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Top 10 business blogs

March 4th, 2014 ordinary content Comments off

This post has more emphasis on the praise element, well deserved.

Team of my friends are smart cookies behind gemaker and have presented a blog which is in the top ten best business blogs for 2014, as published by SmartCompany.com.au

They are specialists in commercialisation and innovation for companies and research organisations. They are a team of professionals who help businesses bring their new work to life, and polish ideas for the market.
Go, you good people!

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Make the Ordinary Come Alive

March 3rd, 2014 ordinary content Comments off

Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

By William Martin,

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Henry Thoreau

September 4th, 2013 Peter Hindmarsh Comments off

From the journal of Henry Thoreau’s: 28-Aug-1851

“I omit the unusual—the hurricanes and earthquakes—and describe the common. This has the greatest charm and is the true theme of poetry. You may have the extraordinary for your province, if you will let me have the ordinary. Give me the obscure life, the cottage of the poor and humble, the workdays of the world, the barren fields, the smallest share of all things but poetic perception. Give me but the eyes to see the things which you possess.”

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Sing it loud

September 18th, 2010 ordinary content No comments

I’m listening to a podcast of The Last Night of the Proms on web radio, from the BBC, as a way to relax from this morning. I usually don’t like some of the music from the regular proms, the pieces are often a bit too unfamiliar, esoteric and too highbrow.

But on the last night the audience let down their hair and have fun, as a reward for being a good audience during the season. By tradition, in the second half of LNAP they play the Sailors’ Hornpipe, and sing that old chestnut Rule Britania, then Jerusalem; there’s lots of balloon popping, whistle blowing, wearing of silly hats and champagne sploshing. They sway together to The Bride’s Chorus the way you or I might sway to The Maori Farewell. Its what kids have been doing at pop concerts for decades, whereas at classical concerts the stiff-necks rule

Traditionally the Proms finish with Land of Hope and Glory (Pomp and Circumstance), which gives the lads and lasses a chance to swell their chests, wave their flags and bang their party poppers (usually out of sync with the orchestra)

There’s six thousand in the Albert Hall singing and jigging, They have big screens around England with crowds of prommers who can’t make it into the Hall joining in, in outdoor places like Hyde Park, (30 000 people) plus Dublin and Scotland, with the picnikers singing along just as if they were in the hall.

At this moment they are singing ‘ You’ll never walk alone’, and bodies are swaying, and all the parks are joining in. It is delightfully emotional.

I’ll freely admit that I get a little moist-eyed at some of the songs each year as I listen to the LNOP. The audience shows that there’s pride in their nation and its not just patriotic jingoism.

I’m not up for flag-waving nationalism and raw tribalism of some countries and their anthem singing. However, I like living where I live and if it comes to international sporting events I like it when an Aussie player does the rivals over. But then after the game I want to enjoy a beer with the otherside; you never know, next time the Aussies might get done, and then its someone elses’ fans turn to shout.

The Brits have done Pride in Country well. Their spirit has taken many forms over the years, a bulldog, Swinging Britain, their spirit during the second world war. They have some traditions worth following. Especially their football club fan loyalty and colour wearing. (Go the Gunners)

I am against clubs’ hooligan violence, but the old time team songs sumg at astadium during play is enough to stir the blood. Just like the Kiwi Haka.

The only Aussie team song that comes close to having the same rallying power is the song of the Collingwood Aussie Rules team. In this video its sad to say they have to play a recorded version over the public address system, the fans don’t have enough oomph to do it themselves

I grind my teeth with ferocious embarrassment when I watch an Australian representative sporting team lined up before the game, ready for the national anthem, and its obvious the players don’t know the words.

I don’t expect a ‘last night at the proms’ on the sporting field, but something more than a shy mumble would be good.

But still, Aussies are young and free. We’ve only had 30 years to learn the words of our national anthem, so without a karaoke-like prompt, sportsmen can’t be expected to remember the whole 20 lines.

I’m a late bloomer, not a Boomer.

February 3rd, 2010 ordinary content No comments

Why is the Baby Boomer generation treated as if they are special and important? There’s nothing extraordinary about people born between ’45 and ’64, except there are lots of them.

I beat the rush. I was a result of the start of the war. In 1939 my mum met a handsome bloke, a new recruit who probably looked good to her in his new uniform. He enlisted almost as soon as war was declared. He probably used the old soldiers line “ I am going away, and might not come back. We only have tonight for me tor remember while I am over there, fighting”. He was right, he didn’t come back.

We war babies grew up in a society strongly over represented by women. I was on the map too late to have been a part of the great depression, but I can remember my family was still affected by the poverty from those times.

There was no male in the household to earn the normal male based income of the time, so mum worked in an armaments factory during the war, and my grandmother cleaned houses for the officers’ wives class. This was a time governed by shortages, not just shortage of cash. This was a time of rationing books, meat was rationed, petrol was rationed, eggs and sugar were rationed ” for the war effort”. Our family saucepans were taken, to melt down for aircraft parts.

My family saved string, darned socks and budgeted all week to give me threepence pocket money on Saturday when I started school.

Then I was too old and conservative (in my twenties) to really be bona fide participant in the youth revolution of the sixties, the one big time when Boomers did something for the world.  Boomer time was a time of plenty, and immediate satisfaction. They, and my grandkids want it all, and they want it now!

I was ready for retirement when most of the Baby Boom bunch were worrying about their mid-life crisis. The The government began to worry about the cost of paying pensions to that great swell of Boomers, so they announced a plan to give a big bonus to Baby Boomers to stay on at work instead of retiring. Sadly, I retired a month before the scheme started, so I missed out on a lovely big lump sum.

I went back to work because the pension for war babies wasn’t enough to live on.

And now the government has announced a new financial incentive scheme to encourage the Boomers to stay on a work. I am five years past the old retirement age; my employer has decided to make me redundant, to make room for more Boomers on the staff.

 I will work till I drop. After all, I am part of the generation who will make do. My only choice is to work independantly. The pension will put me on a new form of ration card

Now I am only a blogger. I am a late starter in this field. Its a new career, and I need to find a way to beat the Boomers, and make some living money from the business.

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Ordinary height and weight

December 18th, 2009 ordinary content No comments

UK scientists are looking for a 5ft 9in, 182 pound-weight man and a 5ft 4in 154 pound-weight woman to be immortalised as sculptures of Mr and Mrs Average of today

The Science Museum is looking for Mr and Mrs Average to represent the standard shape of modern Britons in an exhibition all about identity called Who Am I?

The winning entries – who for the men must also have a 38in waist and for women a 34in waist – will have their bodies scanned and then replicated in a full size nude to go on permanent display.

Members of the public, aged between 18 and 44, who match the average measurements – produced by the NHS Health Survey for England – will be given the chance.

According to writer Greg Callaghan, in a look at body shapes, in the Australian in 2008, Professor Maciej Henneberg, head of anatomical sciences at the University of Adelaide said that the first modern humans to arrive in Europe from Africa at least 20,000 years ago were as tall as we are today, only far more muscular.

By the time Shakespeare was penning Hamlet, the average European bloke had shrunk to about 165cm tall. Height only started to nudge up again after the bonuses of the industrial revolution

When Henneberg arrived In Australia in 1995 he was struck by the lack of basic research into our body shape. He found that the last major survey of body measurements had been done by Australia’s oldest manufacturer of bras and lingerie, Berlei, back in 1926, in which 5000 women were put under a tape measure.

In Oz in 1926 59kg (130 pounds) and 161cm (5 ft 3 inches)tall was average height and weight for a 28 year old woman. For a 30 year old Oz bloke then 174cm (5 ft 8 inches)tall and 72kg (158lbs)was the average weight and height.

In 2008 the average Oz woman had grown to 71kg (156lbs) and 163cm (5ft 4) tall, 12kg heavier but only 2cm taller than her great-great grandmother. The bloke has grown to 85kg(187lbs) and 178cm tall (5ft 10″), 13kg heavier than a typical male back in the 1920s.

But in the twenties, most people’s bodies were roughly the same shape and size as one another. Today, prosperous-looking people tend to be slim and poorer folk are plumper.

One result is that average clothes sizes in shops vary so much. A size 12 in one brand will be a size 16 in another. A medium shirt in one brand is sloppy around the waist, while a large will struggle to allow the button to meet.

Thoughts about the environment

December 14th, 2009 ordinary content No comments

Pressure and determination from ordinary people can, and will, help change political attitudes to things that damage the climate.

I’ve seen how actions from a few reduced an earlier poison threatening life through the environment, lead. The determination of ordinary citizens took on the might of the petrol companies and forced them to removed a major commercial lead additive from fuel that contaminated the air.

And I saw how the anger of one woman helped clean up a deadly mining town, run by one of the world’s biggest miners, when she realised how damaging their sloppy commercial practices were to the health of her children and others who lived near the mines.

I was born in Broken Hill.

This was a great mining town, source of massive wealth for the whole of Australia, producing mainly lead, zinc and copper, but also producing a death sentence or acute sickness for miners and their families, and anyone who lived around the rail line taking lead ore to the smelters further south.

I remember bitter tales and folklore told by my grandmother, of men dying in pain from working in the mines, of the poverty of the widows and of the pigheadedness of unions and management.

 There was a myth that the mighty Barrier Unions looked after their own workers. I am not so sure that was as true as the unions would have us believe.

  Take the “lead bonus”, for example. This was an extra payment to miners, introduced following determined social pressure, ostensibly to allow those who dug the metal ore out of the ground to share in the wealth their work created. There were good years in Broken Hill, when the price of lead sold overseas meant new clothes and holidays. The price of lead was especially high during the years of the war, when the metal was needed to make bullets and tanks.

But supposing, as my grandmother told me, lead breathed in from the ore and dirt and soil in the town killed miners and crippled kids. The widow often couldn’t work in that town - and until the lead bonus, miners didn’t make  enough money to pay for decent insurance – that cost a few pennies a week  but certainly wouldn’t make a widow rich. And at that time pensions were a dream only in the minds of very few politicians.

 Sometimes the miners’ wives grew sick from lead poisoning, caused by washing lead soiled clothes of the miners. Sometimes the children grew sick, playing in soil that was thick with contamination from dust blown in from the mine. Sometimes familes grew sick eating vegetables grown in soil saturated with lead dust and cooked in water filtered through lead.

The real economics of the lead bonus was to allow the miner to accumulate up some meagre assets, so when dad came home from the mine one day wearing a shroud, the family had some  possessions to pawn for food.

A massive memorial at the top of the mines lists names of those many men who died directly in the mines; The first name on the memorial is shown to have died from lead sickness.

My grandfather wasn’t around when I was born, thanks to the mines. My father wasn’t around when I was born - I sometimes think of the irony if the bullet that killed him in the war was made from lead from Broken Hill.

There weren’t health services in Broken Hill then as they have them now, monitoring and testing the children every year to measure the amount of lead in the tiny bones and brains. Kids were slow witted and sickly. My grandmother had seen what was happeing to the young children then, and she blamed the lead. She wasn’t going to let that sort of sickness happen to her grandson.

Although there was good work available in Broken Hill during the war, my grandmother and her daughters packed me into a bag and moved down to Adelaide.

There were some who stayed, those who had no way out or felt  loyalty to their mates.. The same sort of loyalty as happened in other parts of Australia, such as in asbestos mining towns. 

As soon as they could, my family got this young kid out of Broken Hill. You might think with that level of brainwashing I had about the dangers of lead, I would avoid the stuff at all costs. But the world I grew up in didn’t work like that. Lead was big money and a big part of our lives.

The house we moved to in Adelaide had lead in the paint on the walls. There was lead in the paint on my cot. I played with lead toy soldiers.

When I was about 10 years old my uncle showed me how to melt lead and make my own sinkers, so we could go fishing. I soon adapted that skill to make my own lead moulds for toys, using lead I picked up along the side of rail tracks.

My mother had a collection of lead crystal glassware, so sparkling! There was lead lining in the ice chest.

In my teens I had a lead belt that I wore when I went spear fishing, and I loved tinkering with old car batteries, a great source of acid and lead for weird teenage experiments. Sometimes I would try to be practical, and re-condition the batteries.

There was lead in the petrol I pumped into my cars, and in the air I breathed from passing traffic; I was 44 years old before the government banned the use of lead in petrol for cars.

When television came to Australia, there was lead in the glass of screens of the heavy monitors, to prevent radiation; just like in x-ray rooms. And so it goes.

Of all the blood tests I’ve had in my life, I don’t remember any doctor telling me that my blood was tested for lead deposits. I do wonder now if nosebleeds (those I had when I wasn’t fighting) were a symptom of lead in my system, if my slow wit could be traced back to those fishing sinkers.

When I went back to Broken Hill several times over the years  I met friends of my family who had stayed and fought the mining companies, to clean up the waste dumps around the mines and and make the companies pay to have the ore trains covered, so dust couldn’t drop off along the tracks. New mines were forced to pay for massive projects to remove top soil all around the town- in one place to a depth of dozens of metres - to get the surface lead out of town and make for some possibilty for a normal life.

It was individuals and citizens groups who forced these changes, not the unions, not the  political parties.

If one person, with a network, can force a giant company to get the lead out, I have high hopes the same will happen now, with ordinary citizens forcing polluters to get man’s excessive carbon pollution out of the soil, the sea and the sky.

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Days look a little rosier lately

December 11th, 2009 ordinary content No comments

I have been off air for a while. Not as a result of health issue , but what’s been happening at work.

For nearly a year life at work has been somewhat scungy . Heads have been rolling, members of the team I worked with have been moved to other sections in tears, and others were shown the door, swapped for newer and less experienced models. Management brought in a psychologist to  prod those who remained into being a team.

Stress like that is a condition  of working which many people suffer. It happens at all levels of work. 

I thought I was handling the stress and drama, but apparently not. I made a mistake, and the management gods had me as a plaything for a while.

As a result, I was dumped into an outer department; this was an easy solution to management’s problem of what to do with me.  The mistake I made, was the excus emanagemnt used to get me out of their hair. I made a mistake of judgement, nothing earth shattering, but they made a mountain out of it.  I keep hearing from intimates that their real problem was my being a bloke, a gender issue. I was a sole token male in a group of women. I don’t believe that affected my team work, but it seems to have been a problem for others in the team.

I used to come home from work drained by the dramas and go back the next morning tired and dejected.

Luckily for my self esteem, my banishment to another department and downgrading of my job happened at the same time as the state premier got dumped by incompetent political party management, and in the same week a leader in the federal parliament was dumped by infighting in his party, so I see that I am in great company with other notable outcasts.

Noteably there are equal numbers of men and women in the section where I work now, and its a happy team.

Now I am more relaxed. I feel as if I had been bog snorkelling, and have now surfaced (covered in mud, but able to breathe freely).

At least I feel like looking at the web again. Blood flows in my veins. Ideas bounce around while I shower in the morning. I can even tackle the morning cryptic crosswords ( still can’t solve them, but a few clues don’t look so frightening as when I was befuddled.

Let’s see how it evolves. life goes on.

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Cancer is fairly ordinary

August 29th, 2009 ordinary content No comments

Cancer in our society is fairly ordinary, nothing exceptional.

My mother died from cancer. She smoked too much. My loved cousin ( he was more of a brother) died from cancer. He worried too much. My daughter’s mother in law has just had news of breast cancer. She loved her kids, too much(?).

At 68 years of age  I have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. This is fairly ordinary. I am not sure what it was that I did too much, probably something my teachers told me to stop doing as a kid, to which I didn’t listen.

I understand that 80 percent of men over the age of 70 who die have prostate cancer, its often not that they die from cancer of the prostate, but some other cause. I don’t mean to negate the problem of prostate cancer, With care, I believe its possible to still have a bunch of years of being an active grandfather and father left in my portfolio.

I have had annual physical checks for a while, and they found no indications of a problem. It was a chance blood test on another issue that alerted my GP to the possibility. The cancer was verified though a biopsy.

My carers have prescribed hormone treatment, to keep the cancer in remission. My daughter assures me that if she can live with enlarged boobs and and mood swings, then so can I, as a side effect from the treatment.

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Fame passed me by

July 12th, 2009 ordinary content No comments

It was a long wait, sitting in the reception of the doctor’s surgery last week. Those MD bastards always overbook their schedule and keep the world waiting.

But I had plenty of time to browse the magazines; mostly rubbish, mostly gossip and mostly irrelevant. Muckazines like Now and New idea and Who discussing the hairstyle of a known baldman or the latest temper tantrum of a TV news reader. Looking at the pictures and the claims to celebrity of so many sportmen and starlets and managers absconding with fortunes, I started to think about Fame.

Back in the sixties Andy Warhol promised everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. Sadly, I missed my turn. Generally, then, a person had to do something fairly spectatular and useful to be famous: write a novel that changed the face of society, or  discover a continent or save a crashing economy from destruction. I lived at the other end of Fame. I couldn’t even get a mention in the local parish newsletter for going to church on Sunday.

Then came the era of celebrity. Fame was too hard to achieve the old fashioned way, but any sweet young thing could become a celebrity, often for doing nothing too well, but doing it where people could see their knickers. I don’t know if being a celebrity paid well, or people were celebrated because they weren’t celibate. As people gathered news headlines about themselves, or featured in the social pages, I thought that ceIebrity had very little in common with being bright. did a lot of nothing during those years, and I missed my turn to be a celeb .

Now the great flooding tide is one of popularity. To be a success, I apparently will need to amass incredible numbers of ‘friends’ on the ‘facebook’ web site, or ‘followers’ on the ‘twitter’ phenomenon or get elected to parliament. I don’t know yet if success in popularity would make me rich, or if I will need to spend a fortune throwing parties for gatecrashers that I don’t know, or having a large database of contacts. But I suspect I will miss out in this rollercoaster of an opportunity also.

While I flicked through the magazines in the waiting room, I noted that each step along the avenue of public adulation seems to be a step backwards, and take less talent than any claim to fame before it. The subsequent step, after popularity, can only be further down the scale, to be notorious, or wildly disreputable.  I think a certain rich young girl with blond hair has caught the mood. I don’t know if she is really bad mad and dangerous to know, but she certainly tries hard to create that impression like so many other up and coming young stars in the marked for attention.

It will be just my luck to do something really stupid, worthy of being a front page story in the magazines, but continue to be as ignored as before.

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