Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Don't keep business cards of people who don't deserve your time

Not by choice but by affliction I am a collector of business cards. I wear a dress jacket sometimes and every now we can they turn up in an inside pocket. People often push a business card into my hand - perhaps they impressed me at the time, maybe they didn't.

But one thing's for sure. No business card that I've collected over the last 30 years of schlepping around town deserves to sit in the same pocket as the funeral card of a great friend of mine.

Will fought cancer for about 12 months and he was gone a few weeks ago. I will never again hear that quiet wisdom or delight in that wicked sense of humour.

And I think that you should spend no amount of time sitting in a place where things are wrong for you.

And although I really only saw him twice a year, I miss my friend.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Academic tourism

It's not a joke. A "CFP" is acadmic talk for a "call for papers" - you know, where you write an article for a peer-reviewed​ conference in Paris, New York or Murcia, and the people you work for send you there?

Strangely, I don't miss it. There is no free lunch.

How do you sell $20 burgers?

Just a bit of everything. A captive audience - LAX - a good product and a whole heap of chutzpah.

I think I just heard a customer leave calling it "Umami Burglar".

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Scammers at the airport gas stations

"Scammers" is a bad word, and I truly don't think of myself as a better person. But I do get a little nervous when approached.

"Wash your widows?", "Got some change?" And a really elaborate one last year "I'm out of gas and I just need a gallon or so to get back home what do you say?".

I don't think it's a complete coincidence that these are the two gas stations that I just around the corner from the rental car depots. I've been to a lot of places in the US and not had much of this sort of approach but this is where the tourists are, right?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

15 items or fewer - so cute

Stater Bros is a huge supermarket chain in Southern California that is trying to resist the future. No self serve checkouts and those quaint 15 items or fewer aisles.

Freeway frustration

Imagine this moving at 130 km/h. Sometimes it does but many other times you are traveling alone in I-69 hard volume delivery system at 50 kilometers per hour.

I think that's why when the freeways are empty people get even more aggressive.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Scriptwriter: Clive Palmer will go to jail

It's bad form to publicly say "I told you so" but I often wish to.

My two younger kids have come to call me "The Scriptwriter" because my modified version  of "I told you so" is "I could've written the script!".

Years ago when Clive Palmer found his way into Australian Parliament I drew on my memory of Alan Bond and said "One day Clive Palmer will go to jail".

I'm not even saying he's done anything wrong, but I've watched Alan Bond, Lindy Chamberlain, Pauline Hanson and a bunch of other people over the years go to jail. Somehow I think Mr Palmer will also go to jail.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

P3 Inspiration

I come here because I'm outside of my comfort zone. Eighteen years ago at about stage 4 of my freefall course I said to myself "perhaps I've found something I want to do that I just can't get the hang of" and of course - I was hooked for life.

And when I come here the challenges are the same. And I just need to listen to hear the things that can help me through. In skydiving and in life:
  • Just because we're confident doesn't mean that we're not totally humble, aware of things we need to improve. Larry.
  • When someone is low on the formation and skating underneath you, deal with it. Don't be drawn into other people's drama. Kate.
  • The best place to go low on a formation is above it. If you're in the stadium and having to fight to stay up, it's way better than being underneath it. Dan.
  • It takes courage to fly up close in your slot, but that's the only way we can build large formations. Come and join the party! Kate.
  • Don't make your comfort the reason the team gets held up. If you're not comfortable being uncomfortable then this is the wrong sport for you. Chris.
  • You can't fix a mistake by making another mistake. If you mess up an exit and end up on the wrong side of the formation then cutting across other people to get to your slot is only compounding the problem. Chris.
  • Be calm. Everything in this sport gets better when you're calm. Rehearse your calmness. Plan it into your dirt dive. Dan.
  • On performance anxiety: I've seen much worse and believe me you can't disappoint me or impress me. We're all just at different points on a learning curve. Chris.
  • There are only about three of the great skydivers that it came naturally to - the rest of us have had to work really really hard at it. It's not rocket science - you can do it if you want to. Chris.
  • Three rules. Don't dock until it's ready to be docked, don't dock until you are ready to dock, don't dock until you are ready to be docked on. Tom.
  • Don't dock to the formation unless you can improve what's going on in there. Kate.
  • When you're approaching the formation you're all timid and not wanting to mess things up. Once you have taking a grip you become part of the base and then nothing should move you. Dan.
  • Bigway skydiving you need to skydive a little bit angry. Tom.
  • You don't get the nickname you want - you get the nickname you deserve. Mark.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Virtue Signalling: Talk is cheap

Clicking "like" really does not change anything  - it just puts your own voice to the dozens who are muttering the same thing. In this case I don't even "like" the fact that Larissa Waters is breastfeeding in senate. Sure, it's cool.

Making comments bemoaning the state of the world - it goes even beyond cheap "likes". It requires almost no original thought and only serves to say "I'm good aren't I?"

Grownups see this virtue signalling for what it is and try to avoid the trap. And I resisted the urge to hit "send" on my message below..

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A convenience culture that just seems to have it wrong

I'm not really sneering at other people's cultures that this one has got me a little bewildered.

There are many big people in the US. And I think there is some talk about obesity classified as a form of disability.

And there are enough people who find walking very difficult. But there has to be something a little wrong with setting up shopping trolleys that you sit on and ride around a supermarket rather than -as a culture that's just doing something about the core problem.

But perhaps Australia is headed that way too.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

All God's creatures, but what about snails and slugs?

I'll​ had a funny memory just then and that was about my auntie who was a bit of a strong Christian. She's dead now but everybody these days seems to be dead.

A conversation had been going about how we are all God's creatures. Even snails and slugs. As a kid my question was "if slugs come from Heaven how do the cope with the impact on the landing?"
"Oh, they have very tough skin".

That's as good an answer as any, I suppose. But by then we had already fallen through the looking glass. Perhaps they all just get soft landings, like on this lawn. Perhaps that's God's will, as well.

Perhaps the snails - whose shells would break, get the lawn - and slugs with tough skin have to make do with hard surfaces.

Perhaps God doesn't have a plan, but a Roulette Wheel.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

My pep talk to some students..

I wrote it and I might as well share it here..

Remember - we're working as colleagues in this [project]. I'll answer emails (or better - FB Messenger messages) at midnight if I have to. But your part of the deal is that you make sure that when you contact me that you are giving me the very best opportunity to add value to your project. Please make sure you have reviewed, previewed and critiqued your stuff as hard as you can before you send it to me.

My first real research supervisor

Can I share a little story with you? Prof [x] is now a good friend, but it didn't start well. At another University I had been enrolled in a Masters by research against everybody's wishes and [x] happened to be head of school when I was enrolled without a supervisor (untidy I know). I presented a paperwork problem for [x] so he said "put my name in as your supervisor for now".
When I asked if he wanted to see something from me each week he replied "I don't want to see your garbage thinking". It was not an insult. He recognised that we all have ruminations and semi formed ideas. We need to work those up to being respectable before sending them off to someone else.
I'm not being as blunt as to say "don't send me garbage" but I am saying that along with courage, we need to have the self respect to send of what we think is our very best shot at the time. Good academics can tell the difference. I know from bitter experience the embarrassment of sending something (that wasn't the very best I could do) to someone I respect.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Cheap hotel rooms - economic theory demonstrated

I went to to book three nights of accommodation. I have a car so I can get out of the main street but I really do need some good facilities such as good Wi-Fi and a nice desk because I will be spending quite a bit of time at a desk and on a computer.

So by removing asymmetry in information these online comparison websites are really making the economic model work.

This particular hotel is out in a business and industrial estate that looks like a ghost town at the moment. And for 3 nights of accommodation I pay 200 Australian dollars.