in our day

17 06 2012

2011 05 01 1304258118

a friend just forwarded me this chain email:

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.
The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another “older” person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person…

We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off.

oh i just love the finger-pointing game!  can i play too?

by the logic in this grumpy old man’s missive, it wasn’t the fault of old people who “didn’t have the green thing back then”, but honestly, nor is it the fault of snotty-nosed brats coming into receipt of a ravaged, depleted, sick world full of the vestiges of thoughtless, selfish old people.  or is it?

maybe, just maybe, there’s enough blame to go ALL around, in retrospect, and in advance?
…to the older generation who didn’t just accept their lot in life so humbly and honourably as depicted below, but who also sought to make life ‘better’ and easier for their children, most of them in blissful ignorance of the impact it would have on the world and its finite capacity.
…to the current generation who continue to strive for an easier life and who perpetuate and expand the culture of consumption & disposable products despite the knowledge of its many and varied negative impacts and in continuing disregard for the future generations, bamboozled as we collectively are by media long ago bought out by powerful commercial vested interests who misrepresent fact, disproportionately highlight scientific debate, and cunningly swap the popular meanings of “believer” and “sceptic” in the sham climate “debate”.
…and to the future generation we inculcate with these same ideals, who will follow in our footsteps, laden with overinflated senses of entitlement that will crumble when the world finishes collapsing in an eco-heap (which started at least half a century ago), who will then be forced to make extremely difficult decisions about their future (the ones that we’ve failed to make thus far), and endure an environment, and a lifestyle quite different and measurably inferior to what they were promised, due to the selfish actions of those in past generations.  at the same time they’ll want to reject the wisdom of those damn fools from the older generations who fucked everything up and who’ll probably only ‘fess up after it’s too late to do anything about it.
maybe, just maybe, finger-pointing and blame isn’t helping.
“back in my day” – it’s a phrase used by old and not-so-old alike.  Gen-Y altered it a bit, “back in the day”, to make it sound a bit less grumpy-old-man-ish, but i even hear Gen-Xers using “back in my day”, as if their lives are entering twilight, a sense of impotence in their ability to effect change.  but what does “back in my day” really mean?  halcyon days sometimes, but usually that things were harder back then and that the younger generation have somehow got it easy – which they do in a material sense, but they absolutely don’t in a whole lot of other ways older people conveniently forget.  but i think there’s much more to it than that.
the older we get, the less we seem to care (as measured by our actions, as distinct from our words), the less we are willing to change our ways, and the less we are likely to put our foot down and say “enough is enough!”.  teenagers have their pre-programmed rebellious phase, part of the process of growing up and discovering the boundaries of society, until they finally accept the world around them to large extent and fall into line with the status quo.  the older we grow, the less we want to change the world.  there are exceptions, of course, but that’s what they are: the exceptions, the troublemakers, the misfits, the square pegs in round holes, the ones who actually change the world.
“back in my day” almost always refers to collective culture, even if it’s invoked with individual experience to illustrate a point.  but “back in my day” isn’t just brandished to mean “life was harder back then”, but often as a claim to virtuousness, or at least retrospective credit for past sacrifice as measured by today’s standards, that “we were so ‘good’ to have endured such hardships back then, the likes of which these younguns couldn’t imagine”.  it becomes an unspoken “back in my day, things were better, WE were better“.
i call bullshit.  i think it’s also how we whitewash the consequences of our decisions and chosen lifestyles, even if that choice is made from the narrow range society considers appropriate.
“back in my day, we were better”.  maybe, maybe not.  but how did we get to this point?  on the rare occasions such questions are asked, the response, the suggested causes, are often presented as external factors, collective cultural pressures, or maybe the actions of Others, rather than the choices of the individual.  we even blame corporations for our plight, forgetting that it was us and our forebears – by deed or inaction – who imbued corporations with power that often exceeds that of the individual, but without the conscience of one.  and as we get older we even believe it’s too late to change those rules by which we, as shareholders, demand those corporations operate, blind to our own conflict of interest.
we are all responsible for our past.  we are all responsible for now.  and we are all responsible for tomorrow.

“depression – my story”, 1 year on.

11 08 2010

it’s not quite a year since i wrote “my story” for, but i’m feeling the urge to talk about this black dog thing again.  seems to be topical lately!

last October 09 i “woke up” and realised that the ground of life was rapidly rising to meet my slo-mo free-fall.  the consequences of 5 years of blocking out life in a haze of THC smoke loomed like a tsunami  SFX in Hollywood movie.  thus began a tumultuous process of getting my life back into sobriety, balance, positivity & connection.

i quit dope cold turkey, which was a huge step forward in clearing my head to re-engage with life.  curiously, this was easier than one might have expected, though i can’t really explain why.  i guess i’d been in the pot-hole-of-depression long enough to finally realise that nothing was going to change, until i changed.

i saw a psychologist for several months, turning over several of the rocks in my mental garden to see what scurried out.  i can see now there were significant contributors dating back at least 10-12 years (5-7 years before Dysthymia struck), all of which layered additively, like blankets over my life’s fire.  sometimes it’s helpful to simply become aware that specific factors in your past have had an impact you were previously unaware of, and sometimes you need to dissect things a little more.  that’s where a qualified psychologist can really help.  i may yet go back for more, if and when i feel the need to peel away some more layers of my onion.  the $80/session Medicare rebate certainly helped there, too!

getting back into my physical self has also been critical.  it’s hard to beat the natural high that comes from a mildly exhausting cardio or gym workout at least a few days each week, especially when it’s one of the first things i do in the day, it leaves me feeling good for the rest of the day, and helps with sleep, too.  sure, it’s hard to break old lazy habits and establish momentum, but i just take it one day at a time, and i don’t berate myself if i miss a day’s scheduled exercise.

having several friends who have used or currently use anti-depressants, i carefully weighed up that option for myself.  i believe they can be of tremendous benefit, even necessity, for some people.  but my gut instinct was that my issues were more – for want of a better word – situational & attitudinal than brain-biochemical, and thus far i’m not regretting that decision.  i’m also wary of the “life on ADs is ‘nice’. nice can kinda suck though” factor, as articulated so eloquently by my friend Richo.

and last but not least, there’s the people factor.  one of those ‘blankets’ over my life of the previous 5 years has been a major erosion of my ‘inner circle’ of friends for a bunch of reasons, leaving me feeling isolated and restless.  i don’t make friends easily or quickly, so it’s a slow process, but i’ve pushed myself to connect with new people, and reconnect with some ‘lapsed’ friends.  it makes a hell of a difference.  it’s nice to complain of not having enough hours in the day when the main reason (other than work) is time spent with friends, instead of time spent in the pot-hole-of-depression in front of the tv!

it’s an ongoing process, a work in progress, and some say that’ll always be so (i’m not so sure about that).  but it’s a state of mind so different to where i was only a year ago, it’s starting to feel like a receding memory.  my spiral upwards out of depression and the things that propel it bear a curious symmetry (equal but opposite) to the habits that dragged me down into it years ago.  i couldn’t have done it without the support & understanding of my friends & clients alike, a professional psychologist, and a huge bunch of awesomely inspirational people on Twitter :).


29 04 2010

Liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”) The liminal state is characterized by ambiguity, openness, and indeterminacy. One’s sense of identity dissolves to some extent, bringing about disorientation. Liminality is a period of transition where normal limits to thought, self-understanding, and behavior are relaxed – a situation which can lead to new perspectives. (Wikipedia)

ok so i’ve been away on a chilled-out holiday for the last month – what’ve i got to say for myself?

not much as it turns out.

despite the calm and stillness of being away & not having to think about much at all, the faerie of inspiration hasn’t laid an egg on my yellow brick road.

it’s probably too early to say this in seriousness, but i’ll say it anyway.  i think my days of city living are numbered.

i’ve always felt drawn to the Northern Rivers area of NSW, an affinity with its geography, climate, way & pace of life, and even some of its inhabitants.  it was “option 2” when i decided to move to Melbourne 10 years ago.  whilst i don’t regret my move to Melbourne, with the benefit of hindsight & if i had a do-over, i’d probably choose option 2.  but which begs 2 questions:

– if i had chosen option 2 back then, would i tire of the remoteness of country living & want to come back to one of the big smokes now?

– if i choose option 2 now, am i setting myself up for another 10/whatever year cycle & want to change it all again?

stupid unanswerable questions really, i know, but this comes back to yearnings that came up 10-12 years ago, that i believe i left unresolved when i moved to Melbourne 10 years ago, becoming distracted by the challenge of changing everything (home, work, friends) by moving interstate; a distraction that lasted several years, but once that dust settled, i think has been one (of unknown qty) key contributor to my dysthymia.

as usual when i’m up there, i wonder what i could do to support myself (financially) up there.  re-create a bunch of clients in IT consulting?  do something that can be done virtually anywhere with a broadband connection (electronics design? iPhone/iPad app development?)?  or something completely different?  these are options i’m now giving serious consideration to.

and then there’s Paul.  i hired him in my last workin-for-the-man Sydney job in 99, & we’ve stayed in touch ever since.  we seem to have some kind of connection, exactly what i’ve never been sure, but certainly kindred spirits in some ways, especially when it comes to a growing dissatisfaction with city living.  when we caught up at Easter, long story short, he’s thinking of ‘going bush’, perhaps to the Northern Rivers, and living the kind of lifestyle that i think he’s always wanted.

and he asked if i was interested in joining him.  which kinda blew me away!

it’s an extremely tempting offer, but until i either clear my debts by doing what i do in Melbourne, or find alternative income up there, i’m kinda stuck where i am.

we’re having lunch again today… – my story

29 11 2009

since i embraced Twitter in the last month or two, it’s helped this process of opening up my world and re-engaging with life, primarily in the form of staying informed on stuff that interests me, but also bringing me into contact with people from various walks of life.

i can’t even remember now how/who/when i first became aware of and the guys behind it (other than via someone i follow on Twitter re-tweeting), but i was so impressed by what these guys are doing:

a small bunch of straight men, all motorcycle enthusiasts (and fathers, & i’m guessing husbands) and who’ve each had their own struggle with depression, are forming a possy (always wanted to use that word – & i mean it in the John Wayne sense) to go ride across America to raise funds & awareness for male depression in just under a year from now.

isn’t that freakin awesome!??

last week Raz Chorev called on his Twitter followers to submit their stories of depression, to be posted on the site.  for some reason, i felt compelled to submit mine.  i’d never put my story into a single canned message before/yet, so figured this might be a decent opportunity, and also help spread the word.

so for the time being (while mine is the first), here’s my sorry story of depression:

if it helps just one guy realise that he’s not alone feeling the way he does, and to get some help & get back on track, i’ll be a happy boy.

& maybe some people might question why i’m being so open about my story, here on my blog, in person amongst my friends, & even on a “stranger’s website”?  aside from the above reason, i also think it imposes some small degree of accountability on myself.  whether that’s good motivation or bad, i’m not sure, but by putting my story out in the open (instead of hiding it from almost everyone for the last 5 years), i feel it gives me even more reason to do whatever i have to do to never find myself back in that dark place.


Fax to Lindsay Tanner MP re Internet Filtering

7 09 2009

Dear Mr Tanner,

I’ll spare you the form-letter bullet points of why the Government’s proposed internet filtering scheme is illconsidered, ineffective and unwanted.  You’ve heard them all before.

However primary among them is the reality that it just won’t work.  Every time someone creates a ‘wall’ to block internet traffic, it is virtually guaranteed that someone else will find a way around it.  I currently have no “need” to use various technologies to avoid/bypass the kind of filtering proposed by the Government, but I assure you I already have the technology to do so literally at the click of my mouse.

If the Government’s filter comes anywhere close to causing the slow-down OR false-positives that various lobby groups are suggesting it will, I guarantee you that the technology/know-how to bypass this filter will spread into the mainstrream faster than you can say “but 99.99% of Australia’s population aren’t trying to access illegal material”.

And in so doing you will have completely undermined the good intentions of the proposed filter scheme.

As an IT consultant to small business in Melbourne, I perceive the “digital divide” to be growing, not shrinking.  The divide I’m talk about isn’t the haves and have-nots, it’s those who know how to protect themselves and their children from undesirable material, and those who don’t (they are the vast majority).  These are the same people who don’t know how to recognise a malicious spam/phishing email and thus get their computer infected with a spam-bot (or worse), which makes the internet a more dangerous or unpleasant place for all of us.

These are two good reasons why spending money on educating ordinary PC users on how to keep _themselves_ as well as their computers safe is more important than ever.  Frankly, the technology to _effectively_ implement the kind of filter you desire simply doesn’t exist (and for the foreseeable future never will) – it is just too easy to bypass, and the “only” ones negatively impacted are those 99.99% of Australians NOT trying to access illegal material.

I voted for Labor in the last election primarily based on issues relating to environmental and financial management.  I never for one moment considered the ALP’s internet filtering scheme as acceptable collateral damage, but rather as a vote-grabber to be fought *now*.

I call upon you to take whatever steps are necessary to not proceed with this bone-headed scheme, but rather to direct the funds at genuinely _educating_ Australian computer users on how to keep themselves safe on the internet.

Like, how about a perpetual, Government-funded multi-media education campaign, on TV, radio, newspapers, website, Youtube, Twitter, all that and beyond, educating Australian computer users on how to keep themselves, their children and computers safe – to whatever level is appropriate for the individual/family.  Make it ubiquitous, brand it well & consistently, make it comprehensive yet easy, and you will achieve the goal, and more.

And pursue the 0.01% of illicit users far more intelligently than a dumb bypassable filter across the entire population.

Thank you for your time,
Yours sincerely,

Say NO to compulsory internet censorship in Australia

19 12 2008

“Clean Feed”?  WTF?  NFW!

i’ve sat on my hands long enough before weighing in on this topic, waiting to see if it was all just a bad dream and i’d wake up and the world would be a sensible place again.

yeah, ok, i’m awake now.

seems Senator Conroy has either lost his mind, or thinks we never had one.

i’m fed up with do-gooder Catholics who think they can save the world/us by hiding it from us, and parade it as “protecting the children” so they can hurl their intelligence-insulting “what?  are you against children being protected from bad stuff?” bullshit.

i vehemently reject his proposal for compulsory ‘net censorship in Australia.

you can read all about the bone-headedness of his plan here at

PLEASE contact your local MP, and Sen. Conroy himself.

i’ll try to be as polite as i can be in the face of such a stupid stupid man…

No Clean Feed - Stop Internet Censorship in Australia

an inconvenient truth

22 02 2007


modern society considers many acts of metaphorical bell-ringing to be taboo, the proponent tarred with the brush of the boy who cried wolf too many times – particularly if the prescribed actions threaten to detract from someone’s profit margin. it’s as though the merest possibility of overstatement or marginal error were a sin a hundred times worse than that being warned.

i’ll postpone pondering the roots of such a passive status-quo-maintaining culture, but suffice to say, when it comes to this topic, i have no intention of censoring myself any further.

there are 3 film/tv documentaries that have genuinely literally changed my life, each personally epiphanal, for which i hold the opinion (regardless how unlikely) that every single person on the planet should see. the first was Carl Sagan’s Cosmos 8/13-part tv series (1980). when i saw it in ’88, it gifted me a sense of perspective about the natural world and my (our) place within it that formed a lasting foundation for my worldview.

it was a long time between drinks to the second, The Corporation (2004). unfortunately it was instrumental in triggering 2+ years of dysthymic depression, but ultimately painted for me a very clear picture of what’s wrong with our modern world, and what needs to be done to achieve a capitalist society that’s also genuinely fair, sustainable & democratic, rather than one run mostly by stupid greedy white men.

the third, An Inconvenient Truth (2006) helped bring me back to life, & contextualise what i think is the most pressing challenge our civilisation has ever faced.

In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore pulls together a wide range of examples of climate change, history, political distortion, & human nature that doesn’t just explain what global warming is in simple & eloquent terms, but also why global warming concerns have been ignored, discounted or marginalised for so long, as well as the need for prompt & substantial action.

if you think there is anything remotely resembling a raging equally-sided dispute amongst scientists that global warming is real & caused by our fossil-fuelled emissions, or might instead be some climatic natural phenomenon whose cause we’re still unaware; if you think global warming probably won’t affect you personally all that much; if you think an extra 2 billion Chinese & Indians rapidly adopting the same consumerist lifestyle as ours using the same greenhouse gas-producing power sources & transport won’t make much difference; if you think you can’t make a positive difference, directly & indirectly; then this DVD is for you. it’s for everyone.

some have suggested that Al Gore is using An Inconvenient Truth as a political tool for the 2008 US presidential elections. no surprise i say ‘bring him on!’ – if it hadn’t been for 11+ years of Little Johnny’s politically expedient amorality, i’d still be wondering why American’s kept the Evil Chimp in power for 8 years too. others accuse Gore of scare-mongering. well, quiet little debates in science labs & school rooms, & government scientists being silenced or censored by their own government just isn’t getting the job done.

the dots have been connected.

the nay-sayer climate change ‘skeptics’ (a shameful miscarriage of the term) have been revealed as the self-interested greedy few, or their pandering politicians, posessing little or no scientific merit to justify further inaction (to say nothing of amoral cynical pseudo-skeptic-fanboys like Tim Blair who sprout vitriole & peddle inane examples of cold climates as supposed counter-proof, a policeman for the anti-bell-ringer mindset it would seem).

for many years Earth has been showing major signs that it is reaching saturation point in its ability to process our fossil-fuel emissions, and beyond which corrective action may take hundreds of years to reverse due to a run-away domino effect. almost every biological system on earth is in decline. how bad must it get before we wake up?

how can we possibly convince the rapidly developing world to adopt low greenhouse gas emitting technologies & techniques if we hypocritically don’t follow our own advice?

i’ll cover this more in a separate post, but addressing climate change in a sensible, global, prompt but staged manner holds enormous potential for commercial success, without horrific economic consequences. but to cut to the chase, it ultimately comes down to ordinary consumers becoming aware of the issues & the solutions, taking what steps they can as individuals, AND pressuring their elected representatives to do something. nothing will happen or change until we do. John Howard is living proof that Political Will is a renewable resource that springs from the Eternal Well Of Opinion Polls – all we need to do is point him in the correct direction.

someone once told me that a reasonable definition of stupidity is always doing the same thing, but expecting a different outcome. someone else once told me “for things to change, first i must change”. and another “think globally, act locally”. they all seem to have currency on this issue. we are all part of the problem, and we all can and need to be part of the solution.

it’s time to walk our talk that we care about the world we live in.

buy, borrow, beg, or download a copy if you must, but please watch this movie. watch it with a friend or two & talk about it afterward. watch the end credits seeded with ideas on how to do something.

like visiting for heaps of ideas we all can do to reduce our impact on global warming. some are easy, some are cheap, some just require a different way of thinking & aren’t really all that inconvenient. some will even keep you fit. ALL of them will make for a better world, a better home, in our own lifetimes.

and stay tuned here for details of my own efforts to reduce my ‘carbon footprint’ :-)