A Rostrum Speech: To be a little crazy is a good thing.

Crazy? Crazy. Crazy!

We are living in a bizarre world. These are crazy times – we have said it so often in the past three months – is it only three? And in crazy times, being normal is not enough. But being too crazy is just going to make things worse. No – to be a little crazy is a good thing.

Let’s put a little context on that.

Our new normal is not normal. If you had told me three months ago that the borders would be closed – that there would be no holidays overseas for a year, that I would live, work, and socialise in a virtual world, or that I could go to a nightclub so long as I didn’t dance – I’d have said you were crazy. And I’d have been right. None of this was normal!

Now, conventional wisdom, normal wisdom, says that ‘normal’ was ‘just how it always was, how it is, and how it will stay’. If you are normal, if you try to work normally – that’s not going to be enough. Being ‘normal’ comes with too many damned rules. You can do this but only when that happens. If you do that other thing, then you’ll get that outcome. And those rules don’t work any more, and they’re not going to work for some time into the future. It’s not good. Frankly, trying to be normal, and do things normally – it’s going to drive you crazy.

But that’s OK – unless you are driven a lot crazy. Too crazy and you’re in deep trouble. Too crazy is when you can’t operate, when you’re can’t make decisions, when you’re bound up in your own little world and worried about every consequence, every action, every thought – you’ll drive yourself to distraction. You’ll be too crazy and that’s just not good either.

Being normal will not be good. Too crazy will not be good. But being a little crazy – that’s the sweet spot. You don’t want to be so strait-laced that stepping outside of the normal breaks you. You want to seem human, be human! You want to act a little crazy – so you can have fun and ‘break the norm’. Buy a 27-year old keyboard. Ride a bicycle upside down. The people you live with will appreciate you for you. The people you work with will see too that we’re all in this together and it’s OK if it’s driving you a bit crazy. We can all work together. It’s a stress relief – enjoy and embrace your crazy.

Today, nothing is normal – and being ‘normal’ isn’t enough. Of course – you can’t go too crazy. If you go too crazy you’ll be bouncing around and just not advance. No – the answer is to be a little crazy. To be a little crazy is a good thing.

Hidden Dangers

(The below is a speech that I wrote last night for my Rostrum speaking club – the topic was ‘Hidden Dangers)

Humans are fragile things. You hit them with a car – they die. You feed them teeny-tiny chunks of arsenic – they die.  You lock them in a room without oxygen – they die.  And of course, if you expose them to a new, never-before-seen virus – they die.  Their crumpled little shells crinkle, crack and creak until – poof – they turn to dust. 

Some dangers are obvious – for example, diving headlong into a vat of broken glass has clear consequences.  Other dangers are hidden away from our ever-alert, ever-nervous eyes.  For us humans, hidden dangers lurk everywhere – in what we breathe, what we eat, and what we touch. 

An apparent hidden danger is of course the coronavirus and the associated disease, Covid-19.  The normal rules of ‘keep away from danger’ don’t apply with a virus.  You can’t smell or taste it – so you don’t know to avoid breathing it in or eating it.  And you can’t see with your eyes if a surface is contaminated – so you could be touching it RIGHT NOW and not know it!

It does spread through the air – but fortunately that is not as easy to catch it as you might think. 

It appears so far to require direct contact with an infected person or respiratory droplets.  And it needs to be for a fairly prolonged period of time – about 15 minutes face to face contact – anywhere – for the 24 hours before the onset of symptoms in the infected person.  Or, about two hours of sharing a closed space (about two or more hours) is a problem (Yay for lectures!).  But the virus does not seem to spread through air conditioning – it only survives in the air for a short time.  So – if an infected person coughs with you in the direct path, and you breathe in the droplets in the air, then the hidden danger is revealed and you can get coronavirus.

To stop this, you can use a face mask – I guess, though that’s not foolproof, you need to replace the mask often, and is better if the infected person wears it.  Better – respect personal space, avoid close contact with coughing or sneezing people, and give yourself plenty of space to avoid droplets – say, 6 feet :).  Personal space is important!

As for getting Covid-19 from what we eat, that seems unlikely unless you are actually eating an infected animal.  Still you should probably avoid preparing food for other people if you think you have Covid-19.  And… maybe avoid the purchase of food from places that look a little… dodgy (though that’s good advice for all of the time). 

The hidden danger is that you can pick up the coronavirus from hard surfaces.  The virus can last on surfaces for a few hours, or several days. Current research says it depends on the type of surface, temperature, and humidity.  That benchtop could have had someone sneeze on it yesterday and you’d not know it!  Ick! 

An alcohol-based wet wipe – more than 70% ethanol, isopropanol, or 2-propanol – will kill the virus within about a minute.  So that’s good news – maybe instead of toilet paper, we should stock up on those?  If you have visions – as I did – of killing it with Glen20 – well, that won’t work.  At all. 

So, maybe carry around alcohol-based wet wipes for this purpose. 

If you have skin-on-skin contact – such as shaking hands or – cough – something more, intimate – then you probably can’t throw someone into a vat of hand sanitiser.  So, in such cases, maybe just avoid touching your eyes, or mouth.  Or you know, licking the desk in front of you…

The other clear and related advice is to wash your hands with soap.  For the full 20 seconds – Happy birthday sung twice is about right, as is, thankfully, the main chorus to Mambo No. 5:  ‘A little bit of Monica in my life, a little bit of Erica by my side… all the way through to Number 5 when those 7 girls make you their man.’


So – the danger is real, but it is hidden.  Fortunately, although humans are fragile, they do tend to survive.  Humanity will continue.  For such fragile little shells, we are robust enough.  The hidden dangers – well, we can’t see them, but we can do things about them.  Covid-19 is not as dangerous as Ebola, where half the people that get it die!  But it’s not obvious that you are in risk of getting it, it’s not obvious if you have it, but it can be most unpleasant to have. 
We should all be vigilant as to what we breathe, eat and touch. 


Covid-19 is not as dangerous as Ebola.  With Ebola, 50% of people who get it, die!  With Covid-19, that number’s about 1% – maybe more, maybe less.  Still, it’s more than the flu, which is 0.1%, and measles, which is 0.2%.  But the trouble is that the ‘reproduction number’ – the number of people that one infected person infects – is actually higher than Ebola.  Ebola is 1.9, Covid-19 is 2.8.  Unllike Ebola – which kills quite quickly – Covid-19 is merely uncomfortable and people spread it around until they realise they’re sick.   You tend not to do that with Ebola…

I sold my old desk today

I wrote three theses, countless reports, and far far too many emails and games of Baldur’s Gate and World of Warcraft.  I sold it for $10.  I know, right?  Last of the capitalist geniuses.  Glad to see it go to a Masters student.  

Here is my Gumtree Ad for posterity.  

This is an old – 60s? 70s? – desk with a green vinyl top and three drawers and a ‘hidden’ back cupboard. Dimensions: 136.7cm long x 83.7cm wide x 73.2cm high. 

Solid, very used but fair original condition. I wrote three theses and edited one book at this desk over 30 years but apparently it no longer ‘matches our decor’. Use as is or get your craft on to restore it properly and role-play being a state bureaucrat in the 1970s.


Cyber-Security for American Chamber of Commerce

Today I was a member of a panel (with Scott Wilkie, Louis Abdilla and Lani Rafiti – and Kristen Devitt facilitating) at Stamford Plaza. We were all speaking to the topic of Cyber Security for American Chamber of Commerce. An interesting panel and a fun opportunity to speak to a captive audience (I’m sure they locked the doors).





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Annual Rostrum Convention Queensland

Today is the Annual Rostrum Convention in Queensland.  I have arrived a bit late, so I am sitting outside in the coffee area blogging.  In my defence, I was up until midnight reviewing a student’s literature review submission for UQ prior to having to mark it.  

Rostrum is all about public speaking, so today’s discussions should be pretty good – given that I like that kind of thing.  Since I arrived late, I haven’t gone into the venue yet.  I am running a hypothetical later in the day – hmm, apparently for 45 minutes.  Given the last one went for two hours, I suppose this one will be a bit less taxing.  How does that sound?

All at the Brisbane International Hotel – at Windsor.  A cosy little venue.

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