In a funk

I was looking around the net tonight, reading various blogs and such and I came to the realisation that there’s a whole bunch of people I know who are in a funk at the moment. The ’emotional recession we had to have’, perhaps?

A whole bunch of people who feel like they’re just marking time on planet earth and not moving forward like they should be. The causes of this mass ‘funk’ are as diverse as the people involved. Or are they?

Someone might be unemployed. Someone might be feeling lonely. Someone might be desperately wanting a partner to love and be with. Someone might be just bored with the day to day humdrum. There are lots of reasons but the vibe I get is that it all comes down to people feeling unfulfilled.

My friends are terrific people – they’re all clever, talented, funny, warm, generous, caring, intelligent people. They’re good to be around. They add value to my life. And I hope I add some value to theirs.  But they all seem to be asking, in their own individual ways ‘is this it?, is this all there is? is this all that I’m meant to do, meant to be?’

We're all stuck somewhere in here

We're all stuck somewhere in here

This made me think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – or, as I mentally referred to it earlier tonight, ‘that triangle thingy with food and shelter at the bottom.’ It feels like my gang and I are all stuck somewhere on this triangle. And it’s not even pink!

Was it Einstein or Cilla Black who once posed the question ‘What’s it all about, Alfie?’

Perhaps we’re all just at an age where we’re looking at our lives and thinking ‘it shouldn’t be like this, it should be better.” Cos when I talk about my friends and their ‘funkiness’, I definitely include myself in the same state of funk. Fundamentally we have all the basics covered: food, shelter and so on. But it’s not enough. We’ve got the blue section of the triangle ticked off as well. Where it all starts to go wrong is in the yellow, green and purple sections. Sure, all of us have bits and pieces of these sections ticked off. But there are key chunks missing. And we’re stuck like that mouse in the wheel – peddling faster and feeling like we’re getting nowhere fast!

Sometimes I wonder: is the funk caused by unrealistic demands – are we asking too much of life? Are we too greedy for yellow, green and purple that we’re not appreciating brown and blue and the other fragments of the triangle we already have? Are we an ungrateful bunch of buggers who should be happy with what we’ve got and stop bitching about what we haven’t?

Wendell's wife seems to be in a bit of a funk too.

Or is it okay to feel like you’re missing out? That you should be getting more out of life? And if it is perfectly fine to demand more, then how to get it?

My feeling is that most of us just trundle along in life and things happen to us. When they happen, we react- we go with the flow mostly. That’s terrific when the flow is good and causing terrific things to happen for us. But those times can be few and far between. We mostly wait and hope for the good flows to happen. Occasionally we might push and pull the levers to try and make the flow go our way, but mostly we just trundle along “wishin’ and hopin'” as Dusty once sang.

Sometimes the flow is neither good not bad – it’s just kind of mediocre. That mediocrity can really put you into a funk if you let it. One day runs into another and then suddenly you look around and year or two has gone by. And you’re suddenly aware that you’re still that mouse on the wheel – forever spinning.

What’s the answer to all of this?

Well, honey, if I knew that I wouldn’t be writing this blog. I’d be a millionaire international jetsetting superstar with a hot guy in every port. Aka George Lazenby in a Benson & Hedges advert from 1970! Or something like that anyway.

I reckon it all comes down to personal responsibility. The one thing we don’t want to hear. We want our lives to have purpose and meaning and yet we wait for external factors to give us that purpose and meaning. If we do make a token attempt to take control of the levers and create that purpose and meaning, we’re pretty quick to give up when our first or second attempt falls flat. I’ve done it, my friends have done it and you, dear reader, have probably done it also.

Everything we want is out there waiting for us. Even if we’re older or overweight or showing some grey hairs or feeling hard done by. Everything we want is really out there waiting for us.

But we have to go and get it. We have to create the meaning and purpose in our own lives. We have to take the chances and the risks. And we have to be the ones who fall flat on our arses again and again and pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get back into the game. In short, we have to make it happen. Because nobody is going to make it happen for us. (They’re all too busy trying to make it happen for themselves!)

Today this could actually be the greatest day of our lives.

If you don’t make today ‘the greatest day’, don’t beat yourself up about it.

There’s always tomorrow.

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Sell it, close it down, bankrupt it, do anything…just make it go away please ;-)

Would you like some bad service with that crash?

Would you like some bad service with that crash?

We all have favourite hobby-horses – subjects that push our buttons that we love to espouse long and passionate opinions about. Things that drive us mad, make us angry and things that make us think ‘If I were King (Queen) of The Universe, I’d fix that little wagon…I’d do something about it quick smart!’

Right now there’s yet another controversy surrounding Australia’s national airline – Qantas. Well, it was our national airline but the Government sold it and now it’s run by evil greedy corporate types – very Gordon Gecko kind of thing. Some years ago, it was christened ‘The Evil Empire’ by people I knew I thought the name very apt.

The latest controversy is about a new charge of up to $160 if you want to choose an exit row seat. Qantas is a full service airline with full service prices – they’re not like Ryanair or Easyjet. Discount airlines charge rock bottom ticket prices and additional fees for ‘extras’. Qantas charges full-service prices and certainly shouldn’t be trying to charge for extras like this. Particularly when they penalise people who are very tall and can’t fit into the pathetic 31″ seat pitch that Qantas offers as standard.

A story like this would be of little interest to me if it wasn’t the 528th time that Qantas has done something bad for it’s customers. The level of Qantas’ passenger service over the last 10 years has dropped dramatically. But the prices haven’t. They still market themselves as a ‘full service airline’ but their service and attitude is anything but.

I was a Qantas supporter for many years. I was a frequent flyer, Qantas Club member and tried to fly them as much as possible. I saw first hand the deterioration in service – not only on board but as one by one, the benefits of Frequent Flyer and Qantas Club membership were stripped away. Every change and development in Qantas over the last decade has been about making things more unpleasant for their customers and their staff.

Don’t get me started on their staffing policies. They’re supposed to be an Australian airline but they export jobs to other countries where labour is cheaper as much as they can. They’ve tried to outsource maintenance to cheaper countries with lower standards but have had to pull back after a number of safety and maintenance related incidents. The public reaction finally bit them on the arse big time.

Qantas used to blow holes in other airlines service...now they just blow holes in aircraft!

Qantas used to blow holes in other airlines service...now they just blow holes in aircraft!

Everything that Qantas has done this decade has been about trying to screw more money out of passengers whilst giving less…less service, less baggage allowance, less of everything in fact. Qantas management have successfully made flying – once something quite enjoyable – into something that’s unpleasant.

And they don’t discriminate against passenger types either: they treat their Gold and Platinum and Business Class regular fliers just as bad as the people up the back in cattle class. And with Qantas, it really has become ‘cattle class.’

Jetstar is another story – stranding passengers without refund or recourse because they made it to the gate with 29 minutes to spare instead of 30…cancelling flights left, right and centre not to mention rescheduling without letting customers who’d already booked know…. Also, some of their airfares are more expensive than Qantas itself on certain days and routes! Virgin Blue has shown how to do a ‘discount’ airline right – Jetstar just seems like an awful joke that Qantas is playing on the Australian public.

The list of Qantas’ own transgressions against their customers, their staff and even this country is way too long to list here:-  it actually deserves a book to be written about it. But the strange thing is that successive Governments have continued to protect Qantas’ virtual monopoly business. The normal rules of competitive business get bent and warped for Qantas – whatever they want, the Government of the day gives them.

I can see, as have many others, that Qantas has become an overpriced, badly managed, anti-customer company. They want more of your money and spend the majority of their time devising ways to give you less for your hard earnt cash.

The irony is that Qantas once had a reputation that most companies would kill for. They were one of – if not the – most respected companies in Australia. Like many other Australians, I was proud that Qantas was Australia’s national airline – the flying kangaroo. Now I’m ashamed. I’d be really happy if they were sold to Singapore Airlines or some other conglomerate. I’d be really happy if the board of directors and senior management were beamed to an island in the middle of the ocean – never to be heard from again. And I’d be really, really happy if airlines like Singapore and a few others were allowed to compete equally with Qantas on routes like Sydney – L.A.

Over the years I’ve flown on quite a few airlines around the world. British Airways used to be absolutely terrific until they started cutting costs. I loved Korean Air and Finnair – they both made flying enjoyable. Which, after all, it should be. Flying should be enjoyable and, as a customer, you should come away from the experience feeling good. And I think that’s one of the key things that angers me so much about Qantas and the thing I find so unforgivable: they’ve spent a decade making flying an unhappy and unpleasant experience. Not because of ‘changes in the market’ or ‘financial pressures’ but just because they decided they could get away with it. Monopolies unfortunately have a tendency to do that.

So, in case you hadn’t already guessed, I really, really don’t like Qantas. 15-20 years ago it was a different story.

A completely fascinating thing for me is the resilience of Qantas’ customers. They’ll put up with anything because of Qantas’ supposed ‘safe airline’ status and the national pride Aussies felt. For a long time, despite everything that’s happened, any bad (or should I say ‘real’) news story about Qantas would always attract a string of vocal defenders of the company. It was like ‘I still fly Qantas because they’re the safesr airline and they’re Australian. It doesn’t matter about the bad service or anything else they do – I still fly them!’ Seriously, how many companies could lay claim to those sorts of customers – ones who will not only put up with being treated like crap but will actually defend the organisation treating them like crap.

But I’ve noticed recently there’s finally been a change. It seems like the cumulative effect of Qantas’ actions and attitudes over the last decade has finally come home to roost. Not because of one crash story or one price surcharge – but because of a decade of stories, one after the other. I’m actually meeting people thesedays who choose and prefer to fly Virgin Blue – even with the lack of included food & beverage service, even if they have to pay an $8 surcharge for luggage etc. People are saying to me they actually and actively seek to fly Virgin Blue whenever they can. That’s a huge shift – a huge cultural shift in the Australian airline industry. More and more people – customers – are saying “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” (stealing from Peter Finch in ‘Network’) about Qantas.

The current story about Qantas’ latest anti-customer move just had me shrugging my shoulders ‘and still people fly them,’ I thought. But the tide has definitely turned. And I can’t help feeling that, in the absence of any wholesale removal of their board of directors and managerment, the Australian airline industry would be better off without Qantas.

Check out this fantastic site:  http://www.qantassucksworld.com/

Thank God I’m A Man

Dedicated to all great Australian sportsmen (including Ian Thorpe)

I need a holiday!

A week here would release my 'dynamic tension'

A week here would release my 'dynamic tension'


It’s definite: I need a holiday. Tilt. Overload. Kerplunk.

You know when you’ve just had enough of everything and you need some time out? Yeah well, that’s where I’m at. I need a big fat week away somewhere doing sweet F.A.

Some shopping, some drinking, some walking and lots of sleep. Lazy mornings leading into lazy afternoons leading into a few beer-sodden nights. I reckon a week away would do me wonders right now.

I signed in to the computer at work today and there were 30 emails all wanting something done / printed / phoned / arranged etc. When I first started in this job a couple of years ago it could be up to 50 each morning so I should be able to do deal with 30. But as I started to go through them, more came in…and more…and more. Silly requests for things that didn’t need doing but nevertheless interrupted me wading through the first 30.

Snapping, I sent a ‘not doing this’ reply to a particularly pointless request. An angry reply (although probably pretty mild). Something about accommodation that didn’t make sense, didn’t need to be done at that point, would have caused a whole lot of new problems. Etcetera, etcetera. When all is ready and the time is right, I’ll do it and it’ll be done efficiently and beautifully. But not today and there are 30 other things that need to be done first.

Now this is the story of my working life. Every day is like this and has been for over two years. I grumble and groan about it but rarely snap. In fact, I’m used to it by now – and as it was, by about 1pm, I had all 30 things done and then some. So it shouldn’t have been a big deal. But therein lies the clue…

…the fact that I snapped told me something. My internal coping mechanism had decided to have a Kit-Kat break. And for a moment I turned into Lou Ferrigno…

When it gets to this stage...

When it gets to this stage...


It is at times like this you realise two things (1) you need to push your internal reset button before you pull out a gun and blow away half the floor and (2) you really need a holiday.

I’ve got a 3 week break coming up in late July – my first long break since 2006. But I’m not sure I can hold out til then. My ideal recovery position would be five or days in a nice hotel in Waikiki. I love Waikiki:- it’s crass, it’s tacky, it’s consumerist and, in short, it’s very much like me. But it also has perfect sunny weather, a really laid-back, relaxed vibe with a few nices places to get a cold beer and while away an afternoon or evening…

Ahhhh...memories....

Ahhhh...memories....


Unfortunately JudgeG’s own global economic crisis prevents such a beautiful week from happening. The budget may not stretch much further than a train ticket to Parramatta but I can always dream, can’t I?

I’ve been to Hawaii – specifically to Waikiki – six times – in the mid-late 90s and early 00s. People are always shocked and say ‘but it’s just like the Gold Coast, really touristy and tacky.’ Well, I don’t like the Gold Coast but I do love Waikiki. I call it ‘America Light’ – all the crass consumerism of the USA but with about 95% less of the danger. I’m very comfortable walking around Kuhio Avenue and taking buses to Ala Moana Shopping Centre and Pearl Ridge…but I’ve always been quite nervous doing the same thing in a ‘real’ American city like L.A. or Dallas. Yes, Honolulu has it’s crime and it’s own problems but nothing like the mainland.

Gimme a pair of shorts, a bright T-Shirt, a cap and a pair of thongs and I’m off to roam the streets of Waikiki. I may not get a lei but I always have fun.

Hmmmm…which one?

Dilemma: I was going to IKEA to get one of the items below but I can’t remember which one.

I know one of these is at IKEA...which one?

I know one of these is at IKEA...which one?

That’s a bit rude!

That's a bit rude!

That's a bit rude!

That’s a bit rude, isn’t it?

Accurate…but rude all the same! 😉

What do you mean ‘white trash Aussies?’

Some raw footage from a TV camera crew interviewing people after a shooting incident in Sydney’s notorious Kings Cross area. Famed for drugs, prostitution, sex clubs, strip joints…and that’s just the nice side of the street. Let’s see what average Aussies have to say about the shooting…