Gratitude

I feel like I’ve been whingeing a bit lately so I’m going to remind myself of some of the things I am grateful for.

1.  My partner, she has asked me not to call her “my lady” and one day I’ll call her something else.  But I just want to say here that there are times when we have taken each other for granted and that we should make an effort to remind ourselves of why we are together.  Simple reason really, we love each other.

2.  My kids – I’m lucky to have each of them and to have them now accept the situation that they weren’t happy about when I first left their mother.   I love it when they stay with us and love the fact that our new home will be big enough for them should they choose to live with us.

3.  Our furkids – three of them now that we are babysitting my daughters dog.  Unconditional love.

4.  My new job – because without it we would have to cancel our new build.  And yes, for those who have read the previous posts, I do have a new position and I commence next Monday.

5.  This great country in which I live.  Every day as I see the suffering around the world I give thanks that even the worst of things here is the best of things in other places.

So to all of you who visit and who I am also grateful for, please may I wish you all Happy Australia Day no matter where you are.

End of the Workline

The background is that when I left my former stable employment at the end of October last year I was going to a start up company which was building a data centre and a cloud based computer business.  It was going to use cutting edge technology and was well funded.  At least that was what I was told.

Funding was coming from two sources, one in Singapore who had put in the money to that stage and another from Sydney who was due to put money in during November, which was subsequently pulled after I commenced work.  The result was that December pays were delayed and for a while looked like they wouldn’t come through.   But they did and we went to the Christmas New Year break having been told that the January payroll was guaranteed.

We received a message from the CEO telling us when to be back at work and we were also told that the lease on the premises was being finalised and that the power supply agreement was also to be signed.  Good, I thought, that means that there is a commitment from the owners and Directors to make this thing happen.

First week in January we were told to work from home and to report back to the office on the 10th of January where we were to meet the Sydney Director and investor.   And he did come down, spent two days following the CEO around and eventually came to the conclusion that he was a liar of the highest order and that he was damaging the business.  He had been told that previously by the General Manager, but saw the bloke as a visionary and was insisting that he still had a role to play in Business Development.

After spending time with him though, he sent a scathing email to his fellow Director and investor in Singapore stating that the only reason the bloke hadn’t been strangled and shoved in a deep ditch was because he had other people around at the time.

He tried to have the entire company signed over to himself but Singapore refused to play ball because they wanted him to pay out the investment they had already made.   So the company is insolvent and Mr Sydney man decided that it would be best to put it into liquidation, but told us all in an email that he wanted to keep the expertise of the team together for a few weeks whilst we re wrote business plans, customer acquisition and marketing and sales plans.

His exact words were –
I obviously do not know how Singapore are going to react to their news this week. I still believe that you have a core business that has ‘legs’ and we should make plans for an immediate future.
As a backup to next week, I would like you to buy a domain name that everyone agrees to (thereby creating a united front) and we will have a new company registered (next week) with ASIC. I will have to discuss which company type we would use, but we will (and should) give all our fellow workers continuity.
Everyone will have to work at home for 1-2 weeks until we can get a new premises sorted. I am not paying $74K a month for a premises that we do not need (at the moment).
Sales products are essential. Website is essential. Outreaching for rack space is essential. Registering with a Telco and selling space is essential. Outreaching to a sales network is essential. Printing, equipment and staff accommodation would take me a few days to organize.  
New employment contracts will be done on a handshake until we get sorted. Salary budgets can be managed in the short term, but we cannot go forward under an xxxx model. We have to be structured and one step, two step into this marketplace with quality and sustainable products. 
After discussions with xxx and xxx, and then discussions with everyone else in that you will need a united front to go forward after this week. I still think that we go after a çloud’ business, realizing xxx’s potential for a data storage site and other plans that you guys have had. I have additional thoughts, but, they are most likely rubbish until I get your feedback on sustainability.
Let me know what you think.” 

We have all been working hard over the past week or so on getting the required documents including the business plan together for presentation to him on the understanding that he was going to seed fund that work on a week by week basis for a finite time, whereupon he would make a decision on whether or not he would fund the business or not.

On Wednesday when the GM contacted him the situation had changed. He said in an email –

I understand that you are meeting with everyone on Tuesday, to put together a go forward plan for XXXXCo2. I need to know a budget, details of how you want to go forward and who wants to stay OR go. We will start a new venture under our to-be agreed conditions and there will be no backwards and forwards, as was the case with XXXCo1.
Even to the point that we will be paying wages weekly, not monthly.
 I then spoke to xxxx GM (today) regarding that meeting and he told me that a report will be ready on tuesday, and that was when he put it on me for wages for the team. it was the first that I heard of it and I thought that our agreement was to see/discuss that report before I put my hand up for anything. I do not know what you guys are thinking, but I am getting a bad feeling about the lines of communication.

Sorry Mr Investor – you did know about the week by week payments, you made the offer, we didn’t ask for it.  You kept spouting about honesty and integrity but it seems it is the old “do as I say not as I do.”

That was when it got ugly.   None of us have been paid since mid December.   This bloke allowed us to go to the Christmas break believing that the January payroll would be honoured.  He then gave us false hope that he was an honourable man and genuine in wanting to take the business forward.  He has no honour.  He is a liar not dissimilar to the previous CEO.

Here are some of the other comments he made via email to members of the team yesterday.

“AS I told xxxGM, go fuck yourself. You pompous, boring idiot.”

“All I have from you, xxx etc etc is angst that money is not being poured in. Where is the comfort that I am not backing another xxxCEO??????????????
I am going back to what i know, where annual returns are guaranteed, asset value grows and working with management teams that are happy to be accountable for their actions.
Quite candidly, you can go and fuck yourself.”

So there you have it.   I am still considering whether to name these blokes but I might wait and see how the legal issues unfold.  We will all lodge complaints with the Fair Work Ombudsman.   There is a prima facie case against the Directors for deceptive and misleading conduct but if it ends up only being the company we can sue, and it had no assets apart from the collective knowledge of the employees, then the chance of getting anything is slim.

We need the company to formally go into liquidation so the claims for unpaid entitlements can be pursued, but that will take months.

In the meantime if we can’t get our entitlements perhaps we start by taking something else.   A wise man once said to me that reputation is like virginity, once gone it is very hard to get back.  Let’s see what is on the horizon.

Usher Nazis and Choo Choo Bars

Nana and Grandad Smith lived at 25 Davison Street, Brunswick when I was growing up.  It was a single fronted brick terrace house with blue stone cobbled gutters on the street and in the lane that ran down the back of the house.

As with Dad’s family many of Mum’s relatives lived in the same general vicinity and so when we visited their were always other members of the family present.  When I was a toddler my great-Grandmother Janet Woolley lived there and I still have memories of playing hide and seek where she would let me hide my head under her apron. It was out of sight out of mind, if I couldn’t see anyone then obviously they couldn’t see me either.

Nana’s brother, Uncle Alf, who won the Military Medal in World War 1, had lung cancer and Nana nursed him until his death which seemed a long time coming at the time.  I don’t remember too much about him but I did inherit his 3/4 size bed [a bit smaller than a double] and thought I was a king when I got into it.  It was the bed I slept in until I got married in 1982.  It never occured to me at the time that it was the bed an old uncle had died in.   Incidentally the citation for his medal states that it was awarded when he entered the trenches and captured thirty Turks alone.  Must have been a pretty gutsy effort.

That bed had one other unfortunate accident.  At my 21st Birthday, Dad had invited a young bloke he worked with.  He was always bringing home people he’d met for meals and the obligatory sharing of the beer.  Unfortunately this bloke got absolutely paralytic and was put to sleep in my bed which he promptly wet.   Took days for the mattress to dry.

But as I sometimes do, I’ll move from the digression back to the topic at hand, which I should have said early on is about what we did in Brunswick on Saturday afternoons.  Often if we weren’t at the footy watching our beloved blues play at Princes Park, we would be sent off to the pictures at the Padua Theatre in Sydney Road, Brunswick.    It was a big deal for little kids to walk to those places by themselves in those days and generally there were at least four of us, Karen and I and our cousins Gavin, Kerry and Phillip at various times.

This was a typical art deco theatre of the time, the stalls down below and the expensive seats where the more well off could sit up top in the dress circle.

The Padua had been built by Hoyts in 1937 and was closed in 1968 much to our sorrow.   It was then leased to a couple of Itialian blokes Tony and Franco Zeccola who re-opened it in August 1969 as the Metropolitan playing Italian language films which wasn’t much help to us.    This continued until December 1981 when the doors closed for the last time before it was demolished in January and February of 1982.

A full page article in The Argus Newspaper in Melbourne was published on 23rd July 1937 announcing the opening.   It seated 2000 people, had such luxuries as foot warmers, air conditioning and a crying room for children.  The first weeks entertainment included Charles Rainsford and his Swing Orchestra on stage with screening of the Errol Flynn and Olivia De Haviland movie The Charge of the Light Brigade.   The paper also announced that there would be short screening of the Walt Disney Mickey Mouse cartoon Mickey’s Circus in full colour.

In 1954 a cinemascope camera system was installed which allowed the display of wide screen movies and I can remember one in particular that stuck in my mind.  How the West was Won was a mind blowing movie on the big screen at the time.

But I had other favourites that still stick in my mind to this day.   Such classics as Snow White and the Three Stooges.

Ivanhoe.

The Black Knight

And what was a trip to the pictures without lollies. Favourites were White Knights and Choo Choo Bars which turned your entire mouth black and which would last almost the entire movie they were so chewy. And of course there were the boxes of jaffas. I wasn’t one for rolling them down the aisle, much better to eat them but maybe the reason for rolling them was in the hope that an usher Nazi might step on some and fall over.

When the theatre opened in 1937 The Argus reported that the entire work force was male.  Certainly by the time we were going in the mid sixties many of the usherettes were women.  I am pretty sure that they were women, but some of them had mustaches that would have made Groucho Marx proud, and voices that reminded me of the bad guys in the World War 2 movies.  “Feet off Seat” and “Quiet Down” were growled at the kids whilst London Blitz Spotlights were shone into our faces.  I truly thought they may have been Nazis in disguise and I feared for the lives of the kids who were occasionally grabbed by the ear and escorted out never to be seen again.  Woe betide anyone who was actually found to be in the wrong seat.  I was pretty certain that such a heinous offence must have meant the gas chamber or hanging for them.

What movies stick in your mind from your childhood?

Work wanted? It’s all a matter of perspective.

There is a fair chance that work will finish in the next couple of days.  Disappointing given I gave up a permanent stable job to go to a place where I was told there was guaranteed funding for at least the first 12 months by which time we would have built what we needed to build and be well and truly underway.

Pre-Christmas our December pay was more than a week late but we all went to our week break believing that guarantees had been made for at least the January payroll.  Sitting here now, that seems unlikely.  The owners and shareholders of the business are from Singapore and I may well name them depending on how the next few days turn out.   I could go into some of the reasons for the failure but let me just say that a few of us today were talking about presenting a person with a soap on a rope gift on the off chance that he ends up as a prisoner of Her Majesty.  But there is still a fair bit of water to go under the bridge yet.

And having written that I realise that is is a metaphor in poor taste as fellow countrymen continue to suffer in the floods in Queensland.  That puts things into proper context for me and I realise I don’t really have too much to complain about.

And consider the tale of young Jordan Rice who when in the arms of a rescuer told that rescuer to take his younger brother first.  He and his mother were then swept to their deaths.

Then there was the courage shown by Ray Cole, the roo man, who waded into the floods to save a young joey that was struggling to stay afloat.

Ray Cole – Roo Man – Picture: Villiers Nick De Source: HWT Image Library

And then there were these blokes who waded into the waters to save a horse.

So do I really have anything to worry about.  The answer of course is an emphatic no!

A Sunburnt Country, drought and flooding rains

We are watching the devastation caused by the Queensland floods as rain continues to fall here in Melbourne. This is no time for debate on whether or not this is climate change or whether more could have been done to mitigate the risks.  Like the Black Saturday fires here in Victoria two years ago it is a reminder of the harshness and fickleness of this country.  Our hearts go out to those who have lost their lives and to those whose lives have been devastated.  As Aussies do, we will pull together and bounce back, ready to face the next natural disaster when it inevitably comes and in coming days we will hear the tales of heartbreak and of heroism that will unfold.

For those overseas visitors who may not have seen some of the footage that we have please take the time to view what is happening here.  It is proof that no one is immune.   The first video is of the flash flood or inland tsunami, as it is being called, that hit Toowomba which is a town perched on the top of the Great Dividing Range.

http://video.news.com.au/embed/1735546960/Incredible-flash-flood-footage?player=narrow

This next one is of the current situation in Brisbane, our third largest city, with the flood peak still some 9 hours away as I post this.

http://video.news.com.au/embed/1735675849/Unstoppable-tide-hits-Brisbane?player=narrow

And for one of the more remarkable images check this out.
(Photo: Armin Gerlach/ninemsn.com.au)

If anyone would like to donate you can do so here at the Queensland Government Flood Appeal

Cankles

I went out for a business lunch today hosted by a bloke from Missouri and we got talking about American politics.  Somehow we got onto Bill Clinton and how he seems to believe that he ought to still be President.  I asked him if he thought Hilary would resign as Secretary of State this year and run in the Primaries against Obama.  He thought it unlikely because it would be considered bad form to run against an incumbent.

From there he got onto the fact that Hilary always wears pant suits to hide her cankles.

Now cankles isn’t something I am familiar with so I sort of laughed and pretended I knew what he was talking about and first thing I did tonight when I switched this thing on was google it.  So for those as ill informed as I am let me say that the Urban Dictionary defines cankles as –

“The area in affected female legs where the calf meets the foot in an abrupt, nontapering terminus; medical cause: adipose tissue surrounding the soleus tendon, probably congenital, worsened by weight gain and improved in appearance only by boots. From the English “calf” meaning wide portion of the lower leg, and “ankle” meaning slender joint of leg with foot.”

So now I find myself wondering if this is a common affliction.  There is a cankle haters group on Facebook and dozens of people called Cankle which I reckon I might consider changing if it was me.  It would be like having a name like Cameltoe or Halitosis, OK for a laugh but you wouldn’t want to live with it.  There are youtube videos on how to get rid of cankles and people have even written books on them.  And apparently the fact that Hilary has them is well known to most septics [for non-Aussie readers septic is short for septic tanks which is rhyming slang for yanks).

So is this a major medical issue of the 21st century or is it so 20th century.  That’s the problem when you get older like me you miss out on popular culture.

Respect

I’ve been pondering respect lately.  Coming from a police background I tend to grant respect according to rank and experience almost without thinking because that is what we were taught to do.  However, like most coppers, the automatic granting of respect does not mean that it will continue forever without question, because for me longevity of respect is based upon the actions of the person.   It must be earnt if it is to last.

I’m sure most of you will have come across people at various times of your life who have lost your respect and like virginity, once lost it is very hard to get back.

So what exactly does respect mean?   In looking for the answer to that question I came across the following quotes which encompass aspects of respect that I embrace.

Mark Clement:
Leaders who win the respect of others are the ones who deliver more than they promise, not the ones who promise more than they can deliver.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Men are respectable only as they respect.

John Wooden:
Respect a man, and he will do all the more.

Each of these have common elements.  Firstly for respect to last it must be mutual.  You cannot demand respect if you do not give it.   Secondly, respect is earnt by example, put in more than is expected and most of the time you will earn the respect of people you associate with.  The caveat to that is that will only happen if you don’t winge about the fact that you do more than others.

Demanding respect does not work for me.

The fact that you may be better looking, have more possessions, a red sports car or an hereditary title, or indeed bigger muscles, does not automatically mean that I must or will respect you.   Show respect to others and you will have taken a step in the right direction towards earning my respect.  But remember you need to work at it.  It cannot be something you turn on and off.  Your behaviour must be consistent.  Showing deference and respect to some whilst disrespecting others will negate any good will you have built with me.

What about you?  What makes you respect a person?

No More Cloudy Days

We had the great pleasure of seeing the Eagles a couple of weeks ago at their first Melbourne concert since 2004.   Given this is the New Year I thought I’d post one of my favourites here.

http://www.wat.tv/swf2/133147nIc0K11806900