Monday, 7 August 2017

mental models compilation

I've not come across a better list of mental models. Makes me wonder what our society would be like if we taught kids the basics of this as part of foundational education.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

good for my soul

Thankyou Bundjalung people. Thankyou Cape Byron. Thankyou winter holiday friends. It's been amazing ... again.

Monday, 12 June 2017

contentment vs happiness



My friend (and The Age's Chief Editorial Writer) Michael Short penned some thoughts recently that I think deserve serious pondering. In reflecting on Anthony Foster's life his piece was called, "Why happiness is overrated - and why contentment is a better measure."

"An entire industry has developed around the 'science of happiness', with coaches and psychologists and facilitators and gurus guiding the guileless and the grasping. Is such an unquestioning expectation a mistake? Is happiness perhaps not as reliable as we might believe? Is happiness a slightly flimsy, shallow notion? Might it not be better to seek something a little more solid? Happiness is closely associated with satisfying desire, with attaining pleasure. A better notion, surely, is contentment, which is related to happiness, but is more about being satisfied within realistic parameters, and not being rendered miserable by unmet, unrealistic or unjustified material and self-indulgent desires."

Hmmm. It is difficult not to pursue happiness. Who doesn't want happiness, and therefore who doesn't make decisions attempting to optimise it? But the problem of course is that we are immersed in media messaging that makes false claims about cause and effect when it comes to happiness. Ever seen an advertisement with unhappy people using the product being spruiked?

And it is more than media, it has become, as Michael says earlier in his piece, axiomatic. "The underlying assumption is that happiness is a goal so unimpeachable as to be pre-eminent." 

But shifting the focus from happiness to contentment raises another parallel set of questions. What does it take to be content? I have thought a bit about this before and included some comments in my personal manifesto which I wrote a little while back. Jump straight to page 39 to read the contentment bit if you are interested.

But Michael pushes it further, suggesting that some people's commitment to meaning and purpose (as in the case of Foster's) actually increases un-happiness. Very few of us get to meander through life free of deep pain, uncertainty and injustice. And for some of us it defines our lot.

I am far from having my journey defined by pain and suffering, so am hesitant to presume to appreciate the grind of those who's daily experience is tough going. But in our own struggles I am learning the discipline of contentment and think that Michael's call is a profoundly important one. Of course if we all practiced contentment rather than pursued happiness our economy might suffer a tad. And we might become better at counting the blessing we do have, rather than spending most of our energy in denial of our imperfect lives.

My dad used to (and probably still does) favour an old hymn which has a recurring refrain, "Count your blessings, name them one by one ..." A good place to start.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

the purpose mirage

I read something last week that just went 'boom' in my consciousness. I had fetched the 'Permanence' edition of the Alpine Review from my study and put in on the coffee table in the living room so I could browse in the evening. I was in an unexpectant state of mind, filling in some quiet moments alone before bed when the page fell where Gianpiero Petriglieri was musing about leadership, community and digital roaming. To the unsuspecting, it is an apparently benign statement;

"I'll go .. a little against the grain here. Put people before purpose."

Meaning and purpose have become the holy grail in our worlds of privileged. We wonder whether there is more to life than work and play. We won't take jobs that don't offer us meaning. Even our leisure and travel gets infused with 'meaning' to make us feel better. But in that short sentence I think Professor Petriglieri shouts quietly that it is much more simple than we have made it out to be.

It's all about love. Put people first. Make choices that put others before ourselves and abracadabra, purpose smacks us in the face.

Friday, 21 April 2017

expectations: rainy day morning coffee musing

I wore my jacket into the city yesterday and it was a nuisance. I didn't need it for a 25 degree day and ended up lugging it around from appointment to appointment.

I wore my jacket into the city today and it felt good. I pulled the collar up against the breeze and the rain and revelled in the change of season that Easter inevitably ushers in.

Same coat, same city. So many of the emotions that affect our days are about the difference between an expectation and our experience. Disappointment, frustration, anger are triggered by the difference between what we expect, plan or anticipate, and an experience of reality that doesn't measure up.

Much to my chagrin, some things are predictably disappointing, yet I maintain a fool's expectation that my hopes will be met. Traffic congestion. Customer service from corporate contact centres. My ability to maintain unbroken months of optimum health & fitness. The speed of change. That people don't agree with me on stuff that matters. :)

So what am I to do? Lowering expectations is a logical response, but flies in the face of my natural optimism. For me it is about the relationship between hope and expectations. A sober assessment of the probability of my hopes being realised facilitates a positive emotion when they are (realised), rather than a negative one when they are not.

... and I guess the other fundamental attribute that allows the maintenance of emotional health is an enacted appreciation of that which is within my control and that which is not. If my train is cancelled and I will be late, there is simply no value in expending emotion on the lateness. Better to harness that energy into seeking to mitigate the implications, which will inevitably mean adjusting someone else's expectation!!!

Monday, 17 April 2017

normal good

Settling in to our new home over Easter ... nice having the family around doing normal good stuff. 
My Padre enamel cup from what used to be our local cafe in Brunswick East, watching #ripcurlpro near our new home.

A new courtyard with new hiding spots for easter eggs, Maria even bluetacked some next to olives on the trees. How old are our kids again?

Rachel on the hunt

Packed into Don to head to Bells. 4 people in the middle seat meant Rachel had to duck down when we spotted a cop car. (Johanna missing - had to work on Saturday. We all ended up with her for food at Kyosk later in the day.)

Our crew watching the action at Winkipop

Maria figured a post-surf hooded towel shot would be fun ...

Aaahhhh ... that stage of life when fabulous food appears on the table without us needing to do anything.

An ordinary scene capturing special normal stuff at the end of the street ... calm, social, beautiful.

... and some hours in the car to visit my parents to finish off the long weekend.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

how not to make an entrance

not me

You know that thing where you want to make a good impression when you meet new people. And you know when instead of creating that good impression something really embarrassing happens that has the opposite effect. Well … that. The story goes like this.

We are new to Barwon Heads and therefore to Talking Heads the great little community zine that arrives in our letterbox once a month. It's been a fabulous way to learn about the community we have chosen to call home and among lots of other things we read about a bunch of people who call themselves the Barwon Heads Cycling Club. Seemed like they had fun riding their bikes.

And then we discovered that some of our neighbours were part of this lycra brigade. Now you’ve got to understand that I’m one of those blokes who swore never to be seen in tights, and I certainly would not be of the kind that took over large sections of cafes while respectable folk tried to pretend they weren’t there.

But then someone loaned me a bike and I found myself peddling along Thirteenth Beach over summer. And then, from deep in his garage my brother-in-law (thanks Gregg) retrieves, dusts off, and offers me his not-likely-to-be-ridden-again treadlie. And another neighbour convinces me to join the morning ride. And so it is with my ‘new bike’ that I finally summon the courage to get out of bed at 5:30 and ride around to the CFA (where every day of the year a group ride leaves at 5.45am) to go on my first ever group ride. I was assured they were nice (mainly) blokes, but I was still a bit apprehensive.

I ride around the back of the group to take my place on the right hand end of the line … except that my new peddles and matching cleats were a bit stiff and instead of gracefully pulling up and introducing myself I overbalance sideways, find myself laying on the concrete with my legs tangled in the bike. I wave sheepishly, ‘G’day guys, I’m Col.” So much for those first impressions. No one laughed, at least out loud. Instead during the ride I got a trickle of anecdotes of how different riders had also ‘done it’.

So here I am, a couple of months in and I find myself waking up early and looking forward to a morning peddle. I still feel a tad awkward clunking around in bike shoes and skin tight kit, but when in Rome …

And it really is a great bunch of people. I’ve started to learn a whole new set of jargon and have been part of serious discussions about how to ride well and what it means to be a community oriented club. I’ve already seen people go out of their way to be there for each other and experienced how morning exercise can be peppered with some meaningful dialogue, even though I tend to be too puffed to talk in more than half sentences.

The first weekend after we moved here we sat next to Cadel in the local cafe. Perhaps it was a sign.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Great Ocean Walk

I am not unfamiliar with the coastline that stretches from Anglesea westward toward Port Campbell. So when Rachel asked if Maria and I would join her on the Great Ocean Walk for a couple of days, I expected it would be mainly about the 'walking'. The Great Ocean Road is of course an icon of Australian tourism, but seeing this particular edge of the country from inside a car or a lookout doesn't compare with feeling and smelling it on foot. It is a truly incredible piece of country.

stayed at Apollo Bay enroute

the lazy Lorne foreshore, hanging on to summer

bonding with Don, the new Pat

Rachel christening some new boots. After the walk she decided to name them Julie and Chris after I suggested they were duly christened. hahaha

setting out from Blanket Bay, feeling fresh

big strides early on day 1

gob smacking break number 1

pretty special rock formation

at the advice of a local we left the track for an hour and navigated the low tide coastline across some amazing rock pools and rockscapes

finally a piece of water to swim in ...

back on the track, looking down to Crayfish Bay

the end of day 1

The koala population has exploded so much on Cape Otway that the Manna Gums are all dying from over grazing. Here's an example.

Hoolly doolly

a regular stop to check blood sugar levels

now that's a beach

part of the long trek along wild Station Beach

hmmm ... not so natural environment

first glimpse of Aire River where we ended our walk ... for this time

Saturday, 28 January 2017

feeling worried

Pinup evil leaders apparently enjoyed popular support. In hindsight we wonder how it is possible because history records the implications their policies. Their power is remembered as a bight on human history.

Today I read about how millions of government dollars were spent over a six month period investigating possible conflicts of interest, even after President Jimmy Carter completely divested interests in the peanut farm where he had grown up with his family. President Trump owns circa 500 companies and now has regulatory influence over banks to which he owes 100s of millions of dollars. But apparently it's OK. Things have changed.

I also happened to read, maybe like you, his 'achievements' in his first week in office. Some are celebrating that he is getting on wth the job. Some are saying we need to 'give him a go' and to 'wait and see'. I just don't get it. This is not about a decent human being wrestling with compromises in the world of political pragmatism. His character has been on blatant display. Smear campaigns and 'dodgy' photos are typically part of democratic political campaigns, but this man doesn't need tricky negative marketing .... he boasts about stuff most people I know would find disgusting. (Not just the racism and sexual assault, but the tax dodging ... )

To be clear, in the list that follows, it's not that he is acting to cut government spending per se, it's that he is decimating many of the ingredients of civil society. And his 'hard line choices regarding some segments of the global community may be popular among some because they play to people's fear ... so did Hitler's.

Should we be worried? I think so. I very think so ...

(or another list via Doug Pollard and Michael Short (The Age)
To recap:
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programs.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Minority Business Development Agency.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Economic Development Administration.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the International Trade Administration.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Legal Services Corporation.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the DOJ.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Fossil Energy.
* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered all regulatory powers of all federal agencies frozen.
* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered the National Parks Service to stop using social media after RTing factual, side by side photos of the crowds for the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations.
* On January 20th, 2017, roughly 230 protestors were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics.
* On January 20th, 2017, a member of the International Workers of the World was shot in the stomach at an anti-fascist protest in Seattle. He remains in critical condition.
* On January 21st, 2017, DT brought a group of 40 cheerleaders to a meeting with the CIA to cheer for him during a speech that consisted almost entirely of framing himself as the victim of dishonest press.
* On January 21st, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference largely to attack the press for accurately reporting the size of attendance at the inaugural festivities, saying that the inauguration had the largest audience of any in history, “period.”
* On January 22nd, 2017, White House advisor Kellyann Conway defended Spicer’s lies as “alternative facts” on national television news.
* On January 22nd, 2017, DT appeared to blow a kiss to director James Comey during a meeting with the FBI, and then opened his arms in a gesture of strange, paternal affection, before hugging him with a pat on the back.
* On January 23rd, 2017, DT reinstated the global gag order, which defunds international organizations that even mention abortion as a medical option.
* On January 23rd, 2017, Spicer said that the US will not tolerate China’s expansion onto islands in the South China Sea, essentially threatening war with China.
* On January 23rd, 2017, DT repeated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing him the popular vote.
* On January 23rd, 2017, it was announced that the man who shot the anti-fascist protester in Seattle was released without charges, despite turning himself in.
* On January 24th, 2017, Spicer reiterated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing DT the popular vote.
* On January 24th, 2017, DT tweeted a picture from his personal Twitter account of a photo he says depicts the crowd at his inauguration and will hang in the White House press room. The photo is curiously dated January 21st, 2017, the day AFTER the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March, the largest inauguration related protest in history.
* On January 24th, 2017, the EPA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to freeze all grants and contracts.
* On January 24th, 2017, the USDA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to stop publishing any papers or research. All communication with the press would also have to be authorized and vetted by the White House.
* On January 24th, 2017, HR7, a bill that would prohibit federal funding not only to abortion service providers, but to any insurance coverage, including Medicaid, that provides abortion coverage, went to the floor of the House for a vote.
* On January 24th, 2017, Director of the Department of Health and Human Service nominee Tom Price characterized federal guidelines on transgender equality as “absurd.”
* On January 24th, 2017, DT ordered the resumption of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the North Dakota state congress considers a bill that would legalize hitting and killing protestors with cars if they are on roadways.
* On January 24th, 2017, it was discovered that police officers had used confiscated cell phones to search the emails and messages of the 230 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges for protesting on January 20th, including lawyers and journalists whose email accounts contain privileged information of clients and sources.
And today: the wall and a ban on Muslims entering from a large number of countries and the end to accepting Syrian refugees

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Launceston weekend

Had a fun weekend ...

Maria has had some family stuff to do and we've made the most of being back in Launie. Dropped in to the Harvest Market for breakfast and enjoyed the familiar smells and ambiance. One of Maria's sisters is renovating, so we picked up crowbars and hammers to help demolish the kitchen. Living in a house reduced to concrete floors and walls and ceilings minus plaster is not for the uncommitted. Respect.

I started today by doing some laps in the pool at the gorge ... swimming in the morning sun in a near empty pool in such an amazing environment is a sweet thing. My shoulder will probably need some Voltaren after a session in the cricket nets with the enthusiastic nephews this morning. I thought an ale on the back verandah and a snooze to follow might help ... tomorrow will tell.

A feast of tennis ...

And I head home with some new wheels. An upgraded Patrol and a Bianchi bike (thanks Gregg).

Port Sorell with Bakers and Badgers Beaches ahead of the mouth of the Tamar.
local food, local music, local weather
Maria chiselling tiles away from the wall
vivid colours