Category Archives: Musings and Ideas for Discussion

In this category, I post ideas for articles, random thoughts I might have and other stuff that doesn’t fit.

BARTERCARD Australia Revokes Voucher Many Months After Service Has Been Provided.

CANI

In the interests of CANI (Constant And Never-ending Improvement) I submit the following for your information.

Bartercard Australia

Many months ago I joined Bartercard Australia in an attempt to rejuvenate my flagging business. A short time later I received a voucher for $100 partially, I thought, to compensate me for a bad experience with a merchant who refused to provide me with an advertised service, and partially as an incentive to new traders.

Voucher

I used this voucher with another new merchant so we both could benefit and I was very happy.

Due to circumstances beyond my control – my finances imploded on a grand scale and I was unable to continue to pay the monthly fee – I found it necessary to resign from the Bartercard organisation.

Even though I had only been a member a short time and they were surprised and disappointed, Bartercard appeared to accept the situation.

Revoked

However, just the other day I received a very short and, I thought terse, letter from Bartercard Australia informing me that the voucher I had used was not going to be honoured and had been returned to the merchant. Now this is approximately 4 months or more after the service had been provided. I was happy with the service and I imagine the merchant was too. And at least as far as I know so was Bartercard.

What is the reason for this?

It appears we (both merchant and customer) are being punished for something. Not sure what. Nor why. Perhaps the merchant knows? I certainly don't

A reason might be nice. And as a parent you are always told to ensure that any punishment fitted the crime, and was close in time to the event being punished so the punishee knew what it was all about.

None of this appears to have happened. Bartercard Australia seems to have just decided it was not going to honour a legally issued voucher which had been swapped for a properly advertised and satisfactorily provided service. Go figure.

Now our honest merchant is out of pocket, and quite probably has no way of contacting me to ask for payment.

If I was less than honest and not of moral standing I'd ignore this, but I am not. When I have the money to pay him, which now as a pensioner is not very likely, I will pay.

But my questions are:

  1. What was wrong?
  2. Who was at fault?
  3. Was this because I was forced to resign?

  4. Why did Bartercard just make this apparently unilateral decision?

  5. Why did it take so long for anything to happen?

  6. Does this mean that any voucher is completely useless?

  7. Why would we bother to use one in future?

  8. What does this say about the whole Bartercard system?

  9. Is a promise from this company just a waste of time?

  10. Is this whole Bartercard voucher deal just a scam?

Feedback

There is no failure – only feedback. So I present this not as a complaint, nor as an indication of failure, but as feedback; an attempt to understand for myself what has happened; to help Bartercard get it right; and to assist others who might use this system and/or these vouchers to figure out that the usually expected outcome may be dependant on circumstances that do not become apparent, if ever, for many months.

Looking for an improvement suggestion, Bartercard? Here is one. Remember CANI.

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Rules and Public Venues. Stupid

Stupid

This is me. Colin. Not Jillian and not Career Change Strategies. And it is possibly a wee bit of a rant.

Are we ready for a rant?

Al-right.

Rules-Rant

I was at a musical event the other night and there were tables covering the bottom level facing the stage for those that could afford them and the great unwashed (me) had to sit upstairs in moveable old theatre style chair sets.

It was not uncomfortable. I'm not complaining about that. But we were a fair way from the action.

I didn’t enjoy the show itself much. I thought the sound was muddy (at least the voices were) guitar was crisp and clean. I think it was the sound man's need to fill the spectrum with echo and reverb and other techie stuff. They really should get over themselves and make it all about the music. Is that too much to ask? And the artist pointedly noted that she would NOT be doing any songs written by a writer that a good portion of the audience wanted to hear. She does them amazingly. A tad arrogant I thought. But I digress.

Problem #1

We had our wine glasses on a small ledge in front of us. We were told by a security woman to remove them. She was smiling and trying to be polite and pleasant, but I was not really convinced.

The reason given for said removal was; in-case they fell or were spilled onto the higher paying customers below. This in spite of the fact that the cast-iron rail and balustrading would have ensured that any falling or spilling would have been onto our feet. Hmmmmm.

  • Was this a real rule? Really?

  • Was it an on the spot made-up rule by the security woman to justify her existence?

  • or perhaps, more likely, the mad ravings of a power hungry venue owner/manager who could not operate without a page or two of rules that MUST be followed in order to cover his backside from all or any eventuality; no matter how disruptive the rule is nor how unlikely the eventuality actually was. Stupid.

Problem #2

This one would be funny if it wasn't weird. Well no. The word again is stupid.

There was a balcony kind of affair half-way up the stairway to our little special place. I guess you'd call it a landing. It was fenced off very securely, from the main floor below. The configuration was stairs, landing, then more stairs Stair parts were normal stair width. The landing was actually twice as wide as the stair part. Are you getting this? And therefore there was a lovely bit of carpeted standing room halfway up to the to the upstairs seating where more of the general admission people could view the artist. Great.

Not-so great.

You see our lovely security guard moved these people on as well. A reason was called for. Several were given

  1. Fire or emergency access. (Such as medical or other) These people were off the line of the stairs and would have not impeded anyone attempting to use these facilities in an emergency.

  2. Dangerous. People might fall over or through the railing onto the floor below. We noted that the railing was pretty much the same as that in front of us on the top floor. Not very likely anyone would fall over it or break it. Not unless it was a wine glass of course.

  3. Likely to collapse. Well there was a whole room under this structure. And the area was obviously an extension of the stair landing, open for access (no velvet ropes here) and carpeted. So perhaps this was just a made-up reason on the spur of the moment as well.

  4. OK for me though. Yep. You guessed it. The security guard spent most of the show actually leaning on this unsafe railing in the landing/balcony space. Great view. Fantastic sound I'd reckon.

I just hate rules that are stupid, have no basis in scientific or any other discipline and are completely unfairly applied. Oh. Did I say STUPID? What about You?

Reminded me of another time at a gig at the Palais Theatre in St Kilda Melbourne. People were stopped from enjoying themselves. Something they had all paid to do. This was the whole point of the show. Or so I thought.

  • They were retrained (again by your arrogant and generally large security guards) from standing in their seats (not on – that would be wrong) and energetically moving to the music.

  • They were not allowed to dance in the aisles.

Reasons:

  1. Standing impedes (no that was my word – not the guard. Sorry) the view of others. Surely not any more than sitting, if everyone was doing it. And everyone was. Stupid.

  2. Aisle dancing is dangerous as it impedes (my word again) escape if there is a fire. Not sure if I am right here, but my logic tells me that if there was a fire - people would be getting themselves to the aisles to exit the building as fast as possible. Oh. That's where these dancers already were. And on their feet. Might actually save time? Hmmmmm. Stupid.

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Life After The Death of A Much Loved Partner

When someone Dies

I, unfortunately, attended a funeral the other day of a chap I have known for about 30 years or so.

It was a sad affair as these always are, but for me the hardest part was watching the widow shrivel into herself; beginning the process that so often follows these events. and is in my opinion, a huge waste; and even more importantly - avoidable.

Waste

“What is he talking about”, I hear you say.

The answer is simple. Not easy. I didn't say that. But simple just the same.

We often hear of partners dying after the loss of a loved one. Why is this so?

Here is a question we often hear.

What can I do to overcome the sadness that has overtaken me since the death of my husband? How do I step forward into the next phase of my life? He battled a number of challenging health problems during the last few years of his life. As a result, my entire identity became wrapped up in caring for him and meeting his needs. Now that the struggle is over, I feel empty and lost as well as sad. I don't know where to turn or what to do next. Can you help me?

Tasks

In the first instance, according to “The Complete Guide to Caring for Aging Loved Ones, A Focus on the Family.” Tyndale House Publishing. 2002. we need to be sure to address the following 4 tasks.

  1. Accept the reality of the loss. (Talk with others about the deceased person or the circumstances surrounding the death.)
  2. Experience grief freely (and painfully if necessary) - A grief recovery program run by your local church or community is a grand idea.
  3. Adjust to the NEW environment. (Assume some of the responsibilities and social roles formally fulfilled by your partner)
  4. Take the emotional energy you would have spent on the one who is no longer there and reinvest it. Refocus. (Don't forget - but give yourself permission to carry on with your own life.)

Spousal Death

A study has found that when a husband or wife dies, the remaining spouse's risk of dying is 66% higher than might normally be expected in the three months immediately after their partner's death. Younger people often fare worse than older ones in this case.

But it is preventable. Particularly if the above tasks are taken seriously and some help is sought to find a way to realise the potential just waiting to be unleashed. The Power is within. Freedom is within.

Support

Initial support from family, friends, the community (both spiritual and secular), colleagues and others with whom we are in contact is extremely important, and can't be over-emphasised, but it is not a panacea by and of itself. The bereaved person MUST take control of his / her own life and learn how to make it all worthwhile again. It is worthwhile, of course.

Every human being has a unique set of skills, knowledge and experiences that can and should be made available to the wider population.

A Lonely Match

A match which lights a fire dies, but the flame it spawns grows and becomes a new life. A whole new beingness if you will. It can be bigger and better than its humble beginnings.

A bereaved partner has the opportunity to reignite the fires that existed in his / her spouse. Fires that may have been almost extinguished by sickness, infirmity or any other reason. Now that the person has gone don't let their life be spluttering into the abyss. Don't dive in after them. Pick it all up and let it fly. Be the you that you can and should be.

Why?

If you add to the past life all the natural and huge resources we alluded to earlier, that the still living person possesses; we have what might amount to a Juggernaut waiting for release upon the world. Why should this magnificent force for good be allowed to shrivel? #careerchangestrategies

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Ego – A Book Review: A New Earth: Create a Better Life – Eckhart Tolle

I have been reading this book the last few hours.

I have to say it is probably the best book of its kind, I have read for a long time.

Why?

I have not even finished Chapter 3 and am completely blown away by the content. Mr Tolle has taken me and given me the biggest shake.

There is soooo much here already that explains a lot about my life and why I am like I am.

Believe me I am going to change. I am not going to be ruled by ego any-more.

Need to know what this is all about – then get this book.

Example?

One very small example that stuck with me.

When he was a counsellor, Eckhart was working with a woman who had cancer and was told she had only 2 months to live.

She was raving, this particular day, about a belief that her carer had stolen her grandmother's engagement ring. “It has so much sentimental value,” she wailed.

Eckhart asked her what was she going to remember about this ring in 10 weeks time? She thought for a moment and then said, “They think I'll be dead by then.”

“Yep,” he said.

“And while it is not right that it might have been stolen, why are you wasting the little time you have left getting so excited about it? This is your ego talking. Someone has to be wrong. You are the one in the right. It is YOUR ring. 'Oh My God,' you are crying, 'what have they done to me?'

But it won't matter to you in two months. So let it go now. Live today. Enjoy. Don't fret. Be happy. All that good stuff.”

Think about it:

How many times have we all worried about something like this? Something where we complain and fret just to make a silly point? To be right? To be better than someone else? To be richer, happier, more moral, more beautiful? Ego. I am.

Let it go.

More soon. I am going to finish this wonderful book and take as much of it on board as I possibly can.

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Shocked and Saddened

OMG! Shocked and Saddened!

Last Sunday afternoon as I was leaving the Dandenong market just after 3.00pm, I waved cheerio and sang out, “See ya next week” to one of the long term sellers as he was packing up for the week. He was one of the all-time market stalwarts, a man well known and well liked by all. He was a very ebullient chap, always up for a chat. Some might say a tad over-the-top, but he was great fun.

As was his want he replied with his usual war-cry., “Harry Hoo, Delicious.” And waved.

How were either of us to know that within a few short hours he would depart this earth? Tom (for that was his real name), passed away later that night.)

I have no idea how or why. I don't know how old he was, certainly older than me (isn't everyone?) but when I heard the news this morning – to say I was shocked and saddened would be a massive understatement.

What I do know is that you only have the HERE and the NOW. There is no telling when your time will come.

If you have been saving yourself for something or someone or anything. Just go out there and DO IT. Don't wait. Just like Tom (or Harry) you may not get the chance later. Live for today like there is no tomorrow. For some of us there won't be.

I am not suggesting you be silly or anything, I am just saying putting off any action because the time is not right, or you don't have the money, or your health is not great - is a mistake.

Go out and FIND a way. There is always a way. Perhaps you might need to make a small change to your plans, but don't wait. There is no RIGHT time.

What do you think Tom's plans were for Monday? Tuesday he should have expected to be back at the market. What about the overseas holiday (I'm making this up – but you get the picture) he didn't take last month (or whenever) because he couldn't make up his mind?

Perhaps he did all that he wanted to, but can any of us say we are ready to go - TONIGHT?

Today changed my thinking. Will it change yours?

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Battles V’s Challenges

Battles

The best battle, Sun Tzu says, is the battle that is won without being fought.

One dictionary definition is: An encounter between opposing forces.

Therefore; we assume - if we use the word battle, that there will be opposing forces and one of these will be a winner.

By definition this pretty much always means one of the forces will lose, even if according to Sun Tzu an actual battle has not been fought in the traditional sense. We still have an assumed winner and a loser. Let us call that a “pre-supposition.” And definitely one with negative results for one of the parties.

Challenges

A challenge on the other hand is something that puts you to the test. It can often be used in the sense of questioning whether something is true or right. And it can be a demanding or stimulating situation as in questioning a statement and looking for an explanation. This doesn't, by definition, require either a winner or a loser. It assumes (pre-supposes) an outcome, but not necessarily one that means any party will be vanquished.

A challenge is often thought of as something you have to face and deal with as you see fit. Not necessarily involving another in direct conflict. It can – but usually doesn't.

If a challenge seems like a battle, it can nearly always be reduced to a win/win situation. The sort of thing that can be dealt with by finding and exploiting alternatives to any head-on confrontation.

A challenge can therefore, pre-suppose (or assume) a solution that is not necessarily competitive to the point where protagonists on opposite sides become engaged in a fight or a battle. This is likely a more positive outlook is it not?

This is not to say a situation remains uncompetitive and lacking in any desire (even STRONG desire) for a satisfactory outcome - just that win/lose is not the primary aim of the interaction as it is in a battle.

It suggests that YOU will find an outcome that is satisfactory to YOU without destroying, decimating or even sidelining others who might also have an interest in the outcome.

What we have here is a stance that involves the taking of individual or group responsibility for a particular situation along with the actions undertaken; and accepting the results obtained.

Not a fight to the death.

Conclusion

Therefore, let us not look for battles to win, but challenges to face.

And let us use words that help us to see outcomes in a positive win/win light and not conjure up adversarial elements where they do not need to exist. #CareerChangeStrategies

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What Did You Learn today?

One of our core needs is to grow.

Growth comes from:

  • New stuff.
  • Old stuff with a new perspective.
  • Something completely out of left field.
  • Mistakes that show you why or how something didn't work.
  • Words that had the opposite effect from what was expected
  • Words that had a different effect from your expectations
  • Feedback both good and bad.
  • Reading
  • Listening

Nothing here about talking.

What else? This is just a teaser?

WHAT DID YOU LEARN TODAY?

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Bringing up Children V’s Being a Good Salesperson?

Have you ever thought of the similarities between these two? Between children and customers?

Just as an example:

Try shouting at a baby/child to make him/her do something.

Try shouting at a customer to get him/her to buy your goods/services.

Same result?

Why's that?

Your comments please.

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An open letter to Mr James Patterson.

The other night in Melbourne, Australia (May 6th 2015), I went to see you at the Atheneum theatre.

I was enthralled.

You were awesome, and you were personally inspiring.

I loved your relaxed laid-back (Australian?) attitude. I loved your answers to the interviewer’s questions. I loved how you extended the questions from the audience and answered more than you were asked. And I loved how you overruled the presenter and asked for one more question when he had already done that. So great. So fantastic. Such a wonderful evening.

Can I make a comment or two, though?

As mentioned your generous donations to independent book-stores are to be applauded.

  • In 2014, James gave away over a million dollars to book-stores across the USA.

  • In 2015, James Patterson will continue to support independent book-stores in innovative ways and will champion a new initiative centred on getting our kids reading and supporting school libraries.

Now this is a fantastic initiative, but it made me think of the horse and cart.

Back in the day, horses used to pull all sorts of vehicles which were used for transport of goods and passengers in pretty much all countries of the world.

A complete set of industries grew up around this means of transport. Such as farriers, carriage makers, stables and stable hands, grooms, horse-shoe and horse-shoe nail manufacturers, carriage wheel makers and many more. And of course manure collectors. Not to mention the farmers who grew the food these magnificent beasts ate so they could toil all day toting people and packages across our fair cities. Although some of these cities may not have been all that fair much of the time. But your stories cover some of this evil doing.

Anyway there came a time when some malcontent invented a motorised vehicle. And once we all got over the fact that these mechanical beasts could and should be allowed to move faster than walking pace the industry blossomed.

We could now go further and faster, in more comfort and carry more weight than ever before. Progress, I hear you say. A fantastic thing is progress and these newfangled inventions. True.

But what of the poor people and animals mentioned previously who relied on the earlier tried and true methods of transport? Their existence and their livelihood depended on this now old fashioned and outdated technology. What about them?

Well, I personally don't know what happened on a day to day or month to month basis, nor how long a transition period there was, but transition certainly took place. Now the only 'horse-dawn carriages' are in places like Melbourne as tourist attractions.

Cars and trucks (and trains and planes as well, but let's not extend our argument too far) have completely taken over the role of these quaint methods of conveyance.

Book shops. Ah the wonder. They are such an institution. The shelves and shelves of paper and cardboard, printers ink, glue and sometimes string. The smell of new books, the smell of old books. The chesterfield sofas and crazy bentwood chairs that we happened upon in these oases of almost quiet; full of the soft sounds of riffling paper, and the low murmurings of cajoling voices “Oh My God, will you have a look at this one?” Fantastic. Beautiful, exciting, inspiring and emotionally intense.

Bookshops are the bees knees.

BUT. There is another way to read NOW. We can do it 'online' and on 'portable devices'. The same stories. Even the older ones (the historic, the famous and venerated texts) are all progressively being made available in a digital format. They don't smell. There are no sofas, no booksellers with unbelievable knowledge, (I could say encyclopaedic but that is too trashy), but the end result is the same. The information, the emotions, the feelings, beliefs, the wonderment is all still imprinted on the brain of the reader. We still even call these infidels readers for goodness sake.

We can take 1000's of books with us wherever we go and enjoy them at any time. In the light, in the dark and at all times and all places in between.

In a similar vein to that of old fashioned travel, reading is going to change. We are going to do it differently. We are going to transition, possibly completely, except for tourist curiosities, to the new world.

It is as inevitable as the march of the automobile. Whether it is a good or bad thing is a moot point. IT WILL HAPPEN. IS HAPPENING NOW. AS WE SPEAK.

While I know, James, we all love your passion for book shops, books in general; and we all follow your fights with Jeff Bezos, I wonder if it is all for nothing?

Is it possible your wonderfully generous money might be better spent? Instead of railing against online behemoths, and propping up an institution whose time has come?

Might you be better off spending the money to make online reading better? More accessible to the masses of people who do not read at all or do read but not as much as they might and do not embrace the joys of the electronic media? Easier, more exciting, more fun. More interesting.

  • Perhaps we could have online book-stores with extra special benefits.

  • We could have electronic book clubs.

  • What about huge global discussions about books and the meaning of life. I don't think it really is 42 by the way.

  • We could have huge webinars with everyone being able to see and hear what I did the other night. You know what I mean. You. Or other famous or infamous - read E L James) authors on Skype, in our own lounge rooms, our cars, our … (no I won't go there.)

They could be streamed, or recorded or both. Live questions could be asked and answered. Visuals and videos could be included.

  • Collaborative writing classes and group readings could happen.

  • Training in writing and other stuff related to reading might be the go

  • Authors reading their books for children. (So they can still have their nightly story even if their parents can't or won't do it for them.) Refer the following:

Could snuggling up in bed and reading a bedtime story to your children ever be a bad thing? An ABC Radio National program about whether 'Having a loving family is an unfair advantage' has questioned whether bedtime reading is causing an uneven playing field for more unfortunate children. British academic Adam Swift told ABC presenter Joe Gelonesi the benefits of the time-honoured custom were greater than a private school education.”

The worlds of writing and reading could collide with a bang greater than all the atomic bombs in the universe.

Books and reading could be even more important than ever before. A different kind of book experience.

  • No longer little out of the way places you can only get to on your next trip to NYC.

  • No longer elitist but for all.

  • No longer expensive books where the publisher takes more money from the sale than the creator of the work itself. (Perhaps that is a problem currently with Amazon, but there is no real competition is there?)

  • Free books for specific purposes/readers/topics

Note I'm not suggesting books are off the agenda, just the method of getting them to the reader. A change in the delivery mechanism.

It has started.

Perhaps you James, and/or other readers or writers can come up with some more new and innovative ways to make the electronic delivery of books better, more accessible, easier, more effective.

Perhaps there is even another as of now completely unheard of way of getting books to the reader?

Think about it. Those who can adapt best, survive. Those who cannot become extinct. Darwin discovered this scientific truth many moons ago, It is still as true now as it was then.

Comment please.

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