Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rotten in the Core.

Just after we returned from South Africa 5 years back, and moved in with our Children, I bought some Cacti for my wife. I’m not overly fond of them but she is, and as most of them were reasonably cheap, I bought a few. However I bought a few to many. So much so that I decided that they had to go outside into the garden and decided on a certain spot beside the carport for them. One particular cactus was about 18inches when bought, but after going in the garden, grew to almost 6 feet.

About 12 months ago my son discovered that the house needed restumping and the Stumpers decided that they needed to access the underside of the house where the cacti were. So as I was thinking of shifting them elsewhere anyhow, we dug them all up and moved most of them to another spot.

The 6ft one however was magnificent and so we put it in a big pot and moved it around the back. Unfortunately it didn’t accept the shift and died at its root. The rest was still green but absolutely dead at the roots.

During our recent move to the new place I took the rest of the cacti with me and today I cut it up hoping that maybe I could salvage some of it and maybe get some new plants from it. I cut it away from the base about 18 inches above the dead bit, only to find that even that high up it was rotten and dead in the core. I had to cut about another foot off, to find a place where it was not dieing. Whether I can save any of it, or have left it too late to save any, I am not sure, but I will try.

The thing is that although it was dead at the roots and dieing inside, it was still green and healthy looking on the outside. Why? Because it was feeding on and off itself. Yes it looked alive at the top, but it was eating away at itself in side.

What about us? Are we not sometimes like this cactus? Looking good up top from a distance, but up close, we are dead at the roots and dying inside. Do we not too at times allow things to eat away inside us, inwardly dying whilst putting up a show on the outside?

Sometimes the only way to save ourselves is to cut away the dead and dying and start again. This will usually not be easy, often painful, and not always successful, but often it is all we can do.

Which is why if we find that happening to ourselves, we have to act immediately to try and resolve the problem before it does become too late and fatal. Again, prevention is far better than trying to cure! What say you? Walter

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Have you Too Used Up All Your Excuses Too?

If you have been reading my blogs you will know by now that after finishing 9th last year my Football team hit rock bottom this year and finished stone motherless last of 16 teams this year.

In this week’s paper, their President said the following, “Sure there have been excuses, serious injuries to key players, an extremely difficult draw, average training facilities, but in reality that’s all they are – excuses. For far too long, this club has made excuses.”

Certainly as a man whose own position must be under fire you expect him to make a strong statement. But what about you?

Are you too making excuses for your lack of success? Sure like Richmond, most of those excuses are legitimate, but they are also excuses that others also have, yet have risen above them so why can’t we?

Do you see obstacles as excuses for your lack of effort, or do you see obstacles as opportunities to both overcome and use for your own benefit? Do you allow problems to stop you or do you use them to make you stronger and better? What say you? Walter

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What would you do?

Today we went shopping to buy some things for the new house. Martha has had her eyes on a couple of stools for the breakfast Bar for a few days now. Although a little more expensive than I would normally go for, we had been generously given some money to spend on things for the house and as Martha really wanted them, we went for them. We also bought some other things there and as we went I mentally added up how much all this was going to cost.

So I was a little surprised, when going through the register to find that it was considerably less than I had reckoned. However as it would not have been the first time we have gone to a Register to find things had been marked down even further than the ticket, and so I didn’t say anything at the time.

After putting the things in the car and returning to the Shopping Centre I was still thinking about it and suddenly I thought I knew where the mistake laid. So returning to the car and getting the Docket I checked. Sure enough I was right. The Bar stools were $75 each or two for $150 and packed, unassembled, two per Box. Despite there being a large ticket almost 12 inches square on 3 of the four sides of the box, the Girl only charged me for one.

Now, I am not going to tell you what I did, but ask you, “what would you do under similar circumstances and how would you justify your actions?” Over to you: Walter

Monday, September 24, 2007

Nice House in a quirky way.

As part of our new job, we needed to move to a house of our own, after nearly 5 years of boarding with our kids in their home. Shortly after we did so, our son who is an Architectural Draftsman came over one night just before he left on his 3-week holiday, to help me with a couple of things. He has his own views on things but doesn’t normally volunteer these views unless asked, so you know that he is genuine when he comes out with comments of his own unprovoked.

Being architecturally minded he had a good look over the house. I can’t quite remember his exact quote, but it was something like, “It is a very nice house in a quirky way.” I thought the quirky comment was interesting for as I pointed out to him, many of the houses that we have lived in, particularly in South Africa, were quirky.

Having given it some thought however, I do have to agree that the new place does have its quirks but so do all of us. There is always something different about things, homes, or even people that we have to take recognition of and decide whether this quirkiness, is quaint or queer.

What about your own quirkiness? Do others see it as quaint and something desirable or unique? Or do they see your Quirks as queer, and to be avoided where possible and endured when not? Likewise in your turn, do you accept the quirkiness of others as being what makes them unique, or do you think that it just makes them queer? Over to you for comment: Walter

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Free and Easy Down the Road I Go.

There is an American Country Singer big at the moment called Dierks Bentley and he has a song getting a lot of airplay on The Country Music Channel. It is called, “Free and easy down the road I Go.” I have absolutely no idea what other words there are in the song, but all that I seem to hear and remember is the chorus.

Is a bit banal and repetitious, but it does some up how I am feeling these days. My life at present is free and easy but hasn’t always been so. In the past I have taken things rather serious and considered every job and every home that we have had, as the last and have often been shocked when things have not worked out the way expected and we have been forced to move on Job wise at least.

But these days I am much more relaxed about things and with this new job have even indicated my own time limit on the position, so if things don’t work out, or if either party feel it is time to part ways, I will be able to do it free and easy this time.

In the past I have sought to win people’s approval but have never been able to satisfy certain people and now I have come to the conclusion that I never will, no matter what I do. And secondly, I now don’t need their approval. I have it from others if not them, and I have it from myself and I have it from God. So I don’t need from them what I will never get from them!

What about you? Have you been spending your life trying to please the wrong People, instead of just trying to do your best anyway?

There are just some people in life you will never please no matter how hard you try and so you just need to do your best regardless. I once met a man, who as a lad got 92% in his Final Music exam, only to have his father ask, “What happened to the other 8%?”

By all means try for the whole 100% if you can, but be satisfied with the 92 % or even 85% or even less, if that is the best you can do at the time. Always plan and aim for your best, even if it is not the best according to someone else’s standards.

As long as you have given your best, be satisfied with that and go “free and easy down the road”. Don’t let someone else’s hang-ups become yours, nor let their standards stifle or dictate your goals and aspirations in life.

It is your life, so take it free and easy as down the road you go, always giving your best regardless of the approval of the unimportant. Walter

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Acknowledged Publicly at Last!

When I was a lad, way back in 1967 the Richmond Football Club had a full forward called Paddy Guinane. Paddy could kick goals from acute angles every time, but put him dead in front of the goal square and he would most likely miss. Consistent accuracy was his weakness.

When we returned to Oz back in 2002, I found that Richmond again had a full forward who also lacked a little on the consistently accurate aspect of Goal kicking.

Earlier this year, on the one day, (but in another game,) one player had ten scoring shots for an 8, 2 ratio. That is a total of 50 points. Our boy Matthew Richardson, also had 10 scoring shots but with a 2, 8 ratio that is only 20 points for his efforts.

But that is not to say our boy is a bad player. In fact this year Matthew again topped His team’s highest Goal Kicking list, and was the third highest Goal kicker, out of all 16 teams, so all in all not a bad effort for a guy who has been playing for them for 15 years now.

Not only that but he was also awarded as Richmond’s Best and fairest Player of the Year for the first time in 15 years. Mind you he came second on four previous occasions.

So erratic he may be, but he is also very consistent as a team player. On receiving his award Matthew said, “ You don’t play for personal glories but, in saying that, it’s nice to be recognised by the match committee. “

Some revere Matthew for his strengths and others ridicule his weaknesses. But he never let it bother him but kept on going. Even when others got the recognition and not him, he didn’t lose heart or give up but kept on going and finally official recognition has come his way. Instead of saying about time too, he graciously accepted it.

What about us? What about you and me? Do we always give our best even when we are not getting the scores on the board that we would like?

Are we real Team players or are we only after personal rewards and recognition? Are we prepared to plug away year after year, without getting the public acknowledgement that others are getting? And when public recognition does come our way, are we gracious in accepting it, or do we complain how long we had to wait? Over to you: Walter

Friday, September 21, 2007

Were You Listening, Or Just Too Polite To Correct?

Do you really listen to what other people are saying especially in familiar situations, or does your mind go onto autopilot and you hear only what you expect to hear and not what is actually said?

I ask this because someone asked me recently if was ready to have a laugh at my self? Not quite knowing what I was in for I said go ahead.

It relates back to my saying the Benediction at church last Sunday. For the first time for a long time I decided to use Numbers 6 24-26 in the Bible.

However instead of saying, “The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” I pronounced countenance as continence; A big difference in meaning believe me!

The other thing that amused me about my slip up in pronunciation was that it took so long to get back to me! It took 2 full days for the first comment.

And the second comment only came the next day when I said to someone that I apparently made a mistake with the word countenance and it was quite obvious from the look on her face that she had indeed picked up my mistake, yet had made no comment on it until I brought it up.

Which raises another question to my mind. And that is how many other innocent mistakes have I made that no one has taken the trouble to correct me on? And why haven’t they told me?

1. Because they never picked it up in the first place?

2. Too scared to correct me?

3. Too indifferent to correct me?

4. Feel that it is someone else’s job not theirs?

How about you in similar situations? Are you prepared to put yourself out to correct others when they unintentional and unknowingly, “stuff up”? Or do you just don’t care, or feel it is any of your business? Or are you prepared to put yourself out to help someone?

And secondly, if you like me find yourself in the situation of being corrected by someone in a lower position than you, are you prepared “to laugh at yourself”? Or are you quick to see any adverse comment as a personal attack on your character? Honest and humble correction is good, if for no other reason than that it makes you more careful in the future.

In my case the difference between countenance and continence was wide enough to be obvious, but in some cases the differences may be as glaring in meaning but not so obvious in the understanding of the differences.

So in closing how concerned or indifferent are you to the accidental mistakes of those around you? Do you care enough to put yourself out to help them, or will you leave it to someone else? Or did you just not notice in the first place because of over familiarity?

Over to you for your comment: Walter

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wait A While Before You Judge AFL.

Way back when I was a lad, yes I know that that was along time ago! Anyway, in my youth Australian Rules Football (ARF) was very big in Victoria (Vic) and a little less so in Tasmania, (Tassie) South Australia (SA) and West Australia (WA), but not big at all in Queensland (QLD, New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). In fact, AFL was so big in Victoria that the Victorian Football League (VFL) was the pinnacle for all ARF players.

Back then, Victoria had 12 teams and for any AFL player from anywhere, it was really hitting the big time to play in one of the VFL teams.

The VFL was actually a misnomer, as eleven of the 12 teams were either in Melbourne or it’s inner suburbs and the 12th was only an hour or two down the road then (Now about 45 minutes) at Geelong. So it really was a Melbourne based league in reality!

Anyway having 12 teams in or around Melbourne started to become unviable and in an effort to make the game more a national game than a local game, the VFL Administration sent one team to Sydney in NSW and a little latter created a new team “ex niliho” in Queensland on the Gold coast.

This latter team struggled and later it was amalgamated with another former Melbourne club and moved to Brisbane itself. Since then, new teams have been formed in both WA and SA and so the Game is now more national with 16 teams in the competition. Also as it has long moved out of being Victorian Football the VFL became the Australian Football League.

As part of its drive to make interstate football more attractive to the best Victorian players and to even out the competition a little, certain advantages were given to the interstate clubs to level the playing field so to speak.

However as since 2000 interstate Teams have won most of the grand finals with the Victorian Teams missing out there have been rumblings of discontent.

Before and just after the start of this season there was a great hue and cry about not only doing away with the advantages the other states had but also to give Victorian teams special help to get them back on top again as Victorian teams were then still struggling.

However the AFL did nothing at the time and now that hue and cry has well and truly died down greatly, as week-by-week Victorian teams were winning.

When it came to the final 8 for the currant season, half were Victorian Teams and after the first week of finals, we were down to 2 interstate clubs and 4 Victorian Teams. Then after last week, we are now down to 3 Vic teams and only one interstater.

Now at this point of writing that one team could still fight its way into the final and even win it but the point is that now at season’s end Victorian football is not in as dire straights as a lot of people thought.

As I thought about this I came to the following conclusions:

1. Sport like life, is often very cyclical and there will always be ups and downs.

2. To be a marketable Item or popular sport, you have to go out into the market place and compete with a wider competition.

3. However, all competition takes time, so don’t be too impatient.

4. Expect ups and downs as part of your own peculiar life cycle and learn from them.

So, what changes have there been in your life or work situations that you are not happy with?

What realistically can you do to adjust to these new situations? Endure them or embrace them? Fight against them, or fight for them?

And should you, whilst still striving for success, just wait patiently for the desired effects, knowing that success takes time and effort and often-extreme patience? Again, what say you? Walter

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Feeding Off, verses Bouncing off.

A little while back, my blog friend Lynx said in one of her blogs, that we feed off each other to inspire further blogs and while I agree wholeheartedly, I just wished she had used another word than feed. I prefer a word like bounce for instance, which has the connotation that we use each other as a sounding board for the benefit of both, which I like, appreciate and often need!

Whereas to me, feeding off, reminds me too much of people who just use you for their own benefit and don’t give a hoot about you, other than how it benefits them.

How about you? How do you see other people? As people to feed off, or as People to bounce ideas of?

Do you see other people as people, or worse things, to be used to build you up, to step on to help you up? Or as fellow travellers along the same path to help and encourage one another along through “the Hard Yards” so to speak?

So, do you bounce off your friends or feed off them? There is a world of difference! Are you even aware of that difference? Walter

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Devilment? Pure Nasty? Or Conversation Starter?

Recently I was asked why I supported a loosing Football team like Richmond, which by the way went from 9th last year to 16th this year and the only reason that they didn’t go any lower is that they couldn’t. There are only 16 teams in the Comp.

The long answer I gave for following Richmond now, is that I used to years ago and more recently I felt like I had to chose an AFL team again, even though I am no longer really into football, so I went back to them for old times sake.

Upon reflection I realise now that I am my father’s son and I did it out of devilment. Something deliberately said to provoke a response, even if you didn’t really believe it yourself.

Being a shy person, I think that he found this a good conversation starter and one that always broke the uncomfortable silence that often surrounds a shy person. Being shy myself, that is why I do it.

It has always amazed me that you can be in a room of silent people, but once someone starts a conversation that others can join in, they usually do. Some times to the point of completely dominating the conversation and often squeezing you out.

I am also amazed at the friendships I have had a part in creating down at the railway station simply by provoking conversations that others continue. Not just there in my presence, but on the train, and in some cases even going to the Footy together when their teams are playing each other.

So for me, when I am being tongue in cheek provocative, it is neither out of pure nasty, nor shear devilment itself, but as an effective conversation starter among similar shy people.

How about you? Are you often being provocative and why? To prove a point or provoke an argument or simply tongue in cheek as a conversation starter? And do the other people recognise the difference? It is one thing to say it tongue in cheek, and another to make sure that the listeners understand it as such and take it in the same vein and not take offence.

It is a fine line; so do you really know the difference and are you always aware of how other people are responding? What say you? Walter

Monday, September 17, 2007

Camels And Horses.

Domestic animals arrived in Australia along with the First Fleet in 1772. Later horses also arrived and later when the opening of the Interior really began to take place, Camels and their Afghan handlers were brought over here. Over the years horses began to escape and go wild and their numbers built up but nowhere as big as the number of camels. Why?

Much of Australia is arid or semi arid (read desert) country. So if you take a larger desert area, you have a larger need for camels initially. I don’t know how many Camels were let into the wild in America but I feel pretty safe in saying it was nothing near the 20,000 or so released here in the 1930’s. Camels thrived in the more extreme desert areas where horses couldn’t. Horses competed more with the settlers in the better grazing areas, thus were hunted more. Horses had more value as riding stock or later for pet food. Hence more valuable and were hunted more.

Also with the lack of people encroaching on their new domain the Camels had very little competition from humans and with no meat eating predators larger than our Dingo (Wild dog) they had few problems or competition, hence unrestricted multiplication took place, till there is now over half a million running around the Top End of Australia. (Apparently, although I got this figure from this month’s Newspaper that info is 8 years old. According to June 2007 Reader’s Digest, the number is now one million and the camel population is doubling every 8 years!)

Wild horses on the other hand, Brumbies as they are called here, never really liked the desert, nor were their numbers ever as high as camels when in the wild, as the better ones when recaptured had some value as riding stock etc.

So Camel numbers were allowed to build up unnoticed while horse numbers, whenever they threatened local farmers gracing rights etc, were simple caught or shot. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” syndrome so to speak! So horses always in sight were largely kept under control, while Camels largely kept out of sight, ballooned until now they are a large problem to Flora, Fauna and even the geography itself with overpopulation leading to erosion etc.

So are there some things in your life that you are largely ignoring on the basis of out of sight out of Mind? Are you taking care of the squeaky wheels but not checking the rest? Beware it doesn’t turn around and bite you like the camel Problem has. Walter

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Some ways to deal with Non Communicative people.

Recently I was asked how I dealt with non-communicative people. Now I guess there are about as many responses to this question as there are people on the planet, but the following has always held me in good stead.

The first thing to remember is that even though people may not communicate with you, it may and usually is, nothing personal. It is just that they have other concerns and thus don’t really notice you, until or unless you make them notice you.

Again there are many ways to do that but most I wouldn’t recommend. The one I do recommend really is just a version of the golden rule of treating others, as you would have them treat you.

So firstly when ever you meet people, whether for the first time or the hundredth; whether in passing or as part of a formal group, always greet others with a smile and a brief word of greeting. If you know their name use it, even if they don’t know you. It is as simple as that, and

I have found this trick usually works a treat.

When it doesn’t you don’t worry about it or take it as a personal rejection, you just move on. You will find that there are a few genuinely uncommunicative people out there but most aren’t and many will take up the opportunity to communicate with you, if you show yourself to be of the communicative type.

Again, don’t worry about those who don’t respond positively to your initial responses, just move on and look for the others.

So every time I see someone in passing, I cheerily greet them with a “Good Morning” and simply pass on. Once you have done this a few times it really gets their attention more than if you ignored them them.

So summarising the above,

  1. If you want people to notice you, you first have to notice them.
  2. If you know someone’s name use it.
  3. Never wait for the other person to say hello first.
  4. Let whatever happens next, happen.
The above approach has worked for me. What has been your approach and the results? Walter

Saturday, September 15, 2007

500 Words A Day.

Was reading about a visiting American Performance Artist (Laurie Anderson) performing in Melbourne presently. I have never heard of her before and probably would not be interested in her performance from what I read in the paper. (Not my style from the sound of things!)

However I was intrigued about one comment she made in the article. She was talking about what William Burroughs, (another writer,) had previously said about language being like a virus.

She goes on to say, “ To say that language is a disease communicable by mouth is very odd, yet if you listen to any conversation you realise it is just people saying the same thing over and over.

”We can get by in a day with 500 words, probably because so many conversations are on automatic. But if you start using language the way Burroughs did, kind of dangerous in original and crazy ways, then it’s one of the most beautiful tools ever invented. It is so sharp.”

Here I have to admit to being a bit of a cultural philistine here and say that I have heard of neither Anderson or Burroughs before. However I was intrigued by their recognition of how our language, our conversations, our words can either be viruses or beautiful sharp tools.

How about your daily conversations? Are you using just a few words but repeatedly in every conversation? Or are your conversations varied and interesting? Even if you still only use a few hundred words each day, are they the same old handful or new ones every day?

At the moment I am preaching my way through the book of Romans, and in my messages the word righteousness keeps coming up. Now I can spell that word with no trouble at all. Now I can, but that was not always so.

Some 20 years ago I had to write a 3000 word Essay on Reconciliation in the writings of the Apostle Paul. Unfortunately for me, that was in the days of pen and Ink and white-out was used repetitively until I got the word “righteousness” right every time I wrote it.

I have no actual proof of the percentage, but it seemed to me at the time, that a good 10% of that 3000-word essay was the word “righteousness” used constantly. And now in this series of sermons, it again has a high percentage of usage.

What I am trying to say here, is that there is no problem with repetitive usage of words and themes for a season or two, and you may even get to recycle them again years down the track, but there is always a time to move on to new ideas and new words. Not to impress people but to avoid passing on old information.

Today I would like to ask you to analyse your most recent conversations and come to a conclusion whether they are simply viruses that you are trying to pass on, or whether they are beautiful and sharp tools?

I like to think that my blogs are of the later type, but if you think that they are more of the former, please let me know so that I can start looking for a cure for my virus. But again, how about you? Are you a virus, or a sharp and beautiful tool?

Are your conversations on automatic pilot or do you take care with every conversation to make it new and fresh? Over to you: Walter

Friday, September 14, 2007

Finished With One Year, World Hero The Next!

As it is fast approaching the coming Cricket season I think it time to talk Cricket again. About this time last Year, Australian Opening Batsman, (of both the Test and One-Day Teams,) Matthew Hayden was not getting enough runs in the one-day format and was in fact dropped from the future One-Day World Cup Team line-up, and replaced with a promising new up and coming “star”. At that stage Hayden was still playing in the then current local Tri-series Competition.

Unfortunately the “promising new up and coming “star” got himself injured shortly after, leaving that spot empty again. In the meantime “old Matty” had just kept on going and was starting to get runs again and so they gave him back his place in the World Cup Squad One-Day Team again, and as they say, “The rest is History”.

This week, “old and washed out” Matthew Hayden again stood on the podium and once more received an award. This particular award was for “One-Day Player of the Year”. Not just for Australia, but “One-Day Player Of the year” from all the Cricketing nations. Not bad for a washed-up has-been, hey?

Talking recently about his then replacement, Matthew said, “Shane’s time will come, and it’s just probably lucky that I was in that position at the time where I hadn’t given up.”

“I was trying to send as many messages as I could to all parties involved that Matthew Hayden wasn’t finished playing one–day cricket. I guess here tonight I stand with a great smile on my face for everyone really believing in that, and for just myself, being in a position to play one-day cricket again.”

I think we can all learn from Matty’s behavior. He could have chucked a "Hissy fit”, “spat the Dummy”, or in cricketing parlance, "picked up his bat and walked". But he didn’t do any of that. He believed in himself and just put his head down and quietly went about making the most of the remaining opportunities available to him, and importantly for him, “kept putting Run’s on the Board. The only thing in the long run that really counted!

And when the opportunity presented itself, he was ready, willing and able to take the spot back again and make it his again! Fame and past reputation was not enough, runs on the board were what counted and Matty went after them, all the time signally to all who would listen that he was not finished yet, no matter what others thought. Of course while it is important to believe in yourself and hang on in there, you also have to produce the score on the board. Matty did, but what about you?

Others may think that you are finished, but are you? If not, don’t whinge and whine about it, but put your head down and your tail up and produce the Goods. Put some runs on the scoreboard! Be in the market place with desirable goods and wait and watch for your next opportunity!!!!!!

Maybe you don’t think you are finished like everyone else thinks, but maybe you really are? What then? Well if that is the case, you will soon know if you have another shot at it but unlike Matty don’t produce the goods. When you have done all you can humanly speaking and not getting the results desired, then perhaps giving it away and putting that time and effort into something else is the right thing to do.

But if you truly believe in yourself like Matthew Hayden did, then by all means give it one more shot, but like Matty, put everything into it. Don’t do it half-heartedly or rest on past reputations. Make new ones. Who knows what awards and benefits people have missed out in the past because they either didn’t believe in themselves or give it their best shot, and make themselves available for any future opportunities? What about you? Do you believe in yourself even though you think you have been un-fairly shafted?

If so what are you going to do about it? Whinge and whine? Or put your head down and put all your energy into one more shot at it? The choice is yours! Sure! Not all will succeed or even have the success that Matty had, but if you truly believe and have a go and don’t die wondering. Walter

Thursday, September 13, 2007

California Gold Rush.

Recently saw a documentary on the Gold Rush in California in the 1840’s. It was interesting reflecting on the human psychology of the whole event. The first man to rush into the streets of San Francisco boasting of finding Gold in “ Them Ther Hills” was not a proper prospector, but a Sacramento Shop Keeper. He then went on to turn his gold into stock for his store and then printed 400 flyers to be sent back East advertising the find. Thus the following year when the 48 Rush began, he was fully prepared for the influx in customers and preceded to make his fortune out of the gold rush, but not by digging gold himself.

During the 48 Rush, there apparently was Gold for the finding, with just about every stone turned over, revealing a nugget of some sort or size Thus there was peace and harmony and reasonable tranquillity on the Gold fields.

Not so in 49 when even more prospective miners flocked in, and found that all the easy Gold had gone. The peace and tranquillity and harmony of the previous year disappeared, and thievery and race riots became the norm, as an ever-increasing army of miners sought and fought for an ever-decreasing amount of available gold.

Much gold was still there but deep underground and not just there for the easy getting anymore, and the Big mining Companies either came into existence, or gradually took over decreasing yet further the riches formerly available to all for the “picking”.

  1. I thought it interesting that not all the gold in the gold rush was real gold but that a savvy shopkeeper made better than “Real Gold” out of trading to the miners. He in fact made more money that most individual miners and more than he would ever had as a miner.
  2. I also thought it interesting that when things are in plenty, people of all races and classes get along, but when things get scarce, people fall back to social and national lines.

How about us? Can we only see one way to “find” gold, or like the Trader can we too not do what we are good, at and make our fortunes supplying the ‘miners?

Can we too not try and get along in harmony all the time, and not just in times of plenty? Can we not try and look at people as people and not as ‘strangers’ and thus competitors? What would you have done if you had been “a miner in 49er”? Walter

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Carman’s Muesli.

Saw another snippet of daytime TV the other day and they were interviewing Carolyn Creswell, who at 35 was one of the hot contenders for young Entrepreneur of the year.

Her story was that “in 1992, at eighteen years of age, Carolyn was making muesli part-time whilst studying at university. When she was told she would lose her job as the business was to be sold, she seized the opportunity and bought the tiny business herself - Carman’s was born.”

In essence, what happened was that the bosses came to her and said that they were letting her go to find another job as Business was so bad they were getting out of it.

She went home and complained to her parent’s that it wasn’t fair, as she loved her job and now it was gone. The next day she went back to work and told her bosses she wanted to buy the business from them. They just laughed at her and her inexperience and youth, saying how does she think she could succeed when they couldn’t’?

Anyway she persisted and she and another work mate put in a $ 1,000 each and bought it. Two years down the track Carolyn bought out her partner and now a total of 15 years down the track from when she first started it is an international business.

She comment that she was probably the only sales person in Woolworth’s history to breakdown in tears in their foyer after the got her first big contract to supply Larger stores and chains. Now as they say the rest is history and she is selling Breakfast Bars to Airlines as well as selling her Muesli to the world.

To quote again from their Web site, “Today, Carolyn still runs Carman's which is now a thriving Melbourne based company, wholesaling muesli, muesli bars and most recently, organic honey to thousands of outlets Australia-wide including the major Australian supermarket chains. She has recently started successfully exporting to Asia and the Pacific. Carman's muesli and bars are currently the top selling gourmet products in their category within Australia. Carman's is a small Australian company, which grew from a century old muesli recipe being made for family and friends. Today it is still blended with hand ground hazelnuts, cracked almonds and pecan pieces and is tossed with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. We do not use any genetically modified ingredients, artificial colours or flavours. Made in Australia from the best ingredients we can find in Australia and around the world.”

Back to the interview on TV, Carolyn was asked what I considered to be the burning question.

What made her Muesli such a success in what would normally be seen to be an oversupplied commodity, with many, many competing brands on the market Place?

She commented that it was the different ingredients in the different muesli’s that made them different. With many of the better ones having more expensive nuts or more of them, to give them their own unique taste. She then said that the temptation then was when these things became more expensive to either cut them out or substitute with cheaper nuts. A thing that Carmen’s never did. Yes Carmen’s thus cost more than many other Mueslis on the market but this extra cost and nuts also gave it its own unique taste and market, and Muesli connoisseurs were prepared to pay a little extra for a whole lot more taste.

She also commented that she was committed to her product and was not prepared to compromise on quality for sales. Again I have not tried the product but if you wish to check them out, look up the web for:”Carman’s Fine Food.

For here my interest was in the reasons for her success.

  1. She was committed to her product. Maybe obsessed may be more adequate? But certainly enthusiastic and personally and emotionally committed to it. Hence the tears when she got her first big breakthrough.
  2. She not only dreamed about buying the business but did so, even if against normal wisdom of the time and despite her critics.
  3. She pushed her product to the wider markets while not compromising the quality of her product.
  4. Exposure was important but not at the expense of the product.
  5. A quality product and not high profits was the goal.
  6. As she was committed to it with no false time limits, she was able to allow it to expand in its appropriate time and not force it onto the market before conditions were right.
  7. She had a superior product in a competitive market and thus was not prepared to compromise a quick dollar over a quality product.

What about our lives and goals?

Do we have a goal or aim for our lives? Are we prepared to put a bit of ourselves into the product, without compromising quality over quantity? Are we committed to the tasks we do, whatever they may be? Or do we just go with the flow and take shortcuts when we think we can get away with them? Again what say you? Walter

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Scurvy And James Cook.

Recently saw a documentary on TV about Captain James Cook and his famous voyage to Tahiti and than on to the great Southern land.

Actually it was Lieutenant James Cook when he went on his first voyage. Cook went to sea very early in life on Coal boats before joining the British Navy. Because he was "a Nobody" socially in a society that greatly valued Class, till then he had never made it past Lieutenant in the Royal British Navy, and even though he was 40 at the time, was unlikely to ever progress past that because he was from the lower classes.

Eventually talent and oppotunity won out and he got his chance to change world History, but even then He was only commissioned to a low class ship the Endeavour which itself had been a former Coal ship before being refitted for a scientific Journey to Tahiti.

James Cook navigated and circumnavigated the world and discovered that the fabled great southern land didn’t really exist but that Australia and New Zealand did. I believe he mapped the locations of some 40 Islands in his short period as an explorer extraordinaire.

However one of his greatest achievements was in the treatment and cure for scurvy. Despite the fact that a scurvy cure was known some 150 years before Captain Cook made it famous, it was only seen as one possible cure of many possible cures. None to date had proved totally effective until Cook proved that Sauerkraut was an effective cure.

But even there, Cook had his problems in getting his crew to stick to a diet including sauerkraut. Many in his crew didn’t like it and he even had to publicly flog some of his crew to force others to continue eating it.

It was such a problem that at one stage he took it off the regular crew’s diet and kept it strictly for the Officers. Thus ironically making it now desirable to the rest of the crew.

However he got his crew to eat it, he did, and as a result he never lost even one single man to scurvy. An unheard of thing of that time as ships often lost up to 40% of their crews on long voyages.

Due to the success of his initial voyage Cook got to make more and although he only lived another 9 years or so before being murdered on his last voyage, he greatly changed the Map of the world and the lives of sailors everywhere.

As I thought of this, a few thoughts came to mind.

1. Never despise anyone just because you think they are lowlier than you. All have something to contribute to society.

2. Never despise yourself. You can usually find a way to rise above your circumstances if you try and are prepared to wait a bit and work at it along the way.

3. Never despise older methods because they sound funny, weird or come from a foreign source. (Like sauerkraut!)

4. Never give up on possible cures or new ways, just because they don’t “suit” your Current tastes. Not all bad tasting things are in fact harmful to you, just like, not all good tasting things are good for you.

5. In same vein, there is a time and place for everything, even sauerkraut. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat the same thing all the time. Variety is also the spice of life

6. Your time at the top may be short, or cut short like Cooks, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be life changing and beneficial to others long after you have gone does it? Captain James Cook is still remembered fondly today especially in Australia and New Zealand.

7. Finally, at the risk of offending all sauerkraut lovers here, it is yet again a reminder that just because a thing isn’t to your own personal liking or taste doesn’t meant that you don’t need it. Yes when better and easier methods of getting certain vitamins to sailors were found, Sauerkraut went by the board. But in its time it saved many lives even if people had to be forced or tricked into eating it initially.

So while you may never circumnavigate the globe or discover any unknown lands, it just may be that you can rediscover some old discoveries that have slipped through the cracks and reintroduce them to the world again.

Likewise you may never do anything famous or important enough to get yourself in the History Books but you can still do something to change the world around you. Even if it is only with a smile. Bye for now: Walter

Monday, September 10, 2007

Spring or Fall

No matter where you are in the world right now, it is either Spring Or Fall. Unless of course you are in an English speaking country, then you are in Autumn!

Having had a friendly little dig at my American friends, I do have to add that I prefer their term, as it is the more descriptive isn’t it?

A time when the old and the dead rubbish fall away or is removed, in preparation for a time of rest, before the next growing season.

Likewise spring is a time, where after appropriate rest, comes the time of regrowth and enthusiasm and new life.

What about your life right now? Are you in the Fall period getting ready to lose the once good and useful and needed growth, in time for a stress free rest period?

Perhaps you are in the Spring period where, after a good and appropriate time of rest and recovery you are once again shooting in to action with new plans and new growth? I hope so, but what if you are in neither?

If you are stuck in Winter time you are feeling the Blues and the cold, using lots of energy perhaps but seeing nothing new for your efforts. Perhaps you need to take some more Fall time and see what in your life needs to be shed or pruned?

On the other hand may be you are stuck in Summer mode. Things are going along fine and have been for a long, long time now, but you are not getting the rest and recharge you need and eventually you will run out of energy, strength and effectiveness.

I trust that whereever you are, you are in the appropriate season for you or that realising that you are not, that you will take appropriate steps to get your self back in sync with the right seasons. Over to you once again: Walter

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Panama Canal Expands, Should You Too?

Was reading in the Paper, that Panama officials blasted away part of a hillside on September 4 next to the Panama Canal, marking the start of the waterway’s biggest expansion project since it was opened 93 years ago. This is the start of two wider sets of lochs being added on both sides of the canal. The $6.4 Billion expansion is expected to double the 80km canal’s capacity. Although still effective and working well, the Panama Canal is no longer sufficient for the task at hand any more.

Does that sound like you? You haven’t changed. You are still working well. Still doing your job. No you haven’t changed but the circumstances around you have, making it expedient if not necessary for you to start considering some changes. Even major ones like with the Panama Canal?

Maybe expensive changes too? Maybe not $6.4 Billion, but maybe you to will have to outlay some major finance to get the improvements needed, knowing that the money will come back with the extra input?

Yes, what about you? I have just made some major changes in my life with a new job and soon a new house, all bringing extra expenses initially, but ones that will (hopefully) be recouped in the end, but even if not, decisions that needed to be made and acted upon to improve my efficiency and influence. Again what about you? Are there any areas in your life that you know that you need to improve on but the thought of change or the cost of change is putting you off? Think again please. Walter

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Improving Yourself Louis L’Amour Style.

If you have read my blog biography you will know that I like reading (& watching) Westerns. Thus it should come as no surprise, to find that among my favourite writers is one Louis L’Amour. (W. C. Tuttle, is another favourite!) Whilst writing my recent blogs about improving oneself, I was reminded of a Book that Louis wrote about his early life after leaving school at 15 and wandering the world.

The book is called the “”Education Of A Wandering Man” and reports his various jobs and activities that he undertook in his early wanderings. Many of these jobs were in isolated places or on ships and places where extra curricular activities were scarce and reading was one of the few escapes from loneliness and isolation. As you read this book you get the feeling that it is as much about the books that he read at each place, it was the place itself.

In his early years books were scarce and often left for others to read and many of the Books Louis read were classics of that and earlier periods, thus he read many, many books that only the very sophisticated read today. The so-called lost classics.

Yes, instead of writing a novel like his westerns, Louis simply tells of his life story by telling you what he did and where he was at the time and what books he read there.

As much as telling his storey which it did, it was more of a list of the books he had read through the early years of his life and how they helped educate him.

As he stayed, worked or simply visited various places, he read all the books that were there where he was. Thus he got his education from both life itself and from books.

Of course the type of books available then were not as varied or as many as available now, but he did read all the classics of his day and benefited from the knowledge in them, and in turn was able to use much of this knowledge of books to write his own books when his time came.

What about you? Are you taking the trouble to educate yourself through reading? If so, with the very wide choice of reading material available today are you reading wisely?

Who knows. Maybe you will be a famous writer too one day? Even if not, there will be countless opportunities to use that knowledge to help others along the way. At the very worst, you can always join me and write a Blog. What say you? Walter

Friday, September 7, 2007

Improving Myself.

In my previous blog I asked, “Have we made the most of the early opportunities that we have been given?” I don’t know what your answer was, but mine was no!

I left school as soon as I reached the then legal age of 15 and couldn’t wait to get out of there. By that stage I had completed hat was then Form Three but now simply Year Nine. The year I left was the lat year they handed out Junior Technical School Certificates ((For Form 3’ers who successfully completed the year.) Now completely worthless. At the time when I left school it seemed a great idea and I already had a job in a Nursery and things looked very "Rosy" indeed.

But when some 20 years had elapsed and many jobs later, and when I had the chance to go to Bible Collage and earn My Bachelor of Theology Degree, I took it. It was hard going back to School in a sense, with a wife and three kids but with the help and support of many people including our families and our church, I was able to do it and in three years too.

In the years between leaving school and going back I often lamented the many missed Job opportunities that I had missed simply because I did not have the required qualifications. Therefore having missed my first chance in getting a good education and qualifications, I was not missing that second chance, no way.

What about you? Have you missed a few chances in the past? Well don’t worry about that. They are gone and never to be repeated. Instead of dwelling on the past and the lost chances then, look to the future now and future chances. If there are none currently on offer. Look as to what you can do now to make the most of them when they do come on offer.

Always be ready to improve yourself and those around you. You never know, the person you help up today, may be the very person to help you up when you need it most in the future when no one else is around. What say you? Walter

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Improving Yourself South American Style.

Was listening to a history of a South American writer on the radio recently. Although I don’t remember his name, he is now a famous writer in literary circles. However, it wasn’t always so. In fact he was so poor that he dropped out of school very early in life to live off the streets.

From then on his education was taken from books that he read. The interviewer went on to say that the choice of reading was dictated by the placement of literary works in Bookstores. In other words, where his selection of future reading material was governed by what was easiest and safest for him to shoplift.

Whilst one does condemn his thieving, one does have to admire his determination to improve himself. Again while I must deplore what he did and discourage very strongly any potential imitators, I do have to admire his drive in doing all that he could to improve himself, and his education.

What about us? What about you and me? Have we always done all that we can to improve ourselves? Have we made the most of the early opportunities that we have been given?

I know I didn’t and was fortunate to have a second chance much later on in life, without having to steal for it, but what about you?

Even now are you making the most of every chance to educate yourself further, even if just through reading books? Over to you: Walter

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


While at Philip Island while I was just getting ready for one of my long walks there, I happened to notice something on one of the Daytime TV Morning shows.

It was actually a live commercial spot for an Australian Cleaning Company called Ozkleen.

Although I had never heard of them before, I was intrigued by a couple of comments made by the Public Relations Officer.

Among other things, she said that Ozkleen had only been going for ten years but is now spreading into the whole world. This movement was spearheaded by just one Supermarket initially taking the chance on displaying their first product on the market. That product was called “Shower Kleen”, and the buyer for that Supermarket only bought the product for her store after first trying it herself on a stain on her own basin that she had never before been able to remove.

The lady went on to say that despite being in business for 10 years they still only had 6 products on the market. Before any new line is released it must be either an original product or else far superior to anything else currently on the market.

I didn’t catch the names of all their products but the 3 I did were, Shower kleen, Carpet Clean and Grease Monkey, a product for greasy stovetops & microwaves. As you can see the names are not that original but very descriptive.

The company was started and still run by two family’s thus exhibiting personal commitment and because of this has won awards in the Domestic Cleaning Market. If you want to know more look up

I have never seen or tried their product so cannot speak for or against the product, but I was impressed by their business ethic, and thought that it was perhaps a good one to assess for our own personal lives.

  1. We should always have a personal and hands on approach to all we do and say.
  2. We should not try to push our own products or barrow, unless we have something original or superior to what is already available.
  3. We should always start small and build up rather than the other way around.
  4. We should always present quality over quantity.
  5. If our product is superior, it will eventually sell itself.
  6. Fancy names may sound great but descriptive ones can be equally effective, if not more so.
Well those are my thoughts on the matter, what say you? Walter

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Vietnam Veterans Museum.

While at Philip Island recently we visited the Vietnam Veterans Museum there. Initially I did not want to go, as it held no interest to me, but a friend did, so we went too. It has just passed the 41st anniversary of a famous battle in Vietnam involving Australian troops and the Video shown at the Museum touched me more than I expected.

The museum itself is quite impressive even if a lot of the stuff is not actually strange to me. I spent most of my teen years in the 60’s and it was a time when a lot of World War Two Army Surplus equipment was widely available, thus jerry cans, fold-up spades, Machetes, even army jackets were not unknown to me, as the older brothers were into 4X4 travelling and used a lot of the WW 2 surplus stuff on their trips etc.

Likewise I have never felt any real connection for the war itself although at the time I was convinced that I would be conscripted. My two older brothers had both missed out on being conscripted and I felt sure I wouldn’t, and so had psyched myself up to be conscripted. Thus I was greatly surprised but not really disappointed to actually miss out, with dates being called either side of my birthday but not on mine.

Besides that, apart from Normie Rowe, (a famous Australian Pop idol of that time that I only knew about but didn’t know personally,) the only other person I knew who went to Vietnam, was a friend, of a friend, of one of my brothers, so again the connection was scant.

All of this is to say that the Vietnam War largely past me by at the time and we had no close or real connection to how it played out in the public arena. So the trip to the Museum was a timely reminder of the sacrifices of some of our fellow Australians.

How much of the world goes by around you with out you feeling any real connection to it? How many famous battles have been fought that you know nothing about? I am not pushing war here in anyway but can’t help wondering how much of our history we really know? The Vietnam War is often referred to as the ”Forgotten War,” and I wonder how many other things we have forgotten too? Sometimes we may wish they never happened but they did and we need to learn from them to avoid or plan better for the future. What say you? Walter

Monday, September 3, 2007

What a Difference A Phone call Makes!

For the past few weeks we have been looking for a suitable house for the church to rent for us, as both a residence and a part-time church Office come storage area. It has been more frustrating and stressful than I had originally expected. There were some that looked suitable on paper but location, accessibility, and parking, often crossed them off before even getting inside. Suitable houses in the area we wanted just weren’t there, and so very quickly we had to expand the search area.

Well, finally we looked at/in a house that looked suitable and found it quite acceptable although as I said, outside of our original desired area. Well, we saw it on a Tuesday afternoon along with a dozen or so, other potential renters. Liking it, we completed all the paperwork and submitted the application by noon of the next day. Upon asking when we could expect to hear if we had been accepted, I was told that we should know by Friday.

Well that week I had been laid very low by the flu bug currently going around here, and as such had spent as much of the week in bed as I could. I was back in bed on Thursday morning, feeling rather low with the flu and a headache, when the phone rang. It was the Rental agent ringing to say that they had had 5 applications from that showing, and the final selection came down to just two of us. At that stage I thought I was getting the polite brush-off and really wasn’t in the mood for a long explanation. However my mood quickly changed when he said that we had got it and that they wanted us to come in some time and fill out the paper work.

One moment I am in my sick bed resenting even the intrusion of even a phone call, and the next, I am ready to go down town straight away, but had to wait another hour and a half because they weren’t ready.

Thinking about it later I was amazed at the change in my attitude in such a quick time and later still wondered how often we perhaps suffer more than we need to, just because we let the circumstances of the time get us down and not look at things a little more positively.

True I was still sick and later had to rest to recover from the exertion of the trip down town, so physically I was still no better, but! But physiologically I was a heck of a lot better mentally and much more positive in outlook.

I now look forward to further opportunities to put this new theory to the test and look to being more positive, even in my more negative moments. What say you?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Three Dollars' Worth of God

Not so recently, a visitor to our church read us a little Poem about “Three Dollars Worth Of God.” More recently I came across that poem again and thought how appropriate it was to the series I am currently preaching on from the Book of Romans in the New Testament of our Bibles.

I felt that this poem summed up the attitude of the Jews of that time. Although, they would never have acknowledged that their problem was that they only had about “Three Dollars Worth Of God.” (Although in their case, Paul would have argued that they only had about “Three Sheckles Worth Of God”.)

But what about us today? Many today claim to have God, particularly celebrities who have recently gotten into trouble, but also many churchgoers too! But I can’t help wondering, how much of God do we really have? The whole package? Or only Three Dollars Worth? Here is the Poem again so you can decide for yourself.

“I’d like to buy three dollar’s worth of God. Please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of a womb, not a new birth. I want about a pound of the eternal in a paper sack. I’d like to buy about three dollars’ worth of God please.”

The thing here is not to ask how much God do other people have but rather ‘How much of God do you really have?

Better yet, “How much of your attention and love does God have?” Only you and Him can answer that honestly! Will you? Walter

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Colonnade Beach.

Down on Philip Island just along from Cape Woolami is an area of Beach called Forrest Caves, and just a little further on from there is another beach called Colonnade Beach.

When I went there to inspect this Colonnade area I was at first a little disappointed as I walked along the beach.

At first I was at a loss to see what all the fuss was about? Not really being into rocks, it looked kind of ordinary to me. However I kept on walking along the beach back in the direction towards Forrest Caves Beach. As I went further along the beach I saw the real Colonnades. Much more impressive and worth the extra effort in walking. Had I given up earlier I would have missed the real thing, simply because I didn’t know any better.

This led me to wonder how much in our lives, how much “good stuff’ do we miss simple because we make a judgement on first appearances and don’t journey on far enough to see the real thing?

Thus it helps if we really know what we are looking for or at, before we start or that we have expert help along to guide us so that we don’t accept the first thing we see and assume that it is “the real thing”. Put another way I couldn’t help wondering how many false images I have accepted into my life in the past, simple because I didn’t know or take the time to seek the real thing? How about you? I hope that you are more discerning than me! Walter