Thursday, July 31, 2008

How To Make Unknown Quantities into Known Quantities?

Recently I posted a blog that asked, “Are People Really Racist Or Just Scared Of The Unknown Quantity?” To which I received a couple of rather different responses. Here I will share the first and later, in another post, will share the other. Both add interesting insights into a very complex matter, that I can only touch on in my blogs, so thanks to all for your input into my thoughts and blogs.

Anyway here is the first and I quote, “Hi Walter, Well I think I am in a position to comment on your little article and I have to agree with you because most people no matter who or what they are, turn out to be just like us in most respects. As you can imagine I have a lot to do with Chinese people and find them to be extremely nice people, (of course the fact that they are Christians helps a lot) but generally speaking they are terrific.

I will give you a better example. Years ago when I was working for an English company here in Melbourne, we had a young German fellow start work with us. He was very reserved and everybody said he was a hard-nosed Kraut. I actually went out of my way to befriend him and used to go and sit with him for lunch. He turned out to be an extremely nice, but sensitive young man. He was frightened that being in an English company he would be looked down on by the other workers, (a hang over from WWII) and hence the reason for his withdrawal from the rest. We are still friends to this day but unfortunately I seldom see or hear from him because he bought a farm up near Wangaratta and he is kept very busy.

If I had not taken the trouble to make the first move and let him know that he could be my friend, he would probably have gone on being lonely and dissatisfied with his job, but he blossomed and became a good worker for the company. ****”

This is just a reminder that a person’s actions and motivations, may not necessarily be the same as we judge them and like this German, instead of being proud or arrogant and just another hard nosed "Kraut", was in fact a rather timid, shy and intimidated person and was only withdrawing into his shell as a form of protection and self-preservation.

That is not to say that one won’t occasionally come across some genuine hard-nosed “Krauts” of all races and nationalities, but that we should always judge each person individually and not collectively. And also that we should always do our best to get to know the true “Inner” person before we do judge too. What say you”? Either to my friend or to me?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Croydon Market now and then.

Recently a friend and I got talking about Croydon Market and how it has changed over the years. So much so that it can hardly rightly claim to even be called a market any more, in my humble opinion.

Although it has been going for a long, long time, my memories of Croydon Market only go back to 1962, and specifically after the 62 January Bush fires, when a mate of dad's had some Sheep but no sheep dog, so I as a recently turned 11 year-old, often became his sheep dog and loved it. And as a perk, got to go to Croydon Market every Monday I had off from school for many years. Yes it was a whole different world back then. They had roughly 3 main Auctions going almost at once, as well as other more permanent stalls and such. Firstly there was the Junk auction; where all sorts of stuff, from tools to real junk was auctioned off. Then there was the poultry section; which also included pets such as dogs/pups, ferrets, guinea pigs etc. And finally the larger livestock action: such as pigs, sheep, cattle and even a few horses. A real fun place for a wide-eyed country boy to be, I can tell you.

Later, in the late 70's, when I had a home of my own and my own Chooks, I also used to go to the market and buy and sell chooks, and some Pheasants that I had hatched from eggs obtained from one of my Aunts. As well as some pigeons I had at one stage, (which I think most if not all, except the few I bred form captured stock, all came from the Alpha Laval factory over at Reservoir where I worked for a brief time before going to Safeway's Fruit and veggie departments).

However even in the late 70's, Croydon Market wasn't a patch on what it was in my earlier years as, apart from the Junk and Poultry sections; little other livestock was being sold there then and the face of the place was already changing as stalls and business started moving elsewhere.

Of course even what was there in the 70s & 80’s is long gone now and apart from a bit of Junk sold at auction on Mondays, it is just another Flea market on Sunday and Mondays and a car park the rest of the week for the small shopping centre now built on its former site, which also bears the name (But little else) of the original Croydon Market. Such is progress, I guess!

However what is true for Croydon Market, is also true for most things of our youth isn’t it? Very few things ever stay the same, do they? So how do we handle those changes? Moan and groan and complain over them? Or just get on with life and accept the changes and move on with our lives?

What about you today as you face a constantly changing world? Do you moan and groan and complain about it too? Or do you just get on with life, accept and adjust and live with these changes and live a happy and productive Life in the present ? Remember, much of a happy and successful life, is not in what is dealt out to you, but in how you respond to that which is dealt out to you!

Just to close, when life hands you lemons, do you moan and groan and put on a sour face? Or do you go out and make lemonade out of what life gives you? Again what say you?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It is all in how YOU handle things.

Although as a Christian I do not for one second believe the depiction of Heaven and Hell as depicted in the following e-mail I recently received is anywhere near true, I do like the mind set behind this e-mail in that it shows that everything we come across in life, has its good side and it is bad side and it is how we respond to it that determines whether we see it as good or bad. Well that's how I see it. How do you see the following tale?
”A Holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, 'Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.'
The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water.
The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful. But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, 'You have seen Hell.'
They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew, which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.
The holy man said, 'I don't understand.' It is simple,' said the Lord. 'It requires but one skill. You see they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.'
Again whilst I totally reject this pictureation of both heaven and Hell, I do acknowledge that we can make things easier or harder on ourselves in this life, depending on how we look at things.

If we, like the first group are always looking after ourselves first, then we are often going to find ourselves suffering for it, too, just like the first group.

However if we accept that no man (or women) is an island and that we both need each other and need to look after each other, then we will nearly always do far better that if we try and do things on our own. What say you? Forget about heaven and Hell for a moment and think about the here and now and whether you are making this life easier or harder, both for yourself and for others, through your greed or generosity in regard to other fellow life travellers? Over to you for now for your say.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Six Doctors?

Recently received an e-mail with a nursery rhyme in it. I have no idea where it is from, or who wrote it and I have never come across it before even though it is obviously old, I but thought it worth sharing with you. So here it is.

The Six Doctors”
"The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they'll ease
Your will they'll mend
And charge you not a shilling"

- Nursery rhyme –

Again a simple little ditty with a simple but profound message to teach our children too, isn’t it? Yes, a simple little message but has it ever got through to you? How often do you really and truly visit these six doctors?

Are you getting enough sunshine, Hydration, real rest and real fresh air? Are you exercising and eating right? I will leave you to answer that as honestly as you can, but it is funny isn’t it, that if most of us, were to visit these 6 doctors and regularly too, we would not have to visit other doctors half as much would we?

So what about you today? Are you going to take the advice of this little ditty and visit these 6 doctors and regularly too? If you do you will truly be the better for it. What say you? I will leave it with you now as I am off now to visit Doctor E, with a walk to the Shops! Yes, which Doctor or Doctors, are you going to visit today?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sand In Everything.

Another item inspired by For Better or For Worse by Lynn Johnston. This one has 7 frames of a little boy playing in a sand pit and getting sand absolutely everywhere, with the final frame of His mother washing him saying, “How can so little sand get into so many places?”

Ever noticed how laziness and bad habits are like sand in a sand box? They look like harmless fun and are quite enjoyable at the time, but like the sand, they often find there way into places you just don’t want them to be and just like the sand in your hair and clothes, takes a lot of time and effort to get rid of them later so that they don’t interfere with the rest of our living, don’t they?

A little fun and a little sand is not necessarily a bad thing but we do all have to be careful that we don’t overdo it don’t we, and ruin many other good things that just don’t work with “sand” in them?

Sand in the right time and place is fine, but please don’t overdo the sand usage and get it everywhere and particularly in places where it will cause extreme damage. Over to you now while I go and get my bucket and spade!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

When Is A Bribe Not A Bribe, But A Reward?

I know that if you are anything like me, you will look down rather strongly upon Bribe giving, but a recent cartoon has made me reflect upon that black and white view and left me asking, when is a Bribe a bribe and not a just and reasonable reward, for a job well done?

In the comic strip For Better Or For Worse, by Lynn Johnston, there is a scene of plans for a wedding, with discussions about the flower girls, with the Bride to be, saying to one of the flower girls, “And if you are really, really good … I’ll have a very special gift for you when the wedding is over.” To which the groom to be, replies, “Her comes the Bribe!!!”

Which made me think about the whole bribes and rewards thing, a whole lot more carefully. I mean that if we are totally honest, all rewards when offered before the event, are bribes aren’t they?

I have no real answer to give you on this thought other than to encourage each one of us to carefully consider how we reward people for a job well done rather than Bribe them to do that job in the first place. What are your thoughts on the subject?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Being Nagged At, Is A Sign of Being Accepted.

Some people have funny ways of showing that they have accepted you into their own little group don’t they? Some of these ways are good and some not so good.

When we were working with the Xhosa people in Transkei, at first we were treated with great respect, even reverence, (which was actually quite unnerving, and we were very glad when it finished) but after a while we started getting treated just like them and left to fend for ourselves just like them. And it was only then that the penny dropped and I realised that they had stopped seeing us a guests and were now seeing us as family and just treating us as they would each other normally.

Yet that is only one way of being accepted into a family. Lynne Johnson revealed a slightly different form of this acceptance into the family in a recent Comic strip.

There the bride to be is in the supermarket with Her FiancĂ©’s little girl who is begging for every thing she sees: from Sugar cereal, candy and toys. All to no avail and she is shown as pleading, “PLEASE, please, PLEASE, please, PLEASE, please, please?!!!” To which the lady says to her fiancĂ©, “I’ve been accepted by your daughter, Anthony… She’s started to NAG me!”

So being treated like everyone else and even being nagged at are both clear signs of being accepted by others. Sometimes, like being nagged at, we might prefer their acceptance to be shown in a nicer way, but at least we are being accepted and not kept at a distance, as not belonging.

How about with you now? What are some of the ways you have been shown acceptance into other’s lives and you in turn, have welcomed others into your own little world, to otherwise outsiders, thrust into it? Your views please?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Do You Really Condone Even When You Condemn?

Another item inspired by the comic strip, “For Better or For Worse” by Lynn Johnston.

In this one, a young boy proudly hands his mother a bunch of pretty flowers. She then asks him where he got them from. To which he replies, “Well, I sort of …er … got them from Mrs Baird’s place.” To which mum replies, “You can’t go taking flowers from people’s gardens, honey – it’s very wrong. – You must NEVER do it again.” Sound advice I am sure you agree? However she spoils this admonition in the last panel by saying, “… But if you do – try and leave on the stem.”

Whilst I agree with her that longer stems make it easier to keep cut flowers in vases, one does have to be careful not to give mixed messages, whether to children or too adults. Whether with short or long stems, it is still wrong to take other people’s property without permission, isn’t it?

I do realize that in many ways taking someone else’s flowers without permission may be a minor thing to some (but not if you grew them and they were the only ones you got,) but by encouraging it, even if only slightly, it is also teaching the wrong message isn’t it?

Forgetting flowers for the moment is there something else in your life currently, that you, outwardly perhaps, condemn but also passively condone if not actively encourage? What say you?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Who Is Making The Rod For Your Own Back?

Another item inspired by the comic strip, “For Better or For Worse” by Lynn Johnston.

In this, the women of the house is doing the housework and saying, “ If women resent their position, they only have themselves to blame. If men were only taught as boys to do things for themselves – this problem wouldn’t exist …” At this point her 6 to 8 year old son comes in and asks, “Hey, mom.. Could you get me a glass of Milk?”

After her previous outburst they would seem fighting words, wouldn’t you think? But no she answers with, “Sure, Mike … as soon as I get your room cleaned up.”

Funny hey? But how many of us are like that? We fuss and complain about our present situation; but then either don’t follow through with the right action or as in some cases that I have seen, actually refuse the help when offered, only to complain later that no one helps around the place.

What about you? Are you making a rod for your own back like the mum above, by not setting some reasonable and responsible boundaries, and then sticking to them? What say you?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Do You Really Know What You Are Doing, When You Say You Do?

I ask this question in light of the following story I received in reply to one of my Blogs. This is the story as related to me:

Hi Walter: A little story that perhaps has some relevance to what you wrote. Some years back I worked for a man and he was walking past Melford Motors when they were in the Victoria Market end of Elizabeth St in the city. He stopped and saw in the window this gigantic great Ford Fairlane. It was around the very early sixties and most people would remember these cars as juggernauts. However, he fell in love with this car and decided he had to have it. Being not strapped for cash he went into the showroom and said to the salesman, "I have to have that car." The salesman said. "Okay but you'll have to wait until we get some more stock because that is the only one we have." He used to walk past the place often and stand there drooling like a kid looking in a lolly shop window just to make certain that 'his' car was still there.

Finally the day arrived when they rang him to say that he could come and pick up his car. At this point I should tell you that he was driving a Morris Minor. Not much difference to the Fairlane!!!! At any rate the salesman asked him if he had ever driven an automatic and of course he hadn't. They let him drive it around the block a few times and then he said he was okay. He started from Melford Motors and did a U-turn in Elizabeth Street and went down the service lane heading towards Victoria Street where he wished to make a left turn. When he arrived there the lights were against him as a Tram was turning from Elizabeth St into Victoria St. As the tram was passing in front of him he thought that the motor had stopped because he couldn't hear it. He blipped the throttle, (and yes you guessed it) he ran his brand new car straight into the side of the tram and that made quite a mess of it.

He arrived back at work less his new toy and with a very pained look on his face. It just goes to show how we can get caught up in something that is strictly material and how we can get chopped down very quickly. ****”

Has anything like that ever happened to you? A time where your pride or arrogance or self-confidence, has actually exceeded your real understanding? This man was lucky in that he only wiped out his car and not himself or someone on the tram.

There is nothing whatsoever wrong in being confident, nor in doing something new. But perhaps he would have been smarter to drive His new car around the suburbs first, to get a real feal for it before tackling the big city itself.

What about you? Don’t let this blog scare you off of doing something new or different but do practise it quietly first before you start to acting like a professional. What say you now?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chums, New- Chums and Chummage.

I am supposing that most of you know what the first two words mean but that you do not know what the third means nor that the first two originated from the third? Well, although they all come from the one word, and I hope that we are all chums, even if no longer new chums, I really do trust that we never meet in any Chummage ever. If you don’t know what the Chummage was, maybe you need to read a bit more of Charles Dickens works to remedy that lack of knowledge.

Before I tell you about the Chummage, let’s have a little bit of British history first, and talk about the Marshalsea. The Marshalsea was a debtor’s Prison in London. The original prison stood for over 500 years but the second one, for only 38 years before being closed in 1849. As hinted above, it is largely remembered these days because Charles Dickens father spent 3 months there in 1824 and the prison is referred to in at least 3 of his (Charles) writings. (Little Dorrit, David Copperfield & The Pickwick Papers.)

One of the buildings in the Marshalsea was called the Chummage. It was there that the new prisoners first entered the prison system, and when they did so, the new prisoners were each given a "chum ticket," which told them which room was theirs. The lucky ones arrived when a room was vacant, but most were expected to "chum" with other prisoners, thus becoming the new-chum there.

Fortunately Chummages no longer exist, although many of us may feel we are trapped inside debtor’s prisons with all the costs of living hanging over us. Yes, although Chummages no longer exist, there are always new-chums entering into our lives and occupations that we can be real chums too, aren’t there? Again, there is no need of a chum’s ticket these days, but again all of us could do with a chum from time to time, can’t we. And at other times, we can, in our own turn, be a real chum to a new chum too, can't we? What say you, chum?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Indonesian 3-point plan to eradicate Beggars.

Beggars are a worldwide problem, just more prevalent in some places than in others. In the Transkei (region part of South Africa) where we were, beggars were very prevalent. Very early in the piece we came up with the policy of not giving money where it could be avoided but always help them if we could. So when they asked for money for food, we would buy that food. In the literally hundreds of times we answered the requests for food, I only remember 3 times when the recipient of our food giving, actually acted as if they were really hungry, and ate the food there and then. Despite specifically asking for money for specific food and then having that specific request met, most still wanted money instead.

Anyway I digress; but because of our south African experiences, I was interested in a small item in the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper on July 8, where they reported that “residents in an Indonesian city who give into guilt and could face three months in jail under a law criminalizing giving money to beggars and street children.

This new regulation was approved the previous month in Makassar, Southern Sulawesi and aimed at reducing the city’s swelling population of beggars.

If the law just stopped there, I don’t believe it would work, but they have not stopped there. As well as fining or arresting those who give, they are also fining and arresting those who beg, and the crackdown has been matched by a program to train beggars for work, so that eventually they may be able to get a job other than begging.

I say get a job other than begging because it has been my experience that many of these beggars and street kids are not genuine beggars, but people who make a living out of it.

So I believe this 3 point plan of hitting the beggars who beg and the givers who give, whilst at the same time trying to make the genuine unemployed valuable workers, has a good chance of working where a single approach program would not have worked.

How about with you? Is there something that you have been trying to achieve with a single prong approach, but need to consider more prongs to tackle each part of the program from all the different sides? What say you to looking at a new or maybe only better approach? Over to you for reflection now.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Do you pick your fights wisely?

In reply to an earlier blog Your Say: On Humour Verses Violence. 1, which was in its turn a reply to my earlier blog, “Humour Verses Violence: Your Say?”, I received the following comment from my friend Lynx: “You are right, it comes down to picking your "fights" wisely. You can't pick a fight that you're going to lose, only to lose and then retaliate. Perhaps someday we'll all get to that point. Some days it's just smarter to keep your mouth shut for a moment. Laughter really is the best medicine, both for illness and anger. I just don't see it happening anytime soon on a global scale. That's why everything starts locally. Laughter is contagious yanno!”

Again Lynx is one hundred per cent Spot On. Whilst there are a few battles that can never be won, there are some, even many, that can be won and only won, by using a different approach to all those that have been tried and failed before. After all it has been said that you catch more flies with Honey as your bait than by using Vinegar.

So how are you battling on now? Are you still using bullets and vinegar and getting nowhere?

Maybe it is time you used a different type of bait to win your battles? Maybe humour, or even honey, is not the full ammunition but they are a start and often good starts at that. Remember, one often needs to replace hostility and hatred for recognition and respect, before anything will ever be achieved of lasting benefit. I guess the only question to ask now, are you prepared to make that change starting now?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Deck chair fools and their Balloons

Read in the Melbourne Herald Sun Newspaper on July 8 of a guy, armed with a B B Gun who had flown 320 kms across Idaho in America on his lawn chair, held aloft by 150 helium balloons. His flight lasted 9 hours before he used his trusty BB Gun to deflate the balloons and successfully land. According to Kent Couch it was great, he said, “If I had the time and money and people, I’d do this every week.

Yes for Kent it was a bit of fun and a lark, but for Father Adelir de Carli of Brazil, it wasn’t so funny. He took off in Brazil 3 months previously but was blown out over the Ocean and his body was only found on July 7th. Both men were apparently inspired by a guy called “Lawnchair Larry" Walters who did something similar in 1982.

Stupid don’t you think? But are we any different, really? How often are we led into imitating others into doing something potentially dangerous or just stupid by the successful behaviour of others? Or even how often do we encourage or inspire others to do equally stupid things? Things that one or two might do successfully but things that otherwise have dangerous consequences for others, like with this deckchair stunt? Things that others, either don’t have our expertise or luck in, and end up being completely blown off course to their destruction. What say you? Will you be more careful in future? Both about examples you follow and also examples you set?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What are you practising Hard at?

Another item inspired by the comic strip, “For Better or For Worse” by Lynn Johnston. In this one, the young boy is drinking a fizzy drink and burping loudly, only to have his mother tell him, “You are not make those disgusting noises! I don’t want to hear them again … do you understand?” He then goes off and complains to his friend, “ Gosh Lawrence -how can a guy get good at something if they don’t let you practise?”

Whilst he does make a very valid point in that if we want to get good at something, then we do need to practise don’t we? However, like us often, he has chosen a subject that there really isn’t much genuine public demand for, is there. Thus he is not only practising the wrong thing but a thing that has no real future nor will it lead him to any real success.

So what about you? Are you practising hard at something but also not getting anywhere fast? Maybe just maybe, you need to take stock of what you are doing and where it is, or is not, leading too? Maybe you will need to not only quit practising it but also to look for something more productive that you also love doing and work on practising that? What say you?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Do You play in Wet Cement & Then wonder how you were caught?

Another item inspired by the comic strip, “For Better or For Worse” by Lynn Johnston.

In this one the father returns to his fresh concrete pathing work, only to find that while he was briefly away, his young son had been playing in the wet concrete on the path leaving both his hand prints and his initials in it. In the final scene you see him taking his young son and marching him towards the house with the boy wailing, “How did you know it was Me?

I wonder how many of us are like this little boy in that we quite clearly leave an indelible and identifying reminder of our presence behind us and then wonder how we were caught out?

Whether we know it or not, all of us leave a reminder of our presence behind us. Sometimes a good one but often not one that we really want to be reminded off too. So today’s thought is what kind of impression are you leaving behind? A good one or a bad one?

And is it one that can be smoothed over while the cement is wet, or is it going to be left there for as long as the concrete lasts? If so wouldn’t you rather leave a good impression rather than a bad one? Something for you to think on, hey?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Past occupation – Always The Junior!

Recently received an e-mail from a friend with a crappy job, who always seems to get the crappiest parts of that job into the bargain, being the last employed there. I could sympathize well with her, as I too have been through that, as I think most of us have too!

Anyway, back, way back and in the last century too, in the early 1980's, I worked in a couple of major Supermarket Chains in their (fruit and Veggie) Produce sections, and even then, although in my early 30's, I was usually the youngest in our department and so when things were quiet, I was the one who got shifted around to other jobs in the supermarket, including the cleaning. Not one of my favourite jobs but one that does have to get done and at least I was working and showing how valuable I was even if only for being versatile.

To me, that seems to be the best philosophy when faced with situations we don’t like, but otherwise have little real control over. It may not be pleasant, and we may not want to do it forever, but it is all grist to the mill, and will show you in good steed, if not to your supervisor at least to others who do notice, as I believe it always will, if we stick at it and always give our best. Even and especially when no one is looking!

So, when and not if, but when you find yourself in a similar situation, suck it in, stick it out, put your head down and your tail up and if you can’t sail through it, at least plough through it anyway, and come out stronger and victorious because of it.

If your present job situation is never going to change, by all means look for another one, but in the meantime, keep up the present one until the right one comes along where you will be perfectly happy. (Which by the way, I have never found. With every job I have had, including this one, while I love most of it and wouldn't change it in any hurry, there are aspects that I would rather do with out.) Anyhow that is enough rambling for now. Catch you later: Walter.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Do you carry out your threats?

Another item inspired by the comic strip, “For Better or For Worse” by Lynn Johnston.

In this one the mother says to her son, “If you’re rude to me once more you’ll go to your room for the rest of the day – and no supper!” To which he gives her a loud raspberry, and immediately gets sent packing to his room. Then you see mum lamenting, ”They always make you carry out the treats you wish you hadn’t made.”

Forgetting for the moment that sometimes “drastic Punishment” like this is sometimes needed to get your point across and to stop further misbehaviour that might need stronger correction, I want us to focus on both how careful we are in making threats (or promises), and then on how thorough we are in our follow up on them.

Do we like the mum above, carry through and carry out the prescribed punishment, even if we wished we hadn’t made it? Or do we cave in and make our future words nothing more than empty threats that others can feel safe in ignoring, knowing how soft we were before?

I am not advocating harsh punishments here, but rather advocating that you assess and evaluate each child or Person separately and, knowing what does and doesn’t work for them tailor your disciplinary measures accordingly.

We had/have three Kids (adults now) and each one needed to be disciplined differently, as what worked for one, just didn’t for the others and so for a while it was trail and error until we found out what did and didn’t work for each one. However the important thing we learnt was not what the discipline was but that each child knew that if you made a certain threat, then they also knew that you would carry it out, if they pushed the boundaries after being warned.

So if you feel your warnings are not being obeyed like they should, then you need first to assess your methods of rewards and punishment to fit each separate individual. And then you need to be both economical with your warnings and immediately put them into effect when they are ignored. Done properly and with thought, this disciplinary action should not have to be implemented as often as you would think.

The important thing is to set acceptable boundaries and punishments when broken and then to immediately implement them so that all parties will see that you are serious and all parties will know where they stand. Again, what is said about threats/ punishments also holds true for rewards and promises too. If made they should all be carried out ASAP, when necessary.

What I have said about Children, will in principle, work with adults too. We all need both, Boundaries, and to know that these boundaries are unbreakable. What say you?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Much More to do!

A little while back in my blog, “Deal to be signed to Ban Cluster Bombs.” I mentioned the need to not only verbally agree with certain actions but at times that we also need to stand up and be counted and to actually get actively involved in what we really deem as important.

In response I received this reply: “Hi Walter: I have already signed a petition on this subject and I suspect you might have also because it was most likely you who sent it to me. I agree that it is a little like whistling into the wind but at least we are trying to do something about it. The problem is to get enough people up off their backsides to make these other countries think again about these horrible weapons, (and others) because these are not the only ones that need to be banned. ****

In my reply to him, I replied, ”Actually I couldn’t agree more that we do have to stand up and be counted for, in what we believe in. It is just that in many cases like here, with the Cluster bombs, we need to do more than just verbally agree. If Australia and Britain really want to do something practical to remove this curse on human life, it could do a lot more effective work privately lobbying its allies and trade partners, like China And America. Get these two on side and most (If not Russia) will quickly also fall into line, or be squeezed dry.

So I am not against petitions and agreements as such, but just believe that if we are really serious about a cause then we will have to do more, and often much more, than just give verbal or even written assent. We also need to back these up with words, pressure and all the influence we can muster. Again, I am neither against signing petitions nor against standing up for what is right. It is just that I strongly believe that if we are truly committed to a cause, then we usually have to do more than just sign a peteition or agreement and then pat ourselves on the back thinking we are great and have achieved something when we haven't. “

What is true there about this one particular topic, is also true about many other topics and indeed about most things in our lives. If we really love something we will be fully devoted to it and to not only give it our best words, but to fight for it too.

So in closing, what are some of the things that you have committed yourself to in the past that you were not really committed to? And finally, what are you committed too now that you can truly and fully committed yourself to? And will you? Or will you just talk about it, maybe even sign a petition or two but otherwise leave it to others to fight for it and for you? Over to you now. Not for words but for action please?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Are People Really Racist Or Just Scared Of The Unknown Quantity?

Recently received this comment on the American political front: “I'm starting to realize now that the political season is well underway just how many people around me are racist deep down, though they won't admit it.”

That may or may not be true of America, I really can’t say! However, as an Aussie used to all Aussies being called racist, I wonder if most people being called Racists, are really racists but rather Isolationists with little or no real exposure to “other” people and thus by nature hesitant to accept “other “ people until those “other” people have proved themselves as individuals.

Last year, we went back to a rural New South Wales Town where we had once briefly lived, which, like most of rural Australia, has a bit of a reputation for being racist. While looking through their Daily Paper I came across a half page add for a certain Bank with a promotion for their Loans department of the whole Riverina District, with a largish colour photo of a man of obvious African heritage and an obvious African name to boot. (Ncube may not be as popular as Smith or Jones is here, but it is a common Zulu name in South Africa.)

Yes this bank was proudly; even loudly advertising that Lee Ncube was “Your Local Business Banker”. Now for this type of job, he would have to mingle with many of these local “so-called racists”, and I really could not imagine any Bank appointing him to this task, if they believed he would not get a fair hearing by the local people. It was quite obvious that Mr Ncube worked his way up in the organization and community and earned the trust and respect of the locals.

I have seen this same thing happen many times, in many different situations, where a new chum comes in and has to earn the old timers trust and respect, irregardless of colour or creed.

The problem is that many new comers come into a situation and demand respect and trust where they just have not yet earned it.

I won’t speak for all Aussies here but if you want this Aussie’s trust and respect, no matter what colour or creed you are, you have to earn it first and prove yourself worthy of it. Do that and you will “fit in” anywhere, no matter if in a photo you may look the odd one out!

Well that is my say! What say you?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Too Many E-mails? Or Too Much of A Good Thing to the Expense of other Good Things?

Okay! Right here at the outset I will admit that I spend a fair bit of my time, both working and non-working, on the computer. Mostly however, on Church work or communicating with other people, even if some times, just by forwarding (what I consider) interesting e-mails.

Talking of forwarded e-mails, sometimes I get a lot of them at once and then none for a while. When I get them, I normally judge whether they are worth forwarding or simply deleting after reading. If worth forwarding, I do immediately do so and then delete them, thus keeping my inbox low and manageable. Thus sometimes I forward a lot one day and few at others.

At one time of receiving and forwarding many such e-mails, I received a reply, part of which I copy here. “Hi Walter: It is hard to know which of your emails are too many. There are ones you forward which I enjoy and in fact can use in my congregation's monthly paper. I guess I don't need the very likely theologically accurate ones which you send "because you are my friend and you need to send it on to everyone you know." I am sure you recognise the style.
My real concern is that it would appear that you spend much time in front of your computer. I would like to challenge you to contemplate whether this time is the best way to spend your time and whether it advances Christ's kingdom in Croydon: Best wishes: *** “
There are a few issues there that I would like to address here from this.

1. I really appreciate his honesty and willingness to put himself on the line to help me. So to him and every one else out there reading this, if you think I am wrong anywhere, or in need of some correction somewhere, no matter how minor, please feel free to let me know. Nicely, like this friend of course.

2. Whilst it is undoubtable true that I spend more time on my computer than my friend, it is also true that I also don’t have the same pull of many other outside activities like he does to have to apportion an appropriate larger share my time with either. In a rented house with a well-established garden like we are here, there is not a lot to do there and certainly over the summer it was mostly too hot and dry to do much anyway, so I have more free time than some others.

3. A lot of the time I spend on my computer and an in ordinate amount of time at that, is actually spent working on creating my sermons. This is one aspect of my life that has never changed: the amount of time I need to work on my sermons. Fortunately the Computer and its ability to cut and paste things, does actually save me a lot of time too, but I still do spend a lot of time composing them, so a bit of a break now and then to check e-mails is actually appreciated and is a break to me at least.
4. Also, as we only have a small congregation at the moment and most of them work and as I am out/busy most nights, I use the e-mail system a lot to stay in touch with many, it is almost impossible to visit or even ring mid-week.

Thus, while I do perhaps spend more time on my computer than many others, I don’t believe that I am wasting or misusing most of that time, but rather that I have been able to use it to the maximum of my talents, thus allowing my talents to be maximally used.

Enough about me though! What about you? Are you spending too much time on your computer or even on any one single aspect of your life or occupation? Do you too need a friend to make you query and assess your current performance? If so please let me be that friend and let me humbly ask you whether you are spending too much time on one thing and not enough time on others? And while I am at is let me also ask you what you plan and can do about the result? Over to you for now: Walter

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Are you Generating Anger Or Support?

In my blog Your Say on Humour Verses Violence 2, I posted part of a response from my Musician friend in regards to my earlier Blog, Humour Verses Violence: Your Say?”

Here I would like to respond to a further comment in that same reply where he said, “Like you I think that if the Palestinians did a bit more laughing they might get a lot further but nobody is going to have any sympathy for somebody who bombs innocent civilians.”

Again he makes a very valid point, not just in regard to the Middle east situation, or terrorism in general but also to our everyday lives too. You may not like to agree but he is right when he says, “nobody is going to have any sympathy for somebody who bombs innocent civilians.”

If you want real sympathy and real support you have to earn it with respect and responsibility, not bombs, whether real bombs or simply metaphorical ones.

So, how are you travelling within your own little world right now? Do you think that you are being treated harshly and in need of some sympathy and active support from others around you? Well maybe like the terrorist groups everywhere, you need to stop throwing bombs and start trading civility and respect and see how far that will take you.

Put another way, do you want people to think of you as a Mugabe or a Mandela? One treats his enemies one way and the other treated them with respect and in turn, gained theirs in return, to the point that no one remembers now that he was once a terrorist himself.

So back to you. Are you a Mugabe or a Mandela, and will you give up your violence and bombs to become a Mandela instead of a Mugabe? I have said enough! Over to you now.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Your Say on Humour Verses Violence 2.

In my original blog, Humour Verses Violence: Your Say?” I touched upon the ongoing situation in the Middle East, and received a couple of responses. One was posted as Your Say on Humour Verses Violence 1, and here is the second response. Each tackling a different aspect of a difficult situation.

My Musician friend wrote in part: “Man did you ever get that one right? Yours is the comment that the whole world should listen to because one of the biggest problems that the world faces today is that they have forgotten how to laugh at themselves as well as others.”

My friend brings up an important point that we need to focus on from time to time. That is the need for every single one of us to lighten up from time to time (and in the appropriate places) and to not only stop taking ourselves too seriously, but to also laugh at ourselves when appropriate. Of course you might be that rare exception, that perfect person who never makes a mistake, but I am not and I have found that laughing, when appropriate, is truly the best medicine, even when you have to laugh at yourself.

So what about you? Are you prepared, whilst still being serious and responsible, to take your self just a little les seriously and to laugh at yourself when appropriate? Well, what say you now?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Your Say: On Humour Verses Violence. 1.

In a previous blog, Humour Verses Violence: Your Say?” I touched upon the ongoing situation in the Middle East, and received a couple of responses. One here and one to follow. Each tackling a different aspect of a difficult situation.

My friend Lynx wrote: “I so wish that the Jews and Palestinians could live together in peace, but history has proven that Jews and Muslims do not make good neighbors most of the time. It's not that the people can't get along, it's their militaries and politicians that cannot. There is no clear or simple solution to this, except as you say, except for the violence to end on BOTH sides. The Palestinians have to quit sending suicide bombers and missiles over, and the Jews have to quit retaliating tit for tat. Only once these things happen can peace truly happen, and negotiations for permanent solutions begin. And the US has to get out of the negotiations, as everyone knows we're biased. A more neutral party needs to step in and hold BOTH accountable.”

To which I replied, “Lynx you are so right again, but just right now I can’t see how both sides can live together. The Jews say they are happy to live in peace with everybody who will accept their existence and their boundaries, and the Palestinians refuse to accept either. Until there is an acceptable compromise on both sides, there will never be any winners except the Arms Industries. As for the Americans handing over their place at the negotiating table for someone more neutral, I would agree in principal, but then would struggle to find someone truly neutral to fill their place. It is rather pointless replacing one biased party with another biased party, isn’t it?”

I then concluded with: “I wasn’t really wishing to be drawn into this issue at all, but I saw the message behind the e-mail as being that Humour will get a bigger and longer lasting audience than Violence ever will. And humour will make people a little less tighter, where as violence works the other way, and makes everything harder.”

I would again like to make that same point here, that we all need to Lighten up every where. Not just in the Middle East either, but everywhere we are, and no matter what we are doing or engaged in. We also, as Lynx rightly pointed out, need to stop playing the blame Game and playing tit for tat, because no one will even win that way, as each will always want to have the last whack at the other. So forgetting the real Middle East for the moment, what is “your Middle East” today? And how can you come to terms with your enemy, before you beat each other to death? Something for you to think on I hope?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Almost in the Five Hundred Club, but!

Although I only started with this blog site less more than 2 years ago, the blogs have added up very quickly over that time, haven’t they? Initially I had so many ideas that I was, for a very brief period posting two a day, however I quickly settled down to posting only one a day, and even then, for a few brief periods during this time, have even missed a few weeks here and there. Yet despite that, the number of blogs kept on piling up as I am now beginning to see!

Although only on here less than two years and having missed a few days here and there, this will still be the 494th posted Blog and it won’t be long before I hit the magical 500 mark. In one sense quite an achievement, but actually the 500 mark means little to me other than the surprise that I got there so quickly! (Although my poor kids and regular friends will, think, “Only 500? Feels more like 5,000!”)

Whilst in some ways it is a milestone, it is still only a statistical milestone and one that has no real input or importance in my life, other than perhaps the warning that I might be in danger of running out of original ideas and in danger of getting in a rut, and becoming repetitive and even boring. This once again just shows that in all aspects of life there are limits and restrictions in all that we do, and that we will always need to be constantly re-assessing and re-adjusting all that we do, doesn’t it?

And what about when we make those assessments, what do we do then? Do we continue on as if nothing has changed? Do we fold up completely and stop all together? Or do we adjust and modify and change and go with the times? Personally I believe the last is the best option that is best for me, (even if some of my readers don’t!) But what about you? Where do you go from here?

I believe that all of us should always be constantly re-assessing and adjusting all that we do, but some of us get stuck in ruts don’t we? So! How are you ‘traveling’ at the moment? Even if you are going with the right flow, are you still moving at a pace of your own choosing and in the direction that you are choosing or are you either stuck in a rut, or worse, just being tossed this way and that by the world?

Maybe now is the time for you to just stop for a second or two, to assess your options? There may be even more than you think, just like there may be more options for my blog site that the three that I have noted. It is not that important how many there actually are, but that you find the right one for you. And finding it then put it into action. What say you?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

How to Asses if you are a true friend.

Another Sunday item for you. Recently I received the following in an e-mail titled, ”Wise Words 24/6/08” under the heading, “The importance of relationships.”

“Solid relationships keep us grounded and accountable. If we start to get off course they help keep us on track. So who are the significant people in your life, the ones you spend the most time with, the ones whose opinions really matter to you? These people are your greatest influencers. The question is, how are they influencing you? To know the answer, ask yourself the following questions:

(1) What does he/she bring out of me? Author William Alan Ward remarked, "A true friend knows your weaknesses, but shows you your strengths. Feels your fears, but fortifies your faith. Sees your anxieties, but frees your spirit. Recognises your disabilities, but emphasises your possibilities."

(2) What does he/she think of my future? People tend to become what the most important person in their lives believes they can be. Indeed, that's what our children grow up to be! We embrace the opinions of those we respect.

(3) What does he/she think of my future? Paul tells Timothy, "Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young" (1 Ti 4:12 NLT). Do the most important people in your life understand God's plan for you? Do they help or hinder you?

(4) How does he/she behave toward me in difficult times? The solid relationships in your life are those who are slow to suspect, but quick to trust. Slow to condemn, but quick to justify. Slow to offend, but quick to defend. Slow to expose, but quick to shield. Slow to reprimand, but quick to forbear. Slow to belittle, but quick to appreciate. Slow to demand, but quick to give. Slow to provoke, but quick to help. Slow to resent, but quick to forgive.”

I think this is a great article (otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing it with you now,) but I can’t help but read it in its opposite form. This article has given us some questions to ask when assessing others as friends that can positively influence us. But what about asking ourselves these very same questions in assessing whether we are a positive or negative influence on others first?

So often we look to others to make not only the first move, but also each and every move, don’t we? And maybe just maybe, it is time some of us took the initiative and made that first move, Hey?

Instead of asking, “What does he/she bring out of me?” Let us ask, “What do I bring out of them?

Instead of asking, “What does he/she think of me? Let us ask, ““What do I really think of them?

Instead of asking, “What does he/she think of my future? Let us ask, “What do I think of their future?”

Instead of asking, “How does he/she behave toward me in difficult times? Let us ask, “How do I behave toward them in difficult times?”

When we honestly answer these questions, we will know what sort of friends we really are, won’t we? Before we can honestly assess the friendships of others, we really need to assess our own first don’t we? So my closing query today is, “How good a friend are you really, to your friends?”

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My Different opinions depend on my different perspectives.

I always love getting responses to my blogs, because my blogs usually only offer one side or view of an incident and thus often only express one view of things, and sometimes a one-sided view at that. So I appreciate being reminded that all things usually have more than one side or view and that that view that one takes is often clouded or influenced depending on where you stand personally in relationship to the event. For instance take my recent blog on a traffic control program in Germany (Do We Really Need Traffic Lights At Every Intersection?) In it I was able to express my view in support of that trail, from my own experiences as a Driver in South Africa.

However I received a reply from one of my American friends that made me remember also what it is like to be a pedestrian. She Wrote: “And for people like me that walk most places. Please, if you see someone crossing the street or trying to, let him or her cross if it's safely possible. Don't speed up to get around a pedestrian. It'll only take a moment or two, and both you and the pedestrian will make it safely.”

It made me remember that as a driver I hate Lights and Pedestrian crossings, but as a Pedestrian, and especially when the road is busy, I love them and often couldn’t cross the road without them, so I guess there is a place for everything, even Traffic Lights isn’t there?

So where does that leave us? The real onus here is not just on the lights or the drivers, but also on all of us isn’t it? Drivers and Pedestrians alike, all of us should all do the right thing and at the right time, shouldn’t we? For every driver who “shoots” a light, there is a pedestrian that will cross where they are not supposed to even if near a crossing, isn’t there?

So let’s all stop blaming the other side and all start fully obeying the various laws and regulations properly. After all, most of these laws and regulations only came into being to stop our selfish behaviour in the first place, didn’t they? If someone (us?) hadn’t done certain things originally, there wouldn’t have been a need for a silly law or rule to have come into being in the first place would there?

So instead of each side blaming the other, let us all work together and not only obey the various laws and regulations but also to act in a way towards each other that would make most of the existing rules and regulations obsolete and unneeded.

Well you have heard my say, now what’s yours?

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Centre Of Attention?

Sticking with the comic theme of late, today I would like to look at another favourite comic strip of mine. “Hagar The Horrible” By Chris Browne, as in the herald Sun Newspaper on June 24th.

It has Hagar and Lucky Eddie tied to two stakes in the middle of a vast circle of heavily armed enemies and Lucky Eddie says, “Ever since I was a kid I never liked being the centre of attention!!”

And my thought was, “It is a bit late now isn't it? You should have thought of that before you took up your current profession. One that by its very nature, puts you in the centre of People’s attention.”

Is that how it is with you right now? You find yourself at the centre of everyone’s attention for your actions, and not likening it one Bit? Well ask yourself then, “Why am I here? Is it because this is what I want to do and part of that job?” Or is it because you have made some wrong choices along the way and now you have to decide whether to continue on as you are, or whether you can withdraw and do something else, that will bring you less exposure to everyone’s attention.

Mind you, a bit of exposure to public attention is good, in that it keeps you honest under scrutiny and also gives you some just rewards for your efforts, but “if you really can’t stand the Heat, then you really should get out of the Kitchen”, shouldn’t you?

Wha6yt say you and what are you going to do about it? Moan and groan or actually do something about it? Over to you for now: Walter

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Do We Really Need Traffic Lights At Every Intersection?

Was reading In Melbourne’s Herald Sun Newspaper on June 25th, of an innovative way of handling traffic in the German town of Bohmte.

After a 4-week trail, they have scrapped all traffic lights and road signs there in a radical move designed to reduce traffic accidents. Only two rules apply now: drivers cannot exceed48km/h (30mph) the German speed limit in urban areas; and everyone has to yield to the right. Where previously there had been at least one serious crash and scores of minor ones per week, there was not one in the original 4-week trail. Yes, since the system started there had not, at the time this made the papers, yet been one!

Before you say it is crazy and wouldn’t work elsewhere, let me tell you of an experience during our time in our “Beautiful “slightly out of town suburb of ”Ikwezi Extension” in Umtata in South Africa.

Umtata had a population of some 2 million people living within a 40km radius. Fortunately not all had Cars but there were still more than enough there. We lived about 2kms from the Post Office, between the main town and the Slum area where a large number of the population lived and there was one main road in and out of this area with a major crossroads and traffic lights just down the road from us. Sorry Traffic “Robots”, just down the road from us!

Theoretically this intersection should have been the safest in the whole town, as it was a good road, with traffic lights, and clear approaches from at least 200 metres in all directions.

Should have been the safest anywhere for that mater, but wasn’t and there seemed to be accidents, minor and major nearly every second day. That is except for one magic 17-day period.

A 17-day period when the power was out to the traffic lights and everyone approached with caution, instead of always trying to beat the lights as before.

So this new approach being tried in Germany will work elsewhere too. But the real question here is, not will it work where you are, but how do you drive where you are? Do you drive like you own the road? Or do you drive with caution, if not care and respect of others too?

When you think you own the road, you drive with abandon, believing everyone will get out of your way. However when you treat every intersection as a possible danger, all arrive safely, including you and your love ones.

So today’s plea is for you to drive always as if there were no lights or signs and that every intersection is an accident to be avoided. Will you do that please? For your sake as much as mine! Thank you!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Are You A True Amateur In All That You Do?

Like many words over the years, the word amateur has been redefined over the years and lost a little of its original meaning. The English word comes from the Latin word “amore”, which, as we all know I am sure, means, “to love”. Thus originally and in its truest form the word, “amateur” is simply someone who does something, simply “for the love of it”.

Unfortunately these days, we define it a little more broadly, and as someone who does something, but not paid for it, therefore they and their work by implication, must be inferior to that of the paid professional.

The reasoning being that if someone is willing to pay for your services, you must be really good. Whereas an amateur must be less skilled or less talented, other wise he/she too could charge for their services. Of course, if you have ever hired many of theses so-called professionals, you will know the latter is often not true and that in fact many so-called amateurs have it all over the so-called professionals with their skills some times.

But that still doesn’t stop us mentally, at least, as down grading the amateurs does it?

However it is the true amateur, the one who does things for love and not for money, who is the real professional, isn’t it?

If you are doing it for money, then near enough is good enough most of the time isn’t it?

Whereas, if you are doing something for love, even your best is often not good enough in your own eyes is it? And you keep at it until you really do think you can do no better, don’t you?

So today and everyday, when you go about your own special talent in life, even if you are a paid professional, please do all your work as an amateur. A loving, albeit unpaid, amateur, in the true sense of the word. Okay?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Somebody In Puerto Rico loves Steve Forde.

Writing Blogs is one thing; coming up with an appropriate Name that attracts people’s attention is another. Thus I often check not only what blogs attract people, but also where they attract people from. For instance if you write about an Australian Country Singer, you are not surprised to find that you get many hits from Australia, and when you hear that he had spent some time in America on both the Rodeo and Country Music Scenes, one is not too surprised to find a few hits from there either.

However I was surprised to find that Somebody In Puerto Rico loves Steve Forde enough, even if they didn’t spell his name properly, to look him up under the query, “ Steve Ford Australian Country singer”. Thus proving that they didn’t just stumble across my blog by accident but was looking for something on Steve Forde/Ford.

Although not overly well known in his own country outside of the Country music scene, Steve’s reputation has still managed to cross the world and into its remoter corners.

As with Steve Forde, so often with us too. We may not think our name or reputation, or lack thereof has spread precedes us very far but often it does and by strange and unexpected ways too sometimes. Sometimes, maybe even most times this may not be that far out of our expected circles but on others, our fame or often, our infamy, may spread far and wide indeed and even to some remote, strange, or as in this case some unexpected places too, in some obscure corner of the world.

Sometimes we use this belief of us not being well known, to hide behind and excuse some lax or sloppy behaviour too, in the belief that nobody of any importance will hear of us anyway.

Please don’t ever be like that. No matter how isolated you may feel or how little you may feel that your message is not really getting out there, don’t be discouraged, and don’t do things, half-heartedly either. Things have a habit of getting out and about, whether good or bad, even from remote Australia to remote Puerto Rico.

So don’t ever give up or put in half measures either. For you never know, one day you too might have a fan in Puerto Rico or Tobago & Trinidad or even down town Umtata, South Africa.