CUTS, COLDS AND SORE HOLES

Well that’s what my grandfather used to call the first aid kit.  According to other family members that is.   My only childhood memory of my paternal grandfather’s words was “Shhhhhhhh!”

No matter.  It is the last quarter of the moon and you know that is the best time to clean up, throw out things, organize what’s left and make space for all the new ventures of a pending new moon.   A month earlier, Stayatworkfatherofthree had obtained his first aid and CPR certificates through the Coast Guard safety courses and while that was not the first time I had held such qualifications, it was welcome.

Last week we purged the carport storage cupboards, pruned the kitchen of unnecessary clutter, repurposed the space under the stairs, the list goes on.  Stayathomemotheroffour showed little excitement, although the lack of busy clutter in every corner must have had some positive effect.  With the new found space in the hall cupboard where we keep the first aid kit, she decided this would be a job for “Mr. Anal Retentive.”   She placed the three crammed plastic containers that comprised our first aid options on the dining table and said “you do it as you know what everything is.”

There is rarely progress without sacrifice.  So as much as I loved keeping all my IT cables and plugs in a little plastic pigeon holed container with lid, that was a vessel destined for recommissioning in the next 24 hours.   

The only problem with traveling with such a mobile Radio Shack / Dick Smith branch packed into my roll on luggage was the extra weight it hogged from the meager 7kg allowed on budget airlines I am so fond of.     Space was not the issue as for half a decade we have been evangelical about the merits of not folding holiday clothes if possible and laying each garment flat on top of each other until one or two final folds.   I had needed a system for keeping cables, plugs and devices like the three phones etc. and thought it would make things simple.  It did, but low net weight won over and I did not even bring the eight compartment pigeon holed plastic container back on the return journey.

We still had an identical container at our island home and it was now in line of sight with the three container first aid mess we had once tried to explain to contents of which to our last baby sitter before she called the child services hotline (just kidding;-)   Like a mindful guy, I put everything to one side on a chair and slept on the problem.

Woke this morning and went down to the marina to change the fuel on our boat and get her ready or a nice day of sailing with Grandma and the boys.   Then the wind picked up too high for our little boat which does not even take half meter waves all that well.   Not problem, our monthly Coast Guard meeting was not until 18:00 hours, our three year old daughter would not finish day care until 16:00 hours.  We were in no hurry to fight the wind.   So the boys settled down eight Grandma to watch a funny French movie about school boys and the English subtitles kept them busy and possibly counted towards their daily reading quota.

Meanwhile, I tossed all the out of date medications first, unfolded boxes if they were printed with instructions and separated everything else as so:

1. Small blue box with only Alpha’s seasonal asthma puffer and note to self to make sure we would never need to use that again.

2. Medium plastic box with only items for cuts and bruises.  Plasters, antiseptic creams, cold sprays, bandaids, sterile scissors, saline solutions and surgical sheets for all manner of bloody mess.

3. Said eight compartment plastic organizer containing only medication and ointments for after care.  All carefully labeled with homemade bi-lingual sub headings.   Nose, foot, ear, pain relief, intestinal, muscle , cold and flu, at which point Grandma piped up the immoral words only children English colonies can create.

“Cuts, colds and sore holes” with all the crudeness of an East-end hawker and laziness of an Antipodean hooker I suppose.

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Hell Kids are great!

It is mid school year vacation for 2018 and day three of the kids’ holidays.   Just got their Semester 1 report cards and it brought me to tears.

Last weekend was a public holiday long weekend which kicked the school vacation off to an off the deep end 25/7 child care marathon.  Fighting the noisy thumping of them pounding up and down the stairs, scattering LEGO in every corner, demanding F&B faster than a pub’s last call, we are coping.  (ENGAGE !  Resistance is futile!)

Let me let you in a little secret.  Since we moved to Australia nearly three years ago, or TVs have been getting larger and number of bed time story readings has been getting smaller.  English at school HAS NOT BEEN AFFECTED!

Not week goes past without Alpha and Bravo taking their school banking to the office on a Tuesday morning without a small deposit.  Maths results HAVE HIT THE CEILING!

Buying a small yacht, waxing the car together on a Saturday afternoon, buying groceries together, preparing the ingredients for meals as a group once in a while, etc., and Health, Science and Technology at school are all HIGH or VERY HIGH achievement.

Stayatworkfatherofthree sat down this afternoon in the car port with a small bottle of my now favorite beer Miller Chill, and opened the two hard paper envelopes with the reports and sucked incessantly and I digested such glowing accounts of our boys’ progress.

Not bad for two young boys who had to move house twice in Term 1 and then be on the wrong side of bullies for a few too many weeks.   So I rose from my plastic garden chair and walked inside and put my hands on their shoulders letting them know they had something to be proud of.  Despite their behavior at home at times being borderline GBH, their school performance was without fault, even at time I had been overseas.

Explaining to them, their sister Charlie and Stayathomemotheroffour, that all the subjects were above average and in the top 75% to 100% range, the tears came and my voice began to shake.   A Father for only 8 and 3/4 years and they are still my babies learning to walk on Earth.

How did we make it this far?  Elsa telling us to let it go has helped us and might help you too.  You have to write your own book and if your life was movie you get to choose the ending.

My problem now is they already have a laptop and Nintendo, R2-D2 3D cardboard DIY sculpture, Robot mechanical sets.  How do you reward boys like that ?  An interview with Elon Musk would go over their heads.

Have a great evening everyone.  The future is in good hands.

NEW MOON, NEW DIRECTION, NEW LOGO? THE TIDE IS HIGH REGARDLESS.

A couple of months ago we were cleaning and knocked my ‘Dumbo’s feather’ of a writer’s muse off it’s perch beside the wifi modem.   It was one of my greatest finds during the last day of a six-week ASEAN audit trip 2016 ending in Ho Chi Minh City.

I remember it well.  We had been holed up in a downtown hotel and checked in for more than two weeks so received a handful of hotel vouchers.  We used the food and beverage vouchers quickly and still had a variety of spa and massage vouchers for the hotel’s spa on the mezzanine floor (honestly, I don’t know why I bother with typing entries on Tripadvisor anymore when I could just as easily name drop here and the establishment concerned could get direct bookings).

On the last day, the rest of my audit team flew back that morning to their respective countries and because I had booked a cheaper (three kids will do that to ya, even when you don’t have to) flight in the evening, I had a whole day to fill.  Starting with a breakfast and colleagues, watching their luggage as they checked out and a relaxing pipe on the front porch, my own late check out was assured.

As I walked up the stairs to the mezzanine to book a spa and massage for the rest of the day, the ominous sound of sledge hammers and electric tools made my stomach turn.  The clouds of cement dust and bamboo baskets with broken bricks confirmed my suspicions.   Dammit!  They had decided to renovate the spa the very day I had planned a six-hour binge of parent-friendly pore-opening pampering.

There was a eight to nine hour void before my plane that needed to be filled and I would need a nap somewhere before the flight.  Still full from breakfast, I walked down the block and turned east along the road towards the most famous fried dumpling restaurant in HCMC (Tripadvisor account, your days are numbered!), opposite which there is a very decent Bahn-mii bar.   As I was taking the slowest and most mindful bites of their signature chicken and pork sandwich, killing as much time as possible, only interrupting to taking minuscule sips from a deliberately sugarless iced coffee.  It was there Stayatworkfatherofthree spotted a shop across the street selling fancy clothes for little girls.

Biding my time until my second morning meal was finished and the bill was paid, a visit was made to the small shop opposite and filled with every kind of mini-prom dress you could think of if you wanted your daughter to enter a US beauty pageant.  Not my thoughts at all, yet my only daughter could do with at least one posh frock and Stayathomemotheroffour would be excited by the matching purple and equally faux jeweled Alice band and bracelet included with the eventual sale.

Stopping at every other store along the way back to the hotel and doing best as could be managed with my two-word Vietnamese vocabulary (the three words I always try to carry to any new country are Hello, Thank you and Sorry, although Vietnam commands a respect and decorum where sorry is rarely needed, if at all).

Directly opposite the hotel was a souvenir shop with all the usual pop-art paintings, Chinese urns and key-ring kitsch you can find on every second corner of Ho Chi Minh City.  Something that had obviously aided my best friend in Vietnam to immediately settle in the significantly duller and colder Hanoi.

Here it was found.  The perfect muse for my writings.  A pen stand (without a pen included;-) and mounted with a real light-bulb containing a miniature ship.  What better way to remind me of this blog being the vehicle to write about our family’s boating adventures and the light-bulb highlighting the need to constantly come up with new ideas.  Well not just come up with ideas.  Hell I have been carrying files around the World and back filled with ideas from musicals to mathematical theorems for three decades.  No, the purpose of the blog would be to publish those ideas on the blog.

Upon returning home, none of the pens we use with any frequency would fit into the little wooden pen holding cylinder, so what to do?  Many years ago our great family friend who has been a librarian forever had sent us this little Sherlock Holmes finger puppet (which includes a magnet for attaching to a fridge when not in use).

The finger puppet would fit nicely over the pen holding cylinder and the picture would be complete.  After 30 decades following the World’s most famous detective, it was time to follow his creator.

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That was two-years ago.  Now each of its respective elements was broken off during our house cleaning and separated from the whole.  Stayatworkfatherofthree then tried to position the separate parts in different parts of the house with moderate success.  The finger puppet was stuck up on the fridge with the built-in magnet.  The broken light-bulb was swept up and put in the trash.   The little ship was Blu-tacked to the window sill without great success or inspiration.

Some weeks later I found myself in Hong Kong planning a conference in Bangkok and for environmentally-friendly reasons we decided not to have a new batch of business cards printed.  Instead opting for a QR code to be printed on the conference materials for all attendees.  Bing!!!!  It was natural then to create a QR code for this blog and perhaps use it for the new logo this year.

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The finger puppet is stuck on the fridge again in our new island home and the little ship is still packed away from the move.   It’s fate still unknown.

Regardless, the new moon has approached and the tide is amazingly high.  Last night our boat looked so majestic in the marina because the high tide had raised the pontoon almost to the level of the footpath surrounding the marina.  Normally the tide leaves the pontoon and our boat so far below eye level that its mere six-meters just reminds us even more of the small size.

By changing to a QR code logo, this will perhaps remind me after two years of practice that a writer must not just write.  A writer must not just be read.  But with so much wonderful technology available and mobility so readily accommodated, writing needs to be paid for.  Publish or perish indeed!

What you may ask, did I do with the remaining 6.5 hours of that day in HCMC?  A quick taxi ride straight to the airport and celebratory beers and pipes amongst the exhaust fumes and bustling masses trying to escape the sun and humidity.  Slowly followed by a highly interrupted alcohol-induced nap in one of those electronic coin-operated massage Lazy-boy chairs you sometimes find in malls and airports.  50% of something is better than nothing, sometimes.

 

PACK-MAN experiments on the way home.

PACK-MAN handed over THB150 and the tri-lingual bag wrapping attendant in Suvannabumi airport in return lent a marker to write contact details on the cling-wrapping around his large suitcase. 


Then he strolled over to the smoking area and carefully filled his favorite corn pipe with a good half handful of Borkum Riff Black Cavendish.   Testing and tossing a now defunct black BIC, he unwrapped a new standard Asian adjustable lighter from a 7-11 and sipped his can of coffee.   The first light went well, just toasting the top-most hairs of tobacco.   Pack-Man then gently padded down the tinders ready for the second lighting and took a long superficial head of smoke.   This was going to be a mindful journey home……..

Hijacked at almost 3 feet

Well the kids are home from school for a three day long weekend for Australia Day (January 26th) and it is raining too much to visit our boat in the marina.  Everyone was fed dinner early almost as soon as they got home from school or day care in Charlie’s case.

Stayatworkfatherofthree was in the new crib searching the Internet for a custom furniture maker in our area to make a simple round 8-seater banquet table with lazy Susan, when Charlie started her normal twilight whining and shouting, so I took her from my wife’s arms.   After a little cooing and color crayons, I realized my search was hijacked.   I had to engage, resistance was futile, as they say.

So with more crayons and an exercise book left over from Bravo’s 2017 school stationary quota, she was happy to lie on my desk just as Alpha did eight years ago in my first Bangkok office and Bravo did two years later when I was babysitting during work hours.   Loosely scanning the online newspapers and wondering when the rain would stop enough to decorate our boat with Aussie bunting and national flags, I was hijacked again.

The very woman who started, and succeeded, with Australia’s change campaign to have a postal vote on same sex marriage was suggesting, rightly, to have the concept of Australia Day changed to be more respectful of the original people of this land.  Same sex marriage candidates represent close to 11% of our population whereas the original population prior to European settlement represent 2.8% of the census.   

Back in 2008, the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave a legendary speech taking Australia’s decade old ‘National Sorry Day’ quantum leaps toward reconciliation and meaningful unison of all present citizens.  That day I sat at my top floor office computer looking out across Hong Kong harbor at a population also colonized by the same armies, with one eye looking at the online video of the speech.   His words brought tears of faith in humanity and my colleagues had rarely seen me blubbing at my desk.   Regardless, the mood was set and less than a month later I met Stayathomemotheroffour and my heart was still full of love for all and faith in all nations.

My Father for as long as I can remember had always told me the main difference between Europeans and indigenous in Australia was that the former marked out plots and said “this land belongs to me!”, whereas original inhabitants had a more scientifically accurate refrain of ” I belong to this land.”

So this evening, my daughter has unwittingly taken me on a path to sensibility and without any desire to celebrate our Nation’s date of taking custody of these shores from the original inhabitants, as was so much the custom in past centuries and how present borders have been drawn.  In fact she has taken me right back to my Hong Kong days where it was my devote practice to work in the office on public holidays so my Chinese colleagues could enjoy time with their families.

Those were the days I enjoyed empty streets and a quiet building without interruption or delay and my best ideas would arise.   Freedom to create new strategies and file away at my own pace.   I was single then and exploiting the path less travelled.   Reaping great financial rewards and thinking I was the only one.   That is until last month when we were back in Bangkok and one of our American neighbors mentioned most of his luck and riches have come from working when other people are enjoying a public holiday.  If any thing, my own reasoning has been largely that you can exclusively take any incoming sales enquiries.

More importantly though, it has always been more a lack of interest in resting or partying for the sake of it.   Two years ago I firmly told our founding Partner that Stayatworkfatherofthree does not need any government gazette to tell him when to take a rest from work.    He agreed wholeheartedly and admitted to doing the same.

While tomorrow most of Australia will wear anything with a flag or our Olympic colors and all the nation, even the 2.8%, will wish they were never born anywhere else and love this country as much as anyone.   Most of Australia will also be drinking, some to celebrate and some to forget and commiserate.

You can bet I will be at my desk and hopefully my daughter will be there and I can teach her nearly three year old psyche that we belong to the universe and this planet does not belong to any of us.   That is if her brothers can stop arguing about who owns which toy!

A New Page. A New Moon. A New Room

My own private Havana.  Well almost.   Once I install the stair gate on this home office door to keep Charlie from barging in every five minutes with a new toddler request.

 

As usual, the single bread-winner is has to work in the only room without air-conditioning, although it is the middle of Southern Hemisphere summer and the sea breeze is coming in strong.  At 25km/per hour precisely since 5am when it blew the garden shed door open and this novice sailor checked Willy Weather , a website most of my seaward friend have downloaded onto their phones.

 

It is seven nights since we first moved into this four-bedroom house, and I have since found it was originally built as an Anglican Church holiday camp, hence the A-frame ceiling and functional caterers kitchen layout.  Stayathomemotheroffour has been been up since 7am pruning all the dead branches and leaves from the garden and in a few hours I will be free from mowing large boring, water inefficient lawns belonging to other people.

 

Last Friday our new desk arrived and this the largest desk I have had since 1997.  Two meters by 1.5 meters and originally advertised as a wooden rectangle dining table with four tree-trunk like legs.   It was the display model and had a minor, although visible scratch on one edge of the table top.  At only AUD128 it was a steal.

 

During the same shopping trip we also purchased two bar stools for the counter in the kitchen, although the kids kept unnecessarily climbing on them and so they have been moved in to my own private Havana.   Alpha and Bravo now perch on them sensibly and are learning to use their new laptops and the frustrations of everyday internet use.  By sharing the same desk, this allows Stayatworkfatherofthree to assist with technical problems without having to leave my chair.   Also easy to monitor the content they are consuming.  At the end of the session, we can close the door and that is that.  A right regular home internet cafe!

 

Nothing says Hemmingway like typing under a ceiling fan with sea breeze, humid sun rays and a collage of densely packed foliage outside every window.  Accordingly, we have placed the two green retro tubing banana lounges on the western wall to encourage afternoon sun tans and separated both lounges with a small six-pack ice box to double as a side table for tonics.

 

Well this is only the first week at this new desk, new room.  We will have to see what becomes of it over the next four seasons.  With the new moon, we have only a few minor cleaning and mowing tasks to complete at our previous residence before we return the keys to the agent.  A new unencumbered start in our new home and Bravo is finally turning seven years old this weekend a day before the new school year starts.  A new page indeed.

Read This Before You Buy any Time Management System

Last week I managed to convince an aging relative to part with enough dry trash to fill a city council recycling wheelie bin.  Old jars washed and never used to make jam, cardboard boxes, newspapers, empty plastic and glass bottles, magazines, and a good number of CD and DVD cases.  (Empty as all the discs were them transferred into space-saving albums).

 

There is now less clutter as you enter that house and an airy feel giving rise to an ability to plan for the future, tranquility and time management.  Said relative was going to wait until December to start, although still putting out an empty recycling wheelie bin every second week.   So we agreed on my giving $100 in return for a wheelie bin full of the non-personal debris described above.  So far, so good and it was only October.

 

Organization is best kept as a daily practice, rather than backlogged until enough time is accumulated an event has to take place.  Because that time never comes and that event is never completed.

 

Then a couple of days later on our island paradise, I set out to explain our company’s Core Four Management system and doing so touched on the concepts of the sun and moon, four seasons, menstruation and circadian rhythms, our bodies and societies all seems to conspire against.

 

In short, by simply first taking into account the season, phase of the moon and time of the day, it is easier to schedule certain tasks, duties and activities when the mind, body and spirit are in the mood to encourage effortless flow.  It is impossible to improve on nature in this respect.

 

Back in 1996, the multinational I was with sent us all on a six month journey to corporate time management.   We were given leather bound clip paged journals with specially printed pages and pockets for expenses, project planning, although mostly to record to do lists down to the minute each day.   A year later I bought a PalmPilot and a copy of The 7-Habits.  Master of my Universe, got my first wife on board, started a two new companies and a total disregard for nature’s own punch cards and planetary cycles.  Ironically, this was all in Hong Kong, where so much of peoples’ lives are governed by moon phases, seasons and 12-year cycles.

 

It wasn’t until 2013 in Thailand when we were building Core Four, that I started re-researching moon phases and circadian rhythms.  Prior to that in 2007, the Jack Reacher novels were all the rage and my main take home was a new found ability to know exactly what time of the day or night it was, without looking at a time piece.  (It is very easy, once you start paying more attention to the sage, natural lighting, local temperature, immediate activities and your body clock).

 

The key objective was to determine what time of the day was best for certain activities and to compensate or reschedule depending on the phase of the moon and season.   For example, not trying to do financial book-keeping activities in summer at 4pm when blood pressure rises and there is a full moon.

 

When you look around at local public holidays and local cultural festivities, things do make a lot more sense.  School calendars are on to this and most daily schedules of early primary grades mirror circadian rhythms of young children.

 

1. Plant in spring, Nurture in Summer, Harvest in Autumn and Rest in Winter.

That means start new initiatives or projects in spring for example.  Cultivate their success throughout summer, and so on.

 

2. Check the Moon.

In general, your energy under the moon mirrors the four seasons.  In the week leading to a full moon you will increase your highest physical energy and it is best for high impact exercise and physical activities like washing and waxing the car, pleasuring your wife and playing sport with the kids.  Think of it like you do Summer.

 

The week following the full moon is one of rest and like Autumn.  One harvests what has been sown.  Pack up and clear away.  Do the accounting and filing.  Make space for the next month’s projects and the new school term etc.   Little to no exercise.  No high impact.

 

Then in the week leading into the new moon, start increasing activity to low impact.  This is winter of the moon and you need to keep the blood flowing and warm.   New projects can be initiated and plans can be underway.  Exercise is best between 06:00 and 09:00.

 

In the week following the new moon, up the tempo and exercise is best between 09:00 and 12:00.  It is like the moon’s spring.  Working towards summer.

 

3. Only then check the Clock

For general daily activities, the circadian rhythms are best summarized as follows, with a little value-added by Stayatworkfatherofthree:

 

05:00 – Join the 5am Club and rise before the rest of the World, look out the window at what kind of day it is going to be.  Sit down with a beverage and start creative writing, painting, exercising.

 

06:45 – Blood pressure rises sharply.  This will be the creative burst that gets you those amazing paragraphs, images will clarify on the canvas and you will get a second wind in training.

 

07:30 – Your melatonin will stop secreting and you will no doubt be able to finish the creative task you started two and a half hours prior.

 

10:00 – This is the highest alertness of the day and when most office workers finally get down to business.  It is the best time for listening and driving.

 

14:30 – Best time for your coordination-based tasks.   Handle tricky items with effortless finesse.

 

15:30  – Best reaction times and why parents can manage to keep so many balls in the air at school pick time which quickly morphs into feeding time at the three -ringed circus.

 

17:00 – Strongest cardiovascular processing and greatest feats of strength.  Good time for second workout, mowing the lawn, cleaning and playing anything.

 

18:30 – Blood pressure is it’s highest.  Worst time to be driving and highest incidents of road rage, accidents and poor coordination caused by confusion of rods and cones in eyes.   Much better to succomb to gently tidying up for the day, kicking a  ball with the kids, de-briefing with colleagues or going for a walk.

 

19:00 – Body temperature is it’s highest.  Shower time!  Swim time!   Get into the open.  Water the plants.

 

21:00 – Get ready for bed.   Melatonin starts secreting again.  Early sleep is the best meditation and poor man’s facelift!!!

 

Go on.  Give it a try.    Nature has given us the best tools and enough waking hours in a day to do all necessary.   Early sleep is the best meditation and poor man’s facelift!!!

 

The next time you are having difficulty with a task, procrastinating or scheduling too far down the calendar.  Take time to see if you are in the correct season for that activity.

 

Perhaps it is the wrong phase of the moon to be starting a new way of filing or a new novel.   What time of the day is it ?  Are you trying to harvest in Spring and planting in Autumn?

 

And what of menstruation?  Well, merely the observation that 364 days of the year can be neatly divided 13 times into 28 day periods.  Not 12 months.  That is enough for a whole different blog.

 

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