The Perfect Gift for a Man

pg4amA few months back, the Inspire Foundation ran a campaign they called Man Week. Designed to call attention to the terrible loss occurring amongst young men dealing with depression and suicide (according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the current suicide rate for men in Australia is more than three times the rate of women) it attracted the attention of many, including Gavin Heaton, the Servant of Chaos, and all-around good guy, Mark Pollard. On their prompting, several of the Australian tech and broader geek community contributed their own tales of dealing with manhood, as did I.

In fact, telling my tale inspired me to start getting fit again and to deal openly with a number of issues in my life. That journey is being progressively chronicled on my personal blog.

The other tales in the book are inspiring, troubling, thoughtful and go to show that dealing with being a man and all that means in a society like Australia that is often reticent to discuss personal issues is a universal issue.

And today, the telling of those tales comes to fruition, as we have published The Perfect Gift for a Man, in eBook and paperback form. You can buy the printed book from or you can purchase the eBook version from The Perfect Gift for a Man website. ALL the profits from the book are being donated to The Inspire Foundation.

If you’re keen to get a quick snapshot of what it’s all about, take a look at the social media release.

Please buy a copy and give it to a man in your life, especially if he is dealing with issues that may be troubling. Our stories may just help him to know he’s not alone.

8 Things…

My friend, Andrew Boyd, tagged me with the “8 things you didn’t know about me” task a little while back and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to tackle it. So here you go – my eight things.

  1. I’m about to pitch a book idea. Fingers crossed! More about that if it progresses.
  2. Alli and I do respite foster care for Barnardos. This means the we spend one weekend a month caring for two young children (brother and sister) who have been with us for nearly three years now. Their parents are recovering drug addicts and have all the attendant additional problems that go with that. This is our way of giving back.
  3. I wish I could travel more for work. I enjoy living in Canberra, but the best work isn’t here. Unlike Shiv, I love flying. Anywhere. Anytime. Call me ;)
  4. I enjoy bad 1980’s swords and sorcery films. Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Destroyer, Red Sonja, The Sword and the Sorceror, etc. The sign of many years of playing RPGs.
  5. I’ve been politically engaged since my early teens and sit well to the bottom left of the Political Compass. When your father is now a strong Labor supporter after having been a member of the Young Liberals and your godfather popularised the negative use of the term economic rationalism, it’s hard not to be influenced.
  6. I believe Barack Obama should and likely will be the next President of the USA. How can you not be fascinated and compelled by this man’s message of hope and change for the better? In a political landscape bereft of statesmen, he offers something almost nobody else does. His two books, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance and The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream were hands down the best things I read in 2007.
  7. Ohmygod! I’m 40 this year! Old. That’s me.
  8. My favorite author is Neil Gaiman. For sheer variety and creativity, you can’t beat Mr Gaiman.

I’m supposed to tag some more folks, so here’s my list of tagees:

  • My best friend, Edmund (who doesn’t blog). A great mind.
  • My godfather, Michael Pusey, who has always fascinated me.
  • James Governor, RedMonk Analyst, smart bloke and all round good guy.
  • Thomas Vander Wal, a guy I respect a lot professionally and hope to meet one day. He coined the term folksonomy.
  • Jasmin Tragas, a Twitter pal I met in person this year. She has a really interesting role at IBM.
  • Nathanael Boehm, possessor of the most obscure music mind I know and smart dev guy.

That’ll do.

Our deepest fear…

Last night, Alli and I watched Coach Carter, a “true life” film about a high school basketball team from a socioeconomically depressed area winning through and making more of themselves.  Ken Carter, the coach of the team is an inspiring man, and like most films in the sports genre, this film is about achievement against the odds and defeating the hand life has dealt you.
However, the most striking moment of the film for me was the speech given by player Timo Cruz, when he paraphrased a poem by Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Generally, I’m not a believer in this sort of thing, but this quote really struck me.  It’s now printed out large and posted by my desk.

Purple patch

I’ve always been a fan of late-60’s and 70’s British rock – Deep Purple, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Cream, Blackmore’s Rainbow, that sort of thing. How stoked do you think I was to hear the soundtrack to School of Rock?

Anyhow, to get to the point. The past few days, my 8??-year-old daughter has been wandering around the house humming a riff to herself that I hadn’t picked up on until last night, about half-an-hour before her bedtime. She’s humming the main guitar riff to Smoke on the Water! I had to ask her where she’d heard it. I got a withering look and was told, “I heard it on School of Rock.  It’s a cool song.”

I agreed with her and asked whether she wanted to hear some other “cool” songs. “Sure,” she replied. So, we sat down, fired up iTunes and I gave her a 30-minute lightning history of British rock – The White Room, Stairway to Heaven, Pinball Wizard and Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2).  Now, by no means are these the greatest songs by these bands, but they’re certainly accessible to a little kid.  Now she’s asked to to fill her MP3 player with some of this music, which I plan to do tonight.

She’s also liking Wolfmother, a great Aussie band who plays music with more than a little nod to some of the great Brit-rockers.

If my influence on my daughter informs her music tastes like this, I’ve done my job in a way I can be proud of.  There are so many things lately I’m enjoying about my relationship with her.  I just hope things stay this way.

Caring for your introvert

This article, despite some of the bitchiness which creeps in (I think it’s tongue-in-cheek), is a frighteningly accurate description of me. Knowing some of the other developer/geek folks I know, it’s a pretty close picture of them too.

Have a read. Is it you?

Brain hurts…

Oh, boy! I may have bitten off a tad more than I am presently equipped to chew.

Given my upcoming week off between finishing my current job and starting the new one, I’ve decided to have a stab at working on some code I’ve had sitting idle for quite some time. I’m about 18 months rusty at any real coding, and it shows. I’ve gone and installed a fairly significant swag of ColdFusion bits and bobs (Mach-II, Model-Glue, CFUnit, CFCUnit, Fusebox and CFLucene) in order to play about and refresh my coding skills, and I’m struggling more than just a little getting it set up right; CFCUnit in particular, as the installation package assumes a directory structure markedly unlike what I work with.

Serves me right, I suppose.

Quite the week

It’s been a big week for both Alli and me. After a long wait for a decision, Alli has been promoted into a senior role at her workplace, and I have accepted a job with SMS Management and Technology, a significant player in the professional services/consulting space here in Australia (plus NZ, Singapore and the UK).

For me, it means a move back to private enterprise, after several years working in the public sector. I’m very excited, as I think the role I’m going to will offer me the variety I’m looking for, many chances to grow my skills and the supportive, engaging environment that I want. Everything I’ve heard from the couple of friends I have who know about SMS indicate that it’s definitely my sort of place.

Of course, this means, yet again, that I’m moving even more dramatically away from my coder roots. Which sounds like it could be a bad thing… But the growth opportunity is too big to miss! I’ll still stay involved in ColdFusion and the CFEclipse project, but maybe the things I come out with will have more of a management and big picture bent to them. Who knows.