Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Classic Movie Test

Not sure if this means I'm Martin Sheen or Marlon Brando and I don't like the smell of napalm in the morning. I came across this bit of fun at Bobby Revelian's blog. Bobby if you read this I tried to link directly to the post but got an account suspended message, whatever that means.

Bobby came across it at the Brown Baron's blog and his What's Your Classic Movie Profile post. Can't help thinking it would have been better to be Bobby's Indiana Jones or the Baron's Easy Rider.

Still take the test yourself and leave a comment so we can see who you are.

Parents and the damage done.

"All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair."
- Mitch Albom - the five people you meet in Heaven

How sad that quote is true I thought when I read it. What damage was done to me and how has that legacy made me damage my own children? But it also made me think about the whole story. I realised that whilst all parents do damage their children, many are also there to pick them up when they fall, to kiss away the hurts and sooth the aches and pains.

Sometimes as kids we don't realise that.

We don't necessarily give our parents the credit they deserve for the repairs they do to the damage done. I am sure that there are bad parents but I am equally sure that most of us do our best. That we do sometimes struggle with doing the right thing by our kids but that the last thing we want them to do is grow up hurt or damaged. We want them to know that if their pristine glass is smudged that we will do our utmost to wipe those flaws away.

And you know, the smudges can be removed, they don't have to be forever. The relationships we have with our parents and our children will ebb and flow with circumstance. There will be times when we are angry, other times when we hurt, still more when we concentrate on the flaws in the glass rather than the depth of its beauty. Sometimes the reflections cast from those flaws are not those of the people we are looking at but our own images staring back at us. All of these things, the blemishes and imperfections as well as the sheer beauty we can find in others are all parts of the complexities of the love that binds us.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Assumptions? Do me a favour...

We all make assumptions and whilst I try not to, I am finding that it is a very difficult thing not to do. I have made assumptions about people's behaviour, about their character, about their feelings and motivations, about their lifestyles, even about their emotions. I have labelled people and been labelled because of assumptions.

The problem with assuming things is it leads to incorrect behaviour on my part. Sometimes when you think you are doing the right thing, it can be totally wrong. I am not a good communicator when it comes to personal issues. Put me in front of an audience where I'm talking about work related stuff and I do a good job - get me one on one to talk about feelings and I generally fail miserably and clam up. Maybe that's a male thing, maybe it's a result of being a turtle - pulling my head inside my shell every time it looks like getting knocked off.

I've also made assumptions about why people read what I write and for those who comment I think it's because there is some way in which we connect. But maybe I'm wrong to assume that too.

Funny I started blogging simply as a form of therapy and if I dig back into my archives I see that the comments there were few and far between. Somewhere along the way though, I began to see the establishment of my own little community, people who visited me and who I in turn visited and came to know. I have assumed, and again maybe incorrectly, that most people who read my blogs regularly are also bloggers. Certainly everyone who comments [with the exception of you Jen] seem to also write your own blogs.

But I am curious about the rest of you and therefore I am asking a favour. If you read this please leave a comment as to who and where you are and maybe if you feel like it why you visit here. If you are a blogger please visit the other bloggers who comment and maybe leave a comment on one of their posts saying Loz sent you ;)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Six Degrees of Separation Meme

I thought I'd have a crack at making up a new meme, but it doesn't involve you actually tagging anyone unless you wish to. I thought it would be a bit of fun to provide some links back to people who take the time to comment on blogs and maybe discover a few new ones as we do it. If you wish you can tell people that you've tagged them with 6 degrees of separation along the way.

Here's the task.

1. Find the sixth last person to comment on your blog and visit them.
2. Find the sixth last person who commented on that blog and visit them. Then follow the link to the blog of the sixth last person who commented on that blog and so on till you get six blogs away from where you started.
3. Don't visit your own blog of course.
4. When counting back through the commenters I decided not to include the owner of the blog. Nor did I count the same person twice.
5. Provide a link back to that post on your own blog.

Let's see what new discoveries we can make to expand our own blog circles.

Here's mine.

1. - The sixth last person to comment on my blog was Nascar and the Canadian Curmudgeon on my post Fickleness

2. His blog is Miscellaneous Ramblings and the sixth last person to comment on his blog was Drowsey Monkey on the post Redneck Fashun...Be Practical

3. Her Blog is Drowsey Monkey and the sixth last person to comment on her blog was Darlene on the post I wanna be a Koala

4. Her blog is Auntie Dar's Life and the sixth last person to comment on her blog was Sugar Queens Dream on the post Birthday Wishes for Judy

5. Her blog is Sugar Queens Dream and the sixth last person to comment on her blog was fracas on the post John Believes in Me Contest

6. Her blog is fracas and the sixth last person to comment on her blog was linkylove on the post The Monday Melee

That's certainly a mix of people and blogs that's taken me outside those I normally check and provided me with some interesting reading. As I said above I won't tag anyone so participate if you wish but leave a comment here if you do so I can look at where these travels take you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Brighton Beach 1

I have played around with some photoshop filters on these ones.

Josie's Interview Part 3 - Specialisation is for Insects

Firstly, apologies Josie for taking so long to get through this interview. I've had too many weekend meetings at work to actually find a few hours in a row to finish it. For those who don't know Josie from Picking up the Pieces has sent me five questions and along the way has also interviewed a number of far more interesteing people than I whose replies you will find links to here. So here is Question 3 and my response.

3. You have been involved in some fascinating careers thru the years. What was your original intended career when you came out of college? Which job turned out to be the most fulfilling and why? What do you like/dislike about the position you have now? Where do you see yourself ten years in the future?

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, con a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Lazarus Long - "Time Enough for Love" by Robert Heinlein

Throughout High School I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be. I toyed with the idea of being a doctor when I was really young but found out during High School that I wasn't smart enough at the time to fulfill that ambition. So in deciding I really didn't know what I wanted to be long term it was an easy out to actually take a year off before going to University.

In those days it was easy for a school leaver to pick a career in the public service or a bank, to sit an exam and be one of hundreds chosen postitions vacant with those organisations. So in 1975 I commenced my first job as an Accounts clerk in what was then called the Ministry of Conservation. It was a good place to work with good people but some of them had been there for decades and for a 17 year old the prospect of being in the one place for so long was anathema so after a few months I decided that I would indeed take the place I had deferred in an Arts Degree at Monash University and in 1976 I began my first of four years at that old alma mater.

However, I still didn't have too much of a clue about what I wanted to "be". There was a vague idea of becoming a park ranger and I therefore studied Geography with minors in Psychology and Anthropology. My double major included units in geomorphology, climatology and biogeography and that eventually lead me to an honours year where I studied palynology, which for those who don't know [and it's no shame not to] is the study of fossil pollen grains. In a nutshell I spent a year staring at a microscope counting pollen grains I had taken from a sedimentary core of a bog I called Caledonia Fen on the Snowy Plains near Mt Howitt in Victoria. This gave a climatic record stretching back at least 30,000 years into the last Ice Age and was the basis for my thesis. I think that it is still the oldest continuous highland site studied in Australia.

I studied the same subject matter with three other people, all of whom stayed in Academia and went onto gain Masters and PhD's in the same areas of study. By 1980 I was getting sick of study and decided that it was time to enter the workforce on a full time basis. I had of course held several jobs during my university studies - as a factory worker, storeman and packer, shop assistant, cleaner and part time office clerk. So I started to put in for jobs and found out fairly quickly that a knowledge of climate change didn't really qualify me to be a park ranger. What I really needed to know was how to trap a rabbit or skin a feral cat or how to build a bush dunny.

I ended up working full time for around 18 months at a department store called Waltons and had the job of counting the takings and doing the banking every day with a couple of other companions. But as with the public service job several years earlier I was not convinced that I had a long term future there. So I applied for both the Air Force and the Police Force and the application for the second came through first and within six weeks of applying I found myself in the police academy having had my shoulder length hair and beard shaved off the night before my induction.

I spent 16 years in the police force and loved most of it. I was trained in close personal protection, became a hostage negotiator and the last eight years was a Counter Terrorist specialist. I count myself lucky that I didn't leave the job bitter and twisted like many seem to. There was never a morning when I woke up and thought that I didn't want to go to work. It was always challenging and interesting and I was good at what I did. If there was a trigger for wanting to leave it was disappointment at failing Detective Training School under unusual circumstances which I have detailed here.

Perhaps the first signs of my midlife episode manifested in the itchy feet that lead me to leave the police force and to buy a franchise. We did a lot of homework before taking the plunge into business and I learnt fairly quickly that I actually knew nothing at all about running a business. The pity was that it also became evident that the franchisors were also struggling with the business as well and six months after we bought into it they went into liquidation. Whilst we struggled on for another 18 months we ended up having to follow the same path having lost close to $200k in the failed venture.

Fortunately for me, a former police colleague had set up his own business and he hired me as his Chief Intelligence Analyst and I had three good years working for him back in an area that I had a lot of knowledge in. But the toll of losing the money in the business meant I felt a great deal of pressure to try and recover financially and it wasn't long before I found myself with a second job running the Victorian Basketball League. As it turned out, it wasn't worth the hours I put in and was the beginning of my true neglect of my family. Relationships have to suffer when people work 80 hour weeks and whilst I enjoyed the work I was in some ways oblivious to the slack my wife had to pick up in looking after the family and I certainly wasn't aware of the impact on my kids. It was head down and bum up. The response of a man to mistakes he made and a desire to provide financially for his family but totally unaware of looming problems.

The second job lead directly to my current role as CEO of Knox Basketball here in Melbourne. I count myself lucky to have a full time job in sport and to have turned a hobby into a career. If I was to say what I like best about the role it is the challenge of being able to build an organisation and to have had some input into it being regarded as the best of it's kind in the country. Conversely some of the inherent enjoyment one gets from being involved in an organisation as a volunteer is lost when it becomes a paid position. Or maybe I should say that the nature of the satisfaction changes.

What do I do as CEO - actually a bit of everything, sort out problems, troubleshoot, write and implement business plans, apply strategies to our growth, answer phones, clean dunnys at times, wipe up spew, sweep floors, stack chairs, pick up rubbish, listen to parents, referees, players, coaches and anyone else who has a complaint or suggestion. As Lazarus Long said "Specialisation is for insects!"

As for ten years from now - all I'll say is I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

Friday, October 19, 2007


The fickleness of the women I love is only equalled by the infernal constancy of the women who love me.
George Bernard Shaw

Those who have been reading here for a while will know that I try and spend one night a week with my daughters. Generally, we'll go out and have a feed together, maybe go to a movie. Sometimes we'll touch on the deep and meaningful and not being someone who finds it easy to talk about feelings that has been a steep learning curve for me. I have tried to answer their questions openly and honestly and reiterated many times that all they need to do is ask me rather than dwell on things.

This week I had a meeting on Thursday night so we had arranged to go out on Wednesday. That morning I got a message from daughter number 2 asking what time I was picking them up but by the time I got there that night I was in the bad books and she wouldn't speak to me. So something had happened during the day to make her cranky and I still have absolutely no idea what that was.

Daughter number 1 and I ended up going to the movies and saw The Kingdom which we both enjoyed.

So I'm not sure when I'll see the other one. I will call her this weekend and ask if she wants a chat. Apparently she thinks I don't listen to her, but that's pretty hard when she won't talk to me. I'm guessing this is a bit of the fickleness of a 14 year old female and that maybe next week when it comes time to go out again, that she'll be OK again.

So my darling daughters - if you read this, this song is for you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I am afraid!

One of the things about the way I write is that it just spews forth. I don't spend a lot of time composing, re-writing or editing what I post on my blogs. Basically you get pretty much what I would say if we were involved in a conversation.

That sometimes means that I miss putting into a post some of the things that I would have said had I spent a bit more time thinking about it. Such is the case with the previous post on my experience, or lack of it, with alcohol.

It came to me overnight that whilst I stated that I didn't drink because of a promise I'd made to my grandmother, that maybe, that was only part of the story. I realised that I am actually afraid of drinking. For two reasons.

Firstly, I am afraid of losing control of myself. I have built a facade of dependability, of seriousness, a sober personality if you like, and I am petrified of being put in a situation where I can't control myself. I fear being laughed at or of making myself look stupid. I remember the embarrassment when my mates came around and Dad was under the weather. They thought he was cool, I just wanted to shrink back to my bedroom.

The other fear is that of being an alcoholic. Totally irrational I know, but it has been demonstrated to run in families and there is enough in mine to make me believe that there may be a genetic basis. So if I were a drinker would it lead inevitably to alcoholism? That tied in with the lack of control is enough to make me wary of ever doing so.

I've said often enough that I am a rational man, maybe that's only true up to a point as well. Because looking at what I've written doesn't make me appear all that rational. Midlife is about questioning who and why we are what we are, maybe trying to understand our own motivations and putting decisions we have made into the context of a life that now has the breadth and depth we lack as children, teenagers or early adults. It's about understanding what the warts mean in the "warts and all" tapestry that makes us who we are.

May I finish by saying to you who read and comment - thank you. In giving me feedback you are making me understand myself more fully. I feel at times that in blogging I am wiping the sleep from my eyes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nobel Peace Prize - A changing climate for the award

I have been lucky enough to have met several Nobel Peace Prize winners - Bishop Belo and Jose Ramos Horta of East Timor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela to name four. Of those I have met I must say that Nelson Mandela is one who had amazing presence and charisma. A remarkably gracious man who endured absolute and unjustified horror through his years in jail as a victim of the apartheid regime of South Africa.

Desmond Tutu is also incredibly down to earth and I remember him telling a story about that first Christmas night when Joseph searching for premises where he could rest his pregnant wife asked an innkeeper for lodging and on explaining that his wife was in labour and in desperate need of somewhere to bed down was told by the innkeeper that "it wasn't his fault." Tutu said that Joseph replied "It's not my fault either." From that moment he had the congregation he was speaking to at the time eating out of his hand.

So having met these remarkable men I find it hard to swallow that Al Gore was awarded the prize this year for preaching about climate change. Now I haven't seen "An inconvenient truth" but for me the jury on climate change is still out and the science still in question. I do know that my studies on climate change many years ago - when I actually wrote an honours thesis on climate change in the Victorian Alps - showed that there have been times in the past 10,000 years when the world was hotter than it is now.

Irrespective of my opinion on the current climate change debate, and I am willing to concede that the evidence appears to be that the Earth is warming, I don't see how the debate is relevant to the Nobel Peace Prize.

This prize is awarded by a Norwegian panel and according to Irwin Abrams when set up by Alfred Nobel was supposed to be given "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." Nobel planned his prizes only for persons, but the statutes adopted permitted the prizeawarding bodies also to make an award to "an institution or an association."

It would seem that this year the most broad interpretation of "fraternity between nations" has been used to determine the prize winner. Worthy or not, I do not see Al Gore as being someone who has furthered the cause of peace in the same manner as the likes of Nelson Mandela or Desmond Tutu.

Josie's Interview Part 2 - A non-sozzled Loz

Here is part 2 of Josie's interview of me. The link to the other people she has interviewed can be found here.

2. You have chosen to lead an alcohol-free life. Though you have probably discussed this elsewhere on your blog, I'm not familiar with the story. What are your reasons for making and staying with that choice. You stated that "drinking has had a huge impact on who I am, for good and bad". Please elaborate on both facets of that impact.

My Dad was a drinker, in fact he drank to excess, less in his later years than when we were growing up. There is a culture of drinking in Australia and a considerable amount of pressure put on young men to drink. In some cases that can lead to people having drinking problems. Dad's story is told in part on my other blog Sunrays and Saturdays.

I don't want to imply that Dad was abusive because he wasn't, but his drinking did lead to arguments and those arguments had a profound affect on me when I was growing up. There was rarely a time when we went out that Dad didn't eventually have too much to drink. There were often times when he came home late from work because he'd been at the pub and often my sisters and I would be in bed when he got home. I often used to lie awake in bed waiting for him to come home and there would inevitably be a shouting fight when he did arrive home. I would call out to him when I heard him come in the door and ask for a drink of water and it's only recently that I realised that I wanted that drink because it meant he would come down and I could see that he was home safe, not because I was thirsty.

Dad also had a brother who drank to excess and I have been told that he began to drink after a truck he was driving ran over a small car and killed a couple of ladies who were in it. It was not his fault but it triggered his alcoholism. I guess in those days things like post traumatic stress disorder were unheard of and there was no support for anyone who found themselves in that situation. Additionally my Mum had both a brother and a brother-in-law who also drank to excess.

I count myself lucky that there was no physical violence associated with the drunkenness of any of those men, or at least, if there was, that it was hidden from us.

At some stage when I was around 6 or 7 years old I remember promising my Nana [Dad's Mum] that I would never drink and I have stood true to that promise. That together with an incident when Dad left the family home for a while and a neighbour pulled me aside and told me I was now the man of the house at around 9 or 10 years of age meant I really had no choice other than to grow up a non-drinker.

Over the past 18 months I have come to understand my self better than I ever have before. I had always thought that I had embraced the responsibility of being the man in the house but in reality it lead me to become a loner. I was far more comfortable in my own company than with other people. Those of you who are loners will understand the nature of a child who spends a lot of time in his bedroom reading, writing, painting soldiers and listening to music. The bedroom was a safe place. It was mine. A place where there were no arguments, to where I could retreat and get lost in a world where I could tread Barsoom with John Carter, or walk Mirkwood with Frodo, or sail the oceans with Captain Nemo.

Alone and in that room I could control what was happening and I didn't have to be put in situations over which I had no control. I wrote about one of those times with Dad when I had no control at all over what was happening and as a kid I just had to sit back and accept my lot at the time. You can read that here if you wish in a post I called "A Bleary Road". Again, compared to the horrors faced by some people, these were minor, but still made me what I am today.

I wasn't a recluse, as I'm not now, I was just comfortable with my own company. I will admit to some apprehension about having friends around because I was embarrassed by Dad's drunkenness. So whilst there were friends who visited it wasn't something that I really looked forward to. Was I a loner because of the experiences I had growing up or was I always going to be one. It was a question I pondered in another post earlier this year.

Josie asked me what I meant about non-drinking being good and bad. Well the good is that I have in these matters anyway, stayed true to myself. The bad, is the feelings of loneliness or of not fitting into social situations. I don't wish to imply in any of this that I had a bad childhood. I didn't, we never went without and the good times far outweighed the bad. I never ever doubted that Mum and Dad loved me, that was evident in everything they did for us. But alcohol can have a profound affect on even those of us who do not use it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Josies Interview Part 1 - The Many Faces of Loz

Josie from Picking up the pieces partook in a an interview meme and threw out a challenge to people to allow her to interview them. The links to each of those interviews are here -
I am one amongst many and here is the answer to the first of five questions she has asked me.

1. I love the "Musical Monday" feature on your blog. I'm hearing lots of old favorites and finding some new ones. If you were to associate one song with each decade of your life, which song would it be, and why?

Musical Monday came about from laziness. I didn’t have the time to post and wanted something quick that would reveal a bit more about me. Thanks to youtube I found some videos of songs that have meant something to me over the years.

Narrowing a choice down to one song for a decade is not an easy task but I’ll give it a crack and try and explain why I have chosen the songs I have. In some cases I’ll repeat some of what I said in a meme I called Musical Memories early on in my blogging life. Music has always had a lot of power for me. I grew up listening to top 40 radio and well remember Casey Kasems American Top 40 countdown which I listened to on a crystal set that used to fade in and out before I was given my first transistor when I was about 8 years old one Christmas.

My Mum says I took my first steps towards Mickey Mouse on an old 22” TV when I heard the Mickey Mouse Club song, but my first memories of music were of “The Ballad of Davey Crockett” which Mum and Dad had on a 78 record which I used to ask her to lay over and over again on the black bakelite record player and radio that we had. I keep going to describe these things as old but at the time they probably weren’t. I must have been around three or four at the time which would have made it the early 60’s.

I’ll have to mention a few things in my teens because for me, like most of us, that was when my musical taste truly formed and I can’t in all honesty just choose one particular song from that decade.

Around 1969 I was given my first record by Father Christmas. Actually there were three in my Christmas stocking – Elvis Presley’s Edge of Reality and Suspicious Minds and an EP by Jim Nabors which from memory had Strangers in the Night on it. The latter I think was more a reflection of Mum and Dad’s taste than mine, although I was a fan of Gomer Pyle and Nabor’s voice on the record was so different to Gomer’s that I did find it amazing.

But the song that defines my teen years is Desperado by The Eagles. I first heard it one rainy school day when an American exchange teacher played it for us one lunch time and I was hooked. A concept album where there was a theme across the entire LP, magnificent harmonies and songs that told a story. That album singularly coloured what I listened to forever which was outside what was being played on Top 40 radio at the time although the Eagles subsequently became huge. I had the great pleasure to see them live for the first time at their Farewell Tour Number 1 a few years ago here in Melbourne, which incidentally is available on DVD.

I wrote recently about a mate of mine called Fog and how he also opened my eyes to many great artists who remain favourites to this day - Phil Collins and Genesis, Supertramp, and Stevie Wonder to name a few - but there are a couple of songs that actually stick in my mind and whenever I hear them trigger memories of past lives.

Oddly enough the first is Afternoon Delight by the Starland Vocal Band. I clearly remember driving to the beach in my mate Ian's Morris Minor with that song blasting out on high rotation on the ghetto blaster we'd taken with us. Two things stand out from that day, the first was when Ian turned down the wrong side of a median strip into the oncoming traffic and the second where driving slowly up a hill we had a wheel bounce past us which had obviously dropped off a car travelling behind us. We could never travel anywhere quickly in that car, in fact in the picture here on my first bush walk we actually had to get out and push it up a couple of hills.

The second song is Toto's Africa which again was on high rotation the first year I was out of the police academy. Over the Christmas holidays I was stationed at the small town of Port Campbell on the west coast of Victoria for six weeks. That was 1983/84 and I was often out on patrol alone with not a lot to do other than explore some of the tourist attractions along the coast. I remember driving down one dirt track and seeing more tiger snakes slithering across the road than I thought could possibly exist in any one place. Needless to say I didn't get out of the car on that road. The song coincided with my discovery of Wilbur Smith and his stories of Africa which have also become great favourites over the years.

In my 30's pay TV came to Australia and with it CMT which opened up a whole new world to me. I was then and still am now a sucker for songs that tell a story and country music therefore struck an immediate chord with me. None of what was played on that TV channel made it to radio here, unless you happened to be travelling through the bush and managed to pick up some regional radio stations before they became clones of city radio. If I had to pick one song out of that time it would be "The Road" by Sawyer Brown.

In my 40's I discovered post-grunge, Sister Hazel, Edwin McCain, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Gin Blossoms etc. We had the advantage of being able to download music and I could sample stuff I'd not only never heard of before but that I probably would have glanced over in the CD racks at the record stores. If I was to choose one song here that is characteristic of that genre it would be Champagne High by Sister Hazel. I could have chosen any one of dozens of songs from this period. I pulled together a lot of compilation CD's during that time which I tongue-in-cheek labelled lozmetal 1 and lozalt 1 and so on. My kids always gave me a hard time about the metal songs not being real metal but still for the most part liked my choices.

I'm only now a couple of months into my 50's so I'll reserve judgement on trying to anticipate where my musical tastes will roam over the next ten years. One thing I will predict is that I will continue to return to many of the songs that I have enjoyed over the years - excluding the Ballad of Davey Crockett and any Jim Nabor's songs of course.

This one has been fun Josie and a perfect intro for me into some of the tougher questions to come.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Tate Crack

I thought it referred to someone named Tate and was a story about his crack. Maybe this bloke was displaying it in a manner that made a fashion statement, much like we did in the early 70's when a bit of bum and a showing of whatever pubes we had peeking above the front of our jeans was a must.

But no, it is actually a 548 foot long, three foot deep, chasm that has been created in the floor of the Tate Gallery in London by artist Doris Salcedo at a cost of several hundred thousand pounds. I don't pretend to understand art because it is always an individual experience. I can see the beauty in the layout of a comic drawn by Barry Windsor Smith but not necessarily in a work by Jackson Pollock.

Still there is probably some intrinsic value in a crack in the ground. Maybe Salcedo herself sums it up when she said 'I began to conceive of works based on nothing'.

Apparently three women have already been injured, none seriously, by this work of nothing. Two tripped over it, one injuring a wrist and another fell into it when she thought it was an optical illusion. Funny the local Council here has just spent $100,000 repairing cracks to the brickwork in the basketball stadium I work in. I could have saved them some serious money if I'd known a little earlier about the Tate Crack.

I don't get...

I've spend a lot of time pondering things and often not finding answers, or least not finding answers that are palatable. So I thought that I would start a series of posts on what I don't get... Here is the first.

Five years ago today terrorists set off multiple bombs in cafes in Bali, Indonesia, killing 202 people including 88 Australians. The bombers, members of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiya targetted foreigners in general and Australians in particular just over a year from 911.

Fortunately they were caught and several have received the death penalty. I have to say that there are certain cases where I believe the death penalty is justified and those who commit mass murder and cloak it in the guise of religion or some other cause are one situation where I think it is appropriate.

I do however recognise that Indonesia is a society unlike our own and there are many things I do not understand about it which brings me back to the title of this entry.

I don't get how the Bali bombers can be let out of jail to visit the home of a top Indonesian policeman for a barbecue.

Brigadier-General Dharma is reported in The Age as stating that "the gathering was part of a strategy to win over terrorists."

"We approach the terrorists with a pure heart," he said. "We are all Muslims. We make them our brothers, not our enemy."

They appear to me to be my enemies. They appear to me to be people who are absolutely hell bent on destroying my way of life. They appear to have no regrets for taking the lives of so many innocents and they have shown no contrition nor offered apologies to the families of those killed. Perhaps Islam, like Christianity does tell people to forgive their enemies, I am no expert on either religion. But I am sure that neither religion sanctions the murder of innocents. I am equally sure that in my country, no chief of police, would throw a barbecue for mass murderers.

I simply don't get it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Day for Whingeing

Not sure the people I'm referring to would see it that way but it certainly looks like it to me. Firstly I have a group of women complaining about the amount of money they have to pay to play, never mind the fact that the Association has been subsidsing them to the tune of several thousand dollars a year for the past four years. Pity, that this is a public blog and I can't really spell out what's happening, but if somehow any of you ladies stumble on this entry let me say that as pissed as you are, I am more pissed at what appears to be your attitude.

Secondly another Association has been making allegations of poaching players against us. We are not interested in poaching, we have not approached any other players and why would we want to displace our own kids to let outsiders in anyway? This is from a club that has itself pulled in plenty of kids from elsewhere for years including several who began their playing career with us. And one of ours who actually trained with them without our permission in the past few weeks. What a joke! As someone wrote on one forum "That's the pot calling the kettle black!"

Still, sorting out some of these issues is why they pay me the big money :)

In September 2001 I was the Executive Officer of the Victorian Basketball League and we were about to enter a weekend of National Finals in the regional Victorian town of Bendigo. It was the same week that the airline Ansett went into receivership and basically shut down overnight with the teams who were booked to fly in now unable to get there. As a result the finals that year had to be canceled and there was an outcry about how bad that situation was.

It was also the very same week that the Twin Towers fell in New York and the world changed forever. I wrote an article at the time reminding the whingers who were complaining about the cancellation of a basketball competition that there were mothers and fathers who would never again return home that week, that there were others who would never see their children again, that friends, siblings, family members all over the world were grieving, and these winers were complaining about a basketball competition ffs.

I guess the point is it's all about context. There are days when I cope well with whingeing and others, like today, when I feel like telling people to grow up and put things into context, that there are far more important things going on in the world.

And of course I have this blog where I can have a bit of a whinge myself whenever I feel like it. So there [poking my tongue out and stamping my foot]. Now I feel much better. How's your day been?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Carnival of Australia

Just a quick one folks to let you know that the latest Carnival of Australia is posted at Kathies Soho Life blog. For an eclectic slice of Aussie blogs head on over and check them out and if you happen to be an Aussie Blogger you can join the carnival here. Thanks again to Megan for being the driving force behind this. You can read her blog at Imaginif.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Don't read if you're easily offended

That's a real warning! This may offend some people and I won't be responsible for any effrontery from what I am about to write :)

We have one particular team who enters one of our basketball competitions every season with a new name and we look forward each year to what magical use of the language they will come up with.

This season their team name is "The Notorious V.A.G." If that doesn't mean anything to you then let me put it into the context of some of the other names they have come up with over the years -
The Box
The Flange
Tuna Town
Front Bums
Bearded Tacos
Meat Curtains
Spasm Chasm

Now if you've gotten this far you may either be smiling or appalled. If it's the latter don't say I didn't warn you.

And the band played waltzing matilda

Today I awoke to the news that Australia had it's first battlefield death in Afghanistan. All we know of him at the moment is that he was a 40 year old father of two based in Brisbane. That it is the first death by direct attack, in itself is remarkable given that we have been there since day one with our allies and is perhaps a testament to the training and demeanour of our soldiers. It is a tragedy for the family of the young man killed and I fear that he is the first of more to come. With son number 1 likely to be sent overseas next year it is particularly poignant for me.

I could write reams about whether our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq is justified or not and could write an entire thesis proving both points of view. The one thing I do not doubt is that the men and women of the Australian Defence Force who are serving, do so in the knowledge that they are putting their lives on the line, and that it is their job and their duty.

I saw this on the comments to that news story above. I don't know where it originated nor who wrote it.

Ode to Soldiers Brave

Come share a glass, imbibe with me
On the eve of this historic day,
Take wine and meat, let's celebrate
In the tried and trusted way.
Let us toast the victory
Before we count the cost
Wrap the peace around us
Ere we cry for those we've lost.
Come share a glass, imbibe with me
As I salute my fallen friends,
Through their unselfish sacrifice
We reap the dividends.
Their sacrifice was the seeds of peace,
Their struggle was our fight
They answered the call when it was made,
So that we could sleep safe at night.
Come share a glass, imbibe with me
Drink from the fountain of their faith,
Believe in the life they laid down for us
Fear not the message of the wraith.
For that ghostly spectre bought your peace
With all that he could give,
He paid the price of life itself
So that you and I may live.

It is for us time to remember and whether or not we should be there, the following Eric Bogle song is a reminder of the horror of war.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Musical Monday - Edwin McCain, I'll Be

When asked what genre of music I like I tend to reply a bit tongue in cheek that it's post-grunge. But to be honest I don't even know what that means and I certainly must have missed grunge because I spent the 90's listening to talkback radio rather than music. However, when I first came across some artists labelled post-grunge I was delighted to discover groups and people like Sister Hazel, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Gin Blossoms to name a few. But close to the first I explored was Edwin McCain and the following video was one of those I found and loved from day 1 Enjoy.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

If I'd been a drinker...

I sometimes wonder how life would have turned out if I'd been a drinker. As a non-drinker I spent much of my teenage years and early adulthood being the observer rather than the participator which is a topic I've touched on many times before. I missed out on the social relaxation that alcohol seems to induce - of course I missed out on the sore heads, vomiting and drunken brawls that it sometimes leads to as well.

Still I was often appreciated as the designated driver amongst friends and certainly amongst my copper work colleagues before such a thing became the norm. In those early days in the police force, however, when there was a hard working, hard drinking, hard playing culture, it took a little time to gain the trust of some colleagues as a non-drinker. There was an innate suspicion of someone who didn't embrace the culture and maybe that observer status made me seem a little aloof or perhaps a little too straight and narrow for some people. Often when introduced to people and asked if I wanted a drink I'd say that I was a non-drinker and be treated with a look of incredulity. Just as often I'd find myself written off as someone not worthy to talk to thus reinforcing, in my mind anyway, that feeling of separateness. So it often took me a little longer to fit into groups and made me reluctant to put myself into those situations. If the boys went out for a night of drinking and playing, I'd usually try and find an excuse not to go.

Not sure how the culture is in other countries but over here in a pub situation it is considered normal to be part of a drinking school. That means everyone in the group will buy a round of drinks and if you didn't you'd end p being labelled as someone who woldn't shout if a shark bit him or as someone whio kept their hands in their pockets meaning you were too frugal or lousy to shout someone a drink. So I learn that it was better for me to make sure I bought the first round. That way I could sit on my coke whilst everyone else got slowly shitfaced on beer because, let's face it, there's only so much Coke you can drink. There'd be that familiar look of disdain if when in a drinking school you said that you'd have a coke instead of a beer, so I'd use the old joke about having used to snort Coke but I didn't like the bubbles getting up my nose, which worked as a bit of a tension breaker.

I wrote a couple of posts ago about son number 1 being down from Canberra and bemoaned the fact that I likely would not see much of him. Most people said that I shouldn't worry about that just try and understand that he'd be pretty busy catching up with his mates. And I do understand that, it's just that I wonder if I'd been a drinker whether or not I'd also have been invited to the pub for a few drinks with him or not. I also wonder whether my own relationship with my Dad would have been different too.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I decided that I'd have a look and see what the fuss on Facebook was about and set up a profile. So far most of the people I've come across know me via my basketball connections. So to prove there are 6 degrees of separation if any of you readers already have profiles how about joining my network.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

You know you're really in trouble when...

One of the regular blogs I check is by a friend Seiche, called simply Seiche. In an item this week he told of how after months of training for a martial arts tournament he got rear ended on the journey to it and ended up having his car written off and not actually making it to his destination. It reminded me of an incident that occurred way back in my previous life as a cop around 1986.

I was stationed at the Protective Security Groups and one of the roles we had was to look after crooks who were in the witness protection program but who wouldn't be actually set free with new identities because they were either doing time, or because they were required to appear in court. At this particular time we were looking after a number of people who were involved in the disappearance of anti drug campaigner Donald McKay.

At that particular time we were baby sitting some of them in what appeared to be a derelict city Hotel and, as was normal, we were working 12 hour shifts. This particular time I was on night shift and the nights were long and boring. Generally we'd pass the time playing cards and drinking copious amounts of tea or coffee [no donut jokes please, that seems to be the realm of American coppers, not Aussie ones].

Anyway, the shift finished and somehow I ended up driving the car to get back to our home base after we were relieved by the day shift. It wasn't a long drive, maybe ten minutes, and about halfway back I was making a right hand turn into Kings Way at a green light. The view to my right was obscured by the building line and the street I was turning into actually met at an angle of about 60 degrees so I wasn't able to see anything coming from that direction. Still I had a green light so anything coming along there had to be facing a red one. As I entered the intersection there was an almighty whack in the drivers side of the car and we ended up doing a 360 turn twice ending up on the tram tracks in the middle of the road.

Like Seiche's tale, fortunately no one was seriously injured, but imagine the look on the other drivers face when the five people who got out of the car he'd just cleaned up were all wearing police uniforms. And imagine the look on my face when he said that he didn't see the red light because he was lost and reading his Melways [for those who don't know that's a Melbourne Street Directory]. And yes, I had to be restrained from punching him in the nose.

You know you're really in trouble when...

One of the regular blogs I check is by a friend Seiche, called simply Seiche. In an item this week he told of how after months of training for a

The Lines are Blurring

My question is do I keep this blog going. It was my first although it began with a bit of a flurry in 2004 but was then ignored for a number of years. This was meant to be a blog that was more of a daily journal than a commentary on how I felt about things, one of my other blogs Midlife had that role.

It wasn't all that long ago that the counter on this blog clicked over 750 visits at the same time Midlife clicked to 666. Two milestone numbers that stuck in my mind. As I sit here now this blog has clicked to 3950 but the other is now sitting on 9972 and probably by the time I awaken in the morning it will have hit 10,000.

And the lines I had drawn between the two have blurred. I am now no longer quite so clear in my own mind as to why I should continue with two separate blogs. My midlife journey has become by turns reflective, contemplative and self critical. It has a number of regular visitors and commentators who have come to share and offer advice and who I now number among my friends. I won't delete this blog but I wonder if it still serves the same purpose it once did and whether in particular there is any further need for separateness. Midlife was originally somewhere I would write things that I didn't think people who knew me would read or want to read. It has become obvious over the past couple of months that quite a few of you who do read both these blogs do also know me personally and if the truth be told, probably know me far better now having read what I write, than you ever did before.

I have been contemplating a move to wordpress with my own domain name as some of my fellow bloggers have done and one advantage of that is that I can merge both of these blogs into one.

I do also have a third blog which sees relatively fewer entries per month but is specifically related to my photography [Visions of Oz if you haven't seen it]. I've not yet decided if I should merge that one as well if I do go down the wordpress path.

Any advice or comments are welcomed.