Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Radio is off

The radio is off, I am listening to Billy Joel. I’m listening to Piano Man and it’s booming, and yes I am singing at the top of my voice.

I had to turn the radio, TV and the news websites off as I have been disheartened by commentary over the Olympics. Sorry to my friends in the media, this is a broad statement and not targeted at anyone specific.

When I was young I can vaguely recall the closing ceremony of the Moscow Olympics, the crying bear as it said farewell. Unfortunately that is how I am feeling toward the coverage and commentary over the last few days.

Where do I start, my head is full of such disappointment, anger with what is being said.

We as parents are told to teach our children to be good sports and be resilient to deal with disappointment however the media at the moment seem to be acting like a petulant child as the swimming team hasn’t achieved what THEY the media was expecting. They have even resorted to using the word “Failure” as we have only achieved 1 Gold Medal as yet (in the LA Olympics that was the same number of swimming golds we achieved (Jon Sieben 100m fly).

 There used to be a joke said by the NZ team in the LA Olympics that went, What does Australia and Carl Lewis havein common? 4 Gold medals. Yes we only achieved 4 gold medals in total at LA with only one in the pool.

To give you a little back ground, for about 7 years I was a swimmer, swimming for Nunawading Swimming club in the eastern suburbs of  Melbourne where I rubbed shoulders with some of the best swimmers in Australia (Not name dripping, that’s not the point). At the time, our head coach was Leigh Nugent (affectionately known as Nugget), then the National breastroke coach and now Australias’ Head coach.

Ok I was never at that level, I did strive for the Olympics, but eventually I was happy with my achievements as a Butterfly/Backstroker. I was fortunate to train with some swimmers who were to achieve the heights that I could only dream of. I remember those 4:30 wakeups 5 times a week plus 2 gym sessions, it’s a hard slog and I never made the progression to our national team, but sport was more about being healthy, having a club which was more like a family away from home.

As someone who looked at possibly representing Australia, I saw the Olympics as this mystical event where only the BEST in the word competed, it was at the time an amateur event,  where athletes performed their best, that’s all you can really ask of them. Medals were a bonus not to mention Gold, to represent your country was the pinnacle of the sport.

Our golden age of swimming in the 90’sand ‘00’s where the likes of Thorp, Hackett, Perkins, Klim, etc. seems to have lifted the expectations in the Media, where so many good swimmers came through at the same time, we “owned” the 1500m freestyle not to mention may events.

Every event has to be recontested, it’s not like a battlefield where the winner from the previous games hold the high ground, the term “defending” always seems a little amiss, as it doesn’t respect that there are 4 years between, it’s a young person’s sport. Obscure people last Olympics can win, as they have set their goals higher for this Olympics, they could have flown under the radar, especially when they come from countries that don’t regularly compete outside their region.

To say our guys are losing implies that the opposition aren’t trying to win, they are the default winners because our guys aren’t trying hard enough which I feel  is disingenuous.

All we can ask is our swimmers do their best on the day, swimmers don’t just turn up to swim, much planning is involved in the lead up to any swimming championship,  they need to be tapered properly not to mention their health and their mental state. The Olympics is a totally different scene to any other event, there’s so much expectation placed on the athletes shoulders. The swimmers are likely to have swum in many events representing their club and then other international events where the media shoes scant interest, perhaps at the commonwealth games where the atmosphere is more close to the Olympics, but there is only one event that Counts.

Has this event become too commercial? It would appear not to be about athletes’ personal best times, it’s like the medal tally is being treated like a Profit and Loss Statement for the Olympic team. There seems to be a great sense of entitlement , I don’t know where that came from.

All I ask is to see it from the athletes perspective, sure it may be disappointing, but for THEM, not YOU. It is THEIR event after all, not YOURS.

Remember how Shane Gould gave up at such a young age, sure it was a different circumstance but if you want sportsmen and women to get to such a high level, devoting every day to their swimming goals, please encourage them otherwise we may lose them before their prime and it’ll all go back to Montreal where we won no gold at all.

When dealing with Football teams it is understood that teams need to rebuild after marquis players leave, Similarly our swimming team is rebuilding, and if you look at the results, we are still close, they are achieving medals just not the colour the media are wanting.

Is this the age of opinion over facts?

Perhaps we need a challenge, those who criticise the team should have a swim off, let’s see how well those commentators do.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Barefoot Dad

Since I was a kid i have always enjoyed going barefoot. It is a lifelong habit i find some don't understand. I go everywhere at home barefoot, heck i even enjoying doing a massage barefoot although OHS states you should do it with covered in shoes.

I find with bare feer I have better posture, the feet can work to their optimum and they work freely from the contraints of shoes.

Inspired from this years TEDxNewy experience, and the talk from the Naked Runners I just wanted to put my take on going bareboot. Going without the extras even in the home.

I have to say i do walk around the house barefoot, it feels so much more comfortable, i can't stand wearing thongs, it just feels awkward walking with them. I do have sandals which i wear down the street and obviously for work I wear covered in shoes.

But the moment you come off the shoes come, if it's a cold night i'll pop some socks on. My shoes are reasonabley large (Size 11) and are heavy, cumbersome and my wife has freom time to time complained about their size. My feet don't like synthetics and whenever I have gone with a cheaper shoe, my feet smell really bad, and I mean BAD. I would much rather go without.

I think some people fear hurting their feet by going shoeless. Sure they offer protection from if you kicking things. But i find your feet offer you more sensitivity and give you a greater sense of where your feet are, they help you feel your surroundings, a closed loop in your senses. i remember when working with totally blind all your other senses come in to play when detecting your surroundings. Your feet help you especially whin in the dark.

In my engineering days it was mentioned that in the early days of power steering, you just pointed the car and it went there. But there were a lot of broken wheels casued by hitting gutters, and other objects because there was no closed loop. It was only until a closed loop was created that this stopped where the steering system provided feedback back to the driver.

I find walking with shoes is like walking with blind feet, similar to those who park by touch, where they bump into objects and then make adjustments, this is now solved now through Parking sensors. The Barefoot running movement is all about letting the feet operate the way they have evolved into, naturally "designed" for running without impediments. When it comes to out feet we don't need to ADD anything to prevent foot injuries, we can remove the objects which prevent our feet from working to their potential.

I find nothing more comfortable than going barefoot, I love going up the back yard and hanging the washing up feeling the blades of grass through my toes.

Sure there are Bindii which can put an end to a comfortable walk. But it's not too gard to get them out of your toes. I have just found chemicals to get even with these pesk blighters. I am fortunate that they don't live up the back yeard. the front yards however we had a break out which is unknown because we never had them. But rest assured i DID get even. :)

We have a dog but he does poo in predictable places and i haven't had an issue, that said if you do accidentally step in, your feet sense you and you don't end up with it all over your feet than carry it through the house before you realise the smell (Done that before)

Another concern i have heard in the past was bees and clover, I have never had a problem(now i have jinxed myself). All I can say is that you keep your eyes open and perhaps lead with your toes so you don't heel strike and come down on clover full force that works for me.

So I am sitting here barefoot on the computer blogging, Are you doing the same??

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's about the WHY

A couple of things happened this week that made me stop and think. Firstly this week has been one of those "what is it all about" weeks. You know I think it is one of those end of year things. I get eather reflective at this time. I think it's a way of setting up those new years resolutions that I will hopefully keep to this coming year. But enough for new years resoltions because I will try to devote a blog to that. All I can say is that the coming year will be one of change and transition. For the past 6 years i have been the primary carer of my girls and this coming year sees my youngest going to school. (jumps for Joy) This means that i will have more time to devote to other pursuits such as career and business and health. Something I have put aside for way too long.

I saw the film "The company men" with Ben Affleck and Tomme Lee Jones.

At the crux of this film was a business that hived off thousands of jobs during the GFC, good people were sacrificed to save a company's share price. The organisation had lost track of the actual reasons WHY the business started, it was about the People and the company lost focus on that. It makes me ponder some recent changes in a lot of businesses who appear to be doing the same thing where the bottom line is all important, not the goodwill and people that were the foundations of the organisation.

This was curiously just after i had watched "the Social Network" about the start of Facebook

I state this second as the portayalrayal of Mark Zuckerberg was far from flattering, rather more like an unemotional robot who took advantage of those around him. It made me investigate because when a film comes out you want to find more, find the truth.

I found an interview with Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg that was a good thing to watch following watching the film. The interview didn't touch the film.

I don't know him but I see him as a focused person, he IS Facebook, His passion is the social network he invented. In the interview he seemed very happy, yes he smiled rather a bit. During the interview it was mentioned about how he wouldn't sell out. Also how he likes to co-exist with google, youtube etc. rather than acquire or go out in competition.

One can't be in awe at his genius with what he has created. Whatever you think of him and his motivations. he does seem rather genuine in his motivations.

I suppose the WHY is based on how you measure success, why you are really there, in business.

I was also listening to 1233 ABC Newcastle and in a couple of discussions yeaterday firstly it was being discussed about businesses and shareholder value and how it is only a new concept, since the 80's. i know that when i worked in petrol stations the main focus was the staff, making sure
Heck i even remember when companies were making actual losses during the recession we had to have. Today Public companies cry foul whene they make less money than they made last year. Is it just greed?? I can see where the QANTAS employees are fould with their company. These guys showed their passion for the company, their love for the company but were upset with the level of increase in the paypacket of the CEO who received a huge percentage increase in his own paypacket.
The organisation has lost focus on why they are there.

I once worked in an organisations that had an acronym CARE-Customers Are Really Anything. This however presented itself as frequently running short on staff at registers, stock running out or not being able to be put out due to insufficient staff numbers, Department managers were frequently under the pump, they regularly pulled 14 hour days. Not really family friendly hours.
With this organisation there would be wind that the regional manager was coming so store management would put as many staff on the floor to get the store fully stocked and faced to make it look pristine. The managers would hover around the regional manager.

Straight after this visit the store would resume its' original understaffed state. I still wonder about the WHY of this organisation, but all i can say id one year the organisation made $700million profit, i said to  an ols timer that that was a good result. The Old timer said back to me, "no it's not because we will have to do better next year". I struggle at times to find out the WHY behind many companies other than Profit, money etc.

The second conversation was with the business centre talking about being a new businesses and trying to find the reason WHY you are insbusiness, the emotion that you are selling as a business. This is where I am left. i am in a very reflacive mood, trying to discover the emotion, my reason to why I am here, in business.

I suppose a lot of the WHY relates to to the old maslows Pyramid

I need security, the funds to be able to stand alone, that is where i need to head toward this coming year. Independance.

Next Blog is about my WHY

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Tea Routine

Tea is in my blood, my family's blood.

Not just the drink, being brought up in an alcohol free household, Tea was the social lubricant that we used. The centre piece of any social interaction, usually across the bench in the kitchen. The kitchen was the heart of our house, it was where all important discussions happened.

Normally made in a pot. There was always a warm pot of tea going whenever someone was at home. on the coldest days we would even keep the kettle hot on the combustion heater. Each pot would make 4 cups of Tea. Always milk and Raw sugar to satisfy taste. It was never fancy brands or flavours, just black Tea. We didn't drink from dainty teacups, I drank from a nice dark purple mug (not pretentious). This cup is long gone.

My grandfather also had a "half cup" which was able to take about 2 cups of tea. I often find myself mimicing his loud AHHH he used to let out after he would take in a large mouthful of tea.

So how do i have my tea? It's simple just allow the teabag to draw, remove bag then add sugar and milk. The one rule i have to say, NEVER EVER EVER leave the teabag in when u add the milk, this gives it a funny taste (tanins react with the fat in the milk).

All in all a cup of tea brings back fond memories of good times, connections with family members no longer around. The warmth of a great pot of tea for me has no comparison.

i have experimented with other teas such as darjeeling, green and earl Grey, even coffee both instant and proper coffee, but i always find myself coming back to uncomplicated, basic black tea properly brewed.

I am not wanting to take on coffee drinkers as i don't mind coffee but coffee to me was not the social ue in our family.

I hope you enjoy Tea too.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Do the stars make you feel Patriotic?

A few weeks ago i went to my sister in laws house, it is in a beautiful location looking out on flood plaind that are currently filled with water, it attracts a fantastic array of birdlife including pelicans, we were even visited by a swarm of green frgs than night as well.

The sun set off over the horizon which was an absolutely beautiful sight to see.

As the light went i could see starts begin to appear, it reminds me of the rhym about wishing upon the first start at night. The darkness set in and as there is less light pollution you can make out more stars than the standard constellations.

To the south is a very familiar constellation, namely the southern cross however unlike the flag, in the early night, the cross sits upside down with the two pointer stars (Alpha and Beta Centauri) point south. It's such a significant constellation as it gave navigators guidance.

As someone who has always been inetrested in science, as well as science fiction i have always been in awe at space and the size of it but it never occured to me stars light years away could be claimed by a nation. I was to find out i had forgotten something.

I pointed to the sky and said to my eldest, "there's the Southern Cross". From the background came a comment that made me cringe. It was from a friend that is a local girl and with a very different view of the world to myself. Her comment was something to the effect of "I'm very patrotic too".

I Bit my tongue because we have different views of the world. Firstly for me the southern cross is not the only constellation is not the only constellation i look for in the night sky, When i look up i usually look for Orion, it is such a dominant constellation and can be seen by pretty much everyone in the world.

This in a way is symbolism of my own feeling of my place in the world.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I'm Back

Hi there, I have to apologise for it being so long between blogs.

The end of the year and the start of this one has been mad.

Last year was a case of study study study as i have finally completed my Diploma in Massage (jumps for Joy). This was rather a lot of work (I honestly studied less for my Engineering Degree) but I got there and now have a peice of paper to prove it :) So I now am a qualified remedial massage therapist, Senior member of the Association of Massage Therapists (AMT) and i am waiting on some health funds to come through (woohoo).

Tied in with all this have a been a few events that have been rather significant.

  • My wife went on a cruise in October and the whole group had an absolute ball until they came home and one of her friends lost her 18 year old son due to misadventure the very next morning (he decided to climb a power pole not far from where we live). That was all very traumatic for all concerned.
  • As far as a previous blog my wife had lost her jewellery at a gym, quite a substantial amount and the gym was rather unsympathetic and unhelpful. It then took us $1300 to find out that we didn't have a legal case :(
  • My Wife works for the state energy company which the state government was orignally going to sell off completely. The Unions were powerful and rolld the premier, the tradeoff was to sell off the retail side which has a weaker union, this was unopposed and the state government got a payout. The handover date is in march just before the next election. There is apparently a 5 year guarentee on their jobs but that doesn't say they will have the same work conditions. I know that the company that has bought them out has hours that only go to 6pm whereas they curently go to 8pm. It will be interesting to find out what will happen.
  • On Christmas eve the pool pump decided to die which was not great timing (although we did manage to keep it blue for a month without the pump until the end of year came and went.
  • We received a phone call on New years eve from our bank asking to verify a funds transfer...someone had hacked into our internet banking and transferred our mortgage payment out. The bank was great and we managed to sort everything out. We have had to add extra security to our internet banking including a security token. This got a bit scary. Ive antivirus already but I was advised of an anti spyware/anti phishing program and when i ran it, there were ablut 300 programs. The kids when they on the internet click on all sorts of things, i may have from time to time opened up an email or opened up a twitter link. It's hard to say where it came from. SO now i am more wary. i rund anti spyware pretty much every day.
  • The oven died a couple of weeks ago, no it isn't old, it's one of those new fandangled wide ovens we put in when we renovated our kitchen almost 3 years ago. Thankfully before the 3 year warranty runs out in march (it has already been through an element). A switch shorted out the switchboard.
  • The end of our street which has forever been a nightmare especially at school times. It was originally going to be a set of lights, then the state government decided to change that to a roundabout (expletives here) then it was changed back to a set of lights. Well works have started and it's a mess at the end of the street.
  • Oh and i forgot my password and tried hard to remember what it was. I remembered only a few das ago :)

So with the return of school, i have a little more time to blog.

I'm not sure what the next year will hold :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Cautionary Tale

If I said to you how you identified yourself, what makes you “you” what would you say it was? For some it’s their dogs, cats, their signature jacket, their car, their job etc. These are all items that you identify as you, they are external items that you couldn’t be without. Probably an item that makes you feel like you belong to a group or perhaps stand out from the crowd.

My wife, worked hard to accumulate her jewellery, over the years after we achieved a level of financial security she gradually acquired items, putting them on weekly payments, once one item was finalised, she would run out and put another item on payments. She bought items to celebrate her 40th birthday and only just recently she bought a bangle to celebrate losing a significant amount of weight. She wore them with pride. She tended to them cleaning them regularly making sure they always looked pristine. She loved them. I remember every morning she had her routine as she put on her jewellery to go to work.

Picture from her 40th birthday march 2009

We had a little personal valuables insurance (I know I work for the insurance company) but not enough to cover it all if it all got stolen all at the one time. I talk insurance all day so I guess I failed to update it, check it, get it changed to include all the items. For this I am feeling a great amount of guilt at the moment.

Sadly on Monday on the way home from a difficult day at work, I was home for the night as I was rostered off, she decided to go straight to the local gym which her work pays for. Lisa always wears her jewellery to work so she decided to store her jewellery in a locker which is supplied by the gym which you set your own code and according to the instructions it is a 4 digit code.

Anyway she made sure it was locked before she left to do her workout.

When she came back she grabbed her stuff, she wanted to go home and have a shower so she didn’t check her jewellery as she didn’t want to put it on before having a shower. she can’t remember if it was locked when she returned, she put in her code before opening it, not checking to see if it was locked or unlocked before opening it.

When she grabbed her keys she noticed a compartment which she never opens was opened but at the time didn’t think anything of it.

She got home and had her shower and was getting ready to have an early night, she went to take her jewellery out and put it in her container on the dresser…not there. She freaked out, ran to the car which is the only other place it could have been. Purse gone too… Oh dear, major sinking feeling.

To Be Continued