Thursday, October 2, 2014


I was fascinated to learn of Alfred Stafford today.  He was an Aboriginal gentleman who was the personal driver for 11 Australian Prime Ministers.  His personal papers have just been donated by his family to Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.  His close proximity to some of the most interesting moments in Australian political history - Menzies, Holt, Whitlam - is tantalizing in the possibilities it would have offered for a unique perspective on those events.  I would love to see a well-produced mini-series that covered his life. Imagine the big moments in Australian history intersecting with his own private life and story - it would be very compelling viewing.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Super doggie

Another reason why dogs are awesome.

It's also amusing to think how a cat would react to the same scenario.  I imagine if a cat was called over to smell an iphone it would sniff it disdainfully and then saunter off with an aloof air of disinterest.  Anyway, we all know cats only use Blackberries.  Iphones are so.... common.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

All the excitement

So, we think we've found the house for my parents.  Just waiting on the building inspection.  Hoping this one's a keeper.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A dog's work is never done

If you are the dog of a family, you carry big responsibilities.  Everyone needs to be safe at all times.  Even when swimming.  Especially when swimming.

HT 22 words.

Friday, September 19, 2014

True joy

Happiness is not a set of giddy feelings where you go through life high-as-a-kite and regularly assault people with your positive-thinking slogans and toothy-grin.

Those kind of people make my head ache.

Rather, it appears when you have a settled contentment about your lot in life and it is fuelled by the knowledge that you are the undeserving recipient of God's lavish grace.

There's a bloke in my staffroom who exhibits this quiet joy.  He is a humble but deeply kind man who you never hear involved in grumbling or weighing in on the office gossip.  His desk features photos of his current and past homeroom classes so that he can pray for his students each day.  He is the sort of person I want to grow up to be like.

I was reminded of this the other day when we were discussing real estate.  I asked my colleagues what they thought of a particular area in the neighbourhood which has a bit of a bad reputation for run-down houses and dodgy neighbours.  There's a nice unit going in what looks like a nice street within that area.  'Was it really all that bad?' I wondered.

So this bloke spoke up.  He's lived in that neighbourhood for years.

"We've live there for 30 years.  It's perfectly fine.  We've never had a single problem while we were living there."

I said, "You mean, apart from the time your house burnt to the ground and you lost everything you owned?"  Because it did.  About 10 years ago.

"Oh, yes.  But we built in the same spot and it's really a very nice place."

Now, wasn't his reference for the quality of the neighbourhood I found interesting.  It was that when he looked back on the last 30 years, he didn't bother to mention that big event when his house burnt to the ground and he and his wife and children lost ALL their possessions and had to start again.  If I had been telling the story, in all likelihood I would have slipped that in.  As an aside.  As a mention.  Because - hey - if my house burnt down, you'd be hearing about it.

But, he obviously doesn't keep his life accounts in that manner.  His house burnt down.  But he does not wear it around like a badge of suffering or honour.  It was just something that happened.

Sometimes we can hang on to things and they become the marker of the stages of our life.  We take up any opportunity to share that event/grievance/suffering even many years after the situation is gone and we've moved on.  We stay bitter.  Or if not bitter, then at least we drag it out for a show-and-tell when we can.

A person of contentment doesn't do that.  And in doing so, I think, they open the window to joy.

Photo credit: charmaineswart from

Just because you can argue it...

...doesn't make it true.

This clip comes from the BAHfest.  The BAHfest is the Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypothesis. BAHFest celebrates well-researched and cleverly-argued, but still ultimately wrong, hypotheses about evolutionary theory.  Here, Tomer Ullman, presents a hypothesis that crying infants carried into battle provided an evolutionary advantage to early man.  It's a humorous example of the fact that great theories do not necessarily equal truth.  I'll probably show it to my Philosophy students next year as an illustration of the need to approach complex ideas with healthy scepticism.

HT The Laughing Squid.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Buyer beware and other adventures in consumer law

Interesting times in our house this week.  On Monday I put in an offer on house on behalf of my parents.  Looked just right.  Felt I might have to haggle a bit over the price so I worked out my strategy and I put in the first offer subject to (and this is the key point) a building and pest inspection. 

On Wednesday, a nice inspector looked at the property.  On Thursday, I rang him and found out that this lovely four-year old property has a drainage problem and the concrete slab has lifted and that's a major structural problem.  Because the house was so new, the damage was not yet visible when we had a good (but amateur) look around the property before putting in an offer. But if we'd bought the house, and obliviously waited a few years, we would have been rewarded with all the tell-tale signs of cracked brickwork and doors that no longer open and close properly.  And we would have had problems re-selling the house.  So glad we forked out the money for the inspection!

Photo credit: krosseel from

I explained this politely to the real estate agent later that day.  He tried to talk me into continuing the contract.  I was confused.  Maybe the problem wasn't such a big deal.  I rang the inspector back and told him the estate agent was giving me some push-back about cancelling my contract.  The inspector told me that he had been very direct with the real estate agent and had told him that any remedy to the situation would require consulting a structural engineer.  "Hang on," I said, "Did you just say that you had told all this to the agent yesterday?  Because I just spoke to him and he acted as if he was completely unaware of the issues and tried to talk me into continuing to buy the house!"  I was, shall we say, unimpressed.

I firmly cancelled the contract this afternoon.

Meanwhile, I was also on the case of untangling the mess that had been made by hackers in my Skype account.  Skype, bless their hearts, have been very helpful and stopped all the early morning texts coming through from Denmark and Sweden.  And they also refunded me the cost of the 1012 unauthorized texts sent from my account.  Nice Skype.

If only everyone who was selling products had such good service (I'm looking at you, Mr Sneaky-the-real-estate-agent).