Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sinister April Fool's Day Prank

This news story confirms that most people don't read the details of on-line contracts, terms and agreements.
I'll be paying closer attention in future!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fun and Games for Profit

In the second week of the Easter school holidays Sport Boy went to Country Camp, a training and development camp for talented soccer players held at Christchurch Grammar. This is him on the first day, awaiting instructions. I wasn't too impressed with their organisational abilities and lack of communication. With a hundred kids and their parents standing around no-one took any form of leadership or provided any communication about what to do or what was to happen. Maybe the kids were just supposed to intuitively know what to do, or pick up instructions by osmosis? I don't know.
My faith was given another shake the following day when I dropped in on the camp around dinner time to find Sport Boy with a plate full of non gluten-free food! SB (and Favourite Daughter and Mrs Holt Press) are all gluten intolerant and the consequences can be quite unpleasant if they eat food with gluten in it). Sport Boy missed a week of school recently for that very reason. So despite our clear communication on his medical form the camp had not provided any special diet for him! I questioned the cook who pled ignorance but assured me that from then on they would have healthy alternatives for him at meal times!
Just as well I had called in. I was on my way home to Perth and very nearly didn't stop, in fact I turned around and went back in order to do so. Considering we paid a significant amount of money in order for him to go on the camp it was not very satisfactory. On the upside, at the end of the camp Sport Boy was selected as one of the reserve squad for a team who will go to Singapore for a tournament later this year. He may not get to go but it was a great effort and commendation on his part to be picked. 
Soccer season starts next week, although his team, which I coach, the Cornerstone Giants, have a bye in the first round. We started training this week and I was impressed with the application and attitude of the kids. We've lost a few players and gained 4 new ones and they look like they'll be quite useful.

On Monday I ran a team building training day for the office staff from the high school. Here you can see them working on some problem solving games that help with teamwork and communication.l They all seemed to enjoy the day and when I dropped in to the school a couple of days later several of them thanked me and said how good a way it had been to start the term. 

On Wednesday I ran an overnight leadership camp for the student councillors and house captains down at the Venison Farm campsite near Margaret River. It's a fantastic venue that I have used a number of times before and it is perfect for the style of camp I was running. I did a lot of team building games, ice breakers, cooperation games, initiative problem solving exercises, trust games and challenges as well as sessions on public speaking, goal setting and communication skills. We packed a lot into the 21 hours we had available!
These are the sort of programs I've been running for many years, at the schools I worked at and for groups such as Rotary on RYLA and Rypen camps etc. It is nice to be able to take it the next step and use them in the process of working for myself and developing my own "small business". The kids had a great time which is the best affirmation of my work but it's rewarding to now being remunerated for it as well.

I'm getting more bus driving shifts now which brings in regular income, along with my taxi driving. On Tuesday I'm doing some training for the inter-town coach service to Augusta and on Thursday I commence a regular day of town service driving.
In between this is when I hope to keep expanding my contract work for the high school and eventually other schools and groups as well. I'll find out this week whether I've been successful in my application for some funding to run the Behind the White Crosses project this year.
And I'm already under way in my next contract for the school, managing and organising Country Week for them. Again, this was something I did in my role as chaplain so there is a natural progression in me doing it as an outside contractor especially as I'm able to build on my existing experience and networks from the last few years. 

I'm driving town service buses tomorrow which unfortunately means I won't be home to watch the footy and see Geelong play Carlton. I'll be glued to the trannie on the dashboard of the bus though. There have been three upsets in the footy already this weekend so I'm hoping the Cats will be on guard against it happening to them.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Back to School

School's back so I'm back too, on the school bus. After two weeks off I needed to reprogram my brain, I almost made two wrong turns today, lucky the kids were on the ball and let me know in time!
Spike and I had rehearsals last night and tonight; the play is starting to take shape. My part is pretty small. Spike has more to say than me and brings a good dose of humour to his part.
Rehearsals finished early enough tonight for me to make it to scrabble club for the last game which turned out to be a cliff hanger against Sue which I finally won by 7 points.
Tomorrow I'm running a leadership training camp for the student councillors and house captains down at Venison Farm in Margaret River. It's the sort of camp I ran many times as a chaplain but this time I'm doing it on contract and working for myself. I'll be away for the night. Hopefully the kids on the bus will behave for my fill-in.
I ran a team-building workshop for the admin and office staff at the school yesterday which went pretty well. My first forays into contract work have been enjoyable and successful, all I need to do now is build up a bigger client base and establish a reputation for providing good services to my customers.

The only negative at the moment is that I hurt my back a few days ago, I'm not sure how. It really hampered my movement and it is still sore though a lot better than it was. It will prevent me from playing volleyball in the opening game of the season on Thursday night though.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Come on You Spurs, Go Cats

Saturday: 10 hours of bus driving follwed by 11 hours of taxi driving with half an hour in between!

Not surprisingly I was pretty tired by the end of it!

Today the Sparrows came over for lunch. A sunday arvo barbie with good friends, it doesn't get much better than that.

Sport Update
There was great news overnight. Tottenham continued their brilliant form by beating league leaders Chelsea 2-1.
When I knew Spurs had to play Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United in consecutive games I was understandably pessimistic. They are the top three teams in the league after all.
Beating Arsenal was fantastic, beating Chelsea too was incredible.
I can't imagine how I'll feel if we beat Man U as well!

And this arvo Geelong pulverised Port Adelaide just for some icing on the cake.
James Podsiadly, 28 year old rookie playing his second game for the Cats kicked 5 goals.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Worth Staying Up For!

   I stayed up very late last night to watch the crucial game between Spurs and deadly rivals Arsenal. Spurs needed to win to keep their chances of qualifying for the European Champions League (top 4 in the Premier League). Arsenal needed to win to maintain their chance of winning the league title.
The problem was that Spurs haven't beaten the Gooners in the league for 11 years!!!!
There've been a couple of notable Cup victories and a few dramatic draws, like coming back three times last season to draw 4-4!
There was also the disappointment of being knocked out of the Cup by Portsmouth on Sunday to overcome.
The odds and history seemed against a Spurs victory.
Throw into the mix a 19 year old kid making his debut in front of a packed house at White Hart Lane in one of the biggest games of the season, Danny Rose.
Would he be over-awed?
Could Tottenham win?

Watch this and marvel at one of the greatest goals ever scored, anywhere, by anybody!
Seriously, I'm not exaggerating, this is a stunning goal and it set Spurs on the road to a famous victory.
Come on you Spurs!

My Address at the Memorial Opening on Saturday

I wonder if we realise how truly blessed we are?
We live in Australia, not just one of the best countries in the world but also one of the safest.
We enjoy a lifestyle virtually unmatched by any other nation on earth.
At least in part because we have a continent all to ourselves and don’t share a border with any other country we enjoy great security and safety.
We may be guilty of taking these things for granted, of not truly appreciating just how well off we are.
Further to that, we live in Busselton, a quiet little seaside town, a jewel on the beautiful coastline of the near perfect south west of Western Australia.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say there are few better places to live anywhere on the planet.
But twice in the last few years, Busselton’s heart has been broken by events in other parts of the world.
There is a huge gap between the world’s rich and poor, the haves and have-nots, and this has served to reinforce the differences and inequalities between peoples and nations.
The world is greatly troubled, conflict is widespread and many resort to acts of violence, destruction and murder as weapons of terror.
While we live in peace, many other countries suffer at the hands of terrorism, war and violence on a daily basis.
In desperate circumstances, corrupt and evil forces can and do seduce the weak, the unwary and the gullible.
Some have come to believe the lies; that murder and terrorism can enable them to achieve their aims.
Fuelled by ignorance mistrust and hatred, religious fanaticism has manipulated desperate people into committing heinous acts of evil and terror.
Carol and Brendan are just two of hundreds who were killed maimed or injured in Bali and countless other places.
Beautiful Busselton suffered doubly and many of you here experienced a pain too unimaginable to contemplate or describe.
How do we respond to these awful events?
What can we do?
We have cried many tears and mourned our dead. The pain has diminished but slightly.
We have only our memories to hold on to, to enjoy, to draw comfort from.

Now we have a place. A special place. A place dedicated to the memory of Carol and Brendan. A place conceived, designed and constructed by their family and friends as a tribute to their lives and their memory.
Here on our beautiful coast we have a place we can come, to remember, to contemplate, to pray. I hope that this will be a place of peace and friendship and honour and even celebration.

But, I believe we have to do more.

I don’t believe we can just hunker down in our safe refuge and ignore the problems of the world.
In possibly the greatest message ever preached, the sermon on the mount, Jesus said something I believe to be completely applicable to us today.
“Blessed are the peacemakers”.
Let me elaborate on that simple statement.
Jesus didn’t say “blessed are the peacekeepers” but rather the peacemakers.
We are familiar with peacekeepers in the modern world, armed soldiers sent to places of conflict to keep warring parties at bay. Their role, though vital to safety and security, is only to impose peace through superior force. It does not produce lasting peace because it does not resolve the root causes of the problems that lead to conflict in the first place.
I believe we need peacemakers.
In fact I believe we need to be peacemakers ourselves.
That means we need to actively, consistently and persistently work towards making peace.
Where there is conflict we need to work for peace, whether that be in places of war or in our school or workplace or in our own homes. To make peace requires hard work. To make peace requires us to listen, and understand and empathise with both sides and to promote reconciliation, restitution and forgiveness.
It’s not easy to make peace but ultimately when we do the impact is greater and longer lasting. We personally can’t resolve the conflict that leads to terrorism but we can work to learn about other people, to see inside their worlds and to look for ways to cooperate, co-exist and work together. We can choose a path dedicated to living at peace with others.
I’d like to think that Carol and Brendan’s memories would be honoured by such actions of peace making on our part.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Catching Up and Catching my Breath

It's been busy the last few days. Here's why.
Friday I had the brakes fixed on my car. That metal on metal sound was becoming annoying. Mrs Holt Press did the dropping off and picking up because I was driving a bus all day doing the town service (long shift, 10 hours)  runs. ie. four trips to Dunsborough, one to Geographe and 1 1/2 to Broadwater. In the arvo Jeff rang to ask if I wanted to cover a shift for someone in the taxi that night. Yes. Thankfully it was a 9pm start and early finish (by early I mean 2:15, as opposed to 4.00am). As taxi shifts go it was quite good, not too many ferals and reasonably busy, those being the two critical criteria for a good night in the cab. A couple of drive-throughs at McDonalds with some friendly rather than obnoxious customers, that sort of thing. Maccas is open 24 hours now but only for drive through after midnight so the pub crowd with the munchies have to hire a taxi to get their fix of fast food. Quarter Pounders seem to be the most popular.

Saturday morning I was up early (8.00 rather than 12, a typical post cab rising time) because there was a trundle bed for sale at a garage sale in Abbey. Mrs HP had mentioned she'd like one a couple of weeks ago. With the high number of sleepovers and house guests the kids entertain it would be more convenient than the mattress on the floor routine. The trundle was not exactly as I envisaged it, ie. white metal and "girlie" looking but this was no time to be fussy, trundle beds don't come up very often besides which the two mattresses were in good condition. 
Feigning casual interest I asked how much they wanted for it. 
Hmmm, a bit more than I wanted to pay. 
Of course, as you well know I am a committed haggler. 
After a couple of thoughtful minutes I asked "would you take a hundred?" as my opening bid. 
That was easier than I expected! Nice!
And they even offered to deliver it once we worked out it wouldn't fit in the back of my car, even with nice new brakes.

Of course I didn't just drive past the 4-5 other garage sales I saw on the way back but apart from a few cheap dvds I didn't buy anything else.

I was by then under a little bit of time pressure as I was due at the foreshore at 10.00am for the official opening of a memorial built in honour of Carol and Brendan, the two Busselton people killed in the two Bali bombings. Their family and friends, along with Rotary worked hard to create the memorial which is perfect in my opinion. I was invited to speak at the opening. The list of speakers read as follows:
Lawrie Walter, Rotary Club President
Troy Buswell, local member and state treasurer
Barry House, local upper house member
Ian Stubbs, Shire President
and me! Introduced erroneously as "Reverend Marcus Holt"
I gave a reflection and concluded with a prayer. I'll post a copy of my message seperately.
Several people thanked or complimented me for my words when we moved on to The Equinox cafe for refreshments. 
It was nice to be asked to be involved seeing as I am no longer the chaplain at the high school. 

Saturday afternoon I did the short town service shift in the bus (5 hours) then straight into the cab for another 10 hours of taxi driving on
Saturday night. I was pretty stuffed by about 2.00am and on the way back from a trip out to the sticks had to pull over and sleep for a couple of hours or I would not have gotten home safely. I had already done a long run down to Rosa Brook, south of Margaret River to drop some kids off at what looked like being a pretty wild party. Some one was throwing handfuls of stones at the cab while I was turning around. Tempted as I was to get out and "sort them out", I decided to drive on and leave them to their drunken stupidity.
I'd seen a sign saying Busselton 50km on the way so decided to take this "short cut" back to town! Hmmm!
Might reconsider that decision next time.
There were no further signs, just a succession of intersections, cross roads, T-junctions and dirt roads to choose from. I made it as far as a T-junction on North Jindong Rd which sounded familiar but by then I'd lost my bearings and with the southern cross seemingly directly overhead couldn't work out which way was north so I did what any intrepid explorer would do, I rang Spike on my mobile and asked him to google some directions for me!
Sadly that didn't work out easily as his interpretation of google maps left something to be desired. Just then a light appeared and I waved down a young bloke in a ute. 
"Are you lost?"
"Follow me, I'll get yo to Vasse"
Great, thanks.
To my dismay he turned down what I would have considered to be the third of the three options available!
But, within a couple of minutes I was on Kaloorup Rd and headed back to familiar territory.
The fare by the way had cost them $122, $36 of which was taken up with driving into town so they could buy booze at the bottle shop. The drink of choice? Two warm bottles of Chardonnay for $5 each!! Very classy!

I crawled into bed at about 5.30 only to be up again 5 hours later so we could drive up to Perth on 
Sunday morning
for the footy. Geelong v Fremantle at Subi. We being the whole family minus Spike who somehow skipped the football gene and thus is definitely the black sheep of the Holt Press family!
Enroute we dropped off a trailer loaded with a BBQ and a mattress at The Heir's place in Munster (seriously!). I bought a Barbie at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago so passed on our old (but still good) one to The Heir. That's what Heirs are for after all.We'd been planning to park 'n ride and take the train to the footy but time was running out so we ended up driving all the way in and parking at my favourite secret parking spot, behind St Barnabus' church. A few other people have discovered my secret but I managed to squeeze in.
We met The Heir at the game, and what a game it was, a real thriller, 14 lead changes I think!
The Cats played great but the Dockers played just that little bit better and got up by 7 points in a thriller.
I was not disheartened. Geelong were by no means disgraced and in the circumstances had nearly pulled off a great win against the odds. It was a "coming of age" game for Freo and represents their best start to a season ever! (Pitiful that 3 wins in a row is their best ever start but let's not be churlish!)
We had texts and messages from various Freo fans scattered around the ground and I caught up with Big Brother the accountant and Julie, a former colleague and fellow Cat fan at half time.
Despite the loss I had fun stirring up the big crowd of Freo fans inching their way through the subway tunnel at West Leederville, inviting them to join me in singing "We are Geelong, the greatest team of all"!
Predictably I was booed and howled down along with plenty of laughs before the "Freo Freo" chant drowned me out!

We had dinner at Hans Cafe in Subi, (beautiful fish curry Mmmm!) followed by ice cream at Il Gelato before I was dropped off at the Chatteau d'Taffrail and the rest of the family headed for home.
I stayed up in Perth because I had  a job to do on 

driving a bus back to Busselton. It had been being serviced at a place in Kewdale and as I was already going to be in Perth it was convenient for me to pick it up and drive it home. Which I did. Uneventfully.

Monday night I had rehearsals for the play, "It Runs in the Family", in which I am playing the police sergeant
and Spike is playing an 18 year old punk!

Sport Update: There was another disappointing result on Sunday night. Tottenham, despite being hot favourites, were knocked out of the FA Cup, losing the semi-final to lowly Portsmouth who are not only bankrupt but also destined to be relegated from the Premier League. I couldn't watch the game but followed it closely on the internet and had a growing sense of foreboding that it wasn't going to be Spurs' day as chance after chance went begging before Pompey snatched the lead in extra time! Rats. The Champion's League spot we so covet is also under threat having been overtaken by Manchester City following the loss to Sunderland last week and the run from hell starting this week with successive games against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United which will no doubt decide our fate!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Post Easter Wrap Up

The Easter Art exhibition experiment was a flop. Wrong place, no people. Despite the fact there were thousands of tourists in town for the weekend, none of them came to see my art, it was too far away from the action and the pedestrian traffic areas of town. Oh well, it was an attempt worth trying and something I've learnt a few clear lessons from. The main one being that old real estate adage, "Location, location, location!" On the positive side, of the 20 odd people who did come in, one of them bought one small painting. Sadly the price paid will only cover half of the cost of hiring the display stands from the local school!
There was another lady who expressed interest in a picture but tried to beat my price down by a hundred dollars then asked if she could lay-by it! Not sure if we'll end up doing a deal or not!

It's school holidays which means no school bus driving which means no income! I've got a couple of days of town service driving which will bring in a little bit and a couple of jobs to do for the school in the first week of term.

I have put in a submission for some funding for the Behind the White Crosses project, I'm not confident about it  but I'm hopeful that if not through this source then through some other funding body I may be able to get some money in order to run the program this year. I'll find out the result on the 28th. Fingers crossed.

Mrs Holt Press is in Perth tonight, having gone on a "rescue mission" to get Favourite Daughter home. FD injured her foot a few days ago and is having trouble driving. Toni drove the Kombi to Perth but FD can't drive it back so Mrs HP has gone up to drive it for her. There were further dramas this afternoon that required several phone calls and some problem solving skills on my part to sort out. I think everything is OK now. They'll be home tomorrow, after a visit to the myopractor in Bunbury enroute, hopefully he'll help get FD's foot working properly again.

Sport Boy is staying at Ben A's tonight, no doubt having a wonderful time and going to bed very late!
He is going on a special soccer camp next week,"Country Camp" designed for talented soccer players from around the state. He's understandably excited about it. The soccer season starts in a couple of weeks which means I'll be pulling out the coaches clipboard again and trying to instil some skills and strategies into the Cornerstone Giants in the U13 comp.

Spike and I have something in common: we've both got parts in an upcoming play being staged in Busselton. I showed him the ad for auditions in the local paper a couple of weeks ago and he went along, scoring the part of a teenage boy with punk tendencies (typecasting!). A follow up ad said they were still looking for a couple of males to fill remaining roles so with Spike's approval I went along to rehearsals and will be playing the part of a police sargeant! It's an English comedy set in a hospital. Hopefully it will be fun for us and the audience.

Geelong had another good, come from behind victory on the weekend to beat Hawthorn by 9 points. We're all going to the footy in Perth on Sunday to see the Cats play the Dockers who are undefeated, to everyon'e surprise, and playing very well. With Scarlett and Mooney out and the game being played at Subiaco I won't be surprised if Freo win! Not that I'm writing off the Cats and nor will I be surprised if we win, but it will be a tough challenge. Geelong barely got up last season when Matthew Pavlich had a shot at the end of the game that would have won the game for Freo and missed! We may not be so lucky this time round.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Easter Art

I've got one day left to get my Easter Art Exhibition ready! Wish me luck!
I've got the use of this building in exchange for painting three rooms inside. So far I've got half of one room done!! I suspect it will be a long night!
I'm picking up some display stands from the local Catholic college shortly which should make hanging a little easier.
It used to be a vet hospital so as an art space it's a little unusual but there are lots of rooms, good parking and access and it's situated on the main road so I hope my signs will attract some of the passing holiday crowd in town for Easter.

Favourite Daughter and Spike have returned from Perth and Sport Boy is back from his camp so the house is full again. School holidays start tomorrow which means no school bus run for two weeks (no pay either!) but I am doing a couple of days of town shifts during the break. Let's hope I sell some art!!!