Saturday, November 30, 2013

Why We Do Need HR Departments

Check this out:
Why We Do Need HR Departments

Sent from LinkedIn for iPhone

Annalie Killian
Founder, Curator & Executive Producer Amplify Festival
Director of Innovation & Social Business, AMP

This email message and any accompanying attachments may contain information that is confidential and is subject to legal privilege. If you are not the intended recipient, do not read, use, disseminate, distribute or copy this message or attachments. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete this message. Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the sender expressly, and with authority, states them to be the views of AMP. Before opening any attachments, please check them for viruses and defects.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My daughter's 18th birthday poem

Happy 18th Aviva Killian

When you were a baby, I worried you might be sick, 
or wet or hungry when you cried

Once you toddled, I knew there's be rumbles and tumbles
bruises, even blood, which I tried to minimise

As you entered school, it was friendships and homework
and learning and chores over which one agonised

Then the high school years- cigarettes and whisky
and wild-wild women...I know these were all tried

And now, you alone have to choose
the things you give your time
and attention to
the people to which
your heart you will lose

You have so much to give
and potential to achieve
and remember, it's ok to chase a thrill
if you balance it wisely ( as I know you will)

You're an adult now and all grown up
but no less precious than when you were a pup
I will still worry, that's what mums do
because you're still my Snoekiepoeks Penguini.

With love


Sunday, May 31, 2009

New Year in Sydney!

Want to escape another dreary winter in the Northern Hemisphere and spend December and January at a sexy beach-side penthouse in sunny summery Sydney? With bargain airfares unlikely to ever be repeated, now is a great time to come DOWNUNDER!

My apartment is available for a holiday rental from 22 December to 20 January while I am away with my children.

Location: Balmoral Beach, Sydney, Australia. Address will be revealed as soon as we have made contact l


4th floor penthouse apartment with 3 bedrooms that sleeps 4 people in 1 Queen (Latex bed!) and 2 singles (all good quality double ensemble beds with posturepedic mattresses). There is one bathroom, an ultra modern kitchen with state of the art appliances, modern furnishings, and a huge entertainment deck with BBQ facility and 270 degree ocean views.

A leisurely stroll out the front door has you on the beach and esplanade with some of Sydney's best al fresco dining spots, coffee shops and picnic spots. Water sports (sailing, kayaking), hiking trails, the Zoo, beaches, designer shopping, delicatessens and cafes are all within a 1 kilometre radius and an easy walk. The city centre and nightlife is just a short hop across the harbour to the world famous Opera House and is serviced by a bus and ferry and taxi.

Photos can be viewed here:

CONTACT DETAILS: Please contact me via leaving a comment here, or e-mail annalie underscore killian at amp dot com dot au or on Twitter @maverickwoman and I will get back to you.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Swop my sun, surf and sea, sexy Sydney penthouse for your snow pad/ condo?

Well, the Global Financial Crisis is trying its damndest but I ain"t giving in. As they say....when the going gets tough....the tough get creative!

After working 18 hour days for the last 8 months to produce, I am not going to have a nervous breakdown, I am going to take a holiday instead. It's just that I haven't had a salary adjustment in a loooong time, and with 2 growing teenagers who seem to think that a pioano and Chanel handbags are a acceptable birthday presents thank you very much, you can see that sole parenting and a single income stream has its limitations!

So, I have cashed in my Qantas frequent flyer points for flights to New York City where every penny saved will undoubtedly be sucked back to pay for the quintessential New York Christmas and hotel accommodation in what must be the world's most expensive hotels! But thanks to my Twitter skills and the generosity of the tweeps there, I have found amazing tips and help- from @tabletcs, @quikbook and @NewYorkology- the latter offering the most comprehensive and relevant guide to that amazing city that anyone could ever wish for. Hard to imagine anything to top that. And...looks like I will be seizing an incredible rate at The chic and quirky Gramercy Park Hotel through the helpful service of Brian Hendricks, Director of Online Marketing at Quikbook (Unbelievable to get such terrific human contact from an online travel site!)

Which brings me to the point of this post. This whole holiday was inspired by an approach by a family in Banff to swop their ski condo in Canmore, Banff National Park Canada, for my place here in Sydney. After I succeeded in securing our flights and trading said points for airfare....they changed their minds and decided to go to Dubai instead!

So the post NYC component of the holiday- the part that was meant to be FREE- is now up the creek unless I can find someone else who wants to swop. And until I do- I can't finalise my New York accommodation!


Location: Balmoral Beach, Sydney, Australia

Duration: 22 December to 18 January (slightly neg)

4th floor penthouse apartment with 3 bedrooms that sleeps 4 people in 1 Queen (Latex bed!) and 2 singles (all good quality double ensemble beds with posturepedic mattresses). There is one bathroom, an ultra modern kitchen with state of the art appliances, modern furnishings, and a huge entertainment deck with BBQ facility and 270 degree ocean views.

A leisurely stroll out the front door has you on the beach and esplanade with some of Sydney's best al fresco dining spots, coffee shops and picnic spots. Water sports (sailing, kayaking), hiking trails, the Zoo, beaches, designer shopping, delicatessens and cafes are all within a 1 kilometre radius and an easy walk. The city centre and nightlife is just a short hop across the harbour to the world famous Opera House and is serviced by a bus and ferry and taxi.

Photos can be viewed here:

What I am looking for: A ski condo

Location: Whistler/Blackcomb Main Village

Duration: Approx 6 January till around 16 January

I would like to find a village location slope-side ski condo/ facility with proper beds- 2 doubles will do (no roll-aways or sofabeds please) and facilities of comparable standard to what I am offering.

I could make my car in Sydney also available if a car is offered at the other end of the swop?

Please contact me via leaving a comment here or on Twitter @maverickwoman or by e-mail at annalie underscore killian at amp dot com dot au and I will be in touch?

Monday, October 13, 2008

In planning AMPLIFY 2009, the AMP Innovation & Thought Leadership Festival in Sydney from 22-26 June 09, I am again undertaking my bi-annual research tour meeting with people and seeking out transformational and inspiring thought leaders to invite to Australia.

This is naturally a very interesting process and itgives me great insight into the difference between ego and id. The more I do of this, the more I am struck by the fact that the truly awesome people never tell me how wonderful and smart and insightful they are. They operate from confident humility, are NOT opinionated although happily share a perspective if asked.

There are a lot of folk in the other camp of ego, though....and its not difficult to distinguish the depth of substance. I am getting better at this every day!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Falling in love is like owning a dog

Familiar with the theory that the world is divided into cat and dog people? Well...this gorgeous poem by Taylor Mali explains my love life! I am a cat person!

Falling in love is like owning a dog

First of all, it's a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you're walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain't no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
Who knows what love could do in its own defense?

On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.

Love doesn't like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.

Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.

Love makes messes.
Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose,
not so much to cause pain,
just to let love know Don't you ever do that again!

Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk.
Because love loves exercise.
It runs you around the block and leaves you panting.
It pulls you in several different directions at once,
or winds around and around you
until you're all wound up and can't move.

But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.

Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

How a story can shape your life.

A friend who is mentoring another mutual young friend of ours on his CV, how to conduct interviews and basically start his career after many years of learning, was talking about how he used stories in interviews to tease out a bit about a candidate- their values, insights etc.

He then asked me which story sticks out for me?

Well, I can literally think of thousands. In any given day, there would be stories that give me new insight, but upon reflection, believe it or oldest memory of a story, and one that probably shaped my life more than I realised, is the story of Heidi. Yes, she of the Swiss Alps- the creation of Johanna Spyri.

I first heard it when I was about 3 years old, and growing up in Johannesburg,South Africa. I had no reference point for either mountains nor snow- or goats for that matter!

My step-grandmother, who was a kindergarten teacher, introduced me to the story by reading it to me from a book with beautiful large illustrations- snow-capped mountains dominating every page. We didnt have TV in South Africa at that time (roundabout 1964/5) and years later, as a teenager, the fantastic Japanese anime series of Heidi came to our TV screens (late 70's early 80's and I lapped it up- it was so energetic and special.

But, back to grandma's lap and my first encounters with this story. I wept for little Heidi being orphaned, then dumped with a grumpy unwilling hermit-like grandpa she'd never met, by an unsympathetic aunt, and then slowly watched how she coped, and watched her optimistic and sunny personality infect and charm all around her- with she herself refusing to be beaten by circumstances.

Just when she achieved harmony and happiness, at age of around 7 or 8, the adults of her family again sent her away to Zurich to be educated (and cured from backward Alpine life) and stay with the wheelchair-bound Klara and the dreadful bully, Mrs Rottenmeier, Klara's governess. There too, she turned adversity into possiblity, learnt to read and write with the sickly and depressed Klara, and in turn taught Klara optimism and eventually persuaded Klara to come and stay with her and her grandpa in the mountain, where she helped Klara to ditch the wheelchair. Heidi's influence also meant that she persuaded her grumpy grandpa to let go of his past anger and resentment and return to the village community and be integrated.

Wherever she went, Heidi drew on what she had learnt from previous situations to cope with new situations and turn the negative into positive. Her joie d'vivre helped to draw out the withdrawn, resolve conflict where possible and bring people together. Maybe she was a rescuer- I don't think so. In my eyes, she was an achiever who rode the waves of adversity, guided by a very strong inner values system.

Of course, I am re-telling this with much more insight and emotional awareness today, but in essence, that's what I learnt from that story when I was 3. I think in many ways, Heidi has been a personal role model and helped me to cope and triumph in difficult family circumstances as a child, keep myself emotionally intact throughout my life and effortlessly deal with change and the unknown.

The second huge impact it had was that it extended my world immediately. I was very curious about trying to work out the concept of Switzerland- another country that was far away and totally different to anything I knew. I tortured my grandma for hours because the story made me realise that the world didn't just consist of my backyard and what I was familiar with...but that the world was HUGE and full of magical places and cultures that were different and HAD TO BE VISITED AND EXPLORED! I think I became a global thinker at that point!

Its no surprise to me either that the story of Heidi has enduring currency across many different cultures of the world- with the Japanese anime series being translated into Spanish and topping the popularity ratings there. See

It's because it deals with a classical theme of "true grit", or as they say in South Africa: "Vasbyt"- shit happens everywhere!

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Nokia brand & design priorities

From: whatidiscover, 8 months ago

Nokia brand & design priorities
Keith Pardy & Alastair Curtis
Nokia Capital Markets Day 2006

SlideShare Link

Monday, December 03, 2007

A message about working safely: Aussie style

An Australian poem

The sun was hot already - it was only 8 o'clock
The cocky took off in his Ute, to go and check his stock.
He drove around the paddocks checking wethers, ewes and lambs,
The float valves in the water troughs, the windmills on the dams.

He stopped and turned a windmill on to fill a water tank
And saw a ewe down in the dam, a few yards from the bank.
"Typical bloody sheep," he thought, "they've got no common sense,
"They won't go through a gateway but they'll jump a bloody fence."

The ewe was stuck down in the mud, he knew without a doubt
She'd stay there 'til she carked it if he didn't get her out.
But when he reached the water's edge, the startled ewe broke free
And in her haste to get away, began a swimming spree.

He reckoned once her fleece was wet, the weight would drag her down
If he didn't rescue her, the stupid sod would drown.
Her style was unimpressive, her survival chances slim
He saw no other option, he would have to take a swim.

He peeled his shirt and singlet off, his trousers, boots and socks
And as he couldn't stand wet clothes, he also shed his jocks.
He jumped into the water and away that cocky swam
He caught up with her somewhere near the middle of the dam

The ewe was quite evasive, she kept giving him the slip
He tried to grab her sodden fleece but couldn't get a grip.
At last he got her to the bank and stopped to catch his breath
She showed him little gratitude for saving her from death.

She took off like a Bondi tram around the other side
He swore next time he caught that ewe he'd hang her bloody hide.
Then round and round the dam they ran, although he felt quite puffed
He still thought he could run her down, she must be nearly stuffed.

The local stock rep came along, to pay a call that day
He knew this bloke was on his own, his wife had gone away
He didn't really think he'd get fresh scones for morning tea
But nor was he prepared for what he was about to see.

He rubbed his eyes in disbelief at what came into view
For running down the catchment came this frantic-looking ewe.
And on her heels in hot pursuit and wearing not a stitch
The farmer yelling wildly "Come back here, you lousy bitch!"

The stock rep didn't hang around, he took off in his car
The cocky's reputation has been damaged near and far
So bear in mind the Work Safe rule when next you check your flocks
Spot the hazard, assess the risk, and always wear your jocks!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Senior people have to be CRAZY

Unlocking Cool - By Jeremy Gutsche,

From: trendhunter, 6 months ago

By methodically approaching innovation, organizations and individuals can generate ideas, stimulate creativity, and ultimately unlock cool. The UNLOCKING COOL presentation is typically delivered as a keynote speach with the slides used as a reference for the discussion.

SlideShare Link

Blog bible

The 25 Basic Styles of Blogging ... And When To Use Each One

From: rohitbhargava, 6 months ago

A compilation of 25 basic styles of blogging including tips on how often to use each and potential to create buzz and blog traffic by using each.

SlideShare Link

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A story without love... not worth telling. How true.

Hope my last imaginary tale didn't scare you too much...but, as we plunged into darkness and cold second night in a row, it really does drive home the awareness of how fragile life is, how reliant we are on stuff and how far away we are from love.

The Great Lover

I have been so great a lover: filled my days
So proudly with the splendour of Love's praise,
The pain, the calm, and the astonishment,
Desire illimitable, and still content,
And all dear names men use, to cheat despair,
For the perplexed and viewless streams that bear
Our hearts at random down the dark of life.

Now, ere the unthinking silence on that strife
Steals down, I would cheat drowsy Death so far,
My night shall be remembered for a star
That outshone all the suns of all men's days.
Shall I not crown them with immortal praise
Whom I have loved, who have given me, dared with me
High secrets, and in darkness knelt to see
The inenarrable godhead of delight?

Love is a flame; -- we have beaconed the world's night.
A city: -- and we have built it, these and I.
An emperor: -- we have taught the world to die.
So, for their sakes I loved, ere I go hence,
And the high cause of Love's magnificence,
And to keep loyalties young, I'll write those names
Golden for ever, eagles, crying flames,
And set them as a banner, that men may know,
To dare the generations, burn, and blow
Out on the wind of Time, shining and streaming. . . .
These I have loved

White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;
Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust
Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;
Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;
And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers;
And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,
Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;
Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon
Smooth away trouble; and the rough male kiss
Of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is
Shining and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen
Unpassioned beauty of a great machine;
The benison of hot water; furs to touch;
The good smell of old clothes; and other such --
The comfortable smell of friendly fingers,
Hair's fragrance, and the musty reek that lingers
About dead leaves and last year's ferns. . . .

Dear names,And thousand other throng to me! Royal flames;
Sweet water's dimpling laugh from tap or spring;
Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing;
Voices in laughter, too; and body's pain,
Soon turned to peace; and the deep-panting train;
Firm sands; the little dulling edge of foam
That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home;
And washen stones, gay for an hour; the cold
Graveness of iron; moist black earthen mould;
Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew;
And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new;
And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass; --
All these have been my loves.

And these shall pass,
Whatever passes not, in the great hour,
Nor all my passion, all my prayers, have power
To hold them with me through the gate of Death.
They'll play deserter, turn with the traitor breath,
Break the high bond we made, and sell Love's trust
And sacramented covenant to the dust.

Oh, never a doubt but, somewhere, I shall wake,
And give what's left of love again, and make
New friends, now strangers. . . .
But the best I've known,
Stays here, and changes, breaks, grows old, is blown
About the winds of the world, and fades from brains
Of living men, and dies.
Nothing remains.

O dear my loves, O faithless, once again
This one last gift I give: that after men
Shall know, and later lovers, far-removed,
Praise you, "All these were lovely"; say, "He loved."

Rupert Brooke, Mataiea, 1914

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An inconvenient apocalypse - NOW

Posted by Picasa
We have maybe 90 minutes before it all ends...and, feeling strangely vindicated that I have invested in a wireless internet connnection and a laptop with some battery life left, I decided instead of panicking, I'll invest my last moments to connect with the world by internet- to reach out in a typical human need, for connection with other humans-whilst others more fortunate, share these last intimate moments by candlelight with loved ones! (I have already checked through the window of my high-rise apartment-yes, that's what they are up to!)

It happened about 30 minutes ago...a massive explosion that rocked the world, a blinding light and then thick black eerie silence. I fumbled around in the dark for 10 minutes to find the emergency pack of matches to light my beautiful candles that otherwise serve as decor accents only! So, forgive typos....I can barely see the keyboard. (As a perfectionist, its very hard NOT to go back and fix errors but in this instance, perfection is hardly the point!) In 90 minutes or so, all connectivity will end, so what have I to say or share that could possibly matter?

Well, let's I saw a quote in a 2nd hand bookshop that referenced Socrates- not that he was my hero (I am much more a Sartre babe, or I used to be....when I still had a future), but it said something about the examined life is worth living....or words to that effect. I also browsed Oracle, my local bookshop, and skimmed through the Deepak Chopra book on the life of Buddha...very easily accessible...and ended up buying Future Perfect, by Robin Williams (see, ever the optimist- and a fat lot of good that is now!), and The Beginners's Guide to winning the Nobel Prize by Australian winner Peter Doherty for medical research into Immunity!

These books I bought not only because they fascinate me, but also by way of inspiration for the kids, cause let's face it, its going to take a miracle to have me win it in the next 90 minutes! Cub 1 has a chance, she is far away in country New South Wales at Boarding School and for the moment, not impacted by the Apocalypse. Cub 2, whom I have assured its just a temporary power blackout, is reading her pony novel by the emergency light on the stairwell. We were all going to visit the Nobel Prize Hall of fame in Stockholm at the end of the year- now hopefully, at least one- the sole carrier of our genes into this crazy world, may still get there!

So, what else to say when there is so much? That love matters more than anything else? That money can't buy us out of here? That its pretty cool to go down sipping a glass of very fine Pommery like those Titanic passengers, chatting to you by candlelight, watching the moon rising and lighting up Balmoral Bay like a Tahitian black pearl, just as its been doing for millenia and may be doing again tomorrow and the day after as if nothing's happened?

In searching Google for an image, I found this weird website called K-punk
where some really deep and meaningful stuff was written about this world and others...I didn't have time to read it, have my own shit to get in order here....but if you survive this, by all means check it out-I did glimpse enough to recall what I read about in Jared Diamond's book, "Collapse", on the relationship between greed and civilizations.

And so, here we are...finally, we've raped Mother Earth, sucked her dry for cheap energy, its run out and our greed has turned us to war with one another, Australia invading Iraq for no bloody reason whatsoever other than piggy-backing our greed on the US, and tonight, it's payback time and Sydney has been hit by a surprise (hardly!) act of terror ahead of it hosting the APEC summit of world fools in September. And its all about to end.

I am an innocent, I proclaim_ I didnt support that war so why should I die for John Howard's folly?

Ah....but am I? Have I not been driving a luxury car fuelled by cheap energy? Have I not been turning on heaters and electric blankets and using a tumble dryer when the sun or a lover could have done the job? Have I not been dining out in fine restaurants, wearing fine feathers made in power hungry factories? Have I not been voting Liberal because it was good for the economy and my backpocket even though Rome was already burning and the writing on the wall?

Tonight, Sydney's Collapse is also my collapse...and 4 million others....but how much MORE warning did we need? Why did we not heed? Why not act? Thank goodness I spent time with the cubs teaching them a little through documentaries such as "An Inconvenient truth" and "A Crude Awakening"- movies and debates I also organised at work, along with the brilliant Jane McGonigal's alternate reality game, "World without Oil" but alas, too little, too late.

So, my dear friends, there won't be a funeral...there will be too many dead and rotting bodies everywhere...its best to just bulldoze the place....but, if the Servers in Google Land and their back-ups get off scotfree this time and this post makes it to you...take heed. Act now. Greed is NOT good, and complacency that others will do the right thing to protect us...fairytales!

And a little, A LOT MORE. Live a lot more too, a way that preserves life, not rob it.

This is the Leopard Lady and her little cub signing off and MEWTU, the cat, who is blissfully unaware life as we know it is about to be snuffed out.
So, adieu...until we meet again, and cheers (raising my champagne flute and draining the last drop) xxx

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Creating intelligence

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No...this is NOT an essay on religion, but more a reflection on evolution and the Renaissance that we are all in the middle of. Like the printing press was a catalyst for Renaissance 1.0, the internet is most certainly that for Remaissance 2.0 - enabling the spread of knowledge and collaboration across geopgraphies and time as if they don't exist. And indeed, they are no longer barriers.

Collective intelligence is the capacity of human communities to evolve towards higher order complexity and harmony, through such innovation mechanisms as differentiation and integration, competition and collaboration.

This week brought another great example of how our connectedness with others through social networking rapidly builds intelligence and progress when I was contacted by LA-based social media entrepreneur, Richard McKinnon,as a follow-on to my blog and Linked-In profile, which was in turn connected to Des Walsh, a business blogging expert who delivered 2 workshops at our Innovation Festival in June. Des was in turn recommended to me via another blogger in the US, whom I contacted via another Knowledge blog, IT Toolbox, in November last year. In turn, we all have some mutual business acquaintances in common, eg Ross Dawson, author of Trends in the Living Networks and producer of the Future of Media Summits, and to my surprise, Rolf von Behrens, an expert in Sustainability, both of whom I met when I created the first Ryze offline social group in Australia going some 5 years now. (What I find so interesting is how these social networks go through "swarming phases"....Ryze was certainly my first....YEARS before the Web 2.0 phrase was coined, that was followed by LinkedIn, then MySpace - which I gave a miss, then Facebook, which I have again joined- mostly because its less limiting than LinkedIn but alas, at age 45, most of my school contemporaries are obviously in the dark ages and cannot be found in FaceBook!)

Suffice to say- it refocussed my attention to return to more regular blogging-although in my case, I blog for artistic and creative pleasure and philosophical reflection more than being a subject matter expert. (I was also reading some musings on Ross' blog yesterday about the relatively low percentage of Aussies that blog compared to the rest of the English speaking world. I have my own theory about that...its called LIFESTYLE! We have such great weather that I guess, like me, most people would rather be out there and enjoying it than couped up and slumped over the computer_ I have tried multi-tasking by blogging at the beach but the glare makes it a hopeless exercise!)

But, blogging eats up quite a lot of time....I am not talking about simple snippets that merely link to other people's stuff, but considered reflection and synthesis. At the recent Future of Media Summit, I heard a great definition of Influence through Blogs...the first is people who are merely "connectors", the second, and more influential, are those who change the debate.

I think my best value is in doing and showing rather than the academic perspective (I get bored with writing things up, though I know its important) but therein the benefit of the network; others do the commentary and writing if you involve them, which leaves me free to do more of the doing!

And so, together with strangers, all of whom share a common interest and passion, we rapidly knit a tapestry of wisdom, insight and experience together in a way no single individual could.

Saturday, July 07, 2007



...such a great word, relish - rich, juicy, plump, luxurious....and, so it should be. As the dictionary describes it..."pleasurable appreciation of something"...and that is what I am doing. After 8 years in Australia, and 7 years in my company, starting practically from the bottom again, I feel like I have finally made it back to where I was career-wise when I left Billiton and South Africa end of 1998.

Yes, my recent project, the Innovation & Thought Leadership Festival that I have been arranging for the past 9 months, took place between 25-29 June, and it exceeded even my own wildest expectations. And so, forgive me for taking a moment to relish that...and, the acknowledgement I received from my colleagues, peers, Board members, CEO and my boss.

I received over 60 e-mails and about 300 sms are just a few snippets to keep in my virtual album...

Sent: 30/06/2007 08:14 AM ZE10
To: Annalie Killian
Subject: Special person

Every now and then I think things are bad and life is flat... Then I think
about the people in my life and how wonderful the world really - despite
its challenges. You are one of those very special people...

Congratulations on what YOU have achieved this week, congratulations in
believing anything can be achieved despite the barriers and proving women
can lead the world...

This from our Strategic Alliances Director who is in the above photo with me, name withheld for privacy reasons

Sent: 29/06/2007 05:50 PM ZE10
To: Annalie Killian
Subject: Congratulations

Hi Annalie

I just wanted to congratulate you on an amazing week topped off by the most
amazing expo. I had been searching for inspiration and the expo has given
me the push and motivation I needed to get through the next few weeks.
Thank you!

Congratulations and I hope the Hub launch is as successful as this week has
been for you. I am very proud to be part of your team.

A member of my team, name suppressed to protect privacy
Sent: 26/06/2007 11:24 AM ZE10
To: Annalie Killian
Subject: Fw: Innovation Festival

A success I think!!

Annalie .....................YOU REALLY PULLED THIS ONE OFF!!!

Congratulations..............and thank you from all of us!!

Name suppressed to protect privacy, but this was from my boss!

Note from CEO to Board Member who attended
Early on day 2, it's clear this has been an inspirational initiative that will shape strategic thinking in (The company) very
Thanks for your active participation and support,

(CEO name suppressed to protect privacy)

Note from Board member who attended to my boss
I just wanted to congratulate you on the festival and thank you for the
chance to take part. The work involved in organising something like this
must be phenomenal but what you have done is to offer to the (name of my company)community a world class conference with great speakers and, at least judging by today, thoroughly stimulating content which would be terrific just from a personal
development point of view, let alone the potential to do great things for
the business.

It's sensational! and we are all in debt to you and your team,

(Name suppressed to protect privacy)

To: Annalie Killian
Subject: Congratulations on a breathtaking initiative!

The Innovation and Thought Leadership Festival was a huge success and I
know that ddn't happen without a huge effort from yourself in particular.
Congratulations - I'd like to catch up next month when i return from

Kind regards

(name suppressed for privacy)
General Manager HR & Strategy

Sent Jun 30, 2007 03:58
Subject: Wow.

Wow. You done well kiddo! Stunning event. Off home now couldn't find you to
say bye. Thanks for the recognition. Love your work. You are the star
today enjoy every minute of it. xx

From our HR Director and a colleague

Sent: 29/06/2007 04:59 PM ZE10
To: Annalie Killian
Subject: Re: Innovation and thought leadership festival - question re


I hope you are sitting down to a well earned champagne. Even though I only
saw a tiny slither of what you have put on this week I was totally blown
away. I wandered around the exhibition for quite a while - it was
fantastic. I can't wait to sit down and chat with you about your role,
aspirations and how we might share stories and ideas. To this end I would
like to invite you to lunch - how does 17 or 19 July work?

I hope you have a restful weekend and do let me know if either of those
dates works for you.

Kind regards
Director (name suppressed for privacy reason)
PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia

Sent: 28/06/2007 11:21 AM ZE10
To: Annalie Killian
Subject: Fw: Thank you

and guess what...........for your sins you get to do a Board presentation
on the 24th July say 20mins talking and 20mins discussion - we need to pull
together a packc next week...............we can work on it together!!

Congratulations again!!!

My boss...again

11:15 AM

Note from Chairman of the Board to my boss
Thank you indeed for including me in the dinner on Tuesday night. There
has been a great buzz around the company this week and the dinner was a reflection
of it. I thought the whole presentation, the atmosphere and conviviality
said a huge amount about the quality of your team and the inspirational
thinking which is underway.

Annalie is a gem.

(name suppressed for privacy reasons)

and so on....relish, relish, relish! Success is sweet but fleeting...there is always a new mountain to, I am already beginning to work on the next Everest!

Thanks to all of friends and family, for your interest and support!
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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Blackberry salad


Finally, the Blackberry is silent....eerily so. The Festival ended somewhere on Friday night after a week that went by in a blurrrr...and I ended up a bit blurry after a few celebratory margaritas were forced down my sore throat at the after-after party! Oi, didnt know those things left a dent in your brain! Had to really "think", as I stumbled in the door to two bemused cubs, how to keep a straight and sober pose...was not about to throw my reputation as an impeccable role model down the drain, even if I had much reason to celebrate!

Driving home next day in the car (we stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel on Friday night), Cub 1 says to me: "So Mum, other than having a heap of fun at work, what do you ACTUALLY do?" (Kids don't understand that being an executive, making decisions, delighting customers and shareholders, managing people, assets and crises, and attending too many meetings, IS ACTUALLY WORK!)

"Well," I tried to explain..."my job is to lead people, set challenging goals, to help them grow, find their talent, realize their potential, have fulfilment in their work. It's called Leadership" thing, cub 2, sitting in the rear, pipes up: "Geez Mom, you sound like Jesus!

Well...I nearly drove off the harbour bridge!

From the mouths of babes...come priceless wit!

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

On blogs and blokes...

After nearly a year of on-off dating, courtship, seduction, the odd quarrel, endless foreplay till the early hours of the morning and the occassional midnight wake-up, my new lover and I are just about there...ready to climax together in a massive explosion of sensation and stimulation. Yes, my lover, The 2007 Innovation and Thought Leadership Festival, is supercharged with wow, and is the talk of the town!

Its true- I have joined the ranks of enlightened women and traded blokes in favour of Thought Leaders, Creative Geniuses and Innovative Entrepreneurs, and quite frankly, I have enjoyed more thrills than I've had in years! Nothing like a huge brain between the ears!!!

The Festival grew from a one-day fling called EXPO in 2005, to a full-on 24 week romance, with the main celebrations happening from 25-29 June, in Sydney.

The first of my 30 international guest speakers are arriving next week, I have a media circus on my hands, 3000 registered attendees, hi-tech exhibitors including virtual world avatars and parallel universes, a cocktail party for 600 with "virtual" decor being arranged by a genious French drag queen who covers the Sydney Gay Mardis Gras in his alias as Claire de Lune , I've battled uncollaborative building managers on turning their corporate headquarters lobby into an Expo Centre and cocktail lounge, driven a Lamborghini Gallardo donated by a sponsor, and am preparing for 90 participants to come on an 8-week innovation bootcamp with personal innovation coaches to develop the seeds of their business ideas into flourishing growth opportunities for our business. Today, I am selecting 30 art pieces from 300 entries produced by employees through a 12-week Creative Bootcamp launched to co-incide with World Creativity Day, for the art exhibition in our foyer - we open 25 June. All exciting new initiatives, and I am taking the 9-year old cub with for work experience!

Meanwhile, in the few hours that I manage to grab some sleep, winds close to 200 kms per hour are battering the coast, 6 ft waves in our normally flat inner harbour bay at Balmoral, ripping boats off their moorings, sinking ferry wharves and snapping the terrace furniture of my penthouse apartment like twigs! I woke at 5 am to run outside stark naked just with slippers on to salvage what I can before it smashes through the wall-to-wall glass panels of my little seaview nest in the sky! Not an erotic looking bird I was, I assure you! Hope the stainless steel BBQ does not dance off the terrace and into the Pacific....or worse, on someone's car!

So, that's the reason why I am up so early and decided to use this rare moment of weather bewilderment to update my blog. You see, I have a confession to make. I am NOT Superwoman despite what many say...I have launched the first corporate blog at work and I am simply finding life too short to blog in two places simultaneously, keep up with emerging trends like Second Life, Twitter and Facebook and what not, and play mummy and femme fatale all at once!

Something had to give....blokes and blogs, in that order....seemed a fair trade-off!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Rainbows are made of...



She was not supposed to die. Not before 100! A beautiful vibrant woman in full bloom....a rose just unfolding...33 years old and with the world at her feet ....the adventures of motherhood, stretchmarks, mid-life crises, career/motherhood guilt, raising hormonal teenagers and evolutionary thinking about the meaning of it all, still ahead of her.

But she was robbed. As were, her wonderful husband, her loving family, her circle of adoring friends, her colleagues, her god-child (cub1)and the world. Its nearly 12,5 years since the rainbow broke, and I miss her more than ever as I struggle with life's ups and downs and need her wisdom and lack of judgement to hold up both a shoulder and a mirror. You don't form those kind of friendships easily at this stage of life, they are moulded in the crucible of life over time.

Her joie d'vivre and energy was boundless. She was fearless, hated injustice, laughed from her belly, was curious with an insatiable appetite for learning, passionate about excellence and one of very few people in the world that I absolutely trusted.

It happened in an instant....less than 10 seconds -like love at first sight except better! In a crowd of 53 new first years arriving at House Kruinsig at uni that night of 4 February 1981, we each recognised something in the other's style and attitude (quite rebellious and whacky in those days- not that much has changed!)that went "PING!"

That's something that I have experienced only a few times in my life...and those are the relationships (outside of your children who are born of your flesh) that give most meaning to one's existence. I read this book called "Love is not a game but it helps to know the odds!" and it talks about the mathematically calculated odds of finding friendships or lovers that are soulmates.

Its 1:2334!

Even though Mari lost her incredible fight against the horrid big C, I am so grateful to have had her for a while. And to have experienced this magical zone of soulmateship in 4 friendships over my life and once in the love of a man. These relationships are the colours of my rainbow.

Luckily, three of these friendships remain intact - though scattered and fragmented by geography and through career and family commitments. But they endure. And I close my eyes and give a telepathic hug to my rainbow makers.
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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

No...its not a man!'t wasn't a man that stabbed my heart so...there was only ever one man who hurt me so badly but I am a fast learner and that will NEVER happen again...

I am the last line of the poem....the tears need to wash away the pain so when you lift your face up, it has cleared the vision to see the stars and sun again.
This blog is the chronicle of my thoughts and feelings. Mostly happy, excited, oozing joie d'vivre....but never one-dimensional, vacuous...its the chronicles of a feeling and passionate soul. A soul that feels pain as intensely as pleasure and joy.

Tears are a cleanser...healing...and us women are nature's ultimate survivors because crying allows us not to break. I once read..."drink" is a man's tears. (grammar sounds odd, but there's a lot of truth in that- how lucky are the ones who can shed tears and purge their grief through self-expression, communication or art!)
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escape valve

Just when you think life is in harmony...someone puts a dagger into your heart.

And you know its going to break. But it doesn't. It just gets more and more swollen with pain....throbbing, aching, straining....until it feels it will explode....but then , in rivers erupting from your eyes, the pain floods down the contours of your your heart can go on.

Tears - Elizabeth Barret Browning

Thank God, bless God, all ye who suffer not
More grief than ye can weep for. That is well--
That is light grieving ! lighter, none befell
Since Adam forfeited the primal lot.
Tears ! what are tears ? The babe weeps in its cot,
The mother singing, at her marriage-bell
The bride weeps, and before the oracle
Of high-faned hills the poet has forgot
Such moisture on his cheeks. Thank God for grace,
Ye who weep only ! If, as some have done,
Ye grope tear-blinded in a desert place

And touch but tombs,--look up I those tears will run
Soon in long rivers down the lifted face,
And leave the vision clear for stars and sun
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Friday, January 26, 2007

Summer in Sydney- cool cats, hot dates!


Well, summer holidays on the Australian Riviera offer endless twists and surprises- and I'll be up all weekend blogging if I had to list them all, but as one friend said: "You should be on the payroll of Sydney Tourism"! This city offers so much....and we didn't even do a fiftieth of what is on offer!

It started with my 45th Birthday, the mystery roses, the weekend party in the country, the first swim in the Murrimbidgee, visits to the capital city, the Science Exploratorium and the Telstra Tower.

There was the wonderful Carols by Candlelight on Balmoral beach -a gentle stroll from home- a first for me and a breathtaking night it was too.

Other fantastic memories are cloudless night skies filled by a fabulous rising orange, then later big full silver moon dancing her moonbeams right off the bay and into my home and my heart! Closer to magic and amazement and wonder you cannot experience- its positively metaphysical.

There were passenger cruise ships - bedecked in fairy lights glistening like diamonds, simulating a brightly-lit floating wedding cake - slipping through the Heads at midnight as I sat quietly in the dark contemplating life and love, enjoying the night breeze.

Contrast this with the dramatic and glorious start of 78 spinnakers billowing at the start of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race, shared with a group of friends on my terrace on Boxing Day while cooking on that infamous BBQ!

Then the launch party at the trendy OTT Slide Bar (official festival bar for Sydney Mardi Gras) in Darlinghurst of the first rock concerts webcast to hundreds of thousands in internet land. There was also the first Oscars night for NiceShorts- at the Paddington Chauvel, and winning a bottle of rare single malt Scotch whisky in the lucky ticket draw!

Maintaining the gaiety, the stage production of Australia's very own home-grown musical about the misadventures of a colourful gaggle of drag queens in the Outback - the hilarious and over-the-top Priscilla, Queen of the Desert! was a real treat and masterfully executed!

Of culinary note, there were the dinners with the charming Frenchmen at the Watermark guzzling down exquisite fresh saltwater barramundi with Louis Roederer, and the discovery of new culinary gems-Alchemy (French) and Il Perugino (Italian, in fact Umbrian to be precise)with other friends- all of them in the neighbourhood, creative and atmospheric. Reminiscent of fine European traditions more commonly found in Melbourne!, love, love it!

There was nippers, kayaking and windsurfing and skiffs at Middle Harbour and Balmoral Sailing Club....blisters, sore arms and a bit of sunburn too! There was a dusk-walk to Clifton Gardens and that picnic with quail's eggs and an "oyster and champagne tasting competition" wearing blindfolds!

And how can I not mention the cricket and that final day at the Sydney Cricket Ground? But the BEST thing about the cricket was England's Barmy Army- what a wonderful spirited and well-mannered crowd of supporters and ambassadors for their island home! They lit up the whole city- thank you guys!

We also did the beach marathon...7 beaches in 7 days from Palm Beach to voted Bondi best- think that lunch at Icebergs had a lot to do with it as well as the festive crowds from all over the world...we counted 15 languages just in the 30 m2 around where we sat! Pity the storms at sea stirred up the cold water because swimming in 16 degrees was a SIGNIFICANT challenge. But here's an urban myth that really made me laugh...common wisdom proclaimed that the cold water was the result of the ice-shelf in Antarctica breaking off!

One of the best things about summer is the Sydney Festival with its exotic, innovative and breathtaking artists and experiences....the Jazz in the Park, Symphony in the Domain, and open air theatre at Custom's House and Hyde Park. All the more impressive because of the amazing spirit of Sydney's festival crowds.

Another highlight was the workshop at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Paddy Bedford exhibition- an Aboriginal Artist who was a stockman and cattle musterer in the Kimberleys all his life and took up painting his life stories only at the age of 80!!! He is one of the artists commissioned by the new Musée du Quai Branly in Paris which profiles art from the New World. (Do click on the link provided through his name- its well worth the read!)

And the contrast of a rapid 54 degree Celsius temperature shift as we crossed from 39degree temperatures on the Opera House Forecourt to the -15 inside the Ice Bar (Minus5experience). Don't worry, only da mamee consumed the anti-freeze, the cubs stuck to mocktails which would explain why they nearly turned into popsicles! They had better practice for the skiing holiday in Aspen in March!

Oh gosh...and the Moonlight Cinema in the Botanical Gardens which I prefer to the one at North Sydney Oval, though the summer noodle markets there are a heap of fun!

Coming up towards the end of January, there was my 2nd Burns night supper, and the much-lauded "Toast to the laddies" by yours truly who can't do the accent, have never been to Scotland and can't stomach (scuse the pun!)the haggis, tatties and neeps, but the whisky-tasting and dashing Scotties in kilts showing off great legs provided a wonderful alternative feast. (Sexiest guys in the world- next to those smouldering Chilean tennis players!)

The school holidays sort of end officially with a very special Birthday Party- Australia Day! Its an all-day water-borne party with every man and his boat taking to the water dressed with flags, streamers, balloons, boxing kangaroos, and this year-a few "Priscillas", one of which won the best dressed vessel in the parade past the Jackson Landing Jazz on the water concert. After a long day in the sun, we decided we could forego another spectacular pyrotechnics and fireworks finale at Darling Harbour seeing we are hitting the road early tomorrow to return Cub1 to boarding school.

But not before we have a few more adventures! A farmstay in the Barrington Tops riding horses with a Captain Thunderbolt-type character- a storyteller like you have never come across in your life and in itself worth the drive! Then onwards to the final day of the 35th Tamworth Country and Western Music Festival-yeehaa cowboys!

Monday we check Cub1 back in for further educational enrichment (which means financial impoverishment for mum!) at her boarding school for Year 7 studies.

That will signal the end of a wonderful summer that was never very hot and most of the time unusually and pleasantly cool.

What made all of this so special? The kids did....they are at the age where they are becoming intellectually and emotionally aware....of course same goes for the physical changes to their bodies...and exposing them to a variety of new experiences on a constant basis is my innovation mantra! Laugh....I think it already shows in their school work, vocabularly, maturity and creativity.

Long live curiosity and the human fun button! Anytime you need fun, just dial me!
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Friday, January 05, 2007 cub


How can any bought gift for my birthday compare to this work of self-expression by cub1? I think she's simply wonderful! And what is more...the older she gets, the more I like always love your kids but you don't always like them...its a good feeling when the two co-incide!
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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The summer of my content

Sorry visiting Pommie cricket fans - to add insult to injury, the Ozzies are thrashing you even under English weather conditions! But thanks...misty, rainy, dreary days are what we call a MIRACLE in this dry brown land - a HUGE treat!

All the more so if you are on holidays and can actually stay indoors, watch the fat billowing fluffy purple clouds roll in over the ocean and then pelt the windows in a long-forgotten yet heavenly whooshing sound.

Even though its the 2nd January (and freshly-made New Year's Resolutions still ringing in ears!) it was evident when my 6am alarm beeped me from deep dreams that this was NOT a good day for trimming and training but a GREAT day for snuggling back under the covers followed by late brunch of Dutch pancakes and French toast - NOT the planned post-festive carbohydrate and bubbly purge!

This is also the summer where my bikini body went awol AGAIN! thanks to a penchant for French champagne and a delightful stream of suitors who seem to think the only way to woo a woman is through fine dining!

But its been a very important summer nonetheless! My daughters on the other hand have discovered bikinis, boobies and a much greater awareness of themselves and the world, and walking that journey of discovery with them is delivering two interesting friends to philosophise and laugh with. Hallelujah - finally the rewards of motherhood!

As their alternative rock blasts across the Balmoral slopes while I'm still scrambling the breakfast eggs, I wiggle my hips too and cart home canvasses and paint for the expression of self and new insights into the universe and try not to nag too much about the mess.

I have also realised that sending your daughter to a posh and expensive Anglican girls school at age 12 is educating her in ways much broader than you had ever imagined it would. Broadminded and liberal as I am about discussing sexual issues in an open and factual way with my girls, I was hardly expecting to be asked the why's and wherefores of losing my virginity! But there you go! How stimulating life is with little people as they morph into big people!

Yes, sex, drugs and rock'n roll is still as much part of teenage life as it ever was-although it feels like even more so thanks to ubiquitous technology and the omni-present media.

In my opinion, this calls more than ever before for open and truthful communication between kids and us as their solid pillars of trust, integrity and respect in a world where it must seem to them that "anything goes".

John Steinbeck wrote "The winter of our discontent" to focus on the moral and civil decay of the 60's. As did Shakespeare in 1653??? in Richard 111. One wonders if any of this is new? My intuition says its not-its just better publicised.

But it does worry me when children grow up with leaders who justify wars and other actions based on blatant lies, when good men (voters) do nothing about it as long as the economy keeps running hot, - so evil thrives!

And I realise that from this summer on, I would love to spend much more time talking with these little big people about the BIG issues while enjoying lots of little things and laughs too!

Hmm....contentment at home with that's a new era!

Monday, December 25, 2006

what matters most...

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Its the Christmas morning service at St Clements of Mosman. About $10 million of German luxury on wheels sit in the carpark outside as inside we pray for world peace and, alongside Bill Gates and Bono, an end to poverty. Then we chuck a $50 note in the collection plate seeing its Christmas and we won't be here again till next year this time.

My thoughts go to toddlers and grown-up kids in countless malls lining up to whisper a wish into a "make-believe" Santa's ear as the moment gets frozen digitally and e-mailed to relatives continents apart...

...and my thoughts drift to the words of the Janis Joplin song "Mercedes Benz" , and I wonder....what indeed could we possibly wish for? We have so much, such abundance, so much material wealth...what could possibly bring happiness beyond the Mercedes Benz, the Porsche?

But then God/the Cosmic Brain/ Mother Nature/Allah/Santa or whatever people want to believe in...delivers....

He/She delivers what matters most in this dry brown parched land.

Not diamonds or pearls, no Prada or Tiffany, not iconic electronic toys or luxury goods, not Italian or German automobiles...but that what matters most...

...that which is the quest of scientists, geologists and cosmologists alike...the very life source...thundering, loud, splashing, soaking, drenching, luxurious, miraculous little drops of water falling from the heavens like angels of salvation...the one thing we cannot manufacture in Stuttgart or Silicon Valley, Guanzou or Bangalore...rain, glorious, cooling, life-giving rain...

...and I give thanks. I dance with joy, and to my wishlist for next year, I add:

"Dear Lord, please make the State Government build more dams, but this time...IN the catchment areas, please?"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Too few cooks in the kitchen....

Tonight, I cooked.

This statement would not have raised any eyebrows or been remotely a subject worth contemplating even 15 years ago. A woman, especially a mother, cooks!

Its just that I haven't cooked in some 6 weeks. Life is altered. A woman's existence redefined.

Time for browsing through markets, carefully smelling, probing, testing fresh produce to select the ripest, sweetest, firmest...a chit-chat with the butcher or fishmonger to select the best cut for dinner, and then home to lovingly prepare it with snips of fresh herbs, gentle simmer, slow roast etc...table set for dinner as the dessert bakes, family all arriving home from playing with neighbour's kids, husband and breadwinner arriving with the evening paper and stories of the latest deal signed, and cheeky children falling asleep from all the bike riding and tree climbing that they got up to after they finished their homework.

That's the world I was raised for.

The world I inherited lost the plot and instead, Mummy is breadwinner and cook, arrives late from board meeting at office to daycare to pick-up child from sanitised indoor "Occ healthed-and-safed,risk-averse" cage behind locked doors, kids not tired at all but hyped and hungry and wanting to eat NOW because the high-carb preservative-rich white bread with processed cheese spread or cheap margarine and strawberry jam served for afternoon tea did not dull the boredom of playstation or the same DVD for the 9th time.

So, forget going home, because last night, while you were finalising a whole year in advance's strategic plan for an 8am this morning deadline, you definitely weren't thinking about tonight's dinner preparation needs and consequently the piece of fish you bought to boost the omega 6 oils on the menu is still happily lying deepfrozen in the freezer and you know the asparagus have gone limp and the basil all slushy and slime green, and the vegetable store was just pulling down the shut grill.

Variations on the theme above, interspersed with weekends where you really just want to NOT have to do anything for anyone other than sign a credit card slip, is kind of how things went for 6 weeks leading up to and post a crazy busy overseas trip, with mercifully, someone else cooked and washed for your future genetic hope at boarding school.

So...meandering through the grocery store aisles today as if its some new discovery tunnel and actually deciding what to cook with all the yummy fresh things was actually like entertainment. I can recommend it!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Beaver tails (tales?????)


Friends, can you help please? I am looking for a native or near-native from the Colorado Rockies...I want to explore family holiday options around Beaver Creek and Vail for Easter (5-10 April 07) next year. Have booked airfares for moi and kiddiewinx to go snow-ball fighting, but internet research is no good if you don't know the "lie of the land". I am initially attending a conference in Aspen (its part of me investing in my own loooooooooong-term future as a independent consultant/ speaker/ author) and then want to travel by car to Beaver Creek or Vail or Arapahoe Basin where the snowboarding facilities are better.

All advice gratefully and gracefully accepted! Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 24, 2006

Skippy goes Froggy

Some piccies on heading or this link and cross fingers it works
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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

SURVIVOR a la Parisienne

I have invented a new "game" ...its called SURVIVOR! the location? Paris!!!

So...the clue above would suggest that I am NOT in Hong Kong now as I should have been....instead, I am stranded penniless and identityless but at least not humourless in the world's most beautiful and expensive city...also home to the most sophisticated pickpockets! In this case, they work the Paris 5 star hotels...everything from the George V to the Meridien Etoile where I am at (much lower on the food chain at 195 Euros a night vs George V at 865 Euros a night!)

Yes, if I was in the little Jean Paul Gaultier boutique hotel that I wanted to book into for its superior charm and style instead of this characterless chain that the corporate travel agency insisted was company policy, I would not have been a target!

c'est la vie! Suffice to say....after I packed all my gear, left my luggage with concierge, bought a ticket for the airport transfer bus, I went to have breakfast. It happened between the concierge desk and the breakfast room- for which access is controlled by a maitre'd- or in the 15 mins while I was having breakfast. My wallet and passport wallet was lifted out of my handbag! I discovered it as I exited the breakfast room to retrieve my just-purchased ticket to head for Charles de Gaulle airport to fly to Hong Kong for my speaking engagement at the university! know that sinking feeling..................?

I instinctively KNEW I had been robbed. Funny thing is...the same thing happened to me 25 years ago in the American Bar in Paris....luckily that time my passport was not taken and I was a poor backpacker so a string of credit cards was not a headache.

I wont bore you with the tedium of what ensued....but I still have a throbbing headache almost 24 hours later as a consequence of the stress!

Luckily my company has insured me but dealing with global organisations like Visa and AMEX aint as global or 24x7 as the advertisements say. There is NO EXPRESS in American Express!I would love to place their Marketing Manager in this position and strip him of all his contact numbers and see how he or she manages! It has been a diabolical experience, but Visa is way ahead of Amex in the efficiency stakes I am hoping that by tomorrow I can get emergency cash and a replacement credit card, and then I will be camped out at Australian Embassy who says they no longer provide temporary travel documents, I have to wait for a full passport replacement- 48-72 hours.

So...what is a hungry and penniless nameless vagrant to do today but enjoy the free fresh air and scenic beauty of the nearby Bois de Bologne Park and indulge in my favourite past-time....a picnic on the grass among the lillies and swans, dressed in a fur coat, feasting on the exquisite handcrafted Belgian chocolates I had purchased as gifts in Ghent and a bottle of vintage Bollinger that I bought as a gift for my host-to-be in Hong Kong! Ah...the torture!

Yes, some music would be nice...maybe I will hear some if I am open to it...maybe even enjoy a slow waltz?

Last night, wandering a bit aimlessly trying to find a taxi in the non-tourist part of the city after going to the Police Station which is MILES from my hotel, I stumbled upon a tiny pedestrian lane in a non-descript residential area of Paris teeming with locals shopping at delicatessens, Boucheries full of local delicacies like dressed and feathered pheasants, ducks, and other feathery flesh, rabbits (lapin) in various stages of "undress", and even wild boar hams still covered in the hairy black skin, top it all, the release of the 2006 Beaujolais with wine tastings everywhere, a fromagerie or 6, several exquisite patisseries and boulangeries selling pastries and bread too picture perfect to eat....and a juggler and Little Sparrow-like waif playing the accordion and singing the melancholy Jacques Brel songs made so famous by Edith Piaf.

Yes, I fell into a picture, plonked myself down by a little table, splashed out 6 Euros on a glass of new season Beaujolais, a baguette, some fromage and foie gras (with some emergency cash the hotel manager advanced me to pay the taxi fare to go to the police station!)....and then walked the 4 kms back to the hotel instead!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

La Belle Epoque-click on photo to go to online album

Posted by Picasa I've fallen in love!

I have landed in a little spot of preserved old-style unglobalised pure Europe like a long-lost story!

My hotel is a candle-light and Christmas-junkie fairytale....romantic and cosy beyond my wildest expectations.

Roaring fires everywhere, fat white candles emitting a soft golden glow over rich plush upholstered furnishings, lit Christmas trees and tasteful decorations framing corners of the bar and fireplace. Tealights dancing around brilliant red pointsettias on the gleaming black grand piano.

Then out to dine on the famous Moules mit friten (mussels steamed in aromatic broth with hand-cut chips and lots of beer) at Chez Leon in the Grand Place-its picture-perfect row upon row of traditional cafes on cobbled streets.

One can only say thank God that Belgium is not the rockstar of has escaped with its soul intact! I shall return to Brussels for sure-long may this city remain au naturale!