Aug 30

My first bank account was with the State Bank of Victoria. I opened it when I was in Prep in 1969.  Here it is, in Gray Street, Hamilton.  On the right of the photo.

The SBV was bought by the Commonwealth Bank in 1990.

Today I walked into the Commonwealth Bank in Cheltenham and closed 2 accounts, thereby ending my long association with the bank.

The branch is your modern looking bank.  All gleaming and welcoming.  There’s a little foyer where the ATMs are and a concierge desk with two computer screens and a smiling face of a very nice man asking if he could help me.  Above him is the current bank promotion, the Dollarmites Club.  I signed my kids up for Dollarmites when they were in school.  It was how I was introduced to banking, taking my passbook along to school on banking day and depositing 20 cents.  Some at the Commonwealth Bank used the Dollarmites system to gain personal financial advantage.

The staff were very helpful, the process took longer than necessary I thought. The nice man asked me what I was going to do with my mortgage, I snorted and said I didn’t have one!

Anyway, he asked where I was moving my banking. Bank Australia I said. He then told me that he has only ever seen one branch for them, and he’s lucky to have seen one. Bank Australia has few branches, they use online and Australia Post. In fact, this was the first time in some years that I’d actually walked into a branch to conduct business.

At the end of the process, he looked at his screen and looked at me and remarked that I’d been with the bank for 33 years. Longer, I replied, I was also with the State Bank. He then asked the burning question, “Why are you leaving after all this time?”

The reasons are complex, and for some strange brain functioning on my part, it really is something that should have happened years ago.

Australians rarely change banks. Probably because it’s just too hard. It is quite the process. I needed to firstly open a new account at a new bank and then move each of my direct debits, automatic payments and various payment methods to the new bank.

My children and I all had Commonwealth Bank accounts, this was to allow the quick transfer of money. I’ve often said that the only time I hear from my children is when they want money.

These days with the introduction of PayID transferring money between banks happens within minutes. The old days, you know, a couple of months ago, saw your money disappear from your account and be caught up in some holding pattern before landing in another banks account.

The real clincher for me, however, was the banking royal commission.

This is what I told my new teller friend. I wanted a bank that had some ethical standards, who saw me as a member and not simply an account holder.

The Commonwealth Bank has been embroiled in scandal after scandal.  Each of the big banks has been.  They continue to reap the rewards of huge profits despite their proven fraudulent behaviour.

Bank Australia is the place to be for now.

In all my years at the Commonwealth, they have never given regard to my loyalty.  Without question, I fronted up to them for personal loans, a housing loan, credit cards, savings accounts and so on.  The most I ever got out of them was an unattractive interest rate and a computer mouse.

Yes, they once sent me a mouse for being a loyal customer.  Back in the 2000s.  I wrote to them and said I’d prefer money in the bank next time they wanted to reward my loyalty.  I never got a response.

So, the loyalty has been one way.  Action needed!  So, off I went.

What’s holding you back?

Mar 02

I’m sitting high up above the earth, flying towards Sydney. Michael is beside me, and a woman on the other side by the window. She has proper travel etiquette, not engaging with me at all for the duration. I really struggle with small talk.

I’m relaxed, have my tablet open, connected to the WiFi watching a program about comedy. I had never given any thought to women in comedy, and I’m somewhat taken aback by the notion that women have fought hard to overcome misogyny and discrimination in the comedy field. This is a revelation to me. Upon reflection, of course, I can see my error. Women have been the subject of jokes, making fun of them, suggesting that they are stupid, all for a couple of laughs. It’s been a long hard road for acceptance.

Planes are strange things, they hurl through the air at high speed and then somehow land, and generally speaking nobody dies.

The worst part of flying, I think, is just before landing. As the ‘Fasten Seatbelts’ sign comes on the aircraft starts its descent. You already know that you have no right to be up here where only clouds and birds belong, you also know that coming in contact with the ground in an uncontrolled fashion will be detrimental to your health. Even though you may understand that aeroplanes land without incident on a regular basis, there is nothing that prepares you for the insane reaction that your body has as you start going down.

It’s a combination of the drop in altitude and deceleration that is really scary. As the plane slows down you instinctively know that this is dangerous, it’s only speed that keeps you up here. Throw in a bit of turbulence, and even the most rational and sane amongst us will shit their pants.

The final insult is when the wheels do finally hit the ground. The engines scream in protest as they are thrown into reverse. You tense up, those fucking wheels are round, they roll, the struts they sit on the end of have suspension, and yet it feels like you are about to hit a brick wall.

At last a lovely voice says ‘Please remain seated until the aircraft comes to a complete stop’ and you give thanks to the science that means you are stopping in a controlled manner and not by having your feet shoved through your mouth. Now to get ready for the flight home.

Aug 09

Abbey’s letter writing campaign arrives at day 4.  She reminds the PM that while she understands he may be busy running the country, it’s polite to respond to your correspondence in a timely fashion.

Her question is unchanged.  Will he allow Michael and me, and all others who chose to, to get married in Australia?

 

To Tony Abbott

this is the 4th letter I am

writing to you about gay

marriage.

I haven’t had a reply from

you yet so when you have time

Please write back.

I know it’s hard running a

county.

Will you change your mind

about gay marriage?

from

Abbey
Letter4

Letter 1 Letter 2 Letter 3 Letter 5 Letter 6 Letter 7

Tagged with:
May 17
kissing

Click the photo to see the kiss

Some guy kissed another guy and it made it to the telly.

Some guys don’t get the whole kissing thing and when two men do it they get all nervous.

The guy doing the kissing is an American football player, Michael Sam.  He’s gay and the first one of us to be drafted into the footy. One of us being a gay man, not just a man.  That’s significant as there are very few gay people who are out and in professional sports anywhere in the world.

The guys doing the nervous things are mostly christians.

The particular guy I want to highlight is Bernard Gaynor.  He’s a fundamentalist christian who thinks that gay people are sinners and we don’t have to be gay.  He blogs here.

He wrote about the President of the USA saying this:

The President congratulates Michael Sam, the St. Louis Rams, and the NFL for taking an important step forward in our nation’s journey.  From the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove every day that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are, and certainly the fact that Michael Sam was drafted represents and reflects what he did on the field in his college career.

Gaynor says this:

On Sunday, the most important man in the world stopped whatever he was doing to #bringbackourgirls to talk about a gay man because he was gay and famous for promoting his proclivities for homosexuality across the length and breadth of the entire known universe.

Gaynor then goes on to ask why the President is congratulating Sam at all, as Sam wasn’t the 1st or 2nd pick in the draft, but the 249th pick.  He wants to know why the President didn’t congratulate all the other players who are clearly much more deserving.  The answer is of course, that the President loves gay people and Gaynor hates them.  Well, he hates the sin, he probably loves the sinner.

Then he gives us this little line:

Finally, let’s examine the context of Obama’s oft-commented statement.

Yes, let’s!!

Christians so love to have context, they always ensure that when they quote something from the bible it’s in context.  We’re told to read the line before and the line after to make sure that we have the correct context.

Here’s the line before the oft-commented statement:

Dave

Q Thanks, Jay. I don’t think this came up yesterday. Did the President express any thoughts about Michael Sam being the first gay player to be drafted by the NFL?

MR. CARNEY: What I can tell you is that

The Q at the start is short for Question.  Dave is the person asking the question, then a Mr. Carney says, “What I can tell you is that the President congratulates…. ” Now just for extra clarity, let me quote the line after the oft-commented statement:

Carol

Q Did the President think it was appropriate that the Miami Dolphins punished, fined, disciplined that player who tweeted —

MR. CARNEY: I haven’t spoken to him about that.

After that answer from Mr Carney the next question is about a US district court appointment, and just for context, the question before Dave asked his was about immigration reform.

You see, what the President said, he didn’t really say out loud to anyone but his Press Secretary, I know this because I’ve watched West Wing.  Therefore I’m an expert on US politics.

The question was ask at the Whitehouse in a press briefing, the briefing ran from 12.45 p.m to 1.36 p.m. on the 13 May 2014.  That’s 51 minutes, just after lunch time on a Tuesday afternoon.  The draft happened at around 10.00 a.m on 11 May, a few days earlier.

The way I see this happening is that the Press Secretary, Jay Carney, meets with the President early Tuesday morning and they have a talk about topics that the press is likely to ask.  Jay thinks that the press will probably ask about Michael Sam, and asks the President what he wants to say.  Barrack responds with something along the lines of:  “Oh just congratulate him and say something about how great it is that gay people are getting recognised.  He’s a sweet guy.”  Then they move on to the next topic.

So, all up about a minute long discussion.  The world didn’t stop, and the most important man in the world, according to Gaynor, didn’t devote too much time to it.  He didn’t call a press conference, or break into the regular Sunday night viewing.  No, what he did was leave it to his Press Secretary, and the only reason the President’s quote even got out there is that a journalist asked the question, between many other non-related questions, of what the President thought about the gay footballer making the draft.  If that question hadn’t been asked, the response would never have been forth-coming.

Whether it’s on the playing field or in the corporate boardroom, the LGBT bedroom has been thrust upon Americans by the man in charge of its state apparatus. This bedroom is now the US government’s business and it will make sure everyone gives adulation to those who lie therein.

Nothing was thrust upon us apart from Gaynor’s rabid imagination.  The media only gives us the quote that is relevant to a story.  The President has no concern for what’s happening in anyone’s bedroom but his own, and maybe his daughter’s.  He didn’t offer any adulation, he simply answered a question via his Press Secretary.

Gaynor has gone off half-cocked.  You’d reckon someone who is so clear about understanding moral issues in the world would take the time to find out what was really said and in what context.  The President at the time of the press briefing was meeting with law enforcement leaders to discuss immigration reform.  It took a few minutes for me to find the source of the quote, and then to discover what the President was actually doing.  It’s really pretty straight forward research.  Gaynor and those of his ilk will stop at nothing to demonise anyone who is at odds with their world view.

I’m sure there’s a line in the bible about not bearing false witness.  I’d have to go and check the context.

Jun 20

2012_web_logoI work for a non-profit organisation.  Family Life.  I’ve been with them for well over ten years now.

When I started blogging and getting involved in social media I made a decision to keep my online world very separate from my working life.  Today however, it’s time to bring the two things together.

I work for Family Life because I believe in what it does.  We are about transforming lives for stronger communities.

There’s a good reason why I work here, as you read this information from the “About Us” on our website, if you know me well, think about my social activism, my core values and the sort of person I am.  It’s a bit of a surprise at just how closely the values of my work place align with my own personal values.

Family Life assists families, children and young people as well as making our society a better place for everyone including the most disadvantaged and vulnerable.

At the heart of our enterprise is the authentic grass-root relationships with our people, the people we help and the people of the community.

Family Life is a centre of research, knowledge and innovation delivering measurable social change and impact.

We contribute to national and international knowledge through our reputation for changing lives by effective connection, care and transformation.

Family Life offers counselling, mediation, mental health services, support and community educational services, outreach to homes, case coordination and advocacy.

I am the first to admit that I’d suck at counselling.  However, I can see the value of it.  I’ve been the recipient of it (not at work!). I have heard the stories from the people I work with that turn people’s lives around.

The story of how we helped reduce the number of police visits to a housing estate by engaging with the community and helping them become leaders, now the police attend not to deal with a crisis but to help cook the breakfast.  The impact we have by going into schools and helping parents become leaders and how that turns around the school community.

This is brilliant work.  I’m often gob smacked by the impact those I work with have on others.  I know it’s not work that I can do.  But, in my own way, I hope that by supporting my colleagues through my ICT, Property and communication skills I might be making their job easier so that they can get on and do the important work that needs doing.

This stuff doesn’t come cheap.  Some of our great programs receive no government funding and we do our best to fund raise to cover the gaps, but that is getting harder.  We need some help to keep programs like Peopleworx alive.  Peopleworx is about helping getting kids working.  We need a bit of a kick to keep the Creating Capable Communities work going.

Can you help?  Can you make that all important tax-deductible donation to assist in this important work?

Visit the website and make a small contribution.  (Or even a large one).  It all helps.

I can say with confidence that we are an organisation that is well run, careful and progressive.  It has a great staff of over 100 people and 350 volunteers, it reaches many thousands of people across Melbourne’s south east offering support and help to those in need.  We really do take our mission seriously:

To create caring, capable communities through innovative, ethical solutions, promoting wellbeing, and responding to the needs of families, children and young people.

Thanks for reading.

https://familylife.com.au/donate/

Tagged with:
May 29

I’ve lived in Melbourne for over 15 years now, I’ve become a suburban dweller, mostly leaving behind my rural lifestyle.   Michael often comments on the change in my personality as we drive over the Westgate bridge on the way out west to Hamilton.

My journey on a Tuesday morning is touched with a great sadness as we head home to be with my mother as she dies. A flurry of  communication yesterday says that she’s expected to die in the next day or two. Of course there is no certainty of when, but this advice from the professionals is never given lightly.

I can feel a change in my mood as we bypass Geelong and head into Western Victoria, it’s a pleasant feeling of fond memories in going home. The landscape becomes familiar and I recognise the buildings in the small towns as we drive through. I’m on the phone to my family in Western Australia, just checking in and seeing how things are going with them. We talk about their plans for coming home, flying and driving.

We go straight to the nursing home, it becomes a rallying point as my brothers and sisters, partners and aunties gather around the bed.

My mum is a frail shell, her eyes are partly open, her mouth closed with cheeks puffing with each exhale, her breathing is shallow.

What a life, this head strong woman that raised eleven children, supported them with numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her involvement in our lives and the great interest in each and everyone of us. Her obvious love for her husband, our dad for over 60 years.

We knew this was coming, and here we are now. Gathered around her bed, laughing, joking, sitting silently, but mostly we wait.

Tagged with:
preload preload preload