Robert Godden’s musings and rants

I muse. I rant. This is my outlet!

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Pain is so close to pleasure

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Forgive me, for I have sinned.

It is one year and one week since my last blog.

Back then, the blog went off the rails a bit. We were embarking on a  new venture, and the world seemed full of endless possibilities.

One of the really big possibilities was an economic crash, but back then – a week or so before it really hit – it didn’t seem that real.

One of the others was that some of our carefully researched and checked information was a bit wrong. The problem with any data is that if the observer is not impartial, it can be seen to mean anything.

Big things happened in the world in the last year. Economies melted. Countries ailed. Good people died. Bad people died. Always in the wrong ratio.

I lost a childhood friend who was in his early 40’s. Even though I appreciate that if I lived in Baghdad or Kabul, that might be a daily occurrence; it still feels terribly awful that I never managed to squeeze in a visit to him once we learnt of his illness.

The business we bought; well, that is another tale. In fact, it’s related in an article in The Fordyce Letter, so let’s not bother here.

Still, we live in one of favourite places in the world; and I always remember that if you speak English as a first language, you’re probably in the top 20% wealthiest people in the world! I read that in a book on cooking cheaply way back in my teens.

Anyway, back to the “off the rails” bit. The blog stopped talking about all sorts of stuff and became very personal and less external. Not really what I have envisaged.

But these things evolve.

From here on, this will remain a more personal blog. My blogging activity on issues will move to the blog on http://www.peoplemagic.com.au; where every second blog will be my responsibility.

And here I’ll relate anything I want to comment on. Given that I’ve only ever met one person who’s read this, it’s the least I can do for myself.

The 08/09 financial year has been full of both pleasure and pain for us. The next twelve months will certainly have more of one than the other. It remains to be seen which side of the ledger it falls.

Written by robertgodden

August 5, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Dreamer’s Ball

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Today we – that is, my vastly better half and myself  – registered a new Australian Proprietary Limited Company.

Why? It seems we must be stark raving mad.

After eight years in recruitment, steadily aiming at a general management role, I had two offers on the table – but instead, we’ve bought a restaurant.

Other than being a fair cook and a big fan of Gordon Ramsey, I’m not qualified in the least to run a restaurant. My wife has a similar lack of restaurant experience, and our son once worked for Hungry Jacks(that’s Burger King for any non-Australians reading this).

Personally, I’ve lost a third of my body weight in this year. I still have more to go. That’s going to add to the challenge – discipline will be paramount.

So, we have bought a restaurant with a proud history – and it’s a little run down. We’ll be attempting to bring it up to a higher standard of service delivery and earnings.

We’ve got plans; dreams; ambitions. We’ve got ideas. We’re dreamers.

So today, we celebrate the birth of Dreamer’s Ball Pty Ltd.

Written by robertgodden

July 28, 2008 at 7:11 am

Posted in Business, Family

Life is Real

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I write this blog; a column on careerone.com.au; a few articles here and there on sites such as ERE, press releases and news stories for my main employer; all the content for four websites; I have one book published and three more on the drawing board.

In other words, I write a lot. In fact, I also talk a lot. Communication of ideas and concepts is really what I do.

But we have a problem.

Lately, I’ve found that actions speak louder than words. Try losing over 40 kilos (90 pounds for my US friends) and it becomes the opening conversational gambit for everyone you know when you see them. That’s if they recognise you in the street.

Whilst I never tire of the compliments, it does start the conversation down familiar paths. And inevitably; that path is advice.

Yes advice: I’m full of it. How to get around to finishing that book you’ve been writing for years. How to lose a massive amount of weight. How to harness social networking and fulfil your destiny!

You expect to get asked for advice when speaking at conferences etc. After all, you’re there as an expert. And ditto: columns and news stories have advice running through them. So I write; speak and generally impart a lot of advice.

Or do I? Is it really worthwhile when people don’t actually listen. I pretty sure many of them don’t. How am I to know if they do or not?

With real life and most of my work becoming a full-time advice dispenser; what about the other sides of my life. The beauty of this blog; and Twitter.com; is that they are my outlets for emotion, not really advice.

OK, so I still pontificate on this blog. That’s me. But it’s stuff I feel passionate about.

At the moment there are a few things in my life that occupy a lot of my thoughts. Given the lack of nourishment that intensive dieting offers; perhaps I have less thoughts as well.

It amazing that I appear to transitioning to the web. The things that affect me the most are private issues that will not make it to this blog. They dominate my conversation with my nearest and dearest. So, they get endless repetitions of the same theme; my 312 satisfied blog readers get passion and interest; my twitter Friends get the benefit of my rapier-like wit and my column readers get as much advice as they can eat for $0.

In The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie, there’s a painter who disappears into his own painting; he ceases to exist in real life. Sometimes I feel that I’m slowly becoming a net persona and that this is a substitute for real life.

Someone asked me where I lived the other day and I replied “LinkedIn”. True, we had been discussing social media; and I was being funny.

The difference between disappearing into the web, and say, falling down a rabbit hole to a magical kingdom, is that the former is more subtle: because you feel you can pop back anytime from the web. But try going on holiday and not being on-line. I’m nowhere near a full-time web junkie, but I do feel the need for web-ether running through my veins after just a day or so.

Yet I’m reasonably interesting in real life and I quite enjoy it. Why does the web have this attraction? Perhaps a blog is simply a conversation where I’m never interrupted: the ultimate soliloquy.

Or perhaps I’m like a late night talk DJ who’s never sure if anyone is out there, I hope for callers – or comments, as it is on this blog.

Attack me or flatter me; disagree with me or proclaim my spot-on-brother-ness; just don’t ignore me.

Because I wonder what happened to the painter, when people stopped looking at the painting? 

 

 

Written by robertgodden

June 16, 2008 at 7:07 am

Posted in Family, Musings, society

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Teo Torriatte (Let us cling together)

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Yesterday, I was feeling that the world was inching toward becoming a better place.

True, there are wars, and an end to war is a dream that many of us share.

True, a long-lost friend of mine is dying of a very nasty cancer. And an end to cancer is a dream many of us also share.

But for me, the dream of everyone being just that bit nicer is the big one. Because as the Paul Kelly song goes; “From little things, big things grow”.

The reason for my optimism is that yesterday, the Adelaide Advertiser ran a column of a friend of mine.

Sidebar: How many people know that my home town is responsible for the Murdoch Empire? Sir Keith Murdoch started it all here with the Adelaide News. News Limited went on to buy its much older rival, The Advertiser, and the rest is tabloid history. Not that I’d ever bag News Ltd. For starters, I write a column for them. And secondly, I’m a close personal friend of a whole bunch of people there, though sadly not Rupert!

As is often my wont, I digress. So back on topic:

Monica Magann’s column yesterday spoke about the power of nice. I’ll encourage her to put it on line. It was just lovely. It was, well, nice! I really felt that her quiet conviction sold the benefits.

 It’s not that every bully boss out there is going to suddenly become nice, but it is the start of a movement where people refuse to accept anything but nice.

But this morning, the world bought me back with a thump.

Autism is challenging. When I wrote the short story “Angels Like Water“, which I’m currently turning into a full length novel, I did a small amount of research. And there’s a lot to know. And a lot we don’t know. 

I’ve seen first hand the difficulty of handling a child with Asperger’s Syndrome; as one of the boys in a football team I coached suffered from it. And to be honest, everybody around suffered a bit as well.

But taking issue with someone who cannot control this condition is pretty low. When it’s a supposed adult abusing a child, then it’s far worse.

In Florida, a teacher organised a kangaroo court to evict 5-year-old Alex Barton from his classroom. In a 14-2 vote, held after the teacher asked every classmate to pillory Alex publicly, Alex was removed from the classroom. Democracy at work?

Sidebar: Democracy was not invented by happy Greeks in robes discussing philosophy as the world imagines. Cleisthenes, desperate to cling to power in Athens, proposed it one day and startlingly won the backing of the people. Whilst it has been idealised and very successfully implemented for good, it is not possible to interchange the words “good” and “democratic”. In a speech Winston Churchill said “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”.

So, this is a teacher who has not only abused a child, but has systematically, callously and heinously invested other children into the process. “Here’s an example of how we can kick the weak, children. Learn, well, because you may be able to fight your way to a position of power, where you’ll need those skills.”

Don’t forget, democracy gave Germany Hitler. The problem with democracy is that it only works if one is in a position to judge motivation.

What’s the motivation here? I mean, currently the most notorious example of enforcing democracy – US policy in Iraq and Afghanistan – arguably for oil, or prestige, or to fix Daddy’s little problem – still has underlying it, a passionate belief that the citizens of those countries will be better off with democracy. The vast majority of policy writers, of soldiers, of diplomats, of Presidential lackeys surely at heart believe that they are helping to restore and rebuild countries with a significant place in the history of this planet. I have to believe this to be true. I can’t comprehend the magnitude of any other motivation.

But this teacher’s motivation could be spite or sheer laziness. I’ll break for half an hour to think of others…

Back from half an hour. Still nothing!

Enlisting democracy for evil ends is nothing new. Using it to revile a child does hit a new low.

Clearly this teacher should never, ever teach again. Give them a mop and bucket, or teach them to pick fruit, I don’t care, but this is a person who has forfeited the right to ever supervise another human being, let alone a classroom of children.

No doubt there’ll be a lawsuit. Good! If a bloody big settlement is the only punishment meted out; then at least it’s something.

The Advertiser article I referred to suggests that nice begets nice, and I think that’s right. But the converse is true, and this nasty, reprehensible act on the other side of the globe has led me to my bitterest side and this rant.

I promise I’ll be nice tomorrow.

PS: On Dave Mendoza’s site, you can read the full stoty and email the school to tell them what you think: http://sixdegreesfromdave.com/2008/05/30/support-5-year-old-alex-barton-email-campaign-to-confront-discrimination

Written by robertgodden

June 1, 2008 at 10:07 am

Friends will be Friends

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With a LinkedIn network that has grown over 1000% in about a month, it was time to test out these new-found friends. Are they the sort of friends who will willingly spend upward of a minute and a half helping me?  To paraphrase Roger Waters, I decided to “test the water of their friendship with my toe”, Besides, I really needed some help.

The last post to this blog “We Apologise for this Break in Transmission” outlines a request for help and it was sent to 200 LinkedIn contacts that I selected on the basis of likely expertise.

Even though I sent it Sunday morning and write this on a Monday morning, replies have come pouring in. My favourite so far – sent just a few minutes after I sent the question:

Robert, I don’t think you’re there yet.  1) spell check!   2) clearly show the value that you’re offering (letter sounds like just a sales pitch for the book) 3) proof read this!  4) from what perspective are you coming from?  sounds a bit too familiar in tone to be promoting professionalism.  5) hang in there.

I love this reply because, though succinct, it shows that some guy somewhere took the time to read my email, read the blog and then reply. In particular, I was heartened by item 5. What a nice touch. I’ll try to make my answers more encouraging from now on.

Because I believe that you have to give as well as receive, for every answer I receive, I’ll go to LinkedIn answers and find a question to answer – that’s being the Person 2.0 I wish to be.

So, thinking about the whole concept of networks and on-line friends, I can’t help but think back about three years, when my then 16-year-old was always talking on-line to people he had never met in person.

He was of the opinion that because they had all been introduced by mutual friends, and that had likewise happened before;  somewhere in the chain was someone he knew in the real world, and therefore this was OK. As his parents, we where very concerned about the fact that every Goth, Emo or vampire (not as many, but enough) in Adelaide was talking to our son about God knows what. He was even starting to listen to my CD’s by The Cure and Pink Floyd for God sake; a sure sign of a descent into madness.

I’ve actually met a bunch of these people since, and though terribly earnest, philosophical and in some cases not terribly in tune with personal hygiene; they an alright bunch of kids. They’re not exactly rabble-raisers – they’re more likely to spend Friday evening arguing philosophy over cigars and scotch (you can thank Boston Legal for that).

For me the point is that you can sharpen an on-line instinct like you can in the flesh. You won’t pick every bad apple; but you’ll have a reasonable handle on those who aren’t rowing in the same direction as you.

I’ve recently become enchanted with Twitter; and some of my on-line contacts such as TalentSynch and InfoSourcer are proving to be incredibly generous with their pearls of 140-character wisdom.

It’s now the age where the “loner” tag can be thrown off. Those of us a little different who don’t make friends easily in social scenes can add a whole new dimension to our lives in the glow of the LCD screen.

Written by robertgodden

May 19, 2008 at 6:52 am

Posted in Business, Family, Musings

Tagged with