Friday, January 30, 2009

Trust is like virginity...

...once gone it's very hard to get back.
I've told this story twice in comments on other sites in the past day both for very different reasons.   Firstly over at Paisley's site it was made to make a point about trust being earned by people whom we regard as experts.  Secondly over on That Darn Girl's blog it was made in a much more flippant manner.

But given the synchronicity I thought that I'd re-tell the story here.

A number of years ago I tore a groin muscle playing basketball.  In some pain and wondering whether I might need some extra investigation to see how bad the tear was I decided to attend at my local GP's.   After telling him that I had felt the groin tear whilst running down the court the previous night he asked me to drop my dax and climb onto the examination table.  He then grabbed me by the balls and asked me to cough and came to the conclusion that I had an infection whereupon he prescribed a course of antibiotics.
Needless to say I didn't fill the prescription nor did I ever go back to his surgery again.  So like I said at the beginning of this post there is a certain amount of automatic trust we invest in people because of the position they hold, but it may only take one little breach in that trust to find that it is gone forever.  And once gone it is really hard to get it back.

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Cartoon from Cartoonstock

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nerds and DNA

I'll admit it.  I'm a nerd.  And in some eyes maybe a little weird because one of my interests has been in genealogy and my family history.  It's not something I've spent a lot of time writing about here but for a number of years it was a consuming passion.  Without going into a lot of detail I am descended from four Roamn Catholic Irish convicts on my paternal Grandfathers side, from a bunch of orangemen on dad's Mum's side, and on my Mum's side a mxture of English, Scot, Irish and Australian Aborigine.

A few weeks ago I read in one of the local papers about the DNA Ancestry Project.    For a fee anyone can have their DNA examined and linked to various genetypes and the related places of origin.   For example did you know that in 5th Century Ireland there was a King called Niall of the Nine Hostages, who had 12 sons and from whom as many as three million people alive today are descended.   In fact one in every five men in north western Ireland and one in ten men in Scotland carry the same Y chromosone DNA as Niall.

For men there are two types of tests that can be done - the Y chromosone is passed down the male line from father to son, and that of the mitochondrial DNA we all inherit from our mothers and their mothers.  Women of course can only do the second test because they don't carry the y chromosone.

So at some stage in the next few months I think I will order a participation kit.  Tracing my female line should finally confirm my aboriginality on mothers side, and given Michael Joyce,my great great Grandfather, came from County Galway it will be interesting to see if I am descended from Niall of the 9 hostages.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Toes and genetic defects

It was almost a year ago when we were heading off to Thailand on what was to be my first overseas holiday.  I kept a journal and had every intention of typing it up for this blog but then I got sacked, had to find a new job, moved house and found a few other things to deal with like putting the blog into stealth mode for months because of some strange visitors.   Anyway, it's a year on and I thought I would commence to post some of the stories of the trip.   Here is the first.

4th February 2008
...on return to the hotel this afternoon we decided to have a massage special for 200 baht for an hour.

As luck would have it all the young masseuses were already busy so I got the matriarch of the crew.   Now whilst she didn't look like another well known Melbourne matriarch [she had two eyes for a start] she shared her penchant for inflicting pain.

This commenced with a foot massage - toes ripped from sockets, feet bent indirections they were never intended to go, pressure points found in spots where I thought there was only skin.

It was totally silent in the room, the other six women who were being worked on all appeared to be in relaxed states of sleep or unconsciousness.   The only sound were my grunts of pain or squeals when a finger found a particularly sore spot.

Every now and then she would stop and say something in Thai which I'm sure meant "Have a listen to this wuss", or, "Get a load of his weird little toes."   And all the other masseurs would burst out with huge belly laughs.

Just when I thought it was getting safe again she told me to roll over.  Now no one ever told me that a Thai foot massage meant that a Thai woman would walk up and down your back digging her feet into your spinal cord.  I flet like Id been run over by a tuk tuk.

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A couple of weeks later we had moved onto Chang Mai and decided to have another massage.  Time hadn't made the heart grow fonder but had certainly dulled the memory of the pain of the first one.  This time we were seated in chairs and it was a couple of young blokes who worked on us, just as painfully.  But what I remember most is that when I took off my shoes the bloke working on me looked at my toes, nudged the guy next to him, said something I couldn't understand and they both burst out laughing.  Are they really that weird?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bush Lore

These have been doing the rounds and as a great fan of Yogi Bera I thought it was worth looking at how George Dubya had assumed the mantle. 
'The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.'
- George W. Bush
'If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.'
- George W. Bush
'One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.'
-George W. Bush
'I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.'
- George W. Bush
'The future will be better tomorrow.'
- George W. Bush
We're going to have the best educated American people in the world.'
- George W. Bush
'I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.'
- George W Bush
'We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe '
- George W. Bush
'Public speaking is very easy.'
- George W. Bush
'A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.'
- George W. Bush
'I have opinions of my own --strong opinions-- but I don't always agree with them.'
-George Bush
'We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.'
- George W. Bush
'For NASA, space is still a high priority.'
-George W. Bush
'Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children.'
-George W. Bush
'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'
- George W. Bush
And with that let us bid adieu.    Whether it is fond or not I will leave to my American friends to decide.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Volvo Drivers

I've been back home from the south coast of New South Wales for a couple of weeks now and haven't found the time to blog much.  Lots to say and so little time.   However, I thought I'd mention this observation and ask whether it is the same in other parts of the world.

On our last nigh of holiday we decided to have fish and chips for dinner.  Now in a seaside town during the high holiday season that usually means waiting up to an hour for the food after ordering.  Generally it's worth the wait and I usually take a book to read while I'm waiting anyway.

On this night as i drove down the main street a volvo driver decided to stop in the middle of the road in front of me, no indicator, no spare car space for him to wait for, he just decided to prop.  Being in holiday mode myself I probably showed a bit more patience than usual and waited behind him, figuring that sooner or later he would decide what he wanted to do.  But he didn't.  And as I sat and watched as a couple of minutes rushed by I saw around 20 other people enter the fish and chip shop ahead of me.   Already resigned to a long wait I knew it would be longer because that Volvo driver was totally oblivious to everyone else around him.

Then on the way home the next day I found myself passing another Volvo driver around a dozen times.  He would slow down on the sections of the Princes Highway that had double lines or many curves where there was no opportunity to pass and then when an overtaking lane appeared he would move from 20 kph below the speed limit to 10 above it.  What do these people think?  Is it a deliberate ploy to make the rest of the non-Volvo world angry?   Anyway I'd speed up enough to pass him, then slow back down to the speed limit only to find he would pass me again and wait until we hit the no passing areas before once again dropping to 20kph below the speed limit.

So tell me - have you noticed the same type of behaviour from volvo drivers where you come from?

Friday, January 23, 2009

The strangest places

Perceptions are an odd thing I've decided.  The other day my son asked me how I survived in the Police Force being a non-drinker.  I told him that I didn't know any different, but unlike a lot of my peers I didn't spend a lot of time socialising at the Police Club which in those days was adjacent to Russell Street Police Station and always full of coppers, most of them off duty, unless you were a detective and then given you were on duty all the time it didn't really matter whether you were on or off shift, if you get my drift.

Anyway, the truth was that I was never at my best in crowds or social situations.  I was shy, I didn't enjoy smoky, beery environments, and at the time, I was a young married man with a couple of young sons and I much preferred being home than out.  I don't think I was ever given any credit for that.  And that doesn't mean I think I deserved it, just that the homeliness wasn't appreciated.

The being home thing is the one true trait that reveals me as a Cancerian I guess and not much has changed over the long years since.   Looking back [and maybe some of you who have regularly read this blog will know] my loner personality was evident pretty early in life.  I've heard recently that someone I used to be close to had described me as a boring man and as someone no one would look twice at, and to be fair, that has an element of truth.   Social situations and building relationships used to scare the crap out of me.  I'd much rather lock myself at home rather than put myself in a situation where I might have been vulnerable.

So son, if you one day read this.  I have no regrets about spending the time at home rather than getting pissed with my mates.   I wonder sometimes whether I may have ended up with closer and better friends than I had, but it is a waste of time wondering for too long.  In the end we do what we do because it seems the right thing at the time.  Sometimes experience and hindsight may tell us that we should have explored some things more fully, that letting walls down and friendships in may not be such a bad thing after all.   But two wise men have left behind two wise comments -

"To thine own self be true."  and
"I yam what I yam and that's all I yam"

And for those who don't recognise the quotes the first is William Shakespeare, the second is Popeye, which simply proves that wisdom can be found in the strangest places.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Summer's 'Ere

Two days ago the temperature topped 39C and the wind was the type that sucks the moisture from your eyeballs at the same time it squeezes the grit in.   Today just after 8am it is already in the high 20's.

Last night there were gale force northerlies, rattling windows, blowing blinds and waking birds well before sparrow fart.  Every little creak of the house seemed to be magnified and the echoes woke the dogs who lent the chorus of their barks to the cacophany.

Winds that were strong enough to blow a dog off a chain.

Living in the hills of Melbourne I fear days like today.   The winds bring the threats of bushfires and the drought we have suffered for 10 years means that fuel is high and the ground dry.  We are expecting some sort of cool change this afternoon but that will come with thunder storms which bring their own threats.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's about time

I won't be sorry to see the back of 2008.  It was the best of times it was the worst of times.   And I have actually tried writing this post twice and been thrown out and lost it twice.  Maybe someones trying to tell me something.   I was pretty ungracious to people in the earlier versions.  So I figure I'll tone it down a bit.

What did I learn?

Firstly that putting things in writing is not necessarily a good thing with personal stuff because it can be passed onto people who have no right to see it.  That people will also talk out of school - two job interviews in a the same industry this year spent a lot of time concentrating on my personal life rather than my ability to do the job.   Made me realise that maybe I won't work in that industry again.   People gossip way too much.

Secondly with work stuff I've learnt that I need to insist on having things in writing.  Despite people claiming friendship and giving personal undertakings to behave in a certain way, they will do what is best for them not for you.

And from that lesson and others I've learnt that friendship is a fickle thing.  That some people sometimes will judge and not be able to shift from that judgement.    That forgiveness is not easily come by.

I've also learnt that people need to be held accountable in the roles they are in.    It is not right that they ignore what their governance documents tell them they should do.   If you accept that the personal qualities required for a position include honesty, respect and professionalism, then make sure you abide by them rather than ignore them.

And despite that, I have learnt that help comes from unexpected places and that there are people who are prepared to assist where they can.

That if the universe has a purpose it is sometimes cloaked in darkness.  That things unfold as they will and that the unexpected is the norm.

And there were also plenty of good things - a trip to Thailand with my lady, a recommitment and rebirth of my relationship with my daughters, my heart to hearts with my sisters, my Mum's finally agreeing to meet my new lady and her efforts to come to know her, my new dog Ramsey, our new home, the new work direction and meeting new people.

So the worst of times but way more importantly the best of times.

And if the universe has a purpose I have learnt that it is better not to know what it is.  That there will always be unexpected turns, for better and worse, but that ultimately in all things, good and bad, we can learn lessons to make us better people.