Monday, March 31, 2008

Graduation again.

Her mother and I went proudly to our last-born’s Graduation the other night. Again! She now has a “Graduate Certificate of Counselling and Psychotherapy” to go along side of her University degree. To say that we are both very proud of her goes with out saying, yet even with this second degree she is still not fully qualified to work freely in the field of her choosing. To do so, she has to gain more experience and exposure in that field. (It was for that very reason that she did this particular course too.)

The point is for her, if she wants to work freely in her desired field, she has to work and train hard at it, and she is and we are proud of her for that. But what about you? Are you fully prepared to work, and to work hard and long for the “dream position” that you desire? Or do you thing it should be given to you on a platter? And a “Silver One” too? If so I have some sad news for you. “It ain’t gonna happen”!

Please forgive the bad and deliberately bad English, but even if I wrote, “It isn’t going to happen! “ The result is still going to be the same. It ain’t gonna come about, no-way no-how!

If you want your dream job or even dream life, you are going to have to work at it and work at it hard. And even then you still may not get it, but at least you will know that it wasn’t for lack of trying on your part.

We believe our daughter will make it in her chosen field but she still has a way to go; yet she is still sticking to it. What about you? Do you still need to stick at and work for your dream, whatever it is? If so, do stick with it, and work at it and good Luck: Walter

To our darling little Baby: Keep it up Girl we are all so-oo proud of you.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Why Buy Expensive Things?

In my recent blog “Why Buy Expensive Toys” I reminisced on how little children often got greater pleasure out of the simple inexpensive things, than the more expensive ones.

However as any parent of growing children will agree, that stage quickly passes, and it is not long before they want the latest trendy expensive things that they see their peers have.

If you are lucky they will also eventually grow out of that stage when they have to buy their own things, though not always.

Sometimes there is real validity in buying the more expensive quality item, but oft times these days, the (often much) cheaper Item is as good as or even better than the more expensive items, and often last longer too!

Sometimes there is little real “difference” in quality between name” brands” and Generic brands, but real differences in cost. Often we pay big bucks for the Brand name, but get little extra value for our extra money. So what about you? Do you shop for value or labels?

These days, especially when compared to my (long gone) youth, there is more and more every day to spend our money on, but are we really spending it wisely? Or are there many more things that we could do with the same amount of money that we now have, if we spent it more economically?

Now I am not actually saying to buy everything completely on price alone. You have to use some sense here and sort the wheat from the Chaff, but sometimes the cheaper wheat is just as good as the more expensive kind, especially if it is all going to become flour anyway! What say you?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Wine-in a-can.

Was reading in the Herald Sun on March 6 about a new product called “Wine-in-a-can.” Now I must confess right here that haven’t drunken wine or alcohol for years. I used to be a social drinker before I became a Christian but never really liked either and never drank at home, unless I had drinking friends over - Only when out and to be sociable. However upon becoming a Christian, although I could find scriptural warrant for drinking wine, I realised that I was only being a hypocrite by drinking only when friends were around, so I stopped. Not stopped being social, just stopped being a social drinker that’s all. So all this is just to let you know that I don’t have a vested interest in pushing this product at all. What interested me was that they were able to finally get it in to a can.

I had heard previously that this was not possible. In fact the article stares that “People have been trying to put wine in a can since 1936 but the wine always collapsed or ate through the can because of acidity.”

Yet this never stopped people trying, and it didn’t stop one Greg Stokes either! After 5 years of research; building on all the research of those who had tried before, a winning formula was perfected called the “Vinsafe” system.

Of course creating the product was one thing selling it was another. This man actually started off canning and selling his own premium quality wines at the Cellar Door, before finally getting then into 40 Safeway stores over a bout five years ago. Still it was a hard slog convincing wine lovers of the quality of “Wine in a can”! Making it happen was one thing. Convincing the general public it works, was another thing altogether it seams!

The inventor Greg stokes was at a party drinking his own product when a fellow guest asked what he was drinking. When told, “Wine-in-a-can” the guy replied, “What idiot would make that?” To which Mr Stokes replied, “Me.”

That fellow guest obviously tried the product and although in a completely different business, became an investment partner in the scheme of selling canned wine. So far they are not flooding the market with their product but selecting certain niche Markets and countries to introduce their product to selected segments of the market.

This man succeeded at a process that many others had tried and failed at, by building on their research and adding his own improvements and by never giving up! Just because many had tried for many years without success, did not stop him from trying.

Then even when succeeding, he still needed to convince the buying public of the value of his product. And finally he realised he needed outside help and financing to finish the project, and brought in interested outsiders. Not just those with money but those with a real interest in the product. And finally rather than try and hit every market available, they have aimed for niche markets to build up the brand name and reputation, by word of mouth so to speak, rather than through mass advertising.

Can we not also learn from this example? Learn to believe in our product and ourselves? Learn to persevere and stick at our appointed task or lot? Learn whom to bring in from outside, if necessarily; the help that is required and not just take whatever is available? And finally to learn what markets it would be best promote our product in?

What say you now? Do you still have some unfinished business that you need to stick at? Can you really do it all yourself, or do you too need to bring in outside help? These are, in my humble opinion, great questions, but they are also questions only you can answer. Again what say you?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Lady Astor and Winston Churchill.

Recently I did a couple of blogs on Winston Churchill and his run-ins with a certain Lady Astor. Of course I knew who Sir Winston was but had no idea who Lady Astor was until I received this reply from England saying that “Lady Astor was the first woman to be admitted to Parliament so we can now look back and see how much Churchill disliked this intrusion of a male dominated domain!!
How about you? Do you likewise despise someone else intruding on what you consider to be your own personal domain? There should be no place for discrimination of people on any grounds other than competency in the task that they are given to do. We should accept or reject all people on their talents, not on their colour, creed or sex. What say you?
I will leave you with one last item from the Churchill/Lady Astor Feud:
Lady Astor: "if you were my husband I would put poison in your drink"
Churchill replied, "If I was your husband I would drink it!"

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Credit Where Credit Is Due for Tamsyn Lewis.

Recently I did a blog on Tamsyn Lewis and about how when she was being unfairly treated by some people, that she never gave up, but even now is still being knocked, even when winning!
To which I received this reply: Isn’t it amazing the way we treat our elite? It doesn’t matter what it is, politics, sport, music, anything that gets that person’s name out there in the public eye. I sometimes wonder if it not a gigantic case of envy. Sure Tamsyn is sometimes outspoken and she is not particularly popular with her fellow athletes but she should be given credit for what she does and not knocked all the time. Her feud with Jana (Pittman) Rawlinson was headlines all over the place but at least she is out there competing which is more than most of her knockers are doing.
To which I replied with the following: “Hear, hear!” That was my point exactly. Sure if a person needs a kick up the back-side, then give it by all means, just make sure that the time and place is appropriate, and that you are genuinely doing it to help that person, and not to inflate your own ego or cause. That is the problem with most criticism these days! It is not aimed to help the other person, but to help our own cause or egos.
If criticism or correction is warranted to help the other person, then we should indeed give it if we have a legitimate opportunity, but we should offer it graciously and definitely without any malice or envy.
However, at the same time, where credit is due, give it and don't hold back either. So few ever do that these days do they? But how about you and your Criticism? Why do you give it? To really help build up the other person, or to tear them down so that you can be built up in their place?
Are you a knocker from the grandstands too, or are you out there competing as well? It is easy to give advice from a distance, but it is more meaningful and powerful if it is from a fellow participator rather than from an onlooker. That’s not to say onlookers can’t give good advice too, just that most critics can’t compete, so they complain about those that can. I trust that I am not talking about you here? What say you? Walter

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Computers! Great when working, not so great when not!

Well here I am again after an enforced Break. Switched my computer off as normal last Thursday night, but on the Friday morning, couldn’t switch it on no matter how hard I tried. Of course our one and only son and computer “fix-it” was away for the Easter weekend, so I couldn’t get any help there, could I? His older sister suggested ringing a couple of her/their cousins for advice and help, which I followed up on. Fortunately one was able to help me, just not the one I/we had thought of, that’s all.
Anyway he soon diagnosed that the problem was the power board and that I needed a new one, which of course I couldn’t get till the shops re-opened Tuesday on. Anyway he used his computer to open the files that I needed for Sunday’s Service and got me out of trouble there and then. Yesterday when the shops reopened I was able to get the new part and have it installed. So now it is now back on and working with a new Power board and me a few dollars lighter.
Anyway my problem on Friday was that I had material in the computer that I needed and no way of getting them out over the holidays with my son unavailable to help me and I had to turn elsewhere for help, with no idea where to turn too. Had my younger daughter also not been away for the weekend, I would have turned to her next.
In all honesty, had I not been in desperate strife, I would not have turned to my first born as she is not noted in our household as much help when it comes to problems with the computer. Helping use various programs and such, Oh yes, but providing solutions or help in fixing problems? NO! However she was able to point me in the right direction.
In trying to track down one of those person’s of possible help that she had indicated, I had to go through his house mate (and another relative,) to reach him, only to find that this first person, much to my surprise knew as much, if not more about computers, as the one I was trying to Contact. Although I know this young man very well and have called on him many times for help and advice with my fish, I was not aware of His computer competence too, and had always considered the other Guy to be the so-called expert.
I know I have written about this before, but I was again guilty of only seeing one dimension of a persons abilities and expertise and in my mind at least, didn’t think he could do much else, especially when he was overshadowed by someone else in that field.
What about you? Are you perhaps guilty of the same thing of overlooking someone’s expertise, simply because you associate them with some other area of talent and who are normally overshadowed in another field (which they might even be better at) because you automatically associate someone else as being better.
Last Friday I was guilty of under estimating the help that both my daughter and my Nephew were able to give. Yet both very graciously helped me despite my initial snub of them both. Thank you both heaps. I sincerely thank you both for your graciousness as well as your help!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Superfluous but nice Praise.

Although today is actually our First -Born’s 30th Birthday, she had her party last weekend with over 50 in attendance made up of Family, friends, and work mates.
I was chatting with one of her Bosses who said some really nice things about her. (All true too!) Then he said something also very true but to my mind very superfluous. I mean to say, what father needs to be told that He should be proud of his Child, I ask you?
As I told Him I/we are very proud of all three of our kids: Both the Girls and our boy. To which he replied with a statement that was not superfluous at all. He said that as he had not met our son, he could make no comment there, but he had met our youngest daughter (on the odd occasion she had gone to have lunch or whatever with her sister,) and fully agreed with my right to be proud of her too.
I thought then, that here is a man in whom there is no Guile. He lavishly praised our first born and even acknowledged as good the little he knew of our last born, but he was not prepared to make comment one way or the other about the one he didn’t know.
What about us? You and me? Can the same be said about us too? Are we as quick to praise where praise is due? But even then, only to offer genuine praise and not make false comment, just for conversation sake? What say you?
In the mean time: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BIG BABY OF MINE. Proud of you and love you heaps.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Superfluous Word.

At our First -Born’s recent 30th Birthday Party, one of her Bosses made a comment to me that although very, very nice, and likewise as generous and true, I considered it superfluous. So much so that I decided to write a blog about it, but then began to wonder at myself for even using the word superfluous! I mean isn’t the word “Superfluous,” superfluous anyway?
I guess I must have come across the word Superfluous through reading books long, long ago in the past, and probably knew what it meant long before I could actually properly pronounce it. (It is not pronounced “super- fluous” as I first used to pronounce it, but rather it is:” Su-per-flu-ous” and actually means:” Unnecessary or Needless comment” or “Extra – redundant, etc”.)
The thing is I have long known how to properly pronounce it and even longer, have known what it meant, but to the best of my memory, I have never ever used it before in Conversation let alone in writing. Which leads me to wonder how many others these days actually use the word “Superfluous” as against those who use the words “ Unnecessary or redundant etc?”
This led me to wonder how many other words there are used in Books and articles these days that no one ever uses in real live Conversations? How about you? Have you ever used Superfluous? And are there any other words that you know of, that would fit into this category of “known but never used in real speech?” Over to you for comment now: Walter

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Why Buy Expensive Toys?

A recent video e-mail doing the rounds bearing the above name, has a young baby going into hysterics at ripping up pieces of paper held presumably by its father.
As a father of three who all went through a similar stage, that scene resonated with me. I still remember our own first experience with this phenomenon with our first –born. I can’t actually remember what the gift was, but it was rather expensive in those days, and she liked it a little bit, but her favourite toy at the time was something else.
You see as well as buying her this new toy, I also bought myself a new lunch box, as my old plastic one was cracked at the hinge and no longer as effective for its proper purpose. So it was headed for the rubbish bin when "someone" claimed it for her latest toy and had it for quite some time till it eventually disappeared.
Now in this day and age, when there is more and more every day to spend our, less & less (It seems) money on, do we not sometimes need to revert back to the mind of these little ones and find real pleasure, not in the flash and fancy, but in the plain and simple things of Life.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I am not advocating buying yourself new things and given your old worn out ones away as gifts. Not at all. However I am suggesting that we don’t always have to break the budget or the bank, to get our loved ones (Big and small,) gifts. Often we could get them more simpler gifts, couldn’t we? Gifts that they may actually prefer over the more flashier, expensive, and less personal ones, hey?
What say you? Have you ever given it a thought? Put another way, how many gifts have you received that when you have guessed /realised was spent on it, had have wished that they had of just given you half that amount in cash, as you could have put it to better use?
This is what I am suggesting. Not so much spending less on your loved ones, but spending more wisely and effectively for them. Giving them what they really would appreciate, rather than what you think they would appreciate. What say you?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Selective Hearing.

Other people can be annoying sometimes can’t they? Sometimes you feel like saying, “ People, Hey! Cant' live with them and can't live without them!” don’t you?
Despite that, there are always a few that make you want to try though, don’t they? Sadly whatever we do though, we will come across people like that don't we? Even on the Blogesphere! Although there, it is much easier to disconnect from them than in real life isn't it? So how do you deal with these people when they occur? Well, I guess there are many ways to deal with them and the best is to avoid these people permanently.
Unfortunately it is not always possible to do this is it? Sometimes you just have to hang in there, until they are satisfied or go away don’t you? That and to become selectively deaf!
When in the former Transkei, we tried walking around the slum areas there (Where most of the Xhosa speakers were) to try and learn their language. My wife was a lot better at “Hearing” things than me, (although I was quicker to pick up the speaking part.) However, there were many times I would say, "AndiQondi." (I don't understand) And my wife would start to say what was actually said, and I would quietly say, "Shut up and keep walking." I had heard enough to know I didn't like where it was leading and just wanted to get away from it, and them, as quickly as possible and usually it worked effectively. We avoided a few possibly prickly situations by simple not hearing/ understanding, and then by removing ourselves politely, before anything more serious developed.
I don’t know what situations you find yourself in that you would rather not be in but maybe next time, a hearing difficulty may be to your advantage? I know that this is not always possible in a work situation to avoid everything, but maybe a bit of selective hearing may help defuse possible flare-ups for you too. Anyway it may be worth a try! What say you?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Do You Really Appreciate What You Have?

Recently read a story about a rich man who didn’t believe his son was as appreciative of what he had, as he should be. Have no idea if the story is true or not, but according to the story, the rich man sent his son to stay at on a poor family’s farm for a while.
After a month there, the son returned home and the father asked, “Now, don’t you appreciate what we have here?” The boy apparently thought for a while before saying, “ The family I stayed with, is better off. With what they have planted, they enjoy meals together. And they always seem to have time for one another.”
It seems this young man learned one of the real truths of life. You don’t need riches to be happy and in fact rather than make you happy, riches can oft times snatch away what happiness that is there.
What about you? Are you neglecting spending time with family and friends in the pursuit of happiness through riches? Do you too need to have some time out so that you too can see that true happiness doesn’t come from riches alone but through a healthy and loving relationship with others too? What say you today from your present perspective? Walter

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tamsyn Lewis: You Go Girl! 12/3/2008
Tamsyn Lewis is an Australian Athlete who unfortunately is very pretty and pretty outspoken when asked her opinions. These two things have caused her some grief during her career particularly as she has not been able to live up to everyone else’s expectations of her athletic capabilities. One coach went as far as labelling here as “A B-Grade athlete and a C-grade Celebrity.”
Despite being disappointed to the point of wanting to quit and just walk away, altogether from Athletics after comments like this, she continued on and recently won the World Indoor Championship over 800 metres. This is not her top preferred distance and yet she still managed to finish two places ahead of the recognised world Champ over that distance.
And so the Compliments are finally flying her well aren’t they? Well not from all it seems.
In the Melbourne Herald Sun paper on the 12th of March, someone wrote in saying,’ She did extremely well in winning the World indoor Championship but, in a tactically ran race, her time was poor. It would be nowhere near good enough to reach an Olympic final.”
Now this person may yet turn out being correct, but at least Tamsyn is winning and not just against lesser runners either. So why is she not getting acknowledged by all for this? Why do we continually belittle people, even when they are winning? Even when Tamsyn runs her best ever time over that distance and wins, someone is still not happy!
Instead of discouraging people all the time, why don’t we try and encourage them once in a while too. Again I am not talking about false platitudes or giving false hope, but do give credit where credit is due.
As for Tamsyn Lewis, my advice to her would be, “Keep plugging away there, girl. You have to be in it to win it and if you are in it, who knows what will happen? Remember Steven Bradbury, coming last in a field of 6 Ice-skaters at the 2002 Winter Olympic Final? What happened? He won the Gold, that’s what happened!”
Oh sure, he only won because those in front fell and brought the rest down, but he maintained his balance and finished the race! That’s my advice to all the Tamsyns, and even all the Walters out there too: “Finish the race. Give it your best Shot and finish the race!” You won’t always win but you will never know if you don’t have a go, will you?

Tamsyn Lewis: You Go Girl!

Tamsyn Lewis is an Australian Athlete who unfortunately is very pretty and pretty outspoken when asked her opinions. These two things have caused her some grief during her career particularly as she has not been able to live up to everyone else’s expectations of her athletic capabilities. One coach went as far as labelling here as “A B-Grade athlete and a C-grade Celebrity.”
Despite being disappointed to the point of wanting to quit and just walk away, altogether from Athletics after comments like this, she continued on and recently won the World Indoor Championship over 800 metres. This is not her top preferred distance and yet she still managed to finish two places ahead of the recognised world Champ over that distance.
And so the Compliments are finally flying her well aren’t they? Well not from all it seems.
In the Melbourne Herald Sun paper on the 12th of March, someone wrote in saying,’ She did extremely well in winning the World indoor Championship but, in a tactically ran race, her time was poor. It would be nowhere near good enough to reach an Olympic final.”
Now this person may yet turn out being correct, but at least Tamsyn is winning and not just against lesser runners either. So why is she not getting acknowledged by all for this? Why do we continually belittle people, even when they are winning? Even when Tamsyn runs her best ever time over that distance and wins, someone is still not happy!
Instead of discouraging people all the time, why don’t we try and encourage them once in a while too. Again I am not talking about false platitudes or giving false hope, but do give credit where credit is due.
As for Tamsyn Lewis, my advice to her would be, “Keep plugging away there, girl. You have to be in it to win it and if you are in it, who knows what will happen? Remember Steven Bradbury, coming last in a field of 6 Ice-skaters at the 2002 Winter Olympic Final? What happened? He won the Gold, that’s what happened!”
Oh sure, he only won because those in front fell and brought the rest down, but he maintained his balance and finished the race! That’s my advice to all the Tamsyns, and even all the Walters out there too: “Finish the race. Give it your best Shot and finish the race!” You won’t always win but you will never know if you don’t have a go, will you?

Friday, March 14, 2008

A little bit of recognition, thanks.

Here’s a little story I received via e-mail. I have no idea if it is true or not but kinda hope it was. You will soon see why:
“A very self-important college freshman attending a recent football game, took it upon himself to explain to a senior citizen sitting next to him why it was impossible for the older generation to understand his generation.
"You grew up in a different world, actually an almost primitive one," the student said, loud enough for many of those nearby to hear. "The young people of today grew up with television, jet planes, space travel, man walking on the moon, our spaceships have visited Mars. We have nuclear energy, electric and hydrogen cars, computers with DSL, bsp; light-speed processing ...and," pausing to take another drink of beer.
The Senior took advantage of the break in the student's litany and said, "You're right, son. We didn't have those things when we were young..... So we invented them. Now, you arrogant little ****, what are you doing for the next generation?
The applause was resounding...”
Very funny, place-putting and astute but I wonder how many of us really do appreciate or even recognise our true place in society and our real purpose for being there? This generation mentioned inventing all the above things was the one(s) I grew up in, although I never directly influenced any of the above-mentioned things. However I did belong to the many from within that generation, that provided the goods and services, so that the more astute amongst us was able to be relieved of that tedium and to concentrate on these great inventions.
Again what about you? You may only be growing food, or making some of the more basic necessities of life, or selling them in a shop, or just supplying these people with their lunches.
On the surface just boring, tedious, unglamorous jobs, aren’t they? Yet these tasks are important, even essential, if those more inventive than us, are to both flourish and invent. Invent, create or simply improve the very things that many today take for granted, but which wouldn’t be here except for our kind and us, doing our jobs yesterday.
So today’s message has two points to it.
If you are indeed lucky enough to be in the natural inventive type, don’t rest on the laurels of all those who have gone before you, but look for newer or better things to improve on. Not just for yourself but also for the next Generation.
On the other hand, even if you are like me you are not the most original thinker or creative mind, take confidence that these other “Smarties’ can only exist and create because of your more mundane, even fundamental, but “Oh so necessary” supply of goods and services to them.
So the real moral of today’s story is: neither think too highly nor too lowly of yourself! All of us have a valued place and role in our society and generation, and, almost by default if you like, are leaving something for the next generation. The only question is not of its importance, but of it’s real value! So what, no matter how small you think it may be, are you leaving for the next Generation to benefit from?
It may not be even a solid tangible thing but simply a work ethic or personal inspiration. All of us leave something behind, whether good or bad! What say you? What are you leaving for future generations? And will it be appreciated for its true value?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Footnote to the Mechanic and the Surgeon.

I received the following reply to my blog about a Mechanic wanting the same pay as a surgeon because in his, opoinion, they both did the same Job. All to which the Surgeon replied: "Try doing it with the engine running." Thus pointing out a major difference between the two. A friend replied to this blog with the following and further difference between the two”
“This brought back a remark, many years ago a family member (a mechanic) worked for Mercedes Benz and a surgeon came in to complain his car was not working after a service and the reply from the Mechanic was I can fix my mistakes but yours end up in the graveyard!!”
This made me question myself as to how seriously I do take my tasks? Do I approach them with a care –free attitude, believing that even if I do stuff it up, I will get the chance to fix it up? Or do I approach them will the attitude that a job worth doing, is worth doing well? What about you? Do you always give your best to all you do? (Even if sometimes that “Best” will vary do to conditions like health and time constraints etc?)
I know that we, and I specifically, will never ever get it right every time, but that should never stop us from trying though, should it? What say you? Can you fix your mistakes, or does someone else have to bury them?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The mechanic and the surgeon.

Got this story of the net and love it: A mechanic was removing a cylinder head from the motor of a Harley motorcycle when he spotted a well-known heart surgeon in his shop. The surgeon was there, waiting for the service manager to come and take a look at his bike. The mechanic shouted across the garage, "Hey, Doc, can I ask you a question?" The surgeon a bit surprised, walked over to the mechanic working on the motorcycle.
The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, "So Doc, look at this engine. I open its heart, take valves out, fix 'em, put 'em back in, and when I finish, it works just like new. So how come I get such a small salary and you get the really big bucks, when you and I are doing basically the same work?" The surgeon paused, smiled and leaned over, and whispered to the mechanic... "Try doing it with the engine running."
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have been like that Motor mechanic and have compared myself to others that I think are doing the same as me but getting paid more for it. And Like the mechanic, I have had to have pointed out to me that what I was doing was with the Motor switched off, while what they were doing was like with the motor switched on.
Sometimes we have to take the advice that Joe South gave us in his song, “Walk a mile in my shoes.”
That advice? “Before you accuse, criticize and abuse, walk a mile in my shoes!” I think that is very valid advice don’t you? Yes, from a distance, the things various people do, like with the mechanic and the surgeon, may look and sound the same at first glanse, but when we look at them properly from the other person’s perspective, the difference is as great as that between working on a motor when it is running and when it is not. What say you? Walter

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Winston Churchill: Put down 2.

While on the subject of put downs and Winston Churchill, I also recently read of an incident with Lady Astor, where Lady Astor supposedly replied to Sir Winston with the following piece of sarcasm: “I suppose I would sleep with you for a Million Pounds”. To which Winston offered her ten Pounds. To which she exclaimed haughtily and shrilly, “Just what sort of women do you think I am?” All to which he calmly replied. “We have already established that! All we are doing now is haggling about price.”
This exposes another danger of using sarcasm: That of having it reinterpreted as being genuine when it wasn’t. I am pretty sure that Lady Astor would probably have never slept with Sir Winston at any price and was only trying to belittle him with her comment. However, in her attempt to belittle him, Winston was able to turn it back on her and the only one belittled, was herself, and all her own doing too!
Again this shows the danger of using sarcasm and especially in trying to belittle others, as it also makes you vulnerable to a counter charge. Again one is reminded of an old Maximum. That of “He/ she, who lives in a glasshouse, should not throw stones”. Lady Astor probable thought she was pretty clever and cutting with her comment, but Sir Winston, was able to take her very own “Stone” and throw it back at her smashing her defences completely.
Again where a word to the wise is appropriate it should, even must, be said, but don’t try and put people down with sarcasm, unless you live in a completely stone proof house with all the guards up. What say you? Walter

Monday, March 10, 2008

Winston Churchill: Put down 1.

Sarcasm can be funny if done well. Of, course if not done well it can just be very hurtful. Even worse than that, if you are not good at it, or just not careful with it, it can turn around and bite the giver, as one lady found out when she crossed swords with that master of the short “sound bite’, Sir Winston Churchill.
Of course this story goes back many years but in my humble opinion is worth re-telling.
Apparently they were at a party and Sir Winston had been drinking a little, which I understand was his habit anyway, and this lady apparently got into a heated exchange with him, to which he replied with ”You’re ugly”. Not a nice thing to say even if it was true, and the lady angrily retorted. “And you’re drunk”. To which Sir Winston replied, “Yes but in the morning, I will be sober, but you will still be Ugly.”
Again, not a very nice reply, but one, which to my mind at least, exemplifies the old maximum of never trying to argue with a fool, as people listening will find it hard to know which is which. The lady was probably right, but Winston won the argument, at least in the eyes of the watchers.
What about ourselves? How often have we been involved in a discussion like this that leads to no satisfaction, when it would have been far better to simply disengage and walk away relatively unscathed rather than engage in a battle you just can’t win there and then?
What Winston said was not nice and needed to be corrected for sure, but there and then was quite obviously neither the time nor the place, and intervention then, only exploded further on the lady. Instead of retiring hurt but dignified, for another more private battle latter when Winston sobered, she made herself a permanent laughing stock.
Again how often has that happened to you? How many times have we realized later to our cost, that it just wasn’t worth it, there and then, and that we should have waited for a better, perhaps more private time? So, the next time you are thinking of using sarcasm think it through thoroughly. There may be a better way, or at least a better time and place. What say you? Walter

Friday, March 7, 2008

Can you too not see the Stable Door?

Sometimes it is said of unobservant people that they are so blind that they wouldn’t see a stable door unless it hit them. I don’t know about you, but I am thinking that I too fit that Category. I can’t say that I am particularly happy to admit this but it turns out to be true in my case.
When in South Africa, particularly in the rural areas with the African people, they nearly all had normal-door size, two-piece Stable type doors on their Mud-brick homes. This was very practical as it allowed fresh air and light, into these smallish round huts that only had two small windows opposite each other and the door. It also allowed this light and fresh air to enter the huts, whilst at the same time restricting the chickens, dogs, pigs, and occasional goat, from entering their homes.
So in South Africa we were used to seeing these doors and even our last home there had a set on the Kitchen door. (Although I hasten to add we lived in a normal house and not a mud brick, grass roofed Hut! Occasionally slept in them, but never permanently lived in one!)
However here in Australia, they are not that common at all, particularly in the city and suburbs, like where we are now. However I did ‘notice “ one the other day. I say notice, because after living in this house for over 3 months, I suddenly discovered that a door I normally use at least once a day, if not more, was of this two–piece Stable–door type. It was the Garage side door. However it had been fixed in such a way that I never noticed that it was actually a 2-piece door, and only discovered by accident when I touched what I thought was a solid board only to find it was only fixed at the top and acted as the swing bar that either kept it all together or let each part go its separate way.
Apart from being rather embarrassing that I had been using it regularly, literally months, without recognising its true purpose and value, I also had to wonder how many other otherwise equally obvious things I was missing out on, perhaps even to my deprivation and loss?
What applies to me, may even apply to you too! Are there things around you that you see regularly but fail to fully recognise and appreciate? Maybe you too might need to make a new journey of discovery too? Not into the outside world, but just out, in and around where you are now? What say you? Are you prepared to make that journey and to try and see things through fresh eyes and recognise and give everything its true value, worth and due? Over to you for comment!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Warn or threaten? What’s The Difference?

Was reading an article by Julie Ackerman in “Our Daily Bread” on Feb.20, where she said, ”Threats are used to get people to do what is in our interests. Warnings are issued to get people to do what is in their best interest. In other words, threats seek to preserve power whereas warnings serve to protect people from danger.” Further on she said, “In loving relationships, people warn one another of the inevitable consequences of foolish behavior. In unhealthy relationships, people threatened one another with punishment if they fail to live up to unreasonable demands.”
She finally concluded with: “As we interact with others, it is good to consider the nature of our counsel and commands. Do we use ultimatums to preserve our own well-being? Or do we lovingly warn others to keep them from Harm.”
Again I was personally challenged by this comparison between warning and threatening those I come into contact with, but don’t always agree with.
How about you? How do you respond to people not doing things the way you want or believe they should be done? With threats or warnings, or do you just not bother with these people if you can avoid it? If you can really get away with that, then Good luck to you, but I have found that mostly you can’t always avoid people and that you do have to interact with people all the time and so from now on I will endeavour to warn rather than threaten people in future where they are wrong and listen to their warnings when I am wrong, which is more often that I would like to admit to! How about you Do you react to warnings with threats of your own? Or do you threaten rather than warn others? Over to you for your say!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How To Encourage Others.

How do you encourage others? One can always tell people what to do and how to do something, can’t we? But how effective is this method anyway and is there a better way?
I personally have found the best encouragement has come from watching and learning from others, rather than just listening to their words. However the reality that is we usually need to have both methods really. We need both the spoken advice and the practical encouragement of others don’t we?
That is why I write these blogs. As I have been encouraged by others and my own experiences over the years, I have jotted these things down to encourage others on the basis of, “If I can do something, then so can just about everyone else too!”
Yes, we all need to be encouraged and nudged along from time to time and the best way, in my humble opinion, is from personal experience and that is why I am trying to encourage others, not by telling them what to do, but by showing how I have been encouraged by others and how they too can encourage others, not with fancy words, but with their own personal examples in life.
Sometimes we think that we are the only ones experiencing or going through a particular incident and think we have to learn it all from scratch, but there are plenty of others who have experienced near perfect copies of your experience that you can learn from and learn some short cuts and tips that will save you heaps in time, costs, effort and even pain. So never be ashamed to learn from others nor to share your experiences with others going through the same thing as you have. Over to you!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

How To Get Everyone On Board?

Recently we had a Games night at our home for Church family and friends. This has been tried before with limited success and thus I was asked the question in today’s title.

Here is my response: A good question with perhaps many answers. Here is the one I try to practise. I think the first step in, "How do you get everyone on board?" Is to realize that you are not ever going to achieve that! It will never happen that you will get everyone together at the one time and spot. Forgetting those who just don’t want to come anyhow, there will always be some legitimate reasons, such as work, illness, previous engagement, emergency, etc, why people can’t legitimately come, no matter how much or little they might want to come. And so one needs to realise this and not try to get all but, try to encourage those that are available and thus try that which will reach the most available people, time and event wise.

Then you need to find what will attract them. Then you need to present this in a friendly non-threatening way. Because so many Christians in the past have gone full-bore head-on like a bull at a gate, many people are scared of all Christians, even in purely social settings!

It is only when they get to experience a gentle but convinced Christian and find that they can talk to them and get reasoned responses and not the Bible rammed down their throats, that they will take the chance and ask you questions, with the real intent of truly and carefully listening to your answers. Thus any event, whether organized or just over a meal, where people can get to know one another and feel comfortable with one another is the starting point, and the finishing point is not when you start witnessing to them, but when they start questioning you! Of course all this takes time and effort and as said at the start, will not attract everyone. The thing is not to try for everyone but to work with the ones you have. Remember, “A Bird in the Hand is worth two in the Bush!” What say you?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Ettore Sottsass Jr Thought Outside the Box.

I have to confess that, probably like you, I had never heard of Ettore before, until I read of his passing on Dec.32, 2007 at the age of 90.

Ettore, the son of an Italian architect, made his name in the 60’s as an industrial designer for Olivetti. Through colour, form and styling, he managed to bring office equipment into the realms of popular culture.

He designed Olivetti’s electronic equipment, typewriters and office furniture. He also helped revolutionise the earlier thinking that a machine is merely a box, by introducing bright, colour- coded controls, etc.

What about us? You and Me? Do we tend to take simple things like Computers, and office equipment, or anything else for that matter for granted, without recognising further possibilities?

Do we just see necessary “Boxes” in our everyday life? Or like Ettore, can we see outside the Boxes, and see further potential in the everyday things around us? Can you? I probably have to admit here that that is probably not my talent, but maybe it is yours, only you still need to find this out? What say you? What everyday life “Box” can you “colourize” today?

Ettore Sottsass Jr Thought Outside the Box, can you? Over to you for comment.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Guy Sebastian gives himself permission.

Guy Sebastian perfected his musical training experience singing in the Church of his youth in Adelaide and later went onto recording fame through being the first winner of Australian idol and so far, the most successful too. Of course, as his career has progressed, his style, confidence and competence has improved, both as a performer and a writer. He is currently writing songs for his next Album which will be all original songs written by him. However he is also currently touring the songs of his current Album, which is a blues cover version.

These were the songs that he grew up with and what he wanted to do was “to bring a modern take on the songs and yet remain true to the songs and retain an old school feel.”

To help him do this, he went to Memphis itself and recorded with many of the original backing musicians. Many were as impressed with him as he with them, and so Steve Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn, among others have in turn, travelled to Australia to tour the Album with Guy.

The success of the Album (The Memphis Album), and the tour, marks a new era of confidence for young Guy. He said, “ There was a time when I was listening to what everyone was telling me about what direction I should go in. Then I gave myself permission to be myself and its great!” Further he added, “ What I want to do is continue to produce music that expresses my soul.”

Now if your singing is anything like mine (Which is really terrible) you and I will never be able to produce music that expresses our souls, but we can still do some other things that will allow us to do just that.

But like Guy, we will have to do our apprenticeship and the long hard yards learning and perfecting our craft. Even then, we may have to follow the lead and direction of others for a while. But eventually there will too for us, come a time where we will either have to give ourselves permission to be ourselves, or else we will forever be trying to please others and never ever achieving that or Happiness.

For Guy, to turn away from the Idol format and the “Pop Market”, to the Blues arena was a risky move particularly in Australia, where that market is small. Fortunately for him, it had paid off in spades.

That may not always be the case for us, but if like Guy, we go with our hearts, we will never die wondering what might have been will we?

So what about you now? Do you need to give yourself permission to be yourself? And if so, will you? It is no good just thinking about it! You also need to act on it and follow it through with all your heart and soul and effort. So are you going to do those things that expresses your soul, or are you going to die wondering?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Joe Dolan’s Gone Searching For A Good Looking Women.

I realize that it is two months after the event but I have just read of Joe Dolan’s passing on December 26th last year. I only remember Joe for one song late in the sixties here in Australia, called “Your Such A Good Looking Women”. (Not a great singer but not a bad song in my humble opinion.)

It was my understanding, until I read the article in the paper, that he was a one-hit wonder. (In Australia, if not in his own country Ireland.) So I was surprised to find that this was actually his third and not his first hit in Australia during the 60’s. (The others being, “Make Me An Island” & Teresa.) He also had a couple of more Chart toppers in 77 & 81, & a successful Album in 96, although I had never heard of any of them, other than “Your such a good Looking Women”.

Thus my opinion of Joe and his talent, was based on just one item in a much wider menu that I knew nothing about. How often do we make that same mistake? Instead of getting to know someone or something properly and consider their whole and wider body of work, we base our whole reaction on just one part or small aspect of their wider repertoire. We, or at least I, need to make a more thorough assessment of their whole work or possibilities, instead of judging them or it, a small and maybe even non- typical part of their wider works.

It seems Joe has been performing around the world until shortly before his passing at 64. So, no, he didn’t loose anything by my lack of recognition, but maybe I have missed out in experiencing all that Joe had to offer.

Now I don’t wish to put too much emphasis on the place of music and singing here, but just simply want to warn about the possible losses in our lives when we don’t fully assess or recognise certain things or talents in others. Sometimes they will lose out from this and at other times we will be the losers. But wouldn’t it be much better if we were all a little more thorough in our assessments in the first place, so that every one can be winners?

(Vale: Joe Dolan Oct.16, 1943 – Dec.26, 2007.)