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Friday, December 28, 2012

Gun Control Reform

I have very strong views in favour of gun control,  so some people have labeled me a bleeding heart liberal. Those people have not walked in my shoes but believe that they know what makes me tick so I'm here to put forward my argument and set the record straight.

Firstly my argument. A gun of any description has been designed and developed with one objective in mind, 'to kill efficiently from a distance'. It has no ulterior use... even though it may have been beautifully and lovingly crafted by a talented engineer, it's purpose is to end life, stop life, remove life, take life.... it is an instrument of death and it is the preferred tool of the killer as it lends to stealth, distance and anonymity.

Every single criminal and or killer was a law abiding citizen up to the point that they broke the law and became a criminal and very often.... nay, too often that very first crime is the taking of a life therefore the argument that every law abiding citizen has the right to own a gun and has the right to use that gun to defend his home (an inanimate object), is moot.

Secondly to set the record straight. I know the power and safety one feels with a firearm that one knows intimately enough to dissasemble, clean and reassemble blindfolded. The firearm becomes an extension of oneself. I also know how it feels to be shot, to have ones life hanging in the balance because some madman wants to do nothing but end your life so badly that his whole being is focused on doing just that. 

I also know the feeling and the consequence of being for a brief moment that madman bent on the killing of another person, the rush of adrenalin and subsidence, the hollow feeling in the pit of one's stomach when gazing upon the lifeless face of the victim after a successful kill, with hands shaking so badly that they can barely hold the cigarette so desperately needed for it's calming.

I also know what it is to console a parent when their small child's life has been ended by a bullet fired from a gun assembled by the small child's slightly older cousin. One child dead the other lost to mental health issues and two families totally torn apart fifteen lives changed irrevocably forever - It would take a very callous soul to say, 'It's not the gun or the bullet that kills but the person!'

I have worked in Security (armed forces included for over 40 years) and over the last 30 have only drawn my firearm once, when an unseen worker started a jackhammer on top of the vault in a bank whilst I was investigating an alarm activation in the bank. 

I conducted an Australia wide survey for a large international security company in 2000 to find out statistically what was the effectiveness of firearms in the security industry (there was a move to disarm security guards as part of the gun law reform) I can hear the cries now that statistics can be manipulated to say whatever one wants but really that is the cry of the less educated and ill informed. 98% of reported incidents involving firearms within the security industry were of a negative nature and detrimental to the reputation of the industry. Ranging from the killing of innocent bystanders by security officers defending cash and bullion during an armed robbery to a disgruntled security officer fatally wounding a superior. 

I owned my own security company for over 12 years and refused to allow my staff to carry firearms unless required by our insurer which meant that I provided a safe working environment and we never had a single negative incident involving a firearm. I never once took my firearm home and would not allow my children to play with toy guns because to this day I have yet to see something good come from the use of a gun.

The bottom line is; controlling access to guns will reduce the number of fatalities caused by those same guns, this is not an emotive statement but pure mathematics.

Till next time God Bless.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Blog Update's

Now that the school holidays have begun here in Australia, although I still have one assignment due for this semester, the time has come to start preparing phase two of our new direction. I've started getting into the social media quite a bit of late as I experiment with marketing avenues. Using Google Analytics and so forth to measure interest in various posts, web design etc.

I can only imagine how much this is annoying some of my friends who will see my posts pop up in multiple locations simultaneously as I test the various social media links. I must say though that I am having a ball playing with this stuff, a nice distraction to all the software study.

I have spent a few hours updating my "Blogger" page and whilst this will no doubt have a negative impact on the search engines initially it will actually be an improvement for the future. I still have to spend more time tidying up those web pages and I will do so over the next month or so.

Time to move on to the advertising phase of our new enterprise. We have decided on a name "Lombard Design" and have developed our logo, keeping both name and logo simple.


We (Bonnie Ronnie and I) have decided on a theme and visual representation for our tag line which is "Captured moments in time" depicted below.


Now we need to get ourselves into print, yellow pages online I believe will be the most cost effective start. Once we start building a client base we will have the added advantage of advertising via our work which of course will be predominantly commercial.

The other thing I have to do is get a web page for this entity up and running by the end of the first week in January. I might have to keep it simple and ditch my idea of learning Joomla and Rockettheam for that site. Just a bit too much to cram into the little grey matter left between these old ears methinks:)

Till next time - God Bless.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Suicide

Yes the heading of this blog is a bit full on but I think it needs to be since the media is a little too full on with the word 'prank'. One can't help but notice that there is a lot of anger and animosity directed at the two radio announcers, who in their attempt at a little frivolity may have unwittingly played a part in events which led to a UK health worker taking her own life.

I've heard a number of people including some close friends suggest that these two radio announcers have blood on their hands, I would say what nonsense ....but rather I will say think for a moment, if this is true then we would all have blood on our hands wouldn't we? Society laugh at pranks and jokes and if ever you have laughed at one, does this not mean that you too have blood on your hands? What has happened is tragic but was brought about by a mental health issue.

A lot of people suffer mental health issues (suicidal tendencies and self harm fall under this category, neatly pigeon holed for society) and are able to keep those closest to them in the dark so to speak. This one event, the "Royal Prank" is hardly likely to be the only event in the life of this troubled health worker and is certainly not the cause of this tragedy. No doubt a cumulation of events over a period of time have played a significant part and this 'Royal Prank' may have been one of those events.

I believe that these two radio announcers are victims in this tragedy, not to the same extent as the family of the health worker but these events will now play a part in their mental health. What a vicious circle!
We speak out against bullying at school because of the negative impact on mental health and subsequent suicide rate but is this not bullying in the adult world and will it not also contribute to mental issues which may result in further suicides?

Think about it!

Till next time - God Bless.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Motivation

I'm not sure why I've even opened this blog page as I have no idea what I'm going to write about but thought I should write something.

I think that I just need a bit of a break from these courses - I've completed ten short certified courses with Lynda.com, am currently on my ninth assignment with Grenadi, second with Treehouse and have watched a number of photography tutorials (and practiced most) over the last three months but have not touched my Murdoch course as I await a reply to my deferral request. In the meantime I'm becoming quite comfortable with the Mac and switching between it and Windows 7 on my laptop.

On the negative side I have fallen off my training schedule and regime again. For some reason I just can't seem to get myself into a proper schedule and routine. I feel so disorganised and disjointed perhaps I need a bit of military dicipline to get myself back on track and this feeling is that much stronger at the moment because of some inspiration from a clip I watched this morning.  Whilst catching up with my friends and family on Facebook today I came across this clip and almost flicked by but I didn't and you have to see this - Words cannot express how amazing this video is. For anyone doubti - amazing is an understatement.

I've just watched it again while testing the link I added and am still in awe. I am now motivated to set myself a new goal and I am going to make sure that it is at least a worthy goal. I think that my motivation issue is because I have achieved the original goals that I set myself, I can walk all day even with a pack on the back (providing I rest frequently) and I can jog a hundred metres although my right leg certainly gives me curry. So starting today I'll develop a strict training regime for my legs, while I can't unblock the main arteries, I can certainly force more blood flow through the smaller veins and capillaries increasing their capacity.

Oh yeah - pumped now! 

Till next time God Bless.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Awakening


I was thinking about the huge changes that have taken place in my life over the last couple of years when I came upon the following post on Facebook by Alan Garrity, which describes to a tee the transformation that has taken place in my life. As Alan says, "I hope it helps someone through their bad times."
There comes a time in your life when you finally get it... when in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out "ENOUGH!
Enough of the wishing, fighting and crying, or, the struggling just to hold on.
This is your awakening.

You realize that it is time to stop hoping and waiting for something or someone to change, or for happiness safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that there aren't always fairytale endings (or beginnings for that matter) or any guarantees of "happily ever after.”

So you begin making your way through the "reality of today" rather than holding out for the "promise of tomorrow."

You accept the fact that you are not perfect, and that not everyone will love appreciate or approve of who or what you are ... and that's OK ... they are entitled to their own views and opinions.

You stop trying to compete with the image inside your head or agonizing over how you compare. And, you take a long look at yourself in the mirror and you make a promise to give yourself the same unconditional love and support you give so freely to others. Then a sense of confidence is born of self-approval.

And, you stop maneuvering through life merely as a "consumer” hungry for your next fix, or looks of approval and admiration from family, friends or even strangers who pass by.
And you begin to love and to care for yourself. You stop engaging in self-destructive behaviors, including participating in dysfunctional relationships.
You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and exercising. And because you've learned that fatigue drains the spirit and creates doubt and fear, you give yourself permission to rest.

Then you learn about love and relationships - how to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving, and when to walk away.
You learn that people don't always say what they mean, or mean what they say, intentionally or unintentionally, and that not everyone will always come through...
You learn how to say "I was wrong" and to forgive people for their own human frailties. You learn to build bridges instead of walls and about the healing power of love as it is expressed through a kind word, a warm smile or a friendly gesture.
And, at the same time, you eliminate any relationships that are hurtful or fail to uplift and edify you. You stop working so hard at smoothing things over and setting your own needs aside. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK and that it is your right to want or expect certain things.
You learn that you don't know all the answers, and it's not your job to save
the world, and that sometimes you just need to.... Let Go.

Moreover, you learn to look at people as they really are and not as you would want them to be, and you are careful not to project your neediness or insecurities onto a relationship.
You learn that just as people grow and change, so it is with love and relationships, and that that not everyone can always love the way you would want them to. So you stop appraising your worth by the measure of love you are given.
You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn that "alone" does not mean "lonely" and you begin to discover the joy of spending
time "with yourself" and "on yourself."

You learn that life isn't always fair and you don't always get what you think you deserve, and you stop personalizing every loss or disappointment.

And you stop looking for guarantees, because you've learned that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected... and that whatever happens, you'll learn to deal with it...
Most of all… Be kind and gentle to yourself.
Till next time, God Bless!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gratitude

November the 22nd was Thanksgiving in the US and for those of us who live in other parts of the world the celebration is not a custom for us unless heavily influenced by US ex-pats. However the emerging and booming social media has brought it into the lives of most english speaking westerners.

Of course having never celebrated "Thanksgiving" and as an African Australian (Would 'Afro-Australian' be a more politically correct term? I wonder.) I knew very little of the celebration and surmised that it was introduced by early Western Christian settlers in the America's as some sort of 'Harvest Celebration' whereby a feast was shared with the indigenous population to honour God and give thanks for the bounty.

I have family now who have planted their roots in America and Canada... and other parts of the world of course but since this is a celebration that my US and Canadian family have embraced I felt compelled to actually find out what it is all about. At first it seemed that my assumptions had been incorrect as my initial searches only revealed copious quantities of recipes, food, consumption and turkeys. In fact I found quite a few references to "Turkey Day" and couldn't help wondering if "Thanksgiving" was actually about giving thanks as the name suggests.

After digging a little deeper however I did find that my initial assumption had been fairly correct and of course it (Thanksgiving) is no longer considered to be a "Christian" festival in honour of God as the supplier of the bountiful harvest. It seems that there is no clear distinction as to who the thanks is to be given to - hence the introduction of the term "Turkey Day"and any reference to Christianity and or God seems to invoke hot debate amongst non-Christian's.

Of course I am in favour of giving thanks for our bounty to our creator and so embrace the notion and concept of a "Thanksgiving" celebration. I, being a Christian give my thanks to God for the bountiful blessings that he bestows on me everyday. What you do and who you wish to thank is entirely up to you, be it the turkey, sun or whatever, thats your right as my belief is mine.

The reason I titled this blog post "Gratitude" is twofold, one - to express my view and support of "Thanksgiving" and two - to express my amazement at the ignorance, (or as the poets would say) nay... stupidity of some members of the Queensland populace.

Queensland is notorious for severe storms at this time of year and in recent years has seen many cyclones, hail, dust, deluge, lightning strikes and flooding to up to 75% of the state on occasion. Two years ago I, along with a whole lot of people were surprised by Queensland weather when Toowoomba a city on top of the mountain, flooded and entire towns were washed away. So to be surprised by the weather after this defies logic. In fact I would go so far as to say that there are only two weather conditions in Queensland, Perfect or Severe and the adage "Queensland - beautiful one day and perfect the next" rings true for the most part but at this time of the year, dark clouds that look heavily pregnant and especially with a green tinge are about to give birth to a severe storm - without doubt!

So last week we had a bunch of Queenslanders (a minority fortunately) that went about their business under heavily pregnant skies, totally oblivious to the howling wind, vivid green sheen on black cloud, rolling thunder from the horizon following a light display to die for. These cute little morons were caught totally unawares when the storm struck and were unprepared for its severity - they immediately pointed the finger at the bureau of meteorology and blamed them for their woes as the Bureau had supposedly been slow in putting out a severe weather warning. 

I saw and heard the Weather Bureau's severe storm warning and it was about 45 minutes before the storm's severity struck us but I knew 3-4 hours earlier that there was a storm on the way, would it be severe?, no idea at first but there was a fairly good chance it would be, a strong westerly on a fairly clear sky usually means something big is coming over the Darling (love that name) mountain range.

Sorry but I can't help thinking, what an ungrateful bunch of retards as I give thanks to God that we were not adversely effected by the storm.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wonderful world

Yesterday I clocked up another year but more importantly another heart strong day (number 768 since my 15th heart attack) I am truly blessed. Life! Of course the majority of us who have it want to hang on to it for as long as possible but believe me, when someone tells you that you have exceeded your quota.... it becomes more precious than anything!

As a result, my Bonnie Ronnie and I planned and went on a holiday around this wonderful planet of ours from July 2011 to February 2012 for a number of reasons, the primary being a quest to connect with as many family members as possible whom we had not seen for 30 years and in some cases over 40 years. We decided that since I was on 'borrowed time' we would fill our bucket at the same time, well as much as possible. We kept a blog and there is a link to 'Ridgeback Ramblings' on the right of this blog for those who may be interested.

As you know, life throws all sorts at us and it's quite easy to lose track of the big picture and focus just a little too closely on ourselves and our own importance becomes.... shall we say, a little bit more than a tad distorted. I started getting a little bent out of shape with a web hosting company earlier in the week slipping back into my old less appreciative ways till I remembered exactly who I am.... I thought of the eclipse which had grabbed the headlines and I stood and looked at the stars, the majority of which dwarf our earth by astronomical proportions (pun intended) and I am but a microscopic speck on this earth. Bang... what a reality check!!

Anyway a few months ago I applied for a scholarship or two with some learning institutions so that I could increase my knowledge on the subject of design and perhaps even obtain some sort of formal qualification (which I must admit at my age isn't really important - but the challenge is!). I also applied to a few institutions in the hope of getting some sort of government funded assistance and acceptance. This paid off with Grenadi School of Design in Melbourne accepting me and the government allowed me to take advantage of a learn now pay later system. The course has been going great guns, I started a bit behind and am still a bit behind but its early days yet.

Well a couple of days ago I received an email advising me that I had won a two year Gold Scholarship with Treehouse, an international online learning facility. Now you are probably thinking well you've already got a course but you will probably give that away for the scholarship, right? .... Wrong! The Grenadi course is a broad design course for advertising and multimedia (the only one of it's kind in Australia.) and the Treehouse design course is for web and apps which includes learning coding (I did learn a bit of this 20 years ago but things have changed a bit.... ya think!) So I'm going to have a crack at both, whats the worst that can happen?

There is so much beauty on this wonderful world of ours, not all as accessible as we would like mainly because of the cost involved but you don't have to travel to the other side of the planet to discover it's true beauty - people! Yes there are very many beautiful places to visit if you can afford to and my advise would be ... go to it and don't spare the horses for you don't know what is around the corner, what life .... or death ... may have in store for you. But while you are at it, staying local or travelling, take a long hard look at the people whose paths you will cross and I guarantee you will be amazed!

Yes I know that there is a lot of anger, hurt and sadness in this world but if that is all you are going to look for .... don't be surprised when that is all you find. Look for the good, the courageous and the beautiful and I guarantee you will find beauty. The most wonderful person that God breathed life into is my little wife, my Bonnie Ronnie, she is my rock. (Sure we have our moments too, none of us is perfect after all but that doesn't alter the facts.) Today Ronnie posted a clip of an Anre RIEU concert a marvellous violinist and entertainer. This man's orchestra is wonderful, the entertainment is perhaps a little old school but there is no denying the fun that entertainers and audience alike share. The language is that of love and music - international. We have never been to any of his shows but we are planning to attend (God willing) when next he comes to Australia. This is a reminder of the beauty in this world, have a look.

Till next time - God Bless.


Monday, November 5, 2012

A Camera Raw First

Our daughter Candice ('Noisie' is my nickname for her) celebrated her birthday on Saturday so my Bonnie Ronnie and I decided to visit her and husband Brett in Nanango for a couple of day's. We thought this would be a good opportunity to familiarise ourselves a little more with the camera's and lenses in the country.

In the meantime our son Jason ('Jay') has had to lay off an employee and this has added pressure to his workload so he and his wife Natalie ('Nat') needed a much deserved break and planned for the grandparents to take the children for the weekend. Since Noisie loves her little nephew Lachlan ('Locky') we all decided that it would be a nice treat to take Locky to Nanango for the weekend. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on ones perspective, Caydence ('Cades') would be with her biological mother for the weekend thus giving Locky free reign over the household.

Brett and Noisie have recently relocated to a new rental property, again out of town but on the opposite side. The previous house was riddled with wood borer discovered when Brett fell through the flooring in Caydence's bedroom. Whilst these old Queenslander houses are quite attractive, they do require significant ongoing maintenance and it seems that the owner couldn't be bothered. The new house is brick under iron, not as attractive and lacks the character and charm of the old Queenslander but warmer, more secure and less maintenance. They still have 5 acres and once again have a dam.

Noisie reckons that this was the best birthday ever since she had Locky for a couple of days, she really enjoys his company as he is 'less complicated than the girl's'. I think Locky enjoyed himself more than anyone since he was the centre of attention.

We were given the royal tour and took a lot of photographs, some of which we have included, others will be posted to our Facebook page. We have tried to keep them interesting as we practice our post production technique using Adobe's Bridge and the Camera Raw format. This is a first for us, using  the new Apple platform and Adobe software so please feel free to critique our work ....any and all feedback will be appreciated. :)

















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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

InDesign delight

I'm having a ball with this new InDesign CS6. Of course the learning curve is huge as I was used to using applications such as Microsoft's 'Publisher' on a Microsoft 'Windows' platform but I do remember how powerful other platform's such as unix and linux were compared with the more popular but less efficient Microsoft products.

No! I'm not about to bag the heck out of Microsoft, not that they don't deserve it but I am having a wonderful time with my iMac which is running OS X v10.8.2 Lion with a 3.4 GHz  Intel Core i7 with 16GB 1333 MHz DDR3 Memory literally right next to my Trooper Pry-GFX8123 AMD FX 3.1 GHz Window 7 with 16 GB Memory and Dual liquid cooled Radeon HD 6800 Graphics cards - Gaming Machine.

Both are really quick machines but the graphics on the iMac (nothing special, stock standard actually) are simply blowing away the gaming machine which needs to constantly have the drivers reloaded. Windows 7 updates require frequent restarts and invariably require that I remove one display driver and refresh the hardware configuration which in turn reloads the missing driver and re-sync's the display thereby fixing it once again.

Having bored everyone to tears with the above comparison, brought about primarily by Microsoft's launch of 'Windows 8', I will boor everyone just a little longer as I say that I am looking forward to trying out this revamped old platform but am more than a little sceptical of the old 'Microsoft Hype' as I recall frustrating and unrealistically expensive flops such as 'Vista' and other equally frustrating and equally expensive, previous 'incompatible' platforms such as 'CE',  'Windows 2000' and the early 'Windows 98'. But.... I'll be trying it on the Trooper since I no longer have a use for it and not on my laptop which I do use frequently, after all one does not place a valued tool at risk on the advice of a known prevaricator.

While catching up on overdue assignments with Grenadi and having tremendous fun in the process I have been boosting the learning curve through 'lynda.com' and I do believe that this is what is making it so enjoyable. Yes there is a small cost but I do have to say it is without doubt the best value for money that I have ever received. I find the video tutorials well structured and the Authors delivery without exception to be fantastically clear and concise. I have learnt so much in a very short space of time and with the ability to bookmark both movie and time code I have any information that I need to review or revisit well organised and easy to recap... believe me at this stage in my life this is essential, the old brain is not the sponge it used to be, sadly!

Today I submitted my fourth Grenadi assignment a couple of days ahead of time but I'm about 4 days behind on the fifth tutorials. The weather has been a little overcast with the odd fine sprinkle making it ideal study weather so I've no doubt that I'll get caught up this week. 

Ronnie and I are hoping to spend a couple of days with our little girl and her family for her 31st birthday this weekend. We might even get a chance to take some good photographs with a bit of luck but if not, ....not to worry there is no rush:)

Till next time, God bless.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Enjoying Grenadi

You are probably wondering what a Grenadi is. Grenadi School of Design is the institute that I am doing my course through. The course that I'm doing is 'Advanced Diploma in Advertising and Graphic Design (Online)' which is a three year full time course using multimedia. Grenadi's main campus is in Melbourne Victoria but I have noticed that there are quite a number of students from my neck of the woods (so to speak) undertaking the same course. I have managed to look at each of their profiles and have to say they did make me feel old, outclassed  and not just a little daunted. I quickly pulled my thoughts into line though with old cliche's like "you're never too old to learn" and  "I have the advantage of (a helava lot more) life experience''.  The most important thing though in all seriousness is to have fun with it and enjoy myself.

I must say that whilst I still suffer from self over-performance expectations (I think in part brought about through an unrealistic desire to win my Father's ever elusive approval. Dad used to say, "Aim damned high so that when you inevitably fall short you're not seen as a total failure but remember Peter that a miss is as good as a mile and if you're not first you may just as well be last")  I am slowly learning to ease up on myself and have some fun. Even my children say that I'm mellowing and I can't tell you how much that encourages me. I suspect that whilst I have never wanted to put that sort of pressure on my own children, I probably have even though I have made a point of telling them how proud of them I am and how much I love them. They are the best!

Anyway I digress, back to Grenadi. So whilst it has only been a week of study, I have managed to thoroughly enjoy myself and catch up on two of the three assignments that I was behind on. The first assignment has even been graded and "Satisfactory" will do me just fine,  I'm feeling pretty stoked.

I have a couple of home projects on the go so I'll take some time out to work on them today. My Bonnie Ronnie want's an arts and crafts area for her scrapbooking and we also need a small photographic studio. We have decided that utilising the same space for both is not practical so we will use the garage for the photo-studio and one of the bedrooms for Ronnie's art's and crafts. We want to try and make the photo-studio portable but we need to familiarise ourselves with the equipment thoroughly so it's going to be setup in the garage for a while initially. The plan is then to take our little photo-studio on the road as we offer our niche market services to small business as a low budget but cost effective professional marketing and advertising service. 

Till next time - take care and God Bless.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Playing Catchup

The last couple of weeks have had its high's and lows. My Bonnie Ronnie came down with the flu which would be bad enough but she managed to get an eye infection and an ear infection and of course she is a loving, caring and sharing person so passed on the inflictions to me.

I had planed to take Ronnie on BBB (Big Blue Bertha - our 1600 Kawasaki Nomad) to an exclusive restaurant on the Sunshine Coast for her Birthday with the surprise of friends that we have not seen for 20 years joining us for the day. Sadly however I had to cancel the reservation as the eye infection was getting worse. Unfortunately I practically live on these computers so the eye infection was devastating as I could barely read the screen even with magnifying glasses, the constant streaming and scratchy feeling drove me to distraction. This put me a further week behind in my course so now I have missed three assignments and am as many weeks behind. I've got to put nose down and bum up to catch up:)

On the bright side our friends of old were not at all concerned about our illness or infections and told me that wild horses couldn't keep them away so they hired a car to surprise Ronnie at home. When the doorbell rang I told Ronnie I couldn't see past my nose and she would have to answer it. Well, you should have seen her face when she opened the door to Bill and Fiona standing there singing Happy Birthday. Did I take photo's? wish I could have but my sight really was a mess and the last thing I wanted to do was try and focus a camera ....so we did manage a couple of snapshots later for Facebook.

Today has been spent catching up on email, my favourite inspirational blogs, sorting a few more of the holiday photo's and converting all the MTS format files to MP4 for the Mac...... what a pain in the rear this is!

After lunch I'll have a crack at the first of these assignments - Aussie flag and wine commercial, should prove interesting but hopefully not too challenging as I'm still a bit wasted from this bronchitis.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Back to school

Well I should know within the week if my application to iLearn is successful. There are only 10 positions left for the 'Advanced Diploma of Advertising & Graphic Design for Multi-Media'. I'm so excited it's ridiculous... feel like a kid on Christmas eve.  Staying positive - I then have to suspend my studies through Murdoch University. I don't want to give them up completely just yet, sort of hang on to something I know is a walk in the park until I'm comfortable with the new road I've chosen.

In the meantime my Bonnie Ronnie and I have had a chance to get closer to our family, visiting children, cousins, aunt's and uncle's and since the grandkids have been on school holidays we have had a great time having them stay over, separately - a lot more pleasant to have some one on one time with therm. I take my hat off to Nat (my daughter-in-law and mother to the quads and Cameron) and Jay (my son) who live a life of organised chaos at best. In amongst this my son Jay and I have managed to find time to take in a couple of movies at the cinema.... life is AWESOME!

Locky (eldest grandson) had a bee in his bonnet over some 'Fireman backpack' and since he is only six he know's exactly what he is talking about whilst everyone else is somewhat at a loss. The weather was great and Ronnie and I wanted to spend some time with him at the beach whilst getting familiar with camera's and lens's etc. sort of combine our two loves, which we did. We subsequently posted a few photo's on Facebook to the family's delight. Every time we stopped to catch our breath Locky would ask if we would take him shopping for this 'Fireman backpack' and we of course would humour him by going into the shopping centres looking for this item each time we passed by a shopping centre, on our side (nearside) of the road. Needless to say half the weekend was spent wandering around in the various toy sections where dozens of substitutes for the desired item could be found.... all at the most outrageous prices (If I don't say this I'll be broke next week - lol) but no sign of the desired item which I must admit I was beginning to believe was a product of his active imagination.

Jay popped over early one morning to upgrade our security system and we all got to talking about this 'fireman backpack' which resulted in Dad promising to take Locky to Chermside Target (deduced by dad to be the 'tall target building' that Locky kept referring to.) These kids don't miss a trick I tell you, Dad was held to his word and sure enough the next time Locky visited, it was with his 'Fireman backpack' on his back. "This is not the exactly one ....fire-man backpack poppy" he declared, as he started pulling it apart to show me "..but it's got this cool ... um... canon". He was as happy as Larry!

Unfortunately when the girls Hayl's and Tilly stayed over, the weather was miserable and both had colds so we spent time indoors for the most part instead of the beach. At this age (six) they of course want to do everything one of the others has done and so Hayley would frequently ask, "Pops... can we go swimming at the beach .. um ... like .. Locky?" - must say I just love the way she call's me "Pops". We did manage to take them to the Redcliffe Pier so they could see the beach and the sea but the good weather window was small so the visit was short. 

Back to school for the kids tomorrow, me included.... well I'm young at heart and I am a student, haha!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Social Media

I came across a clip recently on the advantages of marketing through social media and twitter in particular, The clip is very slow with a little too much bla.. bla.. and if one can stay tuned, interesting... but what struck me was the attention to detail by Richard Merritt an artisan of hand crafted fountain pens. I went looking for Richard's web site for some inspiration only to find that his site is no longer, just goes to show that it's a tough world out there.

I think that one can become overawed by the sheer number of talented artists and artisans marketing themselves and their product online through the social media which in itself is growing with many new app's.  The advantage that one gains with the advent of a new marketing medium or even strategy can be quickly lost as people jump on the proverbial band wagon.

The most successful marketing appears to come down to timing more than anything else, this is not to say that strategies and all the other elements are not important but we all know by now that it's not the best quality product or service that wins out. People have so many choices today and these choices are provided by companies attempting to find their niche and actually hoping for more than one. Large companies will attempt to muscle out any competition and even influence legislation to minimise the choices to the public at large.

In Australia the banks (the big four) have this down to a pretty fine art and are becoming a little cocky with their success, to the point that they no longer follow the Reserve Bank's lead or advice and rather than focusing on growth for the overall good of society and a tidy margin for themselves, they focus on profit and profit alone for the sake of profit. I believe that this is very dangerous as I think about world history repeating and some of the revolutions that have taken place when the greed of the wealthy becomes too much for the poor and disadvantaged to bear.

I see on the world news that there are a number of growing groups that are beginning to gain notoriety and with that notoriety comes support which I have no doubt will develop into a global movement against the disparity between the 'have's' and the 'have-not's'. Unfortunately this disparity is not minor or growing at a slow but steady rate, it is spiralling out of control and on the brink of creating a global financial melt down. The sad thing is that only the 'have-not's' will bring it into check because once greed takes hold, nothing but poverty can bring it into check.

You are probably wondering how I have gone from marketing and the social media to global upheaval in five paragraph's. I tend to think about consequences and ramifications an awful lot and even more so now that I have a little life experience under the belt. I'm well aware that some of the decisions that we make in our lifetime are very serious with dire consequences that cannot be changed no matter what and others can only be changed at great expense. 

Now what once was only one social media application with more pro's than con's is now at least ten social media applications with just as many con's as pro's...... It is no longer possible to utilise them all efficiently regardless of the minimal financial cost, there simply are not enough hours in the day so it comes back to making choices. Which of the social media will be most effective and cost efficient (time as well as financial) to meet my needs? Where do I need to position myself in relation to my financial responsibilities and needs moving forward?

I have created a portfolio for myself on Fine Art America's web site because it is at the top of the google (and other's) search engine. Of course the 46,000 artists who are already registered with their own portfolio's, were instrumental in the site's ranking. The first goal is to get into the top 10,000... and always looking at the positive... I'm currently in the top 50,000:)

I'll start off by linking everything back to that portfolio I think and use Facebook along with twitter to help promote and market my art for a start. In the meantime I'm moving from PC to Mac and Coral to Adobe so I've a pretty big learning curve on the go.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stanford Who's Who

Quite some time ago I applied for inclusion to Stanford Who's Who to better market my professional experience. To my pleasant surprise I recently received a call from them advising that I had been short listed for a telephone interview.

It was a wonderful opportunity and I seized it with both hands. What a great interview to promote my 40 plus years as a security provider, adviser and consultant. When it comes to accreditation I learned a long time ago to dumb it down, people feel threatened by those who have academic achievements and this can make life pretty uncomfortable.

So why try to promote oneself through a 'who's who', especially a world renowned organisation based in the big apple? ...for the networking potential of course. This as an opportunity to network with other like minded successful people and their organisations. One can't buy experience but one can take advantage of the experienced individual's teaching.

I really am tickled pink as I didn't expect a look in let alone inclusion when I advised my interviewer that I am trying to move away from security and focus on my passion - art. This is going to open new doors for me I believe and where it will lead, who know's but it's exciting!

Now I have to see if I can transfer my current studies away from security, counter terrorism and toward graphic art. I hope the Uni is going to be as obliging with me as they have been in the past. Why do I do these courses and studies if I'm not going to advertise them. The answer is simple, I do them for me.... to challenge myself and to keep me motivated. My brother Guy understands this, we tend to set goals for ourselves, tough ones and we get a huge buzz out of achieving them if and when we do ...cut from the same cloth I suppose. Anyway enough about this.

I had a wonderful fathers day. Firstly my daughter invited me to the Nanango  Markets which are held monthly and she was right I had a great time... Thanks for the cap 'Noisie'. Brett wanted us to stay a little longer but I really did need to get back to put my fitness training regime back on track. I tend to let things slide a bit if I get off the regime and have found I'm fine as long as I can measure the results and stick to the timetable, let either slip and I'm in real trouble as my motivation takes a nose dive.

On our way home from Brett and Candice on fathers day my son 'Jay' called, wished me as I did him and invited my Bonnie Ronnie and I to dinner. Well we had a wonderful time with the grandchildren, Nat, Jay and Charlie (Nat's father) at the Warner Tavern. I got to play my favourite character 'tickle monster' for the grand kids and it seems all the kids at the tavern that night... I think a few of the parents were more than a little concerned for their precious bundle's of joy with the level of shrieking that only a child about to vacate their bladder can produce.

The kids must have had a ball cause they tried to drag me back into the play area after I begged off through exhaustion.

I did take some pics but I'm really struggling to get through sorting all the holiday pic's that I'll give them a miss this time. I will make up for it and attach some at a later date.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Family Time

The last week was very productive in that we visited the Petrie Pioneer Village and found a clay workshop with a number of kilns that run art classes for both sculpting and wheel. Never having had an art lesson in my life I thought it would be a good idea to enrol for the classes (both wheel and sculpting). I have had a little success with sculpting in the past but all too frequently the work has been ruined because I've had little idea on how to remove frames without destroying the work.

I once sculpted a bust of my Bonnie Ronnie but she asked me to make a change which resulted in the work cracking. I did take a couple of photos before committing the clay back to the pail though and if I can find them will add them to my Facebook page or the new web page which I am about to start. I am really looking forward to this new adventure in clay and learning the techniques that will help complete and preserve what is often day's of painstaking work.

I've registered the new domain and found a reasonable host but have absolutely no idea of what I want for the layout so I might just start with something pretty basic and just see where I go from there. I love doing stuff with little or no planning, I get this sense of freedom and excitement. Now that I have little input to business and my health is improving I am really starting to enjoy not living the work.... there is no hurry to do anything, no deadlines and certainly no scheduling time down to the second while trying to squeeze 48 hours into 24. Much more time for the most important activity of all.... Living life to the full! with the most important people in the world... Family and Friends! neither of which are renewable.

What a fantastic weekend we just had with all but one family member present (Cades). Candice was down in Brisbane for a new bookkeeping course which only finished yesterday so she spent Friday and Saturday night with us, Brett managed to swing some shifts and came down with Rosie (the pooch, she's a bitsa but a lovable pooch none the less) to spend Saturday night with us as well.

Candice had planned to take Ronnie and Nat to the movies on Saturday so Saturday morning I took my son Jay to the movie's, we haven't done that for 20 years and we will be doing it a lot more frequently now. We then sped home so that the ladies wouldn't be late for their afternoon matinee. The girls Hayley and Matilda were away spending time with Granddad (Natalie's father) while the boys Locky and Cammy stayed home to spend time with Poppy (yours truly). Ronnie wasn't sure that the movie choice would be her cup of tea so decided to stay with the men till shopping time....The ladies had a shopping expedition planned for the late afternoon and apparently that went well. I left a little early to ensure that we had supplies for a Sunday BBQ.

I should have had a look at the state of the BBQ which had not been used in over a year on Saturday... I wouldn't have needed to rush as much getting a filthy BBQ back into almost 'pristine'? condition.... Anyway we had a blast with everyone talking over each other while kids went ballistic. The only down side was that Nat had to take little Hayley with stomach cramps up to the hospital emergency before coming to the BBQ. It turns out that little Hayley has a rather nasty dose of gastric enteritis, which is doing the rounds.

I have just put my Bonnie Ronnie to bed with a dose of the same illness, and she hasn't even fully recovered from the bronchitis yet, poor bugger - she can't keep any food down and is freezing cold.














Don't often see kids climbing tree's - AWESOME!




 



I really love old cart's and equipment - don't be surprised to see this pic on my art page.







A shame - no Hot Rods on the day.
.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Old Passion

The last few days have been fantastic, apart from the residual effects of this flu, bronchitis which neither Ronnie nor I have been able to shake. Candice, Brett and Caydence stayed overnight and we had the pleasure of Caydence's company for a day while the adults were in court once again (Custody battle for Caydence which we won't elaborate on). They have promised a social visit in a couple of weeks.

It was a mad scramble at the last minute to get a spare room and some bedding space for the little one sorted in our little house of abundant removal boxes but we did it, must say we work well as a team with plenty of leg pulling and light hearted banter when the pressure is on. It was wonderful to have the kid's over even if the circumstances weren't the best.

We had a wonderful day with Cades looking for doctors, parks and playgrounds. Played a lot of 'I spy' at the doctors which is not so easy in a rather sterile waiting room but made up for it at a couple of playgrounds which resulted in a pooped poppy and hungry child.... wish I could recharge my batteries by filling hollow legs with super food fuel. All too quickly the day was over, the kids returned a little dejected - 'no! the other party had a change of heart again and so rather than finalising, the battle is to begin afresh' was the news. There are no winners and the biggest loser is the child as long as the battle continues - but I'm pretty sure we have enough love to overcome any obstacle for we trust in Jesus and his grace.

I started putting together a facebook page - I figured that I could share my 'New Beginning' from the start and promote myself cause I am going to have to make a living from my Art somehow. I am definitely not looking at this as a commercial venture and whilst we don't need much we do need to eat and we will also need supplies. I may look at web design as a commercial venture, that way I'll not be moving too far from my passion(s).

I started looking around for some art supplies, bearing in mind that I have a very broad passion and love most forms of artistic expression having tried/been a wood-carver, sculptor, potter, painter, drafter, tattooist, cinematographer, photographer, glass-etcher and furniture designer amongst other things. Our area is quite large and there are quite a few craft shops but they are better suited to Ronnie's scrapbooking and needlepoint which would have put my Mom in her element (although I'm pretty sure that she is in her element with Jesus).

Anyway I found a little art supply store that will meet some of my needs quite nicely and so started with an easel, sketch pads, pencils, a few brushes and some paint. One thing that I've wanted to try for some time now is a bit of inlay work and I have a bit of an idea.... I still have a couple of pencil sketches from the seventies that have survived thanks to Bonnie Ronnie.... the idea is getting stronger. We have a couple of lovely coffee/side tables that need protecting so I might make some covers....  enough said. I'll begin work on this today and show the result, if it's good.

In the meantime I better get back to sorting out our living space, shed and garage.

Friday, August 3, 2012

New Beginning's

Our lives have been turned upside down and inside out for quite a while now but over the last few weeks it has been especially trying.

Ronnie and I contracted a rather viscous dose of this new flu virus (this particular strain causes bronchitis, diarrhoea and vomiting in addition to the normal symptoms) three weeks ago just as we were finalising the sale of our house and organising our relocation to Brisbane. My Bonnie Ronnie is really struggling to get over this illness and her chest still sounds pretty bad, worse than mine in fact.

We have had numerous, tremendous offers of help with our move but have had to actively discourage people and turn down their kind offers as we could not possibly subject anyone to this virus let alone our most helpful friends and family. I must say that Les and Cathy (senior relatives) would have none of our protests and helped us unpack once the move had been made and provided us with a most welcome home cooked meal (a nice break from our diet of fast food during this difficult time.) The assistance is greatly appreciated although we are more than a little concerned for their well being.

The sale of the house was not straight forward as our Mortgagee gave everyone the run around with a rude and obnoxious attitude the whole time. As usual I opened my big mouth and voiced my dissatisfaction which .... surprise, surprise... altered their ability to settle on the planned and agreed date. This in turn meant that we missed a payment date, incurred a penalty, late fees and additional interest - the net result, the sale price was not sufficient to even cover settlement costs. So not only did we lose a significant sum including 6 years of equity but had to pay extra for the privilege. Mind you, .....on the up side, we are rid of the Mortgagee from hell! at last!

Where to from here? That my friends is a good question.... I have no idea! I do know what I would like to do... when I was young and thought the world was my oyster, I used to draw ( free hand and drafting) and paint and experiment with photography and wanted more than anything to design and make Jewellery but life took one of those left turns, a war got into the mix and before I knew which end was up I had responsibilities, a family, little people who relied on me to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground and provide for them the best way possible - I took that responsibility very seriously and put my desires on the back burner, head down, bum up - nose to the grindstone. Then one day fairly recently (almost 3 years ago) I was listening to a surgeon telling me that I had a 2% chance of surviving beyond 30 minutes. 

This type of reality check has a way of causing one to stop and take a look around - my little one's have little ones of their own, while Bonnie Ronnie has two families that would love to care for her... I looked in my bucket, it was EMPTY! "Bugger all to kick there!" I thought. I prayed for an extension of time to make my bucket worth kicking, if it suited GOD's will. I have now been on the adventure of a lifetime ever since and even better, my Bonnie Ronnie is with me all the way.... albeit with some reservations from time to time:)

We are in our new rented house in Kallangur, within 15 minutes drive of grand-kids, cousins, aunts and uncles and some dear old friends from the old neighbourhood (Petrie of 20 years ago). A new start, a new adventure.... the unknown! Rather exciting especially since we know that it is going to be just as turbulent as was our new start in Australia 30 years ago, when stamina and determination were the order of the day, ... hehe.. this time wisdom and experience are the order of the day.

Our future is in GOD's hands for he has an AWESOME plan for us, of that I am certain, so charge your glass (champers, wine or even chocolate port) and toast with us to New Beginning's!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Birthdays in July

July is our family's month of birthday's, not only the most birthdays in any given month but they are all miracle birthday's and I love the fact that it is the seventh month because this is GOD's number and I am so blessed.

My son Jason (the child we could never have, the result of a motorcycle accident - mine) was born on the 5th July 1979, words cannot even begin to describe the joy we felt that day.

Jason and his wife Natalie were told that they too could not have children but with the aid of medical science there was a chance this obstacle could be overcome. I will never forget the joy we all shared when they broke the news of their success, Natalie was pregnant. This joy was to be doubled when a little while later it was announced that twins were expected but this was not the end of this wonderful news... there was more, as a short while later the news was upgraded to triplets. We were all overjoyed but daunted with the thought of this multiple birth.

About a week later Jay and Nat came to see me and both were heartbroken and distraught, Nat was expecting Quads..... yes this would be challenging but what a blessing. Devastatingly, the specialist had advised that it would be wise to consider 'selective reduction' and terminate two to give the other two a better fighting chance at survival and Jay and Nat were looking for some guidance and advice. I have to tell you that I was dumbfounded and speechless for a little while. "Choose, your words carefully Pete", I thought. Whatever I said at that point I would have to live with the consequences forever and it would irrevocably influence any decision that this heartbroken, beautiful young couple would make.

I told them that no matter who said what, the decision was theirs and theirs alone... in unison but that guidance would best be sought through prayer and their resulting conscience. I also said, "I don't know how anyone can ask a parent (I'm not going to get into any debate over the point that one becomes a parent suffice to say I believe it's at the point of conception) to choose which life to end and which to nurture". I went on to say, "I could not make that choice. I would have to leave the outcome to nature, in God's hands". I felt very honoured to have been approached by my children for guidance in such a serious and personal problem. To what extent those words influenced them I will probably never really know but I do know that their final decision was in line with my own and for that I am eternally grateful to them and the Lord.

Natalie went into labour early, after 26 week gestation - some 22 weeks early ("just viable" I believe was the terminology used) and on the 13th July 2006, weighing between 500 - 800 grams each were born Lachlan, Matilda, Hayley and Faith and so began a tremendous battle to nurture these four little lives to maturity. Sadly on the 15th (just two days later) Jay and Nat were given some personal time with Faith who was fading too quickly. I will never forget watching with heart shattering unbelievable sorrow, humility and respect as my Son carried the casket of his daughter Faith with dignity, from the Funeral service to the hearse.

The battle for life with the remaining three was taxing in the extreme but even the 'worst', if you can scale any of this, Hayley with a hole in the heart and subsequent damage to her larynx during the repair heart surgery has had it's tremendous successes and the joy felt at those times is beyond words. This past Friday the 13th, they all turned 6 and much fun was poked at the three turning 6 on black Friday the 13th. So much so that they were the headline story in the Toowoomba Chronicle (largest rag in the region) with headline "Three little Devils turn 666". None of them have any birthmarks of any sort by the way and they are our little angels, although a bit boisterous at times. The thing that saddens me is the often thoughtless term used to describe these three, Locky (Lachlan), Tilly (Matilda) and Hales (Hayley) as the "Triplet's". This seem to me to deny the existence of the fourth child - Faith, who's life although short, is celebrated at every occasion for she is still with us in spirit.

Also this month is the Birthday of our most recent Grandson "Cameron" who will be three, born on the 23rd July 2009 to Jay and Nat, the most miraculous of all the children for a number of reasons beginning with natural conception and despite additional scan's for problems was born with hypo-plastic left heart syndrome. So began the family's most challenging battle (the previous and ongoing battle with the Quad's would seem like a walk in the park by comparison, if one can scale these issues and challenges.) I have to say this little man has an AWESOME personality and has a smile that will melt a heart of stone. He is truly a miracle child determined to succeed. I can say honestly and truthfully that whenever I feel a little low, I think of Cameron and immediately give thanks to GOD for my own fortune and the blessing of this little man in my life for he is my hero. Anyone who can endure what this little man has and maintain that positive attitude is no less than a Saint.

I have not spoken much about Natalie in my blogs because Nat is a very private person who loves helping others, especially children but from the shadows. Recently she was instrumental in organising a return flight to Melbourne from Brisbane (Australia) for a very ill Heartkid, this is just who she is and in order to respect that privacy it is all I will say.

For the first time ever we stayed over at Jay and Nat's on Saturday night (we always feared adding to their burden so had declined previous invitations). We took sleeping bags but didn't have room in our little Yarris for much more after adding a few presents. The girls Tilly and Hales gave up their beds for us - very insistently I might add and they had determined who would sleep in which bed - something to do with the lingering odour I believe (in a positive sense), when I queried the process of determining the sleeping arrangements.

What an awesome weekend we had - I am so Blessed!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Move Preparation

Can't wait till this move is over, the preparation is a killer especially organising all the business records. A normal 9-5 weekday business would be hard enough but ours was 24x365 by 4 major security divisions with several hundred personnel records and several thousand client records all as confidential as all heck.

Boring as all buggery and oh so time consuming, can't just throw out old records, they have to be cross shredded and packaged for incineration in secure document destruction bins which in turn need to be collected and replaced in a timely fashion.

Thankfully we have now relocated all the hardware to Paul's facility where he is able to handle the daily business grind while sorting through the most recent of the client files. Actually it's not quite so bad as Ronnie and I have already been working on the audit for five months and we have more than 60% done. Last time we conducted an audit of this magnitude there were thirteen of us and that took almost a month, now two of us have three weeks to complete the task.

I have spent this last week re-organising all the electronic data into manageable portable redundant data bank modules which can be disposed of quickly and efficiently as it becomes obsolete. These computers and servers have been taxed to their limits as I push them to the max. Still a fair bit to do but we will get there in the end:)

Back to house hunting tomorrow.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Moreton Bay Fig Tree

Well, lots of news this week. Quite a few big things but the blog will be kept short and sweet as time is the enemy at this time of year in Australia... our End of Financial is June 30.

Starting off with a couple of picture's, we (Bonnie Ronnie) and I came across this enormous Moreton Bay Fig Tree while looking for a house in Redcliff, a suburb of Brisbane Queensland. I almost took the house just for the opportunity to live close to this tree, had a mental picture of the Grandkids and I climbing all over this grand old tree. (When I was a kid you would have had to tie me down to prevent me climbing this tree, my imagination would have turned this into a Pirate's Galleon.... watch-out 'Bluebeard', 'Blackbeard' and 'Pugwash').  

Magnificent Fig Tree isn't it?


Sadly... Yes! we accepted an offer on the house, nowhere near it's dollar value not to mention the sentimental value but still... it is only a house after all. 

Also this week we merged the bulk of the remaining business, our Monitoring and Electronic divisions with Aussie lifelong friend Paul's Electronic business. I am really enjoying NOT being the boss, it's been a while but it is a great relief knowing that the only person relying on me is my Bonnie Ronnie, I only hope that I can continue to live up to this responsibility with great success.

My full cardiovascular work-up showed that my exercise and diet regime has been effective in reversing some of the vascular disease but unfortunately my renal system is in less than pristine shape so any further surgery is out of the question at this time. The right leg is bad but nothing short of a groin to calf bypass will fix that but it has not been a hindrance to a 'reasonable' workout yet... so I can live with that.

We were able to go out for dinner with the whole family on that day because Candice was in Brisbane to do a course, Caydence was going to her biological mother that night, Brett was rostered off Police duty, Jason finished early, Cameron had had no issues so Nat was good to go and Lachlan, Matilda and Hayley were home from school on time. Charlie, Nat's dad was able to come along as well so it was an absolutely awesome night and no-one took a picture... believe it or not. The grandkids were all so well behaved and surprisingly full of engaging, energetic conversation that time slipped away too quickly.

Life is AWESOME... I'm so blessed.