Saturday, January 20, 2007

Blogging Hero

A mate of mine has been blogging for a number of years at 'Backyard Missionary' and is now giving the blogging game away. His blog has been a source of fascinating debate, discussion and obscene humour for over 4 years.

Hamo, it's been great sharing the blogosphere with you mate, in fact it is you that encouraged me to get blogging myself. and I have found it rewarding in many ways. Thanks for the chance to write on your blog for two weeks too Hamo.

I know that was a period of great discussion for many people and it also helped me sort out some things in my head.

Your blog will be missed.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bizarre thing in K-Mart

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Another Interview

I did an interview for the 6 months acting in the Manager's position at my work on Tuesday. I am happy in my job but I also think I can contribute in that role. I should know by Monday - it would be good to add another layer of challenge, but at the same time I don't think I'll be hugely disappointed if I don't get it - after all I have only been here a few months so far.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


“Do they understand the cost?”

“They know there will be pain.”

“But do they understand the cost?”

“They know that you will be changing them – how much more they understand I do not know.”

“They are the only ones. After all these millennia they are all I have and before I proceed I must know that they understand the price they will pay for the change.”

“It is difficult, they are limited.”

“That is why I must change them – they cannot pass beyond their limits without the change – make them understand the cost. If they do not agree to the change I cannot proceed.”

“It is their limitations that prevent them from understanding the full cost of the change – the males among them seem complacent and acquiescent, but the females are agitated but do not comprehend fully. Can we not make the change anyway? You know it must be done.”

“It cannot be done if they do not agree and to agree they must understand the price they will pay. Work with the females if you must – find a way to help them understand and convince the males to accept the change.”

“I will do so, but I am afraid that they will not understand fully until after the change. They are limited, they cannot comprehend until you change them, but you cannot initiate the change until they agree. They cannot agree until they understand the price and they cannot understand the price until they are no longer limited after the change.”

“Work with the females – use their agitation, they will understand better than the males – after all it is they who will care for the first born after the change, they will be the mothers of all to come. It is they who will convince the males of the need to accept the change and pay the price.”

* * *

“They understand.”

“Do they agree to the price?”
“There is a complexity.”

“There is always a complexity.”

“There is not agreement between the males and the females. The females understand the necessity for the change, the males are complacent and do not wish to make an active choice. The females have pressed them to decide and have explained the price.”

“They will agree to the change? They understand the cost?”

“They will agree to the change, but the males will not share the burden. They are ambivalent about the change; it is the females who understand the necessity. The males will accept the change if the females pay the full price of the change.”

“This is unfortunate.”

“I agree.”

“You are sure you cannot convince the males.”

“The limitation is worst with them, thus they do not see it. The females sense the potential of their kind.”

“There will not be balance.”

“And there will be regret.”

“And pain.”

“What will be their potential?”


“Limitless good?”

“Good. And evil – there must be balance in that at least.”

“Will they survive the change?”

“They must. They will. They shall be unique.”

“Will they know they are unique?”

“They will sense it. It will be a goad to them. This has to be so if they are to be what they must be.”

“Will they remember the change? Will they remember how they were?”

“It will be as a shadow to them.”

“Will they remember us? Will they remember me? Will they remember I was their friend?”

“The will remember you, but the males will remember that you are the one who convinced the females to accept the change. You will not be remembered with fondness. This saddens you?”

“They were my favourites of all that was created here, they intrigue me, so playful. Even limited, they had potential.”

“You have regrets? You think we should not proceed?”

“No, it must be done, they must be changed.”

“And what of you?”

“I will accept my fate also.”

“Then I shall act.”

* * *

And Eve accepted on behalf of her people, knowing that they would change, and grow in stature and walk upright and that they would gain knowledge, and with this knowledge they would change the face of their world. But only Eve understood the price of the bargain she had made and she wept, not for only herself but for the billions of women after her who would pay the price of the change in pain and blood.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hobby or obsession?

When you develop an interest in something and you sustain that interest it seems to others to be a hobby or an obsession. My blog profile indicates that I am interested in everything and this is pretty close to the truth.

My wife will tell anyone that I am a little bit weird and I can live with that because I see it to be true. One manifestation of this is how I become interested in something and how that interest develops. As an example I will use coffee. I enjoy coffee, but I enjoy good coffee and I won’t bother drinking it unless I know or suspect that it is good coffee.

I won’t drink instant – I don’t see the point and I’ll drink water or tea in preference. As my interest develops I like to find out more about the origins and history of the thing I am interested in.

For coffee this meant reading about the history of the use of the coffee plant, where it grows and a bit about the varieties that are grown around the world.

My exploration was then directed towards – Where can I by a good coffee, and where was that coffee from? It took me two years to find satisfactory answers to this question and in the process I discovered much more about coffee.

The importance of freshness for one, the influence of different beans in a blend and the source of the beans – even down to individual growers.

It was inevitable that at some stage I would become interested enough to take on coffee roasting myself, and by chance I saw some green coffee beans one day and bought about 250 grams. This led to research about roasting green beans and to my first experiment with a cast iron frypan. The result was good enough to surprise me, and partly I think because of the freshness of the coffee.

I’ve been roasting for about 18 months now, just small batches but also been learning as I go. I’ve now taken it to the next level by purchasing equipment just for roasting coffee and I am reaching beyond my narrow base of green bean supplies to find other, more interesting coffee beans to try.

In the process I have discovered a whole network of people at various stages of dedication to coffee. Some like me are fairly low tech, making do with what they have already without investing too much in additional hardware. Others though have truly magnificent facilities – of which I am envious, that allow them to really engage in their hobby/obsession.

So back to the beginning, when does a hobby become an obsession? Does it ever or is it just a hobby that you are seriously interested in? I’m interested enough to start saving money towards further equipment, but my time commitment is limited to about 2 hours a week, plus a little time to read and write about it. It helps that I like coffee – I don’t think I can achieve quite the same level of interest in tea – and my interest in wine is stalled by the cost of maintaining a decent sampling cellar.

So is coffee my hobby? I’ll keep at it and let you know in a decade or so.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Today's Adventures

Today was an at home day - we've all been a bit sick this week and needed a quieter day. For the boys this means lots of activities with mum and dad. Alec never forgets when I make a promise to him and I promised him that this weekend we could do some cooking and he could wear the apron that Alli bought him in Sydney. So I roasted coffee (detailed in full at Grendel's Green Coffee Blog)
and we made some biscuits.

Mummy was here of course - she's busy taking the photos and staying out of range of the chocolate.

Riley helped by testing the dough - his face was comment enough.

Alec then put them in the oven.

And the end result!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Naughty Man

Darth Vader will forever be known as "Naughty Man" in our house. Today we have two would-be "Naughty Man" Candidates.

Currently though both Vader juniors are watching Bananas in Pajamas.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Third Roast

Medium Dark, took 7 minutes from start to finish and I cooled it by winnowing between sieves under fresh light rainfall.

Will grind in 4 hours and drink tomorrow!

The popper seems to be working very well - of course only the third use so it bloody well better be!


I used to do an exercise on a daily basis called "freewriting" where I would spend 5 minutes and write for that 5 minutes about whatever came into my head - You'll find a bit of that ending up on this blog which means that at some point I'm going to have to seperate the Coffee, politics and life streams of the blog.

I'd appreciate any blog organisation advice!

Reflections on the job so far. . .

My new job (5 months on) has some interesting challenges and involves working with a group who have been in the field for decades. They have a wealth of knowledge which can be a bit intimidating at times.

Some days it is a bit of a struggle to remind myself that I too am a professional with my own knowledge, I haven’t had as much time to accumulate the knowledge that my colleagues have, but I do have particular skills that allow me to draw on what they know and turn it into viable strategies.

I had my first performance management session here yesterday and it went very well. I think if I can keep up the work I am doing I would be welcome to stay on if a position becomes available at the end of my secondment. I’d like this – not much point going back to where I came from if they don’t have a Strategic Policy and Planning function any more.

I miss some of my former colleagues though – there were some great minds doing amazing work in a difficult environment and it was the best preparation for what I am doing now. I don’t think I would be able to apply the same level of intellectual rigour to my work if I hadn’t experienced the last 18 months there.

I have found that I need to have a heightened political awareness in this job, and I’m finding that there are a number of political bloggers out there that are thought provoking. I tend to sample a spectrum of opinions to get some balance. I’ve also taken to participating in discussion in comments links as an additional mental exercise – it really does improve my ability to critically analyse what is going on in my own area of interest if I’ve done my mental gym session each day.

On a coffee note – the dark roast has much more body to it than my first mild roast – really impressive. A coffee importer is prepared to sell me PNG, Columbian, Kenyan, Ethiopian or other beans in 5kg lots at a reasonable price so I will buy a few lots and experiment with blends as well.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Being a cool windy day we went out to the new nursery nearby, came home, fed the kids, put them to bed for a nap and decided it was time to try roast number two.

The beans on the left are the medium roast from yesterday, and on the right are the beans (medium/dark) from this afternoon.

It took about 5 minutes to roast to this colour and it was very even across all the beans. Much more even than I ever got roasting from green beans in the wok.

The machine. . .

If choosing a popcorn popper to home-roast green coffee beans, make sure you select one that blows the air in from the sides of the machine not from a mesh underneath. This is so the skins that flake off from the beans don't fall back into a heating element, but also because the side-air models keep the coffee moving and give a nice even roast. It also help if you don't overload the machine.

Below is a picture of the roasting chamber of my popper and you can see the solid base and airflow ports on the side.

The new job.

After my round of applications earlier in the year I was offered all four jobs I was interviewed for. This was great, but also meant that I had to choose between four quite different jobs with varying levels of security. One was in the organisation I was working for at the time - very safe, good money but pretty boring and little scope for creativity and innovation. Two others were at the same level, but again had a few restrictions I didn't like.

The fourth was doing work that required negotiation, strategic thinking with lots of deadlines and would need me to work fast, hard and require every bit of intellect I could put into it. It was a grade higher than the other jobs, but not enough money to sway me. It was also an 18 month secondment - and really only an 18 month secondment as the position had only been created as a temporary position. It lacked the security of the other jobs but the work, the work was exactly what I felt I needed to be doing.

I took it. and nearly 5 months on it has been the best move so far. Don't know what the future holds, but I am unconcerned. The work is valued and I get to make a contribution that I can see having an impact.

Can't ask more than that I reckon.

The Proof

The proof of the pudding may be in the eating but for coffee my personal proof of a good roast has always been in whether or not I need to add sugar.

I think I could do a slightly darker roast for flavour but overall yesterday's popper roasted bean are terrific. Given the ease of roasting with this method it would be a simple thing for me to roast each night the small amount of Coffee I want for the next day.

Coming up:

Coffee roasting 101 - at least from my experience.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


I've been home roasting my own coffee for over a year now - I have found it very satisfying but it does smoke out the house a bit (I use a wok on the gas stove).

Today I did something I have wanted to try for a long time and bought a popcorn maker. Many of the web sites that provide information about roasting your own coffee talk glowingly about the results achieved by the humble popcorn machine.

The picture above shows my green coffee beans on the left, and the result of 5 minutes in my $22 Black and Decker Popper.

Pretty damn impressed actually - very even roast all over, low mess, little effort and very fast. The main drawback is the amount you can roast at any one time, but still, pretty happy.

Will make the ultimate test tomorrow morning when I drink the product. . .

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

One More Number

I bought a ticket in the big lotto superdraw a couple of weeks ago - $27 Million prize. The first division shares if you picked all six numbers ended up at $1.37 Million.

No mortgage, no bills of concern, as much therapy as my son could handle - and me being home to drive him from speech, to occupational and physio therapists.

We got 5 of the six numbers. They call this third division. Ends up about $1400 which coincidentally is about the same amount we need to repair our aging car.

It is amazing just how happy you can be by just winning 'enough' to meet a need.

I wish the first division winners all the joy of their money but I think our win was better.

A Hearing Test Might be an Idea

Twice a week I take my son on the train into the city with me. This allows my wife to manage his older brothers various therapy sessions without the usual 2-yr old issues of need for attention and the application of the methodologies that come as part of the attention-getting package.

Today the train was very crowded, and as our stop is before the city I had to negotiate myself and the pram backwards through the crowd to the door of the train.

"Excuse me, 'scuse please, watch your toes, thanks very much, excuse me, thank you. . ." and I was out the door. A rather prim lass throws me a 'look' and intones "An 'excuse me' might be an idea".

I had three retorts to my tongue from the bland "ah, I did actually" (which I used), or the mildly sarcastic "Five times excused is not enough for you?" to the slightly sharper throwing her own words back to her as "A Hearing test might be an idea".

From the whithering look I received from my milder reply you'd have thought I used my third option - and perhaps I should have. Maybe she was just trying to teach politeness - well I know the conventions and use them - often suffer at other lack of similar usage, however I choose to believe she was just being a smart-arse.

Maybe next time.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Management Parable

There was once a ship sailing across the ocean. The captain was diligent and the crew loyal and dutiful. Officers and crew stood watch in shifts to make sure that the ship stayed on course and was able to avoid hazards. The officer of the watch had a set of binoculars. These allowed the officer to see further than with naked eyes so that they had more warning of hazards and could see the safe course for the ship.

One day a new captain took over the ship and when it was his turn on watch a crewman handed him the binoculars. The lenses had been cleaned and the lens caps placed back on to protect them until the captain was ready to use them.

The captain lifted the binoculars to his eyes, but because the lens caps were on he could see nothing. Angrily he turned to the crewman nearest him. “Take these to engineering, have them strip the binoculars and report back to me what is wrong with them.”

“but sir,” said the crewman, “if you’ll just take the…”

“Do as I instruct” growled the captain.

The binoculars were duly stripped by engineering who reported to the captain that there was nothing wrong with them.

As they binoculars had not worked when the captain tried them he decided that they were unreliable and should be scrapped. They weren’t needed to steer the ship, or monitor the engines or manage the crew and he could see perfectly well for himself what was around the ship.

“Binoculars distract for the core business of running the ship” he declared. “From now on there will be no binoculars.”

Of course this was his prerogative as captain, and to be sure, binoculars were not very useful in managing the crew, maintaining the engines, swabbing the decks, painting the rails or even in turning the rudder.

The crew however were worried, they knew that keeping watch was an important part of their duties and that using the right tools to keep watch gave them better information and more importantly gave them time to provide advice so that the captain could make a decision.

One by one they either spoke up and were dismissed or toed the line and were promoted. They all knew however, that just because the captain didn’t value binoculars that they were any less vital to the safety of the ship and they also knew that if the captain was going to discover how vital they were only when he ran the ship aground on the shoal that he would have seen if only he could have seen far enough.

Monday, January 30, 2006

J is for Job

I’ve been doing the odd job application lately. I’m looking both inside and outside the organisation I currently work for because I think it is time to step up and move my career further towards where my interests lie. I really love where I am now, but there has been too much poorly managed change and too many promises about what will await me ‘in the new structure’. I’m very passionate about my work and I want to be somewhere that values that aspect of me and allows me the latitude to apply it effectively. I can do that where I am – my manager is of like mind but I also feel the need to stretch in other directions.

So far I’ve done 5 job application and had 4 interviews – pretty happy with that strike rate, and then today there were 6 positions advertised that I am qualified for, so I may be in for some late evenings again.

I know that at least two of the organisations have contacted my referees – usually a good sign, but I still hate the waiting, especially on a Monday morning.

I’m tired – we had a ‘sick’ weekend with all of us attacked by some subtle bug. No great cold or flu symptoms, just the odd ache and very two lethargic parents accosted by alternately lethargic and manic boys.

A lunchtime nap would go down really well today.

Maybe it’s the weird weather – the height of summer and all it can manage is a weak 25° C, not that I am really complaining when the alternative is usually 40° C. Still, my tomatoes are getting a little confused as to the season, luckily the cucumbers don’t care.

Drivel? Yes. But it is all I can manage today apparently.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

P is for patience

And I have only a little, but my son is learning patience. I however am feeling tired tonight and I don't have the stamina to Blog but maybe this weekend will inspire me a little.

I think its the stitches.

They can go now.

Anytime would be good.