For as long as I can remember being involved in distance running, I have always had terrible trouble sleeping the night before an event. One of the first races I really set myself for was the Bruny Island Ultra in 2014 and I can still remember lying awake for hours, nervously thinking about all the things that could go wrong. I finally did fall asleep, but only for a few hours, only to wake hours before my alarm and after a fruitless period trying to get back to sleep, I eventually got up an hour earlier than planned.
Not much has changed in the intervening years. No matter how well prepared I am or how early I go to sleep, it always takes forever for sleep to arrive. And without fail, I always wake well before my alarm with no chance of getting back to sleep.
But the night before my most recent race at this year's Sydney Marathon, something was different.
A little spoiler alert- for once I’m not talking about fatherhood (much as I would love to digress onto that topic once more).
I thought I dealt with a disappointing failure on the Gold Coast (no I didn’t meet Malcolm Turnbull- I just ran really badly in the marathon). I was relatively at peace with the missed opportunity and managed to put the lingering sense of disappointment behind me fairly quickly.
I should also show some self-awareness and remember not to over catastrophise too. I have referred to this race at various times as a set-back, a disappointment and even a disaster. I must acknowledge that compared to true misfortunes that befall everyone at different times in life, my experience on the Gold Coast was pretty trivial- especially in a year that has been unbelievably good to me. But that didn’t make me feel any better about the actual experience at the time.
One of the oldest tricks going around for making people accept a bad outcome is the bait and switch strategy of offering a truly awful alternative first so that the slightly less awful second option is received with a certain measure of relief.
I was reminded of this last week after the Coalition leadership spill. For a brief moment in history, it seemed as though the next Australian Prime Minister could be the singularly unworthy Peter Dutton.
As I would rather see him on trial in the Hague than governing from the Lodge, this was obviously a pretty damning moment in Australia’s history, so I have to admit to a fleeting sense of relief that his attempted coup blew up in his face.
But it was only fleeting.
A few thoughts about Dutton's leadership challenge.
Firstly let me state plainly, the man is a first order creep and singularly undeserving of the title (not that his recent predecessors have set a high bar there). He is an unrepentant liar and dog-whistler who was a failure as health minister and a monster as immigration minister.
His shamefully deceptive claims that he removed children from detention several years ago are particularly hard to stomach. Especially as a 12-year-old detainee who has spent years in Nauru was flown to Australia for medical treatment in the same week. There are still over 100 children held in overseas detention at his behest. Dutton does not care for children.
Politicians of all persuasions spoke out pretty hard against racism the day after Fraser Anning’s “Final Solution” speech to the senate (although most conservative senators including Cormann, Bernardi, Canovan and Mckenzie offered the senate’s newest pariah handshakes and even embraces directly after he spoke so let’s not kid ourselves as to how outraged they were).
The backlash did answer a question I never knew I wanted answered: “What is too racist for Pauline Hanson?” Apparently, the answer is Fraser Anning appropriating holocaust language, although I wonder if Hanson’s attack is more about diminishing a competitor for the racist vote mixed with some spite at Anning’s defection from her One Notion Party.
But so they should have spoken out. Much of Anning’s speech was repulsive. But for all the eloquence, bipartisanship and passion of these public denouncements; there was a fair-sized elephant in the room yesterday whilst they occurred.
Surely the lies people use to defend Pauline Hanson have stretched beyond breaking point.
In the wake of idiotic statements about immigration, the Great Barrier Reef, the dangers of vaccines and her laughable taxation policy, Hanson supporter inevitably reply that at least she calls things how she sees them and you can actually trust her.
But can you?
This year she has come out strongly in favour of the government’s irresponsible tax cuts for the rich, then announced her party would not support them (losing a senator as a result) before supporting them anyway. How can anyone watching say that her word is any more trustworthy than those of her supposedly 'more deceitful' parliamentary colleagues.
An even bigger and more harmful lie that is perpetuated by facile commercial media is her claim that she stands for battlers and low-income families.
The long drawn out by-elections are nearly upon us. Super Saturday! Seriously, could I be less excited about anything in my life? Considering how close it is to the next election, would it have really hurt to leave those seats vacant for a few more months and just contest them as part of the general election? I know we can’t do that, but it does seem an awful fuss about nothing, not to mention a terrible waste of time and money for the people involved.
Despite what we will be told by people whose job it is to scrutinise the minutiae of daily political developments in Canberra, A poor showing by Labor does little more than increase the Coalition’s wafer-thin majority. But a stronger majority doesn’t make it any easier to pass legislation than a small one.
Okay it didn’t feel glorious by the end, but I challenged myself to go that bit harder from the start in the recent Gold Coast Marathon, hoping to set a big PB. It didn’t work out.
I felt amazing for the first half marathon and was running a pretty slick pace (for me), but I blew up badly and got progressively slower and more uncomfortable the longer the race went.
Instead of the PB I had envisaged I ended up coming in a lot slower than my previous best efforts- slower than I have run for the past 18 months- despite being on track to smash it at half way.
In a cheap and counterproductive factional stunt, the Young Liberals (a group whose very existence surprises me) raised a motion at the national conference that the ABC should be privatised. And even more embarrassingly for the LNP government, the motion was passed overwhelmingly.
Unsurprisingly, the government went into damage control, insisting there were no plans to sell off the national broadcaster. And I kind of agree with that explanation… For now.
For a government as duplicitous and ambitious in its goals of upwards redistribution of wealth, a well-funded and well respected ABC is an obstacle. The media’s role of being an impartial 4th pillar of democracy requires that journalists are able to investigate and report on the actions of our elected representatives without fear or favour so that they can expose corruption and wrongdoing.
Can we at least stop pretending that the secrecy around our abuse of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru has had anything to do with security?
The images of refugee children on the US border separated from their families and being kept in cages were powerful and resonated around the world. Credit to the American people, their outrage forced the hand of the Trump administration, which backtracked quickly on the family separations. Admittedly their hostile refugee policy still remains deeply problematic to almost anyone with a shred of empathy for people with different coloured skin, but it was good to see that a nation’s outrage can force a policy reversal from a government that wants to be seen as tough on immigration.
Let me start by saying that I have actually heard far more about ‘the Beetrooter’s’ personal life than I need to and I am pretty bewildered that commercial media (never would the term, ‘journalist’ be less appropriate) think the story of Joyce and Campion is still newsworthy, let alone worth a six figure appearance fee. Everyone involved in trying to sell this scandal masquerading as news disgusts me and I have absolutely no interest in hearing about it.
But having said that I still have to admit to some sympathy for Barnaby Joyce.
I haven’t had much chance to write much over the last couple of weeks. This has largely been to do with the birth of my daughter, which has had a profound impact on my life. As a corollary of this, a fair amount of my thoughts and observations may shift to the new topic of parenthood. I’m not planning on stealing from Sonia Kruger’s playbook and use the phrase, “as a parent,’ to make claims with no factual basis, but parenthood is a complex and fascinating area so I will be making a few comments about my experience of it on a separate page.
I never expected to hear grown adults crying about their access to balloons.
The growing problems of plastic waste and pollution are increasingly well known and it is good to see councils, governments and corporations beginning to take notice. We should all be trying to reduce our use of plastic at an individual level. I don't suggest we can easily avoid this ubiquitous material completely, but where there are easy alternatives to plastic, we should take advantage of them. Accordingly, the decision by Kingborough Council to not use balloons at their events to reduce their environmental impact seems a no-brainer.
So I was both surprised and disappointed by the reporting of the decision and commentary on social media. I will never truly be surprised by inaccurate or hyperbolic reporting in the Mercury (or any other Murdoch paper for that matter), but I am surprised, as why would grown adults make such a fuss about balloons?
I have little skin in the debate but Sunday’s gathering to protest the Mt Wellington Cable Car development can only be described as an overwhelming success. Some will try to downplay it by saying 5000 out of 500000 Tasmanians is only 1% off the population, but this is snide and disingenuous reasoning at best. Given that this is a local issue to Hobart, using the population of Tasmania as a whole for comparison purposes is unfair. Moreover the metrics of protests is that for anyone moved to attend a rally, there are probably ten times as many people who may not rally but still agree. This is also a risky path to go down for cable car proponents as it begs the question of how many supporters they could muster to a rally in favour if the development. It would be surprising if they could match or even manage half of last Sunday’s rally. Does that mean less than 1% of Tasmanians want a cable car?
I actually am not against a cable car outright. I could certainly be convinced to support a proposal such as this under the right circumstances.
Maybe I’m a product of my generation and the drug safety education programs I experienced, but my instinctive response to arguments for the legalisation of cannabis tends to be sceptical. But that is only my emotional response.
I have to also recognise that I have no compelling reasons to support such a way of thinking other than gut feel. Maybe some exist, but I haven’t come across them. I am just uncomfortable with legalisation as a harm-reduction strategy.
But in the face of evidence-based arguments in favour of legalisation, I have to recognise that clinging to an instinctive prejudice without any kind of evidence for my position is not justifiable with logic. Which means my discomfort has no weight in a debate about the merits of legalisation.
I just wasn’t strong enough yesterday.
I set out on a run with a very specific target pace in mind. As part of my build up to my next race I have a number of benchmark runs I want to do and this was one of them, so I was ready to put in plenty of effort and put up with a bit of pain in the attempt. After a long warm up, I picked up speed until I reached my target. I then stopped accelerating and just attempted to maintain my speed. It was a speed I thought I should have been able to run, but on this occasion I began to struggle early.
After only a couple of kilometres running fast my pace was dropping and it was taking continual surges of additional effort to get it back to where I wanted it to be. I fought on pretty bravely for a few more kilometres, but eventually (still five kilometres from the finish) I had to accept I was not going to achieve today’s goal.
Wow. Gratitude towards others is really powerful.
Combined with a sense of feeling valued and cared about by those around you, it makes for an uplifting and emotionally nourishing experience.
Prompted by the warmth and generosity of my colleagues last Friday- thank you Campbell Street Primary- I have spent the weekend reflecting on a number of unprompted acts of kindness from many sources over the last few months.
I would usually describe myself as having the emotional range of Mark Zuckerberg, but I have to admit I have been genuinely moved and humbled that so many people had shown such care.
I dare not try to name everyone, for fear of forgetting someone, so I will just say thank you to EVERYONE that has reached out with support, kindness or affection in recent months. You have all had a significant impact on me.
Is there such a thing as a bad goal?
Personally I find goal setting an incredible powerful and rewarding aspect of my life. Not only is it central to making the most of my opportunities in life, there is also a feeling of exultation when I finally achieve a long-held goal I have worked for that is hard to experience any other way.
I have been following an interesting and robust online discussion about an aspect of goalsetting that I thought was worth some thought and elaboration.
Many goals we set for ourselves are specific actions or achievements (running a certain distance, lifting a specific amount or even reaching a specific weight, etc), which I will call target-focused goals. To reach these goals we often commit to significant changes to our lifestyle- as most worthwhile goals come with some kind of cost- and a long incremental journey towards our target.
In the conversation I was following, the statement was made that we often undervalue the effort it takes to make these lifestyle changes in striving for targets we may not reach. And that often making a positive and enduring lifestyle change (or transformative goal) is arguably a more significant achievement than any single target-focused goal.
This stimulated a fairly lengthy debate about the relative merits of target-focused goals and transformative goals.
Please stay strong Mr Storer.
It is dumbfounding that the Coalition would even be attempting to pass another 68 billion in company tax cuts whilst funding to important programs all over the country is slashed or frozen. If you are one of those people who like forwarding poorly spelt memes about how we can’t afford to support immigrants or refugees (never mind that offshore detention is by far the most expensive way of dealing with them) because we have homegrown issues with homelessness etc, then you should be equally outraged that the government thinks it can sacrifice tens of billions of dollars in lost tax revenue that it could spend on education, infrastructure and other vital sectors (I would like to say homelessness, but we know the Coalition has no interest in supporting the poor or disadvantaged).
I’ve not quite sure how I feel about Cameron Bancroft and the Australian cricket team being engulfed in a cheating scandal.
I’m not in any doubt that they cheated. That seems pretty cut and dried. And I don’t disagree it’s not a good look. Neither was the stunning lack of self-awareness during the press conference after the charges were announced, where they showed little understanding of how their behaviour would be perceived.
So yes, they cheated, but I’m a little at odds with the sense of national outrage that seems to be dominating the news cycle and social media today. Maybe I’m in a minority, but I even feel a bit sorry for Bancroft and, while I am not going to defend his or Smith’s actions, I can’t quite reconcile the torrent of condemnation these young men are receiving.