What to Eat?

by Brian Hobby

It’s an interesting question, and one that gets discussed a lot in our house. Our son has an intolerance to Azo dye food colourings which are allowed in Australia and New Zealand but not in many other places. As a result much of our food is prepared from scratch using fresh ingredients; it wasn’t unusual in our house anyway as we both enjoying our cooking.

But it begs the question what else is in our food that isn’t particularly good for us?

I heard a fascinating comment a while ago “if your Grandmother wouldn’t recognise it as food then it probably isn’t” and that cuts to the heart of it really.

I was in the greengrocer today topping up on fruit and vege and the owner commented that many customers don’t understand why there aren’t strawberries all year and get slightly peeved at her as a result. In a society that is divorced from the food chain by the agricultural industrial complex it is very easy to forget that what we put in our mouths came from somewhere beyond the shop. In some instances the product came from what is basically a chemical refinery and only has the vaguest hint of food about it.

There have been some pretty interesting things coming to the surface about sugar as well, and it seems that most manufacturers are in a race to see who can make the sweetest product to tempt us. Case in point, our usual tomato sauce brand changed it’s label. This caused me to check old against new – sure enough 2% more sugar. The next supermarket trip the boy and I had fun choosing the new brand that was as low sugar as we could find (and as little everything else as well!)

So my thoughts in no particular order:

  • Fresh first and foremost, we cook from scratch much of the time
  • When in the supermarket I’m not a label pedant but will always check a new item or do a comparison against similar occasionally
  • Pick the lowest sugar option, that often means the full fat better tasting option. If it’s  low fat it’s usually low taste due to how our taste-buds work so they add sugar to cover it up
  •  If we are out for dinner don’t worry too much as the occasional treat means you don’t binge. I find myself tending toward the salads though……
  • Try and eat a range of things, variety is good – convincing the 9 year old can take some doing though

So our approach tends to be everything in moderation; including the glasses of red!


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A Path Through Redundancy

By Brian Hobby

After many years working for the same company “my role became redundant“.

Pay attention to the exact words, they are important; as words always are. I’m a believer in the power of words to influence how we see things and in an emotionally charged environment like redundancy discussions words are particularly important.

The important distinction here is “role“; you are not redundant.

Many people I know have had at least 1, if not more, roles become redundant on them – all of them are excellent and skilled folks at the leading edge of competency in what they do.

It’s not about you, it’s very seldom if ever actually about you. My view is that if more people stepped back and realised that it would make it far more pleasant for everybody.

So what was my reaction to that? Well, I’d been partly expecting it but it still comes as a shock, even if you are prepared. I’ve done various courses thanks to work over my many varied roles so I took a deep breath and applied some of it.

One of the things I’ve learnt is that all events are just that, events. We can choose how to react to them. So after taking that deep breath I chose to see it as positive, and an opportunity.

Having been at the organisation for a while the payout was reasonable. I also had some leave plus long service owing so was in no immediate need of finding paying work. I am forever grateful to my wife who pushed me to take the leave and figure out what I really wanted to do next; the condition was the house renovations got finished. This wasn’t a bad thing as the physical work freed the mind somewhat to drift and think about what next…..

Part of the redundancy package was support from Lee Hecht Harrison whom I can thoroughly recommend. This drove me to look hard at what I really wanted to do and what roles may appeal; as well as examining how I work and what is important to me in the workplace. It also triggered much thinking about what is important to me in life.

My short list of priorities:

  • Health – without that you have nothing
  • My Son and not missing him growing up (meaning you need to YouTube don’t you know)
  • My Wife and my relationship with her
  • Community and Environment
  • Live Theatre (my Brisbane theatre home CTG and a recent review of why I do this)

Interesting to note that work doesn’t feature there at all! From my discussions with others through my life thus far I’ve had several conversations with parents of “grown up” children who have expressed regret that they “missed their kids growing up” because they were working too much. An article that crossed my various info feeds confirmed as much from the palliative care perspective.

So with much thinking and personal development under my belt many discussions were had about what would work for us as a family. My wife regularly travels in her job so I’m the primary carer of our son. Given all the other constraints the major simple gauge for if something would work for us was “did it let me extract the boy from school at 1500hrs every day”.

Over the time I was finishing the renovations several roles piqued my interest, could have had several of them, but even with most companies paying lip service to “flexible working hours” they weren’t prepared to allow me to extract the boy daily. I found that when you interview for a job if you have a set of criteria that you know you must meet for it to work for your family the decision on taking the role or not becomes much simpler. The other freeing factor was that we as a family didn’t “need” me to be bringing in extra money. We are both financially conservative and generally try to function so that only one of us needs a job.

There is nothing so empowering when you interview for a job as knowing you don’t have to take it!

My other tip is if you are looking for work don’t be afraid to let your circles know about it. You never know what will turn up in a conversation – for example it turns out my neighbour worked for a recruiting company and a fellow theatre tech remote lectured for the Engineering Institute of Technology.

So where am I now? Well keep your networks alive because as a result of conversations over coffee with a contractor who worked for me I got a phone call that went “are you bored being at home yet? I’ve got a casual role piloting what we were talking about over coffee all those months ago, are you interested?” Well the answer was yes and it lets me extract the boy at 1500hrs every day. It turns out that EIT needed some of my technical teaching skills as well so I’m a contract lecturer for them too which means some early mornings and not too late evenings which fit nicely with the family needs.

I still maintain that any decade now I’ll actually know what I really want to do!

if you could have a super power which one would it be and why?

While out walking the dog in the forest my son and I were chatting about many random things as you do.

He then asked “if you could have a super power which one would it be and why”

The discussion got very interesting from that point, what would being super strong help you do? how about flying? what would spidermans tools let you do?

Then he said “what about reading minds?” This led to “wouldn’t it be great to know when someone was going to do something bad so you could stop it”; followed closely by the “just because you think it you may not actually do it” – how many people have you thought about killing? (several spring to my mind)

We then discussed what is bad/good and who says so and drifted out into cultural differences on the globe and how what is acceptable one place may not be acceptable in others.

All in all a good way to pass time while enjoying being out it the greenery, and a small step on the path to turning the lad into a useful member of society.