Doing things a little differently.

I have this inbuilt mechanism that demands a default option in everything I do, a set routine if you must. I have a nobrainer option for every eating spot, a nobrainer route to different locations, nobrainer mode in basketball even. It’s easy, decisions are easily made and best of all, it eases up on the dreary chore of having to actually kill a few brain cells in trying to decide every trivial task the moment demands.

But every so often, there comes this slightly irrational and reckless urge to do the exact opposite of what routine demands. To be sure, it does require a fair amount of mental willpower to get started, but when the gears are in motion, the brain is required to process and absorb all the new and unfamiliar stimuli it’s receiving.

Need I say that it’s fun, fun stuff, keeps things interesting in life. The rest of me is a well-trained drone, a decent and largely mindless product of the homeland. I reckon it is this loose mental gear that got me to where I am now though, so hooray to going the opposite tack, against the grain, and for breaking out of the mould.

It is never easy to break the mental conditioning that dictates the steps one should tread in the established tracks, or to listen, obey and execute. It’s never too late to start though, so why give it a try and you might just be surprised there.

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Basketball: Towards new grounds! Part VI

Finally, back to the Sunday night game after skipping out last week – good thing housemoving is finally fixed. That being said, it was a trifle annoying having to drive thirty minutes to the court, when you actually consider the physical distance involved. That being said, I would happily drive further to play the damn game though.

Not much to be said about tonight’s game; it was James’ offense 80%, everyone else 20%. Nick did well on the boards (had a few nasty turnovers), Gary and Danny did good too. Emre as always put the correct perspective into the game, giving the right pep talk. I had two shot attempts, two steals and a block. The rest of the time, quite invisible. And yes, an embarrassing moment in the final seconds of the game, when I tried to block a layup without fouling – hadn’t realised I ended up jumping backwards instead of straight up. Safety first, overly first heh heh.

We lost the game mostly from free throws, and bad turnovers. Things are easily corrected, thankfully enough. The offense still doesn’t seem to be flowing though, it’s sticking in places here and there. And I’m still trying to figure out my place, something that still hasn’t materialised sufficiently yet.

What exactly is my niche? Life as always, is a journey of self-discovery. And I’m still learning about the basketballer bit, day by day.

Big picture, or the details?

This thought has been coming on and off for a while, especially when it comes to work philosophy.

I hear stuff about C-level executives needing to “see the big picture at the high level”, that a grasp of the entire story is needed to make big decisions. Of course, big decisions are never easy, and they often come with multiple factors embedded within. Never an easy choice, when you have to weigh the factors and decide in favour of the one with the most positives. So this rationalisation makes sense, when you think of it this way.

We then come to the bit about being detail-oriented. This fits my view on reality better, because I like to think of big things being made up of little things. If the small tasks are not working properly, it’s unlikely the big machine is going to function efficiently. Fixing things at the root, I call it. Perhaps this is how an engineer’s perspective is like, but I believe it to be the same even if it was from a business perspective. Processes have to be implemented right, unnecessary ones removed so that the business can run with minimum effort for everyone, and not chase paper trails all the time.

There is probably no real right or wrong to this, but I believe good leaders need to be detail-oriented enough to correct problems at the ground level, and set the correct direction at the top at the same time, before the organisation can move forward effectively.

So, which perspective do you take more often?

The tale of Lumo and the meter read, part II

So.

I hadn’t realised a part two was needed, but here it is. I received a bill from Lumo Energy with three very interesting items, all labelled “Re-energisation NMI:XXX”, priced at $18.34 each. You don’t usually get three items looking exactly the same, so I thought it was a billing error initially and talked to Lumo via live chat. And incidentally, Lumo live chat has this annoying tendency of asking if you have called them via the 1300 customer hotline. I guess it hasn’t occurred to them that people use live chat to avoid phone calls.

And during the live chat, it was explained to me that yes, the three charges were correct. I had three requests for meter reading, which equated to three charges. Absolute bollocks to me though, seeing as I did whatever I could to ensure site access (which incidentally, included three days of leave) and I still get billed nonetheless?

Sorry matey, you’re barking up the wrong tree. I requested a callback on this, and rang the 1300 number right off. After a few tries, I managed to get hold of someone basically told me the charges could not be waived, as it was being passed on from Citipower. Well I’m a Lumo Energy customer and not a Citipower customer, so don’t expect me to go raising a complaint against Citipower with the ombudsman, it’s your arse that’s going to be on fire.

And here comes the best bit. I requested to speak to the bloke’s supervisor, who told me that “it was the responsibility of the customer to allow access to the meter”. Ah, so I was expected to stand at the door of my apartment building for the entire day and not go anywhere! Sorry for providing shit service to the contractors folks.

Enlightening.

I reiterated my point about “No waiver = complaint to the ombudsman”. He promised to get someone of higher authority to get a call back to me, so we’ll see how this goes next week. In the meantime, have a good weekend folks and let me hope that this episode ends with reason and not idiocy.

Basketball: The end of Caulfield for now.

And after two great months, Wednesday night basketball has come to a close at last. Weekday basketball is always a little exhausting after a full day’s work, and with housemoving tacked on, fatigue levels have gone to an all-time high. But it’s rare to be able to get an indoor court booking, especially at a convenient location like Caulfield. And for that, I’m pretty thankful.

It’s also been a good time to think about the way I play, and to explore moves that I have not been utilising for a long while. Using what the defense is giving you – very important.

For example, I think my options are the most varied when I get the ball at the high post. I can pass into the paint, shoot right off or drive. Or hand it off to a team mate curling around me, or fake the pass and drive in myself. A lot of options, in short.

Another thing I’m trying to do is to practice my post-up more often. Take the ball, back it in a few steps, turn and shoot a fadeaway jumper. Or pass it in if someone is cutting.

And of course, the staple on the menu has to be maintained, namely the baseline jumper. There was a beautiful one where I ran baseline, got the pass, squared up and shot it over Lester; knew it was going in the moment I released it. Brilliant moment, felt like Ray Allen. Now if only I can do stuff like this at the three line.

A few other deficiencies that I’m trying to correct. The pass into the roll man off the P&R is not exactly very good, it seems like the passes are getting anticipated, especially the lob pass. Plus, the habit of trying to thread the pass needs to be stopped, causing way too many turnovers.

So many things to improve on, so little time. And after August, it’s just gonna get harder and harder.

Sharing a simple poem: Cranky Old Man

I actually dislike the notion of wholesale lifting on articles, but I saw this poem from a Facebook photo, and cannot find the original source; found a plethora of sites similarly quoting this poem though. Happy to credit if one can be found, but until then enjoy this folks.

I like the simplicity of the poem, of how it speaks of a man living a life through the passage of time, marked by the many milestones of life. Staying steadfast, and being himself despite the aging body and its many infirmities creeping up. Asking everyone to look not at the old man, but the individual within. Too often, many of us (including myself) judge people by their exterior, and this poem reminds us of what lies ahead for everyone, that the end is but inevitable.

What else can we do, but face life with a light heart at the very close? If we have but lived a life well-lived, that is all we can ask for.


When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne .. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health.

A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man…..
What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . … . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . … lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . ..my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. …Babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future … . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. …. . ME!!

The magic of libraries.

Read of the day, via boingboing.net

“As a child, many of the books I read and loved came from the local libraries where I lived. I can still remember going into a library for the first time and being amazed — utterly amazed — that I could read any book I wanted and that I could even take some of them home, as long as I promised to give each of them back in time. I learned my love of science and story in libraries.”

A Self-Made Man Looks At How He Made It

The rest of the article is well worth a read, I would really recommend that you look at the original post on John Scalzi’s site; it is a case of social welfare being actually beneficial, as opposed to the much maligned view that social welfare feeds the indolent.

It is the library bit that triggered today’s post however, probably because that paragraph resonated within me. It reminds me of my childhood days when my mum would take me out to the library every week or so.

Back then, each library card holder was allowed to borrow up to two books each visit, so it was a struggle between picking the ones I wanted to bring home, and finishing the ones I could not, or hiding them somewhere for the next visit – that strategy never really worked though. The real breakthrough came about, when card holders were allowed to borrow up to four books per visit – four members in the family, four books per member equalled holy Batman SIXTEEN books! Hauling those books home was hell, but well worth it.

Those idyllic days spent in the peaceful confines of the library, looking through shelves for interesting titles and never knowing what treasures one might find. Magical fantasy tales of knights and magic, robots and spaceships, or even teen sleuths solving mysteries; back in those days, I always had this fantasy about being a kid detective.

I feel lucky to have been born in the pre-Internet age, because that was when my love for reading began. And of course, this lifelong habit did inculcate a moderate sense of the rights and wrongs of English, which has helped immeasurably in daily affairs. And more importantly, it provided a foundation for the thoughts I express here; without these tools it would have been a real challenge turning ideas and views into a structured and coherent form.

Focus
Reading requires that one concentrate on the reading matter at hand. To appreciate the author’s intent, to lose yourself in the world constructed, and to immerse yourself in the beauty of the written word. That focus is sadly, something the informational overload of the Internet is killing, along with the relentless stream of social media, where distractions and multi-tasking is a given, and people comment in blurps, rather than extended and engaged conversations. The ability to read and focus is deteriorating even for myself; I can only imagine how the younger generation is being affected.

Language
Reality is ugly, but we exist in an era of tragic shorthand where “seriously” becomes “srsly”, “you’re” becomes “your” and “lol” transitioned from an acronym, to an actual word that can be pronounced as “lawl”? I’m well and fine with casual conversations being typed in shorthand, and I mangle the language all the time on instant messaging. Couple this with autocorrect however, results in horrible spelling being the norm for the people of today. Convenience and autocorrect, have become crutches against a cultivated discipline on knowing proper spelling. I could be wrong, but I believe reading creates a grasp of right and wrong, an instinct even.

Moral of the story? My kids are going to the library, period. Hopefully they gain a sense of the wonderment I once had, and grow to love reading the way I do.