Thursday, July 23, 2009

Here I am again

Wow, this could get addictive

A small person is singing in the bath, having done one amazing swim lesson - full lenghs of tha pool like a little mermaid if you please.

Her Dad would've been proud...

his turn to take her next week....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm on a roll

I haven't posted for so long why not do some more?  As a very good SJD song goes "'s 4am and there's a ....[something] in side my head.... it's 5am and there's an orchestra for hire inside my head...] anyway , the idea is, I'm not alone in my insomnia.  Great music from artists with authentic souls is a lovely companion in this life.

I don't why it is that emotional turmoil, or the storms of life or whatever, seem to be what makes me want to write.  I guess it's just an outlet for "angst". This last week has certainly been an emotional rollercoaster for me, as those close to me know only too well, having been ear-bashed, ranted at, cried upon and otherwise witnesses of.  It reminds me just how good a bunch of fantastic friends, loving family and generous, compassionate work colleagues are in the gifts of life.  Sometimes it takes some real crap going on to discover how wonderful love in its many forms can be.  It's that paradox that when I experience suffering, I often also experience tremendous human goodness to help me along.  So while I'd rather not have the pain, I am glad for what else it tends to give me as part of the package.

Having said that, I find it very hard still to hold this in tension with the sorts of pain I see in the world that do not appear to be accompanied by any shred of that balancing goodness to help the sufferers along.  The list is endless, obvious and up for eternal ideological and philosophical debate.  But hey, this is a blog, so I don't have to be reasonable, reasoned or consistent about it.  So I'm just going to name a few of my pet hates.

1. Imprisonment: the way we as a society (at least in this country, and many others) continue to lock up increasing numbers of the most broken and damaged people as a way of punishing them for the things they have done to us out of the almost universally hellish evils that have been visited upon them since the day they arrived on the planet.  Through various things that put them in the most disadvantaged, marginalised, abused, groups, we then punish them even more for being victims of various forms of evil in the first place.  Yes, I know there are a few people who have a pretty happy life and still choose to go off and do bad things, and a few others who arguably "don't choose" because they are psychopaths and are just wired that way.

Having thought long and hard about this for many years, I have come to the conclusion that there is a place for imprisonment for a very small number of people, for the purposes of containment to protect us.  But in a country the size of ours, it might be about 1% of all the people we imprison.  The rest we are systematically failing to respond to in any effective way.  Doesn't make them behave like we want them to (almost always makes them worse), doesn't fix anything, costs us all a bloody fortune that could be so much better spent just about anywhere else.  It's a criminal injustice system.  I long for a time when those in power are ready to try for a new way out of  this form of collective madness.

2. Suicide: Once again, there may be exceptions, but in general, a person who has come to a point of deciding to take their own life, or trying and succeeding, or trying and failing, is someone who is experiencing that level of pain in such a way that they are cut off from the love that can bring them back from despair.  What happens to a person that they feel so cut off from love and comfort and support in suffering?  How does any one person get so isolated?  Yes, many reasons.  No pat answers.  But once again, the fact that this can happen to any one individual in a world full of people and institutions who supposedly care, love and help is a such a sad thing.

3. War: Collectivised intent to visit violence on other people, in ways that are undiscriminating.  Decisions to exercise violence for some higher cause.  Violence to counteract others' violence.  State sanctioned violence for which the justification is trying to bring peace in a world where others choose violence.  Yep I know all the arguments, a just war, a holy war, a war against terror, a war for freedom.  It's all madness.  The end doesn't justify the means.  If we choose violence as a way to try and contain, stop or prevent other violence in the world, how are we any better?  It's our failure to find other ways and do the work of other ways to bring peace.

4. Poverty: The madness of plenty and overabundance for a small minority of the world's human inhabitants; the stress of shortage and inadequate provision for a much larger proportion of people, and the completely inhumane situation of the remaining millions who needlessly starve, get ill and die from diseases that could easily be cured etc.

So I'm saying nothing new.  The fact I am in a position to sit here and write this blog demonstrates that I am one of the favoured, complicit minority.  An uncomfortable place to be conscience wise.  What to do.

There's no pat answer to any of it.

Just trying each day really to be a push in the "good" direction, even though, being human, and even with the best of intentions I might actually mess up big time today.

Mum buys a new vacuum cleaner

Mum buys a new vacuum cleaner


As a consumer of goods and services, there are advantages in having a daughter with an obvious disability in the voracious retail marketplace.


I was looking for a new vacuum cleaner on the weekend.  Daughter in tow, I visited several different stores: Harvey Norman; Briscoes; Noel Leeming.  They all had vacuum cleaners.  They all seemed to have different brands of vacuum cleaner.  The prices ranged from $150 to $1,000.  They had many different features.


As a consumer, I was bamboozled.  And time was short, with an 8 year old girl in attendance who would prefer to spend all our time (and my money) in toy shops, thank you very much.  What to do.


Then I popped into LV Martin.  The very nice elderly store gentleman sauntered over, took a look at me, took a look at my daughter, and asked if he could help.  I told him I wanted a vacuum cleaner, and I didn’t know what to buy.  He had vacuum cleaners.  He could have sold me one of his quite easily.  I could not have told the real difference from the innumerable other vacuum cleaners I’d seen in other stores.


Instead, he pointed across the carpark to Godfreys, which basically only sells vacuum cleaners, and told me to get one there. He said I would do better to buy one from them than to buy one of the ones he had on offer.  He told me who to ask for over there for the best advice and assistance.


I followed his advice, and bought my new vacuum cleaner from the store that specialises in vacuum cleaners.  I told them why I had come to them, the name of the person who had sent me to them, and the store he was from.


You may wonder what this has to do with having a daughter with one leg.  I have observed that retailers sometimes behave differently around me as a consumer when she is with me.  Some take pity; some try and empathise.  They say and do things they would not otherwise do with me as a customer.  They somehow see that life has thrown me a bit of a curve ball as a mum, and they want to help me.  Actually, mostly they want to do something to help her.  At least, that seems to be their motivation to me.


I imagine that to some bosses, the man at L V Martin would be seen as material for a severe telling off, sending a customer away to someone else when he could have “gone for the kill”, made the sale and taken my money for his company.


From my perspective as a consumer, he may not have sold me a vacuum cleaner that day, but I am far more likely to go back to his store to get something else from him that other stores also sell, such as a washing machine, a dryer or a toaster.  His disinterested action has created goodwill in me as a consumer, and a sense of trust that he (and by definition) his company, is not out to exploit me, and puts my needs as a consumer before his need to sell a product.


Who knows how the other retailer responds to the information that they got a referral from a “competitor”.  Hopefully to reciprocate by referring customers back to him.  If so, then it’s a very effective marketing strategy by the man from L V Martin.


And good for consumers, as they navigate the shark infested waters of competitive retail marketing.