Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hogmanay heat. Hello 2010

To a Scot, New Year's Eve is known as Hogmanay. But how very un-Scottish that poor Adelaide today has 41 degrees Celsius. And across Gulf St Vincent, here it only a cool 38 degrees. I guess anything less than blood heat counts as cool. Oh good.

But at least no problem staying awake until midnight (long past my bedtime).  Nobody can sleep when it is so warm. Air-con? Can't afford to leave it running ALL night, mate.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post Christmas

To continue the fishy theme of the last blog post, I felt like a puffer fish blown up to five time its normal size, after I over-ate outrageously on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as guest with two indulgent hosts.

Today is Sunday 27th. I took me until now to un-bloat. I am working on the wording of a New Year resolution along the lines of  "must stop snacking between snacks" before I become globular. Not the same as global.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snook snookered

Hi. Two sleeps until Christmas. Oh my.

Yesterday with a nice friend, who earlier served a meal of giant prawns from Port Lincoln, I walked to the end of Edithburgh jetty. A fisherman was landing a fair haul of snook, long skinny fish resembling bigger versions of gar, or even a bit like mackerel.

My sympathies - since it was not MY meal escaping - went to a determined individual who had got out of the bucket and was well on the way to the jetty's edge and freedom before being thwarted by the catcher. Alas poor snook.

It seemed rather like the story of our lives.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hot under the collar ... in both senses

Hi. Well, yesterday's temperature here reached the too-hot 40 degrees Celsius. That's above human blood heat. It allowed me to feel guilty for keeping the air-con on for much of the day.

The stone walls of my 100-year old house are not as good insulators as you might imagine, because they were built from local limestone field rocks and without cavity (air-space): in other words, solid stone, which is great until the stone itself heats up to the outside temperature.

There's a sense other than the literal one for "hot under the collar". This morning - after overnight rain and a delicious cooling, 20 degree drop in temperature - my emails included the following excellent article by Zoe Routh. I have left her URL tag at the end, and you may enjoy the piece as much as I did.

Zoe Routh wrote ...

"I'm never short of an opinion.
My colleague remarked that I was unusually forthright in board meetings, disagreeing with the chair openly on several occasions. I've never been one to balk or pander to others because of rank; I believe whole-heartedly that every individual has something to offer debate, regardless of experience, position, or job title.

Apparently this opinion is not shared by others, as I learned recently in a strategic review meeting.

I was told with different words but with clear meaning: "shut up buttercup and respect your elders."

I do not take kindly to being told to pipe down, I can assure you! The blood boiled in my face and I sat seething in my chair.

Now I've learned a thing or two about what not to do, and this helped me a lot as I fumed, steam lifting my shirt collar.

Here's what NOT to do:

1. Do not let your emotions speak for you.
I was severely peeved at this point; had I let rip with what was screaming in my head, all the others would have heard were my feelings, red and raw. Plus they would be distracted by wiping the spittle from their eye.

The thing to do at this point is to feel the feelings fully, on my own, without vomiting these in a messy explosion. Once I'd let the storm dissipate, I could look more rationally at what the issue was, and how I'd like to present my side of the argument.

2. Resist the urge to want to win the war then and there. Having been told to get back in my box and then patronised with a deferential pat on the knee, I was ripe for a fight. However I am quite certain had I insisted on crossing swords, then I would have come off the worst - losing both my dignity and perhaps the esteem of my peers.

Taking the long view on the issue is far more effective than wanting to score points in a tit for tat battle of semantics. Knowing the ultimate outcome I wanted - to make effective long lasting change to an educational program - was far more important than arguing over the effectiveness of past programs. You can't change other people's view of the past; you are better off shaping a compelling vision of the future and inviting them to join you.

3.Don't dismiss other people's opinions because they've pi**ed you off. I may have been insulted and irritated, but this does not mean the others did not have a valid opinion. Taking a step back and asking, "Is there anything I can learn from this?"

As it turns out I had actually missed a key strategic point my colleague was making and that I agreed with. I was very glad not to have had pressed my argument more forcefully, only to realise later I had missed the point. Phew!

4. Mind your language. This is an obvious one - avoid swearing or insulting your peers. Here's a less obvious one - be careful how you express your point of view. I have a tendency to use colourful, vivid language to make a point. I think this is my Canadian background seeping through. However, other people may not appreciate being told they 'need a fire lit under their a**' when a simple phrase like, 'focused motivation' would be more appropriate. Ahem.

5. Don't forget - you're all on the same team and ultimately want the same outcome. I heard Chris Howard, personal development guru, describe this as 'chunking up' an argument until you get to the place where you realise you want the same thing. Then you can work down again around the issue where the differences come up, seeking common ground and a compromise. This can help take the sting out of disagreement and reassert respect.

Lastly, the basic common denominator is about respect. No matter if I was patronised, denigrated, or dismissed, I can still be a leader and respect my colleague, agreeing to disagree, and conceding our differences.

I can always take out my frustration in the gym. It's hard to be angry when you're lathered in a pool of sweat on the step machine.

With love and appreciation." (end of article by Zoe Routh)

Author's Bio
Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Author Zoe Routh works with women in business to enhance their personal effectiveness and leadership capacity for global effect. For free tips on how to become a more effective leader that will save you time, money, energy, and stress, go to

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ulysses his odyssey to Point Turton

You knew that. Ulysses and Odysseus are variant names for the same bloke from Homer's epic poem. Today, Sunday 13 December real time in South Australia, I am off to have lunch at the Tavern-on-Turton pub - a fairly new one - located at the very attractive township of Point Turton with a fine view northwards over Hardwicke Bay. So, a minor expedition or odyssey to get there, to join fifty or so members of the Ulysses motor cycle club who are having one of their club runs on this perfect-weather day.

And no, I'm not going on a motor bike! Have owned three over the years, but no longer. It just happens that my house guest this weekend is a club member but is skipping today's long run with the club, consenting to have lunch with me at the pub and to travel there in my boring old car, and tell me more about the elderly bus she has acquired. The bus came with a country shack she has bought near Ulverstone in Tasmania - and it, the bus, is currently holding up the carport. Sounds interesting. I'm even invited to go and stay. The shack is in a wildlife park. Does wildlife mean there are bikers? Or is that bikies? And which ones have the tattoos? I forget.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Hi! I have spent today recovering from an early pre-Christmassy lunch which went for much of yesterday. Technically it was a dry affair - plenty of wet OJ and the like - but the sherry trifle worked its magic, or so goes the rumour.

The nosh-up merged seamlessly into a harmonious (who said raucous?) singalong to piano, tuba, trombone and cornet.

Poetry was done too. I had the temerity to essay Marriot Edgar's Albert and the Lion, made famous by Stanley Holloway. I took advantage of Elsie's absence - off to visit the grandkids - to perform my warped idea of the Lancashire accent. Thank goodness for the trifle.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An astute observer of Oz politics

My friend Bill B. in Tasmania - whither he retired from Adelaide - is a very sharp observer of politics in the magical Land of Oz, the country we often call Australia. His blog is a repository of wise reflection, at times no doubt controversial. Bill himself would applaud robust debate and diversity of view.

If you want to connect to his blog let me know: I'd need to get his permission since I do not provide contact details willy-nilly. However, what he wrote is worth the reading - and here it is: Bill gave it the heading


"Yesterday we were treated to the spectacle of Tony Abbott being elected as federal Liberal leader. Abbott represents the socially conservative extreme of his party. Conservative commentators like Miranda Devine are in ecstasy.

Abbott's election was, as they say of doubtful convictions, "unsafe". The result was 42-41, but they had denied a vote to Fran Bailey, a Turnbull supporter who was away ill. And on Saturday, two new Liberal members, likely Turnbull supporters, will be elected in the inner city byelections in Higgins and Bradfield.

Abbott's conservatism is also unsafe. A few years ago a young man turned up thinking he might be Abbott's son, from a pregnant and deserted girlfriend in Abbott's past. In Abbott's morality, not taking precautions and then deserting a mother and child is OK, but using a condom would be evil. In this case, Abbott was shown not to be the father, but how many real deserted offspring might there be?

Both sides of the parliamentary debating table are now manned by conspicuously religious men: Rudd, a conservative Anglican, on one side, and Abbott, a conservative Catholic, on the other. It's like something out of the 17th century.

We are concerned that all five parties in the federal parliament are socially conservative.
  • For PM Rudd and Labor, everything is either "revolting" or "disgusting" and he never stops telling us so. Gays are inferior scum whose relationships don't deserve recognition.

  • The Liberals have elected one of their their most socially conservative members as leader, replacing socially progressive Malcolm Turnbull.

  • The Nationals were part of the conservative take-over of the Liberals.

  • For Family First, social conservatism is the essence of their existence.

  • Most shocking of all, the Greens have lurched to the conservative end of the social spectrum with their endorsement of Internet censorship campaigner Clive Hamilton in Higgins and prostitution recriminalisation campaigner Kathleen Maltzahn in Richmond. I recently received a letter from Senator Ludlam confirming that the Greens are in favour of Internet censorship, a massive and unheralded change of policy.
Socially progressive people are now completely unrepresented in the Australian parliament. Surely there must be others besides us who would like to have someone speaking for them."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Saints and Sinners, and Saintly Singers

Hi again. Well, here it's December the first. We seem to get to each day ' bout twenty hours ahead of the Pacific Coast of the Americas, so don't be alarmed.

I find myself reading, on-line and for editorial purposes, an academic tome of 130,000 words on the medieval saints and the Christianization of Scandinavia and East Europe a thousand years ago. Among other exciting things, it was those bloody vikings who helped lots of missionary types to later sainthood via the classic route of martyrdom.

I'm only one fifth of the way into it, and nobody told me the blooming book would have quotations and citations in - encountered so far - nine languages not counting the changes in some languages in the past millenium.

Shucks, I'll worry about it next week. THIS week is all about the three Christmassy concerts our wee singing group and associated brass band are performing in local towns. We don't sing along with the brass players and we try to discourage them from showing up. But what can you do? It's a case of various wife and husband duos. Sing, play; play sing; play play; sing sing. Argue? Not likely. I won't even go there.

Today's singing effort was fun and well received. Bonhomie prevailed. The song numbers included a hippopotamus (the crocodile isn't until Friday) plus Santa Claus and several infant kids identified by balloons, teddy bears, pacifiers (dummies) and oddly assorted night attire. Never mind that the average age of the performers was 70+ (yes, the kids). I dunno. Someone told me I take myself too seriously.

Tomorrow, ye gods, a similar program will be performed at inland M., whereas today's was at S. by the seaside, on the fair shore of the Gulf St Vincent. A clue: tomorrow's venue means "Sweetwater Wells" in the aboriginal Nurrunga language. The Friday gig is at our regular haunt, no less than W. ("The Big W"), population 450. So now you know. If you're driving from Sydney, hop in the car NOW. It's about a two and a half day drive.