Float, the Pixar short film on Disney+, tugs all the heartstrings.

It was a blast participating in the Micro Monday podcast. @macgenie was a great host who kept the conversation flowing.

Bluey is the greatest kids television show ever made. This article explores the production side of making an animated show.

The Mental Office

I’ve been trawling through some old text files of mine. I came across a note from 2012 that I initially thought was my own, but now recognise it as the work of Shawn Blanc.

Shawn’s post highlights issues relating to working from home. He references a podcast that I used to enjoy listening to — the Home Work podcast, hosted by Aaron Mahnke and Dave Caolo1 . I can’t find an active link for the podcast. It was last hosted by 5by5. Since the podcast ended Aaron Mahnke has gone on to fame and fortune with Lore and Dave Caolo has moved on to other projects.

Leveraging the notes posted by Shawn Blanc, I see that the podcast noted working from home as thus:

Working from home isn’t always about notebooks, apps and office furniture. Much of it happens in the head, between fighting distraction, staying focused and keeping things organised. In this episode, Aaron and Dave chat about leaving work at work (even when it’s in your home) and doing a mind-sweep to keep things clear.

This is a challenge worth remembering, particularly now in 2019 when ubiquitous networking and powerful mobile devices makes it so easy to do work not only from home, but from anywhere at anytime. There is a clear risk of dedicating too much time to work because it’s possible. Yet this doesn’t make it the right choice. We really need to protect our leisure time.


  1. My claim to fame in relation to the Home Work podcast was that I once emailed in a question, which the hosts addressed in one of their shows. [return]

Politics

Day 30 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

You thought religion was a dangerous topic? No, I’ve left the really dangerous one until last. Today, let’s talk politics.


My origin story

I’ve been interested in politics since I was 12 or 13 years old. Perhaps influenced by my conservative parents, and having grown up in an Australia where for the length of my memory Labor had been in government, I felt Labor were taking it all for granted.

I determined that Labor were not for me. The Australian economy was in recession and it felt that our family had been forgotten.

Impact of education

Time moved on and I began to take a different outlook on life. I realised that our family was living on the margins in low-income outer suburbia.

I did well enough at school that I was able to attend university. This was a foundation for self-improvement and growth. It helped me begin to see there was a broader world beyond that in which I had grown up.

I came to see that were it not for the efforts of the Labor Party to make university education affordable for everybody irrespective of their family situation, societal status or upbringing, I would never have been able to afford to go to university, even if I was clever enough. I also saw the people who were involved in the Liberal Party - and I knew they were nothing like me. My suburban story was foreign to them.

The Labor Party, on the other hand, was full of people that I could relate to, who had similar stories to mine.

My involvement in the Labor Party accelerated when I met my future wife, Hannah, who happened to be the daughter of Kim Beazley. He was the Leader of the Labor Party in Australia’s national parliament at the time. It’s not good for romance if you vote against your girlfriend’s father!

Ironically, I didn’t meet Hannah through any political connection or event. We met in a nightclub. Those were the days!

Politics engrained

That was in 1999. Since then I’ve been involved in politics in ways and to degrees that my childhood self could never have imagined.

I’ve worked on campaigns, I’ve door-knocked, I’ve called voters. I’ve twice supported my wife as a candidate at State and Federal elections. Unfortunately she was not victorious, despite running excellent campaigns and being generally well-regarded. The big swings that are needed to change a seat in politics simply didn’t eventuate.

It is easy to get caught up in the game of politics. When that happens to me, I think back on my own story. I believe the purpose of politics is to help communities, and enable people to have a fair and equal opportunity to become the best version of themselves. It’s about allowing kids like me living in poor suburbs have a chance to get an education. For me, an education unlocked employment opportunities and life improvements that I would not have ever imagined. It also helped the nation, because being qualified to get higher paying jobs I’ve been able to pay a lot more income tax than I otherwise would have.

Governments and politicians are servants of the people. When this responsibility is forgotten the system breaks down. When Paul Keating was in charge and the recession was in full swing, I looked at the situation around me and felt forgotten. When I look around now I feel that many, many more are forgotten. That needs to be brought to their attention. If it is, then perhaps they will elect to have a government that will be an effective servant who acts in their best interests.

Microblogvember: Over the past 30 days I have been able to integrate the Microblogvember prompts from @macgenie into my daily blogging routine. These micro posts run in parallel with my longer Blogvember posts.

Religion

Day 29 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

My life has always been connected to religion and it has played a formative role in my upbringing.

Baptised Anglican, and the son of an Anglican minister, I remember sitting through interminably boring sermons and church services that seemed to go forever. I also remember visiting the church with my Mom and sitting on her lap and steering our car through the parking lot while she dealt with the pedals.

Then our family transitioned away from Anglicanism towards a Pentecostal approach to religion, and we attended an Assemblies of God church. My memories of that church was that it was more interesting than the Anglican Church. Looking back, I think it drifted further towards the charismatic ‘modern’ approach to Pentecostalism. This was a long time ago, and I was growing through my teen years, so I can’t confirm if that is an accurate assessment - but it is my memory.

At this point I drifted away from organised religion.

Later I married a Catholic girl, so I have become familiar with the yin to the Anglican’s yang. I actually don’t mind the Catholic service - except for all the random sitting and standing, and then some kneeling for good measure. I always just copy the person next to me. Of course, both the Anglicans and Catholics strike fear into the heart of all introverts with their ‘peace be with you’ bit. Really, must we?


Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had two work meetings divert into topics of religion and churches. This doesn’t worry me at all. What I find interesting is that Australia is a secular country, and rarely in my working life has religion ever come up in a work context before.


At this time our country is being led by a Prime Minister who declares his faith. What I find unfortunate is that this faith is tied to the Hillsong church business. I cannot abide this organisation. Their ‘prosperity doctrine’ has worked for their founders who have become obscenely rich, and (I believe) powerful behind the scenes despite having no formalised legitimacy. The Hillsong business spreads a message that deviates far from the original word and intention of Jesus. Cherry picking gospel and turning church into a rock concert doesn’t seem the answer to me.

Now they have the ear of our Prime Minister; and I’m sure they tell their followers that is further evidence of the truth of their mission. I’m not so believing.


Religion has forever played a part in keeping civilisation in order. It has provided guidelines for appropriate lifestyles when there has been no governance system or rule of law to steer societies.

Religion has been an enabler of great deeds. Religion has been a driving force for wars and hatred.

There is no doubt it is a complex issue. We will either get all the answers at our death, or we won’t.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2019 SaaS Deals Harmonizely is 50% off your first payment. It’s a good WhenWorks alternative. @macgenie

I took advantage of Apple’s Black Friday deals to buy a new Apple TV 4K. Then discovered I was only on the Netflix “HD” plan - not the “UHD” plan so had to give them more money. Meanwhile, Apple TV+ and Disney+ offer UHD by default for less than the basic Netflix plan! 📺

Microblogvember: 29 days into the challenge; 1 day to go. Fantastic!

Hope

Day 28 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

I hope my children have a good future. Challenges confront them large and small.

Some of my immediate hopes include:

  • they don’t fall in with the wrong crowd.
  • they develop deep friendships - the type where you can trust the other with your deepest secrets and fears.
  • they don’t fall down a drug vortex.
  • they find fun in their childhood.
  • they muddle through their difficult teen years.

Any prior generation to mine could probably stop there. Yet now I feel like our kids are faced with an existential crisis, the likes of which we have never battled before. I fear that the world they grow up in will be damaged and impacted by anthropogenic global warming, that will bring down all sorts of issues. In this sense, I hope:

  • their generation can actually recognise and respond to this ‘wicked problem’, as economist Ross Garnaut described climate change.
  • they don’t experience a dramatically less hospitable world in which to live.
  • they don’t experience wars and upheaval resulting from large-scale migration from inhospitable locations and a fight for diminishing resources.
  • they can still eat fish caught from the sea, hoping that they haven’t been fished to extinction.

It’s a worrying world. Some of my hopes for my children I can influence through effective parenting. Others are completely outside of my direct control. All I have is hope.

Microblogvember: Prices of property in Perth went through the roof a few years ago as we experienced a ‘mining boom’. They’ve settled down again now but houses are still way more expensive relative to income than they were a few decades prior.

I’m falling down the rabbit hole of encrypted internet services. First Keybase for messaging, then Standard Notes for notes and now Tresorit for file storage and secure sharing.

Loss

Day 27 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

I get frustrated when I lose something basic, like keys, glasses or my wallet. I have a designated ‘home location’ for these items. Despite that, they still seem to have a tendency to disappear from time to time.

It is the most frustrating kind of loss, because I know they have to be around somewhere. But that somewhere could be anywhere. The loss usually seems to occur when I’m in a rush to get out of the house. Murphy’s Law, hard at work.

Apple’s ‘Find My’ service is great for lost devices. Also great for lost spouses - it’s not stalking when you’re married! Unfortunately this service doesn’t work for keys and wallets. I’ve been tempted to buy some tiles, but I’m never feeling the pain of the loss when I’ve considered buying them, so I put it off.

I’m interested in the rumours about Apple developing a similar tile tracking device. Since I’m already all-in with Apple devices I imagine these would have great integration with everything else in the house. It might even make losing things fun, because no doubt it would integrate with the Find My app and probably make some gentle pinging noise to help me locate the item.

Losing things will always be annoying but if we can get some cool tech gadgets to offset that, then I’m all for it.


I literally finished writing this post, got up to put my bag away, and realised my wallet was missing. I found it, but not before suffering a mild anxiety attack. So frustrating,

Microblogvember: I may not be rich but at least I have my health. (Glass half full, glass half full…!)

Shoes

Day 26 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

I’m not a sneaker head by any means. Though there was a period when I was a teenager that I did pay a little more attention to the shoe world, and basketball shoes in particular.

Basketball Shoes

This was the era of Reebok Pumps and the original Air Jordans. When shoes were big and high tops were really high. Fluoro colours were cool. Modern design technology was getting started and companies were testing the limits.

The shoe I desired most during this era were the Nike Air Jordan V, in white. The blacks weren’t nearly as good. The white ones featured a silver feather inset on the side, and the way they had a thick side sole with some red flames just made them look brilliant. The mid-cut ankle made them look even more streamlined.1 These shoes were amazing. As much as I wanted them, though, our family budget said no.

Jordan 5

I did ultimately get a pair of Jordans. Unfortunately, they were the Air Jordan VIIs, which were about the ugliest version of Jordan’s released through that era. Oh well.

Jordan 7

My favourite basketball shoes ever were a pair of blue Reeboks. They were a lightweight material and were low-cut. They were incredibly comfortable. I was obsessed with blue shoes and these ones I got were fantastic. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of them at all. I’ve tried searching for them, to no avail. They were the greatest shoes I’ve ever worn, though.

Having worn these and many other basketball shoes over the years, I will say that Nike are the least comfortable shoe, while Adidas and Reebok tie for most comfortable.

Dress Boots

Outside basketball shoes, I had a pair of Doc Marten 8-holes, that were English-made. In fact, this was around 1997 so I don’t even think they were made anywhere but the UK. In any case, these shoes were absolute hell for about two weeks, ripping my feet up creating many blisters. I pushed through and they became the most comfortable boot I’ve ever owned.

Doc marten

Now I’m all grown up, and my favourite shoes now are a pair of RM Williams. These are great to wear but I’m going to go out on a limb and say they’re not as comfortable as the DMs.

Rm williams


  1. I wrote the description of this shoe from memory. I’ve now looked at a photo and I’m impressed by my descriptive accuracy. These shoes were heavily imprinted on my brain. [return]

Microblogvember: I enjoy reading my micro.blog feed because of the interesting mix of people I get to interact with.

A fresh look for your Microblogs, Twitter and Facebook Feeds – Inoreader

added a custom parser for Micro.blog JSON feeds extensions.

Awesome that Inoreader is specifically adding support for micro.blog. @manton

I watched the first episode of See and liked it. Not sure why it was so heavily criticised? 📺

I bought a UPS for my iMac today. The hardware seems fine but the software is some janky Java thing. I’m pretty sure I have to have it running to enable auto-shutdown though - there’s nothing standard built in to macOS, right?

Money

Day 25 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

I’m all right Jack keep your hands off of my stack
Money, it’s a hit
Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit
I’m in the high-fidelity first class traveling set
And I think I need a Lear jet

Pink Floyd, Money

Money is the great enabler. Its presence enables people to climb out of poverty. Others can build their ego collecting it. Some feel good giving it away. In acting as a proxy for elements of human behaviour and achievement, money allows us to communicate status, success and worth.

Money is a human construct. It is a renewable resource. It’s a shared fiction that relies on us to all believe for it to work. Fortunately we well and truly believe in it. In fact, we practically worship at its altar. It is the central and universal element upon which all of us must give consideration. Criminals, office workers, paramedics. Whatever one’s role in life, money is at the core.

Microblogvember: I am glad our kids feel safe and secure in their home. It’s sad that many kids must not.

Infrastructure

Day 24 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

Many years ago I was employed as an Advisor to our State Government’s Minister for Planning and Infrastructure. This followed previous work in the State Department of Transport and for a large grains cooperative which built, managed and utilised transport and logistics infrastructure.

Infrastructure is often taken for granted It’s reasonable to suggest that’s when infrastructure is working at its best. When people start talking about traffic or fresh water or power failures it usually means something has gone wrong at an infrastructure level. Not enough road capacity has been built, the desalination plant has failed or the baseload power generator failed to get a steady supply of fuel. There are teams of people across all the various infrastructure providers responsible for ensuring citizens don’t think about them or their service. Mostly, these people do a good job. Infrastructure management relies on effective processes driving preventative maintenance schedules. Combined with regular capital works investment to upgrade, improve and stay ahead of the demand curve, infrastructure ideally stays ahead of demand.

The ingenuity of humans, that we are able to build, design and operate infrastructure so effectively is incredible. Additionally we have been able to develop an economic system that incentivises delivery of services. This includes the ability for government to step in as a supplier where market conditions don’t support commercial operations.

Infrastructure is also the enabler of unrelated money-making projects. Without basics such as power, water and Internet access, Australia couldn’t support the development and operations of companies like Atlassian and Fastmail, to suggest two technology-based business examples. Infrastructure enables these and all other firms to employ people, generate profit, and pay taxes. Infrastructure firms, however, rarely (ever?) are afforded the status that is probably deserving of them. Mike Cannon-Brookes has become a billionaire but I can’t find any CEOs of infrastructure firms that have become billion-dollar poster children for their industry. Rather, infrastructure firms are the staid companies that superannuation firms love to buy shares in, as they deliver a boring, regular dividend stream.

So here’s to the infrastructure, and the people that work on it, that makes our lives better each and every day. Please keep up your yeoman’s work… even if it goes unnoticed and under-appreciated.

Microblogvember: I used Uber Pool yesterday. It was an enjoyable experience because I was paired up with great people. It’s not always bad to be in the company of strangers.

Toast

Day 23 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

John Siracusa built an empire talking about toasters, but what about the toast?

I like a slice of toast that is crispy on the outer but remains soft under that toasted exoskeleton. The bread should be a golden brown. I don’t want no black bits.

Onto that toast, slather some butter. It really should be butter. Margarine is a substitute that allows sufficient oiliness to support the subsequent spread of a condiment but in itself doesn’t taste good. A nice piece of toast is one that has butter - and only butter - lathered across it. This toast can be eaten as so and should bring some sweet joy to your morning.

You don’t want two pieces of buttered toast though. That buttered slice is the entree to the second more flavoursome slice. Here you can go two ways. If you want something sweet, run with peanut butter. I think it needs to be crunchy peanut butter and I want it spread on thick. Remember, it still needs butter first. Then get the peanut butter thick and gooey. If you’re going to have it go hard, or go home.

If you don’t fancy the sweet option, then the umami of Vegemite is what you need. The slightly salty, bitter taste of Vegemite is great. Vegemite has had its problems of late, but they do seemed to have reverted back to a better quality more recently. It’s not what it once was, but it is showing improvement.

You need to be careful not to spread Vegemite too thick. This is the mistake visiting Americans always make. Vegemite is the anti-peanut butter. Spread it thin.

Those two slices of toast, prepared that way, will get you off to a great start in the morning.

Now I’m hungry.

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