petit chien

I thought I wanted a little dog, a friendly face who’d be pleased to see me at the end of the day. A companion for walks by the river and runs in the park.

It turns out, I’m not ready for the commitment.

Mickey is cute. And having him to stay for two weeks has been great. I’d like to have him stay again. But full time…it takes a lot of energy. I don’t mind walking him a couple of times a day. In fact, I love that. But the expectation, as soon as I wake up or get in the door at the end of the day, is intense and unavoidable. His need to get out and walk and mark his territory and sniff every lamp post translates into barking and jumping and very heavy panting. Making him wait only increases the anxiety. And my guilt at not adequately meeting his needs.

And he smells. And leaves hair everywhere. And scratches the carpet.

But he also looks at me adoringly and hopefully. He is happy with any sign of affection; a rub behind the ears, a scratch on the stomach. If I talk to him, he cocks his ears and pretends to be listening, and tries to work out what I mean, or what I want from him.

Perhaps in time I’d get used to a little dog. Perhaps I’m just no longer used to sharing my space and my time. Perhaps I have become selfish and set in my ways.

Or perhaps I should just look after a little dog occasionally and not wish for more.


mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive

Or MECE, pronounced me-see, which is interesting in itself, if that’s the way you want to twist it…Ok, let’s face it, I want it to be relevant that ‘me see’ is the pronunciation for an approach which helps us sort through ideas and problems in an objective, almost cut throat way so that: ‘I see’ is the end result of the process and you have an answer to whatever conundrum life has posed and you feel happy and retire to your garden to pick lavender and pretend you are in France. No wait, that’s my gig…

Yes, I understand that ‘me see’ would be the pidgin way of saying that you understood something, but look, I don’t make these acronyms or their pronunciation up, I’m just working with what I have. And if you’re going to have such a fancy pants title as mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive, which I have to say completely grabbed my attention and blew my mind, then who am I to quibble over grammatically incorrect outcomes?

So, what is this amazing principle I had never heard of before today and yet now want to embrace in all parts of my life?

In situations where there are hundreds of potential options, MECE allows for working through each option and answering with a yes or no to each question. So to apply it, we need to come up with all the possible solutions to a problem (CE) by coming up with a list of solutions that never overlap (ME).

Two events are mutually exclusive if they can’t occur at the same time. An example is tossing a coin once, which can result in either heads or tails, but not both.
When you toss a coin, both outcomes are also collectively exhaustive, because at least one of the outcomes must happen, so these two possibilities together exhaust all the possibilities. However, not all mutually exclusive events are collectively exhaustive. For example, the outcomes 1 and 4 of a single roll of a six-sided die are mutually exclusive (cannot both happen) but not collectively exhaustive (there are other possible outcomes; 2,3,5,6).

Mutually exclusive means concentrating on the detail, the individual tree; every element is different from the others and you have no overlap. On the other hand, collectively exhaustive means bigger picture thinking, seeing the whole forest, all the possibilities, with no gaps.

The brick wall above is both mutually exclusive as there is no overlapping of bricks or bricks stacked up on top of one another and there are also no gaps. The entire area is covered.

In order to live the MECE way, which in reality I think could be quite tiring, the key is to take decisions you would normally just make intuitively and attempt to structure them by asking why and how and then following this down the line of mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive pathways.

So, for a situation where we might wonder what-if, it is possible to turn this question into a scenario of if-then. Meaning if x criteria is met, then do this, if not then do something else. The key is to limit the options to only two. If you have multiple options, you need to prioritise which question should be asked first. Working out which question to ask is the challenge.

MECE sounds ACE, absolutely and certifiably excellent, for a computer system, which can be automated to analyse the data and eliminate options. And, for strategy consultants, the efficiency and elegance of this method is perfect.

In the end, I think if I am going to be deciding which restaurant I am going to eat in or which pathway to strike out on next, I might just go with intuition and in the case of the restaurant, well, gut instinct.

red is the colour

Yesterday I wore my red dress.

It was my nod to Valentine’s Day.

To be honest, I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. And I know it is probably one of the most overstated comments to be made around this date, up there with any kind of commentary on Schapelle Corby’s release from prison, but it is commercialization in all its glory.

I don’t mean to sound cynical. It’s always nice to give or be given flowers and to be told that you are special to someone. It’s just, like all the other naysayers, I do wonder whether it has to be on a particular day and one which has become so attached to the hallmark card and phenomenally priced red rose industry?

And yet, I still wore my red dress. I work in an all girls school. I was playing to the crowd.

When I lived in France…do you like how I managed to crowbar that one in?…there was a festival in Roquemaure, near Avignon, on the weekend closest to the 14th of February. This little village is generally pretty quiet but every year, the streets and town square are filled with visitors who come to have a good time, and ultimately, and rather macabrely, to see the relics of St. Valentine carried out of the church, around the village and back to their place in a shrine to the right of the altar. I think the relics are a toe bone and another small bone. Inspiring.

But if I was Roquemaure, I’d be flaunting my relics too. They were a gift from Rome to the town in 1868 and the goodness of the Saint is said to exude from them and bring a lot of happiness to the town and to those who clap eyes on them, or at least on the receptacle they are in.

Saint Valentine did have a lot of goodness and was executed for this on the 14th of February, 269 AD. His particular form of goodness was in his generosity of spirit to couples and his stand on Christian marriage. 

At the time, marriage had been banned, as the emperor, Claudius, thought that married soldiers did not fight as well as the unmarried men as they were worried about what would happen to their families if they were to die in battle. The priest, Valentine, believed in the sanctity of marriage within the church and so he secretly married couples. His treachery was eventually discovered and he was killed in a very slow and terrible manner.

St. Valentine stood up for what he believed in and acted upon his faith and love. I do think it is fitting that the anniversary of his death is acknowledged. I am just unsure of our approach.

five drinks to try before you die

Top Shelf. It’s the latest festival to grace Melbourne with its presence. And it is a celebration of all things boutique and alcohol.

Hundreds of products are on display, from cider to wine, to single malt whisky, to a gin distilled in Melbourne. Entering the Royal Exhibition building was overwhelming.

But then there was the main stage and we were just in time for two guys from Belfast with their tale of passion, ambition and making it all happen.

Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry had a successful bar in Belfast, and had the suggestion made to them that they could be even more successful in New York. So off they went with a particularly unique idea and a lot of charm and set up The Dead Rabbit down the bottom of Manhattan Island near where the ferry leaves for Staten Island.

The Dead Rabbit won three awards at Tales of the Cocktail 2013, including “World’s Best New Cocktail Bar.” And Jack McGarry, the bar manager, is internationally known for his extensive historically-based beverage programs. In July 2013, Jack was honoured with the prestigious Tales of the Cocktail International Bartender of the Year award. He is its youngest ever recipient.

Sean and Jack put a lot of effort into setting up The Dead Rabbit. In Belfast they both worked at The Merchant Hotel, and were proud of the drinks they poured. But they also liked drinking at the pub down the road. When they moved to New York, they wanted to combine these two aspects: fantastic cocktails and a pub. So The Dead Rabbit has a top end room with a menu of 84 cocktails, based on historical punches from Ireland, and a pub which boasts Irish whiskey and a wide variety of draught beer. Clearly this is a winning combo.

And I am sorry I missed it when I was in New York. 

Next time.

Another highlight was Jason Crawley, a bartender who began his career in London, working for the likes of Ian Schrager Hotels, before moving to Sydney. He educated us on the five drinks to try before we die. We did try them as he spoke. I hope that doesn’t have ominous portent.

These are the drinks. And they were good.

1. Blood and Sand: Blood and Sand is a scotch based cocktail introduced in 1922. It was named for Rudolf Valentino’s 1922 bullfighter movie, Blood and Sand. The red juice of the blood orange in the drink helped link it with the film. The recipe first appeared in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. Blood and Sand is one of the few classic mixed drinks that includes scotch.

3/4 oz Scotch whisky
3/4 oz rosso vermouth
1/4 oz cherry brandy
1 1/2 oz orange juice

Shake over ice cubes, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and serve.

2. Tommy’s Margarita

  • 60ml tequila
  • 30ml lime juice
  • 15ml agave syrup

The Tommy part of the name comes from claims that the margarita was first mixed in Tommy’s Place in the El Paso Juarez region of Mexico in 1942.

3. Last Word, apparently a bartenders favourite

The Last Word is a gin-based prohibition-era cocktail originally developed at the Detroit Athletic Club.

The Last Word consists of equal amounts of gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and freshly pressed lime juice, which are combined in a shaker with ice. After shaking the mix is poured through a cocktail strainer (sieve) into the glass, so that the ready cocktail contains no ice and is served “straight up”. 

4. Mai Tai:

The Mai Tai is a cocktail based on rum, Curaço liqueur and lime juice.   

  • 1 oz light rum
  • 1 oz dark rum
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz orange curacao 
  • 1/2 oz orgeat syrup 
  • Maraschino cherryfor garnish

Shake over ice.

5. Salted coconut espresso Martini

The espresso martini mythically came about because Kate Moss went into a bar in London and asked for something that “wakes me up and then fucks me up.” So Dick Bradsal who was in the bar at the time doing some work for a vodka company on the same day as some Illy coffee training was happening thought ‘caffeine + vodka… vodka espresso’. I’m not exactly sure what it did for Kate. 

The salted coconut element is just the fancy pants part, because, let’s face it, if you’re drinking THE five cocktails to exit the world with, why not go all out?