people occupying jobs will retire soon. Many were planning for it ten years ago but their superannuation nest eggs were crippled by the GFC in 2008. Very bad news for the potential retirees, but it also sucked for younger people who were looking to get work or grow a career.

The other good news is that the jobs there are should be paid pretty well, if you can negotiate your value. That's bad luck for the (higher performing) union "brothers and sisters" who are always drawn to the middle in union dealings, but good news for the rest of us.

Of course, people working in physical jobs will be getting screwed. If you're crawling through a roof, laying one in the Queensland sun and rain or digging ditches an extra five years of work is bloody hard. I hope I won't be doing that type of work at age 65.

But for many of us, we'll be working longer. I hope to be.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

K-tel: Doing what iTunes now does, in the 70s

This was a real value add. Making composite music selections

And organising your music

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ethics: This shit'll catch up with you..

I realised back in 2011 when I had someone seriously gunning for me that leaving a clean trail is the best way. As it was, I'd been well behaved for many years but that experience drove it home as a practical, as much as an ethical point.

So, the NSW premier just resigned, because he didn't want to offend a business colleague by rejecting a gift. A courier dropped a $3000 bottle of wine to him one night. He sent a thankyou note and stuck the bottle of wine in the cellar. Bup bowww.

I'd like to think I'd be one to make a phone call and say something like:

"Buddy, we need to talk about this. That bottle of wine can't just go unmentioned. I either need to give it back or declare it. This is for both your sake and mine"

Barry O'Farrell didn't make that call. Then he became premier. Now he's lost his job. And he may go to jail.

We may have an ex prime minister who will be in a similar position soon. This shit'll catch up with you.

I was NEVER promised a pension

Since I was 17 I've heard the familiar refrain "there'll be no pension when you're 65" albeit mostly by life insurance / superannuation salesmen.

About the only good thing that the last Labor government did was increase the pension age to 67 - that kicks in around 2023. I miss it by about 6 months. But here's the thing:

I was never promised an age pension.

Now, my parents generation was different. As income tax was becoming a bigger thing it was sold on the basis of "pay your income tax nouns other people's income tax will cover you in your old age". A tribute to how oblivious the governments of the day were to the population bubble of the baby boom. Or how far off the crunch seemed. Or how shameless they were in selling a lie (never mind, they did the same with a GST that was meant to replace ten other taxes, only about four of which have been removed). But still, my dad was promised an age pension as payback for income tax. And here's the thing:

People of my parents era will not be hit by the increasing pension age.

Remember, I'm only just getting clipped by the first steps to increase the pension age. I was born in 1967. I was never promised a pension.

So, if you're approaching 60 and worried about getting screwed by the government then what's new? We're all getting screwed in some way. But the systematic removal of the age pension will not hurt you. Shit, the way it's going I might still get some crumbs of the age pension. I doubt it. I've missed almost every government funded benefit in my life.

But the common sense of this is simple. I can't find the exact figures but they're something like this: 1977 there were 1.2 pensioners per employee, today 2.5 pensioners per employee, 2050 will have over five pensioners per employee. This is not a point of resentment, just one of reality. We'll be living longer, and using more and more expensive drugs and medical facilities. I apologise in advance - I'll be 83 if I hang on.

The most sensible thing that this government can do is make preparations to phase out the age pension. Everyone over 50 should get everything they were promised - they deserve a pension.

Those of us under 50 have been warned since we started working that things would be different for us when our working life ended.

There will be huge inequities and unfairnesses - people who never got super guarantee payments (such as stay at home parents or self employed) and that needs to be dealt with. In some way government funded age payments must continue. But in a general sense the structures have been in place for a long time - to phase out the pension and replace it with employer funded superannuation. This government won't phase out the pension without taking it to an election first.

Then the challenge will be to get the Australian electorate to think logically about it. But if you're over 50 the pattern is set. You'll get the pension you were promised.

I'm looking to the phase before that, where there will be a shortage of people to work. Impossible to imagine maybe, but I expect that the crunch will start to hit about 2019. It'll be the first time the employment market will have treated me with anything more than casual contempt. I suppose then the employers will be treating me with active resentment.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Today's pensioners won't get hit

Too big for a Facebook status. And too contentious..

By the way, the first move on increasing pension age was done in Labor's most recent term. I know because it works out that I get caught by about three months before I would become eligible for the 65. But it's not today's pensioners - it's today's 40-50 year olds that are in the frame. If you're on the pension or less than ten years off it then it's one less thing for you to worry about.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A small thing as the last straw

I have an ex student, I'd call him a friend, who runs a home delivery grocery business. The prices are higher but there's something nice about having a few staples turn up on the doorstep each Thursday.
They have a limited range and I'm often struggling to find something I need so I can keep the order going, but I kept it up for my friend. But it's just gonna have to end. For nothing much at all.

Last week my Thursday order didn't turn up. Their mistake, they delivered the next day after the new driver had probably delivered to the wrong place. But the most annoying thing - I have two front doors and for some reason they have delivered to alternate ones each week. No big deal but as I like to return their coolie bags, I haven't managed to leave for their quirky driver at the correct door for about four weeks now. I already have too much crap in the house and too many things to think about. The last thing I need is to try to work out which fucking door the delivery driver will come to each week.

I'll cancel all orders for the foreseeable future as soon as I get around to it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Corona: From where you'd rather be

The first time I ever saw beer cast in this light was the story of Brody Boatwood. But the imagery works well if you already have those mental structures in place.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A great boss: yet another ripple

I've mentioned this before, but when I worked selling plastic to the meat industry (c1995) it was pretty normal to have the senior people of very large customers screaming at you for problems of their own making.
In this shitfest I had a boss called Rod Davis, and he made it all bearable. He'd have people screaming at him (inside the company and out) about me, but would deal with me in a pretty level headed manner.  It takes a lot to hear "go sack that yound prick you've got working for you!" And then go to that person and say "we have to do something about [Frank] he's pretty unhappy". And yes, sometimes it would be my fault too.

By the time we'd got seven years into it, the situation with Rod and myself became a bit fractious but on reflection it was always Rod who held the high ground. It was a great chance to see how the best managers - managers of people - operate. Rod had problems with his heart and the last I heard it was hard going. I hope he's still around and thriving; I like him and all his family. Rod is truly what the "Dave Singleman" Death of a Salesman funeral was modeled on.

And so I take the slightest essence of this guy into the stuff I do. Chatting with an internship student to a tricky situation with a client - "I get the feeling this was weighing pretty heavily on you, don't panic". I hope I can bring the slightest sense of how well this stuff can be done - with all my examples from outside the university sector.

"Do, do, do, lookin out my back door.

I was certain that this was about a drug trip that CCR took, with a giant doing cartwheels and a statue wearing high heels and happy creatures dancing on the lawn. But it turns out that John Fogarty wrote it for his three year old son.

I like it even more. And for anyone trying to get onto guitar this is a gem. About four chords and the vocal range really accessible. Just like all of Creedence's stuff.

Certainly the first real song I ever got.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Imposter syndrome: Steven King and the Lamp Monster

I'm spending about thirteen hours a week in front of students, working through the concepts of Branding and Marketing Management. One of the things that seems to work is that I draw on experiences - recent and distant - to give examples of what I'm talking about. It can be a little draining and I need to be careful not to fall into the trap so cleverly put forward by Family Guy.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sales calls masquerading as service

It's rare that get unsolicited calls to my mobile but when I do, I deal with them quickly. Especially when they're these really annoying sales calls pretending to be service. I had one last week from NAB trying to upsell me on insurance and one just then from Telstra.

I can tell, because the phone manner is so energetic. "Hi it's Brad here from Telstra with a quick customer service call. I notice you're not bundling your Telstra mobile with any other service like home internet."

Fuck that shit.

"Brad, this isn't really a service call is it? It's a sales call. I've gotta go."

If it's compelling, I'll find out aboit the deal soon enough. I don't need Brad calling me.