Month: September 2007

Just Heard The News Today

The journey through life is uncertain.  It is the unexpected news that can change our outlook on life instantly.  Sometimes it is a shared event that everyone remembers.  It could be anything from a celebrity death to a terrorist attack.

It’s the personal events that really shock.  Recently, I have had such a jolt.  It is the classic reaction to initially resist the possibility.  Then, it becomes more like denial.  Hopefully acceptance comes later.

There really isn’t much personally that I can do.  I can give my support and do whatever I can but I cannot reverse the possibility of what might happen.   It is terrible to feel so unable to help with the battle.

I can’t get into the details right now and perhaps I never will.  Its fairly safe to talk about the emotions of this moment but I do not want to upset the emotions of the other people involved.

At this moment in time, I want so much.  It is hard to let go of the belief that things will not change for the worse.  I know everything will be okay eventually but the skeptic in me finds it difficult to accept.

These are the kind of times that make me feel numb.  The raw emotion just tears away strips and it is hard to allow this to happen without reacting with some kind of armor.  Its never been easy this way.

So, on we go.  The ride continues and we don’t know where it is going but we do know that we can’t expect that we will always get what we want.  Somehow deep inside we find what we need to do and we do it anyways.

It is these difficult times that truly define who we are.

As was once explained to me, it is on the field of battle that people are sorted.

The person who does exactly what they are meant to do can walk across this battlefield unscathed.

However, it is incredibly difficult to follow this path without being dragged into the vortexes of  defeat.

The point is that you have to believe that you are strong enough and wise enough to make the right choices.   It’s time to put this advice into use.

Advice That Helps

Some time ago, I mentioned an article by Marshall Goldsmith that I really enjoyed. It’s called “The Best Advice I Ever Received” and it is about advice that he received as a Ph.D. student from his mentor Dr. Fred Case.

It is only two pages long and takes just a few minutes to read. I highly recommend reading this since it will most likely relate to your situation as well.

In a time when it is so easy to find fault, it is good to know that there is another way of looking at things that can completely change not only your work but also your life as well.

I agree with Marshall that this advice is the best.

Marshall Goldsmith's latest book

Marshall, being a very busy man, has written many books. His latest book is called “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There“. Check it out if you get a chance.

Marshall also has a blog that you will find in the blogroll on this blog. He also has many other articles and other material available at his main location.

Yet another restored post from citrite.org.  The advice is classic and applies to anyone that thinks that complaining is enough to solve problems.  It is clear that decent solutions require help from all levels and the commitment to follow through.

Shrimp On The Barbie – The Land of Oz

Australia Satellite Picture

It’s probably one of the most famous quotes from international tourism advertising. Paul Hogan was the star of the 1984 (can you believe it?) tourism campaign for bringing tourists to Australia. There is a good summary of “Shrimp on the barbie” phrase at Wikipedia. It’s important to note that Australians use the word prawn instead of shrimp and that Australians rarely put prawns on the barbie (which is indeed slang for BBQ). Never mind that, we are dealing with marketing genius.

There was news in April 2007 that one of the creative duo that came up with this ad campaign died. Alan Morris passed away at the age of 64 from cancer. He and his creative working partner Allan Johnston had formed the company Mojo to work with many of Australia’s leading companies to create some of the most memorable ads in Australia.

It took some searching but I found a copy of the commercial with Paul Hogan on YouTube. The quality isn’t the highest but you can still make out important features.

Almost every American I’ve met in America wants to go to Australia. It usually goes something like this:

Them: Where are you coming from?

Me: Australia

Them: Really? I’ve always wanted to go there.

Me: Yes. It’s even better than the ads.

Even though I believe that these people really want to go, very few will actually travel to Australia. I guess it is a mixture of travel time, cost, and not having vacation time to enjoy the trip. That could explain why there are so many older people that end up taking the journey “Down Under”.

There is a heck of a lot of slang here. Take the amount of slang in America and the UK and double it and maybe you might be getting close to how much is here. Most Australians understand American and UK slang because of the TV. Unfortunately this is not true for the UK and US visitors as well. It might be the same core language but the additional slang can make it very interesting sometimes. This becomes even more true the further you get from the capital cities.

I have been here 10 years now and I still get hit with this. Occasionally I will hear a phrase or word I’ve never heard before and either I politely pretend like I know what it is or I actually say to them “What is (insert slang here)?”. It is good that most Australians will explain and even have a bit of a chuckle at the Yank.

I do not think there really is any decent way to prepare for it since most books do not reveal how common the slang really is. You could end up training yourself on words that have not been used since the fifties. It is probably best to swallow your pride and ask when you hear something that does not make sense.

If you like, I have found an online slang dictionary that you can scan.

I will even give you examples:

Be sure to get bullbars on your ute to stop the damage from roos

Chrissie is always the best time for pressies

Get Aeroguard for the mozzies

Hoons drive like yobbos

I have also included here a web page about Australia food slang.

Oh, one more thing. Australians are some times referred to as Aussies. This is pronounced OZZIES, not AUSSIES. It it a dead give away that you are an American tourist that does not know the slang. Forget about picking up the accent correctly unless you are under 18. And finally, find out how to say some of the cities differently than America. Melbourne in Australia is pronounced more like Melbin. In Australia, the R tends to vanish. To prove this, try ordering water at any food place. I still get blank stares from time to time.
Frankly there probably is not much hope for me. It has been 10 years after all. I am sure there is more hope for you. Thank you class. You may go home now.

This was saved from the archives over at citrite.org. It really isn’t Citrix related and belongs here in its new home.

Family Union Between Generations

Harvey and Helen Diamond - My grandparents

This picture is of my grandparents and me in November 1965.  It was taken in the living room of Harvey and Helen Diamond’s house in Humboldt Minnesota.  I would imagine that it was my first visit to Humboldt after being born in Topeka in July.  I was the first grandchild from the first child (my Mom).  My sister would next, three years later.  Within five months of my sister, the first cousin would be born.  Over the coming years, my grandparents would become grandparents anew very often.  They have 13 grandchildren.  They now also have 13 great grandchildren.

It isn’t widely known today that Grandpa had red hair.  The old pictures really don’t capture this due to them mostly being in black and white when he had more hair.  His eyebrows were red for years after his other hair turning gray.  My grandparents were amused to have a red haired grandchild and I think Grandpa was actually proud to see the tradition continue.

When I was growing up and saw pictures like this one I had thought that my grandparents were fairly old when I was born.  In truth, Grandpa was 44 and Grandma was 42.  Being that I am about that age now, I understand that forty something really isn’t as old as I once thought.  By today’s standards, being a grandparent in your early forties is not as common as it once was.

I actually lived in Humboldt during my first year.  My Dad was in the Air Force and Mom decided to move back to Humboldt for a bit while he was overseas.  From the stories and pictures of that era, it’s pretty obvious that I was a novelty and that I was highly spoiled with attention.  I guess I was lucky to be first.

In this picture, it is obvious that my grandparents are quite proud.  Now it is time for me to declare that I am quite proud of them.  You’ve done some amazing things and made it seem so easy.  Now that I see things from the other side, I can only appreciate your wisdom and kindness that much more.

Humboldt Minnesota Tour 1990

Humboldt Minnesota Tour 1990

Think of a town that is small enough to have sidewalks which are being reclaimed by nature.  Grass becomes the predominate player in the struggle.  Slabs of concrete break apart and heave up and down amongst the sea of green.  Slowly, time erases what was placed by man.  Houses cave in from within from the years fighting against the long cold winters.

Humboldt Minnesota Tour 1990

People build and nature tears down.  Life comes with the cycles of summer and winter.  It is an endurance test without bound.  Nature always reclaims that which belongs to it.

Humboldt Minnesota Tour 1990

Like giant ant hills, humans store food to anticipate the lean years.  Grand silos in the sky hold the future at bay.  No one nearby will go hungry as long as these monsters are fed.  The line of feeding spreads long and wide with the help of a nearby bloodline to the north and south.  With very few people, a nation and world are fed.  The quiet heroes that make sure that we don’t have to worry about growing our own food anymore.

Humboldt Minnesota Tour 1990

A quiet house tucked away in the heart of Humboldt.  This house has had many families since it was built, but to me it is always the house of my great-grandparents.  It housed my grandfather’s family when he was growing up.  It is a big house with a big stove furnace on the bottom floor.  I’m old enough to remember this house as my Great-Grandmother’s house.  She was alive until I was 10 and she was a great friend.  We always got along great and I’m sure there will be more stories in the future about her.

Humboldt Minnesota Tour 1990

This is the house my grandparent’s have lived in since the early 50’s.  Their six kids grew up here and it has been the hub of Diamond activity for years and years.  To me, this house was TRUE home.  It is the one constant in my life of change.   It’s a kind of house that just welcomes you.  The people that make up my family in Humboldt are some of the best people to be around.  The farm life is the heart of what they do and they expect a certain honesty and respect that makes up the community.  This is the house that I spent many summers at until I was in university.

As I get older, I appreciate the times there more and more.  It is just something you don’t understand as well at the time.

Humboldt Post Office 1990

Humboldt Post Office 1990

I have these pictures from 1990 in Humboldt. This post is just about the two post offices that existed at that time. Since then they have torn down the old post office.  There’s probably nothing that exciting about talking about post offices.  In Humboldt, it is a bit of an exception.

In a small town like Humboldt, everyone has a PO Box instead of having it delivered to their house.  Because everyone one needs to pick it up, everyone has the possibility of bumping into other residents.  From this point of view, the post office becomes the social hub of the town.

I have quite a few memories of the old post office in Humboldt.  The strongest memory is of a postal worker named “Rusty” that worked at the post office for many years.  He was a friendly guy, but could turn grumpy pretty fast if things weren’t going too well that day.  He must have had red hair at some point but by the time I knew him in the early 70’s he was already really gray.

Grandma and Grandpa used to send their grandchildren to get the mail and believe it or not it was always a highlight to walk up to the post office to see what came today.

One time I went with Grandma.  Rusty and Grandma talked for a bit.  Towards the end of the conversation, Rusty gave me an Native American arrowhead that had been found in the area.  The old post office had lots of stuff that would not normally be there.  For example, he had lots of things that would be considered “junk”.  Truthfully, some of it was really interesting.  I remember there being quite a few glass insulators used for the old telephone and power lines.  They were strangely beautiful to look at with the different clear colors.

The only time getting the mail became a hassle was in the winter time.  It was just too cold to walk so people would use their cars instead.  Cars would be parked outside the post office and left running while the person would run in and out of the post office.  The image of running cars with steam shooting out the exhaust is still clear in my mind.  When it gets really cold, the steam lasts a long time and it starts to look like clouds are forming around the post office.

I’ve only been in the new post office a few times.  It seems to have a bit less character than the last one but it certainly is well equipped and professional.

The post office played a very import role for my Grandpa.  He loved getting mail.  It didn’t matter what kind he got.  He signed up for all kinds of contests and sweepstakes.  His theory was that you have to play in order to win.  Fair enough.  I was always amazed with the volume of mail that Grandpa would get.  I would guess that it could easily reach at least 20 letters a day.  He would sometimes give me some of the prizes that he won.  For years I kept a digital watch that had a built in calculator that he gave me.  Surprisingly, it ran far longer than any other watch I had with one battery.  It also had an alarm that would go off every morning at 5am.  It was packed away in a drawer so I rarely heard it but when I did I would think of the watch and then think of Grandpa as well.

Another way of thinking about it is that the post office in Humboldt is the portal to the outside world.  Things have changed with the introduction of satellite TV and the Internet, but the true value still lives with access to real mail from the real world.

Old Humboldt Post Office 1990

Lake Bronson Picnic 1990

Lake Bronson Picnic 1990Lake Bronson Picnic 1990Lake Bronson Picnic 1990

Lake Bronson Picnic 1990Lake Bronson Picnic 1990Lake Bronson Picnic 1990

There is a tradition in my family that means that every summer you must migrate back to Lake Bronson to share a picnic.  I was looking through some old pictures and found these.  These were taken in 1990 at the Lake Bronson Park.  Both the Pearsons and the Diamonds were there.  My grandparents are here as are many of my aunts and uncles.  Even my very young cousin Molly made an appearance with her mom Linda.

One thing about family picnics is that you never go hungry.  Usually there are lots of leftovers that are taken home and not necessarily the house that it started from.

To me, these pictures capture the peaceful nature of the area.  Not lots of activity and plenty of time just to relax with family.

In northwestern Minnesota, there is a tendency to call everything salad when actually it has very little vegetation.  The last time I went back, I found it difficult to get any vegetables at all except for maybe some potato.  Which is indeed a salad that they celebrate (potato salad).

This post ties in part with a previous post I wrote about Lake Bronson.  Now you can actually see some of what it looks like.

I’m not going to say much in this particular post.  I’m hoping that family comes and finds these old pictures.  They’ve been closed up in old photo albums for awhile and it is time to get them back in circulation.

Lake Bronson Picnic 1990